Category Archives: Church and State

Republicans Make History in a Sad, Childish Way

As reported on NBC News in “Republicans decline to hear president’s budget“, the republican controlled House and Senate budget committees have made the historic decision to refuse a formal hearing of President Obama’s $4.1 Trillion  budget. Such a hearing has been a bipartisan courtesy extended to the President since the 1970’s.

The statements released by the leadership (pictured above) defend the action with assumptions and trite, personal criticism. Enzi, for example, claims that the administration is “unconcerned with our $19 trillion in debt.” Price assumes that the proposal will, “double down on the same failed policies.” The hearing, of course, would imply no acceptance of the proposed budget. It would, in fact, be an opportunity for criticism based on its actual content.

In essence, they were faced with the opportunity to be (or pretend to be) cooperative and respectful of their peers and they opted to throw a puerile public tantrum.

Verdict

The Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 requires the office of the President to submit a budget to congress, as a request, annually. It does not require Congress to hold a hearing of the submitted budget. This is the simple, bipartisan courtesy that the current leadership has chosen to ignore.

The Republican leadership responsible is charged with Dickory in the First Degree. As a result, they’re sentenced with the loss of their big-boy pants until they grow the hell up.

Ben Carson Apparently Thinks the United States and “The Howdy Doody Show” are the Same Age

Ben_Carson_at_CPAC_2015As reported by RawStory.com in “Ben Carson: Pledge of Allegiance and other ‘founding documents’ prove America is a Christian nation” Ben Carson is under the impression that the United States is, tops, 60 years old. The soft-spoken Republican Presidential Candidate and former neurosurgeon told a gathering in Gainesville, GA that he would work to place God at the “center” of American culture:

“The pledge of allegiance to our flag says we are one nation under God. Many courtrooms in the land on the wall it says ‘In God We Trust.’ Every coin in our pocket, every bill in our wallet says ‘In God We Trust. So if it’s in our founding documents, it’s in our pledges, in our courts and it’s on our money, but we’re not supposed to talk about it, what in the world is that?”

In light of this we’d like to remind Ben that “In God we Trust” was only made the national motto in 1956. It was 1957 that the phrase began appearing on paper currency (although it had appeared on some coins as early as 1864). As for the pledge, it was written in 1892 and officially adopted in 1945. However the phrase “under God” wasn’t added until 1954. It’s also worth noting that none of these are clear about exactly which God is to be trusted here.

Verdict

For those – like Mr. Carson – that need a refresher history course: None of these happened during the actual founding of the country. Rather, all of these changes were direct results of the Red Scare and McCarthyism. Seemingly, Ben Carson prefers decisions made during a period of mass hysteria and distrust by a paranoid, homophobic blowhard rather than the considered opinions of our actual Founding Fathers.

Carson is either demonstrating willful ignorance or flat out lying. In either case he earns a sentence of Dickory in the First Degree.

Many People in Idaho don’t Understand the Constitution

Idaho RepbulicansAs reported by John Timmer in Ars Technica, “Idaho Republicans want Bible in schools for ‘astronomy, biology, geology’“, the State Republican Party Central Committee of Idaho doesn’t understand the laws of the country in which they operate. In an otherwise rather dull set of proposed resolution they’ve included Resolution 2015-P20, “A Resolution Supporting Bible Use in Idaho Public Schools“.

In short the resolution, basically, says that 1) because both the state Constitution and the state Republican platform mentions a god, 2) that they believe a known lie about congress promoting the use of The Bible in schools in 1782 and 3) that the Supreme Court has upheld the use of The Bible in schools when used as piece of historical literature that it should be legal to use it all over the damn place (emphasis added):

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED,That the Idaho County Central Committee encourages the Idaho legislature to draft and support a bill stating that the Bible is expressly permitted to be used in Idaho public schools for reference purposes to further the study of literature, comparative religion, English and foreign languages, U.S. and world history, comparative government, law, philosophy, ethics, astronomy, biology, geology, world geography, archaeology, music, sociology, and other topics of study where an understanding of the Bible may be useful or relevant;

The resolution is mum as to why The Bible would be appropriate for use in Biology and Astronomy but not, say, Mathematics or Physics.

Verdict

As most school-children (well, at least those not in Idaho) are likely aware: use of The Bible in public schools, outside of its legitimate standing as a piece of literature, is an illegal promotion of religion. It’s sad that those wishing to run the country can’t be bothered to learn how it works.

The Committee’s ignorant, and likely willful, misunderstanding of the law earns them a shared charge of Dickory in the First Degree.

Classic Sadness: Peter Palumbo calls Jessica Alquist “Evil”

PeterPalumboJessica Ahlquist was 16 in 2011 when she questioned and then, with the help of the ACLU, brought legal action against her high school for prominently displaying an official Christian School Prayer.  After nearly a year she (obviously) won her case.

Jessica earned few friends locally with her brave actions.  She was repeatedly bullied by both other students and teachers, anonymously threatened with physical violence, rape and death and even earned the public ire of several famous conservatives.  As vile as these were however our concern is with Peter Palumbo, her local state representative.

Peter decided to sum up his feelings about Jessica on a local talk radio station where he labeled her an “evil little thing“. This is detailed more fully in these Examiner.com and Cranston.patch.com pieces. This elected official singled out a child brave enough to suffer threat and insult to defend our constitution as “evil”. Soledad O’Brien interviews Jessica about this in this CNN clip from 2012:

On a positive note while Jessica lost many local friends she gained thousands of admirers around the world.  So much so that Hemant Mehta, of FriendlyAtheist.com, was able to raise over $40,000 from the atheist/freethinker community to fund her future education.

Verdict

Palumbo, like many politicians, fails to understand the Constitution.  By his statements he places personal beliefs above his civic duty.  He is most sad however – desperately, terribly sad – for attacking a little girl that clearly could do his job better than he can.

A good man, if he disagreed with her, might have engaged Jessica on the issue.  He might have admired her bravery and the sheer gumption she displayed at so young an age.  He could have marveled that a child still too young to vote would have such a passion for the foundational ideals of our country.

Palumbo took another path: he called her names.  Rep. Palumbo earns twin charges of platinum-level Dickory and Dumbassery – and our eternal disdain.

Another Sad Man doesn’t Understand the Constitution

DennisKruseTo add to our unfortunately regular theme of elected officials that simply do not understand the Constitution JCOnline.com reports that Indiana Sen. Dennis Kruse files bill that would allow schools to require saying Lord’s Prayer.  The Huffington Post has another take.

The bill would allow schools to require daily recitation of “The Lord’s Prayer” (although apparently students could opt out with parental permission).  Kruse is well known for repeatedly attempting to introduce bills which would allow the teaching of creationism in public schools.  In a clear attempt at irony Kruse, a longtime state senator, is the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

Happily it does look like the bill has very little chance of reaching a vote.  Senate President Pro Tempore David Long feels that Kruse may have backed the bill “to make a statement, not expecting a hearing.”  Although he clearly understands the issue Long is still a politician and equivocates his statement:

“It’s a clear violation of the interpretation of the First Amendment by the United States Supreme Court.  It’s not a personal opinion on my part.”

On the positive side he did assign the bill to a procedural committee known as a “burial ground” for bad legislation.

Verdict

Kruse’s willful misunderstanding of the law earns him a clear charge of Dickory in the First Degree.  However his persistent and repeated offenses show a marked lack of remorse.  We find no recourse but to brand him a repeat offender and place him on the national registry.

Mr. Kruse you must now visit your constituents, door-to-door, and inform them that they have an asshat resident in their legislative body.

Mike Huckabee is a Sad, Sad Man

Wikipedia, Mike HuckabeeAs reported by The Huffington Post Mike Huckabee took a time of national tragedy to both lie and advance his agenda.  Speaking on the tragic shooting of 27 people in Newtown, Conn. he began with:

“We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools.  Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?”

Not having made a big enough ass of himself he continued:

“We don’t have a crime problem, a gun problem or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem.  And since we’ve ordered God out of our schools, and communities, the military and public conversations, you know we really shouldn’t act so surprised … when all hell breaks loose.”

As a member of government and former presidential hopeful we have to assume that Huckabee has, at least once, read the Constitution.   We feel confident in saying that he’s willfully misunderstanding the difference between preventing schools from forcing God down their students throats and “ordering him out”.

We’d also love to visit wherever it is that God has been ordered out of public conversations as we’ve never been there or seen it on the news.

Finally we must ask (not being religious ourselves): how insulting to the faithful is the intimation that God is such an vainglorious asshole that he allowed children to die because we’ve eliminated forced school prayer?

Verdict

For continuing to perpetuate the myth that “God is not allowed in schools” and for using God as some kind of ridiculous boogeyman he earns a charge of Felony Dumbassery.  For using this tragedy to further his own agenda (especially with repeatedly debunked lies and misinformation) he earns multiple counts of Felony Dickory.

On a personal note the court would also like the following comment entered into the record: Fuck you, Mike Huckabee.  Fuck you.

Sad Judge Doesn’t Understand the Constitution

As reported by the New York Times in “Constitution Experts Denounce Oklahoma Judge’s Sentencing of Youth to Church“, Judge Mike Norman (Oklahoma) recently sentenced a teen DUI offender to 10 years of regular church attendance.  Forgoing the obvious jokes about this sentence being worse that prison it should be clear to anybody with a Junior High School level understanding of the constitution that this is patently illegal.  Amazing this judge reached his position without this basic understanding.  When asked about the ruling he said:

“I feel like church is important.  I sentenced him to go to church for 10 years because I thought I could do that.”  He followed later with, “I think it would hold up, but I don’t know one way or another.” and “I think Jesus can help anybody. I know I need help from him every day.”

Constitution Daily delves into the issue much more clearly than we ever could in their excellent article, “Constitution Check: Can a judge send a criminal to church instead of prison?”  Spoiler: the answer is “no”.  One of the foundational aspects of the Constitution is that it prevents government from either compelling or prohibiting religious practice in any way.

Verdict

Judge Norman is, if we may be so bold, clearly an unschooled idiot.  For this reason we can find no true malice in his actions.  He did use his position to unlawful force his religious views on others however and we find that we must sadly find him guilty of Dumbassery in the First Degree.  We sentence him to actually read the Constitution (or at least the Cliff Notes version).