Sunday, October 7

Remember Kavanaugh

As we approach the midterm elections, Kavanaugh is going to remain a significant talking point for candidates.

Senator Grassley (R, IA), who suggested women might not be up to the task of working on the Senate Judiciary Committee because it's a lot of work, also said that he believes the "battle cry of Republicans" will be 'Remember Kavanaugh.' So, yes, he walked back his statements about women and made it clear they have trouble recruiting anyone to that committee and then they had to point out how few women Republicans are in the Senate, which makes it hard to recruit them when there are other committees they might prefer to serve on.

But it's this battle cry that interests me. Yes, let's remember Kavanaugh. Let's remember how the Committee wanted to ram through his nomination even as other people said "Wait," and much has been made of that as metaphor for sexual violence against women.

Let's remember Kavanaugh's passionate outburst on that Thursday when he seemed to lose his mind just a little bit as he suggested Clinton-aligned conspiracy and actually called out Democrats.

Then let's remember his op-ed in the Washington Post declaring that he is an independent and impartial justice, a piece that would not have been necessary if it weren't for his outburst on that Thursday. And isn't the Washington Post one of those many bastions of "fake news" as ascribed by 45? I'm not sure how to reconcile that.

Let's remember the 2,400 law professors who believe Kavanaugh is unfit for the Supreme Court.

Let's remember the likelihood he lied under oath about ridiculous things so chose an inordinately absurd path when he could have said,
Look, I drank a lot when I was Georgetown Prep. I behaved badly. And I wish I had simply said to Dr. Ford at the beginning of all of this that while I don't recall this incident and I stand by my assertion that I am not guilty of what she has alleged of me, I'm horrified on her behalf that this happened to her. I'm horrified that any women believe they have no voice if they have been the victims of sexual assault. I'm horrified our justice system does not do more for women while, at the same time, carefully protecting the rights of the accused who may be unjustly accused. The law requires balance. Justice demands balance. If I have the honor of being confirmed as a justice to the Supreme Court, I pledge that I will do my best to be that representative of Justice who seeks balance while affirming and upholding the Constitution. I will do my best to ensure that the Constitution, designed to represent all Americans, does, in fact, represent, protect, and support all Americans, regardless of political affiliation, gender, race, or creed. Because that's what Justice demands.
But he couldn't because most of that would not be true, but dang, it would have been an awesome sound bite!

Instead the Committee wasted time inquiring about his drinking and ralphing (weak stomach? really? that's the best you could do? dude, you had better not eat anything spicy while on the Court for the next 30 years) when he could have handled that without pretending he was some weak-stomached angel. He could have asserted he made bad choices when he was young, as many of us did, and then said he learned from his errors and has worked hard to become a man of integrity.

But he didn't. He and the GOP played an entirely different hand.

Let's remember this was the closest vote in history.

Let's remember that Manchin abandoned his party to get re-elected so it will be fun to see how that works out for him.

Let's remember how hysterical Lindsey Graham got, even as he accused women of being too emotional and hysterical.

Let's remember how the president mocked Dr. Ford in his support of Kavanaugh, perhaps not realizing though likely not caring that when he mocked Dr. Ford, he mocked every sexual assault survivor.

Let's remember how the Democrats were not blameless in this fiasco. Though Feinstein claims her office did not leak Dr. Ford's letter, just as we have to wonder if Kavanaugh told the truth, we have to wonder if Feinstein told the truth.

Let's remember that Democrats and Republicans are going to do their best to cash in on this Kavanaugh mess and try to leverage it like crazy to their own advantage, adding more bricks to the incivility walls and pretty much ensuring bipartisanship hasn't a snowball's chance in hell.

But more importantly, let's remember that all of these clowns--Republican, Democrat, and any other label--work for us. Our taxes pay their salaries. Don't let them tell us what we need to believe.

Let's tell them what we believe and make it clear what we want them to do.

We won't agree on abortion. There are those on the right who believe abortion should be banned at all costs. I'm not a proponent of abortion but I still have to wonder why the federal government thinks it has any right to tell a woman what to do with her body. If they want to "protect" women's bodies from abortion, they'd better first protect women from sexual assault.

We won't agree on guns. I can't even begin to attack that morass but we have to be clear that no one wants to abridge anyone 2nd Amendment rights, but there are a lot of us who have to wonder why you need a semi-automatic weapon to go hunting if the whole point of hunting is to prove you're smarter than the animal and if part of hunting is the rush of tracking and making that single shot. Seems like a semi-automatic weapon means nearly any numbskull can kill a deer, but also wreck the skin and the meat in the process.

We won't agree on immigrants although all of us are immigrants, even if we have to count back several generations.

We won't agree on gay rights. We won't agree on a whole host of things, but we ought to agree that in this country, unlike in any other country, we have the right and freedom to be who we are.

Unless we've completely forgotten why the early colonists fought the American Revolution, have forgotten why they wrote the Declaration of Independence, and why they drafted the Constitution.
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Yes, remember Kavanaugh.

Monday, October 1

I'm a moderate Republican and. . .

A few days ago I found out there are some folks who think I'm a liberal Democrat. I understand why. I do and that's fine. We read and see and understand how we choose to interpret through our lens and perspectives and if I don't always say something with which you agree then. . . . Whatever.

However, that's part of the problem. We're not listening and we're not asking clarifying questions. Instead, we're making assumptions, trolling, making death threats. I cannot even begin to wrap my head around all of the complexities we face just now and it's just going to get harder as both sides of the political aisle insist on getting more and more entrenched.

So a couple of thoughts that seem random but aren't, at least in my head. First, many of us have read Chinua Achebe's brilliant book Things Fall Apart. I'm not going to give you a book report or even a book review because what strikes me is that in this book, the protagonist, Okonkwo, consistently tries to control everything. Achebe references Yeats's poem "The Second Coming", specifically the line "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold." I remember when I first read this line I sensed immediately what Achebe might have meant, though it might have simply been the way the line and novel resonated with me. My thinking was that the tighter we try to hold on to things, the more we try to control things, the greater the tension and, sooner or later, the center will not hold and everything will collapse. I feel like that's where we are with the Kavanaugh story.

Too many people have chased after different things that appeal best or most to them and, well, it's a disastrous mess. Disastrous on more levels than I can imagine or try to articulate. And this mess is merely one of many as politicians get more firmly entrenched into positions from which they have no recourse but to dig deeper and shout more loudly.

I wrote my piece about #whyididntreport. After that, when talking with a friend, other recollections surfaced. Mostly small stuff but, even still, it was reminder that too often young women are simply not safe with older men. On the other hand, there are often young women who are acutely aware of the control they can have over men by simply whispering a threat. Either behavior is reprehensible and I worry we are too far into the abyss to find our ways back.

So this whole Republican thing. Yes, I'm a moderate Republican and I worry that my party has lost its mind. I'm not too sure about the Democrats either because right now there is just a lot of positioning that seems mostly about proving the other guy is a nitwit or some immoral monster or both.

I was thinking, though, about why I'm still a Republican because, given the behavior of the party over the past few years, well, I don't even. I'm not going to talk about this administration because I know that's incredibly controversial and my hope and prayer is that this president is an anomaly. However, having said that, my further hope and prayer is that people will wake up and pay attention to how a democracy can and should work, and by "people" I mean both voters and politicians.

Even so, I'm a fiscal conservative and social moderate. I think that's a biblical position. Oh yes, I'm also an evangelical Christian. Now I'm not a theologian and don't pretend to be one, and I've no doubt some of my former students can sort out my exegetical mistakes but my position is fairly simple.

I'm a fiscal conservative because we are charged to be good stewards. I'm a social moderate because we are charged to care for the widows and orphans, for those who cannot care for themselves. I also believe the Bible teaches us to care for them until they are able to care for themselves because as we are good stewards of all things, we also help others become good stewards of their capacities, skills, and abilities.

Sure, it's a lot more complicated than that for many of the issues that face us, but I think it really gets down to some fundamentals we've forgotten or choose to ignore. First, James 1:19 which reads
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.
But you should think about reading this guy's blog which is powerfully articulate and thoughtful on the topic of Brett Kavanaugh. Second, three of the hardest verses in the Bible:
Jesus replied:“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Matthew 22:37-39, NIV).
I'm fairly confident that God is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. God is much greater than either party. God does not bless one and condemn the other. He knows our words are not often what is really in our heads and hearts. He knows how we are able to dissemble and rationalize. Politics and perspective of patriotism or anything else notwithstanding. 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us:
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
It's likely there are times I err more liberal than conservative on some issues, especially when it comes to the care and treatment of women and children as well as for those who are fighting so hard to be successful. And I'm okay with that.