Archive | May, 2016

Is Bias Ever Healthy?

30 May

I have been burdened with this thought for a few days now, so decided to write about it. Just how healthy or unhealthy is Bias in the church or for life in general?

As a Christian, I believe the bible is the word of God and that Jesus is the only way to Salvation. I also believe that I am to be a living example of my faith and share my love of God with all. Lately I have listened to fellow Christians talk about how people who don’t think or believe the same as they do are totally wrong and that got me thinking.

Why is it that if someone thinks or looks differently than you, they are messed up? What happened to mutual respect for the feeling and beliefs of others? Something is amiss here and I think that something is unfettered bias and the resulting lack of respect for others. We have turned into a people of uncompromising noncompassionate zealots.

I was raised differently and see this as unhealthy not only unhealthy for the Church, but for the entire population. We live in a world that is getting smaller by the day and in this world there are thousands of religions. In the United States alone there are over 300 different religions, each thinking theirs is the only way into heaven.

Mutual respect for the beliefs and feelings of others is the only way we, as a people, can grow and learn. It is time to realize not everyone in this world is the same and just because they think and look differently doesn’t make them wrong. It also doesn’t make us right!

As a Country, the United States, has become more polarized over the years and some have used this to build a great divide. This has not only hurt the Country, it has hurt the people and the church. It is time for everyone to wake up and start examining themselves. Is this what God expects from His people? I don’t think so. God is love and He expects us to love all regardless of their beliefs.

Yes, there are thousands of religions around this world, but believe it or not there is only one God!

So is Bias Ever Healthy? In my opinion never.

Walk daily with God at your side!

Love,

Ed

We Should…

28 May

We should be better Christians if we were more alone; we should do more if we attempted less, and spent more time in retirement, and quiet waiting upon God. 

The world is too much with us; we are afflicted with the idea that we are doing nothing unless we are fussily running to and fro; we do not believe in “the calm retreat, the silent shade.” 

As a people, we are of a very practical turn of mind; “we believe in having all our irons in the fire, and consider the time not spent between the anvil and the fire as lost.” 

Yet no time is more profitably spent than that which is set apart for quiet musing, for talking with God, for looking up to Heaven. 

We cannot have too many of these open spaces in life, hours in which the soul is left accessible to any sweet thought or influence it may please God to send.

Walk daily with God at your side!

Love,

Ed

Life and You

26 May

Life can seem ungrateful and not always kind,
Life can pull at your heartstrings and play with your mind,
Life can be blissful and happy and free,
Life can put beauty in the things that you see,
Life can place challenges right at your feet,
Life can make good of the hardships we meet,
Life can overwhelm you and make your head spin,
Life can reward those determined to win,
Life can be hurtful and not always fair,
Life can surround you with people who care,
Life clearly does offer its ups and its downs,
Life’s days can bring you both smiles and frowns,
Life teaches us to take the good with the bad,
Life is a mixture of happy and sad…

SO

Take the life that you have and give it your best,
Think positive, be happy, let God do the rest,
Take the challenges that life has laid at your feet,
Take pride and be thankful for each one you meet,
To yourself give forgiveness if you stumble and fall,
Take each day that is dealt you and give it your all,
Take the love that you’re given and return it with care,
Have faith that when needed it will always be there,
Take time to find the beauty in the things that you see,
Take life’s simple pleasures, let them set your heart free,
The idea here is simply to even the score,
As you are met and faced with life’s Tug of War.

Have a good day everyone.

Walk daily with God at your side!

Love,

Ed

The Tenth Amendment

22 May

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

The original Constitution of 1788 contained very few specific restrictions on the ways in which the power of the national government could be exercised against the people. It guaranteed the right to trial by jury in criminal (but not civil) cases, placed limits on prosecutions and punishments for treason, forbade bills of attainder (laws aimed at particular persons) and ex post facto laws (laws that punished conduct that was legal when it happened), limited any restrictions on habeas corpus to certain designated emergencies, and prohibited the granting of titles of nobility. But the Constitution that emerged from the 1787 Constitutional Convention contained nothing like a comprehensive bill of rights. Most state constitutions of the time had bills of rights, and many citizens—and members of the Constitutional Convention—expected the new national constitution to have one as well. Nonetheless, the state delegations at the Constitutional Convention voted 10-0 against including a bill of rights in the Constitution.

The sense of the Convention delegates was that a bill of rights, in the context of the federal Constitution, was unnecessary and even dangerous. It was considered unnecessary because the national government was alimited government that could only exercise those powers granted to it by the Constitution, and it had been granted no power to violate the most cherished rights of the people. There was, for example, no need for a provision protecting freedom of speech against Congress because, as James Wilson put it, “there is given to the general government no power whatsoever concerning it.” Edmund Randolph made the same point regarding freedom of religion, emphasizing that “[n]o part of the Constitution, even if strictly construed, will justify a conclusion that the general government can take away or impair the freedom of religion.” Similar remarks were made during the drafting and ratification process regarding juries in civil cases, general warrants, and cruel and unusual punishment. The consistent line of the Constitution’s defenders was that no bill of rights was necessary because the limited and enumerated powers of the national government simply did not include the power to violate those rights.

They even maintained that inclusion of a bill of rights would be dangerous, because it might suggest that the national government had powers that it had not actually been granted. As Alexander Hamilton put it, bills of rights “would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colourable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done, which there is no power to do?” Moreover, any list of rights would be incomplete. Such a list might indirectly endanger any rights not included on it.

In sum, the Constitution’s Framers thought that a bill of rights was appropriate for an unlimited government, but not for a limited one like the national government created by the Constitution. The Constitution accordingly sought to secure liberty through enumerations of powers to the government rather than through enumerations of rights to the people.

Not everyone was convinced by these arguments. Indeed, the absence of a bill of rights threatened to derail ratification of the Constitution, especially in key states such as Massachusetts and Virginia.  A number of states ratified the Constitution only on the express understanding that the document would quickly be amended to include a bill of rights. The first Congress accordingly proposed twelve Amendments, the last ten of which were ratified in 1791 and now stand as the Bill of Rights.

The first eight of those ratified Amendments identify various rights of the people involving such things as speech, religion, arms, searches and seizures, jury trials, and due process of law. The last two address the concerns of the Constitution’s defenders that these enumerations of rights were pointless and even dangerous.

The Ninth Amendment warns against drawing any inferences about the scope of the people’s rights from the partial listing of some of them. The Tenth Amendment warns against using a list of rights to infer powers in the national government that were not granted. In referring, respectively, to “rights . . .  retained by the people” and “powers . . .  reserved  . . . to the people,” the Ninth and Tenth Amendments also evoke themes of popular sovereignty, highlighting the foundational role of the people in the constitutional republic.

The Tenth Amendment’s simple language—“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”—emphasizes that the inclusion of a bill of rights does not change the fundamental character of the national government. It remains a government of limited and enumerated powers, so that the first question involving an exercise of federal power is not whether it violates someone’s rights, but whether it exceeds the national government’s enumerated powers. 

In this sense, the Tenth Amendment is “but a truism.”United States v. Darby (1941). No law that would have been constitutional before the Tenth Amendment was ratified becomes unconstitutional simply because the Tenth Amendment exists. The only question posed by the Tenth Amendment is whether a claimed federal power was actually delegated to the national government by the Constitution, and that question is answered by studying the enumerated powers, not by studying the Tenth Amendment. That was the understanding of the Supreme Court for nearly two centuries.

Nonetheless, beginning in 1976, a line of cases has emerged that seems to give substantive constitutional content to the Tenth Amendment. In 1986, inGarcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority, a narrow majority of the Supreme Court held that a city was required to comply with federal labor laws, and that state sovereignty interests should be protected by the participation of states in the national political process, rather than by judicially-enforced principles of federalism. However, while Garcia has never been explicitly overruled, in subsequent cases the Court has indeed found judicially-enforceable limits on the power of the federal government to regulate states (and their political subdivisions) directly. So it is now meaningful to speak of “Tenth Amendment doctrine.” Those cases all involve action by the federal government that in some way regulates or commands state governments, such as by telling states what policies they must adopt, New York v. United States (1992), forcing state or local executive officials to implement federal laws or conditioning the states’ acceptance of federal money on compliance with certain conditions. Interestingly, the Tenth Amendment has not been invoked by the Court to protect individual citizens against the exercise of federal power.

Whether the Tenth Amendment actually is, or ought to be, serving as an independent source of constitutional principles of federalism is a matter of great controversy, both on and off the Court. Do these “Tenth Amendment” cases really involve the Tenth Amendment, or do they simply interpret (or perhaps misinterpret) specific grants of federal power in light of certain principles codified in the Tenth Amendment, but present in the Constitution’s structure and design even before the Bill of Rights was ratified?

The 9th Amendment

22 May

The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

The Ninth Amendment, of the United States Constitution is the section of the Bill of Rights that states that there are other rights that may exist aside from the ones explicitly mentioned, and even though they are not listed, it does not mean they can be violated. The Ninth Amendment of the Bill of Rights was put into the United States Constitution on September 5, 1789 and was voted for by 9 out of 12 states on December 15, 1791.

When the United States Constitution was first sent out to the states to be voted on, people known as the Anti-Federalists argued that there should also be a Bill of Rights. However, another group known as the Federalists did not think it was necessary. They worried that putting in the Bill of Rights gave power to the government by specifically discussing what the government could not do.

Because of these debates, the Virginia Ratifying Convention tried to compromise by proposing a constitutional amendment that said that any amendments limiting Congress’ power should not be reason to extend their power. This proposal led to the creation of the Ninth Amendment.

When James Madison introduced the Ninth Amendment to the House of Representatives, he said that this draft was to prevent increasing the power of the government and is put in as a cautionary measure. He felt that the first Eight Amendments talked about how the federal government could exercise its powers, and the Ninth Amendment looked referred to many rights that still could not be taken away by the government.

Today, the Ninth Amendment is used mainly to stop the government from expanding their power rather than just limiting their power. Sometimes, courts try to use the Ninth Amendment as a way to provide and enforce rights that are not actually talked about in the Constitution.

The Seventh Amendment

22 May

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

The Seventh Amendment of the United States Constitution is the section of the Bill of Rights that guarantees a jury trial for civil cases in the federal courts. However, this type of case is usually not heard anymore in the federal court system. The Seventh Amendment was introduced as a part of the Bill of Rights into the United States Constitution on September 5, 1789 and was voted for by 9 out of 12 states on December 15, 1791.

Understanding the Seventh Amendment Line by Line

“In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved”: When the Seventh Amendment was written in the 1700s, $20 was considered a lot of money. Today, any disputes that involve amounts less than $75000 will not be handled in a federal court. 

“And no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law”: It is against United States law to setting up your own court system. If a person goes to court, he will always go to a court recognized by the government. These courts are often city, country, state, or national courts. 

History of the Seventh Amendment

Before 1688, English judges were servants under the King of England. These judges were often biased towards the King, and because of this, their rulings were not always fair. During the Act of Settlement 1701, English judges won their independence from the king, but judges in the American colonies were still biased towards the king. King George III got rid of trials by juries in the Colonies, which made colonists very upset and fueled the fire that led to the American Revolution. When the Framers wrote the Bill of Rights, they understood how important it was to have a fair court system, so they made sure that the right to have a trial by jury was a fundamental law of the country.

Life Is….

20 May

When we were born there came no instruction manual with us. As understanding as that is it still brings to question just what we are being put in. I’m sure our parents had a learning experience, especially if we were a first child. I know as a new parent I was wondering during why there was no instructions on how to care for such a new life.

As we grew up, learned to talk and finally to do things on our own we all faced disappointments and many hard times. It sure would have been nice to have a instruction manual to help us find our way out of the hole we dug for ourselves. So for the most part life is a self taught experience. No, I am not discounting school and our parents I am just saying that since we make the choices, we are self teaching.

So just what is life? I have found, over the years, life is 90 percent attitude and 10 percent hope. I know you will question that so let me spell it out.

Life is full of bumps and obstacles and it is up to us how we adapt to these obstacles and bumps in the road. Being given free will at birth we have the choice on how we perceive these occurrences. We can chose to take a positive approach or we can get upset and be negative.

How we take the experience forms how we grow and how people come to know us. Our attitude, good or bad, defines us and follows us throughout our life. Attitude determines our future and is 90 percent of our life. With a good one we are unstoppable, with a bad one we are miserable.

Sometimes no matter how hard we try, something gets in the way. This is where hope comes in play. If we allow ourselves to learn from our experience, there is always hope we will finally get it right.

Life was never promised to be a bed of roses, but with a good positive attitude and a little hope we can make the best of what we are dealt. One thing for sure it will build our character and show us just how strong we really are.

A bad attitude can literally block love, blessings and destiny from finding you. Don’t let your attitude be the reason you don’t succeed.

Walk daily with God at your side!

Love,

Ed

Silence

20 May

In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are as one with Him. Empty yourself for it is only when you realize you are empty, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.

It is through prayer we talk to God, it is through prayer that He talks to us. Yet still so many say prayer is wasted time because they aren’t answered. But they are being answered, we just aren’t listening.

We were born with one mouth and two ears. This because listening is more important than talking, not only in everyday life, but especially in prayer. It is so important that you were provided two ears just so you can hear what He is telling you.

Through the the years I have heard many complaints about prayer and have talked many times on how prayer is answered. Many think that God must be ignoring them because they just aren’t getting the answers they want. I have learned that God gives me just what I need when I need it. It may be different from what I want, but it is exactly what I need.

I am reminded of my younger days when Grandfather would tell me: “Just because you don’t see His hand, don’t question His plan.” God has a plan for each and everyone of us, we just have to be patient and listen to what He whispers to our hearts.

In the bible every time Jesus prayed he went away from the crowd and prayed in seclusion. We are instructed in the bible to pray in a closet or some other place of privacy. The reason for doing this is so we can hear what His answer is. When He whispers in your ear or into your heart, it is best to be in a quiet place so you have no distractions from hearing His words.

As for myself, I am one who prays unceasingly. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1Thessalonians 5:16-18

For me this has been the most efficient way to talk with God. He is always there to guide my every move and I am always looking for ways to share the blessings He has given me. We are in continuous conversation with each other.

One last thing, in every circumstance, good or bad, there is a gift waiting to.be shared. Our life grows on how we accept and share these gifts. This brings me back to what I mentioned earlier – Just because you can’t see His hand, don’t question His plan!

Walk daily with God at your side.

Love,

Ed

The Eighth Amendment

19 May

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

The Eighth Amendment

This amendment prohibits the federal government from imposing unduly harsh penalties on criminal defendants, either as the price for obtaining pretrial release or as punishment for crime after conviction.

The Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause is the most important and controversial part of the Eighth Amendment.  In some ways, the Clause is shrouded in mystery. What does it mean for a punishment to be “cruel and unusual”? How do we measure a punishment’s cruelty? And if a punishment is cruel, why should we care whether it is “unusual”?

We do know some things about the history of the phrase “cruel and unusual punishments.” In 1689 – a full century before the ratification of the United States Constitution – England adopted a Bill of Rights that prohibited “cruell and unusuall punishments.” In 1776, George Mason included a prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments in the Declaration of Rights he drafted for the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 1791, this same prohibition became the central component of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

When the United States Constitution was first ratified by the states, it did not contain a Bill of Rights, and it did not prohibit cruel and unusual punishments. These protections were not added until after the Constitution was ratified. The debates that occurred while the states were deciding whether to ratify the Constitution shed some light on the meaning of the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause, because they show why many people thought this Clause was needed.

The proposed Constitution made the federal government much more powerful than it had been under the Articles of Confederation. One of the most significant of these new powers was the power to create federal crimes and to punish those who committed them. Opponents of the Constitution feared that this new power would allow Congress to use cruel punishments as a tool for oppressing the people. For example, Abraham Holmes argued that Congress might repeat the abuses of “that diabolical institution, the Inquisition,” and start imposing torture on those convicted of federal crimes: “They are nowhere restrained from inventing the most cruel and unheard-of punishments, and annexing them to crimes; and there is no constitutional check on them, but that racks and gibbets may be amongst the most mild instruments of their discipline.” Patrick Henry asserted, even more pointedly than Holmes, that the lack of a prohibition of cruel and unusual punishments meant that Congress could use punishment as a tool of oppression: “Congress . . . . may introduce the practice of France, Spain, and Germany of torturing, to extort a confession of the crime. They . . . will tell you that there is such a necessity of strengthening the arm of government, that they must . . . extort confession by torture, in order to punish with still more relentless severity. We are then lost and undone.” Largely as a result of these objections, the Constitution was amended to prohibit cruel and unusual punishments.

As these debates demonstrate, the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause clearly prohibits “barbaric” methods of punishment. If the federal government tried to bring back the rack, or thumbscrews, or gibbets as instruments of punishment, such efforts would pretty clearly violate the Eighth Amendment. Most people also agree that the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause now limits state power as well as federal power, because the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits states from abridging “the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” and from depriving “any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

But once we get beyond these areas of agreement, there are many areas of passionate disagreement concerning the meaning and application of the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause:

First and foremost, what standard should the Court use in deciding whether a punishment is unconstitutionally cruel?  Should it look to the standards of 1791, when the Eighth Amendment was adopted? Should it look to contemporary public opinion?  Should it exercise its own moral judgment, irrespective of whether it is supported by societal consensus? Should it look to some other standard?

Second, does the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause only prohibit barbaric methods of punishment, or does it also prohibit punishments that are disproportionate to the offense? For example, would it violate the Eighth Amendment to impose a life sentence for a parking violation?

Third, does the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause prohibit the death penalty? Many argue that capital punishment fails to advance any public good, that it is of a past era, and it should be eliminated. Proponents of the death penalty argue that some people have committed such atrocious crimes that they deserve death, and that the death penalty may deter others from committing atrocious crimes. They also point out that the punishment is authorized in a majority of states, and public opinion polls continue to show broad support for it.

Finally, are some modern methods of punishment – such as the extended use of solitary confinement, or the use of a three-drug “cocktail” to execute offenders – sufficiently “barbaric” to violate the Eighth Amendment?

The Fourth Amendment

18 May

The Fourth Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Imagine you’re driving a car, and a police officer spots you and pulls you over for speeding. He orders you out of the car. Maybe he wants to place you under arrest. Or maybe he wants to search your car for evidence of a crime. Can the officer do that? 

The Fourth Amendment is the part of the Constitution that gives the answer. According to the Fourth Amendment, the people have a right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” This right limits the power of the police to seize and search people, their property, and their homes. 

The Fourth Amendment has been debated frequently during the last several years, as police and intelligence agencies in the United States have engaged in a number of controversial activities. The federal government has conducted bulk collection of Americans’ telephone and Internet connections as part of the War on Terror. Many municipal police forces have engaged in aggressive use of “stop and frisk.” There have been a number of highly-publicized police-citizen encounters in which the police ended up shooting a civilian. There is also concern about the use of aerial surveillance, whether by piloted aircraft or drones.

The application of the Fourth Amendment to all these activities would have surprised those who drafted it, and not only because they could not imagine the modern technologies like the Internet and drones. They also were not familiar with organized police forces like we have today. Policing in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries was a responsibility of the citizenry, which participated in “night watches.” Other than that, there was only a loose collection of sheriffs and constables, who lacked the tools to maintain order as the police do today. 

The primary concerns of the generation that ratified the Fourth Amendment were “general warrants” and “writs of assistance.” Famous incidents on both sides of the Atlantic gave rise to placing the Fourth Amendment in the Constitution. In Britain, the Crown employed “general warrants” to go after political enemies, leading to the famous decisions in Wilkes v. Wood (1763) and Entick v. Carrington (1765). General warrants allowed the Crown’s messengers to search without any cause to believe someone had committed an offense. In those cases the judges decided that such warrants violated English common law. In the colonies the Crown used the writs of assistance—like general warrants, but often unbounded by time restraints—to search for goods on which taxes had not been paid. James Otis challenged the writs in a Boston court; though he lost, some such as John Adams attribute this legal battle as the spark that led to the Revolution. Both controversies led to the famous notion that a person’s home is their castle, not easily invaded by the government.

Today the Fourth Amendment is understood as placing restraints on the government any time it detains (seizes) or searches a person or property. The Fourth Amendment also provides that “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.” The idea is that to avoid the evils of general warrants, each search or seizure should be cleared in advance by a judge, and that to get a warrant the government must show “probable cause”—a certain level of suspicion of criminal activity—to justify the search or seizure. 

To the extent that a warrant is required in theory before police can search, there are so many exceptions that in practice warrants rarely are obtained. Police can search automobiles without warrants, they can detain people on the street without them, and they can always search or seize in an emergency without going to a judge.

The way that the Fourth Amendment most commonly is put into practice is in criminal proceedings. The Supreme Court decided in the mid-twentieth century that if the police seize evidence as part of an illegal search, the evidence cannot be admitted into court. This is called the “exclusionary rule.” It is controversial because in most cases evidence is being tossed out even though it shows the person is guilty and, as a result of the police conduct, they might avoid conviction. “The criminal is to go free because the constable has blundered,” declared Benjamin Cardozo (a famous judge and ultimately Supreme Court justice). But, responded another Supreme Court justice, Louis Brandeis, “If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law.”

One of the difficult questions today is what constitutes a “search”? If the police standing in Times Square in New York watched a person planting a bomb in plain daylight, we would not think they needed a warrant or any cause. But what about installing closed circuit TV cameras on poles, or flying drones over backyards, or gathering evidence that you have given to a third party such as an Internet provider or a banker?

Another hard question is when a search is acceptable when the government has no suspicion that a person has done something wrong. Lest the answer seem to be “never,” think of airport security. Surely it is okay for the government to screen people getting on airplanes, yet the idea is as much to deter people from bringing weapons as it is to catch them—there is no “cause,” probable or otherwise, to think anyone has done anything wrong. This is the same sort of issue with bulk data collection, and possibly with gathering biometric information.

What should be clear by now is that advancing technology and the many threats that face society add up to a brew in which the Fourth Amendment will continue to play a central role. 

This is a very detailed explanation of The Fourth Amendment because it is the most abused by law enforcement today. With the provisions of the USA Patriot Act and The USA Freedom Act passed late last year, law enforcement has discovered new ways to violate your Fourth Amendment rights .