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On the lighter side of life... 

#1445: Tommy, Riposa in Pace

requiescat in pace

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Trump & The Mob

http-//www.politico.com#13C5A6C

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"Give me your tired, your poor

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore

Send these, the homeless, tempest-toss'd to me

I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door."

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Hundreds of Oregon Corporations Escape the Minimum Tax

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Half of the US Is Broke

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The myth of the Christian country

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“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

FDR, 2nd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1937

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A Just Peace

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SIP contract online

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Middle East friendship chart

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Corporations enriching shareholders

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- Intel tax abatements

- INTEL, come clean!

- Leashing INTEL  

- Free to Be Hungry

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Facts not fiction on universal gun background checks

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"Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere"

Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The GOP - Not One of US.

Wall Street, our new criminal class...       

   Business in the USA is sitting on $2 trillion dollars refusing to invest their own funds in expanding and hiring workers.  

   When one adds to this the reserves that banks, equity firms and hedge funds have - the picture is clear - "capitalism in the USA is on strike." 

   The engine of our economy - the spirit of entrepreneurship is not in evidence today.  So much for business being dynamic and risk taking. 

   They hire K- Street lobbyists and their ilk at the state level because they are averse to risk taking - pleading for tax breaks, tax credits and endless loopholes. 

   The "business of business" in America today is not about job creation, it's about wealth hoarding and redistribution from the middle class to the top 1%. 

   So for those who claim government doesn't create jobs, my response is that business doesn't either until given "corporate welfare" by government.  The fact is that the private and public sector are highly integrated, something the anti-tax, anti-government Tea Party types don't understand. 

   Job creation requires public/private partnerships but the benefits of such collaboration should go to the 99% not just the 1%.  

 

RAD'S

WEBSITE PICKS: 


 

  • An Independent View

Oregon Outpost

  • A Middle East View      

Rami G. Khouri

  • RealClearPolitics:

Realclearpolitics

  • Jim Hightower:   

Jimhightower.com

  • Robert Reich:

Robert Reich

  • Thomas Friedman: 

Friedman Column

  • Nicholas Kristof: 

Kristof Column

Oregon's Motto: 

She flies with her own wings! 


Hard Times in Oregon: 

Hardtimes

The Oregon story - the rich get richer, the poor and middle class lose ground.  Check this front page Oregonian article out. 

Oregon wage gap widens

Homelessness in Oregon - a call to action

Chuck Currie The crisis of homelessness


  

      Oregon's coming 34th out of 41 states in the Obama "Race to the Top" illustrates the failure of leadership from Governor Kitzhaber and his predecessors as they have built an educational bridge to nowhere called high stakes testing.

   Instead of being in a race to the top we seem to be dumpster diving to the bottom despite doing education reform since 1991.  Insanity is termed doing the same thing over and over again.  When can we put a fork in this stupidity? 

   To confuse matters more the Oregonian's editorial board has pontificated that this was a lost opportunity to get federal funding for innovation.  How firing principals and teachers equals innovation is a mystery to me.   

   The way to reform schools is to reduce class sizes, to encourage teacher collaboration and to support their continued education.  High stakes testing and performance based assessment of teachers are NOT the answer!    

   If you want students to succeed you first have to resolve the issues they confront before they come to school.  Children who face poverty, hunger, homelessness, health care issues and family instability require wrap around services for them and their families, 24/7.   

   Every child needs a safe home of their own and parents who know how to be good parents.   

There is only one way to address this impending crisis.  Schools must have a stable source of funding. Until that happens - we will limp from crisis to crisis.   

 

 

    

    Why does the richest nation in the world have the moral blight of homeless people?

Invisible People

http://www.npr.org


 Homelessness

    Connecting the dots between homelessness & hunger in Oregon and Washington County: 

Homelessness:  

•    The faces of the homeless are families with children, single men and women, vets, and many who are impaired. It is estimated that in Washington County up to 56% of homelessness occurs to families.

Hunger:

•    Hunger is highest among single mother households (10%) and poor families (15%) as well as renters, unemployed workers and minority households. 

     In Washington County, Oregon's "economic engine," the divide between the affluent and the working poor continues.  We have a 19,000 unit gap in affordable low income rental housing.  County political and business leaders are indifferent to this crisis...   


A RAD rhetorical question - Were Madison & Marx "Marxists"?  

 

"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments."   

- James Madison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAD Lines

See my FACEBOOK @ Russ

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  • He lost by 2.9 million votes...

  • He's a con artist...

  • He's a pathological liar... 

  • He's a failed business man...

  • He's a fascist... 


Every Fascist Needs an Enabler. Donald Trump Will Have Mike Pence.


Trump's role models are Vladmir Putin and Benito Mussolini.  He has contempt for our checks and balances system.  He wants to "rule" not govern like a strong man, a despot.  He will shredd the Constitution anytime he feels the urge to do so and like all despots he only listens to his inner circle.  And he is paranoid and narcissistic. 

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SB 1533 passes!  

http://oregon.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=6&clip_id=10863

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Housing Needs in Oregon 

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"There are men who believe that democracy... is limited or measured by a kind of mystical and artificial fate [and that] tyranny and slavery have become the surging wave of the future..." 

FDR, 3rd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1941

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Mourning for a Judaism Being Murdered by Israel

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Taking on the Pro-Israel Lobby 

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Sign the petition ►

Walgreens - pay your fair share of taxes!


  • "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild


  • Miguel de Cervantes, from The Duke - "I accuse you of being an idealist, a bad poet and an honest man."  Cervantes' response - "Guilty as charged, I have never had the courage to believe in nothing."   from Man of La Mancha  


Intel failed to report fluoride emissions for almost 30 years   


Professor Kingfield, from the Paper Chase

   "I'm not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you." 

- George Bernard Shaw

 

BLOGS:

From the Left Wing:

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman - The New York Times

Democracy Now
democracynow.org

The Daily Kos

dailykos.com

Blue Oregon

blueoregon.com

 

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." 

- Emilie Buchwald 

 


    "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." 

- Justice John Paul Stevens, Bush v. Gore, 2001

    The state of our union - check out the map, it's a reality check for those who can't figure out why people are so ticked off... 

americanobserver

    Here's Garrison Keillor's rap on the rightwingnuts:   

GarrisonKeillor

 

     Garrison Keillor - "...The Founding Fathers intended the Senate to be a fount of wisdom... but when you consider...  moon-faced Mitch McConnell, your faith in democracy is challenged severely. Any legislative body in which 41 senators from rural states that together represent 10 percent of the population can filibuster you to death is going to be flat-footed, on the verge of paralysis, no matter what. Any time 10 percent of the people can stop 90 percent, it's like driving a bus with a brake pedal for each passenger. That's why Congress has a public approval rating of [11] percent...." 



"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war"

- John Adams

"Loyalty to country always.  Loyalty to government when it deserves it."  

- Mark Twain  

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  

- George Santayana 

"The love of one's country is a natural thing.  But why should love stop at the border?" 

- Pablo Casals

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." 

- William Butler Yeats  

 

"You see things; and you say, 'Why?' 

But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"  

- George Bernard Shaw, "Back to Methuselah" (1921) 

"...the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society...  The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government..."  

- James Madison, Federalist Papers #11 

"Why … should we have government? Why not each individual take to himself the whole fruit of his labor, without having any of it taxed away?”   

The legitimate object of government, is to do for the people whatever they need to have done, but which they can not do, at all, or can not do, so well, for themselves – in their separate and individual capacities … There are many such things … roads, bridges and the like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common schools … the criminal and civil [justice] departments."    

- Abraham Lincoln 

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society  

- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 

"Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates, but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole..." 

- Edmund Burke  

“It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever hath been done before may legally be done again, and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind.  These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions.”  

- Jonathan Swift 

" Every satirist who drew breath has flung pots of ink at this parade of tooting lummoxes and here it is come round again, marching down Main Street, rallying to the cause of William McKinley, hail, hail, the gang’s all here, ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay."  

- Garrison Keillor 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

  

 


  

 

Thursday
Dec132007

DOES MITT PASS THE TOLERANCE TEST?

    By Floyd McKay, "Romney's "symphony" should also embrace freedom from religion," December 12, 2007, Seattle Times   
    Mitt Romney gave a ringing endorsement Thursday to religious freedom, but his speech failed to satisfy in two respects, and neither is likely to go away soon.
    For evangelical Christians, his real audience, Romney didn't address — really he cannot address — theological issues separating Mormons from mainstream Christians. He's not a Mormon official.
    Candidates for public office cannot satisfy either those who want them to be missionaries for their faith or those who want them to renounce it. Fortunately, most Americans aren't that demanding.
    Republicans found religion to be good politics in 1980, but Ronald Reagan espoused a generic Christianity. George W. Bush went much further, surrounding himself with evangelicals and pursuing policies that played to a narrow ideological base. Bush pushed his religion in our face like a never-ending prayer breakfast.
    Candidates for the 2008 Republican nomination must deal with voters for whom some sort of religious declaration is required. Thus Romney, the third Mormon to make a serious run for president, became the first to feel obliged to speak about religion.
    His father, George Romney, was a serious candidate in 1968 — a popular governor and businessman — but I watched him flail and fall in the snows of New Hampshire, an uncertain candidate unable to connect with the voters. He dropped out before religion could become an issue.
    Morris Udall's Democratic candidacy was more durable — he finished second to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 primaries. Congressman Udall was a nonpracticing or secular Mormon, so he didn't face the questions.  
    I liked and respected both men, but felt no need to explore their faith.
    Why must we do so now, in 2007?
    Because conservative evangelicals, a big bloc in the Republican Party, are uneasy with Mormonism. It's not just theology — although there are big differences. Part of the problem is the competition for new worshippers.
    To outsiders, the Mormon church in most communities looks much like the new breed of nondenominational congregations that have been so successful: The emphasis is on "family values," practical challenges of daily life, tithing and regular church attendance. Lead ministers are invariably male; women accept secondary roles. There is a big emphasis on presentation, music and drama.
    American religion is big business, with competition for market share. The rise of the megachurch challenges the phenomenal increase in Mormon membership, already six million in the United States.
    Mormons and evangelicals compete for our rootless population, particularly in the West's new suburbs and exurbs, people desperate for community, a safe and accepting place for their families. Mormon Romney and Baptist Mike Huckabee represent that competition, and for Christian evangelicals it will be difficult to see around it.
    Even with scrupulous adherence to his pledges, a President Romney would elevate his faith to a new level of prominence and acceptability.
    For those of us not caught up in this dispute, Romney's talk disappointed for a different reason.
    Romney vowed to protect freedom for religion from attack by a "religion of secularism." Yet, any objective observer of America in 2007 would find that religion is the least endangered of our basic freedoms. We are perhaps the most religious country in the non-Muslim world. Let a thousand sects compete!
    Historically, religious intolerance in this country often begins with believers of competing faiths, not with secularists.
    Romney is just plain wrong when he says freedom requires religion and religion requires freedom. In fact, religion has often been the enemy of freedom; think Taliban, think Spanish Inquisition. Several of America's Founding Fathers were devotedly secular; most wanted a wall between church and state.
    The Constitution also protects people from religion, from the use of public funds and facilities to promote one brand among our dozens of religious sects. No American religion suffered as much discrimination as Mormons in the 19th century. But the modern church's overwhelming power in Mormon-majority communities in the West has always brought concerns about equal opportunities for nonbelievers.
    Most Americans want someone of faith to lead this nation, and inquiries into the beliefs of candidates are now accepted practice. But many also still feel that the actual practice of faith should be a private affair, not trumpeted from the public podium to fuel the enthusiasm and win the votes of the already saved. Romney was preaching to that choir Thursday.
    He also pledged to honor "a symphony of faith," rejecting the emphasis on a single ideology that has become familiar in recent years.
    That sort of symphony needs to embrace both freedom for religion and freedom from religion, and it is unclear how dedicated Romney is to that principle.
    Floyd J. McKay, a journalism professor emeritus at Western Washington University, is a regular contributor to Times editorial pages.

    RAD:  A'men!   


Tuesday
Dec112007

CREATING AN EVEN PLAYING FIELD

    By Jim Hightower, "Why not health care for all?"  - December 7, 2007
    Sergio Olaya is a 21-year-old college student who has had to drop out of school because of our country’s messed up health insurance system.
    Actually, Olaya has health coverage, for he’s a federal employee. But, his mother wasn’t covered when she was suddenly hit with an aggressive cancer this year. She died, and her son is now grappling with $255,000 in medical bills for her treatment. The hospital has sicced [or "sicked"?] its collection agency on him – so, to pay the bills, he had to quit college and is now selling the house where he and his mother lived.
    Ironically, Mr. Olaya’s job is in the U.S. Senate. He runs an elevator on which our honorable solons ride everyday. Senators share a ride with him, but they share none of the health-care anxieties and financial burdens that millions of Americans like Olaya carry. Members of Congress, you see, are fully covered by us taxpayers.
    Well, gosh, if it’s good enough for them, I’m sure it would be good enough for the rest of us. We don’t want any special coverage – we’ll be happy with what Congress gives itself.
    Not all Senators are boneheads about this, and they’re pushing bills to provide such universal coverage. Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio deserves special praise, for he is refusing to accept the Congressional coverage for himself, saying he won’t take it until every American is covered.
    Then there’s presidential contender John Edwards, who has put a strong, universal health care plan at the center of his campaign. If elected, he intends not only to push his plan in Congress, but to couple it with a bill that would strip lawmakers of their own coverage if they fail to cover everyone else.
    Edwards’ proposal for universal coverage also includes a single-payer alternative to compete with profiteering insurance corporations. See it all at www.johnedwards.com/.
    RAD:  Here's another story of a "predatory" hospitals in action, part of the iron triangle of the health care industrial complex (big pharma, big insurance, big hospitals).  Yes, we should all have the same health care insurance plan that members of Congress get.  After all who pays for it?  And guess what - they keep this coverage "for" life along with their federal pensions - long after their careers have been terminated.     

Monday
Dec102007

BELABORING THE OBVIOUS

    By CFM Insider Online, December 5, 2007, "Revenue Restructuring Panel Revs Up"
    CFM:  The task force charged with revising Oregon's tax structure discovered at its first meeting last week that its challenge is very broad and its options very slim. A prominent political pollster told the task force public mistrust with government is high and that a sales tax in Oregon is probably dead.
    Task force members, who already are assigned to look at both state and local tax structures, were urged to widen the review to include transportation funding sources and user fees, which have risen sharply as a way to compensate for lost tax revenues.
    Data presented to the task force shows Oregon ranks in the middle of the pack among states in total tax burden, but has the highest reliance of any state on a single tax source - the personal income tax. After passage of Measure 5 in 1990, Oregon plummeted from a high-ranking property tax state to about average, but as a consequence has become one of the higher ranked states in terms of user fees.
    The task force is required to make its report to the 2009 legislature, but Governor Kulongoski counseled that the process may take longer to reach a conclusion. Saying all options are on the table, Kulongoski told the task force, "It will take some time to bring the public along with us."
    Pollster Adam Davis sketched a scenario that explains why. He said there is no public consensus on what is wrong with the current tax system, nor on how to make it better. That lack of consensus is aggravated, Davis added, by high negativity toward government and low public awareness of how government works and what it does to benefit average Oregonians.
    Davis' advice to the task force was to focus an equal amount of time on government spending policies and not focus exclusively on taxation. "There is increasing personal economic anxiety," the Portland-based pollster said. "There is more job uncertainty. Health care and energy costs are rising. People fear [their] retirement is no longer secure. Families are tightening their belt and they want government to tighten theirs, too."
    RAD:  Basing policy making on what a pollster detects as public opinion at a particular point in time is an indicator of what's wrong with government and politicians.  First of all, the voters are woefully ignorant of how government works and what their taxes support.  So any poll like this is measuring the "ignorance factor" not a rational considered judgment based on the facts.  When voters are given information on government spending they often find themselves in a double bind wanting to keep or even expand services they favor while at the same time not wanting to raise their own tax liability.  So much for the so-called "public."
    Elected leaders should lead, not to simply follow the ups and downs of public opinion.  To paraphrase Edmund Burke, our representatives in the legislature or Congress should not reduce their role to pandering to the public or special interests.  Instead they should be trustees or agents of the public good, not simply become "bidders at an auction of popularity" by caving in to a mercurial public.  They are elected to use their common sense, expertise and conscience not to simply be delegates of the most passionate or the handmaidens of the well healed.
    CFM:  Kulongoski said a primary objective of tax restructuring should be to make government revenues more stable. Yearning for revenue stability often leads to talk about a sales tax, which is less volatile than Oregon's personal income tax.
    Davis offered little encouragement on that front. "The sales tax is dead," he said, "unless you replace an existing tax."
    While everything may be on the table, realistic expectations may center on recommendations to address three significant structural tax challenges:
    •     Local governments have seen their revenues squeezed because of Measure 5, which imposed a property tax rate cap, and Measure 50 adopted in 1997, which constrains assessed values for the property tax. In the roughly 10 years since Measure 50's passage, the gap between real market value and assessed value has grown to more than $150 billion, denying local governments as much as $200 million in additional property tax revenues annually. One answer would be to raise the $15 per $1,000 of assessed valuation rate cap. Another answer would be to enable assessed valuations to come closer to real market values.
    •     Graphs visually show that in good times Oregon's personal income tax system produces robust revenue, but dips also can be severe during economic hard times, which results in fiscal challenges because Oregon is heavily dependent on this one tax. Adding to that volatility is Oregon's treatment of capital gains as ordinary income. Capital gains now equals about 9 percent of total personal income tax receipts, but it has gone higher than 12 percent. One option is to find more ways to build up the new state rainy day fund to cope with swings in state tax revenue caused by economic conditions.
    •     In recent legislative sessions, corporations have moved to paying income tax in Oregon based on their sales in the state, which benefits in-state manufacturers who sell most of their products elsewhere. Statistics indicate that a relatively few corporations pay half of the corporate income tax. Meanwhile, a large number of corporations pay the minimum tax, which is just $10. A fairly obvious answer is to raise the corporate minimum tax, though some may push for a new corporate tax structure based on gross receipts or value-added.
    RAD:   It doesn't take a genius or pollster to prove that Measure 5 and 50 have been a fiscal disaster to Oregon, but it's nice to have it noted in black and white.  Yes, we should relieve local governments from the constrictions of these measures as recommended above.  But why not go all the way and take these measures out of Oregon's constitution?  Why must we live with the mischief of Don McIntrye and/or Bill Sizemore.  We should put a stake in the heart of these clowns and their enabler - Grover Norquist who wants to shrink government to a size where it can be drowned in the bath tub. 
    Yes corporate Oregon's tax rates should be raised to pay their fair share.  It's obscene that corporations pay no taxes or only the $10 dollar minimum tax while working Oregonians get hit hard by our regressive indexed income tax.  We need to pass a progressive personal and corporate income tax.  We also need to make the corporate kicker history, not merely suspend it.  We also need to get rid of the personal kicker.  Ending the individual kicker will bring more than $1 billion into state coffers alone! 
    CFM:  The task force undoubtedly will devote attention to fiscal issues. The eight lawmakers who sit on the task force are keenly aware of the impact of Measure 5, which forced the state General Fund to pay for 70 percent of public school funding instead of its historic 30 percent contribution. K-12 appropriations now approximate 50 percent of all state General Fund spending.
    Lawmakers also point out the fiscal effect of voter-approved initiative, such as Measure 11 that required mandatory minimum jail terms, creating a demand for more prison beds and pushing up the cost of corrections.
    The task force, which has 17 voting members, 13 non-voting members and an 8-member advisory council, holds its second meeting later this month and is expected to discuss and approve a work plan, as well as divide into work groups
    RAD:  Task forces like this one are smoke and mirrors.  They provide cover for a governor who doesn't want to pull the trigger despite the fact he will never face another election!  Why is the governor unwilling to do what he knows needs to be done?  Two possible answers come to mind - he's a politically gutless Democrat who feels our pain but is not willing to do the right thing OR he's the pawn of corporate Oregon and those lobbyists in Salem who represent moneyed interests.  My guess is that it's both.  After all he's a "Goldschmidt" Demo, i.e. too cozy with the corporate types. 
    If you really expect this "task force" to do anything - you've not been paying attention over the last 6 years of the Kulongoski "duck and cover" era.  When the rubber hits the road - Ted is nowhere in sight...  Ted is a nice affable guy, but he'd rather do the politically "safe" thing rather than risk political capital to do the "right" thing. 

Saturday
Dec082007

TRUST ME

    In this week’s edition of the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers asked Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Melissa Rogers about Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s high-profile speech regarding religion and politics. In the program they reprised portions of the famous JFK speech in the 1960 campaign before the Southern Baptist convention in Houston, Texas that year.
    The Kennedy and Romney approaches are quite different in tone and substance. Kennedy emphasized the separation of church and state arguing that his Catholicism would have no relevance to his decisions as president. Romney (a Mormon) by contrast suggests as does Mike Huckabee that as a "Christian leader" their religious values will shape how they govern or look at major issues like abortion or gay rights.  
    Romney claims that in "recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning.  They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God.  Religion in seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life.  It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America, the religion of secularism.  They are wrong." 
    Huckebee, who was formerly a Baptist minister, takes another approach in a campaign commercial being aired in Iowa suggesting that he doesn't have to question where he stands he knows presumably because of his Christian faith. In this sense Huckabee is referencing his religiosity much like President Bush did in the 2000 and 2004 campaigns. And like Bush, even more so to RAD, Huckabee comes off as being very authentic - much more so than Romney.
    Now the question which Moyers et al did not address is what should the role of religion be in a presidential campaign? The problem is that such discussions often fail to make a clear distinction between the Founders' belief in the absolute separation of church and state, one of the hallmarks of American government and politics. The Founders forbade the establishment of a state religion, but they did not prohibit freedom "of" religious expression from the pulpit or in the public square.
    This is a crucial distinction. Had they not made such a decision it's quite likely that the 13 colonies would have split up into warring factions based on the dominant religious preferences in each colony and the United States would have never been able to form "a more perfect union" as a constitutional republic. But the establishment clause has nothing to do with freedom of speech, including religious speech within a church, synagogue or mosque or in the public square.
    The critical question each voter must ask of all the candidates is what is the foundation of your ethics or moral belief system?  For George Bush, Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee the answer is fairly straight forward - their claims of a belief in God and the divinity of Jesus Christ are their moral center.  For Rudy Giuliany (a Catholic), Fred Thompson (a Baptist) and Hillary Clinton (a Methodist) the issue is more complex since the correlation of their private and public lives is more opaque. 
    For Barack Obama, a member of the United Church of Christ, the question of religiosity as a ground of one's ethical core is less conflicted or so it appears to this commentator perhaps because we share the same faith journey.  How religious preferences inform the world view of John McCain (an Episcopalian) Joe Biden (a Catholic), Chris Dodd (a Catholic), John Edwards (a Methodist) Bill Richardson (a Catholic) and Dennis Kucinich (a Catholic) are less clear. 
    The issue is NOT the question of the separation of church and state. Any candidate in the field who does not understand this is NOT qualified to be president and those who claim to be running as "Christian" leaders come very close to disqualifying themselves as candidates.  Huckabee and Romney come close to this perilous line.  While their stance will not bite them within the GOP battle for the nomination, it will if either becomes the GOP nominee.
    Romney's inclination to bring "God" into the public square begs the question - "whose God" is he referencing?  Is he talking of a Christian, Jewish or Islamic God?  And where do the "Godless" citizenry fit into Romney's vision as a would-be president?  To ground one's decisions on one's private generic or particular religious faith is one thing, but to invoke the word "God" in issues of governance is to violate the separation of church and state. 
    When one takes the oath of office (forget about the symbolism of placing a hand on the Bible) - a would-be president is declaring to be the president of ALL the people with or without a religious faith belief system.  As the GOP has morphed into "the" party of fundamentalist or evangelical Christians its platform and candidate rhetoric raises all kinds of red flags on this issue.  How can a "Christian" leader be a president of ALL the people? 
    However, if the question is what is the core of a candidate's moral beliefs - one's personal faith is a legitimate political issue because it may inform his or her decisions as president and the public deserves to know that up front what that system of belief is.  For those on the political "left" this is often a dicey issue either because Dems come from a broader sweep of the population in terms of faith or lack thereof than GOP candidates.
    But just because Democratic candidates often choke on this subject does not make it irrelevant. For example, Bill Clinton and Al Gore invoked their own Baptist roots on the campaign trail. So this is not a simple GOP or Dem dividing line. Now whether President Clinton in particular deported himself consistently as a Christian is in considerable doubt to say the least.  But his Baptist roots clearly had traction throughout his presidency. 
    And if we go deeper into the intertwining of religion and politics in American history the evidence of cross fertilization is clear. The Abolitionist movement was rooted in both a religious and secular based aversion to slavery which was also reflected in the modern Civil Rights movement and within even the Black Power movement - where traditional African-American roots in the Christian tradition were challenged by the Nation of Islam.
    For candidates of other faiths or who profess to be agnostics or atheists the challenge is similar - what provides you a moral core upon which to make tough political decisions? Those of the Jewish faith would have no problem answering this question; neither would Muslims, Buddhists nor Hindus. As far as RAD knows all religions of the world have some basic principle which mirrors the Ten Commandments.
    For the secular humanists among us who would be president - whether or not they might be agnostic or atheist - what philosophical well do you go to in keeping your moral-ethical compass alive and well?  That is not an unfair question. Do you reach out to an Eric Fromm, a Martin Buber, a Paul Tillich or a Ludwig Feuerbach (RAD's own choices when so inclined).
    My own faith journey as a youth involved being baptised by his Baptist maternal grandfather (before my age of consent, 1942), being raised in a Congregational Church in Seattle (1948-50), then attending Stanford's non-denominational campus Cathedral church in Palo Alto for a year (1951) and then a Presbyterian Church in Roseburg, Oregon (1952-60).
    In college at Whitman and the University of Minnesota (1960-69) RAD wavered between agnosticism, atheism and Unitarianism having been dismayed in my early life in the "church" by the moral and religious hypocrisy among the adults and my peers.  It wasn't a belief in God or Jesus that I found wanting among the "faithful" but their inability to walk the talk of the Sermon on the Mount.  
    Nevertheless my own moral compass focused on a personal morality and a passion for social and economic justice.  So religion rubbed off on me despite my leaving the "churched" community. Growing up as a hyphenated American who identified subliminally with his Italian roots more than the German side of the family tree added "honor" and "loyalty" as moral/ethical benchmarks.
    As the Civil Rights movement matured and the Vietnam Peace Movement came on - connecting with Martin Luther King Jr. and/or A.J. Muste made sense to me in the mid 1960s as a I struggled with my own political identity. One didn't have to be a person of "faith" per se to oppose racism or an imperialist war.  But Martin Luther King's transition from Civil Rights to anti-war leader and the role of the Clergy & Laity Against the War helped me understand that people of faith, along with we "secularists" could do the right thing!
    Being married in an Episcopal Church and then being a parent would re-connect me with a "church" experience from the mid 1970s on.  Today I fluctuate from "active" to "lapsed" church attendee.  But my secular and faith based moral compass is clear as I lobby for affordable housing as a member of the Washington County Interfaith Committee on Homelessness. 
    The point is that whatever the great issues of the day might be - making up one's mind on whether to go to war against Iraq or to declare Iran a "rogue" nation should not be simply a question of "political triangulation" or a knee jerk response to a simplistic faith that asserts the immanence of the "end of time" - Armageddon.  Such decisions should be based on sophisticated and carefully crafted thinking processes, not knee jerk litmus test inclinations! 
    In that sense, one's personal moral code in whatever form - faith-based and/or secular - is important and the more we know about the moral calculus used by candidates - the better. But to appropriate the term "God" for partisan purposes crosses the line.  Otherwise campaigns will default into vacuous rhetoric where candidates use coded "God talk" as a thinly veiled appeal to voters to just "trust me."  

 

Tuesday
Dec042007

NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE REPORT

BUSH WAS DANGEROUS

BUSH IS DANGEROUS

BUSH WILL BE DANGEROUS

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IMPEACH THE LIAR-IN-CHIEF