Tuesday, October 31, 2006

'Mugwumps' And Other Reptiles

Or a Catholic Perspective on some important issues and the idiots we elect

'Mugwumps' And Other Reptiles
By: Ed Kelley, Special To The Evening Bulletin

The mugwumps are back! Maybe they never left. The short of it is that the mugwumps are political types whose "mug" is on one side of the fence, while their "wumps" are on the other side of the fence. The long of it is that the mugwumps were a political movement in 1884 comprised of Republicans who supported the candidacy of Democrat Grover Cleveland for president and who opposed their own candidate James Blaine of Maine. Their mug was switched to the Democrats because in good faith they could not support James Blaine, the Republican candidate. They maintained that Blaine was untrustworthy and a fraudulent candidate. The mugwumps were reformers and idealistically against the political corruption that was prevalent at the time. Political corruption meant political patronage ... the spoils system. The winning candidate would dole out government positions to his supporters prior to the election. Political affiliation was the basis for political appointment to many positions. It never happens today... oops, scratch that.
Ironically, Blaine was from the reform wing of his own Republican Party, but the altruistic mugwumps rejected him anyway. They accused him of being elitist and possibly anti-Catholic. Be that as it may, mugwumps were quite comfortable playing both sides of the fence, and they did great harm to the success of their own Republican party for many years to come.
There are two ways to answer the great questions of our times; the mugwump approach i.e., to be on both sides at the same time, and the Shakespearean approach to choose one side or the other, i.e. "... to be, or not to be?" I much prefer the latter. Put your cards on the table and full steam ahead. Your vote should be for the person with the most straightforward positions that you agree with. In the case of the current herd who all think of themselves as succes fou [French for "an extraordinary success"] it is mostly Republicans who can point to concrete accomplishments that will stand the test of time for the welfare and benefit of our republic.
In the next few weeks, mugwumps from both parties will appear everywhere to tell you what they think you believe, and they will assume you have no intelligence, no character, no values, no memory, no principles or consistency of considered opinions, just like the mugwumps that they are. Their assumptions about you are the characteristics they themselves possess.
Some issues stand out:

Republicans are spending like Democrats and bragging about how the tax cuts are improving government revenues in this phenomenal economy we are currently having. All true, but you can't have it both ways. That's mugwumpian. Democrats are forecasting imminent disaster upon their grandchildren due to a huge deficit that coincidentally has been going down every day, due to those tax cuts. How inconvenient for the Dems! That's totally illogical and mugwumpian. Voters, even those who are ecstatic about a 12,000-plus DOW, want all politicians to grow up and cut both taxes and spending at the same time.

Foreign Policy
Democrats are supporting the troops by voting for troop funding and wanting them to abandon their mission at the same time, because America is such a bad, bad place of bad, bad people. That's mugwumpian. Dems must either support the fight or cut off all funds for it ... the Iraq war is either to be, or not to be. By the way, according to the Constitution and the separation of powers, the Executive Branch is charged with conducting all foreign policy and the House of Representatives is charged with funding any war effort. The Senate is charged with approving the funding measures originated in the House. Neither the House members nor the Senators are empowered to go to foreign lands and conduct U.S. Foreign Policy ... yet we see members of Congress doing that all the time. It's time for all of them to shut up and do the job we elected them for, and not try to do someone else's job, or criticize someone else's job, or decide which parts of the Constitution are optional. We voters are fed up with it. Nowhere in American history has any such foreign policy interference by members of Congress proved to be helpful to the republic in any manner. Cut it out. Run for president if you want to generate foreign policy ... but for now, do your own job.

Deficit Spending
OK, the government is "of and by the people," and that means the "government" is you and me. Let's say I want to pay down my share of the deficit and the national debt. So here's a check, and it's made out to ... me! I just lowered the debt by 100 bucks. You do the same and by tomorrow we'll live in a new world. The problem is solved, unless you can tell me who else has a right to get my check. I guess that's not a mugwump issue, but when you follow the money and the trail at both ends leads to my pockets, I think it is worth mentioning.

Communion With The Almighty
Remember that one? A Catholic politician who was in favor of abortion could not receive Holy Communion according to certain local bishops. It has gone back and forth, but we finally have a final definitive decision. Classic mugwump issue.
"The U.S. Bishops concluded that 'you (bishops) could not be accused of being less than Catholic if you did not deny Communion (to a politician), nor should you be accused of being lacking in pastoral judgment if you did.'"* Honest dialogue is meant to keep the door open, as well as the need to work with politicians and other public officials rather than alienate them. For example, money is needed for Catholic hospitals, charities and education.
Incredible! An upstanding Catholic public official can approve and support legislation that includes federally funded third term abortions, and suffer no penalty or even admonition whatsoever from his Church who opposes abortions ... because the church organization wants to be prudent and not suffer any financial consequences to federal funding for a Catholic hospital, etc.? How about a good Catholic civilian like John Q. Catholic who works at an abortion clinic and supports their activities with all his skills. Will his bishop or priest give him a pass and communion, like the bishops are giving their friendly neighborhood politician? I see this as a "to be, or not to be" decision by the churchmen, ... in for a penny, in for a pound, ... there's no nuance available for this one! That said, how seriously can we now take the child protections being offered for that "other" problem? All have a right to their own religious beliefs, but they must separate them from the organization that administrates their religion. There's no hiding behind church, synagogue, temple, mosque, etc in the pursuit of really stupid moves. They should really be Shakespearean about third term abortions, be de-communioned and excommunicated, or not! Politicians included!!

The mugwumps are on a roll. In the fall of 2004 Sen. Arlen Specter's Washington, D.C. office told me, in response to my phone call and question, that the Senator did not support school vouchers for the D.C. Public Schools (which was an issue at that time) "because that would be like giving a check to the Catholics!" In the end, the measure passed. Once started, the program was tremendously successful, and lo and behold, 52 percent of the folks participating in the D.C. voucher program were (shhhhh) Catholic. Great ... I always wanted to be a victim of religious persecutions by a prejudiced Senator who should have retired long, long ago. The man is a mugwump and worse! Arlen, don't spit against the wind, don't ... well, you know the rest.

Voter I.D.
This issue strictly applies to Democrat mugwumps. They want voters to vote, but are against checking whether the voter has a legitimate right to vote. Philadelphia has the long ongoing problem that dead Democrats insist on actively voting in elections. Just like their live brethren, their attendance at primary elections is much reduced. The Republican dead seem to accept their fate and stay dead. They never seem to vote in Philadelphia elections. For an adequate Voter Photo I.D., we need your photo, birth certificate, proof which tells us you were born a citizen or proof you have acquired citizenship through legal means, proof you live where you say you live, perhaps with a past utility bill which has your name and address, or some other proof of residency. You can get such a photo I.D. in Pennsylvania by applying to the local Driver's License facility and getting either a driver's license, or a "non-drivers" driver's license. The only notation that would have to be added for a voter I.D. would be an indication of whether you were a citizen (C), a non-citizen or permanent resident (NC) or a foreigner (F). If you are a dead (C), your photo is not going to look very good. Only live (C)'s are permitted to vote in our elections.

You don't really have to interpret the words of the Quran, like Christians often do when extracting the literal words of the Bible, because the Quran is pretty literal. I understand that parts of the Quran are derived from Muhammad, parts come from the New Testament of the Bible and parts come from the Talmud, the law book of the Jews. Quotes from the Quran include messages to be tolerant and understanding as well as other messages to kill all infidels. Can you guess with me which of these latter messages came from the Muhammad parts and which messages came from the Judeo-Christian parts? Now you understand why there's all this confusion about what the Quran says.
I once worked with an Egyptian Coptic Christian who told me of the democratic values practiced by the great Muslim hordes who overran Egypt centuries ago. "We had a choice", he said, "Become a Muslim or die!" That is a pretty tough approach we would have to take for a peace treaty with Islam. I've heard no substantive moderate Muslim voices come forth.
No mugwumps are within this group.

*Catholic Star Herald, pp. 6, 20 October 2006 "politicians and communion, a ground zero issue" by Deborah Gyapong catholic news service

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