Barack Obama’s American Dream

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Is Barack Obama still too ‘green’
to comprehend the American Dream?

In the concluding portion of his regular Saturday address to the ‘YouTubers’, President-elect Obama referred to the “survival of the American Dream”. Here is what he said:

“The survival of the American Dream for over two centuries is not only a testament to its enduring power, but to the great effort, sacrifice, and courage of the American people.”

He’s absolutely right if you interpret the last word: “people” to mean individual Americans. Based on his own words during the past year, I don’t believe he meant it that way.

To begin with, the American dream is not anything that a president, a president-elect or a congress (or a blogger) can define for us because it is defined BY each of us, as measured by our own ambitions. A low-wage laborer who has a home and a loving family and a comfortable existence MAY HAVE attained his American Dream — he may be as happy as (or happier than) the CEO of a large corporation — or his dream may be larger, it may depend on an idea he has yet to bring to fruition or a job he is trying to get. More then likely, however, his American Dream has little to do with anything outside of his personal sphere of existence.

The president-elect then went on, still speaking of his version of the American Dream:

“It has thrived because in our darkest hours, we have risen above the smallness of our divisions to forge a path towards a new and brighter day. We have acted boldly, bravely, and above all, together.”

Its obvious now that the president-elect is not speaking of the American Dream, he’s speaking of the American spirit. That survival instinct that kicks in in time of trouble and unifies us in our common identity: loyal American citizens.

It is this American Spirit that binds us together to overcome a common obstacle, to beat back a threat or reach a new milestone. It’s necessary to note, however, that, even here, it is individual incentive based on self-preservation and on our voluntary willingness to band together for a common cause that carries the day.

So President-elect Obama gave a speech about the American Dream and assigned it the characteristics of the American Spirit: one being a personal set of goals and ambitions and the other a national spirit that kicks in when our country is in peril. Was this just a poor choice of words; a simple confusion of terminology? I sincerely doubt it.

What I take away from what the president-elect is saying is that he wants us on the road to a collective American Dream in which we give up our personal dreams and ambitions for “the greater good.” That has been the president-elect’s theme since he started running for the presidency: the greater good! Every American should have heard him say it and, since they elected him, we must assume that the majority of Americans are OK with that!

The purpose of this post is to say loudly and clearly that THIS American is NOT OK with that! The president-elect wants us to adopt this “for the greater good” attitude, he wants us to “sacrifice” (another favorite word in Obama’s dictionary) our aspirations so that those with no aspirations (or ambition) can have a richer life.

Are you ready for that America? Are you really going to go along quietly into Obama’s dark night?

Lets remember that the American people did not create the economic morass that the country finds itself in; it was created by individuals — most of whom are elected officials, others who have seats on the boards of directors of large corporations and still others who are appointees to high positions in government agencies. Should we, the American public, have to adjust our lives or give up even a single dream to compensate for their greed and misdirection; or should we insist that the government gets its house in order with a reduced and balanced budget before it asks the American public for even a single sacrifice?

President-elect Obama then completed his Saturday address with this:

That is the chance our new beginning now offers us, and that is the challenge we must rise to in the days to come. It is time to act. As the next president of the United States, I will.

You know; I’m very afraid that he will!

News Links

Monthly Review: Obama: The American Dream

WiredPRNews: Obama and McCain to Work Together for the Greater Good

Blog Links:

Blatt’s Blog . . .: Hello everyone, goodbye World as we know it.

LewRockwell.com: Obama Service, aka Involuntary Servitude

Whymrhymer’s P.O.V. can also be found at the Blogger News Network

Of Women, Gays and Episcopal Rebellions

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There’s a religious war, of sorts, going on in the Episcopal church and, here in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, it has created a parting of the ways between the Fort Worth Diocese and the Dallas Diocese.

The first shot in this war came back in 1976 when the Episcopal Church officially allowed women in the ministry. As you might expect, church liberals cheered and the traditionalists cringed. Then in 2003 the shot heard literally around the religious world was fired when an openly gay bishop was allowed into the Episcopal church’s hierarchy.

Since that monumental break with tradition, (and, some on the Conservative side say it was a break with biblical teachings) three Episcopal Diocese have broken away from the Episcopal church and have joined Anglican ‘communions’. Today (Saturday, November 15th) the Fort Worth Diocese voted to join the ranks of Episcopal deserters and form an alliance with a conservative, Argentina-based Anglican community.

At least most of the Fort Worth Diocese left the Episcopal fold; within that diocese lines are being drawn; individual churches have no intention of leaving the Episcopals and some members of Episcopal churches that are leaving are not going to leave with their churches — forming their own worship groups until they make moves to other churches.

On the Dallas side of the metroplex, the Dallas Episcopal Diocese is not breaking away — although some individual churches in the diocese are leaving. James Stanton, the Bishop of the Dallas Diocese and long-time friend of the Fort Worth Bishop, Jack Iker, while not completely happy with the path of the Episcopal church, is refusing to follow Iker’s lead saying: “If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times; you don’t win a battle by leaving the battlefield.

To top off this bit of Dallas/Fort Worth Episcopal excitement, guess who’s coming to town later this month. The gay Episcopal bishop from New Hampshire, Bishop Gene Robinson, has been invited as a guest of honor at Dallas’ “Black Tie” dinner, which is a fundraiser for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered) community. Bishop Robinson, while saddened by the bitter divisions caused by his ascension to Bishop, feels that “a fully inclusive Episcopal Church is the church of the future.”

Apparently the majority of Episcopals either agree with him or have decided, like Bishop Stanton, that the battle is best fought on the battlefield.

News Links:

New York Times: Diocese in Texas Leaves Episcopal Church

Dallas Morning News: Presiding Bishop comments on Fort Worth diocese action

Blog Links:

A Blogspotting Anglican Episcopalian: Bishop Jack Iker’s Address to the Convention

The Evolution of Jeremiah: Episcopalians to seek repeal of ban on gay, lesbian bishops

Atheist Billboards?

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Ten atheism-promoting billboards will go up in Denver over the holidays and one in Colorado Springs; the message is simple: “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone” in white letters over background that shows a mostly-cloudy blue sky. These billboards are, reportedly being paid for by a Colorado atheist group but, since the billboards for Colorado are not up yet, the news stories and Internet articles about them are showing a similar billboard that is up in Philadelphia, advertising a Philadelphia-based atheist group called the Greater Philadelphia Coalition of Reason (PhillyCor).

Joel Guttormson, a spokesman for the Denver group, Metro State Atheists, explains, “we’re putting them up in November and December because of the holidays, when church and state issues tend to come up a lot, to let non-believers, free-thinkers and atheists know that they are not alone, especially in a country like ours that is predominantly Christian.”

While the billboards are not up yet, thanks to the news media and the magic of the Internet, everyone seems to know about them and, even though their message does NOT, as the Denver News headline proclaims “question the existence of God,” they are attracting rage-filled howls of protest by religious groups and individuals.

It seems easy for me, an atheist, to rationalize billboards, pamphlets, leaflets, newspaper and Internet ads, etc. that are created by organized religions who are trying to gain new members. Religion is, after all, a business like any other business — without paying customers the rent cant be paid, the utilities will be turned off and people will loose their jobs.

I can also understand the hysterical reaction to the billboard idea by organized religion — this is religion’s competition. An atheist, by definition, does not attend religious services, does not ‘feed’ the collection plate and does not, of course, evangelize for a church. Atheists represent a loss of revenue not only to the church but, at least theoretically, to stores and malls who depend on Holiday shoppers for their largest selling season of the year. The reality, however, is that the majority of atheists still buy Christmas presents for their family members, their friends and, in some cases, for their co-workers because the majority of atheists are NOT trying to take the “Christ out of Christmas” they simply don’t believe in Him on a personal level.

It seems that atheism is now also a business — that’s the only motivation I can find for these billboards and for organizations like Metro State Atheists and PhillyCor. Well, I can’t deny anyone the opportunity to make money off of their religion (or non-religion) but I certainly don’t intend to join in to ‘get my share’ of the profits. The atheists who put up billboards, form organizations and try to tear down peoples beliefs in their religions are the “noisy” atheists — to them atheism is a profit-making business that has little to do with faith or a lack of it. These “noisy” atheists are also the ones who have trouble sustaining their non-belief, so they desperately need the company of other atheists as a support system.

People who are comfortable with their belief in a deity, or in the non-existance of one, don’t need support systems — but I guess we are in a vast minorty.

News Links:

Denver News (ABC-7): Atheist Billboards To Debut During Holidays; Message Questions Existence Of God

Colorado Springs Gazette: Another atheist group takes the billboard route

Blog Links:

Splendid Elles: Atheist Billboards in Colorado

The Atheocracy: Atheism gets on the bus

Whymrhymer’s P.O.V. can also be found at the Blogger News Network

Time for Optimism: Root For Obama

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Talk shows are continually pounding on Barack Obama’s lack of judgement because of his previous associations with Bill Ayers, Jeremiah Wright and a host of others who have terroristic or sketchy backgrounds. Ayers was brought on Good Morning America this past week and questioned about his associations with Obama and about his feelings toward the past acts of the Weather Underground. This past Friday, The “Ladies of the Factor” were substituting for Bill O’Reilly on his “Radio Factor” show and they spend a full hour discussing Bill Ayres’ and Barack O’Bama’s relationship. Callers to other radio talk shows won’t give it up either — insisting that Barack Obama lacks the judgement to be President of the United States, may not even be a citizen of the United States and will run this country into the ground.

Why can’t these idiots understand that not only is it too late for these kind of accusations and this kind of examination of Barack Obama’s qualifications but its counter productive. Barack Hussein Obama, for all intents and purposes, IS the 44th President of the United States. What we should be concentrating on now, is what he is saying now and what he is doing now.

No matter who you voted for or wished for or voted against, its time to get together and actually root for Obama, hope he makes the right decisions, hope that he picks a cabinet that will help him make those decisions, make positive suggestions about the directions that our country should move in and maintain optimism that we, as a nation, will will not only survive our economic, social, political and international problems but be made stronger because of them.

As little as I care about what foreign governments think of us, it only makes sense not to give them ammunition to use against us. If China, Russia, Iran and all the other countries with failed or failing political systems see us uniting around our new president and, yes, “rooting him on” they are less likely throw those “tests” at us — those tests that VP-elect Biden correctly warned us about. On that subject let me say that, by giving the American public those warnings, Joe Biden stood up and did a very brave thing — the right thing — and he was probably privately scolded for doing it. That one act makes it a lot easier for me to accept Joe Biden as the next Vice President of the United States.

After January 20th, Barack Obama will no doubt do things and say things that we will not like! Every president has opposition to every move he makes and we should not hesitate to oppose him if we feel he is wrong — but we must constitute a loyal opposition not a destructive one. Oppose him yes but don’t demonize him. If we attempt to destroy the President of the United States we make our country weaker and take a chance on destroying the United States itself.

News Links:

CBC News (Canada): Nice job, Mr. Obama. What now?

Baltimore Sun: Words to the wise

Blog Links:

The Quakers’ Colonel: The Obama Optimism

Poll Tracker: Pew Poll Finds Mood of Optimism About Obama and High Expectations

Proposition 8: Symptom of a REAL Problem!

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California’s Prop 8 is nothing new. Other states have essentially banned gay marriage by “defining” marriage as a union between a man and woman. The question is: who gave them the right?

I fully understand that most religious organizations and other organizations consider homosexual relations to be immoral. That’s their prerogative! No one has to approve of (or engage in) homosexual relations unless they want to! Somewhere along the line, however, governments got involved. Now stop and think about that for a minute! We are in a society where the governments are into the business of who can marry who. I don’t know about you, but to me that seems like something a government should keep at arms length.

I’m a pragmatist, however, and understand that that’s the way it is — and the way it has been for literally hundreds of years: you need government permission (state, county, city — whatever) to get married. Some say there are good reasons for government involvement in marriage: to track who’s married to who — for income tax purposes being the chief one of those reasons. OK, I guess I can buy that . . . even though the reason the income tax code needs to differentiate between married people and unmarried people is very fuzzy.

What’s not fuzzy is the fact that our governments (states as well as Federal) are fully invested in the business of bringing religion into the marriage licensing process; and I say that because the main reason those who are opposed to gay marriage are so opposed is because they say homosexuality is “immoral”! Where do you suppose they got that idea? Could it have been from mainstream religions? The other argument against gay marriage is that it “redefines” marriage . . . well I guess that depends on whos definition you are using.

Going beyond Proposition 8: such a proposition should not have been necessary because the original court ruling, allowing gays to marry, should not have been necessary; because the basic definition of marriage is simply two people falling in love and vowing to spend their lives together. That arrangement, regardless of who the two people are, should automatically be accepted by every government! Rejecting that arrangement should not, in fact, be a government option.

Essentially, state governments by adopting rules against gay marriages are adopting religious teachings and beliefs and codifying them within their state Constitutions. That represents everything that the Founding Fathers, the framers of our constitution, did NOT want to happen. Freedom of religion means just what it says and if a religious organization wants to bless a marriage between two men or two women the government should not only stand back and not interfere, the government should remain completely uninterested.

Keith Oberman, the MSNBC news commentator, presented a beautifully logical, yet impassioned dialogue berating those who had the nerve to vote FOR Proposition 8; that dialogue has been captured on YouTube — I strongly urge everyone on either side of the issue to click this link and watch it.

News Links:

International Herald Tribune: After Calif. loss, gays get right to wed in Conn.

San Jose Mercury News: California may vote on gay marriage again in 2010

Blog Links:

Sweat Tears or the Sea: Traditional Family DOES NOT Equal Homophobia

Instant Pride: Proposition 8 protests planned across the US

Is an Auto Industry Bailout Inevitable?

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And another one after that?

First of all, we should stop using the term bailout; it paints a false picture. If you’re one of those glass is half empty’ types, consider these transactions as loans against assets — and there are LOTS of assets. For us ‘glass is half full’ types these transactions are investments that may garner large rewards.

The auto makers need these loans to stay in business for two reasons: 1) they are, by all indications, badly managed companies and 2) they are dealing with the UAW (United Auto Workers Union) one of the most corrupt unions in the country. Now there is the perfect picture of a troubled company: bad management AND the UAW. But even with good management, dealing with the UAW would eventually bankrupt any company.

UnionFacts.com has documented the UAWs unethical practices and how much these practices have cost automakers. Read it — its a real eye opener. Following as an excerpt from UnionFacts.com’s profile of the UAW; this excerpt discusses “job banks”:

Thousands of UAW members are being paid between $70,000 to $85,000 per year not to work. (By some accounts, the expense is even larger, costing the “Big Three” up to $130,000 for each job banker). For 4,200 of these union members, their 8 hour “work day” consists of filling out crossword puzzles, watching World War II movies and even taking naps. These job bankers have drawn nearly full pay and all benefits, often for years, no matter the companies’ health. As shown by the $4.5 billion the Big Three earmarked to fund job banks, this practice is costing the companies billions of dollars at a time that they are losing billions.

(NOTE: This post is not intended to be an anti-union rant. There are many companies that work well with unions and many unions that actually help companies increase productivity and profits — my point is, the UAW is not one of these unions.)

An editorial in the Orlando Sentinel titled: “We think: Taxpayers shouldn’t bail out the auto industry without big changes” has it, in my opinion, just right. They say:

“The United Auto Workers union needs to step up with significant concessions on salaries and benefits for its members working at the Big Three. That would help bring compensation at American car companies more in line with the nonunion, foreign-based competitors that have set up shop in the United States and (have) steadily gained market share. The union faces a choice between jobs with less-generous benefits at the U.S. companies or no jobs if they go under.”

Its possible that UAW members have starting realizing the damage their union is doing; the UAW has, since the 1970s, lost more than half of its membership.

President Bush or Congress should jump on the Orlando Sentinel’s idea and insist that no loans be made to auto makers unless they get considerable concessions from the UAW and come up with a profitable business plan. Essentially, the Big Three are looking for Venture Capital and that should be the minimum requirement from any lender — including the U.S. Government.

Failing some positive steps on the part of the auto makers and the UAW millions of workers will be unemployed and the U.S. Government would loose lots of revenue. Its a pretty bleak picture and it suggests that there WILL be a “bailout,” without many conditions, and perhaps another one after that.

One other note: Radio Broadcaster Neil Bortz was on CNN yesterday making many of these same points. Bortz said on his radio show this morning that, before he was even off the air, he had received numerous death threats through CNNs switchboard and via e-mail. Draw your own conclusions about that!

News Links:

Orlando Sentinel: We think: Taxpayers shouldn’t bail out the auto industry without big changes

ABC News: Car industry turmoil forces US to mull bailout

Start Thinking Right Obama Democrats Pull Out All Stops To Bail Out Auto Industry Carcass For Union Leaches

The Long Goodbye Automakers Need a Bailout, While McCain-Palin Try to Rescue Their Reputations

Economic Stimulus Checks: Do They Help?

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On Saturday morning’s Fox and Friends show (11/8/08), former Governor Mike Huckabee made the statement that an economic stimulus package doesn’t help the American economy — he gave an example of the last round of $600.00 checks that were sent out and stated that ‘the only economy that was stimulated was China’s’. He’s partially right but, in a large part wrong.

True that we essentially borrowed the money from China to finance the stimulus and true we’ll be paying it back with interest but his assertion that our (consumer) use of the money only benefited China was pretty far off.

Money Not Spent Wisely Is Still Money Spent

What should have happened when taxpayers received their money was quite different from what did happen.

People had planned to use their money wisely: to pay off past-due bills, catch up with their rent, save some, get ahead on car or mortgage payments, buy some things they needed (or just wanted) that they couldn’t afford before, tuck a few bucks away in savings accounts as a reserve toward emergencies, help out friends or family members who needed it, donate some to charities, and the list goes on.

What actually happened was a bit different: People went on a consumer binge; they bought new “toys,” i.e., computers and appliances that weren’t really needed but wanted, money was spent on restaurant meals, movies, cosmetics, new clothes, jewelry, books and actual ‘toys’ for their kids, and etc.

The point is, money not spent wisely is still money spent; money spent in department stores, electronics stores, book stores, movie theatres, toy stores and restaurants did exactly what it was supposed to do, it stimulated local economies. But it did more than that, it made people happy and even optimistic.

Benefit to China?

Getting back to my original contention: it is the American taxpayer and American business who benefited. Lets say that half of the money spent by consumers from those stimulus checks went to purchase items made in China — those items were long since paid for by American businesses and were marked up for a profit to American businesses — there was no real stimulus for China when they were purchased and a great stimulus for American business.

A Minority of One?

I am admittedly in the minority! If you search the news or the blogs (starting with the links at the end of this post) for “stimulus checks” you will see a lot of negativity. This is, however, my POV and it makes sense to me.

Americans Can Be Pretty Gullible

The issue of how money is spent goes far beyond economic stimulus checks. Americans are continually assaulted by “no money down” offers, get rich quick schemes, no payment until whenever offers, and, well, you know what’s out there. More than schemes to just get your money these are things that take advantage of your hopes and dreams.

Sure, we’d all love to live in a big house with the most modern appliances and fanciest electronics and drive our dream cars — and we can! . . . but the problem is, the bill will eventually come due and you had better be in a position to pay that bill when it comes due or your dreams will come crashing down all around you. Many people, as we see in this current “mortgage crisis,” fell for the sales pitches made by unscrupulous mortgage lenders, real-estate agents and salesmen who didn’t give a damn about the ability of the customer to meet his or her obligations as long as they could turn in the paper work that showed that they “made a sale.” There ought’a be a law that puts these people in jail long enough for them to realize the errors of their ways.

Then there are the offers to “make thousands of dollars a month” over the Internet, even on a part time basis, with no special training, etc., etc.. How many millions of dollars have been wasted by gullible consumers getting in on “the ground floor” of these schemes only to realize that, in many cases, the only business is to find new suckers who are willing to pay for this fantastic opportunity. It’s an old saying and has been used to the point of becoming trite but there is no truer axiom than: “If It Looks Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is!”

Me Too!

Hey! I’m not putting anyone down for being gullible any more than I’m putting myself down. I’ve fallen for more stupid schemes in my life than I can count — or care to remember. We all want to get rich, we all hope for that big Lottery win or that chance to get “discovered” or to somehow “fall into a pot of money”. But until we actually have the ‘new’ money in our pockets, we have to take real good care of the money we DO have!

News Links:

Dallas Morning News: Only 39% say they would shop for holidays with stimulus check

Convenience Store News: Government Checks Won’t Stimulate Consumers

Blog Links:

Profitable: Stimulus For the Economy-Check Or Is It Checks?

In Defense of Liberty: And So It Begins, But Where Will It End?