Category Archives: Commentary

A DadStory About Contentment

Photo: 5 years ago as of the day of this posting. There’s something great about this time of year!

It was a beautiful day. All 208.8 miles of it.

The first thing I noticed- the sun was bright and the breeze was cool. It was some of the most autumn of all the autumn weather we’ve had so far in West Tennessee. A lot of asphalt was being laid on the highways. It’s finally cool enough I guess, and the extra tax money we’re contributing must have kicked in.

I saw the fullest, whitest cotton fields I’ve seen all season driving through Crockett County. They were even picking some when I came through Dyer County. Dust clouds arose from the bean and corn fields- It is that strange and wonderful time when everything is ready all at once.

Trees are still green, though. Which is fine. There’s no reason to rush the fall foliage. No sooner than it gets here, it’ll be gone. Like the way the weeks and months of 2017 have ticked down so quickly, I wonder where the year has gone, and I’m a little bit sad.

I wonder if I’m the only one who noticed all this today. Because today I have travelled for work, and the people I have met are so focused on the immediate problems in their lives that a lot of the blessings can end up going by unnoticed.

I witnessed tears today. One family experienced the wonder of new birth; another, the gut punch of miscarriage. The scars of cuts made in desperation were there. The inside scars of physical abuse, they were there today, too. Frightful parents, at the end of their rope; I saw them as well.

I spoke my recommendations. I ascertained safety. I assessed. I even spoke my piece- I told her being treated like trash doesn’t make you trash. Believe the people who care about you. If God didn’t take you, it isn’t because he hates you. He loves you and he has something left for you to do.

Somewhere, there are two kids I know are safe and sound, treated with the utmost care. I’m missing them. The highlight of my day is when I had to ask their mama to meet me halfway through Gibson County because I left something at home I needed. Circumstances put them close enough to bring me what I needed. I saw those two boys for the only few waking minutes they and I would have today. In a few minutes, when I’m done writing this, I’ll go look at them and kiss them while they sleep.

I travelled from near the Mississippi River in Northwest Tennessee to nearly the Tennessee River in the Southwest, on rural state highways; through 7 counties including my own. God sped me along safely, and I was blessed. I prayed. I looked around. I knew the day would end and the labors would end, and I felt hope.

I hope I’m not the only one who found some contentment, in the midst of the busyness, and even the tragedy, of today. In a discontented state, it’s easy to become a victim. It’s easy to blame others, even those closest to us, for our dis-ease and discomfort. We have a society of such people these days. It’s the worst when adults blame their children for the problems they experience as a family. It seems that children are either being accused or ignored these days. And in that environment, it is a learned behavior to blame others, blame circumstances, avoid responsibility. And so the world turns…

I have a better hope than that. I look forward to better things. And I can see God in everything. In the sky and the fields. In the opportunity to help another person. In the faces of my loving family. In the Word of God. If it wasn’t for the Lord, where would I be?

Just thoughts on a page. But this is my DadStory today. Do you have one? Let me know.

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What does “Conservative” Mean When We Talk About Tennessee’s Gas Tax Issue?

I can’t help but return to this quote time and again as I put together thoughts on conservative principles of government:

To establish a government based on the consent of the governed, as the Declaration of Independence makes clear, they gave up only that portion of their rights necessary to create a limited government of the kind needed to secure all of their rights. The Founders then structured that government so that it could not jeopardize the liberty that flowed from natural rights. Even though this liberty is inherent, it is not guaranteed… Over the lifespan of our great country, many occasions have arisen that required this liberty, and the form of government that ensures it, to be defended if it was to survive. Justice Clarence Thomas

The Declaration of Independence declares our right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Preamble to our U.S. Constitution states one of its purposes is promoting “the general welfare.” Interestingly, someone in a public forum once tried to pin that phrase to welfare in the sense of government providing things for people, rather than it meaning a general sense of wellbeing for every citizen.

These documents are essential, and each of them gives principles before fleshing out the manner in which those principles would be enacted. Whatever your principles are, you will act on those principles. And if the principles you profess are not backed up by your actions, then you must not actually believe the words that you are speaking.

In the gas tax increase debate that has been raging on in Tennessee, there is unanimous consent that our transportation infrastructure must be maintained to a high degree without incurring new debt. The two sides of the debate at this time each have their own merits, but there is a fundamental problem with one of those sides- the side that believes in our current state, it is perfectly fine to increase taxes.

We all agree to give up a portion of our rights necessary to create a limited government. Paying taxes is how you and I give up a portion of our pursuit of happiness in order to fund certain government functions that are declared necessary in the Constitution. Roads are among them as a matter of insuring the general welfare.. We expect our portion of a declared natural right to be used wisely and appropriately, and that any additional portion of our rights the government would seek to take would be well justified.

Such is not the case with the gas tax increase.

Many alternatives to raising taxes have been offered. They were all declined.
The government overtaxes the citizens to the tune of almost a billion dollars per year. But this is sacred money, not to be spent on roads, in the eyes of many in the statehouse.

The Senate approved an amended bill that lowers the amount of the tax increase, phases the increase in over the next 3 years, and cuts other taxes deeper than originally proposed. Whereas the Governor’s original IMPROVE Act was billed as “revenue neutral,” This amended bill is touted as “more-than-revenue-neutral,” because the cuts purportedly outweigh the increase on the gas tax.

Naturally, any reasonable person should get right in line behind this plan. But there is a problem. Government and her politicians are always looking out for themselves. It is only by the power of the people that government works for us. Revenue neutral is being presented to mean you and I pay less. What it really means is that the government takes in less.

The original IMPROVE Act was revenue neutral in spite of the fact that the increased cost of transporting groceries would be passed on to you and me. The IMPROVEd Act still lines the coffers of government, and as has been showed to be the case, can and will be used however they see fit.

It’s all our money until it gets into their hands. Then it’s all their money. The sacred money philosophy only goes one way, when they refuse to spend money we have already paid in that is not allocated in any budget, becoming a slush fund for university buildings that will not be named after you, me, or anyone we’re likely to know.

A tax decrease is warranted. Another tax increase is not. Tying the two together is tyrannical. It’s DC-meets-Tennessee. Clean up the corruption? Stop slushing the fruits of our happiness pursuits to float pet projects? Ok, then let’s talk. I don’t expect it to happen, and neither should you. Let’s keep talking in terms of liberty and principles of self-government, and let’s not stop telling our elected employees that we have drawn the line on what they can take.

It’ll Take a Lot More Than Crying “Hate” to Make a Difference

It isn’t surprising that a group that shares the same ideology as the Charleston mass murderer agrees with his grievances. They are as full of hate as he is.

Equally as unsurprising is that there are groups dedicated to spreading hatred for others who are different from them. Such groups have existed for centuries and have varied in size and impact. In the US, thankfully, such groups have remained relatively ineffective in their efforts other than to gather people of the same ideology. Others, like the old Weather Underground, experienced marginal success, detonating a bomb inside the NYPD. Still others, like the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, made a huge impact at their inception and today have some adherents that talk about the good ol’ days.

Some deadly. All hateful.

The Southern Policy Law Center has a list of over 700 groups classified as domestic hate groups (and many of not most actually are). Bernie Sanders cited the list from the Senate floor in support of his claim that right-wing racist groups have increased and indicated that it is a sign of “how far we yet have to go in order to create a nonracist society.””

Hate should be decried and condemned at every turn. Absent the commission of a crime, however, hatred is only the absence of virtue. And if our society doesn’t work on uplifting decency and enlivening common virtues, then there won’t be any moral ground on which to condemn hate.

Sure, we can play the game of who’s hate is worse relative to someone else’s hate. It’s pretty common to hear individuals say, “I know I’m bad about (fill in the blank), but so-and-so is much worse than I am.” No political or ideological group would concede such a point because each and every one of them has their own predetermined, single solution to problems for which there are no single, simple solutions. And each shouts its own solution at the top of its lungs in an endless echo chamber.

image via cnn.com.
Charleston Unity Walk, our better virtues rising above the fray. Image via cnn.com.

You can’t lie and expect truth to win the day.
You can’t build a bullying culture and expect to end bullying in schools.
You can’t cry out for peace while rioting.
You can’t expect equality when you excoriate people who have different views from you.

Relativism and moral equivalence are cancers on our society, as fewer and fewer people acknowledge any shred of absolute truth (truth which I believe is found in the Bible).

If you’re like me, you pay attention to what is being said in the wake of tragedies like the Charleston mass murder, and you start to find the commentary maddening via circular logic, abundant strawmen, distractions and distortions. That’s because all you’re seeing is Fido chasing his tail. The only way to rise above is to get above the fray and hold on to enduring truths that espouse moral decency and virtues.

H/T to @redsteeze for turning me on to the tweet and article at the beginning of the post. For a great post on the virtues that are causing the victims’ families and the community of Charleston to rise above the fray, read his post here:

Making Men that Make a Difference

We’re losing a generation to the lies of the culture.

In spite of what the culture wants you to believe, each boy is not a rapist waiting to emerge if he doesn’t get some form of re-education.

The redefining of boyhood and manhood is another of the prevailing culture’s attempts to destroy anything that reflects the glory of God. Like the Nazis burning books or ISIS destroying the old symbols, society wants to purge the world of anything resembling Christ, because it reminds an increasingly godless culture of the once (and still) prosperous existence of those whose faith is in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Boys being driven, aggressive, reckless, competitive, inquisitive, brash, and disruptive, are not subjects to be retrained. They are forces to be channelled. If the (mis)characterization of Jesus as a long-haired, quiet, effeminate, tolerant, passive were true, then God would have just made all of us women. The nature of men is not a curse to be exorcised, it is a reflection of God in the likeness of sinful flesh. The family and the church are meant to mold raw masculinity into usefulness by the Word and the Holy Spirit. Manhood is a tool in the hands of the Master, not a scourge.

When our boys and men get up, bang their chests, grit their teeth on the bulkhead of the Good Ol’ Gospel Ship, then disembark with the Sword of the Spirit in their mouths to storm the god-forsaken beaches of this world, it is going to be an offensive, dangerous blow to the kingdom Satan is running on earth and all the ones who are trapped in it.

Men will not be confused about who they are a la “Caitlin” Jenner.

Men will be confident in their roles and abilities as fathers, sons, husbands, ministers, fighters, leaders, and prophets.

Children and women will prosper under the biblical pattern for family. It’ll be disruptive at first, because as men have previously abdicated their role, the rest of the family has adjusted to fill the vacuum. As men now resume their roles, the rest of the family has to snap back into place. There can’t be multiple heads of the home, only one.

We’ll be labeled old-fashioned, masogynistic, patriarchal, oppressive, homophobic, but these are meaningless words meant to beat us down and intimidate us into a political correct vision of manhood. This war we fight is a war of words and ideas- “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God”- so we have to fight against the words that invoke harmful stereotypes of what a man “should” be.

In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.- George Orwell

Honestly, I’m sick and tired of the lies we all keep believing, that put us in fear of how our boys will turn out if they aren’t domesticated, defanged, and deluded into being something they were never created to be. Think our country is starved for leadership? That’s because our country is deprived of strong men who know power and restraint through a living relationship with God his Creator. It’s because our families are weak and our churches powerless; our religion is a vain show that is emptied of significance.

However, I am hopeful. I am raising two men, and I think that between you and me, we can get out the word about these lies, and the lying liars that tell them, so that more men can be raised up that can change the world.

Some Thoughts on Healthcare

In the news today, Florida is hitting back at the Federal Government for applying strong-arm tactics to force medicaid expansion under Obamacare.

Meanwhile, this article was published concerning how Alabama should’t expand Medicaid under Obamacare, with some really good reasons why.

Furthermore, in my home state of Tennessee, Insure TN, Gov. Haslam’s deal to bring the fed dollars in as a subsidy to buy insurance or as a special insurance plan for those making less than 138% of the poverty level, has failed to make it out of committee twice based on the fact that everyone knows that Obamacare is the reason for it:

In criticizing the debate over making the Bible the state book of Tennessee, Rep. Craig Fitzhugh said this:

If we are serious about emulating Christ, we’d be healing the sick instead of debating whether the state should buy into the federal government’s health insurance business.

In addition, Christ never preached that charity be mandated through taxes. The liberal painting of taxes and welfare being based on “WWJD” is a guilt trip and a misreading of Christ’s teachings.

And though Christ wasn’t concerned with bad policy, but we should be. Obamacare kicked thousands off of their previous insurance and forced them to buy at the exchanges. It has raised costs. It has caused doctors to be lost. And while everyone says they are debating “healthcare,” what they are really debating is how to pay for it. Which would be much simpler if healthcare was cheaper. Can we figure out a way to make that happen?

The Legal Standard for Self- Defense Should Be Consistent for Law Enforcement and Civilians Alike

(image via Microsoft Office)

I watched the video of Walter Scott being gunned down by a North Charleston police officer. It was horrifying. Pure horror, as a man in uniform abused his power and possession of a firearm to gun down someone who appeared to pose no threat at the time of the shooting.

It is difficult to see who was doing what when they were close together; to be sure whether or not Mr. Scott had possession of a taser as the officer claimed wasn’t possible from my vantage point. But it makes no difference. What happened afterward was excessive, unwarranted, and on its face, an evil disregard for life. It appeared to be a reflexive move, tossing the taser on the ground near the body, after yelling at and cuffing the dying man on the ground. But the intent could only be interpreted as an effort to deceive, even as another officer came to the scene.

I love and appreciate police officers for how they serve our communities. I have worked with many great officers in my line of work with children, youth, and their families. However, the circumstances and evidence in some officer-involved shooting cases point to a scumbag cop. I think this is one of those cases. The combination of a gun and an unscrupulous person, without morality and decency, is a dangerous thing.

According to statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 0.8% of victims of violent crime responded by threatening or using a firearm, 235,700 individuals. That isn’t a huge number, but it is 235,700 fewer people that aren’t a part of the 2,277,000 victims of fatal or non-fatal firearms violence incidence. In Tennessee and in other states that issue handgun cary permits, background checks are mandatory so that people who are felons and not entitled to carry a firearm are not legally able to do so. Rightfully so, because the responsibility of carrying a firearm for defense of self, family, and possibly other people is tremendous. It is a responsibility that firearms owners who voluntarily carry a handgun for defense take very seriously. People who aren’t paid to carry a weapon and for the most part train and get to know their firearms very well logically are invested in safety and using that firearm only if absolutely necessary.

So, to the point I’m here to make, in light of the horrendous death of Walter Scott and the need for police responsibility, and my concern for the freedom for citizens to carry and use firearms responsibly, is this: police should be expected to use guns in the same manner in which it is lawful for citizens to use guns.

Charles CW Cooke, writing in the National Review, cited Tennessee vs. Garner, the Supreme Court case that decided police could fire on a fleeing suspect when there is reasonable belief there is “significant threat of death or serious injury” to him or herself or someone else. Citizens are not allowed to fire on someone who is fleeing and poses no immediate threat to self or someone else, even if that person is stealing or damaging property. I can understand this exception for law enforcement officers if an armed-and-dangerous suspect is fleeing and poses a threat to the general public, though this does not appear to be applicable in Mr. Scott’s case.

Additionally, law enforcement officers at all levels may obtain warrants to legally enter a building with weapons drawn in the event a threat presents itself, until the premises is clear. In a hostage situation, a decision might be made to fire on a suspect who is known to be threatening the lives of others. Neither of these are situations that non-law enforcement citizens will find themselves in. Outside of these exceptions, I can’t see any situation where law enforcement use of force with a firearm should be different than what is legal for a lawful firearm-carrying citizen.

Whatever the legal and policy requirements are, state by state, municipality by municipality, there should not be a great difference between what constitutes legal firearms use for law enforcement and non-law enforcement citizens.

Why should the policy standard for law enforcement be set by the laws governing civilian defensive firearms carry? Because ordinary citizens, in addition to the advantages I’ve already mentioned, are governed by these laws out of a demand for safety, decency, and competency that I’m afraid isn’t impressed upon all law enforcement officers. And that is what is really the issue for me in the apparent murder of Walter Scott. There was absolutely no caution, decency, or morality in what that video demonstrated, and public servants should exemplify those virtues.

Why Social Conservatives Must Continue To Press on Issues of Conscience

There is a contingent of people out there who think that conservative Republican candidates should stay away from moral issues.

The problem is, as long as the other side is pushing the destruction of liberty, individual rights, and living by one’s conscience, I don’t think we have a choice.
The term “fiscal conservative” may be used to delineate someone who is about lower taxes and cutting spending, but may be more liberal on issues of morality. Of course, a fiscal conservative may also be a social conservative, and I would guess that most social conservatives are also fiscal conservatives.

But if you look around you, you will understand that the liberal left is all about moral and social issues. Christian business owners who try to abide by their consciences are demonized and ultimately ran out of business by the liberal left. Not for discriminating based on sexual preference, mind you. You see, the conversation is being depicted this way:

“Yes, I’d like to buy a cake.”
“Ok, but tell me, what is your sexual preference?”
“I’m gay.”
“Sorry, we don’t serve gays here.”

According to reports from one couple who refused to serve a cake for a gay wedding, Randy and Trish McGath served many gay people in one of Indianapolis’ hubs for homosexuals. They drew the line at participating in the confirmation of something they believed to be sinful. In other words, they acted in accordance with their conscience. If the man requesting the union cake had said, “Oh well, I guess while I’m here I’ll have a cookie,” I think they would have sold him the cookie.

Is it any wonder that Indiana is the latest hot spot in the war against religious liberty? Gov. Mike Pence is being excoriated for his unwavering support for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which, according to the summary of the act, “Provides that a person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a state or local government action may assert the burden as a claim or defense in a judicial proceeding,” and, “Allows a person who asserts a burden as a claim or defense to obtain appropriate relief.” Judicial recourse is the birthright of all American citizens, with people who are scalded by hot coffee or tripping over a bike in someone else’s yard raking in sizable settlements. As the 1st Amendment provides for the free exercise of religion, and the very real prospect of being victimized by the government continues to grow (see the numerous examples in this article), is it so out-of-bounds to affirm within the state what our US Constitution already guarantees?

It is no coincidence that in most of the cases where vendors have been taken to court fro refusing to serve gay couples, it has involved gay marriage. The issue is not judgement of one’s sexual preference, it is an issue of participating in the public ceremony that celebrates and confirms a lifestyle that is immoral. This self-proclaimed “gay Christian” blogger asks, “Will business owners who refuse service to gays/ gay couples be consistent in who they won’t offer services to? ” He goes on to say,

Will Christian bakers ask parents if the child they’re baking a cake for was born out of wedlock? Because that wouldn’t line-up with Christian values. Or will they ask those buying a cake if they’ve had an impure thought recently? Or used the Lord’s name in vain? Will a Christian wedding photographer who won’t photograph a gay wedding ask the heterosexual couples they work for if they sleep together before marriage? Because that’s against the Christian faith, too.

A conversation I had on Twitter regarding a printer who refused to print invitations to a gay wedding went in part like this:

Labels and epithets. All that critics of people of conscience can come back with.

Well, what can we come back with? I like the response of Jason and David Benham, real estate moguls who had plans for an HGTV show that ended up cancelled after speaking their conscience regarding homosexuality. They offered dinner to representatives of major gay rights groups and sent gifts to HGTV execs. David is quoted as saying, “Jesus loves all people, but he does not love all ideas.”

I hope we keep men and women in the church, in government, in business, and in education that will stand courageously on principles of morality and decency. If we lose the backbone to stand, we will lose our freedom to live our lives as conscience dictates, and find ourselves compromising where no compromise was ever intended.