Passage of the Budget Control Act


I lack the energy to compose a thoughtful post sharing my opinion on today’s budgetary events. The more I read about it, about the dems, about the republicans, and about the tea party-ers, the more frustrated I become. Therefore, I offer you a list.

1. How ridiculous is it they titled this new law, “budget control?”

2. The manner in which our representatives are going about legislating this nation is appalling and irresponsible. They stall and stonewall until the last hours and minutes before a “deadline,” then rush legislation to the President’s desk. They had plenty of time — months! — to craft a good bill. One article I read said that Congress hasn’t passed a budget in over 800 days and that this new law gives them 2 more years until we reach another deadline like the one we just passed. They just keep kicking the can down the road. I am very concerned.

3. We need a leader.

4. How did my representatives vote?

  • Sen. Shelby – no
  • Sen. Sessions – no
  • Rep. Bacchus – yes

5. Bacchus seemed to justify his vote by saying that this bill wasn’t as expensive as TARP; therefore, this congress is better than the previous one. Has he forgotten that he has been a member since 1993?! He is Chairman of the Committee on Financial Services! Perhaps he’s been in Washington too long.

6. If I remember correctly, Bacchus has not had an opponent in a mighty long time. Surely, there’s a man in the 6th district who can do better for us. I don’t dislike Bacchus; he’s always been very responsive to my letters and phone calls. But the debt and entitlements have been THE issue for as long as I’ve been a voter. Like I said, we need a leader. There’s no reason he can’t come from my district.

7. This afternoon, as I read one report after another regarding this bill, an old School House Rock song came to mind. Does anyone else remember the song, “Tyrannosaurus Debt?” I enjoyed it (and felt kind of like Nero playing music while Rome burned).

There’s something huge, red, white, and blue that’s grazing in D.C.
It’s gobbling up the taxes that are paid by you and me.
It doesn’t seem to notice we really can’t afford
The billions that it’s costing us to pay its room and board.

It doesn’t roam, but seems content to dwell on Capitol Hill
As long as trucks keep pulling up with tons of greenback bills.
We’ve got to feed the big guy, we really can’t forget,
It has an awesome appetite, Tyrannosaurus Debt!

The debt was born in 1790 when our new government took over 75 million the colonies spent in the Revolutionary War.

We’ve got to feed the monster so it doesn’t get upset.
It’s got an awesome appetite, Tyrannosaurus Debt!

Alexander Hamilton, our first Secretary of the Treasury (he’s on the 10, ya know), wanted a federal debt to provide a reason to establish taxes to support our new nation.

The debt was young; they kept it small.
They didn’t know back then
In 1812 another war would make it grow again.
By ’66 the Civil War had cost the nation millions.
The government in Washington now had a debt of billions.

The Civil War ran up a debt of almost $3 billion. The debt still wasn’t paid off by WWI!

We’re spending money we don’t have or so it would appear.
The deficit is that amount we overspend each year.
Though Congressmen and Senators make vows to cut its size,
Despite their honest efforts the debt just seems to rise.

Now the debt’s over $5 trillion and still growing! (Ahem, make that $14 trillion.)

A balanced budget would be great to spend within our means,
And stop the monster in its tracks before we bust our seams.
It feeds on just the interest; its appetite is whet.
It never ever stops to rest, Tyrannosaurus Debt.

This is the U.S. Treasury. It sells treasury bonds, bills and notes, and saving bonds to finance the debt. The U.S. Government promises to pay the owner interest plus the value of each bond at uhh…future date.

We’ve got to try to tame the debt and bring it down to size.
To let it grow unchecked like this is certainly unwise.
The debt’s a monster problem that we really can’t ignore.
I guess we should be grateful that it’s not a carnivore.

We got to keep on servicing our trillion-dollar pet.
It’s got a monster appetite, Tyrannosaurus Debt!

A fiscal misadventure with trillion-dollar dentures — Tyrannosaurus Debt!

Feeding time is all the time!

 

Five Wrong Views about Christians and Government


Many moons ago, I wrote that I would blog through Wayne Grudem’s Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scripture. I blogged about the Introduction and haven’t mentioned it again. I want to try to return to it each week, but I’m unsure of the best way to go about it.

The chapters are rather lengthy. Chapter 1, one of the short chapters, is 31 pages. That may not seem like much, but the font is small; Grudem packs a lot in one page. The good thing is that, like his other books, it is very well-organized. However, simply providing an outline for each chapter will be rather lengthy.

Moving forward, I’ll write a very brief summary of each chapter, followed by the points that made me think the most.

Chapter 1: Five Wrong Views about Christians and Government

1. GOVERNMENT SHOULD COMPEL RELIGION

2. GOVERNMENT SHOULD EXCLUDE RELIGION

3. ALL GOVERNMENT IS EVIL AND DEMONIC

4. DO EVANGELISM, NOT POLITICS

5. DO POLITICS, NOT EVANGELISM

Wrong view #2 is most thought-provoking to me. His first point is that the “exclude religion from government” is wrong because “it fails to distinguish the reasons for the law from the content of the law.” He uses same-sex marriage as an example. “When the Iowa Supreme Court decided to impose same-sex ‘marriage’ on the state of Iowa…it notes that only 28.1% of Iowans supported it. The court then observed that ‘much of society rejects same-sex marriage due to sincere, deeply ingrained — even fundamental — religious belief.’ But such views should not be taken into account, said the court, because the Iowa constitution says, ‘The general assembly shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.’ In other words, limiting marriage to one man and one woman would be equivalent to ‘establishing’ a religion.”

He goes on: “When voters define marriage, they are not establishing a religion…These arguments try to make the word ‘religion’ in the Constitution mean something different from what it has always meant.”

This is one of those slippery slopes. If arguments like this one succeed in courts, they can be applied to any voting issue. Grudem writes, “[A]ll the votes of religious citizens for almost any issue could be found invalid by court decree!”

Second, it overrides the will of the people.

Third, it changes freedom of religion into freedom from religion.

Fourth, it wrongly restricts freedom of religion and freedom of speech. He cites a few examples of a high school valedictorian who was cut off in the middle of a speech because he/she mentioned Jesus, citizens who are excluded from juries, and religious people being forbidden to argue for amendments on their state constitutions. All of this because a court decided that basing decisions on religious reasons is not rational. He sums it up with this,

The nature of a free society requires that people should be able to base their political convictions on whatever reasoning process and whatever authority they prefer, and they should be free to attempt to persuade others that their reasoning is correct. We should protect people’s freedom to base their moral and political convictions on the dialogues of Plato if they want, or the teachings of Confucius or the Bible or the Jewish Talmud — or, I suppose, even a song by Bob Dylan if that is what they find persuasive. And if other voters choose to accept the reasoning put forth by the followers of Plato or Confucius or the Bible (or Bob Dylan!), then the Supreme Court should not take it upon itself to say that the reasons that voters used are not ‘rational’ reasons. It is not up to the Supreme Court to decide that some people’s votes are legitimate and some people’s votes are illegitimate.

After reading that section, I sat, like a deer stuck in the headlights, and tried to think of precedent, of ways courts can attempt to discern motives and intentions of voters in the ballot box. Election 2000 is certainly a precedent. Men and women in Florida were given the responsibility of determining a voters intent based on dimples and the hanging chad. In my mind, that’s just a side-step away from trying to determine a voter’s motive for voting a certain way. Nowadays, it wouldn’t take much research to figure out, based on my digital fingerprint and census information, how I might vote on a particular issue and the rationale behind my vote. It’d be easy for a court to throw out the votes in a whole county based on our demographics, internet history, buying history, church attendance, etc.

Fifth, this view was never adopted by the American people.

Sixth, this view removes from government God’s teaching about good and evil.

Seventh, the Bible itself does not offer support for this view in that there are many biblical examples of God’s people giving counsel to rulers.

Finally, the spiritual basis for the ‘exclude religion’ view is that its “ultimate goal…is not only the destruction of all belief in God, but also the complete moral disintegration of a society.” I think we are well on our way.

In chapter 2, Grudem offers a better solution to these five wrong views about Christians in government. He believes that Christians ought to have significant influence in government. I’m sure it’s a great chapter, but, because of our impending default, I’m going to skip to the chapter on economics for next week’s post. The subheadings for that chapter include: private property, economic development, the money supply, free markets and regulation, the rich and the poor, government and business, taxes, Social Security, health care, and the cure for recessions. We’ll see if Scripture has anything to say about those issues.

Endings


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Many young adults are lamenting the release of the 8th Harry Potter film. Not only because it means the end of a fantastic story, but it marks, for them, the end of childhood. The Sorcerer’s Stone was released when they were just beginning to enjoy reading. Over the past 13 years, these young folks have read the books over and over again. The movies only gave them more of Harry to enjoy. And now it’s all over.

What Harry Potter is for some in the generation behind me, NASA’s Space Shuttle is for me.

NASA events and research punctuate my childhood. I have vivid memories of huddling with other 4th graders in front of an 25″ t.v. screen in the school library to watch a shuttle launch. (Remember when schools only had one or two televisions for all the classrooms to share.) My teacher/school made a gigantic deal over the first school teacher to go into space; Christa McAuliffe was idolized. I’ll always remember the ’86 Challenger disaster.

Space Camp was a favorite movie. I loved to pretend I was an astronaut. NASA and its shuttle program were featured in countless issues of Weekly Reader. I learned about the research of Biosphere II and the coming moon settlement. The International Space Station was billed as my bridge to the future. Each year, I updated my encyclopedias with new articles from NASA. I followed the Voyager satellites on their treks across our solar system. I have ooh-ed and aah-ed over the images from Hubble. And through it all, the shuttle made space travel possible.

NASA’s mission of space exploration is not going to change — even now they are working on a way to safely convey men to Mars within the next few years. But that doesn’t mean I’m not saddened to see the end of the shuttle program.

Alabama lawmaker hopes to use Anthony trial to inspire new law – WLTZ 38 | Columbus Georgia Regional News & Community


An Alabama lawmaker is using the Casey Anthony trial to inspire change to laws in the state. Democratic Representative Juandalynn Givan of Birmingham says she has prepared a bill that would make it necessary for parents to report a missing child within 24 hours. The bill would also make it a felony for a parent, legal guardian or caretaker not to notify law enforcement within an hour after the death of a child.

Well, that didn’t take long. But is it really necessary?

Parents whose kids are seriously injured/die accidentally call 911 immediately. When parents and caregivers realize that a child is missing, they call police immediately. Parents who kill their children, however, avoid the authorities for as long as they can. OR they concoct a story and try to blame someone else or make it look like an accident. No amount of legislation is going to change that.

The prosecution team in the Anthony trial made an excellent point during closing arguments: People do not make accidental deaths look like murder.

Alabama lawmaker hopes to use Anthony trial to inspire new law – WLTZ 38 | Columbus Georgia Regional News & Community.

Our weekend


The festivities began Saturday morning and didn’t end until Sunday evening. We barely moved a muscle on Monday.

Early Saturday morning, my friend Jill (who ended up not moving, by the way) and I picked fresh vegetables at Ingram Farms. Mr. Ingram has I-don’t-know-how-many acres of land he is using for vegetables, fruit trees and vines, fishing holes, camping, hiking, nature observation, and horseback riding. We picked corn, peas, okra, squash, cabbage, tomatoes, and peppers. After picking, we went to our respective kitchens to cook for the evening’s festivities.

Our food was delicious. From our picking, I made okra and black-eyed peas. Jill made  Southern Living’s latest recipe for squash casserole, and it was a huge hit around my kitchen table. There wasn’t one bit left. Good thing it was “light!”

Our kids played, our husbands watched a movie, and the women sat around the table for conversation. We also drove out to a field of sunflowers to take a few pictures. Here’s one of Hannah taken by my friend April:

An isolated thunder storm interrupted our photo session, so we headed back to my house for homemade ice cream and fellowship.

Sunday, we did it all over again with some of our family. The cousins played while the grown ups watched True Grit. I made Chess Pie, which isn’t exactly chess pie, for dessert. A woman in our church makes this for fellowships, and it’s my favorite.

For the crust: 1 yellow cake mix, 1 stick softened butter, 1 egg; Combine and press into a 9 x 13 inch dish.

For the filling: 3/4 box of confectioner’s sugar, 2 eggs, 8 oz. cream cheese, 1 tsp vanilla; Combine and pour into crust.

Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes or until set. You could probably add any fruit flavor, i.e., lemon, to this “cake” and it would be delicious.

We had another little thunder storm Monday afternoon/evening, so we skipped going to the annual city fireworks extravaganza. Instead, we watched A Capitol Fourth. It was alright.

In between all the cooking, eating, and visiting we did, we also managed to catch the closing arguments for the Casey Anthony trial. It was all quite interesting, and, like most of my friends, I am still — many hours later — surprised that the jury found her not guilty. I may have some more to write on the topic later, but I have to leave my keyboard for now.