LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF WHAT? IS HAPPINESS JOY OR LAUGHTER?

All Is Vanity” by C. Allan Gilbert, evoking the inevitable decay of life and beauty toward death. (from here)

The word “joy” occurs frequently in the Bible, but word “laughter” does not. Apparently, Christians should be joyful, but laughter poses a problem. We almost always share our joy with others, but too often we laugh at others instead of with them. I suppose that is why the Bible does not much encourage laughter.

Ecclesiastes 7:2-5 English Standard Version (ESV)

It is better to go to the house of mourning
    than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
    and the living will lay it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
    for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
    but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise
    than to hear the song of fools.

We learn from adversity, not from being coddled. Nevertheless, there are times the Bible speaks of both laughter and joy. When the Jews returned from from Babylonian exile in the sixth century b.c., they recorded this psalm.

Psalm 126 English Standard Version (ESV)

Restore Our Fortunes, O Lord

A Song of Ascents.

126 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
    we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
    and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us;
    we are glad.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
    like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears
    shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
    bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
    bringing his sheaves with him.

For a time — for a little while, at least — the Jews had learned to obey the Lord.

On July 4th we commemorate a victory. That victory resulted in the birth of a nation. After struggling to conquer a wilderness — after battling with King George III and his armies — Americans filled their mouths with laughter, and their tongues shouted with joy.

Yes, today is a time for celebration, but it is also a time for contemplation. Lest He send us there for year upon year, set aside a few moments to spend in the house of mourning. Learn about the cause of a nation’s struggles. Take time to remember sorrows from a distant past.

Take the time to cherish what those who preceded us have given us. Imagine the endless, hard work of nation building. Imagine the grief caused by failure. Imagine their joy and gratitude in success. Then, once you have remembered the reason for our joy, you will have cause to laugh.

THE ARTICLE V GREAT DEBATE

We live in desperate times. We live in a time of great opportunities. Our world is out of control. We have never had more knowledge or better tools for bringing it under control. We have never had more laws, more regulations, more taxes, more spending, more intrusive government, ….

So on Thursday, August 28, 2014 @ 7 PM. we have been invited to hear a discussion of a very interesting proposal to scrap unneeded laws and regulations, cut taxes and spending, reduce the size of government, ….

Here is a note I received to today from Delegate Bob Marshall.

THE ARTICLE V GREAT DEBATEDear Friends,

Mike Farris and I will debate whether or not we should hold a national convention (with delegates from every state), under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, to propose amendments that will make changes to our United States Constitution.

Both of us have researched this issue in depth and have reached opposite conclusions. I will argue that states should not petition Congress to call such a Convention for the purpose of amending (changing) the Constitution. Mike Farris will argue that we should.

Please join us if you can, and listen to both sides of the argument. There will be an opportunity for the audience to have their questions answered. The debate will take place on Thursday evening, August 28, from 7:00-9:00 PM at Colgan Hall on the campus of the Northern Virginia Community College located at 6901 Sudley Rd. Manassas, VA 20109. I look forward to seeing you there!

Sincerely,

Delegate Bob Marshall

Although I have great respect for Delegate Marshall, I have been swinging over to the idea of a Convention of the states.  To see why, here are several posts I have written on the subject.

Nevertheless, I look forward to hearing the debate. Hard to imagine people better equipped for presenting each side of the argument.

OUR PREPOSTEROUS EXCUSE FOR GOVERNMENT

English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Prot...
English: Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Supposedly, we are a constitutional republic. Supposedly, the people who lead us swear to support and defend the Constitution.  Well, what may have once been true is true no longer. Read the The United States Constitution.  Check the Federal Budget. Congress spends huge sums. Congress raids the people’s pockets to buy things that bear no relationship whatsoever to what the Constitution empowers it to do. Obamacare stands out as the latest debacle. We all know that’s unconstitutional, and all the House Republicans have promised to fight it, but many would prefer to do it latter, always latter — when there is a better opportunity. Any time but now. Thus, after a grand show of resistance, their resolve appears to be dissipating.

Consider our childish excuse for news.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Time growing desperately short, House Republicans attempted to push for passage of legislation late Tuesday to prevent a threatened Treasury default, end a 15-day partial government shutdown and extricate divided government from its latest brush with a full political meltdown.

The voting on proposed legislation to end the shutdown was postponed on Tuesday night then canceled altogether before being renewed by Senate leaders who are now expressing optimism in closing a deal that would prevent the default and reopen the government.

As a day of secret meetings and frenzied maneuvering unfolded in all corners of the Capitol, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., stood on the Senate floor at midafternoon and declared, “We are 33 hours away from becoming a deadbeat nation, not paying its bills to its own people and other creditors.”

The New York Stock Exchange fell 133 points after rising a day earlier when optimism spread that a deal might be at hand. Separately, Fitch Ratings announced after the markets had closed it was putting the government’s AAA bond rating on watch because of uncertainty over the debt limit. (continued here)

Will we default on our debt? When we reach the limit on our credit card, do we stop paying on what we have borrowed? Have We the People stopped paying taxes to our government? No? Then if our nation does not pay its debt, there is only one reason it could happen. Check Section 4 of the 14th Amendment. The Constitution requires the president to pay the nation’s debts. If we go into default, the president must refuse to pay the nation’s debts. He must break his oath to the Constitution. Would this president do that? Who really knows? That sort of thing has been a problem with President Obama, has it not?

And the stockmarket dropping 133 points? When DOW stands at 15,168.01, how important is 133 points? The change was less than one percent.

So why what the corporate news media would like us to believe is chaos in Washington DC?  Consider the fact we use to call the House of Representatives the People’s House. Because we elect the members of the House every two years, and their districts are relatively small, it use to be possible to replace a member of the House relatively easily. Compared to the problem of throwing out a senator, it still is. Thus, the members of the House have a problem. They know We the People don’t like Obamacare, but the elites think it is just fine for the peons. Thus, House Republicans find themselves caught between two different factions. Do they do what is right? Or do they please favored special interests? Because pragmatism (acting solely in their own personal best interest) suggests both courses have a downside, that leaves the most pragmatic among them terribly confused.

Long ago, King Solomon observed and commented upon sort of the situation we now see. The Message provides the least obscure translation.

Ecclesiastes 10:5-7 The Message (MSG)

5-7 Here’s a piece of bad business I’ve seen on this earth,
An error that can be blamed on whoever is in charge:
Immaturity is given a place of prominence,
While maturity is made to take a backseat.
I’ve seen unproven upstarts riding in style,
While experienced veterans are put out to pasture.

We the people are suppose to be in charge, but we have elected too many self-serving showboats to the Senate. What we have put in the White House is inexcusable, and too many in the House think their job is to dole out as much of our money as they can to their friends. That cannot last.

AN EXAMPLE OF BIGOTRY — PART 7

English: Lincoln-Douglas Debates, 1958 America...
English: Lincoln-Douglas Debates, 1958 American Civil War commemorative issue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Consider these words at the end of Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:–“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Many take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, but how many mean it? When the current occupant of the White House swore that oath, was he serious about keeping his word?

When Abraham Lincoln Took An Oath To Support And Defend The Constitution, How Serious Was He?

For most of us Americans, the Lincoln–Douglas Debates of 1858 are now just an interesting item we briefly read about in a textbook on American History. Few read the debates anymore, but they once grabbed the attention of a nation. Why? The words of Abraham Lincoln, the Republican candidate for the Senate in Illinois, and Senator Stephen Douglas, the Democratic Party‘s candidate, displayed in stark contrast the North’s and the South’s differing beliefs about slavery and the meaning of the Dred Scott decision. Lincoln and Douglas also displayed starkly different attitudes towards their oath of office.

With An Oath Comes Uncomfortable Obligations

Here in the third of the Lincoln – Douglas Debates. Lincoln explains why he would have to support the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

Again: I will ask you, my friends, if you were elected members of the Legislature, what would be the first thing you would have to do before entering upon your duties? Swear to support the Constitution of the United States. Suppose you believe, as Judge Douglas does, that the Constitution of the United States guaranties to your neighbor the right to hold slaves in that Territory – that they are his property-how can you clear your oaths unless you give him such legislation as is necessary to enable him to enjoy that property? What do you understand by supporting the Constitution of a State, or of the United States? Is it not to give such Constitutional helps to the rights established by that Constitution as may be practically needed? Can you, if you swear to support the Constitution, and believe that the Constitution establishes a right, clear your oath, without giving it support? Do you support the Constitution if, knowing or believing there is a right established under it which needs specific legislation, you withhold that legislation? Do you not violate and disregard your oath? I can conceive of nothing plainer in the world. There can be nothing in the words “support the Constitution,” if you may run counter to it by refusing support to any right established under the Constitution. And what I say here will hold with still more force against the Judge’s doctrine of “unfriendly legislation.” How could you, having sworn to support the Constitution and believing it guarantied the right to hold slaves in the Territories, assist in legislation intended to defeat that right? That would be violating your own view of the Constitution. Not only so, but if you were to do so, how long would it take the courts to hold your votes unconstitutional and void? Not a moment.

Lastly I would ask-is not Congress, itself, under obligation to give legislative support to any right that is established under the United States Constitution? I repeat the question-is not Congress, itself, bound to give legislative support to any right that is established in the United States Constitution? A member of Congress swears to support the Constitution of the United States, and if he sees a right established by that Constitution which needs specific legislative protection, can he clear his oath without giving that protection? Let me ask you why many of us who are opposed to slavery upon principle, give our acquiescence to a Fugitive Slave law? Why do we hold ourselves under obligations to pass such a law, and abide by it when it is passed? Because the Constitution makes provision that the owners of slaves shall have the right to reclaim them. It gives the right to reclaim slaves, and that right is, as Judge Douglas says, a barren right, unless there is legislation that will enforce it.

The mere declaration, “No person held to service or labor in one State under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall in consequence of any law or regulation therein be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due (author’s note:  This clause in the Constitution comes from Article IV, Section 2. The 13th Amendment revoked it.),” is powerless without specific legislation to enforce it. Now, on what ground would a member of Congress who is opposed to slavery in the abstract, vote for a Fugitive law, as I would deem it my duty to do? Because there is a Constitutional right which needs legislation to enforce it. And although it is distasteful to me, I have sworn to support the Constitution, and having so sworn, I cannot conceive that I do support it if I withhold from that right any necessary legislation to make it practical. And if that is true in regard to a Fugitive Slave law, is the right to have fugitive slaves reclaimed any better fixed in the Constitution than the right to hold slaves in the Territories? For this decision is a just exposition of the Constitution, as Judge Douglas thinks. Is the one right any better than the other? Is there any man who, while a member of Congress, would give support to the one any more than the other? If I wished to refuse to give legislative support to slave property in the Territories, if a member of Congress, I could not do it, holding the view that the Constitution establishes that right. If I did it at all, it would be because I deny that this decision properly construes the Constitution. But if I acknowledge, with Judge Douglas, that this decision properly construes the Constitution, I cannot conceive that I would be less than a perjured man if I should refuse in Congress to give such protection to that property as in its nature it needed. (from here)

Lincoln’s Interpretation Of The Constitution With Respect To Slavery

Why did Lincoln deny the validity of the Dred Scott decision? This is what he said in the fifth debate.

In the second clause of the sixth article, I believe it is, of the Constitution of the United States, we find the following language: “This Constitution and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any thing in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.”

The essence of the Dred Scott case is compressed into the sentence which I will now read: “Now, as we have already said in an earlier part of this opinion, upon a different point, the right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution.” I repeat it, “The right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution!” What is it to be “affirmed” in the Constitution? Made firm in the Constitution -so made that it cannot be separated from the Constitution without breaking the Constitution-durable as the Constitution, and part of the Constitution. Now, remembering the provision of the Constitution which I have read, affirming that that instrument is the supreme law of the land; that the Judges of every State shall be bound by it, any law or Constitution of any State to the contrary notwithstanding; that the right of property in a slave is affirmed in that Constitution, is made, formed into, and cannot be separated from it without breaking it; durable as the instrument; part of the instrument; -what follows as a short and even syllogistic argument from it? I think it follows, and I submit to the consideration of men capable of arguing, whether as I state it, in syllogistic form, the argument has any fault in it?

Nothing in the Constitution or laws of any State can destroy a right distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution of the United States.

The right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution of the United States.

Therefore, nothing in the Constitution or laws of any State can destroy the right of property in a slave.

I believe that no fault can be pointed out in that argument; assuming the truth of the premises, the conclusion, so far as I have capacity at all to understand it, follows inevitably. There is a fault in it as I think, but the fault is not in the reasoning; but the falsehood in fact is a fault of the premises. I believe that the right of property in a slave is not distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution, and Judge Douglas thinks it is. I believe that the Supreme Court and the advocates of that decision may search in vain for the place in the Constitution where the right of a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed. I say, therefore, that I think one of the premises is not true in fact. But it is true with Judge Douglas. It is true with the Supreme Court who pronounced it. They are estopped from denying it, and being estopped from denying it, the conclusion follows that the Constitution of the United States being the supreme law, no constitution or law can interfere with it. It being affirmed in the decision that the right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution, the conclusion inevitably follows that no State law or constitution can destroy that right. I then say to Judge Douglas and to all others, that I think it will take a better answer than a sneer to show that those who have said that the right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution, are not prepared to show that no constitution or law can destroy that right. I say I believe it will take a far better argument than a mere sneer to show to the minds of intelligent men that whoever has so said, is not prepared, whenever public sentiment is so far advanced as to justify it, to say the other. This is but an opinion, and the opinion of one very humble man; but it is my opinion that the Dred Scott decision, as it is, never would have been made in its present form if the party that made it had not been sustained previously by the elections. My own opinion is, that the new Dred Scott decision, deciding against the right of the people of the States to exclude slavery, will never be made, if that party is not sustained by the elections. I believe, further, that it is just as sure to be made as to-morrow is to come, if that party shall be sustained. I have said, upon a former occasion, and I repeat it now, that the course of argument that Judge Douglas makes use of upon this subject (I charge not his motives in this), is preparing the public mind for that new Dred Scott decision. (from here)

Thus, the Supreme Court, with the ill-starred Dred Scott decision, played a key role in the events that lead to the Civil War.

For a list of the posts in this series, see AN EXAMPLE OF BIGOTRY — PART 1.