Let’s fight pornography with compassion, not piety

RelationshipLove

Porn addiction is harmful to everyone involved.  Porn actors and actresses are physically harmed by the oversized penetration and rapid pace.  They are psychologically harmed by the humiliation, and hollowing out of something that should be very intimate.  Some are driven to suicide, many more are driven to drug addiction.  Viewers are harmed mostly psychologically.  Pornography desensitizes the libido, much like an addictive drug desensitizes the good feeling of dopamine in the brain (the high).  Pornography harms natural relationships by killing that wonderful feeling we get when being intimate with another.  Do you remember your first kiss?  I remember mine.  My face must have been red as a tomato!  I won’t dig any deeper than that, but the butterflies in the stomach, the rush of endorphins you feel your first time – it’s a beautiful thing!  Pornography offers only a hollow equivalent of that, and makes the real thing far more difficult to enjoy.

A well-intended article titled “3 Self Interested Reasons to go Porn Free” attempted to make this case, but relied far too much on piety.  The constant references to “sin” may appeal to Christians like myself, but we’re preaching to the choir.  Yes, I know many Christians are addicted to porn, but let’s not limit our message to them.  Besides, it gives the impression that you’re being preachy, contrary to the title of the article.  Still, the article made some excellent points.  Porn rarely delivers the hoped for thrill, and usually leaves the viewer “fixed”, but unhappy.  Many porn addicts are in denial, and will claim that it does make them happy.  This is all the more reason not to put them on the defensive by calling their behavior “sin”, even if this is true.

My main point here is that there is so much real evidence on our side that we don’t need to be preachy.  We won’t free people from pornography with legal prohibitions, nor will we won’t free them with judgment.  As a Christian, I remember Jesus among the tax collectors and the prostitutes, and it’s clear what He would do.  Let’s meet them where they are.  Instead of piety, let’s try compassion balanced with knowledge.   Let’s show how much we genuinely care for those who are hurting themselves and loved ones (especially spouses) with porn addiction.  Many think it’s victimless.  They often give selectively libertarian retorts such as “if consenting adults…” (and you know the rest).  So instead of judging them, let’s persuade.  ASAPScience has done an excellent short video on the Science of Porn Addiction.  ASAPScience is not a church group.  It’s not a conservative special interest.  ASAPScience relies on solid science to give short, entertaining, and very informative lessons.  As they show in the video regarding porn, the science is on our side.  Deep down, porn addicts know they have a problem.  They need to know how much happier their lives will be when they break their addiction, and learn to love real people again.

PS I love the reference to James Hetfield in the article.  Here is the link to that video.

Happy Presidents’ Day! I still like Ike!

This is my tribute to my favorite President, Dwight D. (Ike) Eisenhower.

I Like Ike campaign ad from 1952

Ike’s Farewell Address (from which the clip at the end of this video was taken)

To learn more about Ike’s Civil Rights record, I recommend “A Matter of Justice” by David Nichols

An excellent article from National Review on Eisenhower (sorry about the paywall)

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I don’t care if gays marry, and neither should the government

EllenPortiaMarraige

I’m not going to pretend to be a socially progressive gay right’s activist.  As a Christian, I was once a staunch opponent of same sex marriage because I felt that my religion compelled me.  I started supported the idea of gay civil partnerships when I concluded that such did not conflict with my religious beliefs (this was my position until around 2012).  After listening to several libertarians, including Julie Borowski, I came around to the libertarian position on marriage.  People should be free to marry whoever they wish and the government role in marriage should be severed.  This didn’t make sense to me the first time I heard it from Ron Paul.  When he said, “get the government out of marriage”, I just thought Oh Ron Paul, that’s your answer to everything.  Then I learned more about the history of government involvement in marriage, and learned that states started licensing marriage in the 19th Century in order to stop interracial marriage.  I remember a quote from Jesus,

16“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?17“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.…” – St. Matthew 7:17-18

No good has come from government marriage, as it was originally designed to oppress black people.  I see no reason why government should remain in marriage.  If the left has their way on this, “Marriage Equality” will be their Trojan horse for their true agenda – further centralization and expansion of government at the expense of religious freedom.  If the state only grants civil partnerships, as a contract, and marriage is seen legally as a separate issue to be handled privately, then everyone wins (at least, all people of good will).  Gays a free to marry, straights are free to marry, and churches and businesses are free to participate or not participate in marriage ceremonies based on their conscience.  As we have already seen, as government pushes marriage equality, rather than merely getting out of the way, it punishes cake decorators and whoever else opposes the leftist agenda.

The authoritarian left knows that marriage equality is happening.  State by state, individual by individual, and eventually church by church, it is happening.  If the left stands back and lets it happen, they lose an opportunity, just like they would have in the 1960s at the height of the Civil Rights movement.  Like Civil Rights, the left will not let progress happen without jumping on the opportunity to pass new laws eroding states’ rights, eroding religious freedom, as well as pushing the US Supreme Court to engage in further judicial activism.  For the left, this is no more about marriage equality than it was about racial equality in the 1960s.  It’s about big government, identity politics, pseudo-intellectual bigotries, and judicial activism.  Furthermore, if they have their way, marriage equality will be a wedge issue for decades to come, and gay people will pay the price.  Consider the Civil Rights movement.  As controversial civil rights legislation was passed and the US Constitution eroded, black progress came to a screeching halt!  They came so far in the 1950s and 60s.  Schools were starting to integrate, blacks were starting to get elected, and others were starting successful businesses.  But then it stopped.  Whites were coming around to integration and equality in concept, but affirmative action caused deep resentment.  It also allowed the right to find new ways of race-bating, such as the references to “welfare queens” in order to convince low income whites to vote against their own interests.

This is why I would encourage marriage equality advocates to push for this state by state, preferably by referendum.  They won’t win every time, but there’s always another election cycle.  This should not be federally mandated, nor pushed by an unelected panel of 9 judges.  I’d especially encourage marriage equality activists to oppose punishments for private individuals, businesses, or religious groups who disagree.  You don’t legitimize your cause by engaging in the same kinds of bigotry you seek to end.

People are coming around to marriage equality, and more will be persuaded simply because it’s the right thing to do.  The arguments against gay marriage are actually rather weak.  As a Christian, I can tell you that I am not persuaded by Old Testament bans on homosexual sex.  That same Old Testament bans pork, and I had sausage with my breakfast.  Those Old Testament laws were given by Moses to the ancient Jews in the context of about 1500 BC.  Homosexuality was banned, along with all other kinds of sex that was not reproductive.  This is because in ancient times, it was absolutely crucial to the health of a nation for people to have as many children as possible.  This is also why they practiced polygamy.  We don’t practice polygamy now (well, most of us).  In an overpopulated world, who are homosexuals hurting?

Obama and Bush are both right about Islam

ObamaAndBush

Normally when I compare Bush and Obama, I’m talking about the worst in Obama.  Not this time.  From the moment Obama took office, he has argued consistently that Islam is a religion of peace and that our conflict is with the terrorists.  Obama has pursued terrorists as President and eventually found and had Osama bin Laden put to death.  I’m not singing Obama’s praise, but he does deserve some credit.  Like Bush, however, he was often distracted by other conflicts in the Middle East that ultimately played into the hands of Al Qaeda (and now ISIS, or ISIL if you prefer).  With that said, Obama is certainly correct in asserting that Islam, as a whole, is not the enemy.

Obama takes a lot of flack from certain elements on the right for this.  They love to sardonically refer to Islam as “A religion of peace” while showing, say, a beheading by ISIS, or the Twin Towers crumbling.  However, Bush made the very same such statements, as this article explains, and the right had very little to say about that.  I’m sure they were gritting their teeth as Bush spoke fairly of Islam, rather than fueling their bigotry, but Bush has an “R” next to his name, so they held their tongues.  Obama, however, not only has a “D” next to his name, but speaking of his name, it’s Barack Hussein Obama.

Some of the less extreme critics of Obama’s policy on Islamist terrorism will at least distinguish between “radical Islam” and “moderate Islam”, but even that is misleading.  Even “radical Islam” as a whole is not the enemy.  Saudi Arabia for example is a valuable ally, but their version of Islam is about as radical as they come.  Saddam Hussein was far more tolerant of other religions and allowed far more rights to women than the Wahabi sect that dominates Saudi Arabia.  Iran is a nation with whom we have an antagonist relationship, but we haven’t had any direct conflict (other than threats and sanctions) since the hostage crisis over 30 years ago.  Iran is less radical that Saudi Arabia, as they do at least sanction some non-Islamic religions, mainly Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism.  They also fund a terrorist group called Hezbollah.  This is a dangerous and violent group, but they don’t attack us.  They mostly fight against Sunni radicals.  The enemy is not Islam, and it isn’t even necessarily radical Islam, it is specifically Al Qaeda, and the more radical ISIS offshoot.

The truth is that both Christianity and Islam are meant to be peaceful religions.  Both are very idealistic and seek the change the world through evangelism and charity.  However, both have very dark chapters in their history, as well as their religious texts.  It’s easy to cherry-pick and make one religion look very peaceful while making the other look barbaric.  In the end, its people, not religions, who do good or harm.  Individuals decide how they want to see their religious affiliations, and which parts they want to live by.  The non-religious are just as capable.

As I have often contended, however, while religions have dark chapters, there are plenty of examples of great leaders and great nations that have been religiously motivated.  FDR was an Episcopalian who felt his faith motivated him to fight for the poor and disadvantaged.  MLK led us to a new era of racial integration and cooperation, largely motivated by his Christian faith.  Malcolm X is a very interesting case.  He was always officially a “Muslim”, but originally was part of a very hateful fringe group called “Nation of Islam”.  This group was in reality an anti-White group that perverted the Islamic faith.  However, Malcolm X spent some time in Africa and then made his pilgrimage to Mecca as required by the Islamic faith.  As a result, he saw people of all races fighting for a common cause.  He also saw Muslims in Mecca of all races coming together in peace.  He then turned from the “Nation of Islam” and embraced Sunni Islam.  From that time onward, Malcolm X was also an advocate of racial equality and integration.  He has a reputation for violence, but he only supported violence in self-defense (while MLK was a pacifist).  Obama contents that religion can actually help in our fight against ISIS, and I think he’s right.  If human beings are so terrible with religion, imagine how much worse we’d be without it.  Want an idea?  Consider that the few examples of atheistic governments in human history have consistently resulted in massive atrocities and state-worship.  I’m not saying that atheists are inevitably this way, but so far, their track record is terrible.

As Fareed Zakaria explained on his GPS on CNN, Islam has, in the past, been a religion that has promoted science and social progress, and they can be again.  Both Bush and Obama realized this, and both realized that we need peaceful Muslims on our side in order to defeat the cancer that is Al Qaeda and ISIS.  Islam isn’t going away, but if we make Islam as a whole our enemy, that will only serve to legitimize ISIS in the eyes of Muslims everywhere…at least Sunni Muslims.  It will also further agitate Shia Muslims, such as most of Iran, with whom we’ve never had particularly good relations, but with whom relations could improve.

Is Lindsey Graham the slimiest Neocon of all?

LindseyGrahamAgain

Do they get any slimier than Lindsey Graham?  The same fear-monger who wanted to hide the truth about CIA torture, supported sacrificing our constitutional right to a fair trial due to fear of terrorism, supported invading Syria to fight against Assad on the basis that militant Islam is growing (never mind that Assad was fighting AGAINST those very Islamic militants)…well this same fear mongering, half truthing, opportunist now claims that Rand Paul is the one “creating anxiety for no good reason.”

Rand Paul did admittedly make a careless comment that he has heard of “many tragic cases of walking, talking, normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines.”  Still, looking at the big picture on Rand Paul’s position, he has stated repeatedly that he strongly encourages vaccinations, but opposes Federal mandates, as Dana Bash showed in this article.  This is actually the same position Lindsey Graham takes, yet Graham suggests that Paul would try to stop vaccinations by stating as part of this rebuttal of Paul that “I would reject any effort to stop vaccinations until someone can show me a scientific reason to do so.”  OK, and Rand Paul has made no attempt to stop vaccinations, only to stop efforts at a government mandate.  So what is the problem Mr. Graham?!

As Graham considers a Presidential bid himself, largely in opposition to Paul, this is clearly his first of what are likely to be many cheap attacks and straw man arguments.  I sincerely hope that Graham runs, because he is so detestable that his attacks against Paul would only serve to draw more favorable attention to Paul.  When I think of the other major neocons of our time, both politician and pundit, none do I find so detestable as Graham.  McCain is by far no saint, and a major flip flopper on domestic policy, but there is a consistency to his foreign policy idealism that I can respect (even while I reject it).  As McCain sees the US as a beacon of freedom and progress for the world, he supports almost limitless military invasions, but he also opposes torture.  After all, if we are to be the world’s moral police, we should at least practice such morals ourselves.  Bill Kristol has expressed such idealism as well in his essays for the Foreign Affairs, and I think he really believes what he says.  I think McCain and Kristol are both well intended, but are both idealistic fools who would throw us into devastating quagmires, as they have before.  Still, I could sit in the same room with them and probably have a civil debate.  There’s also Krauthammer, the most sober minded of the neocons.  His neocon hawkishness often carries undertones of pragmatism to the point where Krauthammer is a self-identified “democratic-realist”.  While I think Krauthammer is still far too quick to support military force, I know he thinks it through, and I’ll always listen to his point of view and consider it.  For Graham, however, I haven’t a shred of respect.

PS  I do want to express my gratitude to CNN’s Dana Bash for providing a fair analysis of this recent debate between Graham and Paul.  CNN isn’t perfect, as the recent interview with Paul on vaccines shows, but in the greater scheme of things, CNN has shown itself far more objective than the other major news networks, particularly FOX and MSNBC.  Also referenced above, here is the link the Bash’s article http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/03/politics/measles-vaccines-lindsey-graham-rand-paul/index.html

A link to an excellent Rare article on why the neocons are making a big stink out of this

Neocons want us to be aggressive? OK

BillKristolOnFox

Peaceful, enlightened southerners like myself are often blindsided by macho neocon rhetoric.  Neocon arguments seem to have descended from their grandiose pax Americana ideals of spreading freedom all over the world to simple appeals for US foreign policy to be “aggressive”, “assertive”, or “decisive”.  To anyone thinking critically, this begs the questions – Assertive towards what?  Aggressive towards whom?  And exactly what decisions should we be so decisive about?  And for what purpose?

To someone who thinks things through, their arguments fall flat.  Why then, are the great minds behind the neoconservative philosophy such as Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer, etc. using such weak, illogical arguments?  These are the people who have written brilliant pieces in the past for Foreign Affairs, and various academic journals.  They have written great books, have wielded great influence on policy makers, and are certainly capable of developing a more constructive foreign policy than “be aggressive”.  But we need to remember, the neocons may be intelligent, but they are also very politically expedient.  They know their audience.

When I see them on FOX news, and I see their GOP candidates from Jeb Bush (the establishment moderate) to Scott Walker (the supposed conservative challenger) using such rhetoric as “be aggressive”, or “be decisive”, I see how it affects the average blue collar southerner, especially men.  When the neocons criticize Obama for being weak or indecisive, this appeals to a certain primal instinct that has long dominated the white male southerner.  Southerners have a long history of such masculine insecurity masked by projections of machismo, and this is exactly why we keep hearing these clever rhetorical appeals by neocons that to anyone else seem illogical.

However, they underestimate the intelligence of the South, as Yankee intellectuals often do.  Yes, appeals to manliness may stir something in the male southern heart, but we are a very pragmatic people with a long memory.  (Why do you think you still see those Confederate Battle flags all over the place down south?)  The white southern man remembers the Bush era.  We remember the lies.  We remember the lack of WMDs.  Yes, some of us fell for the more recent half-truth that WMDs were found, and then “hidden” by those “liberals” in the media, even though those WMDs were nothing more than decommissioned weapons left over from the Iraq-Iran wars of the late 1980s.  Truth ultimately prevails, and the neocons will likely find that they can only mildly stir the “aggression”, “assertiveness” and “decisiveness” of the white south when there is a Democrat in the White House.  After all, we are the same people who elected Rand Paul, Justin Amash, Thomas Massie, Walter Jones, and more recently Dave Brat.  Neocon rhetoric and deception relies on Cold War era partisanship and tired sentiments held by an aging demographic of boomer southerners.  Even they are not so easily manipulated, despite 24/7 FOX.  After all, FOX knows too well that the neocons’ days are numbered, as they are branching out with the likes of John Stossel, Judge Napolitano, and even Hannity frequently interviews Rand Paul.  The neocons can maybe stir a little aggression by manipulating the machismo insecurities of an aging demographic in the south, but it grows weaker by the day.

Be aggressive?  Sure.  If the neocons won’t even attempt to give us a good reason for their wars.  If they continue to accuse those who point out their past mistakes of “blaming America”, then let’s aggressively point out the lack of purpose of today’s neocon foreign policy.  Let’s aggressively speak the truth.  And let’s aggressively vote out every neocon remaining in Congress.  How’s that for decisiveness?

Combating this neocon rhetoric in the South

Scott Walker has recently argued that we should be more “aggressive” in Syria.  But he never says towards whom we are supposed to be aggressive, or for what purpose?  Does he want us to be aggressive towards the Assad regime?  If so, why?  Is it because of those beheading we keep seeing?  But that’s ISIS!  Assad is fighting against ISIS.  So are we aggressive towards ISIS?  Do we ally with Assad?  If that is the case, then it’s a good thing Obama was indecisive a few years ago, because the neocons nearly had us at war with Assad.  Ooooppps!  So much for decisiveness.

Unlike the neocons, we must respect the intelligence of the blue collar southern man.  Reason with him, be patient, and know that you can’t win them all over.  We didn’t turn against the Iraq War overnight.  It happened little by little, year by year, as the facts presented themselves.  Don’t let the neocons get away with empty appeals to manliness anymore.  Be aggressive, be decisive about foreign policy.

Making Baseball Interesting Again

MarlinHitter

Baseball is a most unfortunate waste of a good game.  Nowhere in the world will you find a sport so detailed, with so much potential for action without violence.  Yet the game has become incredibly boring, and that is largely because it is so defensive.  Pitchers usually strike out the batter, or the batter hits a fly ball that is caught, putting him out.  When a good batter comes up, the pitcher just walks him, for fear of a home run.

Major League Baseball is considering some rules changes to make the game more exciting, primarily a pitcher clock.  The pitcher will have a 20 second time limit for each pitch, and be penalized if he lets it run out.  This is a good change that will at least move the game along, but it doesn’t go far enough.  I have a much better suggestion, as follows:

Optional Walking.  The batter, if pitched for “balls”, should be able to decline the option to walk.  Strikes still count, but on the 4th ball, the batter may decline to walk and force the pitcher to pitch again.  With each continuing ball, the batter may continue to decline.  However, as the strikes still count, the batter would risk being struck out.

That is my proposal.  That way, when you see batter after batter struck out, and finally that awesome batter steps up to the plate, the pitcher will no longer be able to pitch four way off plate just to get that batter on first base, and go back to striking out.  Remember, it only takes 3 outs to change back to offense.  And with 3 plates, a pitcher can walk 3 good batters in a row, still not allowing a run.  If the next batter isn’t great, he will most likely either be struck out, tagged out, or hit a fly that will be caught, putting him out.  I think this change will allow more runs and make the game somewhat more offensive.  Good batters will no longer be a single base walk, but will actually have their fair chance to hit that home run.

What do you all think?