Christian nationalism

Oklahoma Governance

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R), in May 2015. (image: KFOR)

There are days, you know, when it is really easy to pick on an idea. Take Oklahoma for instance. Last week we learned about the strangeness of Oklahoma virtue, and then a spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin (R) found himself blaming Texas for protests in Durant and Oklahoma City demonstrating support for the Confederacy as President Obama arrived.

Talk about a trifecta; this also happened:

Gov. Mary Fallin (R) and the GOP-led legislature announced they’re prepared to ignore the state Supreme Court, at least for now, while they consider new solutions.​

The Republican governor talked to reporters, saying roughly what you’d expect her to say: she’s “disappointed” with the court’s decision; she thinks they made the wrong call; etc. But as KFOR, the NBC affiliate in Oklahoma City, reported, Fallin added one related thought that wasn’t expected at all:​

Gov. Fallin said she believes the final decision on the monument’s fate should rest with the people.​

“You know, there are three branches of our government. You have the Supreme Court, the legislative branch and the people, the people and their ability to vote. So I’m hoping that we can address this issue in the legislative session and let the people of Oklahoma decide,” she said.​

The KFOR report added, “Despite what the governor said, the three branches of government include the legislative, executive and judicial branches” ....​

.... We can certainly hope that Fallin, a former multi-term member of Congress, knows what the three branches of government are. Indeed, in Oklahoma, she’s the head of one of them – the one she left out this week.​

(Benen)

This is actually one of the big differences. Look, Democrats might well be just as middling, mincing, and incompetent as they seem, but, to the one, to the one, it’s nothing comparable to this, and, to the other, ritual equivocation would only obscure important considerations.

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Oklahoma

Detail of 'The Virgin Spanking the Christ Child before Three Witnesses: Andre Breton, Paul Eluard, and the Painter', by Max Ernst.  Oil on canvas.  Paris, 1926.  (Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany)

This is a simple exercise in contrasts. Steve Benen explains:

… a major court ruling in Oklahoma, where state officials have been told to stop promoting one religion’s scared tenets on the Capitol grounds. The Tulsa World reported this week:

The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday said the Ten Commandments monument at the state Capitol must be removed.

The plaintiffs said its placement at the Capitol constituted the use of public property for the benefit of a system of religion, which is banned by the Oklahoma Constitution.

State law isn’t especially ambiguous. Section II-5 of the Oklahoma Constitution says public property can’t be used to benefit or support any “sect, church, denomination, or system of religion,” either directly or indirectly. When state lawmakers approved a monument to the Protestant version of the Ten Commandments, it was hard to even imagine how this could be legally permissible ....

.... The Republican-led state legislature has been a little hysterical since the decision was handed down, and state House Speaker Jeff Hickman (R) said impeachment proceedings against the Supreme Court’s majority “will be seriously considered.”

To summarize:

(1) Oklahoma state Supreme Court decides under clear dictate of law that a state-sponsored tribute to Christian faith is not permissible on capitol grounds.

(2) Republicans will seriously consider impeaching the justices in retribution for enforcing the law.

Oklahoma.

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Image note: Detail of, The Virgin Spanking the Christ Child before Three Witnesses: Andre Breton, Paul Eluard, and the Painter, by Max Ernst. Oil on canvas. Paris, 1926. (Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany)

Benen, Steve. “This Week in God, 7.4.15”. msnbc. 4 July 2015.

The Rand Paul Show (Picking Up His Balls)

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff on April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa. The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, a conservative Christian organization, hosted 9 potential contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nominations at the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“Perhaps the time has come to examine whether or not governmental recognition of marriage is a good idea, for either party.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

Because, you know, gay marriage is just the last straw.

No, seriously. The one and only Rand Paul:

The government should not prevent people from making contracts but that does not mean that the government must confer a special imprimatur upon a new definition of marriage.

Perhaps the time has come to examine whether or not governmental recognition of marriage is a good idea, for either party.

Since government has been involved in marriage, they have done what they always do — taxed it, regulated it, and now redefined it. It is hard to argue that government’s involvement in marriage has made it better, a fact also not surprising to those who believe government does little right.

Strangely, the Kentucky junior has no real grasp of political optics. We have heard this sort of talk before in Oklahoma, or as Mr. Paul noted in his special to Time, Alabama. But when it comes to the proposition that if you can’t make all the rules you’ll just pick up your balls and go home and pout, is that really a caliber of behavior we might reasonably describe as presidential?

There really isn’t any more time to adjust; Americans have had nearly two decades to accustom themselves to same sex marriage, and if they chose to spend those years bawling and stomping and fighting and pouting, why should everyone else have to wait even longer just so they can find new ways to pitch tantrums?

Is Mr. Paul capable of comprehending the optics, understanding just how ridiculous he looks striking this pose? Well, okay, of course he doesn’t; this is a guy who has trouble grasping the basics of plagiarism.

Stupid and petulant is no condition for mounting a presidential bid.

Oh. Right. Clown car, all that. He trails Bush, Walker, Rubio, and Carson. Maybe that’s the problem. Given the stupid factor in effect, Mr. Paul’s terrible shitty brat routine doesn’t really stand out as extraordinary, does it?

That still doesn’t mean the self-certified ophthalmologist has a clue about political optics.

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Image note: Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks to guests gathered at the Point of Grace Church for the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition 2015 Spring Kickoff on April 25, 2015 in Waukee, Iowa. The Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, a conservative Christian organization, hosted 9 potential contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nominations at the event. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Paul, Rand. “Government Should Get Out of the Marriage Business Altogether”. Time. 28 June 2015.

Rubin, Jennifer. “Rand Paul has another problem”. The Washington Post. 8 November 2013.

The Supremacist’s Lament

Zombie Republic: The Demon Sisters cope with the results of their plan.  (Detail of frame from Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, episode 8, '… Of the Dead')

“Public officials are ministers of God assigned the duty of punishing the wicked and protecting the righteous.”

Win Johnson

The disgraceful derby scrambling in the wake of Obergefell has yet to settle out; with presidential candidates struggling to find ways to evade the U.S. Constitution, or taking up the notion of just calling the whole marriage thing off, an Alabama attorney named Win Johnson has appealed to Gov. Robert Bentley (R) to opt out of the U.S. Constitution. Mr. Johnson, for his part, is a state official, a director at the Administrative Office of Courts, which in turn oversees the courts for state Chief Justice Roy Moore.

It seems a striking letter; Charles J. Dean reported, for AL.com:

In harsh words and a lecturing tone, a lawyer who works for Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has written a letter seemingly directed at Gov. Robert Bentley rebuking him for saying Alabama will obey the U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring same-sex marriage legal.

More appropriately, it really is a striking letter, so wild-eyed and seemingly irresponsible that the Souther Poverty Law Center has called for Johnson’s resignation.

And let us be clear; part of the problem with excerpting the letter is that the whole thing really is a show and a half. Christian supremacism, abdication of duty, rejection of the Constitution, and hey, even a Godwin violation just to hit for the cycle. Again, let us be clear: All for hatred in Jesus’ name, amen.

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The Ted Cruz Show (Hair-on-Fire Apoplexy)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) responds to the 2015 State of the Union address in an online video, 20 January 2015.

“As ridiculous as Cruz’s posturing seems, it’s important to remember the broader context: national GOP candidates have a built-in incentive to be as hysterical as possible right now, in the hopes of currying favor with the party’s base. Mild, reasoned disappointment with the court doesn’t impress far-right activists; unrestrained, hair-on-fire apoplexy does.”

Steve Benen

This is an obvious point, or, at least one might think.

Steve Benen points to his msnbc colleague Benjy Sarlin’s report Friday last detailing the 2016 GOP presidential reactions following the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in favor of same sex marriage:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) went so far as to call for a constitutional convention to overturn the court’s decision while campaigning in Iowa, according to CNN. In an interview with Sean Hannity he called the back-to-back rulings on health care and gay marriage “some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.”

While the Texas junior is hardly the only Republican presidential candidate opting to skip out on posturing his response within the realm of general dignity, Mr. Benen responded aptly:

Hannity, incidentally, found Cruz’s rhetoric quite compelling, responding, “I couldn’t say it more eloquently.”

For what it’s worth, it’s not hard to think of some genuinely tragic 24-hour periods in American history. The Lincoln assassination comes to mind. So does the time British troops burned the White House. There were days during the Civil War in which tens of thousands of Americans died on the battlefield. Just in the last century, we witnessed the JFK assassination, Pearl Harbor, and a corrupt president resign in disgrace.

For the Republican presidential hopeful, learning that Americans will have health benefits and loving couples will get married belongs on the same list.

The thing is that Mr. Cruz is not entirely wrong; the rest, as Benen points out, is a matter of perspective.

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Reality

Serrano, Piss Christ (detail)“The reality is that there are few if any places in the world where it is better to be Christian than the U.S., so pretending that being forced to abide by the constitution is somehow a “war” comes off a lot like the spoiled rich kid whose parents won’t upgrade the radio on the new BMW I8 they are buying for his birthday. It just makes you look uninformed, selfish and silly.”

Dale Hansen

Is there really anything we need to add, or is this pretty straightforward?

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Hansen, Dale. “Christian Persecution Is a Problem, Just Not in the U.S.” The Huffington Post. 19 May 2015.

Good News with an Asterisk

Transgender pride

This is important:

The largest group of internal medicine doctors in the U.S. came out Monday in support of policies it says will improve the health of the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

Those policies include support for civil marriage rights for same-sex couples, opposition to so-called conversion or reparative therapy and support for health insurance plans that include comprehensive transgender healthcare services.

“The LGBT community deserves the same high quality care that any community in the United States should be getting, but may not be getting,” said Dr. Wayne J. Riley, president of the American College of Physicians.

(Seaman)

This is the challenge: Prevention and risk identification. The Reuters report notes, for instance, that among the estimated 1.1 million HIV cases in the United States, one in six is not yet diagnosed. And think about that for a moment; that nearly seventeen percent works out to nearly one hundred eighty-four thousand people with unknown transmission potential likely in high risk profiles.

And this is a problem. First and foremost, doctors need to know these patients in order to help. But as a practical concern, this number also represents a tremendous gateway for potential further undiagnosed exposure, transmission, and contraction. Both individual and public health are at risk.

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Antisocial

Evangelist Rick Wiles, in undated framegrab, explaining to his flock why they need to panic.

The only real question―

End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles spoke with Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel on his “Trunews” program yesterday about what will happen to the United States if the Supreme Court strikes down bans on same-sex marriage. Unsurprisingly, neither was optimistic.

“Now the communists rule this nation,” Wiles said in a monologue before his interview with Staver, “and everywhere communism takes control, they go after the churches and they kill the pastors and they demolish the church buildings and they reeducate the church children. That’s what’s coming to America. It’s already started.”

“We are at the end of the road as a nation,” he warned. “If the Supreme Court dares to defy Almighty God one more time, I’m telling you it will be the last time.”

“I believe I am speaking under the unction of the Holy Spirit,” he continued. “I’m telling you there will be swift, sudden and devastating consequences for the United States of America. America will be brought to its knees, there will be pain and suffering at a level we’ve never seen in this country. The word that I hear in my spirit is ‘fire.’ I do not know if it refers to riots or looting or war on American soil or a fireball from space. I simply know that a sweeping, consuming fire will come across the United States of America and this country will be charred and burned.”

He told his listeners to “prepare for the fire that will sweep across America if the United States Supreme Court dares to defy God one more time and rule that homosexual marriage is a constitutional right.”

(Tashman)

―is how such people find any traction.

That is to say, sure, this is America, and anybody can have a soapbox pulpit, but these jokers manage to make a living out of it.

And perhaps we might say whatever we will about the deliciously antisocial rewards of such cruel temper tantrums, but more than the personality promoting such delusional panic, what are we to think of those who actually believe this stuff?

After all, these jokers manage to make a living out of it.

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Tashman, Brian. “Rick Wiles Warns Of ‘Fireball From Space’ If Supreme Court Strikes Down Gay Marriage Bans”. Right Wing Watch. 1 May 2015.

A Note on the Republican Clown Car

Kamon Dreams and Stranger Things: Detail of frame from 'FLCL' episode 5, "Brittle Bullet".

There is little about Timonthy Egan’s blistering critique of the Republican Clown Car that we might call … er … ah … not unkind:

Last election cycle, the Republican presidential field was a clown car, holding the thrice-married Newt Gingrich lecturing about values, the pizza magnate Herman Cain fending off sexual harassment claims, and Michele Bachmann confusing John Wayne with a serial killer. That was just the front seat. This time around it’s a clown bus, with as many as 17 Republicans expected to compete for the nomination.

Most of them are unelectable, to say the least. But can any of them get out of the party’s winnowing period without saying things they picked up in the far right netherworld? Probably not. As previous gaffe-a-matics have shown, it pays to be crazy. And for many Republicans, crazy is the new mainstream.

† † †

There is no ceiling for crazy in Texas, nor political consequence. This year, the Lone Star State’s most odious export is Senator Ted Cruz, who also has some concern about the nefarious designs of our military, and those Walmart tunnels. He couldn’t just say, as the Pentagon did, that our troops would soon be conducting a long-planned field operation, called Jade Helm 15. He had to dog-whistle to the mouth frothers.

“I understand a lot of the concerns raised by a lot of citizens about Jade Helm,” said Cruz. “It’s a question I’m getting a lot, and I think part of the reason is we have seen, for six years, a federal government disrespecting the liberty of citizens.” Dwight Eisenhower — look him up, Texans — is rolling over in his five-star grave.

If you don’t think the inability to distinguish a military exercise from a totalitarian takeover disqualifies you from leading the free world, Fox News has a hosting chair for you in its studios. That’s where Mike Huckabee promoted his brand of Gomer Pyle politics over the last few years, building a following for quack health remedies and Christian victimhood.

It is not so much a matter of being funny because it’s true. Rather, this bit that reads like comedy is, at the very least, a little sad because it really, really is happening. Now and then it is easy enough to fancy that what voters really want is a spectacle, but the problem with that notion is the proposition that every spectacle must be a bacchanal of ignorance and clodhopping disgrace.

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Egan, Timothy. “Fringe Festival”. The New York Times. 8 May 2015.

The Setup

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, joins House Republicans to speak during a news conference in opposition to the Supreme Court's Defense of Marrriage Act (DOMA) decision on Wednesday, June 26, 2013.  (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

From the office of Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX01):

“Over the past few weeks, my office has been inundated with calls referring to the Jade Helm 15 military exercise scheduled to take place between July 15 and September 15, 2015. This military practice has some concerned that the U.S. Army is preparing for modern-day martial law.

Certainly, I can understand these concerns. When leaders within the current administration believe that major threats to the country include those who support the Constitution, are military veterans, or even ‘cling to guns or religion,’ patriotic Americans have reason to be concerned. We have seen people working in this administration use their government positions to persecute people with conservative beliefs in God, country, and notions such as honor and self-reliance. Because of the contempt and antipathy for the true patriots or even Christian saints persecuted for their Christian beliefs, it is no surprise that those who have experienced or noticed such persecution are legitimately suspicious.

Having served in the U.S. Army, I can understand why military officials have a goal to see if groups of Special Forces can move around a civilian population without being noticed and can handle various threat scenarios. In military science classes or in my years on active duty, I have participated in or observed military exercises; however, we never named an existing city or state as a “hostile.” We would use fictitious names before we would do such a thing.

Once I observed the map depicting ‘hostile,’ ‘permissive,’ and ‘uncertain’ states and locations, I was rather appalled that the hostile areas amazingly have a Republican majority, ‘cling to their guns and religion,’ and believe in the sanctity of the United States Constitution. When the federal government begins, even in practice, games or exercises, to consider any U.S. city or state in ‘hostile’ control and trying to retake it, the message becomes extremely calloused and suspicious.

Such labeling tends to make people who have grown leery of federal government overreach become suspicious of whether their big brother government anticipates certain states may start another civil war or be overtaken by foreign radical Islamist elements which have been reported to be just across our border. Such labeling by a government that is normally not allowed to use military force against its own citizens is an affront to the residents of that particular state considered as ‘hostile,’ as if the government is trying to provoke a fight with them. The map of the exercise needs to change, the names on the map need to change, and the tone of the exercise needs to be completely revamped so the federal government is not intentionally practicing war against its own states.”

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