Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Oh, For Crying Out Loud, Conservatives

You know, some things are just plain guaranteed to elicit a sarcastic rant from me.

Lately, pretty much anything that comes from the Right falls into that category.

Seriously, what the hell happened to conservatives in this country? Is it the water? Subliminal messages inserted in the Bible? Did global warming bake their brains like tinfoil wrapped Idaho potatoes? Did Rush Limbaugh mate with Anne Coulter and produce some kind of alien mind control mutant baby? Is Rupert Murdoch broadcasting patented Paranoid Retard Rays from the FOX News satellites? Is it Inbreeding?

Or have so many intelligent and thoughtful people abandoned the party that the only ones left are the nitwitted crazies?

I’ve known a lot of Republicans, I used to be one, I grew up in a republican household, I served with conservatives - the vast majority of which were republicans – and they didn’t seem insane or stupid to me.

So, seriously, what the hell?

I’ve written about this before, these conservatives are not the republicans I remember. Somewhere, somehow, somebody has hijacked the GOP and replaced it with pod people.

Conservative Groups Declare Obama’s Stimulus Bill a War on Prayer.


Obama declares war on prayer?

You’re kidding, Republicans. Right?

Because if you’re not, you’re nuts.

See, there it is, right there.

That one FOX News headline sums up everything that’s wrong with the Republican Party. Everything. FOX, bless their black mechanical heart, has managed to distill everything that’s just plain stark staring barking at the moon crazy paranoid about the GOP into that one headline.

First despite the fact that the previous conservative president pushed through a hideously expensive bailout plan, Conservatives declared the current plan an example of liberal “Tax and Spend” economics. I’m not quite sure why it’s “tax and spend” when it comes from a democrat, but “non-partisan economic stimulus” when it comes from the republican side of the aisle. When that failed to generate sufficient public outrage, Conservatives declared the plan was “full of Democratic pork.” Huh? Oh, don’t get me wrong, it is full of pork just like every other bill that makes its artery clogging way though Congress. For the last eight years it was 99% good old smoky bacon flavored republican pork - just ask Halliburton and Northrop Grumman. For republicans to start talking about pork now, well, that’s a whole lot like a convicted felon saying he doesn’t want to share a cell with a criminal. Funny how republicans are only “the party of fiscal conservatism” when they’re not in the majority, isn’t it? When that failed to generate sufficient outrage, Conservatives decided that the plan is a liberal attack on Christians and God Himself!

And that, folks, well that is finally generating sufficient outrage.

That will generate urban legends spontaneously, that will get the petitions flying, and Rush ranting, and Anne hating, and the Christian soldiers marching, and the NeoCon base all stirred up. By God, Obama has declared war on prayer! Dust off your bibles, Jesus People, we’re declaring war on the war on prayer. To Warshington!

Conservative groups declare Obama’s stimulus bill a war on prayer.

It’s war. Just like everything else with conservatives these days. War on drugs, war on terrorism, war on illegal immigration, war on this, war on that. Conservatives see war everywhere. If they're not declaring it, they’re pretty sure somebody else is declaring it against them. They see enemies everywhere. Everybody is out to get them. They talk in pseudo military terms. They talk about strategy. They talk about tactics. They don’t make love, they invade. Hell, that’s why so many of them carry guns and drive Hummers – they’re at war and we’ll see you liberal bastards in hell!

Yeah, see, when you start thinking like that, it’s called paranoia and it means you’re nuts.

The bill, which passed the House despite unanimous conservative opposition, prohibits federal infrastructure funds from being used for the "modernization, renovation, or repair" of facilities that allow "sectarian instruction, religious worship or a school or department of divinity."

Read that carefully – because that’s the part that has got religious conservative panties all bunched up and chaffing.

“Critics say that could include public schools that permit religious groups to meet on campus. The House provided $20 billion for the infrastructure improvements, of which $6 billion would go to higher education facilities where the limitations would be applied.”

"What the government is doing is discriminating against religious viewpoints," said Matthew Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, a Washington-based nonprofit organization that works to advance religious freedom.

Discriminating against religious viewpoints? Um, no, Matt, you’re wrong. You’re utterly wrong. Either you’re deluded, or you’re spouting deliberately false hyperbole, or you’re just plain crazy. Frankly, my vote is on the later.

First the Bill, H.R. 1, is 647 pages of Congressional goobly gook – which was only released last night after the House passed it. Conservatives with bunched up thongs, like our buddy Matt from Liberty Council, ran a quick search of the document for anything having to do with religion. They found that provision above in Section 9302(d)(3) and specifically subsection (C), Prohibited Use of Funds, they yelled Ah HA! at the top of their lungs and they declared it the WMD of stimulus plans.

Then they declared war!

But before conservatives decide to plunge headlong into yet another conflict, without, oh, actually verifying the actual facts, allow me a few cautionary words of sanity:

Seems FOX News and the religious conservatives left something out. Now I’m sure that wasn’t on purpose, the GOP and their ultra-religious conservative base have no record of quoting things out of context or just plain inventing hysteria or completely fabricating bogymen whole cloth solely in order to spin people up. [cough, Obama isn’t American, cough, Obama is a Muslim cough cough. Cough. I’ve read about him and he’s an Arab! cough. Sorry something in my throat here. Anyway]. Let’s take a look at what the bill actually says:

Section 9302: Prohibited Uses of funds. – No funds awarded under this section may be used for:

(A) the maintenance of systems, equipment, or facilities, including maintenance associated with any permissible uses of funds described in paragraph (1);

(B) modernization, renovation, or repair of stadiums or other facilities primarily used for athletic contests or exhibitions or other such events where admission is charged to the general public;

(C) modernization, renovation or repair of facilities -

(i) used for sectarian instruction, religious worship, or a school or department of divinity; or

(ii) in which a substantial portion of the functions of the facilities are subsumed in a religious mission; or

(D) Construction of new facilities.

Full Text Here – all 647 pages in PDF format. Section 9302 starts on page 225.

Funny how when you read the section that FOX News quoted, in context, it completely and totally refutes the Conservative’s complaint, doesn’t it? It completely and totally belies the FOX headline, Obama declares war on prayer, and it utterly makes a mockery of the FOX news article – oddly enough, FOX failed to link to the actual text of the bill itself. I wonder why that is?

War on prayer, my hairy white ass.

“Prayer” is mentioned exactly nowhere in the bill. Period. What the bill actually says it that institutions of higher learning that receive government funds may not use those funds to renovate, improve, or construct sports or religious facilities. You can use the funds to fix up a classroom where students meet to pray a couple of times a week (providing that the primary use of the room is for secular education), but you can’t use the funds to build a campus chapel or a room specifically devoted to religious practice. Schools that are primarily orientated around divinity, i.e. RELIGIOUS COLLEGES, may not use federal funds to teach religion – they are NOT prohibited from receiving funds for general education however, providing that those specific facilities are not “subsumed” in a religious mission. Facilities, not institutions. Facilities. Religious Institutions of higher learning could still get government funds for facilities on their campus that are primarily devoted to non-religious instruction, say economics, or chemistry, or art.

Religious facilities, and Colleges of Divinity and religious organizations will have to depend on donations and private funding – just as they have right from the very beginning of Constitutional Rule in this country.

When Christians conservatives talk about religious freedom and the 1st Amendment, what they really mean is that they want the freedom to replace the United States of America with an ultra conservative evangelical Christian theocracy. When they’re not allowed to do that, they start in immediately with the whole persecution bit, they’d have you believe that because they can’t get a big ol’ chunk of greasy pork to build a cathedral complete with flying buttresses and stained glass windows on the Quad of every campus in America that Christian babies are being thrown to the lions and burned at the stake.

Conservatives have vowed to fight the stimulus plan in court – not over the stimulus part, but solely on the grounds that it infringes on their religious freedom if prayer isn’t subsidized by taxpayer monies.

The good news is that these complaints are very, very unlikely to gain traction.

Let me wrap this up by asking conservatives a couple of questions:

First: I’m curious, when you speak of religious discrimination, do you include Muslim prayers as well? Or is it just Christians who should receive funds? Has the republican party become the champion of all faiths, or is it just the Jesus ones? Should campuses be allowed to use stimulus funds to build mosques and set aside rooms full of prayer rugs? Jewish temples? Native American sweat lodges and hogans? What about religions that cater primarily to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people? OK if we use federal funds to set aside places for those folks to worship? When you claim that Obama is trampling 1st amendment rights, are you including Wiccans who so far have been refused the right to build fire circles in a campus field so that they may dance the naked druid dance under the summer solstice and raise up spells to Gaia? When you say religious freedom, is that for everybody, or just Christians?

And Second: Since when do you need federal funds in order to pray to the Christian God? Hey, I’m just asking here. Are you saying that Christianity is doomed without federal funding? Times are so hard that God needs a bailout? No Christian existed on state and federally funded colleges before George W. Bush started in with his faith based shenanegans? Does God charge for prayers? Is it like cell phone minutes? Once you’ve used up your monthly allotment of prayer time, does God pro-rate? Seriously, how does it work?

Don’t bother to answer, Conservatives, I’m pretty sure I know what Matt Staver of the Liberty Counsel means by “religious freedom.”


  1. Oh noes, it's the War Against Xmas write large. What's we alls gonna do?!

    Well, it should be good for some fund raisers, you know, of the people that thought GW was GHW and gave back in early 2000.

  2. Wait. I thought that we thought that the Taliban running Afghanistan and the Ayatollahs running Iran was a bad thing? That the U.S. was all about protecting religions from the government?

    Oh well. I guess they really want the terrorists to win.

    Dr. Phil

  3. OK, you're still in bed and I'm trying to have a cup of coffee...

    Not sure which is the scarier image this early...Rush Limbaugh spawning with Anne Coulter or the descriptive reference to your own arse.

    However, I'm thinking first - consider the source. It's FOX. The fiction writers I know have more facts in their stories.

    And I'm thinking the conservatives are still in a snit because they lost the election. So GROW UP PEOPLE. Give the new folks a chance to get their feet on the ground, study the humongous pile of pooh you left us to clean up and figure out how to best to get on with the bid'ness of running the country.

    The fact that you can no longer have your way is still burning your brain. GET OVER IT!! Yes, I suspect from time to time there will be pork level retaliation. We've done without for so long. BUT - Get yer facts straight, oh, and PLEASE learn to read for content, not sensationalism.

    "Does God charge for prayers? Is it like cell phone minutes? Once you’ve used up your monthly allotment of prayer time, does God pro-rate? Seriously, how does it work?" - I'd like to find out if God has roll-over minutes, cause I think I'd be owed some prayer time, ya know what I mean?

    ah, well, time to get to work here in the frozen Southland.


  4. Are you saying that Christianity is doomed without federal funding?

    But... but... if God isn't recognized on our money and in mandatory daily school prayers and stuff, people might start thinking for themselves and choose a non-Christian faith like Islam or Wicca or Catholicism--or maybe even atheism. And then the commu--I mean, the terrorists win.

    So, short answer: yes, actually.

    Secretly they do believe that, Jim; it's just that they wouldn't put it quite that way themselves and will violently deny it if it is framed that way. But deep down in their heart of hearts they believe--and ironically, their belief is correct--that if their specific religious beliefs aren't forced down people's throats, people will wander off to other traditional (but less literal) Christian sects or become vaguely-Christian deists or join less-traditional and more-ecumenical churches, or will turn to Hinduism or Buddhism or Islam, or will become New-Agers or Wiccans or pantheists, or will become atheists and agnostics.

    All of which is what people have tended to really do, y'know? So of course they're scared. Without life support, their way of life will eventually evaporate into a secular society in which those who are religious have their own thing and those who aren't don't have much to complain about.

  5. Dear Sister:

    Just thought I'd point out that "poo" is the common polite spelling for "shit". "Pooh" is a small stuffed bear of very little brain.

    Huh. Maybe your comment was more insightful than I realized. Carry on -- nothing to see here...

    Dr. Phil

  6. I think the stimulus bill should include money for mandatory sterilization of stupid people.

    Sadly, that's only half sarcasm, because this kind of stupidity is pushing me into rant territory, something I usually leave to you and Eric.

  7. A point of clarification:

    I rant.

    Eric writes scholarly analysis.

    The defining criteria is how frequently the word "fuck" or its derivations appear in the text. Just sayin'

    Carry on.

  8. "So GROW UP PEOPLE. Give the new folks a chance to get their feet on the ground, study the humongous pile of pooh you left us to clean up and figure out how to best to get on with the bid'ness of running the country."

    Hah! I watched a few minutes of O'Reiley last night (he is on ALL 6 of the Tv's at the gym) - it was very instructive. 5 minutes of poor Blagovitch, who JUST LIKE THE STEELERS has ups and downs in his career and JUST LIKE THE STEELERS is a product of a tough steel town and JUST LIKE THE STEELERS will overcome his obstacles.. and by the way, lets get back to how Obama is screwing the country.. "polls" show that Obamas approval rating is slipping and its no wonder...

    sigh, day 1 the screamers were already trying to undermine, they will never let up, never give up and never stop looking.

  9. Dear brother:
    Misspelling was not intended, but is certainly applicable. However, as a disclaimer, it was not meant to insult AA Milne or his charaters in any way.


  10. What the hell is up with all this sibling politeness?! Why hasn't the term "doody-head" flown yet? What is WRONG with you people?

  11. What Michelle said.

    I'm starting to suspect that Wendy and Phil really aren't related at all.

  12. Hey now, the porn topic was over on Scalzi's blog yesterday. You want to talk about ass, you do it over there.

  13. What is it Miss Manners say...Gentle Readers:

    Ah, but truly, we are related... and having been raised by parents who teached us good manners, we keep the hitting, spitting, kicking, screaming and biting out of the public eye. Neither of us has ever been much for cussin' at each other, more likely at third-party stoopids that really deserve it. However, noogie infliction has been known to occur in airports from time to time. (brother-consider yerself nooged a good one)

    The occasional public correction in the blogoshpere is perfectly acceptable. ESPECIALLY when it's absolutely dripping with scarcasm.

    Now, let me get back to finding out if my prayer time has roll-over minutes.


    PS: Jim- you WERE the one that mentioned your own arse first.

  14. I wasn't talking about Scalzi's ass.

  15. I'm not sure I understand the question.

    When I said "My hairy white ass", I meant that I own a small albino donkey. I didn't know you all were interested in livestock.


  16. Sad as it is to say, I have to concede that my errant sister is correct -- we wuz raised real good by our mudder. I believe Mother's operation phrase was, "Little birdies in the nest must agree." That, and I was the good child who never got into trouble. My sister has, eventually, growed up into a reasonable approximation of a human being, which (a) is more than I can say about the mouth-breathers talked about in the original post and (b) is sufficient for me.

    As for "doody-head", I have to say I was really impressed by Tom Hanks when he was on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me on NPR -- and the approved term in his family was "drooly-head".

    Dr. Phil

    PS- of course we've had our revenge -- no grandchildren for Mother!

  17. Dr Phil,

    Tom Hanks is *precisely* what I was thinking of when I was writing that. I just mis-remembered it as doody-head.

  18. Well, I do know some people who use doody-head, but I think drooly-head is much more appropriate, i.e. gross, and it really cracked up Paula Poundstone at the time.

    Dr. Phil

  19. Friday night Rachel Maddow on MSNBC reported that this terrible anti-Christian language has been in education funding bills for 46 years. That means it was okay when Bush education bills were passed.

    Also, no Fed funds for stadium renovations. What will the South DO? No church, no football!

    Dr. Phil


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