The Double Standard: Get Used to It

Herman Cain has been a speaker at Tea Party rallies across the country. You would think that would put to rest the idea that the Tea Party is a racist organization.  But here comes actress Janeane Garofalo, who refuses to bow to the obvious. Instead, she insists,

Herman Cain is probably well liked by some of the Republicans because it hides the racist elements of the Republican Party. Conservative movement and tea party movement, one and the same.

People like Karl Rove like to keep the racism very covert. And so Herman Cain provides this great opportunity so you can say, “Look, this is not a racist, anti-immigrant, anti-female, anti-gay movement. Look, we have a black man.

There’s really not much hope for changing some people’s minds. Their minds are made up; they would rather not be confused by the facts. Ever since the Tucson shooting last January, we’ve been treated to the most mind-boggling exercise in double standards I’ve ever witnessed, at least in the realm of “civil conversation.” The mainstream media hasn’t helped.

We might as well get used to it. It’s not going to change.

About That Call for Civility in Political Discourse

There are some statements made by politicians and political activists that I hesitate to comment on, particularly when they are distasteful and/or include wording I wouldn’t ordinarily want to highlight in a blog devoted to Biblical principles. Yet there are times when I feel somewhat forced to say something. This is one of those times.

Two recent rants come readily to mind. The first emanated from Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California. In a speech just over two weeks ago, she railed against the Tea Party. Her precise words?

As far as I’m concerned, the Tea Party can to straight to hell.

Well, the positive side, I guess, is that she at least believes there is such a place. Or am I giving her too much credit for simply using typically inflamed rhetoric?

Civility is breaking out all over the place. Indiana congressman Andre Carson, about a week after Waters’s outburst, did his best to leave her heated rhetoric in the dust with the following analysis:

Some of these folks in Congress would love to see us [African Americans] as second-class citizens. Some of them in Congress right now of this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me . . . hanging on a tree.

This was a broadbrush swipe at a movement whose primary goal is to call the nation back to financial common sense. I’ve been around the Tea Party. I’ve spoken to these groups. Nothing I have ever seen or heard from them smacks of the least bit of racism. Yet when called upon to reflect on his statement and to consider whether he had gone too far, he said he would not take back his words.

Then there was Teamsters president James Hoffa, at a Labor Day rally where President Obama took the stage moments after Hoffa said the following about Tea Party/Republican members of Congress:

Let’s take these sons of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong.

I have to give credit to a political commentator in the Los Angeles Times who responded in this way:

Let’s assume for a moment, that the son of the still-missing Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa, who was taken out somewhere once never to reappear, was not suggesting the enthusiastic union crowd start dating tea party members. The living Hoffa’s statement doesn’t seem to quite fit Democrat Obama’s past pleas for and promises of a new civility in the nation’s political discourse.

Does anyone recall the feigned outrage over Sarah Palin’s map of America that showed certain districts “targeted” in the 2010 congressional elections. Does anyone recall how she was unjustly blamed for the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson last January? And finally, do we remember all the pious calls for civil discourse pouring from the lips of Democrat politicians? Well, I never took them seriously from the start. And now their hypocrisy is clearly revealed for all to see.

It is not hate speech to disagree publicly with this president’s policies. It is hate speech to tell one’s political opponents to go to hell, to threaten to take them out while using vulgarities to describe them, and to accuse them of wanting to lynch a race of people when there is no evidence of any such desire.

I agree with a call to civility in political discourse. But it can’t be one-sided. Both sides have to adhere to it.

Downgrade Politics

If you are a Democrat, what is your message about the recent downgrade of the nation’s credit rating by S&P? That’s easy. You blame the Tea Party. You know, the ones who warned that an economic apocalypse was coming and that something drastic had to be done to avoid the downgrade. Democrats fear they will be held responsible, what with an added $5 trillion to the national debt in the past two and a half years. And never mind that if the Senate had taken seriously the Cut, Cap, and Balance bill passed by the House, the downgrade never would have occurred. No, circle the wagons and find a scapegoat.

I’ve noticed how coordinated these attacks are: the spokespersons don’t even bother to conceal the concerted effort. David Axelrod and John Kerry used the same terminology on the Sunday talk shows; they called this the Tea Party downgrade. Kerry even went so far as to suggest that the media shouldn’t even allow Tea Party types to have a voice because they are so fringe in their views.

As I noted in yesterday’s post, the rhetoric is outlandish:

Isn’t profiling one of our biggest concerns? Why not apply the term more accurately?

So the entire world waited with anticipation any words from the president that would ease the anxiety. He said nothing over the weekend. Finally, on Monday, he stepped to the podium to make everyone feel better. What did he give us? The same speech he has uttered for the past three years or so: tax the rich; build the infrastructure; set aside the wrangling and partisanship—all the while ignoring the fact that he is the greatest of all partisans and his ideological intransigence is the root of all the wrangling.

His performance had an immediate effect: the stock market plunged just as badly as it had last Thursday. All the gains made in the last year have now been eclipsed. We’re probably as bad off as we’ve been since the panic of late 2008.

So how will Obama spend most of his time now? Running for reelection, of course. Some are already suggesting his slogan for the next run.


Bitter Division & Truth-Telling

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how the political arena has become bitterly divided. As a historian, let me first say that this is not unique in American history. There have always been periods of strong division: the 1790s, the Jacksonian era, the entire 1850s through the Civil War, the beginnings of the Cold War in the late 1940s-early 1950s, Vietnam and Watergate. And for those who think everyone loved Ronald Reagan [which is what you might surmise from current rhetoric], he was regularly accused of being a warmonger and a dastardly evil fellow who couldn’t wait to starve schoolchildren and throw old people out on the street.

No, what we’re experiencing is not unique. What is unique, though, is that I believe we are at a tipping point as a nation. We are now more divided culturally than at any point in our history, even including the Civil War. During that era, both North and South at least professed allegiance to Christian faith; both said they were fighting to preserve a way of life based on that faith [however inconsistent some of that way of life was to actual Biblical belief]. Today, we are split between Christian and secular. Our future as a nation depends on which vision becomes dominant.

These differing visions naturally play out in politics. If you are an orthodox Christian who holds to time-tested moral underpinnings for a society, you align with the political party that has the closest connection to those beliefs. Right now, that’s the Republican party. Democrats, on the other hand, while they can be vaguely “spiritual,” and can draw some support from Christians who don’t really understand the Biblical limitations on the authority of civil government, are generally further removed from basic Biblical morality, particularly on issues of sanctity of life, sexuality, and marriage and family.

In this blog, I have tried hard to point to the Biblical way as the solution for our societal problems. In so doing, I have to demonstrate the false premises of the opposing vision. My goal has been to do so in a Christian manner. Some people may think that to be a Christian, one can never criticize or judge. I disagree. Christians have a God-imposed responsibility to showcase the errors in thinking and policy that lead a society down a wayward path. Therefore, I do not apologize for attempting to reveal false concepts of governing.

I have been critical of President Obama because I firmly believe that his worldview, and the policies that emanate from that worldview, are dangerous. I also use cartoons to point out the hypocrisy and foibles of the “other side.” All of that is perfectly legitimate. You can search this blog, and I trust you will never find anything that is simply name-calling or an attempt to misrepresent another’s beliefs. I try to be as straightforward and honest as possible.

That’s not the case with some of the political rhetoric you hear nowadays. Might I use a couple of cartoons to illustrate?

The elderly lady on the right represents the Tea Party movement, which has focused on the out-of-control spending of the government. Yet what are these people being called currently? The cartoon makes the point and shows the hypocrisy involved. Who is really responsible for undermining the economy?

Those of us on the “Right” are constantly bombarded with accusations:

Yet when we use the “S” word, we are the ones who are portrayed as extremists. No, the use of “socialism” to describe what Democrats are doing is simply an accurate observation.

I will continue to offer truth-telling because I believe the fate of this nation depends upon the faithfulness of the few who are willing to tell the truth.

In Praise of Harmony & Mutual Respect

The budget/debt ceiling bill passed the House last night, and the Senate is slated to vote on it today. Half of the Democrats opposed it; sixty-six Republicans also said no to it. The Democrats’ objections were that there were no tax increases, there were spending cuts, and it called for the Congress to send a balanced budget amendment to the states for ratification. Republicans’ objections were that most of the spending cuts were too far down the road, there is the possibility for tax increases in the future if a special commission deems them necessary [although they would still have to pass both houses to take effect], and the debt ceiling was raised in the process.

I don’t have any sympathy with the Democrat objections, but I understand why some Republicans couldn’t bring themselves to support the measure. This is not a bill that makes a fundamental change. At the same time, I understand why the majority of Republicans went along with it: when you control only one part of the Congress and there is a president who will veto anything stronger, you go for the best deal you can get, and it does change the debate at least. No longer will Congress be pushing new spending programs; the discussion will now center on how to make effective cuts in spending. In other words, I see the strengths of both Republican positions.

What we have here is not a basic philosophical difference among most Republicans, but merely a tactical one. Is this not supportable because it doesn’t do enough, or is it instead the first step along an arduous policy road on the way to the ultimate goal?

I know some people’s passions are running high on this issue, and there are those calling for new leadership in the Republican party. Yet from other accounts I have read, even many of the Republicans who rejected this bill had words of praise for Speaker Boehner and his leadership team. They recognize he did his best, and they appreciate his efforts in a tough political climate. Although they may have voted against this specific piece of legislation, they are hopeful that it really can be a first step after all. They certainly need to pull together now if anything more significant is to be achieved. Initial reports indicate they can go forward unified in what they seek to accomplish overall.

It’s always nice to see harmony. Then, of course, there is the opposite of that. Yesterday, Vice President Biden met with disgruntled House Democrats to explain why he and the president support the bill. By all accounts, it was a heated meeting, and in the midst of that heat, a few verbal shots were fired. Apparently, the VP and/or other members of the Democrat caucus called members of the Tea Party “terrorists.”

Once again the Party of Civility leads the way into a new and brighter future where mutual respect forms the cornerstone of our political system.

Identifying the Extremists

For weeks now [I could say “for years,” but I’m trying to limit it to the present debate] we’ve been treated to a steady stream of invective from Democrats saying that “Tea Party wingnut extremists” are the barrier for reaching a budget deal. What exactly are those “extremist” views? Please choose among the following:

  • A desire to live within our means as a nation rather than going even more trillions of dollars in debt
  • A call for a balanced budget amendment—such as those that exist currently in many states—to ensure that wiser spending decisions are made
  • A reluctance to raise the debt ceiling once again, in hopes that we can turn our spending habits around
  • An attempt to reduce our current debt by $4-6 trillion to stave off the downgrading of the nation’s credit rating

These are radical, wild-eyed proposals? These are extremist policy stances?

They used to be called wisdom.

On the other side, calls for raising taxes will only hurt the economy. By the way, the very people the Democrats say they want to help—the needy—will be hurt the most by the reduction in jobs those raised taxes will cause. They are also the ones who will suffer the most by a downgraded credit rating, as costs will rise and interest rates on loans will shoot up.

And here’s some more basic knowledge that people need to learn: tax cuts do not cause deficits; as the Reagan years revealed, revenues increased significantly by lowering the tax rates. The only reason the deficits went up during Reagan’s presidency is that spending increased faster than the new revenues, thanks to a Democrat House of Representatives that promised to cut $3 in spending for every $1 dollar raised in revenue. Needless to say, they reneged on that promise.

How about a real example of extremism? Here’s former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sharing her keen insight into the budget process:

What we’re trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget. We’re trying to save life on this planet as we know it.

I’m sure glad she’s not prone to overstating anything. At least she didn’t extend her remarks to the galaxy or the universe.

Yes, there are extremists out there, but they need to be identified more accurately.

The Budget, the Debt, & the Media

The budget and economic issues are once again going to come to the forefront shortly, if they haven’t already. Republicans and Democrats couldn’t be further apart in their view of the status of things and what needs to be done. While Republicans are warning against raising the debt ceiling without significant cuts in spending, Democrats have a different take on the situation:

President Obama himself has yet to get serious about the coming economic Armageddon. When he does mention it, he always blames it on the Republicans. Pardon me, but who controlled both houses of Congress from 2007 until this year? And who has added more than $5 trillion to the debt in just two years? Is this really something to be proud of?

Of course, conservatives/Tea Partiers have to be serious as well. They pushed for changes in spending; now they have to be willing to walk their talk, particularly on issues that affect them directly:

You can be sure if they become hypocritical on this, the media will hold them to account. One only wishes they would do the same on the other side:

As I’ve said before, I’m grateful we no longer have to rely on three networks to know what’s happening. Apparently you are, too, since you’re reading this blog.