Pharisees in Republican Guise

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal had just cause to tell the Republican Party to stop being the stupid party.  Currently, the GOP is faced with a case of stupidity coming from some Republican members of the North Carolina legislature.

Here is an excerpt from a story published by the Charlotte Observer:

Two Rowan County [NC] lawmakers drew nationwide attention Wednesday for pushing a resolution that says North Carolina and its counties and towns have the right to establish an official religion.

Rep. Carl Ford, a Republican from China Grove, and Salisbury Republican Rep. Harry Warren filed the measure this week as Rowan commissioners gear up to fight a lawsuit that seeks to end their habit of opening meetings with specifically Christian prayers.

But the resolution delved deeper.

It acknowledges that the U.S. Constitution prevents Congress from creating an official religion.

But the First Amendment prohibition, the resolution argues, doesn’t apply to states, counties or towns – despite federal court rulings to the contrary. It asks the legislature to adopt a resolution supporting their right to set up their own religious laws.

Contrary to what Allahpundit, the Huffington Post and others are reporting, what the NC legislators have submitted isn’t a bill that could be signed into law. Instead, it is a resolution.

The Charlotte Observer reports, “Resolutions like the Defense of Religion Act generally have no lasting effect beyond the legislative sessions, do not require the governor’s signature and are commonly used to create study commissions or honor groups like veterans. If passed, it would not become a law.”

Over at Outside the Beltway, Doug Mataconis makes the following comment:

Incorporation of the Bill of Rights via the 14th Amendment is a long-standing legal concept that the Supreme Court has never shown any inclination to reconsider it. North Carolina’s action, of course, would be a clear violation of the 1st Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which the Court found applicable to the states in Everson v. Board of Education, a case decided back in 1947.  So, basically, these 11 North Carolina Republicans are proposing something that is blatantly unconstitutional. I hope they’re proud of themselves.

So, what inspired these Keystone Cops Republicans to submit a resolution that contradicts SCOTUS rulings?

WRAL in North Carolina reports the following:

A resolution filed by Republican lawmakers would allow North Carolina to declare an official religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Bill of Rights, and seeks to nullify any federal ruling against Christian prayer by public bodies statewide.

The resolution grew out of a dispute between the American Civil Liberties Union and the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. In a federal lawsuit filed last month, the ACLU says the board has opened 97 percent of its meetings since 2007 with explicitly Christian prayers.

Overtly Christian prayers at government meetings are not rare in North Carolina. Since the Republican takeover in 2011, the state Senate chaplain has offered an explicitly Christian invocation virtually every day of session, despite the fact that some senators are not Christian.

In a 2011 ruling on a similar lawsuit against the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals did not ban prayer at government meetings outright, but said prayers favoring one religion over another are unconstitutional.

“To plant sectarian prayers at the heart of local government is a prescription for religious discord,” the court said. “Where prayer in public fora is concerned, the deep beliefs of the speaker afford only more reason to respect the profound convictions of the listener. Free religious exercise posits broad religious tolerance.”

This particular brouhaha would have been avoided if the Rowan County commissioners had paid attention to what Jesus said about public displays of piety.

Here is an excerpt from the Sermon on the Mount:

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. . . And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.*

The inclusion of a Christian prayer in an official government meeting isn’t something that the New Testament requires, and the First Amendment doesn’t prevent people from having an informal group prayer before the start of an official government meeting.

The GOP isn’t harmed by individual members practicing the Christian faith. Instead, the GOP is harmed by Pharisees in Republican guise. Hopefully, party leaders will learn the difference between the two.

Side Note: Nothing in the First Amendment prevents government officials or government employees from having a time of private prayer on government property.

[*Quote Source – Matthew 6:1,5-6 (ESV) ]

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  • herddog505

    Here is the text of the resolution:

    JOINT RESOLUTION to proclaim the Rowan County, North Carolina, Defense of Religion Act of 2013.

    Whereas, the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States reads:”…Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of Religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”; and

    Whereas, this prohibition does not apply to states, municipalities, or schools; and

    Whereas, in recent times, the federal judiciary has incorporated states, municipalities, and schools into the Establishment Clause prohibitions on Congress; and

    Whereas, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”; and

    Whereas, the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States prohibits the federal government and prohibits the federal courts from expanding the powers of the federal government beyond those powers which are explicitly enumerated; and

    Whereas, the Constitution of the United States does not grant the federal government and does not grant the federal courts the power to determine what is or is not constitutional; therefore, by virtue of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the power to determine constitutionality and the proper interpretation and proper application of the Constitution is reserved to the states and to the people; and

    Whereas, each state in the union is sovereign and may independently determine how that state may make laws respecting an establishment of religion; and

    Whereas, Rowan County, North Carolina, asserts that the protections afforded to citizens of the United States under the First Amendment are not in any way to be abridged when such citizens become government actors by virtue of their appointment, election, contract, employment, or otherwise engagement; and

    Whereas, Rowan County, North Carolina, requests and encourages the North Carolina General Assembly to pass a resolution declaring that the State of North Carolina does not recognize the authority of federal judicial opinions arising from the exertion of powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States; Now, therefore,

    Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring:

    SECTION 1. The North Carolina General Assembly asserts that the Constitution of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

    SECTION 2. The North Carolina General Assembly does not recognize federal court rulings which prohibit and otherwise regulate the State of North Carolina, its public schools, or any political subdivisions of the State from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.

    SECTION 3. This resolution is effective upon ratification.


    Contrary to what hysterical lefties make out, this does NOT establish a state religion for North Carolina. Rather, it is a statement of nullification, in effect telling Uncle Sugar that he hasn’t got the power or authority to tell the State of North Carolina (specifically the County of Rowan) how to conduct its business.

    I agree with certain broad premises of the resolution: Uncle Sugar HAS grossly overstepped the authorities granted by the United States Constitution, and it’s about time that the States asserted their own rights and powers with greater vigor.

    That being said…


    I can hardly imagine a more stupid, pointless, useless, devisive, destructive, imbecilic resolution that they might have passed (of course, I’m not a politician, so my ability to be an idiot – even when drunk as a lord – has its limits). Had they simply passed a resolution stating that the State of North Carolina does not recognized the Supreme Court’s authority to regulate (i.e. forbid) prayers at public / official functions, that would have been brainless enough, but to assert that our state has the authority to establish a religion if we so desire??? That’s not only plainly nuts, but it flies in the face of our own state constitution (specifically Art. I, sec. 13), which guarantees the freedom of religion and of conscience.**

    I have written to my representatives asking them to repudiate this cowpat of a resolution and see to it that it goes no further in the legislative process than the nearest wastebasket.

    Honestly, I’m wondering if we need to institute drug and sobriety testing in Raleigh. I gave up on mental competency a long time ago…



    (**) Though, oddly enough, one must be a monotheist to hold office in our state according to Art. VI sec. 8:

    The following persons shall be disqualified for office:

    First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God…

    • JWH

      Whereas, the Constitution of the United States does not grant the federal government and does not grant the federal courts the power to determine what is or is not constitutional; therefore, by virtue of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the power to determine constitutionality and the proper interpretation and proper application of the Constitution is reserved to the states and to the people;

      Do they even realize how dangerous this is??

      • herddog505

        Obviously not. I’d suggest to them to read Marbury v Madison or even Bayard v Singleton, but I doubt that it would do a lick of good.

        I understand the tension between the states and the federal government as well as that between the legislature and the judiciary, but this resolution is simple lunacy.

        • JWH

          This reminds me of something that happened in Louisiana recently. The state legislature went to some trouble to put together a school voucher program that could channel state money into private religious schools.

          In addition to a number of Christian schools seeking money, a Muslim school also applied …. and then all heck broke loose.

          From State Rep. Valarie Hodges:

          “I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools. … I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school.”


          • herddog505

            I like the idea of giving parents the choice to send their kids to a public school or a Christian school, too. Or a Jewish school, a Muslim school, a non-religious private school, etc.

            These people just don’t think very far ahead, do they?

          • Andrew Susanto

            Of course you do like the idea parents sending them to one race, one religion, one category school, because by separating people and not knowing each other will make them a better friends right? Just like in the past where people still hate each other and curse at each other because they are different and not knowing anything about one another, yes a good formula for ‘Peaceful Life’.

            But I agree this way The Bigots can be in one school and left the non Bigots alone.

          • herddog505

            Oh, yes, that’s JUST what I want. Sure. It has NOTHING to do with parents putting their kids into the school that they think will give their child the best education. It has NOTHING to do with people wanting to educate their children in their own culture (I thought lefties were all into that; guess not). It has NOTHING to do with allowing parents to get their kids out of failing schools, out of violent schools, out of drug-infested schools. It has NOTHING to do with parents getting their kids out of schools where, in their opinion as parents (but what do they know, right?), the kids are being taught harmful topics. Or should parents just accept it when their kindergartner comes home and tells them that teacher taught them about sex?*

            Nope: you got me.

            It’s all about the bigotry.



          • JWH

            Well, the woman pretty clearly doesn’t understand the First Amendment if she thinks that Muslim schools should be ineligible for funding simply because they are Muslim, rather than Christian, schools.

            That said, I am extremely wary of sending government money to any religiously affiliated organization. It opens up Pandora’s boxes in a couple directions. You can argue on the one hand that if a religious organization accepts Caesar’s money, then it has to play by Caesar’s rules, even if it doesn’t like those rules. And in the other direction, I think it’s entirely too easy for Caesar’s money to be inappropriately used for religious purposes.

            My oft-stated religious preferences aside, I’m also going to go on record by saying I’m not a huge fan of sending kids to religious schools. I think that sort of thing promotes cultural balkanization if, for example, the Catholic kids only associate with the other Catholic kids, the Baptists associate mainly with other Baptists, and the Muslims mainly associate with other Muslims.

            Yes, I know that kind of thing happens anyway, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to abet it.

  • herddog505

    By the way:

    For the various lefties who are having the vapors over this because it’s a violation of the First Amendment:

    1. What, in that musty ol’ document? It was written, like, more than fifty years ago by people who owned slaves, you know;

    2. And the Second Amendment?

    Oh, wait, I forgot: the lefty view of laws is that they are like items on a buffet, to be taken or not on the whim of the moment.

    • JWH

      For the various lefties who are having the vapors over this because it’s a violation of the First Amendment:

      1. What, in that musty ol’ document? It was written, like, more than fifty years ago by people who owned slaves, you know;

      I’ve never said that. Although, I would say that even as we interpret the Constitution and respect it, we should recognize it is the product of politics and compromise. It is not a perfect document chiseled in stone and given to George Washington on top of a mountain.

      2. And the Second Amendment?

      I’m perfectly fine with respecting the Second Amendment, though, like the other portions of the bill of rights, it does not create unfettered rights.

      But here’s where grand tradition of logrolling comes into play, Herd. If you and I were in the state legislature, I would probably not support your wide interpretation of Second Amendment freedoms as a doctrinal matter. But on specific bills related to it …. I might lend you support. But you’d have to support something of mine in return.

      • Wild_Willie

        So you would be fine with the Fed’s deciding what news vehicle’s are used for the public? You are fine with the Fed’s at times going through peoples homes without cause but they have a hunch? You would be for the Fed Courts to compel a person to incriminate themself?
        The Bill of Rights are clearly our rights against the government. Plain and simple. I will say that handguns and rifles of all types were the ‘arms’ of the time so we can assume they were not talking about missle lauchers. Having said that, the only news vehicles at the time were newspapers and books. You start chipping away at one, there goes the others. ww

        • JWH

          Where does any of this come from?

      • herddog505

        You may not have said those things, but your fellow lefties certainly have. Just a few weeks ago, they were trying to convince us that the Second Amendment was written solely to allow white slaveowners to be armed to keep their slaves in line. I believe that well-known lefty writer Matt Yglesias has complained that the Constitution is “more than fifty years old” and therefore oughtn’t be upheld. democrats have openly mocked even reading the document in the Congress (they know that it is a check on their plans).

        As for “unfettered rights”, I agree: we can’t shout “fire!” in a crowded theatre.

        However, I believe that putting restrictions on our rights is something to be approached VERY cautiously, and with a damned sight more need than “you don’t need that”.

        • JWH

          If my :”fellow lefties” say that, they can defend it themselves. I’m not accountable for their actions.

          • herddog505

            Would that they all took that attitude: then I and my fellow gun owners might not be held accountable for such things as the Tucson shooting, the Newtown shooting, etc.

  • herddog505

    Sorry for the serial posts…

    North Carolina’s action, of course, would be a clear violation of the 1st Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which the Court found applicable to the states in Everson v. Board of Education, a case decided back in 1947. So, basically, these 11 North Carolina Republicans are proposing something that is blatantly unconstitutional. I hope they’re proud of themselves.

    Well, in fairness to the drooling idiots who proposed and passed the resolution, public prayer has been common – nearly universal – in the United States for far longer than Emerson has been on the books.

    This, I think, is what’s behind the resolution and similar kerfluffles: people of faith in America (and there are right many of us) aren’t very happy when our prayers and other religion demonstrations such as Nativity Scenes – things that Americans have done fore decades if not centuries – are branded as “unconstitutional” by the Supreme Court.

  • Pingback: GOP “Patriots” in NC Thumb Their Collective Noses at the Constitution | The Pink Flamingo()

  • Brucehenry

    I was unaware that a provision barring nonbelievers from holding public office was in the NC constitution. Blatantly un-Constitutional. If it is ever challenged it will surely be invalidated.

    Also, too, this nullification doctrine nonsense didn’t work out so well last time they tried it — in 1861.

    Those who claim the Tenth Amendment entitles them to ignore Constitutional Amendments and Supreme Court rulings are known by two names: “Tenthers,” and kooks.

  • Par4Course

    Courtesy of Wikipedia: Prior to the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment and the development of the incorporation doctrine, the Supreme Court in 1833 held in Barron v. Baltimore that the Bill of Rights applied only to the federal, but not any state governments. Even years after the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court in United States v. Cruikshank (1876) still held that the First and Second Amendment did not apply to state governments. However, beginning in the 1920s, a series of United States Supreme Court decisions [beginning with Gitlow v. New York (1925) involving the First Amendment] interpreted the Fourteenth Amendment to “incorporate” most portions of the Bill of Rights, making these portions, for the first time, enforceable against the state governments.

    The hardest thing about traveling to North Carolina is turning your clock back 100 years.

  • JWH

    There are a LOT of issues to play with here.

    Tenth Amendment vs. Bill of Rights vs. Fourteenth Amendment. One would think that since it is held that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporated the Bill of Rights against the states by modifying the Constitution … that also means that the Fourteenth Amendment, by implication, modified the Tenth Amendment. But that’s kind of an academic debate, eh?

    Legislative Prayer and the Law. On the narrow issue of legislative prayer, the legislators do have a point. The Fourth Circuit has adopted a legislative-prayer standard that is substantively different from standards adopted in other circuits. Recently in the Ninth Circuit, for example, the Court of Appeals upheld a fairly broad legislative prayer scheme in which any local congregation was more or less invited to offer a prayer. The court noted that the reason Christians were overrepresented was because there were more Christians than other religions in the community. A similar legislative-prayer scheme did not pass muster in the Fourth Circuit. The Supreme Court hasn’t really sounded off on legislative prayer in a while.

    Legislative Prayer and the People — Personal Opinion. I suppose I should get this out of the way. As an atheist, I really, really don’t care about legislative prayer. As long as the city council’s prayer doesn’t end with ” … in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and by the way, atheists, Muslims, and Jains aren’t real Americans, so they don’t count in our Christian community,” I don’t see how a little prayer at the beginning of a city council meeting really hurts anybody. Unlike organized school prayer, we’re dealing with adults who should be reasonably secure enough in their beliefs that they’re not coerced. Besides, there are more important, more substantive and egregious violations of the Establishment Clause that should be addressed. Legislative prayer is nonsubstantive, a waste of time, and bad publicity.

    North Carolina Constitution. These legislators’ mentality gets interesting if you turn to the North Carolina Constitution. Article 1, Section 13 states:

    All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.

    This sort of language can be found in a number of state constitutions, and state courts have generally interpreted this clause in line with federal religious-liberty jurisprudence. In the first place, I wonder if these legislators are even aware of this clause, given their apparent conviction that the state of North Carolina can establish a religion if it wants to. Second, assuming their resolution had some actual binding effect, I wonder how courts would interpret Article 1, Section 13. It does appear to preserve free-exercise rights for all individuals … although, apparently, atheists would get the shaft.

    Speaking of which, this resolution’s mentality has another side effect. If the North Carolina legislature can declare the federal judiciary’s rulings a nullity, that means that, presumably, the No Religious Test clause of the federal Constitution would no longer apply to North Carolina. Briefly, the No Religious Test clause prohibits any sort of requirement that a person be a member of any religion as a condition for taking political office. This clause has been incorporated against the states via the Fourteenth Amendment. If the North Carolina legislature can nullify federal rulings on a whim, then Article 6, Section 8 (the first clause of which is currently unenforceable) will be the law of the state:

    The following persons shall be disqualified for office:

    First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.

    • herddog505

      JWHUnlike organized school prayer, we’re dealing with adults who should be reasonably secure enough in their beliefs that they’re not coerced.

      One would think.

      I would like to think that this is the result of liberal “victimology” and that everybody is looking to find a grievance, but I think that it’s more human nature to resent in any way being put upon: “How dare you even IMPLY that I’m not as good as you because I don’t look / think / act / believe as you do???”

      Further, I think that people are, on some basic level, hardwired to dislike / reject those who are “different”: this protects their societies and themselves from perhaps harmful outsiders (how the Indians must regret not lining up on the shores of Virginia and Massachusetts and killing every European who stepped out of the boat; how the Mexicans must regret not keeping those Anglos out of Coahuila y Tejas).

      By extension, people want to NOT be different or, at least, not be made to FEEL different. Hence, while I may be perfectly comfortable and confident in my beliefs and identity, it’s a damned uncomfortable thing to have it made quite clear that it’s not “normal” in a given situation or group. Humanity has quite a record of dealing (ahem) harshly with minorities.

      • JWH

        I think it’s much simpler — it’s about measuring sizes of something. You know what I’m talking about.

        • herddog505

          WHA— HOW DID YOU KN—

          I don’t want to talk about this anymore.

  • Shit. How in the hell do people get into power that think like this?

    “Oh, it’s not specifically forbidden at OUR level, therefor it must be perfectly all right and an absolutely fine idea! Why didn’t we think of this BEFORE!?!”


    Flippin’ legislative morons. Don’t they understand that the more extraneous, trivial crap they toss out, the harder it is to get serious stuff the attention it needs?

  • The_Weege_99

    A dangerous path. The same concept that restricts First Amendment to the federal government would also restrict the 2nd to the Federal government, meaning that states, counties, cities could make gun ownership illegal.
    The victories for gun rights could not have been won in DC and other places if the Bill of Rights were not law all the way down to the local level.
    That said, I will concur that the Establishment clause has been taken to ridiculous lengths, where the expression or image of any religious idea (well, mainly Christian) in any public venue is considered a crime. As if a valedictorian expressing their faith in a graduation speech “establishes” a religion.

  • jim_m

    I think it is generally accepted that the First Amendment is incorporated against the states, in fact I am sure a lawyer could come up with some case law pretty quickly.

    Why is it that our political class comes from the most ignorant, most incompetent amongst us? GOP idiots claim that the Bill of Rights is not incorporated against the states and Dem idiots claim that the constitution doesn’t bind Congress or that islands can capsize, or that the government can just print as much money as it wants to cover unlimited spending.

    236 years ago our government was composed of the best and brightest that a generation had to offer. Today it is composed of people who couldn’t make an honest living doing something productive, people whose primary skills are avoiding felony convictions.

    • “Why is it that our political class comes from the most ignorant, most incompetent amongst us?”

      Bluntly? The majority are two steps (maybe just one) above a common con-man. They’ve figured out what they’ve got to tell people to get elected and how to work the system, and once they’re actually in office the bastards put the majority of their efforts into making sure they REMAIN in office, not doing what’s actually best for their constituents.

      You’ve noticed over time, I imagine, that Democrats are great at promising stuff… but lousy at delivering it – and they make up for that lack by relentless self-promotion. Self-confident, they’d have been GREAT con-men if they’d gotten into the business. (Though you could argue that they are, and that Obama’s the ultimate con man who will be worshiped for generations to come by the scammers and grifters.)

      Republicans, on the other hand, have gotten so fearful of any sort of scorn from the Democrats that they’re paralyzed… doing just enough (in many cases) to keep their seats. Think of them as con men who know they’ve got a good thing going, and will shut up and go along to keep their cushy rides.

      So naturally the ones who come along who AREN’T visibly in the ‘Brotherhood’, so to speak, are the ones who are immediately targeted and discredited as quickly as practical. (Witness Palin, Romney, Rubio, Jindal, Christie…) They’ve got potential to upset the applecart – so they can’t be allowed traction.

      And then you’ve got the low-level fuckups on both sides – with this as an example. If there were (D)s after the name, this wouldn’t rate more than a passing mention with the addendum that it was non-binding or unconstitutional, and quickly ignored. But that (R)? Paint a bullseye – there’s a new target coming up for everyone to shoot at!

      It gets tiresome.

      • JWH

        I think it’s a mistake to assume the political class of any past generation was composed of saints, but today’s political class is composed of nincompoops.

        • jim_m

          Fine then. In the past we had a bunch of power hungry jerks who at the very least were somewhat constrained by a belief in the rule of law and who had some sort of moral compass.

          Today we have veritable morons, who are ignorant of basic facts on how the world is, who have no scruple about defrauding the public for their own personal enrichment, hold themselves completely above the law and are unwilling to enforce it upon themselves and their colleagues partners in crime.

          • We always have – see my reference above to Brinkley’s book… but now we see (thanks to the internet) their idiocy unfiltered by the media and starkly in focus instead of blurred by historians.

          • JWH

            I would argue that the political men and women of any age are chiefly concerned with their own power or with sectional interests. What is uncertain in any given age is the presence of a great leader who can overcome both his own foibles and those of his fellow political “leaders” to create something greater than him- or herself.

            In modern times, I can think of only one leader of this caliber — Nelson Mandela.

          • jim_m

            Hardly a good example of that. I suppose if you are ideologically aligned you would think that. Had Mandela really risen above the partisan politics SA would not be the mire it is today.

          • herddog505

            I agree that our elected leaders have most of them NEVER been of especially high caliber. I recall reading the President Washington, early in his first term, went down to Congress to consult with the members about one thing or another, and was so disgusted by the stupidity, rapacity, and dishonesty he encountered that he vowed that he’d be damned before he’d ever go back.

            I suggest that this is the genius behind the Constitution, however: the Founding Fathers KNEW that the people would elect cheats, thieves and idiots (though I make no doubt that they ever thought it would be as bad as it often has been), and so they tried to fix it to where, if the inmates were allowed to run the asylum, they couldn’t do too much damage. The left’s policies over the past several decades have been to undo those safeguards. Consider Tom Friedman’s infamous wishes that we could, even for one day, be more like Red China so that the president could “get things done”.

            History shows that, when leaders have too much power to “get things done”, one of the things that they frequently do is start stacking the corpses. Lefties seemed to understand that when Bush was in office; now that they’ve got the reins of power, they’re not so interested in checks and balances.*


            (*) And don’t think that I don’t fear that Republicans would do the same if given the chance. As shown by the votes of those fools in Raleigh, Republicans have absolutely no claims to wisdom or restraint.

        • I agree, mostly. Some are capable and competent – but they’re drowned out by the nincompoops.

          You might want to pick up a copy of “Washington Goes To War” by David Brinkley. In the 1935 to 1945 timeframe, it’s a damned wonder we didn’t lose because of the idiocy of the long-term seatholders in Congress. It was the few capable and competent that had to shove aside the majority of assholes looking to enrich themselves and their districts.

          • JWH

            Thanks. I’ll put that on my reading list. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend Lincoln. Though I’m sure it takes more than a few liberties with history, I think that movie does a really nice job of showing how Washington makes sausage.

          • My lovely bride has it, we’ll be watching it soon I’m sure…

          • JWH

            I saw it in the theater. Really good movie. Though from what I’ve read, Daniel Day-Lewis takes his method acting a little too seriously.

          • JWH

            When it comes to presidents, I tend to think of them in tiers. You have the completely incompetent (e.g., James Buchanan, Jimmy Carter), the merely competent (most of them), the very good (e.g., Eisenhower, Teddy Roosevelt) , and the truly great (Washington, Lincoln, FDR).

            I also think that it’s dangerous to categorize/rank presidents until there’s been at least a generation or so since they left office.

            What really strikes me about the modern American political scene is that there seem to be no stand-out members of the legislature. When was the last time we had a Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster, or Stephen Douglas in the Senate?

          • They don’t stand out properly. Instead you’ve got Pelosi and Reid. You aren’t going to have anyone allowed to upstage them.

            And I’m not so sure about FDR – I think his ideas and ideology might well have extended the Great Depression far past where it should have been… but that’s as may be. He did a lot of the right things in WW2, which was when it counted.

          • JWH

            I’m not a scholar of the era, but I sometimes get the feeling that they were taking the spaghetti approach to addressing the Great Depression — throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see what sticks.

            That said, I still prefer things like the WPA over a lot of the current welfare situation and continual extension of unemployment insurance. The WPA’s biggest good, IMO, was that it got people to work, rather than just throwing cash at them.

            Full confession: I once spent almost eight months on unemployment after I was let go from a job. It was probably one of the most humiliating spans of my life. In retrospect, I would have been happier if the government had paid me to do something — anything — rather than just shovel money at me.

          • I know that feeling. Every unemployment check I got seemed, in my opinion, a great big label saying “LOSER! I”M GOING TO A LOSER! HE CAN’T HOLD A JOB! WHAT A LOSER!”

            Hell of an incentive to find a job… and I’d usually take anything I could find. Haven’t seen one of those in 14 years, so here’s hoping I can manage to avoid them in the future.

            Re the era, you might also like Shlaes’ “The Forgotten Man”

            The spaghetti approach is an apt metaphor – but there wasn’t any way they were going to try throwing meatballs. A lot of FDR’s group blamed the companies and corporations, and saw only government as the way to drag up the common man and alleviate the economic malaise. (Which led to all sorts of ridiculous things – like prosecuting a tailor because he charged 5 cents LESS to press a suit than was allowed by law.) And when WW2 hit, they weren’t at all happy about throwing money at the manufacturers. Businessmen who actually knew what they were doing were looked upon with great suspicion…


            Like I said, it’s a damned wonder we managed to win.

          • JWH

            I will say, though, that WPA gave us some interesting treasures. Among other things, there was a project that employed a lot of writers to fan out across America collecting stories and writing essays.

            At the time, members of Congress criticized a lot of the work as left-wing propaganda … and they probably had a point. But at the same time, that work today is considered very useful. A lot of it tells how people lived their everyday lives in different parts of the country at the time. AND one of the sub-projects involved interviewing some of the last living individuals who could give firsthand accounts of life under slavery.

            I’ve avoided the unemployment dole myself since my experience, although it’s sometimes a touch and go thing. I particularly remember the dispiriting ritual of sending out resumes (no responses) and dunning temp agencies in my field (there’ll be work. Maybe!). And McJobs and retail weren’t really options because those employers knew I’d bolt as soon as something opened in my field.

            I actually have a friend who’s had a rough time of it. She’s got bounced from a job and has drifted from temp project to temp project. She actually does pretty well when the temp work is coming in, but she’s had to put in for unemployment and food stamps at various times.

            I kind of have a love-hate relationship with critics of social-services programs. I understand a lot of their arguments regarding making people dependent on government and so forth, but on the other hand, I think you get a different perspective if you’ve actually needed those programs at some point in your life, or if you know people who have had to do so.

            Incidentally, take a drive through this piece:


            Yes, yes, Mother Jones is an unabashedly liberal magazine, but that article gives a pretty good sense of warehouse work near the bottom of the economic heap.

          • I’ve been at the bottom of the heap. Part-time bookstore clerk doesn’t pay well, though they had all the books I could read. 😉

            Warehouse work like that would have been a big step up.

          • herddog505

            JWHThe WPA’s biggest good, IMO, was that it got people to work, rather than just throwing cash at them.

            Agreed. The country got something for its money*, and the men got something, too: a sense of pride and at least some self-sufficiency as well as some useful job experience.


            (*) My grandfather, for example, helped build some of the roads and bridges in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park; I went to junior high school in a building built by the WPA, and my guess is that Nelson County will have a job demolishing it when the time comes as the thing was built as though to survive a nuclear attack.

          • JWH

            I would take a pretty (heh) liberal approach to funding a new WPA-type program. I think that there’s merit not just to putting people to work, but putting them to work in their field. In addition to trails, bridges, and whatnot, how about these?

            * Pay unemployed lawyers to work for public-defender programs nationwide.
            * Put unemployed computer geeks to work on a national wireless broadband intitiative
            * Pay unemployed mimes to jump into North Korea.

          • herddog505

            As I recall, there was some effort to do that sort of thing in the New Deal: artists would paint murals or do other public beautification, writers would record oral histories, etc.

            My thought (and it’s bad news for our country if I’m right) is that the current crop of college grads not only don’t want to do useful or even not-so-useful work, they CAN’T. After spending several years partying on the way to a BA in Homosexual Romanian Impressionist Poetry in the Late Ceaucescu Period, they know how to do no work beyond pumping a beer keg.

            (Please understand that I don’t make myself out to be some renaissance man, perfectly happy – nay, EAGER – to spend my days working in field, shop, lab or office. And maybe I’m just an old fuddy-duddy, but I really wonder at the kids these days: do they know how to do ANYTHING but play X-box, party, text, and Farmville?)

          • JWH

            You are an old fuddy-duddy, Herd. Very few of these kids have degrees in something like “Homosexual Romanian Impressionist Poetry int he Late Ceaucescu Period.” That’s not a BA. It sounds more like a Ph.D. Actually, a lot of them have degrees in things like communications, political science, or social work. Not exactly money-making degrees, but degrees that in the past would have funneled them into a middle-class lifestyle.

            I actually graduated in the mid-90s with a communications degree … and I did OK for myself. Enough that I was able to do my job, put a roof over my head, and play video games.

            PS. You’d better get the waterhose. I think the neighborhood kids are about to walk on your lawn.

          • herddog505

            What makes for a “statesman”? McConnell, though he appears to be such a nonentity that I can’t even come up with a derisive name for him (and when *I* can’t do that, it says something!) is apparently a very good parliamentarian. Dingy Harry, though a corrupt idiot, also seems to know his way around the rulebook. SanFran Nan, though a hateful, bitter fool, seemed to have a good grip on her job as Speaker, as does Crybaby Boehner. In short, they seem competent within the narrow bounds of what they are expected to do.

            I suggest that our modern leaders really haven’t got to be “good”: the problems the United States face today simply don’t require them to make any really hard decisions. Instead, they squabble at the margins: “Shall we overspend by $100B or by $150B? Shall we pass a law that f*cks over 100M people, or only 50M? Shall we cater to this group of Americans, or that group?”

            Slavery, the Great Depression, World War II, the bad years of the Cold War… those were existential problems that required at least some men to be Great. Now… all that’s required of our ruling class is that they be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We don’t even expect them to pass a budget any more, fer cryin’ out loud…

  • Paul Hooson

    Probably, the GOP needs to pay a public image consultant to avoid a few of these stories. I also well understand Jindal’s frustration when so many public image opportunities for the Republican Party only present themselves so poorly.

    My favorite bad moment from last week…when Representative Don Young from Alaska told a story of how his father used to hire “wetbacks” to work their property. It’s stuff like this that really impresses a household like mine where my relatives and extended family members are Mexicans, Brazilians, Blacks and Jews. A lot of households aren’t entirely White these days, and this type of insensitivity is way overdue to go the way of the horse and buggy. But, no doubt Jindal had to put up with own his share of racial crap as well on his path to becoming governor.

  • JWH

    Looks like the state House speaker took the bill behind the barn:

  • sabbahillel

    The GOP isn’t harmed by individual members practicing the Christian
    faith. Instead, the GOP is harmed by Pharisees in Republican guise.
    Hopefully, party leaders will learn the difference between the two.

    Actually your use of the term “Pharisee” is incorrect. The Pharisees were not hypocrites. They were honest, humble, pious men who saved the Jewish people from destruction. The connection of the word “Pharisee” with the concept of “hypocrite” was done by their enemies who realized that they would be unable to defeat them (and destroy the Jewish religion) if they were honest about what the Pharisees stood for and how the real Pharisees behaved.

    The prime example of a “Pharisee” was the original Hillel in the time of the second temple who was beloved for his modesty, wisdom, and piety. It is his example that we still follow today.

    • jim_m

      I believe that you will find a difference between the understanding of Pharisees as found in the Christian Bible and your own.

      • sabbahillel

        Actually that is the point. The description of the Pharisees as “hypocrites” is similar to the leftist description of the Tea party as “racist” and “tea baggers” and for much the same reason. All I can do is point out the mistake when people use the term improperly. The term “Pharisee” is an artifact of late second temple period (before Christianity was invented) and is not found in the Torah, Prophets, or Writings (the three parts of the bible which was canonized befaore the second temple was built.). It meant extremely pious and meticulous in one’s ways.