24 April 2016

Meditation & Water

“Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries—stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.”

Excerpt From: Melville, Herman. “Moby Dick, or, The Whale.” iBooks. 
This material may be protected by copyright.

Check out this book on the iBooks Store: https://itun.es/us/Ux3Kx.l

18 April 2016

Why can't we reason together about tough issues?

One reason I think we find it hard to discuss tough issues reasonably is that we use language to create our world rather than to describe it. For example:

What is a fetus? An unwanted unborn baby.

What is an unborn baby? A fetus that is wanted.

So, to the person who is pro-choice, it is a fetus until it is wanted.

Likewise, to the person who is pro-life, it is an unborn baby until it is unwanted.

No wonder we cannot discuss this without arousing the flames of emotion.

12 April 2016

Draw people to the light...

In politics, it is better to draw people to the light than to beat them into submission. It is better to inspire people than to manipulate them. This is the reason I like Gov. Kasich. I see him trying to live up to both standards. Not a perfect man, but one who is trying to offer hope.

19 December 2015

Multipolar President...

Concerning President Obama's approach to international relations: President Obama is a multipolar president in a unipolar world. - Dr. Rob Bittick

25 November 2015

Equal Taxation - Hardship

Regarding taxes on corporations:
"...equal taxation is always a hardship on those who had not been formerly paying their equal share of taxes."
- Robert M. La Follette, from The political philosophy of Robert M. La Follette as revealed in his speeches and writings (The Robert M. La Follette Co., 1920), p. 356.

11 November 2015

Welders and Philosophers in the Republican Debate

In the Republican debate tonight, Rubio was quoted saying, "Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders than philosophers."

Actually, Socrates was stone mason by trade. Machiavelli was a public administrator. Locke was a physician and also worked in government. So, being a philosopher and having a trade or profession can be quite compatible.

Maybe he should have said that we need more philosophers who are welders by trade.

22 September 2015

When Public Interest Cannot Be Sustained...

"There comes a time when public interest cannot be sustained in further discussion of a subject no matter how important. The people will give an administration their support two or three times and then they begin to expect results."
- Robert M. La Follette, from The political philosophy of Robert M. La Follette as revealed in his speeches and writings (The Robert M. La Follette Co., 1920), p. 293.

18 September 2015

Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan...

I recommend reading a CNN article entitled, "Why Ronald Reagan's Name is Everywhere." The author, Chris Moody, reports that Grover Norquist wants Theodore Roosevelt taken off Mr. Rushmore and replaced with Ronald Reagan.

I doubt Reagan would have supported such a move. Reagan believed, in his words, "Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican." Today men such as Mr. Norquist and many conservative talk radio hosts claim they like Reagan, but "speak ill" of fellow Republicans routinely. I wish they would actually follow Reagan's example, if indeed, Reagan is their leader (I do not think they really like Reagan, as I explain, below).

However, to those who think Roosevelt was not a good president, please identify the specific laws he supported as President that you oppose. Be specific, please. The average American will likely find that such dislike for President Roosevelt is without substance, and has been fostered by conservative talk radio hosts and others who are not like President Reagan in their beliefs.

Indeed, President Reagan and President Theodore Roosevelt shared many beliefs and characteristics in common. The Reagan portrayed by these so-called conservatives is a myth. For example, President Reagan worked with his political opponents, supported liberal and moderate Republicans and appointed many to his cabinet (e.g. Sen. Richard Schweiker and Rep Margaret Heckler), championed amnesty for illegal immigrants, and promoted a positive message. Many so-called conservatives today criticize Republicans who do the same, and imply that Reagan really did not believe what he believed. Such men are more like Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s than President Reagan in the 1980s. That is why I do not believe these men really like President Reagan.

Finally, be very careful that you are not manipulated by such men who promote a spirit of hatred. Neither Roosevelt or Reagan advocated such a spirit in politics.

04 August 2015

"The time for great souls is when all is lost..."
- Robert M. La Follette, from The political philosophy of Robert M. La Follette as revealed in his speeches and writings (The Robert M. La Follette Co., 1920), p. 94.

23 June 2015

A Courageous Republican: South Carolina State Representative Doug Brannon

Today I heard an interview on NPR of South Carolina Representative Doug Brannon. You can read it and also listen to it here. I strongly encourage everyone to listen to the interview. He speaks about his efforts to remove the Confederate flag from the capital dome of South Carolina before the recent murders. Most important, he was a friend of Reverend Clemente Pinckney, who he described as follows:

"He was huge. He was - I'm a short guy. I'm 5-foot-7, and Senator Pinckney was 6'5 or 6'6. I mean, he was a mountain of a man. But when he walked into a room, the smile just lit the room up. It - you know, as big as he was, he always - he was so inviting. He never felt ominous. It was - he was just a welcome sight. And if you've ever imagined what God's voice sounded like, Clemente's voice was that. His voice could shake the room."

Furthermore, Rep. Brannon notes that the Confederate flag was not placed on the South Carolina capital dome until 1962 in response to segregation. He said, "We're talking about a flag that got placed on the capital dome by a bunch of white guys who were mad about desegregation."

This is further evidence that the Confederate flag is about segregation, and ultimately hatred of our neighbors and fellow citizens. If a White person has a close friend or relative who is African-American, there is no way that person could look at the Confederate flag with pride and be consistent with their commitment to the well-being of those friends and family members.

The flag cannot be about Southern pride when the South is made up of African-Americans, Hispanic American, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and White Americans. The flag is the pride only of a select group of White people.

21 June 2015

The Deception of the Confederate Flag

Friends of mine have pointed out that many people display the Confederate flag out of Southern pride, but not to support racism. Many people also argue that the Civil War was not primarily about slavery. I disagree with this reasoning.

The problem with this symbol is both what it meant back then, and also what it means today. The reason we need to move on by not displaying the flag is because it represents, at best, callousness towards our African-American neighbors, brothers and sisters, and at worse, it represents hatred and bigotry. Southern pride should not be represented by a flag that only applies to some Southerners, in this case, only White Southerners.

I should add that being from the south, at one time I also had a Confederate Battle flag in my room. From my point of view then, it represented Southern pride, especially when I heard people outside the south say derogatory things about us. However, I got rid of it when I realized that if what that flag represents came about, then my friends (and now my family) who are African-Americans would have remained in slavery and slavery-like conditions. Likewise, if the order of old south after the Civil War continued to today, my family and friends who are African-Americans would be treated horribly (and where those attitudes are still dominate, African-Americans are still treated horribly up to the present time).

It was then that I realized I had been deceived, and to this day I resent what the Confederate flag stood for and what it stands for now. I should have known better back then, but at least I know the truth about this horrible flag today.

There is no way around it: the Confederate flag stands for rebellion against the US Constitution, for racism, and for hatred. Those who see it as merely Southern pride are being deceived.

James wrote, "If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors."
- James 2: 8-9 (ESV)

The Apostle Paul wrote: "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived."
- 2nd Timothy 3:12-13 (ESV)

The Confederate flag represents a system that treats people with partiality, and those who fly the flag are at best deceiving others and are being deceived themselves.

20 June 2015

"Letter from Birmingham Jail"; Complete Text aand Outline

If you have not read this, Justin Taylor has posted Dr. Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail" with an outline over at The Gospel Coaliton. I highly recommend reading this letter.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. not only wrote intelligently and on a foundation of Christian love, he wrote prophetically reaching the reader's conscience. It is an excellent work.

05 May 2015

Edward Brooke: Why Republican?

I have heard many conservative media political commentators and entertainers claim the Republican Party has always been a conservative party. This is not so. At one time, the Republican Party was the moderate-liberal party in the United States when compared with the Democratic Party. One man who was part of that wing of the Republican Party was former Senator Edward Brooke.

Senator Brooke died earlier this year. The National Visionary Leadership Project interviewed Sen. Brooke shortly before he passed away. This video, below, is part of that interview. Here, he explains why he identified as a Republican. It is important to understand that originally, the Republican and Democratic Parties were not defined by conservative and liberal ideologies, but there was still a significant difference between the parties. Those differences come out in this interview.

14 April 2015

We may live in the land of Lincoln, but where is the party of Lincoln?

There is an excellent article about President Abraham Lincoln at CNN entitled, "We all live in the Land of Lincoln." President Abraham Lincoln​ is one of my favorite presidents. I found this to be a good article about his impact on US history. Ironically, I have heard many conservatives today claim Lincoln was a bad president because the Southern states had a right to leave the Union, and Lincoln suspended the right of Habeas Corpus. This is ironic because such conservatives tend to vote for Republican candidates. I argue that three items from the US Constitution may explain Lincoln's reasoning on these matters, which was the heritage of the Republican Party:

Article VI states: "This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."
- Lincoln understood that the US Constitution, not a state in the Union, is the supreme law of the land. When the original 13 states ratified the Constitution, they made it the sovereign of the land. When a state joins the union, it makes the US Constitution the sovereign, the supreme law of the land.

Article IV, Section 3 states: "New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress."
- States cannot change their borders without the consent of Congress. Leaving the Union in effect changes the borders of sovereignty. The Confederacy was a confederation of rebellious states.

Article I, section 9 of the US Constitution states: "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."
- Lincoln suspended the right of Habeas Corpus because the Civil War was a war of rebellion.

Originally, the Republican party was the national party, whereas the Democratic party was the states-rights party. It is ironic that today many Republicans talk more like states-rights Democrats in the mode of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy.

So, what happened to the real Republican Party? Why are Lincoln Republicans called RINOS (Republicans In Name Only)? Where is that party of civil rights and national unity? Why have so many Republicans become states-rights advocates much in the way of the old Dixiecrat wing of the Democratic Party?

And concerning the upcoming presidential election, who represents the Lincoln wing of the Republican Party today among those running for president?

01 February 2015

Managers, Leaders, and the Future of the Organization

     Much has been written about differences between managers and leaders in organizations. While there are many differences, I argue that a critical difference concerns the person's orientation toward the future. That is, managers mostly focus on here-and-now organizational issues, while leaders have a strong sense of the future.
     For example, because of a manager's here-and-now focus, such a person often views strategic planning as a task to be accomplished. In contrast, because a leader has a future orientation in their thinking, such a person often properly approaches strategic planning as a plan to address the purpose and direction of the organization.
     It is important to remember that managers can develop leadership qualities, and at the same time, leaders must develop management skills to be successful. However, it is also important to understand that not every manager will become a leader. This is not necessarily bad in an organization because some individuals are needed to focus on the here-and-now problems to support the leaders of the organization. Such men and women are critical to the functioning of the organization.
     Likewise, leaders must focus both on the future and the present in order to to accomplish what is needed to progress toward future goals. Given this, managers can be a great benefit to leaders both in reminding them of present conditions and needs, and in helping leaders deal with such needs in accomplishing organizational objectives and goals. This means leaders must seek out and value those managers under their supervision.
     A critical problem organizations continually face occurs when managers are in leadership positions, and leaders are not promoted to positions of authority. This problem is an ancient one, as one only need read Plato's The Republic to see this problem addressed in ancient days. I have found that when managers occupy leadership positions, and such people do not develop leadership qualities, they often devalue strategic planning and devalue those who have a sense of the future of the organization. Likewise, when leaders are not promoted to positions of authority, they often leave the organization, or become discouraged and unmotivated.
     There is no magical formula to solve this problem. Plato recommended either developing a Guardian class of leaders in society (see The Republic), or rely on an informal "nocturnal council" of leaders in the organization to be the gatekeepers regarding promoting individuals to positions of authority (see Plato's The Laws). Although Plato would likely argue that both approaches are based on merit if he were alive today, in practice both approaches violate the merit system of promotion in government in the United States which is based on objective measures of performance. Such measures are not directly based on one's orientation towards the future.
     Still, these problems remains: how do we insure that managers are rewarded for accomplishing organizational goals and objectives, while at the same time insure such individuals are not promoted to positions of authority unless they develop leadership skills? Likewise, how do we make sure leaders are promoted to positions of authority and develop management skills along the way?
     Plato is correct that there is a systemic element that must be addressed in answering such questions. However, let me also recommend a character-based approach to addressing these questions: each individual must examine him/herself and answer the question:
  • "Am I oriented toward being a manager or a leader?" That is, "Do I have a future orientation in my work?" 
    • If a person concludes he or she is a manager, then such a person must ask, "Am I willing to develop leadership qualities that deal with the future of the organization?" 
      • If the answer is "No!", then that person must ask, "Am I content to remain a manager and support the leaders in the organization (including those presently under my supervision)?" If not, such a person can cause the organization to lose focus on its future direction, and therefore, not accomplish its mission.
    • If a person concludes he or she is future oriented, then such a person must ask, "Am I willing to develop management skills and value those under my authority who are managers?" If not, such a person can cause the organization to neglect addressing the here-and-now problems it must resolve in order to accomplish its mission.
     Answering such questions does not solve the human resource management problem of getting the right people into the right positions. Such a solution must include a systemic element in the organization. However, a character-based approach does help individuals understand their strengths and weaknesses and help them determine whether or not to be content with their management orientation, or work to develop needed leadership skills, including developing a future orientation about the organization.