Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Rocks In His Head, Then His Gut

At the top of the page here, you see my fine furry family members Bingo and Cody. Bingo is the Collie, and she is smarter than many people I know. Cody is the black Lab, and he’s dumb as a doorknob, as recent events proved once again.

The dogs often like to sleep in the garage at night, away from the weather and passersby. So it was that last night they were happily sleeping in their kennels in the garage. Then a little after 3 AM, Bingo started barking and I went to see what was wrong. Turns out Cody had barfed up his dinner from last night, so I took the dogs out to the back yard, then started to clean out Cody’s kennel. And so I quickly found the reason for his distress; a small pile of pebbles sat amidst the vomited dinner. Cody had been eating small rocks!

I knew that dogs get into all kinds of strange behavior, but this was a little different. The dogs have each other and a lot of toys, they have plenty of food (Cody’s starting to get a gut, actually) and water, and I spend a lot of time with them both. I think this was an experiment, and hopefully Cody has learned from it. I checked him out, and he seems to be okay, with a good – if tentative – appetite and full mobility, no signs of pain or further complications.

The First ‘I Am My Own God’ President?

Barack Obama has made a number of questionable statements, including a recent pronouncement in which he seems to count moral values by how well they fit his personal choices. If that portrayal is accurate, then rarely have we seen so self-centered and self-serving a candidate who won his party’s nomination to become President of the United States. The office is an exceptionally demanding one, and it often requires a selfless individual to do the job right, so whether Mr. Obama is the delusional narcissist he appears to be is an important question.

To address that question, I went looking for the whole interview from which the damning statement was taken. It turns out that in 2004, a reporter with the Chicago Sun-Times spoke at length with Mister Obama about his beliefs. Cathleen Falsani posted the interview in whole on her blog, “The Dude Abides”.

Obviously, I strongly commend the reader to visit that site for full details, and I thank Ms. Falsani for her service in providing that interview. The interview led to a book called The God Factor: Inside the Spiritual Lives of Public People, for those who wish a more in-depth study.

The first thing that jumped out at me was how Mr. Obama described his faith. He said “I am a Christian”, but does not – ever – speak to any personal experience of redemption or salvation. Indeed, Mr. Obama says of Jesus:

“Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he’s also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher.

And he’s also a wonderful teacher. I think it’s important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history.”

Obama appreciates Jesus for what he can get out of the relationship, yet he never mentions how Jesus Christ made the ‘bridge’ possible. Mr. Obama carefully avoids ever using the word ‘Christ’ during the interview, and the rest of the discussion shows why he did that.

Mr. Obama explained that he took influences from more than Christianity in developing his faith, saying “I believe that there are many paths to the same place”, which opposes what the Gospel accounts say. It runs directly against Christ’s own teachings, and is therefore a warning sign for us to consider.

So what does Mr. Obama think Christianity is meant to do? Mr. Obama said that “religions were a common set of beliefs about how you treat other people and how you aspire to act, not just for yourself but also for the greater good.” In other words, Mr. Obama sees religion only as a philosophical force, a humanist tool rather than the word of God.

Here’s another problem statement from Mister Obama: “I think that religion at it’s best comes with a big dose of doubt. I’m suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding.”

This statement can only be made by someone who has ignored or rejected the foundation of Christianity, the faith on which so much depends. Christ Himself made pronouncements and prophecy on the strength of His own faith, the certainty granted by faith in God. The disciples also died rather than rebuke their faith, a certainty which proved their spirit in a way which Mr. Obama’s meal-mouthed humanism cannot possibly understand. The sort of understanding which is granted to the Christian is indeed alien to the man who rejects God, but certainty through faith is one of the primary gifts from God, and is a signal that Mister Obama treats Christianity (and the Lord) as no more than a tool of convenience.

Further on, we see an illuminating statement from Obama which seems to reveal a Freudian slip:

“I think I have an ongoing conversation with God. I think throughout the day, I’m constantly asking myself questions about what I’m doing.”

Ahem. A conversation with ’God’ in which Barack asks things from himself.

This is compounded by his money quote just a little later:

“GG: Do you believe in sin?
GG: What is sin?
OBAMA: Being out of alignment with my values.”

Once again, the same signal, that Obama serves as his own god. He reinforces that, when asked about when he thinks he is most spiritually aligned:

”It’s when I’m being true to myself.”

Himself. Not God, himself. And that is a clear warning to everyone who trusts the real God.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

History Ignored by the Politicians

One of the truly weird things about this Presidential election, is the way that both Democrats and Republicans have ignored their most effective lessons in political campaigning. For Democrats, the last time they truly routed the Republicans in a Presidential election, was when Lyndon Johnson crushed Senator Barry Goldwater in 1964. Johnson’s repertoire included a long resume of legislation and long name recognition, as well as tremendous political infighting skills. If Kennedy was the charismatic image of the Democratic Party in 1960, Lyndon Johnson in 1964 was the unstoppable force. Yet no Democrat has copied the LBJ model since then.

It’s not as though the Republicans have been smarter, however. Ronald Reagan was undeniably the most successful Republican President in more than a century, and he absolutely destroyed Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Walter Mondale. His composition of personal authenticity and clear conservative values appealed to Americans across the board. Yet no Republican since Reagan has made a serious effort to run a ‘Reagan-style’ campaign.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Heavy Handed, Cold Hearted

The Texas DFPS has finally discovered limits to its arrogance. Following an Appeals court decision (and Texas Supreme Court confirmation), that the DFPS exceeded its authority is grabbing hundreds of kids from their families and dispersing them across the state in a fairly callous disregard for the rights of just about every civilian involved, another judge has ordered that all the children must be returned to their families.

Despite the excuses and claims of the DFPS, the general lesson one may take from their raid is that the state jumped to conclusions, failed to do its job properly, and in the end violated the rights of hundreds of innocent people. Two months after the raid, no evidence whatsoever exists to support the initial contentions against the group, despite a great deal of malignant rumor-mongering by the DFPS. The claims of abuse which the DFPS claimed justified the raid, turned out to be at best assumptions the state never tested, and at worst the deliberate portrayal of the FLDS as monsters its accusers knew were not so, in order to attack the group with public support. In a just world, the state officials who planned and approved the raid should be fired and made accountable for this injustice.

I am not so na├»ve however, as to believe that the FLDS is perfectly innocent simply because the State of Texas abused its power. The possibility that the group does indoctrinate young girls to ‘marry’ mutiple men in arranged marriages is a serious charge which ought to be investigated, but strictly within the scope of its authority. I have written before, that if someone molests a child they have committed a crime for which I would not hesitate to seek a life sentence for the guilty in a place where molesters serve a very hard sentence, but the charge does not excuse abuse of authority in seeking a prosecution, indeed one of the few crimes as foul as child abuse would be the false allegation of such a thing. In today’s world, the media often portrays a suspect as guilty as soon as he is accused, and even if he proves to be completely innocent of the charge he may expect no real effort by the state or the media to make his innocence clear. In the case of the FLDS, the crimes of Warren Jeffs led to a broad public damnation of the whole group, on nothing more than the assumption that the charges must be true. It is also apparent that the State of Texas has no plans to apologize or make amends to the FLDS, much less to hold anyone accountable in its ranks. This should be unacceptable to anyone of conscience.

So what now? The State still has power, you know. The courts never said it could not do its job, and CPS has the right to visit families and assess risk and safety, but only on a case by case basis, as with any family. If abuse is going on, the State may investigate, collect and build a case, and bring the matter before a grand jury, with due process observed all the way. There will be lawsuits over the raid, of course, and we the taxpayers will have the privilege of paying for abuses by government, even as it denies both the act and accountability for it.

Arrests and raids by armed men should only be made when the evidence has led to a proper indictment or warrant, not simply because an excuse of good intentions is made, or the agency believes it holds rights and the accused do not. Rights are inviolable. On this point, one hopes that liberals and conservatives may agree.