Posts Tagged “conservatism”

Raised seal on Barack Obama's birth certificate/FactCheckI’ve blogged before on the phenomenon of demonstrably-erroneous ideas that just will not die out, no matter how often they’re refuted. And I cited the “birther” delusion … i.e. the idea that President Barack Obama is not an American citizen and thus not entitled to hold office … as a prime example of this. His birth certificate from Hawai’i has been checked out and is fully legitimate (see FactCheck and Politfact, cached here and here).

But the Birthers, you see, don’t give a flying fuck about that. They just know, you see, that he’s not really an American. And they intend never to let go of that idea, no matter the facts. (One way they do this is to dismiss all fact-checking Web sites as “biased,” even though neither of the sites I linked to above avoids pointing out Obama’s exaggerations, misstatements, and lies. So they aren’t “biased” in the President’s favor.)

Because of the persistence of the “birther” delusion among their constituents, GOP politicians are constantly dancing around the subject, trying to appeal to “birtherism” without saying something that will make them look like total morons in the eyes of the rest of the country. Unfortunately, despite their wishes, there is no viable way to do that. Any conciliation to “birtherism” is, by definition, moronic.

That said, there are some who simply don’t care that they look like total morons. Among them, as MSNBC’s Maddow blog reports, is Jeff Duncan of the great Biblical state of South Carolina (WebCite cached article):

As my friend Kyle Mantyla at Right Wing Watch reported yesterday, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) was a guest on Rick Wiles’ unhinged radio show the other day to discuss some of the major issues of the day, including the host’s fears that immigration reform may lead the government to implant biometric scanners in U.S. citizens. Wiles specifically asked Duncan whether lawmakers might “pursue Barack Obama’s phony identification papers.”

Duncan initially tied to laugh it off, saying that people should have voted against Obama during the last election but Wiles refused to let it go, saying “if we know they are lying about all these other things, why not go back and say ‘well, maybe the first scandal was a lie too?'”

And with that point, Duncan wholeheartedly agreed, saying “there you go; I’m all with you, so let’s go back and revisit some of these things because Americans have questions about not only the IRS scandal but also about the president’s validity.”

A recording of Duncan’s comments is provided by Right Wing Watch via Youtube:

Sadly, this is yet another example of GOP insanity. I wonder how long it will take these guys to get over the fact that Obama was elected in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. My guess is, they won’t. Hundreds of years from now there will still be lunatic Right-wingers screaming to high heaven that the US had an ineligible president in office for 8 years.

The best thing for everyone, of course, is for Republican officials, and the “birtherist” masses to whom they’re appealing, to just fucking grow the hell up and get over the fact that someone they despise was elected president. Maturity is the only solution to this mass delusion. Unfortunately, even grown adults tend to resist maturity. More’s the pity.

P.S. I’m well aware that Rachel Maddow and the Right Wing Watch are both ideologically-driven Web sites, and tend to avoid such sources, however, in this case there’s primary-source evidence to back up the report of what Duncan said. I suppose RWW could have faked this recording … but barring evidence to the contrary, I doubt they did so.

Photo credit: FactCheck.

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crying babyNo sooner do I get done blogging about how Christians routinely and pathologically lie about the extent to which their religion has been persecuted — both historically and in the present day — I hear about a new outrage among them that’s got their knickers in a knot over precisely the same thing. It seems Google has decided to celebrate Easter 2013 with one of its “Google doodles” … featuring Cesar Chavez, whose birthday happens to be March 31 (this year, the same day as Easter). The Canadian Press via CTV News reports on their sanctimonious rage over this horrific, intolerable insult (WebCite cached article):

Google’s decision to honour the birthday of U.S. labour organizer Cesar Chavez angered some American Christians on Sunday, who fumed that it was disrespectful to celebrate Chavez with a so-called Google Doodle on Easter Sunday.

The face of Chavez, a Mexican immigrant who organized Latino farm workers in the 1960s, was situated in the middle “o” of the Google logo on Sunday as the search engine giant opted against recognizing a secular holiday to commemorate what would have been the civil rights activist’s 86th birthday.

Conservative websites assailed Google’s decision.

In case you haven’t see it yet, here’s a screen shot of the Google doodle in question:

Google Web site, showing Google doodle honoring the 86th birthday of the late activist Cesar Chavez (3/31/2013)

Google Web site, showing Google doodle honoring the 86th birthday of the late activist Cesar Chavez (3/31/2013)

Already, conservatives have identified what they believe as the source of this outrageous attack on their religion; why, it could only be the hated President Barack Obama:

The Daily Caller expressed confusion about why Google “chose specifically to honour Chavez’s birthday, instead of Easter Sunday.”

The conservative news organization also suggested Obama might have influenced Google’s thinking. Google CEO Eric Schmidt was an “informal adviser” in both of Obama’s presidential campaigns, the Daily Caller reported, was a member of his transition team in 2009 and is apparently rumoured for a cabinet position during the president’s second term.

I’d like to break a little news to these angry conservatives: Google is a company that can do whatever it fucking wants with its Web site. If that means they honor Cesar Chavez’s birthday on Easter Sunday, then that’s what it means. And you know what? There’s not a fucking thing you sniveling crybabies can do to prevent it! Time to stand by your own stated pro-business rhetoric and let a corporation do what it wants to do. Anything else is clearly hypocritical … and if I may point it out, your own Jesus explicitly and unambiguously ordered you never, ever to be hypocritical … not at any time, and not for any reason.

Amusingly, the article notes that conservatives’ anger is so consuming that some of them conflated two different Chavezes (Cesar, and Hugo):

Others on social media praised Google for honouring Chavez and mocked those who confused him with Hugo Chavez, the recently deceased Venezuelan president.

The Twitter account for The Twitchy, conservative pundit Michelle Malkin’s right-wing news outlet, initially claimed Google was honouring the late revolutionary.

That they’d confuse two different men, both of whom they despise passionately, is just hilarious! I can hardly keep from laughing at their stupidity and ignorance.

At any rate, none of this is unexpected. Religious Rightists simply can’t tolerate anything that they view as “dissing” their religion. They view any slight to their faith as a very real “attack” on their persons, little different from being punched in the face or held up at gunpoint. That companies like Google are free to decorate their Web sites however they wish, is irrelevant in the face of this perceived insult. They quite simply refuse to tolerate any apparent disrespect for their religion.

Photo credit: Ernesto JT, via Flickr.

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Raised seal on Barack Obama's birth certificate/FactCheckAs I’ve blogged a number of times already, Birtherism is a delusion that simply will not die. A frequent mantra of Birthers is that Obama has never produced his birth certificate. That, however, is factually incorrect; he has done so, and did it prior to his election in 2008. See FactCheck and Politfact, cached here and here for the evidence. (Note, neither of these fact-checking sites is “biased” towards Obama and the Democrats; recently, for instance, FactCheck pointed out tall tales told by him and by his party, and Politifact has a running “Obameter” listing promises he’s made, and has not shied from listing some as broken.) Oh, and that Kenyan birth certificate you may have heard about? It’s a fake (cached).

Making this situation worse is that denial that Obama is a US citizen has become religionized, and inextricably linked to the claim that he’s a Muslim. So the delusion has taken on an added dimension and, essentially, doubled in scope. Yes, that’s been covered by FactCheck (cached) and Politifact (cached), too — but again, the deluded Right-wing Birthers don’t give a fuck about facts.

Birtherism among Rightists has become so strong and pervasive, that GOP leaders refuse to confront it any more. If anything, they make excuses for Birtherism and wink in its direction. A recent example is House Speaker John Boehner, who did exactly this during his appearance on Meet the Press yesterday (WebCite cached article). When host David Gregory asked about persistent Birtherism, he said:

David, it’s not my job to tell the American people what to think. Our job in Washington is to listen to the American people.

That’s an interesting claim on Boehner’s part, since he’s been telling Americans for the last couple of years that Obama is a vile, wicked socialist, and he hasn’t “listened” to any Americans outside of the extreme Right-wing. After having told us what we’re supposed to think about Obama and the Democrats all this time, suddenly he declares he’s unwilling to tell us what to think? What a fucking hypocrite! At any rate, he continued hedging:

Having said that, the state of Hawaii has said that he was born there. That’s good enough for me. The president says he’s a Christian. I accept him at his word.

That’s all well and good, but it’s hardly a dismissal of Birtherism. Then, having said that, he veered back toward his original position:

MR. GREGORY: But that kind of ignorance about whether he’s a Muslim doesn’t concern you?

SPEAKER BOEHNER: Listen, the American people have the right to think what they want to think. I can’t–it’s not my job to tell them.

So the Speaker slalomed from, “I’m not supposed to tell people what to think,” to “Obama said he’s a citizen and a Christian,” to “People have a right to be deluded.”

Well, Speaker, you’re correct in that Americans have a “right” to be deluded. No doubt about that. The right to be a fucking ignoramus is undeniable. But you — as a leader in your political party — have a moral and ethical obligation to inform them of the truth. Even if it’s not a convenient truth to tell, and — yes — even if they don’t want to hear it. This is not a question of anyone’s “rights.” This is a question of what the objective facts are and what his duty is, as the leader of the Republican party in Congress.

In other words, it’s a question of fortitude and leadership.

Boehner has purposely chosen to keep his party chock-full of childish, delusional, paranoiac imbeciles. Just because he’s too much of a sniveling coward to tell them to knock off their Birtherist bullshit and shut the fuck up about the President not being a citizen or a Christian.

Way to go, Speaker. What outstanding courage you’ve shown! Why, you’ve demonstrated perfectly the kind of character it takes to lead the Right in the US.

It’s time for everyone on the Right — starting with Speaker Bonehead and the rest of his sanctimonious Rightist rabble in the House — to grow the hell up, stop telling demonstrable lies, and move on to something else, fercryinoutloud.

Photo credit: FactCheck.

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German Crusader KnightThe Family Research Council — an arm of the militant Religious Right in the United States — has, essentially, declared war on the US. Specifically, they’ve declared a theocratic war on the secular government of this country. Their effort includes the launch of a special Web site called Replace Repeal Restore! (WebCite cached version). The preamble to their declaration of theocratic war is as follows:

We, the people, have the responsibility to determine the future of our nation. I pledge to do my part by standing and speaking boldly for conservative principles, for liberty, and for the Constitution. I will help REPLACE liberal politicians; I will help REPEAL the government takeover of health care; I will help RESTORE the founding principles in our nation. Enough is enough — it’s time for Congress and the White House to listen to the people.

They think that the passage of healthcare reform constitutes the federal government somehow “not listening” to the people. The truth is that they did listen to “the people.” They just didn’t happen to DO what you, the members of the FRC, wanted them to do.

Boo fucking hoo.

Memo to FRC: “Listening” is not the same as “obedience.” It’s possible to “listen to” someone, but to decide, even after truly “listening,” not to do what they say. Got it?

The truth of the matter is that the United States is not a Christian theocracy, was never intended to be a theocracy, and arguably, it’s not even “a Christian nation,” as the FRC and Sarah Palin believe. One of the “founding principles” of the nation is something known as “freedom.” That necessarily includes the freedom not to be a Christian … believe it or not.

My response to the FRC is the same as it was to Mrs Palin: If you guys want me — an American — to be a Christian, as you demand I become, then you’re just going to have to make me one.

Go ahead. I invite to you try. Let it all out and give it to me straight. Don’t hold anything back, and don’t relent.

You guys want the US to become a theocracy? That’s great. You can start by making me a Christian — my own wishes notwithstanding.

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches.

Photo credit: About.Com Atheism/Agnosticism.

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Sarah Palin in Savannah, Georgia, Dec 1, 2008 campaigning for the re-election of Saxy Chambliss.It’s not exactly news to hear an example of a Christian who refuses to obey the directives they claim Jesus Christ himself gave. Historically, very few Christians have ever truly lived up to what Jesus told them to do. But here’s a recent example of a prominent Christian very publicly saying something quite the opposite of what Jesus wants his followers to do. ABC News reports on Sarah Palin’s comments about President Obama’s new agreement with Russia concerning nuclear weapons:

“It’s unbelievable. Unbelievable,” said Palin on Wednesday evening while appearing on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program. “No administration in America’s history would, I think, ever have considered such a step that we just found out President Obama is supporting today. It’s kinda like getting out there on a playground, a bunch of kids, getting ready to fight, and one of the kids saying, ‘Go ahead, punch me in the face and I’m not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to with me.’

Palin’s opposition to what she characterizes as a pacifist stance is strange, coming from such an avowed and fervent Christian, because Jesus ordered his followers to do the following:

You have heard that it was said, “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. (Matthew 5:38-42)

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. (Matthew 26:52)

Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. (Luke 6:29-30)

More generally, Jesus orders his followers not to hate their enemies, but instead love and embrace them:

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:44-45)

But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6:27-28)

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. (Luke 6:35)

I guess Ms Palin thinks Christians should also forget this declaration made by the founder of her own religion:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9)

It appears Ms Palin doesn’t want to be “a daughter of God.” Hmm.

Isn’t it strange how President Obama seems to wring anti-Christian behavior and rhetoric out of fierce, loud, Bible-thumping Christians? The Religious Right’s reflexive opposition to anything and everything about the current president seems to force them to contradict themselves — and the basic tenets of their own declared religion — in virtually-uncountable ways. (Actually, here’s a comprehensive list of such occasions.) This makes them brazen, obvious hypocrites … even though all forms of hypocrisy have also been expressly and unambiguously forbidden them, too, by Jesus himself.

P.S. Isn’t it curious that I — a wicked, cynical, heartless, skeptical, godless agnostic heathen — know more about what Jesus taught, and what the Bible says, than an actual professed Christian does? I wonder about it all the time … yet even after all these years, have no good explanation for it. Sigh.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Glenn BeckThe nation’s current most famous paranoid schizophrenic, Glenn Beck, has (no surprise!) shoved his foot into his mouth. The Intertubes have been alive with discussion of this, and I’d planned to avoid the matter, but since it’s become so well known, I thought I should weigh in on it anyway.

On his radio show this March 2, Beck railed ignorantly — and stupidly — against churches that promote “social justice.” Christianity Today transcribed his comments as follows (screen shot of page):

I beg you, look for the words “social justice” or “economic justice” on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes! If I’m going to Jeremiah’s Wright’s church? Yes! Leave your church. Social justice and economic justice. They are code words. If you have a priest that is pushing social justice, go find another parish. Go alert your bishop and tell them, “Excuse me are you down with this whole social justice thing?” I don’t care what the church is. If it’s my church, I’m alerting the church authorities: “Excuse me, what’s this social justice thing?” And if they say, “Yeah, we’re all in that social justice thing,” I’m in the wrong place.

Beck, of course, has no idea what he’s talking about … but his raging paranoia prevents him from understanding that. What he’s doing is to connect several things which are not, in the end, connected at all. Let’s tease them apart so that this matter can be truly understood.

First, it is incontrovertible that Christianity and “social justice” are interconnected, and this is the case from almost the beginning of the movement. Jesus himself preached against the common social mores and presumptions of his time; he promoted charity — true charity, not mere “charity for appearance’s sake,” which he condemned utterly; he associated with outcasts and undesirables, actually preferring their company; he taught compassion for others as one of the cardinal rules of spiritual life; he condemned wealth and promoted giving everything to the poor; and much more. Also, scripture itself suggests early Christian communities lived according to a very egalitarian, “one for all and all for one” ideal, thus exhibiting a strong sense of “social justice” among themselves.

Second, this message has not been completely lost on Christians themselves. The themes of compassion and — yes, Glenn! — “social justice” have been continually picked up and expounded upon by Christians, throughout the religion’s history. Classical-era Christians, for example, maintained funds to support orphans and widows. During the Middle Ages, some religious orders funded and ran infirmaries for the care of the sick, even when plagues were raging, thus exposing themselves to disease. Early strong proponents of the Abolition movement — such as William Wilberforce — were devout Christians whose motivation to free slaves was primarily a religious impulse they believed to be part of Jesus’ own message. Later — especially as it arrived in the United States in the 19th century — Abolition became more of a humanist movement, no longer innately connected to religion … however, Abolition’s origins clearly had at least some religious inspiration. Beck’s reasoning, had it been followed in the early 19th century, would have ground Abolition to a halt, and the U.S. would still have slavery.

Third, Beck is correct that, at one time, phrases like “social justice” were, in fact, code-words used by Communists and Marxists. However, that was mostly true only during the Communist revolutions of the early and middle 20th century, and later during the Cold War. The fact is that this type of “coded” rhetoric has faded away since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Thus, any truthful basis Beck may have had for his comments are — at best — anachronistic. They make no sense today, since many different people, of many different ideologies, appeal to their own individual senses of “social justice.” One can no longer safely assume that any proponent of “social justice” is a Marxist.

Fourth, Beck’s objection appears to be rooted in the Jeremiah Wright controversy. By referring to Wright in his comments, Beck betrays his own childish hang-up on Barack Obama’s former pastor. Beckie, let me help you out here: Jeremiah Wright is now a dead issue. Obama has jettisoned him, and Wright is also done with Obama. This particular battle is over, Glenn, and has been for more than a year … at the very least, Obama’s election in November 2008 obviated it.

This idiocy reveals several things about Glenn Beck. Most importantly, he envisions Christianity as being linked to politics — his own personal, extreme-Right-wing, give-everything-there-is-to-the-wealthy-and-take-every-penny-from-the-poor politics. He cannot, or will not, conceive of Christianity as not being related to politics. Any church which — in his mind — does not march in lockstep with his own ideology, is not a “true” Christian church. He does not realize that Jesus himself was apolitical and did not, at any point during his ministry, ever concern himself with politics or statecraft. If anything, he rather clearly stated the opposite … that not only was he unconcerned with statecraft, that his followers also should not be. Beck also reveals that he is still stuck in the past, still thinking in terms of the Cold War and still consumed with scandals which are now obsolete.

Of note is the fact that a lot of Christians, and especially some of the Religious Right variety, have spoken out against Beck’s comments. For some examples, see this story by ABC News (WebCite cached article). Even the ferocious, fire-&-brimstone Religious Right theologian Albert Mohler has said Beck is wrong (cached article).

This criticism — from within Christianity and even from within the Religious Right — has not been lost on Beckie boy. He has responded: By fighting back, and insisting — in spite of the facts — that he is still correct. He has declared “social justice” to be “a perversion of the gospel,” and justifies his (strange) view of Jesus’ message as being about the individual, not the group. This twisted rationale has, itself, been condemned by the same people who first criticized him (cached article). I will leave the debate about that up to those critics, who as Christian “insiders” have more to say on it than I do.

Beck’s claim that “true” Christianity — as he sees it — has nothing to do with “social justice,” places him squarely in my “lying liars for Jesus” club.

The bottom line is that Beck’s initial condemnation of “social justice” in Christian churches — and his insistence, in spite of criticism by various Christian authorities — that he is still correct, as well as his refusal to let go of the Jeremiah Wright controversy show Beckie-boy to be a raging paranoid child. I suggest it’s long past time for the Beckster to grow up, and address his paranoia … there are good treatments for it, and given the millions he makes, he can more than afford the very best psychiatric care available.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore.

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Andrew Sullivan, journalist and pioneering blogger whose views mostly have been in support of conservatism in the U.S., has decided to divest himself from the Right — and for reasons similar to my own for having done so. Earlier this week, he wrote:

It’s an odd formulation in some ways as “the right” is not really a single entity. But in so far as it means the dominant mode of discourse among the institutions and blogs and magazines and newspapers and journals that support the GOP, Charles Johnson is absolutely right in my view to get off that wagon for the reasons has has stated. Read his testament. It is full of emotion, but also of honesty.

In case you don’t know, Charles Johnson is another pioneering blogger, the man behind the Right-leaning blog Little Green Footballs. Sullivan goes on to say:

The relationship of a writer to a party or movement is, of course, open to discussion. I understand the point that Jonah Goldberg makes that politics is not about pure intellectual individualism; it requires understanding power, its organization and the actual choices that real politics demands. You can hold certain principles inviolate and yet also be prepared to back politicians or administrations that violate them because it’s better than the actual alternatives at hand. I also understand the emotional need to have a default party position, other things being equal. But there has to come a point at which a movement or party so abandons core principles or degenerates into such a rhetorical septic system that you have to take a stand. It seems to me that now is a critical time for more people whose principles lie broadly on the center-right to do so – against the conservative degeneracy in front of us.

Unfortunately, I saw conservatism’s “degeneracy” years ago and broke from it then. (Yes, I was a Republican party activist through the ’90s, despite my Agnosticism. It was not, then, an impediment to working for the Republican party in my home state of Connecticut. It would, however, very likely prevent me from being involved in the Republican party now; the non-religious no longer even have a home among Connecticut’s “moderate” Republicans.)

The chief reason for my departure was the GOP’s increasingly militant religiosity and the growing power of dominionists and quasi-dominionists within its ranks. As it happens, Sullivan also cites the Right’s religiosity as one point in his own indictment of the Right:

I cannot support a movement that holds that purely religious doctrine should govern civil political decisions and that uses the sacredness of religious faith for the pursuit of worldly power.

This is, of course, not new. Others associated with the Right have also noticed, and been repulsed by, the hyperreligiosity of US conservatism (e.g. Kathleen Parker, about whom I’ve blogged already). Hopefully, Sullivan’s mention of Right-wing religious militancy will be picked up by more people, and maybe this time someone will actually pay attention.

Then again, with the popularity of ardent religionists and quasi-dominionists among the Right (e.g. Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, etc.), I doubt Sullivan’s critique will be enough. More than likely, the sanctimoniously-blinded Right will just cast aside Sullivan’s indictment by asserting that “he was never really a conservative,” and thus dismiss him. More’s the pity.

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