Archive for Obama

Same-Sex Marriage, and Why the Church Should Just Drop It

Posted in current events, opinion, politics, religion with tags , , , , , , on May 11, 2012 by Kyle Fleming

In the past week, two vastly important events occurred regarding the LGBT community. First, North Carolinians make their voices heard in the voting booth on Tuesday, passing a state constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage by defining it as between one man and one woman.

Two days later, President Obama, in an interview with ABC News, came out personally in favor of same-sex marriage, becoming the first sitting US President to do so.

It’s been an absolutely bipolar week of achievements and heartaches, and it’s something that almost everyone has touched on, which is why I was hesitant to write this article. However, a Facebook friend of mine recently posted an article entitled Why Same-Sex Marriage Perverts the Relationship Between Christ and His Church. In it, the author argues that Christian marriage is defined in the Bible as between one man and one woman, because it is representative of the Church. Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians:

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. — Ephesians 5:22-27

Personally, I thought it was a very enlightening article. That is, if you believe that marriage is defined by the church, and don’t completely understand why the LGBT community is fighting for marriage equality.

Any church denomination would be hard-pressed to redefine their definition of marriage because there is so much biblical backing for the “one man-one woman” definition of marriage, as evidenced by the citing of Scripture in this article. Everyone in the LGBT community understands this. It would be pointless to make the Church do anything, since they are an entity all of their own, exempt from taxes and protected to their own freedoms by the Constitution.

What the LGBT community is fighting for is LEGAL marriage equality, as defined by the government. Legal marriage gives couples over 1000 rights as married couples, such as being able to visit your significant other in the emergency room, government assistance benefits, and tax breaks, among other things.

The problem with this fight is that same-sex marriage opponents often conflate the two, thinking that what the LGBT community is fighting is some kind of “war” on traditional marriage. That’s not even close to the truth. Individual churches may choose whether or not couples can be married in the church, but even when same-sex couples are denied, they should still be able to go to the court house and find a Justice of the Peace, just like any other couple who doesn’t want a church wedding can do.

Having a “Christian” definition of marriage, to me, raises up a bunch of other questions. Like, if marriage is a Christian institution, why are people not as angry when straight Muslim, Jewish, or atheist couples get married? What is it about same-sex couples, some of whom have been together for upwards of 30 years, destroying the “sanctity” of an institution that has a 60% divorce rate?

Someone in the comments thread on Facebook pointed out that the crux of the argument in the article is that, in a same-sex marriage, there is no one to submit to the other. Two men can’t submit to each other because the man is the ruler of the household. Two rulers means no one is submissive. Which would be correct, if people still valued traditional gender roles and were as two-dimensional as some would believe.

As far as I’m aware, two people getting married has little to no effect on a massive organization like Christianity. I really don’t see what the big deal is.

Why Minutiae Might Not Matter

Posted in current events, opinion, politics, pop culture with tags , , , , , on August 31, 2011 by Kyle Fleming

Everyone knows that words matter. All it takes is a simple turn of phrase or a well-placed capitalization to make a point. In reading Penn Jillette’s new book, God, No! and Other Signs You May Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales (book review coming Friday), Penn makes his atheism apparent not only by stating it several times throughout the book (and constantly name-dropping Hitchens and Dawkins), but also by refusing to capitalize the words “god,” “lord,” and “savior” when referring to Christianity.

It’s undeniable fact that words can be used for good or evil. It’s also an undeniable fact that, for the most part, people are reading into an agenda or argument that really isn’t there.

I was referred to an article on the Huffington Post where Sean Hannity ridicules President Obama’s intelligence because he mispronounced a word three times in a recent speech, pronouncing “corpsman” as “corpseman.”

I’m a firm believer of “things happen.” Sometimes you know how words are said but not how they’re spelled. I’ll freely admit that I had never seen the word “indictment” until I reached college, and felt like an idiot when I asked the person next to me what an “in-dickt-ment” was. I had used the word several times in conversation, and have heard it whenever the news was on in the background, but I had never seen the word. Obama probably had a similar situation. I’m not saying he did, I’m not saying he didn’t, but at this point, anything is possible.

I found another instance of this sort of nitpicking while browsing through the Fox Nation Twitter feed. It brought me to a tweet with proof that Obama can’t write. The link leads to an article from the American Thinker, which accessed a letter from 1990 that Obama wrote for the Harvard Law Record. Jack Cashill, author of the article, says that the letter is “classic Obama: patronizing, dishonest, syntactically muddled, and grammatically challenged.”

Common sense would lead me to think that the article is poorly worded and rambling, with many spelling and grammatical errors, indicating that Obama wrote this letter in a drunken rage, and probably used the word “poopyheads” a few times in reference to critics of whatever he was writing about. But it’s much worse than that. To quote the article:

In the very first sentence Obama leads with his signature failing, one on full display in his earlier published work: his inability to make subject and predicate agree.

“Since the merits of the Law Review’s selection policy has been the subject of commentary for the last three issues,” wrote Obama, “I’d like to take the time to clarify exactly how our selection process works.”

If Obama were as smart as a fifth-grader, he would know, of course, that “merits … have.” Were there such a thing as a literary Darwin Award, Obama could have won it on this on one sentence alone.

Really? A common grammatical error? That’s proof that Obama can’t write? Funny story–I can use the same tactic against you in the very same article:

Although his description of the Law Review’s selection process defies easy comprehension, apparently, after the best candidates are chosen, there remains “a pool of qualified candidates whose grades or writing competition scores do not significantly differ.” These sound like the kids at Lake Woebegone, all above average. (Emphasis added)

Clearly, if Cashill had done ANY kind of research, he would know that Garrison Keillor’s fictional Minnesota town is spelled Lake Wobegon. Clearly, anything Cashill wrote in this article can’t be trusted and should wholly be ignored if he can’t even spell a well-known fictional town correctly.

The point is, sometimes the little things matter, but for the most part, they don’t. Gaffes happen, and they shouldn’t be constantly thrust in the spotlight, because all it does is clutter the airwaves for more important issues.

It’s like the old saying goes, “Stick and stones may break my bones, but words can prove that you’re an incompetent loser.” Or something like that.

The End of the Birther Argument

Posted in politics with tags , , , , on August 2, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Last week, while I was sent on several shopping expeditions, I noticed that the tabloid magazine The Globe had a shocking and disturbing article: they found the President’s actual birth certificate from Kenya, with all of the correct birth information.

It seems weird to me that after nearly two years of being President, people still believe that Obama wasn’t born in the United States. Never mind that Obama has already written a memoir about his childhood, including a considerable section about how he grew up for a while in America before moving to Indonesia.

People who honestly believe the lie that Obama is not a US citizen because he was born in Kenya are missing more than a few brain cells. If the lie were true, that Obama isn’t a US citizen, someone would have found out during the primaries and would have asked Obama to respectfully withdraw from running for President.

However, a co-worker of mine this summer pointed out something that was pretty interesting: even if Obama was born in Kenya, he would still be eligible for Presidency, and thus the administration is still legal.

The US Constitution states: “No person except a natural-born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.” The language here is pretty clear: as long as the candidate in question is at least 35, lived in the US for 14 years, and is a natural-born US citizen, they can be President.

Which brings us to Obama. Assuming that The Globe is right and has clearly broken the story of the century (and curiously has no major news network covering the story), Obama being born in Kenya to an African father and an American mother still means that Obama is a natural-born citizen. 8 U.S.C. § 1401 says that “a person born in an outlying possession of the United States of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year at any time prior to the birth of such person” is a citizen of the United States. Obama’s mother falls under this category, being born and raised in Kansas before being whisked away to Kenya.

In this scenario, because Obama is still considered a citizen of the United States at birth, he would be a natural-born citizen, thus eligible for the Presidency. Check and mate, Birther Movement.

What’s even more interesting is that Obama’s rival in the Presidential election, John McCain, has similar questions about his citizenship, and yet no one seems to be calling him out on it. McCain was born in Panama to two American parents, but a technicality in 8 U.S.C. § 1403 means that he might not actually be a US citizen.

Then again, the language is pretty clear: “Any person born in the Canal Zone on or after February 26, 1904 … whose father or mother or both at the time of the birth of such person was or is a citizen of the United States, is declared to be a citizen of the United States.”

Bottom line is this: no matter what the Birther Movement tries to spew as fact, it isn’t going to work. Because Obama’s mother is a US citizen, Obama is a natural-born US citizen, and he met all three eligibility requirements for the Presidency. The administration is legal, and anyone who tries to say otherwise is either a racist, or really has zero grasp on the Constitution they cling so dearly to.

The Presidential Blame Game

Posted in current events, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2010 by Kyle Fleming
The Presidential Blame Game

Image from Jim Morin in the Miami Herald

It’s human nature to want to blame someone for the problems of the world. From the impoverished to the wealthy, there is always someone to blame for all of the wrongs in your life. Some people blame their parents for not raising them right, other people blame teachers or professors that they’ve had for not nurturing them as well as they should have. Still others blame God, because if God was truly watching out for God’s creation, then bad things would never happen to good people.

The latest in this trend goes toward politicians, and their trying to assign blame to a certain administration for certain terrible things that are happening to the country. It’s no secret that I believe that all politicians are children who never grew up, but this awkward, off-the-wall blame game that’s happening is extremely frustrating.

Take, for example, this video from the 29 June episode of the Daily Show. In it, Jon Stewart, with all of his wit and tact, shows different Fox News analysts and reporters blaming everything bad during the Bush administration, as well as part of the Obama administration, on the Clinton administration. Bad economy, 9/11, invasion of Iraq, the housing crisis, and the oil spill are all the fault of Bill Clinton.

The biggest problem I see with this whole debacle is that there is no reason to blame President Clinton for most of that stuff. Sure, there are some ties between Clinton and 9/11, in that he probably got some memos warning about a possible attack. But President Bush probably also received those memos as part of a “Welcome to Being President” package upon moving into the White House. I know that the new President gets all sorts of bomb codes and different secrets like that. Surely some memos of national security are bound to be included.

And while I could mention something hypocritical in the way that Fox News says, “Don’t Blame Bush” while simultaneously saying, “It’s Clinton’s Fault,” I’m not even going to touch that. It’s way too easy, and happens far too often.

Instead, why not focus on the real problem: the lack of personal responsibility. It a problem that reaches into all demographics of the world. No one wants to be the one that screwed it all up, so if they can think of a scapegoat, or can find someone else to share blame with, then they aren’t as bad as other people would think. It’s a tactic that is meant to keep up a cognitive bias known as Illusory Superiority, which is essentially the belief that people have that they are above average, even when everything else shows that they are not.

Fox News didn’t want Bush to be the worst President in history, so they blamed everything on Clinton, making Clinton the bad guy, and keeping Bush above average.

Fox News and conservatives can blame Clinton all they want, and they can shout down the Obama administration for “blaming Bush” for all of the bad things in the Obama Presidency, but the bottom line is: blame will fall where it is most justified. Any ill that comes from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be Bush’s fault, because it was his decision to go to war, not Clinton’s.

The BP oil spill will be partly Bush’s fault, because he passed legislation that allowed oil companies doing off-shore drilling to use lower standards, but it will also be Obama’s fault because the clean up effort is a mess, and not enough is being done to have BP take responsibility.

Every President is going to have some things that are obviously their fault. Everything that happened after 9/11 in Bush’s presidency is Bush’s fault, because the honeymoon was over, and Clinton’s scent was far removed from the Oval Office. And I’m stating this for the record: everything that happens after this oil spill is going to be Obama’s fault, because it’s been over a year since he took office.

But the bottom line is: someone has to step up and say, “Yeah, that was me. Sorry. I screwed up.” Playing the blame game will only go so far before people stop listening and start making their own conclusions.

Obama’s Not Evil, Stop Marketing Him As Such

Posted in current events, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

I was wondering to myself today why I continue to watch Fox News when I know it upsets me. For everything else I’ve experienced in life, when I’m upset or frustrated with something, I remove myself from the equation. But for some reason, the torture I subject myself to when I watch Fox News makes me want to watch more. Secretly, I think it’s because I’m finally proud to be smarter or have more common sense than someone, but really, I’m not exactly sure what it is.

This was blatantly obvious when I was watching Fox last week, and the ticker across the bottom mentioned that Obama’s BP speech was the first time he addressed the nation from the Oval Office. It read, “Obama is the first President to not address the nation from the Oval Office within his first year.” W. Bush did it twice in his first year, including after 9/11. Clinton had also done it a couple of times in his first year.

Maybe it was because I was completely ready to be offended by something, or maybe it was because I was absolutely wiped from six hours of working with day camp kids, but to me, that read like Obama was a terrible President by not addressing the nation from the Oval Office. I mean, seriously, Bush did it twice. Why couldn’t Obama even do it once?

Probably because it doesn’t really matter where the President addresses the nation? The Oval Office is just as good of a backdrop as the Lincoln Memorial, or the Washington Monument, or the Gulf Coast. In fact, any backdrop that is at least relevant to the subject matter of the speech is a good back drop. Sarah Palin announced her resignation outside, next to a hydroplane, and not in her governor’s office. But no problem with that, because Palin is an outdoorsy sort of gal, so it made sense.

But it wasn’t just the location of the speech that got Fox News uptight, but the language used. Obama mentioned that we are “waging a battle” on containing the oil spill, and introduced a “battle plan” to fight it. “We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got,” said Obama. “And sadly, no matter how effective our response is, there will be more oil and more damage before this siege is done.”

Leave it to Fox News to call out Obama on his choice of words. “It’s too militaristic,” said Glenn Beck. All of the war metaphors were upsetting him. We’re declaring war on an Oil Spill? Isn’t that a little bit silly?

I’ve got three words for Glenn Beck: “Don’t Retreat, Reload.”

The “battle plan” from Obama is nowhere near the literal call to arms that was given to the Tea Party. Don’t retreat, reload. As in, don’t give up when people call you crazy; in fact, counter it with more crazy and violence. Bricks through windows not working? Try death threats and profanity. Not being noticed with your misspelled and grammatically incorrect (and factually untrue) picket signs? Feel free to spit on anyone you disagree with. And throw in a racial epithet while you’re at it.

Obama is not evil. He’s not trying to destroy America. That was Dubya’s job. Whatever crazy pills people at Fox News are inhaling, we better take them away, and hopefully the withdrawal symptoms are enough to knock some sense into them.

Rand Paul: Tea Partier, but no Libertarian

Posted in politics with tags , , , , , , , on May 21, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

The midterm elections are the big thing to watch for in November. Many are predicting that the frustration and the hatred of the Democrats will be the driving force for people voting Republican in the polls. And what’s even more interesting is that many Tea Party people are backing certain candidates for Senate seats. The atmosphere is as exciting as it was prior to the 2008 election: people who aren’t normally involved in politics are now rallying behind their favorite candidate that they hope will make the world a better place.

One of these Tea Party candidates is one Dr. Rand Paul from Kentucky. Dr. Paul recently won the Kentucky primaries and has a real shot at winning a Senate seat. He’s being vehemently backed by the Tea Party, even when he mentions things about the Civil Rights Movement that could possibly be considered racist. (Keith Olbermann flipped out on Twitter about the quote: “I think at one time, people used to think of golf and golf clubs and golf courses as being exclusive…. I think Tiger Woods has helped to broaden that… and so now I don’t think it’s nearly as exclusive as people once considered it to be.”)

But I recently found an open letter to Rand Paul, asking him questions that a true Libertarian would have no problem answering. But before that can make any sense, the question becomes: what exactly is a Libertarian? Libertarianism is a political theory that basically says that government needs to remain small, and that we should practice individual liberty. Libertarians believe that the people are more than perfectly able to manage themselves, and it is not the government’s place to intervene at all.

That being said, Rand Paul isn’t really a Libertarian, according to Mel M., writing to the Baltimore Sun. The most pivotal part of the letter follows:

If he is such a supporter of private rights, does he support the private right of a woman to get an abortion? Additionally, did he support the private right of Terry Schiavo’s husband to make the gut wrenching private decision on whether to pull the plug on his brain dead wife? Does he oppose the recently enacted Arizona law requiring papers of people in Arizona if the officer has merely a “reasonable suspicion” the person is here illegally?

Looking at how he stands on the issues, it is obvious that he feels the opposite. “Life,” he says under the Abortion heading, “begins at conception,” and interestingly enough, claims that “the most basic function of government is to protect life.” Being for smaller government, to me, doesn’t mean that you sic the government into the private lives of its citizens.

And while he doesn’t mention anything about the right to die on his website, under the Illegal Immigration heading, he says, “I support local solutions to illegal immigration as protected by the 10th amendment.” This apparently includes what many people claim to be one of the most racist piece of legislation since the Jim Crowe Laws.

Many are glad that Rand Paul is the Tea Party nominee, because he will be easy to tear down, with his many “gaffes,” the fact that the GOP isn’t supporting him, and the fact that he is proud to say that he’s not a politician. The Tea Party people are excited that one of their own, someone beyond sound bites and party politics, has a real chance of winning. But given the atmosphere, and the great amount of people that are against him, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

One final note: Doesn’t it seem odd that someone that is so against President Obama would take the layout of the President’s website?:

Rand Paul website
Obama website

Strange, isn’t it?

Hypocrisy and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Posted in current events with tags , , , , , , on February 3, 2010 by Kyle Fleming

Hypocrisy runs rampant in the world. There is not one person in the world that isnt’ a hypocrite, and if you claim that you are not, then you are just digging yourself into a hole. Parents can be hypocrites when they tell their children not to drink or smoke, while in the same breath, they tell stories about how they would get people older than them to buy them alcohol and cigarettes. Politicians are hypocrites when they claim to be all about family values, and later are caught cheating on their spouses with another woman (or man, in some cases).

Even some pastors are hypocrites. I was listening to a podcast recently of a megachurch, and the pastor said that when he was in college, he did the stereotypical college things: he drank, he smoked, he had sex, and was generally a nuisance. But then he “came to the Light,” and completely changed his behavior. He claims that because he was converted, he is able to see and learn from his mistakes, but the way he presented it definitely seemed like he was making up for his mistakes, and that by preaching so adamantly against those behaviors, he is absolving his past sins.

But the biggest form of hypocrisy that is in the news today is the attempt at eliminating the archaic “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of the military. Quite literally one of the last remaining forms of discrimination that is completely unwarranted, it forces gays and lesbians that are serving in the military to “keep their gayness to themselves.” It’s honestly shocking and apalling that this sort of behavior is still acceptable in the military, but it’s the sort of thing that is allowed to happen, because it isn’t “outright discrimination,” as I like to call it.

“Outright discrimintaion” is a form of discrimination where it is obvious why the discrimination is happening. If Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, or any other racial demographic were discriminated against in the military, those specific groups would be up and arms, because no matter how the government or the military words it, it is obvious that the discrimination is based on race.

On the other hand, if gays and lesbians are discriminated against, there are other possible reasons for the discrimination, such as low morale, insubordinate attitude, and so on. Because there is no reason to believe that the discrimination is purely on sexual orientation alone, it is allowed to happen. And so, gays and lesbians are forced to be untrue to themselves in order to protect their country.

Absolutely unacceptable.

There is no way that this should be allowed to happen, and both parties need to realize that it is wrong. The problem is, the “family values” Republicans with their mistresses and their young male pages refuse to accept that homosexuality is completely normal and natural, while at the same time, “progressive” Democrats with their “free love” mentality and their inability to be forceful can’t step up to the challenge.

If President Obama really wants “Don’t ask, don’t tell” eliminated, he’s going to have to quit being a moderator and start being a leader. Change needs to be done on so many fronts, but by trying to be bipartisan, Congress and the Senate are just dragging out a process that could easily be quick and easy.

I know I’m going to be a hypocrite in saying this, because I believe that all church services should be like old country Lutheran churches, with pipe organs and traditional liturgy, and with no such thing as a praise band doing contemporary music, but there are plenty of people out there who need to embrace change, and just need that little extra shove into the modern age.