Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Fall of John McCain: The Rabid Right Wrecks a War Hero

John McCain

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John McCain was a bona-fide war hero. Forty years ago he was a prisoner of war in Viet Nam. John McCain was a courageous politician. Eight years ago he put his name on major campaign finance reform legislation. There was much to admire about this man. However, things seemed to have gone south for him once he began his run as the Republican candidate for President. He felt the need to appease the Rabid Right. Suddenly the maverick began to seem more like a petty, pandering politician.

Recently he has been taking up the fight to preserve “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT). It is hard for me to imagine the basis on which a person would work feverishly to keep it in place. In the past months McCain has professed that he is neither for nor against DADT, but that he wanted to wait until the military can complete it’s study and survey on the issue. He got his wish. Congress waited. But now that the report is about to come out suddenly, McCain is moving the goal post to delay the issue again.

I cannot see any reasonable legal reason that gay and lesbian citizens should not be able to serve our country by joining the military. All of the reasons I hear amount to little more than trying to accommodate other people’s prejudice. I am sorry that people are prejudiced against gays and lesbians, but if anyone should be barred from service, it would seem to make more sense to bar those who have such prejudices rather than those who are the victims of their prejudice.

Some believe that homosexuality is a sin. That is fine, and that is certainly their right. Even if we consider it as such, are we really suggesting that people who sin can’t serve? I would expect only those who want to eliminate our military to support such a policy, since anyone who thinks homosexuality is a sin also believes that we are all sinners.  Who could serve if that were the criteria?

All of the excuses why we should support DADT seem lame and they have a familiar ring to them.  How often have we heard similar hand-wringing when it comes to extending rights to all people?  This hand-wringing seems particularly silly considering the context is the military.  Here’s a guy who suffered for five years as a prisoner of war, and he’s worried that soldiers are so fragile they may not be able to handle uninvited flirting from a soldier of their same sex?  Please!  Do we really think in the culture of the military that straight soldiers might feel intimidated or harassed by their gay peers?  The military has already incorporated women into their ranks. Does anybody think that a straight soldier is likely to receive more trouble from a gay soldier than female soldiers get from their straight male peers?

The arguments against gays serving in the military seem ridiculously antiquated and un-American to me.  The arguments against gays being open about their relationships seem silly and mean-spirited.  The only reason I can imagine that he is fighting this fight is because he has bought into the Republican political strategy to sacrifice America for the sake of the Republican party by opposing everything that Obama supports regardless of its merits.  I am sorely disappointed that a man with the history of courage that John McCain has shown would join the ranks of those trying to block the abolition of DADT.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the 1964 Civ...

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What many seem to refuse to acknowledge is that equal rights for homosexuals is this generation’s civil rights fight. People of my generation and certainly those from McCain’s seem to believe that it isn’t that big of a deal. We romanticize the fight for civil rights that we experienced fifty years ago. We have a list of reasons why the cause for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-SexualTransgender) community does not rise to the same level of nobility as the cause for African-Americans. But in fifty years, it will be the fight for equal rights among the LGBT community that is romanticized.  And McCain’s actions to block it will make him appear to be a small and bigoted man.

Isaiah 2:1-5: God & War

[Reflections on the Old Testament Lectionary Reading for Nov 28, 2010]

Isaiah tells of days to come when the LORD’s house shall be established, and many will come to learn how to walk in the ways of God.  Famously he says that nations shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  They won’t study war anymore because God will judge between nations.

Isaiah is one of the Old Testament prophets.  When we think of prophecy, we think of a prediction of the future.  Some predictions come true, but others do not.  This vision is not called a prediction, however; it is called “word.”  This means it has more authority than a mere prediction.

Isaiah ends this revelation by encouraging his listeners, “Let us walk in the light of the LORD!”  He does not bemoan the fact that the reality of their geopolitical situation made it impossible for them to emulate this vision of peace.  He does not scoff at this imagery as too idealistic to follow.  He believes this “word” is intended to direct the actions of those who call themselves followers of God.

I am no pacifist, but I often wonder whether my faith demands that I become one.  I cannot deny that this passage is a clear directive against warfare.  Many serious Christians have felt compelled to embrace pacifism based on Scripture, and I respect their conviction.  Many other serious Christians have a list of objections on the ready whenever there is a hint of conviction about the way our nation embraces war as a solution to political and economic problems.

St. Augustine was one of the first Christians to argue that war can be just.  He lived in North Africa during a time when the Vandals were a constant threat.  They were a warring tribe that eventually succeeded in capturing Roman Africa before his death.  It was natural for him to see the Roman military as a protector of his culture and religion.

It is normal for us to value our society and culture.  It is easy to believe that our society is somehow ordained by God to preserve Christianity.  It is easy for a people to imagine that they belong to God’s kingdom on the mountain, as described by Isaiah.  Once we buy into the idea that our’s is God’s country, then it becomes easy to see war as a legitimate tool of protection.

Our wars do not protect Christianity.  Our wars protect our lives, culture, and society.  Yet Scripture teaches us that all of these things are temporary.  Jesus never taught his followers to mount a defense to protect their lives, culture, or society.  Jesus taught us that we must follow in his footsteps.  His steps led to the cross not to the battlefield.  On the cross, Jesus died in the face of injustice.

Crimes of War & Lynch Mobs

When an angry mob decides that a man is guilty of a crime and executes their own form of justice in place of due process, we call it a lynching. We flatter ourselves that such things do not happen in our civilized society. Yet if an accused terrorist is given the benefit of due process, and if his jury does not find him guilty on every charge that the angry mob demands, then they clamor to throw out due process.

Earlier this week, a civilian jury found Ahmed Ghailani innocent of all but 1 of more than 280 charges against him in the bombing of U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The future House Speaker, John Boehner, reacted to this verdict by declaring “the decision by this administration to try terrorists in civilian court was the wrong one from day one” because “terrorists should be tried in military, not civilian, courts.” So if Rep. Boehner can label you as a terrorist, then he wants to strip you of your right to a trial in a civilian court.

The incoming Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Lamar Smith, complained that the exclusion of a key witness from the trial demonstrated that foreign terrorists cannot “be adequately tried in civilian courts.” He griped, “The judge in this case, applying constitutional and legal standards to which all U.S. citizens are entitled, threw out important evidence.”

Civilian courts are messy. Justice is decided by a jury of “peers.” They have a nasty habit of insisting that evidence obtained through coercion is not reliable. One could argue that accused foreign terrorists would have a hard time getting a fair trial because they’re being judged by U.S. citizens, but few are worried about the rights of this accused man. We’ve apparently decided that the principles of our Constitution aren’t really universal truths; we don’t need to be bothered with them if we suspect the accused of being a “terrorist.”

Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra is the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. He says that this verdict confirms that the decision to try Guantanamo detainees in civilian courts “was a mistake and will not work.” Apparently for Rep. Hoekstra a trial that “works” is one that returns a verdict he wants. Sen. Lindsey Graham said “I’m going to have my hands full holding back” some of his fellow Republicans who don’t want to try terrorist suspects tried in civilian courts.

These feelings are not the exclusive domain of Republicans. Democratic Sen. Jim Webb said the verdict “affirms what I and others have said from the beginning: those charged with crimes of war and those who have been determined to be dangerous law-of-war detainees do not belong in our courts, our prisons, or our country.” Notice how subtly this works. Once we declare a “war” on terror, it allows us to sidestep our justice system whenever terrorism is involved. Terrorism becomes a crime of war. Inconveniently, this same logic finds that a drug sale is also a crime of war since we’ve also declared a “war” on drugs. And what about the war on poverty we declared in 1964? Should legislators who insist on tax breaks for the wealthy while denying unemployment benefits to the poor be prosecuted for war crimes?

There are two thing I know that all of these men have in common. First, not one of them sat in the courtroom to hear and weigh the evidence like each one of the members of the jury. Yet for the sake appeasing an angry mob, they presume that they know better than the jury the guilt or innocence of this man.

Second, each one of them are “bound by Oath or Affirmation to support this constitution.” Yet for the sake of appealing to an angry mob who have demonstrated their political power, they ignore their pledge without a second thought. I wonder what it means to support our constitution if it does not mean to abide by our system of justice. What type of leadership can we expect from people who are eager to sidestep due process in order to guarantee that a court decides in a particular way?

The Washington Post quotes an “official directly involved in Guantanamo issues” as saying “There’s no political will for” civilian trials. Well goodness gracious if there’s insufficient political will for upholding the constitution, then obviously we can just ignore the thing.  After all if we defy the angry mob too often, then they might turn on us.

Family, Faith, and Flag

The title of Sarah Palin’s forthcoming book, “America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag” employs a clever use of alliteration to spell out a set of priorities that seems to capture the standard trio of allegiances of the religious right. Faith is trumped by family, and the flag is not far behind. Each member of this trio has become a code word.

“Family” is short for family values which refers to a dedication to the preservation of U.S. culture as defined by a romantic view of our country from the heyday of what Tom Brokaw dubbed the “greatest generation.” It reflects a longing for a simpler time when men were men, women were women, and all things were right in this country.

“Flag” is code for a special brand of patriotism. It is is both jingoistic and hawkish. It holds in tension two disparate ideas. It is eager to send U.S. troops to fight foreigners who threaten us but resentful of having to financially support the U.S. government through tax dollars. It sees no irony in a profession of love for this country while despising the government elected by the people of this country. It fights tooth and nail through the political process to elect like-minded people, but then imagines that it has no connection to those who run our government.

“Faith” is caught in between these two. It is meant to signal “Christianity” to her clan of like-minded people.  Christian faith is proudly worn like a medal of honor on the breast. It is a stamp of approval that blesses every feeling and emotion as right and righteous. Faith is in service to the individual. Scriptures are cherry-picked and their meanings prepackaged to prop up the preferred cultural and political points of view.

A recent flame war erupted on Facebook that gives us a glimpse into Sarah Palin’s family. Much has been made about the tit-for-tat battle between Sarah’s daughters, Bristol and Willow with some of their Facebook friends. It started with rude attacks from friends about their mom’s new reality show. Because family loyalty comes first, these attacks could not go unanswered. The Palin girls showed that they could hurl insults as well as the next person.  Their faith did not reign in their anger. They responded using the template of an angry patriot rather than the example of the Prince of Peace.  So we were all subjected to the spectacle of two Christians hurling the following insults to strangers:

(Willow): “Haha your so gay. I have no idea who you are, But what I’ve seen pictures of, your disgusting … My sister had a kid and is still hot.”
(Willow): “Tre stfu. Your such a f**got.”
(Willow): “Sorry that you guys are all jealous of my families success and you guys aren’t goin to go anywhere with your lives.”
(Bristol): “You’re running your mouth just to talk sh*t.”

I don’t think it’s necessary to argue that these words do not reflect the teachings of Jesus Christ. These words do not even reflect the romantic view of the good old days in America. These words, for me, add to the many other trashy and rude examples from Sarah Palin’s family that unmask the hollowness of Palin’s claims about her faith.

But that’s not my biggest problem.  I am much less concerned about the authenticity of this particular politician than I am about the impression she gives about Christianity to those who are not Christians.  I am pained by the number of people who have built a wall against Jesus and Christianity because they are so turned off by this sort of behavior from those who claim to be followers of Christ.  Christians are called to make Christ their top priority.  Until we allow our faith to shape us rather than our focus on family, culture or patriotism, no one will see the love of Christ in us.

Was It a Crime or an Act of War?

Before September 11, 2001, acts of terrorism in the U.S. were dealt with as crimes rather than as warfare. President Bush (W.) very deliberately decided to consider the horrible events of 9/11 as an act of war rather than as a crime. By selling it as an invasion of American soil, perhaps President Bush hoped to create a narrative of events similar to Pearl Harbor and World War II.

His decision certainly inaugurated America’s “war on terror.” America had already gone to war against another abstract notion rather than an actual nation. Thirty years earlier, we had famously gone to war against drugs courtesy of President Nixon. The utter failure of our efforts to solve drug crimes by re-branding it as a war didn’t seem to dissuade President Bush or us.

Wars end only after one side surrenders. How precisely does one imagine that terrorism will surrender, I wonder? In other words, how do we end a war on terrorism? Are we obligated to continue to spend money and send our citizens to die so long as there are people utilizing terrorism to try to achieve their end? Do we seriously imagine that by flexing our considerable military muscle all would-be terrorists will eventually cower and refrain from trying to attack us?

Crimes, on the other hand, end when a perpetrator is brought to justice or when the case is closed after all leads are exhausted. There is no illusion that a particular type of crime will be eradicated. The pursuit of criminals follows an arc of justice. Wars are less concerned with justice and more concerned with destroying the enemy.

It is odd when I hear the same people who insist on calling 9/11 an act of war complain about the process of bringing its perpetrators to justice. What constitutes justice in the case of an act of war? If justice is achieved by imprisoning or killing the individual soldiers involved (as if it were a crime), then what justification do we have for invading foreign lands? Can we have it both ways? Can we insist on simultaneously prosecuting the crime and the war? Do we think that by doing both we express more righteous anger?

Trying to do both is an unholy combination. It justifies arguments that the accused should not have the rights guaranteed by our Constitution. It allows us to apply the no-holds barred style of war to a trial. Yet even if we were to execute every perpetrator of 9/11, it would not satisfy our blood-lust that we want to name as “Justice.”

There is a price for this unholy combination. It is not just the terrorists who lose. Every American loses a bit of the very freedoms that wars are fought to defend. If terrorism is an act of war rather than a crime, then the same absolute fever for its eradication must apply to preventing future acts of terrorism.

With a mere crime, our society balances the rights of citizens against the power of the government to prevent crimes. But there is zero tolerance against acts of war. To allow even one act of war on our soil would make us appear to be weak. Our macho indignation cannot abide by that.

So now with every new foiled plot, we add one more indignity to anyone who chooses to fly on a commercial airplane. We allow one more invasion by our government into our rights. We pick on the airlines it seems because that was the weapon of choice on September 11th. But it doesn’t stop there. Wiretapping and other violations of our constitutional rights are swallowed by a public who have been whipped into a frenzy about this “war.”

Like the drug war, none of our efforts seem to have made any real progress toward the implied goal of ending terrorism. Is America safer as a result of all this? I suspect that in fact we have played into the hands of terrorists. Terrorism is designed not to inflict material damage to an enemy, but rather it is designed to leverage meager resources toward inflicting symbolic damage that terrorizes the enemy.

If the goal was to strike terror in America, then one would have to say that the best allies of the terrorists have been our leaders who continually overreact to every threat. Oddly what seems to be driven by our machismo has resulted in our appearing to be scared and impotent. I wonder where we would be today if our leaders had taken the course of considering 9/11 a horrific crime rather than an act of war. Perhaps then we would have brought the perpetrators to justice and limited Al-Qaeda to only fifteen minutes of fame.

Luke 23:33-43: Father, forgive us; for we do not know what we are doing.

[Reflections on the Gospel Lectionary Reading for Nov 21, 2010]

In the midst of the agonizing pain of crucifixion, Jesus requested, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Through Jesus’ merciful grace, his executioners were forgiven their sin of putting the Son of God to death.

They did not know what they were doing. They thought they were upholding the law, God’s law. They had a covenant with God, and that covenant demanded that they deal appropriately with blasphemers. Since Jesus went around declaring that people had been forgiven and calling God “Father,” they accused him of claiming to be God. In his great mercy, he used the very thing (forgiveness) that got him into trouble to benefit those who were having him tortured and killed.

They did not know what they were doing. They were passing judgment on another human. Although they imagined that Jesus was pretending to be God, it was actually they who were pretending to be God. God instructs us to be forgiving, so when we forgive, we are not pretending to be God; we are being servants of God through obedience. We are children of God, so when we call God “Father,” we are not pretending to be God; we are acknowledging our relationship to our heavenly parent.

They did not know what they were doing. They thought they were acting on behalf of righteousness, but they were actually acting in the service of evil. God does not tell us to avoid calling God “Father;” nor does God tell us to never forgive others. One very important thing that God tells us, however, is to not judge others. Judgment is reserved for God.

They did not know what they were doing. They were the “church” in Jesus’ day. They were the ones who studied scripture. They were the ones who had dedicated their lives to God. They were the ones who pressed their society to follow the Word of God. They were the ones who were supposed to show the world what righteousness looked like through their own behavior.

But they did not know what they were doing. They thought they had a handle on all things righteous, and so they followed their own opinions and ideas. They were no longer submitting themselves to God. They had confidence that they could discern right from wrong. They had taken another bite out of that ancient fruit from the Garden of Eden. They were sitting comfortably in the seat of judgment, and they enjoyed the prestige of that seat within their community.

Do we in the church today know what we are doing? Have we become comfortable and stubborn with our own notions of righteousness? Does our Christianity express itself more often in judgment than mercy? Are we more quick to judge than to forgive?

Later in this same passage of Christ’s experience on the cross; He proves not only to be quick to forgive but also quick to proclaim a sinner’s salvation. There is a thief on a cross next to Jesus. He does not deny his guilt. There is no hint that this man had ever been baptized. There is no evidence that he had ever recited the sinner’s prayer and given his life to Christ. This man had not jumped through any hoops to earn salvation. All this man did was believe that Jesus was who he claimed to be, and Jesus responded by affirming that this thief would join our Lord in paradise.

We know that we are saved by faith alone, and yet often we behave like we don’t know what we are doing. We ignore what we know about the sufficiency of faith and begin to want to layer on new requirements. Usually these additional tasks are set up for others rather than for ourselves. We forget that it is not our job to judge others, and we get caught up in a work that seems noble to us but that fundamentally rests on our own confidence that we are the final judge on right and wrong, on who is good and bad.

We sometimes take another bite out of the ancient fruit from the Garden of Eden. Sometimes, we do not know what we are doing. Praise God that our’s is a forgiving Lord!

Through A Glass Darkly

My father is a fairly conservative Republican. The other day he told me that he heard Obama’s speech to a crowd in India. He said that he thought it was a really good speech. He seemed quite surprised. I tried to find out more details about why he liked it, but I didn’t get much. He described how he had to switch channels a few times in order to keep listening. Each time he landed on a live broadcast, it would soon be interrupted by the commentators or anchors of that channel. It made me realize that this may have been the first time my father had ever heard a speech by the President.

It used to be that speeches by presidents were news. This isn’t really true anymore. Networks don’t like to broadcast speeches uninterrupted, it seems. They insist that all worthy news can be encapsulated into sound-bites. They seem eager to interrupt or move on to a different topic to keep their attention-deficit audience entertained. Viewers are often treated to more time with TV personalities “analyzing” a speech than was allowed for the speech itself. It seems to be another example of punditry overpowering the news in the current infotainment media (I can’t even bring myself to call it the “news” media anymore!)

There was a time when the networks would cover political conventions leading up to a Presidential election. This doesn’t happen anymore. Some say it’s because the drama has been drained out the conventions. This of course implies that the value of such coverage is more dramatic than civic. If a party wants coverage, they’re going to have to engineer some drama into their “show.”

The point here is that the American public is now seeing all things civic and political through the filter of commercial speech. What we hear is bought and paid for by large sums of money. We don’t research issues to find truth; we listen to the sources that we trust or at least the sources that we hear most often. We embrace an image of a person or issue that is fabricated by sources with an interest in how we perceive these issues and people. My father has never liked Obama, but until a few days ago, I doubt he had ever listened to anything the man had to say; the only things he had listened to were what other pundits had to say about Obama.

How Propaganda Can Backfire

Right-wing media has been quite successful in feeding propaganda to an audience hungry for sensational radio and television. Smart individuals spin thin facts into fat assertions that are sometimes positively Orwellian in the way that they misrepresent reality. Other times they just make assertions based on nothing but mythical anecdotes.

Last week the Rupert Murdoch owned Wall Street Journal ran a piece raising the alarm about inflation. Their thin facts were that wholesale prices were rising and putting grocers under pressure to raise their prices. The article correctly pointed out that so far this year food and beverage prices had risen at a paltry annual rate of less than 0.6%. This didn’t stop the article making the fat claim that “an inflationary tide is beginning to ripple through America’s supermarkets and restaurants.”

Sarah Palin took the bait. The Wall Street Journal was so successful in spinning its propaganda, that Palin claimed in a speech that, “everyone who ever goes out shopping for groceries knows that prices have risen significantly over the past year or so.” Inconveniently, another writer from the Wall Street Journal called her out on her false claim.

This isn’t the first time a Tea Party darling has been exposed because s/he was too gullible about believing the spin of the right. Famously in a debate, Christine O’Donnell demonstrated her lack of understanding about what the Bill of Rights says concerning the freedom of religion. The right-wing media loves to prattle on about how the separation of church and state is not in the Constitution. Of course this statement is true if you put quotes around “separation of church and state.” Nowhere in the Constitution does that exact phrase appear.

It’s rather hard to hear the quotation marks when listening to some angry prophet of the right-wing media. So it’s understandable that someone like O’Donnell would be surprised to learn what the first amendment of the Constitution actually says when it is read to her during a political debate. She got caught by the same trap as Palin: she believed the spin even when it contradicted the facts.

The scary part of this tale is that in a Democracy, we need an educated electorate to avoid being manipulated by the rich and powerful. Many voters out there have grossly inaccurate understandings of facts that have been misrepresented by pundits in the media.

What’s the Mandate?

Republicans are trumpeting this mid-term election result as being a historic repudiation of everything Obama and everything Democratic. They exaggerate its significance by focusing on a single statistic (number of seats switching in the House of Representatives) to try to claim that it is the strongest mandate in 50 years. But in fact, this year only one half of congress changed from one party to the other. A mere four years earlier we had an election where BOTH the House and the Senate switched parties. Both houses also switched parties in 1994.

The truth is that much of the swing to the Republican party reflects more general anger against politics than a preference for the Republicans as opposed to the Democrats. Polls reveal that both parties are pretty unpopular. The Republicans benefited during this election because so many Tea Party candidates ran under the Republican banner and because the Republicans represent the party that’s out of power. To be sure, a portion of the democratic wins in the previous two elections were similarly inflated by people who were simply voting for the party not in control.

The Republican leadership is astutely trying to leverage these results to achieve its agenda of reversing the progress made during the past two years. They are full of bluster talking about how Obama should bend to the will of the people and reverse course.

When the shoe was on the other foot, however, the Republicans sang a very different tune. Between 2006 and 2008, the Senate, House, and Presidency shifted away from the Republicans, and yet, the Republicans made no attempt to listen to the will of the people; they dug in their heals and became the party of “no.” They steadfastly tried to block every piece of legislation that Obama and the Democrats tried to pass on behalf of the American people. The Republicans sided with the bankers, insurance companies, and the super wealthy. They are still on the side of the most powerful and wealthy in our nation, they are just trying to dress their policies up as being on the side of the little guy.

Cramer: Stock Market Loves Politicians That Corporations Can Buy

Last night on CNBC, market guru Jim Cramer said the following:

“Pelosi made it really hard for businesses to figure out what the cost side of the ledger would be. She truly made it difficult to influence congress because… well… maybe some people… in the real world… she couldn’t be bought by the companies. The market actually prefers a speaker though who can be bought so to speak.”

In order to avoid claims that I am taking his comments our of context, please read his full comments here:

Ever since the Supreme Court broadened the power of corporations to funnel money into political campaigns, the problem of big money interests trying to buy elections has gotten worse.  2010 was the most expensive midterm election in history.  Estimates are that the final total may be about $4 billion dollars.  One fact may not necessarily follow the other, but the fact is that it is easier today than before for rich people and corporations to bankroll campaigns.

The sources of much of the money bankrolling campaigns will never come to light because it is being “laundered.” (I’m borrowing this term from the recent Tom DeLay indictment:  Money flows into special interest groups, and such groups forward it to campaigns, or they finance their own “issue” campaign ads.  Since these groups don’t have to reveal their donors, we cannot prevent people who are not US citizens from spending as much money as they like to influence who gets elected in America.

This problem is exacerbated by the recent Supreme Court decision concerning a corporation’s right to free speech.  Now that corporations have the same rights as US citizens to exercise a right to freedom of speech by funding campaigns in US elections, corporations who have plenty of overseas investors can use their huge amounts of money to influence elections.

Already we have seen an Australian, Rupert Murdoch have a tremendous influence over the political landscape in America through the Fox News Network.  In order to begin this empire Murdoch had to become a U.S. citizen, but the second largest shareholder of Fox News’ parent company, Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal is a member of the Saudi royal family.

Getting back to Cramer…..

Last night Cramer was building a case that the strong Republican showing last night would result in the US Stock Market going up.  Although Cramer swims against the tide sometimes, this notion that Republicans in power are good for the economy (and by extension the market) represents quite conventional thinking on Wall Street.  Of course, if one actually looks at whether the market has historically preferred a party, then it seems to prefer the Democrats.  (I have only researched this with respect to which party holds the White House.)

Cramer’s argument was based on a comparison of PE ratios over the past 10 years (2001-2006: Republican vs today: Democrat).  He cherry-picked a period of time that contrasts the market before the great recession vs. the market after the great recession, and he attributes the difference not to the recession but rather to who controlled Washington.  My analysis of the performance of the market is based on nearly one hundred years covering many boom and bust periods.

In fact even if we use Cramer’s choice of dates to compare how the Dow Jones Industrial average has performed, then a very different picture emerges than what Cramer suggests. From 2001-2006 the stock market rose 2.36% annually (Republican) while from 2008 until today the stock market rose 8.12% annually (Democrat). Whoops!