April 24, 2014

Federal Lands

Posted in Politics tagged , , , at 1:39 am by gruundehn

I haven’t thought about this a lot, only for the last day or so. I had a thought when reading about the rancher in Texas whose land the Federal Government is taking at least some of it, and which the Federal Government took some years ago.

The thought was: The Federal Government has to have permission from the State Legislature in order to take land inside a state. his is in the Federal Constitution, Article I Section 8. When did the legislature of either Texas or Nevada give permission for the Federal land grabs that have been in the news lately?

Texas was a sovereign nation before becoming a State and the land title of the disputed land was issued while Texas was a sovereign nation, so when did the legislature give permission for the Federals to grab that land back thirty years ago and now? Nevada is a different case, it was a territory of America before becoming a State. Which brings the question: When a territory becomes a State, can the Federal Government legally retain title to land in that State without the permission of the legislature?

If a State includes all the land within the defined boundaries then the Federal Government must obtain permission to take any land. If not, then shouldn’t the retained Federal land be defined in the definition of the State? And I mean something other than a lame “the Federal Government retains certain lands and does not transfer those lands to the State” or however it gets worded. Look at the Federal Constitution – there is a clear stipulation that the Federal Government is NOT an absolute master of the various States. However much the Federal Government has usurped such mastery over the decades. I am of the opinion that once a State is created, the Federal Government loses all claims to any land in that State and must obtain permission from the legislature of that State in order to take any land in that State.

This is an area that needs to be clearly defined in case law. I don’t know if this issue was brought up in the old cases where the Federal Government originally took the lands in question but it is an issue that needs to be settled. If the Federal Government can just take land without the permission of the State, then what checks on Federal power are there in this regard? The courts? From all indications, so far, the courts will not protect the population from abuses of government power except in rare instances.

April 21, 2014

Easter Sunday, 2014

Posted in Personal tagged , , , , at 12:41 am by gruundehn

He is Risen; The Lord is Risen indeed.

Happy Easter to all; if you happen to be Jewish, Happy Passover.

I missed Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services for various reasons. Which is a bit odd since I like both services, Good Friday especially. Why do I like Good Friday services? As near as I can figure, it is because it is the day that the powers of the world thought they won and I know what is coming. Just a guess since I have never sat down and thought the whole thing through. I do like baptism services also and I can’t see a connection between the two that would explain my likes. Funerals are something I do not like, I don’t want to even attend my own. If you can see a thread that runs between all of these, one that makes sense, I would love to hear about it; I can’t see anything myself.

I served as an usher today at the main service, the 10 AM one. Several people just wandered around during the entire service and chatted, making it hard for me to hear the service. These were mostly young people, and I am willing to bet that they would show more respect at a rock concert. There was also the problem when people who are not used to the service went to Communion and just stood there unsure of what to do. This held up the people behind them. We used to station someone at the front in order to guide people but stopped that practice when it was decided that it wasn’t necessary and that the person standing there got in the way of the people going to Communion. Today we could have used someone doing that but all the ushers, and we had two extras, were busy elsewhere getting people up for Communion. Oh well, everyone who wanted Communion got it so there wasn’t a real problem.

Spent some time attending the monthly Pima County Election Integrity Commission meeting last Friday. Now that we have done our duty on getting new election equipment, for now, we are studying the cost of elections in order to make a recommendation on the idea of all-mail elections or eliminating all the precinct voting places and having just one or at most a few voting places. The problem I see with all-mail is the increased chance of voter fraud and the problem with eliminating precinct polls is the trouble getting to where one can vote. However, given what the Commission has done in the year I’ve been a member, I expect that we will consider these issues very carefully before making a recommendation to the Pima County Board of Supervisors. I expect that they will do what they think is best for the political elite in the County.

I got a real good look at my hair last week. I’m going bald faster than I expected. I don’t really have a problem with going bald, it’s a natural part of getting old. I do not touch up my grey hair and I don’t intend to ever get a wig or anything else that hides being bald. I don’t expect to shave my head, a shaved head and a full bear would look weird I think. I haven’t seen that many men with that combination and I haven’t seen anyone that didn’t look weird, so it’s a no-go for me.

If you wish to do so, please pray for: Katharine the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Kirk the Bishop of Arizona, and Steve and the other clergy of Grace-St. Paul’s Episcopal Church; for those in the military, especially those in combat zones especially Ronald Berryhill, Christopher Gallo, Michael Hannan, Andrew Harris, Donna Heath, Frederick Jenning, Jordan S. Marks, Erick Osche, Mark Pundt, Terrence Robinson, Laramie Struble, Brian; for those in need especially Katharine Bernard, Catharine Brown, Eleanor Feeney, Oma “Sam” Guard, Jacque Hendrix, Richard Jenrow, Nikki Kerns, Christine Nelson, Suzanne Nystrom, Danielle Phillips, Doree Ramey, Barbara Reynolds, Susan Southwick, Dick Steele, Heather Williams, Michi Yamasaki, Millie, Zuniga, Ed, Lee, Betsy Bret Harte & Mkay Zeeb, Laura Briggs, Wayne Douglas, Donna Guy, Francesca Jarvis, Robert Jonas, Pat & Greg Kimmins, Julie LaRue, Hedy Lanczek, Maribel Ortiz, Peggy Southwick, Mary Wilcox, Jerry & Rondy, Barbara, Karl, Leah, Monica & Carri, Nichole, Nick & Emily, Rebecca, Susan, Tony; for animal companions in need especially Laura; for those who have died especially Helen Baker, David Gooden, Dorothy Jackson; for animal companions who have died especially Artie. I also ask that you pray for the millions of Christians and Jews who have been murdered, driven from their homelands or otherwise persecuted by Muslims around the world.

What I’m watching: Just the occasional news program, the occasional Pawn Stars or old western. I’m not going through any series of programs right now.

What I’m reading: Getting set up for my upcoming campaign so I’m reading the setting and the rules since the rules are of a system we haven’t used in a long time. I’m also reading some of the Imponderables books.

What I’m writing: I got a little done ion Magic in the Monastery and I’ll be getting a lot done on the campaign setting using some of the hooks given in The World’s Largest City as starting points.

April 17, 2014

Election Integrity

Posted in Politics tagged , , at 12:34 am by gruundehn

If you’ve been following my blog here, you know that I am a member of the Pima County Election Integrity Commission. It is a task that I like, as I spent twenty years of my life on active duty defending, among other rights, the right to vote; and I feel that voter / election fraud is a serious problem.

Perhaps you read about the charge that over 35,000 people are said to have voted in North Carolina and another jurisdiction in 2012. Granted, there are questions about that number especially since, at present, only about 1% of those have been charged with voter fraud. But even 350 people, in one state and one election, is serious since those 350 will have, if the allegations are true, negated another 350 votes. Those 350 votes that were negated could have decided a local election, and 350 times 50 (the number of states) is 17,500 votes which does not seem like much but each fraudulent vote is an insult. Add to this the 81 dead people who voted long after they were dead (4,050 nationwide) and a serious problem is shown. A serious problem, not some paranoid fantasy.

Democrats typically oppose voter ID by saying that poor people can’t afford the necessary ID. This is even though such ID is often required elsewhere besides election sites. People must provide an ID when entering any Federal building and many State and local buildings as well. ID is required by many, if not most, businesses when using a credit card or debit card and all businesses when purchasing age-restricted items if the purchaser does not look old enough. Many events, especially political ones, require an ID as well. Indeed, those who rant against voter ID are almost always those who require an ID in order to attend a rally where they castigate requiring an ID to vote.

Identification cards, either a driver’s license or a state ID card, are too often required for many other purposes for the charge that they are only a tool to suppress voter turnout to be valid. Here in Arizona voter ID has been the requirement for years (I forget how many) and there is no evidence that voter turnout has been suppressed. However, voter suppression is a sexy issue and one that gathers a great deal of attention and reaction.

It would be nice if those making the claim that voter ID requirements suppress voter turnout would be required to prove their case but so far the national news media, and indeed local news media as well, have refused to do so. Those who should be the guardians of truth have failed to do their duty; perhaps they are more concerned with THE TRUTH and thus ignore inconvenient facts that get in the way.

Too many men and women have died to preserve the right to vote in order for voter fraud to be allowed to continue. I know that it cannot be totally stamped out, murder is still with us after all, but it can be treated as the horrible act that it is and rooted out whenever possible and fought whenever it isn’t possible to root it out completely (Chicago anyone?).

April 14, 2014

Palm Sunday, 2014

Posted in Personal tagged , , , at 1:13 am by gruundehn

Since Palm Sunday is on the second Sunday of April, I should have travelled to Tempe for Chapter meeting but I didn’t because I was scheduled for participating in the service at Grace-St. Paul’s. The Gospel for Palm Sunday and the Gospel for Good Friday were both read and the Good Friday Gospel was read as play with various people reading specific people in the Gospel, I was Judas Iscariot. So, I got to read, kind of, but I missed Chapter. I should make it the 27th with no problem but next month with Memorial Day, I may be asked to take part in the service on the 4th Sunday and miss Chapter again. I do want to go to Tempe for both Chapter meetings per month but it seems like once per month is what I will be able to do for some time.

Also at church, a friend visited to do homework for his New Testament class. He is an atheist, former Roman Catholic. He liked the service and I answered some questions he had. I hope this is the start of something, but without his approval I am not going to push the issue. I really don’t like being pushy, I had to do too much of that when I was an NCO on active duty.

I am still looking for a breviary. None of the local stores, nor the gift shop of the one Episcopal Church that still has pone, carries the Anglican Breviary so I’m going to have to order online. I know where I can get one without trouble and it is occasionally listed on eBay and Amazon. So, Wednesday I order one. It will be nice to have, even if I do not continue as a Benedictine Canon, but that is not a weakening of resolve since I do not intend to drop out unless it becomes quite clear that my longing to become a monk is false; at least, in this form.

I’ve been thinking about my Arlun campaign and I am setting it to the side. I will continue to work on it but the campaign I’m going to start will be something completely different. There is a campaign setting called The World’s Largest City published by AEG. I have a copy and will run in that with side adventures. I won’t have to build a world, I can add bits and pieces to use published adventures. The game system I will be using will be the D20 / Open License system, so I have to go back over my books on that and get caught up.

Last week the Pima County Board of Supervisors put out a proclamation based upon the propaganda that women make only 77 cents per dollar that men make. That’s true but that is a median value, derived by comparing (for example) the starting quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals with a cheerleader for the Bengals. Once like is compared to like the difference becomes something on the order of 5 cents plus or minus 1 cent. In general women do make less than men at the same job but there are reasons for that which have nothing to do with racism. I intend to speak on this this upcoming Tuesday. I will have 3 minutes and so far I have been able to get my comments down to about 15 minutes. This is a complex subject that should not be treated so simplistically as is happening on the National stage. I may just write out my comments and speak an abbreviated version. This might even be my political rant on Wednesday although I haven’t decided on what subject I will write about yet.

My arm is getting better in some ways but lifting it straight out to the side is still a problem. I need to do the exercises more regularly. I am able to use my right arm for a lot of things now and the soreness, while still present, is not as strong as before. There are days when I wish I had not opted to have the rod put in and just trust to a cast to get my arm to heal properly. However, it is too late, by several months, and at the time I was afraid of my arm not healing right. I just wish it would hurry up and heal.

For those of you who wish to do so, please pray for: Katharine the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Kirk the Bishop of Arizona, Steve and the other clergy of Grace-St. Paul’s Episcopal Church; for those in the military especially those in combat zones especially Ronald Berryhill, Christopher Gallo, Michael Hannan, Andrew Harris, Donna Heath, Frederick Jenning, Jordan S. Marks, Eric Osche, Mark Pundt, Terrence Robinson, Laramie Struble, Brian, Adrian, Ken, Adam, Margaret H., Shannon, Kevin, Chris, Melanie, Jason; for those in need especially Katherine Bernard, Eleanor Feeney, Oma “Sam” Guard, Jacque Hendrix, Richard Jenrow, Nikki Kerns, Christine Nelson, Suzanne Nystrom, Danielle Phillips, Doree Ramey, Barbara Reynolds, Susan Southwick, Dick Steele, Heather Williams, Michi Yamasaki, Millie Zuniga, Ed, Lee, Betsy Bret Harte & Mkay Zeeb, Laura Briggs, Donna Guy, Francesca Jarvis, Robert Jonas, Pat & Greg Kimmins, Julie LaRue, Hedy Lanczek, Maribel Ortiz, Peggy Southwick, Mary Wilcox, Jerry & Rondy, Barbara, Karl, Leah, Monica & Carri, Nichole, Nick & Emily, Rebecca, Susan, Tony, Jane, Genie, Donnie, Rick, Russ, Shirley, Cedric, Jeri, Shane, Shannon, Virginia, Donald, Odell, Monica, Eleanor, Patty;  for animal companions in need especially Luna; for those who have died especially Helen Baker, David Gooden, Dorothy Jackson; for animal companions who have died especially Artie. I also ask your prayers for the millions of Christians and Jews who have been murdered, driven from their homelands, or otherwise persecuted by Muslims all across the world in Muslim majority countries and countries where there is no Muslim majority.

What I’m watching: Still working on the Mythbusters DVDs I recently bought. I like that series quite a lot.

What I’m reading: Still on the Calvin Coolidge biography but with the need to now relearn the D20 books, that will slow down until I get caught up with the campaign setting and the rules system again

What I’m writing: I got nothing written last week and I’m not sure why. Yes, I was busy but I’ve been busy before and I was able to get at least a paragraph or so written. I’ll just have to make sure I get something done this week.

April 9, 2014

Utopia

Posted in Politics tagged , , , at 11:28 pm by gruundehn

A perfect society is such a wonderful idea, what could possibly be wrong there? Well, everything.

If you read any of the books describing a perfect society such as Plato or Thomas Moore or Thomas Hobbes, or Karl Marx or whoever else tries to describe a perfect society one fact stands out. The perfect society is perfect for only a minute fraction of the population. Everyone else is suppressed and forced to live under conditions that could be best described as horrifying. And this is inherent in every such perfect society.

Perfect societies are perfect only for the person who dreams them up. For everyone else, ;their choices are limited because if they do not conform to the dictates of the one whose utopia it is then obviously society is not perfect. If there are any dissenting voices those voices must be eliminated because they might get people to not live the dream of the person who designed this utopia and live their own dream. Once the original dreamer is no longer, then the dream passes on to another dictator who modifies the dream to match the new dream, obviously merely clarifying some obscure points because changing the dream means that the dream wasn’t perfect and the new dreamer has power because of the perfection of the old dream. However, regardless of how much the dream is clarified, the utopia is a hell for the vast majority of the people living in it. That is why the Iron Curtain existed, to keep people in that hell for the benefit of the elite minority.

Go ahead, try to concoct a utopia that does not require violence or the threat thereof for it to work. Be careful, you have to know something of Human nature o else your utopia will be based upon everyone complies with what I want them to do because they realize it is for the best. They won’t realize it is for the best, they will disagree with you and insist on trying to realize their own dreams and trying to make life better for their children. Your utopian dream doesn’t even come second unless that person realizes a path to power over others in being part of your dream and enforcing your dream.

When I was in my early 20′s I tried to create a utopia that would make a perfect society that everyone would acknowledge and willing be a part of. Unfortunately I had done some studying of Human psychology and the reality of Human nature kept interfering with perfection. There is n0 person on the face of the Earth today, or in the foreseeable future, who I would trust to run a Utopian society. I would trust God but only God. You, me, or anybody else I cannot trust. But regardless of how impossible the idea is, despots keep trying to install a perfect society. Plato was smart enough to state in his book The Republic that his version of a perfect society would not work. No one else has risen to that level of wisdom yet.

So, when someone tries to talk you into supporting some program designed to make society better, remember that it will fail on the rocks of Human nature. Society will improve over the years, decades and centuries but improvement cannot be imposed without making it worse for the majority of people.

April 7, 2014

5th Sunday in Lent, 2014

Posted in Personal tagged , , , , , , at 1:28 am by gruundehn

I have on occasion been late in posting one of these posts but last Wednesday I totally missed a post. So, if you have been following my political rants and wondered, I screwed up. I didn’t realize that I had forgotten to post until Friday afternoon, Tucson time, and decided to not do anything then.

Last week was a fairly normal week, with my doctor’s visit as the major thing out of ordinary. I found out that my legs and feet are swelling up again, I should have realized it without the doctor mentioning it since my shoes are getting tight but this is something that happened slowly so I missed it. I did learn that I am using my cane right, I have it on the side where I’m dragging my foot a lot, so it is nice that I guessed right on that. As I have been saying a lot lately: I don’t mind getting old, I do mind getting decrepit.

One other thing I finally realized last week is that I haven’t been moving my right arm during the day. Deliberate exercises aside, I almost never use my right arm now and that is hindering my recovery. Most of what I used to do with my right (dominate) arm, I now do with my left one. And, as I just said, that is hindering my recovery. So, I have to remember to use my right arm and force myself to use it. And it aches when I do that but I have to do it. A lot of the aches are the result of the rod holding my arm together and when I see the surgeon Tuesday I expect him to suggest having another surgery to remove it. Remembering what the last surgery was like, I am against doing that. I’ll take the aches rather than go through the pain again. Even if this time it won’t be so painful since my arm isn’t in a cast and thus blood draws can happen through my right arm where the veins can be found. Last time, the cast prevented blood draw (and anesthetic being given prior to the surgery) using that arm. In my left arm the veins are not accessible so blood draw had to be done through my hand and I was screaming in pain each time that happened. Plus, the surgeon gave me an anesthetic through the old-fashioned mask until I was out and then for the remainder of the surgery it was given through my foot. After the surgery I had trouble walking for a day or so. Granted, my right arm could be used this time but I am still not welcoming a repeat of the surgery.

I am still hunting down an Anglican Breviary. None of the church supply stores here have it or can get it through their regular supply chain. I am going to try through one of the local Episcopal churches and if they cannot get it, then I am going to have to order it on-line. I would rather go through a local source and support local businesses when I can. Then, my next hunt is for a suitable cassock. Again, I doubt I can get one locally and will have to order through an on-line store.

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday and I should be travelling to Tempe for Chapter meeting but I am scheduled to take part in the service so I skip this week. My usher schedule lets me travel twice a month now and what happens? The first week I should travel up to Tempe this month, I can’t. However, next month will be the start of twice a month until there is a fifth Sunday in a month when instead of ushering on the third Sunday of a month, it will be the second and I miss Chapter for that week and am back on the once a month instead of twice a month schedule for attending Chapter.

For those of you who wish to do so, please pray for Katharine the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Kirk the Bishop of Arizona, Steve and the other clergy of Grace-St. Paul’s Episcopal Church; for those in the military especially those in combat zones especially Ronald Berryhill, Christopher Gallo, Michael Hannan, Andrew Harris, Donna Heath, Frederick Jenning, Jordan S. Marks, Eric Osche, Mark Pundt, Terrence Robinson, Laramie Struble, Brian, Adrian, Ken, Adam, Margaret H., Shannon, Chris, Melanie, Jason; for those in need especially Katherine Bernard, Eleanor Feeney, Oma “Sam” Guard, Richard Jenrow, Nikki Kerns, Christine Nelson, Suzanne Nystrom, Danielle Phillips, Doree Ramey, Susan Southwick, Dick Steele, Heather Williams, Michi Yamasaki, Millie Zuniga, Ed, Lee, Betsy Bret Harte & Mkay Zeeb, Laura Briggs, Donna Guy, Francesca Jarvis, Robert Jonas, Julie LaRue, Hedy Lanczek, Maribel Ortiz, Peggy Southwick, Mary Wilcox, Jerry & Rondy, Karl, Leah, Mike & Rainbow, Monica & Carri, Nichole, Nick & Emily, Rebecca, Susan, Jane, Genie, Donnie, Rick, Russ, Shirley, Cedric, Jeri, Shane, Shannon, Virginia, Donald, Odell, Monica, Eleanor, Patty; for animal companions in need especially Luna; for those who have died especially Helen Baker, Dorothy Jackson, James E. Chaffin III; for animal companions who have died especially Artie. I also ask that you pray for the millions of Christians and Jews who have been murdered, driven from their homes, or otherwise persecuted in Syria, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria, Kenya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Mali, and elsewhere by Muslims.

What I am reading: Coolidge by Amity Shlaes. This is an interesting biography so far. Like most Americans, I knew little of the man.

What I am watching: Mythbusters Season 6 & 7. I just bought these and am going through them. I like the series as it presents science in an interesting way. I doubt it is always accurate, I actually know it isn’t, but it is fun to watch as long as I don’t watch too many episodes in a row.

What I am writing: I got a little done on Magic in the Monastery done last week. I hope to get more done this week.

March 30, 2014

4th Sunday in Lent, 2014

Posted in Personal tagged , , , , at 10:44 pm by gruundehn

Yesterday I was up in Tempe Arizona for the ceremony where Brother Philip took his final vows as a Benedictine Canon. Very nice ceremony. I await the day when I take mine although it will probably be at least two years or maybe three before I reach that stage. I met a couple of Benedictine Canons from another community in the Phoenix area. If I remember right they were the Order of Silent Contemplation. I could be wrong, my memory isn’t as good as it used to be (it never was) and I heard their name only the once and never remembered to ask for them to repeat it so I could remember it. Anyway, their Order is another ecumenical order much like the Order of Saint Andrew. The one monk who I spoke with the most said that he had been told be an old Benedictine monk that the form of monastic life that we canons represented was probably the future of monastic life. That is, living under a Rule but not in a community but rather in the community and meeting as a community on a regular basis. I think that having a monastic community attached to each parish would be a good thing since the monastic spirituality would be more visible and available to the parish.

Last Friday, as I was on my way to the Election Integrity Commission meeting I talked with a woman about spirituality. I thought I spoke well and she did say that she would attend Grace-St. Paul’s this Sunday (today) but I didn’t see her so she either forgot, was tied up with something else, or was just being polite. I hope it wasn’t the last reason.

Looking back over what I did last week, it wasn’t much. I seem to remember being busy all week but thinking on the results, little or nothing. The high point, perhaps, was getting a haircut and beard trim. Late last spring I was waiting at a bus stop and a woman came up and spoke about my having her do my hair. She was at a “multicultural” beauty salon but I admired her willingness to go out and drum up business so I tried her. I was the only white guy in the salon, everyone else except one of the beauticians was black, but I got a good haircut and I enjoyed myself. Plus, the salon is within walking distance for me. So, if you are in Tucson and are willing to try her, I recommend Julia’s Multicultural Beauty Center and ask for Tammie. And I hate to make recommendations.

Tuesday, probably, or maybe Wednesday I will go to St. Philip’s in the Hills to visit their gift shop and see about getting an Anglican Breviary. As I have mentioned, I intend to become a Benedictine Canon and a breviary (a monastic prayer book set up according to the Rule) will be greatly helpful. I can get one on-line but I prefer to use local stores when I can. I may have to order on-line but I’ll try St. Philip’s first. Since the buses don’t go by there, I’ll have a nice walk. And I need to exercise more ion order to get my weight down to where I want it to be.

If you wish to do so, please pray for: Katharine the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Kirk the Bishop of Arizona, Steve and the other clergy of Grace-St. Paul’s Episcopal Church; for those in the military and especially those in combat zones especially Ronald Berryhill, Christopher Gallo, Michael Hannan, Andrew Harris, Donna Heath, Frederick Jenning, Jordan S. Marks, Eric Osche, Mark Pundt, Terrence Robinson, Laramie Struble, Brian, Adrian, Ken, Adam, Margaret H., Shannon, Chris, Melanie, Jason; for those in need especially Robin Beelen, Katherine Bernard, Jay Elliston, Eleanor Feeney, Oma “Sam” Guard, Sara Heitshu, Dorothy Jackson, Richard Jenrow, Dana Maiello, Christine Nelson, Suzanne Nystrom, Jennifer Orvis, Doree Ramey, Susan Southwick, Dick Steele, Heather Williams, Millie Zuniga, Ed, Lee, Betsy Bret Harte & Mkay Zeeb, Do0nna Guy, Francesca Jarvis, Brian Johnson, Peggy Southwick, Sandra Steffes, Jack & Mary Lou Sullivan, Tarke Sweet, Mary Wilcox, Bethany, Brenda, Cathy, Chelsea, Conner, David, Deana, Diana, Hayden, Jennifer, Jerry & Rondy, Jordan, Joshua, Justin, Karl, Mary Jo & Maureen, Mike & Rainbow, Monica & Carri, Nichole, Nick & family, Jane, Gerie, Donnie, Rick, Russ, Shirley, Cedric, Jeri, Shane, Shannon, Virginia, Donald, Odell, Monica, Eleanor, Patty, Judy Turberg, Kurt Monroe, Ron Adinolfi, Sylvia, Father Ernest, Amy Bryan & Dave, Scott & Starlette Baker, Gerry Smith, Manny Cruiz, Maria, Wendy, Ty & her mother, Judy & Jeromy, John & A.., Dana Gault, Roy Jr., Chris & her cousin, David Carey; for animal companions in need especially ZsaZsa, Ziggy, Miss Liberty; for those who have died especially George “Yami” Yamasaki, Elise Petropoulos, Jackson Steffes; for animal companions who have died especially Salander. Please also pray for the millions of Christians and Jews who have been murdered, driven from their homes or otherwise persecuted by Muslims in Syria, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria, Kenya, Sudan & South Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and elsewhere.

What I’m reading: Not much of anything except some Harn material and some Nero Wolfe.

What I’m writing: I got nothing written last week.

What I’m watching: Just the occasional old western, some news shows and some Simpsons reruns.

March 27, 2014

Flat Income Tax

Posted in Politics tagged , , , , at 2:58 am by gruundehn

The Progressive Income Tax is based upon discrimination, in the bad sense of the word. If you believe in the principle of equality before the law then you must oppose a progressive income tax. The progressive income tax is based upon hatred and bigotry.

Yes, I know that the idea behind the progressive income tax is that those with more should pay more. But think about it, when you go to the store, does the cashier ask for your income in order to determine the price of a loaf of bread? The price is set by the seller and does not vary by your income. Why then should government services? And yes, you can choose between various loaves of bread, of different types and prices, but you cannot do that with government services. There is no competition in military protection and the government is working to eliminate any service that might compete with its offering.

So, the progressive income tax is obviously discriminatory. It requires paying for services in a manner done no where else and by nobody else. The fact that it is a bad idea is borne out by the fact that whenever it is discussed, those supporting it will not argue the progressive income tax on its merits but instead argue the religious belief that the “rich” should pay more, a clear example of the unfairness of the idea.

If you read the 16th Amendment to the US Constitution you will notice that the Federal Government may impose a tax on income from whatever source derived. So, if we eliminate all the deductions and adjustments and credits and all the income not presently figured into the taxable income total then we can set a tax rate much lower than now, even the lowest of the rates used in the progressive income tax – 15%. If Congress believes that certain causes are worthy, then Congress should appropriate the money once collected and be honest about it.

With no income not taxed the tax rate can be set at a percentage that is easy to compute for the average taxpayer. I prefer a 10% rate; after all, God only wants 10% why should the government get more? By setting, and keeping, a fixed rate without adjustments, deductions, credits and whatever business, and personal, planning can be done with more confidence. People will be more willing to work harder, invent more, start up businesses and generally expand the economy without the disincentive of a higher tax rate. The way it is now, if you get a promotion, or a raise, you might end up with less money in your bank account because of the higher taxes involved. That isn’t good, either for you or the economy as a whole.

I have been asked about businesses and their need to invest in their business. If they can’t deduct their business expenses then they are getting hurt. Actually that isn’t the case. If you put $10,000 into a savings account and withdraw $500 every month only that part of the $500 that is not part of the $10,000 that you originally put into the account is taxed. The rest is not new income and thus not taxed. It would be the same with a business. The person(s) starting up the business would put some of their money into the business at the start and throughout the life of the business. Money paid out to the investors, and money reinvested into the business would be taxed, but that tax would not start until the amount of money (already taxed) invested is withdrawn rom the business.

People and businesses would have a stable tax system and would be able to plan with greater certainty. Government would not have to spend the millions of dollars on the IRS writing rules and trying to enforce them. The IRS would shrink to just a handful o people compared to now and the tax code could be understood by just about anyone. Instead, now we have a tax code that even the IRS (who wrote it) can’t understand with any regularity.

March 24, 2014

Third Sunday in Lent, 2014

Posted in Personal tagged , , , , , at 12:56 am by gruundehn

Sunday again and here I am wondering if what I write has any effect on what other people think. I started this blog with the hope that my thoughts on politics and my personal life would inspire other people, even if only slightly. But I sit here and wonder because of the slight evidence that other people read my posts. Yes, occasionally I exchange comments with someone on a specific post, but I wonder if anyone stays with my thoughts for any length of time. Go back through my posts and look, someone will comment on a specific post and then vanish, so to speak. I get the occasional person who likes more than one post but the comments are one and done as it were. Oh well, I’d still be doing this even if no one commented I think. I do like to get my thoughts written down and by writing them I clear up a lot of the confusion I have. I can take both sides of an argument, quite often, and make an argument in support of whatever. Normally I will come down on one side after thinking about something for a while, and I do try to find out the information on both sides of an issue before deciding what to stand for. When my family lived in San Diego CA, I attended the public school system there. I attended Albert Einstein Junior High School, the dedication had Albert Einstein Jr. dedicating the Junior High School named for his father, and Claremont High School, until my family moved to Loveland Ohio where I graduated from high school. And while I was there the San Diego school system in 1964 acted like it was part of the LBJ election campaign. My father was upset and told me: Unless you honestly look at both sides of an issue, you don’t have an opinion, you are a parrot. And I try to live up to that ideal after not realizing how wise it was for many years.

All this is a preamble to my statement why I rarely believe any specific source on anything. Several sources saying the same thing yes that I can believe I can trust; but even then I try to hold a suspicious mind. Which is why I like comments, these allow me to possibly see an aspect I hadn’t considered before. But, before you start in that I haven’t considered something, beware. I might have considered and rejected it or discounted it. As an example my views on Human Caused Global Warming are based upon my training and experience as an electronics technician. Thus, when someone says that the science is settled, I discount what they say because I know that science is NEVER settled. When someone says that 97% of all scientists agree on this issue, and I check and find that the percentage is about 35% once you take out those whose income depends upon supporting the idea of human caused global warming then I discount whatever else that person says. But if someone comes up with some new information I consider it, I hope I consider it honestly as my father told me to do.  But I haven’t seen any new information on this subject or most others.

So I go through the week plodding along, trying to get some writing done and some research done and rarely getting as much done as I want to get done. If I had the time and opportunity I would learn everything I could, even chemistry. I haven’t talked about chemistry yet and why I know so little about it. Back in high school I had to take a semester of chemistry. The instructor was a jerk. His favorite story was about the time his sister rejected a suitor and the guy blew his brains out. My instructor thought that was funny. At the end of the semester he called me up to his desk and showed me his grade book, with the names of all the students except mine covered (it was no hardship to do that as my name was at the bottom of the list). I received a “D” and my percentage score was two points below two other students who had each received an “F” as their final grade. Even in my biology class my grade dropped from an “A” to a “C” for the biochemistry section. Chemistry and I do not get along. But, maybe it has been long enough so that I can start studying chemistry and actually learn something.

Last week I spent some time doing work for the Pima County Election Integrity Commission. And, at the Pima County Board of Supervisors meeting I got up and spoke on the issue of buying new central count equipment. If the idea of election equipment is too esoteric for you, consider that the integrity of elections is vital to the continued existence of democracy in this country. There are too many uninvestigated reports of election irregularities and fraud for good people to not be concerned. I am concerned and actually find the issue interesting. Not overwhelming but still interesting. I do what I can. The BOS listened to our report and arguments on the issue of a requirement in the Election Procedures Manual that is not required by either State or Federal law and voted to ask the Arizona Secretary of State to waive or eliminate that requirement. Did I bore you yet? When you vote, do you want your vote counted as you cast it? If so, you can understand my concern with elections.

This coming Saturday I am up to Tempe for a ceremony. One of the canons in my chapter is making his final vows this Saturday and I am going up to support him. Now that there is a fifth Sunday the usher schedule will shift a week and I can make it up for chapter meetings twice a month now instead of once; at least until the next fifth Sunday happens and I usher on the second Sunday and thus miss that chapter meeting. It costs almost $100 each time I go up and if I saved up that money, in a year or two I’d have my own car and not have to pay for the shuttle to go up to Tempe. But, going up on the shuttle prevents that savings so I stay on the shuttle until I get some money from another source and can buy a car. Twenty years ago I got rid of my car because I never needed it, now I do and don’t have it. Not that that car would have lasted until now. If I had kept my 1982 Volkswagen Rabbit diesel I would probably still have a working car now, but I had to get rid of it because it would not start in the cold weather and I was stationed at a Northern Tier base at the time, I had to get it push started every morning when it was cold and it was cold from October to April. Oh well, if we knew what was going to happen life would not be as interesting.

If you wish to do so, please pray for: Katharine the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Kirk the Bishop for Arizona, Steve and the other clergy of Grace-St. Paul’s Episcopal Church; for those in the military especially those in combat zones especially for Ronald Berryhill, Christopher Gallo, Michael Hannan, Andrew Harris, Donna Heath, Frederick Jenning, Jordan S. Marks, Eric Osche, Mark Pundt, Terrence Robinson, Laramie Struble, Brian, Adrian, Ken, Adam, Margaret H., Shannon, Kevin, Chris, Melanie, Jason; for those in need especially Robin Beelen, Katherine Bernard, Jay Elliston, Eleanor Feeney, Oma “Sam” Guard, Sara Heitshu, Dorothy Jackson, Richard Jenrow, Christine Nelson, Suzanne Nystrom, Jennifer Orvis, Doree Ramey, Susan Southwick, Heather Williams, Millie Zuniga, Ed, Lee, Betsy Bret Harte & Mkay Zeeb, Francesca Jarvis, Brian Johnson, Cheryl Johnson, Robert Jonas, Tony Jones, Julie LaRue, Mari Ortiz, Peggy Southwick, Jack & Mary Lou Sullivan, Tarke Sweet, Mary Wilcox, Brenda, Deana, Jennifer, Jerry & Rondy, Joshua, Karl, Mary Jo & Maureen, Mike & Carri, Nichole, Nick & Emily, Jane, Gerie, Donnie, Rick, Russ, Shirley, Cedric, Jeri, Shane, Shannon, Virginia, Donald, Odell, Monica, Eleanor, Patty; for animal companions in need especially ZsaZsa, Ziggy, Miss Liberty; for those who have died especially Nichole Dryfous, George “Yami” Yamasaki, Elise Petropoulos; for animal companions who have died especially Salander. In addition I ask that you pray for the thousands of Christians who have been murdered, the tens of thousands of Christians who have been driven from their homelands and the hundreds of thousand of Christians being persecuted in Syria, Egypt, Libya, Nigeria, Kenya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, and elsewhere as well as the unknown number of Jews in each category.

What I’m writing: Still plugging away at Magic in the Monastery but making slow progress.

What I’m reading: The main book I’m reading is The Bowmen of England by Donald Featherstone. But I’m reading some Nero Wolfe as well.

What I’m watching: Not much of anything except Jeopardy and some news shows.

Rainbow, Monica

March 20, 2014

Ukraine-2

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 2:43 am by gruundehn

Two weeks ago I wrote about President Obama’s response to the Ukraine situation and compared him unfavorably with President Truman. This week I’ll explore another aspect of the situation, and probably confuse some people since there was no hint of this position two weeks ago.

In several of the reports about the situation is has been stated that in an opinion poll just a couple of years ago 47% of the Crimean people wanted to leave Ukraine and join Russia. In the recent election with large numbers of heavily-armed Russian troops present, 93% voted to do so. Granted this sounds a lot like the old Soviet elections l can remember reading about. Plus, there are reports that the ballot was constructed in such a way that it was almost impossible to vote to remain with Ukraine. I haven’t confirmed this but if it is true, I wouldn’t be surprised.

So, why do I accept this election even though there is evidence that it is coerced and fraudulent? There are many separatist movements throughout the world and not all are fraudulent. The Scottish Independence movement, the Tamil, the Basque, and various other separatist movements, as a general rule, reflect the wishes and desires of various ethnic groups and regions.  To unilaterally act against the Crimean people’s wishes absent evidence that the vote was coerced and fraudulent is to discredit all of the other movements valid and invalid.

A world of a thousand small states might have wars but those small states will not be able to afford nuclear weapons and thus the scale of war would be reduced. Also, small states will probably be small enough so that the population can pay attention to the government better. If, however, one or two large states continue without dissolving due to separatist movements then those large states could intimidate the others. Thus, I doubt that it would happen for a long time due to the fact that there are too many Cold War warriors left yet alive.

So, Ukraine has lost a significant part of itself. A part, that according to reports, the Ukrainian Government and people have treated badly.  I don’t know why Khrushchev moved Crimea from Russia to Ukraine, no one alive does, but it would have been better, I think, if that had not happened. The main reason why President Clinton guaranteed the territorial integrity of Ukraine was to rid that country of nuclear weapons stored primarily in Crimea, something that would not have been needed if it was never part of Ukraine. So, now President Obama may have to up the ante in guaranteeing the territorial integrity of Ukraine and given how much the rest of the world, especially Russia, sees him as a weakling, the chance of a war over Ukrainian territory has increased. If a show of military force had been presented Russia might have not pushed so hard, but given that President Obama is widely perceived as a liar, more so that other politicians, it might not have.  But, one can dream.

It has been widely reported that President Putin wants to recreate the Soviet Empire even if not with as tight of control over the other nations in Eastern Europe. That might be. Humans are strange in a lot of ways. If that is so, he is at the stage that Hitler was at when he was gathering all Germanic peoples to Germany. Success breeds excess and I doubt that President Putin will stop with what he has accomplished so far.

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