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In the spirit of introspection, alluded to in my previous post, here are three thoughts on liberal landmines ranging from the trivial to the dead serious.
The Better Scandal
MSNBC spent the better part of the first two months of this year focused on one story: Bridgegate. Each prime-time show lead with some update on the New Jersey traffic snafu engineered by Chris Christie admin officials and appointees. At first they tried to make hay of the possibility that an elderly woman died because her ambulance got stuck in the traffic jam caused by a bogus “traffic study”. Unfortunately, almost immediately a relative of the deceased woman said she didn’t blame Christie for the death, so MSNBC had to drop that bit of melodrama. In the backdrop was the fact that Christie was the only potential 2016 Republican candidate who was giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money. The obvious attempt of the network to discredit Hillary’s only real opposition was transparent — and disappointing to me, a long time fan of the network for their left-leaning but fair reporting.
Contrast this with Fox which for the better part of the past 18 months focused on Benghazi. Say what you will of the merits of the Benghazi “scandal”, four dead Americans including an ambassador trumps an amateur hour traffic jam any day of the week. If liberal news networks are going to go after Republicans they better come up with juicier stuff than Bridgegate.
A Drag on the Family
When conservatives compare our country to “the family” it usually sounds like grade school oversimplification. The typical example is “why would you want your country in debt? You don’t want your family in debt do you?” I am pretty sure that many economists agree that a little debt is actually GOOD for a country while it may not be good for a family.
But I was thinking the other day about another country/family analogy and this one resonated a bit. Picture the family who is pretty normal except for that one loser who has never applied himself, never looked for a job and is always mooching off the other family members. The family either applies “tough love” and cuts him off or they go down the drain with him, constantly bailing him out.
I do not subscribe to the notion that all welfare recipients are lazy loafers, or in Paul-Ryan-speak, “takers”. But I am beginning to question whether the current welfare state discourages work. When I got laid off seven years ago, I did not apply for unemployment insurance because I wanted to start my own business and I assumed doing so would make me ineligible for assistance. When my wife applied for unemployment insurance after her layoff last year, one of my concerns was how this would affect her ability to earn money. From what I understand, she can make a small amount and still receive government assistance but a job that would pay only slightly more than the assistance we receive would make us ineligible. So living day-to-day, paycheck to paycheck, there is a disincentive to find at least a low paying job. In a sense you find yourself saying “I can’t afford to get a job”, as crazy as that may sound. And in this case we are talking about responsible people, my wife and I. If a hard-working person can’t afford to find a job imagine how a true loafer feels.
Welfare and unemployment insurance don’t allow you to live like a king (or the proverbial queen) so many conservative complaints about welfare recipients do not resonate with me. Welfare recipients don’t live in swank penthouse apartments. But it is worth considering how government aid creates an unintentional disincentive to work.
Two approaches that come immediately to mind are workfare (not new) and mandatory health care assistance. How about the government paying your salary at a company instead of handing you a check while you’re not working? Basically you “volunteer” at a company — they pay nothing — and the gov pays you to work there. Time limits could be applied while you find a company who will pay you to work. In the area of mandatory health care assistance, how about legislation that forces any company with a health benefit plan, to continue to provide that benefit to any employee fired without cause (e.g. layoff) for a period of two years while they search for employment.
The bottom line is liberals need to think outside the box, stop focusing on victimization of the poor, creating greater dependency, and find new creative ways to lift folks out of poverty. Creating a dependent class hurts those relegated to that class as well as the country that goes down the drain supporting them.
The New Jim Crow
“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander is a book that I shall never read. I had the distinct misfortune of seeing the author discuss her premise and one phrase she used, yes — one phrase, left me so irritated that I will not give her book a chance. In discussing the plight of young minority men going to prison for longer terms than their white counterparts (the crack vs powdered cocaine dichotomy, to name one) she said (very close paraphrase), “these young men go to jail and are labeled criminals”.
NO NO NO. They are not labeled criminals. They ARE criminals. When you break the law you are a criminal. While it is perfectly correct to make the punishment fit the crime, isn’t our time better spent getting folks to STOP committing the crime in the first place? Words have meaning. When you say someone is “labeled a criminal” the implication is that forces beyond his control have created his condition. There are folks in the ghetto who would sooner die than break the law. This notion that ghetto life ipso facto creates criminals is the most counter-productive condescension imaginable.
It reminds me of a battle I fought in the comments section of another blog where a woman said she “found herself pregnant”. Mind you, she was not raped. She was not the victim of incest. She got pregnant through unprotected consensual sexual intercourse. She willingly actively engaged in behavior that, on occasion, results in a pregnancy. Yet she “found herself pregnant” as though no action on her part was involved. A total surprise — the sperm genie visited her while she was sleeping. Puhleeeze.
The same goes for this “labeled a criminal”. Brotha didn’t do a damn thing and our terrible racist society “labeled” him a criminal. Bull crap. Liberals use language to abdicate responsibility for behavior. It is always someone else’s fault. Frankly I’m sick of it. There is this thing in business called “root cause analysis”. When you “find yourself pregnant” or get “labeled a criminal” by some evil third-party, you are not getting at the root cause. Stop unprotected screwing! Stop buying, selling and using illegal drugs! Those are the root causes of the problem.
The question that remains is, are liberals well-meaning in this obfuscation or actually more odious than the “cold-hearted conservatives” whom they regularly attack? The jury is out for me on that one. But I can tell you this much– libs need to change their language and their perspective on the “down-trodden”. Some folks get screwed over because they screwed themselves over. That is not a problem we can fix by demonizing rich white men.
I’ve had a longer post in mind that I just haven’t been able to focus enough to commit to paper.
For the time being, let me say this. I’ve been famous for making prescriptions for what ails Republicans. I attended a professional webinar two days ago where I was reminded “you can’t change other people’s behavior, you can only change yourself.” In that spirit, what can I prescribe to cure what ails liberals?
Whether or not you find it sincere, GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal have all called for Republicans to reconsider their tactics in achieving their strategic goals. It’s called introspection.
I’ve noticed lately that the one thing liberals lack is introspection. There is a self-righteous belief in their moral superiority. It’s assumed. It’s ironic because that is the very thing we accuse of Republicans. I’ve watched MSNBC morph from a liberal biased network that tried to be fair to the bizarro-world twin of Fox News.
In a mid-term election year where Democrats stand to get an ass-whupping their strategy is still how evil Republicans are. Where is the introspection? Where is the effort to find ways to be more effective?
Over the next few posts I’m going to try some political introspection. The posts will be less frequent. Introspection is hard.
It is July 22, 2009 and President Obama is holding a press conference on health care reform. As the press conference nears its end, reporter Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times asks the president what he thinks about the arrest of Professor Henry Louis “Skip” Gates outside of his own home in Cambridge MA.
Obama replies, “Lynn, first of all we’re here discussing health care reform so what’s with the off topic question? Second do I look like the friggin Mayor of Cambridge to you? Or even the Governor of Massachusetts? I’m the president of the United States. I don’t spend my time worrying about local issues. Or maybe you think you get to ask me my opinion on anything black? Is that it, Lynn? Stupid question, next.”
Sadly that is not how it went down. Obama answered the question and inserted himself into a local issue he didn’t belong in.
My preferred answer would have come from Chris Christie. Folks call Christie a bully but he calls out stupid when he sees stupid whether from a reporter or a potential voter.
“Bridgegate” will be hard for Christie to overcome if for no other reason then it shows his incompetence if not outright dishonesty. That’s a rotten shame because I would love to see a straight talking president who actually does inspire some fear in our enemies and even our Congress.
I LIKE the fact that Christie intimidates people. Perhaps he can overcome the bridge fiasco and we can get a much needed bully in the White House.
I have a running joke with myself (and those few who share my sense of humor) about the perfect selections for hold music on a suicide hotline. Just the notion of being put on hold on a suicide hotline makes me chuckle. In any case, I settled on such gems as “Dust in the Wind”, “Alone Again, Naturally” and “Don’t Fear the Reaper”. In recent months, however, I have discovered another resource not part of my sick imagination but very real that the clinically depressed should steer clear of. It is the PBS series “Moyers and Company“.
Bill Moyers, a participant in and observer of Washington since the days of LBJ is every liberal’s dream documentary host. He wears his heart on his sleeve as he shines a light on various flavors of American injustice. I enjoy him. I find him intelligent and genuinely curious about the world around him. When you watch him interview a guest, you get the feeling he is learning something new right along with you. The problem with “Moyers and Company” is it is long on problems and rather short on solutions. At the conclusion of each installment I find myself shaking my head in despair. Just a sample of episode titles is enough to send you to a shrink: “America’s Political Breakdown”, “How Dollarocracy is Destroying America”, “Zombie Politics and Casino Capitalism” and the recent rebroadcast of “America’s Gilded Capital”.
In “America’s Gilded Capital”, Moyers interviews Mark Leibovich, the author of the Washington expose This Town. In the book (which I haven’t read) and the interview (which I did watch) Leibovich describes a Washington D.C. dedicated to job security. On every Congressman and Senator’s mind is first and foremost how to turn their time in government into some type of permanent gig, whether it be in government via reelection or outside of government in the private sector. The favorite private sector pastime of our elected officials is lobbying. Obama swore he would stop the “revolving door” of folks moving back and forth between government and lobbying firms, but his frequent exceptions have made the promise null and void. Leibovich describes a conversation he had with then Democratic Senator Chris Dodd who insisted he would never join a lobbying firm but ended up heading up the MPAA which has a strong lobbying entity. Then there is the story of Evan Bayh who left the Senate fed up with Washington dysfunction only to whore himself out to the Chamber of Commerce. And if you thought bipartisanship in D.C. was dead, think again. It breathes deep where there is money to be made, case in point liberal pundit Steve McMahon of MSNBC and conservative mouthpiece Alex Castellanos of CNN who together worked for a company called Purple Strategies and made lots of money helping BP repair its reputation after the infamous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
This installment ended the way most episodes of “Moyers” end. This is just the way it is but we’ve done you a service by telling you about it. Word to the wise, watch this show with a stiff drink in one hand and a bottle of Prozac in the other.
A few random thoughts: Some of my more loyal readers who disagree with everything I write had some fun with an old post of mine recently. The post was from 2008 and was entitled “America Says Enough”. It was written in the immediate afterglow of Barack Obama’s election. The RL Blog “regulars” have had some fun mocking the piece in light of the 20/20 hindsight that shows Obama to be a bit in over his head, as demonstrated by his inability to shake off scandals, real and imagined, that have plagued him. Clearly the most recent example of gross incompetence is the botched technical roll-out of the ACA. Add to that the used car salesman rhetoric of “keeping your insurance and your doctor if you want to” and you have a beleaguered presidency that penetrates even the most rose-colored glasses.
With that said, I don’t take back a single word of what I wrote back in 2008. Back then Obama was a blank canvas upon which the right and left painted their worst nightmares and highest hopes respectively. But one thing I wrote in particular will never be sullied by Obama’s lackluster performance:
I can now look at my beautiful black daughter and tell her that she can be anything she wants to be, without exception, without caveat.
It cannot be underestimated just how many blacks like me never thought a dark-skinned man would be elected President in our lifetime. As much as I loved my country, I felt there were barriers that would not be breached for years, if not decades, to come. For anyone not to understand the emotion attached to seeing this barrier broken is to not understand the human condition. As moved as I was back then, I still felt that if Barack Obama had been Barry Johnson, great-grandson of slaves, he would not have been nominated much less elected. The very exotic nature of Obama (which has ironically fueled the birther movement) made him acceptable to those who might otherwise have dismissed him. Nevertheless the cosmetics of this half-white, half-first-generation-American of immediate African descent, evoked a visceral reaction in many, including me, and I don’t apologize for it.
Cosmetics do not a great President make. With a four-year record to look back on, I wrote a very different piece in November of 2012. In my piece “Three Open Letters”, I offer the President advice rooted in the reality of his reelection and the imperfections of his administration. The piece in 2008 and the piece in 2012 were informed by the facts on the ground at that time and the accompanying emotions. I stand by both pieces.
What I know about the problems in the Ukraine could fill not much more than this sentence but just on the surface, it is interesting to see a country whose leadership looks to “the dark side” (Russia) while its citizens want to align with the West. I’m just throwing darts here but could it be that social media and the democratization of information access makes it harder for a government to sell its agenda to its people?
On Thursday’s installment of “The Daily Show”, Jon Stewart once again proves why he deserves every cent he earns. His take-down of Fox News’ war on Christmas coverage is classic in its humor and its truth. The Fox News coverage is so absurd that it is all Stewart can do to fit all the insanity into one segment. The ten minute segment can be found here and here and is worth a view.
Two unsettling things that Fox’s Megyn Kelly should remember: Santa Claus as we currently celebrate him, is neither white nor black — he doesn’t exist. Second, as Jon says, Jesus wasn’t born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Jesus looked more like Mohamed Atta than a latter-day version of the Door’s Jim Morrison.
In the wake of the debacle known as the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA aka Obamacare), everyone has a criticism but folks seem short on solutions. Time for me to write my own legislation. I won’t profess that these ideas are particularly original but they seem to be the right combination of things to cure what ails us, without the complicated big bang blow up of Obamacare. I hereby present the Lawson Insurance Act of 2014.
What should be our goals up front?
- Quality of health insurance
The first element of the plan is the establishment of the Health Insurance Oversight Commission, a government body modeled after the FDA and the FCC that audits and approves all insurance policies issued in the US. Most of us are thankful or take for granted that we have government entities that enforce minimum standards on the food we eat and the drugs we take and the publicly available communications that we consume. The HIOC would serve this purpose in the health insurance realm. Such popular provisions in Obamacare such as no disqualification due to pre-existing conditions would be enforced by the HIOC. The HIOC would also disapprove so-called junk insurance policies.
Some right wing zealots say we should be “free” to buy junk insurance policies if we so choose. This of course flies in the face of the widely accepted role of government in consumer protection. The only one who profits from a junk insurance policy is the insurance company. The folks who buy them, probably because they can’t afford better, don’t understand they are throwing their money away and are not protected from bankruptcy in the event of a serious illness. It is a proper role of government to keep these folks from being played for suckers.
Indeed Obamacare has attempted to do that with the horrific result that millions of folks are being summarily dropped from their substandard insurance policies and offered alternatives that are double or triple the premium. This is the very definition of the road to hell being paved with good intentions. So let’s move on to affordability.
Medicaid, not Medicare, For All
Medicaid is associated with the poor. I would submit the definition of poor in this country has changed. With so much wealth shifted to the top 1% of this country, we now have a whole new class of working poor who live paycheck to paycheck. I suggest that a needs based Medicaid expansion take place with the precise goal of bridging the gap between what people are charged for insurance premiums and what they can afford. With these supplements, we allow people to pay what they can truly afford for health insurance without placing downward pressure on the profit motive of the insurance companies. Call it a socialist buttress to capitalism. The supplements could be handled in either of two ways. We could pay these supplements to individuals who would file their insurance premium bills much as a businessman might file an expense report and then get reimbursed a certain amount based on need. The other method would be to pay insurance companies directly some sensibly calculated stipend which would allow them to pass reduced cost on to their customers. In this way the insurance company basically has two customers — the government who pays them to keep premiums affordable — and the policy holder who pays the affordable premium. Of course, insurance companies who not meet the minimum standards of the HIOC would not qualify for supplements at all.
Stop Protecting Insurance Companies From True Capitalism
Since health insurance is not a brick and mortar consumer item there is no reason for there to be a geographic constraint on its sale. All insurance companies should be required to accept policy holders from anywhere in the country. There should also be a push for a purely private insurance industry with employment-based insurance being completely phased out. There is no Earthly reason why affording health care should be attached to employment at any particular employer. Insurance companies should be exposed to the same risks and rewards of any other company competing in the capitalistic marketplace. We should be seeing health insurance commercials with Anthem battling it out with United Health Care to offer consumers the best quality for the most competitive price.
Did anyone notice I didn’t list universal coverage as a goal? It wasn’t an oversight on my part. I’m beginning to think that it is THAT goal that has sunk the ACA rollout. You can’t believe in capitalism and in the same breath say that EVERYONE can buy (or must buy) a particular product. Unless you go complete socialist on this and demand Medicare for all, then you must give up the universal coverage goal. The goal should be for government to put a bit of juice into the system so that the vast majority of people can afford quality health insurance. The goal should be to exploit the greatest virtues of capitalism (for example, competitive downward price pressure) to get as many folks insured as possible.
OK, the details are a bit fuzzy. I’ll admit that. I’m not a policy wonk or a legislator. I suggest that the above ideas are simpler and more understandable than Obamacare. Now it’s your turn to tweak this, tear it apart, reconstruct it. But there are two things you DON’T get to do.
You don’t get to trash it without your own solution.
You don’t get to settle for the status quo.
Tonight I post this blog entry from a conservative blogger who above all else has shown a pattern of fairness in his blogging over the years. This is just one excellent example.
I would also like to add a small elaboration on Sarah Palin. Today on “Face The Nation” Norah O’Donnell asked Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey (recently reelected in a landslide) what his thoughts were on the current nuclear talks with Iran. In a moment virtually NEVER seen on political television, Christie told O’Donnell that there were many folks better able to opine on this than he could. “I am the Governor of New Jersey”. He then refused to offer an opinion.
Now just imagine if Sarah Palin had been asked the same question. We would have gotten five minutes of word salad that would have impressed only those with the lowest of expectations.
There are times when the right answer is “I don’t know”.
So the Iowa pony shows are starting up and at this weekends Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalitions banquet two of the stars were Sarah Palin and Utah Sen. Mike Lee. The former showed she’s still little than a loud mouth rhetoric firebrand the latter showing the potential to be reading the tea leaves.
Sarah still stupid may seem harsh but I never liked this woman and like her even less when she opens her mouth lately. This weekend she exclaimed among other things the following:
“I want to encourage you to make your voice heard, to hold politicians accountable,”
That’s good stuff no matter the context but it is rather general and common sense stuff as well.
“They promised that they would do everything in their power to fight against socialized medicine, against Obamacare, but when it came time to stand and defund it, they waved the white flag of…
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The reality on the ground right now doesn’t change the fact that Representative Joe Wilson is a horse’s ass. However …
When the evil liberal media calls you a liar, Mr. President you’ve got a major problem. Obama told the American people repeatedly that “if you like your insurance you won’t have to change it.”
While Obama defenders split hairs about how many folks WILL have to switch policies the fact remains that Obama’s statement absent of any caveats was a flat out lie and the evil liberal media reports that this time Obama can’t claim ignorance. He knew he was lying.
You CANNOT implement sweeping ground breaking legislation and sell it with lies.
The nobility behind the ACA will have a hard time seeing sunlight so long as it’s buried under a pile of incompetence and dishonesty.
Last Wednesday night there was no hiding the joy of the MSNBC anchors at the total and utter failure of the Republican attempt to bring the country to its knees over Obamacare. Schultz had his usual swagger. Maddow took the usual analytical approach and had an index card for every “ransom” demand the Republicans made and lost, reading each one aloud and tossing it in the air with a “didn’t get that” and a grin on her face.
But for sheer over the top drama betraying a clear animosity for conservatives, the prize must go to Martin Bashir. Martin quoted Oliver Cromwell from his address dismissing Parliament in 1653. Martin said the words apply today. I could not find a link to an intact video of Bashir’s closing moment of his show but I did screen capture the text of Cromwell that Bashir read from in his best theatrical British accent.
It is really hard to gauge how one should react to this. I viewed the Republican shut-down tactic as plain stupid. It didn’t really inspire any animosity in me. So at first blush I found Martin’s dramatic recitation absolutely hilarious. But if we bother to take Bashir seriously, then we must conclude he has a real hatred for at least part of the Conservative movement.
In fact, if we look at the entire “drop dead” reaction of the left to the Ted Cruz inspired revolt, one must draw a much bigger conclusion. The days of liberals saying “I’m a lover, not a fighter” appear to be long gone. We have a government in which each side (with exceptions of course) truly hates the other. While the people of this great nation just want to get up in the morning and go to work, our government is engaged in a multi-level civil war — Democrats against Republicans and Old School Republicans against the Tea Party. The only thing we have not yet witnessed (unlike in other legislative bodies around the world) is an actual fist fight breaking out on the floor of the House. At his point, I wouldn’t rule that out in the not-so-distant future.
STEREOTYPE ALERT: I hereby warn the reader that the observation in this post is based entirely on a stereotype. As a black man, I tend to dislike stereotypes but once in a while I find them instructive. My apologies in advance.
Rewind 32 years. The scene is a residence hall at Harvard University called Mather House. It is where I spent three of my four undergraduate years. The place is what I will call “the TV room”, a common area with a large screen TV mounted on the wall. About a dozen of us are assembled, paying attention in varying degrees to what is being broadcast. A nerdy white kid stands up and approaches the TV and says “can I change the channel?” After a second or two of silence, a very serious young black student glares at the kid and simply says “NO!”. The attempted channel changer sheepishly sits back down and the room stops cold with an uncomfortable silence. The decision has been made definitively. No discussion, no debate. I chuckled to myself about it at the time and still do to this day. Typical of most liberal arts colleges, everything was up for debate and the more lengthy the debate, on any subject no matter how trivial, the better. It was a by-product of being “intellectual”. And my brotha was having none of it. It exemplified for me a difference between blacks and WASPs in particular that the former preferred to get down to basics while the latter preferred debate and back-and-forth.
Fast forward to 2013 and the government shut down (and debt ceiling) crisis. After Republicans tried to tie the end of Obamacare as we know it to a continuing resolution to fund the government and keep it running, Democrats in the Senate essentially said “oh no you didn’t!” A loyal reader of this blog posted an excerpt of a story stating that the “no negotiation” strategy, while being mouthed by Obama, is really being enforced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In fact, according to this source, Democrats want Obama as far from the bargaining table as possible for fear of the concessions he might make. So Harry has taken control and he has not budged an inch.
Republicans have succeeded in making him look a wee bit reprehensible when he won’t even allow a vote on small resolutions that would fund the government piecemeal but at least offer some relief to those currently suffering. But Harry has been a rock. Perhaps a comparison to Israel is better than my white/black dichotomy? Israel refuses to negotiate with hostage takers and their basic stance is “kill them and then we will retaliate but we’re not cutting any deals with you.” Harry simply will not forgive the GOP for their Obamacare stunt and even though there is no longer talk of defunding Obamacare right now, it was this original stunt that poisoned any possibility for deal making. Reid is basically saying, “you came to play like a thug and that is how I am going to treat you.”
To further my original analogy, let’s not forget that Obama spent most of his youth among intellectuals, whether at prep school or Ivy League institutions. Obama has virtually no “street” in him at all. Reid on the other hand was raised by a laundress for a brothel and was an amateur boxer. The quiet demeanor hides an approach much more suited to the street than to the Senate.
As I think back to 32 years ago, all I can say is when Senator Ted Cruz and the merry band of lunatics he inspired in the House asked “can I change the channel?’, Harry Reid glared at them and decisively said “NO!”
Do you look around and think life is starting to look like the distorted images reflected in the amusement park House of Mirrors? If so, you’re not alone. Virtually none of these observations are original — hell, lots of people and pundits are talking about them — but I wanted to get them documented for the record.
Ted Cruz in Need of Remedial Reading
During his 21 hour filibuster on the floor of the Senate, Ted Cruz of Texas read “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss. I think I read somewhere that he was really reading it to his kids who he thought were watching him on C-SPAN, as a bed time story. The great irony is that in the middle of a filibuster about rejecting Obamacare before it has even taken effect, he read a story about a creature who refuses to try green eggs and ham but in the end DOES TRY THEM AND LIKES THEM. Could the moral really be that Obama is “Sam I am” and Obamacare is Green Eggs and Ham?
Russia and America Allies (Sort of)
Regardless of how much you might distrust Vladimir Putin’s motives, the bottom line is that both Russia and the United States are getting what they want by Putin poking his nose into the Syria chemical weapons thing. Now, if Putin would just deport Edward Snowden, things might really be cozy.
Detente with Iran
Regardless of how much you might distrust Hassan Rouhani, the new President of Iran, the optimist in me says it is good that he is at least talking a good game. After years of Ahmadinejad talking like a madman, Rouhani is a bit of fresh air. Quite frankly, Netenyahu’s immediate rejection of him, calling him a wolf in sheep’s clothing, only further enforces my suspicion that Bebe is not the least bit interested in peace. Wouldn’t it take the wind right out of Benjamin’s sails if Iran finally decided that a vibrant economy was more important to it than nukes? One can only hope.
Is the Pope Catholic?
In recent weeks Pope Francis has said that the church over-obsesses about abortion and homosexuality. He has suggested that God loves homosexuals much as He loves others. He has even gone so far as to suggest that atheists who “follow their conscience” will be in God’s good graces. All this is not quite enough to make me convert but it sure makes it harder for me to be critical. This Pope serves the purpose that I believe religion should serve in every day life — as consolation to the downtrodden and spiritual nourishment to those faltering. 34 years ago my college roommate asked me “do you love?” I replied “yes”. He shot back at me “then you believe in God.” What a beautiful notion of faith — that it is overwhelmed by love of self and others. This Pope seems to be on that trip, and my hat is off to him.
Why Don’t We Care About Each Other Anymore?
A few weeks ago a woman called me on my job very upset that her dog was locked in her car. Assuming that some public agency could get help to her faster than I could, I put her on hold and called the police, the fire department and even animal control. NO ONE WOULD HELP. That’s right, not a single public agency representative gave a flying fig that this woman’s dog might die in her car from the heat. The good news is that while I searched in vain for help, she was able to get help on her own. As an aside, she assumed the worst about me and reported me as negligent despite the fact I had done everything I could to help her. The public agencies thought she was worthless and she in turn thought I was worthless.
A couple of weeks ago, a man walked into the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. and shot the place up. The top two questions that the media focused on were “how did someone with his psychological profile get security clearance to work at the Navy Yard?” and “how did someone with his profile get a gun?” While both were reasonable questions, the most important question was asked almost as an afterthought. This man told authorities he heard voices in his head. He did not receive help. Were folks just too busy? This man essentially asked for help because he knew that he was a danger to himself or others. Why didn’t anyone care enough about him to get him the help he needed? That was the fundamental question that should have been asked. Why didn’t someone intervene in this man’s life to help him?
On the flip side was the story of Antoinette Tuff, a school book-keeper who calmed down a mentally ill man who had entered her school with an AK-47. In her short encounter with the man, caught on a 911 tape, she probably showed him more respect than he had received from anyone in a long time. When he agreed to give himself up she said, “I want you to know I love you and I’m proud of you, It’s a good thing you’re just giving up. Don’t worry about it. We all go through something in life.”
This true hero met danger head on with compassion. In that moment, she convinced that man that someone cared about him. That made a difference and I believe it makes a difference in everyone’s life. I have had the good fortune of always having someone in my corner, whether it was my parents, or a teacher, or my wife and precious daughter. I’ve always known that at least someone cared about me.
There is so much anger in this country right now. Why don’t we take a page from Miss Tuff? She is right. We all go through something in life. Why don’t we help each other get through it?