A House Divided

Recently there was a debate in which MSNBC made mistakes such as accusing Dr. Ben Carson of business connections that did not exist and suggested other candidates should withdraw or resign. The candidates did what we hope politicians can do, point out the errors and confront them with truth.

A few days later President Obama, branded them as weak. Unable to handle MSNBC moderators.

Not long after that Democratic candidates backed out of a debate which was going to be partially sponsored by Fox News. While the initial reports I saw seemed to indicate this action was over comments made by Fox chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. I notice that many of the news outlets I researched did not connect it to Ailes comments, and the Democrats failed to define exactly what was said that crossed the line. But either way it was noted that Fox news might be biased against Democrats.

What I think is most important to point out is that many of those involved in the process, both politicians and news outlets, are furthering the gap in America.

The obvious result of dividing America will be that we no longer stand united. This point should be of more concern to Americans than demonizing our opponents. Jesus said it, Abraham Lincoln quoted it, and it’s still true, “A house divided cannot stand.”

Relationship with Israel

What I suspect will be the worst decision made by our current president recently came to light. In the past he has made it clear that he doesn’t support Israel in the ways that past presidents have. I wrote about this recently in a blogpost called Netanyahu and Congress.

The decision which I am referring to is not his treatment of Netanyahu on that visit, nor is it the condescending quotes thrown around by Democrats after the speech, but instead it was the recent information that Obama sent agents and money to try and influence the election in Israel.

Election tampering is not appropriately undertaken by the world’s poster child for democracy, but it is especially abhorrent when the action is taken against our allies. Or perhaps more accurately, this action clearly defines Israel as our enemy. We would not be the first nation to speak words of peace while acting in opposition to our own words, and any wise nation will understand the importance of behavior over rhetoric.

We were already moving in that direction by attempting to negotiate for Iran to have nuclear capability. I know the liberal bent on this is sugar coated, but our actions are promising them this capability eventually, if they will back off the goal for the time being. This deal is a hostile act against Israel, since anyone with common sense knows that is where they most would like to use nukes. Of course, common sense would also say we are second on their list.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I hope we can return to a positive relationship with Israel. If we do not a massive escalation of war in the region is predictable. The type of war that leaves no opportunity for neutrality.

Economic Recovery

President Obama spoke in the State of the Union as to the good news Americans seem to be overlooking. He lifted up the example of Rebekah Erler. He explains that she wrote him a letter speaking of their economic struggles and how they had to sacrifice to get ahead. Seemingly they were grateful to the policies of the current administration for creating a climate that allowed them to pull out of their difficulties.

What you might already know, and what was never mentioned in the speech, is that Rebekah worked as a campaigner for Democratic Washington Senator Patty Murray. Based on the timing it is likely that this is the job credited with pulling her out of the recession caused by her husband working in the housing industry.

When you know that part of the story it comes across very differently, doesn’t it? Her job, credited to the white house, was campaigning for the Democrats. In fact, this is the same family that he spent a day with back in 2014 to illustrate his compassion for struggling Americans.

The illustration is an example of some problems I believe I see in our president far too often. First he doesn’t care too much about the exact truth of a situation, but instead cares how he can make it appear in the press.

Second he focuses very closely on the moment, not remembering the past nor learning lessons from it. He expects the rest of America to forget as well, or else he would have at least picked a little more random of an example of economic recovery. After all he wants us to believe people moving up economically are easy to find, so he should have a lot of them to choose from.

Violent Extremism

I see in the news that President Obama will hold a summit for the purpose of fighting terrorism. Terrorism is referred to by a pseudonym, ‘violent extremism’.

Renaming it bugs me. Why do we redefine everything? We invent new words for old problems, in order to spin the issue in a new way. Most of the time we really aren’t doing anything different, other than changing the vocabulary to create a different impression.

In this case I can’t help but suspect the desired change is to take the focus off of Islam, to leave the faint suggestion that any belief is dangerous and can become violent when taken to extremes.

Breaking the connection between Islam and terror might not be that easy though. This morning ISIS has released an edited version of a previous warning, calling on Islamic people in in Western democracies to actions, similar to France. So apparently ISIS sees the connection, whether we do or not.

 

Culture of Distrusting Government

New York City, like too many places in our country, has seen division created by racial tension. This division has erupted in violence that has destroyed trust, common sense and in the worst cases entire neighborhoods. All this destruction has a real cost on society, but especially on the people and neighborhoods affected.

The destruction stems from people making decisions about events they have no first-hand knowledge of. They assume a suspect was treated a certain way because of racism. Second-hand or third-hand reports of the situation are mixed with basic assumptions about the shape of society to make an explosive mix.

Many of the protestors, bloggers and commentators have painted the police as the villains. I believe the majority of law enforcement officers are honest, fair people attempting to do an extremely difficult job well. I don’t doubt that some will make horrible mistakes. Painting an entire group by the actions of a few is exactly what we are all against. Failing to see the police as people worthy of respect and assuming them to be villains has resulted in many needless confrontations and at least two deaths.

In a sense it all comes down to which group a person chooses to make negative assumptions about. And if you look at it that way, the central point becomes why do we make the assumptions we do about any group? I believe the way news is presented is a part of it. I believe history is a part of it, too. Unfortunately, I also believe, in recent times, presidential politics is a part of it. The president has waded into a number of situations in such a way as to exasperate the situation. It is sad when the highest elected official in the land contributes to the cultural distrust of government.

Immigration and Social Justice

One aspect of the debate about immigration, which I am sympathetic with, is the topic of social justice. Should a person be considered different, better or worse, because of which country they were born in? My answer to this is, no they should not. I believe that we should do what we can to bring up the quality of life of all people in the world.

On the surface, this appears to be an argument in favor of opening all borders, allowing all comers to enter the country and to become citizens. However, I believe this would ultimately have the effect of lowering the United States down to the quality of life the rest of the world has, rather than raising the other countries. There are simply too many people in the world for the US economy to swallow them up.

This then raises the question of whether it is morally correct to lower the quality of life of some people in order to equalize them with others. My answer to that is I believe taking away what people have is wrong. It don’t see the difference between taking from the rich to give to the poor, and stealing.

There is another choice, although it involves a longer process where people have to pull together to build society, and individuals have to work for what they get. This other choice is helping other countries form healthy, stable economies. Some will say this is too slow, others will say it is impractical. But I believe that history teaches it is the only approach that has ever worked.

The social justice issue however has some dubious wrinkles to discuss. One such wrinkle, is what about the children of illegals? Some who were born here, others who came so young they know no other country. This tactic of focusing on the children of law breakers is interesting, but really just creative obfuscation. What would happen if we treated violation of other crimes the same way? We could not convict tax evaders, mobsters, or bank robbers on the basis they needed the money for their children. We would not return children kidnapped for long period of times because they will be distressed to meet their real families.

Another dubious wrinkle in the social justice argument is, how do we determine that illegals who have been here for a certain length of time are more deserving of privileges than the ones that will cross tomorrow? If it is really social justice for some, than it must be for all. Yes this means we have a large contingency of people here who do not qualify for these privileges. Our president speaks of the impossibility of finding these people to deport them, and that in the meantime they are forced to hide in the shadows. But we did not choose that for them, they or their parents made that choice.

One other dubious wrinkle, speaking of shadows, is something we cannot see, but still ought to anticipate. Do you remember how last spring we suddenly had massive numbers of illegal, unaccompanied minors crossing in the US? Why did that activity suddenly increase and why did it suddenly decrease to more normal levels? I don’t know the answer to that in specifics, but it had to be because something communicated to the people in desperate situations, that their best hope was to send their kids to the US. We should expect the president’s actions will also be a signal which causes the migration of many more people towards American borders.

Ultimately this is my strongest reason to oppose blanket changes of policy that affect millions. It gives a false hope to millions more who will be our next wave of illegal immigrants.

Rebellion to Tyrants

President Obama has promised that, if necessary, he would use the power of his pen to change policies which the congress has failed to address. The word necessary in this sentence indicates the policies are essential to the future of the country. The sentence assumes the perspective of the man with the pen is obvious and correct. The sentence also assumes the actions are important enough to justify making an end run around the balance of powers.

Apparently it never occurred to the president that being unable to get a consensus to pass legislation might be an indication the ideas might not be as brilliant as he thinks. Instead he decides those who hold different opinions are simply not as intelligent, or caring, or insightful, as he is. Since the rest of the country doesn’t really understand what is important, they must not be allowed to enter the decision making process.

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin had encouraged the founding fathers to adopt a seal which stated, “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.” Although that theme was not approved, I am beginning to see its virtues.

Clinton, Obama, and Political Mantras

Hillary Clinton did an interview for The Atlantic magazine in which the former secretary of state criticized President Obama’s foreign policy. She reduced his foreign policy down to a mantras, specifically the phrase “don’t do stupid stuff”. Although, we are told that in the Obama version the word stuff was actually a cruder word.

Politics is often a harsh arena, where loyalties are for convenience only and truth is spun in whatever direction the speaker wants to exert influence. It’s a bummer for President Obama that someone so close to his administration is already turning against him. Chances are her statements are a simplification to accentuate the president’s weaknesses. She is likely taking this action in order to make it appear she was hindered by the president during her role as our top diplomat, and therefore cannot be held accountable for the problems that occurred during her tenure.

I would like to make a couple of observations here.

First, reducing Obama’s foreign policy to a mantra is likely unfair, but it probably has a degree of truth to it. If you think of the coverage of almost every policy change  we have seen come from the Obama administration we only hear the overarching principle. In regards to the economy, ‘some agencies are too big to fail.’ But he wasn’t the least bit wary of how this would contradict free market principles. In regards to health care, ‘America is great enough to provide every person with coverage.’ But when it comes to working out the implications he is seemingly caught off guard as each new problem comes to light. In regards to immigration, ‘children brought here by their parents are not at fault.’ But again he didn’t  foresee or deal with the problems these policies generated.

Second, if Clinton was aware Obama’s administration was headed in the wrong direction, and if she was not allowed input or action to improve the situation, then she should have resigned. If she remained in such a position she must have believed she was doing some good, either for the world or for her own career.

Seeking Courageous Leadership

“Every day the sun comes up, it says something about us.” This statement was made by Kevin Costner, playing Special Assistant to the President Kenneth O’Donnell, toward the end of the movie Thirteen Days, which is about the Cuban missile crisis.

He was referring to the hard reality that ever since the nuclear proliferation of the cold war, humanity has the ability to end the world on any given day. This movie was about an event in history which if not stopped would have placed the rest of the world under Russia’s heel. Thankfully, they were backed down by courageous actions, and the world took a different shape for the following decades.

Now we are in a similar point in history.

Russia was prematurely declared dead. They are rising up with ambitions of restoring their former place, and those who should be standing against its ambitions in Ukraine are surprisingly quiet.

Nuclear proliferation is no longer descriptive of the US and Russia. Instead it is the growing number of countries which have nuclear capabilities, and the number seeking to gain this capability. Some countries are progressing toward nuclear capability, and political activity to stop them has taken place. But remarkably little attention is given to these issues either on the world stage or in the press.

I know the world has changed. I realize the challenges are different and bigger. But these trite explanations don’t change the fact we are once again marching toward the brink of destruction. I don’t wish for a return to simpler times; I know there is no going back. But I do wish for a return to the style of leadership would stand in the face of evil and stop its progress.

The Politics of Victimization

Perhaps nothing is worse than being a victim. We fear it. We have compassion for those who are victimized. But in the interactions of human relationships some people have learned to gain favor by playing the part of the victim.

Politicians are sometimes elected based on pointing out the ways they feel victimized. The homosexual community has made great gains, not by discussing the issues, but by making people feel sorry for them. In the current attempts at immigration reform, we are being constantly baraged with images of children in order to motivate compassion—both pictures of unaccompanied minors crossing the border and the children of illegals that have grown up here.

Living in a society which is so prone to favoring the underdog, has motivated a large number of people to become underdogs. Never has there been so many applications for disability. Never has there been such large changes to the minimum wage as the proposals bantered around today.

Good policy and real truth ire discovered in facts, not in intentionally created emotional manipulation.