Will the shutdown end soon? It just might.
Will the shutdown end soon? It just might.
I am one of the lucky ones.
My paycheck does not stop because the feds are playing chicken with the future of this country.
You see, I am an elected official, which means that I am exempt from all sorts of consequences for the things I do. I could lock up the Oklahoma budget (which I vote against quite frequently, btw) and put tens of thousands of people out of work. Then, I could re-write the laws so they couldn’t get unemployment compensation and reduce the monies going to our schools/roads/police/hospitals/etc to make up the shortfall, and …
Nothing would happen to me.
My paycheck would keep on coming.
In fact, a lot of people would call me a hero.
I know all about playing legislative chicken with the budget. I’ve played it — on both sides.
I have been a Democrat in a Democratic majority government in which we were trying our best to pass a budget over the heads of recalcitrant Republicans who were doing their best to lock it up.
I have been a Democrat in a majority Republican government in which my side of the fight was trying to lock the danged budget up and the Republicans were fighting to pass it.
Ho-hum and hidey-ho. I’ve done it all.
And I can tell you that it is never about the issues.
I repeat: It is NEVER about the issues.
Part of the legislative negotiating process is to play chicken.
Do you remember chicken? It’s a throw-back to the 1950s. Young men would gather out on a deserted stretch of highway with their souped-up jalopies and line them up facing one another. Then they’d floor the things and drive straight at one another at max speed. The first one to veer off lost. That’s playing chicken.
The legislative version of chicken is taking some piece of legislation that would harm millions of people and whose failure would cause immeasurable suffering and hold it hostage, thereby forcing someone else to compromise on a second issue. Legislative chicken surpasses the old Highway 9 Chicken of the 1950s in terms of the carnage it can wreak and the gravity of what it is trying to accomplish.
There is also another difference. Highway 9 Chicken carries the possibility that two people might kill themselves. With Legislative Chicken the players themselves are always — always – exempt from the harm they may do, but the price to literally millions of innocent bystanders can be mind boggling.
Let’s look at the boys and girls in Washington and this dirty little game they are playing with our country as a for-instance.
What’s at stake in their gamesmanship is significantly more than the wreckage of two souped up jalopies and the death of two young men.
On the one hand, we have the Affordable Health Care Act and all that it means, including the hyper funding for abortion and the lives of millions of babies, and the HHS Mandate and its blatant attack on the First Amendment.
On the other hand, we have the lives of millions of Americans and their ability to keep roofs over their heads and food on their tables, PLUS the entire American economy and the fear of another free fall like the one in 2008, PLUS the fear of literally billions of people around the globe who are watching Big Daddy, who they rely on for their security, play this game of Legislative Chicken.
That’s a lot at stake. Do the players need nerves of steel to do this? Maybe. But I know from experience that they are also enjoying it. If you didn’t like football, despite its blows and injuries, you wouldn’t play football. It’s the same with lawmakers everywhere. We are all fit for these battles and in ways that nobody who wasn’t as nutty as we are could ever understand, we get off on them.
That’s not a pretty fact. But it is a fact.
One other major difference between Legislative Chicken and Highway 9 Chicken is that the two young men driving those jalopies are the only ones with skin in the game. Their chicken is real chicken, since they can lose it all. Elected officials, on the the other hand, are exempt from whatever havoc they wreak. No matter who pays what for their shenanigans, the one thing everybody knows is that the payers will not be them.
So, our elected officials’ nerves of steel are mostly bombast combined with the crappola they tell themselves about the nobility of what they are doing.
Legislative chicken is a team sport. And it’s a rough one. It can, and often does, provide the minority in legislative settings with a voice that also provides much needed balance to government. It is not always a bad thing. It is a necessary and useful device.
However, it always has the potential to become a kind of drug. Elected officials get so inured to constant crises that they have trouble with normal life, which seems flat to them. They become crisis junkies of the worst sort. Combine that with a ruthless drive for power at any cost in these elected officials — who were beamed into office on a beam of special interest money and don’t really have a clue what they’re doing there in the first place — and you have a recipe for disaster.
The thing which has made this nation tick for over 200 years is the essential decency of its people, which fed upstream to give us elected officials who were also essentially decent. No matter their various scandals and failures, the sum total of American governance has always been rooted in a belief in and concern for this country.
We’re electing people who don’t belong in office. I can’t say it any other way. We are electing people who don’t belong in office.
They are being sold to us by big-time money machines who control their every act once they are in office and they don’t care about this country.
Both sides in this present shutdown controversy are lying out every bodily orifice they possess about the other side. According to each of them, the other side is entirely to blame. They are both lying. That is the only truth there is to their behavior.
I am not going to take a side in this current situation because I’ve come to the conclusion that neither side is the side of the American people.
As an American people myself, that is the only side that I’m on.
I’ve voted two times against giving people who rape children the death penalty.
I authored a bill to put them in prison for life without parole.
That pretty much sums up my attitude toward people who sexually abuse children. I don’t want to kill them, but to say I have no use for them is an understatement.
I point to all these things now in hopes of forestalling what I am guessing will be a hailstorm of negative reaction and wild accusations because of what I’m about to say. I think the new California law temporarily erasing the statute of limitation on child sexual abuse is a bad law. I would have voted against it.
The new statute I am talking about passed both houses of the California legislature a few weeks ago. It is now on the governor’s desk, waiting for his signature to become law. The law is clearly aimed at the Catholic Church. It exempts public schools and and other government institutions, as well as the child abusers themselves. It also repeats something California has already done once, which is to rewind an old law and essentially erase the statute of limitations on old sexual abuse cases.
Here are the reasons why I think this is a bad law.
1. It is a dangerous practice to make people retroactively guilty. Change the law going forward, if you want. But don’t go back and re-write laws in the past to find people guilty of things they wouldn’t be guilty of under the laws as they were at the time they committed the crime. The situation in the new California law is a shade of that practice (which is unconstitutional on its face) since what we are talking about is re-winding the statutory time in which a crime can be punished, in this case, by civil lawsuit.
Let’s say, as a for instance, that the statute of limitations on rape is 5 years. Let’s also say that it comes to light that a general in the armed forces participated in the gang rape of several enlisted personnel back when he was a lieutenant. This was decades ago, but he even though he hasn’t participated in any more rapes (that we know of) he is now turning a blind eye to other rapes in the ranks.
One way to get at this monster would be to rewind the statute of limitations (say we do it for one year to give prosecutors a window to get at him) and extend the time rapists can be brought to justice to 40 years instead of 5.
Problem solved, right?
What we would be doing is setting a precedent of selective justice, and worse, selective law-making, to get at one man. We would be declaring open season on anyone that prosecutors and legislative bodies of the future want to take a crack at retroactively. It might not be such an undoubted monster the next time. It could be anybody, including anybody that the special interests who actually write most legislation want to get at.
We could end up with powerful businesses retroactively suing their competitors out of existence with this practice. In fact, given that most legislation is about helping businesses destroy their competition with laws they write themselves and then get their bought and paid for legislators to pass for them, you can bet it would and will happen.
2. The California law is, as I mention above, aimed at one group of people, in this case the Catholic Church. The practice of writing laws to get at one group of people, no matter who they are, is egregious.
When we’re going after a group of people most folks think of as the boogeyman, in this case, a huge Church that not only tolerated, but enabled child abuse for a long period of time, it’s easy to decide that any way we can make them suffer is a good way. However, as always happens with these intrusions of the irrational in lawmaking, what begins as a seemingly justifiable exception, soon becomes the unjustifiable norm.
If the legislature can do this once, as they already have in California, then the legislature can do it again. And as with most things, the more they do it, the less outrageous it seems and the smaller the reason required to do it again.
Pretty soon, we’ve got major corporations writing up legislation that specifically limits their competitors or uses the government to control their customers, and doing it by name.
This is actually just the next step in special interest legislation. Special interest legislation of this type takes up almost all of legislative time right now. This is a bit off the subject, but if special interest legislation was eliminated, most legislative bodies in this country could finish their work in about a quarter of the time they spend today.
3. There are better ways to punish long-term miscreants than retroactive laws. Legislators do have to put on their little thinking caps. But it can certainly be done. What they have to do is pass a law that begins when it is signed by the governor and goes forward and that is written for everyone.
Of course, I am guessing that California already has all the laws it needs to deal with child sexual abuse in institutional settings. Those laws just weren’t utilized at the right time. Outrage that child sexual abusers escaped punishment because the powerful abused their power is what fuels the desire to use lawsuits to punish the child abuse enablers now.
But civil lawsuits are a poor way to deal with this problem. People who sexually abuse children should go to prison. I am not talking here about Catholic priests. I am talking about all child sexual abusers. I’ve had some dealings with this in Oklahoma and I can tell you that far too many of these guys skate. There are lots of reasons, but judges who, like Dr Richard Dawkins, just can’t seem to see the harm, are among the primary causes.
I believe that sexual abuse by a priest, or any clergy, is especially egregious simply because the trust people place in their clergy puts them in a vulnerable position vis a vis the clergy. People confide things in their priests that they don’t tell anyone else in the world. This makes them deeply vulnerable to this priest. Sexual abuse, especially of a child, is a horrific betrayal of this trust.
At the same time, I am becoming concerned that we are developing a legal and social double standard about child sexual abuse. Dr Dawkins, as a for instance, engaged in grand-standing talk about arresting the Pope because of the Church’s child sexual abuse scandals. Then, he turned around and tried to take a wink-wink attitude toward child sexual abuse in other contexts.
Dr Dawkins isn’t alone in this behavior.
I agree with giving longer sentences to those in a position of trust, such as counselors, clergy and doctors, who violate that trust in this way. I think that, considering the vulnerability of their patients and parishioners to them, it is appropriate to hold them to a higher standard. However, those higher standards should be statutorily defined, not handed down willy-nilly as vengeance.
I do not agree with a wholesale two-tiered system of justice which singles out Catholic clergy for higher sentences simply because they are Catholic clergy. That is discriminatory on its face.
I think the new California statute is a bad law that sets a terrible precedent. It’s just a matter of time before that precedent ends up being used and abused in ways that none of the backers of the law foresaw or intended.
Government of, by and for the special interests is rolling right along, despite a national debt that hangs like the Sword of Damocles over all of us.
A case in point is the on-going debate in Congress about the Abrams Tank. The Army doesn’t want more Abrams tanks. But members of Congress are pushing to force more of them on the Army, anyway.
One factor in this is, of course, the location of Abrams Tank plants. These plants provide jobs for constituents. Voting for the funding because it will keep jobs for your constituents, is, of course, pork barrel voting. But at least the Congressperson who’s doing it has the interests of the people who elected them in mind.
But what about the rest of them? I rather doubt that there are enough Abrams Tank plants in enough Congressional districts to swing a vote in Congress. So, what’s motivating this bi-partisan push to force the Army to buy more tanks, despite the fact that it says it does not need them to keep us safe?
This is just a wild guess, of course, but I’m wondering if campaign donations play a part in this. Or maybe the possibility of a cushy job after leaving office.
From the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Built to dominate the enemy in combat,‘s hulking is proving equally hard to beat in a budget battle.
Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams.
But senior Army officials have said repeatedly, “No thanks.”
It’s the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether. Republicans and Democrats for years have fought so bitterly that lawmaking in Washington ground to a near-halt.
Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there’s a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.
“If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way,” Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, told The Associated Press this past week.
Why are the tank dollars still flowing? Politics. (Read the rest here.)
Americans pay far too much for prescription drugs. Health insurance does not cover enough to keep you out of bankruptcy if you become seriously ill.
A few years ago, one of the secretaries at the Oklahoma House got breast cancer. She went through the usual harrowing treatments, and by the grace of God and good medicine, she is still with us today. However, even though she had health insurance, she and her husband had to declare bankruptcy because of the medical bills.
She was lucky in that she didn’t have to face bankruptcy under the revised bankruptcy laws that the Bush administration pushed through for the credit card companies. She didn’t have to worry about losing her house.
This is what government of the special interests, by the special interests and for the special interests gives us. Americans pay too much for prescription drugs because of the hammerlock the drug companies have on both our elected officials and the FDA. Other governments protect their citizens from drug overcharges. The drug companies make up their profits by charging Americans 200% or 300% more for the same drug as they do people in other parts of the world. Our government protects them in doing this.
I once authored a bill to allow drug reimportation in Oklahoma. What this means is that Oklahoma citizens would have been able to buy drugs in Canada legally. The bill included a web site which would verify that the Canadian pharmacy was legitimate. The name “drug reimportation” refers to the fact that what the bill did was allow citizens to buy American drugs outside our country and “reimport” them back — but at a fraction of the cost they would pay if they had bought them in Oklahoma.
The drug companies, with their hammerlock on the leadership, smashed the bill flat. The House leadership did this in such a way that everyone got to vote for the bill before they killed it in back rooms. The bill was backed by Oklahoma’s governor who was a Democrat. It was the Republican House leadership that killed it.
The Affordable Health Care Act, with all its faults, is the direct result of the control of our government by special interests. Many legislators who voted for it saw this legislation as a moral imperative. Special interests and their toady legislators created that situation.
Three prominent physicians, Dr Hagap Kantarjian, chair of the leukemia department of MD Anderson, Dr Leonard Zwelling, professor of medicine in MD Anderson’s department of experimental therapeutics, and Tito Fojo, head of the experimental therapeutics section of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda recently wrote an op-ed piece for the Washington Post discussing these issues.
“Medical bills have become a major cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States,” they say, “which is not surprising, giving the amounts that even well-insured patients have to pay for drugs … can command a quarter to a third of some household’s annual income.”
Every solution these physicians call for is a common-sense remedy that has been voted down repeatedly by politicians who are in the back pocket of drug companies.
The irony, which is certainly not lost on me, is that many of the politicians who use the power of the people against the people in this way campaign for office based on their Christian faith. They make strong statements about how pro life they are.
What they really mean is that they are anti-abortion — and once they get elected, not so much even that. You can not be pro life and deliberately do things that cause people to die from cancer. You are not much of a Christian if you sell the power of your elected office to special interests.
There are all sorts of things you can call people who do this, but “follower of Christ” is not one of them.
From the Prophets to Revelations, “unjust judges” or public officials who use “unjust scales” and deny the human rights of the poor are condemned. When Jesus described Judgement Day, He made it clear that we will be judged on how we treat others, specifically, “the least of these.”
Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Some of the politicians who flaunt their Christianity to get elected and then work for special interests need to remember that.
The Washington Post op-ed article by Doctors Kantarjian, Zwelling and Fojo says in part:
… The average monthly price of cancer drugs has doubled over the past 10 years, from about $5,000 to more than $10,000. Of the 12 new cancer drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration last year, 11 were priced above $100,000 annually. Yet only three were found to improve patient survival rates and, of these, two increased survival by less than two months.
… Is it fair that some U.S. drug prices are two to four times the price of the same product in other countries? U.S. drug manufacturers are also allowed to pay the makers of generic drugs to keep their cheaper versions off the market for some months. Known as “pay to delay,” this strategy greatly affects profits: Earlier introduction of generic drugs has reduced health-care spending by more than $1 trillion in the past 10 years, Ralph Neas, president of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, estimated last fall.
… And how do we reduce the price of cancer drugs? We can start by eliminating self-inflicted wounds: Medicare should be allowed to negotiate prices as the VA system does — and as Medicare was able to do before 2003 — and pay-for-delay strategies should be outlawed. Regulations on cancer research that add to costs without increasing patient safety should be curtailed. Regulators and investigators alike should demand that new drugs offer true clinical improvement over current drugs, measured by such standards as cost-efficacy ratios, prolonging of life in years or quality-adjusted life in years, not just efficacy, safety and other “me-too” criteria. (Read the rest here.)
When a government starts changing the date for votes to avoid its own people, something is wrong.
This is evidently what is happening in France concerning the move to legalize gay marriage. According to a Reuters news report, the French government moved the date for a vote on legislation to legalize gay marriage to avoid a big rally set by opponents for later this month.
The French people responded with a hastily-put-together rally to which “only” 50,000 people were able to come.
When a government starts re-scheduling votes on major legislation for the purpose of avoiding its own people, it clearly is time for that government to take a good, long, look at itself. There is a tendency for governments to take an in-your-face attitude toward their own citizens whenever and wherever they legalize gay marriage.
In the debate over legalizing gay marriage in New Zealand, an MP made an extremely witty and intelligent speech which, despite the good fun of it, did essentially that. This MP has become an international sensation and the toast of the media. I’ve read that he’s even going to have a guest spot on Ellen.
While I enjoyed his speech, I also saw through it to the core reason behind it: He was going in-your-face with his constituents, and exhorting his colleagues to do the same. I’ve sat in on a number of witty and intelligent speeches urging legislators to ignore their constituents. I remember quite clearly watching and listening while Democratic House Speakers in the Oklahoma Legislature urged the passage of large tax increases which the public had made abundantly clear they did not want.
These tax increases were passed largely for one special interest.
The short-term result was that the tax increases went through, a number of Democratic legislators lost their house seats to Republicans, but the Democrats maintained their huge dominance in state government. The long-term result was that Oklahoma is now the reddest of red states in the Union.
Aside from the simple shift in party politics, this has meant replacing one set of special interests for another in our government. The process of going in-your-face with the electorate on behalf of these special interests has already begun again, just from a different direction.
When a government starts dipping and dodging, running and hiding to avoid contact with the people it governs, there is something seriously wrong with its governance. When legislators take to the floor to lecture the electorate on their ignorance for opposing what that legislator is doing, there is something out of whack with that action.
It is so easy for government by consent of the governed to turn into an elected dictatorship. There’s no great trick to standing up and giving a four-minute speech aligning yourself with an issue that is being hard-sold by the media against your constituents. It gives you the chance to be, as this mp has become, the statesman du jour. Often the celebrity will carry you over any anger your constituents might feel.
I don’t know about this particular MP, but it’s entirely possible that he isn’t going so much in-your-face with his constituents as he is those of his colleagues. He may represent an area that either supports what he is doing, or that is willing to re-elect him despite it. If that is true, what he is doing here is lecturing his colleagues’ constituents and convincing these same dim-witted colleagues to go against their own people.
I see a lot of that, too. Extreme liberals push more moderate Democrats into suicidal votes. Extreme conservatives push more moderate Republicans into the same sort of thing. The interesting thing is that the extremists get re-elected because of the districts they represent, while the ones they push into these votes get defeated.
I don’t know that this will happen in New Zealand. But I do know I’ve seen it happen over and over again here in America.
As for France, when you have a national government re-scheduling a vote to avoid contact with the people it governs, something is really wrong with that government. If you’re an elected official, and you are doing something that the people you govern find so egregious that you have to hide from them to do it, you’re not doing your job right.
I’m going to put an excerpt from the Reuters article below and a link to the New Zealand mp’s speech below that. Notice that, despite the sarcasm and humor of this mp’s speech, he really doesn’t say anything of substance.
PARIS (Reuters) – Thousands of pink and blue flags marched through on Sunday in a last-ditch protest before a law allowing same-sex union and adoption is passed next week.opponents waving
Chanting “We don’t want your law, Hollande!”, some 50,000 protesters massed behind a banner reading: “All born of a Mum and a Dad” and said it was undemocratic to bring about such a fundamental social change without holding a referendum.
Hastily organized after the law’s passage was sped up to circumvent a big rally set for late April, Sunday’s march capped months of protests by a dogged opposition movement that has sullied President‘s flagship social reform.
“We warned the president back in November that we would not give up and that we would do everything to stop this law being passed, or to get it repealed if it is adopted,” one of the protest organizers,Alberic Dumon, told Reuters. (Read the rest here.)
We had weather in Oklahoma last night.
It wasn’t too bad; just some small hail, winds, driving rain and a couple of little tornadoes. But anytime we have weather, we watch Gary England. Weatherman in Oklahoma is a serious job. People trust their lives to those folks on tv and most of us feel safest when the person we’re trusting is Gary England.
Watching the weather gave my family and I a healthy dose of other news, along with watching the radar screen and storm chasers. We worked in some channel flipping to see what was happening with the fertilizer plant explosion in Waco. Somehow or other that led to a momentary pause at MSNBC in which they were deploring what they said was the “gun lobby’s” total “control” of Congress.
This particular public deploring was a reaction to the defeat of President Obama’s plan for strict background checks on would-be gun purchasers. I didn’t watch it long enough to sort it out, but I’m betting that the defeat was more difficult for the bill’s supporters to take because it was handed to them by the Democratically controlled Senate instead of the Republican-controlled House.
I mean, what’s a prez to do when his own party leaves him standing at the curb like that?
Enter the “gun lobby” boogie man.
I don’t mind when critics of legislation get upset over the hammerlock special interests have over so much of our public policy in this country. In fact, I share their pain. But I am little tired of hearing about the draconian “gun lobby.”
My experience as a voting member of a legislative body for these past 17 years is that the “gun lobby” couldn’t persuade anybody to do anything if the people themselves didn’t back them up. The real “lobby” that killed this legislation is almost certainly the American people.
That’s a painful pill for gun control backers to swallow. It appears to be so tough that they will not admit the truth of it, no matter how obvious it is.
The people of this country do not, by and large, want gun control. You can slice it and dice it and poll it until your spreadsheet software crashes and it doesn’t change anything. If you pass a gun control law, people who haven’t voted since heck was a pup will register just for the purpose of voting against you.
Back in 1994, I had relatives who had never voted in their lives and who were no more political than your average goldfish get themselves registered to go vote against a Congressman who was running for the United States Senate. Why did they do this? The Congressman had voted for the Brady Bill that President Clinton passed.
That, of course, is part of the reason why polls don’t mean much with these fire-brand issues. Pollsters poll “likely voters,” which is another way of saying that they poll people who are in the habit of voting. But issues like gun control get the Saturday Night Wrestling crowd off the couch and out to the polls.
This kind of voter can not be massaged. They can not be persuaded by other issues. There is nothing you can say or do that will change their minds once they’ve set them on voting you out of office. If you represent certain parts of these United States and you do something as dumb as vote against these folks on one of their I-mean-it issues, you’d better be ready to pack up your office and go home, because your time in elected office is through.
That, and not the draconian machinations of the “gun lobby,” is why that bill bit the dust yesterday. It is also why if it hadn’t bitten the dust, the United States Senate would most likely be in Republican control come December 2014.
These aren’t tea leaves you need a sooth sayer to read for you. They’re the plain facts of what matters to a big swath of the electorate in a good many states.
Based on the news stories I’ve read, President Obama is steamed about losing his bill. He’s pledged to fight on and has accused the “gun lobbies and their allies” of “willfully lying” about the legislation. Frankly, I find the notion of a president who publicly promised conscience and religious exemptions in order to pass the Affordable Health Care Act and then turned around and signed the HHS Mandate accusing anyone of “willfully lying” to be pretty rich.
My only thought is that if the Senators in question represent people who don’t want gun control as much as Oklahomans don’t want it, they’d be wise to stick with what they did yesterday. The only reason to go against your constituents when they feel as strongly as people around here do about this is if you personally believe in it enough to sacrifice your career for it.
The following excerpt from a Newsmax article will give you a taste of the President’s angst over this vote.
An angry President Barack Obama denounced Senate Republicans on Wednesday for failing to pass stricter background checks on gun purchases, calling it a “pretty shameful day” for Washington.
Speaking in the Rose Garden as the families of some of the victims of the Newtown, Conn., shootings looked on, Obama vowed to press on in the fight for tougher gun laws.
“Families that know unspeakable grief summoned the courage to petition their elected leaders,” he said, standing alongside former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who left Congress after suffering a life-threatening gunshot wound to the head. “A few minutes ago a minority in the United States Senate decided it wasn’t worth it. They blocked common-sense gun reforms even when these families looked on from the gallery.”
Earlier, Senate Republicans, backed by rural-state Democrats, blocked legislation to tighten restrictions on the sale of firearms.
In recent weeks, the families of some of the victims of the December shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School pressed lawmakers with stories of personal loss, as Second Amendment advocates countered that none of the proposed changes would have stopped the grisly tragedy.
Attempts to ban assault-style rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines also faced certain defeat in a series of showdown votes.
The background check measure commanded a majority of senators, 54-46, but that was well short of the 60 votes needed to advance. A total of 41 Republicans and five Democrats pulled together to scuttle the plan.
“The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill,” Obama said, referring to fears by some that the law would allow for creation of a federal gun registry.
The president alluded to polls that peaked at 90 percent of Americans supporting expanded background checks for convicted criminals and the severely mentally ill. He said “90 percent” of Democrats supported the bill, but “90 percent” of Republicans opposed it.
“There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this,” Obama said. “It came down to politics.”
Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/newswidget/Obama-Senate-background-checks/2013/04/17/id/500024?promo_code=F323-1&utm_source=Life_Site_News&utm_medium=nmwidget&utm_campaign=widgetphase1#ixzz2QqimRzua Urgent: Should Obamacare Be Repealed? Vote Here Now!
Your Vote = Their Power
Politics is about power.
The two political parties are not political parties as we once knew them. They are consortiums of special interests. They operate on behalf of these interests for one purpose: to get and keep power.
Everything else they say is a lie.
The next time you feel like bowing down to your political party, remember this, and stand upright.
Don’t bend your knee to the R and the D. Register for whichever party, or as an independent, as you please. Vote according to your own understanding and conscience. I have no desire to influence you in that. But do not confuse your party’s trumpeting claims of moral superiority with actual moral superiority. Do not, ever, take the cross down off your mantelpiece and put the Republican elephant or the Democratic donkey in its place.
Both parties actively encourage such idolatry. They do it because they benefit from it. They win elections with the votes of people who slavishly follow them and believe in them as if they were Christ Himself. Winning elections is how political parties get power. Power is how they control the purse strings and the facilities of government. Power is the payback for lying to you.
They get power by lying to you. They keep it by almost but not quite fulfilling their promises. Holding you on a leash of unfulfilled expectations by always trying but failing to do the things they promised when you voted for them is axiomatic to making sure that you keep coming back to them again and again. If they actually did what they said they would do, the vote-getting engine would go dead. It takes showmanship and adept political choreography to create an unending series of cliff-hanger battles that will keep you focused and rooting for your team.
It also requires an excuse for repeatedly failing to deliver. Political parties have to hide the obvious. They can’t just say, sure we’re the party of life, but even after 40 years of trying, we’re still too dumb to find a way to overturn Roe. The other guys can’t say, of course we’re the party of the American worker, but we’re such idiots that after 40 years of deep thinking we still can’t come up with a way to stop exporting your jobs. Even the most besotted kool-aid-drinking party loyalist might gag on this.
So … what’s a political party to do when it has no intention of doing anything it says but it wants to make sure that the voters don’t figure this out? Easy. They tell you that the Other Party is the Devil. They claim that they are still your white knight, trying desperately to ride to the rescue, but the Other Party, those black-hearted wraiths from the deepest pit of political hell, overcome them in spite of their heroic efforts. The only way to make this work is if the two parties play off against one another so they can keep the attempt-failure cycle spinning. If either one of them decided that the thing to do was represent the people, the jig would be up.
In truth, political parties have no use for working people except for their votes. Political parties don’t care about either a woman’s right to chose or an unborn baby’s right to life. What they do care about is using those issues to motivate you to send them money and march to the polls on election day to deliver your vote.
That’s how they get power. Power is what they want, and they will tell you anything it takes to get you to give it to them.
It’s a simple equation: Your Vote = Their Power.
What about the various alliances political parties form with religious groups? You know, the lefty churches who have mutilated the Gospels one way to suit the Ds, and the righty churches who have mutilated the Gospels the other way to suit the Rs.
Here’s how that works when the television cameras are off. Religious groups don’t have the power of government. They can’t enact taxes or call up armies. They can’t pass laws or issue mandates. Those are all powers of government. However, religious groups do have a potent power of their own. People think their religious leaders speak for God. They listen to religious leaders because they believe in their prophetic and moral voice.
We live in a country where the way you get control of the power of government is to win elections. You win elections by getting lots of people to vote for you. You can’t win elections by telling voters “I’m going to go in there and represent special interests and do things that will take away your livelihood, cost you your home and that fly in the face of every moral belief you cherish.” That’s not a winning strategy. So, they lie.
But lies, when they are such obvious lies as these have become, need a cover. What better cover than the moral gloss of religious leaders, lending their prophetic and moral voice to your self-serving, special-interest-supporting agenda?
Party leaders don’t care about religion and they don’t respect the religious leaders they con into supporting them. I know this. Let me repeat that: I know it. I’ve seen heads of denominations go in to talk to legislative leaders. These preachers are all puffed up and sure of themselves when they walk in. They are certain that these men who they got elected and who promised them, gave them their word, that they would be for something like, say, pro life legislation, just don’t understand what they are doing when they are killing this legislation. These religious leaders are sure they can set things right. I’ve had them tell me so in just those words.
“I’m going to talk to him and set things right,” they say. They are so sure, so certain of themselves and their relationship with these powerful men.
Then, I’ve seen them come back out of those meetings on their knuckles and their knees, totally bamboozled and beaten.
What’s even more disheartening is that I’ve never, with the single exception of the Catholic Bishops, seen even one of these religious leaders stand back up like men and go to war with the legislative leader. They smarm around to me and tell me things like “I’ve got to maintain contact with the Speaker,” or “I don’t want to lose access.” One of them even told me, “He lets me have his personal cell phone number.”
They keep on supporting these liars. What’s worse, they let them kill the pro life bills behind closed doors and never call them to task over it. They support them in the next election, proclaiming as if it was true that this is a 100% pro life politician.
I want to emphasize that I have seen and heard this myself. I’ve seen it not once, but over and over with different legislative leaders in different sessions of the legislature. If you want to know why nothing ever changes, this is a big part of the reason.
This is painful to witness. It hurts. I’ve argued with these religious leaders and tried unsuccessfully to get them to grow spines. I’ve railed at these legislative leaders for being hypocrites and bullies. When I do this, religious leaders hang their heads and shuffle their feet. The politicians usually turn mean and try to take revenge on me inside the process somehow. As for me, I go home and pray and go to confession and then pray some more.
I cling to certain scriptures. One of my favorite Psalms has the words, “If I fly to the highest heaven, You are there. If I make my bed in hell, You are with me. Your right arm sustains me.” Another one begins, “Contend, Oh Lord, with those who contend with me.” And a third says, “Oh Lord, how many are my foes … many are saying to me, ‘There is no help for you in God. But you are a shield around me.”
I pray these Psalms and I ask God to remind me of my own sins, to not let me sink into the pit of self-righteousness or bitterness, but to help me remember that I am just an instrument in His hands, to be used as He sees best.
That’s how I get through it. But it is difficult, and it’s getting more so. The government is doing more and more harm to the people. It is even attacking the Constitution and our basic freedoms. Religious leaders who have allowed themselves to become shameless political groupies for the two parties feed the contempt that supports a surging secularism. There is a war on, and we are losing it.
If you are a Christian, the only side you have in this war is Jesus’ side.
We all want someone else to come in and do the dirty work for us. We want “them” whoever they might be, to save our country, protect our freedoms and work in our interests. That’s probably why we are so eager to believe the absurd, repetitive lies the two political parties tell us. But the fact is that if we want to be saved we’re going to have to do it ourselves, and some of the first people we need to be saved from are both these pernicious political parties and their lying manipulations.
My first bit of advice as I wind down Part 1 of this series is to take down the donkey or the elephant and put the cross back up on your home altar. Give up your false idol of political party and turn back to the Only God, the only One Who can save you, and me, and our great nation, America.
Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.