Article VI Blog

"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

United States Constitution — Article VI:

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

  • Oh, Just Get Over It

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 10:50 am, September 28th 2012     &mdash      8 Comments »

    Remember yesterday when we noted that some outlets were making noise about an email circulating amongst Mormons calling for a day of prayer and fasting up to the election?  Well, CNN is making a BIG deal out of it.

    I got news for all you incredulous people out there.  Eric Metaxsis, author of the massively well selling bio of Dietrich Bonhoeffer,   keynoter at this year’s national prayer breakfast, made pretty much the same call to ALL Christians yesterday at the Anaheim, CA Prayer Breakfast and repeated it on Hugh Hewitt’s show yesterday afternoon.  In fact, Metaxsis, one upped our Mormon friends who called for a day – Metaxsis called for 40 days (the flood, Jesus in the wilderness…) of prayer and fasting leading up to the convention – and conveniently yesterday was 40 days from the election.

    I don’t know why this Mormon email is news other than reporters are out their and they just like to say “Mormon” like a child learning a new word.  People of faith have been calling for prayer and fasting at critical times in their national history since there were nations.  Does the press want to deny this is a critical time?  What election isn’t critical?  Why would this email make news when Metaxsis, a nationally known figure, saying the exact same thing not?  Likely because Metaxsis is not Mormon, don’t you think.  This is just silly.

    I am forced to wonder if the reporters here knew that Mormons prayed.  There is not a hair’s breadth of difference between Mormons and conventional Christianity on this point.  This is a big one and prayer is a good idea in a situation like this.  If that astonishes reporters, so be it, but it does not astonish the rest of us.

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    Time Turns Up The Volume

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:12 am, September 28th 2012     &mdash      2 Comments »

    Time magazine has decided to make its latest issues all about Mitt and Mormonism, including a stained glass depiction of Romney on the cover announcing “The Mormon Identity.”  Here is a link to the abridged, blog version of the feature story (with a pic of the cover) and here is a link to the story itself, though subscription is required to read all of it.  They also had a companion feature on the Third Ward in Maryland/DC that Romney would attend should he take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  This later bit was echoed at the Washington Post, who then went on and did some follow-up.

    Lowell and I have managed to seer the whole Meacham/Time piece, and this all seems to be reasonable reporting; just the sort of profile stuff you might expect when a new president takes up residence and joins a new church.  The timing; however, is a bit unusual.  Such profiles would normally appear in the period after the election, but before the inauguration.  So with these pieces Time is clearly trying to ring the Mormon bell louder than it has been rung to date in this cycle.

    We do still have some of the less reputable Mormon mentions, say Harry Reid’s, going on.  Speaking of which, you have got to love this tweet from former CEO of GE, Jack Welch on Wednesday:

    Politics are one thing…but the Senate Majority leader’s comments about Gov.Romney’s taxes and religion reach a new low.

    Welch does have a point.  But you will recall that yesterday, I analyzed playing the Mormon card this way:

    So desperate are the forces defending Obama that they will go to these extreme lengths to take the Mormon shot, which they think will help them.  There are only two ways the Mormon shot works.  One is to divide the Republican base by splitting off Mormon-objecting Evangelicals.  Well, if Mormon-bashing  Evangelical Robert Jeffress now says that avenue is dead, it’s dead. The other way the Mormon shot works is “weird.”  Well, that may resonate to some extent in the leftie echo chamber, but not out here in the real world.  Too many people know a Mormon personally to think they are that weird.  And those that don’t know a Mormon certainly know people of deep religious conviction of some sort and don’t find them “weird” – so it just has no play except with those ardently opposed to faith, and there are not enough of them to matter.

    So let me offer you an alternative understanding of what Time is up to here.  It is commonly bandied about that as the election approaches, the polls are going to come far closer to the real result than they seem to be  right now.  As Mark Steyn put it on Hugh Hewitt yesterday, “When they start to worry about their paychecks,” more than their politics they will adjust their turnout models and the polls will shift rather dramatically.

    What if Time sees the handwriting on the wall?  I mean this is some of the first reasonable reporting we have seen from a major outlet on this issue since this whole thing started.  These stories are inevitable given a Romney victory.  Suppose Time just wants to be ahead of the curve?  The pollsters have their paychecks to worry about and journalists have “access.”  Do you think the Jon Meacham’s of the world, if they spend the entire cycle bad-mouthing Romney and his faith, are going to get much access to a President Romney?

    I speculated on Wednesday that some of the MSM’s infatuation with Obama may be coerced.  Well, if when Obama loses, his ability to bring such coercion to bear disappears.  I think it possible Time sees that ability on the wane and is responding accordingly.  Thirty-nine days from now, I think it is entirely possible that we will look back on this issue of Time as the turning point.

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    When You Absolutely Positively Have To Take The Shot

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 09:23 am, September 27th 2012     &mdash      4 Comments »

    Things are desperate in Obamaland.  No seriously.  I know, I know, the polls and the pundits are telling us its over, Romney has no chance, etc.  Then I look around and realize that such is just another measure of their desperation.  If all that stuff were true, they would not have to resort to the kinds of stuff I am about to document here.

    Consider this report from the Daily Beast, which cites Buzzfeed:

    A new chain email that is not officially endorsed by the church calls for Mormons to fast on Sept. 30 and is circulating among the faithful in Utah, California, Nevada, and Colorado. The author (whose name is redacted) hopes that by forgoing food and water for 24 hours, participants will bring special blessings to the Romney campaign…

    Given the vagaries of sourcing there one cannot be entirely sure of the accuracy of the report, but let’s take it at face value, and hold onto it for a second while we examine this report from the fashion section of New York Magazine:

    We can all agree that the black leather outfit Ann Romney wore on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno last night was the closest to risqué she’s ever come. But according to a chat forum titled “Why didn’t Ann wear her garments … ?” on a website called MormonDiscussions.com, some members of the LDS church are concerned that she might not be wearing “garments,” a kind of underwear worn by most adult Mormons.

    Do realize what this means?  This means that these big publishing operations are monitoring chain email streams and Mormon chat boards looking for excuses to make Mormon cracks.  Now come on, in all honesty, if this thing were “over” would they bother?  Don’t get balled up in the content, it’s trivial and unimportant- just consider that someone had to do the research and an editor had to decide to publish this stuff.  They feel like they are far enough back on the ropes that they need to bother with this stuff.  This looks like a huge sign of weakness to me.

    The classic of this genre was on Hannity on Fox last night.  I have searched the internet for the video and just have not found it.  I do not have the technology to get it, nor the time to transcribe the segment, so forgive me if a merely describe it.  During the third segment of the show Hannity brought up Harry Reid’s whale belly low statements about Romney’s Mormonism.  Hannity then said that if Reid could go there, he could do Jeremiah Wright and tried to proceed in that direction in a discussion with Ralph Reed and Leslie Marshall.

    Hannity opened with Marshall, who tried to veer off Wright with some First Amendment babble and attacks Reed, before he had spoken, by explaining why she is an ex-Christian.  She tries to quote Ghandhi who said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”  Her quotation is imprecise, but close enough.  Hannity moves in and cuts her off before it gets uglier and tries to return to the subject in a conversation with Reed, who says essentially the Wright has already been tried in the court of public opinion and then falls into some standard campaign chatter.

    Hannity then moves on to try and pin down Marshall on Wright and she keeps trying to deflect and dodge.  Finally she says “You really want to know what I think?” and then turns to Reed, cites the end of Revelation and practically the closing words of the Bible, Rev 22:18-19, “  I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.”  (NAS)  Again, her quotation is imprecise, but close enough.  It is clear she is going to accuse Reed of hypocrisy for backing a Mormon in light of that quotation and the Book of Mormon when Hannity cuts them both off to go to break.

    Look, Marshall’s quotations and implications from them are laughable on their face.  I could sit here and take up a lot of our collective time breaking them down, but they are not worth it.  The Revelation quote is about Revelation, not the Bible (It’s a collection of books, not a book unto itself.) in its entirety and as to Ghandhi, well, Christian hero G.K. Chesterton said pretty much the same thing.  (“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and not tried.”)  Just look at how she absolutely positively refuses to address the topic or answer direct questions and how the more she is pressed to do so she simply resorts to a religious version of name-calling.  Name-calling is always a sure sign of desperation.

    So desperate are the forces defending Obama that they will go to these extreme lengths to take the Mormon shot, which they think will help them.  There are only two ways the Mormon shot works.  One is to divide the Republican base by splitting off Mormon-objecting Evangelicals.  Well, if Mormon-bashing  Evangelical Robert Jeffress now says that avenue is dead, it’s dead. The other way the Mormon shot works is “weird.”  Well, that may resonate to some extent in the leftie echo chamber, but not out here in the real world.  Too many people know a Mormon personally to think they are that weird.  And those that don’t know a Mormon certainly know people of deep religious conviction of some sort and don’t find them “weird” – so it just has no play except with those ardently opposed to faith, and there are not enough of them to matter.

    But when you have nothing but blanks, you are going to shoot the blanks in hopes of scaring off the enemy.  But even that only works as long as the opposition does not figure out you are firing blanks.  Too late, we know they are blanks.

    Things are desperate in Obamaland.  They are liable to try louder blanks before this is over, but they will still be blanks.  They have no real ammo, you know like a record of governance over the last several years,  so they have no choice.

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    One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 06:10 am, September 26th 2012     &mdash      2 Comments »

    So, yesterday, Bloomberg puts out a poll.  Results here.  First question:

    In general, do you think things in the nation are headed in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track?

    Second question:

    Which of the following do you see as the most important issue facing the country right now? (Read list.  Rotate.)

    The list is innocuous enough; so far, so good.  But then we come to the third question:

    Now, I’m going to mention some people and groups in the news recently. For each, please tell me if your feelings are very favorable, mostly favorable, mostly unfavorable, or very unfavorable. If you don’t know enough to answer, just say so. (Record “don’t know” as “not sure.” Rotate list.)

    And now, here is the list:

    • Barack Obama, president of the United States
    • The Republican Party
    • The Democratic Party
    • Mitt Romney, Republican candidate for president and former governor of Massachusetts
    • Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve
    • George W. Bush, former president of the United States
    • Bill Clinton, former president of the United States
    • The Mormon Church
    • Paul Ryan, the Republican candidate for vice-president
    • Joe Biden, the vice-president
    • Ann Romney, wife of presidential candidate Mitt Romney
    • Michelle Obama, wife of President Barack Obama

     

    Can anybody figure out why I titled this post as I did?  Something about this list put that old Sesame Street routine in mind.  Just in case you are still stumped, this poll came to our attention via Twitter from Jay Cost, who said:

    And the Bloomberg poll asks about Mormons before head to head. Worst MSM Poll EVAH. And THAT is saying something. http://bit.ly/SkWxJ9

    And there you have it ladies and gentlemen.  This is awfully close to a push poll, not exactly there, but awfully close.  The idea is that it plant the seed of Mormonism in the interviewees mind before it starts to ask about candidate preferences in hopes that bringing that to mind will skew the results.  Note that in that opinion list there is nothing about Jeremiah Wright, or any other religious affiliation of the president, even if all the other mentions are perfectly balanced.

    This is not the mere oversampling of Dems and failure to weight the results accordingly – a practice that has become so prevalent this cycle in an effort to use polls to drive opinion rather than reflect it.  Nope this is an effort to drive opinion within the bounds of the poll itself and then use the poll to drive opinion – a big double whammy.

    So, what do we conclude from this episode?  Well, several things.  For one, this makes it utterly transparent that we have to be quite judicious in our reading of polls.  We cannot just read the headlines and move on.  We have to read the crosstabs, and in instances like this we have to read the poll itself.  There is now undeniably polling out there, from major news organizations, clearly designed to make opinion, not reflect them.  We simply must be sophisticated enough to know the difference and to explain that difference to those around us.  Secondly we can conclude that those polling on behalf of the Obama candidacy view Romney’s faith as a negative factor.  They are therefore guilty of religious prejudice, simply another factor that disqualifies the poll from reasonable consideration.

    Finally, we cannot lose heart.  These polls are out there and it may seem like everyone is latching on to them to tell us the race is over.  But as we have just concluded, the polls are invalid and meaningless.  I am reminded of Mohammed Ali’s spectacular fights with Joe Frazier.  Ali tried very hard to talk Frazier into losing before the fights ever began.  It was a game Ali played with virtually every opponent, though some more than others.  That’s what is going on here.  It seemed like the more evenly matched Ali was with an opponent the more trash he talked – which is why in the Frazier fights the volume of patter was torrential.  You could use Ali’s patter as a measure of how afraid Ali was of getting beat.  Given the level of stuff that is going on here – Barack Obama, and his supporters, are terrified they are going to get beat.  That’s a good thing.

    I find I keep wondering why the press is melting down this badly this cycle.  For some it really is a matter of ideology.  But while we are on the topic, I do want to raise one other possibility.  I have just concluded reading “The Passage of Power” – the fourth volume of Robert Caro’s magnificent biography of LBJ.  This volume covers Johnson’s vice presidency, his ascendancy into the Oval Office via the assassination of JFK, and the short period of governance that he had before he ran for election in his own right.  In the book, Caro recounts a story where within weeks of becoming president Johnson contacts, directly, the owner of a paper in Texas that had been a thorn in his side for most of his career.  Johnson then threatens the FCC license of a TV station owned by the same company unless he receives a letter, from the paper’s publisher, pledging the paper’s full support for a Johnson administration so long as it may last.  In other words, Johnson used the power of the Executive to coerce support from a media outlet.  (He got the letter by the way, within a couple of weeks.)  Ever since I read that last week, I have wondered how much the press’ total and utter collapse this cycle is an unforced error and how much is coercion from the Chicago White House.  We may never know, but it is interesting to speculate.

    The point, however, remains the same: The polls are cooked and this thing is anything but over.  Be of good cheer and get busy.

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    Ain’t Nothing Like A Meme…

    Posted by: John Schroeder at 03:48 pm, September 25th 2012     &mdash      5 Comments »

    Pop Quiz – the headline of this post is a play on words from a song in a Broadway musical – Name the Musical and when a fabulous NO PRIZE.

    Seems like others are picking up where Harry Reid left off and attempting to call into question the sincerity and genuineness of Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith – No, REALLY!  Try this one on for size:

    The Mormon presidential candidate’s social vision is a far cry from the communitarian ethos of early Mormonism.

    And so it goes, though this piece is not really meant to carry forth the Reid message so much as to ring the Mormon bell.  And it having been rung, the hits continue to flow.  Cartoonist Daryl Cagle actually decries his own “mistake” by not picturing Romney in his sacred garment:

    I thought the classic phrase “the Emperor has no clothes” worked well visually for the point I was trying to convey, but it occurred to me afterwards that by drawing Romney naked, I omitted something important that is at the core of his beliefs – the religious “garments” he wears as underwear.

    Good Lord.  And would somebody please explain to me why Politico chose to run this story today:

    On this day in 1890, leaders of the Mormon Church reluctantly ordered members to uphold the nation’s newly re-codified anti-polygamy laws.

    Now, I follow this stuff pretty closely.  I simply cannot remember another story about the anniversary of the issuance of the Manifesto – I just can’t, and if there are any they most certainly are not in an outlet that is supposed to be exclusively about politics.

    As I said yesterday, “We are balanced on a fiscal cliff – our ambassadors are being murdered – Iran threatens the world with nuclear holocaust, and…” this is what the news outlets feel compelled to write and comment about?! It is a troubled time in our nation.

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    Mitt Romney: Betrayer of Mormonism, and other laughable nonsense; or, How Low Can Harry Reid Sink?

    Posted by: Lowell Brown at 05:57 pm, September 24th 2012     &mdash      14 Comments »

    Many of us thought Senator Reid would at least maintain an embarrassed silence after Mitt Romney produced evidence that he had indeed been paying taxes — a lot of taxes — over the last decade.  Reid, as you’ll recall, has been spreading for weeks the unfounded slander that Romney paid no income taxes for at least 10 years.

    Also, as John noted below, Romney donated enormous amounts to charity.  In fact, the Weekly Standard noted that Gov. Romney gave 1,000 times as much to charity in a single year as Vice President Biden gave in a decade.

    But no, Senator Reid continues to serve as the Obama campaign’s cynical tool.  Now he has made himself into the point man in making religious attacks on Romney.

    Yes, you read that right.  Reid, a Mormon, gives Obama political cover. Here’s the headline:

    Harry Reid: Mitt Romney is not the face of Mormonism

    According to Reid, Mitt Romney has “sullied” the LDS faith and that the GOP presidential candidate is “not the face of Mormonism.”

    Obama cannot say this.  No member of Obama’s campaign team can say it.  But Harry Reid, who as the Senate Majority Leader is the highest-ranking Mormon government official in the United States, can say it.

    In fact, Reid gets national attention when he says it.  And — perhaps this is the most despicable aspect of what Reid has done — only Romney’s fellow Mormons know that what Reid says is absolute hogwash.  Many others will read Reid’s statement and think, “Well, this is an internal fight in Mormonism.  It sounds like Mitt may not be such a good Mormon after all.”

    The enabling foundation for Reid’s latest dive into the fever swamp of cynicism came courtesy of a HuffPo piece by Greg Prince, an amateur Mormon historian (and, like me, a blogger who happens to be a Mormon).  Prince, who is by all accounts a decent and thoughtful man, is unhappy about Romney’s “47 per cent” statement that was at the heart of last week’s MSM attempt to create an anti-Romney narrative. His HuffPo thesis:

    Judge Mitt Romney as you will, and vote for or against him as you will; but do not judge Mormonism on the basis of the Mitt Romney that was unveiled to the public this week. He is not the face of Mormonism.

    Reid simply referred to Prince’s piece and said “I agree with him.” But Reid went further:

    Reid, a Mormon Democrat from Nevada, blasted Romney in a conference call for reporters over a litany of things the Republican nominee has said recently. And Reid added that Latter-day Saints aren’t buying Romney’s rhetoric.

    “He’s coming to a state where there are a lot of members of the LDS Church,” Reid said in advance of Romney’s Friday visit to Nevada. “They understand that he is not the face of Mormonism.”

    What utter nonsense. What spectacular cynicism.

    The truth is this: There is a segment of the American LDS community — maybe 20-30% of Mormons who vote — that votes Democrat. They will not vote for Mitt Romney.  There is a much, much larger LDS segment — 70-80% of Mormon voters — that will vote for him enthusiastically.  All Mormons understand this.  We all worship together and generally do not discuss partisan politics at church.  The church itself is politically neutral, as I once again noted yesterday.

    Harry Reid knows all of this very well.  And yet here he is, giving license to the MSM and others with less than benign motives to attack Romney over his faith.

    I’ll close by directing to Harry Reid the words of another lawyer, uttered many decades ago:

    You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

    Please draw your own conclusions regarding the answer to that question.

    UPDATE: More here.

    John HAS to add to this one…

    “‘Sullied’ the LDS faith”…”‘Sullied’ the LDS faith”?!…“‘Sullied’ the LDS faith”?!?!?! Just two quick points here.

    It is not my place to decide who is a good Mormon and who is a bad one, that is up to other Mormons, but if I understand things correctly, Mormonism holds the US Constitution in a particularly high regard.  And doesn’t the constitution REQUIRE an annual budget?  And what Senate Majority Leader has failed to deliver such a constitutionally mandated budget?  And therefore who is failing to represent Mormonism well?

    My second point has to do with how one would sully any religion, not just the LDS faith.  Seems to me, lying is a pretty good way to sully a religion.  Whether it’s a TV Evangelist lying about using his secretary for more than dictation, or a Roman Catholic Bishop covering up for nasty priests – lying just dirties up the room and the religion the speaker represents.  And how did Lowell open this post?  Oh yeah, I remember:

    Reid, as you’ll recall, has been spreading for weeks the unfounded slander that Romney paid no income taxes for at least 10 years.

    Quick definition of an “slander:”  “Collectively known as defamation, libel and slander are civil wrongs that harm a reputation; decrease respect, regard, or confidence; or induce disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against an individual or entity. The injury to one’s good name or reputation is affected through written or spoken words or visual images.”  Synonyms of “unfounded” – “baseless, empty, erroneous, fabricated, fallacious, false, fictitious, fictus, fraudulent, groundless, idle, illogical, insubstantial, invented, spurious, suppositional, supposititious, trumped up, unattested, unauthenticated, unestablished, ungrounded, unproven, unsubstantial, unsupportable, unsupported, untenable, unwarranted, vanus, without basis, without foundation, without reality, without substance.”  In other words, Harry Reid has been lying about Mitt Romney.  So who – Harry – is doing the “sullying” here?

    One feels dirty even responding to this nonsense.  We are balanced on a fiscal cliff – our ambassadors are being murdered – Iran threatens the world with nuclear holocaust, and Harry Reid comes up with this?!  I don’t know whether to laugh at the absurdity, cry over the fact that someone this low is in such a high position, or…say something I might really regret later.

    I think I’ll settle for having the fire department hose me off, a shower is not going to cut it with this one.

    UPDATE THE NEXT MORNING: Oh look, Politico noticed.  Late, but they noticed. A Couple of hours later: Fox wakes up.

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