Dr. Forbush Thinks

Look at the world through the eyes of Dr. Forbush. He leads you through politics, religion and science asking questions and attempting to answer them....

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Location: California, United States

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Religion and Politics - Who Wins?

Religion is serious stuff.

Politics is also serious stuff.

Faith is the belief in something without having proof. Once you believe in what you can not see or hear or even imagine everything else becomes so much easier to ignore, deny or denounce.

Politics is using what you have to do what you can to make things the way you want them to be. It seems to me that religion could really mess that up or it could help you get that done.

As a very skeptical Roman Catholic deist I am offended by the remarks of James Dobson, the famous preacher and leader of Focus on the Family. In referring to a speech the Barack Obama made two years ago he claims that the Senator was making stuff up when it came to his thoughts on religion. Actually when it comes to religion everyone is making stuff up and trying to imply that God gave them the very answer that they are seeking. But, by looking at the many different religions and all of their various answers it is clear that none of these religions has the total truth to themselves. Barack Obama was making this very valid point with respect to the relationship between religion and politics. And, James Dobson, fearful of the truth in Barack’s point began doing what conservatives of little substance seem to do lately. They begin name calling.

The question seems to be - If you represent a group of people with various religious beliefs, do you impose your own beliefs on them or do you respect the broad variety of beliefs in your constituency when you make your decisions?

Be careful in your thinking here, because this is a fundamental point of contention between the political parties and politics in America at the present time.

Many issues might hinge on how you should make your decisions here if you were elected to public office. Lets look at the Death Penalty. If you are a Roman Catholic from a largely protestant district you would likely find yourself in conflict with you constituency on this issue. Roman Catholics are taught to respect life, all life and they are taught that man should not take that life away. They are opposed to the Death Penalty, without any exceptions. But, a district composed mainly of American Protestants are more likely to believe that death is the right punishment for some crimes. So, how does a man vote on this issue with this conflict in mind?

This is not an unusual situation in our day and age. For example, most governors will be asked to intervene in the carrying out of a death penalty sentence. The governor is generally the final appeal. If that governor happens to be a religious Catholic he would be caught between his religion and the duty of his office. And, most governors do not prevent the execution of any prisoner in their state even the Roman Catholic ones.

So, when James Dobson criticizes Barack Obama for standing up for the many different opinions on the subject of abortion he is going against the same ethics that supports a politician’s decision to work for the common good of the people. Barack Obama isn’t saying anything different than what the various Catholic governors of the various states have said and done regarding the death penalty. Barack Obama is telling us that most Christians do not follow every facet of the Bible in the same way. Some may shun eating shellfish and pork, grow their locks long and shave their bride’s head, but most of us don’t. Some Christian sects emphasize Baptism and others emphasize Pentecost. As a society we do not need to debate which of these is the most important. Although, within our particular religious environments we may feel obligated to do just that. And, Barack Obama was clearly pointing this out in his speech of two years ago.

On the other hand, James Dobson doesn’t really care what the majority of people feel about these issues. Instead he would like to impose his will (even though he likes to call it God’s Will) on the majority of Americans. In James Dobson’s world a ruling elite would determine which religious values should dictate to the rest of the world. That’s funny, but this sounds a lot like the Islamic Fascism that the conservatives have been warning us about. But, instead of Islamic Fascism this would be Christian Fascism. And, I believe that as long as the rules of Christian Fascism agree with James Dobson then he would be OK with it.

This setup gives religion a direct line of control to the governing of the people. The religion tells the leaders what to do. Since they are religious they must follow their religion and not the will of the larger group of people. Therefore the religion dictates what laws are made based on the religion of the majority in government. So, the goal is to elect these non-thinking religious zealots into power and the religion in power makes the laws.

So, it comes down to this. Do we want leaders who rule by looking and the facts and making the best decisions based on these facts? Or, do we want leaders who are religious automatons that merely do what their religion teaches them to do regardless of the facts? Obviously this is your call - vote!


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Know Your Enemy

After the attacks on 9/11/2001 many Americans pulled their heads out of the sand and began to ask why anyone would want to do anything so horrible to us. Bill Maher famously asked the same questions in what seemed to a too sympathetic way, by going against the common wisdom of the time. The common wisdom proclaimed that the terrorists were cowards. Bill Maher pointed out: "We have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That's cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it's not cowardly." Bill was attempting to try to understand why the terrorists would attack us. He was pointing out in a very insightful way that the common wisdom of the time was not even close to being honest. And this brilliant insight got him fired.

The Chinese warrior and writer Sun Tzu wrote “know your enemy” before going into battle. If “you know your enemy and know yourself,” he wrote, “you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” But, Sun Tzu warned, “If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.”

As Americans we need to examine the current conflict that we have with many of the residents of the Middle East. We need to know why some of these people want to do us harm. And, if we fail to ask the right questions and answer them honestly then, as Sun Tzu taught, we will suffer defeat.

I know that this doesn’t sound positive. But, being positive alone isn’t going to beat the enemy. Looking honestly at the problems that we face is the only way to fix those problems before we suffer once again. It is interesting that the neo-conservatives, the Bush administration and everyone else that has been so gung-ho about fighting “Islamic Fascism” haven’t spent the time to consider the reality involved in this fight. What is the goal, and what does victory look like? If we are fighting Islamic Fascism, we should know why the enemy is attracted to this ideology. Or, for that matter, if this is even the correct way to describe the enemy.

As I said above, before we can win we need to know our enemy. So, who is it that we are fighting and why are they fighting us, the USA?

Since we have linked the 9/11/2001 bombings to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden we should begin with what he tells us. He communicates with his group, his allies and with us and he tells us everything that we should know about him. But, because of the fear of our enemy the media is quite lax in publicizing what he says. Without getting involved in the bin Laden view of the world we can cut to the chase and discover what al Qaeda intends to do in order to win this war.

Osama bin Laden tells us that there are three ways he intends to attack us and win this conflict:

1) He wants us to spend ourselves into bankruptcy and waste our resources.
2) He wants us to spread our military strength thin by fighting the enemy around the world.
3) And, He wants us to become disorganized through political infighting.

By understanding what our enemy wants us to do, we can evaluate if we are fighting our enemy properly.

How are we fighting the “War on Terror?” First of all, we have determined to spend billions of dollars fighting a war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We began the war by destroying these countries with our massive weapons. We don't have the actual cash on hand to fight these wars, so we are borrowing money to fight these wars. In fact, the majority of the money that we are borrowing is being loaned to us by China. What happens if we continue to borrow until we have borrowed so much that we are no longer able to repay our debt? They call that bankruptcy.

Now, where are we fighting the “War on Terror?” First of all we collected our allies together and invaded Afghanistan. This seemed to make sense because the Taliban had given refuge to al Qaeda. Al Qaeda collected themselves and found cover in the border region between the two countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The territory is steep and difficult, but a surge of 200,000 troops concentrated in this area with the cooperation of Afghanistan (the government we put into power) and Pakistan (our long time ally) could have weeded out the enemy and we could have put an end to this a long time ago. However, we have less than 50,000 troops in Afghanistan mainly walking around looking for Taliban remains. The success of shooing the Taliban out of the cities and into the Mountains was so encouraging that George W Bush and his cohorts determined that invading Iraq would be the best thing to do. After 5 years of occupation many military leaders continue to remind us that we have spread ourselves quite thin. As to the political infighting, the polarization of our country started long before al Qaeda attacked us the first time. However, the stupidity of the Iraq War and how it has been run has only increased the political infighting. The possibility of real political unity appears to be some remote hallucination based in fiction.

My conclusion is that we must be losing the “War on Terror” because we are accomplishing every goal of al Qaeda based merely on the threat of another terrorist attack. They attacked us, and we are doing their bidding. Why would they attack us again if we are already doing what they want us to do?

Terrorism works by intimidation. They motivate us with fear and we do what they want us to do. It looks like the terrorists are getting what they want. The terrorists know that despite what John McCain might want we aren’t likely to stay in Iraq for 100 years. The terrorists operate on a Middle East time clock, a clock that works on a scale of 1000 years instead of the instant gratification clock that most Americans operate on. It doesn’t really matter whether George W Bush is stubborn about making a timetable. Our enemy knows that one year or five years it doesn’t really matter because they can wait. Echoing The Rolling Stones, “Time is on their side.”

So, how can we win?

Well, I believe that in Iraq we have already won, as far as any stated goals announced. We went to Iraq to secure our country from the potential act of aggression with “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” We discovered that there weren’t any in Iraq, so we should be loading up and getting ready to go. The Iraqi government and the Iraqi people now need to stand up to the plate.

In Afghanistan we have given up our search for Osama bin Laden, the leader of the group that attacked us. We need to re-concentrate our efforts and bring him in before he dies of old age.

And, we need to strengthen our borders and increase security at home. But, unless we want to live in a police state we need to do the best we can to use our soft power and show the world how we can all live together in cultural diversity and political harmony.

Of course, this is only if we truly want to win this war.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Voraciously Vitriolic Vipers

After the 2006 congressional races I breathed a sigh of relief. Up until that point the Republican Party had driven the nation to the edge of an abyss. They were destroying the country bit by bit, and our only hope was to win at least one house of congress to stop the destruction. And, even with the Republicans claiming that the congress is doing nothing I am pleased that they have been able to stop the Republicans from their continued march to the apocalypse.

Well, that was 2006 and the success of the Democrats allowed us to take a breather, but the next wave of elections will be here in November. And, the Republicans are going to do their best to slur and slander any candidate that stands in their way of winning back political power.

It is quite obvious that this is already happening toward the Democrat nominated to run against John McCain for President of the United States. I am disgusted when I read or hear these people go out of their way to accuse Barack Obama of being a terrorist. He is accused of being Islamic when he was attending a Christian Church. These people are so full of hatred that they just make things up and put them out on the web as if it were fact (or imply that it might be supported by some thread of truth). I am continually amazed that Americans are so gullible that they believe these things. But, with the education system in our country as bad as it is how are they to comprehend the difference between the truth and the nonsense?

In the last few days since Barack has won the primary I have seen so much hatred directed toward him that I might believe that the Devil himself had secured the nomination. There were people saying that knocking fists with his wife was a terrorist symbol. There were people claiming that he was going to raise taxes, which tends to strike fear in the hearts of some people even more than the terrorist threat. So many of these things are lies, that writing them here seems to give them credit in some way.

Then Dennis Prager, the radio talk show host writes a conservative manifesto on how wonderful America was when he was a child.

The idea here, of course, is that America was wonderful before liberals changed America. Then this vitriolic radio host tells us how America was freer when we could speak our minds. What does he mean by this? He means that he liked to be able to make fun of people for being gay, having big boobs, being fat or being Jewish. He tells us that civil rights was a great step forward, so it wouldn’t be right to make fun of people for being black. But, he’s upset that in the current fascist state of America one can get in trouble for sexual harassment. You can hear him thinking as he writes, that he just wants to tell a good ethnic joke, but America has changed and he could get in trouble for that.

Oh, poor Dennis, now he’s not allowed to offend people like his father’s generation could.

Of course this brings me back to what I have always said about conservatives. If conservatism isn’t about keeping things the way they are now, then it is about bringing back the “Good Old Days” when things were perfectly wonderful. Of course, that time never really existed accept in the selective memories of conservatives that want to go there. Dennis tells us in his piece about a wonderful time when men could tell dirty jokes or ethnic jokes without the worry of offending anyone.

Well, maybe this was a wonderful time for the people making the jokes, but it wasn’t a wonderful time for the people subject to the ridicule. I remember people like this. We had a name for them. We called them bullies. Bullies thought the world of themselves and ridiculed those that they deemed inferior to themselves. And, bullies pretty much had an attitude that everyone was inferior to themselves.

Imagine if you will, a whole group of people with this attitude. These are people that daydream of a special time long ago when they could make fun of people and not be ridiculed for their mockery. And, if they still hang out today when no one else is around they can still mock the rest of mankind in their own special way. Well, this group of people still exists today, and they call themselves Republicans. They gather together and they make fun of those who are different than themselves. The top of their list, of course are the liberals that stand opposed to this bullying. And, what a better target than the leader of the liberals - the Democrat’s nominee for the office of the President of the United States of America. Well, the best of these bullies were actually paid in 2004 to spread ugly rumors about John Kerry, and many unsuspecting people actually believed this vitriol and voted against John Kerry because they were afraid.

Well, another election cycle is upon us and the bullies have come out of the closet and they are spreading those ugly rumors again. Many people will continue to believe everything they hear, regardless of the sources. But, I believe that there are many people who are out there that have learned their lesson. After they voted for George W Bush, our illiterate leader of this country proceeded to lead us into an abyss of hopelessness. Most Americans have come to the realization that the illusion of fear spread by these bullies and liars lead them astray. I have hope that Americans are bright and they realize that these bullies are spreading mockery and fear that has no basis in reality.

For example, they tell us that Barrack Obama is a Muslim. They tell us that all Muslims are terrorists and they imply that Barrack Obama is a terrorist. None of this is based in fact, but in the mentality of a person that wishes that he could feel free to mock those he dislikes this all makes sense. By adding even more deception by implying that a “fist bump” between Barrack and his wife Michelle is some type of terrorist “high-five” these bullies had another layer of lies.

But, why do these bullies feel the need to lie. If the majority of Americans really did want to go back to the days of mockery and profanity treasured by these bullies, then the majority of Americans could change the culture.

I heard a strange diatribe on the radio today. The special guest host for Rush Limbaugh told us that he was upset by the government’s power in creating a law in which restaurants and bars in California are not allowed to have smoking sections in them. He argued that the free market should have allowed the evolution of smoke free restaurants and bars. From my point of view he proved how the free market does not work in every case.

He told us that if people didn’t want to be bothered by smoke they should go to places that did not allow smoking. People that wanted smoking would go to places that offered smoking. Economics would let the best option win. But, there are many pieces of this puzzle that are missing. Can a person who gets lung cancer twenty years after working in these smoke filled places get their lives back? Can people make a choice and get a redo after they learn the results? Rush’s sub tells us that he asked the people working in a bar if they liked the new law. And, he was upset that they actually like the law.

Now, I am confused. The people working in the places are happy with the new law. The majority of customers don’t smoke, so they are happy with the new law. The new law put all of the businesses on an even playing field, so that no one business needed to take the risk of going non-smoking, so the business owners didn't loose any money or business. Perhaps some people who had once stayed home because of the irritation caused by smoke actually may have gone back to spend more time out on the town. The only people at a disadvantage are a minority of people who continue to be addicted to nicotine. Perhaps they could wear a patch and go out if that’s really what they want.

In the conservative tradition, this substitute Limbaugh, continued to mock the employees for liking the new law. “If they don’t like smoke,” he said, “they should have just gone out to find some other type of work.” Is this guy living in reality? Working in the restaurant business as a waiter or dishwasher is just about the lowest paid form of employment in the country. Don’t you think that if they could find a better job they would have taken it? This is obviously just more bullying from the voraciously vitriolic vipers on the right.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit