To be unemployed.

October 31, 2013

You will have to forgive me for my break in usual political/religious blogging, but as this is an outlet for me on a personal level also, it is a necessary piece of writing to get off my chest.

I cannot find work anywhere. I am 27, a freelance photographer, with a degree in Politics & Journalism, I am addicted to writing, I write almost daily on here as well as separately and more personally on another blog, I am fascinated by the World, I utterly adore history (mainly French Revolution and the US Civil War and revolution, but Tudor History and early Islamic history play a role too) and philosophy, I’m teaching myself to speak French, and I am desperately seeking a graduate/entry level position in communications, or PR, or digital marketing, anywhere in the country. I wouldn’t mind teaching either for which I’m currently applying. My dream is to live and to work and settle in the US. But I can’t even find a position here in the UK to gain any sort of experience. And it’s becoming a bit too much to deal with at the moment.

Unemployment has the unique ability to completely destroy any ounce of confidence or love of being alive one may once have enjoyed. I just feel completely empty, all the time. It becomes difficult to sleep as financial worries stack up and food becomes a luxury. Your social life dies because you can’t keep up with friends. You look at your degree certificate with contempt, like it is just another worthless piece of paper that reflects nothing and it no longer feels like any sort of achievement, and for every 300+ applications you send out, you receive maybe two replies because for every job you apply for, 100+ others are applying for daily. Every job labelled ‘graduate’ or ‘entry level’ seems to then demand 2+ years of experience. The very few that offer experience rather than demand it of graduates, seem to have half of Britain applying to. You become an insignificant face, in a sea of insignificant faces and you’re treading a water that is pulling you deeper in every day. Why bother to resist at all?

The latest position I applied for comes with this confidence killing disclaimer:

“Applications: 92
Please be aware we receive a high volume of applications for every role advertised & regularly receive applications from candidates who exceed the job credentials.”

– In other words…. don’t bother. You’re probably not good enough.

The Job Centre is a place of pity, of shame, and a broken, forgotten system with a thin veil of modernity covering its massive cracks. I sat next to a girl who had been coming to the Job Centre for over a year, and as she said that, she laughed nervously and said that if she didn’t laugh, she’d cry. The archaic job search system does not recognise the key words “digital” or “PR” and has trouble with the word “media”. These terms are too new for it, what with being introduced in the mid-90s. But the sofas are comfortable. So that’s just great. The staff talk to you patronisingly, like you’re probably just playing the system, a waste of oxygen, and so deserve to be spoken to like a child. You then get home in time to see a Tory politician continuously tell us all how shameful it is to be unemployed, and how we must be treated with suspicion and anger.

If you’re lucky enough to get an interview, you are one of about 50+ other candidates and if you wish to impress at an interview, you need an extraordinary degree of confidence in yourself, which you now don’t have. Couple this with constant dehumanised “lazy” or “we must be tough on them!” rhetoric by politicians in both major political parties trying to win over a middle class, and a thoroughly right winged media treating you as a statistic, and a shameful drain on society, and you quickly descend mentally to a place where life seems entirely pointless, because you’re convinced that you have no worth. And whilst feeling entirely worthless, you dread the postman’s footsteps every day, because it’ll just be letter upon letter of threats from companies you can no longer afford to pay. Car insurance. Phone bill. Broadband. Every letter includes a subtle declaration that because you can’t afford to pay, they’ll charge you even more. Which you also can’t pay. And so they’ll threaten you with court. And then the bank charge you because your direct debit didn’t work when the company charged you extra for not being able to afford to pay in the first place. And then the bank will charge you more because you couldn’t pay the charge. And it never stops. Why would anyone have children here? What a fucking cruel thing to do.

The feeling that you are worthless isn’t fleeting, it doesn’t subside, it grows until it feels endless. And every slight knock back amplifies it. This is my current reality and I hate it.

If anyone knows of any opportunities, feel free to get in contact because I need just one place to give me even the smallest of opportunities to be able to prove my worth.

Regular blogging will resume tomorrow.

Advertisements

Painting Congress Blue 2014: Focus on Candidates VI.

October 28, 2013

justin kuhnle, indiana's 3rd congressional district, marlin stutzman, republicans, democrats, house of representatives 2014, midterms 2014, indiana

There seem to be two conflicting camps of thought on the House elections for 2014. On the one hand, 17 seats is a big majority to overturn. As noted previously, to do so would represent a post-World War II record for the President’s Party. On the other hand, history teaches us that if a Party moves too far to the left or right – as the Republicans most certainly have this year – they will be punished at the mid-terms. Support for House Republicans is at its lowest in decades, and lower than the 1998 House Republicans who lost five House seats and forced the resignation of the Speaker after self-destructively moving to the right over the Clinton/Lewinsky affair. So whilst it remains a very difficult feat in 2014, it isn’t impossible.

Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District:
The government shutdown may have provided Democrats with an opportunity to retake the House in 2014, but the battle is still to be fought uphill.

Indiana’s 3rd is currently home to Rep. Marlin Stutzman, and considered a pretty safe Republican seat for 2014. Though that needn’t be the case, if we shine a light on Stutzman’s antics as Representative.

Stutzman was right at the heart of the government shutdown, for which the public in general blame his rather nihilistic approach. When asked by the Washington Examiner about the Republican led shutdown and what demands the Republicans wanted in order to reopen government, Stutzman replied:

“We have to get something out of this. And I don’t know what that even is.”

– So, whilst voting to ensure the US wipe out at least 0.6% growth to the tune of $24bn (more than the annual GDP of Trinidad and Tobago)…. Rep. Marlin Stutzman had absolutely no idea what it is his Party wanted to gain from such a destructive course. The American people and the people of Indiana’s 3rd were not a concern or priority for Stutzman during the shutdown, the concern was purely Party political and incredibly opportunistic.

This anti-Affordable Care Act stance from Stutzman, despite the fact that key Affordable Care Act findings for Indiana’s households show that every household income bracket, other than those earning over $250,000 a year, will be better off in five years time due to the Affordable Care Act, than under the old system.

affordable care act, affordable care act indiana, indiana's 3rd congressional district, obamacare, marlin stutzman

– It seems the only reason to so viciously oppose the ACA in Indiana, is because it works, and running an election campaign on the back of two years worth of scare tactics in order to repeal a law that benefits the majority of the citizens of Indiana, other than the very wealthy, isn’t going to impress too many voters.

Neither is the fact that whilst Stutzman expressed his desire to see SNAP cut by an eye watering $30bn over the next ten years, he was receiving farm subsidies to the tune of $998,000 since 1995. Almost $1,000,000.
Stutzman then tried to plead innocence by suggesting that the Federal government is actually forcing him to take almost $1,000,000 in subsidies that he doesn’t need:

“we can’t say no.”

– The US Department of Agriculture disagrees:

“It’s a voluntary program, You can refuse payment on the farm.”

– So, instead of working to end welfare for the wealthy – including himself – Stutzman is spending his time trying to ensure that Indiana’s residents pay more in health costs, and that the most vulnerable are hit devastatingly hard by horrifying cuts to SNAP. It is no surprise that Stutzman was absolutely fine with splitting SNAP from the farm subsidy program.

Marlin Stutzman isn’t too keen on the Constitution. Introduced by Louie Gohmert (currently worried about cross dressing Satan worshippers invading Church’s as a result of gay marriage), Marlin Stutzman co-sponsored a H.RES.211 in 2011. The Bill states:

“Expressing support for designation of the first weekend of May as Ten Commandments Weekend to recognize the significant contributions the Ten Commandments have made in shaping the principles, institutions, and national character of the United States.”

– The text of the Bill goes on to recognise:

“Whereas the sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams, declared the Ten Commandments to be `laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation, which ever professed any code of laws'”

– Unsurprisingly, the quote by John Quincy Adams was manipulated by the Gohmert Bill. Adams actually wrote:

“The law given from Sinai was a civil and municipal as well as a moral and religious code; it contained many statutes adapted to that time only, and to the particular circumstances of the nation to whom it was given; they could of course be binding upon them, and only upon them, until abrogated by the same authority which enacted them, as they afterward were by the Christian dispensation; but many others were of universal application — laws essential to the existence of men in society, and most of which have been enacted by every nation, which ever professed any code of laws.”

– Quite clearly, Quincy Adams was suggesting that many of the ‘laws’ of the OT including those given to Moses, were for the time in which they were given only. Gohmert’s Bill omitted that part of the quote. Strangely, the Bill doesn’t note that John Quincy’s father – the 2nd President of the United States – had written that:

“The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

– Equally as strangely, the Bill doesn’t note that the Constitution quite clearly states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..”

– And yet, here we are, in the 21st Century, witnessing far-right Republicans attempting to pass into law the establishment of one particular religion. The same far-right Republicans, who, in an apparent spirit of Christianity, vote against the reauthorisation of the Violence Against Women Act (Stutzman was the only Indiana member of Congress to vote No on reauthorising VAWA), and vote to cut Federal help for the most vulnerable.

Stutzman voted against Amendment 3 of the Back to Work Budget that would have eliminated tax loopholes, raised taxes on billionaires, brought education investment up, funded jobs programs for poorer areas, and cut defense spending to 2006 levels. Stutzman voted against all of those.

Stutzman is anti-women, anti-jobs, Theocratic, anti-education, and works to further enrich the wealthiest few. He wastes an inexplicable amount of time and effort attempting to defund an established law – a law that actually helps the people in his State – and then announces that he has no idea what his side expects out of the damage they caused.

Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District can do better.

Opposing Rep. Marlin Stutzman for Indiana’s 3rd in 2014, is Democrat challenger Justin Kuhnle. And his website makes a very bold pledge:

“If the unemployment rate of northeast Indiana on average holds at 7.25% or higher for the 13 counties represented in Indiana’s 3rd district, I will withhold accepting 50% of my salary and instead refer these wages to local community development projects.”

– In one declaration of intent, Kuhnle has made the wellbeing of the people of Indiana’s 3rd, his key concern. This is how you put the people at the front and centre of a campaign.

Whilst Stutzman is busy abusing the Constitution, and the democratic process through Theocratic ventures, and government shutdown… Kuhnle is promising to fight for the fundamentals of a market democracy; education, and collective bargaining. On education, Kuhnle says:

” To be successful, we need to invest in our children’s future and invest in our teachers that given their all day in and day out. We need to invest in our education system and the teachers that have dedicated their lives to educating our children. Too often they end up being the scapegoat for what is wrong in education, when it’s the politicians and corporate greed that are to blame. As an elected politician, I will devote all my energy to give our children and parents the choices they deserve to give our next generations of children the fighting chances that they deserve as well as skills necessary to compete on a local and global scale without doing any further cutting to education’s already thinned budget.”

– Kuhnle rightly notes that state funded education, is the most important investment a generation can make in the future. Education is a key ingredient in lifting people from poverty, and providing them with the critical faculties a democracy requires. It seems that whilst Republicans work to reduce spending on education (currently stands at 6% of the Federal Budget, whilst Defense spending stands at a staggering 57%), Kuhnle notices just how important it is to invest in the future of the United States; its children.

Kuhnle also neatly summarises the failings of a fundamentalist approach to free market economics, by stating exactly whose side he stands on:

“I will stand with our workers, both unionized and independent, to ensure that their rights of working a living wage, a safe working environment that is not just physically safe but mentally and emotionally safe, and productivity standards are not skewed to extremes that put workers at a disadvantage.”

– He isn’t dedicated to those earning over $250,000 a year – like Stutzman is seemingly dedicated to – Kuhnle is promising the huge task of working to rectify the deficiencies of the system. The increasing cost of living, the erosion of worker rights, a lack of consideration for those suffering psychologically, and safety in the workplace.

Kuhnle is right to point out that low wages are an issue for Indiana, that Stutzman is failing miserably to address whilst busy trying to defund a healthcare law that actually lower living costs for families in his own district. Kuhnle notes:

“To grow our families stronger, we need to focus on increasing the opportunities of earning a living wages”.

– Kuhnle appears to be more in-tune with real people, and their real concerns about education, fairness in the workplace, and healthcare costs, than his Republican counterpart. The Indiana Institute for Working Families echoes Kuhnle’s concerns:

“Given the new economic reality that families across Indiana face, including stagnating wages and the increasing costs of supporting a family, targeted work supports are more important than ever.”

– Indeed, only Democrats have so far co-sponsored the ‘Fair Minimum Wage Act’. Whilst Kuhnle appears ready to govern for Indiana, Stutzman appears to me to be a Tea Party opportunist whose concern is not for his district, but for his ideology. If the people of Indiana want a Congress that works, it is useless to elect a candidate whose ideology is more important to him than they are. It is useless to elect a candidate who will throw a stick into the wheels of government unless that government does exactly as his small group of extremists demand. Indiana’s 3rd can do far better than that.

It will be a tough campaign for Kuhnle, but it is most certainly possible. He is a much needed voice in Congress. Click here if you wish to help the Kuhnle campaign, and help to paint Congress blue in 2014.

Vote Justin Kuhnle for Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District in 2014.

See here for FD’s focus on Florida’s 2nd, and Illinois’ 13th Congressional Districts.
See here for FD’s focus on West Virginia’s 2nd, and Colorado’s 6th Congressional Districts.
See here for FD’s focus on California’s 1st, and California’s 25th Congressional Districts.
See here for FD’s focus on Wisconsin’s 5th Congressional District.
See here for FD’s focus on Florida’s 19th Congressional District.


Atheism, Aisha, and Answering a Critic

October 25, 2013

Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: ~crystalina~ (Flickr).

Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Author: ~crystalina~ (Flickr).

I’ve commented a couple of times on Islamic blogger, and occidentalist Hakeem Muhammad’s obsession with presenting every critical comment of Islam, as a product of racism. I wrote here taking point by point Hakeem’s claim that Atheism itself, is a product of white supremacy. Indeed secularism – all belief treated equally under the law – he considers a white supremacist plot. What I’ve come to understand by Hakeem’s obsession with ensuring that every criticism has a racial element to it, is that he considers the criticism and the critic as a threat to an unearned, unjustifiable religious privilege that simple ‘belief’ has allowed believers to enjoy for so long. It is the only reason that his most recent attack on me (though I do like the picture he used, I scrub up well when I try), contained the word “white” 15 times. And every one of those times, to reiterate just how terrible critics of Islam are, if they happen to be white. “Racist white men”, “misogynistic white men”, “Patriarchal white men”, “white saviour complex”. It is quite insulting to be reduced to what colour my skin is, rather than the content of my argument.

Let’s begin at the start:

“Here is futiledemocracy’s basic argument: Ayesha, who lived over 1,400 years ago, was a victim of sexual assault, and I, as a white male, need to save her. ”

– No it isn’t. This has never been my ‘basic argument’. The article in question can be seen here. My argument was quite clear, allow me to reiterate what I said, and what Hakeem completely misrepresented:

“Therefore the Prophet – when it comes to his marriage to a young girl – cannot be judged entirely by today’s standards. He is anchored to the cultural context of the period in which he lived. It would be arrogant of me to suggest that had I lived back then, and in that region, I would have felt the same way as I do today. Of course I wouldn’t, because I am constrained by the context of the time. But Hakeem fails in his basic premise, when we flip the argument back around to face him. The Prophet Muhammad, to Hakeem, was in touch with the eternal. He was in touch with a being that transcends time. He is not restricted by the cultural context of 7th Century Arabia, and in fact for Muslims, the Prophet is there to change the context of the time period. He certainly isn’t restricted by it.”

– My argument was structured upon the concept of ‘objective’ morality as offered by the religious, and how that static concept hinders progress. In other words, how anchoring your sense of moral justice to a 7th Century text might cause some problems in the future. I never claim the Prophet is a paedophile in the modern sense, and don’t consider it right to do so. I also don’t believe he was a Prophet, nor heard the word of God, and therefore Muhammad is just another human being constrained by the social context of the time in which he lived. However, it is the enshrining of that one particular time period into a system that is claimed to be timeless and unchanging and taught as truth to young and impressionable minds, that I find repulsive and dangerous. I do not claim Muhammad, or Aisha’s father could at that time rationalise that promising a young girl in marriage at such a young age to an old man, locks her into a life without her considered consent and is in fact abuse. Of course they didn’t understand the effects of child abuse, 1400 years ago.

Similarly, those who wrote and later edited the Old Testament books were writing from the context of their time, and so the buying of selling of slaves as advocated in Leviticus 25:44-46 is completely redundant today, and called out for the horrifying “objective” moral cancer that it is. And whilst Christians continue to chirp the same “we have a book of objective morality” nonsense, they eerily discard those passages that no are no longer acceptable to modern life. And so, Muslims and Christians have in fact out grown and progressed beyond the “morality” of their own Gods.

I thought I would comment on Aisha’s age, because it has become a relatively new form of apologetics, mainly by Western Muslims, who feel a sense of shame that their Prophet might have consummated his marriage to a child. It is they who abuse the memory of the history of their religion by trying to twist it to fit a modern narrative. They tend to present that modern narrative, disregarding the historical consensus for the story of Muhammad and Aisha, to seem more presentable to a global audience that has come to understand child abuse for what it is; a cancer. So I will focus here on Hakeem’s highlighted point:

“Ayesha was an adult when the marriage was consummated”

– This is by no means an established Islamic truth (it certainly isn’t an established reality-based truth). In fact, according to muslim.org, the first person to suggest that Aisha may not have been 9 years old when the marriage was consummated, was Maulana Muhammad Ali, in the 1920s. For 1200+ years, this wasn’t even questioned. And from my reading, the new 20th Century interpretations are almost all based on very weak guessing games and conjecture, rather than the actual testimony of Aisha…. the testimony of whom Hakeem places great importance upon… until it doesn’t go his way. No evidence is progressed for why the testimony of Aisha is wrong. It’s just ignored, despite the fact that the well respected and authentic source sahih al-Bukhari is quite clear on the matter:

“Narrated Aisha:
The Prophet engaged me when I was a girl of six (years). We went to Medina and stayed at the home of Bani-al-Harith bin Khazraj. Then I got ill and my hair fell down. Later on my hair grew (again) and my mother, Um Ruman, came to me while I was playing in a swing with some of my girl friends. She called me, and I went to her, not knowing what she wanted to do to me. She caught me by the hand and made me stand at the door of the house. I was breathless then, and when my breathing became All right, she took some water and rubbed my face and head with it. Then she took me into the house. There in the house I saw some Ansari women who said, “Best wishes and Allah’s Blessing and a good luck.” Then she entrusted me to them and they prepared me (for the marriage). Unexpectedly Allah’s Apostle came to me in the forenoon and my mother handed me over to him, and at that time I was a girl of nine years of age.
Sahih al-Bukhari: Volume 5, Book 58, Number 234:

– And in fact, again, in sahih al-Bukhari:

“Narrated Hisham’s father:
Khadija died three years before the Prophet departed to Medina. He stayed there for two years or so and then he married ‘Aisha when she was a girl of six years of age, and he consumed that marriage when she was nine years old.”
Volume 5, Book 58, Number 236.

– If these verses are considered to be entirely wrong by the apologists, why is everything else supposedly collected by Muhammad al-Bukhari not considered just as questionable? Indeed, Hakeem himself, in his article references al-Bukhari and tells us that only a “white misogynist” (why race has anything to do with misogyny, is beyond me) would disregard the testimony of Aisha, and then goes on to use her testimony in al-Bukhari to support his point. He then completely ignores her testimony when she gives her actual age (he must be a white supremacist). Not only that, but Muhammad al-Bukhari’s findings are confirmed by Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, whose Hadith are considered second in authenticity only to al-Bukhari:

Aisha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: “Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house when I was nine years old.”
Sahih Muslim 8:3310

– Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari in his wonderful Quranic commentary ‘Tafsir al-Tabari’ also appears fine with the age of Aisha at the point the marriage was consummated:

“I was brought in while Muhammad was sitting on a bed in our house. My mother made me sit on his lap. The other men and women got up and left. The Prophet consummated his marriage with me in my house when I was nine years old. Neither a camel nor a sheep was slaughtered on behalf of me.”
Al-Tabari, Vol. 9, p. 131

– The fact that Aisha was a young child is repeated through many more verses, including Abu Dawud 41:4915:

“Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin: “The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) married me when I was seven or six. When we came to Medina, some women came. according to Bishr’s version: Umm Ruman came to me when I was swinging. They took me, made me prepared and decorated me. I was then brought to the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him), and he took up cohabitation with me when I was nine. She halted me at the door, and I burst into laughter.””

– And again, in Ibn Majah Vol. 3, Book 9, Hadith 1877:

“It was narrated that: Abdullah said: “The Prophet married Aishah when she was seven years old, and consummated the marriage with her when she was nine, and he passed away when she was eighteen.”

– Prize winning author Safiur Rahman Mubarakpuri in his modern day biography of the Prophet ‘Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum’ writes:

“She was six years old when he married her. However, he did not consummate the marriage with her till Shawwal seven months after Al-Hijra, and that was in Madinah. She was nine then. She was the only virgin he married, and the most beloved creature to him. As a woman she was the most learnèd woman in jurisprudence.”

– It takes some incredibly creative number games (or the usual… the interpretation must be wrong!) to attempt to dismiss the obvious, in order to appeal to a modern narrative. Hakeem is one of those seemingly embarrassed by the age of Aisha when his Prophet married and consummated the marriage to his young bride. Hakeem’s article is a mess of inconcise arguments from “She wasn’t a child!” to “It was fine to marry children back then!” to “omg why aren’t you focusing on how great Aisha was?” Look:

“Ayesha was outspoken, powerful, and witty; certainly not the type of woman who people would see as a victim. This utter demolishing of such a fallacious trope demonstrated by Ayesha’s life leads to imperial feminists slandering, degrading, and misrepresenting her story.”

– So that’s “white supremacists”, “white misogynists”, “patriarchal white men”, and “imperial feminists”. Meaningless ad hom attacks. Hakeem the psychologist has now apparently decided he knows “the type of woman who people would see as a victim”, presumably the opposite of outspoken, powerful and witty.

It is absolutely right, when talking about a man considered the ideal human being, whose life must be replicated as best as possible, to thoroughly critique and understand that life. This cannot be escaped by glossing over it, focusing on something entirely different – like Aisha’s ability in war or her later political prowess – or attacking anyone who does bring up the uncomfortable narrative of the marriage and consummation, as “imperialists” or “white supremacists”. It isn’t good enough.

As it turns out, I do quite like Aisha. She seems to have been incredibly rebellious, supremely well educated and echoes suspicions we non-believers share with regard the questionable times the Prophet has ‘revelations’ coinciding with his own personal desire for women:

Narrated Aisha: I used to look down upon those ladies who had given themselves to Allah’s Apostle and I used to say, “Can a lady give herself (to a man)?” But when Allah revealed: “You (O Muhammad) can postpone (the turn of) whom you will of them (your wives), and you may receive any of them whom you will; and there is no blame on you if you invite one whose turn you have set aside (temporarily).” I said (to the Prophet), “I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires.”
Sahih Bukhari 6:60:311

– Sarcasm at its finest! And I completely agree with her. She was certainly impressive, outspoken, witty and suspicious, and rightfully so, given that Sura 66 of the Qur’an exists for no other reason than to threaten the Prophet’s wives with hellfire usually reserved for us terrible Atheists. Never one to miss an opportunity to speak degradingly and violently against those of us who don’t believe, the same Sura 66 insists that the Prophet should “deal sternly” with us because “Hell will be their home”. It then goes on to note specific women currently in hell, in order to ensure Aisha and Hafsa toe the line and allow their husband to continue his conquest of slave girls.

Whilst Aisha’s strength in suspicion and outspokenness, and her dedication to women’s education must be taken into account for discussions around Aisha as a person according to Islamic accounts and women in Islam today; her achievements and historical importance do not apply to a debate around the ‘objective moral anchor’ that Islam claims through the life of its Prophet especially when it concerns the vulnerable. It is a separate discussion, and one that shouldn’t be overlooked, especially when child marriage in Islamic states continue to this day.

But we must also note that in late antiquity, child marriage was not confined to Islam. Child marriage was common across the World, in Europe too, and lasted until very recently. It is unfair for non-Muslims to focus on the Prophet Muhammad whilst ignoring the vast majority of the rest of the very Patriarchal planet for the past few thousand years. It was a planet (and still is) ruled by men, for men. It is no surprise that Holy Texts reflect that. But it isn’t the context of the time that is the debate here, it is the enshrining of the context of one time period, for all subsequent time periods, through the life and deeds of one man confined by that time period, and presenting it as universal “truth”. That simply cannot be justified.

Indeed, if you absolutely believe that a text that anchors ‘right and wrong’ to a single geographical location at a single point in time, is the unchangeable word of truth, requires the belief that everything in that text is infallible, that the God who spoke those words exists across the context of all time periods did not consider it important to let the Prophet know that marrying and having sex with children might be wrong. This is uncompromisable to believers, and that is when dogma becomes dangerous. Given that a perfect God must know in the 7th Century, that which we in the 21st Century now understand about the horrific psychological effects of child abuse, why would He insist on intervening with Sura 66 to sort out the Prophet’s love life…. but not intervene to let his followers know the damage caused by child abuse? From an Atheist point of view, Muhammad cannot be condemned through 21st Century specs. The concept of anchored morality to one specific point in time…. absolutely can be condemned.


Stimulus: GOP Letters of Hypocrisy.

October 22, 2013

The Republican hypocrisy machine has been in full swing for quite some time. For the past forty years, it has been Republicans pushing for employer and individual health insurance mandates. Just nine years ago, anti-universal healthcare Republicans were proclaiming the necessity if a US funded universal healthcare system in Iraq. Just three years ago, House Republicans were expressing their staunch opposition to attaching legislative vehicles to Continuing Resolutions. It would also seem that four years after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed, Republicans are still highlighting their “No” votes, as a sure sign of their fiscal responsibility, and evidence for the President’s ‘socialist’ credentials.

With 2014 fast approaching the GOP talking point appears to be “getting spending under control” insisting that only Republicans can achieve a fiscally responsible future. And so the hypocrisy machine is back in full swing.

Congressman Pat Tiberi of Ohio’s 12th District was a vocal critic of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009. The entire idea of stimulus angered him to his very core. He announced that:

“it’s loaded with Nancy Pelosi’s grab bag of big spending wishes.”

“What the Democratic Stimulus does include is unprecedented, record-breaking spending that saddles future generations with mountains of debt. Americans deserve better.”

– In public, Tiberi was so incredibly angry with the stimulus package put forward in early 2009, that by September 2009 in private, he signed a letter of support for the TIGER programme built into the stimulus package for a Federal grant for his district, with which he notes would:

“…not only continue the ongoing economic development in the region, but enhance mobility and liveability in the communities in and around Columbus…”

“… enhance economic competitiveness in the region…”

– The grovelling letter continues in that tone for another few paragraphs. But don’t take my word for, here is the final paragraph, and the Congressman’s signature, to see for yourself:

Untitled-1

Rep. Tiberi is of course not the only one. Here is a brief summary of before-stimulus, and after-stimulus GOP statements:

Rep Gus Bilirakis (R-FL 12th) called the stimulus the worst bill he’d ever voted against, adding:

“Congressional Democrats have produced a bill that does nothing to aid small businesses and will not spur economic growth according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.”

– In September 2009, Bilirakis penned this letter:

Gus Bilirakis, stimulus, 2009, obama, republicans, gop hypocrisy, usa economy
– In less than a year, Bilirakis went from publicly insisting that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would not spur economic growth, to producing a letter insisting that stimulus funds to his district would spur economic growth.

The ex-Representative for Ohio’s 7th district, Steve Austria blamed Franklin Roosevelt – elected in 1933 – for the Great Depression – began in 1929 – and used this as a reason why he voted No on stimulus, stating:

“When Roosevelt did this, he put our country into a Great Depression. He tried to borrow and spend, he tried to use the Keynesian approach, and our country ended up in a Great Depression. That’s just history.”

– Given how catastrophic (and wrong) Steve Austria believes a Keynesian approach to economic struggle would be for the US, it seems odd that he’d become a part of that predicted catastrophe, by suggesting the opposite is true:

steve austria, gop hypocrisy, stimulus 2009, obama stimulus
– Interestingly the “Republican Liberty Caucus” voted Austria 84% for his support of what they see as economic liberty. An 84% economic liberty rating, despite Austria begging for stimulus funds that the “Republican Liberty Caucus”, in 2009, deemed to be:

“Marxist stimulus”

– I guess that would make Steve Austria 16% Marxist.

On July 28th 2009, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA’s 1st) spent his time in the House Chamber asking:

“Mr. President, where’s the stimulus package? Where are the jobs? […] Mr. Speaker, this is not the change the folks in Coffee County, Georgia, can use. They need jobs.”

– On the same July 28th 2008, the same Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA’s 1st) sent out two Press Releases taking credit for almost $250,000 worth of stimulus money toward hiring new police officers and combating violence against women, and internet crime involving children:

“We’ve seen from experience that local initiatives go a lot further toward solving local problems that policies set in Washington. This funding will provide tax relief by savings local tax dollars and, under the stewardship of Chief Livingston, will go a long way to fight crime more effectively through community policing.”

– What he means by “local initiatives” is “the Bill I am currently shouting down in the House”. Not only that, but less than two months later, the same Jack Kingston was back again, asking for even more stimulus money. According to a Press Release on his own website:

Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA/01) announced today that the City of Savannah is the recipient of a series of grants from U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The city will receive a community development block grant (CDBG), an emergency shelter grant (ESG) and a HOME grant to support affordable housing.

“This series of funding is essential in helping the city strengthen its low-income communities” Congressman Kingston said. “The money enables the city to give continued support to the agencies in the area that support that mission which is even more important during this tough economic period.”

– Needless to say, the Press Releases does not mention that this package comes almost entirely from the stimulus package he spent July insisting wouldn’t work, wouldn’t create jobs, and wouldn’t help the people of Georgia at all. But Kingston was finished there. After claiming credit for stimulus funds directly benefiting his constituency whilst simultaneously fighting against stimulus, he also penned this letter demanding more:

jack kingston, stimulus 2009, president obama stimulus, gop hypocrisy

It would appear that as long as you keep up the bravado of being anti-government, anti-spending, fiscally responsible to a conservative audience who are under the odd impression that the President is some sort of reincarnation of Joseph Stalin, you can simultaneously be as pro-government, pro-spending as you wish in private in the hope of taking credit for the outcome of that spending. Your district can then be shown to be job and wealth creating during difficult economic periods, whilst maintaining an anti-government spending mask, rather than telling those who benefitted from the created jobs that you fought to make sure it couldn’t happen in the first place. It is an unjustifiable, insincere rhetorical device and grave hypocrisy.


The Superiority of Secularism.

October 19, 2013

“I think our own hearts can teach us, no longer to look round for imaginary supports, no longer to invent allies in the sky, but rather to look to our own efforts here below to make this world a fit place to live in, instead of the sort of place that the Churches in all these centuries have made”
– Bertrand Russell.

Secularism is the natural and logical human reaction to the oppressive Patriarchal, Theocratic, Despotic, irrational, dogmatic, anti-human values that are so disagreeable to the human desire for freedom and equality.

Indeed, at its core, secularism is a level playing field, a natural system free from dogma that is conceived for the sake of anti-institutional-prejudice. That is why secularism is superior. It is that simple. Anything other than secularism tilts the playing field in one particular direction, thus becoming radically unfair. It then follows that anything other than secularism, is the advocation of the supremacy of one particular faith; a system of unjustifiable privilege and power.

I maintain that any system of power cannot be justified without enshrining equal rights for all under a legal framework for protection of those rights; gender equality, sexuality equality, race equality, and the right to believe, think, and express however you so wish without threat. All of those notions of equality are not compatible with any other system of power thus conceived by human beings, other than secular democracy. By enshrining these rights and noting that we are all born equal regardless of gender, sexuality, race, or belief; we maximise the possibility of human social advancement, understanding, and compassion by enfranchising those who would otherwise be held back, and treated less than equal under any other system. This is secularism and democracy.

The fact that we reached a stage of social evolution where it became necessary to separate church from the power of state in order to secure basic rights, is evidence of the cruelty that religion imposed upon the people when it did have power. One only need look at states that are still Theocratic, to see a continuation of that cruelty and oppression in 21st century. See my article on the treatment of homosexuality in Saudi Arabia. Secularism is the forward march of rationality and progress that must be combined with democracy for the sake of the rights of all. Religion when mixed with politics and law is cultural stagnation – usually anchored to far more violent periods of history – based on unverifiable dogma masquerading as universal truth and beauty for the sake of the social supremacy of those who believe over those who don’t. One read through a religious text quickly teaches us that we have in fact progressed since the barbaric days in which they were written.

Imagine secularism as a line of power. A line on which stands all genders, all sexualities, all races, all faiths. The line ensuring all are considered equal. No one group above another. A line that transcends generations. If any one of those groups deviate and raise above the line, or choose to push others below the line, we suddenly find ourselves in a situation in which secularism has been replaced by an illegitimate authority that has no right to do so (or no right thus rationalised adequately). The maintaining of that line, is necessary to protect against dogmatic injustices that appear as a result of one group raising above the line.

Secularism allows for the religious to believe and express the violent notion that we non-believers are cursed to spend eternity burning in the unforgiving flames of hell. That is your right to believe and to say. Similarly, I have a right to say that I find that disgusting, worthless, outdated, and worthy of nothing but ridicule and condemnation. Under a Theocratic system, believers would be free to believe and express the violent notion that we non-believers are cursed to spend eternity burning in the unforgiving flames of hell, but we non-believers would have no protection under the law to criticise and ridicule and hold those views to be contemptuous and cancerous. The level playing field of secularism is the protection of all ideas regardless of how insulted we may be by them.

When George Wallace was sworn in as Governor of Alabama, he stood on the same spot that Confederate President Davis stood 102 years earlier, and swore:

“In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”

– He was arguing and fighting for the perpetuation of the supremacy of the colour of his skin, enshrined into law. Individual liberty, and the realisation of ones dreams and hopes and ambitions were severely limited to what colour your skin was. It takes a very long time to undo the vicious chains applied by the power of the supremacy of one particular race, but it is necessary and rational to foster a system that breaks those chains and levels the playing field, and whilst the UK and US still has major roads to travel until the ideals of secularism and equality are realised, they are on the right path. There are also some wonderful secular Muslim groups working to the same end – ‘British Muslims for Secular Democracy’ for example – who must be supported and defended against all those who wish to subdue them.

Speaking of those who wish to subdue others. Religious supremacy also tends to have male supremacy, and heterosexual supremacy built into its very foundations. A critic of mine, the increasingly Patriarchal Hakeem, when rather putridly attempting to defend grown men marrying children, says:

“Due to being moral relativists, the critics of Muhammad must judge him precisely as they would judge anyone else who lived in that time period; they cannot morally condemn him if, in his day, it was the norm to marry someone who is younger than today’s age of consent and consummate the marriage later. The only way to provide an objective basis for morality is to believe in a transcendent being (God) which, as atheists, the authors of “Does God Hate Women?” deny.”

– And here, for once, I absolutely agree with him. There is no God. Therefore the Prophet – when it comes to his marriage to a young girl – cannot be judged entirely by today’s standards. He is anchored to the cultural context of the period in which he lived. It would be arrogant of me to suggest that had I lived back then, and in that region, I would have felt the same way as I do today. Of course I wouldn’t, because I am constrained by the context of the time. But Hakeem fails in his basic premise, when we flip the argument back around to face him. The Prophet Muhammad, to Hakeem, was in touch with the eternal. He was in touch with a being that transcends time. He is not restricted by the cultural context of 7th Century Arabia, and in fact for Muslims, the Prophet is there to change the context of the time period. He certainly isn’t restricted by it.

Therefore, the ‘objective’ moral base from Hakeem’s God – who sees fit to intervene to demand which direction people should pray toward, but doesn’t see fit to intervene to suggest marrying a child might be wrong – has no problem with grown men marrying children. The Prophet today, would be absolutely fine with marrying a 9 year old girl, because his God permitted it not just for the 7th Century, but for all time. This is the absolute epitome of Patriarchy and abuse and very very dangerous. And Hakeem wishes to uphold it. His article is one long pointless ramble that could be summed up with “It’s fine to marry kids! Aisha loved it! And all those who say otherwise are white supremacists blah blah incoherent rant.”

However, whilst Hakeem is right to claim that we Atheists – in order to be consistent (unless we argue from the Muslim perspective) – cannot tie the Prophet to anything but the context of his time, Hakeem is wrong in suggesting that we secular Atheists believe we have an “objective” base for our moral understand. No Atheist will tell you we have an “objective” base for our moral values, when “objective” is defined by the religious. I simply say, that human basis of right and wrong – whether you’re an Islamist like Hakeem, or an Atheist like myself – has never been defined by religion, that we have always used our rational judgement to make a moral decision based on our understanding of the World at that moment, and that that ability to rationalise is key to the evolution of our collective understanding of right and wrong. Sometimes we have got it wrong, but we learn and we improve, as an in-built species survival mechanism derived from a group mentality that has shaped our evolutionary history. This is a process of necessary cooperation, conflict resolution, altruism, and the part of our brain that deals with empathy. I maintain that all religions simply grabbed on to the moral context of a time that they were born into, and try continually to compel us all – by force of religious supremacy – to lay stagnant in that context, on fear of punishment.

Similarly, we see primitive forms of “morality” in the nature of our primate cousins. They appear to recognise the situation of their contemporaries and act accordingly. They (what we might call “anthropoid apes”) show evidence of empathy, and group cooperation. There are some excellent studies into the empathetic displays by certain primates. I would argue that to dismiss the evolution of empathy within primates, as a key ingredient to human morality, would be to suggest that it has no bearing on our decision making, and to dismiss all understanding derived from scientific observation and experimentation, instead putting your hands over your ears and saying “la la la I’m not listening! Allah did it!!”.

Another key ingredient, is the accepted scientific method of observing and evaluating what works, and what doesn’t work; what helps humanity and the individual within the society (both important factors) and what doesn’t. Again, this is a product of our evolution as a species. If I put those two together; our evolved sense of “morality” and our socially evolved sense of empirical evidence gathering; this is where that which we have labeled “morality” stems. Human beings are wonderfully reasoned primates.

Regardless of the way Hakeem twists the words of his faith to appear less vicious, less supremacy-driven, less Patriarchal… it cannot be escaped. Religious supremacy, at its core, is no different and no less oppressive than any other form of supremacy. It demands subjugation of others. The Qur’an makes quite clear:

“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allah), and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband’s property, etc.). Regarding the woman who is guilty of lewd, or indecent behavior, admonish her (if she continues in this indecency then), stop sharing her bed (if she still continues doing this lewd behavior, then), [set forth for her the clear meaning of either straighten up or else we are finished and when she returns to proper behavior take up sharing the bed with her again], but if she returns in obedience (to proper behavior and conduct) then seek not against them means (of annoyance). Surely, Allah is Ever Most High, Most Great.”

– Indeed, the website “Islam Tomorrow” explains this verse:

“Now we can properly understand that Almighty God has commanded the men to provide for the women and allow them to keep all of their wealth, inheritance and income without demanding anything from them for support and maintenance. Additionally, if she should be guilty of lewd or indecent conduct, the husband is told to first, admonish her and then if she would cease this lewdness. If she should continue in this indecency, then he should no longer share the bed with her, and this would continue for a period of time. Finally, if she would repent then he would take up sharing the bed with her again.”

– There is no sense of equality here. There is only the sense of an owner (the man) and his animal (the woman). The woman is treated like property that requires a man to keep her in her place, on threat of punishment. This is Islamic supremacy, & male supremacy. Secularism ensures this kind of poison does not infect the lives of those of us who believe in the beauty of equality. I am quite sure that Emily Pankhurst wasn’t fighting for the right of a man to “admonish” her if she freely chose to act “lewd” according to a man’s interpretation of that term.

And then Hakeem moves onto a complete misunderstanding of secularism (though this is from a man who, when he cannot provide any logical argument – which is all the time – resorts to calling all those who disagree with him, a white supremacist):

“A perfect example of this is the issue of homosexuality. If you read literature by early secular socialists, they were vehemently against homosexuality, some arguing it was an unnatural behavior that was a product of capitalism. In the modern era, however, socialists are among the most vocal of advocates in normalizing homosexuality. Now some would give them a pat on their back for their more tolerant and progressive views. The question is, based upon what criteria are they progressive? And who is to say they won’t flip their views a couple of decades from now, believing once again that homosexuality is an elitist lifestyle of the capitalist upper-class, as they once argued? And then they would get another pat on the back for being progressive, when in reality, all that happened is they allowed their morality to be fluid, rather than based on a solid foundation.”

– Firstly, he is correct that early Communists violently disapproved of homosexuality. That’s where his “being right” ends. He fails to note how viciously his own religion treats gay people in Islamic countries, and how mainstream Islamic opinion is entirely negative toward sexuality being anything other than “straight = right, gay = hell bound!”. I would argue that the reason gay people have been so mistreated and abused for centuries, is down exclusively to the heterosexual supremacy of religion. Hakeem is wrong to use the term ‘secular’ to describe anyone who disapproved or may in the future disapprove of homosexuality. To disenfranchise, punish, or single out homosexual men and women for abuse or second-class rights, is the antithesis of secularism, and the establishing and ensuring the supremacy of heteorosexuality enshrined into the cultural fabric.

He seems to not understand the term “progressive”. We have moved from a stage of not understanding sexuality in the slightest, because our understanding up until very recently was based on Biblical prejudices that have endured for centuries…. to a position upon which we have based our understanding of sexuality on research and reason. And by doing so, we notice that heterosexuality and homosexuality are just two points on a spectrum, with neither being “better” or “natural” and thus “supreme” in comparison to the other. Thus, progress. To then suggest we might one day decide otherwise, can only be true if we suddenly decided to reintroduce religious considerations into the debate. Or, regression.

The misrepresentations are rather malodorous at times to say the least. One common misrepresentation is that secularism necessarily leads to eugenics, and the rise of Nazism. To suggest that the Nazi Party – which based its ideology on the advancement of one particular race, and worked to destroy the Jewish identity – was the result of secularism, is a catastrophic misunderstanding of secularism. The narrow frame upon which they tend to establish what led to the rise of Hitler is so intensely flawed that a response is largely unnecessary, but given the point of this defensive article, I thought it worth mentioning to highlight the basic flaws in anti-secular thought (I use the word ‘thought’ in its loosest possibility). Firstly, let’s point out that those – like Hakeem – obsessed with the idea that Atheists have no “objective” base (by which they mean, metaphysical base) for their morality echo the thoughts of Hitler, who in April 1933 said:

“Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith …we need believing people.”

– Secondly, the economic situation in Germany along with the humiliation of the Treaty at Versailles and centuries of anti-Jewish rhetoric spewed by the Catholic Church, led to the rise of Hitler and the horrendous genocide that followed. As a young man, Hitler read a lot of works by Martin Luther, the German Protestant reformer. One of which – “On the Jews and their lies“ – calls for Jews to be put to use as slaves, and Jewish schools burnt to the ground. This is the antithesis of secularism. It is the perpetuation of a system of privilege based on one particular race, and the conclusion of 2000+ years of Christian inspired anti-Jewish hate. Hitler wasn’t reading Thomas Paine or John Stuart Mill… Hitler was reading Luther.

And thirdly, supremacy. The Nazis were fighting to place their particular race above the aforementioned line of equality and establish racial supremacy. The illogic is no different to Hakeem attempting to place his religion above the aforementioned line of equality and establish religious supremacy. Only secularism ensures they cannot oppress, and that irritates both Islamists, and white supremacists. Hakeem’s dream for an Islamic-controlled state, is the reintroduction of Jim Crow based not on white supremacy, but on Islamic supremacy.

Secularism – as mentioned above – advocates a level playing field upon which no single gender, race, religion, or sexuality has a natural right to supremacy over any others. No one gender can rightfully be considered the “maintainers” of another. No one race is “greater” than another. No one sexuality is more “natural” than another. No one belief deserving of authority over others. No one is free to oppress another if the other is an apostate. Secularism allows for the ingenuity of everyone regardless of trivial differences to work to their full potential, the freedom to excel, to argue, to reason, to create, to live, to love, and to experience life in their own way, to their own beliefs. If you wish your particular gender, or sexuality, or race, or religion to deviate from that line of equality, you are going to have to work particularly hard to convince the rest of us to bow down in unquestioning subordination to your new found desire for supremacy, with reasoned and uncontentious points that stack up to more than “Well if you don’t give us power over your lives, you’re basically Hitler”.

For further reading, see my article on the right to blaspheme.
For more further reading, see my article on Hakeem Muhammad and his ludicrous claim that Atheism is a product of white supremacy.


Ask British Gas. The Titanic of PR Campaigns.

October 17, 2013

You have to question the wisdom of the social media team at British Gas who thought it a wonderful idea to begin a Twitter based #AskBG campaign on the same day the company announces a 9.2% price hike beginning on November 23rd.

In May this year British Gas insisted their 6% increase made from bills last winter (an extra £75 per customer) would be used to “put off” a price hike for as long as possible. Today it would appear that “as long as possible” to British Gas, means about five months. If today they were under any illusion that a Q&A Twitter session was going to achieve anything but a major PR disaster, that illusion was soon shattered. Here are a few of my favourite ‘Ask British Gas’ Twitter questions:

British Gas, Ask British Gas, Twitter, #askbg, energy prices

2

3

13

4

5

17

british gas, ask british gas, #askbg, electricity and gas

6

7

16

8

9

10

11

12

14


Bush White House paid for universal health care in Iraq.

October 15, 2013

In 2011, ex-Wisconsin Republican Governor Tommy Thompson announced his intention to run for the vacated Senate Seat for Wisconsin in 2012. During the campaign, Thompson told a Tea Party gathering:

“who better than me, that’s already finished one of the entitlement programs, to come up with programs that do away with Medicaid and Medicare?”

– Thompson’s inherent desire to ‘do away with’ essential government-run healthcare services was echoed in his earlier campaign press release in which he reads:

“I intend to continue the fight for a fiscally responsible, market-based approach to reforming our health care system that will improve both access and the quality of care.”

– Thompson is committed to healthcare as a market. To Thompson, the health of individuals is a commodity. The government cannot provide any meaningful provision of health care according to Thompson. So imagine my surprise when it turns out that in 2004, Thompson was the Bush administration’s top health care official as they signed off on a US funded $950mn universal healthcare plan…. for Iraq.

Following the war, and with redevelopment in mind, the US was instrumental in the framing and passing of the Iraqi Constitution in 2005. The US Institute of Peace reported:

“From the time the Leadership Council [this was a group developed outside of the National Assembly made up of senior Iraqi leaders from all sides in order to fast track negotiations] was formed, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad attended meetings regularly, and U.S. Embassy officials were engaged in less-than-subtle efforts to accelerate a final constitution. Several of the early meetings of the Leadership Council took place at the U.S. Embassy. By August 10, the United States was strongly expressing its views on substantive constitutional issues to reach fast compromises that resembled the terms of the TAL… On August 12, in efforts to accelerate the drafting process, the U.S. Embassy circulated its own draft constitution in English”

– At every stage, the Iraq Constitution was under scrutiny by the US. Nothing was overlooked. And so, along with the funding for a universal health care system, Article 31 of the Iraq Constitution states:

“Every citizen has the right to health care. The State shall maintain public health and provide the means of prevention and treatment by building different types of hospitals and health institutions. “

“Individuals and entities have the right to build hospitals, clinics,or private health care centers under the supervision of the State, and this shall be regulated by law.”

– This article and the establishing of a fundamental right to state-funded healthcare in 2005 to run alongside a well regulated private market, could only have been made possible by the funds allocated by the Bush administration to establish a universal health care system, supported by Republicans in Congress.

One of those Republican Congressman who spoke on the floor of the House in 2004, defending the Bush Administration’s $950mn universal healthcare project in Iraq was ex-Congressman Duncan L.Hunter. Hunter said:

“It is hugely important that we provide this infrastructure, this basic health care need to the Iraqi people”.

– It’s essential to note this, because in 2009, after his tenure in Congress was over, when asked about the Affordable Care Act in the US, the same Duncan Hunter said:

“Well listen, this is an attempt to socialize our country. And it is one that is attempted at what the architects of socialism and Marxism would view as being a “soft exposure” in the American fabric. That is, people are obviously concerned about health care. It is important to them, and they are concerned about having security with respect to health care. The problem is government healthcare doesn’t provide security. And in most of the cases we see around the world, it provides instead a system that is largely dysfunctional and provides inadequate care.”

– By his own standards, Hunter worked to create a ‘socialised’, ‘Marxist’, ‘dysfunctional’, and ‘inadequate’ health care system in another country, paid for by US dollars.

Where was Ted Cruz – the foe of any government interference in health care – you might ask? Well, at that time, Cruz was Solicitor General for the state of Texas, and instead of choosing to fight US funding for universal health care in Iraq, he was busy insisting that the Ten Commandments monument at the Texas State Capitol was in fact Constitutional. So now you know; to stop Ted Cruz threatening the health care of the Nation’s most vulnerable people, and closing down the government… just tell him the Ten Commandments on state buildings are unconstitutional. You’ll never hear from him again.

With Ted Cruz and fellow Republicans either fully supporting universal health care in Iraq paid for by the US taxpayer, or just entirely silent on the issue, Democrats were raising concerns. In fact, one of the few who raised objections to the project was the then Democrat Senator from North Dakota, Byron Dorgan. On the Senate floor in April 2004, Dorgan suggested the Iraqi government should perhaps securitise future production of Iraqi oil in order to raise funds for reconstruction:

“It is their job, not the job of American taxpayers to have a program for housing, health care, jobs, and highways in Iraq. That ought not be the burden of the American taxpayer.”

Another Democrat to raise his concerns, was Tim Ryan (D-OH). On the House floor in 2005, Ryan said:

“So we are cutting health care, increasing premiums, increasing co-pays, and yet we have created a Welfare system in Iraq.”

– So whilst Democrats were raising concerns about a US tax payer funded universal healthcare system for Iraq…. Republicans were eerily silent whilst they accepted it without question.

We should also not forget that whilst the funds provided free training for doctors and nurses in Iraq (rightly so), it coincided with a $278mn cut to the Health Professionals Training Program in the US, and a $93mn cut to community access programs, that same year.

This was happening whilst the number of US citizens uninsured rose from 38.4 million when Clinton left office, to 46.3 million by the end of Bush’s term. Not one Republican Senator of House Representative threatened government, or default on the nation’s debt over the government funded establishment of universal health care for Iraq.

A Republican White House, with Republican Congressional support oversaw the framing of the Iraq Constitution that included universal health care as a fundamental human right, provided by the state, and initially funded by $950mn of US taxpayer money, and defended by a Tea Party favourite who now wishes to dismantle all state funded health care provisions.