Marco Rubio – Old Wine in New Bottles (5 Reasons)

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Marco Rubio may have a fresh face and uplifting tone, but his ideas are as stale as two week old French bread.  I do recognize his genuine efforts to focus on the positive and avoid mudslinging.  Therefore, I have no intention of attacking his character.  However, I find his policy agenda so abhorrent that I will show no restraint in attacking his ideas.  Despite Rubio’s youth, positive tone, and handsome face; he is simply a repackaging of tired, Bush era GOP policies – he is old wine in new bottles.  Here are five examples of recycled GOP policies:

5.   Rubio supports Oil Subsidies. Years ago, there was a debate over possibly ending the $4 billion a year our government uses to subsidize big oil companies.  Only two principled Republicans voted to end this corporate welfare, Rubio was not one of them.*  I sent Rubio a letter requesting that he support an end to this corporate welfare.  He responded with a lengthy letter.  Maybe two sentences explained that he would not end oil subsidies due to rising gas costs, and then nearly two pages were devoted to Obama bashing.  Sorry Rubio, bashing Obama doesn’t make you a conservative, nor erase your big government agenda.

4.   Inconsistent on Medicare funding, consistent on partisanship. Like most Senate Republicans, Rubio denounces Obamacare because it cuts Medicare funding, yet supports the Ryan plan that practically has the same effect.  So in other words, it’s not a “cut” when Republicans do it.  We really do need to control the costs of Medicare, and both parties seem to realize that.  I just wish they’d work together instead of slinging mud over a policy that is controversial, yet they both agree upon.

3.   Civil liberties take a back seat to “national security”. Rubio was one off the staunchest supporters of the NDAA of 2012, which allowed the Executive branch (that is, Obama and Eric Holder) to arrest and indefinitely detain those they regard as terrorists, or associates thereof; without a trial.  Rubio attempts to defend himself here, but if you read the bill (Sec. 1021 on p. 265 if you follow the link), you’ll see that it could allow far more than Rubio claims.  This appalling disregard for our Bill of Rights was bad enough.  His fellow Senator from Florida, Bill Nelson, at least attempted to amend the NDAA of 2012, by placing a time limit on said detention, but Rubio opposed that also.  Rubio is a supporter of this, the (un)Patriot Act, and all such post-9/11 efforts to use fear to erode our civil liberties.

2.   Supports special tax breaks for Wall Street. Like most establishment Republicans, Rubio sings Reagan’s praises while supporting a tax plan that goes the very principle of Reagan’s tax reforms.  In 1986, Reagan passed a brilliant tax reform package that forced Wall Street to pay the same tax rate as everyone else by making the so-called “Capital Gains” tax rate (the special rate for Wall Street) the same as the regular income tax rate.  Rubio, however, like most Republicans, including the flagrant hypocrite Rush Limbaugh (Hey, I didn’t say I wouldn’t attack Limbaugh’s character), claims that “Capital Gains” taxes are a “double tax” and should be eliminated.  In other words, if you work for your money, you pay taxes under Rubio’s plan, but if you make your money on “capital gains”, such as in the Stock Market, you pay no taxes.  Currently, Wall Street pays a marginal rate of 20% (before exemptions) while regular income earners at the highest bracket pay 39% (also before exemptions).  This is what constitutes fairness in GOPonomics.  What?  Are you jealous of Wall Street’s success?  But they’re the job creators!

1.     Rubio is just another neocon too willing to start more wars. Like Bush, like Chaney, McCain, Graham, etc. Marco Rubio thinks frequent meddling in other countries is good for them and for us.  He is in denial about the failure in Iraq as you can see here, he supported arming the rebels in Syria, which is partly responsible for the emergence of ISIS, he seems to think we should now be fighting ISIS while poking Iran at the same time, even though Iran is doing a better job of combating ISIS than we are.  If Rubio were to become president, we’d just have more expensive, destabilizing wars; often creating more problems than we solve.  If we’d never invaded Iraq in the first place, if we’d stayed out of Syria, we’d have caught bin Laden long ago and there’d be no ISIS.

Rick Perry has claimed, for example, that we could have stopped ISIS if only we had done more to stop Asaad.  HELLO?!  Asaad is fighting AGAINST ISIS!  Rubio would never say something so stupid, yet his policies are the same.  However, Rubio is able to inspire without making a fool of himself….and that is why he is dangerous.  If they were all like Rick Perry and Sarah Palin, we’d be better off.  But Rubio is actually taken seriously.

As my followers know, I’m a Paul supporter.  And it’s not like I agree with him on everything (He unfortunately also opposed ending oil subsidies).  But looking at the big picture, Rand Paul brings fresh ideas both to the Republicans and to libertarians.  Mostly important, he brings fresh ideas to the country as a whole.  Rubio, however, is just more of the same in a handsome young package – he is old wine in new bottles.

*On this, I’d like to express my gratitude for Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe for putting principles before party on the oil subsidies issue.

Military Adventurism in the Conservative Big Tent – My Peer Reviewed article!

If I’ve been a little slow with my blog and vlog lately, it’s because I was wrapping up this article.  The full title is “The Decline of Military Adventurism in the Conservative Big Tent: Why Grassroots Conservatives in the United States are Embracing a more cautious foreign policy“.  I cannot post the entire article here, but it is a free, open access journal provided by Sage Publications.  You can either read it directly on their website, or have a PDF emailed to you.  Just follow the hyperlink I just gave.  I can at least post the abstract, as follows:

It is now clear that the American conservative movement can no longer be easily categorized as “hawkish” on foreign policy. This essay examines the different perspectives, ranging from intellectuals and experts to grassroots conservatives and popular political culture, to grasp the widening range of foreign policy preferences that currently make up the conservative movement (or conservative big tent). Second, this essay considers the challenges that these hawks, mainly the neoconservatives, are likely to face due to the realities of generational politics. This essay will therefore provide a useful analysis of the different foreign policy preferences in the American conservative movement in the 21st century.

The Love Affair with Netanyahu – Pseudo-conservative Hypocrisy knows no bounds

NetanyahuandBoehner

What are the “conservatives” trying to conserve?  The recent love affair with Israel’s Netanyahu only further proves the hypocrisy of the American right wing.  The same people now praising Israel’s Netanyahu; a decade ago were saluting the flag, praising George W. Bush, and unquestioningly following him into war.  Anyone disagree?  Their response was, “If ya don’t like uh’mer’ca, leave da country!”  Remember that?  Now these same people say, “I wish Netanyahu was our President”.  I want to first expose the hypocrisy of the American right (the pseudo-conservatives) and then move on to show that Netanyahu is not showing great leadership in this situation.

Whatever you think of Obama, he is our President (and birthers, just take a hike right now…seriously).  If the “conservatives” valued any of the principles they claim, they would not go against our Constitution, undermine our national sovereignty, and bring a foreign Head of Government into the middle of our internal political disputes.  According to Article II, “The President… shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur…”  The final decision is to be made jointly between the President and the Senate, but the President is to be our chief negotiator in foreign affairs.  Furthermore, there is a long tradition of Congress putting aside partisanship in foreign affairs for the sake of keeping a united front when facing the rest of the world.  If we are to be strong internationally, we can’t air our dirty laundry to the rest of the world.  But since when do these so-called “conservatives” let that pesky constitution get in the way of partisanship?  The right wing isn’t interested in conserving our Constitution, the separation of powers, or America’s sovereignty.  They at least defended our sovereignty when Bush was in the White House, but even that no longer matters.  Russell Kirk, a true conservative, once said that “some eminent Neoconservatives mistook Tel Aviv for the capital of the United States”.  Lindsey Graham is clearly one of those neoconservatives, as he has said to Netanyahu “We will follow your lead”.

So what ARE these so called “conservatives” trying to conserve?  Israel?  Well, the next time one of the neoconned* starts with all their praising of Netanyahu and how they wish he were OUR President, I’m going to respond, “If ya don’t like uh’mer’ca, leave da country!”

As for Netanyahu, is he really such a great leader right now?  I do want to make it clear that I support our alliance with Israel.  But does Netanyahu really feel the same way?  I wouldn’t think of intervening in Israel’s internal political disputes.  I don’t blame Netanyahu for initially accepting the invitation from Congress.  However, when he saw how much internal controversy it was causing in the US, and how controversial it was with the American people**; he should have politely declined.  If I were him, I would have sent a very polite letter to Congress, something like…

“I continue to value Israel’s friendship with the United States of America, and in the interest of that friendship, I will not, as Prime Minister of Israel, interfere in America’s internal political disputes.  Therefore, out of respect for America’s sovereignty and our continued friendship, I must politely decline your offer to meet with Congress without also having the approval of your President.”

That is what a good leader and good ally would do.  But Netanyahu has decided that short term political gain, and supporting the neocon agenda, is far more important than America’s sovereignty and even Israel’s long term best interest.  Israel desperately needs the US, and this will not be remembered fondly by Americans (neocons perhaps, but they are globalists first and Americans second).  I think Netanyahu now should issue either an apology, or at least some kind of clarification that he hopes that he did not get involved in America’s internal disputes nor did he intend to disrespect the Office of the President of the United States.

*I call them “neoconned” because I speak of your average, grassroots Republicans.  They have been manipulated by the neocons, such as Bill Kristol, Sean Hannity, etc. but they themselves think they are “conservatives” and many have never even heard the term “neocon”.  They have been neoconned.

**I have seen several polls with varying conclusions on this, so in the interest of fairness, I will show you several.

This one shows that a majority of those who answered considered the speech inappropriate without Presidential approval.

This one shows pretty much the opposite of the above

Let’s fight pornography with compassion, not piety

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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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Follow my Youtube Channel – Professorwag

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

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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.