12 items tagged "politics"
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On January 20, 2017, the United States of America will celebrate one of its most treasured values in a grand public ceremony. A new president will place his hand on the Bible and take the oath of office. It is a solemn, sacred and significant moment that is not really about the person being sworn in. The inauguration ceremony is actually about the most fundamental, non-negotiable value of this republic; the peaceful transfer of power subject to the will of the electorate according to a constitutionally established process.
In the more than two centuries of this nation's history every transfer of power came by ballots not bullets. No president ever seized power. No dictator ever came by the gun. Never in our history has some army colonel taken over the radio station and proclaimed himself "president for life." We have had our share of contentious elections but we have never had a coup d'etat.
Not since the first election of Abraham Lincoln has a presidential election so bitterly divided the American electorate. One the one side is the deep and angry distrust of the Democrat/Clinton political machine. This has been fueled in no small part by the actions of Bill and Hillary Clinton for decades. Many Americans are frustrated that no one can seem to hold the Clintons accountable. This feeling that they (The Clintons and the Democrat party) can "get away with murder," figuratively at least, runs contrary to a deeply held American value that no one is above the law.
The most recent, but by no means final, chapter in the Hillary Clinton email scandal is absolutely cinematic in both its dramatic timing and in the inclusion of the absurd figure of Anthony Weiner in the story. This ludicrous comedy would be funny were not national security at stake. Furthermore the FBI's announcement that her email scandal was open yet again was hardly designed to buttress Hillary Clinton's already terrible score on the trustworthiness scale.
Up against Hillary Clinton in this astonishing election is the human lighting rod of Donald Trump, himself a figure straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster. His rough-and-tumble, hard-nosed, tough-talking NY businessman demeanor was a sudden and shocking jolt to traditional career politicians. To this brazen "I don't care what you think about me" attitude he mixed in a flair for showmanship that would make Harry Houdini jealous. The recipe was nothing American voters had ever seen before.
Some liked it. Some liked it a lot. Some hated it with an incendiary zeal. His haters labeled Trump a vulgar bigot among other even less flattering descriptions. Trump won the Republican primary, which hardly anyone predicted, upsetting the Establishment Republican apple cart. Said establishment responded with a dog-in-the-manger, corporate pout that sounded like nothing more than elitist bad sportsmanship to the growing hoards of Trump supporters. Some of Trump's defeated opponents' petulant thumb sucking response may well have aborted their future presidential aspirations. Forgetting defeated Republicans, Trump's victory in the primaries enflamed the Democrats. All this toxicity unleashed perhaps the nastiest, most vitriolic presidential campaign in American history.
Now we are at the end of it. On November 8, 2016, America will decide its own future. Probably not since the Civil War has so much been on the line in a single presidential election. My attorney advised me that as the president of a Christian non-profit, in the current atmosphere, I should probably not announce my support for either candidate. Ok, I won't.
What I will do is offer some thoughts for you to consider while making up your mind for whom YOU should vote.
The first amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America defends her citizens from a governmental restriction on the freedom of religion, free speech and a free press, among others. It needs to be remembered that the constitution does not even claim to grant Americans these rights. The Constitution says these rights are ours already by God's grace. The Bill of Rights rather prohibits the government from infringing on them.
We are currently seeing a dark and frightening place where a blatant new wave of racism and anti-Semitism intersects with these very rights; speech, religion and the press. We are at a sad place when racist and anti-Semitic speech, protected by the constitution, is not reported, called what it is and denounced in the strongest possible terms by a free press, a press which is likewise protected by the constitution.
A tragic percentage of the main line news organizations, while claiming not to be anti-Semitic, are so limp in reporting anti-Jewish, anti-Israel speech as to be complicit. I know that is a strong accusation, but it needs to be made.
In the vast sea of contemporary communication pitfalls, the habit of emotional listening is perhaps the most damaging. Last night when Donald J. Trump was nominated for the presidency of the United States, I tweeted a few simple words. Here they are... WAIT.... first please let me ask you to just read the words. Try to resist the impulse to read anything into the words. Just read the words.
I was not really all that surprised by some of the responses. Some felt the words were praise for Trump. They were not happy that I did not say it was a "horrible" event or an "embarrassing" event or a "disgusting" event, and because I did not use those words I was presumably campaigning for Trump. Others saw the words as an attack on Trump. How could I call such an "inspiring" and "thrilling" moment astonishing? And why couldn't I get on the Trump train?
In just a few days, for the first time in history a woman will be nominated for the presidency. Do you know what I will tweet?
The Portland Public School Board recently voted to ban from all its schools any book, magazine, pamphlet or other material that expresses any doubt about climate change. Students at DePaul University invaded a speech by conservative speaker, Milo Yiannopolous, threatened violence and shut the event down, claiming that they simply should not be subjected to such outlandish ideas as his nor should he be allowed to speak on the campus.
When I think of American neo-fascists, I envision semi-literate, camo-clad thugs at secret forest camps training toddlers to shoot uzis. Certainly they do exist. Nutcase skin heads are certainly out there and they are dangerous. I do not deny that. However, as sad as they are, they are hardly surprising.
The real shocker, is finding fascists in respectable colleges, in libraries and on boards of education. I rather expect neo-fascists to be jack-booted neanderthals who cannot spell. I am surprised to discover that in modern America they are more likely to be 19-year-old sophomores studying the humanities at some of America's most liberal universities. I am hardly shocked when I read of neo-fascists who are bearded ex-cons toting automatic weapons around clandestine guerrilla training camps. I am amazed to behold the modern phenomenon of professorial fascists toting Ph. D's around Ivy League campuses.
The New York City Human Rights Commission has just ruled that bars can no longer refuse to serve alcohol to obviously pregnant women. It is worth noting here that the mayor of this same New York City, Bill De Blasio, tried to limit the size of a soft drink one could buy, pregnant or not. This intrusive effort was thankfully frustrated by a reasonable court. De Blasio is a radical liberal who would like to use the regulatory powers of government at every level to run the most personal parts of our lives. He and his ilk do not believe we the people have the good judgment to make our own decisions about anything, even what we eat and drink. Drinking a big gulp may be bad for me, but I am loathe to surrender the right to make decisions that are bad for me.
Having said all that, the point of this post is not really about civil liberties. It is rather about values. The paradox in these two stories is obvious and worth noting. One area of a city government, in order to prevent obesity and diabetes, wants to tell me how much soda pop I am allowed to consume, while another, in the same city, will not let bartenders attempt to prevent fetal alcohol syndrome.
"It's my ball and I will take it and go home if I can't play quarterback."
In a certain less-than-prosperous neighborhood in which I lived during junior high school, that was the profoundly irritating mantra of the only boy who actually owned a good football. We had other balls, but mostly they were ragged or too soft or had become waterlogged to the point where they were like throwing bricks. His family was the most prosperous, his house and yard the biggest and best to play in, and his football said “Official NCAA” right on it in big white letters. You just can't ignore words like “Official NCAA.” We wanted to play at his house and use his football. The problem, of course, was that George, for that was his name, was far and away the worst player among us. Especially he was the worst quarterback among us, perhaps in the entire world as far we were concerned.
He was irritating, harshly critical of teammates far better than he and, worst of all, frequently intercepted. George never
Will Rogers said, "I don't make jokes… I just watch the government and report the facts."
Indeed, watch the goings on in Washington and you don't know whether to laugh or cry. Politicians so often do such goofy things that it almost seems merciless to laugh. Furthermore, when you try to make a point by using a particularly unexplainable leadership mistake by some politician or another, it sounds partisan no matter how you frame it. In addition to that, the current President is such a favorite fall guy of my crowd, that anything I say will just sound like piling on. If I shine a light on Obama's goofy missteps too often it just sounds like the same old Republican porch swing squeaking away.
Having said that, however, when a leader who aught to know better does something so poorly that it hands you the perfect teaching moment, you just cannot pass that up. Did I say poorly? Nix that. Poorly is far too effete a word for the most recent failed performance of Team Obama.
Less than a week ago in Chattanooga, Tennessee, one Mohammad Abdulazeez shot and killed four Marines and a Navy petty officer. I am absolutely certain the President was as shocked and outraged as the rest of us. I do not agree with any suggestion to the contrary. He is the commander-in-chief and five of his best from two branches had been mercilessly slain by a disturbed Islamic terrorist. I know the President must have been deeply saddened. It's not how he felt that caused the flap. It's what he did, or, more precisely didn't do. Or even more precisely didn't do, then did do, but way too late.
I waited a week to comment on the mid-term elections because I wanted the emotional dust to settle a bit. The election was a tidal wave which swept in a Republican Senate, an increase in the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, stunning Republican gubernatorial victories in some surprising states and huge Republican gains in many state houses. Republican. Republican. Republican. Why? Of course, some of it, perhaps much of it was political. Perhaps the Republicans ran better candidates who ran better campaigns than their Democrat opponents. Perhaps the Republican ground game was more effective than the Democrats. In other words, maybe the Republicans just got out the vote and the Democrats failed to. Many in America did not vote. Maybe those non-voters were Democrats.
Let me be clear. I am a Republican and I was pleased beyond words with all those results. Having said that, however, I hasten to add this post is not about the politics in the election but the leadership behind the story. In other words, whether one cheers the results of the election or grieves over them, the question remains, are there clear and presiding leadership lessons in the election which transcends partisanship?
Policy, Politics and Public Relations
Case study I:
A large Baptist church in the Southern USA faced a major crisis. The parents of a third grader came to the leadership of the church with the suspicion that the children's minister had molested their child on church property. They did not have solid proof and were not litigation-minded. They wanted help and they wanted to protect other children. After they left the room the church board and the pastor decided to wait until after the Christmas party (three weeks hence) to deal with it. They asked the parents not to go public, allowed the suspected molester to remain in place, and tried to "keep it quiet."
Of course, it did not stay quiet. The parents were outraged. The state ruled that the church's failure to report was criminal and a horrible civil-criminal case ensued.
The recent decision of the United States Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius case is incredibly important and wonderful news for all who love religious liberty. However, some have misunderstood its significance. I am indescribably opposed to the entirety of The Affordable Care Act (read Obamacare). It is arguably the single worst piece of legislation in the USA since Reconstruction. I hope the entire law will be repealed. I am saying all that so that no reader will misunderstand what I say next.
The Hobby Lobby win is important not because the Obamacare law itself is wrong-headed, which it certainly is, but because the section on contraception and, most importantly, abortive prescriptions, is unconscionable and utterly unconstitutional. No matter what anyone thinks of Obamacare as a whole, liberals, democrats, republicans and conservatives should be horrified that that portion of the law was ever passed. Likewise, all who love liberty should rejoice that it was struck down.
This decision upholds again that the government cannot force private parties to buy products which violate their consciences. If this case had failed in the Supreme Court it could have paved the way for the government to force us to pay for anything it deemed worthy irrespective of our conscience. In my opinion the entire Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional but this section was absolutely terrifying in its implications. What if the
The world is shocked and the USA is embarrassed by the horrible snarl in Washington over, well, basically everything. The main problem right now is over the budget and the looming debt ceiling issue. What is the real problem? Why can't they move this thing forward?
Of course, there is never one single answer to such logjams. Not in politics, nor in marriage, nor in business nor in any area of social interaction. Here are some thoughts on what lies near and at the heart of all this.
This cannot be discounted. Many believe or choose to believe that all of this is nothing more than political gamesmanship. There is plenty of that to go around but the clash of visions in Washington is profound. Though there are certainly a vast multiplicity of variations, the two camps in Washington have clearly staked out their territory and for the most part I believe both sides are sincere. That does not mean both sides are right. It just means both are acting on their core values and beliefs.