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Sunday, April 27, 2003

Beavis and Butthead and GOP “Family” values

It’s been quite a week, hasn’t it? Newtie’s back (not that he ever went away) and is reprising his award winning role as bombthrowing bad boy for the GOP Fedayeen. It made me nostalgic for the good old days back in the 80’s when he would denounce “deviant liberalism” to the empty House chamber on C-SPAN. We were all so innocent then. It never occurred to us that within 20 years Gingrich’s Leninist propaganda stylesheet would be the bible of a new right wing media establishment.

Gosh, I’ve missed him being in the spotlight. He is, after all, the reason the Republicans came to understand that openly expressing their “revolutionary” political philosophy of religious coercion, unregulated crony capitalism and global megalomania made the American public recoil in horror. Newt’s very existence exposes “compassionate conservatism” for the crock of shit it is.

Because President Chauncey W. Gardner is a sock puppet, it’s always hard to figure out whether these turf battles are good cop/bad cop or whether they truly represent a death match between State and Defense. But, as Atrios notes, the blow-back on this one is pretty over the top, so it’s hard to believe it’s a scripted routine.

My best guess is that the radical Rummy faction gave Gingrich the assignment to publicly introduce the idea of a need to “reform” the State Dept. (by purging career diplomats) along the lines of Rummy’s own revamping of the DOD, but they forgot what a rhetorical terrorist the guy is and let him do it his way. Certainly, some highly influential neocons agree with the substance of what he said:

Weekly Standard publisher William Kristol told Fox News that Gingrich is right about two things -- a feud between the State and Defense departments is growing and the State Department is in need of an overhaul.

"People in the administration who don't want some criticism are going to say Newt Gingrich stepped in it, but the truth is he told the truth. And Rumsfeld has tried to reform the Defense Department. He's broken a lot of china; he has got a lot of enemies as a result. Colin Powell, who is an impressive man, has not rocked the boat at all at State, and I think that's a mistake. State needs to be reformed," Kristol said.

What they forget about Colin Powell is that he has his own constituency in the American public and could single handedly derail Junior’s re-election if he chose to do so, as Powell not so subtly reminds them from time to time:

"Personally, I'm very much in sync with the president, and he values my services," Powell said on National Public Radio last month. "I also have to take note of the fact if you would consult any recent Gallup poll, the American people seem to be quite satisfied with the job I'm doing as secretary of state."

This is why Rove muzzled Newt. I would guess that any “reformation” of the State department is tabled until after 2004.

And anyway, the much more important revelation in the Gingrich tantrum is his articulation of the neocon fury at the mid-east “roadmap.” That gets to the heart of the Perle/Wolfowitz plan for the region and they are hardly likely to give in on this one.

Let the GOP intramural blood-letting begin.

Which brings us to Lil’ Ricky Santorum’s intriguing remarks. He has no problem with people being homosexuals, nosiree. It’s what they do sexually in the privacy of their bedroom that undermines family values. So, I guess that Ricky doesn’t have a problem with men dressing in drag or wild Gay Pride parades or openly gay soldiers and sailors as long as they are celibate. He’s inclusive, that way.

It’s the dirty nasty sex that must be outlawed because every time Ricky thinks about what they do (and he thinks about it all the time) his family values get all tingly and stimulated --- especially when he pictures that bad-polyamorous-man-with- three-hot-young-babes-all-tangled-up-together-in-one-great-big-bed kind of sex, or when he contemplates a sinful-adulterous-politician-who-strays-from-his-homeschooling-housewife-of-the-year-with-Ann-Coulter-for-some-man-on-dog type sex.

That’s the kind of sex that the government should make sure is illegal because if it doesn’t who knows what a Catholic Senator and former teen-age alter boy who has very, very bad thoughts might do?

Why, something like this could happen:

... When a distraught Sharon Bush phoned her mother-in-law to commiserate about the 48-year-old Neil, Barbara Bush told her coolly, "That's between you and Neilsie."

And when the 50-year-old Sharon met with author Julie McCarron in Houston on April 14 to explore writing a memoir of her life in America's premier political dynasty, they ran into Neil's 40-year-old mistress, Houston socialite Maria Andrews, at a popular restaurant called the Grotto.

Maybe if Neilsie were faced with a little jail time, he might have thought twice, eh?

This is what is so very impressive about the modern GOP's political leadership. Brainpower. Bush himself, as we know, has a towering intellect and Dick Cheney is one of the country’s foremost authorities on …something. But, little Ricky Santorum is so uniquely brilliant that it is clear he is being groomed for the presidency.

His mastery of logic is simply breathtaking. For instance, when talking about partial birth abortion he dismisses the slippery slope argument made by pro-choicers as “absolutist”:

Senator Santorum says,:

"Charles is right. It is the absolutist argument that if they (Abortion Activists) concede even the most egregious and barbaric procedures then it calls into question the whole concept of abortion which they can not permit."

But, in his infamous interview Senator Santorum also said:

“If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything."

Perhaps the distinction between these two slippery slope arguments lies in the existence of the large and powerful man-on-dog advocate movement which is on record saying their strategy is to whittle away at resistance to privacy laws in order to get the anti-bestiality statutes eventually struck down all together. When seen in that light you can understand why right thinking people everywhere would be on their guards against allowing even the smallest concession to sexual privacy. That would be playing right into the hands of the bestiality rights movement, which after all, represents the base of the Democratic party.

But, that’s not all. On partial birth abortion, Santorum also said, :

"I believe that this is one of the seminal moments in our society. If a government deliberately allows this kind of barbarism to be inflicted on the most helpless and innocent, who among us will be spared in the end?"

Yes, indeed. If the law allows a woman and her doctor to decide that a braindead fetus should be aborted in order to save her uterus, what on earth could stop this woman and her doctor from deciding that her braindead Senator should be "aborted" to save her sanity? You’ve simply got to draw the line somewhere. There's nothing absolutist about that.

I have to agree with Ricky on principle. Until the Supreme Court reverses Griswold and subsequent rulings that imply a constitutional right to privacy, I guess I’ll have to live with the fact that Santorum is allowed to bring home the corpse of their 5 month old fetus and force his small children to hold it, despite the fact that I find such behavior bizarre, sick and abusive. If the constitution allows people to handle fetal corpses in the privacy of their own home, are we not on a slippery slope to sanctioning grave robbery, necrophilia and cannibalism?

It’s the scourge of moral relativism that’s causing the trouble. The intellectual braintrust of Bush and Santorum are in complete agreement on this. Morality is black and white, there are no choices to be made, private or otherwise. There is one true way and they know what it is.

But, as Tim Noah pointed out back in October 2000, the GOP doesn’t have a problem with relativism in general. Science, for instance, is entirely relative:

Bush believes “the jury is still out” on evolution and said:

“I'd make it a goal to make sure that local folks got to make the decision as to whether or not they said creationism has been a part of our history and whether or not people ought to be exposed to different theories as to how the world was formed.”

Santorum actually made sure the congressional record included a “sense of the Senate” resolution attached to the “No Child Left Behind Act” which ensured that an Estrada Supreme Court would have the evidence to rule that lawmakers intended to endorse “intelligent design” being taught in the science classroom. As a matter of intellectual integrity he doesn’t believe it is right to pass judgment on universally agreed upon scientific knowledge if even one crackpot religious nut who calls himself a scientist disagrees.

“A number of scholars are now raising scientific challenges to the usual Darwinian account of the origins of life,” Santorum said after the bill passed. “Thus, it is entirely appropriate that the scientific evidence behind them is examined in science classrooms. Efforts to shut down scientific debates, as such, only serve to thwart the true purposes of education, science and law.”

Perhaps this is what Junior was referring to when he called Santorum “inclusive." And, it does stand to reason that he’d like the man. After all, it’s not easy to find someone who is even dumber than he is. In fact, Santorum is such a putz that he was once named the the dumbest member of Congress.

One example of his brilliance: In speaking about the country's long term prospects, Santorum remarked, "Nowhere in the Bible does it say that America will be here 100 years from now."

"Santorum?" Sen. Bob Kerrey once commented. "Is that Latin for asshole?"


With all of this talk of religion and politics this week, I am a bit surprised that this story didn’t get more play:

Six members of Congress live in a $1.1 million Capitol Hill town house that is subsidized by a secretive religious organization, tax records show.

The lawmakers, all Christians, pay low rent to live in the stately red brick, three-story house on C Street, two blocks from the Capitol. It is maintained by a group alternately known as the "Fellowship" and the "Foundation" and brings together world leaders and elected officials through religion.

Ok. Who cares, right? A nice Christian boarding house. There’s nothing wrong with that. Except, it turns out that this particular “secretive religious organization” is a powerhouse in Washington and has been for more than 50 years. Strangely, however, nobody knows about it.

In a tour de force of investigative journalism, Harper’s magazine this month published a jaw dropping expose of this group that calls itself “the family” and which has been working hand in glove with the political elite for decades. The report, called “Jesus Plus Nothing. Undercover among America’s secret theocrats” is simply mind boggling.

In the process of introducing powerful men to Jesus, the Family has managed to effect a number of behind-the-scenes acts of diplomacy. In 1978 it secretly helped the Carter Administration organize a worldwide call to prayer with Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, and more recently, in 2001, it brought together the warring leaders of Congo and Rwanda for a clandestine meeting, leading to the two sides' eventual peace accord last July. Such benign acts appear to be the exception to the rule. During the 1960s the Family forged relationships between the U.S. government and some of the most anti-Communist (and dictatorial) elements within Africa's postcolonial leadership. The Brazilian dictator General Costa e Silva, with Family support, was overseeing regular fellowship groups for Latin American leaders, while, in Indonesia, General Suharto (whose tally of several hundred thousand "Communists" killed marks him as one of the century's most murderous dictators) was presiding over a group of fifty Indonesian legislators. During the Reagan Administration the Family helped build friendships between the U.S. government and men such as Salvadoran general Carlos Eugenios Vides Casanova, convicted by a Florida jury of the torture of thousands, and Honduran general Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, himself an evangelical minister, who was linked to both the CIA and death squads before his own demise. "We work with power where we can," the Family's leader, Doug Coe, says, "build new power where we can't."

At the 1990 National Prayer Breakfast, George H.W. Bush praised Doug Coe for what he described as "quiet diplomacy, I wouldn't say secret diplomacy," as an "ambassador of faith." Coe has visited nearly every world capital, often with congressmen at his side, "making friends" and inviting them back to the Family's unofficial headquarters, a mansion (just down the road from Ivanwald) that the Family bought in 1978 with $1.5 million donated by, among others, Tom Phillips, then the C.E.O. of arms manufacturer Raytheon, and Ken Olsen, the founder and president of Digital Equipment Corporation.

I urge you to read the whole article. I thought it was anomalous that the freaky Reverend Moon was a silent partner in GOP Inc (which, incidentally sponsored Santorum's “faith based summit” through it’s front group the “American Leadership Conference.”)

Apparently, however, Washington is just crawling with powerful, wealthy and secretive religious organizations that are deeply involved in politics.