The R and the D: Destroying America to Win in ’16.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/

Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a stirring speech to a joint session of Congress.

Fifty Democratic members of Congress decided to boycott the speech because they didn’t want to involve the United States Congress in politics. That is a little like a doctor boycotting his patients because he doesn’t want his practice involved in medicine.

After that, (and we’ll get to this in detail in the next post) 47 Republican Senators of equal concern for this country to the Ds who boycotted the speech decided to send an open letter to Iran. Yeah. You heard that right. They sent an open letter to Iran about an agreement that hasn’t been made yet. Evidently, they forgot they were in the United States Senate.

All this leads back to the question I asked in an earlier post: Is beltway partisanship going to get us killed? 

We deserve better than the government we’re getting people. I mean from both political parties.

Now, back to Prime Minister Netanyahu and his excellent speech. What’d he say that caused all this ruckus?

Nothing.

I’m not saying that he said nothing. I’m saying that nothing he said should have caused this childish, destructive and utterly disgusting behavior on the part of our elected officials. Prime Minister Netanyahu did exactly what he should have done. He gave a stirring speech on behalf of the interests of the nation that he clearly cares about, his own country, Israel. I only wish that members of our Congress cared so much about America.

His concern in the speech was based on his fear of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. No one on any side of this situation argues that Iran is working to do this. There seems to be only one question: What are we going to do about it?

Before I get into the speech in a bit more detail, I want to backtrack a few years to our totally useless and ultimately destructive to everybody invasion of the nation of Iraq.

Before I do that, I want to back track a couple of decades to the first war in Iraq.

We fought the first war in Iraq under the leadership of President Bush 1. President Bush 1 did a lot of things right. First, he went to Congress and got actual, legal authorization for a war. Second, he put together a real coalition of allies. Third, he went into the war with clear military objectives.

The result was that we got the thing done quickly and got back out.

The salient phrase there is that we got back out. Why, when we had Iraq down for the count, didn’t Bush 1 go ahead and finish off Iraq? I think there were a couple of reasons. First, this was not the objective he had given the American people, Congress or our allies. Second — and this is the one that applies to our discussion today — Iraq served as a stopper in the bottle where Iran was concerned. With Iraq in place, there was a counterbalance to Iran, which kept America from having to be so exposed to the need to military intervention in that part of the world.

He did it for the now seemingly quaint and never considered reason in American politics of preserving future peace and saving the lives of American soldiers.

Enter Bush 2 and our pyrrhic “victory” in Iraq. People have been dying in that region of the world because of this ham-handed and destructive war ever since we engaged in it. Not only did President Bush 2 needlessly kill American troops, he created a political and military vacuum that has led directly to the slaughter under ISIS. He also pulled the stopper out of the bottle that was holding Iran in place.

Now, we are faced with the possibility of a nuclear Iran, which is to say with a possible conflagration of unimaginable proportions. Would Iran use such a weapon to kill on a mass scale immediately after obtaining it? Maybe not. But, given the instability of governments in the Middle East, and the obvious willingness of the various Islamic radical groups to kill, kidnap, torture, enslave on a mass scale, plus their evident love of genocide as a practice of domination, that is not reassuring.

From Prime Minster Netanyahu’s viewpoint, the first and most pressing fear concerning a nuclear Iran is the resulting change in the balance of power in the Middle East. Israel has the bomb. If Iran has the bomb, what would that do to Israel? Will we see another holocaut of the Jews?

That is clearly what Prime Minster Netanyahu fears.

Enter President Obama. Unlike every other president we’ve had, President Obama is opaque to the American people. I think that is the real reason why the people of this country distrust him on such a fundamental level. He does not make sense to us. I think the reason for that is that his history is not our history. He spent his formative years living in other countries as a native of those countries. He attended Muslim schools in Indonesia and clearly has a greater and more sympathetic understanding of the Muslim outlook than he does that of most of Christian America,

He spent the rest of his growing-up time in Hawaii. He attended Harvard, and then settled in Chicago. All this is to say that his experience of America is bi-coastal and, in terms of the life experiences of the vast majority of the American people, non-existent.

What does this mean to the questions surrounding Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech? It means that President Obama, for all his great speech-making ability, cannot communicate on the essential unspoken level where trust is built with the American people. This is nothing to do with his dark skin and everything to do with his almost total lack of an American ethos.

If he was an African American president, he’d be fine. But he’s more of an African-International president. American’s don’t “feel” him the way they have every other president. They don’t understand him, don’t “read” him on an unspoken level. He just doesn’t give off recognizable American vibes.

President Obama has done a good job of keeping America out of troop entanglement in the Middle East. He has done an excellent job of encouraging the countries of the Middle East to take on ISIS and wage war against them directly. This has done something that the war-sellers don’t seem to consider at all. It has saved American lives.

Now, he is engaged in an attempt of some sort to negotiate an agreement (not, notice a treaty) with Iran about the development of nuclear weapons by Iran.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is so alarmed by the potential for this agreement to let the nuclear Iran genie out of the bottle that he came across the ocean to address a joint session of Congress. Congress, for its part, doesn’t care very much about American lives or nuclear genies. They just want to poke the prez in the eye so that they can position things for the ’16 elections,

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech made three points: First, this agreement the President Obama is working to create will not stop Iran from developing nuclear weapon. Second, the agreement will enable Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Third, Iran cannot be trusted, as its interests are always antithetical to those of the United States.

The third point has certainly been true in the history of the past few decades, both for the United States and Israel. But is it always going to be true?

One question for America is how can we change that dynamic, without pulling another plug out of another bottle and setting off a holocaust of the Jews in Israel, as well as a third world war?

President Obama was trying to work out his agreement in secret, without informing the American people, or dealing with Congress.

He was outraged that Congress allowed Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak. Personally, I’m concerned that it took the speech of the head of another nation to inform the American people.

I don’t know enough about what our president is trying to accomplish to have a clear opinion of it, and that is the rub. We the people have a right to know. But I am very concerned about this new idea — which is being pushed by the press, by the way — that keeping the people in the dark about their government is patriotic.

I am also concerned about the total breakdown of governance in Congress. Even more than that, I am concerned about what these two political parties and their unending partisan power struggles are doing to all of us and to the future of this nation.

They are destroying America. They are dismantling and exporting our industry, keeping us constantly at war, bankrupting us with their constant war-time economy and allowing the nation to wallow and slowly degrade.

The only thing they care about is jockeying for the next election. I know people who were ecstatic after the election last November. They honestly thought that this new Congress was going to take any number of actions. These trusting souls actually believed the campaign rhetoric.

I knew this was not true. I knew that the only focus our newly elected Congress was going to have was the next election. The campaign for ’16 started the day after the votes were counted in ’14.

Now, this vicious, mindless and totally destructive partisanship has invaded foreign policy. I want to ask this Congress the same question that was once asked of Senator Joseph McCarthy: Have you no shame?

The bottom line is that this constant partisan bickering shows no sign whatsoever of abating. It is getting worse. If it doesn’t stop, it is going to get us killed.

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47 Republican Senators’ Letter to Iran: Here It Is.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/

The letter that 47 United States Senators sent to the government of Iran is below.

This letter has set off something of a firestorm and a potential Constitutional crisis. A massive number of people have signed a petition demanding that the signatories be prosecuted for treason amid questions of whether or not the Senators broke the law.

Meanwhile the senators who signed the letter and the president are standing firm. The news is that the letter will “not derail the agreement.”

Here is the letter in full. You can read the petition here.  There is a legible list of the senators who signed the letter at the bottom.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton

4 the-letter-senate-republicans-addressed-to-theHere, from CNN,  is a list for Republican senators who signed the letter. Those who did not sign it are also listed.

Here is the full list of who signed:

Senator Tom Cotton, R-AR

Senator Orrin Hatch, R-UT

Senator Charles Grassley, R-IA

Senator Mitch McConnell, R-KY

Senator Richard Shelby, R-AL

Senator John McCain, R-AZ

Senator James Inhofe, R-OK

Senator Pat Roberts, R-KS

Senator Jeff Sessions, R-AL

Senator Michael Enzi, R-WY

Senator Michael Crapo, R-ID

Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC

Senator John Cornyn, R-TX

Senator Richard Burr, R-NC

Senator John Thune, R-SD

Senator Johnny Isakson, R-GA

Senator David Vitter, R-LA

Senator John A. Barrasso, R-WY

Senator Roger Wicker, R-MS

Senator Jim Risch, R-ID

Senator Mark Kirk, R-IL

Senator Roy Blunt, R-MO

Senator Jerry Moran, R-KS

Senator Rob Portman, R-OH

Senator John Boozman, R-AR

Senator Pat Toomey, R-PA

Senator John Hoeven, R-ND

Senator Marco Rubio, R-FL

Senator Ron Johnson, R-WI

Senator Rand Paul, R-KY

Senator Mike Lee, R-UT

Senator Kelly Ayotte, R-NH

Senator Dean Heller, R-NV

Senator Tim Scott, R-SC

Senator Ted Cruz, R-TX

Senator Deb Fischer, R-NE

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV

Senator Bill Cassidy, R-LA

Senator Cory Gardner, R-CO

Senator James Lankford, R-OK

Senator Steve Daines, R-MT

Senator Mike Rounds, R-SD

Senator David Perdue, R-GA

Senator Thom Tillis, R-NC

Senator Joni Ernst, R-IA

Senator Ben Sasse, R-NE

Senator Dan Sullivan, R-AK

Here is the list of those who didn’t sign: 

Senator Lamar Alexander, R-TN

Senator Susan Collins, R-ME

Senator Bob Corker, R-TN

Senator Dan Coats, R-IN

Senator Thad Cochran, R-MS

Senator Jeff Flake, R-AZ

Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-AK

 

 

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President Obama’s 2013 Statement on Nuclear Iran Deal

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

This is the statement President Obama’s made on the agreement with Iran in November of 2013. The six-month timeline has drug on a bit further than he predicted.

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Outrage Over Racist Video Rolls. Everybody Apologizes.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Allison Meier https://www.flickr.com/photos/astrozombie/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Allison Meier https://www.flickr.com/photos/astrozombie/

Outrage over the video of Oklahoma University fraternity partiers singing a racist video is rolling forward.

The only people not apologizing are those voicing outrage and some people are apologizing and expressing outrage, both at once. African American students express hurt and betrayal.

“These are the same people who are shaking my hand after I score a touchdown,” one football player said. An African American alumnus of this fraternity said that watching the video was “like getting punched.”

The two young men who have been identified as participants in this video have received death threats via twitter and Facebook. They have both been expelled from the school. A protest is being planned at the Dallas home of one of the young men.

The plot thickened when one of the young men who has been identified as a participant in singing the racist chant, Parker Rice, said that the chant had been taught to members of the fraternity. That moves the issue from the behavior of a few young men to a question of the behavior of the entire fraternity.

As I said in an earlier post, the Greek system at OU is almost a separate university within the larger university community. There are bigger questions about that system which need to be addressed than just this one video.

“I hope they think long and hard about what they’ve done,” OU’s president David Boren said of the young men. “They won’t be back,” he added, referring to his decision to expel the two students, “not while I’m president of this university.”

Here are the apologies of the one of the young men and the family of the other.

Parker Rice:

I am deeply sorry for what I did Saturday night. It was wrong and reckless. I made a horrible mistake by joining into the singing and encouraging others to do the same. On Monday, I withdrew from the university, and sadly, at this moment our family is not able to be in our home because of threatening calls as well as frightening talk on social media.

I know everyone wants to know why or how this happened. I admit it likely was fueled by alcohol consumed at the house before the bus trip, but that’s not an excuse. Yes, the song was taught to us, but that too doesn’t work as an explanation. It’s more important to acknowledge what I did and what I didn’t do. I didn’t say no, and I clearly dismissed an important value I learned at my beloved high school, Dallas Jesuit. We were taught to be ‘Men for Others.’ I failed in that regard, and in those moments, I also completely ignored the core values and ethics I learned from my parents and others.

At this point, all I can do is be thoughtful and prayerful about my next steps, but I am also concerned about the fraternity friends still on campus. Apparently, they are feeling unsafe and some have been harassed by others. Hopefully, the university will protect them.

For me, this is a devastating lesson and I am seeking guidance on how I can learn from this and make sure it never happens again. My goal for the long-term is to be a man who has the heart and the courage to reject racism wherever I see or experience it in the future.

Thank you for your consideration of my deepest apologies for what I did.

From the parents of Levi Pruitt:

As parents of Levi, we love him and care for him deeply. He made a horrible mistake, and will live with the consequences forever. However, we also know the depth of our son’s character. He is a good boy, but what we saw in those videos is disgusting. While it may be difficult for those who only know Levi from the video to understand, we know his heart, and he is not a racist. We raised him to be loving and inclusive and we all remain surrounded by a diverse, close-knit group of friends.

We were as shocked and saddened by this news as anyone. Of course, we are sad for our son – but more importantly, we apologize to the community he has hurt. We would also like to apologize to the – entire African American community, University of Oklahoma student body and administration. Our family has the responsibility to apologize, and also to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. Our words will only go so far  – as a family, we commit to following our words with deeds.

To our friends and family, thank you for your kind comments and prayers. They are very comforting in this difficult time.

We ask that the media and public please respect our family’s privacy as we come together to heal and determine next steps.

This is a video of an interview of an African American alumnus of this same fraternity.

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History of the Crusades: Richard the Lionheart, Genius and Virtue

 

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings of a thousand years ago. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost over a thousand years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/03/history-of-the-crusades-richard-the-lionhearted-defeats-saladin-1192/#ixzz3U6W1vnQn

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Here’s the Racist University of Oklahoma Fraternity Video

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by xploitme https://www.flickr.com/photos/45928872@N08/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by xploitme https://www.flickr.com/photos/45928872@N08/

The racist University of Oklahoma fraternity video that’s been in the news is below.

The video was released by the campus group Unheard. Unheard is working to increase African American presence at OU. They sent a 12-page letter of grievances to OU’s President Boren earlier. President Boren said that he agreed with most of the grievances. He was already working with Unheard to implement many of their suggestions before the video surfaced.

The University of Oklahoma has a long-standing divide between “the Greeks” and “independent” students. The Greeks are, in many ways, a separate university, and a law unto themselves.

I don’t believe this video reflects the attitudes of most of the larger student body or faculty at OU. However, it clearly reflects the attitudes of this fraternity. Also, African Americans are underrepresented in the university student body and faculty. I believe that is what President Boren is working with Unheard to change.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national leadership closed the OU chapter.  I hope that, in addition to facilitating the reforms which Unheard is advocating, President Boren will consider a thorough investigation into the Greek system at OU.

Here’s the video.

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Mr President, Whatever Happened to the People’s Right to Know?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a powerful and inspiring speech before a joint session of the United States Congress last week.

The single most compelling thing about this speech was his commitment to Israel. I would give anything if American elected officials actually cared about America the way that he so obviously cares about Israel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu came before Congress to speak on behalf of Israeli interests. He told us that Israel would stand alone if it had to, but that the days when Jews silently and obediently marched into the gas chambers were over. Jews would defend themselves. He underscored this by bringing Elie Wiesel, the well-known survivor of the Holocaust, to sit in the gallery while he spoke.

The primary concern he raised during his speech was about a possible agreement between the United States and Iran concerning nuclear development in Iran. He is opposed to this agreement on the grounds that it not only will not stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, it actually facilitates them in doing this.

President Obama went nuts in a public way in his opposition to the invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu. He felt — rightfully so — that the invitation was a partisan jibe at the White House by a Republican Congress. What he forgot is that he doesn’t have a vote in Congress. Congress can invite whomever they want to address them. The prez has nothing to say about it.

There was the usual tut-tutting in the press, most of it appearing to have been fed to it by the White House. Several members of the Obama Administration gave interviews trying to cast the speech as oh-so-damaging to America’s interests. Then the prez got 50 members of Congress to boycott the speech, making themselves look like party hacks in the process.

I believed at the time and I still believe that the reason the White House was so upset was that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech could very well have served the purpose of drawing the American people into the debate. I don’t think the prez cares all that much what Congress thinks, since Congress has consistently proven itself to be completely indifferent to matters of governance.

I think the president of the United States was upset because there was a possibility that the people of the United States might become informed about this potential agreement and voice opinions of their own. I also think that much of the press were his allies in trying to keep the people from hearing this speech. In other words, I don’t think his objective was Prime Minster Netanyahu talking to Congress. I think the president — and his hacks in the press and Congress — objected to the fact that the American people would hear him do it.

Think about that for a moment. The press is allied with the government to keep the people uninformed, because the President doesn’t want the American people meddling in their own government. That’s what I’m saying.

I’m going to stop this analysis at this point and take it up again tomorrow. I think the comments I’ve made about the run-up to the speech itself and the situation in Washington are enough for us to chew on today. They strike to the heart of the American malaise.

What are you feelings about this?

1. Has Congress abdicated its responsibility and allowed the president to govern as an elected dictator?

2. Do you wish that American elected officials cared as passionately about America as Prime Minister Netanyahu cares about Israel?

3. Was the president angry about the speech because he didn’t want the American people to hear a viewpoint that opposes his plans for this agreement with Iran?

4. Is the press colluding with the White House in keeping the American people in the dark about the agreement?

Those are serious questions. I want you to think them over before we move to the questions raised by the speech itself. We’ll talk about what Prime Minister Netanyahu said tomorrow.

 

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History of the Crusades: Richard the Lionhearted Defeats Saladin 1192

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings of a thousand years ago. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost over a thousand years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/03/history-of-the-crusades-richard-the-lion-heart-vs-saladin/#ixzz3TzPYt5J8

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Day Off. Back Tomorrow.

I’m overwhelmed with Mama stuff, as well as two deaths of long-time friends this weekend.

I’ll try to get back with a post tomorrow.

In the meantime, be nice to one another.

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The Popes and the Sister Speak Against the Death Penalty

Our popes have spoken with a consistent voice against the death penalty. I agree in general with Pope Francis’ comments on life sentences. Life sentences should be reserved for capital crimes and people who simply cannot be allowed to walk free because that would endanger the public safety. However, I do not support ending life sentences altogether. 

My favorite line in these videos is when St Helen Prejean said, “Gospel of Jesus stretches us.”

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

Pope Francis on the death penalty and life sentences.

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Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Tadeusz Gorny

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Tadeusz Gorny

Pope Benedict XVI on the death penalty, as well as in favor of marriage.

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Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Don Lavange https://www.flickr.com/photos/wickenden/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Don Lavange https://www.flickr.com/photos/wickenden/

Sister Helen Prejean on the death penalty and the crucifixion.

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