Back from New York and, from what it looks like, I missed all kinds of stuff here in Iowa. Welcome to Sunday Morning Coffee, politics and religion all wrapped up in one blog. Lucky you...right? No doubt you've seen some of these stories others, maybe not... Let's go!
New York Press Association
Last week I traveled to Albany to address this massive organization that represents newspapers in New York. It was really interesting to talk to publishers and editors of, mostly, community based papers. Papers that represent their cities, towns and boroughs. While the dailies are shrinking their editorial staff, selling off property and facing ever shrinking circulation it seems these community based papers are doing pretty well and expanding.
On the political front it was hard pressed to find friends of "45". I never asked, but I was, many times, told how much they dislike this guy. Especially those who own papers in NYC. They may not write about their dislike, remember they are hyper-local, but the people that opened up about the guy were clearly not a fan.
For my Iowa readers check this: Brooklyn, one of five boroughs in NYC, has close to 2.7 million residents. The land mass of Brooklyn is 69 square miles. Meanwhile Polk County, Iowa with a population of 498,000 represents 592 square miles. So, you could fit 8 "Brooklyns" in Polk County. No wonder there are no less than 12 newspapers serving Brooklyn alone. Wow....
I see that it ain't gonna happen. Acting (no doubt because they all are and not doing a good job of it) White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney said this morning that Democrats will "never" see "45's" tak returns. Besides the only reason the Democrats want to see the president's tax returns is because they do not want a debate over "popular policy issues of this president". Huh?
Yes! That's it. Democrats are trying to obscure any conversation about locking up kids, deporting innocent people, ending health care, continuing trade wars, putting farmers in bankruptcy, giving massive tax breaks to the wealthy, cutting off food for the poor. Yep, we are demanding tax returns so we don't have to talk about...policy. Weary...
Meanwhile "45" is telling, anybody that will listen, that the Democrats hate Israel and if it were not for him Democrats, "...very well would leave Israel out there on their own." Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) countered this morning by saying, “I hate to even dignify those remarks, but look, it’s not the Democratic Party that believes that there are good people on both sides of a Nazi rally. There’s just one party and one party leader who believes that, and that’s Donald Trump.” Schiff, by the way, is one of the highest-ranking Jewish members of Congress.
He went on, “If there’s anything that is likely to cement the relationship between the Democratic Party and the Jewish community, it’s the presidency of Donald Trump. The lack of character and values that are certainly inconsistent with Jewish values, I think, are only consolidating support in the Jewish community and I think the president needs to look inward when it comes to the rise of anti-Semitism in the country and his own actions and his own words and how that may fuel some of the rise in hate that we see."
Last week I attended a rather historic gathering. The Israeli Ambassador to the United States visited Iowa for the first time in the 70 year existence of the Jewish State. Ambassador Ron Dermer (born and raised in Miami) made a swing through Iowa meeting with elected officials, economic development folks, business leaders and the Jewish Community. He spoke for about 40 minutes and then took questions from the hundreds of invited guests. It was a very controlled environment. Security was tighter than anything I've been to in a very long time. Des Moines Police were clearly visible as were the two Shabak agents with him who, like Secret Service Agents in the U.S., faced the crowd, hands at the ready, watching movement.
Ambassador Dermer spoke about some hot-button items like recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the recognition of Israel annexation of the Golan Heights and the U.S. pulling out of the Iran Deal. You would have gotten the impression that "45" is the "best buddy" for Israel. But, while the Israeli government applauds those moves, it's a bit complicated among liberal Jews. But then again the liberal Jews I know do not have to seek shelter from rockets, knife wielding murders and others who wish only to drive Israel into the sea.
I see that the GOP led Iowa Senate put a knife in the back of a constitutional amendment to extend voting rights to felons who have served their time. That, even though their leader, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA) supports the move. But, let's be clear...she really doesn't. She could, at a stroke of the pen, restore voting rights just as her "dear leader" Gov. Terry Branstad (R-IA) took them away with an executive order. It's all BS.
Meanwhile my friend Sen. Chuck Schneider (R-Clive) and his group have cooked up a way to deny votes on college campuses. They now want to deny voting rights unless students sign some sort of goofy "pledge" they will remain in Iowa as residents following college. Even more BS. Weary...what are you people thinking about when you vote for these fools? But it is in keeping with Chuck's policy. He hates voting no doubt because he has seen the numbers in his senate district. In fact, they are so bad that I often wonder if he will run in 2020.
The Iowa Death Penalty
I see that we're killing off lots of people at the Glenwood, Iowa Resource Center a state run institution that "cares" for 200 of the most disabled of our citizens. According to people employed at the center staffing is low, care is missing and 14 people have died since June of last year. So, it would seem that Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA) is getting her wish to reimpose the death penalty in Iowa. But, your crime? Be one of the people who has a significant disability... The level of moral decay among the GOP is staggering.
Moral Decay Part Two
There are a bunch of Christians out there. In fact Christianity is the prefered or adopted religion of over 70 percent of Americans. So, tell me why (and you have the floor) so many "Christians" are opposed to paying a living wage and against unions?
Because of greed? How would I know? Because it can't be that your faith group opposes paying a living wage or that your faith group is opposed to the rights of workers to unionize. How do I know?
I'm working on a story about that. The issue came up when my brother was talking about why there needs to be a union at Simpson College to protect educators and staff there from cuts to programs, cuts to wages, unfair labor practices...the list, he says, is pretty long. So he went looking at what the United Methodist Church says about living wages and unions. And....WHAT? The Book of Resolutions from the UMC says the church supports unions. In case you want to check it out...here is a link about the "Rights of Workers".
So, what about the Catholics? What might the Holy See..say...about the issue? Oh...golly let's look... Why YES, the Catholic Church has decades of docturne about support of livable wages and the right to organize. I know...you want a peek. Here is a link.
OK...so much for a major protestant group and the Catholic folk. But what about them Baptists? After all the states that are most anti-union reside in the South the bedrock of Baptists.
Oh my...look what I found: In 1938 the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution on the rights of workers to unionize and to be paid a "fair and living wage". I know...you want proof. Here you go.
I'm still working on the rest of my Christian friends and what they have to say about living wages and workers rights to unionize.
But...it's becoming pretty clear that there is a significant decay in the moral leadership of businesses and electeds who oppose the rights of workers to organize and receive a living wage.
Go ahead...your turn. Tell me, again, why you are not supporting your Christian belief system...you have the floor. And this blog allows for your comment.
I was waiting, in Chicago, to board a plane for New York when I spotted this young man who was wearing the robe of a Franciscan Friar. Because this issue of workers rights and a living wage was on my radar I decided to introduce myself and engage in a discussion. We talked for thirty minutes as we waited to board and then, on the plane, he was seated in front of me and to the right. Nobody else in his row or mine so we had the opportunity to further engage in a host of religious issues.
In the span of two hours Fr. Giles Gilbert, Parochial Vicar of Holy Family Catholic Church, Peoria and I made a lasting friendship. I was so moved by his devotion and his sense of duty to others. We spoke long about a homely he is giving today regarding the "Thirteen Attributes of Mercy" something key to the Jewish faith. You can find them in Exodus 34: 6-7. He believes that in the story of Jesus writing in the sand when confronted by people who wish to stone a woman accused of committing adultery (John 8: 1-11) that Jesus was writing the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy. Not as a condemnation but as a reminder that if G-d can forgive following a major sin...shouldn't we?
I was completely blown away at his understanding of the Torah.
Look, we can all agree to disagree about many things but shouldn't there be some reflection on what we are told to do...not by humans but by the G-d many worship?
I gotta leave it there. This is already too long...go have a great Sunday. Thanks for reading.