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That is the first sentence of a thought-provoking op-ed in today's Washington Post titled E.J. Dionne Jr.: The campaign’s moral hole.  Dionne is a Catholic and a liberal, which places him not on the side of the nationa's Catholic bishops. some of whom he note

often give the impression that they constitute the Republican Party at prayer
.  Instead he prefers
One of my favorite pressure groups, Nuns on the Bus, will be launching a five-day tour on Wednesday through the red, blue and purple parts of Ohio.
Let me follow that link for the Nuns, where the first text on the web page is about the tour, and says
As Catholic Sisters, we are missioned to stand with people in need and to be witnesses for economic justice.

Jesus said, "You will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judea and Samaria, and indeed to earth's remotest end." (Acts 1:8)

 The Vice-Presidential debate this week in Danville KY is not in a swing state, but not that far from the critical swing state of Ohio.  The Nuns feel an obligation to speak out on the Ryan Budget, which Mitt Romney has said he would have signed had it come to his desk:  
As Catholic Sisters, we must speak out against the current House Republican budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). We do so because it harms people who are already suffering.
 They note the Ryan Budget would
* Raise taxes on 18 million hardworking low-income families while cutting taxes for millionaires and big corporations.
* Push the families of 2 million children into poverty.
* Kick 8 million people off food stamps and 30 million off health care.
Please keep reading.

Dionne rightly notes that there is a struggle going on for the political soul of American Catholicism:  

Those among the faithful who see the abortion issue as trumping all others are in a quarrel with their brethren who place more emphasis on the church’s long-standing commitment to social justice.
 He is on the side of the latter, and of the nuns. He reminds us that when it comes to the issue of poverty, two leading Bishops, Cardinal Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, issued a statement that is somewhat supportive of the nuns position on this issue:  
“There are very dark clouds,” they wrote. “Too much rhetoric in the country portrays poor people in a very negative way.”

They argued that the economy is not only failing to “provide sufficient jobs for poor people to earn a decent living to support themselves,” but is also offering fewer “resources for government to do its part for Americans in need.” The situation, they concluded, is “devastating to struggling families throughout the country.”

Let me offer words from someone not a Catholic that also spoke to this issue.  The author served as Mayor of Minneapolis, Vice-President of the United States, and before and after that position as a distinguished United States Senator.  Hubert Horatio Humphrey also narrowly lost the Presidency of this nation to Richard Nixon in 1968.  The headquarters of the Department of Health and Human Services is appropriately named after him. At that building's dedication, Humphrey said
It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.
 Lest anyone think those sentiments were uniquely expressed on this one occasion, Humphrey had previously said
Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.
Dionne focuses on what he considers the important criticism of President Obama in the first debate:
his failure to convey passion for the purposes of government, the requirements of justice and the point of his presidency. “The president,” says Sister Simone, “has gotten disconnected from the people he cares about.”
Let me digress for a moment.

I am a Democrat because it is our party that has the record of caring for people, for providing and preserving the social safety net that has enabled many to rise up from and stay out of the debilitations of poverty.  Think of the track record of Democratic social safety net programs broadly defined, in this partial list:

* Social Security
* Title I Education
* Educating All Handicapped Children Act  (now Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)
*Earned Income Tax Credit

Think of the broad strokes of the New Deal and the Great Society, two sets of public programs under the great Democratic Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson, which did so much to address the crippling poverty faced by many in this country.  The first of these two men came from wealth but felt a moral responsibility.  The second had seen poverty up close as a teacher in the Rio Grande Valley.  Neither ignored the importance of providing work opportunities for the unemployed, but both understood that until someone had a job that paid sufficiently to support themselves and their families they needed help.  When people were old or disabled and could no longer support themselves through work, they needed help.  And government needed to be present to provide that help when no one else could.

It is also why Democrats have supported increases in the minimum wage, which is still far too low.  The drivers of our economy must include the ability of people to spend money, and for them to do it, they have to have it.  Allowing corporations and even small businesses to exercise downward pressure on the wages and benefits of their employees helps neither the employees nor our nation, but merely increases the already obscene economic disparity in a country whose wealth is not fairly accessible to all.

We are seeing the result of the "Greed Agenda" of the likes of the Koch Brothers, the agenda against which I have been writing as I travel on my bus tour in recent days (check my user page if you have not been reading those diaries, and watch for addtional diaries each day this week).

The most recent example of social safety net legislation is the Affordable Care Act.  No, I did not forget it in the list above.  

If people cannot afford medical care, or if it might bankrupt them, it hurts them.  It makes them less than productive.  It can shorten their lives.  It can also jeopardize the health of the rest of us.  It costs us money -  to say the uninsured can always get treatment in an emergency room, as Mitt Romney and other Republicans often say, may be true, but ignores that such treatment is very expensive.  Besides, they would exclude the undocumented from receiving such treatment, as if somehow their immigration status makes them less than human.  On this the Nuns and the Catholic Bishops are in strong agreement - on this all should have access to medical care, as well as having their basic needs of food, shelter, and housing addressed.  Against this contrast the most horrid of the Romney statement on the 47% when he speaks in a scornful tone of voice of how those people think they are entitled to such things.  Yes they are.  All human beings are.

So let me close as does Dionne in his final paragraph.  And let us hope that the President and Vice-President pay attention, because this country and its people cannot afford the policies that will be implemented should they blow this election:  

Nuns on the Bus will no doubt be criticized from the right for intervening in a political campaign, something that doesn’t bother conservatives when religious figures engage on their side. But the nuns’ most important message is to Obama and Biden: Don’t be afraid of reminding voters that budgets and elections have moral consequences. Doing so just might keep debate-watchers from changing the channel.

Originally posted to teacherken on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 02:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement and Street Prophets .

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (26+ / 0-)

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 02:55:58 AM PDT

  •  On our side. with our candidates I would have to (4+ / 0-)

    say unequvicolly, NO, ours is not the party missing a moral center. We care about those who are less fortunate, who may need a little hand up such as the Snap Program and unemployment benefits.  We care about seniors being able to continue to rec Medicare, not Voucher care and we continue to care that the most vulnerable amongst us recieve Medicaid for poor children and senors when they have to go into nursing homes. We care about protecting SSDI, the fix is easy, raise the salary cap gradually until it hit 250k. Place thos funds in a real SS Lockbock and don't let the GOP borrow from it ever again and SS is saved. We aslo care about the millions already being saved and achieving bette quality of life under ObamaCare. Mitt Romney repealing it would put over 70 million Americans out of the health care system.

    And this is just part 1.

    "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. We must put our hands on it and we must bend it in the direction of justice." MLK

    by mindara on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 03:34:13 AM PDT

  •  I have no idea of the traffic this will draw (8+ / 0-)

    I think it is an important topic, which is why I took the time on a very busy morning (now in Cleveland, having another post on about the Bus Tour that I must finish before we go off on our day's events) to write it.

    Perhaps my words are not that important.  I think Dionne's column is.  I think the work of the nuns is, and I am not and never have been a Catholic, although all three of my sisters-in-law converted to Catholicism, in large part because of its tradition of social justice.  I was also very much influence by Sisters of Mercy when I undertook a Masters at a Catholic Seminary.  

    If nothing else, please pass on the links for the Dionne column and the work of the nuns.

    If you think it will help, share and recommend this column.


    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 03:43:59 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for this diary. (5+ / 0-)

    And I would say that, yes, this campaign lacks a moral core, or at the very least, has a very difficult time of communicating what that moral core is.

    It is RIGHT and it is JUST to deploy the common resources of a wealthy nation to those items which benefit the common good, like education, healthcare, infrastructure, and national defense.

    The only item this country is in agreement about is national defense. For the rest of it, we are all to scrabble about and try to make the best of a situation where increasingly higher education and healthcare are becoming the bailiwicks of the wealthy and the privileged. Our infrastructure is falling apart.

    Wages are eroded, wealth is transferred to the wealthy and connected, employment is increasingly being disconnected from healthcare and yet no replacement or alternate system is provided that offers an alternative to our immoral, for profit system that is the subject of ridicule for the rest of the world.

    These are not hard or difficult arguments to make. But our leaders are not willing to even begin to take a moral approach to the problems facing us. President Obama was never willing to assign the obvious blame for the financial collapse on Wall Street and the banking and investment banking and mortgage industries and instead promoted their canard that the victims were responsible. He and the Fed made us bail out and reward and protect industries for their bad acts. His Justice Department has done nothing towards prosecution of the miscreants. THEY DON'T WANT TO. It's just that simple.

    Once, a long time ago, the President tippy toed to the edge of discussing healthcare as a moral imperative and a right but backed off and I've never heard that argument made again. If he is not elected to a second term, even the incremental successes of the ACA will be lost and more millions than ever will find themselves on the human refuse pile of those who will have to choose between health insurance or food and shelter and between treatment or bankruptcy.

    I will vote for President Obama and every Democrat of course. But they are like putting on a sweater and going out into a blizzard.

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 04:24:00 AM PDT

    •  ACA still leaves (0+ / 0-)

      many people who have to choose between health insurance or food and shelter, treatment or bankruptcy. If your caught between being poor enough for subsidies and too 'rich' to afford the 1,500$ a month for insurance. Lot's of us are self employed or small business owners and have no choice other then going without insurance.

      I resent people saying that people who while not living in  poverty are 'irresponsible' if they don't pay the vig to the for profit extortion racket we call health insurance companies. If I bought insurance I could not afford to pay for our day to day health care needs like going to a doctor or a dentist.

      If we bought insurance we would not be able to afford our home, mortgage taxes and insurance, or worse keep our modest business to business profitable enough to provide a decent living. Health care for profit is an oxymoron. The healthcare for profit industries, hospitals included killed the PO. There is nothing affordable in the affordable health care act. It's main purpose is to keep the for profit's profitable.

      When both candidates start talking about how they need to 'reform' medicare or SS to trim the cost's or keep our 'entitlements' safe, it means ordinary people those that are struggling to feed their families or keep a roof over their heads and the poor are going to be in for more austerity. All of this just to feed the giant vampire squid on humanities face and to pay their bad gambling and war debts.

      This election seems like extortion rather then a choice. Vote for the Third Way disaster capitalist's who now own our party or else you will get the maniac hardliner  RW'ers who will not only make us all serf's but also impose a perverted theocracy.

      So while I may have to vote for these Vichy Dems. I will do so with eyes wide open and keep looking and working for a way to take back both my party and country. This is not what democracy looks like. What happened to the common good or no taxation without representation or our human and civil rights? As for morality forget about it social justice or economic equity isn't on the ballot. This lot doesn't even 'feel our pain' and fines you when you slam the door.


  •  Hi Ken I was thinking of writing something on this (6+ / 0-)

    but you do it so much better, anyway:

    Republicans have for decades said liberals are amoral, godless heathens yada,yada;and it is a recurring theme. We have needed to fight back from the left on this very issue for too long. It is fundamental to the current political reality.

    Loved the diary btw.

    "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

    by LaFeminista on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 04:46:35 AM PDT

  •  It's unfortunate that Hillary Clinton (2+ / 0-)

    has to honor a tradition of State Dept nonpartisanship she very much values. Her voice is missed in this campaign. Some of the very issues  the Obama campaign seems unwilling to  fully engage are issues on which no major figure in the Democratic Party speaks more convincingly than Hillary Clinton.  

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 04:57:33 AM PDT

  •  ER does NOT provide needed care (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wintergreen8694, shaharazade

    Thanks for writing this, it is a necessary discussion that has been missing from this campaign.

    But I take issue with one of your statements:

    [T]o say the uninsured can always get treatment in an emergency room, as Mitt Romney and other Republicans often say, may be true, but ignores that such treatment is very expensive.
    The cost of ER care is not the issue.  The issue is that Emergency Rooms will provide immediate, palative care but will NOT provide ongoing treatment for diseases.  Chemotherapy?  Forget it.  Radiation therapy?  Forget it.  Productive people in this country who are working and therefore do not qualify for Medicaid are slipping through the cracks and DYING of treatable diseases, leaving behind young children and spouses.  In a country with our wealth it is nothing short of a national disgrace.  And the Republicans need to be called out on these idiotic statements at every turn.

    Gandhi: "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. "

    by FoxfireTX on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 05:40:49 AM PDT

    •  that part of my statement is compressed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wintergreen8694, Floande

      as of necessity -  yes, all the ER is required to do - under rules established during the Presidency of Ronald Wilson Reagan - is stabilize the patient.  That is hardly addressing all health care issues.

      And in my compressed fashion, i was pointing out the expense that represents, among other things.

      I do not disagree with your comment, and would welcome a thoughtful diary exploring all dimensions of this issue.  I have written about it in the past, especially as a result of my volunteering at free dental/medical fairs/clinics, primarily in the  Appalachian Mountains in SW Virginia.  

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 05:51:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's the white hats against the black hats. It's (0+ / 0-)

    the good against the bad. It's the poor and everyone else against the rich.
    It is a determinative battle for the future of civilization.
    It's the truthful against the utterly dishonest.

    I don't think this campaign could have much more of a "moral" focus.

    Dionne is still on my "probationary" list for going off the reservation earlier this year and displaying cowardice in the face of the corrupt Catholic bishops.

    I don't know if he's qualified to speak on the subject.

    When Obama talks about the "middle class", he is talking about the poor. We absolutely must have a growing middle class in order to protect the poor and end poverty.
    The gop and Wall Street and the super-wealthy have consistently been able to frame the battle as between the hard working middle class and the poor, as they have redistributed nearly all the wealth to their own pockets.
    We absolutely must defeat this and reframe the issue in realistic terms in order to prevail.

    We should talk about the poor. We should keep them in our thoughts. (Actually, I am poor, but I'm better off than a lot, and I have a chance to fix my problem.)
    We need folks like nuns on the bus. It's good that Dionne should highlight them.
    However, he should get focused. The election is upon us.
    We have to win in order to do any good.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 06:30:54 AM PDT

  •  It's not limited to the campaign (4+ / 0-)

    Our entire political "discourse" (if one could call it that) is lacking in a moral core.  It seems to have become a permanent feature of our politics.  

    It is indicative of the trouble we're in that Democrats in Washington are preparing to turn their backs on the very social programs that are the party's highest achievements.  Note the president's comment in the debate last week that he doesn't see much disagreement between his and his opponent's positions on Social Security.  

    If that's the case, you can kiss the American middle class goodbye.

    Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

    by Big River Bandido on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 06:46:31 AM PDT

  •  Democrats from Humphrey to Klobuchar (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As a Minnesotan I revere the liberal passion of Humphrey.  Klobuchar way way up in the polls at no risk began running TV.  Her passionate message?  A Republican car dealer owner telling us Republicans can feel good voting for Amy.  The poor?  Not so much.

    •  and Amy is position herself to run in '16 for Pres (0+ / 0-)

      isn't she?

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Mon Oct 08, 2012 at 07:57:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is irritating (0+ / 0-)

    I am sick of the religious and religiots expatiating upon the subject of morality. Dionne is the same twit who managed to think (presumably) his way into opposition on the basis of religious freedom to the mandate that health insurance companies provide birth control. Now he wants to expound on what a bunch of women who are part of a thoroughly corrupt organization which also is opposed to women's advancement think about morality in our politics. As with any large organizations, religious organizations are corrupted by self-interest which essentially makes them irrelevant to such concepts as morality.
    There is morality in much of what the Democratic candidates profess to favor and immorality in what the conservatives profess to favor. However, speaking in terms of morality would be costly just as championing the poor is unpopular so that everything must be stated in terms of the needs of the amorphous "middle class." Nevertheless, preserving (and expanding it is to be hoped) health care, Social Security and Medicare are within the bounds of my conception of morality as is preservation of the right to abortion and birth control neither of which is of anyone else's damned business including that of bus riding nuns. Similarly expanding opportunities for all is moral, and this is what at least some of the Democratic candidates are about. Thus there is morality in our politics if mostly on one side and of limited conviction.
    What is most important is that according to the Harvard Medical Journal, in 2010, 45,000 people died for lack of access to health care. Millions of Americans are hungry if not starving to say nothing of people in the rest of the world many of whom are victims of starvation as policy.  At best our silence and inaction make us complicit.  Our good religious folks start and maintain pointless wars and procure killing machines in pointless abundance while all the desperation of the world barely is noted. Obviously our moral core is small, but our religious organizations have offered little aside from lip service. Indeed, they bring to mind Melville's remark about the "man of god who takes his stipend from Mars."
    In time perhaps I will regret dumping this rant on you, Ken, and attempt to excuse it as a caffeine high, but religion scares me almost as much as conservatism and strikes me as at least as dishonest.

  •  Yes this presidential (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    campaign lacks a moral core. In fact it lacks even a basic democratic core. It's a stark contrast to the 2008 campaign which appealed to people's 'better angels' and the majority of us listened a breathed a sigh of relief that the darkness had been democratically removed from power. Even Republican's would come up to me in the street when I was campaigning for OFA and apologize for the Bushies evil and thank me for campaigning for a bottom up change that was desperately needed.

    Human and civil rights and even The Great Writ are gone daddy gone. Inalienable rights? The general welfare?  As for social justice it's a concept that has been replaced by both sides with social Darwinism, viscous run amok capitalism and a global NWO.  Were told that those who own the place are doing God's work.

    Humanism is another concept that is gone so is 'public'  We are told that this is the world as we find it by Axelrod. No this is the world that those with power and money have created it is not inevitable or moral. Orwell called it the Theory and Implementation of Oligarchical Collectivism.

    I find the fact that this vampire squid is carrying a cross to be really offensive and although I'm not a Christian a blasphemous slur to every tenet of spirituality and enlightenment that humans have aspired too.

    As for democracy, equality, human and civil rights or the common good, those secular tenets that we were founded on, they took them off the table. They replaced them with fear, ignorance hatred, and a brutal security state all to feed their greed and power lust.  No moral core just a choice between stark darkness and a twilight where moral's mean sacrificing all humans and the planet's good to feed and maintain the 'inevitable' giant vampire squid. So immoral it takes my breath away.              

    Sorry but you did ask.


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