Sunday, February 5, 2012

RE: Save Bradley Manning

Save Bradley Manning is a page on Facebook that I found in conjunction with a news article concerning the court-martial of this piece of scum.  Here's why this guy is going to burn in hell for what he did:

Code of Conduct:
(1) I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense

 (2) I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never
surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to

(3) If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available. I will
make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.

(4) If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners.
I will give no information or take part in any action which might be
harmful to my comrades. If I am senior, I will take command. If not, I will
obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me, and will back them up in
every way

(5) When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give
only my name, rank, service number, and date of birth.  I will evade answering
further questions to the utmost of my ability.  I will make no oral or written
statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to  their cause.

(6) I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom,
responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my
country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.

This guy was not captured.  He was not a prisoner of war.  He was not put to the question.  He was not tortured.  He willingly, of his own free will and choice, divulged information that put hundreds of thousands of US and allied troops in increased danger.  He is a traitor to his country, and to the men and women of the armed forces with whom he served.  He forgot that he was an American, fighting for freedom.  He must now take responsibility for his actions.  He must share David's fate when he sent Uriah to his death.  He shall have no forgiveness in this life, nor in the life to come.  He is damned by his own pride, having committed an unpardonable sin, and that is worse than anything any earthly power can do to him.  He knew that his actions would aid the enemy, and therefore increase risk to US and allied forces.  The blood of those who died as a result of his lapse in judgment is testimony against him.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Why not Ron Paul?

I have to commend Representative Ron Paul on sticking by his principles for decades.  He believes what he believes, and nobody is going to convince him to change his mind.  The problem with that is that I don't agree with him. 
He is a Constitutionalist, but he doesn't interpret it the same way that I do.  He has his set of personal beliefs, and I have mine.  Because of that, we each vary slightly in our interpretations of what we read.  However, these differences are not so great as to convince me that he is unfit for the presidency.  I have studied the Constitution for years.  In less than 3 months, I will be taking an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, even unto the laying down of my life, if need be.  I believe I am entitled to my own opinions on how it was meant to be interpreted.
My biggest issue is that his approach to international affairs are all but guaranteed to doom this country.  Ron Paul seems to be convinced that we, as a country, can just withdraw from the world, focus on ourselves, and be just fine.  I believe that this country was established with the assistance of divine intervention, and that we are not just expected to take care of ourselves.  When we are prosperous, we have a responsibility to help to care for those who cannot care for themselves - this applies to us individually and as a nation.  The Lord has said, "Of him unto whom much is given, much is required" (D&C 82:3).  If our nation is in a position to protect and uplift the oppressed, we damn ourselves if we do not lift a helping hand. 
But this is not all.  Globalization has rendered isolationism impractical and obsolete.  We must maintain international activities and overseas military presence to protect our national interests and our national security.  If Mr. Paul had his way, we would be jeopardizing economic, political and security interests around the world.
Finally, and I intend no offense, I'm just expressing an observation, Ron Paul has the most antagonistic supporters that I have had the displeasure to interact with outside of the United States Democratic Party.  It is inexcusable that they feel they have the right to verbally attack and abuse anyone who doesn't agree with them.  This, unfortunately, has been the majority of my interaction with these people.  What does it say about Mr. Paul that these are the people that he is attracting?  I have no desire to associate myself with a group of people that have such blatant disregard for the opinions that other people have. 
So, why not Ron Paul for president?  I believe I have sufficiently illustrated why not.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Reflections on writing the Issues Paper

Well, I guess this blog post is a little bit late.  Oh well.  I definitely had a lot of other home work to do, and then forgot about it until now.  The whole process was very educational.  I have written more papers than I care to try to recall since I've been in college.  I have never written one quite like this one, though.  The research process for the IP was the biggest difference.  I have always had access to all, or almost all of my sources when I've started actually writing.  There aren't a whole lot of scholarly articles, however, on the cult of personality of the POTUS.  Almost all of my sources were actual books, and I had to wait for them to be available at the library, with the exception of one of them.  One of the books even had to come in through Inter-Library Loan from Washington State University.  As a result of this, I had to take notes from the materials as I received them, analyze my notes in regards to the overall paper, and then work each piece of notes, quotes, and analysis into the whole paper.  I even had to cut out 2 pages at the end because I had too much.  That never happens! 
As far as how I changed my perspective on my topic goes, I realized that the problem of the president overstepping his bounds and the media and nation turning a blind eye has been a nearly perpetual issue from the start of the 20th century.  It is a bipartisan problem and it will undoubtedly require bipartisan effort to overcome it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Some links about my Issue Paper topic

Politico has an article entitled "'Obamabots' defend POTUS [President of the United States] in Twitterverse", which points to some evidence of various bloggers and users of Twitter who are ardent supports of President Obama, and who propagate his cult of personality.  Another background source that I found, but need to look more into is this book.  It's about the excessive power accumulated by the office of the nation's Chief Executive during previous and current presidencies.  Most of the readers rated it fairly highly.  Another book I found to look more into is The Rise Of Barack Obama by Pete Souza.  Also, in order to compare adulation towards him with that projected towards other major political leaders throughout history, especially those to whom cults of personality have been attributed, I will be reading more about Stalin, perhaps here, and personality cults here.  Obviously, I will continue to be on the look out to find more good sources to bolster my writing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Issues Paper

So I'm supposed to brainstorming a few potential topics for my issues paper.  One thing that I have been studying for another class is the Gulag.  This got me thinking about the cult of personality created of Stalin, by Stalin, for Stalin (See here for a brief explanation of cult of personality if the concept is foreign to you).  This, in turn, led me to consider that perhaps there is a cult of personality of President Obama.  If you think about what he's done as president, and then consider the praises he's received and awards he's been given, tied in with the media's treatment of him and his actions,  then you can definitely see some semblance of a cult personality.  I wonder how much information I would be able to find about this.  What has been done to establish a sort of cult of personality?  What has been done to prevent such an establishment?  What are the effects of this cult of personality, if it indeed exists?
Another topic that has been on my mind lately is Occupy Wall Street.  More specifically, I wonder who is funding them, why they're being funded, what demographics make up the protesters, whether the protesters understand the irony of their situation, why anyone in society would support a group, or groups, of people who are in their present situation due to their own personal greed and fiscal irresponsibility, and how these people have managed to convince themselves that it is ok to demand that people who are more responsible with finances should pay off the debts incurred by the protesters and the protesters' families.  Why don't these demonstrators consider the short- and long-term effects of toppling the nation's financial institutions?  Why do so many people feel that they deserve something for nothing?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

RA Reflections

So, overall, I feel that the rhetorical analysis was a highly educational assignment.  I am not used to spending so much time and effort contemplating how others are likely to react to something that I have read, while simultaneously trying to suppress my own feelings and opinions about it.  I won't say that I would welcome with open arms another rhetorical analyses for that reason alone.  In addition to how much I had to think about others' potential reactions to the article, I spent an inordinate amount of time considering the various forms of rhetoric the author used.  This, again, is not even remotely normal for a reader.  In short, I learned a lot from the assignment because I had to go so far beyond the norm.  This is not to say that I did not like anything about the assignment.  On the contrary, it was indeed interesting to look at how the blog post was written, and how the readers are likely to receive the text and images.  I think that the increased reflection on the work led to a deeper understanding of the issue, as well. 

Compared to the OpEd process, this was much slower and much less personal.  It is also way more difficult to remain objective while writing.  It was nice to be able to voice my opinion freely and fully in the OpEd.  All in all, I much preferred the Opinion Editorial to the Rhetorical Analysis.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rhetorical Analysis

Could American tax policy soon be determined by how on or two people describe their personal tax situations?  Does it make sense to even consider such a possibility?  Warren Buffett seems to think so.  The investments mogul has recently become more outspoken, as tax policies have become more of a focus in deficit and budget resolution talks.  Warren Buffett’s earnings last year were in the ballpark of $46,000,000.  He said that his secretary, who earned approximately $60, 000 pays taxes at a rate (30%) that nearly doubles the rate (17.7%) at which he personally pays taxes.  Furthermore, Mr. Buffett claims that he has done nothing to seek to pay at a lower rate than is required of anyone in his tax bracket.  In "Eleven ways Warren Buffett is lying about Warren Buffett" by Stu Burguire on The Stu Blog, Mr. Burguiere presents an opinion, which discredits Warren Buffett's recent statements about his taxes, and detracts from President Obama's efforts to push new tax legislation through Congress.  He wants his readers to be appalled that the president would even consider basing his fiscal policy off of what Warren Buffett has said.   To do so, he employs logical arguments, including statistics and quotations from expert opinions and official documents, imagery and video that works both for emotional response and increased mental stimulation, and a writing style that attempts to connect with the average reader, while still maintaining a high enough level of sophistication to maintain credibility and to stimulate critical thought on the subject.
The method that Mr. Burguiere uses in his blog post to try to discredit Mr. Buffett is in the title of the entry itself:  “Eleven ways Warren Buffett is lying about Warren Buffett”.  It also serves as a fairly effective hook.  The verbiage not only indicates Mr. Buffett’s dishonesty, but also draws the reader’s attention to the egregiously grand scale of the lies.  It would not be surprising if the majority of the blog readers were already starting to form the basis of their opinions simply after having read such a title.  It would certainly evoke both a negative emotional response, as well as a potentially adverse psychological response in the readers.
Mr. Burguiere continues his assault on Mr. Buffett’s words and credibility with an image of Mr. Buffett and President Obama sitting and looking over paperwork.  As his readers are presumably mostly republican, or at the very least are not democrats, one can reasonably assume that this picture is yet another effective tool to further develop the audience’s distrust of Mr. Buffett.  This is because the readers are likely to be distrustful of most people who are shown to be aligned with the President.  This picture certainly depicts Mr. Buffett as such.
He followed this up by pointing out that “the president is basing a new law off of Warren Buffett.  This means that we are basing US Tax Policy on what is happening to the top 0.0000006% of people.”  He has already begun appealing towards the reader’s emotions by posting this image, before he starts to draw their reasoning ability into the equation.  One can safely assume that the majority of people in the United States is, by this point in time, either strongly supportive of or strongly opposed to our Chief Executive Officer.  It follows, logically, that such an image would, therefore evoke an emotional response, be it positive or negative.
In keeping consistent with his logic-based rebuttal of Warren Buffett’s statements, Mr. Burguiere continues by stating a simple fact: “Now, it’s possible to pay any tax rate if you really want to, by paying more than is required.  You can just send in a check.”  He even includes a link to the Gifts to the United States Government webpage to increase his credibility with the reader.  Perhaps some readers may have assumed he was being ironic; however, when you read through the comments below the blog post, you can see that readers generally agree with him.  “Good work Stu. There are a lot of us that depend on the accuracy of your work and I'm personally impressed with your access and thoroughness,” wrote one reader.   Another wrote, “I'll say again, Mr. Buffet can give his entire fortune to Uncle Sam; he doesn't have the right to give mine.”
The readers are next presented with a basic explanation of how much Mr. Buffett’s secretary actually pays, according to the numbers that their accounting department ran.  Here, again, Mr. Burguiere refers to others’ expert opinions to better support his blog’s credibility with the reader.  One can easily argue with his statement that the secretary would pay 14% if she were single, 7.6% if married, especially if it is unsubstantiated by expert testimony.  Once the data are credited to the accounting department, the readers cannot dismiss it so easily.  To refute that, one would have to do extensive research of accounting laws and practices. 
Loaded words also evoke emotional responses in people.  Mr. Burguiere combined statistics and facts with rhetoric targeting emotions: “Rich people pay far more than the middle class in both total dollars and percentage terms.”  Both “rich” and “middle class” cause some level of emotional response in the reader.  These reactions would, of course vary widely, depending solely upon the individual reader’s life experiences; however, through word association, responses will come.  These terms are qualified later in the paragraph in a quote from the Associated Press: “This year, households making more than $1 million will pay an average of 29.1 percent of their income in federal taxes, including income and payroll taxes . . . Households making between $50,000 and $75,000 will pay 15 percent of their income in federal taxes.”
Irony is another tool that Stu regularly employs in his writing and on his radio shows.  In this particular blog post, he wrote, “Want another scandal?  Warren Buffett pays less in sales tax than his secretary does in income tax.  We better write another law.”  The sarcasm is laid on so thick in this that readers can’t help but notice it.  Mr. Burguiere quite adeptly reinforces his original point that the whole situation of basing a tax law on Warren Buffett is ridiculous by revisiting the issue with a different take on it. 
Towards the close of the blog post, Mr. Burguiere comes back to the use of irony.  Understanding both the more liberal stance of the media, as well as the readers’ awareness of the mainstream media’s position, politically, he further substantiated his assertion that “lowering the capital gains tax brings in more revenue” by bluntly pointing out, “even the media understands this”.  This would certainly catch the readers’ attention, whether they are of a liberal, moderate, or conservative persuasion.  An excerpt from a debate that Charlie Gibson mediated between then Senator Obama and then Senator Clinton supports this claim.  Mr. Gibson pointed out that both President Clinton and President G. W. Bush lowered capital gains tax from 28% to 20% and from 20% to 15%, respectively; and, in both instances, “revenues for the tax increased.”  Conversely, when, during the 1980s, “the tax was increased to 28% revenues went down.  So why raise it at all?  Especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?”  If you increase taxes on over 100 million people, you have at least two affects that are incongruent with the aim of a bill to raise taxes on only the very wealthiest individuals.  First of all, the tax increase would target approximately 32.5% of the people.  Secondly, you would be directly decreasing the spending money of 32.5% of the population.  This would indirectly decrease everyone else’s spending money and further hinder economic recovery and reduce government revenues.  The reader would have to think a little bit to make this connection, but it still comes quickly.
The eventual President, Senator Obama, did not seem to grasp the concept that increasing taxes on a third of the country would be a bad idea.  He is quoted from the aforementioned interview as saying, “Well, Charlie, what I said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.  Mr. Burguiere added the bold and the underline to draw the readers’ attention directly to this portion of Mr. Obama’s statement.  He wanted to drive home one final point to the reader: The President doesn’t care about what works to improve the economy; he cares about what seems to be “fair” to the people who have less.  Stu’s readers tend to have a different understanding of fairness than most democrats do.  To the majority of Mr. Burguiere’s readers, fairness means getting what you work for, regardless of whether someone around you is working for more or less.  This final association of Mr. Buffett with the President is the finishing touch to a blog post that drives home the point that it is impractical to base tax laws off of one or two men.  The reader’s experience at the conclusion of the article leaves him or her with a bitter taste for what is being done by the President and Mr. Buffett. 
Stu Burguiere successfully conveyed to his audience a convincing argument that Mr. Buffett was lying about himself and his secretary.  Moreover, he adeptly employed multiple rhetorical tools to bolster his credibility, and to assist in convincing his readers to agree with his points.