Thursday, May 21, 2015

"It is altogether fitting and proper..."

The first official “American” war dead probably were those American colonists who served the British during the European Dynastic wars of King William, Queen Anne, King George, and finally the French and Indian War or Seven Years’ War, all collectively known on this side of the Atlantic as the French and Indian Wars.

Since shortly thereafter, American soldiers, sailors and later, airmen, have been giving their lives while serving the United States in wars ranging in time from the American Revolution to the Global War on Terror.

No greater honor is accorded a citizen of this country than that shown to those who have laid down their lives in military service of the United States during wartime. Where possible, an honor guard, a flag draped coffin, a 21 gun salute, and the playing of the mournfully poignant bugle notes of Taps accompany a serviceman to his final rest, often in one of America’s most beautiful National Cemeteries.

Perhaps no one has ever paid a more eloquent tribute to these slain United States warriors than did President Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, a mere four months after the great battle there, when he said, “We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.” “…altogether fitting and proper” is indeed what Lincoln had in mind as the full tribute to those who “…gave the last full measure of devotion…”

Abraham Lincoln assumed a burden too horrifying for most ordinary people -- an almost personal responsibility for each and every man who served this nation, and, arguably, this included those who fought for the Confederate States of America. He felt each wound, and agonized over the grim butcher’s bills presented over the telegraph after each skirmish, engagement, and battle. He mourned over each death. He and his First Lady, Mary Todd Lincoln, spent countless hours working in the Washington, D.C. hospitals with the wounded and dying, and it haunted him. He abhorred the necessity of it all.

In his mind, both sides were fighting to resolve a hideously divisive and destructive issue once and for all: slavery. That it was complicated by other issues like Constitutionally protected rights of the states, does not void the primacy of the issue of slavery. As President, Lincoln had very little power on entering office that would allow him to affect slavery in any way. The Constitution prohibited any interference, and Congress had passed and re-passed legislation not only upholding slavery, but demanding the assistance of [outraged] northern citizens in returning runaway slaves to their owners.

Lincoln was faced with attempted secession and armed revolt by secessionist and pro-slavery mobs throughout the South, even before he was sworn into office. On assuming office, he acted to the limits of Constitutional authority to save the Union. He was even willing to backpedal on his anti-slavery public stance. Recognizing the enormity of the situation he inherited on his Inauguration Day, Lincoln tried diplomacy, within the guidelines of the Constitution. When that failed, and the secessionist forces opened fire on Fort Sumter a month later, Lincoln had no choice but to call for troops. The Constitution gave him powers to act in case of armed rebellion, or states unconstitutionally entering “…into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation…,” and he reluctantly used them. It was not until a year later that he took the war measure of issuing the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

All those hours at the hospitals, and the time spent at the Soldiers Home on the edge of Washington, surrounded by a regiment of Pennsylvania soldiers, gave Lincoln a sense of belonging to those men. By the time he helped dedicate the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Lincoln well understood what the men were fighting for, and that both sides were fighting to resolve the major issues – one way or another – on the battlefield, as a last resort.

In perhaps his two most eloquent speeches, the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural Address, Lincoln speaks of the fighting men as Americans, but not as Union or Confederate. When he speaks of the soldiers, he does not identify them with one side or the other: “…The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here…,” “…they who fought here…,” “…these honored dead…,” are all passages from the Gettysburg Address. In his Second Inaugural Address he closes with the final paragraph, "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” This goes even farther in not only refusing to identify the sides of the soldiers, but also points to the cause as being one that results in a vastly greater, and better nation after the war than the one that existed before it.

There were an estimated 600,000 casualties, many of whom were horribly mutilated survivors of the carnage that occurred between April of 1861 and April of 1865, so that “…from these honored dead we may take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

This Memorial Day, 2015, please join President Abraham Lincoln, and indeed, all the Presidents of the United States of America, in honoring all of our fallen warriors from all wars. Visit a Veteran’s Cemetery and silently thank the spirits of those who lay there in eternity. And on your way home, stop in to your local Veterans’ Hospital, and spend time with the wounded, and the sick. Thank them for all they have given to all of us.

"It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this."

[Edited and reposted.]

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Now in our 11th year!

Copyright © 2005-2015: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Our Election Recommendations for May 19, 2015

We have a saying at the bottom of every post: "Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!"

It is May and this May's election is quite out of the ordinary.   This year, you really must go to the polls and vote as if your life depended on it...because it does.  This year, more than in other years, the condition of incumbent government is such that you must vote to change it, and that means leaving home or work to vote in an election that you frequently don't bother to attend.  It is a primary.  You vote by the two party slates depending on your registration. 

If you have read the six post series by local resident W. G. Davis [no relations to local attorney Walton Davis], then you will know there is an awful lot wrong with local government, particularly in County government, and the Gettysburg School District.   [See the links to the six part series at the end of this post.]

Your County officials and your school board have betrayed you about the Tax Increment Financing [TIF].  They have not been honest, and have not been forthcoming with all the information you need to have about TIF.  Further, the current Commissioners now make their decisions in private BEFORE hearing public comment on the issues under consideration.  Public comment sessions are nothing more than a dog and pony show.  Ditto for the School Board.  They call the meetings "working sessions" and make their decisions there, and then hold public meetings and sit there listening to any public comment before issuing the decision they already reached.  [See "Fixing Local Government - Part 4"]

And you wonder why people don't go to those meetings! 

The School Board has been on a building/spending spree for decades, and as a result our students are getting short changed academically, especially at the High School level.  [See "Fixing Local Government - Part 3"].  And here we have a very sad situation where one man, a local developer who now wants to develop land in Straban Township is financing a "Gang of Five" candidates for School Board, ostensibly on the basis of keeping taxes low.  If he gets his project approved for TIF, they will not be able to keep taxes low.  No one will be able to keep taxes low.  He knows that.  But there it is.  Do you think those people, if elected, will vote for his TIF project?  Oddly enough, no one asked any of them about that.  Where was the local paper on that?

Here are the names of the Gang of Five: Bud Vance [better known as Coyd Marion Vance], Stuart Kravits, Cynthia Birdwell, and the mysterious David Green, who did not get a profile in the local newspaper's candidates guide, but did generate some excitement when he implied experience as a Secret Service Agent when in fact he was not an agent but an administrative contractor for the Secret Service.  These people have vowed to keep taxes low, but if they vote for TIF, your taxes will go up, and go up drastically. 

Those are clearly five to leave off your list to get your vote.   Don't let big money be successful in our elections. 

There are two School Board incumbents who stand out as being against TIF: Mr. and Mrs. Hewitt.  We recommend them and and any other candidates who have expressed a willingness to deny TIF financing.  Seriously, both TIF Projects are disasters waiting to happen.  Yes we need a shopping center, but no we do not need to subsidize it when the world's largest corporation is to be a part of it: WalMart.  No we do not need another large Senior Citizen development, as they are not coming.  How do we know?  The last Senior Citizen development sits only about half full and it is much smaller than the proposed development in upper Straban Township.   They are not coming.  They will not come. 

The School Board should not involve itself in development, but rather in scholastic performance.  Let's get them to stop building and start teaching!

As for County Commissioners, we urge you to vote for non-incumbents: there are three for the Republican ticket versus the two incumbent Republicans, and two for the Democratic ticket versus the sole Democrat incumbent. 

Your school boards and county commissioners have espoused the growth mindset of the local Economic and Industrial Development Corporations. In the process, they have never been completely open and honest about TIF, or about the source of the tens of thousands of new residents.  In this case, it's been tried for three decades, especially by the school board, but they should by now recognize that if you build it, they will not come.  

We leave you with two thought from early in GettysBLOG's life:

"Hubris is a contagious disease found in politicians who have been in office too long." -- GettysBLOG

"Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!"--GettysBLOG

Time to take local government back from the developers and the politicians.  Time to get some true representative government back, time to change the processes by which county government works, and school board works.  Neither have been completely working for you. 

VOTE!

Read Part 1

Read Part 2

Read Part 3

Read Part 4

Read Part 5 

Read Part 6

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Now in our 11th year!

Copyright © 2005-2015: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fixing Local Government - Part 6


A six part series from local resident W. G. Davis [no relation to local attorney Walton Davis] that discusses several important issues citizens, voters and taxpayers need to consider.

Part 6: A Solution

At this point, there is an election looming in a few days.  You can, if you agree that things are completely out of control and out of touch in local governments, turn them all out of office, regardless of party, regardless of “oh, he’s such a good guy,” or “she’s a close friend.”  When you go into that voting booth and vote, you are not required to disclose who you cast your vote for or against, ever.  Make use of that freedom.  Vote correctly to restore local government to the people, not to the politicians.   We need to rethink the priorities of government to face the future.  It must start somewhere, and start now.

Lincoln also said, “If all do not join now to save the good old ship of the Union this voyage nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another voyage.”   Here is your opportunity to start a groundswell to take control of your government.  You need to be steadfast, and be sure to vote, and you need to refuse to vote for all incumbents.  Local governments need a completely fresh start.

And, frankly, so do you.  Too many of you have been apathetic about elections.  You complain about taxes being too high, you complain about things being done that should not be done, you complain about things that should be done that are not done, and you get an attitude that your vote is meaningless.

You have two places to change your attitude so that government can change.  First is in the voting booth, not at home, not at the beauty shop or the coffee shop but in the voting booth.  Second, after you vote, start attending meetings for township, borough, school board, and commissioner’s meetings.  Take an interest.  And spread the word, use your social media, enlist your friends on Facebook, and Twitter.

And after you do, you will realize that you are part of something bigger than yourself, and you have engaged in doing something to change government for the better.  And that is something for which you can feel forever proud, and forever American. 
  
Read Part 1

Read Part 2

Read Part 3

Read Part 4

Read Part 5

GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Now in our 11th year!

Copyright © 2005-2015: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fixing Local Government - Part 5



A six part series from local resident W. G. Davis [no relation to local attorney Walton Davis] that discusses several important issues citizens, voters and taxpayers need to consider. 

Part 5: Preservation          

As late as 2007, this county was one of the top agricultural counties in Pennsylvania.  That has been thanks in large part to the fruit belt on South Mountain in the northwest portion of the county, but also to townships like Straban which has been among the top townships in the state for agricultural production.  Has been.  Encroaching development [growth] has placed property values on farmland far higher than farmers could earn from farming it. 

Growth of that kind is ultimately a zero sum game, where in the end, whenever that is, a point is reached that population has risen and agricultural production has dropped to a point that human and most animal life is no longer sustainable.  Not even the abundance of the oceans can save mankind from that.  There is a far greater and more immediate threat to all live on Earth.

Growth, then, becomes the number one threat to animal life on earth, far more dangerous than global warming because population increases and growth are advancing far faster than the Earth is warming. 

Dire?  Absolutely.  Think we’ll stop before we get there?  Here is the thing.  We cannot agree on global warming/climate change.  How, then would we deal with population and development growth?  In our efforts to improve the lot of the third world we have made them immune to many diseases, taught them how to make their water clean, and how better to plant crops -- and how to develop their land.  Population growth results.  And more natural sections of the Earth disappear under growth.  In the jungles of Brazil they are burning the rain forest to clear the land for development.  The loss of trees in the Amazon Jungle carries looming deadlier consequences for all life on earth [which is 99.9999 etc. percent aerobic, meaning it requires oxygen in order to survive, grow and thrive].  Those trees remove carbon dioxide and extract the oxygen and release it into the air.  They are, essentially, clean air filters.  

Russia has about 20% of the world's forest area.  Brazil follows with about 12%, while Canada and the US are next with about 3.3% each.  Those are the top four, and collectively they have almost 40% of the earth's forests.   The deforestation of the Amazon Rain Forest has been going on at a terribly rapid pace for more than four decades.  It is estimated that since 1970, the rain forest there has been deforested by almost 20%.  That translates to roughly 5% of the Earth's total forest cover.  

If you think the growing hole in the Ozone layer is a danger, how about looking down the road to the year 2915 when no forest is left to clean the atmosphere of CO2, and put oxygen back into it.  With population, development and their attending deforestation increasing more and more each year, all aerobic life [that includes us, good old homo sapiens, who is not living up to the sapiens part] will become extinct long before 2915.  I'd guess we'd be gone by 2200, less than 200 years.  Of course, I doubt that society would last that long.  Besides, it is far too short a time span for NASA to find "another earth," and the effort to build enough spacecraft to carry the earth's population to it would take too much effort, too much raw material...and too much time. 

Unless and until mankind learns to control the growth of population and development at a sustainable rate which  balances both to zero net growth, we will face extinction. 

It is time for new thinking and that needs to start from the ground up…locally.  If you do not start to process these threats to human, plant and animal life on Earth, it will never get done.

It starts with water.  Not water from the Susquehanna, which is prohibitively expensive, but local water.  We have an aquafer and we have flow-through water.  We can dam up the flow-through to create reservoirs to ensure enough water to supply those who are here.  Controlled growth which is, at minimum, strictly limited to 100% redevelopment, is the only acceptable path.  Otherwise those water sources will not be enough.  By 100% redevelopment, we mean  that no development can take place until an equal amount of mature green space has been freed up from previous development. 

In the end, the residents of Adams County need to think globally [and set an example of smart growth that will spread rapidly and globally], and decide whether they should limit growth to ensure the county can be self-sustaining, or to join those who burn the rainforest.






GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Now in our 11th year!

Copyright © 2005-2015: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Fixing Local Government - Part 4



A six part series from local resident W. G. Davis [no relation to local attorney Walton Davis] that discusses several important issues citizens, voters and taxpayers need to consider. 

Part 4:  County and local governments.     

Something is wrong with a governmental process that sets in motion decision-making at closed-to-the-public-meetings [work or executive sessions] where decisions are made, and then public meetings are held for public comment, before taking the “official vote” on the decision that was already made in the earlier private “work session.” 

That stinks!

Pardon me, but these are elected officials, who work for the taxpayers, who are put in office by the voters, and who are responsible to every person in their township, school district or county as the case may be.  If the public, and the fourth estate are not permitted to observe the workings of government, even the disagreements, and political wranglings, then you no longer have a government that is responsible to the people, but a government of dictatorial elites that rule by fiat, that make backroom deals, and put polish on them for the public meetings.  Even personnel matters should be publicly discussed.  Employees, too, work for the public.  In addition to the presence of a reporter at each and every meeting, the minutes of each meeting should be published within two days, and the agenda and schedule for the next meeting should be printed a week beforehand.  And space rates for those two items to be published in the local paper should be budgeted by the townships and the County – and the school board! 

James Madison wrote, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”  That is what has occurred here, in Adams County, and in other areas as well.  It is a shameful abridgment of the contract between the electorate and the elected. 

And Abraham Lincoln said, “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it nothing can succeed.”  How is it possible to gain the measure of public sentiment when decisions are made before the public is allowed to speak? 

This needs to stop and it needs to stop  now!





GettysBLOG

We support the Roadmap to Reform!

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May and November! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Now in our 11th year!

Copyright © 2005-2015: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.