A long, well written article by Stephanie McCrummen in the Washington Post offers a chilling insight into the way the members of one Alabama Baptist church have persuaded themselves that the current flawed and decidedly unBaptist "president" is actually doing God's work.
Perhaps the most distressing part of the article was a conversation with Sheila, a Sunday school teacher at the church, who offered a jaw-droppingly narrow definition of some core Christian teaching:
"Love thy neighbor, she said, meant 'love thy American neighbor.'
"Welcome the stranger, she said, meant the 'legal immigrant stranger.'"
In the story, Sheila discussed the admonition by Jesus in Matthew 25:36-41 that we should all care for "the least of these" among us. Sheila's version: "But the least of these are Americans, not the ones crossing the border."
With Sunday school teachers like that turned loose on the unsuspecting youth of Alabama, with weird biblical interpretations of who is a neighbor and who is worthy of our care, no wonder 81 percent of evangelicals supported this multiply divorced, crotch-grabbing, Playboy bunny-loving "president."
God help us all.
In our sports-bar culture, the way too many people show their loyalty to country is to shout "USA! USA!" and proclaim that this is the best nation on the planet—like rabid fans rooting for a football team. But when it comes to proving that loyalty by actually voting in elections and having a say in our future, far too many people just don't bother.
A new report from the Center for American Progress lays out the grim details: In 2016, the presidential election that gave us Donald Trump as president, almost 92 million Americans who were eligible to vote simply did not. In the midterm election year of 2014, the number of eligible voters who chose not to exercise that right was 143 million. That was the lowest voter participation in 72 years.
But the report, by Danielle Root and Liz Kennedy, does more than record the grim story of people choosing not to vote. It lays out practical ways to increase the number of people who care enough to cast a ballot. Its title is Increasing Voter Participation in America: Policies to Drive Participation and Make Voting More Convenient.
A lot of the voter apathy comes from general disenchantment with our political system and the feeling that it doesn't much matter who gets elected, because all politicians are venal and dishonest anyway. But the election of 2000 proved that theory wrong. George W. Bush managed to eke out a 537-vote victory in the state of Florida, with a helping hand from the Supreme Court of the United States and state election authorities, who had purged thousands of voters from the rolls.
That narrow "win" in Florida gave Bush the presidency. He used its power to invade Iraq, a nation that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. That invasion led to the deaths of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Had Al Gore won the presidency, there is little doubt that he would not have invaded Iraq, and all those deaths could have been avoided.
In addition to voter apathy, the report points out, there are plenty of structural reasons why voting is much harder than it should be. Other nations do a much better job of getting their citizens to vote than America does. On that measure, our nation is far from number one, despite all the sports-bar-like chants of "USA! USA!" The report goes beyond simply presenting a group of suggested structural changes to increase voting. It uses deep research to estimate how much of a voting increase these reforms could bring about. This is a smart, necessary piece of work. Let's hope that state legislatures pay attention and do what they can to make sure that more Americans actually vote.
This is not about God. It's about Theo Epstein. But if the Mets somehow manage to hire Theo away from the Cubs when his current contract expires, that would feel like divine intervention.
Though the Mets organization is notable for its inability to plan ahead, they should all be thinking right now about Theo and 2021. Once Sandy Alderson had to step aside to struggle with cancer, the Mets made the non-decision to put the future of the franchise in the hands of three men and let them decide among themselves. That flies in the face of the most basic principle of management: Fix responsibility. If three guys are responsible, then nobody is responsible.
It's not that I dislike or disrespect any of the three members of this Minaya à trois, as WFAN's Chris Carlin dubbed them. That Francophone nickname works because one of the trio is Omar Minaya. I have always been a fan of Omar, and I'm happy he's back with the team, primarily to find good players in Latin America. John Ricco and J.P. Ricciardi are also professional baseball men with excellent resumes. The problem is that they're already with the organization. They're not bringing fresh eyes to this abominable situation, which finds the Mets dueling daily with the Marlins for last place in the National League East.
What the Mets really need is an outsider with a stellar record of turning bad teams into good ones—in big, baseball-besotted cities. That's where Theo comes in. He has already worked two baseball miracles: turning baseball dross into World Series gold in both Boston and Chicago. If he were to perform the same miracle in the greatest city in the world and make the Mets into champions, he would be assured of a place in Valhalla, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
The problem with that dream is the Cubs. At the end of 2016, they signed Theo to a five-year contract extension. So he won't be available to anyone else until the end of 2021—unless, of course, the Cubs revert to form and start losing as regularly as, say, the Mets. But that's not going to happen.
So Mets ownership needs to begin planning for 2021. The first step they should take is this: Whoever ends up as the next GM, whether it's one of the Minaya à trois or someone from outside, they must sign him (or her) to a contract that expires no later than the end of 2021. That would give them at least a chance at signing Theo. That one signing alone would do more to excite the team's fan base than almost anything else they could do. If the team continues to play the way it has, large numbers of fans are likely to show up disguised as empty seats. Of course, the Mets get so much of their revenue from television that declining attendance is not as pivotal as it was a few decades ago. Still, an empty stadium is not pretty.
So, come on, Fred and Jeff Wilpon, give us some reason to hope. Study some Theo-logy and figure out a way.
First in my class in Officer Candidate School. Late to the conclusion that our attitude toward the military is idolatrous.