The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Ten Commandments rock, no matter WHAT they are!

Anyone who spends time on the blogosphere is familiar with the (entirely correct) assertion that the conservative blogs are much further to the right than liberal blogs are to the left. But it's been settled as far as the media is concerned, so the public hears that we on the left are all fringe activists.

For my part, the handful of genuine left-wing activists I know express their annoyance that I'm politically active yet so damn moderate. On the other hand, every single Republican I know chides me for being an extremist (and yes, it's usually pretty condescending).

There are a lot of issues wrapped up in those statements. The rightward creep of political discourse, the success of Republicans in making party affiliation a matter of 'team spirit' rather than policy agreement, and the Elmer Gantrification of politics that threatens the nation with fiscal ruin.

Georgia State Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R), in a February, 2004, op-ed on the bill he co-sponsored to approve displaying the Ten Commandments in courthouses:

Therefore, we have introduced legislation in the Georgia General Assembly this year acknowledging the influence of specific religious traditions as a recognition of who we are as a nation and on what tradition we base our current, unique system of laws. The Ten Commandments is a vital part of that living legacy -- a legacy whose influence can be seen in documents such as the Mayflower Compact and the Declaration of Independence.

US Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (note the promotion), in a June, 2006 appearance on the Colbert Report:

Colbert: What is your responsibility as a Congressman?

Westmoreland: Well, I feel like my responsibility is to not forget what I put in my campaign literature-- to keep up with that, to read it, to make sure that I am doing what I told the people that I would do when they elected me. (. . . At this point, Colbert points out that Westmoreland hasn't sponsored a single bill in the House.)

Colbert: You co-sponsored a bill requiring the display of the Ten Commandments in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Westmoreland: Mm-hm.

Colbert: Why was that important to you?

Westmoreland: Well, the Ten Commadments is [sic] not a bad thing for people to understand and to respect.

Colbert: I'm with you.

Westmoreland: Where better place [sic] could you have something like that than in a judicial building...

Colbert: Mm-hm.

Westmoreland: ...or in a courthouse?

Colbert: That is a good question. Can you think of any better building to put the Ten Commandments in, than in a public building?

Westmoreland: No. I think if we were totally without 'em, we may lose [sic] the sense of our direction [sic].

Colbert: What are the Ten Commandments?

Westmoreland: What are all of 'em?

Colbert: Mm-hm.

Westmoreland: You want me to name 'em all?

Colbert: Yeah. Please.

Westmoreland: Mmmmmm.... don't murder. Don't lie. Don't steal. Uhhhh.... I can't name 'em all.

Colbert: Congressman, thank you for taking time away from keeping the Sabbath day holy to talk to me.

Sadly, Lynn Westmoreland IS the face of the Republican party. His sole purpose in life appears to be hanging onto that sweet $168,000 a year salary ("I just gave myself a raise, Mom!"), and he's more than happy to play pious to keep it.

In the wake of YearlyKos and the tight race for California's 50th district, there's been plenty of finger-pointing on who's to blame for the Democrats' inability to wrest power from the ruling party and their disastrous policy. But I'm afraid we'll be in deep trouble as long as people sport their Republican affiliation like a baseball cap instead of thinking about what the hell they're doing to this country. The GOP has accomplished something I would've thought impossible. They've turned Republicanism into a countercultural badge of pride at a time when, more than ever, it's synonymous with pimping patriotism, religion, and goodwill in the name of enriching a tiny minority of Americans at the peril of the entire nation.

Suddenly I feel a lot less optimistic about November.