Thursday, March 25, 2010

Domestic Terrorism: Sarah Palin Puts Democrats in the Crosshairs, Tells People to “Reload”

The Republican Party has hit a new low, and the behavior of some of their members is becoming downright frightening.

Ex-Governor (and currently holding no elected office) Sarah Palin crossed the line yesterday with a post on her Twitter account that said “Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: "Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!" Pls see my Facebook page.” Her Facebook page then goes on to encourage those unhappy with the recent passing of health care reform to “...not get discouraged. Don’t get demoralized. Get organized!”

She goes on to express the desire to “reclaim the power of the people from those who disregarded the will of the people. We’re going to fire them and send them back to the private sector” …” commenting that when they join the ranks of the unemployed, maybe they will understand. But Palin also goes on to show a chart from listing specific democrats that she wants to target, and the chart has crosshairs – literally - on their congressional locations. With the all the references to guns – the crosshairs, the “reload” comment, and other words in her message such as “aim” and “salvo” – it is frightening in its blatant attempt to incite violence. She goes on to list them by name as follows, which reads like a proverbial “hit” list:

We’re paying particular attention to those House members who voted in favor of Obamacare and represent districts that Senator John McCain and I carried during the 2008 election. Three of these House members are retiring – from Arkansas’s 2nd district, Indiana’s 8th district, and Tennessee’s 6th district – but we’ll be working to make sure that those who replace them are Commonsense Conservatives. The others are running for re-election, and we’re going to hold them accountable for this disastrous Obamacare vote. They are: Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-1), Harry E. Mitchell (AZ-5), Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-8), John Salazar (CO-3), Betsy Markey (CO-4). Allen Boyd (FL-2), Suzanne M. Kosmas (FL-24), Baron P. Hill (IN-9), Earl Pomeroy (ND-AL), Charlie Wilson (OH-6), John Boccieri (OH-16), Kathy Dahlkemper (PA-3), Christopher Carney (PA-10), John M. Spratt, Jr. (SC-5), Tom Perriello (VA-5), Alan B. Mollohan (WV-1), and Nick J. Rahall II (WV-3).

While I understand that all Americans – even those that aren’t particularly smart – have the right to free speech, that does not mean they have the right to incite hate or violence. Sarah’s message, while it may seem innocent at face value, almost seems like it was written in “code” with key words, as if she is hoping someone will take her up on the subliminal intent and make it real. Let’s be honest here, if some “normal” person made threats like Sarah Palin has done here, the FBI would be knocking on their door. Her not-so-subtle suggestions and threats are alarming and I think that not only should the FBI consider her words as real threats, but should also make an effort to make sure that the people on her list get protection.

I am greatly concerned with the amount and level of vitriol coming out of the Republican Party, which has only gotten more frequent and more caustic with the passing of the health care reform. It seems that some members of the Republican Party are only happy with the way our government works when it works to the advantage of the Republican Party alone. Party officials need to reign in - or jettison – those party extremists that are acting more like petulant, spoiled children who are having a tantrum because they didn’t get their way. Maybe for starters, Ohio voters should make sure that when Republican Leader John Boehner (R-West Chester) comes up for re-election that he is voted out of office. But, in the meantime, someone with real authority in the party should come out with a clear statement that they do not condone violence as a solution to any political disagreement. If Sarah Palin can’t remove or retract her hit list, then I expect the party to distance themselves from her. At the least, I hope the FBI comes knocking on her door for her apparent threats of violence against our elected officials. Domestic terrorism, no matter what form, cannot be tolerated.

Update January 9, 2010 - In light of the recent shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and the killing and wounding of several others at that same political event, I have have more commentary on this topic which can be found at this link: "Sarah Palin’s “Target” List: Incited Murder, or Unfortunate Coincidence?"

Check out my blog home page for the latest information, The Frequent Critic, here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Health Care Reform: Critical

It seems that the debate over health care reform has been going on forever. That’s because it HAS been going on forever.

While I am not thrilled that passing the legislation for health care reform will mean money out of my pocket in some shape or form, I also believe that the money to cover those who are currently uninsured is already coming out of my pocket in some shape or form.

The current proposed plan is not perfect, but if we continue to wait for the perfect plan, we will be waiting another eternity. It is painfully obvious that our elected representatives still want to play political games. They appear more interested in fighting for their own turf, or their own glory, or for covering their own behinds, instead of looking out for the needs of the people they represent.

Too many people in this country are being denied medical coverage because they either can’t afford it or worse yet, because of insurance company loopholes. It’s time to allow people to enjoy their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by making sure that they have the means to protect their health - and their lives.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Who Is Destroying Cleveland’s Catholic Churches?

Cleveland’s Catholic Diocese is dying a slow and painful death, and as a result, many churches in the Cleveland metropolitan area are being closed. If you listen to my mother, she thinks I am personally to blame, because I don’t go to church anymore. My argument is that the Catholic parish in my city (which has been spared from the chopping block) is growing and thriving without me, so I know it’s not just because of me.

The problem with the Cleveland Catholic Diocese is caused by more than one thing. Many people aren’t as disciplined about going to church any more, and that in itself has multiple causes. Most adults have to work, and spending time every Sunday at Mass can be a drain if you spend all a lot of energy on the job during the week, and you have to play catch up with everything else over the weekend. When I was growing up, most families had a stay at home mom, who took care of the kids and other things during the week, so spending time for church on Sunday wasn’t an issue. There are also many people like me who were raised Catholic but have long since lost the need for the structure and ritual of the church to remind them how to behave.

St. Procops, Cleveland Ohio West Side (Now closed)

In Cleveland, however, the issue is compounded by many Clevelanders fleeing to the suburbs in droves, something that started in the early 1960s and continued at a faster rate each year. Anyone who could afford to get out of the inner city got out, and over time, this left many churches without sustainable parishes. But this is not a new problem.

Everyone understands these factors, and everyone understands that a parish and church building cannot be financially sustained without money from parishioners. And this is where the Cleveland Catholic Diocese took a left turn. Rather than close churches as they became financially unstable over a period of several years, they allowed many to stay open. Bring in a new Bishop - Richard Lennon – who appears to be the designated hatchet man - to cut loose those parishes that cannot sustain themselves in one fell swoop.

Bishop Lennon, however, completely botched the execution of his church consolidation plan. He established “clusters” of parishes - usually parishes within close proximity - and had representatives from each church in each cluster put their heads together to decide which churches in their group stayed open, and which ones had to close. It sounds very nice on paper – you know, letting the people decide their own fate. Things were tough but seemed to be working out OK as each parish submitted their recommendations. The problem arose when Bishop Lennon ignored virtually every recommendation and closed very popular parishes, some which were not even losing any money, and some which also provided services to the community such as housing for the homeless and/or food for those who needed it. Adding insult to injury, some of the churches being closed by Bishop Lennon were some of the finest churches in the area, with not only stunning structures, but some of the finest religious art work and artifacts in the area. Many of those things are up for auction on an Internet web site, causing outrage with parishioners whose parents, grandparents, and great grandparents paid for those things out of their own donations to the church, in some case going back over 100 years, and when money was very tight. There is doubt that any of that money from the sale of those objects or even the church buildings themselves will be returned to the churches in the new communities, and many worry that it is a simple money grab by the diocese and the Vatican. Needless to say, Bishop Lennon has shown zero respect for not only the current parishioners, but for those people whose families worked hard to make those churches possible.

St. Casimir's, Cleveland Ohio (Now closed)

Local Catholics have protested in many ways, some making very vocal protests at church closings and also picketing churches. A group was formed called Endangered Catholics whose intent is to get justice and equal opportunity for parishioners. Protests are also working their way up to the Vatican. Sadly, I suspect that these protests will fall on deaf ears for the most part, although Bishop Lennon did reverse his decision for one parish. In some cases, Bishop Lennon’s competency has been questioned. The Cleveland Plain Dealer has devoted a lot of coverage to the issue and many, if not all, of the articles paint Bishop Lennon and the diocese in a poor light.

Even though I am not a church-goer, it does sadden me to see both the church in which I was baptized and the church in which I was married close. The church where I was baptized is also the church where my parents were married and also the church where my grandparents were married. The building did need a little repair, but the structure is sound and very well kept for the most part, and the parish was not losing money. This church also supported the poor in the neighborhood with a place to live as needed and meals for those who could not afford food. It is a huge loss for the neighborhood community.

When it all comes down to it, everyone knows these churches are just buildings. But, the diocese seems to have lost any concern for the parishioners who have kept many of these facilities afloat, the Bishop completely ignoring their recommendations. It is also clear that the diocese does not have enough priests to cover each parish, a problem easily solved if they would only discard their narrow-minded opinions about women becoming priests. While Bishop Lennon is driving the stake into the heart of the parishioners, it’s the Catholic Church and its dated practices that are driving people away. I have hopes that one day, the Church will have leadership at all levels who are willing to question the status quo and to have the courage to make changes, otherwise what is happening to the Cleveland Catholic Diocese will continue to spread throughout the faith like a malignant cancer, and more cities will see their beloved churches, and the history that goes along with them, die a certain death.

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