Archive for misuse of public money

Chopping At The Roots Of Democracy

Posted in Atheist, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, Government, history, politics, random, religion, Social, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on January 24, 2011 by chouck017894

The Republican Party fell completely under the control of the Religious Right in 1996 (as noted in the blog Diseased Politics, January 2011).  With “biblical values” as their standard, there arose an increasing odor of corruption.  But there had been warnings for years from concerned Republicans that their party was in peril.

As early as 1981, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona had noted publicly, “…I can say with conviction that the religious issues of these groups have little or nothing to do with conservative or liberal politics.  The uncompromising position of these groups is a divisive element that could tear apart the very spirit of our representative system, if they gain sufficient strength.”  Thirteen years later, 1994, Goldwater warned, “If they (the Religious Right) succeed in establishing religion as  a basic Republican Party tenet, they could do us in.” (From an interview in the 1994 US News & World Report.)  Senator Goldwater was deeply troubled over the Religious Right’s persistent war on the US Constitution and feared for the basic freedoms of the American people.  And in a 1994 interview from the Washington Post, Goldwater mused, “When you say ‘radical right’ today, I think of those moneymaking ventures like Pat Robertson who are trying to take the Republican Party and make a religious organization out of it.  If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.”

Ominously, by 1995 Tom DeLay, who had become a born-again Christian in 1985 and was convinced that he had been “returned to Christ,” was installed as majority whip of the House, against the wishes of House Speaker Newt Gingrich.  DeLay therefore judged Gingrich (and the next Speaker, Dick Amery) as “uncommitted to Christian values.”  DeLay was so dogmatic in his version of Christian values party line Republicanism that he earned the nickname “The Hammer.”  He took the nickname to his bosom, declaring that the hammer was  one of a carpenter’s most valuable tools—a not so subtle inference of his connection to Jesus whose alleged occupation was carpenter.

And the 1995 challenger for the minority whip position, John Shadegg of Arizona, lamented, “We ceded our reform-minded principles in exchange for a…tighter grip on power.”  By 1999, when DeLay was the House Republican Whip, DeLay made Roy Blunt his chief deputy.  Blunt, a Baptist, is noted for voting in favor of mandatory school prayer, school vouchers, and allowing the undemocratic use of federal money (gathered from citizen taxes) to issue vouchers for private or religious schools.  With DeLay and Blunt in lockstep maneuvering, the religiously inspired GOP was stirred into a frenzy of wild spenders who chopped away at long-standing regulations, instigated tax cuts, and doled out lavish earmarks and appropriations.

In this same timeframe, DeLay initiated his so-called K Street Project, a not-so-righteous endeavor to get trade associations and lobbying firms to employ Republicans and to be more active in raising money for the party.  And Roy Blunt acted as DeLay’s envoy to the lobbying community—all in an effort to ram a religiously flavored Republican agenda through Congress.  All the web of wheeler-dealers helped push through the Republican legislative agenda, but those ties were destined to become entangled and knotted around the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal.  Abramoff, an orthodox Jew, had been a highly influential lobbyist and activist for the G. W. Bush administration, then Blunt’s name came up in connection with the Abramoff  investigation.  While Blunt was dutifully opposing a woman’s right to choose and opposing same-sex marriages, he saw nothing unspiritual in trying to insert language into a bill creating the Homeland Security Department which would aid the Philip Morris tobacco company!  He wanted to make it more difficult for cigarettes to be sold over the internet—that, he was convinced, was an obvious security threat.  It had nothing at all to do with the $202,909 that Philip Morris donated to his campaign.

But that deceitful web of pretended righteousness is still being spun over the workings of US government today, and with the sanctimonious Tea Party adding to the spin in Congress, democratic equal rights principles are not likely to be what is “valued.”  Somehow it reminds one of the line from the children’s story: Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly.

With this we will close with another quote from Republican Senator Barry Goldwater (died 1998): “Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on Earth.  And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies.”  He concluded on a thought on equality:  “Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to emancipation of creative differences.  Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity, and then to despotism.” 

Wake up  America!  Democratic principles are under attack from within.

Faith-Based Failures

Posted in Atheist, Bible, culture, faith, history, life, random, religion, thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2009 by chouck017894

One might assume from the title of this post that we will delve into the Bush-era Born Again leadership fiasco, but that stands out only as a symptom of the radical right’s built-in tendency to self-destruct.  One of the great myths of the radical right religionism is the propaganda that they alone stand upon the highest moral ground: family values, pro-life, material profits prove god’s love, man should not love man, take the Bible literally—that sort of stuff.

So when it comes to the sanctity of marriage among the fundamentalists, there is a curious point to ponder.  With the passage of time after the exchange of “I Do’s” among the hard-nosed religionists, the ironic thing is that born-again fundamentalists can turn around and boast of having one of the highest divorce rates in the nation.  This is not made up for liberalist snickering.  In fact, some years back, around 2006, an evangelical pollster, George Barna, found a very high rate of divorce among conservative Christians.  Even more disturbing to the pollster, the trend had been in place for more years than they wished to admit.

To add to the embarrassment, an independent research outfit found that the “Bible Belt” states had higher divorce rates than did other regions of the country.  The hellish irony for the self-righteous Right was that states scorned by them as hotbeds of liberalism had the lowest divorce rates.

Most alarming for the hard-nosed evangelical ambassadors of god was the glaring proof that their much touted Bible-based counseling for couples was seriously flawed.  The alarm among the fundamentalists was not so much in regard to the many marital split-ups, but that the evidence of their counseling failure seriously threatened the (unconstitutional) channeling of tax monies into their religious programs—programs they constantly declared worked.  But their true success rate was in the toilet.  And worse, it was common practice among the Born Again “counselors” to stack statistics to conceal the ineffectiveness of their programs.

 Bible-based counseling included such fundamentalist dogma guidance as:  men should run the household and wives were meant to submit to their husbands; warning that wives are at risk of becoming jealous of their husband’s relationship with his mother; children are brought forth in sorrow; woman is commanded (by god) to be under obedience (as in 1 Corinthians 14:34); woman must learn from her husband at home (verse 35); and similar dogma inspired counseling.  They then feign bewilderment that using the Bible as a marriage manual had not brought the blessings of “practical and life-changing support for steadfast marriage” as they claimed. 

The guise of pervasively religious groups protecting marriage has brought considerable amounts of public money into the coffers such as the Northwest Marriage Institute.  Congress actually allocated over $100,000 to this group in 2006—the GWB era—for the alleged purpose of building healthy marriages and thereby hoped to lower the nation’s divorce rate.  We have seen how well that works out.

The Northwest Marriage Institute later ducked out of a court challenge of using tax money for Bible-based marriage counseling brought by Americans United, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to preserving the constitutional principle of church/state separtation.  NMI dropped use of Bible quotes in order to keep its public funding.  Apparently it had nothing at all to do with the commandment not to bear false witness.