Obamacare or Somalia

This comment by Jeremy Lott’s Diary reader “Alex” amused me. I reproduce it here in full, without commentary. Will circle back to answer some of this later. Probably tomorrow:

Do the Republicans have an alternative to Obamacare? Actually none. (Contrary to Romney’s opinion, the ER is not an alternative to primary care. I should know as I work in one) The status quo is horrible and way more expensive. Having Healthcare mandates is a key way to to reduce healthcare costs, and was actually initially a Republican suggestion. Additionally insurance companies stand to profit and were supportive of the initiative. [Read more...]

Politics for Eight-Year-Olds

Last week, a very good friend told me about a class project her daughter was undertaking. She was supposed to solicit the help of family and friends to produce a newspaper, and would I be willing to write up a short news story on the presidential race?

The only twist was, it had to be written for an eight- to ten-year-old audience. This proved more challenging and more fun than I expected, so I thought I’d share the result with Jeremy Lott’s Diary readers:

Race for President is Loud and Close

by Jeremy Lott

With only one week to go until the elections on November 6, the race for president is very close. According to polls, which are phone surveys of thousands of adults, Republican candidate Mitt Romney had a slight lead among people who are likely to vote. However, that lead might not help Mr. Romney if he cannot win the Electoral College vote, where polls show him still behind. [Read more...]

Politics That Knows No Bounds

Patheos’s political question of the week is “For whom will you vote, and why?” The e-mail that went out to all of the relevant bloggers explained, “The challenge is to make a case for your preferred candidate in light of your most deeply held convictions.”

Normally, I’d blow this one right off because most of my deeply held convictions have nothing to do with politics. Indeed, that is the thing I react most violently against in American politics today: it knows no bounds.

The government grows ever larger and it dominates more of our time, our anxieties, our decisions. This is not healthy. Nor is it sustainable.

Democrats in DC truly believe the right solution to almost every problem is more government, even when that government threatens to trample religious liberties underfoot — as the Obama administration is set to do in a second term with its implementation of Obamacare. Some would assign to Obama and company base motives, but I truly believe they are incapable of seeing the issues any other way. A better, Buckleyan term for it would be invincible ignorance.

I am not a Republican but one of the reasons I end up voting that way more often than not is that the GOP has made some effort to restrain politics to its rightful place. It’s best to vote for Republicans with both eyes open, however, and selectively.

The other day I filled out my ballot here in Washington state, which has not the remotest chance of casting its Electoral College votes for Romney. This means my vote is really just a statement of preference. And so, as in the last election cycle, I voted for my dad, Bob Lott. (The last time I voted for a Republican for president was in 2000.)

The Bob Lott vote was no joke, though if I voted in a swing state like Virginia, I would have at least considered voting for Romney. Not because I trust him politically, mind you, but because Obama has been so awful on so many issues of great import — from spending to Obamacare to now just flat out lying about what happened in Libya. It might be nice if somebody showed him the door.

Many of my other votes for statewide races and for Congress went to Republicans, with one very obvious exception. Brad Owen is Democrat, but something of a throwback who recognizes that politics ought to have limits. He’s Washington State’s Lieutenant Governor who has served with distinction in that constitutionally small office since 1996.

As the world’s most living expert on the vice presidents, I never take lightly the possibility that the number two will have to step into a larger role. My political disagreements with the lieutenant governor are considerable, but everything we’ve seen of the man over the past 16 years leads me to believe Owen would make a fine governor, should the need arise.

Content Director’s Note: This post is a part of our Election Month at Patheos feature. Patheos was designed to present the world’s most compelling conversations on life’s most important questions. Please join the Facebook following for our new News and Politics Channel — and check back throughout the month for more commentary on Election 2012. Please use hashtag #PatheosElection on Twitter.

The Bestseller That Never Was

In the Huffington Post today, I write about my new short free e-book Mitt Romney’s Mormon-Christian Coalition. (Get it for no dollars and zero cents right here, folks.) It grew out of an earlier project that never got off the ground called The Case Against Mitt Romney.

It is one of the great disappointments of my life that that book never found a publisher, despite quite a lot of effort. It would have been used by critics of Romney in the Republican primaries and in the general election. Because of the nature of the book, as I explain in the HuffPo piece, it also would have been a good resource for his defenders.

There is an element of randomness in what makes for a hit, but it would have had the best chance of anything I’ve ever written in making all the relevant bestseller lists. At least I was able to salvage some of that project and knock out a quickie e-book. Hope y’all enjoy it.

Have I Been Assimilated?

Your diarist wonders if it’s even possible for a working writer to resist Twitter at this point, especially during a political season. The short answer is that it’s possible but not feasible — not if you want your opinions to have some currency anyway.

Several Twitter accounts have been set up for me over the years by friends and employers. I had treated them mostly with indifference. Then I started blogging for Patheos and the powers that be (ahem) strongly encouraged me to start a Twitter account. [Read more...]

A Warm Bucket of TV

Yes I just did a Huffington Post Live segment about the Vice Presidents. Had to rush to get home in time and there were numerous technical problems, but, hey, I showed up! If you want to see that, the clip is here. I’m too mortified of the whole experience to go there any time soon.

My Catholic Problem — and Ours

I am grateful for the Patheos political question of the week this time out. A bunch of us have been asked to answer the question, “What are the key issues at stake in this election for people of your tradition?”

My religious tradition is Catholicism, full stop. There are two issues that should be of paramount importance to Catholics, and they make a choice at the presidential level very difficult.

One of those issues is abortion. The other one is not “social justice.” As I wrote in the Guardian last time out:

The Church believes in a hierarchy of evil, which has stark political implications. It means that certain issues are intrinsically more important than others. So long as it’s legal and widely available in the US, abortion will always trump social justice issues, even if the other issues might be worthy causes.

The problem, as I spelled out in that piece, is that there is one issue that ought to be on equal footing with abortion, and Republicans are about as bad on it as Democrats are on abortion. The issue is war and the necessity that nations attempt to conform their actions to the Just War Theory. Republicans just do not believe in this. Take Iraq:

The Pope and his predecessor warned against this. John Paul II sent Cardinal Pio Laghi as an emissary to the White House who explained that the US invasion of Iraq would be “illegal” and “unjust”. Benedict XVI, then head of the teaching office of the Church, said that the “concept of a ‘preventive war’ does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” with good reason.

Last time, Barack Obama was awful on abortion and he hasn’t gotten any better. Obamacare could seriously impede the operation of Catholic institutions, medical and otherwise, with its mandates to finance things the church — and millions of Catholics right along with it — considers deeply immoral.

Obama was a little bit better on war, though he’s proved extremely disappointing on that front as well — committing the country to war with Libya without so much as a by-your-leave to Congress, for one. Obama hasn’t committed ground troops to any new theaters. Other than that, he’s been a disaster.

Mitt Romney professes to be better than Obama on abortion these days. Indeed it would be hard to be any worse. Unlike many pols who profess to be “personally opposed, but” on the issue, we know that Romney actually was personally opposed even when he didn’t want to change the law, because as a Mormon bishop he urged several women not to have abortions.

Yet his political record is not encouraging. In Massachusetts, he took the path of least resistance, calling himself pro-choice and loudly defending that assertion. He has recently said that he would not advance legislation in Congress. The legislative point is a defensible one. From a pro-life point of view, all he has to do is sign legislation and appoint good judges, but it’s still discouraging for pro-lifers who signed onto his campaign thinking they’d found a genuine ally.

And war. Don’t get me started on Romney. The only hope is that Romney actually does not believe a lot of the crazy things he’s said on the campaign trail.

That’s possible. Romney’s father missed out on the Republican nomination in 1968 in part because he came out against Vietnam. The son may have taken from that defeat the importance of sounding hawkish. I know a lot of people think he’s too risk averse to get us into another Iraq, Afghanistan or even a Libya, but I’m not convinced.

Last time, faced with the choice between Obama and John McCain, I voted for Bob Lott, my dad. I just filled out my ballot last night and again voted for Bob Lott.

If Romney can get elected, unravel the worst parts of Obamacare and not get the nation into any more quagmires, he’ll have earned my vote in 2016 — and my respect. Regardless of how they vote in this election, I suspect many Catholics feel roughly the same way.

Content Director’s Note: This post is a part of our Election Month at Patheos feature. Patheos was designed to present the world’s most compelling conversations on life’s most important questions. Please join the Facebook following for our new News and Politics Channel — and check back throughout the month for more commentary on Election 2012. Please use hashtag #PatheosElection on Twitter.