I Oppose Another Needless War

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by US Army https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by US Army https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/

I’m going to take a break from book-writing to go on record in opposition to the recent bombing in Syria and the subsequent escalation of United States involvement in that war. I do not want there to be any confusion about where I stand, going forward.

I gather that this recent bombing of Syria, which was a unilateral act by the President without Congress either being consulted or having anything at all to say about it, is a very popular action among the talking heads and war hawks. That is to be expected.

Certain cable news networks are always agitating for this nation to go to war with somebody, anybody. This has everything to do with corporatism and making money for the few by shedding the blood of the many. It is not a response to threats to the American people. It is a desire to make money off wars, to kill on a mass scale for cash.

As for the other news networks and their various hosannas about this bombing, all I can say is that none of the people who are so happy about this wear the uniform. None of them fight these wars. None of them get bombed. None of them suffer and die for their enthusiasms. They are wealthy, sheltered advocates for their various ideologies who have no flesh-and-blood stake in what they are espousing.

Wars are almost always popular — sometimes wildly so — at their beginning. Later on, not so much.

This nation has been economically at war since 1941. That, and not Medicare, is the reason why we have such a huge deficit. It is also why we have, over time, forfeited much of our democracy to a presidency which has become an elected dictatorship.

What President Eisenhower called “the military industrial complex,” and what some people now call “the deep state” profits from this. These same people have taken a strangle hold on both our political parties. One of these parties is frankly and outspokenly in favor of draining the people dry in order to enlarge the already vast wealth of a few. The other party talks a different talk, but bends its knee to the corporatists to raise campaign cash.

Corporatists have successfully sold a lot of the people on the ridiculous idea that spending the tax payer’s money on the tax payers is somehow or other socialism, but putting the entire government treasury and military might at the disposal of the very wealthy and the corporations is godliness. They do not invest in building this nation, or its people. Their favorite and most dependable activity is war, war, and more war.

For 76 long years, this nation has been armed to the teeth and ready for war. The usurpation of the war making powers which, according to the Constitution, belong to Congress, by a single person, i.e., the president, has put a hair trigger on this vast war-making power.

I oppose the bombing in Syria. A few years ago, when confronted with almost the same situation, President Obama chose to ask Congress for permission before bombing. The result was a sane refusal to put this nation at war in a war that we clearly cannot win. None of us has suffered because of that refusal to get this nation into that war. We have been better off for it.

From a military and diplomatic viewpoint getting into the war in Syria is a fool’s errand. It is a quagmire that can only suck this country deeper and deeper and deeper into an unending war that will drain us dry. In addition to this, the bombing which President Trump unilaterally ordered has the net effect of strengthening ISIS, since they are on the other side of the conflict from the position he has taken.

If you want to send your children to war with this man as their Commander and Chief, then I can not stop you. I can not and am not trying to persuade war hawks who are drunk on the joy of bombing people and showin’ em a thing a two that involving this nation in that war is a bad, bad, bad call.

War hawks just want war. They don’t much care about the circumstances or the reasons. They constantly agitate to get into this or that conflict around the globe. They do not fight these wars, and due to our invidious tax system which so heavily favors the rich and powerful, do not pay for them either.

That falls on the little guy in this nation. In World War II, our soldiers came from every economic strata and position of power. In World War II, arming this country was paid for from a tax structure that required the wealthy to contribute to the treasury, the same as everyone else.

None of that is true now. We the little People pay for these wars in every single way there is to pay. It is our blood and our coin. The people who constantly try to dream up a reason for America to get into another war profit from them. They do not fight them. They do not pay for them.

I am opposed to the bombing in Syria. I want to go on record saying that. I do not want any confusion about where I stand to arise in the future.

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Yes, I’m a Feminist. Why Aren’t You a Feminist Too?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jay https://www.flickr.com/photos/jryde/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Jay https://www.flickr.com/photos/jryde/

I’ve received a few jibes lately from Catholics, claiming that I must be a feminist. These comments are usually full to the brim with what are either implications or direct claims that I can’t possibly be a good Catholic, since I am … you know … the culture wars f word.

Truth told, I am a feminist. I’ve written about it, and, indeed, made whole speeches about it in many public forums. I don’t hide it. I’m proud of it.

In fact, I have a question for those of you who think being a feminist is such a terrible thing:

In a world with widespread and endemic rape,

In a world with female genital mutiliation,

In a world where women constantly suffer degrading name-calling,

In a world where many men consider it their right to beat and batter women,

In a world where baby girls, both before and after they are born, are routinely murdered, simply because they are baby girls,

In a world where the President of the United States calls women pigs and dogs, hints at incest, puts his own wife in a porn photo shoot (which pretty much answers the question, Does he love her? with a big fat “no.”) and is a serial sexual predator who sexually assaults women and brags about it in what he calls “locker room talk,”

In that world, why aren’t you a feminist too? 

I wrote about this last week for the National Catholic Register.

Here is what I said:

Pope Francis recently made a few remarks about women in which he tried to describe the phenomena that I observed over and again when I was a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

He talked about women’s ability to bring “harmony” to the world. That isn’t how I describe it, but I think we are talking about the same thing.

The House District that I represented for 18 years had a large number of illegal immigrants. I refereed the arguments between them and the Anglos of my district on a daily basis. I was the one both sides called to settle disputes, help them with their problems, and often, just to listen to their gripes.

They taught me a lot of things, these magnificently good constituents of mine. They are wonderful, wonderful people, all of them. The hardest thing about leaving public office was worrying about who would take care of them when I was not there to do it.

One thing they taught me in a clear-cut way was the civilizing power of the female.

It is inaccurate to refer to the human race as “he,” or as “man.” Because the human race is not male.

The human race is also not female. It would be just as inaccurate to refer to all humanity as “her,” or “woman.”

The human race is not “man,” and it is not “woman.” The human race is men and women, male and female, together.

Take us apart, and we die. Literally. We go back to the half-humanity uselessness that is man or woman without the other.

I saw this in real-time among the illegal immigrants in my house district. Young men would wend their way across the border to find work. They were young, really just boys, and they were in a strange world with strange customs and a language they didn’t speak. They would rent a house and hole up together;  even 15 young men sleeping on floors and existing to work.

 They went out and stood on the corners or went to the right employment agencies and were hired as day laborers by the local businesses. There was no lack of work from businesses who wanted to pay slave wages. Then they came back, with money in their pockets and nothing much to do.It is to their credit that these young men didn’t usually do anything really violent. But they were trouble. All kinds of trouble. Because a group of men without women cannot function. They descend rapidly to the lowest form of their sex. If they hadn’t been believing and sincere Christians, it would have been much more difficult for me to manage the problems they caused, and they might have done much worse things.

Over time, they were joined by women, and as soon as that happened, everything changed. Men, without women, are a mess. They are dangerous, including dangerous to themselves. Their thinking runs along nutty lines of violence and swagger. They are destructive.

Women, without men hiss and spit and turn in circles.

But when you put them together, it’s almost like a science experiment when you combine hydrogen and oxygen to get water. Put men and women together and you get life. You get men who use their strength, aggression, and physical courage to protect, provide and build. You get women who use their incredible moral strength, intuition and insight to nurture and sustain.

Together, men and women are the creative force that has built all the good we call culture, society and civilization. Take them apart, and you get ultimate and uncaring destructiveness.

That is why we need both men and women in our government. (Read the rest here.)

 

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Kellyanne Conway: Was It Foot-In-Mouth or an Ethics Violation?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

President Harry Truman’s daughter wanted to be a singer. When one reviewer gave her a bad review, her Daddy reacted as Daddies do and sent the man a letter in which he called him an obscene name.

I don’t really think this is a straight-across comparison between the situation with President Trump and the recent cancellation by Nordstrom of his daughter’s fashion line. I don’t see them as the same thing.

Margaret Truman was a young woman in her first trembling attempts at building a professional life. Ivanka Trump is a multi-billionaire, who, as Kellyanne Conway has stated, has run parts of her father’s business empire. This is not a trembling young thing, just starting out. And it’s not about one performance. It’s a business decision based on what is a big business venture of starting a fashion line.

On the other hand, the two situations bear enough symmetry that I’m not disturbed by President Trump’s twitter tantrum over Nordstrom cancelling his daughter’s fashion line. If he in any way tries to use the powers of his office to push her business ventures, then I’ll have another opinion. But a father, shooting his mouth off in defense of his daughter, doesn’t bother me.

The real story here involves Kellyanne Conway, the pro life woman who had a great deal to do with President Trump’s win, and who has been his mouthpiece for months now. Time was, I was a big supporter of Mrs Conway. I saw her as the pro life canary in the Trumpian mine shaft. I backed down about writing about the election largely because someone I trust with National Right to Life assured me that KellyAnne Conway was proof that candidate Trump would stick to his new position on abortion.

I really admired Mrs Conway at that time.

But she has lost a lot of her luster, at least with me, because of her continuous lying. I know that it is impossible to go out in public and defend President Trump without lying, but it gets tedious, listening to her rip off one big windy after another.

People become what they do. Even if she was an honest person before she got into this thing, she’s going to be changed for the worse by it. To put it simply, you cannot lie and lie and lie without becoming a liar.

Then, when she did that little drama with Governor Romney over the Secretary of State position, I began to think of her as a woman who bought into President Trump’s sadism. In short, I’ve gone from a Kellyanne Conway admirer to someone who pretty much dismisses whatever she says as probably a lie.

So, it’s a big surprise to me that I’m stepping up in her defense with this blog post today. Evidently, Mrs Conway, in her role as President Trump’s mouthpiece, launched a defense of Ivanka Trump and her cancelled clothing line. She rambled a lot, but the gist of it was that Ivanka is great.

Ok. So far, so good.

Then, she added a punch line, urging people to go out and “Buy Ivanka.”

That was a stupid thing to say. Mrs Conway was speaking as the Senior Counsel for the President of the United States, and she opened her yap and told people to go out and put money in the president’s daughter’s purse. No doubt about it, it was an ethics violation.

But it was also — or it certainly appeared to be — an off-the-cuff comment that wasn’t said with the intent to break any laws. It was a foot-in-mouth moment from someone who spends a lot of time in front of cameras.

I do not think that Mrs Conway committed an intentional ethics violation. I think she just accidentally said the wrong thing.

I can tell you right now, I couldn’t do what Mrs Conway does. If I spent that much time running my mouth in front of cameras, they’d have a lot better stuff than this to use against me. It’s just too easy to put your foot wrong — or perhaps I should say, put your mouth wrong — and come out with something that can be blown up to big proportions and used to do you harm.

Mrs Conway has been having a lot of bad press moments lately. There’s her ridiculous statement that the Trump administration was offering “alternative facts.” Then, we have the “Bowling Green Massacre” goof. And now this.

She’s obviously getting worn down by being in front of the cameras so much. And frankly, the strain of continuously lying may be eating at her, too.

Whatever’s going on, I think formal ethics charges are way over the top. If she or the President do more than this, if, say, they begin to use the White House to promote Ivanka’s business, then that’s another matter. But I think this one-time foot-in-mouth should be called out so that it doesn’t happen again, and then dropped.

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When It Comes to Political Parties, Wise George Said It All

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons http://www.the-athenaeum.org/art/detail.php?ID=14476. Public Domain.

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons http://www.the-athenaeum.org/art/detail.php?ID=14476. Public Domain.

“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

FAREWELL ADDRESS | SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 1796

 

George Washington cared about America. I honestly believe that differentiates him from just about everyone in a position of power in Washington DC today.

I include in that assessment the Congress, which is so enthralled with loyalty to political parties and personal ambition that they consistently put America last. They have abrogated their duties to author, debate and vote on legislation and by doing so they have created a presidency which is, right in front of our eyes, an elected dictatorship.

The American people themselves have become so devoted to their political party — and it does not matter which one it is — that many of them are willing to toss aside everything else they say they believe to follow these parties.

Christians toss Christian teaching in the trash to follow their party. Catholics attack the Pope because he says that some of the “teachings” of their political party are antithetical to following Christ.

The party in power — again, it does not matter which one it is — demands loyalty from its followers in a “fight” with the “other” side; a “side” which they tell us is nothing less than the spawn of satan. The party out of power — again, it does not matter which one it is — inspires almost hysterical loyalty from its followers in order to “fight” the evils of their “other” side, which,  of course, they say is the spawn of satan.

Both parties claim the moral high road. Both parties say that the other is evil incarnate. Both parties tend to tell the truth when they talk about the other party. Both parties lie, lie and lie when they talk about themselves.

I began writing Public Catholic because I understand politics. I see through things that most other people don’t even really see. I wanted to use this hard-learned knowledge to equip Christians to be more effective for Christ in the political sphere.

But I no longer believe that I have anything to offer that will be heard. My first message, and the one which I just don’t think can get through, is that Jesus has to be first. If you are unable to be around politics without becoming a slave to political forces, then you should stay away from it. Your vocation lies elsewhere.

The most important thing anyone has to do if they want to be effective for Christ in the political sphere is to follow Christ without question. You must follow Him even when it’s unpopular, even when it’s lonely, even when it’s the flat-out and obviously stupid thing to do.

Following Jesus means you follow Jesus.

It does not mean that you pull out lines in Canon law that you think exempt you from following Him. It does not mean that you parse and split the Gospels until you grind them down into some little masticated something that will allow you to ignore His commandments because you have adapted them to fit your political party’s cant.

Following Jesus means you follow Jesus.

You cannot blindly follow your political party and follow Jesus.

You cannot blindly raise up some political demagogue and make him lord of your conscience and follow Jesus.

If you want to follow Jesus, you have to follow Jesus.

Not lead.

Not dissemble.

Just … follow.

Jesus said,

You cannot serve two masters. 

If the master of your conscience, if that which informs your understanding of right and wrong, and tells you what to think and do is your political party, then you are not serving God.

There are many other sayings of Jesus I could use, but that one is enough for now. To be honest, I would like to quit doing this. I don’t think I’m getting through. But for now, it seems that this is my calling. To say what won’t be heard.

Wise George said it all when he told us that political parties would become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

He was prescient with that statement. We are watching it unfold in real time, right in front of us.

In the midst of this chaos and the deeper chaos that is coming, there is only one Way to turn that offers sanity, hope and a future. That is the Way of Christ.

But that Way requires that we stop giving over our thinking capacities to these two political parties. We absolutely must stop drinking down the mind-bending poisons of lies and propaganda that emanate from them and start thinking for ourselves.

If we do that, we will not all agree. Even Christians, who have the same principles on which they build their actions, will have different ideas about the best way to do things. That is the strength of human beings, that we are each original and that we each one think differently from everyone else. It is healthy, it is holy, for us to be the individuals we are.

It is democracy when we think together about things and work out our differences in open discussion and debate and then settle on a single best solution that is a pastiche, a compromise, of all our ideas. That is the power of the great engine that is our minds.

The blind loyalty to political parties, which are never acting for our good, unless it is by accident, cancels out both our own individual thinking powers, and the enormous power for good that is all of us, thinking together about how we can do what is best for everyone.

Blindly following a political party is offering up your greatest power, which is your individuality and ability to think, on the altar of nothing much. This little g god is like all other little g gods, in that it does not care about you.

When I first got cancer, I put an affirmation in my phone and scheduled it to come up every morning. Change or die.  That was what it said. Every morning I reminded myself that the way I had been living was, in reality, a way of dying.

America is at just such a pass right now. We are tearing our country apart over partisan loyalties. I’ve actually had people come on this blog’s comboxes and flat out say that they didn’t care what happened to the country, they only wanted to get the other side in the political wars.

There is so much hatred in our political world right now that it is scalding to behold. It saddens me more than I can say that so many Christians have given themselves over to this partisan hatred, that they behave as if their country doesn’t matter, as if the common good doesn’t matter, as if the Gospels don’t matter, just so long as they can get even with the other side of these political wars.

It doesn’t matter much which political party you belong to — and I know I’m going to get speeches here about how terrible I am for saying that — but it does not matter. What matters is what you do.

Follow Christ.

Follow Christ and Him crucified.

Stop following the little g gods of political parties and political demagogues.

Then you can be effective for Christ in the political sphere.

But so long as you blindly follow these little g gods of politics, you will be nothing more than a tool for the power brokers who own these parties. You will be a thing they use to help themselves.

Jesus said,

You cannot serve two masters. 

Think about it.

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More Senator Jeff Sessions and Mrs King, Plus a Look at His AG Resume

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

The story of Attorney General Sessions’ unsavory past as a public official just keeps on rolling.

His supporters are turning over rocks looking for “proof” that Mrs Coretta Scott King’s letter was a confabulation. Failing that, they will settle for saying that the Attorney General had a secret and unpublicized conversion in which he became a new person who no longer feels the way he once did.

I consider this latter idea to be the most believable. I just don’t think Mrs King lied in that letter. She had not motive for lying. No one challenged it back in the day when there were plenty of living witnesses to testify to its veracity. I think it’s true.

One oddball method of attacking this letter evidently came from Senator Sessions himself when he noted that Senator Strom Thurmond, to whom the letter was addressed, did not put it into the Senate Record. Considering Senator Thurmond’s reputation, that is an astonishingly weak defense.

 

I did find one article which went through some of the White House claims for support of civil rights by Senator Sessions. When these claims are taken apart and vetted, they tell the story of someone who was neutral in situations cases, rather than the “strong supporter” the White House claims.

However, it seems true that Senator Sessions did not do anything to harm Civil Rights in the instances that are cited. I think that’s the most positive indication of a change that I’ve found, and I do take it seriously.

The most recent thing I’ve seen in support of Attorney General Sessions is a YouTube video of Mrs Martin Luther King, Jr, at what appears to be the dedication of the Rosa Parks Library. Evidently, Senator Sessions was in the audience during this dedication and Mrs King acknowledged him in her introductory remarks.

It is a good thing, and hopefully an indicator of a changed heart, that Senator Sessions was present for this dedication. But introducing prominent people in the audience is a common courtesy. It is not an endorsement.

I am beginning to think that, whatever he did in the past — and as of now, I consider Mrs King’s letter far more convincing that the things brought forward by AG Sessions’ supporters — he was more or less a disinterested bystander on civil rights in his time since then. I am not certain of this by any means. But there is indication of it from reliable sources.

As I said in other posts, we’re going to find out if he’s a racist or not. This man is the Attorney General of the United States.

 

Here is the video with Mrs King acknowledging the presence of Senator Sessions at the dedication of the Rosa Parks Library.

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Did Jeff Sessions Receive an Award from the NAACP?

Governor Mike Pence of Indiana and U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech hosted by Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Governor Mike Pence of Indiana and U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech hosted by Donald Trump at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Did the same NAACP that came out swinging against Senator Jeff Sessions’ nomination as Attorney General of the United States give him an award in 2009?

A photo of a plaque containing the words “NAACP Award for Governmental Excellence” is making the rounds today. The plaque, dated 2009, was found by an employee who was clearing out an office of Sessions’. It appears, from some of the photos, that the plaque was still in its box when it was found.

This photo is enough for those who want to be persuaded to decide that Attorney General Sessions is a changed man from the one Mrs Coretta Scott King wrote about in 1986. If you would like to read her letter, go here. You’ll have to click through to get to it, but I encourage you to read it in full.

For the record, and on the record, Attorney General Sessions labeled this letter “damnable lies.” That, and not this plaque, was his defense.

Personally, I don’t find the photo of a forgotten plaque all that persuasive, even if it turns out to be genuine.

Here’s why.

Public officials get awards all the time. They come in the mail, they are handed out at functions. They come raining in from everywhere. I myself have received awards from just about every group you can name, including groups that are diametrically opposed to one another. A photo of a plaque does not mean much, especially when the plaque meant so little to the recipient that they never took it out of the box and never produced it in their favor later.

I can tell you for sure that the awards that mattered to me got and continue to get more care than Attorney General Sessions gave this award. I cherish every award I got for pro life activities. I hung them on my office walls and have them still. I also cherish the awards I got from the firefighters and LULACS and for my efforts against violence against women. No one would ever find them in their original box. I’m proud of them and what I hope they say about me.

If Attorney General Sessions is indeed a changed man, we will know soon enough. We’ll know because a man who is not a racist cannot support some of the policies of this president. We’ll know because of what he does with the power of his office.

The plaque photo has caused quite a stir. A lot of people running are trying to trace it down. But the question of whether or not the National NAACP gave Attorney General Sessions this award appears to be settled. They did not.

Here is the NAACP’s statement concerning the plaque photo, emphasis mine:

“The NAACP is composed of more than 2,000 local and state units around the country.  Upon learning of the allegation that one of those units bestowed an award on Senator Jefferson Sessions in 2009, the National Office of the NAACP immediately undertook an investigation.  While we already have strong reasons to doubt that any such award was given to Senator Sessions, we will continue our investigation until we are confident that we know all of the facts.  What remains true and unchanged is the NAACP’s strong opposition to the nomination of Senator Sessions to become the next Attorney General of the United States.  The NAACP’s position against Senator Sessions is based on his decades of conduct as a prosecutor and, later, U.S. Senator from the State of Alabama.  In matters of civil and human rights, civil liberties, fair policing, voting rights, sentencing fairness, women’s rights, hate crimes and more, Senator Sessions has repeatedly demonstrated that he is clearly unsuited to perform the duties of an Attorney General in these crucial times.”

Snopes has been investigating the plaque photo and had this to say about it:

However, the above-displayed award has some unusual aspects to it. For instance, we found no record of anyone else’s having received an “NAACP Governmental Award of Excellence,” nor were we able to locate any reports (from 2009 or otherwise) regarding the NAACP’s honoring Sessions with such an award.

When we reached out to the NAACP for more information about the award, a staffer confirmed to us that the national NAACP office does not give out an award by that name as part of their regular honors.

Did a local NAACP office give Jeff Sessions an attaboy? That would be the same Alabama NAACP that staged a sit-in against his confirmation as Attorney General. Was it a gag gift from one of Sessions’ friends?

We don’t know yet.

We do know that he did not produce it in his defense, and he did not claim to be an award-winning civil rights supporter during his confirmation hearings or the debate that followed. We do have the NAACP’s confirmation of their opposition to his nomination based on what they say is a decades-long history of racism.

Whatever this plaque was or is, it appears that it did not mean all that much to Attorney General Sessions. He didn’t think it meant he wasn’t a racist. If he did, he would surely have used it to clear his name.

 

 

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Read the NAACP Statement About Attorney General Sessions’ Confirmation Yourself.

Dr. E. Faye Williams, National President/CEO of the National Congress of Black Women, speaking outside Mitch McConnell's house on Capitol Hill as the Senate votes on Jeff Session's confirmation Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Laurie Shaull https://www.flickr.com/photos/number7cloud/

Dr. E. Faye Williams, National President/CEO of the National Congress of Black Women, speaking outside Mitch McConnell’s house on Capitol Hill as the Senate votes on Jeff Session’s confirmation Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Laurie Shaull https://www.flickr.com/photos/number7cloud/

A photo of what appears to be an award to Attorney General Jeff Sessions from 2009 is being circulated. I’m not sure what this means.

As of now, I stand by what I wrote in this post concerning Attorney General Sessions. I do regard his confirmation as a tragedy for American Christianity because so many Christians chose to ignore his racist past in order to blindly support President Trump and whatever he does.

I also question the wisdom of nominating him in the first place. There are many people who could have been nominated who do not have the burden of this shady past concerning racism. I wonder what our president was thinking when he made this decision. It has an undeniable symmetry with the race-baiting campaign he waged in his quest for office.

I also think that Attorney General Sessions should not have been confirmed. If that had happened, President Trump would simply have offered another nominee. This surfacing of a photo of what may be an old award is indicative of the ugliness of Attorney General Sessions’ racist past. Whether or not he has changed is something that appears to be so debatable that his supporters (who are in reality Trump supporters, not his) are searching to find ways to refute it.

The fact that they have to search is itself an indictment of the man. If he had truly changed, it would be more apparent than that. Among other things, the NAACP would not have opposed his confirmation as they did.

Someone this dubious should not be the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. And Christians have no business blindly following any political leader the way they are following President Trump. Many of them follow President Trump, even when what he does opposes the Gospels.

Here is the NAACP’s statement following Attorney General Sessions confirmation. Read it yourself.

NAACP STATEMENT ON CONFIRMATION OF JEFF SESSIONS AS ATTORNEY GENERAL

FEBRUARY 9, 2017

Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was confirmed as the nation’s 84thUS Attorney General this evening, despite intense opposition by the NAACP and hundreds of organizations due to his historically weak and questionable support for voting rights, police accountability and the rights of immigrants and women.

The NAACP mobilized its memberships and collaborated with partners to flood the Senate with millions of phone calls asking senators to oppose Senator Sessions. President and CEO Cornell William Brooks, Alabama State Conference President Bernard Simelton and Alabama branch leaders helped mobilize two state-wide protests involving hundreds of NAACP members, national staff, and supporters for sit-ins at Senator Sessions Mobile, AL office that resulted in the arrests of nearly 15 NAACP members and supporters.

Media coverage of these events created a groundswell of protests and direct actions against his nomination. Through the mobilization of our Washington Bureau, legal teams and national staff, the NAACP successfully fought over nine times in nine months to beat back racist voter suppression laws in North Carolina, Texas and other states that saved millions of votes.

Through our 2,200 branches across the nation and national partners and coalitions, we organized protests and rallies across the nation and utilized social media to create millions of digital impressions, retweets, and posts on Facebook and Instagram calling on supporters to demand that the Senate vote to #StopSessions.

In January alone, the NAACP earned in support of its #StopSessions campaigns gained 43,000 new Twitter followers, generated hundreds of posts earning over 14.5 million views and more than 370,200 engagements. With Facebook, our supporters churned out 573,000 page “likes,” and posts were seen 4.1 million times, while videos were watched 1.07 million times in January alone. These numbers represent the floor of our potential activity in mobilizing support for the protection of civil rights rather than its ceiling.

Despite all our work and the coalitions we’ve collaborated with, Senator Sessions was confirmed today along a clear red versus blue partisan line of52-47. Rather than hang our heads in despair, the NAACP will continue to hold the new AG and the Department of Justice accountable for enforcing protections against voter suppression, the use of consent decrees as a means of reigning in racism within police departments, protection of women’s rights and the humane treatment for immigrant communities and sanctuary cities.

The NAACP will call upon members of Congress and the committeesexercising oversight over the Justice Department to ensure that the senator does what he is supposed to do to protect the vote and to end voter suppression and police brutality.

While we vigorously opposed his nomination, the NAACP and our branches across the nation and around the world are committed to working with the new AG in the same way we have worked with all previous AG’s to ensure the consistent and diligent protection of civil rights.

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas here.

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Is Jeff Sessions Confirmation a Tragedy for American Christianity?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

In a move that I regard as a tragedy for American Christianity, the United States Senate consented to President Trump’s appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions as the new Attorney General of the United States.

They did this, despite Senator Sessions past as a Jim Crow public official. They did this after silencing Senator Elizabeth Warren for the heinous crime of reading aloud a letter from Coretta King, who is the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr. This letter detailed Attorney General Sessions’ Jim Crow actions as a federal prosecutor.

I do not know if Attorney General Sessions has since had a turn of heart and changed in his racism. I do know that the Trump apologists who supported him in their usual knee-jerk, anything-Trump-does-is-holy-and-right manner did not bring such things forward. Instead, they resorted to the trashy, bully-boy Trumpian tactics of mis-using their power to silence legitimate debate and commentary.

The sad and frightening thing is that so many Christians supported this. We now have an Attorney General with legitimate Jim Crow bona fides, and very public and outspoken Christians put him there.

This is not the first time that Christians have abandoned following Christ to follow Trump. It is just one item on a list that is beginning to be too long to list in a blog.

It began with their decision that misogyny was ok, if it was candidate Trump who was calling women pigs and dogs and attacking women based on their appearance. It took an irreversible step forward when Christians — including Christian religious leaders — decided that sexual assault was ok, if candidate Trump was the assaulter.

It also began with candidate Trump’s dark race baiting against Hispanic people, with his demonizing of them and using them as a vote-getter. When Christian people bought into this, they bought into open, frank and outspoken racism. And they liked it.

It began when Christians decided that a First Lady who had posed in porn photos, including girl-on-girl sex, was fine with them. It went a step further when it came out and was confirmed by the editor of the publication in which the photos were placed, that candidate Trump had put his own wife in a porn photo shoot, that he was, in fact, “eager” to do it. What kind of man does that? What kind of Christian supports it?

It began when the tapes became public of Donald Trump, private citizen, bragging and hinting at sex with his own daughter, saying that what they “had in common was sex” and that he wanted “to date her” and agreeing with a commentator that she was “a piece of a–.” Again, what kind of man does that? And what kind of Christian supports it?

It moved right on through Christians supporting the obvious lies of a sociopathic liar and carrying this to the point that they became co-liars along with him.

President Donald Trump has become an idol, a false god, for many Christians. This has reached the point that they actually judge whether or not people are “christian” based on whether or not they are willing to blindly support his actions.

The confirmation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a tragedy for American Christianity because it aligns American Christianity with Jim Crow racism. The presidency of President Donald Trump is a tragedy for American Christianity for a number of reasons.

First, because so many Christians, including Christian religious leaders, have been totally and abjectly willing to reject Jesus Christ when His teachings contradict Trump. They are willing to accept pornography, adultery, incest, sexual assault, misogyny and racism without a quibble. In fact, they are willing to attack people who abhor these things and claim that it is not Christian to oppose them.

They have conflated blind following of President Trump with following Christ, even when following Donald Trump leads them in ways of thinking that are diametrically opposed to the teachings of Christ. Catholics among them wave around some something or other in Canon law that they say requires Catholics to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the evils of this administration on pain of not being a “real” Catholic.

This is a massive tragedy for American Christianity. I fear that it may end up ushering in an almost total loss of credibility for Christian witness in our society.

The standard reply for these things is to say, “But Hillary,” or, “But Obama.” The theory seems to be that these people were so bad that they justify drop-kicking the Gospels and denying Christ His Lordship in our lives to follow a false god who opposes them.

That is specious nonsense. I realize that I cannot reach the people who are so besotted with Trump that they have turned their backs on Christ. That will take the Holy Spirit. Or, I fear, it will take them, suffering the consequences of their blind followership of this demagogue. I fear that in a selfish way, because it means that we will all suffer those consequences along with them.

All I can do is what I am doing, which is to say straight out and without reservation that I am not following any false god anywhere and I urge those of you who still have the wits to think to do the same.

I am not and will never be a member of the “Resistance.” That is just mindless destructiveness, with no purpose, no goal, no reason other than its own brand of mindless hate.

I am not and will never be one of the Christian Trump Worship Cult.

I am in total support of my Hispanic brothers and sisters and those who believe in women’s human rights. I do not follow anyone who supports sexual assault. I do not listen to them and I do not regard them as moral voices.

Women have the right to live and breathe in self-respect, without being accosted and violated by sadistic billionaires who ram their hands up inside them, who call them names and who treat them as things. This is a basic human right. It is at the core of of the Christian witness that there is no Greek nor Jew, no slave nor free, no male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus. 

It is a real-life manifestation of the fact that male and female created He them in the Image and Likeness of God.

I believe absolutely in women’s human rights, and freedom from sexual assault is a human right. I just don’t think that giving women the right to kill their own children is the way to achieve human rights for women. Abortion is a knee bending to the devil misogyny, an accommodation to discrimination and the sexual double standard.

Ironically, President Trump is the personification of both misogyny and the sexual double standard. He exemplifies the attitudes and behavior that led so many women to support abortion in the first place. If Christians follow him in this — and right now, many of them are following him the way they should be following Jesus — they will destroy the gains they have made in the arguments for life.

If we want to do something about the influx of immigrants from Mexico, all we have to do is choose the good, positive and Christian response of going to work to help Mexico solve its problems. We need a Marshall plan for South America in general and Mexico in particular.

Opponents of this idea usually say it’s too difficult. But what is “simple” about destroying this country with rage, hatred and unchained evil? What has the demagoguing from the Republicans every election done that has resulted in good? Has the racism of Trump resulted in a healthy country? Has it brought peace? Has anything good come from it?

Doing things the Christian way often seems like doing them the hard way. But, unlike the devil’s way, it always brings good results in the long run.

The confirmation of Jeff Session as our Attorney General was a defeat for American Christianity because so many public and private Christians blindly supported it. It was a defeat because all they had to do was say no to this man and demand that the president make another, better, choice.

We are besmirching the name of Jesus with our fidelity to political evil. We are doing this by putting our political allegiances before the one thing that should be our defining allegiance in every single thing we do. That is our allegiance to Christ the Lord.

I am aware that a lot of people are angry with me, and some of them are going to stop talking to me and begin hating me because I say this. All I can say in answer is that racism is wrong. Sexual assault is wrong. Misogyny is wrong. Compulsive lying is wrong. Demagoguery is wrong.

I know it.

And they know it.

Which is why they are willing to believe any lie to continue supporting these things.

 

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America is Breaking Apart Over the Polarizing Worship of Little g gods

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by New Life Church Collingwood https://www.flickr.com/photos/nlcwood/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by New Life Church Collingwood https://www.flickr.com/photos/nlcwood/

America is breaking apart over the polarizing worship of little g gods.

We the People have become idiots and fools who follow one banner or the other blindly, without thought. To do this, we lie. We lie about the factual world around us. We lie about those who disagree with us. We lie about ourselves. And we lie about the nature of Jesus Christ.

We have becoming willing to attack anyone — even the Pope — if that person disagrees with the ever-changing teachings of our little g gods. We claim with a straight face that we are the arbiters of holiness, and we posit holiness in blindly following one little g god or the other.

From where I stand, there is no moral difference between those who worship the little g gods of the left, or the little g gods of the right. They are both idol worshippers, and they are both living in a self-made cage of self-imposed delusion.

Sad to say, most Christians have abandoned following Christ to follow their political gods. They trim their faith to fit their politics and denounce anyone and everyone who tries to tell them that this is not faith at all. It is delusion. It is madness. It is turning away from the sanity of following Christ.

Those who say they are Christians do not denounce Christ directly. Rather, they denounce everything He said. They cut the Sermon on the Mount and His clear teachings about the Judgement down to nothing. They attack the Holy Father. They pick and choose among the clergy, reviling those who disagree with their politics and making new little g gods out of those who agree with it.

It does not matter if one has given their soul to a little g god of the right or of the left, they have given themselves over to a nihilistic anti-Christ who plunges them into a constant bath of rageful self-righteousness, irrationality and lies.

People are making themselves into self-righteous, hate-filled, irrational wretches by following these false gods of politics. All they have to do is all they ever had to do, which is turn back to the real Christ, the real Cross, the real Jesus.

I know that I’m getting a bit boring by saying this over and over. But it needs to be said. I would not want to not say it over and over, because it is the only Way.

We need to turn back to Christ. By that I mean the real Christ, not the political christ of our own devising. Stop following political gods, which you made yourself of your own worst impulses, and follow Him.

If you do that, you will take your first look in a long time at humility. You will be like someone waking up from a drugged state to look at the mental and moral shambles you have made of your internal self, and you will wonder, “What was I thinking?”

I am asking you to exorcise yourself from the demonic little g gods of this age and follow Jesus. It is an urgent plea based on a deep love for you that can only come from Jesus. Do not continue to throw yourselves away by following the little g gods of this age. Follow Jesus Who died on the Cross, Who preached the Sermon on the Mount, Who gave us this good man for this time as His Vicar.

I wrote about this for the National Catholic Register. Here is part of what I said.

Most Christians want a comfortable enough, get-out-of-jail-free kind of faith.

They want to go to heaven, but not now. Heaven is for the distant future, when they are very old and die in their sleep after having dozed off in front of the television.

The best of them go to Mass on Sundays and drop a twenty in the collection plate as it passes. They may even read their Bibles and say a quick prayer before grace.

But Jesus, the radical revolutionary who overturned tables and cast the money changers out of the Temple, who called the Pharisees “blind guides, leading the blind,” that Jesus is more than they want.

They are both afraid of and unwilling to follow the history-changing Jesus who moves societies by moving individual human beings.

They resist and even denounce the Jesus Who radicalizes His followers’ minds with counter-intuitive teachings such as “Blessed are the poor,” and “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” They don’t like the Jesus who said “You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

That Jesus, the Christ, the God made human who calls us to be more than the petty greed and selfishness that is humankind’s pit in which we all wallow, is not at all to their liking. He is, at best, uncomfortable. At worst, He is convicting in ways they refuse to be convicted.

There are sins we readily denounce, and sins we love so much we are willing to denounce the priest who preaches on them and deny the Christ who judges us for them.

We don’t much want the Jesus of the Book. We want the comfortable, easy, other-people’s-sins-are-the-only-sins-that-matter Jesus that we can trim and shape to fit our lives and our politics so that we never feel a twinge of personal remorse or regret for any of our pet sins.

We do not want and will not accept the real Jesus who told the power brokering priests of His day that prostitutes and tax collectors would enter into the Kingdom of Heaven before they did. We want no part of the Jesus Who told the rich young man to sell all he had, give it to the poor and then come and follow Him.

The truth is, we want to walk past Lazarus. We want to do it because walking past suffering is a whole lot easier than stopping and stooping to care.

Following Jesus has a price that very few Christians are willing to pay. Following Jesus means going against the zeitgeist, stepping out of the parade and being different. It means not doing the popular thing, but choosing to do the right thing, instead. It means being inconvenient, both to yourself and to those around you.

At the very least, truly following Jesus means standing up in front of the gods of this world instead of kneeling down before them. It means walking away from the worship of the false idols of politics, wealth, power and fame and following Him. It means being an outlier in a society that demands absolute conformity with one viewpoint, one way of living and thinking, or the other. (Read the rest here.)

 

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Trump, a Racist Sexist? Well … Duh.

Rep Beth Fukumoto, in Chamber. Photo Source: File Photo, Hawaii Legislature

Rep Beth Fukumoto, in Chamber. Photo Source: File Photo, Hawaii Legislature

I feel your pain sister.

Been there. Done that. Got the press clippings, the extra 20 pounds from stress eating and the bloomin’ t-shirt.

Representative Beth Fukumoto, a Republican member of the Hawaii House of Representatives, is under fire from her fellow Republican legislators. Why? Well, it seems that she participated in the local Women’s March and made a speech calling President Trump “a racist and a sexist.” She even went so far — erroneously it seems — as saying that he had no place in the Republican Party.

Punishment from her colleagues was swift and nasty. She was removed from her position in the House Republican leadership, because, she says, she refused to stop criticizing President Trump.

That’s not so different from what happened to me as a pro life Democrat in Oklahoma. It’s the same group-think, my-way-or-the-highway bullying that makes surprising martyrs of people for simply following their consciences.

It is the opposite of rational thought and leads to very bad government.

According to one of her colleagues, Representative Bob McDermott, “She said our president is a sexist, is a racist, and that we have a bully in the White House.”

Well … duh … Representative McDermott.

Our race-baiting, sexual-assaulting, woman-hating, name-calling president is all that and more. He can’t even control his bullying in conversations with other heads of state. He’s called women pigs and dogs. He’s bragged about committing sexual assault, and had something like 11 women come forward to say he assaulted them. He put his own wife in a porn photo shoot and has talked about how he wants to “date” his own daughter.

He’s the kind of sleaze who gives sleazes a bad name. Of course he’s a racist. Of course he’s a sexist.

He got elected doing all this. He’s the prez. And, as a Democrat, I’m happy to say that he’s a Republican. I will also say that there are quite a few Rs out there who feel as I do and who have said so. That alone supports their party’s brand as the party of values.

As for Representative Fukumoto, she’s considering a switch to Independent.

I wish her luck, whether she stays an R or switches. We need more people of principle who will stand up for basic decency instead of going along with the party line.

From the Honolulu Star Advertiser:

Republicans in the state House of Representatives have ousted their minority leader Rep. Beth Fukumoto over her criticism of President Donald Trump, including recent comments that she made at the Women’s March in Honolulu last month.

Fukumoto, 33, said today that she is now considering switching over to the Democratic Party following this week’s actions by her Republican colleagues, which would further deplete the party of young leadership. She had been described as a rising star in Hawaii’s Republican Party, which holds only six seats in the 76-member Legislature.

Fukumoto (R, Mililani-Mililani Mauka-Waipio Acres) said that she had been told by a faction of her Republican colleagues that if she didn’t commit to not criticizing Trump for the rest of his term, they would oust her as minority leader.

She said she refused.

“I believe it is our job as Americans and as leaders of this body to criticize power when power is wrong,” she said during today’s House floor session.

On Tuesday, during a closed door session, House Republicans voted 3-2 to remove her from leadership. Voting in favor of the leadership reorganization were Reps. Gene Ward, Bob McDermott and Andria Tupola. Reps. Cynthia Thielen and Fukumoto voted against it and Rep. Lauren Matsumoto abstained.

The leadership changes were made official during today’s House floor session.

Replacing Fukumoto as minority leader is Tupola. Ward takes the place of minority floor leader.

Fukumoto sent out a letter to constituents in her district prior to today’s floor session telling them that she would like to leave the Republican Party, but said she wanted to get their feedback first.

Fukumoto spoke at the Jan. 21 Women’s March in Honolulu in opposition of Trump, including calling the president a bully.

“In the last couple years, I’ve watched leaders in the Republican Party become less and less tolerant of diverse opinions and dissenting voices,” Fukumoto said today in a news release. “Today, I’m facing demands for my resignation from leadership and possible censure because I raised concerns about our President’s treatment of women and minorities. I’ve been asked by both my party and my caucus to commit to not criticizing the president for the remainder of his term and to take a more partisan approach to working in the Legislature. That is not a commitment I can make. As a representative of my community, it is my job to hold leaders accountable and to work with anyone, regardless of party, to make Hawaii a better place for our families.” (Read the rest here.)

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