What do you expect from the state that gave us the Scopes "Monkey" Trial? I guess the people of Tennessee aren't done making fools of themselves yet. Read full story here.
Republican Presidential hopeful, Mike Huckabee, continued to demonstrate why we need more history education in this country, in his interview Wednesday night with Jon Stewart.
Minnesota Representative, Michelle Bachmann, still holds the lead with respect to Republican ignorance of American History, with her comment that the Founding Fathers ended slavery.
But Huckabee is a close second. He started off the interview by reiterating his support for theologian, David Barton, a right-wing lunatic known for peddling his belief that separation of church and state is a myth to simpletons and the occasional white supremacist organization.
David is, I think, very much a historian, and I love his stuff, because he documents everything with source material, and he’s very specific about dates and times and he has a lot of original documents — Federalist Papers, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence...
Notice that Huckabee incorrectly calls Barton a historian, but I'll let that pass, since it's normal for Christians to confuse theology with history. But, I will point out that Barton has zero history credentials. In fact, he barely even has academic credentials, since his degree is actually in religious eduction from Oral Roberts University.
What Huckabee likes about Barton is that Barton challenges the belief that the Founding Fathers intended to separate church and state.
There’s a perception among many that this is a completely secular nation and that the Judeo-Christian worldview was not a very significant part of our creation. I think it was, and that’s what I believe he’s trying to do...Separation of Church and State was a phrase that didn’t appear until a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote in  1804, and it was written to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut.
This is an argument frequently used by Republicans. The logic seems to be that since the phrase wasn't used until after the constitution, then the constitution couldn't possibly have meant to separate the two.
This is a preposterous and nonsensical argument. Jefferson used the phrase to easily sum up what Madison established with the First Amendment. Actually, we know that Madison, who authored the First Amendment, wanted to go much further than what the amendment actually states. Madison wanted to disestablish religion at both the federal and state level - the amendment only separates the two at the federal level. The 14th amendment later did it at the state level.
Huckabee, not really understanding the constitution, tried to change the subject, and turned to an earlier document for support.
Well, listen: take the Declaration of Independence, which was the establishment of our nation as an independent country.
Oops, he got the wrong also. The Declaration of Independence did not establish our country, the constitution did.
When it says, 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,' if you read the early state constitutions, the states — and originally our government was supposed to be a rather weak, limited, and local form of government, with not a whole lot of power at the federal level.
Incorrect again. Yes, the states were suppose to have more power and the federal government less power, but that was not "our government," it was the Confederation. Huckabee conveniently forgot that we corrected that mistake with the constitution, which created a completely different government - the United States of America.
But in the state constitutions, there are some surprising things regarding the establishment of the government, to make sure that there was a Christian — or a Judeo-Christian — there were often these very explicit languages in the constitutions of states in New England that would probably not recognize those constitutions today.
Yes there are some very surprising things in those state governments. Things like no Jews, Catholics, or Atheists. Is that what Huckabee wants to return to? Which of those groups would he like to eliminate? I'm sorry, "eliminate" is too harsh. I meant, which of those groups would he like to reduce to second class citizenship? I know how PC Republicans like to be.
Thankfully, the 14th Amendment prohibits that today. How inconvenient that must be to Republicans - although it was Republicans who passed it following the Civil War.
Huckabee continued with an extended rant:
Now, what we’ve done over the past 240 years is, we have moved more and more power to the federal government. Let me be fair: this isn’t a Democrat / Republican thing, because Republicans have been just as adamant about moving that power more and more toward the federal government and away from cities and states. The danger is that, the closer you are to the people being governed, the more likely you are to get it right, because when you govern more locally, and in a more limited way
Madison disagrees with constitutional scholar Huckabee. Madison and the Founding Fathers were actually highly suspicious of democracy, precisely because the people would trample on the rights of minorities. It's why Hamilton saw democracy as "mob rule." And it's why Madison wanted the federal government to be able to veto laws passed by the states.
Jon Stewart rightfully called Huckabee out for his support of Barton. Stuart challenged:
But you’re gonna run for President and you call him a historian who you think should teach our children in public school. Now, that is the intersection of state and religion that makes some people — non-evangelical Christians — uncomfortable.
Huckabee responded with more gibberish that was edited out of the broadcast:
Some of us, Jon, are uncomfortable with the idea that we have history books today in which there is more material about, let’s say, Madonna, than there is about George Washington. That’s the thing.
Wow, I'd like to see that book. It's a common Republican tactic. When confronted with logic and reason that you can't respond to, make shit up.
I have no problem with people being ignorant about history. People have lives. They don't have time to read all the scholarship that's been produced on the subject. But at the same time, people who don't have the time to be smart, shouldn't pretend they know something, shouldn't run for president, and certainly shouldn't cite pseudo-historians, who preach to white supremest groups and Nazis.
Copyright © By Jay Jordan Hawke, April 7, 2011.
Jay Jordan Hawke is author of "A Scout is Brave," a novel about anti-gay bullying.
Between Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin, the list of Republican hopefuls for the 2012 election is quite scary. Thankfully, Donald Trump has come to the rescue, just in time to restore some sanity to it. Unfortunately, sanity was nowhere to be found in his recent interview with Fox News host, Bill O'Reilly. O'Reilly quickly got Trump discussing what he'd do about Iraq if he were president. Trump said:
In the old days when you had wars, you win, right? You win. To the victor belonged the spoils. So when we go to Iraq, we spend $1.4 trillion so far and thousands of lives are lost, right? And not to mention all the poor guys and gals with one arm and no arm and all the facts, right?
The Republicans finally found someone who makes Bachmann and Palin look sane. Evidently Trump never got the memo that we were engaged in a humanitarian venture in Iraq. It was not, in fact, a war of conquest, and therefore, there were no spoils.
Remember all those human rights violations that Republican leaders kept mentioning during the lead up to the war? Remember how the evil Saddam Hussein gassed his own people? Granted that was before they settled on the huge threat Iraq was to the US, with all their weapons of mass destruction and mushroom clouds and shit.
But now Trump explains that this whole thing was a war of conquest. Good old-fashioned, old school, imperialism. Did someone forget to tell Donald Trump about the Declaration of Independence? That's our inconvenient founding document that justified our Revolution against England. It had some stupid crap in it about how all humans have "inalienable rights." Notice that "alien" appears in there. And it was penned by Thomas Jefferson, founder of the Democratic Party! He was obviously some kind of immigrant sympathizer. Thankfully, Trump doesn't buy into that bleeding heart Democratic propaganda.
After rewriting the history of our conquest of Iraq, Trump had a melt-down right in front of Bill O'Reilly. It is indeed scary when someone looks insane relative to Bill O'Reilly. Trump opined:
You've got to stay and keep the oil....We shouldn't be out of there. What we should do is take over….You stay and protect the oil and you take the oil and you take whatever is necessary for them and you take what's necessary for us and we pay our self back $1.5 trillion or more. We take care of Britain, we take care of other countries that helped us and we don't be so stupid. You know, we're the only country and if you look at wars over the years and I study wars, OK? My whole life is a war. You look at wars over the years. A country goes in, they conquer and they stay. We go in, we conquer and then we leave. And we hand it to people that we don't even know.
That, of course, was only a small taste of what Trump wants to do as President, according to the interview. He also stated that he would threaten China and OPEC, prior to taking over Iraq.
And of course he's been all over the media lately with his charge that President Obama is not a true American. Does anyone else appreciate the irony? In the spirit of Bill Maher, I have a new rule.
New Rule: To Donald Trump and all of the other "birthers" out there - if you don't actually believe in the principles that America was founded on, you can't accuse others of not being an American. I don't care if Obama is a Kenyan, Indonesian, communist, with Hawaiian sympathies, so far he's demonstrated that he's more qualified to be president of the United States that anyone the Republican Party has yet to offer.
Copyright © By Jay Jordan Hawke, April 3, 2011.
Last week was a victory, a big victory, for hate in this country. The Supreme Court of the United States has stooped to an all time low. In "Snyder v Phelps," they ruled in favor of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Cult. The vote was 8 to 1.
Straight people generally don't know much of what the Westboro Demon Cult is all about, but most gay people do. The Satanic leader of the Christian cult is Fred Phelps, who is infamous in the gay community for maintaining the website, "God hates fags."
Phelps is also notorious for promoting his hatred by gathering up his minions and picketing the funerals of gay kids. His most high profile protest was in response to the brutal murder of gay teen, Matthew Shepard. Phelps and his ilk carried signs outside Shepard's funeral proclaiming that Matthew Shepard was now burning in hell.
Of course, that's not what got Fred Phelps in trouble with the courts, as the courts didn't really care about that.
What got Phelps in trouble with the courts is that he started going after straight soldiers. In March 2006, a 20-year-old Marine, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, was killed in a motor-vehicle accident in Iraq. Phelps thought it would be funny to show up at Snyder's funeral with signs like:
"God Hates the USA," "Thank God for 9/11," "America is Doomed," "God Hates Fags," and "Fags Doom Nations."
Snyder, the dead soldier whose funeral was picketed, was not gay, so far as we know, but Phelps thinks American soldiers are being killed because America supports homosexuality. So, in his own twisted mind, he is protecting American soldiers. He is trying to convince America that it needs to be more Nazis-like, and then God will stop killing American soldiers.
Well, this message didn't sit well with Snyder's father, Albert Snyder, who just wanted to bury his son in peace. So he sued the Phelps' cult. A federal appeals court in Richmond, Va. ruled that not only does Snyder's father NOT have the right to bury his son in peace, but he must pay the cult leader, Fred Phelps, $16,500 in legal fees. Of the countless things that should make you ashamed to be an American, this should be at the top of your list.
But alas, thankfully we have the Supreme Court. In the grand history of the Supreme Court, we have justices willing to imprison people for protesting war, but picketing dead soldiers to send the message that homosexuality is an abomination? Free speech must be protected!
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the following for the majority:
"Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and -- as it did here -- inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker. As a Nation we have chosen a different course -- to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate. That choice requires that we shield Westboro from tort liability for its picketing in this case."
I personally think the Supreme Court needs to come up with a much better definition of what constitutes free speech. There is no reason why bigots have to flaunt their bigotry at some kid's funeral. That's why god invented the internet after all. Picketing funerals is nothing more than harassment and abuse. It should not be tolerated in a society that believes in love, compassion, fairness, and justice.
Oddly enough, this means I mostly agree with conservatives on this one. Liberals can't be bothered right now to denounce this case. They are busy giving money to the health insurance industry. But conservative Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his sole dissenting decision.
"In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated, it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims."
As the Supreme Court ruled in the 1942 case, "Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire:"
There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or "fighting" words those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.
Evidently, since it's now gay people who have primarily been insulted and profaned, the Court has had a change of opinion.
They instead are defending this statement from Fred Phelps:
God promised dire outpourings of very painful wrath, and there’s nothing more painful than killing one of your children and that’s what’s going on in Iraq. That’s what we’re preaching and the forum of choice to deliver such a message, obviously, is the funeral of the kid that’s been blown to smithereens.
"America is doomed," one of Phelps' signs reads. In light of this Supreme Court decision, I think I actually agree with Fred Phelps on something.
Copyright © By Jay Jordan Hawke, March 6, 2011.
The Right Wing spin machine has been out in full force this week with the surprising announcement from the White House that they would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act. Fox News contributor Monica Crowley referred to Barack Obama's decision as "A form of dictatorship." She said:
"It's beyond belief. We are a nation of laws, not of men. We are governed by the rule of law. And what the Constitution says is that the president of the United States doesn't get to decide which laws he likes and which ones he's gonna enforce.... that is a form of dictatorship. That is Mubarak Obama."
Crowley went on to say that if W. Bush had done something similar, the left would be calling for his impeachment. [Note that Monica changed what Obama said from "defend" to "enforce."]
And the leader of the Republican Party, and part-time legal scholar, Rush Limbaugh couldn't resist a similar critique. He said:
"Determining the constitutionality of a statue is not the job of the president, it's not the job of the attorney general. They can't do, legally, what they're doing here...These are the new left outlaws."
And the other leader of the Republican Party, Glen Beck had this to say:
"This guy thinks he can literally do anything he wants whether he has a legal way to accomplish it or not, and it is frightening."
And Fox News entertainer, Sean Hannity, agreed with Crowley:
"And I'm thinking, it's almost like, they don't -- do they not care about the rule of law? Do they not care about precedents?
And the entire right wing blogosphere is erupting.
There is only one problem. Obama isn't doing anything new. It's long-standing tradition for a president to decide not to defend an obviously unconstitutional law. In fact, one of our Founding Fathers did it as president. President Jefferson ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the Sedition Acts. In fact, as Vice-President, he had authored a state law, which nullified it completely.
And we don't even have to go back that far to find "dictators" in the White House. George W. Bush, in fact, ordered the Justice Department not to defend a law that withheld federal money from transit systems that had ads advocating the non-enforcement of drug laws.
Clinton and Papa Bush are also on the list of Presidents who refused to defend unconstitutional laws.
So, when is Fox News going to start calling George W. Bush "Mubarak Bush?"
Don't hold your breath. Republicans have long ago won the hypocrisy award, and they don't plan on giving it up anytime soon.
Jay Jordan Hawke is the host of On the Edge and author of the awarding winning Two-Spirit Chronicles, which includes: Pukawiss the Outcast, A Scout is Brave, and Onwaachige the Dreamer.