Sunday, August 30 2009
At a recent Congressional town hall meeting I attended, I was astounded by the positions being taken by the outnumbered group of advocates for socializing American medicine.
The Founding Fathers - a group whose distrust and skepticism about the size and scope of the national government is epic - were surely doing back flips in their graves as seemingly intelligent Americans willfully stood up and championed the notion of handing over their healthcare to bureaucrats in Washington. Regardless of your political leanings, it was a chilling sight to see a group of citizens standing and applauding the loss of their own freedom.
But more bizarre than that was a sign that had been placed on a pro-ObamaCare table near the front of the stage. It simply read, "Jesus would vote yes."
Now, I should preface these remarks by acknowledging the possibility that I misunderstood the sign. A listener to my radio show suggested to me that perhaps "Jesus," pronounced "Hay-Soos," was referring to an illegal immigrant who would undoubtedly vote in favor of a plan guaranteed to further saddle American taxpayers with the burden of paying for those unwilling to obey the law. But with as thoughtful as that insight is, given all the recent attention the left has been showing Jesus the Savior recently, I think it's fair to assume He was the intended reference.
There are a couple initial observations that need to be made before we address the core, "Jesus as socialist" madness. First, for a movement so petrified by any perceived confluence of faith and politics, the left has kicked the Bible-banging into high gear recently.
Liberal talker Ed Schultz called socializing healthcare a "moral obligation" and said Christian ministers, "should be leading their congregations to support this president on healthcare reform." What?! I thought we weren't allowed to "legislate morality?" And haven't folks like Schultz been telling ministers for years to avoid politics in the pulpit, lest they violate the sacred "separation of church and state" doctrine?
But even President Obama got into the act. Convening a group of ministers on a conference call, the president told them that his healthcare plans accomplish the, "core moral and ethical obligation that we look out for one another...that I am my brother's keeper, my sister's keeper." He went so far as to suggest those who resist his plans are "bearing false witness" against him. Thou shalt not oppose thy Obama.
Frankly, I welcome this discussion. It is important to be conscious of what Jesus would do, and it's encouraging that even those on the left who reject His teachings and commands at least acknowledge His character and testimony. But all of us should tread very lightly when it comes to putting words into Jesus' mouth. No matter how long and close of a relationship with Christ one has, we should be beyond cautious (and painfully aware of our own fallibility) when it comes to any attempt to speak for Jesus beyond the plain words of Scripture. When in doubt, let the red letters speak for themselves.
For that reason, it has never been my contention that Jesus would have opposed a socialized healthcare bill in the United States. That certainly doesn't mean He would have supported it; rather, that the ministry of Christ was undeniably focused on the individual - our personal responsibilities, not the duties of civil government.
To take those personal commands and extrapolate outward until you encompass a government mandate is the height of irresponsibility and demonstrates a contempt for the sanctity of Scripture.
Ed Schultz went on to state, "When Jesus walked the face of the earth, He was feeding the hungry, He was clothing the poor, and healing the sick. He didn't ask anyone for their health insurance card. And He didn't heal anybody for profit." Well that's true. But for the sake of making a political push, Schultz is utterly distorting Christ's work.
First, Jesus performed His miracles of feeding the five thousand and healing the lepers to foster belief in His claim to be the Son of God. Second, He performed such acts to model personal compassion for us. If Jesus was really teaching that taking profit for one's work is evil, we all have some serious problems...including Ed Schultz. Schultz gets paid nice money for enlightening those who gather to hear him speak. But Jesus never took a penny for His teaching. By Schultz's logic, apparently the only profession that can rightly charge for their work is carpentry.
This torturing of the text is exactly what happens when we let our politics inform our faith, rather than the other way around.
Here's what we can know: Jesus commanded His followers to "do for the least of these." He commanded us as individuals to be generous, giving, compassionate, and charitable. What remains for us to decide is whether turning over those personal responsibilities and making them the domain of the federal government is the best way to fulfill them. If experience is any guide, the answer to that question is incontrovertibly, "no."
Sunday, August 23 2009
Sometimes as a history teacher, students will ask you unanswerable questions. For instance, just a few months ago I received this one: "What is the single biggest moment in world history?" On the list of tough questions, that is undoubtedly at the top. Initially, my Amero-centric mind started thinking of great moments in American history like Yorktown, Appomattox, D-Day, or Armstrong's stroll on the moon. Then it dawned on me that yes, the world did exist before 1776, and there were ample other choices from which to choose. Finally I answered (outside of school hours so as not to anger the ACLU) that either the birth or the resurrection of Jesus Christ was without question history's most significant occurrence. Silly me.
If only I would have waited a few more months to respond, I would have come across the TIME magazine article that had already answered the question forty years ago by declaring that Woodstock was "History's Biggest Happening." I'm so embarrassed. How did it not dawn on me that 400,000 rebellious young people collectively rejecting decency, morality, and hygiene trumped all other world events, including the moment when the Creator took on our injured flesh and dwelled amongst us?
With this year marking the 40th anniversary of the pig sty in upstate New York, there is a renewed effort by ex-hippies to make their "movement" into something meaningful and deserving of recognition. While New York Times columnist Gail Collins lamented that today's youth will never have such a truly "cut off" experience like Woodstock, author Paul Krassner writing at the Huffington Post suggested that the gathering was a "mass awakening" of young people who were "deprogramming themselves from a civilization of sadomasochistic priorities." He posited that Woodstock amounted to an "evolutionary jump in consciousness." Right. If Mr. Krassner can honestly conclude that a half million pampered brats stealing their way into a ticketed event, engaging freely in sexual promiscuity, abusing illegal drugs, and complaining about society's expectations that they grow up is a "higher consciousness," perhaps he is still suffering the aftereffects of the $6-a-capsule LSD that he admittedly used at the event.
Despite the best efforts of Krassner, Collins, and so many others, anyone capable of even a modicum of research can uncover how much of a sham it is to consider Woodstock some sort of "counterculture revolution." Simply compare the reality of Woodstock to what the participants were supposedly rebelling against, and you realize the insanity associated with attaching any meaningful significance to this drug fest.
First, the hippies claimed to reject the unjust and immoral capitalistic system that disproportionately hurt the poor, and benefitted the corporate elite. Never mind that the entire event was financed by Ivy League educated businessman John Roberts (the heir to the Polident fortune), and was held on the land of uber-wealthy conservative Republican farmer Max Yasgur. Yasgur made $75,000 for renting this unused portion of his property to the lefties. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that sure sounds like capitalism.
Even the psychedelic rock bands participating in the event were contaminated by such "capitalist greed." The Who charged over $10,000 for their appearance alone. One wonders if it ever dawned on the enlightened liberal masses there in the mud pit of degradation how many of the victimized poor they could have fed with ten grand?
Secondly, the "make love not war" crowd saw Woodstock as an opportunity to crystallize their intense opposition to American involvement in Vietnam. They grumbled against the American military as a vehicle of subjugation and dehumanization. That is, until they needed them. In what has to be one of the greatest ironies in American history, the spoiled children of Woodstock ran out of food...and turned to the National Guard to feed them. As Michael Tremoglie wrote, "The Left needed those warmongering, baby killing, murdering monsters of the military establishment to drop food from helicopters to save them."
Perhaps that, more than anything else, is what makes me bristle when I hear those who mocked responsibility and scoffed at morality propose that we erect a monument to their hedonism and teach the importance of its impact. We already have a monument to honor those from their generation who are worthy of honor: it's a wall in Washington, D.C. with roughly 58,000 names of those who stood for something far greater than depraved self-gratification.
On second thought, perhaps the self-obsessed ex-hippies are right...perhaps there is something meaningful to note about Woodstock. It stands as a national embarrassment and blight on an entire generation of otherwise responsible citizens. Citizens who chose honor over squalor, duty over rebellion, sacrifice over self-indulgence, and discipline over immaturity. It reminds us of that age-old reality that while some choose to set aside childish things, others choose to define their existence by them. That is the true legacy of Woodstock...and it's certainly not one worth celebrating.
Sunday, August 16 2009
Hillary Clinton may have coined the phrase, "a willing suspension of disbelief" to describe the Bush administration, but watching the Obamabots in the media and Congress react to a rising tide of fed-up Americans, it is hard to think of a more appropriate description.
On April 16th, a day after the first nationwide protest of our now out-of-control government, the sycophants on every television network took to the airwaves to belittle the legitimacy of what had taken place. Dan Harris explained on ABC News that the tea party protests were "actually largely orchestrated by people fronting for corporate interests." CBS News reporter Dean Reynolds proclaimed they were manufactured protests by a "fistful of rightward leaning websites and commentators." And NBC's Lee Cowan (the genius who admitted during the campaign that it was "hard to stay objective" when reporting on Obama) suggested that "not all of it was as home-grown as it may seem."
But as the tea party events have led directly into vocal protests at Congressional town hall meetings, their desperate attempts to discredit this emerging Obama Resistance have gotten downright humorous.
Democrat Congressmen have flooded onto their home network, MSNBC, to tout their belief that there is nothing grassroots about this movement...that it is all fabricated. Senator Barbara Boxer berated the "well dressed middle class people in pinks and limes" as phony. Doing his part to carry the Democrat message, Chris Matthews suggested that the protests be ignored because these citizens are merely stooges of the healthcare industry.
And several Democrats have decided to follow his advice, cancelling their town hall meetings altogether. Congressmen Reid, Honda, Lofgren, Eshoo, Baird, Castor, Shuler, DeGette, Edwards, Tanner, Inslee, Kissel, Shaheen, Ellsworth, Bayh, and Hill all have decided against doing their jobs. And apparently believing that arrogantly snubbing your constituents wasn't insulting enough, Indiana Democrat Baron Hill decided to take it up a notch by declaring citizens in his district who oppose the Democrat plan as, "political terrorists." Classy.
Even Presidential Press Secretary Robert Gibbs got into the act, telling reporters to take a critical look at, "the AstroTurf nature of so-called grass-roots lobbying." A man who owes his job to the AstroTurf lobbying of groups like ACORN, labor unions, and liberal philanthropists is now going to accuse this diverse collection of concerned citizens of being fake? But Gibbs wasn't done, stating just recently that the town halls are "not completely indicative of what's going on in America." Keep telling yourself that, Mr. Gibbs.
But perhaps the funniest example of this nonsense came from Obama's Democratic National Committee. The group put out an ad to attempt to stem the tide of opposition, and to rally the Obamabots to his defense. In the ad (replayed ad nauseam on MSNBC), the DNC claims to reveal the secret Republican cabal that is orchestrating these events. These surreptitious masterminds are trying to give the illusion of mass resistance to Obama-style socialism when there really is none, the DNC argues. After highlighting ominous commands from a mysterious directive that call for protestors to spread out throughout the room and offer intermittent shouts of displeasure, the DNC voiceover concludes this behavior is, "straight from the playbook of high-level Republican political operatives." As it turns out, the directive the DNC cites is actually a blog post from a man named Bob MacGuffie in Fairfield, Connecticut who ran a Facebook page with 23 members and had a Twitter account with 5 followers!
Anyone with a brain can recognize what is going on in this country. There is a growing backlash against a socialist revolution that average Americans didn't see coming and that they do not want. It is a mutiny against what columnist Peggy Noonan calls, "change they do not believe in." But the Democratic Party is choosing not to accept that reality. And though that may cause frustration on the part of their constituents wanting to express concerns, I am thrilled with the left's decision to belittle us.
Why? It was no accident when leftist comedian Bill Maher called the U.S. a "stupid country." It was no mistake when liberal reporter Andrea Mitchell said Americans "may not know what's good for them." It was no misstatement when President Obama said "only government" can solve our problems. Left-wing elites like these have always viewed the common man with contempt, but they have always been adept at masking that condescension in the name of compassion. This time however, their disgust with average citizens is being revealed.
So go ahead, liberal Democrats...mock us. Go on MSNBC and CNN and suggest we're all phonies. Continue ignoring what is boiling over and choose to believe that what you are seeing at your town hall meetings are just cardboard cutouts and non-voting, disengaged, mindless robots. Embrace your "willing suspension of disbelief." Nah, we're not real...but we are looking forward to election day.
Sunday, August 09 2009
The Democrat leadership is out of control. That's the only way to put it. Whether it's caused by panic, arrogance, shock, or a combination of those things, the utter contempt for normal American citizens that has been flowing from the lips of these liberal elitists has been downright disgusting. The bitterness was always just a matter of time given the left's fundamental misreading of the 2008 election results.
The truth was that the election of Barack Obama was much more about charisma and image than it ever was about ideology and philosophy. Suffering from Bush fatigue and without any viable alternative, a majority of Americans went to the polls mesmerized by the history-making figure that they saw in Obama...too caught up in the mantra of "hope and change" to pay any attention to those tiny details like what "change" might really mean.
But that reality was lost on the liberal "progressives," who riding the wave of Obamamania, ecstatically proclaimed the outcome to mean that Americans were finally embracing the policy goals of the far left. And so, beginning in January of this year, we have seen a steady onslaught of the freedom-destroying aims of liberal statism - an ideology that scorns the notion of individualism and personal liberty.
Every policy initiative they have introduced - whether taking over your healthcare, your credit card company, your bank, your retirement, your business, what light bulbs you use, how far you're allowed to drive - is tailored to fit their belief that they can run your life better than you can.
Thankfully, normal Americans have recoiled at this attempted revolution, and have pulled those dusty First Amendment freedoms off the shelf. In town halls and tea parties, formerly disengaged citizens have begun to remember what it means to "peaceably assemble" and use their "free speech" to "petition their government for a redress of grievances." And that has the liberals worked into a tizzy.
Now, undoubtedly the intense opposition to socializing American society that the left is facing from their constituents is an unwelcome surprise to them. But that doesn't excuse the strategy of "denigrate and destroy" being ordered from the highest levels of Obama, Inc. Far from being the great uniter who would - as he said in his inaugural address - "put an end to petty grievances," President Obama's deputy chief of staff urged Democrat Senators returning to face the American people, "if you get hit, we'll punch back twice as hard." No word yet on whether the Senators burst into a spontaneous chant of "yes, we can!"
If President Obama was truly concerned with "putting an end to the politics of the past" as he has told us numerous times, he would take this opportunity to do so. He would go on national television, withdraw all current healthcare proposals and say, "Let's take this slow, let's listen to the people, and let's get this right." Instead, he has allowed the AFL-CIO President to call for union thugs to intimidate any town hall dissidents, approved a DNC attack ad that calls concerned citizens "extremist mobs," and set up a White House website to accumulate names of those spreading "disinformation" about Obamacare. So much for the inauguration day pledge of choosing "unity of purpose over conflict and discord."
Not to be outdone, the always classy Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi demonstrated an even more direct approach by asserting that these evil protesters were carrying swastikas into meetings. What a bold new Democratic strategy for confronting concerned constituents: call them Nazis.
As it turns out, the swastika appeared on a homemade sign with a giant "NO" line going through it. Mrs. Pelosi, with all due respect, many of these folks who are protesting your crusade for socialism were among those who actually fought the Nazis a few years back, so how about a little respect? Furthermore, a bit of advice: when you lead a Democrat Party whose own platform frighteningly mirrors the Nazi Party Platform (rabid environmentalism, abortion and euthanasia rights, nationalized healthcare, government works projects, anti-profits, anti-big business, animal rights, etc.), it would probably be a wise move to limit any references to swastikas.
It's interesting...on the campaign trail, candidate Obama seemed to understand the significance of grass-roots activism. He said at a September campaign stop, "I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors...I want you to argue with them and get in their face...You are my ambassadors. You guys are the ones who can make the case."
We can assume that applied only to those who agree with him. To those who don't, the message is somewhat different: "try any of this at a town hall meeting on healthcare, and our union thugs will kick in your teeth." Ah, the politics of hope.
Sunday, August 02 2009
Despite all its flaws - and there are many - conservatives would be wise to recognize that the Republican Party remains the most effective vehicle to advance their values. That is not to say that conservatives should abandon more principled third party candidates in blind allegiance to the Republicans regardless of the positions they espouse. When the Democrats offer an anti-human rights socialist, and Republicans counter with a moderately anti-human rights quasi-socialist, conservatives should oppose both. But it would be the height of foolishness for conservatives to give up their attempts to saddle the Republican horse and ride it to power. And further, it would be the very definition of stupidity for the Republican Party to resist conservative leadership.
I was amused by a recent email exchange I had with a self-professing "moderate Republican" (meaning left-leaning, of course). It was his earnest opinion that conservatives had ruined the Republican brand over the last few decades and would lead the Party to its grave if more moderate voices didn't emerge. I acknowledged how right he was...how Reagan and Gingrich had been abject failures, but Ford, Bush, Dole, and McCain had certainly brought glory to the cause. I never heard back from him.
Remarkably, even as polls are showing that by a 2 to 1 margin Americans are identifying themselves conservative as opposed to liberal, even as the masses once enamored with Obamania are now rejecting his Marxist ideals and rebelling against his socialist designs, even as Tea Parties are sprouting up across the country full of formerly disengaged citizens who are now rallying to recover their dwindling freedoms, pundits and talking heads are bemoaning the death of the Republican Party brought on by conservatism.
Pollster John Zogby recently wrote an op-ed for Campaign and Election Politics magazine that declared the Republicans were on the verge of going extinct. "Let's face it, it could be teetering on the brink," Zogby professed, seemingly unaware of virtually every cultural indicator occurring around him. And what was his solution to their ills? Becoming like liberals, of course! Proclaiming that Republicans were "swimming against the tide of demography," Zogby suggested that Republicans needed to appeal to African-Americans, young people, and the creative class by going left.
Now, far be it from me to question the wisdom of a man who on Election Day 2004 predicted a John Kerry landslide. Insight and pinpoint accuracy like that demands we quiet ourselves and take heed. But here's a radical idea: instead of insulting these groups by assuming that they all think like liberals, why not appeal to them by explaining how conservative principles would best bring them happiness?
First, demonstrating to African-Americans that the Democrats have been the Party of slavery, segregation, and now socialism, would be a good start. The tactics have changed, but the left's objective has remained consistent: hold blacks down in a state of dependence, thereby perpetuating white liberal power. Meanwhile, Republicans - the same Party that opposed slavery, fought segregation, secured the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments - now believes in empowering African-Americans with the only resource they need to excel...freedom. No government program, no social welfare, no affirmative action. Just personal responsibility and a level playing field.
Secondly, young people are by their very nature more idealistic and as a result typically more liberal. Remember that quote attributed to Winston Churchill that "if you're not a liberal by age 20, you have no heart; if you're not a conservative by age 30, you have no brain." What drives their idealism is a yearning for liberation and autonomy, and a nearly unquenchable desire to change the world.
So rather than feed the misconception that conservatism is old, boring stuffiness, Republicans should point out that one of the major differences between right and left is the fierce support conservatives offer for personal liberty. It is liberalism that has brought seat belts, motorcycle helmets, bicycle helmets, smoking bans, gun purchase restrictions, mandatory vaccines, car emissions inspections, campaign contribution restrictions, prayer limitations, trash separation laws, gas tax, telephone tax, income tax, FICA withholding, and countless other infringements on personal freedom.
Conservatives believe that individuals should be bound by obedience to the principles of natural law, but then set free to pursue their own happiness. Tip to Republicans: that will sell with young people.
It will also sell with the "creative class." Is there anything more demoralizing to would-be entrepreneurs than the promise of being punished for your success? And yet, with their soak-the-rich, redistribution of wealth policies, that's exactly what the liberal Democrats advocate. Couple that with the energy tax, capital gains tax, luxury tax, and others supported by the left, and those seeking the freedom to create, innovate, and live the American Dream will find a conservative tent quite hospitable.
This is the direction the Republicans should go if they truly desire to reemerge as a majority party...despite the proposals of John Zogby who, as a self-described liberal, undoubtedly has the best interest of his political adversaries in mind.