Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Tax is a Tax

Obamacare is a tax. For those of us that object to its goals and structures, the solution is simple: repeal and replace as soon as possible.

Today's ruling was not a mandate for the Administration. It was a narrow ruling on constitutionality and taxation, not an endorsement of one of the worst bills in U.S. history.

Attorney General Holder was found in contempt of Congress, with 110 Democrats acting like silly undergrads and refusing to vote.

Democratic leaders were gleefully tweeting obscenities at their Republican losers. The only losers are the productive part of the American populace that will be forced to pay higher prices and receive poorer service for their medical care.

I am channeling my anger to action, my frustration to faith. 10% of Catholics switching their vote and 5% more pro-life people voting and we have a change of Administration in November.

Yes, I expect this desperate Administration will try to generate some kind of October surprise to sway the 10-15% of voters that decide at the last minute. Our best hope is humility, truth, vigilance and relentless prayers as we face the most important election since 1860.

By thw way, we are also voting for Congressional leaders, governors, mayors, city/town councils and thousands of other offices and statutes...politics is still (in spite of Obama's narcissism) local.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Petulant President

Today the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Arizona law enforcement has the right to check the immigration status of persons under arrest for other crimes. It is important to note that no one of any culture or race can simply be stopped and asked to "show their papers." In fact, the Court struck down much of the Arizona law, but the retention of this one provision has provoked a series of responses that reveal the true colors of our petulant, power-hungry despot-in-chief. Within minutes of the Court's ruling, the Administration declared that they would no longer cooperate with Arizona in any matter pertaining to this law. Obama's minions went further and set up a hot line for folks who feel mistreated by this law.

At first glance, this seems to smack of election-year pandering for Hispanic votes. While this is true, the insidious nature of this response to our legal process unmasks a nefarious agenda that reaches well beyond a few swing-state votes. What we are observing are the strategies and tactics of statism, practiced by totalitarians for more than a century. At the heart of the Obama Administration is contempt for the average citizen and the genuine belief that they know what is best for the masses. The strategy is to mobilize the disaffected that believe in more federal largesse and cultural elites that desire maximal private excess. When a leader unites these two groups and has a few business folks in her or his pocket, the stage is set for dictatorial rule. Contempt for the Constitution, the rule of law, traditional virtues, private enterprise and conservative religious traditions (except Islam) are all part of the package and provide direct parallels with another era: one dominated by the evil twin towers of Hitler and Stalin.

Add to these offenses the Imperial cloak of "executive privilege" for concealing needed documents and buying off cronies and the stage is set for the end of the American experiment in virtue-based liberty.

In foreign policy, the offenses are even more destructive for the forces of liberty and truth. The Arab Spring has devolved into the Islamicist winter, threatening any sparks of democracy and the very existence of Israel. Obama's strategy of outreach to Islamic groups and networks is more than failure - it has opened the door for aggrandizement by the radicals that lurk just beneath the surface of so many cultural and economic networks.

The upcoming election is the most important moment in American political history since Abraham Lincoln assumed the presidency. Lincoln faced a divided Union and the consequences of the founders failure concerning slavery. Today we have a nation unable to engage in civil debate, with fortunes made through victimhood, wealthy power-brokers appearing to care for the poor they never encounter and disdain for the checks and balances of our great Constitution.

Our petulant President deserves defeat in November. But the key to our future is more than the current occupant of the White House. "We the People" must be a civil, infomed citizenry taking responsiblity for our nation's future.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Encountering Immortals

Everyday we encounter immortals. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, every person we meet is on a trajectory to everlasting glory or eternal shame. They will either dazzle with dignity or repulse with reprobation. We are (mercifully) not the judge of anyone's destiny and we are called upon to offer hope for the best eternal and and temporal life possible as each person decides which path to pursue.

Part of America's greatness rests upon liberty of conscience and religion and limited governmental or social interference in private adult behavior. We argue passionately about ethics and religion, but we do so safe in the knowledge that our Founders secured the freedom to practice any or no faith and live peaceably with our deepest differences.

In a future essay I will comment on the importance of a pluralitic nation defending heterosexual monogamous marriage as a vital economic, moral and social institution. In this brief work, I want to encourage greater civility and mutual respect by reordering our thinking about one another. This does not mean a compromise of deeply-held values or suppression of debates over public policy.

To my friends in the GLBTQ movements: Your adult choices are yours, but insisting that everyone approve all of them is a form of intolerance just as onerous as the traditional prejudice you have been subjected to by others.

To my traditional friends: Some of your neighbors have feelings and make choices contrary to your beliefs. But they are more than their choices in some areas of life. They are artists and engineers, laborers and professors, the folks that serve your lunch or send out your paycheck.

The immortals we encounter are first human beings with a vocation from God to care for the community and planet and use their gifts well. Second, these neighbors are men or women. Third, they have histories and hopes worth exploring. Fourth, they have feelings and thoughts on life worth listening to. THEN, fifth, they have their particular orientation. If we can learn to think in this order, life will be more enjoyable even as we debate the nature of personal and social choices.

Recently a friend commented that our sex-obsessed culture has made erotic passions more important than ethical choices. Whether bi, gay or straight, being human means we are more than mere instinct. We are creative, moral, relational and spiritual beings able to channel affections and actions in ways that create a better future for others.

Let's never lose the wonder of the immortals we meet every day. Let's live the words of I Corinthians 13 bearing and believing, enduring and hoping, exercising patience and rejoicing in the good. Such love that seeks God's glory and the good of others is the only foundation for civil debates and decisions affecting millions of people and our civilization's future.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Laughter and Tears

We need to laugh more.

Not the cynical chuckles of the chattering classes or the derisive digs of cable TV narcissists. I am speaking of joyful, spontaneous, from-the-belly laughter that comes when we are with good friends observing and reflecting on the human drama. Life is just funny sometimes. Watching children play in the mud, teenagers try to impress each other and the not-so-subtle rituals of daily life evoke smiles and guffaws. Hearing a good pun - intended or not - is a cause for grinning. Great comedic acting and physical comedy, from Dick Van Dyke to Robin Williams, helps us forget our stress and marvel at what our brains and bodies can do.

We need more tears.

There should be a lump in our throats when "Taps" is played and we remember our fallen soldiers. Watching soldiers reunite with their families moistens our eyes. When we hear or see the oppression of the vulnerable anywhere we ought to taste bitter tears flowing from a heart of compassion. Joy can bring tears as unexpected kindness comes our way. Self-control is a noble discipline. It does not mean the absence of tears, but the ability to guard our reactions to the tears. America needs to weep for the missing 55 million since Roe v. Wade. But tears are also in reserve for the desperate ones looking for a way out of poverty and violence. It is good to cry during happy endings and weddings.

The antidote for all the anger we observe - from political rhetoric to the uncomfortable verbal joust next door - is a renewed commitment to live fully and well each day. If we will wake up and think about the glory of God and the good of others, we will laugh and cry more. If we defer some gratification we will enjoy the rewards of our sacrifice at the proper time. If we turn off the gratuitous nonsense and tune into great literature and music, the deepest wellsprings of our being are liberated.

Yes, we must work, vote, and fulfill other duties. We face enormous personal stress. But we can decide to live from the inside out, directing our affections and actions toward transforming our world instead of just surviving another day.

Let's laugh more. And cry more. When we do, we will love more as well.