Cliven Bundy Just Put Away The Dog Whistle, That’s All

I don’t know, I really don’t know, what everybody is so upset about.

So Cliven Bundy said the following, via The New York Times:

I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

So what? Why are so many people, who jumped in bed with Cliven Bundy and began a rather lurid affair (Have a nice day, Senator Dean Heller!), now scurrying around looking for their clothes and the door? What is in Bundy’s racist remarks that hasn’t been endorsed, in one form or another, by any number of Republicans, especially during the 2012 presidential election? There are many examples to choose from, but I will give you only two.

Remember back in 2012 when two GOP presidential candidates—I said, presidential candidates, people!—Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, signed a “Marriage Vow” pledge that included the following as a preamble:

Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President, according to the document.

Translation from Cliven Bundy: “Are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things…?”

But we don’t have to go back to 2012, which featured Mitt Romney’s class warfare on the mooching 47%. His partner in that presidential run, Paul Ryan, recently made remarks that mirror Bundy’s comments about how blacks “never learned to pick cotton” because of all the government subsidies they enjoy. On right-wing Bill Bennet’s radio show Ryan said:

Bennett: You gave a talk about poverty, lifting people out of poverty. A great party has a plan to help people get out of poverty. What’s the plan? What are the broad outlines? What’s the roadmap, as someone might say?

Ryan: In a nutshell, work works. It’s all about getting people to work. And when you were one of the leaders of welfare reform in the late ‘90s, we got excoriated for saying you know what, as a condition of welfare, people should go to work and it should be a bridge, not a permanent system. And it worked very well, but there were dozens of other welfare programs that did not get reformed that have sort of overtaken events and have now made it harder for people to get into work. We call it a poverty trap. There are incentives not to work and to stay where you are; that’s not what we want in society. 

And later he told Bennett:

Ryan: And so, that’s this tailspin or spiral that we’re looking at in our communities. You know your buddy (conservative scholar) Charles Murray or (public policy professor) Bob Putnam over at Harvard, those guys have written books on this, which is we have got this tailspin of culture in our inner cities, in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work; and so there’s a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with. 

The only difference, to my ears, from what Ryan said and what Bundy said is that Ryan was careful to substitute “inner cities” for “Negroes.” The rest of it is essentially the same idea: if you don’t make black people work by threatening to starve them to death, then what will happen is that all the older blacks will sit on the porch and count their food stamps, while their young girls get pregnant and then get abortions and their young boys commit crimes and end up in jail.

So, let’s get off Cliven Bundy’s racist ass and congratulate him for saying plainly what many, many Republicans have been saying in code for so long.

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Sometimes Liberals Overreact Too, And Miss The Real Problem

So, I tune in to HuffPo today and on its famously sensationalistic front page I find this:

richard cohen headerWow! I thought. Who the heck did that at The Washington Post? So, I clicked on the link and found this headline:

Richard Cohen Writes Yet Another Racist Column

Dammit, Richard! Can’t you behave? Didn’t you learn anything the last time, and the time before that? Liberals are very sensitive about such things and you should know better.

Because I don’t often read Cohen’s columns, I thought I would at least pay him the courtesy of reading his “racist column,” before I pronounced him a racist. That’s fair, isn’t it? I mean, even though the mothership of left-leaning news and opinion aggregators has pronounced him a bad guy, I want to be fair and see why that is. I’m funny that way.

It took me only one sentence to find out how HuffPo missed the boat on Cohen’s column. The most offensive thing in the piece had to be the parenthetical in the opening sentence:

The day after Chris Christie, the cuddly moderate conservative, won a landslide reelection as the Republican governor of Democratic New Jersey, I took the Internet Express out to Iowa, surveying its various newspapers, blogs and such to see how he might do in the GOP caucuses, won last time by Rick Santorum, neither cuddly nor moderate.

Chris Christie is a “cuddly moderate conservative”? Are you kidding me? Can you see how awesomely awful that description is? There’s not really much of anything cuddly or moderate about Christie’s ideology, as we have previously discussed on this blog, but compared to a non-cuddly and non-moderate nut like Rick Santorum, he looks that way to some observers. I sort of understand the reason for that spasm of false relativity among straight news reporters—they like the guy a lot—but for left-leaning columnists, calling Christie a moderate conservative represents an unacceptably distorted view of the landscape.

Just because the right-wing of the Republican Party is moving further and further into both absurdity and obscurity, doesn’t mean that rigid conservatives like Chris Christie get to be called “moderate.” I’ve also recently heard people refer to Ronald Reagan as a moderate conservative, a description that is also false. Trust The Erstwhile Conservative on this one, richard cohenbut as one of the Gipper’s biggest fans in the old days, I didn’t cheer him on because he was a moderate. Just the opposite. Even though he had to, of necessity, make deals with Democrats, he remained a die-hard conservative at heart. So, it’s just plain wrong to put the word moderate in the same sentence as either Reagan or Christie. And the editors of HuffPo, if they wanted to go after Cohen, should have criticized that gaffe.

But nope, the focus of the sensational headlines was Cohen’s alleged racism. Well, let’s take a look at the offending passage, cited in the HuffPo story (and, by now, widely excerpted and criticized all over the leftish sites):

Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled — about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.

These comments were labeled “incendiary” by HuffPo. Huh? Incendiary? Hardly. The worst thing about this paragraph, when it is read in the context of the entire column, is that he definitively, without any qualification, says, “Today’s GOP is not racist.” We know for a fact that some fraction of the GOP is racist, although no one thinks the entire party is. But that’s not the point. Some liberals, as far as I can tell, are calling Cohen a racist mostly because of his use of the phrase, “People with conventional views,” which, they say, is wrong because conventional views on interracial marriage have changed. The HuffPo piece cites a Gallup poll showing 87 percent approval for such marriages (30 years ago it was at 43 percent; 50 years ago it was less than 10 percent).

Now, I don’t see how misusing the term “conventional” makes one a racist, and even a cursory reading of the column should have made it clear to anyone that Cohen is attacking the Tea Party and its anachronistic views: “If this is the future of the GOP, then it’s in the past.” And Cohen ends his piece with some advice to Chris Christie about not becoming a Tea Party guy who could win the rabidly conservative Iowa caucuses because then the “Joisey” governor would become “anathema to the rest of us.”

There wasn’t a damn thing racist about Cohen’s column. Essentially he is discussing what I have often labeled “white cultural angst,” the feeling among conservative Christian palefaces that they are losing their traditional stranglehold on the country. When Cohen says these folks don’t much recognize the country these days, he’s right about that and he’s not a racist for saying so.

But even though there was no racism in the column, there was something very offensive about it, at least for anyone who has looked at Christie’s conservatism objectively, without comparing it to the worst elements of his party. The offense is in assuming that a President Christie would hold policy positions that would be all that different from your average teapartier. Besides Christie’s record, as evidence for my claim I submit to you the following famous quote uttered in 2011 at that annual gathering of wingnuts known as the Conservative Political Action Conference:

If we don’t run Chris Christie, Romney will be the nominee and we’ll lose.

That wasn’t some milquetoast moderate who said that. It was the female version of Rush Limbaugh, the mean-spirited, liberal-hating Ann Coulter. She later told Fox, her home away from home, “I don’t care if [Chris Christie] wants to run, his country needs him, it appears.”

That was in 2011. Now, I admit that it is hard to take Ann Coulter seriously as a pundit, but many right-wingers love her, which is why they have made her wealthy by buying her books, and why Fox frequently books her as a guest on TV and radio. Thus, she makes noise in the right’s echo chamber that some hear as music, even if it’s mostly chin music. In any case, Coulter’s love for Christie wasn’t just a whim in 2011. In May of this year—this year, after the 2012 Christie-Obama love fest that pissed off nearly every teapartier in the country—she had this exchange with Sean Hannity on the radio:

COULTER: I’ve told you before: I have eyes only for Chris Christie.

HANNITY: Your buddy Chris Christie is out there sucking up to Obama this week. Don’t defend him.

COULTER: There seems to be a concerted movement by both liberals and conservatives to lie about Christie and make him seem more liberal than he really is.

Ann Coulter may be a lot of things, a lot of unseemly things, but she knows that Chris Christie, should he get elected president, would favor the kind of conservatism that Ted Cruz would love, especially if Christie governed with a Republican House and Senate. Oh, I know that lately she has fallen out of love with the New Jersey governor (she tweeted in June, “@GovChristie’s dead to me”) and withdrawn her support, but to further prove my point, look who she supports now:

coulter on cruz

Case closed. If Ted Cruz and Chris Christie are both suitable candidates for a liberal-hater like Ann Coulter, then obviously there are no significant ideological differences between them. And if Richard Cohen deserves any criticism from the left for his recent column, it is for assuming Chris Christie is some kind of moderate conservative we can all live with.

Because a lot of folks would find it very hard to live under President Christie and a Tea Party-dominated House and Senate.

Blinded By The White As I Watched The Convention

“I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”

—Rick Santorum, January 1, 2012

kay, it took about a twelve pack, but I made it through the night watching the evening speeches at the Republican National Convention.

Hopefully, you all had better things to do than spend an evening gazing at a sea of white conservatives, listening to sometimes angry white speakers tell us that the Scary Negro in the White’s House is robbing all the nice, hard-working whites and giving the booty to other lazy, scary Negroes.

That, my friends, was the one coherent theme of the night, once you cleared away the fog.

I will offer up a few observations on what I saw, after John Boehner declared that President Obama should be tossed out of the White’s House Bar and Grill for, uh, offering health insurance to those who don’t have it, or something like that. It was that kind of night.

Chris Christie‘s delivery of the keynote speech was, I think a fair-minded observer would say, at best angry and at worst pissed off. As was noted by many a commentator, he spoke mostly about himself, which is probably why he was in such a foul mood.

He said, less than lovingly,

We are demanding that our leaders stop tearing each other down…

He said that just before he started tearing down Democrats.

Christie also said,

Our seniors are not selfish.

He better hope they are if he wants Republicans to win in November, since his party is selling its Medicare overhaul to them by assuring the geezers they won’t have to suffer its effects but their children and grandchildren will.

Ann Romney, God love her, did her best to tell us why Mittens was fit to be president and why he will work harder than any human being in the history of the planet to ensure that, well, that, uh, uh….I’ll have to go check the transcript on that one. I’m not exactly sure why she thinks Mittens ought to be president.

The various governors who spoke spent most of their time noting their personal economic achievements, which is funny since those achievements came under a president they claim is asphyxiating economic achievement. More tortuous Republican logic I suppose.

Rick Santorum‘s speech was very special. It was special in this sense: If an atheist wanted to advance incontrovertible evidence that there was no God, it might be the fact that Santorum managed to tell that fact-checked lie about Obama gutting welfare reform without being struck by a rather large and deadly bolt of heavenly lightning straight from the hand of the being who reportedly said,

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.

But—I am now speculating—that since Santorum was not fried by divine outrage, there must have been some Talmudic technicality employed here, like, say, that Barack Obama, not being born in America, is not really a “neighbor.” God, as we all know, is a stickler for technicalities like that.

In any case, my favorite, and I assert most representative speaker of the night, was someone named Janine Turner, an actress and “talk show host” I confess I had never heard of. Her presentation pretty much set the tone for this night at the convention, and it nicely sums up what most Republicans actually think about government and the president who leads it.

She began my evening of beer-enhanced entertainment with what can only be described as a call to arms, delivered in a very creepy manner. When a Republican begins an address with, “Hello my fellow patriots!” then you know Democrats are about to be assaulted with both barrels.

Ms. Turner commenced her attack on Democrats with a lie, the substance of which was repeated in some form or another by nearly every subsequent speaker and a lie that deserves some space to refute. First the lie:

Our Constitution guarantees us a republican form of government in Article 4, Section 4, but our liberal brethren, they don’t feel constrained by our Constitution—that’s convenient for them—by ignoring constitutional limits they do what ever they like, don’t they? Yes! Like grow the government to unbelievable and unsustainable heights and accumulate historic and catastrophic debt.

Now, I’m not exactly sure how high liberals would like to see government grow. It is entirely conceivable that they would like to see it grow to “unbelievable and unsustainable heights,” although Republicans have set a standard that Democrats will have a hard time surpassing.

But the problem for Ms. Turner’s thesis that liberals have accumulated “historic and catastrophic debt” and that they want a very tall and unsustainable government is that it so happens the very right-wing Washington Times, which I am sure is part of Janine Turner’s bathroom reading regimen, began a story in October of 2008 with this wonderful paragraph:

George W. Bush rode into Washington almost eight years ago astride the horse of smaller government. He will leave it this winter having overseen the biggest federal budget expansion since Franklin Delano Roosevelt seven decades ago.

Ouch!

The story goes on to note,

Mr. Bush already is the first president in history to implement budgets that crossed the $2 trillion a year and $3 trillion a year marks. His final budget, which comes to an end Sept. 30, conceivably could near $4 trillion, depending on the final tab for the financial rescue.

The Washington Times article also included this:

…federal budget numbers show spending under the Bush administration rose from 18.4 percent of GDP to 22.5 percent – a 4.1-point increase – and could end up even higher.

The only presidents to approach that level of growth were President Carter, who grew spending as a percentage of GDP by 1.5 points, and President Ford, who grew it by 1 point. Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Reagan and Clinton all decreased spending relative to the overall economy.

Measured in dollars, “Federal spending has grown twice as fast under President Bush as under President Clinton,” said Mr. Riedl of the Heritage Foundation.

Hmm. But there’s more:

As a result of all this spending, the country has gone from a $128 billion budget surplus when Mr. Bush took office to a deficit of at least $732 billion in fiscal 2009, according to OMB. The final 2009 deficit likely will be even higher.

Of course the deficit was higher—much higher—and it is that trillion-dollar-plus deficit that Mr. Obama inherited and with which we still live today, thanks largely to Republicans, who cut taxes and went on a spending binge.

So, that’s that.

But Ms. Turner’s real point—and the subtextual theme for the night—was yet to come:

Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Yes. But today Obama enabled an entitlement society that says, “Give me liberty and gimme gimme.” Why? Because Democrats depend on dependence. America was not born with a gimme-gimme mentality and American liberty cannot survive with a gimme-gimme mentality. America was built with her hands at work, not with her hands out…

Free enterprise has paved the way for Americans to earn their own success and it has created an America that has yielded an unprecedented level of progress. This progress has lifted up humanity to greater heights of living and a greater level of dignity. Mitt Romney will preserve this exceptional American legacy.

Barack Obama? Barack Obama will destroy it. Obama is stifling the American Dream primarily because it isn’t his dream. His dream is not of an independent people. His dream is of a dependent people based on the failed principles of antiquated government.

You see? Obama, the “food stamp president,” doesn’t dream the same kind of dream those white folks in that Tampa convention center dream. In fact, he not only doesn’t dream their dream—the American Dream—he is actively seeking to “destroy” their dream, to take what they have worked so hard for and give it to those lazy folks with their “gimme, gimme” hands out, their greedy, undeserving—and pigmented—hands.

Baptist Pastor, Schmuck

Theocrat Rick Santorum appeared in Baton Rouge at a taxpayer-subsidized church (exempt from federal income taxes and property taxes, which have to be made up elsewhere) and was introduced by a creepy pastor named Dennis Terry.

If you are having trouble understanding why Rick Santorum will never be president, your trouble will be over after you listen to Pastor Terry.

Try to listen to the entire three minutes, forty-one seconds of video posted below, chock-full of perspiring remarks from a fundamentalist fool. And remember that a goodly number of  your fellow Americans listen to pastors like this every week and your tax dollars are essentially supporting schmucks like him in a church or two near you.

Some highlights from the talk by Pastor Terry:

There’s only one God and his name is JEEEZZZUSSS!

Keep that in mind as you read the next selection:

If we’ll put God back in America, put God back in our pulpits, put God back in our homes, and in our statehouse, and then in Washington, D.C., then we can have revival in America and the Holy Spirit will show up and great and mighty things will happen for this country.

Question 1: If there is “only one God and his name is JEEEZZZUSSS,” then who is this Holy Spirit fella who comes on the scene after we put God back where he belongs?

Question 2: If God ain’t in America, ain’t in our pulpits, ain’t in our homes, ain’t in our state or federal capitals, then where the hell is he? Oh my God! Barack Obama has kidnapped him and is holding him in Kenya! Pray! Pray! Pray!

If you don’t love America, if you don’t like the way we do things, I got one thing to say: GET OUT!!!!

Question 1: What if you love America but don’t like the way we do things? Do you still have to GET OUT?

Question 2: What if you love America and like the way we do things but the reason you love America and like the way we do things is because you don’t have to GET OUT if you don’t?

We don’t worship Buddha! I said we don’t worship Buddha, we don’t worship Mohammed. We don’t worship Allah. We worship God. We worship God’s son, Jesus Christ.

Question 1: I wanna get this straight: Am I supposed to worship God or God’s son? Dang, this stuff is confusing.

Question 2: Can we make an exception for Mittens The Mormon?

As long as they continue to kill little babies in our mother’s womb (sic), somebody’s gotta take a stand and say, “It’s not right! God be merciful to us as a nation!”

Question 1: Who are “they”?

Question 2: So, let me see here. Somebody is killing “little babies” and all we need to do is stand up and shout, “It’s not right”? Shouldn’t we be, uh, blowin’ up stuff and shootin’ doctors or somethin’?

As long as sexual perversion is becoming normalized, somebody needs to stand up and say, “God forgive us, God have mercy upon us.”

Question 1: What if normalizing sexual perversion is God’s way of getting rid of it?

Question 2: Were you afraid of embarrassing Rick Santorum by just saying, GOD HATES FAGS?

Republican Lies In Triplicate

Apparently, Republican presidential campaign lies come in threes.

Rick Santorum said last night during his post-loss falsehood-fest in Michigan:

…we have a government that is crushing us every single day, with more taxes, more regulations, and the idea that they know better than you how to run your life.

Let’s count ‘em up: Obama’s government is crushing us with (1) more taxes (2) more regulations and (3) run-your-life superiority, a trifecta of untruths.

Mitt Romney said last night during his post-win lie-fest in Michigan, that Barack Obama,

put us on a path toward debt and deficits and decline.

Admittedly, Romney’s unholy trinity of falsehoods sounds good to Obama-hating ears, but the only way it could be true is if it were said about George W. Bush.

Romney engaged in another tall-tale threesome:

We’ve seen enough of this president over the last three years to know that we don’t need another five years of President Obama—he thinks he’s unchecked by the Constitution, he’s unresponsive to the will of our people, and in a second term he would be unrestrained by the demands of reelection. If there’s one thing we can’t afford, it’s four years of Barack Obama with nothing to answer to.

Let me reiterate: Obama (1) “he thinks he’s unchecked by the Constitution” (2) “he’s unresponsive to the will of our people” (3) “he would be unrestrained by the demands of reelection.”

Keep all that stuff in mind as you read on.

Remember the controversy at the end of last year over the National Defense Authorization Act and the provision that allows the indefinite military detention of terrorist suspects—including Americans?

For now, thanks to Obama—who did what he promised when he signed the bill—apparently there is at least some reason to relax, if only while Mr. Obama is in office:

WASHINGTON — The White House released rules Tuesday evening waiving the most controversial piece of the new military detention law, and exempting U.S. citizens, as well as other broad categories of suspected terrorists…

Naturally, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham (and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire) are not exactly excited about the waiver and the temporary protection of our civil liberties:

“We are particularly concerned that some of these regulations may contradict the intent of the detainee provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress last year.”

All three senators were adamant that all terrorism suspects — American citizens or otherwise — should be taken into military custody.

Now, what we have here is an Administration, headed by a man who is supposedly “crushing us every single day” and who “thinks he’s unchecked by the Constitution” and is “unresponsive to the will of our people,” trumping three Republican senators whose disregard for the Constitution and the will of the people may one day be legendary.

Mitt Is No Massachusetts Moderate

Everyone by now has heard that when he was asked if he followed NASCAR, Mitt Romney said:

Not as closely as some of the most ardent fans, but I have some great friends who are NASCAR team owners.

Now that, along with his comment that his wife drives “a couple of Cadillacs,” is how Romney appeals to everyday Joes (without the six-pack, since Mittens doesn’t drink). He may not take a lunch bucket to work, but he has some great friends who own lunch bucket factories.

While I know that no one is going to actually believe Mitt Romney is Joe the Plumber, what I fear may end up happening, particularly since Rick Santorum is hell-bent to run as an unelectable theocrat, is that Romney comes off looking like a political moderate. I heard him so referenced twice in one hour on Monday morning—on MSNBC!

Sure, compared to Santorum, he appears slightly more reasonable. And by slightly I mean, well, slightly. The difference between them is like the difference between a humid 100-degree day here in the Midwest and a humid 99-degree day. Both days make you miserable, and it would take a person with preternatural discernment to meaningfully distinguish the two.

The biggest difference is Romney’s unwillingness to openly discuss his fondness for policies inspired directly by his so-called Christian faith. And the reason for that is clear: he understands that a goodly number of GOP voters think he is only a “so-called” Christian, so why bring it up at all?

Other than the religious angle, there just isn’t that much to convincingly argue that Romney’s political philosophy is significantly less wacky than Santorum’s, especially since Mittens hasn’t gone out of his way to distance himself from Santorum’s journey into social-issue theocracy.

The truth is that Mitt Romney has somewhat clumsily adapted his politics to appeal to a very narrow range of voters in that orgy of absurdity known as the GOP primaries.  And I am convinced that he means it this time, even though he is having a hard time convincing a majority of right-wingers.

But I’m not the only one who believes that Romney’s heavy petting of the far right-wing of his party would result, should he be elected president, in policy children that only a teapartier could love.

None other than Ann Coulter, who is one of the most vile conservatives in the history of the breed, is a Romney enthusiast. She famously told Sean Hannity, a fellow vile conservative who refers to Mr. Obama as “the Anointed One“—without a peep of criticism from falsely pious Christians like Coulter—that she recently spoke to Romney at a fundraiser and said,

You owe me! And you’d better be as right-wing a President as I’m telling everybody you’re gonna be!

She told Hannity that Romney laughed and said, “Don’t worry.”

And if Ann Coulter isn’t worried, that means the rest of us should be.

Stomp The Roaches

Emerging from three days of near-isolation from politics, I woke up today to this:

And this:

And this:

You know, normally when you turn on the light the roaches scatter and head for the cover of darkness.  In this election cycle, the roaches of extremism, nesting in the brains of GOP candidates, not only don’t scatter when the lights come on, they send for their friends.

I have found quite disgusting most of what Republicans have said and done this campaign season, much of that disgust registered on this blog since campaigning began. But I don’t think I have been more disgusted by anything said so far as I am by the attacks on President Obama for trying to protect American soldiers, via his apology to the president of Afghanistan for inadvertently burning Qurans.

It is almost beyond words.  Hillary Clinton, our Secretary of State, apparently has learned diplomat-speak very well, since she totally understated the problem:

I find it somewhat troubling that our politics would inflame such a dangerous situation in Afghanistan.

Somewhat troubling“?  She finds it somewhat troubling that candidates for the highest office in our land would “inflame a dangerous situation“—thus putting our troops at even greater risk? Well, I find it somewhat troubling that we should use such mild language to call out Republicans for their cynical exploitation of this issue.

Obama is the Commander-in-Chief, for Allah’s sake. His responsibility in this matter is to do all he can to calm nerves and not expose our soldiers to even more danger than they already face. To criticize him for doing his job is really unbleepingbelievable.

When the roaches are out running around in the light, you don’t just find it “somewhat troubling.” You stomp your rhetorical foot on them—no, both rhetorical feet—crushing them, knowing that the uncomfortable crunch is the first step in stopping the infestation because, if you don’t do it now, they will simply go back to their conservative nests and breed more extremist ideas.

When Rick Santorum says, “I don’t believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute,” you don’t just find that “somewhat troubling” either.
We all should find that disturbing, frightening, terrifying.  And we should say so. Loudly. And often.

When Rick Santorum, playing to the weird crowd that makes up his base, says, “President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob,” he should be mocked endlessly, until his extremist ideas aren’t even comfortable nesting in the brain of the host.

Santorum said to Glenn Beck, the father of a lot of extremist roaches, the following:

I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely … The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country.

Now, what do you do with such fanaticism but crush it? What do you do with such zealotry but turn on the light and start stomping your feet?

Faith Without Republican Works Is Dead

But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

—James 2:20

You couldn’t turn on a cable channel on Tuesday without seeing it: Franklin Graham, Billy’s boy, famously exposing his oh-so-gentlemanly spiritual suspicion of President Obama on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

Graham, apparently God’s Prostestant arbiter of the Christian faith (the Pope has the rest covered), isn’t sure Obama is a Christian, but he is positive Rick Santorum is, and he thinks Newt Gingrich is, and as for Romney, well, he’s a Mormon, which is Christianity with a twist of lemon, and everybody knows that a Mormon lemon will ruin a good evangelical cocktail.

And while it is proper for journalists to expose Graham’s metaphysical booshwa and his bearing false witness against a Jesus Bro, who happens to be President of God’s Country, the truth is that this is not at all surprising.

There is only one brand of Christianity that evangelicals like Graham are obliged to acknowledge as genuine. And that is the kind that has an “R” after it, as in “Jesus (R-Heaven)”— Romney’s Savior’s I.D., bless his Mormon heart, might read: “Jesus (R-Kolob)”

Democrats cannot be Christians by contemporary evangelical standards, unless they change their views on, say, abortion and homosexuality and guns and, as has been the case lately, laissez-faire economics. Of course, if Democrats changed their views on all those things then they would be Republicans, and thus by default Christians. Get it?

It’s all so easy when you have G-O-P stamped on your forehead like a political Mark of the Beast.

Unable to confidently confirm Obama’s Christianity and “categorically deny” that the President is a Muslim, Graham said,

Islam has gotten a free pass under Obama.

Free pass? Yep, that’s right, and Mr. Graham can confirm his claim by strapping on an aqualung and visiting the bottom of the North Arabian Sea, where what’s left of Osama bin Laden rests courtesy of a free pass from Mr. Obama.

In any case, what may go unnoticed in Graham’s appearance on Morning Joe is his utterly contradictory definition of Christianity, which is a perfect example of what has bedeviled the Christian church since God first emailed parts of the New Testament to the Apostle Paul and James the Just.

Graham first defined Christianity this way:

A Christian is a person who believes that Jesus Christ is God’s son, who died on the cross for our sins, who God raised to life, and that if we put our faith and trust in him, then God will forgive us of our sins. Now, that’s the definition of a Christian.

Then later, responding to the skepticism of journalist John Heilemann, who offered to Graham’s face that the preacher was exhibiting an “amazing double standard” in regards to being certain that Rick Santorum was a Christian and uncertain that Obama was, Graham said,

You have to look at what a person does with his life. Anyone can say that he’s a Christian. You look at—do they live—where do they go and act?

And later,

…you have to go by what a person says and how they live their life and where they go to church. Are they faithful church goers? Or do they just go when the camera’s are on them? That sort of thing.

It’s the old “faith versus works” thing. If Obama says he has the faith, then having works to go with it becomes essential. And the works in this case are defined by mostly white guys with non-exotic names.

Now, it is true that Mr. Graham said, “Obama is a nice man…and his wife is a class act and their kids are classy; you can’t help but like them,” but it was clear that he realized he had dug himself a rather deep theological hole and he was attempting to climb out and hide the shovel before anyone noticed.

Look, I am sure that Franklin Graham is in his normal life a wonderful human being and an outstanding citizen.  But he, like most evangelical leaders, has so grafted his Christian faith on the Republican tree that he can’t help what happened to him on Morning Joe on Tuesday.

And what happened to him was an embarrassment not only to him, but to his father and his faith and his political party, and most important, to his country.

Why Ron Paul Is An Intellectual Drunk

I know Ron Paul will never sit in the White’s House as president, but just to demonstrate how indefensible is his weird brand of libertarian-conservatism, I direct you to an interview Candy Crowley did with Ron Paul on CNN’s State of the Union.

Here is the pertinent exchange and I have highlighted the parts that need further explanation:

CROWLEY: Let me ask you about a couple of your rivals. Rick Santorum has had quite a ride in the polls. Do you believe from what you see today that Rick Santorum can beat President Obama in November?

PAUL: Well, I don’t see how that’s possible. And this whole idea about that talking about the social issues and who is going to pay for birth control pills, I’m worried about undermining our civil liberties…he wants to, you know, control people’s social lives

CROWLEY: …certainly Rick Santorum is the one who has been in the forefront of some of this talk on social issues…Are you uncomfortable with this talk about social issues? Do you consider it a winning area for Republicans in November?

PAUL: No. I think it’s a losing position. I mean, I talk about it because I have a precise understanding of how difficult problems are to be solved. And they’re not to be at the national level.We’re not supposed to nationalize these problems. The founders were very clear that problems like this, if there needs to be legislation of sorts, the state has the right to write the legislation that they so choose. And that solves a lot of our problems…

Now, let’s get this straight:

Paul, a libertarian Republican, says he is “worried about undermining our civil liberties” because Santorum wants to “control people’s social lives.” And Paul says his “precise understanding” of problem-solving convinces him that they are not supposed to be solved at the “national level,” not supposed to be “nationalized,” that the states have “the right to write the legislation that they so choose.”

Okay, now that we understand what Paul is saying, we can look at how phony it all is. This man signed a “Personhood Pledge,” which commits him to,

supporting “the unalienable personhood of every American, from the moment of conception until natural death,” and with the Republican Party platform in affirming that I “support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and endorse legislation to make clear that the 14th Amendment protections apply to unborn children.”

The pledge also commits him to defending the following:

I believe that in order to properly protect the right to life of the vulnerable among us, every human being at every stage of development must be recognized as a person possessing the right to life in federal and state laws without exception and without compromise…

I oppose assisted suicide, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and procedures that intentionally destroy developing human beings.

I pledge to the American people that I will defend all innocent human life. Abortion and the intentional killing of an innocent human being are always wrong and should be prohibited.

Now, remember that this is the same man, Ron Paul the libertarian Republican, who is “worried about undermining our civil liberties,” and criticized Santorum for wanting to “control people’s social lives.” Yet there he is proclaiming that he will:

oppose a woman’s reproductive rights,

oppose an individual’s right to make an end-of-life decision,

oppose scientific research involving certain kinds of stem cells,

and essentially oppose in vitro fertilization, which sometimes involves destroying unused embryos. (The Catholic Church, by the way, officially opposes all forms of in vitro fertilization.)

It is true that Paul wrote an “addendum” to the Personhood Pledge, which he thought, I suppose, cleared up the matter for his fellow libertarians, who might be alarmed that he is pledging to do the same thing Rick Santorum wants to do (Santorum, as well as Gingrich, also signed the pledge).

But to show you how convoluted—and superficial—is his thinking, I will quote the relevant part in full:

A Human Life Amendment should do two things.  First, it should define life as beginning at conception and give the unborn the same protection all other human life enjoys.  Second, it must deal with the enforcement of the ruling much as any law against violence does – through state laws.

To summarize my views – I believe the federal government has a role to play.  I believe Roe v. Wade should be repealed.  I believe federal law should declare that life begins at conception. And I believe states should regulate the enforcement of this law, as they do other laws against violence.

I don’t see the value in setting up a federal police force on this issue any more than I do on other issues. The Fourteenth Amendment was never intended to cancel out the Tenth Amendment. This means that I can’t agree that the Fourteenth Amendment has a role to play here, or otherwise we would end up with a “Federal Department of Abortion.”  Does anyone believe that will help life?  We should allow our republican system of government to function as our Founders designed it to: protect rights at the federal level, enforce laws against violence at the state level.

Here we have Paul affirming his support for both a Human Life Amendment that gives “the unborn the same protection all other human life enjoys,” as well as a “federal law” declaring “life begins at conception.”

He also declares that although these two methods would impute personhood to a seconds-old product of conception, the enforcement of “any law against violence” should be left to the states and not the federal government. This is his way of preserving the Tenth Amendment, he believes.

But the problem here is obvious: What if, say, New York state decides not to enforce the federal law declaring life begins at conception? What if the citizens of that state wanted to keep abortion legal, as most certainly would happen?  Would a Justice Department run by a Paul Administration simply ignore such flouting of the law? Would a man who pledged that,

every human being at every stage of development must be recognized as a person possessing the right to life in federal and state laws without exception and without compromise…

not seek to at least enforce the “civil rights” of those human beings who were victims of violence in New York state? And let’s not mince words: “violence” would be murder under any interpretation of the law. Murder.

And if Paul were to successfully remove “abortion from the jurisdiction of the federal courts,” as he said he would do in his addendum, then what would be the meaning of any Human Life Amendment to the Constitution or any federal statute, if either could not be interpreted by federal courts and enforced by the federal government?

The truth is that Paul’s libertarian philosophy, mixed with his desire to annihilate reproductive rights, renders him intellectually drunk. He says, using capital letters:

We CAN both fight for life AND liberty.  We can remain true to our principle of following the Constitution while also fighting for our moral values.

No, you can’t, Mr. Paul. Sober up.

A Diabolical Conspiracy From The Mind of Rick Santorum

As a former evangelical Christian, all of the following sounded very familiar to me.  It is an excerpt (presented by Right Wing Watch) from an address given at Ave Maria University in 2008 by Rick Santorum, front-running candidate of the Republican Party for, gasp, the presidency of the United States.

The university’s website noted that Santorum’s speech,

shed light on the spiritual warfare manifested in politics, media, and culture.

Perhaps now we all can understand, after reading the following, why Santorum sincerely believes that federal and state involvement in education is “anachronistic,” that home-schooling the nation’s kids would be preferable to public schools.  Perhaps it is clear why Santorum so zealously opposes homosexuality and abortion and can obliquely indict the Christianity of President Obama or slyly compare him to Hitler.

I have exactly no doubt that Mr. Santorum, who has an outside chance of becoming the leader of the free world in the 21st century, believes every word of the following (corrected) transcript, which is very, very scary.

A helpful outline of the diabolical conspiracy that follows: The devil, a real person, first attacks academia, then the church, then culture, then politics and government. And the people, the “body politic” is next:

This is not a political war at all. This is not a cultural war. This is a spiritual war. And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies—Satan—would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country—the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age? There is no one else to go after other than the United States, and that’s been the case now for almost two hundred years, once America’s preeminence was sown by our great Founding Fathers.

He didn’t have much success in the early days. Our foundation was very strong, in fact, is very strong. But over time, that great, acidic quality of time corrodes away even the strongest foundations. And Satan has done so by attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that has so deeply rooted in the American tradition.

He was successful. He attacks all of us and he attacks all of our institutions. The place where he was, in my mind, the most successful and first successful was in academia. He understood pride of smart people. He attacked them at their weakest, that they were, in fact, smarter than everybody else and could come up with something new and different. Pursue new truths, deny the existence of truth, play with it because they’re smart. And so academia, a long time ago, fell.

And you say, well, “what could be the impact of academia falling?” Well, I would make the argument that the other structures that I’m going to talk about here had the roots of their destruction because of academia. Because what academia does is educate the elites in our society, educates the leaders in our society, particularly at the college level. And they were the first to fall.

And so what we saw, this domino effect, once the colleges fell and those who were being educated in our institutions, the next was the church.  Now, you’d say, well, “wait, the Catholic Church?” No. We all know that this country was founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic, but the Judeo-Christian ethic was a Protestant Judeo-Christian ethic. Sure the Catholics had some influence, but this was a Protestant country and the Protestant ethic, mainstream, mainline Protestantism, and of course we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it. So they attacked mainline Protestantism, they attacked the church, and what better way to go after smart people who also believe they’re pious than to use both vanity and pride to also go after the church.

After that, you start destroying the church and you start destroying academia, the culture is where their next success was. And I need not even go into the state of the popular culture today. But whether its sensuality or vanity of the famous in America, they are peacocks on display, and they have taken their poor behavior and made it fashionable. The corruption of culture, the corruption of manners, the corruption of decency is now on display, whether it’s the NBA or whether it’s a rock concert or whether it’s on a movie set.

The fourth, and this was harder—now, I know you’re going to challenge me on this one—but politics and government was the next to fall. You say, well, “You would think they would be the first to fall, as fallible as we are in politics,” but people in political life get elected by ordinary folks from lots of places all over the country, where the foundations of this country are still strong. And so while we may certainly have had examples, the body politic held up fairly well up until the last couple of decades. But it is falling too.

Greed, Evangelicals, And The Environment

You see we have a president, on the energy sector of our economy, who is doing everything possible—everything possible—to crush energy production in this country.”

Rick Santorum in Oklahoma City, February 9, 2012

From a report on Rick Santorum’s visit to Oklahoma City recently:

Santorum found a receptive crowd of nearly 1,000 people in an Oklahoma City hotel Thursday by giving an unflinching endorsement to hydraulic fracturing. That’s the controversial method for extracting natural gas using pressurized chemicals to break open gas-bearing rock.

Santorum says environmental concerns are unfounded. He called them “the new boogeyman” meant to scare the public.

Here is what led up to the boogeyman comments:

The left is always looking for a way to control you. They’re always trying to make you feel guilty so you’ll give them power so they can lord it over you…and they try to distort the truth…Now, they’re trying to do it again: hydrofracking.  Something like 800,000 wells have been hydrofracked in this country. And all of sudden since now we’ve seen natural gas prices go from thirteen bucks to two dollars and fifty cents, well now this is a problem.

And we have to have all sorts of government regulations now because of the threats of hydro—it’s the new bogeyman. It’s the new way to try to scare you…They’re preying on the northeast, saying, “Look what’s gonna happen, oooh, all this bad stuff’s gonna happen, we don’t know all these chemicals and all this stuff, what’s gonna happen.” Let me tell you what’s gonna happen: nothing’s gonna happen (loud cheers).

But they will use this to raise money for radical environmental groups who then go out and continue to try to pervade their reign of environmental terror on the United States of America.  We will stand up for the truth. We will stand up for making sure that we drill and that we keep those energy prices low…

I quoted all that because it is important to keep in mind just how reactionary Santorum’s (as well as the rest of the Republican presidential field) views are on the environment, and because it reminded me of a book I read many years ago, while still an evangelical Christian.

The book, written by the late evangelical guru of the Religious Right, Francis Schaeffer (and he remains a guru as far as his stance on abortion is concerned), was titled, Pollution and the Death of Man: The Christian View of Ecology.

Oddly, or maybe not so oddly given what evangelical Christianity has become, I never heard one sermon or one Sunday school lesson in my long evangelical life based on Schaeffer’s environmental views,
but I did hear a lot of talk about his anti-abortion views. And for good reason: his views on the environment would not pass orthodox muster in the man-has-dominion-over-the-earth, pro-business Republican, evangelical church today, as you will soon see.

But he did state the problem very concisely:

The simple fact is that if man is not able to solve his ecological problems, then man’s resources are going to die.

Schaeffer’s solution to those ecological problems began with what he considered a proper view of man’s status:

Man was given dominion over creation. This is true…but as a fallen creature he has used that dominion wrongly. Because he is fallen, he exploits created things as though they were nothing in themselves, and as though he has an autonomous right to them.

What has brought about the ugly destruction of the environment?” asks Schaeffer. “There is one reason: man’s greed.”  He continues:

It is always true that if you treat the land properly, you have to make two choices. The first is in the area of economics. It costs more money, at least at first, to treat the land well…

The second choice that is involved is that it usually takes longer to treat the land properly. These are the two factors that lead to the destruction of our environment: money and time — or to say it another way, greed and haste. The question is, or seems to be, are we going to have an immediate profit and an immediate saving of time, or are we going to do what we really should do as God’s children?

Now, it is impossible to imagine hearing Rick Santorum or any other contemporary conservative Republican talking like that. Nor is it possible to imagine them saying anything like the following, as Schaeffer pressed his point:

What we, the Christian community, have to do is to refuse men the right to ravish our land, just as we refuse them the right to ravish our women; to insist that somebody accepts a little less profit by not exploiting nature.

Compare that to what Santorum—the hope of evangelical America—said in Oklahoma City ten days or so ago:

We will stand up for the truth. We will stand up for making sure that we drill and that we keep those energy prices low…

Victim of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the surf at East Grand Terre Island, Louisiana.

[Photo taken by Charlie Riedel of the Associated Press]

Theology On The Brain

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.”

—Romans 8:22

Because Rick Santorum has religion on his brain, apparently full time now, he says strange and, if you don’t mind, unchristianly, things about a fellow Christian, who happens to be President of the United States and, of course, only “says he’s a Christian.

He told a crowd of teapartiers about Mr. Obama’s motives:

It’s not about you. It’s not about your quality of life. It’s not about your jobs. It’s about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible—a different theology.

Saint Santorum said later:

He is imposing his values on the Christian church. He can categorize those values anyway he wants. I’m not going to.

And then he responded on Sunday’s Face the Nation, after Bob Schieffer played the “phony theology” quote:

BOB SCHIEFFER: So, Senator, I’ve got to ask you. What– what in the world were you talking about, Sir?

RICK SANTORUM: Well, I was talking about the– the radical environmentalists. That’s why I was talking about energy, this– this idea that– that man is– is not– is here to serve the Earth as opposed to husband its resources and be good stewards of the Earth. And I think that is a– a– is a phony ideal. I don’t believe that that’s what– that’s what we’re here to do. That– we– that– that man is here to– to use the resources and use them wisely, to care for the Earth, to be a steward of the Earth. But we’re not here to serve the Earth. The Earth is not the objective. Man is the objective. And– and I think a lot of radical– a– a– a lot of radical environmentalists have it upside down.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, how does that translate into some sort of theology that the President’s theology–

RICK SANTORUM (voice overlapping): Well, it’s– it’s a world view.

BOB SCHIEFFER: –is not based on the Bible. I mean that suggests that he’s not a Christian.

RICK SANTORUM: No, I wasn’t suggesting that President’s not a Christian. I accept the fact that the President is a Christian. I– I just said that when you have a– a– a world view that– that elevates the Earth above man and– and– and says that, you know, we can’t take those resources because we’re going to harm the Earth by– by things that are– that– that frankly are just not scientifically proven, for example, that politicization of the whole global warming debate, I mean, this is just all– all– all an attempt to, you know, to centralize power and to give more power to the government. And– and it’s not questioning the President’s beliefs in– in Christianity. I’m talking about, you know, his– the– the belief that– that man is– should be in charge of the earth and should have–

BOB SCHIEFFER (voice overlapping): No, but once–

RICK SANTORUM: –dominion over it and should be good stewards of it.

BOB SCHIEFFER: I– I don’t want to just spend the whole program on this, but was your–

RICK SANTORUM (voice overlapping): Good.

BOB SCHIEFFER: –use of the word theology, perhaps, you could have had a better word than that? I mean, don’t you know that– that–

RICK SANTORUM (voice overlapping): It–

BOB SCHIEFFER: –or do you wonder that– that might lead some people to suggest that you were questioning the President’s faith?

RICK SANTORUM: Well– no, because I’ve repeatedly said I don’t question the President’s faith. I’ve– I’ve repeatedly said that I believe the President is a Christian. He says he is a Christian. But I’m talking about his world view or his– the– the way he approaches problems in this country and I think they’re– they’re different than how most people do in America.

I presented the entire conversation just to demonstrate how an extremist interpretation of religion has infected Santorum’s brain.

So, let’s see how this works:

♦ Obama’s brand of environmentalism, which is simply that mankind should not go about fouling up posterity’s home unnecessarily, is a “phony theology.”

♦ But Santorum’s brand—”the Earth is not the objective. Man is the objective“—is the real theology, apparently the proper Christian theology.

So, let’s follow the two theologies to their proper conclusion:

♦ Obama’s theology leads to an earth that is habitable in some distant future.

♦ Santorum’s theology, to the extent it has any intellectual coherence, leads to an earth that will not be happily habitable in some distant future.

Now, which one has the most godly theology?

The obvious truth is this: Obama’s environmentalism, which is centrist in every way, is not theological but rational, not short-sighted but cognizant of our obligations to those who come after us.

But Santorum’s environmentalism is indeed theological. It comes straight from the pages of Genesis:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Apparently, Santorum’s theology includes no limits on “drill, baby, drill” and “burn, baby, burn.” If it does include limits, then how does it differ so radically from Mr. Obama’s?

Thus, apparently in any dispute between man and the earth—like, for instance, the effect fossil fuels are having on global temperatures—Santorum sides with the short-term interests of mankind and against the long-term interest of the earth, which, of course, ultimately means against the interests of future earthlings.

And if this particular theological view should ever prevail, those future earthlings will have to figure out how to live on a planet that has been governed by the religious zealotry of folks like Rick Santorum.

A Lesson In Tolerance

A weird conversation took place on Morning Joe this morning about Rick Santorum’s extreme position on contraception—Santorum is famously against it essentially because he believes sex should be about the begetting not the buzz.

Conservative Joe Scarborough actually played the role of sensible commentator, suggesting that Santorum’s position was way outside the mainstream, and sidekick Mika Brzezinski decided to wander off to the right of Scarborough and defended the extremism of the GOP’s current frontrunner.

After playing a couple of clips of Santorum expressing his fifth-century opinions on the matter—the most recent clip coming from last year—Brzezinski, a Catholic like Santorum, was asked about his views. She replied:

I just don’t think there is anything wrong with believing that. I really don’t.  I don’t think that means he’s gonna ban birth control across the board. Those are his personal beliefs. And I think as a father and a man who has held public office, he’s lived up to them, it appears, which makes it interesting for the conversation and it’s a conversation every family should have about birth control and its role in society with their own kids.

He’s got his own and he stands by them and I think he’s an interesting part of the national conversation in terms of where our society is going. And there is a lot of risky behavior that happens to be connected to birth control. But there’s a whole other side to this conversation and not once did I say, “should it be banned?” or “should it not be covered by health insurance?” but I think it’s okay to have those beliefs and those concerns.

At first hearing, one might think Brzezinski sounds reasonable. Santorum is, indeed, entitled  to his beliefs on contraception and in a strange and limited sort of way is to be respected, if he (with the consent of his wife) lives by them. But the real question is not Santorum’s fealty to his extreme doctrines, but the doctrines themselves.

Just to illustrate, let’s look at a different kind of belief that I think it is fair to say that nearly all Americans would find repulsive:

Imagine if there were a presidential candidate today saying that he personally follows the teachings of his church, especially that African-Americans should not be able to marry white Americans because their “dark skin” is a “curse,” since God chose to put them on the earth “in the lineage of Cain.”

Such a candidate might express agreement with a prominent leader of his church that “the Negro seeks absorption with the white race,” and “he will not be satisfied until he achieves it.”

And such a candidate might agree with that same church leader when he said he “would be willing to let every Negro drive a Cadillac if they could afford it,” but that they should “enjoy these among themselves.”

Now imagine if there were a video clip of this candidate saying,

I think the Lord segregated the Negro and who is man to change it?

With all that in mind, let’s go back to Morning Joe and Mika Brzezinski. Of such beliefs would she say,

I just don’t think there is anything wrong with believing that. I really don’t.  I don’t think that means he’s gonna ban interracial marriage across the board. Those are his personal beliefs.

Would she say that on television and expect her career to survive?

Or would she say,

I think he’s an interesting part of the national conversation in terms of where our society is going.

Of course she wouldn’t. Not in a million years.

But perhaps because she is a Catholic, or simply because she has some other reason to believe that birth control is somehow “cursed,” in terms of what perceived negative effects it has on society, she feels no social discomfort in stating that Santorum’s antiquated, offensive, and socially perilous views present “a whole other side to this conversation.”

Perhaps the day will come when Santorum’s extremist views on contraception will be as socially unacceptable to defend as the views of my imaginary candidate’s views are today. But obviously we have a long way to go.

Finally, and for the record, my imaginary candidate’s opinions were based on the teachings of an honest-to-goodness, high-ranking apostle of the Mormon Church, Mark E. Petersen, who expressed his beliefs in a speech in 1954, “Race Problems—As they Affect The Church.”

That such abhorrent ideas, expressed not that long ago, are no longer prevalent in civil society is because people of all races began to push back against them and ridicule them, not politely welcome their promotion, or in Brzezinski’s language, deem them an “interesting part of the national conversation.”

_________________________

Here are the two Santorum clips played this morning on Morning Joe followed by Mike Barnicle’s and Mika Brzezinski’s comments:

The Fall Of Mittens And The Rise Of, Uh, Santorum?

One of my favorite pundits in Pundikistan is Ezra Klein.

Last night, filling in for St. Rachel Maddow, Klein got all wobbly about the inevitability of Mitt Romney as the eventual GOP nominee. He has been a steadfast claimant that the other candidates opposing Romney are pretenders, with no real chance to beat him. Klein’s argument, accompanied by the following image, makes sense. There is real dissatisfaction among independents with the Romney brand:

Granted, Mittens has been a weird candidate, mostly afraid to talk about two things that have served him well in his life: religion and money.  He has lately taken to bringing up these handicaps/attributes, but maybe it is too late.

Maybe his authenticity has taken too many blows, what with the Gingrich attacks on his fondness for and enrichment by practicing predatory capitalism, and with Santorum’s slightly more subtle, but perhaps more effective, attacks on his once-palpable political moderation.

I have predicted for months now that Romney will be the Republican nominee, and I still think the best bet is on him, but there won’t be anyone in the country who would be more glad to see a Santorum nomination than I.

From the moment he stepped foot in the United States Senate, this extremist former senator has attempted to fashion America in the image of his ancient theological views, and if the contrast is between him and a much more restrained and modest and modern Christian like President Obama, then let’s get on with it.

Santorum successfully added an amendment to the No Child Left Behind bill in 2001 that would have allowed the teaching of a kind of creationism—intelligent design—in the public schools. Fortunately, his amendment was jettisoned during the conference between the House and Senate.

For obvious political reasons, he later distanced himself from the religiously motivated movement to get creationism in the schools via so-called intelligent design, but last year I saw him on Chris Matthews’ show and he, like most conservative Christians, could not bring himself to embrace modern science:

I believe that we are created by a living, loving God…for evolution to explain the creation of the human species from nothing to human beings, absolutely not I don’t believe in that.

Okay, that’s not so bad I suppose for a Republican candidate, or even a Democratic one. There are a lot of folks who agree with him. But it is his sincere and fanatical embrace of a full-throated theological conservatism, tainted by homophobia and a strange disdain for contraception, that will be his undoing, should he upset Romney.

Consider the following, from The Seattle Times on Monday:

OLYMPIA — Within an hour of Gov. Chris Gregoire signing a same-sex-marriage bill into law Monday, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum was meeting with a group of gay-marriage foes at a church minutes away, offering a message of support for their efforts to repeal the law.

The paper reported on the closed-door meeting of “more than 100 pastors and other ‘values voters‘” this way:

“I told them to keep up the fight, that this is an important issue for our families; it is an important issue for religious liberty,” the former Pennsylvania senator said of his meeting with church leaders, during a news conference Monday afternoon.

Arthur Banks, pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Tacoma, said he appreciated Santorum’s visit and that the group was determined “to stand for right and righteousness against what we feel is an injustice because God’s word speaks against it — same-sex marriages.”

You see, that stand for “right and righteousness” and “God’s word” is what Santorum is tapping into on the extreme right-wing—really, the only wing that now matters—of his party. And while that may give him an outside chance of wresting the nomination from Mittens’ hands, it will only serve the interests of President Obama, who by contrast appears, in his execution of public policy, sober and sane and comfortingly secular.

President Obama Is Leading Us To The Guillotine

There is something about Texas that brings out the extreme in extremist politicians, or perhaps some extremist politicians, like Rick Santorum, don’t really need any help.

Santorum sports a cow boy hat during a rallly in Plano, TX (FOX Photo).But in Plano, Texas, out from Santorum’s fanatical mouth came some of the most contemptible and loathsome comments about President Obama that I have heard, this side of talk radio. Here’s how the fanatical Fox “News” reported it:

The crowd of close to two thousand supporters here went into a frenzy as Santorum unleashed a blistering attack on President Obama.

“Barack Obama has systematically, in every single way, tried to destroy the very foundational elements of our county,” Santorum charged.

“President Obama does not believe in free people and free markets going out and providing for themselves, he doesn’t believe that people who go out and succeed greatly in America are an asset to America. They are someone to be targeted and ridiculed and taxed, because obviously they have built their wealth on the backs of others. That’s Barack Obama’s America. It is fundamentally un-American the way he looks at our economy.”

Here’s how CNN reported part of what he said, which I heard this morning:

Perhaps his most protracted criticism was pegged to a recent decision by the 9th Circuit Court to overturn California’s ban on same-sex marriages. Santorum said that this decision was one more step in the left’s war on religion – a war that could ultimately end with the guillotine.

“They are taking faith and crushing it,” he said. “Why? When you marginalize faith in America, when you remove the pillar of God given rights, then what’s left is the French Revolution. What’s left is a government that gives you rights. What’s left are no inalienable rights. What’s left is a government that will tell you who you are, what you do and when you’ll do it. What’s left in France became the guillotine. Ladies and gentleman, we’re a long way from that, but if we do and follow the path of President Obama and his overt hostility to faith in America, then we are heading down that road.”

In a better world, in a world where our politics wasn’t infected by right-wing hysteria and irrationality, responsible Republicans would condemn this disturbed and disturbing rhetoric. They would assert that although they had important political differences with the President of the United States, they do not think he is “un-American” in any way; that he is not removing “the pillar of God given rights“; that he is not some modern day Robespierre about to unleash a Reign of Terror.

But no, we live in a world where the Republican Party has been overcome by zealots with a fierce and fanatical devotion to a scorched-earth politics that will not tolerate any vision of America large enough to include Democrats, especially that Democrat in the White’s House with an exotic name, a shadowy background, and a troubling pigmentation.

[FOX photo of Santorum]

Romney’s Health Problem

I said I would get to the exchange between Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney regarding “Romneycare” because I believe it demonstrates Romney’s weakness on the issue not just in the GOP primary (which he will overcome) but in the general election (which hopefully he will not).

Santorum has often attacked both Gingrich and Romney on this issue—which pleases the Obama camp—but never as effectively (albeit dishonestly) as he did during Thursdays CNN GOP debate:

SANTORUM: Governor Romney was the author of Romneycare, which is a top- down government-run health care system which… has 15 different items directly in common with Obamacare…that government is going to mandate you buy something… mandate that you buy an insurance policy, something that Governor Romney agreed to at the state level…Something that everyone now, at least up on this stage, says is radically unconstitutional…

Santorum went on to describe what he believes are problems with the health care law in Massachusetts including higher health care costs and increased waiting times and a lack of sufficient care for some.

Now, this puts Romney in a difficult position.  He has two options:

1. Admit his plan in Massachusetts is a failure and repent.

2. Dispute Santorum’s contentions and defend his plan.

If he takes the first path, he thus admits his largest accomplishment as governor was a complete failure that ultimately has led to another disaster at the federal level, which conservatives keep telling us is coming.  It would be hard to tell folks in the general election that they should elect you as president when you have admitted to such a colossal blunder.

If he takes the second path, he is essentially defending the Affordable Care Act, along with its controversial mandate. And he will thus in the general election lose any persuasive force in advocating for its repeal, which, according to conservative-oriented pollster Rasmussen, just slightly over half of likely voters favor.

And it is hard to see how Romney can convincingly make repealing the law the “cornerstone” of a general election campaign, which well-financed groups like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads PAC will demand.

So, what does Mitt do in the face of fierce criticism from Santorum? Well, he tried at first to have it both ways, as usual:

ROMNEY: Our system has a lot of flaws, a lot of things I’d do differently. It has a lot of benefits. The people of the state like it by about three to one.

Flaws? The Massachusetts system has flaws? What are they? What would Romney do differently? I have never heard him answer those questions.  He goes on:

ROMNEY: We consider it very different than Obamacare. If I were president, day one I will take action to repeal Obamacare. It’s bad medicine. It’s bad economy. I’ll repeal it. (APPLAUSE)

And I believe the people — I believe the people of each state should be able to craft programs that they feel are best for their people. I think ours is working pretty well. If I were governor, it would work a heck of a lot better.

Clearly Romney has committed to the second option: He is defending his plan. But Santorum is not finished:

SANTORUM: What Governor Romney just said is that government-run top-down medicine is working pretty well in Massachusetts and he supports it. Now, think about what that means –

ROMNEY: That’s not what I said.

SANTORUM: — going up against Barack Obama, who you are going to claim, well, top-down government-run medicine on the federal level doesn’t work and we should repeal it. And he’s going to say, wait a minute, Governor. You just said that top-down government-run medicine in Massachusetts works well.

This is Santorum’s strongest moment. But Mitt’s not finished:

ROMNEY: Rick, I make enough mistakes in what I say, not for you to add more mistakes to what I say. I didn’t say I’m in favor of top-down government-run health care; 92 percent of the people in my state had insurance before our plan went in place. And nothing changes for them. They own the same private insurance they had before.

And for the 8 percent of people who didn’t have insurance, we said to them, if you can afford insurance, buy it yourself, any one of the plans out there, you can choose any plan. There’s no government plan.

And if you don’t want to buy insurance, then you have to help pay for the cost of the state picking up your bill, because under federal law if someone doesn’t have insurance, then we have to care for them in the hospitals, give them free care. So we said, no more, no more free riders. We are insisting on personal responsibility.

Either get the insurance or help pay for your care. And that was the conclusion that we reached.

Uh-oh. Santorum just forced Romney into defending not only the concept behind the Affordable Care Act, but he forced Romney into making a very convincing case for the dreaded mandate to purchase health care insurance!  Obama couldn’t have done a better job himself.

Santorum realizes this and wants to make sure everyone understands what Romney has done:

SANTORUM: Does everybody in Massachusetts have a requirement to buy health care?

ROMNEY: Everyone has a requirement to either buy it or pay the state for the cost of providing them free care. Because the idea of people getting something for free when they could afford to care for themselves is something that we decided in our state was not a good idea…

SANTORUM: Just so I understand this, in Massachusetts, everybody is mandated as a condition of breathing in Massachusetts, to buy health insurance, and if you don’t, and if you don’t, you have to pay a fine.  What has happened in Massachusetts is that people are now paying the fine because health insurance is so expensive. And you have a pre-existing condition clause in yours, just like Barack Obama.

So what is happening in Massachusetts, the people that Governor Romney said he wanted to go after, the people that were free-riding, free ridership has gone up five-fold in Massachusetts… Why? Because people are ready to pay a cheaper fine and then be able to sign up to insurance, which are now guaranteed under “Romney-care,” than pay high cost insurance, which is what has happened as a result of “Romney-care.”

You can sense at this point that Romney realizes his predicament and comes back with this:

ROMNEY: First of all, it’s not worth getting angry about…(APPLAUSE)

Oh, Santorum wasn’t angry, he was just excited because he had drawn blood. Romney goes on to explain that it “is simply impossible” for there to be an increase in people “free-riding the system,” and then he begins to lie about Obama’s plan and ends with assuring the audience that he will repeal it.

Santorum won’t let it end, though, without having the last word:

SANTORUM: Wolf, what Governor Romney said is just factually incorrect. Your mandate is no different than Barack Obama’s mandate. It is the same mandate. He takes over…(APPLAUSE) You take over 100 percent, just like he takes over 100 percent, requires the mandate. The same fines that you put in place in Massachusetts are fines that he puts in place in the federal level. Same programs.

Remarks And Asides

I’m not going to mention Mitt Romney’s tax returns or his enormous wealth or the fact that he is making Albert Pujols money without driving in a single run. I think the unemployed candidate has suffered enough. I mean, he’s already had to close his Swiss bank account, for God’s sake.

And now that we know he is a stockholder in Fannie and Freddie, he’ll have hell to pay from Freddie’s one-time lobbyist influence peddler historian lover Newt Gingrich.

___________________________

I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more. I don’t think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes,” said Mitt during last night’s debate.

No siree! Mitt’s not going to give and extra dollar to the country he loves, as some of it might end up supporting the troops, who will be expected to give the last full measure of devotion so Mitt can look tough when he gets in the White’s House.

____________________________

Also during the debate, Mitt revealed his extraordinary clever and evolving immigration plan—those non-law-abiding folks will simply engage in “self-deportation.” Next up, Mitt’s plan to curb crime: Elect him president and folks will simply stumble down to the Mayberry jail, like a bunch of civic-minded Otis Campbells, and lock themselves up! Why didn’t Obama think of that one!

____________________________

Stand-up comedian and presidential candidate Newt Gingrich complained about not having the crowd into his performance last night on NBC. He said he won’t do any more shows unless the audience is allowed to boo and cheer at all the wrong times.

____________________________

Naturally, Newt blamed the media for stepping on his shtick:

We’re going to serve notice on future debates. The media doesn’t control free speech. People ought to be allowed to applaud if they want to.

The media doesn’t control free speech“? Is Newt calling for a government takeover of the press? If he starts with Fox, I’m all in!

_____________________________

Oliver Stone, moviemaker and conspiracy peddler, has said he would support Ron Paul over President Obama. Makes perfect sense to me.

_____________________________

This is what R.E.S.P.E.C.T. means to some members of the Republican Party:

Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., said on Monday he is boycotting President Obama’s State of the Union address.

In a tersely worded statement released by his office, Lamborn said he decided instead “to pass” on attending the speech on Tuesday night, though he will watch it on television and participate in a live chat hosted by Heritage Action for America.

“Congressman Lamborn does not support the policies of Barack Obama,” the statement said.

The statement also said:

Congressman Lamborn respects the President personally, and the office of the President.

I’m sure Mr. Obama will miss Mr. Lamborn, whoever he is.

_______________________________

Speaking of a lack of respect, Rick Santorum’s has a new excuse for not correcting a woman who said at one of his events that Obama was not “legally” the president and that “he is an avowed Muslim.” He told John Heilemann on Morning Joe this morning:

This was an elderly lady. She was there leaning on a cane; she was quite wobbly. I’m not going to sit there and slam an older lady because she has some way off, you know, bizarre beliefs.

So, the old gal gets the senior discount from a generous Rick Santorum. If only he would be as generous to future Medicare recipients. Santorum is one of the biggest backers of Paul Ryan’s plan to kill Medicare as we know it, which would eventually make folks like that wobbly woman wish Obama were legal.

_______________________________

Finally, Senator Rand Paul’s incident with the TSA in Nashville has his old man all hot and bothered: “The police state in this country is growing out of control,” said the elder Paul.  That coming from a man who wants to criminalize abortion. What a Grand Old Party!

Pick Rick Says GOP Jesus

Conservative evangelicals have finally heard from God—it only took Him three ballots to get through!—regarding whom they should support in the GOP primary, and the man with a God-sized Google problem, Rick Santorum, gets the Divine Nod.

That evangelical Christian leaders have explicitly thrown in with one political party in America doesn’t seem to bother the likes of James Dobson or Donald Wildmon, among the organizers of this current group of religious fanatics who have a mission to rid American leadership of people like fellow-Christian, but insufficiently godly or American, Barack Hussein Obama.

The spokesman for the event in Texas this weekend was Tony Perkins, a zealot who leads the Family Research Council, which oversees GOP compliance with so-called biblical morality. Mr. Perkins offered this extraordinary bit of insight into the evangelical psyche:

Mr. Perkins declined to explain why participants moved toward Mr. Santorum, other than to praise his consistent record on social and economic issues. In the discussions, Mr. Perkins said, participants were as concerned about repealing Mr. Obama’s health care law and fighting the national debt as they were about abortion and same-sex marriage.

And many evangelicals have said they are bothered not only by Mr. Gingrich’s three marriages, but by his attacks on Mr. Romney’s work in private equity, which they believe amounts to attacks on free enterprise.

Now, you can search the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and I dare say you will not find in it an attack on the Affordable Care Act or concern about America’s indebtedness or abortion or, for that matter, “same-sex marriage” (it is a civil-rights issue in 21st-century America, not a moral one).

Nor will you find a defense of private equity firms or the kind of buzzard-blessed capitalism practiced by Bain Capital and Mitt Romney, even if some want to call such activity “free enterprise.”

But the Bible that evangelicals tote and thump does say this (in James 1:9-11):

Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower.  For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.

It is clear that the Republican Party has become the home of conservative evangelicals and it is clear that conservative evangelicals are attempting to make the square pegs of Christian theology fit into the round holes of GOP-protected greed—just look at Tony Perkins’ tweet after Republicans in Wisconsin attacked, successfully (for now), unions:

Again, you will not find in the Bible an attack in any form on labor unions, but you will find in the history of the Religious Right’s relationship with the Republican Party an attempt, as a service to big-business interests, to crush organized labor.

And speaking of using the Bible nefariously, you may have heard that the Speaker of the House of my former home state of Kansas recently distributed an email with a reference to the dreadful Psalm 109:8, known in some places as the “Obama Prayer“:

May his days be few;

      may another take his place of leadership.

The email came with this plea:

At last — I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up — it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!

In his defense, the Speaker, Mike O’Neal (who seems to have a problem with forwarding emails about the Obamas), said,

This email is about prayer expressing what Republicans around the country are working toward — voting into office a like-minded president in 2012.

The problem is, as I posted more than two years ago, that Psalm 109:8 does not sit in isolation. The Psalmist was once again whining to God about “wicked and deceitful men” persecuting him, and he wanted some revenge, including death and plunder and punishment of children and grandchildren (as well as, retroactively, the offender’s “fathers”).

But interestingly enough, Mr. O’Neal may have helped identify the eventual GOP nominee in his reference to Psalm 109, which the NIV translates:

Appoint an evil man to oppose him;

          let an accuser stand at his right hand.

When he is tried, let him be found guilty,

         and may his prayers  condemn him.

May his days be few;

         may another take his place of leadership.

Before the Psalmist and Mr. O’Neal say, “may another take [Obama's] place of leadership,” the scripture says, “Appoint an evil man to oppose him.” 

Someone should ask the too-clever-by-half Mr. O’Neal—and other Republicans who promote this nonsense—just who that “evil man” could be: Mitt, Newt, or one of the Rick brothers?

Villagers

Something was said during Sunday’s GOP debate that reminded me of my days as a conservative and of former Republican senator and vice presidential (1976) and presidential (1996) candidate Bob Dole, from my home state of Kansas.

I met Senator Dole here in Joplin in 1988. He was campaigning for the GOP nomination against Vice President George H. W. Bush and I went out to see him at Northpark Mall. There was quite a crowd, with big-time news cameras everywhere.  I was a rabid conservative at the time, and like a lot of rabid conservatives, I tended to distrust the “compromising” and witty insider. Newt Gingrich once said of him: “Bob Dole is the tax collector for the welfare state.” That sort of gives you an idea of what conservatives thought of him.

Dole—who served more than 35 years in Congress— had a reputation for being a savvy pol, and one who would work with Democrats to get things done. You see, he thought that was why he was in Washington: to get things done.  He didn’t really think he was sent there to make ideological points and watch the country fall apart in the mean time, a fact about him I failed to appreciate in those days.

After Dole finished his stump speech, I made my way toward him and got to “talk” to him. As I shook his left hand—his right arm was paralyzed from an encounter with a German machine gun in 1945—I said, “Don’t forget us conservatives.”  The knock on Dole on the far right was that he was not “one of us.” He was a phony conservative who would let us down, and I wanted to make sure he got the message that we were out there and we were watching. I also asked him to consider appointing Jeane Kirkpatrick as his Secretary of State.  She was the foreign policy darling of the right at the time and was a Dole supporter.

Dole, with the enthusiastic crowd pressing on him, looked at me and said, “I am a conservative.” There was something about the way he said it, above the noise in the crowded space, that sort of made me feel sorry for him. The man had spent a good deal of time answering his conservative critics, trying to convince them that he was one of them, mostly to no effect (he lost that Missouri primary race to Bush 42%-41%, and then lost to uber-conservative Pat Buchanan in the 1996 Missouri primary 36%-28%).

In any case, I thought about Bob Dole after I heard this comment from Rick Santorum at the NBC GOP debate on Sunday:

I haven’t written a lot of books.  I’ve written one.  And it was in response to a book written by Hillary Clinton called It Takes A Village.  I didn’t agree with that.  I believe it takes a family.  And that’s what I wrote. 

Clinton’s 1996 book, which was fully titled, It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us, shouldn’t have been controversial, since it was based on common sense: not only do kids need parents to flourish, they also need good neighborhoods to grow up in, good schools and teachers, and access to health care, among other things. She did not advocate that “the state” raise our children in some kind of socialist utopia (that’s pretty close to the conservative critique of the book at the time), but she did argue that the health of any society could be measured by the way it treats its children.

And who can argue that whether we like it or not, parents are not the only influence on children as they grow up?  The village plays its part, for good or for ill.

Bob Dole, long before Rick Santorum wrote his 2005 book, had already shamelessly pandered to conservatives who feared the Clinton’s “socialism” (sound familiar?). In his GOP nomination acceptance speech in 1996, he said,

…after the virtual devastation of the American family, the rock upon this country—on which this country was founded—we are told that it takes a village, that is, the collective, and thus, the state, to raise a child.

The state is now more involved than it has ever been in the raising of children, and children are now more neglected, abused, and more mistreated than they have been in our time. This is not a coincidence. This is not a coincidence, and, with all due respect, I am here to tell you, it does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child.

That wasn’t one of Dole’s finest moments (nor was the entire speech, which reads like it could have been written by almost any radical right-winger today), mostly because he went on to contradict himself:

If I could by magic restore to every child who lacks a father or a mother, that father or that mother, I would. And though I cannot, I would never turn my back on them, and I shall as president, promote measures that keep families whole.

Huh? He would, as president, “promote measures that keep families whole“? You mean, as the village chieftain?  It takes a village, indeed.

Bob Dole’s attempt to use an issue—implied socialism—to authenticate his conservative bona fides, to attempt to convince the true believers in his party that he was one of them (sound familiar?), was sad enough. But now all these years later comes along another candidate, Rick Santorum, and like Dole he contradicts himself after making the identical point that “it does not take a village to raise a child“:

We– we know there’s certain things that work in– in– in America.  Brookings Institute came out with a study just a few year– a couple of years ago that said if you graduate from high school and if you work and if you’re a man, if you marry, if you’re a woman if you marry before you have children, you have a 2% chance of being in poverty in America.

 And to be above the median income, if you do those three things, 77% chance of being above the median income.  Why isn’t the President of the United States, or why aren’t leaders in this country, talking about that and trying to formulate, not necessarily federal government policy, but local policy and state policy and community policy to help people do those things that we know work and we know are good for society? 

As a former conservative, it is now so very hard to understand how I once could have thought like that. How I could have denounced on one hand the “it takes a village” idea of Hillary Clinton (it was not, of course, original with her) and on the other hand extolled the virtues of “community policy to help people do those things that we know work and we know are good for society.” If “community policy” is not the village then what is it?

Such embarrassing contradictions, made in the service of an irrational conservative ideology, are why this blog is one of repentance for past ideological sins. Obviously it takes a village to raise our kids.  And it takes a village to put out our fires, patrol and pave our streets, build our bridges and dams, check our food and our skies, treat us when we are sick, shelve books in our libraries, and teach our children arithmetic and science and good citizenship.

Bob Dole knew that in 1996.  Rick Santorum knows it today. But the right-wing ideological herd, trampling reason underfoot, doesn’t want to hear about villages and social responsibility and government. In Dole’s day they wanted to hear this, which he provided:

It is demeaning to the nation that within the Clinton administration a corps of the elite who never grew up, never did anything real, never sacrificed, never suffered and never learned, should have the power to fund with your earnings their dubious and self-serving schemes.

And today they want to hear that Barack Obama is, in Santorum’s words,

working exactly against the things he knows works, because he has a secular ideology that is against the traditions of our country and what works.

That’s what a majority of Republicans want to hear today. That’s what they wanted to hear in 1996. And I suppose it is what they will want to hear in 2016 and beyond.  But what they should be told, what they should understand, is that it does take a village—villagers—to make our country work, and to help raise our kids.

It is hard to improve on greatness, so I will just quote John Donne, the English poet-priest who famously wrote of the interconnectedness of humanity and the tolling of the church bells at the death of a villager:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Why African-Americans Don’t Vote Republican

Ever wonder why African-Americans mostly vote for Democrats?

How about Newt Gingrich calling the first African-American president “the best food stamp president in American history“?

Or how about this from Gingrich:

I’m prepared, if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.

Never mind that six in ten households on food stamps are Newt-white.

CBS News reported:

Oscar Eason, President of NAACP State Conference of Alaska, Oregon and Washington State, told CBS News Gingrich’s comment “goes right to the heart of real racism – that African Americans are lazy and don’t want to work and depend entirely on handouts.”

Meanwhile, Rick Santorum, Gingrich’s new “junior partner,”said in response to a question about “foreign influence in this country“:

They’re just pushing harder and harder to get more and more of you dependent upon them so they can get your vote. That’s the bottom line. I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.

To which Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP, responded:

Santorum’s targeting of African-Americans is inaccurate and outrageous, and lifts up old race-based stereotypes about public assistance. He conflates welfare recipients with African-Americans, though federal benefits are in fact determined by income level.

Later, Santorum told, or tried to tell, CNN—which wasn’t buying it—this:

“I’m pretty confident that I didn’t say ‘black.'” The GOP contender said he “was starting to say one word, and I sort of came up with another word and moved on and it sounded like black.”

No wonder the guy has a Google problem. He is full of something.

In any case, the GOP has a problem with African-Americans partly because of dumb stuff like the above freely flowing from the mouths of its prominent candidates, and partly because GOP economic policies are largely responsible for so many blacks—and whites—needing food stamps and public assisantance in the first place.

Remarks And Asides On Iowa

The final results:

THE LIAR………………………. 24.6%

GOD’S CANDIDATE #1….. 24.6%

CRAZY UNCLE RON……….. 21.5%

NETTLED NEWT……………. 13.3% 

GOD’S CANDIDATE #3….. 10.3%

GOD’S CANDIDATE #2……. 5.0%

In the 2008 Iowa Caucuses, The Liar, as Nettled Newt likes to call Mitt Romney, got 30,021 votes and finished a distant second to a bass-playing Baptist preacher.  After more than five years of running for president, and millions upon millions of dollars spent, this year The Liar received six fewer votes and just barely beat a man with a Google problem (the difference: 8 votes out of 122,255 cast). That kind of efficiency is why, I suppose, we should elect him president.  Just ask him. Or ask John McCain, The Sore Loser, who is set to endorse The Liar today.

In any case, you may have noticed that God, as he is wont to do, hedged his bet in the race and had at least three entries.  If you think that is cheating, take it up with Him.  In the mean time, one of his candidates, #1, almost emerged the “winner” in a historic squeaker. And then, in his post-election speech, the God-endorsed candidate, beaming with ethereal pride, proceeded to bear false witness against the President.  I’m guessing God was in the lobby signing Bibles at the time.

Indeed, in many of the post-election speeches and true to form, the candidates told a number of whoppers about the socialist interloper in the White’s House.

And speaking of God and telling whoppers about the President, Pat Robertson has heard from God again. And guess what? What he heard fits in nicely with Robertson’s politics. God is good that way. Robertson shared this message from GOP Jesus:

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 this country, and so that’s why we’re having this division. This is a spiritual battle which can only be won by overwhelming prayer.  The future of the world is at stake because if America falls, there’s no longer a strong champion of freedom and a champion of the oppressed of the world. There must be an urgent call to prayer…This country is disintegrating.

Dang. I liked God much better when he was sending us “good tidings of great joy.”

But speaking of an urgent call to prayer and disintegration, I exhort you to make an appeal to the Almighty for fans of Crazy Uncle Ron, whose strong showing in Iowa last night will only intensify his followers’ delusions that this man has a future in the attic of the White’s House.

God’s candidate #3, also known as The Forgetful Texan, is going home to regroup and find out why God told him to run for president without equipping him for the job.

Speaking of being ill-equipped for the job, God’s candidate #2, who called Mr. Obama a socialist at least a gazillion times in her “concession” speech, gave no immediate indication when she will do the inevitable and give up the ghost, holy or otherwise.

The real story, though, is Nettled Newt. Speaking extemporaneously after his poor showing, which is his way of bragging about how darn smart he is, he was clearly still pissed about The Liar’s terrorist attack on his record and character. And Newt is planning a paradoxical counter-attack: telling “the truth” about The Liar.  Maybe in New Hampshire this week, as Newt carries out his strategy, some enterprising reporter will ask Newt how he can call The Liar a liar and accuse him of “buying” the election, yet still claim he would support him for president.

All in all, just another amusing day watching Republicans.

Weird Stuff:

MSNBC’s Morning Joe featured this weird quote during a weird moment of braggadocio from a weird GOP presidential candidate:

NEWT GINGRICH: I did no lobbying of any kind, period. For a practical reason, I was charging $60,000 a speech. And the number of speeches was going up, not down. Normally celebrities leave and they gradually sell fewer speeches every year. We were selling more.

Then Morning Joe put up this:

To which I might add this:

JOPLIN PER CAPITA INCOME: $30,292,  which puts Joplin at #328 out of 367 Metropolitan Areas (national average: $42,159).  So, think of this potential Gingrich voters in Joplin: Every time Newt opens his mouth in front of a corporate crowd—provided he’s not munching down on the pre-speech cheese display—he is making twice as much as most folks around here make in a bleeping year.

And this is weird, too:

I don’t know, but I find it weird for “family values” voters in Iowa to pledge their allegiance to a guy who has been married three times—with the previous two marriages ending because of Newt’s extracurricular screwing. If Gingrich wins in Iowa, that will demonstrate that evangelical Christians don’t mind their candidates’ adultery, so long as those candidates repent while trashing The Scary Negro in the White’s House.

And this is weird: After interviewing Ron Paul on Sunday, Candy Crowley, on That Other Fair And Balanced Network, CNN, ended the lackluster segment—I kid you not—by advertising a Ron Paul cookbook:

Ms.Crowley, who used to be a journalist before she played one on TV, said this as her undazzling interview of Ron Paul ended:

Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul, thank you for joining us today. And if you want more of Ron Paul, we want you to check out—just in time for Christmas—The Ron Paul Family Cookbook.

As I said, I kid you not.

More weird stuff: Rick Santorum is tied for last in the latest poll from Iowa. He has a three-year-old daughter who is dying. Yet, he said this on ABC’s This Week on Sunday:

AMANPOUR: You are very public about your seven children. You’ve been very public and have been very emotional, of course, talking about your young daughter, Bella, you, you’ve said, has basically a life that’s measured in days and weeks.

SANTORUM: Well, it certainly is according to the medical statistics. But we’ve been very blessed. I mean, she is three-and-a- half years of age, you know, I was with her last night, got a chance to spend some time with her.

SANTORUM: She’s an absolute joy. She’s really the center of our lives. And we feel so blessed to have her.

AMANPOUR: And as a mother, I just wonder how you can keep going and how you justify this with so much personal toll at home?

SANTORUM: Yeah, well, as we all know…

AMANPOUR: Given the polls.

SANTORUM: Yeah, no, I understand. Well, I don’t worry about the — again I don’t worry about the polls, I worry about what I’m trying to do to be the best father and husband I can be. And obviously a big part of that is making sure that we have a country that respects her life and a country that is free and safe and prosperous for all of my children.

And I just felt like given this is really I believe the most critical election in the history of the country that I had to step up and make sacrifices, like everybody does, to make our country a better country.

Isn’t that special? Rick Santorum, who said his dying daughter is “the center” of his life, is spending her last few weeks on earth with Iowa voters, most of whom will not vote for him. If you don’t think that’s weird, then obviously you are an Obama-hating Republican.

Finally, as 60 Minutes pointed out in yet another fantastic piece of  journalism on Sunday night, it is weird that the Obama Justice Department hasn’t prosecuted a single bankster for what was done to the American economy in 2008 and beyond.  What makes that especially weird is that the Obama Justice Department is doing this:

In its effort to shut down California’s booming medical marijuana dispensaries, the Justice Department is seeking to seize the property where the clinics are based, even going after at least one bank that holds the mortgage on a clinic.

If you don’t think it’s weird to go after a bank for holding the mortgage of a legal—legal—dispensary of marijuana in California, while simultaneously allowing dishonest, greedy banksters to get away with lying to investors and nearly killing the economy, then you are obviously a dishonest, greedy bankster who believes the whole economic crisis and Great Recession was the fault of Democrats trying to help poor minorities buy homes they couldn’t afford.

“The Dumb Spake”

And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered.”

—Luke 11:14

 

We now have two stunning episodes in which a Republican presidential candidate was unable to articulate what should have been for them the obvious: Rick Perry’s blanking out on the three agencies he would eliminate and Herman Cain’s stuttering search through his obviously spacious mental warehouse of world knowledge for a response to an easy question on Obama’s Libya policy.

Let’s face it: Rick Perry and Herman Cain have about the same chance of becoming president as a fried turkey leg has of surviving an encounter with Newt Gingrich, so it’s not what those two couldn’t say that scares me about this crop of GOP candidates.

It’s what actually escapes, with varying degrees of fluency, from the mouths of some of the rest of them:

In March, Newt Gingrich, who is now the Republican front-runner in some national polls and in all campaign-trail buffets, said this:

I have two grandchildren — Maggie is 11, Robert is 9. I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time they’re my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American. 

Newt was 67 when he made that statement. You do the math as to how long we have before the “radical Islamists” dominate a “secular atheist” America, and then wonder why Newt didn’t bother to explain how the country could be secular and atheist if it were dominated by folks who adhere to a very radical and non-secular and non-atheist version of Islam.

Gingrich’s reputation for brilliance, as you can see, is well-deserved.

Then there’s Michele Bachmann, who said last Saturday:

I think, really, what I would want to do is be able to go back and take a look at Lyndon Baines Johnson’s Great Society … The Great Society has not worked and it’s put us into the modern welfare state.

If you look at China, they don’t have food stamps. If you look at China, they’re in a very different situation. They don’t have AFDC [Aid to Families with Dependent Children]. They save for their own retirement security. They don’t have the modern welfare state. And China’s growing. And so what I would do is look at the programs that LBJ gave us with the Great Society and they’d be gone.

I can’t remember the last candidate from one of the two major parties who used China as a model for American domestic policy, can you? Reagan? Bush?

And by the way, we don’t even have AFDC anymore, thanks to the 1996 welfare reform bill that changed it into a block grant program. So take that you wonderful Chinese! We’re catching up!

And here’s don’t-Google-me-please Rick Santorum, who said last month

I’ll repeal all funding for abortions…We’ll repeal Obamacare and get rid of any kind of idea that you have to have abortion coverage or contraceptive coverage. And one of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is that I think the dangers of contraception in this country—the whole sexual libertine idea. And many in the Christian faith say, “Well, that’s okay, you know, contraception’s okay.” It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be…

Let me see. Besides putting restrictions on our sex licenses, Santorum is opposed to contraception, abortion, and has bragged about killing the federal entitlement program, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, that Michele Bachmann thinks still exists.  It all makes sense to me.

Then there is the “sensible” and “adult” Jon Huntsman, who said during last Saturday’s debate, in response to a question from Tea Party kingpin Sen. Jim DeMint on “federal spending and debt”:

My speech was a very short one on debt and spending. It’s three words: The Ryan Plan. I think The Ryan Plan sets out a template that puts– everything on the table.

I’ve got three words for Mr. Huntsman: Find another job. The Ryan plan, besides morphing Medicare out of existence, did not put “everything on the table.” His plan was advertised as revenue neutral and all the deficit reduction pain would be felt by—guess who?

Finally, there’s the eventual Republican nominee, Mitt. This one is short and sweet and easy to remember:

Corporations are people, my friend.

“And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered.”

Obama Lost The War In Iraq, Don’t You Know

On the way to Springfield on Sunday I heard a BBC radio report relating how Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who has previously flirted with joining the Taliban, said:

God forbid, if there is ever a war between Pakistan and America, then we will side with Pakistan.

Then upon returning home I discovered that Lindsey Graham told Fox “News” that President Obama made a “serious mistake” by keeping to the Bush Administration timetable of troop withdrawal from Iraq at the end of this year:

Not being able to close the deal in Iraq is a very serious mistake. Celebrating leaving with no troops behind is a serious mistake… He’s put in question our success in Afghanistan and he ended Iraq poorly. He fumbled the ball inside of the ten. I hope I’m wrong about what happens in Iraq, but they are dancing in the streets in Tehran.

Then I learned that Lindsey Graham’s Siamese twin, John McCain, also criticized—on foreign soil—Obama’s Bush-endorsed decision on ABC’s This Week:

Well, I think it’s a serious mistake. And there was never really serious negotiations between the administration and the Iraqis. They could have clearly made an arrangement for U.S. troops.

Yes, I’m here in the region. And, yes, it is viewed in the region as a victory for the Iranians.

So, clearly the Republican establishment, as represented by Graham and McCain, believe Mr. Obama, who is simply following the plan of his presidential predecessor, is turning over the region to the Iranians. 

Then we have even nuttier charges, like this one from presidential candidate Rick Santorum, appearing on CBS’s Face the Nation:

I think that’s reason people are so upset, that, you know, we’ve lost — in many respects, we’ve lost control, lost the war in Iraq because we have Iran having broadened its sphere of influence.

Lost the war?  Obama lost the war?

In the midst of all this insanity, one must ask this rather sane question: Who is it that enhanced Iranian power in the region in the first place? Yep. The neocon philosophy-drunk Bush Administration, who altered the balance of regional power by invading and occupying Iraq, making it possible for the Iranians to potentially team up with the previously oppressed Shiite majority in Iraq and cause regional mischief.

By Republican reasoning, Mr. Bush lost the war just after we fired the first shot.

But was Graham or McCain or Santorum asked about that? Nope. Nor were they asked just how long the United States should stay in Iraq.  Ten more years?  Twenty? They should have been asked how many more Americans should die in Iraq, beyond the 4469 dead to date. Or how many more thousands of American wounded, beyond the 32,213 already suffering, will it take before Messrs. Graham and McCain and Santorum want to call it quits?

Not least, how much more of our treasure should be hauled overseas to flitter in an Iraqi wind?

All of which leads me back to Hamid Karzai.  The Afghanistan leader has given President Obama every reason to send him drone-delivered Christmas greetings from America. Thus, the requisite backtracking:

A spokesman for Karzai, Siamak Herawi, said the president had not intended any slight to the Western governments that have spent billions of dollars shoring up the Afghan administration during the 10-year war that has claimed the lives of at least 1,817 American troops.

“The media misinterpreted [Karzai’s] speech,” he said, adding that the president had been trying to express solidarity with Pakistan for having taken in millions of Afghan refugees during decades of war and the subsequent rule of the Taliban movement.  

Although it would send Lindsey Graham and John McCain and Rick Santorum into irreversible apoplexy, Mr. Obama should announce that he is stepping up troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, admitting that, like Iraq, a hundred more years in that Allah-forsaken place would at best only marginally advance American interests, which used to be the primary goal of our foreign policy.

Obama, Tomcat

Republicans, because they rightly don’t trust other Republicans, like to create—and force their candidates to sign—pledges. 

Forget the standard, the old allegiance-to-the-flag pledge (with, of course, the necessary “under God” language). That’s old school.

Nowadays, there are no-tax-increase pledges, anti-choice pledges, “Cut, Cap, And Balance” pledges, and the latest way to demonstrate Republican unseriousness, the it-was-better-to-be-a-negro-slave-than-an-Obama-era-negro pledge.

That last one is a creation of the Iowa Christian Taliban, better known as The Family Leader, a group headed by gay-gripped Bob Vander Plaats, a man every bit as obsessed with enforcing Allah’s God’s word than any member of al Qaeda, living or, thankfully, dead.

The Family Leader’s pledge, which Republican presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum have duly signed, featured this:

Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.

You see?  It is more important for kids to have both parents, even if they happen to be the property of wealthy white conservatives, than it is to be born “after the election” of Barack Obama, who is, when he’s not otherwise engaged in destroying America, responsible for every out-of-wedlock birth among American blacks today.

Obama is quite a tomcat, don’t you know.

Now, it is true that these religious zealots in Iowa—who have a mind-boggling amount of clout due to the state’s first-up primary—have “removed the language from the vow,” under pressure from people in their right minds.

But what kind of mind is it that would put such language in a pledge in the first place?  And, more important, what kind of presidential mentality would actually sign it?

On goes the 2012 conservative circus.

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