Sunday, December 29, 2013

Looking forward. Is 2014 the year the GOP goes off the rails?

               Since the election of President Obama in 2008 the right wing blogisphere and the oppose at any cost caucus in the US House have screamed about the sky is falling.

They have voted to repeal the ACA forty or so times. They did this knowing there was no chance it would pass the Senate or be signed into law by the President. They have whined that there the ACA was passed with no Republican votes, a sign of tyranny by the majority. Excuse me there is no Constitutional requirement for bipartisanship. Guys, sometimes the minority loses. Why? Because they're a minority.

In October the Tea Party aligned members of the House took us to the brink of default over defunding the ACA. They once again did this knowing full well it had no prayer of passing the Senate or being signed into law. Pure political theater for the "freedom" base. Those who view any compromise as a betrayal and surrender. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) called those opposed to hostage taking as "The Surrender Caucus" of the Republican Party.

Rep.Darryl Issa (R-CA) has used his position as Chairman of the House Oversight Committee to wage assorted witch hunts in an attempt to cripple the President and justify any and all overreaches by the House.

Issa and others tried to use Benghazi, the new GOP Bettlejuice, as an issue to demonize the President in the run up to the 2012 reelection and damage potential 2016 candidate Hillary Clinton. Issa, McCain and others claimed a vast conspiracy to cover up what "really" happened. It was said to be worse that Watergate. Well, as someone who remembers Watergate I can only say, what? Are you crazy? The sane Americans rejected that argument reelecting President Obama.

We have seen the rise of a right wing in this nation who decries any sort of help, as in the social safety net, as socialism and tyranny Someone should remind them that if President Obama.was the tyrant they say he is they would be dead or in jail.

There has been a spike in gun ownership dating back to 2008 as people buy weapons to stockpile because the black guy is coming for their guns. These people see any restriction on ownership of firearms as unconstitutional. They view the Second Amendment as absolute. The others are either suggestions or evil and need to be repealed.

During the 2012 election cycle we saw the Republican hopefuls try to out Jesus each other as to who is the most Christian as they condemned the very existence of the social net as horrendous. Like many evangelicals they concentrate on the Old Testament rather than the book that actually has Jesus in it.

So, since the election of president Obama we have seen a perfect storm of a growth industry committed to any and all absurdest conspiracy theories, pushing them mainstream.

Recent history shows the Republican Party refuses to accept any Democratic President as legitimate. They can't believe a Democrat can win the White House without stealing the election and rejecting the GOP vision of America. The Republican Party spent the entire Clinton Presidency trying to bring him down. After spending millions of dollars on investigations they finally Impeached him. The Senate declined to convict. President Clinton, on the day he was Impeached, had a 60% approval rating.

Since the day Barack Obama took office there has been a constant drumbeat to impeach. It began in the way out there crazy ass nut jobs wing of the Republican party. As time went by we saw actual office holders say this tyrant has committed impeachable offenses. It has become kind of acceptable to mention impeachment as a viable option.

Since the August recess we have seen Republican office holders mention the I word.

Michelle Bachman (R-Klingon Empire) has said in her mind the President has committed impeachable offenses. I am afraid of what may actually be in her mind. Rep Louis Gohmert (R-Romulus) Thinks the President should be impeached. Senator Tom Coburn (R-18th Century) has said POTUS is dangerously close to impeachment. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Mordor) has said president Obama could be impeached but the Senate wouldn't vote for conviction. Rep ken Bentivolio (R-Wraith) has said impeachment would be a dream come true. This political theater is now mainstream.

The question is do these people have the clout in the House to force a committee to bring a bill of impeachment to the floor? They believe if that happens the House will vote to impeach.

The reasons for a true bill is as varied as the clowns calling for it. Benghazi. The ACA. The Birth Certificate. The list is long and nu.ts. Any actual scholar knows no impeachable acts have occurred. They know that an impeachment is simply a play to the rabid base with absolutely no prospect of the Senate concurring..

Will we see the House pushed by the far right into an impeachment action in 2014 the backlash would be amazing to watch. The American public seems to be tired of the House going off on it's Quixotic quests to undo the election of the President. I am hoping the sane Members would quash any Bill of Impeachment. If not? Well, the 2014 election cycle would be interesting.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ohio's image just needs the Victoria's Secret touch.Enter Les Wexner.

             In an end of the year talk to The Ohio Chamber of Commerce Governor John Kasich(R-OH) focused on accomplishments of 2013

According to Governor John Kasich Ohio has an image problem. He's sure people from say, California, won't move here because we lack an ocean and beaches. We don't have the"cool" factor.

As usual Kasich pounded the supply side talking points that passes as economic planning in the GOP. He touted bond sales backed by future Turnpike revenue to fund capital projects across the State. He passed on mentioning those projects would be a drop in the bucket when dealing with Ohio's crumbling roads and bridges.

He stressed we need to make Ohio more attractive by cutting the Income Tax. His eventual goal is to eliminate it. He mentions Texas as inspiration. He cited low taxes, low regulations and job growth as an admirable goal for Ohio to aspire to emulate.

Sorry. I don't think Texas is a State Ohio should emulate. Low wage, no benefit jobs. High poverty and teen pregnancy rate. A high number of uninsured people. A State school board more worried about teaching creationism than science.

If Kasich wants a more GM than Walmart job expansion, stay away from Texas style ideas.

So, Kasich feels the solution to Ohio's image problem is to get people to come check out Ohio. Once they see the lower cost of living here and how neat we are they'll come in droves.

I grew up in and spent most of my life in Columbus Ohio .I admit I do my share of whining, moaning and bitching about living here. OK, maybe more than my share.

Columbus Ohio skyline at night 
Even when Ohio was booming in the '90's Ohio had a reasonable cost of living. Much cheaper than SoCal, Chicagoland or the Big Apple.

I'll talk about Columbus since I know it better.

First off, we're not Chicago. That said we have a vibrant arts scene, a strong jazz tradition, excellent museums, theatre and cultural events. We have one of the largest Universities in the Nation dropped smack in the middle of town. The Ohio State University. It is a massive driver of arts, theatre, music and research. We also have a lot of small respected Liberal Arts Colleges close. The Columbus Metropolitan Library System is one of the Nation's best. The small, old suburb, Grandview Heights has the best small Library in the US.

The Central Ohio Metro Area has over a million people. However you can usually get from anywhere to anywhere else in a half an hour or so. Forty minutes at drive time. The worst traffic seems to be on Fall Saturdays near Ohio Stadium when The Buckeyes play at home. Ohio Stadium holds over 100,000 people. That's more than live in, say, Fayetteville Arkansas, home of the Razorbacks. Yeah, we put a small city in a stadium.

Columbus is also an island of progressive, diverse tolerant life in an ocean of red. Actually Columbus makes the top ten lists repeatedly for the most Gay friendly Cities.

All in all, a nice place to live for the Midwest. We do have a bit of an inferiority complex though. After all, when Leno wants a cheap laugh all he needs to say is Cleveland.

So, we now have Governor Kasich's plan to make Ohio a cool place to be.

With Ohio's economy trailing most of the Nation, with above national average unemployment the magic bullet to solve what ails Ohio is..a new marketing plan. We need to make Ohio a cool, sexy place to live. So, enter Les Wexner.

For you that live outside of Ohio Les Wexner owns The Limited, Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works. He has owned and spun off Abercrombie & Fitch, Tween, Lane Bryant and other iconic brands over the years. He's also the richest guy in Ohio. The OSU Medical Center is now The Wexner Medical Center. The premier theatre and arts center at Ohio State is The Wexner Center. Les recently made a 100 million dollar donation to OSU. I will say Les gives a lot of money here in town.
Les Wexner's yacht 

Now, Kasich has invited Wexner to re-brand Ohio. In fact he cited Victoria's Secret style campaign as fun. That'll play well in Boehner's District. Right. We have Fundies here that make Pentecostals look like Unitarians.

I think Les will be challenged. Let's look what he needs to overcome.

Ohio forbids same sex marriage and will not recognize legal marriages from other States. However a repeal and replace to legalize marriage equality is moving towards the ballot.

We have some of the most restrictive abortion regulation in the Nation and are ready to go farther in our quest to be Texas.

A couple times a year we relax our firearm regulation.

There is a push for Right To Work to crush Public and private Sector Unions.

We have pro life activists on the State Medical Board overseeing healthcare professionals in the State.

We have Tea Party creationists and charter school lobbyists on the State Board Of Education.

The State Budget throws money at failing charter schools by transferring it from public school funding.

Income tax was cut as the sales tax was raised and expanded.

We have a Public/Private unholy union to promote job growth here. It seems to be an unaccountable slush fund rife with conflicts of interest. Can't tell for sure because we're not allowed to look.

I think these problems are at the root of Ohio being uncool. You won't attract real growth as long as we are a Tea Party, repressive place for people to live. Without embracing equality and diversity we'll continue to see the best and brightest go elsewhere.

Wexner is a smart guy. Good luck with what you have to work with Les.
Short North, the funky arts, dining and drinking district

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Kasich gets a challenge from the Right.

               Well John Kasich has a talent for annoyance. You only have to look back at his career in the House or his tenure at FOX to see examples.

Since leaving the House in 2000 he has consistently claimed HE balanced the Federal Budget, ignoring it was a bi-partisan effort, signed by a Democratic President. Since then, Newt Gingrich has claimed credit during his 2012 run for the GOP Presidential Nomination. As has Bill Clinton. So, John's claim to fame gets a bit crowded.  Paraphrasing the old canard, Failure is an orphan, success, not so much.  During his campaign for Ohio Governor politi-fact rated his claims half true.That is pretty amazing for a politician.

During Kasich's run on FOX he hosted his own show, "From The Heartland" where he espoused his pseudo populist views and opinions. John was also the go-to guest host for Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly.On Hannity's show, Candidate Kasich was tossed softballs and Hannity stressed how important it was we take Ohio's top elected office. Rupert Murdoch kicked in a million dollars to Kasich's campaign.

Kasich squeaked into office with a two point victory in the WAVE election of 2010. Kasich won by 77,000 votes with Libertarian and Green challengers on the ballot. This was one of the closest elections for Governor in Ohio history.

Kasich blamed the collapse of Ohio's manufacturing based economy on high taxes,too much regulation and failed Democratic policies. The meltdown of the world's economy had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Kasich's vicious campaign touched on all the Tea Party political orgasm buttons.

So, like President Bush in 2004, he treated a tiny victory as a sweeping mandate. The Education portions of the Budget were slashed . Local monetary aid was gutted. The social safety net was shredded. Taxes were cut, favoring the wealthy. Draconian abortion bills were introduced to varying success.

Then they went after the Public Sector Unions and had their asses handed to them by Ohio voters.

Ohio once again was convincingly won by President Obama. This presented a quandary to the Ohio Tea Party controlled Republican Party. Due to massive gerrymandering and extremely creative redistricting the GOP effectively had a stranglehold on the Legislature. So, do they recognize that the Conservative attacks on social issues was rejected? No. Like most on the Right , they went with had the Candidate been a true conservative they'd have won denial.

So Ohio doubled down. They loosened gun laws. They enacted some of the most restrictive abortion regulation in the nation.  They rivaled Arkansas, North Dakota and Texas for taking a shot over the bow of Roe v Wade. The Legislature also ignored the Governor's call to expand Medicaid per the provisions of the hated ACA. Kasich pushed on his own party, the Majority in the Legislature, to act to provide low income Ohioans help with healthcare. They refused. It also fueled with anger with the let 'em die wing of the party.

So, citing his faith, Kasich used his line item veto on a provision forbidding expansion in Ohio. This immediately lit up the far right.They screamed betrayal. Kasich had turned his back on those who got him elected, they whined. There were calls for a challenge from the right. His action was immediately challenged in court.

So, Kasich responded by having his remaining allies push through what has been called "The John Kasich Reelection Protection Act". This is a change to how Third parties get ballot access. It is likely not going to survive judicial review. See, the law keeps the minor parties off the ballot for not polling 3% of the vote in 2012. OK. The problem is that was not a requirement to remain a party with ballot access in 2012. Changing the law after the fact is a no-no. It's called ex post facto. Most first year law students will tell you that's unconstitutional. That's not an interpretation. The Constitution actually bans the practice.

So, the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party and The Green Party have been legislated out of existence. They have to have a primary which they can't get on the ballot for. This law is so close to the primary filing deadline any court action may be too late to address the action. Thus Kasich is safe from having a candidate from the right siphoning off votes.

The Republican Legislature is also moving on voter suppression. I know, Ohio was the Northern Poster Child for it in 2012 until the courts (IncludingSCOTUS) smacked Secretary of State Jon Husted down. So, the legislature, undeterred, shortened early voting. They're going after acceptable ID. All to thwart non existent in person voter fraud. So they are either solving a problem that doesn't exist or trying to kneecap the opposition party and protect the Governor. These laws also reduce the minimum number of voting machines per precinct. Remember the videos of the lines in 2004? Let's do that again.

There were Right to Work bills introduced in the Legislature. Now, the last thing Kasich wants is another fight with labor energizing voter turnout as he seeks reelection. The sponsors of these bills were told to back off until AFTER the Gov is reelected.

John Kasich wants to be President. Please, stop laughing.

In 2000, fresh off singlehandedly balancing the Federal Budget, Kasich ran for the GOP Presidential Nomination. He had fundraising problems and repeatedly polled at 0% which is tough to do. His campaign collapsed under massive voter indifference. So, John withdrew and endorsed W. He went to work for FOX and Lehman Brothers.(Yeah, THAT Lehman Brothers)

FOX threw their support behind his campaign for Governor. Almost the day after President Obama's decisive reelection Kasich was being mentioned as a viable GOP hopeful for the 2016 nomination. Surprisingly these statements came from FOX talking heads. Since then in his appearances on the network Kasich has been handled with kid gloves. It seem Rupert and Ailes like him. Aww.

So, a cynic, such as myself, would say Kasich's actions on the 2012-13 budget are politically motivated.

The horrendous abortion regulations that were sneaked through in a budget, for example. Politically active friends of mine felt Kasich would use his line item veto to strike these regs. Kasich had been making small moves towards the center. He had called for expansion of Medicaid over howls from the right.

I saw Kasich use every media appearance to remind every one he was "pro-life" and always has been. He made sure to wave that banner in front of every news outlet. I was not surprised when he let those anti woman regulations stand, unscathed. He was touting his "pro-life" creds for the national base. He did this to attempt to offset anger over his veto of a Medicare expansion prohibition.

He's running.

It will be interesting. John tends to go off script. His handlers cringe when he opens his mouth. Right after he took office, he was given a traffic ticket. So, Kasich then spent time calling the officer an idiot. Yeah, it wound up on YouTube. Surprise. This as his party was trying to crush Public Sector Unions.

John also has anger issues. So there is always a possibility he could melt down in front of the National media. I think Hillary could make him go off.

His Presidential ambitions rest on him winning decisively in 2014. Thus pushing the Minor parties under the campaign bus. Thus keeping voters that don't support you from using their right to the ballot.

So, this weekend the President of The Ohio Liberty Coalition and a founder of the Clearmont County Tea Party Ted Stevenot took the first formal step to challenge Kasich in the 2014 Republican Primary. His running mate is said to be Brenda Mack, former president of The Ohio Black Republicans association.

We've seen from the earlier actions on voting and Minor Parties That the State GOP wants a clear path for Kasich. It seems that the Tea Party disagrees. No one really thinks Stevenot, should he run, actually has a prayer of upsetting Kasich. However, a Tea Party challenge tends to push a GOP candidate to the right. Kasich would tend to have a problem finding his way back to the center. John tends to go all pit bull as he campaigns not letting issues go.

Now, with a favorable court ruling letting the libertarian Party back on the ballot will cause problems for John if the race is tight. A year out the Democrat is in a virtual tie.

So, if the Minor party law is tossed in the courts, of which there is a decent chance, a Libertarian Candidate could siphon enough protest votes from disaffected Tea Party supporters to make a real difference in the results.

To run for President Kasich has to win big. A close election is nearly as damaging as a loss. I doubt after a loss he could emulate Rick Santorum. Santorum ran close in 2012 in spite of a crushing Senate loss in 2006.

So expect John to run his usual vicious campaign both in a primary challenge, which could farther erode his standing with the Tea Party, and the general election. Kasich thinks he can beat Hillary or anyone the Dems run. But, to do so he has to crush any opposition. He also has to bring his Tea Party infused Legislature in line.

It's gonna be fun to watch.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's official. Ohio is now Texas.

           It is official. Ohio is now Texas. For what seemed like forever carrying a concealed weapon was illegal in Ohio. There were no permits. All you had was an affirmative defense if you were caught. A business owner, for example, carrying large amounts of cash for deposit. Ohio's gun laws were no more crazy than most States. And more repressive than many.

Then came the 21st Century. The future. A new Millennium. When one would think we, as a people, would be moving forward, we decided to remake every bad western ever by relaxing our gun laws to the point of bare existence.

First concealed carry was shoved through the Republican Legislature over the very strong objections of law enforcement. Then it was made legal to carry in an establishment that serves liquor. You can be in a bar but you can't drink and carry. After all one shouldn't be inconvenienced by having to leave your weapon in your vehicle. Then it was decided letting people keep firearms in their car in the parking garage beneath the Statehouse was a good idea. Again a person who has a weapon shouldn't be inconvenienced.

Like most of the radical Republicans across the country the Second Amendment is sacrosanct. The others? Suggestions.

So, here in the Christmas season of Peace and Goodwill a gift is offered to the oppressed gun owners of Ohio. Anyone with a Concealed Handgun permit will now be able to carry any legal firearm, concealed. Anyone twenty-one or older who may own a firearm would be allowed to Concealed Carry with no permit required. Remember, this is Ohio. The frontier closed here 200 years ago. These aren't the cities of Dodge or Tombstone.

There is a reason for requiring permits.The person is trained(admittedly sort of trained,like a CPR class kind of training.). People who aren't allowed to have a firearm can't get a permit. So, felons for example, can't legally carry, concealed or otherwise. Or those who for what ever reason can not legally own a weapon. It's a measure of control over who walks our streets with a firearm on their hip under their shirt or jacket or in a purse. The State has an interest here.

As Introduced

130th General Assembly
Regular Session
H. B. No. 387

Representatives Hood, Lynch 

Cosponsors: Representatives Thompson, Adams, J., Brenner, Young, Becker, Roegner, Maag, Retherford 

To amend sections 109.69, 109.731, 1547.69, 2923.11, 2923.12, 2923.121, 2923.122, 2923.123, 2923.124, 2923.125, 2923.126, 2923.128, 2923.129, 2923.1210, 2923.1213, 2923.16, and 4749.10, and to enact section 2923.111 of the Revised Code to allow a person who has a concealed handgun license to carry concealed all firearms other than dangerous ordnance or firearms that state or federal law prohibits the person from possessing; to provide that a person 21 years of age or older and not legally prohibited from possessing or receiving a firearm by federal law does not need a concealed handgun license in order to carry or have concealed on the person's person or ready at hand a firearm and is subject to the same laws regarding carrying a concealed firearm as a person who has a concealed handgun license; and to amend the versions of sections 2923.124 and 2923.126 of the Revised Code that are scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2014, to continue the provisions of this act on and after that effective date.

Businesses are allowed to forbid weapons on their premises. This has caused some consternation among gun advocates that their right to carry is curtailed. It seems the business owner's right to run a safe weapons free establishment is secondary to the gun owner's in their mind. I seem to recall scattered protests when the law was passed but it's pretty much settled down to business as usual. The reasonable gun owner will respect the businesses rules. The unreasonable ones will carry in anyway requiring law enforcement to step in.

This is already being called Constitutional Carry. It's as if the Second Amendment gives any person the absolute right to carry a concealed weapon, simply because they want to. These people believe any regulation of firearms curtails their God Given right to scare the shit out of the general populace at will.

We see this in the old wild west and the God and Guns Old Confederacy. You don't see this much in the Old Union States. For years no one saw the need for concealed carry in Ohio. Then the gun enthusiasts pushed concealed carry through a friendly legislature after being stymied by Republican Governors who opposed on advice from law enforcement. Now, this legislature, after all the Gun Violence we've witnessed over the last couple decades, feel a compelling need to let anyone carry, concealed.

Maybe we should look at campaign contributions from the NRA? Maybe we should drug test them because they must be loaded or high to even consider this bill. Perhaps sanity will stop this from even getting out of committee. Though, I don't look at the current Legislature as excessively sane.

The climate in the United States is such we should not be gutting gun laws to allow a vocal minority the right to put our safety at risk. Their rights end where my right not to be shot starts. This is beyond the usual Tea Party insanity seen here in Ohio. We were sane. Now we're Texas. God help us all.



Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Conservavative America's uneasy relationship with the Pope and Catholicism..

               Pope Francis has ruffled the feathers of the American pseudo-christian politicians and the radio talkers. Looking back, it's probably not a huge surprise. They lash out at anyone who dares to get press with statements that disagree with their narrow worldview.

America has had an uneasy relationship with Catholicism and the Papacy that dates back to Colonial times. The Colony of Maryland was founded as a Catholic haven to escape the persecution of the Anglican Church in Great Britain. The British agreed to it to get rid of those pesky Papists. After all, the last Catholic Queen, Mary after whom Maryland was named, was beheaded by her half sister Elizabeth I.

There were Catholics spread around the Colonies. They were always in the minority and tended to maintain a low profile. As it is now Protestant denominations were the overwhelming majority.Catholics were viewed with suspicion and mistrust. A view that dates back to the Reformation and schism that broke the Vatican's hold on European politics and spiritual life. Anti-Catholic views came here with the British settlers. After the Revolution in some states Catholics were prohibited from holding office. Thomas Jefferson said,"History, I believe,furnishes no example of a priest ridden people maintaining a free civil government."

America didn't see a large growth in Catholic population until we started adding French and Spanish Colonies. The Louisiana Purchase and Florida. This didn't really change things much as these areas were distant from the major population centers. The only real change was there were now Catholics in the House and Senate. For much of it's history politics in America weren't religion driven. However anti Catholic bias is as deeply ingrained in America as is racism. Intolerance is a traditional American value.

The bias came to light again as America saw a large influx of Catholic immigrants from Catholic Europe. Ireland and Italy primarily.

With the Irish there was the dominant British view that they were also sub human. In places there was an argument as to whether the Irish were even white. The Catholic immigration was seen as destroying traditional American values. They couldn't be trusted as they put loyalty to the Papacy above loyalty to America.

Following the Civil War in the old South, even Catholic Louisiana, the KKK fought to defend American values from the Whore of Babylon. They suffered the same violence as did the freed slaves. Beatings, intimidation, Cross Burning and lynchings were the methods of choice.
The tensions grew to the point a political party grew to fight the planed take over by the demonic Catholics, The Know-Nothing Party. Most States added Constitutional language prohibiting public funds to be used for Parochial Schools. There were violent clashes in Philadelphia and New York City.

Catholics tended to ghettoize along ethnic neighborhoods. Irish areas. Italian areas. Polish neighborhoods. As populations grew, Catholics became a political force in the big cities. With getting out the vote they wrested control from the established Protestant politicians and ruling class. The organized Catholic power was denigrated as "The Machine."

Growing Catholic political power left the tension bubbling beneath the surface of American life in the big cities. For example, my Maternal Grandfather and Great Uncle were two Catholic boys in a Protestant neighborhood in Cleveland. There was also one African American family. So, the three boys fought their way to and from school everyday in the late 19th Century..

Catholic political power grew far faster than acceptance of Catholics. This was evident in the breakdown of voting patterns of the presidential run of Al Smith in 1928. He won Catholic strongholds and was hammered in Protestant America.

During WWII, Protestants from across America served next to Catholics. They lived, drank, whored , fought and died together. The Protestants found out Catholics didn't eat children and were people like them. Following the war the tension eased but simmered in conservative areas. There seemed to be an uneasy acceptance, seasoned with distrust.

This came to the fore again in 1960 when a Catholic war hero from Boston ran for President. The prevailing view of Catholics was questioning of their loyalty to America. It was widely believed a Catholic President would serve the Pope first .Jack Kennedy addressed that idea in a historic speech to Protestant religious leaders in Houston Texas. That speech may be the most compelling look at the separation of church and state by an American politician in our history. JFK not only rejected Papal control of him as an American he reaffirmed the idea that America is a secular nation and faith should not be used as a criteria of policy.

The election of Jack Kennedy ended overt demonetization of Catholicism in mainstream American life. It was no longer an overriding issue in politics as a factor if a person was fit to hold office.

In the latter part of the Twentieth Century as the power of Evangelical Christians rose, seizing on cultural issues to to drive policy, they allied with conservative Catholics on the Abortion issues. It was and is an uneasy alliance. Many Evangelicals still see the Pope as an agent of Satan and from time to time as the Anti-Christ.

With moderate and conservative Catholics sitting on the Throne Of Peter there was no real issue. In fact we saw a rise of extreme conservative Catholic politicians come to the national quest for office. They aligned themselves with the Evangelical right on social issues. At times they espoused religious views and ideas that had been abandoned by the Catholic Church. Rick Santorum comes to mind.

In 2012, Santorum ran strong in the GOP presidential Primaries by drawing more support from evangelicals than Catholics. His view of Catholicism was more in line with the Church of the Inquisition than the modern version of Catholicism. He supported the withholding of Communion from Catholic office holders who did not toe the line on abortion. He spoke highly of faith above secularism as a basis of government. Santorum not only condemned JFK's Houston speech, he said it nauseated him. Santorum viewed Separation of Church and State as a myth and secular plot to drive Christianity from the public arena. He is the leader of what I like to call the Torquemada wing of Catholicism as I think he would not be opposed to the return of the Inquisition.

Now there is a new Pope. This didn't cause any concern with right wing Americans because they were used to catholic support and alliance. Then Pope Francis opened his mouth.

This Pope is from South America where a social justice version of Christianity is preached. The church there harkens back to the Christ of the Gospels who threw the money changers out of the Temple. The Christ that fed the masses and denounced wealth as a means to enter heaven.

When he recently denounced "trickle down economics" the bedrock of American conservatism and spoke against "unfettered capitalism" as God's plan there was panic and heads exploding in the US.

How dare the Pope speak of those issues, let alone condemn them? Obviously he is not a true Catholic because he dares to call for compassion. He is a Marxist for reminding us what Jesus actually preached. A Pope who wants to tend his flock in an actual  Christian manner.

Then to top it off, President Obama quotes this Pope. Now that proves the Pope isn't Christian since the secret African Muslim in the White House quotes him.
This Pope has angered the severe right here by not condemning atheism, secularism and homosexuality as the signs of the coming end times. He dares to differentiate Catholicism from Evangelical protestant sects. It doesn't play into the idea of Christian persecution in America that is such a rallying cry for the right.The very fact that Francis and the President are speaking out on rampant economic inequality as a threat to the world order is proof they are both Commie, socialist Christ haters.

What the right ignores is Catholics like Rick Santorum don't represent modern American Catholicism. For years of American Catholics have been condemned as Cafeteria Catholics. They pick and choose what parts of dogma to accept. This Pope, reordering the priorities, is more in line with the average American Catholic than any Pope in memory. He could actually help bring a resurgence of American Catholicism.

The intolerant Evangelical reactionaries ignore Catholic devotion to aiding the poor and uplifting the downtrodden while praising the opposition to birth control and abortion. Pope Francis' statement that there shouldn't be a fixation on Gays and abortion started the right wing meltdown.

These people have warped their view of Christianity into a supplyside path to paradise. The poor are reviled. Those who don't buy into the hateful rhetoric are cast aside as secularist, an opponent of a theocratic America where wealth is adulated.

What has been funny is now that Pope Francis has expressed this new take on the Gospel, they are saying there is no place for religion in politics. These right wing talkers don't even recognize their own hypocrisy in those statements.

With the right's revulsion of any point of view that doesn't conform to their worldview I wonder how long till Catholicism is once more reviled. I wonder if it will be spoken of as a threat to Christianity on par with Islam. Will Mike Huckabee and Pat Robertson blame support for the Pope for natural disasters and tragedies?

Stranger shit has been spoken by them. They are remembering the Catholic Church is the enemy.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

So this is Christmas.

               OK. It's December. Christmas decorations have been in a lot of stores since Halloween. A couple of radio stations here have been playing 24/7 Christmas music since November first.They used to wait till Thanksgiving. Everybody used to wait till Thanksgiving since it was usually a month from Christmas.

Over the last couple decades there seems to have been mission creep. The Christmas shopping season started the day after Thanksgiving. That's also about the time the outside decorations went up.When we were children Mom would bundle us up, put us in the DeSoto Firedome or Plymouth wagon and drive around town to look at the lights. With Dad working nights she needed a hobby, I guess. The Drive-In movies were closed, after all.

Christmas music was interspersed with the top 40 on WCOL AM or WMNI AM radio stations. You heard Muzak versions in stores in the shopping centers. There were only five shopping centers in Columbus, Ohio then. Malls were still a few years off in the future. Downtown was still alive and vibrant.

Lazarus, THE DEPARTMENT STORE, always had a massive display in the windows. Moving trains, an animated North Pole with elves and sleighs, wooden soldiers and Reindeer. There was a raised walkway for us kids to peer through the glass at the animatronic magic.

The electric powered buses disgorged shoppers onto full sidewalks. I remember well the brisk air and bustling crowds as we hit the four big stores. The aforementioned Lazarus(the founding store of Federated Department Stores now rebranded as Macy's), The Union, which was our local version of Nordstoms's, Morehouse Fashion, (upscale) and J.C.Penney's.

We'd stop at Mill's Cafeteria. It had a huge neon windmill sign with moving blades. A Saturday Downtown was a big deal.The Christmas throng didn't seem as harried. There were no stampede's. No one was trampled or tased.

Then things changed. Slowly but surely. A mall opened in the north side of Columbus. Northland. The first enclosed Mall opened in the late Sixties on the far east side, in what was still a rather rural area. Hell a mile away was a small General Aviation field with a grass runway. It was gone soon as development exploded.  The last local leg of I-70 opened a mile from the Eastland Mall. Strip centers were built surrounding the      mall. Downtown was dying as business moved to the suburban Malls and strip centers. The same story the rest of the nation experienced. The Outer Belt around Columbus was finished in the mid-Seventies. Central Ohio saw and thousands of acres vanish beneath commercial development and cookie cutter subdivisions. Farther and farther out, north,south,east and west.                                                                                                                    

Then came the Seventies and Eighties.The crowds grew larger. The shoppers were more driven as advertising pummeled them with the latest must have. People jostled and wrestled for the last Cabbage Patch Kid. Or Millennium Falcon with flashing lights. It wasn't just Christmas. Everything was faster. Bigger. More harried. All holidays were commercial touchstones as the original meanings became hazy, at best. Today it is simple insanity.

Then, I think in the Eighties, you started hearing about a war on Christmas. I wasn't really paying attention. I was too busy getting divorced and moving back to Ohio from Wyoming. From what I remember this "war" coincided with the rise of Evangelical Churches as powerful political and social forces.

We weren't religious. Dad didn't care. Mom was a Good Friday Catholic. She would drag us kids to Mass once a year. She had to cue us on standing and kneeling. We had no clue what the Hell was going on.

I grew up in a house where racism and bigotry was casual. Blacks, Jews, Italians, Hillbillies and Holy Rollers were all derided. And WhiteTtrash. I heard every joke, stereotype and cliche growing up. It's not that my parents were bad people but they grew up in a totally different America. My father was born five years after the First World War ended. 

Bi-Planes and Model T's were high tech. There was still a lot of four legged horse power at work in rural Ohio. My Father helped wire his Brother-In-Law's early 19th century log home for power when the REA came through the farms ten miles west of Columbus. Neither of my Parents changed their views over the years.

Even so, I remember as a young child, I asked why the stores had Holiday sales instead of Christmas. My father said not everyone was a Christian and we needed to have enough respect not to embarrass them by saying,"Merry Christmas". This was 1959 or 1960, somewhere around there. Happy Holidays was simple good manners.

Manners. That's all. Christmas movies still played the matinees for kids at the second run houses. You bought Christmas trees and decorations. You sang carols. You gave presents. You watched the Christmas specials. Pretty much like now without downloads or streaming or blu ray players.. 

There was a fly in the ointment though. Isn't there always?

We had the big Christmas display at the Downtown Lazarus. Which was owned by a Jewish family. They knew the market. There is a locally based Insurance Company, State Auto, which for as long as I can remember has put up a large, life size, Nativity Scene in front of Corporate Headquarters.Other Companies celebrate Christmas also. No problem. Churches have their displays. Likewise, no problem.

The problem comes when there are exclusively Christian displays put up on Publicly owned property. That seems like State Sponsorship of a particular religion. Which is expressly forbidden by the US Constitution. When the United States was more homogeneous with most of the population from white, Christian, European Nations there was no real conflict. When about 99% of the population is celebrating, no one really complained.

As we rolled out of the Fifties into the Sixties and began the long arduous task of dismantling our apartheid, some began to realize we had strayed from the intent of the Founding Fathers to keep the Government neutral in Religious matters.

So in 1962 and 1963 SCOTUS ruled forced prayer in schools was unconstitutional. I was in Fifth and Sixth Grades as that happened. Like I mentioned earlier we are not a religious family. I was always self conscious and uncomfortable reciting the Lord's Prayer, in unison, with the class. I was always afraid of getting it wrong, then dealing with the ensuing ridicule that would come from my peers. Even then I saw no point in a prayer to start the day. I was simply mouthing words that were meaningless to me. I may ,even then, have been developing an attitude about authority which I have since honed into an admirable skill.

I vaguely remember the Baptists being unhappy in my classes. I also remember the outrage shown on the CBS Evening News. I recall seeing the Impeach Warren signs on TV. So as the Sixties progressed the High Court struck down laws that were blatantly unconstitutional. These are now cited as the opening salvos of the war on Religion/Christianity/Christmas.

As fervor grew in the Eighties we started seeing, Televangelists mostly, decrying persecution as American secularists waged a war on Christmas. As the biggest celebration it was a de facto war on Christianity. As an agnostic at best, I thought their views and hurt feelings were absurd. Why? The United States is overwhelmingly a nation of people who define themselves as Christians of one sort or another. This includes the devout, the  Sunday Mass or service only believers, the shows up to just be seen in church and the I-Don't-Go-To-Church-But-I'm-a-Christian, Christians.

I majored in history. I have been out of school awhile but I still read in the field. I have simply been unable to find a majority Religion, that has social, spiritual and political power being persecuted. That tends to happen to minorities and the powerless. Jews were discriminated against. Catholics were vermin, especially the Irish as there was debate about them even being white and evolved much past apes. Mormons were driven to the deserts of Utah which no one really wanted. The Witnesses, Pentecostals and Adventists were ridiculed and shunned by members of mainline denominations. So most of the Christian persecution here in the States was Christian on Christian persecution.

Then along came Fox News. Since sanity and journalism is not part of their business model they found an issue they could use to inflame the audience and drive ratings. Thus, the War on Christmas went mainstream. It doesn't matter it doesn't exist like most of the issues they are outraged about.

The charge was led by Bill O'Reilly. He's never let facts get in the way of a good rant. For awhile he was a voice in the wilderness, as he should have remained, until it became an editorial policy on Fox to save us from us.

It spread and was taken up by those paragons of hard hitting, concise journalism, Fox and Friends. They immediately drove off the cliff and haven't found their way back.

So annually we have the moral outrage flung at us like monkey feces. It is a Christmas tradition now like Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and the island of misfit Fox Hosts. The sane wait for Jon Stewart to eviscerate Fox as our annual Yuletide gift from God's chosen people of the Old Testament.

You know Fox never mentions that the Protestant settlers of Massachusetts outlawed Christmas in the 17th Century because of it's Pagan roots. Or that the early church co-opted the pagan Yule to keep the converts in line. 

They also have nothing to say about Walmart leading the charge by opening on Thanksgiving, depriving their employees of a bit of family time. Or decrying the Christmas Spirit shown by most shoppers who trample others, mace or even tase to get their hands on some bargain when the sane should be sleeping.

Fox whines that business is forced to kneel at the secular alter and eschew the mention of Christmas. Well kids, they've been Happy Holidaying for decades. Manners, remember? Trust me if Walmart thought Merry Christmas would add a buck to the bottom line they'd hit it like a Republican jumping a hooker.

And we have Corporations claiming religious beliefs to avoid giving women reproductive healthcare, having Holiday sales. And expanded Holiday hours. Situational ethics at it's best. 

The Fox alarmists seem to miss an obvious offender when it comes to "Happy Holidays". FOX NEWS.

This war on Christmas is basically unchristian Christians bemoaning the fact they can't oppress others with their views that have nothing to do with the season.

So as Fox blames a massive secular, atheistic plot to destroy Christmas and Christianity, they need to remember you can do anything you want to celebrate. Just not on publicly owned places with public money. There is no war. I'm not religious but I'll say "Merry Christmas" because it makes people feel good and it's polite. WE should do more of that. Make people feel good and be polite. Maybe remember all incarnations of Yule have been important spiritual celebrations of hope. And we can always use more of that. 

                             Merry Christmas.