Friday, April 29, 2005

Focus on James Dobson

This is the headline and news blurb about the "nuclear option" on Dobson's Focus on the Family site. I was going to excerpt it, but really think you need to read the whole thing to begin to comprehend the pure demagoguery and ridiculousness of this man and his organization.

Time is Running Out to Strike a Blow Against Judicial Tyranny

Judicial tyranny? I thought the problem was with the legislature, the Senate in particular. Let's read on.

Key senators in several states still need to hear from their constituents on the importance of stopping the Senate filibusters that are denying qualified judicial nominees a simple up-or-down. If you believe in the Constitution, the time is now for you to take a stand to ensure its survival.

You can do so by letting one or both of your senators know, today, that you have had enough of filibusters to stop qualified judges from serving on the federal courts. This obstructionism, unprecedented in U.S. history, is being carried out by Democrats simply because they don't want men and women who believe in strictly interpreting the Constitution to be confirmed to the bench.

Do you believe in the Constitution? Well, you need to ensure its survival by making sure that (Bush's) judicial nominees get a "simple up-or-down", although no where in the Constitution is the demand for a "simple up or down" specified.

And this "obstructionism" is "unprecedented in American history"? Well, only if you consider that Republicans have rarely been in charge of all branches of government is it "unprecedented".

And what's the deal with "men and women who believe in strictly interpreting the Constitution"? Is it possible for a strict interpretation to be against what Dobson and his gang want, or is it simply a rhetorical device to mean interpret the Constitution in a way that's favorable for Big Business and the goals of theocracy?

What kind of judges do the liberals want? Those like the ones who allowed Terri Schiavo to be starved and dehydrated to death. Those like the ones who don't believe it should be illegal for abortionists to suck the brains out of nearly-delivered children. Those who believe pornography showing women being raped, mutilated and defecated upon is protected by the First Amendment, but the Ten Commandments are not.

Um, since I have a number of Bibles at home, Bibles I purchased from various retail establishments, and these Bibles contain the Ten Commandments (as well as the Beatitudes and other instructions), and as I have not been arrested or even challenged about possessing Bibles with such commandments in them, then I would have to say that I think the Ten Commandments are protected under the First Amendment. And since the Second Commandment is that you shall not make unto yourselves any graven images like unto anything that is in heaven, and since the First Amendment doesn't say anything about abortion or pornography but does say that Congress (and the states by way of the 14th Amendment) shall not establish a religion, then I think this apples to oranges comparison is just silly.

Keeping judges like this in power is the real motivation for the blockade of President Bush's judicial nominees. That's why the "constitutional option" for ending this impasse must be enacted: restoring Senate tradition to ensure nominees with the support of a majority of senators are confirmed. That is, after all, the process as it is has been observed for more than 200 years.

200 years? Um, no it hasn't. 60-some Clinton nominees never made it onto a Committee agenda, much less onto the floor where a "simple up or down" could have been allowed.

Below, youll find the names of senators in several key states, if both are listed, its because both are resistant to constitutionally ending Democrats filibusters. If you live in one of these states, please take a few minutes to call them at all of the district office numbers youll find when you click on their names, and politely deliver this simple message: "Stop judicial filibusters by enacting the constitutional option."

Constitutionally ending Democratic filibusters? Are there unconstitutional ways to end Democratic filibusters? Is it that Democratic filibusters are unconstitutional or filibusters in general? If justices "deserve a simple up or down", shouldn't all legislation and procedure? ARe there no allowances for supermajority votes, such as treaties, and Constitutional amendments? If they enjoy "majority" support, why can't they be passed, too?

You might also want to reemphasize that message in a followup email, using the forms you'll find on the contact information page you get when you click on each senator's name. If you don't live in one of these states, your senators have come down on one side or the other in this debate. You can still make your views known to them, however, by visiting the CitizenL:ink Action Center and typing your ZIP code into the space provided.

Phewwww! I don't know about you, but I've become dumberer already just by reading this.

Gaining the Whole World but Losing Your Own Soul

Dear Zell,

Wow, what a difference a year makes. It was about one year ago when you began making plans to give the keynote address to the Republican Convention in New York City. And you were the best selling author of A National Party No More, a polemic against modern liberalism and the Democratic Party that had sponsored you throughout your life and political career. Railing against Democrats, liberals, and American citizens with opposing views of society, the right to dissent, and the war in Iraq, you stood on stage in New York and loudly and vicously condemned opponents of George W. Bush and the Republican Party as traitors. Later, when challenged for some your vitriolic rhetoric by Chris Matthews, you issued a threat to the anchor to an old time duel.

And although some in the media may have thought you had lost your mind, and your old party may have thought you had lost your soul as well, you were basking in the limelight conservative Republicans typically offer to new converts, giving interviews, traveling around the country giving anti-Kerry speeches, and popping up on Cable TV "news" to provide the role of dutiful and principled Democratic opposition to the Democratic Party and its candidate. Hannity, Limbaugh, Coulter, Gibson, Oh'Really? and the rest of the Faux News bunch ate it up. They loved you.

But then as the new year came, you found yourself retired, voluntarily stepping down from your seat in the U.S. Senate. And with your retirement, and in particular, your now lack of bonified Democratic affiliation, your clout and usefulness to the conservative establishment diminished considerably.

Meanwhile, your old Party, vilified after the election for losing the "values" voters, and facing even greater odds in a more heavily Republican represented Congress, has moved on without you. And there are signs of life that it is gaining some backbone. Our new Senate minority leader Harry Reid--an anti-abortion guy, just like you--has taken hold of the Party's opposition to the Republicans in both name and in deed. He's been leading Party efforts to prevent the most extreme of Bush's judicial nominees from being appointed to lifetime tenure positions on the courts, and is provoking Republicans into breaking Senate rules to advance its agenda, which if opinion polls are any reflection, is causing an emergence of second thoughts among the populace about who they have put into power.

In the House, 30 some Blue Dog and New Democrats are whining about how their unqualified support for the Leave No Credit Card Company Behind "bankruptcy reform" bill has generated a bit of a backlash among actual members of the Democratic Party.

No, Zell, it's not the same old Democratic Party, either from your pro-segregation days in Georgia or from your time in the U.S. Senate. It may not be the "national" party you claim to desire. But it is beginning to learn what minority and opposition parties do, and it is beginning to reflect the impact of progressive activists, both online and off. That rowdy former Vermont Governor, Howard Dean is our chair. He's not your kind of accomodationist. But we like him just the same.

Now that the hooplah over the 2004 election is passed, you're wondering what's next for you. The conservatives felt sorry for you and invited you out to the last conservative conference where you were invited on stage by your old, short time friends, to give an "award" to the angry Swift Boat Vets for their disgraceful pilloring of Senator Kerry's honorable war service and record. But now what? Maybe do a few more of these stand up acts at the latest big money funded shindig?

Was it worth it, Zell? Think the conservatives will continue to remember you and include you in their next fatwah, now that you're less than the token Democrat they once needed but now can discard, the better to pave the way for the "religious" snake oil salesmen they can get to headline their acts?

Was it worth it, Zell, to gain the whole world of conservative admiration, and lose your soul? What will a man gain in exchange for his soul?

Zell, there's still time for a change of heart. You once aspired to more progressive aims. You championed Bill Clinton's candidacy and defended him in the face of criticism about his military record and womanizing. You appeared to embrace the progressive spirit of the Clinton-Gore revival. We remember that and appreciate it. We're not totally sure what has transpired since then. But unlike the other party, Democrats are forgiving. And tolerant. A soul is too valuable to lose.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Too Much Justice For Justice Sunday

According to The Nation, there was only one black clergy member on stage for Justice Sunday.

Bishop Harry Jackson, from Hope Christian Church in College Park, Maryland, was Justice Sunday's only black speaker. Jackson had recently unveiled his "Black Contract With America," a document that highlights wedge issues like gay marriage that would presumably pry black churchgoers away from the Democratic Party. But so far he has been disappointed. "Black churches are too concerned with justice," Jackson lamented in his speech.

Get that? Sunday's event was billed Justice Sunday in protest over Democratic filibustering of 7, yes that's 7, of Bush's farthest right judicial nominees, one of whom wishes to turn the clock back to 1800, but the good bishop is discouraged with his flock because they are too concerned about "justice" to get suckered into bashing gays for Justice Sunday.

So yes, one of the leaders of Justice Sunday thinks his black congregants are too concerned about justice.

I'm too stupified to say anything further.

The Janice Rogers Brown Report

The CarpetBagger has it.

She hates Social Security, the minimum wage, thinks the elderly are cannibals, and along with most conservatives, pants breathlessly for a return to America's Golden Age (1787-1900) when corporate icons were king and the peasants ate cake.

And yesterday, just for good measure, she pulled out the "religious war" card.

Yeah, by all means, let's compromise and allow this female neanderthal lifetime tenure on the court.

Conservatives, ye may not know it, but we are doing this for you own good. Our filibustering is an act of love. We are saving you (and us) from yourselves.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Bad at Math

I was listening to Randi Rhoads last night on Air America (like radio, only smarter) and one of the obvious points she mentioned about the filibustering of 7, 7 of Bush's nominees (out of some 200+) was that, hey, Republicans have 55 members in the U.S. Senate. This means they only need 5 Democrats--5--to break the filibuster. There are 44 Democrats in the U.S. Senate (and one Independent). We don't think asking you to get 5, that is, one-two-three-four-five, Democrats to cross over is all that much to ask for. If the Republicans and their allies can't get 5, that is f-i-v-e Democrats to cross over and vote for their nominees, than what does that tell you? It tells you your nominee stinks. Pick someone else.

Conservative Greatest Hits

WMD's have been found in Iraq...

That "Schiavo" memo is a fake, it was undoubtedly circulated by Democrats...

We've never used the filibuster on Democratic court nominees...

We never said "nuclear option"; that's a Democratic and liberal media creation...

We never said we wanted to "privatize" Social Security; that's a Democratic and liberal media creation...

The reconstruction in Iraq is going splendedly...

The liberal courts are out of control...

Canada supported U.S. in Vietnam; contributed troops...

And it's only April...

Monday, April 25, 2005

Some People Have Had Enough

Here's Senator Biden on Friday in South Carolina, of all places, for the Jefferson-Jackson Day speech in Columbia, SC:

(paraphase) The other side is trying to claim God is on their side. Well, as one of our most important leaders once said, "it isn't whether God's on our side, it's whether we're on God's side".

Here's Jim Wallis, author of God's Politics:

Liberal groups, meanwhile, stepped up their attacks on both Dr. Frist and the proposed rule change. About 1,200 liberal Christians gathered at a rally at a Presbyterian church here to protest what one speaker, the left-leaning evangelical Jim Wallis, called "a declaration of a religious war" and "an attempt to hijack religion."

Here's Washington Post columnist Colbert King:

Angered by Democratic opposition to some of President Bush's judicial nominees, Perkins's group has also put out a flier charging that "the filibuster . . . is being used against people of faith." To suggest Democrats are out to get "people of faith" is despicable demagoguery that the truly faithful ought to rise up and reject.

But will that occur in American pulpits tomorrow? The Christian right counts on the religiously timid to keep their mouths shut. So why not exploit religion for their own ends? They will if we let them.

And that's just it. Americans of faith -- and those lacking one -- ought to vigorously resist attempts by power-hungry zealots to impose their religious views on the nation. That means standing up to them at every turn.

It means challenging them when they say of Americans who support a woman's right to choose; the right of two adults to enter into a loving, committed, state-sanctioned, monogamous relationship; the right to pursue science in support of life; the right of the aggrieved to launch aggressive assaults against racism, sexism and homophobia, that they are not legitimate members of the flock. Where do those on the religious right get off thinking they have the right to decide who is in and who is out? Who appointed them sole promoters and defenders of the faith? What makes them think they are more holy and righteous than the rest of us?

They are not now and never will be the final arbiters of Christian beliefs and values. They warrant as much deference as religious leaders as do members of the Ku Klux Klan, who also marched under the cross.

They should be resisted, not pandered to by politicians. Case in point: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The Republican leader is going to appear by videotape at tomorrow's self-pity party. He shouldn't. But if he does, Frist should use the occasion to tell the assembled that they are wrong in saying Bush's nominees are being blocked because they are people of faith. He should say that invoking Christianity as an instrument to advance a political agenda or to vanquish a political opponent is divisive, demagogic and beyond the pale in American politics. And if Frist shows up on TV and passes on the opportunity to place his party on the side of tolerance and goodwill, then his performance will be Exhibit A in the case to be made against his presidential quest.

The Bergen Record in Hackensack, N.J., editorialized that the attempt by the Christian right to dominate all three branches of government "has to frighten anyone who is not a Christian conservative. It should frighten us all." Baloney. It should make us mad. Fighting mad.

Here's Senator Reid from a conference call with bloggers:

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, on a conference call with bloggers today:

They are great with names. On Social Security, they have been trying to call private accounts personal accounts. They can talk about the constitutional option all they want. Its privatization, and its the nuclear option. They created those terms, and they are going to wear them around their necks from now till Doomsday.

Here's Colorado's conservative Democratic Senator Ken Salazar laying the smacketh down on Focus on the Family:

Newly-elected Sen. Ken Salazar, D, Colo., a moderate Dem by anyones standards, tried to be patient in dealing with Focus on the Family, which is located in his home state. James Dobsons group continued to attack Salazar, with increasingly incendiary rhetoric, until last week, Salazar had heard enough.

Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., intensified his war of words with Focus on the Family on Thursday, accusing its evangelical Christian leaders of trying to turn the United States into a theocracy.

I think that the way Focus on the Family and the conservative right wing is attempting to take the country will threaten the basic cornerstone of our freedom, Salazar said in an interview.

Over the weekend, Dobsons supporters decided to respond to Salazars criticisms, by going after his wifes Dairy Queen.

In Westminster Sunday, about two dozen conservative Christians gathered Sunday in front of the Dairy Queen owned and operated by the Salazar family. The protesters signs bore messages such as Salazar is anti Christian or Salazar mocks God.

Minister Bob Enyart said he stands against the things Salazar advocates, adding that the senator openly supports immorality.

Cant you just feel the Christian love?

Not surprisingly, the senator was not amused, telling reporters, Its outrageous to target my wifes Dairy Queen. They can protest me wherever they want. These tactics are outrageous and unAmerican and simply will not work.

Two Paradigms

Following conservative rhetoric for the better part of 17 years or so leads me to conclude, perhaps not with any originality, that for conservatives, the essential problem of politics is individual morality. Sex, drugs, rock and roll, and anti-war, anti-empire protesting. The problem is the individual and the "immoral" masses. They must be controlled. Conservative authorities must be obeyed (this leads to a strange kind of moral relativism when it comes to war and American interests, but that's a post for another day).

For conservatives, individuals are the problem. Conservatism is not individualistic in a positive sense. It is anti-individual. Even its screeds against the "gestapo" Environmental Protection Agency and other governmental bureacracies are really cries on the behalf of collective interests in the form of business groups (there's another bizarre twist for you--conservatives as collectivists--but again, a post for another day). Conservativism's anti-governmental posture is not anti-government in general, its just anti-governmental control of business groups.

Whether its calls for greater "moral clarity", "personal responsibility", "family values", "moral absolutes", "strict constructivism" in interpreting the Constitution, the need for an "academic bill of rights", or railings against "activist judges", "the liberal media", "Hollywood", "academic elites", the problem and the call to arms is the same--individual thought and behavior is out of control. People must be strictly controlled and conformity to conservative aspirations and authority enforced, brutally if necessary.

Notice the steam and drool of anger and fear that eminate from televangelists such as Rod Parsley and Focus on the Family head James Dobson when they call for fire from heaven on "courts" that are "out of control". In what sense are the courts "out of control"? Because they will not allow religious worship to be imposed in public schools. Because they can find no Constitutional basis for denying equality to gay people. Because they cannot find a Constitional basis for requiring religious or Christian affiliation for America's officials and citizens. Because the courts have ruled in favor of a Right to Privacy, the right for individuals to live as they please provided they do not directly harm others. In these and other judicial findings, conservative totalitarianism has had the door slammed on its demands and vision for control.

But this conservative paradigm of anti-individual, punative totalitarianism is, I would submit to you, my illustrious readers, the dominate paradigm in American politics today. Even many Democrats, sadly, embrace much of this paradigm, albeit often in softer, more nuanced forms. Consider Democratic appraisals of the "The 1994 Crime Bill", the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, "abortion should be legal but rare" talk, support for civil unions but opposition to "gay marriage", bipartisan bills to regulate video games and set movie ratings, calls for Democratics to "talk in the language of faith and values" and on and on. However squeemishly or reluctantly, Democrats have too often embraced much of what the conservative right has set out to do over the last 40 years, if not in deed, often in rhetoric.

My view is that not only does this paradigm hold alarming implications for individual freedom, but as an indictment of society it is just plain wrong. It just isn't the case that laws enforcing "school prayer", religious devotion, and "patriotism" and laws against marijuana, abortion, divorce, homosexuality, and other perceived social ills or irregularities will make a better, more just society. Now do I think you and I would better off individually if we were monogamous, avoided drugs and alcohol, worshipped God and read the Bible? Yes. But on a broader scale, this is not the worst problem facing our society.

The social problem isn't individual morality, the social problem is power. This is the second paradigm I would invite for your consideration. The Fascist Nazi and Stalin Communist regimes were the most ruthless and dispectable of our time, but the problem presented by these societies was not their individual morality, the threat they posed to their citizens and the world around them was that of their brutal power. Each ruthlessly sought to break first their own citizens, and secondly, any and all enemies to their world view.

It is my view that Democrats should and need to begin to articulate the basis for this paradigm as an alternative to that posed by conservatives. Democratic opposition is more than just filibusters. It is a recognition of the necessity of, and the courage to challenge totalitarian conservativism at every point. If we express opposition to conservatism's course of action, but accept its paradigm, we will ultimately fail to strengthen our party and preserve our free society. We must not accept conservatism's framing of issues, its rhetoric, or its definition of the problem. Democrats must resurrect and rehabilitate the principles and language of liberalism, and call the conservatism on display at last night's "Justice Sunday" and in the halls of Congress and the West Wing by its right name--totalitarianism.

UnHolly Alliance

I've been wonderning about the contradictions in this, too:

...Pastor Rod Parsley hosted two national celebrities of the Christian right for a Central Ohio rally. Professional liberal baiter Ann Coulter -- who's on the cover of this week's Time magazine -- and perennial candidate Alan Keyes came to Parsley's World Harvest Church to help with a flashy launch of the pastor's new book, Silent No More.

Excuse me? Coulter is now a "national celebrity of the Christian right"? I know she's always loved to denounce abortion (in the most graphic, shock-the-bourgeois language possible), but since when is she a woman of God?Morally, it's far from an exact fit.

This is from the Web site of Parsley's Center for Moral Clarity:

Teaching children that their bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit from a young age is key to personal responsibility. Waiting for sex until marriage is a commitment to purity – to being holy vessels God can work through. Children should be taught that they should be holy and consecrated – set apart for a divine purpose – at an early age.

This is Coulter, as portrayed in Time:

"When I first met her," says a fellow conservative, "she was walking around with a black miniskirt and a mink stole, making out with Bob Guccione Jr. in the stairwell." (Coulter dated publisher Guccione, son of the porn mogul, for six months. She says the stairwell story "could be" true, although "I make out in public less often now that I'm publicly recognizable."...)

Here's a Parsley tip for troubled souls:

Have an alcohol problem?

Here's Coulter:

As for living on chardonnay and cigarettes, Coulter says that's "definitely true."


Next, in the chapter entitled "Homosexuality: The Unhappy Gay Agenda," Parsley defines for us "the profile of the new 'political correctness' ... [and] of 'cultural diversity,' 'tolerance,' and 'inclusiveness.'" According to the pastor, those of us in favor of equality will stop at nothing in order to "abolish marriage altogether," instruct all children in homosexual behavior, force "older people' to accept homosexuality, and "expunge a number of passages from [the] Scriptures and rewrite others." The gay agenda is absurd regardless, Parsley reasons, because "gays [are] turning away from the homosexual life and culture in record numbers."


Coulter ... hardly ever misses the drag queens' Halloween parade in Greenwich Village.

Coulter is about as Christian as my office wall. But as someone who's turned into Parsley's cable TV sweating rant a thons on occassion to see what the good pastor is up to, I can say his "ministry" is about 95% politics and 5% water. This is what the fascist right has sunk to and why as a Christian, its initiatives and leaders lack credibility to me.

About Those Judges

In the span of a month we've endured the Terri Schiavo spectacle, the wall-to-wall coverage of the death of one pope, the selection of the new one, and last night, the fascist right's "Justice Sunday" broadcast, calling for the end of the Senate filibuster, a congressional provision which is, so far as I know, a Constitutionally legal means of ensuring the protection of minority rights, a concept that with Republicans controlling all three branches of government, the majority party and its theocratic colluders believe is incompatible with their agenda.

Just in case there are doubts about why Senate Democrats have been blocking the approval of these judges, Steve from No More Mister Nice Blog gives us a clue:

I've been meaning to write something about the big article on "Constitution in Exile" judges that ran this past Sunday in The New York Times Magazine. You should certainly read it -- these people want to overturn the New Deal, and maybe not stop there, and the Bush administration might well succeed in putting a number of them on the federal courts, including the Supreme Court. We learn a few tidbits about some of the Bush nominees who are currently being held off by the Democrats -- a century ago the Supreme Court first dealt with minimum-wage and maximum-hours laws, finding them unconstitutional, and we're told that Bush nominee Janice Rogers Brown thinks those rulings were just swell (a good point to remember next Sunday, when preachers and Bill Frist are telling us that Democrats hate Bush's appointees because they're so Christian).

The Republican, Fox News approved talking points on the "nuclear option" are that (1) we goofed by calling it the "nuclear option"--our ending of the filibuster is really the "Constitutional" option, and its those Democrats who are calling it the "nuclear option", even though we were the ones that started calling it that; and (2) hey, why can't we just have an up or down vote on these judges?

TP 1 is of course reminiscent of the administration's Social Security bamboolzepalooza tour where it initially referred to its Social Security phase out plan's diversion of payroll taxes as "privatization" until that term was deemed to be unhelpful by the party strategists who recommended changing the term to "personal accounts" and then went on to chastize Democrats and members of the media who insisted on using the old Republican TP term "privatization".

TP 2 basically means that with Republicans in charge those pesky Constitutional provisions preventing majority votes, such as the filibuster, the 2/3 rds vote required for treaties, Constitutional amendments, Senate impeachment convictions, and so forth, are now and should be null and void. Huh?

I watched Friday's C-Span coverage of Joe Biden's Jefferson-Jackson Day speech in Columbia, SC, in which, after talking about COPS and all the good we were doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, did manage to mention the upcoming "Justice Sunday" telecast and weigh in against it, and for a return to a strict-constructivist upholding of the Separation of Church and State. But he didn't say anything about the opposed Bush nominees themselves.

But according to Crooks and Liars, Biden appeared to backtrack on Sunday's This Week and expressed some willingness to comprise on the "nuclear option". I hope he and the party don't. What's more, I hope Reid and the gang will let the media know about the range of Brown's, Owen's and Pickering's positions that we find objectionable, besides their opposition to abortion. It's not about faith, it's about undoing the consumer and worker protections of the New Deal, and the improvements in civil liberties since the 1960's. Conservatives want to undo all that. We don't and don't think most Americans do either.