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Faced With Trillions Of Dollars of Debt, Matt Salmon Chooses To Eliminate A Tiny Speck Of Spending

When a politician’s speech starts with the words “Our nation is drowning in debt, $17.5 trillion dollars of it, and every additional second I speak to you on this video message adds another $23,000 to this already staggering number. Yet…”, you know that the politician is about to announce plans to eliminate spending of some kind.

So it was this week when U.S. Representative Matt Salmon, from the 5th congressional district of Arizona, introduced H.R. 5210, which would completely eliminate spending on the National Endowment of the Humanities.

The annual budget of the National Endowment of the Humanities is 154 million dollars. That’s less than 9/10000 of one percent of the federal debt that Salmon referred to at the beginning of his speech. That means that Matt Salmon’s legislation would take more than a million years to pay off the federal debt – if the federal debt did not accumulate interest, which it does.

The current annual interest on the federal debt is $354.9 billion. If the savings from Matt Salmon’s proposal to cut the National Endowment for the Humanities were added to an account to pay down the interest on the federal debt, it would take more than two thousand, three hundred years to save up enough money to pay down just one year of the interest. In all that time, interest on the federal debt would continue to compound, so, Matt Salmon’s plan would never, ever, pay down the federal debt, or even pay off one year of the interest on that debt.

matt salmon national endowment of the humanitiesThe math makes it plain: Matt Salmon’s plan to deal with the federal debt by eliminating funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities is completely ineffectual. Given that, it’s worth considering what the impact of eliminating funding for the National Endowment of the Humanities. The following would be cut if Salmon’s bill were signed into law:

- Research into ways to use the computational power of Big Data to benefit humankind.
- Funding for museums and libraries
- Programs to improve teachers’ ability to provide effective instruction in American history

In Matt Salmon’s home state of Arizona, the following are among the recent projects that received support from the National Endowment of the Humanities:

- Efforts to preserve historical documents at the Northern Arizona University Cline Library
- Cabinets to preserve historical documents at the Museum of Northern Arizona
- Preparation of a long term exhibit on the history of human settlement of the Southwestern United States at the University of Arizona
- Transportation of historical artifacts in the collection of the Arizona Historical Society
- Preservation of Clovis Archaeological Materials at the Arizona State Museum
- Promotion of cultural heritage tourism projects in Arizona communities

If funding for these programs were cut, much of the record of Arizona’s history would be lost. Does Matt Salmon really want Arizona’s history to be forgotten?

There are alternatives to eliminating the tiny budget of the National Endowment of Humanities. For example, the Back To Work Budget that was proposed last year would have cut 4.4 trillion dollars in federal spending every year. The Back To Work Budget would have been more than 28,000 times more effective than Matt Salmon’s plan to force libraries to sacrifice America’s historical records. Yet, Matt Salmon voted against it

Finding the Principles of the Forward Together Movement

Earlier today, blogger Docdawg reflected on his participation in the second year of weekly “Moral Mondays” protests held in Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina:

“In the face of Moral Mondays’ incessant reminders of NC voters’ discontent and revulsion, state Republicans (not too long ago a fearsomely united bloc) are beginning to unravel at the seams.

“I credit Moral Mondays in large measure for this. More viscerally than any opinion poll could, Moral Mondays demonstrations graphically illustrate to state politicos that large numbers of NC voters are mad as hell and we want our state back. Oh, sure, individual state legislators from safely deep-red districts (and NC has a lot of those) couldn’t care less…they know we demonstrators come to Raleigh every Monday mostly from heavily Democratic districts that they needn’t concern themselves with. But politicians such as Gov. McCrory and U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis, who have to run their campaigns statewide, are clearly scared sh*tless. Only 31% of NC voters are registered Republicans, so statewide candidates know they need to appeal to large numbers of middle-of-the-road (and even some liberal) voters if they hope to get and stay elected. Consequently, they feel the need to (at least seem to) move toward the center. The resulting internal tension in the state GOP — tea-baggers vs. ‘RINOs’ — is beginning to tear the Republican juggernaut apart, which is fantastic. Divide and conquer.”

“It’s easy to think that an endless stream of little old ladies gettin’ hog-tied and frog-marched onto sheriffs’ busses is nothing but pointless feel-good political theater. But I would argue that, if it is properly organized and tirelessly sustained (as here in NC, thanks to Rev. William Barber’s inspirational leadership and the NAACP’s organizational genius) it is an awesome political force that cannot fail to draw blood.”

The Moral Mondays protests are part of a Forward Together movement in North Carolina bringing together a diverse set of people — black, brown and white, wealthy, middle-class and poor, religious and non-religious, unionized and non-unionized — to articulate shared concerns. This is no Occupy movement, either, that first decides to show up and then spends its time in the public eye deciding what it’s upset about. From the beginning, the Forward Together movement and the Moral Mondays protests have articulated a clear strategy and a clear purpose, as articulated in William Barber’s recent speech to the Netroots Nation convention. Strategy:

“Steps that we believe we need to have embraced in every state:

“1. Build an indigenously led grassroots organizing across the state;

“2. Use moral language to frame and critique public policy through our deepest moral and constitutional values regardless of who’s in power, Democrat or Republican;

“3. Demonstrate a commitment to civil disobedience that follows the steps of the movement that is designed to change the public conversation and consciousness;

“4. Build a stage from which to lift the voices not of politicians but of everyday people impacted by immoral extremist policy;

“5. Build a coalition of moral and religious leaders of all faiths;

“6. Intentionally diversify the movement with the goal of winning unlikely allies;

“7. Build a transformative long term coalition relationship rooted in a clear agenda that doesn’t measure success just by electoral outcomes, and destroys the myths of extremism;

“8. Make a serious commitment to academic and empirical analysis of policy, for the worst thing you can do as an activist is to be loud and wrong;

“9. Use social media coordination in all forms—video, text, twitter, facebook;

“10. Engage in voter registration and voter education and voter participation;

“11. Pursue a strong legal strategy so that you have lawyers that take what the movement bubbles up into the courtrooms and fight based on our constitution;

“12. Resist the one moment mentality and say we not here to have a moment we are trying to build a movement.”

The movement agenda:

“Let me tell you the agenda that has pulled us together in NC.

“1. Securing prolabor antipoverty policies that ensure economic sustainability;

“2. Educational equality by ensuring every child receives a high quality well-funded constitutionally diverse public education and access to colleges and community colleges;

“3. Health care for all, by insuring access to the affordable care act, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and providing environmental protection for all communities;

“4. Fairness in the criminal justice system by addressing the continuing inequalities in the system, and providing equal protection under the law for black, brown and poor white people;

“5. Protecting and expanding voting rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, immigrants’ rights, and the fundamental principle of equal protection under the law.”

To follow the activities of the Forward Together movement and to catch advance notice of upcoming protests, check the website of the NAACP of North Carolina. It’s there I find out the site of the next Moral Mondays demonstration on July 28: next-door Durham. The downtown site of protest lies halfway between the predominantly white Duke University and the predominantly black North Carolina Central University.

Roll Call: Members Of Congress Who Voted To Let Barack Obama Start A New War In Iraq Whenever He Wants To

The following 40 members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted against H. Con. Res. 105 yesterday:

iraq no more blood for oil Robert Aderholt, Susan Brooks, Eric Cantor, Matthew Cartwright, Mike Coffman, Chris Collins, Tom Cotton, Eric Crawford, Sean Duffy, Bill Flores, Paul Gosar, Tim Griffin, Michael Grimm, Duncan Hunter, Bill Johnson, Sam Johnson, Mike Kelly, Steve King, Peter King, Adam Kinzinger, Luke Messer, Steven Palazzo, James Renacci, Cedric Richmond, Martha Roby, Tom Rooney, Peter Roskam, Paul Ryan, Aaron Schock, Pete Sessions, John Shimkus, Steve Stivers, Bennie Thompson, Tim Walberg, Jackie Walorski, Randy Weber, Lynn Westmoreland, Joe Wilson, Steve Womack, Todd Young.

Why does it matter that they voted against this legislation? What was so important about H. Con. Res. 105?

H. Con. Res. 105, if it passes into law, will force the President of the United States to consult Congress before starting a new war in Iraq. Currently, Barack Obama asserts that he has the right to take the United States into a new war in Iraq at his sole discretion.

The active clause of H. Con Res 105 reads, “Pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C.
1544(c)), Congress directs the President to remove United States Armed Forces, other than Armed Forces required to protect United States diplomatic facilities and personnel, from Iraq–
(1) by no later than the end of the period of 30 days beginning on the day on which this concurrent resolution is adopted; or
(2) if the President determines that it is not safe to remove such United States Armed Forces before the end of that period, by no later than December 31, 2014, or such earlier date as the President determines that the Armed Forces can safely be removed.”

By making the removal of U.S. military resources from Iraq the legal default, H. Con. Res. 105 would make it necessary for Congress to approve any new war in Iraq. The 40 U.S. representatives who voted against this resolution were in essence voting to allow Barack Obama, or any future president, to send the American military off to fight in Iraq all over again – even if the American people are opposed.

At present, the United States Senate needs to pass an equivalent piece of legislation to H. Con. Res. 105 before the law can move forward to the White House to be signed into law. If you want to curtail to this century’s bad habit of rushing off to war, call your two U.S. Senators and urge them to act on this issue, before it’s too late.

He is Risen, Indeed?

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church: He is Risen Indeed!

Help me understand this reasoning of this sign, which surely hopes to accomplish something as it’s read on the street. I just can’t figure out what. What does this declaration communicate to someone who is already a Christian other than a recapitulation of what Christians already believe? From a marketing point of view, what does this communication convey for someone who is not a Christian, given the 2,000 year-old dating of the described event? Perhaps I’m missing something in the message; what is it?

What Counts As Indie In Books?

I love the idea of Indie. Finding a true independent in a world filled with big, powerful organizations is a lucky thing, like finding a four-leaf clover.

So, I was excited to discover IndieBound this morning. IndieBound is the web site of an association of independent bookstores. It describes itself as follows: “A product of ongoing collaborations between the independent bookstore members of the American Booksellers Association, IndieBound is all about independent bookstores and the power of “local first” shopping. Locally owned independent businesses pump money back into the their communities by way of taxes, payrolls and purchases. That means more money for sound schools, green parks, strong police and fire departments, and smooth roads, all in your neighborhood.”

I’m all for shopping locally, so how is IndieBound supporting the local economy? Do IndieBound booksellers shop locally?

To answer this question, I looked at the publishing houses that IndieBound lists on its July 2014 Indie Next List, a collection of books that are recommended by the owners of independent bookstores for reading this month. The publishers of the books on the list are as follows:

Harper (The Queen of the Tearling, Volume 1)
St. Martin’s Press (Landline: A Novel)
Viking (One Plus One: A Novel)
St. Martin’s Press (That Night: A Novel)
HarperCollins (Last Night at the Blue Angel: A Novel)
Random House (The Quick: A Novel)
Bloomsbury (Flying Shoes: A Novel)
Putnam (The Appetites of Girls: A Novel)
Doubleday (Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands: A Novel)
St. Martin’s Press (The Glass Kitchen: A Novel of Sisters)
W. W. Norton & Company (Dry Bones in the Valley: A Novel)
Viking (Dollbaby: A Novel)
Harper (The Care and Management of Lies: A Novel of the Great War)
Mulholland Books (The String Diaries: A Novel)
St. Martin’s Press (How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky: A Novel)
Penguin Books (Em and the Big Hoom: A Novel)
Knopf (The Girls from Corona del Mar: A Novel)
Simon & Schuster (War of the Whales: A True Story)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies)
Simon & Schuster (The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennett: A Novel)

independent booksellersPractically all of these publishing houses are big, established companies (Mulholland Books is one possible exception in this long list). None of these publishing houses are located anywhere close to my neighborhood. They’re centralized operations with offices in places like New York City, shipping large numbers of books worldwide.

The independent bookstores that make up the American Booksellers Association may have independent business models, but they don’t appear to very independent in their taste of books. They promote books from the same few big publishing houses that Amazon and Barnes and Nobel promote to readers.

When I think about the value of an independent local bookstore, I think of the promise of well-read managers who keep their eyes out for unusual books from unusual sources. That’s not what the bookstores associated with IndieBound seem to have in mind, however. Their embrace of independence seems to end with their own businesses. They aren’t promoting independent authors, or truly independent small publishers. They complain that they don’t have the time.

“It is unrealistic to expect busy booksellers, who conduct business with hundreds of established vendors already, to take them on, reading, evaluating and setting up separate vendors for each title,” complains Marion Abbott, co-owner of Mrs. Dalloway’s independent bookstore in Berkeley, California. If the owners of independent bookstores like Mrs. Dalloway’s won’t bother to take the time to consider independent authors, however, why should readers bother to take the time to walk through their doors? If they’re merely going to sell the same books sold by the same publishers as every other bookstore in America, what’s the point? A bookseller who doesn’t have time to read books from multiple sources is lazy and boring – not the kind of source I’d want to take recommendations from.

To be fair, for the most part, independent authors and small publishers aren’t promoting independent bookstores. Authors who self-publish tend to do so through operations set up by enormous book retailers, like Amazon. Independent bookstore owners are infamous for rejecting these self-published books out of hand, in part because they despise big online booksellers. Independent authors, in reaction, often don’t even bother to approach bricks-and-mortar bookstores any more, selling even their physical books purely online.

This dynamic has resulted in the creation of two groups, each calling themselves independent, while in fact depending upon centralized publishing companies.

What might happen if independent writers and independent bookstores found a way to cooperate, to bring truly independent books to independent-minded readers? What would it take for any such system to remain independent, instead of becoming just another tool for centralized corporate control?

Fact Check Update: is Lewiston, Maine Crime-Ridden since the 2001 arrival of Somali Immigrants?

Since I’ve moved to Maine, I’ve encountered a lot of friendly people, but I’ve also heard many derogatory comments about the supposed criminality of Somali immigrants who began arriving in Lewiston, Maine in the year 2001. Last year, I decided to check the claim that Somalis had brought crime to Lewiston against the observed crime rate of the city collected in the FBI’s annual Crime in the United States report. Results, available through the year 2011 then, indicated that since Somali immigrants came to Lewiston, the crime rate had gone down, not up.

A year has passed since then, and crime data for Lewiston is now available through 2012. In the meantime, anti-immigrant hysteria is resurgent as border-state politicians see massing immigrant hordes in a bus of YMCA campers and imagine that immigrants from Central America will somehow infect the U.S. with ebola.

What do the new statistics on crime in Lewiston, Maine show? See for yourself:

Is Lewiston more violent since Somali immigrants came to town?  Violent Crime Rate in Lewiston, Maine from 1985 to 2012

Are thefts up since Somali refugees arrived in Lewiston, Maine?  Fact check the hype with this graph of UCR property crime rates from 1985-2012


As you can see, both violent crime rates and property crime rates are lower on average since Somali immigrants came to Lewiston. The notion that Somali immigrants have plunged pleasant Lewiston, Maine into the sordid depths of criminality is contradicted by observable fact. The whisper campaign against Lewiston’s Somali-Americans is based in myth, perpetuated by ignorance and fear. Fear is surprisingly resistant to change, but ignorance is curable. If you live in Maine, you can help with the cure; the next time someone talks about “those” Somalis and “their” criminal ways, respond with the facts.

Fact Check: Did Georgia Pass A Law Allowing Guillotines To Be Used For Executions?

The United States has real problems with capital punishment. Our nation’s methods of execution are often unnecessarily cruel, as seen in the case of Joseph Rudolph Wood, who took two hours to die after receiving a lethal injection in Arizona. These problems have brought publicity to the recent opinion of Alex Kozinski, a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals who has declared that executions in the United States ought to be done with guillotines.

guillotine law usaPeople who are familiar with the American system of justice are aware that the opinion of one judge is not enough to change the law. Kozinski may continue to say that he’d like to see guillotines used to execute prisoners, but his statements won’t change the way that prisoners are actually executed.

The members of network of right wing religious conspiracy theorists, however, either don’t understand the way that laws are made in the United States, or are choosing to exploit others’ ignorance in the matter. They’re using the Kozinski’s statements to revive a favorite story of theirs: That mass executions by guillotine will soon take place across the USA, as a One World Government led by a demon-possessed leader takes power.

We’ve written about this conspiracy theory here at Irregular Times before. Over two years ago, we took note when Pamela Rae Schuffert declared that guillotines were being set up all across the United States for mass executions that would soon begin. Schuffert never provided any evidence for the existence of these guillotines, however, and the mass executions never took place. The obvious falsity of these failed conspiracy theories haven’t prevented them from being repeated, and accepted by gullible readers.

The newest incarnation of the guillotine urban legend has it that Judge Kozinski is a part of the New World Order Illuminati conspiracy, and that Georgia has already passed a law to enable the execution of prisoners by guillotine, with other states soon to follow. Is it true? Is there a law in Georgia that allows the government to kill people by chopping off their heads with guillotines?

As with most successful conspiracy theories, this one is half true. There really was legislation to legalize execution by guillotine in Georgia. However, this legislation is old news. It was introduced in January of 1996 – over 18 years ago – and was never passed into law.

HB 1274 was written by state legislator Doug Teper in order to provide for the possibility of organ donation from the bodies of executed prisoners. Lethal injection and electrocution render organs unsuitable for transplantation, but decapitation leaves them intact. The bill never even was allowed to come up for a full vote by the state legislature.

The truth is simple, and can be easily researched by anyone who cares to do so: There is no law in Georgia allowing execution by guillotine.

Get Sloshed The Detox Way

healthy detox boozeHealth conscious people are commonly depicted as extremists who are so obsessed with chasing after ideal identities that they’ve forgotten how to have fun. Now, that stereotype has been blasted to pieces by Ritual Wellness, which has developed a new line of organic, non-GMO, cold-pressed juice blends that can be consumed by people following programs of detoxification… when mixed with alcohol.

What’s the point of being well if you can’t get a little loose and sloppy every now and then?

Marra St. Clair and Lori Kenyon, the founders of Ritual Wellness, explain that they wanted to find a way to drink alcohol “without sacrificing their health and fitness completely”.

Drinking alcohol with a depleted uranium mixer wouldn’t work. Cocktails laced with cyanide were straight out. St. Clair and Kenyon merely wanted to sacrifice their health and fitness partially. So, they developed Ritual Mixers, to help their customers combine hard-hitting liquors with a veneer of self-discipline and health consciousness to add that extra special sparkle, so that they can reshpect themselves the morning after.

The juices in Ritual Mixers are not merely natural, St. Clair and Kenyon explain. They’re “super natural”. They contain no added chemicals, so that you can add all the chemicals yourself, for an alcohol cleanse!

Do As The Predictive Analytics Innovation Summit Says, Not As It Does

predictive analytics innovation summitToday, I got an unsolicited email inviting me to the Predictive Analytics Innovation Summit in Chicago this November 12th and 13th.

In that email, Euan Hunter, a global sales executive with Innovation Enterprise (“an independent business-to-business multi-channel media brand focused on the information needs of Senior Big Data, Strategy, Advanced Analytics, Strategy, Innovation, Digital, Finance, Operations, Publishing & Decision Support executives”) warned that “There are a limited number of early bird passes available. If you would like to attend please reach out to me directly…”

If the people at the Predictive Analytics Innovation Summit are so good at predictive analytics, how come they have to ask me if I would like to attend? Why do they need me to reach out to a global sales executive to let them know that I want to attend the summit?

Why can’t they just predict that I want to attend, and have my credentials waiting for me?

The speakers at the Predictive Analytics Innovation Summit include Kelly Uphoff, Director of Experimentation and Algorithms for Growth and Targeting at Netflix, the company that predicted that because I watched Doctor Who, I would want to watch Family Guy and Top Gear.

I propose that Innovation Enterprise rename their summit to be a bit more accurate. How about: Predictivesque Analytics Innovation Summit?

Nick Troiano, the Mayday PAC, Americans Elect, No Labels and the Peterson Network: Connections?

2012 saw the rise of Americans Elect, a corporation that planned to manage the election of its own “centrist” presidential candidate, thanks to insider connections and large cash flows from undisclosed sources. 2012 also saw Americans Elect’s demise, when American citizens elected to stay away from Americans Elect and refused to participate after finding out that a corporate board could nullify any candidacy it didn’t like.

Since Americans Elect failed and subsequently dissolved, its leaders have migrated to new projects, one of which is a congressional campaign by Americans Elect National Campus Director Nick Troiano and another of which is the Mayday Super PAC led by Americans Elect alums Lawrence Lessig, Mark McKinnon and Kahlil Byrd. Yet other leaders drifted back to No Labels, an Americans-Elect-connected public relations organ funded by billionaire social security privatization advocate Pete Peterson.

Given that Americans Elect is itself a resurrection of Unity08, a prior corporate privatized presidential election effort, it’s not unreasonable to suspect that Americans Elect organizers might resurrect the effort for the 2014 or 2016 election seasons. Now that the Federal Election Commission has released fundraising details for the first half of 2014 for the Mayday PAC and Nick Troiano’s campaign, we can answer two questions:

Question 1. How many financial contributors do the Mayday PAC and the Nick Troiano campaign hold in common?

According to FEC filings for the two groups through June 2014, the Troiano campaign has received money from only 60 individuals who gave enough for their identities to be disclosed. Only 29 of the 60 disclosed contributors (including Nick Troiano himself, his mother, and his father) live in Pennsylvania. In contrast, the Mayday PAC reports 1,485 identified contributors. There is only one person who has contributed to both the Mayday PAC and the Troiano congressional campaign — Republican public relations strategist Mark McKinnon.

Question 2. How reliant are the Mayday PAC and the Nick Troiano campaign on Americans Elect and No Labels leaders for financial support?

The Mayday PAC contains three former Americans Elect leaders in its inner circle — Mark McKinnon, Lawrence Lessig and Kahlil Byrd. McKinnon and Lessig have also donated to the Mayday PAC. No other individuals listed in the leadership of Americans Elect appear to have donated to the MayDay PAC. The Mayday PAC appears at this point to be financially independent of the Americans Elect group.

In contrast, 9 of the 60 identified contributors to Nick Troiano’s congressional campaign are tied to Americans Elect and/or No Labels:

* Robert Bingham, financier and large-scale funder of Americans Elect’s predecessor Unity08
* David Walker, employer of billionaire Pete Peterson, leader of No Labels and failed Americans Elect presidential candidate
* David Albertson, contributor to Americans Elect and member of Americans Elect leadership circle
* Laurence Kotlikoff, supporter of Americans Elect and Americans Elect presidential candidate
* Erskine Bowles, No Labels leader and spokesperson for policy priorities of billionaire Pete Peterson
* Zack Hubbard, Americans Elect intern
* Mark McKinnon, Americans Elect and No Labels leader
* Jake Brewer, Americans Elect employee and spokesperson

4 more of the identified contributors to Nick Troiano are participants in the broader “centrist” pro-corporate, anti-social-program network of groups supported by the billionaire No Labels’ funder Pete Peterson:

* Morgan Ryan, organizer of the Common Sense Coalition, a group that billed itself as a successor to Americans Elect
* Brian Edelman, in leadership of Run For America, a political corporation taking up the Americans Elect mantle in selecting congressional candidates to fund in 2014
* Phil LaRue, organizer of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of Congressional Democrats who articulate a desire to vote for Republican-lite policies
* Timothy Pagliara, head of a Pete-Peterson-funded group pushing for Peterson-favored budget plans also spoken for by Erskine Bowles

In short, while the Mayday PAC appears financially untethered from the Americans Elect/No Labels/Pete Peterson policy network, congressional candidate Nick Troiano appears to remain enmeshed in it.

Charisma News Advocates Putting Corpses On Trial

“We must recover America’s Christian heritage,” writes Charisma News, a web site that purports to report the news from a Christian perspective.

What might that Christian heritage be, though? The word “Christian” was completely left out of the Constitution, and the very first words of the Bill of Rights explicitly prohibit any official attempt to associate the United States with any religion: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”

Still, it is conceivable that, although the USA is a religiously diverse nation with a secular government, in which increasing numbers of citizens are non-Christian, the beliefs of the remaining Christian majority could influence the way that the government is run.

What might that look like?

cadaver synod pope steven viLet’s take, for example, the right to a fair trial, a legal right that is established by constitutional amendments 4 through 8. It’s true that the Christian Bible never declares that people have the right to a fair trial, but there is a history of the administration of justice by Christian leaders that long precedes the existence of the United States of America. America’s founders were aware of this history, and might have hoped that we would replicate this Christian legal precedent in America’s judicial system.

But what is the Christian heritage for how a trial ought to be run?

We can look at the trial of Formosus as an example.

Formosus was Pope from the years 891 to 896 when he died. Formosus was then put on trial in 897, and excommunicated.

The Pope that followed Formosus was named Steven. He was referred to as either Steven VI or Steven VII, depending upon which faction of the Christian church a person belonged to at the time. In 897, some Christians held that there had been 6 popes named Steven before the current one, while other Christians believed that one of those Stevens had been an illegitimate pope, and had their own system of counting.

Anyway, Pope Steven VI/VII was so vehement a political opponent of the deceased Pope Formosus that he was not satisfied with the death of Formosus. He literally would not let his grievances with Formosus lie.

Pope Steven ordered the corpse of Formosus to be dug up from its grave, nine months after it was buried. Though the corpse was a nasty, smelly thing by this time, Pope Steven had it dressed in sacred papal clothes and put in a chair so that it could be put on trial. A teenager was placed behind the papal corpse in order to speak on its behalf. Formosus had no other defense.

The corpse of Pope Formosus was accused of three crimes: 1) Perjury, 2) Coveting the Papacy, and 3) Violating Church laws when he was elected Pope.

Pope Steven VI/VII appointed himself chief prosecutor, and screamed at the rotting remains of Pope Formosus, giving long speeches about how vile Formusus had been. Then, the corpse of Pope Formosus was found guilty of all three crimes.

As punishment, the corpse of Formosus had three of its fingers cut off – the fingers used to make the sign of papal blessing. The papal vestments were removed from the corpse, and were replaced with ordinary clothes. Formosus was then reburied, not in his previous fancy papal tomb, but in a mass grave for poor people. Later, the body of Formosus was thrown into the Tiber River, and then dragged out by a monk and reburied once again.

Digging up corpses to put them on trial is part of the Christian heritage that Charisma News wants to make central to American life. Is it something that you want to recover?