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Sunday, August 11, 2013

“V” Is Not Just for VICTORY

In my last post, after an essay on divisions and conflicts invented by radical Republicans,  I indicated in conclusion: “In my estimation, all of this Republican radical regression comes down to a Party without Virtue, Value or Veracity, all of which we shall review in my next posting: “V” is NOT JUST FOR VICTORY.”  Let us take stock.

Virtue = “Moral excellence and righteousness; goodness; efficacy; merit.”  Republican conservatives like to pretend that they are concerned with morality.  They tout the need for religion in the public square (like the 10 commandments on public buildings, prayer in schools, or creationism taught in schools), just as they substitute a pro-life stance for righteousness or law and order for justice, as well as a War on Drugs as a stand-in for ethics.  Yet they ignore the overwhelming message of the Old and New Testaments that the essence of religion and morality is care of vulnerable people like the poor, the widow and the orphan.  Republicans tend to ignore the essence of the Judeo-Christian message because it does not fit their “ideology.”  Take a look at the following:

Jesus made clear that God, and his own ministry, was on the side of the poor and downtrodden, by defining salvation as depending on how individuals and nations treat the poorest and most afflicted in the rather alarming parable or allegory of the Sheep and the Goats:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.  And all the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on his left.  Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty, and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or naked, and clothe you?’  “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

In both the Old and New Testaments, helping the less fortunate is a message without caveats; it is simply something that must be done: a duty, an obligation, a way of life.  The overwhelming message in all these sources is that God wants it this way!  Those in positions of authority - Kings, Judges, representatives; and those who are rich -- are all responsible for the care and protection of the unfortunate, especially the poor:

[A Commandment to kings] “Open your mouth for the dumb, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.” “Woe to those who enact evil statutes, and to those who continually record unjust decisions, so as to deprive the needy of justice and rob the poor of My people of their rights…(Isa. 10:1-3)  [See my BLOG post of 4/10/2011 for much more on this topic.]

The Republican Party has lost its moral ground, and has substituted its own eviscerated version of what is of virtue. They have deserted their ethical foundation and no longer equate helping the afflicted with morality or moral excellence or with goodness.  They lack the most important virtue of all: justice for the vulnerable.  Instead they have raised to a new level the care of the rich, which turns the admonitions of scripture to be attentive to the poor and needy on its head.   Woe to them!

Value = “quality of a thing by which it is thought of as desirable, useful, important, worthy of esteem.”  The esteem with which the public holds this Congress is at an all-time low, as just 13% approved its performance at the beginning of this year.  Perhaps that is because these Republican radicals have done nothing useful or important, but have made a habit and career of being obstructionists.  They are, after all, the PARTY of NO!  Just what legislation of major importance have they passed?  Tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires?  Huge subsidies for major oil companies?  Department of Defense funding that provides more than even the Pentagon says they need?  How about 40 attempts to repeal Obamacare?  What of importance have they accomplished that is worthy of esteem?  Nothing that I can recall!  In terms of their major responsibility – to legislate – they have failed miserably! 

On the other hand, there is much evidence that their existing legislative record is undesirable, useless, unimportant and unworthy of a major political party.  On March 14th of this year, first published a list of thirty pieces of Republican legislation “that Republicans are using to destroy America” and called it “The Dirty Thirty.” (check with them for their latest update at  Thanks to Senate Democrats and President Obama, very few of their legislative debacles have actually been signed into law! Here are just some of their listings:

·    A bill (HR 1179) called “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act of 2011.” The bill, introduced by Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb), allows health care providers and pharmacists to deny birth control to women if it conflicts with their religious or moral convictions.
·    Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) introduced a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” (HR 3) that would limit the rape exemption for abortion to “forcible rape” which would have defined many rapes, for example, statutory rape of a minor, as non-forcible and therefore not covered by federal assistance.
·    The U.S. House of Representatives passed (by a 234-182 vote) an amendment sponsored by Virginia Foxx (R-NC) prohibiting teaching hospitals from receiving federal funding if they teach doctors how to perform abortions. Unfortunately, as a result of this legislation new physicians will not receive the training needed to save women’s lives.
·    Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind, introduced a bill (HR 217) in the U.S. House of Representatives to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding, despite the many other services Planned Parenthood provides to both men and women, including contraception and STD testing
·    Republicans have voted to drastically reduce the WIC program.  Yet WIC could be fully funded at the cost of just one week of Bush’s tax cuts for millionaires. According to the Center for American Progress, “one day’s worth of millionaire tax cuts would feed needy families for a year.”
·    The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives voted to de-fund NPR
·     Republicans oppose net neutrality. They want corporations to control the internet to better their profits and to control the message getting out. A free press has always been fascism’s most potent enemy; it is no wonder they want to strangle it.  At a Communications and Technology Subcommittee Hearing “House Republicans pushed for a resolution to eliminate ‘net neutrality’ rules recently adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).”
·    Republicans voted to end a program “that helped low-income families weatherize their homes and permanently reduce their energy bills”
·    The U.S. House of Representatives wants to undermine state gun controls by forcing each state to honor the gun-carrying permits of other states. H.R. 822 the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011 “would require all states to allow out-of-state visitors to carry concealed firearms as long as the laws of the visitors’ home states allow them to do so” which would override protections that other states citizens want

Although not part of the “Dirty Thirty”, it is instructive to realize that before Congress adjourned for their August recess, they failed to pass a Transportation bill that contained drastic cuts that Republicans have proposed in the past, but which they could not stomach before returning home to meet with constituents!  Ruth Marcus writes in the Washington Post: “On Wednesday, House Republican leaders abruptly yanked a $44 billion transportation spending bill   from floor debate. The purported reason was scheduling — a pile of proposed amendments that supposedly made it difficult to finish up in time.
In fact, lawmakers had already disposed of most of that pile. The more plausible reason: The votes weren’t there. The bill cut too much, even for many Republicans to stomach — despite the fact that they had passed a budget requiring cuts of that size. When it came time to put their mouths (and votes) where the money wasn’t, lawmakers balked.”  And that is just one more example of the lack of quality (value) in this Republican Party.

This is just a smattering of what the Republican right-wing nuts are fomenting.  State laws and other proposed laws by Republicans are even worse.  The only virtue one can find in all of this is that of persistence – the Republican Right does not stop in its quest to de-claw and de-fang the power of national government.  Unless, of course, that power can be used to their advantage in forcing people to comply with their very conservative view of the world.  2014 is the edge of a precipice – if more Republicans gain seats in the House or in the Senate or in state legislatures and governor’s mansions, the very fabric of democracy will be torn asunder, and YOU will find yourself in a situation where your life is under the control of politicians and industrialists who do not VALUE your citizenship or your rights.

Veracity = habitual truth; honesty; accuracy of statement.  Republicans in Congress and elsewhere have persistently used lying as a campaign or legislative strategy.  It is now an accepted practice to best another candidate by lying about his record and his person.  This is a rampant strategy that prevails throughout the country at all levels of electioneering and of office-seeking.  It is clearly a disgrace, and what’s more, it violates a very fundamental tenet of Judeo-Christian religion and communal life: that lying is harmful to individuals and to a community or nation.  That is why its prohibition shows up in the foundational tenets of many major religions, because lying fundamentally alters one’s relationship with one’s God and with one’s neighbors.  Its effects are devastating to a society if it becomes rampant because friendship and familial bonds and democratic institutions are all threatened by a lack of veracity and thus a lack of trust in anything being said or promulgated.
Republican right-wingers have consistently lied about President Obama’s person, his religion, his birth, his character and his legislative triumphs.  And their prevarications do not stop there; instead, this strategy has been applied at every level of office-seeking and legislating.  By so doing, Republicans have perpetrated upon the citizens of this nation, the following:

>A lack of faith in the functions and institutions of government
>Confusion about health care reform and other major pieces of legislation (such as Dodd-Frank) and what it does for the average citizen
>A lack of respect for our representatives and most politicians and a prevailing belief that all politicians are crooks
>A reluctance as citizens to become personally involved in political activism, or office-seeking
>An acceptance of “bamboozling” –  being misled, having everything distorted, being made a fool of – the general public accepts the idea that one must live with this prevalence of being “taken” and lied to in the public and private arenas of politics and commerce. 
>The result is a greater sense of apathy and despair of fighting against the tide.  Advocacy for oneself and others has been broadly affected.

“V” is not just for Victory, which is what Republican right-wingers seem to cherish most -- Win at all costs, and use the power granted by winning to the disadvantage of ordinary folk.  “V” must also stand for Virtue, Value and Veracity – none of which you will get if you continue to vote for candidates who cannot, and will not, deliver on any of these.  2014 will be a watershed year, and YOU have the power of the most important “V” – the Vote.  If you don’t use it to stop the devastating juggernaut of anti-democratic legislation and actions emanating from the Republican Party, YOU will reap consequences that will literally destroy our governing principles.  Say NO to the Party of NO!