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Name: Mister Rea
Gender: Male
Hometown: Houston
Home country: Moon
Current location: afk
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 48,808

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mostly harmless

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One reason to keep your religion out of gov't is that I may need to come after you & your ideas

Apparently Orin Hatch wants to tear down the wall of separation between church and state. He thinks his idea of God is a better way of governing the nation than my idea (and the Founding Fathers' idea) idea of leaving religion out of politics. He seems to want to ignore both the lessons of history and the reality of human psychology when our most precious ideals and values are brought under attack. He seems to think that his notions of religious truth are strong enough to withstand the give and take of political debate. He has no idea, apparently, of two basic truths the Framers of the US Constitution protected us from:
1) just how silly and vulnerable everyone's religious beliefs are, and
2) just how ugly the fighting can and will get when you put religion into the mix.

Let me break it down for you (and for anyone you choose to forward this message to). You see, religion is about faith, which is a beautiful thing, and politics is about testing ideas against each other in ruthless and sometimes crushing arguments.

In the political realm, you might have what I judge to be bad ideas. In politics, we must examine and tear apart one another's ideas. That's how we debate, that's really the only legitimate way to debate, both for policies and for who ought to be voted into office or not. But if you openly tether your political ideas to your religious ideas, then you more or less oblige me to go after your religion every time I disagree with your politics. You make attacking your religion politically viable, maybe even politically necessary. And things can only get ugly from there.

It'd be like changing the rules in Boxing so that all contenders have to fight nuts-out from their boxing shorts and then allowing crotch-punching inside the ring. Look, I don't want to punch your nuts... I want you to leave your nuts out of the game. But once you change the rules so that scrotum shots are a legit maneuver, I'd be a damn fool of a pugilist not to throw a few roundhouses down testicle way. By advocating nuts-out politics for America, Senator Hatch, you're more or less announcing that you both choose to swing yours around and will punch away at mine whenever we disagree.

You might think your nuts are invulnerable, that they're perfect nuts, that your God would never let me land a solid blow to your twin swingers. But believe me, I know a lot about hitting nuts and yours will bust in ways where you can't imagine the hurt. Nuts are like that. They seem to be happy little things, full of promise and joy and glad tidings. But in fact they are soft and tender and pliable and, once exposed and brought into the zone of fair play, I will make the "War on Christmas" seem like a picnic in the park before I'm done. I will have your chestnuts roasting on an open fire, my Christian friend, if you dare try to swing your personal business up in my personal space in the public domain. Thomas Jefferson wisely called for a "wall of separation" but since you can't see that, Senator Hatch, I'm going to call it the Cup of Religious Liberty.

What I'm saying is, your religion is your nuts. You don't want to deal with mine and--trust me--I sure as hell don't want to deal with yours. Sorry, but it's just not my bag of tea. If you or I happen to land a particularly solid blow inside the ring, the punchee won't simply lose points from the judges; we'll actually damage, maybe do permanent damage to, our opponents. You won't be able to perpetuate your family line and my glove will be covered in bloody scro-sweat. It's a lose-lose situation. The rowdy sport of gentlemen will become only a synonym for war. Cause, you see, if you punch me in the face, I might concede the fight. But if you threaten my personal harm in what I consider most important and sublime in this life, I will not fight by the rules. I will fight to win. I will fight to kill. So would any man.

This is what England found out in its Civil War in the 1600s. This is what Germany found out in the Protestant Reformation. This is what the rest of Europe found out in the Thirty Years War. When you put your nuts in the game, the game changes in ways that can only bloody up the conflict, end personal liberties for all, including the winners, and damage family lines in ways that ought to permanently left out of politics. Secular, church-free politics lets us lose gracefully and keep our democracy. Politics that exposes our religions to attack is a short walk to civil war. If occupying and attempting to democratize Iraq taught us anything, we should know that. But then, Senator Hatch, that's a different lesson of history you chose not to learn from.

There's something creepy going on in this photo of the Donald among his flock

Look closely

There's an extra arm in that picture, coming over the shoulder of the women in the pink hat, that doesn't seem to belong to anyone in that photo. It's just a disembodied arm, floating out to touch Donald Trump, like the hand of God. It reminds me of that "hand out of nowhere" that's holding the butter knife in da Vinci's "Last Supper".

Also, I'm pretty sure that other woman up front is asking The Donald to eat her baby for good luck. I wish I had a baby to offer to The Donald for his next meal. He hungers... he hungers.

Check in if you're torn between amusement & fear over Donald Trump.

He's always seemed like a joke to me. There are three possible scenarios facing this parallel universe in which Donald Trump becomes a viable political candidate. Either he wins the nomination and loses the election, or he wins both nomination and election, or he loses the nomination and remains the same old shameless publicity hound we've all come to know and shudder about. Not one of these scenarios is actually a laughing matter.

I mean, yes, I get a certain karmic gratification in watching this smarmy huckster turn the merely clownish Republican quadrennial posturing contest into an ugly slosh pit of personal beefs. It's generally recognized that his cult-of-personality campaign and reality-show type bickering with other candidates are just chickens coming home to roost for the Republican Party that's been demagoguing on his pet issues for decades, albeit with far less showbiz pizzazz than the Donald.

He's nominated, but loses

In a word, he's Trumpenstein, the monster coming back to kill the doctor who cobbled the beast together in the first place. So watching the "grown-ups" of the GOP, like Jeb Bush and...uh, any other grownups who might be running... get their asses handed to them is fun. And of course, if the Donald gets the nomination, it'll be a peach watching him pick a VP running mate, since he's managed to call just about everybody else in the party a "loser."

I've always voted Democratic because I think Republican policies are bad for America. But Trump seems to be something new. He's bad for democracy. His outright mockery of political campaigning, his lowest common denominator trash-talk style of avoiding substantive debate. I don't mind him tanking the Republican Party--their fake conservatism and two-faced war-mongering has left them over due for a cataclysmic ass-whooping for a generation. But I think Trump's childish antics could actually damage democracy itself (even more than America's lackadaisical participation rates have damaged democracy so far).

In 1992, 1996, 2008, and 2012, the losing Republican candidates took their microphones on Election Night and walked back from all the personality attacks they'd launched on Clinton & Obama. They spoke variations on "The people have spoken; He's a good man and let's now get behind our new president." Sure, they never get Congress to go along with the 'Country First' rhetoric, but that type of language on the culmination of a campaign with civil-war-level fervor is important for the functioning of a civil democracy. I may not've thought much of McCain's or Romney's policy approaches, but they were experience politicians and I knew on Election Night they'd do the right thing. They knew that in politics, you win some and you lose some.

But can anyone seriously envision Donald Trump making that sort of speech? It's not just that he's not used to losing; I genuinely don't think he understands what losing means. He's never met a "worthy adversary" in his life. Either you fawn over him or you're a loser. Even when he declares bankruptcy in his business ventures, he's not "losing"--he's just winning by a different set of rules. His penchant for embracing fringe conspiracy theories, not because he believes the malarkey but solely for publicizing himself, will come into play if he loses by any margin. The payoff to that on a close election night is pretty frightening. Imagine him telling a pumped up Republican/Tea Party base "The Obama Administration stole this election for the Democrats." Don't think he wouldn't try that if it kept him 'in the cycle' during the post-election cycle. I think he's capable of unleashing genuine post-election violence for the first time in 150 years.

He's nominated and (gulp) wins

More frightening still is the idea of Donald Trump winning. The Republic could survive eight years of Reagan, though we were all worse for the wear. We even survived Dubya and his NeoCon puppeteers, though several thousand soldiers and marines and airmen and civilians in the wrong place at the wrong time didn't fare so well (not to mention hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the potential millions who've suffered as the middle east unravels from Bush's policies). But the international order, the resilience of the American economy, and global civilization as a whole remained intact. Trump's wrecking ball approach to policies is a perfect recipe for trainwreck after trainwreck with negotiating with Congress, with international relations, with any type of military crisis that might come along, with immigration (obviously), and with slowing down global climate change.

He's not nominated, but remains a bee in democracy's bonnet for the foreseeable future

Of course I still think his candidacy is going to burn out and someone else is going to secure the nomination. But for the Democrats, that could be the worst of all possible worlds. As a nominee, even the Donald would be chained a bit by having to get along with the rest of the GOP he needs for the campaign. As an unaccountable mouthpiece, Trump would still hog unreasonable amounts of time on CNN and the Big 3 networks with his brilliantly inflammatory fusillades. He is nothing if not adept at getting attention and redirecting any public conversation back to himself and his wacky worldview. The Democratic nominee would have to not only fight his/her Republican opponent, but also swat away the swarm of mis-facts and personal slurs that a PR-savvy Trump, who will have plenty of free time on his hands (he apparently sits around all day watching Fox News and Twittering most of the time right now, even while he's running for the nomination). And if that scenario troubles you, keep in mind that this is the least cataclysmic of the three scenarios I've described.

So yes, he's fun right now. But he's nothing but trouble for the country. And frankly, I don't see an out. Not until 2020 when Kanye runs to save us.

It's official: I like NO ONE for president this time.

When I was a kid I got excited about some candidate early on all the time. Gary Hart in 84, Al Gore in 88, Clinton in 92... Being a Democrat was fun. But then I turned 30.

As a young adult I still found the occasional candidate who chugged my engines... Wes Clark in 04, Joe Biden briefly in 08. I like the smart ones. Oh, hell, they're all smart--smarter than me at least. Being a Democrat was a chore, but a pleasant one; a rewarding one. I came to see our party's role was to clean up whatever mess the Republicans caused when they got into office. Like how nature turns poop into mulch.

I was happy with Obama. I mean, I was demographically pleased. It validated something in my patriotism to see race matter just a little bit less in America--at least on that one level--even as racial and class distinctions got steadily worse. The years of Democratic operation of the Executive Branch has eased the crush of the middle class a bit, but hasn't really reversed the horrible trend. Politics seems less joyful, less fun, when it's reduced to a bloodsport to protect the interests of cynical international oligarchs.

I was surprised at how many Democrats and fellow DUers fell for the Barack Obama in their heads instead of the one their eyes should have seen. He was an establishment candidate from the get-go. Don't get me wrong: I don't use the word "establishment" pejoratively. I like moderates, I admire compromisers. History teaches that they get the most lasting reforms done... when they're able to. Affordable Healthcare, like. I approved his middle of the roadness, but only because I hoped that meant he'd do sensible reforms rather that repeat two years of Clinton first term mistakes and end up checkmated by the knuckledraggers for six years. I smugly chortled to myself as I watched liberaler liberals than I convince themselves he was an Illinois Jim Hightower, a 21st century Lincolnvelt. Call me cynical, but he smelled of Eisenhower to me. And he has governed as such. I have no regrets, but in 2016 I don't want to vote for more of the same.

So Mr. Obama was my last lover, the last guy I found I could get that twinkle in my eye while I voted for him. I'm a liberaler liberal than I was seven years ago. Watching moderation fail to reverse decay does that to a rational mind. I want change--real change. I want election reform and lobbying reform and security state reform. I study enough history to know that level of change has to come from the grass roots--democracies usually stumble when they march behind messiahs. And I'm pragmatic enough that I know both that only a Democratic president will work for that kind of reform and that only a certain kind of Democrat is going to get elected. But there's structurally unsound political infrastructure creaking under our nation's floorboards. And I want a candidate with the eyeballs and the elbow grease and the salemany charm to get in there and fix it.

And I see no one running or might-be-running who offers me something that is neither status quo dynastics nor unelectable iconoclastism. I mean no disrespect to Hillary or Bernie fans. If there's an O'Malley fan out there, I mean no disrespect to your husband or son, whichever he is, either. I would like to get that old fire going again, see that candlelight, taste that red wine of liberal excitement one more time. My inner psychologist tells me my loins ache for a new Bobby, but we've been waiting for a new Bobby since 1968 and every one of those whom we've tried in my lifetime has fallen a little more short and then a little more shorter each go round. We'll never have another Bobby. Angels never touch the ground.

But though my cynical old liberal hearthead knows the ideal is unattainable, still, I look around for some candidate to mount a plucky can-do campaign, storm the bridge, and right this listing, rust-bottomed ship of state. But who? Mark Dayton seems like a good mix of liberal and pragmatic. Cory Booker looks like a potential game changer. Of course Elizabeth Warren would win my valentines no matter what deals she'd have to cut to win the nomination. But none of them are running.

What bothers me more than the lack of alternative to the heir apparent and the Philadelphia Eagles-designate who opposes her is that knowledge that there probably is someone out there who really could come out and set the grass roots on fire--but that they're all acquiescing to the dynastic coronation. Now, this is not an anti-Hillary rant. I'd probably vote for her over Mr Sanders. I won't cry if she sits in the Oval. But even the most fervid of her liberal supporters, if they are truly liberal, should be worried just a bit of what it means is going on behind the scenery of public debate if not a single one of her potential mainstream challengers is willing to step onto the stage and match wits with her.

As Sherlock Holmes might observe, there is the evidence of the hounds that do not bark. What does it mean to our democracy, not in conspiratorial terms but in sociological forces, if the "democratic" party of a widely diverse nation has an effectively uncontested nomination process. How can we call that democracy? And maybe this is why I feel this funk, this lack of romantic ardor for any candidate in the field. A generation ago the Democrats were the ones with the crowded stage of would-bes vying for the title of Bobby du jour. The Republicans have a whole clown car full of jackanapes to pick from. Where are our Lancelots? Where are our contenders? Why don't new and sexy politicians come a-calling for my vote anymore? Why can't we get it up?

But my narrative is drifting now. I will try and address some of my fears about whys in a later essay. I have a job to go do now.

Not sure if it's treason, buu-uut....

I'm not convinced what they did was *legally* treasonous, but it would be amusing to see what it'd look like if all 47 got sent upriver for violating the Logan Act and had to form a prison gang.

I can totally see McCain going all rorschach in the chow line and shouting "I'm not locked up here with you... YOU'RE locked up in here with ME!"

I feel like I've been locked up with the lot of them since 1994.

The president is simply wrong about the 47 Republican senators

In condemning the Republicans' active attempts to sabotage America's foreign policy and weaken the nation overseas, President Obama said yesterday...
"I think it's somewhat ironic to see some members for Congress wanting to make common cause with the hard-liners in Iran. It's an unusual coalition," Obama said, according to CNN.

No, Mr President, it is neither ironic nor unusual for one group of insane religious zealots hellbent on bringing on a conflagration of holy wars to ally its efforts with another insane group of religious zealots hellbent on unleashing the dogs of war. They are perfectly suited allies, united in their hatred of peace and reconciliation.

the only real difference is that one group worships God, and the other group worships the Koch Brothers

Is it too late for me to request that they call it "QwertyGate"? I just like the sound of that.

I'm pretty sure this post is about Secretary Clinton's absurd email "scandal." Frankly I expect better from a Clinton scandal than "didn't use email the right way." The least we could get out of this is a decent "-gate" name.
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