2014
03.26

The Soul of Conservatism

A Rhetorical Analysis of Ron Paul’s 2009 “Imagine” speech.

In 2008, with our nation weary of war and just grasping the beginnings of a deep economic recession, we as a people elected a president that ran on a platform of change.  While never truly spelling out exact policies of how or what would be changed, this presidential candidate tapped into the popular idea that the United States was headed in the wrong direction and that change needed to happen.  A year later it was quite evident that if there was going to be any change, it was not going to be any time soon.  The Anti-War movement, so popular during the Bush presidencies had quite literally disappeared.  The enraged masses were so pleased with their elected “chosen one” that they were pacified into total silence.  Anti War turned out to be a trendy euphemism for Anti Bush.  There were only a small few of our elected leaders who were outside the main political process that could see the truth.  The wars were not ending.  Our troops were not coming home and Obama’s administration was maneuvering for our military to stay in the middle east indefinitely.   On March 11th 2009, one of those few gave a speech to his core constituents that has since been used to changed many minds about our foreign policy. Through this speech, Ron Paul re-introduced the idea that it is healthy to openly question how, where and why the United States uses its military power to whole new generation of Conservatives.  The speech was simply titled “Imagine” and as will be shown, the then Congressman Paul successfully guided us as a nation to think about the unintended consequences of our actions militarily through the masterful use of repetition and allusion.

As a flight surgeon in the United State’s Air Force during the Vietnam War, Ron Paul understood the sacrifice required to serve this country in uniform.  As a medical doctor who personally delivered over four thousand babies, he understood how to guide countless people through incredibly stressful experiences.  As a Congressman for twenty years representing the state of Texas he was well aware of the inner workings of the political machine and chose not to take part.  In his time as a Congressman, he was known for his consistent voting record against bills that he believed violated the Constitution and his own conservative principles.  On numerous occasions, Congressman Paul was counted as the sole “no” vote earning him the moniker of “Dr. No”.  All of this knowledge and experience gave the message contained in this speech the legitimacy that required for it to have such a meaningful lasting impact.

Almost the whole of Senator Paul’s speech is set up as a thought exercise.  Through the use of the continually repeated phase of “Imagine if. . “ the audience is guided through a thought exercise where they are asked to imagine what it would be like to be on the receiving end of standard United States military practice at the time.  He does this by having us pretend that there is a large foreign military base somewhere in the middle of Texas that we are told by our leaders that it is there to “keep us safe” and is only there to “protect their strategic interests.”  By using terminology most people who support military action will already be quite familiar with and commonly used terms often used as justification for our own military action, the speech begins to allude to it’s intended message.  Mimicking this terminology in this context allows the audience to hear the message with fresh ears. Through allusion, Ron Paul effectively guides them to a place where they can more easily empathize with those who are hearing this from their own political leaders in countries where we have large military installations.

The speech continues to repeat “Imagine if . . “ at the beginning of each point.   We are asked to imagine situations where the soldiers in this fictitious military base act outside of our own laws and that the Constitution of the United States does not apply to them.  By using terminology that we are all familiar with from our history books about our own nation’s military victories against the British in the Revolutionary War, strong allusions are made that this is not so far from reality. That these soldiers could unintentionally make tactical mistakes with the intelligence they were given causing accidental deaths would almost certainly enrage Americans and unite them in wanting to forcefully rid this base from their soil.

“Imagine that those Americans were labeled terrorists or insurgents for their defensive actions, and routinely killed, or captured and tortured by the foreign troops on our land. Imagine that the occupiers’ attitude was that if they just killed enough Americans, the resistance would stop, but instead, for every American killed, ten more would take up arms against them, resulting in perpetual bloodshed.”

The audience would already be familiar with how our military behaves internationally and would have understood that if this same justification for military force were directed at Americans it would most certainly be distressful.  But by repeating the melodic phrase of “imagine if,” Ron Paul was able to continue to keep his audience’s minds open. That this was all just a thought experiment.  It’s all ok.  We are just imagining this.  Repeating this phrase kept his audience listening.  Conservatives at this time would not have responded well to direct and contentious criticism. They had gotten so used to the way were that any questioning was automatically met with terms like “Un-American” or “Un-Patriotic.   Ron Paul knew his audience, and by repeating the phrase “Imagine if” he was able to effectively introduce these new ideas where other rhetorical tools may not have worked.

After all of this imagining, we are asked to imagine one more thing.  What if the citizens in the foreign nation that is occupying us were unhappy and rose up together to elect someone who would remove those troops from this occupying base in our land and to “put an end to this horror”.  But then in what I consider this speech’s most powerful stroke: “Imagine if that leader changed his mind once he took office.”  It is clear now that “this leader” is an allusion to president Obama and that back in 2009, Ron Paul was correctly seeing that there was no actionable change taking place with our foreign policies.  That those people who had fought so hard to have Obama elected would have had little recourse but to consider the idea that they had been deceived.

By having us imagine what it would be like to have a foreign military base here within our nation’s borders using the same military doctrine we use for our troops internationally, Ron Paul’s speech powerfully used repetition and allusion to guide his audience into deep and meaningful self reflection.  To begin to bring into question the effectiveness of the current foreign policy at the time.  The speech poignantly illustrates why military action overseas may not work in the way it is pitched to us by our leaders.  Through this speech and others like it, Ron Paul was able to position these concepts as part of what it means to be a true Conservative.  With the rise in popularity of the Tea Party that directly stemmed from Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential run and currently is being lead in part by his son Rand Paul, it is no longer considered unpatriotic for conservatives to question our foreign policy.  Conservatives now see it as their duty to heatedly debate the merits of any military action and for empathy and context to be commonly used in these discussions.  We have Ron Paul’s message and legacy to thank for that.  He introduced a morality that was previously missing.  A soul.  Imagine if we could look back at this time of prolonged war from a period of prolonged peace and unquestionably see this period of time as an unfortunate mistake.

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Context?  I am taking a continuing education class at BYU and we were asked to do a Rhetorical analysis of a “famous” speech.  I decided to pick one of my favorite Ron Paul speeches.  The instructor gave me a grade of 92%.  I’m pretty happy with that.  My next paper is on the ill effects of the Farm Bill.  Stay tuned.

You can find the original speech here as well as an an animated version of the speech here on youtube.

2012
12.29

Stepping Stones

Since my divorce last year I have dated quite a bit. Looking back, I think a lot of the reasons for dating were not always in a quest to find someone new to be with. . . but more to fill the void that was missing. I cringe to think of the unfairness of what I was doing and the people I hurt in the process. I can only say sorry. :-(

Being married to my ex was very difficult at times but there was also a feeling of partnership that is very difficult to fill with friends and family alone. The women that have come in and out of my life have each taught me different things and I think back to them all as stepping stones that have brought me to where I am now. There were a lot of things that I have blamed on my ex that ended up being personal flaws in the way I treat relationships. Loyalty, priorities, parenting, focus, time management etc. All things that appear so easy for others, for some reason are difficult for me to remain consistent with.

I met a really wonderful woman a few months back that has probably helped me the most. She is a Social Worker so I think that gives her a vocabulary and perspective that others I have had relationships with in the past may not have had. I’m able to see things a bit more clearly now. My ability to work, focus, and just enjoy life is slowly coming back. I don’t think there is any way I’ll be able to fully erase all the pain and anguish surrounding my divorce and all the turmoil that caused to my daughter and I, but this at least feels like a chance at a fresh start. Something I think I can be good at. A partnership where things feel natural instead of forced. Where loyalties are not in constant question and where our faults can be discussed and worked on openly.

This beautiful woman has agreed to marry me. We don’t have a date set yet but I am so so happy that she has agreed to step into my life as a partner and I am going to step up to the plate so that we can have a long happy life together.

Aliah's Ring

2012
12.04

Hold the line

With all the changes in my life these past few years, things have been hard on Isabelle (my daughter). While she is doing well at school academically, her emotional growth seems to be a bit stunted. Lots of random tantrums, begging and nagging, not much going on in the personal cleanliness department etc. I haven’t really worried about it but a very good friend pointed out that we can only rise to the level expected of us. If we only expect our kids to achieve a certain level and love them unconditionally at any level then that is the level they will stay at. But if you expect more of your child then they will grow that much more than if my expectations for behavior, cleanliness, respect etc. were set lower. Little mind twist I know but I put it into practice this morning and it seemed to work. No more giving in. Ever. If I say something than that is what is expected. No number of tantrums or negotiating will change that. If a high level of behavior is not met then privileges will be revoked. No exceptions.

I know this will be hard on me now because it is just not in my nature to be like this but I hope that by doing now, it will make the life of my little one that much easier when she steps out into the real world and realizes her bag of tricks that she uses to get what she wants won’t work. . . but she knows what does.

2012
09.12

Fifty Dollars from Wells Fargo

Decided to take Wells Fargo up on on their offer to give me $50 to open up a new checking account. I don’t need one but. . . $50 is $50. I walked into the bank, sat down at the “new accounts” desk and said “give me $50!”. He laughed and just did it for me. Took about 15 minutes. At one point he told the other people in the bank what I had said and they all laughed as well. Hey I have no qualms about taking advantage of their offers. They have charged me so many fees over the years. . . feels good to get a little back. :-)

All I had to do was open a checking and savings account and put $100 into each. When the money clears and is in there for sure. . . I can withdraw it. No later than 45 days after the account opens I should see $50 in there. After that I’m free to withdraw that money and close the account. And then I guess wait a little while till they make me another offer. Muha ha ha ha!

Edit: I did the same a few weeks later and got $250 from Chase bank. Have had a few more offers but I’m scared it will start to get complicated with all these accounts floating around.

2012
09.12

Two accidents on the way to school

Isabelle and I got up early this morning so we could ride to school today. All was going well till we got to our very first intersection. Isabelle stopped at the crosswalk like she always does and hopped off her bike. Just as we looked up to see what the car situation was, there was a guy already stopped for us. Then BAM! This 350Z smashed right into the back of him. Took a moment for it all to sink in. . . but I saw that the guy in the 350Z was not getting out so I ran over and could see heaps of smoke inside so I yanked open the door. The poor guy was so upset and angry. I guess the “smoke” was the powder from the air bags. He hit HARD. But after a few moments he calmed down and got out of the car but then his car started rolling down the hill! I yelled “Put the hand break on!” so he hopped back in and got it stopped. After a few minutes the police arrived. I left my phone number with the guy who got hit and Isabelle and I headed to school again.

Well then on the next intersection there were a bunch of police cars and a fire engine that was just pulling away. Another little girl was there crying with blood coming down the side of her mouth. Apparently her scooter got clipped by a car and she got thrown off. We were super late at that stage and didn’t need to stay but. . . scary!

TWO accidents!

My theory? The sun had JUST come up over the mountain as Isabelle and I were pulling up to the intersection. It was bright. I think there must have been a few moments of disorientation as the sun was shining into people’s eyes through their rear view mirrors.

I’m also a little frustrated at the placement of the crosswalk right near my home. It is just over a hill so there is no way to see it from a distance. The first car that stopped was obviously an eagle eye. . . most people don’t stop. But he suffered from his diligence. The guy in the 350Z was not nearly as careful as he crested the hill. . . BAM. I would much rather that there was not a cross walk there at all. We as the pedestrians can see more clearly and safely cross when needed. No way I’m letting Isabelle cross that road on her own though. Crosswalks are not magic force fields. . .

Eventful morning! :-)

2012
09.07

My new home

So I am in the process of settling into a new home.  The previous owner was an older man who wasn’t a big fan of cleaning.  Or. . . for that matter taking his stuff with him when he moves.  There have been a lot of “treasures” that Isabelle and I have found.  Some pretty cool. . . like some vintage army equipment.  Bayonets, magazine clips full of bullets, hats etc.  

Most of it is just rubbish.  Hundreds and hundreds of tripple A maps.  I guess you can order them for free once you are a member and this old guy had QUITE an extensive collection.  That I don’t mind.  It is actually quite fun to go through.  It is the cleaning that is kind of getting to me.

Would have been nice to just be able to move in. . . but everything was covered in dust, dirt, dog hair and grime.  The water softener wasn’t working so hard water had built up in all the fixtures.  The carpets were filthy. . .

It is a bigger home.  5 bedrooms.  I have managed to get through three of them, the kitchen and one living room.  My Dad has come and helped a lot as well as a few friends and my Brother In Law.  THANK YOU!

I still haven’t totally done the bathrooms or storage room or . . . the garage.  I filled the four huge bins of crap a few days after we moved in and then another four on Tuesday.  The garage is still full.  :-(

I kind of feel sorry for the previous owner.  He was obviously getting on in years and was using hand written notes for everything.  It’s a good thing I am honest because I have found user names and passwords to all of his banking and investment accounts.  Yikes!

Isabelle’s room is totally done. . . thanks to a credit card hit at Ikea and a few days putting together furniture.  I kind of went all out.  She has glow in the dark stars on her ceiling, a pink sparkly canopy, a wall lamp, two dressers and a bed with slide out compartments for all her toys underneath.  She apparently loves it.  Sleeping alone has always been a problem for her but so far so good. . . she has slept alone every night we have been here so far.  Yay!

The kitchen is looking great as well.  I guess there was a lot of water damage a few years ago that forced them to upgrade because all the appliances are new.  The dishwasher is amazingly quiet, the stove is sweet. . . I love the easy to clean glass top. . . although Isabelle has already burnt her finders on it.   :-(  All of the cabinets were FILTHY.  And the fridge was gross.  But. . . all that is done now.  Very fun to cook in there.

I still don’t have any furniture . . . just some borrowed things from my parents and an old couch I had before I got married.  But I’m hoping to save and add to it as I go.

Overall I’m happy.  It’s a lot bigger than I would have wanted but very close to my parents so they can help with raising Isabelle.  Still a long way to go before I can feel totally comfortable in calling it my home but. . . it’s a start.  :-)

2012
08.23

My new CNG converted car

I found out about CNG as a fuel for cars a few months back and after a bit more reading decided to do it.  So now after a little bit of pain being without my car for two weeks. . . and a small chunk of change. . . I can now drive my car for less than half of what it cost me to run before.  $1.49 a gallon vs $3.50.

The good:

  • Very in-expensive to run.
  • Is supposed to greatly extend the life of my engine.
  • Feel good about putting far less CO2 in the air.
  • Feel good about using a domestically produced fuel.
  • Super long driving range with the two tanks.

The Bad:

  • Not quite as much power when you stomp your foot on the accelerator.
  • Engine makes a slightly more rattly sound.  Very slight.
  • Not very many CNG refueling stations around town.
  • Engine light on the car is now on all the time.
  • Cut my trunk space in half to fit the new tank.

The guys I had do my conversion are going to work with me on getting some of the little quirks in the system worked out.  So my system isn’t totally finished yet.  I think it is worth it though. . . especially considering what I’m saving in fuel costs will pay for this conversion in less than two years.  Very happy with it so far.

2012
08.22

This is very new for me.  I was very very skeptical.  BUT. . .  I was listening to an interview on KUER and they had a scientist on there named Richard A. Muller who did an amazing interview.  At least for me.

You see they had another scientist on there that has been advocating the climate change issues for over ten years and whenever this scientist would say something that was not accurate, Richard would shut him down.  It was quite hilarious actually.

“Hurricane Katrina demonstrated how intense these new . . . ” – Scientist

“No it does not.  Katrina was not evidence of global warming.  It was only a category three storm.  Katrina was tragic because the levies broke. . . it was no more intense a storm than ones before or after it.” – Richard.

“. . . . . ” – Scientist.

“The polar ice caps are melting at an alarming rate and this is CLEAR evidence. . . .” – Scientist.

“No it isn’t.  There are other times when this is happened in recorded history.  That is not scientific evidence of global warming.”  - Richard.

“. . . . . ” – Scientist.

What Richard says has converted him was him personally heading up a team that carefully examined all the evidence and eliminated variables that those with a more skeptical mind would propose.  Natural patterns in the sun?  He tracked those changes and overlay-ed them with the measurements of the earth’s temperature and there was no match.  Volcano eruptions.  Those had a dramatic impact BUT. . . their effects were short lived.  A few years after the eruption and things were back to normal.  When he looked at man made carbon dioxide increases for as far back as Thomas Jefferson. . . there was a match.  The more CO2 we put into the atmosphere . . . the warmer the earth gets.

So now. . . I’m a believer.  The more CO2 I personally put into the air. . . the worse I am making the problem.

Coincidentally . . . and ONLY for economic reasons. . . not because I am a tree huger. . . I decided to convert my car to be able to use CNG.  CNG puts a lot less CO2 into the atmosphere but more importantly for me,  I will be able to drive on fuel that costs $1.50 pre gallon instead of the $3.50 I pay per gasoline.   And it is for economic reasons that the amount of CO2 the United States as a whole is putting out has reduced rather sharply.

I personally believe the religious zealousness around global warming to be very VERY counter productive.  People are not going to drown by the thousands.  Why?  Because people have FEET!  When the ocean levels raise. . . and they will. . . people will move.  They will go from where there is flooding to where there isn’t.  And we also have ways of reversing global warming that if bad enough. . . could be implemented.  Geo-engineering I think it is called.  So while I am now a firm believer that man made global warming is real. . . I’m not panicked about it.  I believe so long as our government stays out of industry. . .

Oh wait.  Crap.  They are giving huge oil subsidies and continually bailing out car companies that make SUVs and building roads.  Hmm.  Well. . . all the more reason to vote for small government!  Green Party!  Libertarian Party!  ;-)

2012
08.21

Google Wallet

My phone is a Nexus S 4G which happens to be one of the few phones Google supports with their awesome “wallet” app.  Ever since I found out about it I quickly fell in love with this technology.

Nexus S 4G

What is it?

Well it is an application on your phone that ties into your credit card and allows you to purchase things using your phone.  Your credit card never has to come out of your wallet.  You hand your item you want to purchase to the store clerk, and hold your phone over the credit card machine and the app launches.  It then asks you to enter your pin code for the app. . . you do that. . . hold the phone over the credit card machine again and you’re done!  Nothing to sign, you have an electronic receipt of your transaction right on your phone so you can see details of what you have purchased instead of what you get from the credit card company which is just an amount and the name of the store.  With the latest update I can utilize all of my credit and debit cards.  So if I am making a business transaction I pick that card, just a personal item, I use my debit card.  Something larger. . . Credit card.  So so awesome.

Someone Using Google Wallet

The looks on the store clerk’s faces as it is happening is pretty funny as well.

There are some draw backs though.  There are a LOT of installed “paypass” machines out there, but a lot of those just simply don’t work. . . and you look like an idiot standing there with your phone over the machine with nothing happening.  I’m sure that will improve in time but the trail and error of which machines work and which ones don’t is rather frustrating.  Especially for anyone behind you in line.  Most 7-11 gas stations work.  Every McDonalds I have been too has worked.  CVS Pharmacy’s work.  Walgreens do NOT work. . . even though their machines say they do. . . The little grocery store down the road, Day’s. . . worked once.  Hasn’t worked since.  A lot of the shops at University Mall in Orem have them installed but. . . I don’t really have anything to buy there so I can’t confirm if they work or not.

Nexus being used as a credit card

So. . . yea.  I love it.  Can’t wait till it is more widely accepted.  There are new credit cards that are coming out that will allow me to use Bitcoins as well.  I will FOR SURE be signing up for that.  The day I can buy a candy bar from my phone using a non fiat currency. . . will be one geeky day indeed.

2012
08.21

Setuptab

I tend to not play very well with others when it comes to my work.  When I work in a team environment I have a hard time knowing when to forge ahead and when to shut up and execute what I have been told to do in a way that I think they are expecting.  So often I work with people who have no idea what it is that I do, how I do it, how long it takes me etc.  Trying to explain it is usually fairly futile.  ”Bottom line it for me.”  It is exhausting.  For them and for me.  One of the main reasons I loved working on Setuptab is that it allows me to do what I love to do and I get out of it roughly proportionally about what I put into it.  I can explore, challenge myself, show off, learn, grow, make friends etc.  I love it.

It was very frustrating to me when things went south.  My ex pulled the plug on the main Setuptab file server and I was so insanely busy with my job in Florida that I couldn’t get it back up.  A healthy dose of being majorly depressed from my recent divorce didn’t help in me finding a solution either.  When the job finished and I was able to catch up on sleep. . .  I managed to have the server hosted at a company in Texas called Virtbiz.  Then for a few days I just plucked away at it till slowly the old services were restored.  email, file, ftp etc.

So now. . . Setuptab is back up for business.  It appears that I have lost a lot of good members along the way. . . but I’m hoping that there is enough still there to lay a good foundation to what I know is coming from pmG.  (fingers crossed).