Friday, December 7, 2007

Political Religion in America

Political Religion in America
By Jerome Grossman

Religion has long been a favorite topic for Republican candidates for political office. The looming Iowa GOP presidential caucuses may be decided by the religiosity of the competitors, particularly former governors Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, and how they relate to the beliefs and values of the Evangelical Christians, estimated at some 50% of caucus participants.

But the three leading Democratic presidential pretenders, former Senator John Edwards, Senator's Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have also opened up about their faiths, the role of prayer in their public and private lives and the ways that religion molds their views on policy and government. They walk a fine line, appealing to the religious voters, while not alienating secular voters.

Clinton talks about her faith tradition, Methodism, and has even said that her religion helped her to deal with her husband's infidelity. Obama frequently quotes scripture, emphasizing that his political commitment rises from his faith. Edwards recalls growing up in the Southern Baptist Church, and when talking about his serious family health problems says, “It’s the Lord who got me through.”

Religion looms large in the campaign for the White House. All candidates are grilled about their religious beliefs, some are eager to talk about faith, others play down the issue. The voters clearly want to know about the faith of the candidates and the candidates are more willing to talk about it than in previous elections.

As recently as the 2004 election, the Democratic nominee John Kerry steered away from his religious beliefs, even when he was denied communion by some Roman Catholic Bishops for his choice position on abortion. Now he defends discussion of theology in American political life, says that candidates should discuss their religious backgrounds with the voters, reminds the public that he was a teenage altar boy, that his mother was converted to Catholicism, etc. etc.

President George W. Bush has accented the religious trend by reporting on his talks with God and Jesus as well as establishing regular prayer meetings in the White House. In addition, Bush set up a White House Office of Faith - Based and Community Initiatives and arranged for federal funds to finance social and educational programs based and housed in religious institutions.

The New York Times has reported that the Evangelicals are active everywhere -nationally and locally - on foreign policy, war, abortion, education, evolution, creationism, etc. etc. “A religious subculture once on the fringe has moved into the American mainstream.”

Our political leaders need to be reminded that Article VI of the U.S. Constitution reads in part, “No religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any office or Public Trust under the United States.” The very first Amendment to the Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights, begins “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or promoting the free exercise thereof.” There is no reference to God or to any religion in the Constitution, yet Senator John McCain refers to the U.S. as a “Christian Country.”

Our nation has avoided the religious combat that has plagued so many countries for centuries while fostering cooperation among its diverse components by adhering to some very important traditions: the separation of church and state; the practice of toleration of religious groupings; and treating religion as a private affair. America is organized primarily for economic competition: we must avoid drifting into competition for the salvation of souls.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Iranians Have Disappointed Us

The Iranians Have Disappointed Us
By Jerome Grossman

Gosh, what a disappointment. You can't even trust the CIA anymore. Imagine, all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies agree that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003. Where is George Tenet when we need him - to give us a slam dunk or whatever we asked for? Or Saint Colin Powell who would vouch for the war program after some sobbing.

And the intelligence community has admitted it was wrong. That is no way to run a government operation. Rule number one: never admit a mistake. We pay them $44 billion a year to do what we order so the least they can do is give us the intelligence we need to get other nations to do what we want. Or else. As Don Rumsfeld always said, “You go with the intelligence you have, true and accurate or not. And if the other nations are not guilty of what we accuse them, they will be some day, so why wait?”

Sure, I said in October 2007, “If you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” Knowledge is very dangerous. I learned that at Yale and Harvard Business School. It prevented me from making a buck in three oil businesses I ran (interesting pun) in God's country, Texas. They tell me the knowledge to make a nuke is in the libraries. We have to do something about libraries.

My staff told me not to talk about World War III, that Iran didn't compare to the original axis of evil, Germany, Japan and Italy. But it sounded so good, such a big deal, put me on par with my old man, that World War II hero. Besides, even though Iran is a small country, it might unite the 1.3 billion Muslims against Christian America. Fighting World War III would put me on Mount Rushmore with Teddy Roosevelt, and save the American eagle like President Wilson in World War I and FDR in World War II.

I don't know why the Muslims won't allow us to build military bases in their countries. We already have 737 bases in 130 countries. And everybody is happy. That's spreading democracy just like God told us too. And if anyone tells us to go home, resisting the will of God, we do God's work by cutting off their trade or their bank accounts or their heads (joke), whichever is easier.

The new intelligence report was given to me just last week, so I did not know the new findings when I threatened Iran with the U.S. fleet at anchor in the Persian Gulf, loaded with missiles, planes and nuclear weapons waiting to kick the shit out of the Iranians. Our nuclear weapons are a force for good, for democracy, and the National Football League that I watch every Sunday. How about them Patriots? Could a liberal like Ted Kennedy play that game?

Well, last August, before I declared World War III, Admiral Mike McConnell walked into my office and told me that there was new intelligence about Iran and nukes. I didn't ask him the bottom line, because the typing hadn't even been completed and the Redskins were coming on the tube. Besides, I would never interfere with intelligence collecting. I make it up as I go along

Now, I find out that the Iranians stopped their nuclear weapons program because of a cost - benefit approach. I remember those words from Harvard Business School. That proves the Iranians are unpatriotic and dangerous. My great country, the only superpower on God's earth, maybe on the entire universe, never, ever, stops building guns and ammunition of every size and capability. How else could we spread the word of God and prepare for his return?


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