Tag Archives: 2012 elections

Remembering the Aftermath of the 2012 Election: A Time for Christian Self Reflection

The Religious Right on Wednesday Morning

I wrote on a number of occasions before the election that my hope was the no matter who won this election that somehow we would be able as Americans to come together for the benefit of the country.

What really amazes me in the aftermath is the the fact that people that are not religious, especially those that do not identify themselves as members of the Christian Right, regardless of their who they supported for the Presidency are far more civil and reflective than religious people. Especially conservative Christians.

Actually what amazes me is not that right wing religious leaders have reacted in this manner. I expected it. But I was amazed in just how right that I was right in knowing that they would react in the way that they did to the defeat of Mitt Romney. A man that before he was nominated by the GOP was despised by most of the religious right. Mitt was a Mormon, a religious cult member and even worse than that a Massachusetts moderate. But he won the nomination in spite of their often strident opposition.

So now leaders of the religious right are apoplectic at have committed their entire credibility to support a candidate that lost an election that was not possible to lose. So instead of looking at themselves, their actions, words and attitudes that were a part of the defeat of their candidate in an election that most figured was impossible for a Republican to lose the point fingers of blame elsewhere.

It was the candidate’s fault…

It was Chris Christie’s fault…

It was Hurricane Sandy’s fault… but then if it was Sandy’s fault, and hurricanes are “acts of God” doesn’t it mean that Obama’s re-election and Mitt’s defeat was God’s will?

It was Obama suppressing the vote, except that the only people working to suppress the vote were Republican operatives, elected officials and strategists…

But to tell the truth it is their own fault. They forced Governor Romney to have to adopt their most extreme social positions to get their support, positions that he had never stridently held and in fact as a governor did not endorse. They helped put people on the ballot who simply were to be kind are best described “stupid, hateful and ignorant” of theology, history, government and economics, not to mention medicine, science, philosophy, sociology, economics and any other academic discipline.

So when I watched the men who helped send the Republican party to its doom in the 2012 election, men like James Robison, Pat Robertson, Mike Huckabee, Bryan Fischer, Gary Bauer, Buster Wilson, Tony Perkins, Eric Rush, Franklin Graham, Glenn Beck and a host of others point fingers of blame everywhere besides themselves I was not surprised. The fact that these men, and some women as well cannot see that their heavily publicized and funded positions helped destroy their candidate and party, but also have harmed the church for at least the next generation was not surprising.

The fact that rather than work with those that do not agree with them they would rather have the world judged by their version of God is telling. They are like the Taliban, except they do not get to wear the loose fitting comfortable clothes but are stuck with Armani suits and power ties.

So when I woke up on Wednesday morning after the election and over the next couple of days shut my trap and listened, I realized that the leaders of the religious right have no capability to think critically or have any sense of personal self reflection. They cannot even imagine that they might actually be at fault for their sorry predicament. They would have been great in the Bunker with Hitler, who when confronted with facts that said they they were losing the war and that it was their fault, blamed others and sought scapegoats. They could not believe that they lost and even in losing could not own up to their part.

It was embarrassing to watch because at one time I would have been one of them. It as embarrassing because as I looked and listened to the reactions of “conservative” religious leaders I realized that they were convinced of their own rightness as were those that opposed Jesus.

I had someone ask me if I was “happy” about the election. Their comments were quite sarcastic and bitter. Actually while I am somewhat pleased about the outcome, I am not happy about it because I live in the reality that no-matter which candidate “won” the election” that they need the support of all of us if we as a country and people to navigate the great challenges ahead and I don’t know if it will happen.

What concerns me as a Christian is that the better examples of attempting to find ways to bring the country together and get through the certainly difficult days ahead where people who were not Evangelicals or other religious conservatives.

The lack of understanding of “Christian” leaders about their own responsibility in this fiasco is had to understand unless you understand that most of them sold their souls for political and temporal power long ago. For years I followed their utterances and recited them verbatim. But that was before I went to Iraq and found out that they had been lying for years and I had chosen to ignore the evidence.

Hopefully responsible Christians and Christian leaders will take some time to reflect on their own responsibility for this mess rather than to continue to double down on the dumb-down that has discredited them.

But then I still believe that God still cares about everyone and that God cannot and will not be held hostage by any religious leader, denomination or community. Somehow the fact that the early church grew and thrived in a hedonistic, materialistic and hostile world shows me that this is certainly true. They had no power, had no wealth and were persecuted in ways that we as 21st Century Americans or Western Europeans will never comprehend.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under News and current events, Political Commentary, Religion

The Night Before the Election to Nowhere…Or Maybe Not

 

“It is something great and greatening to cherish an ideal; to act in the light of truth that is far-away and far above; to set aside the near advantage, the momentary pleasure; the snatching of seeming good to self; and to act for remoter ends, for higher good, and for interests other than our own.” Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

After nearly 20 months of unrelenting campaigning, electioneering, political spin and abject hatred and lies the 2012 General Election is upon us. It is hard to believe that regardless of who wins the election that in under 48 hours the 2016 race for the White House will begin as will the 2014 Congressional mid-term races. If you liked all the division and hatred of the past tow years, actually four years if you want to get technical then you will love what happens next.

Actually you probably won’t love it, that is just a euphemism to say that you will hate it. You see what probably happens tomorrow is that regardless of who wins the Presidency that we will still have a deeply divided government. The Democrats will most likely keep the Senate, maybe thanks to some of the idiots that the GOP is running may even pick up seats. Likewise though the GOP will probably retain control of the House they may lose seats. So if Romney wins he will have less power in the Congress and if Obama wins he may actually have more leverage.

The truth is that in such a situation we can either continue the gridlock and eventually implode as a nation or we can make the painful decision that we have to work together in order to save the country. That is a hard decision for people who have invested themselves in doing everything they can to win at all costs. The sad thing is that there are a lot of people in this country that really don’t care anymore, it is either their way or the highway, so they will do anything that they can to ensure that people can’t vote or to delegitimatize the opposition.

It is really a dreadful state of affairs that we have found ourselves in. The economy is still not doing that well, we have much of our military committed to a war that cannot be won in Afghanistan even as some American leaders seek out new wars for American troops to die in, wars that they or their children will never have to serve. Wars that Marine Corps General Smedley Butler called a “racket” in which only the war profiteers profit from. Religious zealots led by men like David Barton, Ralph Reed and Glenn Beck seek to establish a theocracy that the Taliban would be proud to call their own.

I would hope that whoever wins the election that somehow Americans can overcome the poisonous atmosphere of the past four years which unfortunately has been germinating for more than 20 years. The sad thing is that both parties have had a lot to do with the situation as they have prostituted themselves to business and other special interests, economic, social and even religious. Few have worked for reconciliation and those of moderate leanings have been marginalized by the extremists.

To think that tomorrow’s election will change that calculous is a fantasy. I really don’t know what it will take to change the political climate. I know what needs to happen. I also know that on November 7th the Politicians, Pundits and Preachers, the Unholy Trinity that support the destruction of the country for the sake of their agendas and their profits will continue to attempt to divide the rest of us to the best of their ability. But it doesn’t have to be that way…

The key to ending this fratricide is to stop the idiocy. On November 7th regardless of who wins start respecting each other and working together. One thing that our system was revered around the world for was that in spite of differences for the most part we could find ways to get through events and crisis that have destroyed other countries. However, if we don’t start working together we will destroy this country and it will be all of our fault.

Abraham Lincoln understood this when in in his Second Inaugural Address in the closing days of our bloody and terrible Civil War he spoke these words:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

So until tomorrow…

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Baseball Season is Over and Only 5 days until the 2016 Presidential Campaign Begins

It breaks your heart.  It is designed to break your heart.  The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”  A. Bartlett Giamatti, “The Green Fields of the Mind,” Yale Alumni Magazine, November 1977

“This country has gotten where it is in spite of politics, not by the aid of it. That we have carried as much political bunk as we have and still survived shows we are a super nation.” Will Rogers

Well my friends it is with heavy heart that I have to admit that the 2012 baseball season is over. Not that I was disappointed at all with the results. My three favorite teams all made the playoffs, the San Francisco Giants, the Baltimore Orioles and the Oakland Athletics. Likewise the fact that the Giants won the World Series added a special touch to the season. However, the 2012 baseball season as it must passed into history and the off season began with player awards as well as trades and other transactions as is the custom.

Back in the spring I shared that baseball would help get me through the 2012 elections and it has. Though the season ended last Sunday night which left nine days before the 2012 Presidential and Congressional General elections I have so far survived. I am not as sure about the country but I have survived and no matter who wins the coming election I know two things that are a certainty:

That the 2013 Baseball season will begin on March 31st with a Sunday Night game and that “Opening Day” will take place on April 1st, with a very non-traditional twist as the Cincinnati Reds play an inter-league game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim California or whatever they call themselves this year. Likewise the 2016 Presidential Campaign will begin 0n November 7th regardless of which candidate wins the 2012 election when Newt Gingrich declares himself as a candidate against a to be announced Democrat or primary opponent to Mitt Romney who if he wins the Presidency, Gingrich will abandon for not fulfilling his campaign promises before the last vote is counted.  That won’t be hard because Romney has campaigned on all sides of every issue at one time or another and to say that he has failed to live up to any particular promise will not be hard for Gingrich, Rick Santorum or any other Presidential wannabe to do.

So rest assured my friends be you fans of the American League or National League, Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians or Independents that on November 7th life will go on. Even for Cubs fans. Of course the one election not being talked about is the Baseball Hall of Fame election scheduled for December with the results to be announced in January 2013. That is an election  that I am waiting to hear the results.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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It’s Not Lies It’s Bullshit: American Politics and Political Campaigns in 2012

“A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues.” Theodore Roosevelt

“Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live.” Franklin Roosevelt

There are under 30 days left until the people of the Untied States elect a new President, a new House of Representatives and one third of the US Senate. The one thing that has stuck me about most of the politics of this election season have been the mind numbing smallness, pettiness and lack of transparency shown by candidates across the spectrum. For me the issue is less about political party or even the candidates that are running in this election but a divide in the electorate that has become almost pathological. Neither the partisans of the extreme right or extreme left will budge on their particular agendas and have succeeded in dividing the country as we have not seen in our lifetimes.

I have these times when lost in thought I imagine what it was like to have truly great political leaders in this country and inWestern Europe.  It just seems to me that those that we have entrusted with the reigns of government and those that aspire to the highest office in this country are perhaps the most pathetic, small minded, petty thin skilled and visionless that this country has ever produced.  I do not see a great leader such as Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan in the lot of them.  As for the women that aspire to lead this country I see no Margaret Thatcher or Golda Meir among them.  In fact I don’t even see any truly skilled politicians like Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon out there.

I guess I say this because the whole lot of them seem to spend a lot more time campaigning for office even while in office than they actually spend working with their allies and political adversaries to do the right thing even if it goes against their ideology.  Lord knows that our political philosophy is important, but ideology, especially when it become sacrosanct is more than a philosophy of how our leaders should govern it is a set of shackles that binds them to one course of action, one set of beliefs and to the masters that they are beholden.

Campaigning is actually a lot easier than leading or governing because now days it has very little to do with substance or personal qualifications or achievement it simple means that suck up to people that have money and power better than others.  When politicians do that either by supporting one special interest or another without qualification they fail to honor the oath that they took when they entered office.  When the pledge their fealty to a certain cause or position regardless of its actual merits such as the Left has done with its pet constituencies and the Right is unabashedly doing as Presidential candidates sign pledges committing them to do what certain interest groups dictate they show that they are willing to prostitute themselves and their office to those interest groups.

Since our political class lives in constant campaign mode why should we expect them to actually take a risk and do something for the benefit of the country once they are elected?  They obviously don’t feel any need to otherwise as they would be taking risks to try to build with what we have at hand to save the country even the risk of not being elected or reelected.  The great Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said “I can honestly say that I was never affected by the question of the success of an undertaking. If I felt it was the right thing to do, I was for it regardless of the possible outcome.”  That is what our leaders need to be saying and doing now.

It seems that those campaigning for the highest office in the land are spineless crybabies.  Yogi Berra once said “All pitchers are liars or crybabies” well I think we can say that “All politicians are liars or crybabies” and be right on target.  I was amazed when I watched coverage of the great Iowa Imbecile Debate and Straw Poll this weekend and in the weeks leading up to this.  It was like watching a bunch of spoiled children calling each other names and then getting mad and crying when they got asked questions that they don’t want to answer accusing those that ask of asking “gotcha” questions.  When caught in obvious contradictions in regard to their campaign rhetoric and what they really do they lie or make excuses.  I watched the movie The Blues Brothers Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) tells his brother Jake “It wasn’t a lie it was bullshit” and I thought about our politicians in office and on the campaign trail.

They are a humorless lot who when you come right down to it have their every whim catered to and surround themselves with “yes” men and women.  This has to be true because if they had one person of true character and honesty that would have the unmitigated courage to say “What the fuck? Over” we might actually see them dealing with the real issues of our day; war, massive unemployment, a currency crisis decaying infrastructure and educational standards not to even mention the debt. John F. Kennedy said something that resonates today “A nation which has forgotten the quality of courage which in the past has been brought to public life is not as likely to insist upon or regard that quality in its chosen leaders today – and in fact we have forgotten.”

Somehow it seems that none of our current leaders or those running for their party’s nomination to the highest office in the land has the gravitas to stand by their word or the character to lay aside differences to work with their opponents to actually do something positive for once.  I cannot remember the last time that any of our leaders have done this except when they cobble together massive bills which sometimes have sections of questionable Constitutional legality that none have ever read before the President signs them into law. That’s not leadership, which is not wisdom, that is not foresight and that is not vision. That is cowardice masked in legislative accomplishment.  Theodore Roosevelt said “A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything real on real issues.”

Unfortunately most of us are more interested in seeing our interests and agendas advanced no matter what we say.  After all we elect these men and women time after time and in our hyper-polarized body politic we would sacrifice the country to get our guys, whoever they are elected.  Ideology, political preservation and even religious dogma substitute for reason and personal courage in our world and we are paying for it.

Unfortunately I have no answers on how to solve this except that as a nation we need to start thinking big again to start actually believing in this country. We need to work together like we haven’t since John F. Kennedy challenged us to put men on the moon in under a decade.  The challenges are for the taking but our leaders have to be men and women of character and courage to take them up and a population willing to commit to “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty”

I actually think that John F. Kennedy said what we need to be doing now better than almost anyone I can imagine because what he said cuts to the heart of our present political crisis.  “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”

I think that we can turn things around but we will have to stop the current political fratricide in order to do so.  We have to take responsibility for the future even as we clean up the mess that we have made in the past.  If we don’t we are going to suffer even worse consequences than we are experiencing now.  The stakes are great and the question is will we rise to the occasion?

God help us,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under History, laws and legislation, News and current events, Political Commentary

Doing the Sidestep: The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and American Politics and Media

After the past week of seriousness I have decided to take a night off of the news and even away from ESPN before driving to see Judy tomorrow for the long weekend. After watching a couple episodes of 30 Rock and walking and playing with Molly I decided to watch a couple of more light hearted movies.

The first was The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas a classic musical comedy from 1982 starring Dolly Parton, Burt Reynolds, Dom Deluise, Jim Neighbors and Charles Durning as the Governor.  Based on the real life closing of the Chicken Ranch brothel near LeGrange Texas in 1973 I have always liked it.  The music is nice to relax to and I find the social commentary quite poignant about holy than thou media types that use their power to sensationalize stories and most politicians have no morality other than the latest poll numbers. My inner Libertarian actually thinks that the media and government should stay out of people’s private lives as Sheriff Ed Earl (Burt Reynolds) said “I’ve been fightin’ crime all my life but let’s not confuse crime with committing a sin. You can’t legislate morality.”

Dom Deluise portrays a consumer watchdog reporter for a Houston television station named Melvin P Thorp.  The song Texas has a Whorehouse in It is emblematic of such reporters methods.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5CXQGCxphU&feature=related

 Despite my attempt to avoid politics tonight I did get a laugh as Durning playing the governor answered a reporter’s question about what he thought of the Middle East saying “I was sayin’ just this morning at the weekly prayer breakfast, in this historic capital, that it behooves both the Jews and the Arabs to settle their differences in a Christian manner!”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJG75FJkjr8

But the best is the song “Sidestep” the lyrics of which are below. The song sounds like it could come out of the mouth of any of our Presidential candidates that have either run for office or been elected in the past 50 years, with the possible exception of Ron Paul.  But the song sounds just like speeches I hear from those on the campaign trail on the news every night.

Fellow Texans, I am proudly standing here to humbly see.

I assure you, and I mean it- Now, who says I don’t speak out as plain as day?

And, fellow Texans, I’m for progress and the flag- long may it fly.

I’m a poor boy, come to greatness. So, it follows that I cannot tell a lie.

Ooh I love to dance a little sidestep, now they see me now they don’t-

I’ve come and gone and, ooh I love to sweep around the wide step,

cut a little swathe and lead the people on.

Now my good friends, it behooves me to be solemn and declare,

I’m for goodness and for profit and for living clean and saying daily prayer.

And now, my good friends, you can sleep nights, I’ll continue to stand tall.

You can trust me, for I promise, I shall keep a watchful eye upon ya’ll…

Ooh I love to dance a little sidestep, now they see me now they don’t-

I’ve come and gone and, ooh I love to sweep around the wide step,

cut a little swathe and lead the people on.

Now, Miss Mona, I don’t know her, though I’ve heard the name, oh yes.

But, of course I’ve no close contact, so what she is doing I can only guess.

And now, Miss Mona, she’s a blemish on the face of that good town.

I am taking certain steps here, someone somewhere’s gonna have to close her down.

Ooh I love to dance a little sidestep, now they see me now they don’t-

I’ve come and gone and, ooh I love to sweep around the wide step,

cut a little swathe and lead the people on.

Ooh I love to dance a little sidestep…

And, ooh I love to sweep around the wide step…

Cut a little swathe and lead the people on

So anyway, a little humor can help all of us navigate the current election season.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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