Smile Politely

Vashti McCollum and the Flying Spaghetti Monster

This past week, John McCain’s post-Palin bounce began to fade. Reality smacked everyone in the chops: no matter how you vote, your portfolio just shrunk. The sudden lightness in the purse corrected the “all Sarah Palin, all the time” coverage. A lot of news outlets are talking about an actual issue, now. It’s amazing how money can motivate.

But before the Lehman/Merrill-Lynch/AIG trifecta, party political commentators continued to flaunt the red herring, “you hate Sarah Palin because she’s a woman.” That’s silly. We hate — or rather, fear — Sarah Palin because she’s stupid.

You need no more evidence of her stupidity than her stance on Creationism and public education. Palin, when asked about Creationism in public schools, said that it should be taught side by side with science:

“Teach both. You know, don’t be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important and it’s so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both. And you know, I say this too as the daughter of a science teacher. Growing up with being so privileged and blessed to be given a lot of information on, on both sides of the subject — creationism and evolution. It’s been a healthy foundation for me. But don’t be afraid of information and let kids debate both sides.”

Her worldview is so tiny, so uninformed, she actually thinks there are only two sides. But creation myths have been around since way, way before Jesus. And even before Abraham.

Because the U.S. Constitution forbids any law respecting the establishment of religion, no particular sect can be elevated over others, where government is doing the acting. Government acts, on the municipal level, as the overseer of public schools. Ergo, no preferring of any particular religious doctrine in those schools.

This doesn’t suggest that public schools can’t teach about religion. It means they can’t pick one religion above others, and then teach about it. Sarah Palin has not read the Establishment Clause’s progeny of Supreme Court cases, so she doesn’t understand this complex point.

(Okay, it’s not that complex — but the truth is, Sarah Palin hasn’t read anything. She’s a fucking sportscaster

Oh shit… hold on…

Okay, in deference to Keith Olbermann . . . she’s a fucking local sportscaster.)

Champaign’s Vashti McCollum, the mother of ex-mayor Dan McCollum, took her Establishment case to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1947. Two years after her death, Champaign continues to employ an undereducated evangelical as its schools superintendent. (To his credit, he seems to have eschewed the unearned title “Doctor” for the default “mister.”)

People who don’t learn the mistakes of history may be bound top repeat them. But worse, people who don’t learn the mistakes of history waste our time, and tax dollars. Think of all the time we lose when our government spends its days raising questions that have already been answered. We went through this church/schools debate for half a century, litigiously. We’ve been through it for about 250 years now, philosophically.

You’d think conservatives might know about this. But lately, the “conservative movement” is about dumb people with bibles, not about thinking people with wallets. One of the remaining intelligent, conservative “conservatives,” David Brooks, lamented this week:

“The issue starts with an evaluation of Palin, but does not end there. This argument also is over what qualities the country needs in a leader and what are the ultimate sources of wisdom.

“There was a time when conservatives did not argue about this. Conservatism was once a frankly elitist movement. Conservatives stood against radical egalitarianism and the destruction of rigorous standards. They stood up for classical education, hard-earned knowledge, experience and prudence. Wisdom was acquired through immersion in the best that has been thought and said.

“But, especially in America, there has always been a separate, populist, strain. For those in this school, book knowledge is suspect but practical knowledge is respected. The city is corrupting and the universities are kindergartens for overeducated fools.

“The elitists favor sophistication, but the common-sense folk favor simplicity. The elitists favor deliberation, but the populists favor instinct.”

So simplicity had it’s week of brouhaha. Brouhaha may be a total MILF, but there are still those of us riding the complexity bandwagon. So don’t fear. You are not alone. And now that the Palin bump (not Bristol, the polls) is over, Sarah can’t even top the egregious estrogen-for-McCain weekly chart. She doesn’t even place second.

Staying informed last week compelled me to accept an earful of Übershrew Carly Fiorina. (I choose the pejorative “Übershrew” to eliminate any doubt that I don’t give a fuck whether you think it’s sexist to describe a woman as shrill. On the other hand, I think Paul Begala is shrill, too.)

Carly got stiffed in the Palin pick. Everyone I read this summer thought she would be McCain’s running mate. Like Hillary, Carly has stayed loyal to party. Like Begala, she will say anything to rationalize her party — and credibility be damned!

She’s also the woman responsible for the planned obsolescence of your HP/Compaq laptop power cord. (It’s not enough that the whole computer will be useless in three years. The power cord will have been replaced twice by then, at $65 a pop, for one meter of plastic and wire.)

Carly, (see how I call her by her first name, to demean her) who does not have sexual organs or hormones, did battle on This Week this week with Senator Claire McCaskill (who should have been Obama’s Veep pick). She told Andrea Mitchell — whose husband Alan Greenspan thinks McCain’s economic policy is crazy — that Tina Fey was sexist for portraying Sarah Palin as Sarah Palin. She spent what seemed like six straight days and nights on teevee, radio, blogs, chat, wherever. It’s good thing she pointed out that neither Palin, nor McCain, could run a Fortune 500 company. Now we’ll never have to listen to her again.

Keep in mind, Carly Fiorina is an expert on not knowing how to run a Fortune 500 company.

But neither Carly, nor Palin, was able to wrest the stupid-broad-of-the-week award from Lynn Forester.

See, since her marriage, Lynn has been titled Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild. This week, the big D Democrat — the Lincoln Bedroom honeymooning “Democrat” — announced her endorsement of John McCain. She says Obama is too “elitist.” I am not a proponent of the Obama brand. I like him. I would prefer he follow the Bill Clinton/DLC direction — towards the center. But whether I were touting the free market, a planned political economy, or Pol Potism . . .

de fucking Rothschild. Irony is too small a word, here.

After a week of listening to shrill, stupid women, I’d like to propose that we honor the very smart woman I cited above — the woman that tried to solve our Sarah Palin problems 61 years ago. I propose Vashti McCollum Day, right now, wherever you’re reading this.

Think about it.

And while you do, ask yourself: what has the debate about religion in school done to find sources of renewable energy? Well, nothing. Like a lot of god-bothering politics, it’s probably just a cynical cover for what’s really going on behind the scenes. In this case, we talk about god instead of renewable energy. (God is easier, because all the answers are already provided.)

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! He’s heavily invested in crude oil stocks. And yes, he’s spending an all-expenses weekend in Tahiti with your congressman, boozing and whoring. But look! Someone in California says Jesus isn’t his savior! Two fags want to marry! THE BIBLE IS BEING BURNED BY COMMUNISTS!

Middle-America distracted, Crude Oilman and Your Congressman return to their piña colada flavored blowjobs. And valuable books are quietly removed from your kid’s school library.

Or maybe I exaggerate. Maybe parochial education doesn’t make our children stupider. I suspect learnin’ about Jesus has no affect on a kid’s critical thinking skills.

But it definitely wastes time. And in that respect, it makes our children less informed than the Swiss, Swedish, and Japanese kids who’ll own all the tech companies where Kansan children will work as janitors.

When Kansas tried to bring church doctrine into public schools, a learned chap named Bobby Henderson derailed them, demanding that schools abide the Establishment Clause by giving equal time to his Creationist truth — as told in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Since then, the FSM movement has spread like prairie fire. I would like to establish a local chapter here.

Who’s with me?

From what I understand, the traditional ceremony involves a mocked-up volcano, flowing with beer. Adherents dress as pirates.

That’s about it. No catechism. No repression of natural human instincts. No fondling.

There’s probably a lot of freethinker evangelizing involved. But we free thinkers are lazy, a lot of the time. We’d rather talk about what we believe in, rather than what we don’t. In my case, it might be Christopher Buckley books, and hefe-weizen. I believe in those things, fervently.

Please email about this. I’m serious. You can have alcohol in churches without evening applying for a liquor license. I know this. I was raised Episcopalian.

I’d also like to propose that our local chapter of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster canonize Vashti McCollum as our patron saint. I suggest we celebrate “Vashti McCollum Day” every year, in conjunction with International Talk Like A Pirate Day. We’ll all dress up in bandannas, eye patches, shoulder-parrots, wooden legs and crutches, and buccaneer caps. We’ll all drink beer. We’ll all sings songs to the glory of nothing, or something, whichever.

Who’s with me?

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