GOP: The Nattering Nabobs of Negativism

February 9, 2012

The G.O.P. is rapidly devolving into the Debbie Downer of America. The current circus that is the Republican Presidential Candidate field has earned a reputation for negative campaigning on everything, including each other. To listen to the likes of Santorum, Gingrich, Romney and Paul one would think that America is on the verge of disappearing from the face of the Earth! They offer no positive solutions to any of the numerous problems they constantly complain about. Some of the problems that worry them don’t even exist. You can’t get more negative than that!

Republican Congressmen are no better. Osama bin Laden is finally brought to justice and they say the threat of terrorism is worse now because al-Qaida is non-centralized. The unemployment rate has been dropping steadily and non-government jobs are growing at a rate faster than the last 3 years, but they say the Country is on the verge of becoming another Greece.

So the question to consider is this: is the G.O.P. simply out of touch with reality or have they become the manifestation of Spiro Agnew’s “nattering nabobs of negativism”?

Taliban America

February 9, 2012

Those of us who want to rest snugly in the denial that our Country is immune from the religious madness such as the Taliban that is tearing apart other countries, are getting a double-dose of reality right now. Between the US Supreme Court and the Conference of Catholic Bishops, one can hardly ignore the rising tide of religious authoritarianism rising. Taliban America?

In a recent Supreme Court ruling on a case where a Lutheran Church was allowed to discriminate against handicapped employees, the Court ruled in effect that Secular Law cannot interfere with Ecclesiastical Prerogative. In other words, a Church can discriminate against any American on the basis of the separation of Church and State. Well, so much for the Constitution protecting us from Shari’a Law. I mean, if an Imam chooses to enforce the religious penalty for adultery and beheads a woman, what’s to stop them? Like the Citizens United decision, the SCOTUS has opened the door to one of the most destructive forces against our liberties. Permission to violate the law or Constitutionally protected rights because of religious beliefs is dangerously close to have no Constitutional rights at all, which brings us to another aspect of religious assaults on our liberties… the political interference of religions in our Country.  

The Catholic bishops are “outraged” that Catholic-sponsored health care institutions and insurances must be required to provide birth control as prescribed and are launching a political and media-driven campaign against the government forcing them to “violate their conscience”.  Let’s set aside the obvious contradiction of Catholic Bishops (who enabled and covered-up child sex abuse) invoking a conscience of any kind, and consider the issue for what it is: money. The vast majority of Catholic women have used birth control and the majority of Catholics support the mandate requiring providing birth control, and Catholic Institutions could easily avoid the mandate by refusing any tax monies. If conscience means that much to the bishops, why not perform acts of charity without relying on tax money to make a profit?  If their conscience comes into conflict with the concept of “equal under the law”, then do your own thing without our tax money. They want to be free to make money by collecting tax money, while being tax exempt. It seems odd that men whose conscience didn’t bother them a bit when children were being sexually abused, would be so outraged that they would have to provide equal treatment to all women, or, maybe not.

No Christian Right

February 2, 2012

The recent meeting of Evangelical leaders in Texas to designate the “Christian Candidate” initially struck me as reminiscent of the 1957 meeting of Mafia families in the Poconos. In 1957 mob leaders from all of the “families” met in a resort in the Appalachian Mts. to strategize their response to Federal efforts to break them apart. For decades the Mafia (or “Cosa Nostra”) had ruled crime in America and dictated how many legitimate businesses could conduct business. However, by 1957 their powerhold had already all but ended by the efforts of law enforcement and, the by the emergence of other organize crime groups. When the meeting was broken up by a raid by the FBI (something that was unthinkable before) they had to know their day on the throne had ended.

Similarly, the Evangelical leaders of the “Christian Right” should also know that their time is past, with their power eroded by a society that has rejected their political/cultural agenda and the emergence of other political “syndicates” such as the Tea Party and Super Pacs. However, the real sign that they have lost the “culture war” is the emergence of Newt as the “Jesus” candidate (that is not a reference to what Newt thinks about himself). The fact that evangelicals in South Carolina and Florida voted overwhelmingly for Newt is the most persuasive argument that while evangelical leaders talk the talk, their followers don’t walk the walk.

It is no surprise to me that Evangelicals have lost their political flock. Their whole mojo was about capturing the perpetual resentment, anger and hatred of Christians, especially in the South.  Now that the Tea Party has provided a less-filtered outlet and Newt has provided the unfiltered rhetoric, Evangelicals are left to scamper from Texas and try to claim some sense of relevance. Meanwhile, most of society has moved on culturally and support reproductive rights, gay rights and free will.

JoePa and Newt

February 2, 2012

Joe Paterno died this past weekend. It was a sad ending to a sad weekend when Newt won the S. Carolina primary. I think that Newt and JoePa share something in common and a lesson to all of us.

Many people conflate Paterno’s record as a football coach with who he was as a person. To be sure, coaching football was his life’s work, and I am sure he would have liked to be remembered for his accomplishments on the field. However, his character off the field will be just as much an enduring part of his legacy. And it should be. We can distinguish what he accomplished as a coach from what he was as a human being. Sure, JoePa contributed to the University and had a positive impact on many lives. He obviously cared about his players and coaches. He also enabled children to be raped.

In every life there are moments that define who we are, that define our character and legacy. It is not the mistakes we make, that define us, but how we respond to the mistakes. JoePa chose to protect his legacy and power as a football coach, and by doing so, destroy the lives of children he was obligated to protect and his reputation as well. If he had reported the abuse he knew had happened, then no other children would have been harmed, and it would have reflected honor on him and his program. Instead, to the very end he claimed that he did nothing wrong and, while giving mouth-service to the victims, he continued to hold on to his power as head coach. Whatever character flaw had clouded his judgment with Sandusky, there is no excuse for what he did afterwards. He chose to protect his program and his reputation. He lacked the character to do the right thing. As a football coach he was great, as a human being, I wouldn’t trust him as my baby-sitter.  

The amazing thing about Paterno is that people refuse to see him as he revealed himself, and they want to continue to hold onto their fantasies of what he represents, rather than the reality of a flawed human being – which brings us to Newt. Religious, family-values conservatives just helped a man who is a serial adulterer, and convicted ethics violator win the primary in S. Carolina. The way I understand Newt based on history and the reports of his own Party members, is that when not in power, he is a political revolutionary who is charismatic and accomplished. Once in power, Newt is power-hungry, abusive, unorganized, ineffective and unethical .  We could speculate that the religious right has always preached one gospel and practiced another, or that they hate Mormons and African-American Presidents more than they love Jesus. But one thing is certain: they are willing to overlook their gospel and character for a fantasy.

Unlike Paterno whose character flaws caused him to consciously enable evil, Newt has repeatedly demonstrated flaws that directly have harmed many people. This is a man who we want to have his finger on the nuclear triggers?


February 2, 2012

One of the more fascinating aspects of the GOP Candidate’s Debates has been the participation of the audience during the debates – fascinating and a bit frightening. GOP audiences have cheered the idea of people who refuse to get medical insurance, cheered a record number of executions in Texas (including innocent prisoners), booed an active duty serviceman, cheered attacks on the poor and immigrants, cheered a call to war with Iran and the criminalization of homosexuals and the banning of birth control by States. GOP audiences cheered the rejection of the science of evolution and climate change and a rejection of Child Labor Law.

The Party of “Family Values” cheered last night when serial adulterer and marriage advocate and highly paid lecturer, Newt Gingrich, called his ex-wife a liar. The Party of “Patriots”, in Columbia (where the Articles of Secession were signed and where the Confederate flag still flies) cheered when Perry claimed that the “Federal Government was at war with you”. The Party of Lincoln cheered when told that the Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional and illegal.

Never-mind the flood of falsehoods and vitriol coming from the Candidates, the hatred raining down on them from their all white and angry audiences has got to make any American with half a brain very concerned (and it must scare the bejesus out of the rest of the world). Could it be that it is just a coincidence that only the most ill-informed and intolerant Americans are being invited to these debates, or has the GOP really become the party of Angry White People.