“To Transform A Nation” Means A Holy War, Man!

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”

—I John 4:20

In case you didn’t know, there is about to be another American Revolution.

Or, take your pick, another Civil War.

Now, either this revolution or civil war will be fought by an Angry God, or by Angry God-worshipping fundamentalist Christians who are outraged that women want, and until recently were getting, control of their own reproductive lives.

Or the war will be fought by zealots who are outraged that people of the same sex can kiss each other in public and otherwise get treated as equals under law.

Or the war will be fought by folks who are upset about both reproductive and marriage freedom, mixed with a lot of outrage over ObamaCare.obama socialist

In any case, Christian jihadists here in America are letting it be known they are prepared for the worst.

Let’s start with Rick Joyner, a Christian pastor who is the founder and head of a right-wing religious group called MorningStar Ministries.  He is also the president of an organization called The Oak Initiative, which describes itself as,

a grassroots movement to UniteMobilizeEquip, and Activate Christians to be the salt and light they are called to be by engaging in the great issues of our time from a sound biblical worldview.

By its own admission, this group of Christian zealots exists to encourage its members “to transform a nation”—that’s this nation, folks—and to become “change-agents and facilitating change in every aspect of our culture as we, the Oak Initiative, become infused into the areas of social, cultural, and political impact wherever we find ourselves.”

The short of it is that this group, and others like it, have as a goal to remake America in ways compatible with fundamentalist Christianity, and these people are using the Republican Party, at the local, state, and federal levels, as a jihadist vehicle to accomplish their goal.

One of The Oak Initiative’s board members is Lieutenant General William “Jerry” Boykin (retired), who, incredibly, at one time was the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence under George W. Bush. Boykin, a fundamentalist zealot, became relatively famous for his remarks in 2003 related to the War on Terror, remarks made while serving as the, uh, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, and remarks that claimed that his Christian God was “bigger” than the Muslim “idol.”

In a follow-up statement—part of which was redacted by adults in the Pentagon—a statement meant to apologize for and explain the juvenile and stupid claims that upset so many here and abroad, Boykin wrote:

• I believe that God intervenes in the affairs of men, to include nations, as Benjamin Franklin so eloquently stated. Yes I believe that George Bush was placed in the White House by God as well as Bill Clinton and other presidents.

• As a Christian I believe that there is a spiritual war that is continuous as articulated in the Bible. It is not confined to the war of terrorism.

Nothing, I submit, articulates the mindset of right-wing Christians—who, again, have hijacked the Republican Party to do their dirty work—better than those two statements: God guides history and history is essentially a battle between Good Spirits and Evil Spirits.

Magical thinking like that is everywhere these days, in caves in Tora Bora or in, well, Virginia Beach, Virginia, home of Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network.

Robertson, fresh off from citing the death penalty in Leviticus for gay folks and suggesting that two gay men kissing makes him barf—no word in yet on what two women kissing does to him, but I have my suspicions—and claiming that “the Bible didn’t talk about civil rights,” asked:

Which is going to take precedence, the Supreme Court of the United States or the holy word of God?

Apparently, the answer is “the holy word of God,” at least the version interpreted by Pat Robertson. On Wednesday the religious freak suggested that Americans follow the Egyptians and “rise up against” ObamaCare, which, of course, is “state socialism,” even though Republicans invented it. In any case, God, obviously, is opposed to folks having health insurance because if you just pray hard enough, and, more important, send Pat Robertson thirty-bucks a month, you don’t need no stinkin’ health insurance.

And if you think an Egyptian-like revolt here in America is only a figment of Pat Robertson’s twisted, fundamentalist mind, then you don’t know Larry Klayman, who founded Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch and writes a column for the popular source of Christian lies about Obama, World Net Daily. Klayman wrote on Tuesday that the President “is a closet religious Muslim through and through” and then suggested the possibility of a military revolt against him:

…given the state of affairs generally in this nation, which borders on total political, economic, moral and ethical collapse, is it inconceivable that one day the military in this country could rise up in support of not only the American people but themselves, and remove Obama and his radical Muslim, socialist comrades by whatever means prove necessary to preserve the republic?

Yes, he went there. But that’s expected from a zealot who is fearful that a non-peaceful revolution “could again prove necessary to restore the republic.”

But Barack Obama is not just an enemy of the United States. American Family Association talk show maiden, Sandy Rios, said about the President:

I long ago crossed the line in trying to be careful about how I speak about him because as far as I’m concerned he’s an enemy of the faith. I believe he is. He presses all things immoral, all things unbiblical and he claims to be a Christian which to me is even worse, it’s worse.

Okay, I can see how Obama is an enemy of America. He wants to destroy it and then turn it over to the Chinese or the Muslims or whoever else would want it at that point. What I don’t see is how he is “an enemy of the faith.” Perhaps, weirdly, it is his faithfulness to his, uh, one and only wife that makes him an enemy, or his two lovely children?roberson and trump

Whatever it is, we know that a real friend of the faith would be somebody like, oh, Donald Trump! Yeah, Trump is someone that right-wing Christians can get behind. And Bob Vander Plaats, that freaky Christian zealot from Iowa, is doing just that. He has invited the mammon-crazed, divorced (twice!) birther to speak at something called, falsely, the Family Leadership Summit. Praise God, who we are told, knows how many hairs are on Donald’s strange looking head, if not how few synapses are firing at any one time inside it.

Speaking of a lack of lively synapses, there’s Glenn Beck. Last week he said,

we are not fighting with the president of the United States, we are not fighting with the Democrats, we are fighting evil.

Except that the other day he said President Obama was a “ridiculous piece of garbage.” But, now that I think about it, I guess you don’t have to be an evil piece of garbage. On Tuesday Beck said:

…we are in so much trouble … if we don’t wake up and, as a nation, start to insist that our nation’s laws follow the laws of nature’s god and nature’s laws, we’re in trouble, man; we’re in real trouble. The darkness is astounding.

Yes, “we’re in trouble, man.” The darkness, the darkness of religious dogma, is astounding. But what is more astounding is that such dogma has a home, a relatively comfortable home, in the Republican Party.

And whether sober-minded Democrats, or even the few sober-minded Republicans left out there, want to admit it or ignore it, these dogma-loving zealots have taken over local precincts and local elective offices, state party committees and statehouses, and have a sizable contingent in the Congress of the United States.

Yep, we’re in trouble, man.

Sin, Sodomy, And The Smiling Face Of God

“…the principal purpose and the necessary effect of this law are to demean those persons who are in a lawful same-sex marriage. This requires the Court to hold, as it now does, that DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.”

—Justice Kennedy, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act

“I do not believe any of us is entitled to rearrange God’s divine order for the universe and its inhabitants.”

Franklin Graham, son of Billy

frank Page, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, found Jesus when he was all of nine years old.

When you think about it, it is a very strange notion that a third-grader would, of his own volition, go looking for Jesus. I mean, if it weren’t for adult interference, kids that age would be more interested in video games or picking their noses. But Frank Page had some help in finding Jesus. Here are the heroes, or culprits, depending on your point of view, behind his story:

frank page

Those rather harmless looking folks in the photo above, Raymond and Elsie Hampton, first brought Frank Page into contact with zealots who, through years of indoctrination, finally convinced a nine-year-old kid that he was a flawed human being beyond any earthly hope of redemption—in other words a “sinner”—and put Page on a leadership path within the Southern Baptist Convention, which after the Catholics, is the largest group of organized Christians in the country.

Here’s how the Baptist Press described Page’s conversion:

…as he listened to the pastor, he became more aware of his need for Christ.

“In one of those somewhat classic situations, during the invitation I went forward and I asked the pastor if he would help me come to know Christ,” Page said. “He prayed with me, and I prayed a prayer of confession and repentance and of begging God to come into my heart.

“Right there in front of the congregation there at Southside Baptist Church on that Sunday night I gave my life to Christ. I was baptized shortly thereafter, and then later my brother, my sisters, my mom and dad were as well.”

It often works that way. Some caring, or meddling, soul invites a kid to church and before you know it the whole family becomes zealots. Or, more often, parents drag their kids to church and make them zealots that way. Either method, bottom-up or top-down, is effective for spreading fundamentalism, and fear.

And if it ended there, if it ended with a bunch of people crowding churches on Sunday to hear about Jesus and to learn Iron Age theology, that would be one thing. Theoretically, not much social harm, and indeed some social good, might come from such gatherings, from such dedication to a higher purpose.

But in practice the Frank Pages do much damage to the notion of a civilized society because they are not just worried about the sweet by and by, not just concerned with the everlasting home of individual sinners. And the reason they are not is contained in that conversion story of the nine-year-old Page:

I prayed a prayer of confession and repentance and of begging God to come into my heart.

Confess, repent, and beg. It is a pattern that fundamentalists and evangelicals learn early on in church and one which they follow in the world at large, especially when it comes to certain social issues like abortion and homosexual rights. These folks feel compelled to work out their repentance and to satisfy an angry God by forcing the rest of us to bend our knees to their theology, to their view of what Franklin Graham called “God’s divine order for the universe and its inhabitants.

That is what makes what these people do on Sunday, and beyond, so potentially damaging to the social fabric of our modern, secular Republic. They don’t want to just huddle together on Sunday and share stories, or fantasies, about Jesus. They don’t just want to meet and discuss how many angels can dance on Bill O’Reilly’s pin head.

They want to mold society into one that, by law, is bound to follow the ancient teachings of the Jesus they adore, at least the Jesus preached from the pulpits in the churches they populate, the Jesus who would outlaw abortion (though he never spoke a word about it) or outlaw gay marriage (though he didn’t say a word about homosexuality).

It’s no coincidence that just about a month after Barack Hussein Obama was reelected, Frank Page addressed his fellow churchmen with this:

I am asking all Southern Baptists to join me in a year of emphasis on prayer like none we’ve ever seen before.

Interestingly, Page admits that “for some time” God had burdened his heart “about prayer and spiritual awakening,” as far back as 2006. But for some strange reason, just after the 2012 election, Page felt it necessary to urge the Southern Baptists to join him,

in a year-long emphasis for calling to our Lord for His mercy, for His guidance and for His forgiveness.

Seeking God’s mercy and guidance and forgiveness, part of the pattern of fundamentalist thought both here and around the world, is how many American conservative Christians no doubt spent this Sunday, at least that part of the day spent listening to people like Dan Biser, a Southern Baptist pastor, who had urged fellow believers to make a point of begging God for forgiveness today:

For many followers of Christ, this Sunday, June 30, is their first gathering following the momentous historical announcement by the Supreme Court. The churches I serve have set aside this Sunday as A Day of Mourning and Prayer. I am calling our people to assemble with a solemn awareness of the state of our nation and the impact of these rulings upon us.

In the Old Testament, national and spiritual leaders often confessed the sins of the nation in their cries to the Lord. Sometimes they were in political positions to effect immediate change, such as Nehemiah’s prayer in his leadership role in post-exilic Jerusalem. But others cried out to God from an adversarial national setting, such as Elijah under Ahab’s wicked rule over the northern kingdom of Israel.

As we pray, let us acknowledge that every act of sin legalized and embraced by our culture is a provocation of the Lord God and His holiness and righteousness as declared in His Holy Word.

Let us acknowledge that, though the Lord God is kind, patient and longsuffering, He has never (and will not) grant His continued blessings on any nation or people that chooses sin over our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In other words, if Christians aren’t busy confessing, repenting, and begging this Sunday, the loving Almighty Savior is gonna get real mad over the fact that the homosexual folks He created can now enjoy all the blessings of liberty, and tax breaks, that the federal government can give them. Yes, that’s enough to piss off the King of the Universe, who, if He is to be pissed off at anyone, should be pissed off at Himself, since, presumably, He is the one Who created folks with a fondness for same-sex matrimony.

Most right-wing Christians believe—at least the ones I am familiar with—that there is a conspiracy behind extending equal protection under the law to what conservative Bible-believers call sodomites.  An article on CBN.com, quoting the authors of The Homosexual Agenda, claims that some gay-friendly people are,

using tactics on ‘straight’ America that are remarkably similar to the brainwashing methods of Mao Tse-Tung’s Communist Chinese — mixed with Madison Avenue’s most persuasive selling techniques.

Yes, it is ironic that conservative Christians, who recruit and indoctrinate kids, who feed them full of scary stories of hell and everlasting punishment, who then bid them to come forth to the altar and “wash” their sins away, yes, it is ironic that those folks would dare to say that attempts to gain equal rights under the law for homosexuals smell of Mao’s “brainwashing methods.”

Besides the irony, there is the politics of the matter. The recent Supreme Court decision to stop discriminating against a class of Americans who the Bible finds detestable and worthy of death poses a problem for the Republican Party. As David Brody, the chief political correspondent (!) for Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network (Robertson, predictably, compares DOMA decision to Sodom and Gomorrah), put it,

Republican politicians are going to be faced with a political dilemma. The Brody File calls it a, “Judeo-Christian Backbone Moment.” Will they run away from the issue of traditional marriage or embrace it? Polls suggest more Americans (especially younger voters) are accepting of gay marriage so does that mean these “pro-family” politicians will modify their views? Does it mean they will change their views (Hello Rob Portman)? Or will they simply stop defending traditional marriage and run away from it like the plague? After all, unless they live in a super secure congressional district or a very conservative state, they may believe that one of the options above may keep them afloat politically. The American people are about to find out who the pretenders are. Will these GOP Congressman choose political survival or Judeo-Christian Statesmanship?

At least one GOP Congressman, from my old home state of Kansas, is taking up the fight—uh, crusade—to rid the country of equal protection under the law for sodomites. Tim Huelskamp, who represents the nearly-unpopulated parts of Kansas—more than half of the state geographically—has introduced yet another Federal Marriage Amendment as a way to alter the Constitution so that it will conform to what he believes is God’s Law.

As RightWingWatch reported, the congressman appeared on a right-wing radio show hosted by Steve Deace and,

Huelskamp accused the justices of trying to “rewrite the Constitution” and of attacking Jesus Christ himself. “The idea that Jesus Christ himself was degrading and demeaning is what they’ve come down to,” he said.

The congressman agreed with Deace’s charge that the left “has every intention of turning government against the church.” He added that progressive are bent on “ramming their views down the throats of Americans.”

Again, how ironic that a man who, according to his own bio, had “the essentials” of his Catholic faith “instilled” in him “at an early age,” would claim that those who seek equal protection under the law are “ramming their views down the throats of Americans.”

It may be that the issue of homosexual marriage weakens the bond between conservative Christians and the Republican Party, which would not only be good for the party but good for the country. Or it may be that the GOP doubles down on attempts to put the sodomites back in their rightful place, a move that would further alienate the party from young people and others who no longer view homosexuals as sinners worthy of death and additional tax liability.

Whatever happens with the politics, we do know that there are many, many Christians out there who think God is busy figuring out ways to execute judgment on the nation for embracing equality before the law. And apparently he is starting with, of all places, Colorado Springs. Who could have guessed that?

“God,” as William Cowper told us, “moves in a mysterious way.” And if, after all the confessing and repenting and begging that is undoubtedly going on this Sunday in reactionary churches around America, if God doesn’t kill us all, then I, for one, will see that as a sign that Cowper was right:

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

The Unpardonable Sin: Voting For Obama

You alone are to be feared. Who can stand before you when you are angry? From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet—

—the Book of Psalms

ear. Religion rules by fear. And lots of it.

Men,” Mark Twain wrote, “are more compassionate…than God” because “men forgive their dead, but God does not.”  And who wouldn’t fear a god who holds a grudge past the grave?

Or past an election.

James Dobson, who for years was one of the most prominent voices in conservative evangelical Christianity, suggested, during a solemn, I-can’t-believe-my-eyes, post-election discussion with other like-minded zealots, that God may have judgment on his mind:

It’s my speculation that America has turned its back on the principles that we have believed in for 230 years. And there’s a lot of wickedness that’s going on out there. Fifty-five million babies have been murdered, and we don’t think God sees that? 

Franklin Graham, who now runs his dad’s part of the Evangelical Empire, The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, explained to Newsmax how the election of Barack Obama may just move God to finish us off:

“In the last four years, we have begun to turn our backs on God,” Graham reiterated. “We have taken God out of our education system. We have taken him out of government. You have lawyers that sue you every time you mention the name of Jesus Christ in any public forum.

“What has happened is we have allowed ourselves to take God out of everything that we do – and I believe that God will judge our nation one day.”

And, “maybe God will have to bring our nation to our knees – to where that we just have a complete economic collapse” to do that, Graham said. “Maybe at that point, people will again call upon the name of almighty God.”

Fear. Do what God’s self-appointed spokesmen say or else.

It never occurred to Franklin Graham, of course, that we almost had a “complete economic collapse” under the God-fearing evangelical Christian George W. Bush, but perhaps that is because lately God has had a hard time communicating to the leaders of the Evangelical Empire.

Pat Robertson said in January the following:

I spent the better part of a week in prayer and just saying, “God just show me something,” and I’ll share with you—uh, some things I’ll share with you. I think he showed me about the next president but I’m not supposed to talk about that, so I’ll leave you in the dark…but I think I know who it’s gonna be.

We know now that Robertson thought he heard God say that Mitt Romney would be the next president. We know that because Robertson fessed up last week:

So many of us miss God. I’ll tell you, I won’t get into great detail about elections, but I sure did miss it. I thought I had heard from God. I thought I had heard clearly from God. What happened? What intervenes? Why? You ask God, how did I miss it? Well, we all do and I’ve had a lot of practice.

Oh, my. If God can’t make his message clear to Pat Robertson, what hope do the rest of us have?

In any case, in the context of God’s vindictive behavior toward his creation, or more narrowly, the American electorate who elected Barack Obama, I will bookend this piece with more Mark Twain, a famous excerpt from his Letters From The Earth:

I will tell you a pleasant tale which has in it a touch of pathos. A man got religion, and asked the priest what he must do to be worthy of his new estate. The priest said, “Imitate our Father in Heaven, learn to be like him.” The man studied his Bible diligently and thoroughly and understandingly, and then with prayers for heavenly guidance instituted his imitations.

He tricked his wife into falling downstairs, and she broke her back and became a paralytic for life;

he betrayed his brother into the hands of a sharper, who robbed him of his all and landed him in the almshouse; he inoculated one son with hookworms, another with the sleeping sickness, another with gonorrhea;

he furnished one daughter with scarlet fever and ushered her into her teens deaf, dumb, and blind for life;

and after helping a rascal seduce the remaining one, he closed his doors against her and she died in a brothel cursing him.

Then he reported to the priest, who said that that was no way to imitate his Father in Heaven. The convert asked wherein he had failed, but the priest changed the subject and inquired what kind of weather he was having, up his way.

Romney And Robertson Are Out To Prove God Wrong?

His internal polls must be showing a deficiency in tongue-talking evangelical support for Mittens’ Magical Mormonism.

Why else would Romney appear with that crazy evangelist who talks to TV cameras and God for a living, Pat Robertson? With Robertson approvingly looking on, Romney uttered this weird rhetorical trifecta on Saturday:

I will not take God out of the name of our platform. I will not take God off our coins, and I will not take God out of my heart.

Wow! Thank God that God is safe from yet another Bain Capital downsizing! Those things can get messy you know. One day you think you’ve got a job—in this case God was workin’ three jobs!—and then in comes Bain and faster than you can say Holy Shih Tzu! you’re outta there.

For his part, the electronic evangelist, who on Tuesday said the Democratic Party is “the party of gays, godlessness and whatever else,” had previously endorsed Mittens, despite saying in 2011,

I’ve personally backed off from direct political involvement. I’ve been there, done that. The truth of the matter is politics is not going to change our world. It’s really not going to make that much of a difference.

Well, God ain’t nothing if he ain’t fickle, and apparently the Almighty has taken a divine shine to Mittens and Mormonism, so much so that Romney and Robertson can pal around together in the name of, uh, Jesus? Or is it in the name of Joseph Smith? Ayn Rand? Clint Eastwood?—no, can’t be him. I think he’s still alive. I forget who it is.

In any case, there are plenty of places you can go on the Internet to see the nutty things Robertson has said and done, and I have written plenty about them myself (here and here for instance). Suffice it to say now that I am quite intrigued by the Romney appearance with Pat Robertson because in January of this year Pat Robertson told his viewers the following:

I spent the better part of a week in prayer and just saying, “God just show me something,” and I’ll share with you—uh, some things I’ll share with you. I think he showed me about the next president but I’m not supposed to talk about that, so I’ll leave you in the dark…but I think I know who it’s gonna be.

Okay, Pat Robertson thinks he knows who will win in November. Wait, I’m sorry. He thinks God told him who the next president will be. That’s kind of different, ain’t it?

And, lucky you,  if you watch the entire segment below, you will know too. You can figure it out from what Robertson says God told him, things like “this country will begin disintegrating.” We all know that must mean that Obama wins because any candidate Robertson and God endorses would not countenance the disintegration of the country, right? Well, right?

But I am wondering why, if Romney believes in Robertson and if Robertson heard from God that Romney is already a loser, why would the loser still keep on campaigning such that he might prove Robertson and God both wrong? Wait. Can you actually prove God wrong? Huh?

Beats me. I just don’t know. But I do know that if you watch the entire segment below you will deduce who will win in November as well as note that, as I said at the time, God has replaced his message of “good tidings of great joy” with,

Your country will be torn apart by internal stress. A house divided cannot stand. Your president holds a radical view of the direction of your country which is at odds with the majority. Expect chaos and paralysis. Your president holds a view which is at the odds with the majority — it’s a radical view of the future of the country…the future of the world is at stake…

Remarks And Asides

TV evangelist and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson has declared he is done with endorsing candidates: 

I’ve personally backed off from direct political involvement. I’ve been there, done that. The truth of the matter is politics is not going to change our world. It’s really not going to make that much of a difference.

Now, if only he will tell GOP Jesus that. The Man Upstairs has got at least three Republican candidates in the race.

___________________________

In response to an assertion from Dick and/or Liz Cheney that President Obama “slandered the nation,” and that he “owes an apology to the American people” for daring to criticize the Bush torture policy while subsequently following Bush-like counterterrorism strategy, John McCain said the following:

It is very obvious that one of the great recruitment tools that our enemy has is the fact that we tortured people, which is not in keeping with the standards of the treatment of prisoners. We never got useful information as a result of torture, but we sure got a lot of angry citizens around the world, and deservedly so.

Deservedly so.” Imagine, if you can, what would have happened if President Obama had said “citizens around the world” were “deservedly” angry at us for torturing prisoners. 

_______________________________

Speaking of Obama’s imitation of the Bush-Cheney strategy on terrorism, Joshua Hersh at HuffPo reminded us of this quote from the 2008 version of Mitt Romney:

Barack and Hillary have made their intentions clear regarding Iraq and the War on Terror. They would retreat and declare defeat. And the consequence of that would be devastating. It would mean attacks on America, launched from safe havens that make Afghanistan under the Taliban look like child’s play. About this, I have no doubt.

He had no doubt.  He had no doubt that “Barack and Hillary” “would retreat and declare defeat.” Someone should tell that to Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki and many others because they do have serious doubts whether Barack and Hillary would retreat and declare defeat.

Of course if you want to tell them you will have to call long-distance.

_______________________________

In light of the Wall Street protests in New York and elsewhere, someone at HuffPo pulled this remarkable quote from an old George Carlin routine (I’ve changed the profanity to protect the innocent):

You know something? [Wall Street] will get it. They’ll get it all from you sooner or later, ’cause they own this (bleepin’) place. It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it. You and I are not in the big club. … The table is tilted, folks. The game is rigged. And nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care. Good, honest hard working people … continue to elect these rich (bleepbleepers) who don’t give a (bleep) about them.

Bleepin’ A.

________________________________

Finally, take this all you Obama-hating, Warren Buffett-loathing Reagan worshippers:

Never Fear, Pat Robertson’s Here

Thank God for Pat Robertson. 

Some storm tracks show Hurricane Irene heading for the nutty evangelist’s Magic Kingdom in Virginia Beach, so naturally he has more than a passing interest in the big storm.

Pat already has a couple of victories over hurricanes on his divine résumé.  He prayed away Hurricane Gloria in 1985 and Hurricane Felix in 1995, so Irene should be no match for his imprecatory powers.

Word has it that he petitioned God on Thursday to send the monster out into the ocean, away from his headquarters and by extension the rest of American civilization.

So, I suppose we shouldn’t worry about it anymore.

By the way, no word from the small-v vicar of Christ on just why the Almighty is sending Irene up the east coast.   Let’s see, Robertson suggested Hurricane Katrina was God’s way of punishing America for (I forget which) the sin of abortion or the sin of homosexuality or—worst of all—the sin of being a Democrat.

My money this time is on the fact that GOP Jesus is still a little pissed that North Carolina turned Democratic blue in 2008, helping put The Scary Negro in the White’s House.  Those disobedient folks should prepare for a heavenly beating this weekend, should the Republican Savior turn a deaf ear to his earthly champion in Virginia.

By the way, Tuesdays earthquake in the D.C. area—which reportedly happened while the evangelist was in the middle of yet another “end times” broadcast—apparently cracked the Washington Monument, which, of course, meant it also cracked Pat Robertson’s head:

It seems to me the Washington Monument is a symbol of America’s power. It has been the symbol of our great nation. We look at the symbol and we say ‘this is one nation under God.’ Now there’s a crack in it… Is that sign from the Lord? … You judge. It seems to me symbolic.

Now, I’m not one to question the Almighty’s methods, but it seems to me if God wanted to send the important message that America is in decline, he didn’t need to use that age-old natural disaster trick the Big Showoff always uses.

He’s done enough by telling Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry to run for president.

You judge.

Remarks and Asides

Newt Gingrich’s staff has divorced him.

_______________________________

Rush Limbaugh, conservatism’s coronating coroner, has pronounced Mitt Romney’s presidential ambitions dead.  The killer was Romney’s outrageously mainstream views on climate change and energy efficiency.  Reuters reported Romney, in a rare moment of consistency, said to a crowd in New Hampshire:

“I believe the world is getting warmer, and I believe that humans have contributed to that,” he told a crowd of about 200 at a town hall meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire.

“It’s important for us to reduce our emissions of pollutants and greenhouse gases that may be significant contributors.”

Bye-bye nomination,” said climate-science denier and radio climatologist Limbaugh.  The good news for Romney is that Rush once pronounced Obama’s presidential ambitions dead in 2008. So, don’t take any shit, Mitt!

_________________________________

Speaking of Mitt, for strategic reasons he has decided not to compete in the decidedly undemocratic Iowa Republican straw poll this August.  You know, that’s the poll in which, thanks to the media and the deep pocket$ of hopeful candidates, a handful of extremist conservatives get disproportionate attention and nominate either an extremist loser like Pat Robertson (1987) or, God help us, George W. Bush (1999). 

Just to put things in perspective, the victory in the poll for George W, which he said, “jump-started our grass-roots organization for the main event, the Iowa caucuses,” was achieved by purchasing—literally, purchasing—the votes of 7,418 zealots.  Those are the folks we first have to thank for the costly disaster in Iraq and the costly disaster in our economy. 

The folks we have to thank last for those costly disasters are, of course, the Republicans on our laughingly impartial Supreme Court, who put W in office.

_________________________________

The state of Alaska is ready to release thousands of emails emanating from the fingertips of Sarah Palin during what the AP reports as “her first two years as governor.”  First two years?  That must be sort of an inside joke among those AP types.  Always kidding around like that.

In any case, I’m just guessing here, but I bet that we will find, upon release of the 24,000 pages of emails, that Sarah Palin is really an accomplished policy wonk. 

I’m betting that those emails will be filled with much technical analysis of the economic trends in Alaska, the United States, and the world.  I’m betting there will be back-and-forth on such macroeconomic issues as inflation/unemployment in terms of expectations-augmented Phillips curve equations, or how price and wage spirals relate to inflationary expectations. 

Stuff like that.

What? You don’t think so?  Have some faith. After all, she was the Republican VP nominee last time.  Jeeze.   

_________________________________

Finally, speaking of brilliant conservatives, there’s this report:

A new Tennessee law makes it a crime to “transmit or display an image” online that is likely to “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress” to someone who sees it. Violations can get you almost a year in jail time or up to $2500 in fines.

Get that? I guess I’m gonna have to stop sending this to my conservative Tennessee friends:

“Disguising Hate As Heritage”

I don’t know if Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell meant to insult black folks with his recent proclamation of April as “Confederate History Month.”  I only know that I’m predisposed to not trust a graduate of any school founded and associated with Pat Robertson, who would be a gold medalist, if espousing conspiracy theories were an Olympic sport.

Of course, I realize that’s the wrong way to judge someone, and just because Gov. McDonnell received his law degree from the former Christian Broadcasting Network University (now the low-ranking Regent University School of Law) doesn’t mean he isn’t a smart guy.  So, I’ll grant that he is a smart guy. 

But, then, that’s what makes his omission of slavery in the proclamation, and his subsequent apology, a little bit suspicious.

Jon Meacham in the New York Times recently examined the history of a “long and dispiriting tradition” of “efforts to rehabilitate the Southern rebellion,” and figures “Virginia’s neo-Confederates are refighting the Civil War in 2010.”

He continued:

Whitewashing the war is one way for the right — alienated, anxious and angry about the president, health care reform and all manner of threats, mostly imaginary — to express its unease with the Age of Obama, disguising hate as heritage.

Briefly citing the thread of white angst that runs through the history of the South, Meacham says,

…the enduring problem for neo-Confederates endures: anyone who seeks an Edenic Southern past in which the war was principally about states’ rights and not slavery is searching in vain, for the Confederacy and slavery are inextricably and forever linked.

I heard the other day, among others, Pat Buchanan, the conservative defender of white angst on the “liberal” MSNBC, try valiantly to separate the issue of slavery from the Civil War, as if slavery were merely background noise, too faint to be heard over the roar of Confederate canons as they were gallantly defending states’ rights and the right to sever ties with the Union.

But Meacham got it right by accusing “Lost Causers” of trying to “recast the war” in political, rather than moral, terms:

If the slaves are erased from the picture, then what took place between Sumter and Appomattox is not about the fate of human chattel, or a battle between good and evil. It is, instead, more of an ancestral skirmish in the Reagan revolution, a contest between big and small government.

These days, much white angst is hiding behind one side of such skirmishes, and smart politicians like Governor McDonnell, educated at a school founded by the king of conspiracists, know how to exploit that angst.

Christian Zealots Love Big Government

It’s funny how conservatives love to talk about free markets and less government—except when they wield power themselves.

The Texas State Board of Education, now mostly in the hands of Christian zealots, has made changes to curriculum standards that would ensure that our kids learn about “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s” but not about Thomas Jefferson’s influence on revolutionary thinking in his time and after—the New York Times points out that conservatives on the board dislike Jefferson’s coinage of the phrase, “separation between church and state.”

Thus, students can look forward to a paragraph or two each about “Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.”

No doubt, these “small government” conservatives suffered no cognitive dissonance when they made more than 100 changes to the 120-page curriculum standards originally proposed by real, honest-to-goodness teachers of history, sociology and economics.

Academia is skewed too far to the left,” according to Republican board member Don McLeroy via the Times.  Mr. McLeroy, whom the paper called the leader of the conservatives on the board, is a dentist, and, of course, that makes him an expert on academia. 

Or maybe it’s his position as fourth-grade Sunday school teacher at Grace Bible Church or his affiliation with the Boy Scouts that makes him qualified to judge whether the Founders really wanted a secular Republic or a theocracy that only Pat Robertson could love.

No. What makes him qualified is that he was duly elected—by the people—and he is a member of a government bureaucracy that conservatives say they loathe, except when they get their hands on it and in it.

Fortunately, the Times reports that the effect of this Texas nonsense on the rest of the country is not as onerous as it used to be:

…the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks. In the digital age, however, that influence has diminished as technological advances have made it possible for publishers to tailor books to individual states.

Thank dentist Don’s deity for that.

Two Kinds Of Cynicism

Surely, even the most calcified dittohead is awakening now to the fact that there is something seriously wrong with Rush Limbaugh.  Certainly, it is obvious that there is something flawed in his conception of politics, in his conception of patriotism, in his conception of America.  The pathological cynicism that runs through his being runs very deep.

Here at a time when most Americans are finding ways to come together to help our international neighbor; here at a time when political ideology naturally yields to common decency; here at a time when America’s power for good in the world is on full display; we have Rush Limbaugh—before an audience of millions—unashamedly using insensitive, hate-filled, racially-pregnant language to comment on the tragedy in Haiti.

This morning on his website one could find an advertisement for the Heritage Foundation, encouraging people to “Join the Conservative Comeback.”  Below that banner is the transcript of Rush’s pathetic monologue yesterday about President Obama’s quick response to the earthquake in Haiti:

RUSH:  Oh, this is what he lives for.  He lives for serving those in misery.  Now, don’t misunderstand here, folks.  I don’t have the whole press conference, but I wonder did he apologize for America before acknowledging we are the only people on earth that can possibly help ‘em out down there in any significant way? 

… Yes, I think in the Haiti earthquake, ladies and gentlemen — in the words of Rahm Emanuel — we have another crisis simply too good to waste.  This will play right into Obama’s hands. He’s humanitarian, compassionate.  They’ll use this to burnish their, shall we say, “credibility” with the black community — in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country.  It’s made-to-order for them.  That’s why he couldn’t wait to get out there, could not wait to get out there.

Although I refuse to believe it, if the American people want this kind of cynical conservatism to “come back,” then it will happen.  But to you dittoheads, make no mistake that when you hear your hero wax optimistic only about a “conservative” America or trumpet his peculiarly parochial patriotism, you are following the song of a frustrated, hyper-cynical, fair-weather patriot, whose love for his country is secondary to his love for himself and his ideologically-driven empire.

As for the disgusting and incorrigibly ignorant comments made by Pat Robertson, referencing a historical Haitian “pact with the devil,” the good “Reverend” is merely following the logic of his twisted theology, a theology with roots in the heads of ancient and ignorant men that has flowered in the age of television, supported by viewers who also hold a cynical view of the world, which according to them will end for billions of people in a bloody, God-directed holocaust.

Two kinds of cynicism, from two relatively popular figures in American culture.  It takes a special kind of optimism to see a silver lining behind such dark clouds.

The optimism that is America.

Gay Conservatives Want More Dick Cheney

Among the more perplexing terms, not to say oxymorons, in the world of politics is “gay conservative.”  I know they’re out there because Obama only got about 75% of the gay vote.  But in today’s GOP, just how does that work?

Reports are surfacing that Chris Barron, a former political director of the well-known gay conservative group, Log Cabin Republicans, hasn’t had enough of Dick Cheney.  He has begun the effort to “draft” Dick for the next presidential campaign cycle:

We hope that you will join our effort to convince former Vice President Richard Cheney to run for President of the United States in 2012. No other Republican leader has the stature or experience of Dick Cheney. He alone can lead the Republican coalition to victory in 2012!

And I thought Sarah Palin was a gift from God.

Barron, who says the 2012 race “will be about the heart and soul of the GOP,” is now affiliated with GOProud, yet another gay Republican organization, because apparently the Log Cabin Republicans just weren’t conservative enough for his tastes.

The mission statement for GOProud says the group is “committed to a traditional conservative agenda.”

Hmmm.  Someone needs to tell James Dobson  and Pat Robertson, who prefer the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” approach to conservatism, that gay Republicans are in their tent and consider themselves to be “traditional” conservatives. 

According to the CNN story, Barron says his Draft Cheney group will target Tea Party events. Tea Parties?  Out of respect for common decency, I will refrain from using tea bagger for the rest of this report.

Seriously, just how do conservative homosexuals, whose sexual orientation is sinful and abhorrent to masses of their political bedfellows, cope with such dissonance?  I bet those Values Voter Summits are a real hoot.

Anyway, back to Dick.  Apparently, gay conservatives aren’t the only ones hankering to put D.C. in D.C. in 2012.  CNN reported:

At an event in Houston for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who’s running for Texas governor, Hutchison was joined by Cheney, who endorsed her bid against fellow Republican incumbent Rick Perry. During the rally, Hutchison yelled out to the crowd “Cheney 2012!” and someone in the audience quickly responded “We need you, Dick!”

Indeed, we do.

Born-Again Christians Shouldn’t Drive

Globebloggers Johnny Kaje and Anson Burlingame have had a dispute over the issue of “faith is crap,” culminating in Anson blogging about it and Kaje writing a humorous piece about her trip to Springfield to the Skepticon II event.

All of which has made me think about one of the most bizarre beliefs in the fundamentalist world.  There are some weird and disturbing interpretations of the Bible, and then there is the doctrine of the Rapture.

For those of you out of tune with modern fundamentalism and evangelicalism, here is the Rapture in one sentence:  At some point in the future—usually in “our lifetime“—Jesus is going to return to the Earth to “gather” his born-again followers, who will be “taken up” into the air to be with him, leaving everyone else to fend for themselves in the dark days ahead, which Christians call the Tribulation.

Now, as bizarre as this seems, apparently more than 40% of all Americans believe in some version of it.  I don’t mean they believe in Jesus’ return in general (most Christians so believe), but in the specific idea of the Rapture, the one in which a car on I-44, full of people, could have its driver raptured into heavenly bliss while its other, less saintly passengers, would end up smashed against an oncoming big rig, the driver of which was also the recipient of a ticket to ride. 

So, what does this have to do with politics?  Well, I have suggested that some Republican candidates, like Mike Huckabee for instance, sometimes appear to be unable to make a distinction between American foreign policy and Israeli foreign policy, as when the Huckster visited Israel recently and criticized Obama’s position on Jewish settlements in occupied territory.

Since Huckabee is a born-again Christian who believes in the Bible as the Word of God, his biblical views obviously have some impact on his political views and thus on his political decisions, particularly involving the Middle East.  And so do the biblical views of millions upon millions of other Americans.

As Sam Harris put it:

It really is not an exaggeration to say that some significant percentage of the American electorate, which if they turned on their television today and saw that a mushroom cloud had replaced Jerusalem, they would see a silver lining in that cloud.  In so far as people like that elect our presidents and congressmen and in so far as they get elected as presidents and congressmen, that’s a terribly dangerous state of affairs.

Dangerous, indeed. 

Just to remind you of how dangerous, here is a clip of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson—just two days after 9/11—discussing their religious view of America—again, one with which many Americans concur:

Now, that is why these bizarre beliefs must be challenged and ridiculed. 

Faith in a “higher being” is one thing, but specific beliefs that lead to the kind of reasoning employed by wildly popular evangelists like the late Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson is another.

UPDATE: 

Fox 31 TV in Denver posted a story on yet another right-wing Christian, this time a car dealer just outside of Denver, in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, who posted this billboard:  

A reporter for Fox 31 interviewed the car dealer:

“Since Fort Hood, I’ve had it,” owner Phil West* told FOX 31 News Friday. “You can’t suggest things. You can’t profile. You gotta call a spade a spade.”

“Everything I have read about Mr. Obama points right to the fact that he is a Muslim. And that is the agenda of what Muslim is all about. It’s about anti-American, it’s about anti-Christianity,” West said.

As I said, there are political implications of bizarre religious beliefs.  In fact, I’m surprised John Putnam, local birther, born-again Christian, and Captain of the Jasper County Morality Police, hasn’t erected such a sign on I-44.

*I believe the gentleman’s name is Phil Wolf.

Bow Out, Everyone

Drudge and Obama bowNo doubt, the right-wing will make much of Obama’s bow to the Japanese emperor.  And I will concede that the symbolism, in historical terms, is somewhat off-the-beaten-track for American presidents.

So, in a spirit of good will, I will stick my neck out and make a promise: I will write President Obama and ask him to stop showing respect for foreign leaders, when Republicans (and conservative Democrats) stop bowing to the Pope, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, and the corpse of Jerry Falwell by acceding to their demands regarding abortion rights.

In other words, when conservatives get off their knees and stop showing obeisance to religious authorities, then maybe Obama will get the message to keep himself upright.

Okay?

Even Muslims Are Presumed Innocent

One of the most difficult aspects of our legal system for people to understand is unfolding vis-à-vis the case of Nidal Hassan, alleged killer of 13 at Fort Hood.  Despite popular sentiment, someone has to represent Major Hassan, and for now it is Colonel John Galligan.

To most people, that word, “alleged” seems so inappropriate, so unnecessary, in this case.  Everyone it seems has not only tried and Pat Robertsonconvicted Major Hasan, but many on the right wing are now putting the U.S. Army on trial for the sin of “political correctness,” as Pat Robertson did recently, while also condemning Islam as a “violent political system.” (I’m sure the conservative religious broadcaster simply forgot his own religion’s bloody past.)

But while most of us cringe at the thought of placing Hasan’s actions in the subjunctive mood, the fact is that our system imputes innocence to those accused of crimes until they have been convicted via an impartial tribunal or accepted a plea agreement.  And in order to receive a fair shot at justice, Hasan needs a lawyer to represent him, and people must understand that defense attorneys provide an essential service in our legal system, which is why we can call it a “justice” system.

Having said that, it is wrong for people to blame lawyers like Colonel Gallligan for simply doing their jobs and making the justice system work, whether military or civilian. Wolf Blitzer, made a slight attempt yesterday to pander to popular opinion by saying to Galligan:

[People ask me] how could a retired U.S. military officer, a full colonel, go ahead and represent someone accused of mass murder?

Colonel Galligan did a nice job defending not just himself, but justice:  

Okie Biology, Texas Theology

I would be derelict in my blogging duties to not at least mention the silliness of Oklahoma state congressman Todd Thomsen last month.

Mr. Thomsen, who was first elected to the Oklahoma House in 2006 by a total of two votes, introduced legislation in the Oklahoma legislature opposing the “one-sided” teaching of evolution and the appearance at the University of Oklahoma of noted evolutionist, Richard Dawkins.

Dawkins’ real crime, of course, is that he doesn’t believe in God, which, apparently, is an offense worthy of legislative censure in Oklahoma, according to Mr. Thomsen. While he has every right to believe fantastic tales about our origins, Mr. Thomsen should exercise a little discipline over his unruly need to impose his beliefs on other, less gullible, Oklahomans, who may want to avoid the intellectual isolation of fundamentalist Christians.

Summing up this controversy in particular and the creationist movement in general, Dawkins said:

They’ve lost in the courts of law; they’ve long ago lost in the halls of science; and they continue to lose with every new piece of evidence in support of evolution. Taking offense is all they’ve got left. And the one thing you can be sure of is that they don’t actually know anything about what it is that they reject.

In another example of creationist dogma intersecting with state government, the Texas state board of education last month adopted what scientists are calling “flawed state science standards.” While apparently creationists on the board didn’t get everything they wanted, they did manage to amend the standards in such a way that they would “encourage” presentation of creationist claims that the complexity of the cell, the incompleteness of the fossil record, and uncertainties about the age of the universe are all reasons to doubt the theory of evolution.

A refreshing twist of electoral fate gives us this response from Obama’s official science advisor, John Holdren:

I think we need to be giving our kids a modern education in biology, and the underpinning of modern biology is evolution. And countervailing views that are not really science, if they are taught at all, should be taught in some other part of the curriculum.

Of course, Mr. Holdren only holds a PhD in plasma physics, a fact that probably disqualifies him from speaking authoritatively on biblical science, but I, at least, am encouraged that our new president will not be getting his science advice from James Dobson or Pat Robertson.

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