Archive for the ‘#truth’ Tag

Making the Bolshevik Revolution Possible   1 comment

My friend Mila sent this to me because she’s an American citizen who was born in Russia and she’s concerned about where the United States is headed right now.
Konstantin Yeremeychik/TASS
Packing heat in the country is no easy task. You need to pass a strict background check and only then can you own a hunting rifle or pneumatic gun. Things were different when the tsars ruled over the land though: Every man and his dog owned a weapon.

The famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin enjoyed a rather odd pastime: After waking up he would lie in bed and shoot a pistol at the wall.


In Tsarist Russia, people loved guns. Officers, merchants, students, respectable dames, and young ladies all had a favorite handgun, sometimes more than one. However, by the end of the 1917 Revolution the authorities had restricted the right to carry firearms.

Shooting indoors no more

Before the Revolution, guns were in abundant supply in major Russian cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg. Newspapers advertised Brownings, Nagants, Mausers, and other models of handgun which were as popular as they were affordable: A brand new Mauser would set you back 45 or so rubles, so there were also plenty of cheaper secondhand guns floating around; to put this into perspective, a janitor’s average monthly salary in Moscow was 40 rubles.

Newspapers advertised Brownings, Nagants, Mausers, and other models of handgun which were as popular as they were affordable.

But even then Russians were not completely free of governmental intervention when it came to firing hot lead. The existing restrictions, however, did not regulate the ownership of guns; they regulated their use instead.

Random and frequent indoor shootings were a serious worry in 17th century Moscow, where almost all buildings were made of wood – a spark from a gunshot could start a fire very easily. In fact, such blazes were so common that a 1684 tsarist order prohibited pulling the trigger indoors.

Naturally, judging from Pushkin’s example everyone seemed to ignore the new rule until much later.

A new wave of restrictions came in 1845, when a comprehensive set of gun laws restricted owners even further. The legislation prohibited shooting outdoors in crowded places unless clearly necessary.

Although Russians were now stripped of their right to shoot for fun, nobody threatened to take their guns away – but this all changed with the Revolution.

Total disarmament

The Bolshevik Revolution put an end to the free circulation of guns among the general public. The leaders of the uprising knew only too well what the masses were capable of, especially if armed up to the teeth, and moved to monopolize gun ownership.

In 1918 the Bolsheviks initiated a large scale confiscation of civilian firearms, outlawing their possession and threatening up to 10 years in prison for concealing a gun.

The only exception was made for hunters who were allowed to possess smoothbore weapons. Gun licenses, however, were strictly regulated and only issued by the NKVD, the police organization known for its role in Joseph Stalin’s political purges.

It was only a matter of time before Russia became an almost totally gun-free nation. Some people believed Russians would regain their right to own guns after the collapse of the Soviet Union but despite firearms becoming available on the black market during the 90s, the new government did not risk liberalizing the gun market.

Today, Russians can only legally buy smoothbore guns for hunting and sports, as well as pneumatic firearms for self-defense. Applying for a gun license also involves a pretty rigorous background check.

In a nutshell, Russians can buy some guns even today but luckily most have abandoned their ancestor’s favorite pastime of shooting indoors.

Posted March 24, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Gun control

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Not Crumbs   Leave a comment

According to Nancy Pelosi and 90% of the progressive liberal news media, the tax cuts of 2017 amount to crumbs for middle- and working-class wage earners. We should be up in arms that the “rich” (i.e., our employers) got such huge cuts and we only got a little.

I ran the numbers.

Image result for image of nancy pelosiBrad and I together made just a little less than $50,000 in 2017. We had a nice bump from book sales this year – not exactly burning up the best-seller’s lists, but it felt good. Because Brad is self-employed, we won’t know how much tax reform affects him until we do our 2018 taxes, but my income from my job comes with check stubs. Starting my first paycheck in 2018, I immediately saw $150 extra in my net pay. That works out to almost $4000 for the year. Then, I just finished our 2017 taxes. Reform had a muted effect this year compared to what it will have next year, but our tax refund was $1000 more than it was in 2017 because we could take a deduction for our full-time student who still lives at home.

That’s $5000 for 2018 – money that I earned that was stolen from me in taxes and is now being given back to its rightful owner.

When you make $50,000 a year, $5000 is a lot of money. That’s my tithe, or a pretty-decent new-for-us vehicle. It certainly isn’t crumbs, Mrs. Pelosi.

Truth about Gun Control   Leave a comment

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are both under fire currently for “not being willing to talk about gun control” in connection with the Parkland Florida high school shooting. Good for them.

The Left’s incessant attempts to find new ways to take guns from law-abiding American citizens in the name of reducing gun crime .is completely misplaced because the facts clearly show that gun control only exacerbates violent crime. Here are seven facts proving this.

1. Washington, D.C.’s gun ban worsened the city’s homicide rate. In 1976, D.C. implemented a law that banned citizens from owning guns, meaning only police officers were allowed to carry firearms. Those who already owned guns were allowed to keep them only if they were disassembled or trigger-locked and the trigger locks could be removed only if the owner received permission from the DC police, which pretty much never happened.

The results weren’t good. Annual homicides rose from 188 (1976) to 364 (1988) and by 1993 it was 454. The District of Columbia gun ban was struck down by the Supreme Court  in 2008 and by 2012 the DC murder rate had dropped to 88. Yes, there were no doubt other factors involved in the decline in homocides, but lifting the gun bad clearly didn’t result in an increase in murders.

Washington DC still has strictest gun laws in the country and one of the most dangerous places in the country to live. The salient facts are that homicides in D.C. rose after the ban was implemented and subsequently declined after the Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional.

2. The gun bans in Australia and Britain also didn’t work. Australia and Britain are both hailed by the Left as evidence that gun control works. The facts, even collected within those countries, tell a different story.

A 2007 study published in the British Journal of Criminology determined “The gun buy-back and restrictive changes had no influence on firearm homicides in Australia.” The gun homicide rate had actually been low in Australia and falling prior to the Port Arthur shooting. After the gun ban, firearm suicides and accidental firearm deaths did decrease, but researchers noted there was an initial spike in non-firearm suicides for the next couple of years, followed by a decline. Thus, researchers concluded that “suicide rates in Australia were highly influenced by other societal changes, confounding the ability to discern any effect on firearm suicides” after the buyback program.

After Australia’s gun buyback, the gun ownership levels in Australia rose to the point where by 2010, there were as many guns in circulation as there were before the gun buyback. You would have thought to see gun deaths decrease at first and the increase as guns came back into circulation, but that’s not what happened. The rate of firearm suicides was falling about the same rate after the buyback as they were beforehand. After the buyback, there was no sudden drop and then an increase, but that sudden drop in firearms-related suicides coincided with a sudden drop in non-firearm suicides fell by virtually the same percentage as firearm suicides. The fits what I know about suicide from my 15 years of working in the mental health fields. People who want to kill themselves will kill themselves whether a gun is available or not.

The same appears to be true with gun homicides.

According to the study (see the link), prior to 1996, there was already a clear downward trend in firearm homicides, a pattern that continued after the buyback. As with suicides, both non-firearm and firearm homicides fell by similar amounts, though the trend in non-firearms homicides shows a much larger decline between the pre- and post-buyback periods. That suggests crime had been falling for other reasons. Significantly, there was no increase in homicides as gun ownership gradually increased.



In Britain’s case, the Crime Research Prevention Center found that after the gun ban was implemented, there was initially a severe increase in the homicide rate, followed by a gradual decline once Britain beefed up their police force. However, there has only been one year where the homicide rate was lower than it was pre-ban:

There was an 87 percent spike in gun crime from 1998/1999 to 2008/2009, all of which occurred after the gun ban.

A closer look at the actual facts shows that the Left’s favorite examples of Britain and Australia are actually examples of how gun control DOES NOT work.

3. The vast majority of mass shootings occur in gun-free zones. Since 1950, 98 percent of mass public shootings have occurred in gun-free zones. The terror attack in Orlando, FL all the school, mall, and movie theater shootings all took place in gun-free zones. There’s an obvious reason for that. Deranged murderers want to be in a position to murder as many people as possible, so they target areas where they’re least likely to find armed resistance, which happen to be gun-free zones.

There are 330 million people in America but only 628,000 police officers. Cops can’t protect everybody and the Supreme Court has ruled that they have no obligation to do so. That’s why it’s prudent for citizens to arm themselves.

4. There is a clear correlation between higher firearm ownership and reducing police killings. There is a 3.6 percent DECREASE in police killings for every percentage point INCREASE in those owning a firearm. Naturally, the inverse was also true. From 2013 to 2015, the six states (plus the District of Columbia) that banned open carry actually experienced higher rates of police death (20.2 versus 17.3 per 100,000 officers).”

A 2016 National Association of Chiefs of Police survey found that 86.4 percent of 20,000 police chiefs and sheriffs support concealed carry and are overwhelmingly against further gun control. In light of the recent murders of cops, it has become even more important to have an armed citizenry.

5. There is also a correlation between fewer mass public shootings and higher gun ownership. According to John Lott and the University of Chicago’s Bill Landes, between 1977 and 1999 “right-to-carry laws reduced both the frequency and the severity of mass public shootings; and to the extent to which mass shootings still occurred, they took place in those tiny areas in the states where permitted concealed handguns were not allowed.”

6. As the number of guns per person has increased, gun violence has declined. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that between 1993 and 2003, gun ownership in the US increased by 56 percent, and yet gun violence declined by almost 50 percent in the time period. If the premise of gun control zealots were correct, then wouldn’t gun violence have INCREASED during that period of time?

7. The number of defensive gun uses are higher than the number of criminal firearm uses. There was a range of 500,000 to over 3 million defensive gun uses in 2013, according to research from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council published by the CDC. That same year, there were 11,208 firearm homicides and 414,562 nonfatal illegal gun uses, according to the CDC and National Justice Institute, respectively. Even when taking the low end of the defensive gun uses, it’s clear that there are more defensive gun uses than criminal gun uses by Americans.

Tell the Truth   Leave a comment

Image result for image of telling the truthMinisters and ordinary Christians face a constant temptation to tell people what they want to hear rather than what they need to know. Sermons that confront a congregation with their spiritual shortcomings don’t usually result in a pat on the back. Instead, they quite often yield criticism and hostility. That’s why strong evangelical preaching and discipleship has largely fallen by the wayside these days. To preach in a way that serves Christ and not people’s egos takes courage and it is easy to become disheartened when people turn a deaf ear to preaching that tells it like it is.

Thereforesince we have this ministryjust as God has shown us mercy, we do not become discouraged. But we have rejected shameful hidden deeds, not behaving with deceptiveness or distorting the word of Godbut by open proclamation of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience before God. But even if our gospel is veiledit is veiled only to those who are perishing among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselvesbut Jesus Christ as Lord, and  ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For Godwho said “Let light shine out of darkness,” is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Paul repeatedly had to deal with discouragement in his ministry. There were plenty of preachers whose motives were less than honorable and who would do whatever they thought would gain a following. There were also churches who were readily seduced by flattering speech and winsome ways. It would have been all too easy for someone who remained faithful in preaching Christ and not themselves to grow weary of the downside of human nature.

Paul didn’t give in to discouragement. What heartened him were two things: the character of his ministry and the mercy of God.

Since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, he says, we do not lose heart (v. 1). Paul looked on his ministry as something he received not because of any personal merit but on account of God’s favor. Nor was this a matter of theoretical knowledge. Paul experienced God’s mercy firsthand when he was stopped dead in his tracks while pursuing Jewish Christians who had fled Jerusalem for the safer haven of Damascus (Acts 9:1-9). Then there was the surpassing splendor of the new covenant (this ministry). The privilege of being a minister of such a covenant more than compensated for the trials and tribulations that he experienced as an itinerant preacher.

As a result, Paul did not lose heart (enkakoumen, v. 1). The Greek verb means “to act badly” in the face of difficulties; “to give up” or “grow weary” while pursuing a worthwhile goal. Paul wouldn’t allow any obstacles inside or outside the churches to pressure him into abandoning his ministry. Instead of giving in to discouragement, he deliberately and categorically “renounces” the kind of behavior that characterized much of the itinerant speaking of his day. He described this behavior as secret and shameful (v. 2). The phrase is literally “the secret things of shame.” “Secret things” are a person’s innermost thoughts and intentions. These are deeds one hides because of their shameful character.

Paul rejected two types of shameful deeds. First, he does not use deception. Use is literally “to walk” (peripateo)–a verb that occurs frequently in Paul’s writings to describe the Christian life. The Greek term for deception means “capable of anything” (pan + ourgia). In the New Testament it refers to those who use their ability unscrupulously and denotes cunning or slyness. Not only does Paul not resort to deception, but, second, he does not distort the word of God. The verb distort (dolow) is commonly employed of adulterating merchandise for profit. Paul refused to follow in the footsteps of others who tamper with God’s word in order to make it more palatable to the listener or more lucrative for themselves.

Paul eschewed any behavior that was not according to the character of the gospel that he preached. His opponents, had no such scruples. They quite willingly exploited the Corinthians for financial gain (2:17; 11:20). Paul, instead, set forth the truth plainly. The Greek term translated “set forth” (th phanerwsei) refers to an open declaration or full disclosure. The contrast is between a straightforward and open message as opposed to a deceptive presentation of the gospel.

Paul told it like it was and we should tell it like it is.

By setting forth the gospel in a plain-spoken way, Paul “commended” himself to every person’s conscience.The conscience is where conviction takes hold that what one is hearing is the truth. Paul didn’t seek to commend himself to a person’s ego or intellect but appealed to their capacity to distinguish between right and wrong. He didn’t simply trust human judgment but commended himself in the sight of God. He was aware that what he did was done under the perpetually watchful eye of the Lord.

Paul went on in verses 3-4 to deal with the accusation that his message is veiled (kekalymmenon). It would appear–if we can read between the lines–that Paul’s critics reasoned from the absence of large numbers of converts (especially from among his own people) to some fault in his preaching. Paul was the first one to recognize that he was not an overly impressive speaker, as speakers go. This was deliberate on his part, as he would have his audience know only “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (see 1 Corinthians 2:1-5). So it isn’t surprising that he didn’t deny the charge. The conditional form that he chose acknowledged their claim: If [as you claim] our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing (ei + indicative). But what he didn’t allow was that there was some fault with the message that he preached. If the content of his preaching was veiled, it was not because he didn’t present the truthes of the gospel plainly (v. 2).

The fault lie rather in three areas. First, the audience was at fault. If there was a hidden aspect to what he preached, it only appeared so to those who were perishing. As in 2:15-16, Paul divided humanity into two groups based on their destiny:

  • those who are on the road to destruction (tois apollymenois)
  • by implication, those who are on the road to salvation.

To the one the gospel makes no sense (v. 3), while to the other it is plain as day (v. 6).

The fault lies, second, with the situation. The minds of those who are perishing have been blinded. The blindness is inability to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (v. 4). As the Mosaic covenant shone with glory, so the gospel shines with glory. Of Christ is plausibly construed as objective: “the glorious gospel about Christ.”

Christ is further described as “the image of God.” To be an image is to be a true representation. We say today that a child is the “spitting image” of his father or mother. Wisdom is similarly described as “a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God and an image of his goodness” (Wisdom of Solomon 7:26). Paul stated that Christ is, not was, God’s image, for He alone brings to visible expression the nature of an invisible God (Col 1:15). To see Christ is to see God and to not see Christ is to not see God.

The fault lies, third, with the source of the blindness. Unbelievers cannot see the gospel’s light because their minds have been blinded by the god of this age (v. 4). This is the only place where Paul referred to the adversary of God’s people as a god. He was usually called Satan or the devil–although in Ephesians 2:2 he was named “the ruler of the kingdom of the air.” It could well be that these are traditional formulations Paul used because of their familiarity to his readers. But there is no denying the power of this being. He can destroy the flesh (1 Cor 5:5), masquerade as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14) and empower his servant, the antichrist, to work all manner of miracles, signs and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9). Paul’s thorn in the flesh is attributed to him (2 Corinthians 12:7), as is tempting (1 Corinthians 7:5), scheming against (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11) and trapping (2 Timothy 2:26) the believer. On more than one occasion Paul experienced firsthand his active opposition to the gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:18).

The Christian, especially preachers, in our media-oriented society is pressured to use the pulpit as a stage for displaying eloquence, dramatic skill and fine oratory. Congregations add to this pressure with their desire to be amused and entertained. As a result, preaching is often seen by outsiders as just another stage performance. And what is hailed as a successful ministry is sometimes little more than good acting. But to his credit Paul said of himself and his coworkers in Christ, that “we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (v. 5).

The emphasis in terms of word order is on not ourselves (ou heautous khryssomen, “not ourselves do we preach”; v. 5). It is hard to determine whether Paul was on the offensive or defensive here. He certainly accused the Corinthian intruders later in the letter of putting on airs (10:12-18). But he also appears to have been faulted for ministerial arrogance (3:12–4:3)–although his claim to preach Christ and not himself was not an idle one. In 1 Corinthians 2:1-4 he reminded the Corinthians that on his founding visit he did not come to them with eloquence, superior wisdom or wise and persuasive words. This was so that they might know nothing while he was with them except Jesus Christ and him crucified. Now he is concerned that they know not only the crucified Christ but also Jesus as Lord, that is, Jesus as master of their congregational life.

What then is Paul’s role? In 1:24 he said that he didn’t not lord it over the church but worked together with them. Here he goes even further in defining his role as that of a servant (doulos). As an apostle of Christ, he could have merely said the word and commanded their obedience. Domination was not Paul’s style. He was there to serve them and used a command only as a last resort.

This is an important reminder for pastors today. If Christ is to be truly Lord of the church, then pastors must be content with the role of servant.

Paul went on to explain why he preached Jesus Christ as Lord. For God . . . made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (v. 6). The familiar caricature of sudden understanding as a light bulb going on in a person’s mind captures the idea. Knowing what, however? In verse 4 it was knowing the good news about Christ. Here it is “knowing God” –or more specifically, knowing “God’s glory”.

This knowledge, Paul said, God made shine in our hearts. It is commonly thought that Paul referred to his Damascus Road encounter, but Luke described that experience as “a light from heaven [that] flashed around him (Acts 9:3), while here it is a light that illumines the heart. Paul also uses the plural our hearts, indicating that this was (and should be) the experience of all gospel ministers. Some aspect of his conversion experience is undoubtedly in view. Perhaps it was the point at which “God was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles” (Gal 1:15-16).

Paul pictured the conversion experience as a new creation (v. 6). For it is the God who said, Let light shine out of darkness, who illumines the human heart through knowledge of himself. The key thought is that God’s light dispels darkness, whether it be the physical darkness of night or the spiritual darkness of human ignorance. The idea of light dispelling darkness is a recurring one in the Old Testament. Perhaps the most familiar texts are Isaiah 9:1-2, where it is promised that those who walk in darkness in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali will see “a great light,” and Isaiah 49:6, where it is said that God will make his “servant . . . a light for the Gentiles.”

The light that dispels darkness in the human heart is found in the face of Christ. Paul was undoubtedly thinking of the Incarnation. The face is the image that we present in public. Christ’s face, then, is what He presented during his earthly ministry. This is the second time Paul linked knowledge of God irrevocably with Jesus Christ. The connection is a relatively simple one: To know Christ is to know God; to not know Christ is to not know God.

When Did the Tea Party Really Start?   Leave a comment

December 16, 2017 is the tenth anniversary of the modern Tea Party.

Naw, that can’t be true! According to the mainstream narrative the Tea Party began on February 19, 2009 when Rick Santelli, live on CNBC from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), declared a rebellion against “socialism”. It was one month into the Obama administration.

Image result for image of tea party december 16 2007Take a pause. Think about this. Rick Santelli on establishment NBC lit the spark of an anti-establishment rebellion. Yeah, I always found that hard to believe too. Obama was merely proposing bailouts for mortgage holders and it was just four months after most conservatives were either silent or defending George W. Bush’s $700 billion TARP bailout of Wall Street.

I always thought it didn’t really seem right and over the years I’ve run into people who will insist they were tea partiers before Obama was president. Are they just delusional or was there reality behind their tales? What really happened ten years ago and how was the Tea Party transformed from a libertarian grassroots movement to today’s controlled-almost-to-death establishment version? And are there lessons to be learned from this?

The ground-zero event in the formation of the Tea Party occurred when supporters of Ron Paul’s first presidential campaign registered the Web address on October 24, 2007/


Twelve days later, on November 5, Guy Fawkes Night, Paul supporters held the first “money bomb” fundraiser, which (for Internet fundraising) raked in a record $4.3 million. Days after this came the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party. Paul supporters in Boston re-enacted the dumping of tea into Boston Harbor and a newcomer to politics, ophthalmologist Rand Paul, spoke at Faneuil Hall. A second money bomb held on this commemoration of the Tea Party raised over $6 million, shattering the previous record set eleven days before.

At root, this schism of the American right was a rebellion against the Bush Republican party’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, drunken-sailor federal spending (e.g., a $500 billion unfunded expansion of Medicare for a new prescription drug program), and a burgeoning post-9/11 federal spy and police state (e.g., the Patriot Act of 2001).

By February 2009, the GOP lay in complete tatters. In addition to its endless wars and domestic spending spree, it had added a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street after the financial crisis of 2008. (Never mind a series of smaller outrages such as a ban on incandescent light bulbs and the TSA, which should have been a private effort, if at all, from the beginning).

On top of all that, instead of nominating Ron Paul in 2008, the GOP had nominated conservative “war hero” John McCain and Alaska governor Sarah Palin. A war-weary public completely rejected the ticket in favor of a younger, articulate Barack Obama who promised (falsely) peace and a revived economy.

The Santelli rant sparked the conservative and GOP establishments to transform a marketing vehicle that would serve to not only distract the public from their recent colossal policy failures, but also serve as a gold mine of self-enrichment: t-shirts, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, Taxed Enough Already (TEA) yard signs, fluff books from the conservative pundit class, Glenn Beck rallies promoted by the Fox News Channel, Rush Limbaugh iced tea, and children’s books.

As Sarah Palin replaced Ron Paul as the face of the movement, a surreal change in advocacy followed. The anti-interventionist Tea Party, once outraged about the endless occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, was now wanting the U.S. to attack and invade Iran. Rally chants of “End the Fed” eventually disappeared.

By 2014, the faux Tea Party’s fifth anniversary, it was clear that the mainstream media were firmly devoted to advancing the new establishment narrative, as 2014 headlines such as “Tea Party Marks Fifth Anniversary” make clear.

Still, glaring inconsistencies remained. The grassroots Paulist Tea Party began on December 16, 2007, the 234thanniversary of the original Sons of Liberty protest of 1773. The conservative and GOP forgery of February 19, 2009 was not connected to anything but the advancement of the corporatist interests of the mainstream GOP. Even its supposed founder, Rick Santelli, was quickly pushed offstage while the Fox News Channel, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and others took center stage.

And, here in Alaska, where Paul had strong support, people like me were often confused by stands of the Tea Party when we knew so many “tea partiers” who didn’t agree.

While the Ron-Paul Revolution, from the spread of homeschools to Austrian economics, continues on in educating people around the world, the Tea Party is all but completely dead. In the age of Donald Trump, its lessons are more vivid than ever.

The two-party U.S. duopoly, which insulates itself from competition and outsiders through regulatory barriers such as ballot-access laws, front-loaded primaries, and super delegates, presents obstacles even to billionaires who wish to challenge it.

Trump was an outsider who promised a less interventionist foreign policy, full repeal of Obamacare, and a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. The two-party cartel not only sunk these promises that Trump supporters wanted, but installed a special prosecutor to investigate wild allegations of Russian hacking to help elect Trump. Make America Great Again has yielded to bizarre rabbit holes such as bombing Syria and moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

On the opposite side of the aisle, the Democratic Party’s sinking of Bernie Sanders holds the same lessons. Had progressives pursued decentralization instead of Obama’s empty promises and the mirage of a Sanders presidency, California, Vermont, and Oregon could be much better prepared to separate from the rest of the U.S. and pursue their preferred policies from collectivist health care to sanctuary cities unhindered by the Trump administration.

Decentralization and autonomy is what the U.S., going back to the Articles of Confederation, was originally about. Those paths, instead of trying to wrest control of leviathan, would be far more effective in getting all sides much of what they want. As Brexit has shown, postponing the process only makes it more difficult to implement later on.

Posted January 9, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in politics

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Where the Guns Are & Murders Are Not   Leave a comment

This is the problem in a nutshell. If you look at this map, you see where the guns are. My community of the Fairbanks North Star Borough has the second-highest density of guns per population. We’ve never had a mass shooting and you can see from the second map that we score really low on the murders per capita scale compared to larger cities.

These two maps are almost in contrast to one another. It appears there is no correlation between access to guns and gun homicides when you look at the actual numbers.

Posted November 16, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Common sense, Uncategorized

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Are You Sexually Harassing Me?   3 comments

Hi, this is Brad.

Although Lela has a lot to say about the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal, I asked to go first. Yeah, here I am – a man commenting on sexual harassment. Go on, throw vegetables. Lela will make soup!

Lela says I should start with a disclaimer.

I think men like Harvey Weinstein are disgusting jerks who deserve what they get. There’s no excuse for abusing a woman or requiring her to give up sex for a job. That’s just totally degrading and shouldn’t be accepted by anyone.

Image result for image of sexual harassment female to maleNow that you’re done cheering that at least one man in the world “gets” it, let me burst your bubble. I think it goes both ways and it’s not just a man-woman thing.

When I think about my high school sexual encounters, I was probably a sexual harasser by today’s standards. I “pestered” girls to date me. It didn’t usually take a lot of “pestering”, but I didn’t usually take “go away” as the only answer. I’d try back a few times. That worked with a girl I dated for over a year and it certainly worked with my wife. I “bothered” Lela at her job … I was a customer and she was staff. I made “unwanted” comments and gave her compliments. At first, I was just an annoying and noncompliant (well, my employer was noncompliant, I just was there to receive the note) guest of the campground where she worked, but later she accepted my compliments and my request for a date and the rest is history.

When I was a young man catting around, it was assumed that if a girl willingly got into bed with you without any clothes on and didn’t say “No, stop!” that it was consensual sex. According to our 20-something daughter, you now have to ask permission at every step of the process. Wow! Sex as a contractural relationship? Well, that sucked all the fun out of it!

I hear there’s a list of alleged sexual abusers in the media circulating. I’m sure there are men on that list who deserve to be there. However, as a heterosexual white male, it disturbs me that members of my gender are presumed guilty until proven innocent and that most of the nation doesn’t seem to have a problem with that. On at least one talk show, I have seen concerns of false accusations brushed aside with “well, women are being protected, so it doesn’t matter whether a few reputations or professional lives are destroyed in the process. Seriously, if you’re the one who hasn’t done anything wrong and your career is destroyed by false accusations – it matters … to you, to your spouse, to your kids, and to your creditors and business partners.

Anyone familiar with comedian Christopher Titus?

He was the first physically fit white male I ever heard admit publicly that he had been abused by a woman. This is a man whose psychotic mother credibly threatened to kill his father on numerous occasions and did eventually kill one of her husbands. Maybe it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he hooked up with and eventually moved in with a girlfriend who regularly hit him. When he finally had had enough and called the cops, they arrested him rather than her.

I appreciated his social bravery because I dated a girl who, a few weeks into our relationship, got drunk and tried to crack my head open with a bottle. I’d been raised not to hit women. I didn’t know what to do to make her stop. Fortunately, the neighbor lady came over to investigate the noise and I made my escape. I’m sure she thought I was the one abusing my date, not the other way around. The girlfriend called me the next day, all apologetic and promising never to do it again. We continued to date for a little while after that until I heard her laughing with her girlfriends about how scared I’d been when she swung it at me. And, yeah, I know how screwed up that is.

Lela and I have since encountered several men who quietly admit to having been abused by women – more often than not emotionally, but also sexually and physically. Since we men almost never admit to be terrorized by someone smaller than us, you can bet our few encounters translates into thousands, maybe millions, of men who have been victims of domestic violence, but are too embarrassed to talk about it.

But let’s talk about sexual harassment. When I was in school, girls weren’t usually the initiators in relationships, but by the time our kids were in high school, they were. Our daughter is a knockout … that’s not just Dad saying it. The dozens of boys I had to beat back from the car whenever I picked her up at school said it. A bold dancer who is now a semi-professional musician, I’ve never met a girl who better turned aside sexual harassment while hardly breaking her stride. She is pretty. She doesn’t need what most guys are offering. And, she’s known that since junior high. I’m sure there are plenty of other girls who feel harassed and scared, but that was never a problem for Bri in school, though she tells me that out on the road, she has had more issues with that.

On the other hand, our son would come home wondering why girls insisted upon embarrassing him by making comments about his (toned) body, his hair, his walk and his general sexiness. He didn’t kiss his first girl until middle of sophomore year, not because they weren’t throwing themselves at him, but because he was shy. He was surprised one swim team meet when a girl on an opposing team asked him to go have sex with her and when he turned her down, she spread a vicious rumor that he was gay. He isn’t. He just thought he should respect girls enough not to have sex with them standing up in a bathroom stall in the boys locker room.

But, let’s talk about the sexual harassment I have personally encountered. I’m going to skip the times I think they were coming onto me because I’m so hot and just go with the times I know they were crossing a line.

There’s the  woman in a professional course who decided to pull up her t-shirt, barring both breasts so that she could nurse her baby. Yeah, you have a right to nurse your baby (I think all mothers should), but there are ways to do it that don’t sexually harass the men in the room. I’m pretty sure, if I unzipped my pants and “let it all hang out” you’d scream sexual assault (and that is a criminal offense that will see you on a sex offender registry), so why is it different when you do it? Oh, that’s right. Men are disgusting pigs for being turned on by sight, but women aren’t held to the same standard.

When I was 20, I was broke – between decent jobs, working for minimum wage at a bakery. I rented a room from this guy I met on the bus. I didn’t know him other than to have a couple of conversations with him as we rode. Seemed like a nice guy. The room was affordable and in a decent building. It beat the alternative to living under a bridge. Two days after I signed the lease, I discovered he was gay. No big deal. I didn’t care. He was dating someone and it didn’t seem to matter … until, about three months into the lease, he didn’t have a gay guy to hook up with and he started harassing me. The next three months were hell. I had no desire to have gay sex. I couldn’t afford to move out. He would not leave me alone even when I told him repeatedly that I wasn’t interested. It even came to blows one night when he and a “friend” decided to “teach me what I’d been missing”. They came into my room while I was sleeping and tried for force the issue. I had to fight back and I was a strong construction worker while they were wimpy office workers, so I was able to make them stop. Two days later, my father asked me to come to Alaska with him and I jumped at the chance just so I could break my lease and run somewhere “Mike” couldn’t follow me. He found me on Facebook a few years ago and I literally felt like I’d been punched in the gut. I think I know how women feel who have run from a stalker and he finds them on social media years later.

Like the “women who have terrorized men”  scenario, I suspect this happens to a lot more straight people than they’re willing to admit.

So, here’s the thing – I think sexual harassment is wrong no matter who is doing it to whom, but I also think we can’t be so mechanical about the definition. If we want to insist that a man can’t compliment a woman on her appearance at work, can’t ask a coworker out, ask more than once, etc., then we should insist that women and homosexuals do the same. What’s sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose and the turducten, too. But if we’re planning that level of scrutiny of sexual attraction, we might want to consider the problems we’re causing with it. I met Lela at her place of work. In fact, every girlfriend I ever had, I met at work (school is work for teenagers). Most people met their spouses at work. Few Americans go to church anymore, so that’s out. That leaves meeting women to date … where? The bars? Laundromats? Seriously, where do we meet people we’re attracted to where we can actually spend time getting to know one another? Statistics say most of us do it at work, but if that’s not allowed … what substitute do you propose?


Can Rich People Fix Poverty?   2 comments

There’s a belief that the problem of poverty can be solved if only rich people were forced to give their wealth to poorer people. There’s a certain plausibility to that myth until you do some math. I know … I don’t like math either, but I know a few math nerds and when you feed them figures, they do what they do best.

Image result for image of wealth redistributionIf you combine the entire net worth of Forbes’ list of the world’s 400 richest people, you’d come out with about $2.4 trillion. Yes, it’s an enormous number, but it’s about one-quarter of the annual US budget. It’s also not quite what you think.

We’re talking net worth here, which is not money all piled up somewhere for a rich guy to admire. It’s the estimated monetary value of all the assets they own. That means all the office buildings, furniture, computers, telephone lines and other capital infrastructure of their various businesses. It also includes the value of their employee salaries, payroll, and pensions; and the on-paper economic value of the businesses themselves.

Let’s just look at one example.

Amazon reportedly holds $83.4 billion in assets. That includes all their warehouses, trucks, servers, and the actual stuff they keep in stock for people to purchase (stuff like my books). Jeff Bezos himself suppostedly has a personal net worth of $89 billion, but he can’t just cash out all of those billions without liquidating the inventory his company holds, selling all of his buildings, and divesting himself from Amazon entirely. Of course, he wouldn’t find a lot of buyers for his stuff if all the other rich folks were also being forced to sell everything off. Who would buy it? I don’t have a spare $80 billion. Do you?

Thus, that $2.4 trillion isn’t a real number in any sense that can be converted into a transfer of income.


Posted October 5, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in economics

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Faith, Hope, Charity   5 comments

Talk about your favorite charity and why it’s your favorite?


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Christians are called the church ministry, giving of our time and resources to the work of the gospel. Sometimes that means helping those in need of physical assistance, but God calls us to spread His good news of salvation more than He calls us to provide food and shelter to the needy. It’s not that those things aren’t important, but that they aren’t as important as salvation, so unless a “charity” has the gospel component in it as a primary focus, I don’t contribute to it.

Image result for image of university baptist church fairbanks alaskaYes, the Red Cross, United Way, and other charities do good work at what they do, but they aren’t doing what God has commanded Christians to do, so I put my resources where God says they will do the most good. There are plenty of other people to provide “rice” to those in need while ignoring the more important issue of salvation and evangelism.

The primary recipient of my limited charitable-giving funds is University Baptist Church in Fairbanks, Alaska. It’s a Great Commission Baptist church, part of the Southern Baptist Convention. Being in Alaska, it’s been “fun” (not) all these decades to try to explain the geography of being a member of an Southern Baptist church. We’re Southern Baptist, but only a handful of the members have ever lived in the South. Our pastor is from Oklahoma. One of our deacons was born in Mississippi. That’s as close to “southern” that we get. So saying we’re a Great Commission Baptist church just geographically makes more sense. Besides “Great Commission Baptist” puts the emphasis where it ought to be — on the mission Jesus gave His disciples … to spread the gospel.

Image result for image of university baptist church fairbanks alaska*Although this article includes photographs of UBC church members, in keeping with my promise not to invade my family’s privacy, they were taken from the church website and none of them include me or mine.

Brad and I combine our 10% of our net income with the 200+ members of UBC. Some of that money stays in the congregation. Our building is paid for and we are a debt-free congregation, but of course, light bills must be paid and you have to heat buildings in Alaska. Our building is also home to a Chinese congregation. There’s Sunday school materials and children and youth ministries and we have a thriving College and Careers group. Some of our young people are returning to the small-group concept of mid-weekly Bible study and prayer, probably in people’s homes. We’re on the list, though we study with another Sunday morning class. I’ve recently stepped out to teach the teenagers during a mid-weekly time. We’ll be starting that soon. But, of course, there are “rice” ministries that exist and our church gives standing contributions to the local Food Bank and also the Rescue Mission. We also host one of the distribution points for the Food Bank.

Image result for image of university baptist church fairbanks alaskaThe Southern Baptist Convention has a great system for charitable giving. It’s called the Cooperative Program. Churches required to give at least 1% of their offerings to CP in order to send delegates to the Convention. Our church gives more than that, but churches across the nation give a percentage of their offerings to CP and it is distributed to ministry needs across the world – some local, some statewide, some national and some international. I know local SB/GC churches that receive pastoral assistance and ministry stipends through CP. The Alaska Baptist Convention is supported by CP. A lot of urban church starts are funding through CP funds. Churches teach English and citizenship to the foreign-born, provide assistance to the homeless, help pregant teens, and many other ministries, depending on what God has laid on the hearts of that congregation. Southern Baptist relief workers are on the ground doing a lot of heavy lifting in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico right now. I know several agricultural and medical missions internationally that are funded through CP. My friend Sylvia’s parents were part of a mission to Aborigines in Australia, a ministry that continues today under Aborigine leadership. The CP funds also support state, local, national and international offices that help to assist these multiple ministry avenues and coordinate resources going to them.

Additionally, we have four special offerings during the year. Because of the steady flow of CP funds, special offering monies are used in direct ministry rather than administrative costs. So 98% of any offering will go directly to ministry rather than salaries or overhead.

Image result for image of university baptist church fairbanks alaskaThis time of year, we do the Valeria Sherard State Missions offering, which goes in support of ministries within Alaska. The $80,000 they hope to raise ends up in some mighty diverse places. Almost as soon as the Valeria Sherard offering closes, we’ll start focusing on the Lottie Moon Christmas offering which goes to International missions. And then there’s the Annie Armstrong Easter offering in the spring, which is used within the United States and Canada with some overlap into Mexico. Finally, the Tanana Valley Association has the summer Harley and Martha Shields offering which goes to support local ministries. For the record, I knew Valeria (pronounced Valera) Sherard and Harley and Martha Shield. Martha led my daughter to the Lord in Vacation Bible School.

Additionally, the North American Mission Board (NAMB is one of the SBC’s arms) made it easy to give to Southern Baptist Disaster Relief to support the cleanup of Harvey, Irma and Marie. Brad spent two weeks after Sandy reconnecting houses to the utilities. I reroofed houses in Appalachia after a big storm there several years ago. (Yeah, you never know what sort of skills this Alaska chick might possess).

Image result for image of university baptist church fairbanks alaskaOccasionally, if we can afford some extra, Brad and I will give donations to Samaritan’s Purse  — we do a Christmas shoebox most years, but we also give cash donations when we can afford it — and my personal happy donation is Heifer International, which provides (mostly) goats to third-world families so they can increase the protein through milk in their diets and, for some, sell milk and cheese to improve their economic conditions. Founded in 1944, Heifer International provides livestock, seeds, trees and extensive training to those in need around the world. The idea is to provide aid that will replicate itself.

All of these charities have three things in common. First, foremost and beyond anything else – the focus in on the gospel. The “rice”nature of the ministry is in support of evangelism, not the other way around. Second, they also all score comparatively well on the administrative versus ministry balance scale. When I see an organization spending tons of money on director salaries and nice office space, I don’t consider them to be a charity. They are a jobs program for people who like to look like they care. So, I give my money carefully to organizations that meet high standards. Yeah, you have to make a living while doing ministry. I don’t have a problem with paying people. But the standard should be modest salaries compared to donations, a lot of volunteers and bivocational workers, and modest office spaces. Administration should always be a minority slice of expenditures, so that food, materials and ministry flow to those who need it rather than to professional “ministers”. Third, their aim is to provide material assistance that moves people out of needing material assistance in the future. That’s why Heifer International is my favorite occasional charity because by providing goats, seeds, chickens, trees, and training, they give people the tools they need to become self-sustaining.

Give a hungry man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he eats for a lifetime.  Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie

Maybe One Reason Schools are Failing   Leave a comment

Teachers perform one of society’s more useful functions. However during a time of strained public finances students’ needs must come first – not teachers’ salaries.

The teachers’ unions have been hugely successful. Median compensation for US workers is $28,900. Teachers earn $58,000, almost double that amount .

The gap between teachers and those communities they teach in is exacerbated by the fact that gold-plated, state-guaranteed pensions mean that public school teachers generally retire as millionaires.

If teachers were paid at market rates, there would be more money available to fund students’ needs such as smaller class sizes, libraries, computers and vocation training so they might be able to get jobs when they graduate.

Posted June 12, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Government, Uncategorized

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