On Oct. 3, 2005, a Heritage Foundation Panel Discussed the Russian/Chinese Joint Military Exercises held in Sept 2005 - The Heritage Foundation’s discussion leaders were Harvey Feldman and Ariel Cohen. The panel was composed of journalists from Far Eastern countries. They wanted Far Eastern domestic reaction to the Chinese/Russian war exercises.
One of the participants, Michael Miyazawa, a Japanese newsletter publisher, took the opportunity to comment of the long history of Chinese civilization, much longer than the Western World, and its many achievements. He basically said that China’s fortunes rise and fall over the centuries, and that right now China is on a long steady ascendancy. China’s neighbors have lived with China’s ups and downs and are preparing once again for China’s new ascendancy. Additionally he implied that the US was going to have to accept a reduced role in the Western Pacific.
After Miyazawa finished, Feldman was critical of his comments saying the speaker did not limit his response to discussing how the Japanese had reacted to these particular exercises. Cohen felt Russia and China should not conduct such exercises without either the approval and/or the participation of the US. Miyazawa’s comments were, of course, most enlightening.
The comments by the representatives of the Heritage Foundation shows the arrogance of Washington's conservative leadership. They can't accept that America's time as the sole occupant of the pinnacle of economic and military power is quickly ending. U.S. budget and trade deficits are too high, and clearly America is headed for third world economic status. The birth rate has been decimated by legalized abortion; the decimation is so sever this country can not recruit enough soldiers to maintain adequate ground forces. Miyazawa's remarks were a polite warning to Washington's arrogant men about the future balance of power in the Pacfic basin. He was roundly critized. His point is being made on the Korean peninsula as all concerned parties more and more realize that China, not America, will ultimately determine whether nuclear weapons will be placed on top of North Korea's missles.
(prepared by Hugh Murray on 10/14/2005)
Harriet Miers brings a desirable combination of personal traits and life experiences to the Supreme Court - The high court has in recent years been populated by academics, appellate court judges, and political staffers. . The court needs variety. Ideally there should be a non lawyer or two on the court. However, if the candidate must be a lawyer, it is good to see a lawyer selected (1) who has worked as trial lawyers and dealt with normal people as they struggled with the uncertainty of the civil litigation and its sky high costs, (2) who has run a substantial enterprise, her law firm, and therefore understands the real life problems of making a payroll, hiring, firing, etc. and (3) who made a decision midway through her life for a more rigorous faith, a faith tied to strict religious belief.
I addition, Harriet Miers is desirable because she has lived most of her life away from Washington, because she is a little older (and hopefully wiser), and finally because she is a single woman and presumably knowledgeable about that important demographic group.
She suffers from being closely associated with Pres. Bush, who is obviously in way over his head.. People can’t help but think, even if only subconsciously, “Oh my God, she’s close to that bungler; she must be a feather head” The Senate should resist its unconscious urge to checkmate Ms. Miers and take a second hard look at her resume’.
.... (Prepared by Hugh Murray on 10/21/2005) .
Is George Bush more to be pitied than scorned? - His errors are so large, so numereous and so outrageous, he can’t be operating from ill motives but rather from an inability to think things through in a logical fashion
Consider the chain of Presidential decisions and consider the negative public impression these decisions generated: (1) When Bush came into office he was generally considered to be a good, faith-filled person, the not so bright son of a good political family, a “good old boy” from Texas, etc.. People had high expectations for quiet, scandal free presidency. (2) In his first year George W. Bush reacted to the government surplus with a large tax cut aimed particularly at the upper strata of society. This move added a couple new colorations to Bush. He was now seen as a friend of rich Americans and not very concerned about keeping the country’s finances in good shape. (3) After 9/11 Bush reacted with an exercise of American military power, not focused at the group(s) that had perpetrated the event, but against whole leadership groups in certain Muslim countries. This was not accompanied by peaceful outreach to moderate Muslims or any attempt to bring allies along in any significant way. State Department and Pentagon planners were ignored (or fired) when they pointed out difficulties with the Bush plan. This gave the impression that Bush was unwilling to accept the realities that limit the scope of human action. (4) Once engaged in the wars Bush arranged for huge reconstruction contracts to go to friends or friends of friends. At this point, the public had the impression that Bush was prepared to use his power to help not just rich people in general but specific rich people that were close to Bush or his friends. (5) Bush’s Medicare drug program seemed a ploy to buy “older citizen” support for his administration. The country was in debt and spending money on two wars. It was in no position to pay for such a new program. The thoughtful public now had the impression that Bush is prepared to ignore the fundamental economic facts he must have learned at Harvard. (6) The flood of people and products, legal and illegal entering the US are worrisome particularly when terror is now the weapon of choice of our enemies. The Bush administration is prepared to put straight jackets on good Americans, using things such as the Patriot Act, but they are not prepared to stem the tide of unscreened products and people flooding into America. The impression given by this is that Bush is unable to say “no” to rich friends, such as Vincente Fox, who prefer open boarders. (7) The tragedy of New Orleans was particularly instructive. Bush had striped Louisiana of its National Guard troops trained in public affairs for service in Iraq. As the storm approached, it was obvious those specially trained National Guard troops where going to be needed. Bush had “screwed up”. The locals were going to be overwhelmed just as the Pentagon planners had predicted might happen if a major disaster hit while an extended nation building effort was being conducted in Iraq by Reserves and National Guard forces trained in public affairs.. Bush lacked the ability to say I messed up. I didn’t listen to my advisors. Instead he decided to seclude himself at his Crawford getaway. Big men have the ability to say I messed up and I’ll do better. Little men seclude themselves. The public now has an impression of Bush’s character.
The question then is this - is George Bush a good old boy, who ignores realities, likes to throw around military power, is unable to say “no” to friends even if it puts Americans at risk, and is unwilling to acknowledge mistakes? This is very unlikely.
The more reasonable explanation seems to be the explanation posited by Dr. Justin Frank in his book, Bush on the Couch, and to a lesser extent Kitty Kelley in her book, The Family : The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty. They feel that Pres. Bush is learning impaired and emotionally handicapped.. The circumstances of his life, particularly his early life, over which he had limited control, caused mental impairments and handicaps.
Historians who study the presidency have noticed these patterns in George Bush and many feel he has a good chance of becoming America’s worst president. Or perhaps the second worse behind Franklin Pierce who was both grossly incompetent and a distant cousin of George W. Bush’s mother, whose maiden name was Barbara Pierce.
But who knows he may end up being designated a good or even a great president, like Abe Lincoln another war president who suffered from sever mental illness. Perhaps someone will study the connection between mental illness and the ability to be a “successful” war leader even if the scope, methods, and/or goals of the war were ill considered. . ............(prepared by Hugh Murray on Oct 22, 2005)
Secret Deliberations have Always been a Part of Constitutional Change- The original Constitutional convention lasted 55 days and was held in secret. A modern Supreme Court session is like the Constitutional convention in that its deliberations are held in secret. However, the original Constitution had to ratified by the states, but the Supreme Court’s decisions are just issued and the country has to “grin and bear it”.
....(prepared by Hugh Murray on 11/6/2005)
The Magisterium - Where does Defined Truth end and Proper use of Concience Begin - The Church has a wonderful magisterium that explains how scriptures, natural law, and tradition all mesh together to give Catholics an integrated belief structure for dealing with questions of faith and morals. But church leaders have to be prepared to speak clearly and quickly when important moral teaching are being challenged or undermined. If they don't these Church leaders are not living up to their duty and could actually commit sins of ommission.
The Magisterium is the authentic authoritative teaching of the Church. The good Catholic must submit his mind and will to this teaching whether said teaching has been promulgated by a council of the Church or by a Papal pronouncement such as an "ex cathedra" statement or more commonly as an encyclical.
For normal Catholics such authoritative teachings are to be found in: 1) the words of the liturgy, 2) the letters of local bishops read at Sunday Mass, 3) articles by the local bishop published in various newspapers, 4) the instruction given at Confession, and 5) the homilies delivered at Mass. For more studious Catholics there is always the option of reading Cannon Law, the Catechism, or the documents, statements and encyclicals themselves.
Today there is a great debate in the Church about how far the practicing Catholic must go in submitting to the magisterium of the Church. In other words, when may the Catholic begin to follow his conscience.
This issue is more hotly debated today because civil leaders, judges, and law makers in Western Europe and North America repeatedly opt to give people freedoms and/or legal courses of action which the Church holds are immoral. In the middle ages the civil law and Church law tended to line up with each other, in other words that which was immoral was also illegal. With the coming of the enlightenment some immoral items were dropped from the civil law, but everyone continued to understand that these were still immoral.
Today large organized groups actually push to have immoral things approved in law such that all society, including Catholics, must acquiesce or even participate in immorality. The youth including Catholic youth become confused and are pushed to conform to the fashion of the day. Many buy into one or more of the new fashions, they reject the teaching of the Church, but because of family tradition they want to remain in the Catholic Church. They then begin to look for ways to invoke the "right of conscience" to selectively override certain parts of the Magisterium.
This discussion has been rather theoretical. None of the most troubling governmental departures have been mentioned. Perhaps a short list would serve to refresh everyone recollection of the hottest of these hot issues: legalization of abortion, government funding of abortion, declaring a preemptive war, funding of preemptive war, participation in preemptive war, stem cell research, legalizing gay marriage, legalizing birth control pills, failing to adequately provide for the poor, authorizing the wholesale transfer of jobs overseas, etc. Some of these are clearly condemned by the magisterium of the Church; with others it is less clear.
Obviously legalizing abortion and government funding of abortion are clear violations and Archbishop Burke has said so in no uncertain terms and placed restriction on pro abortion Catholics who want to receive communion. One is thankful for Burke's action but one also asks where were Carbury, May and Rigali on these restrictions on communion.
A less clear situation is a government policy that authorizes and encourages the movement of 340,000 manufacturing jobs out of OHIO. Obviously the Church has spoken about the need for society to promote job creation so men can support their families, but its not clear that employing 340,000 Chinese instead of 340,000 Ohioans is not acceptable morally. Would a State Department official, who happened to be a Catholic, be committing a sin if he helped arrange for the loss of 340,000 jobs in the OHIO? Would his act be mitigated if he could say but I also arranged for the Chinese to hire 1000 lawyers and accountants at high salaries in New York to do their paperwork for the importation of the manufactured goods that the 340,000 Chinese will make in China for shipment back into OHIO for sale at WALMART?
While the Church has spoken clearly on abortion the Church's teaching on other issues is less than clear and leaves wiggle room, in other words it leaves room for an individual's conscience. Preemptive War in Iraq was a recent example. The Church's negative teaching on preemptive war through history is clear. However, when the US was getting ready for such a war the Church did not issue a letter to all American Catholics saying that participation or support for the war would be sinful. In theory, that would have changed the entire complexion of things for all Catholics and perhaps many Protestants as well. Instead the Church left the situation in a state of flux. Well informed Catholics knew a violation of the Church's injunction against preemptive war was about to occur. These Catholic saw the Pope's envoy come to America and discuss the issue with Pres. Bush. But the Pope never spoke publicly to Catholics on the issue.
The Church has a wonderful magisterium that explains how scriptures, natural law, and tradition all mesh together to give Catholics an integrated belief structure for dealing with questions of faith and morals. But church leaders have to be prepared to speak clearly and quickly when important moral teaching are being challenged or undermined. If they don't these Church leaders are not living up to their duty and could actually commit sins of omission. .... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 11/08/2005)
About a Shy and Retiring but Very Busy Person - There is a person about who inspired the scriptures, who assists in the Magisterium of the Church, who through the sacraments puts us in communion with Christ, who when we pray intercedes for us, and who manifests his holiness through the works of the saints.
This person reveals God to us, and makes Christ known to us. This person has been describe as the soul of the Church and the breath of God the Father. This person is so close to the Son that he has been described as holy oil completely covering our Savior. This Person has spoken through the prophets, has made us hear the words of the Father, but we do not hear this person speak directly. It is through the workings of this person that Transubstantiation occurs at Mass.
This person appears under many guises: a cloud, tongues of fire, poured water, a finger pointing, a hand outstretched, or a bird in flight. This person is God’s active force in the world, and yet eschews attention and urges all to focus their prayers on the Father or Son. This person has caused angels to appear to announce both Christ’s birth and his resurrection. And yet in both cases it was this retiring person who was responsible for these miraculous events. These occurrences had been foretold by the prophets, and it was this person who inspired these prophets.
This person was present on the first Pentecost Sunday to instill the assembled followers of Christ with the grace and understanding they needed to speak the gospel message and take up the challenge of carrying Christ’s message across the world. This person has continued to infuse grace when ever a prayer is said, or communion received, or sin confessed, or confirmation candidate anointed, or water poured in baptism, etc.
This person was in the cloud that Christ entered when he Ascended to heaven, this person was in the burning bush that Moses encountered. This person worked with the chosen people over the centuries attempting to show them outlines of salvation history. Certain prophets responded to this person’s inspiration, but their countrymen ignored or misconstrued their words.
This person has avoided the attention and adoration he deserves. This person has arranged for the common prayers of the Church to call to mind the Father and Son. Even certain saints get more attention than this person, even though this person was responsible for instilling the grace that allowed these saints to pray and do good works.
The Godhead is a deep mystery, however, there seems to be a division of labor in the Godhead which has assigned to this shy and retiring but very active person the day in day out duty of interacting with mankind, dispensing grace, acting as an interface with Christ, perhaps even maintaining all creatures in second by second existence. The Father and Son, on the other hand, seem to be assigned the heavenly duty of judging those that have died and supervising the angles and saints in heaven.
By now you have guessed who this person is. So now you can let him fade again into the back of your memory behind God the Father, behind Christ our savior, behind St. Mary, perhaps behind St. Francis, or St Theresa, or St. Paul, etc. This is the degree of attention this very perfect, very powerful, very loving person seems to desire...(prepared by Hugh Murray in Aug 2003)
America’s Current Challenge, How to Undo the Excessive Centralization of Power Wrought by the Civil War - Since the Civil War, local people have lost power and those in DC mostly lobbyists (and in some cases even foreigners) have gained power. Money is more important in achieving political office than rapport with voters, television is a more important communication method than personal contact (eg door to door, coffees, etc.). The following proposal is designed to address some of these problems. It strives to counter the centralizing tendencies that developed after the Civil War
The proposal would have each state designate one of its state legislative bodies as having one seat for each 30,000 votes cast in the last presidential election. The proposal would call for the persons elected to fill these state legislative posts to also hold one of that state’s seats in the lower house of the Congress. The term of office would be four years for both legislative positions with a four term limit in both cases. The election for these “combo” legislative posts would be in non presidential years ideally exactly 12 months after each presidential election. The proposal would also call for these combo legislators to cast their votes only from their state capital buildings (and perhaps from one location in their home districts as well). Congressional votes to be held only during eight hours set aside in every second week. Votes to be collected by the Internet between 3PM and 7PM Eastern time every second Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday..
Oversight committee hearings, conferences, and mark up sessions would be conducted via the Internet with new conferencing technologies. The size of some committees might have to be reduced. Senior members might travel to DC once a month for a few days (during non voting weeks) to engage in party organizing meetings and to have face to face encounters. One week a quarter all members (approximately 3500) would meet for four to six days at a convention center someplace other than DC to get to know each other and hear speeches or debates by experts on key issues..
State legislative business for these “combo” legislators would be conducted when these legislators were not engaged in Federal business. The “combo” legislators salary and benefits would be set by the state legislature and could be no more than the salary of the governor of the legislator’s state. Campaign finance rules governing the election of the respective state legislators would govern the campaigns of these “combo” legislators, and Federal election laws would not apply to these “combo” legislators.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of this proposal. The most obvious is making the legislators more responsive to the voters; elections involving 600,000 people become big money, big media campaigns with TV ads playing a most important role. Elections involving perhaps 40,000 to 50,000 potential voters become campaigns where personal contact (door to door, etc.) is more important than media. Another important benefit of having these “combo” legislators vote from their state capitals is the reduced effect of lobbyists and party leaders on key votes. A legislator voting back home should be more sensitive to his constitutes and less sensitive to money interests. The next advantage is tying the legislative seat to the presidential vote not the number of registered voters, or citizens or population as is done today. Those areas that get out and vote (in other words “participate”) should be entitled to more representation. Because of the dispersion built into the new structure, legislative proposals will have to be in final form at least 4 days before they are voted on and the rules governing legislative voting will have to be more standardized. These will force the leaders of the majority party to forswear the “tricks” they have used in the past such as springing legislation on their fellow legislators without allowing members to read and understand the legislation, and rules that restrict substitute legislative proposals, etc. Rules governing the presentment of bills and votes would necessarily have to be standardized and predictable. Finally “combo” legislators are going to be very sensitive to federal enactments that impinge on the states because they will also have to pass state laws that implement Federal mandates. (The founders had wanted to have the state legislatures elect US Senators thus creating a linkage between state and federal legislators. This new proposal uses the Internet to make that bond even closer by vesting some legislative control at both the federal and state levels in the same individuals.)
The principal disadvantage is the amount of work that these “combo” legislator will have. They will have to be “mid level” experts on many state and federal issues simultaneously. But they will be relieved of much fund raising activity and constituent service because of the smaller districts. They will generally spend less time traveling. The second disadvantage is the reduction in accountability that comes from a four year term as opposed to a two year term. Third, a four year redistricting redistrict will require that computers not legislative committees be used to create new districts. The computers will be given the rules and have the new districts within hours. Fourth of the number of lower house members of the US Congress would rise or fall every redistricting cycle, this makes it a little more difficult to educate civics students who today only have to remember the number 435.
Here are a few “add on” proposals and other ideas that might improve this proposal in particular and government in general: First, the drawing of districts should be done is such a way that no district is more or less than 7% away from the vote percentage that the winning presidential candidate got state wide. That means that if Presidential candidate “A” won with 54% state wide, no “combo” district could have more than 61% for that presidential candidate or less than 47% for that same Presidential candidate. This would create more competitive districts and eliminate “safe seats”. Second, 50% the Federal budget might be collected by Federal taxes (ie tariffs, Federal income taxes, etc.) with the other 50% divided by formula and allocated to the states (the formula taking into consideration state population and average family income) with each state deciding how to collect (or extract) its allocation from its citizens. That might mean more sales tax in some states and more state income tax in others. Third, the Supreme Court would have to be strictly prohibited from “messing up” arrangements with such ideas as “one man one vote” defining one man as any human being whether citizen or not, whether registered voter or not etc. or such ideas a racial quotas in electoral results effecting district boundaries. Fourth, states might be required to use computer programs to redraw districts. This would spare the legislature from this difficult task (this process is elaborated on below). Fifth, if no candidate gets 50% plus one in the initial election a run off election should be required. Sixth, independent candidates should encouraged to run and should be given financial help from the organized political parties and individual contributors. Perhaps any political contributor giving to a major party or major party candidate would have 20% of his contribution go to fund to help independent and third party candidates. For example, if the Democratic party gives $10,000 to its candidate, the party would also have to give $2,500 to fund independent candidates. Seventh, there would have to be at least four business days from the time the bill is posted on the Internet until it could be voted on. There could be no more situations where the Congressmen get a copy of the legislation as they walk in to vote on that bill. Eight, percentages of GNP should become a required part of each spending measure. These percentages could be hard and the dollars associated with these percentages should be a range (derived by applying the fixed percentage applied to the CBO’s high tax collection estimates and the fixed percentage applied to the low CBO low tax collection estimates) Each bill would be required to contain instructions on how the low spending level should be obtained if cuts were needed (eg cut all salaries by 5%). The same percentage idea should be applied to the percentage of GDP which various categories of imports can comprise (eg autos and auto parts can comprise no more than 2% of GDP). Ninth, when a Presidential election is held there should always be a “none of the above option” on the ballot. This would provide a mechanism for a voter to be counted for apportionment purposes without being forced to support one of the presidential candidates
The computer redistricting rules that would redistrict are very important and need to be set out: 1) The shape of existing districts would change no more than 10% (which would mean that the each new district must have between 90% and 110% of the polling areas contained in the old district), 2) the “7% plus or minus rule” from the Presidential statewide percentage should come next as a defining rule, 3) communities of interest should respected so that rural counties, towns, and villages are kept in one district if possible, 4) districts should be compact, and 5) cities and larger metropolitan areas shall be considered one community of interest and the computer will be allowed to generate (as a last resort) “three member districts” containing 90,000 not 30,000 presidential voters where candidates will run “at large”. These “three member districts” will be needed where housing patterns have concentrated low income people (historically heavy Democrat areas) in one area and high income people in another area (historically heavy Republican areas). The computer could deal with these concentrations and still meet the “7% plus or minus rule” by combining areas that are grossly above the 7% guideline with areas that are grossly below the 7% guideline .............. (prepared by Hugh Murray on 12/26/2005)
A Rotary Invocation to the Clayton-Ladue Rotary Club....Let us bow our heads
We come bringing thanks for our successes, honors, friendships, and families, We come for conviviality and friendly exchange. We come to share food and to learn about those in need of help. We come to sacrifice our time and money to alleviate the ignorance, the pain and the suffering of others.
All these things remind us of a time, two thousand years ago, when a perfect man, who had been born in a stable, was received with honor and pageantry into the most important city in his region ; he rode slowly as the people spread palm laurels before his donkey . We recall the gathering of this man with his friends a few days later for a Passover supper (a meal not unlike our lunch today) filled with conviviality and friendship; but this meal came to a point where the conversation turned to sacrifice for others. At this meal two thousand years ago, the sacrifice discussed was going to be the death of this perfect man., a death that was required as an expiation for all the sins of all men for all time.
And so God we thank you for this meal, but we also thank you for this Rotary based opportunity to mimic, in some small way, the events surrounding this extremely generous sacrifice of 2000 years ago ..... (prepared by Hugh Murray on 12/31/05).
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