Friday, December 20, 2013

Duck Commander Singled out and Crucified? Let's Get Some Perspective

Phil Robertson of DUCK DYNASTY was punished by his employer A&E for some rather crude and insulting comments that are going to be published next month in a lengthy interview in GQ Magazine.  Besides the graphically crude descriptions of sex and his rather tilted tunnel-vision view of Christianity, he also expressed some severely ignorant opinions about his understanding of the experience of black Americans before and during the Civil Rights era.

Normally I really wouldn't care because the Robertson clan and their nauseating brand of Hillbilly homilies and self-righteous bumper-sticker talk do not appeal to me at all.  And honestly, I can't really even put myself into the mindset of those who do care for it.  I can understand chain-smoking and shooting up heroin before I can understand why someone would subject themelves to squatting in front of their television for that nonsense covered in gross rat's nest homeless men beards.

I'm just going to link to another article for anyone who wants to focus in on the details of what he actually said but to me, the issue boils down to him speaking publicly in a gross and inappropriate way under the guise of just "speakin' the trooth" and demonstrated himself to be drastically ignorant of the life experience of gay people and black people in America while posturing himself under a self-righteous mask of Christian love.

Now it seems to me that people are going utterly and ridiculously insane over this without using reason or rationality at all.  On the left side of the spectrum, A&E is being cheered on and even being encouraged to go further and actually fire Phil from the show (which makes no logical sense as there will not be a DUCK DYNASTY without him).  Those on the right side of the spectrum want to attach themselves to him as their personal representative who is being unfairly punished for speaking forth the truth of their Christian beliefs.

The bottom line is simply that this guy is a celebrity and he works for A&E.  When he spoke up publicly like that in the way that he did and without the benefit of the DUCK DYNASTY editors around to cut and bleep his words, then he reflected back on his employer in an embarrassing (and potentially harmful to the ratings and marketing) way.  So, they punished him. 

This is not a free speech issue. The government is not constraining his speech here and A&E is not discriminating against him because of his beliefs.  He is being punished for publicly embarrassing his employer, who depends on the public consumption of their broadcast, with politically incorrect and plain stupid comments.  And this is not something that is unique to conservative Christians speaking their mind.  This is all about idiots speaking out publicly in such a way that embarrasses their employers.  It happens to Christians and non-Christians.  Without even hitting the Internet I could rattle off 10 similar instances of some media personality who mouthed off publicly and got in trouble or fired by his employer and none of them were for being Christian and all of them were for being inappropriate and stupid.


1.  DON IMUS

In 2007, radio/tv personality Don Imus was fired by CBS for an off-the-cuff racially insensitive remark.

2. ORSON SCOTT CARD

Earlier in 2013, author Orson Scott Card was fired by DC Comics from a SUPERMAN comic he was scheduled to write.  The reason was because of his outspoken anti-Gay statements and efforts in opposition to Gay Marriage.


3. MARTIN BASHIR

Earlier this month, broadcaster Martin Bashir "resigned" from MSNBC after embarrassing the company by saying on-air that "Someone should shit in Sarah Palin's mouth."









4. JUAN WILLIAMS

In 2010, broadcaster Juan Williams was fired from National Public Radio because of comments about Muslims he made on the O'REILLY FACTOR that were deemed by NPR to be inappropriate.











5. PAT BUCHANAN

In 2012, commentator Pat Buchanan was fired from MSNBC for statements he made in a book that they believed were bigoted in racial, ethnic, and gender-related ways.






6. DAVID CHALIAN

In 2012, Washington Bureau Chief David Chalian, was fired by Yahoo News over a hot-mic moment capturing him uttering a racially offensive remark.






7. JIMMY THE GREEK

In 1988, broadcaster Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder was fired by CBS for some racially insensitive and ignorant statements he made in an interview on a local station.

8. DIXIE CHICKS

In 2003, singer Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks made some politically charged anti-Pres. George Bush statements during a concert in England. The negative backlash resulted in their tour sponsor Lipton pulling their sponsorship.






9. CHARLIE SHEEN

In 2011, actor Charlie Sheen was fired from the TWO AND A HALF MEN tv show because of his self-destructive public behavior and belligerent statements about his employer.






10. MICHAEL SAVAGE

In 2003, MSNBC fired broadcaster Michael Savage after he made hateful anti-Gay statements on his show in an angry response to a caller.







So, yeah, I'm sure there's more if I wanted to start digging.  The point is, this is a business decision that has absolutely nothing to do with persecuting Christians and everything to do with punishing an employee who said stupid and insensitive things that embarrassed his employer.  Don't turn it into something it is not.


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Debating the Morality of Polygamy from a Biblical Perspective

Debating the Morality of Polygamy from a Biblical Perspective


The recent ruling by the Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act opened up the doors (from a Federal perspective) for any and all states to define marriage without Federal limitations.  While this paves the way for more and more states to readily allow same-sex marriage, I believe the language in the ruling sets the first rung on a ladder that may soon lead to challenges against another Federal law still in effect today – The Edmunds Anti-Polygamy Act of 1882.  This law offends my sense of moral indignation because it was implemented expressly to discriminate against and imprison citizens because of their religious beliefs.  The law was passed specifically to persecute members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Now, it has continued to be upheld because the Government continues to maintain non-discriminatory rationale for their regulation of marriage as to be limited to one man and one woman and not multiple men and/or multiple women.  Most of this rationale is similar type of hysterical nonsense associated with the anti-homosexual zealots with assertions that polygamy leads to incest or polygamy leads to sexual abuse of children.  This is absurd prima facie propaganda.  There really is no rational reason for it outside of a religious bias against it.  Which brings us to the root of the problem. 

Remove the anti-Mormon bigotry from the equation as to The Edmunds Act and it all boils down to the Christian influence of American culture and by extension, our government.  And this is what I specifically wanted to address right now.  The following springs from a debate I had with a fellow Christian about 9 months ago over the proper Biblical stance on the issue of Polygamy.  By Biblical I am referring to The Holy Bible as accepted and used by orthodox Protestant Christian denominations.  The reason why I want to use her words here is because I believe she presents a commonly held position and thinking from within orthodox Christianity on this topic, and it’s a position I think is wrong and springs from flawed thinking.  Her position was that she is opposed to Polygamy because the Biblical Scriptures teach that it is morally wrong in God’s eyes.  My position in response was that Scripture in no way teaches that it is morally wrong, but rather presents it as morally neutral and any “immorality” associated with it was her imposing her own beliefs onto Scripture rather than doing a plain reading and understanding of the text itself.

For ease of reading, I will present each of my friend’s arguments (in italics and edited but just for clarity) against Polygamy, and then follow each argument with my response in bold.  In the end, I will leave it to the reader to decide for him- or herself as to which position is more sound.

From the very beginning God made one woman for one man and God said THIS is good. This was His design from the beginning. There is a "Bride theme" through out all of Scripture that gives us a picture of the truths that God intends for marriage to reflect (from God presenting the first Bride to the "first Adam" in Genesis to the Bride in Revelation being presented to the Bridegroom--or the "second Adam"--which is Christ.  Also, the prophet Jeremiah's “Return, O backsliding children,” says the Lord; “for I am married to you." (Jer. 3:14) to Paul's admonition "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her", (Eph. 5) and his "For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." (2 Cor.11) The institution of marriage and its message spans the whole of Scripture. It is very much a metaphor and those of us who are married; we are literally "living object lessons" that point to something much bigger.
 This is all true but none of it really speaks to Polygamy, they merely stress the importance of the husband and wife relationships in a practical and metaphorical sense.
Polygamy violates this beautiful typology and is strictly something that began with those who rejected God's teachings. This particular sin eventually infiltrated into Israel and its leadership, but not without consequence.
This is not necessarily true. There is no Scriptural evidence that Polygamy began with those who rejected God’s teachings.  It’s a declaration without support.  If it were, then the incidences of such would have been met by direct and clear condemnation by God rather than passive allowance.

Recognizing an ideal to aspire to does not make it morally superior – simply an implied preference.
 In the Old Testament, the first reference to polygamy (multiple wives) in the Bible was with Lamech a descendant of Cain. (Gen. 4:19) I think this is key as it is a precedent for what will become a "cultural norm" for those people groups that Israel was to drive out of the Promised Land.

Saying something emphatically does not make it true. This is a presentation of an historical occurrence presented within the text without moral judgment.
 The next incident of Polygamy is in Gen. 26:34,35 "When Esau was forty years old, he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah." I don't think this is a mistake that the next time we see Polygamy it is with someone that has the character of Esau. Interestingly, Hebrews 12:16 even calls Esau a "fornicator". 
There is no moral judgment concerning Polygamy made in those references to Esau. There is simply an historical event that is recorded without judgment. The fact that the women brought grief to Esau has nothing to do with Polygamy. And the HEBREWS text does not either. The text reads "Lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright." The use of “or” here separates the fornication reference from Esau. And even if you do want to extend the use of the word to Esau here, ignoring the grammatical structure, then it is a spiritual fornication or profane act by Esau that is actually identified here in the text – “who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” The logistical hurtles to get to a condemnation of Polygamy here violates all hermeneutical sense because the intent of the word is defined in the sentence itself. To better comprehend the meaning in a clearer sense, I would reference the New Century Version translation which properly breaks it up like this: “Be careful that no one takes part in sexual sin or is like Esau and never thinks about God. As the oldest son, Esau would have received everything from his father, but he sold all that for a single meal.”

God's Scriptural instructions for the leaders of the country in Deut. 17. says specifically... "Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself." Well, yeah, I don't think they did so well with that... Solomon I think was the "poster child" for that one. (1 Kings 11:11) But King Solomon loved many foreign women, as well as the daughter of Pharaoh: women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites, from the nations of whom the Lord had said to the children of Israel, “You shall not intermarry with them, nor they with you. Surely they will turn away your hearts after their gods." I think with both David and Solomon they were drawn into the cultural norms of their day. It was a strategic and expected thing for a king to make alliances and ensure political protection to marry into these neighboring people groups.... but God did WARN them about such things, and with both David and Solomon the women got them into trouble. This was NOT a good thing!

Again, looking to other translations, the more correct translation of Deut. 17:17 as to the things to look for when choosing a king is “The king must not have many wives, or his heart will be led away from God.”

This is not a statement of one wife, but not having “many” wives.

This is a nebulous statement that recognizes a truism that was played out with Solomon and David as you point out. Too many wives, especially too many foreign wives who bring their foreign gods into the equation, and you have a recipe for disaster by distracting the King away from God.

But it’s not anything that presents a universal moral principle of one spouse only.

Sorry to say, when the Kings behave as such then the "church leadership" slips down the slippery slope as well. (Ezra 9:1-3) "When these things were done, the leaders came to me, saying, ‘The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed is mixed with the peoples of those lands. Indeed, the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this trespass.’ So when I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished." (Mal. 2:11) "Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem, for Judah has profaned the Lord’s holy institution which He loves: he has married the daughter of a foreign god."
These verses have nothing to do with marrying more than one woman and everything to do with marrying foreign women who worshipped foreign gods and brought those into the families and the nation tainting God’s people.  But let’s move on out of the Prophets and talk New Testament now.

Who were the Men of God in the New Testament that had multiple wives?

None.

No one that I can find has more than one wife. (Let me know if you find one!) There may have been a few cultural hold-outs within the converted Gentiles, (hence Paul's admonition in Tim. and Titus,) but as far as I can tell Israel had abandoned Polygamy.

What does the New Testament say about Polygamy? 
It is true that the New Testament does not bear record to Men of God having multiple wives, but for a very good reason. By the time of the New Testament, monogamy was the norm for Greek and Roman societies but it was still residually hanging on within Palestinian Judaism. For example, Josephus records that Herod in the first century had 10 wives plus a large harem and the school of Shammai was still a proponent of polygamy as a cultural practice. The practice was a dying practice, however. But not because God’s command through Scripture or prophecy. It was an intellectual debate between the different rabbinical schools and leaders that was stemming the tide toward a more ordered society which benefited by the carnal restraint of monogamy.

Again, this does not do anything more than utilize the New Testament as a source for recognizing a cultural shift between the end of the OT period and the beginning of the NT period. It does not give support to the notion that Polygamy itself is anything other than morally neutral.
 So here are the New Testament verses concerning wives and marriage: Christ echoes the original intent of marriage in Matt. 19:4 “And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” 
This is true, but it has no bearing on the topic of the morality of polygamy. Becoming “one flesh” is simply a reference to sexual intercourse as evidenced by the verse in 1 Cor. 6:15-17: "Do you not know that your bodies are members of Messiah? Shall I then take the members of Messiah and make them members of a whore? Let it not be! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a whore is one body? For He says, ‘The two shall become one flesh.’ And he who is joined to the Master is one spirit."

In other words, be careful who you have sex with because it is not simply a physical union between the two of you but the two of you become one flesh together – it is a carnal and spiritual union whether we want to admit it or not. Sex is not to be entered into frivolously.

But that has no bearing on Polygamy itself as a concept. It is entirely possible for someone to leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and then take another wife. In fact, we have centuries of recorded scriptural history where this was the case and done without moral judgment against it by God. In fact, in some instances, where a man’s brother dies and he is obligated by moral and scriptural law to marry his brother’s widow (regardless of whether he is already married), it could be argued that God encourages it.
 Again in Mark 10:6-7 “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife.’" 
Again, you can maybe argue a certain spiritual “ideal” here, but all I see is the basic recognition of man and woman as intended to be together but no requirement that it be exclusive.
 The "husband of one wife" verses: (1Tim 3:2) "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach." (1Tim 3:12) "Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well." 
A great verse, but all it establishes is 2 things: (1) Polygamy must have been practiced in the church for him to make this point. (2) the author, as led by the Holy Spirit, pronounces no moral judgment against Polygamy itself but instead recognizes the practical reality that the type of person the church would want in leadership should not be trying to manage a house with multiple wives and all the distractions that would create (most especially the number of children). I say this, because all of the references are combined with other level-headed practical aspects and not focusing on the spiritual side so much. These are examples of the type of person who would be well-suited for leading out in what amounts to a miniature sub-society within the greater society.

There are plenty of times that Paul rebukes sin within the church. He avoids doing it here, further driving home my point that he may have believed Monogamy was the proper ideal (he was a Roman citizen and so was likely raised with that cultural belief) but he avoided condemning the Polygamous practice in the church. Further evidence that Polygamy itself is morally neutral.
 (Titus 1:6) "if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination." 
Actually, this is not just a general reference to the generic “man.” It is direction from Paul to Titus specifically about the qualities to look for when appointing “elders” in the churches he planted. His words are simple variations of the same words used to Timothy for appointing elders/bishops and deacons. Paul obviously believed the better ideal was monogamy but avoided condemning the practice of polygamy because he had no moral or scriptural authority to do it.
 The instruction is in reference to wives in the singular and not the plural: (1Cor. 7:1-2) "Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband." 
Actually, the word translated “own” as in “let each man have his own wife” is the Greek “heautou” and the word translated “own” as in “let each woman have her own husband” is the very different “idios.”

Heatou” is singular possessive such as “eating his own bread”.

Idios” is the more passive sense of being the one to whom I belong such as serving your “own” master (who may well have other servants as well) or as when scripture refers to Jesus returning to His “own” country (which would be the country of many other citizens as well).

Paul is reinforcing Genesis 3:18 where God said that it isn’t good for man to be alone. He is not addressing Polygamy or Monogamy. However, if we are going to go there with that scripture, it actually supports the notion of Polygamy rather than work against it by establishing that the man “owns” the woman as a possessive but that she is “owned” by him as one of possibly many.
 (Eph. 5:33) “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” 
That statement has no bearing on Polygamy.  Why is it impossible to love more than one wife as himself? The directive to the wife would apply to all the wives.  Just as we can love all of our children fully and equally, if a man has more than one wife there is nothing inherent in our make-up that says he can’t love both (or more) equally – even if that is hard for us to understand because of our cultural bias.
  (1Pet. 3:7) “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” 
This has nothing to do with polygamy and everything to do with loving and honoring your wife (or wives if you so chose).

Exo. 21:10 and Deut. 21:15 both expressly allow a man to take more than one wife – even a wife he does not love.

Remember when the Sadducees attempted to trap Jesus by giving him a hypothetical based on Deut. 25:5 about the aforementioned requirement of a brother to marry his brother’s widow (a requirement that makes no distinction as to whether the surviving brother is already married or not – in fact, within the culture, it is implicit that unless each surviving brother in the hypothetical were just reaching marrying age, they would already be married or at least promised to someone else). Jesus did not take the bait and instead responded back to them that they obviously do not know the scripture or they would realize that there is no marriage in Heaven and that in the resurrection none will marry – so it is effectively an irrelevant emphasis by them that misses the point of eternity.

So, does that mean I’m positing or advocating support for Polygamy as the norm across this nation and the world? No. I am asserting that when the whole of Scripture is read without imposing a presupposition, then there is no support for the notion of a moral basis against polygamy itself as an institution. There are practical reasons to avoid it, for sure. There have even been societal reasons that highly support the notion of Monogamy as the most conducive to a Western-type of culture. And there are demonstrative problems with the practice as imposed by religious inculcation where it is abused and used as a means of controlling women and indulging in lustful behavior.

But abuse of the practice does not make it inherently “wrong.”

What it means is that it is a practice with a greater probability of problems. But, of course, we also live in a society now where more than 50% of the marriages end in divorce, and the number is actually slightly higher than the national average among professing Christians. So, I think throwing stones at those who desire a Polygamist lifestyle is just tossing them through our own glass house and perhaps it’s time we stopped using scripture to justify our own misgivings about something that simply rubs us wrong primarily because we were raised in a culture that tells us it is wrong. It is the ongoing debate over malum in se versus malum prohibitum – something that is wrong in itself versus something that is wrong because it is against the law.

I do not subscribe to the doctrine of malum prohibitum on moral issues (free will and individual responsibility reign in these areas) and Polygamy is not malum in seor God would have been explicit about it rather than requiring us to connect disparate dots buried out of context throughout the Bible.



Sunday, December 30, 2012

just shut up: Essential Recommended Reading from Tumblr

This past year or so, there were a few movies that connected with me but were very different from each other: CABIN IN THE WOODS, THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU and, suprisingly of all things, MEN IN BLACK 3.  Where most everyone (possibly including the writers and director themselves) focused on CITW as a self-aware horror movie slightly spoofing the entire horror genre, I saw something much deeper.  Similar themes were noticed by me with TAB that may have been missed by those just intrigued by the love story and sci-fi/fantasy mind-bending adventure.  MIB fans were likely more fixated on the astounding performance of Josh Brolin channeling Tommy Lee Jones or distracted by how Will Smith never ages.

The aspects that I focused on infuse rewatching and deeper thinking about those movies, and that is that these films at their philosophical core deal with the nagging conflict between the competing worldviews of Calvinism/Determinism and Armenianism/Free-Will.  In other words, are we humans merely going through the motions predetermined for us by a higher power or evolution with free-will merely an illusion to keep from going crazy OR are we truly creating our path moment-by-moment with every single choice that we make?

When I make the effort of pointing these aspects out to people, I tend to get one of two reactions.  Either their eyes glaze over as if I am speaking Esperanto or they tend to want to know more and then their interpretation of the films takes on a new level of appreciation.  Or they may just be humoring me; which is fine also.  Anyway, my point is to lead into this reblog from Tumblr that I want to share here.  It involves taking a deeper look at a beloved Disney family film and shining a different light on it that brings a much darker message going out into our homes than the filmmakers probably intended.

The impact of these deeper aspects of film are not really quantifiable objectively, but because the impact is so subjective it is difficult to argue that these elements of philosophical or cultural conditioning do not have any effect.  Art (by way of film), even in commercial venues, is intended to connect with the viewer and entertain but it can also be used as a form of propaganda to push political, religious, and other worldviews and inadvertently perpetuate damaging examples of behavior to children.

So, read this piece from the not language but a map Tumblr blog and absorb the message.  Her words struck a chord with me and I felt a need to share them with my circle of readers.

The piece is called just shut up:
First, a story. So, my first semester of my freshman year of college, I took this Intro to Women’s Studies class. The class met for five hours a week, one two hour session and one three hour session, and the breakdown of students was what I eventually discovered to be the typical sampling in any Women’s Studies class with no pre-recs at my mid-sized, southern Ohio state school. There were a number of girls who would become, or were already part of, the feminist advocacy groups on campus; there were a number of girls who would prove themselves to be opposed to feminism in both concept and practice, one of whom I distinctly recall giving a presentation on the merits of the “Mrs. Degree,” while my professor’s eye twitched in muted horror; there were a handful of girls and at least one guy I’d come to know later through assorted campus queer groups; and there were, of course, the three to six dudebros, self-admittedly there to “meet chicks,” all but one or two of whom would drop the class after the first midterm. At eighteen, I was myself a feminist in name but not in practice—I believed in the idea behind feminism (which is, for the record, that people should be on equal footing regardless of gender, not that we should CRUSH ALL MEN BENEATH THE VICIOUS HEELS OF OUR DOC MARTENS GLORY HALLELUJAH), but I didn’t actually know anything about it. I could not identify the waves of feminism. Intersectionality and how the movement is crap at it were not things of which I was aware. Never had I ever encountered the writings of bell hooks. In a lucky break, you do not need to know about the waves of feminism, or know what intersectionality is, or have read bell hooks to read this essay! (But you should read bell hooks. Everyone should read bell hooks. bell hooks is FUCKING AWESOME.)  
The first couple of weeks of this class were about what you’d expect. The professor was fun and engaging, but she was not exactly pulling out the eye-opening stops on our wide-eyed freshman asses. There were handouts. There were selections of the textbook for reading. There was a very depressing class about domestic violence, abuse, and rape that was the typical rattling off of terms and horrific statistics that everyone winced at, but that nobody really internalized. The dudebros snickered in the back corner, grouped together like they would be infested by cooties if they spread out, occasionally chiming in with helpful comments like, “Dude, the lady on the back of this book is smoking,” and getting turned down by each girl in the class, on whom they were hitting in what I can only assume was a pre-determined descending order of hotness. The queer kids, myself included, huddled in the other corner making pithy comments. The up-and-coming active feminists glared at the bros, who leered back, and the Mrs. Degree-friendly crowd mostly texted under their desks and made it very clear that they were only there for humanities credit. Again, it was a fairly typical southern Ohio state school class full of fairly typical southern Ohio state school freshmen. Nobody was super engaged, is what I am saying here. Nobody, myself included, was really eating it up with a spoon. 
And then one day, my professor opened the class with, “So, who here has seen Beauty and the Beast?”  
Read More

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Facebook Breeds Overreaction.

We have all seen it.  It's the classic Facebook overreaction to something innocuous.  What follows is an exact one-sided exchange excerpted (without edit) from Facebook simply because I and others posted a funny meme that makes an admittedly non-nuanced point (but isn't that the case with all memes?).

I posted this image.


This was the reaction on the page of one of my FB-only friends:

I'm sorry, but comparing Food Stamps to feeding wild animals is pretty repulsive and finding it funny is horrible. I'd say "fuck you" but I'm not going to be so crude. Needless to say: it just shows how uncompassionate you are - which is especially weird if you consider yourself a "proud Christian." Because, as we all know, Jesus just told starving people to eat trash and all that multiplying loafs of bread and fish had nothing to do with it (though it did)! I suppose I take some offense because, when I was a child, my mother and I had to live on them for some time as she had medical problems and difficulty finding decent work due to it. I suppose, by your logic, we were just "wild animals" that shouldn't be fed because that'd make us reliant on the government...though we probably would've starved otherwise. Just keep that in mind when posting some "hilarious" pic or quip you heard...

Another fact: one of the reasons you are not to feed wild animals is because they are already capable of getting food on their own, in their particular environment. Food Stamps are usually given to those who due to long-term unemployment (which is more common these days for many reasons) and thus, were they not given such, would die of malnutrition or starvation. But I guess they're just "lazy" and should "look for a job"...even though a lot of jobs get a ton of applicants these days and thus far more difficult to actually get one. Again, are conservatives and libertarians stuck in the 1950's? It seems like they are with their reactionary attitude towards women and their dismissal of modern economic issues. Assuming that getting a job is as easy as walking up to a manager to chat with and then seal the deal with a handshake, apparently. It's particularly annoying given the same people who say this are already well-off and have work which they get paid for - it's like thinking that being lactose intolerant isn't a "real thing" because you don't have it. Having tunnel vision and unwarranted certitude doesn't make you superior, just self-involved and ignorant of your surroundings.
Don't tell me the be "open-minded" either because it is your ideology - that's not an excuse. I'd feel the same if part of your ideology involved racial segregation too, because "agreeing to disagree" means I find it sensible or valid. So, if someone isn't able to get food, they should just starve or resort to eating whatever they can find? Maybe you'll say "of course not" but what alternative do you have beyond "The Market will fix that" or "they just need to get a job"? If neither of those are possible, then the person still dies because they starved or ate rotten food from metal trash bins. I'm also quite bewildered that, though it takes up such a small percent of the budget, Food Stamps are demonized along with PBS as somehow being a "drain" on our economy. Oh, but not the over-bloated Defense budget that goes to waste anyway with things like Iraq? Not the totally ineffective and just-as-expensive "War on Drugs"? Not the bailout money to companies that failed miserably but still got them because they just so happened to be connected to Wall Street? Once you actually complain about the horrendous spending on those areas, maybe I'll take you seriously - instead of just imaging a spoiled child in a suit pointing and laughing at homeless people as he walks by and tells them to "get a job" though all they have are rags and their address is a box in an alleyway. 'Cause, y'know, that's "just sensible"... though it's really just dickish.


My short response is here on this blog.  Thank you for not saying "fuck you."  I might have been hurt by that, but at least you aren't that crude.  I would wonder when I've ever considered myself a "proud Christian."  Thanks for reading my mind and assuming all the things I would say to you if you had actually engaged me in a conversation.  I am sure they are just as accurate as any assumptions I might make about you.

As for dependency on Welfare.  Regardless of you or I and our respective experiences with it.  Here's some facts about it.  Read at your leisure.  Welfare dependency is a problem recognized by the government that issues the welfare or else we would not have report after report after report to Congress about it. Y'know.  Actually backed up with statistics and facts rather than just an embarrassing emotional outburst over a silly bumper sticker.



http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/indicators08/index.shtml

Friday, August 3, 2012

We Need to Get Over Ourselves: A Response to the Chick-Fil-A Response

My spicy hate-sandwich with a side of hate-fries.

As we come to the end of a tumultuous week regarding Chick-Fil-A and their hate sandwiches and their anti-paisley shirts philosophy, I wanted to wrap the week up by weighing in on it just a bit.  Primarily, I wanted to weigh in on it because the most recent blog that is lighting up the Facebook world is a very impassioned personal blog entry titled "The Chick Fellatio: stuck in the craw" by playwright Wayne Self.  Click here to read the full text.

Up front, I want to say I really respect what Wayne has to say here. I understand that he is coming from this as someone who does experience prejudice and discrimination.  It clearly can be a tough thing in this world to live life as a gay man, that is true.  I totally give him that and take none of his passion away.  What I do take issue with is that he is writing entirely from an emotional perspective.  I'm afraid that this inevitably leads to faulty reasoning, bad logic, and misleading information.  And since this thing has gone viral and is showing up everywhere, I wanted to bring just a little bit of facts to bear on it because I think nearly everyone seems to be missing the point -- including Wayne.

I am particularly focusing on just his first point.  I may, at a later time, address the other points but probably not since the other points all build on the faulty presumptions of the first point.

Wayne writes:

1. This isn’t simply about marriage. Shocker, right? It’s extremely frustrating that same-sex marriage is the great continental divide. People are judged according to how they stand on this issue, as if no other issue matters. Did you know that a person can be for same-sex marriage and still be homophobic? Did you know that a person can be against same-sex marriage and be gay? We all get categorized very quickly based on the marriage issue and maybe that’s not fair. But here’s what you should know:
In 29 states in America today, my partner of 18 years, Cody, or I could be fired for being gay. Period. No questions asked. One of those states is Louisiana, our home state. We live in self-imposed exile from beloved homeland, family, and friends, in part, because of this legal restriction on our ability to live our lives together.

No.  This is an appeal to pity, flawed reasoning and a twisted way of looking at it.  This seems to be a common refrain within the activist LGBT community  but it is based on a flawed worldview in the face of the “At-Will” employment doctrine – that is, states that allow employers to fire employees without cause so long as it is not for an unconstitutional reason, in violation of a contract, etc.

The leap that Wayne makes is that he takes that doctrine and twists it to be narrowly focused against him and his partner in that if there is not a law on the books that specifically grants special protection for gay or transgendered from being fired then he is being punished.  He does not point to any actual discrimination against him. He asserts that he lives in self-imposed exile that is entirely unnecessary and demonstrates a martyr syndrome.  There is no legal restriction in place that prevents he and Cody from living their lives together and openly.

Louisiana is an At-Will state.  He and Cody could be fired simply because the employer didn’t care for the way they combed their hair.   I have little sympathy for someone who takes something like an At-Will doctrine and personalizes it into a direct assault or imposition against himself. The courts have  consistently recognized that sexual orientation is not a Constitutional exception of the same level as race, creed, sex, etc.  The reason is that orientation is focused not on a state of being or a belief system, it is behaviorally determined.  And nowhere is the At-Will doctrine intended or implemented for the sole purpose of discriminating against gay people.  If an employer uses his own prejudice to do that, then he is a despicable person but he is within his rights to do so.

And I can’t imagine any gay person would want to continue working within that type of environment anyway.  In other words, it’s time to move on, but there is nothing and noone “exiling” he and Cody except his own figurative self-immolation.

Wayne continues:

In 75 countries in the world, being gay is illegal. In many, the penalty is life in prison. These are countries we can’t openly visit. In 9 countries, being gay is punishable by death. In many others, violence against gays is tacitly accepted by the authorities. These are countries where we would be killed. Killed. 

This may or may not be true.  Without citation to any source or authority, I have to take his word for this.  I will assume it to be true and agree that it is a horrible and inexcusable thing.  However, it is irrelevant to us here in the United States and I question the point of bringing it up except that I know why he brought it up – it is a fallacious appeal to the emotions of the reader so that he can then make an equally fallacious “Guilt by Association” leap to connect the Family Research Council and the Marriage & Family Foundation to these countries.

Wayne continues:
- Two organizations that work very hard to maintain this status quo and roll back any protections that we may have are the Family Research Council and the Marriage & Family Foundation. For example, the Family Research council leadership has officially stated that same-gender-loving behavior should be criminalized in this country. They draw their pay, in part, from the donations of companies like Chick-Fil-A. Both groups have also done “missionary” work abroad that served to strengthen and promote criminalization of same-sex relations.

The Marriage & Family Foundation is a foundation that is either defunct or so small and ineffective that I couldn’t even find a Wiki page on it.  It was allegedly founded by Chick-Fil-A president Dan Cathy himself as a part of some other ineffective and practically unknown group called the Marriage CoMission.  I did find a link to Media Matters that purported to have the “purpose” statement of the Marriage & Family Foundation but when I clicked on it, it was a dead link.  But there was a cached link to it still available and that is here.

So, I limited my research to the Family Research Council (FRC), simply because it seemed to be getting the most attention this past week or so.  First, let’s clarify a few things.  Yes, the FRC, for religious reasons, is a group that makes one of their missions to promote what they consider the “traditional” marriage (heterosexual) and to opine and lobby against efforts to implement “same sex” marriage and “educate” people as to what they perceive as the dangers to family and society of homosexual behavior.  (Read this link for info).

I do not support their efforts there but that is a great big leap to mention countries where the law demands the killing of homosexuals and connect it to a rather small activist group whose primary efforts are publishing position papers for and against different political and moral issues.  Position papers, editorials, and blogs do not equal legal killings.

Furthermore, the writer says that the FRC has officially stated that homosexual behavior should be criminalized in this country.  No, what the FRC has said is that states that already have “criminal sanctions” in place for homosexual behavior should be enforcing them.  There is a difference.  If you choose not to accept that difference, then you are contributing to the problem rather than fixing it.  In fact, FRC President Tony Perkins has stated officially that criminalizing homosexuality is not a goal of the FRC.  I also looked at a few different sites such as Ministry Watch and Open Secrets to see how the FRC spends its money and realized that it is a very ineffective PAC simply because it does not bring in enough revenue to really make much of a difference.  The flaw in the LGBT drawing all this attention onto the FRC this week is that it will probably cause a spike in donations the same way that Chick-Fil-A posted record revenue this week.  This is why boycotts never actually work but positive support for companies does.


Wayne concludes with:

Chick-Fil-A has given roughly $5M to these organizations to support their work.

Actually, Chick-Fil-A has given exactly $1,188,380 to the Marriage & Family Foundation and $1,000 to FRC.  There’s a big difference between spending $1,189,380 and “roughly $5M”.  That is intentionally inflating numbers to provoke people’s emotions.

Look, this whole thing has gotten ridiculous and I can only assume it is because this is an election year.  If this country is going to make it, we have got to learn how to disagree philosophically, religiously, sexually, morally, and politically without it turning into this insane spew of emotional bumper-sticker lines and propaganda.  Someone who supports gay marriage is not necessarily an evil person committed to the corruption of our children and the destruction of the family unit and committed to mocking all things Jesus.  Likewise, someone who opposes gay marriage is not necessarily an evil homophobic slobbering redneck committed to depriving gay people of happiness and destroying their lives.

There are extremists on all sides and they do not speak for the majority.

Stop taking offense because all it does it put everyone on the defensive.

Stop arguing all the time over the wrong thing.

In this case, it isn’t really about the morality or immorality of same-sex marriage or behavior.  That is legitimately an issue where people of differing religious, intellectual, and philosophical positions can disagree and should be able to express themselves without fear of reprisal.  The issue is over the fact that our government is unwilling to stand firm and outlaw all unequal treatment (in terms of medical issues, survivor benefits, insurance coverage, etc.) of committed couples who are same-sex.  That is a legitimate issue because it is discriminatory without justification.  That’s where our efforts need to be placed and not in another stupid boycott.  Anyone remember the idiotic boycotts of Ben & Jerry’s and Target  by conservative groups?  Those did as much good as this idiotic boycott of Chick-Fil-A over a $1,000 donation to a group whose only real accomplishments are publishing position papers.

How about we all move on now.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Should A "Christian" Vote for a "Mormon" President? (A Response to Dr. Norman Geisler)

Recently, Christian author and apologetics expert Norman Geisler published an opinion piece entitled "Should An Evangelical Vote For a Mormon President?".  You can read the full text here.

As a Christian, I feel the need to respond to Geisler's article in depth and this is as good a place as any to do so.

Before I get to Geisler's writing and my responses, let me set forth a few principles that guide me in my analysis and opinion regarding the upcoming presidential elections.  First and foremost, religious beliefs of the candidate are just one of many considerations that I use in determining who to vote for.  The most important thing to me is a demonstrated commitment to principles of limited government, free enterprise, individual free will, freedom of speech, press, and religion.  After that, I want to see whether the candidate demonstrates a proven ability to lead and a commitment to a morality base that I can generally agree with.  Finally, do I trust and respect the candidate -- an entirely subjective and intuitive rationale.

On this basis, I am going to generally lean more favorably towards a candidate that expresses Christian beliefs.  However, I certainly have no interest in supporting a professing Christian who does not understand the necessity of being able to exercise his powers of office in a non-Sectarian way that does not advance his faith system over and above all others (Rick Santorum, I'm looking at you).  On the other hand, I have no problem at all with a candidate like, say, Joe Lieberman who is of the Jewish faith but certainly has demonstrated a commitment to the governing principles that I need to see in a President.  Given an all-things-being-equal contest between a Santorum and a Lieberman, I would choose Lieberman every time and never think twice about it.

Norman Geisler has a different way of looking at it, apparently.  In fact, I would preface my response by stating outright that his article in total reads like a classic example of confirmation bias as a way of justifying a vote that is contrary to his belief system because otherwise the cognitive dissonance might actually shake his faith.

Geisler starts off nicely and intellectually by quoting the US Constitution (Article VI), "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." and setting up the point that being Mormon does not disqualify anyone from public office.  So far as I know, nobody of any intelligence has made that assertion, but that's how he starts off his opinion piece.

There are 7 points to Geisler's argument. I will present them in his order and respond.

1 Evangelicals do not have a good choice religiously.

According to Geisler, Barack Obama is a "liberal professing Christian...with Muslim leanings" and Mitt Romney is "a cultist Mormon who claims to be Christian." He further claims that not voting on Election Day throws your vote away and that a "liberal Christian" and a Mormon are equal deniers of the essential truths of the Christian Faith.

I was really curious to know what "essential truths" of the Christian Faith that Obama denies.  If one knows even a modicum of Mormon doctrine then I can't see how an intelligent Christian could make the claim that a professing Christian (even a liberal one) is denying as many "essential truths" as a Mormon.  Thankfully, Geisler has written about what the "essential truths" are for the Christian Research Institute here:
The essential doctrines of the Christian faith that emerge from this historical approach are those contained in the Apostles Creed and unfolded in subsequent creeds of the first five centuries. These include (1)human depravity, (2)Christs virgin birth, (3)Christs sinlessness, (4)Christs deity, (5)Christs humanity, (6)Gods unity, (7)Gods triunity, (8)the necessity of Gods grace, (9)the necessity of faith, (10)Christs atoning death, (11)Christs bodily resurrection, (12)Christs bodily ascension, (13)Christs present High Priestly service, and (14)Christs second coming, final judgment, and reign. Heaven and hell are implied in the final judgment and are explicated in later creeds.
Obama professes Christianity. He has never "leaned" nor professed to hold any other faith, including Muslim.  He has a given name that evokes Islam, but we do not choose our own birth names do we?  The Obamas were formerly members of the United Church of Christ but resigned membership when it became politically expedient to separate themselves from the obnoxious and racist ramblings of the pastor at their home church.  Since then, as with many modern presidents, the Obamas visit various churches without setting down a permanent membership.  A smart decision since the president's church could easily be perceived by our enemies as a source location for harm to him, his family, or others.  As it is, he seems to mostly frequent Baptist churches.  To my knowledge, most Baptist churches align themselves with the essential truths of Christianity and more particularly the Evangelical types.

The Mormon Church, on the other hand, while using language that sounds very Christian actually denies nearly every essential truth of Christianity or so greatly distorts the interpretation of it so as to make it unrecognizable.  Not the least of these is the fundamental Mormon doctrine that God the Father was once a Man himself and that Jesus is the example to us that we may become Gods ourselves after we exit this plane of existence (die).  If you need to be enlightened more as to the opposing truths of Mormonism versus Christianity I would suggest you visit the CARM (Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry) website here.

As to Geisler's assertion that not voting is throwing your vote away.  I agree. Not voting certainly is throwing your vote away.  However, it may also be a way of actively expressing your displeasure at the corrupt nominating system of the two parties that makes it practically impossible to position anyone not well-connected and well-funded within the party system.  If nobody rebels against this broken system how many ways can a message be sent to the parties that the people are tired of it?  Third party? Possibly.  I'll say more about that at the end of this piece.

2 Since Both Options Appear to Have Significant Evil, We Ought to Vote For the One Which Has the Greater Good.

This statement made me laugh out loud.  Geisler jumps through semantical hurdles to avoid the cliche of "voting for the lesser of two evils" and attempts to transplant it into an optimistic garden of unicorns and rainbows by spinning it as voting for the evil "which has the greater good."

A duck is a duck regardless of what you call it.

Geisler tries to sound fair by pointing out "there is both good and evil in each choice."  That's true.  However, that's true with any human candidate.  Further, he argues "even if one were faced with a dilemma between voting for a known Devil or for a suspected witch...[he] should vote for the suspected witch!"

Really?

By Geisler's own admission here he declares "For me, Romney wins on this criterion."

Do you see the flaw here?  Geisler has painted Obama as the "known Devil" and Romney the "suspected witch."  Following his own moralistic analogy, I think this would be the opposite because Romney's record as governor is practically indistinguishable from Obama in terms of social politics and both appear to be basically decent and moral people with strong family units.  So, I have to assume once again (given the subject of his article) that Geisler is falling back on their religious beliefs.  In this case, wouldn't it be Romney who is the "known Devil" since we know that his belief system is contrary to the essential truths of Christianity?  The worst we know about Obama in this area is that Geisler believes he "leans" toward being a Muslim.

Geisler, of course, never defines what he means by that term and leaves it up to his audience to infer what they want to.

Personally, I hate that sort of passive-aggressive writing.

3 It Would Be Better to Vote for a Pro-Life Mormon Than For a Pro-Abortion Liberal Christian

Geisler says "Martin Luther once said that he would rather be ruled by a competent Turk than an incompetent Christian. Likewise, on the issue of life, it would be better to vote for a Pro-Life Mormon than for a Pro-Abortion Liberal Christian... Abortion has already taken some 50 million American lives and Romney is certainly a better bet to stop this continuing holocaust than Obama who favors even partial birth abortions."

I hate abortion. I really do.  However, it is legal. That is not going to change in our lifetime regardless of who sits on the Supreme Court and regardless of who sits in the White House.  The President has no real power on this issue and it is a distraction from the issues that a president can actually have impact on for any candidate to speak about changing it.  It is purely pandering to people who vote from emotion alone.  To spin a choice for president in 2012 as a choice that has any impact at all on stopping or continuing abortions is delusional or intentionally blind to reality.  Again, there are unicorns and rainbows waiting on the road to the voting booth for anyone who believes the president has any power or influence in this area in 2012.

4 Character Counts

Sure, character counts, but how does Geisler define "character?"  He lapses into ad hominems here by insinuating that Obama is an untrustworthy crook by calling him "an all-too-typical Chicago politician" and citing his "leftist leaning appointees and his questionable political tactics."  Color me shocked.  A liberal Democrat president appoints people to office who lean left?  Excuse me, but isn't that the perk of...oh...y'know...getting elected?  The president appoints people who align with his political perspective.  That's not a character defect.  It's a political disagreement twisted by Geisler into a moral failing.

His assertion that "Romney wins on personal moral character" is stated as an absolute without one iota of support.  As I said above, both candidates demonstrate commitment to family and are, by all accounts, fairly decent people trying to do the right thing according to their personal moral and political beliefs.

I'll tell you what, though, watching the slimy and shifty dealings that went on during the Republican nominating battle in which we watched the other candidates get taken down in ways (in my opinion) that indicated some behind the scenes shenanigans, I am a bit nervous about assigning moral superiority to Romney who rose to the top of a very smelly mess.

5 It's the Economy, Stupid

Geisler writes "Both candidates have considerable public records to review on these matters. Having done that, I believe hands down that Romney would fit the presidential bill best."  I would sure like to see what he looked at because from what I have seen of the public records to review, about the only thing that really distinguishes Romney from Obama is that he has a better smile.

6 It's ROE v. WADE, Stupid!

Yes. That's right. He already made Point 3 about the Pro-Life issue and now he makes the claim that the next president will be nominating justices to the Supreme Court and Romney would appoint Pro-Life justices and blah-blah-blah-blah.

Look...let's face reality.  If the recent Supreme Court legal gymnastics in which Conservative Republican Christian George W. Bush appointee Chief Justice John Roberts mangled jurisprudence to make sure that Obama's healthcare mandate would stand as Constitutional was not enough to drive this point home, then I don't know what else I could say to someone like Geisler.  ROE v. WADE is not going to be overturned.  There might be some slight modifications here and there on the jurisprudential down-line but it is not going to get overturned. It has been upheld ad nauseum and the Supreme Court is plain sick of entertaining the issue if we want to be brutally honest.  If George Bush appointees can't push the Court in any consistently Right-Wing direction, what makes anyone think that the moderately Conservative Romney appointees would be any better.  Not to mention that ever since the Bork affair, the Congress has had ever-increasing power in these decisions.  If any President nominates a hard-core partisan, then Congress will not affirm it.  So, every President has to nominate weak candidates who never take strong positions one way or the other and just hope that they will lean the direction the president wants them to lean.  But as it is an appointment for life, there's no reason to expect that they will anyway.

Let's get real about this and use some common sense before we go spouting the ROE v. WADE pablum.

7 I Am Proud to be an American!

Geisler basically says he's embarrassed by Obama as his president.  As he puts it "when I think of an American president, I think of someone who is 100% American. I think of someone who makes me want to rise and sing, “I am proud to be an American!” I would be less than honest if I said that I get this feeling when Barak Obama speaks for our country."

Well, I guess I can file this in my category of whether I trust and respect the candidate.  I don't understand Geisler's feelings here at all.  I think Obama makes a splendid public face for America.  He is attractive, smart, and well-spoken. He has the added visual as part African-American that immediately demonstrates that America as a whole has really put aside the racial divide to the point that he could be elected by a very healthy margin.  Obama has done nothing in office to indicate anything other than an attempt to do what he was elected to do.  He appears to be trying his best to do the right thing as he sees it and he has the mandate to try because he won the election.

Geisler is Wrong and Here's My Solution for the Christian Conundrum Here

While I respect Obama and believe he is doing his best, I think he is an ineffectual leader.  I think his abilities are more like a manager than a president and as a result the government has slid off the scales a bit because of lack of vision and leadership.  In fact, the few things that he has actually accomplished (on the domestic side) have exacerbated the economic harm started by Bush rather than healed it.  I also disagree with his liberal political philosophy nearly on whole.

As a result, there is no way I'm voting for Obama.

As for Romney, I think he is basically decent guy who also has a desire to do good and is largely driven by a conservative political philosophy that I am mostly comfortable with.  However, Romney is so caught up in the corrupt partisan system and demonstrated a willingness to compromise on principles when pressed, that I cannot trust him to really lead the country if he takes the oath.  I feel Romney is in the position that he is in not because the people find him to be the best man for the job so much as the Republican Party leadership propped him up as who they perceived as the best chance at beating Obama.

I never vote for a negative like that and it makes me immediately trust him less when I consider how many promises and corporate/political power-brokers he has got be beholden to for the position he now finds himself in.  It makes me very uneasy.

His Mormon beliefs come in dead last as a reason for why I would not vote for Romney.  But I would be lying if I didn't say that it would make me uneasy, as a Christian, to see my President occasionally give public prayers to a "God" who I knew outright was not my "God" -- actually one of many reasons why, in my opinion, the president shouldn't be doing that anyway but that's for another day.

So, what's a Conservative Christian to do?  My solution is simple.  Neither candidate deserves your vote.

The Republican Party has become a perverted shadow of what it used to be and shallow candidates like Romney are indicative of the corrupted system in which status quo loyalists who are willing to pander with abandon to get votes are all we get now.  Anyone who brings a true commitment to the Constitution, Free Enterprise principles and Individualism are thrown under the bus.

The best way to send a message and hopefully start getting the American train back on the right track is to cast your vote for the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson.  

I don't know what his religious faith is and I don't care.  He never answers those questions because they are irrelevant to the job and he recognizes that any answer he gives is simply pandering to those who agree with him. So, he just doesn't bother.  I do know he is committed to the Constitutional principle of Religious Freedom and that's how a president should be.  He has a solid record of commitment to Constitutional principles, true Conservatism, and practical governance.

But doesn't that mean Obama gets reelected?

It probably means that.  But that problem is easily rectified.  I say pull that lever for Johnson as President but then pull the Republican lever for every Senate and House seat up for grabs.  This would basically guarantee Obama a completely neutered lame-duck second term.  He would be able to accomplish practically nothing and the Republican party system would be sent a very strong message regarding the corrupt nominating process if Johnson could pull a substantial national percentage.  Then 4 years from now, both parties would have a free-for-all with everything up for grabs and maybe some real effective leaders jumping into the pool.

That might be the year when someone like Johnson might actually pull an electoral coup and get swept into office on a grassroots wave while the modern Republican party can disappear into the wisps of history like the Whigs before them.

That's my take.

You can take it or leave it.

Based on recent voting history....most people will choose to leave it.

Enjoy the government you deserve.