An Easter Political Pot Luck - Sunday Political Brunch April 21, 2019

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – It’s Easter Week and Passover, so nothing too ultra-serious this week. People always advise not to mix religion and politics, but I love breaking rules. Yes, there are some big political developments which we’ll chew on, but I’d also like to reflect on the importance of the season. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Mueller’s Redacted Report” -- Like many people, I’m counting calories these days, so when I hear that the Mueller Report will be “lightly redacted,” it makes me think about my chicken or fish dish in the restaurant that is billed as, “lightly breaded!” Am I getting what I want, or more than I bargained for? Okay, the Mueller Report is clear, there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Game, set, match, this part of it is over.

“But, What About Obstruction?” – The Mueller Report stated it could not come to a definitive conclusion about whether obstruction of justice occurred, although it pointed to 11 areas where potential obstruction was a concern. It’s still an open book, at least for Congressional consideration. This list includes issues where President Trump directed his underlings to take action, i.e. fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but the staffers refused to carry out the order. Oddly enough, staff mutiny on these issues may be Trump’s savior. Had a subordinate fired Mueller, Trump might be in huge legal trouble today. Remember, though, Congress still has a say and with Democrats in control of the House, watch for impeachment efforts.

“Judging Buttigieg” – First of all a pronunciation lesson, because his name baffled me to no end, too. He’s South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete “Buddha-Judge.” This week some protesters chanting Bible verses picketed him because he’s openly gay. He gets that and knows it comes with the territory. But some Democrats were also highly critical of Mayor Pete this week and that may be more troubling in a crowded primary field. There are voices who say that while Buttigieg is gay, he’s still a “white male” with all the privilege that supposedly goes with that. And that he did not endure the same type of long-term, systemic discrimination against blacks and women. In a primary field of 20-plus candidates, Democrats might cannibalize one of their own

“Beware ‘The Flavor of the Month’” – Mayor Buttigieg is very popular and trending. Last month it was Senator Kamala Harris, (D) California, who was polling in double-digits. In a social media world, I think we’ll see lots of changes. Remember the crowded Republican field in 2012? At certain points there were many frontrunners. They included former Senator Rick Santorum, (R) Pennsylvania, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, (R) Georgia, Godfather’s Pizza founder Herman Cain, Rep. Michele Bachmann, (R) Minnesota, and eventual nominee, former Gov. Mitt Romney, (R) Massachusetts. My point is, voters are prone to change their minds, and often. Democrats in 2020, are likely to have a see-saw battle as well.

“Fireman Trump” – One of the strangest stories of the week was the backlash against a tweet by President Trump, who suggested France use air tankers to try to extinguish the inferno at the Notre Dame Cathedral. I lived in California for 12 years and that’s how they fight massive wildfires. I raised the same question out loud in my newsroom. I now understand that it took extended time for some French fire crews to get to the scene, as it was rush hour traffic in Paris. There are those who will jump on anything Trump says. I get that. And Trump invites the incessant criticism with his non-stop tweeting. But I think the air-tanker inquiry was a fair question, at least from non-firefighters who were so frustrated and heartbroken watching the fire.

“A Time for Forgiveness and Redemption” – It’s easy to get caught up in Easter egg hunts, baskets of candy, and spring weather. But the religious message of the week is about forgiveness and redemption. That strikes me especially this year after the West Virginia Legislature passed three so-called “Second Chance” bills. Collectively, they would allow expungement of criminal convictions after a period that included drug testing, treatment, job training and a clean record; they would also allow convicted drug felons to regain food stamp benefits if they are clean; and rehabbed parolees could get legal IDs. All three laws are designed to make redeemed adults more employable. It was a bipartisan effort!

“Why the ‘Second Chance’ Matters” – Here’s the problem in West Virginia. We have the lowest rate of adult workforce participation in America, with less than half our adults holding a job. Yet, we have tons of jobs that are open, but too many people can’t pass a drug test. Then we have a lot of paroled inmates who’ve gone through drug treatment and are clean. The problem is, too many employers don’t want to take the risk and give them a second chance, so jobs stay open, and productivity drops. Many parolees re-offend, and it’s right back to jail. These second chances are designed to stem that vicious cycle. Let’s see if it works.

“Sharing a Kindness and a Good Ministry” – Much of the Christian faith (and others) focuses on these issues of redemption and forgiveness. Jesus Christ was crucified to redeem the collective sins of mankind, past, present and future. Many people go to church to ask forgiveness for their transgressions. But there are others in jails and prisons seeking the same thing. I want to give a shout-out for the Dismas Ministry - which in the interest of full-disclosure - is run by my sister Tyler. For more information see: www.DismasMinistry.org. It collects Bibles for inmates and holds religious programs and services for the incarcerated. By the way, who was Dismas? If you remember the scenes from Calvary, Jesus was crucified along with two other men, one of whom was Dismas.

Have a wonderful Easter and Passover weekend. Let’s not forget the reason for the season.

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Mark Curtis Media

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