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Culling the Herd

This blog has been silent of late, due, in no small measure to my own laziness, but also and more significantly by my ennui about all things political. Public reactions to the issues of the day and the coverage of the media have left me stunned silent and unable to articulate a response. I cannot grasp how an intelligent person can think the way that so many people seem to be thinking lately. I cannot follow how rational minds can accept the overreach of the judiciary and the executive branches of government without so much as an outcry about checks and balances. But before I go completely into rant mode, I do want to answer a political question my niece asked me in response to a comment I made on a friend’s Facebook post.

My pastor, Randy White, wrote a blog in which he analyzed the Fox news republican “debate.” I put that in quotes because it was not so much a debate as an attempt by Fox to rank the candidates. I won’t spell out Randy’s entire post here, but suffice to say he and I agreed on almost every point. This is a lot of why he has been my pastor for the past 9 years. He’s leaving the church now and I am very upset about it.

The debates are supposed to help the public find a candidate to support. This should allow the field of candidates be winnowed down to a reasonable number. We started the campaign season with a record seventeen republicans; too many to appear on one stage at the same time. Fox divided them up according to their polling numbers, which is no small statement about their viability as a candidate.

The candidates I feel have a shot:

Ted Cruz: He’s a long shot, but it is not outside the realm of possibility that he could pull off the nomination with some money and a good CM.

Mike Huckabee: One of the best speakers in the field. He communicates well and he has a lot of good ideas. His biggest weakness in the election is his strongest asset to his base: his faith. As an ordained minister, a lot of people are not comfortable with someone so strong in his faith leading the country, which is a shame. We need more like him.

Marco Rubio: Young, energetic and Latino. I differ from Randy on this one. The pundits like him and they love to categorize him as the republican’s best hope for relevance in the future. His youth may work against him unless he gets a crack team on his campaign. My biggest problem with him is his support for amnesty for illegal aliens.

Jeb Bush: Pros: Experience, name recognition, good speaker. Cons: Name recognition, waffler, past support for Planned Parenthood. I’m not a big fan of the younger Bush, and a lot of moderates are similarly unimpressed. Liberals will shut him down out of spite for GW’s administration. He has the best chance, however, of sustaining a campaign thanks to the established power base within the party.

Kasich: Was on the stage as a nod to Ohio only. He had some good responses to the questions he was soft-pitched, but he hasn’t spelled out his policy platform yet, aside from commenting on the media issues of immigration and abortion. He doesn’t have enough wide-spread support to maintain a campaign.

Rand Paul: The hothead. A lot of bluster and good interchange between him and Trump and Bush. Makes for good television, but that’s all he’s good for. He reminds me of the one guy hollering at the back of a crowd that desperately wants him to shut up, even if they know he’s right. I don’t see him riding it out until the end. He doesn’t have a presidential bearing.

Ben Carson: I loved his responses and I love his message. If no one had to actually hear him say it, he would go a long way. As it is, he looked unsteady on the stage, pale, almost sickly and tentative in his tone. He did not look presidential, even though he had some of the best things to say. If he gets an image consultant, he may last it out, otherwise not.

Donald Trump: I may be alone on this, but I hope not. Trump is NOT a republican candidate. Trump is on the Clinton campaign. His mission is to split the vote, and he is well on his way to doing so. Allow me to elucidate.

The current Democratic Party contest consists of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Sanders is an admitted socialist running as a democrat (semantics, I know, since they have become one and the same) and not a genuine candidate. The party just has to have someone else to look like they are having a real primary since they have no incumbent. Hillary took a dive in ’08 so the party could elect the first black president in history with a proviso that she would be the candidate in ’16. There will be no other viable candidate on the democratic ticket unless Hillary gets convicted.

Now, the democrats are well aware that Obama has lost a lot of the moderate and independent voters that helped get him into office. Since those voters are up in the air, the only way to ensure Hillary gets elected is to prevent those independent and moderate voters from voting republican. The best way to do that is to give them an alternative: enter Donald Trump. Trump is spouting the republican battle cry like a seasoned general—almost like he actually believes it. Heck, I like what he’s saying. I agree with most of what he is saying. The problem is that I don’t think he actually believes what he is saying.

He won’t get the nomination. He will announce as an independent. He will do his best to keep the support he drums up through the republican primary, thereby weakening the republican candidate’s support. If you do not want Hillary in the Whitehouse, do not support Trump.

The second tier candidates had a mini debate before the main show and none of those are likely to survive the first wave of cuts. Rick Perry’s campaign is already on the rocks financially. Fiorina has a lot going for her if she can get more exposure. If she can get her numbers up, she may ride it out. My biggest problem with her is her support of abortion as a “women’s health” issue. You will find that she won’t tow the party line on abortion and she will probably duck the issue the whole way through the campaign. I anticipate the campaign will be narrowed to ten before Thanksgiving, and four or five by Caucus time.

It is too early to pick a candidate now, however. Always use the whole primary period to research all the candidates and when voting time comes, then make your decision. Please do NOT rely solely on the media for this information. It would be akin to buying a car solely on the salesman’s pitch. Look the information up yourself.

Happy voting.

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Citizen Who?

There is an important discussion in progress that promises to inform the debate and be a hinge pin in the midterm elections next year continuing to the presidential elections in 2016.  Immigration reform has been a topic in the public sphere for several years now, decades, even, but no one has really driven the issue to the forefront until this administration.  The left has been crying over what they perceive as a wrong that needs to be righted while the right decries the move as nothing more than an attempt to drum up more democrat-leaning voters.  While there are salient arguments to be made both ways, the underlying issue has nothing really to do with immigration or reform.  It has to do with something much more fundamental and much more important to the American way of life.  It has to do with rights and responsibilities.  It has to do with the foundational tenants of political affiliation.  It has to do with what it means to be American.  It boils down to one word: Citizen.

The Seattle Office of Civil Rights last week issued a policy letter to the city workers striking the word citizen from all official documents and replacing with the word with “resident.”  They claimed that the word “citizen” was offensive to residents who were living there without citizenship.  This is part of a larger language guidance that removes the words dinosaur and birthday among many others from official documents for the same “offensive” concern.  This is the most egregious case of political correctness run amuck to date.

The Eugene, Oregon city council in 2011 voted down a measure that called for reciting the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of all council meetings.  While many opponents claimed the words “Under God” violated their understanding of the separation of church and state, Councilman George Brown said that said that he did not feel any allegiance to the country, but rather to the world.

Is a citizen an integral component of controlling government, or does government exist to control the citizen?  This begs the question: what does it mean to be a citizen?  If you ask the average person on the street you might get answers like “to be born in the country” or “someone who pays taxes.”  These seem like good answers on the surface, but that is the point.  They are superficial.  They are easy to spit out and don’t require any thought.  But if you look deeper, there is a significant difference to how the word can be defined, and that difference, not surprisingly, can be drawn along the same ideological differences that separate liberals and conservatives.  Liberals tend to think that the citizen gives the government a reason for being; the citizen is dependent on the government for guidance and support.  Conservatives view citizenship as a duty to the greater good; that the citizen guides and supports the government.

This dichotomy is why compromise seems so hard to come by in politics.  The force behind any change in legislation is fundamentally opposed by the opposite corner.  When a politician from one side of the aisle reaches across to work with the other camp, they are accused of “selling out” and abandoning their principles.  This idea, while often harshly stated, is not far from true, but that is the definition of compromise.  No one wins the debate.  And as is true in so many polemic debates, there can be no clear winner.

So who wins in the citizenship debate?  Is a citizen an integral component of controlling government, or does government exist to control the citizen?  That is the idea that really drives the political debate and will continue to do so for as long as we have participatory government.  Once we lose the ability to debate, we have lost our government, our country and ourselves.  We would be a country of nothing but residents and no citizens.

Some conspiracy theorists have postulated that the Seattle initiative is related to the immigration reform “amnesty” that is before congress.  The thought is that if Americans come to believe that there is no such thing as citizenship, then “THEY” can come in and take over our country.  The “THEY” being socialists, communists or any other nondescript non-American entity.  While entertaining to consider, most people dismiss these allegations as extreme.  But as entertaining as it is, these theories are borne out of observation of real events and they are not all so farfetched as to be ignored.  The founding fathers warned that freedom requires diligence on the part of the citizen in watching the government, lest the freedoms so fiercely fought for would be willingly surrendered.  It would be so much easier to take the freedoms from residents than from citizens.

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Getting The Debate Wrong

The American people are speaking out about a slight against a would-be protected class distinction and the backlash against the perpetrator of this egregious insult.  Unfortunately, the American people are attacking the wrong person.
Chick-Fil-A is a well-known fast food restaurant that pioneered the chicken sandwich and is quite popular with many people, enjoying a good amount of success.  The company was founded by S. Truett Cathy, a devout southern baptist who runs the company on Christian principles.  The company does not open its stores on Sundays in keeping with those principles.  It is now run by Cathy’s son who continues the Christian-oriented policies.  
Last week Cathy, in response to a question from a reporter, issued a statement supporting marriage as being between a man and a woman, incensing the left and the media and generated an outcry and a call to boycott Chick-Fil-A stores.  Conservative Christians led by Mike Huckabee have called for a day of support for the restaurant in response to the boycott.  The comments in the blogosphere and across all social media platforms reflect the polemic division the issue has created in society, and demonstrates a problem this division is exacerbating.
Homosexuality has existed for centuries in and out of the closet, depending on the mores of society at the time.  The right has traditionally found the practice an affront to normal, decent behavior while the left has espoused tolerance for alternative lifestyles.  This dichotomy has left this issue in flux through the ages.  In today’s “enlightened” and tolerant society, homosexuality has found an acceptance in Hollywood where it is promoted in films and television and the media spends hours of news coverage encouraging acceptance of this alternative choice.
Meanwhile, Christianity has been blasted by the left as being intolerant, hateful and controlling, especially on this issue.  If a person professes a faith in Jesus Christ as the son of God and as the path to salvation for the mortal soul, that person is labeled as ignorant and backward.  The left would assert that no reasonable intelligent person can believe in God in the face of so much “evidence” that God does not exist.  Surely all of mankind’s achievements prove that man is the center of the universe and since there is no heaven, there is no afterlife, the only thing that matters is what happens during life.  As long as one does not hurt another, anything goes.  Christians are hurting gays by denying them equal status, therefore Christians are bad.  Christians hate gays.
This is one point that the left gets wrong.  Christians do not hate gays.  Christians are taught to love God’s children.  While I cannot speak for all Christians, I do know most do not hate gays per se.  I disapprove of homosexuality.  I believe it to be an affront to nature and counterproductive to the survival of our race.  I do not believe that gays are entitled to any rights that any one else doesn’t have.  I do not believe laws should be rewritten to give them new rights.  I do not, however, hate gays.  I have several friends who count themselves homosexual.  I simply disapprove of the practice.
God does not hate gays.  God loves all his children, even the ones that are making wrong choices.  Much like a parent disapproves of a wayward child, that parent does not stop loving that child.
While I do not know Dan Cathy, I doubt he hates gays.  He is a business owner who employs hundreds of people and generates taxes for his local community.  He gives to philanthropic groups and charities and supports his family.  He is a Christian and is happy to testify to his beliefs on the matter.  He never said he hates gays.  Having said that, this is a free country and Cathy is entitled to his opinion.  If his opinion is that marriage is between a man and a woman, he can say that in any forum he so chooses, even in the media.
Of course, the left has the freedom to express their opinion as well and they are quite vocal in doing so.  The mayors of Chicago, Boston and San Francisco all have expressed outrage and urged Chick-Fil-A to avoid opening stores in their towns (as if they could stop it).  However to condemn a man because of an expressed opinion is the opposite of democracy.  This is the other point the left gets wrong.
In today’s society, discourse has degraded to nothing more than name calling and violent verbiage.  No one tries to enter into open discourse anymore because people are not interested in changing other’s minds through logic and reasoning, rather they would prefer to insult and vilify anyone who does not believe as they do.
Long Live Chick-Fil-A.

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