Letters for March 1, 2018

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‘Well-regulated militia’ moot for more than a century

The 2nd Amendment is complete and utter nonsense; a worse-than-useless anachronism dating from a time when we were a confederation of states, there was no standing army, and the standard infantry weapon was a muzzle-loading smooth-bore .72 cal. flintlock musket that could be fired four times a minute with a range of 50 to 75 yards. We’re now a nuclear-armed republic with the largest military in the world and an empire that spans the globe; the sole raison d’être of the 2nd Amendment; to maintain “a well-regulated militia,” has been completely moot for over 100 years.

Since 1968, more Americans have been shot to death domestically than in all of America’s wars combined. To attempt to justify such carnage based upon a legislative fossil which should’ve been repealed when high-button shoes and buggy whips went out of fashion is nothing short of obscene. The 2nd Amendment wasn’t brought down the slopes of Mount Sinai by Moses, inscribed on tablets of stone; we wrote it, and we can erase it. We’ve amended the Constitution 27 times. It’s well past time to do it again, get over our infantile “wild west” mentality, repeal the 2nd Amendment, and start regulating ownership of lethal weapons just like every other civilized nation on Earth.

Emmet Bondurant – Franklin, N.C.

Is it gun control or another agenda?

The call to increase government regulation on gun purchases is ignoring the results of such experiments. The results of government-meditated gun control, like many government edicts, are often opposite to advertised objectives.

Again we witness a mass shooting by a criminal in a gun free zone. Again we witness the call for more of the failed policies of gun ownership regulation. The ability of a criminal to execute such crimes may be the result the gun restrictions on citizens. The law-abiding citizens are disarmed which only emboldens the criminal. Perhaps there is a political agenda hidden from the public. Perhaps those in political power want to expand their power. As the Founders suggested, those politicians can do this only with a disarmed citizenry. These politicians employ armed guards. Why do they want to remove the citizen’s protection?

Cities with tight regulating have higher gun crime than cities with less regulation or with areas with gun ownership required. Knives and clubs account for much greater crime than guns. Why not regulate knives?

Trump seems to want to solve the real problem of citizens in danger rather than blindly offering more of the same type of failed policies. Yet, he is opposed. Is there any other attempt to increase citizen security? Do politicians calling for reducing citizen gun ownership have another agenda?

 

John C. Hodge – Franklin, N.C.

If I had a school …

What is all this talk about appealing to Congress to stop mass-shootings? Why? Why not do something that addresses the issue? What can Congress do? Is it a national problem? If there is a national law that is causing the problem or hampering a solution, Congress should repeal it. We should appeal to Congress not now to pass any law that strengthens the criminal relative to the rest of us, or that otherwise hampers a solution.

But I do not think it is a national problem. As far as I know, every single shooter, acted on his own. There was no national cause. It is a local problem. The solution is with local communities.

One fellow has said “Lobby Congress to limit magazines to four or six rounds.” And when the criminal comes through the door with his 30-round magazine, I am, or the school teacher is, supposed to stop him with our four or six round magazine.  The fellow who proposed this law will win the Lobbyist of the Year Award from the criminal element.

Another fellow has said “Lobby Congress to outlaw semi-automatic rifles.”  And when the criminal comes through the door with his AR-15 rifle, I, or the school teacher, will meet him with our four or six round, bolt-action hunting rifle.  This fellow will win the Lobbyist of the Decade Award from the criminal element and likely a big cash prize to accompany it.

In my school, had I one, every adult on staff, teacher, janitor, whatever, would be asked if he is willing to take an NRA Marksmanship and Gun Safety Course and then get a state concealed carry permit.  Those who said “yes” would be encouraged to do so and encouraged to carry a concealed weapon when on duty and given their own personal keys to the gun cabinet in the principal’s office, which would contain a number of AR-15 rifles with 30-round magazines.  That is how my school, had I a school, would meet this problem.

Had I a school, that action would have been taken years ago. Maybe the problem of continuing school mass shootings is a government problem­­ – government ownership of schools.  It takes government a long time to solve problems. Mostly, governments don’t solve problems.  Maybe schools should be privatized so that this problem can be fixed.

Oh, and the teachers who have playground duty and school-bus arrival and departure duty at my school, had I a school, would be armed with AR-15 rifles and 30-round magazines.

George Crockett – Franklin, N.C.

Proposed cuts of Entitlement Reform ‘not good’

What is the proper role of government?  This is a key question that we must address in the upcoming elections.

Social Security, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act are all in danger of being cut depending on the outcomes of 2018 elections. The current administration in Congress and the White House are proposing cuts to all of these programs which were enacted by the government to protect vulnerable citizens because the private sector could not, or would not, fix the problems.

Social Security was enacted following the Great Depression in the 1930s and was designed to provide a base income for the elderly whose savings had been wiped out. Most likely, unless they were wealthy, their family had also been wiped out.  Unfortunately, Social Security is the sole source of income for many citizens.

Medicare was established in the 1965 due to increasing life expectancy and absence of affordable insurance for retirees. This program now provides insurance coverage for everyone over 65 in WNC. Medicaid provides medical coverage for about 6,000 residents in Macon County — largely women and children.

The Affordable Care Act provides affordable medical insurance for those who are privately employed or who whose employers did not provide group medical insurance. Prior to this insurance medical costs were the leading cause of bankruptcy during the last Recession.

What happens to the Macon population and economy if Social Security is cut?  Will Mission build a new hospital in Franklin if the insurance that covers 70% of its patients is cut?  The answers to both questions are not good.

The cuts to Social Security and Medicare are part of the Republican “Entitlement Reform” agenda. These programs are not “entitlements” but earned benefits. Look at your paycheck. You have paid for these benefits every pay period that you have worked.

Your vote does matter.  Ask the candidates about their positions on Social Security, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act.  If you disagree with their answers, don’t vote for them.

 

John Gladden – Franklin, N.C.

Jackson NAACP clarifies position on monuments

The Jackson County, North Carolina Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) wishes to communicate its position regarding the existence of monuments that glorify the cause of the Confederacy, white supremacy, and the soldiers who fought in the Civil War.

While we accept these monuments as a partial representation of the history of that era, they embody only one point of view. To tell the whole story, monuments to other historical experiences of that period and today must be created.

All those who fought deserve our respect for the sacrifices they made, whether they volunteered or were drafted, regardless of which side they joined during the Civil War.

Historical monuments in public places, other than in museums, should not include symbols of racial hatred such as Confederate flags, as they represent white supremacy, slavery, racial oppression, and secession from the United States.

A courthouse should be an inherent symbol of justice, applicable to all citizens; therefore, it is appropriate to construct additional monuments, statues, and/or plaques at or near the same location as the current Confederate monuments, to provide recognition of all the people of this region and their descendants.

This includes, but is not limited to, those

– who were enslaved, lynched, or otherwise terrorized,

– who were African Americans and fought in every American war,

– who were impoverished because of depressed wages in a slave economy,

– who were women and children that experienced hunger, poverty, and depredation without the labor and protection of the men who fought,

– who were white Southerners from Western North Carolina who fought in the Union Army during the Civil War,

– who were abolitionists aiding the Underground Railroad,

– who were activists against Jim Crow laws and fought for civil rights,

– who were displaced by European settlers,

– and who were champions for liberty, justice, equality, and dignity in Western North Carolina.

We seek to correct the inaccurate depictions of regional history that honor only those who promoted white supremacy.

Our community and elected leaders have an obligation to correct these omissions with public monuments honoring the efforts and sacrifices of the previously mentioned groups, thus providing a more complete and accurate portrait of the history and heritage of the people of Western North Carolina.

 

Dan Kowal  – Communications Chair

Jackson County NAACP, Chapter 54 AB

Historical note: According to historian Michael C. Hardy, the population of Macon County was 6,004, including 519 slaves and 115 free persons of color in 1860.  In February 1861, local men cast 250 votes for secession, and 259 votes against.

Macon County went on to send 1,267 men to Confederate service, while 22 men served in the Union army. Thomas’s Legion of Cherokee and white soldiers was created in Franklin on the Confederate side as well.

By the end of the War, 201 men had died in Confederate service.

Truth is stranger than fiction.  We need to learn from it.

Moving forward, we are all God’s creation, and we should act accordingly. – Dan Kowal

No single solution to the problem

President Trump held a meeting of concerned people at the White House demanding that something be done about school shootings such as we saw in Parkland, Fla.

Some were victims, witnesses or relatives of the murdered kids which represented a pretty good cross section of thoughts. The meeting was to get ideas and input so that President Trump can come up with a plan to push through.

President Trump made several different suggestions, based on what those in the group were coming up with.

The thing which impressed me the most was when he pointed out our schools are “gun free zones.”  In fact, this hit me in the face.  Sure, being a gun free zone is an invitation to some nut-case to come in and start shooting.

Why in heck would we advertise there is no one to protect our kids?

This seems idiotic and is typical of Left Wing thinking which got all 17 kids killed in Parkland, Fla.

One must wonder if there had been armed teachers and big signs outside that said something like “we will shoot back” instead of advertising we are unarmed so come on in and shoot.

Surely if a nut-case knew there were armed teachers in the school he would likely find some softer targets to go after.

Arming at least some teachers might be a good idea although there is a great deal of resistance to the idea from the Democrats.

Eliminating guns is not going to solve the problem and not practical.  There has to be a better way. Besides, the bad guys would use bombs instead of guns or some other method to get even with what they view as a world which left them behind.

In net, it looks like the reality is President Trump’s idea of arming teachers and doing away with “gun free zones” might just be one good answer.

And surely if bad guys knew some teachers were armed they would change their mind, after all, they are cowards in the first place.

Better background checks along with a better system for following up on them along with perhaps a few other ideas might work as well.

One other idea put forth was to let retired military people volunteer their time to protect our kids.

Obviously, there is no single solution to the problem.

One final thought.  Most, if not all, of these shootings are done by copycats and if the media didn’t glamorize these incidents and it wasn’t broadcast for nut-cases to see, maybe they wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

 

Bob Wilson – Franklin, N.C.

Investigation is a crime waiting to happen

Keeping up with the dueling narratives coming out of Washington these days has become almost a full time job.  To try to get a better grip on things, I recently spent a couple of days googling in every name connected to the investigations, visiting as many competing websites as I could, and taking extensive notes to see if I could construct a narrative that made sense to me personally. It may not satisfy anyone else, but here’s part of what I came up with.

Cristian Farias of NYmag.com, a solid Never-Trumper, made a candid observation last Sept. 24.  He wrote that an insider familiar with the Robert Mueller inquiry and past federal probes said this one felt different from all the rest, and he quoted him: “This is a backward investigation.  You don’t have a crime.  You’re searching.  And so you’re not really sure what you’re searching for.  So you start asking around and you see what comes up. And figure out at some point whether or not there’s a crime.”  Farias than discussed various blunders committed by Trump’s team and said that “all are fair game for Mueller, whose mandate includes not just Russian interference, but also ‘any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation,’ plus the prosecution of any federal crimes he deems ‘necessary and appropriate.’  His powers are inherently broad.”  Mueller, wrote Farias on Dec. 1, “is only getting started.”

Many Republicans have grown infuriated by this loosey-goosey character of the Mueller probe, because they feel that in the interim they have assembled a rock-solid case of grave malfeasance by senior officials in the outgoing Obama administration.  This has led their pundits, like Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist, to insist (Jan. 24), “It is long past time for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a special counsel to investigate the possibility of widespread and systematic corruption, obstruction, leaking, and collusion within America’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies.  The leadership of the FBI and Department of Justice have made clear, through their ongoing obstruction of congressional investigations and oversight, that these agencies simply cannot be trusted to investigate or police themselves.”  This level of frustration with Sessions led our own congressman, Mark Meadows, to suggest recently that he be replaced.

The single largest instigator of the investigation into possible Trump-Russian collusion was the discredited “Steele dossier,” which, far from just accusing Trump of salacious behavior in a Moscow hotel, actually made six different major claims about his ties to Russia that “haven’t been borne out by any subsequent reporting or investigation that we know of,” according to a very even-handed analysis by vox.com (2-2-18).

The Steele dossier was funded by $12 million from the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.  This was fully known by the FBI when they relied upon it (according to Andrew McCabe) to obtain an original FISA warrant and three extensions for surveilling the Trump campaign. Yet when James Comey and his associates went before the FISA Court multiple times they withheld this and a huge amount of other highly pertinent information. Later, on March 20, 2017, Comey admitted before Congress that the counterintellingence operation formally launched against the Trump campaign in July 2016 had never been reported to the eight members of Congress designated by law to have oversight.  Comey passed the buck for this serious omission downward to his assistant Bill Priestap, who some speculate has subsequently become the “Deep Throat” in what they are calling “Obamagate.”

Former Assistant Director of the FBI James Kallstrom maintains that Robert Mueller had a “huge conflict of interest” and “should have recused himself” from the Russian investigation.  Among other things, many regard him as James Comey’s best friend.

William Binney, former technical director at the National Security Agency, says a 99-page memorandum from the FISA Court recently uploaded onto a government website clearly proves that “many people in the FBI have lied under oath,” including Comey.

And that, friends, is about 1% of what Jeff Sessions has on his plate right now.

 

Patrick Wallace – Franklin, N.C.

Time to speak up about moral degradation

In my last letter I talked about Freedom of Speech. I want to say I am proud of some of my fellow Americans who wrote the letters in last week’s paper. It makes my heart glad to see other perspectives share.

The time is now folks to speak up about matters that are close to our hearts, to remember that we each have a responsibility to our faith, and the freedom of America. An issue that I feel to write about is the root of the ever growing moral degradation happening in our country. The problem is that this generation is being taught that “Freedom” is something that it isn’t, and that “love” is something that it isn’t.

Freedom means acting on Truth. Without Truth there isn’t freedom, only bondage to a false ideal. And without truth there isn’t love, only a fake substitute that looks delightful on the outside, but has a chalky unnatural texture on the inside. Rebellion starts to look a lot like freedom, and lust starts to look a lot like love, with the right packaging.

Young people are being taught that “old fashioned” means “un-enlightened” and that respect is something that is earned by giving hand outs. Women are forsaking the privileges of motherhood, femininity, grace; and men are surrendering the ambitions to protect, lead, and serve. The institute of marriage is disgraced by same sex unions, children are giving up the desire to live, teenagers are losing the ability to communicate, maniacs are shooting people, and division is feed by the media. We live in a confused world that needs real answers.

If we don’t start speaking truth and hope and I don’t mean a few of us, I mean many of us, all at once; we’re going to lose the beauty of human life as we know it in our country. I do not say this lightly, I say this with full conviction, and urgency. Because people are losing sight of what it means to thrive, and we are only medicating the symptoms, not offering healing to hearts.

Now is the time to share with our world what love really looks like, what truth really tastes like, and freedom really means so they don’t fall for the substitutes. Now is the time to protect the innocent, defend the righteous, and study history. Now is the time to invest in our youth, and to believe in something bigger than ourselves.

As people grow further and further away from the foundation of faith, they fall further and further away from everything good, moral, and true. There is no love without God. There is no peace without holiness. There is no unity without repentance.

The fruits of what we see; sexual confusion, murder, anger, people losing their ability to communicate…is a direct result of what happens when a country turns away from the foundation for blessing, (which is God) and turns to other things to fill the emptiness inside. What happens when we forget God is we lose hope and respect for the beauty of humanity in and around us. Our identities are closely tied with the way we see our Creator.

God made us in His image and He created us whole. God made the man to leave his parents and cling to his wife, and the two become one flesh.  Marriage is holy and sacred, because it points to something greater, just as all creation does and is made to does… it points to the big story of God. We are his bride, and He is our Groom. One day He will return for His church (all who believe and follow Him). This is why it is so important that we don’t forget who we are, and who made us, because when we do we walk out of our perfect story and purpose. We must take responsibility for this next generation and the future of our country and align our hearts and words to make an impact.

We cannot let the false morality that is being preached become acceptable and normal. We have to expose the darkness with the light. People are being taught that there are no absolutes, that we are defined by our lusts, and that we come from a lower life form and have no purpose and hope. They are taught that man is wicked, and yet man is god. They are taught that theories like evolution are facts. It’s a sad story, and we wonder why we see shootings…but this is all because no one has become the change.

If you believe in making America great again, or care about souls, stop looking at everything that happens around you as disconnected to your personal life. The people around you matter, the people you don’t see, matter. Start planting seeds of hope and truth today. Freedom comes from the inside out. Let’s start focusing on what freedom really means.

“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

 

Leona Joy – Franklin, N.C.

More counselors are needed in N.C. schools

I was in the process of writing about the need for school nurses when the Parkland school shooting happened on Valentine’s Day. As the president of the North Carolina Parent Teacher Association and an educator, I know that we have too few nurses per students—leaving many schools with a nurse one day a week or less and with teachers and administrators needing to respond to health emergencies and manage the daily needs of our children’s many chronic health needs. Each school nurse in the state serves an average of 1,112 students, serving far more students than the federally recommended ratio of one nurse per 750 students.

We need more school nurses and it is a worthwhile investment, but after the school shooting in Florida, we must also revisit our need for school counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers. We have one school counselor for every 375 students; this is 50% more than the recommended ratio of one counselor for every 250 students. The nationally recommended ratio for school psychologists is one for every 700 students. Currently, the North Carolina ratio is one for every 2,100 students—each one is serving three times as many students as is recommended for comprehensive services. There are also far too few school social workers serving far too many students: the state average is one school social worker for every 1,719 students, nearly five times the national recommendation of one for every 250 students.

When there are not enough nurses, counselors, psychologists, and social workers in our schools, teachers and principals inevitably fill those roles to the best of their abilities. They are not professionals in these areas, and time spent providing these ancillary services is time not spent teaching our children and preparing them to be curious and innovative forces in our state’s future. Without enough nurses, counselors, psychologists, and social workers in our schools, there are simply not enough professionals keeping our students healthy and safe.

NCPTA is the state’s oldest and largest volunteer organization advocating for the education, health, safety and success of all children and youth while building strong families and communities. As we discuss class sizes and school safety, let’s discuss the role of these professions in allowing educators to teach, students to learn, and schools to be safe. As we discuss what successful schools, strong families, and healthy communities look like, let’s discuss fully funding and staffing these important jobs in our schools. Our children deserve it.

 

Virginia Jicha

President, North Carolina PTA

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