Friday, December 29, 2006

Obama Presidency: Why we should be concerned

I recently reviewed Barack Obamas’ book “The Audacity of Hope.” [see previous blog] The two most troubling concerns I came away with after reading it were:

  • The self-described tentative manner he embraces his religious and moral beliefs, and

  • The influence he received in his childhood from his parents and his religious training

While he claims he was influenced little as a child by his Muslim/atheist parents or his Muslim and Catholic schooling, he also claims in essence that there isn’t a Christian principle in Scripture that he holds as an absolute standard. He appears to be avoiding any claim of holding an absolute standard about anything, except being totally opened minded to whatever he deems appropriate. This attitude makes for a great politician but a poor leader.

This moral/religious ambivalence would not be so troublesome if it were not for his Muslim background, and the potentially latent Muslim tendencies he may yet harbor beneath his politically-correct veneer. This veneer appears pretty thin, given his statement that he could be dead wrong about any Christian principle he believes at the moment.

So, on one hand, Barack has a Muslim family heritage that goes back to beyond his great grandfather plus his Muslim education, and on the other hand he claims a recent conversion to Christianity, with a self-avowed open mind revealing that he could be dead wrong on his Christian-beliefs-of-the-moment.

To me, this adds up to a giant red flag. And this is what I gleaned from his own book, not from his opponents.

I was asked why I am concerned about Barack’s Muslim heritage. Why would I be concerned about a president with potential, latent Muslim tendencies while America is not afraid of a Catholic or even a Mormon President? Do I really hold a “double standard?” It seems so patronizing of me to have to explain my answer – the distinction seems so obvious to me. Some of the reasons are so old and so often restated that many have become immune to their significance – or, bless your heart – many may not have learned or been taught these things. So here goes…

  • Our nation was created as a haven for Christians to avoid religious persecution.

  • Our constitution and laws were established by those who were Christian of one form or another.

  • The principles of Christianity were the bedrock for the system of laws and legal system adopted and embraced here.

  • While indeed this nation was a melting pot, the primary heritage is Christian. The melting pot was comprised initially mostly of Christians.

  • In our most recent century we have maintained a Judeo-Christian value system which shares basic moral, legal, and ethical value.

  • Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Mormons, and Jews are all on the same page with regard to the foundational and continuing values of this nation.

  • To the contrary, the prevailing beliefs and teachings of the Islamic faith have, especially in the last several decades, demonstrated that they are diametrically opposed to the nature of the freedoms and principles that this nation upholds.

  • The training in many if not all Islamic schools for children and adults throughout the world and in the United States promote Sharia law and a disdain for western Judeo-Christian principles. We have yet to learn or accept these facts.

  • Moderate Muslims are not as moderate as they put on. One day they will expound a moderate sounding Koranic prayer in the US Senate, and the next will be advocating the violent imposition of Sharia law in this nation and installing a mullah as our leader.

  • The differences are as day and night between these two value systems. One teaches tolerance and forgiveness and free choice of religion and a government influenced by all sects and not controlled by any. The other teaches retribution, intolerance, the superiority and necessity of Sharia (Islamic) law, offers only three choices for religious preference: conversion to Islam, dhimmi status (second class citizenship), or death.

The liberals of this nation have a logic problem they are not facing. Liberals purport to be so open minded, somewhat libertarian, embrace the ACLU which fights for the most perverse minority rights. Freedom, freedom is their call. However, liberals also appear to be defenders of the Islamic faith which stands 180 degrees opposite their own expressed values. Or if they are not defenders, they seem to recognize no distinction between the Islamic faith and most others. Just the contrast between the liberal’s call for “freedom of choice” in all things, including sexual orientation of marriage partners, gay rights, abortion rights, and religious diversity compared with the Islamic mandate for absolute adherence to unforgiving Islamic law that absolutely prohibits these choices should get the liberals’ attention. But it doesn’t. Do they ever draw a line? I think this explains how the blind momentum of a species causes their eventual extinction.

Why am I wary of Barack Obama? With his tentative embrace of Christian values, he could easily, in the blink of an eye, flip over to his Islamic heritage. If such flip is not announced, there will always be the strong potential for his latent Islamic biases to influence his choice of advisors, his choice of alliances and his choice of policy, all to the detriment of the value system that enables this nation to remain free and prosper.

Here are two more voices in the wilderness expressing concern about Baracks’ background: 's independent contrarian columnist, Andy Martin says:

“His grandfather was named 'Hussein.' That is an Arabic-Muslim, not African, name. Hussein was a devout Muslim and named his son, Barack Senior, 'Baraka.' Baraka is an Arabic word meaning 'blessed.' Baraka comes out of the Koran and Arabic, not Africa.

"Barack Senior was also a devoted Muslim, and also chose a Muslim name for his son, our own Barack Obama, Junior. Again, his name was an Arabic and Koranic.

Obama has spent a lifetime running from his family heritage and religious heritage. Would his father have given his son a Koranic name if the father was not a devout Muslim? Obama's stepfather was also a Muslim. Obama will be the first Muslim-heritage senator; he should be proud of that fact. There is nothing to be ashamed of in any of the three great Abrahamic religions. [Obviously he must be referring to the non-Sharia law loving Muslim, whereever they may be found. ed.]]

"Fiction: Obama Senior was a harmless student 'immigrant' who came to the United States only to study. Fact: Obama was part of one of the most corrupt and violent organizations in Africa: the Kenyatta regime. Obama's father ran back to Kenya soon after the British left. It is likely Obama's father had Mau Mau sympathies or connections, or he would not have been welcomed into the murderous inner circle of rapists, murderers, and arsonists. I believe Obama's secret shame at his family history of rape, murder and arson is what actualizes him. Our research is not yet complete. We are seeking to examine British colonial records. Our investigation to date has drawn on information on three continents.

"And what about Obama's beloved Kenyan brothers and sisters? None of his family was invited to Boston to share his prominence. Are his relatives being kept in the closet? Where are they? More secrecy, more prevarication.

"It is time for Barack Obama to stop presenting a fantasy to the American people. We are forgiving and many would still support him. It may well be that his concealment is meant to endanger Israel. His Muslim religion would obviously raise serious questions in many Jewish circles where Obama now enjoys support," Martin states.

"Our investigation is continuing. In he meantime, Crown Books should stop selling Obama's novelization of his life. We have asked Crown to do that. Obama is living a lie."

Nicholas Stix says :

Obama the Christian is a devout believer in unlimited abortion rights. He denies the existence of Hell. He came to Christianity through social organizing with activist religious. His devout Christianity derives from the secular humanist "values" his atheist mother imbued him with. He believes, with all his heart, in the separation of church and state – except when he campaigns in black churches, in violation of that separation, and in violation of the tax code. Obama wears his religion on his sleeve in churches, but in dealing with the mainstream media criticizes such behavior.

The only recognizably Christian position Obama takes is his opposition to same-sex marriage, due to the "religious connotations" of marriage. ("Religious connotations"? What about "civic religion"; the "separation of church and state"; the "enormous danger on the part of public figures to rationalize or justify their actions by claiming God's mandate"? Don't ask.) This is surely due to the fact that blacks are the racial/ethnic group most adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage, and Obama does not want to rile the one voter bloc on which his candidacy is most dependent. However, I would expect his position on same-sex marriage to begin "evolving" around, say, … November 3. Once Obama is safely ensconced in the U.S. Senate, he knows that his base will stick by him, for richer or for poorer, for better or for worse. Then he will doubtless begin the sort of "education" of the Christian black electorate in matters of same-sex marriage, which black leaders earlier conducted in the matter of abortion.

Regarding Obama's religiosity, which appeared out of nowhere during his social activist work, following his graduation from law school, a line from Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass comes to mind, when the latter explained why Mike Ditka was not prepared for political life. "Ditka doesn't need a political life. And he hasn't spent decades planning for the scrutiny."
Obama's closest religious advisers -- Fr. Pfleger, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, and Illinois State Sen. James Meeks, who moonlights as the pastor of Chicago's Salem Baptist Church – may have quotes from Scripture always handy, but are theologically closer to Karl Marx and black nationalism, than to Christianity. The transcendent-non-transcendent motto the Rev. Wright has given Trinity is, "Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian."

According to State Sen./Rev. James Meeks' humble, personal church Web page, "Meeks' practical and charismatic style of instruction motivates the hearer to take action and has resulted in accomplishments of miraculous proportions." When the good Senator/Reverend is not accomplishing miracles and other feats "never before documented in history," he serves as the executive vice president of Jesse Jackson Sr.'s National Rainbow-Push Coalition. Why a man of God would want to be identified with Jackson's personal den of iniquity is a question only the Rev. Meeks can answer.

Now that Obama has a Republican opponent in Alan Keyes, Obama's media acolytes are working hard to discredit Keyes, a talk-show host who is a former ambassador, and presidential and senatorial candidate. Meanwhile, Obama, who when Jack Ryan was his opponent wanted six debates, has no desire to debate Keyes. Obama & Co. had better stick to their new script or Keyes, a brilliant man who knows the Constitution better than "Professor" Obama does, and whose own Christian faith comes not from Karl Marx or black nationalism (or possibly Unitarian Universalism), but from Christianity, might put some hard questions to Barack Obama.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Audacity of “The Audacity of Hope...

...the tome of a “Rock-Star.”

A much loved person gave me this book by Barack Obama for Christmas. I think the gift was in retribution for my gift of an Ann Coulter book to her a couple of years ago.

Before I explain what I really think of the book, I want to digress into my distinction between the mindset of a conservative and a liberal.

A conservative (of many degrees) appreciates and acknowledges the heritage of this nation and attempts to perpetuate and refine and improve those qualities that made her great.

A liberal (of many degrees) tends to minimize or dismiss the heritage of this nation that made her great. Even the historical definitions of “great” tend to be castigated as less than good.

The phrase “of many degrees” acknowledges that “conservative” and “non-conservative” labels are not intended to be black and white. There are indeed many shades of grey as well as the potential of excess toward one extreme or another. But the “absolute” that I ascribe to is that there is a frighteningly large number of influential people in this nation who have little appreciation for the qualities that made this nation great and who are, in fact, changing the definition of “great” to mean something less than desirable. Barack Obama is one of these people.
The reality is we are as a nation, polarized. Barack contributes to this polarization with such comments as “when I see Ann Coulter or Sean Hannity baying across the television screen, I find it hard to take them seriously.” That is not a unifying statement that a presidential candidate needs to express. I am one of millions who embraces the message of these individuals. That statement is dismissive of our opinions and values.

Before I digress too far into rambling narrative, I will shorten this book review into a number of bullet points that provide examples of things I find troubling about Baracks’ position on a variety of issues. These are just a few of the many that jumped off the page at me:

  • Page 22 – Health Care: Barack infers that there needs to be more centralized control of our health care system because it “is broken: wildly expensive, terribly inefficient, etc. Our health care system is not yet intended to be an all-inclusive, full bore, government run socialist system. It is intended to be a safety net – with the individual primarily responsible for his own health care. Barack seems to favor minimizing individual responsibility and maximizing federal government responsibility. Most people probably do prefer this “easier path” until they realize that they are the ones who will pay for it through increased taxes. And then these same people will want their taxes reduced which will gut the effectiveness and quality of the socialized healthcare program. But, as Barack does, complaining about the existing system is great for political points.

  • Page 23 – Terrorism: Barack frames our battle against terrorism as either “belligerence or isolationism.” Such framing in extremes is not helpful, if that is how he sees it. Apparently he sees our current policies as “belligerence” and anything less would be “isolationism.” It sounds like he is suggesting we can eliminate the basic Islamic doctrine of intolerance and violence by eliminating “global poverty and failed states.” This is just one of the many areas of the book where he dismisses or ignores the basic character of Islam and assumes it is just another mouth to feed. Could he have a bias toward Islam? More on that later.

  • On several pages (36-38) Barack rails against what he calls “absolutism.” He seems to be concerned that there is a moral distinction between right and wrong. Feeling strongly about the goodness or appropriateness of a particular path is considered narrow-minded. He appears to believe that there is no right path – it is all good. His religious confusion bears this out. As much as I liked Jimmy Carter personally, his presidency is noted as being among the most ambivalent (wishy-washy). Barack seems to mirror Jimmy.
    Page 56: Barack “firmly believe(s) … since 9/11, we have played fast and loose with constitutional principles in the fight against terrorism.” I firmly believe we have done too little.

  • Page 199: He calls the reasons for Pilgrims coming to our shores and the religious basis for our civil rights movement “religiosity”. My understanding of the term, confirmed by a quick web-scan of the definition, portrays the word as somewhat negative: “Excessive or affected piety.” “Exaggerated or affected piety and religious zeal.” I don’t know if he just carelessly used the word, or if he really believes that the Pilgrims’ or Martin Luther King’s faith and piety were excessive, affected, and exaggerated.

  • Pages 202-205: Barack speaks of his “insight into this movement toward a deepening religious commitment…” and then describes the beliefs and experiences of his parents. He recalls, “For my mother, organized religion too often dressed up closed-mindedness in the garb of piety, cruelty and oppression in the cloak of righteousness.” Is this how he sees religion? His father was almost entirely absent from his childhood, was raised Muslim, and later became a confirmed atheist. His mother remarried to an equally skeptical Indonesian who “saw religion as not particularly useful…” and “who had grown up in a country that easily blended its Islamic faith with remnants of Hinduism, Buddhism, and ancient animist traditions.” He continues, “I was sent first to a neighborhood Catholic school and then to a predominantly Muslim school.” I wonder what they taught in that Muslim school? Was it sharia law? Was it dhimmitude? Was it jihad? We need to get a better handle on this kind of background before we entertain it for our president. For those who are ignorant of what Islamic schools teach, even in this country, this may seem to be an insignificant concern. But in Indonesia? Hmmm.
  • Page 206: I have great respect for Alan Keyes. Barack is antithetical to Alan. Alan gets under his skin. That demonstrates how opposite Barrack’s views are from mine.
  • Page 211: Barack again paraphrases Alan Keyes, a characterization I agree with, but one with which Barack intends to discredit Alan, his faith and principles.
    Many pages: Barack favors abortion rights. I guess for some, this is a good reason to vote for him. But it demonstrates again that Alan is right about Barack’s lack of religious principle.

  • Pages 213-214: Barack appears to argue for including a bit more “religiosity” into political debate, while he disagrees with the major principles of such religions. The message I get from all this is that he is confused. It is almost funny how Barack devotes an entire chapter to “Values”. Yet just about every value he discusses he semi-embraces so tentatively. His highest value appears to be doubt!
  • Page 218: Barack is revealing his ignorance of and confusion about Christian scripture when he publicly exposes his uncertainty of which principles should be followed: e.g. stoning your child and advocacy of slavery (from the Old Testament) or the Sermon on the Mount which is a “love everybody” statement not pleasing to the Defense Department. He admonishes the religious folk for being too “black and white”, but then portrays these two extremes of interpreting Scripture. Hrummph.
  • Page 222: (re: “For many practicing Christians…”) Barack states his belief that an acknowledged transgression disqualifies the Christian from any future discernment of right and wrong in others. Any of us who have had lapses in our behavior must now embrace everyone else’s choice of continuing transgression of what we understand to be God’s moral law. My one-time transgression now requires me to accept and support everyone else’s continuing immoral behavior. That philosophy will lead to absolute moral decay and degeneracy. There will be no one left to defend what is morally right anymore. Barack is wrong on this one
  • Page 233-234: Barack sounds like he cannot accept any “truth” as truth. With him, everything is tentative, especially his faith belief system. When he reads the Bible, he says, “I must be continually open to new revelations – whether they come from a lesbian friend or a doctor opposed to abortion.” Or, I might add, or from a convicted child molester, a serial killer, or an Islamic suicide bomber. I don’t think so. Where does Barack draw the line? So, revelation from God should be accepted no matter the source – no matter what the character of the individual? That is so far removed from reality it sounds like the voice of “Chuckie” in a rock-star’s body.
  • Page 278: He continues his longing for the Indonesia of his childhood, despite the calls for the imposition of sharia law, the “vice squads” that attack churches, nightclubs, casinos; the bombings and the absolute loss of any semblance of civil rights. What was he taught in his Muslim school?
  • Page 279-280: No wonder he’s snowed much of the American population, who have difficulty or lose interest in reading beyond the 8th grade level. Here, starting with the last paragraph on the bottom of page 279, we have a 150+ word sentence. This would probably be classified as an incomprehensible graduate-level sentence. This example jumped out at me. Much of the book is written in this style. His erudition is mind-boggling.
  • Page 307: “In coping with the asymmetrical threats that we’ll face in the future – from terrorist networks and the handful of states that support them…” What? Only a handful of states support terrorist networks? Where has he been? Let’s see, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia (good ‘ol Indonesia), several nations in Africa, and Iraq is still questionable. Whether these states willingly support terror networks or are intimidated into supporting terror, they still support terror. Many more states harbor some level of terrorist cells out of fear or inability to control them. This clearly constitutes more than a “handful.”
  • Page 315: Barack doesn’t “dismiss these critics out of hand,” those who “take their lead from left-leaning populists like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, or … to more traditional principles of social organization, like Islamic law.” Well, now, let’s dissect this statement. Barack seems open to just about any and every idea. How open minded of him. Hugo is merely a “left-leaning populist?” Islamic law is merely “a more traditional principle of social organization?” It is statements like these that cause concern. And if Barack’s convoluted writing style or my ignorance of the English language causes me to misunderstand what he’s saying, then I can assure you that there are millions who are also misunderstanding. That leaves me with the conclusion that Barack either cannot express himself clearly without misunderstanding, or he is a threat to the future of this nation.
  • I note there isn’t any entry in the Index on Islam or Muslim, although references are sprinkled throughout the text.
  • He demonstrates little interest in or understanding of the nature and magnitude of the Islamo-fascist threat to this nation and the civilized world.
  • He avoids use of the word “illegal immigrant” or “illegal alien” (the word “illegal” does not appear in the index. He is apparently concerned that feelings might get hurt. In fact, he substantially ignores the difference between an immigrant (“legal” by definition) and illegal aliens. He instead focuses on the need to “recognize the humanity” of illegals. I’ll try to use the “humanity” approach with the cop the next time I get pulled over for violating a law much less significant than the numerous laws most illegal aliens are breaking.

Other than these few minor annoyances, the book was warm and very human – wink wink.

To be fair, there are several positions Barack takes that I agree with. The need for energy independence is one of them. Making the nation more competitive in the world market is another. Simplifying federal programs is another. His occasional criticism of liberals is promising, if not token. Creating opportunity for greater participation in national decisions is another, however unrealistic such participation may be (it makes a great populist statement).

Why is Barack so instantly popular with much of the nation? His good looks – his charisma – his endorsement by Oprah - his “rock star” aura – and his Hollywood-esque disdain of most things reflecting the heritage of our nation.

Overall, Baracks’ background and attitudes frighten me. He will not be good for this nation. No – I will not vote for him.