The Supreme Court and the Obama Administration and the Troops/Veterans and Jesus allgot together to try to keep an illegal goddamned religious statue in Mojave National Preserve, but guess what? The Devil is stronger, because He Is Legion, and the dumb/hideous Mojave Cross Made of Plumbing Pipe was cut down by Heroes and now the Baby Jesus cries. This is actual breaking news, right now, and it's especially hilarious because there are no reporters within a hundred miles of the actual Scene of the Crime/Heroism.

BACKGROUND: About 75 years ago, a "Veteran's Memorial" in the form of a simple cross was installed upon a rock along Cima Road across from the Teutonia Peak trailhead. This was fifty years before the long and ugly battle began to transform this huge chunk of government land in the eastern Mojave into a national park, which finally happened under Clinton in 1994 -- but wingnuts in Congress tried to strangle the new "preserve" (and not "park," because you can still hunt deer a few days per year) at birth by setting its budget at One Dollar.

Then, in 1999, the Park Service refused to allow a "Buddhist shrine" next to the cross, because duh you don't build religious shrines in national parks. And that led to a lawsuit, because duh a Jesus Cross is a religious shrine, and for eight years the Bush Administration put tremendous effort into keeping the cross there, but during the decade-long legal battle the cross was covered with a hilariously droopy canvas sack or dumb plywood cover, so what you actually saw was either a canvas sack on a stick or a square wooden blank sign-type thing on a metal post.

And then your liberal lover Barack Obama became president and *his* administration allowed this utterly bogus deal in which a couple of acres of "inhold" (private land within a nature park) owned by some Jesus lovers/Defenders of the Plumbing Pipe Cross who live a hundred miles away were "traded" for the spot on the roadside where the cross sits, and the Supreme Court ruled just two weeks ago -- 5-4, wingnuts vs. liberals -- that the thing can remain because it's not really "religious" because, uh, let's see, there are crosses on graves of veterans. (Yeah Christian crosses, John Paul Stevens wrote in his dissent, on Christian graves: "It is the symbol of one particular sacrifice, and that sacrifice carries deeply significant meaning for those who adhere to the Christian faith.")

For reasons that are still mysterious, the plywood box was still covering the cross -- according to an AP report based on a statement by a park official made from the preserve's "headquarters" an hour away in the California desert town of Barstow -- and a ranger was delivering a new plywood box, or something, and found that the cross itself had been hauled away. Couldn't these rangers be studying wildlife or helping lost hikers or picking kleenex and condoms out of the cactus? No, because we live in a Nation of Idiot Bullshit.

And despite all these years of bickering and nonsense, this is a national park (err, "preserve") almost totally unknown to Americans, even though it sits right between some of the biggest U.S. cities -- Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and Phoenix. The trailhead to the one "name" trail in the whole preserve rarely has more than a couple of cars, and the mostly European hikers who park their rentals to make the walk up Cima Dome rarely notice the thing perched on a rock across the road to the southeast. And this is the way it should be, as far as we're concerned. But still, this is kind of like having a decade-long battle about a cross left on the Moon.

So, your editor has no real choice but to hop in the Jeep and drive up the road to see what's going on. Newell will take over for the afternoon. [LA Times/AP]


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