Category Archives: Government Issues

Presidential Prayer (Ugandan that is)

I read this prayer from the president Yoweri Museveni of Uganda upon the celebration of 50th year of independence from British rule.

“I stand here today to close the evil past, and especially in the last 50 years of our national leadership history and at the threshold of a new dispensation in the life of this nation. I stand here on my own behalf and on behalf of my predecessors to repent. We ask for your forgiveness…. We confess these sins, which have greatly hampered our national cohesion and delayed our political, social and economic transformation. We confess sins of idolatry and witchcraft which are rampant in our land. We confess sins of shedding innocent blood, sins of political hypocrisy, dishonesty, intrigue and betrayal….Forgive us of sins of pride, tribalism and sectarianism; sins of laziness, indifference and irresponsibility; sins of corruption and bribery that have eroded our national resources; sins of sexual immorality, drunkenness and debauchery; sins of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred and revenge; sins of injustice, oppression and exploitation; sins of rebellion, insubordination, strife and conflict…. We want to dedicate this nation to you so that you will be our God and guide. We want Uganda to be known as a nation that fears God and as a nation whose foundations are firmly rooted in righteousness and justice to fulfill what the Bible says in Psalm 33:12: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. A people you have chosen as your own.”

The powerful prayer reminded me of Daniel’s prayer in the book of Daniel 9:1-27. Daniel in exile, recognized that the exile had to be coming to an end and prepared himself and the nation for return to the land. He confessed,

“We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations. We have refused to listen to your servants the prophets, who spoke on your authority to our kings and princes and ancestors and to all the people of the land. Lord, you are in the right; but as you see, our faces are covered with shame. This is true of all of us, including the people of Judah and Jerusalem and all Israel, scattered near and far, wherever you have driven us because of our disloyalty to you. O LORD, we and our kings, princes, and ancestors are covered with shame because we have sinned against you….Every curse written against us in the Law of Moses has come true. Yet we have refused to seek mercy from the LORD our God by turning from our sins and recognizing his truth. Therefore, the LORD has brought upon us the disaster he prepared. The LORD our God was right to do all of these things, for we did not obey him….”

Daniel too, repented for the offenses of the nation that were against God and against his fellow Israelites outlined in Torah. While I am not much for mixing religion and politics, I applaud the Ugandan president for his recognition of the state of the country that he oversees. Even apart from the theological implications, both the Prayer of Daniel and President Museveni invoke a sense of humility absent in politics today. It takes a certain level of humility to admit our deficiencies publicly, but it also brings a reality to the situation, that few other means can provide. I believe in this reality recovery can begin either politically and spiritually.


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Filed under Government Issues, Spirituality, Theology

Plato’s Gyges and Military Drones

By Calips (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Much like the power of the ring in Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Ring of Gyges allows the possessor to become invisible. Plato considers whether a person would make moral decisions if he knew no one would see him. The N.Y. Times article, The Moral Hazard of Drones, picks up Plato’s theme out of his Republic book two and applies it to the U.S. drone war in the middle east.

Terrorists, whatever the moral value of their deeds, may be found and punished; as humans they are subject to retribution, whether it be corporal or legal. They may lose or sacrifice their lives. They may, in fact, be killed in the middle of the night by a drone. Because remote controlled machines cannot suffer these consequences, and the humans who operate them do so at a great distance, the myth of Gyges is more a parable of modern counterterrorism than it is about terrorism.

Scott Shane’s article, The Moral Case for Drones, was mentioned in the above article which provides a positive view of the use of the drone in war. Here he suggests,

“[T]he drone war has prompted an intense focus on civilian casualties, which in a YouTube world have become harder to hide. He argues that technological change is producing a growing intolerance for the routine slaughter of earlier wars.

“Look at the firebombing of Dresden, and compare what we’re doing today,” Mr. Crumpton said. “The public’s expectations have been raised dramatically around the world, and that’s good news.”

If it is accurate to attribute the Plato’s analogy of Gyges to drones, here is what Plato’s Glaucon says about a just and an unjust man having this power,

[360b] If now there should be two such rings, and the just man should put on one and the unjust the other, no one could be found, it would seem, of such adamantine temper as to persevere in justice and endure to refrain his hands from the possessions of others and not touch them, though he might with impunity take what he wished even from the marketplace, [360c] and enter into houses and lie with whom he pleased, and slay and loose from bonds whomsoever he would, and in all other things conduct himself among mankind as the equal of a god. And in so acting he would do no differently from the other man, but both would pursue the same course. And yet this is a great proof, one might argue, that no one is just of his own will but only from constraint, in the belief that justice is not his personal good, inasmuch as every man, when he supposes himself to have the power to do wrong, does wrong. (Republic book 2.360b,c)

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Filed under Ethics, Government Issues

Military Vets and Benefits: Do they get what they are promised?

USA Today highlighted that fact that many U.S. Army veterans did not receive promised education benefits. In the reported cases, the enlistees were promised (contractually) the 35,000 dollar G.I. Bill benefit along with a 50,000 dollar “kicker” for an enlistment term of six years. Instead they were paid a total of 50,000 dollars, not the expected 85,000 dollars. Congress has moved to correct some of these cases between 2013 and 2015.

The question remains, How many people have not received education benefits due to DOD errors, technicalities, and procedures not attributable to the enlistee? I can say at least one: Me. I was denied my G.I. Bill benefit in 1990 because of an accounting error. During the Cold War, enlistees had a different G.I. Bill benefit than the one in place today. My G.I. Bill mandated that I contribute 12 consecutive monthly payments of 100 dollars through direct withdraw from pay the first year I was on active duty. In return, I would get an educational benefit of 12,500 dollars. I signed up for the G.I. Bill in basic training at Lackland AFB, TX. After basic training, I went on to technical training school and thought no more about the G.I. Bill. When I arrived at my permanent duty assignment six months after basic training, my supervisor looked over my paystub one day, and asked why I didn’t sign up for the G.I. Bill, I responded that I had signed up. It wasn’t being taken out of my pay. We went to the administration of the base and accounting, they started the monthly withdraw of 100 dollars. It is my fault that I didn’t keep track of the automatic withdraws to ensure that all twelve had been taken. However, for some unknown reason, the withdraws stopped at eleven instead of twelve in 1987. In 1990, now in the Air National Guard, I applied to enact the educational benefit, I earned on active duty. To my surprise, my benefit request was denied. It was only at that time, I discovered the accounting error that had shorted the withdraw by 100 dollars, leaving my contribution at 1,100 instead of 1,200 dollars. So in sum, I paid the U.S. DoD 1,100 dollars instead of 1,200 dollars which made me ineligible for the benefit even though I had authorized twelve 100 dollar payments and the accounting office was responsible for withdrawing the money. Of course I appealed the ruling, volunteering to pay the 100 dollars, but was told this was impossible due to the procedures of the G.I. Bill stipulations. I requested they return my 1,100 dollars so that I could at least use it for college. That too was denied due to the technicalities of the program. In the end, the government got 1,100 dollars of my money and I got none of the promised 12,500 dollars for college. How many others are out there, denied benefits both medical and educational due to a technicality not of their own making?

Fortunately for me, I was able to earn my degree and pay for it through other means. My employer at the time assisted my greatly with paying tuition. The rest I was able to pay myself. Others are not as fortunate.

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