Iraq pullout – Obama’s decision to pull out of Iraq was correct for multiple reasons. 1.) That timetable was written into law and signed by President Bush. 2.) The Iraq government asked us to leave. 3.) It increased our stature with other countries by living up to our commitments. 4.) And perhaps most importantly, it improved our national security position. We no longer have 100,000+ soldiers tied down with little benefit. They are now in a position to rest, retrain and refit. Iran still fears us immensely. They know they are still within our reach, particularly with stockpiles of military stores in extremely friendly Kuwait. But largely overlooked may be the impact on North Korea. They conducted much of their policy of outrageous behavior while we had pinned down our own forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, that is no longer true. Congratulations President Obama.
Now that they are a sovereign country, naturally we still need to concern ourselves with the possibility that the Shiite elements might ally themselves with Iran (Persian). For this reason we need to maintain close informal ties with the Kurds. We should encourage the Kurds to not stir up trouble with Turkey. We should consider supporting a Kurd relocation program from eastern Turkey into Kurdish Iraq. The Iraqi Sunnis need to champion arab nationalism over Persian overtures to the Iraqi Shiites. If the Sunnis can’t accomplish this, they will need to ally themselves with the Kurds, if they will have them
‘Balanced budget amendment’ – I have not seen a proposal for a ‘Balanced budget amendment’ that I could support, perhaps someday. But I have two fundamental objections. 1.) Any automatic provision that is triggered by a set of conditions could come at the absolutely worse time, i.e. when such an action could hurt the country. 2.) Automated governing negates the reason why we have elected officials. They are supposed to act in the best interest of our country. We entrust them to find countermeasures to those critical conditions by finding creative solutions. If our lawmakers are not acting in the interests of the people they should be voted out.
Separation of Church and State– I firmly believe in Freedom of Religion. The government should not be in the business of telling churches what they can and cannot do on matters of faith and belief. This does not give religions license to violate the rights and protections of their members as defined by the US Constitution, laws and judicial rulings. States should not infringe on these guarantees.
But in a like manner, churches should not be in the business of telling the government what it should and should not do. Since the government has the responsibility to maintain Freedom of Religion for members of all religions, the government must adhere to the broadest set of principles, regardless of whether they are in conflict with specific religious principles, and apply these principles across public activities. We have seen examples of theocracies throughout the world. I believe that most Americans disapprove of the way that they rule. Therefore we should fashion our government based on ethics and logic and avoid religious ideologies.
Same sex unions – I have trouble believing that a man would chose to be gay. I have trouble believing that anyone would chose to be transgender for light and transient reasons. I don’t pretend to know enough about women to comprehend all the reasons that they might be gay. I don’t see a good reason to deprive those who are not like me from enjoying the same rights and benefits. Therefore, I support same sex unions and believe that those involved should be eligible to the same rights and protections under the law as heterosexuals. To maintain historical and cultural context, I would prefer to reserve the term ‘marriage’ for heterosexual unions and refer to the other as civil unions.
Torture –No Way! No How! It’s immoral. Even professional interrogators say that it doesn’t work because the victim will tell you anything, especially what you want to hear, to get the torture to stop. The quality and reliability of any information received is highly suspect. Torture erodes the US’s ability to seize the moral high ground. It says we don’t really believe in the rights and freedom of individuals. It weakens our reputation and standing with our countries around the globe. Our interrogation practices should be guided by the US Army Field Manual. I consider water boarding to be torture. Finally, by condoning torture we tacitly imply that it is acceptable to torture American citizens, military or civilian, certainly a bad consequence.
Abortion – I don’t know of a single person who thinks that abortion is a trivial topic. They and I all believe that choosing abortion as an alternative is a regrettable thing. But I believe in a woman’s right to choose. It is an issue only for her and her doctor to decide. How would you like it if your right to have rhinoplasty (nose job) were infringed and you were told that you had to endure your ugliness for the rest of your life and pay periodic penalties in addition. I don’t like someone else making decisions for me against my will. I would not impose that on another lightly. I don’t like the government imposing decisions on me. There are many who complain that they want the government out of their lives. But denying a woman the right to choose is the ultimate government interference.
I freely admit that many pro-life advocates are very admirable people, who are kind and generous. I don’t have statistics but I would not be surprised to learn that they adopt and take in foster children at higher than the average rate. But I have two problems with anti-abortion folk as a whole. 1.) Many seem inconsistent on the right to life issue. 2.) Their program is incomplete. By the first statement I mean that I don’t hear the same level of dialogue and proposed legislative action for anti-war, capital punishment, cancer research, adoption, health care, and other life issues. Secondly, they don’t provide an ‘after birth’ program. I don’t see fund raising efforts for women who didn’t have abortions. I don’t see college funds being set up for unwanted children. Perhaps, I am just not in the right places or as I suspect they are few and far between. To me any program to withhold contraceptives and/or to oppose abortion should be coupled with a corresponding willingness to support any resulting child through age 18. Not dealing with the consequences of ones program is irresponsible.
Long ago the courts determined that legal abortions can occur in the first trimester of pregnancy, except for cases of rape and incest where it may be later. This seems a reasonable compromise. We are now looking at about 50 years of largely wasted energy on this topic. America has bigger problems where we could use this energy.