Mitt Romney is Four Years Old

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I am sitting on my couch listening to Mitt Romney give his acceptance speech as the Republican nominee for President the United States.  What strikes me (as it has with other speeches I have listened to from the Republican National Convention) is that unlike scientific creationists who at least believe that the universe is a scant 6000 years old, Mitt Romney and the Republicans believe the universe is four years old.  Four years old.

Nothing in the universe existed before 2008 (shouldn’t that be year 0004?) in the GOP cosmos.  No universe, no galaxy, no solar system, no earth, no America.  It all spontaneously came into existence the moment President Barack Obama took office.

In the Republican cosmos according to Mitt Romney, nothing came into existence until Barack Obama became President of the United States. Four years ago.

That’s it.  In their cosmology all the ills America is facing are the directly the result of four short years.  Since nothing existed before that time, the Republicans and Mitt Romney believe there is nothing for which they have to take responsibility.

There is only one conclusion I can draw from Mitt Romney’s speech: The GOP is only four years old, therefore Mitt Romney is only four years old.

As a progressive and a Democrat I have news for them.  We live in a universe that is nearly thirteen billion years old, the solar system is four and a half billion years old, America is 236 years old, and four years ago when Barack Obama took office, the economy he inherited had been worn threadbare and emaciated by years of Republican living high on the hog, passing bills and conducting wars with unfunded mandates.  They are the ones who drove our economy into the ground, not President Obama.

And don’t the Democrats bear responsibility for their version of bad legislation in the past?  Of course they do.  What they don’t claim, however, is that the universe began with George W. Bush.  FDR, maybe, but not Dubya. (For the satire-challenged, that was it.)

Mr. Romney, since you are only four years old, you do not meet the Constitutional minimum age of 35 to be President of the United States.  Neither are your Republican toddler companions.  That goes for your running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan–a disciple of Ayn Rand, an atheist objectivist–along with Rep. John Boehner, so-called Speaker of the House who has raised obstructionist political shenanigans to the highest levels ever seen in the history of the Republic, and finally Mitch McConnell, minority leader of the Senate, who for the past four years–again that toddler age–has not one day done his job as a senator to govern but has dedicated is every breath to the defeat of the President.

America needs a mature adult in the White House.  That adult is Barack Obama.  He lives in the real world with a clear sense of history, both the good and bad.  And without a clear sense of history, there can be no clear sense of the future.  That is America–true Americans have never wavered from that clarity!

Fiat and Chrysler Merge??!! Will NASCAR run the Mille Miglia?

Header Photo: 1960 Fiat 1100B.  Notice the “suicide” front door handles.
One May Love Beer and the Other Wine, But, Oh, Do They Love Their Automobiles!

Americans May Love Beer and the Italians Wine, But, Oh, Do We Love Our Automobiles!

Holy MOPAR, Batman!  Fix It Again Tony!  If I had been asked to guess which international automaker the Obama administration would instruct Chrysler to join forces with to survive, perhaps to one day again be profitable, I wouldn’t have guessed the legendary Italian carmaker, FIAT (I use caps here, because, it originally was an acronym of  Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino: Italian Automobile Factory of Turin).  Fiat has been around for a long time, being founded in 1899.  Fiat has been always been known for its small cars, even though it does have a major truck division, along with with major farm implements, etc., etc.

Over the years, Fiat has produced some fine cars of note, even if they were only known in Europe.  They withdrew from the American market in 1983.  Between 1967 and 2008, Fiat was awarded European Car of the Year thirteen times.

Of those cars, I find the 2006 Alfa Romeo (Fiat’s sport division) very attractive.  Small, but well styled:

Alfa Romea 156 Selespeed, 2006 European Car of the Year

Alfa Romea 156 Selespeed, 2006 European Car of the Year

Once word of a Chrysler/Fiat merger hit the international media, this announcement, of course, or should we say thank the Stig, did not escape the notice of the guys at Top Gear:

With operations throughout Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, Fiat has vast resources and small car expertise. The Fiat 500 is one of the hottest cars in Europe, winning European Car of the Year for 2008, and the company wants to bring the car to our shores; initial reports indicate that Fiat plans to retool existing American Chrysler plants and sell it here. We say “non vediamo l’ora” and bring us the Abarth!

Fiat 500 Abarth 2008

Fiat 500 Abarth 2008

The Abarth is a performance model of Fiat 500. The 1.4L engine with IHI RHF3-P turbocharger is rated 135 PS (133 hp/99 kW) at 5500 rpm and 180 N·m (133 lb·ft) (206 N·m (152 lb·ft) in sport mode) torque at 3000 rpm. It includes 5-speed C510 transmission, low ride suspension, dualdrive electric power steering with SPORT setting, 6.5 x 16” aluminium alloy rim with 195/45 R16 tyres, 4-wheel disc brakes (front ventilated). Interior includes turbo pressure gauge, Gear Shift Indicator, aluminium foot pedals, Blue&Me MAP with Telemetry monitoring and GPS system.  Source: Wikipedia

Okay, I look forward as much as the next gear-head to the Stig (some say that he secretly keeps a ’70 Plymouth Superbird under a tarp in his garage and that he made Jeremy promise to never call it “rubbish.”) blasting around the Top Gear track in a hot set of wheels with a Five-Point star stamped into the valve covers of it’s 5-Litre motor putting out 600 brake horsepower getting 35 miles per gallon.  Let’s just hope it does not, and I mean DOES NOT look like the Fiat 500 Abarth.

Now, it’s disclosure time.  I owned a Fiat.  Yep, Lorette and I bought a brand-spankin’ new 1979 Fiat 131 Brava while we lived in Fort Worth, Texas, my last year in seminary.  Two liter, twin overhead cam engine, five speed, and a snappy clutch.  I loved that car, especially because it replaced a 1974 Ford Pinto station wagon with “country squire” fake wood vinyl siding.  When you shifted from fifth to third, and put your foot in it, something actually happened “accelerationwise” with that pretty Fiat exhaust putter that sang all the way up to the redline.

Fiat Brava 1979 Ad

Fiat Brava 1979 Ad

The ad above was a cleverly disguised code that only the likes of Ralph Nader and Joan Claybrook believed during the dark years of the 55 MPH national speed limit.  Relaxed?  In third gear, the engine wasn’t even breathing hard when it blasted through 55.  Fourth redlined something over 80.  Relaxed, my….

Yeah, baby.  Here’s what my Brava looked like, with the “champaign” paint job:

Fiat Brava 4D 1980

Fiat Brava 4D 1980

The only difference I can discern, between my ’79 and this 1980, is the wheels.  If I actually can dig out a picture of my Brava, I’ll replace this one.  It’ll be like old times.  Replacing part after part after part, like the time the distributor cap cracked in Tillamook, Oregon on a trip with several other ministers to check out a site for a church camp.  On a Friday afternoon…but that’s another story.

Anyway, in the real world, only time will tell if this is a match made in heaven or if our esteemed colleagues in the White House should have chosen BMW, Audi, or even, believe it or not, Hyundai.  I’d love to see Chrysler survive (not to diss Ford or Toyota, by any means).  I just hate to have to watch those snooty Chevy commercials every time one of their cars wins a NASCAR race.

By the way, 30 years later I still like cars with names that are acronyms:

Vorsprung durch Teknik  audi-rings-wet-copy


The Strength of the American Soul

My daughter, Bethany, was at President Obama’s inauguration.  With a ticket.  We sent her a text message during the festivities:  “I see the dignitaries, I hear the band, but I can’t see you.  Wave for me!”, and later, “They’re taking a satellite picture of the Mall.  Be sure to smile!” (Check her blog for all her adventures!  View her Flickr inauguration slide show here.)

Satellite Image of the Capital Mall Crowd at Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration

Satellite Image of the Capital Mall Crowd at Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration

Photo Credit: GeoEye and MSNBC.com

Yes, it has been a joyous day.  A joyous day!

Welcome, President Barack Obama.  This man most improbable!

The largest crowd in inaugural history.  One estimate says 1.9 million in the Mall.  The National Park Service is going to make an exception about not counting and crowds and count the crowd.

I looked at the crowd.  I thought about the crowd.  Humor me, here.  Think about the crowd for a moment.  Think hard.  What was distinctive about this crowd? Not its historical presence.  That’s obvious.  We’ll all remember the pictures of the crowd, along with where we were on this day.

Look closely:

Obama Inauguration Crowd and U.S. Capital Building

Obama Inauguration Crowd and U.S. Capital Building

Photo Credit: AP & BBC.com

Here’s what I see.  1.9 million individuals who each made a decision to attend.  Not one person was there because he or she was forced to attend to support the regime or the politburo or to create an illusion of unanimity for the global television audience.

They came because they could.  They came because they wanted to.  They came driven by a personal odyssey with a million different reasons.  They came because to ignore the call to stand there at that time would diminish them for the rest of their lives.  And for those of us who did not walk onto the Capital Mall?  Were we diminished?  Not in the least, for they were our proxy.  E pluribus Unum.  One out of many.  We are the Union.

The strength of the American soul is not our Constitution, our laws, or our branches of government.  They are all essential tools.  The strength of the American soul, the very genius of the American experiment, is that we do not fear to gather. Yes, I know, we are not perfect at that, although on this day we proved the walls of racism are crumbling.   And on this day, when Barack Obama took the oath of office, those walls mortared by fear seemed to be dissolving before our very eyes.

How many millions around the world, fearing for their lives or to avoid arrest, secretly watched or listened to our moment in history, aching for just one moment of that freedom of decision, of will, of assembly?

We gathered without fear. No one feared for their lives.  No one was even arrested.

Our soul as a nation is stronger today.  We should not be altogether surprised, for we gather every four years for the great Presidential Inauguration rituals.  But our world is so different than it was even eight years ago.  We face tyrants who use brutality and fear all over the world to weaken us, who strike from the shade, who love the rule of death to divide, isolate, and frighten us from gathering at all.

Today they failed.  They failed by underestimating the strength of the American soul.  Our will to gather is so strong, that we prepared to defeat the most nefarious action they could imagine.  We gathered.  Prepared.  In a peaceable assembly of millions.  Without fear.

Our soul as a nation is stronger today.  The world knows it.  Most importantly, we know it.

The World Still Has Hope in Us

This age of instant news, images flowed from my TV, of celebrations around the world: Barack Obama had just been elected President of the United States.

One of the news reporters said that fireworks had been scheduled as part of the victory celebration at Grant Park in Chicago, but Obama had canceled them, himself.  America is at war, the economy is crashing about our heads.  Fireworks could come later.

Around the world, millions didn’t care.  They rushed into the streets celebrating.  From every continent, rejoicing that this very multi-continental man blended of race but utterly American would become the Leader of the Free World.  Despite what reservations they had harbored just a day ago, now there flowed an exhilarating rush of new hope from America and for themselves as well.  No government or regime compelled them to take to the streets, but they just couldn’t seem to restrain themselves.  And I thought if I awoke tomorrow and Kenya had applied for statehood, I would not be surprised.

Barack Obama.  He has not served a second in the office to which he has been elected.  But the world didn’t care.  As he stepped onto that Chicago stage, the world saw America stepping back onto the global stage with him.  The America they feared they could no longer trust; the America they feared had lost its way with belligerent disregard for the world itself behaving as a feral child lashing out in abject fear; the America they had relied on for hope even in the darkest hours of devastation wrought by tyrants or the earth’s unstoppable natural forces.  They feared that this fertile land of opportunity now suffocating under a glacier of paranoia and greed had been lost forever.

And perhaps we, too, shared those same fears.  With one exception.  For we know the power of one vote.  That is our heritage and our legacy, the flame of liberty lighting our path, each step we take as “We the People.”

I wondered.  I wondered what would those millions have been doing if John McCain, as honorable a Patriot as he is, had won the presidency?  Would the streets around the world been flooded with those exuberant crowds?  No, in all honesty, I believe the streets would have been empty.

I wondered.  I wondered what the most private thoughts of President George W. Bush were, watching on television the adulation for America’s decision bursting with joy and wild abandon from around the world?  Crowds cheering for the United States, jockeying for a moment in front of the cameras to praise America, waving our flag with pride as if it were their own.  What did he ponder, knowing that his name, indeed his presidency in those same places brought not celebrating crowds but angry hordes, wreaking havoc, tearing his effigy to pieces, calling America the worst terrorist in the world, and, burning the Stars and Stripes, words unable to express their outrage?

I know that the challenges Barack Obama faces when he takes office will be daunting.  As will they be to every citizen of the United States.  But for this moment, it’s good just to know the World still has hope in us.

This Man Most Improbable

There he stood.

Steady, solid, focused, almost relaxed.

A man changed in an instant, all the while sharing an energy for change from the well of his being,

He looked at us.  He looked into the eyes of the crowd, into the cameras.

The world watched with the expectancy of a long-held breath.

This man most improbable.

He looked into our souls, this soul of a nation,

And with words calm and articulate called to us who are blended by birth and destiny,

“One out of Many,” a nation of grand contradictions, a cord of three hundred million strands,

Woven into a rope that binds tightly a land of liberty, freedom and justice.

This man most improbable,

Strong with his own blending, resolute of mind and intellect,

And faith, more than a sextant, a magnetic force drawn by grace to the One who is Word and Peace.

There he stood, shoulders steady, voice assured, his gaze focused on a future yet to be,

The mantle, granted by We the People, he will be sworn to wear, hovering above in the clear night air.

“Yes!” this people said, reaching beyond “We can” to”We will for we are American.”

Barack Obama, President of the United States.

The world’s long-held expectant breath now matched by eyes widened in wonder,

At this most improbable nation holding high anew the torch of liberty, as one out of many

Strides from our midst, unexpected, yes, now a servant of Democracy, and her daughter,

The United States of America.

Barack Obama, this man most improbable.