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“Pope Francis Makes Tea Party Heads Explode”: Why Steve King & Louie Gohmert Have It In For The Pontiff

The Bishop of Rome is coming to Washington in September to address a joint session of Congress, and boy are things already getting frisky. Pope Francis is an extraordinarily popular Pope who’s not afraid to wield that popularity for human rights and economic justice. In other words, he’s well to the left of most members of Congress, and he may well get up in their faces about issues near and dear to him. Since you’re sort of required to clap for the Pope, this is going to make for an interesting scene.

In late 2013, not long after his election, Francis wrote an extensive document making economic justice a centerpiece of his papacy. “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life,” he wrote, “today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality.”

“Such an economy kills,” wrote Pope Francis, denouncing the current economic system as “unjust at its roots” and one “which defend(s) the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation.” Such a system, he warned, is creating a “new tyranny,” which “unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules.”

On foreign affairs he’s made his priorities known, too. Earlier this year, Francis helped broker the thawing of relations between the United States and Cuba, and just this week,the Vatican announced that it would sign a treaty recognizing a Palestinian state. As Patricia Miller writes in Salon, these sorts of moves aren’t some radical break in policy for the Vatican. It’s just that American conservatives were able to turn a blind eye to these actions before “rock star Francis” commanded their attention. “It’s more accurate,” Miller writes, “to view this particular step in the Vatican’s relationship with Palestine both as a continuation of the Holy See’s long-standing support for Palestinian statehood and as an expression of Francis’ overriding interest in fostering international peace—and his unique ability and willingness to put his finger on the scales to do so.”

The Vatican’s recognition of a Palestinian state under Francis comes at a time when the Republican Party is more reflexively “pro-Israel” — which is to say, pro-Netanyahu — than ever. It’s become routine, if not an outright litmus test, for Republican presidential candidates to reject the pursuit of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, a position that both Democratic and Republican standard-bearers have held for decades. The Obama administration has gone to great lengths to veto U.N. resolutions recognizing a Palestinian state as a favor to Netanyahu’s Israel, and yet Republicans still assault Obama as working hand-in-hand with the Iranians to assure Israel’s destruction. And now we’ve got an actual religious and political leader who has recognized a Palestinian state coming to address Congress.

The fine congressional reporters at Politico did that thing where they asked the usual funny, good-for-a-quote Republican suspects for their opinion on Francis’ upcoming speech in light of his treaty recognizing Palestine and other heretical moves, like his criticism of unregulated capitalism. And the members were, indeed, good for various funny quotes.

Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina is stunned to see the Pope getting so “political” and demands he rein in his activities to more traditional church-y stuff. “It’s interesting how the Vatican has gotten so political,” Duncan said, “when ultimately the Vatican ought to be working to lead people to Jesus Christ and salvation.” Iowa’s Steve King echoed Duncan, saying he’s not sure that he’s as good of a politician as he is a Pope.”

Know your place, sweetheart.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp holds the interesting position that Catholicism is agnostic on issues of poverty, and Francis should stick to what he describes as Catholicism’s “non-negotiables,” like its opposition to abortion and gay marriage and its support for school choice. “How do you deal with a poverty problem? There’s not a Catholic [fix], contrary to the arguments of certain economists that work at the Vatican… But there’s a Catholic view on life, on marriage, on the rights of parents and education. So I hope he sticks to this.” As for foreign policy, Huelskamp gives Francis his permission to speak to “faith and morals… but on foreign affairs, maybe not.” Because morals certainly have no place in foreign affairs.

The quotiest of them all, Rep. Louie Gohmert, describes the Palestinians as “haters” and wants the Pope to know that they don’t take too kindly to his style of Popin’ down in East Texas. “The Pope is the head of his religion, and he makes those calls for himself,” Gohmert generously concedes, “but I represent 700,000 people from East Texas and a vast majority agree with me.”

There’s a whole lot more in here, including Rep. Trent Franks questioning Pope Francis’s grasp of scripture.

It’s fascinating to see these members trying to impose constraints on what’s acceptable for the Holy See to say in his address to Congress. Just a few months ago, conservatives were apoplectic that anyone would dare criticize Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to trash the President’s foreign policy before a joint session of Congress. The man has a right to speak his mind! It helped, of course, that Netanyahu’s mind and the Republican mind were one and the same. Now the Pope might come and say “Palestinians have rights too” and everyone’s all, Whoa whoa whoa, let’s stick to the fetus here, guy. 


By: Jim Newell, Salon, May 15, 2015

May 18, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, Louie Gohmert, Pope Francis, Steve King | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Color Blind Lie”: The Same Lie White Racists Have Been Telling Themselves For Centuries

I grew up mostly in East Texas. To give you an idea of the politics of the area, I lived in the district that is currently represented by Louie Gohmert. During that time, I knew all of two black people – my grandmothers’ maids.

When I was about 10 years old, a group of black men in Jonesboro, LA (less than 150 miles from where I lived) organized Deacons for Defense and Justice – eventually sparking a showdown with the KKK that resulted in federal intervention on behalf of local African Americans. I never heard a word about it until I watched the movie – Deacons for Defense – a few years ago.

That’s how I was trained to literally be color blind.

I thought of that when I read this interaction Molly Ball had with former Louisiana Governor Mike Foster about why southern whites are leaving the Democratic Party.

“I don’t think it’s racial,” Mike Foster, the Republican former two-term governor of Louisiana, now 84 and retired, tells me, without my having asked…”You know, the races have gotten along down here for years. Look at what’s happening in Ferguson right now. We don’t have a bunch of people running out in the street hollering about that.”

“I think what has changed it is that this is a hardworking state. People work hard, and they really don’t take to people who are on the dole,” he continued. “You’d better not be supporting people who are sitting on their front porch while I’m trying to work! You drive around these small communities, you see a lot of able-bodied people sitting around, when you know there’s work to be had …. That’s the only thing I can figure. This part of the country, people have been raised by families who worked very, very hard. But now we’ve got a president who loves to sit down every day and see how much he can give away of what they make.”

Those sentiments aren’t new. We heard pretty much the same thing from Duck Dynasty’s Phil Roberts about the Jim Crow era in Louisiana.

I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field …. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word! … Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.

If I had the patience to do the research, I’m sure I could find quotes from plantation master’s who also claimed their slaves were “happy slaves.” Its all part of the same lie white racists have been telling themselves for centuries.

And it leads right into the lie that – while those black people were happy when they were slaves/terrorized by Jim Crow – now they’re all just sitting on their porches collecting goodies from the black guy in the White House while the rest of us white folks work hard (could Lee Atwater have summed up the Southern Strategy any better?)

Nope, nothing racial about that at all.

Pundits all over the spectrum are suggesting that Democrats need to reach out to people like this. Until they can identify their self-interests in a form other than these racist lies, I’m not sure that’s going to be possible.


By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, December 7, 2014

December 8, 2014 Posted by | Louie Gohmert, Racism, Southern Whites | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Moses, Jesus And Louie”: The Confessing Church Of The Christian Right

Another day, another Louie Gohmert outrage, and another use of Nazi analogies by a Christian Right pol. Nothing to see here, right?

Well, there is one thing I’d like to point out in the context of Gohmert taking to the House floor to complain that gay rights advocates are behaving like Nazis in calling him and people like him “haters” (as reported by TPM’s Tom Kludt). Yes, part of the reason Christian Right types like to use Nazi analogies is that they seem so very apt to those who believe or claim to believe zygotes are exactly like you and me, and thus that legalized abortion (or even post-fertilization forms of birth control) represents a “Holocaust” unlike anything the world has seen since Hitler. But Gohmert’s Nazification of the argument over same-sex marriage puts the spotlight less on his tormenters than on himself and other brave defenders of traditional marriage.

It is amazing that in the name of liberality, in the name of being tolerant, this fascist intolerance has arisen. People that stand up and say, you know, I agree with the majority of Americans, I agree with Moses and Jesus that marriage was a man and a woman, now all of a sudden, people like me are considered haters, hate mongers, evil, which really is exactly what we’ve seen throughout our history as going back to the days of the Nazi takeover in Europe. What did they do? First, they would call people “haters” and “evil” and build up disdain for those people who held those opinions or religious views or religious heritage. And then the next came, well, those people are so evil and hateful, let’s bring every book that they’ve written or has to do with them and let’s start burning the books, because we can’t tolerate their intolerance.

Not even Gohmert is dumb enough to call marriage equality advocates “Nazis,” given, among other things, the murderous behavior of the actual Nazis towards gay people (they also violently opposed abortion, at least among Aryans, but that’s another matter). But what he really wants to do is to claim the mantle of the Confessing Church Christians who opposed the Nazis (hardly anything like a majority of Christians in Germany, BTW, particularly in the case of conservative Christians) out of fidelity to their faith.

This is an old habit in the Christian Right, and an ideal way to turn the tables and pose as conscience-wracked Here-I-Stand dissenters against power instead of defenders of patriarchy and privilege, and with them the enormous power of the status quo ante (or what Chesterton once called “the democracy of the dead”), a power that’s ruled daily life for millennia. Standing up for “your principles” is a lot more attractive than standing up for the day-before-yesterday and oppressing anyone who gets uppity. So of course you want to go there again and again, and if you are Louie Gohmert, why not? Nobody but those guilty of “fascist intolerance” will object.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, May 9, 2014

May 11, 2014 Posted by | Christian Right, Louie Gohmert | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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