Sunday, December 25, 2011

Letter to Ray McFadden, My Father-in-Law...

Dear Ray,

I want you to know that I can’t be there with you this Christmas because in my heart, the reality of losing you is far too much like losing my dad all over again.

My absence this Christmas should send no message to anyone other than to serve as an indication of my cowardice, but I’m far braver when I write, so please allow me to be brave, and candid, with you now.

Next to Harry O’Brien, you are the kindest, sweetest man I’ve ever known. Although at first I know this was not an easy thing for you to do, you accepted me into your family 30 years ago. Now, 30 years later, I believe you know in your heart how much I love and am committed to Rosemary, and to all of you.

Even before Row and I were married, you were always kind and generous, Ray, always my second-father.

Thank you for sharing yourself all these years and for your abiding patience with me. Thank you also for the father you’ve been to your children, the husband you’ve been to your wife, the friend you’ve been to my folks, and the second-father you’ve been to me and my sisters.

The world will only be a sorrier place without you, but let me assure you that it has been a good and wonderful place with you. Please know this. Please know you’re a good and wonderful man, Ray, by anyone’s measure.

And please know, please believe, that good and wonderful men should have no fear of anything… of anything.

In closing, please don’t worry about your family, Ray: I’ll help however I can.

Knowing you has been my privilege, a real and true honor, and I love you far more than I can ever express. I hope you know this by now.

Always affectionately, always lovingly, always respectfully, your son-in-law,


Saturday, December 17, 2011

What does "theocracy" even mean?

What does the word theocracy actually mean and what would qualify as a theocratic government? (I'll leave the reader to look up the terms.)

Republican candidate Michele Bachmann keeps complaining in debates and the media about a "Muslim conspiracy" to create an "Islamic theocracy,"a "worldwide caliphate" that subjects everyone to "Shariah law."

OK. For the moment, let's assume she's not criminally insane and has... gulp... a legitimate argument.

What about
her religion's beliefs?

What about the many Christians who claim that only believers in Jesus can get to heaven, to the exclusion of any other religion's belief in their version of heaven?

What about the artificial litmus test that questions a candidate's religious beliefs?

What about the Christian right's obvious, and decades-old desire to put a Christian president in office and, moreover, to elect Christian candidates at every level of public office?

How many times have we heard a Christian politician say he receives some divine inspiration regarding a decision he has to make, or a Christian candidate who claims he was "called by God" to run?

Do these same Christian politicians not follow the Christian bible as the foundation of their religion and thought process, much like Muslims follow their bible, the Quran?

Do these same Christian politicians not also say that they believe in God and
then country?

So how, then, do these Christians differ in their beliefs and goals from the Muslims who Ms. Bachmann is forever whining about?

The answer is... they don't. A theocracy is a theocracy is a theocracy, no matter if it's Muslim, or Jewish, or Christian, or whatever: it's still a theocracy.

The framers of our constitution had the brains to realize that religion and government don't mix. (See Article Six of the US Constitution where it says "...
but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.") Sadly, Ms. Bachmann doesn't, so if she wants everyone to fear life under an Islamic theocracy, then they should also fear life under the Christian theocracy that she would run as POTUS.

P.S. As an interesting aside, check out this link. Ms. Bachmann is dissembling.

Face it, Republicans, your presidental candidates have sucked for years...

For the last three decades, pundits have blasted the president holding power. No matter who was in office, he could never do anything good or right, as far as the other side was concerned. Each of the two major parties has demonized the other.

Past presidents are either vilified (Jimmy Carter by the Republicans; George Bush the younger by Democrats) or glorified (Ronald Reagan by, you guessed it, the Republicans). Scores of books have been written on how to talk to "Democrat" liberals, why they're fools, and why Republican conservatives are the only people who can save the world.

But since Saint Ronald left the Whitehouse, you can't name a conservative who has lived there. Not one.

Nope. The two Bushes were anything but conservatives, not in the sense that Rush and Ann and Glenn and Sean and the Tea Party mean the word. Both Bushes did things that the most conservative of the Republican Party hated, like raise taxes (Poppy Bush) or create unfunded mandates (Shrub) that drove up deficits. These were hardly conservatives standing firm, holding high the conservative banner. In truth, their vice-presidents (Quayle and Cheney, respectively) were far more conservative than either of their bosses, with Cheney the most conservative by far.

So the disconnect for the Republican Party has become one of relative depth of belief, which has led to a war within the party itself, a war that is tearing the party apart.

Sure, this same sort of schism exists in the Democratic Party as the most liberal end blasts the Democratic president as not being liberal enough. They question how liberal the president actually is. This happened with Jimmy Carter, it continued with Clinton, and is happening the most loudly with Obama. The most ideological wing of each party is never satisfied with the ideological purity of their party's president.

But, what's happening with the Republicans now, in this election cycle, is somehow different: the most conservative end of the Republican Party simply doesn't trust its candidates and the moderate end of the Republican Party actually hates them, almost to a person, and is actively working to undermine them. What used to be the job of the Democratic Party has become the job of the Republican Party.

There is not one Republican candidate in the running who either Republican ideology can truly get behind and support. To each ideological wing, each candidate is deeply, deeply flawed in some way. The most conservative are pissed because those running for president are anything but conservative; they're seen as fakes, panderers, moderates masquerading as conservatives (aka RINOs). The most moderate are pissed because none of the candidates pandering to the right, or those claiming to actually be far far right of center, will be able to beat Obama, which is their primary concern. But is this new?

What true conservatives have the Republicans fielded in the last few primary cycles? Gary Bauer? Steve Forbes? Pat Robertson? Elizabeth Dole? Dan Quayle? Alan Keyes? Pat Buchanan? Newt Gingrich? Herman Cain? Rick Santorum? Michele Bachmann?


These conservatives might be able to win the presidency of their neighborhood associations, but not the country. Never. Not a prayer. Nominee Dole didn't stand a chance in 1996, and in 2000, nominee Shrub was elected primarily because of a leg-up from the Supreme Court, with a --- perhaps arguable --- nudge from Ralph Nader in Florida. I am not saying Gore would have been a better president, but I am saying he was a far better candidate. (OK... I am saying he would have been a better president: we at the very least would not have gone into Iraq; Afghanistan, maybe, but not Iraq.)

And this has been the problem for the Republicans in the last several election cycles: they have become really bad at fielding candidates who (A) they actually like or (B) stand even a ghost of a chance of winning, let alone receiving their party's nomination, and
they have become really good at (A) pissing and moaning about the candidates who are running and (B) rationalizing why the people who aren't running would be so much better.

The Republicans better realize, and fast, that this country is nowhere near as conservative as they want it to be, and they better change their 20-year trend toward insanity by trying to do the same thing again and again.

Otherwise, they're headed toward another four years of a Democrat in the Whitehouse, as well as another four years of blaming one another for why he's still there, which will lead to something far worse for them: a real schism within their party along purely ideological lines, which will become a total split, and will eventually render the Republican Party into smallish intensely ideological pieces of what it once was when it was able to field Ronald Reagan, its self-professed conservative standard-bearer.