August 28, 2011
In Case I Ever Contract Mad-Cow Disease and Decide to Run for President...
New York Times' Executive Editor Bill Keller, is just about to expire; I mean, he has set his expiry date in September, when he will step down to become "a full time writer." Keller will be replaced by Jill Abramson, who, along with Jane Mayer, wrote a despicable smear-job cum character assassination of Justice Clarence Thomas titled Strange Justice in 1994.
I think she'll settle into the top Times job nicely.
But soon-to-be-but-humble-writer Keller is going out with partisan flair: He crafted a series of smarmy questions on religion, religous nuttery, and how a presidential candidate's goofy religious cult (like Rick Perry's "Christianity") might adversely impact his decision-making and rationality, leading to national catastrophe and faith-caused disaster.
Curiously, he asks his questions only of Republican candidates; I can only conclude that Keller, too, believes that the current squatter at 1600 Pennsylvania is lame duck quacking.
We already have quite a number of GOP candidates; but it's always possible that every one of them will drop out, a la Tim Pawlenty -- see? it's happening already! Thus there's a chance the resulting power vacuum will force the Republican National Conceders to search deeper down the bench for our nominee. In fact, the RNC might finally end up tapping people with zero political training, zero interest in politics, negligible mental stability, and even less experience than Barack H. Obama. That is, people like me!
When that time comes, I'm sure even we schlimazels and schnorrers will have to confront the inquisition and come up with some reasonable (and reasonably waggish) answers. Ergo (Latin for "tell the girl to leave"), firmly taking up the witty man's burden (or at least the half of it), I shall be more than happy to answer the K-man's vital questions for myself, by myself, and as always, only thinking about myself. Read on, assuming you have nothing better to do, like grooming baboons or filing your teeth.
(Keller's questions are in blue below; my answers are in regular, unadorned, manly black. Or rather in manly reddish brown, the normal, lovable, Big Lizards standard typeface color you've all come to know and loathe.)
Keller's Curiously Concentrated and Condescending Killer Questions
1. Is it fair to question presidential candidates about details of their faith?
Under some circumstances, yes. For example, it may be worthwhile to discover whether a candidate's faith requires him to sacrifice pious virgins to the Volcano God -- if for no other reason than to determine how many interns he might need in a given year. (Not that one is likely to find a D.C. intern, male or female, who met the qualifications.)
2. Is it fair to question candidates about controversial remarks made by their pastors, mentors, close associates or thinkers whose books they recommend?
Show 'nuff! And also about whether it takes more than a bicycle path disagreement to cause said candidate to change religions.
3. (a) Do you agree with those religious leaders who say that America is a "Christian nation" or "Judeo-Christian nation?" (b) What does that mean in practice?
(b) Take a look around you, clod: Our entire culture -- its laws, religious sects, recreational activities, marital habits, prandial habits, and everyday idioms and expressions all scream "Judeo-Christian." For example, the United States rarely holds auto-da-feys anymore, in which infidels are tortured to death in arenas and sporting venues, while spectators bet on which sinner will survive the longest during his the stoning; so evidently, we're not a Moslem country.
And most of us have long ago given up virgin sacrifices (see question 1 above); so it appears we are not a nation of atheistic, lefty film makers with Polish surnames, either.
As Sherlock Holmes wrote in one of his stories about the ficticious writer "Arthur Conan Doyle," when you eliminate all the incredibly stupid things in politics, then whatever remains, no matter how bizarre, must be... Well, I reckon you're usually left with a fistful of nothing. Nevermind.
Look, America is a Judeo-Christian country, see? And if you're not aware of this fact, you're unqualified to live here. Move somewhere else!
4. If you encounter a conflict between your faith and the Constitution and laws of the United States, how would you resolve it? Has that happened, in your experience?
Hasn't happened, unless it did and I missed it.
Now, if I were Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Mecca, 100%), I would have six impossible conflicts before breakfast, as my religion would demand that I overturn all democratic institutions, marry multiple wives, wage literal war upon liberty, eschew porcine delectables, cease drinking like a chimney, and remake America into a vassel state of the world Caliphate. All without giving up any of the myriad privileges that go with being a member of the World's Greatest Deliberative Body. (Wait, I think that's supposed to be the Senate; a member, then, of the World's Greatest Second-Rate Body.)
But then again, I don't CAIR.
5. (a) Would you have any hesitation about appointing a Muslim to the federal bench? (b) What about an atheist?
(a) If he was Michael Moore, darn tootin'! Oops, correction: You said Moslem, not mausoleum, right? Sorry.
What was the question again?
(b) Appointing a Moslem to be an atheist? What you been smoking, Keller?
Oh, wait; your clumsy grammar threw me off. Do you mean, would I hesitate before appointing an atheist to sit on a bench owned by the feds? Not if it was full of splinters.
6. Are Mormons Christians, in your view? Should the fact that Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons influence how we think of them as candidates?
Are Progressivists socialists? Opinions are like... well, you know the saying. Since I'm neither Mormon nor Christian, my long thought out, brilliantly articulated opinion is that I couldn't care less.
(But for the Mormons Romney and Huntsman, I would be more impressed if they were Myrmidons.)
7. What do you think of the evangelical Christian movement known as Dominionism and the idea that Christians, and only Christians, should hold dominion over the secular institutions of the earth?
Objection, question assumes a fact not in evidence: What do you mean, "what do I think?"
8. (a) What is your attitude toward the theory of evolution? (b) Do you believe it should be taught in public schools?
(a) Leaning just forward enough to be off-balance.
(b) It would be nice if something was taught in the public schools!
9. Do you believe it is proper for teachers to lead students in prayer in public schools?
Not if the prayer is, "Please God, don't let me get caught!"
Questions Keller intended for Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN, 100%)
1. You have said that watching the film series "How Should We Then Live?" by the evangelist Francis Schaeffer was a life-altering event for you. That series stresses the "inerrancy" -- the literal truth -- of the Bible. Do you believe the Bible consists of literal truths, or that it is to be taken more metaphorically?
My life-altering film was 2001: A Space Odyssey; and yes, I believe the aliens on the other side of the wormhole obelisk orbiting Jupiter are literally true!
We await the starchild from Sirius -- arf arf!
2. You have recommended as meaningful in your life works by leading advocates of Dominionism, including Nancy Pearcey, whose book "Total Truth" warns Christians to be suspicious of ideas that come from non-Christians. Do you agree with that warning?
The books that meant most in my life are the oeuvre of Robert Anton Wilson. Not the Wilson of the last few years before he died, when he was a foul-mouthed, chain-smoking, wheelchair-bound kook who had rediscovered his inner Hefner; I mean his earlier, funnier period.
But as for your warning, I am suspicious of all ideas. Period.
Especially those of Robert Anton Wilson (in his earlier, funnier period).
3. Last year, in a documentary produced by Truth in Action Ministries, you espoused the idea that the government is not entitled to collect as taxes more than 10 percent of a household’s income, the amount Christians are called upon to tithe to the church. Is that a goal you would pursue as president?
Heck no. As future president (and current Archdruid of the Truth Inaction Miniseries), I would never pursue a goal to set the maximal income-tax rate at 10%.
I was thinking more along the lines of setting each American's income-tax rate to his average blood-alcohol level for the year, though I admit that could disparately affect the protected class of elected officials.
4. One of your mentors at Oral Roberts University, John Eidsmoe, teaches that when biblical law conflicts with American law, a Christian must work to change the law. Do you agree? Are there examples where the Bible guides you to challenge existing secular law?
I believe conservative Christians should seek to overturn every idiotic law that conflicts with basic public sanity; and the quickest way to do this is to find the nearest liberal and smite the jawbone of an ass.
5. Another book you have recommended is a biography of Robert E. Lee by J. Steven Wilkins, who contends that the Civil War was a clash between a Christian South and a godless North. He writes that in the South, contrary to the notion that slaves were victims, there was a "unity and companionship that existed between the races" because they shared a common faith. Do you agree with Mr. Wilkins?
Mr. Keller; is the phrase "tendentious caricature" still in the NYT's stylebook?
(And while we're on the subject, did you know that the word "gullible" is not found in any dictionary?)
Questions Keller intended for Texas Gov. Rick Perry
1. A recent article in The Texas Observer questioned your relationship with the New Apostolic Reformation, which advocates the belief that Christians and only Christians should hold dominion over earthly institutions. A number of leaders of this movement were given prominent roles in the prayer event called the Response. Would you like to clarify your relationship with these leaders? Do you hope for their support in your campaign?
I have never heard of the New Apostolic Reformation Dominionists (NARDs), but I'll try to answer the question as best I can.
I try never to fool around with NARDs; they can be very sensitive, and they bruise easily. And I certainly don't want to kick the NARDs when they're down, as you seem to want us to do; they're not a bunch of nuts, they are precious jewels in the conservative family.
And I very much wish I could have more satisfying relations with all the leading NARDs in America.
But on the other hand, I'm not going wear them on my sleeve or to blow kisses at them, either. I believe the only appropriate response would be to find the nearest NARDs, take them in hand, and firmly apply pressure in a vigorous and manly way; we might thereby raise the pitch of political discussion an octave or two.
But conservatism cannot simply sit on its NARDs. We need them; and when we neglect or abuse our NARDs, the entire body of conservatism aches.
We can only get satisfaction if we keep agitating them, rattling them around in constant motion. And we cannot sever our NARDs, cutting them off from the rest of the movement. Rather, we must hurl our NARDs straight into the melting pot, grinding them togther with all the other strains of conservative thought. After all, NARDs alone can do little without the great pillar of Republicanism that sucks in mere aimless effusions and directs them into a concentrated spray of intellectual fecundity.
For we must always remember that our ultimate target is not a mere trickle of rhetorical fluency here and there, but rather a great gusher spurting straight into the mainstream of voters. We must always aim directly at those busy, little beavers whose hard work joins us all together in an eruption of national love.
Those are my thoughts on this subject; I think I'll go smoke a cigarette.
2. You have been close to David Barton, founder of WallBuilders, who has endorsed your campaign. He preaches that America is a Christian nation, that we should have a government "firmly rooted in biblical principles" and that the Bible offers explicit guidance on public policy -- for example, tax policy. Do you disagree with him on any of these points?
Sorry I can't rise to the occasion; I'm still pretty drained.
3. In 2008, Senator John McCain disavowed the endorsement of the Rev. John Hagee, after Reverend Hagee made remarks offensive to Catholics and declared that the Holocaust was part of God’s plan to drive the Jews to Palestine. In this campaign, Reverend Hagee has reportedly decided you are his favorite candidate. Are you willing to accept his endorsement of your campaign?
I would never accept the endorsement of anyone who would stoop so low as to support someone like me for president.
Questions Keller intended for Sen. Rick Santorum
1. Some voters -- you have probably encountered them -- worry that religious zeal can lead to a rejection of scientific evidence, resulting in policy proposals that are essentially faith-based. In an interview with Rush Limbaugh, you described global warming as "junk science" and "patently absurd," and accused proponents of being part of a plot to expand government control over our lives. Among scientists who specialize in climate, there is now a strong consensus that earth is experiencing a pronounced warming trend, and that human behavior contributes to it. How did you decide that on this issue you agreed with the scientific outliers? Was this an example of faith-based policy judgment?
How did you settle on the phrase "strong consensus?" Do you believe the great scientific questions should be decided by voice vote?
And if so, is this an example of your faithless-based policy judgment?
Personally, I think scientific disputes should be resolved by duels. If you're not willing to guarantee your hypothesis with your body, then we should axe your accolades and eradicate your honorifics.
2. You signed a pledge circulated by the Family Leader, an Iowa conservative group, promising "personal fidelity to my spouse." Do you think cheating on a spouse disqualifies a candidate from being president?
Depends on whose spouse you cheat on. For example, if it's Joachim Sauer's spouse, you might be disqualified on grounds of poor judgment.
If it's Bill Clinton's spouse, you might be disqualified on grounds of insanity!
Questions Keller intended for Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney
1. In your 2007 speech on religion, you said that "freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom." Where does that leave unbelievers, in your view?
In a box, with the ambiguity.
2. This year, as in the 2008 election, polls show that there is some resistance to voting for a Mormon -- including among some evangelical Christians, who have been taught that the Mormon church is a "cult." Do you sense that this prejudice is still a factor in the campaign? If so, how do you address it?
By converting to Algorism. Show the jackanapes what a real cult looks like!
3. Was your religion a factor in your decision to oppose gay marriage and civil unions?
Was your liberalism a factor in your decision to devote the last twenty-seven years of your life to using the old Gray Lady as a bludgeon to dismantle American culture?
4. Do you believe that your upbringing in the Mormon faith provided you with some qualities that enhance your abilities as a political leader?
Why yes, if gave me a great capacity for dealing firmly with liberal mor -- oh wait, did you say Mormons?
Questions Keller intended for Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman
1. Though you were reared Mormon, you have described yourself as "not overly religious." I can imagine that is doubly unhelpful in winning the votes of evangelical Christians who figure so heavily in the Republican primary season: on the one hand, many of them have been taught that the Mormon church is a "cult"; on the other, many of them are looking for a candidate they regard as godly. How do you persuade conservative evangelicals to vote for you?
By turning my microphone into a serpent that devours the other nominees, including the incumbent master debater himself. Can't get much better political theater than that!
2. If not religion, what do you use as your guide in deciding what is right and what is wrong?
At any crossroads, I always ask myself, "WWZD?" He has never failed me.
See? Now how hard was all that. I swear, I don't know what these candidates are whining about.
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 28, 2011, at the time of 2:46 PM
The following hissed in response by: Beldar
Very droll. Bravo.
The above hissed in response by: Beldar at August 29, 2011 6:52 PM
The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh
I just can't see these religious questions as anything but a sloppy, wet joke, even apart from the party-segregation inherent in Keller's application of them to only one side the aisle.
I majored in math, not religion, at university; I'm an agnostic (a true agnostic -- not code for "atheist"!); I'm neither liberal nor conservative, and I really don't fit neatly into libertarianism, either. Yet even I have a better grasp of Christianity and Judaism and how they apply to admitted conservatives than does the K-man.
I was going to ask whether he had even attended university; but then I saw in his Wiki entry that he graduated from Pomona College in 1970. Pomona College is one of the famed Claremont colleges (in fact, the first college in that group), which are widely reputed to be excellent institutions of learning. Many graduates of Claremont colleges have been brilliant scholars with a very deep understanding of their subjects.
Thereby proving that indeed, the bell curve applies everywhere!
The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh at August 29, 2011 9:47 PM
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