Tag Archives: patriotism

Paying Taxes Is Not “Patriotic,” Nor is it “Voluntary”

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Six years ago Vice President Joe Biden said that paying taxes is patriotic. Citing the need for the wealthy to pay more of their “share” of taxes, he said it was, “time to be patriotic,” even though the top 20% of wage-earners pay 93% of federal income taxes. The latest iteration of the “paying taxes is patriotic” meme came last month when Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden calling for a “new sense of economic patriotism.” The payment of taxes by a citizenry in a free society is not inherently patriotic, but such statements are not unexpected from those who conflate emotion with logic.

jack-lew-611x442The context of Secretary Lew’s letter is important, however. Dozens of American companies have made acquisitions or merged with other companies based in the United Kingdom, or more advantageously, Ireland, in order to circumvent the U.S. confiscatory 35% corporate tax rate, which is currently the highest in the world. By basing operations in Ireland, these newly migrated companies pay a relatively paltry flat 12.5% tax on profits. Nine of the top ten global pharmaceutical companies now have operations in Ireland, and some of the largest technology companies, including Google, Twitter, and Facebook, do as well.

The process is called inversion, and here’s how it works economically. A company acquires or merges with a company in Ireland (or Britain, Switzerland, or the Netherlands) and re-domiciles there for the cash savings from U.S. tax rates. The company then lends cash back to the U.S. creating tax-deductible interest payments to benefit American operations. And in the more elaborate variation, interest costs and royalty payments made to Dutch subsidiaries reduce the tax bill in Ireland to 6%. Royalties and interest payments are then funneled to Bermuda, which then cuts the tax in Ireland to zero since Ireland views it as a “Bermuda resident.” This creates a veritable “cash mountain,” as the UK’s Financial Times refers to it, allowing the newly reorganized Irish company to pay nothing in taxes. The Financial Times estimates the “cash mountain” built up through such inversions to be as high as $1 trillion.

The absurdity of our 35% nominal corporate tax rate is magnified when we realize that the $1 trillion sitting overseas is worth a paltry $16 billion in tax revenue to the treasury, as Secretary Lew said on CNBC last month. In other words, to save $16 billion in federal corporate taxes, formerly U.S. based companies have relocated $1 trillion in cash, and all of the economic activity, including jobs and manufacturing, that a trillion dollars of cash (M1) velocity can generate. Our inordinately high tax rates have exceeded the point of diminishing return.

corporate-tax-rate-600The reason the tax revenue can be so low as Lew’s estimate is because the average corporate effective rate is about 12% after deductions. Our tax code has become so porous through crony-capitalism that a company the size of General Electric with sales of over $120 billion, and net profit of $14 billion, could file a 57,000-page tax return for 2010 and pay no corporate income taxes. Our sieve-like tax code hemorrhages tax receipts to the U.S. Treasury.

It’s nothing short of duplicity for the administration to call for “patriotism” from entities they have been arguing are not people, and should not be afforded freedom of speech or freedom of religion rights. They have bemoaned the Citizen’s United case in which the Supreme Court ruled corporations have free speech rights, and the Hobby Lobby ruling affirming corporate freedom of religion, yet they claim such companies can have patriotism, which is an emotion and a trait that can’t be felt or manifest by inanimate objects or organizations. For logical consistency, they can’t have it both ways.

Even though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid claimed a few years ago that paying taxes is “voluntary,” our taxes are collected from us based on principles of coercion. We pay our taxes under legal threat of fines and penalties, which could include jail time. Companies withhold a percentage of our income as a payroll deduction under threat of fines and penalties. This is also why paying taxes to “share the wealth” is not an act of magnanimity either, for coercion can never be mistaken for giving freely of our substance.

BstMy4OIEAAiQ_m.png-largeThe claim that paying taxes is patriotic is prima facie specious, even if some of the benefits from paying taxes are beneficial to us personally, for tax collection is facilitated by the threat of penalty, which is coercive. As such, it much more closely resembles extortion than patriotism. In a legal context, extortion refers to how the funds are expropriated, not in how they are appropriated. Extortion is forced, while patriotism is clearly voluntary. And since patriotism is attitudinal, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with harboring such sentiments whilst paying.

Taxes are an essential component to facilitate the operations of prudent and constitutional governance. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.” However, when tax code incentivizes the relocation of America’s engines of economic growth, its effect is deleterious to the nation. And taxation for reallocation is clearly immoral for our founders formed our system of governance to preclude the possibility of our government doing what would be illegal for an individual citizen to do.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Ron Wyden is correct to not take the band aid approach to closing the inversion loophole. His preference is to overhaul the corporate tax structure which currently incentivizes U.S. corporations to relocate headquarters and manufacturing elsewhere in the global marketplace.

The most efficacious means of repatriating that $1 trillion sitting in overseas banks would be to shred the entire corporate tax code and go to a flat corporate tax rate. That additional trillion dollars in monetary velocity could make a significant contribution to GDP expansion, as well as augmenting U.S. tax receipts.

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

Of Freedom, Patriotism, and American Exceptionalism

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flag2“Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” Those lines from our National Anthem reflect what has been felt by most Americans over the years; that this country is the land of the free, and precisely because of those who are brave.

There has historically been a sense of pride in the level of freedom and liberty afforded Americans; a time when our National Anthem reflected a grateful people who lived in relative freedom from government coercion and tyranny. And as a people, we were proud of our heritage of liberty. But two new polls reflect a drastic change in how we view our freedom, and our pride in being Americans. There is perhaps no better time, than the celebration of our Independence Day, to reflect on what it means to be an American.

Just eight years ago, when Americans were asked in a Gallup poll how they felt about their individual liberty, 92% were satisfied, and felt they were living the American dream of optimal personal freedom. At the time, that was enough to earn the United States of America the top ranking, globally, in personal freedom. In just a few short years, Americans have responded to the same question in ways that reflects the diminution of liberty that comes from expansive government intrusion and a floundering economy that severely restricts economic freedom. We now rank #36 in the world, according to Gallup this week.

We were not the only nation to experience such a precipitous drop in our sense of freedom. Other countries that experienced comparable declines were Egypt, Greece, Italy, Venezuela, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Romania, Yemen, Pakistan, and Spain.

Certainly a significant contributor to this deterioration is the rise of governmental power and the micromanagement of nearly every aspect of our lives. Governments, and those who wield power within them, are historically the culprits in coercive erosion of freedom. But another component is likely economic, as it’s hard to feel free when jobs are scarce, good-paying jobs are even more scarce, and when the middle-class in America has taken a 9% trimming in real median household income, from $54,489 at the end of 2007, to $50,020 last year.

Patriotism-FlagPerhaps even more disconcerting than the perceived erosion of our liberties, is what was revealed in an extensive typology survey released last week by Pew Research. One of their shocking findings in their 187-page paper researching American attitudes was that a full 44% of us are not proud to be Americans. They separated polling groups by substrata of political self-identification, but in the conglomerate, 60% of “strong liberals” answered “no” to the question of whether they “often feel proud to be American.” The only groups that solidly agreed with the statement were those on the conservative side, from 72-81%.

Patriotism is now quantified as a dying trait of 21st century Americans. There was a time not long ago when in spite of ideological differences, the common glue holding our nation, society, and culture together was a shared love of country, a commitment to leave her better than we inherited her. We recognized that we were all Americans, and that we were a unique nation established upon fundamentally correct principles recognizing the equality of man because of our God-given inalienable rights.

9-11neverforgetReflect on how the nation coalesced for a time after the attack at Pearl Harbor, or even more recently, after the attacks of 9/11. As a nation we were unified with a love of country, a patriotic fervor, and a determination to overcome all obstacles and enemies that stood in the way of our perpetuity as a free and prospering nation. Flags, patriotic bumper stickers, and unifying messages on signs and placards were virtually omnipresent. Such unity is predictable from people filled with the American spirit, when we feel we are at risk and fighting for our survival.

I would submit that we are still fighting for our survival, and the risks are no less onerous or menacing now than they were in 1941 or 2001. But even more than those exogenous threats to our physical existence, the policies of governance today, which are so intuitively antithetical to those upon which the nation was founded, are a fulfillment of Thomas Jefferson’s fear. As he said, “Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” The greatest threat unraveling America today is domestic, and ideologically driven.

There is nothing erudite or chic to those who harbor antipathy toward America. It may indicate some deep psychological maladies, but it’s certainly not “cool.” Not only is it possible to love America and all she stands for while still being critical of politicians and policy, but I think that’s what is meant by dissent being the ultimate form of patriotism: a devotion to America and a commitment to her perpetuity so great that we speak out in opposition to those policies that we’re convinced challenge the unique position America bears as an ensign of freedom to the world.

960x540There are some incontrovertible facts about America that must be recognized across the entire political spectrum, for they are historical verities. For example, we all should recognize that for the first time in history, a nation, even this nation, was created by people, for people, based on a series of principles and tenets recognized to be God-given, not government bestowed. As James Madison said regarding the patriots who founded this nation, “Happily for America, happily, we trust, for the whole human race, they pursued a new and more noble course. They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society.”

For the first time in history, a group of agrarian subjects united to throw off the tyranny of their monarch, and establish a new nation founded in the notion that rights are not simply granted by the ruler, but by God. And that since they were granted by God, they were inalienable, meaning that they were unable to be separated, surrendered, or transferred. And that among those rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This is the essence of American exceptionalism.

Even those who engage in national self-loathing, lamenting America as the cause of all the world’s grief, must recognize the power behind a country founded on the principle that for a government of free people to be legitimate, its powers must be derived from the consent of the governed.

Stock Photo of the Consitution of the United States and Feather QuillAmerica’s greatness is not based in an arrogant presumption of supremacy on our part, but on a recognition of our unique origins, national credo, historical evolution, distinctive political and religious institutions, and of America’s qualitative dissimilarity from all other nations. It is not arrogance to claim greatness in this young republic; it is historical and empirical fact. Our Declaration reduced government from master to servant for the first time in history, regardless of the fact that the role has in recent years been reversed.

Our United States of America is not perfect. No temporal entity operated by man can be, yet the principles upon which this country is founded are fundamentally correct, based in freedom and individual liberty, and the resulting government by and for the people, at one time was the best on earth.

patriotismPatriotism is not a matter of waving a flag, but is rather manifest in how we talk of America, and how we treat her and our fellow citizens. Adlai Stevenson admonished us that our patriotism should not be “short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”

In this context, to be true patriots, we don’t just fly our flag on the 4th of July, but we live lives of dedication to preserving this land, and passing it on to later generations in better condition than we received it from our forbearers. To fail in this most basic task is to fail as Americans.

“Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” To which we answer unwaveringly, “Yes!”

Associated Press award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho and is a graduate of Idaho State University with degrees in Political Science and History and coursework completed toward a Master’s in Public Administration. He can be reached at [email protected].

 

Teach your Children well?

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From a young age and throughout the years I have heard people say, “teach your children well, you don’t want to raise little monsters, do you?”

These and other comments were about molding and shaping children at an early age. The Bible says “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” I guess it’s all about training our children, right? Right!

In Germany, Hitler knew this to be paramount to his success in being the “supreme ruler,” dictator, and “Grand PooBah” so much so that he dictated what would be taught in every school and changed the curriculum to reflect the superiority of the Arian race and people.

At the age of 10 they were grouped by age and taught “German Patriotism”. No big deal right? They were molded and shaped until they were 18 and then inducted into the German Army. After the age of 10 they were not allowed to engage in any outside activities aside from their “group.” They were taught good work habits and ethics, and the learning day had much to do with the great Leader known as Hitler and the Nazi party (socialist).

These kids became so loyal to Hitler and the party that they would turn in their own parents for any anti Hitler or anti-party comments. Party indoctrination was so deep that when Hitler declared the Jews were the cause of the German woes, it was not hard to get the Hitler youth to turn on them. You don’t kill that many people, the way they were killed, without brainwashing the youth. They grew into soldiers that carried out the party’s orders without question because they trusted their leader.

Now, let’s look at today. We have education being more and more dictated by liberal America. Many elementary and high school texts have rewritten history to twist the things we hold sacred into something wrong and inhumane.

Recently an elementary school district taught and tested the kids on the evil conqueror, Christopher Columbus, and the millions of Indians (yes, millions) that he and his people slaughtered. If that’s true, why do we “celebrate” Thanksgiving? (That’s just wrong on so many levels.) The curriculum went on to ask the kids what questions they would ask him at his trial.

Textbooks are being changed to down play the Judeo/Christian influence on this nation’s history. Some history books emphasize that our forefathers came her to get away from religion, rather than the actual fact that they came here to practice their own religion and worship God the way they chose.

I guess, based on these new history books, the Pilgrims must have been very confused because they had the first Thanksgiving to actually offer thanks to the Almighty (not mother earth) for all He had given them.

Jefferson must have also been very confused because he used the congressional meeting house to have Sunday service, government paid and maintained, with the Marine Band playing hymns in the government building!

Now, our elementary school kids are learning about how bad these men were because they owned slaves. They had their faults, and it’s appropriate to teach about the wrongs of slavery, but not to the exclusion of the rest of the story. How about teaching our kids about the selfless dedication they had to the freedom of the American people and that what they sacrificed was much more than a new iPod or Sunday football game?

Then there are our institutions of higher learning that seem to teach more about sexual pleasure and how to get as much from the government as possible than they teach about, science, math, and technology, as evidenced by our drop in world standing in these areas.

Numerous college campuses now have “Sex Week.” Many liberals justify this by saying it’s just “part of the college experience” and it helps the kids to blow off a little steam. I highly doubt that Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Jonas Salk would attribute their genius to their pursuit of sex and sexual knowledge in college! More and more colleges have what boils down to “how to have better sex” classes, complete with visual aids, presentations, and nothing left to the imagination. One college provides an introductory comic book to incoming freshmen to help them exploring their “erotic self” and even their “homosexual self.” Really? What if I have no homosexual self or can’t find it. Do I fail?

Politically, students on campuses are being encouraged to embrace communism and socialism and shun conservative values, speakers and teachers.

We are becoming the laughing stock of the world, with our failed economic policies, our mismanaged healthcare law and rollout, and our failing school systems.

Hitler’s lesson was on target. If you get the youth, you have the country. In other words, he trained the youth in the way he wanted them to go and eventually had total control.

Today the progressive left is training up the youth in the way they want to see this country grow and have they’ve been doing so for many years. Take a look around at what’s happening to in our country.
We are seeing the fruits of their efforts now. And we are in a heap of hurt as a nation and a people.

TSA and the City of Sacramento try to protect the public from a hero

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California in general is often the source of jokes for conservatives, as is the TSA. If this story didn’t involve a highly decorated, disabled Marine veteran, there is no doubt there would be scores of conservatives rolling in the aisles laughing at the stupidity that was on display. But, this is not remotely close to amusing – it is tragic, irresponsible, reprehensible, and inexcusable.

Cpl. Nathan Kemnitz was traveling to Sacramento to be honored for his service, and rightfully so. Unfortunately, on the way there, he was treated like a terrorist, not once, but twice. First, was at the hands of TSA. The second incident was particularly disturbing, since security for the building where he was supposed to be the guest of honor were the ones to mistreat him. I say that because the thin excuse that his uniform had too much metal, and therefore set off the alarms, was utterly unacceptable. After being subjected to a handheld metal detector being waved around me when I happen to set off an alarm at a government building countless times, I know very well that it is not necessary to require that a decorated Marine remove his uniform to verify that his medals are the cause of the alarms sounding off.

Special arrangements can be made for disabled veterans wishing to travel, so that they can be treated with the respect that they deserve when making their way through our airports and public buildings. That is not acceptable either. It is a ludicrous concept, that the Veterans’ Administration and the various security agencies – local, state and federal – cannot come up with a reasonable way to automatically treat our veterans with respect, and not force them to be insulted by invasive searches. These people are fingerprinted, photographed, and tracked completely while they are in the service, and given the government’s penchant for keeping tabs on citizens, it is not believable that all that information is removed from the system when a member of the service leaves. Beyond that, the fact is that the TSA and building security officers in Sacramento proved one simple point in this little exercise – they obviously do not have the intelligence to have the jobs they currently hold, and should be fired.

Another thing that should happen is that Cpl. Kemnitz should receive a written apology from the TSA and Sacramento security officers involved. He should receive the same from every lawmaker in the State of California, and the Governor. That won’t happen, of course, because that is the proper, and honorable thing to do. Perhaps their defense for not doing that will be as shameful as what they did in the first place – they will probably say Cpl. Kemnitz didn’t ask for an apology, so they didn’t give one. There is a reason why it is said “once a Marine, always a Marine.” And they obviously do not understand that either.

There is video footage of how they mistreated Cpl. Kemnitz. Instead of featuring that, since it’s available at the Daily Mail, here is something that honors Cpl. Kemnitz for his heroic service, and explains what the TSA and the City of Sacramento obviously do not understand.

No Time for the Anthem?

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The National Anthem is part of our sports heritage traditionally played at public sports events. But youth hockey players in Pennsylvania were told recently that the National Anthem intrudes too much into their game schedule and teams should take the anthem out.

“The National Anthem should not be played only because of time constrains,” said  Ed Sam, PA Interscholastic Hockey League Commissioner. “It’s not that we’re not patriotic, that’s the furthest from the truth.” Hockey teams are not prohibited from playing the National Anthem before games, just discouraged.

At $300 plus per hour on the ice, the PIHL says it’s about the money. But backlash from residents and families has been fierce causing the league to rethink their decision.

You can watch the full story on the CBS affiliate in Pittsburgh:
 

What?!? Firefighters Can’t Fly Old Glory?

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(This story has been updated, see below.)

Firefighters in Seminole, Florida have been banned from flying USA flags on their firetrucks. Apparently there was a complaint about trucks flying a large American flag so in response the city has banned all flags.

It should always be appropriate to fly the beautiful symbol of this great country.


Update: Someone pointed out that the flag was not being flown properly in accordance with the 2008 Flag Code. There was also an additional article on the flag flying issue specifying that the problem was just the large flag hung from the back of the fire truck. Maybe so, but the city response to ban all flags remains an issue.

Further Update: Additional information  has now been made available. According to the Flag Code flags may not be displayed in windows but must be ‘fixed firmly to the chassis’.

From EyeWitness News:

The order to remove the flags came after a complaint from a member of the public. The complaing concerned a flag being flown from the back of a ladder truck.

Smaller flags were later displayed in the truck’s windows, but they, too, were removed after complaints.

A spokesperson for the city’s fire department says the complainer did not take issue with the flags themselves– but how they were displayed.

The U.S. Flag Code requires flags on vehicles to be “fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.” 

After removing the flags, city officials say they asked the public and fire department for a plan to display the flags in compliance with the flag code, but no plans were proposed.

“My goal today is they say…yes the flags are going back on the trucks…yes we have a solution,” says Dave Dabney, who organized the protest.

AZ – Where They Desecrate the Flag to Support Illegals

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I am not going to fly off on a tirade about this behavior. It does no good anyway. The people involved in these sorts of activities just take words against them, and spin the complaints so that the people pointing out how wrong they are end up looking like the bad guys. Instead, I am going to tell you all a story.
Desecrated Flag
My maiden name is Ross, and since my first name is Elizabeth, some members of my family would call me Betsy, like my paternal grandfather. This was something that he liked very much, having a granddaughter with the same name as the woman who was historically credited with making the first flag of this nation. The reason he liked this undoubtedly had something to do with his being a generally patriotic man, and a veteran. But, shortly after he died, it became abundantly clear why this quiet gentleman liked that name in his family tree so much.

When we were sorting through his belongings, we found a flag. It was folded neatly, and kept in an old department store shirt box wrapped in tissue paper. When my father carefully unfolded it, and spread it out on my grandmother’s bed, we saw that it had just 48 stars. The white stripes and stars had long since turned to sepia tone, and some of the hem on the edges had fallen apart because the thread had disintegrated. And then we noticed that there was a deep brownish red stain over many of the stripes.

We knew that my grandfather had served in World War II, but didn’t know where, or in what capacity. Until we found that flag, we never knew that he had obviously been in combat. We would find out later from some of his friends from the American Legion that the flag was his because he had used it to wrap around a member of his unit in battle. That man had died in my grandfather’s arms, with that flag as a blanket. Apparently, he had tried to give that flag to the dead soldier’s family, but they either couldn’t bear to take it, or said that he should keep it. In spite of the fact that it is very old and worn, it has never been added to the yearly pile of flags that local veterans burn and bury each year. It sits, neatly folded, hiding the bloodstains it holds, in a case at an American Legion post. It will probably molder to nothingness before any veteran of that post decides to permanently retire those colors in the flames.

Understanding the importance of that flag is what it means to be an American. That is a gift that citizens of this country can own. Failing to grasp that is a tragedy. The flag not only represents this nation, but also the blood spilled to protect it.

The following video shows a group of people that probably will never understand what it really means to be an American citizen. Their only concern is what they can get out of the government. They have no desire to contribute to society, and only desire to usurp the freedoms that were earned by the blood of others. While it is tempting to scream in protest at the desecration they have done, one must remember – they don’t know any better. They cannot be taught to feel what true Americans do. They cannot be taught to respect themselves, let alone others. They are not worth anyone’s time or attention. But, we mustn’t forget that people like this exist in this country. We must continue the fight to remove those that have no desire to actively participate in our society as law-abiding, respectful, legal citizens.
Illegal Alien Protesters Desecrate Flag

Patriotism Alive in an Oklahoma School

February 24, 2012

Earlier in the week one of my grandsons asked me to pick him up for school about 15 minutes earlier than normal. Mrs. Cheri Robinson’s 5th grade class at Claremont Elementary School in Claremore, Oklahoma was putting on a program for their Sunrise Assembly, an event held every Friday morning. He needed to be there early to get into his costume for the program. He didn’t say much else and I didn’t really ask any questions. I naturally thought of it again this morning and asked him what they were doing. “We’re having a ‘President’s Day’ play”. Okay, this should be interesting. Probably a cute little skit to start everyone’s day, I thought. I go to events involving all of my grandchildren when I can, and even go out of my way to attend. I am glad I went to this one.

A few days ago I read about a school somewhere, don’t remember or care where, that had a ruckus over children being taught to sing and chant praises to Barack Obama. Parents were outraged and put a stop to it. This is not the first time I have heard about this kind of thing happening in recent years. It seems to have become pandemic in our nation’s public school system, but has it?

For those of us born in the immediate post World War II era, this has a chilling effect. I remember my parents talking about, and remember growing up seeing newsreel films about, elementary school children in cute little swastika adorned uniforms giving the Nazi salute, and singing and chanting praises to Adolph Hitler. The school children singing and chanting praises to Hitler in the newsreels were the young adults who implemented the Holocaust. This is beginning in our own country.

Outrage is the proper attitude of parents at this kind of indoctrination. This kind of school activity is what gets reported in all of the national news, they love it. This promotion of the adoration of Obama, or any politician, is what the media is interested in for the most part.

The incident I just related to you isn’t the end of the story. I have another story to tell you- set in the “Bible Belt”, the “Breadbasket of America”, “flyover country”, the land of “bitter people clinging to their Bibles and guns”. This is the story of a much different message being taught to our children.

Let me take you back to tiny Claremore, Oklahoma on a windy and chilly Friday morning; and the 5th grade class of Mrs. Cheri Robinson, Claremont Elementary School. The Sunrise assemblies are held in the school gymnasium/cafeteria, probably the one area in any structure in this entire nation that has no acoustic values at all. In this gymnasium every child’s whisper sounds like a shout and every shuffle of an elementary student sounds like a load of books being dropped.

Trying to hear and understand lines from nervous students who are speaking very softly and meekly into the microphone in this environment isn’t a walk in the park for these old ears. As I walked in I saw my grandson, his teacher, and his classmates on the stage, all decked out in colonial looking costumes, some with construction paper hats depicting the style of the time.

The program started out with the Pledge of Allegiance, a salute to the flag of the State of Oklahoma, the school creed, the 8 steps of character building , and the teacher’s creed; all led by Mrs. Robinson’s students. I noticed the children around me during the Pledge of Allegiance. Each of them stood razor straight, hand over heart, looking at the flag, and saying the pledge like they meant it. These are K-5th kids, 5-11 year olds. This all finished up and a student stepped up to the microphone.

As the first student began to speak you could have heard a pin drop. About 300 or so kids 5-11 years old sat riveted like what was being said was important and mattered. The students stepped up to the microphone, each at their time, and spoke clearly, concisely, loudly, and sincerely about the flag of The United States of America and those men and women who gave us this great nation.

Their tribute to our flag, our nation, our founders, and our veterans brought tears to this old soldier’s eyes and a lump the size of a basketball to his throat. I was so proud at that moment to be a grandfather, to be a veteran, to be a guest at this assembly; and most of all, proud to be an American. I was particularly proud of my grandson, Jacob. He stood so tall, and spoke with such volume, clarity, and meaning. The expression on his face and the way he carried himself when he spoke showed a genuine sincerity in his heart. This was a boy of 11, one of about 25 children, all with a genuine joy in their hearts to be doing this, to be honoring those who gave so much for freedom.

I have tried to instill an appreciation and a love of this nation in all of my children and grandchildren. I have talked a lot with this particular grandson about our nation’s past, present, and future; sometimes much to the chagrin of his mother and grandmother. I am often told, “too much information for an 11 year old”. I have wondered how much of it really got through and how much was “okay, Grandpa, that’s great, can I go play now?” Today I found out.

I was also once again reminded that I am not alone in my quest to see my grandchildren grow up with a love and appreciation of our founders, our heritage, and for those who keep us safe and free. This is not an isolated case in the Claremore School System. This is very much the rule here. This needs to be the rule rather than the exception in every school. Mrs. Robinson is teaching our children the true values that made this nation great. I can’t say “THANK YOU” strongly enough.

I hope this program of patriotism at Claremont Elementary School gets as much, or more, national attention as the activities of a school promoting dictatorship, and the worship of a ruler. Claremont’s play from this morning is the kind of activity we need to be publicizing. These students weren’t paying tribute to a leader or a political party, or even a flag. They were paying tribute to an idea, a concept of freedom, to a value system, and to the great men and women who “pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their Sacred Honor” for future generations. This is what students are taught in the Claremore Public Schools.

I submit this in the name of the Most Holy Trinity, in faith, with the responsibility given to me by Almighty God to honor His work and not let it die from neglect.

Bob Russell
Claremore, Oklahoma
February 24, 2012

Patriotism and Partisanship

I’ve noticed a troubling trend in patriotism lately. It would appear that those who live and breathe politics see patriotism as a partisan (or, at least, right versus left) issue. People hear the word “patriot,” and automatically assume that it’s code for “conservative.” They see some kind of covert plan to rebrand conservative ideology. Is it possible that patriotism has become aligned with one end of the political spectrum?

I had noticed it before, but didn’t realize how rampant it was until my book One Nation Under God: A Book for Little Patriots came out. Suddenly, I was being accused of trying to indoctrinate children in conservative values, or even to hate liberals. This is, of course, ridiculous. The book is unabashedly patriotic, but it is in no way partisan. In a counting book of one through ten, the only number that could be considered at all values-based is number one; One Nation Under God. That is not a partisan issue. So, what is bringing on this confusion between patriotism and partisanship?

Let’s take a look at the dictionary to see what it has to say on the issue. Miriam-Webster defines patriotism as “love or devotion to one’s country.” Although we disagree on the best way to run our country, I would hope that people of any political affiliation would love it. What are we to think of a group of people who, upon hearing the term “patriotism,” assume that people mean the other party? Shouldn’t everyone, if they think it’s a partisan issue, assume that their party is the one which is thought to love America best and more? Apparently not.

Perhaps patriotism is being equated with American Exceptionalism. Conservatives seem much more ready to holdAmerica in esteem above all other countries than liberals. Isn’t it patriotic, though, to think one’s country is the best country in the world? I think it’s a symptom of the chasm opening up between the mindset of conservatives and liberals. It would appear that conservatives are proud to display their loyalty to America, flaws and all, while liberals seem more wont to view patriotism as undeserved blind allegiance to a flawed land.

An author’s views don’t typically enter into his or her work, and One Nation Under God: A Book for Little Patriots is

Patriotism Should Not be Partisan

no exception. There is nothing political about mine, unless one considers teaching children the basics of America to be a political matter. Seeing as these are things that are taught even in that bastion of liberalism, the public school system, this is pretty easy to refute.  Even they are allowed, for the time being, to say  “under God.”

The interesting thing is, the vitriol comes almost exclusively from the hyper-political on the left. I know many democrats who do not live and breathe politics who are proud to love their country. I’ve gotten feedback from some solidly left-wing parents that they enjoyed reading it with their children and cannot imagine what the fuss is about. There is a small (and, ostensibly, growing) group, however, which is quick to label patriotism as partisan. These people assume the worst and are quick to pull the fire alarm of right-wing indoctrination based on these unfounded assumptions.

This seems to go deeper than a difference that can easily be put aside. This isn’t a matter of Americans loving Americans but disagreeing how best to keep her great. This seems to be a matter of irreconcilable differences. If we aren’t all patriots, where do we go from here?