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Archive for the ‘republicans’ Category

In case you missed it, check out this clip of Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern’s tirade against gays.

Kern has refused to apologize and maintains that she is not a gay-basher. She reportedly received a standing ovation from fellow Oklahoma Republican lawmakers in a closed meeting on Monday for her remarks.

Another notable contribution of Rep. Kern was her sponsorship of HB 2200, which would prohibit public schools from penalizing students whose religious beliefs are in conflict with scientific theory. An identical bill, HB 2211, passed the OK House Education Committee last week. Jamelle has more at US of Jamerica.

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Marriage in Iowa

An attempt by Iowa republicans to push through a state constitutional amendment to keep gays from marrying has failed. The state supreme court is still considering the case after a Polk County judge found the decade old ban on marriage equality violated the state constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses last August.

Could it actually be that Republicans won’t be able to gay-bait their way to office this election? We’ll have to wait and see–a recent poll shows Iowans are split on the issue. 62% oppose marriage equality, but a majority favor civil unions. Iowans are about evenly split over a constitutional amendment, with 48% in favor and 47% against.

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One More

Anti-gay Republican, outed by a gay sex scandal.

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Andrew Sullivan thinks Giuliani is out of his mind for recent statements made regarding Clinton and Obama. Sullivan wonders, “If he is starting with this kind of unhinged claim, where will he end up?” Probably a legit concern. Or Guiliani could just be reverting to the general Republican campaign tactic of criticizing their (not yet) Democratic opponents.

Then again, Giuliani’s foreign policy adviser, Norman Podhoretz, has been advocating military action as the only US policy option in Iran, citing the dangers of ‘Islamofacism’, and comparing Ahmadinejad to Hitler. Fareed Zakaria interjects a bit of realism into the discussion pointing out Podhoretz’ alarmism . He calls for Cold War style deterrence against Iran’s nuclear program. Excerpt:

Here is the reality. Iran has an economy the size of Finland’s and an annual defense budget of around $4.8 billion. It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively allied against Iran. And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on?…

In a speech last week, Rudy Giuliani said that while the Soviet Union and China could be deterred during the cold war, Iran can’t be. The Soviet and Chinese regimes had a “residual rationality,” he explained. Hmm. Stalin and Mao—who casually ordered the deaths of millions of their own people, fomented insurgencies and revolutions, and starved whole regions that opposed them—were rational folk. But not Ahmadinejad, who has done what that compares? One of the bizarre twists of the current Iran hysteria is that conservatives have become surprisingly charitable about two of history’s greatest mass murderers.

I prefer Zakaria’s approach. And while I generally prefer Rudy as a candidate over most others, I find his foreign policy thinking a bit disconcerting.

More: Audio and transcript from last night’s debate on News Hour.

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A good piece in NYT today. Money quote:

Backing a loser, they know, would even further diminish their waning Washington status in a post-Rove, post-Bush G.O.P. The more they shed their illusion of power, the more they imperil their ability to rake in big bucks from their apocalyptic direct-mail campaigns. They must choose mammon over God if they are to maintain the many values rackets that make up their various business empires

Whichever candidate or party lands in the White House, this much is certain: Inauguration Day 2009 is at the very least Armageddon for the reigning ayatollahs of the American right.

 More in the NY Times Magazine, and a rebuttal from David Kuo.

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Jamelle gives a nice roundup commentary of Mr. Guiliani’s recent statements on gay marriage.

To add to that, one important distinction Mr. Giuliani misses is that in many regards, it is state legislatures, not ‘judicial fiat’, which are beginning to side in favor of equal partnership laws. The state legislatures of Connecticut, New York, California, New Hampshire, Oregon, Washington, Maine, and Hawaii all adopted, or are currently attempting to adopt,  legislation granting legal equality (usually short of marriage…) to gay couples.

The fact that legal equality for gays in these states is coming about through legislative change seems to further confound Giuliani’s position that a Federal Marriage Amendment would only be necessary if too many states recognize marriage equality.  What ever happened to federalism? Of course, there is the very real possibility that Giuliani recognizes this and that he was being disingenuous at the Values Voter Summit.  Based on his past record of tepid support for gay rights, I doubt he would ever truly consider supporting a Federal Marriage Amendment, as he suggested he might.

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For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. –John Winthrop, A Model of Christian Charity, 1630

 

In applying their religious beliefs based on the literal reading of the Bible, evangelicals have constructed a millennial and apocalyptic worldview. The English Puritans who settled in Massachusetts in the seventeenth century established this millennial tradition. The Puritans, whose name derives from their desire to ‘purify’ their Christian faith down to the fundamentals of biblical teachings, believed that they were chosen by God to establish a “new Israel” in the New World. The new government they were to form there would be, in the words of John Winthrop, “a city upon a hill,” to be watched by the world as an exemplar of moral purity.

This set the foundation for American exceptionalism, the belief that the United States maintains a special place in the world, offering hope to the rest of humanity. Derived from what they view as divinely inspired exceptionalism, American evangelicals take for granted that the United States is always on the side of the good. They believe it is their God-given mission to promote that good in the world, and to fight evil. This can lead to a failure to look critically upon US foreign policy and its consequences.

This absolute dichotomy between good and evil is the basis of evangelicals’ apocalyptic mentality, and finds it source in the literal reading of the Book of Revelation. Revelation prophesizes the end of the world, where the forces of God battle those of Satan, culminating in catastrophic destruction on Earth, the victory of God, the Second Coming of Christ and his 1000 year reign of peace. Due to this apocalyptic mentality, American evangelicals tend to view conflict with extreme urgency, believing in resolution through cataclysmic transformation rather than gradual change. While this evangelical mentality can inspire dedication to a cause, that dedication maybe misguided. In viewing the world in strict terms of good vs. evil, one may overlook the complexity and nuance of world affairs as well as any empirical reality that may contradict that faith.

Though by no means exclusively to blame for the current troubles in Iraq, we can see some of these elements of an evangelical world view at work in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks and in the execution of the Iraq War. President Bush, himself a devout born-again Christian, drew roughly 40 percent of his 2004 votes from evangelicals. He believes that he was personally called by God to fight against evil saying, “God told me to strike al-Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did.”[1] He has promised to “export death and violence to the four corners of the earth in defense of this great country and rid the world of evil.[2] This certainty in mission, derived from the millennial aspects of his evangelical worldview, has plagued the Administration, as it has continuously called on Americans to “stay the course” in Iraq, in spite of the empirical reality of chaos and unrest.

We see again examples of millennialism in the Bush administration’s preference for unilateral force. In the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks, the administration released its National Security Strategy:

While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self defense by acting preemptively…Today humanity holds in its hands the opportunity to further freedom’s triumph over all these foes. The United States welcomes our responsibility to lead in this great mission. But our responsibility is clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil.[3]

This passage indicates the administration’s intent to use unilateral and preemptive force in its mission to destroy evil. Unilateralism relates to the evangelical millennial worldview in that American evangelicals view the United States as a nation chosen by God to lead the forces of good in the world. Certain in the veracity of their moral convictions, evangelicals with this millennial worldview believe that America has the unique obligation to fight evil in the world, even when they are alone in this endeavor. Unilateral action, to the individual with an evangelical worldview, does not indicate a lack the illegitimacy of a cause. Rather, it indicates a lack of morality on the part of non-supporters, only strengthening the millennialist conviction in American exceptionalism.

Additionally this evangelical preference for unilateral action is further connected to the literal reading of the Book of Revelation. The Book of Revelation states that the Antichrist will appear before the Second Coming of the True Christ. The Antichrist will come with false promises of peace and prosperity to be achieved through the creation of a one world government before the True Christ returns to battle the Antichrist in Armageddon. Evangelicals look suspiciously upon the world governing body, the United Nations, as they believe it fulfills the Revelations prophesy of the creation of a one world government. The enormous success of Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’s Left Behind series, a fictional account of a modern day apocalypse, indicates how widespread this belief is within the evangelical community. The Antichrist villain of the novels is represented by a fictional UN Secretary General. Sales of this series have topped 50 million.[4]

In line with the apocalyptic mentality, administration members continuously called Saddam Hussein evil in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. While this was done in part to stir popular support, President Bush’s assessment of Saddam went beyond his real capabilities. The administration’s demonization of Saddam probably contributed to the unwavering belief that he was developing nuclear weapons and sought to use them on the United States, in spite of the empirical evidence to the contrary.[5] President Bush’s evangelical worldview also came to light in his exceedingly ambitious belief that he could unilaterally invade a foreign country, depose of its government, and install a democracy that would set off a chain reaction across the entire Middle East. He was blinded by what he saw as his God-given mission into ignoring the real constraints of such an expedition.

 


[1] John B. Judis, “The Chosen Nation: The Influence of Religion on US Foreign Policy,” The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 2005. [2] Ibid.[3] The National Security Council, “National Strategy of the United States,” 2002. <http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nss.html&gt;[4] Duane Oldfield, “The Evangelical Roots of American Unilateralism: The Christian Right’s Influence and How to Counter It,” Foreign Policy in Focus, August 31, 2003

[5] John B. Judis, “The Chosen Nation: The Influence of Religion on US Foreign Policy,” The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 2005.

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