“. . . to do battle with the powers of evil . . .” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

Saddam_rumsfeld

Rumsfeld/Hussein (Dec. 20, 1983). “Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.” George Santayana, Life of Reason (1905).

The Iowa caucuses prompted me to write an essay (OK, let’s not elevate the language – a blog post) about my fear of (yes, I mean that – “fear”) Ted Cruz’s candidacy, even if he does not win either the Republican nomination or the Presidency.

However, I am stuck. No matter what I write, it ends up sounding exactly like the kind of language (therefore, ideas) I want to speak against.

The sentence I wrote from which I took the title above is

During Hitler’s rise to power, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Fanatics think that their single-minded principles qualify them to do battle with the powers of evil” (Bonhoeffer, 4).

Ted Cruz’s only “single-minded principle” is, it appears to me (remembering I am often mistaken about almost anything), a lust for power, a kind of power not unlike the power he rails against. He wants power of one of two kinds which I cannot sort out:

1) Power for himself personally
2) Power for the Fundamentalist christians in this country who call themselves “Evangelicals” but are in fact “Reconstructionists” and “Dominionists.”

Is Ted Cruz doing battle with the powers of evil? Or is he simply using Americans who want to do battle with the powers of evil to access the power he lusts after?

What―exactly―does Ted Cruz believe? What is his understanding of what he is doing? Is he using the Fundamentalist, Dominionist christians to win power for himself, or does he  believe his father’s teachings that find “in Genesis a mandate that ‘men of faith’ seize control of public institutions and govern by biblical principle” (Dubose, Web).

Dominionism is the idea that conservative Christians have the right ― and the responsibility ― to take dominion over all aspects of life, including the government. The term springs from Genesis 1:26-28, a biblical pas­ sage in which God instructs Adam and Eve to “have dominion” over every living thing on Earth. This “dominion mandate” has been popular in certain fundamentalist circles for decades, but it leaped onto online debating forums in August [2010] in connection with Perry’s Christian-fundamentalists-only, prayer-and-­fasting rally at Houston’s Reliant Stadium (Conn, Web).

Ted Cruz’s political take on the Rushdoonyite theology/philosophy was all too apparent as he spoke after his caucus victory in Iowa. Rousas John Rushdoony (1916-2001) was the guiding light in Christian Reconstructionism, the precursor of Cruz’s Dominionism.

[In his first book Rushdoony] had already articulated the essence of Reconstructionist theology. The truth of biblical revelation is the only guiding presumption that will yield true conclusions, and the law of biblical revelation is the only viable framework for organizing a society: “All facts being created facts, factuality can only be understood in subordination to God. But to understand factuality, man needs a norm, and this Scripture provides.” This was Christian Reconstructionism in a nutshell (Worthen Web).

Worthen, who is perhaps the most thorough and unbiased writer on Rushdoony, warns against the somewhat irrational fear-mongering about Reconstructionism in the press a few years back (after Rick Perry’s rally at Houston’s Reliant Stadium). Her writings are balanced and informative.

However, I personally am more than mildly concerned knowing there is some possibility that Ted Cruz could become President, or is at the very least the leader of a movement who has as his rallying cry,

Let me first of all say, TO GOD BE THE GLORY. Tonight is a victory for the grassroots. Tonight is a victory for courageous conservatives across Iowa, and all across this great nation. Tonight the state of Iowa has spoken. Iowa has sent notice that the Republican nominee for the next president of the United States . . . . will be chosen by the most incredible powerful force, where all sovereignty resides in our nation by we the people . . . . courageous conservatives across the state.

. . . . tonight is a testament to the people’s commitments to their yearnings to get back to our core commitments, free market principles. The judeo-christian values that built this great nation (Lind, Web).

  • Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Letters and Papers from Prison. New York: Touchstone, 1997, 4. Print.
  • Conn, Joseph L. “Dominionism and Democracy.” Church & State 64.9 (2011): 10-12. Web.
  • Dubose, Lou and Hannah Harper, “Ted Cruz’s dad has a very sketchy resume: Rafael Cruz’s credentials are exaggerated, at best.” Salon. salon.com. Oct 19, 2015. Web.
  • Lind, Dara. “Iowa caucus: Ted Cruz echoes Ronald Reagan in victory speech.” Vox Policy & Politics. vox.com. February 2, 2016. Web.
  • Worthen, Molly. “The Chalcedon Problem: Rousas John Rushdoony And The Origins Of Christian Reconstructionism.” Church History 77.2 (2008): 399-437.
    cruz commandments

    “We defended the Texas Ten Commandments monument, [which] stands on the State Capitol grounds,” recalls Cruz. “Until an atheist — a homeless man — came along and sued the state, saying it offended him to gaze upon the Ten Commandments. We defended the Ten Commandments, we took the case all the way to the Supreme Court … and we won, 5-4.”

    Please visit my blog Palestine InSight. Thank you.

“. . . but perfect love casts out fear . . .” (1 John 4:18)

the good samaritan

Antonio Zanchi, The Good Samaritan, 1680

I assume I understand some important concepts of the Bible―at least in a general sense―even if I don’t believe them. I grew up as the son of a Baptist minister and attended Baptist Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and even a “nominally” Baptist University. For a semester I attended a Methodist seminary. They asked me to withdraw because I’m gay (that was 1968, and I don’t know why I was in seminary anyway).

About 30 or 40 years ago, I began seriously thinking about what I hear when others, Christians, speak of Bible basis for their faith/belief. Some theological constructs have such a tenuous relationship to anything I know about the Bible that it’s easy to dismiss them out of hand. The Rapture. Dispensationalism. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. A prohibition on abortion.

I don’t have any trouble with literal beliefs in ideas from the Bible that are obviously meant as mythology. If someone has to believe God created the universe in six days in order to navigate their life on this earth, that’s fine.

All of those nit-picky little “beliefs” are immaterial to me. My relationship with the Bible is only a little more personal than my relationship to Beowulf, Siegfried, and Odysseus. If anyone wants to believe in “The Clear-Eyed Athena,” that’s fine with me, just don’t expect me to join in any sacrifices in an old stone building in Athens.

The ideas I wonder about even in my apparent apostasy are less based in “factual” details that someone might or might not believe, than in what seem to me to be the “big ideas” in the Bible. Some of those “big ideas” I do believe in.

For example, the concept “love” in the Bible. Here are some Bible verses about “love” I remember. I had to look up exact citations, but I remembered all of these verbatim (not exactly―I found the NRSV translation to replace the King James language I memorized as a Baptist kid).

• Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)
• So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. (1 John 4:16)
• There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. (1 John 4:18)
• By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness (Galatians 5:22)
• If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15)
• He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)

From the news:

[On FOX News Cruz] listened as Crowder outlined “four winning issues for Republicans. . . . Islam, now, is a winning issue: calling it out for what it is.” Cruz nodded vigorously and responded, “Yep.”
___That’s what’s really going on. Cruz isn’t agonizing over the mechanics of vetting refugees. He’s exploiting anti-Muslim anger and sucking up to the Christian right. And he’s doing it while wearing his own disguise: principled leader. (Saletan, William. “Ted Cruz’s Sophisticated Bigotry: This is how you bash Muslims while pretending to be principled.” Slate. Nov. 24, 2015.)

And again:

[Cruz appeared] On Fox News, the day after the attacks on Paris. If there are Syrian Muslims who are really being persecuted, he said, they should be sent to “majority-Muslim countries.” Then he reset his eyebrows, which had been angled in a peak of concern, as if he had something pious to say. And he did: “On the other hand,” he added, “Christians who are being targeted for genocide, for persecution, Christians who are being beheaded or crucified, we should be providing safe haven to them.”
(Davidson, Amy. “Ted Cruz’s Religious Test for Syrian Refugees.” The New Yorker. November 16, 2015).

Finally:

Cruz is ramping up his South Carolina efforts. . . . On Monday, he visited one of his two campaign headquarters in the state . . . He quoted Scripture and prayed with a woman on the phone as Vonnie Gleason, a volunteer in her 50s, looked on with tears in her eyes.
___“His words are so much from the heart,” Gleason said. “He was praying with her like she was his best friend.”
___That ability to connect with Christians gives Cruz “a real good chance, because of all the conservative Christians here,” said Linda McCarthy of Greenville. (Glueck, Katie. Politico. 12/09/15.)

I do not mean to accuse Ted Cruz of anything. I don’t know the man. I’ve never heard him say, “I hate Muslims” or “I hate gays.” However, these positions he has taken are clearly not congruent with

  • There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. (1 John 4:18)
  • By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness (Galatians 5:22).

Ted Cruz is rising in the polls for the Republican nomination for President, seemingly poised to give Donald Trump, who has said blatantly hateful things about women, Hispanics, and Muslims, a run for his money. I do not mean to denounce Cruz or Trump (although it probably seems that I am). I’m pretty sure I could have found such items for every candidate.

I merely want to ask a question.

In order to feel secure in a society presumably based on Christian and/or liberal democratic principles, must we forego treating non-Christians and/or those who are not already steeped in liberal democratic principles with the “love” that seems to be at the core of the Christian tradition?

samaritan

Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918), The Good Samaritan

“. . . and everyone else falls on top.” (Humberto Ak’Abal)

Indigenous Guatemalan poet, Humberto Ak’Abal

Indigenous Guatemalan poet, Humberto Ak’Abal

I detest ideas showing up in my mind that seem improbably judgmental either of myself or of others. Especially of others. I grew up in a household and a community where lip-service at the very least was given to John 8:8, ““Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

This is a story from the Bible in which Jesus was hanging out in Jerusalem preaching and teaching when some people brought him a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They wanted to stone her to death (did that practice in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and other places Americans like to judge so harshly come directly from the Bible?). Jesus said it would be OK, provided that the first stone was thrown by someone who had never sinned. The would-be executioners sneaked away with their tails egos between their legs.

I most often reserve my judgmentalism for people who are doing bad things or thinking evil thoughts as the result of being stupid (at a given moment, not inherently). Like anyone who voted for Ted Cruz, or anyone who thinks the 2nd Amendment is license to kill. Or anyone who thinks school vouchers and charter schools are anything other than means to destroy equal-opportunity education.

I would never judge anyone for a simple little human foible like committing adultery. I’ve done it myself. I think Jesus had it about right when he said, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28, NRSV). He probably would have said “looking at a man with lust,” too, if any of the gay men in his audience had been “out.” Obviously, from the story I began with, he would have meant it for women looking at men, too.

My stuff, waiting to go to the Goodwill.

My stuff, waiting to go to the Goodwill.

I’m having a terrible time getting my ass in gear (as we said in the 60s) to clean out the stuff in my apartment. Hardly anyone I know would be able to live in this mess. It’s not that I’m one of those troubled “hoarders” on TV. I don’t have litter on my floors. I have clean sheets on my bed, a clean kitchen, and a living room area that is neat and tidy. It’s just all these books and DVDs and CDs and pictures and clothes and . . . like most people’s I suppose.

The problem is, I don’t know how to sort. I don’t know how to put things away. I don’t know how to tidy up. There’s always something more important to do than fold the clean sheets and put them away (if I can remember where I decided at some point they should live).

My lawyer friend tells me that more files are always better than fewer files. Little does he know.

So I wonder how much time in a week the normal, middle-class, neat, organized American spends sorting and folding laundry, washing dishes and putting them away, emptying waste baskets, vacuuming, washing the bathroom mirror, shopping for groceries and putting them away. . .

It’s the putting way that is the problem, as I said. I wonder if anyone has ever kept track of the time they spend in a week putting stuff away. A place for everything and everything in its place.

There are other ways of thinking about stuff.

“The bread that is in your box belongs to the hungry; the coat in your closet belongs to the naked; the shoes you do not wear belong to the barefoot; the money in your vault belongs to the destitute” (St. Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea, c. A.D. 370).

The coat in my closet belongs to the naked. I have three sport coats in a clothes hamper waiting to go to the dry cleaners. They’ve been there for about three months. Do I need them? Obviously not. I know, I know, normal people don’t live quite this way. You there, yes you, dear reader, you would take your sport coat to the cleaner the morning after you realized it needed it. You certainly would not have three of them that needed cleaning at once.

Now, someone who takes a man who is clothed and renders him naked would be termed a robber; but when someone fails to clothe the naked, while he is able to do this, is such a man deserving of any other appellation? . . . the coat, which you guard in your locked storage-chests, belongs to the naked; the footwear moldering in your closet belongs to those without shoes. (From St. Basil the Great, Homily on the saying of the Gospel According to Luke, “I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones,” and on greed, §7 (PG 31, 276B – 277A).

I don’t know where I’m going with this, but it seems to me the Church Fathers—at least on this point—have it about right. If I’ve got so many clothes that I can leave three sport coats in the clothes hamper for three months, isn’t that too many clothes? I’m not rich and I see this dilemma. I don’t have much of anything compared to lots of people I know—and especially to a few people I don’t know.

But I’m looking for help to sort and divest myself of the stuff I don’t need. The question is, where is the line? How much stuff is enough? How much is too much? I am, by any measurement, pretty low on the totem pole as far as wealth and owning stuff is concerned.

But there are those three sport coats I don’t need.

Let anyone who is without sin cast the first stone.

“The Dance,” by Humberto Ak’Abal
All of us dance
on a cent’s edge.

The poor—because they are poor—
lose their step,
and fall

and everyone else
falls on top.

I think we’re a people of too much stuff. And we’re falling on top of the poor.

Titian, The Woman Taken in Adultery

Titian, The Woman Taken in Adultery

sum link for other blog

“. . . push aside the needy in the gate. . .”

Boy, do I have a Ponzi scheme for you!

Boy, do I have a Ponzi scheme for you!

My dad was 78 years old when Bill Clinton was elected President.

Dad had an interesting take on that election. He was glad the unprincipled socialist Democrats had won. That meant when the Republicans ousted them, the GOP would have a mandate to get the country back on track because people would be tired of the insanity.

He was not surprised Bill Clinton was caught in a sex scandal and all the side-circuses that went along with it. He was, however, dumbfounded at the invasion of Iraq by the Republicans a short six years later. Barack Obama was the only Democrat he voted for in 19 elections. He cast his last vote for President in 2008.

I’m less than two months from my 70th birthday, as anyone who knows me or reads my stuff knows. I’m quite vocal about it. I’m going to have the party to sum up all parties. January 3, 2015. Mark your calendar. I’ve voted for president 11 times. I’ve never (and, if I continue to vote, can’t imagine that I ever will) voted for a Republican. That means I’ve voted for the winner only 5 times. Yes, but for the loser only 6—a much better ratio than my father.

Just as my father was glad the unprincipled socialist Democrats took over the government in 1992, I’m glad the Republicans won both houses of Congress this week. I hope they keep that majority and win the Presidency in 2016.

That will hasten the day when the poor and the lower middle classes and the hand-wringing ineffectual “liberals” or “progressives” or whatever we call them these days actually band together to throw the Kochs and the Waltons and Karl Rove and such people out of power.

“Let them eat cake.”

When the American people (at least those who know that the whole system has been taken over by the snobs—the Lexus-driving, sushi-eating, materialistic rich and wannabees) come to their senses and realize that the myth of the American Dream applies only to those whose parents already dreamed the American Dream, they will rise up. This is not sour grapes or incitement to riot. The rising up probably won’t take place in my lifetime, but David Koch’s disingenuous (well, no, it’s worse than that—it’s hypocritical lying) insistence that we throw out our social contract and let everyone get rich will eventually be seen for what it is: using his enormous INHERITED wealth to move the political system to protect his enormous INHERITED wealth. If I had INHERITED a billion dollars, I’d want you all to keep your grubby hands off of it, too.

Me, for President

Me, for President

I know a brilliant, handsome, talented member of a college football team who—as you have already guessed because it has become a cliché of American life—is an African American who was recruited by the Division I college football programs when he was in high school. The high school from which he graduated was not the same one he had attended his first years in public secondary school.

It was, as he told me, “A white school.” In fact, it was the crème de la crème of the white schools—a private school that gave him a $50,000 scholarship to attend and play on its undefeated football team. He also had to work a total of 420 hours for the school during his senior year mowing lawns, washing windows, and cleaning up after his classmates in the cafeteria. He was one of a half dozen black students in the same situation.

His purpose in submitting to that humiliation was to insure that he received at least one year of education of high enough quality to enable him to enroll in college. The “black high school” he would have attended would not have provided enough background learning no matter how hard he worked.

Washing windows and cleaning up after his peers, he said, he learned that, without a college football scholarship to get him to college, he’d work that way the rest of his life. His forced labor taught him both humility and anger.

“Let them eat cake,” Alice Walton says.

Give them an hourly wage that doesn’t quite pay their bills, and then let those who are a little better off pay taxes to provide the millions working for her with food stamps to buy their cake. But for God’s sake, don’t give them health insurance. Let the middle class folks pay for their health care in expensive emergency rooms, or just let them die.

All in the name of the capitalist American Dream. It’s working for Alice Walton and David Koch, so why shouldn’t it work for those of us who didn’t inherit a billion dollars?

Our elected leaders have bought into the scam, the Ponzi scheme that is our government. Or, rather, Alice and David have spent so much money convincing so many of the people who are eating cake that they, too, can be rich that they have elected men (almost all straight—presumably—white men) who are willing to sell their public trust in order to cash in on a few of the crumbs Alice and David are willing to throw.

My football-playing acquaintance is working harder than you or I or Alice or David ever have or ever will work to succeed both athletically and academically because he knows if his dream of playing in the NFL doesn’t work out, he will need some other way to survive. And he doesn’t want to clean up after you in restaurants all his life. (He is, by the way, one of the tiny, tiny percentage of young men trapped in his situation who probably has the skill for his dream to come to fruition.)

So in 2016, if I vote, I will probably vote for Ted Cruz for President. Because I think that may be the only way to hasten the day when justice will roll down.

I hate it when someone quotes the Bible to tell me I’m filthy and going to hell because I have sex with men instead of women. So I really do wish there were another way to say this. But since most people in this country believe that the God of Israel inspired the life that Alice and David want us to provide them with, I will remind you that one of the prophets who most closely (apparently) predicted what would happen to the people of ancient Judea said some pretty scary things about the American
Dream. From the fifth chapter of Amos:

Therefore, because you trample on the poor
and take from them levies of grain,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine.
For I know how many are your transgressions,
and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
and push aside the needy in the gate. . .
Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of hosts, the Lord:
In all the squares there shall be wailing;
and in all the streets they shall say, ‘Alas! alas!’
They shall call the farmers to mourning,
and those skilled in lamentation, to wailing;
in all the vineyards there shall be wailing,
for I will pass through the midst of you,

says the Lord.

Take away from me the noise of your songs;
I will not listen to the melody of your harps.
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Let them earn a real living. Forget the cake (or the wonderful art museum in Arkansas, or the Cancer research center at MIT).

In the white high school

In the white high school

The terrorists have won

John C. Calhoun, spiritual father of the first great insurrection.

John C. Calhoun, spiritual father of the first great insurrection.

While we strike (supposed) terrorists in Yemen with drones, and urge the NSA to spy on us relentlessly without constraint in order to prevent a “terrorist” attack, we have allowed a coup d’état to take place at the highest levels of our government. It is finished. It is over. The revolution is complete. We have knuckled under to a terrorist takeover of our democratic processes.

Terrorists use intimidation, sometimes military and violent, sometimes seemingly civil and non-violent, to force a family (kidnapping) or a nation (insurrection) to do their bidding. We have an entire ENORMOUS industry in the US devoted to keeping us safe from terrorism. But it has failed us. The Tea Party has brought about a successful insurrection—they have destroyed representative government as surely as if they had commandeered the Pentagon.

terrorism
1. the use of violence and threats TO INTIMIDATE or coerce, especially for political purposes.
2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
3. a TERRORISTIC METHOD of governing or of resisting a government.   (Dictionary.com)

The media in America understands the coup although no one seems to have connected the dots. (You can skip all of the short references and read the clearest statement of the facts, by E.J. Dionne–below all of the clips.)

“Congressman [Peter] King (R-N.Y.) claimed that Cruz has been trying to INTIMIDATE members of the GOP with ‘implicit threats of primaries’ if they don’t vote the right way” (1). 

“The danger is that the Republican leadership, held HOSTAGE by the Tea Party. . . “ (2).

“At an Illinois town hall meeting on Monday, Republican Congressman Aaron Schock said those threatening to hold the government budget HOSTAGE over health care were misguided, ‘beating their chests.’ Schock said, ‘If you’re going to take a hostage, you have to be willing to shoot it.’ To which an audience member gleefully said, ‘Kill it’ [the budget]” (3).

“We don’t always agree with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but he was correct Tuesday when he called on the House to put federal workers back on the job — and then take the budget to conference committee without a “gun to the head.” To negotiate now would be to reward the HOSTAGE-TAKERS for their unreasonable behavior. The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, and Republicans need to give up their obsession with it unless, of course, they had something more productive to offer than a one-year delay” (4).

“. . . the Republican leadership seemed powerless to rein in the demands of its most conservative members, who would rather shut down the government or – – even worse — force a default in the government’s bond payments to bring an end to Obamacare. Such moves would be disastrous for the country, and ruinous for the Republican Party. Put aside, for a moment, the hope for a half-a-loaf compromise with Democrats. The people driving this government HOSTAGE-TAKING aren’t looking for half a loaf, and their tactics can’t be rewarded” (5).

“Democrats such as Senate majority leader Harry Reid have sought to paint themselves as willing to make responsible spending cuts, while tea party Republicans hold such a deal HOSTAGE to their own whims” (6).

“Yet yesterday the options for reaching a compromise appeared narrow, not least because of Republican attempts to HOLD THE GOVERNMENT HOSTAGE by crippling the so-called Obamacare reforms, hated by Tea Party conservatives and set to be rolled out on the same date” (7).

DIONNE, E.J.  “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: THE TEA PARTY SHUTDOWN.” Contra Costa Times (California). (October 2, 2013. Web. LexisNexis Academic.  4 Oct. 2013.

The tea party Republicans should hang a “Mission Accomplished” banner across the House of Representatives. They could flank it with large portraits of Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who has in fact, if not in name, replaced John Boehner as speaker of the House. The right-wing extremists got exactly what they wanted. Now, what will the country do about it?

In blundering into a shutdown, Boehner has lost any claim to authority. Helpfully, the speaker-in-name-only underscored this fact himself on the House floor when he mocked the way President Barack Obama talked. Does anyone remember a real speaker going to the well of the House and making fun of a president of the United States? Can anyone now DOUBT WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR WASHINGTON’S DYSFUNCTION? THE REPUBLICAN RIGHT STILL DOES NOT ACCEPT THE LEGITIMACY OF OBAMA’S PRESIDENCY. THIS IS WHY MUCH OF THE GOVERNMENT SHUT DOWN. . . .

Making sure the government pays its debt is not a “concession.” It’s what we expect from A WELL-FUNCTIONING CONSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM.

A WELL-FUNCTIONING CONSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM

A WELL-FUNCTIONING CONSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM

It’s what we expect from decent stewards of our great experiment. THE EXTREMISTS WHO HAVE TAKEN OVER THE HOUSE DO NOT BELIEVE IN A NORMAL, CONSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM. THEY BELIEVE ONLY IN POWER. 

There’s a profound irony here, since no one talks more about the Constitution than the tea party. Before the Civil War, John C. Calhoun and a variety of nullifiers and future secessionists spoke incessantly about the Constitution, too. We know where that led.

In the course of things in a constitutional and democratic republic, parties win elections on the issues that matter to them. They pass laws or repeal them by majority vote. The tea party could not muster such a majority to repeal the Affordable Care Act because Democrats held the White House and the Senate in the 2012 elections. Lacking a majority, the extremists chose force. “Do what we want,” they said, “or we will render the country ungovernable.”

That’s what they have done. Everyone says Boehner knew better and did not want this outcome. But he was so fearful for his job that he let it happen.

120801_ted_cruz_win_ap_605My conservative colleague Michael Gerson had it exactly right Tuesday: “We are no longer seeing a revolt against the Republican leadership, or even against the Republican ‘establishment’; THIS REVOLT IS AGAINST ANYONE WHO ACCEPTS THE CONSTRAINTS OF POLITICAL REALITY.”
.
.

___________
(1) Howerton, Jason.  “GOP Rep. Goes Off on Ted Cruz: He’s a ‘Fraud’, ‘Kamikaze Pilot’ and ‘Those I’ve Spoken to Think He’s Crazy’.” The Blaze. Sep. 25, 2013. Web. 4 Oct. 2013.
(2) Ibbitson, John. “Americans held hostage by Tea Party.” The Globe and Mail (Canada). September 30, 2013. Web. LexisNexis Academic.  4 Oct. 2013.
(3) Jan, Tracy. “This time, Tea Party aims at GOP ; Activists call for risking government shutdown to stop health law.”  The Boston Globe. 9 August 2013. Web. 4 Oct. 2013.
(4) “The unproductive shutdown.” Editorial page. McClatchy – Tribune Business News. 2013, Oct 01. Web. 4 Oct. 2013
(5) “Moment of truth for GOP: Break away from Tea Party.” Editorial. The Boston Globe. 28 September 2013. Web. 4 Oct. 2013.
(6) Trumbull, Mark. “Government shutdown: How might this time be different from 1995?” The Christian Science Monitor.  2011, Apr 05. Web. 4 Oct. 2013.
(7) Usborne, David, US Editor. “Obamacare battle may trigger government shutdown; Republican attempts to derail planned healthcare reforms could provoke financial meltdown.” The Independent (London). September 21, 2013 Saturday. Web.  LexisNexis Academic. 4 Oct. 2013.

Of silos and birth certificates

Will the real American please stand up?

Will the real American please stand up?

I’d like to meet Ted Cruz.

For two hours I’ve been trying to think of a humorous take on what I want to say, but I can’t. Sheesh! Where’s George Carlin when we need him?

Back in the day—you know, the idyllic ‘50s, the good ole days when Father Knew Best and we all Left It to Beaver—there was a Communist behind every filing cabinet in Washington, D.C., and most movie directors and screenwriters had a tinge of pink about them. Even Leonard Bernstein was most likely one of “them.”

Our national response to this threat—I mean Threat, with a capital “T”—was to plant guided missile silos in the back yards of unsuspecting kids in places like Kimball, Nebraska, and Lovell, Wyoming. Well, I suppose the missiles weren’t aimed directly at Lenny Bernstein, but they might as well have been.

The missiles were (and still are?) aimed at Communist Russia (formerly, for those under 22 years old, known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). The mere fact that huge conglomeration of republics lumped together under one monolithic and despotic  government had the word “Socialist” in its name made it Godless and fearsome. Communism (godless socialism) was out to get us, and we had to be ready to sacrifice the children of Western Nebraska and Eastern Wyoming to stop the Reds.

Never mind it wasn’t Communism but Joseph Stalin and his un-godsons who were out to get us. Had nothing to do with “Communism,” really. It was Russian totalitarianism. Not ten people in the United States knew then (or know now) what Communism is. My guess is that I’m the only person reading this who has Marx’s Manifesto downloaded on his iPad. And, of course, by the rules of Joe McCarthy who was running the pinko-behind-every-file-cabinet-in-Washington show the very fact that I’ve read the Manifesto and quote it now and then proves I’m a Communist. And virtually as dangerous as Joseph Stalin.

Lenny and fellow travelers

Lenny and fellow travelers

Enter Ted Cruz.

The junior Senator from Texas (from where else could he possibly be?) has taken up Joe McCarthy’s mantle. Cruz raises the possibility that Senator Chuck Hagel from Nebraska might have taken a $200,000 campaign contribution from Communist North Korea. And my friend Kimball almost certainly believes him. Never mind North Korea doesn’t have $200,000 to give to anyone for anything. The fact is that North Korea is not—by definition—Communist. Read the Manifesto. In order to be Communist, a nation has to have lots of goods and the means to produce lots more to share around equally before Communism can be adopted. North Korea does not qualify. Monolithc and despotic, yes. Communist? Nope.

Ted Cruz is, by definition, a liar. He is a debater. A national champion debater.  Debaters have no interest in the truth. All they want is to win the “argument.”  They use words the way the NRA uses the Second Amendment. Kill ‘em dead by any means available—with no regard for the truth. Ted Cruz floats out a preposterous and totally un-sourced question about Senator Hagel and wins the argument—helps delay Senator Hagel’s confirmation as Secretary of Defense—with no regard for the truth. Sophistry at its finest.

So the former Senator from one of the states that used to have (still has?) missile silos planted around to shoot at the Communists is now taking

Likr Ted Cruz

Like Ted Cruz

campaign contributions from one of those so-called Communist countries? Never mind the truth, or even logic.

And, to add insult to injury, Cruz isn’t really an American. He’s a Cuban born in Canada, probably in this country illegally. I sure wish Ted Cruz would show me his birth certificate. How has he perpetuated this fraud? I’d like to meet Ted Cruz. I wish I had cojones like his.