In 1976, Earl Butz resigned from the Ford Administration where he had served as Secretary of Agriculture from the beginning. President Nixon appointed him in 1971 and he kept tripping over his own tongue. What finally did him in was a dirty joke about black people. Right Wing television personality Pat Boone asked him why the party of Lincoln had so much trouble attracting support from black people. Butz began "I'll tell you what the coloreds want." Then he described in obscene and insulting terms that began with black sexuality and ended with bathroom preferences. The least obscene part of his hilarity was "second, loose shoes."
I've never much cared for Pat Boone, but I admire that he was horrified enough by the racial attitude to be outraged. He conducted a one man campaign that resulted in Butz resigning in disgrace.
It was not an isolated incident involving only Butz. Oh, we never saw, in those days, the sort of racial scandal-a-month that, in recent years, has involved serial GOP resignations. Technology was different back then. A few friendly nods could keep details from becoming newspaper headlines. But the background buzz was consistent. Black people were held in jovial conservative contempt.
In the late 1990s when George W. Bush was the affable governor of Texas with an eye on the Presidency, occasional insider reports gave the impression that he was often the lonely voice against racism in the GOP. It had been decades since the Butz resignation. But even in the days of his father's Vice-Presidency, young George was described by intimates as enraged when he encountered private little asides of the Earl Butz variety.
Kanye West's now famous remark, "George Bush doesn't care about black people", apparently struck a chord at the time. The pain President Bush recently expressed was surprising in its disproportionate emotionalism. The lowest moment of his Presidency was not knowledge of the devastation experienced by the many thousands of families in Iraq. It wasn't the loss of military lives over a mistaken belief in weapons that didn't exist. It wasn't about lives lost in the waters of New Orleans. It wasn't even the sight of towers collapsing or the news of airliners colliding with the Pentagon, with thousands murdered on American soil. It was hearing Kanye West disparage his level of racial empathy.
But the President's anguish strikes me as genuine. West's comments were personal. They dealt with core motivations. They challenged profound beliefs developed over a lifetime, a deep and unrelenting anger at racism.
President Bush was, in my estimation, a remarkably irresponsible Chief Executive. He was President Magoo, cheerfully uninformed on even the most basic of policies, "a blind man in a roomful of deaf people" according to one disenchanted cabinet member. He left policy to a deadly combination of cynical old hands and rosy cheeked simpletons.
Bush policies did hurt the poor and reduce legal protection for victims of racial discrimination. Those policies were, I think, the result of malevolence, but not that of the President. He was guilty mostly of bored indifference when it came to policy. His own well formed beliefs precluded, I think, the rancid racial inclinations of those who tried to drive black women out of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department in favor of "good Christians" which turned out to be conservative white males, or those who tried, and still try, to disfranchise the working poor. So I was not surprised by the recent dismay expressed by President Bush at today's "isms."
"One is isolationism, and its evil twin, protectionism," he said, "and its evil triplet, nativism." He was talking about a recurrence of the ethnic prejudices of the 1920s which resulted in immigration quotas to restrict the inflow of undesirables, like Italians and Jews. President Bush is right about nativism, and those of good will share his hope that it will diminish with time.
Kanye West was right to later apologize for his "George Bush doesn't care about black people," the slur uttered as New Orleans was drowning and Brownie was doing a heck of a job. In fact, President Bush did care about black people. He cared about everyone.
It was only toward his solemn Presidential duties that he was indifferent.
I didn't appreciate it then. I don't appreciate it now. It's one thing to say, "I don't appreciate the way he's handled his business." It's another thing to say, "This man's a racist." I resent it, it's not true.
- - President George W. Bush, November 8, 2011
Recalling Kanye West's outburst during the Hurricane Katrina tragedy:
"George Bush doesn't care about Black people"
Congressional Representative Andy Harris (R-MD) made a bit of a splash a couple of weeks after the election. During the campaign, he had made promises. "In Washington, I will never vote to raise taxes, I will fight to repeal health-care reform, and I will work to balance the budget."
And now, the newly elected anti-Health Care Reform Tea Party backed conservative was angry. During an orientation session of new members he found out that his own government provided health coverage wouldn't actually begin for another month. "This is the only employer I've ever worked for where you don't get coverage the first day you are employed." That was a quote provided by his own office.
Attendees at the closed meeting said his concern was with the gap in his own coverage. He demanded to know "why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care." Indeed.
A handful of Republicans, 15 out of 242, will be turning down their health care benefits. Not announced is how many of those 15 are otherwise protected by spousal coverage. The rest, all 227, will quietly be accepting their coverage while working diligently to strike down health care for others. One exception is Michael Grimm (R-NY) who also campaigned against health care reform. Representative Grimm will not be among those few rejecting the generous congressional health care package. He is exceptional because he is not accepting it quietly. He is indignant that it is considered questionable. And he is willing to say so. Loudly.
“What am I, not supposed to have health care?” He seems unaware of any irony. “It’s practicality. I’m not going to become a burden for the state because I don’t have health care, and God forbid I get into an accident and I can’t afford the operation.”
He adds, for emphasis, “That can happen to anyone.” (Insert your own variation of "Well, duh")
Representative Ann Buerkle (R-NY) is also not among the 15 Republicans who will be turning down government provided health coverage. Her attitude more closely reflects that of her political base. Up until recently she was unaware that her new health coverage, the best in the country, is paid for by the government. In fact, at a public meeting, she insisted that taxpayers didn't pay anything for her coverage. She corrected herself after being handed a note by a new member of her staff.
Many on the left are having some fun with the seeming contradictions. But those Medicare recipients who seem angry about government provided health care, are really upset about such benefits going to those who don't deserve it. In fact, some conservatives have been amazingly explicit, characterizing health care reform as a form of slave reparations for Barack Obama's fellow ... well ... those people. The undeserving.
Republicans have been reticent, but clear when pressed, about replacing Medicare with vouchers and privatizing Social Security retirement. When the more expansive ambitions of the new Congressional majority become apparent in actual votes, it will be interesting to see how it is reported. More interesting will be the reaction as the acid rain falls alike upon the just and the unjust.
As the President spoke, his tone was less instructive than it was confessional. He spoke of tragic loss and reminders of human mortality, how we seek God in our daily lives with renewed determination.
So my prayer this morning is that we might seek His face not only in those moments, but each and every day; that every day as we go through the hustle and bustle of our lives, whether it's in Washington or Hollywood or anywhere in between, that we might every so often rise above the here and now, and kneel before the Eternal; that we might remember, Kaye, the fact that those who wait on the Lord will soar on wings like eagles, and they will run and not be weary, and they will walk and not faint.
"When I wake in the morning, I wait on the Lord, and I ask Him to give me the strength to do right by our country and its people. And when I go to bed at night I wait on the Lord, and I ask Him to forgive me my sins, and look after my family and the American people, and make me an instrument of His will."
His words would be familiar to many Christians who study the Bible. "Run and not be weary" is known to many more of us for the popular semi-contemporary song that serves as a sometime postlude at the close of worship, the first line of which comes from Isaiah.
May you run and not be weary.
May your heart be filled with song.
And may the Love of God continue
to give you hope and keep you strong.
Conservatives recognized the phrases, and some of them looked them up. And so the word went forth. The President had been not quite quoting Isaiah 40. Conservatives began a time of mirth. The Fox News headline was "Obama Botches Bible Verse at Prayer Breakfast" and the storyline was repeated, spreading like wildfire in familiar conservative tracts through the internet. The man did not know his own Bible!! He got it all wrong.
That the President did not claim to be directly quoting any part of scripture was lost amid the laughter. But then came an interesting discovery not immediately apparent to many of my brothers and sisters in Christ. To their surprise, it turns out there is more than one version of the Bible. The President's words were closer to, although still a paraphrase of, the New International Version. Conservatives have not yet noticed the departure of the "May You Run and Not Be Weary" Christian song from adherence to any version of Isaiah, so we are still allowed to sing it at worship, unaware that we are being musically botched.
The temptation in any faith is to place our most intense attention on the trivial and little on what is vitally important. Jesus was often attacked for violating literal interpretations of scripture by healing on the Sabbath. In one encounter, he summarized the basis for all scriptural law in two parts: love God and love your neighbor. He spoke of fulfilling scriptural rules through love. Paul later spoke of liberation from strict interpretation by following the underlying principle of love. What is in the human heart is more important than what is one the printed page, even when the print is of scripture.
The President's talk at the National Prayer Breakfast focused on the importance of our relationship with our Creator and why our prayers must be constantly renewed. "In our own lives it's easy to be consumed by our daily worries and our daily concerns. And it is even easier at a time when everybody is busy, everybody is stressed, and everybody -- our culture is obsessed with wealth and power and celebrity. And often it takes a brush with hardship or tragedy to shake us out of that, to remind us of what matters most."
What matters most to some of my brethren is not the content of our hearts, but the conformity of our text. It doesn't stop at politics. In our daily lives we are tempted to put more importance on our relationship with Isaiah than on our relationship with God.
Thank you so much. To the co-chairs, Jeff and Ann; to all the members of Congress who are here, the distinguished guests who’ve traveled so far to be here this morning; to Randall for your wonderful stories and powerful prayer; to all who are here providing testimony, thank you so much for having me and Michelle here. We are blessed to be here.
I want to begin by just saying a word to Mark Kelly, who’s here. We have been praying for Mark’s wife, Gabby Giffords, for many days now. But I want Gabby and Mark and their entire family to know that we are with them for the long haul, and God is with them for the long haul. (Applause.)
And even as we pray for Gabby in the aftermath of a tragedy here at home, we're also mindful of the violence that we're now seeing in the Middle East, and we pray that the violence in Egypt will end and that the rights and aspirations of the Egyptian people will be realized and that a better day will dawn over Egypt and throughout the world.
For almost 60 years, going back to President Eisenhower, this gathering has been attended by our President. It’s a tradition that I'm proud to uphold not only as a fellow believer but as an elected leader whose entry into public service was actually through the church. This may come as a surprise, for as some of you know, I did not come from a particularly religious family. My father, who I barely knew -- I only met once for a month in my entire life -- was said to be a non-believer throughout his life.
My mother, whose parents were Baptist and Methodist, grew up with a certain skepticism about organized religion, and she usually only took me to church on Easter and Christmas -- sometimes. And yet my mother was also one of the most spiritual people that I ever knew. She was somebody who was instinctively guided by the Golden Rule and who nagged me constantly about the homespun values of her Kansas upbringing, values like honesty and hard work and kindness and fair play.
And it’s because of her that I came to understand the equal worth of all men and all women, and the imperatives of an ethical life and the necessity to act on your beliefs. And it’s because of her example and guidance that despite the absence of a formal religious upbringing my earliest inspirations for a life of service ended up being the faith leaders of the civil rights movement.
There was, of course, Martin Luther King and the Baptist leaders, the ways in which they helped those who had been subjugated to make a way out of no way, and transform a nation through the force of love. But there were also Catholic leaders like Father Theodore Heshburg, and Jewish leaders like Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Muslim leaders and Hindu leaders. Their call to fix what was broken in our world, a call rooted in faith, is what led me just a few years out of college to sign up as a community organizer for a group of churches on the Southside of Chicago. And it was through that experience working with pastors and laypeople trying to heal the wounds of hurting neighborhoods that I came to know Jesus Christ for myself and embrace Him as my lord and savior. (Applause.)
Usage Discussion of LIBRARY
While the pronunciation \ˈlī-ˌbrer-ē\ is the most frequent variant in the United States, the other variants are not uncommon. The contraction \ˈlī-brē\ and the dissimilated form \ˈlī-ˌber-ē\ result from the relative difficulty of repeating \r\ in the same syllable or successive syllables; our files contain citations for these variants from educated speakers, including college presidents and professors, as well as with somewhat greater frequency from less educated speakers.
Ned Williams at WisdomIsVindicated goes Breitbart with a video exposing Planned Parenthood. His busy schedule keeps him from clicking any of several sites exposing the exposé as fraudulent, relying on heavily doctored videos. Poor Ned was duped.
MadMike's Michael John Scott regards Christianity as a danger to the world and documents his feeling with a fascinating video. Regarding dangerous Christians, Michael couldn't be referring to ME . . . uh . . . could he?
- A liberal blogger gets mad, then refuses to be baited by me. Rats.
They ANIMATED this?
Next season: Secrets of mowing your lawn and then getting your mail
Violence seems directed by pro-government forces against protesters
45 seconds in: a high speed armored vehicle is driven into the crowd
Sarah Palin's response to President Obama's State of the Union Address took the form of a friendly but bewildering interview with Greta Van Susteren on good old dependable Fox. In part of the interview, Governor Palin seemed to think the Soviet Union won the space race. Late night comedians and cable hosts, including Bill Maher, had a lot of fun with that one. One small step for a comrade, one giant leap for revolutionary socialist triumph.
Tommy Christopher noticed something that had escaped everyone else, including Palin's Tea Party fellow travelers at the Murdoch network. It was her use of the word "that" in the following sentence: "And he needs to remember that what happened back then with the former communist USSR and their victory in that race to space, yes, they won, but they also incurred so much debt at the time that it resulted in the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union." Now Palin tends to overuse the word "that" as in "I told Congress, thanks but no thanks on that bridge to nowhere" when "the" would have been a cleaner fit. It's a personal, oft repeated, idiosyncrasy. But Christopher was able to discern that she wasn't referring to the Soviets winning "the" race to space. She was talking about "that" race to space. Get it? No?
Christopher explained. When she used "that" instead of "the" it changed everything. "The" space race would mean the overall space race that culminated in man walking on the moon and returning safely to the Earth. "That" space race was more restrictive, meaning only the race to put a satellite into orbit. That one, not the one. That seemed to me a powerful weight to place on the parsing of a single word. More importantly, it seemed to me counter-argumentative. If Palin believes THE space race, the one that ended with Neil Armstrong's footprint, bankrupted the USSR, she is ignorant of a lot of history. If she believes what Tommy Christopher believes she believes, she is idiotic as well as ignorant. It requires her to think, not that the entire space race ended the Soviet empire, but that little Sputnik way back in 1957 did the job all by its lonesome little self.
Tommy Christopher doesn't much care for Sarah Palin. At least that is the impression you can easily get from a survey of his work at MEDIAite.com, the on-line magazine devoted to contrasting opinions. Consider this from a recent article: "Now, I have good friends, whom I respect a great deal, who insist that Palin is no idiot. Out of deference to them, I’m going to go ahead and assume that Palin just thinks her audience is made up of idiots." And his article on the space race as opposed to that space race contains a well researched take down of that part of Palin's intellectual capacity that found its way into the interview with the apparently bemused Van Susteren.
But fair is fair. When Governor Palin is falsely accused, somebody has to say so. And Tommy Christopher is just the fellow. Defending is a finely honed talent in the hands of this capable writer. Consider his slashing defense of his own work from the shamefully unfair attack of ... well ... me:
You took my argument completely out of context, and failed to mention that I made the very points that you did, that Palin's response was idiotic, but that on this ONE POINT, she was correct. Really unfair. Shame on you. I hope your readers bothered to read the whole piece.
Mr. Christopher is quite correct in shaming me, if only to the extent that 1) the primary thrust of his article is not his defense of Governor Palin, and 2) in context, he makes the identical point that I attempted. My own weak-kneed bleating protest is that I was misled by my deficiencies.
I saw the headline of Tommy Christopher's work: "Bill Maher and Others Falsely Claim Sarah Palin Said Soviets ‘Won the Space Race’" then I read the first paragraph which included "The sentence to which her critics refer might have been the only thing Palin got right, but get it right, she did" and I got to the conclusion: "Only Palin knows, for sure, what she was suggesting, but it’s unfair to claim that she said the Soviets 'won the Space Race.'" I sincerely thought, regardless of the author's disdain for the subject of his defense, that the defense was actually his point. As in, look folks, she's an idiot but she's right. In fact, unless I look at the piece sideways, I still am haunted by the ghostly after image of my since corrected view that it was the actual point. In context.
Please don't tell the instructor of my remedial reading class, but I completely failed to see Tommy Christopher's replication of the point I was making. My guilty confession is that I still can't find it. Oh I can plainly see his analysis of the spudnut shop she mentioned. I can see his blowup of cause and effect in the space race resulting in the collapse of the evil empire. And he is specific about Sputnik not being the cause. But the subtlety goes over my hairless head when he, somewhere, makes the identical point I made: that his interpretation of her "that" requires her to be dumber than my less perceptive reading led me to believe. I keep missing it. Where does he make that point?
And so, I offer to Tommy Christopher my stammering, red faced apology.
I encourage readers to review his entire piece. His writing is entertaining in style and intelligent in content. And he is able to exercise a mental agility I dare not even dream of ever attaining. He is able to defend what it would not occur to most mortals to defend.
Humankind tends to develop a hypersensitivity over what is near and dear. "If you think it's hard to meet new people," Jack Lemmon supposedly said, "try picking up the wrong golf ball."
Religion, driving methods, politics, and child rearing can be counted on to produce heated debates. But touch income, and you're looking down the barrel of a vote. Medicare and Social Security share third raildom in politics.
In 1972, President Richard Nixon fought hard against increases to Social Security to cover cost of living. He told Congress that if they insisted on passing any increase, he would veto it. Seniors were hard up in those days and Democrats wanted to act.
But the President very much wanted to try a welfare experiment. The Family Assistance Program would replace most government aid for children with a very modest guaranteed minimum income that would gradually vanish as a family's income rose. Liberals liked the concept but the amount was very small. Helping families get off welfare should not have as its price increasing the number of starving children. Nixon refused to increase the amount.
Finally, Democrats worked out a deal. They modified the Family Assistance Plan to increase the amount and start it as a small model program. They also increased Social Security for Seniors. Then they attached both to an increase in the debt ceiling. Nixon wanted his program, even as a small token beginning, and he also wanted that debt ceiling to increase. He didn't want to torpedo the economy. So he reluctantly put aside his veto threat and let seniors have their cost of living increase.
When seniors opened their checks later that year, they found a welcomed increase. They also found a notice from the administration telling them the increase was a result of Nixon's signing a new law. The implicit message was clear. They had gotten an increase because of Richard Nixon's efforts on their behalf. He had fought for them. Thus Nixon was able to take credit for passing what he had actually fought so hard against.
Thirty seven years later, retirement benefits became a bit of a punchline during the health care debates. Telling the government to keep its hands off Medicare was a joke that went over the heads of the tea party participants carrying the signs. Seniors were told by Fox News and conservative politicians that Democrats wanted to reduce their benefits. It wasn't their own benefits many wanted cut. They just didn't want anything similar going to someone less deserving. You know ... those people. Some conservatives explicitly characterized health care reform as a form of slave reparations for Barack Obama's fellow members of the tribe.
Now that the election is over, Republicans are promoting their plan to ... well ... privatize Medicare. Paul Ryan (R-WI) did not mention it in his response to the President's State of the Union, but he has been shopping his voucher plan to Republicans and finding a wellspring of support. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) chairs the House Republican Conference. He has become an enthusiastic advocate and predicts Republicans will be able to replace Medicare this year.
Social Security is also on the table but the third rail makes that a touch dicier. In fact, House Speaker John Boehner says he was premature in announcing the retirement age will be raised to 70. "I made a mistake when I did that, because I think having the conversation about how big the problem is is the first step," he now says. "... once the American people understand how big the problem is, then you can begin to outline an array of possible solutions." So first we'll have the conversation, then we'll raise the retirement age. Right after we privatize Medicare. It's an ambitious Republican agenda.
We've come a long way since Richard Nixon and the fake notices. It's now safer to mess with retirement than it is to pick up golf balls.
When Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) provided her first, then second, Tea Party answer to President Obama's State of the Union, it was widely heralded as an echo of the Republican response, the one given by the new House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). In actuality, it was a stronger and more specific address than the official GOP response.
In the months leading up to the election, Republicans promised to slash virtually all non-military spending. Representative Bachmann provided several specific areas of reduction that Ryan had detailed in the past but did not mention after the SOTU. One area was veteran's benefits. The Tea Party budget included freezing health care to military personnel wounded in battle.
It was not a new proposal. In addition to Representative Ryan, the conservative Heritage Foundation also floated the idea. Their October report projected a 2.5 billion dollar savings from putting a freeze on health care costs for veterans. Some analysts have already objected. As more wounded veterans are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, freezing health care benefits means less care for combat injuries. Paul Sullivan of Veterans for Common Sense spoke for many. “It is really astonishing to see this.”
Many veterans receive compensation for war injuries while also receiving Social Security benefits. Conservatives regard this as an overpayment averaging about 12,800 a year. Veteran's groups don't see it that way. "My feelings on veterans benefits," says former Senator Max Cleland (D-GA), "they're all pre-paid. Veterans gave at the office."
Republicans answer that painful cuts are needed to reduce the deficit. An obvious political drawback is the simultaneous demand by Republicans for continuing tax reductions for the very wealthiest of Americans.
But there is a more universal difficulty with cutting the deficit during a prolonged recession. The problem is the timing. Republicans refer disparagingly to the idea that we can spend our way out of debt. But most economists agree that this counter-intuitive approach is exactly what is needed in the short term. Building up the economy is the essential first step in debt reduction. One analogy might be whether to get a family out of debt by cutting out the gas it takes to get to work. It might work for a week, but it won't last long. Sucking money out of the economy when the money supply is not flowing as it should will collapse the economy and send millions of working Americans to street corners selling apples to survive.
Economists like Nobel winner Paul Krugman say that a temporary but massive increase in spending will reduce the deficit within a few years by boosting economic growth.
Slashing health care and disability benefits for those who put themselves in harm's way for their country puts a human face on a more general problem with the Republican program. Slashing government spending during a severe recession is not a smart move. It will throw millions more out of work and reintroduce a downward spiral. It is an enormously self-destructive approach.
Doing it on the backs of disabled veterans is merely immoral.
Sharron will be sharing her beauty and
makeup challenges during the campaign and
how she overcame them!
She had confidence that she would look great
with 14 -16 hour days & with numerous
so can you!
- - SeneGence International, Glam & Gloss, January 21, 2011
On special guest Sharron Angle, former candidate for US Senate
The new Republican majority in the House of Representatives wants to create an environment that will produce more American jobs. After all, that was a major campaign theme leading to their victory last November. But some moral issues have to take priority. One such issue is a new definition of rape.
Over the years, the definition of acceptable sex has been refined to a core principle. Sexual relationships must include informed consent. Blackmail doesn't qualify. Neither does force or the threat of force. If you drug a potential partner, consent is not informed and you can go to prison.
Statutory rape holds to that principle. The idea is that children are not legally capable of informed consent. The age of consent is arbitrary, sometimes varying from state to state. It sometimes results in violations of common sense justice. A youngster just above the age of consent can go to prison for a long, long time for a relationship with a youngster just below the age of consent. But the basic idea itself has very few opponents. Children are not capable of giving informed consent. Let them alone.
Chris Smith (R-NJ) has introduced legislation to change that. The bill has more than 170 Republican co-sponsors. The new Speaker of the House, John Boehner (R-OH), says it is a top priority, as in more important than jobs. The new law says forcible rape will still be rape, but that's about it.
So date rape drugs will be exempt. So will sex with underage children. Coercion is a bit muddy, because it involves the threat of force. But the new definition, in general, says that rape is rape only when force is involved.
The reason is abortion. For years, the uneasy truce in the culture war drew the demarcation line at rape, incest, and danger to the life of the woman. Federal funding for abortion would only be provided in those cases. The definition of rape was the traditional one: a sexual relationship without informed consent. If a woman was slipped a drug, consent was assumed to be absent. If a child was involved with an adult, consent could not be informed. A woman (or child) can't be impregnated without her informed, legal, consent, then be forced to carry a pregnancy to term.
The bill that changes all that is called the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act". Under the new law, victims of rape will still be allowed federally funded abortions. But child molestation, date drugging, and other cases not involving actual force will no longer count as rape. The children, among others, will be on their own.
Smith argues that this is all for the good of the victims of what is no longer rape: "no abortion -- legal or illegal -- is safe for the child and that all are fraught with negative health consequences, including emotional and psychological damage, for the mother." It's for your own good, child.
Once we protect children from emotional and psychological damage by telling them they must give birth, we can get on with looking into employment for Americans who very much want to give informed consent to working a job and getting a paycheck. But first things first.