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Another Midlothian Mirror LTE Rejected. (201909)

I submitted another ‘Letter To The Editor’ (LTE) to The Midlothian Mirror at the first of September. While the person I sent it to did respond thanking me for the submission, I have yet to see it appear in print or on the website. That person did not respond to my email inquiry to find out if it had been published.

My expectations were pretty low that it would see the light of day, but I wanted to give it a chance. The latest ‘Letters’ on the website ( that I could see) were from the first of this year. The print edition usually does not contain local LTE’s even though we live in a community that does not mind speaking up and the paper actively seeks submissions ( via a PO Box – how quaint ). What does appear in the print edition looks to be purchased from one of the news services. Only guessing either there is a shortage of local letters to publish or the letters that do come in are not published because of subject matter. It must be so bad that they fill the space from other papers. The last 2 weeks must have been especially bad, since the print edition from Oct 3rd and Oct 11th have the exact same letters printed from out-of-town sources. I am reminded why I only buy a few issues a year.

I can only guess that while they actively seek LTE’s, they censor what to accept to the extent that most people don’t qualify. Wonder what news we are missing, that may pull too many people out of their comfort zone?

Anyway, here is the apparently rejected letter.

Courage Comes In Many Forms

Reprint of a L.T.E. from 2005, response to those that felt pride in pushing their religion on a captive audience.

I can understand the pride that Elaine Davidson felt for the “booming voice that led the class in prayer” during the graduation ceremony (Opinion – Midlothian Mirror 8/31/05). It takes courage to stand up for ones principles. It also took courage to stand up to the majority with the American ideal that we respect others beliefs, don’t push our religion on a trapped audience, and reject the notion that ‘might makes right’. This event should have been an all-inclusive celebration of 12+ years of hard work and a moment to remember for everyone. Unfortunately many were made to feel excluded. This country is not about majority rule and I hope it never gets to that point. I feel pride for those that took the real risk and stood up against the majority for a principle as old as America. Courage does indeed come in many forms.

John McClean

Midlothian

EV’s and Road Taxes

Several states around the nation have started creating legislation to put an extra registration tax on EV’s ( Electric Vehicles ). The main fuel being electricity, although many states are struggling with the road tax on Natural Gas vehicles.

While many of the solutions appear to be punitive and created to discourage EV use, many are actually trying to create an equitable system to insure all vehicles pay their fair share for maintaining public roads.

Instead of adding a tax for EV’s, my suggestion would be to eliminate all road taxes on fuel. There is substantial evidence that the fund created and funded by the gasoline tax, is only partly ( not mostly ) being used for roads. Politicians are always using money for things they weren’t intended for, and I suspect this fund is no exception. Just another revenue source. Let’s clarify for them.

Eliminate the tax on fuel. While they are at it, remove all taxpayer subsidy for vehicle fuels of all kinds. Offset that revenue source by the existing annual registration. Increase the annual registration to make up the difference and restrict the fund to be only used for roads, bridges, and like infrastructure. The amount will be computed on weight. If improving air quality is an issue, and it should be, take into account fuel efficiency and pollution generated.

The price of petroleum will increase. Heavy and destructive vehicles ( weight and pollution ) would become more expensive and those costs would have to be evaluated by the consumer, based on whatever value those vehicles are providing.

End any special emissions classification for Special Use Vehicles, if indeed we do still have more lenient pollution standards for certain class of vehicles. This would be more of a related fairness issue. Since a tax on weight and capacity would be equitable across the board.

When you go to renew your registration. You will be taxed on weight and carrying capacity. If pollution is important, include efficiency and emissions.

Granted, those that use the roads more will pay the same as those that use them less, for a given weight class. Perhaps buy a smaller lighter car if you don’t do much driving. Another solution would be payment based on miles driven. Certainly a last choice for those that value their privacy. Perhaps some would be willing to forgo that privacy in favor of a lower tax. I realize we already give the government our mileage when we get the vehicle inspected. Just whether you want to officially allow use of that piece of information. Assuming the government can be trusted, subject for another time. I suspect in another 10 years, where you go and which roads you use will be tabulated by the many many traffic detection systems we have. More so if your vehicle is part of the Internet Of Things.

Sound fair. Taxpayers no longer pay for what others choose to drive. Everybody pays for the infrastructure based on what damage their choices do.

I have no doubt that the system they come up with will be far from fair, reward all the wrong choices, and in some ways be really stupid. But, at least different ideas were out there.

I’m sure there are quite a few angles I have not considered. Just trying to get ideas on the fair way to pay for public roads. Ideas?

Cannabis Scraps and The New War On Drugs

I see legalization of industrial hemp ( Cannabis Ruderalis ) has worked its way from underneath the thumb of the WOD ( War Of/On Drugs ).

What should be happening with the elimination of laws restricting hemp, is just that. Reverse all restriction to growing it and, most importantly, a Federal Register apology for including Ruderalis ( if not Cannabis as a whole ) in the expensive, destructive, and ineffective WOD.

Not only are they not admitting that for decades they had no reason to stop the American farmers from growing it, but are going to expand on the government control bureaucracy by building a system to protect us from that which we do not need protection. While we do need time spent on protecting us from the various entities that have no problem polluting our air, water, and food.

Poll after poll shows that the public has little problem making even the psychoactive variety of Cannabis legal ( Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica – POT ), the low THC version should be of no concern. Meanwhile they are spending all this time to counter laws around something that should have never been made illegal. Wasting time on addressing hemp like it’s some plant that is a danger to us all.

What I want? Reverse and otherwise nullify the laws on Ruderalis. Admit that you were incredibly wrong. Apologize for the immense harm you have done to the people of this country, especially the farmers, and move on. It is ditch weed, if people want to ingest it, let them. Tax it as you would any other farm commodity. No committees, boards, or agencies beyond what is already in place for any other agricultural commodity. While your actually making progress, raise the allowable THC in industrial hemp to at least 1%. Apologize to the rest of the world while your being honest, the United States played no small part in getting the revenue generator we know as the WOD going internationally.

Move on to eliminating the prohibition on Indica and Sativa, and let people use what they want. Despite the Shafer Commission recommendation in the early 1970’s that these substances pose no substantial threat, this demonized plant has thrown hundreds of thousands of people into our seriously broken legal system. We don’t even have to include the people that have suffered under prohibition for maladies that have been proven to be helped by Cannabis, to reach an incredible number.

Treat it like beer. You can grow it, you just have to get a license if you want to sell it, and you can’t provide it to minors. Simple.

They act as though this is some new narcotic that has been discovered in the last decade or two. That we really need to be cautious and do more research, even though we have decades and decades of excellent science to look at. Of course, they need to tax us so we know it’s a privilege, and because they can, and we will pay it. The research is done. Just because lawmakers have kept their head up .. er uh in the sand about Cannabis for 70 years doesn’t mean everybody else has. Now, they have had to pull their collectives heads out because the smell of BS is getting so strong that even they notice it. Do they apologize for lying to us for all those years ( or just plain intentional ignorance ), and just legalize it. No, they need to keep the rouse going and use our tax dollars to form panels and commissions to regulate and tax, because, well you know, this is dangerous stuff and since your forcing us to actually represent the people, we need to build a bureaucracy to steal your tax dollars and control you. Not to mention the incredible lucrative drug war, that without Cannabis, would cost a fraction of what it does now, and likely be twice as effective with regard to the drugs that actually ruin lives and kill people. Let’s talk about the hundreds of thousands that die from prescription drugs every year. But it is likely to turn into “If you can’t follow the new rules, we will need more tax dollars to track down those lawbreakers.”. Welcome back WOD.

Then there is Cannabis as medicine. A complicated program created under the guise of allowing those very sick people to use what mankind has used for 1000’s of years. We will give you some sort of access. But, in most cases, only after you have exhausted your body and your wallet on conventional drugs. ( aka protection to Big Pharma ). There is nothing compassionate about the Compassionate Use program.

Every lawmaker for the last 70 years should be ashamed that this has gone on so long. The level of pain and suffering for lack of cheap, non-toxic, and gentle medicine is atrocious. Drop your heads in shame and go find another job if you’re not willing to do this one.

If it weren’t for the people that could have their life and health improved by cannabis, I would advise people to refuse to be manipulated as another revenue source and tell our ‘leaders’ that we will take no less than complete legalization. If not, I’m sure the black market will continue to find a solution where our leaders cannot. The social costs and the blood that are results of the black market doing its thing, will be on our leaders hands. Part of nullifying the laws against Cannabis would be let all prisoners out of jail for convictions that are no longer relevant. Remove the crimes from their record and apologize.

This is so much nonsense. But we will begrudgingly accept it because we will do anything to get our scraps. Be controlled and taxed because we are too powerless to stand up and claim enough is enough.

Public School and Creation Museum

I may submit a ‘Letter to The Editor’ to Midlothian Mirror when I want to spend more time on their website looking for the place to post it. I suspect it is easier to find in the print edition. The original blurb is from, what looks to be, an outside news service. It was about FFRF sending letters to public school districts warning them of the unconstitutional nature of official trips to ‘Creation Museum’ and Ark Encounters’. In response, the ‘Parks’ are offering free admission to official school trips.

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Thanks go out to Freedom From Religion Foundation ( FFRF ) for reminding Public Schools that school sponsored trips to religious theme parks are not Constitutional, free admission or otherwise. ( Midlothian Mirror 2019-02-07 Faith Section ).

While a trip to the attractions mentioned ( ‘Ark Encounters’ and ‘Creation Museum’ ) could certainly be used as a learning process, we should leave that choice, and cost, up to the guardians of the individual student. Public School money should not be spent indoctrinating children to religion.

We could save a trip and have an open discussion about how likely or unlikely these exhibits are to depict actual events. We could openly and honestly debate which laws of nature would need to be overturned in order for the events depicted in the exhibit to actually be real. A forum where students are allowed to question those things that don’t make sense. That would be educational. Unfortunately I doubt an honest and open discussion is the intention of these particular attractions. Another reason not to use public money, there is little reason to think that either of these exhibits depict anything that is actually true.

John McClean

Midlothian Freethought.

Yes, That would be a Wonderful, Yet Imaginary Place.

This is a response to a friend that was basing his reality on powerful people doing good for us all and that if that were not the case, they would be punished.

Man o man would I like to live in that world. Where powerful, wealthy, greedy people don’t successfully conspire and collude to make sure they stay on top of the heap. Where those same powerful people don’t spend a good deal of that power and wealth to undermine the laws and agencies set up to police them. Where the agencies that are there to give us voice and protect our interests, were not under the control of the aforementioned ruling class. Agencies that are not starved of the needed money and power, to actually do the job they were created to do. A place where those that are kept in check by strong laws and powerful government agencies did not have the power to render those tools useless. A place where our leaders have humanity’s best interests at heart.

Yep, that surely would be a wonderful, yet imaginary, place.

Sadly we don’t live in that place.

To your point. We know the technology exists to fill our skies with chemicals, whether it be weather modification, warfare, climate change remediation, or simple communications enhancement. The patents are there. The government manuals are there. The potential for gaining or keeping great power and wealth are there. They openly talk of this technology. The ONLY thing, the ONLY thing, that keeps them from doing it, is the honesty and humanity of those that make the rules. If that fails, and we know it has, then the laws and agencies that protect us are our last hope. (See first paragraph).

As with any technology that would not be popular, but benefits those described above. They will employ it when they can, and tell you about it when it’s safe for them to do so. If they tell you the truth at all. What it does to humanity and our planet are not on the top of the list.

We live in a place where there is a substantial divide between what those on the top of the heap can get away with, compared to those on the bottom. They have the power to do illegal things and buy the justice they need or change the rules in their favor.

We live in world where most people know what’s going on, or worse, what could be going on, based on visible reality. They simply do not have the freedom to change things without running into the above described class of greedy humans. Dissent, even in large groups, will be penalized and/or marginalized one way or another. Don’t forget who makes the rules, hint – it’s not us.

Neutrality, Our Government and Religion

“Nothing stands behind the Court’s assertion that governmental affirmation of the society’s belief in God is unconstitutional except the Court’s own say-so, citing as support only the unsubstantiated say-so of earlier Courts going back no further than the mid-20th century,” Scalia wrote.”

What the courts have said, and yes their ‘say-so’ actually has weight of law, is that the government cannot show favoritism toward one religion, or another, or no religion, unless it passes certain tests, usually requiring some secular purpose. I suspect the justices would argue the accusation of ‘unsubstantiated’. Interpreted from the Constitution and quite substantial in its own right.

Justices can and have been on the wrong side of issues many times, that is the nature of interpreting founding documents when the founders are all gone. Times change, and it is up to them to decide what stays and what leaves.

The phrase “respecting an establishment of religion” is not so clear cut that it only comes into play if the government wants to actually create ( or sanction ) a national religion. In which one particular belief system is ok and the rest are second class, or worse. It has been interpreted to mean that the government cannot support or favor any particular belief system, it must remain neutral in those matters. It cannot promote or hinder the individual with respect to religion or lack of religion. The courts have the job of deciding what that neutrality should look like. The common sense answer would be to not support, either with money or power, any particular belief system. Neutrality. No religious symbols on public property, no religious reference on the money, no tax dollars supporting religion, no special privileges or tax breaks for religion, and certainly no religious coercion of children in publicly financed schools. I suspect if the public schools were to offer a true objective course on comparative religion, it could do so. I also suspect it would be the last thing the dominant religion(s) in this country would want. Talk about a generation of freethinkers.

Families are free to exercise their belief system at whatever institution they wish, teach their kids, give their money and time, etc. But the government should stay neutral. That is to avoid ‘respecting the establishment of religion’.

“Historical practices thus demonstrate that there is a distance between the acknowledgment of a single Creator and the establishment of a religion,” Scalia wrote in McCreary. “Publicly honoring the Ten Commandments is thus indistinguishable, insofar as discriminating against other religions is concerned, from publicly honoring God. Both practices are recognized across such a broad and diverse range of the population — from Christians to Muslims — that they cannot be reasonably understood as a government endorsement of a particular religious viewpoint.”

Justice Scalia may be right with respect to most religious observances in this country, but publicly honoring God and The Ten Commandments ( surely he can’t say that with a straight face ) only applies to the majority and that is exactly what the Constitution was trying to avoid, the majority deciding what religion is acceptable. He only reinforces the reason why the government must remain neutral. The Justice may have unwittingly became the poster child for the principle he was trying to refute.

And given the Establishment Clause is followed directly by the Free Exercise Clause (“or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”), one might also infer that the Founders felt that the ability to exercise one’s religion freely is a fundamental natural right. If that is the case, when it comes down to disputes over public displays of religion, it seems that the FFRF are the only party in these disputes actually threatening anyone’s constitutional rights.

Just the opposite, organizations like FFRF are working to make sure everyone, non-religious and religious, can practice their beliefs freely without government coercion.

The notion that the Constitution guarantees “separation of church and state” is an insidious myth, employed by militant atheists to keep Christian communities and individuals from celebrating their faith publicly.

The myth here is that this concept is to keep anyone from practicing their beliefs. Rather it is to keep that freedom safe. Perhaps a little reading on the works of Thomas Jefferson and others on their interpretation of the establishment clause. An ideal to keep everyone safe from the dominant religion using the government as a sponsor. Neutrality, plain and simple.

Our National Myths

One of the many services offered by atheist and freethought organizations ( among others ) is myth-busting. 9/11 is our National myth. Myths are lies that are propagated in order to benefit a few at the cost of the many. David Ray Griffin goes into detail with this idea in his writings.

Myths usually are fairly plausible stories, but eventually they have to insert a miracle in order for them to work.

Flight 77 hit the Pentagon, but it had to level out over a distance of a quarter mile, at over 500 mph, in order to hit the building but not scrape the lawn and not damage the ground floor foundation. It had to be level with the ground and flying almost at near ground level in order to match the smoky flash in the 5 frames video. Experienced pilots say it could not have leveled out at that speed, could not have gone that speed that close to the ground, and would likely have broken apart way before it reached the building. Insert miracle.

Two aircraft hit the Twin Towers. Experienced pilots say they could not have hit that relatively small target going that speed. Plus course corrections at the last minute would have destroyed the aircraft. Insert miracle.

The 2 towers came down at near free-fall speed in the path of most resistance and still had enough power to completely pulverize most of the concrete and office contents to a micron size dust. Insert miracle.

As they fell, the towers ejected multi-ton steel beams laterally for hundreds of feet. All the while maintaining enough momentum to pulverize the lower floors. Some of that debris hit Building 7 and caused enough damage to cause the building to collapse, some floors at free-fall speed, in its own footprint, because of office fires. Later that was changed to the sliding beam theory. NIST said it made sense but declined to release the science behind that declaration. Insert miracle.

The Shanksville flight crashed in a field and was totally swallowed up by the ground, leaving no visible plane debris and no bodies. Although there was one of the engines found in a lake 8 miles away. We can conclude it was shot down. If it was shot down, chances are good it would continue to break up as it headed to the ground and debris would be everywhere. Less need for a miracle, but still.

The official story is not backed up by the evidence. In fact in some cases they don’t even try, such as the NTSB interpretation of the FDR data. But since it is our National Myth, we can’t question. If you do, you will be labeled a fool or a Conspiracy Theorist. A label made mainstream by our national security forces a half a century ago, might want to consider why that was? Have you taken a good look at the things this country has done over the last two decades? To question should be the default position.

It does make one wonder if the reason we insert a supreme being into our politics so often is to keep the idea of myth alive and well. So the notion of believing in something with no proof or even contradictory proof will be maintained as acceptable. An idea to be used as the need arises. It certainly can’t be to set any sort of an example, based on what we see in politics today.

Are Our Leaders Worth Half Staff?

Or is it just patriotic propaganda? Whether you put your flag at half staff or even fly the flag at all, for the 30 days you have been re-commanded to by President Trump, since it was already in effect from a proclamation originally issued by Eisenhower, depends on how you view the deeds of George H.W. Bush. You can view him as one of the important elements of the Bush crime family, a war criminal, and/or a President with good deeds under his belt. It is possible to be all three, very much the situation in this case. Although, as with most any Presidents, what is ostensibly portrayed as good, may or may not have had good intentions, or actually even happened considering we are some of the most propagandized populations in the world, and have been since the benefits of public relations were revealed after WWII, there is too much digging required to assess the actual results of an act. Perhaps the source of the sentiment “Never let a good crisis go too waste”. Let’s not forget ‘Manufactured Consent’.

If you believe that this President, just as all others in that office, cannot help but be guilty of serious crimes that do not deserve such respect, then to fly the flag at all is to admit those crimes were less than the good done. The millions that die, the Democratic nations that were overthrown, and lesser, but serious, crimes to our nation, our Democracy, and the planet. These things, we are to forget about. All normal conduct for an empire leader. Even if the President has no real control over these crimes and atrocities, he is guilty for not standing up and saying so, even if to deaf ears.

But, as we all should know by now, punishment for crimes done by the wealthy and powerful are dealt with by the oligarchy and not by the justice system all the rest of us are subject to. Really just depends on if the crime was against or for those above you or below you on the socioeconomic ladder.