“Any preacher who owns more than two suits is a huckster.” – Lenny Bruce
“[When I die] if I leave behind me ten pounds … you and all mankind [may] bear witness against me, that I have lived and died a thief and a robber.” – John Wesley
And Jesus said “Give away your power. Give away your wealth. Believe in God. Believe also in me. Believe in people. Proclaim good news to the poor and justice to the oppressed.” And they opened their homes to him: tax collectors, widows, men and women of little means, immigrants and foreigners and heathens. Homeless, Jesus lived and preached among them. “Believe in people,” Jesus said, “believe in God. Believe in me.” Offered power, he refused it. People sitting in high places were enraged but Jesus mounted no defense. And he went to die without a protest, like a lamb lead to the slaughter. And he continued to confound them.
And the rich young ruler asked Jesus, “Teacher, what must I do to be saved?” And Jesus said, “Sell all you have, give it to the poor, and come, follow me.” And the rich young ruler did as Jesus commanded, investing his wealth in subversive ways. He built up the broken, brought the poor to great feasts, honored the old and the sick and the gay in the synagogue and in public. And the Roman authorities arrested him as a political radical, a disturber of peace and he said unto them “You have said we disrupt the peace. But lo, we are making it.” And the Romans, ashamed at this disgrace, beat him and kept him in custody. His friends, the poor and the weary and weak, remembered the vision Jesus had given him. And they continued in that way, and all were built up, and lo, none were cast aside or turned away.
(Mark 10 re-imagined).
CNN with “The Woman Who Stood Up to Joe Paterno,” a piece about Vicky Triponey, the former Penn State VP in charge of student discipline who profoundly clashed with Joe Paterno over how players should be punished for off-field infractions.
You should read the whole thing, but I was particularly interested in Paterno’s thinly-veiled misogyny:
“I am very troubled by the manipulative, disrespectful, uncivil and abusive behavior of our football coach,” she wrote. “It is quite shocking what this man — who is idolized by people everywhere — is teaching our students.”
Paterno clearly seemed to resent “meddling” from outsiders, even if Triponey was simply doing her job. She saw the dangers of special treatment that placed football players under a softer standard than other students lived by. She said it wasn’t right. But it was a battle she couldn’t win.
Paterno ridiculed her on a radio show as “that lady in Old Main” who couldn’t possibly know how to handle students because “she didn’t have kids.”
And there’s also this:
And then one day in late 2004, as disciplinary sanctions were being considered against a member of the football team, she received a visit from Paterno’s wife, who had tutored the player.
He’s a good kid, Sue Paterno said. Could they give him a break?
Triponey realized then that she wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Or even Connecticut.
By the next year, 2005, she was battling Paterno himself over who controlled how football players were disciplined. Paterno also chafed over enforcing Penn State’s code of conduct off campus.
Spanier called a meeting at which Paterno angrily dominated the conversation, Triponey recalled. She summarized the meeting in an e-mail to Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley and others, complaining that Paterno “is insistent that he knows best how to discipline his players” and that her department should back off.
And, perhaps most tellingly:
Tensions reached the breaking point in 2007 over how to discipline half a dozen players who’d been arrested at a brawl at an off-campus apartment complex. Several students were injured; one beaten unconscious.
Triponey met with Paterno and other university officials half a dozen times, although she preferred to remain neutral as the appeals hearing officer.
At the final meeting, Triponey urged the coach to advise his players to tell the truth. Paterno said angrily that he couldn’t force his players to “rat” on each other since they had to practice and play together. Curley and Spanier backed him up on that point, she said.
That thing about “ratting,” you caught, that right? I’m fairly certain Paterno didn’t come across that code of ethics in his celebrated study of Virgil and the Roman classics. It sounds a lot more like omerta.
Forget that we’re conditioned to expect misogyny and reckless codes of male super-valuation from old men, or the Mafioso codes of silence or the parallels to the Catholic Church’s endless scandals. Over a lifetime, the Brown-educated, Latin-reading Paterno presented as someone fit and wise and cosmopolitan enough to lead the big business of Penn State football, and, over the course of time and through the gross misguidance of others that he did nothing to remedy (and seemingly encouraged), the University itself.
Turns out he hadn’t really been fit for any of these roles since 1998. Maybe sooner. I suspect we’ll’ learn more than we ever wanted to know about Joe Paterno in the coming weeks and months. He can’t defend himself, it’s true. But he had opportunities before he passed, and he continued lying to everyone, including the community he claimed to love and, most ironic for a life-long student of the classics, himself.
Pakistan weighs in. Apparently, officials there believe that remote-controlled drone bombing sprees from the US violate Pakistani sovereignty.
Pakistan, you’re right. Now just try to remember that piss-poor governance also jeopardizes sovereignty.
Lest anyone thing I’m playing apologist for the Drone Wars, see here. Pakistan has a point in spite of itself. The bigger point, though, is the outright immorality and illegality of Obama’s drone roulette.
- It may seem painless, but drone war is destroying our reputation (telegraph.co.uk)
- American drone attacks kill 12 in Pakistan (guardian.co.uk)
From June, 2012. It’s interesting for me to re-read this in post-2016 Democratic primary world.
June 4, 2012:
What do we do with Obama’s drone war?
From the New York Times:
Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.
“He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go,” said Thomas E. Donilon, his national security adviser. “His view is that he’s responsible for the position of the United States in the world.” He added, “He’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.”
If you thought for one hot second that the NYT piece is calling Obama out for the covert drone war or his decision that he is fit to decide when to kill the families of suspected terrorists, Charles Krauthammer is here to tell you:
The article could have been titled “Barack Obama: Drone Warrior.” Great detail on how Obama personally runs the assassination campaign. On-the-record quotes from the highest officials. This was no leak. This was a White House press release.Why? To portray Obama as tough guy. And why now? Because in crisis after recent crisis, Obama has looked particularly weak: standing helplessly by as thousands are massacred in Syria; being played by Iran in nuclear negotiations, now reeling with the collapse of the latest round in Baghdad; being treated with contempt by Vladimir Putin, who blocks any action on Syria or Iran and adds personal insult by standing up Obama at the latter’s G-8 and NATO summits.
The Obama camp thought that any political problem with foreign policy would be cured by the Osama bin Laden operation. But the administration’s attempt to politically exploit the raid’s one-year anniversary backfired, earning ridicule and condemnation for its crude appropriation of the heroic acts of others.
Who gets to live and die in Yemen? Don’t worry, world, it’s in the hands of Barack Obama, Decider.
Barack Obama, The Decider. Did you ever think it would come to this?
Since the president is comfortable likening these decisions to game-play, let’s play a game of our own, shall we? A political and ethical Mad Libs of sorts. Take every “Obama” out of these pieces and replace it with “George W. Bush.” Makes you want to vomit, right? Barack Obama better fly from your gullet just as fast. Jeremy Scahill doesn’t mince words.
Mad Libs. Hey, see what I did there? Obama’s a mad liberal, and you know this because he’s a tough drone warrior now. He’s the concierge at Guantanamo Bay. But shouldn’t other liberals be mad that the Peace Prize President is doing these things? No, Timmy, you’re thinking of progressives.
If only ending these campaigns were as easy as electing Mitt Romney. But does anyone think Romney wouldn’t do the same thing? Now listen, liberals, don’t go saying “well, Obama is doing it less that Romney, and he’s keeping us safe, so it’s um, er, okay.”
This is what happens when establishment incumbents face no challenges from within their own party or purported ideology. Oh, for a credible challenge to Obama from a progressive. Oh for an Obama 2008 to run against Obama 2012.
- Drone wars and state secrecy – how Barack Obama became a hardliner (guardian.co.uk)
- Krauthammer: Obama, the drone warrior (denverpost.com)
- Obama’s “kill list” and presidential power to murder at will (antonyloewenstein.com)
- Jeremy Scahill Says Obama Strikes In Yemen Constitute ‘Murder’ – Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com)