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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Myth of the Moral Compass

“Our country has lost it's morale compass along with it's leadership and if you think Jeb or Hitllary are the solution then you are mistaken.” [sic]
- Anonymous, 4/22 12:36PM, The Romney Strategy, Stonekettle Station

 

Our country has lost its moral compass.

You hear that a lot these days.

Moral compass. Any discussion of crime or patriotism or guns or the current generation or gay rights or women’s health or voting reform or taxes or politics will eventually lead to the moral compass statement. 

Our country has lost its moral compass.

Right.

Listen, as soon as you say to me “the country has lost its moral compass" you and I are done talking.

Because you are engaged in a logical fallacy, a fantasy of your own making, and while that may be your right, it’s my right not to participate in your delusion.

The United States does not now have, nor has it ever had, a "moral compass."

We haven’t lost ours, we Americans, we never had one.

Morality is for people, not nations.

The very notion of a national morality is counter to liberty; it is tyrants and the totalitarianism of theocracies and ideologues which attempt to impose morality on the citizenry by force or threat.

Moral compass?

Who decides what is moral and not moral? The howling mob? Politicians? Celebrities? The media? Pundits? Religion?

Nonsense.

Morality is a human condition.

In a free society, morality must always be an individual choice. Always. Even, and especially, if others chose differently from you.

Free people decide for themselves what is moral and what is not.

Morality is a reflection of civilization, not the other way around. As such, morality will, will, change over time, it will evolve.

Morality is not an absolute, not now, not ever. 

For example, most – not all, but most – Americans consider slavery immoral today, but that was not always so. Most of us would say murder is immoral, but we have a long list of when killing another human being is okay, moral, even if illegal.

Morality is always subjective. Always.

Freedom, liberty, means each of us decides what code we will follow.

 

Having a code of conduct imposed on you by government, by political affiliation, by religion, isn’t morality … it is only obedience.

 

Free nations are governed by law.

In the United States, we are governed by our Constitution, by a social contract created from reason and argument and compromise, updated and modified and amended as necessary.

By definition, each person who agrees to live under that compact must make certain moral compromises and this, this right here, is the definition of a free civilization. If all three hundred and fifty million Americans embraced the same morality, the same ideals, thought and believed the same way, they wouldn't be free human beings, they'd be robots.

Governments are not moral.

Nations are not moral.

Government, nations, may behave ethically or not. They may act within the law or not. And those laws and ethics may or may not be based on generally accepted morality, don't kill, don't steal, don't hurt others, but such is the world we live in that sooner or later a government, a nation, will have to engage in behavior we as individuals find immoral.

A government may have to keep secrets from its people, it may have to lie.

It may have to put human beings to death and force others to live.

It may have to harm individuals for the greater good.

It may have to go to war.  And war is always immoral. There is no just war. War is killing and destruction and horror even when it is for the best of reasons and fought with the noblest of intentions and for all the right reasons. But sometimes even the most moral nation is forced into it, forced to defend itself or others, forced to attack, forced to kill and maim and destroy, forced to take immoral actions.

For a free people, morality is and must always be a personal choice.

For nations, for government, morality is impossible. Government can only act ethically and within the law, adjusting both as necessary for survival.

"The country has lost its moral compass" is a dog whistle.

Here in the United States when you pull the thread on "the country has lost its moral compass" what follows, clanking and banging like a string of tin cans tied to a dog's tail, is thinly disguised racism, misogyny, homophobia, hate, fear, bigotry, and nostalgia for the "good old days" when people who looked and thought just like you owned everything.

Every conversation that begins with "The country has lost its moral compass" always and inevitably ends with the only solution being the commenter’s religion. Always. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

And every single time you protest and tell me I'm wrong, as soon as you attempt to explain how "the country has lost its moral compass" you always plow through thinly disguised racism, misogyny, homophobia, hate, fear, bigotry, and the good old days on the way to your religion. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Folks, today is no better or worse, morally, than any other day. 

We haven’t lost our moral compass as a nation. We never had one to begin with.

And that’s a good thing.

We face problems as a nation, as a civilization, just as we always have.

The world is always going to hell, just ask anybody.

Attempting to impose your morality on the rest of us isn’t the solution.

It’s the whole damned problem.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Romney Strategy

Nine Reasons to Reject Hillary

That was the title of a hit piece in The Hill yesterday.

Dick Morris: 9 Reasons to Reject Hillary

Dick. Dick Morris.

Oh, Dick Morris. Sure.

You remember Dick Morris, right?

Why of course you do. Let’s see, October 31st, 2012, Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor:

DICK MORRIS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: […] let me go through the numbers because it's important for people to get it.

[Demonstrates irrefutable mathematical analysis of why Obama will lose to Romney]

O'REILLY: All right. That's pretty much what Rove did on his little board.

[…]

O'REILLY: […] So you are standing by your prediction of a Romney landslide?

MORRIS: Absolutely. Romney will win this election by five to ten points in the popular vote. And will carry more than three hundred electoral votes.

O'REILLY: All right. Now you know, Morris, I have you booked for one week from tonight. One week from tonight [after the election]

MORRIS: I know. But my question is, is my appearance going to be before or after you buy me dinner?

O'REILLY: I'm not buying you anything. I didn't bet anything, Morris. I got your back here.

[…]

MORRIS: In my book "Black Helicopters", I write about how the U.N. is sending inspectors to monitor the voting in the United States. What's going to happen is after Romney wins this in a landslide the Democratic narrative will be how the black vote was down. It was down because of unemployment and disillusionment. They'll say it's down because of voter suppression…

O'REILLY: Suppressed. Right.

MORRIS: And that's how this will go into history.

O'REILLY: No it won't because we're not going to let them get away with that. Morris, thanks very much. We'll see you next Wednesday. That will be high noon.

And it was High Noon, wasn’t it?

If you did happen to tune in the following week, you got to watch Karl Rove losing his shit on Fox News as his and Morris’ predictions of a landslide turned out to be true …

… it’s just that Romney got buried under it.

 

And now Dick Morris Fox News Political Analyst is back with nine reasons why America should reject Hillary Clinton:

1. She is a hawk who will get us into another war

Morris actually said that.

That’s his first complaint.

Clinton is a “hawk” who will get us into another war.

It’s one thing for liberals to consider Clinton’s supposed hawkishness a reason not to vote for her. But Morris is a conservative, and he’s saying it in of all places The Hill – a saber rattling conservative media outlet that has been advocating for war with Iran since it went into business.

At this point, the only way conservatives could be more pro-war is if they showed up for work goose-stepping in uniform toting their AR-15s.

Morris says, “By temperament, [Clinton] has a bias toward sharp, decisive action, is impatient with delay and terrified of appearing weak. She likes to be the tough guy.”

A bias towards sharp, decisive action? Impatient with delay? So now that’s bad, is it?

Somebody explain to me how this squares with the unending complaints from conservatives that Obama isn’t hawkishly decisive enough? That he doesn’t take action quickly enough when America is supposedly threatened?

She’s terrified of appearing weak.

Funny, Morris had a different opinion on the appearance of weakness back in 2008

But in an age of terrorism, weakness is a capital crime. McCain needs to base his campaign on establishing Obama's weakness and his own strong leadership by comparison.

Weakness is a capital crime, said Morris back then. In fact, over the years, Morris, The Hill, the conservative press, and conservative politicians have harped endlessly in fear of appearing weak. Not a day goes by that some conservative pundit doesn’t accuse Barack Obama of appearing weak. In fact, conservatives never shut the fuck up about it.

She likes to be the tough guy.

As opposed to who? As opposed to which historical conservative example? Abraham Lincoln? Teddy Roosevelt? Ronald Reagan? George W. Bush? As opposed to which jingoistic chest-beating potential conservative candidate? Jeb Bush? Ted Cruz? Chris Christie? Marco Rubio? As opposed to which icon of modern conservatism? Ted Nugent? Donald Trump? Sarah Palin?

Rand Paul, perhaps, who can’t seem to decide if he’s the isolationist kind of libertarian or the Aw Shucks Let’s Kill Us Some Brown People For America kind of libertarian.

The hypocritical irony is so thick you could cut it with a bayonet.

A strong opinionate hawk is a good thing when he’s a Republican, but a bad thing when she’s a democrat – and I’m honestly shocked that Morris didn’t work in a “pantsuit” reference or a comment about menstruation.

2. She tends to follow certain advisers slavishly, almost to the exclusion of her own views

Morris opines that Hillary Clinton has no real thoughts of her own, she’s totally dependent on “a guru” to lead her.

Oh, Hillary, you silly lady brain.

If only she’d read more Ayn Rand or had an evangelical holy man for a father to predict her future. If only Karl Rove was there to advise her. And who was her astrologer when she was First Lady? I think we have a right to know! 

I suppose I should be shocked at how fast conservative racism is being updated to misogyny, but I’m really not.

3. She has no knowledge of economics

Morris says Clinton has avoided studying economics and has no theories about it.

According to Morris, Clinton believes economics are “best left to the experts,” which Morris explains is a view common to those “reared in the arrogance of the Keynesians of the ’60s and ’70s.”

You know that line from The Princess Bride? Sure, you know the one.

Arrogance, Morris says. After first pointing out Clinton supposedly admits she doesn’t know anything about a subject so she defers to experts on it instead of just plowing ahead – like a Republican would. Hey, I read Atlas Shrugged, I think I know what I’m doing!

“You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.”

How horrible, I guess, to live in a nation where massive, fantastically complicated systems might be managed by professionals who actually know something about them.  Where politicians understand the limitations of their interests and expertise and defer to trained experts.  Jesus Trickle Down Christ, think what would happen if instead of amateurs and science deniers and religious fanatics and partisan dogmatists, we actually listened to experts on economics, banking, climate, reproduction, medicine, the military, foreign relations, space exploration, the environment, education, engineering, energy, internet security, electronic media, intellectual property … but I digress.

That would be crazy. Just crazy.

4. She has no deep sense of who she is.

Sorry, who was the arrogant one again?

Goddamn but you’ve just got to love this guy, don’t you? 

Morris says, “Hillary Clinton is endlessly adaptable […] She has no anchor, no real sense of who she really is.”

Hillary Clinton has no sense of who she is, see?

Morris does, of course, he knows. 

But Clinton, silly lady brain, she doesn’t even know who she is.

Ivy league educated attorney. First Lady of Arkansas, First Lady of the United States. Senator. Secretary of State. Mother. Grandmother. Sixty-seven years old and she doesn’t know who she is. Biggest complaint from the Right is that she’s a tough, confident, opinionated cast-iron bitch – and in fact Morris himself not three paragraphs back called her a hawk, a tough guy.

But yeah, Hillary Clinton has no sense of self. She doesn’t know who she is.

I looked. I did. But I couldn’t find Morris’ similar assessment of Mitt Flip Flop Romney’s sense of self.  Or Marco Rubio’s fluid position on immigration … or his family history for that matter. Or Scott Walker, who said he didn’t change his positions he’s just listening to the “will of the people.”  But Clinton, who has held the same beliefs and political position for 30 years, who has weathered decades of relentless assaults and faced down her critics from Whitewater to Lewinsky to Benghazi, she has no sense of self.

Riiiiight.

And Romney will win in a landslide. That Morris, what an insight that guy has.

5. Her worldview is shaped by her grudges.

Morris declares, “Nobody has a longer enemies list than Clinton.”

Nobody has a longer list of enemies than Clinton … unless it’s neo-confederate conservatives who are still mad about how the Civil War turned out.

Muslims, atheists, gays, progressives, activists, statists, hippies, the “elites,” big government, the educated, the poor, the uninsured, women, the unemployed, minorities, environmentalists, unions, immigrants, the sick, socialists, vegetarians, the French, and the list of people conservatives hate just goes on and on and fucking on. They’re defined by it, by who they hate, who they hold a grudge against, by who they declare unAmerican and unfit.

Hell, follow John Boehner’s Twitter feed for a day compared to Barack Obama’s. Boehner does nothing but bitch about people he hates and blames for all the ills of the world, Obama talks about hope and optimism and coming together. Have a gander at Sarah Palin’s Facebook page, go on, it won’t take much to compile a long, long list of the people she holds a grudge against – hell, it would be a lot easier to list the people she doesn’t hate.  Listen to one of Ted Cruz’s speeches, any one, pick one at random, it’s a litany of the people conservatives consider enemies. The people Bobby Jindal can’t stand, that Rand Paul detests, that Marco Rubio hates, that Dick Cheney despises is endless and never ever forgotten. It’s how they raise money, it’s what keeps them warm at night.

Morris is afraid a Clinton presidency would implement a “foreign policy by grudge.”

This, this, from the same goddamned people who want war with Iran, who want to murder another hundred thousand Muslims, because they can’t get over the idea Iran has the same exact right to sovereignty as does Israel.

This, this, from the same bitter sulking sons of bitches who just can’t get over Fidel Castro. Who insist on punishing Cuba for defying America, for continuing to exist despite our best efforts to the contrary.

Foreign policy by grudge? What’s Morris afraid of? That Clinton will be better at being a Republican than Republicans are?

6. Her fundraising has totally compromised her freedom of action.

Morris should give up The Hill and take a stab at writing for The Onion.

“Nobody is as bound to the status quo as Clinton, tied down by millions of special-interest donations.”

Seriously? Morris must be a hell of a poker player, no really, because if he can say something like that with a straight face he’s in the wrong business. He could be making a killing on the professional Texas Hold ‘Em circuit.

Again, what is it that Morris is really afraid of here? Because it sure sounds like he’s saying Hillary Clinton is a better Republican than Republicans.

Tell you what, let’s bring up repealing Citizens United, see who runs away first.

Go on, I’ll get the popcorn.

7. She is paranoid and suspicious.

And the conservative hopefuls who just spoke to the NRA, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina and Lindsey Graham, are what exactly if not paranoid and suspicious?

Have you met John McCain?

Paranoid suspicion has essentially defined the Republican Party since September 11th, 2001.  

Morris says, “Presidential historian James David Barber defined presidents based, in part, on whether they enjoyed serving. Bill Clinton did. Hillary Clinton will not. Her sense of enemies closing in on her will overwhelm her. She will feel under siege […] making her dark, sullen, secretive and surly.”

Dark, sullen, secretive, and surly?

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Take a look at that list of NRA speakers again. Listen to what they had to say. They’re talking to the very epitome of paranoia and suspicion. Why the hell do you think all those people are armed? They’re terrified of everything, they see enemies behind every bush, in every face.

You don’t get any more paranoid and suspicious then the goddamned NRA. Dark, sullen, secretive, surly? You talk about a siege mentality, that’s the NRA’s very core – and, yet, who’s courting them?  Was it Hillary Clinton? Was it?

Good grief! If the Obama administration has taught us anything, if the previous Clinton administration has taught us anything, it’s that a Democrat has every right to feel under siege and surrounded by enemies.

Because they are under siege and surrounded by enemies.

Republicans have made it absolutely clear, have openly declared it over and over and over again, they consider liberals such as Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and now Hillary Clinton to be the enemies of America, worse than Hitler or Stalin they say, worse than ISIS, the literal Anti-Christ of their religion who will usher in the end of the world – and they have said so, in those exact words, openly, publicly, so many times that it’s impossible to make an accurate count.

Hell, that was Obama’s biggest mistake, he thought Republicans were reasonable people who would compromise for the good of the country – and it took him damned near six years to realize they have become bitter raging fanatics, birthers, truthers, gun waving, bible thumping government haters, who were fully willing to burn down the entire nation just to stick it to him.

President Hillary Clinton would have to be nuts not to consider herself besieged by enemies.

8. She approved NSA wiretapping of foreign leaders.

I had to keep checking to make sure Morris wasn’t talking about his own party.

“ As secretary of State, she had to be aware that the U.S. was wiretapping the cellphones of foreign leaders like Germany’s Angela Merkel. It is very hard to suppose that we would tap the phone of one of our key allies without the approval of the secretary of State.”

Sure. Why not. I mean,  Morris is living in a fantasyland anyway, so why shouldn’t the National Security Agency be under the authority of Hillary Clinton’s State Department instead of, you know, under cognizance of the Department of Defense like it actually is out here in the real world. Subject to congressional oversight made up of both Democrats and Republicans.  

Foreign intelligence is what NSA does. I know, I used to work there.

If conservatives don’t like NSA doing its job, they should work together with liberals to amend National Intelligence tasking.

Instead, I note The Hill just posted an article gushingly describing how Congress is “closing in on” renewal of the Patriot Act, you know, the law that authorized and vastly expanded NSA’s domestic and foreign collection mission – including removal of oversight and the insertion of backdoors and taps into commercial communications systems.

9. Her contempt for the press is legendary and will lead to more and more secrets.

“Can anyone disagree with this?”

Well, certainly not Sarah Palin. Right?

And certainly not those Republicans who use the phrase “Lamestream Media” and talk endlessly about the media’s supposed “liberal bias” … oh, wait, who was Morris talking about again?

Right.

Morris is in fact saying that Hillary Clinton is a better Republican than Republicans.

That’s exactly what he’s saying.

And he’s saying it because unless something completely unexpected happens in the next few months, Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic  Party’s nominee.  I know it. You know it. Morris knows it. Morris and those like him know they can’t stop it, and they know they don’t have anybody nearly as powerful to rally around.

No, Morris and those like him are right now attempting to paint Hillary Clinton as more Republican than Republican. It’s deliberate and you can tell because Morris specifically didn’t mention certain things, such as: Abortion, Climate Change, Minimum Wage, Income Inequality, Marriage Equality, Education, and etcetera.

Morris and his friends are not trying to make conservatives hate Hillary Clinton, obviously there’s no need for that.

They’re trying to make liberals stay home.

Romney will win this election by 5 to 10 points in the popular vote. And will carry more than 300 electoral votes.

Except Mitt Romney didn’t win that election.

And Romney didn’t win that election because conservatives didn’t like him.

Conservatives didn’t think Romney was conservative enough. He wasn’t a Reagan, he wasn’t even a George H. W. Bush. He was too much like Obama. He wasn’t this and he wasn’t that. Conservatives had a whole list of reasons why they didn’t like Mitt Romney.

But they hated Barack Obama, oh yes they did.

And political analysts like Morris thought that was enough.

Political analysts like Karl Rove and Dick Morris, they thought hate would be enough. They had the math to prove it and everything.

But you see, hate, no matter how strong, doesn’t win elections.

However, apathy certainly can.

Conservatives hated Barack Obama, but they didn’t like Mitt Romney either.

So they stayed home.

Two years later, liberals hated their truculent obstructionist Congress, but they didn’t much care for Obama either.

So they stayed home.

And that, that right there, is exactly what people like Morris are counting on in 2016.

Your apathy.

They’ve got a clown car full of unlikeable nuts. And Hillary Clinton.

And if they can convince liberals, and progressives, and the fickle free-range undecideds to just stay home, they’ll take back the White House.

 

Don’t stay home.

 

Yes, there are plenty of reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton. Real reasons, not the ridiculous nonsense listed above, but real reasons. Sure. There are plenty of reasons to dislike Hillary Clinton.

If you look, you can find hundreds of reasons to stay home.

That said, I’ll give you three reasons right now not to:

Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Soothsaying 2016

I keep getting asked to predict 2016.

Predicting an election this far out is a sucker's bet.

There are far, far too many variables in play - and at this point in time at least 50% of those variables are unknowable unknowns.

As I said, making a prediction now is a sucker's bet.

But then, I am a sucker for this sort of thing.

At this point, given the skimpy data, the few candidates who've actually declared, the fickle mood of voters, the sullen demeanor of the country, and a roll of the ten sided dice for good measure...

... I suspect the final duel will be: Hillary vs Jeb.

I can’t hazard even the vaguest guess as to who their Seconds will be.

As noted many times: Hillary Clinton is a hawkish corporate social liberal and she brings along a lot of baggage.

However, Clinton’s baggage was acquired by the very experience that makes her such a strong candidate. If she didn't have any baggage, she wouldn't even be in the race. If she and her advisors thought for one second that she couldn't resoundingly overcome her critics and turn her past to her advantage, she wouldn't be running.

Because whatever else Hillary Clinton is, she's a savvy, shrewd, cunning, and experienced politician who relishes being in the ring.

And she tends to eat her enemies kicking and screaming.

Jeb Bush shares a similar background - with the added advantage of his family's political dynasty.

And you should never underestimate the power of family and connections when it comes to politics.

Bush is a hawkish corporate social conservative who has his own load of baggage.

He hasn't declared yet, but a lot of people - including me - think he will once the unelectable fanatics blow their collective wads.

Jeb's best strategy is to let the Tea Partiers and the Libertarians flash loud and crazy – hell, get Ben Carson in the race –  let the traditional GOP establishment begin to panic at the thought of Hillary Clinton (and they are, they are. When you float the idea of Dick Cheney for your party’s candidate, you're panicking) then step in as the "sane," reasonable, proven conservative candidate. 

The conservative press and the NRC are largely ignoring Paul, Cruz, and Rubio, they don't take any of them seriously.

I think they're waiting for Jeb Bush.

As I said, a sucker's bet and there's still plenty of time for a charismatic unknown to emerge on both sides.

But if I was forced to put money on it now, I'd place my bet on Clinton vs Bush.

Whatever else 2016 is, it'll be interesting.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Object Lessons

 

Since the point of this essay largely involves Twitter, 
You can find me there at www.twitter.com/stonekettle
and view the source material for yourself

 


 

Love thy neighbor as thy self
- Jesus

 

It’s a curious thing, isn’t it?

It’s a curious thing that when religious people create a law granting themselves “religious freedom” somehow the rest of us end up with less freedom.

That’s how I began the previous post here on Stonekettle Station.

When those in a position of power create laws to grant themselves the freedom to discriminate against others, justified by arbitrary non-quantifiable nonsense such as  “sincerely held beliefs,” it is absolutely, utterly, inevitable that those others will end up losing their freedoms.

Every single time.

That’s the whole point of the law in the first place.

It’s ironic, since Christians, of all religious Americans, have not been restricted in any way whatsoever. They make up the overwhelming majority of the population. Every single major religious holiday in the US is a Christian one – and when other religions such as Islam request national recognition for a holiday of their own they are resoundingly shouted down by Christians offended at the very idea of any religious holiday not a Christian one. The symbols and fetishes of Christianity are everywhere in America. Caucasian bearded Jesus smiles or frowns from billboards along the highways, next to huge signs supposedly quoting the Christian God. Christian crosses hang prominently, proudly, from the necks of Americans wherever you look, and dot hilltops and sprout like weeds alongside our roads.  Christian churches reside on nearly every street corner. Small towns across America vie for the title of “Most churches per capita” – I grew up in a small Midwestern town that claimed that very mantle for itself. Christianity owns its own schools, and its own radio and TV stations along with hundreds of cable channels, and pulls in billions, billions, tax free.  Christianity even has its own amusement parks in America, but you don’t see any Jewish ones, or Buddhist, or Wiccan, or heaven forbid a Muslim one.

When Christian fanatics such as Westboro Baptist Church stand on a street corner in America and scream hatred at the rest of us, including other Christians, we say, well, you know, we don’t like it but that’s their right.  Let it be group of bearded men in Arab robes waving the Quran and see what happens. Go on, if you dare. When pastors want to make a political statement in America, it’s not the Bible they’re burning in front of the TV cameras, is it?

Christians are hardly discriminated against in America, there’s no public “debate” when Christians legally purchase land and set about building yet another church – but ask to build a mosque in the middle of town, see what happens.

No, Christians are not in any way discriminated against in America.

But religion loves to pretend persecution, even when it basks in power and privilege. Nothing proclaims piety like martyrdom. And nothing threatens religion like having to respect other beliefs, not even when your God and his prophet specifically command you to do so. 

The only reason for “religious freedom restoration” laws, the entire reason for such laws, is to give legal protection to bigots so that they may openly treat others as less than full citizens under the shield of religion.

Religious Freedom laws do not protect liberty, they take it away.

 

Every. Single. Time.

 

Naturally, the bigots who use religion as a shield don’t see it that way.

To them, freedom is a finite resource. If another gets more, they feel cheated, diminished, less.

And that is because to them liberty and freedom aren’t human rights but rather God given.

Given by their God, of course.

They proclaim that the rights enumerated in the Constitution are not a manmade contract between citizens, a template for law and government, but rather holy writ handed down by their God.  They say it over and over, rights come from our God, not government, not men, but God. Our God. Ours. Not your god, ours, Jehovah, the angry and petulant and spiteful Old Testament Christian God.  This is a Christian nation. Our nation. Our God. Ours.

This belief shapes how they view the world and in particular America.

Rights, freedom, liberty, belong to the righteous, see?

They believe this gives them leave to hate and despise others who are different, to treat their neighbors as less than human, as less than full citizens. Their God does not love these people, so why should they?

It’s just an excuse, of course – which was the whole point of yesterday’s tongue-in-cheek essay.

Naturally their God hates all the same people they do. Naturally. And conveniently, He always does.

If they didn’t have religion, they’d still find a way to way to hate others. They always do. Skin color, race, origin, accent, weight, sex, social class, and especially religion, the haters gonna hate. They’ll do it openly, smugly pointing to their God as an excuse, if they can. And when laws are created to protect the objects of their derision, when the laws don’t allow them to openly discriminate against race, creed, color, sex, age, or national origin, then they always and inevitably find somebody else to hate.

Every. Single. Time.

And now it’s gay people.

It’s always the same, this smug pious hate.

It’s not discrimination, they say. It’s not bigotry. We just don’t like their kind. It’s not us, it’s our God, see? He doesn’t like their kind. We have a right, they say, a right to refuse service, a right to keep them out of our schools, out of our government, out of our neighborhoods. We have a right to hate them, to despise them. They’re not like us, they’re not saved, not favored by our God, they’re not like real Americans. It’s our right to believe what we want. It’s not discrimination, it’s not!

In fact, said a prominent American Christian politician yesterday, they should be grateful. Yes, grateful. Grateful that we real Americans tolerate them at all. Why, in non-Christian countries they’d be put to death. So, yes, they should be grateful for what they have here in America. Second class is better than nothing and they should be grateful.

Bigots always say that.

They should be grateful.

Yes, they should be grateful. Why do they want to be here anyway? Why, you know, if I was them, if I was them, why I would just go somewhere else. I would. I wouldn’t make a big fuss. If a business refused to serve me, why that’s their right. I’d just take my business elsewhere. Let the free market fix it. I wouldn’t demand that they change their beliefs. Certainly not. That’s freedom. That’s liberty. I’d just go somewhere else.

Sure.

Sure you would.

Let’s just see what happens when when a Christian is refused service, shall we?

I posted this on Twitter earlier in the week and began yesterday’s essay with it:

image_thumb[6]_thumb

I got a lot of feedback.

In yesterdays essay, I used this Twitter response as a lead in:

image_thumb[7]_thumb

Earl was unhappy that I used him as an example. And he wrote a long, long response to yesterday’s post, condescendingly explaining to me how I was wrong about America and religion and the law.

I didn’t like his tone.

So I didn’t let his comment post.

Earl was not happy about that:

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As you can see, I explained to Earl why I didn’t let his comment post.  It was an ad hominem fallacy, he’d made it personal and therefore it didn’t meet my clearly posted commenting rules.

Rewrite the comment, or go somewhere else.

Naturally, Earl, being a Christian and all, understood and gratefully complied.

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Why, it seems Earl was getting angry.

But why?

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I guess Earl was upset about something.

Coward, he called me. Why you sniveling coward! Cry home to mommy! Coward! That’s Earl, threats and insults, rage and anger. How very Christ-like, these Christians.

Jesus, I’m certain, would be so proud of Christians like Earl.

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Madder and madder. Threats and insults.

I guess ol’ Earl didn’t like being mocked and denied his supposed right to comment on my blog.

How odd. How perplexing. Why, why was Earl so angry?  Just because everybody else got to comment, but not him? Because I was being unfair? Because I treated him differently?

Why didn’t he just go to a different blog then?

Why didn’t he just keep his Christianity to himself?

Interesting.

 

I wonder why I was doing that.

Treating an outspoken in-your-face Christian like Earl differently, I mean.

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It’s a curious thing, isn’t it?

It’s a curious thing how when it’s your voice denied, when it’s you being mocked, when the shoe is on the other foot and the foot is on your throat, well, it is curious thing that it is only then the idea of discrimination makes you angry.

Yes, a curious thing indeed.

We're not discriminating against anyone, that's just our belief…
- Crystal O’Connor, owner Memories Pizza, Walkerton, IN
  Explaining why her business refuses to cater gay weddings

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Dear Christians: A Modest Proposal

 

It’s a curious thing, isn’t it?

It’s a curious thing that when religious people create a law granting themselves “religious freedom” somehow the rest of us end up with less freedom.

I said as much on Twitter:

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The responses were … instructive.

Here’s a couple from one random internet denizen:

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Everybody got that? Christians don’t pass laws. Politicians do. 

In America, Christians don’t pass religious laws, it’s the politicians, see? And it’s totally coincidental that the laws in question were written and passed entirely by Christians despite protests and pushback from non-Christians (and many, many non-fanatical Christians too, to be entirely fair).

Earl, who as it turns out is Canadian, went on to helpfully explain how “Laws on morality do not tend to come from the religious.”

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Laws on morality don’t come from the religious.

Laws. On Morality. Don’t come from the religious.

Heh heh.

Sure they don’t, Earl. Suuuuure they don’t.

That’s why so many atheists propose morality laws everyday here in America, right?

That’s why the religious spend so much time explaining to the non-religious why there can’t be any morality without a deity in the sky to punish the wicked for doing bad things. Right?

Earl, it seems, lives in the Canadian province of Denial.

I’ve got a pile here of outraged email and direct messages in response to that tweet. Others agreed with Earl’s premise.  Christians, they tell me, are being discriminated against in the United States. Christian values and beliefs are under attack from every quarter. Christians are being persecuted in record numbers, just like in ancient Rome, just like in those Islamic countries we hear so much about.

And so these new laws are simply there to protect religious freedom – for everybody, of course, not just the majority religion who already owns nearly every holiday and tradition and political office in America, tax free.

It’s just a coincidence that the sponsors of Religious Freedom Restoration bills happen to be Christian.

It’s just a coincidence that laws are written and passed by people who believe they must protect Christian beliefs and promote the Christian version of morality and who loudly declare the United States a Christian nation based on Christian values.

It’s just a coincidence that Christian fundamentalists came up with Indiana’s new Religious Freedom bill – and Arizona’s Religious Freedom Bill, and eighteen other states with similar religious “freedom” laws. Not to mention the federal law. It’s just a coincidence that those bills had no non-Christian sponsors.

It’s just a coincidence that it was a Christian Arizona state legislator who declared church attendance should be mandatory for every American. Not for religious reasons, of course, oh no. For moral reasons. It’s just a coincidence that she didn’t say Mosque attendance should be mandatory, or Temple attendance, or Pagan Druid Ceremonies, or a non-religious class on ethics and morality. No. Just a coincidence. An oversight. Her evangelical Christian beliefs had nothing to do with her statement that every single American be forced to attend Christian church for moral reasons. 

It’s just a coincidence that the overwhelming majority of those who attempt to limit reproductive freedom and end of life choices are fanatical Christian fundamentalists.

It’s just a coincidence that those currently demanding America go to war with Muslim Iran are, yep, again outspoken Christians hoping to bring about the prophesied Holy Land apocalypse of their Christian bible. Totally coincidental.

And, of course, it’s purely a coincidence that a proposed ballot initiative currently before the California Attorney General, the so-called “Sodomite Suppression Act” was brought by a vehemently evangelical Christian.

 

I’ll say this, at least that last one, the California Sodomite Suppression Act is honest.

 

At least the proposed law doesn’t whore itself up with bullshit lies about “equal rights” and non-discrimination like the recently passed religious law in Indiana.

The proposed California law makes no bones about it.

It hates gay people and wants them dead.

Right up front the proposed Sodomite Suppression Act says that the Christian God hates gay people and non-Christians, and all true Christians should be allowed to murder anybody not of their faith on sight. Bang, bullet to the head.

 

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In California, anybody can propose a ballot initiative.

If they pay the requisite fee of $200 and submit the proper form, the state Attorney General is required to create an introductory description and allow a ballot petition to be circulated. 

Now, it seems highly unlikely that the initiative’s sponsor, lawyer and Christian conservative Matthew G. McLaughlin, will be able to collect the required 365,880 signatures needed to get the Sodomite Suppression Act on the ballot.

And even if McLaughlin does get the signatures, it’s highly unlikely that California voters would pass the act into law.

And even if they did, it would be unconstitutional. Obviously so. And would be immediately thrown out by a judge – without the necessity of going all the way to the Supreme Court at either the state or federal levels.

A lot of people are outraged that it’s possible for such a bill to become law, no matter how unlikely. They want the Attorney General to find a way to stop it before it can become a petition.

You know what I think?

I think this is as good of place as any to get this hate right out into the open.

I think it’s about time to drag this festering murderous Christian bigotry out of the dark kicking and screaming and spastically clutching its little plastic Jesus, drag it out into the light where we can all see the ugly hunchback pinheaded slobbering monster clearly for what it is.

Go on, get it out in front of the voters.

But – but – instead of the Sodomite Suppression Act, let’s call it The Mandatory Christian Compliance Act.

No more cherry picking Leviticus for Christians.

From now on, for those who identify as Christian fundamentalists, if you insist that the rest of us comply with your religious ideas, if you’re going to demand the right to kill Sodomites as your God commanded, then you have to comply with all of His law, all of it, to the letter, not just the part you like.

Since the primary Christian objections to homosexuality come from the Book of Leviticus, let’s just us see what other requirements that part of the Bible levies on Christians, shall we?

1.       Burning any yeast or honey in offerings to God (2:11)

That’s right, Christians are prohibited from burning honey or anything with yeast in it when they make offerings to God.

Better keep a close eye on those sacramental hosts when they’re in the oven.  Hate to piss off God by burning the holy bread. Of course it’s unleavened, but are you sure, really sure, there’s not a single cell of yeast in there? That stuff, wild yeast, floats around all over the place. That’s where natural sourdough comes from, you know. I’m just saying, you sure? Really sure?

It’s probably not something the average Christian has to worry about, but then again it’s number one on the list and you’d hate to see an entire church damned to hell for a contaminated batch. 

The bible doesn’t give a specific punishment for this transgression, just the standard penalty you get when you make God mad.

Now since the Sodomite Suppression Act updates the killing of Sodomites with the use of modern secular tools (i.e. guns and bullets), and specifically cites the California Penal Code, I think it’s both fair and keeping within the spirit of the original proposal to use California’s sentencing guidelines for those Christians who violate their own holy law. $1000 or 30 days in jail, suspended if nobody gets hurt, should do it for the first offense.

2.       Failing to include salt in offerings to God(2:13)

I’ve been in a lot of churches, never seen any salt in the sanctuary.

Same deal, you offer up prayers to God and forget the salt, $1000 fine or 30 days in jail. For the first offense.

You know, I bet you could make a killing in the Holy Salt Shaker market once this law goes into effect.

3.       No eating fat (3:17)

According to the Bible, this one is “a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live.”

By God’s law, all fat is to be saved for offerings to God. All fat. All.

Any Christian who eats fat of any kind, but particularly that from “clean” animals, is in violation of the law. And any Christian who fails to offer up fat to God is in violation of the law.

$1000 fine or 30 days in jail. This is big one though, God loves his bacon after all. In accordance with California sentencing guidelines, the second offense gets you a $10,000 fine or a year in jail.  You don’t even want to talk about three strikes and you’re out. Seriously.

Between this and the following items, you’d better stick to salads, Christians – no oil & vinegar dressing either.

4.       No eating blood (3:17)

No traditional English breakfast for Christians. No black pudding or blood sausages.  No Scandinavian pancakes. No French coq au vin or pressed duck. 

I don’t suppose this will be a real hardship, but a lot of Christians are going to miss those rare steaks. 

5.       Failing to testify against any wrongdoing you’ve witnessed (5:1)

Ah, now we’re talking felonies.

Leviticus says that those who fail to testify against ANY wrongdoing, any, “They will be held responsible” for the wrongdoing itself.

Any wrongdoing, no matter how great or small. Any violation of the law. Any transgression. Any bending of the rules in any fashion, and if you don’t speak up, Christians, then you’re just as guilty as the person who committed the crime.

Standard sentencing guidelines apply, you could find yourself facing a minor $65 fine or the electric chair. 

Better step up. Seriously.

6.       Failing to testify against any wrongdoing you’ve been told about (5:1)

Under secular law that would be hearsay, but under God’s law, you’d better report any alleged violation you hear about, no matter how small. 

God holds you to account for hearsay same as He does for witnessing actual crimes, i.e. “they shall be held responsible.”

7.       No touching an unclean animal (5:2)

No dogs. No pigs. No snakes. No shellfish. No crustaceans. No touching. This isn’t about eating unclean animals, we’ll get to that in a minute. This is about touching them.

Pet a dog? $1000 fine or 30 days in jail. 

8.       Carelessly making an oath (5:4)

Any Christian who “carelessly” makes an oath, even if they have their fingers crossed behind their backs, even if they don’t realize they’re doing it, is in violation of God’s law. $1000 fine or 30 days in jail.

Boy, if I was a Christian, I’d be very, very careful about clicking “Agree” on any software update.

Especially from Microsoft. 

That shit could get expensive really fast.

9.       Deceiving a neighbor about something trusted to them (6:2)

God says that if you borrow something from your neighbor and you lie about it, you have to return the item and pay them 20% of the item’s value PLUS the usual penalty of $1000 fine or 30 days in jail.

10.   Finding lost property and lying about it (6:3) 

God is not real big on finders-keepers. Any Christian who comes across something somebody else has lost and tries to keep it, is required to return the item to the person who lost it, pay them 20% of item’s value, and be assigned the normal penalty of $1000 fine or 30 days in jail.

11.   Bringing unauthorized fire before God (10:1)

This for some reason is a biggie.

If a Christian starts an unauthorized fire, God is supposed to smite him. However, just like the gay thing, since God generally doesn’t go around smiting people who violate Leviticus these days, it’s up to us. So, any Christian starting an “unauthorized fire” should be shot in the head as specified by the Sodomite Suppression Act.

If I was a California Christian, especially in SOCAL, I’d be damned scared, damned scared, come fire season. Shit’s already crazy enough without summary executions.

12.   Letting your hair become unkempt (10:6)

God’s law is pretty specific about this: Messy hair? You will die and God will be mad at everybody.

Now, depending on which version of the bible you read, this law might only apply to the priesthood. But better safe than sorry I say. Any Christian with unkempt hair? Bang! Right in the forehead. Get them before God gets us – just like it says in the Sodomite Suppression Act.

13.   Tearing your clothes (10:6)

Again, you’ll die and God will be mad at everybody. You know what to do if a Christian rips his pants.

And remember, it’s the law.

14.   Drinking alcohol in holy places (10:9)

Guess what? “You will die.”

Looks like open season on Catholics and Baptists, eh?

15.   Eating an animal which doesn’t both chew cud and has a divided hoof (11:8)

16.   Touching the carcass of any of the above (11:8)

17.   Eating or touching the carcass of any seafood without fins or scales (11:10-12)

18.   Eating or touching the carcass of the eagle, the vulture, the black vulture, the red kite, any kind of black kite, any kind of raven, the horned owl, the screech owl, the gull, any kind of hawk, the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, the white owl, the desert owl, the osprey, the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe and the bat. (11:13-19) 

What the hell is a hoopoe?

19.   Eating or touching the carcass of flying insects with four legs, unless those legs are jointed (11:20-22)

By the time you figure out what kind of legs the damned thing has, it’s probably too late.

20.   Eating any animal which walks on all four and has paws (11:27)  

21.   Eating or touching the carcass of the weasel, the rat, any kind of great lizard,the gecko, the monitor lizard, the wall lizard, the skink and the chameleon (11:29)

22.   Eating or touching the carcass of any creature which crawls on many legs, or its belly (11:41-42)

God really doesn’t like you touching his stuff.

No eating pigs, rabbits, and the bible specifically mentions camels – though I don’t know how common camel BBQ is in California. Nevertheless, don’t do it, or you will be “unclean” yourself.

No eating or touching birds, bugs, lizards, or dead cats.

The bible’s not real clear on what the punishment for being unclean is, so the standard penalty applies, $1000 fine or 30 days in jail for each offense.

Also, note that part about no touching. Especially no touching pigs or pig parts. So, no more football. Nope. No football. Even if the ball is made from synthetics, it’s still called a pigskin. Do you really want to take a chance? With the guy who killed off every firstborn in Egypt and drowned the entire world. Really?

Besides, you’re supposed be praying all day on Sunday, not watching sports and drinking beer. Bad Christian, no salvation.

23.   Going to church within 33 days after giving birth to a boy (12:4)

Any woman who gives birth to a boy is unclean for a week, and then forbidden from attending church for thirty-three days.

THEN she has to offer up a sacrifice to God.

Otherwise? It’s jail time!

24.   Going to church within 66 days after giving birth to a girl (12:5) 

Giving birth to girl is worse. Unclean for a week and forbidden from attending Church for sixty-six days. Then sacrifice and don’t forget the fat and salt, because the cops will be checking.  

25.   Having sex with your mother (18:7)

Now, if it were me, I’d say that the act itself was punishment enough, but God says that if a Christian has sex with his mom, he’s to be “cut off from his people.”

So, I’m guessing that’s either solitary confinement or exile to Alabama.

26.   Having sex with your father’s wife (18:8)

Yeah, that’s a big no no. Plus, Dude, really? Anyway, both are to be put to death.

27.   Having sex with your sister (18:9)

Good news, God says that if you have sex with your sister, you get the choice of marrying her or being put to death.

The bad news is that if you marry her, you’re both to “be removed from your people” and sent to West Virginia.

28.   Having sex with your granddaughter (18:10)

29.   Having sex with your half-sister (18:11)

Standard penalty applies, solitary confinement and major fines.

30.   Having sex with your biological aunt (18:12-13)

This is big deal for Christians. Leviticus mentions it twice.  Standard penalty, solitary and fines, plus in Leviticus 20:19 God specifies that the offender will be held responsible for the dishonor. I’m not real clear on what that means, but we’d better just shoot him.

31.   Having sex with your uncle’s wife (18:14)

32.   Having sex with your daughter-in-law (18:15)

What are you? Woody Allen?

33.   Having sex with your sister-in-law (18:16)

34.   Having sex with a woman and also having sex with her daughter or granddaughter (18:17)

Okay, even Jesus would call you Bro for this one. You did the mother and the daughter and the granddaughter? Hallelujah, Duuuuude! Ever thought about going into the priesthood, you’re a natural! 

35.   Marrying your wife’s sister while your wife still lives (18:18)

Somehow I doubt you’ll live long enough for God to punish you for this one.

Also, Jesus, man. Are you crazy?

36.   Having sex with a woman during her period (18:19)

Hey, I hear it helps with the cramps.

37.   Having sex with your neighbour’s wife (18:20)

Basically, if you’re a Christian and you’re having sex of any kind in any position at any time with anybody, ever, you’re screwed. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

38.   Giving your children to be sacrificed to Moloch (18:21)

Is this a thing? Does this happen nowadays? I mean do we really need a law?

And honestly, was this even a thing back in Biblical times?

It was? 

Moloch sacrifice. Well, then.

Okay, Christians, anybody caught sacrificing your kids to Moloch will be shot in the head. Other people’s kids? That’s okay.

39.   Having sex with a man “as one does with a woman” (18:22)

Ah, finally!

Wait, thirty-nine?

Gay sex is thirty-nine?  

Gay sex is wedged in between Moloch and making metal gods?

What. The. Fuck?

Thirty-ninth? Thirty-ninth? Gay sex didn’t even make the Ten Commandments. And in Leviticus it’s thirty-nine? Thirty-nine?

Don’t eat Bald Eagles is more important than don’t have gay sex.

Don’t touch bugs with bendy legs is more important than don’t have gay sex. 

No Messy Hair is more important than don’t have gay sex – seriously, go look at your bible. It’s right there. The fact that you own a fucking comb is more important to God than not having gay sex.

I’m just saying here!

Hey, don’t get pissy with me. This is your goofy stone-age religion, not mine. Always carry a comb! Come on

40.   Having sex with an animal (18:23)

You have to shoot them both.

Good thing this is California and not Texas. We’d need a lot more bullets.

41.   Making idols or “metal gods” (19:4)

Is anybody else picturing 50 foot tall Robo-Jesus shooting laser bolts from glowing red eyes or is it just me?

We told you not to make a metal god! Now look what you’ve done! No! Spare us, Robo-Jesus! Zap! Zap! Aaaaagh!

It’s just me, isn’t it?

42.   Reaping to the very edges of a field (19:9)

Leviticus is pretty specific about this. Christian farmers are to leave the outer edges of their crops as a gift to the poor.

Avocados. Oranges. Grapes (see item number 43). Nuts. Soybeans. Cabbages. Doesn’t matter. You leave the outer rows for the poor.

I’m curious why you don’t see more Christians demanding this. Seems like it would go a lot further towards Jesus’s command to feed the hungry than shooting gay people would – but then I’m not a Christian so what do I know? I’m rooting for Robo-Jesus.

43.   Picking up grapes that have fallen in your  vineyard (19:10)

God says that any grapes that fall in your vineyard are to be given to the poor. He was quite specific about it.

There’s a lot of vineyards in California, aren’t there? And there’s a lot of poor people.

So how come there are raisins?

Nobody ever asks the Pope these questions and you’d really think they would, wouldn’t you?

But again, all things being equal in God’s eyes, He’d probably rather you were out shooting gay people instead of feeding the poor.

44.   Stealing (19:11)

45.   Lying (19:11) 

46.   Swearing falsely on God’s name (19:12) 

47.   Defrauding your neighbor (19:13) 

48.   Holding back the wages of an employee overnight (19:13)

God obviously doesn’t understand how Capitalism works. Which is kind of weird, given how much he loves America and all.

49.   Cursing the deaf or abusing the blind (19:14)

50.   Perverting justice, showing partiality to either the poor or the rich (19:15)

Uh oh.

51.   Spreading slander (19:16) 

Bad news for Birthers, Truthers, and Fox.

52.   Doing anything to endanger a neighbor's life (19:16) 

53.   Seeking revenge or bearing a grudge (19:18) 

Boy, good thing Christians don’t bear grudges.  God hates that, which is why he’s been mad at the entire human race because some naked chick helped herself to an apple 10,000 years ago.

But I digress.

54.   Mixing fabrics in clothing (19:19)

55.   Cross-breeding animals (19:19) 

56.   Planting different seeds in the same field (19:19) 

Laws 44 through 56 don’t have specified punishments.  Gay sex, God saw fit to spell out the sentence for that. Because gay sex. But stealing, lying, fraud, perverting justice? Whatever. Use your best judgment. Community service.

57.   Sleeping with another man’s slave (19:20)

Christians have to offer up a ram in sacrifice.

What about California Governator Schwarzenegger? How come he didn’t burn a sheep on the front lawn of his mansion when his wife caught him screwing the help? Easy, he was sleeping with his own slave. It’s a technicality, but God’s totally good with it.

58.   Eating fruit from a tree within four years of planting it (19:23)

Don’t have this kind of sex. Don’t have that kind of sex. No screwing your mom. No sleeping with your sister. No banging your aunt or you uncle’s second cousin twice removed. No screwing somebody else’s slave or cows. No cheating. No lying.

Also? No fruit.

Anybody else get the feeling that this list is a little arbitrary?

59.   Practicing divination or seeking omens (19:26)

Hmmm. Leviticus mentions this three times.

It only mentions don’t be gay twice.

So, how about all all those Christians with TV shows and all those Christian preachers who keep prophesizing the end of the world? God’s wrath. Poison arrows and toads falling from the sky?

According to Leviticus, those Christians should be shot in the head immediately.

60.   No trimming your beard (19:27)

61.   No cutting your hair at the sides (19:27)

62.   No tattoos (19:28)

Clear rules. Pretty unambiguous. 

It’s gonna be hard to tell the fundamentalist Christians from the fundamentalist Muslims (and the Jews for that matter), but then it already is. They’ve got a hell of a lot more in common than they don’t – probably why they hate each.

Leviticus doesn’t specify a particular punishment for shaving, haircuts, or ink, so I guess we should just apply the standard $1000 fine or 30 days in jail for each offense.

63.   Making your daughter prostitute herself (19:29)

God says that if you make your daughter prostitute herself, the whole land will turn to prostitution.

Because apparently your daughter is just that goddamned good (But then, the preacher’s daughter usually is).

Seems like an odd punishment, doesn’t it?

What? You made your daughter into a prostitute? Okay, whores for everybody! That’ll teach you!

64.   Turning to mediums or spiritualists (19:31)

Doesn’t Nancy Reagan still live in California?

Get in the car, Nancy. You’re going to jail.

65.   Not standing in the presence of the elderly (19:32)

When I get old, I’m going to spend my days wandering through churches making citizen’s arrests.  No, no, don’t get up … just kidding, you’re under arrest!

66.   Mistreating foreigners (19:33-34)

“the foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born”   

Again, pretty specific. The foreigner residing among you MUST BE treated as your native-born.

Must be.

So, how come devout Christians aren’t flooding the California State Attorney General’s office with petitions to get the “Give Jose and Juan full native born citizenship right goddamned NOW” act?

Of course, I have the same question about the “Prostitutes For Everybody Act” too.

67.   Using dishonest weights and scales (19:35-36) 

68.   Cursing your father or mother (20:9)

This one is a big deal. It’s punishable by death.

Just like man sex.

Curse your mom, you might as well be gay. Creation Science don’t lie, Folks. Because lying would get you shot in the head. Think about it.

69.   No marrying a prostitute, divorcee or widow if you are a priest (21:7,13)

70.   Entering a place where there’s a dead body as a priest (21:11)

Kind of takes all the fun out of the clergy, doesn’t it?

Ah well, there’s always the money.

71.   Slaughtering a cow/sheep and its young on the same day (22:28)

72.   Working on the Sabbath (23:3)

73.   Blasphemy (24:14)

Another death sentence and just how certain are you really that your interpretation of the Bible is correct?

Are you willing to risk a bullet in the head? Summary execution by any random Christian on the street?

Are you really?

What if somebody shoots you down for blasphemy, but the crowd misunderstands and thinks you’re gay? Do they all go to hell for bearing false witness?

74.   Inflicting an injury; killing someone else’s animal; killing a person must be punished in kind (24:17-22)

Wait, what?

If a Christian inflicts an injury, kills somebody else’s animal (even by accident), or kills a person – they must be punished in the same fashion.

So, if you kill a gay person for being gay, you must be killed the same way, then the guy who kills you must be killed, then that guy must be killed…

Okay, it’s just me, right?

75.   Selling land permanently (25:23)

Again, I don’t think God understands capitalism, but who am I to argue?

And finally, 76.   Selling an Israelite as a slave (25:42)

All the way down here at the bottom. Oh, um one other thing, uh, don’t sell any Israelites. That’s bad. Touching a squirrel is worse, sure, right up there with sucking a dick. But after that, well, you know. Also, you can sell anybody else into slavery, that’s cool. But no Israelites. Got it?

Quite the list, isn’t it?

And that’s just one book of the Bible.

How many Christians adhere to these rules?

How many?  

Tell you what, when Christians start living up to their own rules, under penalty of death, maybe they can tell the rest of us what to do.

Until then, their religion is free to take its version of Sharia law and go smite itself.

 

If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you. Do not take interest or any profit from them, but fear your God, so that they may continue to live among you. You must not lend them money at interest or sell them food at a profit.
- Leviticus 35:37

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Narrow Gate

Well, come on all of you, big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He's got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Vietnam
So put down your books and pick up a gun,
We're gonna have a whole lotta fun.
- The Vietnam Song, Country Joe and the Fish

And it all seems so terribly familiar, doesn’t it?

We’ve been here before and made the easy decision.

We paid the price for that too, and we’re still paying.

And yet we apparently learned nothing from our mistakes.

This week, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu won himself reelection.

Polls say that Israelis chose security as the defining issue of the election.

Israel’s idea of democracy isn’t like the American version. In the country’s history, no single party has ever won a decisive majority of the parliament’s 120 seats. Which means that after each election, the resulting government is formed from a coalition of parties and complex alliances. 

Exactly what Israel’s government will look like this time around is anybody’s guess.

But one thing is likely, given Netanyahu’s win, sooner or later there will probably be war.

Netanyahu is determined to see Iran reduced to rubble and he will settle for nothing less.

And the obvious implication of his reelection is that a majority of Israelis feel the same way. They see Iran as a direct threat to Israel’s continued existence, certainly with good reason, and they are convinced that war is the only way of resolving the situation.

But they don’t want to fight that war themselves.

They’d prefer the United States do it for them.

And in this, Israel is not alone. There are plenty of Americans who are perfectly willing to declare war on Israel’s behalf – including a significant number of US Senators, Congressmen, and presidential candidates.

Whether they want war because they’re convinced Iran is somehow an actual threat to the rest of the world, or because they’re attempting to bring about the apocalyptic prophecy of their religion, or because they think it’ll help them get elected, or because they just want to stick it to Barack Obama, they want war and they are determined to get it.

Earlier this week in the Washington Post, neoconservative Joshua Muravchik, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and adjunct professor at the Institute of World Politics, wrote an article titled “War with Iran is probably our best option.”  The article is a couple thousand words, but you don’t need to read it. The title sums it up nicely.

Muravchik calls for the preemptive destruction of Iran.

He says it’s our best option. Kill them, before they kill us. Simple as that.

This is nothing new for Murachik. He was an early supporter of The Bush Doctrine and advocated for preemptive invasion of Iraq based on the idea of WMDs and a supposed imminent threat to the rest of the world. In December of 2002, while US forces such as yours truly waited in the Northern Arabian Gulf for the Commander In Chief’s order to begin the invasion, “experts” like Murachik staunchly defended the right and duty of America to wage preemptive war. To get them before they got us. In the December 2002 edition of Commentary magazine, Murachik wrote:

"The complaint that Bush's doctrine of preemption traduces international law is the most serious charge laid against it. But is it well founded?

Bush's statement does not strike a posture that places America above the law, as some critics have suggested. To the contrary, it seeks to embed the new doctrine in established legal traditions. 'For centuries,' it asserts, 'international law recognized that nations need not suffer an attack before they can lawfully take action to defend themselves.' And it continues: 'We must adapt [this] concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today's adversaries.'

Those capabilities include weapons of mass destruction that can be 'easily concealed, delivered covertly, and used without warning.' In this, Bush is on strong legal ground."

He was joined by dozens of other policy wonks, all nodding their heads in unison over the idea of preemptive war and urging President Bush on. We have to do it, they said, Iraq poses an imminent threat to the rest of the world.

You all remember how that worked out, right?

Turns out, Iraq wasn’t much of threat to anybody – and don’t try to tell me otherwise, because I was there.

The UN sanctions were working.

Iraq had no real weapons programs and no usable stocks of WMDs.

Oh certainly, our troops and the inspectors who followed found bits and pieces, a few old chemical rounds, rusting, unusable, leaking, more a danger to Iraqis than anybody else. There was no nuclear program and no biological one either.

A decade plus later and people like Muravchik dance around the morality of that preemptive war, and whether it was a violation of our own and international law.  Experts and politicians and jingoistic partisans still argue both sides of the issue and history has yet to provide a definitive verdict and likely never will – not because there is any real question but more because history is written by the winners and there’s nobody left in the ruins of Iraq to protest.

A decade of preemptive war, we got rid of Saddam Hussein and got something worse in his place and the consequences of that are all around us for even the most dimwitted to see, and Muravchilk is still rattling the saber and urging us into yet another war.

His reasoning remains the same – even though this time he knows that the target does not in point of fact currently possess nuclear weapons.

But Iran might, someday, gain a nuke and that’s enough to declare war.

Muravchik, like Netanyahu, posits that there is simply no point in diplomacy. 

Sanctions, he declares, won’t work – even the tougher ones demanded by Netanyahu before the US Congress last month. 

The logic goes we can’t get a “good” deal, and even if we did we can’t trust the shifty Muslims to uphold their end of the bargain and besides Obama is too wimpy to impose tough sanctions anyway or hold Iran to them.  

Predictably, just like in Iraq, Muravchik then compares the Iranian regime to the Nazis and the Communists of the old long defunct Soviet Union and warns that they aim “to carry [their] Islamic revolution across the Middle East and beyond.” As if all Middle Eastern Muslims were the same, as if the same tribalism and sectarian divisions and nationalism that defeated pan-Arabism in the 60’s and Saddam Hussein’s ambitions in the 70’s and 80’s and that tore Iraq apart post-Saddam would offer no resistance to Iranian Imperialism.

Muravchik says that revolutions in Ukraine and Kazakhstan and South Africa led to the abandonment of nuclear weapons in those countries, but Iranians themselves are too passive and cowardly to bring down the regime in their country – so we need to do it for them. Yes, ultimately, we must destroy Iran for the Iranians, just like we destroyed Iraq to bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqis.

As an aside: you might not want to ask Ukrainians how they feel nowadays about giving up their nuclear capability.

And where does that leave us according to Muravchik?

“Does this mean that our only option is war? Yes…”

Our only option is war, says Muravchik.

That’s the only option.

Because of course it is.

Because with Neocons it’s always war. That’s their solution to everything foreign and domestic. Kill ‘em all and let God sort it out.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Muravchik goes on to qualify his call for war by saying we could wage it as “an air campaign targeting Iran’s nuclear infrastructure” which would entail “less need for boots on the ground” unlike “the war Obama is waging against the Islamic State.”

An air campaign.

Oh, well, an air campaign then.

That’s different. An air campaign.

Sure. We’ll drop some freedom on Iran and be home in time for corn flakes.

That doesn’t sound so bad. An air campaign.

That’s not like real war. Let’s see we’ll just need, hmmm, some drones … no, wait, drones can’t carry large enough weapons to penetrate hardened nuclear facilities, so, we’ll need manned aircraft, and we’re gonna need a lot of them because before we can reach those nuclear facilities that are the real targets we’re gonna have to smash one of the largest air defense systems in the world, so yeah, a lot of planes and we can probably launch them from Navy carriers except of course we’ll need the Navy planes to maintain air superiority over the Arabian Gulf while the fleet tries to fight its way through the Strait of Hormuz, plus we’re gonna be there for a long time so we’d better maybe use Air Force planes so we’re gonna need a base or two, but Israel will provide that, right? They don’t mind American bases on their soil waging war on their neighbors and making them yet a bigger target, no? Not even if we’re fighting a war for them, huh? Well, okay, we understand, so then we’ll launch from a Muslim nation – you know, one that doesn’t mind us attacking a fellow Muslim nation and building bases on their soil … and it can’t be a Gulf nation because, well, there’s that whole problem of the Strait of Hormuz again, so, hmmm, okay, well, we’ll think of something, maybe the Brits will let us use Diego Garcia, and let’s see we’ll need some Tomahawk launch platforms sitting in the northern Indian Ocean and rescue teams forward deployed to Pakistan and of course some contractor support and R&R facilities and repair and resupply and communications and logistics and we’ll sort of half-ass, half-commit to it because it’s not a real war, just an air campaign, but that won’t be a problem, probably, again, just like every goddamned time we’re stuck out on the far end of the shitty stick. Besides, Congress will fund that, right? They’ll keep approving emergency funding bills for the air campaign. Plenty of money, plenty of money, in the Social Security fund. Good idea. No, that’ll probably work. This time. Sure. I mean, ten years of waging an Air campaign against Iraq and, well, okay, we invaded anyway and now we’ve got an even bigger more deadly mess to deal with, nothing to see here, move along, move along.

Muravchik obviously has a pocket full of the same fairy dust which led us into Iraq – i.e. we’ll get rid of the current government which we don’t like and then an America-loving democracy will magically spring up in its place and they’ll be cheering us in the streets of Tehran.

Muravchik asks “Wouldn’t an attack cause ordinary Iranians to rally behind the regime?”

“Perhaps,” he answers his own question, “but …”

They’ve always got a “but…” these Neocons. Sure, sure, an unprovoked attack on Iran would validate what the Ayatollahs have been telling Iranians for years, that we hate them and that we want to destroy them and that we’re nothing but Israel’s dimwitted enforcer. Sure. But the good news is if we kill enough of them, the rest will rise up and tear down the regime.

Just like in Iraq, I guess.

Or Afghanistan.

Or Cuba.

Or Somalia.

Or Vietnam.

Or… well, I digress.

Same old Neocon strategy, bomb our way to freedom.  No freedom yet? Keep bombing.

It might take a year, or five, or twenty, or fifty, but sooner or later we’ll kill enough of them and the few who are left will love us among the ashes.  Just like in Iraq.  Or Afghanistan. Or… well, it’s like that great tale of conservative ideals, John Wayne’s McClintock! a love story that demonstrates how if you just beat a woman enough, she’ll give up her headstrong ways and love you forever. Like that, we’ll bomb ‘em from the skies, see, and Iranians will see what jerks they’ve been and they’ll riot in the streets and tear down the government and sing praises to America for setting them free!

Just like Iraq.

Because that’s how it works, right?

When Muslim extremists preemptively attacked us, when they killed 3000 Americans to make a political point, why we tore down our government and gave up our warring ways. Sure we did. Because that’s what people do. Just like in Iraq. And Afghanistan. And Somalia. And Cuba. And Vietnam…

No? Well, this time I’m sure it’ll be different, you betcha. Plus we can wage it as an air campaign!

Muravchik goes on, “Wouldn’t destroying much of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure merely delay its progress?”

And again answers his own question with, “Perhaps, but we can strike as often as necessary.”

We can strike as often as necessary.

We can strike. And we can do it as often as necessary.

A year, or five, or twenty, or fifty, and they’ll come around. A couple million dollars, a billion or two, a trillion. A few hundred lives, a thousand, five thousand, a hundred thousand. You’ll see. We’ll call it the John Wayne Doctrine, beat ‘em until they love us. Sure. And it’s not like our open-ended bombing of Iran will fan the flames of Islamic resentment around the globe and help to unite the fractious Muslim world – including those who live within our own borders. No, no, of course Muslim Mujahedeen won’t come from across the planet to rally under the banner of their shared religion. No, no, of course not, that’ll never happen.

Again.

Probably.

And if it does, hey, we can bomb them too!

Don’t forget to tell them it’s not really a war on Islam. Sure, they’re just goat herders, they’ll believe that shit. Besides, it’s worked so far, right?

Of course, Muravchik explains, Iran would certainly try to conceal and defend the elements of its nuclear program. Which, of course they would.

But, Muravchik says, we could find new ways to discover and attack them. Easy peasy.

“Surely,” Muravchik brags in fond patriotic pride, “the United States could best Iran in such a technological race.”

Oh surely we could.

Why you can hear the defense contractors clinking their money bags together right now, can’t you?

What’s that you say? We’ll be bombing Iran every couple of months? Hey, no problem. We can help you out. Let’s see what we got here, oh the F-35 Lightning, a billion dollar plane that’s now a trillion dollar plane that’s almost, but not quite, ready for this exact mission. Couple more billion, maybe a trillion, and she’ll be fully operational. Guaranteed! Smart missiles? We got ‘em in ten different flavors! And you’re gonna need some special satellites and this awesome new SEAL delivery vehicle and some of these new invisible surveillance drones and some IED Proof advanced capability MRAPs. Oh, yes, and you’ll need tech support and some consultants and civilian specialists and, oh, hey, how about you send some officers to the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies for their Masters Degrees? Sure, we got just the professor, he’s an expert. What? No, noooooo, no conflict of interest, he’ll tell you whatever you want to hear if the price is right!

Meanwhile Russia and China are lined up to sell Iran the latest in counter technology and weapons systems.

And it all sounds just so terribly familiar, doesn’t it?

Come on Wall Street, don't be slow,
Why man, this is war au-go-go
There's plenty good money to be made
By supplying the Army with the tools of its trade,
But just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,
They drop it on the Viet Cong.

And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam.
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Then Muravchik gets down to brass tacks, “wouldn’t Iran retaliate by using its own forces or proxies to attack Americans — as it has done in Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia — with new ferocity?”

Well? Won’t they?

“Probably,” Muravchik admits, again answering his own question. Probably they would attack us by whatever means, including terrorism he acknowledges. Sure. But, and there’s that but again, “We could attempt to deter this by warning that we would respond by targeting other military and infrastructure facilities.”

Oh, well, we could attempt to deter the resulting terrorism by warning them that we might bomb them again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

Because that worked so well in Iraq.

And Afghanistan.

And Somalia.

And Vietnam.

And how is that different from the gunboat diplomacy we’re currently engaged in you ask?

Well, it’s about about how the threat is delivered. It’s about the law we all agreed to live by. It’s “Hey, build a nuke and we’ll attack you with the rule of law behind us” versus “We’ll burn youse guys’ house down first so’s youse knows we mean bizness, then if youse builda nuke we’ll break youse guys kneecaps, see?”

The difference is one is puts us firmly on the right side of history with the world behind us and one doesn’t.

And even Muravchik acknowledges that his preemptive war doesn’t really make us any safer, “We might absorb some strikes […] Yes, there are risks to military action. But Iran’s nuclear program and vaunting ambitions have made the world a more dangerous place. Its achievement of a bomb would magnify that danger manyfold. Alas, sanctions and deals will not prevent this.”

Apparently war won’t prevent it either. Q.E.D.

But better we get the first blow in anyway according to mafia logic.

Let’s review, Muravchik calls for war, nonchalantly says we can wage it as an air campaign, but admits that probably won’t be enough implying an eventual need for ground forces, he admits this action is unlikely to achieve his stated objective of deterring Iran from its nuclear ambitions and will probably require an open-ended commitment of America military strength and money, and ultimately will result in a drastic uptick in terrorism targeting Americans abroad and at home.

Still our “best” option though, right?

And you know it would be one thing if it was just some random pundit calling for preemptive war, but this guy is responsible for educating future military officers and politicians and advising the US government.

Louie Gohmert (Republican, of course-TX) said Tuesday on Washington Watch, “We need to make clear to Iran: You can play these silly games with our president that buys into them and our secretary of state, but the American people aren’t buying it and you’re going to pay a price […] I’m hoping and praying the president will realize, despite the agenda he has that has put Christians in jeopardy around the world, that he will not want to leave the Democratic Party so devastated that they won’t recover for many decades.”

Ah. Nice of Louie to worry about Democrats and non-Christians and the rest of world too, isn’t it?

You know, it’s pretty hard to believe that this isn’t a religious war, a preemptive war aimed straight at Islam when members of the United States government publicly announce “…Christians in jeopardy around the world.”

You have to wonder how many ISIS/ISIL recruiters are quoting Gohmert right now.

Gohmert enjoined President Obama to comply with Netanyahu’s demands, “Maybe once he starts doing that he’ll realize we do need to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities that we know of and anything that they move to fix, we bomb that as well.” Then Gohmert justified preemptive war by repeating soundly debunked conspiracy theories, as is his tendency, and ended with a call to arms, “I think it’s time to bomb Iran. Anything that resembles a nuclear facility with centrifuges. It’s time to bomb.”

It’s time to bomb.

It’s time to bomb because Iran endangers the world.

Boy, does this sound familiar or what? Swap out “Iran” for “Saddam” and we won’t even have to print new posters.

Well, come on generals, let's move fast;
Your big chance has come at last.
Now you can go out and get those reds
'Cause the only good commie is the one that's dead
And you know that peace can only be won
When we've blown 'em all to kingdom come.


And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Over on World Net Daily, the Mecca of conservative war mongering, it’s time to declare another Crusade.

WND warns, “A solar eclipse coming on March 20 won’t just be an astronomical wonder – it will be an event that may be unprecedented in human history, according to biblical experts who say it is an unmistakable sign of judgment.”

According to “biblical experts.”

A solar eclipse.

It’s unprecedented in human history.

Never had one of these before. Oh No! Maybe there’ll be a comet too! Signs and Portents in the sky!

According to actual scientists, without whom you wouldn’t even know there was going to be an eclipse or how extensive it would be or where the moon’s shadow would fall on the earth, it’s just a manifestation of orbital elements.  Predictable as clockwork and nothing mysterious or prophetic about it.

But holy man Mark Biltz, author of Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs, explains how Friday’s eclipse was a sign we should attack Iran.

Yes, that’s right, an eclipse is God’s way of saying listen to Netanyahu!

“In Jewish tradition, a total solar eclipse is a warning to the Gentiles and a sign of judgment on the nations. When we look at where the darkness will be, it will be in northern European countries like England and Sweden where we see the rise of Islam and anti-Israel sentiment. Europeans especially should take heed.”

Take heed, Gentiles! Or Big Sky Man make angry boom boom!

Now far be it from me to question a genuine “biblical expert” and all, but if this eclipse is a warning to Sweden, why didn’t Netanyahu visit Stockholm instead of Washington?

But, sure, why not? I mean if we’re going to start yet another preemptive war, kill a couple hundred thousand more people, drive our country a couple trillion further into debt, why not mix in some mystical mumbo-jumbo Jewish blood moon astrology too?

I mean it can hardly be any less accurate than the assumptions which led us into Iraq, could it?

Come on mothers throughout the land,
Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
Come on fathers, and don't hesitate
To send your sons off before it's too late.
And you can be the first ones in your block
To have your boy come home in a box.


And it's one, two, three
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam.
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Where does this end?

This idea of preemptive war?

This idea that we have a right to destroy a country, to kill a people, to topple governments, based on what they might do in the future? Based on hysteria and conspiracy and rumor and astrology?

Certainly it’s an interesting exercise to wonder what the world would be like today if Adolf Hitler had been shot dead as a soldier in World War I, or if he’d died in prison after the Beer Hall Putsch, or if the Allies had come together 1938 and stopped the Nazis before the occupation of the Sudetenland.

And if we could predict the future with any degree of accuracy then perhaps preemptive war could be justified.

But as Iraq shows, we can’t predict the future. Hell, we barely grasp the present.

And so where does this end? This idea of preemptive war?

Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon.

Iran might get one in the future.

War might stop the threat, certainly, depending on how far we’re willing to go and how long we’re willing to stay and whether or not we’re willing to bankrupt ourselves doing it.

War can certainly topple regimes, just as it toppled the Soviet Union when they stayed so long in Afghanistan they bankrupted themselves out of existence.

And war might make the world a far more dangerous place, as it did in Iraq.

We can’t predict the future with any degree of accuracy.

There’s no way to predict with any certainty whatsoever what Iran would do with a nuclear weapon should they obtain one.  Certainly they may threaten Israel. Certainly they may threaten the United States. Or they may not. Iran is in the hands of fanatics, but those fanatics are neither insane nor suicidal.  Having a nuke and using a nuke are two entirely different things. 

Iran could not use a nuclear weapon without committing suicide. Would they? I don’t know. Would North Korea? Would Pakistan? Would Israel? 

And so by the logic outlined above, shouldn’t we declare preemptive war on those countries too? 

Shouldn’t we?

Shouldn’t we take out North Korea? Should we take out Pakistan? Shouldn’t we take out Israel’s nuclear capability? Shouldn’t we topple their governments?

No? If not why not?

And don’t say it’s because Iran threatened other countries, because right now? Right now, we’re the nuclear power threatening war on other nations.

So be specific, why destroy Iran and not Israel?

No, think about it. If you really want peace in the Middle East, wouldn’t getting rid of Israel preemptively go one hell of a lot further towards stabilizing the region and making Iran our friend?

Well?

I mean we’re willing to tell Israel, hey, don’t worry, we’ll blow up Iran for you.

But wouldn’t the quickest way to get Iran to give up nuclear weapons is if we returned the favor for them? Hey, you don’t need nukes, we’ll destroy your enemy for you. And you keep the Strait of Hormuz open and the oil flowing. Deal?

Well?

If not, why not?

Careful, it’s a trick question and you don’t want to end up admitting that bit about how it’s really a war on a certain religion.

Now look, I’m NOT advocating for the destruction of Israel, by us or by anybody else.

I firmly believe in Israel’s right to exist.

But I also believe in Iran’s right to exist.

I think Iran is dangerous. I think they are nobody’s friend and certainly not ours. I don’t trust them. I think there is a legitimate reason to fear Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But I also think they have a right to exist. Same as Israel.

 

When you say that we should engage in preemptive war, you’re saying very clearly that Iran as it exists now does not have a right to exist.

 

And what I’m saying here is the doctrine of preemptive war is a goddamned slippery slope.

When our educators and leaders and holy men tell us that one nation has a right to exist but another does not – and that is exactly what they are saying here – then I think we as citizens have not only a right but a duty to know where the lines are drawn and what the criteria is.

Why does Israel have the right to exist, the right to self determination, but Iran doesn’t?

We don’t like Iran. Israel doesn’t like Iran. Europe, Russian, and China don’t much care for Iran. Iran’s Muslim neighbors don’t have much use for Iran. But does that mean Iran doesn’t have a right to exist? To chose its own government, no matter how oppressive or fanatical?

If not, why not?

Be specific. Don’t move the goalposts. Answer the question.

If Iran in its present form does not have the right to exist, why doesn’t it? Lay it out on the table and explain it in small words. Show your work.

Once you buy into the idea of preemptive war, you can use it to justify all kinds of things. Japan justified its attack on Pearl Harbor, because it saw the United States as a threat to its ambitions. Hitler saw a preemptive invasion of his neighbors as justified by their economic sanction of Germany and the limitations placed on its military capability after WWI.

Vladimir Putin sees preemptive invasion of his neighbor as justified because Ukraine stands between Russia and the Russian Black Sea Fleet – and therefore Russia’s security.

We saw the invasion of Iraq as justified by 911 and some of us, such as Joshua Muravchik, still see it that way even though the reasons we used turned out to be magic fairy dust. But we won so we get to write history and so we say that Iraq was a threat to world peace and to America and enough people believe that bullshit so as to keep those who gave the orders out of jail.

Where does this end?

As populations increase and resources become more scarce, at the climate changes, as new disease emerge, as new and dangerous technologies evolve, where does this end?

We want to destroy Iran for what they might do, for the threat they might pose in the future.

How big of leap is it from “Iran might get a nuclear weapon” to “Liberia might infect us with Ebola?”

Where does this end?

Slippery Slope Fallacy? Perhaps. But perhaps not.

Show me the controls.

Show me the limits.

Show me where the boundaries are.

Show me why one nation has a right to exist and another doesn’t and show me where we get to decide.

Show me where we use war and where we don’t.

And this time, take responsibility for it. Show me where we use war and where we don’t. Define the criteria. Put it in writing.

Show me how war with Iran makes the world less dangerous. Put it in writing and sign your name to the bottom of it.

Show me how we avoid the mistakes of Iraq, put it in writing, sign your name to the bottom of it, and be willing to go to prison as a war criminal if you’re wrong.  No, really, if you’re not willing to risk prison, when the lives of millions are on the line, when the world economy is at risk, then why should I listen to you when you call for war? Why should everybody else put their ass on the line and not you? I’m just asking you to risk prison, you’re demanding everybody else risk their lives. So pony up. Do you really believe the shit you’re shoveling or don’t you?

Show me the budget, not the one for war – we’ve always got money for killing people, for dropping bombs, for destruction. No, show me how you’ll pay for what comes after. Show me how you’ll take care of veterans like me for the rest of our lives. Show me how you’ll pay to rebuild Iran into a model of Western style democracy. Show me where you’re willing to tax the rich and Wall Street to pay for it all – after all they’re the ones who profit hugely from war, from the world being a “safer” place, they should be willing to pay for the privilege. Go on, show me the goddamned money.

Show me the plan for Iran. Not the war plan, I don’t need to see that, hell I helped write part of it. The war plan is the easy part.

No, I’m talking about afterward. Show me that part.

Show me peaceful democratic united post-war Iran.

Show me. Show me the Iran that makes the world a safer place. Show me that Iran. Show me piece by piece, step by step, line by line, how we ensure that the government which replaces the one we blast out of existence, the one that doesn’t have a right to exist, will be an Iran that never, ever, seeks a bomb. Go on, show me. Show me how you plan to retool Islamic religious fanaticism into the benign, loving, non-aggressive Christian model – you know, the one that wouldn’t start a war in order to get its way.

Show me this: Show me an Iran with a nuclear bomb aimed at Israel … and the collocated Independent State of Palestine, so that Iran, or any other Muslim nation, couldn’t nuke one without killing the other. 

But I digress.

Show me all of these things. Show me why preemptive war is better than diplomacy.

Go on.

Well?

You can’t, can you?

You can’t show it to me. You can’t prove why this time preemptive war will be different. You can’t predict the future, not with any certainty, not even if you are a fellow of the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and adjunct professor at the Institute of World Politics Joshua Muravchik, PhD. You can’t show it to me even if you’re a United States Representative. You can’t show it to me even if you’re a holy man who deals in signs and portents. 

But we can make educated guesses based on past history and none of that history, none of it, supports the notion that preemptive war will somehow make the world a safer place. In fact, if we’ve learned anything from Iraq, it’s exactly the opposite.

Preemptive war will not make the world a safer place.

Not unless we are willing to occupy post-war Iran forever with enough troops to impose our will by lethal force. Not unless we are willing to bankrupt ourselves and to send our children one after the other into the meat-grinder forever. And if we are not willing to do that, if the world is not willing to do that, then the only way – the only way – you can make absolutely certain Iran won’t threaten the world ever again is to blow them all to hell. Genocide. Nuke ‘em. Kill them all. Every last mother lovin’ one of them.

Burn the whole country to the ground and salt the earth.

Kill ‘em all and let God sort it out…

And it's one, two, three
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Iran!

… and become the very people we despise.

We can not predict the future. War may indeed be necessary one day and diplomacy may certainly fail. That is always a possibility and if we have to fight we will.

But it is also possible that the current diplomatic efforts will succeed, and if not these talks then the next ones or the ones after that.

If Israel is able to negotiate a working government from a collection of mutually hostile political and religious entities, they, and we, should be able to do so on a larger scale.

So long as Iran is willing to talk we should be as well. 

So long as Iran is willing to talk, then war is not the only option.

It is certainly not the best one.

War is simply the easiest.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
- Christian Bible, Matthew 7:13