On the American Flag at Political Conventions

I cannot help but notice how many on the right equate patriotism with the size and number of flags you can cram onto a stage. Far-right conservatives are proud of their American flag: a field of pure whiteness, covered by streaks of red protecting a handful of white stars held aloft by the divine protection of the blue heavens. Far-right conservatives see flags like guns and cars and women: the more you have and the bigger and better looking they are, the more “American” you must be.

True patriotism, however, is not simply about the mere symbol, but about what that symbol represents: policies and actions. The flag must represent the actions of standing up, acting on behalf of your fellow Americans, serving them, treating them fairly, and the willingness to give your life for them, as so many of our veterans have done. It must also represent the establishment of policies, both personal and civil policies, that bring about our ideals.

The flag is a symbol, and symbols represent ideas and ideals. And if your ideas are bad ideas—if they are divisive, and bigoted, and harmful—then it doesn’t matter how many flags you have. You can line up a row of massive flags from one end of the stage to the other—if your ideas are bad ideas, and your ideals do not treat all Americans equally and with respect, you cannot simply paper over selfish ideals and bad policies with the American flag. Because when you do, the symbol becomes an idol—an end in itself. And much like the crosses on the walls, and around the necks and wrists, and on the car bumpers of those who do not live lives reflective of the teachings of the man associated with that cross, the idol comes to represent nothing at all. And this is why those that worship their star-spangled idol flood their stages with the idol: they hope that none will notice that their idol is empty, and that their lives do not reflect the selfless service that the idol once represented.

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump receiving his party’s 2016 nomination in Cleveland, Ohio.

Lest We Forget, Mitt Romney Mocked Rising Ocean Levels and Climate Change

Lest we forget, Mitt Romney openly mocked rising ocean levels and climate change only a few months ago.

And anti-intellectual and anti-science conservative Republicans cheered him at their national convention.

(HT: Joe. My. God.)

Mitt Romney Endorses Richard Mourdock

First there was Rick Santorum saying that women made pregnant by forcible rape should “make the best of a bad situation” and be forced to give birth to their “horribly created” baby.

Then there was Todd Akin‘s “Legitimate Rape” comment.

And now there is Indiana Republican senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who offered this gem:

“Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

The Mitt Romney’s campaign has already released a statement saying that he ‘disagrees‘ with Mourdock. And yet, just this past Monday, Mitt Romney released an ad endorsing him.

You be the judge. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice? Three times??? They’re not fooling anyone.

If you follow the “life begins at conception” logic through to its logical end, you get moronic statements like what we see and hear above. GOD INTENDED FOR IT TO HAPPEN!

Unbelievable!

why fundamentalist evangelical republican politicians scare me (and should scare you too)

Georgia Congressman Paul Broun

Georgia Congressman Paul Broun, standing in front of a wall of mounted animal heads, tells the Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman’s Banquet that he does not believe in “evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory”, which he defines as “lies straight from the pit of Hell”. Broun is a Republican representative on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

This is the US Congressman from Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, Dr. Paul Broun. He is a member of the Republican Party and the Tea Party Caucus.

He recently gave a speech to the “Liberty Baptist Church Sportsman’s Banquet” (yes, THAT exists, I kid you not) on September 27, 2012, in Hartwell, Georgia. (This explains the WALL OF MOUNTED ANIMAL HEADS that serves as a backdrop for the Congressman.)

Watch a clip of the speech:

Here is the transcript of what he said:

God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell. And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior. You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the Earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.

And what I’ve come to learn is that it’s the manufacturer’s handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives individually, how to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all of public policy and everything in society. And that’s the reason as your congressman I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that.

Now, I’ve come to accept that there are some people on this earth that will NEVER accept science, no matter how logical, rational, or intellectually compelling it is because they are not interested in facts; they are interested in maintaining the beliefs and worldview compiled thousands of years ago by desert nomads. But this is not the problem.

Every American has every right to be religious. And every American has every right to make religious speech (just not in places where others are compelled to listen to it or participate in it, like public schools). And every American has the right, if they so choose, to deny reality. You can argue that aliens created human technology, Santa Claus, whatever – you have that right.

Every American, if they so choose, can choose to deny basic science, facts, and data. That too is OK…foolish, but within one’s constitutional rights. Likewise, every American has the right to elect as their representative someone reflects their skewed, ancient, and defunct worldview – a representative who also denies facts and information that science provides. Therefore, even though such behavior is utterly foolish IMHO, Americans have the right to believe what they want, deny reality if they want, and elect someone as their representative who reflects the denial of science, facts, and reality. It’s foolish, but they have these rights as Americans. This too is not the problem.

The real problem, and what frustrates me to no end, is that the Republican Party would place someone like Paul Broun, who obviously has a disdain for science and the factual reality of the world around us, to THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, SPACE, AND TECHNOLOGY! Forget the fact that he’s been married four times. Forget the fact that he’s a Conservative Evangelical. These aren’t the problem. The problem is that, based upon his fundamentalist religious convictions, he DENIES the fundamental tenets of science. Yet, despite this, the Republicans named him the CHAIR of the SCIENCE SUBCOMMITTEE ON INVESTIGATIONS AND OVERSIGHT!

The Republicans bring this upon themselves.

While I’m sure the Medical College of Georgia is embarrassed to have Dr. Broun represent them as an alum who rejects the “lies” of basic medical disciplines like “embryology” and other tenets of basic science, they can’t help what he chooses to believe and deny today. But the Republicans can! The Republicans do themselves a major disservice when they promulgate the perception – one rightly deserved – that they are anti-science, and that they are anti-science precisely because they are conservative Evangelicals.

Do you see the problem? The Republicans don’t have to promote a scientifically ignorant congressman to the Committee on Science. Yet, they do. Thus, the Republicans completely deserve to continue to be chided as the party of anti-intellectualism and anti-science, because they continue to elevate people who see no possible compatibility between their faith and the reality of the worldview that basic science has provided. For fundamentalist Evangelical Republicans, faith and science are an either-or choice. And they choose faith. And that’s OK. But that the GOP elevates them and puts them in places of authority over budgets and curriculum for science and technology, this is the problem.

I shake my head.

our first iowa caucus experience

Republican Iowa Caucus Precinct 16 at Lucas School in Iowa City, Jan 3, 2012.

The outgoing and newly-elected Chairs speak at the Precinct 16 Republican Iowa Caucus at Lucas School in Iowa City, Jan 3, 2012.

Roslyn and I (and baby Mac) just finished our first Iowa Caucus experience. After participating in the Coffee Bean Caucus at Hamburg Inn this weekend, we did the real thing tonight in Iowa City, home of The University of Iowa Hawkeyes, as well as the Departments of Religious Studies and Classics (where I teach).

As most of you know, we are registered as unaffiliated voters in Iowa (just as we were in California). This means we do not belong to a political party. Because the Democratic and Republican caucuses take place at the same time at different places, you can only attend one. And, you must be registered with the party that is caucusing in order to participate. Luckily, you can register with the party at the door. So, since the Democratic Iowa Caucus is uncontested, Ros and I chose to attend the GOP Iowa Caucus, and registered as Republicans at the door.

(Fear not, we’ll re-register as unaffiliated voters in a couple of weeks and reassert our independent status. But we wanted to attend a contested primary and as moderate independents, either party will work for a night.)

So we went and we participated. And I tweeted the process live. We listened to short, 5-minute speeches from representatives of some of the candidates. And then we voted. And this is the big difference between the GOP and Democratic caucuses: at the GOP caucus, after the 5-minute pitches, you take a secret ballot vote. The votes are then counted and the winners announced. However, at the Democratic caucus, you ‘vote with your feet’: you physically walk to areas for each candidate and are counted. Then, after an initial vote, backers of different candidates walk around and attempt to convince other caucus participants to join them in support of their candidate. This is especially important for candidates with less than 15% of the vote, who cannot receive delegates. But at the GOP caucus, we simply voted and awaited the result.

MacLaren couldn't handle the excitement at the Precinct 16 GOP Iowa Caucus at Lucas School, Jan 3, 2012.

All of the excitement was too much for MacLaren to handle at Precinct 16 of the GOP Iowa Caucus at Lucas School, Jan 3, 2012.

We were told that Republican Precinct 16 is one of the larger GOP precincts in the People’s Republic of Johnson County, so Precinct 16 may very well be a decent model for the larger GOP Iowa Caucus field.

The announced results were as follows:

Romney: 62
Paul: 48
Santorum: 28
Gingrich: 10
Perry: 10
Huntsman: 2
Bachmann: 2
Undecided: 1

It was simple and I must admit, it was the most fun and most personal experience I’ve ever had as a voter (although MacLaren was completely overwhelmed by the excitement). I like the Iowa Caucus process, and next election we’ll attend the Democratic Caucus to actually ‘vote with our feet’.

craigslist fail – meet the buff gop u.s. representative from new york, christopher lee

Craigslist Fail - Rep. Christopher Lee resigns amid reports that he tried to meet women on Craigslist

Craigslist Fail - Rep. Christopher Lee resigns amid reports that he tried to meet women on Craigslist

This has got to be the ultimate Craigslist fail.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the buff U.S. GOP representative from New York, Christopher Lee.

Here’s the worst part: he’s married and has a child.

Here’s the best part:

Chapman has a bachelor’s degree in economics and finance from the University of Rochester, AND a masters of business administration from Chapman University in California, a private, university located in Orange, California affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Another great day for the Restoration Movement and the GOP!

Rep. Chris Lee, R-N.Y., resigned from Congress after a report emerged that he had sent flirtatious emails, including one with a bare-chested photo of himself, to a woman he met on Craigslist.

There is no such thing as anonymity (or privacy for that matter) on the internet!!!

how the tea party cost the republicans the senate

Here’s how the Tea Party hurt the Republican party in the US Senate. The Tea Party candidates won in both Florida and Alaska, but they unseated moderate Republicans (Crist in Florida and Murkowski in Alaska), who would have won anyway.

However, the Tea Party cost the Republicans in Delaware (O’Donnell) and in Nevada (Angle), where any other moderate Republicans, caucusing with the Republicans, would have easily won. Two seats in a 49-51 Senate is control of the Senate.

The Tea Party helped the Republicans win local, district elections and take the House, but cost the Republicans in some larger, statewide races in the Senate, including two key victories in Delaware and Nevada, and perhaps ultimately control of the Senate.

(I write this with Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, and Colorado still undecided.)

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