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Right turn, Clyde… or not.

I’ve mentioned before that I wish the Republican party would “go back to being the fiscally conservative, small government party they used to be instead of the religious, anti-science, anti-intellectual, anti-environment party they are now.”

Andrew Sullivan, over at The Daily Dish,  seems to have the same idea, but in more detail. Andrew and I are not alone, either, since I’ve seen links to his post from two other blogs today, as well as a post by Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs who also put together a list of why he’s parted ways with the Right. No doubt there are plenty more who agree with these folks.

Here’s a sampling of items from both posts that I find particularly noteworthy (though I recommend going through the full posts of both blog authors).

From Andrew Sullivan:

  • I cannot support a movement that holds torture as a core value.
  • I cannot support a movement that holds that purely religious doctrine should govern civil political decisions and that uses the sacredness of religious faith for the pursuit of worldly power.
  • I cannot support a movement that would back a vice-presidential candidate manifestly unqualified and duplicitous because of identity politics and electoral cynicism.
  • I cannot support a movement that does not accept evolution as a fact.
  • I cannot support a movement that sees climate change as a hoax and offers domestic oil exploration as the core plank of an energy policy
  • I cannot support a movement that refuses to distance itself from a demagogue like Rush Limbaugh or a nutjob like Glenn Beck.
  • I cannot support a movement that believes that the United States should be the sole global power, should sustain a permanent war machine to police the entire planet, and sees violence as the core tool for international relations.

From Charles Johnson (reasons why he parted ways with the Right):

  • Support for bigotry, hatred, and white supremacism (see: Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Robert Stacy McCain, Lew Rockwell, etc.)
  • Support for throwing women back into the Dark Ages, and general religious fanaticism (see: Operation Rescue, anti-abortion groups, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, the entire religious right, etc.)
  • Support for anti-science bad craziness (see: creationism, climate change denialism, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, James Inhofe, etc.)
  • Support for homophobic bigotry (see: Sarah Palin, Dobson, the entire religious right, etc.)
  • Support for anti-government lunacy (see: tea parties, militias, Fox News, Glenn Beck, etc.)
  • Support for conspiracy theories and hate speech (see: Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Birthers, creationists, climate deniers, etc.)
  • A right-wing blogosphere that is almost universally dominated by raging hate speech (see: Hot Air, Free Republic, Ace of Spades, etc.)
  • Hatred for President Obama that goes far beyond simply criticizing his policies, into racism, hate speech, and bizarre conspiracy theories (see: witch doctor pictures, tea parties, Birthers, Michelle Malkin, Fox News, World Net Daily, Newsmax, and every other right wing source)

I think all of those issues are critical issues with the Right, but I tend to focus in on the anti-science, anti-intellectual issues like evolution and climate change… and then I just continue down the path of monumental incredulity at the crap that is touted, supported, and defended by what used to be a fiscally and bureaucratically conservative and responsible party.

I will grant that not all Republicans are this way, but the party in general (or as Andrew Sullivan puts it… “in so far as it means the dominant mode of discourse among the institutions and blogs and magazines and newspapers and journals that support the GOP”) has taken on the self-righteous air of superiority, while in practice, promoting ignorance, hatred, and the idea that the better educated you are, the smarter you are, and the more experience you have, the less qualified you are to partake in intellectually challenging endeavors.

If this country is going to improve its status (and it does need improving) or even maintain its current position in the world, the Right needs to change its ways or get out of the way, because its current pattern of blocking science and education, glorifying ignorance, and pounding its virtual fists on the podium of bigotry doesn’t cut it and it won’t cut it in the future.

As Charles Johnson said:

The American right wing has gone off the rails, into the bushes, and off the cliff.

I won’t be going over the cliff with them.

I won’t be jumping off that cliff, either.

Religious Tolerance in Queens, New York

Dan Halloran Dan Halloran is running for City Council in Queens, NY. He’s the Republican candidate opposing Democrat Kevin Kim in their race to replace the outgoing councilman, Democrat Tony Avella. Halloran is a partner at a Long Island law firm and chairman of the state Republican Liberty Caucus. He’s also been endorsed by the Queens County Republican Party.

That all sounds pretty standard, right? I thought so, too. So what’s special about this situation?

Halloran is a practitioner of Theodism, a pre-Christian pagan religion that believes in “the Gods and Goddesses of the North, spirits of the land and the memories of our ancestors.” A little bit of reading finds that some of the important principles of Theodism are wisdom, generosity, honor, and hospitality. There’s also some animal sacrifice involved, but it seems to be more of a feast type activity where the “any meat left over is burnt for the gods.” The feast is followed by ritual drinking… which is stopped before “the religious nature of the event doesn’t degrade to a drunken party.” So far, so good.

One would think that Christians (and, by proxy, Republicans) would be outraged by Halloran’s candidacy, but amazingly, that’s not the case. In this article at YourNabe.com, borough Republicans are supporting Halloran and are upset over the characterization of his religion in a Queens Tribune article.

“I think it’s particularly repugnant to have a religious test,” said Queens County GOP Vice Chairman Vince Tabone, who is also the spokesman for Halloran’s campaign. “We saw people trying to do that with [President Barack] Obama and Mitt Romney. Flushing [New York] is a birthplace of religious freedom. It’s part of Queens’ heritage. It’s a community where Protestants and Catholics and Sikhs live side by side.”

Those are refreshing words to hear from a politician, especially from a Republican politician. Tabone continues…

Tabone said Halloran was raised in an Irish Catholic household and that his religion would have no bearing on the Council race.

“I don’t think it will have much resonance,” he said. “It won’t amount to a hill of beans. People in the community are concerned with their quality of life and the high unemployment rate. We have good schools that could be improved.”

I think I like this Tabone guy. It seems he’s all for keeping religion out of politics and allowing candidates to focus on the issues and how to best help the community. That’s admirable.

New York State Republican Senator Frank Padavan also feels the same way. He said that Halloran’s religion wasn’t relevant and had this to say.

Queens has every conceivable religion on the face of the Earth and as long as they are honorable toward their basic goals, then that’s all anyone should be concerned about. Our Constitution provides freedom of religion and as long as they don’t run counter to the law of the land, then it’s not something that should be at all political. Anybody who makes it political is suspect. I’d rather someone have a religion — even if it’s not a mainstream religion — than their being atheist.

Wait… WHAT?!?

Did he actually say that? I’m not sure. Other than the YourNabe.com article, I can’t find another reference to this quote, so I don’t want to jump the gun. I found the same quote, but excluding the last sentence, so I’m not sure if one source left the line out of the quote or if one source added the line.

However, the implications of the line are not insignificant. Without it, it shows a surprising amount of religious tolerance and open mindedness by Padavan. With the line, it puts him firmly in the stereotypical, atheist-hating, religious camp.

If anyone can find another reference to the quote, let me know.