Sassing Back at Senator Sanders

Senator Sanders, fresh from losing to Hillary Clinton, has decided to take up theological arguments in the middle of a Senate hearing for a position in the Office of Management and Budget. (BTW, we could use Dave Ramsey in the OMB, but he was not the nominee.) Apparently believing what most Christians have believed for the last 2,000 years, and having the audacity to publish opinions based on this belief is enough to get the socialist Senator extremely angry. (Watch the video here. Senator Sanders acts shamefully starting at about 24:00, and then at 40:00.)  Russell Vought, unfortunately, was not expecting this treatment, and so this exchange quickly devolved into verbal mud-wrestling.

We Christians need to get used to this sort of treatment, and be ready to respond quickly. So here are some proposed improvements to Mr. Vought’s responses:

Sen. Sanders: Let me get to this issue that has bothered me and bothered many other people. And that is in the piece that I referred to that you wrote for the publication called Resurgent. You wrote, “Muslims do not simply have a deficient theology. They do not know God because they have rejected Jesus Christ, His Son, and they stand condemned.” Do you believe that that statement is Islamophobic?

Vought: Absolutely not, Senator. “Phobia” means irrational fear, and in the long run, there is nothing to fear even from Islamic terrorists. Even though they currently kill gays, Jews, and Christians, they will all, just like you, Senator,  bend their knees before King Jesus. Unfortunately, in the short term they seem to be causing some problems, such as blowing up gay nightclubs and pop-music concerts. And that is why I practice concealed carry, Senator. Do you?

Sen. Sanders: I apologize. Forgive me, we just don’t have a lot of time. Do you believe people in the Muslim religion stand condemned? Is that your view?

Vought: Are you asking me if I believe that Muslims will not go to heaven when they die?

Sen Sanders: Yes, that is a fair restatement of my question.

Vought: I assure you that on that point, I am in complete agreement with the position of the American Atheists Society.

Sen. Sanders: What about Jews? Do they stand condemned too?

Vought: Don’t you mean “we”? If you are concerned about where you will go when you die, then perhaps can talk in another place.  May I remind you that, even though I am a Christian, I am nominated for a job in the Office of Management and Budget, not a job in the National Cathedral.

Sanders (shouting): I understand you are a Christian, but this country are made of people who are not just — I understand that Christianity is the majority religion, but there are other people of different religions in this country and around the world. In your judgment, do you think that people who are not Christians are going to be condemned?

Vought: Thank you for probing on that question. As a Christian, I believe that all individuals are made in the image of God and are worthy of dignity and respect regardless of their religious beliefs. I believe that as a Christian that’s how I should treat all individuals, including those who constantly interrupt me in the middle of a sentence.

Sanders: You think your statement that you put into that publication, they do not know God because they rejected Jesus Christ, His Son, and they stand condemned, do you think that’s respectful of other religions?

Vought:  I said that I strive to respect all individuals, even if they have beliefs that I disagree with.  So for example, I try to respect even people whose holy book tells them they can have multiple wives, and that Jews would be turned into monkeys and pigs.  I even try to respect people who call themselves socialists, and who own 3 houses that they don’t share with others.

Sen. Sanders: I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this nominee is really not someone who this country is supposed to be about.

Chairman: Perhaps you should look up the beliefs of the people who sailed on the Mayflower…


Sympathy for the Debbie (Wasserman Schultz, That Is)

Poor Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla). In a recent New York Times interview, she made a remark about younger women, who are apparently not so excited about Hillary:

Do you notice a difference between young women and women our age in their excitement about Hillary Clinton? Is there a generational divide? Here’s what I see: a complacency among the generation of young women whose entire lives have been lived after Roe v. Wade was decided.

For this comment, a number of conservatives are annoyed, but fragile young leftist women, feeling hurt by her comments, are now screaming for her head.   Sometimes the revolution eats its own.

Like most Floridians, she can sense when the sharks are in the water, so she quickly backtracked with a few tweets like this, where she tried to identify herself with this younger generation:

I want to be clear about this: Many in *my generation* got complacent after Roe, thinking the fight for safe, legal abortion was over. 1/6

What she said in the New York Times interview and what she said in her Tweet can only both be true if she is less than 43 years old.  Which she obviously isn’t.

As a conservative who is amused by her stumbles, and as a father of young ladies, I am happy to help explain this “complacency” among young women.  It is not so much “complacency” as it is a sharp division of opinion.

Ms. Wasserman Schultz is surely aware that children tend to be like their parents.  This may be why, in a moment when her Jewishness trumped her liberalism, she was caught on tape saying that intermarriage was “a problem” for Jewish people.  Children of interfaith marriages tend to leave Judaism because they were not fully raised in it.  She is right about this, though her thought is hardly original, and when confronted, she backtracked again.  Heck, Moses, Ezra, and Nehemiah said that it was a bad idea for Jews to marry non-Jews, unless they converted first.

Now, if children tend to grow up sharing the beliefs of their parents, then let’s apply this thought to the issue of beliefs about abortion.  If you attend a pro-life event, you will typically see a lot of young people and moms pushing strollers.  This is because, on average, pro-life people tend to have more babies (this is not just a Catholic phenomenon), who have a good chance of growing up to be pro-life.

In contrast, while some of the children of strongly pro-choice parents hold their parents’ views, many of the children of strongly pro-choice parents are not politically active at all.  In fact, they are not active at all, because they were never born.  And so there is evidence that the younger generation, despite being more liberal on most social issues, is more conservative on abortion than the generation before it.

So Debbie, lighten up.  The problem is not complacency, it is that your side is making yourselves extinct by putting your views into practice.  This is unfortunate, but you cannot say that we pro-lifers failed to warn you.


Why Americans Can’t Win in Syria (And Shouldn’t Try)

About 18 months ago, I happened upon about 25 protesters outside of Congressman Mike Kelly’s office.  They were protesting possible military action in Iran.  Strangely enough, there was no serious consideration of military action against Iran at the time, and Mike Kelly didn’t really have much to say about the imagined action against Iran.  But the Congressman’s office is strategically located, and it was a pretty nice day by the standards of Erie, PA, in February, so there they were, protesting away merrily.  I spoke to a few of them and concluded that a) they were all pretty clueless b) having a protest like this was kind of like a substitute for church for some of them.  I wrote about my experience with the protesters here.  I guess that makes me an internet journalist.

Now the President has proposed an actual military action against Syria, with real bombs and missiles, and I am wondering where the protesters are when we really need them.  I even posted on the Erie Peace and Justice Center’s Facebook page to ask if a protest has been scheduled.  (If it has, they should know when and where it is.)  Because I might just make a sign and join this protest.  They wouldn’t know what do with me at a protest, and I might look a bit square in that crowd.  My protest songs would be different from theirs, too.  But it could be an interesting moment of political ecumenism.

My problem with this proposed war is that, the way it is being sold to us, we can’t win it.  (Incidentally, that is one of the several criteria for a just war, according to Augustine.  You have to enter into the war with some chance of success, however that is defined.)  I don’t mean that our soldiers won’t be able to go over there and kick some butt for a while.  They are very good at that.  I mean that, in the long term, because we are Americans, and because of the way the war has been sold, that no good will come of us getting involved.  Here is my reasoning.

1.  The actions Obama is proposing are not sufficient to meet his goals.

The president has said that we can’t allow the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and so Bashir al-Assad must be punished with bombs and missiles.  However, he says that we are not attempting “regime change” in Syria, and we will not send troops into Syria.

If our goal is to keep Assad from using chemical weapons, then it seems that we have two choices.  We can remove Assad from power, or we can remove the chemical weapons from him.  Obama already said that he is not pursuing regime change, so we have eliminated the first option.  That means that he is counting on destroying Assad’s chemical warfare capabilities with bombs and missiles.  And he is counting on doing that after giving up the element of surprise, so the weapons could not be hidden.  This is not realistic, so this strategy will fail.

If our goal is to punish Assad, it seems that we have two choices:  We can take away his power (thus supporting the rebels), or we can endanger his life.  We don’t punish him by just bombing his country, because he doesn’t really care if we kill some of his people.  So a limited bombing strategy will not achieve the goal of punishing Bashir al-Assad

2.  Because these actions are not sufficient to meet our goals, the war WILL escalate, and we will find ourselves choosing the side of the rebels.

Once we start bombing Syria, we can’t expect Assad to just turn over his weapons.  First of all, he can’t take the humiliation, and secondly, even if he says he got rid of his weapons, we could never trust him.  As we continue to bomb him, that will of course weaken him militarily.

Therefore, because the initial strategy failed, we will drift into a strategy of regime change by supporting the rebels.  This will be a violation of Obama’s initial stated goals, but very few people will notice.

3.  Once we choose sides in this war, we will find that there were no good choices.

Bashir Al-Assad is a brutal dictator, so replacing him might not sound like a bad idea.  In fact, some of our Senators want to help get rid of him.

Some of the rebels are decent people who just want to get rid of Assad, but many of them are heavily influenced by al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.  If they get into power, we can expect more persecution of minorities within Syria, and more threats toward Israel.  This is what we got in Egypt, once the dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak was overthrown by the protesters, which led to the ascension of the Muslim Brotherhood.

4.  Once we find out that there were no good choices, we will probably try to solve the problem with American-style meddling.

This will mean that we may try to work with the new government to try to make them into nice people.  They aren’t nice people, so we will fail, but not until we have “helped” them enough that we bear some responsibility for their failure.

This failure could take the form of moving our soldiers into Syria to “help” the transitional government, as they write a new constitution that ensures the primacy of Sunni Islam over the Kurds, Christians, Druze, and Alawites.  That would mirror what we did in Afghanistan.  Or we could just stand aside and ineffectively complain as the new government reflects the values of the Muslim Brotherhood, like we did in Egypt.

The last decade should have taught us that we can’t make Muslims act like Methodists.  That is a job for missionaries, not soldiers.

5.  The new government will be required to hate us.  But if Assad holds out, he will hate us more.  Therefore, if we lose, we lose, but if we win, we also lose.

If we help the rebels win, the first thing that they will have to do is hate us.  The leadership will feel the need to prove that they are not American puppets.  Most likely, they will feel the need to rail against the Great Satan (us), and they will probably engage in saber-rattling with Israel, AKA The Little Satan.  (If they capture the poison gas stockpiles, it could get worse than saber-rattling.)

6.  Ironically, the best thing to do is…. nothing.

This is not the Cold War, and we don’t have to pick the side that is opposing the side supported by Russia.  Really.  Anyone younger than Senator McCain should be able to figure this out.

We don’t need to get our soldiers shot at, in order to support one set of nasty people over another set of nasty people.  The war over there is not worth a drop of American soldiers’ blood, as long as they keep it within their borders.

If we let the Syrians fight it out themselves, then we will not pick the loser, or get stuck with a winner who is just as bad as the loser.

If we don’t take sides, the winners won’t feel the need to distance themselves from us.  And the responsibility for the results of the war will be theirs, not ours.

If we don’t take sides, we might even be able to help them make peace if they get tired of killing each other.

So, I hope that this latest outbreak of war fever can be contained, and that we can learn the lessons of the last decade.  And if anyone in Erie is planning a good anti-war protest, at a time and place that does not conflict with my work, I just might attend.

The Problems of Senator Menendez

The news has come in that Senator Robert Menendez, D-NJ, had an unpaid 18 year old intern working for him, who was an illegal alien.  Even more astonishing, the fellow, who was 18 years old, was also a documented sex offender.

You can read the whole article here:

I am tempted to go on a rant about how terrible Senator Menendez is, and how he should resign now, so Chris Christie can appoint a replacement.  Much as I would like that to happen, that is not what I am going to do.  Someone else can do that better.  Besides, the senator, whatever his other faults, is probably just an average doofus by Washington, DC standards.  So I will just offer a few calm thoughts on the matter.

1.  I am all for teenagers working, and at 18, this teenager was old enough to vote.  That is, he would be able to vote if he was a citizen.  But according to the article, he had “worked on immigration issues” for the senator.  At age 18, shouldn’t he be making coffee in the senator’s office, or maybe filing, or helping the Senator’s staffers figure out how to use the latest electronic gadgets?

Either the kid was really bright, or the Senator had terrible personnel policies.  I bet on the second option.

2.  Any private company, before hiring a person, has to prove that the person is eligible to work in the USA.  Companies can get into big trouble for hiring ineligible workers.  My company’s application has “are you eligible to work in the US” as one of the first questions.  How did the senator’s screening process not reveal that this fellow was on a visitor visa and not eligible to work in this country?

3.  Were there no American citizens available to become interns for the Senator?  In early 2012, if I remember right, there were thousands of Occupy Wall Street protesters who were just finishing their protests.  The Senator could have easily found one of those people, who was an unemployed college graduate with a Political Science degree, and given him a job as an intern.  He probably could have found a New Jersey resident in the bunch, and it could have helped the kid.

Is being an intern for a Senator now a job that Americans won’t do now?

4.  How does a person get to be a registered sex offender, and also get to stay in the country for 2 more years?

Is sex offending also a job that Americans won’t do?

5.  Finally, I know a young man who got a summer job as a school custodian, cleaning up the school and preparing it for the next school year.  Even though he never went near an actual student, he was required to have a drug test and a criminal background check, which included a check for sexual offenses.

Shouldn’t congressional interns, who just might be exposed to sensitive information, have some level of screening before they take the job?

6.  I said above that I will not pick on Senator Menendez.  However, this episode does reveal something about him.  It reveals that he is not capable of running his own office in accordance with the laws of this country.  Most companies bigger than a lawn care service do a better job than him.

When Senators like him (and the other 99 of them) tell us their great ideas for how they want to run this country, we should treat them with considerable skepticism.  Most of them are not super smart.

That is why our Founding Fathers designed the Federal government to have limited powers, with lots of checks and balances.

The Man I Haven’t Met (Or, Why Obama Should Lose)

I understand that the polls have been favoring Obama lately.  That might have something to do with his minions’ insistence that Mitt Romney hasn’t paid taxes for 10 years, or that he caused a woman to die from cancer, or that he nominated for VP a man who pushes wheelchair-bound grandmothers of of cliffs.  Negative ads work, at least for a while, even if they are totally false.  Of course, once you have accused your opponents of murder, tax fraud, and causing cancer, you might run out of shockingly bad things to say by October.

But I think Obama will lose, possibly in a landslide, and here is why.

I know a fellow who is a small businessman, and who hates Ronald Reagan.  He also hates George W. Bush, and he voted for Obama in 2008, because he said we needed a huge change.  He will be voting for Romney this time around.  He hates Obama’s lawless approach to immigration, and he hates the ridiculous requirements that the Obama administration has put on his business.  He also doesn’t like incumbents.

I know another fellow who is as far left as I am to the right.  He also hates Bush and Reagan, and he was gung ho for Obama in 2008.  This year, he is just not enthusiastic about politics at all.

I know another fellow who was thoroughly pro Obama in 2008.  He will vote for Obama in 2012, but only because he has no where else to go.  He said once that if he were giving Obama a grade, it would be a C-.  Perhaps now that the campaign is in full swing, he is getting more enthusiastic, but then again, maybe not.

Anyhow, I have talked politics with a good number of people.  I have met McCain supporters who will vote for Romney, with varying levels of enthusiasm.  I have met Obama supporters who will vote for him again (with varying degrees of enthusiasm), and Obama 2008 supporters who will be backing Romney in 2012.

I have not met a single person who has said, “You know, I voted against Obama in 2008, but he has actually done a pretty good job, so I expect to vote for him in 2012.”  Not a single one.

This tells me that, whatever the polls say right now, they will say something different in November.

Given the number of people that I know, and how many people have changed their mind, or their level of enthusiasm,  I have to believe that Obama will get about 48% of the vote this time around, compared to 53% last time around.  Those numbers should lead to an Electoral College victory for Romney.

What I Learned From the Protesters

As I was driving by the library, I saw about 25 anti-war protesters in front of Rep. Mike Kelly’s office.  They had the usual variety of anti-war signs, and they were protesting a possible war with Iran.  Being the inquisitive person that I am, I decided to stop and ask them about their protest.  Besides, I thought something may have happened while I was at work.

The first protester had a quote from Albert Einstein on her sign that said “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.” I asked her if something had happened recently that triggered the protest.  She said that Rep. Mike Kelly had not said anything particularly notable, but that he was in favor of taking a hard line against Iran.  However, some in the Obama administration felt the same way, so Rep. Kelly was not a particular target of their protest.  Also, one of the protesters mentioned that Friday afternoon was a good day for a protest, because the Bayfront Parkway was busy at that time and more people would see them.  But there was no particular reason to have the protest on that day or in that place.

Another protester had a sign that said “Stop Lying About Iran.”  I asked this female protester what the particular lies were that people were spreading.  Her response was that people were lying about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  First of all, she assured me, he was not at all interested in developing nuclear weapons.  Iran is regularly inspected for weapons and she is sure that they are only using nuclear material for peaceful uses.  Secondly, she told me that Ahmadinejad never said anything about wiping out the Jews.  Apparently his words were being misinterpreted and he doesn’t really hate Jews.  In fact, she told me, the Jews in Iran are so well treated that they don’t want to leave.

I asked her if she knew what they do to homosexuals in Iran.  She had no idea that they kill homosexuals there.  I also asked her if she knew what they did to Christians and other religious minorities.  Again, she had no idea what is going on inside the country.  She probably had no idea what their religious police do to woman like her who do not cover enough of their bodies.

At about this time, one of the protesters got out her camera and started taping me.  If I see me on YouTube, I might post the link.  Or not, depending on what they do to me.

The next protester had a sign that said “How Is The War Economy Working Out For You?”  I asked this protester how much he believed we were spending each year on wars.  He said, “Trillions.”  Another nearby protester or two agreed with him, and one of them said, “F#%$-ing Trillions.”  I was scribbling a few notes, so he asked me to write that down.  I then asked what the size of the US budget was for the year, and none of them had any idea, except that they were sure that money for health care and teachers was being cut.

[For those who like numbers, the real numbers are that President Obama requested $712 billion for all military activity last year, of which $159 billion was for “overseas contingency operations” like Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a lot, but it is not anywhere near trillions.  The total projected federal spending for 2011 was $3.708 trillion.  And we have almost never actually cut spending, ever, at the federal level.]

At this point, Corbin Fowler made the comment that I was not a disinterested person.  I never claimed to be anything but curious about what they believed.  He also made some comment about my shoes, and something about Pat Boone, who I just learned is still alive.  Apparently there is something about wearing $50.00 black leather shoes from Kohl’s that caused me to remind him of Pat Boone, or makes me a member of the 1%, or something.  If you didn’t understand that last sentence, it is because his words made no sense to me either. If anyone wants to explain his reasoning to me, I’m all ears.

At this point, I was about 1/2 of the way through the line.  Next I passed the woman dressed up as Mike Kelly.   I didn’t bother to ask about the “Make Love, Not War” sign.   His sentiment was clear, even if it wrongly assumed that the two activities are mutually exclusive.  Pharaoh would disagree, as he regarded fruitful lovemaking as an act of war, against him, that needed to be suppressed.

So what did I learn from the protesters?  I learned that these particular protesters were rather clueless.

Congratulations, Jack Stull !!!!

The off year elections were generally not very exciting, and turnout in most places was low.  However, there was one bright spot for my family.

Jack Stull, my stepfather, decided to run for Waterford Township Supervisor.  (For my non-local readers, Waterford Township is a rural township south of Erie with a population of about 3000.)   It was too late to get on the Republican or Democratic ballot line, and I don’t think he is happy with either party right now, so he collected enough signatures to get on the Constitution Party line on the ballot.

Usually a third party candidate doesn’t have a chance, but Jack has lived in Waterford all his life, and he knows EVERYONE.  He made sure to get out and talk to everyone too.  The Republican and the Democrat did not work nearly that hard.  Apparently the Republican was complacent, and the Democrat, well, let’s just say that Democrats are rather outnumbered in that township.  The Erie Times-News runs a short article about all of the local races, and the Democratic candidate didn’t even bother to answer a few questions for the newspaper.

Jack also made several large signs out of plywood and 2 x 4’s.  No cheap plastic signs with the metal frames for him.  These signs were sturdy, and were painted in bright yellow and green, and were placed strategically.  Everyone, even the most apathetic voters, knew he was running.  He also sent out a few hundred letters, explaining his stance on a local issue.

There are only two polling places in Waterford Township.  On election day, he and a few local family members worked the polls, and made sure that everyone was invited to vote for him.

On Election Night, I called my mom and asked jokingly how things were going at campaign headquarters.  I figured that he might come in second, just because the Democrat was apparently not trying.  My mom said they were just about to go to the polling stations to see how the counting was going.

A few minutes later she called back.  “We won!! By 23 votes!”  I told her not to celebrate too hard.

Jack had received 264 votes.  His Republican opponent got 241 votes, and the Democrat got 128 votes.

After the election, Jack had put a “Thank You” over his signs, and he left them up for the rest of the week.  On Sunday, I was down to visit, and he was busy retrieving his signs.

“Raymond,” he said, “If you want to run for office some time, we’ll just paint these signs a new color.”