To be honest, I feel a little sorry for Sarah Palin. She was just minding her own business, being the slightly corrupt and occasionally lying govenor of an unimportant state, and to be honest the fact that she abused that position is not massively important to me. Such things happen, and I genuinely think her various transgressions are the result of incompetence, not malice.
Here is what I think happened: Sarah Palin is a victim of circumstance. Her meteoric rise to infamy is the fault of the people of Alaska and the Republican party rather than her own. Palin’s problem is that she has no internal barometer of her own ability to do any given job. When she saw an ad saying ‘mayor needed, job may involve constructing coherent sentences’ she (wrongly) assumed she could do it. When the gubernatorial elections rolled around she assumed she could do that too. Whether she asked to be considered for vice-president or whether someone approached her, I don’t think it ever occured to her that she might actually not be smart enough to run the entire country. And there will always be people like her, as evidenced by the paper Unskilled and unaware of it: how difficulties in recognising one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessmentsÂ (link is to PDF, title will worry the self-employed). That’s why we have systems of exams and qualifications and job interviews — and indeed elections — in place to prevent the incompetent from being given important jobs they are likely to mess up. It doesn’t always work, but it’s usually effective. Think of all the cretins you’ve ever met. Was any of them a doctor or a teacher or an MP? Probably relatively few of them were.
But because now other peopleÂ have put the idea into Palin’s head that she might actually be qualified to be President, it’s going to be very difficult to convince her otherwise which is, presumably, why she launched SarahPAC. A PAC is, I’m told, an organisation that collects money and turns it into political capital, and is often a precursor to a Presidential campaign. Exactly what else hers might be for is unclear, but given the timing, the five-page or so website, SarahPAC.com, is generally assumed to indicate that she’s planning a campaign for 2012.
I dont’t think we can make Sarah Palin go away, but I think we can ensure her campaign fails. I don’t think we can stop the far-right lunatic fringes of the Republican party from supporting her, but I think we can stop anyone else making that mistake. I don’t think contempt is appropriate, but I don’t think that pity is going to stop her. I propose that ridicule is the answer. People have to see how completely absurd it is that someone so utterly uselessÂ could become President.
From time to time I submit stuff to Newsbiscuit. More occasionally they use it. Their submission board is pretty awkward to work, though, so I thought I’d post my favourites on this blog also, where I can keep an eye on them. First, the ones they used:
Next, some of the ones they didn’t. I’ll put most of them after the fold, since there are a lot of them. Also, some might be offensive if you’re easily offended. First, though, my favourite, from early to mid October:
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has had his kitchen refitted under laws brought in in the wake of the September 11th and July 7th terrorist attacks.
The refit was proposed in August, as part of a larger reorganisation of Number 10. Brown’s wife Sarah raised objections to the plans at an early stage, saying that the new system would make cooking difficult and that she didn’t like the colour. It seemed that the deadlock was unresolvable until September 17th, when the Prime Minister realised he could use existing anti-terror laws to push the installation through without first gaining his wife’s approval.
Critics have claimed that this is “a clear abuse” of the power handed to the PM’s office by these new rules. One backbench MP said that while he understood the need to have special new measures to deal with the new kind of threat faced today, the government had taken advantage of the fear to pass laws granting themselves more power than they had ever been elected to. Other recent applications of the anti-terror laws include freezing the assets of Iceland UK, resolving the double-booking of a conference room in Parliament, and the emergency resolution on Tuesday which mandated it was James’ turn to do the washing up.
Brown has insisted that neither he nor the government has abused the trust placed in them by Parliament, saying that there are “other kinds of terrorism” besides violent attacks on civilians, and that these might be said to include refusal to wash dishes or bad taste in kitchen units.
The House of Lords is expected to overturn the decision, but James Brown has said that as he’s already done the washing up, it’s too late to reverse the damage and a system must be put in place to prevent these situations from arising in the first place.
Twitter have, for the US election, launched a sub-site which constantly feeds you the latest tweets from or about the candidates. It’s pretty good, but by far the most entertaining thing is the horde of Republican trolls who appeared out of nowhere with absurd opinions when the McCain mob realised that every single post was pro-Obama. Here are a few from around now:
McCain’s supporters do seem to love using the word ‘acorn’. None of them ever feel the need to explain what it might mean. Don’t they know about confirmation bias? Obama supporters aren’t going to look it up if it might make Obama look bad. I have looked it up, but I don’t understand what the problem is.
mjelli01Â McCain has one powerful thing on his side – people that pray!!! Good NightÂ #
Please rely on that.
NObama4thisMamaÂ Obama sued Citicorp (a bank) on behalf of ACORN to give out loans to the underdeserving. They foreclosed which led to the downturn. FACT!Â #
It’s nice to know economics is so simple. FACT!
jdbeggÂ I am a real vet, disabled for that matter and Obama/Biden won’t do squat for this country.Â #
Essentially, you’re argument is that you understand politics because you were patriotic or stupid enough to get yourself badly injured in a war?
teddyrooseveltÂ I’M NOT ANGRY. I BELIEVE SENATOR OBAMA IS A GOOD MAN, JUST NOT QUALIFIED TO BE PRESIDENT. DOES THAT MAKE ME AN ANGRY MAN?Â #
No, the fact you shout all the time makes you an angry man. teddy is a bit of a single-issue troll: every one of his tweets is about what he calls the “THE LONG UNANSWERED QUESTION, WHAT HAS OBAMA DONE TO QUALIFY HIM FOR PRESIDENT?”. (A real smart tack when your VP pick is Sarah Palin.) It remains unanswered because he cannot read, only write. I suspect his computer has a keyboard but no screen. Similarly,
ogermeÂ Name one significant Barack Obama accomplishment, since being appointed to the U.S. Senate.Â #
I replied to this to say “He put the Federal Checkbook online — which Palin promised to do not knowing Obama already had.” Ogerme hasn’t tweeted since. This was about two weeks ago.
zettytwineÂ is an interesting case because they’ve protected their updates but have no followers and follow nobody, so nobody can read anything they write. Presumably it still appears on the election feed, though.
mylittlehadjiÂ Does Obama support Sharia laws in the US??? Think about it folksÂ #
letstalkchangeÂ McCain’s idea for withdrawing troops was to do it after winning. Obama voted to lose a war. And this is good judgment?Â #
You really think that Iraq is something you win or lose, don’t you? You’d rather ‘win’ a war than ‘lose’ it, even if winning is actually worse?
…and so on. There’s so many of them out there, and many of the dumbest have had their accounts suspended already. They’re good fun though.
Apparently, tomorrow George W Bush is going to give a big speech at the Republican convention, a pointless bit of formality that has to be done before McCain will be allowed to run for President under a Republican banner. On Tuesday, McCain will seek to downplay the association with Bush (lest any of us notice that he’s borrowed all Bush’s pulicies) by associating himself with someone else: he’s naming his running mate.
I can’t see how this could help him. Since, if elected, John McCain is definitely going to die in office, he’s basically naming his Gordon Brown. Unfortunately, he only has two options. He can pick someone nobody’s heard of, in which case he’s basically pitching an unknown quantity against a far more popular unknown quantity, or else he can pick a high profile Republican, the problem there being that they’re all mental.
It’ll be interesting to see who he picks, but there’s no way it should ever make any difference.
The other day I made fun of John McCain for referring to Czechoslovakia, a country which hasn’t existed for 15 years. After that, I read a comments thread with similar accusations about Barack Obama, and I thought “I should check these out — I’d hate to be mocking one candidate while the other does worse things”. I like to think of myself as an equal opportunities sarky bastard. (In that spirit, allow me to roundly mock commenter Reid for saying “Hussein will not be elected President” and leaving it at that, as if the very fact that Obama’s middle name is Saddam Hussein’s last name makes any difference to anything at all.)
They didn’t seem to think the Czechoslovakia thing was important, and you can make a good case for that, but their reasons are ridiculous:
“This is basic elementary school geography. I don’t care what excuses you make for them. It also illustrates their level of awareness of the world.”
Can you draw an accurate map of Africa?
How about if I draw the lines, can you put in the names?
Nobody can do that. How is that even remotely like not knowing what countries are called while discussing their politics?
Kinda depends on which week you left elementary school.
What? For the record, Obama studied law at Harvard, and McCain was 5th from bottom of his class of almost 900.
I’ll tell you, as a truck driver, the average person person can tell you the name of the next town.
One of my favorite stories–I was lost, trying to find a consignee–instructions from the dispatcher were bad, nothing matched up with the map. Called the consignee and talked to several people who, given the intersection of major (for the area) highways where I was sitting could not tell me how to get from where I was to where they were.
I finally found the place by circling town (it was just a little bitty place) in decreasing-radius circles until I spotted a likely candidate in the dark.
I have literally no idea why this story is here. Possibly it’s a failed attempt to reference the Kentucky thing (see below) but probably he started thinking about something else and just kept typing.
The Czech Republic is very important to lots of people, and given that they ought to quit changing names every few years. They have been through, what, four since I left grammar school? Larry Sheldon | 07.18.08 – 2:03 am | #
The Czech Republic has been the Czech Republic since its inception in 1993, and while the full name of Czechoslovakia changed many times before then, “Czechoslovakia” was never wrong for long, assuming that Sheldon left grammar school some time after 1918. They stopped being Czechoslovakia when the country broke in two — what the hell where they supposed to do? Both be Czechoslovakia?
Still, here goes nothing, a full round-up of all the gaffes they accused Obama of making, and a few other things they said about him. Are they worse than McCain’s total ignorance of how to work a computer? Are they worse than his apparent failure to read and understand the Constitution? Let’s have a look.
Fifty Seven States
One of their favourite Obama ‘gaffes’ is his supposed assertion that there are 57 states. The first problem I have with this is that it clearly demonstrates Republicans can’t count, because what Obama actually said was this:
I’ve now been to 57 states, [with] one left to go. Alaska and Hawaii I was not allowed to go to, even though I really wanted to go, but my staff would not justify it.
That makes sixty states, you feeble-minded buffoons. Of course, that would make it harder to draw absurd parallels with the 57 member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, except that it wouldn’t because there are only 57 states in that if you exclude the three ‘observer’ states. (I wonder if it’s ever the same people who promoted the Jeremiah Wright clips who think Obama is a Muslim.)
I’ve now been to fifty… seven states? I think one left to go. One left to go. Alaska and Hawaii I was not allowed to go to…
Pretty clearly, Obama said “fifty” instead of “forty”, because he was thinking about the number of states that there are. That’s the kind of mistake people make all the time. And afterwards he acknowledged his error, rather than repeating it as McCain did with Czechoslovakia.
No dice on the 57 states thing, I’m afraid. I’m not a hypocrite yet. I just missed a clip of a mildly amusing error.
Which States Border Illinois
Again, Obama’s knowledge of US geography is called into question. One (presumably conservative) ‘news’ website reports this as “Media Snoozes While Obama’s ‘Altered States’ Gaffes Continue”. If this is as serious an error as they’re implying then the media is clearly complicit in some kind of propaganda campaign. We can’t have a President who doesn’t know the local geography of the state that elected him to the Senate, can we? So what’s the deal?
Well, Obama said this:
Sen. Clinton, I think, is much better known [in Kentucky], coming from a nearby state of Arkansas. So it’s not surprising that she would have an advantage in some of those states in the middle.
And the not-so investigative journalists at News Busters cleverly dug out their atlas and noticed that Kentucky shares a border with Illinois. Therefore, they conclude, Illinois is zero miles from Kentucky and Obama is a fool. We need a map.
(All maps taken from Wikipedia)
Note that I had to Google search to find this — Sheldon simply assumed that we all knew about this.
They’re right, too. Illinois is closer to Kentucky than Arkansas, which by what is clearly a really significant amount. Here, for those interested, is the same map with the population densities shown. (By which I mean I looked at the population maps on Wikipedia and pasted them on top of the state map, ignoring the projection differences as hard as I could. I made this in a couple of minutes in Paint.NET, so it’s not very good.)
You can clearly see that the entire population of Illinois lives almost as far from Kentucky as they possibly can. In fact, probably further from Kentucky’s borders than the population of Arkansas live. That’s not really fair, though, as the population of Kentucky are over to the west of the state, away from Arkansas, so the population centre of Illinois is still nearer to that of Kentucky than that of Arkansas is, but I think this shows that simply going by closest borders isn’t a good plan.
Really, taken in context, Obama’s statement was about politics. I don’t know much about state-level politics, beyond the fact that everyone in Texas is insane and Louisiana is apparently doomed, and California is governed by a robot from the future, but I was able, thanks again to Wikipedia, to find out what larger ‘regions’ the states are usually divided into (Guess how long this map took me):
So is seems likely to me that Arkansas is probably much closer, politically, to Kentucky than Illinois is. Of course, Obama’s statement is still mildly silly — you obviously shouldn’t refer to distances between states when your state is zero miles away — but I can’t bring myself to consider this a “gaffe”. And nor, apparently, can anyone else much, because the media didn’t bother reporting it. “Snoozed”, if you won’t.
I’m still not a hypocrite. I am, however, heartened that the US media would ignore inconsequential things instead of sensationalising them (you know, this one time).
Obama is a Marxist
This is something a couple of Republicans have said, and I can’t even be bothered deconstructing it. Learning Marxism for the sake of a blogpost would be going far above and beyond and I’m not doing it. The actual odds that this is anything other than another Republican who can’t tell Marxism from Liberalism from Communism from Socialism are so vanishingly small that the possibility isn’t worth considering.
This accusation doesn’t make any sense without context and no context was given. I genuinely don’t know what point is being made here. I had a look on Google and that didn’t seem to help. I presume it’s a reference to Iraq, and I know Obama wants to slowly take troops out of there, and I think he’d send a few more to Afghanistan, which I think would be called “re-deployment”. I imagine the commenter here decided that that constitutes “surrender” and phrased his accusation in a way designed to make himself look as foolish as possible: you can’t conflate two concepts then accuse people of not being able to distinguish them. It’s so absurd as to be almost brilliant.
Yeah, that was pretty dumb. I’ll give you that one. And even though it was the same Larry Sheldon who said it as said all that other rubbish, I’ll even refrain from cancelling it out against his nonsense. In fairness, Obama did say it only once rather than repeatedly, and the significance of the attack on Pearl Harbor was the timing and lack of warning rather than the actual weapons used, but still, Obama messed up pretty good there.
On the other hand, this was an isolated incident, whereas what I did was to combine three McCain issues — his age, his repeated references to countries that don’t exist and his inability to work a computer — and wrap them up into one coherent package of 1992-ness. This is just pointing and laughing at a mistake. I think I’m okay with myself here.
Obama Went To Harvard
Yes. Yes, he did. Isn’t that good?
Lastly, I feel for the sake of completeness, I should lay out what I consider the better case for Saying “Czechoslovakia” Doesn’t Matter, since I defended Obama just now and if I’m being fair I should do it properly. First of all, he could be discussing the Czech Republic and Slovakia. If this is the case he should say “the former Czechoslovakia” as we do with Yugoslavia, but that’s still just a speech thing rather than a shocking ignorance thing. Secondly, he may just be in the habit of saying “Czechoslovakia” — that happens — but if that was true I’d expect him to reliably pronounce it correctly. To be honest, though, I don’t think any of that case matters, because it only dents one of the three things I flagged up as indicators that McCain may be living in 1992. In context, I think it looks pretty bad for him, and even if it doesn’t matter, he and his staff should be able to spot things that make him look dumb and change them. The fact that they can’t or don’t is at least as worrying as the mistake itself.
Obviously I don’t think that an election should be decided or fought on a Who Said The Dumbest Thing competition. But if this is the best collection of “gaffes” they have then I’m happy to keep poking fun at McCain, safe in the knowledge that I’m not indulging in too much selective reporting.
The big question about John McCain is: is he too old and out of touch to be President?
Well, he can’t use the Internet.
And he still thinks Czechoslovakia is a country.
(Nice analogy, by the way. Not in the least patronising.)
And that it’s pronounced “Czechlosovakia”.
So yes, he is. Czechoslovakia broke up on the first day of 1993, when McCain was 56 and therefore had no excuse for not being able to learn new things. The Internet was just getting widespread around the same time. Clearly, whatever year it is inside John McCain’s head, it’s no later than 1992.
Only the GOP, a political party so insane that GOP stands for “Grand Old Party”, could possibly think this idiot could make a passable world leader.
So it’s looking like Obama versus McCain. That’s probably the best result we could have hoped for (although in one respect it would have been better had Romney won the Republican nomination, because he’d have been a lot easier for the Democrats to beat in the election).
And now we have to wait for about a year for the election, because of America’s habit of making primaries more and more ridiculously early every time. Within our lifetimes, they’ll be held before the previous election.
It’s election time again in America: over the next year or so, millions of Americans will get to stay at home, secure in the knowledge that since only a handful of states actually get a meaningful vote and that getting more of said votes than the other guy doesn’t always mean you win the election, they’re not damaging the democratic process by doing so. However, if they were to vote, they’d need to decide who for, so let’s have a look at the options. 2decide.com have helpfully published a table of what the different candidates believe about different issues. (I’m largely assuming this table to be accurate. You may like to check it before deciding who you want to be your President, but I’ve not found an error myself.) This is useful because it includes many issues so thoroughly black-and-white that you would actually have to be fucking stupid to get them wrong — thus identifying the fucking stupid candidates. For example, one issue on the list is “torture“. Does the candidate support or oppose torture? Most oppose it, but the following support it: Giuliani, Hunter, Romney (our own Specifically Mormon Crackpot of the Year) and Tancredo (with Cox and ‘Fred’ silent on the issue). The same four candidates, and nobody else, also support wiretapping. Or take a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages. That’s such a ludicrous idea that only the fucking stupid candidates could support it. This idea is backed by Cox, Hunter, Romney, Tancredo (who has since withdrawn to support Romney) and Huckabee. (To be fair though, they might not be stupid; they might just be total bastards.)
Coulter is annoyed at Huckabee for supporting the Supreme Court’s decision that anti-sodomy laws are unconstitutional. The case was one where police stormed into a house after receiving a (made up) report of a “weapons disturbance” inside, found two men having sex in the bedroom, and arrested them for sodomy. The ruling was that the Fourteenth Amendment says that people’s privacy may not be invaded without due process and most bans on certain consensual sex acts did exactly that. (The Declaration of Independence says “that [all men] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Setting aside the dodgy religious implications, it’s hard to imagine how banning a sizeable fraction of the population from having sex can be justified without repealing that document and thereby submitting to British rule.) We’re going to see a lot of the Fourteenth Amendment today.
Another issue on 2decide’s table is the Kyoto Protocol. Anybody who opposes such a thing places the US economy above the long-term survival of mankind. So let’s see who’s fucking stupid enough to oppose the future of the species. Turns out, it’s Hunter, McCain (best known for singing “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” to the tune of the Beach Boys’ Barbara Anne and then laughing), Paul, Romney, Tancredo and Cox. Alas, I can’t do an aside about Cox because he has yet to express an opinion about anything, beyond vague statements that for the most part nobody could disagree with. (Last time I checked that site it was a 500-error, which is even harder to argue with.) Even 2decide’s table has nothing much on him. Instead, therefore, I shall briefly discuss Hunter.
I would amend the U.S. Constitution and provide blanket protection to all unborn children from the moment of conception by prohibiting any state or federal law that denies the personhood of the unborn. Likewise, I have also introduced the Right to Life Act, which would legally define ‘personhood’ as the moment of conception and, therefore, guarantee all constitutional rights and protections, including life, to the unborn without utilizing a constitutional amendment.
It shows impressive dedication to the cause that he would protect these rights both with and without an amendment to the constitution, although I don’t think he’s thought either through properly. Under his system, a single fertilised egg cell would be a person with the full gamut of constitutional rights. This would presumably include the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees all persons “the equal protection of the laws”. This is a problem because roughly half of all such fertilised eggs fail to survive to term, with or without constitutional protection. It seems to me that putting a Person in a situation where they have a 50% chance of death is criminal negligence at best, and therefore for every child born there’s a perfectly lovely couple who would have to be arrested for the manslaughter of some other child (although they wouldn’t call it that over there). Duncan Hunter has two sons, so it seems likely that he and his wife would be guilty of allowing at least one child to die inside his wife’s harsh, harsh uterus. Probably two. A double-murderer doesn’t seem like the kind of guy you’d want running your country (unless you’re Ann Coulter). In any case, and I say this as someone with no legal expertise beyond having seen every episode of Murder One (featuring everyone’s second-favourite bald lawyer called Ted), you can’t actually alter the meaning of words in a legally binding document retrospectively. I don’t think it works that way. That would be ridiculous.
The whole “Are Embryos People” question is summarised in two issues on the table: stem cells and “Roe V Wade”, a Supreme Court decision where the Fourteenth Amendment was used to strike down laws protecting foetuses before they become “viable” (i.e., before they can survive outside the mother: a tricky thing to define as medical technology allows this earlier and earlier, but an earnest attempt to say ‘before they’re people’ in a way that can be legally determined). Personally, I think that anything without a passably developed brain can’t feel anything or think anything and has no rights, and protecting things that have the potential to become people leads to stupid things like anti-contraception movements and bans on stem-cell research, which both cause large amounts of otherwise preventable pain, death and misery. The following candidates disagree: Cox, Huckabee, Hunter, McCain, Paul, Romney, Tancredo and “Fred”.
Another issue on the list that isn’t so black and white as torture or gay rights is Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality refers to the idea that ISPs shouldn’t be allowed to take money from websites in return for serving that website faster than the rest of the web. It’s a very American idea: they do so love to imagine that capitalism will solve all the world’s problems if we just leave it alone long enough. And ISPs obviously support this idea, because they like paid getting money for things they’re doing anyway. They say that with a neutral network, they run up large expenses delivering traffic for busy websites, but then, delivering that traffic is what their customers pay them to do, and they run at a profit, so it’s hard to imagine that we should pity them much, especially since it costs them the same amount to do 100 requests to a buys site as 1 request to 100 small ones. On the other hand, a neutral net is a very good thing for small businesses and free speech. Net Neutrality isn’t a fundamental right like sodomy or still having some polar ice in two hundred years, but it’s a force for good which I would hate to see destroyed. It is also the source of this rather insane opinion from Ted Stevens:
I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff’”
Apparently Ted Stevens’ staff work in a Mitchell and Webb sketch.
I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?
Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially.
The regulatory approach is wrong. Your approach is regulatory in the sense that it says “No one can charge anyone for massively invading this world of the internet”. No, I’m not finished. I want people to understand my position, I’m not going to take a lot of time.
They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a truck.
It’s a series of tubes.
And if you don’t understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.
Much like Hunter’s stance on abortion, this is a position that can only be held by someone who either doesn’t understand the relevant science or technology, or is just plain fucking stupid. The following candidates also oppose Net Neutrality, although perhaps for less preposterous reasons: Giuliani, Hunter, McCain, Paul and Tancredo.
Every single politician I’ve mentioned in this entry so far have two things in common. First, they are, with the possible exception of “Fred” who appears to have no position on anything much, all fucking stupid enough to get at least one major black-and-white issue dead wrong. Second, they are all Republicans. In fact, they are, between them, all of the Republican candidates for the Presidency.
Essentially, if the American education system worked at all, the election would be a hollow sham, a mere formality required by law to get the President into office, while the real decision would have been made when the Democrats made their nomination. The Republican nomination race would be an amusing diversion.
The truly terrifying part of all of this is that the Fucking Stupid Party routinely win elections. There’s a chance, a small chance but a chance, the that next president could be Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee.
…It’s easiest just not to think about it.
*Conservapedia currently lists on the front page “a rottweiler tragically killed an infant in England.  Had that been a gun, there would be liberal demands for more gun control. Yet there are no liberal calls for “rottweiler control”!”. This is wholly false: there were many calls for “rottweiler control” and we already had a Dangerous Dogs Act. It should be noted that while many articles on Conservapedia are placed there by Fucking Stupid People, others are written by sane people who have assumed the site is an elaborate parody, which shockingly it isn’t. The site’s moderators seem unable to tell the difference. To be fair to them, many people who call themselves “conservatives” hate the site too. I think it’s more the case that all crazy people are conservatives than all conservatives are crazy. But all the ones running for president are.
A few days ago, M. le Prof d’Anglaisnominated Mitt Romney (as if that’s a proper name) for January’s Religious Crackpot of the Month. I thought about this, but eventually decided that I wasn’t going to lump him in with people of other faiths, purely and simply because that’s what he wants us to do.
Romney, for those of you who don’t know, is one of the 2008 presidential candidates. He’s hoping to be the Republican candidate, and if successful (which he probably won’t be), he’ll have to face an election against the Democratic candidate — probably either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama as I understand these things from watching The Daily Show.
Recently he made a speech about faith in America, hoping to get the votes of the huge numbers of Christians in AmericaÂ by pretending to be one. He was introduced by a man who’s noted for saying that an atheist could never really be a true patriotic American (which is offensive in itself but is downright terrifying when you consider than man used to be the president), so to drive the point home, Romney is shown on his website standing in front of no fewer than eight American flags. I shall now paste a cut down version of his speech, which is available in full on his website, because he’s actually proud of his insane beliefs.
Today, I wish to address a topic which I believe is fundamental to America’s greatness: our religious liberty.
There are some who may feel that religion is not a matter to be seriously considered in the context of the weighty threats that face us. If so, they are at odds with the nation’s founders, for they, when our nation faced its greatest peril, sought the blessings of the Creator. And further, they discovered the essential connection between the survival of a free land and the protection of religious freedom. … Our constitution was made for a moral and religious people. Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom.
Just to interrupt Mr Romney there, this argument is fantastically weak. He’s implicitly equating “religious freedom” with religion itself, and he’s implicitly equating “in the context of the weighty threats that face us” with “in politics”. It’s cunning phrasing, and if I’m generous then I assume he doesn’t know he’s doing it (not least because he’s got a team of lackeys to write this stuff for him).
A person should not be elected because of his faith nor should he be rejected because of his faith.
Remember this, and see if he goes back on it.
Let me assure you that no authorities of my church, or of any other church for that matter, will ever exert influence on presidential decisions. Their authority is theirs, within the province of church affairs, and it ends where the affairs of the nation begin.
Ah, so he’s a secularist, that’s good to know–
We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America ’“ the religion of secularism. They are wrong.
Ah, no, no, in fact he’s an idiot. “The religion of secularism”? That’s a bit like saying “the number minus” or “the colour invisible”.
We cherish these sacred rights, and secure them in our Constitutional order. Foremost do we protect religious liberty, not as a matter of policy but as a matter of right. There will be no established church, and we are guaranteed the free exercise of our religion.
And you can be certain of this: Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me. And so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen: we do not insist on a single strain of religion ’“ rather, we welcome our nation’s symphony of faith.
Throughout his speech, which you can watch on his website and which sounds more like a sermon than a political address,Â you may notice he keeps making implicit anti-atheist remarks like “freedom requires religion” and “our constitution was made for … religious people”.Â Now antisemitism is not encouraged, so how does he think America would tolerate an anti-atheist president? Well, the fact is that for the most part they would (and have done before), because America has a very strong anti-atheist brigade, to the point where many atheists face much the same problems telling their parents of their apostasy as gay people did admitting their homosexuality all those years ago.
He saysÂ “any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty has a friend and ally in me”, implying that he is no friend or ally to atheist Americans, or indeed agnostic or Buddhist Americans. That’s a pretty large chunk of the population — I think it works out around 10%. One in ten Americans would not have an ally in the president. That’s alarming. He repeatedly asserts that religious freedom is important, but the idea that someone might exercise that freedom by opting out of the whole ridiculous charade seems to offend him — which is a bit fucking rich when he said in the same speech that “religious tolerance would be a shallow principle indeed if it were reserved only for faiths with which we agree”.
He said this, you see, because he is a Mormon*. He wanted to make sure that everyone was clear that he was a religious man of faith, and that they should support him because he’s religious and has faith, but he wasn’t going to start telling them exactly what his faith is, because of course that “would enable the very religious test the founders prohibited in the Constitution”. I think he imagines that the First Amendment is something he can apply as and when is convenient, which makes sense considering his wholesale support for Guantanamo Bay, torture, wiretapping and basically whatever else anyone feels like doing to those nasty fundamentalist Muslims (who apparently are also not covered by the phrase “any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty has a friend and ally in me”).
Instead, I have created a special award, Specifically Mormon Crackpot, just for him, and as he’s the only Specifically Mormon Crackpot we’ve had, and since it’s December, I can safely award him the award for the entire year, all at once. Which is quite fair, I think, since he so plainly deserves it.