Freedom

Peruta v. California

The NRA is a true grass-roots organization, and the collective power of its membership is simply unparalleled—Thom Tillis

With The United States Supreme Court passing on Peruta v. California  (a case involving conceal carry outside of the home), and lower courts split on numerous Second Amendment cases, I suspect the NRA will not allow this issue to go away anytime soon. 

Odds are that another gun rights case will come before the court sooner than later; after all, it’s been nearly 10-years since the justices have decided on a major Second Amendment issue. 

In a strongly worded statement by NRA-ILA Director Chris Cox, he makes no bones about where the NRA stands on SCOTUS’s snub of Peruta v. California. 

NRA’s Clout will surely drive this issue forward and force SCOTUS to make another landmark decision on a second amendment case. It will be interesting to watch how this political drama plays out. 

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Thanksgiving: A Reason To Celebrate

Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me ‘to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:’ 

George Washington, Oct. 3, 1789

 thanksgivingI must confess that I’ve always viewed Thanksgiving as the Holiday we must get past in order to focus on Christmas. I imagine a lot of people have the same view; whether they will admit it or not. Also, many people wrongly ascribe Thanksgiving to oppression and tyranny. It’s a shame this mindset has taken hold; just as the view that “we must get past [Thanksgiving] in order to focus on Christmas” has. Through the lens of maturity, I have come to realize these views were–and are–wrong.

Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to reflect upon our lives, and to focus on what is important: family, friends, and health. Despite Thanksgiving being steeped in religious dogma, the most ardent atheist appreciates these facets of life. This commonality that people share in appreciating life’s rewards, makes it unfortunate this noble Holiday falls when it does.

If Thanksgiving were observed earlier in the year (January or February) people would not be distracted by the yuletide. It’s to our detriment that we don’t truly appreciate the blessings we have because we focus on the Christmas season, shopping, and New Year’s Eve.

Although I’m not going to convince people differently, Thanksgiving doesn’t celebrate brutality and persecution. If this notion was set aside, and people focused on being thankful for their individual successes. Then much of the controversy over this Holiday would vanish.

Simply put, Thanksgiving is a time to commemorate the blessings of life. Regardless of a person’s background or creed, it’s the one-day of the year for everyone to stop, look back, and be thankful for life’s blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/GW/gw004.html

Autumn: A Colorful Beginning

“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.”
Jim Bishop

IMG_0073Despite the calendar’s official declaration that a new year starts in January, fall is the season of new beginnings. It may sound odd, but it seems to be the case. This is proven with the start of a new school year for students, the launching of new television programs, and another Holiday season starts to rush upon us.

It can be said that fall heralds a major change. Just as spring brings forth life over the months of March, April, and May, fall closes the life cycle for many organisms around us. The fall season is also a time to appreciate the respite from the heat of summer, and to reflect upon the seasons that passed us by.

In the days of the wild frontier fall was used to prepare for the winter, and this is (most likely) why the academic calendar starts and stops when it does. But times have changed.

In today’s world, Hollywood views the fall as an opportunity to provide entertainment for people as they huddle in their homes because we are more willing to engage with mindless entertainment that TV offers.IMG_0056

Historically fall kicks off the Holiday season with Halloween or another type of celebration of the dead. I doubt it is a coincidence that as life appears to be waning in anticipation of winter; cultures around the world honor the fallen during this time of year. Once the ritual of honoring the dead is complete. We look forward to various religious Holidays and the goodwill that they bring.

With all that said, I like fall for a simpler reason. Autumn is a profound season because as the flora slows to a halt in expectation of winter. Nature leaves us a remarkable kaleidoscope of its handiwork.

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/schoolyear1.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Saints%27_Day

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallowe%27en

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Courage of the Six

It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer“– Sir William Blackstone (1765)

In the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, emotions are running high between those who agree and disagree with the jury’s decision. Each side has cause for an emotional reaction, but those who are exchanging heated rhetoric towards others should be careful because they are losing sight of what’s most important: the jurors. Instead, everyone should take a moment to realize the courage of the six people who sat on the Zimmerman jury because their lives have forever changed.

When called to serve on a jury. A person’s life becomes complicated for the duration of the trial. In this case the jury was sequestered, which effectively put their lives on hold. Jury duty is an honor, and these six individuals answered the call and fulfilled their civic duty.

This case was certainly a tough and heart wrenching trial to deliberate. On one hand you had a decedent who was only 17-years old (and just going home), and on the other hand a man who was trying to protect his neighborhood, which was victimized by crime recently.

It is tragic that one person ended up losing his life during their encounter. What makes this case even sadder is that it appears both mistakenly took the other as a nefarious individual with criminal intent.

Our justice system is based on the assumption of innocence, due process, and the rule of law. Because of the case’s high profile (prior to the trial), the jury knew that any ruling would carry ramifications. A decision of “not guilty” would be seen as antipathetic to the Martin family and minorities, while a “guilty” verdict would be viewed as political motivated or jury intimidation.

If you think that Zimmerman was justified in his use of force; then you are relieved that our justice system works. Those who believe Zimmerman got away with murder are obviously disappointed. It’s not much solace, but consider Blackstone’s formulation (stated above).

A Crow’s View knows that the Zimmerman acquittal is a bitter pill to swallow for Trayvon Martin supporters; however, both sides can celebrate that we have a system that tries to zealously protect its citizens from wrongful conviction.

Our justice system, in many cases, allows the guilty to go free in order to spare the innocent. With this in mind, I believe the jurors acted in a courageous manner.

They were tasked with the awesome responsibility of deciding Zimmerman’s fate. A “guilty” verdict would’ve been the easiest verdict to return–wash your hands of this case–and let the appeals process run its course. Instead, the jury made a ruling of conscience.

The jurors shouldn’t be criticized nor victimized because they decided “not guilty,” nor should they be celebrated for allowing Zimmerman to go free.

The jury did what was asked of them, nothing more and nothing less. They followed the court’s instructions, Florida law, and then weighed all the evidence. Afterwards they handed down a decision.

Going forward the jurors lives are forever altered by this case. It’s unfortunate that these people will probably become fodder for late night comics, targeted by the media, and live in fear because of their verdict.

What should be done is simple, we all thank the jurors for their service and sacrifice during the trial. Then allow them to live their lives in peace.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackstone%27s_formulation

Loss of Confidence: Power, Scandal, & Corruption

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

The recent rounds of scandals should be a reminder to all Americans how power corrupts. For the most part, I’ve always objected to Baron Acton’s famous quote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

This phrase has always left me perplexed. How does a person changes because of the acquisition of power?

I don’t know how to answer this question because I’ve always believed a decent person that is well grounded will not be corrupted. Instead of blaming power, I blame the person. Power corrupts those who are not ready to possess it. Good people and bad people are separated by their readiness to wield power.

The three scandals we see playing out are evidence of the current administration’s inability to hold authority.

As a journalism student, I’m appalled by the AP wiretap. The natural reaction of a government official or agency is to claim national security. This claim is spurious at best. If that’s the case, then other–more acceptable means–could have been employed. This is a direct assault the press.

In my opinion this should not be allowed to stand. Several people need to be held to account; nothing short of jail time should result from this first amendment assault on the media.

The IRS scandal is troubling on so many fronts. I find it hard to imagine Americans using the awesome power of the IRS against fellow citizens, but that appears to be what happened. The idea that employees of this institution targeted other Americans, for their political beliefs, is bone chilling.

In this instance, I agree with Speaker Boehner who stated, “…who is going to jail over this scandal?” Democrats and Republicans need to come together to make sure that this will never happen again.

I believe this issue is systemic. In order to fix it mass firings and purging of management (at all levels) needs to take place. This scandal is–yet another–example of people in our government wielding power they were not ready to possess.

Finally, the Benghazi attack is an enormously sad event. The assassination of Ambassador Stephens and the killing of three other U.S. citizens is a slap to the administration and our nation, but more than that the assault on our embassy was an act of war.

Mixed reports suggest Stephens was tortured and sodomized before he died. Although this fact hasn’t been incontrovertibly proven, the brutality is factual. If critics are correct that President Obama went to bed without knowing the fate of Ambassador Stephens. It truly would be reprehensible.

A lot of talk is being bantered about regarding emails and who knew what, but I think the issue is much greater than that. Like the other scandals, it appears that Benghazi resulted from either incompetence or corruption from various levels of the administration.

These issues need to be addressed by Congress and the American people. Partisan politics should be set aside.

If top-level officials are at fault in any of these scandals, they need to be removed from office. If it rises to the level of the President, so be it.

Ultimately, President Obama and his appointees are responsible for what goes on in their agencies. The buck stops with those in high office.

It’s sad that this administration wasn’t ready for power.  If it were, we wouldn’t see a firestorm of scandals and corruption.  I hope the President can clean up his administration before Congress or the American people have to do it.

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/absolute-power-corrupts-absolutely.html

http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/15/politics/irs-conservative-targeting/index.html?hpt=hp_inthenews

http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/tygrrrr-express/2012/sep/13/kill-every-islamist-and-eat-bacon-their-graves/

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324082604578485453453286058.html

Rauchen Ist Verboten! (Smoking Is Prohibited)

20130319-004746.jpgFreedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err––Mahatma Gandhi

I’m not a smoker nor do I care for smoking. It’s a disgusting habit that should be eliminated from a person’s lifestyle, but I do take exception when little tin-god politicians or administrators put in place regulations that strip people of enjoying a lawful activity.

While walking through a local park, I noticed a sign that announced “no smoking.” What struck me about that sign is that it wasn’t in a pavilion, restroom, or another enclosed area, but a wide-open space on the park grounds. For some reason this sign got my blood boiling.

It is obvious that the hysteria of second hand smoke is alive and well. I don’t care for the smell of smoke or its affect on human health, but to forbid a person from smoking outside while at a public park seems over the top to me.

I find it odd that in the same park that bans open-air smoking; the “powers that be”  don’t have a problem with drinking alcohol outdoors. For that matter, the ban only applies to tobacco, so I’m guessing Marijuana is alright assuming it’s medicinal (to meet the state law exception). Something just seems backwards to me.

I know most people will disagree with me, but adults have a right to smoke; furthermore, people have the right to be stupid. Even if it means they’re going to do something harmful to themselves, like smoking tobacco products, drinking alcohol, or eating unhealthy foods.

My take on smoking and the tobacco industry is simple. If it is so horrible then BAN IT ALL. Don’t slowly kill the tobacco industry through litigation and laws that will drive the business under through attrition. Either do it all at once, or allow people to do what they did for hundreds of years…..have their vices! In today’s world people know the dangers of tobacco use. Let those who want to use it, have it.

Most smokers I know are good and decent people who will go out of their way to accommodate those who don’t smoke. I’ve even been around complete strangers that will ask if their smoking will bother me. If I say it will, then they voluntarily move or just put their cigarettes away.

For those of us who don’t care for second hand smoke, there are plenty of indoor smoking bans both public and private to visit. Banning outdoorIWantYou1 smoking is  ridiculous. It just torments smokers; furthermore, all it does is give those of us who don‘t like to smoke a bad name; an outdoor smoking ban really does sound like persecution that’s reminiscent of 1930s Germany.