We consider ourselves fairly typical Americans. It was a few nights before the Fourth of July, decidedly my least favorite night of the year. We were in our living room, sitting on our asses and watching TV. Like I said, typical.
Suddenly there was a boom. I looked out the front window and billowing smoke rose from our front yard garden. It had begun.
“Those fireworks are close,” I said. “Damn close.” The shit was literally raining down right on top of us.
On July 4th itself I went outside to see what the hell was going on. I saw one of those colorful bursts like you’d see in any major fireworks display except it was directly over my house. It went off about 20-30 feet over our roof. Two things were immediately obvious: Why don’t they do this shit above their own houses? They’re too good for that! And, wow, they are really good shots. We were being targeted.
Continue reading →
I am proud to be an American.
Whoa! What the fuck was that? And, more importantly, who’s going to help me change my diaper?
So let me get this straight. You love America, too. And to prove it you’re going to make something go boom boom. Do you mind if I get some background information? Are you the same guy from elementary school who got paper towels wet and threw them into ceiling lights until they blew up? Are you the one who was so fascinated with fire that he set his junior high school locker ablaze? Do you think shooting a gun up in the air is good clean fun? No, no, don’t tell me. Let me guess. All the same guy, right?
Just in case you doubt my cred to discuss this topic, please know that one time I visited the game store where
my son the gerbil liked to hang out. Staff regaled with me with stories of my son’s exploits in the back parking lot shooting bottle rockets using his ass as the launch platform. So I think I’m qualified!
In 2012, 60-percent of the year’s fireworks injuries occurred between June 22nd and July 22nd, sending an average of 200 people per day to the hospital. … All six fireworks-related deaths that happened last year involved illegal or homemade fireworks.
–Source: All the Amazing Facts About Your Fireworks Injury (Gizmodo)
Fireworks are a product. I know for a fact that those who make them have a profit motive. What I secretly suspect, however, is that they also hate America and are out to conquer us one body part at a time. Yes, it’s a theory, but it fits the available facts, dammit!
There’s no such thing as a zero error rate in the manufacture of products. Stay with me here. I’m building a logical proof piece by piece (if you’ll pardon the expression). That means some percentage of fireworks legally sold in this country are inherently flawed. Use of those products is, therefore, a calculated risk. Fuck that. I’ll stick with the craps table. I deem that to be an acceptable level of risk, but hey, that’s how I roll. Your mileage may vary.
Some, like me, might argue further that just the existence of the product is an intentional design flaw, but I won’t go there.
I’ll just say, like I am often wont to do, “What could possibly go wrong?” Life is dangerous enough. Why do we deliberately go out of our way to do nonsensical things that have no logical purpose that increase the odds against us? That makes absolutely no sense to me.
At ease, people. Blow ’em up if you got ’em.
BTW, the fireworks we give to youngsters make a lot more sense. Sparklers. So pretty. And what are they? Pieces of metal burning at temperatures up to 2,000 degrees or about as hot as a blow torch.
What could possibly go wrong? (Oops. There I go again.) I can’t understand how sparklers are responsible for 12 percent of reported fireworks-related injuries.
China, the largest creditor of the United States, has been in the news of late. On Sunday the CBS news program 60 Minutes had a story about a Chinese company called Huawei, a company that makes internet and networking equipment like routers, switches, and has the capability to build things like 4G networks. Huawei has become the largest telecommunications equipment maker in the world.
I’d never heard of Huawei before but apparently my iMac already has. As I write this post the text “Huawei” is already recognized by my inline spellchecker dictionary.
A U.S. congressional report recently released worried that Huawei and ZTE Corp., another Chinese company, have become too powerful and are a potential threat to U.S. national security. The report was produced over the last 11-months by the U.S. House of Representatives’ Intelligence Committee and concludes that the companies could be working with the Chinese government for non-commercial reasons.
Today is Independence Day. This holiday commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration of Independence is an amazing document. Luckily, it is of sufficient strength to be impervious to being waved about for crass short-term political nefariousness from the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and others.
In honor of the occasion, I’d like to share a few thoughts, opinions and facts regarding the document that announced the thirteen American colonies had become independent states and how it came to be used (by some) as an instrument to denounce the concept of the separation between church and state.
The Declaration of Independence was primarily written by Thomas Jefferson, who was one member of a “Committee of Five” appointed by Congress to draft the declaration. That committee determine that Jefferson should write the first draft. That draft was written within 17 days between June 11 and June 28, 1776. After consulting with others, Jefferson produced another copy which was then presented to Congress on June 28, 1776.
The vote for independence took place on July 2, 1776. The resolution of independence was adopted with twelve affirmative votes and one abstention. (The delegates from New York were not authorized to vote for independence.) In a letter to his wife, John Adams predicted the date would become a great American holiday. Continue reading →
Some of y’all may remember a young feller from Texas that came this way once.
His name was George W. Bush although we all just called him Dubya.
Back in 2000, some folks thought he was elected to be our president. To this day some folks still dispute that. But that’s not what I came here to say.
He was inaugurated as our president on January 20, 2001.
He had a lot to do and didn’t waste a lot of time. For example, did you know, that just nine days later, using the presidential power of an “executive order” he created the OFBCI?
You’re all familiar with the OFBCI, right? No? Well, I can tell you this much. It stands for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
What? “Faith-based” stuff in our federal government? Yeah, I know. Weird.
The OFBCI is an office within the White House Office that is part of the Executive Office of the President of the United States.
The purpose of the OFBCI was to fulfill campaign promises made by Bush in regards to “compassionate conservatism.” Huh? Say what? I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that’s a phrase you haven’t heard about in a long, long time! Now I wonder why that might be?
What ever happened to this grand vision of conservatism that helped Bush win his way into the White House? That’s a good question.
I submit that Bush’s wholesale abandonment of compassionate conservatism may very well be one of the biggest “flip flops” in the history of U.S. politics. Ironic, eh? Yes, at first he kept his promise by creating the OFBCI, but then, as his presidency ground on, what did he do about it except lip service, if even that?
You might think Obama wouldn’t stand for a faith-based office in his White House. You’d be wrong. He kept the office, although he renamed it to be the “White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.”
Some people (like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh) will shout loudly that the phrase “separation of church and state” doesn’t appear in the U.S. Constitution. They are correct. Of course, neither do the words God, creator or maker. Yes, they are always quick to point out that the Declaration of Independence mentions a “Creator.” But that word didn’t originally appear in the draft by Thomas Jefferson or the copy that John Adams wrote in his own hand. It got in there some other way before it was signed. Additionally, that document, wonderful as it is, has no legal bearing on our legal system today. That, of course, comes from the U.S. Constitution. When is the last time you ever heard of an indepencian law? Yeah, I thought so.
What is the truth about what the founding fathers wanted? Many are quick to claim that they wanted this or they wanted that. I merely cling to the position: If they wanted this to be a Christian nation, wouldn’t they have bothered to actually mention it in our most basic legal document?
What’s scarier than someone with a gun? Someone with a gun and an imaginary friend. (Or a nuclear arsenal.) Someone who believes apocryphal myths (rather than verifiable facts) about the past to support his actions and beliefs today.
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Glenn Beck says America should be about believing in God. Do you think he’s right about that?
What do you think was most important to the “founding fathers?” Freedom? Individual rights vs. the state? Or that we must have a belief in God and laws based on the same?
Which document, do you think, was intended to have more sway over our daily lives?
The other day I was flipping through channels and I saw television commentator Glenn Beck on the FOX News Channel hosting some kind of TV show. The studio audience seemed to be comprised mostly of young people. With Beck on stage was a man who would offer up comments regarding things that Beck said. I wish I could find a link to this show but I tried and was not successful.
I admit, I’m not a regular watcher of Beck. But I was momentarily curious. What were my impressions of the man? I have to admit the way he talked was really off-putting. His tone was histrionic and what he had to say seemed to me to be quite full of puffery. That’s just my opinion.
On this particular occasion he was frothing at the mouth about God and the Declaration of Independence. I’ll admit the obvious right up front. Beck is correct. That document clearly talks about a “creator” and so forth.
So what does that mean? That we’re supposed to be a “Christian nation?” That’s what Beck wants you to think. Be a critical thinker, though, and don’t take his word for it. Dig a little deeper.
The purpose of the Declaration of Independence: To announce and explain separation from Great Britain.
The purpose of the Constitution: A national constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation.
Again I ask, which document do you think is supposed to hold more sway over our laws and how we live our lives?
Beck is correct that the Declaration of Independence mentions a “creator.” But what is he leaving out? What you don’t hear him spouting off about all the time is that the Constitution is strangely silent on the subject of God.
The following words do not appear in the original United States Constitution: God, creator, maker, Christ, Christianity, and religion*. Search the text for yourself and see!
The word “religious” does show up one single time, but it’s not exactly a powerful statement that the founding fathers wanted religion entwined with government. In fact, it says the exact opposite:
From Article VI. “… no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
To my simple mind, this disconnect raises an immediate and important question: If the founding fathers were so concerned about God, why did they fail to broach the subject even a single time in the Constitution? The document that they intended to be the very foundation for our country?
I can see why Beck prefers to avoid bringing attention to this sort of thing. But that doesn’t stop him from appearing on stage with an “expert” and declaring that the word “creator” in a different document means that we’re supposed to be a Christian nation.
In fact, the only logical conclusion that can be drawn from the God disconnect between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution is that the authors of the Constitution deliberately went out of their way to keep God out. I mean, what else? You think they forgot? I don’t think so. They seemed to put an awful lot of thought into the Constitution. I find it hard to imagine that they would forget about God unless it was deliberate.
All the puffery and histrionics in the world can’t get around the fact that God is missing from the Constitution and that the founding fathers didn’t want religious beliefs to dictate who could hold office.
One last point: What is “freedom of religion?” That comes from the First Amendment which prohibits the federal government from making a law “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This was later expanded to state and local governments by the Fourteenth Amendment.
Now for a geometrical proof regarding the “free exercise” of religion:
- The Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion in the United States.
- This guarantees every American the right to choose their own religious beliefs (or even have none at all).
- By definition and as required by the Constitution, therefore the United States is not a “Christian” nation.
If every American has the right to believe what they want about God and religion, how can there be any requirement that we are a Christian nation? Such a requirement, even if it did exist, would be a direct violation of the Constitution. We’re all free to worship trees or be atheists or be whatever we want to be. It just so happens that most of us are Christians, but that is not a requirement of being an American. According to the Constitution you don’t have to believe in God at all if you don’t want.
That’s not the way Beck wants it, though. Beck believes that a belief in God is a requirement to being a good American. If so, what happens then? Can religious beliefs other than the most popular be legally discriminated against? Can you be excluded from housing based on having the “wrong” belief? Turned away from a job? Jailed? Burned at the stake? Where are these lines, how are they drawn, and who is going to be deciding how every American’s beliefs will be evaluated and legally acted upon?
By the way, Thomas Jefferson was the first to advocate the concept of the separation of church and state in this letter.
Beck is wrong. God does not belong in politics. God has nothing to do with being an American.
Related reading: You don’t have the Constitution for that
* Except for the First Amendment. The word “religion” does appear there.