Surprise! The Catholic Church IS Relevant.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Robert Cheaib https://www.flickr.com/photos/theologhia/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Robert Cheaib https://www.flickr.com/photos/theologhia/

Christian bashers are fond of creating alternate realities and then pretending that they are actual reality.

In these alternate realities, Christianity is dying from the earth. In the real world, Christianity is dynamic and growing. Estimates are that there will be around 3 billion Christians on this planet by 2050.

Another Christian bashing fantasy is that Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular are not “relevant” to the modern world. This is another example of Christian bashers deliberately ignoring not only reality, but their own behavior.

Let’s start with the Christian bashers themselves. Who do they attack? Is it Muslims? Pagans? Satanists?

Nope.

They go after Christians and Christianity and they love to hate on the Catholic Church. Day and night, night and day, they rant and rave like a bunch of torch-carrying Nazis at a rally about the supposed horrors of Christianity and the Catholic Church. They make searching for embarrassing things that individual Christians or Catholics do, and then implying that this is the behavior of all 2 billion Christians, their bigoted business day and night.

They will go to just about any lengths to drive Catholics off discussion boards and use those boards for their own purposes. They flatter and cajole the weak-as-branch-water Christians who simp when they are stroked. Then they try to use these silly people as weapons against other Christians. It appears that they get up every morning and flick on their computers to begin their daily mission of hate, bigotry and cultivation of prejudice.

If Christianity isn’t relevant to these people, they’re behavior makes even less sense than it does now. I would posit that Christianity, in particular Catholicism, is the most relevant fact of their lives. Without hatred of Christians and the Catholic Church, they would no longer have any reason to write their gutter blogs. Without hatred of Christians and the Catholic Church, how would they feel special?

These people are more focused on the Catholic Church than Pope Francis. In fact, they are a lot more focused on the Catholic Church than Pope Francis, since Pope Francis is actually focused on Jesus Christ.

Relevant? These folks who claim that the Catholic Church is not relevant deny their claims by how they live their lives. They are obsessed, and not in a good sense, with the Catholic Church. It may be the only relevance in their sick little lives.

Now, let’s look at government leaders here in America. If the Catholic Church is irrelevant to President Obama, why did he tarnish the legacy of his own presidency by attacking the First Amendment as a means of attacking the Church? All he had to do was keep his word and live up to the promises he made to the American people and Congress when he was lobbying to pass the Affordable Health Care Act.

But no. He compromised his own place in history by going off on a battle to limit the First Amendment to activities inside church sanctuaries. He went after the basic freedoms of all Americans in order to attack one specific group of Americans: The Catholic Church.

Why? I’m not going to venture into the subterranean channels of President Obama’s mind. I have no idea what lies there. Besides, it doesn’t matter. All that matters with any public official is what they do with the power we give them. Why they do what they do is their problem.

The point for the purpose of this post is simply that the Catholic Church is way past “relevant” to President Obama. This meretricious war he’s engaged in against the First Amendment is the behavior of man who is willing to bet everything on an attempt to force the Catholic Church to bend its knee and kiss Caesar’s ring.

There appear to be few things more “relevant” to president Obama than the Catholic Church.

Now, let’s look at the Catholic bashers of the right and left sides of the political spectrum. I lump them together because, after long years in public office in which I have been thoroughly and repeatedly attacked by both sides, I see no difference between them. Right and left wing nuts are the same.

The reason that both right and left wing nuts attack the Catholic Church is the reason that they do everything: Power. Far from being “irrelevant,” the Catholic Church is a powerhouse of political persuasion. Literally millions of people will place their loyalty to the Catholic Church above loyalty to the R and the D.

Witness the 2014 elections. For the first time, a majority of Catholics voted R. Why? I think the answer to that is obvious. President Obama and his attacks on their Church made the decision for them. Their loyalty was to their Church, not their party.

That, my friends, is power. The power to inspire people to change their long-held behavior, simply out of loyalty, is political power with a capitol P.

The problem for the Rs is that the Catholic Church does not trim the Gospels down to a couple of issues and ignore or even attack all the rest of what Jesus taught. Contrary to what President Obama implied, the Catholic Church expects a lot more of government officials than that they just vote against abortion and gay marriage.

Rank and file wing nuts of both political persuasions, which is to say people like you and me, are just a blinded file of nameless nothings to the people who run the two political parties. They are numbers on a sheet. They were recruited by careful use of “wedge issues,” push polls and profiling. It’s a numbers game.

In the rooms where the decisions are made, which is to say in the rooms of the money men who control the parties, no one is committed to pro life, pro choice, or gay marriage. They want control of government monies and lawmaking powers.  They may have opinions about those issues, but their first concern is simply how the issues help them take control of the government. Their real goals are government pork barrel, using government to destroy their competitors, both domestic and foreign, and enacting policies that will allow them to seize public monies and use government power for their own ends.

The Catholic Church is a troublesome factor in this real life game of thrones, simply because it will not be controlled by these power brokers. While a good many denominations have abandoned the Gospels to deify either the right or the left, the Catholic Church keeps on following the whole Gospels of Christ.

An entity that inspires such loyalty of so many people, that will not fall into the carefully hewn lines of right and left political manipulation, is not just relevant in today’s political world; it is the last serious challenge to the hegemony of the power brokers behind the R and the D.

That’s why the right and left power brokers send their minions to attack the Church. They hate and fear the Church because it is the last challenger facing them.

Contrary to the bizarre little tropes created by Catholic bashers, the Catholic Church is relevant to today’s world in a way that no other entity is relevant. The reason it is being attacked from all sides is because the Catholic Church is that sign of contradiction to the world of darkness that every Christian should be.

My purpose in writing Public Catholic is to encourage, empower and equip individual Christians to become signs of contradiction themselves. I do not care if you are an R or a D. I am not trying to get you to change parties. I’m not interested in telling you how to vote.

I want you to fall in love with Jesus. I want you to commit yourself to Him. I want you to become a change agent for Christ, wherever you are.

This world needs conversion, and you and I are the ones God has placed here in this time and place to do the converting. But we cannot do that if we are so enthralled with the R and the D that we trim our faith to fit their machinations.

The Catholic Church shows us the Way that leads to eternal life. There is nothing more relevant than that.

The Catholic Church teaches us how to apply the Gospels of Christ to our daily lives, our culture and our world. There is nothing more relevant than that.

The Catholic Church is hated, feared, bashed and attacked by purveyors of nihilism, death and corporatism everywhere. That is because they know but lie to avoid admitting that the Catholic Church is absolutely, completely and everlastingly relevant to this dying world.

The Catholic Church is as relevant as Jesus Christ, and He is the only relevance there is.

The Christian Basher in Chief Explains Pope Francis

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Christian/Catholic bashers come from all sectors of society.

Some of them come from the left. Others come from the right. The thing they have in common is that their agenda is always and forever their agenda and not that of the Gospels.

They attack Christians in general and the Catholic Church in particular, for one reason. They want to either use the prophetic and moral voice of Jesus Christ to advance their nihilist/corporatist agendas, or they want to destroy this voice.

The contrary thing about the Catholic Church is its unbending fealty to the Gospels as a whole. The Catholic Church does not pick out one part of the Gospels to follow and dump the rest of it. The Catholic Church follows the entire teachings of Christ.

This makes the Catholic Church what Simeon told Our Lady that Jesus would be: “A sign of contradiction that will be opposed and spoken against.”

That is what Jesus said would happen to His followers when He told His disciples, If they persecute Me, they will persecute you. A servant is not greater than his master. 

This fealty does not apply to all Catholic laity, nor to all Catholic priests, and not even, sadly, to all Catholic bishops and cardinals. But the Church as a whole does not depart from the historic and eternal Word that leads to life everlasting. For guidance, we do what Christians have always done. We look to Peter.

What this means is that while there are individual Catholics who write books, give interviews and lead lives that witness to the fallenness of this world rather than to life in Christ, the Church itself does not waver in following Him. It also means that for every fallen Catholic yammering away on a talk show or showing up in a divorce court or hanging out on a porn site, there are many others quietly living lives of goodness and value that build up the Body of Christ.

It means that, while there are priests and bishops who pander to the culture, there are others, such as Cardinal Cordileone in San Francisco, who accept the brickbats and slanders that come to every true follower of Christ the Lord.

It also means that the most powerful among us are also those who are most jealous of the power this true moral voice gives to the Church. They love to stroke the fallen clergy and fallen Catholics who feed at the trough at public approbation for betraying Christ by following the world’s teachings instead of the Gospels. But those others, those who refuse to bend their knee and kiss Caesar’s ring, stick in their throats like a bone.

A case in point is our President.

No president in American history has launched such a direct and outrageous attack on the First Amendment and the Catholic Church as that engineered by President Obama with his HHS Mandate. That attack on the basic freedoms of every citizen in this country is, sadly, only one part of what he has done.

Under President Obama’s administration, Catholic organizations have had to end apostolates to trafficked women because they wouldn’t refer them for abortions. Catholic adoption agencies have been closed because they wouldn’t place babies with homosexual couples. People of faith, including Catholics such as the Little Sisters of the Poor, have been forced to spend day after day in court, defending basic rights that an Administration that believed in American freedoms would support rather than challenge.

President Obama’s recent comments concerning Christians, particularly Catholics, strain credulity when they are taken in the context of his administration’s constant attacks on the First Amendment. It seems that the president decided to sound off on how Christians and Catholics should interpret the Gospels. Not surprisingly, he called on them to put aside 2,000 years of Christian teaching and join in following after him.

In fairness to President Obama, he was speaking at an anti-poverty summit of Evangelical and Catholic leaders at Georgetown University. That at least makes his comments on topic. The gist of what he said was that Christians have been too focused on abortion and that they need to be more like Pope Francis with his emphasis on the poor.

First of all, if the president had bothered to consider where he was, he might have realized that Catholics, as well as other Christians, have placed a considerable emphasis on the needs of the poor for some 2,000 years now. He was speaking at a Catholic university because of the powerful focus that all Christians place on education.

How many of the finest institutions of higher learning in the Western world were begun by religious people, seeking to spread education to everyone? How many schools are there in Africa, Asia and even the Middle East today that were begun and are run by Christians, seeking educate those who cannot get an education otherwise?

Likewise, how many hospitals, clinics, homes for the destitute and help agencies were begun or are run by Christians? The entire HHS Mandate fight came about because there are so many of us out there working to provide help for people who would not otherwise have it. The ACLU has sued the Catholic bishops to try to force them to stop teaching Catholic teaching in Catholic institutions precisely because, they say, so many of our hospitals and health care agencies are Catholic.

Get that? So many of them are Catholic. That’s because Catholics care and have cared for a very long time about the welfare of human beings, all human beings, everywhere.

That is what following Jesus Christ inspires people to do. Christians are builders, helpers, educators, healers. The light of Christ not only shows us the Way to eternal life. It shows us the Way to abundant life for all people in this life.

President Obama’s comment was a well-done form of Christian bashing. It was somewhat like his earlier remarks about the Crusades in that it was based on a lie and that lie is being used to bash Christians and weaken the Christian witness in our society.

The other half of his comment was equally inaccurate. Christian advocacy in the political realm, especially that by the Catholic Church, is not limited to abortion. I know that. And so does he.

We both know because we’ve been in the political realm for most of our adult lives and we’ve been the recipients of the advocacy from Catholic entities about everything from support for increasing the minimum wage, to the welfare of immigrants.

My strongest help when I passed the bill protecting rape victims from having their personal information released was Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. Abortion was not mentioned in the bill. Ditto for legislation cleaning up nursing homes, the fight to stop Jim Crow legislation against Hispanics, minimum wage, and a host of other things.

Catholic teaching on justice to the poor and the dignity of workers goes back to Christ. It has been elucidated most powerfully by a long series of Popes, beginning with Pope Leo’s historic encyclical Rerum Novarum and going up through every pope since, including Pope Francis.

Pope Francis is Peter. He is not leading the Church down new pathways. There is nothing new or revolutionary about a Catholic Church that stands for the poor. The only thing that is new is this plastic attempt to “play” Catholics by making them think it is new.

As for the Catholic Church standing for the basic right to life of all human beings, how can anyone with half a brain honestly expect the Church Jesus founded to do anything else?

Does President Obama seriously expect the Catholic Church to come out in favor of the wanton murder of innocents?

President Obama’s many little jibes at Christians in general and Catholics in particular are finely-tuned Christian bashing administered by a self-serving pro in the art of skewering his political opponents. They are also, as these things must be, based on lies.

I’ve already done a whole series on the appalling inaccuracies in the way Christian bashers depict the Crusades. I suppose I can do another one on the even more appalling — since the evidence to the contrary is right in front of them — way that Christian witness is slandered and lied about.

It disgusts me when the President of the United States says things like this. He has no business inciting prejudice against a whole group of Americans. He also has no business telling churches how to interpret theology. As he once said, that is “above his pay grade.”

I am resigned to the fact that our president is a Christian basher. I don’t like it. But I’ve been forced by his own behavior and comments to accept it.

This man needs our prayers friends.

Perhaps more important than that, Christians everywhere need to stop letting Christian bashers define them, their faith and their culture. Christian bashers are bigots. They are liars. They are haters of the first order. Remember that when they try to tell you something about your faith.

Today, Right Wing Nut Catholic Bashers Attack the Church

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Russ https://www.flickr.com/photos/89119745@N00/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Russ https://www.flickr.com/photos/89119745@N00/

Yesterday, we were informed by left wing nut Catholic bashers that the Catholic Church Will Now Forgive Your Abortion. 

This was described as a departure from the bad old days when the Catholic Church didn’t forgive such sins. It was credited to Pope Francis and his efforts to make the Church more “relevant.”

“Relevant” as it used to describe the Catholic Church by left wing nut Church bashers, means that the Church is going to get with it and join the trendy new zeitgeist in canceling out personal responsibility before God. We can have our god, they tell us, but in order for him to relevant (to them) he must conform to them. Ie, our big G God Who makes the rules, must become their little g god who follows the teachings of the whats happenin’ now.

Presumably, when what’s happenin’ changes to some other trope, our newly minted idol will follow course. That shouldn’t be much of a stretch, since the little g god they want truly is an idol of their own making. We can change what little g gods expect of us because little g gods are us.

That was yesterday.

Now comes the right wing nut Catholic bashers and their lying, smearing attack on the Church.

The folks over at Western Journalism evidently decided that yesterday was the day for them to repeat the slander that the Catholic Church has Gone Socialist. They spread rancid hate butter on this wormy bread in their lead paragraph by saying that Pope Francis is — you know I’m gonna say it — a “Marxist.”

If that isn’t purple enough, they add that “the Roman Catholic Church has joined the campaign for a global socialist state that could turn into an anti-Christian tyranny.”

This isn’t bias. It’s Looneytoons without the laughs.

The “evidence” for these bizarre lies?

Well, Pope Francis has met with Raul Castro and “other Marxists.” The article claims that this meeting with sinners is “a new Catholic scandal as significant and terrifying as the presence of pedophiles in the church.” It questions “how conservative Catholics can continue to pay respect to a pope intent on making friends with the enemies of religious liberty.”

Then, it gets to the real motive for this Catholic bashing. Pope Francis is writing about climate change or the environment and he speaks out for the poor.

You know, like somebody else Who once said, “Blessed are the poor,” and “If you do it to the least of these, you have done it to me.” That guy.

As for the Pope’s concern about the environment, give it a rest folks. Remember Somebody Else once told us, all of us, that we had “dominion” over the earth.

I don’t believe that grant of dominion said anything about rape the earth, pillage its resources by slave labor, concentrate wealth in a few hands and impoverish everyone else, destroy every animal that walks the planet except for those you keep as pets, make the air unbreathable and the water undrinkable, all for the almighty profit of multinational corporations who dominate governments to the detriment of their citizens around the globe.

St John Paul II spoke of corporatism as a great evil that destroys human dignity and human life. Pope Benedict XVI did the same. Both popes also spoke of the threats to the environment.

So far as I can remember, the Beatitudes and Jesus’ words about the judgement have not been removed from any Bibles. True, they are thoroughly ignored by fallen clergy who, like their left-wing brethren who bow down before the D, prostrate themselves before the R.

But if you follow Jesus Christ, as opposed to puppet political jesus, you’ve got to know that Pope Francis is right on in what he’s doing, just as St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI were right on.

As for Pope Francis meeting with sinners, well folks, that’s what people who want to convert the world have to do. I’ve got a big news flash for you: It’s very possible that Mr Castro, who’s talking publicly about converting, may end up entering heaven while the self-righteous, Church-bashers behind this article stand outside.

I’m getting that notion from the same big G God Who said Blessed are the poor and if you have done it to the least of these you have done it to Me. He’s the One Who told the fallen priests and sold-out officials of His day that prostitutes and tax collectors would enter the Kingdom of Heaven before them.

These slimy Church-Catholic-Christian bashers, both of the left and the right, need to get wise. Their false gods of abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia, corporatism won’t save them on the Day of Reckoning. What are they going to do when they stand before the Living God and face the fact that they used their time and their talents to drive people away from Christ? How much worse for those who committed this terrible sin in order to make money, promote themselves and bow down to the R and the D, or, to the corporatist empires who pay them?

People who write this tripe do not need to be attacked. They need to be pitied. No matter how much money and fame they garner by attacking Christians, Christianity and the Catholic Church, they are laying up dross for themselves in eternity.

They need our prayers.

What they should not get is our followership.

Christians who abandon Christ to follow after these false prophets of false gods of the left and the right are leaving the Way and going down the path to perdition behind them.

Follow the Pope. Stay with the Catholic Church. And do what Jesus tells you to do.

Anything else is the wrong path.

From Western Journalism:

Since we published our article, “Catholic Church Captured by ‘Progressive Forces,’” it is starting to dawn on many in and out of the media that Pope Francis has come down on the side of the “progressive,” and even Marxist, forces in the world today.

Writing on TheBlaze and commenting on the pope’s friendly meeting with Cuban dictator Raul Castro, Catholic writer Stephen Herreid of the Intercollegiate Review called the pope’s dealings with Castro and other Marxists “a new Catholic scandal” as significant and terrifying as the presence of pedophiles in the church. He wonders how conservative Catholics can continue to pay respect to a pope “intent on making friends with the enemies of religious liberty.”

Christianity Declines Sharply in America. Here’s the One, Two Three of It.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Woodlouse https://www.flickr.com/photos/woodlouse/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Woodlouse https://www.flickr.com/photos/woodlouse/

Recent polls show a seven percent drop in the past eight years in the number of Americans who identify themselves as Christians.

This is due to a number of influences. Here is a short list of things I think have contributed to this situation.

First, and absolutely foremost, the incessant Christian bashing and hazing of Christians has to be at the top of the list. Christianity is attacked from every quarter, every single day. Christians have become the new hate group and Christianity is the new hate faith. This is done by lies, slander, half-truths, mockery and flat-out hate. Being a Christian who stands for Christ means that you will be ridiculed, reviled and attacked.

Second, the political heresy by much of the clergy. These men — and it’s nearly all men — have abandoned Jesus Christ to go off after a political, little g god who — Surprise! — thinks like them. They have drop-kicked the Beatitudes and much of what Christ and the prophets taught to preach and teach the gospel of Ayn Rand and Arthur Laffer. They seriously claim that there is no moral requirement to policies and behavior where economics and moneymaking are concerned.

They have deified corporatism and war and claim a moral imperative for policies that impoverish the people of this country. They have become so identified with the Republican Party that they might as well take the cross down off the altars in their churches and put the elephant up there, instead.

Third, the other side of the political heresy by much of the clergy. These men and women — a good number of these are women — have drop-kicked the calls to justice and personal morality. There is no moral innovation or personal death-dealing philosophy that they do not support. Many of them have gone so far as to align themselves with militant atheists who openly state that they intend to destroy Christianity.

They have attempted to create a moral imperative for murder of the unborn, the elderly, the sick and the helpless. They support the limitation of religious freedom and join in with critics of the Gospels. They are so identified with the Democratic Party that, like their fellow wing-nut brethren on the right, they might as well remove the cross off their altars and replace it with the Democratic donkey.

Fourth, we have far too many preachers who eschew any controversy, including the controversy of the Cross. They are so namby-pamby and feel-good that you can’t tell by listening to them if they really believe in anything or not. This kind of preacher does well in wealthy parishes. All they have to do is mumble a few platitudes over the vicissitudes of life that their parishioners encounter and preach well-written sermons that are like soft pillows of reassurance to people whose problems are always wrapped in the comfort middle-class ease.

These pastors don’t convert anybody. In fact, they’re proud of not proselytizing, as if trying to save people from eternal hell was too gauche for them. You won’t find any mention of the R and D in their churches. And, except for the annual Christmas Eve candlelight service and the gauzy Easter service, you won’t find much mention of Jesus, either. They, and their churches are what Jesus called “neither hot nor cold.”

Item four is a good bit of why item one has been allowed to flourish. Their indifference to Christ makes defending Christ an impolitic overreaction for them.

Items two and three are what created the monster in the first place. It does not matter if they are aligned to the left or the right, clergy who practice the political heresy do not preach Christ. It is easy to caricatureize Christianity when you focus on fallen and false shepherds such as these. The Holy Spirit will not honor the preaching of heretics who preach a false gospel of political redemption and who lead people to political alliances rather than to the cross.

Yes, we need to take a stand against the Christian bashing that is going on in this country. We need to do it, not just as Christians, but as Americans. This vitriolic bigotry is a lethal poison in the body politic. No group of people in America should be subjected to the vicious and destructive hazing that has become normal for Christians.

Yes, those of us who are called to the political world need to stand up for the civil and Constitutional rights of Christians. We certainly should vote for an end to abortion and to save the family. No Christian can vote for murder, which means you cannot vote for abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem cell research. You may not kill people.

But by the same token, no Christian should vote for corporatism and corporate welfare that impoverishes the people of this country. Economically, this country has been at war since 1941. That, and not social security, is why we have a deficit. History is replete with the economic meltdowns that occur when wars go on too long.

Too many of our wars are fought for corporate greed rather than to protect the people of this country. Too much of our money is going to build a defense that is not even useful to the defense of this country.

Do you realize what I have just done to you? I have basically told you that you can not support either one of our political parties. That isn’t an accident.

We need to take the elephant and the donkey off the altars of our churches and put the cross back up there.

People need to hear the true Gospel of Christ in all its fullness. This generation needs the saving power of Calvary as much as the pagan world of the first century.

Our priests and preachers need to stop preaching politics and start preaching Christ. They need to preach Christ and Him crucified without shame or dissembling, with the full power of belief. We need to convert this culture, one person at a time.

We will not do that with politics. We will do it by the power of the Holy Spirit. We will change the world when we start trying to change the world for Christ and Him alone.

Our clergy need to preach Christ. You and I need to preach Christ as well; with our lives, with our words, with our daily witness. But none of us — not clergy, not laity — can do this without the power of the Holy Spirit. That begins on our knees.

Pray. Pray every day. Pray for real. Then be a living witness to your salvation.

As for our clergy, stop thinking it’s about you. It’s not. You weren’t called to do well. You were called to do good. Your vocation is meant to make a gift of you to God’s people. All vocations do that. They make us a gift to others.

We need shepherds.

Far too often, we’ve had wolves.

From the USA Today:

WASHINGTON — The United States is a significantly less Christian country than it was seven years ago.

That’s the top finding — one that will ricochet through American faith, culture and politics — in the Pew Research Center’s newest report, “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” released Tuesday.

This trend “is big, it’s broad and it’s everywhere,” said Alan Cooperman, Pew’s director of religion research.

Christianity still dominates American religious identity (70%), but the survey shows dramatic shifts as more people move out the doors of denominations, shedding spiritual connections along the way.

Atheists and agnostics have nearly doubled their share of the religious marketplace, and overall indifference to religion of any sort is rising as well. Only the historically black Protestant churches have held a steady grip through the years of change.

 

 

Gay Marriage Activists are Kinda Making My Point

Indiana Govenor Mike Pence. Photo Source: Wikimedia, by Gage Skidmore

Indiana Govenor Mike Pence. Photo Source: Wikimedia, by Gage Skidmore

I wrote a post a couple of days ago in which I asked the question Are Gay Marriage Activists Too Needy to Take Yes for an Answer?

The combox response was immediate and vociferous. Before I could say “wedding cake,” the discussion had abandoned the matter of political exigencies, as well as the weighty Constitutional questions involved, to become a discussion about whether or not gay people are people (yes) and what causes homosexuality (as of today, unknown, but I’m personally betting on a combination of causes both genetic and social, along with unique personal vulnerabilities.)

It seems that nobody is willing to deal with the real issues involved in the media drubbing of Indiana in favor of the use of government force against a long-held and time-honored religious belief that spans the millennia, circles the globe and directly challenges the freedom of religion of fully 70% of the American electorate. Likewise, nobody wants to discuss at all — and I mean at all – the vicious corporatism involved in corporate heads directly and effectively dictating the actions of governors, as Wal Mart did in Arkansas, or as many other corporations are trying to do with Indiana.

Nobody asks what, pray tell, does a corporate boycott of a state mean? Is Apple planning to close its Apple stores in Indiana? Is it planning to refuse downloads from the app store to Indianians? If it tries this, will it be legal? Corporations are certainly allowed to sell their products where they will, but are they allowed to use the sale of their products as direct political blackmail of elected officials? Are cell phone companies allowed to refuse service, are corporate hospitals allowed to refuse treatment, to citizens whose elected officials vote in ways that offend the plastic sensibilities of corporate heads?

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson Photo Source: Wikimedia, public domain

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson Photo Source: Wikimedia, public domain

How far have we gone down the road toward corporate fascism, otherwise known as corporatism, when these businesses feel no temerity whatsoever in using their clout to dictate public policy in this manner?

None of this is a surprise to me. I’ve seen the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce shove people around like garden variety thugs for a long time now. I’ve seen the corruptions of legislation written by corporate thinkers and passed by a toady legislature to the detriment of the people. I’ve seen a legislature and a governor that flat-out refused to provide storm shelters for school children in this most tornado-bound of states because the Chamber of Commerce wanted to repeal the tax that would have funded it.

So I’m not surprised at all to see the corporate leaders decide to flex their muscle on a national scale to bring errant elected officials to heel. And I’m also not surprised to see those elected official tug their forelocks, bow from the waist and perform as ordered.

Both political parties have their corruptions. I’m going to write Monday about a corruption coming from the Democratic White House. But the Republicans are corporatist puppets first, and everything else, including pro life, pro family, pro second amendment, and pro religious freedom, second. These things we care about are campaign slogans to them in exactly the same way that “getting America working again” is a campaign slogan for the Democrats.

Elect a majority Republican governing body and what do you get? Corporatism.

Elect a majority Democratic governing body and what do you get? It appears that what you get, at least from the White House, is abortion and gay rights thinking points, mainlined into the body politic.

In the meantime, nobody’s going back to work. Nobody’s children are any safer from the next big tornado. Nobody is living fat except the people who bought and own the government to the point that they are now going public with it and publicly instructing governors, as happened with the Governor of Arkansas, as to how to perform their office, and (get ready for this, now) the governor is doing what he’s told.

That’s one aspect of this sorry mess.

The other aspect is the outrageous shark-jumping on the part of gay marriage advocates. They’ve strained credulity repeatedly by equating their wedding cakes and flowers with the massive and singular violation of human rights that we call segregation. This is a bogus argument. (A statement that I’m sure will engender endless rounds of circular debate.)

The political exigency is that gay marriage advocates are endangering their still unsolidified victories in the sphere of gay marriage by seeking to conflate themselves with people who were slaves in this country for several hundred years, and who then were subjected to massive violations of their basic human rights by legal structures that clearly violated both the Constitution and the Gospels.

Gay people have their just claims about mistreatment as well, but the public mistreatment of homosexuals has pretty much fallen by the wayside. As it should have.

If they’re smart, they’ll take yes for an answer and let time resolve this debate about wedding cakes. If they’re stupid, they’ll keep on harassing and attacking hapless individuals and ruining their lives. They’ll pit themselves against basic freedoms that belong to everyone, including themselves.

This is stupid politically, because it raises up an opposition they have not dealt with before. That is those people who actually treasure freedom of religion in this country, irregardless of gay marriage.

It is also stupid because almost all gay people are down here the pits with the rest of us. Empowering corporations to attack the one voice capable of challenging their hegemony over our government and our way of life, which is the Church, is a little bit like arming the mob that wants to burn down your neighbor’s house because you don’t like your neighbor. How long before that same mob, armed with the weapons you gave them, will turn on you? When they do, your neighbor, who would have come to your aid, will be too weak to fight.

To get back to the post I put up earlier. I think that this combox avoidance of dealing with the reality of this present situation is telling. Ignoring the issues at hand to go  skittering down the worn-through debates of just how human gay people are, and what causes them to be gay in first place kinda makes my point. If that doesn’t make my point, then I offer the splendid display of emotional fireworks the post created.

It wasn’t a post attacking homosexual people. It was a post warning of the utter cold-bloodedness of politics. But the ire it wrought was entirely along the “how can you saaaayyyyy that about me?” line. The reason, I think, is that I accidentally hit a nerve. Neediness is at the bottom of a lot of this political sturm und drang. My advice to gay marriage advocates is to get your head out.

Politics is an uncaring bosom on which to lay your emotional head. Gay people are the same as straight people. Nothing will fill the holes inside their hearts except the love of God in Christ Jesus. Take those sorrows, rejections and self-questions to the cross.

Politics is a tool. Use it freely as any other American citizen should. But do not confuse it with your worth or your value as a child of God. There is only one affirmation any of us needs. Without it, no other affirmation will suffice. Go to the cross. And trust Him. Just, trust Him.

Jesus loves gay people as much as He loves any one else. He wants to enfold you in His mercy. He wants to lift your pain off you and set you free from the chains that bind you. Go to Him and trust Him.

As for politics, We the People need to get together against these overbearing corporatists while we still can. By that I mean all the people, both gay and straight.

 

America and Its Half Million Homeless Ghosts

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by David Poe https://www.flickr.com/photos/mockstar/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by David Poe https://www.flickr.com/photos/mockstar/

Foxes have dens, birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head. Jesus Christ

Sprinklergate, the story that the Cathedral of St Mary in San Francisco was using its sprinkler system to clear the cathedral steps of homeless people, is a symptom of a big-time problem.

That problem is that American cities are haunted by over a half million ghosts. These ghosts sleep on park benches, sidewalks and in shelters. They panhandle and go through dumpsters, searching for clothing, food, money, drugs.

These are not silent ghosts. They accost us as we walk to work, they wave signs begging for cash as we drive down the road. They take over the public libraries and, as St Mary’s has discovered, can block entrances to buildings with their vacant-eyed vigils.

The ghosts haunting American cities are the homeless. They are not in any way homogenous. Some of them are temporary down and outs. Others are mentally ill. Many are drug addicts and alcoholics. Others are panhandlers posing as homeless while they ply their trade.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by davejdoe https://www.flickr.com/photos/92414546@N04/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by davejdoe https://www.flickr.com/photos/92414546@N04/

Homelessness is the opposite of the American dream. It is the opposite of what, until a few decades ago, was the American self-image. I am old enough to remember a time when America did not have homeless people lying on its park benches, snoring in its libraries and blocking the entrances to its churches.

I was born in that era between the Great Depression with its hobos and today with our ubiquitous and ignored homeless.

America’s basic response to homelessness among so many of its citizens, including many children, has been to ignore them. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development issues a glossy report on the homeless every year. This report differentiates between types of homelessness. There are the homeless who stay with relatives, and are not, to my way of thinking, truly homeless at all.

Then there are those who sleep in shelters or whatnot. Finally, we get to the homeless that inspire us to such conflicting feelings of pity, indifference and annoyance, those who do not have shelter at all.

In the meantime, while we ignore the homeless, and refuse to even take a look at the government policies and social changes that made them homeless, we shift the burden for dealing with them onto whoever the homeless themselves chose to impose themselves upon.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Alex Barth https://www.flickr.com/photos/a-barth/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Alex Barth https://www.flickr.com/photos/a-barth/

Businesses, public buildings of all sorts, churches and other facilities can easily find themselves unable to perform their intended functions because of the homeless sleeping on the sidewalks at their entrance or sitting inside their buildings. Mothers won’t bring the kiddos to the library if the homeless take it over. Guests won’t check into hotels whose entrances are blocked or whose lobbies are filled with homeless people. Churches can’t hold services if the worshippers stay away rather than step over the homeless, sitting on the steps.

We ignore the homeless because we feel helpless to do anything decisive for them. We ignore them because we don’t truly understand what policies and practices of political and social corruption made them homeless in the first place. We ignore the homeless because they overwhelm us and baffle us and scare us.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by David Hood https://www.flickr.com/photos/131405116@N07/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by David Hood https://www.flickr.com/photos/131405116@N07/

Worse, we ignore them because if we acknowledged that many of our political and social ideas on both sides of the political spectrum have created this problem and allowed it to grow, it would require us to re-evaluate many of our simplistic viewpoints. We ignore the homeless because not ignoring the homeless would require us to change.

So, we dump them.

We dump them on the businesses and operators of public buildings. We dump the problem on the administrators of these businesses, public buildings and churches. Then, when they take any action to dislodge the homeless from camping out on their property and blocking access and use by those for whom it was intended, we excoriate these administrators for their heartlessness.

This public venting of moral outrage has nothing to do with compassion. It is just us, being our hypocritical selves about a problem we will not do anything to solve. We will not take a homeless person home and house them in our spare bedroom. We will not let them sleep on our porch. We will not change our politics to fit the realities of real life.

We will ignore them and what brung them.

They are not people to us. They are ghosts of what once was people like us. Somebody birthed them, taught them to write those signs they hoist and how to read the hours of operation on the signs in front of public buildings.

They were once part of the larger society.

But now they are ghosts.

And we ignore them.

And we denounce those on whom we dump them for being overwhelmed by them.

And we will not change.

The R and the D: Destroying America to Win in ’16.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/

Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a stirring speech to a joint session of Congress.

Fifty Democratic members of Congress decided to boycott the speech because they didn’t want to involve the United States Congress in politics. That is a little like a doctor boycotting his patients because he doesn’t want his practice involved in medicine.

After that, (and we’ll get to this in detail in the next post) 47 Republican Senators of equal concern for this country to the Ds who boycotted the speech decided to send an open letter to Iran. Yeah. You heard that right. They sent an open letter to Iran about an agreement that hasn’t been made yet. Evidently, they forgot they were in the United States Senate.

All this leads back to the question I asked in an earlier post: Is beltway partisanship going to get us killed? 

We deserve better than the government we’re getting people. I mean from both political parties.

Now, back to Prime Minister Netanyahu and his excellent speech. What’d he say that caused all this ruckus?

Nothing.

I’m not saying that he said nothing. I’m saying that nothing he said should have caused this childish, destructive and utterly disgusting behavior on the part of our elected officials. Prime Minister Netanyahu did exactly what he should have done. He gave a stirring speech on behalf of the interests of the nation that he clearly cares about, his own country, Israel. I only wish that members of our Congress cared so much about America.

His concern in the speech was based on his fear of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. No one on any side of this situation argues that Iran is working to do this. There seems to be only one question: What are we going to do about it?

Before I get into the speech in a bit more detail, I want to backtrack a few years to our totally useless and ultimately destructive to everybody invasion of the nation of Iraq.

Before I do that, I want to back track a couple of decades to the first war in Iraq.

We fought the first war in Iraq under the leadership of President Bush 1. President Bush 1 did a lot of things right. First, he went to Congress and got actual, legal authorization for a war. Second, he put together a real coalition of allies. Third, he went into the war with clear military objectives.

The result was that we got the thing done quickly and got back out.

The salient phrase there is that we got back out. Why, when we had Iraq down for the count, didn’t Bush 1 go ahead and finish off Iraq? I think there were a couple of reasons. First, this was not the objective he had given the American people, Congress or our allies. Second — and this is the one that applies to our discussion today — Iraq served as a stopper in the bottle where Iran was concerned. With Iraq in place, there was a counterbalance to Iran, which kept America from having to be so exposed to the need to military intervention in that part of the world.

He did it for the now seemingly quaint and never considered reason in American politics of preserving future peace and saving the lives of American soldiers.

Enter Bush 2 and our pyrrhic “victory” in Iraq. People have been dying in that region of the world because of this ham-handed and destructive war ever since we engaged in it. Not only did President Bush 2 needlessly kill American troops, he created a political and military vacuum that has led directly to the slaughter under ISIS. He also pulled the stopper out of the bottle that was holding Iran in place.

Now, we are faced with the possibility of a nuclear Iran, which is to say with a possible conflagration of unimaginable proportions. Would Iran use such a weapon to kill on a mass scale immediately after obtaining it? Maybe not. But, given the instability of governments in the Middle East, and the obvious willingness of the various Islamic radical groups to kill, kidnap, torture, enslave on a mass scale, plus their evident love of genocide as a practice of domination, that is not reassuring.

From Prime Minster Netanyahu’s viewpoint, the first and most pressing fear concerning a nuclear Iran is the resulting change in the balance of power in the Middle East. Israel has the bomb. If Iran has the bomb, what would that do to Israel? Will we see another holocaut of the Jews?

That is clearly what Prime Minster Netanyahu fears.

Enter President Obama. Unlike every other president we’ve had, President Obama is opaque to the American people. I think that is the real reason why the people of this country distrust him on such a fundamental level. He does not make sense to us. I think the reason for that is that his history is not our history. He spent his formative years living in other countries as a native of those countries. He attended Muslim schools in Indonesia and clearly has a greater and more sympathetic understanding of the Muslim outlook than he does that of most of Christian America,

He spent the rest of his growing-up time in Hawaii. He attended Harvard, and then settled in Chicago. All this is to say that his experience of America is bi-coastal and, in terms of the life experiences of the vast majority of the American people, non-existent.

What does this mean to the questions surrounding Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech? It means that President Obama, for all his great speech-making ability, cannot communicate on the essential unspoken level where trust is built with the American people. This is nothing to do with his dark skin and everything to do with his almost total lack of an American ethos.

If he was an African American president, he’d be fine. But he’s more of an African-International president. American’s don’t “feel” him the way they have every other president. They don’t understand him, don’t “read” him on an unspoken level. He just doesn’t give off recognizable American vibes.

President Obama has done a good job of keeping America out of troop entanglement in the Middle East. He has done an excellent job of encouraging the countries of the Middle East to take on ISIS and wage war against them directly. This has done something that the war-sellers don’t seem to consider at all. It has saved American lives.

Now, he is engaged in an attempt of some sort to negotiate an agreement (not, notice a treaty) with Iran about the development of nuclear weapons by Iran.

Prime Minister Netanyahu is so alarmed by the potential for this agreement to let the nuclear Iran genie out of the bottle that he came across the ocean to address a joint session of Congress. Congress, for its part, doesn’t care very much about American lives or nuclear genies. They just want to poke the prez in the eye so that they can position things for the ’16 elections,

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech made three points: First, this agreement the President Obama is working to create will not stop Iran from developing nuclear weapon. Second, the agreement will enable Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Third, Iran cannot be trusted, as its interests are always antithetical to those of the United States.

The third point has certainly been true in the history of the past few decades, both for the United States and Israel. But is it always going to be true?

One question for America is how can we change that dynamic, without pulling another plug out of another bottle and setting off a holocaust of the Jews in Israel, as well as a third world war?

President Obama was trying to work out his agreement in secret, without informing the American people, or dealing with Congress.

He was outraged that Congress allowed Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak. Personally, I’m concerned that it took the speech of the head of another nation to inform the American people.

I don’t know enough about what our president is trying to accomplish to have a clear opinion of it, and that is the rub. We the people have a right to know. But I am very concerned about this new idea — which is being pushed by the press, by the way — that keeping the people in the dark about their government is patriotic.

I am also concerned about the total breakdown of governance in Congress. Even more than that, I am concerned about what these two political parties and their unending partisan power struggles are doing to all of us and to the future of this nation.

They are destroying America. They are dismantling and exporting our industry, keeping us constantly at war, bankrupting us with their constant war-time economy and allowing the nation to wallow and slowly degrade.

The only thing they care about is jockeying for the next election. I know people who were ecstatic after the election last November. They honestly thought that this new Congress was going to take any number of actions. These trusting souls actually believed the campaign rhetoric.

I knew this was not true. I knew that the only focus our newly elected Congress was going to have was the next election. The campaign for ’16 started the day after the votes were counted in ’14.

Now, this vicious, mindless and totally destructive partisanship has invaded foreign policy. I want to ask this Congress the same question that was once asked of Senator Joseph McCarthy: Have you no shame?

The bottom line is that this constant partisan bickering shows no sign whatsoever of abating. It is getting worse. If it doesn’t stop, it is going to get us killed.

The Bad, Bad Law, IRS, Congress and Stealing from Grandma

Photosource: Flickr Creative Commons by Tax Credits https://www.flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/

Photosource: Flickr Creative Commons by Tax Credits https://www.flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/

If you give the IRS the legal power to seize money without cause, they’re going to take that legal power and use it to abuse everyday folks.

It’s kind of like one of Newton’s Laws of Motion. It just works that way.

It seems that back when Congress was in one of its rare bill-passing moods, this time in a holy zeal to wage “war on drugs,” it turned diarrheic and passed any stupid law that came into its collective head. Among these was a law that gives the IRS the power to seize monies of private citizens without preamble or proof of wrongdoing, without, in fact, suspicion of wrong-doing.

Here’s how it works. Suppose, say, you sold 3 prime acres of the old family homestead. Suppose you got the not-so-princely sum of fifty thousand dollars for the land.

Rather than deposit all of the money in one savings account, suppose you opened a second savings account and deposited 7 thousand you were setting aside to pay taxes on the sale. Then, you put another 5 thousand in an account set up to pay for the funeral of an elderly relative when the time comes. The rest of the money you put in your main savings account.

By doing this innocent, and even intelligent, bit of allocating of your own money, you would have committed a federal crime called “structuring.” Because you had “structured” your money to suit your needs, the IRS could seize it without warning.

The IRS does not have to prove that you had criminal intent for the money. It does not even have to believe that you had criminal intent for it. Your money could be seized and you could be prosecuted without having done anything wrong at all, simply for allocating your money to suit yourself like, say, a free American.

The law that allows this was passed with the supposed purpose of catching bad guys, specifically bad guys who are funding terrorists and laundering drug money and such. As will all bad laws, I would imagine that anyone who questioned its utterly stupid verbiage was accused of being “soft” on crime. This kind of emotional and political blackmail, writ as it is across the internet and in cable news talk-a-thons, can scare lawmakers into voting for bad laws.

When the force pushing for the law is none other than the IRS with their vast terror-tactic powers and the president of the United States, who is off on a legacy-building crusade, voting against even a law as obviously horrid as this one gets dicey. Political demagoguery and political cowardice are how grandma loses her life-savings to government forfeiture and ends up defending herself in federal court against charges that she has violated this nebulous and entirely unjust law.

The IRS has been seizing private monies with this law for a long time. According to Yahoo News, they seized $242 million in 2500 cases between 2005 and 2012. Fully one third of these seizures “were nothing more than cash transactions under $10,000.” Half of these were returned after owners challenged the IRS action.

That’s sounds sorta good. It means that half of these people were able to defend themselves. But think for a moment what defending yourself against the IRS entails.

Think of the anguish, the fear, the expense, the protracted and ugly battles and accusatory conversations, the search for an attorney who specializes in this stuff, the legal fees. Think about that and tell me that even the people who got their money back didn’t suffer a kind of legal purgatory because of this bad, bad law.

Consider also that not every innocent person whose money was flat-out stolen from them under this law was able to get it back. It takes determination and cash to fight these things. It takes willpower and nerves of steel. It takes a lot more fight than, say, an elderly person who had been depositing their spouse’s life insurance in separate accounts, divided up for the kids, would be able to muster.

The IRS has run into a bit of criticism because of the fact that it’s using the legal power that Congress gave it in the way the law clearly says that it can. As a result, the IRS is saying that it will stop being such a bad boy agency in this regard. They promise that they are going to stop seizing money that comes from legal sources. And we’re supposed to believe them and trust them and call it square.

What’s missing in this is the responsibility of our elected lawmakers in Congress to either repeal or amend this law. I know, it sounds like science fiction to expect our lawmakers to stop positioning themselves to either (1) take back the power if they are the Ds or (2) add the White House to the power they’ve got if they are the Rs, and do their jobs.

I know that’s not going to happen. Running for the next election is all they do in Congress. Governing this great country and representing the interests of We the People is not what they are about.

They aren’t going to change that just because the government is abusing the people they are supposed to represent due to a bad law that they passed themselves. That would be responsible. It’s the kind of thing that an actual public servant might do.

This is the United States Congress we’re talking about. They don’t do nothin’ but run for the next election and serve the special interests who pay for their campaigns.

This bad law won’t change so long as We the People continue to be bamboozled into thinking that either of the two political parties is the answer to our woes. So long as they can engage us in their ridiculous pie-throwing contests and keep us mesmerized with blind party loyalty, they’re going to continue with their bad governance and dereliction of duty.

So what we have is an agency saying that it’s going to change how it enforces a bad, bad law in order to stop a bit of bad, bad publicity. Meanwhile the people we’ve elected to write the laws are ignoring the problem and behaving as if lawmaking, actual lawmaking and law-fixing, has nothing whatsoever to do with them.

What’s wrong with this picture?

From Yahoo News:

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa widow is charged with a crime and had nearly $19,000 seized from her bank after depositing her late husband’s legally earned money in a way that evaded federal reporting requirements.

Janet Malone, 68, of Dubuque, is facing civil and criminal proceedings under a law intended to help investigators track large sums of cash tied to criminal activity such as drug trafficking and terrorism. But some members of Congress and libertarian groups have complained that the IRS and federal prosecutors are unfairly using it against ordinary people who deposit lawfully obtained money in increments below $10,000.

At issue is a law requiring banks to report deposits of more than $10,000 cash to the federal government. Anyone who breaks deposits into increments below that level to avoid the requirement is committing a crime known as “structuring” — whether their money is legal or not.

The IRS has increasingly used civil forfeiture proceedings to seize money from individuals and small businesses suspected of structuring violations, according to a review by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian group. The agency seized $242 million in 2,500 cases from 2005 to 2012 — a third of which arose from nothing more than cash transactions under $10,000. Nearly half was returned after owners challenged the action, often a year later.

When Did the Democrats Stop Being the Party of Working People?

Shanghai, built by exporting American jobs. Photo Source: Flickr Commons by Christian Mange https://www.flickr.com/photos/23149310@N06/

Shanghai, how many American jobs did it take to build this? Photo Source: Flickr Commons by Christian Mange https://www.flickr.com/photos/23149310@N06/

Does anybody remember President Obama’s State of the Union address?

I promised I would talk about the politics of the thing, and I’ve been remiss in that promise. In truth, there was a lot of politics in it, too much to handle in a single post. I will limit my discussion today to one area that galls me more than most: The Democratic Party’s abandonment of working people for elitist claptrap such as gay marriage and abortion.

There was a time when working people knew they had a champion in the Democratic Party. That was back in the day before American politics went nuts and devolved into two warring camps, pushing for power and more power, the people be damned.

Back then, there was a real difference in the way the two parties governed. The Rs were actual conservatives and the Ds were actual liberals. Actual liberals gave us such things as social security, Medicare, victory in World War II, the Marshall Plan, and a steady-on determined fight in the cold war. I consider myself an actual liberal.

Actual liberals were allies of organized labor. Organized labor gave the American people a living wage so that it was possible to hold one job and support a family, the 8 hour work day, a 40-hour work week, paid vacations, paid sick leave, retirements, and job security.

President Obama made a passing reference to supporting organized labor in his State of the Union address, but I don’t think he meant it. We have not had a Democratic president who was truly supportive of working people in a long time; not since the Marxists in the 1960s’ anti-war movement succeeded in destroying liberalism. What we have now is faux support of working people from Democrats who are basically bargain-basement corporatists.

The Democratic Party is not the wholly-owned subsidiary of multi-national corporations the way the Republican Party is. The difference — and I have witnessed this in person — is that the corporatists tell the Rs what to do and they do it. It’s not even all that nicely done. In fact, any R who dares to think for themselves gets the whole hammer of the party apparatus and a mountain of corporate attack money brought down on them. The party treats them like a defective part in an engine. It pulls and replaces them with someone who will do what they’re told.

The Ds, on the other hand, play at corporatism while promising working people that they are really for them.

Meanwhile, America has witnessed the steady destruction of our industrial base by the shipping of our manufacturing base overseas — to a Communist nation, no less — while wages, our standard of living, and the security of working people have dropped year by year.

We are developing into a two-class country composed of the hyper rich and the struggling everybody else. Every promise that is made to ordinary Americans gets broken, and every promise that is made to corporatists gets fulfilled.

I didn’t take President Obama’s passing allusion to support for organized labor seriously because I don’t think he meant it seriously. It was what the Democratic Party has been giving working people for quite some time now: A sop.

When did the Democratic Party stop being the party of working people? It happened in the 1960s, when true liberalism died and was replaced by radicalism and nihilism.

Both parties need to be reformed and converted. It’s time we the people stopped allowing ourselves to be lied to and manipulated. We don’t need to change the puppet people we keep tossing out every few years. We need to change the puppet masters.

Cherry Picking the Prez’ Big Speech

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

I’ve known for several months now that I had a job of work ahead of me, explaining the current situation in Washington.

I’ve dreaded doing this because, (1) There’s a lot I know that I can’t say, (2) People are going to get mad at me because of what I have to say, and (3) I’m worn thin by worries about my mother and that makes me sort of trigger happy in how I respond to rude comments.

However, I’m going to have to try to share this with you folks. The reason I have to do it is that Christians who want to engage the political culture for Christ need a much more accurate understanding of the beast they’re riding than they do now.

President Obama’s State of the Union address is an excellent place to begin this process. It was, in my opinion, the best State of the Union address he’s given since he was elected president. He’s at his best when his back is against the wall, and the elections last November shoved him hard against the political wall.

He’s made several disastrous political mistakes during his time in the White House, chief among them, the totally idiotic and destructive HHS Mandate. I got called all sorts of names myself for saying he was an idiot to do this, but he was an idiot for doing it. The HHS Mandate is an example of what happens when political power toadies to one special interest.

Any president who goes to court against the Little Sisters of the Poor … well … that president is not being too swift.

The HHS Mandate is an example of the kind of stupidity that happens when Barach Obama feels exalted and is full of himself.

The State of the Union address last night is an example of what we get when he’s fighting his way out of a corner. Nobody gets to the Oval Office without being a fighter. Not one person who sits behind that desk is a softy, or a weak-kneed sap who runs away from a fight. The electoral process is, when money doesn’t overawe it, a magnificent selection process which weeds out those who can’t or won’t fight.

Unfortunately, it does not weed out those who get too impressed with their own victories and go leaping off political cliffs in fits of presidential hubris. That’s how we got the Viet Nam War. It’s how we ended up with Clinton’s gun control bill and the HHS Mandate. Presidents who are too full of themselves make idiotic political moves which harm the country and destroy their own political parties in the process.

But there’s one thing I can say for our presidents: They may dip their toes in political idiocy when they start believing their own campaign ads, but we’ve never yet elected a president who was a coward. Every single one of them would rather fight than switch.

President Obama’s State of the Union address was a gauntlet, and he threw it down. If he’d opted for programs like these at the beginning of his presidency, he wouldn’t have been speaking to a Republican Congress last night. Instead, he chose to go on tangents against the First Amendment and attack the Catholic Church. He blew off a Democratic Congress to pass a health care statute which helps insurance companies a lot more than it helps people.

I’ll wait until Monday to start unpacking the politics of it. We’re going to school next week, and I imagine that by the end of the week everybody, both on the right and on the left, will be gathering up their ropes and looking for a tree to lynch me. I’m not going to make anybody happy. But as I said, I have a job of work to do. This sort of thing is a big part of why I am here.

President Obama made allusions to several concerns without putting any specific policy ideas forward. Among those were global warming, support for organized labor and trade agreements. I think some of this is window dressing and some of it concerns things he intends to address outside of Congress. That raises a whole other issue which I’m going talk about in depth next week.

For this post, I’m choosing to highlight those points he made which were attached to actual policy suggestions.

As always, with every president, there are policy ideas here I like, and others that I think need a bit of tweaking to be workable.

Here are a few of the highlights of President Obama’s State of the Union Address.

1. I’ve been a good president.

We believed we could reverse the tide of outsourcing, and draw new jobs to our shores. And over the past five years, our businesses have created more than 11 million new jobs.

We believed we could reduce our dependence on foreign oil and protect our planet. And today, America is number one in oil and gas. America is number one in wind power. Every three weeks, we bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008. And thanks to lower gas prices and higher fuel standards, the typical family this year should save $750 at the pump.

We believed we could prepare our kids for a more competitive world. And today, our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record. Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high. And more Americans finish college than ever before.

We believed that sensible regulations could prevent another crisis, shield families from ruin, and encourage fair competition. Today, we have new tools to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts, and a new consumer watchdog to protect us from predatory lending and abusive credit card practices. And in the past year alone, about ten million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage

…  Already, we’ve made strides towards ensuring that every veteran has access to the highest quality care. We’re slashing the backlog that had too many veterans waiting years to get the benefits they need, and we’re making it easier for vets to their training and experience into civilian jobs. Joining Forces, the national campaign launched by Michelle and Jill Biden, has helped nearly 700,000 veterans and military spouses get new jobs. So to every CEO in America, let me repeat: If you want somebody who’s going to get the job done, hire a veteran. Since 2010, America has put more people back to work than Europe, Japan, and all advanced economies combined. Our manufacturers have added almost 800,000 new jobs. Some of our bedrock sectors, like our auto industry, are booming. But there are also millions of Americans who work in jobs that didn’t even exist ten or twenty years ago — jobs at companies like Google, and eBay, and Tesla.

2. Wages, Equal Pay. 

Of course, nothing helps families make ends meet like higher wages. That’s why this Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work. Really. It’s 2015. It’s time. We still need to make sure employees get the overtime they’ve earned. And to everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go  If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.

3. Education.

I am sending this Congress a bold new plan to lower the cost of community college — to zero … Understand, you’ve got to earn it — you’ve got to keep your grades up and graduate on time.

4. Trade and Exporting Jobs. 

But as we speak, China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region. That would put our workers and businesses at a disadvantage. Why would we let that happen? We should write those rules. We should level the playing field. That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair.

5. Medical Research. 

Tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes — and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.

6. Taxes. 

As Americans, we don’t mind paying our fair share of taxes, as long as everybody else does, too. But for far too long, lobbyists have rigged the tax code with loopholes that let some corporations pay nothing while others pay full freight.They’ve riddled it with giveaways the superrich don’t need, denying a break to middle class families who do. This year, we have an opportunity to change that. Let’s close loopholes so we stop rewarding companies that keep profits abroad, and reward those that invest in America. Let’s use those savings to rebuild our infrastructure and make it more attractive for companies to bring jobs home. Let’s simplify the system and let a small business owner file based on her actual statement, instead of the number of accountants she can afford. And let’s close the loopholes that lead to inequality by allowing the top one percent to avoid paying taxes on their accumulated wealth. We can use that money to help more families pay for childcare and send their kids to college. We need a tax code that truly helps working Americans trying to get a leg up in the new economy, and we can achieve that together.

7. Terrorism and War. 

I believe in a smarter kind of American leadership. We lead best when we combine military power with strong diplomacy; when we leverage our power with coalition building; when we don’t let our fears blind us to the opportunities that this new century presents. That’s exactly what we’re doing right now — and around the globe, it is making a difference.First, we stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists — from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris. We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies.At the same time, we’ve learned some costly lessons over the last thirteen years.

No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids. We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as we have done to combat terrorism. And tonight, I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children’s information. If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe.

8. Child Care, Sick Leave and Families.

… we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us. And that’s why my plan will make quality childcare more available, and more affordable, for every middle-class and low-income family with young children in America — by creating more slots and a new of up to $3,000 per child, per year.

Here’s another example. Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. Forty-three million workers have no paid sick leave. Forty-three million. Think about that. And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home. So I’ll be taking new action to help states adopt paid leave laws of their own. And since paid sick leave won where it was on the ballot last November, let’s put it to a vote right here in Washington. Send me a bill that gives every worker in America the opportunity to earn seven days of paid sick leave. It’s the right thing to do.


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