Thursday, October 20, 2016

President Hillary Clinton: What to expect in January

“I will look at it.”

That was Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s response at last night’s debate in Las Vegas when he was asked point-blank if he would accept the results of the upcoming election, in which he’s heavily favored to lose to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton as things stand now.

Of course, Clinton was aghast, as were many others — and should have been.

But that comment by Trump, as mean-spirited, ominous and arrogant as it sounded, never really was about Trump himself. In fact, it didn’t even start with him, really — as she herself should understand from personal experience.

Many of her enemies, most supporting Trump today, simply will not accept anything less than total victory — or, perhaps more accurately, the total humiliation of a political opponent. And it’s been that way for a generation now.

In the 1980s, the first time I recall “negative advertising” being done to any great extent, primarily on Democratic candidates, it resulted in the first “Republican Revolution,” with Ronald Reagan at the top of the ticket. I suspect that it swelled the heads of the folks who supported him back then.

But I wondered: What if the Democrats got themselves a Reagan?

We found out in 1992: His name was Bill Clinton. And the conservatives, perhaps not surprisingly, freaked out.

When he ran for president 24 years ago, they did more than simply oppose his candidacy, which wouldn’t have been a problem. Indeed, in July conservative activists went so far as to file suit in Federal court in Little Rock, Ark. to have his name removed from the ballot. (That was denied.) The mud started to fly then in the hope that something would stick and he would be removed.

When nothing happened and Clinton suckered Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich into forcing two government shutdowns in 1995 that all but ensured his reelection the next year, lobbyist Grover Norquist, on election night, vowed to have him taken out. The situation with Monica Lewinsky, which happened that night, came to light the next year and a number of people set up a perjury trap which led to his impeachment — and acquittal. (Clinton ended up leaving office with the highest approval rating among modern presidents, though Obama right now is hot on his heels.)

Basically, despite their protestations to the contrary, the Clintons’ enemies don’t care about the law, the Constitution or due process — they simply want their way and will stop at absolutely nothing to get it. It’s one reason Trump is so popular — they seem him as a dictator who will cause immediate change in their direction.

That’s why, even if Hillary wins as expected, you shouldn’t expect her critics to back down — it wouldn’t surprise me if on Jan. 21, 2017 someone in Congress will raise the specter of impeachment. Are they that low?   
Yes, they’re that low.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The idolatry of abortion 'theology'

It’s come down to this …

More than a few evangelical Christians are now supporting Donald Trump for president after keeping him at arm’s length through most of the campaign. Reason? In the faint hope that, if elected, he would nominate Supreme Court justices that would overturn Roe v. Wade. After all, that’s what he’s promised.

As if any politician, especially someone like Trump whose word is as worthless as any of them but beholden to no one, is poised to deliver on that.

And part of that is the long-held belief that God will judge this country harshly were abortion to remain legal. I’m not convinced of that.

Don’t get me wrong — I do oppose abortion but did so before I became a Christian, so I don’t necessarily see it as an issue of theology.

In fact, recently I read that abortion became embedded in Christian political thought only in the late 1970s, when the “religious right” became ascendant but needed an issue to rally around for the sake of outrage (not to mention money). When the SCOTUS ruling went down it was pretty much ignored by evangelicals, partly because abortion was seen as a “Catholic” issue.

But even when Catholics opposed abortion, and often they still do, it was always as part of a greater “pro-life” ethos.

If there is a theological issue here, it’s idolatry in the belief that merely ending abortion is required to stave off “judgment.” And if for some reason were abortion to become illegal again, what then? Things simply won’t change very much, if at all, and we would need yet another target to keep the game going.

And if there is to be a judgment, it will start in the church for its lack of fidelity to God and His Kingdom rule. Which tells me that abortion has nothing to do with it.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Dissing Justice Thomas?

Writing for The Hill, Mark Paoletta, who worked in the administration of George H.W. Bush, recently complained that the recently-opened National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened last month, gave short shrift to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas because he’s a conservative. “This is a shocking slight that the museum must redress,” he wrote.

Oh, really?

With all due respect to Paoletta, he ought to understand just why Thomas is rejected by most — and we’re talking upwards of 90 percent — of black America and that giving him a more prominent role in the museum would likely cause protests in its own right.

According to David Brock, in that day a right-wing journalist who said he helped propagandize to get Thomas on the court, the conservative movement that increasingly ran the Republican Party wanted to get a “black Bork,” a reference to the law professor Robert Bork who was rejected by the Senate for, essentially, being a judicial activist, there after the retirement of Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American on the court. Pardon me for being a bit cynical, but I think the conservatives were hoping that the black community would embrace Thomas for being “one of them” while maintaining conservative bona fides.

That had no chance of happening because the conservative movement that Thomas espouses from the bench today has always directly opposed the African-American struggle for progress. Trouble is, the movement doesn’t even relate to people who don’t agree with it, so it’s in no position to tell anyone who blacks should honor as their heroes. In other words, they don’t want or intend to be dictated to.

And that refusal to consider other points of view is what’s causing the racial division we see in this country even now.

Basically, Thomas is on the court because, and only because, he’s a conservative; his color and heritage are of no import in this case. But the second person to get to such a level will never have the impact of the first anyway, so I don’t understand the cheerleading.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

'Somebody spectacular'

I often wondered what supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump saw in him. It can’t be his positions, which change like the wind. It can’t be his business sense, since that too is dubious. It can’t be his moral stances, since by anyone’s standard they’re not consistent.

But last week, the New York Times published an op-ed piece during which one woman in Kentucky said, “We need somebody spectacular.”

That made sense to me.

Basically, I see it as a codependent woman falling in love with the proverbial “bad boy” and, when he acts up, justifying his behavior. Folks haven’t addressed his racist and sexist comments, which at this point are legion. Disdainful of compromise and with no concrete plan to cause change, he’s relied on sheer emotion to win fans (I mean, voters). They don’t even listen those who have courageously denounced him for his divisiveness, insisting that they represent, in essence, just “some establishment that doesn’t want anyone else in its club.”

But as we all know — and, having been in-and-out of 12-step recovery programs since 1983, I see this — “bad boys” make terrible husbands due to their unreliability and lack of centering. Being “sexy” doesn’t have anything with ability.

And people need to understand that political change in this country is always incremental. Retail politics isn’t stimulating; it takes work and commitment. Frankly, the staying power of Sen. Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side surprised me, but in endorsing Hillary Clinton he said that the political revolution which he embodied would, and should, continue after him. (And President Obama seemed to concur, saying, “I’m 'feeling the Bern'.”)

Moreover, I take note of the number of editorial pages of newspapers that haven’t in my lifetime, if ever, endorsed a Democrat for president; the Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, Arizona Republic and Cincinnati Enquirer have all recommended that their respective readership vote for Hillary Clinton. They’ve done the homework, scrutinized positions and considered temperament overall and believe that Trump is too dangerous.

That to me represents wisdom based on knowledge and experience, not a desire for “remaining in the club.”

You can make a big splash on the political scene but, like a marriage, being an effective leader takes work behind the scenes. I don’t think many of Trump’s followers get that.