Monday, June 05, 2023

Utah School District Bans the Bible for “Vulgarity” and “Violence”

by Rod Williams, June 5, 2023- Yes, a Utah school district banned the Bible due to vulgarity and violence. You can read more about it here or from any number of other sources. While I don't want school districts carrying pornographic books or books that promote racial hatred or normalize and promote sexual deviancy, any criteria that prohibits school libraries from carrying books that address certain topics may have consequences that one does not anticipate.  My view is that only the most offensive of books should be banned. Actually, I am not sure that there is that much a problem with school libraries carrying offensive books. If there is, then wise people need to be careful in designing criteria to determine what books are forbidden. 

While on the topic, I do not think "banning" is a useful term when a library chooses to not carry a book.  No library can carry every book. Choices must be made as to which books a library will stock.  Choosing one book rather than another is not "banning."  Nevertheless, choosing to remove a book that is already in a library because some find it offensive is a process that needs careful deliberation. Removing a book should not be an easy process. 

I have previously addressed this issue in the below post:

This obscene book in in every library and school in America

by Rod Williams - If there was a book in school libraries that included stories of polygamy, adultery, seduction, lust, fornication, masturbation, prostitution, pedophilia, ritual genital mutilation, castration, abortion, homosexuality, bestiality, rape, gang rape, incest, teen pregnancy, cannibalism, murder, genocide, witchcraft, torture, suicide, human sacrifice, nudity,  drunkenness, voyeurism, blasphemy, bribery, corruption, eating excrement, drinking urine, and a bunch of other bad stuff, should that book be removed?

Let me give you an example of what is in this book. Here is an excerpt:

She lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose semen was like that of horses (1)

This book was written in a foreign language and the above is the way one translator translated it, another translation says simply, "and lusted after their lovers, whose sexual members were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of stallions." 

If the book is not to be removed from the library, should it be available only to age-appropriate students?  What would be that age?  Should it be on any required reading list? 

If you haven't guessed by now, the book I am referring to is the Holy Bible.

I recognize that there are books being assigned to some school children which may be obscene or pursue a Critical Race Theory agenda to lead impressionable kids to a certain view of their nation and their racial identity. 

I recognize that since a library cannot carry every book published there has to be some system to determine what is placed on library shelves. To select one book and not another is not "banning" or "censorship."  

I believe books should be age-appropriate but not all children mature at the same rate and age-appropriate is not something easy to determine.

I recognize that there is a difference between a book being on a library shelf and being on a required reading list. I am less concerned about what is available than what is required reading.

I am concerned about the mix of reading material.  I don't want to hide the blemishes in American history.  Children should not be shielded from learning about slavery, the history of settling the nation and the conflicts with indigenous people, Indian removal and the Trail of Tears, Jim Crow, the internment of Japanese in WWII and other unsavory historical events that happened. However, the blemishes should be in context. The unsavory parts of our history should not be the main course.  I want children to receive an education that makes them proud to be American.

I am supportive of parents who want to ensure that what is taught in their classroom is no offensive to community values or undermind the parent's values. However, I recognize that community values is hard to determine and parents' values differ. 

I do not trust the teacher's unions or the educational establishment to determine what should be taught in public schools. The public that funds public education should have a say in what is taught in schools. 

Given all of that, however, I think back about my own family background and ask myself if I would have wanted my father to be the one determining what children read, and to what they were exposed in public schools. My father was a good man and very religious. We were raised to believe dice and cards, alcohol consumption, mixed swimming, going to the movies, and dancing were sinful.  If my dad would have been picking the books in the school library or on a reading list, books that included these elements would have been banned. Also, the theory of evolution would not have been taught or made available. Art books with nude pictures or pictures of classical nude statuary would have been banned. I would not have wanted my father to pick the library books. On the other hand, however, I have some woke, politically correct, progressive siblings and I certainly would not want them picking the books or compiling the reading list. 

In some progressive communities books that celebrate the founding fathers who owned slaves have been removed from reading lists and libraries and books that are deemed racially insensitive such as Tom Sawyer or To Kill a Mockingbird have been removed. Also, there has been a tendency to feature fewer classics by "dead white males" for a more diverse reading list. There has been a dumbing down of materials. 

So, what is to be done?  I don't know. It is complicated. I am glad groups like Moms for Liberty are shining a light on what is being taught in our schools and what books are in the school libraries. I am glad our state legislature is paying attention. At the same time, we must not go too far. We don't need to get hysterical over every description of indecency or obscenity or every use of a "bad" word.  We do not want the most narrow-minded nor the most progressive to set the rules or pick the books.  It is complicated.

So, back to my question at the top of this page, should the obscene book described, be removed? 

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The Fiscal Responsibility Act Builds Momentum on Needed Deficit Reduction

From Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, JUN 5, 2023 - The President signed the Fiscal Responsibility Act on June 3rd, legislation to suspend the debt ceiling, limit discretionary spending, and generate $1 to $2 trillion of deficit reduction. The bill passed with the support of 314 members of the House and 63 members of the Senate – gaining more total votes than any major deficit reduction bill in the last quarter century.

The following is a statement from Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget:

The Committee for Responsible Federal Budget applauds enactment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, and encourages Congress to build on the momentum of the deal to address the root causes of our unsustainable debt.

The FRA will both avoid default and generate desperately-needed budget savings. And importantly, it did so through bipartisan compromise, demonstrating that the parties can work together for the common good.

The FRA is the largest deficit reduction bill in well over a decade, and it passed with support from both parties.

Given the huge fiscal hole we are in, it isn’t likely that any one package would be able to fix the situation entirely. It would take $8 trillion in savings merely to stabilize the debt relative to the economy over the next decade. The FRA is likely to generate at least $1 trillion in savings, and could save as much as twice that if appropriators take its targets seriously. That’s a very good starting point; now more work will be needed.

Policymakers should pivot to focus on larger structural reforms. They need to address all areas of the budget, slow health care cost growth, and prevent the impending insolvency of Social Security and Medicare. And they need to go after tax breaks and put revenue on the table, as there is no way to fix this problem on the spending side alone.

Lawmakers should also reform the budget process, which is clearly a total disaster – as illustrated by the fact that neither of the Budget Committees have yet to put forth budgets and that Congress has failed to pass a budget on time for 20 years now. And they should reform the debt ceiling so that it works to prevent unnecessary borrowing rather than stopping the government from paying its bills.

A bipartisan fiscal commission is likely the best way to achieve these goals. These types of commissions don’t replace the need for political will, but they give the parties a helpful venue to negotiate in good faith.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget congratulates Congress and the President for passing the Fiscal Responsibility Act and encourages them to build on the success by enacting additional deficit reduction and establishing a comprehensive and bipartisan fiscal commission.

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Take a break. Let me show you my yard.

by Rod Williams, June 4, 2023- I have enjoyed working in the yard this spring. This year is the most time ever I have had to spend doing so.  Last year for the most part was spend recovering from a couple ailments and I did not have the energy to do much yard work. Before that I was working and also caring for my ill wife. I love working in the yard and gardening. I have been spending about four to five hours a day about five days a week doing so. 

Primrose is past its prime
but it was beautiful.
My yard is not the well-kept manicured lawn that a lot of people prefer. I guess you might call it an English Cottage Garden.  I don't mow. I don't own a lawnmower. I am probably in violation of codes for an overgrown yard. I weed eat a little and what is not flowers is covered in  ground cover, mostly the big variety of Vinca with the small blue flower.  The yard has a wild unkept look. You have to work hard to make a yard look this unkept.

I cultivate some plants that most people would consider weeds.  My view of flowers is, if you like it is a flower; if not, it is a weed.  I purposely grow Pokeweed. I like the large green leaves, the white flower, the purple stems and the dark berries in the fall. 

I also don't cut down Fleabane. Lots of people do, but I like it. It is a pretty little flower and blooms a long time. If you are not familiar with it, the bloom is like a small daisy on a long steam. In clusters, I find it attractive. If it is in the path of where I weed eat, I relocate it or weed eat around it.  To each his own. 

I find nothing more therapeutic than gardening. When I am hot and sweaty pulling weeds, all I am thinking about is pulling the weeds. And, to hear the bees buzzing and birds chirping and see a new flower burst forth, brings me joy. My yard is different day by day. Working in it, you see the changes. Some flowers only last a few days, like some of the delicate wildflowers like Virginia Blue Bells and if you are not looking at the flowers everyday you miss them. 

These water features also
serve as water for mosquito
The first thing to bloom, as early as December, is the Lenten Rose, then Flowering Quince followed by Daffodils and then Primrose.  The Primrose is very showy. I still have some, but it starting to die out. It is hardy and it will spread rapidly, if you don't mow it down. In the early spring, gone by now, I have a lot of a flower covered in blue blooms called Blue Phacelia. The bees love it. I go out in the morning and the yard just buzzes with the sound of bees. 

Queen Anne's lace
Soon I will have more domestic Lilies, and Gladiolas and then things like Zinnia will bloom. I have two variety of small sunflower type plants that bloom late. The blooms on each are similar. One is called Jeruslem Artichoke and the other is Swamp Sunflower. Unfortunately, the foliage is not very pretty and they grow about six feet tall, so I have to be careful in where I plant them, and they can be too prolific and self-seed or grow from Tubers but I enjoy the late season bright yellow color when everything else as gone drab. They bloom late and will withstand a hard frost. I try to have something blooming all of the time from early spring until late fall. Even in winter I have Pansies. 

 The veggie garden
While I have not grown much in the way of vegetables before this year, this year I have planted a vegetable garden. Last year I planted some vegies like carrots and lettuce and as soon as they would appear a rabbit or a groundhog would eat them.  I like having wildlife, and in fact I purposely have a brush pile to serve as a wildlife habitat, but rabbits and other wildlife will eat your tender young greens. This year I build a fence. We will see if it keeps out the wildlife and if the garden produces. So far, it looks good. I have planted a big variety of vegetables this year: peas, onions, lettuce, kale, Bok choy, squash, zucchini, cucumber, basil, cilantro, parsley and more. I am hoping for a good harvest. I have so far enjoyed some good salads out of the garden. 
 My dear friend Lydia Hubbell found and gave me this
 gate. I think it adds a lot of character to the garden.
This is one of my favorite spots. After 
working in the yard, I love to grab a beer, my pipe 
and a magazine and relax in the hammock.


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Sunday, June 04, 2023

Gov. Lee says the NRA wants “to round up mentally ill people and deprive them of other liberties.”

by Rod Williams, June 4, 2023- As reported in HuffPost, Gov. Bill Lee’s administration has accused the National Rifle Association of wanting to use involuntary commitment laws “to round up mentally ill people and deprive them of other liberties." This is supported by a staffer memo the Huffpost obtained through a Freedom of Information request. 

In the past, Lee has praised the NRA for defending the second amendment and the NRA has praised Lee for his policies. In 2021 Lee advocated a change in the law that allowed anyone over the age of 21 to carry a gun without a permit. The NRA supported the move and praised Lee.

Lee's proposal to explore public safety options following the tragic Covenant School shooting has put him at odds the organization. Lee has proposed a law that would enhance orders of protection and allow guns to be taken away from a person who is a risk to themselves or others. This is similar to what other states call "red flag" laws, but Lee does not call it that. In any event, the NRA is opposed to Lee's proposal.  Lee has called for a special session to consider the proposal and it appears the majority of the legislature opposes a special session. 

The NRA's in opposing Lee's enhanced order of protection proposal and has instead called for "involuntary commitment."  Rather than take a weapon away from a mentally unstable person, the NRA wants to lock them up. 

When I first heard of Lee's proposal, I had reservations that such a law may not provide for due process. It appears from the internal memo that what Lee proposes does. Nevertheless, to deprive another of a fundamental right is a serious matter and once an actual proposed law is drafted it needs to be carefully examined. I support a special session to consider the proposal and with adequate due process safeguards in place and a penalty for malicious misuse of the law, I would support it. 

If I have concerns about the misuse of an enhanced order of protection law, then I have much more concern about a proposal to lock up mentally ill people without their consent. Being deprived of all liberty is worse than being temporarily having your Second Amendment rights suspended. Lee said much the same thing, saying, “Some advocates of the Second Amendment say something called ‘involuntary commitment’ is the answer, but that would restrict all kinds of constitutional rights, including the Second Amendment. It’s not the best way.”

I appreciate Lee's willingness to take on the NRA.  Many gun rights advocates are not just pro Second Amendment but are willing to trample other rights in the name of the Second Amendment.  In recent years this has been illustrated by laws that prohibit a private company from prohibiting their employees from bringing guns onto their employers' property. That is a case of trampling property rights in the name of gun rights and has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. The fetish for gun rights has gone far beyond the Second Amendment. Now, in the name of protecting the Second Amendment, the NRA advocates the locking up of mentally ill people without their consent. It seems the NRA is only concerned with one right and has a distorted view of that one. 

Below are portions of the internal memo regarding the enhanced order of protection. 

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