Is Scientology a Cult or a Religion?

by Kelly R. Smith

One of many Scientology churches
One of many Scientology churches
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Scientology was the brainchild of the charismatic leader and science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard started in 1952. It has been classified as a religion by the United States and the United Kingdom governments for tax purposes. However, Germany calls it an “anti-constitutional sect” and France has labeled it a “dangerous cult” as have many parts of the United States. A looser definition that is sometimes used is a New Religious Movement (NRM), defined as a religious, ethical, or spiritual group or community with relatively modern origins. But is Scientology a cult or a true religion? Where is the dividing line? Does it fall somewhere in the middle, a secret society like the Illuminati?

What Is a Cult?

A sociologist will tell you that a cult is a small group of individuals without a distinctive authority structure, usually led by a charismatic leader or a small group of leaders, and who derive their cause and ideology from outside of, and counter to, the more broadly-accepted religious and social culture. However, in layman’s terms, a cult is a manipulating and authoritarian organization that likely uses mind control to recruit members, keep them in line, and poses a threat to mental health to the flock.

The term “cult” has been used broadly to refer to groups such as Scientologists, Obama’s shadow government, Satanists, Mormons, Druids, The Peoples Church, the KKK, the Manson Family, Antifa, Pagans, Southern Baptists, Roman Catholics, Trekkies, and Pokemon Go players. The term is broad enough to include both dangerous types and mere enthusiasts.

Cults and New Religious Movements

One problem with the term “cult” is that it has such a negative, and to some people, dangerous and frightening connotations. This is why sociologists have dropped the term and now refer to non-traditional religious sects such as Scientology New Religious Movements (NRMs).

Scientology does not exhibit some of the most common characteristics of a truly dangerous cult. In particular, the presence of a beloved, still-living founder; a relatively small and easily controlled number of followers; and a disturbing history of murders or suicides at the command of the leader. However, there is disturbing concern over the amount of control the church possesses, and its constant legal trouble can be seen as a red flag.

Leah Remini, ex-Scientologist discusses growing up in the church

Scientology and Characteristics of Dangerous Cults

  • Ruled by One Charismatic leader. Scientology was created by one charismatic man, science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. His originally intended it to be a branch of science, but that didn’t catch on so he switched his focus to a religious movement. He died in 1986, and the current head of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige took over. He maintains all the power and control over the money. He has a reputation as being abusive and tyrannical often losing his temper and physically attacking members of his staff.
  • Complete Control Over Church Members. One of the ways it does this is the policy of disconnection. But what is it? Mike Rinder says in his blog1, “There IS policy of the church of scientology that REQUIRES someone to disconnect from anyone declared by HCO as a Suppressive Person. HCOB 10 September 83 PTSNess and Disconnection states the following: ‘To fail or refuse to disconnect from a suppressive person not only denies the PTS (person connected to a Suppressive Person) case gain, it is also supportive of the suppressive – in itself a Suppressive Act. And it must be so labeled.‘” In a nutshell, if the Church finds disapproval with a person, the Church member must disconnect association, be it a family member, coworker, or other.
  • The Commission of Felonies. Many legal accusations have been directed at the Church over the years, and many have resulted in felony convictions, for example, in connection with Operation Snow White, which included theft of government documents. Through The Looking Glass says2, “Operation Snow White was a criminal conspiracy by the Church of Scientology during the 1970s to purge unfavorable records about Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. This project included a series of infiltrations into and thefts from 136 government agencies, foreign embassies and consulates, as well as private organizations critical of Scientology, carried out by Church members in more than 30 countries.” The most common accusations are fraud, extortion, and harassment, although other accusations such as kidnapping and negligent homicide have also been leveled.
  • Communal Living. Many Church members live in special Church-owned facilities (presumably for more control). There are groups in Scientology (notably Sea Org) that often have semi-communal arrangements in which families may be kept separated. Former employees have reported that they worked long hours, were paid very little, and were actively discouraged from having families.


  • Punishment for Defection or Criticism. According to Learn Religions3, “Defection and criticism can lead to one being labeled a suppressive person from whom other members should disconnect. SPs can become targets of harassment through the church’s ‘fair game’ doctrine. Established by L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s, the ‘fair game’ doctrine states that anyone identified as an opponent may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. Scientology has sued several of its former members; defectors are shunned or ‘disconnected.’ According to the church and former members, leaving is a lengthy process that can take months. The church requires that the leaving members pay ‘freeloader’ bills—former members report bills of tens of thousands of dollars—and sign affidavits which are drawn up by the officials.”
  • Large Donations are a Way of Life. As soon as they join, members are required to pay large donations for their coursework. This money must be paid up front, not-pay-as-you-go. Next, members are highly-encouraged to use these services since they are a fundamental way of achieving the goals of Scientology. Then there are ongoing requests for still more donations for projects and new buildings.

So, is Scientology a cult or a religion? Given how broad the definitions are, there is a lot of gray area. We do know that they don’t believe in Jesus or any other earthly prophet. Instead, they believe in the Overlord Xenu who headed the Galactic Federation, which was an organization of 76 planets. They do believe in reincarnation (hence, the billion-year contract they sign).


References

  1. Mike Rinder, Scientology Disconnection, https://www.mikerindersblog.org/scientology-disconnection/
  2. The Infomaniac, Through The Looking Glass, OPERATION SNOW WHITE: How Scientology Was Behind the Largest Infiltration of the US Government, https://throughthelookingglassnews.wordpress.com/2017/12/02/operation-snow-white-how-scientology-was-behind-the-largest-infiltration-of-the-us-government-in-history-besides-israel-with-5000-under-cover-agents/
  3. Catherine Beyer, Learn Religions, Is Scientology a Cult?, https://www.learnreligions.com/is-scientology-cult-95820

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Who Was Halloween’s Jack-o’-Lantern?

The History Behind this Holiday’s Spooky, Eldritch Icon

by Kelly R. Smith

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Spooky Halloween Jack o' Lanterns
Spooky Halloween Jack o’ Lanterns

This Halloween season, like many that have come before, people far and wide will be carving Jack o’ Lanterns and putting their creations on displays. For this, farmers all over the country thank you. You likely know of Halloween’s Irish origin, but where did this festive fellow come from?

Who are Jack-o’-Lanterns Named For?

Jack has been a generic term for a lad since the 1500s and because of this, it found its way into a number of children’s songs and rhymes. The English own the original use of the phrase jack-o’-lantern. During the 17th century, it meant a night watchman who carried a lantern as he made his rounds.

But as it turns out, jack-o’-lantern was also a name for bizarre, flickering lights that were seen at night lingering over wetlands or peat bogs and thought to be fairies or ghosts. Actually, it’s natural phenomenon that is known as ignis fatuus, or “foolish fire,” friar’s lantern, and will-o’-the-wisp.

Fast Forward to the mid-1800s

What is known as a turnip lantern became known as a jack-o’-lantern. Young boys fashioned these hollowed-out and lit-up root veggies and used them to spook people. One Irish legend in particular says that this use of jack-o’-lantern was named after a fellow named Stingy Jack.

Fun fact: One quarter of all the candy sold annually in the U.S. is purchased for Halloween.

Dictionary.com

This legend has it that Stingy Jack believed that he had tricked the devil, however in fact the devil had the last laugh. Ever vindictive, the devil condemned Jack to a lonely eternity wandering over the earth with only an ember of hellfire to light his way. Jack’s lanterns were carved out of potatoes, turnips in Scotland and Ireland, but beets were the vegetable of choice in England. When immigrants brought along this custom with them to North America, for some reason pumpkins eventually became the vegetable of choice. But it makes sense; they are easier to carve.

Pumpkin carving taken to the next level

A More Sinister Jack o’ Lantern

There is also a more dangerous rather than spooky version of a jack-o’-lantern. A poisonous glowing orange fungus known as Omphalotus olearius is commonly known by the layman as the jack-o’-lantern mushroom! It’s found in wooded areas across Europe, this glowing growth forms clusters at the base of decomposing tree stumps. Don’t eat it; try a Shiitake mushroom growing kit instead.

There’s your daily dose of Halloween history. There’s a lot more to Jack o’ Lantern than most people think.



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The Biden Family/China/Russia Connection is Breaking Open

by Kelly R. Smith

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Forget Trump’s Russiagate and the four-year waste of time and money in an attempt to impeach the president. The real story is the Bidens doing back door deals. The mainstream press has been rather successful in protecting Joe Biden.

It all started on Oct. 14, when Delaware computer repairman John Paul Mac Isaac claimed that in April 2019, a man who identified himself as Hunter Biden brought a liquid-damaged MacBook Pro to his small repair shop. That MacBook is now in the possession of the FBI and is reputed to have some very damaging emails about the Biden’s dirty business deals. The ramifications and details are in the video below. Let’s make it go viral. The election is nigh.

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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Social Media Censoring New York Post to Protect Biden

by Kelly R. Smith

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Twitter massive fail censoring New York Post and users to protect Joe Biden
Twitter massive fail censoring New York Post and users to protect Joe Biden

What a sad turn of events for America. The New York Post has been booted out of Twitter over an article that they published on Joe Biden’s alleged corruption. According to business reporter Noah Manskar, it was because the story violated the policy against the “distribution of hacked material.” If that rationale strikes you as lame as well, you are certainly not alone. It is out and out smoke and mirrors.

The Personnel Connection

Just last month that the Post1 reported that Carlos Monje, who was Twitter’s director of public policy, left Twitter to take a position with Biden’s transition team. Now, it is plain to see that Twitter is actively suppressing information that reflects badly on the Biden campaign, and indeed, on Hunter Biden.

Monje now serves as co-chair of Biden’s infrastructure policy committee. Earlier he served as the director of agency review on the team that prepared for a possible Hillary Clinton administration. Even before that he served in former President Obama’s White House. At a glance it is not a stretch to deduce that he is not an impartial player. The question is, is he still pulling partisan strings at Twitter? Now, I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but…

The Post Story

The story story outlined the connection between Hunter Biden, Joe Biden, and money then Vice-President Biden held hostage from the Ukraine until they dismissed the prosecutor that was investigating the energy giant Burisma, on whose board Hunter Biden sat.

It would be fair to ask, “Where did the Post get their info?” It was based on exclusive emails that resided on a laptop computer that was allegedly left at a Delaware computer repair shop. The Post reported that the FBI seized the laptop in December 2019.

Part of the story the Post printed concerned how the emails were obtained. What the emails themselves illustrated was that Hunter Biden, while serving on the board of Ukrainian energy giant Burisma, personally introduced his father, who was then Vice President Joe Biden, to executives at that company. After that introduction was made, Joe Biden held back $1 billion in aid to Ukraine until that government fired a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma for wrongdoing. Oh, what a web we weave.

While running for president on the Democrat ticket, Biden has consistently denied any knowledge of Hunter’s position with the company or business dealings. Clearly, this is one of Joe Biden’s lies (misstatements if you reside on the left) that he has bandied about.

Joe Biden forgets strong-arming the Ukraine to protect Hunter, his son

This isn’t the first time that social media has indulged in suppressing or promoting information to sway public opinion. Indeed, Facebook banned or punished many people that are not on the same page as Mark Elliot Zuckerberg. Censoring the New York Post to protect Democratic presidential candidate Biden and injure the Republican candidate Donald Trump sets a dangerous precedent that threatens the fabric of our political system and our first amendment rights.

Update: I just posted this article on Twitter and it was rejected until I edited the post to take the image out. Yes, I was censored by Twitter for posting an article about Twitter censoring. My head is spinning.

References


  • Yaron Steinbuch, Twitter’s public policy chief departs to join Joe Biden’s transition team, https://nypost.com/2020/09/18/twitters-public-policy-chief-leaves-for-biden-transition-team/

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Halloween is Based on the Irish Myths of Samhain

by Kelly R. Smith

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Irish Samhain became Halloween
Irish Samhain became Halloween

We tend to think of Halloween as a holiday of its own accord. But that is simply not true. Just as Christmas traditions and celebrations have connections to the winter solstice and Easter has merged with pagan spring celebrations and has connections to the Jewish Passover, Halloween is based on the Irish myths of Samhain. It is called Oíche Shamhna in Irish Gaelic.

What is Samhain?

As the the Celts understood it, the year was divided into two parts. The “lighter” part was in the summer and the darker part was in the winter. Samhain, or Halloween as it is now called, was the separation between these parts. They believed that the veil betwixt our world and the otherworld was at its thinnest just then. Oíche Shamhna (October 31) is Halloween and Lá na Marbh (November 1) is the Day of the Dead, or All Saints Day when those who have passed away are remembered.

Irish Myths of Samhain

  • Fionn MacCool. According to one of the several tales told in the “Tales of the Elders,” each year at Samhain for twenty-three years the fire-breathing creature Aillen would lull the men of Tara to slumber and then burn the court to the ground during the night. The young hero Fionn MacCumhail avoided sleep. He stuck the sharp end of his spear into his forehead (ouch!) and killed Aillen with that spear. Because of this act, he was made the head of the Fianna.
  • Queen Maeve. As written in In the ancient Irish epic poem “Tain Bo Cualigne,” the legendary Queen Maeve of Connacht waits until Samhain to begin the Cattle Raid of Cooley. In the course of her raid, which drives the plot of the epic, she tries to catch a prize bull of Ulster in order to equal the possessions of her husband Aillel. The hero Cu Chulainn single-handedly protects Ulster until the Ulster men’s birth pangs finish and they can do battle.
  • Lugh. Arguably best known as Cu Chulainn’s father, the god of light arrives the court at Tara to join the Tuatha de Dannan at Samhain. According to Whitney Stokes’ 1891 volume “The Second Battle of Moytura,” as soon as Lugh enters the court, the Tuatha de Danann are oppressed by the Fomorians. After the high king gives him command over the Tuatha de Danna, Lugh begins preparations to overthrow them. After days of battle, Lugh and the Tuatha de Danna are victorious.
  • Nera. The hero that calls Cruachan home undergoes a bravery test ordered by King Ailill. For the king’s own gold-hilted sword, a man must leave Ailill’s hall and go to the gallows where a man had been hung and then tie a twig around the dead man’s ankle. Others had attempted this and given up when spirits harried them. But on Samhain night, Nera finishes the task and the man comes alive and asks for a cup of water. When Nera fetches him the water, he sees the royal buildings burned to the ground and a woman from the fairy mounds informs him it is a vision that will happen if the people of the court are not warned. In one version of the myth cited in Patricia Monaghan’s “Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore,” he is captured by the fairies and held in a fairy mound until next Samhain.
  • Emer. John T. Koch notes in “The Celts: History, Life, and Culture,” in the myth “The Wooing of Emer” Samhain is discussed a couple of times. The tale describes the courtship of the beautiful Emer, who is transformed into a variety of creatures before reuniting with her husband. Samhain is the first of the four “quarter days” mentioned by the titled heroine. Also in this story, Oengus claims the kingship of Bru na Boinne, what is today Newgrange, on Samhain.

So, these Irish myths of Samhain played a large part in the formation of we know today as Halloween. The celebration and traditions may have changed quite a bit, but it just goes to show the malleability of history and tradition. It’s a small world after all. Please participate in the poll located on the right-hand sidebar of this page.


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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Columbus Day: History and Controversy

by Kelly R. Smith

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Christopher Columbus discovers land
Christopher Columbus discovers land

Columbus Day falls on October 12. It is a U.S. holiday that commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas in 1492. As early as the 18th century it was celebrated in many cities and states and it was designated a federal holiday in 1937. The day honors Columbus’ achievements and celebrates Italian-American heritage. But throughout its history, Columbus Day and the man who inspired it have generated controversy, and many alternatives to the holiday have proposed since the 1970s including Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Who Was Christopher Columbus?

Columbus was an Italian-born explorer who set sail in August of 1492, bound for Asia with financial backing from the Spanish monarchs King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, He had 3 ships — the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. The plan was to chart a western sea route to China, India, and the fabled gold and spice islands of Asia. But alas, things went sideways. On October 12, 1492, he arrived at the Bahamas. He was the first European adventurer to explore the Americas since the Vikings occupied colonies in both Greenland and Newfoundland back in the 10th century.

Columbus was confused quite a bit but it was understandable; Europeans didn’t know the Pacific Ocean existed. He sighted Cuba and thought it was mainland China; come December the expedition encountered Hispaniola, which he thought was Japan. There, he established Spain’s first colony in the Americas with 39 of his men.

The Columbus Controversy

In 1792, New York’s Columbian Order (Tammany Hall) staged an event that commemorated the historic landing’s 300th anniversary. They took pride in Columbus’ birthplace and faith. Italian and Catholic communities in many parts of the country began organizing annual religious ceremonies and parades in his honor.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed Columbus Day a national holiday. In 1937, in 1937, largely as a result of intense lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, an influential Catholic fraternal organization.

Things have changed. Many groups, seeing themselves as social warriors have taken to demonizing not just Civil War heroes but Columbus. BLM and Antifa come to mind. They see Columbus as a colonizer.

Anti-immigrant groups in the United States have also rejected the holiday because it is associated with Catholicism. These are the same people that took God and the Pledge of Allegiance out of school.

Alternate Holidays

South Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii, and Oregon and have officially replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day, as have cities like Denver, Phoenix and Los Angeles. Ironically, the so-called “Five Civilized Tribes” of the southeast the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole also participated in the institution of slavery. You don’t see Black Lives Matter having an issue with that inconvenient fact.

In many Latin American countries, the anniversary of Columbus’ landing is observed as the Dìa de la Raza (“Day of the Race”). This is to celebrate the Hispanic culture’s diverse roots. Venezuela renamed the holiday Dìa de la Resistencia Indìgena (“Day of Indigenous Resistance”) in 2002, to recognize native peoples and their experience and to promote socialism.

Do you plan to celebrate Columbus Day? I know I will. Please participate in the poll on the right-hand side of this page for a study I’m doing. Thanks!



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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Joe Biden and Education; His History and Opinions

by Kelly R. Smith

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Joe Biden orating at the podium
Joe Biden orating at the podium

Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden isn’t exactly cutting a broad swath on the campaign trail. He seems to have his own cloak of invisibility, only occasionally emerging from his basement bunker. When he does, he calls it a day before noon. In the bunker he does “live, candid, off-the-cuff interviews” with the questions and answers on a teleprompter. Seemingly, his handlers don’t let him ad lib because of his strange gaffes and confused speech about all topics. Joe Biden and the topic of education is no exception.

Atlantic writer Mark Bowden has a very forgiving opinion of Biden’s tenuous relationship with the truth. In a 2010 piece where depicted the then-vice president as having “the limber storyteller’s tendency to stretch.”

Joe Biden’s Education

The real Joe Biden graduated from the University of Delaware in 1965 and Syracuse University in 1968. In his previous failed presidential campaign years he bragged that he finished in the top half of his law school class. The truth is that he finished 76th place out of 85 students in his graduating class at Syracuse law school and not even the most forgiving of rounding errors could place him in the neighborhood of the 50th percentile. Math or hyperbole?

Here is where Biden’s memory starts to take a strange twist — the Western Journal tells us that, “Last autumn, for instance, he told a town hall in South Carolina that he ‘got started out’ at Delaware State University. He actually attended the University of Delaware.”

Delaware State is a historically black university. Biden told the audience, “I got started out at an HBCU, Delaware State,” he told the audience, eliciting laughter. “Now I don’t want to hear anything negative about Delaware State here. They’re my folks.” Delaware State has since confirmed that Biden had never been a student there.

Your ever-so-humble blogger there may have grey hair, but he still remembers graduating for the University of Houston not high in my class. But then again, I’m not running for President.

Revisionist History Makes for Good Pandering

Biden is far from conservative candidate. If so, the media would fact-check him. But since that doesn’t happen, he is emboldened. Speaking at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Biden told a real whopper, speaking to a predominately black audience. The Daily Mail quotes him, “‘Why in God’s name don’t we teach history in history classes. A black man invested the light bulb not a white guy named Edison. There’s so much. Did anybody know?”

False. Blatantly false. Black man Lewis Howard Latimer, who later worked with Edison, invented the carbon filament which allowed light bulbs to continuously shine.

Let’s just say that Joe Biden and the topic of education do not make good bedfellows. It is to be expected that in the world of politics the truth will be stretched or circumvented to some extent, but Uncle Joe seems to have gone off the rails. I can’t wait to see what emerges at the presidential debates as he faces President Trump. And the fact-checking will not be coming from the mainstream media. What do you think? Please answer the poll on the right.



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Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

What to Know About the 2020 Presidential and Vice-Presidential Debates

by Kelly R. Smith

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Donald Trump-Joe Biden 2020 Presidential Debate
Donald Trump-Joe Biden 2020 Presidential Debate

This article was updated on 10/07/20.

The much-awaited 2020 Presidential debates are upon us at last. President Donald Trump holds sway over the Republican corner, facing off against prior Vice President Joe Biden on the Democrat ticket.

There has been a question of whether the debates would be held at all. Some pundits bemoaned the COVID-19 pandemic. Nancy Pelosi has tried to shut them down more than once. Her rationale is that Trump is to be dismissed. The Washington Examiner quotes her as saying, “I do not think that the president of the United States has comported himself in a way that has any association with truth, evidence, data, and facts. I wouldn’t legitimize a conversation with him, nor a debate.”

The word on the street, however, is that Biden’s handlers are loathe to let him speak because of his continual gaffes and losing his place, mumbling, getting facts mixed up, and forgetting where he is. As for Trump, he is expected to speak off the cuff as usual but none of his inner circle is trying to take him out of the ring. Here are topics we might expect to be addressed.

Likely Debate Topics

  • The Trump and Biden Records. No surprise here; this is akin to a job interview. Trump has had great success with the economy, foreign relations, strengthening the military, and creating a robust economy. Biden had no real accomplishments as VP under former President Obama. Biden’s record on race relations is smoke and mirrors. Showing nepotism so his son could use government resources to make personal business deals might show its ugly head.


  • The Supreme Court. This will be an interesting topic. Trump is in a hurry to appoint a new judge before the election following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Democrats are currently in quite the tizzy over the prospect, and rightly so; United States Supreme Court Justice appointments are for life and the institution has “assumed” much more power over the years than the Constitution originally granted it. Truly, it has become a deity unto itself with virtually as much power as the executive branch.
  • COVID-19. This is where I expect to see a lot of fireworks. For a while now, Nancy Pelosi, AOC, and the Far Left Wing have been showering fecal matter on Trump on this COVID-19 timeline topic. Their boilerplate line is mismanagement. Unfortunately, this observation doesn’t hold water and they know it (another reason to keep Biden from debating). According to cnnsnews, when Trump called for a travel ban from China right away, he was labeled a racist. When it worked they said he didn’t act soon enough. Can’t have it both ways and this will become obvious if the debate goes there. Biden is on the ropes here again; go with the party-line and be creamed by fact-checkers or avoid the subject and lose credibility.
  • The Economy. Once again, Joe will have a hard time. He and President Obama held sway over one of the most tepid recoveries ever and did their best to impede progress with “progressive” policy. Trump turned it around and produced the strongest economy in U.S. history.
  • Race and Violence in our Cities. This has risen to a critical level. BLM and Antifa are beating, burning, killing, and looting every day. Trump can list his attempts to rein it in and Biden’s record this year show that he has supported or at best turned a blind eye to the anarchy. And over the years he has misrepresented his position on race relations and his part in the civil rights movement when it was politically expedient.
  • The Integrity of the Election. This is such a broad and historied topic that it could go in any direction. Hanging chads, the electoral college, misplaced ballot boxes, bused-in voters, mail-in ballots, you name it. It is fodder for accusations but facts are facts. Only a narrow space is left for spin.

When and Where are the Debates?

The presidential debates are Sept. 29 in Cleveland, Oct. 15 in Miami, and Oct. 22 in Nashville, Tenn. The vice-presidential debate is Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City, Utah. They all start at 9 p.m. ET and will run 90 minutes without commercial interruption. The debates will be shown live on channels including ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and C-Span. You will also be able to stream the debate live on WSJ.com and YouTube. Keep up with the books you love while you walk, run, or walk the dog with Audible.com.

I’m looking forward to the first of the 2020 Presidential debates, and the subsequent ones of course, although generally, the first sets the tone and is the most impressionable on voters. Stay tuned because I will be reporting on each one. Have you made up your mind? Please vote in the poll posted on the right sidebar of this page.

Results of the First Presidential Debate

Not much of substance came out of this debate. Trump supporters say he won; Biden supporters say he won. Everybody agrees that Wallace, the moderator, was in Biden’s corner. No surprise there. Since then Trump is recuperating from COVID-19 and Biden occasionally emerges from the bunker to make gaffes. His latest is that he claimed he is able to isolate himself because a black woman is keeping the grocery store shelves stocked for him. Say what?

The Vice-Presidential Debate

This will happen tonight. I don’t expect much from it but who knows? Expect Harris to attack strongly with rhetoric and Pence to have facts and figures. Stay tuned.

Update: And now it has transpired, for better or worse. In my opinion, Vice-President Pence took the gold, and Harris took the silver, and I understand that everyone’s opinion is different so hear me out and don’t judge. Harris was clearly uncomfortable. Pence was clearly in his element. That’s just setting the tone; Pence has been VP for a long time now and Harris is having to reverse almost all her opinions that she espoused when running against Biden for the nomination and accused him of many things, specifically of the Biden racist history. She is an intelligent woman looking for verbiage that can reconcile her history and her current pitch but it is an untenable position. She was either right before or she’s right now. She’s a liar either way. There is no middle ground outside of the beltway.

On the subject of:

  • Packing the Supreme Court should she and Biden win: Just as Joe Biden refused to answer to the American people on this issue during the first debate, so did Harris. The Constitution is clear; the number of Supreme Court Justices is up to the President and Congress. When pressed, she rambled about Abraham Lincoln.
  • Tax cuts: Biden has promised to eliminate Trump’s tax cuts on day 1, even during the lockdown when many Americans are not getting a paycheck anyway. Harris tried to back-peddle this. She said the plan is to double down on taxes and then distribute those funds to the people. Is this not redistribution of wealth? Of course it is. In the first place, why not let people keep the money they make? Biden says, “I’m not a Socialist,” but this is the basic tenet of American Democratic Socialism.

From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs

— Karl Marx
  • On the COVID-19 pandemic: Harris said, “The greatest failure of any president in the history of our country.” Whoa, back up here. When the Coronavirus first reached our shores, Trump enacted a travel ban with China. Biden immediately attacked him on it and called the action “xenophobic.” Now he says it wasn’t enough or soon enough.

Stay tuned for the next presidential debate. Meanwhile, please participate in the poll on the right-hand side of this page.



References


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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Abe Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: Interesting Facts

by Kelly R. Smith

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Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation
Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation

Today (September 22) is the anniversary of the day in 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. The intent was to grant the freedom of more than 3 million slaves in the United States. Of course, we all learned this in school, along with other historical facts, such as the accomplishments of Theodore Roosevelt. But, there is more to the picture.

5 Interesting Facts about the Emancipation Proclamation

  • It Didn’t Actually Free All the Slaves. As a matter of fact, the proclamation didn’t even give freedom to a majority of slaves. The document is popularly seen now as an inclusive reform, but in actuality it said that the slaves living in states that were still rebelling as of January 1, 1863, would become free. However, not the slaves residing in states that decided to stop rebelling, or slaves residing in states that had never actively rebelled, or in those in Union territories. It only included those in approximately 10 states that still had an opportunity to cease fighting. However, the Proclamation was a key step towards beginning the emancipation process for all slaves. Baby steps as they say. As time marched on, so did the civil rights movement.
  • The Emancipation Proclamation was Issued Twice. President Lincoln issued the first Emancipation Proclamation on September 22nd of 1862. It specified that if the states in the south didn’t deist from rebelling by January 1st of 1863, then the Proclamation would go into effect. But the Confederacy did not yield. Therefore, Honest Abe issued the final version of the Proclamation on January 1st of 1863.
  • The Proclamation Wasn’t Technically a Law. You didn’t see that coming, did you? It was actually an order, not a law, and “technically” didn’t stop slavery. States that were Union-friendly got to keep slaves according to the details of the Proclamation (recall that it focused on rebel states). But Lincoln pushed for the proclamation and the end of slavery to be made law. The result was the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. This passed in 1865 and ended slavery in all the states. Steady progress; as the Irish say, “The road to Heaven is well signposted, but it’s badly lit at night,” meaning that life has many challenges in store for us but the reward is well worth it.
  • It Allowed Blacks to Join the Union Armed Forces. A detail in the Emancipation Proclamation that never get a lot of attention in history class is that it opened the door to allowing Blacks join the military. Blacks had already started fighting in a variety of ways. Many were in the Confederate forces in the role of slaves. In 1861, Congress passed the First Confiscation Act. This act gave freedom to all the slaves in the Confederate military, whether as soldiers or workers. Next, during 1862, all-Black regiments loyal to the Union were formed. By the time the war was over, more than 200,000 Blacks would serve in the Union Army and Navy.


President Abraham Lincoln considered the Emancipation Proclamation the most important and transformative part of his legacy. He said, “I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper. If my name ever goes into history it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it.”


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Visit Kelly’s profile on Pinterest.


About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

Live Free or Die by Sean Hannity — a Book Review

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Sean Hannity -- Live Free or Die
Sean Hannity — Live Free or Die

My book review of the new Sean Hannity book — Live Free or Die; America and the World On The Brink (ISBN-10 : 1982149973). I’ve got the Audible.com version which I enjoyed on my 5-mile daily dog-walks, but the hard copy is also available.

So. Sean Hannity. People either love him or hate him, they are rarely on the fence. What I like about him is that like me, at the end of the day, he’s just a working class stiff. 20+ years as a carpenter will do that to you. He was a painter and waiter among other things. Contrast that with Joe Biden who likes to project the image but has no gravitas. Hey, Man!

What the Book Covers

The title is not all that descriptive of the content in my opinion. But, in a broad sense it does describe what’s going on. The book is reminiscent of an extended Sean Hannity radio show, minus the commercials and weather reports. In other words, he gives his conservative opinion but all backed up with hard facts. In my view, this work is just as important as The United States of Trump by Bill O’Reilley. Opinion backed up with hard, documented facts.

This book is a timeline history, compare and contrast, with previous administrations and Trump’s. So how are all these facts a clarion call to Live Free or Die, you might ask yourself? The answer of course, is Trump’s vision to make all citizens more free and prosperous.

Forces Dragging America Down

Yes, there are forces dragging America down even as Trump’s economy is building up employment and home ownership. As Hannity points out, these forces are deeply embedded in and guided from the far left.

Don’t take my word for it. Hannity lays it out in excruciating detail in this book, fact after fact. If you are not a fact and trivia junkie like me, this book might not be for you. On the other hand, if you seek verifiable truth, dig in.

I really found Live Free or Die to be very informative and entertaining but it’s not light reading/listening. Take your time with it and allow time to look up references, if you like. This book is particularly timely considering tat the general elections are almost upon us. Vote Socialist or American traditional values. You have a choice.