The Case for Impeaching AOC

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We are ultimately responsible for how we defend our republic. If it deteriorates, we can not blame politicians. They are only put there by us.

Questioning the motives of some Democrats who would like to see President Trump removed is understandable.  It’s hard to imagine how anyone is not frustrated with our current hyper-partisan politics. None of this, however, is an excuse for ignoring the gravity of our current situation concerning Mr. Trump’s conduct or the complicity of many who share his political party. 

If President Trump is not held accountable for this conduct, what will stop future presidents from engaging in the same behavior?For those who are defending Mr. Trump, ask yourself these questions:

Would you have no problem with a President Ocasio-Cortez having Rahm Emmanuel fly around the world, offering to have President Ocasio-Cortez do foreign government officials favors, in exchange for targeting her political opponents? Would you be troubled if Ms. Ocasio-Cortez acting as president, withheld money approved by Congress to an ally, in exchange for political opposition research on her Republican opponent? 

Would you be with okay with Rahm Emmanuel soliciting money and favors from foreign actors to help slander, harass and potentially threaten US ambassadors? Would you be okay with Ms. Ocasio-Cortez refusing to allow anyone in her administration to testify in front of the House committees investigating these allegations?  Would you support her decision to release zero documents in regards to House investigations? Would you feel comfortable in her ability to continue to exercise her constitutional duties? Of course not! What we would hope for is that fair minded people of both parties would condemn such behavior. just as we hope that will happen now.

If we condone Mr Trumps current behavior because we condemn the motives of those we don’t agree with, we will in the end weaken our Republic, perhaps beyond repair. 

Everyone of us should be focused on what’s best for the country, not what’s best for our political party preferences. We have to let reason temper our tribalism. Our republic is depending on it.

Why I Am Not a Bernie Bro

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Democratic nominee for President Sen. Bernie Sanders and Jane Sanders are joined by Elena Letona, Executive of NPAC, to announce their endorsement of Sen. Sanders in Boston, MA on Monday, February 22, 2016. Photo: Christopher Dilts / Bernie 2016

 

I try to keep the things I write affirmative not negative. However, as we get closer to choosing a democratic rival to Donald Trump, I thought I might weigh in on my feelings about Bernie Sanders. Here are a few of the reasons why I do not support the candidacy of Mr. Sanders. 

I think he relies on bumper sticker slogans more than actual, detailed plans. I am sympathetic to those who are ready for major change. However, free college tuition, forgiving $1.6 trillion in student debt, and free healthcare for all, are all extremely complicated ideas that are going to require huge structural changes with great complexity. 

I think his approach is logically flawed. One of the reasons college debt is so high is because the cost of college has risen so much over the last 30 years, beyond inflation. How does giving everyone free tuition address the systemic problems that caused the increase costs of education? We all know there is nothing actually free, it is all taxpayer funded. Even if we tax the wealthy more, which I am in favor of, Mr. Sanders is not clear on how he will pay for these massive, expansive and expensive programs.  

In regards to health care, roughly 20% of United States workforce is employed in the healthcare field. You cannot just radically change that system without causing a serious displacement in employment, and disruption to the economy. 

I completely agree that healthcare and education need major overall reform, but it will require many more details and much more incremental planning.

All of his plans will require bipartisan cooperation. I’m certainly in favor of greater unity and cooperation. However, major changes like Mr. Sanders proposes will be met with fierce opposition. How can you compromise, and gain bipartisan cooperation, when your fundamental premise is that everything has to radically change?

He’s too old. I understand this is also a critique of Mr. Biden. I think there is great wisdom in choosing seasoned leaders. However, the demands of the President of the United States are so singular and intense, I worry about placing that large of a burden on someone of that age.

How electable is a democratic socialist? Don’t get me wrong, I’m super bugged by those who compare democratic socialism to Venezuela, the former Soviet Union, Cuba, or other communist/socialist countries. It shows their ignorance of modern political parties around the world. Democratic socialism is nothing like Venezuela, the Soviet Union, Cuba etc. Mr. Sanders is not proposing a government takeover of private property in the means of production. I do believe the electorate is smart enough to understand the distinction. But, I can imagine having to constantly push back on the attacks from conservatives that we’re moving towards some kind of scary communist regime. That prospect is daunting and will distract from talking about more important issues.

Would I vote for Bernie Sanders over Donald Trump? Of course I would. He just isn’t my first choice. I like the idea that his campaign has been funded by small contributions. He deserves credit for creating a movement that feels less candidate centric and more like a collective group. I just do not think he is the best suited for our time. Here is website:  You should check it out, and see what you think about him as a candidate for yourself.

I Love a Chapel

 

I love a chapel—a modern edifice or a glorious old cathedral, a log cabin in the woods or a small town, simple, little church. They all bring me a sense of peace and reflection—reflection on the faith, devotions and prayers offered there. I love to visit houses of worship and see where God’s children come to commune with the divine. If I sit still, I can almost feel the cumulative faith of countless believers who have come to petition their God—precious souls, longing for healing, understanding, acceptance and surely for forgiveness.

Places of worship are where we connect with heaven. We bring our babies. We come to unite and celebrate the union of believers in marriage. It’s also where we come to say goodbye to those who have passed on and moved back to their heavenly home. Second maybe only to the home, these edifices can be, from cradle to grave, our most important sanctuaries!

Recently, I had time before a flight and was wandering around the airport when I noticed the airport chapel. Of course, I went into the small but clean non-denominational space. It was nothing much aesthetically but like all places of worship, it had the feeling of the faithful, the sense of children reaching out to parents—the feeling of longing for home and hoping for rest. It reminded me of many of the hospital chapels I’ve visited over the years. Imagine if those walls could talk! I love sacred spaces, edifices built for worship, prayer, sacraments, religious rights and reflections.

It also led me to ponder how some of my most profound moments communing with God have been in common places. God has given me comfort and direction in classrooms, hotels, parking lots, campgrounds, crowded streets, mountain streams and definitely in the quiet of my room by my bed side.

My own faith tradition teaches me God has heard and answered prayers in the belly of a great fish, a lion’s den, a fiery furnace, ships driven and tossed by the sea, the woods behind a humble homestead and a freezing dungeon in Missouri. I have come to learn for myself that God hears us in both beautiful buildings built to honor him, and busy city busses filled with his restless, wounded children. I believe he is eager to hear from us from both the temple and the testing center, the shopping center and the synagogue.

I’m not so naive as to not recognize that harm has been done in God’s name. However, I’m confident, on balance, that those who have built buildings to worship God, and then filled those pews to that end, do so with the intent to do good. Like the buildings they built, they are trying to provide shelter, comfort, and a place to gather as a community of believers. If there are leaks in the roof or problems with the plumbing, they do all they can to fix it.

I am always a little sad when I see churches that have been abandoned, neglected or re-purposed. I hope as communities we never walk away from churches because they did not live up to our expectations. Instead, I hope we can have the faith and tenacity to help our churches become what they were intended to be and what we desperately need them to be: a place where the troubled find rest, the sinner finds hope, and we all find inspiration to love and care for one another. As Isaiah says, “And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, and for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain.” Isaiah 4:6.

Confessions of a Sports Convert

In small town America sports are king. That was no exception where I grew up. For many kids that was torture. If you didn’t like sports or couldn’t play well it was tough. If you fit both categories it could be a nightmare. 

 To say I was uncoordinated would be a major underselling of how bad by athleticism was. I was partially blind as a kid and that subsequently caused me to shift from being right-handed to left-handed and totally threw off my hand eye coordination. Not to mention I had a natural gift for being afraid of any and all things flying toward my head. I was terrible at everything. Throwing, catching, hitting, running, jumping, ball handling–you name it, I was bad at it. 

 As a result I didn’t like sports. I therefore didn’t watch sports, so, of course, I couldn’t talk about sports with any confidence. This led to a lot of isolation as a kid and even some bullying. So like many people I know, I learned to hate sports. Junior High and High School deepened my loathing of sports. Stereotypical high school jocks and the dreaded PE class, shirts and skins.  Need I say more? It wasn’t until High School I came to know and associate with other sports haters: the yearbook staff, theater, speech and debate. I hung out with people who shared my interests–finding fellowship with my like minded nerd peeps.   

 Now almost thirty years later I have a confession to make. I love sports! No really I love them! I can honestly say I would rather watch a ball game than about anything else. So what happened? Two things really: my children and moving to Indianapolis. As my kids got older some of them liked sports and where athletic (they 100% did not get this from me). I began to take an interest in their interest. It was fun to watch them play and enjoy it. 

 Secondly, we moved to Indianapolis. We had only been in town a week or so before I noticed we were the only family on the block who every Friday during football season were not wearing Colts Jerseys (I am not kidding about this). Grocery store clerks, bank tellers, accountants, lawyers, doctors, nurses, school teachers all wore Colts Jerseys. In 2009 you could go to any public park in Indiana and yell “Hey Peyton!” and a half a dozen children (boys and girls) would turn their heads wondering who called their names. Sure, they loved they Colts, but Indianapolis (Indy) loved all sports. 

 In a  very real way sports saved Indy as this 2013 article by David Masciorta points out.  Turns out in the 1970s Indy, like many other midwest industrial cities, was in trouble. Their aggressive plan to turn Indy into a thriving sports hub paid off. Subsequently, Indy faired better economically and got a jump start on their downtown revitalization compared to Detroit, Cleveland or Pittsburgh (all of which are amazing cities that I highly recommend you visit).  Not only does Indy have 11 professional sports teams it is the host for the national headquarters of the NCCA and often hosts many collegiate and professional sports tournaments. So it was easy to fall in love with sports there. I started watching more games so I could hold a conversation with my neighbors and friends and found that now that I didn’t feel the pressure to play sports I could more easily enjoy them. Moving to Boston has only amped that up (sorry Tom Brady I don’t care how much you win–I’ll always be a Colts fan).

 Over the last ten years I’ve grown from having a tacit interest in sports to becoming a full throated fan. I love the drama of not knowing who will win and who will lose, not to mention the community feel that comes from being part of the local team. 

 I also love the virtuosity of the athletes! What they can do is amazing! I find sports to be an escape from the complicated, nuanced world we live in. I love this new part of life and the joy it brings me. I am also glad to let go of the burden sports felt like as a kid. I do, however, feel bad when I am talking sports with someone and I see another friend or family member roll their eyes like “Gross, sports.”  I want to say, “Hey, I get it!  I used to feel that way too but trust me, it’s better than you think and you may even come to love it!” So I say, play ball!             

 

We Must Be Honest With Who We Are and Who We Can Be

America isn’t a place—it’s an idea; an idea rooted in principles found in the honored creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

We have often fallen short in living up to our ideals. This is America’s story. We dream big and fall short. We aspire to lofty ideals but our day to day is messy and inconsistent will those ideals.

Fortunately, something in the creed keeps pushing us forward causing us to break through and more perfectly move upward. We push on determined to extend those promised blessings to more and resist, even at the expense of our lives, the exclusion of those ideals to any who seek them.

Let’s take today and pause to ponder deeply those ideals. Let’s be honest with who we are and who we yet can become. Let’s do more than look to the past with a lens of patriotic zeal seeing only our proudest moments or look back seeing only our sins and the misdeeds cankering our soul and leaving us hopeless.

We look to the past insomuch as it is our guide for the future telling us what to embrace and what to shun, what to celebrate and what to reconcile. With the clarity only hindsight can give, we fix our view to the future, bending our wills to those ideals that will move us step by step to a more perfect union.

Let’s aspire to be as kind as we are courageous! As committed to equality as we are to obtaining wealth. Let’s temper our fierceness by our love for our fellow man.

We are great! We are troubled! We can heal! We can rededicate ourselves to our enshrined creeds, our core beliefs, our sacred vows—written in stone, paid for with blood and sealed on the heart of every person yearning to be free.