Christine O’Donnell: Pros and Cons

Christine O’Donnell is the Republican candidate in Delaware’s Senate race. There are a lot of strong feelings out there about O’Donnell’s candidacy, so I thought I would weigh in with an objective analysis of the pros and cons regarding her suitability for being elected Senator.


  • Political platform includes the belief that “[v]oting to spend money we don’t have has become the appealing option for too many politicians. The men and women of America know this is not sustainable.”


  • Political platform also includes the belief that “every individual has a unique, unrepeatable preciousness, and that our fiscal policy should be one that encourages and empowers the individual creativity.”
  • Has never articulated any concrete fiscal policy positions, or advocated a specific plan of action she would support in order to reform the federal government’s spending or taxing.
  • Campaigned on MTV to end the epidemic of masturbation that is destroying our country.
  • Is a young earth creationist that advocates teaching creationism rather than Darwinism in public schools.
  • First became involved in politics while working for an anti-pornography crusade.
  • Has a lien filed against her by the IRS for unpaid income taxes.
  • Uses campaign funds to pay her rent and personal expenses.
  • Believes opponents are hiding in her bushes at night to spy on her.
  • Lied about her home being foreclosed on.
  • Lied about receiving a college degree.
  • Lied in court filings about being prevented from attending Princeton for a Master’s degree, when she did not even have an undergraduate degree at the time.
  • Thinks that lying is always wrong, even when it is to Nazis for the purpose of saving Jews you have hidden in your house.
  • Supports the “ex-gay” movement.
  • Uses phrases like “get your man-pants on.”
  • Has failed to pay past campaign debts, while continuing to divert all campaign funds towards spending on the current campaign.
  • Has no savings, no investments, owns no property, and reported receiving only $5,800 in income in the last year.

But she believes in fiscal responsibility, even if she doesn’t practice it, so that makes her an ideal politician, right? Right?

I have mixed feelings about the Tea Party, but one thing that always kept me hopeful it would amount to something useful was the general resistance among the Tea Party infrastructure, such as it is, to get drawn into the ‘culture wars.’ But despite all their claims about a fiscal policy focus, they still wind up choosing candidates like O’Donnell — who are above all social conservatives first, and fiscal conservatives only incidentally. Of course, in O’Donnell’s world, it’s the same thing:

“As I was in Washington, D.C., advocating for the social issues, I realized that they’re all connected, that your approach to protecting the human dignity and protecting the individual definitely reflects in your fiscal policy, and that’s why I’m a fiscal conservative.”


Confederate NAACP President Threatens to Sue Atheist Councilmember

In North Carolina, a recently elected non-theist councilman’s ability to hold office is being questioned due to his lack of religious belief. Cecil Bothwell, who describes himself as “post-theist,” (although as one intrepid journalist uncovered, he is listed as atheist on his MySpace page. God, I love modern reporting), already had his atheism challenged during the election campaign, by mailers referencing his lack of religious belief. He won anyway, so now a suit is being threatened:

That has riled conservative activists, who cite a little-noticed quirk in North Carolina’s Constitution that disqualifies officeholders “who shall deny the being of Almighty God.” The provision was included when the document was drafted in 1868 and wasn’t revised when North Carolina amended its constitution in 1971. One foe, H.K. Edgerton, is threatening to file a lawsuit in state court against the city to challenge Bothwell’s appointment.

[Update: H.K. Edgerton, it turns out, is a few fries short of a happy meal. See below for more information on the Confederate NAACP president.]

Article 6, section 8 of the North Carolina Constitution prohibits from office “First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.” Legally, though, Edgerton’s claims against Bothwell don’t have a leg to stand on.

Article VI, section 3 of the U.S. federal constitution provides that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Torcaso v. Watkins held that under the First Amendment (and incorporated by the Fourteenth), states could not use religious tests — whether or not Article 6 is applicable to the states or only the federal government is technically an open issue, but also rather moot. (Actually, this brings up a question I am sure has been brought up before but do not have time to research now… If the First Amendment was, originally, intended to be as broad as it is in today’s constitutional jurisprudence, why would the Founders have found it necessary to include the religious test clause to boot?). But Torcaso found that Maryland could not actually enforce a clause from its constitution that stated, “nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his religious belief; provided, he believes in the existence of God, and that under His dispensation such person will be held morally accountable for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefor either in this world or in the world to come.”

From the language, the Maryland constitution, unlike the North Carolina one, seems to reflect more of a concern with assuring the veracity of witnesses or jurors rather than any direct concern for religion. Because if someone does not believe they will be held morally accountable in the next world, how could they possibly be concerned with being morally accountable in this world?

Anyway, North Carolina is not alone in having unenforceable religious requirements. The state constitutions of Maryland, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Tenessee and Texas also have language in their constitutions prohibiting non-religious (or possibly non-monotheistically religious) persons from carrying out certain state functions. Texas, for instances, places a requirement on officeholders being people that “acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.”

But why are these obviously unenforceable provisions still hanging around in the Constitution?

Provisions like North Carolina’s tend to stay on the books because lawmakers would rather not spend time weeding out outdated laws, said Duke University Law School Professor Joseph Blocher.

“I mean there are state laws against spitting in the street,” he said. “Why spend the time?”

I find this explanation rather unpersuasive. Sodomy laws, religious test clauses, and other unenforceable statutes or constitutional clauses remain on the books in state courts because legislators don’t wish to risk publicly coming out in favor of “allowing sodomy” or “letting atheists take office.” So they let the laws molder there, pretending they don’t exist, until someone or another goes on a moral crusade and tries, once again, to breathe life back into them.

Anyone who campaigned on a platform that included removing all of the vestigial and antiquated cultural baggage from our laws would have my vote. Even if they are not enforced, leaving them on the books can and sometimes does cause an unwarranted burden on citizens who, in a bygone era, would have faced heavier discrimination. Not to mention, it’s also pretty embarrassing for the state involved.


ETA: Wait, hold the horses. Two quotes, from different articles about the guy threatening the lawsuit, caught my eye:

“If they go ahead, then the city of Asheville and the board of elections could be liable for a lawsuit,” said Edgerton, who is known for promoting ‘Southern heritage’ by standing on streets decked out in a Confederate soldier’s uniform and holding a Confederate flag.

“My father was a Baptist minister. I’m a Christian man. I have problems with people who don’t believe in God,” said Edgerton, a former local NAACP president and founder of Southern Heritage 411, an organization that promotes the interests of black southerners.

NCAAP president in cosplaying as a Confederate soldier? That’s a new one for me. Looking now, according to Wikipedia, Southern Heritage 411 “provides Southern viewpoints such as that there was great love between the African who was here in the Southland and his master and research on Black Confederate participation in the American Civil War.”

This is not the first time H.K. Edgerton has been in the news. I think this quote on Edgerton summarizes it best:

“His elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top,” Rev. Skip Alston, executive director of the North Carolina NAACP, told a reporter recently. “It doesn’t even reach the second floor. We don’t recognize anything that he’s doing.”

I have a hard time trying to imagine two more random countries getting into a catfight than Libya and Switzerland.

After hearing about the amazing Libyan resolution before the United Nation calling for the dissolution of Switzerland (because “it’s a world mafia and not a state”), I started noticing a lot more random, petty incidences Swiss-hatin’ by Libya. And while writing the last post, I came across an article on how complying with Libyan requests intended to further a boycott against Switzerland would not violate export laws.

What the heck could Libya have against the neutral-as-beige Swiss? It was bizarre enough to be worth looking up, and coincidentally, just a couple hours ago there was new Libya-Switzerland drama unfolding, as Libya announced it has essentially kidnapped and detained two Swiss citizens:

For more than a year, Switzerland has known that two of its businessmen have been prevented from leaving Libya. But they are now being held “for their own security” because there is a “threat that Switzerland might free them militarily,” the Swiss Foreign Ministry quoted a Libyan letter as saying.

It turns out it all stems back to a 2008 incident:

Police were called to the five-star Hotel President Wilson on July 15 after two hotel employees, from Tunisia and Morocco, accused Hannibal Qaddafi, 32, and his expectant wife, Aline, of beating them with a belt and a coat hanger.

Qaddafi spent two days in custody, while his pregnant wife was under police supervision in a clinic in Geneva. They were released on $490,000 bail two days later and left Geneva.

Qaddafi, who is a skilled grudge-holder, is now waging a one-nation campaign against Switzerland. Meanwhile, an arbitration panel is being established to examine the circumstances surrounding Hannibal’s arrest.

And the Swiss incident wasn’t Hannibal Qaddafi’s first time acting like a punk while in Europe. “In 2004 he was arrested in Paris for driving along the Champs Elysées at 140 km per hour. The following year, also in Paris, he was convicted and fined for assaulting his then girlfriend, a Lebanese model.” At least he hasn’t charged into Italy on elephant-back yet?