Thursday, February 22, 2007

Brits pulling out of Iraq

So the recent news is that some British soldiers are being pulled out of Iraq. According to Tony Blair and President Bush this is a good thing, a sign of success in the region they were stationed.

According to certain politicians and pundits, however, this is actually bad for the President. They make hay of the irony of the British troops pulling out at the same time as Bush wants to send more American soldiers.

So which is it? Is it a positive thing that should make Bush look good or is it a negative thing that should make Bush look bad? I'll bet your answer to that question would be very easy to predict by anyone who knows you well, which leads me to make a couple of points.

First, why is everything viewed through the lens of politics? Why is it that when dealing with the facts of the British pulling out of Iraq the single most important thing on everyone's mind is how it reflects on Bush and his policies? Can't we just call a spade a spade sometimes?

Second, doesn't it trouble you that your answer to the question I posed would be so easy to predict? What does that tell you about yourself and the countless others (including me more often than I'd like) who don't seem to have the capability for original thought.

Finally, doesn't it bother you that we have two primary groups of pundits, politicians and people who have squared off against each other over the Iraq situation. The pro-war side is adamant about their position. To them there must be success in Iraq because that will prove that they were right. The anti-war side is equally adamant about their position. To them there must be failure in Iraq because that will prove that they were right. The one side can't afford to have us lose in Iraq and the other side can't afford to have us win. And what is the primary motivation behind both sides? You guessed it: politics. The winners (of the political game, not the war in Iraq) get all kinds of political points and the losers (of the political game, not the war in Iraq) get to hang their heads in shame. Long term issues like national security, what it means to be a good citizen of the world and, gasp, what's best for Iraq and other places like it don't seem to really matter much.

For an example of what we should be doing, by which I mean thoughtful, reasoned and civil debate, head over and check out a debate between Frank Gaffney and Tony Campolo on the campus of Eastern University. Just scroll down till you find the links from February 19 2007.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Will the real democrats please stand up

I consider myself to be an independent conservative. However when it comes to big-oil, big-pharma, big-insurance and the like I'm probably a bit more populist. I was getting pretty tired of the business-as-usual Republican cronyism and even though I cringed at the thought of Democrats in power in these uncertain times I thought maybe there was a chance for some free thinking and populist change. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be on the agenda.

It looks to me like nothing much is really going to change. Oh, the Dems will pay some lip service here and there but ultimately money talks regardless of which side of the aisle you're on. Seems like they're pretty much a one-trick-pony at this point. It's pretty sad when failure in Iraq and the humiliation of Bush/Cheney is your sole reason for existence.

I'm willing to be convinced that the Democrats have more to offer than hoping and plotting for failure. Sure, maybe we are destined to fail in Iraq. It is, after all, not completely up to us. The Iraqi's do have a say in the matter as well. But playing politics with the lives of the Iraqi's and the lives of our soldiers is pretty pathetic. Show me some leadership. Show me some original thinking. Show me that you really are interested in seeing this world become a better place for all humanity and that you have the patience and strength to truly fight for the underdog no matter how difficult, painful and time consuming the fight may be.

Some of the inspiration for this little tirade came from here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Betcha this gets your attention...

A news story today about a premature baby 22 weeks of age being born and surviving got me to thinking. I'm not going to go the predictable route of using this as an argument against abortion. I'm instead going to use this opportunity to make a different point.

I'm going to imagine that there are two people reading this post. One is a committed Christian right-to-life advocate. The other is a committed Progressive right-to-choose advocate. I am going to pose two positions and I want your honest opinion.

1. To the lefty: given that a baby born at 22 weeks can survive outside of the womb aren't you compelled to change your stance on the issue of Abortion? Isn't it true that its getting a lot harder to maintain that abortion is not the taking of a human life?

2. To the righty: be honest, if your 14 year old daughter was raped and became pregnant could you actually look me in the eye and tell me that you'd force her to carry that baby to full term and then either keep it or give it up for adoption?

These are honest questions, and if you are intellectually honest you each have to admit that there is a conflict raging inside you when you give the answer that your belief system forces you to give. But, you will obviously give the answer your belief system forces you to give. You have to don't you?

Now look at each other. You aren't so different after all. You're each making decisions that your strongly held beliefs force you to make. Kinda makes you think doesn't it? Maybe the Christian isn't the only one with "Religious" beliefs. Maybe the Christian isn't the only one being a "fundamentalist", towing the party line and subscribing to "group think".

As for the choice perspective, I'm pretty sure you're not taking that side because you want to see babies killed. I'm pretty sure you really believe that you're advocating for the greatest good to society and humanity.

I'd just like to ask you both to be open minded and when faced with advances in science don't shrink in fear behind the barricades of your agenda's and your groups. Whether that science seems to challenge creationism or whether it seems to challenge the practice of abortion don't be afraid of it. Because after all, the truth can withstand any amount of scrutiny.

Righties With Attitude

Maybe this is old news, but it sure got me going. I am referring to Right Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) as defined by a researcher named Robert Altemeyer. The blog entry which introduced me to this was obviously written by an ardent fan of old Bob. The blogger proceeds to use the RWA ideas to gleefully paint everyone outside of the enlightened left as psychopaths or worse.

Admittedly this is pretty scary stuff and if it were legitimate we might have real cause for concern. I'm no psychologist, but I bet I could craft a survey that painted the left in an equally bad light.

Left or right taken to an extreme pretty much ends up at the same place. Ultimately it comes down to applying the "final solution" and eliminating those pesky elements of society that stand against what is "obviously" the correct path. Whether you are a Marxist, an Anarchist or a Fascist doesn't much matter when your movement gains the critical mass and those standing in the way have to be dealt with.

So come down from your snobby ivory towers and admit one thing. The constitution and bill-of-rights laid down by the founding fathers of the United States was brilliant in recognizing the dangers of any group, right or left, gaining too much power or thinking too highly of themselves. The dangers inherent in human beings are inherent in ALL human beings regardless of political persuasion (and yes that includes YOU). History proves that point quite nicely.

Finally, a couple of pieces I found that counter the RWA premise are here and here.

Monday, February 19, 2007

God who?

Another good link from Rick. I've read a few items from Father Morris and am always impressed. He's not afraid to tackle some serious issues.

Check it out.

Iraq - some history

The Iraq war is, admittedly, a bit of a quagmire. I am personally upset with the actions of Congress lately who seem to see the Iraq situation as a blank check for propping up their political careers.

Somehow cutting and running just seems wrong, but on the other hand what will happen if we stay the course? Do the American people have the stomach for sticking it out as long as it takes? Fed a steady diet of demoralization from the Media and the leaders in Congress it doesn't seem likely.

All I seem to hear, on both sides of the issue, are sound bites. Emotional appeals are completely trumping an honest examination of the situation. I guess that's the society we live in. Give it to me in 5 minutes or don't bother me. Guess that goes for Iraq as well.

Enough whining, let's dig a little. How about a little Iraq history lesson for starters. And you might be surprised at the conclusion given what you think you know about me.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Congress or Circus?

Good link from Rick

He says: "To be honest, it does lean towards the right, but it does admit the use of soldiers and families as props by BOTH sides of the aisle. Now, if we can honor current soldiers and veterans for their sacrifice and their service without using them to prop up what should be a intense, logical, well-reasoned, objective debate, we'd get a lot further discussing the merits or flaws of any proposed policies."

I couldn't agree more. Real debate assumes the possibility of swaying your opponents opinion. The posturing of our politicians doesn't seem to hold out much hope of that. Instead it's a competition of melodrama's. And that goes for both sides. Blech!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Let's lean a bit left

I did say common ground didn't I? Well, to counter what may seem to be a lot of right-leaning posts let's head over to the left a bit. Capitalism and free markets are very important and history has certainly shown their superiority over socialism and communism. That being said, unfettered freedom will inevitably be taken advantage of and the robber barons can be just as damaging to free society as a rapacious dictator.

I've been reading an excellent book which illustrates the damage that can be done by these robber barons. The book is Internal Combustion by Edwin Black and the accompanying web site provides a variety of compelling tidbits.

Setting the Record Straight

Let's face it, religious fundamentalism has taken a beating lately. In many ways the beating may be deserved. The Jihad being waged against decent, freedom loving people by religious fanatics may cause the non-religious to step up their attacks on other religions such as Christianity.

How does Christianity compare with other religions in the news today? Does it have a better track record or has it also had a history of oppression and violence? If you came up through our school systems, watch TV and movies and listen to the various voices of the media you likely think it has a rather sordid history.

I believe this view is actually a complete lie and distortion and invite you to examine the truth of the matter in this great little article.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


There's a problem with the messages young people receive about sexuality in the United States. When you add political correctness into the mix you have a recipe for disaster. A book has recently been written which sheds a lot of light on this issue from the point of view of a psychiatrist who works in the mental health clinic of a large university. A well balanced review can be read here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Parable

Imagine if you will a family living in a neighborhood torn by violence. The father decides to hire a security guard to protect his house and his family. As the days go by the security guard successfully defends the family from a variety of attacks.

Time goes by and the family becomes comfortable and happy in their house, safe from the attacks of roving gangs. As they become more comfortable they start watching the actions of the security guard from time to time. They notice that sometimes he has to use force to repulse the gangs. Sometimes an attacker will be hurt or even killed. This begins to trouble the family. They express their concerns to the security guard. "Can't you be less violent? Is it really necessary to hurt or kill these attackers?" they say. The security guard assures them that although he doesn't want to hurt anyone sometimes it is necessary. The family accepts this for a time.

After many years the parents have died and the children are now in control of the house. They have forgotten what it was like to live without the security guard and have become increasingly obsessed with the sometimes violent actions the security guard must resort to in order to defend them. They decide that this can no longer be tolerated so they begin giving the security guard specific instructions, limiting his actions against the attackers. The guard does his best to comply, but at times he has no choice but to use firm action against the attackers in order to defend the family.

The family finally have had enough. They begin to ridicule the security guard, calling him intolerant and a lover of violence. They become enamored with the roving gangs and begin to think that perhaps it is their own fault that the gangs are so violent. Perhaps if they didn't have such a nice house and live in such comfort the gangs would not be so intent on harming them. Perhaps it is partially the security guards fault for being so cruel and violent in his actions against them. In the end, when it is clear that the security guard will not obey their instructions to cease from harming the attacking gangs they fire him and he is forced to leave his post.

That very night a gang attacks the house. They find the family gathered around the television laughing at a show portraying security guards as ignorant, intolerant fools whose only desire is to stand in the way of poor misunderstood gang members. The gang tortures and kills the family in a horrible fashion and takes the house for themselves. Within months the house is dirty, run down and indistinguishable from the other houses in the neighborhood. A person visiting the neighborhood would never know that once the house was well kept and that in it had lived a safe and happy family.

Amazing Grace

Now here is a story worth telling and, hopefully, a movie worth watching.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sen. Barack Obama Apologizes for Saying U.S. Troops 'Wasted'

Click here to read the story

I know what you're saying. Here he goes bashing someone in spite of everything he said earlier. Well, surprise, I'm not going to bash Barack Obama for saying what he did.

I'm just going to ask a question. Must we parse every word and nuance of every politician? Why do we and the media hold them up to such impossible scrutiny. I mean, lets face it, we all know exactly what Barack Obama thinks about the Iraq situation. No amount of backpedaling is going to change that. And why should he have to backpedal? What's next, will he have to go into rehab claiming that some drug or alcohol addiction caused him to say what he said?

I don't think Obama hates soldiers or truly wants to diminish their heroism or courage. I don't think any reasonable person would think that. He was attempting to make it clear how much he opposes the President and got a little carried away. Sure words mean things, but good grief give people a break.

It's really quite simple. Obama opposes the war in Iraq and he opposes the President. If you agree with him then maybe you vote for him. If you disagree with him then you certainly won't vote for him. If we can't get past every little slip-up and judge politicians on the bulk of their words and actions then we won't get anywhere. We'll just spend all our time sniping back and forth about the latest gaffes instead of focusing on the major issues.

First Post

Sometimes I just have to write. I find a news article or a blog entry or hear something on the radio and I just have to write about it. I find myself composing emails and then throwing them away because I don't really have anyone I want to spam. So now I'll just write things here and no one will have to be bothered with my ravings.

I'll let people know it exists, and maybe they'll stop by from to time or subscribe to the feed. Quite likely no one will ever read this, but that's OK. It will just be my journal. Maybe in a few hundred years when a new breed of Archaeologists are sifting through the digital rubble of our civilization someone will read it and get an insight into what one person, at least, was thinking.

If I have an agenda it is to find common sense ideas that rational people everywhere can agree on. People are so caught up in their politics and agendas. They spend their days hunkered down with fellow ideologues lashing out in fear-inspired hatred at those who don't share their views. That needs to stop.

If you're a lover of freedom and democracy lets figure out what we have in common, realize there are a lot of forces in the world howling for our destruction, and stand united against those forces. If you're not a lover of freedom and democracy then hopefully you will find something here to change your mind.