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.

2014-03-18-danzcolor5060.jpg

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.

%d bloggers like this: