All debts contracted and engagements entered into, before the adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.
This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
And here is Congressman Representative Bill Sali:
“I think that Keith deserves a call from me — not necessarily because of what’s in my heart or in my mind, but because of how it’s been portrayed,” Sali said.
But Sali said he does think the country’s Founding Fathers created a government based on Christian principles and that the best course into the future is to follow those ideas.
The country’s creators fought for the “principles found in Scripture,” he said. “The dangerous part is straying from these principles.
“The idea that somehow we can move to multiculturalism and still remain the same — I think that’s a little dangerous, too,” he said. “From my standpoint, I believe the Founding Fathers were overwhelmingly Christian, and the God they were talking about is the God of the Bible.”
That is an explanation over these earlier comments:
We have not only a Hindu prayer being offered in the Senate, we have a Muslim member of the House of Representatives now, Keith Ellison from Minnesota. Those are changes — and they are not what was envisioned by the Founding Fathers.
Clearly Mr. Sali is delusional and ignorant. I’m curious what conservative Mormons in Idaho who he represents think about him…
For example, here is a Founding Father who differed with Mr. Sali, some guy named Thomas Jefferson, who said:
The bill for establishing religious freedom, the principles of which had, to a certain degree, been enacted before, I had drawn in all the latitude of reason & right. It still met with opposition; but, with some mutilations in the preamble, it was finally passed; and a singular proposition proved that it’s protection of opinion was meant to be universal. Where the preamble declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed, by inserting the word “Jesus Christ,” so that it should read “a departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion.” The insertion was rejected by a great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of it’s protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mahometan, the Hindoo, and infidel of every denomination.
I’m gonna side with Thomas Jefferson on this one, personally.
Republicans and the Christian Right should be well familiar with this particular verse from the Bible, Matthew 7:15-20:
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
By their fruits, ye shall know them. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. A corrupt tree brings forth evil fruit. Any Christian knows this parable. What does this mean for our world today? Let’s look at the fruits of the Bush administration and the Republican party.
A failed state. The Fund for Peace and Foreign Policy magazine have released their annual report of the world’s failed states. Iraq is the second worst failed state in the world, only two points better in the rankings than the world’s worst failed state, The Sudan. We’re now well over four years into our war in Iraq. Let’s put that in perspective. World War II, if started on March 20, 2003, would have ended last December or so. What is worse about this is that unlike The Sudan, America has pumped billions of dollars into Iraq with so little to show for it.
That is not to say that all failing states suffer from international neglect. Iraq and Afghanistan, the two main fronts in the global war on terror, both suffered over the past year. Their experiences show that billions of dollars in development and security aid may be futile unless accompanied by a functioning government, trustworthy leaders, and realistic plans to keep the peace and develop the economy. Just as there are many paths to success, there are many paths to failure for states on the edge.
So I ask you, Americans, and especially Christian conservatives, what do these fruits tell you about the tree from which they come? Now some of you may say, the tree really is terrorism. The answer to that is, no. The tree is America. We entered Iraq with the supposed intent to recreate the Middle East, and Iraq itself. After four years, what are the fruits of our labors? An utterly failed state. Jesus said, evil fruit cannot come from good trees.
By their fruits, ye shall know them.
Recently a US airstrike killed seven children along with many others. More than one hundred die in three days of heavy fighting. The Taliban (living over in neighboring Pakistan) continue to plague the Americans now SIX YEARS after we attacked them. Six years. And they are still around? Afghanistan is ranked as the 8th worst failed state in the world, behind only The Sudan, Iraq, and a bunch of African states.
By their fruits, ye shall know them.
The Bush administration continues to support the highly corrupt and repressive military dictator, Musharraf, regardless of how much he punishes reformers in Pakistan. Pakistan is ranked as the 12th worst failed state in the world. Only Haiti, Central African Republic and Guinea separate Pakistan from her neighbor Afghanistan.
By their fruits, ye shall know them.
Poor, poor Lebanon, the world’s pawn, played by all parties against her own will. Israelis bomb her to the stone age. Hezbollah is a parasitic virus, destroying the country from within. Syria assassinates her leaders. The United States sacrifices her democracy on the altar of supposed Israeli preference (though if the United States were smart, they would have reined in Israel last summer, because it is in Israel’s best interest to have a stable country to her north. Now because of their idiotic bombing campaign, Lebanon is failing). Lebanon is ranked as the 28th worst failed state in the world.
Not a state (and apparently not ever going to be a state), this is probably the worst of Bush’s failures. Is it really in the best interest of our ally, Israel, to have a failed non-state as her neighbor? Is it really in Israel’s best interest to have 1.4 million starving raving lunatics in a 25 mile strip of land right on her border? Is this Condoleezza Rice’s idea of “birth pangs?”
Why are these failed states so important to the world? The Foreign Policy magazine states it well in their introduction:
It is an accepted axiom of the modern age that distance no longer matters. Sectarian carnage can sway stock markets on the other side of the planet. Anarchic cities that host open-air arms bazaars imperil the security of the world’s superpower. A hermit leader’s erratic behavior not only makes life miserable for the impoverished millions he rules but also upends the world’s nuclear nonproliferation regime. The threats of weak states, in other words, ripple far beyond their borders and endanger the development and security of nations that are their political and economic opposites.
These are the fruits of the Republican philosophy to the world. These are the fruits of neo-conservatives. These are not the fruits of good trees. These must be cast into the fire, metaphorically speaking. We must do what needs to be done with these kinds of philosophies, let them pass the way of the dodo bird, to be a relic of history, never to be seen again. At least, if Americans want a better world.
This is the newest low of the Bush administration, and obviously one big reason why they’ve wanted to keep the black sites in Europe as secret as they could. Because one of the things that the Bush administration authorized was the capture and interrogation of children of terrorists (such as Khalik Sheikh Mohammed), to be used as a leverage against the terrorists, because hey, who likes to see their children suffer? This is the level to which our country has fallen, where we now torture children.
Andrew Sullivan quotes the CIA about KSM’s sons:
“His sons are important to him. The promise of their release and their return to Pakistan may be the psychological lever we need to break him.”
Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings has the details.
Today, six human rights groups released a report (pdf) on 39 people who they think the US government might be holding in undisclosed locations, and whose location is presently unknown. (Thus, they are not counting anyone known to be at Guantanamo or Bagram; just people who are missing.) That we have disappeared anyone is shocking, and a violation of treaties we have signed and ratified.
This report has gotten a fair amount of play, but in all the coverage I’ve read, only the Philadelphia Inquirer has mentioned what is, to me, the most awful allegation: that we disappeared young children. The report (pp. 24-26) lists five groups of family members; those who are discussed at greatest length are the sons of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
She then quotes the article from the Philadelphia Inquirer:
“In September 2002, Yusuf al-Khalid (then nine years old) and Abed al-Khalid (then seven years old) were reportedly apprehended by Pakistani security forces during an attempted capture of their father, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was successfully apprehended several months later, and the U.S. government has acknowledged that he was in the U.S. Secret Detention Program. He is presently held at Guantánamo Bay.
In an April 16, 2007 statement, Ali Khan (father of Majid Khan, a detainee who the U.S. government has acknowledged was in the U.S. Secret Detention Program and is presently held at Guantánamo Bay) indicated that Yusef and Abed al-Khalid had been held in the same location in which Majid Khan and Majid’s brother Mohammed were detained in March/April 2003. Mohammed was detained by Pakistani officials for approximately one month after his apprehension on March 5, 2003 (see below). Ali Khan’s statement indicates that:
Also according to Mohammed, he and Majid were detained in the same place where two of Khalid Sheik Mohammed’s young children, ages about 6 and 8, were held. The Pakistani guards told my son that the boys were kept in a separate area upstairs, and were denied food and water by other guards. They were also mentally tortured by having ants or other creatures put on their legs to scare them and get them to say where their father was hiding.
After Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s arrest in March 2003, Yusuf and Abed Al Khalid were reportedly transferred out of Pakistan in U.S. custody. The children were allegedly being sent for questioning about their father’s activities and to be used by the United States as leverage to force their father to co-operate with the United States. A press report on March 10, 2003 confirmed that CIA interrogators had detained the children and that one official explained that:
“We are handling them with kid gloves. After all, they are only little children…but we need to know as much about their father’s recent activities as possible. We have child psychologists on hand at all times and they are given the best of care.”
In the transcript of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s Combatant Status Review Tribunal, he indicates knowledge that his children were apprehended and abused:
“They arrested my kids intentionally. They are kids. They been arrested for four months they had been abused.””
Hilzoy states this correctly. This is something two-bit dictators would do. Is this something a supposed “Christian” democratic country does? Apparently. She asks at the end:
And note this: the only people who were included in the report are people whose whereabouts are presently unknown. These kids were captured over four years ago. They would be thirteen and eleven now. Does anyone know where they are? Does anyone care?
Not Americans. We’re too concerned about Paris Hilton’s latest sob story about prison. Andrew Sullivan adds:
One of the eeriest aspects of the Bush administration’s conduct of the war on terror has been the inversion of previously held assumptions about the meaning of the West. We fought a war to end torture; we then occupied Saddam’s own torture prison and tortured people there. We fought a war to bring democracy to the Middle East and to show Arabs and Muslims how superior it is as a system; we then spawned chaos, civil war and genocide to brand democracy as a nightmare for an entire generation of Muslims and Arabs. But I recall one moment when I felt most secure about our rationale for the war: we liberated a prison full of children who had been targeted by the monster, Saddam. If ending a regime that jailed children was not right, what was?
Except now we know that the U.S. has itself detained, imprisoned and interrogated children.
He then quotes John Yoo, the mastermind behind the torture regime:
“Cassel: If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?
Yoo: No treaty
Cassel: Also no law by Congress — that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo…
Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that…”
Weren’t we supposed to be fighting AGAINST people like Mr. Yoo? Additionally Michael P.F. Van Der Galien is trying to find out what has happened to those children. To this point, he has not found any information.
What kind of nation makes children disappear?
Over at our family history blog I’ve written a new post about our most recent trip to the Palmyra temple, where we celebrated the sealing of Jess—Jaime’s sister—and Joe and their two lovely children. Please read it. I also wrote about who Jaime and I sealed, someone close to my heart, sealing him to his wife.
I’m not surprised, but Provo businesses are blacklisting students that participated in a protest of Cheney, courtesy of Joe Vogel:
Now BYU Alternative Commencement has received an email from a local businesswoman named Denise Harman, who claims that all BYU students participating in activities against Dick Cheney are being tracked by local businesses. “Many businesses are noting the names involved,” she says.
Why are business tracking the names of soon to be graduating students? “You are being tagged as trouble makers and added to massive ‘Do Not Hire’ lists,” says Denise Harman, who hires hundreds of graduates every year.
She adds curtly, “Just thought you should know that activities have consequences.”
Indeed they do. How utterly childish. Shows you that residents of Provo have a stronger allegiance to one man than they do to democracy or even free speech. I wonder, if a day comes when those protesting rules against Mormonism get blacklisted what they will say…
One year ago, I wrote my first post on my blog. Back then it was called RHMD’s Thoughts on Politics. This was my first post: Continue Reading Celebrating One Year of Political Blogging…
I am currently reading Ron Chernow’s “Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller Sr.” Mr. Chernow’s book is thought-provoking to say the least. I bought it because I wanted to know more about John Rockefeller. Continue Reading On Rockefeller, Being Rich and Being Religious…
Okay, so I was thinking yesterday about this scripture:
Colossians 3:12 12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
I’ll quote the next few verses later, because this message is quite powerful. But I was just curious about the phrase “bowels of mercies.” Where does it come from? What is it about our bowels that seem to emanate mercy? Doesn’t mercy come from charity and the heart? What do you all think?
Here’s the rest of the message:
13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Representative Virgil Goode (not living up to his name) shows that racism and bigotry is alive and well in Congress. Just who is he trying to score points with? Which hearts is he trying to inflame? What fire is he trying to stoke? Continue Reading Racism and Bigotry Alive and Well in Your Congress America…
I have written a poem that I would like to share with my political readers. Please follow the link and tell me what you think.
A extremist group called the Christian Embassy is apparently recruiting military leaders in the Pentagon, even to a point of coersion. Now, it is one thing to have soldiers and military leaders believe in Christianity, but doesn’t it sound eerily similar to our enemies when we turn our military leaders into fundamentalist religious fanatics? When they start talking about this being a war on Islam, does that not in turn alter what our mission in the Middle East really becomes? Confucius said:
“If the names are not correct and do not match realities, language has no object. If language has no object, action becomes impossible — and therefore all human affairs disintegrate.”
When will this madness end? Are we so childish that it takes the return of our Savior for us to finally stop fighting one with another?
Josh Marshall critiques the possible plan of siding with the Shi’ites in a civil war with the Sunnis in Iraq. He states it like it is.
The irony of the plan to possibly back the Shi’ites against the Sunnis is that Iraq is surrounded on all fronts but one by Sunni majority countries, including our strongest Arab ally, Saudi Arabia. The Shi’ites’s biggest ally in the Middle East? Iran, of course. So the plan apparently is to support the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis, brothers to the Saudis and the Syrians and just about everybody else in the Middle East except the Iranians and some Lebanese. Oh and those Lebanese happen to be Hezbollah. Oh and Al-Qaida sees Shi’ites as heretics, so they are fine with lumping them with Americans. Does this even make sense?
Of course, Bush could never side with the Sunnis in a civil war against the Shi’ites. Saddam Hussein is a Sunni. To back the Sunnis means backing the Baath party. Furthermore, Al-Qaida is Sunni. Wouldn’t they love to see America backing Sunnis in the sectarian conflict against the heretics!
The big question is why did no one really consider these before invading Iraq? Then again, as I’ve shown before, our leaders weren’t that caught up to the differences between Sunnis and Shi’ites, were they?
How tragically sad this whole situation is right now! All so that George W. Bush could be re-elected and not fall to the same trap his father fell in. Like I said, Shakespeare would write his greatest tragedy if he were alive today.
I’m really befuddled. Why do so many Mormons still support Bush?
Just today, his departing Secretary of Defense, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld sent Bush a memo which he, no doubt, leaked to the press as well, which in effect calls the Iraq strategy a failure. One fascinating aspect about this memo is how he recommends the very same policy John Murtha recommended ONE YEAR AGO! Here is what Rumsfeld said:
Another option calls for redeploying American troops from “vulnerable positions” in Baghdad and other cities to safer areas in Iraq or Kuwait, where they would act as a “quick reaction force.” That idea is similar to a plan suggested by Representative John P. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, a plan that the White House has soundly rebuffed.
Here is what John Murtha said one year ago:
I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won “militarily.” I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is impeding this progress.
Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against U.S. forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. U.S. troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists and foreign jihadists. I believe with a U.S. troop redeployment, the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, and about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified. I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis.
I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United States occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a “free” Iraq.
My plan calls:
To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
To create a quick reaction force in the region.
To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq
This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.
Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That’s why I am speaking out.
Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.
This was the typical reaction from Republicans:
Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) declared: “Murtha and Democratic leaders have adopted a policy of cut and run. They would prefer that the United States surrender to the terrorists who would harm innocent Americans. To add insult to injury, this is done while the president is on foreign soil.”
Here is another conservative:
In a statement that has angered, embarrassed and humiliated Marines around the globe, one of our own — a retired Marine Corps Reserve colonel — has called for the legendary fighting force to retreat from Iraq and surrender to the terrorist organization that has killed thousands of Americans at home and abroad. He has even called for the United States to enter into negotiations with al Qaeda. This vermin’s demand for retreat, surrender and negotiations with the enemy is so committed to assisting al Qaeda in their efforts in Iraq that he has posted his unspeakable demands on his website in the form of an official statement.
The traitor, Democratic Rep. John P. Murtha, agrees 100% with Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al Zarqawi that the Marine Corps, which is mangling the enemy on a daily basis in Iraq and suffering comparatively light casualties, should lay down its arms, call it quits, and abandon the people they are defending in the fledgling democracy of Iraq.
Furious Marines from wars as far back as World War II are spitting mad at the cowardly colonel and many want his head on a stake in the middle of the Marine Corps Commandant’s lawn. Personally, I would not soil that good earth with so vile and despicable a piece of offal.
Encouraging retreat is viewed as aiding the enemy by the Marines and is a violation of Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which is punishable by death. Currently serving Marines, active duty or reserve, who encourage surrender are in violation of Article 100 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, an offense also punishable by death. Because Murtha is retired, he is virtually assured of not being prosecuted.
However, he will be celebrated by al Qaeda and other terrorists around the world. At this very moment, al Qaeda communications specialists are likely prepping pieces of propaganda using Murtha’s traitorous tirade as a tool to recruit fresh killers by showing them that even an American Marine (apologies to Puller) believes his allegedly beloved Corps is so inept in battle that retreat and surrender are the Marines’ best option and perhaps should, in fact, be added for the first time to the Leathernecks’ vast, quasi-mythical repertoire of operational art and battlefield strategy.
Murtha joins the likes of traitor Clayton Lonetree, the Marine security guard who gave top-secret intelligence to the Soviets, and traitor Robert Garwood, the Marine who went over to the enemy during the Vietnam War and was involved in holding and abusing US prisoners of war in North Vietnam while wearing the uniform of the enemy.
The Marine Corps is famous for its members standing their ground and winning fights against outrageous odds. Battles with names like the Peking Legation, Belleau Wood, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, the Chosin Reservoir, Khe Sanh and Fallujah decorate the hallowed halls of Corps history. Especially repugnant is how Murtha is insisting upon surrender while the Marines are decimating the enemy en masse.
Marines should ask Murtha if Chesty Puller would order retreat and surrender before the enemy.
John “The Jellyfish” Murtha should be shunned by all Marines and, if possible, legal steps should be taken to prevent this betrayer from being buried in a national cemetery upon his demise.
And yet another:
Jack Murtha’s call for immediate disengagement took him far outside the boundaries of legitimate disagreement. He has never been able to articulate any plausible basis for his position on Iraq. There is a simple reason for that. There isn’t one.
Reasonable people cannot differ about whether or not the United States should press forward with our war against the terror masters. For the time being Iraq is inevitably the principal front in that war. A congressman who tries to duck his share of the responsibility for prosecuting that war is displaying moral cowardice. Any American who recommends retreat is injuring his own country and calling his own patriotism into question.
Almost all the Democrats in the House understand this, which is why only three of them would vote on the record for retreat.
We mark the boundaries of legitimate disagreement by the way we characterize arguments that lie outside them. What Jack Murtha did last week wasn’t just wrong. It was cowardly and disloyal. That’s the truth and Jack Murtha deserves to hear it.
But, Mr. Murtha was right. And now the departing Secretary of Defense agrees with Mr. Murtha’s recommendation. I wonder if we will hear the same venom, the same call for his head from these same people as they did to Mr. Murtha. I doubt it.
Anyways, that’s a side topic. Let’s get back to Bush. His departing Secretary of Defense released a memo that states clearly that their Iraq policy is not working. Meanwhile, Bush continues to look cheerful even as he says:
“I recognize that the recent violence in Iraq has been unsettling,” Bush said.
Unsettling? Fifty-One people just died today in three coordinated market blasts. Unsettling? Why do Mormons still back this guy?
Worse yet, no leader in the Middle East supposedly trusts the Bush Administration to get it right.
But instead of flaunting stronger ties and steadfast American influence, the president’s journey found friends both old and new near a state of panic. Mideast leaders expressed soaring concern over upheavals across the region that the United States helped ignite through its invasion of Iraq and push for democracy — and fear that the Bush administration may make things worse.
President Bush’s summit in Jordan with the Iraqi prime minister proved an awkward encounter that deepened doubts about the relationship. Vice President Dick Cheney’s stop in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, yielded a blunt warning from the kingdom’s leaders. And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s swing through the West Bank and Israel, intended to build Arab support by showing a new U.S. push for peace, found little to work with.
In all, visits designed to show the American team in charge ended instead in diplomatic embarrassment and disappointment, with U.S. leaders rebuked and lectured by Arab counterparts. The trips demonstrated that U.S. allies in the region were struggling to understand what to make of the difficult relationship, and to figure whether, with the new Democratic-majority Congress, Bush even has control over his nation’s Mideast policy.
The Saudis are warning Cheney, Rice gets at best a cool reception in Israel and Palestine, Bush was snubbed by the man he needs desparately in Jordan, King Abdullah of Jordan warns of more civil wars in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Iran continues quietly to build their nuclear program. Syria continues interfering in Lebanon, and the world now further distrusts America.
So I ask again, my Mormon friends, why do so many Mormons still think this guy is a good guy? Do we not believe that by their fruits we shall know them? What are the fruits of President Bush? A divided America, civil war in Iraq, further civil wars possible throughout the Middle East, no one trusting Bush. Could any president have done more to weaken America’s standing in the world than Bush has these past six years? No. That’s not only bad for America, but that’s also bad for our church. I am asking that you join with me in calling for the resignation or impeachment of President George W. Bush. Believe in your conservative principles. Where’s the shrinking of the government? I’ve not seen it these past six years. Where’s the fiscal responsibility? Why are we putting our wars on credit cards for our children to pay? Why are we going to war with countries based on faulty intelligence, and then when things start going bad, we blindly, stupidly, stubbornly say we need to “stay the course,” when staying the course is the worst possible option to choose? There are so many things wrong with the Bush administration, so many ways that they act counter to Conservative principles. How can you guys still back him? Is it because he throws you a bone—whether it be gay marriage, or abortion, or tax cuts—so you stay mollified and silent while he goes counter to all your other conservative principles?
I pray that you consider my request. Before this gets even worse. Think about it, how can Bush act effectively with the rest of the world if he is no longer taken seriously by anyone?
David Ignatius has a great op-ed in the Washington Post today on what he calls the Politics of Assassination, in reference to the murder of Pierre Gemayel, the Lebanese Christian politician. He says:
A disease is eating away at the Middle East. It afflicts the Syrians, the Iraqis, the Lebanese, even the Israelis. It is the idea that the only political determinant in the Arab world is raw force — the power of physical intimidation. It is politics as assassination.
This week saw another sickening instance of this law of brute force, with the murder of Pierre Gemayel, a Lebanese cabinet minister who had been a strong critic of Syria. Given the brutal history of Syria’s involvement in Lebanon, there’s an instant temptation to blame Damascus. But in this land of death, there are so many killers and so few means of holding them to account that we can only guess at who pulled the trigger.
I am reminded, sadly, of another group of people with a similar knack for the use of violence and political assassination: The Jaredites. Who are the Jaredites? They are a people in the Book of Mormon (the Olmecs from what we know archaeologically), who left during the time of the Tower of Babel, crossed the Pacific and found their promised land. In Ether 9:4-12 we read the following:
4 And it came to pass that Jared was anointed king over the people, by the hand of wickedness; and he gave unto Akish his daughter to wife.
5 And it came to pass that Akish sought the life of his father-in-law; and he applied unto those whom he had sworn by the oath of the ancients, and they obtained the head of his father-in-law, as he sat upon his throne, giving audience to his people.
6 For so great had been the spreading of this wicked and secret society that it had corrupted the hearts of all the people; therefore Jared was murdered upon his throne, and Akish reigned in his stead.
7 And it came to pass that Akish began to be jealous of his son, therefore he shut him up in prison, and kept him upon little or no food until he had suffered death.
8 And now the brother of him that suffered death, (and his name was Nimrah) was angry with his father because of that which his father had done unto his brother.
9 And it came to pass that Nimrah gathered together a small number of men, and fled out of the land, and came over and dwelt with Omer.
10 And it came to pass that Akish begat other sons, and they won the hearts of the people, notwithstanding they had sworn unto him to do all manner of iniquity according to that which he desired.
11 Now the people of Akish were desirous for gain, even as Akish was desirous for power; wherefore, the sons of Akish did offer them money, by which means they drew away the more part of the people after them.
12 And there began to be a war between the sons of Akish and Akish, which lasted for the space of many years, yea, unto the destruction of nearly all the people of the kingdom, yea, even all, save it were thirty souls, and they who fled with the house of Omer.
The Jaredites focused on revenge and reprisals instead of the religion they espoused. Sounds very similar to the Middle East. Mr. Ignatius continues:
The sickness must end. The people of the Middle East are destroying themselves, literally and figuratively, with the politics of assassination. So many things are going right in the modern world — until we reach the boundaries of the Middle East, where the gunmen hide in wait. Those who imagined they could stop the assassins’ little guns with their big guns — the United States and Israel come to mind — have been undone by the howling gale of violence. In trying to fight the killers, they began to make their own arguments for assassination and torture. That should have been a sign that something had gone wrong.
This is a time of convulsive change in the region, and many doors are being pushed open. Syria has an opportunity to leave behind its drab Cold War trench coat and become a modern, prosperous Mediterranean nation; Hezbollah, the militia that represents Lebanon’s dispossessed Shiite population, has a chance to lead its followers into political power and prosperity. But they won’t realize these opportunities so long as the politics of assassination rules the region. If Syria and Hezbollah keep brandishing their power like a grenade, it will ultimately blow apart in their hands.
In Ether 11:5-7 we see the worsening of the violence:
5 And it came to pass that the brother of Shiblom caused that all the prophets who prophesied of the destruction of the people should be put to death;
6 And there was great calamity in all the land, for they had testified that a great curse should come upon the land, and also upon the people, and that there should be a great destruction among them, such an one as never had been upon the face of the earth, and their bones should become as heaps of earth upon the face of the land except they should repent of their wickedness.
7 And they hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord, because of their wicked combinations; wherefore, there began to be wars and contentions in all the land, and also many famines and pestilences, insomuch that there was a great destruction, such an one as never had been known upon the face of the earth; and all this came to pass in the days of Shiblom.
When we see the terrible destruction violence has upon the Iraqis, with the attack just yesterday killing now over 200 people, is this destruction bad enough yet to make the Iraqis see the futility of the use of violence? Sadly, I do not believe that will end their hate. The Iraqis (and Lebanon is following in this path), are starting to look a lot like the Jaredites:
25 Now there began to be a war upon all the face of the land, every man with his band fighting for that which he desired.
26 And there were robbers, and in fine, all manner of wickedness upon all the face of the land.
27 And it came to pass that Coriantumr was exceedingly angry with Shared, and he went against him with his armies to battle; and they did meet in great anger, and they did meet in the valley of Gilgal; and the battle became exceedingly sore.
31 And Shared wounded Coriantumr in his thigh, that he did not go to battle again for the space of two years, in which time all the people upon the face of the land were shedding blood, and there was none to restrain them.
8 Now the brother of Shared, whose name was Gilead, also received great strength to his army, because of secret combinations.
9 And it came to pass that his high priest murdered him as he sat upon his throne.
10 And it came to pass that one of the secret combinations murdered him in a secret pass, and obtained unto himself the kingdom; and his name was Lib; and Lib was a man of great stature, more than any other man among all the people.
21 And so great and lasting had been the war, and so long had been the scene of bloodshed and carnage, that the whole face of the land was covered with the bodies of the dead.
22 And so swift and speedy was the war that there was none left to bury the dead, but they did march forth from the shedding of blood to the shedding of blood, leaving the bodies of both men, women, and children strewed upon the face of the land, to become a prey to the worms of the flesh.
23 And the ascent thereof went forth upon the face of the land, even upon all the face of the land; wherefore the people became troubled by day and by night, because of the scent thereof.
24 Nevertheless, Shiz did not cease to pursue Coriantumr; for he had sworn to avenge himself upon Coriantumr of the blood of his brother, who had been slain, and the word of the Lord which came to Ether that Coriantumr should not fall by the sword.
It got so bad that even when Coriantumr realized just how horrible things have gotten, he tried to make amends with his enemy, who still wanted this head. This was impossible with his people, and thus the violence continued:
1 And it came to pass when Coriantumr had recovered of his wounds, he began to remember the words which Ether had spoken unto him.
2 He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.
3 He began to repent of the evil which he had done; he began to remember the words which had been spoken by the mouth of all the prophets, and he saw them that they were fulfilled thus far, every whit; and his soul mourned and refused to be comforted.
4 And it came to pass that he wrote an epistle unto Shiz, desiring him that he would spare the people, and he would give up the kingdom for the sake of the lives of the people.
5 And it came to pass that when Shiz had received his epistle he wrote an epistle unto Coriantumr, that if he would give himself up, that he might slay him with his own sword, that he would spare the lives of the people.
6 And it came to pass that the people repented not of their iniquity; and the people of Coriantumr were stirred up to anger against the people of Shiz; and the people of Shiz were stirred up to anger against the people of Coriantumr; wherefore, the people of Shiz did give battle unto the people of Coriantumr.
19 But behold, the Spirit of the Lord had ceased striving with them, and Satan had full power over the hearts of the people; for they were given up unto the hardness of their hearts, and the blindness of their minds that they might be destroyed; wherefore they went again to battle.
20 And it came to pass that they fought all that day, and when the night came they slept upon their swords.
21 And on the morrow they fought even until the night came.
22 And when the night came they were drunken with anger, even as a man who is drunken with wine; and they slept again upon their swords.
29 Wherefore, he did pursue them, and on the morrow he did overtake them; and they fought again with the sword. And it came to pass that when they had aall fallen by the sword, save it were Coriantumr and Shiz, behold Shiz had fainted with the loss of blood.
30 And it came to pass that when Coriantumr had leaned upon his sword, that he rested a little, he smote off the head of Shiz.
Thus ends a civilization.
“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them…
There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C,’ and ‘D.’ Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism.’”
—as quoted in Daily Dish.
He’s trying really hard. That is clearly evident. He’s shifting his political views hard right (even though he supposedly is a moderate—but to get through the Republican primary, you have to sell out on your principles and please extremists), supporting Bush’s war in Iraq, supporting the use of torture, etc. He’s starting to get pretty good copy, but I get the impression that he won’t be able to jump over the massive wall that stands in his way: Protestants still don’t think Mormons are Christian and clearly do not wish to vote a non-Christian as leader of their nation. I really wonder why Romney attempts to get the votes of people who do this:
Southern Baptists have been particularly vocal about labeling the LDS Church a “cult.” In 1997, the denomination published a handbook and video, both with the title The Mormon Puzzle: Understanding and Witnessing to Latter-day Saints. More than 45,000 of these kits were distributed in the first year; the following year—in a throwing down of the proselytizing gauntlet—the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Salt Lake City. Around the same time, a speaker at the denomination’s summit on Mormonism declared that Utah was “a stronghold of Satan.” When Richard Mouw, president of the evangelical Fuller Theological Seminary, tried to repair relations with the LDS community by apologizing on behalf of evangelicals during a speech in the Mormon Tabernacle last year, his conservative brethren lashed out. Mouw had no right, they declared in an open letter, to speak for them or apologize for denouncing Mormon “false prophecies and false teachings.”
As Amy Sullivan says just a paragraph earlier in her piece:
Evangelical Christians consider Mormonism a threat in a way that Catholicism and even Judaism are not. The LDS Church, they charge, has perverted Christian teachings to create a false religion. As John L. Smith, a Southern Baptist who runs Utah Mission—an organization that tries to convert Mormons—told Christianity Today: “Mormonism is either totally true or totally false. If it’s true, every other religion in America is false.” To be tolerant of Mormonism is to put evangelical Christianity at risk. And to put a Mormon in the White House would be to place a stamp of approval on that faith.
When you’ve religionized your political party, how can you compromise your principles? If you accept a “non-Christian,” are you not turning your back on your own religion? Ms. Sullivan finishes her article with:
The tragedy—or, depending on your point of view, the irony—is that Mitt Romney may just be the most appealing candidate Republicans can field in 2008, the one most likely to win the White House by shoring up social conservatives and rallying business interests without frightening swing voters. Yet the modern GOP’s reliance on evangelical voters and its elevation of personal religiosity—strategies which have served the party so well in recent years—may doom the chances of this most promising candidate. Or, to put it in evangelical terms, it might be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for Mitt Romney to win the Republican nomination.
On the one hand, it seems rather futile for Mr. Romney to try and reach out to these voters, especially when a Rassmussen poll shows that 53% of Evangelicals will not vote for a Mormon candidate. On the other hand, by shifting so hard to the right, as he has of late, he stabs in the back the moderate voters who he needed for his governorship run. This is the same problem Mr. McCain is facing. He has to become a prostitute to the hard-right voters, even though he is really a moderate. But this shoots down his credibility.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a Mormon will have an easier time becoming president of the United States as a Democrat than a Republican. Look at the fact that Romney became governor of one of the most liberal states in the nation, Massachusetts. Was his religion an issue with voters there? Not really. Could he have ever been elected governor of, say, Texas? Or Alabama? I feel sorry for Romney. He’s a good guy. He has to compromise his principles as a moderate in order to become president. It’s such a shame that this is what the Republican party has become, a party where real principled men have to shame themselves in order to get their vote.
“Major leaders have lost their positions of influence because of what they did alone in a room. Please don’t ever fall into the trap of believing that you can do something in secret, even when you are far away from home. This is a lie, and it will always come back to haunt you.”
Christians are fleeing Iraq in droves because of the violence. Many Mormons justified their support of this war on Iraq “opening” to the Gospel. What do you say now, my Mormon friends? Can you visualize missionaries walking around Iraq today?
Surprise! Surprise! According to the man second in charge of the Office of Faith Based Initiatives, David Kuo writes a book due out before the elections—thankfully—that shows that Bush used Christians and their moral beliefs for political gains! Continue Reading Bush Using Christians For Political Purposes…
Michael Hirsh wonders: “Are there no Ikes or Harrys extant?” Where are the men of honor who take responsibility for their own actions these days? Where are the men who acknowledge mistakes and do all in their power to rectify, rather than “stay the course?” Continue Reading Arise From the Dust and Be Men!…