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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

I remember 1977 and then the early 1980s very vividly. Those were the years when I came of age. There were other men that are close to me in age that grew up then, also. Each of them changed the world, and I am sure each of them, at the time when these pictures were taken, had no idea who they would become and certainly they would not have expected that every person in the world would eventually know them.

Three Humans - Gates

Bill Gates – December 1977

Above is Bill Gates in a mug shot after he was arrested for a driving violation in New Mexico on December 13, 1977. If somebody had told him then that he would be the richest man in the world for at least half his life I am sure he would not have believed it then. Microsoft was just a couple of years old, with less than 10 people in a small shop in Albuquerque.

Three Humans - bin Laden

Osama bin Laden – circa early 1980s

I am a martial artist, and so was bin Laden in the early 1980s, when he was in his mid twenties. Martial artists usually exhibit discipline, a strong sense of honor, and deep respect for their fellow man. That’s what martial arts is all about. If somebody had told the Black Belt on the right that he would end up being one of the most recognized and iconic terrorists of all time, I am sure he would not have possibly believed it  then.

Three Humans - Obama

Barack Obama – circa 1977

Barack Obama was a teenager when this picture was taken, I estimate around 1977. He was a black boy in a white basketball team. I am sure he was probably the most unlikely person to become President of the United States in his entire high school. He had no idea where he was going to go in his life.

All three of these men are contemporaries to each other and to me. The circle of life took them into very different directions. Looking at these photos, and thinking about my own journey in parallel to theirs, I cannot help but realize that life is not what we are born as, and who we are when we are young.

Life is what we do with our time. We become what we think about.

Let’s choose our thoughts well.

 

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Barack Obama compared Christianity with Islam yesterday in a speech. He stated that Christianity, hundreds of years ago, committed terrible atrocities in the name of God. He probably didn’t mean it that way, but it came across as if he was rationalizing that radial Islam today is really not any different from Christianity 800 years ago.

Perhaps Obama is even correct. To the best of my understanding, what the Christians did in the name of God 800 years ago sounds a lot like what ISIS does today.

However, that was 800 years ago. We want to think that we have grown up as humanity since, and we measure ourselves against different standards. It also sounded like Obama tried to make it sound like ISIS is not so unusual after all.

There seems to be this fear of calling Islam what it is – a brutal, discriminating, violent and aggressive religion.

Let’s just compare two religions, Islam and Christianity in the last 10 years.

Islam:

  • Many members openly confess and announce that they want to kill as many infidels as they can.
  • Public beheadings and burnings of infidels – dozens.
  • Suicide bombers – hundreds.

Christianity:

  • Members opening announcing they want to kill infidels? None that I can think of. We have had a few nuts who killed abortion physicians in the name of God, but that’s about it.
  • Public beheadings and burnings – none.
  • Suicide bombers – none.

I am not a Christian, but I must say, in 2015, Christians are much less dangerous than Muslims, just judging from their actions and the results.

Muslims will argue that the West, lead by the U.S., has killed thousands of people in the middle east, and they will be right. The U.S. has killed far more Iraqis and Afghans than Iraqis and Afghans killed Americans, by an order of magnitude. However, the U.S. did this not because they are Christians, but because they believe they need to defend themselves against radical Islam.

Moderate and mainstream Muslims will argue that ISIS are not Muslims and they want nothing to do with them. Too bad, however, that ISIS does not agree with that. They think they are the true Muslims, and all the other ones are cowards.

So my conclusion:

Islam is obviously a lethal and dangerous religion that drives some of its members to do insane and brutal deeds, to the point of killing themselves. Islam is not good for life, health and the pursuit of happiness.

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AudacityofHope

If you want to get to know the character of a man, read his books. Teddy Roosevelt wrote dozens of books. If you want to read about German intellectualism and philosophy in the 19th century, read Nietzsche’s books. If you want to understand what makes John McCain tick, read Faith of my Fathers.

Did George W. Bush write any books?

And if you want an objective and refreshingly candid view into modern US politics post 9/11, read The Audacity of Hope.

Obama tells about his background, starting with his childhood, and how he came about getting into  politics. As I read, I get to know a man who cares about the issues and obviously has an ability to verbalize his opinions succinctly. You understand why Obama feels about the issues the way he does.

Obama is not your average African American male, but he had to face the same challenges they have to deal with on a daily basis. The tells us what it feels like, being a U.S. Senator, dressed in a suit, standing outside of an expensive restaurant, and having somebody drive up in a Lexus and toss him the keys, thinking he is the valet.

You learn what it’s like to be a freshman senator. He tells the story of how he got to know Senator Byrd, President Bush and many others of the power brokers in Washington. He is candid and humble. I can’t help myself thinking how here is a man who actually ends up at the top of the Washington pyramid not because he was bred for power all his life (like Kennedy, Bush, McCain, and many others), but because he has a clear-thinking mind, a concise way of expressing himself, and a humble, no-nonsense attitude about his place in life and in politics. He appears to be an unadulterated man.

There were many passages in this book that I enjoyed, but this is one I’d like to pull out for your amusement, from page 326:

One day in February I found myself in particularly good spirits, having just completed a hearing on legislation that Dick Lugar and I were sponsoring aimed at restricting weapons proliferation and the black-market arms trade. Because Dick was not only the Senate’s leading expert on proliferation issues but also the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, prospects for the bill seemed promising. Wanting to share the good news, I called Michelle from my D.C. office and started explaining the significance of the bill – how shoulder-to-air missiles could threaten commercial air travel if they fell into the wrong hands, how small-arms stockpiles left over from the Cold War continued to feed conflict across the globe. Michelle cut me off.

“We have ants.”

“Huh?”

“I found ants in the kitchen. And in the bathroom upstairs.”

“Okay…”

“I need you to buy some ant traps on your way home tomorrow. I’d get them myself, but I’ve got to take the girls to their doctor’s appointment after school. Can you do that for me?”

“Right. Ant traps.”

“Ant traps. Don’t forget, okay, honey? And buy more than one. Listen, I need to go into a meeting. Love you.”

I hung up the receiver, wondering if Ted Kennedy or John McCain bought ant traps on the way home from work.

The funny thing is, he wrote this in 2006, when the decision to run for president was not made yet, of course, and he had no way of knowing that he’d be facing McCain, of all people, in the final 2008 election.

No matter what your political bent is, this is a book that is eminently readable, full of common sense, that gives you a good insight into the man that looks like he is transforming an entire political generation.

Another must-read before we vote this fall.

Rating - Four Stars

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