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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Radical Quacks

by digby

I looked at tristero's post yesterday about Bush's stealth appointment of Dr. Eric Keroack and laughed nervously, but I had no idea how totally deranged Keroack really is.

Alternet has some slides from his Powerpoint presentation on the "depletion of Oxytocin" that supposedly afflicts women who have sex with too many different men. (Yes, this freak is going to be paid by you and me to spread this ridiculous swill.)


Last June, Keroack was a featured speaker at the 10th Annual International Abstinence Leadership Conference in Kansas City, where he provided his somewhat unorthodox insights into the role of hormones in relationship failure.

Oxytocin is a hormone whose actions are associated with pregnancy, breastfeeding, and maternal-infant bonding -- and, according to Keroack, it's the tie that binds in marriage, as well. People don't fall in love, but into hormonal bondage. Therefore, the most important rationale for sexual abstinence isn't faith-based at all, but purely physiological. Unfaithful men and promiscuous women are created by misuse of the "emotional glue" of attraction, an abuse leading to a "perpetual cycle of misery."

In his presentation at the 10th Annual Abstinence Leadership Conference in Kansas City earlier this month, Dr. Eric Keroack ... explained that oxytocin is released during positive social interaction, massage, hugs, "trust" encounters, and sexual intercourse. "It promotes bonding by reducing fear and anxiety in social settings, increasing trust and trustworthiness, reducing stress and pain, and decreasing social aggression," he said.

Forty percent of couples who live together break up before they marry and of the 60 percent that do marry, 40 percent of them divorce after 10 years. ... So why do so many adults continue in a cycle of sex without a marriage commitment, cohabitation, and failed relationships? This perpetual cycle of misery is due largely to the role of oxytocin. The following is Dr. Keroack's explanation of the cycle:

Emotional pain causes our bodies to produce an elevated level of endorphins which in turn lowers the level of oxytocin. Therefore, relationship failure leads to pain which leads to elevated endorphins which leads to lower oxytocin, the result of which is a lower ability to bond. Many in this increased state of emotional pain and lower oxytocin seek sex as a substitute for love, which inevitably leads to another failed relationship, and so on, the cycle continues.

There is hope for the weary brokenhearted, Dr. Keroack said, but it requires abstinence and plenty of time for healing.

Keroack's fitting title for that novel presentation [PowerPoint link] was "If I Only Had a Brain." In an unpublished article that has become an established text of the abstinence movement, he wrote, "People who have misused their sexual faculty and become bonded to multiple persons will diminish the power of oxytocin to maintain a permanent bond with an individual." Keroack's teaching on the role of "God's 'super-glue'" is accepted as irrefutable in an article titled Fornication and Oxytocin.

There's more at the link.

This man is a hero in the forced childbirth movement and a card carrying member of the Christian Right. But he also represents another wing of the crackpot alchemy wing of the conservative movment (tristero's personal bete noire) that really has to be marginalized if this country is to remain a first world nation.

David Kuo, whom I admire for his consistency of Christian belief, tried to make a case in his book that the Bush administration didn't deliver for the Christianists. It may be true that they didn't show private respect or funnel as much money as they promised to faith based programs, but they delivered big time with the appointment of unqualified nutjobs like this to taxpayer supported government positions.

Before the election I mentioned in passing this article in the New York Review of Books by Gary Wills that really should get more attention in light of this astonishing appointment. (tristero has a couple of issues with it that are worth noting.) It is called "A Country Ruled By Faith" and really needs to be read by all these people who insist that theocracy is not on the table:

It is common knowledge that the Republican White House and Congress let "K Street" lobbyists have a say in the drafting of economic legislation, and on the personnel assigned to carry it out, in matters like oil production, pharmaceutical regulation, medical insurance, and corporate taxes. It is less known that for social services, evangelical organizations were given the same right to draft bills and install the officials who implement them. Karl Rove had cultivated the extensive network of religious right organizations, and they were consulted at every step of the way as the administration set up its policies on gays, AIDS, condoms, abstinence programs, creationism, and other matters that concerned the evangelicals. All the evangelicals' resentments under previous presidents, including Republicans like Reagan and the first Bush, were now being addressed.

The head of the White House Office of Personnel was Kay Coles James, a former dean of Pat Robertson's Regent University and a former vice-president of Gary Bauer's Family Research Council,[2] the conservative Christian lobbying group that had been set up as the Washington branch of James Dobson's Focus on the Family. She knew whom to put where, or knew the religious right people who knew. An evangelical was in charge of placing evangelicals throughout the bureaucracy. The head lobbyist for the Family Research Council boasted that "a lot of FRC people are in place" in the administration.[3] The evangelicals knew which positions could affect their agenda, whom to replace, and whom they wanted appointed. This was true for the Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration, and Health and Human Services—agencies that would rule on or administer matters dear to the evangelical causes.[4]

The piece goes on to examine in detail the thoroughness with which Bush appointed radical religious right operatives to the government in all departments. The executive branch has become a patronage operation for the Christian Right and it is as destructive in its way as anything the Bush administration did. (And any attempt to unwind it will be greeted with cried of religious discrimination.)

This is obviously the deal that any Republican will have to make with the religious right in order to gain their favor. John McCain may not run as a Christian Conservative but he's already made pilgrimages to Bob Jones and Jerry Falwell and he will have to promise them something for their support. He can agree to appoint their judges, of course. That is a first principle. But if they want to keep their most important, cohesive voting block happy they need to keep them fed. This is how they will do it. It's largely under the radar but over time it will be felt in ways we cannot imagine.

The Christian Right is the most authoritarian faction of an already authoritarian movement. The polls from this last election show that they did not politically demobilize --- even when confronted with such rank hypocrisy as Jack Abramoff, Mark Foley and Ted Haggard. (I used to joke that it would take finding Republicans in bed with young boys to get the Christian Right to step back, but I overestimated them.) They are the most radical force in the Republican party and despite what Dobson and others threaten every couple of years, they aren't going anywhere.

These people ARE the modern Republican party and nobody, not John McCain, not Mitt Romney, not Rudy Giuliani, can do a thing about it. For the forseeable future, every Republican president is going to be owned by these people and Americans will be paying for them to drag this country away from progress and enlightenment and into the cramped, primitive world of superstition and voodoo they are now calling "science."

The only way to keep Christianist radicalism out of your bedroom, your hospital room, your classroom and your wallet is to elect a Democratic president.