Morning Report 6/21/05
America's Mullahs and Their Moolah
Why even think about invading Iran? We're becoming more like that theocracy every day, and right-wing mullahs, whether they're Muslims or Christians, have more in common with each other than they do with the rest of us.
Case in point was Indiana GOP congressman John Hostettler's rant yesterday on the floor of the U.S. House. As Mike Allen of the Washington Post wrote this morning, Hostettler accused Democrats of "denigrating and demonizing Christians":
- The House was debating a Democratic amendment to the annual defense appropriations bill that would have required the Air Force Academy to develop a plan for preventing "coercive and abusive religious proselytizing."
Hostettler, speaking against the amendment, asserted that "the long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the House of Representatives" and "continues unabated with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats."
"Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians," he said.
Allen tried to provide context by comparing the uproar that followed—Democrats angrily protested, and Hostettler formally withdrew his remarks—with recent intra-party conflict:
- The incident followed dust-ups between the two parties over the conduct of the war on terrorism. Over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) called on Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) to apologize and withdraw his comments made on the Senate floor comparing U.S. soldiers' handling of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to the actions taken years ago by "Nazis and Soviets in their gulags."
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) repeated an assertion yesterday that had drawn heavy Republican criticism, calling the war in Iraq "a grotesque mistake."
Incidents like the Hostettler rant pre-occupy Congress while the unjustified invasion of Iraq—a holy crusade for war profiteers—gets passed over.
Unfortunately, Allen also passed over important background for understanding Hostettler.
The best way to put start putting Hostettler in context is to point out that he won the Distinguished Christian Statesman Award last year. That has more to do with why what he said has nothing at all to do with the previous incidents involving Pelosi and Durbin.
As I noted in April, other winners of that trophy from Florida evangelist and Christian Reconstructionist D. James Kennedy—a follower of the late R.J. Rushdoony (our own version of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini)—include Sam Brownback (2000), veteran bug extinguisher Tom DeLay (2002) and John Ashcroft (1996).
And as I also pointed out in April, the Post's Allen himself wrote about DeLay's creepy threat to judges during the Terri Schiavo circus:
- DeLay created a furor last month [March] by saying that "the time will come" for federal judges who refused to restore the brain-damaged [Terri Schiavo's] feeding tube "to answer for their behavior," and by criticizing what he called an "arrogant, out-of-control, unaccountable judiciary." President Bush, Vice President Cheney and other top Republican leaders did not endorse those statements and said they support an independent federal judiciary.
Uh-huh. But back to Hostettler: The southern Indiana congressman is one of the most active Theocrats on Capitol Hill—and a gun nut to boot.
Allen, in his story this morning, did point out Hostettler's love of guns:
- Hostettler was in the news last year when he took a registered Glock 9mm semiautomatic handgun to Louisville International Airport as he was preparing to board a flight to Washington. The congressman, who said he had forgotten he had placed the gun in the briefcase, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and received a suspended sentence.
But maybe if Allen's editors had given him a little more space, he would have been able to point out that Hostettler doesn't only carry guns—he carries ammo for the gun lobby (see photo below).
In March 2001, Hostettler introduced a bill aimed at forcing states that don't allow people to carry concealed weapons (CCW, as gun nuts call it) to honor the permits from states that do allow it. The congressman's not clever enough to have come up with the wonderful name for the measure: SAFE (Secure Access to Firearms Enhancement).
Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, lamented later in '01 that Hostettler's bill had "languished for too long in committee":
- "Decent gun owners face confusion and uncertainty over the status of their CCW permit when leaving their home state with a firearm. Worse yet, many gun owners leave their self-defense firearm at home to avoid any liability, thus leaving themselves and their families more vulnerable to criminal attack."
I'm sure Christ will be packing heat when he comes back for the Rapture. But leaving that aside, the biggest problem with coverage of the Theocrats is the misdirection. While they complain about not being able to place the Ten Commandments on public grounds, they regularly violate No. 8.
Hostettler's fellow Distinguished Christian Statesman Tom DeLay is a prime example. In just one recent chapter from the Theocrats' gospel of loot—see my tale "Why the House Always Wins," from last October for background—there's DeLay's lobbying on behalf of Bush regime fundraiser Jack Abramoff, who's now the target of a federal corruption probe.
In a saga laid out by Walter F. Roche Jr. and Chuck Neubauer of the Los Angeles Times on May 6, two of the powerful Texas congressman's henchmen traveled halfway around the world to Saipan to peddle influence:
- Using promises of U.S. tax dollars as bartering chips, Edwin A. Buckham and Michael Scanlon traveled to these remote Pacific islands in late 1999 to convince two local legislators to switch their votes for speaker of the territory's 18-member House of Representatives. They succeeded.
Once in office, the new speaker pressed the governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to reinstate an expired lobbying pact with Jack Abramoff, now under grand jury and congressional investigation.
That's only part of it. A most un-Christian fucking over of workers is another part:
- Within months of the visit, Abramoff's law firm had a contract paying $100,000 a month from the Marianas government. Also, the island districts of the legislators who switched sides soon won federal budget benefits from Congress, apparently supported by DeLay.
Although Abramoff collected most of his fees from the island government, his lobbying efforts most benefited owners and operators of apparel manufacturing firms using the territory's cheap labor.
The lawyer-lobbyist, whose fees then were reportedly as high as $500 an hour, helped beat back congressional efforts to raise the minimum wage here to $5.15 an hour.
All this Jesus talk about prayer and the Ten Commandments and right to life—that's just a distraction. Neither the historical Jesus nor the Biblical Jesus would approve of the anti-social chicanery of these sanctimonious money-changers and gun nuts who boast of their Christianity.
Yeah, praise the Lord. Now gimme that envelope. Are they unmarked small bills, like I told you to get?