Atheist Penn Jillette on the 2012 President Candidates December 3, 2011

Atheist Penn Jillette on the 2012 President Candidates

Penn Jillette offers his take on the 2012 presidential candidates — from an atheist perspective:

His take on President Obama is spot on when it comes to his faith: Either he’s really a Christian as he claims (which means he’s not really one of us), or he’s lying about it for political purposes (which is disappointing in its own way).

I still think he’s the best possible option. We could do better, but every other option right now is drastically worse.

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  • The Vicar

    Which is basically irrelevant.

    I don’t vote based on people’s religion, I vote on how I think they will act once in office.

    Strictly speaking, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Barack Obama are identical — all three will say whatever they think people want to hear, and then go and enact whatever horrifying Orwellian militaristic corporatist policy is desired by the very large corporations to whom they really answer.

    Did you see the latest? Congress is working on a bill which will make it lawful for American citizens on U.S. soil to be detained, without benefit of legal counsel, at the whim of the president, using the military rather than civil courts. Obama’s representatives have hinted that he may veto this — but not because it is a direct contradiction to the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth amendments, but because making such things lawful would potentially expose the executive branch to regulation when they do these things, and they’re happier just doing them without any sort of oversight (as in fact they are already doing).

    If Obama is our best choice at this point, then “the lesser of two evils” has now sunk to such a low point that nobody can possibly accept it in good conscience. I have always and consistently argued that Libertarians are idiots, but I’m actually thinking that I will vote for Ron Paul — by write-in if necessary, even if it gets my vote for president discounted — just because Obama has pretty consistently kicked anyone to the left of Rush Limbaugh in the teeth and embraced policies which even Bush didn’t attempt.

  • Can a progressive candidate ever stand in the USA?

  • Paul D.

    Everything Jilette says is brilliant and thoughtful.

  • BuckoFukko

    Why are Libertarians idiots?

  • “Keep voting for the lesser of two evils and things will just keep getting more evil.” – Penn Jillette

  • Oh dichotomies, how tempting you are. I mean, yes, sure he lies. In the words of House though, everybody lies.

    While I like to imagine that obama is an atheist in disguise though (to be revealed after he leaves office), I personally think he leans more towards religious apathy. Many people simply consider belonging to a religion relatively pointless when there are more interesting things to focus on.

    Though there are a bunch of other possibilities too. Perhaps he belongs to that crazy church in order to balance out his lack of understanding of a subculture. Perhaps he really is super-crazy religious but is trying to be a president of all the people first. Perhaps he’s doing something else completely.

    BTW, what is on penn’s finger?

  • That seems ridiculous on the face of it. If you want things to get more evil, vote for the *greater* of two evils. Penn seems to be positing a dilemma, in the literal sense, where there is no third choice.

  • Michael
  • Bo Tait

    Well this is the quote of the day.

    “Mitt Romney…uh…is wearing….crazy underwear. He’s wearing magic underwear. He is! I mean…under his pants he is wearing magic underwear. Magic. Underwear.”

  • T-Rex

    Nice blanket statement and generalization there. I might ask the same about naive liberals and conservative bigots. Which category do you fall under?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I don’t vote based on people’s religion, I vote on how I think they will act once in office.

    Well there’s a problem. Most of the Republican candidates have indicated that, if elected, they will lead us toward theocracy; so their religion and their political behaviour are difficult to distinguish. Even Ron Paul has revealed his theocratic side.
    Ron Paul’s Speech at the Value Voters Summit

  • Do you agree with him that recycling is bullshit?

  • Hope you know that Ron Paul is a creationist. ‘Nuff said?

    The candidates’ religion is very important if it’s part of 
    their platform, “family values” and all that.

  • Mormon 49er quarterback Steve Young was asked why he wasn’t wearing his
    theologically protective under linens when he suffered a career-shortening
    concussion on the field.

    “I didn’t want to soil them.”

  • EJC

    I do.

    For many reasons.

    Essentially, based on almost 116 studies I have read (actual studies, not magazine articles or rehashings) the overwhelming consensus is that we as humans have crossed the rubicon vis-a-vis sustaining an environment we will be able to live in.

    As such, any effort now is nothing more than masturbatory feel-good bullshit.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t take conservatives’ god-talk seriously. Their politicians can bad-mouth atheists all they want; but they still offer to cut our taxes, deregulate our businesses & let us buy all the guns & ammo we want. Their willingness to trust us with money, wealth & weapons shows that they don’t believe their own propaganda.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, there are some climate scientists who say that it is too late to stop some of the warming, but the consensus is not “do nothing”. We can still greatly influence the climate of the future in either direction depending on what we do. Same goes for other types of environmental choices.

  • Conspirator

    This guy is going to be on the next season of Celebrity Apprentice.  How can anybody that will appear on that show with The Donald be considered brilliant and thoughtful?  I used to admire the guy, but there are a few of episodes of Bullshit where he lets his biases clearly influence their “experiments” to favor his views (hybrid cars is a great example of this), and now, well if he’s going to be on Celebrity Apprentice that just shows he considers himself to be at the bottom of the celebrity barrel.  

  • Anonymous

    Even my friend, when he was running for Board of Supervisors, started talking in politician speech to me (giving me the answer in a way he thought I would like it rather than a balanced pros and cons answer). The truth is that all politicians do this because Americans like when they do it. We love to have politicians tell us what we want to hear. Obama is the same as every other president in that respect.

    What matters is not what a politician says, but what they do. Obama has worked to pass every progressive bill that could be passed. Anyone who thought he could just force everything to go the Progressives way doesn’t understand how the US government works. The Tea Party (despite what I had hoped) was not stupid enough to run third party candidates in 2010 or to stay home to protest the Republicans not being conservative enough. If there are  Progressives voters who vote for third party candidates or stay home on election day, that would just prove those voters dumber than the Tea Party, which is saddening. 

  • foolie

    No, it isn’t enough to say.  Would you stand for the same thing being said about an atheist?

    Yeah, we can count on Ron Paul to do some religion-influenced things we don’t like, i.e. anti-abortion policies.  Does this mean the other things he’ll probably do–which might also be influenced by his religious beliefs–like ending wars don’t matter?Besides, we can’t count on any other candidate to do a damn thing they talk about

  • He will also do everything within his power to eliminate FEMA, the FDA, public education, OSHA, and many, many other federal programs, all under the crazy idea that they aren’t needed. He’s a nut-job, just as much as the other GOP candidates. Sorry, he’ll never get my vote.

  • Not with a Republican-controlled House c**kblocking nearly every single move he/she makes.

  • Anonymous

    Why do you think Libertarians are idiots? Why am I an idiot for wanting a country that has a small, constitutional government.  A country where I can be free to live my life the way I want to, and not be required to abide by irrational, unconstitutional laws created based on the flawed “moral values” of someone else.  Is it wrong that I want to live in a country that still values the intentions of its founding fathers?

    Am I an idiot because I don’t think a politician should be allowed to make laws that force me to abide by their moral code?  Am I an idiot because I don’t believe the government should be allowed to tell me how I can spend all of my money?  Am I an idiot for not wanting my tax dollars to go towards supporting and enforcing these unconstitutional policies?

    If the founding fathers were alive today, I would wager most of them would consider themselves Libertarian.

    I seriously would like to know why you think Libertarians are idiots, because I don’t think you know what we’re all about.

  • EJC

    Hi Hibernia,

    If possible, and without using the University of Google, could you give me some citations of what studies and which scientists are advocating that position?

    Many thanks!


  • Voting for someone just because they’re atheists is not a particularly rational thing to do. It rests on the error that atheists (even if just high-profile, well-educated, politically connected ones) de facto are better qualified for public office.

    I point out that our contemporary politicians (and their constituents) have simply supplemented or supplanted their belief in a supernatural god with faith in a natural god (e.g., the polar ice caps; “sustainability,” environmentalism) or in the collective god (e.g., the “Greater Good,” social justice, the wisdom of the majority).

    Suggesting that the current administration, the very statists that is bent on shoving environmentalism down our throats, that perpetuates an unsustainable and immoral entitlement State, and that seeks to back the needy’s moral claim on the rich with force, is “still” our best choice is an insult to reason, and is prime example of how non-belief does not make us automatically better. A free and active mind by necessity demands a rational and cohesive philosophy based on reason.

  • unclemike

    Except for aluminum. Recycling aluminum actually makes economic sense as well as environmental sense.

    Even Penn & Teller had to admit that.

  • EJC

    I agree, from the economic perspective.

    (and nice point to add!)

  • The Vicar

    Yes, because being a single-issue voter has done so much to make the world a better place already!

    Seriously, if we didn’t become a theocracy during the period when George W. Bush had a majority in both houses of Congress and a complicit Supreme Court, we never will.

    We DID however, become a country which deliberately invades other countries preemptively, tortures prisoners, cuts taxes for the rich but services for the poor, grants extra power to corporations, borrows money to pay for our fighting, and regards itself as immune to any sort of reaction from the rest of the world or even from our own population. It is this and not theocracy which we have to fear from our leaders, and Obama has proven to be just as bad as Bush.

    So go ahead and wave your flag and throw confetti because we’re not a theocracy — after the PROTECT IP Act passes, you’ll need some sort of harmless hobby to keep you busy in the time you used to spend on the Internet.

  • Anonymous

    Why can’t someone use google? Do you think that everyone has scientific papers for every topic saved on their computer just in case they might have a particular conversation?

    Here is one paper that talks about the strengths and limitations of climate predictions and the fact that different scenarios are possible in the future depending on our actions.

  • The Vicar

    Libertarians champion deregulation of industry and claim that self-regulation will occur out of the desire for — basically — good publicity. Every time industries are deregulated, they engage in fraud and cause disasters: look at the way industry behaves in the unregulated third world, or what happens in the U.S. EVERY TIME an industry is deregulated.

    Libertarians claim taxation is bad, despite there being a strong historical correlation — which, like nearly all correlations in politics, cannot be absolutely proved to be causation, but is terribly difficult to explain by other means — between heavy taxation on the rich and general prosperity.

    There is more than enough evidence to show that the theory behind Libertarianism is nonsense. To quote some source off the Internet which I am too lazy to look up at the moment: “you know where scientists put theories which don’t work? The garbage can.”

    Are you an idiot because you don’t think a politician should be allowed to make laws that force me to abide by their moral code? Yes. There are laws against murder, fraud, and assault, and the reason they exist is the collective moral code of society. If you don’t like those laws, you are a fool.

    Are you an idiot because you don’t believe the government should be allowed to tell you how you can spend all of your money? Yes. This follows from the question I just answered; if the government can justly forbid actions, then it can justly forbid you from spending money on certain things. It should be illegal to hire a hitman, or set up a fraudulent business, or any of the myriad of other ways you could spend your money to commit crimes. Just because you may feel some of the restrictions are too much, you should not be in a hurry to do away with all of them.

    Are you an idiot for not wanting your tax dollars to go towards supporting and enforcing these unconstitutional policies? No, but that’s no reason to be a Libertarian. Just because you don’t want your house to freeze in the winter, it doesn’t mean you have to decide to burn it down. But that’s the trick that Libertarian dogma always tries to pull — you’re either for unlimited rights everywhere, or else you’re an utterly depraved authoritarian. Any sane, reasonably-well-informed person can tell there’s a lot more gray area than that.

  • The Vicar

    Ah, but what is “within his power” if he gets elected? Paul would be limited by the same forces anyone else would experience.

    Stopping the military would be one thing, because the military is no longer terribly popular and we’d get a lot of money back while no longer being hated worldwide. Stop the military and there would be an attempt at impeachment, but there is no guarantee it would work.

    Stopping, say, food inspections is another thing entirely. People are not fond of e. coli outbreaks. Shutting down the FDA would pretty much gaurantee a successful impeachment.

  • The Vicar

    “Obama has worked to pass every progressive bill that could be passed.”

    On the contrary — Obama has worked hard to ensure that progressive bills do not get considered. A few examples:

    He’s the reason there was never even any discussion of a single-payer bill when “health care reform” was being discussed, and his officials were the ones who even scuttled a public option — as we found out after the fact. You might argue that a public option (even though it was tremendously popular!) would not have passed without a huge fight — but Obama did not try to fight, he cancelled it before it would happen at all.

    He tried very hard to keep up in Iraq beyond 2011, which was when Bush’s agreement ran out, and only when every single Iraqi political and religious body united to demand a U.S. withdrawal did he agree — and then he turned around and claimed that the withdrawal was an accomplishment, instead of merely fulfilling Bush’s plan already in place!

    Obama’s legal representatives have persistently argued in favor of expanded power of the Executive branch: extraordinary renditions, torture, assassinations, you name it. In fact, the horrible bill I mentioned above, the one which will make it legal for the president to have American citizens taken by the military on U.S. soil and held indefinitely, originally had limitations on that authority — and Obama demanded that they be removed!

    Obama has also been pushing very hard not only to keep the U.S. from signing the international anti-cluster bomb treaty (in their effects on the civilian population, cluster bombs are like landmines only worse, and we’re already on the anti-landmine treaty) but was pushing to completely undermine the treaty! (Specifically: he wanted a loophole added which would have allowed anyone who buys NEW cluster bombs to continue using them.)

    Seriously, give the “Obama is progressive” bit a rest. He isn’t. He’s good at fooling people like you — who aren’t paying close attention — into thinking he is, and that’s all.

  • The Vicar

    That isn’t what the quotation said. It didn’t say “if you want things to get more evil, keep voting for the lesser of two evils.” It said “keep voting for the lesser of two evils, and things will just keep getting more evil.” That is, regardless of your intentions, voting for the lesser of two evils will still make things more evil.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Seriously, if we didn’t become a theocracy during the period when George
    W. Bush had a majority in both houses of Congress and a complicit
    Supreme Court, we never will.

    I do not agree with your point. Would you say that, during the Bush 43 presidency, we moved closer to or further from theocracy?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Ed-words: Hope you know that Ron Paul is a creationist. ‘Nuff said?

    foolie: No, it isn’t enough to say.  Would you stand for the same thing being said about an atheist?

    There are not a lot of atheist Creationists, for some reason.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    And if an atheist/Creationist ran for office, I would take his Creationism as evidence that he had difficulty thinking straight.

  • I disagree that his observation is astute that Obama is either a liar or a christian. You mean, he might be a christian??? OH NO!!! Seriously? That’s such a horrible option? Is it possible that we can talk about christians without imagining them to be bogeymen? And can we just be happy that he was raised by atheists, and that he seems to acknowledge our existence on a regular basis? It just blows my mind how comfortable atheists have become with their prejudice against the mainstream.

  • Kyle S.

    Penn and Teller (mostly Teller) competed on Fear Factor a decade ago. A few years back Penn competed (briefly) on Dancing With The Stars. Maybe the dude just likes doing silly TV shows.

  • The Vicar

    Further, overall. Bush’s failures made it less and less likely that the rest of us will stand for his brand — i.e. Evangelical — of Christianity taking over the country, and his supporters will keep the nasty Catholics at bay (to say nothing of the Mormons) even if we don’t.

    The insidious thing is the way Obama has pretty much done the same stuff — right wing homophobe preacher at the inauguration, continuing the “faith-based initiatives” funding, etc. — but nobody ever calls him on it, and in fact the Democrats have collectively gone from defending against it to championing it.

  • ed-words

    It’s an insult to YOUR reason, not everyone’s reason.
    That is known as a difference of opinion.

  • ed-words

    Obama is progressive  – – -( compared to the debate clowns)

  • ed-words

    He gave the world Rand Paul. “Nuff said?

  • ed-words

    (That’s snarky. I do it,too.)

  • Anonymous

    They will only cut your taxes of you’re a multimillionaire

  • Anonymous

    A lot of non wealthy people have to pay capital gains taxes.

  • The Vicar

    But when the debate clowns do horrible things, everyone notices it and says “this is horrible, we should fight it.” When Obama does those same things — or worse things even than the debate clowns would even bother to try — then nine tenths of Democrats say “oh, this must be okay”.

    Indefinite detention? If Bush does it, it’s bad. If Obama does it, it is a necessary move to fight terrorism.

    Locking whistleblowers up? If Bush does it, it’s bad. If Obama does it, well, Bradley Manning must be some kind of dangerous subversive nut.

    Targeting U.S. citizens for assassination? Bush didn’t even do so publicly, probably because it would (rightly) have caused impeachment hearings. Obama? Went right ahead and did it, and proud of it.

    This is why I feel Obama is worse for the U.S. than Bush. He does the same crap, but most of the people who should be protesting the crap suddenly turn around and approve of it, because he has a (D) after his name.

  • Anonymous

    If Obama is a Christian, it’s because he has  tried so hard to integrate into a community he actually convinced himself of his expressed faith.

    If you read Dreams from My Father, the book he wrote BEFORE he had a career in politics, you can see why he “converted”. He was brought up nonreligious. During his time as a community organizer in Chicago he collaborated closely with many historically black churches. In the book he writes that though he felt he was making headway, he knew that as long as he was external to the community, he could never be as effective as he wanted to be. He doesn’t come out and say it explicitly, but its fairly clear that he became a Christian as a strategy to fully integrate into the community. This not only made him more effective as a community organizer, but it also gives him something he expresses he was desperately looking for his entire life (a place to belong).Now, humans are remarkably good at self-delusion, and being very intelligent does not make you immune from this, so it’s possible Obama has managed over time to convince himself that he truly does believe. Though I would honestly like to count him as one of us, for me its enough that his religious faith, real or feigned, does not appear to affect his decision making in any way. That’s enough for me for now.

  • Ron Paul, if he did what he says he wants to do, would be dead. And his running mate would be president. If Ron were going to win, that would be the guy to look out for.

  • Jon Huntsman is not an Atheist. But he accepts the science-based conclusions on evolution and climate change. He adapts to the information he has at hand, and has foreign policy experience. And if he were to receive the nomination, he would be a better choice.

  • Unfortunately, true.

    But he has the edge on the “clowns” by being less of a theocrat, less homophobic, less anti-tax increase
    (belatedly), less small(impotent) govt.,
    and less “damn the economy we wanna win”.

  • You’re either an idiot or you were living under a rock when a lack of government oversight reared its head in the gulf of mexico, in the housing market, or the global economy (including free trade agreements) in general.

    I’m a civil libertarian. I admire Jefferson, and many other founders. But the founders of your country are not living in the world you live in today. And if they were alive today many of their sentiments (and actions) would be considered socialist as well as libertarian. 

    Benjamin Franklin, for instance, founded the US Postal Service even though there were private postal services in operation. Franklin and Jefferson both founded state-financed universities because education was seen as being very important and the private schools were too expensive for any but the very few. 

  • The Vicar

    He might well be dead if he continued to do as president the things he has been doing as a senator. But, you see, that’s where the brilliancy of voting for him comes in. Overall, I think he’s an idiot whose theories of governance are moronic — but I happen to agree with him that stopping the military has to be the highest priority if we don’t want the country to go belly-up. Letting him sacrifice himself while accomplishing that one thing — which I think he could actually do! — would not bother me particularly. It probably wouldn’t bother him very much, either — he’s getting old enough that his chances of living all the way to 2020 are slim.

    Cynical? Oh, yes. But certainly not more cynical than saying “I’m perfectly okay with letting Obama bankrupt the country pursuing unconstitutional wars, torture, and regressive wealth transfer, as long as he isn’t a theocrat.”

  • Depleted uranium was used in Libya.  This is a WMD.  Obama is indded a christian, because christians come from a tradition of speaking semi nice words and acting like vultures and beasts

  • Obama became “religious” out of  convenience.  He needed the straight life as he became ambitious for political office.  He got the wife and the kids. I believe out of love.  The church is bullshit, as I think it is for everyone.  it is not natural to believe that your fantasies are realities past the age of 6.  I knew his “faith” was nothing but bullshit when he had to make a true “faith” decision:  His pastor and friend of many years, nuts or not.  The man who married him and baptised his children, or the power of humans, the power to kill so many africans

  • He’s continued Bush’s faith-based initiatives with little oversight,
    which no one has “standing” to challenge.
    He goes to evangie prayer breakfasts, but won’t meet personally
    with skeptic groups.
    He has opposed,in court, efforts to remove “God”
    from the Pledge and from our new Cold War motto.

    FFRF(.org) sure doesn’t consider him “one of theirs”,
    and they’re in the trenches.

  • Some do , some don’t.

  • Sulris Campbell

    your right.  that is the true danger.  at least when bush did these things half the country was fighting agaisnt it.  Now that Obama is doing the same things.  it is just swept under the rug…  or cheered on by 90% of the country.  and that is much more dangerous.  when neocon policies are put into practive by democratic presidents the world is in trouble becuase there is no one with sufficient power that is willing to stop them.
    i have even thought about voting for a republican just to make the democrats return to fighting for the things i believe in (like they used to.)
    i would vote for a religous zealot if they promised to respect habeus corpus. 

    removing a citizens right to public trial allows the government to dissapear people for reasons they don’t feel like revealing. <– super scary

    let me explain why this is so dangerous.  lets imagine that Obama is a saint.  That he will only use his powers to fight big scary bad guys.  and becuase of that you allow him to remove our right to public trials in criminal courts. (that is a pretty major assumption)

    now imagine the next president or the one after him, etc (who inherents all these vast executive powers) is a religous zealot who believes that you are either with us or against us.  according to this president, since your an athiest your not one of "us" (it says so in our national motto)  Have you watched Fox news?  they call people terrorists for not believing in jesus all the time (the ground zero mosque) or for exorcising free speech (assange) or for saying happy holidays. (war on christmas) but what about public outrage?  what public outrage, no public trials, nobody knows where you are.

    secret police and secret trials (or no trials) are the first step down a very dangerous road.  i would perfer prayer in school and Unitelligent design to be taught to my children then to allow my coutnry to to take that step. (though i would perfer neither)

  • Sulris Campbell

    the vicar, that was wonderful.  Libertarians have some good points but they take those good points and run of cliffs with them.  probably becuase they have  happened to accidently arrive at and support some very good ideas (among the bad ideas) but they wrongly believe that those ideas come from libertarianism.

    i think you will find the problem with libertarianism is the same problem with religion.  it rests on a fundemental contradiction thus allowing you to prove all propositions that you want to believe.  but it forces you to ignore all the other conclusions that it also proves.

    libertarianism is not anarchism it allows that there is a legitimate role of government and it generally requires social contract theory.

    under libertarianism i have the right to make contracts
    of whatever type i choose.  after all the gov. should not regulate what kind of contracts i choose to enter of my own free will.  if i and a group of like minded people enter into a contract that says we agree to elect representatives to make rules for running a mutually beneficial society and that we agree to pay a percentage of our incomes to fund this congress that will be decided by this congress and we agree to live by the rules that it writes then liberarians (who believe in contractual obligations) would be bound by those rules whatever they may be.  becuase libertarianism also adheres to a contract theory of legitimage government (usually an implicit conract agreed upon through using the services of a country) 

    libertarian philosophies do not lead to smaller government.  they do not lead to less war.   they do no lead to functioning economies.  if you want a political philosophy to tell you how to create a functioning society libertarianism doesn’t work.  becuase it allows for any and every type of society.

    if libertarians are pro choice and lgbt rights and anti-war it is becuase they are using a different criteria to judge the worthiness of their positions than libertarian doctrine.

    when a libertarian agrees with something it is something we all agreed to by social contract.

    when a libertarian disagrees with something it is something that nobody agreed to that is being forced down our throats!

    and the only way to tell the difference between something that is agreed to by social contract and something being forced down our throats is whether the libertarian in question likes it or dislikes it based on some other theory that are actually applying to make their decisions.

    much like the religous person who decides which moral bible versus are the important and which should be ignored while claiming that the bible is the source of their morallity.

  • Anonymous

    He’s quite obviously not a secularist, but then I didn’t expect him to be. His record on “our” issues has been mixed, but it’s not too hard to predict how he’ll swing since it’s based firmly on voter opinion. So he opposes removing God from the pledge because this is widely unpopular but removed funding from abstinence only sex “education” programs because this was much more a pet project on the religious right, who wouldn’t vote for him if he grew wings and a halo.

    In short, on our issues, he’s very much a politician. Sure I’d love it if he were a convinced secularist, but the things he does in the other direction have never risen to the level of deal-breaker for me. When I consider the possibility of President Romney (who said secularism was a religion that was trying to take over the US) or President Gingrich (who said it shouldn’t matter how you worship God, but you better worship him somehow and warned of a secular atheist government run by Islamists) the choice becomes clear to me.

  • It’s impossible to look into Obama’s mind and see which 
    or how much of a decision is faith inspired,
    (maybe his gay marriage opposition,maybe not.)

    But sure, he’s the lesser of two (d)evils.
    Let’s hope our growing strength causes a couple flip-flops
    for WHATEVER reasons.

  • The Vicar

    I’m not exactly happy with Anarchism, either, and for reasons which are similar to those you have enumerated: an Anarchist state would be massively unstable, and eventually turn into something really unpleasant.

    But we have now swung so far into authoritarian territory that we need to elect a bunch of anti-authoritarians, disastrous as that would normally be, before the country turns into The Bush-Obama Players Present: The Ultimate Kafka/Orwell Mashup.

    A piece of text I once saved, but for whose source I am once again too lazy to look:

    “I’ve been a criminal defense lawyer for ten years now and my favorite quote, which serves as an answer to the common question “How can you defend those people?” is that “bureaucracy and justice are like oil and water: if they’re not constantly agitated, they naturally separate.”

    What people don’t understand, when they ask how I can defend those people- is that if the people, whom the government is currently targeting, are not upheld during the prosecution, the rights of not only those people but of all of us are lost.

    I once lightheartedly dared a banker friend, who wondered how I could defend those people, to test his theory that the police always respected the rights of the innocent and upheld the Constitution, to drive his BMW through a bad part of town with me. I assured him that he wouldn’t be in danger but also predicted that he would be stopped “pretextually,” or for a fabricated reason (in violation of the Fourth Amendment) as the police broke the law in attempting to enforce it.

    I told him that this was the norm in the “bad area” of the city, as the people’s lack of political power made the essentially powerless to fight back individually against police’s willingness to go beyond the law in attempting to enforce it.

    He didn’t take me up on it, either out of fear or out of awareness that I was right, that the rights he enjoyed as a citizen in the suburbs didn’t extend into the ghetto (which is itself a word with interesting historical connotations)

    My life’s work as a criminal defense lawyer in modern America is essentially a fool’s errand and a losing battle. I used to feel as if I was, like the unappreciated keeper of flood control measures in the city, working to keep the Fourth Amendment safe so, when the political waters occasionally rose, the safeguard of the Fourth Amendment, (brilliantly crafted by Framers who understood the risks that unrestrained governmental power inevitably carry) would still be present to prevent a catastrophe.

    Now, having witnessed the appetite of the American people for torture and their willingness to be controlled by fear, I feel it’s only a matter of time until we realize, too late, that the rights of people the government brands as “terrorists” are in fact the rights we all enjoy, and unfortunately take for granted.

    While many are speaking up and warning against the unintended consequences of abandoning our core principles, embodied in our Constitution, when confronting so-called “terrorists,” I fear it’s only a matter of time before that label is placed on those we now think of as criminals and eventually on those few who are speaking up and warning against this dangerous willingness, so prevalent in America, to allow the government to suspend the principles that restrain it, when confronting Really Bad People.

    In short, the fact is that when too few of us speak up in favor of enforcing human and Due Process rights for those the government labels as Really Bad, the definition eventually gets expanded until it includes us.

    While I used to think those of us who are fighting against this trend could, (via Hope and Change!) eventually turn it back, the truth is we’re only holding our fingers in the dike and crying out to an audience that doesn’t hear us over the fear mongering of the government.

    We have met the enemy and he is us.”

  • The Vicar

    When I said I thought Obama was worse, I meant it. The clowns at least have all their flaws in sight.

    If (say) Michelle Bachmann were (ugh) nominated and elected, at least you would have a broad coalition of people saying “we must stop Michelle Bachman from doing the various things the right wing wants, because she is a crazy coo-coo hypocritical nitwit.Obama is a hypocritical nitwit WHO DOES EXACTLY WHAT BUSH, BACHMANN, ET AL WOULD DO, but because he does not pretend he has a phone line to Jeebus and has a (D) after his name, everyone pretends he’s a progressive. He isn’t. He is actively making things worse. He needs to be stopped just as much as they do.

  • Marthajeep

    Uh, Ron Paul?

  • Rooster2410

    I don’t vote soley based on religion, however it plays a role.

    Religion often dictates how a person behaves, responds or otherwise makes choices. I don’t want certain things such as education and personal liberties decided upon by faith or religious views.

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