Liz Cheney Lies About Obama’s Afghanistan Policy

Dec 07 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues

Dishonesty as Policy Making: Dick and Liz Cheney

Look at that photo above. Would you trust those two to babysit your cat? Or even your gerbil? Alright, enough morbid creepification. I want your attention, not the contents of your stomach. This is a simple story to tell. The subject is Afghanistan.

Enter President Obama, stage left:

“We Will Execute This Transition Responsibly, Taking Into Account Conditions On The Ground.” From Obama’s speech announcing the deployment of additional troops to Afghanistan, December 1, 2009

“The Presidents further recognized that developing the Afghan National Security Forces’ capabilities is necessary to facilitate implementation of an orderly, conditions-based security transition process.” In a Joint Statement with President Karzai of Afghanistan, May 12, 2010

“The Pace Of Our Troop Reduction Will Be Determined By Conditions On The Ground.” Discussing the end of combat operations in Iraq on August 31, 2010

And enter Liz Cheney, stage right:

“You know, what I’d like to see — because I do believe that setting the 2011 deadline did cause significant damage to the effort, in terms of convincing people that we’re committed to be there to win — I’d like to see the president repudiate it. I’d like to see him say, ‘Just let’s be clear: We are going to make our decisions based on conditions on the ground, not based on dates we set back here in Washington.’ Fox Broadcasting Company’s Fox News Sunday, December 5, 2010

What conclusions must we draw from the evidence? Liz, you went to law school. This should be an easy one for you, a gimme. I’m sure the University of Chicago Law School must offer a class in ethics.

But let’s not be needlessly magnanimous. Liz Cheney is demonstrably no better than her father was in adhering to facts, as Media Matters for America has revealed. At least she didn’t say “refudiate,” but proper English doesn’t improve her fact quotient and character references.

Oxymoron: See Republican character references

Republican pundits and politicians show repeated and consistent aversion to facts. They are not really interested in the facts but in building a narrative, a narrative that puts liberals and progressives and in particular, President Obama, in a negative light. Contrasted to these is the shining Camelot-like purity of the Republican Party.

Cheney is supposed to be a Republican expert on Near Eastern/Middle Eastern affairs.  Granted, “expert” in a Republican context doesn’t mean much to judge from the examples of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann but Liz Cheney’s resume at least isn’t entirely imaginary: From 2002-2003 she was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs under the Bush administration. After taking 2004 off to work on the Bush-Cheney campaign she returned to the State Department  in February 2005 as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State For Near Eastern Affairs and Coordinator for Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiatives. In 2006 she added to her resume by heading the Iran Syria Policy and Operations Group (ISOG), a part of the State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.

Impressive credentials. We have a right to expect that experts try to stay abreast of affairs in their fields. I mean, how do you make or understand policy if you don’t understand the facts on the ground? Isn’t that what she is saying, that policy should be based on the conditions that actually obtain?

Ah yes, but the facts are often at odds with narrative. And when facts get in the way, facts must go in order to not impair the ideological purity of the narrative. When push comes to shove, the conditions on the ground give way before the demands of ideology. Isn’t that right, Liz?

FACT: Liz Cheney and her fellow Republicans feel they are themselves free of any reality-based constraints that (they insist) must bind the president and do not only truth but the American people a disservice by throwing the facts (and our president) under the bus in the name of political posturing.

As Bill Maher said the other day, “the Republican brand of ‘American exceptionalism’ is based on an unrealistic ‘fantasy’ that’s contradicted by facts.” Liz is not a cause but a symptom. “These people love the truth, they just hate facts,” Maher said.

It’s not as if Liz has ever really shown herself to have a scrupulous regard for the facts. Like father like daughter: Liz is a real chip off the old block, the daughter of one of the most reprehensibly creepy figures in modern American history. And this is not the first time Liz has told a big old lie about our president.

Back in September, President Obama reportedly said (according to Bob Woodward),

“We can absorb a terrorist attack. We’ll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever … we absorbed it and we are stronger.”

Liz was apparently ignorant of his words when she said,

“Americans expect our President to do everything possible to defend the nation from attack. We expect him to use every tool at his disposal to find, defeat, capture and kill terrorists. We expect him to deter attacks by making clear to our adversaries that an attack on the United States will carry devastating consequences. Instead, President Obama is reported to have said, ‘We can absorb a terrorist attack.’ This comment suggests an alarming fatalism on the part of President Obama and his administration. Once again the President seems either unwilling or unable to do what it takes to keep this nation safe. The President owes the American people an explanation.”

The real explanation is owed by Liz Cheney (and perhaps Bob Woodward). Why do you keep telling lies, Liz? Why don’t you tell the truth? Why don’t you give us an honest response to what has been said rather than inventing conditions to which to respond? You owe the American people an explanation.

We’re waiting.

9 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

Oklahoma Judge Stands Up for the First Amendment

Nov 24 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues

Qur'an

Oklahoma’s efforts to turn the state’s Muslim population into Untermensch (or “sub-humans”) in some sort of quasi-National Socialist racial hierarchy, with White Anglo-Saxon Protestants occupying the top rung as Herrenvolk (or “master race”) of the Volksgemeinschaft (or “national community”) have hit a snag.

A federal judge did what a federal judge is supposed to do when the people are threatened by excesses of democracy at the local level and issued a temporary restraining order on November 8, which keeps state election officials from certifying the vote.

Oklahoma voters passed the referendum by a 7-3 ratio. The people want it, certainly, but that doesn’t make it constitutional, since the Constitution is supposed to protect all citizens, not just the majority.

Judge LaGrange

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange ruled that the temporary restraining order will stay in place while she makes a decision as to whether injunction should be issued until the case is resolved. She says the final decision will be forthcoming no later than November 29 of this year.

Judge LaGrange is the Chief U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Oklahoma. You can read into her decision what you want, but she was the first black woman to serve as U.S. attorney for the Western District of the state. She also happens to be the first black woman to be elected to the Oklahoma State Senate. She is a native of Oklahoma City and no, she is not a Muslim. According to Uncrowned Queens: African American Community Builders,

Vicki Miles-LaGrange is an active member of the St. John Missionary Baptist Church since 1959.  At the church she continues her community service by serving on Deaconess Board, Usher Board and Social Department and is an active member of the St. John Lawyers’ Corps.

Muslims of course, are not happy with the referendum; nor should they be. One religion should not have the ability to delegitimize another in this country. That was the whole idea behind the First Amendment. If the State is able to rule that what one religion says of another religion, then we have violated that First Amendment and created state-sponsored religion – namely, Christianity.

CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has challenged the referendum on First Amendment grounds, saying that it disfavors and condemns the Muslim community” as being a threat to Oklahoma.” Which it does, and which is absurd. It would also have the effect of invaliding wills, and other private documents written in compliance with Muslim law.

As of 2009 there were only about 2.4 million Muslims in the United States – hardly a threat to the country at less than 1 percent of the population.

In any event, there is little or no difference between Sharia Law and Mosaic Law. They are both at heart Bronze Age law codes, they both call on the same god by different names, and neither has any real place in a modern liberal democracy because of their exclusive nature. Regardless of such objections, however, the state has no authority and no right to favor one religion over another. The referendum, like Proposition 8 in California, is unconstitutional.

The only just thing to do is to rule against ALL religious law, whatever its source and govern according to secular law. Religious law must always yield before the Constitution, and unfortunately, religious fundamentalists favor their Bible or their Qur’an over the Constitution. We can only hope that this wave of xenophobia does not persist as did anti-Semitism, and that fundamentalist Christians do not succeed in using the intolerant and violent actions of a few fundamentalist Muslims to dehumanize an entire religion.

6 responses so far

America Falling Down: We’re Not the Good Guys Anymore

Nov 23 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues

Everyone wants to believe they’re the good guy. Do you remember the film “Falling Down” directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Michael Douglas? Douglas plays William Foster, a divorced father and unemployed defense engineer. It is easy to identify Foster as the victim; he is stuck in traffic on a hot day (something we can all relate to), he has lost his job, and he wants to get to his daughter’s birthday party, a place and event at which he is not wanted by his ex-wife. She even has a restraining order to keep him away from her and their daughter.

We can identify with Foster. We feel badly for him. That man’s life has gone into the crapper and there seems to be no way out. It’s a hot day, his car’s air-conditioner has failed, a fly is buzzing around and he suddenly just can’t take it anymore. He gets out of his car and to the protests of his fellow motorists, who will see their own days ruined by his thoughtless action, he sets off on foot, alone, across the city, to get to his daughter’s birthday party.

Mr. Foster has had a mental collapse. He thinks he is the good guy in the piece, the victim, beset on all sides. This is his mindset as he embarks on a violent rampage across the city. The true moment of enlightenment comes at the end, when confronted by the authorities Foster says, “I’m the bad guy? How’d that happen? I did everything they told me to.”

The LAPD sergeant who has been chasing him confronts him at the end, and he acknowledges Foster’s complaint that he has been treated poorly by society but he tells him that this is no excuse for his violent rampage.

I see here a microcosm for America. I mean, this is what happened to America too, isn’t it? We suffered a mental collapse, the same thing that happened to William Foster. The attack in 2001 was just too much; it was the fly in the overheated car. People felt sorry for America just as they had felt sorry for William Foster. But like Foster, America didn’t prove worthy of the sympathy. It was wasted.  What Foster did was wrong; what America did was wrong.

I'm just standing up for my rights

We got out, walked across the world and went on a violent rampage. But at the end of it, there was no on to confront us with what we had done. Who would dare? We’re the world’s last remaining superpower. Rather than being forced to come to grips, as Foster did, with the reality of our deeds, and realize that we are the bad guy in the piece, we cling to the illusion that we are the good guy, that we are just standing up for our rights.

But we’re not the good guy in this piece. We surrendered our white hat at the door when we invaded a country that had done us no harm, using the same trumped up excuses that didn’t work for Hitler in ’39. Ten years later we’re still struggling with the weight of our deeds. We’ve never really admitted we were wrong. Bush is disappointed that there were no WMDs, he says, but that’s not an apology. Far from it. He still says he was right to invade Iraq. He was spreading Democracy he says. It’s good for them. Good for the whole region.

Well George W. Bush, William Foster had the same attitude towards the people he confronted on his personal rampage. He thought he was the good guy too, and until confronted at the end he retained this delusion. He was defending his rights as a consumer, he says at one point. He is always the victim, never the perpetrator. Always the guy betrayed, the strong man alone, standing up for his rights as he wades through a sea of betrayal on every side.

Everyone wants to be the good guy. Nobody thinks they are the bad guy. But sometimes you end up being wrong. Not everybody can be the good guy, after all. Sometimes it turns out you’re the bad guy. You may go to your grave thinking you were right, but the court of world opinion will usually have something to say about that, as will posterity and future historians.

Mea culpa – that’s Latin for “my bad” – we can’t even get a mea culpa out of Bush. Of course, even admitting America has made mistakes is conservative treason. They won’t stand for it. No room for sissies in new and improved American Exceptionalism 2010. Because President Obama is not continuing on Bush’s reckless rampage across the earth’s surface he is seen as apologizing for America’s actions and we can’t have that. Other countries apologize, but not us. We’re the good guys. We have nothing to apologize for.

We have this image of ourselves as the plucky little nation we haven’t been for over half a century, beset by powerful enemies, standing up for mom, apple pie and the flag. But even then that image wasn’t an accurate one. American imperialism has been with us nearly since our nation’s founding despite all the wishes to the contrary. In reality, we have been the bully of the piece, throwing our weight around, ignoring the rights of others.

Oh sure we’ve done some good. We intervened to stop the slaughter in 1917; we fought another imperialist power that meant us harm in ’41 and joined in a just war against Hitler four days later (not that we had a choice – he declared war on us) but there are plenty of sins to balance the good. We can’t claim the right to wear white hats, no more than anybody else can. The world is too nuanced for white and black hats, and so thinking in black and white terms is a little absurd, isn’t it? Shouldn’t we laugh at a country that tries to wear a white hat? Or should we cry?

Did we learn nothing from two world wars in the same century, from Korea, from Vietnam, and now from Iraq and Afghanistan? It’s all well and fine to want to be the good guy. As I said, everyone wants to be the good guy. But to be the good guy, don’t you have to actually BE the good guy? Just saying it, just believing it, isn’t going to make it so, and neither will re-writing the history books, which seems to be the Republican solution to America’s sins. Just write them away.

But like any alcoholic wanting to go sober, we have to confront our problem; we have to admit we have a problem, and come to grips with it. People caution about constitutional crises and domestic discord, but isn’t it better to keep it in the family than suffer an intervention on an international scale? Let’s think about the problem here for a bit, and stop making excuses for it.

13 responses so far

Going Rogue: The Bush Doctrine and American Exceptionalism

Nov 09 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party

Fruits of the Bush Doctrine

What is a pre-emptive or preventative war? A pre-emptive war is one you initiate if you think somebody is going to attack you, and you want to get the first blow in; in other words, pre-empt their attack. Obviously, having the initiative is a good thing in warfare, something you never want to lose. In the First World War, Germany adopted a pre-emptive strategy to attack France. Everybody in Europe was upset about Austria going after Serbia; Russia was mobilizing. France was not. No one but Austria and Serbia were actively at war. But the German plan called for taking France out first and then focusing on Russia. Russia was a potential threat. France was a potential threat.

The German Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg asked General Moltke:  “Is the Fatherland in danger?”

Moltke said, “Yes”.

It was as easy as that. Germany declared war on Russia on August 1 and France on August 3, 1914. But it wasn’t as simple or quick as anyone thought; it guided the history of Europe for half a century. There might still be a few people who do not realize that the Second World War was a continuation of the First.

Many excuses have been used to declare war over the many centuries of human existence. Humans love to make excuses; it makes them feel better about things, even when there is no real excuse.

Rome, for example, used a flimsy pretext to take out what was left of hated Carthage in 146 B.C.E. Of course, Carthage after losing the first two wars was no threat at all to Rome. It had been disarmed and in the words of Senator Lindsey Graham, “neutered.” But Carthage had grain. Rome needed grain. This excuse would come up less than a century later when Rome began to become involved with Ptolemaic Egypt. Keep that excuse in the back of your mind as we go along here.

Great Britain felt it had the right to interfere in European affairs and build coalition after coalition to defeat Napoleon, not because Napoleon, becoming emperor had attacked Britain (he had fought them as a general of the First Republic) but because they saw Napoleon as a threat. His rise to the rule of France had upset the Old Order of kings. It did not matter in the end if Napoleon wanted peace or not (and he has shouldered an unfair proportion of blame since 1815 since the victors wrote the history books), Britain was going to take him out. And they did.

Iraq: The Bush Doctrine at Work

There is a parallel here with Saddam Hussein. It didn’t matter if Saddam behaved or not. George W. Bush was going to take him out. He was talking about it as early as 1999, whatever lies he is telling in his recent autobiography. And it was really just an excuse. Bush knew as well as anyone that Saddam was no threat to the U.S. Bush’s father had stomped him (can we say “neutered”?) in the first Gulf War and the Iraqi dictator had been more or less behaving since then.

Bush said, “He has weapons of mass destruction!”

Of course, this was not true, and Bush knew it was not true. But it was a handy excuse.

Bush said, “Saddam was behind 9/11!”

Of course, this was not true, and Bush knew it was not true. Saddam didn’t let al Qaeda operate in Iraq. He knew that al Qaeda was at war with the rest of Islam and that it was a threat to his regime.

But it was a handy excuse.

Besides, and shades of Rome and Carthage here, America needed oil and Iraq had oil.

Excuses, it is important to remember, are not the same thing as reasons. The United States had an excuse to attack Iraq, albeit, a manufactured excuse, but it had no legitimate reason. Iraq had no WMDs, it had no way to effectively attack the U.S.  even if it had wanted.

In the end, Bush got his war, took our eyes off his inept handling of domestic issues, and profited hugely in economic terms while thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died, many of them innocent civilians. Iraq was literally ruined and is still recovering. Fifty-thousand American troops will remain there probably for years to come to bolster the new democratic regime.

None of this would be as relevant today if Republicans (and America’s belligerent ally, Israel) were not advocating attacking Iran, which, they claim, is a threat.

But it could equally and justly be argued that Israel and the U.S. are threats to Iran, couldn’t it? By this rationale doesn’t Iran have the right to attack us now, before we can attack them? And if they do, would we have a right to complain?

Who isn’t a threat to somebody else? If we all acted on potential threats the world be in a state of perpetual war. Does this line of reasoning make any sense at all?

The real problem lay in the assumption that if somebody is a threat to you that you have to attack them first. But you don’t. There is a thing called diplomacy. Clausewitz understood this if Bush did not: “War is not merely a political act, but also a political instrument, a continuation of political relations, a carrying out of the same by other means.”

Bush skipped the first part as irrelevant – political actions – diplomacy. For Bush, war became THE political instrument. No longer does war pick up where politics leave off; war becomes a substitution for politics.

Sarah Palin infamously did not know what the Bush Doctrine was, but we do, don’t we?

It was Dick Cheney who said it, of course:

“If there’s a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It’s not about our analysis … It’s about our response.”

This is, in a nutshell, the Bush Doctrine, also known as the One Percent Doctrine. But of course, the Bush Doctrine also enshrined such concepts as,

  1. Preventative (pre-emptive) war
  2. Deposing foreign regimes who might be a potential or perceived threat to U.S.  security
  3. Spreading democracy, especially in Middle East
  4. Unilateral pursuit of U.S. military interests

And all this packaged with an unhealthy dose of American Exceptionalism, the new term for extreme nationalism, the evils of which led to WWI and thus to WWII and thus to the Cold War.

In the end, it all boils down to “Might makes right.”

We modern folks look back on Empires like Rome and shake our heads at their naked imperialist ambitions (all too often not realizing or understanding the complexities of Rome’s relations with its neighbors) but apparently are willing to re-elect a political party in our own supposedly enlightened time that embraces a species of naked imperialism even Rome never suffered from. For example, Rome attacked Macedonia because Macedonia had sided with Hannibal and Carthage. But Saddam had not sided with al Qaeda and it was al Qaeda which attacked the United States, not Iraq.

The Roman Republic, with no court of world opinion, moved more reluctantly to war than the United States.

Essentially, Bush and Republicans like Lindsey Graham today seem to think that the One Percent Doctrine should be a permanent  part of substitute for American diplomacy. Anyone is a threat, might be a threat, or might be perceived as a threat: attack and destroy.

No, even empires like Rome did not operate like that. And no empire, including Rome, enjoyed the preponderance of force enjoyed by the United States today.

It is time to consider what would come of Republican victories in 2012. We can be reasonably certain that President Obama will not attack Iran. But a Republican president, like Bush fully backed (one might say owned by) profiteers and oil companies? It is time to be reducing an appeal to war, to making war less an instrument of policy and understand that for war should be a last, not a first resort.

11 responses so far

Emboldened by Victories, Republicans Back to Warmongering

Nov 06 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, White House

Mark Udall, Norm Ornstein, and Lindsey Graham

Emboldened by their midterm victories, Republicans are already back to warmongering. Having invaded and conquered Iraq (where 50,000 U.S. troops remain to buttress the new government) and mired down in an endless war in Afghanistan, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) now wants to attack Iran.

Because attacking Iraq and Afghanistan was such a good idea, right Lindsey?

Speaking at a forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia, he said we need to “neuter” them:

“Instead of a surgical strike on their nuclear infrastructure, I think we’re to the point now that you have to really neuter the regime’s ability to wage war against us and our allies. And that’s a different military scenario. It’s not a ground invasion but it certainly destroys the ability of the regime to strike back.”

You know, leaders have become war criminals for neutering their neighbors, so what makes Lindsey Graham any different?

He’s afraid of Iran’s possible future nuclear capability. Apparently he thinks that because a country that has never attacked us and never threatened to attack us might somebody be a threat, that we should attack them first.

Because this is legal under international law, right Lindsey?

No, it isn’t. It isn’t moral and it isn’t legal.

What Lindsey Graham is suggesting is that the United States become a rogue nation, like other nations who have run around attacking people on a whim. Remember when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Lindsey, because they saw the United States as a future possible threat?  We didn’t like that much did we, Lindsey? We roundly condemned them for it, didn’t we Lindsey? We called it a “Day of Infamy.”

Is illegally attacking Iraq not good enough for you? Then invading Afghanistan? You want a trifecta of infamy? And if some other country might someday pose a threat to the U.S., do you want to attack them to? Where does it end, Lindsey? Is Syria next? Who else is on your list of potential enemies?

Of course, Lindsey says he recognizes the risks: Yes, Iran might retaliate, he says, in Afghanistan or through terrorist attacks, but

“You can expect that. You can expect, for a period of time, all hell to break loose. You must have to almost plan for that. And weigh that against the idea of a nuclear-armed Iran and what that means to the future of the world.”

And it doesn’t hardly enter into it that the United States will see its stock drop still further in the international fraternity of nations.

Is this what you Republicans mean when you say President Obama is apologizing for the U.S.? That if we’re not attacking somebody we’re apologizing? Is that your rationale?

Lindsey thinks President Obama isn’t bold enough because of course, Post-Bush Republicans don’t recognize such a thing as international diplomacy?

Such a policy is at best reckless and at worst, catastrophic. But Lindsey is in a hurry. He wants action now because, he says, “Every day that goes by and we’re indifferent. … then that’s a day lost.”

All I can say is that it is a good thing for America and Iran – and for the world – that Lindsey Graham is not president. We don’t need any more wars right now, thank you, Lindsey. We have oh so many troops to spare.

Senator Mark Udall (D -Colorado) disagreed; pointing out that Lindsey’s plan would have “worldwide repercussions.”

“I’m not willing to put my support behind that step here in a theoretical context, but I think you’ve got to keep every option on the table and let the Iranian regime know that we’re deadly serious, not just as the United States of America, but as a world community.”

And paying for it, Lindsey? If you’re not going to consider the repercussions or the immorality of your proposal, consider the cost. How does balancing the budget and being fiscally responsible and not raising taxes pay for a war? Do you realize what we are still paying everyday for our presence in Iraq, for our war in Afghanistan?

Are you going to jump in a tank or a plane and personally lead the attack, Lindsey? No, you’re going to expect innocent young men and women to die for your irrational and reckless behavior. No surprise; I didn’t notice the Republican leadership or their children jumping at the chance to go overseas and fight and die for their country.

Every day there is no war is another day we can work for peace, and not the peace of the grave. It’s called diplomacy, Lindsey. It’s worked in the past. It can work again.

Give peace a chance.

22 responses so far

The GOP’s Unconstitutional Remedies

The GOP Wants You!

I think Most Americans have a basic understanding of how our political system is structured and how it works. People run for office for one political party or another, one is elected and the other(s) lose. This is a simple, easy to understand system; it has been in place in this country for better than two centuries and it has worked more or less, for that entire time. I say “more or less” because we cannot forget the Civil War, when one segment of the country – the slave-owning South – did not like how things were going (i.e. the demise of slavery) and decided they didn’t want to play anymore with the other states. They picked up their toys and went home. They called their new country the “Confederate States of America.”

Our president at the time, Abraham Lincoln (a Republican) said, “I don’t think so” and the two sides fought. Six hundred thousand dead Americans later, the South lost. The slaves were freed. The Constitution was updated to reflect this fact. That seemed to have settled the issue. Let the record reflect, Lincoln essentially said, that we are one country and that those men did not die in vain:

It is time to reflect on the meaning of the Constitution, and upon Lincoln’s words. Every state has ratified the Constitution. The Constitution says, and we have agreed, that we are one nation, not a confederation of independent nations as under the Articles of Confederation.  The Civil War bloodily drove this point home: that we are all in this together, one nation undivided, and that we don’t simply up and quit when things don’t go our way. We don’t get to take our toys home. No, we work to change them democratically, through the Constitution. When necessary, we even make amendments to the Constitution, as the Founding Fathers did when they incorporated the Bill of Rights (actually ten amendments) into that document (1791); as the Lincoln-sponsored Thirteenth Amendment (1865) freed the slaves and the Nineteenth (1920) gave women the right to vote.

Amendments are Constitutional remedies; Secession and armed rebellion are not. They are treason.

Increasingly, right wing politicians and pundits have advocated violent opposition to things they don’t like (i.e. liberal governance). New York Times columnist Frank Rich drew a clear and undeniable connection between FOX News’ Glenn Beck and right-wing extremist Byron Williams. These right-wing demagogues have increasingly and chillingly advocated un-Constitutional remedies if things don’t go their way in the upcoming midterm elections.

The lesson of the Civil War seems to be lost on these men and women. Let’s look at a few examples:

We have all the Tenther talk about “states rights,” a conversation that leads quickly to talk about secession, including Texas governor Rick Perry, who said,

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

Another governor, Sarah Palin of Alaska, had ties (through her husband) to Alaska-first secessionists. There is Palin’s infamous March 2010 Tweet,

Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: “Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!” Pls see my Facebook page.

There is a congressional candidate in Nevada, Sharron Angle, who blithely spoke of “Second Amendment remedies” in case of defeat. In an interview with conservative talk-show host Bill Manders, she said,

Angle: I feel that the Second Amendment is the right to keep and bear arms for our citizenry. This not for someone who’s in the military. This not for law enforcement. This is for us. And in fact when you read that Constitution and the founding fathers, they intended this to stop tyranny. This is for us when our government becomes tyrannical…

Manders: If we needed it at any time in history, it might be right now.

Angle: Well it’s to defend ourselves. And you know, I’m hoping that we’re not getting to Second Amendment remedies. I hope the vote will be the cure for the Harry Reid problems.

We can now add to the list Stephen Broden, a Texas pastor running for Congress, who says that,

“We have a constitutional remedy. And the Framers say if that don’t work, revolution.”

The problem is that the Framers didn’t say that. Revolution is not in any amendment; it is not in the Constitution. Yet Broden insists that if a violent uprising “is not the first option,” it is still “on the table.”

No, it’s not. It cannot be.

This treason narrative is all a part – and a result – of the larger Republican “myth of usurpation,” that since their ’08 defeat in the national elections the GOP is a “government in exile” and that President Obama is a “Kenyan Muslim” usurper.

Republicans have somehow been able to convince themselves that their country has been taken away from them and that they want it back. Never mind that it is our country – ours collectively – and that the country they seem to want to “take back” never existed outside of their imaginations. Two centuries of sometimes diametrically opposed forces working together, through contention and compromise and quid pro quo, have brought about this nation. The American Revolution ended British rule; the Constitution created the United States of America, and that creation did not all happen at once. It was a process; the United States is the result of political compromise and evolution, not violent overthrow.

Compromise, the very thing right-wing politics, married to Old Testament standards of religious purity, refuse to do.

Broden, like the other wannabe Che Guevara’s on the right, seems convinced that he has every legal right to overthrow a legally and constitutionally elected government if he doesn’t like it:

“If the government is not producing the results or has become destructive to the ends of our liberties, we have a right to get rid of that government and to get rid of it by any means necessary.”

I would invite Pastor Broden to point to the relevant article in the Constitution to justify that claim.

Broden seems – belatedly – to have realized he went too far, and has backed off a bit in his statements since the incident, but these incidents mark a disturbing trend in right-wing politics.

We can add military personnel to this list of politicians. There is Army Lt. Col. Terry Lakin who refuses to deploy overseas because he won’t accept President Obama as his legitimate commander in chief. And Lakin was not the first. Last year, an Army Reserve major first volunteered to serve in Afghanistan, then, according to MSNBC, “filed suit to keep from being deployed, arguing that Obama was not a natural-born citizen.”

Now we have Stealth bomber pilot Major Brian “Jethro” Neal, who, Bruce Wilson of Talk to Action reports, says

“I’m going to have to separate myself from the service of this nation if it’s required in order to propagate the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m not going to disregard my responsibilities. But if there ever comes a time when there is a priority to be made, a decision to be made, it must always rest in the work of the Lord and the Lord’s army. Because that commission is greater than the one I received from the United States Air Force Academy.”

Bruce Wilson reminds us that the oath sworn by Neal as a member of the U.S. armed forces, promises that he would,

“support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

As Wilson points out,

“Neal’s statement seemed imply that his “commission” in the “Lord’s army” superseded his commission, as an Air Force officer, to defend the Constitution and obey the President and the chain of command. As an elected official, Nevada Republican Senate hopeful Sharron Angle has sworn similar oaths, to defend the American Constitution and, by extension, American Democracy. Like Neal, Angle has made statements that suggest she is less than fully committed to Constitutional democracy.”

It seems that not only do Republican candidates show little awareness of the Constitution and what is in it, but they do not think it applies if it does not give them the results they want. President Bush treated our founding document like a list of suggestions he could ignore at will, and that seems to be the continuing trend on the right. But there are constitutional remedies to the Constitution. It is called democracy. Republicans ought to consider trying it. It has worked for this country for a couple of centuries. And those that don’t wish to play along? We have a remedy for them as well: it’s called federal prison.

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Banning Sharia Law in Oklahoma

Sep 29 2010 Published by under Featured News, Republican Party

Rex Duncan, Constitutionally Unaware Islamophobe

Well, you knew it had to be coming given all the Islamphobia flying around the right-end of the political spectrum: a state considering a constitutional amendment banning Sharia Law.

Yes, Sharia Law. Bush and his cronies spent eight years violating the Constitution, running the country into the ground, violating the First Amendment, systematically plundering this country and its tax-payers to line their pockets, and these people are worried about Sharia Law.

Because, as we all know, the imminent threat of Sharia Law transcends every other threat to the United States. No doubt the same people who oppose Sharia Law so vehemently would be more than happy to welcome Mosaic Law, which is, ironically and hypocritically enough, nearly identical to Sharia Law. Both, folks, are essentially Bronze Age law codes. Don’t let anyone kid you, and neither have any place in a modern liberal democracy.

Oklahoma – not Texas this time – is the place. Yes, they’re hosting a referendum on Islam – State Question 755 the “Save Our State” amendment. If it is passed, state courts will be prohibited from considering Islamic Sharia law in making rulings. That’s fine with me; they shouldn’t be considering Mosaic Law either since our government is secular.

The bill’s sponsor is Representative Rex Duncan (R-Sand Springs) who claims the legislation is intended to “protect” the courts from being “hijacked” by people we are “at war” with. Because, Rex, we are at war with Islam, right? Wrong. We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with a sect within Islam that is itself at war with Islam. Islam is not the enemy, Rex. You are.

Here’s what Rex says:

Oklahoman’s recognize that America was founded on Judeo Christian principles and we’re unapologetically grateful that God has blessed America and blessed our state. State amendment 755, the Save Our State Amendment is a simple effort to insure our courts are not used to undermine those founding principles and turn Oklahoma into something our founding fathers and our great grandparents wouldn’t recognize.

No, Rex, America was not founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and the whole “Judeo-Christian” concept is a mirage, an artificial construct. There is no such thing. American law is based on English common-law, which while it is impacted by Pagan Roman Law is in no way based on the Ten Commandments. Nor, Rex, if you will take the time to look, will you find mention of YHWH, Jesus, the Bible, or the Ten Commandments in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights.

Epic fail, Rex. Truly epic fail.

And of course this is all despite the complete absence of evidence that any court weighs Sharia Law in its rulings, and even Rex admits as much but excuses himself by saying,

This is a pre-emptive strike to make sure that liberal judges don’t take the bench in an effort to use their position to undermine those founding principles that are international or Sharia law. the other part of the question is to prohibit all state courts from considering international or Sharia law when considering cases, even cases of first impression.

Rex thinks Islam is too harsh on women, compared to say, modern Republicans like Sharron Angle who think women should stay at home while the man works – excluding Sharron herself, of course. Rex says Islam’s treatment of women is incompatible with American principles. To be perfectly honest, so is the American conservative’s treatment of women. The record speaks for itself; Rex is not likely to jump up in support of women’s rights. No other conservative has.

Rex seems eager to join the lemming-race of conservatives – a race that includes Newt Gingrich who came out with a similar position at the Value Voters Summit this month, Lt. Gov Ron Ramsey (R) of Tennessee, and Lynne Torgerson (I) who is running for the Minnesota House – trying to outdo each other in craziness:

It’s a growing threat frankly. This again is a pre-emptive strike. They understand that this is a war for the survival of America, it’s a cultural war it’s a social war. It’s a war for the survival of our country. And other states have looked away and kow towed to political correctness, have lost the chance perhaps to save their state. I believe Oklahoma voters at a margin greater than 90% will approve this state amendment and when we do, other red states and maybe even some lesser blue states will decide their states are worth saving too.

Frankly, Rex, I’m more worried about the Christian fundamentalism here at home than Islamic fundamentalism over there, thousands of miles away. There is no sign, no evidence, not the remotest indication that there is any threat of Sharia Law overturning the Constitution. Without a shred of evidence, you go off the deep end. You’re not a “true patriot” Rex, but a fear monger. Nothing but a lowly fear mongering demagogue, indistinguishable from all the other fear mongering demagogues on the right.

Given a choice between Mosaic and Sharia Law…well, there isn’t one, to be frank. They’re equally unhealthy choices for a modern liberal democracy that enshrines ideas of tolerance and pluralism – things our Nation was founded upon, by the way, Rex, if you’ll only bother to look.

8 responses so far

Republican Cowards Can’t Handle the Truth About Terrorism

Sep 22 2010 Published by under Featured News, Issues, Republican Party, White House

Fox News delivers the rage and fear crack

Republican Cowards Can’t Handle the Truth About Terrorism

You’d think with the way Republicans have been begging Muslim extremists to hate America (see Cordoba House, Terry Jones, Sarah Palin lying about a Muslim candidate wanting to kill American children and entirety of Fox News) that they could handle the truth that we are being targeted. However, true to form, the Republicans are showing themselves to be the cowards who incite violence and then run away from the consequences.

Republicans are up in arms over reports from Woodward’s new book on Obama, wherein he reveals that the President said essentially the same thing George W Bush said: America can absorb another attack, we are strong.

Media Matters reports:

The Washington Post reported on September 22 that in Bob Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars, Obama is quoted as saying: “We can absorb a terrorist attack. We’ll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever … we absorbed it and we are stronger.”

From his September 11, 2001 Address to the Nation, Bush said: “A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shattered steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.”

The Right has responded to Woodward’s Obama quote by claiming all kinds of now to-be-expected hopeful yet willfully inaccurate narratives, all of them bad. I know, you’re shocked.

Fox went nuts with their typical propagandist bent. According to Media Matters, on the September 22 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson said that Obama’s comment is [[a]] “very interesting … because I’m not sure that any American would want to absorb one little, tiny terrorist attack in any community across this country, because, obviously, that would mean that people would die. So I don’t think that anyone would want to have that opinion about absorbing a terrorist attack.” Carlson added, “Maybe it’s taken out of context. I don’t know.” During the segment, onscreen text stated, “Inviting another 9/11? President: ‘We can absorb a terror attack’

You have to love Fox’s crawlers, which tell the viewer what they’re supposed to think, while allowing the puppet host to “ask questions” and maintain “deniability” of their partisan attempt to discredit the President. Fahrenheit 451 is here, friends. The big screen is talking to you, sisters and brothers. Just take this pill and you’ll know what to think.

Then, we had on the September 22 edition of Fox & Friends, “Fox News contributor John Bolton called Obama’s comments “outrageous” and stated: “How can an American president say that, as if he’s a detached observer and doesn’t care about Americans dying?” Bolton then said that the comments “ought to prove” that Obama is not qualified to be commander-in-chief.

I’m sold, how bout you? I know I’d feel better with a war-monger in office who not only incited an attack, but then hid in his plane for the entire day after ignoring intel regarding said attack for months. Gosh, those were the days.

There’s plenty more for the pickin’, but we’ll end with this classic: “In a September 21 Gateway Pundit post, Warner Todd Huston responded to comments by suggesting that Obama is “green with envy that Bush got that big moment” and that Obama wants “a big attack of his own” to “show the world what a great president he could be!””

Like Bush did?

A pause please for gravity.

What they’re really afraid of is the fear of the American people were we to be attacked again, because the fear would drive them into Obama’s arms faster than any ethereal healthcare reform explanation ever could. But knowing this, it makes no sense for them to be clamoring for someone to attack us. It’s almost as if they are bound and determined to get us hit again so they can point their fingers and scream, “See? It happened under your guy too! Neener neener!” I guess they just can’t help themselves, and we should know by now not to expect reasonable behavior from these folks. They’re driven by emotion and fear. It’s all they have.

It’s rather confusing for the Right to be upset about Obama saying we’re strong enough to handle another attack (see, these folks just can’t handle the truth or nuance because clearly the man isn’t saying he wants one), as it exemplifies the sort of American exceptionalism they believe in. But perhaps we had all just best face the fact that the Right can’t handle the truth anymore; when they hear it, they’re going to freak out like scared schoolyard bullies when the Principal shows up.

And certainly with their flag waving obnoxious inciting of the Muslim extremists in the last few months, they should expect an attack. Of course, that assumes they are reasonable, logical people, which clearly they aren’t. Obama’s steady acceptance of the possibility of this fact is just one more thing they think they can jump on to weaken his presidency, but in fact, it does the opposite.

Obama is not a weak man. He didn’t get where he is today by accepting terrorism. If he did, the Republicans would be winning control of the paradigm shift Obama has started, and they’re not. The liberal agenda has come further under Obama than it did under Clinton, and we’re only a year and a half in. We have passed health insurance reform, we had DADT up for debate, Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Act into being, and most of all, Obama passed a stimulus which benefited the middle class instead of the TARP passed by Bush which bailed out banks and Wall Street. None of these is perfect, nor are they the stopping point; but they are an undeniable paradigm shift to the left.

The Right aren’t going to stop crying and whining at every turn, except for the brief pause when they are waving red flags in demagoguery at the Muslim world, daring them to hit us again if not begging them to. Of course, they were warned repeatedly to cease such behavior from their own hero General Petraeus no less, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.

But what did he expect from a party which resembles unruly child bullies? We all know words don’t work with these folks. Gosh, whatever happened to the hubristic chants of “USA! USA! USA!”? I guess when the fear crack pipe gets low, the Republicans wig out and their true, cowardly nature comes out. They’re all jacked up on hate and fear and nothing short of impeaching the man who was elected in a landslide will do it for them. They needs them some hate crack and they know where to get it. Fox News. Giving the Right their rage crack all day and all night.

They’re going to keep on inciting violence and terrorism and then when it happens, they’ll hide under the covers (just like Bush did, cowardliness seems to be inherent in the modern day Republican Party), and wait for Obama to deal with their mess. Same old story. In the immortal words of their leader, Sarah Palin, might I kindly suggest they get some “cojones”.

6 responses so far

Christian Dominionists and Islamists: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Sep 20 2010 Published by under Featured News, Republican Party

Racing to see who will destroy our country

Christian and Islamic extremists drink from the same wellspring of authoritarianism – the desire to impose authority, to force submission to dogma, and to compel obedience. Choice is not an option. As conservative Christianity long ago ruled, choice is heresy.

Don’t ask questions; Just believe, third century critic Celsus was told. This is a dangerous enough equation in religion; in politics the consequences are catastrophic.

You can’t dictate reality; but that reality is what it is whatever we might wish it to be, seems beside the point. Reality – and facts – must be made to adhere to a preset ideological framework.

As though science had never begun to explain the universe they chant, “Our holy book, the [insert sacred text of choice] gives you all the answers you will ever need. Feel free to express any opinion you wish so long as it is among those found in this book.” Indeed, the more science explains, the less people express a need for revealed religions and ultimate truths, the shriller and more desperate their rhetoric becomes.

And secularism is on the rise: from 8% of the U.S. population in 1990 to 15% in 2008. By the late ’70s some 20% of Americans described themselves as nonbelievers.

Nonbelievers don’t obey religious dictates and don’t care about dogma. And the numbers above do not include the growing numbers of adherents attracted to alternative or “non-mainstream” religions. These are the people most comfortable in a modern liberal democracy, which has as its lifeblood the toleration that religious extremists reject.

A pluralistic liberal democracy is the antithesis of black and white thinking, the enemy of either/or propositions, and pushes a new paradigm of compromise and tolerance over the old good versus evil model.

Christian extremists (we can call them dominionists) hate this. Islamists hate this. In them both the old fashioned crusader/jihadist mentality still flourishes. In truth, these extremists fell out of the same tree and they have more in common than they would like to admit.

Some of America’s right-wing politicians, those most fervently attacking Islam today, those most vociferous in their denunciation of Sharia Law, are the most alike in their thinking: submit to God and turn the clock back to the Middle Ages.

This era was for both a Golden Age, an age in which scripture could be legislated into law; when a holy book could be misinterpreted not only as a code of law but as a textbook on political theory.

One group champions Sharia Law, the other Mosaic Law, all the while denying they’re the same thing, and denying that the same god, the God of Abraham, wrote or inspired them both.

Reality as a Shakespearean tragedy; or is it a comedy?

But while fear of Islam is unreasonable, just as is fear of Christianity (unless one wants to fear all revealed religions as threats to liberal democracy), fear of Islamism is not unreasonable, as (in Timothy Ferris’ words) it “resuscitates the totalitarian enthusiasm that nearly wrecked Europe.”

Historian Bernard Lewis sees Christianity and Islam as two forces that have been at loggerheads since the sixth century. He observed in 1954 – at the height of the Cold War – that there are “certain uncomfortable resemblances” between communism and Islamism – both offer “complete and final answers to all questions on heaven and earth…both groups offer to their members and followers their agreeable sensation of belonging to a community of believers, who are always right, as against an outer world of nonbelievers, who are always wrong.”

Of course, Bernard Lewis was writing before the dawn of Christian dominionism, and his words are equally applicable to America’s Religious Right, which takes its cue (and inspiration) from the apocalyptic, persecution-complex-ridden Christian communities of the second century, fervently hoping – and waiting for – the end times.

Apocalypse now. To hell with waiting until 2012. Let’s get it on! A sordid, terrifying specter of the past.

And if Islamism and communism shared Christianity as an enemy, and Hitler co-opted it, America’s conservative Christians name not only Islam the enemy, but secularism, atheism, feminism, Paganism, liberalism, and most disturbing of all – science.

Yet another alarming thing the Religious Right and Islamism have in common: a hatred and distrust of science.

As if the rest isn’t alarming enough.

Ironically, (and to expand on another of Timothy Ferris’ thoughts) Islamists and the Religious Right both view the west as a “decaying shell” and agree that the only way people can support liberal democracy is if they are deluded and wicked.

And dominionists will shout to be heard above the Islamists in their claims that Western liberals are deluded and wicked.

Islamic scholar Gulam Sarwar says that “Religious and politics are one and the same in Islam.” How any times have we heard Republicans make the same argument for Christianity? We have written about them here quite often. Start keeping a list: look at it every time one of them mutters something about Islamism.

Islamists want to restore the Caliphate, the Great Universal Muslim Empire that Never Was. The Religious Right wants to resurrect the Holy Roman Empire, the Great Universal Christian Empire that Never Was. If they succeed, they can (and probably will) re-enact that favorite historical drama, the Crusades. Both will desire a better outcome for their ideology.

The rest of us will, lamentably, and tragically, be caught in the middle. And this time it will not be spears and swords and arrows that decide the issue, but nuclear weapons.

We came close to a Dominionist Bliss-out in 2003 when President Bush declared a crusade against Iraq and one of his generals announced it was not a nation but Satan who was the enemy.

Bush was one thing. Sarah Palin is another. Meditate for a moment on the image of a Mama Grizzly, witch-hunting pastor at her side, with the nuclear football in her hands. If that image is no more wholesome than that of a Osama bin Laden with a nuclear warhead beneath his robes, then you are properly grasping the gravity of the situation and the threat we face.

Just because you occupy the White House doesn’t mean you can’t be a terrorist.

Both want to make an offering to their god of the Enlightenment’s most sublime attainment: the American Constitution.

Christian Dominionism and Islamism: Drinking from the same source, it is no wonder they want the same thing – and liberal democracy stands squarely in their path.

You do the math. And vote appropriately.

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