We post a lot of links to news or opinion pieces here, we embed video, and we make references to things that other people have reported or said, and that's fine - I do it too. But what is most valuable are your own words and thoughts. It is wrong to believe that something is not valid until it has been published by a publication that some people might consider credible, or in a peer-reviewed scientific or academic journal. That's a lie that they want you to believe in order to persuade you to let someone else do your thinking for you. That's not true in life, and it shouldn't be true here. Your thoughts, stated in your words, these are the most valuable posts that any forum can hope for, and I'd love to see more of it here. If your thoughts are stirred by some news event, or by something that you have read somewhere, by all means, post a link, but if you don't have anything to say about it yourself then why would you think the rest of us would want to talk about it? In the political part of the forum, if you have nothing to say that isn't parroting the party line of whatever team you've decided to belong to, then you don't really have anything to say. I don't care if you're a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian, a Socialist, a Communist, a Constitutionalist, or if you believe that the government is being run by lizard people, your thoughts are valuable. If I were interested in the talking points of whatever political party you may have enrolled in, I could get that from them. I don't belong to any political party and haven't since 2012, and then I only enrolled as a Republican in order to vote for Ron Paul in the primary. I hate Republicans, as a political party. Most of them don't believe a word of what they campaign on and don't even pretend to try to keep any of the promises they made on the campaign trail. At least a quarter of Republicans in office would be Democrats if they thought they could be elected as a Democrat. Republicans are most comfortable as a minority because then they can get in front of the cameras and blame everything on the Democrats, without anyone expecting them to be able to accomplish anything themselves. I generally vote Republican because Democrats are just flat out on the wrong side. Given a dispute between the United States and any other country, Democrats will side with the other country every time - unless it's Israel, and that's because the only thing Democrats hate more than America are Jews. Democrats are a far greater threat to our nation than Russia and China combined. Politically, I would fall more in line with the Constitution Party, and I once headed the Constitution Party of Maine. However, the Constitution Party is never even on the ballot in Maine, and when they do run a candidate for office, it's usually a Republican who didn't think he would win the primary as a Republican. As for the Libertarian Party, their only purpose for existence is to elect Democrats. Until people get fed up enough with both the Republicans and the Democrats, none of the other political parties matter. All they do is siphon votes from one of the two legitimate candidates. Trump wasn't my first choice in 2016, and I didn't re-enroll as a Republican in order to vote for him in the primary. I don't think a candidate has ever existed who I would agree with one hundred percent of the time. I didn't vote for GW Bush's second term, and I didn't vote for either McCain or Romney. That's where I stand politically. This is not a thread for us to be arguing politics, however. I would love to hear, in your own words, where you are politically, but in the political part of the forum. I am mentioning it here because I am the administrator of this forum, and people keep talking about how this is a Republican forum or a conservative forum, and that pisses me off sometimes. First of all, I am just one person in the forum, and I am not a Republican. Am I a conservative? I don't know. That would depend on what it is that you're talking about. Certainly, I wish we would have conserved a sense of ethics, morality, common sense, and lawfulness that we have let go by the wayside over the years, but I certainly don't want to conserve the state of our nation's ethics, morality, common sense, or lawfulness as it is right now. What does "conservative" mean, anyhow? Being a conservative means something different in the United States than it does in some other countries, I think. Even here, we don't have a commonly accepted definition of the term. Some people believe that conservatives are people who are in favor of endless wars, and who oppose abortion but love the death penalty, but who would nevertheless refer to themselves as pro-life. I am pro-life, but I am in favor of it in all of its stages. Others believe that conservative is synonymous with Republican, and would refer to people like Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell as conservatives. If I had to choose between Paul Ryan or Hillary Clinton, I'd rather shoot myself in the head. We throw a lot of terms around and even adopt them to describe ourselves, without any appreciation for what they mean. Even in this forum, I would guess that we'd have several different working definitions as to the definitions of conservative, liberal, progressive, libertarian, and so on. I refer to working definitions because anyone can look a word up in the dictionary, but the dictionary definition is rarely the one we use when we assign a political label to someone. This is not a conservative forum, and it is certainly not a Republican forum. I don't care what your political views are so long as you are stating your political views, rather than parroting talking points. I may disagree with them because I participate here as a human being with views of my own, but any political views are welcome here, and I don't think I am the only one here who would welcome having a political discussion with anyone here, but it's annoying to find that I am trying to carry on a discussion with some propaganda rag rather than with an actual person. I could probably get an AI program to insert the talking points but I'd rather talk to a real person. Moving on from politics, I don't often listen to someone talking from behind a pulpit for more than fifteen minutes before I find that I disagree with something that has been said or, more likely, it's not so much a disagreement as it is something that I haven't found to be persuasive. I am a Christian, and I don't doubt my Christianity, but that doesn't mean that I am necessarily going to agree with someone just because they're speaking from behind a pulpit. I've been behind a pulpit, so I know better than that. The fact that some pastor is wrong about something discredits him, not the Bible and, most often, it's not even a discredit to him, given that we are all fallible. I consider it a discredit to the man behind the pulpit only when he is deliberately wrong, or when he has little interest in being right. I have a pretty good idea as to what I believe in when it comes to my Christianity, and central is the firm belief that I could be wrong. When I feel the need to use a label, I say that I am an Anabaptist because I chose that before I ever even met an Anabaptist. But since Anabaptists don't all believe the same things, neither do I. Throughout the centuries, many learned Bible scholars have contradicted one another, and that began even before they closed the canon. Does that discredit the Bible? Because we cannot be sure what was intended by one passage or another, does this mean that the Bible has no value? Of course not. The Bible is fairly clear about the important things, and I don't think anyone is going to hell because they misunderstood one part of it or another, as long as they are honest errors. But then, I'm not sure about that either, so it's best not to take chances. When it comes to errors that were made intentionally in order to excuse sin, or to avoid doing something that you don't want to do, or because someone thinks their ideas are more valid than God's, I am pretty sure that God will view that more harshly than He would an honest misunderstanding, and I strongly suspect that some mainstream Christian denominations have gone down that path. But that's for God to decide. If they want to call themselves Christians, it's not for me to dispute it. This is not the thread to discuss religion either, but if you'd like to tell us what you really believe in the part of the forum that has been set aside for that, I'd love it. In fact, whatever it is that you want to discuss, that's what this forum is all about. Tell us what you think and why. Post links if you have to but please remember that your own words and thoughts are far more valuable than any of the experts you might be tempted to refer to. You'll come across things from time to time that you might want to share with the rest of us, and that's fine. Of course, there is a place for links to news articles in the news section of the forum, but what does that news item mean to you? Sometimes someone else has put something in a way that you find interesting, or that might make your argument for you, and that's okay. I do that, and I will continue to do that. But please don't let the experts do your thinking or your talking for you. This is a discussion forum, and I'd rather discuss things with real people than with talking points or with highly edited opinion pieces in a partisan rag.