The Ten Commandments Resurface as the Personhood Amendment

Dec 31 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Take a good look: this is the Constitution of the future

Okay, I admit this is really not news. The entire Christian fundamentalist movement(s) has as its goal “restoring” a Biblical society that never existed and basically turning back the clock to the “good old days” when the Church could punish with fiery death anyone who disagreed with it.

What the AFA has done is to promote a comprehensive agenda for this return. Supporters call it a “Personhood Amendment” which is a very positive-sounding name for something that is positively medieval in construction and intent. After all, these Christofascists aren’t really all that interested in persons if they’re gay, or Muslim, or pagan, or feminist. A lot of people, if the AFA and its cohorts on the religious right had its way, would lose their personhood.

The personhood amendment was already tried in Colorado. Amendment 62, “would have banned abortion, many forms of birth control and embryonic stem cell research in the state.”

They have managed to get the Personhood Amendment on the ballot in Mississippi for 2011 to coincide with the gubernatorial elections. According to realitycheck.org, “two prior efforts in 2005 and 2007 failed to win enough support to get the question before voters.” It reads as follows:

Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Mississippi: SECTION 1. Article III of the constitution of the state of Mississippi is hearby amended BY THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION TO READ: Section 33. Person defined. As used in this Article III of the state constitution, “The term ‘person’ or ‘persons’ shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.” This initiative shall not require any additional revenue for implementation.

One problem is that the state’s Constitution doesn’t allow voter referendums to alter the Bill of Rights (maybe they should start calling it the Bill of Restrictions – or better, the Ten Commandments). Not at all certain how they intend to get through that except by pulling a “Dubya” and simply ignoring the Constitution. One happy coincidence for these medieval advocates: the American Family Association (AFA) is headquartered in Mississippi.

Matt Friedeman of the AFA’s American Family Radio said that if the proposal succeeds in 2011, he hopes it would lead the way to the criminalization of abortion across the country:

“So what we’re hoping for here is that one of these initiatives will be taken all the way to the Supreme Court and they’ll have to decide at that point what to do with it. And hopefully at that juncture we have a pro-life majority, and you never know from year to year to year what’s gonna happen there, but we hope we have a pro-life majority and we hope the day comes when Roe v. Wade is wiped off the books and we can go back to the states. Maybe even, if God would allow, to get a pro-life amendment for the whole country.”


Bryan Fischer used the opportunity to push his usual violations of the Constitution and his vision of a medieval-style theocracy:

“One of the things we look for from our political leaders is we want to see them work to align the public policy of our country with the standards of the word of God, that’s what we want, we want an alignment. We’re not talking about a theocracy where the clergy rules this country; we’re talking about statesmen, both men and women, who are committed as a matter of moral conviction to align the public policy of the United States with the word of God.”


This is not just a move to ban abortion and overturn Roe vs. Wade but an attack on science and on the Constitution. It is also a violation of the Constitution because it promotes the viewpoint of a specific religion. It is the insistence at the heart of these amendments that a Christian viewpoint be the only relevant viewpoint that is the most objectionable. Most of these people, if polled, would likely react violently to any suggestion that Islamic principles govern the process; so why should Christian principles be seen as any less objectionable?
If you go to a site like personhood.net you find the following rationale:

Throughout the history of the Church the doctrinal teaching of the “Sanctity of Life” (Genesis 1:26-27) has been the belief that Man is created Imago Dei (Latin: in the image of God) and therefore has worth at all stages of life. This is the bedrock of Western civilization’s understanding and practice of human dignity.

Besides being misleading (human life was valued before Christianity) the statement is also demonstrably false. Christians slaughtered human beings of all ages with happy abandon for nearly 2000 years before the European Enlightenment freed the Western World of some of the Church’s darker practices – big killers too, like crusades, inquisitions, and witch-burnings – you know,  real pro-life activities.

Les Riely, sponsor of the Mississippi amendment, revealingly says,

Isaiah 59 tells us that ,’ the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear’ so we first give all praise and honor to our Lord Jesus Christ for hearing our prayers and giving us the victory in this round.

It’s Jesus this, Jesus that. Jesus isn’t in the Constitution. Neither is Christianity, neither are the Ten Commandments.

It’s a little late now to try to convince us you really do value life. Did you really have to kill millions to make that point? If all life is sacred, why do women have to die to save a fetus if her life is endangered by her pregnancy? That would have been the effect of the “life-loving” Colorado amendment.

There is no reason at all once you cast aside Christian insistence on being considered “True Religion” and the concomitant assertion that only their viewpoint is valid, which is exactly the determination government is not permitted to make according to the Constitution.

It is not as if Christians are being told they cannot be Christians, or hold firm to their religious convictions. No one is forcing Christians to have sex outside of marriage, or to have abortions, or to marry a person of the same sex, or to accept stem cell treatment. If you don’t believe it’s right, don’t do it. You have that right. But you positively do not have the right to force these beliefs on others by legislating them into law. The Constitution forbids this. The Constitution is about granting and defending rights; the Ten Commandments are about restricting them. Let’s not confuse them.

19 responses so far

Why Progressives are Wrong About Julian Assange

Dec 23 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues

Since when is the definition for somebody who opposes rape “radical feminist”? Wouldn’t a better and far more accurate term be “decent human being”?

I think so. But that seems to be the consensus among progressives : that those who attack Australian-born whistle-blower Julian Assange are radical feminists, and I suppose by definition then, not really progressives, as if you can’t be both.

And I think a great divide has been exposed by the controversy surrounding the accusations laid against Julian Assange – namely, rape.

The divide I am talking about is that between politics and morality. You can like someone’s politics without approving of their behavior and one should not be tied to the other. When you start to defend somebody’s behavior because you like their politics, it’s difficult to tell whether the tail is not wagging the dog.

Progressives see Assange as a hero. Many of them have ended up siding with him at the expense of the woman he is said to have raped, and by extension, all women. All the old excuses have resurfaced: why did she stay with him, why didn’t she report him, blah, blah, blah. It could not have, given those things, been rape.

As it happens, the left has been split by this situation. Feminists are now at odds with progressives, and rightly so.

Rape is wrong. Period.

Being a counter-culture hero does not excuse it.

For people to whom Assange is a hero there is no limit to suspicion and paranoia. Is it a CIA plot? Are the rape charges coming to light merely in response to his work with WikiLeaks? The timing is suspicious. Michael Moore has defended Assange – he even put up $20,000 in bail money and said the rape inquiry was “stink[ing] to the high heavens”:

This whole thing stinks to the high heavens…. They go after people with this kind of lie and smear…. What they say he did… his condom broke during consensual sex; that is not a crime in Britain. This is all a bunch of hooey, as far as I’m concerned. The man has at least a right to be out of prison while awaiting his hearing.

Keith Olbermann has too, making clear that he also questioned the charges; he even suspended his Twitter account because of the outrage over his interview with Moore. Both are progressives. Both are themselves heroes to many.

Some have called Olbermann’s apology (made 15 hours before suspending his account) a non-apology:

Rape has touched my family, directly and savagely, and if anybody thinks I have addressed it without full sensitivity, then that assessment is the one that counts, and I apologize. But these accusations that I “revealed” an accuser’s identity by retweeting Bianca Jagger’s link, or that I ‘shamed’ an accuser by asking a question about the prosecution of a man governments are trying to bury, or that I do not ‘understand’ charges that have yet to be presented in their final form, reflect exactly the kind of rushing to judgment of which I’m accused, and merit the same kind of apology I have just given.

The sense of it seems to be that rape isn’t really important as long as Assange is engaged in what is seen by progressives as very important work in exposing government lies and cover-ups.

One has to wonder how they would feel if we were talking about their sisters and daughters. Would politics still trump morality?

Tigerbeatdown.com has led the charge against Moore, accusing him of “rape apologism” and I cannot argue with the reasoning. I am more than a little disappointed that progressives can’t seem to separate two very different issues, exposing government secrets and raping women.

If the right-wing often seems unaware of moral standards and ethics, it now seems the left-wing has no moral high ground to stand upon when they utter their denunciations. This, to me, is just another symptom of ideology run amok.

I for one will not marry my morality to ideology. Praise Assange if you feel you must for exposing government secrets but condemn him for rape if he is guilty instead of making defenses for his behavior based on your support of his politics. The two have nothing to do with one another.

Anyone accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty but right now I would no more trust a jury of progressives to look dispassionately at the case than I would a jury of conservatives.

Are political centrists the only sane people left on the planet?

Finally, I wanted to say a word about attacks and criticisms leveled here against PoliticusUSA’s Sarah Jones, a fellow writer and editor. I am astounded that a charge of “feminist” (as a pejorative no less!) immediately attaches itself to her and moreover, invalidates any points made, however sound the logic. It is as if feminism is a poison pill that automatically kills any argument made, but neither conservative Ultra Patriotism™ nor Progressive hero-worship bear the same stigma. Why is feminism to be discounted, but no other bias, if indeed feminism is a bias?

Why are so many people afraid of feminism? Indeed, why are so many people willing to kill mothers for the sake of fetuses and to let women be raped for the sake of heroism in exposing government secrets? I confess I don’t understand. Why does one thing become irrelevant because of another? Does right or wrong change as a matter of convenience? Does it sometimes apply, and sometimes not? Is it now one thing, and now another?

In the end, there are those who will devalue Assange no matter what because of what he has done politically and there are those who would overvalue him for what he has done politically, as though that has anything to do with what he might have done to a woman. I am not going to argue the rights and wrongs of WikiLeaks because it is irrelevant to the discussion. We must look at the two issues as being completely separate because they are two separate issues. It’s a shame that so many progressives and conservatives seem unable to see the forest for the trees.

25 responses so far

Debunking the Conservative Myth of American Exceptionalism

Dec 15 2010 Published by under Issues

Many Republicans and Tea Party groups are of the misguided opinion that America has the right to do whatever it chooses in the world and that the choices it does make are perfect. Although America is a great country and one of the world’s super-powers, it does not always make the right decisions and is not exceptional. The phrase “American exceptionalism” is thrown around continuously by conservatives who believe that America is without fault, and it leads to discriminatory policies abroad and here at home.

America’s standing in the world is waning, and it can be blamed on its imperialistic policy of preemptive wars, regime change, and unwarranted feelings of superiority. After the terror attacks on 9/11, America enjoyed nearly universal support from every country in the world, but the policies of George W. Bush eroded that support to the point that America became hated by its allies as well as its enemies.

Those who claim American exceptionalism are deluded to think that anything America does is good, and their belief that the entire world should bow down and worship the United States regardless the destruction and damage we cause is completely wrong. At least President Obama has improved America’s standing in the world by admitting we have made mistakes, but it brought nothing but criticism from pundits and politicians on the right who derided him for not claiming our superiority.

So the question must be; just exactly how are we superior or exceptional? If we are discussing military might, then yes, America is superior. We spend more on defense than all other industrialized countries combined, including our allies, and we have military bases in more countries than any other nation.  It is worth noting that part of the reason there is suspicion and hard feelings toward America is our military presence and inclination to bomb first and ask questions later. Having a superior military is good for our national defense, but our military is not purely for defense, and coupled with the American exceptionalism meme, is a cause for mistrust and in many instances, hatred.

Here at home we are not so exceptional, and in most cases, are far behind the rest of the world. America’s infrastructure is crumbling and compared to industrialized countries, we are falling behind in every aspect. The highway system in this country is woefully inadequate and in disrepair to the point that in many cities, they automatically pay repair claims for broken suspension on cars that cannot avoid the potholes. Although repairing the country’s infrastructure would create millions of jobs, Republicans block legislation to fund infrastructure repairs.

America’s mass transit system is non-existent, and in the major metropolitan areas where there is mass transit, it is behind the times with no relief or improvement in sight. America has not had any significant infrastructure improvements in recent memory. In fact, it was during the Eisenhower era that the Interstate Highway system was built and the tax rate for the wealthiest Americans was approximately 90%. During that time, the middle class was created and even with high tax rates for the wealthy, rich people got much richer.

If America is exceptional, why is our health care system ranked 37th in the world, and why is the mortality rate among infants so high? Americans are fatter, sicker, and less emotionally stable than most other industrialized countries in spite of being so well off. America is exceptional in that many in the population don’t believe every citizen deserves affordable health care. Only in America is decent health care considered a privilege instead of a right, and if that makes America exceptional, we are worse off than it seems. The ideas and policies that made America exceptional through the years were the product of liberal and progressive minds.

There are myriad reasons why America is not exceptional, and it boils down to one problem; conservatives. Republicans have made it their life’s work to champion corporatism and breaks for the rich, while ignoring or rejecting programs that would make America competitive in the race for decency. It doesn’t matter what issue comes up, if it doesn’t favor and enrich corporations or the rich, conservatives are against it.

In that sense, America is exceptional. Exceptional for placing the welfare of the wealthy and corporations ahead of the people and it is never more evident than now. It is well-known that Americans are poorer, unhealthy, and hopeless because Republicans refuse to work for their interests.

There are Republicans who are against the tax cut deal President Obama brokered with Republican leaders because they want the wealthy tax cuts made permanent and they hate the fact that unemployment benefits were extended. America is not exceptional; Republicans are exceptional for their contempt for voters, minorities, LGBT, and the poor. They are also exceptional for claiming to support the troops but refusing to aid them after their service.

Around the world people who used to claim America was the land of opportunity and a great place to prosper are in the minority because of the information age. However, there is more ridicule about America’s greatness because of the rise of bizarre personalities and fake news organizations that are little more than third rate entertainers who are most responsible for pushing the American exceptionalism meme.

America’s days as the leading superpower are numbered because Republicans and conservatives in general have gutted the middle class and handed the reins of power to corporations. As the country falls farther behind the rest of the world in every category except military might, what was exceptional about America is now a national embarrassment and conservatives are to blame. The Republican Party will go down in history as being exceptional in their ability to destroy the country with the most powerful military in history. Exceptional indeed!

5 responses so far

The Right’s False Patriotism: American ≠ Israeli

Dec 14 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Confused some?

I’m an American. A citizen of the United States. When I sing, “My country ‘tis of thee…” I’m singing about that country. When I “pledge allegiance to the flag…” the flag I am talking about has thirteen red and white stripes and a blue rectangle with fifty little white stars. It does not have a blue Star of David on a white background, between two horizontal blue stripes. My national anthem speaks to the American flag in glorious poetry, composed when it was under attack by an invader: “O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

Notice that it was not an Israeli flag flying over Fort McHenry that day.

I’m an American. Like most people, I love my country. And like most people, I’m willing to complain about it when things don’t seem quite right. When my leaders make mistakes or break laws. “My country right or wrong” is true only in a sense, that sense being that I would not betray my country simply because it did something I don’t approve of, say like invading a sovereign nation for no legitimate reason whatsoever, but rather for political gain. My country made a mistake, but I still love my country.

I can criticize my country when it does wrong; I can also apologize for it when it does wrong, as it did repeatedly for eight years of the Bush administration. I’m not sure I can ever apologize enough for that.

American Exceptionalism is the poisonously radical nationalism of the 19th century all over again. It identifies my country with the god of a specific pantheon and credits not only its creation but it’s survival and prosperity with that god, and so of course, any complaining or criticism is taken as an attack not only on the country (really, the country’s policies) but on that god. It’s that same old ancient trick used in the days of state-sponsored religion known as the divine right of kings. If the king is chosen by god he can’t possibly ever be wrong, can he? Well, neither, it seems, can a country chosen by god.

But I’m here to tell you: if God chose Bush, he made a mistake. I mean, he blew it big time. Let’s make no bones about it.

All this might seem bad enough, but I want to get back to the issue of the flag here for a minute. As I said, there is no Star of David on my flag. I owe no pledge of allegiance to that flag, any more than I do the Union Jack or the tricolor. I don’t sing about their flags in my national anthem. I don’t pay them taxes. They supply me with no essential services. Their soldiers do not stand on a wall to ensure that I can sleep safely at night.

Why did Sarah Palin keep an Israeli flag in her governor’s office in Juneau? She needed an American flag and an Alaskan flag. Didn’t her governor’s obligations stop there?

Why is it that Americans are expected to express loyalty to another country? You can see how bonds of friendship, such as those which exist between the U.S. and Great Britain might be a good thing for both, and none have been tighter since the Second World War, but nobody is expecting me to say, “Great Britain right or wrong!” But that is precisely what they want me to do for Israel.

Israel right or wrong?

In case you hadn’t clued in yet, I’m an American.

Not only do I have the right to criticize my own country, but I have the right to criticize others.

The problem, while frustrating enough for me, a Pagan, is far worse for American Jews. Roger Cohen wrote in the New York Times about ‘[t]he view that American Jews supportive of Israel but critical of its policies are not “real Jews”.’ As he points out,

Israel-right-or-wrong continues to be the core approach of major U.S. Jewish organizations, from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac) to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Cohen writes that Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of the progressively-oriented organization called J Street, told him:  “These organizations’ view remains essentially that any time you engage in an activity critical of Israel you are trying to destroy the state of Israel.” Fundamentalist Christians take the same attitude in this country, that to criticize Israel is to seek its destruction, simple criticism labeling you a “terrorist” or “terrorist supporter.”

Sounds familiar doesn’t it? We non-Jewish Americans have heard all that and had it directed at us, often enough when criticizing Republican policies.

Christian fundamentalists (Christofascists) have criticized Obama for not being “Christian enough” – a euphemism for “not being the right kind of Christian” (their kind) and they have criticized him for not defending Israel enough, missing somehow the point that Obama was elected president of the United States to defend Americans – like me. I didn’t vote for him to put my interests – my safety – behind those of another country.

And we are two different countries. I can understand being torn if you have dual citizenship, but 99.99% of Americans don’t have Israeli citizenship. I damn sure have a right to criticize Israel’s policies and I’m not going to lose any sleep doing so. But the problem is a real one and it has the potential to affect millions of lives. As Cohen points out,

President Barack Obama had virtually no domestic constituency for his attempt to denounce the continued growth of settlements as unacceptable and as undermining a two-state peace at its core: land.

Obama was left dangling, more so after the midterms, and had to retreat. This is not merely a failure of the parties. It is a failure of U.S. politics and the way those politics are straitjacketed by an Israel-right-or-wrong mantra that leads inexorably, over time, to one state with more Arabs in it than Jews.

Israel, it seems, is more important to some Americans than America is.

Cohen relates how Ira Strup, a Columbia graduate who experienced the effects of this mantra while performing a one-year fellowship based in Tel Aviv, asked, “Why is it poisoning minds to encourage them to think critically about the actions of the Israeli government?”

Why indeed? The real poison is not the willingness to criticize, but ideology that suppresses all questioning, the poison of nationalism – the poison of a twisted American or Zionist Exceptionalism that demands utter and unquestioning devotion. That might be a reasonable request in a theocracy, or even within a religion, but it has no place in the diversity and pluralism of a modern liberal democracy such as the United States, or, supposedly, Israel. It might have a place in the Old Testament, but it has no place in the Constitution. And the Constitution, not the Old Testament, is the founding document of the country I love, the country I am free to criticize.

The Constitution nowhere demands a religious test. It nowhere demands loyalty to any country other than the United States.

I would cordially suggest, therefore, to those who hold to that mantra that they emigrate to Israel, where they can “rah rah” all they want to a flag with a blue Star of David on a white field between two horizontal blue stripes, kibbutzing with radical Zionists on the West Bank. I, meanwhile, will live in my country under my flag with thirteen red and white stripes and a blue rectangle with fifty little white stars.

I will continue to be critical of, but continue express my love for – just as I would my own children – its actions when they are disappointing. For that is real love; not the “right or wrong” type of devotion that has become not love, but a twisted obsession.

18 responses so far

Republicanism Kills History on Contact

Dec 04 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Republicans are fond of describing liberalism as a disease of some sort which infects the body politic, weakening it and eventually, destroying it. You’ll find this on countless conservative websites and blogs. You will find it on the racist white supremacist site Stormfront. This is no coincidence. You can Google it (feel free to take some time to laugh, or perhaps to cry).

The truth of course seems to be rather the opposite. Liberalism, the idea of liberty, the endorsement of the idea that people possess certain inalienable rights – natural rights – is a development of the European Enlightenment. Liberalism freed Europe from the Dark Ages and from the horrors of state sponsored religion, from inquisitions, holy wars and witch burnings.

Before liberalism, it was impossible to talk about individual human rights.

Disease?

No. Liberalism is not the disease. It is the cure.

Republicans hold that universities are places of evil because they are liberal-leaning – meaning students are not properly indoctrinated per Texas School Board Standards.  Academics are obviously as ill-thought of as under various totalitarian regimes – Communism and Nazism come to mind. In this anti-intellectual atmosphere, education is a weakness and people with book learning are, in a monumental display of insecurity, to be despised and feared.

Any of us who have cited our sources in our writing have experienced the reaction, generally an infantile rejection along the lines of “you’re childish!” – a remarkable claim from people who apparently can’t think without being told what to think. The poster of Reagan shown above is really rather ironic. Conservatives really don’t believe in common sense.

Remember, modern Republicanism, wedded to Christian fundamentalism (Christofascism), endorses the idea that choice is heresy (and yes, that’s the meaning of the word heresy – choice). If common sense and choice entered into it, it is difficult to believe so many Republicans would say the absurd things they say, let alone believe them.

Speaking of absurdities (and childishness), you can’t go far down that road without Glenn Beck’s name coming up.

Media Matters for America presents a truly remarkable example of Republicanism’s historical revisionism. Glenn Beck has become obsessed with historical parallels, mostly recently with the Roman Empire. He fancies himself a student of history (much like Newt Gingrich, I suppose) but he shows the understanding one would expect of somebody who got their history from comic books.

Glenn Beck Invents Roman History

Some of Beck’s mischaracterizations:

  • Beck Points To Beginning of Roman Empire As Example Of “What’s Happening To Us”
  • Beck Ignores Years Of Slaughter To Claim Octavian Rose To Emperor “Without Violence”
  • Beck Misleadingly Claims Roman Republic Was Characterized By “Freedom”
  • Beck Incorrectly Claims That First Emperor Of Rome “Refused To Be Called Caesar”
  • Ignoring Caesar, Beck Calls Octavian “The Last Guy Of The Republic”

If you know any Roman history you are now pulling your jaw up off the floor. Neither Hollywood nor Television are famed for their faithfulness to the historical record, but even the HBO miniseries Rome got history better than Beck. In fact, it is difficult to imagine getting history more wrong.

There are a great many lessons to be learned from history, but as philosopher Georg Hegel observed, “What experience and history teach is this – that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it” (Philosophy of History, 1832). We can add Glenn Beck and the Republican Party to this list.

But then, we are talking about principles here.

It might seem remarkable that a person who occupies such a public position as Beck would not bother to check his facts, but then Beck knows his audience – his audience won’t fact check. They listen avidly, feverishly, hanging on every word – and believe all of them. They have had their Republican-approved history lesson and they will all feel the required levels of righteous anger at the evil liberals who have brought low the American Republic.

It doesn’t matter that the evidence speaks to the opposite conclusion because they won’t be checking the evidence either.

Beck, like other Republicans, have fabricated a history more congenial to Republican ideology. Real history – that is, the actual facts of the past 2,000 years, are inconvenient – Stephen Colbert’s reality has a liberal bias lament. Since the real history won’t do, a new one must replace it. History books must be re-written in the same way the Communists and the Nazis rewrote the history books. History must be understood from an ideological perspective. The problem is, history does not survive contact with ideology. If you invent the history, what can you learn from it?

Nothing.

You can justify what you have done, but what you have done is in ignorance or defiance of the past and its lessons. Marx’s demonstrably false claim that “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” (The Communist Manifesto, 1847) comes to mind.  Demonstrably false, yes. Yet millions died for that demonstrably false claim.

If the Republican revision of history runs its course, millions more might die from their demonstrably false claims. Bush made a good start in Iraq. Other Republicans want to continue to pogrom in Iran or North Korea. And they kinda like the idea of state-sponsored religion too. It’s no accident that the only vice-presidential candidate to have a witch hunter for a pastor is Sarah Palin.

Ironically, given Beck’s complete disregard for Roman history, it was a Roman historian who said it best: “The knowledge gained from history is the truest education and training for political action” (Polybius, The Histories).

It’s a shame Republicans seem aware of this, and would rather do whatever they want and then re-write the history books to justify it because they’re not the only ones who will pay the price of their ignorance.

6 responses so far

In the name of Reagan: The Conservative War On The Working Class

Dec 02 2010 Published by under Featured News

Republicans lionize Ronald Reagan, and in the older, white population, the dead president is a god who deserves to have his head on Mt. Rushmore. Sarah Palin channels Reagan and her supporters speak of her as being the new Ronald Reagan. It is typical of conservatives to worship a president who hurt the economy, set labor relations and unions back 40 years, and caused untold damage to the environment by destroying regulations.

Republicans still think of Reagan as the gun slinging cowboy who rode in and cleaned up the frontier, or the war hero who single handedly stormed up a hill and took out a battalion of Nazis. Regardless the image old white people have of Reagan; he was just an actor, and a bad president whose policies were controlled by banks and corporations.

Reagan’s policies strike a chord with conservatives because he championed state’s rights and portrayed the Federal government as intrusive and harmful. His famous slogan that Republicans go wild over is, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” It conveys the conservative meme that government hinders and intrudes on an individual’s right to conduct business, but in reality it was to garner support for deregulating financial institutions and corporations so they could make unrestricted profits; much like the Republican Party is doing now.

Reagan’s “supply side economics” is the trickle-down theory, and Republicans are using that notion as an argument for extending the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Although the trickle-down theory never panned out, Republicans still argue that Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy will create jobs, although in the last 10 years, nothing has trickled down and few jobs were created.

Much like current GOP policies, Reagan killed unions at the behest of corporations and it has proven costly to mine workers in West Virginia. In 1984-85 Reagan gave full support to Massey Energy to break the union along with the help of the State Police who were friends of the mine owner. In 1981, Reagan fired 11,345 striking air traffic controllers and banned them from federal service for life (President Clinton lifted the ban in 1993). The air traffic controllers went on strike for better working conditions and a shorter work week due to the stress inherent with their jobs. Reagan also attempted to lower the minimum wage and relax child worker laws so corporations could make higher profits.

When Reagan was governor in California, he put thousands of mentally ill patients on the streets when he shut down the State Hospital system. Many of California’s homeless population today are mentally ill patients that Reagan abandoned when he closed the mental hospitals.

Although Reagan was the epitome of Conservatism who most Republicans refer to as their presidential ideal, he would be chastised by teabaggers and hard-right conservatives in 2010. Reagan made a blanket invitation to immigrants to come to America, and boasted; “Only in America can a foreigner move here and become a citizen.” Republicans have made an issue out of immigration and want to repeal the 14th Amendment that guarantees birthright citizenship leaving one to ponder; which Ronald Reagan do modern conservatives want to model?

Unlike Sarah Palin and hawkish Republicans, Reagan did not think the first step in dealing with foreign powers should be pre-emptive strikes or regime change. Reagan believed in diplomacy and a strong national defense, and wasted a boatload of money developing a missile defense shield dubbed “Star Wars” that never materialized. Reagan’s policy regarding war was, “The only way there could be war is if they start it; we’re not going to start a war,” which is in stark contrast to the Bush Doctrine that so many modern conservatives support.

There is a mixed message from conservatives who on one hand support and idolize Reagan’s small government, laissez-faire attitude for business and corporations, and the immigration friendly, diplomacy-first policies that conservatives hate. Reagan’s king-like legacy is more myth than truth, but nonetheless, conservatives are quick to evoke his name to advance any number of policies whether Reagan would support them or not.

Ronald Reagan was an actor. He played the part of president, but was never in control of his administration. His handlers were leaders of financial institutions and corporations that dictated policy in the form of a script, and Reagan played the role of leader. His only success was in breaking unions and setting in place an economic policy that favored corporations and the rich.

As president, Reagan was a likable, television friendly politician whose folksy, down home mannerisms played well with American voters. His image as a cowboy-sheriff who cleans up the town worked well for his clean up Washington meme, and, as the good guy who will get the government off our backs. But as an effective president who helped the worker and middle-income Americans, he was an abject failure.

It is no wonder that Republicans want to model themselves after Reagan with their disregard for the American worker and the poor follows Reagan-era policies as well as their elevation of corporations to privileged status. Conservatism means holding on to institutions that are near and dear to the heart. For most Republicans, Reagan is a god.  But for ordinary working people, he was a disaster whose policies are still wreaking havoc on America, and true to form, modern conservatives want to keep his legacy alive by continuing his America-busting policies.

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Republican Extremists Take Aim at Moderation

Nov 29 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, U.S. Senate

The punch thrown at Lugar by Republicans won't be joking

Through most of history, western culture has recognized the value of moderation and the evils of excess. Robert McCluer Calhoon, University of North Carolina, Greensboro recognizes its origins in the Peloponnesian War in the Fifth Century B.C.E. (Political Moderation in America’s First Two Centuries, 2008). The Icelandic Sagas are full, for example, of such lessons, the positive rewards of moderate behavior and the ills that follow from immoderate behavior. In politics, the success of the American political system has been based not on irreconcilable bickering between polar opposites and ideologues but upon the system of give and take, and compromise, embodied by moderate politicians.

Political moderation balances the extremes; it, not rancorous polarization, that makes the world go around.

Harry Clor (On Moderation: Defending an Ancient Virtue in a Modern World, 2008), points out that critics have argued that “moderate” and “extremist” are “phenomena wholly subjective and situation-bound, utterly dependent upon variable opinions or commitments, circumstances and partisan perceptions of circumstances.” People see moderation as weakness. But as Clor argues, a moderate politician “builds consensus and unifies; he or she seeks agreement across partisan lines and speaks to the people in a nonconfrontational, noninflammatory way intended to be unifying.”

It is obvious that moderation has no place in modern Republican discourse, whose rhetoric is based on confrontational and inflammatory statements, the more outrageous the better.

But moderation is not betrayal of ideology. The Founding Fathers hammered out a Constitution through compromise. None of the authors of the Constitution got everything they wanted. If the minority would have been unwilling, as are modern Republicans, to compromise, it would never have been ratified. We would still be waiting. Compromise was essential. I will argue here that not only bound up with America’s founding but that it is not moderation that is the enemy of a modern liberal democracy, but extremism.

The Republican Party’s purity standards do not allow for moderation in approaches to America’s problems. The “take no prisoners” approach of Republican victories has morphed into a “scorched earth” leave nothing for the enemy approach in defeat. If they cannot have the country then they will ensure that there is no country left to govern by bringing to a halt any process they disagree with. This goes far beyond filibustering, extending as it does to investigations and inquiries into the behavior of those in power.

It is ironic and troubling that the Republicans accuse the Democrats and President Obama of being extremist ideologues, comparing the president to Hitler and Stalin and the Democrats to Communists and Nazis while themselves evincing all the attributes of these authoritarian political movements.

It is the Republicans, after all, who insist on obedience to ideology, not the Democrats, who embody a far wider range of political views, from moderate to extreme. Finding a moderate Republican these days has become very difficult indeed, and the charge of moderation when laid by the base against a Republican politician is often a kiss of death.

One example of this trend was discussed yesterday in the New York Times: Republican Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana. Lugar is, as the Times reports, “standing against his party on a number of significant issues at a politically dangerous time to do so.” Such a thing is, sadly enough, newsworthy in this day and age, especially with regards a man who has shown himself “A reliable conservative for decades on every issue.”

For his sins (for example, his desire to ratify the START treaty) the Times tells us that,

Mr. Lugar’s recent breaks with his party have stirred the attention of Indiana Tea Party groups, who have him in their sights. “Senator Lugar has been an upstanding citizen representing us in D. C.,” said Diane Hubbard, a spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Tea Party. “But over the years, he has become more moderate in his voting.”

The sin of moderation. Who would have thought?

Even Republicans are shocked and disturbed that a stalwart like Lugar could be targeted.

“If Dick Lugar,” said John C. Danforth, a former Republican senator from Missouri, “having served five terms in the U.S. Senate and being the most respected person in the Senate and the leading authority on foreign policy, is seriously challenged by anybody in the Republican Party, we have gone so far overboard that we are beyond redemption.”

I am reminded by all this of the French Revolution, which began moderately enough and then became more extreme, to the extent that those who began the revolution became its victims, and moderation the enemy. Even a radical liberal like Thomas Paine found himself arrested, the same Thomas Paine who had defended the French Revolution from conservative Edmund Burke (Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790 ) in his Rights of Man (1791). I am reminded also of the McCarthyism of the very conservative 1950s, or going further back, of the witch-hunts of the 17th and previous centuries.

History offers abundant lessons beyond the few I mention here of the dangers of extremism run amok. No one is safe, not even the current guardians of the cause. Anyone can be denounced. Anyone can instantly find themselves a Canaanite, vomited out of the Holy Land.

Enemies and traitors lurk around every corner and even under your bed. Eager to remain in favor, the extremists outdo each other by being ever more extreme.

Clor argues that “‘you cannot get it all’ from any social arrangements, no matter how well conceived” and he is right. As I argued above, the Constitution itself is evidence of this. “Concessions are made and compromises achieved” in Clor’s words. It is difficult to see today where compromise will come from. President Obama tried in 2008 and in the two years since. Nobody is really surprised at this point by his failure. And it is difficult to see how the United States can survive without it.

The world will not stand still for us while we engage in deadlock, and it will be difficult for President Obama to go forward while the Republican House wants to go backward. But we know things can get worse. We know, however much the stimulus helped, that we are not out of the woods yet. We have only to look to Europe, to Greece, to Ireland, to Iceland, to see what a truly collapsed economy looks like. The Republicans seem to be steering us in that direction and anyone who doesn’t jump on board the bandwagon has betrayed the ideals of the revolution.

A world without moderation is a bleak place to contemplate, and probably a worse place to live, as we are all likely to find out unless a Republican Edward R. Murrow reveals himself and say “Enough is enough.”


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Conservative Joe Rehyansky Advocates Corrective Rape for Lesbians

Nov 28 2010 Published by under Featured News

Joe Rehyansky – have you heard of this guy? He’s all over the blogosphere right now for acting like a stereotypical male, you know, the kind who thinks all goodness flows from the tip of his penis (obviously none is flowing out of his head).

Joe’s bio tells us only a little about him:What it doesn’t tell you is that Joe is a conservative unless you’re aware of the National Review as a conservative rag. It wouldn’t be exactly fair to conclude from this that Joe is a whack job, but if you did, well…who am I to tell you that you’re wrong?

Joseph A. Rehyansky is retired from the United States Army and the Chattanooga, Tennessee, District Attorney’s Office. He is a former contributor to National Review whose writings have also appeared in Human Events Online, The American Spectator, and other publications.

Joe wrote a little piece the other day for the Daily Caller called, Don’t hint, don’t wink: An immodest proposal and this is what has attracted the attention.

Joe thinks the lesbians should be allowed to join the military so that they can be raped into changing into good little heterosexuals. Subdue them with the penis, seems to be Joe’s battlecry. Because what lesbian can resist a penis or ten?

Joe is one of those dinosaurs who thinks in the “you people” mindset. I remember Harry Morgan in an episode of MASH best exemplifying this when demanding that a black soldier sing and dance for him because “his people” are good at that. Well Joe can stand toe to toe with that character (who thank the gods was fictional – Joe ain’t):

[M]ost gays are not inclined toward military service, but many lesbians are, and it is an open secret that they do well in the calling, especially in medical and administrative specialties.

I’ve always said that lesbian women are great administrators! Yessir!

But a few penises can take care of that.

In a final argument (now removed by the Daily Caller) Joe gets to the meat (pardon the expression) of his argument:

“My solution would get the distaff part of our homosexual population off our collective ‘Broke Back,’ thus giving straight male GIs a fair shot at converting lesbians and bringing them into the mainstream.”

Joe seems to be advocating subduing lesbians with the penis and through corrective rape bringing them around to the “true religion” of “heterosexuality.”

Honestly, I’m surprised Joe still has a job, but then it’s difficult to be TOO extreme when you’re a conservative these days. In a sense what Joe is saying is not all that new. Misogyny runs rampant in Republican ranks (right alongside racism). Joe just upped the ante a bit by actually advocating not just hating women (and lesbians in particular) but raping them too. Republicans already advocate raping their own wives so maybe they don’t see this as a big departure from their existing belief-system.

The rest of us should be alarmed, however, and the more so since we’re not likely to see this clown condemned on FOX or any other media outlet. Joe Rehyansky is an example of why true, universal tolerance is an impossibility, because there will always be those things that cannot be tolerated, and the conservative hatred of women is bad enough. Advocating mass rape is beyond the pale, and even Republicans ought to recognize this. But you can bet you won’t see Sarah Palin go after Joe Rehyansky; she’s too busy accusing Couric of lacking journalistic ethics by asking her what she reads. Compared to that, how do a few raped lesbians even enter the conversation?

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Bryan Fischer Wants You to Leave Him on the Battlefield

Nov 20 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, White House

"Don't feminize yourself by saving me!"

We’re all familiar with Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person of the Week.” I do something similar on my personal blog,using the old Norse term nithing (ON niðingr).
A nithing is a villain, scoundrel, coward, vile wretch. A nothing could also be a truce-breaker or a traitor. A niðing deed (niðingsverk) is an ill deed, or villainy. A person guilty of this sort of behavior was held in contempt.

This award works from a target rich environment, and it is not always easy to choose a candidate. My front-runner right now is Bryan Fischer, the “Director of Issues Analysis” for the hate group called the American Family Association, who whined, er, um…I mean, “opined”that he didn’t like that President Obama awarded the medal of honor to a soldier who saved lives.

Apparently, saving lives is feminine. Taking lives is masculine, and soldiers should be killing, not saving. We’ll remember that if Mr. Fischer ever finds himself on a battlefield trying to hold his intestines in. “Sorry, it wouldn’t be manly to save you. You understand.”

Given the dearth of women in U.S. combat units (conservatives don’t like them there) it is to be wondered who Mr. Fischer thinks would save him. No self respecting man would. Fischer certainly wouldn’t respect any man who stopped to pull him to safety. “You girlie man!” he would cry, outraged.

What is it, exactly, that this brave soldier did that upset this week’s hatemonger so much?

Sgt. Giunta is awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama

From his Medal of Honor Citation:

While under heavy enemy fire, Specialist Giunta immediately sprinted towards cover and engaged the enemy. Seeing that his squad leader had fallen and believing that he had been injured, Specialist Giunta exposed himself to withering enemy fire and raced towards his squad leader, helped him to cover, and administered medical aid. While administering first aid, enemy fire struck Specialist Giunta’s body armor and his secondary weapon. Without regard to the ongoing fire, Specialist Giunta engaged the enemy before prepping and throwing grenades, using the explosions for cover in order to conceal his position. Attempting to reach additional wounded fellow soldiers who were separated from the squad, Specialist Giunta and his team encountered a barrage of enemy fire that forced them to the ground. The team continued forward and upon reaching the wounded soldiers, Specialist Giunta realized that another soldier was still separated from the element. Specialist Giunta then advanced forward on his own initiative. As he crested the top of a hill, he observed two insurgents carrying away an American soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other. Upon reaching the wounded soldier, he began to provide medical aid, as his squad caught up and provided security.

I don’t know; sounds pretty manly to me. One of just 19 men to ever win two, Tom Custer (brother of the more famous George Armstrong Custer) didn’t win his by slashing through Confederate regiments with gleaming saber.

He was awarded two Medals of Honor for capturing Confederate regimental flags (2nd North Carolina Cavalry flag at Namozine Church on April 3, 1865, and again at Sayler’s Creek on April 6, 1865).

Isn’t handling fabric kind of girlie? I mean, shouldn’t Tom have been killing people instead of stealing their material?

An eyewitness reported:

“Custer crossed the line of temporary works on the flank of the road, where his unit was confronted by a supporting battle-line. In the second line he wrested the colors from an enemy color bearer. Advancing on another standard he received a shot in the face which knocked him back on his horse. Despite his wounds, he continued his assault on the color bearer who began to fall from wounds he had also received. As he fell, the wounded Lieutenant Custer reached out to grasp this second standard of colors, bearing both off in triumph.”

Again, sounds pretty manly to me. How would Mr. Fischer feel about this sort of activity? I mean, being shot in the face isn’t very manly either, is it? After all, as Fischer said in his blog post, “Gen. George Patton once famously said, ‘The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other guy die for his.’”

Yeah, it’s definitely girlie to get shot.

What’s the logic behind all this? According to Fischer, “So the question is this: when are we going to start awarding the Medal of Honor once again for soldiers who kill people and break things so our families can sleep safely at night?”

Saving people, getting shot and killed, none of that helps Mr. Fischer sleep soundly at night. He wants to know that the enemy is being eviscerated.

Naturally, there was some outrage over Fischer’s remarks but that doesn’t phase the old hater. Nossir. Fischer defended himself with the following words:

“The bottom line here is that the God of the Bible clearly honors those who show valor and gallantry in waging aggressive war in a just cause against the enemies of freedom, even while inflicting massive casualties in the process.”

Ya got that, you wannabe heroes like Sgt. Giunta?

“What I’m saying is that it’s time we started imitating God’s example again.” You tell ‘em Mr. Fischer.

“What I am saying is that I am observing a trend in which we single out bravery in self-defense and yet seem hesitant to single out bravery in launching aggressive attacks that result in the deaths of enemy soldiers.”

The key points seem to be these:

  • Kill enemy soldiers
  • Don’t get shot or killed yourself
  • Don’t feminize your comrades by expecting them to rescue you
  • Don’t feminize yourself by rescuing your comrades (or Bryan Fischer)
  • Don’t feminize yourself by worrying about fabrics on the battlefield

“Christianity,” he reminds us, as if multiple crusades, inquisitions and witch burnings are not evidence enough, “is not a religion of pacifism.” Because there’s nothing about loving your enemy or turning the other cheek in your holy book, right, Mr. Fischer? “War is certainly a terrible thing, and should only be waged for the highest and most just of causes. But if the cause is just, then there is great honor in achieving military success, success which should be celebrated and rewarded.”

This is the manly world of Bryan Fischer. Follow these simple rules and you too can be a real genuine American hero.

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The Republican Leopard And the Myth of Conservative Change

Nov 15 2010 Published by under Featured News

The Republicans in Congress are putting on a display of what it means to be conservative, and disenfranchised voters who put them in control of the House are evidence that they indeed want the country going backwards. Either the voters have short memories and have forgotten the Bush policies that put us in the situation we find ourselves, or they truly want the country to fall further into an economic abyss.

The midterm elections were a rejection of Democratic policies that protect working Americans from big business and banking that nearly caused a depression during the conservative Bush years. For the past two years, Republicans have blocked legislation to control the damage banks and Wall Street caused, and they tricked their supporters into protesting regulations as an intrusion into their private lives.

Republicans promised change and policies that would move America forward, but their Pledge to America was a rehash of Bush’s failed policies.  Republicans played the “Socialist” card that infuriated teabaggers so they supported Republicans who promised to get government out of their personal lives, and they blocked legislation that protected taxpayers from corporate rapists like banks and big oil.

The GOP did nothing to protect Americans, and everything to ensure that corporate takeover of America’s government moved forward; and they accomplished their goal using fear and lies. Republicans were falsely contrite to fool voters by saying they made mistakes and screwed up, but that they learned their lesson. Eric Cantor said in an interview that Republicans knew they made mistakes, were fired in 2006 and 2008, and then went on to enumerate the Bush years’ policies they would implement when they took over Congress.

Since the midterms, nothing has changed and Republicans plan to continue obstructing Democrats to limit President Obama to one term by promising to repeal every piece of legislation Democrats passed. Republicans want to repeal legislation that promises better health care for millions of Americans, financial regulations that protect consumers from unfair charges, and any law that does not protect corporations and big oil.

Voters who want to return to Bush-era policies are like an abused spouse who keeps going back to their abuser; knowing they will continue beating them. At some point, one has to wonder if Republicans’ supporters suffer from Stockholm syndrome where a prisoner defends their captors and abusers. Or do conservatives really think Republicans will help them?

Conservatives’ supporters have been labeled stupid and it’s a realistic assessment based on their tendency to vote against their own self-interests, but it doesn’t explain why Democrats stayed away from the ballot box. Perhaps it’s short term memory loss, or the slow economic recovery that has failed to produce jobs in sufficient numbers.

One thing is certain though, if Republicans, teabaggers and apathetic Democrats believe there is going to be a change in GOP policy, they are sadly misinformed. Republicans will not change, and intend to continue the policies of deregulation for corporations, tax breaks for the rich, and cuts in social programs. Republicans’ claims of following the will of the people are lies, and yet, they fooled ignorant Americans into voting to return to policies that will sink America.

European conservatives are astounded that Americans voted for idiots who caused a world-wide recession and have turned to the East for solutions to the world’s problems. Republicans use the American exceptionalism meme to justify their failed policies, and conservative leaning, ignorant Americans believe that as long as America’s corporations are successful, the country will prosper; because America is exceptional.

Republicans will bring about change, but it is a change from government looking out for citizens to government protection for the corporate world. It is the kind of change only big oil and big business can believe in, and it comes at the expense of America’s economic security.

Change and progress are against conservative ideology, and one would think that Americans would look back at the past 10 years and recognize the disastrous policies that put us in the perilous situation we find ourselves in. But that would entail cognition and memory. America has made progress in two years, but it was only a change from all-out protection of corporatism to protection for citizens, and Republicans obstructed it at every turn.

Change is frightening for people who like the way things are, and protecting consumers and citizens frightens the corporate world and richest Americans because they will lose unrestricted economic gains. Republicans are frightened that Americans will realize that the changes since 2008 are for the benefit of the majority of Americans and not just the privileged.

Republicans only notion of change is to remove policies that help working Americans, and they resort to lies, fear mongering, and obstructionist tactics to achieve a corporatist agenda in return for unrestricted campaign contributions. Conservatives never change, and if Americans had memories, they would see the only change Republicans have in store for America is change in Democracy. Republicans want to change America from a pseudo-democracy to a Board of Directors based oligarchy, and they have fooled Americans into helping them facilitate that change.

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