We the People — Part 15

“Christmas is the time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it.  Deficits are when adults tell government what they want and their kids pay for it.”  ~Richard Lamm

By Alden Benton

Proposition 64 seeks to legalize and tax the cultivation and sale of marijuana in California.

Under current California law, it is illegal to grow, possess, or use marijuana.  However, in 1996, voters passed a ballot measure allowing anyone, with a recommendation of a doctor, to use marijuana for medical purposes.  In 2003, the state legislature legalized medical marijuana collectives.  The collectives are unlicensed nonprofit organizations that may grow and sell marijuana for medical purposes.

News laws require regulations to control medical marijuana including standards for labeling, testing, and packaging of medical marijuana products and a system to track the products from production through sale.  These laws replace medical marijuana collectives with state licensed businesses.  Six state agencies are responsible enforcing these new regulations.

California currently collects sales tax on the sale of medical marijuana, as do some cities.

Proposition 64 changes state law to:

  • Legalize adult nonmedical use of marijuana,
  • Create a system for regulating non-medical marijuana businesses,
  • Impose taxes on marijuana, and
  • Change penalties for marijuana-related crimes.

Under Proposition 64, adults over 21 may use marijuana for non-medical reasons.  This measure, however, prohibits certain activities.  This proposal prohibits

  • Smoking marijuana while driving,
  • Smoking marijuana in a public place other than a business licensed for on-site consumption, or
  • Smoking marijuana anywhere that smoking tobacco is prohibited.

Proposition 64 also prohibits possession of marijuana on the grounds of a school, day care center, or youth center where children are present.  In addition, this measure prohibits growing marijuana in an unlocked area or in an area visible from a public place.  It also prohibits providing marijuana to minor under 21 for non-medical use.

Adults must purchase marijuana from state licensed businesses or delivery services.  These businesses cannot be within 600 feet of a school, day care center, or youth center. 

Proposition 64 also prohibits businesses licensed to sell marijuana from selling alcohol or tobacco products and prohibits on-site consumption unless authorized by local governments.  If local government approves on-site consumption, Proposition 64 still prohibits consumption within the sight of minors, or in areas visible from a public place. 

This measure prohibits on-site consumption of alcohol or tobacco products in businesses that allow on-site marijuana use.

Proposition 64 does not change the way marijuana is regulated.  The rules that currently apply to medical marijuana apply to non-medical marijuana.  The only change is the name of the regulatory agency to the Bureau of Marijuana Control.

Under Proposition 64, local governments can further regulate non-medical marijuana use including banning it.  Local governments cannot ban the transportation of marijuana through their jurisdictions.

This measure imposes new state taxes on growing and selling marijuana.  The state growing tax is $9.25 per ounce of dried marijuana flower and $2.75 per ounce of dried leaves.  This measure also imposes a 15 per cent excise tax based upon the retail value of marijuana products sold.

Medical-marijuana is currently subject to state sales tax.  Proposition 64 exempts medical marijuana from sales taxes but imposes the sales tax on non-medical marijuana sales.  Local governments may add additional taxes on all marijuana sales.

Proposition 64 creates the California Marijuana Tax Fund.  Revenue from the state growing and retail excises taxes and some fines go to this fund.  This measure specifies the distribution of these funds as follows:

  • Reimbursement of regulatory agencies for costs greater than licensing revenue,
  • Beginning 2018, allocates funds for annual grants from $10 million to $50 million for communities most affected by past drug policies,
  • Allocates $10 million annually through 2029 to evaluate the effects of this measure,
  • Allocates $3 million annually through 2023 to create and adopt methods to determine if an individual is driving while impaired by marijuana, and
  • Allocates $2 million annually for the study of the risks and benefits of medical marijuana.

Allocation of remaining fund revenues is as follows:

  • 60 per cent for youth programs,
  • 20 per cent to clean up and prevent environmental damage from illegal marijuana growing,
  • 20 per cent for programs to reduce driving under the influence of drugs, marijuana, and alcohol, and a grant program to reduce negative impacts on public health and safety arising from the passage of this measure.

 


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We the People — Part 14

“Liberty must at all hazards be supported.  We have a right to it, derived from our Maker.  But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood.”
~ John Adams

By Alden Benton

Proposition 63 asks voters to change some of the regulations governing firearms and ammunition sales, and ownership of large-capacity magazines.

Under current California and federal law, people convicted of felonies, the mentally ill found to be a danger to themselves or others, and anyone with a restraining order against them, cannot own a firearm.  These individuals are prohibited persons.

In California, if you cannot own a gun, you also cannot have ammunition.  California also requires removing firearms from those prohibited from owning them.

Federal and state laws further regulate the sale of firearms.  Firearms dealers are required to do a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) before selling a firearm.

California law also limits the types of firearms that an individual can buy, requires a 10-day waiting period before delivering the firearm to the buyer, as well as specific requirements for recording and reporting firearms sales.

This year, the state legislature enacted legislation to regulate ammunition sales in California.  This legislation includes the following provisions:

  • Beginning January 2018, individuals, and businesses, must obtain a one-year license from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to sell ammunition.
  • To obtain a license, ammunition dealers will need to demonstrate that they are not prohibited persons.
  • Firearms dealers licensed by both the state and federal governments and firearm wholesalers will receive a California license automatically,
  • Requires that most ammunition sales, including out-of-state and internet sales, take place through a licensed ammunition dealer,
  • Beginning July 2019, most Californians cannot bring ammunition into the state without first having it delivered to a licensed ammunition dealer.

California has also passed legislation to limit ownership of large-capacity magazines and created a penalty for filing a false report of a lost or stolen firearm.

Proposition 63 changes the way the state regulates ammunition sales, and creates a new court process to ensure the removal of firearms from prohibited persons.  Prohibited individuals must:

  1. Turn over their firearms to local law enforcement,
  2. Sell the firearms to a licensed firearm dealer, or
  3. Give the firearms to a licensed firearm dealer for storage.

This measure also requires courts to assign probation officers to report on what offenders have done with their firearms.

Proposition 63 requires individuals to obtain a four-year permit from the Department of Justice (DOJ) to buy ammunition.  It requires ammunition dealers to check with DOJ to ensure individuals buying ammunition have a permit.

This proposition also requires the DOJ to revoke permits of individuals prohibited from owning guns/ammunition.  In addition, Proposition 63 allows the DOJ to charge up to $50 for a four-year permit.

Proposition 63 requires ammunition dealers report the loss or theft of ammunition within 48 hours and individuals to report the loss or theft of firearms within 5 days.

Since 2000, California has banned ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds.  The law allows an exception if the magazine was purchased before 2000.

Beginning in July 2017, current law prohibits owning a large-capacity magazine but does allow limited exemptions.  Proposition 63 eliminates many of these exemptions and increases the penalty for possessing a large-capacity magazine.

The current penalty for theft of a firearm worth less than $950 is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in a county jail.  Proposition 63 makes this crime a felony with a penalty of up to three years in state prison.

Proposition 63 would prohibit individuals previously convicted of misdemeanor firearms theft from owning a firearm for 10 years.  Current law does not contain this provision.

There are a number of fiscal effects of Proposition 63. 

According to the California Legislative Analyst, increased court and law enforcement costs could increase by more than $10 million dollars per year. 

This measure increases state regulatory costs.  However, fees imposed by this measure could offset the regulatory costs.

Finally, Proposition 63 creates a net increase in correctional costs that, according to the California Legislative Analyst would, “likely not exceed the low millions of dollars annually.”


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We the People — Part 13

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
~George Orwell

By Alden Benton

Proposition 62 eliminates the death penalty in California for first-degree murder and replaces it with imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole.  This measure requires current offenders sentenced to death be re-sentenced to life without parole.

Current California law requires inmates to work, including those convicted of murder.  The state withholds a percentage of inmate wages to pay restitution to their victims.  Proposition 62 increases the maximum withholding from 50 per cent to 60 per cent for inmates sentenced or resentenced to life without parole.

The California Legislative Analyst estimates that Proposition 62 would reduce net state and county costs related to murder trials, legal challenges to death sentences, and prisons.  Estimated cost reductions are approximately $150 million per year.

“There are two types of education: One should teach us how to make a living, and the other how to live.”
~John Adams


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We the People — Part 12

“Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.
~John Adams

By Alden Benton

Proposition 61 seeks to reduce the cost of drugs various state agencies purchase.  State drug purchases account for half of all drug purchases in California.

Currently, California spends $3.8 billion per year on eight major programs.  The programs include Medi‑Cal for low income Californians ($1.8 billion) and coverage for public employees, their dependents, and retirees in the Public Employees Retirement System ($1.3 billion).

California agencies negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to obtain prices below the list price.  Many of these prices are not public knowledge due to the protection of confidentiality agreements.

The Veterans Administration (VA) provides comprehensive healthcare to more than 9 million veterans nationwide.  The federal government has programs in place that set limits on the amounts federal agencies pay for drugs, including the VA. 

In addition, like California, the VA also negotiates with pharmaceutical companies further reducing drug prices.  Confidentiality agreements keep many of these negotiated prices from public view.

Proposition 61 prohibits state agencies from paying more for a prescription drug than the lowest price paid by the VA for the same drug after all discounts.  This proposal only applies when the state pays for the prescription whether by direct payment or via reimbursing pharmacies.

Nearly one-third of California’s population receives Medi‑Cal benefits.  Medi‑Cal provides benefits through two different systems, a fee for services program that serves about 25 per cent of its enrollees, and a managed care system that provides benefits to 75 per cent of its beneficiaries. 

Proposition 61 exempts the Medi‑Cal Managed Care system from its provisions.  In addition, this measure requires the Department of Health Care Services verify that state agencies are paying the same or less than the lowest price paid by the VA on a drug-by-drug basis.

This proposition potentially reduces state spending for providing prescription drugs.  However, according to the California Legislative Analyst the fiscal effects are uncertain.

Since confidentiality agreements obscure the cost of many prescription drugs purchased through the VA, the savings to California may be less.

The response of pharmaceutical companies is also a factor in how much the state saves.  Pharmaceutical companies are profit-driven.  To make up for lower revenues and profits, pharmaceutical companies could raise their prices or negotiate smaller discounts.

Because of these uncertainties, the California Legislative Analyst says the fiscal effects of Proposition 61 are uncertain.


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We the People — Part 11

“Premised on mistrust of governmental power, the First Amendment stands against attempts to disfavor certain subjects or viewpoints.”
~Justice Anthony Kennedy

By Alden Benton

Proposition 60 asks voters to increase regulations on the adult film industry.

This proposal requires adult film producers to provide condoms and condom-safe lubricants.  Additionally, Proposition 60 requires that the costs of certain vaccinations, testing, and medical monitoring relative to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections be paid by adult film producers. 

This measure also grants adult film performers a right of to sue to recover civil damages for economic or personal injury caused by adult film producers’ failure to comply with health and safety requirements.

Proposition 60 requires regulations be adopted to enforce its provisons by January 1, 2018.

Under the provisions of this measure, within 10 days of the beginning of filming, adult film producers must, disclose the following:

  1. The addresses of the filming,
  2. Dates of the filming, and
  3. The name and contact information of both the producer and the mandated custodian of records.

This proposal mandates adult film producers to appoint a custodian who will maintain copies of required paperwork and evidence of compliance with this measure.

This measure also requires disclosure of the name and contact information of any talent agencies that provide performers to the producer.

The adult film producer must also certify:

  1. When filming certain sexual acts condoms are used,
  2. STD testing, vaccinations, and medical exams were offered, and
  3. The producer paid the costs of the medical testing.

Every time producers submit the required paperwork, they must pay a $100 licensing fee to cover administrative cost required by this measure.  Fines for noncompliance range from $1,000 to $7,000 for each violation and repeat violations receive fines from $7,000 to $15,000.

A producer faces fines of up to $70,000 if the producer knowingly falsifies information required by this measure.

Proposition 60 requires a 2/3 vote of the legislature to amend its provisions.


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We the People — Part 10

“First Amendment freedoms need breathing space to survive.”  
~ Chief Justice John Roberts

By Alden Benton

Proposition 59 is a Legislative Advisory question.  In effect, this proposition is a statewide opinion poll asking California voters whether the legislature should use its powers to propose and ratify an amendment to the United States Constitution that would overturn the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

While Proposition 59 is a straightforward measure, to make an informed decision voters need to understand the process of amending the U.S. Constitution.  Additionally, voters need to understand the implications of the Citizens United case.

There are two ways to amend the United States Constitution.  First, both the House of Representatives and the Senate must pass an amendment proposed by Congress by a two‑thirds vote of each house.  Congress then submits the amendment to the state legislatures.  If 38 state legislatures approve the amendment, it becomes part of the Constitution.

Alternatively, a constitutional convention called by two‑thirds of the state legislatures may propose and ratify amendments.  Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, none came from a constitutional convention.

Citizens United is a case brought before the United States Supreme Court decided in 2010.

Citizens United is a non-profit corporation whose budget comes primarily from individual donors with a smaller amount coming from donations by for-profit corporations. 

During the 2008 presidential primaries, Citizens United released the film Hillary: The Movie.  This movie is a documentary about then-Senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

A cable company offered to run Hillary: The Movie on-demand at no cost to viewers.  Citizen United would pay a fee of $1.2 million to make the movie available.  The Federal Election Commission (FEC) stopped this arrangement saying it violated campaign-funding laws.  (See Citizens United 558 U.S. 310 (2010)

At the time, Campaign-funding laws prohibited corporations and unions from using general treasury funds to make direct contributions to candidates or to advocate the election or defeat of a candidate.

In addition, corporations could not use corporate or union funds for advocacy or electioneering communications, but could form a separate “segregated” fund for these purposes.  These “segregated” funds are Political Action Committees (PACs).  Contributions to PACs may only come from employees, members, or stockholders.

Citizens United sued the FEC, claiming these provisions were unconstitutional.  The U.S. District Court denied the Citizens United request for an injunction and stated the regulation in question was constitutional.  Citizens United appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

In the court’s decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy, wrote that the actions of the FEC are an,

“. . .  ongoing chill upon speech that is beyond all doubt protected [and] makes it necessary in this case to invoke the earlier precedents that a statute which chills speech can and must be invalidated where its facial invalidity has been demonstrated.”

The court ruled that the section of the law challenged in the Citizens United case “is an outright ban, backed by criminal sanctions.”  The court further stated that the PAC alternative still does not allow a corporation to speak and imposes burdensome and expensive regulations.

In the Citizens United decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy further states,

“The FEC has created a regime that allows it to select what political speech is safe for public consumption by applying ambiguous tests. . . .This is an unprecedented governmental intervention into the realm of speech.”

In Citizens United,

“The Court has thus rejected the argument that political speech of corporations or other associations should be treated differently under the First Amendment simply because such associations are not ‘natural persons.’”

The Supreme Court reversed the District Court’s opinion, thus declaring the restrictions on corporate speech in 2 USC §441b unconstitutional.

 

“Speech is an essential mechanism of democracy, for it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people.”  ~Justice Anthony Kennedy


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We the People — Part 9

“A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away.” ~Barry Goldwater

By Alden Benton

Approximately 2.7 million California students in grades K-12 speak a language other than English at home.  About 1.4 million of these students (51.8%) are not fluent in English.  California classifies these students are as English learners.

English learners comprise 22 per cent of the more than 6 million public school students in California.  More than 80 per cent of the English learners, more than 1.1 million students, have Spanish as their native language.

In 1998, Californians approved Proposition 227, the current law regarding the teaching of English learners.  That law required English learners be taught in English only, restricted the use of bilingual programs, and requires one year of intensive English instruction before placing English learners in English-only classes.

Current law requires an administrative process before parents can enroll an English learner student in a bilingual program by seeking approval of a waiver.  

For waiver approval, the student must have attended an English-only classroom for at least 30 days and the teachers, principal and district superintendent must all agree that the student would learn better in a bilingual program.  If the English learner student did not meet that requirement, the student is still eligible for approval if the student is at least 10 years old or, is already fluent in English. 

However, even if a student meets these requirements and gets their waiver approved, 20 or more students (in any grade) must receive waivers before their school must offer a bilingual program or allow students to transfer to a school that has a bilingual program. 

In 1997, about 30 per cent of English learners were in bilingual programs.  California enacted the current law in 1998 and, by 2007, only 5 per cent of English learners were in bilingual programs.

Proposition 58 asks voters to repeal the requirement that English learners be taught in English-only programs. 

Parents may request placing their children in English-only programs.  This measure eliminates the waiver requirement for parents to enroll their child in a bilingual program. 

If enough parents request any type of English learner program not offered, Proposition 58 forces school districts to offer it.  However, this measure requires that 20 or more parents of children in a single grade, or 30 or more parents overall, request a program before the school must offer that program.

Proposition 58 requires schools and school districts communicate with parents regarding English learner programs in their annual planning process.


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We the People — Part 8

“No man is good enough to govern another man without that other man’s consent.
~Abraham Lincoln

By Alden Benton

California prisons are under siege from overcrowding and a federal court order to reduce that overcrowding.  The federal court said medical and psychiatric care was substandard and deemed it as cruel and unusual punishment under Amendment 8 of the United States Constitution.  The court also said that overcrowding is the direct cause of substandard care.

Proposition 57 makes changes to the parole and sentencing system for adults in order to reduce prison overcrowding.  This proposal also makes changes on deciding whether to try a juvenile in juvenile or adult court.

If approved, this measure makes those convicted of non-violent felonies eligible for parole.  Individuals are eligible for parole only after they have served the full term of their primary offense.  A primary offense usually is the crime with the longest sentence in the case of multiple convictions. 

In California law, there is no definition of non-violent felonies and there is no definition of them in Proposition 57.

According to the California Legislative Analyst,

“As of September 2015, there were about 30,000 individuals in state prison who would be affected by the parole consideration provisions of the measure.  In addition, about 7,500 of the individuals admitted to state prison each year would be eligible for parole consideration under the measure.”

Currently, individuals affected by Proposition 57 serve an average of two years in prison.  This proposal would reduce that average to an estimated 1.5 years.

California law now allows the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to award credits to inmates to reduce their sentences.  These credits are for good behavior, participating in work, training, education programs, or approved rehabilitative achievements.  Proposition 57 continues the credit program.

Currently, credits are limited to reducing sentences by 15%.  This measure gives the CDCR the authority to establish rules that may increase the amount of credits earned, further reducing the sentences of non-violent offenders.

Proposition 57 requires a hearing before a juvenile court judge to determine whether a youth is tried in adult or juvenile court.

According to the California Legislative Analyst,

“Youths accused of committing certain severe crimes would no longer automatically be tried in adult court and no youth could be tried in adult court based only on the decision of a prosecutor.

In addition, the measure specifies that prosecutors can only seek transfer hearings for youths accused of (1) committing certain significant crimes listed in state law (such as murder, robbery, and certain sex offenses) when they were age 14 or 15 or (2) committing a felony when they were 16 or 17.”

Proposition 57 would save money due to early release of prisoners, but those savings are offset by increased costs of parole supervision.  The counties could face increased costs for probation supervision.

The proposed changes in the juvenile justice system would increase costs for housing juvenile offenders, but save in state court costs.  County costs would increase as the counties pay part of the cost of housing juvenile offenders to the state.  Additionally, probation costs for the counties could increase.  Since juvenile court proceedings are shorter, counties may save costs.


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We the People — Part 7

“Democracy: The state of affairs in which you consent to having your pocket picked, and elect the best man to do it.  ~Benjamin Lichtenberg

By Alden Benton

Tobacco use has a long history.  It has grown wild in the Americas for over 8,000 years.  When Christopher Columbus brought tobacco to Europe, tobacco use grew quickly.  Discussions about the issues surrounding tobacco use have continued for centuries.

Proposition 56 asks voters to increase taxes on tobacco products consumed by the public, including e-cigarettes.

Beginning next year, Proposition 56 increases the tax on cigarettes $2 to $2.87 per pack.  Current law requires the tax on other tobacco products to increase as taxes on cigarettes increase.  Therefore, Proposition 56 also increases taxes on other tobacco products by $2 to $3.37.

This measure also redefines what “other tobacco products” are to include e-cigarettes that contain nicotine or liquid containing nicotine.

This measure will generate between $1.27 billion and $1.61 billion in 2017.  Revenues will decline if tobacco sales decline as anticipated. 

Proposition 56 excludes the revenues it generates from being counted as part of the general fund.  The amount in the general fund is the basis for calculating the minimum level of state school funding.

Of the anticipated revenue, between $200 million and $230 million will to replace sales tax and tobacco fund money lost from decreased tobacco sales.

The California Board of Equalization (BOE) receives up to 5% of Proposition 56 revenue to administer the implementation of this measure.  In 2017, the estimated administrative cost ranges from $50 million to $70 million.

Proposition 56 allocates fixed annual amounts for specific purposes.  In 2017, this measure allocates $48 million for enforcement.  Additionally, the University of California will receive $40 million annually for physician training programs and the California Department of Public Health receives $30 million annually for the state dental program.

At least every other year the state auditor must audit the agencies receiving the funds raised by Proposition 56 to ensure the funds are properly used.  This measure requires posting the results of these audits on the internet.  The state auditor will receive $400,000 to perform these audits.

Proposition 56 creates the Healthcare Treatment Fund (HTC).  Only facilities licensed by the state may receive money from this fund.

After making the required distributions, the remaining funds go into the HTC.  Medi-Cal receives 82 per cent of these funds to increase payments for healthcare services.  The 2017 estimates for Medi-Cal funding are between $710 million and $1 billion.

The California Tobacco Control Program receives 11 per cent of the HTC.  The Tobacco Control Program, operated by the Department of Public Health, is a variety of prevention and control programs aimed at reducing illness and death from tobacco-related diseases.  In 2017, these programs will receive between $100 million and $130 million.

Five per cent of the remaining funds go to the University of California Tobacco-Related Disease Program.  This program conducts medical research on prevention, early detection, treatments, and potential cures of all types of cancers, cardiovascular and lung diseases, and other tobacco-related diseases.  This program will receive an estimated $40 million to $60 million dollars in 2017 from this measure.

The California Department of Education will receive 2 per cent of the remaining funds generated by this measure to fund school programs to prevent and reduce the use of tobacco products by young people.  In 2017, these programs will receive $20 million from Proposition 56 revenue.

*********

“When I was young, I kissed my first woman and smoked my first cigarette on the same day.  Believe me, never since have I wasted any more time on tobacco.”
~Arturo Toscanini


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We the People — Part 6

 “Governments should not possess instruments of coercion and violence denied to their citizens.” ~Edgar A. Suter

By Alden Benton

Long before we devised our current system of taxation, Benjamin Franklin once noted, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”  Today, Mr. Franklin would probably have something to say about the tendency of temporary things to become permanent.

Proposition 55 asks voters to make something that was temporary, virtually permanent.

California voters approved a measure in 2012 that raised the income tax rates on the state’s highest income taxpayers through 2018 and increased the state sales tax by ¼ per cent through 2016.

Proposition 55 will extend the increased income tax rates until 2030.  The sales tax increase will expire at the end of this year. 

However, Proposition 55 imposes two new retroactive taxes.  Retailers will be charged ¼ per cent of their gross receipts for sales between January 1, 2013 and January 1, 2017.  At the same time, consumers will be charged ¼ per cent of the sales price of property bought during the same period.  (California Voter Guide, pages 132-133)

According to the California Legislative Analyst, Proposition 55 will raise between $4 billion and $9 billion per year, half going to K-12 public schools and California community colleges.  K-12 schools receive 89 per cent of this funding.  

Proposition 55 prohibits schools from using these funds for administrative costs. Local districts maintain control of how to use the money from this measure. Decisions regarding the use of Proposition 55 money must occur in open public meetings.

This measure could also result in increased Medi-Cal funding of up to $2 billion per year.  If state revenues exceed the annual constitutional spending minimums, 50 per cent of the excess (up to $2 billion) may go to fund Medi-Cal.

Under Proposition 55, budget reserves and debt payments could increase from $60 million to $1.5 billion per year.  These numbers depend upon both the economy and the performance of the stock market.

Proposition 55 contains provisions to ensure the revenues raised will be spent properly.  “All revenues from this measure are subject to local audit every year, and audit by the independent Controller to ensure that they will be used only for the purposes set forth in this measure.”  (California Voter Guide, page 129)


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We the People — Part 5

“If people behaved like governments, you’d call the cops.”  ~Kelvin Throop

By Alden Benton

Proposition 54, the California Legislature Transparency Act, is the topic of Part 5 of my series on the 2016 California ballot proposals.

This proposition seeks to make most of the proceedings of the California Legislature (Senate and Assembly), and their respective committees, more open to public participation via the internet.

Proposition 54 will change legislative procedure by requiring the Legislature to make audiovisual recordings of its proceedings and post them on the internet within 24 hours of the end of the meeting.  Recordings posted to the internet must remain available for at least 20 years.

Closed sessions, sessions held to discuss personnel issues, legal matters, property purchases, or security, are not included in the recording and posting requirements.

This measure also prohibits the Legislature from passing any bill unless it has been in print and published on the internet for at least 72 hours. 

The Legislature can waive the 72-hour publishing rule in cases of public emergency.  However, the governor must declare a state of emergency before the Legislature can waive the 72-hour publishing requirement.  The emergency waiver is only for bills related to the emergency.

Proposition 54 allows anyone, except in closed sessions, to record legislative proceedings and allows use for any legitimate purpose without paying any fee to the state.

The California Legislative Analyst estimates that Proposition 54 will require a one-time cost of $1-$2 million for cameras and equipment and annual costs of $1 million for staff and internet storage.  These expenses will come from the annual operating costs of the Legislature.


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We the People — Part 4

“Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”
~P.J. O’Rourke

By Alden Benton

California finances large projects in two ways: general obligation bonds and revenue bonds.

General obligation bonds provide up-front funding for major projects.  Investors buy general obligation bonds and repayment, with interest, is over a long period.

The California general fund backs repayment of general obligation bonds.  California state income tax and sales tax revenues comprise most of the general fund.

To finance projects on a pay-as-you-go basis, California uses revenue bonds to finance projects such a bridges, or toll roads.  The state sells bonds to investors and the revenue from the project repays the bonds and interest.

The California Constitution requires that voters approve general obligation bonds.  Current law does not require voter approval for revenue bonds.

Proposition 53 requires voter approval of state revenue bonds that meet all of the following criteria.

Proposition 53 exempts revenue bonds sold by cities, counties, schools, and special districts from statewide voter approval.

Proposition 53 requires that the bonds sold must be for a project that is funded, owned, or managed by the state.  This measure also prevents separating a single project into multiple projects to avoid voter approval.

This measure applies to revenue bond proposals exceeding $2 billion.  Proposition 53 would increase the $2 billion voter approval threshold amount annually by adjusting for inflation.


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We the People — Part 3

“It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.”  ~James Madison

By Alden Benton

My series on explaining the California ballot propositions continues with Proposition 52.

Proposition 52 extends an existing program which imposes a fee on hospitals to fund Medi-Cal programs for children, disabled, elderly, and the uninsured.  The hospital fee program is due to expire in January 2018.

Medi-Cal is a needs-based program for Californians paid for by both state and federal government funds.  Since 2009, hospitals in California have paid a Medi-Cal fee to the state.  In addition to providing additional funding of Medi-Cal programs, the Medi-Cal Hospital fee enables California to receive additional federal funds for the Medi-Cal program.

According to the California Legislative Analyst, California has received an average of $2 billion per year since the hospital fee program began.

Proposition 52 makes the hospital fee program permanent.  Proposition 52 makes it harder to end or change the program by requiring voter approval of changes to the program.  The only changes this measure allows are those necessary to make adjustments to meet federal requirements.

This measure requires a two-thirds vote of each house of the legislature to repeal the hospital fee program and forbids repealing the measure and replacing it with a measure of similar intent.

The funds gained through the hospital fee program will not be counted when California calculates its spending limit or the minimum funding levels for K-12 schools and community colleges.


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We the People — Part 2

“Every step we take towards making the State our Caretaker of our lives, by that much we move toward making the State our Master.”
~Dwight D. Eisenhower

By Alden Benton

Several propositions on the California ballot involve bonds (borrowing) and taxation (paying).  Before you read further, please click on the link and watch this 5-minute video from Prager University: Video: Is America’s Tax System Fair?

The first measure on the California ballot is Proposition 51.

Proposition 51 asks California voters to approve $9 billion dollars of general obligation bonds for new construction and modernization of public K-12 public schools including Charter Schools and Vocational Education facilities.

California Community Colleges projects are also eligible for Proposition 51 funds.

A general obligation bond is a long-term debt paid from the state’s general fund.  Investors buy bonds and are paid interest.  The bonds sold under the authority of Proposition 51 will be repaid in 35 years.

According to the California Legislative Analyst, the cost to repay Proposition 51 bonds, based on an estimated 5 per cent interest rate, will be $17.6 billion dollars, including at least $8.6 billion in interest.  As a result, these bonds will cost California taxpayers $500 million per year.

Generally, bonds are used to finance large projects such as schools, dams, bridges, or prisons that are too costly fund on a one-time basis.

According to a January 2016 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, California has $400 billion dollars in debt and faces higher interest rates to finance its debt due to the state’s credit rating.  (Read the Article Here)  Any general obligation bond is backed by the credit of the state (the taxpayer).

Currently (Fiscal Year 2016), Californians are paying $2.4 billion per year to repay bonds previously passed for school facilities.  Proposition 51 will add another $0.5 billion to that debt for a total bond debt for school facilities of $2.9 billion annually.

Of the funds raised by Proposition 51 bonds, $3 billion is allocated for K-12 new construction and another $3 billion for modernization.  K-12 career technical education facilities would be allocated $500 million and K-12 Charter School facilities another $500 million.  California Community College projects are allocated $2 billion.

There are limitations on how the money is spent.  Proposition 51 money can be used for new construction only if there is not enough room for current students, or for projected students.  Buildings are not eligible for modernization unless they are at least 25 years old.

Proposition 51 money does not pay for all of the costs of a new construction or modernization project.  Local districts are responsible for 50 per cent of the cost of land and new construction projects for K-12 schools.  Additionally, local K-12 districts are responsible for 40 per cent of the costs of modernization projects.

For modernization of Charter Schools and Vocational Education facilities, the Proposition 51 funds will only cover 50 per cent of the costs.  Proposition 51 also caps grants for Technical Education modernization at $1.5 million and at $3 million for new construction.

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
~H. L. Mencken


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We the People — Part 1

“The people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government and to reform, alter, or totally change the same when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.”
~Alexander Hamilton

By Alden Benton

There are less than 30 days until the national election on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. 

While most of our attention is focused on the race for the presidency, the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the United States Senate will also be selected.  In addition, there are myriad state and local elections to select those who would govern and to settle numerous policy decisions.

In California, where I reside and vote, voters have two important tools to keep their government in check: initiative and referendum.  The California State Constitution allows Californians, with a specified number of qualified signatures, to recall any state elected official.  The last time this happened was in 2003, when voters recalled then Governor Gray Davis and replaced him with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

California also allows its citizens to enact new laws, force laws passed by the legislature onto the ballot for a public vote, or amend the state’s Constitution through the initiative process.  In the November 8 election, voters will decide the fate of 17 initiatives on a variety of issues facing the state.

This article is the first in a series to explain what each measure proposes to do, without the partisan noise and bias muddling the issues. 

As a disclaimer, I am a registered Republican in the deep blue state of California.  Those of you who know me, or have read my articles, know I have a conservative worldview. 

However, in my analysis of these measures, I will endeavor to stick to the letter of each measure in determining its potential effects.  Whether or not those outcomes are acceptable to my readers is their choice.

I fully subscribe to the motto of the old Scripps‑Howard newspapers, “Give light and the people will find their own way.”  That light is the truth, unbiased by personal feelings or political ideology.

Here are nine rules I follow during election season.  These rules help save my sanity, keep my friends, and cut through all the nonsense propagated on television, radio, and the internet.  These rules ensure that I reach reasoned conclusions about the candidates and proposals put before me.

  • Rule 1: Politicians and political commercials lie.
  • Rule 2: Throw away all political mailings (See Rule 1)
  • Rule 3: Stop listening to, or reading, the news (See Rule 1)
  • Rule 4: Forget the debates and forums.  They are all pre-planned, staged circuses (See Rule 1)
  • Rule 5: If you want to keep them, do not talk politics with your friends and family
  • Rule 6: The official titles of the initiative proposals are misleading or deceptive (See Rule 1)
  • Rule 7: Never read the arguments for or against a proposition (See Rule 1)
  • Rule 8: Always read the background and summary of the Legislative Analyst
  • Rule 9: If you want to know exactly what you are voting for, always read the text of the proposal (See Rule 1).

In Part 2, I will begin my analysis of the California ballot propositions.

“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote…that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.”  ~Samuel Adams


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Thanks for the Memories

“Take care of all your memories.  For you cannot relive them.”
~Bob Dylan

By Alden Benton

About 58 years ago, a skinny kid with geeky glasses went with his Dad and his cousin Chuck to see his first major league baseball game. 

We walked for what seemed to be miles and climbed thousand steps before we arrived at our assigned seats, seats in a section so high and far away from the field that they were in the nosebleed section.

We settled in to our seats to watch the game.  There I sat at what seemed me to be the top of the world.  Filled with excitement, I sat at the ready with my heavily padded catcher’s mitt hoping that a big-league foul ball would find its way that far up in the seats.

My Dad turned on a heavy little transistor radio so we could follow the action on the field.  Through the tinny sounding speaker, cutting through the static, came the play by play. 

I don’t remember who won that game that beautiful Saturday afternoon in the Los Angeles Colosseum between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Pittsburgh Pirates.  However, it was the day I fell in love with baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Vince Scully.

Now that skinny kid with the geeky glasses is 58 years older, but the geeky glasses, the love of baseball, the Dodgers and Vince Scully remain.

In the intervening years, I learned all I know about baseball from Vince Scully.  I was witness, whether in person, via the radio or television, to the highlights of his career.  I was indeed one of the people he referred to on his last broadcast as going to sleep with my transistor radio listening to him.

Vince is more than the ultimate play-by-play announcer, he was also a story teller.

Vinny has an immense store of knowledge about baseball, the players, and its history.  It always amazed me how he can tell a story and call the game at the same time.

My favorite Vince Scully story was told years ago.  

 It was a televised game.  The game was a blowout and the remaining innings were meaningless exercises in futility.  In between batters, the camera scanned the stands and focused on a little blonde girl who was sitting on her Daddy’s lap enjoying cotton candy.  For the next inning, the camera remained on the little girl while Vinny told stories about children and baseball.  In the midst of his story, Vinny never missed a pitch or an out.

 In addition to learning about the game, I learned much from Vinny about being a professional, and about how to be gracious and humble.  Lessons about how to live one’s life, lessons which need to be taught to so many younger Americans.

October 2, 2016 was Vince Scully’s final broadcast.  An era has ended.  I will miss his voice.  I will miss his knowledge and his stories.

In a 1980 broadcast Vinny said, “It’s a mere moment in a man’s life between the All-Star Game and an old timer’s game.” 

For 67 years, you belonged to baseball and your fans.  You have been a timeless beacon for generations of players and fans.  Now it is time, as Vinny candidly put it, to enjoy the roses and his family.

On behalf of everyone you touched, thank you. 

Thanks for the memories.  Because of you, it will always be a good afternoon for Dodger baseball.

“As long as you live keep smiling because it brightens everybody’s day.”  ~Vin Scully


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Politics & Insanity: Other Voices

“Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.”  ~Samuel Adams

By Alden L. Benton

In today’s blog I thought I’d give everyone a listicle of things I’ve run across on the internet (including the word listicle) in the past few days.

The first item is a link to an article from Town Hall about who really is less qualified to be POTUS.  200 Reasons Hillary Clinton Should Not Be President  Second is a tale of how Miss Hillary has been bullied and oppressed.  No, I’m not kidding because the thought is almost as stupid as Colin Kaepernick.  Hillary — Interrupted

The third item offers some revealing food for thought regarding the politicization of the rule of law.  Tale of Two Cities   Item four, is a gem on narrative building by the one and only Jonah Goldberg.  This article, and the one which precedes it, help to explain how the so-called progressives work to bastardize the political and judicial systems to further their corrupt and perverted agenda.  Narrative Building Has Become a Political Obsession

Number five on the hit parade is a call to action for all Christians in the United States and exposes the progressive left’s attempts to destroy the church, ruin the elemental family, and usurp parental control.  LGBT Activists Are Coming For Your Children

The last word about Trump in this column is item six.  This column illustrates that the narrative of the media and reality are not in the same universe.  I’m With You

I am getting pooped out, so item seven is my final entry in my listicle.

Ronald Reagan once said, “The nine most frightening words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” 

California’s current governor, Governor Moonbeam, aka Jerry Brown, Jr., and a majority of the California legislature, have fallen completely off of the sanity wagon and into the Pacific Ocean in a Quixotic attempt to eliminate the alleged effects of California Cow Farts

On a lighter side, here are three editorial cartoons from the pages of Town Hall.com

robertariail-01

Copyright Robert Ariail via TownHall.com

glenn-mccoy-02

Copyright Glenn McCoy via TownHall.com

glenn-mccoy-01

Copyright Glenn McCoy via TownHall.com


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An Uncivil Society

“I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.”
~Oscar Wilde

By Alden Benton

Much has been made of the antics of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his refusal to stand for the national anthem before a game.

Kaepernick is a Progressive idiot and hypocrite. To this end, I would like to share two cartoons, one from Gary Varvel and one from Henry Payne, that shows Kaepernick for the entitled, self-absorbed, disingenuous, narcissistic, and wealthy racist putz that he is.

Kaepernick is reported to be worth over $100 million. If an individual can earn that much money in an “oppressive” society, he is not being oppressed.

Copyright Gary Varvel via TownHall.com

Copyright Gary Varvel via TownHall.com

Copyright Henry Payne via TownHall.com

Copyright Henry Payne via TownHall.com

That is my opinion of Kaepernick.

Despite the efforts of the Progressive movement and their propaganda machine (the mainstream media), I have the right to express my opinion in many ways whether anyone else agrees or not.

And so does Colin Kaepernick.

Copyright Henry Payne via TownHall.com

Copyright Henry Payne via TownHall.com

The discussion about Kaepernick’s actions and motives is the wrong discussion. The important discussion should be about preserving the right to hold, and speak, unpopular opinions and/or beliefs.

I am constantly reading about intolerance towards individuals who do not fall in line with the language of political correctness. This is the Progressive mantra. Shout you down. Call you names. Marginalize you as irrelevant. If none of that silences you, sue you. If all else fails, use violence.

Ordered liberty depends upon the rule of law and the freedom of citizens to live their lives in a moral and legal manner as they see fit. Ordered liberty also depends upon a level of knowledge and civility. Within that civility, also resides true tolerance: the ability to agree to disagree.

The ability to agree to disagree has been steadily under attack with the rise of the radical Progressives, led by their dear leader B. Hussein Obama. Their attacks on civility are attacks on our everyday freedoms of speech, religion, and association, as well as the other rights guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Our system of government is designed to have limited power and responsibilities clearly enumerated in the Constitution and its amendments.

The radical Progressives, through the lies and half-truths of the media and the legislative usurpation by the federal courts, are trying to dismantle the Constitution and re-shape our society in their Marxist totalitarian vision.

The attack on civility is part of that plan. It is not part of the Constitutional mandate of government.

According to the 60s rock icon Frank Zappa, “Political correctness is the language of cowardice.” It is not anyone’s job to enforce our degree of political correctness or incorrectness, let alone the government’s. That is the function of ordered liberty and a civil society.

It is our collective job to resist these efforts and fight back.

I will go continue fighting the tyranny of an out of control government until my last breath. I will remain politically incorrect and, by the grace of God, I will prevail, as will those who believe as I do.

In the meantime, Kaepernick will continue to whine about racial oppression as he earns millions collecting splinters in his delicate rump from warming the sideline bench.

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”
~ Harry S. Truman
Special Message to the Congress on the Internal Security of the United States, August 8, 1950

_____________________________________
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Last Word

“Every step we take towards making the State our Caretaker of our lives, by that much we move toward making the State our Master.”  ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

By Alden Benton

Each morning I open my email, scan the day’s news, and read columns from conservative authors I respect.

Since Donald Trump entered the race to become president, he has faced a profusion of criticism from the political Left and Right.  This is an appropriate part of the political process, especially in the primary elections where the voters select their candidates.

Now that the two major political parties have chosen their respective candidates, the battle is now between two contrasting and competing ideologies.  It is now “us” versus “them,” no matter which side you support.

Almost every day I see columns from conservative writers who have become virtually unhinged at the notion of a Trump candidacy, let alone the prospect of him actually becoming president.

Trump is flawed.  Trump is not the best candidate.  If that is the way one feels, then don’t vote for him.

Conservative writers and commentators need to stop denigrating Trump.  Trump is more than capable of making a fool of himself, he doesn’t need any help.  The constant harangue against Trump damages the down ticket, the Republican candidates running for election to the House, the Senate, and myriad state offices.

These nattering nabobs of negativism (Thank you Spiro T Agnew), inadvertently encourage voters to stay home.  This negativity affects down-ticket conservatives.

It is time these so-called bastions of conservatism stop worrying about Trump, and start worrying about Clinton.                                                                                                    .

If Clinton wins the presidency, the only hope of fending off the Democrat party’s destructive agenda is to win solid conservative majorities in both houses of Congress.  To do otherwise will ensure the continuation of the Progressive “transformation,” what Bernie Sanders calls a revolution, for decades to come; a transformation from which we may never recover.

It is past time that everyone stop obsessing about Trump.  If your conscience will not allow you to vote for Trump, don’t, but vote. 

There are alternatives to Trump.  The Libertarian party has candidates running for president and vice president.  Voters may cast a write-in vote, or simply leave the box for president and vice president blank.

Voting is a right and a privilege.  It is also the duty of every adult citizen to make an informed choice.  However you envision the future of the United States, make your voice heard: Vote.

———————————

“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!”  ~Benjamin Franklin


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A Moral Change of Mind

“For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise.”
~Benjamin Franklin

By Alden L. Benton

Now that the circus of the party conventions is over, it is time to take a serious look at the candidates they’ve presented to us who want to become the next president of the United States.

A fundamental question arises that all voters must answer: Which candidate represents the vision of America I would like to see?  This question transcends politics, personality, and party.  Both candidates have flaws.  So how should we vote, or should we even vote?

First, yes we must vote.  Voting is a right all adult citizens possess.  It is also a privilege.  We must take extreme care in deciding whom to select as the next president.

The individual voter owes it to the nation to make an informed decision.  The greatest danger to our republic and our liberty is the low-information voter, for as John Adams said, “Liberty cannot be preserved without general knowledge among the people.”

In recent columns, I wrote about the lack of principles of the leading candidates and suggested following the recommendation of Charles Spurgeon who said, “Of two evils, choose neither.”  My most recent column suggested an alternative solution, a solution that I no longer feel is viable.

After some research and thought, I have decided to go in another direction.

The future of America is at stake in this election and that future is far more important than party or personality.

My vision is to rebuild America, to restore the rule of law, to restore its founding principles, to restore its strength and vitality, to make us secure, and to return control of our lives to the people.

Finally, this election provides Americans the opportunity, perhaps our last, to marginalize those who would enslave us.  The so-called Progressives and their programs will do just that for, as John Adams also said,

“There are two ways to conquer and enslave a country.  One is by the sword.  The other is by debt.”

We all have been misinformed and, at worst, lied to, and manipulated by, the Progressive propaganda machine that masquerades as the mass media.  Conservative and religious thinking, coupled with principled behavior, are enemies of a cause that demands conformity. 

Progressives demand conformity through political correctness and silence enforced by shouting down those who disagree.  If that fails, they call you a racist or some other form of politically contrived phobia.  Finally, if you don’t sit down and shut up, Progressives, like schoolyard bullies when they don’t get their way, resort to violence.

Intimidation, fear, and political violence have no place in a Republic or in any civilized society.

If preserving my vision for the future of America and crippling the Progressive movement means voting for a flawed candidate, then morally, that is what I must do.

Therefore, the only viable choice to make this vision of America possible is to cast my vote for Donald Trump.

I encourage you to read this article by Wayne Grudem: Why Voting for Donald Trump Is a Morally Good Choice.  Gruden, a professor of theology and biblical studies, presents a reasoned, detailed, and eloquent argument for this position.

 Finally, to underscore the importance of this election, Dennis Prager wrote,

“… it is vital to understand what will happen if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency.  This country will be so far from what the Founding Fathers wanted, so different from what the #NeverTrumpers have always fought for, that it is almost impossible to see how America could recover from her — or any Democrat’s — victory.”

“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”  ~James 4:17 NASB

“Always stand on principle … even if you stand alone.”  ~John Adams


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The Malady and the Cure: A Principled Decision

By Alden Benton

Author’s Note: My apologies for the length of this post.  I encourage you to read through to the end.  I have suffered, along with most of you, through the tedious primary process.  I am tired and fed up.  As a nation we’re in trouble.  We have been presented with two substandard, evil candidates who are unfit to occupy the White House.  There is, however, a way to fix it.  It will take the effort of large numbers of principled people to accomplish.  It is in this light that I pose the issues and offer my solution in this post.

While the president golfs and worries about which bathroom a minute fraction of the population should use, the People’s Republic of China is busy restructuring and modernizing its military to better fight a war, according to the Washington Free Beacon.  The article discusses a Defense Department report to Congress assessing the capabilities of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).  The article is here and the complete Pentagon report is here.

The so-called mainstream media is mute on this as well as other existential threats such as ISIS and radical Islam.  Like the president, they are obsessed with the notion that guys who think they are girls should use the women’s restroom or vice versa.  At the risk of being called some kind of phobic epithet, I think the nation has far larger problems than this.  It is a non-issue manufactured by the president and his supporters as a distraction.

During the current presidential campaign, the leading candidates from both parties have ignored the increasing threats both China and ISIS pose, and have instead, like playground bullies, chosen to argue and call each other names while our nation suffers internally and is threatened externally.

The only candidates who spoke to the issue of defense and national recovery were Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both of whom were shouted down by the bully tactics and sound bite half (or less) truths of Trump’s waffling, lies, and obfuscation.

While Trump refuses to put forth any rational, legal, or ethical plan for anything, Hillary Clinton is pandering to the entitlement “gimme” class, trying to outdo her admittedly socialist opponent by promising even more “free stuff,” things any rational person knows are, in reality, not free.

Defense and national recovery and prosperity are not on Clinton’s mind either, after all, as she infamously told a Congressional hearing into the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, including the U.S. ambassador, “What does it matter?”

Clinton, and her successor, in instituting the agenda of the president, have alienated allies, placated and emboldened our adversaries, and handcuffed our military in its fight against a terrorist enemy that the president refuses to even name, let alone acknowledge.

National security and national recovery have become nothing but convenient sound bites to lure unsophisticated and low-information voters to the respective camps of the candidates.

Principles and civility have been placed in the trash as both candidates demean themselves, and the nation, with profane and inane utterances meant only to massage the gullible and dupe the rest of us.

Neither candidate wants to return to economic prosperity and ordered liberty where the Constitution, the rule of law, and honest competition prevail.

Other than their sex and political label, Trump and Clinton are basically identical, two sides of the same coin, a coin minted in Barack Obama’s image. That image is of two Machiavellian narcissists; vain, self-absorbed individuals who place political expediency above morality and use lies, corruption, and deceit to carry out their policies.

According to Guttmacher.org, from 1973 through 2011, there were 53 million abortions in the United States.  That is 1,394,737 babies murdered per year in every one of the 38 years since Roe v. Wade made abortion a “right.”

Both candidates are just fine with the murder of millions of unborn children and funding it through the government — our money given to Planned Parenthood and forced subsidies of abortion through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and its forced premium participation.

Obamacare is neither affordable, nor providing care.  In fact, Obamacare is rationing care to seniors on Medicare by encouraging hospitals to provide less care by giving bonuses to the hospitals that spend the least caring for the elderly.  In California alone, this evil practice has resulted in more than 11,000 preventable deaths.

Trump is happy with this massive boondoggle and Clinton wants to expand it.

Neither candidate has given any thought to reducing or eliminating the economy-killing, unaccountable administrative state that is micromanaging our lives and businesses.

Clinton is poised to spend us into oblivion with her “feel good free for all” policies.  Trump, on the other hand wants to inflate our way out of debt, ruining both our national credit and the economy, and he proposes to finish the job (pun intended) of killing our economy with restrictive trade and tariff policies.

Both candidates have the potential to turn the United States into a third world nation, if they don’t destroy us in an outright global war first.

In a previous column, I said that I had no answer to the dilemma of which candidate to vote for.  I now have the answer that I alluded to in that post.

One of the checks and balances written into the constitution is representative government.  We chose our members of Congress and they represent us.  In fact, until the ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913, U.S. senators were chosen by state legislatures, who were in turn elected by the people.

While the 17th Amendment diluted this check by allowing direct election of U.S. senators, one very important check remains: the Electoral College.

The Electoral College was a compromise between direct election of the president and Congress electing the president to maintain the idea of a constitutional representative republic.

Electors are chosen by the states and each state has electors equal to the number of Congressional districts, plus one for each of the state’s two U.S. senators.  The ratification of the 23rd Amendment also gave the District of Columbia three electors.

The Electoral College consists of 538 electors and a majority of 270 electors is required for a candidate to become president.  If no candidate gets the required majority, the House of Representatives will elect the president from the three candidates that received the most electoral votes.  The Senate will elect the vice president from the top two vice presidential candidates.

Sadly, the election to choose the leader of the free world has deteriorated into a brawl between two cults and their celebrity idiot idols.  This election has taken the democratic processes of our constitutional republic, and turned them into the chaos of mob rule that is pure democracy.

To salvage this election, and perhaps our nation, I have chosen to follow Charles Spurgeon’s advice: “Of two evils, choose neither.”

I am not advocating staying away from the polling place. Rather, I am advocating an unofficial third party vote to elect a ticket of Cruz and Rubio.

Vote your ballot. However, instead of voting for the evil that is Clinton or the evil that is Trump, write in Ted Cruz for president and Marco Rubio for vice president.  If enough people choose to write in these men, the election could be denied to both Clinton and Trump.

This provides a chance to elect qualified men of virtue and honor rather than making an unconscionable choice between two lying, unprincipled, narcissists bent on destroying the United States.  It also offers a constitutional work-around to evade the two-party system that has consistently rewarded the pimps, panderers, and lobbyists.

Life offers no guarantees, nor does my plan.  However, writing in two highly qualified candidates to attempt to prevent our destruction at the hands of either the evil of Clinton or the evil of Trump is well worth the risk.


©2016 Alden L. Benton/Independence Creek Enterprises
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Voter Angst

 

“A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy.  While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.”
~ Samuel Adams

By Alden L. Benton

Virtue, as defined by Dictionary.com, is conformity of one’s life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude.  Inherent in this is respect for others, including their rights and property, and a general civility.

In all of the elections of this century, these principles have been conspicuously absent.  In fact, they are sadly absent from a large segment of the population, especially those who expound the progressive-statist philosophy.  Sadly, this morally bankrupt trend to incivility is no longer confined to the left, but is infecting the rest of society as well.

There is no true discourse between opposing viewpoints, just attacks based on emotion, smear tactics, and disinformation.  This nonsense is being spewed from both sides of the spectrum in this election, leaving us with sound bites and campaign slogans, instead of a rational discussion of real problems and their potential solution.

As I have said before, we are faced with selecting from dumb and dumber to be our president.  This is causing many potential voters a great deal of angst.  It seems that no matter how we vote, or even whether we vote, we will lose.

I do not have an answer.

I am a life-long conservative and a Christian.  That having been said, all I can do for myself is to seek knowledge from scripture and pray for guidance.  In fact, if more Americans would apply the principles of their faith to their everyday lives, we would not have found ourselves in our present quandary.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
~ Martin Luther King Jr.


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Heads They Win, Tails You Lose

“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other.” 

~John Adams

By Alden L. Benton

The hoopla of the primaries is all but over. 

The upcoming party conventions are an expensive waste of time and effort as the two leading candidates have been assured the nomination of their party.

We have been presented with two very distasteful candidates.  To participate in the process, we are now forced to choose between a treasonous liar and an arrogant, pompous gasbag.  Dumb versus dumber: Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump.

Clinton is a socialist masquerading as a Democrat.  Trump is a Democrat masquerading as a Republican.

Both candidates are disingenuous hypocrites unworthy, politically or morally, of even visiting the White House, let alone occupying it as president.

Neither candidate has offered any tangible or detailed solutions to the myriad ailments and issues facing the United States now and into the future.

Neither candidate will take us forward, indeed, they most likely will, at best, maintain the status quo of massive debt, irresponsible spending, burdensome regulations, ever- higher taxes on the 100 per cent, and the ever-creeping loss of personal freedom under the guise of security, safety, and “free” stuff for all.  At worst, either candidate will accelerate our descent into the hell of socialism.

We have been forced to choose between the lesser of two evils.  This is not acceptable.  Charles Spurgeon, a 19th century Baptist preacher and author, advises us:
“Of two evils, choose neither.”

For those of you reading my blog for the first time, I am conservative and a Christian.  I believe that, to the best of our abilities, you work hard and take care of your family, honor God, and work hard at living a principled, ethical, and moral life.  In this context, Spurgeon’s advice is sound.

Advance the calendar from the mid-1800s of Spurgeon’s time to 2016.  The United States is fast becoming a godless, socialistic state transformed from a nation based on the rule of law and ordered liberty to a liberty-killing governmental leviathan that seeks to control every aspect of human behavior.  Spurgeon’s advice remains sound.

Which do we choose?  Who do we choose? 

Do we choose dumb or dumber?

Do we choose a liar and criminal or a gasbag pretender?

Do we choose democracy and a republic based upon ordered liberty, the rule of law, and opportunity, or socialism and government sanctioned equality of outcome resulting in poverty and misery?

Unfortunately, the only choices presented in the upcoming election are not between opposing principles, but between two unprincipled individuals.

Heads they win, tails you lose.

“Of two evils, choose neither.”

“Evil things are easy things: for they are natural to our fallen nature.  Right things are rare flowers that need cultivation.”  ~Charles Spurgeon


©2016 Alden L. Benton/Independence Creek Enterprises
All Rights Reserved
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Thoughts this MLK Day

“The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.”  ~Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

By Alden Benton

Reflecting on Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today we celebrate the life and accomplishments of Dr. King.  Most of us who were born before 1960 know his story as we watched the events of the American Civil Rights movement unfold. 

Dr. King was first and foremost a man of God and as such, his accomplishments were achieved through peaceful protest and civil disobedience.  Through his leadership, our nation took giant strides forward in race relations through love and the legislative process; a journey cut short by an assassin’s bullet in 1968. 

Dr. King led with conviction and courage, both derived from the moral high ground of the righteousness of his cause and his deep and enduring faith in God. 

As I look back at the intervening years since his passing, I am saddened.  Dr. King’s noble dream, a dream of his children growing up in a nation where they would be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, is dead.  It too was murdered.  

Dr. King’s dream was killed not by an assassin’s gun, but by years of slimy, self-serving politicians and race-baiting manipulators who seek to divide us as a people, destroy us as a nation, and enslave on the government plantation those who Dr. King sought to free. 

I’m sorry, Dr. King.  We failed to keep your torch burning. 

I pray that I will live to see the day that, by God’s grace, all the damage wrought by evil men has been wiped away, replaced with the warmth and light of your beautiful dream.

Offending the Offensive

Planned Parenthood, arguably one of the most heinous, brutal, and cavalier mass murderers of the 20th and 21st centuries, has the audacity to be offended. 

They expect the rest of us to sit silently while they murder and maim hundreds of thousands of unborn children each year and then illegally sell body parts of their victims for profit, and yet they are offended.

So what are these godless butchers offended by?  Town Hall.com reports that they are offended because House Speaker Paul Ryan dared to invite Catholic Nuns to attend the State of the Union Address.

Oh my!

It pleases me that these baby killers, who murdered 327,653 babies from July 2014 through June 2015, are offended by the presence of nuns from the Little Sisters of the Poor.  These women bring the spirit of God to their work of helping the elderly poor, no matter their religious affiliation.

However, the strength of their faith makes them dangerous enemies to the libertine perversions and uber control obsession of the Left.

These nuns are suing the government to overturn the mandate that the insurance they provide include, contrary to their religious beliefs, contraception and abortion-inducing drugs.

The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:31, “If God is with us who dare stand against us?”  The women of the Little Sisters of the Poor have put on God’s armor to confront the evil of abortion and through their faith, and by God’s will, I pray that they prevail.

Tweet This!

The run up to the presidential primaries is way too long.  Most of us suffer political overload long before the first debates even occur and by the time November arrives, we’ve been so battered by attack ads screaming and talking heads blathering, we can’t muster  the interest, or energy, to go out and cast our votes.

As far as the so-called “debates” are concerned, I never watch either side’s antics.  Except for the populist bloviating of The Donald, the debates are useful only to cure insomnia.  That having been said, the debates still draw the faithful, the curious, and the media snark‑meisters. 

Once in a while, in the midst of the pre-scripted discussion  points, a candidate will let his or her tongue slip and say something off script that will come back to bite them in the patoot. 

Just ask the Dragon Lady otherwise known as Hillary Clinton.

Today, the Washington Examiner reported on a remark Mrs. Clinton made at the last debate.  Her comment was instantly Tweeted to her 5 million groupies (followers).

Before she left the stage, she had so angered her base that they quickly inundated her Twitter account with sarcastic and questioning negativity.

Her gaffe?  In Sunday’s debate, Mrs. Clinton’s said, “There should be no bank too big to fail and no individual too big to jail.”

Really?

The woman who faces the potential of being charged with some serious felonies for breaches of national security, fraud, and other crimes, actually said this?

Yes, she did, and judging by the sample of responses to the Tweet asking if her comment includes herself, it has indeed taken a big bite out of her posterior. 

Nice shooting, Hillary. 

Most politicians either put their foot in their mouth, or shoot themselves in the foot. Hillary has taken making a verbal guffaw to a new level — she put her foot in her mouth and shot herself in the posterior.

I guess even her history of lies, half-truths, cover-ups, and obfuscation has tired even her party faithful. 

I guess Hillary isn’t bulletproof after all.


“Prayer invites the presence and power of God into our circumstances and into our group life.” ~Pastor Rick Warren

Copyright 2016
A. L. Benton / Independence Creek Enterprises
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Case for Open Carry

By Alden L. Benton

Last Friday a gunman killed two and wounded three in a bar in Tel Aviv, Israel. (The Blaze)  Last October, two men shot and stabbed passengers on a bus in Jerusalem killing two before police shot them. (BBC News)

In an interview, Moshe Nussbaum, Israel Channel 2 television’s police reporter, noted the difference between the two attacks.

“Notice the unfathomable difference between incidents that occurred in Jerusalem — whether they were shooting attacks or stabbing attacks — which always ended when one of the citizens or one of the guards … there was always someone who shot at the terrorist or the shooter as opposed to the incident in Tel Aviv,” Nussbaum said. (from The Blaze)

Israel Channel 2 reported that, “Given that some of the attacks have been stopped by gun-carrying civilians, Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan in October eased citizens’ access to guns, calling gun owners a ‘force multiplier’ in combating the nearly daily Palestinian stabbing and car-ramming attacks since September.”

Armed citizens as a force multiplier against criminals, terrorists, and, if necessary, our own government: this is what the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was written to ensure.  However, the American Left, led by President B. Hussein Obama, wants to disarm us rather than making it easier to protect ourselves, our families, and our property.

Now consider the attacks last year in Paris, France, and San Bernardino, California.  France and California have one thing in common: the government has virtually disarmed its citizens either by direct prohibition of firearms or through strict licensing and control.

In Paris, according to CNN, 128 people were killed by gunfire last October.  In San Bernardino, 14 were murdered by two gunmen last December.

Back to Israel.  “Gun permits are required for owning guns in Israel…. [I]n Israel licensed gun owners are free to carry their guns at all times.  In addition, off-duty police and IDF (Israel Defense Force) soldiers carry their guns off their bases.  Erdan was also considering a move to allow those employed as security guards to take their weapons home,” Israel Channel 2 reported via The Blaze.

If just one person at the Christmas party in San Bernardino had been armed, the death toll would have been significantly lower and would have included the two perpetrators.  In Paris, the results of that attack would have been quite different if the terrorists had confronted an armed citizenry.

The police, no matter where one resides, are reactive.  Yes, they can collect intelligence and perhaps foil a violent plot.  However, in most instances the police only respond to violence.

Israel has it right.  Make it easier for citizens to arm themselves.  Criminals and terrorists are cowards.  They prey on the weak and unprepared.

The victims in Paris and San Bernardino were not prepared.

Do not fool yourselves.  The United Sates is at war.  It is not a war that will be won by military might alone.  The fight has come to our doors and we must be prepared.

Our government, at all levels, must take heed for they cannot protect us.

Deep blue, left-controlled states like California must follow the lead of Texas where open carry of a pistol or rifle is legal.

The United States must follow the lead of Israel and allow the military and police to carry their firearms at all the times.

This is the only way to stay safe in the modern world of individual jihad.  The president and the Left need to get out of the way and let the Second Amendment fulfill its promise of a safe and secure society without trampling on our individual, and collective, liberty.


© 2016
Alden L. Benton / Independence Creek Enterprises
All Rights Reserved
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Short Notes to Begin 2016

 

By Alden L. Benton

Farewell Trapper John

Actor Wayne Rogers, most known for his role as half of the dynamic M*A*S*H surgical duo of Trapper John and Hawkeye, has died from the complications of pneumonia.  He was 82.  Rogers only appeared in the first three of the 11 seasons of M*A*S*H.  Rogers is survived by his wife Amy, two children, Bill and Laura, and four grandchildren.

A Song Bird is Silenced

Grammy-winning R&B artist Natalie Cole died December 31 at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles succumbing to the effects of long-term health issues.

According to a family spokesperson, “Natalie fought a fierce, courageous battle, dying how she lived … with dignity, strength and honor.  Our beloved Mother and sister will be greatly missed and remain UNFORGETTABLE in our hearts forever,” read the statement from her son Robert Yancy and sisters Timolin and Casey Cole.  (From Drudge Report via ABC News)

Chicago Starts 2016 with a Bang

Chicago has started the New Year with its first murder.  ABC News (via World Net Daily) reports that a 24 year-old man was shot in the chest a few minutes after 2 am New Year’s morning.  He was pronounced dead at the scene

This murder begins another year of murder in the Windy City.

“While overall crime went down in the city last year, murders and shooting incidents were on the rise in 2015, police reports show. There were 468 reported murders in the city in 2015, a 13 percent increase from 2014, according to police,” according to ABC News.

I have a question for former Chicago mayor Rahm “We can’t let a good crisis go to waste” Emanuel: How is this crisis working out for you, Mr. Mayor?  You have some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, and yet your city had 468 murders last year.  Your city is not safe.  Not a good supporting argument for the president and all who oppose gun ownership.

How many people will be murdered in Chicago this year?  The count has already started.

New Law Oks Open Carry in Texas

On January 1, 2016, Texas became the most populous state to allow the open carry of holstered hand guns.  It is also legal in Texas to carry a long gun (rifle) in public. (The Guardian via World Net Daily)

When Texas approved concealed carrying of hand guns, the crime rate fell dramatically.  It will be interesting to read the 2016crime stats next year.  My bet is violent crime will drop significantly.

Contrary to the “we fear everything and everyone so we have to control everything” attitude of the political and philosophical left, the vast majority of Americans can be trusted: to raise their children, work hard, take care of themselves, obey the law, and protect themselves.  This includes carrying a firearm safely and sensibly.

The left, especially the president and Hillary “The Dragon Lady” Clinton, really needs to just sit down, sit on their collective hands, and shut up.  We will all be safer and better off when they do.

Big Money in Mass Murder

According to CNSNews, the mass murderers at Planned Parenthood report that in the fiscal year ending on September 30, 2014, 323,999 unborn babies were murdered and they received $553.7 million of our money in the form of “government health services grants and reimbursements” to kill them.

We paid Planned Parenthood $1,708.96 per baby killed.  That is the price our society places on an unborn life.  Disgusting!

Congress is complicit in continuing this atrocity.  The Omnibus spending bill, recently passed by Congress and signed by the president, continues to fund the butchers at Planned Parenthood for the next fiscal year.

Everyone who believes as I do should go online and check how their U.S. Senator and their representative in the House voted on the Omnibus (House Vote) (Senate Vote).  All of Congress who voted for the Omnibus needs to go.

This is an election year and the entire House of Representatives, all 435 of them, and fully one-third of the Senate are up for re-election.  Throw the bums out and replace them with men and women of integrity who will protect the unborn.

Since Roe v. Wade (410 U.S. 113), more than 57,762,169 unborn babies have been murdered.  (Life News )

Enough!


©2016 Alden L. Benton / Independence Creek Enterprises • All Rights Reserved
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Looking Back to Look Forward

By Alden L. Benton

At the end of the year most writers take a look back at the previous year.  This year, to celebrate the passing of 2015 and to usher in 2016, I am going to look back in order to look forward.

This week I have been looking back at all my blog posts since I began this blog.  In reviewing what I have written, I found two posts from 2012 that are just as relevant today, perhaps more so, than they were four years ago.  An Unreasonable Man from February 1, 2012, and from August 23, 2012, Promises.


An Unreasonable Man

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.  Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”  ~George Bernard Shaw

By Alden L. Benton

To many, I am an unreasonable man.  I believe in God, morality, and the Constitution.  Being of Scots-Irish ancestry, I will not bend or bow before any earthly power and will fight to the death those who would try to force me to do otherwise.

I believe that life, for a moral and ethical person, is really quite simple: things are either right, or they are wrong.  There are no gray areas, no nuances; right or wrong, no more, no less.  This mindset enables and supports my everyday decision-making process.

I ask every moral and ethical person to consider this paradigm when deciding who will be our next president.

We will hear all manner of falsifications, misinformation, vitriol, charges, counter charges, and other useless information throughout the campaign.  Ignore it!  Look instead to the candidates’ records and to their public character and use your moral conscience to decide who is, or is not worthy of your support.

It is moral men and women who vote their conscience who will ultimately save America.  Moreover, one’s moral compass must be the ultimate guide in selecting a president who will lead with strength and determination rooted in the Constitution, and in his own moral and ethical rectitude.

Thomas Paine once wrote,

“These are the times that try men’s souls.  The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.  Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.  What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.”
~Thomas Paine, The Crisis, December 23, 1776

Now, 239 years later, our nation is again in crisis.  The policies of the previous century have failed and threaten to enslave not only this generation, but generations to come.

If you believe in America, its exceptionalism, in an individual’s God-given right to pursue life, liberty, and happiness as they see fit, then you must exercise your conscience and your moral fortitude to stand against the forces that are amassed at our gates bent on destroying us.

“If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace.  We ask not your counsels or your arms.  Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you.  May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”
~Samuel Adams


Promises

By Alden L. Benton

Promises are important in every society. Anytime two or more people need to accomplish a task or engage in commerce, promises are integral to the arrangement.

Promises take many forms and range from God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Old Testament to His promise to us all in John 3:16 in the New Testament. On another level, there are promises we make to our children, our spouses, and our elderly. In the broader society, promises are represented by contracts, laws, and, ultimately, the Constitution.

Without these rules, these agreements, society would soon cease to function.  From deciding which side of the highway we will drive upon, who will have the right-of-way, to the guarantees of a contract and the prohibitions, the minimum moral code, embodied by the body of statutory law, society would soon revert to chaos.

This is the essence of ordered liberty and of a moral society. Ordered liberty imposes a minimum order on the free will of mankind. It ensures a free society based on fundamental rights such as due process, property rights, contract rights and obligations, as well as a minimum acceptable moral and ethical standard.

When promises are broken and agreements abrogated, that minimum moral code has not been honored.  Today, these obligations and promises are seen in relative terms. Put simply, this is chaos and it is breaking down the fabric of our society.

Signed for a mortgage you could never repay? Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter, we’ll make someone else pay. Don’t have a home because you didn’t pay your mortgage? It doesn’t matter, go take over an empty house the bank owns.

Promise your children something special if they behave? Stand by your words or they will never trust you again. Told your grandmother you’d visit her and begged off with some lame excuse? You hurt her more than you could ever know.

The issue for us all, individually or as a society, is integrity. Integrity is the unification of word and deed; of intent and action. As an old adage says, “I can’t hear your words because your actions are so loud.”

Integrity is a standard to which we must hold ourselves accountable and judge others by. It is a simple binary (one or zero) decision: they have it or not. Do they keep their promises, honor their contracts, obey the law (moral and legal), and, in the United States, respect the supreme law of the land – the Constitution?

No one is perfect, but we, both as individuals and as a society, must strive to attain and maintain personal integrity. Without it, we are nothing but charlatans and thieves.

Remember this every time you make, or accept, a promise.

Remember this when you cast your ballot next November.


© 2012 and 2015 by Alden L. Benton / Independence Creek Enterprises

We Shall Overcome

“The practice of morality being necessary for the well being of society, He [God] has taken care to impress its precepts so indelibly on our hearts that they shall not be effaced by the subtleties of our brain. We all agree in the obligation of the moral principles of Jesus and nowhere will they be found delivered in greater purity than in His discourses.”
~ Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Fishback, September 1809

By Alden L. Benton

After reading a column by Doug Giles (column and video here), one thing came into my mind: Through the tax exemption for churches and the bogus “law-of-the-land,” the separation of church and state, the Left has very cleverly disarmed the power of the modern church.


NOTE

A letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists in 1802, was incorrectly interpreted and used by the U.S. Supreme Court to create the mythical, extra-constitutional, separation of church and state.

Jefferson wrote, “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, [the people, in the 1st Amendment,] declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”

The Bill of Rights (including the First Amendment) were added to the Constitution under pressure from the Anti-Federalists to protect individuals from the power of the central government. The way recent courts have interpreted the First Amendment is that government must be protected from, and devoid of, religion. The latter interpretation is the foundation of the secular Left’s attack on any public display of any vestige of religion or religious artifact of any type in a direct affront to the clear language and intent of the First Amendment.


Coupled with rampant political correctness, the threat of losing tax-exempt status functionally muzzles a church’s political voice.

Now enter the touchy-feely churches who only say what you want to hear rather than what you need to hear, and you get a wussy, ineffectual, quasi-church that is devoid of God’s teachings, especially His basic moral tenets.

The result is the Godless Left has taken over our society.  Our nation is burning while hordes of so-called Christians who have thrown in the towel, stand and watch, waiting for the rapture to whisk them away.

That is the easy road and it leads nowhere but to oblivion.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said,

“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to destruction is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.  But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”  ~Matthew 7:13-14

We are at war. We are locked in a war for the heart and soul of our country and the principles on which it was founded.

As Christians, we acknowledge that we are broken and that we live in a broken world.  Yet, many Christians have lost hope and their way, choosing the broad, wide road.

However, Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”

If we value our faith and acknowledge that it is our faith, and the principles expressed through the Judeo-Christian ethic, that made our nation great, now is the season that we must stand and fight to restore its greatness, indeed, its glory.

The words of King Solomon continue in Ecclesiastes 3:3 and verses 7-8, stating that there is indeed

A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
. . . A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

As Christians we have a moral obligation, rather, an imperative to, as best we can, live up to the standards God has set for us and, just as important, go out and take these fundamental moral principles into the world.

Christians do well in spreading the gospel to world.  However, as the old adage says, “Charity begins at home.”  We need to be more active in our efforts to teach the principles of Christianity here in the United States.

As part of the restoration of America, Christians need to become more active in politics from the local level to the national government.

The only way that we will ever restore our nation, and our government, is to elect ethical and moral men and women who adhere to their principles with honesty and integrity; men and women who value the individual, who value liberty and freedom, and who value the principles of our founding documents; and men and women who refuse to be influenced by anything other than God, their consciences, and their constituents.

That is the beginning and we must act now to take our country back from our enemies, both foreign and domestic, who actively seek to destroy us.

While we are indeed at war, I am confident that we will win, and in our victory we will usher in a new era of healing, of building up, and of peace, peace through strength, the strength of moral and ethical righteousness found only through faith in God and Jesus Christ.

I personally feel that when it comes to issues of right versus wrong, the choices are simple and clear if you have a solid moral and ethical foundation.  There are things that are always right, and there are things that are always wrong. This knowledge comes from the Judeo-Christian tradition of ethics, morality, and law and is the foundation of our legal basic tenets.

When one strays from that foundation and begins to analyze an issue and look for every possible implication and nuance to justify one’s actions, you have started down the wide road, for on the narrow road, there are no nuances or shades of grey: only right or wrong.

As a nation, and a society, we are on the wide road.  We can return to greatness.  The principles of our faith provide the map to lead us on our journey.

Which road will you choose to travel?

“If God is with us, who dare stand against us?”  Romans 8:31


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© 2015 Alden L. Benton / Independence Creek Enterprises
All Rights Reserved

What Went Wrong?

“I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.”  ~Tomas Jefferson

 By Alden L. Benton

According to the United States Census Bureau and the World Bank, the population of the United States last year (2014) was 318.9 million people.

 In 2012, a Gallup survey found:

“The large majority of Americans — 77% of the adult population — identify with a Christian religion, including 52% who are Protestants or some other non-Catholic Christian religion, 23% who are Catholic, and 2% who affiliate with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

In fact, according to a 2011 Pew Research Report, there are more Christians in the United States than in any other nation.  (See chart below)

christianity-graphic-03

I am not a religious scholar.  In fact, I am a relatively new (2+ years) Christian.  However, the basics of Christian faith, and the Judeo-Christian ethic upon which our nation is based, is simple and to the point.  It is based on one thing: the teachings of Jesus Christ.

He taught us how to live and how to act.  He gave us guidelines, moral imperatives, for living a life filled with meaning and service to Him and to others.

Now fast-forward 2,015 years since His birth.

  • Headlines from around the world scream the latest brutality, the latest atrocity from the far reaches of the globe. In the United States, the fabric of our society seems to be unraveling.
  • False claims of racism and discrimination incited the citizens of a Missouri town to riot and burn their city.
  • Advocates of the homosexual life-style choice seek out businesses that choose not to support their choices and target them for destruction, using Nazi Gestapo-like tactics (including death threats) to achieve their goal.
  • Black teenagers roam the streets looking for vulnerable white victims to assault or even murder for no reason other than their race.
  • A vast number of individuals in our country feel they are “entitled” or have a “right” to live off of someone else’s money, whether stolen from the productive by individuals or by force of government.

If more than 246 million Americans are Christian, how did this happen — what went wrong?

As a Christian and a Conservative, I see two root causes of the decline of civility and ethical behavior in the United States.

  1. More than 100 years of secular (read Godless) progressive domination of education, news, and entertainment, and
  2. The rise of the Christianity-lite church

The secular-progressive movement at its core is Godless.  Its adherents consider themselves flawless and the most highly evolved of our species.  They cannot, indeed will not accept that they are less than perfect and that they are not the source of all knowledge.  As a result, they have no respect for the wisdom of the past and no respect for the elderly or their life experience.

Moral relativism is the basis of the conduct of secular-progressives, in public and private life — if it feels good, do it and, the ends justify the means.  This lack of character breeds immorality, corruption, and deceit. To the secular-progressive, a lie is not a lie if it serves to attain some goal.

Our culture, through the mass media, entertainment, and educational establishment, has been indoctrinated with these relativistic, Godless, destructive concepts since Woodrow Wilson became president in 1913, and continues with the reign of Barack Hussein Obama today.

Traditional Christianity, rooted in the teachings of the Bible, provides the tools to resist the tyranny of the left (secular-progressives).

Traditional Christianity gives us a moral foundation and a highly developed, and unchanging, ethical framework to determine right from wrong.  There is no relativism — something is inherently right or wrong — there is no grey.

As Christians, we learn that we are not perfect, but rather we are broken (sinful by nature) and live in a broken world.

Christianity teaches us that all actions have consequences — good decisions bring rewards, bad decisions bring punishment.  Followers of Christ learn how to live a meaningful life, a life that values others as well as life itself.  We live a life that values family, hard work, and raising upright and God-fearing children.

So what happened?

Distracted from the teachings of the church by the noise of the secular-progressives, many people have left traditional churches and have joined churches I call Christianity-lite.

These churches give lip service to scripture.  They gut the meaning and gloss over its messages and teachings so as not to offend anyone.  They want to make you feel good, so they tell you what you want to know, not what you need to know.

 These churches are charlatans.  They are the false teachers of whom the apostle Paul warned us.  They are secular-progressives cloaking themselves in carefully selected scripture.  They offer cheap, relativistic options based on a foundation of quicksand — anything to fill the pews and keep the collection plates full.

 The Christian majority has been duped.  We have allowed this to happen.

The only way I can see to fix the problems we face as a nation is to return to traditional Christianity, return the leviathan that our government has become to its far smaller Constitutional limitations, and by so doing, destroy the secular-progressive movement. 

 Jim Miller, my pastor, told me that we must remember that Jesus will win in the end.  He is correct. However, until then, we must act according to His principles and help establish the Kingdom.

In God We Trust!

 “There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
~James Madison, speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 16, 1788


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© 2015 Alden L. Benton / Independence Creek Enterprises
All Rights Reserved

Can They Even Read?

“It isn’t so much that liberals are ignorant.  It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.”  ~Ronald Reagan

By Alden L. Benton

Here is a simple description of the modern American political Left:

  1. To be a part of the political Left you have to be arrogant.
  2. You must believe that you are the smartest human being ever.
  3. You must think you have the answer to all of life’s pressing problems.
  4. You must not answer to any moral authority other than your own constantly shifting needs and wants, i.e. what feels good.
  5. You must make certain that no one is ever offended by anything.
  6. You must ensure that everyone is completely safe from harm
  7. You must force your ideas upon everyone else, whether they agree with you or not.
  8. You must ignore the lessons of the past because you are smarter than anyone who came before you.

Arrogance is a given.  We all like to think we’re smart and can come with some rational answers to things.  However, the political Left doesn’t acknowledge that they are really no smarter, and I would say in reality dumber, than the rest of us.

Just look at the president.  He offers no new or original political thinking.  His policies and views are just bad re-runs of things that have been tried before—and resulted in failure.  They think it’s smart — NOT!

Trying the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

Real life is not perfect and carefree.  It is full of trials and troubles that test our resolve, our fortitude, our morals, and our faith.  Life is dangerous.  No government can keep us completely free of harm.  It is our personal responsibility.

As Ronald Reagan once said, “Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”

And as far as not wanting anyone to suffer from some offense, real or imagined, I say hogwash.  The entire principle of free speech is based upon saying what is on your mind and in your heart.  If that offends you — Deal with it! 

The whole idea of political correctness (PC) is power through censorship.  This power of social censorship prevents any meaningful discussion about anything.  It promotes fear. 

It leads me to wonder when they are going to rename the card suit of spades in a world where the radical gays think the Christmas food fruitcake is homophobic.

The old rock and roll singer Frank Zappa summed up PC the best when he said, “Political correctness is the language of cowardice.”

The last two points in my list are obvious flaws that people in power suffer from on both sides of the political aisle.  It is worth mentioning because for the Left, it is not just a malady, but also an entire way of life both in and out of politics.

Now the question of whether or not the American political Left can read.  To be honest the evidence leaves me wondering. 

It is clear they do not read the U.S. Constitution, they do not read the Bible, and they can’t be bothered reading history books or the legislation they vote on.  If they do, they either don’t understand what they have read or misinterpret or manipulate its meaning.

What has drawn me to this question is an article published on Breitbart.com with this headline: Veterans Affairs Bans Christmas Cards to Troops Over Religious Content.

What on earth are these fools thinking about?

Whatever one’s opinion on our current wars, the government, or anyone else, has absolutely no right to deny any wounded warrior a Christmas card.  These men and women gave us their service in the most ugly of circumstances — war.  Censoring their mail for religious content is not the way to repay them. They did not fight to preserve censorship or an anti-Christian attack government.

Christmas, despite the fact it has morphed into a commercial holiday, is still a fundamentally religious, Christian religious holiday that is officially recognized by the U.S. Government.

The actions of the Veterans Administration over the past few years is just one battle in a war being waged by the political Left against both the U.S. Constitution and Christianity.  If you defeat one, you defeat the other and gain total control.

First, it is clear that the political Left, even those who profess religious, simply cannot accept that there is a higher power greater than them or their idea of an all-powerful government.  Those of us who call ourselves Christians answer only to God.

The second front in this attack is on Amendment 1 of the United States Constitution.  Amendment 1 states,

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

This amendment frightens the political Left the most.  It is the foundation of our liberty and a fundamental protection against the power of government.  It is clear and concise.  

Without the First Amendment, we will be forced to worship at the altar of an all-powerful government led by a self-proclaimed Messiah; without it, we will not be allowed to say what is on our minds or question the government; without it, we cannot meet in peaceful protest to give voice to our concerns.  We will become enslaved, in body and in soul.

This is not the world in which I choose to live my earthly life.

This is not the world I want to leave to my children and the generations that follow me.

I will never bend my knee, or my will, to anyone but God and will teach my children to do the same.

Yes, the political left can read, but they only read what would help them take control of the rest of us.

We must stand and fight before it is too late.

“You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.  We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness.  If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here.  We did all that could be done.”  ~Ronald Reagan


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