Suing the Anti-Christ

Most lawyers I know–Republican and Democrat alike–are incredulous at the decision of GOP House members to bring a lawsuit against the President.  There is simply no legal or factual basis for such a suit, and it is highly unlikely to survive even minimal judicial scrutiny. Even if the allegations against President Obama were all true, the remedy would be political, not judicial.

(There is, of course, the added irony of the GOP’s requested remedy–immediate implementation of a provision of the Affordable Care Act that they tried repeatedly to eliminate. Say what?)

Most commentators have looked at the incoherence and the bluster, and have concluded–reasonably enough–that the whole thing is simply an effort to placate and motivate an increasingly rabid base. And while I’m sure that’s true, it begs the question: why the intense hatred of this President? Why the insistence that he’s a gay Muslim born in Kenya who is intent on destroying the “real” America?

Even Bush and Clinton haters didn’t engage in these levels of fantasy and invective. Of course, Bush and Clinton were white, and the racist component of Obama hatred is hard to miss, but it doesn’t explain everything. I think a recent article from the Daily Beast, by Jack Schwartz, sheds a good deal of light on the phenomenon with which we are dealing.

The mark of a national political party in a democracy is its pluralistic quality, i.e. the ability to be inclusive enough to appeal to the broadest number of voters who may have differing interests on a variety of issues. While it may stand for certain basic principles, a party is often flexible in applying them, as are its representatives in fulfilling them. Despite the heated rhetoric of elections and the bombast of elected representatives, they generally seek consensus with the minority in order to achieve their legislative goals.

But when religion is thrown into the mix, all that is lost. Religion here doesn’t mean theology but a distinct belief system which, in totality, provides basic answers regarding how to live one’s life, how society should function, how to deal with social and political issues, what is right and wrong, who should lead us, and who should not. It does so in ways that fulfill deep-seated emotional needs that, at their profoundest level, are devotional. Given the confusions of a secular world being rapidly transformed by technology, demography, and globalization, this movement has assumed a spiritual aspect whose adepts have undergone a religious experience which, if not in name, then in virtually every other aspect, can be considered a faith.

Religions have doctrines, to which the faithful must subscribe. Nonbelievers aren’t just folks with whom you disagree, they’re heretics. (As Schwartz notes, heretics are primaried only because they can’t be burned at the stake.) And Obama? He’s the Anti-Christ. The Devil.

Allowing Obama to win anything–a court case, a legislative victory, an election–is blasphemy. In the minds of the faithful (if “minds” is the right word), Obama’s continued presence in the White House is the continued triumph of evil.

This is all quite insane, of course. Unfortunately, it’s an accurate description of what the “base” of today’s GOP believes–a description of the beast that party leadership must continually feed in order to stay in power.

Only a massive political loss will lance this boil. If Democrats and sane Republicans don’t turn out in November, the crazy–and the attendant dysfunction– will just continue.


  1. The mark of a national political party in a democracy is its pluralistic quality, i.e. the ability to be inclusive enough to appeal to the broadest number of voters who may have differing interests on a variety of issues. While it may stand for certain basic principles, a party is often flexible in applying them, as are its representatives in fulfilling them. Despite the heated rhetoric of elections and the bombast of elected representatives, they generally seek consensus with the minority in order to achieve their legislative goals.

    The above copied and pasted paragraph by Mr. Schwartz paraphrases the meaning of Barack Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope”. His hope and mine, were and are, that the elected members of both parties could – and would – sit at the bargaining table as they did in the past and seek resolutions to problems. This is the basis for the founding of America. NOT wasting years and mega-millions of our tax dollars by making ridiculous accusations, passing laws based on their personal religious beliefs and spend most of their time voting “NO” to everything put before them if they bothered doing anything at all while in session. During breaks they added up what the 1% deposited in their coffers and seek more to maintain the inactivity and continue to cast aspersions on President Obama while denying racism on any level. They seem to have sought and found new ways to target President Obama – TWICE elected by the American people – to distract from their ongoing idiocy and inactivity. Only our votes in November can begin removing a few of them from power to give the thinking elected officials a toehold in Congress. As it stands now, Congress meets the requirement for the meaning of the term “Congress” in the animal kingdom, a large group of baboons.

  2. Religion poisons everything it touches. You can see parallels in the objectives and mindsets of the Muslim extemists and our Christian extremists. Is the next phase the crusades?

  3. When I look at all the good religion is bringing to the middle east, I wonder if that is where we are headed. This kind of crazy can get very bad very quickly. All that is needed is a flash point… Like a dim wit rancher mooching off the government.

  4. From Facebook the other day. “I ordered a chicken and an egg on the Internet to see which comes first. Will keep you posted.”

    What were the chickens and eggs behind the GOP slide down to its present unenviable reality? I like to think that it was the perfect storm of Rush Limbaugh (arguably perhaps the real beginning was Archie Bunker) followed by other media trash talkers, followed by the takeover of journalism by Rupert Murdoch who recognized that if you strip away the journalism, what’s left is big bucks. Into this stepped a random low point in Republican candidates and a random high point in Democrat candidates. What cast the whole mess in concrete was the utter failure of Bush II.

    They have stepped into the only lifeboat available from such a storm. A version of the Orwellian Ministry of Truth. Of course that attracted the oligarchical flies that would be attracted to such a banquet and, miraculously Republicans had both votes and funding to carry on.

    The more votes and funding that came their way, the bigger the party got. The NRA, the fossil fuels business under attack by the waste they spawned, the evangelicals, Wall St anxious for other bubbles to exploit.

    In short, vultures who view the horses pulling pioneers into the future only as meat for today’s meals.

    How will it end?

    Each of us scrambling to beat the rest of us to the scraps, or all of us raising, preparing and serving the food for future generations?

    Could go either way.

  5. I have no hope that the sane voters will turn out this November. There doesn’t seem to be any concerted effort from the Democratic Party or other interest groups to GOTV. A recent analysis (don’t know how good it is) says there’s a 60% chance the Republicans will win control of the Senate. For many voters, it’s a foregone conclusion, so why show up at the polls? I also think too many voters feel that it doesn’t really make a difference if they vote or not. “Comcast and Citigroup get what they want no matter who is in office.”

    Now, maybe if they gave out free pizza at the polling stations…

  6. You can trace this mess back to Newt Gingrich and his toxic meme of “Democrats are just perverts who have to right to vote, hold office, or even comment.” The bewildered birthers and tea baggers today are the fools who couldn’t tell that from campaign rhetoric and decided other Americans were the enemy. Scared people with no education who “just want to do the Christian thing” are going to be herding us into concentration camps if we don’t look out, and we can thank Newt for it.

  7. Reduced to its most basic element, isn’t religion no more than a promise made by the haves that the have nots will have? All one needs to do is obey the will of the haves and you will have in the next life. Forty virgins or a mansion in the sky. Not much difference really. Now it takes a certain mentality to buy into such a contract. Easier to behold when viruses and germs were unthought of and illness had to come from evil. Few things are more evil than decease. So maybe it made sense in the day of Constantine. Hell, why chance it? (Pun!) But now we know better. Some of us know better. You and I know better……???????

  8. Interested to see your use of the word “heretic.” Are you familiar with Ross Douthat’s “Bad Religion”, where he argues that the corrupted versions of Christianity (whose followers are calling for Obama’s impeachment) are in fact heretical themselves?

    I think you could make a strong case that most of the Evangelical Fundamentalists out there who spout this Anti-Christ stuff actually represent a pretty debased form of Christianity, mixed up with a lot of bad modernist theology — which is why it bothers me when people on comment boards lash out at religion in general as something “that poisons everything it touches.” You’re actually talking about heretical religion, not religion. I think people poison religion way more often than vice-versa.

    I also think a big part of the reason why people like the Michele Bachmann type of Evangelical Fundamentalist (which I’m going to go ahead and label “heretics”) get away with the outrageous things they say and do is because more mainstream, truly traditional religion is so sheepish and quiet these days. Where’s the vocal “mainline” religious response to the folks who shout about Obama being the Anti-Christ? Why leave it to “secular” people to make that response?

    I see one answer in the fact that, for reasons of political correctness and delicacy, we’ve shut down a lot of the mainstream religious dialogue that used to occur in this country (when by “religious person” you were almost automatically assumed to be referring to progressive religious folks like MLK or Robert Kennedy). I think this reluctance to re-introduce *good* religion and be unashamed about has actually led to our current situation, where the vocal religious folks in the media tend to be the screw-loose “heretics”. The amped-up criticism of religion since 9/11 has caused a lot of good religious folks to shrink into the shadows, and weakened the status of good religion enough to the point where most of what you have left (especially the media) is the bad religion — the stuff that enemies of religion dislike the most, and that all reasonable people should fear the most.

    Unfortunately, I think without drawing distinctions between good religion and bad religion when you criticize it, what you’re probably going to end up with is the bad, “heretical” religion, which isn’t going to go away overnight.

  9. Sounds pretty good until you investigate the history of ‘organized’ religion.

  10. Of course what the GOP has become is the big media brand manager for businesses who consider themselves too big to fail but are in fact too expensive to survive. Fossil fuels, guns, evangelicals, etc.

    We should be glad that they weren’t around to save dinosaurs, colony building, slavery, and logging.

  11. Organized religion? It gave the world Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King, Jr, Mother Teresa, Thomas Merton, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Francis of Assisi. Secularism has given us Hitler, Stalin, and Lenin.

    The whole human enterprise is flawed – religion or no religion.

  12. Earl, I’m with Bob G. here: “organized religion” gave the world the Anti-Slavery movement and the Civil Rights Movement, for starters. If you benefit from a world with less slavery than ever, and a model for fighting institutionalized discrimination and non-violent protest, you’re benefiting from folks who were deeply involved in organized religion.

    DIS-organized, dumbed-down, adulterated religion is what gave us cults, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and all the people you and I quite rightly dislike the most.

  13. Stephen, I stand with Earl here, the history of organized religion includes last year, last month, last week and the earlier hours of today. Look at where organized religion has led us; and never lose sight of the organized religion that led to the Salem witch trials and Adolph Hitler’s Holocaust. Just as the GOP should not be allowed to pick and choose parts of the Bible that can be twisted to fit their “values” and set down as laws to govern us; neither can you pick and choose which organized religion should be followed in my personal life or in politics. They are separate issues but the current Congress and SCOTUS have lost sight of this fact and are taking away our right to make choices in our private lives. Voucher students, who opt to attend religious based schools, must study that religion along with the parishioner students who attend. To me, this is brainwashing of children and does not increase my trust in religion or it’s history.

  14. JoAnn: I would probably agree with a lot of your political views. I just think this cavalier, band-wagon attitude toward “organized religion” is misguided and seriously exaggerated.

    If you don’t like organized religion, I guarantee that you’ll really dislike the sloppy dis-organized religion that actually accounts for probably the majority of religious expression in America right now. Americans haven’t gotten less religious since 9/11. That’s a true fact. They’ve just left the solid, mainline churches, a lot of whom are actually your ally if you’d dig a little deeper. As I said above, the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-Slavery Movement were spearheaded by folks who were *extremely* involved in “organized religion” (King, RFK, Tutu, Mandela, Jimmy Carter, William Wilberforce, lots of Jewish supporters and martyrs for Civil Rights, the list is enormous….)

    I don’t know why that’s such a controversial point.

    What I do find controversial and historically unfounded for the most part, is your claim that organized religion led to Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust. Please explain. The fact that Hitler was raised as a Catholic doesn’t impress me. So was Mother Teresa. So was Mozart.

    So was Stephen Colbert — a Catholic Sunday school teacher and an unstinting critic of folks like Sarah Palin.

  15. As for students being “forced” to study religion in voucher schools, two things….

    1. I find that the amount of ignorance among most religious folks about **their own** history, theology, and tradition is appalling. So I’m all for students studying religion. I think the failure to study it is what gives us corrupted, debased expressions of religion. The folks who set up separation of Church and State in this country (which I completely support) did not mean to remove religious discussion and prevent children from being educated about religion. They meant to remove a state mandate for any particular religion — which (rightly) they thought would lead to freer, healthier discussion of religious issues.

    I’d be last person to promote ignorance about religion as a virtue, which seems to be what you’re promoting. Why NOT study religions?

    2. No one is being forced to attend voucher schools. If a parent has a serious issue against a child learning religion, why send the child there? I didn’t want to study mathematics when I was in high school — hated it, flunked it, haven’t used anything besides basic math since — but I wouldn’t argue that kids shouldn’t have to study math.

    As long as it’s not color-by-number religion, I’m all for kids getting some exposure to it.

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