Jack Cluth

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Newt Gingrich 2012: Because hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness come naturally

By: Jack Cluth Friday January 20, 2012 1:28 pm

(More at What Would Jack Do?)

I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office. And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that…. Every person in here knows personal pain. Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things. To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary, a significant question in a presidential campaign, is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine. My two daughters, my two daughters wrote the head of ABC and made the point that it was wrong, that they should pull it, and I am, frankly, astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate.

- Newt Gingrich

It was just another GOP debate, this one in Charleston, SC. Yet more posturing, tenuous “facts”, unsubstantiated accusations…in short, there was little to distinguish this debate from the 114 that preceded it. Except for a stunning, astonishing, and truly mind-blowing display of hypocrisy from one Newton Leroy Gingrich. The truly sad thing is that no one, least of all the mainstream media, seems to be calling Gingrich out for what can only accurately be described as epic, sanctimonious pharisaicalness.

There Gingrich was, claiming the mantle of the unfairly attacked when John King had the temerity to ask him about an interview that ABC News did with ex-wife #2, Marianne. In it, his ex-wife claimed that Gingrich had come to her in the midst of having an affair with Callista Bialek (now wife #3) and asked for an open marriage. Marianne Gingrich saw the request for its self-serving nature and refused.

Personally, I don’t care if Newt Gingrich has been married 15 times and has a predilection for concurrent affairs with farm animals. What happens between consenting species is no one else’s damned business…unless you’re a Democratic President and Gingrich happens to be the Republican Speaker of the House. This isn’t intended to defend or justify Bill Clinton’s extramarital cigar-related peccadilloes, but Gingrich was front and center in the Republican effort to crucify the President during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Gingrich led the pitchforks-and-torches brigade in the effort to embarrass the President as much as possible, with an eye towards forcing him from office.

At that point in time, Gingrich absolutely believed that Bill Clinton’s unfaithfulness rendered him a moral reprobate unworthy of holding the highest office in the land. To Gingrich’s way of thinking, the President’s embarrassing affair was an abomination, an affront to all the American people hold dear. Gingrich took it as his solemn mission to inflict as much damage as possible. That Gingrich’s marital record and his integrity was a house built upon a foundation of sand was somehow not germane to President Clinton’s unforgivable moral transgressions. This from the man who once counseled fellow Republicans to describe their Democratic opponents using words like

Decay, pathetic, sick, lie, betray, shallow, traitors, hypocrisy, hypocrisy, radical, incompetent, permissive, destructive, greed, corrupt, selfish, shame, disgrace, bizarre, cynicism, cheat, steal, abuse of power

Helluva guy, that Newt Gingrich….

Given Gingrich’a history of moralizing, and his current pandering to the Religious Right, King’s question was spot-on, and I applaud him for having the balls to ask it in front of a audience overtly hostile to any question relevant to Gingrich’s sanctimonious, holier-than-thou moralizing. Would that more effort could have been expended in forcing Gingrich to actually address the issue instead of allowing him to go on the attack, but it was at least a step in the right direction.

Not surprisingly, Gingrich holds himself to a standard far removed from those he holds others (read: Democrats) to. When a Democrat does it, it’s the worst sort of moral failure imaginable. When a Republican does it, it’s merely a case of being a fallible, imperfect human being worthy of God’s (and voters) forgiveness.

I find it astonishing that Gingrich’s hypocrisy and personal double standards are allowed to slide without question. I can’t help but think that if he was a Democrat, Gingrich would have long since been hounded and harassed to the point where he’d have no choice but to pull out of the race for the nomination. That may be the partisan Liberal Democrat in me speaking, but given today’s media and political environment, I don’t think I’m wrong.

Gingrich has no claim to offense when and if questions about his lack of integrity and marital fidelity are raised. Those questions will be raised honestly…because Gingrich himself long ago made them relevant. There’s simply no way Gingrich can claim immunity from the same examination and scrutiny that he demands other (read: Democrats) be subjected to.

May he stay in the race long enough to be hoisted on his own petard. I truly think I’d take WAY too much pleasure from witnessing that process. Part of me thinks that might make me a bad person, but when it comes to Newton Leroy Gingrich, a trip on the Schadenfreude Express is its own reward.


An open letter to Keith Olbermann

By: Jack Cluth Friday January 6, 2012 9:41 am

(More at What Would Jack Do?)

Dear Keith,

I hope you don’t mind that I address you by your first name. I’ve been a fan for years, so long that I almost feel I know you…or at least as much as you can know someone you’ve seen only on a television screen.

From your time at ESPN forward, I’ve watched your career unfold. I’ve found myself eagerly looking forward to seeing you on my TV. Your intellect, your sardonic wit, your “no sacred cows” philosophy, and your surpassing skill and talent have never been in doubt. Your ability to entertain and inform have always been top-notch and well worth whatever time I’ve invested in watching you.

Having said that, though, I must confess to being greatly disturbed and concerned. I’ve watched you evolve from an erudite sportscaster into a strong and forceful Liberal voice. I’ve been a devotee of “Countdown”, first on MSNBC and now on Current TV, for years…and I’m beginning to fear that you’re becoming a willing victim of your own success.

I get that you’re opinionated, always have been, and don’t suffer fools lightly. I admire that about you, because we share those qualities. Somewhere along the line, though, you’ve lost the ability to step back from the stories you report on. The stories, and the silliness and hypocrisy too often behind them, have become personal. You’ve traveled from the realm of trenchant, insightful analysis to the domain of name-calling, personal insults, and screaming. You’ve become a Liberal version of the clowns on Fox News Channel you so frequently excoriate. You’ve become a thinking man’s Ed Schultz…and that’s NOT a compliment.

It seems that everywhere you’ve gone conflict has followed. For whatever reason, you find yourself at loggerheads with your employer early on. Perhaps the reasons for the conflicts are legitimate, but given that this has been the story wherever you’ve plied your trade, it seems clear that the problem isn’t with those who sign your checks. The problem is YOU. Whether it’s rampant ego, a sense of entitlement, an over-cooked sense of your own value and worth, or combinations of the former, you’ve demonstrated yourself incapable of playing well with others. How much longer do you think media outlets will tolerate your immaturity and inability to play by the rules? How many bridges will you burn before there are no bridges left and, even worse, no one left willing to build bridges for you?

I understand that objective journalism died with the advent of Fox News Channel. Ideologues and moral midgets like Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Megyn Kelly may have carved out their niche among those who like their news wrapped with outrage and Right-wing propaganda. That truth doesn’t convey upon you license to engage in the same sort of incivility on the other end of ideological spectrum. Shouldn’t you be able to rise above such narrow pettiness?

I’ve enjoyed “Countdown” for its insightful analysis, its reliance on facts, and it devotion to divining the truth. The “Countdown” I occasionally watch now is but a shell of the principled work of journalistic excellence that used to be offered up every night at 8pm ET. What I see now is you shouting, exercising your considerable anger, and engaging in personal insults directed at those with whom you clearly disagree. I admire your commitment, and I generally find myself in agreement with your point of view. What I can’t stomach is the anger, the vitriol, and the insults directed at those with whom you differ. Must you so willingly descend to the realm of those you excoriate??

Your on-air conduct reveals an angry, intolerant personality who differs from Fox News’ talking heads only on ideological terms. Your off-air conflicts with your employers leaves me wondering if you’re incapable of playing well with others. Your screaming, your profanity, and your childish conduct are unworthy of someone who fancies himself a journalist who admires Edward R. Murrow. It’s time to grow up and show that you’re the better person…but your behavior leaves me fearing that you’re not.

I recognize that you long ago abandoned any pretense of objectivity. In today’s hyper-partisan media environment, that’s understandable. There’s nothing wrong with pushing a Liberal agenda, especially given that there’s an entire network devoted to openly pushing Right-wing propaganda. That said, I cannot continue to give you a free pass for your immaturity, incivility, and screaming. It solves nothing, and it serves only to widen the gaping ideological chasm that exists in this country. Somewhere, somehow, Americans need to stand up to the hyper-partisan incivility and voluble intolerance that characterizes the state of our public discourse.

You may think someone an ass…but that doesn’t convey license to be an ass yourself…and yes, I recognize that I haven’t always done a stellar job of living up to that admonition myself.

As much as it pains me to say this, I can no longer condone your behavior. I can’t in good conscience continue watching “Countdown”, knowing what it could be, and recognizing what’s it’s devolved into. Some time ago, I resolved to boycott Ed Schultz for the same reasons. Scream loud and long enough, and eventually your audience will begin to tune you out. Congratulations, Keith; you’ve succeeded in alienating one of your biggest fans.

I’ll return when and if you can conduct yourself like a journalist…but I suspect that you’re too busy burning bridges to notice or care. Good luck to you.


Jack Cluth

Vaclav Havel: The leader Kim Jong-il could never have been

By: Jack Cluth Tuesday December 20, 2011 11:58 am

(More at What Would Jack Do?)

It would be difficult to overstate the odious nature of a despot willing- perhaps even eager- to allow his subjects to starve in order to maintain the world’s fifth-largest military. And a burgeoning nuclear weapons program. And his own gluttony, greed, and self-interest. I would under any other circumstance ignore the passing of Kim Jong-il, but for the untimely passing of Vaclav Havel. Havel, a strong proponent of non-violent resistance, was a gifted leader who helped guide Czechoslovakia from out under Soviet rule and through the Velvet Revolution. Unlike India and Pakistan’s bloody divorce, the Czech Republic and Slovakia split the sheets peacefully after the end of the Cold War. The transition was smooth and bloodless, due in large part to the force of Havel’s moral authority and inspired leadership. While Kim allowed his people to starve in order that he might eat lobster on overseas trips, Havel helped lead Czechs and Slovaks out of the darkness that was the Warsaw Pact and into the sunshine, chaos, and uncertainty of freedom and a capitalist economy. One could argue that his failing was in not being able to keep Czechoslovakia together, but the Velvet Divorce wasn’t a matter of if, but when. Havel’s calm demeanor and devotion to non-violence was exactly what Czechs and Slovaks needed exactly when they needed it.

Vaclav Havel was every bit the true leader and statesman that Kim Jong-il had no hope of becoming. Havel’s observations on Kim’s hellish rule should have goaded the world’s leading democracies into action. And it just might have…if North Korea had oil. But that’s another story best left for another time.

If you’ve been on Twitter over the past couple days, you’ve probably run across the theme that 2011 has been a VERY bad, nasty, horrible year to be a despot, dictator, or despotic mass murderer. The Arab Spring and burgeoning democracy movements around the world seem to have put the lie to the idea that totalitarianism can thrive and flourish if it’s willing to be as brutal and draconian as necessary to quell the restive hordes. The regime of Syria’s Bashir Assad is living on borrowed time, though it’s already killed more 5000 of their countrymen. Bahrain has brutally put down anti-government protests with the help of Saudi Arabia (not exactly a shining example for democracy in its own right. 2012 will likely see more brutal despots meeting untimely ends. Freedom is spreading, and the world owes a debt of gratitude for showing that non-violence can be an effective tool of resistance.

The truly sad thing about Havel’s passing is how little attention it’s received. Vaclav Havel was a writer, scholar, dissident, and leader of considerable skill and renown. His devotion to non-violence should have him mentioned in the same breath as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Perhaps history will be more kind to Havel than the contemporary media, who have largely treated his passing with the fleeting attention that can’t begin to do justice to his contributions.

We will not likely be gifted with a man of Vaclav Havel’s stature any time soon.

It’s the only system we have, so get over your whiny selves…like Adam Carolla did, right?

By: Jack Cluth Wednesday December 7, 2011 11:44 am

(More at What Would Jack Do?)

A very wise man once told me that ’tis far better to be thought a fool and a moron than to be Adam Carolla and remove any lingering doubt. It would be difficult to do justice to the depth of the ignorance and self-satisfied, judgmental contempt with which Carolla dismisses the Occupy Wall Street movement. Rather than looking around him and realizing (and admitting) that the world really is set up to benefit those who already have at the expense of those who don’t, Carolla takes what he sees as today’s whiny entitlement generation to task for wanting to level the playing field.

The thing about Carolla (and people who think like him) is that, while he’s achieved success, he seems to have forgotten where he came from. He may have awakened on third base, but that doesn’t mean he hit a triple. He likely began at the bottom of his profession and worked his way up; good on him. Unfortunately, his words are those of someone who believes that he’s where he deserves to be…and to Hell with everyone else. Carolla has benefited from the system being set up as it is; now that he’s reached the top of the mountain, he sees no reason to level the playing field. It’s as if he’s lost sight of the fact that millions of Americans aren’t nearly as successful as he is, and for any number of reasons. Carolla seems to assume that lack of success comes from not working hard. That might be part of it, but the reality is that the playing field isn’t level, and it’s tilted in favor of people like him. Not surprisingly, Carolla’s pretty OK with that idea.

The truly disturbing aspect of Carolla’s diatribe (outside of his arrogant and insufferable air of self-superiority) is his “I got mine; you can damned well get your own” attitude. He’s successful, which allows him to close the door behind him to keep the unwashed masses from disturbing his serenity. Damn those who dare to act as if the system isn’t skewed towards those with money and power. Those who would dare to suggest that we need to revisit an economic system which allows the rich to get richer at the expense of the vast majority are….

“….Self-entitled pricks who think the world owes them a living. And now we’re getting the first wave of these douchebags.

It’s certainly not surprising when the wealthy and privileged act as if they were to the manor born. Carolla clearly seems to think that success is his birthright. He’ll argue that he worked hard to get where he did, and I’m not about to argue with that. But does that success give him the right to be a dick? Does it confer upon him the right to dismiss those who believe that the system is flawed and skewed towards those who already possess wealth and power?

If Carolla bothered to honestly look and listen, he’d understand that Occupy Wall Street isn’t about spoiled children wanting things to be given to them. He of course benefits from the current system, so it would stand to reason that he might be resistant to change. Nonetheless, all Carolla has really done is to reveal himself to be intolerant, insensitive, self-absorbed, and completely convinced of his own moral superiority. Smug, self-satisfied arrogance is not an argument, nor is bluster, insults, and unfocused rage.

Who’s the douchebag now?

Lies, damned lies, and virtually anything Newt Gingrich says

By: Jack Cluth Friday December 2, 2011 11:41 am

(More at What Would Jack Do?)

Next to Romney, Gingrich seems authentic. Next to Herman Cain, Gingrich seems faithful. Next to Jon Huntsman, Gingrich seems conservative. Next to Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, Gingrich actually does look like an intellectual.

- Maureen Dowd

People like me are what stand between us and Auschwitz.

- Newt Gingrich

There’s fudging the truth. There’s prevaricating. There’s lying outright. And then there’s whatever you’d call whatever it is that Newt Gingrich is doing. The current leader in the horse race for the 2012 GOP nomination (don’t worry, it’ll probably be someone else next week) is a serial philanderer, a liar, and a man for whom the term “flip-flop” may well have been coined.

How silly have things become? How embarrassing is the predicament the GOP finds itself in? Well, in the “family values” party, Gingrich’s “zipper problem” and his well-chronicled history of infidelity seems to be the (roundly ignored) 800-lb. gorilla in the room. Gingrich once counseled Republican candidates to demonize their Democratic opponents with words like “sick” and “twisted” (those are actually some of the nicer adjectives). Gingrich has stated that he never, EVER lobbied for Freddie Mac…and then it came out that Freddie Mac paid him somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.6 million for “advice” offered as a “historian.” If you’re thinking that Gingrich might be..um, lacking in integrity and decency, you’ve hit the nail flush on the head.

Gingrich is arguably responsible for giving birth to the ugly, partisan tone that currently exists in Washington. During his tenure as Speaker of the House, Gingrich’s “slash and burn” strategy was designed to do two things: increase Republican power and influence and, by extension, increase his own. Once he left the House, he continued to advise Republicans to frame their opponents in terms that painted them as evil, anti-American, miserable human beings. His approach created the rift which has grown with time and helped to give birth to the Tea Party.

IF Gingrich becomes the GOP nominee, and the odds of that appear to be slim, then Republicans will officially cede any claim to morality and human decency. You can’t expound on the sanctity of marriage when your standard-bearer is a serial adulterer who’s on his third marriage. You can’t talk about “taking America back” when your Presidential candidate is a proponent of the politics of division, demonization, and personal destruction. If Gingrich is the Republican who emerges from the crowded primary field to take on President Obama, Republicans will have officially revealed themselves to be zealots and hypocrites who care all and only about their narrow agenda and their willingness to force it upon ALL Americans. They’ll have revealed themselves to be inattentive, clueless sheep easily propagandized into voting against their own interests. Worst of all, they’ll have revealed themselves once again to be willing to vote against their interests in service of the oligarchy.

There may have been a time when Republicans might have actually had something to offer Americans. The fact that Newt Gingrich is currently the lead horse puts the lie to Republican claims of devotion to their ideals. It’s about power and the willingness of the American Sheeple to participate in their own marginalization and subjugation. And it goes beyond Gingrich; how’s this for a creepy rogue’s gallery:

- Newt Gingrich is a liar, philanderer, and primarily devoted to his own enrichment.

- Mitt Romney has no core convictions. He’ll do and/or say whatever he thinks give him the best shot at winning the Presidency.

- Rick Perry is an intellectual tabula rasa. Either that, or he’s the GOP’s official “self-parody” candidate.

- Michele Bachmann lives in a fact-free bubble where the mere fact of thinking something and then giving voice to it makes it immutable fact.

- Rick Santorum is the “missionary position” candidate, a politician who believes that “smaller government” means that bureaucrats will be freed to take up residence in our bedrooms.

- Ron Paul is a refugee from Planet Reebok with a devoted following of those whose grip on reality gene has been surgically removed.

- Herman Cain is a performance artist. How else can you explain someone so thoroughly clueless, “holier than thou”, and convinced of his own moral superiority that he believes the mere fact of showing up makes him Presidential timbre. And now…”Women for Cain”? Really??

- Gary Johnson is…wait, who IS Gary Johnson??

- Jon Huntsman is the only adult in the group. In today’s GOP, of course, this means he has no shot. None. Zero, Zip. Nada. His daughters are pretty hot, though. That’s got to count for something, right?

I’d like to think that Republicans are serious about presenting a viable alternative to the American Sheeple in 2012. Then again, it’s not like the American electorate has proven to be particularly discerning; how else would you explain eight years of George W. Bush? The only reasonable conclusion I’m able to draw is that this is the GOP’s idea of a joke. They must think that they could put forward a ham sandwich in 2012 and defeat Barack Obama.

Actually, a ham sandwich would be a significant upgrade from the current crop of mediocrities that is the freak show the GOP is foisting upon the American Sheeple.

If you’re a Democrats, it’s immorality; if you’re a Republican, it’s private behavior

By: Jack Cluth Thursday December 1, 2011 10:30 am

(Also published at What Would Jack Do?)

Herman Cain really likes to bang (or try to bang) white women. The obvious thing here: wait, you mean a skeevy lobbyist and poisonous food hawker turned out to be a skeevy human being? How could we even think about not electing him president? Oh, and he’s thinking of getting out of the campaign now. Just two days too late. Extra bonus humor points: Cain’s lawyer saying that “No individual…should be questioned about his or her private sexual life.” What country has he been living in?

- The Rude Pundit

An ounce of hypocrisy is worth a pound of ambition.

- Michael Korda

Few aspects of human existence illustrate the difference between Liberals and Conservatives more than each side’s attitude towards sex, sexuality, and marriage. Conservatives treat their flavor of sex and sexuality as if it’s a private matter, beyond discussion and accountability because it happens between consenting adults behind closed doors. Marriage? Well, duh…that means one man and one woman, with no deviation being conceivable, much less acceptable. Anything that doesn’t fit within those narrow bounds is evil, sinful, and a crime against God and humanity: WHAT ABOUT THE POOR, IMPRESSIONABLE CHILDREN???

Liberals tend to be a fair bit more laissez faire, seeing issues of sex, sexuality, and marriage as something to be negotiated between two consenting adults and beyond strict, seemingly arbitrary rules. Liberals tend to view sexuality as a spectrum. Some may be heterosexual at one end of the spectrum, others homosexual and at the other end, with the rest of humankind falling somewhere in between. The idea is that sexuality is and/or can be fluid for some, not definable by the inflexible labels we’re accustomed to using. As for marriage…well, since when is a stable and committed relationship not good for society? If your marriage is threatened by two homosexuals getting married, y’all might want to consider couples counseling. Now. Hey, if you oppose same-sex marriage, then don’t marry someone of your gender, knowhutimean??

Given the differences when it comes to issues of sex, sexuality, and marriage, it’s no wonder that most (but certainly not all) of the hypocrisy emanates from the Right. Being of a generally more authoritarian bent, many Conservatives are quite comfortable with the idea that their standards should be the standards for ALL of us. That this flies in the face of the reality that not all of us are heterosexual, procreational, missionary-position-loving Evangelicals seems beside the point. Of course, we all SHOULD be, so why shouldn’t those standards become law?

“No individual…should be questioned about his or her private sexual life.” Hmm…perhaps someone should have told Kenneth Starr this before he and his neoConservative cohorts attempted to destroy Bill Clinton. Perhaps the quote would be more accurate if we just added one tiny little word to it: “No CONSERVATIVE individual…should be questioned about his or her private sexual life.”

There; that sounds about right….

There’s no wrong way to do the right thing

By: Jack Cluth Friday November 25, 2011 10:21 am

(Also published at What Would Jack Do?)

SALEM — Gov. John Kitzhaber announced today he will not allow the execution of Gary Haugen — or any death row inmate — to take place while he is in office. The death penalty is morally wrong and unjustly administered, Kitzhaber said. “In my mind it is a perversion of justice,” he said at an emotional news conference in Salem…. The announcement is a win for death penalty activists who had asked Kitzhaber to declare a moratorium on executions until the state conducts a thorough review of its death penalty system. Kitzhaber said his decision is not out of compassion for Haugen or other inmates. But the death penalty is not handed down fairly — some inmates on death row have committed similar crimes as those who are serving life sentences, he said. It is a criticism Haugen himself has often made and cites as a reason that he has volunteered to die, protesting the unfairness of the death penalty.

Racially biased, often arbitrary, and far too often subject to political considerations, state-sanctioned murder (What else could it reasonably be called?) represents more often than not the satisfaction of a collective blood lust. I’m well aware of the “eye for an eye” argument, but I’ll leave the philosophical and moral underpinnings of the mechanics of the death penalty to other, more nimble intellects. No, my argument is with the often capricious and racially-skewed manner in which the death penalty is applied. A tip of the hat goes out to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, who has placed a moratorium on executions during his tenure. Saying that the death penalty fails the “basic standards of justice, Kitzhaber makes a compelling argument for reevaluating a system that’s out of control, both financially and morally.

My personal belief is that the death penalty is immoral, even if every flaw in the current system was to be fixed and it became completely equitable. Simply put, two wrongs don’t make a right. Killing someone guilty of a heinous crime may make us feel better about ourselves in the short term, but I believe that killing someone, whatever the justification may be, chips away at our claim to humanity. Snuffing out one human life as retribution for a life or lives lost does not redress the balance. It doesn’t pay a debt to society, because there’s no way to put a value on a life.

I understand that there are those who feel that there are some crimes so heinous, so inhuman, and so beyond the pale that the only credible and appropriate punishment is death. I’m not prepared to go that far, but, for the moment, let’s go with that for the sake of argument. If we’re to make the case that killing a person is appropriate in certain cases, how do we ensure that this penalty is applied equitably and equally in all applicable cases? How do we ensure that race doesn’t play a factor? Or a person’s access to quality legal representation? Or any number of other factors that skew the current system? How are we to ensure that the death penalty is applied dispassionately and not subject to mob mentality or political considerations?

The biggest problem with the death penalty, at least from where I sit, is there’s no way to ensure the system is perfect. Given the finality of the death penalty, perfection isn’t and shouldn’t be an unrealistic expectation. There’s no “Oops; our bad!” in capital punishment. How do you “un-kill” someone? You can’t, of course…and so we’re left with a system in which the odds of executing a quite posstibly innocent person are unacceptably high (see Willingham, Cameron Todd).

John Kitzhaber should be applauded for having the courage to take a moral stand and for suggesting the need for us to have a conversation about how (or if) we can move forward with the death penalty. I’ve felt for some time that it’s long past time that we have a national conversation about the death penalty.

Or are we really OK with a system that could possibly execute innocent people to satisfy our collective bloodlust? Should we be debating what an acceptable margin of error is…and if we are to have that debate, what does that say about our humanity?


America: Land of the brave, home of those scared of anyone and anything different

By: Jack Cluth Friday November 18, 2011 11:00 am

(Also published at What Would Jack Do?)

A new study from the Public Religion Research Institute shows that voters across all political parties are uncomfortable with the idea of a president with an uncommon religious identity, such as Mormon, Muslim, or atheist. In particular, Republicans seem particularly averse to a Muslim or atheist president….

We’ve come a long ways, baby…or not. My life began with the Presidency of John F. Kennedy. Prior to JFK, the idea of a Catholic President scared the Hell (no pun intended) out of many Americans at the time. Would JFK’s allegiance be to the American people? Or would he answer to the Pope? Would he preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution…or the interests of the Vatican? It seems silly now, because Catholicism has long since become mainstream, but in the first half of the 20th century, Catholicism was viewed with a very suspicious eye by most Americans. Catholics today are subjected to little, if any, overt discrimination, but in 1960 it was a very different world.

You might think that we live in a more enlightened world, and that we’re far more accepting of those who profess religions other than mainstream Protestant Christianity. If you’re thinking that, you’d be…wrong. While Catholics no longer need worry about overt discrimination, relatively few Americans are willing to entertain the idea of a President who’s a Mormon, an Atheist, or (HORRORS!!) a Muslim. We may believe in separation of Church and State…but that Church had better be a Christian one. Non-believers, idolators, and America-hating, Sharia-pushing Islamofascists need not apply. This is America…wee haz Jesus!!

Seriously, y’all…isn’t it about time we looking past fearing people for what they believe and begin appreciating people for who they are? Must we really remain stuck in the mindset that if you ain’t got Jesus, you ain’t $#!^?? Do we really have to continue demonstrating by our actions that we clearly don’t understand the teachings of the Savior we profess to revere? How can we continue to ridicule and denigrate Islam for an alleged willingness to destroy those who believe differently when there’s no denying that Christians are capable of the same damn thing?

The more things change….