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Sunday, December 04, 2011

The Games We Play: Payroll Tax Cut

Obama wishes to extend the payroll tax cut. The Republicans, the party of tax cuts, wishes to prevent this. Why? Of course, to make Obama look bad, thus giving the GOP an edge in the next election. Here is my reasoning.

Leaving aside for the moment whether we agree that this is the GOP motive, can we say that the GOP has some other reasoning for eliminating a very popular reduction in taxation? Well, they would, and do, say that a tax reduction is indeed needed for the middle classes in this time of recession, but that we need to pay for this so that the deficit is not increased--and they don't mean to pay for it with another tax increase on the rich. Because a tax increase on the rich--I mean, the job creators--would be bad for the economy. You see, the GOP states that increased taxes reduce the economic engine. Tax decreases improve the, let us say, the economic mpg. Tax reductions pay for themselves, in other words, by increasing efficiency, letting people spend as they will.

Well, if payroll taxes are reduced, that would increase the economy and pay for itself. Why vote it down with some excuse that we now suddenly need to pay for it? Do tax cuts pay for themselves or don't they?

There is only one reason for the GOP to come out against the tax cut for the middle classes: to make Obama look bad. They are willing to harm this country for their own pathetic grab for power.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

The Politics of Religion

The other day I was listening to WBUR with Tom Ashbrook. Someone called in and I thought his comment deserved respect and some more thought. His comment was basically this: The Mormon church has allowed its two candidates for U.S. president to behave in a normal, thoughtful, civil way, while the rest of the candidates (speaking only of those receiving media attention), who happen to be protestant with two Catholics (Gingrich and Santorum), are allowed free reign to be, well, less so.

He is wrong in one way--I'll get to that later--but he is right in his general understanding of the state of the Christian church. It is true that the Christian churches haven't exactly held the candidates collective toes to the fire, in terms of honesty and directness.

And I'm not talking about Herman Cain's recent problems, with allegations of philandering. Those are allegations; nothing is legally proven, whether you view 60-80 texts a day to a woman as moral proof or not. I'm talking about what the candidates are saying and doing. I'm talking about comparing what a candidate states to what they previously stated. I'm talking about hypocrisy, something that Jesus had quite a bit to say, it seems to me.

Jesus was rather preoccupied with the hypocrisy of his day, calling out the Pharisees and Sadducees for not exactly living up to the terms of their agreement with God. Here's a little primer on what Christ had to say regarding the hypocrites of his day:

Matt 6:5, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full."

Matt 22:18, "But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?"

Matt 23:13, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to."

Obviously, hypocrisy isn't something terribly cherished by Christ. Neither is an over emphasis on wealth and the creation of wealth. (cf. 1 Timothy 6:9,10; I particularly like the OT 2 Kings 23:35--Tax in proportion to wealth. Ouch!) How about Matt 19:24, "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

But we know all this. We understand that God is concerned with the poor, not the rich. For every reference to the poor in the Bible there is, well, there are no references to the rights of the rich in the Bible.

So why doesn't the Church speak out against those who pursue personal gain--election, which includes all the perks of elected office including stock purchase rights for insider information--at the expense of the poor? Why doesn't the Church speak out for Occupy Wall St? Oh, I know some brave parson out there may have, but the Church is largely silent. When a candidate lies, on record, about his record, about his past, perhaps about some fellow candidate, what does the church say about this? Nothing. It is as silent as the media, which hems and haws about "he said," "she said," or "it appears that some believe it to be deceptive." What would Christ have said? "Liar! Hypocrite!" would have been heard around the globe.

The Church often will even defend those within a certain political party, viewing itself as a virtual arm of that organization's legions. The problem with that is obvious. Politics is a dirty game. When getting in bed with a prostitute, there are two sinners involved.

Now to Romney. Remember the caller who felt so disposed to allow the Mormon community a pass on this regard? No so fast. Romney out and out lied in a recent add when his people "quoted" Obama quoting McCain. And Romney's people admitted that they were being deceptive. Did the Mormon church come out against their favorite son? Not that I have seen. It seems the Mormons can play the game of dirty politics as well as Christians.

To paraphrase Robin Meyers, a minister now in Oklahoma and author of Why the Christian Right is Wrong: A Minister's Manifesto, the church needs to get out of the politics of electing candidates. It needs to get back to the business of responding to the Gospel of Christ. It has been in the barn of politics for so long it now stinks of dung. Hypocrite, heal thyself.

Christianity has no political arm. Or it shouldn't. It is in the interest of the Church to fulfill the ideals of Christ, to love one another...as one love's oneself. To be concerned for your neighbor: Does it concern you that your neighbor is going bankrupt just because he/she is sick? Or perhaps they are dying now because they no longer have health insurance? Or their mortgage hasn't been paid because of a recession? Or this, or that? Or do you believe that going into the election booth and pulling the lever for someone of a certain party makes you somehow religious, and devout?

Here, from the Times Union's "Voices of Faith" column, December 3rd, 2011, written by Barbara DiTommaso, director of the Commission on Peace and Justice of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany:
Biblical justice is not the justice of laws, courts and the penal system. Rather, it is the living out of human solidarity, the reality that there is one human family, and we are responsible for each other's welfare.


Well said.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Evangelicals and the GOP

Slate's latest article on Newt Gingrich claims that the evangelical right can forgive and forget Newt's past sinning ways.

Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Iowa FAMiLY Leader, says
“There’s been a sincere life change for Newt Gingrich...Since four or five years ago, he’s shown a very transparent grace and maturity. He’s been married to Callista for over a decade. He’s healed his relationship with his children.”

What's wrong with a little forgiveness among Christians, after all? Nothing. Forgiveness, you might say, is our bread and...butter. But this forgiveness thing, at least for evangelicals, is tempered by something else: change of life, and a change of actions.

Well, you might say, Newt's been on the wagon for ten years. No more philandering ways. Calista's got a hold on him and he doesn't seem to be straying. Wasn't King David an adulterer (and murderer) but didn't God forgive him? But ask yourself this: Are we only talking about sexual sin here? Sin comes in a variety of colors. There's the red light sin of the bordello, the green stained sin of jealousy, the yellow stained sin of dirty politics, and the dark stained sin of hypocrisy. There's probably as many sins as there are colors. More.

To an evangelical a sin is a sin. One isn't of a higher (or lower) order than any other. To say that Newt is a fine and dandy Christian with a fine and dandy character...just because he no longer struts his stuff with young interns is to forget his other foibles. Didn't Newt just say he wasn't a lobbyist? Mmmm. But calling yourself a historian and getting paid mucho pesetas to do this "historical" work sounds pretty bogus. Sounds like he's lying, in other words. If lying is too difficult a word to pronounce among evangelicals, then how about just saying Newt is just being dishonest. Newt being Newt, in other words.

OK, and how about his hypocrisy? Denouncing politicians enabling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac during the Dartmouth debate...while he himself had been working for them! Libya, Global Warming, and the individual mandate for health insurance: all flip-flops. As Ron Paul states in a recent campaign ad, Gingrich is a serial hypocrite. That doesn't sound like a good Christian to me. So why do evangelicals feel they can look beyond all that? Beats me.

Jennifer Rubin recently wrote of Gingrich in the Washington Post:
Gingrich’s serial adultery and his current hypocrisy suggest not a immoral man, but an amoral one. Rules, shame, punishment, consistency and transparency are abstractions for him, tools to be wielded against political opponents while his own supposed brilliance and patriotism exempt him from the standards that mere pols must follow. Really, is this a person whose values and judgment you’d trust to manage a charity or hold a leadership position in your church, let alone occupy the Oval Office?


That Gingrich has confessed to some wrongdoings in his past affairs on a call-in radio show with James Dobson does not wash away all of this man's sins and make them white as snow. "Go and sin no more," Jesus told the adulteress. Evangelicals out there, please take note that this applies to the adulterer as well.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Groupthink in American Politics

What is Groupthink

Groupthink, a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis (1972), occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment” (p. 9). Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making
above quoted from http://www.psysr.org

OK, so you're probably expecting some easy joke about watching FOX NEWS. But it's no joke, and it isn't just for FOX watchers or Limbaugh listeners. It applies just as much to those Madden fanatics or other left-leaning commentators. The point is we are all boxing ourselves in by limiting our awareness. And we often are not even aware of our self-imposed limits. Someone recently told me that they only watch one hour or so of FOX. He also reads The Wall Street Journal. I mentioned that the two corporations are actually just one, but I don't think I got through.

We humans love to feel that we belong to groups that think like us. At church we like to think that our fellow church-goers vote like us, dislike the same things, like the same things, and feel disgusted at the same politicians. When we find someone who stands out, who might have a different viewpoint, they are then an outlier, someone so different that it causes one to pause and reflect on how that could even be. Don't we watch the same news? Read the same papers? Go to the same church?

The more we close ourselves off from diverse opinions the more fanatical our opinions become. Those watching FOX become more and more certain of the gifts that Reagan has left us, without ever hearing or debating those less certain problems (Remember Guatemala? Remember Iran? Remember all those tax increases?).

Watching Maddow I can easily forget the corruptions of certain unions in the past, such as the Teamsters with their inglorious mixing with the mafia. The problems of teacher unions are glossed over; the America of the Left is just as controllable as that of the Right.

Irving Janis documented the following symptoms of Groupthink:

Illusion of invulnerability –Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks.
Collective rationalization – Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions.
Belief in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.
Stereotyped views of out-groups – Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary.
Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views.
Self-censorship – Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed.
Illusion of unanimity – The majority view and judgments are assumed to be unanimous.
Self-appointed ‘mindguards’ – Members protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions.

Can you recognize modern America here? The "city on a hill" optimism of Reagan; the warnings of Climate Change going unheeded (why bother assuming that the science is good; it'll probably be fine); the belief in the inherent goodness of the American people (despite the Jim Crow South, Vietnam, Iraq, the associative guilt of genocide in Central America, discrimination, murder, theft of outrageous proportions on Wall St, etc); and we can easily find example after example of liberals calling conservatives "idiots," "numskulls," and the like (and the conservatives calling liberals "socialists," "commies," etc.), stereotyping with one broad brush. Have you ever attended a meeting where someone says something that is just assumed to be held by all attending? You feel immediately the pressure to agree or become the outlier. That is when you have to decide to say something and risk banishment or be silent and risk losing an opportunity to educate or influence.

Our "self-appointed 'mindguards'" are routinely now pastors, or professors, or managers. These people have a high moral responsibility to consider all the facts of a topic before selecting their own opinions. As mindguards they will influence all those around them, and mindguards will have their own leaders selecting information for them, influencing their thoughts in turn. More often they are the talking heads of TV. We love to turn on our favorite "news" channel, suppressing for the moment that what we seek is not news, but our echo chamber of choice. This is the appointed task that Maddow is given, and O'Reilly and Hannity and Beck. We ask of them to keep the discussion within the boundaries we are used to. We do not like to be given new information or information from a different vantage point.

As Americans board up the windows of their minds and concentrate inwards on only what they know--or think they know--they limit the learning necessary to evolve into a more discerning taste, a higher thought process, and they forget consensus and compromise.

The key for this country is for people to learn what the other, the outlier, knows; find out what they think and do not be quick to judge. "Judge not, lest thou be judged," is a key verse for politics as well as religion, at least a politics that seeks consensus. This means for those watching FOX to turn to a different channel, find out what the liberals think. And the liberals, though not likely to watch FOX, would do well to at least read some of the more educated journals such as National Review, or First Things (a fine Catholic journal). Another good source of news and commentary that seeks a middle ground is the Wilson Quarterly. Those used to watching TV will find the immersion into articles of depth a welcoming experience.

Or you could just walk over to your politically naive neighbor and start a discussion--and discussions aren't arguments. Just remember to turn off the TV.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

ConocoPhillips vs. Godzilla

Who hasn't seen one of those feel good ads on TV these days, touting the benefits of natural gas like it was the next cold fusion? The one I like best, but which I cannot find on the internet as of yet, shows a group of students after class having one of those ad hoc debates so common in academia these days (though I believe in real life it's more likely to involve a heated discussion of Halo). A couple of students rush into the debate all morally superior ("Big oil! What about the environment!"), getting in the faces of the others who calmly stand back while the opposition digs a deep, deep hole for themselves. And then the other two spring into action like members of some Seal-6 anti-terrorist squad. "Actually, it's cleaner!" says one about, you know, methane, or natural gas as it is commonly known. And don't you love that name, too? Natural gas, 'cause it's "natural." So it must be good for us, right? Of course, cyanide is natural too, but let's move on. So in the this ad (as in many others, here's a typical ad), we are told that natural gas is a wonder, that it is necessary for us to use the natural resources of this country and hey, it's cleaner than oil and coal. Well, is it? Let's not take the gas companies' word for it, after all. True, methane does have less CO2 emissions than coal. Less sulfur too. But the companies stop right there. It is as if some math guy began his lecture by writing on the blackboard (they still have blackboards, don't they? No?)--or white board--some long equation, but got tired and so ended up with something like this:
1+2+3+4+(Oh, forget it!) y=20, for small values of y.
And I suppose that all of that is quite true. And quite equally false...for larger values of y. You see, if y contains a larger value, say 10, then the equation is no longer true. And just as we see with math, if we also include a statement such as "Methane is over 20 times more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (CO2) over a 100-year period", (this from epa.gov/outreach/), then the full meaning of "clean" becomes less clear. What if we also include a statement about the polluting effects of drilling for methane, or hydrofracking? (For your viewing pleasure, please rent the movie "Gasland," which was up for an Academy Award and probably would have won if it wasn't for those crazy guys stealing our money on Wall St.) We could also say something about all the gas that is leaking through loose fittings. Did you know that the gas industry doesn't care about a gas leak, unless it deems the leak class I, a danger to public safety? Here, from the GPTC (Gas Piping Technology Committee), the "hazardous (Grade 1) leaks be repaired immediately, while "non-hazardous" (Grade 2 and Grade 3) can be allowed to continue for six months or more." [this from the American Energy Coalition citing the GPTC notes.] Be praying that your leak is graded properly. But the real point is that leaks on the whole are not prioritized by any sort of environmental concern. They don't care. Why? Well, it is clean, don't you see? If you label it "clean" then you don't have to spend any money fixing the "problem." It's like they are pouring the stuff in our oceans and streams, you know, like those other fine folks at BP and Exxon. Any industry that pumps unknown chemicals into the ground (which is to say unknown to us but quite well known to them, and which includes: oil, benzene--a carcinogen--and dozens of solvents) where our ground water lies...well, it does seem obvious to me that it cannot be called "clean." Is it "clean-er"? Maybe. Maybe it is cleaner than coal and oil. But isn't that like saying Godzilla is less of a problem than Mothra? They both end up destroying Tokyo. Sure we root for Godzilla, but we don't really know why. Would anyone try to make a pet out of the big guy? Cuddle up with him? Teach him to fetch? That's what ConocoPhillips and their corporate bedfellows are trying to convince us to do with natural gas. My solution? Maybe we could come up with a different name for the stuff: Godzilla Gas!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Declaration of Independence, part deux

In light of the Occupy Wall Street protests, I thought a review of the Declaration of Independence might be apropos. Here, I think, is the salient quotation:
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
The new guards for the future, far from being any sort of militia, must be a new amendment to the U.S. Constitution, stating in effect that no corporation can have the standing of personhood in this country, and that the government of the United States of America shall provide funds necessary for a fair and equal election process with delineated time periods not more than two months prior to the election date.

Monday, September 26, 2011

New RINOs must lead Republicans | The Journal News | LoHud.com | LoHud.com

New RINOs must lead Republicans | The Journal News | LoHud.com | LoHud.com

This article on RINOs says it all, so I'm just linking to it and leaving it at that.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Football: the perversion of the gridiron

NFL 2011: The Kansas City Chiefs' sad cavalcade of torn knee ligaments. (14) - By Tommy Craggs, Stefan Fatsis, Nate Jackson, Josh Levin, Drew Magary, Barry Petchesky, and Tom Scocca - Slate Magazine

OK, so an NFL star spits up blood from a hit to the head. And what do people talk about? Fantasy football. And the chances of the guy's team winning. Check out the link and read the comments. Only one that I saw mentioned that football might be changed as a result of all these concussions (and I take his comment as nostalgic for the "good ol' days" when men were men and could kill anyone as a sign of manliness).

The recent walk-out by the players included discussion of medical benefits. John Mackey's name was bandied about as a poster-child for what can happen to a player after he retires. There is a link between concussions and Alzheimer's like disease. The name for this is Pugilistic Dementia, named after the "sport" in which one tries to induce a concussion and brain damage on another. Of course I'm speaking of boxing, but I could just as easily be speaking of football.
(here is a link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/1362290.stm)

Many have said over the years that boxing should be banned, along with its cousin, mixed martial arts. Football should be mentioned just as often. It sickens to know that millions watch this "sport" without a thought, without a care, for its players. Most football players retire after two or three years of playing. Yes, they get a good salary (league minimum salary in 1996 was $196,000), but that's not a whole lot if you consider that the players often retire disabled, with little health care. A team in a small market, like Green Bay, will have an average player earn less than $1,000,000 by the time he retires. That million has to last the rest of his life, oftentimes. If you are hobbling around on bad knees, bad hips, bad back, with dementia and no health care, a million won't get you far. The league owners did recently produce a plan for taking care of their wounded warriors, and in honor of Mackey it is called the "88" plan (Mackey wore the number 88). The plan offers up to $88,000 for nursing home care. Is that enough? Most likely, no. It's also kind of like saying, "Here you go, son, play football and get the b'jesus knocked out of you, 'cause we'll pay for your nursing room later on--you'll be needing that."

The argument for football goes this way: the players know all this going in and it is their choice. Well, I doubt they know all this. I doubt they ever met a player (probably the best tight end in football history) like John Mackey (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Mackey_(American_football)). I am betting they've been sold a pipe dream: become a star and earn tens of millions. You'll be famous, on TV, movies, interviews. That hardly ever happens. Usually a player is quite lucky to make it to the NFL. Most players in college get the injuries and get to be slaves to the college sports program, unpaid, and most under-educated.

When you watch this depravity on TV or at the stadium, maybe the human thing to do would be to wonder about the health of those players, their likely future, and also to look around you and say, Do I want to be the kind of person who just enjoys taking in the perversion of basic moral principles?

When you think of football you shouldn't be thinking of all the pipe-dream stuff, the glory of the gridiron all that crap. You should be thinking others, the players. They are people, just like you. Love your neighbor as thyself, and turn that perversion off. And if you happen to be a parent of a child playing in youth leagues, get them out of there and into some other sport. Or better yet, teach them to play the piano or guitar or something. Something useful, something human.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Government costing jobs? Really?

MarketWatch has an interesting article ("Follow the money, Mr. Speaker") that concerns a question I've had for some time. You may have noticed that the last couple of years we've heard a refrain from Republican leaders and pundits that speaks to the issue of large government deficits costing jobs, because (in the words of John Boehner, House Speaker), "The massive borrowing and spending by the Treasury Department crowded out private investment by American businesses of all sizes."

But is this true? My initial reaction to this sort of thinking was that of course it wasn't. We'd have heard of this before now. This seemed some sort of catchphrase that someone in the media felt was pithy and could knock the democrats out.

Rex Nutting, MarketWatch's commentary editor, checked into this and found that indeed there was no truth to the claim. But don't expect the Republican's to stop just because it isn't true; it's just too good a phrase: it sounds true so they'll use it.

The proof that it isn't true comes from the low borrowing rates currently available. So there is no trouble borrowing by business. Also business is currently struggling because of low demand, not high borrowing rates (there are no high rates). Mr Nutting also makes it clear that businesses have so much money in their coffers that they would not even need to borrow. They could pay cash outright for more capital spending. He also states that businesses are currently spending quite a lot ($1.14 trillion annually), 25% more than in 2009.

But the real message is that the Republicans feel they can lie their way into the White House and Senate. They will just keep saying the same thing over and over until people believe it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

So what then is a Republican?

So what then is a Republican?

This question has come up since I have been weeded out by the core, extreme Republicans, as they have found my ideology wanting. I expressed the need for this country to finally solve the problem of caring for its sick, and doing away with the ugly for-profit health care "system" that exists currently, replacing it with a single-payer system and thus saving our country billions of dollars, and millions of lives.

How do we define Republicanism? By the core? Should we allow it to be encircled by the focused interiority of those most fervent--and most fanatical? Should those who do not adhere to every single jot and tittle of the party platform hang our heads and retreat to the desert region of our foes? (And would they admit us, or also vanquish us as not being suitable for their use either?)

Does fanaticism define the party unit, or something more reasonable, something more rationally defined?

Let me consider for a bit the following position: Republicanism--nor any political system, including the religious sphere--can be defined by a fanatical adherence to a set of core principles. Why? Because a political system by its very nature must be a repository of ideas, a vessel, if you will, which holds a collection of values. A vessel holds, it does not mainly restrain. A vessel brings in, it does not mainly withhold. Yet, it must be argued, a vessel containing a multitude of cracks cannot hold much. Another way of stating this, is to say that you might throw any such stuff within and call it whatever you will. Too little, too small a set of ideas, and you would not even need a bowl to hold them. Too many ideas and they spill over the side or through the many cracks. You may call whatever remains what you want but someone else will gladly call them something else: a would-be mess.

So it is clear that a party of ideas is a vessel, a bowl, that contains more than a small set of core values, but not so many that it becomes too-much-to-name. There is then an essence, a set of ingredients that most (but NOT all, for that again would distill to too small a number) might then agree to.

Another way of stating this is by using an alternate metaphor: A political party is like water. Too contained it becomes fetid; too unleashed and wild it becomes a muddied, raging river. Just right would be a very clear mountain stream, clean and clear enough to drink safely, but moving fast enough to change in time and carry away the dross.

By stating that I am not a Republican because I have one idea wrong, those fanatics have revealed themselves as being bathed in fetid waters. The ideas do not get exposed to the air of conversation and dialogue. They sink, and inevitably they stink of rottenness.

Ideas must be alive, they must be tossed about from mind to mind otherwise they rot like corpses. We keep them alive through dialogue, especially dialogue with others who do not share the ideas within our own vessel. This sharing is important, vital to not only our nation but ourselves. Sharing is part of being human, but sharing only within our own set vessel of opinions is not truly sharing, but an inbreeding resulting in defective ideas and defective selves.

In a post on The Dish (Sept. 12, 2011), Andrew Sullivan writes:
If your view of conservatism is one rooted in an instinctual, but agile, defense of tradition, in a belief in practical wisdom that alters constantly with circumstance, in moderation and the defense of the middle class as the stabilizing ballast of democracy, in limited but strong government ... then the GOP is no longer your party or mine).

Religion has replaced all of this, reordered it, and imbued the entire political-economic-religious package with zeal. And the zealous never compromise. They don't even listen.

So thinking through this problem I am a bit heartened at feeling that it is I that am the true Republican, and they that would weed me out are the truly--what to call them? The defectives. They grow rank and fetid in their little bowls, mildewy and corrosive.

You will know them by their smell. They reek of all that is ugly and extreme and fanatical. By their fruits you will know them: their branches are bare.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The preening exaltedness of the Right

If there is one thing that the liberal left despises most about the conservative right, it is the attitude of preening exaltedness. Now, as a conservative myself, I usually find myself in the company of many on the right. However, I usually am quickly discovered as a closet liberal--judged so by my adherence to a single-payer system. Recently I have been captured, and interrogated by those on the extreme right on a very popular social site. (Why do I characterize them so, as extreme? Because those are there own words, how they describe themselves: extremism in the defense of liberty, yaddayadda.) Finding that I am not a Republican (though I am one), that my conservative credentials are expired--though they are not, they have tried and sentenced me. I, it seems, am really a liberal Democrat, much like Obama. Though I happen to disagree with him on many topics. Still, they say I am liberal.

Now I also believe, quite forcefully at times, I admit, to being pro-life. I believe in conservative environmental principles. I also think we need to be fiscally conservative (though apparently not conservative enough).

But tried and sentenced by the extremists, what am I to do but turn in my Republican badge?

Well that I'm not going to do. Goldwater lost in '64, but the real loser then were the Rockerfeller Republicans, their heads being held underwater until only the extremists were left.

Does that mean there is no remnant left? No progressive Republicans? (By progressive, I guess I mean those of us willing to listen to others--even Democrats.) There is a small remnant left, but big enough to form a core that one day may be able to rise up in defense of liberty, a liberty that the founding fathers saw as less a preening exaltedness of those self-proclaiming extremists, but a willingness to enter into dialogue, as Obama said in his inaugural speech.

America was not founded as a theocracy. It was not founded as a dictatorship of preening prigs either. It was founded as a melting pot, not only of people, but of ideas.

There are people out there unwilling to listen to ideas outside their own. Beware of such people. They will judge you, many calling themselves Christians. Step out of their way, be kind, be civil, but be ready to rise up and call them by their true name: Extremists.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Marines Face Questions About Rescue of Officers in Libya - NYTimes.com

Marines Face Questions About Rescue of Officers in Libya - NYTimes.com

I am concerned we may have lost the free press some time in recent history. This story, questioning the events surrounding the successful rescue of the pilots downed in Libya, is the only instance I have found that has been covered by a US press. There are many other published pieces across the world, but the US press is largely silent.

Apparently as reported in the UK Daily Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8402156/Libya-US-warplanes-carried-out-strafing-runs-to-rescue-downed-pilot.html), Osprey helicopters rescued one of the pilots who had been given aid by friendly Libyans. Harrier jets apparently strafed the area around the rescue operation, injuring eight Libyans, one of whom reportedly lost a leg.

There are two important questions here: Why would the military fire on obvious friendly targets, and why wouldn't the US press be all over this story?

Saturday, January 01, 2011