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Oh, Hurl
Now, Hillary's blathering about her Imaginary Friend:

In response to a question about how she managed the infidelity in her marriage, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, said “I’m not sure I would have gotten through it without my faith.” The White House hopeful answered the question as part of Monday’s Faith and Politics forum at George Washington University moderated by CNN’s Soledad O’Brien.

“I am very grateful that I had a grounding in faith that gave me the courage and the strength to do what I thought was right,” Clinton said. “Regardless of what the world thought. And that’s all one can expect or hope for.”

The European world thinks it's weird that we have public officials who swear on the bible and make public speeches where they talk about god. I find it creepy that the leader of the free world believes, sans evidence, in Zeus. Or The Great Pumpkin. Or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Or in whatever unproven primitive notion they call god.

I think it's likely, given George Bush's admission that he feels the imaginary guy called god got him off "likker," that he does believe. And I know Hillary grew up religious. But, she's a highly intelligent women. Does she really believe in god, or, as Daniel Dennett surmises about many people, does she simply believe in the belief in god? (And, of course, as a politician, in anything that'll get her elected?)

Posted by aalkon at June 5, 2007 8:14 AM

Comments

Hillary is just pandering to the masses that she thinks might vote for her.

The rumour that I've been hearing for years is that she is gay, and didn't give a shit that Bill was boinking other women. Anyone else hear that rumour?

Posted by: Chrissy at June 5, 2007 6:35 AM

I've heard that rumor, too. It wouldn't surprise me, given what I hear from reader e-mails. More people than you'd think have that arrangement. In France, there's the cinq à sept -- the five to seven -- where somebody goes and fucks their affair partner during that time, and then comes home to the family. They're generally more realistic than we are about human nature.

And pandering is what they all do. GWB panders to those fundies, same as Hillary's apparently trying to, but probably with much more success (until recently, when many wised up).

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 5, 2007 6:45 AM

I think it's totally valid not to respect other people's beliefs (I sure don't respect a lot of yours), but it's another thing altogether to posit that they just can't possibly hold them. Yes, Hillary is intelligent, but she is also a socialist. I believe that she believes that socialism is a good thing. I also believe that's an idiotic belief. Smart people believe stupid things all the time.

Posted by: Jackie Danicki at June 5, 2007 8:34 AM

I agree that religion should have no legitimate place in politics, but if you're going to bash Hillary on this one, bash Obama and Edwards too. They took part in the same "round table" discussion sponsored by a religious group.

Posted by: deja pseu at June 5, 2007 10:18 AM

Politicians gotta pander, and the religious vote is important - they show up at the polls. I'm neither surprised nor disappointed that these candidates showed up to show off their faith. It's a smart move on their part; after the Bush administration, religious voters may be persuaded to vote for a Democrat (especially if the opponent is a thrice-married pro-choicer or a Jesus-denying Mormon). You can't win if you don't play!

Hillary is intelligent, but she is also a socialist.

This is just silly name-calling. Hugo Chavez is a socialist. Hillary Clinton is a moderate democrat. There's a world of difference. Hillary's politics are very much like her husband's, which were pro-market (NAFTA) and anti-socialist (welfare reform) in a whole bunch of important ways. And I say this not liking the woman much.

Posted by: justin case at June 5, 2007 12:50 PM

But did she ever use the word "God"? I have faith in a few things -- the resiliency of the human psyche, the intrinsic value of various types of hard work, etc, etc. Perhaps she was referring to similarly vague, secular unobservables.

Anyone running for president who professed atheism or agnosticism would be completely wasting his/her time and money.

Posted by: Lena at June 5, 2007 2:22 PM

First error: Hillary is NOT intelligent. She's crafty and manipulative, but dumb as dirt. She got to where she is by riding the charisma of her husband.

Second error: Hillary is a Stalinist. "We're going to take that tax cut away from you for the greater good". Centralized health-care. Anti-business agenda. In what meaningful way does she differ from a Socialist?

Third error: Bill was against welfare reform, and only signed it after vetoing it four times and having it rammed down his throat by a Republican congress.

Posted by: brian at June 5, 2007 5:58 PM

Brian, you're quite excitable.

Second error: Hillary is a Stalinist.

Yeah, the pogroms start as soon as gets sworn in!

And ill-informed.

Third error: Bill was against welfare reform

From Wikipedia:

The AFDC system was under constant attack in the 1980s; these continued in the 1990s, with Presidential candidate Bill Clinton vowing to "end welfare as we know it." Clinton, once elected, worked with a Democratic congress and met with considerable success in moving people from welfare to work through state waiver programs. These programs allowed states to experiment with various welfare reform measures. The system became a common target of Newt Gingrich and other Republican leaders, though changes had already been set in motion by Clinton and the Democrats. Toughening the criteria for receiving welfare was the third point (out of ten) in the Republicans' Contract with America. The tide of public opinion in favor of some change to the welfare system was considerable. The stage was already set by 1996. The welfare reform movement reached its apex on August 22, 1996, when President Clinton signed a welfare reform bill, officially titled the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. The bill was hammered out in a compromise with the Republican-controlled Congress, and many Democrats were critical of Clinton's decision to sign the bill, saying it was much the same as the two previous welfare reform bills he had vetoed. In fact, it emerged as one of the most controversial issues for Clinton within his own party.[Haskins 2006]

Posted by: justin case at June 5, 2007 6:33 PM

Look, you can dislike Hillary but to say she's not intelligent is just ridiculous. I don't like her health plan, nor am I thrilled to hear that she didn't read the footnotes in the docs leading up to the war, but before I ever knew who Bill Clinton was, I was reading her work in New York Review of Books on children's rights...and agree with her or not, the lady's got a brain. It's just disingenuous to say otherwise.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 5, 2007 7:57 PM

Amy -

I've listened to the woman speak. And she does not come across as intelligent. Sure, she can link together some impressive words, but whenever she's pressed for details it becomes obvious that she either hasn't bothered to think it through, or doesn't know how.

When you have someone who insists that central planning and control works for medicine, where it's been shown to be a failure everywhere it has ever been tried, what do you call it? Stupid, insane, or evil? Because it sure ain't smart.

Posted by: brian at June 5, 2007 8:20 PM

JC - your own links support what I said. Clinton's programs didn't actually DO anything. They were intended as mere window dressing.

Why do you think Maxine Waters (if memory serves) demanded of Clinton after signing the bill in 1996 "You're going to fix this, right?"

Posted by: brian at June 5, 2007 8:22 PM

Why do you think Maxine Waters (if memory serves) demanded of Clinton after signing the bill in 1996 "You're going to fix this, right?"

Cause he pissed off the party's liberal wing? (Are you so ignorant of Democratic politics that you're unaware that Bill Clinton's economic policies did that a lot?)

Look, it may not have gone as far as you (and the Gingrich congress) might have liked, but Clinton basically went about pushing DLC policies regarding welfare from day one, including allowing "states to experiment with various welfare reform measures" (see above); this is a federalist approach many small government advocates favor. Then he signed the compromise bill after getting to somewhere he liked - this is what Presidents do.

Brian, you're clearly quite knowledgeable about a lot of things, but I think you hate these people so much you can't think rationally about them.

Posted by: justin case at June 5, 2007 10:49 PM

Jackie, there's a difference between stupid beliefs that are bad ideas (socialism, for example), and believing in stuff that you have no proof exists. To believe without evidence takes a sequestering of your rationality -- a total shutting off of rational thought in that area.

Oh, and P.S. I was on deadline today and a bit rushed. I think the Hillary is gay rumor is probably perpetuated by her enemies (not that I think it's bad to be gay).

Brian, If you think Hillary's health care plan is bad (and I do), how do you feel about Bush's Iraq dealie? You find the man a genius for that?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 5, 2007 11:36 PM

I don't believe Hillary was motivated by her beliefs to stay with her philandering husband so much as the keen recognition that she needs to stay in a marriage to have a shot at being the first wonan President.

Personally, I think Bush is the creepiest president (and the worst) we've ever had, just for that reason. His decisions (so he says) are all based on what God supposedly tells him. Why he hasn't been removed and treated for his confessed schizophrenia is beyond me.) It's too reminiscent of King James' "Divine Right of Kings," the notion that Kings are ordained of God, and therefore even bad kings are placed by divine appointment and that their removal is contrary to the will of God.

God must be that which lines the pockets of Halliburton and his other various cronies then. It's apparent that Bush is motivated by nothing else.

Posted by: Patrick at June 6, 2007 12:06 AM

I never said he was a genius. I've often said that it's disgusting that of 15 possible choices in 2004, he was the least bad.

Bush's "Iraq Dealie"? Great idea, piss-poor execution. He decided that he needed to fight the war in a way that the media wouldn't savage him for. His mistake was in believing that the media would ever like him or anything he did. Armies have but two purposes: kill people and break things. We should have let them do just that, and then send in the engineers and diplomats after it was completely broken. And don't get me started on the completely limp response to repeated incursions into Iraq by Iran and Syria.

One more thing - Socialism is subjectively indistinguishable from religion. Both require a faith-based acceptance of something that cannot be proven in an empirical fashion, and that most available evidence refutes.

Posted by: brian at June 6, 2007 5:10 AM

I don't mind that some people don't believe in God; what bothers me are the hardcore atheists who equate faith with stupidity and evil.

I have my faith, and I keep it to myself. My reaction to people who proudly announce their non-belief is the same way I react to people who say they hate baseball: "You're missing a great thing, pal."

Posted by: RMc at June 6, 2007 5:22 AM

I don't mind that some people don't believe in God; what bothers me are the hardcore atheists who equate faith with stupidity and evil.

Are you bothered by fiscal conservatives who equate socialism with stupidity? Why is it wrong or nasty to criticize a belief system. I bet you criticize people's political beliefs. Why should religious belief -- the belief in an imaginary man in the sky be any different?

And you're missing a great thing, too. Believing that there's a giant carrot floating over your house that cares about whether you had a good bowel movement this morning. There's as much evidence for god as there is for The Great Carrot.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 6, 2007 6:25 AM

Socialism is subjectively indistinguishable from religion.

I think you're trying to say "objectively indistinguishable" (i.e., that under externally defined criteria, the two cannot be distinguished), but the reality is that your text "subjectively indistinguishable" (i.e., under personal Brian criteria, the two cannot be distinguished).

I'll distinguish the two:

Via Amy: There's as much evidence for god as there is for The Great Carrot.

(i.e., there is no evidence supporting the existence of god)

Look at Cuba and Venezuela: There's Socialism!

(i.e., clear and indisputable proof that socialism exists).

Socialism and God, distinguished. Not to tough, really.

Posted by: justin case at June 6, 2007 9:04 AM

Eh. Pre-coffee commenting again.

Should read:
I think you're trying to say "objectively indistinguishable" (i.e., that under externally defined criteria, the two cannot be distinguished), but the reality is that your text "subjectively indistinguishable" (i.e., under personal Brian criteria, the two cannot be distinguished) seems to be more correct.

And finally,
Not too tough, really.

Posted by: justin case at June 6, 2007 9:07 AM

Justin:

God != religion.

God is the object of religion. Religion is the belief in God, or the belief in that which cannot be verified to exist by any means of measurement we presently possess.

Utopia is the object of socialism. Socialism is the belief in utopia, or the belief in that which cannot be verified to be obtainable by any means available to the human imagination.

as far as subject/object - cut me some slack, it was early. Not that it matters. Whether it's my definitions or the visible reality, they are still functionally equivalent.

What exists in Cuba and Venezuela is indeed socialism, so socialism exists. The church down the street is indeed religious, so religion exists.

What they worship is up for debate.

Posted by: brian at June 6, 2007 9:45 AM

Brian, you're correct - I did misread you. Sorry bout that.

Socialism is the belief in utopia

I don't see this (except perhaps as envisioned in the "workers' paradise" end state of Marx's theory). In general, isn't socialism simply a system whereby certain aspects of property and the means of production are collectively state-directed? Maybe there are true believers, but I'd guess that the people who run socialist countries (like Cuba) or socialist-lite countries (like Western Europe) just think that it serves their ends, not that they're creating a utopia. Whereas the vast majority of people who are religious, do think they're doing what pleases God and might get them into heaven. The two situations don't seem analogous.

Am I still missing your point?

Posted by: justin case at June 6, 2007 10:47 AM

I don't mind that some people don't believe in God; what bothers me are the hardcore atheists who equate faith with stupidity and evil.

Are you bothered by fiscal conservatives who equate socialism with stupidity?

Socialism had pretty proved itself to be stupid, thank you very much.

Why is it wrong or nasty to criticize a belief system(?) I bet you criticize people's political beliefs.

If someone insists on ramming their beliefs (religious/political/whatever) down your throat while insisting you're some lower brand of human for rejecting their ideas, then, yeah, you got a right to criticize them. But it really appropriate to be as nasty as you're being with me right now? All I said is that I hold a religious faith. That was all. I'm not suggesting you're going to hell, or that you're evil, or any of that nonsense.

And you're missing a great thing, too. Believing that there's a giant carrot floating over your house that cares about whether you had a good bowel movement this morning.

(long, low whistle)

A bit touchy on this point, are we, Amy? Do you always whip out the sharp knives the moment anyone mentions faith, in any context? Must be a rather exhausting way to live. Most people adhere to some type of faith; do you spend all day long mocking them? (I'll bet you're a hoot at parties.)

Everybody's got the right to believe (or not believe) in anything they want. Mocking people's beliefs in not illegal, immoral or fattening, but it is rude. Sure, you got a right be nasty to anyone with whom you don't agree. And I have a right to call you on it.

There's as much evidence for god as there is for The Great Carrot.

Well, for you, anyway. Good luck.

Posted by: RMc at June 6, 2007 11:25 AM

you're being with me right now? All I said is that I hold a religious faith.

Would you consider me stupid if I believe somebody's contention that tulips are actually tiny Adolph Hitlers plotting to take over the world?

Evidence-free belief is dumb.

To quote Daniel Dennett: "Give religion no more respect than you’d accord to animal husbandry."

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 6, 2007 1:40 PM

I find it pretty hard to believe, RMc, that if someone told you they thought at the end of every rainbow there was a leprachaun with a pot of gold you wouldn't snort milk out of your nose. Rudeness has nothing to do with it. Most religious people who consider themselves to be rational find the belief in anything supernatural beyond a certain comfort level ridiculous. Then there's those of us who take rational thought to the next logical level and realize there's no difference between that leprachaun and "God".

As for Brian's assertion that Hillary Clinton is dumb, one can hardly be crafty and manipulative and stupid at the same time. It takes a certain basic intelligence to forment such wily personality traits. I detest Dick Cheney, but I'm not so blinded by personal political dogma to think he's anything but smart.

Posted by: Rebecca at June 6, 2007 2:03 PM

Would you consider me stupid if I believe somebody's contention that tulips are actually tiny Adolph Hitlers plotting to take over the world?

Godwin! Thread over! Drive home safely.

Actually, the fact you don't beleive in God doesn't bother me at all; I'm just curious where all this bile of yours comes from. I point out that I hold a religious faith in a very matter-of-fact, nonjudgemental way, and you attack me as if I was Jerry Falwell accusing you of being a whore headed straight to h-e-double hockey sticks.

I mean...Jesus Christ, woman! Calm down!

Evidence-free belief is dumb.

I've got evidence, but I'm sure you'd dismiss it in a heartbeat. And that's okay.

To quote Daniel Dennett: "Give religion no more respect than you’d accord to animal husbandry."

Interesting irony, you using the word "husbandry." ;)

Dennett, for those of you who don't know, is the leader of the "bright" movement. (Meaning the rest of us non-atheists are, er, dumb?)

At any rate...You Know Who bless you, Amy.


Posted by: RMc at June 6, 2007 2:14 PM

I find it pretty hard to believe, RMc, that if someone told you they thought at the end of every rainbow there was a leprachaun with a pot of gold you wouldn't snort milk out of your nose.

Some people believe God and/or the Bible (or Qu'ran, etc) without question (read: fundie nutfudges, suicide bombers).

Some people equate the idea of a Supreme Being (no, not Diana Ross) with believing in leprechauns; to them, it's the silliest in thing in the world (read: Amy and most of her readers).

And then there's the people in the middle, like me. Don't believe in God? Fine. I won't accuse you of being irrational or illogical. I'll just repeat what I said before: "you're missing a good thing, pal."

Posted by: RMc at June 6, 2007 2:20 PM

Rebecca -

People assert all the time that Bush is both dumb and a genius. Often in the same sentence.

But he's merely an average shlub who lucks out a lot.

Hillary is dumb. She just thinks that everyone else is dumber.

Posted by: brian at June 6, 2007 5:59 PM

But he's merely an average shlub who lucks out a lot.

This is pretty much right on, except I'm pretty sure he's used up his lifetime supply of luck by now. He's in so far over his head now, I actually kinda feel bad for him.

Hillary is dumb.

No, YOUR DUMB!

(yes, I know it's you're)

Posted by: justin case at June 7, 2007 9:28 AM

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