A Sunday thought

This passage was on my heart a few days ago, but something told me I would want to refer to it today (this piece was started a few weeks back.)

And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:3-11, KJV)

We are often told that we should not be judgmental and reminded that you shouldn’t throw stones unless you are without sin yourself. But they usually fail to continue the parable to its conclusion, “go, and sin no more.” That would require a course correction that would oftentimes eliminate the action for which the subject is being judged.

So in the last couple months we have seen numerous charges of all sorts of sexual impropriety; everything from simple harassment to child rape has been leveled at someone in the public eye. Yet I do not believe a single one of those charges came out of a relationship where the two people involved were married to each other.

The problem with these stories coming out in a sad drumbeat of disgust is that they make the story of a long-term monogamous relationship the “dog bites man” story. For every Harvey Weinstein whose story is played up, the idea of some other Hollywood figure who has a more or less trouble-free long-term marriage isn’t promoted. (I’m sure there are some, but you never hear of them.)

This new awakening to the issue of sexual exploitation has moved over into the realm of politics in recent weeks, and the appearances of impropriety have resulted in the resignations of long, longtime Rep. John Conyers, Jr. from Michigan (until his resignation, the longest-serving House member – he was first elected when I was but an infant in 1964) and Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, who had similarly held office for many years (first elected in 2002.) Interestingly, Conyers allegedly had a reputation that preceded him but Franks was ousted for an entirely different reason – asking female staffers in his office to be surrogate parents. (It sounds unusual, but Franks has experience in the subject as his wife cannot have children – their two twin children were born via a surrogate mother and donor egg cell.)

The political side of the allegations began, though, with two other men – one a sitting Senator and the other seeking a seat there. Senator Al Franken tried for awhile to explain away the photographic evidence of harassment toward media personality Leeann Tweeden, but as other accusers stepped forward the calls for his resignation grew louder, particularly as he was the example Republicans could use to counter the one I’ll get to momentarily. Last week Franken relented, stating he would resign “in the next several weeks.” But Franken was critical of both President Trump and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who have their own issues with harassment claims.

The one commonality among all four men, though, is that they have been married a long time. I’m going to take the risk of trusting Wikipedia, but according to that repository of knowledge, Franken has been married to the same woman since 1975, Franks since 1980, Moore since 1985, and Conyers since 1990. (The latter two were married relatively later in life.) Obviously it doesn’t mean they have necessarily been faithful to their vows, but they have at least stuck it out under sometimes difficult circumstances.

Now Roy Moore presents a conundrum. To say his taste in women is unusual is probably an understatement, since he’s accused of dating girls roughly half his age back in the late 1970s. (Moore is currently 70 years old, so at the time he was in his early 30s.) But his defenders note that seeking younger women to marry wasn’t completely uncommon in that era and part of the country: earlier examples in other walks of life include Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. As it is, Moore’s wife is 14 years his junior and they first met when she was a teenager (although the marriage came several years later, reportedly after she had married and divorced.) There’s no doubt that Moore’s 1977 standards are not the 2017 norm.

Yet in a political sense Moore has very similar stances to mine. Back in 2011, Roy Moore formed an exploratory committee for the 2012 GOP nomination, and as such I evaluated his political views (insofar as I could discern them) and created a dossier. Turns out that to me he was the second-ranked candidate in the race as far as political views were concerned, just behind another fallen person in Herman Cain.

However, back in 2011 we weren’t treated to these claims from women who grew up and realized that maybe what Roy Moore did four decades ago ranged from super creepy to possible molestation. That seemed to be saved for the time when people at the Washington Post decided to see if the wisps of smoke were a fire. And the timing was interesting: the story came out November 9 and according to this account took six weeks to put together. That means they may have been informed of this prior to the primary, which occurred September 26. (Six weeks back from November 9 is September 28, so this timeline depends on whether editing time is considered part of the six weeks. But nowhere is it stated when the six weeks occurred; they claim the reporting began in early October.) Regardless, the timing is quite suspicious given the editorial leanings of the Post – especially since that very same day they featured a more glowing portrayal of his Democrat opponent, Doug Jones, and his prosecution of two church bombers from 1963.

That’s politics, though. We should be used to this in an era of “fake news.” I have no doubt that Moore dated these young women, although then the single charge of abuse becomes one of “he said, she said” and we will never have the opportunity to hear the answer to that accusation under oath.

To me, the question is this: does one believe that Roy Moore is defined by the girls he knew 40 years ago who are now those accusers threatening to stone him, or the one who has been married for 32 years and presumably, with the lack of evidence to the contrary, has gone and sinned no more? Only God knows the real truth, and I hope the people of Alabama engage (or engaged) in fervent prayer before they make their choice.

A look ahead: 2016 on the national front

Well, kids, how shall I say this?

Rather than type out my grievances about what we won’t see that I’ve had over the last two years, suffice to say that we have an election coming up where everyone will promise to do something about it. The sad thing is that, with a few exceptions, they’ve been in a position to do something and failed to act – so why should we believe them now?

Granted, I think there would be a far better chance at resolution with a Rand Paul or Ted Cruz in charge than a Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, but at this early date we have no idea who will win. I don’t either, but it is fair to say that, for an open election, the people who lead in December rarely are the ones taking office thirteen months later.

With that said, I’m not going to take up a lot of time or effort. Have a Happy New Year, don’t wipe out our company on their way to/from our house, and I’ll see you on the other side.

There you have it – short, sweet, and to the point in 200 words or less.

A social media victory

In case you missed it earlier tonight – and to be quite honest, most people who don’t follow social media missed it – those on the left were out to protest Senator Ted Cruz and his appearance at a New York Republican fundraiser by bombarding his Twitter account with admonitions on his positions and a hashtag (for the Twitter-illiterate, that’s the “pound” symbol, #) of #youcruzyoulose. Catchy, but certainly irrelevant.

Of course, as we often do, our side caught wind of this “protest” and came up with the idea of Tweeting our support with our own hashtag, to wit:

Senator Cruz was pleased:


And the point was made, as #youcruzyoulose had nowhere near the staying power of #cruztovictory, which was the top-trending hashtag on Twitter for part of the evening.

But the question has to be asked: why Cruz? After all, he’s only 1 of 100, the junior Senator from a state which is pretty much owned by Republicans right now. How is he a threat?

Well, he is conservative, but so are a handful of others. He’s also relatively outspoken, although not to the extent of fellow Senator Rand Paul. Maybe it’s because he’s *gasp” a Latino who’s not down with the immigration amnesty bill? (Cue the game show bell, “ding ding ding.”) Yes, that and he’s pro-gun as well.

We don’t need 100 Ted Cruz clones in the Senate, but about 50 others will be fine. Let’s have some more fun with the #youcruzyoulose crowd, shall we? Just another #cruztovictory in the realm of social media.


Another sucker play

If you don’t like the narrative, change it. That’s what proponents of in-state tuition for illegal aliens did in Maryland, resulting in the passage of Question 4 last fall. It became an issue of “fairness” rather than an issue of rewarding lawbreakers.

Now Organizing For Action Against America is trying this tactic on a national scale, with an e-mail from Jose Magana asking “where’s your family from?” (The answer in my case: Toledo, Ohio.)

I was brought to this country from Mexico when I was 2 years old.

I am an undocumented immigrant — and I am living proof that our immigration system is broken.

For the first 17 years of my life, I slept on a couch. My mom worked three jobs to support our family.

I worked hard, too. I did my homework, participated in class, and earned the opportunity go to college. But after I enrolled, state law changed and many undocumented immigrants were forced to drop out. Suddenly they could no longer afford the education they were eager to work for.

We started organizing. We’d go up to people on campus, and ask them if they’d heard about the DREAM Act, which would allow hard-working immigrants who grew up in the U.S. to earn a path to citizenship. For those who opposed it, we’d tell them what happened to us.

It was amazing: Just telling our stories would change people’s minds.

This is exactly how we’re going to persuade people across the country to get behind President Obama’s plan for comprehensive immigration reform.

Everyone has a story — I’m sure you do, too. As the President said last week, “Unless you’re one of the first Americans, a Native American, you came from someplace else. Somebody brought you.”

At this critical moment, will you share your immigration story? Organizing for Action will use these stories to move the conversation forward.

Now, almost six years later, I’ve completed law school and was fortunate to receive deferred action. I consider myself an American, and I want to play by the same rules as everyone else. But, as it stands, I can never become a citizen. I can’t adjust my status. For most of my life, I could have been arrested, detained, and deported.

I’m not alone. Millions of undocumented immigrants like me live in fear of being deported permanently to a country we may have never even visited. Our entire lives could be erased.

You might not live under the same shadow. But the best thing about this country is that we are more alike than we are different. We all have a story of a mother, or grandfather, or great-great grandparent who came here to find opportunity or safety.

Through this grassroots movement, we can raise our voices, tell our stories, and make sure Congress and all Americans better understand the ties that bind us. Our stories can drive our organizing. Share your own story today, and help Organizing for Action get the word out on why this matters:

(link removed)

The majority of Americans agree we need to fix our badly broken system, and we saw major progress last week. But it’s on us to keep up the momentum and make sure it gets done.

Thanks for speaking up.


Jose Magana

As usual, the links return to the my.barackobama.com domain, which is still active even though he won four months ago.

But to me what’s more important is what’s missing. For example, why was mom working three jobs? First of all, someone obviously hired her not knowing (or not caring) about her immigration status. Did she get a driver’s license, Social Security number, and so forth illegally?  In and of itself, crossing the border illegally is not a serious crime – but forgery and passing yourself off as another person is. How about Jose? What sort of documents does he possess since he came here illegally?

Listen, I’m glad he went to law school. Hopefully what he learned there is that we are a nation of laws, and his very presence here violates a fair number of them.

So when immigrants are beseeched to share their stories, it’s not to “move the conversation forward.” It’s to obfuscate the fact that millions upon millions are here illegally. That’s a slap in the face to those who did things the right way for their American dream. I want to say it was my great-grandparents who came here from Germany and Poland; granted, the laws were much different back at the turn of the last century but undesirables could – and were – sent packing back to their homelands, even in that era.

Sadly, for all his good qualities, Jose seems to be the exception to the rule. He’s obviously one of those who got the pseudo-amnesty (known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) from Barack Obama last year so he wouldn’t have to go back to Mexico.

But let’s turn the story on its head. How fair do you think it is he got the preferential treatment of a tuition break, at least until, as he states, “state law changed and many undocumented immigrants were forced to drop out.” (We don’t know which state.) Presumably they no longer received the in-state tuition break meant for students who lived in-state legally.

More importantly: how fair is it that he can work legally (thanks to DAFCA) but his mother cannot?

Another thing we don’t know: how many brothers and sisters does Jose have, particularly those who were fortunate enough to be born here as “anchor babies.” Doesn’t matter who the dad is, he could be illegal, too. (Sort of like an alternate take on the “Julia” character from Obama’s campaign, we know nothing about what Jose’s father did for the family.)

In short, because the illegal alien advocates can’t win on the facts, the Obama administration recruited one of the few who seems to want to assimilate into American culture as a friendly, non-threatening spokesperson for the effort. But there’s a big difference between his generation and that of my ancestors who came from Europe. Of course, both had a language barrier and both were willing to work hard to make ends meet at “jobs Americans wouldn’t do.”

But the children of my ancestors wanted to be American, so much so that there’s very little which belies my family’s ethnic heritage besides the name and my dad’s longtime enjoyment of polka music. Aside from that, we were thoroughly American two generations removed.

Instead, in this day and age many who come here, whether through cultural or religious preference, have two to three generations who maintain the ways of their homeland. Rather than actively seek to assimilate, they would rather America adapt to suit them. Growing up we weren’t subjected to bilingual society, nor was anyone else outside a few limited enclaves within large cities (like Chinatown.)

But in my travels, particularly along U.S. 13 south into Virginia, I find a number of businesses which cater to the 9 percent of Accomack County residents who do not speak English at home – the signage is in Spanish. (Amazingly, nationwide this number is at 20 percent.) One would think those who don’t speak English would want to be part of the 90-plus percent who do; that’s always been the norm. And I’m aware that the actual number of Spanish-speaking residents who reside there is probably double what the official Census data I looked up shows; even so, the vast majority speak English.

In the end, though, it’s about politics. Both parties believe that bending over backwards to cater to the Latino population will win them votes; however, Republicans – who are traditionally immigration and border security hawks – risk alienating more of their base than they would win among Latino voters. And Democrats know it, which is why the push to make immigration an emotional issue rather than a rational one. That’s the only way they can win.

If we are a nation of laws, Jose Magana goes back to Mexico. As a law student, he has the skills to get a green card and return to work here legally but I believe he should return to his native country to pursue the option.

Obviously some will howl that it’s not fair he has to do this, but the lesson here is life’s not fair. Some of us were blessed to be born in America, others go through the legal process to become naturalized, and still others choose to stay here temporarily. But they should do it legally, and that’s where Jose is lacking. Say “no way” to Jose and his sob story.

The calm

Have you ever had the feeling that something is about to break, and the dread you feel is the fear of the unknown?

I suppose it’s more of an attitude I sense than anything, but people are seemingly more on edge now than at any other time I remember. Sure, the holidays are always a stressful time, but the advent of the Occupy movement has shown that there’s a fairly short fuse out there and one helluva powder keg not too far away.

Now don’t start believing I’m turning into one of those survivalists who will stockpile seventeen months’ worth of food and water, building the underground bunker to ride out the unrest sure to come. I don’t think it will get THAT bad, but something just doesn’t feel right about society today. It seems there are too many desperate people out there.

And maybe that’s because we as a society have forced the hand of some of those people.

Continue reading “The calm”

Dramatic foreshadowing

Crated by Bob McCarty of Bob McCarty Writes.

My blogging friend Bob McCarty created the image above, but there’s something much more serious afoot. The phrase “may you live in interesting times” continues to come to mind, because we do.

What image do you have of the Great Depression? In a lot of minds, the thought conjured up is people standing in bread lines, while others who invested heavily in the stock market and saw their fortunes wiped out in a day’s trading stepped off the nearest tall building.

So when Franklin D. Roosevelt became President, he eventually expanded a number of the measures put into place by President Herbert Hoover (a ‘progressive’ Republican) and created more governmental agencies and programs like Social Security, growing the government to new levels in an effort to bring relief. It was all designed so we’d never have to live in desperate economic straits again.

Well, guess what? We live in interesting times.

Since the housing boom began to go bust five years ago we have seen millions of jobs lost, entire neighborhoods become little more than a sea of foreclosed homes, local and state governments come under strain, and trillions of dollars in personal wealth vanish. Thousands of businesses – small and large – which thrived during good times closed up shop, their shuttered facades a grim reminder of the boom we no longer enjoy.

As Americans, we elected our current leader in reaction to the hopelessness and stagnation we felt under a recessionary economy being dragged down by a pair of wars in far-off, distant lands. His message of ‘hope and change’ was enough to convince the people to give him a try despite his being relatively untested and lacking executive experience.

Over the last thirty months, we’ve seen the results – more jobs lost, more foreclosures, and most certainly more government. TARP begat the Stimulus, which begat quantitative easing, which begat the recent debate over raising the debt ceiling. While the public doesn’t understand the ins and outs of the economic theory behind all these machinations, they completely understand the disappearance of their 401.k balances, the equity in their homes, and perhaps eventually their livelihoods.

Yes, we live in interesting times.

So where are we headed? Last year, Greeks rioted when their government had to enforce strict austerity measures at the direction of those who bailed them out. London erupted in its own strife over the weekend, perhaps due in part to bitterness among those down-and-out long-term jobless and others living on the dole – much of the destruction simply seems to be a cover for looting and theft.

The question to me isn’t IF this sort of situation will arise here on this side of the pond, but when and where?

While there’s at least one account of an “eviction riot” during the Great Depression, much of the unrest came in battles between workers and employers. Indeed, we have that same sort of tinderbox these days – just look at Wisconsin for a recent example. While labor demonstrations both there and closer to home were peaceful for the most part, what’s to say the next one may not spread from its original intent of showing Big Labor’s strength and turn violent? Of course, the TEA Party will get the blame, but in retrospect they as a community have been quite restrained considering they’ve borne the brunt of the economic damage caused so far.

I’m not an old man, as I’ll turn 47 next month. But it seems to me that I’ve seen a lot more trouble in the world over the last half-decade than I saw in any other time.

Bear in mind I came of age after the Vietnam War wound down, but I remember Watergate and the fall of a President. I recall the “malaise” we were in during the Carter years, and the arrival of “morning in America” with Ronald Reagan. We’ve had Grenada, Panama, the Persian Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, and a number of terrorist attacks with the granddaddy of them all being 9-11.

After 9-11 we were frightened but we were ready to fight, even if we didn’t know just who the enemy was. Now we’re just plain scared and perhaps many are resigned to the fact that times will be hard for awhile to come.

Every year around graduation time, we reflect on what an 18-year-old American has and hasn’t seen in his or her life – for example, a person turning 18 in 2011 has no concept of the Persian Gulf War except in books. They’ve never known a world without the internet being commonly available, and their first memory of political scandal probably had to do with what the meaning of “is” is or whether the 2000 election was stolen or not.

But neither their lifespan nor mine is such that we’ve lived through an economic time like this – sure, things were tough in the early 1990s but “the worst economy of the last 50 years” had nothing on this. Unemployment was higher in the early 1980s but that recession was short-lived once Reagan’s tax cuts took hold and wealth trickled down. In this instance we seem to be attempting a new model of redistributing wealth which works for certain favored groups – others, not so much.

Undoubtedly, we as Americans will find our way out of our economic slump. But whether that day will arrive in time for many Americans on the verge of losing everything is the key question, and the answer may be in whether cooler heads will continue to prevail.

We live in interesting times, and it’s likely our children will too. But the curse could eventually turn to a blessing if we solve the problem properly.

That double standard

I have reserved comment on this through all the sordid details, and I’m not going to rehash the particulars now, either.

But it’s clear that Rep. Anthony Weiner has violated the trust voters placed in him since he first won election to Congress in 1998. And unlike his New York counterpart, former Rep. Christopher Lee, he didn’t immediately resign once he admitted those Twitter pictures were his. (Lee left office after sending a shirtless photo of himself to a woman he met through Craigslist.) In the end, this cost the GOP a Congressional seat as a liberal Democrat won the special election to fill Lee’s 26th District seat.

In this case, it’s doubtful the Democrats would lose the Congressional seat since Weiner has won elections handily since his first one in 1998. While his closest brush was 2010, where he won 60.8% of the vote, no Republican has represented the area in decades.

So why is Weiner staying on? One can only speculate, of course, but perhaps it has something to do with that old adage, “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And he’s going to stay in the news because it was learned his wife, who he married just last summer, is now pregnant with their first child. (He’s married to an aide to Hillary Clinton.)

Yet it’s a sad statement on American life that this sensationalized story became front page news. Otherwise Weiner’s a relatively obscure back-bencher from America’s largest city who is as liberal as the day is long. And perhaps that’s the biggest problem – many of the liberal persuasion can’t understand what all the fuss is about. They equate it with the saga of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.

The issue in both cases, though, isn’t what these men did in the privacy of their own lives – the issue is that both men denied the facts at first before finally admitting the truth. In other words, they lied to save their hide but didn’t need to because their hide was saved anyway and their behavior excused.

No one, including me, is perfect. But when we place people in a position of public trust we should expect them to be leaders and set an example. The only example Weiner has set is what not to do on Twitter.