Sunday, August 3, 2008

Character and Candidates

John Edwards is often touted as a brilliant trial lawyer. Hillary Clinton has been called the smartest woman in the world. I often hear Obama supporters touting his Harvard education and high level of intelligence as one of the main reasons for their support. While it is true that education and intelligence are desirable qualities, they only play a minor role in my voting decision. Intelligence is not, in and of itself, a virtue. Intelligence, knowledge, and education can be used for either good or evil. While education, knowledge, and intelligence can help a good man make more informed decisions, they can also be used by an evil man to carry out diabolical plans. What is most important to me is the character of a presidential candidate. Character is what separates good men from bad men, bad men from evil men, corrupt men from honest men, loyal men from traitorous men, selfless men from selfish men, faithful men from philanderers, humble men from conceited "show-offs", modesty from vanity, and ethical men from scoundrels.

Today's society places much emphasis on improving our bodies and our minds. Most people admire people of great intelligence, beauty, strength, and coordination. For the purpose of "full disclosure", I am compelled to admit that I have none of these characteristics, so I may be suffering from a case of "sour grapes". However, I believe that these physical and mental assets are nice, but in my mind, they are trivial when compared with good character. I do not admire talented singers, dancers, actors, athletes, Nobel laureates, engineers, doctors, scientists, philosophers, and intellectuals for those accomplishments in and of themselves. However, I am very impressed with a humble man who knows right from wrong and strives to improve his character and instill good character in his children. To do so without expecting reward, popularity, or recognition, shows the kind of character and humility that I greatly admire. Humility is a character asset. Our character is the essence of who we are. Character is a window into our soul. If you believe in an eternal soul like I do, our character, the essence of our soul, is the only thing that we will take with us when our spirit leaves this world upon our death. In the grand scheme of things, there is nothing more important than character.

Last week I read about an elite government microbiologist, Bruce E. Ivins, who committed suicide after an investigation implicated him in the 2001 anthrax terror attacks. Ivins apparently mailed anthrax laced envelopes, which threatened US senators and dozens of other innocent people with that deadly disease. Ivins received undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a doctorate in microbiology, from the University of Cincinnati. Ivins was a highly educated and intelligent scientist, but this did not stop him from carrying out an evil plan that led to the death of 5 people. It is believed that Ivins' altruistic motive for this horrific crime was to aid in the development of a vaccine against anthrax. Often diabolical crimes are carried out with an "ends justifies the means" altruistic motive. Ivins suffered from a defect in character that led him to perpetrate this horrific act, not a lack of education or intelligence.

In 1975 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad , the president of Iran, took his entrance exams placing 132nd out of 400,000 at Iran University of Science and Technology. He earned an undergraduate degree in civil engineering and returned for his masters and earned a doctorate in traffic and transport engineering and planning. Despite these intellectual accomplishments, Ahmadinejad denies the Jewish holocaust in Germany, calls for the destruction of Israel, and seeks world domination through Islamic Jihad, in which he intends to kill or convert all non-Muslims. Ahmadinejad has twisted altruistic motives because he believes that this scenario will bring about everlasting world peace. Again, this "ends justifies the means" scenario is not compatible with our American cultural values based on Judeo-Christian ethics.

The Christian minister and civil rights leader, Reverend Martin Luther King, said: "Judge not by the color of one's skin, but by the content of one's character". Reverend King did not ask us us to judge people by their education, intelligence, looks, physical fitness, or other physical or mental characteristics. King directed us to judge people by the content of their character. Reverend King acknowledged the importance of judging of one's character.

These days, "judgment" seems to be a dirty word. We are told not to be judgmental, however, good judgment is essential to our health, happiness, prosperity, and safety. We all must use good judgment when choosing our friends, our spouse, our doctor, our pastor, our associates, and our president. We must use good judgment when purchasing a house, car, and investments to ensure that we do not get swindled. We rely on judgment to determine if we are safe and make the appropriate corrections to minimize our risks. Often we rely on generalizations and stereotypes to steer us away from danger or trouble. Generalizations and stereotypes are often true and a valuable tool in making judgments that we make every day. For example, we may not walk through a ghetto alone at three A.M. We may not purchase a major investment from a shabbily dressed person. We teach our children not to talk to strangers. We may not seek marriage counseling from a divorced counselor. We may not ask a convicted felon to "house sit" for us. We may not choose to date a known drug addict or alcoholic. We may not hire a known prostitute as our babysitter. In most cases, judging the character of the people that we deal with is more important than judging their intelligence and/or education. We all constantly make judgments based on people's personal appearance, past behavior, family background, criminal record, and other generalizations and stereotypes. Generalizations and stereotypes are often true because past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior and family background and associations has a great deal to do with our character.

Character assets, sometimes called spiritual principles, that I admire include: humility, self discipline, love, forgiveness, patience, faith in God, faithfulness to family, loyalty to country, friends, and associates, self-sacrifice, selflessness, honesty, and integrity. These spiritual principles are taken from the Judeo-Christian values that our American culture was founded upon. These are the principles that inspired our Declaration of Independence that is based on our self evident, inalienable rights granted to us by God, not government. These are the same principles that inspired civil rights leaders in the '60's to end segregation and pressure the government to pass civil rights legislation. These are the traits that I look for in friends, associates, and presidential candidates. Character is usually instilled in children by their parents, family, teachers, and spiritual leaders. Children who are born and raised by a loving mother and father and who have a strong faith in a loving God, are more likely to be instilled with good character.

Although Barack Obama is highly educated and intelligent, I believe that he lacks good values, character, and good judgment. Barack Obama is the product of an alcoholic polygamist father who abandoned his family when Barack was only two years old. Barack's mother left him to chase her dreams, traveling the world while Barack attended high school, leaving him with only his grandmother to look after him. Of course it is only a stereotype and generalization but children who are abandoned by their parents often have resentments which lead to lifelong psychological and spiritual problems. Knowing a person's family and upbringing is often helpful in judging that person's character. Obama's parents were both college educated. His mother was considered an intellectual and traveled the world as an anthropologist. His father left the family to study at Harvard and later on went back to Kenya where he died in an auto accident, when he was driving drunk. Both parents were highly educated, however, they both put their ambitions and pleasures ahead of their child. Although Barack Obama himself is highly intelligent and educated, did his spiritually vacuous parents leave him with a character deficit?

Also, Obama chose to join the Trinity Church in Chicago which is based on radical "Black Liberation Theology" . Black liberation theology is based on Marxism and Black Theology cannot accept a view of God which does not represent God as being for oppressed blacks and thus against white oppressors. Obama was married in Trinity Church by Reverend Wright. He had his children baptized at Trinity and has attended Trinity with his wife and young children for sixteen years. Obama has called Reverend Wright of Trinity Church his friend and mentor. Reverend Wright is a highly educated man with two masters degrees and a doctorate degree. How can it be that Reverend Wright preaches that the US government purposely infected black Americans with the AIDS virus, that the US government plays a role in illicit drug use in the black ghettos, that the US is responsible for the 9/11 terror attack, and he preaches the words "God Damn America" from his pulpit at Trinity Church of Chicago? Could it be that this highly educated spiritual leader is himself suffering from moral and spiritual deficit?

Obama donated $25,000 to Trinity Church prior to his bid for the presidency. I think that Obama used Trinity Church and Reverend Wright to make political connections to further his political career. Obama has recently disowned Trinity Church and the Reverend Jeremiah Wright after Wright's racist and Anti-American statements from the pulpit became widely publicized. I think that Obama's longstanding relationship with Trinity Church and Reverend Wright reflects on his character and judgment. Obama's sudden disowning of his friend and mentor, Reverend Wright, who he had a twenty year relationship with, speaks for his lack of loyalty.

Another negative association of Barack Obama is the admitted domestic terrorist Bill Ayres. Bill Ayres is an anti-American radical who has admitted to bombing police stations and government offices. There were no casualties, only property damage in those attacks. He and his wife performed these terrorist acts as members of a radical group called the Weather Underground during the '60's and '70's as protests against the Vietnam War. They avoided conviction because their case was dismissed on the technicality of an improper search and the evidence was not allowed in court. As recently as 2001, Ayres has been recorded as saying that he had no remorse for his role in the bombings in the '60s' and 70's, he only regrets that he did not do more, because they were ineffective. Obama has recently admitted to being friendly with Bill Ayres. He said that their children went to school and played together. They spoke at several panels together. Also, William Ayres held fundraisers for Obama that helped launch his political career and Obama has been a guest in the Ayres' home. Ayers is currently a Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Education. Although Ayres is currently a respected professor at a prestigious Chicago university, clearly Bill Ayres is a man of high intelligence but low on character. Obama's association with him gives us a window into Obama's character.

Another shady associate of Obama is convicted racketeer Tony Rezko. Rezko has been recently convicted of giving cash and campaign contributions to several Illinois politicians in exchange for lucrative contracts for low income housing projects. Rezko contributed a quarter million dollars to Obama's political campaigns. Obama has since donated some of that money to charity, after Rezko was indicted. Rezko was also involved a in a real estate deal with Obama. Obama bought land adjacent to his newly purchased home from Rezko's wife, at three hundred thousand dollars below market value. Obama did nothing illegal, but he had to have known that Rezko would expect political favors in the future in exchange for the land deal and campaign contributions. This is exactly what Rezko got convicted of, getting lucrative housing contracts from politicians that he helped install in office with contributions, bribes, money laundering, and racketeering. Obama was selling his political soul to the devil by accepting contributions and favors from Tony Rezko. This too speaks to Obama's character and judgment.

In today's day and age, much value is placed on popularity, good looks, youth, education, wealth, diversity, and physical and mental talents. Also, I am seeing parents, schools, universities, the media, the arts, the medical community, and even churches endorsing a philosophy that says feelings, self esteem, fitting in, and being cool are paramount. Today's culture is teaching that any form of judgment and moral restraint is wrong, oppressive, and prejudicial. All forms of diversity are celebrated, especially if they are in conflict with traditional American values. On the other hand, little attention is payed to the universal spiritual principles that our great country was founded on, and that define us in the eyes of our Creator.

The separation of church and state is vital to our society. Just as we have a separation of powers within government (executive, judicial, and legislative), both government and our Judeo-Christian values are needed to keep one another in check. Judeo-Christian ethics, separated from and balanced by a secular government, is how our unique American culture is defined. The "Ten Commandments" are the root of our secular laws. Mitt Romney best describes this in his "Faith in America" speech.

All forms of diversity are not necessarily compatible with American culture. Islamic "Sharia law" is not compatible with American law due to its lack of women's' rights, punishment by amputation, lashing, and stoning. Sharia law also considers the act of homosexuality a capital crime. Atheistic values are also not necessarily compatible with our unique American culture. If atheism, Sharia law, and/or a hodgepodge of random spiritual beliefs become the majority, we will lose our unique American culture and the freedom, wealth, strength, and civil equality that it has brought to our nation.

Nearly one third of Muslim students in England believe it can be acceptable to kill in the name of religion, according to a survey published yesterday. It also found that 40 per cent want to see the introduction of Islamic Sharia law in Britain, 40 per cent think it wrong for Muslim men and women to mix freely together, and 33 per cent want to see a worldwide Islamic government based on Sharia law. Clearly this culture is not compatible with western culture. If this trend continues to grow, western culture in Britain will be threatened as a result of encouraging this form of diversity.

If we are to survive as a free, wealthy, and strong nation, we must return to the the principles that our nation was founded on. These values are what keeps our people free, prosperous, and strong. If our individual and collective character decays, we will become apathetic about choosing men of character to lead us. In fact, we will choose leaders based on how cool and popular they appear. If this happens, it will lead to deceit, manipulation, corruption, anarchy, and decay of the once great American democratic republic. Freedom without moral restraint is unsustainable and will lead to anarchy. Sanctuary cities and selective enforcement of immigration laws are glaring examples of the beginning of anarchy in America. When anarchy becomes widespread, it will lead to widespread violence and poverty. In an effort to squelch the violence and poverty that anarchy breeds, a totalitarian government may rise to power. Character and spiritual principles must trump education and intelligence when choosing our leaders if we are to preserve our unique American culture and survive as a great, free, and prosperous nation.

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