Friday, November 9, 2012

Principled vs. Partisan

Principled, adjective... 1. (of a person or their behavior) Acting in accordance with morality and showing recognition of right and wrong.

Partisan, noun... 1. A firm adherent to a party, faction, cause, or person; especially: one exhibiting blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance.

I find it fascinating that the term "partisan" is bandied about so much. Truly, to be a "partisan" is a negative thing. Blind adherence to a political party is beyond dangerous. It was partisanship that allowed Nazism to rise so prominently and quickly. Many people were willing to turn a blind eye to a lack of principle in favor of the party.

I notice, however, that people are quick to accuse others of "partisanship" when what they really mean is "principled." An unwillingness to compromise on basic principles does not equal partisan behavior -- it's principled behavior, which is something we should all desire in our elected officials. How does one, in good conscience, compromise on issues of life? Of liberty? These compromises should not be made. Being willing to compromise on fiscal theory is different. There's nothing unprincipled about saying, "Look -- we'll do it your way for now and see how things go. We can revisit this conversation later if it doesn't turn out the way you hope."

Truth be told, when it comes to fiscal issues, there are partisans on both sides. I, personally, do not think that compromise (in the true sense of the word) is the answer. It makes much more sense to say, "Hey. We'll do it your way. Then we'll try it my way. In the end, we'll see which way works the best." It's like having a debate where one person wants cooked chicken and the other prefers it raw. One could argue that cooking it half way is better than not cooking it at all, but in the end the one ingesting it is likely to be sick.

I think that unfettered capitalism, while having problems if its own, is the best way to a prosperous nation. It can be argued that having fettered capitalism is preferable to socialism, and socialism is preferable to communism, etc... But I would argue that giving way to fettered capitalism ends up giving way to socialism. And socialism, as a theory, is actually designed to be the stepping stone to communism.

If the Republican party wishes to remain so partisan as to compromise principle in order to gain and/or maintain power, so be it. I no longer identify myself as a Republican when speaking to others anyway. I am independent of any party because I think they both have come to worry more about party than principle.

I do wish, however, that the American people weren't so anxious to see their politicians joining hands and singing Kumbaya while walking off a fiscal cliff. It would be much more honorable for one side to try and hold the other back. Or turn in a different direction. Or at least begin construction on a bridge.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Post Election

The election is over and Republicans everywhere are dealing with a big loss. I, personally, am dealing with a sense of frustration -- and an overall feeling of resignation.

Here's what I know: Barack Obama is not a great president. Frankly, there are not too many people in the US who believe that he is. People all over the country are frustrated with the economy, with bits and piece of Obama's foreign policy, and with various other issues. Granted, people frustrated with Obama's foreign policy come from opposite ends of the spectrum -- some are frustrated because he hasn't gone one direction and others frustrated because he hasn't gone another. But basically most are frustrated.

But he's back in again. Four more years of this garbage.

I had an overall feeling of resignation after the Republican primaries as well. They threw Romney up there and I thought -- NOOOOOO! Romney is NOT a conservative politician. I was forced to, again, choose between "liberal" and "liberal-lite." I was so frustrated. But I still went to the polls to vote for "liberal-lite." While Romney was running, though, he spoke some conservative thoughts... and ran as someone I didn't believe him to be. Wow... you know what the Republican party is going to take from this election, right? They're going to say, "See??? We ran as conservative and the American people don't want that... so we're going to have to run some more liberals for office. THAT'S what the American people want." And again, in the future, there will be two candidates put forward to the American people from which to choose... with not too many differences between them.

But now we have a Republican controlled House, a Democrat controlled Senate, and Obama in the White House. The Republicans in the House will do more compromising this time around, taxes will go up, and Americans everywhere are going to be hit harder. Frankly, with the amount of money I am spending on gas and groceries, I don't know how most Americans are making it. Oh... wait. I do... 47 million Americans are on food stamps. 49 percent of Americans live in households that receive direct government assistance (including Social Security and Medicare recipients), and 35 percent of Americans are on means-tested assistance (food stamps, Medicaid, housing assistance, etc...).

Looking at the above numbers, one can feel a bit daunted. Add to that the fact that 47 percent of Americans don't pay any income tax at all and one can feel downright overwhelmed.

How long can the "wealthy" be soaked to give gifts to others? And don't tell me they're all poor -- they're not. I know people who are on the public dole via "unemployment benefits" who are milking the system for all its worth... they're retired because they were laid off close to retirement, but in order to continue to collect their unemployment checks, all they have to do (legally) is enroll at the community college. So... what are a few classes? They can do that - no problem. I have also heard of people who are on food stamps. Perhaps they legitimately needed help at one time, but they are now employed and can afford their own food -- but they still qualify for the program and so they stay on it.... while also being able to qualify for a mortgage for a very nice house, thank you very much.

The way that people think and behave is a mess. And, unfortunately, it's going to continue. And it's apparently going to get worse. See, people have figured out that they can vote in the person who's going to keep the money coming. They've bought into the idea that there's actually money there to give when there isn't any. When people are interviewed on the street and they say they're going to vote Obama because he gives them money and phones "from his stash," you know we're in trouble. And we're all to blame. Our education system stinks, we've not held up our end of the bargain when it comes to being invested in our children -- staying involved in their lives and invested in what they're learning. I hate to say it, but Americans everywhere are completely lacking in character and it shows in our system as a whole.

This is not something that can be fixed politically. So what can we do?

Keep talking. Engage people around us in thoughtful conversation that's rooted in logic.

Be a positive influence on the next generation. Do you have any idea how many kids are out there floundering with no one to guide them? Be a second mom or dad to those kids. Heck, be a FIRST mom or dad to them if you can!

Don't be too intimidated to stand for what is right. There are so many people who will try to "win" an argument by making you uncomfortable rather than by making sense. Don't allow yourself to feel uncomfortable -- and keep turning conversations back to "making sense."

Never, ever give up. No matter how impossible it all seems.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Not Quite As Dumb, But Still...

I have a bone to pick with my fellow pro-lifers in the Republican party. I am as pro-life as you can get. Really. When it comes to abortion, I think there should be an exception for the life of the mother -- and that's it. I'm quite firm on that, and I have no trouble understanding how someone else could think the same way that I do.

But what I don't understand is... why in the hell can't my fellow pro-lifers running for office articulate their own views in a way that makes sense?? When Todd Akin spoke about rape and abortion, I wanted to slap him. If that man sincerely believed that a woman's body knows how to shut down her own reproductive system if the sperm inserted wasn't really wanted, his intelligence really needs to be called into question. And, frankly, one bonehead in the crowd is probably to be expected.

But now Mourdock stepped in it, too. Granted, not quite as stupidly... but he certainly didn't articulate his views in a way that would be compelling. He was asked in a debate about his views on abortion, and he said he believes that it should be illegal except in the case where the mother's life is in danger. He went on to explain, "I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God. And I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen."

Oh, my.

So, of course, the feminists are up in arms because Mourdock thinks that God intended the rape to happen... and this somehow makes it okay. And no, that's not what he said - nor is it what he meant to say - but that doesn't really matter.

Here is the deal. I believe that life is precious. It is valuable. The value of a life is not determined by its age, its location, or its origination. If I am pro-life, but I'm willing to make an exception on the value of a life in the case of rape, then I'm saying that a life created in that way is somehow less valuable than another life.... it's less worthy of protection. I am pro-life because I believe that life begins at conception. If there is no difference in the value of a life by age, and we allow for a difference because of how that life originated, then logic would say that anybody who is born as a result of rape (yes, it does actually happen that some mothers will carry the baby to term) is somehow less valuable for their whole life. I reject that idea.

Please... can we have some pro-life people run for office who have thought out their position on the issues clearly and are able to articulate them? Please??

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Blame Game

A search for "Who blames whom for Benghazi" turned up some interesting results. Top results are:

1. Susan Rice Blames Bad Benghazi Intelligence
2. Obama Blames the Girl - Hillary Takes the Fall
3. David Axelrod Blames State Department
4. White House Blames State Department

And my personal favorite, number 5...

Jay Carney Blames Republicans for BenghaziGate.

You had to know that was coming, right? The article is from, and is written by Renee Nal. It says, "Jay Carney was asked about Vice President Joe Biden's statement on additional security requests by Benghazi staff at his press conference on Friday. Carney blamed Republicans in general, and Congressman Paul Ryan in particular, for 'politicizing' the issue to make President Obama look bad. Even worse, he blamed Republicans for denying funding for U.S. embassy security. This oft repeated statement about Embassy funding needs a fact check." Methinks that Obama doesn't need Ryan's help to make him look bad.

Jim Carney in his press conference: "This president is very concerned about the safety and security of diplomatic personnel around the world. One way to measure that is in the budget priorities that he has put forward in his budgets. And what he has done is fought every year to restore funding for diplomatic security that has been slashed by Republicans especially in the House, including Congressman Ryan."

One thing that bothers me about politicians and their spokespeople is how they cannot ever seem to just answer a question forthrightly. In this press conference, Jay Carney is asked by a reporter, "Are you saying on Libya that, basically, the buck stops with the State Department on security then - it doesn't stop with the White House?" Carney answers, "Well, that's unartful made-for-television phrasing, Ed, but the fact of the matter -" The reporter interrupts with, "...that basically, he doesn't make those assessments is what you're saying." Carney says, "There are thousands of diplomatic personnel around the world, there are countless facilities around the world and I am saying that when it comes to the number of personnel who are in place at consulates and embassies and other diplomatic facilities around the world those decisions are appropriately made at the State Department by security personnel. When it comes to funding, yeah - this President fights to make sure that embassy security and diplomatic security is adequately funded - make sure that funding is restored when efforts on capitol hill are made principally by House Republicans including Congressman Ryan to slash it in order to cut taxes for the wealthiest 2% in this country - you bet, that's the President's responsibility and he has demonstrated that he has kept that responsibility."

OyVEY. Really? The president's responsibility is funding?!? He's the Commander in Chief -- in charge of fighting for funding!! Go Barack!

The reporter wasn't quite finished... he went on to ask, "To be clear, you are saying from this podium that the President and the Vice President have never been briefed about the fact that security - more security - was needed in Benghazi. That you're saying that never in the Presidential daily briefing - never briefed." And Carney's answer... "What I'm saying is that matters of security personnel are appropriately discussed and decided upon at the State Department by those responsible for it. Obviously it is the case that everyone responsible for national security in this administration and those who I believe are knowledgable about it on capitol hill have long been aware of the fact that Libya is a dangerous place." Dance, dance, dance....

Then more talk about "classified information." It always cracks me up when things immediately become classified when they're evidence of a screw-up. Just sayin'.

I picture in my mind a cartoon I don't have the talent to draw... All the top officials in the current administration standing around, fingers pointing at one another until you get to the White House spokesman whose finger is pointed at Paul Ryan standing in the corner. You just gotta love it when there's a major snafu in the current administration, and their official position is that it's the fault of the running mate of the guy who's NOT in charge of anything. It would be really, really funny if it weren't so sad.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Please Talk Personally About This...

Well, the Vice Presidential debate certainly had more pizzazz than the first Presidential debate on the Democrat side, didn't it? Perhaps a bit more vice in it, too... Joe Biden's borderline personality disorder that shined throughout the debate was not something I found overly appealing. He started out openly mocking Ryan with his grins and giggles, then ventured into interruptions and a bit of anger... and then, when asked about religion he suddenly became very subdued and continued in that vein for the remainder of the debate.

With all that's going on in the world, I was fascinated by the foreign policy segments of the debate. I was thrilled that the debate opened with a question about the Benghazi scandal. But the debate became even more fascinating when the moderator (who did an excellent job, by the way) asked about the candidates' view on abortion and how they personally arrived at their stance.

Ryan's personal view on abortion appears to be strongly, strongly pro-life. He was clear that "the policy of a Romney administration will be to oppose abortions with the exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother." I think he was also clear that his personal feelings differ on what the Romney administration's formal policy would be. Ryan is not personally in favor of exceptions for rape and incest. He explained himself in this way:

"All I'm saying is, if you believe that life begins at conception, that [rape and incest], therefore, doesn't change the definition of life. That's a principle. The policy of a Romney administration is to oppose abortion with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother."

So Ryan's personal view on abortion is that he stands by the principle that life is sacred and should be respected. Terminating a life, at any stage, is murder and he opposes it. How that life is created does not change the principle that life is sacred. He is not willing to bend his logic to serve a political purpose. He is, however, willing to serve in an administration which does not see things the same way. Fair enough.

Biden answered the question with a few contortions. Here is his answer in its entirety:

"My religion defines who I am, and I've been a practicing Catholic my whole life. And has particularly informed my social doctrine. The Catholic social doctrine talks about taking care of those who - who can't take care of themselves, people who need help. With regard to - with regard to abortion, I accept my church's position on abortion as a - what we call a (inaudible) doctrine. Life begins at conception in the church's judgment. I accept it in my personal life.

"But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the - the congressman. I - I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that - women they can't control their body. It's a decision between them and their doctor. In my view, and the Supreme Court, I'm not going to interfere with that. With regard to the assault on the Catholic church, let me make it absolutely clear, no religious institution, Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic Social Services, Georgetown Hospital, Mercy Hospital, any hospital, none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact.

"Now with regard to the way in which the - we differ, my friend says the he - well I guess he accepts Governor Romney's position now, because in the past he has argued that there was - there's rape and forcible rape. He's argued that in the case of rape or incest, it was still - it would be a crime to engage in having an abortion. I just fundamentally disagree with my friend."

This is fascinating to me. It sounds so politically acceptable. So beautiful. So complete. What a good man -- Biden hates abortion, he accepts the teaching of his church like a good Catholic boy should. However, he recognizes that he should not be imposing his beliefs and his views on others, unlike his opponent... except that he does impose his views on others. Just look at how the Catholic social doctrine talks about taking care of those who can't take care of themselves! In that respect, Biden feels completely justified in imposing the Catholic doctrine on others through income redistribution. No problem there.

Being a staunchly pro-life person myself, I'm perfectly fine with the position that Ryan has taken. I would have to answer the question in much the same way. If I were running for office alongside a person who was pro-life with exceptions, I would have to say that the administration's policy was going to be with exceptions but my personal belief is that abortion is wrong except when it's being done to prevent the imminent death of the mother.

I do think that Ryan dropped the ball just a little bit in his information about abortion later, though. When the moderator asked him, "If the Romney-Ryan ticket is elected, should those who believe that abortion should remain legal be worried," he answered, "We don't think that unelected judges should make this decision; that people through their elected representatives in reaching a consensus in society through the democratic process should make this determination." This answer is great, but incomplete. Much of the American public is under the impression that if Roe vs. Wade were to be overturned by the Supreme Court, abortion would be outlawed throughout the land. This is just patently false. If Roe vs. Wade were to be overturned, this would only send us back to individual states legislating as they saw fit. If the federal government were to begin to enact legislation regarding abortion (which absolutely some would try), then the argument could be made that the federal government was overstepping its bounds.

All in all, the Vice Presidential debate was interesting to watch. I enjoyed, in my own twisted way, watching it. I really do find our political process wretchedly fascinating. Oftentimes the emphasis would be placed on wretchedly, but it's fascinating nonetheless.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Not So New Low

Did you hear? Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (really don't get that name, but hey -- whatcha gonna do?) was arrested. The silly little man thought he could get away with mocking Mohammed. Not on THIS President's watch!! No, siree... I mean, the Obama administration tried first to get YouTube to remove the offending piece... and that didn't work. I guess the power just isn't quite there. But the US Attorney's office can and did arrest the nasty piece of work who made the film! Granted, they had to figure out some sort of charge they could use... how about violation of parole? Great!

Nakoula's been a bad, bad boy before. Using aliases, dealing drugs, stealing money... he knows how to get things done. So apparently he's a parolee. Lots of rules by which to live for this man. And, apparently, he's not supposed to have access to the internet as one of his terms - nor is he allowed to use aliases. (Seems a teensy silly to me, but whatever.) So they nail him for the use of an alias and haul him off. He gets in front of a judge for his preliminary and the judge rules that he be held without bail. For a parole violation?? Seriously? Apparently so.

The judge decided that Nakoula has a pattern of deception and that he represents a danger to the community. Frankly, so does everyone in Washington DC, but I digress.

So here's the picture I see. A goober of a man doesn't like Islam. (I don't care for Islam as a religion either, but I'm not as big a goober.) He decides to make fun of it with a film which is posted over the summer, and is admittedly done in poor taste. He apparently doesn't like his name and uses a plethora of other names under which to conduct all manner of business. (Really, considering his given name, one can hardly blame the man on this point.)

In September, a number of Muslims attack our embassy in Libya, killing our ambassador along with others. For some reason, the film is brought up as the lightning rod causing the entire thing.

The Obama administration tries to strong arm google and has no success. They then go after Mr. Goober and lock him up. Now the whole cast and crew for the low budget film are going public with how upset they are, how they were duped into making the film, that they had no idea it was made to make fun of Islam, etc... Apparently, the film was originally going to be about "how things were 2000 years ago in Egypt." And do you know why these actors and actresses are so vocally protesting? I'll bet it's because they're afraid of being knifed in the street due to their involvement.

I don't believe that the unrest in the middle east is because of this stupid film. That's just the most ludicrous theory I have ever heard in my life. I do believe, though, that Americans are afraid of what the Muslims can and will do. Even our current administration is either afraid of the Muslims or complicit in their actions.

In what way, pray tell, is Nakoula a "danger to the community" except for what other actions some Muslims might take because of Nakoula's behavior? Frankly, the fact that so many Americans are willing to blame this goober of a man for the bad behavior of so many Muslims is the really frightening thing. Allowing ourselves to be controlled by a volatile minority is foolish. Stifling free speech because there are some people out there who might start a riot if you say the wrong thing is terrible policy. And locking a man up on a parole violation with no bail is way over the top.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Arab Winter

So I've heard talk from some people about what's going on in the Arab world... a dead US Ambassador, an accusation of "hate speech" because of a film made (that's hardly worthy even of being called a "film"), how it all comes together and who or what is to blame. The talk goes something like this: Hate speech is bad... so bad, actually, that even if they aren't the ones who are committing acts of violence, they are (at least partially) to blame for any violence that ensues. Therefore, if we only stop the haters, everybody could just get along.

I have, to say the least, a few problems with this line of thinking. While the folks voicing these opinions certainly mean well, it seems a bit naive and one-sided.

First of all, the idea that the movie makers are the haters inciting violence and if they would just stop making movies the violence would stop is naive. The violence in the Muslim world started LOOOOOONNNG before that movie was even dreamt up by the producers. It could, in fact, be argued that the movie producers thought of the movie idea because of the violence perpetrated in the name of Islam -- if we wanted to argue in that fashion (which we really don't).

The idea is one-sided because this idea is not mentioned by the same people when, say, an abortion clinic is bombed (okay, not that this is really happening much anymore, but still -- roll with me on this). These same people wouldn't ever say that the doctor's actions (i.e., killing unborn children) incited the violence -- so don't they share the blame? Or, another example would be rape. Would these same people ever say that a woman who was scantily clad incited her rapist? Of course not. OR... what if some moron opened fire on some employees of Bill Maher, saying that his hate speech was just too much and they had to kill him? Could it be said that Bill Maher actually shares the blame for this action? I really don't think that they would argue such a thing.

The reason they wouldn't argue in that way is two-fold. First of all, they don't find Bill Maher's speech to be totally offensive. I happen to find the man repulsive and full of hate, but many people don't see him that way -- and that's okay. The other reason they wouldn't argue that way is because the argument makes no sense. Seriously. Nobody is responsible for my actions but me. Nobody can make me do something. I am a person who operates with my own free will. Likewise, nobody can make the Arab people do something stupid -- regardless of how stupid or offensive something is. And believe me, that movie was certainly offensive. I'm not anything close to a Muslim and I was offended by the preview. Of course, I'm also offended by the history of Islam -- which doesn't help.

Yes, I said it. I am offended by Islam. There you go. And not only that, but Islam is totally offended by me. I'm not a Muslim. They tend to find that offensive -- or they're supposed to, anyway. See, here's the thing. It doesn't matter that I'm offended. And it shouldn't matter that they're offended. Our western civilization demands that we play nice. In fact, some of us demand so strongly that they say it's our fault the other side is playing seriously dirty if we didn't play nicely enough. I don't buy it -- and here's why... the Arab "civilization" (I use the term loosely) doesn't demand any such thing. No playing nice, no respecting of differences, not even a "you deserve to exist, too." Uh-uh.

So... I can play nice - for the most part. But I can't pretend not to find Islam offensive. I just do. And I can't accept the idea that it's anybody's fault but the Arabs' that Arabs are running around killing people and burning down our embassies. I'm sorry -- but that's just not an idea to which I can subscribe.