Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Is this thing still on?

Much has changed since we last wrote here, and I thought it might be a good time to get the engines going again. Presidential politics are in full swing, and this must not be ignored! This fall's choices have become increasingly clear during our little hibernation, and I think this deserves some commentary. I had intended to write a bit about John McCain and Hillary Clinton first, but in the interest of keeping my word count down, I think I'll stick to talking about Barack Obama for right now.

Obama amazes me. Seriously. I haven't quite been able to wrap my head around how this guy has achieved such a rock star following. Oh, I understand that he's young, black, decent looking, debates well and gives a great speech. That's certainly enough to get you plenty of attention in the political arena these days, but this guy has women swooning over him in a way that's reminiscent of Elvis or the Beatles. What is THAT all about? He's a politician, for crying out loud... and other than being black and one of the more eloquent Democrats since John Kennedy, he's a rather unremarkable politician. The fact that there are women fainting at political rallies and undressing for him on the internet is simply absurd. I think this phenomenon, and Obama's popularity in general, speaks mostly to the lacking political education of Americans in 2008. But more on that later. Let's talk a bit about why he ain't really all that and a bag of chips.

First off, no one disputes that Obama's rise has been anything less than meteoric. As recently as 2004, he was in the Illinois state legislature. I'm not inclined to go do the homework just yet, but I suspect you'd have to go back quite a ways to find a legitimate presidential candidate with less experience in national public service. Some of his supporters will say that his lack of a Washington pedigree is actually a positive, and that's a fine point. American voters love a presidential candidate who is a "Washington outsider." Don't forget, George Bush was an "outsider," too.

But Americans are usually careful to pick an outsider who has shown some proficiency in the requisite skill set of the Presidency. The desire for an outsider, along with the desire for some level of experience as an executive, are the two main reasons we usually prefer governors over senators when choosing a president. Senators make laws. Governors make decisions and important appointments, thus governors are more likely to have the appropriate skills necessary to being a successful president. Obama has none of the above.

Secondly, let us disabuse ourselves of the notion that Barack Obama is any sort of "moderate" who will be able to bridge the gap and magically unite a country that is divided quite clearly, and divided for very good reason. In his uber-brief Senate career, Mr. Obama has rarely ventured away from the Democratic party line with his vote. A quick Google search for "Obama liberal rating" will show that he is one of THE most reliably liberal votes in the Senate. Obama is a master of rhetoric, and has quite effectively portrayed himself as a middle of the road guy who is the logical choice to overcome the "forces of division" and unite the country. But he's not middle of the road. His voting record quite clearly shows that he's as far to the left as any Democratic candidate in recent history. That should be a concern to enlightened voters who are hoping for some kind of unification.

Finally, Obama is surrounded by and advised by some people with some very questionable views. That's not abnormal for a presidential candidate, of course. What voters need to know is whether or not the candidate agrees with the questionable views. Barack Obama's wife says that her husband's recent political success has caused her to feel pride in her country for the first time in her adult life. Michelle Obama is well into her 40s, so let's say she's been an adult for about 25 years now. It's quite a statement to say that nothing America has done in the last 25 years has caused her to feel pride in her country. Of course, Michelle Obama's views are somewhat irrelevant, but she is the candidate's wife, so her influence on him is great. I'd like to know when, or if, Barack Obama has been proud of his country in the last 25 years. So far, I've heard nothing from him on the subject.

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright is Barack Obama's pastor and a close spiritual advisor. He is virulently anti-American and an anti-white racist. Among other things, Wright claims that America deserved 9/11 and that the U.S. government purposely spread drugs in the black community to keep the black man down. He has called America the "US-KKK-A" and has repeatedly used the phrase "God damn America." To his credit, Obama is making some attempt to distance himself from these comments, but not with any great urgency or sense of revulsion. And he continues to associate himself with Jeremiah Wright and his church.

Barack Obama must be asked if he disagrees with any of Jeremiah Wright's views, and if so, which ones. And he must be asked why he continues to associate with a pastor who promotes such hateful and anti-American views. Liberals get quite upset when conservatives question their patriotism. People like Barack Obama could stop conservatives from doing that by putting an end to the notion that the views of Michelle Obama and Jeremiah Wright are the same as those of mainstream liberals. As long as Obama continues to avoid repudiating those views in the strongest possible terms, enlightened voters should be concerned.

So, in summary, Barack Obama is a guy with highly questionable qualifications to be president. He is not moderate, but resides among the most liberal of today's Democrats. He is closely advised by people with views ranging from mildly to virulently anti-American and anti-white, and he has not strenuously stated that he opposes those views. He bases his campaign on little more than his rhetorical skills and his ability to demand "change," without going into any detail about what changes he has planned or how he plans to change things. People who accept rhetorical ability and empty promises of "change" as a basis for a political campaign, in my view, are too shallow to be given a vote. There must be something more.

So the question for Obama supporters is, how is an extremely liberal rookie senator with almost no executive or national public service experience going to deal with a divided Congress and a divided country to achieve "change"? What makes Obama a legitimate presidential candidate? What makes you think he's capable of putting his words into action? It will be interesting, in the coming months, to see if they can answer these questions without changing the subject.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

An overlooked positive in NK

A while back, April of this year to be exact, a Grammy Award winning Christian band by the name of Casting Crowns was invited by GRS to perform in North Korea. That's right, you read that correctly, a Christian band was invited to North Korea.

The event was NK's 25th Annual April Spring Art Festival. From what I've read, CC was the only native U.S. band to perform at the event.

"The band played at three standing-room-only shows on April 11-13, 2007, incorporating both their own popular music and some Korean favorites. The song Amazing Grace—for which Casting Crowns received a festival award—was particularly well-received, as was the Korean tune White Dove Fly High, recognized as an anthem for peace. The Vice Chairman of the festival Mr. Jang, Chol Sun personally shared his gratitude with Casting Crowns for participating, and especially for their beautiful performance of the Korean song. He expressed his hope that groups like GRS, Casting Crowns and the people of the DPRK can work together to bring unity and peace."

With all the bad news coming from that part of the world, it's nice to see a little good every now and then.

The following clip is a slide-show of CC performing in NK. The background music is the tune "White Dove Fly High", performed by CC but from what I understand written by a North Korean musician. It's incredible.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hot Air

Don't go bringing up anything Ann Coulter says, unless you want me to start in on all the wacko left wing liberal journalists and talking heads out there. Everybody knows she's all about shock value. And for every Ann Coulter, there are half a dozen liberal equivalents.

And in WHAT world are you a "conservative minded individual"??? That's the funniest thing I've heard in a long time. You're less conservative than James Carville, and at least he's entertaining.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Wheels Off

I think the wheels are officially off the bus. As a conservative minded individual, I think Ann Coulter does our ideals more harm than good.

October 12, 2007
Coulter: We want 'Jews to be perfected'
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Conservative commentator and best-selling author Ann Coulter may find herself in the midst of a controversy for comments Monday suggesting America would be better if everyone was Christian.

Asked by CNBC host Donny Deutsch what the U.S. looks like in her dreams, Coulter said it would look like the Republican National Convention in 2004

"People were happy,” she said, according to a transcript provided to CNN by CNBC. “They're Christian. They're tolerant. They defend America." (Video: Watch Coulter's comments on CNBC)

When Deutsch responded, "It would be better if we were all Christian?" Coulter said "Yeah."
Deutsch, himself Jewish, continued to press Coulter on her remarks, asking, "We should just throw Judaism away and we should all be Christians then?"

"Yeah," Coulter responded, adding "Well, it's a lot easier. It's kind of a fast track."

"You can't possibly believe that," Deutsch responded. “You can’t possibly. You’re too educated.”

"Do you know what Christianity is?" Coulter replied. "See, we believe your religion, but you have to obey. We have the fast track program."

Later in the interview Deutsch asked Coulter if she doesn't want any Jews in the world, Coulter responded, "No, we think — we just want Jews to be perfected, as they say."

"Wow, you didn't really say that, did you," Deutsch said.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Mission Accomplished!!!

I think the knee-jerk conservatives here might have been beaten into submission. They can't even defend their leader's actions (/inaction) anymore.

I declare this : Mission Accomplished! (and I'm not even wearing a cod piece/ flight suit!!)

Cut and Run

True story:

The President had sent US ground forces into an Arab country to help maintain a watchful eye over various Arab groups (often classified as terrorists) and to help maintain a fragile but peaceful status quo. One of those groups, supported by the Iranians, created a car bomb and then used it to blow up a building in which many of those troops were staying. The number of American servicemen killed was tremendous.

In response, the president called for retaliatory strikes against the training and staging areas of the terrorist group and its supporters. Various factions within the administration objected and no retaliation was made. Barely three months later the President withdrew the ground forces – a classic example of “cut and run.”

Obviously this is an example of Clinton’s experience with the bombing of the Kobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Right? Wrong. This is exactly what happened with conservative god, “The Great Communicator” when the marine barracks were bombed in Beruit.

I’m curious why chickenhawk right-wingers are so quick to call others that name, when their pillar of conservatism so quickly cut and ran back in 1983-84?

P.S. The French military was also bombed that morning in October 1983 and they conducted airstrikes in retaliation. Yes, the pussy ass French struck back!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Amateur Hour

When it comes to dealing with other countries, the US has dozens of options. Short of military pressure or economic sanctions, diplomacy seems to be the most evident. Like most people, I have been a critic of the Bush administration’s apparent disdain for engaging in dialogue with those we disagree. Certainly there have been notable successes in which diplomacy yielded success; North Korea being the most obvious. Yet, this administration never ceases to amaze me in the staggering ignorance or flat incompetence with which it continues to operate, particularly in the area of diplomacy.

It starts with a president whose reputation has been founded on obstinacy, cowboy bravado and loyalty to bungling subordinates. His idea of diplomacy is, “Who needs it? America’s way is the only righteous way and everyone who isn’t with us can go eff themselves.” This diplomatic mantra is supported by what will likely be viewed as the most amateurish Sec. of State in our history: Condi Rice.

Earlier this week the military ruled government of Myanmar announced that it would raise the price of fuel. This increased cost caused an increase in the cost of public transportation which is used by most of the population. This ignited a protest initially about the price increase but slid into a general protest against the government’s repressive conduct. The government has reacted violently to the protest and the world is correctly screaming in anger. What to do?

As I said earlier, there are dozens of ways that the US could respond. It appears that the US response is limited to freezing the assets of few of the Myanmar government officials (a semi-economic response) and to directly or indirectly resorting to diplomacy. Both of these are entirely appropriate and some might argue necessary. In other words, I have no qualms with choices that the US has taken in response. Where I have a problem and where the continued ignorance and incompetence comes in to play is HOW the Bush administration effectuates those choices.

First, Rice has constantly referred to the Myanmar government as the “military regime.” The definition of a “regime” is “the government of a particular country, especially one that is considered to be oppressive.” So, while Rice’s description may be true, it seems obvious to me that if our government is going to resort to diplomatic pressure to resolve the problem it probably isn’t a good idea to refer to them to what is essentially playground name calling. Does anyone think that referring to them in the pejorative makes them amenable to diplomacy? Does Rice lose anything by referring to them as the “Myanmar government” instead of the military regime? Pakistan is ruled by a military junta (some might also refer to them a military regime), but Rice would never call them such! These seems so basic to me, but what do I know?

Second, it may not be fair to criticize Rice for her amateur hour when the president can’t even refer to the country by its proper name. “The world is watching the people of Burma take to the streets to demand their freedom, and the American people stand in solidarity with these brave individuals” Bush said. Later Rice was quoted as saying, “The U.S. is determined to keep an international focus on the travesty in Burma.” Here’s a new flash for Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb: The name of the country was officially changed to the Union of Myanmar in 1989. There has been no country called “Burma” in 18 years. Consequently, if the administration is going to exert some influence by talking to their leaders, maybe they should begin by at least referring to the country by the correct name. Doesn’t that seem very basic? Besides, despite the constant news story regarding the crack down on the protestors, I’d bet the farm that the vast majority of Americans never even heard of Myanmar, let alone knew where it was or cared about how shitty their government is to its people. Some solidarity. What is this Poland circa 1981?