Near Earth Archive

A backup of Near Earth Object by Paul Fidalgo

Month: October, 2010

A Little More Huckabee, a Little Less Bloomberg

John Heilemann might be my favorite political journalist these days, if for no other reason than because of this phrase from a 2007 profile of Mitt Romney:

At first glance, he has the appearance of an attractive standard-bearer. A successful businessman (he made a fortune as the CEO of Bain & Company and founder of Bain Capital) and organizer of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics before becoming the Bay State’s governor, in office he pushed for the passage of a health-care reform plan applauded on both the right and the left. He’s well spoken and great-looking, with blindingly white teeth and a head of hair that rivals Ronald Reagan’s in the annals of Republican follicular achievement.

Yeah, love at first read.

Anyway, Heilemann’s big piece in New York Magazine lays out the horror scenario of how Sarah Palin could wind up President of the United States despite her atrociously low poll numbers. The long and the short is that Mike Bloomberg eyes an opening, gets into the race, pulls wins in big states like New York, New Jersey and California, denies Obama an Electoral College majority, and the U.S. House then votes for Sarah Palin for president. Then there is much weeping for the End of All Things Worth Living For (that’s not in his piece, but it’s implied, right?).

I have a couple of issues with the piece, which I think is a great read, by the way.

The first quibble concerns Heilemann’s assumptions about Palin’s competition for the GOP nod. I agree about the difficulties that will be faced by the likes of Romney and the utterly unappealing Tim Pawlenty. But this?

Huckabee is widely written off because he lacks the capacity to raise big cash and his appeal is limited to Evangelicals, whose influence is fading in the party; many insiders expect him not to run.

Also, I'm pretty sure Chuck Norris could kick Todd Palin's ass.

I’m not sure where Heilemann gets the notion that the Evangelical wing of the party is somehow losing its veto power. Particularly with hard-line fundamentalists (as opposed to the somewhat less wacky “mainline” Evangelicals) it seems to me that they are simply working under a different interest group’s name: the Tea Party. Tea-baggers yelp incoherently about a lot of things regarding the economy, the Constitution, and the deficit, but they are also very clear that they reject the separation of church and state, that they think America ought to be an officially-Christian nation (or that it already is, thanks to their crack constitutional scholarship), and that Muslims don’t deserve the same rights as white Christians.

Make no mistake; there are crosses tucked inside those teabags dangling from their straw hats. Where do you think the Tea Party gets its enthusiasm for Christine “evolution-is-a-myth” O’Donnell? For Sharon “rape-and-incest-are-part-of-God’s-plan” Angle? For, well, Sarah Palin? (And don’t forget Newt Gingrich and his nearly-maniacal — and somewhat recent — crusade against All Things Secular.)

The hyper-religious wing hasn’t lost any power within the GOP. They’re anchoring it in crazy. So, sure, they might wind up deciding to back Palin over Huckabee, but their influence will not be something that deters a Huckabee run. They catapulted him from nowheresville to serious contender in a matter of weeks in 2007/2008. He hasn’t forgotten, and I’d bet he thinks he can do it again.

I agree Huckabee has a challenge — he never showed any prowess for fundraising, and Palin is no milquetoast, liberal-associating Sam Brownback, his only real religious-nut competition in 2007/2008. (Romney also put on the religious nut mantle, but I think voters’ perception never moved beyond the suit, the hair, and the flip-flopping. Oh, and the Mormonism. That too.) But it’s a challenge that can be overcome if he so chooses. So maybe the insiders Heilemann from whom gets his intel know something we don’t, but the cited reasons don’t quite add up to Huckabee sitting out the race. I think he could be a serious challenger to Palin because he a) stayed governor once elected (for more than one term even!), b) is every bit as charismatic as Palin, and c) far smarter than Palin.

Also important to keep in mind is that the GOP presidential nomination system is almost entirely winner-take-all, plurality-based. When Democrats compete for a state, they are awarded delegates more or less proportionally to their share of the vote. Republicans, however, get the whole slate of a state’s delegates, even if they win by tiny pluralities. In other words, a candidate could win, say, Iowa’s caucuses with 22% in a crowded field, and take every single delegate, even though it could be that this candidate is opposed by 78% of the electorate. So with crazy math like that, it only takes a few momentum-building wins in key states to lock in a nomination. John McCain was no conservative favorite, but he squeaked out small pluralities while Romney and Huckabee competed for more right-wing votes. In other words, the GOP primary process is really volatile by nature. So Palin could conceivably sweep it all up by February, or she could be fighting for every last vote to the very end.

Huckabee can win the nomination. Heck, some folks in high places are guessing he will:

Obama’s aides say they will most likely set up their re-election campaign around next March, roughly the same as when Bush and Clinton incorporated their incumbent campaign operations. They are more optimistic about 2012 than they are about 2010, believing the Tea Party will re-elect Barack Obama by pulling the Republican nominee to the right. They doubt Sarah Palin will run and figure Mitt Romney cannot get the Republican nomination because he enacted his own health care program in Massachusetts. If they had to guess today, some in the White House say that Obama will find himself running against Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor.

But what do they know?

Second: On Bloomberg. I have to agree with Ann Althouse on this — I think Heilemann is perhaps a little to goofy over the prospect of a Bloomberg presidential run to begin with. He’s written on the topic plenty in the past, and while I take seriously the veracity of his reporting, serious third party runs are such gargantuan (and quixotic) undertakings, even for billionaires, that the political environment would have to be perfectly tuned for the precise candidate in question. Thanks to two-party entrenchment, a mere lack of enthusiasm for the main contenders would not suffice.

I find the proposed threshold for Bloomberg’s entrance also an example of wishful thinking by the folks Heilemann’s been talking to. I could see Bloomberg sensing an opening with Obama’s approval in the 30s, but low 40s? That’s pretty near where he is now, and at this point I don’t see a serious challenger to Obama in the 2012 general election. Obama will have to lose so
much of the country’s faith and good will to make impeachment by a wingnut Congress as likely than an electoral loss.

And as hungry for the office as Bloomberg might be, I don’t believe for a second he’d want to be the reason someone like Palin ascended to the presidency (nor would he be okay with a President Huckabee or President Gingrich). He’d have to be near-certain, as Heilemann notes, that he would win. I don’t think that certainty will ever emerge.

Advertisements

A Little More Huckabee, a Little Less Bloomberg

John Heilemann might be my favorite political journalist these days, if for no other reason than because of this phrase from a 2007 profile of Mitt Romney:

At first glance, he has the appearance of an attractive standard-bearer. A successful businessman (he made a fortune as the CEO of Bain & Company and founder of Bain Capital) and organizer of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics before becoming the Bay State’s governor, in office he pushed for the passage of a health-care reform plan applauded on both the right and the left. He’s well spoken and great-looking, with blindingly white teeth and a head of hair that rivals Ronald Reagan’s in the annals of Republican follicular achievement.

Yeah, love at first read.

Anyway, Heilemann’s big piece in New York Magazine lays out the horror scenario of how Sarah Palin could wind up President of the United States despite her atrociously low poll numbers. The long and the short is that Mike Bloomberg eyes an opening, gets into the race, pulls wins in big states like New York, New Jersey and California, denies Obama an Electoral College majority, and the U.S. House then votes for Sarah Palin for president. Then there is much weeping for the End of All Things Worth Living For (that’s not in his piece, but it’s implied, right?).

I have a couple of issues with the piece, which I think is a great read, by the way.

The first quibble concerns Heilemann’s assumptions about Palin’s competition for the GOP nod. I agree about the difficulties that will be faced by the likes of Romney and the utterly unappealing Tim Pawlenty. But this?

Huckabee is widely written off because he lacks the capacity to raise big cash and his appeal is limited to Evangelicals, whose influence is fading in the party; many insiders expect him not to run.

Also, I'm pretty sure Chuck Norris could kick Todd Palin's ass.

I’m not sure where Heilemann gets the notion that the Evangelical wing of the party is somehow losing its veto power. Particularly with hard-line fundamentalists (as opposed to the somewhat less wacky “mainline” Evangelicals) it seems to me that they are simply working under a different interest group’s name: the Tea Party. Tea-baggers yelp incoherently about a lot of things regarding the economy, the Constitution, and the deficit, but they are also very clear that they reject the separation of church and state, that they think America ought to be an officially-Christian nation (or that it already is, thanks to their crack constitutional scholarship), and that Muslims don’t deserve the same rights as white Christians.

Make no mistake; there are crosses tucked inside those teabags dangling from their straw hats. Where do you think the Tea Party gets its enthusiasm for Christine “evolution-is-a-myth” O’Donnell? For Sharon “rape-and-incest-are-part-of-God’s-plan” Angle? For, well, Sarah Palin? (And don’t forget Newt Gingrich and his nearly-maniacal — and somewhat recent — crusade against All Things Secular.)

The hyper-religious wing hasn’t lost any power within the GOP. They’re anchoring it in crazy. So, sure, they might wind up deciding to back Palin over Huckabee, but their influence will not be something that deters a Huckabee run. They catapulted him from nowheresville to serious contender in a matter of weeks in 2007/2008. He hasn’t forgotten, and I’d bet he thinks he can do it again.

I agree Huckabee has a challenge — he never showed any prowess for fundraising, and Palin is no milquetoast, liberal-associating Sam Brownback, his only real religious-nut competition in 2007/2008. (Romney also put on the religious nut mantle, but I think voters’ perception never moved beyond the suit, the hair, and the flip-flopping. Oh, and the Mormonism. That too.) But it’s a challenge that can be overcome if he so chooses. So maybe the insiders Heilemann from whom gets his intel know something we don’t, but the cited reasons don’t quite add up to Huckabee sitting out the race. I think he could be a serious challenger to Palin because he a) stayed governor once elected (for more than one term even!), b) is every bit as charismatic as Palin, and c) far smarter than Palin.

Also important to keep in mind is that the GOP presidential nomination system is almost entirely winner-take-all, plurality-based. When Democrats compete for a state, they are awarded delegates more or less proportionally to their share of the vote. Republicans, however, get the whole slate of a state’s delegates, even if they win by tiny pluralities. In other words, a candidate could win, say, Iowa’s caucuses with 22% in a crowded field, and take every single delegate, even though it could be that this candidate is opposed by 78% of the electorate. So with crazy math like that, it only takes a few momentum-building wins in key states to lock in a nomination. John McCain was no conservative favorite, but he squeaked out small pluralities while Romney and Huckabee competed for more right-wing votes. In other words, the GOP primary process is really volatile by nature. So Palin could conceivably sweep it all up by February, or she could be fighting for every last vote to the very end.

Huckabee can win the nomination. Heck, some folks in high places are guessing he will:

Obama’s aides say they will most likely set up their re-election campaign around next March, roughly the same as when Bush and Clinton incorporated their incumbent campaign operations. They are more optimistic about 2012 than they are about 2010, believing the Tea Party will re-elect Barack Obama by pulling the Republican nominee to the right. They doubt Sarah Palin will run and figure Mitt Romney cannot get the Republican nomination because he enacted his own health care program in Massachusetts. If they had to guess today, some in the White House say that Obama will find himself running against Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor.

But what do they know?

Second: On Bloomberg. I have to agree with Ann Althouse on this — I think Heilemann is perhaps a little to goofy over the prospect of a Bloomberg presidential run to begin with. He’s written on the topic plenty in the past, and while I take seriously the veracity of his reporting, serious third party runs are such gargantuan (and quixotic) undertakings, even for billionaires, that the political environment would have to be perfectly tuned for the precise candidate in question. Thanks to two-party entrenchment, a mere lack of enthusiasm for the main contenders would not suffice.

I find the proposed threshold for Bloomberg’s entrance also an example of wishful thinking by the folks Heilemann’s been talking to. I could see Bloomberg sensing an opening with Obama’s approval in the 30s, but low 40s? That’s pretty near where he is now, and at this point I don’t see a serious challenger to Obama in the 2012 general election. Obama will have to lose so much of the country’s faith and good will to make impeachment by a wingnut Congress as likely than an electoral loss.

And as hungry for the office as Bloomberg might be, I don’t believe for a second he’d want to be the reason someone like Palin ascended to the presidency (nor would he be okay with a President Huckabee or President Gingrich). He’d have to be near-certain, as Heilemann notes, that he would win. I don’t think that certainty will ever emerge.

“You are not alone. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

This is the president I voted for. The guy that Rick Hertzberg has said has the soul of a writer. (I can’t find the exact wording.) I’m struck by how sincere and heartfelt this seems.

I’m also gratified that the president has broadened the message on bullying. Gays (and those perceived as gay) are likely the most obvious and probably the most frequent (and fervent) targets of bullying, but they are certainly not the only ones. All sorts of differences are used as cheap excuses to make a person feel awful about who they are. I was tormented in school for years, and I don’t think I’ll ever really get over the damage it did to me and my sense of self. The It Gets Better project is wonderful and overdue, but I felt it was missing this key component.

It does the heart good to see the President of the United States to lend encouragement to all whose confidence and sense of worth are rent by their peers. I’m glad he had the wisdom to remind these kids that the pain they’re enduring isn’t their fault; there really is nothing about them that needs fixing. I don’t know if hearing the president say that when I was in school (Bush the First and Clinton) would have fixed anything, but it would have helped.

“You are not alone. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

This is the president I voted for. The guy that Rick Hertzberg has said has the soul of a writer. (I can’t find the exact wording.) I’m struck by how sincere and heartfelt this seems.

I’m also gratified that the president has broadened the message on bullying. Gays (and those perceived as gay) are likely the most obvious and probably the most frequent (and fervent) targets of bullying, but they are certainly not the only ones. All sorts of differences are used as cheap excuses to make a person feel awful about who they are. I was tormented in school for years, and I don’t think I’ll ever really get over the damage it did to me and my sense of self. The It Gets Better project is wonderful and overdue, but I felt it was missing this key component.

It does the heart good to see the President of the United States to lend encouragement to all whose confidence and sense of worth are rent by their peers. I’m glad he had the wisdom to remind these kids that the pain they’re enduring isn’t their fault; there really is nothing about them that needs fixing. I don’t know if hearing the president say that when I was in school (Bush the First and Clinton) would have fixed anything, but it would have helped.

The Lizard Brain of Michael Gerson


Michael Gerson, man of the god damn people

Michael Gerson has gone off the rails. Common wisdom holds that he’s one of the sane Republicans, a man of words and ideas rather than rage and wrath. I’m sorry, Mr. Gerson, we’re going to have to revoke your sanity card.

Gerson’s column this week is jaw-dropping in its pandering and its juvenility, betraying any claim he has to being considered a reasonable conservative voice. Sound strong? Go with me.

Gerson writes:

. . . President Obama has hit upon a closing argument.

“Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now,” he recently told a group of Democratic donors in Massachusetts, “and facts and science and argument [do] not seem to be winning the day all the time is because we’re hard-wired not to always think clearly when we’re scared. And the country is scared.”

[ . . . ]

Though there is plenty of competition, these are some of the most arrogant words ever uttered by an American president.

Really? Nothing in the annals of history, from the grandiose Teddy Roosevelt to maniacal Richard Nixon, reaches these heights? Nothing in the George W. Bush pantheon of idiotic verbal retches beats Obama’s observation? (Of course not; Gerson wrote a lot of Bush’s less-incoherent blather.)

Here’s what bothers him so about Obama’s words.

Obama clearly believes that his brand of politics represents “facts and science and argument.” His opponents, in disturbing contrast, are using the more fearful, primitive portion of their brains. Obama views himself as the neocortical leader — the defender, not just of the stimulus package and health-care reform but also of cognitive reasoning. His critics rely on their lizard brains — the location of reptilian ritual and aggression. Some, presumably Democrats, rise above their evolutionary hard-wiring in times of social stress; others, sadly, do not.

Can there be any doubt that this is, in fact, the case? Is there a single Republican policy proposal, a single tea-bagger regurgitation that is not one, some, or all of the following: uninformed, theocratic, fascistic, nativist, narcissistic, xenophobic, homophobic, corporatist, racist, or based on utterly willful ignorance? Even one?

If anything, Obama is being far too generous to those who follow the Republican line in the current political universe. By chalking up the rise in right-wing furor to economic fear is giving a lot of credit to the marching, bellowing hordes of imbeciles that make up the tea-baggers. It’s not liberals and Democrats threatening violence against voter registration organizations. It’s not liberals and Democrats trying to marry government and intolerant Christianity (except for this one). It’s not liberals and Democrats insisting that there be no government help for the poor, but live and die by their Social Security and Medicare.

The Democrats are a pitiful party politically, but they are the only game in town when it comes to those who are actually attempting to govern as opposed to the Republicans, who are, yes, trying to sabotage society to achieve short term political victories. “Lizard brain” is a compliment to a crowd like this.

Gerson’s not a fool. He knows all of this, but he’s doing a grotesque and pathetic version of what I call the Douthat Twist, when a more-or-less thoughtful conservative feels compelled to defend, somehow, the rottenness at the core of their movement. Almost embarrassed to be among the educated and informed, these conservatives must somehow justify their movement’s pandering and bone-throwing to the willfully ignorant, violent, and vindictive. When reason is no longer available to them, as it has not been for some time, they go for name-calling; they call these progressive politicians — their fellow Ivy League, cocktail partying, intellectual elites — snobs.

Gerson again:

One response to social stress doesn’t help at all: telling people their fears result from primitive irrationality. Obama may think that many of his fellow citizens can’t reason. But they can still vote.

Thanks for the political advice. One thing we agree on is that your mob is indeed going to show up at the polls on November 2, storm the gates, and pillage the town. But I promise you, “reasoning” will not be on the agenda.

Side note: I’m finished with the Washington Post as a standard of editorial integrity. Gerson’s nonsense coupled with the regular publishing of the pro-torture maniac Mark Theissen and the charmless fraud George Will, as well as recently hosting an intellectually dishonest, tone deaf, and morally reprehensible anti-gay screed by Tony Perkins, is too much to bear — and on top of that the firing of David Weigel just because he was nasty about Matt Drudge in a private e-mail. The Post has proven itself, in terms of national political analysis, to be beyond hope.

The Lizard Brain of Michael Gerson


Michael Gerson, man of the god damn people

Michael Gerson has gone off the rails. Common wisdom holds that he’s one of the sane Republicans, a man of words and ideas rather than rage and wrath. I’m sorry, Mr. Gerson, we’re going to have to revoke your sanity card.

Gerson’s column this week is jaw-dropping in its pandering and its juvenility, betraying any claim he has to being considered a reasonable conservative voice. Sound strong? Go with me.

Gerson writes:

. . . President Obama has hit upon a closing argument.

“Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now,” he recently told a group of Democratic donors in Massachusetts, “and facts and science and argument [do] not seem to be winning the day all the time is because we’re hard-wired not to always think clearly when we’re scared. And the country is scared.”

[ . . . ]

Though there is plenty of competition, these are some of the most arrogant words ever uttered by an American president.

Really? Nothing in the annals of history, from the grandiose Teddy Roosevelt to maniacal Richard Nixon, reaches these heights? Nothing in the George W. Bush pantheon of idiotic verbal retches beats Obama’s observation? (Of course not; Gerson wrote a lot of Bush’s less-incoherent blather.)

Here’s what bothers him so about Obama’s words.

Obama clearly believes that his brand of politics represents “facts and science and argument.” His opponents, in disturbing contrast, are using the more fearful, primitive portion of their brains. Obama views himself as the neocortical leader — the defender, not just of the stimulus package and health-care reform but also of cognitive reasoning. His critics rely on their lizard brains — the location of reptilian ritual and aggression. Some, presumably Democrats, rise above their evolutionary hard-wiring in times of social stress; others, sadly, do not.

Can there be any doubt that this is, in fact, the case? Is there a single Republican policy proposal, a single tea-bagger regurgitation that is not one, some, or all of the following: uninformed, theocratic, fascistic, nativist, narcissistic, xenophobic, homophobic, corporatist, racist, or based on utterly willful ignorance? Even one?

If anything, Obama is being far too generous to those who follow the Republican line in the current political universe. By chalking up the rise in right-wing furor to economic fear is giving a lot of credit to the marching, bellowing hordes of imbeciles that make up the tea-baggers. It’s not liberals and Democrats threatening violence against voter registration organizations. It’s not liberals and Democrats trying to marry government and intolerant Christianity (except for this one). It’s not liberals and Democrats insisting that there be no government help for the poor, but live and die by their Social Security and Medicare.

The Democrats are a pitiful party politically, but they are the only game in town when it comes to those who are actually attempting to govern as opposed to the Republicans, who are, yes, trying to sabotage society to achieve short term political victories. “Lizard brain” is a compliment to a crowd like this.

Gerson’s not a fool. He knows all of this, but he’s doing a grotesque and pathetic version of what I call the Douthat Twist, when a more-or-less thoughtful conservative feels compelled to defend, somehow, the rottenness at the core of their movement. Almost embarrassed to be among the educated and informed, these conservatives must somehow justify their movement’s pandering and bone-throwing to the willfully ignorant, violent, and vindictive. When reason is no longer available to them, as it has not been for some time, they go for name-calling; they call these progressive politicians — their fellow Ivy League, cocktail partying, intellectual elites — snobs.

Gerson again:

One response to social stress doesn’t help at all: telling people their fears result from primitive irrationality. Obama may think that many of his fellow citizens can’t reason. But they can still vote.

Thanks for the political advice. One thing we agree on is that your mob is indeed going to show up at the polls on November 2, storm the gates, and pillage the town. But I promise you, “reasoning” will not be on the agenda.

Side note: I’m finished with the Washington Post as a standard of editorial integrity. Gerson’s nonsense coupled with the regular publishing of the pro-torture maniac Mark Theissen and the charmless fraud George Will, as well as recently hosting an intellectually dishonest, tone deaf, and morally reprehensible anti-gay screed by Tony Perkins, is too much to bear — and on top of that the firing of David Weigel just because he was nasty about Matt Drudge in a private e-mail. The Post has proven itself, in terms of national political analysis, to be beyond hope.

As a Karate Expert, I Will Embed This Video

Hint: I’m not a karate anything. Just watch.

I love the theatrics, the “child’s stomach growling” bit, and his obvious sincerity about doing right by people in need. I am genuinely perplexed by the “karate expert” remark. Perhaps he just felt the voters needed to know this, regardless of the context in which it came up.

As a Karate Expert, I Will Embed This Video

Hint: I’m not a karate anything. Just watch.

I love the theatrics, the “child’s stomach growling” bit, and his obvious sincerity about doing right by people in need. I am genuinely perplexed by the “karate expert” remark. Perhaps he just felt the voters needed to know this, regardless of the context in which it came up.

Why Liberals are Wrong to Defend Conway’s “Aqua Buddha” Ad

There's plenty here to attack without the "But does he love Jesus?" crap.

I’m reading a lot of chatter in the progressive blogosphere defending Jack Conway’s repugnant “Aqua Buddha” ad against Rand Paul as some kind of real-world necessity, and that only prissy liberals could have any problem with it. If you don’t like the ad, the line of defense goes, you’re a sissy who’s rolling over for Republican onslaughts.

Bullshit. Let me be very clear about this: I have no problem with Conway going hard against Rand Paul’s hypocrisies. Conway’s ads should be rough and hard-hitting, because Paul is getting away with way too much. I even say, hell yes, question his Christian faith (remember, questioning a candidate’s religious sincerity is The Worst Thing You Can Ever Do). Question the hell out of it, because he’s been wearing Christianity on his sleeve, and probably doesn’t believe a word of it. And even if he is a sincere Christian, question his beliefs anyway. Beliefs aren’t people, they can’t be hurt. Have at.

My problem with Conway’s ad is not that it’s too low of a blow against Paul, but that it implies that if in fact Rand Paul is not a real Christian, he is therefore unqualified for the U.S. Senate. If you don’t think that’s what the ad is saying, then you didn’t pay attention.

1) The ad calls out Paul for calling the Bible a “hoax” and for “mocking Christianity and Christ” without additional context. Not “Rand Paul claims to be a Christian, but he was caught mocking Christianity,” just that he did it and that he doesn’t think the Bible is true. Translation: Rand Paul is a secret atheist, and that is apparently bad.

2) The Aqua Buddha stunt: Yes, this is a really shitty thing to do to a person, and is fair game. But the ad goes a step beyond the critique of the act in question as the narrator refers to the Buddha as “a false idol.” So, it’s not enough that he’s tying up women and forcing them to do anything? No, the ad’s real point is to show the religious infraction, the “false idol.” You can’t refer to something as a “false idol” unless it’s false in relation to a “real” or “true” deity.

3) Out of nowhere, the ad then turns to church-state separation policy with Faith-Based Initiatives and religious charity tax policy. There’s no wiggle room here — this part of the ad says that Rand Paul is not sufficiently opposed to the wall of separation, that religion isn’t getting enough privileges.

I would love an honest ad that really hit Rand Paul on his deceptions, his hypocrisy, and his crazy, batshit policy ideas. That’s not what this ad does. It calls him out for being insufficiently Christian, and that’s wrong on constitutional principles (Article VI’s “no religious test”) as well as being a gargantuan step backward for small-“S”-secularism, particularly when it comes from the Democratic Party, supposedly the only protection a secular government has left.

With friends like these.

Why Liberals are Wrong to Defend Conway’s “Aqua Buddha” Ad

There's plenty here to attack without the "But does he love Jesus?" crap.

I’m reading a lot of chatter in the progressive blogosphere defending Jack Conway’s repugnant “Aqua Buddha” ad against Rand Paul as some kind of real-world necessity, and that only prissy liberals could have any problem with it. If you don’t like the ad, the line of defense goes, you’re a sissy who’s rolling over for Republican onslaughts.

Bullshit. Let me be very clear about this: I have no problem with Conway going hard against Rand Paul’s hypocrisies. Conway’s ads should be rough and hard-hitting, because Paul is getting away with way too much. I even say, hell yes, question his Christian faith (remember, questioning a candidate’s religious sincerity is The Worst Thing You Can Ever Do). Question the hell out of it, because he’s been wearing Christianity on his sleeve, and probably doesn’t believe a word of it. And even if he is a sincere Christian, question his beliefs anyway. Beliefs aren’t people, they can’t be hurt. Have at.

My problem with Conway’s ad is not that it’s too low of a blow against Paul, but that it implies that if in fact Rand Paul is not a real Christian, he is therefore unqualified for the U.S. Senate. If you don’t think that’s what the ad is saying, then you didn’t pay attention.

1) The ad calls out Paul for calling the Bible a “hoax” and for “mocking Christianity and Christ” without additional context. Not “Rand Paul claims to be a Christian, but he was caught mocking Christianity,” just that he did it and that he doesn’t think the Bible is true. Translation: Rand Paul is a secret atheist, and that is apparently bad.

2) The Aqua Buddha stunt: Yes, this is a really shitty thing to do to a person, and is fair game. But the ad goes a step beyond the critique of the act in question as the narrator refers to the Buddha as “a false idol.” So, it’s not enough that he’s tying up women and forcing them to do anything? No, the ad’s real point is to show the religious infraction, the “false idol.” You can’t refer to something as a “false idol” unless it’s false in relation to a “real” or “true” deity.

3) Out of nowhere, the ad then turns to church-state separation policy with Faith-Based Initiatives and religious charity tax policy. There’s no wiggle room here — this part of the ad says that Rand Paul is not sufficiently opposed to the wall of separation, that religion isn’t getting enough privileges.

I would love an honest ad that really hit Rand Paul on his deceptions, his hypocrisy, and his crazy, batshit policy ideas. That’s not what this ad does. It calls him out for being insufficiently Christian, and that’s wrong on constitutional principles (Article VI’s “no religious test”) as well as being a gargantuan step backward for small-“S”-secularism, particularly when it comes from the Democratic Party, supposedly the only protection a secular government has left.

With friends like these.