Cherry Picking the Prez’ Big Speech

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

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

I’ve known for several months now that I had a job of work ahead of me, explaining the current situation in Washington.

I’ve dreaded doing this because, (1) There’s a lot I know that I can’t say, (2) People are going to get mad at me because of what I have to say, and (3) I’m worn thin by worries about my mother and that makes me sort of trigger happy in how I respond to rude comments.

However, I’m going to have to try to share this with you folks. The reason I have to do it is that Christians who want to engage the political culture for Christ need a much more accurate understanding of the beast they’re riding than they do now.

President Obama’s State of the Union address is an excellent place to begin this process. It was, in my opinion, the best State of the Union address he’s given since he was elected president. He’s at his best when his back is against the wall, and the elections last November shoved him hard against the political wall.

He’s made several disastrous political mistakes during his time in the White House, chief among them, the totally idiotic and destructive HHS Mandate. I got called all sorts of names myself for saying he was an idiot to do this, but he was an idiot for doing it. The HHS Mandate is an example of what happens when political power toadies to one special interest.

Any president who goes to court against the Little Sisters of the Poor … well … that president is not being too swift.

The HHS Mandate is an example of the kind of stupidity that happens when Barach Obama feels exalted and is full of himself.

The State of the Union address last night is an example of what we get when he’s fighting his way out of a corner. Nobody gets to the Oval Office without being a fighter. Not one person who sits behind that desk is a softy, or a weak-kneed sap who runs away from a fight. The electoral process is, when money doesn’t overawe it, a magnificent selection process which weeds out those who can’t or won’t fight.

Unfortunately, it does not weed out those who get too impressed with their own victories and go leaping off political cliffs in fits of presidential hubris. That’s how we got the Viet Nam War. It’s how we ended up with Clinton’s gun control bill and the HHS Mandate. Presidents who are too full of themselves make idiotic political moves which harm the country and destroy their own political parties in the process.

But there’s one thing I can say for our presidents: They may dip their toes in political idiocy when they start believing their own campaign ads, but we’ve never yet elected a president who was a coward. Every single one of them would rather fight than switch.

President Obama’s State of the Union address was a gauntlet, and he threw it down. If he’d opted for programs like these at the beginning of his presidency, he wouldn’t have been speaking to a Republican Congress last night. Instead, he chose to go on tangents against the First Amendment and attack the Catholic Church. He blew off a Democratic Congress to pass a health care statute which helps insurance companies a lot more than it helps people.

I’ll wait until Monday to start unpacking the politics of it. We’re going to school next week, and I imagine that by the end of the week everybody, both on the right and on the left, will be gathering up their ropes and looking for a tree to lynch me. I’m not going to make anybody happy. But as I said, I have a job of work to do. This sort of thing is a big part of why I am here.

President Obama made allusions to several concerns without putting any specific policy ideas forward. Among those were global warming, support for organized labor and trade agreements. I think some of this is window dressing and some of it concerns things he intends to address outside of Congress. That raises a whole other issue which I’m going talk about in depth next week.

For this post, I’m choosing to highlight those points he made which were attached to actual policy suggestions.

As always, with every president, there are policy ideas here I like, and others that I think need a bit of tweaking to be workable.

Here are a few of the highlights of President Obama’s State of the Union Address.

1. I’ve been a good president.

We believed we could reverse the tide of outsourcing, and draw new jobs to our shores. And over the past five years, our businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs.

We believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet. And today, America is number one in oil and gas. America is number one in wind power. Every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008. And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save $750 at the pump.

We believed we could prepare our kids for a more competitive world. And today, our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record. Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high. And more Americans finish college than ever before.

We believed that sensible regulations could prevent another crisis, shield families from ruin, and encourage fair competition. Today, we have new tools to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts, and a new consumer watchdog to protect us from predatory lending and abusive credit card practices. And in the past year alone, about ten million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage

…  Already, we’ve made strides towards ensuring that every veteran has access to the highest quality care. We’re slashing the backlog that had too many veterans waiting years to get the benefits they need, and we’re making it easier for vets to their training and experience into civilian jobs. Joining Forces, the national campaign launched by Michelle and Jill Biden, has helped nearly 700,000 veterans and military spouses get new jobs. So to every CEO in America, let me repeat: If you want somebody who’s going to get the job done, hire a veteran. Since 2010, America has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and all advanced economies combined. Our manufacturers have added almost 800,000 new jobs. Some of our bedrock sectors, like our auto industry, are booming. But there are also millions of Americans who work in jobs that didn’t even exist ten or twenty years ago — jobs at companies like Google, and eBay, and Tesla.

2. Wages, Equal Pay. 

Of course, nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages. That’s why this Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work. Really. It’s 2015. It’s time. We still need to make sure employees get the overtime they’ve earned. And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go  If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.

3. Education.

I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college — to zero … Understand, you’ve got to earn it — you’ve got to keep your grades up and graduate on time.

4. Trade and Exporting Jobs. 

But as we speak, China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region. That would put our workers and businesses at a disadvantage. Why would we let that happen? We should write those rules. We should level the playing field. That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair.

5. Medical Research. 

Tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes — and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.

6. Taxes. 

As Americans, we don’t mind paying our fair share of taxes, as long as everybody else does, too. But for far too long, lobbyists have rigged the tax code with loopholes that let some corporations pay nothing while others pay full freight.They’ve riddled it with giveaways the superrich don’t need, denying a break to middle class families who do. This year, we have an opportunity to change that. Let’s close loopholes so we stop rewarding companies that keep profits abroad, and reward those that invest in America. Let’s use those savings to rebuild our infrastructure and make it more attractive for companies to bring jobs home. Let’s simplify the system and let a small business owner file based on her actual statement, instead of the number of accountants she can afford. And let’s close the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top one percent to avoid paying taxes on their accumulated wealth. We can use that money to help more families pay for childcare and send their kids to college. We need a tax code that truly helps working Americans trying to get a leg up in the new economy, and we can achieve that together.

7. Terrorism and War. 

I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership. We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now — and around the globe, it is making a difference.First, we stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists — from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris. We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies.At the same time, we’ve learned some costly lessons over the last thirteen years.

No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism. And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information. If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe.

8. Child Care, Sick Leave and Families.

… we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. And that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America — by creating more slots and a new of up to $3,000 per child, per year.

Here’s another example. Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave. Forty-three million. Think about that. And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home. So I’ll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own. And since paid sick leave won where it was on the ballot last November, let’s put it to a vote right here in Washington. Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave. It’s the right thing to do.

Does Women’s Rights Equal Abortion?

Me, at ceremony presenting resolution against violence against women.

Me, at ceremony presenting resolution against violence against women.

It seems I’ve run afoul of the atheist portal here at Patheos One. More. Time.

Nobody sticks in these folks’ collective craw more than I do. They love to hate me and they love to trash me. If one of them was slowly slipping away, I think the doc could show them one of my blog posts to get their poor little heart started beating again.

I’m  not sure how I do it, and to be honest, I don’t care, but I do get under their skin. They react to me the way Tribbles react to Klingons.

I’ve studiously ignored this carrying on up to now, and I intend to go back to that same path as soon as I finish here. But I do have a small bone to pick with one of the more outlandish claims against me that has been published on that portal.

Dan Arel, who blogs at Danthropology, has a big case of outrage going over my recent blog post about the Prez. It seems that calling President Obama an idiot is a bridge too far for Mr Arel. That’s his opinion, and he’s welcome to it. Writing blog posts trying to get at me is also his call. It actually would be difficult for me to come up with a description of how little I care.

I’m not even all that exercised about the one point that I’m going to discuss here. I just think it leads into an important point that needs making.

In his outraged defense of the president, Mr Arel — as atheists seem wont to do — veers off into personal attacks against me. As often happens with personal attacks against me, he immediately goes into fantasyland and presents made-up nonsense as fact.

This paragraph is a case in point (emphasis mine):

Rebecca Hamilton is a former politician who spent her career attacking women’s rights. Now it seems in retirement, her life will be no different. She does not think women are able to make the choices that are right for them and instead wants the President to give her and her religion the privilege of making these choices for you.

Oh me. Oh my. Such a big fat lie. 

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Lil ol’ me, speaking at a rally to end domestic violence.

Here’s just a sprinkling of things I’ve done (This is just off the top of my head. I’m sure there’s more.) during my career-long “attack” on women’s rights:

1. One of 6 founders of the first rape crisis center in Oklahoma.

2. Got first funding for statewide domestic violence shelters.

3. Author of the original protective order in Oklahoma. 

4. Creator of the first statewide rape hot line in Oklahoma. 

5. Authored legislation to allow rape victims and victims of domestic violence time off work for counseling, court visits, medical care without losing their employment. 

6. Authored legislation to provide state funding for day care. 

7. Authored legislation to make human trafficking illegal in Oklahoma.

8. Passed a law to keep rape victims’ information private.

9. Host and co-creator of the Oklahoma Day of Prayer for an End to Violence Against Women.

10. Authored bill to stop doctors from paying women to allow their bodies to be harvested for eggs.

11. Authored bill to stop forced abortions.

12. Authored bill making it a felony to beat up a pregnant woman.

13. Authored bill outlawing female genital mutilation in Oklahoma.

14. Authored bill to make rape by instrumentation a crime in Oklahoma. 

Lessee now. What might I have done that could possibly be construed as “attacking women’s rights?????”

Tap, tap, tap …

Could it be the fact that I oppose abortion? 

That’s all I can think of. And it does fit. 

Because in some people’s minds, “women’s rights” is abortion. They think that if you aren’t in favor of abortion on demand, then you must be opposed to “women’s rights.” On the other hand, they think that if you favor abortion on demand, then that’s all there is to women’s rights.

Oddly enough, even in this, Mr Arel’s hateful hyperbole overreaches the facts by a few miles. I opposed abortion in the second half of my career. During the first, pre-conversion half, I was the pro choice poster girl of Oklahoma. I’ve got enough Margaret Sanger awards and other pro choice attagirls from that phase of my life to paper the walls of my house with them. I was the de facto go-to person in the Oklahoma legislature for those who wanted pro life bills killed dead. And I delivered, because I was, as one of my fellow House members told me, “one hell of a legislator.”

Before I was ever elected to office, I was the Oklahoma director for NARAL.

So puhllleeeezzzz Mr Arel, consider who you are tarring with your abortion-is-women’s-rights brush. I know more about this issue — from both sides — than you will ever learn.

One of the things I know, and that I have learned to my horror and grief, is that abortion kills a living child. I can’t tell you how devastated I was when I realized the full horror of what I had done during my anti-God years.

Not only was I shattered by my own crimes against humanity, but as a woman who cares deeply about women’s rights, I felt trapped in a conundrum. How could I work to ensure women’s rights and prevail in my life-long work to speak out for justice for womankind and still protect these unborn children’s lives? That was the question.

I found the answer in the place where we all must look: The abundant mercy and love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Jesus is Lord of every life, whether the person acknowledges this or not. He loves Mr Arel just as much as He loves me, or you. He loves him and wants to offer him forgiveness and the free gift of eternal life just as He loves and cherishes the unborn child.

We are all His brothers and sisters, all God’s children.

Jesus loves women with a special depth of love because He is the author of life and women are the bearers of life. We are His cooperators in the life force. He chose to be born of a woman Himself.

This does not mean that God intends His daughters to be limited to that one single role. We are not walking uteri. We are human beings, made in His image with all the hungers, desires and needs for significance, achievement and the fullness of life that men have. Diminishing us to the role of childbearing as if that was all there is to us is not God’s plan. It is the devil’s curse on humankind.

Misogyny is the human race, at war with itself. And abortion, which strips women of their uniqueness, is an attack on women’s humanity at a profound level. Women should not have to chose between a murdered child and a ruined life. That, and not some nebulous “right” to murder both their own child and their own maternity is what women’s rights should be.

Pregancy and childbirth should never be used as a weapon to terrorize women or limit their lives. Rather than ending this discrimination and misogyny, abortion cooperates with it. Abortion is just the old misogynist double standard, turned sideways. It puts the whole burden of human sexuality back on the woman once again.

I don’t blame Mr Arel for being such a twerp about all this. He is, after all, both a man and an atheist, which is a combination that, based on my reading, seems to struggle with ideas of women’s rights based on women’s humanity. In fact, this group seems to struggle with ideas of intrinsic and universal human rights for any group of people. Based on things he’s said and done, I would guess that he’s also got a special hate going toward me.

All that adds up to a king-sized pair of blinders. When he puts forth the women’s rights = abortion equation, he is repeating the mindless cant he’s been taught around who knows how many intellectual campfires.

What I would like him to do is to take those blinders off, or at least peek around them, and see the love and compassion that Our Lord extends to him. Mr Arel is wrong about abortion, wrong about God and, in a far lesser question, wrong about me.

I wish him the best thing I could wish anyone, that he accepts the love of Christ and begins the journey to heaven. Whether he knows it, or wants to believe it or not, he is my brother; my lost and angry brother.

I pray for you Dan. You are a child of the living God.

Now, I’m back to ignoring the atheist portal.

President Obama is an Idiot

What kind of political idiot would pick a fight with the Little Sisters of the Poor?

Our president, that’s who.

The Little Sisters of the Poor had their day in court yesterday. Arrayed against them were the forces of the President of the United States and his Justice Department.

I have no words for this stupidity. Even if the President wins this fight, he loses. It defies political logic.

From the Becket Fund:

Sr. Loraine Marie Maguire, Mother Provincial of the Little Sisters of the Poor:

As Little Sisters of the Poor, we offer the neediest elderly of every race and religion a home where they will be welcomed as Christ, cared for as family and accompanied with dignity until God calls them to Himself.  We have done this for over 175 years because of our faith in God and our vocation as Little Sisters of the Poor.

But now the government demands we choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith.  We cannot do that and we should not have to.  It is a choice that violates our nation’s historic commitment to ensure that people from diverse faiths can freely follow God’s calling in their lives. But the government forces us to either violate our conscience or take millions of dollars that we raise by begging for the care of the elderly poor and instead pay fines to the IRS.

We are not seeking special privileges.  The government exempts huge corporations, small businesses, and other religious ministries from what they are imposing on us–we are simply asking to carry on our mission to serve the elderly poor as we have always done for 175 years.

We are thankful that the court has heard our case and for the work of the Becket Fund, and we prayerfully await the judges’ decision.

The following statement can be attributed to Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead attorney for the Little Sisters of the Poor:

A year after losing at the Supreme Court, the government’s aggressive pursuit of the Little Sisters of the Poor continues. Untold millions of people have managed to get contraceptives without the involvement of nuns.  The idea that the most powerful government in the world cannot come up with a way to distribute these products without forcing the Little Sisters to participate is ridiculous.

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Canada: Hit and Run that Killed Soldier is Called Terrorist Attack

Canadian authorities are doing something that American authorities appear to be incapable of doing: They are telling the truth.

They have named a recent hit and run in which Martin Rouleou-Couture used his automobile to murder one soldier and injure another at a strip mall as terrorism. The attack ended with the police shooting and killing Mr Rouleau.

Mr. Rouleau, who was Muslim, had been monitored by Canadian anti-terrorism forces since June.

According to police, he sat in his car outside a building housing military offices for around two hours before running over the soldiers. Mr Rouleau’s Facebook page evidently made statements supporting ISIS, and bashing Jews and Christians.

What is different about this and the beheading here in Oklahoma, as well as the murders at Fort Hood by Major Nidal Malik Hasan is that the Canadian government has not aggressively labeled it “workplace violence” or a “random nut” or some other mis-applied designation to avoid telling the truth.

I don’t know if Canadian talk show hosts have gone on air mocking and degrading everyone who dares to depart from the party lie that this is workplace violence, as they did after the beheading here in Oklahoma. I do know that if this was America, the national media would ignore the story if possible, and then, if forced to report it, would label it the action of a “lone nut.”

They would then follow up with “round-table discussions” engaging in sophomoric attacks calling anyone who raises any other possibility than the party lie a racist, bigot, lying fool.

After the tawdry display over the beheading which happened here in Oklahoma, I no longer look to my government or most of the media for anything resembling truth about these things. They are engaged in propaganda. Nothing more.

Will the Canadian Prime Minister ignore the victims of this terrorism while sending high-placed government officials thousands of miles to read a greeting at the mosque where this terrorist worshipped?

Will both the government and the press diss the victims in this tragedy the way that the American president and much of the American media dissed both the victims and the people of Oklahoma when the beheading occurred here? I hope not.

Given that Canadian authorities are actually being honest with their people instead of attempting to propagandize and control them, maybe things will play out differently there. It would be way past good if it did.

America’s elected officials and media could both use a few lessons in honesty from somebody.

From The New York Times:

OTTAWA — A hit-and-run car crash that killed one soldier and injured another this week was a terrorist attack, Canadian politicians, police and military commanders all suggested Tuesday, saying it had resulted from another Canadian’s turn to radical Islam.

But little had emerged about why the man driving the car, Martin Rouleau-Couture, became radicalized last year or ran over the two soldiers at a strip mall in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, on Monday.

The attack, which ended with the police fatally shooting Mr. Rouleau, as he was known, came at a time when Prime Minister Stephen Harper, like most of his Western counterparts, has been vigorously denouncing the Islamic State movement and warning of possible domestic terrorist attacks. Mr. Harper’s government has indicated that it is about to introduce new antiterrorism legislation, a move that troubles some civil liberties lawyers.

But the death of Patrice Vincent, 53, a warrant officer, and the wounding of an unidentified soldier underscored the difficulty the police and intelligence agencies face when dealing with radicalized citizens.

Superintendent Martine Fontaine of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said at a televised news conference that a special antiterrorism force had begun monitoring Mr. Rouleau in June and arrested him a month later when he was about to fly to Turkey. He was released for lack of evidence that he intended to join a terrorist group. Meetings between the Mounted Police and Mr. Rouleau, 25, continued until Oct. 9.

President Obama Discusses Ebola

President Obama summarizes what’s happening with Ebola in the US.

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President Obama Sends Message to Killer’s Mosque. Did He Ignore Victim’s Family?

 

My mother was an amazing woman, loving wife to my father and adoring grandmother.
She made me feel loved everyday.

 

President Obama has set off a bit of a firestorm by sending a congratulatory message to the mosque where Alton Nolen, the man who committed the Oklahoma beheading, worshipped.

The message itself is a routine congratulatory message to Muslims during the celebration of Eid al-Adha. I don’t know if the White House extends similar congratulatory messages to Oklahoma Jewish worshippers during the High Holy Days, or if the head of the Oklahoma Southern Baptist Convention or the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City receive White House congratulations during Easter and Christmas. We’ve got a lot of faiths here in Oklahoma. Do they all get this white-glove treatment?

If they do, I haven’t heard of it.

I feel reasonably certain that no other house of worship in Oklahoma City has had such a message hand-carried and then read aloud to them by David Myers, the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Faith-based Neighborhood Partnerships; especially not after one of their members went out and murdered a grandmother shouting the religious slogans of their faith.

While the message itself is a pro forma political attaboy, (or in this case, attaimam) I don’t think it’s customary to issue such messages to all faiths. I’d bet the ranch that this extreme case of a White House aide hand-carrying it over 1500 miles to read it aloud to worshippers is more than a little bit unusual.  If this was common practice with all faiths, we’d need a lot more directors.

What really galls me is the one-sidedness of the behavior. So far as I know, President Obama chose not to send a message of condolence to, or in any other way acknowledge, the family of Colleen Hufford. Colleen Hufford is the 54-year-old grandmother who lost her life to a knife-wielding man shouting Islamic slogans.

Based on her daughter’s statements to the press, Mrs Hufford’s family has been supported by their Oklahoma community and, lately, by the larger American community. But there was no mention of any word from the Mourner in Chief.

Colleen Hufford was not a political inconvenience. She was not and is not a challenge to the politically correct script our government and most of our media is reading to us.

Colleen Hufford was, according to her daughter Kelli Hufford, “a caring and compassionate woman.” She was Meemaw to her granddaughter. She loved to garden, and was a devoted hockey fan. One thing you realize watching her daughter’s statement is that this was a good woman, with a loving family. To see her daughter’s full statement, go here.

Here is the formal statement from Colleen Hufford’s family:

For her life to have been taken in such a tragic act of violence adds a depth of grief we are trying to comprehend. We want to thank the wonderful family and friends who have come to our aid during this very difficult time with messages of hope and prayer. 

Here’s the message the president sent:

Michelle and I would like to extend our best wishes to Muslims in the United States and around the world who are celebrating Eid al-Adha, and to congratulate those performing the Hajj this year.

“As our Muslim neighbors and friends gather for Eid celebrations, Muslim Americans are among the millions of pilgrims joining one of the world’s largest and most diverse gatherings. Hajj brings together Muslims from around the world — Sunni and Shiite — to share in reverent prayer, side by side. It serves as a reminder that no matter one’s tribe or sect, race or religion, gender or age, we are equals in humanity.

Obama Meets with Eastern Christian Leaders. Hears of Plight of Persecuted Christians.

President Obama “dropped by” National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s meeting with Eastern Christian leaders for a forty-minute discussion about the Christian genocide in Iraq.

From Catholic News Service:

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Eight Eastern Christian leaders spent 40 minutes talking to President Barack Obama about the situation of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East.  “We felt how deeply moved he was by what was happening to the Christians there,” Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, Maronite patriarch, said at a Mass later the same day at Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Catholic Church. The Sept. 11 Mass closed the three-day inaugural In Defense of Christians summit. A conference organizer told Catholic News Service

The cardinal said each of the leaders from Eastern Catholic and Orthodox rites had a chance to speak individually to Obama, who the White House said “dropped by National Security Advisor Susan Rice’s meeting at the White House.”

Although the White House did not release details of the discussion, throughout the summit the Christian leaders spoke of the threat to Christians and other minorities posed by Islamic State militants, particularly in Iraq and Syria. Several said they were advocating religious freedom, an inherent right. They spoke of the need for local leaders and the international community to become involved in a solution because, as one Orthodox bishop said, “no one can possibly agree to a beheading.”A White House statement, read out near the end of the In Defense of Christians summit, said Obama reinforced the U.S. commitment to fight Islamic State militants and other groups that threaten the Middle East, as well as American personnel and interests in the region.

My Questions about President Obama’s Address on ISIS

 

It’s almost too ironic that the president announced this on the eve of the anniversary of 9/11, which was the beginning of this war that appears to have ever-changing targets and no end.

I have several questions. First, it was around a year ago that President Obama wanted to bomb Syria because of allegations of the use of chemical weapons against ISIS. If we had gone ahead with that plan, it most likely would have destroyed the remaining infrastructure in the war-torn country and handed a total victory to ISIS.

I was totally against this, for a number of reasons. Among those reasons was my concern that bombing Syria would put these “rebels” (as they were called then) in power.

I’m raising this issue because I think it’s pertinent to last night’s speech. I want to wipe out ISIS. I regard that as a regrettable but necessary action to preserve civilization in the Middle East and stop the spread of violence into Europe, Russia, China, America and Australia.

I want to know that we’re going to be bombing ISIS, and not destroying the infrastructures of these countries. In more direct terms, bombing, if it doesn’t have the right targets, will not help end ISIS’ reign of terror. In fact it could do great harm.

Notice also the list of regions and countries that I said were menaced by ISIS. I know that looks like a broad swath for what is essentially a gang of murdering extortionists and pirates. But it is clear that ISIS is drawing murderers from the Muslim populations in all these areas. If the nations in question do not formulate more intelligent and self-preserving policies than they have followed up until now, they will most certainly find themselves dealing with this murderous and genocidal savagery on their home soil.

How does bombing play into that? Is bombing an effective and sufficient response?

I think that bombing will be an insufficient response unless it is accompanied by policy changes that address the issues of what we are going to do with people who go overseas to murder, rape and practice genocide then try to come back to the USA later. We also need to address the issue of how we are going identify people who are living here in the homeland who are funding and aiding ISIS.

I also wonder how, or even if, we are going to address the critical issue of who is funding ISIS. In military terms, cutting off funding to ISIS serves the same function as destroying the manufacturing plants of a nation that has actual war making power. It stops their war-making ability. It appears to me that those of us who oppose terrorist activities have been singularly ineffective at stopping the influx of what must be massive amounts of monies to ISIS.

I wrote two posts yesterday about a blog post calling for violent discrimination against Muslims. This was a single blog post on an obscure website. However, it is clear that ISIS is using the internet and other forms of communication to recruit what must be large numbers of murderers who are actually following through with the murdering. I’ve read that the videos of our reporters being beheaded will be (probably have been already) used to attract and recruit fresh murderers to this ignoble cause.

How are these calls to murder being channeled through the various communities where likely recruits are found? Is it done entirely by the internet? What part does word of mouth play in this? How are we dealing with these web sites?

I’m strongly in favor of freedom of speech. But direct recruitment of murderers to participate in the slaughter of innocent people who are then murdered in great numbers by these same recruits goes beyond the limits of what we ordinarily think of as free speech. It is akin to putting a murder for hire ad on the web. How are we going to deal with this?

We need to re-evalulate our laws that pertain to these issues and make the changes that are necessary to protect this country.

I want to think about this before I say more. Right now, what I mostly have are questions. In the meantime, I am interested in what Public Catholic’s readers think. I hope you will think these things through and share your ideas. I also hope that we can get beyond knee-jerk partisan sloganeering.

This is about genocide against Christians and other religious minorities, war that seems to be going on forever, and our domestic safety here in our homeland. Let’s put aside partisan loyalties and think about what is best for our country.

Here, for your consideration, is our president’s address from last night.

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President Obama’s Statement Regarding the Murder of James Foley

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This is the strongest statement I can remember from President Obama.

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President Authorizes Air Strikes Against ISIS, Aid Drops to Their Victims

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America is bombing ISIS strongholds and dropping food and water to trapped civilians.

President Obama assures us this is a limited engagement.

I am relieved we’re doing something. Our unnecessary war against Iraq early in this century set the events in motion that have ended in a genocide. We made this mess, and we can not stand around and watch and do nothing.

At the same time, the question arises: Why can’t the Iraqi military protect Iraqi citizens? The President said that he was also sending aid to the Iraqi military. I wonder if the problem is more fundamental than a need for aid.

If you watch the video I posted yesterday all the way to the end, you will see a member of the Iraqi parliament openly saying that members of that parliament have contributed to ISIS’ destruction of their country by supporting them.

How many people in the Iraqi military are also aiding and abetting ISIS against their own government? Treason doesn’t seem to mean the same thing in certain parts of the world that it does here in America. From Nigeria to Iraq, treason seems to be a way of life for members of the military.

We’ve got to stop this genocide. There are many reasons why we must do this, but the first and most salient is simply that we pulled the Saddam Hussein stopper out of the bottle and let the genocidal genie loose.

Here is  a video of President Obama’s statement. The transcription of the statement is below that.

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The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

Statement by the President

State Dining Room

9:30 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  Today I authorized two operations in Iraq — targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death.  Let me explain the actions we’re taking and why.

First, I said in June — as the terrorist group ISIL began an advance across Iraq — that the United States would be prepared to take targeted military action in Iraq if and when we determined that the situation required it.  In recent days, these terrorists have continued to move across Iraq, and have neared the city of Erbil, where American diplomats and civilians serve at our consulate and American military personnel advise Iraqi forces.

To stop the advance on Erbil, I’ve directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward the city.  We intend to stay vigilant, and take action if these terrorist forces threaten our personnel or facilities anywhere in Iraq, including our consulate in Erbil and our embassy in Baghdad.  We’re also providing urgent assistance to Iraqi government and Kurdish forces so they can more effectively wage the fight against ISIL.

Second, at the request of the Iraqi government — we’ve begun operations to help save Iraqi civilians stranded on the mountain.  As ISIL has marched across Iraq, it has waged a ruthless campaign against innocent Iraqis.  And these terrorists have been especially barbaric towards religious minorities, including Christian and Yezidis, a small and ancient religious sect.  Countless Iraqis have been displaced.  And chilling reports describe ISIL militants rounding up families, conducting mass executions, and enslaving Yezidi women.

In recent days, Yezidi women, men and children from the area of Sinjar have fled for their lives.  And thousands — perhaps tens of thousands — are now hiding high up on the mountain, with little but the clothes on their backs.  They’re without food, they’re without water.  People are starving.  And children are dying of thirst.  Meanwhile, ISIL forces below have called for the systematic destruction of the entire Yezidi people, which would constitute genocide.  So these innocent families are faced with a horrible choice:  descend the mountain and be slaughtered, or stay and slowly die of thirst and hunger.

I’ve said before, the United States cannot and should not intervene every time there’s a crisis in the world.  So let me be clear about why we must act, and act now.  When we face a situation like we do on that mountain — with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help — in this case, a request from the Iraqi government — and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye.  We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide.  That’s what we’re doing on that mountain.

I’ve, therefore, authorized targeted airstrikes, if necessary, to help forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and protect the civilians trapped there.  Already, American aircraft have begun conducting humanitarian airdrops of food and water to help these desperate men, women and children survive.  Earlier this week, one Iraqi in the area cried to the world, “There is no one coming to help.”  Well today, America is coming to help.  We’re also consulting with other countries — and the United Nations — who have called for action to address this humanitarian crisis.

I know that many of you are rightly concerned about any American military action in Iraq, even limited strikes like these.  I understand that.  I ran for this office in part to end our war in Iraq and welcome our troops home, and that’s what we’ve done.  As Commander-in-Chief, I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq.  And so even as we support Iraqis as they take the fight to these terrorists, American combat troops will not be returning to fight in Iraq, because there’s no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq.  The only lasting solution is reconciliation among Iraqi communities and stronger Iraqi security forces.

However, we can and should support moderate forces who can bring stability to Iraq.  So even as we carry out these two missions, we will continue to pursue a broader strategy that empowers Iraqis to confront this crisis.  Iraqi leaders need to come together and forge a new government that represents the legitimate interests of all Iraqis, and that can fight back against the threats like ISIL.  Iraqis have named a new President, a new Speaker of Parliament, and are seeking consensus on a new Prime Minister.  This is the progress that needs to continue in order to reverse the momentum of the terrorists who prey on Iraq’s divisions.

Once Iraq has a new government, the United States will work with it and other countries in the region to provide increased support to deal with this humanitarian crisis and counterterrorism challenge.  None of Iraq’s neighbors have an interest in this terrible suffering or instability.

And so we’ll continue to work with our friends and allies to help refugees get the shelter and food and water they so desperately need, and to help Iraqis push back against ISIL.  The several hundred American advisors that I ordered to Iraq will continue to assess what more we can do to help train, advise and support Iraqi forces going forward.  And just as I consulted Congress on the decisions I made today, we will continue to do so going forward.

My fellow Americans, the world is confronted by many challenges.  And while America has never been able to right every wrong, America has made the world a more secure and prosperous place.  And our leadership is necessary to underwrite the global security and prosperity that our children and our grandchildren will depend upon.  We do so by adhering to a set of core principles.  We do whatever is necessary to protect our people.  We support our allies when they’re in danger.  We lead coalitions of countries to uphold international norms.  And we strive to stay true to the fundamental values — the desire to live with basic freedom and dignity — that is common to human beings wherever they are.  That’s why people all over the world look to the United States of America to lead.  And that’s why we do it.

So let me close by assuring you that there is no decision that I take more seriously than the use of military force.  Over the last several years, we have brought the vast majority of our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan.  And I’ve been careful to resist calls to turn time and again to our military, because America has other tools in our arsenal than our military.  We can also lead with the power of our diplomacy, our economy, and our ideals.

But when the lives of American citizens are at risk, we will take action.  That’s my responsibility as Commander-in-Chief.  And when many thousands of innocent civilians are faced with the danger of being wiped out, and we have the capacity to do something about it, we will take action.  That is our responsibility as Americans.  That’s a hallmark of American leadership.  That’s who we are.

So tonight, we give thanks to our men and women in uniform  -— especially our brave pilots and crews over Iraq who are protecting our fellow Americans and saving the lives of so many men, women and children that they will never meet.  They represent American leadership at its best.  As a nation, we should be proud of them, and of our country’s enduring commitment to uphold our own security and the dignity of our fellow human beings.

God bless our Armed Forces, and God bless the United States of America.

END
9:38 P.M. EDT

 


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