Thursday, January 7, 2010

Where Have the Moderate Republicans Gone?

In watching the nightly news, I am struck by the intensity of the present political divide. The spirit of compromise, unity of purpose, and working together for the common good are concepts emblematic of a distant past. The extreme political Right, symbolized by the Tea Party movement, racist and anti-immigrant militias, and the aggressive hostility expressed by our former Vice President, contributes to the growing polarization of American politics as our country drifts ever deeper into a sea of hatred and division. Dick Cheney has stopped even pretending to be a Statesman, instead taking to the airwaves to accuse the President of weakening the country and lacking the will to fight terrorism. Sarah Palin continues to lie about government imposed death panels and gives a speech in Hong Kong stating that President Obama has weakened American influence in Asia. Congressman Joe Wilson calls the President a liar during his State of the Union address, while other mean-spirited, right-wing congressional representatives stand on their soapboxes and call the President a “radical” out to destroy America. If Congress is but a microcosm of the larger society, then we risk never again achieving a consensus in addressing national concerns that affect our nation’s future. It was not always so.

Not that long ago, the United States Senate was filled with such luminaries as Howard Baker, Jacob Javits, Nancy Kassebaum, Bob Dole, John Danforth, Mark Hatfield, John Heinz, Lowell Weicker, Rudy Boschwitz, and John Chafee. What did these individuals have in common? They were all Republicans, well respected, intelligent, willing to work with their Democratic colleagues, and amenable to compromise and conciliation for the advancement of the public good. It was a time when political disagreements were less personal – when issues were debated vigorously and discussed with passion, when constitutional principles were asserted, but the shared objective was effectively governing the country. It was a time when Republicans and Democrats worked together on issues as diverse as civil rights, environmental protection, fair trade, deregulation of the airline and trucking industries, antitrust laws, energy policy, and foreign affairs.

When John Chafee was elected to the Senate in 1976, he became the first Republican senator of Rhode Island since 1930. A moderate on taxes and spending, he was pro-choice, a strong environmentalist (he helped enact the 1986 Clean Water Act, the 1990 Clean Air Act, and the Superfund program that cleaned up toxic waste dumps), and a supporter of sensible social programs that aided the needy.

Howard Baker, the leader of the Senate Republicans for eight years as both the Minority Leader (1977-1981) and Majority Leader (1981-1985), had the respect of Senators and Presidents of both political parties. Known as the "Great Conciliator," Baker successfully brokered compromises, enacted legislation, and maintained civility. As the ranking minority member on the Senate Select Committee that investigated Watergate, Baker made famous the line, “What did the President know and when did he know it?” For Baker, getting at the truth and making the right decision was more important than protecting a President of his own party.

Dole, who succeeded Baker as the Senate Majority Leader, also had a moderate voting record and delicately bridged the gap between the moderate and conservative wings of the Kansas Republican Party. As a Congressman in the early 1960’s, Dole supported the major civil rights bills, and his first speech in the Senate in 1969 was a plea for federal aid for the handicapped. He later joined George McGovern, one of the Senate’s most liberal Democrats, to lower eligibility requirements for federal food stamps. How many Republican members of the Senate and House would do so today?

Danforth is a political moderate who, prior to stepping down in 1994, was elected three times as a Republican senator of Missouri, which until then had been home to such Democratic heavyweights as Harry Truman, Thomas Hart Benton, and Stuart Symington. An ordained Episcopal priest, Danforth is particularly outspoken about the Republican Party’s embrace of the radical Christian right, believing that the GOP has been building an intolerant, uncivil agenda from narrowly defined religious beliefs. In 2006, Danforth published Faith and Politics: How the “Moral Values” Debate Divides America and How to Move Forward Together (New York: Viking, 2006), which contends that conservative hardliners have deepened the nation’s social divide by imposing their views on a more moderate majority.

That not one single Republican voted for the health care reform bills recently passed in the House and the Senate is just the latest example of a political party that cares nothing about governing and is willing to sacrifice the public interest at the mantle of tactical politics. Even John McCain, who built a reputation as a maverick and independent spirit within the Republican Party, has recently descended into demagoguery on Medicare, flip-flopped on climate change legislation, and joined the “just-say-no vanguard” (as described by Maureen Dowd) of political obstructionism.

It is perfectly acceptable to have principled disagreements – indeed, passionate debate is the essence of a free society and of democracy. But when well-respected moderates like former Minnesota Congressman Jim Ramstad resign after 16 years in the House because their political party has moved so far from his philosophical beliefs – no longer embracing fiscal conservatism combined with social inclusiveness – it should be a sign that a time for reflection is needed within the Republican Party.

Democrats certainly have their problems as well – as Will Rogers once said, “I belong to no organized political party. I’m a Democrat.” But given the current state of our divisions, the meanness emanating from the right-wing talk shows, the ignorance stemming from certain conservative congressmen, and the dangerous reactionary radicalism of the Tea Party clans, I worry for the future of this country.

On February 10, 2007, candidate Barack Obama reminded the country of its past accomplishments, deeds that required unity and cooperation:

In the face of tyranny, a band of patriots brought an empire to its knees. In the face of secession, we unified a nation and set the captives free. In the face of the Depression, we put people back to work and lifted millions out of poverty. We welcomed immigrants to our shores, we opened railroads to the west, we landed a man on the moon, and we heard King’s call to let justice roll down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Obama spoke these words from Springfield, Illinois, the birthplace of Lincoln who, if alive today, would not be able to tolerate, and would not be welcome, in his own party. Our country is in the midst of danger and despair, adrift in a world of increasing polarization. With long-term unemployment, massive deficits, two wars and increasing terrorist threats, rising economic inequality, the perils of climate change, nuclear proliferation, and a nation still grappling with crime, drugs, poverty, urban decay, corporate fraud, and a lack of professional ethics, we are in need of a political opposition that is willing to embrace the spirit of Lincoln. We need leaders willing, in these perilous times, to act in a spirit of cooperation and compromise for the good of all.

At a minimum, we need moderation and common sense to reassert control of the body politic. Who are the modern day Statesmen within the Republican Party? Where are the moderate, sensible legislators in the mold of Howard Baker and Jacob Javits, John Danforth and John Chafee, men and women willing to put the country’s interests above partisanship and narrowly defined interests? Where are the Republicans who, in a spirit of conciliation and cooperation, are willing to work with Democrats to solve the nation’s problems?


  1. “In watching the nightly news, I am struck by the intensity of the present political divide. The spirit of compromise, unity of purpose, and working together for the common good are concepts emblematic of a distant past. The extreme political Left, symbolized by the Acorn Voter Fraud, broken promises to air healthcare debate on C-SPAN, a White House administration filled with self avowed Marxists and communists, backroom dealing to buy votes and the aggressive hostility to American ideas expressed by our administration (Secretary of Treasury Geithner: tax cheat; Attorney General Holder: pardons for old terrorists, Miranda warnings for new terrorists; National Endowment of the Arts: encouraging artists to promote the Obama agenda; Van Jones: Marxist and Truther; Science Czar Holdren: “compulsory abortions”; Safe Schools Czar Jennings: pornographic reading list for kids; key adviser and bioethicist Dr. Emanuel: “allocation (of medical care) by age is not invidious discrimination”; communications director Anita Dunn: Maoist) contributes to the growing polarization of American politics as our country drifts ever deeper into a sea of hatred and division. President Obama, not even trying to be statesman-like, takes to the airwaves almost nightly to blame former President Bush for everything including making terrorists even madder at us and coming soon, blaming Bush for jinxing him on that girlish first pitch in July. The Whitehouse continues to suggest that a government run healthcare, complete with “government-authorized end-of-life consultations,” would not lead, inevitably, to rationed healthcare, known euphemistically, but accurately as Death Panels. Democrats daily accused President Bush of lying when he was in office and unlike Joe Wilson, never apologized, and now mean-spirited, left-wing congressional representatives stand on their soapboxes and warn Americans that "Republicans want you to die quickly." If Congress is but a microcosm of the larger society, then we risk never again achieving a consensus in addressing national concerns that affect our nation’s future. It was not always so.”


    Your entire rant could be rewritten as a slam against the Extreme Left of the Democratic Party, or more precisely, the Extreme Left Democratic Party, because they are no longer the party of Scoop Jackson and Patrick Moynihan. In fact, since Lieberman was stabbed in the back and Zell Miller retired there are few close to the center. But what is offensive about your way of thinking is the presumption that what the Democrats want to do is the right thing and anyone who tries to stop them are obstructionists motivated only out of a desire to hurt the Democrats politically. You can’t for a second bring yourself to believe that Republicans feel just as passionately that what the Democrats want to do will harm this country and therefore have a moral responsibility to stop them.

    Republicans know that government healthcare would be bad for the country, so it would be irresponsible and unethical for them to compromise with the Democrats. They know that cap and trade would harm the country so they have a duty to oppose it. They know that global warming, a.k.a. climate change, a.k.a. Climategate, a.k.a. “The sky is falling!” is a fraud and power grab, so they would be negligent to be silent.


  2. Your entire post is an illustration of “elite” think, the notion that there is a small group of people that know what is best for the rest of us and anyone who disagrees is being mean spirited. As Thomas Sowell, a mainstream and award winning economist who once read the New York Times while in his doctor’s waiting room, said in his most recent column, “Intellectuals and their followers have often been overly impressed by the fact that intellectuals tend, on average, to have more knowledge than other individuals in their society. What they have overlooked is that intellectuals have far less knowledge than the total knowledge possessed by the millions of other people whom they disdain and whose decisions they seek to override.”

    Some of these millions took time off from their jobs to protest in Washington about issues for which they care deeply. Their passionate, peaceful and litter-free activism should have been celebrated by you whether you agree with them or not, yet you slander them by associating them with “racist and anti-immigrant militias” (by the way, to what militia would you be referring? and please connect opposition to those who commit criminal acts by entering this country illegally with people who are prejudice against immigrants). I believe you have, on more than one occasion, used the god-awful phrase, “Speaking truth to power,” yet with up to two million American citizens doing just that, you write them off as despicable racists because their opinions differ from those of the “Anointed.”

    Where have the moderate Republicans gone? Better to ask where the moderate Democrats have gone, because the last thing we need right now are moderate Republicans who will compromise an inch with radical Democrats who want to bankrupt this county. Ask yourself why an entire political party is pushing ahead with healthcare when repeated polls show that an overwhelming majority of American citizens are against their proposals? When you ignore the people, you are conducting yourself as a ruling class; when you slander “real” Americans, to use one of your favorite words, you are setting yourself up as more enlightened; when you impose your pet projects on those you are supposed to serve, you judge yourself superior.

    This moment in history is a turning point because the extremist leaders of the Democratic Party are determined in their desire to “remake” America, and this cannot be prevented by “summer and sunshine” moderates, but only by passionate and dedicated conservative Republicans, with the help, God willing, of the few moderate Democrats that might remain.

    Rich R.

  3. Rich,

    You made my point for me. When you say things like "a White House administration filled with self avowed Marxists and communists" and the "aggressive hostility to American ideas expressed by our administration", then suggest that Obama's people are for things like compulsory abortions and pornography for kids, you make it impossible to have a meaningful conversation. Unless you have been smoking some very strong peyote, you are too intelligent to believe these paranoid, wildly fantastic hallucinations. It is simply disengenuous.

    My post was intending to point out that, not too long ago, there were a number of Republicans who had the ability to engage in principled disagreements with Democrats and still recognize the good faith of their opposition. And they accomplished some pretty good legislation in the process.

    The debate over the current health care reform bills has been taking place between moderate and conservative Democrats on one side, and more liberal Democrats on the other. Republicans have forfeited any meaningful role for purely political, tactical reasons. It would not have been the case when Baker, Dole, etc. were in Congress. Cap and trade, which you are so against, was a Republican concept in the 1990's, a market-based solution to reducing emissions, opposed by liberals. Now that Obama has embraced it, Republicans are opposed.

    One big difference between the Democrats and Republicans right now is that, unlike the Republicans (with some very limited exceptions), there is a large middle ground among the Democrats, with conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats, mostly in the South; liberal Democrats in large urban areas; and moderate and DLC-type Democrats just about everywhere else. Very few moderate or liberal Republicans remain.

    I do not believe that anyone who disagrees with me is being mean spirited. I welcome a reasoned discussion. But when you resort to name calling, when you see a communist and a Maoist under every bedpost, you are shutting off debate. As difficult as it is for you to believe, Obama is not a Far Left Democrat. He is not even a traditional liberal; indeed, he is annoyed quite often by traditional liberals. He is a pragmatist, which is why he is willing to accept the health care bill (liberals do not like this bill). Much of what Obama has done in his first year does not qualify him as a liberal. If you truly stepped back for a moment and took an academic look at the American political landscape, you would agree with me. But I admire your passion.

  4. Mark,

    *** “… ‘a White House administration filled with self avowed Marxists and communists’” ***:

    “In 2005 (Van) Jones told the East Bay Express that the acquittal of Rodney King's assailants in 1992 in that infamous police brutality case changed him significantly. ‘I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th, and then the verdicts came down on April 29th,’ he said. ‘By August, I was a communist.’”

    “Jones and other young activists in 1994 formed a group called Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement, or STORM, rooted in Marxism and Leninism.”


    “The third lesson and tip actually comes from two of my favorite political philosophers, Mao Tse-Tung and Mother Teresa. Not often coupled with each other, but the two people that I turn to most to basically deliver a simple point, which is: You’re going to make choices. . .” Anita Dunn, White House communications director

    (See the terrific column by the great Mark Steyn:

    *** “…aggressive hostility to American ideas expressed by our administration” ***:

    “…the answer to that is, they're (Republicans) assholes” Van Jones

    “…that the Cambridge police acted stupidly…” President Obama

    “So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” President Obama

    “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” Rahm Emanuel

    “I did not run for office to be helping out a bunch of, you know, fat-cat bankers on Wall Street.” President Obama

    “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everyone.” President Obama

    “I opposed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. It should be repealed and I will vote for its repeal on the Senate floor. I will also oppose any proposal to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban gays and lesbians from marrying.” President Obama

    “I've got two daughters. 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby.” President Obama

    “One of the great strengths of the United States is... we have a very large Christian population - we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.” President Obama

    “So, if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can — it’s just that it will bankrupt them, because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.” President Obama

    "The Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. . . It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, as least as it's been interpreted, and Warren Court interpreted in the same way that, generally, the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties, says what the states can't do to you, says what the federal government can't do to you, but it doesn't say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.” President Obama

    “Newly obtained documents prove that in 2003, Barack Obama, as chairman of an Illinois state Senate committee, voted down a bill to protect live-born survivors of abortion -- even after the panel had amended the bill to contain verbatim language, copied from a federal bill passed by Congress without objection in 2002, explicitly foreclosing any impact on abortion.” (


  5. “Under the health care bill being considered in the Senate Finance Committee, Americans who fail to pay a penalty for not buying insurance could be charged up to $25,000 by the Internal Revenue Service or face up to a year in jail . . . ” (

    “In his 2008 book, "Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness," (regulatory czar Cass) Sunstein . . . discussed multiple legal scenarios regarding organ donation. One possibility . . ., termed by Sunstein as "routine removal," posits that ‘the state owns the rights to body parts of people who are dead or in certain hopeless conditions, and it can remove their organs without asking anyone's permission.’” (

    *** “…then suggest that Obama's people are for things like compulsory abortions…” ***:

    “To date, there has been no serious attempt in Western countries to use laws to control excessive population growth, although there exists ample authority under which population growth could be regulated. For example, under the United States Constitution, effective population-control programs could be enacted under the clauses that empower Congress to appropriate funds to provide for the general welfare and to regulate commerce, or under the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Such laws constitutionally could be very broad. Indeed, it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society. Few today consider the situation in the United States serious enough to justify compulsion, however.” Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment, co-author John Holdren

    Now I will give Mr. Holdren the benefit of the doubt and assume he doesn’t believe compulsory abortions are a good thing or a likely thing, but that’s not the scary thing is it? That a man with the president’s ear believes our U.S. Constitution could ever grant the government that kind of power is what gives me the willies. And the fact that this man was one of the nuts spouting the junk science of overpopulation in the 1970’s and is now predicting doom from man-made global warming/climate change/endoftheworldasweknowit means he’s not getting any wiser.

    *** “…and pornography for kids…” ***:

    “Kevin Jennings (Obama’s safe schools czar) stepped down as Executive Director last year after leading GLSEN since its inception, but every single book mentioned in this report was added to the list while Jennings was in charge. . . Therefore, it’s reasonable to believe he was aware of the addition of these works . . .

    . . . Book after book after book contained stories and anecdotes that weren’t merely X-rated and pornographic, but which featured explicit descriptions of sex acts between pre-schoolers; stories that seemed to promote and recommend child-adult sexual relationships; stories of public masturbation, anal sex in restrooms, affairs between students and teachers, five-year-olds playing sex games, semen flying through the air. One memoir even praised becoming a prostitute as a way to increase one’s self-esteem. Above all, the books seemed to have less to do with promoting tolerance than with an unabashed attempt to indoctrinate students into a hyper-sexualized worldview.” (


  6. I’m not smoking anything except an occasional cigar (which I can’t enjoy with my whiskey at the local tavern because the government has denied hard working small business owners the right to decide for themselves if they want to cater to smokers, non-smokers or a combination of the two) and I don’t make stuff up. And one reason why my responses are often too long is because you write things like, “…Obama is not a Far Left Democrat.”

    Rich R.

  7. Rich,

    You still don't get that name-calling is ineffective, do you? Alright, let's take a few of your points. Van Jones was admittedly a mistake, which is why he was forced to resign five months after he was hired. Should the Obama team have vetted him more fully? Of course, but show me an administration that hasn't suffered similar embarrassments with some of their picks -- you won't find one. Although not an excuse, Jones's past was not studied as intensively as other advisers because of his relatively low rank. His position did not require Senate confirmation, so he avoided the kind of vetting that Cabinet officials are subjected to. Nor was he vetted as carefully as more senior assistants to the President, because Jones did not report to the President, but to the Council of Environmental Quality. Obviously, Obama does not condone or agree with Jones' past controversial statements, which is why, once his controversies came to light, Jones was out. One moron does not make it a "White House administration filled with self avowed Marxists and communists."

    Your many quotes from Obama left me wondering exactly how you would define someone as Far Left. That Obama is pro-choice and believes that the government does not have the right to control a woman's body or interfere in her most private, intimate decisions, makes his views consistent with approximately 54% of Americans that agree (see Washington Post poll, January 5-11, 2010). Does this mean that 54% of Americans are Far Left? Only 18% of Americans believe that abortion should always be illegal (including cases of rape and incest), as apparently do you.

    Here is what Jeffrey Hart, a former Reagan and Nixon speechwriter who wrote for the National Review for four decades, said on the subject:

    "Ever since Roe vs. Wade, abortion has been a salient controversy in our politics. But the availability of abortion is linked to the long advancement of women's equality. Again, we are dealing with social change, and this requires understanding social change, a Burkean imperative that Obama understands.

    "On my Dartmouth campus, half the undergraduates are women. They do not want to have their plans derailed by an unwanted pregnancy. In Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, the Court ruled that the availability of abortion "enables women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the country."

    "Though there is a tragic aspect to abortion, as Obama recognizes, women's equality means that women have control of their reproductive capability. Men don't worry about that. The fact is that 83 percent of elective abortions occur during the first trimester, and decline rapidly after that." (

    That Obama wants to keep government out of our private lives -- this also explains his views on gay rights -- should be a conservative idea that you should embrace. But since you are part of the radical Far Right, you apparently do not understand.

  8. Rich (cont'd):

    Now, I really do not understand what you find offensive about Obama's statement that one of this country's greatest strengths is, although "we have a very large Christian population - we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values." Maybe I am too Far Left to see it, but this sounds to me to be a very patriotic statement about the beauty of our constitutional democracy, that separates church from state and recognizes the free exercise of all religious beliefs (including non-belief). Go America!

    Now, as for Jennings and his former position with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). I know that this is an area that makes conservatives most uncomfortable, as homophobia runs rampant on the Far Right. But this is an organization that strives to assure that schools value and respect all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. As explained in its website, GLSEN believes that a respectful atmosphere "engenders a positive sense of self, which is the basis of educational achievement and personal growth. Since homophobia and heterosexism undermine a healthy school climate, we work to educate teachers, students and the public at large about the damaging effects these forces have on youth and adults alike. . . . GLSEN seeks to develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes in creating a more vibrant and diverse community." While it is easy for us John Wayne types not to understand, lesbian and gay middle schoolers and high schoolers face a lot of harassment, physical and verbal taunting. Having an organization that advocates on their behalf and works with schools to make the school environment safer and more tolerant is good and important.

    I could not find the so-called pornographic reading list on its website, but it does recommend such books as: Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin; Out in the Silence, which "captures the remarkable chain of events that unfold when the announcement of filmmaker Joe Wilson's wedding to another man ignites a firestorm of controversy in his small Pennsylvania hometown. Drawn back by a plea for help from the mother of a gay teen being tormented at school, Wilson's journey dramatically illustrates the universal challenges of being an outsider in a conservative environment and the transformation that is possible when those who have long been constrained by a traditional code of silence summon the courage to break it."; Hear Us Out: Lesbian and Gay Stories of Struggle, Progress and Hope, 1950 to the Present; and What Mommies/Daddies Do Best, in which is shown "a mother bear, pig, mouse, elephant, and porcupine engaging in everyday activities with her children. Readers learn that Mommies can build a snowman with you, bake a birthday cake, 'sew the loose button on your teddy bear,' watch the sunset, read a story, or "hold you when you're feeling sad." But best, 'Mommies can give you lots and lots of love.' Flip the book and read that Daddies can do the same thing." Really subversive stuff.

    The quote from gateway pundit sounds like it is describing the Bible, among other classic books. The Catcher in the Rye and many other literary classics were banned from schools for years because of misguided conservative efforts to not permit students to read passages dealing with masterbation and sex, etc. So, whenever conservatives start talking about book banning, I get really nervous.

  9. Mark,

    When someone describes themselves as a Marxist, communist or a conservative, it is not name calling to refer to them as a Marxist, communist or a conservative. Examples of name calling would be referring to Rush Limbaugh as a windbag or a government employee as a henchman or the extreme political Right as racists.

    You claim Van Jones’ past was not studied as intensively as other advisers because of his relatively low rank and that he was not vetted. The truth is he was not vetted at all because his widely known opinions were not offensive to this administration. Everyone in the Whitehouse knows how to “Google,” having had lots of practice searching for “more things to blame Bush for” and “Dick Cheney is Darth Vader,” so the vetting argument rings hollow. They simply hoped no one else would type in “Van Jones” and hit the enter button. They almost got away with it. Even the New York Times lacks Google-trained investigative journalists. Only when the extremist (little preemptive name calling there) talk show host Glenn Beck thought to do an internet search did the truth finally come to the American people. You write that President Obama “obviously. . . does not condone or agree with Jones' past controversial statements,” yet I can find no quotes from the president reflecting that view and let’s not forget that, as the Huffington Post reported, “The resignation was disclosed without advance notice by the White House in a dead-of-the-night e-mail on a holiday weekend,” so it doesn’t appear that President Obama felt the need to make his disagreement with Jones’ wacky ideas known to anyone but you.

    Now regarding President Obama’s abortion stance being mainstream: The president supports not only barbaric partial-birth abortion but, as I stated above, he opposed, as a senator, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, a law which would have required medical aide to those babies who miraculously survived an abortion attempt. So let’s see how mainstream that is: From the same poll you quoted, 69% of Americans are against partial-birth abortion and the even more grisly (and yes there is something more heinous than delivering a baby up to the neck and then sucking its brains out) procedure known as “dilation and evacuation.” And your statistic is incomplete: 57% of Americans are against abortion if it is to end an unwanted pregnancy and 86% are against abortion if the unborn baby is six months old. In other words the American people are against abortion as birth control. This is understandable given the many options available to prevent pregnancy: pill, patch, implant, shot, male condom, female condom, diaphragm, sponge, spermicide, vaginal ring, cervical cap, IUD, and the always reliable approach, the knees together method. So given these statistics, how mainstream does this make President Obama? And ONCE AGAIN you dare to divine what I believe when you claim that I am apparently against abortion in cases of rape and incest. So let’s be clear, if it was in my power I would gladly make this deal with the devil: preserve the right to kill innocent babies resulting from rape or incest, while outlawing the killing of babies resulting from a series of decisions made voluntarily by a woman. This would save at least one million lives a year, while still sacrificing plenty of innocent souls on the bloody altar of “choice.” Want to shake on that?


  10. Regarding the idea that we are not a Christian nation, I am tempted to do another 2,000 word history lesson, but historical facts seem not to sway you (still thanking the town council for your privilege to own property?). Suffice it to say for now that this country was founded on Judeo-Christian values and has always, until recently that is, been viewed as a Christian nation. Not long ago this statement would have been met with a sarcastic, “Well, duh!” but now the response more likely would be, “No way! There’s a separation of church and state, it says so right there in the Declaration of . . . or is it the Constitution? Yeah there, in the First Amendment, see . . . ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . .’ wait, that’s not it. I know it’s in there, my brother-in-law, the ACLU lawyer, said it was. Let me call him. . .” Such is the success of secularism, much to our peril. It is because of our Christianity, not in spite of it, that the practitioners of the world’s lesser religions know they can come here and worship in complete freedom. The opposite is rarely true. So without rambling on, a few highlights starting with our founding fathers’ founding fathers who wrote the Mayflower Compact in 1620, in which they proclaimed as their mission statement: “Having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith and honor of our king and country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia. . .”

    Jumping ahead to just one Founding Father, John Jay, who wrote: “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

    Now to the Supreme Court, which, in Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States (1892), stated “These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.” (A full reading of the decision provides plenty of evidence to back up that statement.)

    Moving on to a president, Harry Truman (bypassing, among others, Woodrow Wilson, who was in total agreement, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to quote him!) who, in 1950, spoke at an Attorney General’s conference stating, “The fundamental basis of this Nation's law was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings which we get from Exodus and St. Matthew, from Isaiah and St. Paul. I don't think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

    Regarding the porno books for kids, you state that the offensive books are no longer listed on the GLSEN web site after the original list was, shall we say, outed? Imagine that. And once again you mischaracterize what I write. Book banning? Is that what you call wanting to protect children from pornography? Book banning means the government keeps Mark from reading what he wants to read, it does not mean preventing parents from shielding their children from reading the letters to Penthouse Forum: “As a third grader I never thought I’d have a reason to write, but then, last summer, at band camp. . .” If a parent so chooses, she may go to the public library and check out “Heather has Two Mommies,” for her daughter or he may go to Borders and buy “Catcher in the Rye” for his son (and tell me you really liked that book?).

    Now let me know if you want me to expand further on the whole uncomfortable “Jesus” thing.

    Rich R.

  11. Rich,

    It will do no good for you and I to re-hash the abortion debate, and it seems to make no difference what I say about Obama -- you want to believe that he is an evil, radical, Marxist out to steal your guns and kill your babies -- so continue in your fantasy land. Just know that your statement that Van Jones's ignorant views "were not offensive to this administration" is no different than claiming that what the Waffen SS represented in Nazi Germany "was not offensive to Ronald Reagan" when he paid tribute to Bitburg cemetery in 1984, despite the advanced protests of Jewish and veterans groups. So, criticize Obama's policies if you must, but don't do what I know you don't like to have done to your people -- suggest improper motives or views that have nothing to do with what the person has said or done.

    There is no basis that the Constitution is a Christian document. Just because John Adams and George Washington, etc., quoted from the Bible or made reference to God does not mean that they were trying to construct a Christian nation. Indeed, in 1797, nine years after the Constitution was ratified, President John Adams expressly stated that the United States is not a Christian nation. The only reference to God in the Constitution is in the date, which states "in the year of our lord," as was custom in those times.

    That the population of the United States is predominantly Christian, there is no dispute; and granted, most of the Founding Fathers were products of a Christian culture (though few of them would qualify for membership in today's evangelical churches). The ratio of Christians to non-Christians in American society is irrelevant to the question of whether the government of the United States is Christian. Indeed, that many of our past leaders may have personally referenced this as a Christian nation (just as many expressly did not) is also irrelevant. Your selective citations to historical texts proves nothing. I could do the same (e.g., the Treaty of Tripoli, ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1979; Article 11 states: "As the Government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion..."; or President John Tyler in 1843: "No religious establishment by law exists among us. . . . The offices of the Government are open alike to all.").


  12. Rich (cont'd):

    You claim that "[i]t is because of our Christianity, not in spite of it, that the practitioners of the world's lesser religions know they can come here and worship in complete freedom." First, I really hope that you don't mean what I think you mean when you say "the world's lesser religions". Are you suggesting that Andrea and my two daughters, as well as the other 6.5 million Jews in the United States are of a "lesser religion"? This is exactly why the concept of America as a Christian nation is anathema to freedom. The reason people of all faiths can come to America and worship in freedom is precisely because our Constitution forbids the establishment of any religion and separates church from state. It matters not what any one person, or even an entire community of people think; what matters is the law as documented in our Constitution.

    Second, the colonists specifically broke away from the law of Great Britain, which had an established religion and persecuted other religions (as did many other European governments -- mostly Christian governments with established Churches by the way -- so much for Christian nations not persecuting other religions).

    The great benefit of separation of church and state is that everybody is an equal citizen, regardless of their religion. Otherwise, there is a dominant official religion, which leaves everyone else as second-class citizens. George Washington told the Jews of Newport, Rhode Island, in 1790 that they will not just be "tolerated", as they were in Europe, but rather in the United States they will be completely equal citizens; "the Government of the United States . . . gives to bigotry no sanction."

    Separation of church and state is not only good for minority religions, as well as non-believers, but for followers of any religion. Thus, despite our not allowing the official establishment of any religion, and despite the separation of church and state, 86 percent of Americans believe in God, and attendance for religious services is higher in this country than most of the world. Thus, separation of church and state has kept the United States a very religious society, and lack of separation has driven people in Europe away from their religions.

    The American republic, as distinct from the American population, is not and has never been Christian in any official sense. Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. -- these are Muslim nations, with no separation between church and state. The United States is a nation of no official religion. Thank God.

  13. Hi, this is Hannah, Mark's daughter. I would like to say a few things to Rich:

    You refer to this nation as a "Christian Nation", though clearly, it was not founded to be one, and then you go on to say, "it is because of our Christianity, not in spite of it, that the practitioners of the world's lesser religions know they can come here and worship in complete freedom." A statement like this is stunning and worries me; I lose faith in humankind when I hear things like this. My great, great grandparents hid in caves in Russia and taped their baby's mouth closed so she would not cry out and cause them to be found. They were running from the Christians in Russia who were persecuting Jews. They did not come to America in the belief that this was a Christian nation; they traveled here for the right to practice their religion and not be persecuted, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

    Lesser religions? I’m hearing this in the 21st century? That is bigotry. Christians are no better than Jews or any other religion, nor are Jews better than Christians, and the many other religions in this world. We are only humans with a deeply rooted need to believe in something bigger than ourselves. Every human being on this earth is equal.

    Acceptance is not a part of any religion’s history. The Catholics were persecuted by other Christians, and when Catholics came into power, the Protestants were persecuted. And there are so many sects of Christianity, that what you mean by Christian is not representative of all Christians in the world, not even remotely close. You most likely believe in the Christianity of mercy, caring and giving, which, yes, is beautiful, but no country, regardless of religious background, has an entirely noble history. Hopefully, we do not see these barriers of religion and race between us, but instead, realize we are all responsible for correcting the past injustices against other human beings; and, whatever you choose to believe, evolution or creationism, we all come from the same place.

    Sincerely, the woman of a “lesser” religion,

  14. Correction: The Treaty of Tripoli was ratified in 1797, not 1979.

  15. Rich,

    As you know, I don't usually comment on your remarks unless I think you have REALLY stepped over the line. Well, "you've done it again, Oli." But I don't think I can improve on Mark's and Hannah's very thoughtful comments, so let me just say, "ditto" (assume many exclamation points).

    Be very careful. When one starts endorsing the notion of greater and lesser religions or greater and lesser people, he starts down a very slippery slope. But I don't believe you think so little of our founding fathers to attribute such malicious intentions to them. You clearly appreciate the power of words; please tell me you didn't mean to use them as you as you did.

    -- Andrea

  16. Mark,

    Please stop putting words in my mouth: You accuse me of thinking that President Obama is an “evil, radical, Marxist out to steal (my) guns and kill (my) babies…” I most certainly do not think President Obama is evil. And I would love to be proved wrong on the others, specifically, for the sake of this conversation, that he does not disagree with Van Jones. I beg you for one quote from my president, distancing himself from Jones. The president excels at three things: traveling the world, playing golf and bashing Americans: cops, insurance executives, pharmaceutical executives, car makers, bankers, stockbrokers, lobbyists, former presidents, CIA agents and he does it all by himself, not through the White House ventriloquist dummy. So please, one quote and I will gladly say I’m wrong. I want to be wrong.

    And one more thought since you brought Ronnie into this and helped make my point: You write that what I said was no different than “claiming that what the Waffen SS represented in Nazi Germany ‘was not offensive to Ronald Reagan,’” when he went to the Bitburg cemetery. Of course the difference is that it took me ten seconds to find lots of quotes by Reagan regarding his thoughts on the matter, including this one, unscripted and spoken without the aid of a teleprompter:

    “These [SS troops] were the villains, as we know, that conducted the persecutions and all. But there are 2,000 graves there, and most of those, the average age is about 18. I think that there's nothing wrong with visiting that cemetery where those young men are victims of Nazism, also, even though they were fighting in the German uniform, drafted into service to carry out the hateful wishes of the Nazis. They were victims, just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps.”

    So we are not left to wonder. Reagan disapproved of Nazis.

    Regarding the abortion debate, I was not trying to convince you that killing babies is bad, but simply disputing, with evidence, your claim that President Obama’s abortion position was mainstream.

    “There is no basis that the Constitution is a Christian document.” I think this is what is called a straw man argument. I never claimed the Constitution is a Christian document. I claimed that the United States of American is a Christian nation and then supplied evidence from a wide variety of sources.

    Now on to Hannah:

    First, it is obvious that what your dad says about your writing ability is true. Whatever you decide to do for a living I hope it revolves around writing (just remember: “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 20, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative when you’re 40, you have no head.”)

    Now about the sentence that has everyone’s panties in a bunch (but first, you’re welcome, Mark, for getting Hannah to make her début on your blog):

    As a general rule, I write what I mean, and mean what I write, unless there’s a possibility for a good punch line and then all standards go out the window. In the case of the line you find troubling: “It is because of our Christianity, not in spite of it, that the practitioners of the world's lesser religions know they can come here and worship in complete freedom,” I meant what I said, but its construction was directed at pushing your dad’s buttons, a talent we have both honed over the last few months (yes, it’s immature, but we are guys). But even as stated, it should cause you no concern, for it is simply a cruder way of saying that I have examined other religions and have found them lacking, while Christianity brings me closer to the truth of God. I would pray that you are not a practicing Jew simply because it was how you were raised, but because you find it leads you to a better understanding of God than all the others.


  17. In the extreme, I’m sure we could agree that Judaism and Christianity are superior to devil worship or the sacrificing of virgins to the sun god. If we’re in agreement then the rest is just a matter of degree. For me, for example, a cow is simply a domesticated animal that tastes like a slice of heaven when properly prepared, but there is nothing I find sacred about it (although I do believe in karma, or the American version, what goes around…). Likewise, I find the concept of reincarnation amusing but ultimately pointless. Buddhism, with its lack of divine salvation or forgiveness, means little more to me than an abundance of great little paperweights. Hare Krishnas? Kind of hard to take seriously after seeing Robert Stack kick their asses. Islam? Just a wild guess here, but if Colonial America was predominately Muslim I’m thinking the Constitution wouldn’t read quite the way it does. It certainly would not include the First Amendment and besides, I personally prefer my women unstoned with all their original body parts and the Beatitudes over beheadings. Today’s society could use a little more Confucianism, with its emphasis on respect for elders and tradition, but it is more a philosophy than a religion. Finally there is the religion of godlessness practiced by communists and too many liberals, but history has shown that the violence bred of religion is no match for the holocausts spawned by the anti-religionists.

    If my original statement is inaccurate in any way, it is in the apparent lumping of Judaism with all other religions. As a Christian, I and my religion are irrevocably linked to Judaism and a more accurate label of my religious identification might be as a Judeo-Christian. After all, my savior, the Son of God, was Jewish and without God’s chosen people there would be no Christianity. That there has been violence between Jews and Christians in the past is the fault of flawed humans, not the religion. Although there is plenty of butchery in the Old Testament, justification of violence cannot be found in the New Testament, beyond, possibly, justification for self-defense, but even that is disappointingly brief when Jesus tells his disciples to arm themselves, only to cut them short when they want to discuss the merits of a fine sword.

    It is not surprising then that the greatest friends of Jews in today’s world are American Christians. What is troubling is that too many American Jews seem oddly disconnected from the Jewish Ground Zero, Israel. They have constantly voted for presidents harmful to or neglectful of Israel’s safety, be it for the anti-Semite Jimmy Carter, the “I don’t care how much Israel has to give up, I want my Nobel Peace Prize!” Bill Clinton or the “cycle of violence,” it’s all just a big misunderstanding like the Hatfields and the McCoys, Barack Obama.

    But back on point, Christianity for me is simply a fulfillment of Judaism or the next chapter if you will. As a Jew, you have decided that Jesus was possibly a great prophet, but not the Messiah. That’s a significant difference, and for us to believe our respective religions are equal to all others is to make all religions pointless. If I did not believe that my faith in Christ did not offer me eternal salvation, there would be no reason to miss “Meet the Press” on Sunday mornings. Are you really prepared to say that your religious beliefs are no more substantial than those of the head-shrinking Jívaro Indians? That Moses and Reverend Moon are different sides of the same coin?


  18. Now back to your comments, Hannah. You’ve picked up your father’s habit of attributing to me what I did not say. I never said Christians were better than Jews; that would be unchristian of me! Our religion teaches us that every human on this earth is equal; unfortunately other religions do not teach that. I also never claimed that the greatest country on the planet, the United States, has an entirely noble history. But in general, you are preaching to the choir and it is a well-written sermon.

    And now, because you guys apparently drew numbers instead of going alphabetically, Andrea:
    What is it with you three? I never said there were greater or lesser people! Let’s be clear, all religions are not created equal – see above and all cultures are not equal. Period. But we are all – ALL – endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (property). This means that a man and woman in China have the same God-given right as Americans to have as many children as they want, but unfortunately their inferior culture doesn’t permit it. A Muslim woman has the same God-given right as an American woman to wear a two-peace bikini without being shot in the head in a stadium, but unfortunately her inferior culture doesn’t permit it (this in no way suggests that the vast majority of women should ever wear two-piece bikinis). Young African girls and even infants have the God-given right not to be raped, but in some parts of that continent the inferior culture tells them that having sex with a virgin cures AIDS. Britains and Australians have the God-given right to arm themselves, but their slightly inferior culture denies them that right.

    Obviously I have no trouble pissing off people with what I actually said, let’s not make it worse by extrapolating.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I see Mark is at it again, this time going after the great Norman Podhoretz. And me with only half a bottle of Jack left and a snow storm that will prevent me from hitting the liquor store halfway through his post.

    Rich R.