Archives for: August 2012, 22
About a year ago, Israel opened a new hiking and biking pilgrimage trail that became known as the Jesus Trail. The trail approximates travels by Jesus during his ministry. It actually traces two routes, the return route passing different sites. It joins with other paths in a kind of unified tour. It takes about four days to go through the first trail. So it takes a little more than a week to complete the entire journey.
It winds from Nazareth, where Jesus grew up, through Capernaum where he journeyed to begin his ministry. At several points it touches upon the Sea of Galilee. The Sea of Galilee is a large place, and there is no precision in the travels along the Jesus Trail. The body of water is aptly named. It is like a sea. There are no exact places. Still I understand the reverence that attaches. It is the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus walked on the water, where he enlisted the first disciples from fishing boats, near where he preached the Beatitudes.
It is also where Republican Congressional representatives drank and partied into the night, finally skinny-dipping in the waters where Jesus walked. Only one representative says he was naked. Nobody could see him, he said, and he was without clothing only for a short time. So, he dove in, but he didn't inhale.
Others, joining in the general atmosphere of jovial festivity, jumped off the enclosed deck into the waters, some fully clothed, others not so fully. A little too much drinking can do that.
Like many fellow believers, I hold a certain emotional reverence for the paths that Jesus may have traveled, the places he may have preached, the locales of the miracles he performed. I know that the message and the Messiah are transcendent. Time and distance do not dilute either. The places themselves are no more holy or magical than the mysterious artifacts fraudulently invented and sold since medieval times.
What startled me, I suppose, was that the drinking, partying, and skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee was within a couple of weeks of the artificial budget crisis that nearly sank the U.S. economy.
Many Americans thought that raising the debt ceiling was the same as raising the debt, or that it was some sort of maximum debt level that would allow the debt to be raised at some future point. It wasn't. A misleading name can ... well ... mislead.
"Raising the debt ceiling" simply gave permission to the United States Treasury to pay existing bills. Like payroll, like bullets for the rifles held by Marines in combat, like the salaries of prison guards, like Social Security checks and Medicare benefits.
Republicans, led by many who drank, then partied in the Sea of Galilee, held the nation hostage, demanding their agenda be strictly adhered to before America's obligations could be met.
There is some irony that the incident happened in the place many of us regard as holy - - holy because of the messenger, holy because of the message: That we must love God, that we must love our neighbor every bit as much as we love ourselves, that we must care for those in need, that we must always take care of our own, that all God's children are our own, that all who are part of humanity are children of God.
The irony is the militancy and rejoicing some take in slashing help for those whom Jesus embraces, cutting lose those who need a hand up, denigrating those who have fallen at the side of the road. The Good Samaritan might have been welcomed at that wild celebration. The victim he took in might not have been. No bootstraps.
To me the incident is iconic. We who follow the Prince of Peace walk the Jesus Trail, uncertain of how close we might travel to the path our Savior walks. And sometimes, we defile the waters of our spiritual baptism. In this, we are all, at one point or another, freshman Republicans partying in the Sea of Galilee.
In response to T. Paine's Tax Records Are a Distraction
...the strong possibility also exists that after Romney released more of his records that Obama or his surrogates would demand some other irrelevant demand be met. At what point does it stop?
That is sort of a slippery slope argument, but Obama and friends are not likely to ask for anything that Obama has not revealed about himself. More importantly, we do not all agree that this is an irrelevant demand.
Do you honestly expect him to have done anything illegal or immoral with his taxes since he ran for office in 2008 or governor of Massachusetts before that?
Not illegal, but perhaps immoral, depending on the observer. That is for each voter to decide.
John McCain released only two years of his tax returns before the 2008 elections and nothing was ever said about it in the media. Why is this an issue now when there is nothing to suggest wrong-doing on Romney’s behalf besides the unsubstantiated lies of the dissembling Harry Reid from some 'unnamed source'?
I did not pay much attention to the last election, so I was not aware of that. I can only say that a 10-year record seems like a reasonable requirement for a presidential candidate, regardless of his political affiliation. My stance on this has nothing to do with Reid.
Again, I submit to you that the reason is because Obama cannot run on his record and must therefore deflect attention from it by trying anything he can to discredit his opponent.
Deflecting attention from one's own supposed areas of weakness by focusing on the opposition's supposed areas of weakness is standard fare in politics. Obama is not the first and will not be the last to do so. And Romney is not innocent.
But this seems like a simple issue. Romney ought to release his records so that we can proceed to consider his ideas, at least once he gets around to sharing them with us. I do not understand why a man who wants to be our president is unwilling to share more than two years' worth of his tax records. One forgoes quite a bit of privacy as a matter of course in a campaign like this--as he should.
Moreover, his effective tax rate is particularly relevant because of his platform. We have been hearing that we must reduce taxes (including on those who are most able to pay), that the wealthy are overtaxed, that we have a moral obligation to support our country through taxes, and even that the wealthy should pay more than everyone else. Coming from a very wealthy man who has offshore bank accounts and pays a lower tax rate than many middle class families, such words just seem disingenuous to me. This is part of what makes his taxes a moral issue rather than just a legal one.
The fact that some people are concerned about it instead of his nearly $6 trillion added to the national debt and his consistent unemployment rate north of 8% for the economy for nearly all of his presidency shows that there are those that can be easily distracted and that this is a good political strategy.
People are capable of being concerned about more than one issue at once. Moreover, the government's spending, the unemployment rate, and other problems cannot simply be pinned on Obama. Even if they could be, we could not immediately conclude that Romney is the better candidate. We could, in fact, be worse off than we are now.
In any case, Republicans seem to have no problem with skewering Democrats (and sometimes fellow Republicans) who are involved in sexual scandals even though there are more important issues to address. It is politically opportunistic--but only because the public cares. Politics is full of such "distractions." I wonder if any of them ever distract you.
The difference with Obama’s college records is that there are numerous questions raised that circumstantial evidence highly suggests the possibility of impropriety on Obama’s behalf. Doesn’t that concern you at all, sir?
It might concern me if I accepted that this "circumstantial evidence" raised these "numerous questions," but I do not. There are more reasonable explanations of apparent discrepancies and all manner of data to which we do not and will never have access. I keep my political speculation to a minimum, both because it is speculation and because I might go mad otherwise.
Kudos on your riposte.
The spirit of John Myste was with me.
Ryan is a frequent and honored guest. He also writes for his own site, where political speculation is at a minimum and madness is kept at a distance.
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