Sunday, January 05, 2020

Christian crackpots dominate Trump administration

Attorney General Bill Barr Will Be Targeted By House Democrats For No Particular Reason
Attorney General Barr

By James A. Haught

Back in 2003, in a top-secret international phone call, President George W. Bush urged French President Jacques Chirac to join America in invading Iraq on grounds that Christian nations must thwart the Satanic forces of Gog and Magog. 

Chirac was baffled by such crackpottery. A few French newspapers wrote derisive sneers about the born-again U.S. leader.

Today, it’s déjà vu all over again. Religious kooks in high office are an absurd facet of the Republican Trump administration.

Vice President Mike Pence is a hero of the evangelical Religious Right. He opposes the teaching of evolution in biology classes (even though evolution is a bedrock of biology). As Indiana governor, he signed a notorious “religious freedom” law to let fundamentalists treat gays cruelly. His wife teaches at a born-again Washington-area school that sends students to a Creation Museum which teaches that Planet Earth is just 6,000 years old and humans coexisted with dinosaurs.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is a fundamentalist who thinks doomsday is coming. In a 2015 church talk, he said “politics is a never-ending struggle…until the rapture.” In 2014, he told a church group that “Jesus Christ as our savior is truly the only solution for our world.” Yet he’s in charge of American foreign policy to billions of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and secular people.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos once told a gathering: “Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s kingdom.” She advocates vouchers to funnel public money to fundamentalist schools.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry declared on Fox News that God “ordained” Donald Trump to be president, that Trump is a divinely “chosen one.”

Attorney General Bill Barr gave a Notre Dame University speech espousing “God’s eternal law---the divine wisdom by which the whole of creation is ordered.”

Barr said “the Founding Generation were Christians,” which isn’t quite true. Many of the Founding Fathers were Deists, an early version of non-Christian Unitarians.

The attorney general warned that “over the past 50 years, religion has been under increasing attack,” and has suffered “steady erosion...On the other hand, we see the growing ascendancy of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativisim.” He blamed the retreat of religion for America’s upsurge of unwed pregnancy.

Evangelist Ralph Drollinger leads what is called the “White House Cabinet Bible Study Group.” The right-wing, born-again meetings include Pence, Pompeo, Perry, DeVos, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and NASA Director Jim Bridenstine, plus former cabinet members Ben Carson, Jeff Sessions, Alex Acosta and Scott Pruitt.

Religion is vanishing rapidly in America. White evangelicals---the heart of the Republican Party---have fallen to just 16 percent of the populace, according to Pew Research. Yet Trump gives them a gigantic role in his government.

Congress soon will decide whether the vulgar, shallow, obnoxious president should be impeached. I wonder if grounds for impeachment might include putting too many fundamentalists into high office?

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How Trump got the US kicked out of Iraq

I don’t think we should be in Iraq at all, let alone killing Iranian military leaders there. If we are going to stay in Iraq, this just makes things harder. Iraqi leaders, who have to run a country divided between Sunni tribes and pro-Iran Shiite militias, can’t afford to be seen tolerating this kind of thing. 

There’s already a lot of chatter that our attack will force Iraqi leaders to either put further restraints on us or else kick us out altogether.

It’s pretty obvious that Trump made this decision rather unexpectedly because he was pissed that his previous escalation didn’t work. 

All the reporting I’ve seen suggests that virtually no one else really wanted to kill Soleimani. It was on the list of options presented to Trump specifically to make the other options look more moderate.

A Talleyrandesque sort of devious statesman might—might—be able to handle the aftermath of this in a way that makes relative peace more likely. Unfortunately, Trump is an idiot who is doing this because he’s obsessed with Benghazi and wants to show his predecessor that, by God, a red line is a red line. He has no idea what he’ll do next.

Among other things, our war against Iran seems to be escalating largely at the behest of Israel and Saudi Arabia. Following the lead of either of those countries is a bad idea. Following their lead when they actually agree on something seems like a wildly bad idea.

Rob's comment:
This may be a blessing in disguise, since it gives US politicians a good excuse for getting out of Iraq altogether. Hey, Iraq kicked us out! 

Let Iraq and Iran work out their relationship and how to deal with ISIS and their fanatic Muslim populations. That may take generations. The US should only be concerned if/when they threaten our national security.

It should be remembered that Trump set these events in motion by getting the US out of the nuclear deal with Iran and ratcheting up sanctions on that country, which was completely unnecessary, since the nuke deal seemed to be working and some kind of detente with Iran seemed possible.

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