Tag Archives: congressman todd akin

Obama Wins….Now the Real Work of Healing the Wounds Must Begin

“We are an American family and we rise together or fall as one people.” President Obama victory speech

The 2012 Presidential race is finally over and Barak Obama has been projected to be re-elected to serve as President of the United States. Likewise the Democrats held on and expanded their majority in the Senate, something that not long ago was expected to flip to a Republican majority while the Republicans as expected held on to the House of Representatives, though they lost a few seats.

The fact that the election demonstrates despite the victory of President Obama and gains of the Democrats in both the House and Senate that the country is still deeply divided. In fact I have not seen such division and bitterness in my lifetime. That being said the fact that in key battleground states Republican extremists in Senate races like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock have been soundly defeated.

The challenges that we face as Americans remain. We have the “Fiscal Cliff” that has to be avoided at all costs, we have a war going on in Afghanistan that no one is paying any attention to that needs to be dealt with even as more wars threaten in the region. There is the Euro crisis, there is the effect of Hurricane Sandy on our own people and those are just the tip of the iceberg.

If we want to survive as a nation we have to deal with all of these issues as adults and as a nation of different interests

For the hardliners on both sides of the aisle this may be tough to stomach but the good of the country as a whole comes before the single issues of any of us. There are far too many challenges for us not to pull together.

As for the future the election shows that demographics matter. If they want to remain a credible party the Republicans need to recognize that the population demographics of the country have changed. The moves of Republicans in various state governments to attempt to marginalize Americans that are of different color and economic backgrounds backfired big. Latinos came out in huge numbers for Obama in large measure due to the comments of Romney and others in the GOP and comments by Romney about the 47% hurt his campaign bad.

But even with changing demographics there was the fact that Americans expect their leaders to behave like adults. Actions and comments by some Evangelical Christians and some Tea Party candidates killed Republican chances to win back the Senate and cost them seats in the House.  Some of these candidates said and did such nutty things that they lost Senate and House seats that the Republicans should have maintained.

Donald Trump and his merry band of “Birthers” and conspiracy theorists discredited their own cause by the outlandishness if their charges.

The aversion of regular people on both sides of the aisle to the shear obscene amounts of money being spent by a very few individuals such as the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson through Super-Pacs which made it look like a few people were going to buy the election was also a factor.

Unfortunately some of these same people such as Donald Trump are now calling for “revolution” echoing some crazies who have been advocating the same thing for years. I’m taking about the Timothy McVeigh types that blow up Federal Buildings and kill fellow Americans. I’m sorry it is time for grown ups in both parties to take charge. We live in a dangerous world and there are many things that can threaten us, economic problems in Europe, Iranian and Israeli tensions, other danger zones in the Middle East, the South China Sea, natural disasters, you name it problems are are rife in the world and as Abraham Lincoln said “A nation divided against itself cannot stand.”

This is not a Republican or Democrat issue anymore. The election is decided. It was a close election but it is over. It looks like Obama won both the popular vote by a narrow margin as well as having scored 303-332 electoral votes depending on the final call in Florida which Obama leads. Mitt Romney set the tone for healing tonight in a gracious and seemingly heartfelt concession speech emphasizing the need for Americans to come together and “put the people before the politics.” I couldn’t put it better myself.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Stupidest Person on the face of the Earth? Todd Akin Tells Mitt, Sean and Rush to Pound Sand

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waf46eBajkw

The continuing saga of Todd Akin reminds me of the scene in the movie Ruthless People where Bill Pullman playing a hopeless stooge named Earl Mott attempts to rob Ken Kessler (Judge Reinhold) of ransom money being paid by Sam Stone (Danny DeVito) in front of an army of LAPD officers.

Lt Bender: [over a bullhorn] GIVE THE BAG TO BOZO, DROP THE GUN, AND PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR. 

Earl Mott: Who said that? 

Lt Walters: [to Lt. Bender] This could very well be the stupidest person on the face of the earth. Perhaps we should shoot him. 

Lt Bender: [over the bullhorn] IT’S THE POLICE DEPARTMENT. 

Earl Mott: Really? 

Lt Bender: NO! WE’RE THE NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION! 

In any relatively normal time Todd Akin would have stood aside after making his incredibly stupid, remarks about rape. Akin has managed to give Mitt Romney’s Democrat opponent a gift that keeps giving. Akin single handedly has put the Romney-Ryan ticket in real danger, first by opening his big mouth, second by not shutting up and third by defying his party’s Presidential nominee. Even more importantly Akin managed to blow off the two leading conservative radio talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Hannity practically begged Akin on two consecutive days during interviews to quit the race while Limbaugh called him “stupid.” Say what you want about Limbaugh and Hannity, they don’t stay at the top of the radio ratings for nothing. They both know that Akin and his comments have the very real potential of sinking any chance of the Republicans taking back the Senate and possibly endanger the chances of Mitt Romney winning the Presidential election. They are not stupid. Disagree with them all you want but they know enough about politics to know that Akin’s continued defiance of their candidate only spells disaster for the GOP ticket.  The same is true of the National  Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Brian Walsh who said “The stakes in this election are far bigger than any one individual…” 

Akin’s action is having a ripple effect. Romney and Ryan had to flip flop on the abortion rape exemption which both had not supported until Akin made the position untenable despite it being in the GOP party platform.

Akin is in the process of killing his nominee. Most politicians that screw up their nominee’s chances realize that the guy at the top of the ticket’s campaign is more important than their campaign. In fact he is blaming the “liberal media” for trying to get him out of the race. It’s not the “liberal media” it is Akin’s friends at Fox News, talk radio and his own party that want him gone. However Akin seems to have little self awareness or realization of the effect of his comments on his party’s chances this fall saying today “Why can’t Mitt Romney run his race and I’ll run mine?”

I am sure that there are people in the GOP at this very moment who are think the same thing as Lt Walters (Clarence Felder). “This could very well be the stupidest person on the face of the earth. Perhaps we should shoot him.”

What can I say? I’ll bet Mitt will spring for the ammo. He has lots of money to spend.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Don’t go Akin my Heart: Todd Akin Earns the Ire of Mitt

Irony Personified

When one can’t think of anything else to do a political candidate should be like the Governor in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas played by Charles Durning. One should dance around subjects and not say really stupid things, especially about things as sensitive topic as rape, which according to law and morality is a violent crime.  However there is no law against political stupidity. Good politicians know how to “Dance a little side step.” Stupid ones don’t know when to shut up.

Dance a Little Sidestep 

Todd Akin, until this morning a Tea Party favorite U.S. Congressman running for Senate in Missouri is obviously the kind of man who doesn’t know when to shut up or when not to try to play medical expert. While defending his anti-abortion position which gives no exemptions for rape he made one of the most bone-headed comments I have ever heard from a politician since Republican Texas candidate for Governor Clayton Williams did in 1990. Williams said that since rape is inevitable like bad weather that rape victims should “just relax and enjoy it.” Williams’ little off the cuff gaffe cost him the election as he was leading Democrat candidate Ann Richards with just a few weeks prior to the election by a hefty margin. I was a Republican in Texas at that time and was so disgusted that I couldn’t vote for the man.

Yesterday while being interviewed by a local news station Akin said: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

I wasn’t watching much news yesterday and had been taking most of the day away from the computer spending time with Judy on her visit to the Island Hermitage. So when I head about late in the evening when making a quick check of headlines I was rather dumbfounded. I really thought that I had to be misreading it so I went to bed after finishing an episode of Boston Legal season four on my DVD. Then listening to The Morning Joe on my Sirius radio on the way to work I was really taken aback. I couldn’t believe that he actually said what he said.

I have dealt with a lot of rape victims in my time as a military chaplain as well as a civilian hospital chaplain. To quote the President who said the same thing that that  thought when I heard the comment: “Rape is rape.” So what is the difference between “legitimate rape” and “rape?” Is there such a thing as “illegitimate rape?”

Akin’s comments have drawn the fire of many of his backers including Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan who co-sponsored legislation basically saying the same thing as did Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Romney called the comments “insulting, inexcusable and frankly wrong.” Karl Rove’s Super-PAC Crossroads GPS which had spent $5 million in Missouri, withdrew it’s funding from the state. Radio talk-show host Sean Hannity and pundit Ann Coulter have all called on Akin to withdraw from the race, Coulter saying “for the good of the country.” He has been asked not to attend next week’s GOP convention in Tampa and the National Chairman of the GOP pretty much told him to withdraw from the race. Even major anti-abortion groups condemned the remarks. The Rev. Patrick Mahoney, a long term anti-abortion activist and head of the Christian Defense Coalition called the remarks “offensive, repugnant and troubling.” But Akin, at least as of tonight is rebuffing their calls and claiming that he is staying in the race. Republicans are running from Akin like vampires from the sun despite having for the past number of years endorsed similar ideas.

I find the whole thing politically inept. I am not going into the politics of abortion on either side of the line. I am just commenting on the political ineptness of a candidate that has dropped a bomb on his party and his soon-to-be Presidential nominee the week before the nominating convention. It is not like that Romney himself has been great on the campaign trail routinely blowing himself up with unbelievable gaffes. It is also true that Romney is not liked by much of his own party, the only thing that many of his supporters find endearing is he is not Obama, who in the words of Hank Williams Jr. “they hate.”

Akin’s comments yesterday and actions today have taken the wind out of Mitt Romney’s campaign.   Romney now has to take his message off of the economy and defend a view that while popular among the conservative-Christian base is at odds with the majority of the electorate, even among those that support some restrictions on abortion. I fall into that category. In a close election which will be decided by a narrow minority of swing voters, especially women this could doom Romney’s campaign despite many people’s unhappiness with the Obama presidency and the continuing problems of the economy.

Regardless of what one thinks about abortion the political fact is that Akin has blown himself away and hurt his party’s nominee who has named an ideological clone of Akin as his running mate. It was a politically inept and stupid move by Akin. If the Republicans are smart they find a way to get him out of the race before he can cause more damage to their national campaign. Democrats of course are praying that Akin digs in and gives them a wedge issue that could give President Obama a slight edge and lessen support for Romney. Even Mahoney, who certainly has “street cred” among pro-life activists commented that if Akin stayed in the race “these comments will follow the Congressman throughout the entire campaign.”

He also may have driven a wedge into his own party as his supporters at the Family Research Council and American Family Association are digging in to support Akin, even making veiled threats at the campaigns of Akin’s Republican detractors such as Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts.

Akin is breakin’ their hearts. We’ll see how long this goes. I think he will be gone from the race by Tuesday night but I do believe that the damage is done. He has given the Obama campaign and the re-election campaign of Senator Claire McCaskill a gift.

Peace

Padre Steve+

Update as of 2100 hours 21 August: I was wrong. Akin is digging in and the panic is only beginning. Even Rush Limbaugh is against him but he tweeted that the “liberal media” was out to get him. From my viewpoint I think that they want him to remain in the race while his conservative friends want him gone yesterday.

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Darkness into Light: Turning Systematized Hatred in the Name of God into Reconciliation

I was reading news and saw yet another incident of religious hatred and violence this morning.  This time it was a Hasidic Jew in Brooklyn who decided to pour beer on the head of a recently married neighbor calling her an “Arab terrorist” and beating her husband. The couple was relatively new immigrants from Turkey that had recently moved into the heavily Jewish neighborhood.  To quote a police spokesman the man identified as Simchon Schwartz attacked the woman screaming  “F—ing Arabs! F—ing terrorists!” as he grabbed his neighbor, 27 year old Selda Turan. He shoved her against her car and poured beer on her head. After the attack Schwartz “keyed” the Turan’s car before fleeing to a nearby synagogue.  When apprehended he fought the police and kicked out a window in a police cruiser. As he was doing this his wife told the Turans that “This is a majority Jewish neighborhood. We’re going to get you back.” 

Now this is just the latest. We can list similar crimes committed by people of many religions against others who they view as enemies of God and true believers those of different religions, competing sects of their own religion different sects of their religion or those fallen away from the faith.  Of course I am leaving out those crimes committed that are more influenced by race than religion or those perpetrated against women or other minorities.

There are radical Moslems who persecute and kill Christians, Jews, Hindus and Moslems of different sects. These tend to get the bulk of the media attention in the West because of the 9-11 attacks even though they are committed by a minority of radicals.  Of course there are Islamic countries where much of the population is becoming radicalized so this could grow.  In the United States we have seen a number of Moslems recently arrested for plotting attacks on U.S. Military installations in the United States, and times where Moslem men have committed “honor killings.” Across the globe there are many Moslem nations who either official sanction or tolerate the persecution and killing people of different beliefs sometimes in pretty gruesome ways, and forget freedom of religion, choice conscience or even basic human rights guaranteed by the United Nations Charter.  Just this week the Taliban gave an unwitting 8 year old girl a sack with a bomb in it which they detonated killing her and those in the target zone.

Of course there are some Jews, admittedly the more hyper-orthodox types who believe that non-Jews, secularized Jews and women are somewhat less than human. Of course this is interesting in light of the Holocaust when the Nazis deemed Jews as sub-human.  There are places in Israel where these hyper-Orthodox faithful even attack and stone other less observant Jews, not to mention wayward Arab Christians or Moslems that are Israeli citizens.

There are fundamentalist Hindus in India who burn down Christian villages and persecute Moslems, Moslems, Christians and Animists in Africa who depending on what trine they are from use their religion to persecute neighbors from different tries and religions.  This happens all the time in Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and the Congo but probably the worst of this type of violence was performed by Hutu and Tutsi Christians in Rwanda and Burundi who killed upwards of a million people back in 1994.

Then there are Christians, or those that claim to be of various varieties that see their specific sect as the elect and all others as bound for the Lake of Fire and fully worthy of God’s judgment in this life and the next.  One immediately thinks of the Westboro Baptist Church” and the Fred Phelps clan but there are others even those that have twisted the Christian faith into model of racial purity in particular various White Supremacist groups.  The Westboro bunch does not commit acts of violence but they do attempt to use legal means, the courts and the media to ensure that their message of hate is carried far and wide, using the right of religious expression to impinge on the rights and dignity of others.  Now these groups all don’t amount to a hill of beans but they tend to become the poster children for this type of crime.

However the more subtle and socially acceptable people of this variety are those that use the imagery of war against God’s enemies to promote hate and forge political power. They are those that preach and promote theocracy where their particular understanding of religion will dominate politics and where their religion becomes the law of the land. Somehow people like David Barton, Bryan Fischer, Joseph Farah and a host of others manage to find in the Scriptures and the Constitution new and interesting ways to demonstrate that a Fundamentalist Protestant theocracy is what the founders of the nation intended to establish.  They won’t say it this way; they will say that we were founded as a “Christian” nation. However most of the prominent leaders of the revolution and writers of the Constitution were Deists, Masons and even some non-believers.  Jefferson, Madison, Adams and Franklin all held a cautious view of religion and saw from Europe’s history that the state endorsement of any religion as the law of the land was fraught with danger. Madison said it so well: “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries.”

I don’t even want to go into Europe’s religious wars, pogroms and crusades.

So while what happened in New York was an isolated incident it is also indicative of a bigger problem facing the country as an already divided and bitter population starts to use religion as a weapon in their political and moral crusades. Now some of this is “payback” for real or perceived encroachments on religious freedom by some secularists, but I don’t remember Jesus telling us to pay anyone back in kind when they persecute us.  In fact didn’t Jesus tell us to “forgive those that sin against us” and on the cross offer forgiveness to those that crucified him?  Maybe this is not a part of some religions but it is a central part of the practice of authentic Christian faith.

As a Christian I can see faults in other religions but I am most keenly aware of when I see people that call themselves Christians arming themselves for war, sometimes literally against those that they believe are God’s enemies. Madison alluded to this when he said “It was the belief of all sects at one time that the establishment of Religion by law was right and necessary; that the true religion ought to be established in exclusion of every other; and that the only question to be decided was, which was the true religion.”

Congressman Todd Akin went so far in his comments to say that “the heart of liberalism really is a hatred for God.” Now when anyone says such things it should send up an alarm for Christians because it is the antithesis of the message of reconciliation that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.” (2 Cor 5:19 NLT)

Andrew Greeley made a comment about Christians and the Catholic Church before Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire which bears repeating. “People came into the Church in the Roman Empire because the Church was so good. Catholics were so good to one another and they were so good to pagans too.”

While my understanding is a Christian one which recognizes that like the early church we live in world that turning non-Christians into our enemies and thereby God’s enemies that we take a look at how the poor and persecuted church of the first three centuries of the Common Era responded to those that oppressed them or those that they disagreed.  I wonder if Christians decided to approach others in this manner rather than attempting to institute a theocracy in name or practice if maybe the tenor of our national discourse would change.  I also know that there are traditions of tolerance and mercy in every religion, unfortunately they often are persecuted minorities in their own religions.

As for others maybe they like the people in the Roman Empire of other religions would recognize something different, something amazing, refreshing and redeeming in us. However as it stands today I simply expect people of all religions to continue the bloodshed.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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