Monday, January 11, 2016

Obama's Foreign Policy Explained...Sort of.

Like most sane Americans, I've been wondering what the hell our Administration has been thinking in terms of foreign policy, especially in the Middle East.  Lets briefly look at what has happened, under Pres. Obama's watch:

We start with the Obama/Clinton support of the efforts to remove Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian strongman who was also an ally to the United States.  After turning their backs on a long-time US ally, the administration supported the Muslim Brotherhood, who began to enact a strict sharia-compliant, Islamist government in Egypt, a seeming contradiction to their campaign promises.  Not only that, but the US sent several pieces of top-notch military weaponry to the Muslim Brotherhood.  When the Egyptian military, led by current president al-Sisi, toppled the MoBroHood, our administration gave a pseudo-hissy fit.  They still haven't warmed relationships with al-Sisi (who has been working with Jordan and other Arab nations to actually defeat ISIS).

After Egypt and Tunisia fell to the "populist" forces of the Arab Spring, Libyan strongman, Muammar Gaddhafi, was the next figure to feel their wrath.  Gaddhafi was, like Mubarak, a US ally in the War on Terror having given valuable information on al Qaeda and other groups.  On the heals of a made-up report of atrocities by Gaddhafi forces (in other words, a lie), the president authorized (illegally, I might add, but John Boehner was too concerned about looking nice that he didn't do anything about it), air strikes on Gaddhafi targets and supplying weapons to "moderate rebel forces". Of course, as the fighting continued, those "moderate rebel forces" actually were identified as al Qaeda affiliates (in other words, foreign enemies of the United States, which makes the effort to supply them, according to the definition in the US Constitution, "treason"), and we continued to supply them anyway.

**Side note, and partially relevant: investigate reporters have identified two significant storylines concerning Libya.  First, Gaddhafi and the European nations had come to an agreement rather early on in the conflict which would have provided a peaceful transition of power from Gaddhafi to a secular group.  The agreement needed US approval, and the US did not approve, and continued to supply the "rebels" with arms and air-support.  Eventually Gaddhafi was murdered.  Second, recently released information, noted by The Blaze's For the Record investigators, link the US's attempt to remove Gaddhafi with a Pan-African movement that included a single gold-backed currency for all of Africa.**

Soon after the Arab Spring set Libya on fire, the inferno engulfed Bashar al-Assad's Syria.  Of course, unlike Libya, in which the rebel groups morphed into radical Islam-centered groups, the insurgency in Syria was initiated by the terror-inducing Islamic groups, like al-Nusra Front, and was supported by the Muslim Brotherhood.  In a typical about-face, the Obama administration (which was friendly with Assad prior to the "Arab Spring") sought to remove Assad.  While not getting approval to use force, the president decided to send arms to the "moderate Syrian rebels".  That conflict is still on-going, and we know how that turned out: "moderate Syrian rebels", which were basically jihadist terror groups with a good PR team, obtained US weapons and continued to terrorize the Syrian countryside, while the Syrian forces fought back, likewise terrorizing the countryside (though the non-Muslim residents say that Assad's forces were much less terror-inducing).  From the "moderate Syrian rebel" forces sprung ISIS, which soon captured huge swaths of land in both Syria and then Iraq, further deteriorating an already nasty situation.

While ISIS terrorized the entire Middle East, threatening innocent civilians in Iraq and Syria and murdering non-combatants from other countries, our president's biggest concern was lifting sanctions on the completely untrustworthy and incredibly belligerent Iranians, allowing them to "legally" obtain nuclear weapons in a few years (if not earlier).  Even when it was abundantly clear that Iran, before even signing the "deal" had violated several provisions, the president did nothing.

Putting it all together
There are a good many theories behind what has transpired.  

1) Its all about the money...well, Saudi money.  Saudi Arabia has been HUGE financial supporters of both President Obama and Hillary Clinton (well, her "Foundation", which is really, it appears, looking like a slush-fund).  Saudi Arabia is a Wahhabist (Sunni) Islamic nation, with some of the most sharia-compliant legal codes in the world.    In all areas where the "Arab Spring" occurred, secular governments that suppressed Islamic fundamentalist groups were in power.  These governments proved to be less amenable to Saudi demands, most especially Syria.  With Saudi-backed Sunni groups in control, Saudi Arabia could extend its oil and gas hegemony into Europe via a pipeline, and thus break Russia's stranglehold on the O&G markets. Further, Gaddhafi nationalize Libya's oil industry.  With a Sunni government, the Saudi's could, essentially, control that oil as well.

2) Gaddhafi's economic policies threatened to cost global bankers huge sums of money, so he had to go.  It just so happens that Obama is closely linked with several officials of global financial institutions.  In this scenario, Barry's big donors would serve to lose billions if a gold-backed African currency arose.  This, of course doesn't explain Iran, Syria, or Egypt.

3) Obama's puppet master, Valerie Jarret has both Iranian connections (she's Iranian born), and MoBroHood connections.  Hillary Clinton's long-time aide, Huma Abedin has family members that are MoBroHood officials.  Thus, our administration followed policy that would benefit those non-American interests.

None of those, however, explain the ENTIRETY of events.  But there is something that connects all of them, and even includes domestic issues as well.  I thought of the idea while listening to Rush Limbaugh (which I don't do very often).  It wasn't Rush's idea, but a caller.  I don't exactly remember what he said, but it got me thinking about Marx' Communist Manifesto.  Marx believed that the Capitalists, or bourgeoisie, obtained their material wealth and success by exploitation, oppression, theft, etc.  Essentially, no wealth, according to Marx, could be obtained lawfully or legitimately.  Thus it was imperative and justified for the "Workers of the World, UNITE!!" to overthrow the bourgeoisie and fix society.

Strict Marxism isn't found much anymore.  Modern Marxists took the fundamental theories of Communism and spread them to nearly all walks of life: "liberation theology", "Marxist feminism", "Marxist race-theory", etc.  There is even a foundational theory among sociologists called "Conflict Theory" that is based on this idea of Marx's.  

Marx divided history between the "haves" and "have nots".  The "haves" universally obtained their success through oppression and malfeasance at the expense of the "have nots".  The only way to fix this problem is to forcibly remove the fruits of that success from the "haves" and distribute it to those who were oppressed.  

Using these ideas, lets apply them to the current administration.  First, the obvious: the US.  Since the late 1800s, and throughout the 20th Century, the US has been the World's Superpower, especially since after WWII.  According to Marxist thought (and the President and all his administration were taught by Marxists), this success could only have been obtained through illegitimate means: all American success is ill-gotten.  This is the main reason why the president isn't concerned with "America winning", and why he apologizes every chance he gets.  He is actively trying to build up those nations (like China) whom he thinks the US victimized in order to reach Number 1, while at the same time, denigrate the US.  But it goes beyond that.

Since the end of the 1700s, Islam and Muslim nations have been dominated by Christianity and Christian nations.  Intellectually, the great Muslim thinkers like Averroes and Avicenna have been overshadowed by Aquinas, Augustine, Anselm, Kant, etc.  Great scientific discovery was found in Christian nations, by largely Christian scientists (the monk Gregor Mendel was the first to manipulate genetics, Jesuit astronomers confirmed Galileo's supposition that the galaxy was helio-centric, Isaac Newton's theory of gravity, as well as the calculus he developed, were the result of his belief in God) while scientific advancement that originated within Muslim lands is scant.  Aside from those advances, Christian nations had a much higher standard of living due to their modernized economic systems, and their military capabilities were vastly superior.  Rather than attribute the bulk of these differences to ideological differences between the two cultures/religions, Marxists like Obama and Clinton attribute these differences to purposeful oppression on the part of Christians (Marxism is inherently atheist: no religion has any importance, other than its usefulness in keeping the people mollified by their bourgeois controllers).  As such, Christianity and Christians must be taken down a notch or two (or destroyed completely, because Christianity is inherently opposed to Marxist presuppositions), and Islam and Muslims must be brought up.  Groups that have particular success or notoriety (such as the Catholic Church) will receive greater scorn and derision among the Marxist Left (hence the "contraception mandate", and groups that have "suffered" the most (like Shi'a Iran), must be supported the most.  Here is the glue, or underlying principle, of Obama's foreign policy: the support of Islam and Muslims at the expense of Christianity and Christians.  

This should be quite clear in many cases.  Take Egypt to start with.  Mubarak was a secularist, and under him, Coptic Christianity (which dates, like many Syrian Christian communities and many Eastern Catholic communities to the century after Christ) grew, while radical Islamic groups were suppressed (the MoBroHood was illegal under Mubarak).  To a Marxist, this is unacceptable.  By getting rid of Mubarak, the radical sects were given free-reign to terrorize the people, and it should be of no surprise that the Muslim Brotherhood made it policy to terrorize Christians.  Islam, in Egypt, was being allowed to dominate.

In Libya, the proposal that would have let Gaddhafi go peacefully allowed for a secular government to be established, and radical Islam would, again, be "oppressed".  While not the only reason for allowing Gaddhafi's murder, it was a factor.  There is a reason why the administration rushed to support radical Islamic "rebels" in Libya after a lie was propagated, and why it continued to support to radical Islamists after a less bloody path presented itself.

ISIS presents somewhat of a challenge here, unless you know your Middle East and European history.  At the tail end of WWI, the British and the French sought to remove the Ottoman Empire from the war so they could focus all their efforts on Germany.  To do so, they needed the support of the Arab princes.  Among them, it should be known, "Islamic fundamentalism" was already strong and thriving: the "radical Islamic" movement of Wahhabism began in Arabia in the late 1700s as a counter to the decline and "heresy" of Ottoman Islamic practice (namely, the cessation of the use of armed jihad against the infidel--the Ottomans had been making treaties and deals with Christian nations for centuries).  The British sent "Sir Lawrence of Arabia" to get the tribes on their side.  To do so, Lawrence promised the princes that they could establish their own state in the place of the Ottomans; the Arabs wanted a caliphate.  However, unbeknownst to Lawrence, the British and French reached an agreement, referred to as "Sykes-Picot" (or officially "The Asia Minor Agreement"), which established British and French "spheres of influence" over all formerly Ottoman lands.  It was further agreed that steps would be taken to prevent the establishment of a single, large, powerful and exclusively Islamic state (also know as a "caliphate") in the future.  To a Marxist, Sykes-Picot represents nothing more that Christian-capitalist oppressive imperialism into the Middle East.  To this end, the President will do nothing of any consequence, because a strong Islamic state is not a bug, its a feature.

Iran is a particularly interesting case.   The president has thrown, it seems, all his support behind the anti-American, anti-Israel mullahs in Iran, even against allies such as Saudi Arabia (we still haven't ceased the lifting of sanctions in response to Iran's actions against our ally Saudi Arabia).  Seeing as the President was raised Sunni, and Iran is Shia, AND that Saudi Arabia both supports the president AND Hillary Clinton, the president's support of Iran makes no sense.  Well, almost no sense.  Iran is predominately Shi'a Islam, which is not only a numerical minority within Islamic groups, but an intellectual and political minority as well.  Shi'a scholars have been neglected for their more famous Sunni counterparts, and Shi'a kingdoms have almost always been inferior to Sunni kingdoms.  The historical Persia, once the greatest empire on Earth, has been a historical backwater for centuries.  If a Marxist MUST choose sides between Muslim factions, the Shi'a would seem to be the most ideologically pure choice.

Syria is vital to the emergence of Saudi Arabia into the European O&G markets.  Currently, Russia, a Christian nation that has been actively re-Christianizing itself and linking its national identity with the Russian Orthodox Church, is (and has been) the dominant O&G force in Europe.  Thus, it is necessary that Assad be removed, so Saudi Arabia can establish a sympathetic Sunni radical government that will bend to its order to raise Saudi Arabia up at the expense of Russia.  You cannot mention Syria without the Syrian "refugees".  Glenn Beck started the Nazarene Fund to permanently relocate Christian families from Syria and Iraq to more favorable countries.  Nearly all the strongest and wealthiest European nations, the ones who have thrown open the doors to the Muslim "refugees" that have started riots and raped their women, refused any Christian refugees.  Even our own government has refused asylum to nearly all Christian or Yazidi applicants, while granting nearly 100% of Muslim applicants (with, it seems, little to no vetting).  ISIS has expressed an interest in removing Christianity from its region, and it appears that the Progressive, Marxist powers are in complete agreement.

Now, of Russia, this needs said:  Much has been made of Russia's forays into the Crimea, and its conflict with Ukraine, and it should be noted that much of that is oil and gas related.  There exist large gas-plays in the Crimean Sea, which could be vital to Ukraine's economic well as Russia's.  There is a reason why the President played golf while Vladimir Putin annexed the Crimea, and was engaged in a proxy war with Ukraine (I contend that Russian forces were NEVER engaged with Ukraine, but rather, Putin "donated" Russian equipment and advisers to the Russian-sympathizers, while many Russian citizens "volunteered" to fight on the sympathizers' behalf).  Currently, the US, thanks to major shale-gas plays in the Marcellus Region in the Northeast US (which many experts suggest could power the world for 50-100 years by itself), dominates the natural gas market.  Allowing Russia and Saudi Arabia to gain market share while at the same time making life difficult for oil & gas development in the US would accomplish two goals at once: denigrate the US economy by giving up market share, all while giving Russia and Saudi Arabia "their fair share".

 Summary--Boy is it needed
Certainly, political considerations cannot be ignored.  I'm not saying that Obama and Clinton have engaged in everything they have with the primary objective being the support of traditionally "oppressed" groups at the expense of traditionally successful groups.  I'm saying that as underlying Marxist mentality that says all success is ill-gotten and must be rectified is most certainly influencing everything that has gone on.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

2016, a Shallow Perspective, Part I

Woo hoo!  Another Presidential cycle is upon us!  Great.  

So far, we've got four confirmed candidates, with about 4 more waiting to jump in.  We've got plenty of time to analyze policy, throw mud, and lie about how awesome people are.  With that in mind, I'm going a different route: to review the current candidates from a shallow perspective. 

While yes, it is shallow, it is also important.  John F. Kennedy won his election in 1960 in large part because he appeared more "presidential" on the televised debates than did Richard Nixon.  Bill Clinton won in 1996 because, among other reasons, he was more appealing, looks wise, than his opponent.  Same was true in 2008.  It should be clear: how candidates present themselves is as important as what they say or what they've done.  So, that being said Part I:

Ted Cruz  Sen. Cruz was the first to announce.  His announcement speech was impressive, from a shallow point of view.  He didn't use any teleprompter, he spoke with passion, from the heart, and he spoke fluidly.  He knows what he's talking about.  He looked at ease and natural.  It should be obvious (but its not to many) that Cruz will be a formidable campaign opponent, simply because it won't be easy to best him in a debate.  However, from a completely shallow perspective, he's got some downfalls.  First, his voice...I'm not a big fan.  Second, he looks like he's slouching.  Not very presidential.  He's also not the most attractive of candidates.  He is, however, younger.  Younger is more appealing to voters: who wants a president that will croak mid-term? Overall, Shallow, Part I Grade: B.

Rand Paul Sen. Paul was the second to announce.  Like Cruz, he spoke well, and intelligently.  He's not a natural speaker, like Cruz, but he's a good one.  He's at ease with prepared remarks and off-the-cuff remarks.  In terms of looks, he's more "presidential" than Cruz.  He stands more straight, which is appealing.  His voice/sound is appealing in that it isn't hawty and he doesn't speak down; it has a "normal person" feel to it to make him more appealing to "everyday Americans".  His hair, though, doesn't help his cause.  Consider JFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush 43 all had hair that at the VERY LEAST didn't stand out.  I'm not sure Rand's mop passes that test.  Overall, Shallow Part I Grade: A-

Hillary Clinton Sec Clinton announced third...via video.  It'd didn't go over well.  I found it staged, not really genuine (it didn't help that she used people's images without their permission).  I found her voice less than appealing.  Historically, Sec Clinton has had issues concerning likeability, so much so that staffers and campaign personnel have been trotted out to say that what you see when she speaks, or interacts with people isn't really her...she's really the "life of the party".  Her voice is, shall we say, less than appealing.  She's got this mean, edgy side to its really hard to think she actually cares about the people she's trying to woo.  I'm also not a fan of her trademark pantsuits, plus, she hasn't aged well.  She was a relatively attractive first lady, and wasn't ugly as a Senator.  However, as Sec. State, and as a candidate, any physical appeal she may have had doesn't seem to be there.  Overall, Shallow Part I Grade: D+

Marco Rubio The fourth candidate to announce, Sen. Rubio has a lot going for him.  Unlike Sens Cruz and Paul, he's a natural politician.  In fact, I see a good many similarities, from a shallow perspective, between him and Bill Clinton in 1992: they're young, they're attractive, they relate well to the people, they have appealing stories to tell, and they interact well with the media.  Clinton was so well liked, that even Rush Limbaugh said he'd like to play golf with Clinton.  Rubio, to an extent, has the same feel.  Like Clinton, he speaks well, and can play a crowd.  His voice isn't annoying, but it isn't his strong point either.  It is, however, somewhat commanding, in that simply the way he speaks demands that he, or his opinions, should be heard.  Overall, Shallow Part I Grade: A-

Dr. Ben Carson  Very intelligent, and speaks well on his feet.  He carries himself well, which is always appealing.  He's younger and and generally good looking.  On a stage of world leaders, he would most certainly look like a world leader.  His voice, though, is weak.  If I'm in a cabinet meeting discussing pretty important policy issues, his voice doesn't have the oomph! to command respect.  Overall, Shallow Part I Grade: B+

Carly Fiorina The former CEO of Hewlett Packard has a lot going for her from a shallow perspective.  She's attractive, she's well spoken and thoughtful when she speaks, and carries herself well.  There is a reason she was a CEO.  Her voice is strong, and she exudes leadership.  Strictly in terms of "looks", she'd be an excellent first female president.  She looks strong, exudes confidences, yet seems approachable.  Overall, Shallow Part I Grade: A+

Elizabeth Warren Unlike Sec Clinton, Sen Warren is not off-putting.  While most certainly not a spring chicken, she doesn't look old.  She doesn't seem as rehearsed as Clinton. I'm not a big fan of the professorial aura, though.  I don't want a professor as president, I want a leader.  She doesn't look like a leader.  Overall, Shallow Part I Grade: B-

Martin O'Malley Gov. O'Malley, in terms of looks and only looks, has a strong "presidential" feel to him.  I haven't really heard his voice, so I can't testify to that.  I don't really like his mannerisms, though. Overall, Shallow Part I Grade: A-

Chris Christie Gov. Christie is a fat blowhard. No one wants a fat blowhard for president...although he makes for good TV.  Overall, Shallow Part I Grade: F

Jeb Bush I don't like Gov. Bush as a candidate on policy reasons.  He's not bad, though from a shallow perspective.  Sure, every other president since Carter looked trim and fit, while Jebbie is on the chunky side.  He speaks intelligently on almost any issue, and he does present himself as a leader.  His voice is "normal" in that it doesn't stand out as either annoying (Hillary) or outstanding (James Earl Jones).  I don't like his hair borders on Rand Paul territory.  Overall, Shallow Part I Grade: B-

As time goes on, maybe things will change.  Heck, the way it looks we'll a boatload of candidates.

Yeah fun.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The IRS thing isn't what you think...

I'm pleasantly surprised that its only been since October...I thought it was like March of last year.  Heh.

As to this IRS thing, this TOTALLY makes sense to me only because of the nature of the office itself.  I'll explain:

-  The IRS gathers financial and personal information from every person and group in the US.  As a result, its employees have access to more information on any one of us than any other office does during the normal course of business.  Sure, the CIA and FBI will gather info, but only if necessary, when a situation warrants.  However, it is the job of the IRS to gather information and then analyze and store that information. 

-  The IRS has human employees, which means that ethical mistakes are bound to happen.  From experience, I know that not everyone can be trusted with supposedly confidential information.  I can totally see individuals looking into information they shouldn't on people they know, people they hear about, etc.  They probably don't do anything with that information, but they've violated the ethical principle that an individual's personal information is the property of that individual.  In short, there are people who work at the IRS that are perfectly willing to look deeper than they should into our personal information.

Steve Miller, Head of IRS (for now)

-  In any operation, there are people who are go-getters, who go above and beyond the call of duty to provide a better service and make themselves more useful than the next guy.  They may notice that they have access to potentially useful information, and then begin to track that information, in the case it may be useful to their superiors.  In my experience, not every superior cares that such information is being tracked...but some do, and make a note of who was willing to put forth the effort.  When a time comes for need of such services, the superior knows where to go.  Summary: the IRS has people that are using other people's information as a means of career advancement.

-  In a famous experiment by Stanley Milgram, it was shown that people have a strong tendency to obey their authority figures, even if they know what they are being told to do is morally, ethically, and legally wrong.  Milgram and others postulated that their obedience had to do with fear (of retribution), blind trust (the authority must know what they are doing, right?), self-preservation (if I don't do this, my chances at getting a raise are slim) or detachment (just following orders, its the authority's fault for asking me).  Summary: the employees of the IRS, including its supervisors, will most likely obey orders from the higher ups.

Here we have a purely natural thing in which information is easily available, and people are willing to track certain things with the data available, and obey their superiors' requests.  This entire SYSTEM is set up for something like this to happen.  The Obama admin is NOT the first administration to use the IRS to intimidate, acquire dirt on, or investigate political opponents.  One of Nixon's impeachment articles referred to the use of the IRS to intimidate an opponent.  Under President Clinton, conservative personalities like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck were audited often.  I'm sure that under Bush, there was information being gathered on Code Pink and the like.  The question becomes, how complicit was the White House in any of it?

I'm not so sure much at all, at least in the previous administrations (excepting, of course, Nixon).  Its simple.  In the Bible, there are two stories about how servants of King David are punished for doing things ON THEIR OWN that they thought would be appreciated by the King (one of them includes the killing of the King's son, Absolom, who was in open insurrection).  During the reign of Henry II, four loyal knights murdered St. Thomas Beckett, assuming the king wanted him dead.  It isn't without precedent, therefore, that eager-to-please IRS agents would begin such activities, assuming their political bosses in the White House at the least, would turn a blind eye.  I'm quite certain that in every administration, there is someone within the IRS who thinks their doing The Boss a favor by starting an audit on a political opponent, or scrutinizing their returns a bit more closely.

To anyone paying attention, this current Administration has not been above intimidation to get what it wants.  It should surprise no one, then, that when it became clear that the IRS would be willing to help out, the Administration was more than willing to use all of its resources. 

As of this writing, I'm not convinced this was instigated by the White House, or the Treasury Dept.  I think it entirely logical that, seeing as this sort of thing is most likely common within the IRS, some go-getter on the rise suggested this, and the Administration jumped on it.  I could be wrong, though...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Killing the Cowboys, Debates, and Human Dignity

My take on the foreign policy debate and a little background story to set the stage:


I'm a Jets fan, so consequently the loathing I have for Bill Belichek, Tom Brady and the Patriots is intense...HOWEVER, one cannot deny the success they've enjoyed due to an excellently coached team and good QB (this sentiment is similar to my take on candidate dropped out of the race, and I'm not a Romney fan, but I have a healthy respect for his experiences). A few years ago, Uncle Screwtape (the Patriots) had a very successfull season in which, during the regular season, they defeated every opponenent. At one point in the season, Uncle Screwtape played Satan himself--The Dallas Cowboys. To summarize my take on this game, when Tom Brady and the rest of the starters were removed in the 3rd quarter, I was extremely displeased: I was hoping that Uncle Screwtape (that vile demon that he is), would thoroughly and entirely humiliate Satan by putting up 100 points on him. This desire reflected the absolute loathing I have for the Cowboys.


Thus was my hope for last night's debate: that Mitt would use the ample material provided to him by the president to simply annihilate the President, to publically humiliate him as payback for all he's done to America. Sometimes, however such a confrontation, while essentially necessary (currently, the biggest threat to national security isn't a nuclear Iran or Russia, but the incompetent presidential administration responsible for Fast and Furious and Benghazi-gate), isn't the right course of action.


When the softball question of Libya and Benghazi was tossed to Mitt, he took the pitch. I didn't know why, or what he was playing at. Mitt never used a killing shot to publically repudiate the president's glaring foreign policy incompetence. He didn't need to.


My impression of the debate was different than a lot of people's, from what I can see perusing the interwebs. I noticed some things during the debate that only came together at the end. First, I noticed that unlike debate 2 (and to a large part debate 1), Romney didn't interrupt the President often at all...unlike the President who consistently cut into what Romney said (how true this was or not, I don't know…this is just the impression I got). Second, Romney's focus was always on his vision, his message. He occasionally would criticize the President's poor record, but that wasn't his theme. Third, I noticed a certain facial expression on the President when Romney spoke concerning Pakistan and China, an expression I've seen on kids in the classroom when they are actually learning something. This wasn't a paying-attention-to-see-what-I-can-rebut look. This was rapt attention, soaking in what was being TAUGHT. Facial expressions don't lie: a career businessman was teaching the President of the United States things he didn't know about foreign policy. Third, near the end, Bob Schieffer NATURALLY started giving Romney more time to answer, and cut the president off. This was most pronounced during the last questions, when Romney appeared to speak the most, and Schieffer just kept asking him more and more, not even letting the President (who was, as I said, paying rapt attention to what Romney was saying) say much in rebuttal. This seemed natural to me, because it was exactly what I would have done. At that point in the debate, the president had nothing of value to add, nothing to add to the discussion.


During the closing statements, I realized what had happened, what I witnessed. There was an emotion behind Mitt Romney's voice: he was speaking from the heart, not talking points or regurgitated campaign stump speeches. At that point, I realized that Romney didn't need to humiliate the President. The debate started as a good give and take, the President making good points, Romney making good points, and was essentially a toss-up. By the end, that was not the case: Romney commanded the debate and set the tone. This has really nothing to do with substance or ideas, but presentation.

The president's actions toward his political opponent have not been atypical of his policies. His anti-terrorist policy is simply to kill people, as he seemingly admitted last night. He has no respect for human life of human dignity, save when it helps him—we need no more proof of this than his response to the Trayvon Martin case (in which he demonized George Zimmerman immediately), or Fast and Furious (in which his support of his DOJ and ATF is tantamount to approval). Thus, he has no problem with demonizing his opponent, making him appear somehow less than human. His entire campaign has revolved around the rich vs. poor meme, class warfare and class envy. He doesn't care if he accurately depicts Mitt Romney's policies or if he ridicules his opponent. At the end of the debate, Mitt Romney had not stooped to that level. He did not denigrate his opponent, he did not ridicule. He clearly presented his ideas, his perspective to the American people.


As I reflected on the final moments of the debate last night, I realized that my ambition, my desire made me no better than the President. I wanted him humiliated, publically and brutally. How is this any better than the President's willy-nilly killing of Afghanis, or letting Americans die in Benghazi because its "simply a bump in the road" and then lying about the actions to save face? Just like every single terrorist, President Obama is human person, and as such, does not deserve the public humiliation for his administrations ineptitude.


In short, despite his political shortcomings, it is clear that Mitt Romney was the better man last night. Not just better than the president, but better than me. He did something I wouldn't have done. He did the right thing.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The “Sin” of Progressivism

I saw this headline and started thinking.

At work, we've got quite a few individuals who are politically astute (which makes for fun conversation), and we've been discussing the difference between "liberals", "socialists", "Communists" and "progressives". Being the student of history that I am, the four terms are NOT interchangeable.

For one, "liberal" is a relative term, as a "liberal" strictly speaking, seeks change from the status quo. Seeing as the status quo is constantly changing, what is "liberal" in one decade is "conservative" or "radical" in another. Consider that a few short decades ago, what passes today as "conservative" was actually "liberal". Further, classical "liberalism" was for increased voting rights, small and limited government, and a free market, which are the bedrock of modern conservativism.

For another, while many use "socialist" and "communist" interchangeably, they are not the same thing. Marx's communism was localized and small, a situation where small communities of people would work together for their common needs, with nothing held in private, and no over-arching governing structure. Socialism is large-scale communism, but in order to make it work, the government, on the premise of representing the people, makes the decisions on what the society needs, and how to meet those needs. To be a "socialist" is to also be a statist: to put the state as all important, and the individual as a servant to the state and its all-powerful central government. To be a communist is to be an anarchist (in that within communism there is no government), and private property doesn't exist.

Finally, there is the term "progressive". The term has been used to describe Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, as well as others, like Newt Gingrich, and most of politicians in the American "left". However, progressivism is not synonymous with socialism, or communism, or even liberalism. The term denotes a belief in the "progress" of society; a belief that human society will progress inevitably to some idealized utopia. Progressives are elitists, because only the elite can put together programs, or systems that can solve current or future problems. Progressives are humanist, because they believe that it is up to us humans to create the perfect society.

This is where the problem lies for the Christian. As Christians, we believe in the concept of Original Sin, that all humans have the propensity to sin. To believe that the goal of progressivism is possible is tantamount to rejecting the Creed of Christianity:

  1. Christians believe that our sinful nature means that mankind cannot bring about its own salvation, but salvation comes only from God.
  2. Jesus Christ came to Earth to suffer and die, and therefore purchase for us the reward of eternal life, as a result of our inability to do it for ourselves.
  3. Progressives believe that we can create our own perfect society…thus "saving" us.
  4. This rejects the need for God.
  5. That rejects the sacrifice of Christ.

Rejecting the Sacrifice of Christ essentially means you are no longer a Christian. Thus, by adhering to a progressive mentality, you are, whether you know it or not rejecting your Christian faith.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Finished…so now what?

I finished War and Peace this morning. Not sure what to make of it. I really enjoyed reading it, but came away unsatisfied as far as the story goes. This is, of course, because my favorite character, Prince Andrey Bolkonsky died, and his son, who lived with his aunt, Marya (my second favorite character) has no real father figure. Seriously, I almost stopped reading after Andrey died, there was no real point in continuing. I'm glad I continued though, because had I stopped, I never would have read the epilogue.

In the epilogue, Tolstoy says: "Then as now much time was spent arguing about the rights of women, husband-and-wife relationships and freedom and rights within marriage…. Questions like these, then as now, existed exclusively for people who see marriage only in terms of satisfaction given and received by the married couple, though this is only one principle of married life rather than its overall meaning, which lies in the family. All the latest issues and debates, such as the problem of getting maximum pleasure out of eating your dinner, did not exist then, and do not exist now for people who see dinner as a source of nourishment, and family life as the aim of marriage."

The epilogue is centered around two families that are very much alike: wives utterly devoted to their husbands, and husbands utterly devoted to their wives…and both completely devoted to their children. Unlike the other women of their class, who spent their time getting dolled up for soirees and pursuing their own interests, Natasha and Marya focus their lives around their families. Unlike the men of their class, Nikolay and Pierre do their work, but neglect the wealthy society and focus on their family (Nikolay was not well liked by the gentry, because he actually treated the peasants as people, fancy that…). For these families, social and political connections aren't the goal…the goal is their family. In the end, these two couples are infinitely happier than they could ever have imagined, because 1) they are devoted to each other, 2) they have adopted a certain order in their households which creates stability, and 3) they are devoted to their children.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The “Right to Crime”

Leo Tolstoy's writing style has a way to illustrate a depth of knowledge of the human condition and therefore, to explain certain actions. In Volume IV Part I Chapter 4 of War and Peace, he says "The ones who were actually making an effort to follow the federal course of events, and trying to get involved through self-sacrifice and heroic conduct, were the least useful members of society; they looked at things the wrong way round, and everything they did, with the best of intentions, turned out to be useless and absurd…." This particular sentence, coming when it does in the text is powerful.

On the one hand, we've seen the heroic deeds and self-sacrifice of Muscovites and Russian soldiers who are in the thick of the fight. In the text, we've seen men storm burning buildings looking for trapped children, and men coming to the rescue of young Russian women who are being harassed by the French. We've seen nobility lose everything in flames (or consumed by the French). These people are acting out of necessity. As psychologist Phil Zimbardo discusses in his book Lucifer Effect, these individuals are reacting to stimulus according to the moral training they've received throughout their lifetimes. In short, they are acting just like they've been taught to act, and are responding to extreme stimulus accordingly.

On the other hand, we see the less than heroic deeds of individuals who have inflated their own self worth to dedicate themselves to being heroic and to self-sacrifice. These individuals have gotten in the way and even hindered those noted above. These people are acting, far removed from any real stimulus, on their own idealized intellectual fancies.

From this simple quote, I have two observations. First, those that are "in the trenches" get things done and are a real boon to the "cause" (whatever the cause is) because of their knowledge of what is really going on. Along those lines, those that are "armchair quarterbacks" and use their education (rather than hands-on, firsthand experience) to theorize on how to solve a problem, serve to, at the least, get in the way, while at most hinder real progress. In this regard, from a standpoint of strict efficiency, using the idea of subsidiarity (principle stating that a matter ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest, or least centralized authority capable of addressing that matter effectively) to solve social problems makes more sense that using socialism or statism. For certain, many advocates of socialism or statism have good intentions, but inevitably, their lack of true understanding and their over-reliance on their intellectual capabilities, will only hinder any real solution.

Second, the so-called "right to crime" is somewhat alluded to here. In Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky mentions this "right" to explain how certain "great" men were able to become "great". In short, they were willing to do what others weren't to achieve their own allegedly noble ends: transgress the law (either civil or natural). In fact, the idea goes so far as to infer that the truly great MUST violate the law, usually by spilling blood, to become great. In this quote, we see how utterly false this idea is. On the one hand, the truly great ones (like the truly heroic in Tolstoy's story) are those that do not use their reason to inflate their value to mankind or to make their goals somehow so noble that bloodshed is not an issue. The truly great act nobly based on 1) their moral formation throughout their lives, and 2) on the specific stimuli at hand (along these lines, I am thinking of George Washington, whom George III praised as the greatest man alive for stepping down as President of the US after two terms and near unanimous support among the people—essentially unlimited power due to his popularity). On the other hand, those that rationalize the spilling of blood to further their goals, like Che Guevera, Napoleon, Robespierre, Muhammad, Hitler, Bismarck, and many, many more are not a benefit to humankind, but a hindrance. None of these men added to humanity in any long-lasting and profitable or positive manner. Most have led to more pain, more suffering, and more death as a result of their intellectually driven machinations.