January 20th, 2009

Barack Obama’s Inaugural Implosion


photo credit: poketypatch

Not five minutes into his new presidency, and after having so recently sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution, President Barack Obama pledged to break it by declaring:

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.

Now, we all know that Democrats favor socialism (as do their Republican counterparts, but the Democrats are usually more vocal about it). But to promise to defy the Constitution mere minutes after swearing to support it is a mind-blowing exercise in dictatorial arrogance that leaves me with little hope of this administration’s roadmap for “recovery and reinvestment” (in all its forms). One might wonder if Obama created a Presidential paradox by declaring he would defend the Constitution from foreign and domestic enemies and then laying out an agenda to include himself in one of those categories.

Many have concluded that the inaugural speech itself was an inspirational success, but all the pomp and circumstance (to the tune of $170 million) only serves to woo people with words in order to pacify them when it comes to scrutinizing actions and policies. People can be quite forgiving and apologetic when the person in charge is an eloquent, commanding demigod-type. Just look at Steve Jobs.

Christ taught his disciples to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. These wolves looked and acted like their potential prey, maintaining a convincing outward appearance realistically rivaling any of the sheep around them. But the reality was far different, a pernicious prelude to what would soon be evident: ravenous wolves striking at the right time and in the right conditions, subjecting all sheep to their personal whims.

By their fruit shall ye know them. Despite the rhetoric, the fluff, and the eloquence, few Americans truly know what Barack Obama will do. If he is willing within five minutes to promise to break his oath, every citizen should fear what he will do within five weeks or months, to say nothing of the next four years. Wolves show their true colors when the situation is right—so too do opportunistic politicians.

Time will tell who America has elected.

82 Responses to “Barack Obama’s Inaugural Implosion”

  1. jackson diel
    January 20, 2009 at 11:57 am #

    I fail to see how you connect a pledge to help people around the world–a practice of the U.S. regardless of which party holds the White House–to your assertion that Obama “broke it.” I don’t follow.

  2. Connor
    January 20, 2009 at 12:06 pm #

    I don’t follow.

    Allow me to connect the dots.

    1. Obama pledged massive foreign aid.
    2. Foreign aid is socialism – taxing one group of people to benefit another.
    3. Socialism and foreign aid are not authorized in the Constitution.
    4. Ergo, President Obama was pledging to do something that the Constitution does not authorize him to do.

    The fact that other Presidents have done the same does not minimize the issue. Each President has taken the oath, and each is responsible for his actions in relation thereto.

  3. Jonathan
    January 20, 2009 at 12:10 pm #

    Redistribution of wealth is not a guarantee of the Constitution. Compulsory charity is not part of the Constitution.

    Obama is going to make it mandatory (not that it isn’t already) to take care of people, instead of being charitable, it is not compulsory. Taxes were not set up to pay for other nations, taxes are for the sole purpose of this country (and even then for specific purposes).

    He made a pledge to uphold, and defend it, he broke it by pledging our support (the taxpayer) for foreign nations, social programs, etc that are not part of the Constitution.

  4. Jeremy Ashton
    January 20, 2009 at 12:12 pm #

    I’m currently re-reading “1984” by Orwell. Clearly there was much doublethink throughout this inauguration.

  5. rmwarnick
    January 20, 2009 at 12:14 pm #

    There goes former President Bush’s sole positive achievement– foreign aid to combat AIDS in Africa. What a socialist that guy was– good riddance I say!

  6. Mrs. B. Roth
    January 20, 2009 at 12:54 pm #

    I love it when people use Christ’s own words to justify their unChristian attitudes.

    How better to share Christian values than by helping less fortunate brothers and sisters around the world? Do the least of these only count if they were born in the USA?

    Stop prophesying doom and just do good.

  7. Jonathan
    January 20, 2009 at 12:57 pm #

    @rmwarnick
    Shouldn’t you have the option to give money to charity? Shouldn’t you have the choice to decide how it’s used in helping someone?

    I think people do not quite understand socialism any more then they understand Constitutionalism.

  8. Jonathan
    January 20, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    @Mrs. B. Roth
    Christ, never forced anyone to do anything. Christ was about charity, not compulsion.

    There’s a big difference between forcing someone to do something and letting them choose to do something – it’s a little thing Christ called “Free Agency”.

    “Stop prophesying doom and just do good.”
    If the prophets can do both, why can’t we?

  9. Connor
    January 20, 2009 at 1:01 pm #

    I love it when people use Christ’s own words to justify their unChristian attitudes.

    It’s un-Christian to warn your neighbor about our leaders acting out against the Constitution? Seems like the scriptures support doing exactly that, not to mention modern prophets repeatedly advocating the same.

    How better to share Christian values than by helping less fortunate brothers and sisters around the world?

    1. It’s socialism.
    2. It requires force.
    3. It destroys liberty
    4. It’s not in the Constitution
    5. Modern day prophets have spoken out repeatedly against it.

    I could go on…?

    Do the least of these only count if they were born in the USA?

    We each have the individual responsibility of helping them, but not forcing others through taxation and the force of government to do so.

    Stop prophesying doom and just do good.

    This hyperbolic mandate completely ignores prophetic and divine warning to awake to our awful situation, pay attention to what’s going on around us, understand the intentions of our leaders, hold them accountable to the Constitution, and be watchmen on the tower. Burying your head in the sand doesn’t maximize your potential to do good. Only by fighting for liberty will we be able to ensure that we can continue doing good.

  10. Carborendum
    January 20, 2009 at 1:40 pm #

    A Seventy recently traveling through Denver, chose our stake for an impromptu stake conference. The most memorable message he gave in his address was:

    ”From everything the first presidency and the twelve have said, the central theme has been that things are getting bad. Decisions a have been made where we are on a path that things will not get better; and it will not be short.” Gee, this Seventy is prophesying DOOM. He should be sent to the office of the First Bishop.

    This was before the election, but after both nominations were confirmed. So, it looks like it wouldn’t have made a difference between Obama or McCain.

    I don’t know if he meant that this is the last straw and we need to prepare for the end, or that we’re headed into a prolonged period of societal decline (like the depression). Either way, it doesn’t bode well for at least the next several years at least. But many prefer to put their hopes into “The One” instead of listening to the living prophets.

    At the same time, I think it is a good policy to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I have my own opinions about our new President as many here already know. But I’m willing to forget everything about him and allow his actions to speak louder than his words or even his past deeds.

    He gave a speech. I don’t really trust anything that comes out of a politician’s mouth anyway. Let’s see what his actions show as time goes by.

  11. Jonathan
    January 20, 2009 at 1:43 pm #

    It’s the other 7 years…

  12. jasonthe
    January 20, 2009 at 1:47 pm #

    It is really very hard to take you seriously on this Connor. I remember very little concern for the Constitution coming from this blog during the FISA/warrantless wiretapping debate, nor any complaints about the suspension of habeas corpus, nor the filleting of the fourth amendment throughout the Bush administrations tenure.

    So for the record, your stance is as such: domestic surveillance and suspension of key tenets of the American justice system (arguably the principles that make terrorists hate our country in the first place) are just super by you… but taxation is where you draw the line.

    Quite illogical.

    Not to mention you are garnering all of this “reasoning” from a speech, whereas the very acts that led to Republican defeat in 2008 were signed in as actual law.

    And please stop with all this charity nonsense. If charity worked as a solution to disparity in this nation, we’d have seen it by now. I mean what are all these charity people waiting for, the okay to start investing in the well being of others? Right.

  13. Connor
    January 20, 2009 at 1:50 pm #

    jasonthe,

    You need to search the archives a little deeper, buddy. You’ll find numerous blog posts on each topic. I excoriate Republicans and Democrats equally. To assume otherwise shows how superficially you’ve read recent posts, or how infrequently you visit this blog. Don’t be so quick to throw stones; in this case, you’re absolutely dead wrong.

    [apu]
    Thank you, come again!
    [/apu]

  14. Tom Rod
    January 20, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    Would it not be wise to support the person elected through constitutional means?

    Not saying I don’t agree, but I feel your logic is flawed. Correcting externalities (cleaning up our mess in foreign countries in this case) is not socialism–it’s often called compassionate capitalism. Further, Obama did not say the government would tax the nation to pay for these programs. Other revenue options are available.

    Open-market capitalism is not the only system of economics, nor is it necessarily superior. Just thought I should point that out.

    Also, can you provide references to where modern prophets have counseled and commanded against helping people in foreign countries. This is a point I have not heard.

    Just out of curiosity, have you been to a foreign, third-world country for an extended amount of time? Mission or military? Or even southeast Oklahoma? Do you know what its like to not know if the water in your cup was in someone’s bladder an hour before, and the only means of filtration ahs been time?

  15. Citizen
    January 20, 2009 at 1:54 pm #

    From what I understand of the Constitution, the government and government officers are forbidden to do all things save those which are specifically granted unto them in the constitution. I am correct on this?

    I just brushed up on the Constitution, and I see that the President’s powers are outlined in Article II Section 2. Three sentences are dedicated to outlining his power, which include:
    1, make treaties; 2, appoint ambassadors, ministers, consuls, and judges; 3, fill Senate vacancies.

    Obama declared he will “work alongside” poor nations. The vagueness of the statement doesn’t help clarify what he intends to do, but couldn’t he use his legitimate constitutional power to “make treaties” or “appoint ambassadors” that have a foreign-aid agenda?

    The Constitution appears to remain silent regarding the motives behind ambassadorial appointments or the purpose of “treaties,” only that the President is legally authorized to make them.

    Don’t get me wrong, I wary of a socialist agenda also, but if we’re going to consider the Constitution the supreme authority, we need to get more comfortable citing it.

    The proposals of Obama certainly are contrary to the principles found in the founding fathers’ zeitgeist, but I’m having a hard time pinpointing where he is violating our founding documents.

    So here’s my honest question, not wanting to ruffle feathers, but sincerely wanting to know. What section and article of the Constitution is “broken” by pledging to “work alongside” foreign nations?

  16. Connor
    January 20, 2009 at 2:06 pm #

    Tom,

    Correcting externalities (cleaning up our mess in foreign countries in this case) is not socialism–it’s often called compassionate capitalism.

    “Correcting externalities”? I don’t care what it’s called to make it easier to swallow—taxing one group of people to benefit another financially is socialism, plain and simple.

    Also, can you provide references to where modern prophets have counseled and commanded against helping people in foreign countries.

    Nowhere have they counseled not to help in foreign countries. You’ve misread my words if this is what you believe I said. I was referring only to the socialist component of government foreign aid, not private and voluntary foreign aid. This quote describes what I mean:

    There is one and only one legitimate goal of United Stats foreign policy. It is a narrow goal, a nationalistic goal: the preservation of our national independence. Nothing in the Constitution grants that the president shall have the privilege of offering himself as a world leader. He is our executive; he is on our payroll; he is supposed to put our best interests in front of those of other nations. Nothing in the Constitution nor in logic grants to the president of the United States or Congress the power to influence the political life of other countries, to ‘uplift’ their cultures, to bolster their economies, to feed their people, or even defend them against their enemies. (Ezra Taft Benson, via Quoty)

    The government has no authority to boost other nations and help their people; that responsibility lies with us as individuals. Prophets have encouraged the same, for charity requires agency—something that government destroys when it becomes required.

    Just out of curiosity, have you been to a foreign, third-world country for an extended amount of time?

    Two year mission in Honduras, one of the most destitute countries in the western hemisphere. Three week service trip in Zambia, suffering the worst in the AIDS epidemic. My experience may not rival others such as Angelina Jolie (heh..), but I have enough to know what it’s like on “the other side”, as the Zambians would say. I’ve seen the people you talk about, and I feel moved to help them. I do help them. But I reject any action that would force me to do so.

  17. Tom Rod
    January 20, 2009 at 2:11 pm #

    I apologize for my previous comment being so disjoint–I’m getting a lot done here :-)

    Would you be opposed to government-sponsored initiatives to bring aide to foreign countries? To fellow citizens? Not necessarily out of taxation (which, in my reading, is often performed unconstitutionally), but out of organizing volunteer objectives?

  18. Connor
    January 20, 2009 at 2:12 pm #

    Citizen,

    What section and article of the Constitution is “broken” by pledging to “work alongside” foreign nations?

    See here.

  19. Jeff T.
    January 20, 2009 at 2:13 pm #

    Jasonthe,

    That’s funny. I read this blog frequently, and it is an outspoken critic of warrant-less wiretapping and FISA.
    http://www.connorboyack.com/blog/ex-post-facto-law

    And Connor is no fan of Bush.
    http://www.connorboyack.com/blog/the-constitution-just-a-piece-of-paper

  20. Connor
    January 20, 2009 at 2:14 pm #

    Would you be opposed to government-sponsored initiatives to bring aide to foreign countries? To fellow citizens? Not necessarily out of taxation (which, in my reading, is often performed unconstitutionally), but out of organizing volunteer objectives?

    If the sole role of government was to encourage, and in no way involved taxation or redistribution of wealth (meaning that the donations came from individuals acting of their own volition), then absolutely. But if the government required that the people “voluntarily” give, then no, I would likely not support that effort. Mandating that somebody give on their own is no different than the government taking it and doing it themselves. Either way, liberty is gone.

  21. ajax
    January 20, 2009 at 3:10 pm #

    Tom, can you provide references where modern prophets have said it is okay for the Government to take money from some in order to give it to others? Bastiat’s term legal plunder comes to mind.

  22. bekkieann
    January 20, 2009 at 3:59 pm #

    The government has no authority to boost other nations and help their people; that responsibility lies with us as individuals.

    How about the armaments we supply to our allies? Does that count?

    I must say you had to extrapolate quite a bit to reach the conclusion you do with those words from today’s speech.

  23. Connor
    January 20, 2009 at 4:07 pm #

    How about the armaments we supply to our allies? Does that count?

    Most definitely. In many cases, those weapons end up being used against us, anyways. We all had a good laugh during the search for Iraqi WMD; we knew Saddam had them, because we had the receipt!

    I must say you had to extrapolate quite a bit to reach the conclusion you do with those words from today’s speech.

    Care to explain? I copied and pasted his words promising what must be a massive amount of foreign aid. Foreign aid is socialism. Socialism is un-Constitutional. A = B = C. It’s simple math, really.

  24. Rick
    January 20, 2009 at 6:57 pm #

    I agree with Connor on this. The president is the president of the U.S., not the world. Taxes (compulsory) should only be used for the very basics and then only when broadly supported. Americans are very generous. Let them keep more of their money and then they would have more to give (by choice).

  25. Tom Rod
    January 20, 2009 at 7:55 pm #

    Ajax: No, I can’t. I was simply clarifying what was stated before.

    Connor: I’m fairly surprised by this post. You typically show a fair, balanced approach to things. This post is unlike what I come to expect–the logic smacks of similarities to anti-mormon argument approaches (take a small piece of a speech, extrapolate, interpret, declare why evil/wrong/incorrect). Once again, I haven’t found anything in the post I necessarily disagree with. I only want to point out the approach is much like taking a piece of cake and shoving it in faithful readers mouth, rather than the expected elegance encapsulated in your normal approach. I suppose since this was posted fairly soon after the speech itself that it perhaps didn’t go through your typical entry process.

    That being said, keep it up. Great blog–one of my favorites in the bloggernacle.

  26. Connor
    January 20, 2009 at 9:05 pm #

    This post is unlike what I come to expect–the logic smacks of similarities to anti-mormon argument approaches (take a small piece of a speech, extrapolate, interpret, declare why evil/wrong/incorrect).

    I’m sorry you feel that way, but let my clarify my intentions by stating that this one sentence I used from his speech is generally indicative of not only his votes as a Senator, but of politicians in general. If his promise of foreign aid were something radical and abnormal, then I think perhaps your argument would hold sway. But foreign aid has broadly been supported in recent decades (as rmwarnick noted, it was one of the few supposedly positive hallmarks of Bush’s legacy), and it has been repeatedly advocated by Obama (who even favors a global tax to pursue such an endeavor).

  27. joe
    January 20, 2009 at 9:15 pm #

    Connor,
    So far Obamas comment is pretty non-specific, we live on one planet and there are a lot of things we can do here which directly benefit ourselves, and could indirectly help other people in other countries. It does hint at something more than that, that is for sure. There is also the possibility of policy changes in trade, environmental laws, economic sanctions against countries which aren’t helping in this objective. If its unconstitutional, its illegal, why hasn’t that stopped other presidents?

    “Foreign aid is socialism – taxing one group of people to benefit another.”

    From what I understand foreign aid isn’t a free lunch, its not done just to be a good guy, its to meet the interests of the United States and allies. On another level, I am taxed and some of the money goes to support things I will never directly benefit from, and I cannot be fully informed about how exactly all of the tax money is used. I also cannot determine by myself how this will all be used.

  28. Rick
    January 20, 2009 at 9:19 pm #

    Connor is right, see this part of the White House website foreign policy agenda:

    “Obama and Biden will embrace the Millennium Development Goal of cutting extreme poverty and hunger around the world in half by 2015, and they will double our foreign assistance to achieve that goal. This will help the world’s weakest states build healthy and educated communities, reduce poverty, develop markets, and generate wealth.”

    This sounds great until you get to thinking a far more efficient delivery system would be to let Americans choose where their money goes instead of it being coerced in taxes and eventually spent with all the losses and inefficiencies of the bureaucracy. What can we do? For example, one could (by choice) donate to the humanitarian fund of your church or support micro-loans through organizations such as Kiva or any number of charities. I believe this is a far more efficient means of delivery than government programs.

  29. Rick
    January 20, 2009 at 9:53 pm #

    I was curious about Connor’s statement that Obama “favors a global tax…” Sure enough there are a lot of references to the Global Poverty Act “which require[s] the United States to increase its overall spending on Humanitarian Aid from 23 billion to 98 billion a year. This bill has been surrounded by some controversy because it also has stipulations that could infringe on the Constitution of the United States.”

    A very handy thing to have around, this Constitution. Hmm, now how do we get our politicians to actually read it and abide by it?

  30. AmoreVero
    January 20, 2009 at 10:02 pm #

    “Now I tell you it is time the people of the United States were waking up with the understanding that if they don’t save the Constitution from the dangers that threaten it, we will have a change in government.” Joseph Fielding Smith CR Apr. 1950.

    Well, we did not wake up & so now today the prophecy has been fulfilled & we have a complete change in government than our Founding Father’s gave us. Our sacred Constitution is shattered. The Adversary is very pleased with our silence & our apathy. Things are just as he wants them. Are we ready for the cleansing of this nation that is about to take place because no one (but a very few) listened to the Prophet of the Lord before it became too late?

  31. Aaron
    January 21, 2009 at 7:12 am #

    I guess the Marshall Plan was socialist, too.

  32. Jonathan
    January 21, 2009 at 8:16 am #

    People really ought to go back and start reading talks from David O. McKay, Ezra Taft Benson, Cleon Skousen, J. Reuben Clark, and some others – to fully understand the church’s position on these matters.

    The position hasn’t changed, just the amount of listening has…

  33. Jeff T.
    January 21, 2009 at 1:35 pm #

    Well, Jonathan, the prophetic warning hasn’t changed, but the church has officially taken no stance on many of the issues. Oftentimes, prophets warn us of dangers and speak truths on issues where there is no official church position.

    I’m not saying the prophetic warnings aren’t vitally important. Clearly, McKay, Benson, Clark, and others are right and ought to be heeded as God’s spokesmen. However, if you ask a church representative what the church’s official position on government funded foreign aid, they will say, “no official position.” This fact shouldn’t necessarily influence our behavior or actions, except that we should be careful when we explain it to others: “God’s prophets warned us of ‘x'” means something different than “the church’s official position on the issue is ‘x.'”

  34. Carborendum
    January 21, 2009 at 3:33 pm #

    Jeff,

    Reasons why the Church has no official position on so many issues:

    1) Contrary to popular belief, we are supposed to do a lot of thinking for ourselves. It is a slothful and not a wise servant that must be commanded in all things. The leaders of the Church do not have the time to weigh in on every single issue. The leaders give us general principles that effect multiple issues at once, and we are supposed to coolly reflect on these and the effects of government action on our lives and others and decide for ourselves. That is why we still have such disagreements between well-intentioned LDS who strive to do what is right.

    2) Tax exempt status. The Church is on solid ground when it takes an official position on purely moral issues that are fairly unambiguous. When it starts to take official positions on specific acts of government in foreign affairs, welfare, taxation, etc. they are in danger of running into legal issues.

    3) Better obedience comes from guidance rather than command. If they give us guiding principles which most members tend to agree with (that’s why we’re members) and we draw our own conclusions from these, it is easier to accept and obey than if they tell us something outright. Some items are ambiguous and we are supposed to be guided by the Spirit for those “close calls”.

    I can readily believe that most on this blog tend to study and ponder the issues Connor brings forth. I have no idea how much time is spent praying about the same issues. I know I could spend a little more time praying before I post some of my knee-jerk reactions here.

    But then again, this is just a blog. I don’t think any of us are trying to bring forth new scripture.

  35. Jeff T.
    January 21, 2009 at 5:22 pm #

    Carborendum,

    I agree. I’m not arguing against Connor, or against anything that he has said or even what Jonathan has said. I was just pointing out to Jonathan that there may be a better use of language–anti-socialism isn’t church policy, it is simply good policy that has been advocated by church leaders.

  36. Jeremy Ashton
    January 22, 2009 at 7:28 am #

    “People can be quite forgiving and apologetic when the person in charge is an eloquent, commanding demigod-type. Just look at Steve Jobs.”

    Hey Connor or anybody else out there – what is meant by this comment about Steve Jobs?

  37. Connor
    January 22, 2009 at 7:59 am #

    Hey Connor or anybody else out there – what is meant by this comment about Steve Jobs?< ?em>

    I was referring to the effect that the Reality Distortion Field can have among Apple fans, leading them to lap up anything that Jobs says and overlook some of the negative or disagreeable things he might have done.

  38. Jonathan
    January 22, 2009 at 8:10 am #

    @Jeff T. – I concede your point, it should probably read “thier position” as in the prophets position (which in my mind is the church’s position).

    @Connor – Fanbois, whether it’s Apple, Microsoft, Linux, Obama, etc…they’re all the same

  39. Adrien
    January 22, 2009 at 8:12 am #

    I didn’t translate the words “…work along side you…” as “…we will give money to you…”

    This could just as easily mean that we will work to solve the inefficiency of the world in this aspect. We have done this in other industries. I don’t claim to know what President Obama intends to do to work alongside the nations of the poor, but I write this from Indonesia, a poor nation, where I have been working with these people to develop an airline that increases efficiency, lower transactions costs, and improves productivity, contributing to the growth of the local economy. One day, hopefully, maybe I won’t have to brush my teeth using bottled water that may or may not have been refilled at the tap to minimize the risk of suffering from some parasitic amoeba. By leveraging our expertise to simultaneously help people who cannot help themselves while creating value for ourselves, we aren’t being socialist at all.

    On the other hand, maybe he is trying to repair our relations in the world where we are viewed more as the antagonizing imperialists than people who might be able to help. These people are some of the most hospitable and easy going, yet in order to get to my room, I have to pass through several layers of bomb sniffing and metal detectors.

    I find it hard to believe that the Indonesian culture is what drives the violent attacks on westerners. I think it is more the perception that we are taking from them and they would like us to stop. Within 72 hours of the inauguration, I can already see the change in perception.

    On this trip, beginning Wednesday morning (a few hours after the inauguration Singapore time), people have come up to me and verified that I am from the United States and followed up with questions about how excited I am about Obama. Though my excitement doesn’t resonate within me, it seems to with the people of Southeast Asia. Maybe that is all that counts.

  40. Connor
    January 22, 2009 at 9:23 am #

    I didn’t translate the words “…work along side you…” as “…we will give money to you…”

    On its face the sentence may seem harmless as you describe, but taken in context of his previous votes and stated goals, I think it clearly demonstrates the intention of playing Robin Hood: taking from the “rich” to give to the “poor”.

    By leveraging our expertise to simultaneously help people who cannot help themselves while creating value for ourselves, we aren’t being socialist at all.

    If done on an individual and voluntary basis, then I completely agree. But being forced to do so by the government is another story.

    Though my excitement doesn’t resonate within me, it seems to with the people of Southeast Asia. Maybe that is all that counts.

    I think that excitement is only of value if based on proper principles. The giddiness that most feel relate to an eloquent, black man (who is not Bush) becoming President. I share that excitement. But when we start talking about actual policy, then I think we’ll have plenty of reasons to balance that optimism and place us back in a reality where we’re still pursuing the same overall course that we have for decades…

  41. Adrien
    January 22, 2009 at 9:59 am #

    Your assessment of giddiness may be true for most of the supportive constituents, however, I disagree that this holds true for why the rest of the world is excited.

    I’m not saying that Obama isn’t postured to the populace. He has previously proposed to tax the management fee and carried interest of private equity as earned income, even though it isn’t earned income, simply because it is from these sources that most of our income is derived and earned income is taxed at a higher rate. And, presumably, these revenues would be posted against the socialist initiatives that we will soon see.

    With that said, I disagree that you can build your argument and exaggerate it by focusing on a small quote from his inaugural speech. The complexity of the issue is too great to base an argument off of a paragraph from his twenty minute speech. This is evident in your last paragraph where it seems that you are confusing the issue.

    This isn’t about the excitement of Americans. That paragraph in the speech is more about recasting the perception of the United States that pervades the rest of the world. Well that’s how I choose to see it anyways.

  42. Marc
    January 22, 2009 at 10:47 am #

    Mrs. B. Roth, whats your address? I’ll be over to steal ten thousand dollars tonight so I can give to my favorite charities. I’m sure you wont mind, after all I am doing Christian service right? By the way, if you dont give the money to me I will unfortunately have to lock you up in my basement for failure to give to the less fortunate.

    :)

  43. Marc
    January 22, 2009 at 11:10 am #

    Connor, another great post. I fully agree. When you consider the “bigger” picture of what is going on with our Govt’ then you start to understand the “Buzz” words coming from these globalists. “Working along side” is just a New World Order buzz word that means America will get out our Visa Card and charge up the cost to give welfare to the poor countries. Nothing is said about the fact that our children and unborn grandchildren will be slaving away to pay for all of this. But hey, it all sounds good right? They also fail to mention the control that extending welfare gives to those extending it. (It’s called slavery by the way)

    Satan really know hows to seduce people. Ponder the premortal plan of free agency and what Satan proposed. He will force everyone to do what is right that no soul shall be lost. Sounds really great doesnt it? Free agency is too hard and over rated right?

  44. Justin
    January 22, 2009 at 8:21 pm #

    I’m completely with you in your criticism of President Obama. I’m on board with the idea that we should not hope that he succeeds as a President, b/c that means socialism will be instituted. Etc, etc.

    However, President Uchtdorf, who attended the inauguration, said:
    “It was inspiring to be an eyewitness to this peaceful, impressive, transfer of power and the swearing-in of the first African American president. We pray for President Barack Obama’s success in these challenging times and join in his expressions of hope and optimism.”

    How should we take a statement like that as we critically observe and critique the policies that our President is going to be implementing?

  45. Connor
    January 22, 2009 at 8:40 pm #

    How should we take a statement like that as we critically observe and critique the policies that our President is going to be implementing?

    See the discussion here for some insight and possible answers. My favorite comment was in #9:

    I pray for the country and its leaders all the time. But I only pray the the meta-objective: freedom and righteousness. If Obama isn’t for those two I will pray that we are protected from him.

  46. Carborendum
    January 23, 2009 at 1:48 pm #

    Here’s another way you can look at it:

    We pray for success in those endeavors of anyone in power (since we are supposed to be good citizens of a republic). Then if it is a good idea, great. We have a better country. If it is a bad policy, then we hope the policy has it’s full run causing massive trouble, so we know not to do that again and move on.

    If only it were that simple.

  47. Smoe
    January 23, 2009 at 11:57 pm #

    Marc,
    Looking up some information on the topic of ‘free agency’ it appears that many LDS church leaders prefer to use moral agency, or just agency. Apparently that is what is used in LDS scripture. A related term is ‘agent’ “…I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself” D&C 29:35

    I would like to understand this LDS teaching a little better. When it says ‘agent unto himself’ is this supposed to mean indepenent action apart from any external influence?

  48. Connor
    January 24, 2009 at 8:53 am #

    When it says ‘agent unto himself’ is this supposed to mean indepenent action apart from any external influence?

    The clarification you seek might be best summarized by this verse of scripture:

    Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.

    We are continually subjected to external influences and circumstances that require us to choose between two or more options. Man cannot act apart from any influence, because were that the case, you would only be being acted upon by some predetermined course of action outside of your control.

  49. loquaciousmomma
    January 24, 2009 at 12:31 pm #

    I read the article about Elder Ballard and Pres. Uchtdorf’s attendance at the inauguration and discussed it with my teenage daughter and husband.

    My daughter had an interesting take on this quote “”I left with a feeling that the people of America are going to unite behind this new president and his administration and that we need to pray for him”.

    She said that she felt that since the people are going to be so united behind Pres. Obama, he will need our prayers that he uses the power wisely.

    We also discussed D&C 134:6 “We believe that every man should be honored in his station, rulers and magistrates as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty” and how respecting the rulers doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with them.

    I think as Latter-day Saints, we are held to a higher standard. Obama may end up acting like our enemy, but as such we are still required by the Savior’s teachings to pray for him.

  50. Clumpy
    January 24, 2009 at 3:43 pm #

    Honestly, I’m so excited by the order for the closing of Gitmo and other prisons that something like this serves as a good wake-up call. You’re right, of course, Connor, though I’m just glad that my disagreements of this administration come down to policy rather than morals, I can’t allow the fact that some of Bush’s worst excesses are now ending to allow me to tolerate other unconstitutional behavior from this new administration.

    It’s strange that one of the few things Bush is praised for by both sides of the political spectrum is his AIDS work in Africa, something else that probably wouldn’t stand up to constitutional muster.

  51. Connor
    January 24, 2009 at 3:51 pm #

    I can’t allow the fact that some of Bush’s worst excesses are now ending to allow me to tolerate other unconstitutional behavior from this new administration.

    I’m not yet entirely convinced that Bush’s excesses are ending. Yes, Guantanamo is going to close within a year (unless we get a reversal or some other event leading to a policy change).

    But I’m not concerned about Guantanamo. I’m concerned about the people who are held there. From what I have read, Obama has not disclosed his intentions with regards to the enemy combatants themselves. Will they be transferred? Move into civilian prisons? Freed? Returned to their countries of origin? Until we get a good answer here, simply changing scenery doesn’t do much for me. We don’t even know where all the other secret prisons around the world are—what’ll happen to them, if anything?

    The same goes for the other supposed advances Obama has made in the past couple of days. He cracked down on lobbyists, and then circumvented his own rule for one of his own. He reversed a standard Republican-supported law to prevent our tax money from being used for abortion around the world. He’s pushing for more stimuli even more aggressively than his Republican predecessor.

    Oh, and he froze salaries for top-level executives. We’re being robbed in so many other ways, that this doesn’t do much for me. For these people it’s more about power than it is profit, and through power they are able to profit. Giving them a slight pay reduction is mere grandstanding.

    In short, I have yet to see any substantial “change” from Obama that indicate he’ll be reigning in Bush’s excesses. He’s simply swapping or supporting them with his own. And I’m not sure that’s any better.

  52. Clumpy
    January 24, 2009 at 3:56 pm #

    Still, it’s a matter of Constitutional muster more than an issue of liberty or coercion. The capitalist system comes with its own coercions – that those with talent, opportunity and luck will receive a greater share of wealth, prestige and success. Each system leads to differing distributions of wealth, and we aren’t necessarily stealing by distributing wealth any more than we’d be stealing from those that would become poor by moving from socialism to capitalism.

    Anyway, that’s my logical breakdown of the idea. Still, my lack of support for socialism comes down to a matter of my faith – Ezra Taft Benson made a pretty strong case:

    “Why is socialism incompatible with man’s liberty? Socialism cannot work except through an all-powerful state. The state has to be supreme in everything. When individuals begin to exert their God-given rights, the state has to suppress that freedom. So belief in God must be suppressed, and with that gone freedom of conscience and religion must also go. Those are the first of our liberties mentioned in the Bill of Rights.”

    I’m not sure I follow his logic but I’ll take it for granted that he has a better standpoint for the issue :).

    Likewise, we are compelled to serve our neighbors and siblings worldwide, but when government determines the targets of charity and the amounts given, then takes care of the work themselves, nobody is really serving of their own free will. Thus the vast majority of the populace is using no charity, is disconnected from the process and isn’t being edified by the “service” going on around them. This life is infinitesimally important when compared to the vast eternities, so it’s infinitely more important that people serve than that people’s temporal life (medicine, food, education) is kept in order.

    This, of course, sounds cold and seems logical, but concern for our brothers and sisters won’t allow us to see them ignorant, starving or dying. Thus truly “good” people will serve, even though in the big picture it doesn’t make one iota of difference to the people being served.

  53. Clumpy
    January 24, 2009 at 4:09 pm #

    “But I’m not concerned about Guantanamo. I’m concerned about the people who are held there. From what I have read, Obama has not disclosed his intentions with regards to the enemy combatants themselves. Will they be transferred? Move into civilian prisons? Freed? Returned to their countries of origin? Until we get a good answer here, simply changing scenery doesn’t do much for me. We don’t even know where all the other secret prisons around the world are—what’ll happen to them, if anything?”

    Good point. And does it really take a year to transport a bunch of mattresses and old Korans somewhere else?

    I’d like to see the administration either figure out some charges for people who have been held without habeus corpus or let them go. Still, I’d be concerned for their safety – many of these people are in danger in their home countries and no western nation will take them. Plus I’m sure their opinion of the U.S. can’t have gotten any better during the time of their internment.

    I’ll have to read up on some of the other stuff (enacting transparency in government then finding loopholes for personal use). Still, did Obama freeze any salaries other than those of White House employees? Does the president have the authority to control governmental salaries? At any rate it isn’t intrusion into the private sector.

    I have absolutely no doubt that Obama will unveil a bunch of obnoxious stimulus packages both for businesses and individuals (education, etc.). I’m just trying to get excited about some things that legitimately cheer me up a bit before things settle back down into a string of abuses.

  54. Connor
    January 24, 2009 at 4:10 pm #

    I’m just trying to get excited about some things that legitimately cheer me up a bit before things settle back down into a string of abuses.

    If you come up with anything solid, let me know. :)

  55. Clumpy
    January 24, 2009 at 4:15 pm #

    That post made me smile a little, even as my heart cried a single tear :). You’re right – the only things that have lightened my load a bit have been pullbacks of governmental power. I’m sure the “Change” implied by his platform implies a new Obamureaucracy rather than more wonderful libertarianism.

  56. Smoe
    January 25, 2009 at 1:32 am #

    Connor,
    Thank you for your reply. Its interesting, but I honestly am a litte confused about somethings.

    “Man cannot act apart from any influence, because were that the case, you would only be being acted upon by some predetermined course of action outside of your control.”

    Logically man should be able to act apart from any influence to prevent you from being acted upon by a predetermined course of action outside of your control. Isn’t that what is meant by ‘free’ in the idea of ‘free agency’. To act apart from any influence?

    I also do not comprehend this statement from D&C 93:30
    “30 All truth is independent in that asphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. ”

    Its that ‘act for itself’ which makes it seem like its behaving outside of external influences.

    I kind of get something about what your trying to get at. The concept kind of hints at the law of conditionality in Buddhism. However, how this is stated is a bit clearer for me.

    “‘If this is, that comes to be; from the arising of this, that arises; if this is not, that does not come to be; from the stopping of this, that is stopped’.”

    Majjhima-Nikaaya II.32, trans. I. B. Horner in Middle Length Sayings, Vol. II, Pali Text Society, London 1975, p. 229.

    However, this denies agenthood. Its not ‘free’ but its also not predetermined. Further its not associated with first causes. The law of conditionality is another way of looking at the law of cause and effect, ‘karma’. People inter-be with all aspects of reality, not dividing between things which act and things that are acted upon.

  57. Smoe
    January 25, 2009 at 2:00 am #

    Connor,
    I’m sorry, I said,”Isn’t that what is meant by ‘free’ in the idea of ‘free agency’. To act apart from any influence?” It would be better to say to act, rather than be acted upon(by an influence).

    Thats the difficulty, I don’t see anyone being able to act apart from inanimate things, or other forces. For example pesticides and other toxins in the environment are known to influence ones level of intelligence, reasoning ability, creativity etc. An abscence or abundance of particular nutrients can influence ones behavior. Mind does not exist apart from matter.

  58. Clumpy
    January 25, 2009 at 1:17 pm #

    Smoe, it’s that whole free will debate again. How can decisions make sense except in a context of desires and motivations, some of which we have no control over? We’re very complicated beings and influenced by many factors, both conscious and unconscious. Though free will has no acceptable definition (it isn’t just “random” behavior, after all) I’m inclined to think that we have choices because of the evidence from my own life.

  59. Connor
    January 25, 2009 at 3:05 pm #

    Regarding Barack Obama’s allegedly praiseworthy action of closing Gauntanamo, this article shows that since the action is not comprehensive, it’s likely just for show:

    As President Barack Obama declared with a fanfare his intention to close the controversial Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention camp last week, he made no mention of another growing US-run prison – with more than twice as many inmates and an even murkier legal status.

    More than 600 detainees are held at the US Bagram Theatre Internment Facility – known by campaigners as “the other Guantanamo”. Not only are there no plans to close it, but it is in the process of being expanded to hold 1,100 illegal enemy combatants; prisoners who cannot see lawyers, have no trials and never see any evidence there may be against them.

  60. Carborendum
    January 26, 2009 at 8:28 am #

    Haven’t you heard? Obama is going to tax individual choice.

    This is an effort to end “free” agency. Agency will no longer be free, but a surcharge will be added whenever it is used.

  61. Doug Bayless
    January 26, 2009 at 3:50 pm #

    Time will tell how well — and how many — of Obama’s words translate into good, helpful, and Constitutional actions but I do have to object, Connor, when you claim that some of Obama’s more obvious extra-constitutionalities were

    a mind-blowing exercise in dictatorial arrogance that leaves me with little hope

    Lol. I appreciate that rhetoric like that kicks up the discussion here (which I think tends to be great) but honestly — from my point of view — that inaugural speech was a step *up* in proposed Constitutionality from any delivered in my lifetime. To excoriate Obama so ruthlessly for intimating at continuing some of the same abuses of power that all of our modern presidents have committed seems a bit facetious. There was definitely nothing surprising (and certainly not ‘mind-blowing’) in that.

    I’m incredibly wary of President Obama — but that is how I would have been with a President McCain or even my first choice of Ron Paul. The U.S. President wields indescribable power and has all manner of bad actors trying to influence him or her. I’m floored by how much I disagree with most of Obama’s cabinet and office appointments but mostly because I’m more engaged by his cool speeches and so I suppose it is more jarring as I’m paying attention enough to note the discord between his promises and his actions.

    Nevertheless I’m a big believer that words are not ‘just fluff’ but rather can be ‘mightier than the sword’. Obama *is* good at infusing people with faith and hope — and I don’t buy the argument Obama directs those hopes towards things like socialism and communism any more than past Presidents [I would actually argue less so but I need to post on my own blog to explain] — and I think that is a remarkably good thing on its own.

    But more importantly I’ve been heartened by many of his first actions. That article about ‘Bagram’s Gitmo’ highlights legitimate problems that we’ve been sweeping under the rug, and — appropriately — Obama is on record as acting to close more than just Guantanamo: the separate executive order he issued to close the ‘secret rendition’ prisons on ships and throughout allied Eastern Europe is one example. Best of all is his reversing the Bush/Cheney secrecy laws that were auto-classifying nearly all government business. Obama’s order specifies that not only was this to be reversed but that whenever there is any ambiguity that all agencies are ordered to ‘err on the side of openness’

    We’ll see how things play out, but — so far — I’m left with more hope than with the previous administration (and I didn’t even vote for him lol [ended up going 3rd party])

  62. Carborendum
    January 26, 2009 at 9:06 pm #

    On the subject of choices and free will etc:

    Viktor Frankl’s ideology (which I subscribe to) was

    1) We don’t always have control over that which happens TO us.
    2) We always have control over how we re-ACT to what happens to us.

    It is the exercise of this power in human beings that make us better than the animals. Those who do not exercise this power are no better than animals.

    Most of life — especially in this country — we have so many choices to DO anything we want. It is only under the most dire circumstances that we are left with virtually no way out. But I doubt any of us have been or have known anyone who went through what Frankl went through.

    The freedom to choose can be so limited at times that all we can truly control is our thoughts and feelings. But in the end

    only in their dreams can men be truly free. ’twas always thus, and always thus shall be.

    I believe Connor’s comment was indicating that we can only choose when outside conditions give us a choice. We will always be given choices to exercise our agency. If the external conditions are such that we are never given a choice to make, we don’t really have agency.

    If government mandates money be given “for charitable causes” can we really do so? It ceases to be a choice at that point. All we can choose between is to cheat on our taxes or not. So it is no longer a choice between being charitable or greedy. It becomes a choice between being a slave or an outlaw. Gosh, what a choice!

    Some may argue that it is still in our ability to change our attitudes about the whole thing and feel within ourselves the charitable nature of our taxes going to those in need. Yes, it may be possible. I’ve met a few people who said they do. But when I ask how much they pay in taxes vs how many deductions they took and for what, they become very quiet. I’m sure I’ll continue to run into a few people who say they feel good about it. But it would take a lot for them to convince me that they actually do so.

    It’s human nature. When we’re forced to do a thing, we tend to lose any pleasure we once felt about it. My wife and I both LOVE to cook. But the fact that we HAVE TO cook meals for the whole family every day makes it drudgery.

    This is why socialism doesn’t work. It actually encourages the greed that it is supposed to suppress. And it suppresses the giving spirit it is supposed to encourage.

    When we have extra and we find someone that could really use a hand, we either give money, time, service, or anything we have the ability to do. But when I look at my paystub and see how much is being taken out in taxes, I don’t feel the same feeling of the free giving I do when I do it on my own. I feel like H.I. on Raising Arizona. “Government do take a bite, don’t she?”

    I said I was going to forget the past and see what Obama does starting with his first Presidential stroke of the pen.

    1) He has closed Guantanamo. That was good.
    2) He wants to give money to international abortion groups. That was bad.
    3) He declared a new era of government openness. That was good.
    4) He has asked for a bigger budget to fund special interest groups. That was bad.

    I could say the score is 2 : 2

    But in my eyes those good items are only somewhat good. And the bad are really bad. This is not encouraging.

  63. Smoe
    January 27, 2009 at 9:05 pm #

    Carb,

    I found that so funny! Thank you, its great to keep a sense of humor, even while disussing deep philosophical things.

    “Agency will no longer be free, but a surcharge will be added whenever it is used.”

  64. Smoe
    January 27, 2009 at 9:11 pm #

    Clumpy,
    “I’m inclined to think that we have choices because of the evidence from my own life.”

    I believe we have choices. I just believe that the process of making choices are related to ones knowledge, experience, and previous choices. Also to all other events and choices which everyone else makes. I don’t see this process as being ‘free’. This is linked to all other events, its ‘conditionality’.

  65. Smoe
    January 27, 2009 at 9:37 pm #

    Carb,
    I think people are generally more sophisticated and complex than animals, but not better. In some ways all of our ability to create indicates a weakness on our part. The need for clothes expands our range and makes inclement weather more comfortable, but animals don’t need clothes. Birds can fly across the ocean, but don’t need electronic equipment. From what I understand ants manage their resources better than we do.

    The invention of money is a type of conscious resource management on behalf of humans, except its not the resources itself, so its not quite the same as animal means of managing resources. The psychology it takes on in humans is another different factor. Animals can and do hoard and fight over resources, but as far as I know its always over actual resources, not over something that represents access to resources or services.

    The current economic crisis which is happening around much of the world makes me wonder if there is something seriously wrong with capitalism. Socialism and capitalism are actually both monetary systems. The video ‘Zeitgeist Addendum’ lists some major problems with monetary systems. Is is that can lead to inefficient use of resources. Maximizing profit relies on real or created shortages of resources. The main problem I have with a non-monetary system, is what else is there? There is barter and trade, but I don’t think that is suggested in the video. I think there would have to be a complete new way of looking at everything, which is possible, but there would definately be a very uncomfortable transition to a non-monetary system if it is to be.

  66. Adrien
    January 28, 2009 at 7:07 am #

    Smoe is right. Free will is an illusion – you make your decisions based on your personality, which is molded by your experiences in your environment. Unless you chose to where and to whom you would be born, you have no free will.

  67. vontrapp
    January 28, 2009 at 8:23 am #

    One more time, there is no “Free Agency.” Only Agency. It does not come for free, nor is it free from consequences. In that sense, sure, “Free will” might be an illusion, for free will implies that I can do as I wish, devoid of circumstances, experiences and influence. I would argue however that we DO have agency. That is, we CAN make choices (will anyone seriously deny this?) and we do reap the effects of those choices.

    Now, to connors statement about enticements… If there were no enticements, one way or another, then we really, truly would be just as adrien described. I mere product of our environment and experiences. For what would we choose in the absence of all influence? It would either be deterministic, meaning we would always do the exact same thing every time (predestination or such) _or_ our life’s course would be completely random, randomness not being a choice.

    In reality, we are subject to persuasions and logic and enticements and temptations and divine inspiration. As such we can take in those things, weigh them, and act _on_ them (rather than be acted upon, as in the case of predeterminism or randomness). This is where our agency comes from, this is how I understand the scripture connor quoted.

  68. Carborendum
    January 28, 2009 at 11:43 am #

    Smoe,

    I think people are generally more sophisticated and complex than animals, but not better.

    Thank you for stating the obvious. This is just a semantic argument over the word “better”.

  69. Carborendum
    January 28, 2009 at 11:49 am #

    Adrien,

    If you don’t believe in “free will” what do you believe? That we are just random balls of matter being thrown about the pinball machine of the universe?

    If you believe in “predestination” (per Calvinism) then you believe that God created some men to go to heaven and some men to go to hell. It seems like a pretty benevolent god that creates something just to put it in Hell.

  70. smoe
    January 30, 2009 at 9:40 pm #

    Carb,

    You stated the following:

    “1) We don’t always have control over that which happens TO us.
    2) We always have control over how we re-ACT to what happens to us.

    It is the exercise of this power in human beings that make us better than the animals. Those who do not exercise this power are no better than animals.”

    In what sense did you mean ‘better’? It sounds a little bit arrogant on the side of humanity, and a bit judgemental about animals. I don’t agree that we always have control over how we ‘re-act to what happens to us’.

    If you were tortured by various means, anyone would likely to be affected by it. For instance if you were deprived of sleep, you would be much more susceptible to suggestion, and you probably might be more apt to reveal information that you normally would not. Irrational behavior probably would also be more present, and you might do things you normally would not.

  71. smoe
    January 30, 2009 at 9:46 pm #

    Adrien, Carb, Von trap,

    I believe that the idea of ‘conditionality’ is an attempt to go the ‘middle way’. Such that questions of ‘free-will’ or ‘predetermination’ are not part of the equation for determining what is real, and what is not. This is how I understand it.

    From what I understand Buddha also avoided questions relating to if there was a supreme being or not, or questions about the origin of the universe. Belief and disbelief are sort of the same thing when viewed in this way.

  72. Carborendum
    January 30, 2009 at 10:30 pm #

    It sounds a little bit arrogant on the side of humanity, and a bit judgemental about animals.

    Oh! How disgraced and humiliated I am! I’ve been found out! I’m PREJUDICED against ANIMALS!!!

    Yes, it’s true. If a non-human animal asked me for sex, I would say “no” purely on the grounds that she was not human.

    And if a pig ran for president, I wouldn’t take his candidacy seriously. Too late.

    If a flea wanted to be a rocket scientist, I wouldn’t want to go through the effort of giving him a written exam.

    OH THE SHAME OF IT ALL!!!

    How can I ever regain my station in life??? What will my family think?

    But seriously,

    It is interesting that you bring up the Buddha and sleep deprivation in the same post.

    I believe “enlightenment” is an older translation that has blurred through semantic shift to where it does not mean what it means to us today. I would translate it as “awareness”.

    It is because we are more “aware” than animals that we are “better”. Animals senses tend to be keener than man’s. Thus it may seem that they are more aware than humans. But that is only part of the truth.

    Sleep deprivation works as a method of torture by stripping an individual of his awareness. Thus he becomes more animalistic. He reacts and has only his physical senses. No logic, reasoning, thought, understanding of time and space. He knows only action – reaction.

    An aware individual can see cause and effect. He can reason and intuit future events that are not always obvious from our senses. He can intercede between action and reaction with the blade of awareness and make A CHOICE.

    If we lose our awareness due to choice, carelessness, distraction, or whatever — we will often meet action with reaction rather than choice.

    The reason Sun Tzu’s writings were so profound and revolutionary was that kings and generals at the time didn’t think about cause and effect in warfare. They thought they were better, so they went to war and expected to win. They just couldn’t figure out why they lost sometimes.

    Today, anyone who understands basic principles of warfare read Sun Tzu and say,”Well, duhhh”. That is because mankind has advanced somewhat since his day. We do understand a lot more about cause and effect. We are trained to be more aware of time and space and our place in it.

    Does that answer your question?

    Honestly! Did anyone else have a problem with my simple statement that man is “better” than animals?

  73. Rick
    January 30, 2009 at 10:47 pm #

    Carborendum,

    I have no problem with your statement about animals. I don’t think about animals that much, even when I eat them.

  74. Carborendum
    January 30, 2009 at 10:57 pm #

    LOL!

    That reminds me of what some friends said to justify working at In-n-Out Burger:

    If God didn’t want us to eat animals, why’d he make ’em out of meat?

  75. Clumpy
    January 31, 2009 at 12:07 am #

    “I believe that the idea of ‘conditionality’ is an attempt to go the ‘middle way’. Such that questions of ‘free-will’ or ‘predetermination’ are not part of the equation for determining what is real, and what is not. This is how I understand it.”

    I’m not sure what your viewpoint is based on your statements, though I’m uncomfortable with any strong viewpoint on free will, mainly because we know so little about our decision-making process, but also because no suitable definition for “free will” has ever been given. None of the defenses made in favor of an untethered decision-making apparatus are convincing, yet the feeling (some might say “illusion”) that I am in charge of myself and can make choices is so complete that I believe in it.

    I just think that our debate is too limited, and we’re missing an important part of the equation. Choices can be influenced by our inborn personality and desires, experiences and current chemical state and nothing else, yet be significant and very real.

  76. Carborendum
    February 1, 2009 at 10:38 am #

    Clump,

    What is the definition of “untethered decision-making”? EVERYTHING has conditions. This is why I asked Adrien before about the “pinball” or predestination. Too bad he didn’t respond.

    Externalities are of course an element in decision making. Any real decision is something that changes the world in some way. Without a world to change, what exactly are we deciding? If there is no criminal to punish how can the decision of punishing a criminal even be invoked? If we don’t have candidates to elect, we can’t vote.

    They also depend on ability (or belief in ability). I’d love to fly (like Superman, not Lindberg). But that is not a decision I can make. I have certain limitations. (Well, Carb, I’m glad you can admit that).

    All decisions are not only EFFECTED by circumstances, but DEPENDENT on them. The effectiveness of those decisions is then dependent on the implementation as well as the ABILITY to implement said decision. But the actual making of the decision is who we are.

    Since you are LDS, you can see deeper than just “inborn personality and desires, experiences and current chemical state”. You know that we have a spirit born from that intelligence that has always existed. This is the basis of all individuality, shaped by whatever forces throughout our existence. Understand the nature of those intelligences, and you will understand Agency. So, yes, you are right. Our debate is very limited.

  77. Clumpy
    February 2, 2009 at 1:13 pm #

    @Carborendum

    Agreed. My theology brings in the added problem of determining the role of the soul in decision-making. I see dualism as an impossible idea yet can’t come up with a suitable replacement philosophy, which is another reason I prefer to withhold judgment.

    My reasoning is as follows: some people believe that the mind’s subconscious processes “fool” me into thinking that I make decisions. Yet without some sort of ability to make decisions, who is the “me” to fool? Automatons would have no need of sophisticated consciousness or illusive decision-making. My understanding of sociology and psychology leads me to believe that people often make the same sorts of decisions in the same situations, without necessarily knowing why they do so. But the illusion of decision-making is so great and so complete that I could sooner discount gravity and time (also possible illusions).

  78. Adrien
    February 2, 2009 at 2:30 pm #

    Sorry Carb,

    I didn’t see the question directed at me.

    I have to admit that I don’t have an answer to your question as far as what I believe.

    My point about free will only had to do with the fact that, as evidenced on Connor’s blog here, we can always find something on which to disagree. Though most of the time, we would like to believe that we disagree because the other person has flawed logic. I tend to think that we disagree because we disagree on the validity of the premises on which we base our arguments.

    The more I think about your question, the more I start to realize that it is a confusing question. To believe in free will is to believe that there is no predestination and that we are all at the mercy of our whim – that we choose to do what we want to do necessarily without logic. If we use logic to make decisions, then our decisions are based on the premises that we hold true. These premises are taught to us in my opinion.

    An example would be the value one places on law. Some people follow the law to the letter. . . others less so. I think these decisions are based on different premises on which each individual weighs the consequences.

    To your comment, not believing in free will is to believe in predestination and this doesn’t have to have anything to do with God.

  79. Carborendum
    February 3, 2009 at 7:19 am #

    Adrien,

    My question again (if you look above) referred specifically to Calvinistic “predestination”. That has everything to do with God.

    I’m also open to hearing what other brand of predestination you would be referring to.

  80. Adrien
    February 3, 2009 at 7:23 am #

    Cause and Effect

  81. RMArtin
    April 12, 2009 at 2:46 pm #

    Interesting blog but I must say that you make huge jumps to “connect the dots” that neatly glosses over the actual connections. You said that foreign aid goes against the constitution as it does not protect America from her enemies. Quite the contrary. Offereing the hand of friendship and helping others serves to protect America as countries, states and cultural groups see America as a friend and not an enemy. Although 9/11 was not America’s fault would it have happened if all of the money spent on wars and confilcts and stealing oil from islamic states had been spent on building communities and proving healthcare etc. in such nations?

    I was also confused by your statement that foreign aid=socialism. Is it really so simple? Nice and easy to conventiently gloss over complicated ideas but it doesn’t make it true.

    Oh and “ergo”.. “therefore” sounds better and seems less pretentious : D

  82. Connor
    April 12, 2009 at 3:38 pm #

    Point #2 in my comment was merely a commentary on #1; the main point was the third, where I stated that foreign aid is not authorized in the Constitution. I don’t really care if it “offers the hand of friendship” (so do pen pals), nor is that a valid basis for proper law.

    I was also confused by your statement that foreign aid=socialism. Is it really so simple? Nice and easy to conventiently gloss over complicated ideas but it doesn’t make it true.

    Socialism is quite simple to define: the mandatory taxation of one group of people to financially support another. Thus, foreign aid (through government) is a type of socialism. If you disagree, then say why; saying simplicity doesn’t make it true doesn’t make it false.

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