Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
Welcome to the second volume of “Ask Steve,” where you can submit virtually any question you like (via the Ask Steve page to the right and I will attempt an answer.
DAVID BARTON: ALL-STAR ANTI-HISTORICAL JACKASS
DeeMac writes: “What are your thoughts on David Barton?”
Put simply: He’s a terrible historian, a worse theologian, a false scholar–and I hate him very much. A good catalog of the reasons why can be found in this collection of posts on the excellent religious news blog Religion Dispatches. By bastardizing American history, he ignores our national warts; by unjustifiably sanctifying the founding of the American Republic, he overlooks the inconvenient fact that Christianity had already existed for nearly seventeen hundred years. He is the so-called “brains” of the Tea Party’s historical interpretation and political philosophy, and an examination of his idiocy proves the Tea Party to be as intellectually bankrupt as they are morally bankrupt. Of course, leave it to the Tea Party to appoint as their brains a man who has no formal training in law or history, and only rudimentary training in theology. I’ll leave the detailed repudiation of his insanity to the above link at Religion Dispatches, but if anyone is interested in a point-by-point analysis, I might consider providing it.
Randy Forbes, Representative from the 4th Congressional District of Virginia, is one of the leading “culture warriors” in the House of Representatives. He raises a lot of money for himself by falsely holding himself out be enacting Christian values into law; but what he really does is lie – a lot, and big. He lies to his ignorant Christian supporters, who blithely buy his lies about establishing Christian values in American law; and he lies to the media, because the media will report his lies (even when they know better) to more of his ignorant Christian supporters.
The most potent tool of deception that Rep. Forbes employs is meaningless legislation. This isn’t a well-known fact, but many of the bills passed by Congress (and even signed by the President) have no legal force or effect whatsoever. Most of the media and fundraising attention focuses on the ones that actually do stuff – the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, etc.; but a disturbing amount of the actual work done by our federal representatives is either procedural or forceless–and that’s how it’s always been.
Fortunately, for those with a high-school education and enough interest to do some simple digging, his lies are easily undone. The link above takes you to a page on the American Family Association’s site that encourages support for one of Rep. Forbes’ bullshit bills: House Concurrent Resolution 274: “Reaffirming ‘In God We Trust’ as the official motto of the United States and supporting and encouraging the public display of the national motto in all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions.”
Those of you who remember your high-school civics or government courses will likely recall that concurrent resolutions have no force of law whatsoever. Even if Congress were to pass this bill (which it won’t as long as the Democrats are in power – hence why it has been stuck in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties for over three months, despite having 113 cosponsors), the bill would have no effect whatsoever. Concurrent resolutions are the Congressional equivalent of getting drunk and yelling drunken ramblings on a public street.
So the obvious question: Why bother with concurrent resolutions if they have no effect? You could argue about the philosophical necessity for a legislature to have freedom of expression; but I think the reality, in this day and age, is that these meaningless wastes of taxpayer dollars exist solely for deceptive Congressmen to falsely inflate their record to their fickle constituents. That’s just my opinion, of course; and I welcome any opposing view on the merits of the concurrent resolution in the comments.