Category Archives: Politics

Catholics – Transcending Politics

Pope Francis I appears on the central balconyIf I may speak in generalities: American Christians mistakenly try to make all of their views fit whichever political party they prefer.

If Republican, they buy the whole package–against abortion, gay rights, affirmative action, immigration reform, gun restrictions, and new taxes, and in favor of the death penalty and a family life amendment.

If Democrat, they favor green energy, helping the poor, taxing the wealthy, reproductive rights, alternative lifestyles, marriage equality, healthcare reform, and various kinds of government intervention.

Again: generalities. I don’t know why Christians feel compelled to support the entire agenda of their preferred political party, but that’s what you usually see.

I do know a number of evangelicals whose views cross party lines. I enjoy engaging in discussions with them. It’s refreshing. They stake out their positions based FIRST on what the Bible tells them, rather than on what they hear from voices in the political world. They make up their own minds. I feel like I’m talking to THEM, instead of arguing with Sean Hannity or Lawrence O’Donnell.

But when you hold a mixture of liberal and conservative views, it makes people’s heads explode, because they can’t categorize you according to American political divisions. But, as I maintain with annoying frequency, that’s how a Christian should be. We’re not supposed to conform to the patterns of this world, political or otherwise.

With that in mind–kudos to the Catholic church. They hold “conservative” views on some issues, like sexuality, marriage, bioethics, public education, and the role of women. And they hold “liberal” views on other issues, like immigration, the death penalty, nuclear disarmament, and economic regulation. Their views exist outside of American political categories.

I don’t agree with all of the “official” Catholic views. But they take their cues from what they believe God wants, not from pundits or political platforms or what is culturally popular. I admire that.

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An Unlikely Analogy

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Many years ago, I listened to a cassette teaching tape by Jill Briscoe. She was talking about empowering the laity. She said pastors and wives too often do things themselves, because they figure they can do it better than any of the available volunteers. But that’s the wrong approach. She said something like this:

“If they can’t do it well, let them do it poorly.”

This principle, believe it or not, actually came to my mind with the sequester. A result of crossed synapses firing simultaneously.

We know we need to cut federal spending. But the White House, the Senate, and the House are afraid to make spending cuts because it might cost them votes. Which, of course, would trigger the Apocalypse.

The sequester took it out of their hands. It’s an irresponsible way to make cuts, but it’s apparently the only ways cuts will get made.

We’re a couple days into the sequester, and we’ve now experienced two record-setting days on Wall Street. So I’m wondering if the principle is:

“If they can’t reduce spending responsibly, let them do it irresponsibly.”

Or, as Larry the Cable Guy would say, “Just git r done.”

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Please Hold for Dear Leader

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Dennis Rodman, our blinged-out Mr. Ambassador, became the first American to meet Kim Jong-un since he became the new leader of North Korea. Rodman says “he wants Obama to do one thing, call him.” Unfortunately, the phones have not been working in Washington DC for several months. The President, John Boehner, and Harry Reid are unable to call each other, let alone place a call to North Korea. Verizon expects to have the problem fixed sometime after the 2014 mid-term election.

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Much Ado

About this sequester thing: there’s a part of me which, the more I hear the administration cry “Doomsday!”, the more I wonder if it might turn out more like YTK. That is, nothing much happens. We just end up with lots of basements full of freeze-dried food and stockpiled ammo.

The feds obviously need to cut spending, but nobody’s up to the task. So maybe, if they can’t cut spending responsibly, let them cut it irresponsibly.

On the other hand, this may turn out to be one of the most idiotic things I’ve ever said.

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Obama and the Seussquester

seussquesterThe article “Obama and the Seussquester,” tells the story of the sequester in the language of Dr. Seuss. It comes from the Heritage Foundation, which is now headed by Tea Party favorite Jim DeMint, so you know it’s going to blame Obama for everything. Which it pretty much does. But hey–it’s FUN TO READ.

The Democrats, for their part, spin everything against Republicans. Both sides wander into alternate realities as they cast blame. But with this cute article by Amy Payne, Republicans totally destroy Democrats in the Spin Game. This is spin that, albeit not exactly intellectually honest, is nevertheless fun and creative. And, I should add, mostly dead-on accurate.

My only read gripe is that it’s written in prose, rather than in verse format. But enough with quibbles and nits.

So it is out of respect for Amy Payne’s creativity that I provide this link. And I expect my many conservative Facebook friends to gleefully share it with reckless abandon.

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Bringing the Federal Budget Down to Earth

This came to me from a friend in Canada. I’m not going to even try to verify the numbers. They may be a couple years old, anyway. But that’s beside the point. The analogy with the household budget stands, regardless of how much people might want to quibble over actual numbers.

U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000
New debt: $1,650,000,000,000
National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
Recent budget cuts: $38,500,000,000

Let’s now remove 8 zeros and pretend it’s a household budget:

Annual family income: $21,700
Money the family spent: $38,200
New debt on the credit card: $16,500
Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
Total budget cuts so far: $38.50

Get the picture?

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Marco Rubio and the Poland Connection

poland-spring-water2During his response to the State of the Union address, Senator Marco Rubio paused to take a drink of water–from a Poland Spring bottle. Why is he getting water from Poland, which not too long ago was a communist country? Why isn’t he supporting American water? Are Americans not capable of producing water good enough for Senator Rubio?

Before I would ever vote for him for president, I would want a lot of related questions answered.

  • Does he also eat French fries, and use Italian dressing?
  • For breakfast does he eat English muffins, Danish pastries, Belgian waffles, or French toast?
  • Does he drink Columbian or Irish cream coffee?
  • Does his staff, working out of an office paid for with American taxpayer dollars, ever order out Chinese?

Since he’s not a white guy, and since his parents weren’t even American citizens when he was born, I’m not sure I can trust him to be a real American. In fact, he could very well be a Cuban sleeper agent.

Somewhere, I’ll bet, there is a Cuban birth certificate. I’m guessing Donald Trump is already searching for it.

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The Night of Empty Promises

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So once again we come to the State of the Union Address, otherwise known as the Night of Empty Promises. At least President Obama can grandstand in a much more literate manner than his predecessors. Just looking for redeeming value.

I predict:

  • There will be lots of clapping.
  • Clarence Thomas won’t attend.
  • Mitch McConnell won’t be caught smiling.
  • John Boehner, sitting behind the president, will impart an orange glow.
  • The camera will frequently pan to an over-enthusiastic Nancy Pelosi.
  • On no domestic issues will Democrats and Republicans stand to applaude at the same time.
  • Marco Rubio’s response will be pretty good.
  • Joe Biden will be fighting to stay awake.
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My First Letter to My Congressman

Well, I wrote to my Congressman. The first time I’ve ever done that. He’s a Republican in a very Republican district, though I don’t know much about him. Does writing to your Congressman make a difference? I don’t know. But I did it. And here’s my letter, which I submitted through his website.

This is my first letter, ever, to a Congressman.

My wife and I enjoy shooting. We own guns, and we both have concealed carry permits.

That said, I hope you’ll be open to the President’s proposals. I read through all of them and found very little that I would object to. There is a lot of hysteria about a war on the Second Amendment, and the government taking away guns, and the need to fight a tyrannical US government, but you and I know that this is an over-reaction. Too much of what is being said by gun rights advocates lacks intellectual integrity, and that angers me.

The President’s proposals dealt minimally with new gun restrictions, and placed much emphasis on issues of information sharing, school preparedness, and mental illness. These make good sense, and I would encourage you to support them. It would be a shame to see his proposals killed purely for partisan reasons, or to satisfy the gun lobby.

I do not support renewing the Assault Weapons Ban; it is an artificial category of weapons. However, I’m confident the Republic can survive its renewal. We, after all, seem to have weathered the previous 10 years of the ban without seeing the American way of life crumble before our eyes.

I am much more open to a limit on magazine capacity. While I do have some high-capacity magazines, and would like more, I can live without them.

The prevalence and accessibility of guns in American society means that, inevitably, massacres like Sandy Hook and Aurora will happen again. More innocent children WILL be slaughtered. It is an inevitable side effect of a society which reveres gun ownership. But there are common sense regulations we can impose which could cut down on the number of children and other innocents who are killed. The President outlined many good steps to take. I encourage you to give them the consideration they deserve.

Thank you.

Steve Dennie

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Gun Violence and Slippery Slopes

In a few hours, the White House will announce their ideas for curbing the gun violence epidemic. I think I can safely (and cynically) predict that the NRA and other gun rights organizations will oppose every single idea, as they’ve been doing with tiresome predictability.

I’m mostly a gun rights person, but I’m really disturbed by their total intransigence. They respond to every idea by saying, “It won’t work. It wouldn’t have stopped….” and then they name one of the many massacres that have occurred. Argument by anecdote. I realize that these organizations are less about gun owners than they are about gun and ammo manufacturers, so that’s a problem. And it’s pretty clear that the Republicans can block most anything from getting through Congress, so you have to wonder, “What’s the point?”

On the other side, Hollywood and videogame makers will also oppose anything aimed in their direction, citing First Amendment concerns.

I’m not an NRA slippery-slope person. In fact, the only slippery slopes I see involve more and more guns, fewer and fewer restrictions, an ever-increasing saturation of violence in entertainment media, and more frequent mass shootings. That’s the reality of American society, clear for all to see. Do we want to keep going down those slippery slopes?

Come on, people, there’s common sense stuff we can do.

UPDATE: I read through all of the materials put out by the White House. I don’t see much cause for concern from gun owners. The president didn’t order up a new fleet of black helicopters to swoop in and confiscate everyone’s guns. Universal background checks are totally reasonable, and the Republic will not collapse if people’s gun magazines are limited to 10 bullets. A good share of the recommendations dealt with sharing of information between law enforcement agencies, school preparedness, and mental health issues (which will be real thorny).

On Piers Morgan, a woman gun rights advocate was asked, “Is there ANYTHING in what the president recommended that you agree with?” She said, “No.” That type of closed-mindedness drives me nuts.

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