What Is Religious Freedom?

The Supreme Court has ruled that Maine cannot exclude religious schools from tuition assistance programs. In dissent, Justice Sotomayor said,

“As a result, in just a few years, the Court has upended constitutional doctrine, shifting from a rule that permits states to decline to fund religious organizations to one that requires States in many circumstances to subsidize religious indoctrination with taxpayer dollars.”

I think the majority of Americans, including most “conservatives,” will probably see this shift as a matter of fairness and not get too excited about it, but I am quite upset. It is profound. There are many who sincerely believe that the early settlers intended their new country to be a Christian nation, a notion symbolically supported by the 1954 inclusion of . . . “under God . . .” in the pledge of allegiance and professed by many evangelicals.

The truth is, the early immigrants mostly wanted to be able to pursue only their personal brands of religion without interference, and in some cases that meant the “freedom” to punish, torture and even execute the “heretics” among them. Fortunately, the founders, in their wisdom, understood that many had fled government persecution of their particular faith and knew that “religious freedom” ought to mean a personal freedom to believe whatever they chose.

Noah’s Ark ?

Does this SCOTUS decision mean we are on a slippery slope toward becoming a theocracy? That’s about as likely as a self-promoting, psychopathic, secular, mendacious, philandering, populist businessman being favored by most evangelicals to be president.

Uh, wait . . .

What is the most-religious country in the world? I would have picked Iran, but a YouTube clip of a speech by Christopher Hitchens changed my mind. I would be surprised if you were to guess it. Whatever you might think of his personal views, he was a brilliant thinker and speaker. It is not a short clip, but if you are like me, it is fascinating brain food.

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Good Journalism about Guns

Following up the last post on guns, here is an article from the New Yorker, How Did Guns Get So Powerful. It blew me away with its clarity and research. Herb Van Fleet’s research in the previous post was outstanding for legal perspective. This New Yorker article, as the title says, explains how guns became an integral part of American culture and ties in the technology. Wish I could write so well.

Exerpt:

As the horror in Uvalde unfolded, there were plenty of armed police officers, but there was little willingness to charge in against a barricaded shooter. The police have been called cowards for their hesitancy, but their reaction is unsurprising: despite the often militaristic rhetoric of police unions, the average cop is not going to be ready for a situation most United States marines have never faced. When we arm our citizens with such lethal weapons, we can’t always expect uncommon valor.

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A Cautionary Tale

My neighbor Wayne L. is a stalwart member of our neighborhood-watch group and when he invited me over for a brewski the other day I asked him what he thought about the recent spate of mass-shootings. Now Wane is no shrinking violet and a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, so I knew he would have a strong opinion about it. I, admittedly looking to liven up a rather boring day, wasn’t disappointed. 

“Well Jim,” he said, “you know it’s the same old story. Neither one of them two teachers was packing heat. If you don’t prepare to defend yourself ahead of time, and that means plenty of ammo too, then they are gonna get you before the law can get there.” 

“Uh, who are ‘they’, Wayne? “Why, you know,” he said. “It’s a dog-eat-dog world out here. Our vital juices are under attack from all sides, and what makes it worse is that you can’t trust the libs to protect us. Nine times out ten, the cops are usually out-gunned and are gonna arrive too late to help. 

I told Wayne I was glad he was on our side and not the other. 

“I wouldn’t get too comfortable, Jim. You may not be aware that the danger is getting worse all the time. Bad guys are attacking in mobs now, rioters and illegals alike. Even the feds come in teams, you know. I think it’s about time we expand our thinking about self defense to include more than just guns. You know the 2nd says ‘arms’ and that obviously means more than just guns. Personally, I think it’s time for the PRPG. Made that name up myself,” he said proudly. “It’s the Personal Rocket Propelled Grenade. It would be smaller than the Army version, no need yet to be armor-piercing. Probably not much more expensive than an AR, I’m guessing.” 

“Sounds dangerous,” I said.

“No, Jim, not if you follow NRA guidance. You know, just the basics, tell the family not to stand behind you when you fire and make sure not to shoot, er, fire, at too close a target. The PRPG would fill the range gap when a pickup full of murderous illegals or an SUV full of controlling feds is coming at you full speed. There just wouldn’t be time to pick ‘em off with your trusty AR.” 

“Well, Wayne, I don’t have an AR, but I’ll take your word for it,” I said.

“Wouldn’t be such a problem if the feds hadn’t banned machine guns and even bump-stocks,” he said, “but that’s the libs for you. The libs are running the show now. Only a couple years to go . . .”

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With attribution

This post by Serenity is the best summation of the gun conundrum that I’ve seen.

Serenity is a fuzzy belly

No need to get all fancy with a quill. But please, if you handwrite your letter, it must be legible to sober people who aren’t related to you. And if you send it as an attachment, please make sure it’s not a PDF or image file (though I prefer letters in the body of the message instead of as an attachment). Image found on Times Higher Education.

Occasionally I’ll get a letter from a reader that needs to be answered in a column. Last week, I received this letter from Carolyn Johnson of Little Rock:

According to the guidelines for having a letter published in the Democrat-Gazette, ”Statements of fact are checked for accuracy.” With that in mind, I wish to call to your attention a letter that was published on Saturday, May 21.

While the vast majority of the letter consisted of opinions and voting recommendations made by the…

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Fiscal Responsibility

The Biden administration say they are nearing a decision on student-loan forgiveness, and it looks increasingly likely that the target number will be $10,000 per loan. Democratic leaders (Schumer, Warren) say this would stimulate the economy and relieve many low-income people of crushing debt. While I have supported many progressive initiatives, this is not one of them. The problem I have with it is the issue of fairness, but even more than that, of self-government.

In our family’s case, our childrens’ and grandchildrens’ educations were paid for by work and savings. Student loans are real loans, but differ from others in at least two ways, that they are deferred of payment until after schooling and that they cannot be defaulted through bankruptcy. There are numerous pros and cons that are widely circulated to this issue, but in drilling down on it I have this basic question: can the citizens of a democracy like ours be sufficiently responsible to make important loan decisions like this one?

Fiscal decisions are different from voting decisions in that they affect the decision-maker personally rather than collectively, so there is that. Also, inflation indicates that the economy has already been overstimulated, to me a glaring problem. Am I being too unsympathetic here? Is it a case of an over-protective “nanny state?”

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Today’s lesson

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10 Arguments Against Getting A Covid-19 Vaccine

X has covered the ground very well in this analysis!!

List of X

Joe Biden is getting a COVID-19 vaccine shot into what is obviously a fake arm.

Once again, case counts for Covid-19 are rising, and although vaccines are widely available, a significant number of Americans are still refusing to get vaccinated. Although Biden administration, Tony Fauci, and a bunch of elitist doctors (like, what do they even know about medicining???) are trying to make us get vaccinated, there are plenty of legitimate arguments against getting the shot. Here are just some of them:

1)  “Donald Trump deserves the full credit for Covid-19 vaccines, and everyone knows that anything that Donald Trump deserves the full credit for – like Trump University, Trump casinos, Trump Steaks, Trump Vodka, Trump Presidency, and so on – is complete and utter crap.”

2)  “I am an introvert and I like it when everything is locked down and people stay away 6 feet from each other.”

3) …

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10 Irrefutable Pieces Of Photographic Evidence Proving That Democrats Stole The 2020 Election

THE TRUTH AT LAST!

List of X

With more states certifying their election results, and more losses piling up for Trump’s lawyers (and former NYC mayors pretending to be lawyers) in courts, it becomes more and more obvious that the election is being shamelessly stolen from Donald Trump. The amount of evidence proving voter fraud is staggering, overwhelming, and the evidence is absolutely damning, from graphs showing various suspicious red and blue lines to videos of people carrying some very fishy cardboard boxes somewhere. But this is just what is on the surface – here are 10 more recently uncovered pieces of evidence showing Democrats stealing (or conspiring to steal) the 2020 election from Donald Trump.

Arizona, November 1, 2020: A warplane is dropping packages of fraudulent mail-in ballots all over the vast deserts of Maricopa county. The communist red star on the tail and the number 47 (apparently, for the 47th president) on the cockpit make…

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Maritime Adventures, A Book Review

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 8143) HMS DUKE OF YORK battling against heavy seas and a north easterly gale of 50 to 60 knots, while maintaining her position in the battle squadron during an Arctic convoy to Russia (photographed from the aircraft carrier HMS VICTORIOUS). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205119483

Not all effects of social isolation in the time of COVID are bad. Motivated by ennui and inspired by the news of a new film starring Tom Hanks, courtesy of an article in Military Officer journal, I am halfway through the book on which the film is based, The Good Shepard by C. S. Forester.

As a teenager, I was an avid fan of Forester’s extensive Horatio Hornblower series but I missed this book. Perhaps it’s just as well because familiarity with naval customs, procedures and technology is needed to fully appreciate this story and its gripping depiction of the stresses and peculiar challenges of commanding a ship and a convoy while fighting U-boats in the Atlantic during World War II.

As in his Hornblower series, the protagonist here is both admirable and all too human. With the benefit of having been on the bridges of both surface ships and submarines, I am finding it very easy to visualize the action. I just hope the movie lives up to the promise of the book. Seems to me that Hanks should be perfect for the part. It was previously scheduled to be released in June but has now been postponed pending resolution of the theater business.

I was intrigued by the ability of Forester to so realistically depict this naval yarn because there is no indication in the Amazon book summary or in his Wikipedia page of any naval service in his background. He was an unusual man, one of deserved fame but also controversial. His son wrote an uneven self-published biography of his father depicting him as a “complete liar”. There seems to be no reliable biography extant but I found some satisfying answers in this article from Encyclopedia.com.


Many of my favorite fiction authors have passed on. Is it just me, or has fiction declined in overall quality? In any case I’m now thinking of revisiting Forester’s Hornblower books and some others of his I previously missed. If you, dear reader, have other fictive suggestions, lay ‘em on us.

Posted in History, Movies, Submarines, U.S. Navy, Uncategorized, USN, War | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Coronavirus Clarity

This just in, a hilarious list from CURMUDGEON-AT-LARGE, highly deserving of this REBLOG.

Curmudgeon at Large

Many of you may be confused about the procedures to follow during the coronavirus pandemic.  Thankfully, FOAF (friend of a friend) has mercifully given us the clear, official coronavirus guidelines.

Follow. Them. Exactly.

Coronavirus clarity2

  1. Basically, you can’t leave the house for any reason, but if you have to, then you can.
  2. Masks are useless. But they will protect you. They can save you, no they can’t. They’re useless, but wear one anyway. Now they’re mandatory. Maybe. Or maybe not.
  3. Stores are closed, except for the ones that are open.
  4. You should not go to the hospital unless you have to go there. Stay out of the ER at all costs unless you’re having a medical emergency. Then it’s okay.
  5. This virus is deadly but still not too scary, except that sometimes it actually leads to a global disaster. Stay calm.
  6. There is no shortage of groceries in the supermarket, but there…

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