Federal Court Says Murkowski In, Miller Out

Dec 30 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

I wrote the other day about Joe Miller’s refusal to accept defeat in his race against Lisa Murkowski, who was the victim of a Palin-Tea Party Express ambush before the primary. She came back strong in a write-in campaign and edged Joe Miller in the general election.

Murkowski had the grace to accept defeat in the primary. Joe Miller hasn’t been able to demonstrate he even knows what grace is, let alone intends to demonstrate it. It’s not for lack of opportunity:

Joe just lost out on his federal case – the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out his lawsuit on Tuesday, just a week after the Alaska Supreme Court did the same. The federal judge said Miller hadn’t raised any federal issues and that he would not second guess the Alaska Supreme Court. Take that, Sarah Palin! You brought in out-of-state money to beat Lisa Murkowski but the much-hated federal government won’t interfere in what is the state’s business.

How that must hurt.

Miller of course, is still whining:

“I am disappointed with the federal court’s ruling today. The U.S. Constitution’s Elections Clause presented the most significant constitutional issue. Specifically, should the courts be required to follow the legislature’s standard for the selection of U.S. senators or create their own? My legal team believes that the clear language of the Election Clause as well as precedent support our claims. Thus, we are evaluating the ruling and determining what our next step should be.”

Miller can always appeal. But that won’t stop Lisa Murkowski from taking her seat in the 112th Congress on January 5 because the federal judge lifted the hold on the certification of the election.

It’s a done deal. Only Joe Miller seems unaware of it.

Miller beat Murkowski in the August GOP primary but lost to her in the November election. The Alaska Supreme Court ruled against him. A federal judge has ruled against him. More importantly, the people of Alaska ruled against him by casting more ballots for Lisa Murkowski.

Murkowski told the Anchorage Daily News

“This is pretty great news. It means that I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that next week Alaska will have two senators in the United States Senate and there would not be any lapse that could have happened had certification been held up very much longer.”

She has reason to be happy.

“I have had a bottle of champagne in just about every refrigerator where I have visited over this Christmas holiday, and I haven’t been able to release that cork yet.”

What Miller will do is anyone’s guess. Unlike one of Palin’s other favorites, he’s an employable individual, being an attorney and all, and won’t have to steal from his campaign funds to get by, or form a pac to give himself a paycheck. Even so, he really wanted that seat and he shows no signs of giving up trying to find a way to weasel it out of the winner’s hands.

I suggested last time Miller hold man up. I won’t suggest any of us hold our breaths.

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Joe Miller Says He’ll Hold His Breath Until They Let Him Win

Dec 28 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Joe Miller and Lisa Murkowski

Fairbanks attorney and would-be totalitarian strongman Joe Miller apparently will not try to perform a citizens arrest on Lisa Murkowski. He will, however, take her to federal court for having the audacity to defeat him in the general election after losing the August 24 primary in a write-in campaign.

Never mind that it was the Tea Party that originally came in to steal Murkowski’s seat out from under her.

We all remember Karl Rove’s judgment:

“Absolutely no she can’t win. Under the law, you have to carefully spell the name exactly correct, now everyone go to your pencil and paper and write the name ‘Murkowski’ and see if you got it right.”

“No, she’s going to lose,” he said.

And Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) used a Tea Party fundraiser to call her a “big-tent hypocrite” and said she had betrayed the conservative cause.

Republican cannibalism at its best – or worst.

But she didn’t lose. She outraged the Tea Party by actually winning.

And what neither Karl Rove nor Joe Miller (nor, most certainly, Sarah Palin) reckoned on was the innate fairness of the process. The state Division of Elections established guidelines before counting even began that the voter’s intent had to count when writing-in a vote.

God forbid fairness should enter into the democratic process. “We can’t have that!” the Tea Party says.

So Miller lost fair and square. That’s not just a liberal writer saying that, it’s the Alaska Supreme Court, the law of the land. But that is Joe Miler’s whining lament: she cheated! Egads, people misspelled her name. Has she no shame claiming the victory?

The Alaskan Supreme Court ruled against him. The message from the voters was “You lost, Joe.” The message from the highest court in the state was the same: “You lost, Joe.”

“There are no remaining issues raised by Miller that prevent this election from being certified.”

But Joe claims that the sanctity of the election process is at stake. Meaning, he can’t possibly have lost. Perhaps God promised him a victory or something. After all, he promised one to Sarah Palin too on the eve of the ’08 Election Day.

Apparently, those nasty feds aren’t so nasty when Joe’s victory is at stake. To hell with the State of Alaska. What do the feds say? Does the Tea Party have no shame, throwing the state under the bus and trying to trump with the federal courts?

Did the world just turn upside down?

I’m unclear as to how losing an election fair and square violates the sanctity of the democratic process but then, I’ve never performed a citizens arrest on somebody who asked me a question.

For the record, this is Joe’s reasoning:

“After careful consideration and seeking the counsel of people whose opinion I respect and trust, I have decided that the federal case must go forward. The integrity of the election is vital and ultimately the rule of law must be our standard. Nevertheless, I have also decided to withdraw our opposition to the certification of the election, ensuring that Alaska will have its full delegation seated when the 112th Congress convenes next month.”

What a guy. Such a gesture of magnanimity!

There really wasn’t much magnanimity evident in Joe’s official protest. As his spokesman Randy DeSota said on Wednesday,

“We are disappointed the Alaska Supreme Court has ignored the plain text of Alaska law and allowed the Division of Elections to effectively amend the state election code without even giving the public an opportunity for notice and comment.”

Of course, the Alaskan Supreme Court made just that ruling, that state law had not been violated. End of story.

Not so, says Joe.

Of course, none of this surprises Lisa Murkowski, who has already been exposed to the limitless, mindless hate and nihilism of Tea Party politics. Her campaign fully expected Joe Miller to be a big crybaby.

Perhaps the most amusing aspect of this whole situation is that with or without the contested votes, Joe Miller has lost. Lisa Murkowski ended up with a lead of 10,328 votes.  Joe says 8,159 of those votes can’t count. Even without them, however, Lisa Murkowski still has a 2,169 vote lead.

There is a great deal wrong with this picture. There is the Republican betrayal of Lisa Murkowski later reinterpreted as a betrayal by Lisa Murkowski, another Sarah Palin demagogue who like Christine O’Donnell showed himself completely unequal to the office to which he sought election (a real chip off the old block), and then, when the people had spoken, when the State of Alaska had spoken, these Tea Party tenthers turn around and appeal to the hated feds to overturn the state. We’ll leave aside for the moment the sheer childishness of Miller’s position on this. What does he do for an encore? Hold his breath?

No, take your medicine Joe. In Palin-speak, find your cojones and man up. Vox populi: The people have spoken. Isn’t that supposed to be what the Tea Party is all about? But it isn’t, is it Joe? It’s not about what the people want: it’s about what you want, what Sarah Palin wants, what Christine O’Donnell wants – a free lunch.

13 responses so far

Michele Bachmann and the Truth About Republican Spending

Tea Party Caucus leader Michele Bachmann

“All Real Republicans Love the Sting of Spending.” That isn’t exactly what General Patton said; he was talking about the sting of battle. But the way Republicans (and for purposes of discussion I’m including Tea Partiers when I say Republicans) spend, you’d think it was a battle and they the most gung-ho ultra, soldiers in the world. These folks are in earnest. I mean, they’re serious shop-a-holics – über-spenders.

Is it any surprise, given the history of the past half-century, that some folks are, to say the least, a bit suspicious about the new round of Republic anti-spending rhetoric?

They have a right to be. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has a few not-so eye-openers for people, a celebration of sorts of the non-change the victorious GOP has brought to Washington:

Meet Your New (Old) GOP

They’re not even sworn in yet and the incoming House Republican Freshmen class is already looking a lot like the same old GOP that voters fired in 2006. Here is a quick recap of the incoming Republican House Committee Chairman:

  • Representative Hal “Prince of Pork” Rogers to chair the House Appropriations Committee, who pushed through 135 earmarks at a cost of $246 million in the past two years alone.
  • Representative Dave Camp, someone best known for protecting tax loopholes that reward big corporations for shipping American jobs overseas, to Chair the Ways and Means Committee.
  • Representative Spencer Bachus, chief Republican negotiator of the tea-party hated TARP bailout to lead the House Financial Services Committee.

Impressive, huh? Bet you’re glad you voted these guys in, America. Yeah, they promised us “real” change. But “at least nine incoming Republican Freshmen have hired K Street lobbyists as their top aides.”

I’m floored by their commitment, are you? Because nothing says NO SPENDING! like a lobbyist!

Grifters, the lot of them. Raping America – again.  Palin’s mouth must be watering, eyeing that calendar. She wants to cash in like the last Republican administration. She’s making money, sure, but its small change compared to having your own Haliburton and virtual immunity for your criminal behavior. She knows she can find a country to invade – Iran maybe, and invest in some “infrastructure spending” there, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

At the end of November, the Senate voted down a Republican-sponsored measure to ban earmark spending (House Republicans had earlier placed a ban on earmarks). FOX News was able to joyously report the following (can you sense their gleeful anticipation?):

The 39-56 tally, however, was a better showing for earmark opponents, who lost a 29-68 vote earlier this year. Any votes next year should be closer because a band of anti-earmark Republicans is joining the Senate.

Is that right…? More Republicans are going to equal less spending? Because it’s those bad ole Democrats who do all the spending! And we know how much FOX News LOVES the Tea Party, those rugged populists fighting against government spending at every turn…

Gosh, speaking of the Tea Party…You’ve probably seen the news about the Tea Party and earmarks (“member-directed spending” is the euphemism they use on “the Hill”). Here’s a list to illustrate Tea Party opposition to earmarks (these are all 52 members of the Tea Party Caucus):

Aderholt (R-AL) – 69 – $78,263,000
Akin (R-MO) – 9 – $14,709,000
Alexander (R-LA) – 41 $65,395,000
Bachmann (R-MN) – 0 – 0
Barton (R-TX) -14 – $12,269,400
Bartlett (R-MD) – 19 – $43,060,650
Bilirakis (R-FL) – 14 – $13,600,000
R. Bishop (R-UT) – 47 – $93,980,000
Burgess (R-TX) – 15 – $15,804,400
Broun (R-GA) – 0 – 0
Burton (R-IN) – 0 – 0
Carter (R-TX) – 26 – $42,232,000
Coble (R-NC) – 19 – $18,755,000
Coffman (R-CO) – 0 – 0
Crenshaw (R-FL) – 37 – $54,424,000
Culberson (R-TX) – 22 – $33,792,000
Fleming (R-LA) – 10 – $31,489,000
Franks (R-AZ) – 8 – $14,300,000
Gingrey (R-GA) – 19 – $16,100,000
Gohmert (R-TX) – 15 – $7,099,000
S. Graves (R-MO) – 11 – $8,331,000
R. Hall (R-TX) – 16 – $12,232,000
Harper (R-MS) – 25 – $80,402,000
Herger (R-CA) – 5 – $5,946,000
Hoekstra (R-MI) – 9 – $6,392,000
Jenkins (R-KS) – 12 – $24,628,000
S. King (R-IA) – 13 – $6,650,000
Lamborn (R-CO) – 6 – $16,020,000
Luetkemeyer (R-MO) – 0 – 0
Lummis (R-WY) – 0 – 0
Marchant (R-TX) – 0 – 0
McClintock (R-CA) – 0 – 0
Gary Miller (R-CA) – 15 – $19,627,500
Jerry Moran (R-KS) – 22 – $19,400,000
Myrick (R-NC) – 0 – 0
Neugebauer (R-TX) – 0 – 0
Pence (R-IN) – 0 -0
Poe (R-TX) – 12 – $7,913,000
T. Price (R-GA) – 0 – 0
Rehberg (R-MT) – 88 – $100,514,200
Roe (R-TN) – 0 – 0
Royce (R-CA) – 7 – $6,545,000
Scalise (R-LA) – 20 – $17,388,000
P. Sessions (R-TX) – 0 – 0
Shadegg (R-AZ) – 0 – 0
Adrian Smith (R-NE) – 1 – $350,000
L. Smith (R-TX) – 18 – $14,078,000
Stearns (R-FL) – 17 – $15,472,000
Tiahrt (R-KS) – 39 – $63,400,000
Wamp (R-TN) – 14 – $34,544,000
Westmoreland (R-GA) – 0 – 0
Wilson (R-SC) – 15 – $23,334,000

TOTAL – 764 – $1,049,783,150

Drill baby drill; spend baby spend. You can see the depth of their commitment to…er, spending earmarks. You’d think conservatives would be, well…conservative about such things but they seem to spend, if you’ll pardon the expression, liberally.

In April, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) released their 2010 Congressional Pig Book, in their own words “the group’s 20th anniversary exposé of pork-barrel spending.”  This edition of the Pig Book enumerated 9,129 earmarks worth $16.5 billion.

$16.5 billion is a tiny fraction of the federal budget. Let’s face it: eliminating earmarks entirely won’t fix the federal budget. But it’s an issue that gets people riled up because of the profligacy of some of the spending. Even if it’s important to the state or community in question, others are left lifting their eyebrows and wondering…why?

CAGW lists some examples:

  • $465,000,000 for the alternate engine for the Joint Strike Fighter;
  • $5,000,000 for the Presidio Heritage Center in California;
  • $1,000,000 for Portsmouth Music Hall in New Hampshire;
  • $400,000 for the USA Swimming Foundation in New Jersey;
  • $300,000 for Carnegie Hall in New York City;
  • $250,000 for the Monroe County Farmer’s Market in Kentucky;
  • $200,000 for the Washington National Opera in the District of Columbia; and
  • $206,000 for wool research in Montana, Texas, and Wyoming.

As you saw above, spending is a problem the Tea Party shares with the Republican Party (they share many things, of course). Michele Bachmann, leader of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress, wants to “redefine” earmarks. Bush was big about redefining things too. He’d redefine problems right out of existence. That’s what Bachman wants to do. If you change the definition, do a little tweaking here and there, you can keep spending wantonly yet still present yourself as a fiscal conservative.

Of course, you can also redefine problems out of existence in another way, by saying any Tea Partier who requested earmarks isn’t really a Tea Partier after all – because they requested earmarks. Michele Bachmann didn’t (though she requested $3.7 Million In Earmarks In 2008) – but she’s thinking about that potentially rickety bridge connection her home town of Stillwater to all those potential antique buyers on the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix.

Bachmann’s 2008 earmarks? Here’s just a few:

  • $94,000 for Sheriffs Youth Program of MN
  • $335,000 for Equipment Acquisition for Northland Medical Center
  • $803,000 for Replacement Small Buses, St. Cloud Metro Bus

That GOP ban we spoke of above? As Fox News says, it “would have effectively forbidden the Senate from considering legislation containing earmarks like road and bridge projects, community development funding, grants to local police departments and special-interest tax breaks.”

Yeah, no bridge over the St. Croix, Michele. Sorry.

The Tea Party backed itself into a corner with their anti-earmark rant. Earmarks are used for infrastructure support in this country. To fix bridges, in point of fact, among other things. Bachmann knows this. She knows that bridge is important. She knows that money to fix that bridge will come – has to come – from earmarks. Republicans, after all, hated the idea fielded by President Obama of spending stimulus money on infrastructure projects.

The solution is, for Bachmann, redefining some earmark spending as non-pork. According to the Pioneer Press,

Bachmann says Congress should exempt “roads, bridges and interchanges” and recommends that if a town, city, county or state approves a project, a lawmaker in Washington should be able to submit a request — a practice she says she has followed. Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, says Congress should earn back the public’s trust before considering a new definition but concedes the earmark ban will bring about “unintended consequences.”

It’s a tight spot they find themselves in. Tea Partiers like Bachmann sure don’t want the government controlling infrastructure spending, or transportation dollars.

It’s not big government they’re against. It’s not spending they’re against. They love both. They have proven it again and again that the only earmark spending they’re against is Democratic-member-directed-spending – they love their own and the more the better – and yet people keep voting for them…again. Makes you wonder if Republican voters are easily fooled or if they’re part of the scam, the eternal bait and switch of American conservatism, about as real as John McCain’s maverick-ism.

Yeah, that’s change you can believe in. Though to give John credit, he did turn himself to a raving Tea Partier. That’s change, isn’t it? With John McCain you can say, as many states do about their weather, that if you don’t like it, just wait awhile. But you can’t say that about Republican spending, unfortunately. There the more things change, the more they stay the same.

9 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

Muslims and Pagans Oh My! (A Christofascist Nightmare)

Dec 03 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

The Big Hater of Christofascist Imagination

I was reading one Right Wing Watch yesterday and saw an article about how a Tea Partier named John Trautman opposes a California mosque because he “doesn’t want terrorist pagans in his back yard.”

Are Muslims Pagans?

I’ve looked elsewhere at the question of whether or not Satanists are Pagans (Tea Partiers and Republicans hate them too, and my answer is “no”) but it never occurred to me to question Islam’s status as a religion; it seems fairly obvious. I mean, first of all, Islam is one of the three forms of Abrahamic monotheism, one of the three religions of the book: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; they share a common ancestry and like it or not, a common god, even if they know him by different names.

In fact, they are so closely related that one the Byzantine Saint John of Damascus argued that Islam was not a separate religion but a form of heresy – in other words, a heretical form of Christianity. One could, I suppose, argue the same thing about Christianity with regards to Judaism. The polemics are all in place; Nicetas of Byzantium even leveled a charge against Islam Christians ought by now to be familiar with: that their holy book is a forged mythology.

There seems to be a lot of pot calling kettle black involved and there still clearly is and perhaps that’s just an inevitable problem to be associated with three religions each claiming sole possession of some cosmic truth – and God besides.

Honestly, it’s none of my concern what they think about each other. That’s their business unless they start talking about winging around nukes and so forth. Then it becomes an issue of worldwide concern.

And in fact, we’ve come close to that point, closer than ever since the Religious Right began to gain dominance in the American political landscape. Having an apocalyptic religion in charge – one with access to nukes – and believing that their big end-game scenario, the Parousia, will start in the Middle East – that is a frightening reality.

Obviously there is the ongoing problem of definitions. You can’t have polemics without definitions! Not only do you have to define what “religion” is but what qualifies as a religion. There are some Republicans who want to reduce Islam to the status of a cult, even though it’s the world’s second largest religion after Christianity itself. And of course, we have to define Judaism and Christianity as well.

And we have to define “Pagan” and “Paganism.”

I have followed French historian Pierre Chuvin (A Chronicle of the Last Pagans, 1990) in defining Pagans as “people of the place” and Paganism therefore as “religion of the place” – in short, ethnic religion. This is not a modern definition but an attempt to understand what the ancients meant when they used the term “pagan.” I find it a very useful one. As someone once said, what’s important is not how we understand say, the Iliad, but how the ancients understood it.

But back to our problem: Historically, the people of the Arabian Peninsula were Pagans – a polytheistic ethnic group. They were Pagans when Mohammed was born but by the time he had died they had been forcibly converted to Islam (submitted, in other words – Islam means “Submission to God”).  The same fate had befallen the polytheistic Israelites and the same fate befell the polytheists of Europe and the Mediterranean littoral when Christianity became ascendant.

All three of these religions are “universal” religions – that is, they claim a God who is a God of everyone, of all the earth and all its peoples. They do not recognize ethnic religions. Ethnic religion must be subsumed by an inherently superior “True” religion. By definition, they cannot any of them lay claim to being Pagan, as Paganism makes much more modest claims – the much maligned “relative” truths of the ethnic group and it’s gods.

That they like to insult each other as some form of “pagan” does not imply that they are indeed Pagan. It is well known that the Jews called everyone else “Gentiles” and the Early Church adopted this term and applied it to their polytheistic neighbors until adopting the term “Pagan” by the time of the Fifth Century Theodosian Code.  In post-exilic Israel to be a Gentile was to convert or die. In the Early Church the same choice was offered. Europe was brought to Christianity with the cry “convert or die.” Islam calls such people “Kafir” – which means “unbeliever.” But Islam has two forms of unbelievers: other children of the book and those who have no book.

The Tea Partier in question, John Trautman, was criticizing the build of a mosque. He said “are not only our enemy but pagans. Why would we want them in our backyard?”

We’re already familiar with the polemical attack unleashed by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson on Pagans and the rest of today’s “Canaanites”:

I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say “you helped this happen.”

You can make any word an insult, I suppose, and put it to polemical uses, including Pagan. In the end, the purpose of polemic is to delegitimize the target and privilege your own and the attitude of Tea Partiers and Republicans is clear: Islam and Pagans are on a par, both in some tenuous way responsible for the WTC attack and together guilty of unraveling the fabric of American society. But they are not the same. Islam and Christianity are the same, two peoples of the book separated by a common mythology.  Paganism, ancient or modern, has nothing to do with revealed religion or book religion. Paganism is nature-based; Paganism is of the world.

In the end I suppose it isn’t a matter of who is more or less tolerant or enlightened. There is no true sense of tolerance in any of the three religions when it comes to other religions. The end time, for all three, looks for a day when everybody will be forced to “convert or die” so we Pagans would just as soon they can all be kept from “forcing god’s hand” and manufacturing an “end-time” scenario.

I can tell you right now that if that day comes, it won’t be Pagans who manufactured it, or feminists, or lesbians, or “abortionists” – or the ACLU.

10 responses so far

Attention Conservatives: You Too Benefit From American Socialism

Nov 28 2010 Published by under Featured News

America is undergoing a transformation at the hands of conservatives who have convinced ignorant voters that the government has grown too large, and that it is time to revert back to the Founders’ days when there was a limited government. The Tea Party and Libertarians claim that with limited government, citizens will be able to conduct business without regulations or taxation, and the nation will prosper. That argument may have worked in 1776, but in 2010, it is a fantastical dream of people who are apt to cheat and take advantage of the less fortunate. Welcome to Conservatism.

One has to wonder if those who long for smaller, less intrusive government realize that without government intervention and support, their lives would be Spartan at best. The people who want limited government really want no taxes and no regulations on their ability to conduct business. The corporate world has convinced individuals that their freedoms and liberty are being eroded by the government in their effort to rape consumers and the government as they increase their bottom line. The intrusion the corporate world complains of has no direct consequence on individual Americans except to protect citizens from corporate abuse.

Individuals in the Tea Party have complained that Democrats and President Obama in particular are turning America into a Socialist country. It’s an interesting concept because most of America’s institutions are socialistic by nature, but not definition. Socialism is a form of governance where the State owns everything, and private ownership of the means of production and distribution has been eliminated. Although America is not Socialist, we do enjoy a privileged lifestyle that is the result of social programs.

Our highway system, air travel, food safety, medical care, and old age assistance are all social programs, and whether or not teabaggers realize it, they enjoy and benefit from socialism. The biggest Socialist, entitlement program is the American military, and it accounts for more wasteful spending than any other social program. It is the one aspect of government that takes the most money from the American people without any return of benefit for the majority of Americans. It also fills the coffers of corporations who produce expendable products at the highest cost set by the corporations.

Which part of limited government would the teabaggers and Libertarians be willing to accept? Would they be willing to forgo regulatory agencies that guarantee safe medicine or air travel? Or would they prefer to drive on open ground because the highway system is part of the government that is too big? Perhaps older teabaggers would want the government to withhold their retirement income from Social Security in order to downsize the federal government.

There was at one point, a shared pride in the standard of living in the United States, and Americans could boast the finest roads, hospitals, schools, and quality of life of any nation in the civilized world. That is not the case anymore, and in fact, Americans have a lower life expectancy, worse health, and crumbling infrastructure because there is more emphasis on allowing the wealthy to shirk their responsibility as citizens.

Unless members of the myriad Tea Party groups and Libertarians realize that the limited government they long for is a ploy of corporate America to stir up discontent and malice for corporate benefit, America will continue its slide into 2nd class nation status. Our standard of living and safety is only the result of government regulations and taxes that pay for the infrastructure we enjoy. America is more complex than the original thirteen colonies, and if not for big government and regulations, women could not vote, serve on juries, own land, or run for political office. There was no standing army and no defense budget to protect the country; under the limited government the teabaggers want, the only defense would be the shotgun in the closet.

Tea Party members are being duped by corporations to vote against their own interest when they elect candidates who promise limited government. Corporations want a limited government that allows them to pay no taxes and rape, pillage, and abuse the American people and the land. Corporate America has no interest in citizens except to use Fox News to lie to them so they vote for corporate rule and control of the government. Conservative corporate rule has grown the government by wasting precious resources and tax dollars to benefit big business and their wealthy shareholders.

Now that conservatives have a foot in the government door, America is moving toward limited government, but it is government limited in its ability to protect its citizens while it provides unlimited power and profit to the wealthiest Americans. Conservatives may end up getting limited government, but they won’t like what they get, and by then, it will be too late.

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Hillary Clinton Won’t Run for President in 2012

Nov 22 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

The field just narrowed in 2012. While there is literally a plethora of potential Republican candidates, Democrats remain focused on Barack Obama, particularly now that Hilary Clinton has dropped out of the running.

She not only will not run in 2012 (sorry, no Clinton vs. Palin fantasy scenario i.e. strong feminist woman vs. pseudo-feminist quitter) but not in 2016 either. No more running for public office, Hilary told FOX’s Mike Wallace.

“I love what I’m doing,” she said on FOX News Sunday:

“I’ve said it over and over again. And I’m happy to say it on your show as well. I am committed to doing what I can to advance the security, the interests and values of the United States of America. I believe what I’m doing right now is in furtherance of that. And I’m very proud and grateful to be doing it.”

It is difficult to see, with Hilary out of consideration, how any other Democrat could hope to challenge Barack Obama, whose own popularity remains high. And contrary to Republican spin, that Obama is a raving leftist ideologue,  a CNN poll released last week shows that American voters don’t think Obama is too liberal (only 38%) and only 9% think he is not liberal enough. Obviously, he continues to appeal to moderate voters, which is what led to his victory in 2008.

The result is that the Democrats are likely to enter the 2012 elections united behind one candidate – a proven, experienced candidate, while the Republicans are divided by numerous candidates, and more, by the growing gap between Tea Party Palin supporters and mainstream Republicans exemplified by Karl Rove. If people thought things got ugly between Obama and Clinton in 2008, they’ll get an education when Palin and Rove go at it in earnest.

I cannot think of another thing better calculated to make Democrats salivate and Republicans wince, than Hilary Clinton removing herself from the equation. And Barack Obama has two years to unite Democrats and re-attract those voters he lost in 2010.

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Surprise!!! Banning Earmarks Will Create More Big Government

Nov 19 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues

The current flap over banning earmarks is curious, and seems to be nothing more than a political ploy to garner support from ignorant greedy people who obviously have no concept of what earmarks are or why they are necessary. Republicans and teabaggers are conflicted over whether a ban on earmarks will save the country money to bring the budget deficit under control, and there is a misconception that clouds their thinking.

When a legislator designates funding for a project in their home district, the money is “earmarked” for that particular project and cannot be used for general purposes. The earmarks make up about 0.5% of the entire budget, and create jobs as well.

If earmarks are banned, the money gets folded back into the general fund, and different government agencies use the money at their discretion; so the notion that banning earmarks will save any money is a fallacy. It is more likely that there is resentment and jealousy from disaffected parties because all the money doesn’t go to their state or their district’s pet projects.

The complaint is that legislators with more seniority get preferential treatment by getting funding for special projects in their districts instead of the money going into to another district. There is some validity to the complaint, but that is a problem for the legislatures to work out. There is a proposed ban on earmarks in the Congress now, and the proposal is non-binding; whatever that may mean.

The public doesn’t understand what earmarks do, or how they work, and a commonly heard complaint is that they are wasteful spending, or people say, “why are my tax dollars going to pay for a hospital in Kansas, what are they doing for me?” Of course, the complainant doesn’t remember that their congressman earmarked funding for road improvements in their district at the same time. It is an example of jealousy and greed that is prevalent in America today.

A couple of days ago, Senator Mitch McConnell changed his position on earmarks after pressure from fellow Republicans and teabaggers to join in asking for a two year ban on earmarks. During McConnell’s statement, he said he was proud of the projects he procured funding for in his state, but now he supports the ban. McConnell knows earmarks are a useful means for creating jobs and enriching the lives of Americans in areas with special needs.

If earmarks are banned, the money must be administered by a government agency, and it will tie up funding for important necessary projects and add to the bureaucracy in government. For teabaggers who hate the idea of government getting too big, this ban should be revolting, and will certainly mean more government intervention into local affairs. Plus, projects that may benefit areas that are neglected will be shelved in favor of the party in power’s pet projects.

There is no way an agency in Washington knows the needs of individual districts that may need funding for roads, schools, hospitals, or improvements for public safety or any worthwhile projects. Banning earmarks will only add to the size of government and neglect areas that really need funding for improvements that are priorities in special circumstances.

Public perception is skewed by misinformation and negative connotations about earmarks and their uses. There aren’t many legislators who never earmark money for projects in their respective districts, and if all the funding is dumped into one agency for administration, the entire nation will suffer with partisan bickering and bureaucratic holdups on crucial job producing projects.

Hopefully, the earmark ban will be defeated and reason will prevail because our infrastructure is crumbling, and it is nearly impossible that any agency can know what to prioritize to make certain that crucial projects are funded in a timely manner. The earmark ban is the perfect example of teabagger newbies misunderstanding the role of the legislature and pressuring Republicans into following a policy that will wreak havoc on every area of the nation.

Republican legislators who cave in to the pressure of ignorant teabags are as weak as Democrats for not standing up to misinformed idiots who have no concept of governance. When a teabag legislator finds they have a bridge in their district that is collapsing and needs repair, they will have no way of earmarking funds specifically for repairing the bridge. Any funding for bridge repair will have to be administered by a government agency and the bureaucracy will delay repairs endangering the citizens of their state.

The only saving grace is that the earmark ban is non-binding, and hopefully there is a fair procedure for allowing special projects to proceed. It still remains to be seen what the non-binding aspect is, but it seems that with Republicans in power, an earmark ban will only apply to Democrat’s projects. Banning earmarks is a bad idea, and simple oversight would be sufficient, but Republicans and teabaggers don’t understand fair or simple unless it benefits their campaign coffers or their corporate donors.

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Sarah Palin’s New Twitter Moment

Nov 06 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Mama Grizzly Winks at Reality

Sarah Palin has had another of those “I didn’t say that!” moments. Twitter seems to be the woman’s worst enemy. It’s ironic really, that she is the star of a reality show but reality is not a friend to her. She seems to be saying to reality (shrieking really), “Reality, you’re not the boss of me!”

You go grrrrl.

There must be a lot of fluff in the rarified air she breaths.

Atlah Church Sign

Her Tweet? It was actually a re-tweet of an Ann Coulter Tweet, which showed a photo of a church sign which reads:

“Blood of Jesus Against Obama/History made 4 Nov 2008, a Taliban Muslim illegally elected president USA Hussein”

Ann Coulter had Tweeted: “This is my new church!”

Ms. Reality Star re-tweeted it as one of her favorites. Gawker has a screen-capture, because of course you can’t see it anymore; Palin, in a rare moment of an intersection with reality said ‘Ooop!” and took it down and then denied any independent recollection of the incident.

By the way, the church is that of Pastor James David Manning, who ”once held a trial declaring Obama ineligible to be president because he says he wasn’t born in the US and who refers to him as a “pimp” and “long-legged mack daddy” in sermons.”

Palin threw an unknown staffer under the bus. She told ABC News:

“Jake, I’ve never purposefully ‘favorited’ any Tweet. I had to go back to my BlackBerry to even see if such a function was possible. I was traveling to Alaska that day…it was an obvious accidental ‘favoriting,’ but no one can mistake that Ann Coulter was obviously being tongue in cheek with that Tweet. Shall I correct this with whichever wonderful media outlet ran with this (an obviously bored reporter…since there must be nothing going on in the world today, like, um, ramifications of a shake up of power in the U.S. House of Representatives?).”

I think she is right on one score, that of her increasing irrelevancy to the American political scene. Her candidates lost. Ms. King Maker Mama Grizzly Reality Star Politician Wannabe will have a difficult time remaining at center stage. A showdown will come between Wall Street Republicans and Tea Party Republicans. They have already been throwing dirt at each other and either Rove or Palin will remain standing. The GOP cannot go both ways and it does not seem there is any happy middle ground for two groups who insist on ideological purity.

I will leave you with this thought: Sarah Palin is out there, and reality is out there, and sometimes, the two actually intersect.

We live in interesting times.

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Debunked: 5 Tea Party Patriot Myths About the Constitution

Nov 05 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

The author of the Constitution? Not so much...

In a recent issue of The Atlantic, Garrett Epps wrote an article titled “All Patriots ‘Know’ that Moses Wrote the Constitution.”

Now this in itself is nothing new. We have heard Sarah Palin say the same thing:

“I think we should keep this clean, keep it simple,” she told Bill O’Reilly. “Go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant. They’re quite clear that we would create law based on the God of the Bible and the Ten Commandments. It’s pretty simple.”

This seems to have become a Tea Party mantra, and it is entirely wrong. The Constitution is not based on the Bible or the Ten Commandments. I’ve said this before but it obviously bears saying again: God and the Ten Commandments are entirely absent from the Constitution and from the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments). These are documents deriving directly from the men we know as our Founding Fathers, the men who wrote the Constitution and saw it ratified.

Indeed, it seems there is more influence from the Pagan Roman Republican than from the Kingdoms of Israel or Judah. But no God, no Jesus, no Ten Commandments.

Yet over and over again we see the claim: “Without the Judeo-Christian heritage there would be no morality and no true human rights.”

Wrong again. Morality preceded the Bible by thousands of years. Morality was not invented in Israel. There were many law codes before the Ten Commandments, and they were Pagan law codes, my friends. And human rights? There are no human rights in the Bible. None.

There are human rights in the Constitution, and these derive not from some “Judeo-Christian heritage,” which is itself nothing but a Christian ideological construct necessitated by a Christian reliance upon Jewish scripture; it is meant to show a continuity between the two bodies of texts that does not in fact exist.  No, human rights derive from the very secular European Enlightenment.

Believe it or not, as Garrett Epps reveals, there is a mad but tenuous link argued for by these wishful thinkers, and it is quite astounding. Let me see if I can type this out without laughter or tears (I am not sure which are more appropriate) disrupting my typing. According to the Constitutional seminar Epps attended at Our Savior’s Way Lutheran Church in Ashburn, Va, “The Making of America,” presented by the National Center for Constitutional Studies:

  • God writes Constitution
  • God passes Constitution on to Moses
  • Moses brings Constitution to Israel
  • Constitution brought to England in 450 C.E. by Saxon invaders Hengist and Horsa
  • The Founding Fathers (led by Thomas Jefferson) copied the Constitution from this ancient Anglo-Saxon version.

That’s it, folks. I’ll pause while you finish laughing…or crying. I’m doing a little of both.
Let’s take a look at this invention of history, and I can’t say re-writing because it doesn’t bear enough resemblance to history to qualify. No, this is out-and-out speculative fiction here, folks. I mean, just at the outset I feel compelled to mention that Israel was a monarchy, and then a theocracy. The United States, needless to say, is neither. So the link would seem to be obviously false based on that fact alone, but let’s look at the argument in detail.

Even the claim that God wrote the Ten Commandments, which is clearly what they are talking about here, is not supported by the evidence. Take the fact that the Ten Commandments are written in the form of a Hittite Vassal Treaty, which were common in the Bronze Age.  Hittite treaties were generally of six parts:

1.       Preamble (identifying the author of the covenant and his titles and attributes. Begins with the formula “thus saith…”)

2.       Historical prologue or review (Describes the previous relationship between the parties and reminding the subordinate party of their dependence on the suzerain. The “I/thou” form of address is characteristic of this section)

3.       The stipulations (States in detail the obligations imposed upon and accepted by the vassal)

4.       Provision for deposit (placing the treaty in a place of honor in the vassal’s city)

5.       List of gods as witnesses

6.       The curses and blessings formula (what will happen if the terms of the treaty are or are not followed. See Deut. 28).[1]

The Ten Commandments are arranged in a very similar pattern: preamble, historical review, list of stipulations (the main body of the commandments).

So not only did God not write the Constitution, he didn’t write the Ten Commandments, unless God was a Hittite king (and the Hittites did not invent the vassal treaty but themselves inherited it from Pagan precursors. Given that the Hittites were Indo-European Pagans, I’m not certain anyone on the right wants to go there.

And Moses…there is a historical problem with Moses. There is historical evidence neither for a character named Moses, nor of immigration from Egypt to Israel, nor really of any Israelites in Egypt in the first place. Scholars have dismissed the old “Dorian” migrations as a myth because there isn’t any evidence for them. If Christianity wants to lay claim to being a historical religion then it must be subject to the same historical standards as everyone else, and if the Dorian migrations didn’t take place on the grounds of lack of evidence, then the same must be said of the Israelite migration.

Hengist and Horsa...who had nothing to do with the Constitution

And…oh boy…Hengist and Horsa… Here the bodily effluence gets truly deep. Not only do scholars not know if Hengist and Horsa actually existed, but if they did, they were Pagans. That’s just the facts. The Saxons, Angles, and Jutes, the earlier Germanic settlers of Post-Roman Britain, didn’t have Christianity yet.

According to Geoffrey of Monmouth (Historia Regum Britanniae, Book 6), Hengist told the British leader,

“We worship,” replied Hengist, “our country gods, Saturn and Jupiter, and the other deities that govern the world, but especially Mercury, whom in our language we call Woden and to whom our ancestors consecrated the fourth day of the week, still called after his name Wodensday. Next to him we worship the powerful goddess, Frea, to whom they also dedicated the sixth day, which after her name we call Friday.”

Now every good Heathen like yours truly recognizes Woden (Odin) and Frea (Freyja) and we all should be aware that as Geoffrey says, Wednesday and Friday are named after them (Tuesday is named after Tyr/Tiw, another Germanic god).

Seriously, folks, if there is a link here between the Constitution and an ancient religion, it ain’t Judeo-Christian but Pagan. I’m not sayin’, I’m just sayin’…

So it’s given that God didn’t write it and Moses didn’t bring it out of Egypt and the guys who didn’t bring it to England were Pagans, and Thomas Jefferson was in France while the Constitution was being written and had nothing to do with its authorship, the whole laughable myth collapses under its own weight.

Fact: The Constitution has very mundane origins. It was inspired by the secular European Enlightenment and new ideas circulating about inalienable or natural rights, and in particular, individual human rights, something not considered by the God-centered authors of the Hebrew Bible, who were not interested in rights, but in restrictions, not on what you can do, but what you must not do.

No, my fellow Americans, we have a Constitution, and that Constitution has an earthly, non-Jewish, non-Christian origin, and we should be proud of it, because we humans wrote it, not God, not some mythical figure out of legend, but we fallible humans. And it’s pretty damn good as human work goes. Not perfect, as we have learned over the past two hundred years, but pretty damn good.

I’d say we should be proud of it, and celebrate it for what it is, and not try to attach any mythical status to it either on the left (100% perfect deist Founders) or on the right (God and Moses). It is what it is, as they say, ratified and legal, and we should take it for what it is and make the best of it. It is, after all, the fallible (and human) thing to do.


[1] George Mendenhall  “Covenant Forms in Israelite Tradition” The Biblical Archaeologist 17 (1954), 58-60.

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