The Watering Hole, Monday, June 30th, 2014: Jesus must be screaming

Thank you, frugalchariot, for the link that you posted on Saturday’s thread, leading me to a treasure trove of jaw-dropping info about Colorado’s latest entry in ‘Teh Crazy Game': Gordon J. Klingenschmitt

Teh Crazy is strong in Gordon J. Klingenschmitt

Teh Crazy is strong in Gordon J. Klingenschmitt

Klingenschmitt is the surprise Republican primary winner for state representative in Colorado’s 15th District. The story in frugal’s link to Crooks and Liars includes an excerpt from RightWingWatch on Klingenschmitt that is loaded with links and will curl your hair. As karoli at C&L says in the article:

“This is why there should be a Great Wall between church and state that is impenetrable. This guy is a nut. He makes Rafael Cruz look sane. And he’s now a Republican candidate for state office in Colorado.”

According to the Denver Post, Colorado Republicans don’t want to claim Klingenschmitt as one of their own:

“Klingenschmitt’s rhetoric and beliefs have raised alarm with members of the Republican Party, who worry that his views might cause problems for conservatives.”

“Gordon does not speak on behalf of the Republican Party. To suggest otherwise is inaccurate and dishonest,” said Ryan Call, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.”

Klingenschmitt, a former Navy Chaplain who was court-martialed in 2006 – not for “praying in Jesus’ name” as he tells it – for disobeying a lawful order. It is against military rules to wear one’s uniform at a political event, but Klingenschmitt wore his Navy Chaplain uniform to a protest in March of 2006 – next to former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore – outside the White House. He soon launched a new career with a radio show called “The Pray in Jesus Name Project.” Again from the Denver Post:

“[Klingenschmitt’s] outspoken religious beliefs have crossed into the realm of popular politics, including homosexuality and Obama.

“Father in heaven, we pray against the domestic enemies of the Constitution — against this demon of tyranny who is using the White House,” Klingenschmitt said of the president in an episode of his show…”

According to The Public Record, Klingenschmitt has been playing the martyr ever since his court-martial, “boasting to his right-wing extremist followers that he demanded his own court martial because his superior officers prohibited him from praying in the name of Jesus.”

“Further undercutting Klingenschmitt’s claim that he sacrificed his naval career in the name of Jesus is an e-mail Vice Adm. Harvey sent to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Mullen urging him to approve Klingenschmitt’s “involuntary release” from the Navy due to Klingenschmitt’s “lack of career potential.”

Klingenschmitt’s former supervisor in the Navy had lots to say about him as well. Still from The Public Record article (which you HAVE to read, it’s an eye-opener):

“As reported by AU, Norm Holcomb, a retired Navy chaplain who was Klingenschmitt’s boss, sent an e-mail in March 2007 to Kentucky state officials after he discovered the House of Representatives passed a resolution lauding the disgraced Navy chaplain for “service to God, country and the Commonwealth of Kentucky” and invited him to lead a prayer session.”

[excerpt from Holcomb’s email]

“We have been relatively quiet regarding our ex-chaplain’s untruthfulness and lack of honor because we are embarrassed that one of our own could display such behavior in the name of our Lord. We wanted to spare all concerned the embarrassment associated with his dishonesty. However, it now seems that it would be wrong for those of us who know the truth to remain silent. I served with him and supervised him (as best as it was possible to supervise a person who refused to submit to lawful authority) and I know about his daily dishonesty and ‘spin’ of the truth.”

Okay, so the Navy felt that Klingenschmitt lacked “career potential”, his own former supervisor states that Klingenschmitt was “untruthful” and now he’s running for public office? Coloradans, beware!

Next…

Scalia sez 'Go fuck yourselves'

Scalia, as always, sez ‘Screw you, I’m here ’til I die.’

Last week, the Supremes voted unanimously to strike down Massachusetts’ “Buffer Zone” law, which restricts anti-abortion protesters from coming within 35 feet of a women’s health clinic. According to a ThinkProgress thread from June 27th:

“The buffer zone law was struck down in a narrow ruling that suggested there are different ways to curb anti-choice harassment without restricting speech on public sidewalks…it’s still illegal to obstruct women’s access to a health clinic, thanks to a federal law that was passed in response to clinic blockades in the 1980s and early 1990s.”

Naturally, Antonin Scalia took issue with some points in Chief Roberts’ opinion, and had to get his own two cents in, according to an article from aol.com:

“In a separate opinion, Justice Antonin Scalia criticized Roberts’ opinion as carrying forward “this court’s practice of giving abortion-rights advocates a pass when it comes to suppressing the free-speech rights of their opponents.”

Scalia said state and local governments around the country would continue to be able to “restrict antiabortion speech without fear of rigorous constitutional review.”

The buffer-zone case began when Boston-area grandmother Eleanor McCullen and other abortion opponents sued over the limits on their activities at Planned Parenthood health centers in Boston, Springfield and Worcester. At the latter two sites, the protesters say they have little chance of reaching patients arriving by car because they must stay 35 feet not from the clinic entrances but from the driveway to those buildings’ parking lots. Patients enter the building through the parking lots, which are private property.”

[emphasis mine]

Eleanor McCullen, Nosy Parker

Eleanor McCullen, Nosy Parker

So, just because Ms. McCullen wanted to get close enough to her intended harassment victims so that they could hear her better, she sued? Yes, she and her ilk have the 1st Amendment right to free speech, but that shouldn’t mean that a total stranger should be forced to listen to her. And if she couldn’t shout loud enough from across the street, tough darts!

What makes the Supreme’s decision so much harder to swallow is the hypocrisy: the entire Supreme Court plaza is a legislated buffer zone. As Susan Milligan says in this piece from U.S. News and World Report:

“But at what point does the free speech become a barrier to a woman seeking to exercise another right, one upheld by the courts, to have an abortion? The idea that the individuals preaching against abortion on the street are merely “counseling” women is the utmost insult…[t]he idea that a complete stranger presumes to know better – and assumes that the woman in question is some kind of mindless fool who couldn’t possibly know what she is doing – is beyond arrogant.”

Every time a Christian lies in Jesus’ name, Jesus screams.

This is our daily open thread–what’s on your mind today?

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 10th, 2014: Jehovah: IMHO, Not Much of a God

This is going to be a bit long, but once I read it I knew that I had to share it with you. What follows is a section entitled “Why Does God Allow Suffering?” of one of the tracts that the Jehovah’s Witnesses dropped off last weekend. The tract itself is titled “Does Death End It All?” For your examination, in its entirety:

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

“The following is a typical conversation that one of Jehovah’s Witnesses might have with a neighbor. Let us imagine that a Witness named Michelle has come to the home of a woman named Sophia.”

HOW DOES GOD FEEL ABOUT OUR SUFFERING?

Michelle: Hi, Sophia. I’m happy I found you at home.
Sophia: Me, too.
Michelle: The last time I was here we discussed how God feels about our suffering. You mentioned that this is something you have wondered about for a long time, especially after your mother was injured in a car crash. By the way, how has your mother been doing?
Sophia: She has good days and bad days. Today, she’s doing OK.
Michelle: I’m glad to hear that. It must be a real challenge to keep your head up in a situation like this.
Sophia: It is. Sometimes I wonder how much longer she will have to suffer.
Michelle: That’s a natural response. You may recall that at the end of our last visit, I left you with a question about why God has allowed suffering to continue if he has the power to end it.
Sophia: Yes, I remember.
Michelle: Before we consider the Bible’s answer, let’s review a few of the points we covered last time.
Sophia: OK.
Michelle: For one thing, we learned that even a faithful man in Bible times wondered why God allows suffering. Yet, God never scolded him for asking about it, nor did God tell him that he simply needed more faith.
Sophia: That was a new thought to me.
Michelle: We also learned that Jehovah God hates to see us suffer. For example, the Bible says that when his people were going through distress, “it was distressing to him.” [here footnoted “See Isaiah 63:9″] Isn’t it comforting to know that God feels for us when we suffer?
Sophia: Yes, it is.
Michelle: Finally, we agreed that considering the vast amount of power our Creator possesses, surely he has the ability to step in and end suffering at any moment.
Sophia: That’s what I don’t understand. Why does God let all these bad things happen when he has the power to stop them?

WHO WAS TELLING THE TRUTH?

Michelle: We can start to find the answer to your question by turning to the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Are you familiar with the account of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit?
Sophia: Yes, I learned that story in Sunday school. God said not to eat from a certain tree, but they went ahead and ate from it anyway.
Michelle: That is correct. Now, let’s focus on the events that led up to Adam and Eve’s sin. Those events have a direct bearing on the question of why we suffer. Would you please read Genesis chapter 3, verses 1 through 5?
Sophia: OK. “Now the serpent was the most cautious of all the wild animals of the field that Jehovah God had made. So it said to the woman: ‘Did God really say that you must not eat from every tree of the garden?’ At this the woman said to the serpent: ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. But God has said about the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden: ‘You must not eat from it, no, you must not touch it, otherwise you would die.’ At this the serpent said to the woman: ‘You certainly would not die. For God knows that in the very day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad.'”
Michelle: Thank you. Let’s examine these verses for a moment. First, notice that a serpent spoke to the woman, Eve. Another part of the Bible shows that it was really Satan the Devil who was speaking to her through the serpent. [here footnoted “See Revelation 12:9.] Satan asked Eve about God’s command regarding a certain tree. Did you notice what God had said the penalty would be if Adam and Eve ate from it?
Sophia: They would die.
Michelle: Correct. Then, with his very next words, Satan made a major accusation against God. Notice what he said: “You certainly will not die.” Satan was calling God a liar!
Sophia: I never heard that part of the story before.
Michelle: And when Satan called God a liar, he raised an issue that would require time to settle. Can you see why?
Sophia: Hmm. I’m not sure.
Michelle: Well, maybe I could illustrate the point this way. Let’s say that one day I approach you and claim that I’m physically stronger than you are. How could you prove me wrong?
Sophia: I suppose with some sort of a test.
Michelle: Yes, exactly. Maybe we would choose a heavy object and then see which one of us was able to lift it. Actually, proving who is stronger is pretty straightforward.
Sophia: I see your point.
Michelle: But what if instead of saying that I’m stronger, I claimed to be more honest than you? That’s a different matter, isn’t it?
Sophia: Yes, I suppose so.
Michelle: After all, honesty is not something like strength, which can be proved with a simple test.
Sophia: No.
Michelle: Really, the only way to settle the challenge would be to let enough time pass for others to observe the two of us and see who really is more honest.
Sophia: That makes sense.
Michelle: Now, look again at this account in Genesis. Did Satan claim to be stronger than God?
Sophia: No.
Michelle: God could have quickly proved him wrong. Instead, Satan claimed to be more honest than God. In effect, he said to Eve, ‘God is lying to you, but I’m telling you the truth.’
Sophia: Interesting.
Michelle: In his wisdom, then, God knew that the best way to settle the challenge would be to allow time to pass. Eventually, it would become clear who was telling the truth and who was lying.

AN IMPORTANT ISSUE

Sophie: But as soon as Eve died, didn’t that prove that God was telling the truth?
Michelle: In a sense, it did. But there was more to Satan’s challenge. Look again at verse 5. Do you notice what else Satan told Eve?
Sophia: He said that if she ate of the fruit, her eyes would be opened.
Michelle: Yes, and that she would become “like God, knowing good and bad.” So Satan claimed that God was withholding something good from humans.
Sophia: I see.
Michelle: And that too was a major challenge.
Sophia: What do you mean?
Michelle: By his words, Satan implied that Eve – and by extension, all humans – would be better off without God’s rulership. In this case too, Jehovah knows that the best way to address the challenge would be to let Satan try to prove his point. So God has allowed Satan to rule this world for a time. That explains why we see so much suffering around us–it’s because Satan, not God, is the real ruler of the world. [here footnoted, “see John 12:31, John 5:19.] But there is good news.
Sophia: What’s that?
Michelle: The Bible teaches these two beautiful truths about God. First, Jehovah is there for us when we suffer. For example, cosider the words of King David, as recorded at Psalm 31:7. David experienced a lot of suffering during his lifetime, but notice what he was able to say in prayer to God. Would you please read the verse?
Sophia: OK. It says, “I will rejoice greatly in your loyal love, for you have seen my affliction, you are aware of my deep distress.”
Michelle: So even though David experienced suffering, he found comfort in knowing that Jehovah saw everything he went through. Do you find that comforting–the thought that Jehovah is aware of everything, even our painful emotions that other humans may not fully understand?
Sophia: Yes, I do.
Michelle: The second beautiful truth is that God will not allow our suffering to go on indefinitely. The Bible teaches that he will soon bring an end to Satan’s wicked rulership. And he will completely undo all of the bad things that have happened, including the things that you and your mother have suffered. May I come back next week and show you why we can be sure that God will soon end all suffering?
Sophia: That sounds good.”

Okay, my immediate response to this whole thing is:

- Sophia is amazingly gullible;
– Michelle’s words and examples are hardly irrefutable proof of anything;
– Since Eve did NOT die when she ate the forbidden fruit, it would appear that Satan was right, God IS a liar; and
– It’s a poor excuse on God’s part that he can’t intervene in human suffering because, for some strange reason, God is letting Satan have a turn at ruling the world.

This is our daily open thread–your thoughts?

The Watering Hole, Monday, December 2nd, 2013: Happy As A Pig ‘n’ Sh!t

First, here’s the Happy Pig:

Happy Pig

Happy Pig

Now, here’s the Shit: I received another pamphlet from our friendly neighborhood Jehovah’s Witnesses. Luckily for you, gentle readers, I have not had the chance (or inclination, yet) to read the whole thing, so I’m limiting this to a few excerpts based on the topic of the pamphlet’s blow-in:

“Can the dead really live again?”

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS[**] “There is going to be a resurrection.” – Acts 24:15, New World Translation[**]
WHAT THAT CAN MEAN FOR YOU
-Comfort when loved ones die – 2 Corinthians 1:3, 4
-Freedom from a morbid fear of death – Hebrews 2:15
-A real hope of being reunited with your dead loved ones – John 5:28, 29

CAN WE REALLY BELIEVE WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS? Yes, for at least three reasons:
-God is the Creator of life. The Bible calls Jehovah God “the source of life.” (Psalm 36:9, Acts 17:24, 25) The One who gave life to all living creatures is certainly capable of restoring life to someone who has died.
-God has resurrected humans in the past. The Bible reports eight instances of humans – young, old, male, and female – who were brought back to life on earth. Some had been dead for a short while, but one had been in a tomb for four days! –John 11:39-44
-God is eager to do it again. Jehovah hates death, he views it as an enemy. (1 Corinthians 15:26) He has “a yearning” to conquer that enemy, to undo death by means of the resurrection. He longs to bring back those who are in his memory and to see them live on earth again.–Job 14:14, 15.

Who will go to heaven, and why? Millions long for life in heaven. Jesus said that his faithful apostles would live there. Before he died, he promised to prepare a place for them with his heavenly Father.–Read John 14:2. Why will people from earth be resurrected to life in heaven? What will they do there? Jesus told his apostles that they would be kings. They will rule over the earth.–Read Luke 22:28-30; Revelation 5:10.

~~~ and the last one, I promise ~~~

Do all good people go to heaven? In most lands, only a few people are rulers. Since Jesus resurrects people to heavenly life so that they can rule over the earth, we would expect those chosen to be few. (Luke 12:32) The Bible says exactly how many will rule with Jesus.–Read Revelation 14:1. Those going to heaven will not be the only ones rewarded. Faithful subjects of Jesus’ Kingdom will enjoy life without end in a restored paradise on earth. (John 3:16 [or, as Wayne and I call it “Johnny on the Spot” – one so often sees cardboard signs with just “JOHN 3:16″ held up toward the camera at televised baseball, football, and other sports competitions.]) Some will enter Paradise by surviving the destruction of the present wicked system of things. Others will enter by resurrection.–Read Psalm 37:29; John 5:28, 29

[**] Since the JWs use their own Bible “translation”, I suggest that, if you’re interested, go to biblegateway.com, you can choose which bible flavor you want to see each one’s translation of a particular quotation. Since the choices do NOT include the “New World Translation” indicated above, the links that I used were the American Standard Version. Just keep in mind that the JWs believe that every word in their re-written/re-translated version of the ‘original’ bible (both of which were likely written solely by enterprising males) is factually true, simply because the bible that they wrote says it is.

BTW, I copied (re-typed) the inconsistent all-caps, boldfaces, references, etc., exactly as they were printed in the ‘literature.’

Now you can go back and look at the cute pig again.

This is our daily open thread–please feel free to air your thoughts on pigs, Jehovah’s Witnesses (or any other religious group), etc.

The Watering Hole, Monday, October 7th, 2013: All the Crazy That Fits

It’s been a while since I put on my hip waders and stepped into Newsmax, so here’s a few gems:

From “Rev. Billy Graham Prepares ‘Perhaps … My Last Message’” by David A. Patton:

“In an exclusive interview, the Rev. Billy Graham tells Newsmax that President Obama’s “hope and change” mantra is nothing more than a cliché and warns that the nation faces increasing threats to civil and religious liberties from its government.

Graham, who is preparing for possibly his last crusade, this time via video, said America is drenched in a “sea of immorality” and suggested that the second coming of Christ is “near.”

“Our early fathers led our nation according to biblical principles,” Graham wrote in response. “‘Hope and change’ has become a cliché in our nation, and it is daunting to think that any American could hope for change from what God has blessed,” he stated, an obvious reference to President Obama’s campaign motto.

“Our country is turning away from what has made it so great,” he continued, “but far greater than the government knowing our every move that could lead to losing our freedom to worship God publicly, is to know that God knows our every thought; he knows our hearts need transformation.” ~~~

Many believing Christians believe in a coming Armageddon, a final battle between good and evil prophesied in the book of Revelation.

Graham tells Newsmax it is not wise to “speculate” about the dates of such a battle, but he adds that the Bible says that there “will be signs pointing toward the return of the Lord.”

“I believe all of these signs are evident today,” Graham wrote, adding that “the return of Christ is near.

“Regardless of what society says, we cannot go on much longer in the sea of immorality without judgment coming,” he says.”

Next, from “Rove: Obama Wants to ‘Break the Republicans'” by Amy Woods:

“Republican strategist Karl Rove on Sunday described President Barack Obama’s behavior throughout the budget showdown as “stubborn obstructionism” whose goal is to “get more money and break the Republicans.”

“The stubborn obstructionism of the president … has a purpose, which is to try and get the Congress to agree to the Senate Democrats’ spending number, which is $91 billion bigger than the House, and bust the sequester, and end the 2011 spending agreements,” Rove said on “Fox News Sunday.” “He is attempting to put the responsibility for raising the debt ceiling and, in fact, naming the amount of the debt ceiling on the Congress and not on himself.”

Third, from “Rand Paul: Democrats’ Stubbornness Keeping Government Closed” by Sandy Fitzgerald:

“Paul denied that House Republicans led to the shutdown by refusing to fund the government.

“The House Republicans said they would fund all of government, and they did,” Paul said. “They funded all of government short of one program. So they really were never wanting to shut down government over this, they were wanting to fund government, and then have a debate.”

He further blamed Obama for his refusal to negotiate for the shutdown.

“When you say the president wants 100 percent of Obamacare or he will shut down the government, that’s exactly what happened,” said Paul. “If he [Obama] doesn’t get 100 percent of his way – his way or the highway – then they won’t do any spending bills that don’t include everything that he wants. That’s him unwilling to negotiate, that’s him being unwilling to compromise.”

Had enough? How about one more? From “Rep. Graves: Obama To Blame if Country Defaults” by Amy Woods:

“Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Graves said Sunday the party is “united” in its belief the government should re-open and negotiations with Democrats should continue to avoid a possible economic default over the debt ceiling.

“We have had a tremendous fight over keeping the government open and protecting Americans from Obamacare,” Graves said on “Fox News Sunday.” “There’s no reason to default. The president’s the only one demanding default right now.”

Sorry, but I have to throw this last link in, just for laughs: Another one by Bill Hoffman, “From Senate to Center Stage: Fred Thompson Makes Broadway Debut”. The author of the piece completely omits any mention of Thompson’s disastrous run for the Presidency, or the fact that Thompson’s most recent “acting” gig has been on ‘Reverse-Mortgage’ commercials.

This is our Open Thread. Have at it!

The Watering Hole, Monday, February 18th, 2013: Pope-Pourri

Separated At Birth?

Separated At Birth?

On February 11th, Pope Benedict XVI, aka Joseph Ratzinger, aka Emperor Palpatine, announced that he was leaving the sinking ship giving up the leadership of the “Worldwide Catholic Church” (or NAMBLA), effective on February 28th, 2013. A papal conclave will soon be convened by the College of Cardinals to determine the next Pope, possibly by the end of March.

The New Yorker provides a few-holds-barred critique in John Cassidy’s blogpost “The Disastrous Influence of Pope Benedict XVI“, an interesting read which succinctly summarizes the regressive Papal policies of both Pope John Paul II (with then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s aid) and Pope Benedict XVI. I really recommend this article, as it clearly outlines the conflicting forces within the Church, which currently favor the conservative side.

I wholeheartedly agree with E.J. Dionne’s opinion piece from February 15th in the Washington Post, as he discusses why “The Best Choice for Pope?” is “A Nun.” As a veteran of 13 years of Catholic schooling, I can confirm that the nuns were more responsible for educating us in school subjects as well as religious subjects than any of the priests or the Monsignor of our parish. The nuns also set much better examples of Christ-like ideals and actions, as we all now know.

Yesterday, I signed a petition from Catholics United, urging Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the former Archbishop of Los Angeles, not to participate in the upcoming papal conclave.

Former L.A. Archbishop John M. Mahony

Former L.A. Archbishop John M. Mahony

From a Catholics-United Press Release on February 14th:

“WASHINGTON – After the stunning news that Pope Benedict XVI will be stepping down effective Feb. 28, Catholics in Los Angeles are urging Cardinal Roger Mahony to stay home instead of participating in the election to determine the next pope. Mahony was recently stripped of his public duties for his part in a sex abuse cover-up while he led the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.”

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Andrea León-Grossman, a Los Angeles member of Catholics United. “In the interests of the children who were raped in his diocese, he needs to keep out of the public eye. He has already been stripped of his ministry. If he’s truly sorry for what has happened, he would show some humility and opt to stay home.”

The Washington Post Editorial Board published a scathing piece on February 13th entitled “The Sins of Cardinal Mahony”; here’s a few excerpts:

“Eleven Americans will be among the 117 cardinals of the Catholic Church heading soon to Rome to select the next pope. One of them, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony…is lucky not to be in prison, for there is no dispute that he orchestrated what amounted to a cover-up of clerical sexual abuse in Los Angeles…the scale of the misdeeds in Los Angeles, the largest archdiocese in the United States, counts as a particular disgrace. And it is Cardinal Mahony, who resigned as archbishop two years ago, who oversaw the whole dirty business. For that he has been publicly censured by his successor.”

In response to his public rebuke, Cardinal Mahony, who has a master’s degree in social work, wrote that nothing in his training had alerted him to the risks involved in the sexual abuse of minors. How about common sense, respect for the law and a basic understanding of human beings?”

And, for the last word on this issue (for today’s thread, anyway), here’s Andy Borowitz.

This is our Open Thread. Your thoughts?

The Watering Hole, Friday, February 1, 2013; The GOP and its “Stupid” Theocratic Politics

“We must stop being the stupid party.” So spoke Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) on January 24, 2013, in his remarks to party members attending the Republican National Committee’s Winter Meeting. He didn’t really elaborate, however, on what he meant by “stupid.” Meanwhile, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) similarly said, to his Republican cohorts, “We have to be smart. We have to show prudence.” He did not, of course, elaborate on what he meant by “smart” or “prudence.” So business as usual continues. The GOP moves ever further to the right, and even as they constantly rant about “liberalism” and the “big government” which “tramples on the rights of the individual,” they, the far right wing, continue in unrelenting fashion their attempts to impose government control over abortion rights, contraception, and of course homosexuality and the ‘right’ of same sex couples to enjoy the legal benefits of marriage. Even such a (formerly) cut-and-dried discipline as public school science education has come under political attack driven by the tomes of “creationism” vs. evolution, the age of the earth, and myriad additional nonsensical (read: Biblical) interpretations of reality.

Religion — “Christian” fundamentalist evangelicalism — has become the driving force behind one of America’s two major political entities, a force which these days focuses the GOP’s politic in an ever-more-bizarre (and, one might logically argue, unconstitutional) fashion. Why ‘unconstitutional’? Consider:

Article VI, Clause 3 of the US Constitution states, with unabashed clarity (my emphasis), that:

 . . . no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

The First Amendment begins with these words:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .

Those are the only two spots in the entire Constitution where the words “religion” or “religious” appear. The word “God” is nowhere to be found, including even in the oath of office which the President is ordained to swear — there is no ‘so help me God’ at the end of the oath, and no demand that a hand be placed on a Bible during the swear-in process [see Article II, Section 1, Clause 8]. Likewise, the words “Holy,” “Bible,” “Christ,” and “Christian,” along with any other variation(s) thereof, are each and all conspicuously absent, as is “Jesus.” The word “Lord” appears once only, in Article VII, though certainly not in a boldly ‘religious’ context:

Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven . . .

That’s it. The Framers’ obvious intent remains crystal clear: religion has NO PLACE in the government of the United States. Period. And while it’s obvious that each and every one of we the people have the stated right to practice whichever belief or non-belief happens to appeal, nevertheless “Congress shall make NO LAW . . .” that imposes ANY religious belief or practice on ANYONE, and NO RELIGIOUS TEST shall ever be required . . .”  Period.

One can only wonder just what it is about the Constitution that today’s Republican Party, particularly the Wingnut/Teabagger portion, has such difficulty comprehending. In just the last few years, Republicans in the House of Representatives have proposed bill after bill after bill (and yes, I’ve lost track of exactly how many), each of which attacks a woman’s constitutional (reproductive) rights as enumerated in the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Wingnuts have apparently concluded, via their own religious bias/insanity, that a fertilized egg is a “person” and that, as such, it enjoys the same official Constitutional “protection” as does any American corporation (something a birthed child, especially one with brown skin, apparently deserves far less of, for whatever ‘reason’). Then there’s the anti-gay marriage clique, those who believe (again, via only their own religious bias and insanity) that to so allow such love to flourish in normal fashion will force the demise of ‘regular’ marriage, and perhaps cause national collapse as well. And, as was recently announced in Arizona, various members of the state legislature (Republicans, of course) have introduced a bill which, if passed and enacted, could well deny the right of atheist or non-theist high school students to receive a diploma upon graduation. And in New Mexico, a (Republican) state rep. is introducing legislation that won’t disallow abortion, but will make criminals of doctors who perform any pregnancy termination procedures.

It’s reasonable to presume that each and all such bills, if/when enacted, would quickly be declared unconstitutional. That being the case, the logical question becomes: why is it that the same political party which works so diligently to enact unconstitutional laws continues to so freely toss the “unconstitutional” epithet at what are generally recognized to be reasonable programs? What could possibly be wrong, in other words, with such diverse concepts as national health care, gay rights, science taught in public schools, even a potential assault weapons ban?

Their childlike answers have Biblical roots. First of all, you see, America IS a Christian nation. Obviously. The words “All men are . . . endowed by their Creator” ARE in the Declaration of Independence, right? And since the Founders used those words it of course means they were each and all Christian. Also, we know they were white. Men. White, Christian, men. America is a white Christian nation, endowed by its Creator. God. Means it’s based on the Bible which is the word of God. In the Bible God says homosexuality is an abomination; also He says “Thou shalt not kill.” Means gay marriage, contraception, and abortion are all unconstitutional because, see, the First Amendment says that  “Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise of religion, and therefore the legalization of gay marriage (the celebration of an abomination), along with contraception and/or abortion (both of which ‘kill’ the products of conception), are all clear violations of the Constitution because they prohibit the free exercise of the Christian faith. Unconstitutional. So is teaching science, because when science says the earth is more than 6000 years old and when science supports the theory of evolution instead of the fact! of creation, and especially when science says global warming is real and caused by humans, science is prohibiting the free exercise of religion because true Christians don’t believe any of that nonsense! Science ‘education’ is — therefore, thereby, and obviously — unconstitutional.

Texas Public Schools have, however, solved the science dilemma and on that basis, could one day end up as our national Constitutional model! Because in Texas, children are taught the truth, that the Bible gives scientific proof that the Earth is 6,000 years old. They’re also taught “that the origins of racial diversity trace back to a curse. . .” [read: BROWN SKIN!] “. . . placed on Noah’s son, and that astronauts have discovered ‘a day missing in space’ that corroborates biblical stories of the sun standing still.”  That’s Constitutional, see, because it does NOT violate the First Amendment by prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

Most bizarre of all might be, however, the premise, as stated by David “The French Guide to American Faith, Politics and Culture” French, that “It is quite clear that God has not merely sanctioned the right of self defense but has explicitly approved even the use of deadly force to protect human life.” In other words (and as French “proves” via constant Biblical verse-by-verse citation), the Great God in Heaven has granted humans the right to kill each and every creature that might appear to be a threat, and the Second Amendment’s “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” clause guarantees the (God-given) right of any individual to own the tools to do just that. Therefore, to ban assault weapons would not only violate the Second Amendment, it probably also violates the First Amendment by prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

All. Perfect. Bullshit.

In any case, the immediate question still looms: whereto from here? Right wing theocracy, or a return to a democratic Constitutional Republic? Will the “stupid party” ever become “smart” and/or demonstrate reasonable “prudence”? Based on events and attitudes asserted thus far (including even those expressed in the days and weeks since their resounding electoral defeat last November), it surely doesn’t appear that way. If we assume they have no intent of changing, of returning to the reasonable stature of, say, the Eisenhower-style Republicanism of the 1950’s, what are the implications for the nation as a whole? Will the Republican Party self-destruct, or are there enough fools on the voting docket to once again return them to full power of the state? And if the latter should happen, what then?

This is today’s open thread. Have at it!

The Death of a Nation (a retrospective on the W. Bush era, Part 10: END PAPERS)

The George W. Bush presidency ended on January 20, 2009 with the inauguration of the 44th American President, Barack H. Obama. Hope sprang eternal that times had finally changed, that the American electorate had finally awakened from the fog of its deep sleep, that a new era had indeed finally dawned. Unfortunately, such was not to prove the case. The Republican Party immediately went on the defensive and vowed, essentially, to use every last shred of their power, their influence, to cause Obama to fail . . . the more miserable the failure, the better. It was an act of national disloyalty, perhaps bordering even on treason, the likes of which no living American had ever seen, much less pondered. And while Obama did manage to implement a few meaningful projects and programs in his first couple of years, the Republicans were, by and large, successful in their opposition.

Then, in 2010, the Supreme Court issued its decision in the Citizens United case and declared, in effect, that corporations were ‘people’ with all attendant rights and privileges. Days later, the final purchase of the government by private funds began in earnest. In November of 2010, the small Democratic majority in the House of Representatives was overturned, and the filibuster-resistant Democratic majority in the Senate was reduced sufficiently to virtually guarantee that no significant legislation could be passed for at least the balance of Obama’s first (and, in the hopeful eyes of the GOP, his ONLY) four year term.

Today, the processes implicit in the Death of a Nation continue to accelerate without pause as we again stand on the edge of an electoral abyss not at all dissimilar to those of 2000 and 2004. The current Romney-Ryan Republican ticket supports without hesitation or critique virtually each and all of the nonsensical policies of George W. Bush, including unlimited aggressive war, the destruction/elimination of every vestige of the social safety net, the eternal task of improving the financial status of the extremely rich at the expense of everyone else, and state level imposition of whichever manner of voter suppression or voter fraud might be required to guarantee for all time an enduring Fascist-theocracy (aka ‘conservative’ Republican) style of American “governance”, the Constitution be damned.

The bottom line is simple: tomorrow — Tuesday, November 6 2012 — we shall learn, finally and for certain, the precise percentage of mental incompetence which has come to define the American  electorate.

Meanwhile, below are a few closing comments alongside a wealth of quotations on the matter of national death and its consequences. From Gandhi to John Denver with plenty of George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler (among numerous others) in between, a summation lurks.

**********

End Papers
(April, 2005)

The United States of America clearly stands on the precipice, on the very edge of a deep and dark chasm in which lie the ruins of those who have come before us, now forever gone.  On previous pages here, we have (barely) skimmed the essences of America’s current dilemma and made some note of current players, agendas, and the realities their combination have so far imposed. Others, too, have watched these same forces at work and have added their comments.  Perhaps a review of a few – in no particular order – can assist in clarifying the moment by looking at opinions, past and present, which have bearing on what has been and what is now, in order to help predict what might yet come our way.  To some, the list may seem long, but they should rest assured it is exhaustingly abbreviated and is by no means complete – yet its words paint a picture, a frightening picture.  Read on, that which others have said; I shall add a brief comment at the end. Continue reading