Apr 25 2010

On Being a Patriot / Political Ecology

This is a post I started writing–at least in my head–several years ago, when we had a different administration and different issues to argue about.  However, in spite of the stark differences between Bush and Obama, some things haven’t changed. For one, we still have a president who is operating on his own private agenda, in opposition to the wishes of the majority of Americans. Second, we have an administration whose spending has run amuck and is–to quote Savoy Brown–“goin’ down the road, like a hell-bound train.” Of course to be fair, Obama has out-spent Bush several times over, and to quote another famous train song by Jethro Tull, “… he stole the handle and the train, it won’t stop going, no way to slow down.”

And no, there will be no more musical train references in this post.

I have never been a flag-waver. I am a product of the sixties: I was very much against the Vietnam War, and was a confirmed pacifist until a few years ago, when I decided that yes, I would indeed shoot an intruder to protect my family (provided I had a gun–one of these days I’m going to buy a Glock 9mm and get a concealed weapons license, just because I still can). Until a few years ago, I thought it was uncool to be patriotic and somewhat sophisticated to be critical of the United States, especially in terms of foreign policy. However, I now understand that it is one thing to look at the U.S. critically and another to be actually anti-American, although admittedly is is often hard to tell the difference.

Political Ecology

While I continue to believe that the world is our neighbor and that we are global citizens, I also believe that we have a responsibility to our country, our state, our city, and our neighborhood imposed upon us by the sheer fact that we were born and/or have chosen to live here. As people tend to move around quite often these days, I can see being less committed to a neighborhood or even a state; but, most of us will continue to live in the U.S. for the remainder of our earthly days, by choice–and that brings with it a responsibility.

While some would argue that the mere chance of being born here creates a duty to the U.S.; however, we usually have no issues with obligations to families we are born into, and the majority of Americans believe we have a duty to protect our environment. Our country is, in a manner of speaking, another facet of our environment. Especially with our form of government–which I consider a major blessing, compared to other governments I know of–we have an opportunity to participate, to either help make things better or worse. This is what I am calling Political Ecology.

A friend of mine likes to point out that we are the government (especially when I criticize those in D.C.); to a point, this is indeed true. However, after the elections, we lose control for a time–until the next election rolls along. In between elections, we have out voices (and of course, our blogs and Facebook pages). We have been granted by our forefathers the right of free speech; a brilliant, yet brave move. Like our natural resources, this is a resource that we can choose to either use or ignore. Some prefer to pollute it, and I would argue we have the right and obligation to work to clean it up, just like our rivers and the air we breathe.

The Constitution – Rule, or “more of the guideline”?

Whatever our political views, I think most of us would agree that our Constitution is a great gift; I don’t claim that it is God-inspired, but at the very least, it’s a brilliant piece of work, and shows the evidence that those who drafted it were not ignorant of truth. There are those who believe it is “more of a guideline than a rule”–and that we have the obligation to amend it to match contemporary thinking (or else simply ignore it).

I would argue that to change it in any substantial way would be folly; the fact that we can even argue this point shows the great value of the Constitution. The discussion is one thing–however, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be foolish to change it.  As GK Chesterton said, “To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.” To morph into socialism or other forms of government–as evidenced by any number of countries–would be to lose some of the basic freedoms we take for granted.  (Of course, we’ve already lost some of these freedoms in the Patriot Act and Obamacare that I’d like to see given back.)

The natural state of things is that they deteriorate, thanks to the Law of Entropy. That doesn’t mean we should let the earth go to hell; and neither does it mean we should let the political Crazy Train keep on going (okay, I’m sorry, 3rd train song reference…). For those of us who are Christians, this doesn’t mean that we have to vote Republican; it does mean that we should support those things which are good for the country and which don’t run contrary to Christian morality.

Legislating Morality

Why “Christian” morality? The answer, of course, is simply because we are Christians and believe that things that flow from the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Gal. 5:22,23).” One major problem with trying to legislate Christian morality is that many Christians believe it is rooted in the Mosaic Law; in looking here, however, it is quite easy to get all law and no Spirit–a traditional problem for legalists everywhere.

The interesting thing is that most atheists (as well as liberals) I know would probably agree that a country that lived with patience, kindness, goodness, etc. as goals would be a good thing; and in fact, that is what they seem to say most of the time. The difference between conservatives and liberals is often not in what their goals are, but rather, how to achieve them. A conservative, it seems, wants to be compassionate, but do so in terms of a larger set of principles. For example, “If a man won’t work, he shouldn’t eat.”–meaning that teaching a man to fish is always better than giving him a fish. Liberals, it seems, would rather bend principles to conform to the immediate situation. (There are those, however who are opposed to the Fruit of the Spirit, and see that giving a man a fish creates a dependence on the giver, and suddenly an apparent generosity becomes an evil action.)

This is why I am a conservative; I believe that the principles of the Constitution as intended by the founding fathers saw a more encompassing storyline than what we typically see in the moment. Sometimes an apparently generous act is the perfectly wrong thing to do. Only in holding to larger principles can we guarantee that evil intentions do not subvert our goals.

Patriotism

Over the last several years, there have been some rather foolish statements made on both sides of the aisle about how is or is not a patriot. Hilary Clinton famously proclaimed during the Bush administration that to speak in opposition to the administration was not unpatriotic–and I would agree with her. However, now that the shoe is on the other foot, it seems it is a noble thing to try to silence the voices of dissension. But neither conservatives nor liberals have a monopoly on patriotism. However, when someone–no matter who–begins to speak or act in ways that would weaken the country, I think it is fair game to question his or her patriotism. It is not an ad hominem attack to challenge someone’s statements or position.

I think that regardless of our political leanings, we who are committed to living in the U.S. have an obligation to be patriotic–not in a “my country, right or wrong” kind of way (Chesterton also said, “‘My country, right or wrong,’ is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, ‘My mother, drunk or sober.'”), but in an ecologically responsible way.  Then, we also have an obligation to help the country make wise choices about how to act in the world, because we, too, are global citizens.

Being patriotic is not because “the US of A is the greatest country that ever existed” or “God is on our side,” but merely because this is where we are. However, I am also very glad to live here. I’ve been in a few other countries–not many, but a few–and yes, I like it here.  I would like the economy to thrive, I’d like my kids to thrive, and I’d like to retire in relative peace. I like our religious freedom, I like the free market economy, and I like many, many other things. I also want us to be good, responsible world citizens, also living according to the above-mentioned fruit of the Spirit.

This also means that when I think that someone is acting contrary to these principles, I can be critical, just like Hilary said. In fact, speaking up is actually a part of patriotism. I can say that I think Bush took advantage of the post-9-11 fear when he created the so-called Patriot Act (which is not patriotic at all and should be repealed) and shouldn’t have invaded Iraq, and I can say that I think Obama is a socialist and a liar who is also taking advantage of economic fears to take away even more of our freedom (and money).  I not only can be critical, I feel obligated to be, by nature of my citizenship.

Whether liberal, conservative, or simply confused, I propose that we have an obligation to take care of what we have been given; to me, that is the foundation of patriotism.


Oct 23 2009

Polls, Phonies and Politics

Self-identified conservatives outnumber self-identified liberals in all 50 states of the union, according to the Gallup Poll.   At the same time, more Americans nationwide are saying this year that they are conservative than have made that claim in any of the last four years.

In 2009, 40% percent of respondents in Gallup surveys that have interviewed more than 160,000 Americans have said that they are either “conservative” (31%) or “very conservative” (9%). That is the highest percentage in any year since 2004.  Only 21% have told Gallup they are liberal, including 16% who say they are “liberal” and 5% who say they are “very liberal.” – from CNSNews

Interesting.  Liberals (the 21%), of course, would have us believe that they are mainstream and that conservatives should be marginalized.  This, of course, smacks of facism (I have been laughed at by liberals at this, but that’s only because it’s true).

My thoughts on the change in poll numbers is that it is a reaction to the current version of liberal extremism running rampant in Washington D.C.  People are beginning to see the logical result of liberalism and realize that they want nothing to do with it.  Note the poll says nothing about party affiliation, just whether people see themselves as liberal, moderate or conservative.

Global Warming

Along similar lines, the Pew Research Center has conducted a poll indicating that

There has been a sharp decline over the past year in the percentage of Americans who say there is solid evidence that global temperatures are rising. And fewer also see global warming as a very serious problem – 35% say that today, down from 44% in April 2008.

Interesting, isn’t it?  Why would this be so, when we’ve been told again and again that anthropogenic global warming is killing us all?  We are inundated with “facts” and figures about melting glaciers, etc., etc.  Just think of all the doom and gloom rhetoric from Obama and Co.   Why are people believing it less?  If you listen to Rahm Emanuel, he’ll tell you it’s because of Rush Limbaugh or Fox News, who are spreading lie after lie.  But, I doubt either can boast of a 40% market share.  The majority of people still get their news from the rest of the media (which aren’t being picked on because they are carrying out their information disseminating services quite well).

No, I suspect it’s because more and more people are realizing that the facts aren’t adding up.  Global Warming is cooling, there are data gaps and conflicts everywhere, and the Administration is running around yelling, “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”   Don’t get me wrong, I am concerned about the environment and saving energy.  I like renewable, green energy.  I like clean air (one of the reasons I left SoCal) and potable water.  I just think the AGW scare is an attempt to create fear, so those in control can grab even more power.  But, people aren’t buying it.

Phonies

The whole Afghanistan thing is quite revealing.  We’ve heard O. and Co. laying blame on the prior administration, claiming that with Afghanistan, they were left with nothing, and literally had to start at square one.  In reality, there was an unprecedented amount of cooperation by the Bush team, who provided more assistance, information and advice than any prior administration.  Furthermore, they provided specific analysis of the situation in Afghanistan, but as we’ve now heard from Dick Cheney, Obama requested that they not tell anyone!  Why would they make such a request?  The only reason I can think of is so they could take credit for the plan themselves (which they did back in March).

Yesterday, of course, the White House responded with all kinds of nonsense.  The truth is, Obama is “dithering.”  He either doesn’t know what to do or he doesn’t have the guts to do what he knows he should do.  Certainly he shouldn’t act rashly… but yes, he’s dithering.  He ran off to claim the Olympics, he plans to sign away our national sovereignty in Copenhagen, and he’s obsessed with his healthcare plan (which, by the way, isn’t his, either). Personally, I think Obama is a phony.  He doesn’t have what it takes to be President or Commander in Chief.  I realize it’s a tough job – I certainly couldn’t do it, and wouldn’t want to.  But, he claimed he had what it took to do the job, and he fooled enough people to vote for him.  Now, we’re reaping the results.

Politics

It’s time that Obama – the chief servant of the people (not the dictator) – starts listening to the people.  Less than 1/4 of Americans are liberal.  Most people don’t like his healthcare ideas. They don’t like his approach to economics, and they don’t like his foreign policy.  They don’t want him signing the Copenhagen treaty.  Wake up, Mr. Obama.

He must know by now that chances are, he’s losing his majority on the hill.  And, he’s got to realize that he’s as good as gone in 2012 (well, I hear we all might be, but that’s another matter).

So what does he think he’s doing?

I don’t think he knows.


Sep 9 2009

Obamacare: A Lose-Lose Scenario

I try not to post much about politics, for a number of reasons. For one thing, there are way too many out there already.  I prefer to stick more to philosophical and theological issues – issues that are around for the long haul, so to speak.

But, I am finding the dynamics surrounding the current healthcare debate quite interesting (for one slant that I won’t go into here, read my post at my other blog).  Consider that a year ago, Obama was seemingly unstoppable, generating the kind of manic following we haven’t seen since the Beatles landed in 1964.  Within days of being sworn in, he began swinging his liberal axe, beheading as much of Bush’s legacy as he could.  The House and Senate Dems were lockstep behind him, and he seemed even more unstoppable.

Today, of course, the story has changed.  His fiscal policies have, for the most part, failed. The deficit is several times higher than ever before (and he can’t blame Bush for that).  His poll numbers are dropping steadily according to every poll; today, 52% disapprove of his handling of healthcare.  Over 50% disapprove! Yet, he keeps trying to steamroll his program through.  Even long-term Democrats have turned against him.

Why?  What doesn’t he understand about “we don’t want it?”

It’s even more interesting for those in Congress:  Poll numbers show that a very large % of voters would vote the whole lot of them out if they could.  According to a poll taken last week, voters will act in November based upon how their elected officials vote on healthcare.

With Obama’s numbers continuing to drop, he’s fast becoming a liability.  Why side with the President when it could cost you your career?  And what’s to be gained by gaining favor with a President who could very well be a lame duck in his first year in office?

Besides, what about representing those you swore to represent?

I am truly astounded that it is Obama’s hope this evening to “gain momentum” for a plan the majority of voters are against.  For that matter, just who the hell does he think he is?  Is he a servant of the people, or does he see himself as a modern-day Caesar?

Perhaps tonight he should simply play the fiddle.


Jun 30 2009

The politics of global warming “science”

The Preface to the recently discovered internal EPA report (which was suppressed for political reasons), begins:

We have become increasingly concerned that EPA and many other agencies and countries have paid too little attention to the science of global warming. EPA and others have tended to accept the findings reached by outside groups, particularly the IPCC and CCSP, as being correct without a careful and critical examination of their conclusions and documentation.

The report provides a list of important developments that include

  • Global temperatures have declined for 11 years while CO2 emissions and atmospheric levels have continued to increase
  • There appears no correlation between global temperature and hurricanes
  • Greenland is not melting
  • The recession has resulted in greatly decreased greenhouse gas levels
  • A crucial assumption made by the IPCC is not supported by empirical evidence, and actually the feedback is negative
  • IPCC used faulty solar data dismissing the impact of solar variability on global warming

Even more astounding are the internal EPA e-mails quashing the report, one of which states (directed to the author of the study):

The time for such discussion of fundamental issues has passed for this round. The administrator and the administration has decided to move forward on endangerment, and your comments do not help the legal or policy case for this decision.

This is shocking behavior, but then again, it isn’t. Many of have known for some time that the true science is being ignored by those wanting to push through manic legislation such as Obama’s Cap and Tax bill (which, by the way, contains many, many surprises that will cripple our economy even more).

Why aren’t more people upset by this?