Congressman Tells Sandra Fluke to Get a Job

Illinois Republican Representative, Joe Walsh shouldn’t be in Congress. He should be in a mental institution. He has been charged with being more than $100,000 behind in child support owed to his ex-wife, though he considers himself to be a family values champion. He has attacked his Congressional opponent, retired Colonel Tammy Duckworth for using her military service as an unfair advantage against him. He never served in the military and she is a double amputee from injuries suffered in Iraq. Now he’s attacking Sandra Fluke, who earlier this year was made famous by Rush Limbaugh’s attacks against her.

Walsh said at a campaign rally over the weekend, “So at the Democratic Convention Wednesday night their first prime time speaker was Sandra Fluke, whatever her name is.” “Think about this, a 31-32 year old law student who has been a student for life, who gets up there in front of a national audience and tells the American people, ‘I want America to pay for my contraceptives.’ You’re kidding me. Go get a job. Go get a job Sandra Fluke.”

So he’s either deliberately lying to his supporters (??) about the Affordable Care Act’s contraception provisions or he’s just seriously, and completely stupid. Or both. Taxpayers don’t pay for contraception. Ever. And if they did, so what? And Sandra Fluke has never asked for taxpayers to pay for them. She has only advocated that insurance plans not be allowed to opt out of the coverage for religious reasons.

Either way, it’s obvious that he’s a seriously unhinged, psychotic man and unfit for office. Please, Illinois, kick this guy out of Congress. Anyone this awful doesn’t deserve to be one of 535 elite Americans tasked with passing federal laws.

Oh, and Joe Walsh should know that Sandra Fluke has indeed had a job. After she graduated from Cornell University she worked in New York City as a victim’s advocate against domestic violence and human trafficking. Much more important work than being a Congressman, Mr. Walsh. After several years doing that hard work, she decided to get a law degree to be better able to carry on the cause and was accepted by Georgetown Law School from which she just graduated this spring. I am sure she will find gainful employment that will give her a brighter future than that looming on Mr. Walsh’s horizon.

Paul Ryan’s Fascination With a Serial Murderer’s Groupie and What it Could Mean for the Nation

Paul Ryan has worshipped at the feet of Ayn Rand, at least until recently. He has publicly stated that her books were the most pivotal in shaping his public life. He gave them to interns as gifts, and they were required reading for his staff members. He spoke frequently about how the decline in America looked increasingly like something out of an Ayn Rand novel.

He is not alone among public servants in his admiration for Ayn Rand. Others include Sen. Rand Paul, who is named in her honor, and his father, Rep. Ron Paul. She was also mentioned as being very influential by President Ronald Reagan, Sen. Ron Johnson, Gov. Gary Johnson, Rush Limbaugh, former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. But maybe the most famous follower of Ayn Rand is former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who in the 1950s was part of her inner circle and a close personal confidant.

Ayn Rand seems to have a special appeal to younger people who are empowered by the idea of their individual greatness waiting to explode, ungoverned by the limitations that the world tries to place on them.

As someone once said: “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

Today we live in a country where millions of people object to the idea of giving health care to the tens of millions of Americans who don’t have it, or who take pleasure at the thought of privatizing and slashing Social Security or Medicare. It seems as though the U.S. is the only place where right-wing elites can openly share their distaste for the working poor, and we can trace their philosophical justification for this kind of attitude directly to Ayn Rand.

One thing that isn’t always recognized about Rand’s thinking is that she was a textbook sociopath. In her notebooks she heaped praise upon a notorious serial murderer-dismemberer, and used him as an early model for the type of “ideal man” she promoted in her more famous books. These ideas were later picked up on and put into play by major right-wing figures of the past half century, including those named above as Rand acolytes.

The best way to get to the bottom of Ayn Rand’s beliefs, and maybe understand those who are among her devotees, is to take a look at how she developed the superhero of her novel, Atlas Shrugged, John Galt.

William Hickman

Back in the late 1920s, as Ayn Rand was working out her philosophy, she became enthralled by a real-life American serial killer, William Edward Hickman, whose gruesome, sadistic dismemberment of a 12-year-old girl named Marion Parker in 1927 shocked the nation. Rand filled her early notebooks with ardent praise of Hickman. According to biographer Jennifer Burns, author of Goddess of the Market, Rand was so enthralled with Hickman that she modeled her first literary creation, Danny Renahan, the protagonist of her unfinished first novel, The Little Street, on him.

What Rand admired most about Hickman were his sociopathic qualities: “Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should,” she wrote, gushing that Hickman had “no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel ‘other people.'”

This echoes almost word for word Rand’s later description of her character Howard Roark, the hero of her novel The Fountainhead: “He was born without the ability to consider others.”

William Hickman, the “genuinely beautiful soul” and inspiration to Ayn Rand was an under-educated ne’er-do-well, and psychopath whose only claim to public notice was the commission of a brutal and senseless murder.

While disturbing, it’s necessary to read at least the basics of his atrocious crime in order to better understand Rand and what made her tick, because her influence over the very people leading the fight to kill social programs, and her ideological influence on so many powerful bankers, regulators and businessmen who brought the financial markets crashing down, means her ideas are affecting all of our lives in the worst way imaginable, whether we know it or not.

Rand fell for William Edward Hickman in the late 1920s, as the shocking story of Hickman’s crime started to grip the nation. His crime, trial, case, and eventual execution were nonstop headline grabbers for months.

Hickman, who was only 19 when he was arrested for murder, was the son of a paranoid-schizophrenic mother and grandmother. His schoolmates said that as a kid Hickman liked to strangle cats and snap the necks of chickens for fun. Most of the kids with whom he grew up thought he was a budding maniac, though the adults gave him good marks for behavior, a typical sign of sociopathic cunning.

After high school he embarked on a brief and increasingly violent crime spree, robbing dozens of gas stations and drug stores. Along the way it’s believed he strangled a girl in Milwaukee and killed his crime partner’s grandfather in Pasadena, tossing his body over a bridge after taking his money.

I remember very well when I was growing up, my father singing a song made popular at the time of the following crime, called “Little Marion Parker.” The horror of it swept the nation, and was only dwarfed by the later abduction and murder of Charles Lindbergh’s son a few years later.

One afternoon, Hickman drove up to Mount Vernon Junior High school in Los Angeles, telling administrators he’d come to pick up “the Parker girl.” Her father, Perry Parker, was a prominent banker.

Marion Parker

The school administrator fetched young Marion Parker, and brought her out to Hickman. Marion obediently followed Hickman to his car as she was told, where he promptly kidnapped her. He wrote a ransom note to Marion’s father, demanding $1,500 for her return, promising the girl would be left unharmed. Hickman’s extreme narcissism comes through in his ransom letters, as he refers to himself as a “master mind [sic]” and “not a common crook.” Hickman signed his letters “The Fox” because he admired his own cunning.

Hickman and the girl’s father exchanged letters over the next few days as they arranged the terms of the ransom. By the time the last letter was sent by Hickman, he had already murdered and dismembered the girl.

According to a newspaper article from the time, he said, “It was while I was fixing the blindfold that the urge to murder came upon me,” he continued, “and I just couldn’t help myself. I got a towel and stepped up behind Marion. Then before she could move, I put it around her neck and twisted it tightly. I held on and she made no outcry except to gurgle. I held on for about two minutes, I guess, and then I let go. When I cut loose the fastenings, she fell to the floor. I knew she was dead. Well, after she was dead I carried her body into the bathroom and undressed her, all but the underwear, and cut a hole in her throat with a pocket knife to let the blood out.”

Another newspaper account explained what Hickman did next: Then he took a pocket knife and cut a hole in her throat. Then he cut off each arm to the elbow. Then he cut her legs off at the knees. He put the limbs in a cabinet. He cut up the body in his room at the Bellevue Arms Apartments. Then he removed the clothing and cut the body through at the waist. He put it on a shelf in the dressing room. He placed a towel in the body to drain the blood. He wrapped up the exposed ends of the arms and waist with paper. He combed back her hair, powdered her face and then with a needle fixed her eyelids. He did this because he realized that he would lose the reward if he did not have the body to produce to her father.

Marion Parker’s body parts left along the road by William Hickman

Hickman packed her body, limbs and entrails into a car, and drove to the drop-off point to pick up his ransom; along his way he tossed out wrapped-up limbs and innards scattering them around Los Angeles. When he arrived at the meeting point, Hickman pulled her head and torso out of a suitcase and propped her up, her torso wrapped tightly, to look like she was alive. When her father arrived, Hickman pointed a sawed-off shotgun at him, showed Marion’s head with the eyes sewn open (it would have been hard to see for certain that she was dead), and then took the ransom money and fled. As he sped away, he threw Marion’s head and torso out of the car, and that’s when the father ran up and saw his daughter, and screamed.

This is the “amazing picture” Ayn Rand, guru to the Republican/Tea Party right-wing, admired when she wrote in her notebook that Hickman represented “the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatsoever for all that a society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul. Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should.”

Other people don’t exist for Rand, either. Part of her ideas are nothing more than a ditzy dilettante’s bastardized Nietzsche, but even this was plagiarized from the same pulp newspaper accounts of the time. According to an LA Times article in late December 1927, headlined “Behavioralism Gets The Blame,” a pastor and others close to the Hickman case denounced the cheap trendy Nietzschean ideas Hickman and others latched onto as a defense: “Behavioristic philosophic teachings of eminent philosophers such as Nietzsche and Schopenhauer have built the foundation for William Edward Hickman’s original rebellion against society,” the article begins.

This aptly describes Ayn Rand, whose philosophy developed out of her admiration for “Supermen” like Hickman. Rand’s philosophy can be summed up by the title of one of her best-known books: The Virtue of Selfishness. She argues that all selfishness is a moral good, and all altruism is a moral evil, even “moral cannibalism,” to use her words. To her, those who aren’t like-minded sociopaths are “parasites,” “lice” and “looters.”

But with Rand, there’s something more pathological at work. She’s out to make the world more sociopath-friendly so that people like her hero William Hickman can reach their full potential, not held back by the morality of the “weak,” whom Rand despised.

Rand and her followers clearly got off on hating and bashing those they perceived as weak. This is exactly the sort of sadism that Rand’s hero, Hickman, would have appreciated.

What’s really unsettling is that even former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan, whose personal relationship with Rand dated back to the 1950s, did some parasite-bashing of his own. In response to a 1958 New York Times book review slamming Atlas Shrugged, Greenspan, defending his mentor, published a letter to the editor that ends: “Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should. Alan Greenspan.”

As much as Ayn Rand detested human “parasites,” there is one thing she strongly believed in: creating conditions that increase the productivity of her supermen — the William Hickmans who rule her idealized America: “If [people] place such things as friendship and family ties above their own productive work, yes, then they are immoral. Friendship, family life and human relationships are not primary in a man’s life. A man who places others first, above his own creative work, is an emotional parasite.”

Republican faithful like Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan read Ayn Rand and declare, with pride, “Rand makes the best case for the morality of democratic capitalism.” Indeed. Except that Rand also despised democracy, writing that, “Democracy, in short, is a form of collectivism, which denies individual rights: the majority can do whatever it wants with no restrictions. In principle, the democratic government is all-powerful. Democracy is a totalitarian manifestation; it is not a form of freedom.” This from the man who could be one heart beat away from the Presidency.

Whenever you hear politicians or Tea Partiers dividing up the world between “producers” and “collectivism,” just know that those ideas and words more likely than not are derived from the deranged mind of a serial-killer groupie. And when you see them taking their razor blades to the last remaining programs protecting the middle class from total abject destitution, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and bragging about how they are slashing these programs for “moral” reasons, just remember Ayn’s morality and who inspired her.

Critics of Ayn Rand would rather dismiss her books and ideas as laughable, childish, and hackneyed. But she can’t be dismissed because Rand is the name that keeps bubbling up from the Tea Party crowd and the elite conservative circuit in Washington as the Big Inspiration. The only way to protect ourselves from this thinking is the way you protect yourself from serial killers: smoke the Rand followers out, make them answer for following the crazed ideology of a serial-killer-groupie, and run them the hell out of town.

Six Year Old Tea Party Spokesman

I couldn’t help posting this video. And the kid’s cute as can be, even if he is more mature than the adults who have filled him full of lies and distortions and then used him to get out a message that they want told. We teach our children to be honest, and to learn how to think for themselves, and how to not tell lies. Then parents like this fill their son up with lies and get him to repeat them. They tell him what to think and what to say, so that his words and thoughts are not his own, but rather a repetition of their own. Need we wonder where the next generation of non-thinking, lying, dogmatic conservatives will be coming from? Hopefully this kid will learn to see past the B.S. he is being, and will be fed, by parents who love lies more than they apparently love their son.

So to recap the lies and distortions:
Obama takes money from people who work hard and gives it to people who don’t work at all. And since when didn’t the government collect taxes and distribute them into all of the programs for which funds have been allocated? Like defense, education, roads, and yes, programs that benefit those unable to work, and sometimes even those unwilling to work?

Wait in long lines to see a doctor. In some parts of the country those long lines existed before Obama became president, and no one can accurately predict the effects of the Affordable Care Act on the status of waiting lines. Just more hysteria without even knowing the facts yet.

Thinks babies are a burden. I don’t even know where this comes from or what it signifies, but someone must be reading the president’s mind if they pretend to know what he thinks.

Keep people on welfare and food stamps and they’ll vote for you. Just like when George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan kept people on these programs. Then again, statistically, welfare and food stamp recipients are not a very active voting bloc no matter who is president.

Doesn’t want Americans to drill for oil or mine for coal. There have been more drilling permits issued under Obama than under George W., more active wells now producing, more domestic oil being pumped, and no one I know has seen any reduction in coal production or use either.

Lets bad guys into our country. I don’t know what this means. There is no evidence that any more “bad guys” have come into the country under Obama than at any other time in recent history, and who are these bad guys anyway? It seems to me that from what I read and hear, Obama has had more bad guys taken out under his administration than under George W., including Bin Laden and lots of others with a massive increase in drone attacks and SEAL Team raids all across the Middle East.

Wants to take guns away. This administration has not put forth one single bill, plan, or twitch of the finger toward any type of gun control or confiscation, nor are they likely to do so.

Obama’s are not proud of America. Everywhere they go and every audience to whom they speak, they both extol the virtues of America and their pride in the country. Not only that, but they make the country proud of them, their actions, and how they conduct themselves at home and abroad.

Bows down to leaders of other countries. See above.

Nobody knows where he came from. Yes, in fact, we do know where he comes from. Hawaii, where he was born in 1961, more than adequately documented to anyone who is not brain dead or intellectually comatose. Oh, and who isn’t too much of a racist to believe that a man who had a black father could possibly not, himself, have been born in Kenya or some other country. I mean all of those people know for a fact that no American-born black man could ever rise up and be the leader of the free world. The tea party types have spent too many generations beating those people down to have them attain such a high position.

Iowa’s Representative Steve King Favors Animal Cruelty

Representative Steve King (R-IA), the sponsor of an amendment to the House Farm Bill that will devastate the food safety laws that protect millions of Americans from illness, recently gave an interview bragging about what he had accomplished.

The King Amendment would essentially prevent states from developing strong independent health, safety, and cruelty standards, even if local voters want them.

This isn’t an unintended consequence. King says that his amendment “fixes the states and their political subdivisions regulating food production everywhere in America.” However, King might want to reconsider that position, as his amendment would legalize several horrific farming and food practices that some states have chosen to do away with:
• Florida, Ohio, and seven other states have banned confining pregnant pigs in cages that prevent them from moving their limbs or walking in a circle. Pigs confined in so-called gestation crates are forced to defecate where they stand, exposing them to serious risk of traumatic injury as a consequence of immobility, and the development of sores as a consequence of attempting to move against or bite the bars that confine them. They live their whole lives like this.
• Seven states have banned similar confinement for baby calves. So-called veal crates are designed to atrophy muscles to improve the taste of meat, creating what the ASPCA calls “lives of agony and frustration” for the cows until they are slaughtered at four or five months.
• Three states have banned tail-docking, wherein parts of cows tails are lopped off, often without anesthetics. The American Veterinary Medical Association opposes tail docking as unnecessary and highly painful.
• Maryland prohibits adding arsenic to chicken feed. Besides the obvious problems, this practice also spreads the poison into the surrounding soil as the chickens excrete waste.

King, though, brags that his legislation “wipes out everything they’ve [animal rights advocates] done with pork and veal.”

Indeed, King has a long record of opposing animal welfare law — he has, for example, been Congress’ leading advocate against anti-dogfighting legislation. He also believes that the Humane Society and other animal rights advocates are attempting to ban “production agriculture” and has fantasized about exposing vegetarians with “an agenda for our diets” on the House floor.

King has often been cited by outside groups as the “dumbest member of the Congress.” While he certainly has a large number of challengers for this title, he may indeed be the logical choice for this honor.

Domestic Violence a “Mere Distraction”

Raped and battered women “are distractions” who only represent a “small portion” of South Carolina’s population. That’s how Governor Nikki Haley explained her decision to veto critical funding that goes to programs that work to prevent domestic abuse and rape.

Last week, Haley threw women across the state under a bus by abandoning funding that prevents domestic abuse and sexual assault and then added insult to injury by explaining that battered and assaulted women are a “small portion” of society and are mere “distractions” who don’t matter.

⁠“Each of these lines attempts to serve a portion of our population for which we extend our sympathy and encouragement,” Haley said. “But nevertheless, it is only a small portion of South Carolina’s chronically ill or abused. Overall, these special add-on lines distract from the agency’s broader mission of protecting South Carolina’s public health.”

Having a daughter who has worked on the front lines of domestic violence issues in the rough and tumble environment of inner city Chicago and small community programs in Indiana and Michigan, I know all too well the epidemic levels of this curse on our otherwise civilized society. For Governor Haley to dismiss it as a “small portion” of women, or a mere “distraction” enrages me, even though I have never lived, nor wanted to live, in South Carolina.

As a woman, you would think Governor Haley would make preventing rape and domestic abuse a major legislative and executive initiative. It’s bad enough that women already have to deal with male politicians who don’t care about women’s issues, but for a female politician to demonstrate how little she cares about curbing violence against women is even more detestable. The only real reason I can think of why she would veto this important funding is because she wants to prove how hardcore conservative she is. For many months now, Republicans have made it their mission to belittle women’s issues and reverse women’s rights.

Conservatives across the country have sought to abolish abortion rights and restrict contraception. Republicans in New Hampshire even attempted to roll back domestic violence laws, and the city of Topeka actually halted prosecuting those who commit domestic violence, essentially making it legal for men to beat their wives and get away with it.

Republicans in Georgia recently attempted to push for legislation that would require investigating all miscarriages. The legislation was sponsored by Bobby Franklin, who also wants to label women who are raped as mere accusers instead of victims. House Republicans have also taken aim at women by attempting to redefine rape so they can restrict abortion rights. In that particular bill, it’s only rape if violence is involved. In other words, date rape and statutory rape would be excluded from the definition. House and

Senate Republicans have also tried to kill the Violence Against Women Act which is crucial for protecting women from domestic violence and sexual assault. Republicans have also railed against equal pay for women and some have expressed regret that women have the right to vote.

Clearly, there is a war on women and Nikki Haley is demonstrating that even female conservatives are willing to wage it. At this point, the war on women has become less about simple pandering to the extremists within the Republican Party and has become an actual plank in the sick and twisted GOP platform. If women continue to be blind to what the GOP is doing, women will become less than second class citizens in the near future. If Republicans have their way, women will be mere property who must bend to the will of men.

Maybe the Craziest Person in America

Jesse Lee Peterson, a tea party activist who calls himself a “reverend,” frequently appears on Faux News. Peterson is the founder of an organization where Sean Hannity serves as an advisory board member, probably explaining how he gains access to the airwaves.

Peterson recently had a sermon of his go viral on YouTube in which he said that America’s greatest mistake was allowing women the right to vote, adding that back in “the good old days, men knew that women are crazy and they knew how to deal with them.”

In the video Peterson explains that he believes women simply can’t handle “anything,” and that in his experience, “You walk up to them with a issue, they freak out right away. They go nuts. They get mad. They get upset, just like that. They have no patience because it’s not in their nature. They don’t have love. They don’t have love.”

Despite his statements, Hannity welcomed Peterson on his show recently to castigate the Obama administration over “taking credit” for the Osama bin Laden assassination — but the segment didn’t exactly go as planned.

In his sermon he even doubles down, saying that he believes America went wrong when it gave women the right to vote.

“I think that one of the greatest mistakes America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote,” Peterson says. “We should’ve never turned this over to women. And these women are voting in the wrong people. They’re voting in people who are evil who agrees with them who’re gonna take us down this pathway of destruction.”

“And this probably was the reason they didn’t allow women to vote when men were men. Because men in the good old days understood the nature of the woman,” he adds. “They were not afraid to deal with it. And they understood that, you let them take over, this is what would happen.”

On the Sean Hannity shortly after having given his sermon, Peterson was challenged by a female guest who accused him of misogyny. Peterson replied, “I don’t know if you noticed or not, but the liberal Democrat womens are calling themselves whores. They came out with their so called group of women who are within the Democrat party, and they are admitting that they’re whores and they are saying that they are proud of it. I’m okay with that, I just don’t want to pay for it.”

“I have a responsibility to tell the truth,” he added “You’re on the side of lies. Why shouldn’t I be on the side of truth? And it’s the truth that’s gonna make us free. Somebody gotta tell the truth, so I’m going to tell the truth.”

That “truth,” it would seem, isn’t just about liberal women, or even women in general. Peterson made headlines in January after telling a reporter that he would like to see black people put “back on the plantation so they would understand the ethic of working… They need a good hard education on what it is to work.”

In another post, he explains what he calls “the end of one-sided defense,” in which Peterson insists that men should re-take the right to physically strike women. “While I certainly do not sanction men attacking women, neither is it right for men to allow themselves to be beaten by a woman,” he wrote. “It’s time for men to re-assert their right to self defense.”

Neither Peterson nor a Fox News spokesperson responded to requests for comment.

Rush Limbaugh and Women’s Right to Vote

Rush Limbaugh is such a sad and pathetic man. And yet he deserves no sympathy. He has almost single-handedly destroyed civil discourse in the public forum in this country, and this is merely one more example of that fact.

Recently on his radio show, Limbaugh took a call from a man who wanted to blame Obama’s 2008 election on uninformed youth. Limbaugh interrupted him and said, ““Ehhh, I can do one better than that. When WOMEN got the right to vote is when it all went downhill. Because that’s when votes started being cast with emotion and uh, maternal instincts that government ought to reflect …….”

Rush stopped talking mid-sentence as if he’s realized what a horrible mistake he’s just made. His caller took advantage of the silence and continued talking about how young people are the ones ruining elections.

Here’s what is so sad about this. Rush wasn’t joking. Despite the fact that Limbaugh believes women are worth less than men, he will keep his women supporters. This is astounding. They will make excuses for him and continue to tune in for their daily dose of misogyny, lies and blatant hatred. These women are worse than the bloated ego-maniac. They inflate the audience numbers which pays his salary, and they vote. Even though Rush doesn’t think they should.

The Irreverent John Hagee Tells Atheists to Leave the Country of Their Birth and Rearing

This video of the far-right wing christian “minister” John Hagee, gives us a good look into the minds and hearts of the christain movement in the U.S. today. It doesn’t seem all that much different than the rhetoric and insanity of extreme Islam or Judaic Zionism. It gives the message, “my way or the highway,” and has no regard for the diversity of opinion and belief created by our Founding Fathers, the throwing off of the shackles of English domination at the time, and our explicit and definable Constitution which creates no state religion, and actually disallows it.

Hagee’s obvious errors, brought about by his own prejudices and inabilities to look at the facts that he ignores, are glaring to all but the “choir of the faithful” to whom he is preaching, and who pad his overly generous salary and outside income. It is, after all, a business, and a lucrative one at that.

I must comment in more detail on at least one lie that he throws out as the truth, and that is that the U.S. was founded by christians and intended to be a christian nation. I have spent over thirty years studying and understanding the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary. That treaty, in its unanimous ratification by the U.S. Congress, states: “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims],—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

According to Frank Lambert, Professor of History at Purdue University, the assurances in Article 11 were “intended to allay the fears of the Muslim state by insisting that religion would not govern how the treaty was interpreted and enforced. John Adams and the Senate made clear that the pact was between two sovereign states, not between two religious powers.” Lambert writes:”By their actions, the Founding Fathers made clear that their primary concern was religious freedom, not the advancement of a state religion. Individuals, not the government, would define religious faith and practice in the United States. Thus the Founders ensured that in no official sense would America be a Christian Republic. Ten years after the Constitutional Convention ended its work, the country assured the world that the United States was a secular state, and that its negotiations would adhere to the rule of law, not the dictates of the Christian faith. The assurances were contained in the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797 and were intended to allay the fears of the Muslim state by insisting that religion would not govern how the treaty was interpreted and enforced. John Adams and the Senate made clear that the pact was between two sovereign states, not between two religious powers.”

The Senate’s ratification was only the third time in history the Senate had voted unanimously. It was the 339th time that the Senate decided to require a recorded vote. The treaty was printed in the Philadelphia Gazette and two New York papers, with no evidence of any public dissent.

A totally secular treaty, negating any pretense of religion in the founding, or operation of, the United States. And Hagee says that those who deny the christian basis of our nation and Constitution should be leaving the country. Maybe it’s Mr. Hagee and his hate-filled, misinformed, misanthropes who would be more comfortable elsewhere.

Right Wing Dangers

Before I get started, I’m putting out an open invitation for anyone to remind me about left wing acts of violence in the U.S. during the dark days of Bush and Cheney. I have been trying to remember any, and honestly can not. I could be forgetting something, however, and that’s why I’m asking to have my memory refreshed if there were such acts for idealogical reasons.

In the last week and a half, we have seen two horrible acts of violence from the right extreme of the idealogical spectrum: the assassination of Dr. Tiller and now the assault on the Holocaust museum. The former was committed by a pro-life zealot and the latter was committed by a white supremacist. Neither of these guys represent the mainstream of anything. But they do reflect the consequences of dehumanizing those with whom we disagree.

A number of commentators on Fox News, Rush Limp paw (sp?), and some in political life got their hackles up when, as Lalita Amos over at the American Values Alliance notes, the Department of Homeland Security issued a memo entitled: “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.” The report found that “the economic downturn and election of the first African American President present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment.”

The report noted two distinct types of right wing extremist groups: those motivated primarily by hatred of religious, racial, or ethnic groups and those motivated primarily by anti-government zealotry. The report also noted the guy in Pittsburgh who had been stockpiling firearms because of the “Obama is going to take our guns” fearmongering and a healthy dose of paranoia about Jewish one-world government and ended up shooting three Pittsburgh cops. And there’s the “let’s blame the Jews” angle to the bailouts and decline of manufacturing.

The report foresaw a potential return to the 90s when the militia movement gained followers by stoking fears about gun control, free trade, declaration of martial law (remember the black helicopters?), and social issues like abortion, race, and gays. End-times prophecies will return to prominence. (Though on the latter, it seems like the end-times nutjobs have been chattering throughout the 90s and the 00s.)

Finally, the report notes some of what was effective in the 90s: after Timothy McVeigh bombed the court house in Oklahoma City, there was simply a lot of scrutiny of the militia movement and people distanced themselves. In addition, law enforcement efforts and an improvement of the economy tamped down the crazies a bit as well.

The reaction to this report? On the right, a number of politicians and commentators, as noted above, chose to feign outrage and take it as an assault on gun ownership and veterans, generally, instead of as a warning against those who feed on hate and paranoia. Why these folks would choose to blur the line in that fashion can only be guessed.

See, e.g., the ACLJ’s demand that DHS retract its warning about pro-life extremists. Or Representative Lamar Smith’s apparent inability to discern a difference between extremists exploiting fears about gun control and non-extremist supporters of the right to bear arms. And, of course, there was Michael Savage whose frivolous lawsuit claiming the memo “violated his First and Fifth Amendment rights by ‘attempting to chill free speech, expressive association, and equal protection rights.’”

Instead of reading the report for what it was, these people and organizations refused the distinction between extremism and hate groups on the one side and people with legitimate policy differences on the other side. And that’s the problem. People of good will need to reject the intemperate wackos and kick them out of the club. Violence should not be a political tool, and a corollary should probably be that rhetorically talking about violence should not be a political tool.

So, when pro-lifers hear a guy like Randall Terry saying stuff like this:
“When I, or people like me, are running the country, you’d better flee, because we will find you, we will try you, and we will execute you. I mean every word of it. I will make it part of my mission to see to it that they are tried and executed… If we’re going to have true reformation in America, it is because men once again, if I may use a worn out expression, have righteous testoserone flowing through their veins. They are not afraid of contempt for their contemporaries. They are not even here to get along. They are here to take over.”

If you hear a guy saying something like that, you run him straight out of the village. And, the next time a report like this comes out, perhaps the correct reaction isn’t to suggest it’s a conspiracy between Obama, the Jew-bankers, and the reverse vampires to enslave America under the communist thumb of the country with Obama’s “real” birth certificate.

And when you see a nut job like Jim David Adkisson shoot up a children’s program in a church in Knoxville, Tennessee because he wanted to kill liberals, you have to know that something is wrong in this country. Sure he could be an unhinged individual, and I’m sure he was (is). But when he was incited within the confines of his derangement by the words of Bill O’Reilly, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity, and Bernard Goldberg, then someone has to recognize that dangerous speech, while free, comes at a horrible cost in many instances.

When the self-same O’Reilly who was cited by Adkisson as an influence in his hatred of liberals is tied to the killer of Dr. Tiller, it becomes more of a trend than an anomaly. O’Reilly has a long history of smearing Dr. Tiller, even going so far to call him a Nazi and a murderer, hinting that Dr. Tiller needed a taste of his own medicine.

I am getting tired of all the “liberal hate” boiling over on the right. The assaults on, and murder of, people because of their political views. This is the result of a culture of poisonous hatred of fellow citizins that has infected and degraded the American Conservative movement. They advocate shooting liberals on bumper stickers, rail against them as “traitors,” calls them destroyers of Faith and American Values, baby killers, ad infinitum.

Ann Coulter. Michael Savage. Rush Limbaugh. Sean Hannity. You should hang your heads in shame.

I don’t know any liberals who committed the largest terrorist act on US soil pre-9/11 like conservative McVeigh did. I don’t know anyone shooting up/bombing pro-lifers like Eric Rudolph did to Planned Parenthood & the Atlanta Olympics. I don’t know anyone who’s gone to an NRA meeting, or Limbaugh’s studio in order to kill people because they are conservative.

I know there are wackos on both sides. However, I can’t help but notice that right wing wackos have caused a lot more physical damage in the last 10-20 years than the left wing ones.

Conservative strategists under Karl Rove’s direction have admitted that their goal has been to divide America. Their thinking is that there are more conservative-minded people than liberal-minded, so if the two sides are divided and hate each other, conservatives win by a small margin, which is all Rove & his kind want.

All of Fox News opinion shows are devoted to dividing America and increasing internal hatred.

The reality is that the right threw the first punches for over 10 years before the left responded. The left had to respond because, sorry to say, the tactics of the right worked. What were liberals to do? Allow America to fail because we are too noble to stoop to conservative tactics?

Karl Rove sent a memeo just days after 9/11, not talking about how to heal the country, bring us together in our grief and fight against the cold blooded terroist Al Qaeda, but spoke about how to use this attack as a way to go after Democrats and win seats in the mid-term election. And they did. Whatever claim to patriotism and decency was in the modern conservative movement disapperead that day. Can you imagine the greatest generation doing that? These are the children of Barry Goldwater’s beliefs and Nixon’s dirty tricks. They won for a few moments in American history, but only barely, and it isn’t working anymore. Except for the hatred that they have fomented in the minds of some unbalanced people who will go on acting their craziness in the name of political and social purity.

Look at the last campaign, as McCain, losing in the polls, brought in a Rove protegee to save him. The negative attack ads flew. McCain reverted to his schoolboy character of McNasty, full of fear tactics, hate speech, and finger pointing.

Conversatives have won for the last 15 years by being mean-spirited and nasty campaigners, and running mean spirited and nasty opinion shows. How many times has Ann Coulter “jokingly” called for assissination? How many times has Savage? These killings were not random killings; they were the natural outgrowth of Karl Rove’s divide and conquer strategy.

But their whole strategy is to make people angry, hateful and easily lead. And to win with 50.1% of the vote.

It is an awful party, with awful beliefs and awful spokesmen and rampant meanness to its core. To see what has happened to Eisenhower, and even Goldwater, Republicanism over the last 50 years is sad.

And it’s not just Tennessee churches, abortion doctors, or holocaust museums that suffer and pay the price for right extremism and the sickos who frequent those dark corners of idealogy. All the nation suffers from the nastiness that has worked so well for Republicans that it now defines their very core moral values.

There has even been a glimmer of sense out of the Fox News dungeons. Fox News’ Shepard Smith, in the wake of yesterday’s shooting at the Holocaust Museum, went on the air to talk about the emails he’s been receiving for “the past few months,” and how they’ve been getting “more and more frightening.”

He said, “There are people now, who are way out there on a limb. And I think they’re just out there on a limb with the email they send us. Because I read it, and they are out there. I mean, out there in a scary place…I could read a hundred of them like this…I mean from today. People who are so amped up and so angry for reasons that are absolutely wrong, ridiculous, preposterous.”

He went on to read an email, filled with the usual paranoid Obama birth certificate nonsense, which included an admonishment to Smith. “This is, I promise, a representative sample of the kind of things that we get here,” Smith said.
Time will tell if Smith’s colleagues at Fox stop taking these sorts of emails casually. Smith clearly could do that no longer. I think that’s appropriate!

CAN REPUBLICANS BECOME RELEVANT AGAIN?

I grew up as an Eisenhower Republican. Many of us did who grew up in the ’50s. My mother came from a staunch FDR Democrat family and my dad from a Teddy Roosevelt Republican family. Not so much an ideological chasm as one of semantics and subtle nuance. However, Eisenhower seemed to transcend the gap between the two. He was not an ideologue, but rather, a principled pragmatist.

In the ’60s I moved to a more liberal viewpoint, particularly as a result of our involvement in the Vietnam War. I moved to supporting the anti-war branch of the Democratic Party. Eugene McCarthy, Bobby Kennedy, etc. Yet I voted for Richard Nixon. After Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, the Democratic Party was co-opted by the moderates and Hubert Humphrey was nominated as the party standard bearer. To me Humphrey represented the appeasers and the facilitators within the party and I could not support him due to this and his role as LBJ’s VP. Nixon promised an end to the war and spoke of bringing us together. I took a chance and cast my vote accordingly.

Upon reflection, it was a naïve and damaging vote. Nixon prolonged the war and pulled us apart as much or more than did LBJ. Nixon was much more liberal than any Republican since, as seen in his imposition of wage and price controls in an attempt to curb inflation, opening the door to China, changing the American monetary system, and other actions.

I next turned to Libertarianism as a viable and sensible political system, and voted for the Libertarian candidate for president through the 2000 election. My move to Libertarianism was largely predicated on my Jeffersonian belief that the government’s only role was to do those things that the people could not do for themselves, such as building roads and bridges, defending the nation from foreign aggression,and such, but that the greatest role of government was to get out of the way and let the people rule and regulate themselves.

The theft of the election of 2000 and the subsequent George W. Bush regime shook me out of my safe place of refuge within the Libertarian Party and made me realize that the only way that the government can function effectively is to take an activist role in looking out for the best good of the country and the people. This means regulation of rampant, predatory capitalism that uses the labor of the working man and woman to enrich themselves. It means a government that will fight for fair wages for those workers. It means a government that will protect American jobs. It means that every young person who has the drive, the ambition, the intelligence to seek a college education will be able to afford one and will be able to achieve their dream. It means that health care for all Americans will be considered a right and not a luxury, and that it will not be tied to their place of employment or their ability to pay out of pocket for insurance or the care itself.

The government in which I believe also will not torture in my name, nor will they spy on American citizens through illegal, unconstitutional, or even questionable means. They will trust me and they will trust you to be what we are, American citizens with divergent viewpoints and philosophies, and they will allow us to celebrate those differences, while encouraging us to not see each other as adversaries, but rather as compatriots.

As a result of this epiphany after so many years in the political hinterlands, I have come to embrace the progressive wing of the Democratic Party as the most viable means by which to achieve the goals that I believe in for the current and future course of America. I believe in a government doing its job, not abdicating its responsibilities. I believe in a government who believes in the people, and not just those who own large businesses, nor those who sit on the boards of directors of those businesses. I believe in a government that will guarantee that we all have a place at the table without having to buy our way into the banquet.

With this too-long and convoluted a background, I would like to say that I still mourn the demise of the Republican Party as a viable and sensible alternative to the Democrats. The exchange of ideas that once took place between the two parties was beneficial to the people, and showed the world that America was a diverse and iconoclastic society wherein all viewpoints were heard and reasoned out in logical, reasonable ways.

This was a time before Republicans became controlling, mean-spirited, narrow-minded bigots. Before the party came under the control of fire-breathing wackos and illiterate sycophants.

I am somewhat encouraged by a few recent instances of sanity from within the Republican Party that have cut through the rabid lunacy of Congressional Republicanism’s obstructionism, and the Faux News inspired tea bag rebellion of April 15.

The most recent example of Republican sensibility came from John McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain who last night spoke to a crowd of Log Cabin Republicans, an organization of gay Republicans who often differ with the party’s social issues while embracing other aspects of traditional Republicanism. She declared to the affectionate crowd that “old school Republicans” were “scared shitless” of the changing landscape.

The Senator’s daughter took repeated shots at the GOP for its antiquated mores. 

”I feel too many Republicans want to cling to past successes,” she said. “There are those who think we can win the White House and Congress back by being ‘more’ conservative. Worse, there are those who think we can win by changing nothing at all about what our party has become. They just want to wait for the other side to be perceived as worse than us. I think we’re seeing a war brewing in the Republican Party. But it is not between us and Democrats. It is not between us and liberals. It is between the future and the past.”
Such talk and intellectual discourse from a savvy young Republican gives one hope for the future of the party. It also may also make one hope for a different member of the McCain family to rise to prominence in the party and the halls of governance.
Later, she called out those officials in the Republican tent who insist that tactical improvements, technology and brass-knuckle politicking are the path back to relevance.

“Simply embracing technology isn’t going to fix our problem,” she said. “Republicans using Twitter and Facebook isn’t going to miraculously make people think we’re cool again. Breaking free from obsolete positions and providing real solutions that don’t divide our nation further will. That’s why some in our party are scared. They sense the world around them is changing and they are unable to take the risk to jump free of what’s keeping our party down.”

McCain, at one point, declared herself a proud member of the GOP. But her pot shots at the Republican Party and its flashier figures were not thinly veiled. Describing her public tiff with Ann Coulter as non-delicate, she went on to refer to the brash conservative talker as “overly partisan and divisive.” Later in the speech she insisted that “most of our nation wants our nation to succeed” – a pretty clear dig at the now-infamous remarks of talk radio host Rush Limbaugh.

As for the GOP establishment, McCain described it as a “party that was thriving at one point on a few singular issues” but could no longer “see long-term success.”

“We’ve seen how it has contributed to some serious problems in our nation and world,” McCain said, in an apparent reference to the government under GOP control. “Let me be blunt, you can’t assume you’re electing the right leaders to handle all the problems facing our nation when you make your choice based on one issue. More and more people are finally getting that.”

The other ray of sunshine in an otherwise dreary world of Republicanism came earlier this week from John McCain’s campaign manager, Steve Schmidt. Speaking publicly for one of the first times since the end of the presidential campaign, Schmidt painted a dire portrait of the state of the Republican Party, arguing that the GOP has largely been co-opted by its religious elements.

“If you put public policy issues to a religious test, you risk becoming a religious party,” Schmidt declared. “And in a free country, a political party cannot be viable in the long term if it is seen as a sectarian party.”
Schmidt laid out the case for a far more open party, one which did not consider gay marriage to be a “litmus test” issue. And while he tried not to offend social conservatives, Schmidt did not hide his concerns that religion had become the predominant thread of the GOP.

“If you reject [gay marriage] on religious grounds, I respect that,” he said. “I respect anyone’s religious views. However, religious views should not inform the public policy positions of a political party because… when it is a religious party, many people who would otherwise be members of that party are excluded from it because of a religious belief system that may be different. And the Republican Party ought not to be that. It ought to be a coalition of people under a big tent.”

Looking beyond the issue of marriage, Schmidt’s diagnosis of the GOP’s ills was fairly ominous. “Our coalition,” he declared, “is shrinking and losing ground to segments of the population that is growing, whether it is with suburban voters, working class, college educated voters, Hispanics, or left handed Albanian psychics, the percentage voting republican has declined precipitously.”

The road back would be arduous, he added, even if politics are inherently cyclical. “I think Republicans ought to embrace this ‘Lord of the Flies’ period,” he said at one point, “when there is no clear leader in the party. And the problems of the party are not going to be corrected by any single big day event, you know, tea parties for instance. The problems of the party will be fixed over time and as we go through this period. There needs to be an opportunity for new leaders to emerge.”

And in a statement that sounded like a rebuke to Rush Limbaugh’s calls for the president’s failure, he said that while the chance for an Obama-backlash was apparent — “should the recession grow deeper or longer” — and the likelihood of a “national disaster or any number of other contingencies” remained, Republicans should not “take comfort from knowing our party’s success could come at the expense of the country or rely on blunders of the administration.”

He noted that the shrinking of the GOP tent, was due to a quasi-religious political branding that was “off-putting to many people.” That held true whether in the case of Terry Schaivo, which Schmidt called “disastrous for the Republican Party,” or gay marriage.

“If a party is seen as anti-gay then that is injurious to its candidates in states like California, Oregon or Washington or New Jersey or New York, increasingly even in states like Virginia and the mid-south,” he said. “And to be a national party we need to be competitive in the northeast, for instance. I will argue that our party was a richer party when we had people, by no means conservatives but republicans, like Christie Whitman and George Pataki and all the members of Congress who have since gone extinct.”

It is only through comments and thoughts and ideologies like those above that the Republican Party will be able to mount a resurgence and become, once again, a balancing voice in the political arena that brings all thoughts and issues and people into the public discourse. By saving themselves from irrelevance and obscurity they can help save the Democratic Party from losing touch with the entirety of the nation, and thus may help to move the nation into a better, brighter future.