Just Above Sunset
October 30, 2005 - Harriet the Church Lady Just Fades Away

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Thursday, October 27th was a fruitless day to write about politics. The White House was waiting on what the Fitzgerald investigation would yield, and there was no news.

But one hot issue was taken off the table - Miers withdraws nomination; new selection to be made 'quickly'.

Oh well.

This particular item, from Dallas Morning News, opened this way:


The fight for the philosophical soul of the U.S. Supreme Court took a new and different direction Thursday, as Harriet Miers - the president's friend and lawyer - withdrew her nomination to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Her decision was accepted with reluctance by the embattled President Bush, with jubilation by anxious conservatives and with suspicion by Democrats who accused the president of "caving in" to the right wing of the Republican Party.


And everyone, even the Brits, had something to say: Bush nominee sabotaged by right wing hawks from The Scotsman and Humiliated Bush forced to retreat as moral right turns its guns on him from The Guardian.

Back here, from The Chicago Tribune (Mark Silva) there's this - Withdrawal marks rare moment of weakness, surrender for Bush: "President Bush has reached a deep valley of his presidency, a place where even some of the ideological voices of his own party have abandoned him and his harshest critics are openly declaring a failed administration."

But then there's Ann Coulter - IT'S MORNING IN AMERICA!

She's happy. She expects now we'll get a nominee who is a fire-breather, someone who will end this nonsense with the court coddling criminals, insisting folks have a right to sexual privacy, and allowing Christianity to be suppressed by a tiny heathen minority, and suggests the executive's powers may be limited in some way. Oh, that may be reading her wrong. She may just hope we get someone with "intellectual rigor" who will end this "legislating from the from the bench" and understand that, if any law is passed the does this or that, the Supreme Court has no right at all to thwart the "will of the people" and say it's wrong, by looking up stuff in the constitution - or some such thing.

Rather than cite the thousands of commentaries one can find in the media, and on the web, perhaps a summary will do.

Miers and the president said the nomination had to be withdrawn because the senate was asking, since there was no paper trail - the woman had never been a judge, even in traffic court, and had never written anything or said anything at all about constitutional law - for some documents about what she had done or said as Bush's personal attorney and later as White House attorney. Well, that was privileged, and he admires her decision to withdraw her name, to preserve this important principle of separation of powers.

No one bought it. That explanation had been proposed by a Washington Post columnist, Charles Krauthammer, the previous week, as a fine face-saving excuse to cut her loose. He was on all the talk shows being congratulated all day long. He was appropriately "ah shucks" humble.

It didn't matter. This was going nowhere. Any out would do.

The Democrats sat back and said little of substance, but all seem a bit concerned that the president is now really ticked-off and will nominate some judicial Neanderthal. But they have a dim view of his personality, thinking of him as a vindictive, spiteful person who lashes out at others and doesn't think things through, and would rather have a messy fight and destroy things, rather than do the right or even sensible thing. Of course, that's why his base admires him. But is it true?

Some say his days of sneering and petty vindictiveness are over - the bad news this week was too much.


Those indictments were looming.


The congress forced him to rescind his executive order suspending the Bacon-Davis act, and now the companies rebuilding the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina have to pay workers "prevailing wage" rather than below minimum wage, or whatever they felt like paying. He must have hated that, and his contributors must think him a wimp. But he did it. He didn't have the votes to stop the congress from passing an override to his executive order.


And then this was the week we reached two thousand soldiers killed in Iraq. The Pentagon said it wasn't a milestone. Brit Hume on Fox News said it was insignificant - we lost that many on one beach on one June morning in 1944 after all. But I was all over the news.

And then, to top it all off, the Chicago White Sox beat the Houston Astros in four games, a sweep, in the World Series. Texas loses, big time - in a final game in Texas itself. And his father and mother were in the stands.

And he has to withdrawn the Miers nomination.

Is he now spoiling for a fight? Seems unlikely. He's probably feeling pretty beat-up.

On the left there was talk that this may not be a good thing because now the "evangelical Christian right" is feeling its oats - they got the president to back down and dump this wimp with no real views. They want an anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-privacy zealot. Miers may have been "born-again" - but she wasn't sufficiently enthusiastic about Jesus or something. Bush lost his mojo. They found theirs.

And there was talk that this may not be a good thing because now the "intellectual right" is feeling its oats - they got the president to back down and dump this wimp with no real mind of her own. The want another Scalia, deeply read and with vast experience, who will be an anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-privacy zealot, and explain carefully why that is what the founding fathers wanted in this country. Scalia said it is "a fact" this country was established on Christian principles. Enough has been written about him in these pages. You could look it all up.

There was some talk the real reason this nomination was withdrawn was that James Dobson and a number of evangelical leaders were going to have to testify in the confirmation hearings about their meeting with Karl Rove, the one where he seems to have told them exactly how she'd vote on matters of concern to them. They called Bush and told him to dump the woman. They weren't going before congress. No one is confirming that story, by the way.

There were reports the majority leader of the senate, Bill Frist, called White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, and then there was a conference call where Frist explained there just weren't enough votes to pass the nomination. What was the point in fighting it out?

It was a bad week. So now what?

And as mentioned in these pages a few weeks ago, one big problem seems to be that the Republicans made a commitment to the religious right, the evangelical born-again crowd, that for their support they would throw them a bone now and then. And the religious right felt - after all the years of being mocked and having to endure people arguing "under God" had no place in the Pledge of Allegiance, and being told officers at the Air Force Academy couldn't demand all cadets find Jesus, and they couldn't force all children in public school to mouth their approved prayers every day, and they couldn't have cities and states finance religious displays, and so on - well, this was pay-back time. They'd get this born again church lady or someone like her. Hell, maybe the teaching of evolution, and much of biology and geology supporting it, could be outlawed.

Now these folks want their payback for all those years of support.


And add that former Republican Senator John Danforth - who Bush had as our UN ambassador for a time - back in June denounced the whole new Republican evangelical party as being just about the opposite of what anyone would consider Christian (see this for the particulars) - but that may be a theological dispute as Danforth is also an ordained Episcopalian minister, and the religious right suspects that's a fake religion anyway.


But he did it again, Wednesday, October 26th, at, of all places, the Bill Clinton School of Public Service, a graduate branch of the University of Arkansas on the grounds of the Clinton presidential library. Ouch.


That's here on the AP wire: "I think that the Republican Party fairly recently has been taken over by the Christian conservatives, by the Christian right. I don't think that this is a permanent condition, but I think this has happened, and that it's divisive for the country." And he said the evangelical Christian influence would be bad for the party in the long run.

Well, it hasn't helped George.



In a discussion of pending legislation in the UK on outlawing criticism of the other guy's religion, no matter who you are, Christopher Hart has some comments in The Sunday Times, October 23 –


Jonathan Swift observed that the problem with religion was that there wasn't enough of it around: "We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another." Three centuries on there is even less of it around and we still hate each other.

The difficulty, at least for the scientifically educated but spiritually malnourished, is not the idea of religion itself, meaning some system of ritualised worship that helps us to make sense, if only symbolically, of the human, natural and supernatural worlds. The difficulty is rather that all the religions on offer are so patently preposterous, if not downright unpleasant.

Judaism tells us in its most sacred text, the Torah, that a donkey once turned round and started an argument with its master (Numbers, chapter 22); and that the supreme creator took time out to instruct his chosen people not to carry dead badgers, pelicans, hoopoes or bats (Leviticus, chapter 11).

Christianity, while accepting these texts as sacred, further believes that God manifested himself on earth in the form of an excitable and frequently ill-tempered 1st-century Jewish rabbi called Joshua ("Jesus" in Greek) who disowned his family and believed that the world was soon going to end. How do we know Jesus was Jewish? Because he lived at home until he was 30 and his mother thought he was God.

Then there is Islam. Its followers believe that its sacred text, the Koran, is the word of Allah as dictated to his prophet Muhammad. Non-Muslims might regard Muhammad as a deluded and bellicose man who had far too many wives than was good for him. His private life as recorded in the Koran itself, for instance sura 66, is also rather surprising.

Buddhism is an increasingly popular choice for westerners these days with its distinctive mix of cowardice, escapism and self-absorption. Hinduism has always been the colourful and vibrant national religion of India, although under the guidance of that wicked imperialist power, the British raj, it did at last begin to accept that burning women alive on their husbands' funeral pyres might not be such a good idea.

Shintoism, the national religion of Japan, venerated the emperor as a living god, at least until 1946 when Hirohito, under gentle pressure from the US army, admitted on the radio that he wasn't really.

The emperor Vespasian's last sardonic words, as he lay awaiting death and the posthumous deification bestowed on the Caesars, best put this religious belief into perspective: "I think I'm turning into a god."

Some like to believe that primitive tribal religions were much nicer. Unfortunately many of them practised human sacrifice. When the British (wicked imperialist power, etc) captured the Ashanti capital of Kumasi in present-day Ghana, they found a grove of death where the ground was saturated with the blood of thousands of human victims.


So much for religion.

But see Cenk Uygur here


It is a chilling fact that most of the world's leaders believe in nonsensical fairytales about the nature of reality. They believe in Gods that do not exist, and religions that could not possibly be true. We are driven to war after war, violence on top of violence to appease madmen who believe in gory mythologies.

... Osama bin Laden is insane. He believes God whispered in the ear of Mohammed 1,400 years ago about how he should conquer Arabia. Mohammed was a pure charlatan - and a good one at that. He makes present religious frauds like Pat Robertson look like amateurs.

He said God told him to have sex with as many of the women he met as possible. I'm sorry, I meant to say "take them as wives." God told him to kill all other tribes that stood in his way or that would not placate him with assurances of loyalty or bribes. God told him, conveniently, that everyone should follow him and never question a word he said.

He sold this bag of goods to the blithering idiots who lived in the Arabian Peninsula at the time. If that weren't shockingly stupid enough, over a billion people continue to believe the convenient lies that Mohammed told all that time ago -- to this very day.

... George W. Bush is the most powerful man alive. He is a class A imbecile. He is far less intelligent than the average Christian. But like most of the others, he believes Jesus died for his sins. That idea is so perverse and devoid of logic it should shock the conscience. Instead, it gets him elected, and earns him the reverence of a great percentage of America. America! The most advanced country in the world -- run by a bunch of villagers who still believe Santa Claus is going to save them.

There is no damn Easter Bunny. There is no Jesus waiting to return. Moses never even existed. These were all convenient lies from the men of those times to gain power. Their actions were rational -- they wanted to deceive their brethren so that they could amass power. I get their motivations. But I cannot, for the life of me, understand our motivations, thousands of years later, still following the conmen of yesteryear into our gory, bloody, violent end.

Jesus is said to have said on the cross, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" Because Jesus was insane and the God he thought would rescue him did not exist. And he died on that cross like a fool. He fancied himself the son of God and he could barely convince twelve men to follow him at a time when the world was full of superstition.

... I know most of you don't actually read your religious texts, and when you do, you assiduously try to avoid the parts that make no sense whatsoever or hide underneath the comforting grasp of your religious leaders who have concocted a bunch of circular logic (a crime to even use that word in regards to Christianity, Islam or Judaism) to shield you from the obvious folly of the written text.

So, I'm not calling you stupid if you haven't really read the material. And I know how powerful brainwashing is. We all received it when we were young and it is exceedingly difficult to break its grasp. But people dance around the issue out of politeness because they don't want to call you what you are -- ignorant.

There are a lot of people I love dearly and respect wholeheartedly who believe in religion. I hate to do this to them. But we have killed far too many people, wasted far too much time on this nonsense for us to keep going in this direction for fear of offense.

... Jesus was a lunatic. God is not coming to your rescue. He hasn't come to anyone's rescue in thousands of years, including Jesus. Mohammed was a power hungry, scam artist and ruthless conqueror. Moses and Abraham were figments of the imagination of some long dead rabbi. He would probably laugh his ass off at all of you who still believe the fairytales he made up thousands of years ago. He probably wouldn't even believe it if you told him.

... Have I offended you? That's too bad. Stop killing each other in the name of false and ridiculous Gods and I will stop ridiculing you. Trust me, your offense is much worse than mine.

... Right now as you read this, there are ignorant, hateful Muslims teaching other ignorant Muslims how to put on a suicide belt. There are orthodox Jews telling other Jews how they must never leave their "holy land" no matter what the consequences are to other human beings. They assure their followers -- remember, they are not the chosen ones, we are. If we crush and oppress them, don't worry, God will excuse it, and even desires it, because He is on our side.

There are maniacal Christians who are praying for the end of time. Who are hoping that most of the world's population is wiped off the face of the Earth by their vengeful and murderous God. Whom they believe is, ironically, a loving God. Unless, of course, you make the fatal mistake of not kissing his ass and appeasing him, in which case he will slaughter you and condemn you to eternal torture. What kind of sick people believe this?

The kind who live next to you. The kind who voted for George Bush.


Other than that, religion is fine.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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