Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Invocations: Senator Terri Bonoff Is Correct

Earlier this week a Baptist pastor gave the invocation which opened the republican controlled Minnesota Senate in which he asked the assembled elected officials to do their work exclusively through and in the name of Jesus Christ. The pastor also proclaimed that no one (apparently referring to more than just the assembled public officials) can know God except through Jesus Christ. The invocation lasted slightly less than two minutes and can be viewed HERE. This is standard fare for believing Christians of a wide variety when gathered together in church or otherwise.

The Minnesota Senate being neither, democratic State Senator Terri Bonoff rose afterwords and objected to the extremely narrow--and exclusive--nature of the prayer. As a practicing Jew, Sen. Bonoff could hardly be expected to sign off on the fundamentals proffered by this Baptist pastor nor do her duty to her constituents under those auspices. Why should she? She asked that in the future invocations be less religiously sectarian and more generic or inclusive in nature. The senator is correct.

Regrettably, some in the Minnesota Republican Party have attempted to make political hay over something which should be simple religious decency. MC restrains itself from discussing why there are prayers in the first place at the opening of a public session of government. Tweets about "banning" or wanting to "prevent Jesus Christ" from being mentioned are unworthy of our party. A FOX News article titled "Democrat: Ban Jesus Prayers" is disgraceful. One could be forgiven for thinking that Sen. Bonoff called for invocations to be eliminated. She didn't.

According to the AP as published in the StarTribune, Bonoff simply asked that Senate tradition be observed once more. Visitors who give invocations are asked in a "letter given to [them] by the Secretary of the Senate . . . .'In an effort to be respectful of the religious diversity of our membership (Christian, Jewish and possibly others among them), we request that your prayer be interfaith and nonsectarian.'" The problem with this is what, precisely? Rather than deal with the merits of her understandable request, the basest of political hay is made.

In that same article (which can be read HERE), Sen. David Brown, R-Becker, observed that invocators come from specific belief systems. "I believe we don't have the right to censor their prayers." This is either willfully demagogic or deeply ignorant. The framing of the issue in this way betrays a base political prism (and not a terribly sophisticated one at that) through which religious pluralism is transmuted into opportunism. Mr. Theology went on to say that "there just seems to be intolerance for the name of Jesus on the Senate floor." What on earth is his name doing there in the first place? Moreover, MC is confident that that name is taken in vain daily during Senate doings and mostly by his followers. Preferring not to be beseeched to do one's legislative duties when one does not believe in him is not being intolerant of Jesus. Must this even be said?

Finally, Sen. Brown opined that "[t]here's nobody that loves the Jews any more than the Christians, so that was not meant as an insult or disrespect." Of course. And pork is delicious too, if only they tried it! But MC and Jews misunderstand, apparently. Said Brown: "Rather, it was a show of respect to Jesus Christ — just like our founders showed respect to Jesus Christ and the word of God when they built our Constitution." Someone is watching too much Glenn Beck. MC fears for Sen. Brown's psyche should he ever learn of The Jefferson Bible. Hint: go HERE.

Are MC's republican colleagues so insecure in their faith that at government proceedings they feel the need to proclaim it no matter what the religious composition of those gathered before them? MC realizes that at republican party functions there's a fair amount of invocations of the exclusively Christian kind. MC cringes for its Jewish friends at such events but they insist they can suck it up and carry on in the conservative cause. One doubts the same of those who give such invocations were the situations reversed.

Sen. Bonofff, however, needs improving as well. She said "I'm a very religious woman and believe deeply in God. We honor God in public and our political discourse, and that's proper. But in doing a nondenominational prayer we are honoring him without violating the separation of church and state." No. Invoking Jesus or Yahweh does not violate the separation of church and state. This misses the point entirely but then again MC has not found democrats to be well versed in either religion or the constitution. She should have quit while she was ahead.

Interestingly, at last year's MN GOP convention, the first day's invocation was given by a rabbi. Progress, thought MC. The next day's invocation was given by a Roman Catholic priest who never mentioned Jesus (the theological equivalent, one supposes, of being labeled a RINO). The simple point here is that the Minnesota Republican Party is not made up exclusively of Christians. We have Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and even atheists, God forbid!

One can make a strained case that members of our party can or should or must put up with an exclusive emphasis on Christ. At February's Elephant Club meeting in Minneapolis, Sen. Hall gave the invocation. Before doing so, however, he opined that those who were about to feel left out by his prayer to Jesus sit quietly and invoke whatever other lesser Deity they were foolish enough to follow. Of course the Senator didn't put it in those terms; the condescension of his precise words were almost worse, though. It failed to occur to him that when engaging in spiritual matters before political events, such comments are a sign of failure. MC hopes for a Shinto priest at this month's luncheon, and then a mullah in April, followed by a Hindu priest in May, and then a Buddhist in June. In July let's go all out with a lesbian rabbi!

Seriously, when the invocation is before the Minnesota Senate, such sectarian provincialism has no place. Not only is Sen. Terri Bonoff not wrong, it's wrong to treat her genuine request as a political football. What's next? Fund raising emails from Minnesota Majority decrying the vanquishment of God (ie, Christ) from state government?

Democrats are profoundly wrong on almost all major issues of the day. Minnesota republicans control the senate for the first time since the dawn of creation. They control the house. Their deeply flawed gubernatorial candidate lost to a paleo-liberal in a red wave election. There is much to do and these are serious times. Treating Sen. Bonoff's spiritual request politically is unserious and discrediting. Republicans are better than this and the senate leadership should honor her request. Then everyone can move on to the business to which all members of the legislature were elected to address.

UPDATE: Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch last week rejected a nondenominational approach to the essentially silly practice of praying before senate sessions by burbling: “I’m not going to get into the process of sort of editing prayer.” Why, yes, editing. That's what this entire affair was about! MC supposes she didn't mean to insult people's intelligence but she did. The New York Times has it HERE.

The majority leader is laughably cynical and that's giving her the benefit of the doubt. Who edited prayers before the republicans took over the senate, Senator Koch? Did she have anything to say about not wanting to make members intentionally uncomfortable? No. Did she decry MC's friend deputy chair Michael Brodkorb's misguided tweets designed to hurt democrats over a religious issue? [Those tweets got certified crazies Dan Riehl and Mark Levin into a spittle flecked lather!] Any contradiction there, Sen. Koch? Oh wait: she wouldn't want to edit his tweets either. Got it. Any thoughts about those of us who actually vote you types into office and are made to look ignorant, backwards and foolish as a result of your behavior? Any?

No doubt abusive religiosity goes over well with the Emmer neanderthals with whom the party leadership has allied itself so as not to have a challenge from its fringes at State Central. Mission accomplished. The financial and business benefits of this craven alliance will be explored another time. Feeding into the snake handlers in the party may be (temporarily) expedient but when it comes a cropper MC hopes it takes down only those who made that Faustian wager rather than the rest of the party and its activists.

Sen. Bonoff and her fellow brain-dead liberal colleagues, of course, over-played their hand in spectacular fashion. Not satisfied with having made an easily understood, discreet religious and political point, they obnoxiously insisted on changing the language of the letter given to guest invocators from "requesting" they take the mix of religious faiths in the chamber into account in their prayer to "requiring" it, whatever that truly means. Then, with the whiff of totalitarianism that always attends true liberalism, the paleo-liberals in the senate demanded that anyone in the future who violated the "require" language be barred forever more from being invited back to pray again.

They may as well have fled to Illinois for all the good this tactic did them. It allowed the majority speaker to cast the issue in terms of editing--which it wasn't--and elide the more serious underlying argument. MC, to that extent, can't really blame Sen. Koch but it does wish she had not given in to the most political opportune riposte but acted as a leader in her own right rather than someone well schooled by others.

At any rate, the democrats in the senate have no moral high ground in this matter given their own conduct. Yes, they are smarting still from losing their birthright of being in the majority in the senate. MC can only relish this. But such bitterness from an election defeat ought not to bring out the worst in people though it often does. Had Sen. Bonoff and her colleagues acted in good faith, so to speak, much of the ensuing nonsense could have been avoided. Instead, each side played to the worst amongst it for temporary gain.

The members of the Minnesota senate deserve each other.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Intellectual Fatuousness Of The Star Tribune

Admittedly, it may not be fair to think of the Star Tribune (ST) as intellectual, coherent or consistent (except in its deracinated '60's thinking) and so MC may be far afield in noticing its most recent foray into the unctuous. But it could not help it when one of its recent editorials about Congressional hearings into Islamofacist terrorism was retweeted by a member of the Fourth Estate. MC admits to not reading on a regular basis the editorials of the Star Tribune; the Nation does it so much better.

Still, the delusional aspects of that newspaper's editorial is something. One hates to be uncharitable but it reads like a CAIR press release. No critical thinking will be found within. Instead, the reader is water boarded with tripe not even President Obama and his hand maidens in the state controlled media would repeat. No so with flyover land editorial boards. Where to begin?

The title gives what little game the Star Tribune possesses away: "Terror Hearings Fuel Anti-Muslim Fears." Really? Aside from the press releases it republishes, the editorial board manages not to tell the reader why this is so. MC thinks, like most of their prejudices and biases, this fear exists in the collective shallow minds of the board. Is it too much to suggest there is a connection between content--both editorial and news--and declining subscriptions? And no, this does not mean the newspaper needs to pander. Ceasing to insult its readers' intelligence would be a huge advance.

As evidence, in the third paragraph (and small paragraphs at that, given the low educational level of its diminished readership) the ST stamps the upcoming Congressional hearing as McCarthyism. No evidence, of course, is adduced for this preposterous claim. But throwing out this claim makes the board feel good about themselves. Remember, readers, feelings are the sine qua non of liberalism.

In the following paragraphs which pass for discourse, the ST mashes together preposterous claims from a wide array of the usual suspects, none of which has a reputation for veracity. No matter: the point is to bludgeon its readers, not persuade them, not to allow another voice into the editorial. This is worthy of a paper which takes itself seriously?

The snow job concludes with this claim: "In short, anti-Muslim rhetoric is fueling anti-Muslim violence and alienating American Muslims." The problem is, ST, no one believes you.

There is no anti-Muslim rhetoric to speak of and the alienation of Muslims seems a story confined to Europe. But MC can't expect the third rate minds of the ST editorial boards to know that much. Really, it's unfair. Ayaan Hirsi Ali? Who's that?

More to the point, how about Abdirizak Bihi, Director, Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center in Minneapolis? He's been threatened by his own Somali community for cooperating with the Congressional hearings. Why doesn't the ST condemn the attacks on him? Why doesn't the ST support this brave man? One would hope the editorial board knew of Bihi: its own paper has reported on him in its news pages.

The editorial slouches toward its predetermined end by quoting the disgraced Southern Poverty Law Center and other organs of the far left, which appease anything Islamofacist, and concludes Muslim auto-da-fes are but an evening entertainment for the hateful Christians of this country. This is, apparently, as sophisticated in her reasoning as Susan Hogan can get. And we thought Obama was out of his depths!

What is most objectionable to this agitprop is the ST's refusal to phone Rep. Peter King, the chair of the Congressional committee which is holding the hearings the aging '60's types see as "McCarthyism." What? The ST is losing so much money, deservedly so, that it can't afford a phone? Even a rotary one, which bespeaks the mindset of the board?

But no, the ST can't see above it's own low water-line. Instead, it serves up insulting editorials like this which any educated person can see through. Then again, they lost that audience long ago. Reps. King and Ellison recently appeared together on CNN's "State of the Union" hosted by the refreshingly decent Candy Crowley. One would never know these two have had an extremely civil public discussion over many weeks about these hearings.

No, instead what one can see on television is a report on this subject with a representative of CAIR brandishing the StarTribune editorial. The term useful idiots comes to mind. The list of arrested and convicted CAIR officials is long but MC doubts that the ST has any interest in bringing this to its readers' attention.

One can only surmise that the mindset of the Star Tribune would fit perfectly well within the smug confines of the "anti-Zionists" at National Public Radio. Fortunately, people can get correct and broader information from other sources than this fading, aging, beyond-parody newspaper.

Jennifer Rubin has a smart take on the national left losing their minds over these hearings. Go here to read her.

UPDATE: A reader points MC to this cringe-worthy rambling of a Jewish female rabbi. Really, you can't make it up and fiction can't compete. The sanctimoniousness of the piece has to be read to be believed. Another useful idiot.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

MC To Host The Only Minnesota RNC Debate

Minnesota Conservatives is pleased to announce that it will host the only debate for the race for the Republican National Committee. One committeeman and one committeewoman will be selected from Minnesota at the State Central Committee meeting on April 16th.

MC is particularly pleased that The Uptake has agreed to cover this event and live stream the proceedings on the web so outstate delegates and alternates and others can participate. Web viewers will have an opportunity to ask questions via email or Twitter. Details about online participation will be forthcoming. All declared candidates but one have agreed to participate and MC believes the one remaining will agree shortly. Please share news of this event with your fellow activists and conservatives. MC encourages use of the comment feature to suggest approaches to the format and the question and answer session. This debate is for you.

WHEN: Monday, March 28, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.

WHERE: O'Gara's Irish Pub at the corner of Snelling & Selby in St. Paul, MN. Event will be held in the annex within known as The Garage. Signs will be posted.

COST: None. Kindly have a beverage of your choice to show your thanks to O'Gara's for agreeing to hold the event.

FORMAT: Current plans, subject to change, will have each candidate give an opening statement for 3 minutes. Questions strictly limited to 1 minute will be taken from the audience and from online viewers. Candidates will have 2 minutes to respond.

Women candidates will debate first for approximately one hour. After a 15 minute break, the men candidates will debate.

MC encourages suggestions designed to make this event successful.

ONLINE VIEWING: The Uptake (click here ) will have more information and links as the date approaches.

MC would be grateful if readers could share news of this, the only debate, for the RNC.