Opinion

The World is Flat like Obama is a Muslim

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There are assertions that I find laughable and also quite disturbing at the same time.  One of these is the assertion that Obama is a Muslim.   The claim is absurd yet it is still propagated by a small group of people.  Some have even gone as far as to splice together a series of video clips, statements Obama has made throughout his public tenure, of course, without presenting these statements in their full context then posting them to YouTube to “prove” to you that Obama is a Muslim.   I have to shake my head in disbelief at the whole thing; that anyone would go to all that trouble to promote something so inane.  This type of behavior is very similar to the way other fringe groups believe in equally outrageous claims such as the one where the world is flat.

No matter how many different examples you can show members of this group that the world is not flat they still choose to believe that the world is flat.  Regardless of how many clear and factual examples you give that Obama, by all the available evidence, is a practicing Christian who attends a Southern Baptist church every Sunday, they still choose to believe that Obama is a Muslim.  Funny; because how could it really be true; what Muslim would regularly attend a Christian Church and a Southern Baptist congregation no less? And, disturbing; how and the heck could someone believe this in the face of all the evidence that proves otherwise?  But, even if Obama were a Muslim so what?  Isn’t this America?  Maybe that makes the disturbing part of this all the more disturbing when you consider that someone’s religion in America should even be an issue at all.

Speaker of the Whiners

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Last week on “Face the Nation” newly elected House Speaker, Paul Ryan, made this statement when answering a question about what he plans to do about immigration reform:

I think it would be a ridiculous notion to try and work on an issue like this with a president we simply cannot trust on this issue.

I was a little suspicious of the accolades Ryan received from both parties when his name was floating around as being a candidate for Speaker of the House earlier this year. In every interview I have seen Ryan do, he has always just reaffirmed my own opinion that he is part of the problem. But, I always give people the benefit of the doubt and, perhaps, with more responsibility and with the important role Ryan is playing, perhaps, he would be more open to compromise and negotiation. But, it seems, with Ryan’s comment about his inability to even consider negotiating with the President, my original assessment of Ryan was not too far off the mark.

It is clear to me we can expect more of the same from Congress with Ryan as Speaker of the House. In fact, I fear Congress will be even more immobile and stuck in the mud of political rhetoric and dysfunction. Ryan has none of John Boehner political sensibilities. These are sensibilities that a Speaker of the House must have. For example, dismissing the one party that is absolutely essential to accomplishing the work that needs to be done in Congress is not the brightest move I have seen a Speaker of the House ever make. But, I suppose I should not be surprised.

The major problem with Ryan is that he seems only willing to negotiate with people he gets along with. To be a good politician, to be a good legislator, to be a good Speaker of the House, to be a good and effective leader, you need to negotiate with the people you don’t get along with. Compromise is the key to the success of our nation. Whining about how untrustworthy somebody is doesn’t cut it. Ryan’s comment about his failure to want to negotiate with the President is just plain and simply irresponsible.

I think Ryan should get a clue, figure it out and quit making excuses why Congress is so unproductive by blaming it on the other guy. Nobody likes a quitter. Nobody likes a whiner.

Taking all their Marbles and Going Home over Climate Change

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This has to be the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. I don’t care whether you are Republican or Democrat. If Paul Gosar is representative of the type of thought process we have in Washington, boy, are we in trouble. I think there are legitimate reasons for questioning what is really responsible for Global Warming and how negative its impact will truly be without considering other natural occurrences that might also be taking place.

So, I am not willing to subscribe to the opinion that people against Global Warming don’t have a legitimate right to question its validity. But, boycotting the Pope because he holds an opinion that favors the generally accepted scientific view that Global Warming is a reality and that man is most responsible for its existence? Give me a break.

As a congressman, Gosar has a duty. He has a duty to his country to honor diplomatic missions from other parts of the world and, especially, when our country is officially hosting these diplomatic missions. In my opinion, Gosar, if he goes through with his plan to boycott the Pope’s address to Congress next Thursday, is failing miserably in his duty. In fact, it is a true dereliction of duty in my opinion.

What is truly ironic about this is that Gosar is Catholic. Obviously, I would never nominate Gosar for being congressman of the year. I will, however, make a case that Gosar is probably one of the 535 reasons why Congress is so “Do Nothing.” Whenever somebody has a different opinion, rather than respecting that others have the right to their opinion, that some type of compromise has to take place, these congress members, instead, just put their hands over their ears and start yelling, “La, la, la, la, la…I can’t hear you! La, la, la, la la!” Then they take all their marbles and go home. Nobody talks. Nothing gets done.  “Do nothing.”

 

References:

“Arizona congressman to boycott pope’s address over climate change stance,” the guardian

“Why I Am Boycotting Pope Francis’s Address to Congress,” Time

“Paul Gosar,” Wikipedia

Weighing the Different Levels of Stupidity

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I was unfortunate enough to see this disturbing billboard in my Facebook newsfeed recently:

DEMOCRAT: a person too stupid to know that they are a communist

The billboard then went on to further its attack:

DUMB DEMOCRATS NEED TO WAKE UP!!! What part of Communism don’t you understand? There’s nothing more closed than a liberal mind…

I’m guessing the part of “communism” that Democrats don’t understand is much different than the part that the poor intellectuals who thought this gem up don’t understand since all the Democrats I know believe in free enterprise and are not very prone to totalitarianism like most actual communists all too often are.

What is most irritating about this distasteful message is the circumstance under which I had to witness it.   It was not too long after I posted a brief comment to Facebook indicating how condescending attitudes need to change if we expect our political process to work again. Obviously, some of my Facebook friends seem to think not less but more condescending (and more excessively obnoxious) attitudes are required.

Sentiments like the ones found in the billboard described above may galvanize their target audience but they also alienate people like me, moderates who have had in the past voted for Republicans. The amount of disgust generated in me by that posting is hard to describe in words but it is enough to make me never, ever want to consider voting for another Republican ever again. Why would I ever vote for another Republican if there is a chance they all suffer from such small minded ideas like the ones articulated in that billboard? Also, why would any rational, respectable, responsible person ever think this is an acceptable message to propagate let alone to legitimately think?

While the ideas expressed in the statements of this billboard are riddled with foolishness if not just for the amount of irony they contain, the more important point is that this is exactly the type of thing we can do without in a country that has prided and built itself on compromise. These statements are not only absurd but they apparently demonstrate the limited thinking capacity of the “Right Wing” (assuming the “Right Wing News”, the group sponsoring this billboard, is representative of the “Right Wing” of the Republican Party). Resorting to name calling is quite a simpleminded thing to do but, undoubtedly, juvenile.

The people responsible for the sentiments in this billboard and anybody who has a propensity to find them even remotely appealing are beyond hope. They really have no conceptual understanding that if you insult and offend people with absurd comments lacking in intelligence but plentiful in the amounts of disdain and innuendo they can carry, you are not very likely to achieve any type of productive resolution to anything. In a country built on compromise to finding workable solutions to political problems, such a failure is unforgivable but extremely dangerous to our country’s very existence as a nation.

There are people who really do need to “wake-up.” They are the people who think that the other guy must be the dumbest person around because he doesn’t think like the orthodox men like themselves. And when you really start to think about it: just how smart is it to think that you have all the answers while everybody else who disagrees with you has none of the answers? How many times in history have we seen people who have correctly evaluated the natural order of their environment only to be ridiculed by those who were so sure that their own erroneous view of the world was so much better?

For example, how about we consider the people who advocated that the earth was round or that the earth revolved around the sun? How about we consider how much they were ridiculed by the “Right Wing” of their day? While I am not really proposing that the Democrats have anything in their platform that is as illuminating as some great scientific discovery, the point is that you tend to miss things when you are so clouded by your own orthodox notions of how things are. These unbending absolutes being assumed can and often do prevent you from considering the merits of the other argument being made.

The bottom line is these billboards do nothing to help the dialog that needs to happen between the political parties but, in fact, they only serve to widen the divide making it almost impossible to have any type of discussion at all. This particular instance is the most offensive I have ever encountered. It doesn’t just attack leaders of the opposition party, it attacks the multitude of American citizenry who are the members of the Democratic Party–a party that has a long proven history of promoting the interest of the common man, standing up against tyranny, totalitarianism, including communism, and those who would seek to end our freedom, liberty and religious tolerance.

It really is time to “wake-up” to the notion that we need to promote a more courteous, respectful, less condescending and less confrontational approach to politics if we really expect to get anything done in this country. Doing anything else; now, that really would be “stupid.”

A New Edict of Milan in America

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Tolerance needs to begin with us and we need to start by recognizing that baseless, absurd conclusions with the intent to invoke emotional responses from its target audience is the reason why intolerance begins to take shape in the first place.  I recently ran across an article entitled, “Repealing the Edict of Milan: Obama as the Anti-Constantine,” written by either Ralph H. Sidway or Raymond Ibrahim (it’s not entirely clear which), that indicates Obama is the Anti-Constantine because he, supposedly, refuses to help the Syrian Christians against the horrific persecution they are suffering at the hands of ISIS. The argument made is weak containing unconvincing evidence that is irrelevant or inconclusive, full of emotion, yet; still, it will have no problem appealing to a conservative audience anyway.

This idea that Obama is the Anti-Constantine only adds to the intolerance (the intolerance and disdain Republicans have towards Democrats). It does nothing in the way of offering a real compromising solution so that, perhaps, we really can make a change in the Middle East forward towards a fully realized state of religious tolerance. Secondly, the “Edict of Milan,” while an important concept in the formation of our own country’s ideas towards religious tolerance, did not really exist as a historical event.

There was no real edict made in Milan. What is often referred to as being the “Edict of Milan”, instead, was a letter by the Emperor Licinius distributed to the eastern provinces in 313. Although, Constantine’s name may have been referenced in the letter, it was not written by Constantine. Dr. Timothy Barnes states in his book, “Constantine: Dynasty, Religion and Power in the Later Roman Empire:

“The surviving document often falsely called the ‘Edict of Milan’ is in fact a letter which Licinius sent successively in 313 to the governor of each province of Aisia Minor, the Syrian region and Egypt as they came under his control after he defeated Maximinus.”

In fact, Barnes makes the case that intolerance was nurtured by Constantine in his later reigning years as he consolidated power, as he began to embrace Christianity more fully and as he steered the empire towards a more totalitarianism solution to the problem of governing. So, the premise that Obama is the Anti-Constantine doesn’t make much sense if the intent of “Repealing the Edict of Milan: Obama as the Anti-Constantine” is to prove Obama approves of totalitarianism and intolerance.

How about we make real inroads towards tolerance? For example, let’s respect each other’s politics, quit making inflammatory remarks about the opposition and then sit down at the table and talk about how we can make this world a better place that includes more tolerance (much more tolerance, including the concept that the parties begin to tolerate each other more respectfully than has recently been the case).

What Congress Needs Now is Another Folk Singer

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A President who demonstrates a good understanding of International Relations and Foreign Policy has always been an important consideration for me when I judge Presidential performance. Familiarization with Gunboat Diplomacy, the Marshal Plan, the Japanese surrender at Pearl Harbor along with the role America played in Japan’s and Europe’s reconstruction efforts, world history and, specifically as it relates to today, the history of the Middle East (both ancient and current), I feel is an absolute requirement for any office holder of the Presidency. A comprehensive grasp of the importance of the idea that order and security cannot be accomplished without the threat of calculated and effective enforcement also needs to be a demonstrable attribute of any President.

But, I also think it is important that all our leaders, notably congressional leaders, have a good understanding of the history of Foreign Relations. They should have a good understanding of the protocol used in our own form of government as it pertains to International Relations. So, whatever I might think of the President’s foreign policies, how I might question them, I would not, for one instance, assume that, if I were a ranking member of congress, say for instance, the Speaker of the House, it would be OK for me to invite a head of state from another country to speak in front of congress without informing the President nor would I do so without first seeking his approval. That is just not the message we want to send to other countries and it is certainly not a wise precedent we would or should ever want to set.

While America is a free country where free speech is an honored, sacredly held component, we should also use a certain amount of common sense. But, instead, what I see in congress today: a whole lot of people running around without a whole lot of common sense or good judgment rattling around in their heads. Apparently, this observation of mine now extends to the Speaker of the House who, until this most recent event, I considered one of the few members of congress possessing some measure of this most needed commodity.

I’m an American First

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Politics in America really does need an attitude adjustment. I stumbled upon this somewhat humorous Facebook page the other day: “Republicans for Obama.” Is that an oxymoron if you ever saw one? At first, I thought this was a promising, hopeful page until I started to read some of the postings.

The page turned out to be just another polarized forum for dissing the other party. I suppose I was expecting something a little more tongue-in-cheek, something a little less condescending; something that would spotlight the nonsense of our current American political climate. But, I was wrong. It was just adding to the nonsense.

I tend to doubt there really are any Republicans for Obama but, I suppose, it is not out of the realm of possibilities when I consider my own disposition towards politics and the importance of respecting any office holder who has been duly elected to a governing public position such as the Presidency and no matter whether that officeholder is Republican or Democrat. It is only common sense that after an election period is over; highlighting what is common between the two parties will serve to produce more functional and effective government.

Focusing on what is common between the parties will make us a stronger nation and afford us the ability to facedown foreign and domestic enemies efficiently and effectively. But, unfortunately, that’s not what we have today. What we have today are two parties at each other’s throats and a media machine doing everything in its power to make sure that never changes. The result: unending government stagnation. So, this extreme unproductive hostility one party has towards the other caused me to start thinking about how is it that American politics has steered so far off course from the vision our forefathers had originally intended?

President Washington, in his Farewell Address, warned: “Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.” Washington then proceeds to outline, convincingly, the points explaining why political parties in America are his major concern. Washington was a brilliant general, a brilliant President, a brilliant leader and a brilliant man. I think, sometimes, this brilliance is often overlooked by most people except for maybe a few historians. Washington’s warning goes to the core of my own belief that no matter what party you belong to, you cannot let the sword of partisan beliefs destroy the unity of our common belief in American liberty, justice, freedom and democracy. But, as far as I can tell, that is exactly what has been happening in today’s version of American politics.

We really need to steer away from focusing on the negative. We need to steer towards refocusing our efforts on the positive. As Americans, we need to resist being manipulated by emotional tactics based upon distorted facts and innuendo. There are many more attributes the two parties have in common with each other than they don’t. Highlighting the disagreements does nothing positive when considering how to effectively govern our country.

As seen with today’s congress, the constant negative back-and-forth accusations one party puts forth against the other party does not allow us to move forward and, furthermore, it really is unacceptable in a nation that expects to exist as the protector of democratic and republican ideals; ideals that both parties claim to value so much. In fact, this divided state we find ourselves in is threating our very existence. It is making it easy for our enemies by allowing them to take advantage of this puzzling vulnerability we have decided to own.

For example, consider what has happened with the Ukraine and the Middle East. Blaming the other party or individuals in the other party is unacceptable in a time of crisis. Forgetting about blame and concentrating on an effective response by working together is the only acceptable way to behave. Anything else is a selfish, self-destructive and juvenile response in my mind just short of treason.

You cannot value your party so much that it prevents you from paying attention to the greater concerns of our nation. Party politics is not more important than the United States of America. We need to take President Washington’s warning more seriously. I am an American first. My party affiliation always comes second. If you are an American and value being an American citizen, what I am advocating is that you embrace the idea that we all need to become Americans first.