Yinfo logo

Check out the Y Info channel on DTV 12.3, Comcast 258, FiOS 473
This 24/7 news and information channel features a thought-provoking lineup of regional, national and global programs, including BBC World News, Charlie Rose, Washington Week, Keystone Chronicles and Foreign Exchange. More information »


 




Beware the Aqua Buddha

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010



The easy impulse today would be to shake our heads in wonderment, yet again, at the antics of the tea-party Senate candidates – in Alaska, Joe Miller’s goons putting a working journalist in handcuffs; in Nevada, Sharron Angle telling a group of Latino kids, “I don’t know that all of you are Latino, some of you look a little more Asian to me”; in Colorado, Ken Buck still trying to explain why he compared homosexuality to alcoholism – but instead let’s check out the preposterous Democratic TV ad now airing in Kentucky.

I stand by my recent verdict that Florida Democratic congressman Alan Grayson has sponsored the worst TV ad of the election season (worst is a synonym for disgraceful, mendacious, and inaccurate). But Jack Conway, the Democratic senatorial candidate in Kentucky, has arguably locked down second place by performing a two-fer slime job on his tea-party opponent, Rand Paul.

Besides, I never expected to discuss the 2010 midterm elections while actually typing the words “Aqua Buddha.” Who needs the satire in The Onion, when craven reality will suffice?

There are plenty of policy grounds on which to question the creds of Rand Paul, the libertarian who infamously has suggested, among other things, that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was an unfair intrusion on the sovereignty of private business. But Conway apparently senses that he’s going to lose, and that only a desperate lunge for the jugular can potentially turn the tide. How else to explain his decision to dredge up some of the juvenile stuff that Paul did in college…30 years ago?

From the Conway ad, which debuted this past weekend: “Why was Rand Paul a member of a secret society that called the Bible a ‘hoax?’ That was banned for mocking Christianity and Christ? Why did Rand Paul once tie a woman up, tell her to bow down before a false idol, and say his God was ‘Aqua Buddha?'”

The ad refers to Paul’s youthful membership in an iconoclastic group, the so-called NoZe Brotherhood, that took a strong (and often satirical) stand against religion. The ad also refers to an alleged incident (reported last August in GQ magazine, based on an anonymous source), in which Paul and a college classmate tied up and blindfolded a woman, and tried to get her to smoke marijuana before commanding her to kneel down and worship Aqua Buddha.

You can’t make this stuff up. Quite the contrary, everything in the preceding paragraph may well be true.

But so what?

As many of you probably know from personal experience, people do all kinds of nutty things in college. People experiment with drugs, puke at parties, embrace political views that later strike them as repugnant, and frequently thumb their noses at all manner of authority (the school, the government, the church, whatever you got). And that latter impulse was what the NoZe Brotherhood was all about.

So young Rand Paul, somewhere around 1980, mocked Christianity while engaging in a particularly distasteful example of frat-house-style hazing? Democratic candidate Conway seems to think his ad is a potential silver bullet. I am profoundly underwhelmed. So is the woman who bowed down to Aqua Buddha; as she told The Washington Post two months ago (while still maintaining her anonymity), “The whole thing has been blown out of proportion. They didn’t force me, they didn’t make me…I went along because they were my friends. Thete was an implicit degree of cooperation in the whole thing.”

Conway, while defending his ad last night on MSNBC, insisted: “It’s wrong to mock people of faith.” In other words, Conway thinks that a college student’s lampooning of religion should automatically disqualify that person from elective office 30 years later. But since when are we supposed to judge a candidate on the basis of his faith – or lack of faith? Last I heard, the U.S. Constitution prohibits a religious test for elective office.

Conway is clearly trying to dampen turnout among Christian conservatives by tagging Paul as an atheist, but there’s something un-American about intimating that atheists and other insufficiently Christian people are not qualified for office. Democrats are often enraged when the looniest Obama critics pass judgment on the president by falsely assailing him as a non-Christian; Democrats should be just as repulsed by a party colleague who invites Kentucky voters to pass judgment on Rand Paul via a religious test.

And this penchant for dredging up collegiate behavior is getting out of control. Unless the future candidate was thrown out of college for committing a crime – something egregiously serious, in other words – these trips down memory lane don’t mean squat. Democrats were enraged recently when Delaware tea-partier Christine O’Donnell, and various conservative commentators, tagged Senate opponent Chris Coons as a “Marxist” simply because of an article he wrote for his college paper 25 years ago; Democrats should just be just as repulsed by Conway’s trudge through the same muck. (Some Democrats apparently are; yesterday, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill said: “This ad if a very dangerous ad because it reaches back to college.”)

In the end, of course, the voters in Kentucky will pass judgment on the ad. I won’t be shocked if they determine that the Democrat’s demagoguery was evidence of his desperation. And voters are generally loathe to reward desperation.

——-

But now it’s back to the tea-party antics, because there is a new one – and it’s priceless. Naturally, it involves Christine O’Donnell.

During a Delaware debate with Coons today, she asked: “Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?” Coons informed her that the First Amendment barred government from establishing any religion.
Whereupon she skeptically replied (and I swear this is what she said):
“You’re telling me that’s in the First Amendment?”

Uh yeah, that’s what he’s telling you. Fetch yourself a copy of the First Amendment, Christine. Put your finger on the words. Read along. Move your lips if you have to. It states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

If tea-partiers want to present themselves as the defenders of the document, they should at least know what it says.

47 Comments

  • RMP says:

    http://www.votebuddha.com/

    Official Aqua Buddha HQ, all you need.

  • Emma Forsberg says:

    I have Bow to Aqua Buddha t-shirts! http://www.cafepress.com/echoforsberg/7378180 (Also new to the shop are The Rent is Too Damn High tees and buttons!)

  • Bob Beaney says:

    It’s a day later; however, I was shocked to find that Dick comments on O’Donnell were misleading which is out of character for him. According to today’s paper O’Donnell was referring to the First Amendment specifically using the phrase,”separation of church and state.” As much as I dislike all the political garbage floating around and admire Dick’s use of facts, I found this instance to be unfair.

  • tom - wilmington de says:

    Actually, it is freedom from a government sponsored religion, such as the Church of England, which was started by Henry VIII so he could get divorced. The founders wanted freedom from the state sponsored/manddated religion that most of them fled when they left England and they wanted the freedom to practice their own religion freely anywhere they chose. That is what the constitution states.

    • puttinonthefoil says:

      Tom, I don’t want to be quick to judge. So are you telling us that you prefer Christine O’Donnell and Rush Limbaugh’s interpretation of the first amendment over Thomas Jefferson’s, who if I might dare slightly to suggest, likely had a little more insight on the matter? Using your words – how do you define “government sponsored religion”? I have to say, I enjoy listening to you, but it is frustrating when you play dumb, which is what I hope you are doing.

    • landscape says:

      Tom Are you suggesting that the Supreme Court has no role in interpreting how the Constitution is applied?

      • Tom - wilmington, de says:

        Nope, just saying I disagree with the interpretation. Also, government sponsored religion would be what is England, with the Church of England as begun by Henry VIII. It would also constitute Islam where it bans other forms of religion, as in Saudi Arabia (where a person cannot build a church). Government sponsored religion is not defined as allowing a person to pray at a high school graduation, or erecting a Christmas Tree in a public square. So what if not everyone believes. Why does one person’s wish to not be subject to something outweigh another person’s right to express themselves? Should I sue over stopping the Columbus Day parade because I am not Italian, or even better, because I am American Indian and am offended at being subjected to that celebration?

        • landscape says:

          Tom So do you think it’s ok for a captive audience to be subjected to someone else’s religious prayers/displays/pronouncements/etc?Whose religion do you want to be endorsed(or imposed) in our public spaces and using our tax dollars? Would your opinion differ if you were not your religion? It is very much more than being offended that is at stake.

  • tom - wilmington de says:

    Not mentioned by Polman in his post is the fact that when O’Donnell asked Coons to name the five freedoms guaranteed in the first amendment, he could not name them. He said “Separation of church and state” and then drew a blank, later uttering to O’Donnell that she should allow the moderator to ask the questions. O’Donnell simply asked “That is in the first amendment” referencing separation of church and state, which is not there, and then Coons could not name the five freedoms (which hopefully anyone wanting to represent me in Washington should know from memory). But of course, showing Coons to be an idiot does not fit the narrative.

    • landscape says:

      Tom Sorry if you’ve already said so, but …. How are you going to vote for US Senator? And why? Thanks

      • Tom - wilmington, de says:

        I am voting for neither O’Donnell or Coons. I am skipping that section of the ballot.

        • landscape says:

          I’m surprised Tom. I never would have guessed that you would give up your right to vote. If you don’t want to tilt the election, consider a protest vote. How about the real GOP candidate?

  • yobill626 says:

    Can we all agree that almost anything done before the age of 24 is Off Limits?

    • swedesboromike says:

      Does that include witchcraft and proclamations against masturbation?

      • Rich says:

        Mike, I don’t often agree with you, but this time I would. This would, of course, make Obama’s childhood prior to graduation from college off limits too – but I’m sure you would be OK with that!

      • JimR says:

        Absolutely. We’re getting this stuff from Bill Maher – he’s a standup comedian for God’s sake.

  • yobill626 says:

    Many Conservatives like the idea of following the Constitution, but aren’t real crazy of many of things in it. Except the 2nd Amendment, of course!

    • F. Inahoy says:

      What an insightful comment. Your brilliance reminds me of a squiggly light bulb filled with the deadly poison mercury.

  • F. Inahoy says:

    Is this the same Dick Polman who wrote in a demeaning fashion about Christine O’Donnell’s dabbling in witchcraft as a high school student? Or the same Dick Polman who saw fit to introduce his readers to Scott Brown (now a Massachusetts senator) as a former nude model because as a college student he won Cosmo magazine’s “America’s Sexiest Man” contest and appeared in the issue sans clothes? When did Polman become such an understanding and forgiving journalist, especially with someone like Rand Paul?

  • Alvenada says:

    It’s freedom of religion not freedom from religion.

    • George Birds says:

      Yes it is, it is freedom from state sponsored religion, which is exactly what O’Donnell is having trouble grasping. Let’s review:

      1) Worshiping the Aqua Buddha – ok

      2) Government funding the Aqua Buddha revival tour – not ok

    • Rich says:

      No, it is exactly the freedom to be free FROM religion, openly, as well as the freedom to follow any religion. Not only can you openly profess any religion, you can openly mock and abuse any religion, without any restraint. It seems like people in America have no problem with that if the object of abuse is Islam, but Christianity is off limits for some reason. NOT!

      • tom - wilmington de says:

        No it isn’t Rich. It is freedom from a state sponsored/mandated religion, such as the Church of England. Read up on your history.

    • Tex Shelters says:

      That’s idiotic. Why the pedantic word play?

      Can you explain the difference, or do you want to force people to be religious in the US because there is not freedom “from” religion.”

      Good thing the courts, the only voices that matter on this, have constantly protected us from the establishment of state religion and not allowed laws that forced religious test to be allowed for public service.

      Peace,
      Tex Shelters

  • mw56 says:

    Polman and Coons are wrong. There is nothing about the separation of church and state in the Constitution. The first time anything close to that was articulated was in 1802 when Jefferson wrote “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State”. The letter was to the Danbury Baptist telling them their religion would be safe from state laws. Justice Hugo Black was the one that pushed for the separation in court rulings the 1940’s. Don’t know for sure his reasoning but it may have been because of his KKK and virulent anti-catholic background.

    • George Birds says:

      Don’t try to tell us that O’Donnell was quibbling over the words “separation of church and state” not appearing. It is the concept that she fails to get: the government can’t tell it citizens what to believe. That the Supreme Court later decided to extend that concept to government run (hilarious to see a Tea Party candidate defending “government run” anything) and taxpayer financed schools is hardly a huge leap of logic.

      • mw56 says:

        1st Amendment “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Again nothing in there about a separation between church and state. Just that congress can not pass a law to establish a religion or prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

        • NigeltheMastiff says:

          Did you see the video? It shows O’Donnell, after Coons quotes, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” from the First Amendment, responding, “That’s in the Constitution?” So I don’t believe she really knows there’s anything in there about religion. Like Palin, she appears to lack knowledge of laws, the Constitution and policy.

        • Rich says:

          OK, congress can’t pass a law to establish or prohibit a religion – that’s separation of church and state. Jefferson just said the same thing more explicitly and memorably.

        • mw56 says:

          At one point she ask where the phrase “the separation of church and state is. Later she also asked Coons the 5 freedom provided by the 1st amendment. All he could answer was the sparation of church and state. He did know about the freedom speech, assemble, and to petition the Government. My guess for a bearded Marxist he only remember the one that mattered to him.

        • mw56 says:

          Maybe Coons the bearded Marxist got the 1st Amendment confused with Article 124 which states “In order to ensure to citizens freedom of conscience, the church in the U.S.S.R. is separated from the state, and the school from the church. Freedom of religious worship and freedom of antireligious propaganda is recognized for all citizens.”

  • landscape says:

    Attention all posters!!! WHYY is in the midst of a pledge drive. Put your money where your mouth is and make a pledge to WHYY. You can do it online very easily. Remember, there is no free lunch. Don’t be a freeloader, make a pledge.

  • Tom - wilmington, de says:

    Chris Matthews rightfully destroyed Conway on Hardball yesterday over this ad. Conway looked shocked that he was getting that treatment from MSNBC, but Matthews for once took a liberal Democrat to task. As for the separation of church and state, O’Donnell is right. How do you get from “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” to saying a prayer at a high school graduation is unconstitutional? The Constitution does not say anything about separation of church and state to the degree it has been interpreted, that came from a letter written by Jefferson years later. Seems to me preventing the utterance of a prayer anywhere is prohibiting the free exercise thereof as stated in the first amendment. Okay libs, tear me a new one.

    • Alvenada says:

      Nothing to tear up on that one Tom. I am always amused how the left has infinate tolerance for Islam but none for Christianity. I guess Christians are a safer target. And where is my internet twin Tavenada?

      • NigeltheMastiff says:

        Al, I beg to differ. I have a great of tolerance for Christianity, though I must say, mean-spirited “Christians” who hide behind their Bible in judgment do sort of make me out of sorts. As for making an issue out of young behavior, I don’t hold anything one does in college against him 20 to 30 years later. We all acted rather immature at times during that period. And I have no problem with someone delivering a prayer at a graduation. Good thing, too. Down South, there is no meeting anywhere that isn’t begun with a prayer. I guess it would be more inclusive just to pray to God, and not include reference to a particular brand of religion.

        • Alvenada says:

          Nigel- beware the moral equivalent. You’re not taking your shoes off at the airport because of those ” mean spirited Christians “

        • NigeltheMastiff says:

          Al, I’m not taking them off because of all Muslims, either. Just the extremist terrorists. There have been Christian extremists, too. In fact, there have been extremists from just about every religion. By all means, let’s condemn the terrorists, but don’t paint everyone of a particular religion with the same brush. There were Muslims who were lost on 9/11, too.

        • Alvenada says:

          Yes, Nigel, there have been a few extremist Christians since 1979. I would put the score at 5073 vs 5. But who’s counting? Like I said, your not taking your shoes off at the airport because of those ” mean spirited Christians “

        • Alvenada says:

          Nigel, you said there have been extremists from all religions. What have the jews, hindus or buhdists done? not saying they haven’t but can you sight some examples? In the name of religion.

        • Rich says:

          To respond to the Alvenada post asking for examples of Jewish/Hindu etc. atrocities…Dude, you are so totally clueless. If you are unaware of the Muslim/Hindu atrocity contest in India/Kashmir, you are clueless (google Ayodhya). If you are unaware of the Israeli ethnic cleansing in Gaza and the West Bank, you are clueless. This is like debating quantum physics with someone whose acquaintance with science comes from Spiderman comic books. Go home, get an education, and come back 5 years from now when you can speak like an adult.

        • Rich says:

          P.S. When we adduce examples or evidence, we “cite” it. We “sight” photogenic vistas when we are on vacation (most of the time for some minds, apparently). And, no, I cannot find a single example of Buddhists being involved in violence as anything other than victims. Makes a person think, if they are capable of it.

      • JimR says:

        I’m fascinated that many Christians will make the assumption that a billion muslims can be monolithic and refer to such a group as “they” but each segment of Christianity must be regarded as unique and seperate despite the common thread to Christ as the central point of belief.

    • yobill626 says:

      Matthews did tear Conway a new one, as he should. You probably know that Matthews is a strict Catholic & pretty much tows a Center-Right view on issues impacting religion. Conway did a perfect Ralph Kramden impression, “Humina-humina-humina”.

    • Rich says:

      Tom, making me listen to some superstitious cult like Christianity pray at a public meeting is an infringement of MY liberties. How would you like to listen to a voodoo priest perform at your local high school graduation? Same thing, exactly.

  • jmc says:

    It’s of no matter. Two weeks until the hammer comes down on extreme liberalism.

  • Pollman says:

    It’s part of a great Kentucky tradition. In 1988 the GOP in Kentucky spread rumors that Mike and Kitty Dukakis practiced witchcraft.

spacer image