Sunday, April 7, 2013

Tempests in Teapots

Everyone seemed to have their panties in a wad this past week.  You've got the new dictator-for-life in North Korea, Kim Jong Un (he's not a little pot-bellied dictator yet, but give him time to "grow into it").  He's become increasingly irrational and belligerent, openly threatening to wage nuclear war against the U.S. and it's allies in the region.  It's not clear whether his backward little kingdom really has the capability to reach the continental U.S. (hell, Denis Rodman probably knows more about North Korea than U.S. Intelligence), but his ability to threaten South Korea and Japan IS clear.  Seoul is only about 50km south of the DMZ and would be obliterated in any first strike, even in a conventional war.

No one, not even the "experts" are sure what is driving his actions.  It could be as simple as a psychological need to show strength to his "enemies".  Or others could be using his naivete' to advance an agenda of "unification".  With the North in control, of course.  We don't know if he really believes the absurdity of NK being able to win any nuclear exchange with the US military or if his military leaders, who have been sucking the place dry of resources and money for decades, are blowing smoke up his ass to keep their positions and power.

What we DO know is that the US is obligated by treaty to come to the defense of South Korea in the event of any incursion by the North.  Obama can't even attempt to delay in responding.  And he can't go about it half-assed, either.  North Korea would be destroyed by the combined might of the South Korean military and their US ally. Which of course brings up the 800 pound gorilla: China.  They have not been able to reign in their neighbor, in spite of being their main ally in the region.  If the North attacks either the South or the US, we would be forced to respond and our military activity would bring in the Chinese.  The Chinese military and government simply could not allow US military action in the region to pass without significant response.  It appears that we need to rely on the Chinese to persuade Un to stand down in order to prevent his ignorance--and his faith in his military's ability for conquest--from igniting World War III.


On the domestic front, you've got the recent commentary by Fox News's Bill O'Reilly concerning the debate over gay marriage.  He has been accused of denigrating people with a religious objection by referring to them as "bible thumpers". He has also been accused by some of defending gay marriage on his television show.

Mr. O'Reilly has spent much of the last week addressing this controversy, pointing out that he never actually referred to Christians as bible thumpers.  What he did say was that the opponents of legalizing gay marriage are losing the secular debate simply because their opponents refuse to give the biblical basis of their arguments the same merit and consideration as the Christians grant their opponents' secular arguments.  You can not win any debate, or even have a serious discussion, if one side refuses to acknowledge the other side's argument.  Thus, the comment by Bill O'Reilly that the religious right needs to craft a secular counter to the left's secular arguments promoting gay marriage if they are to have any hope of swaying courts and legislatures, much less public opinion.  As Mr. O'Reilly said, they can not simply "thump the Bible" and expect anything to change.

Bill O'Reilly has been challenged by the Rev. Bill Keller, the creator of the religious website Live Prayer.  As reported on World Net Daily Rev. Keller has pledged a "put up or shut up" $10,000 challenge to a 6 minute debate, with he and Mr. O'Reilly each getting 3 minutes to make their case.  Rev. Keller wants Mr. O'Reilly to match his $10,000 for a total of $20,000 that will go to the winner's charity of choice.  He states that Mr. O'Reilly can take the first 3 minutes to make his arguments "for gay marriage" and then he will use his 3 minutes to refute those arguments using only the Bible.  They will then let Bill O'Reilly's viewers on The Factor vote on which side wins the debate.

Intriguing as such a scene would likely be, the Rev. Keller is proceeding from a false assumption.  Namely, that Mr. O'Reilly has ever argued for gay marriage or so-called "marriage equality".  What he has said is that he supports civil unions for same-sex couples that grant the same secular and civil legal protections that are currently afforded to married couples.  He has consistently opposed redefining marriage, realizing that that would lead to the elimination marriage as an institution. 

There are other "marriage rights" groups waiting in the wings to demand recognition of their own particular aberration and Mr. O'Reilly knows that once the definition of marriage has been opened up to include same sex couples it will be impossible to thenceforth deny the same to those who see no problem with one woman and two (or more) men or one man and a harem of women. Or even "consensual" relationships between adults and minors (many states already restrict marriage by age, with 18 being the norm, but some states allow marriage as young as 15, with parent's permission.  Do you really want a blanket federal law that some perv's interest in your teen daughter is just as legitimate as the love between you and your wife?  Don't even get me started on NAMBLA). Once redefined in one way, where do you stop?  And how do you justify stopping at one point and not another?  Either the Rev. Keller is misinformed on this point, or perhaps he is trying to use Mr. O'Reilly's massive audience to gain exposure for his fledging organization and to raise his own personal profile.  In which case he should rightly be denied the platform he seeks.

Mr. O'Reilly is certainly not afraid of taking on someone with a differing point of view, that's what his program is all about.  He has had debates with a wide range of people, including people with whom he has no sympathy whatsoever.  He always gives them time to expound, but doesn't let them hijack his program to promote their personal agendas at his expense.  He may indeed decide to accept the Rev.'s "challenge" debate.  The Rev. will soon find that he will be expected to stay strictly on point in the debate and to give direct answers to the points of Mr. O'Reilly's argument that in a debate with secularist's you need to use secular arguments.  In other words, you need to "beat them at their own game."

If it happens, it should be a very interesting conversation.  I look forward to it.


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