Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Are the "Respectable" Evangelical "End Times" Nuts Writing the Handbook For Terror?

That's the question to ask as you think about the insanity of evangelical theology re the "End" and watch these two Rachel Maddow reports.

Watch This


Watch This

Monday, March 29, 2010

Religious Far-Right: "Christian" Militia Suspected Police-Killing Plot

By Frank Schaeffer

(My latest from Huffington Post)

Happy Easter from your local, friendly, right wing, "deather," "birther," Sarah Palin-loving "Real Americans" waiting for the return of Jesus. To prevent socialism, communism and Obama the Anti-Christ from "taking away all our freedoms," lucky for us the far right gun owners and other assorted "freedom lovers" are standing tall.

As a former religious right instigator I feel ashamed that I did my bit to contribute to this news story albeit in the 1970s when I helped start the Protestant anti-abortion movement that in years since morphed into a war on America from the right.

According to AP Sources:

WASHINGTON -- People familiar with the case against seven suspects arrested by the FBI this weekend say the case revolves around a plot to kill police officers.

Two law enforcement officials tell The Associated Press that members of the group in the Midwest had planned multiple attacks on police officers or other law enforcement personnel as a way of acting out their hatred for the government.

The officials said the raids and arrests stopped the plot before such attacks could be carried out. The officials are speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

The plot allegedly was hatched by members of a Christian militia group called Hutaree. The charges are expected to be unsealed when some of the suspects appear in court later Monday.
(By DEVLIN BARRETT (AP) March 29, 2010 The Associated Press)

Here is what's on the Hutaree Militia homepage:

As Christians we all are a part of the Souls of the Body of Christ, the one true church of Christ... This is the belief of the Hutaree soldier, as should the belief of all followers in Christ be.

We believe that one day, as prophecy says, there will be an Anti-Christ. All Christians must know this and prepare, just as Christ commanded. Luke 22:35-37...This clearly states the reason for the training and preparation of the Hutaree.

Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment. The only thing on earth to save the testimony and those who follow it, are the members of the testimony, til the return of Christ in the clouds...

The Hutaree will one day see its enemy and meet him on the battlefield if so God wills it. We will reach out to those who are yet blind in the last days of the kingdoms of men and bring them to life in Christ. Daniel 11:32-35, "Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. 33, "And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. 34, "Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join them by intrigue. 35 "And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time."

You can find the news we find in some of the places we have in the information sources section. Also you can get gear from some of the choice places we have on gear links...

Go to the "gear" linked to their page and you'll find the evangelical fish symbol on a catalog for military weapons. Go to "other links" and you'll find mainstream right wing evangelical organizations and other far right groups including:

Worthy Christian News

WorldNetDaily - A Free Press for a Free People

Jack Van Impe Ministries

Real Truth Magazine

Times of Noah - Current Events and Bible Prophecy

Christian Apologetic Web Site; Countercult; Evangelism

Also... a whole lot of links to news about the Middle East and Europe where crazy evangelicals think that "Armageddon" will originate and or the Anti-Christ.

People who have been reading my book Crazy For God will know that I think the media and politicians play down just how dangerous the religious right has become. And figures like Sarah Palin tied to right wing extremists are rarely asked to justify their ties.

So where are the Christian leaders tonight? Are they doing anything to rein in their extremists?

No. They can be found where they always are: bashing gays, trying to take away choice from women, telling everyone else how to live a moral life, trying to "repeal" health care reform, but never standing up to their own domestic terrorists.

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and the author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Right Wing Nuts Who Lie Watch And Then Shut Up

I dare the hate-filled right wing scum who lie about our President to watch this and then keep calling President Obama "Not a real American." http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8592043.stm

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Will Republican Failure Now Turn (Even More) Violent?

By Frank Schaeffer

With the Senate having now passed the final reconciliation changes to the health care reform bill, the Republicans from their "Tea Party" wing to their high priest of hallucinatory fantasy; Glenn Beck, are about to pay a historic price for the biggest miscalculation in American political history since Charles Lindberg sided with the Germans. The pundits all have it wrong. Obama's victory on health care reform will result in the Democratic Party retaining the majority in both houses of Congress as well as Obama winning a second term.

Disclosure: As a former Republican and Religious Right leader who quit the movement in the mid 80s (for reasons I explain in my book Crazy For God) let me tell my progressive friends and all reality-based people why and how the Republican Party just consigned themselves to defeat by (amongst other things) opposing health care reform.

Why would the Republicans go down in flames siding with the insurance industry against the American people?

Because they (like all political-religiously-inspired fanatics) are in the grip of their own propaganda.

They have committed the ultimate act of political folly: they believe their own BS.

The Republicans have drunk deep at the well of their version of bad back woods moonshine. And their tainted moonshine of misinformation has blinded them. But when the facts are in the Republicans will pay a price. That's because most Americans are not watching Fox News and still live on planet Earth with their eyes open.

So this - contrary to the pundits -- is going to be a great year for Democrats.

Right Wing America lives in an isolation bubble. And now -- like the American "patriotic" pro-fascists of the 1930s and 40s -- they will pay the price for swilling willful disinformation and believing it.

Consider the fate of the reputation of Charles Lindbergh (the fly-the-Atlantic-solo hero). When Germany invaded Poland (in 1939) Lindbergh became the German's most prominent public American spokesman. Speaking to crowds in New York City, Chicago and all over America, he was popular with the equivalent of his generation's "Tea Party Movement" then called the "America Firsters." Like the Tea Party these folks did not trust their government and thought that they alone had the "facts" about what was "really going on," in their case over in Germany and what to do about the rise to power of the fascists in Europe.

The "Firsters" or the America First Committee, was against the American entry into World War II. They had about 850,000 members. After the attack upon Pearl Harbor in 1941 their movement collapsed because everything they had claimed about Germany and Japan (that they were no threat to America) proved to be a lie.

That day's xenophobic and utterly ignorant Firster "patriots" lapped up the Lindbergh moonshine alternative reality. They also (like the Tea Party today) accused their President (Roosevelt) of "communism" because he opposed far right Germany. They too had their hate fed by the likes of Rush Limbaugh; in their day radio personality and fascist sympathizer Father Charles Coughlin...

Fast forward to last Sunday's Tea Party rally in Columbus, Ohio when a man with Parkinson's disease was bullied by the Tea Party protesters who shouted: "If you're looking for a handout, you're in the wrong end of town!" and to Washington (Saturday) where Tea Party "patriots" spit on a black congressman and taunted Barney Frank because he's gay. Fast forward to right wing anti-Obama forces smashing the windows on Democratic Party regional HQs in 5 states.

Congressional Democrats report threats linked to the passage of health care reform legislation this week. Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer said that he and Republican congressional leaders have discussed implementing new security precautions for lawmakers after an increase in threats following Sunday's health care reform vote and accompanying anti-reform protests outside the Capitol over the weekend.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating cut fuel lines at the Virginia home of Democratic Representative Tom Perriello's brother, whose address was posted online by a right-wing blogger who said it was the lawmaker's address.

The anti-health care reform window-smashing intimidation specialists are the same sorts of folks who on the fringe of the "pro-life" movement have been waving signs wherein Obama's name is plastered on the picture of a dead fetus' and the word "murderer" is scrawled in bloody letters over our President's picture adorned with a Hitler mustache. These people are represented by the likes of the congressman who yelled "Baby Killer!" on the floor of Congress and other Republican "leaders" who told America that health care reform meant unplugging grandma.

The leaderless Republican Party -- or should I say the dwindling rabble of reactionaries who still identify themselves as Republicans -- is not just politically leaderless, they're also morally leaderless.

This, speaking metaphorically, is a lynch mob in the making. And they have just lost a big fight in our congress. What will they do next?

Why do the Republican leadership allow this mob to rule? Because they now have no choice.

The Republican leadership have literally gotten into bed with hate. And like all such bargains with the devil it was easier to begin their relationship with rube America than to end it.

Like Lindberg who lived out the rest of his life in ignominy -- once we went to war with Japan and Germany -- the Republicans will find little room to maneuver as the reality of the good that the health care reform bill will do sinks in with ordinary Americans. And if one of the Tea Party-type loons flies another plane into some federal building again - as recently happened in Texas to the IRS - and there is a huge tragedy, the Republican/Tea Party game will be over.

Either way: be it the next right wing act of domestic terror or the realization by the American public that the Republicans are just plain wrong on the facts; the Republicans are on their way down.

They have made a historic miscalculation on health care reform. They have embraced a group of potentially violent and always embarrassing fellow travelers. The American people may have been confused about the facts but they soon won't be. And most Americans are not hate-filled people who applaud other Americans spitting on congressmen or throwing bricks through office windows-- or worse to come.

Count on the Democratic Party doing well in November and beyond.

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Crazy For God How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Obama's Health Care Victory Puts His Critics to Shame

Re: Health Care Reform;

President Obama: 1

Critics: 0

Oct 8 of 2008 I predicted -- right here on Huffington Post -- that Obama would have a great presidency. Not only do I stand by my remarks made then but reiterate them now in the light of today's historic health care bill's passage. I also hereby call out the Democratic Party doubters (from the left) of our president who have been so ready to dismiss him. Who is looking smart today?

Presidents are made great by horrible circumstances combined with character, temperament and intelligence. Like firemen, cops, doctors or soldiers, presidents need a crisis to shine.

Obama is one of the most intelligent presidents to ever step forward in American history. The likes of his intellectual capabilities have not been surpassed in public life since the Founding Fathers put pen to paper. His personal character is also solid gold. Take heart, America: we have the leader for our times. He's just outworked and outsmarted the far right and the far left. The Tea party troglodytes are reduced to yelling racial epithets from the sidelines. The Lefty critics have egg on their faces.

I say this as a white, former Republican active on the Religious Right before I got disgusted with right wing hate and changed my mind in the mid-80s. (Something I write about in my memoir Crazy For God I say this as just another American watching his health care costs go stratospheric.

I say this as someone happy to have been called a fool for going out on a limb and declaring early in the primaries that, 1) Obama would win the nomination and then the election, and 2) that he was going to be amongst the greatest of American presidents.

You doubters beware. In November the Democrats will do much better than expected right now. You were wrong on health care. You are wrong about problems in November too. And while we're at it: Obama is not in the "pocket of Wall Street." He is not "betraying working America." What you saw today you'll see next in financial reform of banking laws. And you'll also see the economy turn around.

Obama puts service ahead of ideology. He also knows that to win politically you need to be tough. He can be. He just has been. Ask the Republicans today!

This is a man who does what works, rather than scoring ideological points. In other words, he is the quintessential non-ideological pragmatic American. He will (thank God!) disappoint ideologues and purists of the left and the right. He's already made them angry. And because he did that he just won a huge victory.

Obama has a reservoir of personal, physical courage that is unmatched in presidential history. Why unmatched? Take a look at the signs the Tea Party people carry. Take a look at the weapons they carry. As the first black president, Obama is in great physical danger from the seemingly unlimited reserve of unhinged racial hatred, and just plain unhinged ignorant hatred, that swirls in the bowels of our country. By stepping forward to lead, Obama has literally put his life on the line for all of us in a way no white president ever has had to do. His health care reform victory just made his life more dangerous. What personal risk have his critics taken? What courage was required to snipe from the sidelines?

Obama is the sober voice of reason at a time of unreason. He is the fellow keeping his head while all around him are panicking. Both the Left and Right not only blinked but ducked. Obama stood tall.

Obama brings a healing and uplifting spiritual quality to our politics at the very time when our worst enemy is fear. For eight years we were ruled by a stunted fear-filled mediocrity -- Bush -- who expanded his power on the basis of creating fear in others. Fearless Obama is the cure. He speaks a litany of hope rather than a litany of terror. Bush legalized torture. Obama just legalized health care for all. Which line would you rather stand in?

America is fighting its "Armageddon" in one fearful heart at a time. From the nutty Right we were told that Obama wanted to kill old people. From the nutty Left we were told Obama had "sold out to big pharma." What nonsense! A brilliant leader with the mild manner of an old-time matter-of-fact country doctor soothing a frightened child is just what we need.

The fact that our "doctor" is a black man leading a hitherto white-ruled nation out of the mess of its own making is all the sweeter and raises the Obama story to that of moral allegory. Literally we have a president that is now a healer of millions hitherto uninsured.

Obama brings a moral clarity to his leadership reserved for those who have had to work for everything they've gotten and had to do twice as well as the person standing next to them because of the color of their skin. His experience of succeeding in spite of his color, social background and prejudice could have been embittering or one that fostered a spiritual rebirth of forgiveness and enlightenment. Obama radiates the calm inner peace of the spirit of forgiveness. Doubters from the left and right just look cranky by comparison.

A hundred years from now Obama's portrait will be placed next to that of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. Long before that we'll be telling our children and grandchildren that we stepped out in faith and voted for a young black man who stood up and led our country back from the brink of an abyss.

We'll tell them about the power of love, faith and hope. We'll tell them about the power of creativity combined with humility and intellectual brilliance.

We'll tell them that President Obama gave us the gift of regaining our faith in our country. We'll tell them that we all stood up and pitched in and won the day. We'll tell them that President Obama restored our standing in the world.

We'll tell them that by the time he left office health care was reformed! We'll tell them that our schools were on the mend, our economy booming, that we'd become a nation filled with green energy alternatives and were leading the world away from dependence on carbon-based destruction.

Remember our slogan as we fought for our candidate: "YES WE CAN"?

We just did!

Thank you Mr. President!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Bishops Gross Hypocrisy

By Frank Schaeffer

If it was up to the American Roman Catholic bishops there would be no health care reform. Abortion is the problem. But the real issue is the bishops gross hypocrisy.

Bishops who live in glass houses should not throw stones. While they worry about everyone's sins but their own, the Pope shows up as a protector of child molesters, According to the New York Times:

The German archdiocese led by the future Pope Benedict XVI ignored repeated warnings in the early 1980s by a psychiatrist treating a priest accused of sexually abusing boys that he should not be allowed to work with children, the psychiatrist said Thursday.

Despite the psychiatrist's warnings, Father Hullermann was allowed to return to parish work almost immediately after his therapy began, interacting with children as well as adults. Less than five years later, he was accused of molesting other boys, and in 1986 he was convicted of sexual abuse in Bavaria.

Benedict's deputy at the time, Vicar General Gerhard Gruber, said he was to blame for that personnel decision, referring to what he called "serious mistakes."

Even after his conviction in 1986, Father Hullermann, now 62, continued working with altar boys for many years. He was suspended Monday for ignoring a 2008 church order not to work with youths.

And while we're at it what about the Catholic/evangelical conspiracy to derail stem cell research?

Like many so-called mainstream American Religious Right leaders (including evangelicals and the Roman Catholic bishops) are still working around the clock even today to impose their theocratic "values" on American society.

From infiltrating and then taking over textbook editing committees (for instance in Texas) and forcing the teaching of "intelligent design" and even "creationism;"...

... to laboring to infiltrate the United States Military with hard-edged fundamentalist chaplains and officers (check out the Air Force Academy's recent history) in order to proselytize the troops and also to use the military as a base from which to evangelize the Islamic world;...

... to working to rescind reproductive rights laws (the entire pro-life movement); to imposing laws discriminating against gays and banning gay marriage (Proposition 8 in California and similar "successful" initiatives in many states often led by bid time evangelical leaders including Rick Warren);...

...to rewriting history to "prove" America was founded as a "Christian nation" (any and all evangelical school texts) to stopping scientific research on many fronts from evolutionary biology to medical research into stem cell's therapeutic uses... the Religious Right is relentless.

In addition to which the theocratic contagion is spreading from America to the rest of the world, as the effort in Uganda to impose the death penalty on gays for being gay, illustrated in 2009.

The war on pluralistic American democracy continues as I show in my books Crazy For God and Patience With God.

And this war isn't only led by those on the fringe of society. Echoing the far right Reconstructionist-inspired reaction to the election of Obama, a group of mainstream and "respectable" conservative Christian leaders signed a deceleration against stem cell research, gay marriage and reproductive rights called the Manhattan Declaration.

It urged civil disobedience against the United States Government, unless the government bowed to the signatory's "Christian values." It demanded a return to "fundamental truths" and outlined those truths as the "sanctity of human life, the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and the rights of conscience and religious liberty..." along with a demand for the ban of embryonic stem cell research.

The declaration was the brainchild of a far right Reconstructionist extremist, Roman Catholic scholar, Robert P. George. George is a Princeton University professor of jurisprudence and probably the most influential Reconstructionist thinker to try to derail our democracy.

As David Kirkpatrick wrote in the New York Times,
"[Robert P. George] has parlayed a 13th-century Catholic philosophy into real political influence. Glenn Beck, the Fox News talker and a big George fan, likes to introduce him as 'one of the biggest brains in America,' or, on one broadcast, 'Superman of the Earth.' Karl Rove told me he considers George a rising star on the right and a leading voice in persuading President George W. Bush to restrict embryonic stem-cell research. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told me he numbers George among the most-talked-about thinkers in conservative legal circles. And Newt Gingrich called him 'an important and growing influence' on the conservative movement, especially on matters like abortion and marriage. 'If there really is a vast right-wing conspiracy,' the conservative Catholic journal Crisis concluded a few years ago, 'its leaders probably meet in George's kitchen.' ("The Conservative-Christian Big Thinker" NYT Dec 16, 2009)

George (a polite and kindly man whom I've met several times when I've been lecturing at Princeton) is known for working behind the scenes with both Roman Catholic and evangelical groups to push the far right religious movement's social/political agenda while giving his efforts a respectable academic spin. Of course George would disavow being called a Reconstructionist. Rather he would claim he's an advocate of the so-called Natural Law school of Roman Catholic theology.

Briefly: Natural Law is a theological theory originating in Greek philosophy that was Christianized by Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. It holds law is set by nature, i.e., homosexuality isn't "natural" therefore it's wrong etc., and that there should be civil penalties against what is "unnatural" and so on. Natural Law is supposedly the opposite of "positive law" (man-made law). George argues that Natural Law should be the standard secular American law follows. (He uses the Natural Law argument in the same way that "Intelligent Design" is a term used as a cover for pushing biblical creationism. It seems more respectable than simply quoting the Bible.)

Of course Natural Law is just another way to impose one group's ideology on other groups and is as arbitrary, limited and nuts as any other theory of law that claims absolute moral superiority over all other theories. It also harbors an embarrassing track record ignored by George. For instance Aquinas said that there was a Natural Law order to society: Kings, barons, knights, freemen and serfs. (Not surprisingly George's Manhattan Declaration brainchild doesn't mention the barons, knights, freemen and serfs bit of the Natural Law theory!) Natural Law can also cut to the dark side. The Marquis de Sade also believed in Natural Law. He said that anything which is possible is natural. If it is natural, then it is moral. The term "sadism" is derived from this view of natural law.

The Manhattan Declaration was signed by over 120 Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and evangelical Republican leaders eager to take a shot at our first black president. Echoing my late evangelical far right leader father's writings (without naming him) the declaration says that Christianity teaches "that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required." (Emphasis added)

The fact that so many supposedly respectable evangelical leaders signed on to an updated Natural Law/Reconstructionist manifesto is ironic. From a Protestant theological viewpoint Natural Law is anti-biblical. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God," Paul wrote in I Corinthians. According to Paul "natural men" is full of falsehood. Yet Natural Law rests on two ideas denied by the Bible: the self-sufficiency of man's mind and the capability of man to extrapolate moral understanding of right and wrong from observing the world around him. But in the Protestant view the Bible argues that these things don't enlighten man, only the direct experience of God's grace through revelation does.

Bishops! Repair your broken church and leave us alone!

On a more mundane level, in the, if-you-live-in-glass-houses-don't-throw-moralistic- stones department, it's worth noting that George is a member of the Roman Catholic Church. George-The-Moralizer, who wants to roll back Jeffersonian democracy in favor of a 13th century adaptation of Greek philosophy that's being used as a cover for imposing unreconstructed Protestant fundamentalism on our diverse country, is a member of a denomination that has consistently collaborated with anti-democratic forces of all sorts from Bloody Mary up to and including dictators like Mussolini, Franco and Hitler. (Just for the record all religious groups and secular religions alike also have a horrible and checkered past. That's not the point; the point is the hypocrisy of standing up to shake a moralizing finger in the face of the world around you when you're standing on a pile of bones.)

Meanwhile it turns out that the Pope is just one more bishop to try to hide then protect child abusers. We have nothing to learn from these people.

In the recent past George's denomination has also become the world's best organized pedophile network. Other than that, George and the American bishops and the Pope speak from the moral high ground. Yet George and company have seen fit to lecture our President and the rest of us on our "moral lapses."

Brooks Says What I Think Here

The Broken Society

Published: New York Times March 18, 2010

The United States is becoming a broken society. The public has contempt for the political class. Public debt is piling up at an astonishing and unrelenting pace. Middle-class wages have lagged. Unemployment will remain high. It will take years to fully recover from the financial crisis.

This confluence of crises has produced a surge in vehement libertarianism. People are disgusted with Washington. The Tea Party movement rallies against big government, big business and the ruling class in general. Even beyond their ranks, there is a corrosive cynicism about public action.

But there is another way to respond to these problems that is more communitarian and less libertarian. This alternative has been explored most fully by the British writer Phillip Blond.

He grew up in working-class Liverpool. “I lived in the city when it was being eviscerated,” he told The New Statesman. “It was a beautiful city, one of the few in Britain to have a genuinely indigenous culture. And that whole way of life was destroyed.” Industry died. Political power was centralized in London.

Blond argues that over the past generation we have witnessed two revolutions, both of which liberated the individual and decimated local associations. First, there was a revolution from the left: a cultural revolution that displaced traditional manners and mores; a legal revolution that emphasized individual rights instead of responsibilities; a welfare revolution in which social workers displaced mutual aid societies and self-organizedassociations.

Then there was the market revolution from the right. In the age of deregulation, giant chains like Wal-Mart decimated local shop owners. Global financial markets took over small banks, so that the local knowledge of a town banker was replaced by a manic herd of traders thousands of miles away. Unions withered.

The two revolutions talked the language of individual freedom, but they perversely ended up creating greater centralization. They created an atomized, segmented society and then the state had to come in and attempt to repair the damage.

The free-market revolution didn’t create the pluralistic decentralized economy. It created a centralized financial monoculture, which requires a gigantic government to audit its activities. The effort to liberate individuals from repressive social constraints didn’t produce a flowering of freedom; it weakened families, increased out-of-wedlock births and turned neighbors into strangers. In Britain, you get a country with rising crime, and, as a result, four million security cameras.

In a much-discussed essay in Prospect magazine in February 2009, Blond wrote, “Look at the society we have become: We are a bi-polar nation, a bureaucratic, centralised state that presides dysfunctionally over an increasingly fragmented, disempowered and isolated citizenry.” In a separate essay, he added, “The welfare state and the market state are now two defunct and mutually supporting failures.”

The task today, he argued in a recent speech, is to revive the sector that the two revolutions have mutually decimated: “The project of radical transformative conservatism is nothing less than the restoration and creation of human association, and the elevation of society and the people who form it to their proper central and sovereign station.”

Economically, Blond lays out three big areas of reform: remoralize the market, relocalize the economy and recapitalize the poor. This would mean passing zoning legislation to give small shopkeepers a shot against the retail giants, reducing barriers to entry for new businesses, revitalizing local banks, encouraging employee share ownership, setting up local capital funds so community associations could invest in local enterprises, rewarding savings, cutting regulations that socialize risk and privatize profit, and reducing the subsidies that flow from big government and big business.

To create a civil state, Blond would reduce the power of senior government officials and widen the discretion of front-line civil servants, the people actually working in neighborhoods. He would decentralize power, giving more budget authority to the smallest units of government. He would funnel more services through charities. He would increase investments in infrastructure, so that more places could be vibrant economic hubs. He would rebuild the “village college” so that universities would be more intertwined with the towns around them.

Essentially, Blond would take a political culture that has been oriented around individual choice and replace it with one oriented around relationships and associations. His ideas have made a big splash in Britain over the past year. His think tank, ResPublica, is influential with the Conservative Party. His book, “Red Tory,” is coming out soon. He’s on a small U.S. speaking tour, appearing at Georgetown’s Tocqueville Forum Friday and at Villanova on Monday.

Britain is always going to be more hospitable to communitarian politics than the more libertarian U.S. But people are social creatures here, too. American society has been atomized by the twin revolutions here, too. This country, too, needs a fresh political wind. America, too, is suffering a devastating crisis of authority. The only way to restore trust is from the local community on up.



Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Obama Critics, Admit You Were Wrong

Before he'd served even one year President Obama lost the support of the easily distracted left and engendered the white hot rage of the hate-filled right. But some of us, from all walks of life and ideological backgrounds -- including this white, straight, 57-year-old, former religious right wing agitator, now progressive writer and, given my background as the son of a famous evangelical leader, unlikely Obama supporter -- are sticking with our President. Why? Because he is succeeding.

We Obama supporters still trust our initial impression of him as a great, good and uniquely qualified man to lead us.

Obama's steady supporters will be proved right. Obama's Lefty critics will be remembered as easily panicked and prematurely discouraged at best and his critics on the Right will be remembered as nothing but shriveled hate mongers.

The Context of the Obama Presidency

Not since the days of the rise of fascism in Europe, the Second World War and the Depression has any president faced more adversity. Not since the Civil War has any president led a more bitterly divided country. Not since the introduction of racial integration has any president faced a more consistently short-sighted and willfully ignorant opposition -- from both the right and left.

As the President's poll numbers have fallen so has his support from some on the left that were hailing him as a Messiah not long ago; all those lefty websites and commentators that were falling all over themselves on behalf of our first black president during the 2008 election.

The left's lack of faith has become a self-fulfilling "prophecy" -- snipe at the President and then watch the poll numbers fall and then pretend you didn't have anything to do with it!

Here is what Obama faced when he took office -- none of which was his fault:

  • An ideologically divided country to the point that America was really two countries

  • Two wars; one that was mishandled from the start, the other that was unnecessary and immoral

  • The worst economic crisis since the depression

  • America 's standing in the world at the lowest point in history

  • A country that had been misled into accepting the use of torture of prisoners of war

  • A health care system in free fall

  • An educational system in free fall

  • A global environmental crisis of history-altering proportions (about which the Bush administration and the Republicans had done nothing)

  • An impasse between culture warriors from the right and left

  • A huge financial deficit inherited from the terminally irresponsible Bush administration...

And those were only some of the problems sitting on the President's desk...

"Help" from the Right?

What did the Republicans and the religious right, libertarians and half-baked conspiracy theorists -- that is what the Republicans were reduced to by the time Obama took office -- do to "help" our new president (and our country) succeed? They claimed that he wasn't a real American, didn't have an American birth certificate, wasn't born here, was secretly a Muslim, was white-hating "racist", was secretly a communist, was actually the Anti-Christ, (!) and was a reincarnation of Hitler and wanted "death panels" to kill the elderly!

They not-so-subtly called for his assassination through the not-so-subtle use of vile signs held at their rallies and even a bumper sticker quoting Psalm 109:8. They organized "tea parties" to sound off against imagined insults and all government in general and gathered to howl at the moon. They were led by insurance industry lobbyists and deranged (but well financed) "commentators" from Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh.

The utterly discredited Roman Catholic bishops teamed up with the utterly discredited evangelical leaders to denounce a president who was trying to actually do something about the poor, the environment, to diminish the number of abortions through compassionate programs to help women and to care for the sick! And in Congress the Republican leadership only knew one word: "No!"

In other words the reactionary white, rube, uneducated, crazy American far right, combined with the educated but obtuse neoconservative warmongers, religious right shills for big business, libertarian Fed Reserve-hating gold bug, gun-loving crazies, child-molesting acquiescent "bishops", frontier loons and evangelical gay-hating flakes found one thing to briefly unite them: their desire to stop an uppity black man from succeeding at all costs.

"Help" from the Left?

What did the left do to help their newly elected president? Some of them excoriated the President because they disagreed with the bad choices he was being forced to make regarding a war in Afghanistan that he'd inherited from the worst president in modern history!

Others stood up and bravely proclaimed that the president's economic policies had "failed" before the President even instituted them! Others said that since all gay rights battles had not been fully won within virtually minutes of the President taking office, they'd been "betrayed"! (Never mind that Obama's vocal support to the gay community is stronger than any other president's has been. Never mind that he signed a new hate crimes law!)

Those that had stood in transfixed legions weeping with beatific emotion on election night turned into an angry mob saying how "disappointed" they were that they'd not all immediately been translated to heaven the moment Obama stepped into the White House! Where was the "change"? Contrary to their expectations they were still mere mortals!

And the legion of young new supporters was too busy texting to pay attention for longer than a nanosecond. "Governing"?! What the hell does that word, uh, like mean?"

The President's critics left and right all had one thing in common: impatience laced with little-to-no sense of history (let alone reality), thrown in for good measure. Then of course there were the white, snide know-it-all commentators/talking heads who just couldn't imagine that maybe, just maybe they weren't as smart as they thought they were and certainly not as smart as their president. He hadn't consulted them, had he? So he must be wrong!

The Obama critics' ideological ideas defined their idea of reality rather than reality defining their ideas -- say, about what is possible in one year in office after the hand that the president had been dealt by fate, or to be exact by the American idiot nation that voted Bush into office twice!

Meanwhile back in the reality-based community -- in just 12 short months -- President Obama:

  • Continued to draw down the misbegotten war in Iraq
    (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

  • Thoughtfully and decisively picked the best of several bad choices regarding the war in Afghanistan (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

  • Gave a major precedent-setting speech supporting gay rights (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

  • Restored America 's image around the globe (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

  • Banned torture of American prisoners (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

  • Stopped the free fall of the American economy (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

  • Put the USA squarely back in the bilateral international community (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

  • Put the USA squarely into the middle of the international effort to halt global warming (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

  • Stood up for educational reform (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

  • Won a Nobel peace prize (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

  • Moved the trial of terrorists back into the American judicial system of checks and balances (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

  • Did what had to be done to start the slow, torturous and almost impossible process of health care reform that 7 presidents had failed to even begin (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

  • Responded to hatred from the right and left with measured good humor and patience (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

  • Stopped the free fall of job losses (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

  • Showed immense personal courage in the face of an armed and dangerous far right opposition that included the sort of disgusting people that show up at public meetings carrying loaded weapons and carrying Timothy McVeigh-inspired signs about the "blood of tyrants" watering the "tree of Liberty." (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

  • Showed that he could not only make the tough military choices but explain and defend them brilliantly (But that wasn't good enough for his critics)

Other than those "disappointing" accomplishments -- IN ONE YEAR -- President Obama "failed"! Other than that he didn't "live up to expectations"!

Who actually has failed...

...are the Americans that can't see the beginning of a miracle of national rebirth right under their jaded noses. Who failed are the smart ass ideologues of the left and right who began rooting for this President to fail so that they could be proved right in their dire and morbid predictions. Who failed are the movers and shakers behind our obscenely dumb news cycles that have turned "news" into just more stupid entertainment for an entertainment-besotted infantile country.

Here's the good news: President Obama is succeeding without the help of his lefty "supporters" or hate-filled Republican detractors!

The Future Looks Good

I'm beginning to feel good about November for the first time in a while. Basically, as things get better, the Republicans have nowhere to go, and they're not any more popular themselves than they were before.

When Obama has served two full terms, (and he will), after his wisdom in moving deliberately and cautiously with great subtlety on all fronts -- with a canny and calculating eye to the possible succeeds, (it will), after the economy is booming and new industries are burgeoning, (they will be), after the doomsayers are all proved not just wrong but silly: let the record show that not all Americans were panicked into thinking the sky was falling.

Just because we didn't get everything we wanted in the first short and fraught year Obama was in office not all of us gave up. Some of us stayed the course. And we will be proved right.