Monday, May 14

All Hollows

MITT'S speech, at Falwell U., which Grace Wyler described to her fellow Business Insiders as "the biggest speech of the 2012 campaign", evidently because something has to be:
Blah, blah, blah, people. Congratulations, look forward to the future, thanks for the hat… 
Some of you may have taken a little longer than four years to complete your studies.  One graduate has said that he completed his degree in only two terms:  Clinton’s and Bush’s.
Okay, I don't mean to start off picking nits, but, first, Time-Sensitive Material which expired in 2010, and was already stale. What, this guy waited 3-1/2 years to attend graduation? The reaction of the listener is 1) joke; 2) clever; 3) out-of-date, and that whole process takes about 0.8 seconds. And once you realize the out-of-date business the joke's over. You realize they didn't want to say "Obama", who hasn't completed a term yet, and that whoever wrote it was too damned lazy, or tone-deaf, to change it to "I was speaking to one of your graduate students this morning, and he said he completed his undergraduate degree in…."

Second, although the use of humor is a time-honored device in oratory and campaigning, your man is a stiff. Try to keep it to a minimum. In fact, try to keep the opportunities for him to open his mouth, or do things, to a minimum.
In some ways, it is fitting that I share this distinction with Truett Cathy.  The Romney campaign comes to a sudden stop when we spot a Chick-fil-A.  Your chicken sandwiches were our comfort food through the primary season, and there were days that we needed a lot of comforting.  So, Truett, thank you and congratulations on your well-deserved honor today.
Y'know, I admire the fact that Chick-fil-A has the courage of its convictions to close on Sundays. This is not nearly enough, in my book, to overcome the fact that someone decided "Chick-fil-A" was pronounced "chick filet". Plus, lemme just say that whether Romney is claiming that he and his copious family actually ate that stuff, or just "the campaign" did, reminds me how much I hate patricians who can't be bothered to behave like patricians. The true test of Romney admiration here would be units moved, not bowels moved. If there's to be any validity to the American Dream bushwa of yours, don't pretend you were eating anywhere they serve ketchup and wet-naps.
There are some people here who are even more pleased than the graduates.  Those would be the parents.  Their years of prayers, devotion, and investment have added up to this joyful achievement.  And with credit to Congressman Dick Armey:  The American Dream is not owning your own home, it is getting your kids out of the home you own.
Or in my case, and Dick's, homes, plural. Really, can the man get through a paragraph without saying "investment" and "credit"?
Lately, I’ve found myself thinking about life in four-year stretches.  And let’s just say that not everybody has achieved as much in these last four years as you have.
Har, har. I refer, of course, to the United States Congress.
That’s a theme for another day. But two observations.  First, even though job opportunities are scarce in this economy, it is not for nothing that you have spent this time preparing. Jerry Falwell, Senior, long ago observed that “You do not determine a man’s greatness by his talent or wealth, as the world does, but rather by what it takes to discourage him.” 
Who was it who observed that it's a lot easier to overcome discouragement when you've got Jerry Fucking Falwell's money?
America needs your skill and talent.  If we take the right course, we will see a resurgence in the American economy that will surprise the world, and that will open new doors of opportunity for those who are prepared as you are. 
Romney 2012: He's Ready To Take The Credit!
I consider it a great life honor to address you today.  Your generosity of spirit humbles me.  The welcoming spirit of Liberty is a tribute to the gracious Christian example of your founder. 
Jesus walked with prostitutes, but it took Jerry Falwell to open His church to panderers.
In his 73 years of life, Dr. Falwell left a big mark.  For nearly five decades he shared that walk with his good wife Macel.  It’s wonderful to see her today.  The calling Jerry answered was not an easy one.  Today we remember him as a courageous and big-hearted minister of the Gospel who never feared an argument, and never hated an adversary.  Jerry deserves the tribute he would have treasured most, as a cheerful, confident champion for Christ.
"Racist, homophobic gasbag and licensed beggar" not so much.
I will always remember his cheerful good humor and selflessness.  Several years ago, in my home, my wife and I were posing for a picture together with him.  We wanted him to be in the center of the photo, but he insisted that Ann be in the middle, with he and I on the sides.  He explained, by pointing to me and himself, “You see, Christ died between two thieves.”
Like all successful theologians, Falwell could afford to be honest in private. On occasion. (How many times do you suppose he used that joke?)
He believed that Liberty might become one of the most respected Christian universities anywhere on earth.  And so it is today.
Or, among that subset that teaches Creationism in its life sciences program. (Once again, for these people "respect" and "units moved" are synonymous.)
Today, thanks to what you have gained here, you leave Liberty with conviction and confidence as your armor. You know what you believe.  You know who you are.  And you know Whom you will serve.  Not all colleges instill that kind of confidence, but it will be among the most prized qualities from your education here.  Moral certainty, clear standards, and a commitment to spiritual ideals will set you apart in a world that searches for meaning.
Let's just note here that the "Most Important Speech of the 2012 Campaign" is delivered by a Mormon, who avoids mentioning Mormonism, to a graduating class at an evangelical religious institution affiliated with the "Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia, Since 1996" (Motto: "For Those Times When The Southern Baptist Convention Just Isn't Reactionary Enough"), both of whom appear to imagine somehow that they're standing squarely in the center of Christian thought.
Christianity is not the faith of the complacent, the comfortable or of the timid. It demands and creates heroic souls like Wesley, Wilberforce, Bonhoeffer, John Paul the Second, and Billy Graham.
"And many other right-wing autocrats, larded with the sort of human rights advocate who'll never be invited to speak here, or join either of our sects, too numerous to list here."
You enter a world with civilizations and economies that are far from equal.  Harvard historian David Landes devoted his lifelong study to understanding why some civilizations rise, and why others falter.  His conclusion:  Culture makes all the difference.  Not natural resources, not geography, but what people believe and value. Central to America’s rise to global leadership is our Judeo-Christian tradition, with its vision of the goodness and possibilities of every life.
Fortunately for us, God, not being a Harvard historian, still backs the bigger battalion.
The power of these values is evidenced by a Brookings Institution study that Senator Rick Santorum brought to my attention. 
"Things Rick Santorum brought to my attention". Make an excellent book.
For those who graduate from high school, get a full-time job, and marry before they have their first child, the probability that they will be poor is 2%.  But, if those things are absent, 76% will be poor.  Culture matters.
Used to be that all it took for a Christian to be supremely confident was a hand full of aces. Now he's got to load the dice. How many people believe "holding a full-time job" is about 85% of that? That if we add "not at Wal*Mart" the percentage reaches 92, and much of the remainder could be made up by not having children at all, or a second income (monogamous, polyandrous, gay, straight, or Communist)? Isn't it time for the Republican party to start thinking about the wisdom of having a coalition which falls for that sort of argument every time, provided it says what they want to hear?
As fundamental as these principles are, they may become topics of democratic debate.  So it is today with the enduring institution of marriage.  Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.
Well, that was the quickest debate on record.
The protection of religious freedom has also become a matter of debate.  It strikes me as odd that the free exercise of religious faith is sometimes treated as a problem, something America is stuck with instead of blessed with.  Perhaps religious conscience upsets the designs of those who feel that the highest wisdom and authority comes from government.
Jesus Christ, you should pardon the expression, who believes that?
But from the beginning, this nation trusted in God, not man.
Did not. Hey, this rhetorical victory by fiat thing is fun!
Religious liberty is the first freedom in our Constitution. 
Actually it's "Justice", followed by "domestic Tranquility", which, I suppose we shall have to remind your ilk forever, applied only to white male landowners. "Religious liberty" is the first freedom in the Bill of Rights, which was sorta tacked on a bit later, and it begins with freedom from religious tyranny, not the freedom to impose it.
And whether the cause is justice for the persecuted, compassion for the needy and the sick, or mercy for the child waiting to be born, there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action.
"The persecuted" here meaning "parents outraged at their public school's choice of napkin color for the Christmas buffet", and "compassion for the needy and sick" meaning "feeling sorry for". Of "mercy for the child waiting to be born" let us admit that this is an accurate statement, so long as one doesn't ask any questions.
In all of these things – faith, family, work, and service –the choices we make as Americans are, in other places, not choices at all.  For so many on this earth, life is filled with orders, not options, right down to where they live, the work they do, and how many children the state will permit them to have.  All the more reason to be grateful, this and every day, that we live in America, where the talents God gave us may be used in freedom.
Yes, as your travel through life, always remember: you could be living in whatever vaporous land Mitt Romney is invoking here. You could be a parent in China, limited to one child. You could be a young girl in Afghanistan, prevented from learning to read. You could be a Negro owned by a Southern Baptist in 1845, or living in Salt Lake City in 1978. Thank God you live in a country where you can thank God you aren't.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

You could be a young girl in Afghanistan, prevented from learning to read.

Among other things...

Sadly, blowing up foreigners and protecting banksters are now bipartisan. So those things won't be part of our presidential debate this year.

Anonymous said...

MIttster: “For those who graduate from high school, get a full-time job, and marry before they have their first child, the probability that they will be poor is 2%. But, if those things are absent, 76% will be poor. Culture matters.”
Wrong, birth control matters !

R. Porrofatto said...

Oh my. Beautifully done and LOL as the kids say. Besides Mormonism, I don't think Romney got around to mentioning that students at Jerry "Dr." Falwell's Liberty U. received roughly $445 million in federal financial aid in 2010, highest in Virginia and one of the highest in the country. Judeo-Christian culture may make "all the difference", but when it comes to tuition checks, Romney should have at least called for a moment of thankful prayer to Obama and the U.S. taxpayer.

It's a pity Falwell isn't still alive. We could have put to rest any doubt over whether Mitt can talk with a scrotum in his mouth.

Christopher said...

"Harvard historian David Landes devoted his lifelong study to understanding why some civilizations rise, and why others falter. His conclusion: Culture makes all the difference. Not natural resources, not geography, but what people believe and value."

You know, at this point the civilization we call the USA has existed for about the same amount of time as did the one we call the Aztec Empire, even though the two have pretty opposite values.

For example: Aztec law had harsher penalties for rich criminals than it did for poor ones.

Anyway, while there's nothing in the foreseeable future that's going to topple us, that's what the Aztecs were saying in 1490.

Maybe when we've been around for a quarter as long as the pagan civilization of ancient Egypt, we can start discussing what makes a civilization successful.

Robert M. said...

"Culture matters."

Heh, good one. Say what you want about Romney, but as a satirist he's only about one step short of Colbert at the WH Press Corps gala. He bravely stood in front of that audience full of white American Christians with wealthy parents, and asked them to confront the absurd idea that culture, rather than membership in the most privileged demographic group in the most privileged nation in the history of the Earth, was what separated them from poverty.

What irony! What a biting comparison between the students' casually comfortable lives and Christ's radical call to charity and service!

Gabriel Ratchet said...

I'm reminded of the late Christopher Hitchens' obituary for "Dr." Falwell: "If they gave him an enema, they could have buried him in a matchbox." At the rate Mittens is going, if they give him the same treatement, they could use a carbon nanotube.

anotherbozo said...

You and Ed over at Gin and Tacos = worth the cost of this computer. Today you're better. Thank God (or someone), since the Daily Show/Colbert are re-runs. They normally justify the TV.

One needs assurance that there is sanity somewhere in the land, and candor.

Anonymous said...

"Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman" ... and between Mitt's grandfather and seven women !

KWillow said...

A mormon bishop blathering to a bunch of half-mis-edumuncated Baptist students about "culture".

Anonymous said...

Oh Riley, I howled reading your blog plus the comments. Outstanding. I especially like the comment about birth control!

joel hanes said...

Just pointing out that Romney's name-check to Wilberforce refers to the famous "slippery" Bishop of the Anglican Church Samuel Wilberforce who was a pre-eminent arguer against evolution in his day.

In other words, a creationism dogwhistle.

mds said...

"In other words, a creationism dogwhistle."

Whoa. I figured it was just Mitt exhuming the already-tattered corpse of irony to beat it with the inclusion of famous abolitionist William Wilberforce in a paean to Christianity delivered at racist pigfucking cracker Jerry Falwell's college. Yet by specification of only the last name, it potentially acted as an anti-evolution signal? I just can't keep up with these people.