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Friday, May 16, 2014

Thought For Today

One of the elephants in the room today is the definition of "the right thing to do."

Obama himself has stated on many occasions: "It's the right thing to do!"

Constitutionality and any resulting burden of debt (taxation) don't matter if something is "the right thing to do."

On May 13, 2014, Obama again stated, "It's the right thing to do" — this time regarding immigration policy. Never mind the following:
...[A]report on Monday [May 12, 2014] showed that the Obama administration in 2013 released tens of thousands of criminals awaiting possible deportation, including some accused of murder, sexual assault, arson and kidnapping. A total of 36,007 illegal immigrants who committed nearly 88,000 crimes combined were freed last year while being processed for deportation, according to the report from the Center of Immigration Studies.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency gathered the statistics in response to a congressional inquiry. Besides violent criminals, ICE released 16,000 illegal immigrants convicted of driving under the influence. The report also showed that ICE released nearly 2,700 illegal immigrants convicted of assault, 1,300 convicted for domestic violence, and nearly 1,300 convicted for battery....
Let's return now to the first link in this blog post. The title of the article is Obama: (Insert Issue Here) ‘It’s the Right Thing to Do’.

What is the definition of "the right thing to do"? What if that definition contradicts the parameters of the rule of civil law established by our Constitution or the rights guaranteed by our Constitution? This blog post mentions the Obama administration, but could just as easily refer to earlier administrations.

We often speak of the dangers of moral relativism.

Perhaps we should also be examining the inconsistencies and dangers of political relativism.

30 comments:

  1. I suppose when they round us up and put us in the camps he will simply say it was the right thing to do. This law thing is such a annoyance.

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    1. Remember after the Nazi's were defeated, how they would tell their prosecutors, "Bud I vuss choost followingk AWDERS."

      The Allies didn't hesitate to punish Nazis for NOT "doing the right thing," even though the Nazi's behaved in strict obedience to the Law of THEIR Land at the time.

      The Allies took the position that German citizens of the Third reich SHOULD have DEFIED the Law and allowed themselves to be IMPRISONED, TORTURED and KILLED rather than obey immoral and inhumane "Laws."

      I never tire of quoting the Beadle in Oliver Twist,"If that be the Law, sir, then the Law is a' ASS."

      Since most of our legislators -- and far too many of our presidents -- happen to be jackasses, I must say the same about the legislation they have produced.

      I suggest everyone read Ralph Waldo Emerson on Civil Disobedience, if not already familar with it.

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    2. FT,
      I never tire of quoting the Beadle in Oliver Twist,"If that be the Law, sir, then the Law is a' ASS."

      I would agree with you about certain laws. Need I cite them? No.

      But other laws are protecting my rights instead of promoting abuse or oppression. There are indeed good and proper laws, too. Simple example: stop on red, go on green.

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  2. Only two beings in existence can claim to know, absolutely, what is "the right thing to do." One is God. The other is a man who considers himself god.

    The trouble is, is that morality is a matter of religion and always has been. Rule of Law may predate it, but true "right and wrong" have always been tied to a religion (and frankly, Judaism and Christianity seem to be the only ones with a full moral code). Since in the (roughly) 1800's we rejected Judo-Christian morality, we are left with moral relativism and it's close cousin nihilism (proper and social definitions).

    Mr. Obama seems to think he knows what the "right thing to do is," it's whatever he thinks is correct. Wrong, one, narcissistic, two, worrying, three. All men seek truth and what is right- few have the audacity to claim to know absolutely what it is, especially to tell other people what it is. Then again, in this moral-less society, I cannot even be surprised. In a vacuum, anything that can fill it will fill it, and Obama's massive ego fits in quite nicely.

    -Wildstar

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    1. You my be right, Wildstar, but then you should consider the possibility that you may be wrong too -- for all the reasons I've given in three posts, thus far. After all, who or what has given you the authority to sit in judgment on President Obama? [I don't like what he's doing either, but that's beside the point.]

      Consider too for whatever it may be worth that Jeb Bush has just come out unequivocally in favor of Amnesty.

      When evidence such as that presented by AOW today blares at us, we need to do whatever we can to determine what PERCENTAGE of the ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT population qualifies as a genuine threat to society?

      The 14th Amendment is an obvious cause for concern. It needs either to be revoked or seriously modified, because it is being abused by foreigners from all over the world -- not just "Chicanos." My view is that granting automatic citizenship to any infant who happens to wriggle free from its mother's womb on OUR shores, whether by accident or design, is PREPOSTEROUS. We could begin reform by plugging up THAT loophole right away. I'm sure it could be done with a stroke or two of the presidential pen. That pen is a two-edged sword to be sure, because its value is determined entirely by the character of person who wields it, but it DOES have the weight of legal authority behind it,

      God is TRUTH -- among other essential elements. Pilate asked "What is Truth?"

      Legalistic thinking, which is invariably shallow and simplistic, most often does a tremendous disservice to Truth.

      Do read The Merchant of Venice, and pay very close attention to Portia's famous speech, which I quoted above. It presents one of the finest, most enlightened views on this thorniest of subjects ever recorded.

      'Twas no accident that the best aspects of Western Civilization were built on teaching children to study The Bible AND the works of Will Shakespeare after the invention of moveable type when literacy became increasingly widespread.

      It disturbs me that you appear either to reject or mischaracterize the great advances brought about by The Enlightenment. The tyranny of Mediaeval Theocracy was no better than any other form of tyranny including the dirty deeds of Oliver Cromwell, Robespierre, Abraham Lincoln, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, Adolf Hitler, FDR, Mao Tse Dong, Castro, et al. At root all of that is the SAME violation of our natural, God-given rights -- rights that were not properly recognized or codified until The Enlightenment.

      "A mond is a terrible thing to waste."

      Please don't waste yours blanket acceptance of the Dictates of Dogma. God infused us with Intelligence and Curiosity, because He meant for us to USE them. If we fail think things out for ourselves, we relegate ourselves to the dismal status or mindless automata -- or marionettes whose every move and gesture is made by forces outside themselves.

      Believe me you don't want to let that happen to you. You are much too young to be set in your ways.

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    2. FT,
      Although I cited Obama's recent pronouncement about immigration, my concerns about that mantra are not limited to applying it to immigration. See this -- a comment that appears later in this thread.

      I think that Obama believes that it is the right thing to do to redistribute wealth -- not only here in the United States but also globally. If I'm correct in this assessment, the mantra of "It's the right thing to do!" has served to prime Americans to accept what they would never have accepted a few short years ago.

      Yes, it is moral to help those less fortunate than we. The problem comes with COERCION -- coercion on the part of the State.

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    3. Wildstar,
      Mr. Obama seems to think he knows what the "right thing to do is," it's whatever he thinks is correct.

      Exactly!

      In the words of Shakespeare (Hamlet: "Aye, there's the rub."

      The mantra "It's the right thing to do!" is very close to "Every man will do what is right in his own eyes." Because of mankind's inherent desire for power over others, we have the rule of civil law to curb the damage. Or we used to have the rule of civil law. I'm not so sure that we do now.

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    4. FT typed in: the dirty deeds of ... Abraham Lincoln

      I wonder if we'll see some discussion here of that matter. I'd like to see such a discussion.

      I, for one, am not comfortable with putting any man -- especially any political leader -- up on a pedestal. Respect is one thing; cult-like worship is another. I see that cult-like adoration being given to several political leaders -- past and present. Heroes have feet of clay, too, IMO.

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    5. FT- Judgement? If I were judging him I would go through his long list of faults. All I said was that his statement of knowing what is right/wrong is inherently narcissistic. Given the list of times he has said it I think calling him a narcissist is less judging and more stating fact...

      Heh. Actually argued that in debate- the anchor baby clause is obnoxious and needs updating at the very least. Maybe amending it that one parent much be a legalized citizen at very least?

      I know Merchant of Venice quite well, it is my favorite of Shakespeare's works. Porta's speech of mercy has always been my favorite (and if I memorize anything I will memorize that).

      FT, I am a fundamentalist raised by fundamentalist in one of the most dogmatic denominations left- Presbyterian. I have little respect for the "Enlightenment" for that very reason. That time was the one that spat on, and first coined the term "fundamentalist." Whatever good they may have done, they started the slide towards moral relativism, nihilism, and human judgement. They sowed the seeds for what became the theories that truth is relative, everything only exists in one's mind and ultimately that man is god. To me, those harms are much worse than any "helps." Besides- Medieval Insight. There is a reason that's my blog's name.

      I am not a marionette, I am one of the most obnoxious arguers any of my friends know- or teachers. But I am dogmatic by nature and stubborn to boot. If I accept something as correct, I will argue for it till someone gives me evidence to the contrary. Though, getting me to believe you is no easy feat... as all my teachers know all too well

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    6. Wildstar,
      I, too, was reared in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. As a result, I know the flaws of the Enlightenment.

      But I also know the good that certain aspects of the Enlightenment accomplished. It is for a good reason that many of our nation's Founders had such respect for the Enlightenment. Indeed, the Age of Enlightenment was a primary influence upon our Declaration of Independence and our Bill of Rights.

      Wikipedia is a good place to start when considering the merits and flaws of The Age of Enlightenment. Much of the music that you and I cherish might not have been composed if not for the Enlightenment.

      Do I believe in absolutes? Yes. However, life is filled with gray situations.

      Furthermore, I am dogmatic. But I have learned that being so in certain situations does not accomplish any persuasive purpose.

      As for being an obnoxious arguer, you certainly can be. But don't let that trait -- or your stubbornness -- blind you to the importance of certain facts that may not fit into your belief system.

      You mentioned the slide. In my view, many of the leaders of the Enlightenment would be horrified at what the world has now become.

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    7. To illustrate some of what I mentioned above...

      Intellectuals associated with the Enlightenment, and note the mention of Adam Smith and James Madison.

      Social and cultural implications in music

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  3. "It's far better that criminals should go free - even if they continue wreaking havoc -- than that even ONE innocent person be deprived of his liberty, incarcerated, ill treated and possibly executed."

    ~ FreeThinke

    PS: Please feel free to quote me.

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  4. “The quality of mercy is not strained.
    It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
    Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
    It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
    'Tis mightiest in the mightiest. It becomes
    The thronèd monarch better than his crown.
    His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
    The attribute to awe and majesty
    Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings,


    But mercy is above this sceptered sway.
    It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings.


    It is an attribute to God himself.
    And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
    When mercy seasons justice.
    Therefore, Jew,
    Though justice be thy plea, consider this:


    That in the course of justice none of us
    Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy,
    And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
    The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
    To mitigate the justice of thy plea,

    Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
    Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.”


    ~ Portia, The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare


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    1. "Without mercy, man is like a beast. Men are created equal, everyone is entitled to happiness."

      --- Kenji Mizoguchi
      Sansho the Bailiff

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  5. FT,
    Actually, I'm quite sympathetic toward the plight of immigrants here in our country. However, as one permanently injured in a car accident caused by an immigrant under deportation orders, I have zero sympathy for immigrants who are criminals. The same goes for other criminals -- depending on the crime and the circumstances of the crime, of course.

    One of my former school parents -- she had three children, and one was born physically disabled -- was killed in a car accident caused by an illegal immigrant with multiple DUI offenses. He had been released time and time again. No assets, no financial amends to the victim's family.

    Mercy is an important quality, but so is justice. Striking the balance is what is missing in much of the conversation today.

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  6. What prompted me to write and publish this blog post really wasn't the recent story about illegal and criminal immigrants having been released, but rather some inconsistencies that I've noticed in political discussions.

    For example, most who are GOP or lean GOP agree that Abraham Lincoln was justified in suspending habeas corpus, but yet condemn any Democratic Party President who has done so (FDR's internment camps, for example).

    Also see this: ...The National Defense Authorization Act [4] signed by President Obama on the 31st December 2011 authorises the indefinite detention, without trial or indictement, of any US citizens designated as enemies by the executive. The individuals concerned are not only those who have been captured on the field of battle, but also those who have never left the United States or participated in any military action. The law concerns any person designated by the administration as “a member of Al-Qaeda or the Taliban, and who takes part in hostile action against the United States”, but also anyone who “substantially supports these organisations”. This formula enables an extensive and flexible use of the law. For example, it would enable the government to lash out at any civil defence organisations who seek to protect the constitutional rights of US citizens who have been designated by the executive as enemies of the USA....

    It has also recently come to my attention that the EPA was established in 1990 by a GOP President (Richard Nixon). Yet, it is mostly Republicans who are complaining right now about the extension of the powers of the EPA -- as if a Democratic Party President established the EPA.

    I could go on with some other examples, but I think that readers of this thread will now understand what prompted me to write this blog post. I hope that the clarification contained in this comment will prompt a discussion.

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  7. I hate it when Obama or his minions say "it's the right thing to do..." because you KNOW it will be the opposite. It is as if they can say anything, whether true or not, whether logical or not, and stick that phrase at the end and it makes it OK.

    Debbie
    Right Truth
    http://www.righttruth.typepad.com

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  8. FT typed in:

    I suggest everyone read Ralph Waldo Emerson on Civil Disobedience, if not already familar with it.

    Emerson's writings were favorites of those participating in various movements during the 1960's -- including the hippie movement.

    According to that same link: "...Today, Thoreau's words are quoted with feeling by liberals, socialists, anarchists, libertarians, and conservatives alike."

    The above illustrates what I mean about political relativism.

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    1. And what do you think Emerson would have thought of the Hippies had been around to witness their antics?;-)

      The Law of Unintended Consequences is ever at work mucking up all our neat little theories of right and wrong.

      Whenever I think of the hideous deeds done in purported "service" to Jesus Christ, I do not ever think of blaming Jesus, Himself, for the pseudo-righteous foul play done in His name. I think of what He said in agony as He hung on the Cross:

      "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

      On the most idealistic level it would be better to suffer torture and gruesome death than to give in to the impulse to "get even," and seek retribution for the harm done to oneself by others.

      Do I always adhere to that high a standard? Of course not, I'm no better than anyone else, but at least I aspire toward the idea; of trying to be Christ-like when push comes to shove, and I may possibly be a tad more generous than the average bloke -- I certainly try.

      The element of REVENGE is the fatal flaw in the Marxian outlook. Getting even is the fatal flaw in Progressivism. It is the fatal flaw in the Jews and their fervid desire to see every surviving Nazi caught and punished, and their fierce determination to possess that accursed fragment of land -- no matter WHAT it costs THEM or the REST of the world.

      The eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth outlook is BARBARIC. Those who adhere to it are not advanced. Justice and Vengeance are NOT synonymous.

      Until we learn that, Civilizations will continue to falter and die by the wayside.

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    2. FT,
      Justice and Vengeance are NOT synonymous.

      Agreed -- although the two may intersect at times.

      Justice includes the element of recompense, and the concept of recompense is supported by numerous passages in both the Old and New Testaments.

      People should step up and pay the recompense; when they do not, the justice system steps in.

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  9. The right thing to do must depend on whom the doing of it benefits, who is penalizes, and under what set of circumstances the deed was done. For example, we can say that the Patriot Act was expedient, but it was not the right thing to do IF you have taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States (and all of its amendments). The Patriot Act is akin to running home scared and hiding under the bed. We would not need such a thing as this Patriot Act if the federal government had been doing its job all along. And by the way, the term Patriot Act is an oxymoron. There is nothing patriotic about it. Nothing.

    As to additional points made here, we sit in judgment over people all the time. We must judge our elected officials if we ever hope to screen out the duds and select those who hold our national interests at the very top of their concerns. It is my duty to criticize my government, including its every official, when I think criticism is deserved. I do this quite frequently. What gives me that authority is my status as a citizen of the United States. If we wish to preserve the nation, we must question the decisions (and motivations) of elected and appointed officials.

    What of former-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who admits in his book that he felt uncomfortable doing the biding of Obama and the White House handlers? He admits that he lacks integrity; he placed his lucrative salary and prestige over that of his country’s best interests. What right have we as citizens NOT to criticize such people, or question them? This is only true if we have become a nation of sheep.

    With all of that said, President Obama, in “doing” the right thing according to his own point of view, is something that the voters ought to think about before electing him to office. To Obama’s credit, he never lied to the American people about what he believes. He is a long-time adherent to Marxist principles and yet the American voter, in their infinite wisdom, elected him anyway. Therefore, they may squawk about Obama’s “doing” the right thing, but it is their fault, not his.

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    1. Sam,
      At the time that the Patriot Act was first enacted, almost everybody was on board with the idea. Fear of further terrorist acts, of course, was the reason for the concurrence.

      As time has passed, we see that the Patriot Act easily serves as a Trojan Horse.

      Obama is "doing the right thing" according to the ideology in which he believes. Simple.

      Wait.

      When people hear the words "the right thing to do," people jump on board. Why? Because different people interpret "the right thing" differently. The American electorate seem to have forgotten that we have a Constitution with strict parameters because, now, so many people view those parameters as obstacles to "the right thing to do."

      How close are we to a form of anarchy?

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    1. Of course; this is much like the goobers in Hollywood all getting together and deciding which of them deserves recognition for pretending to be someone else. In effect, the recognition means nothing at all, particularly when (a) the individual being recognized is a fraud and a deceiver, and (b) those who nominate him are flimflammers and liars. Apparently, we have transformed ourselves into a society that cherishes self-aggrandizing schmucks over those who actually serve their Nation.

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  11. Shakespeare's words from The Merchant of Venice, spoken by Portia to Shylock at the trial of Antonio are as close as any published utterances in the language to evoking the Christ-Ideal. In my understanding of Ultimate Good they trump all other considerations on the board.

    The less we think of ourselves and what we think others "owe" to us, and the more we think of what it must be like to live the lives of those who trouble us, the better off, and the happier we will be.

    If life becomes nothing more than a matter of giving and receiving tit for tat, we might as well be dead.

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    1. FT,
      Antonio was a consummate fool to have struck that bargain -- a fool on several levels. You know the play, I'm sure, so I don't have to list some of those ways.

      Let us also remember that The Merchant of Venice is a Shakespearean comedy and not a Shakespearean comedy. All turned out right in the end. If Shylock had been more reasonable, he would have gotten back the money that he loaned to Antonio, whose ships -- literally -- did come in.

      One of the important lessons of the play may well pertain to the meaning of justice -- the real meaning of justice. Cruel and unusual punishment, and all that. The play also speaks to the futility of feuds.

      You mentioned Ultimate Good -- capitalized and referring to God, of course. But if I use lower case, ultimate good, then we have the statement that debts should be met commensurate with the nature of the debts. Thus, Antonio should have been required to compensate Shylock with a lien or some such -- not with surrendering "a pound of flesh." Even if Antonio had agreed to surrendering a pound of flesh.

      We also see in the play how wise woman is. :^)

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    2. Erratum!

      This sentence -- "Let us also remember that The Merchant of Venice is a Shakespearean comedy and not a Shakespearean comedy" -- should read as follows: Let us also remember that The Merchant of Venice is a Shakespearean comedy and not a Shakespearean TRAGEDY.

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    3. I do love The Merchant of Venice! So much foolishness! And on the part of the highest primates, too.

      What drives people to such foolishness? The play makes that clear, and we all need to look into the mirror -- before our foolishness leads to tragedy.

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