The events of the past week have been nerve-racking or breathtaking depending upon your perspective.

The two cases in point that this writer is referencing are first and foremost the Mr. and Mrs. Ray and Janay Palmer-Rice domestic violence incident that gripped our nation; this event was a tragic and catastrophic event.

The second nationwide occurrence revolved around the President of the United States delivering a passionate speech with regards to the future actions that the United States of America (USA) would take with regards to pursuing, frustrating, and defeating the Islamic States of Iraq and Syria – commonly referred to as ISIS.

Due to constraints on time and space the events concerning our President and ISIS will have to wait until next week’s column.

As this journalist pondered both events with sympathy and sorrow, he found himself asking himself the following question:  “How Do We Know?

Yes, “how do we know?”

By this the question of the moment is refined to ask, “How do we know that what Ray Rice did to his wife was wrong or right?”

This is not a theoretical or abstract question.

Please stay with this writer a little longer before you decide to in the words of the late Harvard professor Timothy Leary to either “tune in or tune out” – “fade in or fade out” with regards to the points being expressed.

The question “how do we know?” is meant to provoke us into an ongoing conversation with regards to how do we determine the proper “ethical” and “moral” responses to the choices that we as humans make.

Is this enterprise even possible?

Too often in our culture we hear pundits, news reporters and journalists, teachers – and people on social media proclaim that there are no such thing as moral absolutes.  The saying in our common vernacular is that “what I do or say is okay as long as it does not adversely or negatively affect you.”  In other words, we proclaim, “Live and Let Live!

Now one of the consequences – blessing or curse if you prefer – to being somewhat trained in the disciplines of Political Science, Philosophy (logic), and Theology is that one is taught to always go one or two steps deeper to question the fundamental premises for the arguments that are put forth by individuals.

The question that this writer would ask is this – “how do you know that your actions do not hurt, harm, or hamper the emotional, physical, or spiritual state of the people around you?”  In short, with regards to the Ray and Janay Palmer-Rice episode why are we as a nation outraged regarding what transpired?

Are we upset simply because Ray Rice is a professional football player of tremendous size and strength and therefore he should never strike a woman?

Are we upset because of the way that we saw Janay Rice fall to the ground with incredible speed and force (as a father of a daughter this man found himself getting sick to his stomach as he watched and re-watched Janay knocked unconscious.  Still even worse was that fact that there was no apparent remorse on Ray Rice’s face in the elevator)?

Question:  Why do we /I feel such outrage?

Perhaps some people may say that she – Janay Palmer-Rice – should not have argued or stayed with such a violent man.

(Please forgive the sports analogy but Monday morning quarterbacking and second guessing of human choices is always relatively easy.  Domestic violence never admits of easy answers).

The late and great Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky had one of his characters proclaim the following sentence in his classic novel “Crime and Punishment”:  “IF THERE IS NO GOD THEN THERE ARE NO RULES!

This is an interesting proposition by Dostoyevsky.

What does he mean by this?

Our Judeo-Christian heritage (1607 to the 1930s) teaches us in the book of Genesis the following mysterious truth about the relationship between a man and a woman; let us pick up on the scene in The Garden of Eden as Adam is fellowshipping with The Creator of the Universe (Genesis 2.20-25).

20 The man gave names to all the tame animals, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be a helper suited to the man.

21 So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.

22 The LORD God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman. When he brought her to the man, 23 the man said:

“This one, at last, is bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

This one shall be called ‘woman,’

for out of man this one has been taken.”

24  That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.

25 The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame” (The New American Bible – Revised Edition NABRE).

Traditionally, it was understood that GOD as The Father of Mankind presented His Daughter to Adam with the understanding that Adam would protect, provide, and nourish the Spiritual, Mental, and Physical well-being of the Woman being entrusted to him.

The noted Psychiatrist Dr. M. Scott Peck wrote in his seminal work The Road Less Traveled that his definition of “love” is “the willingness to extend oneself for the purpose of nourishing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.

Adam was expected to extend himself for both his and Eve’s benefit.

But Wait!

If non-theistic evolutionary history is true (Natural Selection) then this story is simply a myth that has no bearing on how men and women should relate to each other.

But Wait!

If certain aspects of Feminist-Theology are true, then this mythical event is simply a power play by men to keep women under subjection.

But wait!

You see if all ethical choices are relative and if the only thing that we should concern ourselves with is “whether or not the personal actions of a person adversely affect someone else” then my friends, we have NO RIGHT TO CONDEMN THE ACTIONS OF RAY RICE and say that THEY ARE WRONG!

If there is not a “Transcendent” or “Objective” point of reality that determines the validity of the moral / ethical choices that we make, then what we are left with is nothing less than emotional and moral sentiments which are not binding upon ourselves or upon anyone else in society.

Why?  Because then might makes right or what the majority says or does becomes the governing standard.

Morality is then determined on the basis what 50% plus 1 of our nation’s people may feel at a given moment – classic Utilitarianism.

Yes, Fyodor Dostoevsky clearly had it right when he wrote that “if there is No GOD then there are no rules!

As uncomfortable as this may make us feel, we actually owe an incalculable debt of gratitude to the Rice family for making us Stop, Pause, Commiserate, and Reflect upon what type of people (USA) that we are and what type of people we wish to be.

Dear reader of this column:  what do you think?

Your responses are most welcome.

Next week we will ponder the second nerve-racking or breathtaking event that transpired this week concerning President Obama’s decision to pursue, thwart, and hunt down the terrorist group known as ISIS.

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

According to many Obama supporters, pretty much all criticism of Obama is racist; you can add the New York Times, that arm of the VRWC (Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy) to the racist list: Today they have Bruce Ackerman in the op-ed page,
Obama’s Betrayal of the Constitution

PRESIDENT OBAMA’s declaration of war against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria marks a decisive break in the American constitutional tradition. Nothing attempted by his predecessor, George W. Bush, remotely compares in imperial hubris.

That was the opening salvo; Ackerman ends with,

He is acting on the proposition that the president, in his capacity as commander in chief, has unilateral authority to declare war.

In taking this step, Mr. Obama is not only betraying the electoral majorities who twice voted him into office on his promise to end Bush-era abuses of executive authority. He is also betraying the Constitution he swore to uphold.

You could argue, as some of the NYT commenters, that Obama has not declared that the U.S. is going to war against a nation, just that “We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.”

Whatever that means.

For now, Obama’s sending only “an additional 475 servicemembers to Iraq,” but “these American forces will not have a combat mssion” to fight “terrorists [who] are unique in their brutality.”

John Kerry assures us it’s not war, “it is a major counter-terrorism operation.” David Corn calls it a “nuanced war”.

I guess that explains why the Turks, the Germans, and the Brits are not joining in Obama’s broad coalition of partners. Germany will provide support to the Kurds, but Germany and the UK won’t be providing airpower for American airstrikes. They are not nuanced enough.

Then there’s Obama’s line, delivered with a distinct lack of affect, about

This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.

Yemen and Somalia, two failed, strategically marginal, states, with active untamed insurgencies, while, as Dr. Krauthammer points out,

The Islamic State controls a vast territory in the heart of oil-rich Mesopotamia, threatening everything of importance in the Middle East.

How will this glaring mismatch of ends and means all turn out? As Pete put it,

This is by design because no matter what President Obama and the Democrats say, the only way to beat ISIS is boots on the ground and they know it. However they are determined to avoid that responsibility.

Richard Fernandez is gloomy, “My own view on the matter can be summarized in a word: Libya. Libya on a gigantic scale.”

Clearly, the Islamic State is Islamic. What is not clear is whether the Commander in Chief realizes that the Constitution does not grant him unilateral authority to declare war . . . because, nuanced or not, war is war.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s blog.

Mr. Carter: Please, please can we call it a “tallywhacker”?

Porky’s 1982

We talked a bit about the motivations concerning the Barack Obama version decision to “destroy” ISIS, however John Kerry seems to be unclear on the method:

Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that the United States is not at war with ISIS despite bombing them and pledging to “destroy” the terrorist group, in President Obama’s words. “If somebody wants to think about it as being a war with ISIL [the administration’s name for ISIS] they can do so, but the fact is that it’s a major counter-terrorism operation,” Kerry told CNN.

Apparently we are going to kill them with kindness.

We’ve also been told that the administration is going to build a coalition to fight ISIS, however…

An airstrike campaign in Syria won’t have Germany’s support, and Turkey said it will only cooperate in humanitarian missions in the fight against the Islamic State as U.S. allies weighed in Thursday on President Barack Obama’s plan to “degrade and destroy” the militant group.

Well at least we can be sure that England will be right behind us right?

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told reporters at a news conference in Berlin: “Let me be clear: Britain will not be taking part in any airstrikes in Syria.” He said London won’t be “revisiting” the issue after Parliament decided last year against participating in airstrikes.

But a spokesman for Cameron’s office contradicted that position, saying Cameron had in fact not ruled out action related to the Islamic State group. A spokesman insisted Hammond was referring to a Parliament vote last year opposing airstrikes against President Bashar Assad’s regime.

British lawmakers are asking Cameron to clarify the government’s position and why there appeared to be a disparity between the politicians.

The last time we went to war or whatever the hell this is, without the brits behind us you have to go back to Vietnam & before that the Spanish-American War of 1898, but there are a few people behind us:

Ten Arab states have pledged to join the U.S. in its campaign to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, while some American allies in Europe are less eager to sign up to fight.

The agreement came out of talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and regional leaders in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In addition to Saudi Arabia, the coalition includes Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

Now we don’t know if this means troops from any of these guys but I suspect ISIS isn’t quaking in its boots over the mighty Bahraini army.

Of course given that we’re committed to not actually sending troops into combat it will be interesting to see how many armies are willing to heed an Obama call to “Go” rather than the call of a leader to “follow”.

And of course there is President Obama’s promise to go to the UN which I suspect is not going to turn out well, wither in the security council with a Russian & Chinese vetoes at the ready or in the general assembly.

In the end all of this will take a lot of time and if anything happens it will be a while. This is by design because no matter what President Obama and the Democrats say, the only way to beat ISIS is boots on the ground and they know it. However they are determined to avoid that responsibility . Barack Obama is going to make sure the timeline of this “war” / “anti-terror action” / “tallywhacker” will be sure that the president who has to make that decision isn’t him.

If I’m John Boehner I bring up a war resolution tomorrow and make sure the vote takes place within a week and send it to the Senate and make every single Democrat up for re-election in 2014 & 2016 decide, do they want to destroy ISIS or not?