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Thursday, September 30, 2010

He Is The One They've Been Waiting For

by digby

It looks like the Republicans may have found their perfect Tea Party candidate for 2012. He has a "very conservative policy" and an "unapologetic commitment to our borders, our language and our culture."

Tom Tancredo? Newt Gingrich? Jim DeMint? No, this is a political newcomer. And he is the whole package.

Boehner's Bright BFF

by digby

Just a little note to those of you have given to the DCCC this year, here's the kind of person they are passing your money to:

You understand that guy's a Democrat, right? I know it's hard to tell ...

When you hear the administration and the leadership complaining about the left failing to fall in line, you might want to ask them about why they are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting Democratic politicians who actively run against them. I could be wrong, but I think it might not turn out so well once they get elected.


by digby

I don't know what this is all about, but it sounds fascinating:

MEDIA ADVISORY, Sept. 30 /Christian Newswire/ -- The following is submitted by Vision America Action:

When: Oct. 4, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. EST

Myth: Democrats and Republicans are like two peas in a pod.

Reality: There is a dramatic difference between the way Republicans and Democrats vote in Congress. Americans deserve the truth!

Tom DeLay and Rick Scarborough announce a press conference by conference call to unveil The Save America...S.T.O.P. Obama National Coalition's Vital Information for Voters/mini-guide for voters.

The call-in number is 877-524-1203
Access code 725486

Pastor Rick Scarborough -- President, Vision America Action
Hon. Tom Delay -- Former Majority Leader, U.S. House of Representatives
Bishop E.W. Jackson, Sr. -- S.T.A.N.D. America
Phyllis Schlafly -- President, Eagle Forum

The conference call will last no more than 30 minutes.

Sponsored by the Save America...S.T.O.P. Obama National Coalition, a project of Vision America Action.

Religious Health Care

by digby

You learn something new every day:

Who is this Barack Obama who mocks the armies of the living God?" demanded James Lansberry, Christian crusader against government-regulated health care, last summer in the heat of the battle over reform.

Since the health-care reform bill passed last month, Lansberry has become a hot commodity on the conservative talk-radio circuit where he sings the praises of health-care-sharing ministries (HCSMs), Christian nonprofit organizations through which members agree to cover each others? health-care costs. As president of the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, Lansberry, and his team of lobbyists, had persuaded Senate lawmakers to exempt alliance members from the individual mandate. That exemption, Lansberry said, made those ministries "an island of freedom amidst this terrible piece of reform legislation" and "the last pro-life option for Christians of faith."

Did any of you know about this exemption? I missed it. And it's very, very interesting because it's a loophole that will undoubtedly be very lucrative for the hucksters.

Read on ...

We Just Have To Get Through This Political Moment

by digby

So Paul Ryan is concerned that if people find out what it is her really proposes to do with social security that people might not want to vote for Republicans. Did I say this guy's intelligence was overrated? He's smart enough to figure that out:

During an appearance at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Ryan criticized Democrats for “the political weaponization” of Social Security, and asked candidates on the campaign trail to please stop bringing up Republican plans to gut entitlements. Politico reported:

“We’ve got to get through this political moment. The political weaponization of entitlement reform is very unfortunate. It’s hurting our chances of actually getting bipartisan agreement in the near future. It’s unfortunate but we’ve got to get out there.” Though he called for candidates to stop talking about entitlement reform on the campaign trail, Ryan also cast his Roadmap in a soft light to deflect criticism that it will hurt seniors. He reminded the audience that his plan doesn’t affect those over 55.

Of course, Ryan’s plan would radically alter Social Security, to the detriment of the program, which is something that needs to be talked about. Remember, under the Roadmap, Social Security would be privatized through the creation of personal investment accounts and benefits for future retirees would be cut, all without setting the program on a path for solvency.

I'm fairly sure he was counting on the Democrats staying mum because they made it very clear for the past two years that they are anxious to "reform" SS in order to prove to right wingers that they are Very Serious People. And I'm sure that a lot of them are going to rush to join that faction if the Dems lose their majority. This is why Ryan just wants people to get through this "political moment," meaning the election. He's counting on the usual Democratic retreat.

Every Last Bit Of Authority From God

by digby

What do Jim DeMint and Daniel Webster have in common? They love this guy, and have both appeared on his radio show in the past couple of days.

In this speech to the Values Voters this month, he very usefully explains the difference between the evil Islamic theocrats and good Americans like himself:

We know that politicians get every last bit of their authority from God. We know that there are certain things that are right in the sight of God and certain things are evil in the sight of God. And I would submit to you that the conscience of the man of God cannot rest as long as the authority of God is being used to trample the will of God. The conscience of the man of God cannot rest as long as it is being used to trample on the moral law of God.

Now one last thought, we know another thing about public officials. They are ministers and servants of of God. Paul twice refers to them as deacons or ministers of God. They are literally ministers or deacons of God. A third time he refers to them as servants of God. Paul goes out of his way to drive home the point that political figures exercise a vocation that is every bit as sacred as the role of pastor of your church. Now I ask you who has a greater interest in the selection of the ministers of God for our culture than the people of God.

Now some will accuse me of advocating for theocracy --- because I believe November 2nd we are going to choose the ministers of God, we're going to choose the Pastors of our public culture --- will accuse me of advocating a theocracy in which God rules a nation through its clergy. To borrow a phrase from a politician who has troubled America by forsaking the command of God, "let me be clear": I am not talking about an arrangement in which God rules the United States through the church. The role of the Church is to be the conscience of a nation not to govern a nation.

If you believe in theocracy, then the dark and dangerous and devious religion of Islam is for you. ... I'm talking about an arrangement, the arrangement I'm talking about the the arrangement where God guides and governs the United States of America through statesmen who are committed to align the public policy of the United States with the will of God.

I am talking about an arrangement in which God, to borrow a phrase from the founding fathers, in which God governs and guides the United States through statesmen who are determined to align the public policy of the United States with the laws of nature and nature's God. I'm talking about the same arrangement that Sam Adams spoke of on July 4th 1776, who said "we have this day, restored the sovereign to whom all men ought to be obedient. He reigns in heaven from the rising to the setting of the sun, let His kingdom come."

Now I believe on November 2nd we have a fresh opportunity as the people of God to restore the sovereign to whom all people ought to be obedient and I say we do it.

Perhaps the distinctions he cites between Islamic theocracy and his own version are meaningful to you, but I think the more common definition of theocracy well encompasses what this man regards as the proper United States "arrangement."

Theocracy is one form of government in which a god or deity is recognized as the state's supreme civil ruler, or in a higher sense, a form of government in which a state is governed by immediate divine guidance or by officials who are regarded as divinely guided. In Common Greek, "theocracy" means a rule [kra′tos] by God [the.os′].

But Mr Fischer is a reasonable man, you say. There's nothing threatening about his comments at all, regardless of which meaning of theocracy you use. Well, here are a few examples of Fischer's thoughts on gays:

The time Mr. Fischer said that 'Homosexuals in the military gave us...six million dead Jews'

The time Mr. Fischer said only gays were savage enough for Hitler

The time Mr. Fischer invoked a Biblical story about stabbing "sexually immoral" people with spears, saying we need this kind of action in modern day

The time Mr. Fischer compared gays to heroin abusers

The time Mr. Fischer told us to just shut up

The time Mr. Fischer oddly interpreted past historical oppressions

The time Mr. Fischer directly compared laws against gay soldiers to those that apply to bank robbers

Here's Fischer yesterday on the Grayson/Webster flap, explaining that women don't have to submit to their husband --- unless there's a disagreement.:

Grayson's conduct was so inexcusable that even lefty groups like the Annenberg Public Policy Center and the Orlando Sentinel issued full-throated condemnations of Grayson, who heretofore has been their pet. [Jon Stewart too, with an uncharacteristically obtuse "we're good and they're evul" rant as well -- ed]

As an aside, you cannot find a more stark contrast between Islam and Christianity than on their respective teaching about marriage. While Islam instructs husbands that they literally may beat their wives into submission, Christianity instructs husbands to imitate the example of Christ, who loved his bride (the church) so much that he laid down his life for her.

This is just another example of the profound, unbridgeable chasm between the value system of Islam and the value system of the West. They are and always will be irretrievably incompatible. Every advance of Islam in America will come at the expense of liberty and of rights for women.

Now there is probably no other concept that is more misunderstood, both inside and outside the church, than the Bible's teaching on submission and headship.

The first myth is that in a Christian marriage only the wife submits to her husband. But the first statement the apostle makes is this: Both husbands and wives are to "submit...to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:21).

So a Christian marriage is to be one of mutual submission, not the domination of the husband over the wife. There is a profound sense in which a Christian husband submits to his wife as much as she submits herself to him. Submission takes a different form for the man than it does for the woman, but it is submission nonetheless.

Ok. That's not so bad. They both submit in love to one another.

Well, let's not get carried away:

The Scriptures clearly instruct wives, "Submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22). The word "submit" is comprised of two Greek words, one of which means "under" and the other of which means "to set" or "to arrange." So a wife is instructed to arrange herself, put herself, set herself, under the leadership of her husband in the home.

What's critical to understand here is that there is no verse in the Bible that instructs a husband to see to it that his wife submits to him. This is a matter between a wife and her Lord, not between a wife and her husband. It is not her husband who is asking her to submit, it is God. It is a matter of reverence for Christ rather than for her husband that prompts her to voluntarily arrange herself under her husband's leadership.

It is a gift that she gives to her husband, not a right that he demands. She demonstrates her reverence for Christ by not challenging her husband's leadership in their home but by supporting him and working with him to help him succeed in shaping and directing the life of their marriage and family.

How does a husband submit himself to his wife? As Webster reminds us, husbands are told to "love your wives, as Christ love the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25). That is, he submits himself to his wife by refusing to use his headship simply as an excuse to get his own way, or as a cloak for his own selfishness. He submits himself to his wife by making a determination to use the authority God has given him in his home to give his wife and children what they need rather than to get what he wants.

Marriage is not and can never be a democracy. Somebody has to have the tie-breaking vote when the poll reveals a one-to-one tie. In a Christian marriage, the husband is the tie breaker. The way it is designed to work is that a wife willingly defers to her husband on those rare occasions when they cannot agree on a course of action, and the husband makes the decision that his conscience tells him is best, not for himself, but for her, their marriage, and their home.

If a husband believes before God that the best decision in a given situation is different than the one his wife prefers, he does not order her to follow him, he asks her. The decision is then up to her. He's not forcing her to do anything. He leaves the issue squarely where it belongs, between her and her God.

If you have a problem with a Christian view of marriage, fine. Don't become a Christian then. Nobody is going to make you, again unlike Islam where the choice is convert or die. But if you do decide to follow Christ, his instructions regarding marriage are clear.

Basically then, if a Christian woman refuses to go along with this "arrangement" she can go to hell. Literally. But hey, I agree that that's her choice. What I object to is the fact that people who believe these things also believe, as Fischer clearly said in his speech before the Values Voters, that these are the beliefs that should guide our "statesmen." That's when his metaphorical fist hits my metaphorical face and I don't like it.

Of course that's not really what Daniel Webster's Christian reconstructionist mentors mean anyway. Bill Gothard, at whose institute Webster made the comments in Grayson's ad, is known for his institutional indoctrination programs:

Gothard's additional errors contribute to the overall harmful nature of his ideology. Because favor with God must be earned through works of submission, one must have a structure that requires submission. He misinterprets key Scriptures about authority, perceiving that the church and the family operate under a military-style, chain of command authority structure. Because one must work to accumulate this mystical substance of merit, mistreatment and abuse merely provide needed mechanisms for accumulating merit. Unless an authority requires a Christian to commit an overt sin, Gothard teaches that all authority must be obeyed at all costs.

. . . Those who live at the top of the food chain fair well, but in the process of this chain of command/humility system, those who fall at the lower end of the hierarchy are required to submit and suffer all manner of injustice to improve their character and work God's mystical and often indiscernible divine plan.

Here's Fischer's conclusion:

Getting back to the Websters, it's worth asking how this whole leadership/submission thing works out in practice.

Here is Sandy Webster, Dan's wife of many years: "Dan has been an amazing husband and father, and the finest man I have ever known."

Here's a wife who believes in the biblical view of roles in marriage, and seems quite happy to be married to a man who is dedicated to using his strength to protect her and provide for her, and to "nourish and cherish" her as the Bible says. What wife wouldn't?

I don't care what Mrs Webster does with her life. It's none of my business. But I do care that her husband is a candidate for office and he belongs to a dangerous cult that believes the nation should be run under theocratic rule. And just as I don't care for the fact that these folks believe women have second class status, I also don't care for the fact that I'm supposed to pussyfoot around this issue and pretend that semantic distinctions between these and other pre-modern religious beliefs about female submission are somehow substantial and that the similarities are a matter of degree rather than scale. And while Factcheck.org and Jon Stewart and other very reasonable people may not be aware of it, Bryan Fischer is surely conversant with Webster's mentor Bill Gothard, who doesn't explicitly condone the beating of wives to be sure --- but does believe that if they have an abortion or are unfaithful, they should be stoned to to death.

Now, all this may just add up to more of the same old, same old we've been seeing for the past quarter century of Moral Majority/Christian Coalition civic involvement. If that's the case, then it simply means yet more incremental claw back of many of the rights and liberties, mostly for women, enabled by the usual timidity of liberals who run over each other in an attempt to distance themselves from anyone who confronts these people head on. (Best to find more "common ground" by whittling away at women's autonomy. Don't want to rock that boat too hard ..) But if the far right's power grab in the Republican party is successful then these ultra-right social conservatives are going to be in a position to demand far more than they have been able to get in the past and things could get very interesting very quickly. I just think it's probably important to be aware of the belief system that's "guiding" our "statesmen."

Here's a reminder of how defacto Senate Monarch Jim Demint put it:

David Brody: Are you concerned at all that some of the social conservative issues, abortion and same sex marriage, some of these other issues because they are taking somewhat of a back seat right now at least to the fiscal issues that there are some inherent problems for social conservatives in something like that?

Senator Jim DeMint: No actually just the opposite because I really think a lot of the motivation behind these Tea Party crowds is a spiritual component. I think it's very akin to the Great Awakening before the American Revolution. A lot of our founders believed the American Revolution was won before we ever got into a fight with the British. It was a spiritual renewal.

Senator Jim DeMint: I'm 'praying for you' comes up more than anything else in these crowds so I know there's a spiritual component out there.

Senator Jim DeMint: I think as this thing (the Tea Party movement) continues to roll you're going to see a parallel spiritual revival that goes along with it.

David Brody: Just so I understand, when you say spiritual revival how are you terming that? What do you mean specifically as in "spiritual revival?

Senator Jim DeMint: Well, I think people are seeing this massive government growing and they're realizing that it's the government that's hurting us and I think they're turning back to God in effect is our salvation and government is not our salvation and in fact more and more people see government as the problem and so I think some have been drawn in over the years to a dependency relationship with government and as the Bible says you can't have two masters and I think as people pull back from that they look more to God. It's no coincidence that socialist Europe is post-Christian because the bigger the government gets the smaller God gets and vice-versa. The bigger God gets the smaller people want their government because they're yearning for freedom.

Maybe DeMint is just another in a long line of Elmer gantry's taking the true believers for a ride. Or maybe he isn't.

Oh, and both Palin and Huckabee are associated with Gothard too. Just FYI.

Tax Cuts 'N You

by digby

This is well done. In fact, I think the president should go on Larry King and do a Ross Perot thing with the same white board.

People are not well informed about these tax cuts, even rich people who believe that if you make a dollar more than 250k all of your income will be taxed at the higher rate. (Dave Johnson has a nice little primer on this.) Maybe it's the result of years of wealthy interests' propaganda or insecurity or some combination, but when it comes to taxes, people get hysterical and frankly, dumb. So the explainers need to dumb it down.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In Memoriam, Arthur Penn

by tristero

A very great film director has died. I had the privilege of composing music for one of his later films, Dead of Winter. I would agree that it is not one of his better movies - although it has much of great interest - but the experience of working with such a talented and experienced man was unforgettable and priceless. Unlike nearly every other director I've worked for, he gave me carte blanche to write what I want and, with that much confidence behind me, I wrote one of my best scores.

Thank you, Arthur. It was a pleasure to get to know you, albeit briefly. I learned so, so much.

Foreclosure Madness

by digby

This has been making the rounds all day and it's just simply horrifying:

Given that the IMF and others believe a large part of the “structural unemployment” in our country is related to the struggling housing market and underwater and barely-hanging on homeowners, what is to be done? One option is to allow for options like lien-stripping in bankruptcy courts, reseting mortgages by zip code, etc. Another option is for courts to accelerate foreclosures by ignoring due process, proper documentation and legal process in order to kick people out of their homes and preserve the value of senior tranches of RMBS while giving mortgage servicers a nice kickback.

What option do you think our country is taking?

We should all be very concerned about the foreclosure situation in Florida. If you are a homeowner or potential homeowner, you should find it offensive that people’s property rights are being violated in such a flagrant way. If you are an investor, either as “bond vigilante” or someone with a generic 401(k), you should be worried that servicers have gone rogue and the incentive structure to maximize value instead of fees associated with foreclosures has broken down.

And if you care about basic Western liberalism–the classical kind, with a Lockean understanding of freedom to own property along with freedoms of speech and religion– you should be pissed off. This is a clear-cut instance of the rich and powerful decimating other people’s property rights, rights that are supposed to protect the weak from the strong, in order to preserve their wealth and autonomy. Unless you think property rights are mere placeholders for whatever the financial sector demands are, this should be resisted. This should be viewed as a problem an order of magnitude larger than Kelo v. City of New London.

The short problem is that banks are foreclosing without showing clear ownership of the property. In addition, “foreclosure mills” are processing 100,000s of foreclosures a month without doing any of the actual due diligence or legal legwork required for the state to justify the taking of property and putting people on the street. Even worse, many are faking documentation and committing other fraud in the process. The government is allowing this to happen both by not having courts block it from going forward, but also through purchasing the services of these mills. As Barney Frank noted: “Why is Fannie Mae using lawyers that are accused of regularly engaging in fraud to kick people out of their homes?”

Why indeed?

This is a huge story that's been closely reported for some time on the econ blogs but is just now rising to the surface. My friend Jon wrote in with this observation:

And for today's developments, see this (from Yves Smith)

" Alan Grayson’s office provided a particularly troubling example, that of a counterfeited court summons. It’s bad enough that servicers and foreclosure mills are making up securitization-related paperwork out of whole cloth, but now court documents to seize someone’s home? This is lawlessness. "

Yves Smith is right. This is absolute, balls-out lawlessness. Read all her posts on this. They've set up special courts that are run and controlled by the banks, where people being thrown out of their homes are not even allowed to present their evidence to a judge. The judge just rubber stamps the foreclosures and won't even hear the cases. Complete, blatant lawlessness of the first order.

Maybe Daniel Webster can perform an exorcism on the houses. I'm guessing that's the best we can hope for from the government at this point.

Spending All Your Money On R&B Ringtones

by digby

I guess this kind of talk is back in vogue since it doesn't even garner a comment from the NY Times:

“We as Republicans need to realize that you can’t just cut off the welfare queen and balance the budget,” says Rand Paul, a Senate candidate in Kentucky, who has some extreme views on other issues but is evidently pro-arithmetic

You know what that's all about:

Welfare Queen mythology consists of massive exaggerations of welfare fraud that resonate with those in the anti-welfare movement. This mythology is rife with overt negative racial and class stereotypes where Welfare Queens are portrayed as lazy leeches on society, pilfering vast sums of money from "hard working people's taxes."

You don't hear it much these days, but I suppose if you're a guy who's still smarting over the passage of the Civil Rights Act, it probably still feels pretty relevant:

And anyway, Dr Paul is way behind the times. The modern designation is "Health Care queen":

During my last night's shift in the ER, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient with a shiny new gold tooth, multiple elaborate tattoos, a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and a new cellular telephone equipped with her favorite R&B tune for a ringtone. Glancing over the chart, one could not help noticing her payer status: Medicaid. She smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and, somehow, still has money to buy beer.

And our Congress expects me to pay for this woman's health care? Our nation's health care crisis is not a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. It is a crisis of culture -- a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on vices while refusing to take care of one's self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. A culture that thinks "I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me".

I dunno. I think if we could just stop paying for health care for people who waste it on stuff like "R&B ringtones" we'd have plenty of money to balance the budget, don't you?

Stoning For Astrology

by digby

Another expert on the Religious Right, Bruce W. Wilson who writes at Talk2Action, has delved into Daniel Webster's ties to Christian Reconstructionists and writes this fascinating piece for Alternet. He notes Webster's continuing association with Bill Gothard, (at whose Institute Webster was recorded making his remarks about women submitting to their husbands in 2009):

As an August 5, 1996 article in the Gainesville Sun quoted Webster, ‘I respect (Bill Gothard) as much as anybody. ..

Bill Gothard, in turn, was a close ally of R.J. Rushdoony, considered the father of Christian Reconstructionism and founder of the movement’s flagship institution, the Chalcedon Institute.

As Vice President of the Chalcedon Institute Martin Selbrede stated in the Institute’s March/April 2010 issue of Faith For All Of Life, the only reason Bill Gothard didn’t agree to use Chalcedon founder R.J. Rushdoony’s monumental Institutes of Biblical Law tome in Gothard’s sprawling evangelical empire is that the two couldn’t agree on divorce. Rushdoony’s Institutes was a template for instituting Biblical law in government (for more on Reconstructionism, see story appendix.)

As Selbrede wrote,

“[T]he divide between Gothard and Rushdoony on divorce was a deep and abiding one. Gothard proposed using Rushdoony’s Institutes of Biblical Law as a resource for his massive ministry; the sheer volume of the resulting sales would have made Rushdoony both rich and famous. Gothard’s condition for moving forward on this was letter-simple: Rushdoony merely needed to remove the section on divorce from his book, and the highly profitable deal would be sealed.

Rushdoony refused the offer.”

So, while Gothard was categorically opposed to divorce, Rushdoony, a virulently racist Holocaust denier who espoused Geocentrism, was a little more liberal on divorce. In other words, the two men were otherwise in substantial agreement – except for the sticking point of divorce, they both agreed that Rushdoony’s vision for Biblical law should be imposed upon America.

That vision included instituting stoning as a form of capital punishment for rape, kidnapping, murder, heresy, blasphemy, witchcraft, astrology, adultery, “sodomy or homosexuality,” incest, striking a parent, extreme juvenile delinquency, and “unchastity before marriage.”

Daniel Webster’s association with Bill Gothard’s Institute For Basic Life Training has continued into the present, and a speech Webster made at a Nashville IBLP conference in 2009 has now become a source of controversy due to a new Alan Grayson campaign ad. Grayson is currently taking a media drubbing because of a campaign ad that calls Grayson’s political opponent, Republican Daniel Webster, “Taliban Dan.”

An assessment from Factcheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, that a new Grayson campaign ad attacking Grayson’s political opponent, Republican Daniel Webster, for allegedly taking out of context statements Webster made in a speech at a 2009 conference of a religious organization called the “Institute of Basic Life Principles.”

Die-hard religious right researchers at ReligionDispatches.org are challenging Factcheck.org’s immediate charge, and Religion Dispatches editor Sarah Posner calls out Factcheck.org for blandly describing Bill Gothard’s IBLP as a ”non-denominational Christian organization that runs programs and training sessions.”

Many across the political spectrum appear appalled by the Grayson campaign’s “Taliban” label but Daniel Webster’s nearly three-decade long, intimate involvement with the Bill Gothard and the Institute For Basic Life Principles suggests that the label may be less than hyperbolic.

Indeed. Hyperbole is hardly necessary when we are comparing two worldviews that believe there should be laws making stoning a form of capital punishment for rape, kidnapping, murder, heresy, blasphemy, witchcraft, astrology, adultery, “sodomy or homosexuality,” incest, striking a parent, extreme juvenile delinquency, and “unchastity before marriage.”You can argue that comparing the Christian Reconstructionists to the Taliban is too politically hot or theologically imprecise. What you cannot say is that they don't have the same primitive worldview.

The rest of the article is equally damning. Take this bit for instance:

Some critics have accused Gothard of employing exorcism which, in the following account, would seem, to function as a method for disciplining unruly wives. In her 2003 book Bonshea, by Coral Anika Theill, Theill describes undergoing the following therapeutic regimen at one of Bill Gothard’s facilities:

“My husband counseled over the phone with Mr. Jim Logan, a man who specialized in counseling in matters regarding demon possession. He suggested my husband take me to the Bill Gothard Indianapolis Training Center in Indianapolis. A few months later, in September of 1994, my husband took me by plane to Indianapolis for counseling and reprimand. Mr. Bill Gothard of Basic Youth Conflicts runs this “Christian” training center.


I was told how I had not learned to submit to my husband and religious “authorities” and that God was punishing me because of my rebellious spirit. I was accused of witchcraft and they tried, through prayer and exorcism, to cast demons out of me on a daily basis.

I was forced to listen to presentations by the Institute every single day on how to be a more submissive wife. The central theme message was from 1 Cor 11:3-9, “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” ” [Bonshea, pages 56-57]

I realize that it's completely, shockingly irresponsible for Grayson not to have explained the full theological meaning of Webster's beliefs in his 30 second ad, but the fact remains that it's completely true that Webster believes that women should submit. But perhaps Grayson's ad will have the perverse effect of making people in the district ask just what it is that Daniel Webster believes. And if they scratch the surface, they'll find that he is a very extreme fundamentalist theocrat who is unfit for public office anywhere but perhaps 16th Century England or 21st Century Afghanistan.

Kooks Got The Mojo Rising

by digby

Where do they find these people? First we hear of the latest Brietbart/O'Keefe stunt to lure a reporter on to a boat and film her among dildos and dirty magazines in a supposed attempt to embarrass her. (Sounds more like a blackmail set-up to me.)

And then there's this creepy guy:
“For nearly six months, Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general for the state of Michigan, has waged an internet campaign against” Chris Armstrong, who is the openly gay student assembly president at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Shirvell maintains a blog called Chris Armstrong Watch where he regularly berates Shirvell and complains about what he calls the “homosexual lifestyle.” The blog even features mocked up graphics Shirvell has created of Armstrong, including one where the assistant attorney general has written “racist elitist liar” on a picture of Armstrong’s face. Additionally, the assistant AG has even demonstrated outside Shirvell’s home and allegedly stalked him on Facebook.

This guy's an assistant Attorney General?

Oh, and just as Breitbart and O'Keefe claimed to not have a racist bone in their bodies when they trafficked in cartoonish African America stereotypes, this fine fellow told Anderson Cooper that he doesn't have any hate in his body at all:

COOPER: Do you consider yourself a bigot?

SHIRVELL: Absolutely not. I’m a Christian citizen exercising my first amendment rights. I have no problem with the fact that Chris is homosexual, I have a problem that he’s advancing a very radical agenda.

COOPER: I bring up the bigot question because Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines bigot as a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her prejudices…labeling a student a Nazi, picketing his house, it seems to make you appear intolerant at the very least. It seems you hate this guy because he’s gay.

SHIRVELL: Well, Anderson, that’s your spin on it. The real bigot here is Chris Armstrong. I don’t have any hate in my body at all.

Of course not.

But seriously, these kooks are seemingly everywhere and are getting kookier by the day. My fear is that this is one of those frogs in slowly heating water things and everybody's just getting used to it until it seems normal.

Tea Party Takeover

by digby

What a morning. I had just finished reading Matt Taibbi's report on the Tea party before I read this:

As I've noted here, the impact of the Tea Party on the GOP and the broader political landscape is only beginning to be felt, and now the new NBC/WSJ poll finds that an astonishing 71 percent of Republicans describe themselves as Tea Party supporters.

Taibbi's take on the movement seems right to me except in two important respects. The first is that he completely leaves out the importance of Fox News in the building of this movement. It literally couldn't have happened without it, and the most powerful leaders of the group are creatures of the Murdoch media empire. He does discuss the corporate influence on the group through various other astroturf organizations, and a major thesis of the story is the fact that the Tea Partiers are deluded patsies for the corporate overlords, so that aspect of the story isn't missed. But the insidious Fox agenda is a story unto itself.

The other thing I think he missed was the merging of the Tea Party with the Religious Right. The Glenn Beck MLK day at the Lincoln Memorial was a sort of national invitation. It's necessary since the churches form the main grassroots organizing function for the GOP.

Jim DeMint signaled this a few months back:

David Brody: Are you concerned at all that some of the social conservative issues, abortion and same sex marriage, some of these other issues because they are taking somewhat of a back seat right now at least to the fiscal issues that there are some inherent problems for social conservatives in something like that?

Senator Jim DeMint: No actually just the opposite because I really think a lot of the motivation behind these Tea Party crowds is a spiritual component. I think it's very akin to the Great Awakening before the American Revolution. A lot of our founders believed the American Revolution was won before we ever got into a fight with the British. It was a spiritual renewal.

Senator Jim DeMint: I'm 'praying for you' comes up more than anything else in these crowds so I know there's a spiritual component out there.

Senator Jim DeMint: I think as this thing (the Tea Party movement) continues to roll you're going to see a parallel spiritual revival that goes along with it.

David Brody: Just so I understand, when you say spiritual revival how are you terming that? What do you mean specifically as in "spiritual revival?

Senator Jim DeMint: Well, I think people are seeing this massive government growing and they're realizing that it's the government that's hurting us and I think they're turning back to God in effect is our salvation and government is not our salvation and in fact more and more people see government as the problem and so I think some have been drawn in over the years to a dependency relationship with government and as the Bible says you can't have two masters and I think as people pull back from that they look more to God. It's no coincidence that socialist Europe is post-Christian because the bigger the government gets the smaller God gets and vice-versa. The bigger God gets the smaller people want their government because they're yearning for freedom.

So, within the Tea Party now you have the anti-government (for people they hate) obsessives, the Birchers, the gun fetishists, the neo-confederates and the social conservatives, with spillover between all of them. And the corporate leadership is bankrolling it, knowing that these folks are driven by tribal resentment (Taibbi's description of this is right-on) and are uninterested in their machinations. It's the GOP coalition. If I have any quibble with Taibbi it's the fact that he's so sanguine that these people can do no real mischief once in power. I think the corporate overlords have a tiger by the tail and will find it much harder to control it than they imagine. At the very least they are going to have to throw it a substantial amount of red meat to keep it placated. (I'm guessing it's going to have a lot of taco seasoning on it.)

The big question is, who are the 29% of Republicans who don't approve of the Tea Party? Mike Castle types who just haven't awakened to the radical takeover of their party? And will they keep voting Republican when Jim DeMint officially becomes the spiritual and intellectual leader of the GOP?

Update: Pat Boone's on board:

"I am an American," Pat Boon belted out the other day to an adoring crowd. "Born to be a rootin', tootin', flag-waving citizen."

Boone looked young and fit at 76, with his perpetual tan and stay-press hairdo. As I approached the stage, he was singing the song he'd written for the occasion — the first-ever "Beverly Hills Tea Party" rally.

"I love the Pledge of Allegiance, one nation under God," Boone sang. "If you can't say it with me, you're free to leave, by God. Cuz I am an American. My blood's red, white and blue."

And he was just one of the roughly 200 patriots on hand, including a Revolutionary-themed drum and bugle corps, and two guys who waved a "No More Socialism" banner.

Most of the people in the crowd were middle-aged or older, white and very angry in a Libertarian way about taxes and government spending. Several speakers and attendees said the movement isn't a Republican or Democratic thing; it's about the fact that political leaders are out of touch elitists, and the political process is broken and bankrupt.


Someone handed me a flier for Chelene Nightingale, a candidate for governor of California. Ever hear of her? I hadn't, but she's an immigration hard-liner, according to the literature, and lest you doubt it, there's a photo of her with a big smile and an even bigger gun.

Near the stage, I asked a man what drew him to the event. "I think there should be less government and more power to the people," said Robert Santner, who spoke for many.

Joe Clark complained about how the overtaxing, overreaching government is determined to decide what car we drive, what doctor we see and what foods we eat. He doesn't trust either party, he told me. But his sign left no doubts about his preference.

"Teach A Man to Fish, The Democrats Lose a Vote."


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Defensive Knowledge

by digby

John King featured an interesting factoid about religion on his show tonight. Out of 32 questions about various religions posed by a recent Pew Poll , it was the Atheists/Agnostics who got the most right, followed by the Jews and the Mormons.

I'm guessing that when you're in a minority you probably feel it's more important to know what the majority believes. But I still think it's interesting that atheists, the most despised religious minority in the nation by far, including Muslims, know more about religion than anyone else.

Bitches Brood

by digby

What do you suppose they were trying to say here?

Are all black musicians gangster rappers? Or maybe they're talking about Mick Jagger who, after all, learned to dance from Tina Turner who was married to the wife beating Ike, so that's sort of makes him an honorary gangster. And Dylan did that song about Hurricane Carter. So yeah, if you add in the "R&B" (and I think we know what that's code for) Obama's pretty much a Crip. I always suspected it.

(Roy has the rest of the story, here.)

"Have A Nice Day"

by digby

From Howie, this is a horrible story about the typically flippant, glib GOP response to real people's problems:

Andrew Ko, a ... distraught father whose two 10-year old twin sons, Christopher and William, were abducted to Singapore by his ex-wife. Once his sons were spirited out of the country Andrew went to David Dreier, his congressman. Dreier was unhelpful... even insulting, sending him a letter address to Dear "Mr. Yo" and telling him to "have a nice day."

Read on. Howie has a guest post by the frantic dad. Here's the ad Andrew Ko took out in the LA Times:

For The Record

by digby

My feeling aren't hurt by Obama finger wagging about the base being ungrateful. I just think it's a rather silly, unproductive way to deal with a demoralized base and I doubt that it will fly as a strategy for laying blame after the election. I am from the Stephen Colbert "Keep Fear Alive" school which says that this crop of looney tunes Republicans are the most radical throwbacks we've ever seen and that it's important to keep them away from the reins of power. That's as good a reason for voting as I can imagine, so I'm not sure what more it takes. I'm sorry that we can't all be ecstatically singing along to a Will.I.Am video this time, but these just aren't inspirational good times. Right now it's about stopping something very ugly and bad rather than feeling all gooey and good. And that's an important part of politics too. It isn't all Oprah and hugging strangers in crowds.

So, for the record: please vote. No matter how disappointed you are or how rotten you feel about your present circumstances, empowering these crazies is a huge, huge mistake. The Democrats, sadly, will not learn the right lessons if a bunch of neanderthals take over and history shows that in times of great stress and transition, very bad things can happen when you let these people take the reins.

Also: what Atrios said although the substance ship has probably sailed for November.

Creating Good Little Robots

by digby

Bill Gothard, Daniel Webster's mentor:
His opening lecture on self-acceptance closes with a prayer to "give God a vote of confidence for how he has made us so far." Next comes family life. Children must be totally obedient. A religious teenager, for example, should not attend a church college if atheistic parents order him not to. As for a man's wife, she "has to realize that God accomplishes his ultimate will through the decisions of the husband, even when the husband is wrong." Citing I Thessalonians 5:18 ("In every thing give thanks"), Gothard even advises a wife whose husband chastises her to say, "God, thank you for this beating."

Besides following the chain of command in the family, Christians should also be obedient to their employers and their government, Gothard asserts. Only if an order from a parent, the state or a boss conflicts with God's explicit commandments may it be disobeyed.

Nothing to see here folks, move along.

“I enjoy the advice he’s given,” Webster said of Gothard. “I think it’s been a major part of my life. I’m not ashamed of that. What he has said I believe to be the truth.” [St. Petersburg Times, 2/16/97, 9/28/03; Sarasota Herald Tribune, 3/09/97]

Sticking up for Webster: fellow right-wing extremists Glenn Beck and Mike Huckabee.

Huckabee and Beck's "Black Robed Regiment" pastor are followers of Gothard as well.

Daddy Can't Make Us Do It

by digby

One thing I know about Barack Obama. He's a smart, careful politician. He and Gibbs and Biden aren't admonishing the base by accident. It's a strategy. And that means they assume that the base is already going to vote and they are trying to attract independent voters by making them see themselves as common sense adults in comparison to the self-indulgent and petulant liberals. Because unless they really believe that hectoring people into feeling guilty for not recognizing how great the administration has been (which seems remarkably undisciplined and immature for Obama) nothing else makes sense.

I've said this before: you simply cannot browbeat people into loving you. And until voting becomes mandatory, you can't make them vote either. Getting out he vote requires that you either inspire them into loving you or scare them into fearing the other guy. Appeals to duty and guilt are for mommies and right wing preachers, not politicians.

*Oh, and yes, they can blame the base for their losses in November, but that won't fly either. It's results that matter and people don't blame voters for not voting --- they blame the politicians for failing to get them to vote. Winners get credit and losers get blame. It's just how it works.

Update: Michael Moore. Just read it.

Disavowal Movement Resurgent

by digby

So, I'm hearing on the internets that liberals had better disavow Grayson's Taliban ad or risk being seen as hypocrites when we complain about the other side doing it. All I can say is, "Oh dear, not that." (And I have never been much for the bi-annual "disavowal ritual" in general. You can look it up.)

Ever since Jesse Helms ran this ad and Daddy Bush ran this one I've haven't given the moral dimension of attack ads much thought at all. They are part of American politics and you can rail against them all you want, but they aren't going anywhere. Fretting about such things is the province of very upright, highly moral liberals who believe that it is better to lose than to run ads which sink to the other side's level. I guess I just don't think ads are more important than keeping corporate sponsored theocrats from being in positions of power, so we will have to agree to disagree.

At this point in the United States it is permissible for Republicans to attack Democrats as treasonous, Godless/Muslim socialists and compare them to Hitler and Stalin but Democrats are only allowed to attack Republicans for their differences in policy. Can we see the asymmetry here? Is it any surprise that they have dominated politics for the past 30 years? Sure, every once in a while there are moments when their act gets old and the nation will look for hope and change rather than fear and loathing, but let's just say that their willingness (and institutional support) will give them the advantage most of the time.

As for Webster, whether you call him the "T" word or not he's a theocrat --- the real thing:

Speaker Has Strong Ties to Institute

by Peter Wallsten, T. Christian Miller, St. Petersburg Times, February
16, 1997

Last summer, Daniel Webster journeyed to South Korea on a religious
mission, meeting with the country's president and other political and spiritual leaders.

He was joined by Bill Gothard, the head of a $30-million Christian evangelical group.

Four months after the trip, Webster ascended to one of the most powerful positions in Florida: speaker of the state House of Representatives.

He brings with him 14 years of experience with Gothard's Institute in Basic Life Principles, where Webster has not only attended seminars, but also taught classes and even made an instructional video that raised money for the institute.

The group preaches a literal interpretation of the Bible, including the belief that women should submit to their husbands' authority. With programs for lawmakers, judges, doctors, juvenile delinquents and home- schooling courses, the institute's reach is wide. It says that 2.5-million people around the world have participated in its programs.

Webster is an enthusiastic supporter. His six children learn at home, taught by his wife, Sandy, using the institute's curriculum. The family, which also is active in its Orlando Baptist church, has participated in numerous institute seminars over the years.

Webster said he does not want to force his beliefs on other people.

"I've never tried to say this is what's right for everybody,'' he said. ""All I've said is, "Here's what works for me.' ''

Webster said he will not let the institute's teachings dictate his legislative agenda in the House, where he is the first Republican speaker in 122 years.

Still, the institute is attracting increasing interest in Tallahassee. Webster has hired four House staffers whom he met through the institute, although Webster's press secretary, Kathy Mears, pointed out that hundreds of people work for Webster. Mears herself has participated in institute courses.

Over the years, Webster and state Rep. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, have recruited at least eight other Florida lawmakers to the program, including Sen. John Grant, R-Tampa, and Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey.

But Webster said there is no connection between Gothard's seven Bible-based principles and the five principles Webster is using to rank every measure the House will consider this year...
Let's hope some of Gothards more archaic "old testament" views aren't among them:

Under the session titled “Six Purposes, Principles, and Keys To Fulfillment In The Marriage Relationship,” he told married couples to abstain from physical relations: 1. During the wife’s menstrual cycle; 2. Seven days after the cycles; 3. 40 days after the birth of a son; 4. 80 days after the birth of a daughter; and 5. The evening prior to worship.

As religious right expert Sarah Posner (who disapproves of using the word Taliban and thinks Grayson erred in making the ad) writes this morning:

As Julie reported yesterday, Florida Democrat Alan Grayson ran an ad against his Republican opponent, Dan Webster, calling him "Taliban Dan," and pointing to statements he made to the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP) about wives' submission to their husbands -- a topic covered authoritatively by RD contributor Kathryn Joyce in her book, Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement.

Factcheck.org asserts that the quotes were taken out of context, claiming Webster was saying not to pick and choose Bible verses, and was pointing out that he doesn't pick and choose only the ones about wifely submission.

But Joyce tells me Factcheck.org misunderstands Webster's statements, even in context:

While the Grayson campaign can be taken to task for taking Webster's comment out of context, in the larger context, they're correct. Grayson's campaign argued that Webster seemed to be supporting submission in his comments to an audience of conservative men, whom he directed to pray that they would better fulfill their biblical duty to love their wives, and leave prayers about women's submission to their wives. However, the emphasis of these remarks, as those familiar with Christian rhetoric could recognize, is not on the optional nature of wives' submission. Wifely submission is part of an often-unbalanced equation to Christians who subscribe to "complementarian" or "patriarchal" marriage roles, where men must "love" and women "obey." Saying that a woman should pray for God's guidance in submission, if she wants to, is not leniency, but rather standard evangelical language that emphasizes individuals must obey biblical mandates regardless of how others around them behave. So, Webster is saying, men must be accountable to God for their responsibility to love their wives regardless of whether she submits -- that they must pray to do right, even if she doesn't.

However, the much more relevant application of this principle on following God's orders despite your circumstances is on women. Submission is a contentious and tricky issue even within conservative evangelical churches. Most churches promoting submission make certain to couple demands for submissive wives with those for loving, servant-leader husbands. But at the end of the day, it's women who bear the brunt of the principle; their obligations are to God, not to a husband who may or may not keep his end of the contract. Accordingly, the message is impressed by countless women's ministries and leaders that women must continue submitting even when their husband doesn't show love, because they owe their obedience, above all, to God. In circles that take submission seriously -- as does any organization associated with Bill Gothard -- that's what wives' options really look like.

claims this morning that the Grayson ad "backfired." If it did, it was because Grayson -- and more fundamentally, Factcheck.org -- failed to grasp what was crucial about this story.
I think it's premature for Politico to say the ad "backfired" since, you know, the election hasn't happened yet, but Posner's point about Factcheck missing the forest for the trees is correct. The truth is that Webster does adhere to the view that women should submit to their husbands.

Now perhaps it's considered quaint for "exceptional" good Americans to hold pre-modern views like that while it's weird and creepy for evil Afghan Muslims, but it's fairly hard for me, as a secular feminist, to see much difference between them --- or frankly care about the nuances. The delicacy people have toward using the word "Taliban" strikes me as a sort of self-defeating PC that once again takes religion --- like patriotism --- off the menu for criticism.

What I hear most often about all this is that it's wrong to call fellow Americans the same thing we call "the enemy." But these people make it clear every day that they certainly consider secular, liberal feminists like me the enemy and they make no bones about it. Being as I'm not a follower of Jesus, the whole "turn the other cheek" thing doesn't really resonate with me.

I believe people who hold beliefs like Daniel Webster to be unfit for public office. They do not believe in the separation of church and state and if elected they will work to make Dominionist laws. Yes, he has a right to hold his views and he has a right to run. But he doesn't have a right to expect people to be polite and deferential about his extreme fundamentalist views.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Mission Creeps

by digby

Glenzilla talks about the latest domestic spying government power grab and offers this observation:

What these Obama proposals illustrates is just how far we've descended in the security/liberty debate, where only the former consideration has value, while the latter has none. Whereas it was once axiomatic that the Government should not spy on citizens who have done nothing wrong, that belief is now relegated to the civil libertarian fringes.

He's right, of course, but I think we tend to lose sight of another problem in allowing the government to have unfettered power to go on fishing expeditions in citizens' private business. The fact that it's ineffective against terrorism is problematic enough and monitoring everyone's financial transactions with overseas banks in this age of globalization is somewhat terrifying. But it's the inevitable mission creep that's really chilling.

Check this out:

Kathy Parker, a 43-year-old Elkton, Md., woman, who was flying out of Philadelphia International Airport on Aug. 8.

She says she was heading to Charlotte, N.C., for work that Sunday night - she's a business support manager for a large bank - and was selected for a more in-depth search after she passed through the metal detectors at Gate B around 5:15 p.m.

A female Transportation Security Administration officer wanded her and patted her down, she says. Then she was walked over to where other TSA officers were searching her bags.

"Everything in my purse was out, including my wallet and my checkbook. I had two prescriptions in there. One was diet pills. This was embarrassing. A TSA officer said, 'Hey, I've always been curious about these. Do they work?'

"I was just so taken aback, I said, 'Yeah.' "

What happened next, she says, was more than embarrassing. It was infuriating.

That same screener started emptying her wallet. "He was taking out the receipts and looking at them," she said.

"I understand that TSA is tasked with strengthening national security but [it] surely does not need to know what I purchased at Kohl's or Wal-Mart," she wrote in her complaint, which she sent me last week.

She says she asked what he was looking for and he replied, "Razor blades." She wondered, "Wouldn't that have shown up on the metal detector?"

In a side pocket she had tucked a deposit slip and seven checks made out to her and her husband, worth about $8,000.

Her thought: "Oh, my God, this is none of his business."

Two Philadelphia police officers joined at least four TSA officers who had gathered around her. After conferring with the TSA screeners, one of the Philadelphia officers told her he was there because her checks were numbered sequentially, which she says they were not.

"It's an indication you've embezzled these checks," she says the police officer told her. He also told her she appeared nervous. She hadn't before that moment, she says.

She protested when the officer started to walk away with the checks. "That's my money," she remembers saying. The officer's reply? "It's not your money."

At this point she told the officers that she had a good explanation for the checks, but questioned whether she had to tell them.

"The police officer said if you don't tell me, you can tell the D.A."

So she explained that she and her husband had been on vacation, that they'd accumulated some hefty checks, and that she was headed to her bank's headquarters, where she intended to deposit them.

She gave police her husband's cell-phone number - he was at her mother's with their children and missed their call.

Thirty minutes after the police became involved, they decided to let her collect her belongings and board her plane.

"I was shaking," she says. "I was almost in tears."

When she got home, her husband of 20 years, John Parker, a self-employed plastics broker, said the police had called and told him that they'd suspected "a divorce situation" and that Kathy Parker was trying to empty their bank account.

The job of the police is to find criminals and the bigger the police state, the more police looking for criminals there are. And the constitutional constraints against giving the government unrestrained power to nose into anyone and everyone's lives to find criminal behavior that isn't obvious has always been considered a hindrance to their jobs. (This is the old "if you haven't got anything to hide, then why should you care?" argument.)

They are clearly finding lots of creative ways to use the powers of the surveillance state to do just that:

What happened sounds like a violation of a TSA policy that went into effect Sept. 1, after the American Civil Liberties Union sued the agency on behalf of the former campaign treasurer of presidential candidate Ron Paul.

In that case, Steven Bierfeldt was detained after screeners at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport discovered he was carrying about $4,700 in cash. He challenged their request that he explain where his money came from.

The new TSA directive reads: "Screening may not be conducted to detect evidence of crimes unrelated to transportation security." If evidence of a crime is discovered, then TSA agents are instructed to contact the appropriate law enforcement agency.

So just what evidence made them treat Kathy Parker like a criminal?

Lt. Frank Vanore, a Philadelphia police spokesman, said that TSA personnel had called his officers, who found the checks to be "almost sequential." They were "just checking to make sure there was nothing fraudulent," he said. "They were wondering what the story was. The officer got it cleared up."

TSA spokeswoman Ann Davis said the reason Parker was selected for in-depth screening was that her actions at the airport had aroused the suspicion of a behavior detection officer, and that she continued to act "as if she feared discovery."

"We need to ascertain whether fear of discovery is due to the fact a person is concealing a threatening item, be it a dangerous weapon or some kind of explosive," Davis said. "If the search is complete, and shows individuals not to be a threat to the aircraft or fellow passengers, they are free to go."

But why call police? Davis said, "Because her behavior escalated."

Essentially what they are saying is that at American airports if the government finds someone's behavior "suspicious" they have a right to detain them and search them for evidence of terrorism. If they don't find evidence of terrorism, but they still find the person "suspicious" they can then call in police, who will look for evidence of non-terrorist related crimes. What constitutes suspicious behavior? Only the "specialist" knows for sure. And if you demand to know why they are calling the police, that constitutes "escalating behavior" which gives them cause for further inquiry.

This is how the creeping police state slowly takes over. They use the excuse of national security to chip away at the constitutional constraints that prevent the government from abusing its authority. The citizens are in a constant state of paranoia, worried that what they know is innocent will "look" guilty and afraid of asserting their rights because the act of asserting them is considered evidence of something to hide. There are thousands and thousands of people in every aspect of American life now granted the authority to do this in the name of anti-terrorism.

* I should add that I don't honestly know how the evidence obtained in these searches is treated by the courts. I have to assume that once you have consented to the search, as we all do when we attempt to fly (or open a bank account) then it's admissible. But even if it isn't, it's hard to have faith that the police running fishing expeditions in your private business won't lead to mischief and trouble regardless. Besides, it's unAmerican.

Mrs Taliban Dan Submits

by digby

If you haven't seen the ad that's causing a flurry among the very, very delicate Republicans, check it out:

The good wife speaks up:

Twenty-four hours after Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson launched a scalding TV attack comparing his opponent to the Taliban for his positions on women’s issues, Florida Republican Daniel Webster is pushing back.

In a statement from the campaign Monday afternoon, Webster’s wife and campaign manager derided Grayson’s ad as “shameful” and “ludicrous.”

But the response does not refute any of the charges leveled in the ad – titled “Taliban Dan Webster” - which claimed that Webster, a former state Senate majority leader and state House speaker, wanted to make divorce illegal and deny abused women health care. Grayson’s ad even claims that Webster “tried to prohibit alimony to an ‘adulterous wife’ but not an adulterous husband,’” and that he “wants to force women to stay in abusive marriages.”

Webster’s response also does not address footage in the ad of Webster saying, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husband,” and “She should submit to me – that’s in the Bible.”

Uhm. They can't refute it because it's all true. Webster is a far right Christian Reconstructionist loon.

Mrs Webster knows very well that it is a sin to lie so she cleverly accuses Grayson of being untruthful without refuting the irrefutable:

In her statement, Sandy Webster said: "Alan Grayson's latest attack on my husband is shameful. Mr. Grayson seems to have a problem telling the truth and no problem misleading the public. Dan has been an amazing husband and father, and the finest man I have ever known. Mr. Grayson should be ashamed of his nasty smears against my husband."

The Village is having a full blown hissy fit about the ad, although I notice that it seems to be quite a bit less offensive to women than men. I wonder why?

High Class Problems

by digby

If you haven't read Bill Maher's righteous rant about the whining rich, it's a corker. This excerpt is just the conclusion. The rest is just as good:

Another of my favorites, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said, "I don't know where they're going to get all this money, because we're running out of rich people in this country." Actually, we have more billionaires here in the U.S. than all the other countries in the top ten combined, and their wealth grew 27% in the last year. Did yours? Truth is, there are only two things that the United States is not running out of: Rich people and bullshit. Here's the truth: When you raise taxes slightly on the wealthy, it obviously doesn't destroy the economy -- we know this, because we just did it -- remember the '90's? It wasn't that long ago. You were probably listening to grunge music, or dabbling in witchcraft. Clinton moved the top marginal rate from 36 to 39% -- and far from tanking, the economy did so well he had time to get his dick washed.

Even 39% isn't high by historical standards. Under Eisenhower, the top tax rate was 91%. Under Nixon, it was 70%. Obama just wants to kick it back to 39 -- just three more points for the very rich. Not back to 91, or 70. Three points. And they go insane. Steve Forbes said that Obama, quote "believes from his inner core that people... above a certain income have more than they should have and that many probably have gotten it from ill-gotten ways." Which they have. Steve Forbes, of course, came by his fortune honestly: he inherited it from his gay egg-collecting, Elizabeth Taylor fag-hagging father, who inherited it from his father. Of course then they moan about the inheritance tax, how the government took 55% percent when Daddy died -- which means you still got 45% for doing nothing more than starting out life as your father's pecker-snot.

We don't hate rich people, but have a little humility about how you got it and stop complaining. Maybe the worst whiner of all: Stephen Schwarzman, #69 on Forbes' list of richest Americans, compared Obama's tax hike to "when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939." Wow. If Obama were Hitler, Mr. Schwarzman, I think your tax rate would be the least of your worries.

This whining has been deriving me crazy since the beginning of the financial crisis. I really thought the Master of the Universe, while ruthless and greedy, at least were tough. But this constant sniveling about their poor hurt feelings has made me totally lose whatever sliver of respect I had left for them. It's nice to see more people calling them out on it.

Update: McJoan pointed out this morning that these whimpering babies only represent a third of the wealthy:

In the long list of polls that reflect majority support in the country for allowing the tax cuts for the rich to expire, there was one highlighted by the Wall Street Journal that has gotten lost in the hub-bub:

As Congress and President Obama fight over the Bush tax cuts, a small number of left-leaning rich people have come out in support of paying higher taxes. The most famous are the members of the Responsible Wealth Project, who say they pay too little in taxes and want to address inequality.

They may be an eccentric minority, or (in the view of conservatives) a lunatic fringe. But a Quinnipiac University poll this year showed nearly two-thirds of those with household incomes of more than $250,000 a year support raising their own taxes to reduce the federal deficit.

So not all of the wealthy are angry about tax hikes. But that doesn’t mean they just want bigger government. What they want is better government – and investment in growth.

Quackpot Dr Paul

by digby

Ok, this is getting ridiculous now:

Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul belongs to a conservative doctors’ group that, among other things, has expressed doubts about the connection between HIV and AIDS and suggested that President Barack Obama may have been elected because he was able to hypnotize voters.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, based in Tucson, Ariz., advocates conservative and free-market solutions on health care and a variety of other political issues.

But it also uses its medical journal and Website as forums for unorthodox medical views.


Speaking to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons’ annual conference last October in Nashville, Paul said he has been a member of the group since at least 1990.

“I use a lot of AAPS literature when I talk,” he told the group.

What kind of "literature" might that be?

Nichols said one of the AAPS’ most disconcerting positions is to question whether the human immunodeficiency virus is the cause of AIDS.

More than two decades ago, in 1988, a committee of the National Academy of Sciences asserted that the evidence linking AIDS and HIV is “scientifically conclusive.” Other medical authorities have reached the same conclusion.

But the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons published an article in 2007 saying “both official reports and the peer-reviewed literature afford substantive grounds for doubting that HIV is the necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS and that anti-retroviral treatment is unambiguously beneficial.”

(3 of 6)

The article doesn’t otherwise suggest what would cause AIDS.

“They don’t understand science at all?” Nichols asked. “To deny that is to not be in touch with reality.”

How about this?

On its Website, the AAPS included an article in October 2008 titled, “Is Obama a Brilliant Orator … or a Hypnotist?” It cites an unsigned paper suggesting that Obama used hypnotic techniques and speech patterns in his 2008 campaign.

The paper bases its finding on the work of a controversial psychologist, Milton Erickson, who died 30 years ago and pioneered the also-controversial field of neuro-linguistic programming, which purports to use voice patterns to subliminally influence people’s decisions.

The paper claims to examine Obama’s speeches “word by word, hand gesture by hand gesture, tone, pauses, body language, and proves his use of covert hypnosis intended only for licensed therapists on consenting patients.”

The paper goes on to say that Obama’s “mesmerized, cult-like, grade-school-crush-like worship by millions is not because ‘Obama is the greatest leader of a generation’ who simply hasn’t accomplished anything, who magically ‘inspires’ by giving speeches. Obama is committing perhaps the biggest fraud and deception in American history.”

The AAPS article notes that the Obama campaign logo “might just be the letter ‘O,’ but it also resembles a crystal ball, a favorite of hypnotists.”

And it suggests that hypnosis is the reason some Jewish people backed him.

“It is also interesting that many Jews are supporting a candidate who is endorsed by Hamas, Farrakhan, Khalidi and Iran,” the article says.

Read the whole thing. Daddy belongs to this crackpot group too.

At this point I'm not sure if it isn't safer to have this quack in the Senate than practicing medicine on unsuspecting patients.

Update: Karoli at C&L has much more.

Boehner and Tiger: Ho Ho Ho

by digby

Howie sez:

It was... well, awkward when Chris Wallace interviewed John Boehner yesterday about his silly Pledge. The one-eyed aunt sitting atop the elephant in the room was Boehner's affair with what's-her-name... that K Street lobbyist. Wallace could have asked Boehner for another non-denial denial, but that would never happen on American TV... short of the Stephen Colbert Show (although then Steny Hoyer might get himself all puffed up and protest.)


Nor is Hoyer the only Congressional prig puffing and protesting. Last night Mike Pence, who wants to run for president, had his flack call me-- and late at night-- to demand I retract my assertion that it was Pence who leaked the story about Boehner and the lady lobbyist. The flack said it isn't true. I asked him how he knows. He said he was "100% certain." I said that that was impossible and that my informant was 100% certain it was true and that it was a firsthand account. He demanded to know who my informant was. I asked him to put Pence on the phone. He refused and said he would send me a written statement; he didn't.
I don't have to tell anyone who reads this blog how much I loathe Mike Pence. Apparently his staff is just as unctuous and thin-skinned as he is.

The palace intrigue surrounding Boehner and the rumors of his intimate relationships with lobbyists, is rich. What with the other stories about Paul Ryan pouting and Eric Cantor scheming it looks like the GOP leadership cat fight is going to be more interesting than the election itself.
Anyway, the above video is the newest in our series of ads. As Howie says, "enjoy it here; you won't see it anywhere else-- unless you're in Mike Pence's inner chamber and he's showing it to his cronies so they can all get a good chuckle."

If you'd like to help the progressive Democrat Justin Coussoule put John Boehner out of his misery you can donate here.

It Will Always Be On The Table

by digby

Greg Sargent reports that the president said this today:

"But what I'm seeing out of the Republican leadership out of the last several years has been a set of policies that are just irresponsible. We saw in their Pledge to America a similar set of irresponsible policies. They say they want to balance the budget, they propose $4 trillion worth of tax cuts, and $16 billion in spending cuts. And then they say, `We're gonna somehow, magically balance the budget. That's not a serious approach.

There's no doubt that he's correct. But I would caution that if he thinks he will be rewarded for being serious about balancing the budget he needs to think again. The Democrats thought they had banished the "big spender" label for all time when Clinton not only balanced the budget but created a surplus. The thinking was that nobody could ever say again that the Democrats were irresponsible stewards of the economy and they could finally "take that off the table."

I think it's fairly clear that didn't work out the way they planned it. The Republicans have a neat trick of running up huge debt and creating economic crises when they are in office and then vilifying the Democrats for what they have to do to clean up the mess.Once it's done they come back into power and pass out all the goodies to their rich friends. It's a clear pattern. There's no "taking it off the table."

As long as this pattern holds, Democrats will always be on the defensive, stuck with the dirty work and never being able to reap the electoral rewards for doing it. So they should probably just forget trying to earnestly prove to America that they really are the "responsible" party and concentrate on delivering peace and prosperity. I have a sneaking suspicion that's what people really care about.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Virtually Speaking Sunday

by digby

SUNDAY, Sept 19, 5pm pacific , 8pm eastern
Simulcast on BlogTalkRadio - http://www.blogtalkradio.com/virtuallyspeaking/2010/09/27/virtually-speaking-sundays
Subscribe via iTunes - http://bit.ly/8Szklp
Follow them all: https://twitter.com/jayackroyd/virtuallyspeaking

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
THIS WEEK : Avedon Carol and Susie Madrak talk about developments of the week , highlighting issues that were neglected on the Sunday morning broadcasts.

I have a feeling Susie Madrak and Avedon will be chatting about Axelrod and hippies too. You can call in with questions or join them at Virtually Speaking in Second Life.