A Wingnut Wet Dream

by Sean, crossposted from Hiding in the Backwaters

We’ve probably all noticed the “Left Behind” books at the book store. Their stark covers draw the eye and actually briefly held my interest until my boyfriend at the time, whose family is very Southern Baptist, explained to me what the Rapture is.

I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me that those left behind because they were not righteous enough should invent some way to prove their devotion and redeem themselves, but this is just creepy.

Imagine: you are a foot soldier in a paramilitary group whose purpose is to remake America as a Christian theocracy, and establish its worldly vision of the dominion of Christ over all aspects of life. You are issued high-tech military weaponry, and instructed to engage the infidel on the streets of New York City. You are on a mission – both a religious mission and a military mission — to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state – especially moderate, mainstream Christians. Your mission is “to conduct physical and spiritual warfare”; all who resist must be taken out with extreme prejudice. You have never felt so powerful, so driven by a purpose: you are 13 years old.

This game immerses children in present-day New York City – 500 square blocks, stretching from Wall Street to Chinatown, Greenwich Village, the United Nations headquarters, and Harlem. The game rewards children for how effectively they role play the killing of those who resist becoming a born again Christian. The game also offers players the opportunity to switch sides and fight for the army of the AntiChrist, releasing cloven-hoofed demons who feast on conservative Christians and their panicked proselytes (who taste a lot like Christian).

Could such a violent, dominionist Christian video game really break through to the popular culture? Well, it is based on a series of books that have already set sales records – the blockbuster Left Behind series of 14 novels by writer Jerry B. Jenkins and his visionary collaborator, retired Southern Baptist minister Tim LaHaye. “We hope teenagers like the game,” Mr. LaHaye told the Los Angeles Times. “Our real goal is to have no one left behind.”1

And we give Islam a hard time? At least the Christian wackos are waiting for several million people to up and vanish before they begin their righteous slaughter. Or so we hope.

HAT TIP: Andrew Sullivan

1Hutson, Jonathan, “The Purpose Driven Life Takers (Updated),” Talk To Action, May 29, 2006, talk2action.org.

Truth telling

And it's not the religious wrong that's doing it.

An observant Seattle Times reader notes:

A letter published May 29 ["The domestic bond is strengthened by traditional beliefs," Northwest Voices], urging passage of a constitutional amendment against gay marriage, was not the work of the woman who signed it, Elisa Baggenstos, of Renton. It actually emanated from Focus on the Family, a far-right-wing political organization purporting to espouse "Christian values" in America.

Baggenstos assembled "her" letter from a form that she accessed over the Internet. Then she changed a few words and sent it to The Seattle Times. It is an example of "astroturf," the faking of grass-roots political sentiment by special-interest groups across the political spectrum.

In recent years, newspapers have been deluged with this sort of fakery and propaganda. "We've made it easy for you to compose a letter advocating for the Marriage Protection Amendment — by pulling together some talking points you can assemble into a completed whole," says the Focus on the Family Web site. "Just use the tool below to select one paragraph from each of four sections — be sure to select the one that reflects your own views. No matter which paragraphs you select, the result will be a letter of fewer than 200 words."

It is especially ironic that so-called "conservative Christians" who spend so much of their time parading their devotion to eternal truth would engage in willful deception. It would seem that, in their world, the Commandment against bearing false witness was intended to apply to everyone but themselves.

It wasn't your letter, Ms. Baggenstos. Why did you tell us it was?

— Charles Pluckhahn, Seattle 

Hat tip:  Sullivan

AP hatchet job

Liberal media.  Yeah right. 

It seems the blogosphere has caught the Associated Press red handed.  Again.

This is rather serious. The Associated Press ran a story yesterday (byline John Solomon) attacking Senator Harry Reid for accepting tickets to a boxing match in Nevada as the guest of the Nevada state government (something that appears totally fine under Senate ethics rules). AP then comes under some rather severe criticism from bloggers, this blog included, because the article notes in its second paragraph that rather than doing the bidding of the Nevada boxing folks, Reid was in fact pushing legislation they didn't like – i.e., Reid was not in the pocket of the Nevada boxing folks.Today, Josh Marshall discovered that AP appears to have edited its story and deleted the sentence that makes clear that Harry Reid was pushing legislation the Nevada boxing folks didn't like. I.e., AP just happened to delete the key line of their story that proves that Harry Reid isn't dishonest. And AP happens to delete this line from their story right after we all criticize them, using the line as proof that AP's story doesn't hold water.

Americablog has a full report.

Meanwhile, Balloon Juice has a good explanation of the differences between the hot air over Reid and the possible felonies on the GOP side of the aisle:

On a similar note the AP’s John Solomon has another story purporting to make Harry Reid look bad. Just like before, there’s no meat in that bun. For the seocnd time running Solomon’s story boils down to Reid accepting a gift that breaks no legal or ethical guidelines and then voting against the people who supposedly bought his influence.

Let’s hold a brief ethics seminar for the slow and hackish. In order for a gift to raise eyebrows it has to break the existing rules, as was the case with the Safavian/Ney affair described above. In order for a gift to break the law it has to involve a clear quid pro quo where quo is a legislative favor offered in return for the illicit quid. Jack Abramoff, for example, gave a swank golf trip in return for inside information on government land and no expansion of workplace protections for his clients in the Marianas Islands.

Interestingly the recent Hastert indictment story has at least one important scoop that doesn’t involve whether Dennis Hastert is in legal trouble – prosecutors have decided that perfectly legal campaign contributions may constitute an illegal quo if they can attach it to a specific quid. That expands the potential reach of the Abramoff affair dramatically and may well wreck the entire K Street model of doing business.

A frothy quagmire

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a scathing editorial focused on soon to be ex Senator Rick Santorum.

Before every election, the Post-Gazette routinely sends letters to the candidates seeking material for the Voters Guide. Back in March, as part of that process for the primary, the newspaper sent a letter to Rick Santorum at his home address, at least the one that he claims. Back from Penn Hills came the letter with a sticker from the U.S. Postal Service checked as "Not Deliverable As Addressed — Unable To Forward."

That is all you need to know about the nasty dispute between the Republican Sen. Santorum and his Democratic opponent, Bob Casey Jr., in the November election. The whole thing is rooted in one inconvenient fact for Sen. Santorum: He doesn't live here anymore. 

Not that his ethics don't have some things to question in the first place, but this is getting real interesting. 

Hat tip:  Americablog

The Keystone Cops

by Sean.  Crossposted from Hiding in the Backwaters:

I’m sure you’ve all heard of William Jefferson by now. A Congressman from Louisiana, he’s been caught red handed by the FBI accepting bribes. This whole story just blows my mind. He is [allegedly] caught on video tape accepting a briefcase containing $100,000 in cash—Can anyone think of a legitimate reason to be handed a briefcase full of cash in a restaurant? I can’t—a subsequent raid of his offices finds $90,000 of that cash in the freezer—perhaps a better choice than a mattress, should your offices go up in smoke, but probably a little more suspicious than, say, a bank—and he has the balls to maintain his innocence and deny all wrong doing!

But wait! There’s more! His fellow Congressmen are up in arms that he has been thusly dealt with, outraged at this obviously and flagrant violation of the Separation of Powers. Are you f*ing kidding me? Congressmen are immune from prosecution? No. Delay has proven that can’t be it. Congressmen are immune from being humiliated by blatant illegal activity? We’re getting closer. How is this strange law enforcement behavior? You are video taped accepting $100,000 in bribe money. Isn’t the next step to obtain a warrant and search your premises while you still have the money in your possession? Congressmen are not above the law. If they are breaking the law they should be pursued and prosecuted like common criminals. End of story. Our legal system has plenty of checks already in place to stem the abuse of power.

Or does it? ‘Cause wait! There’s more!

“As bad as people want to say the Abramoff situation was, it didn’t lead to any House offices getting raided,” said Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.1

He did not just say that. Is that really something you want to be calling attention to? This isn’t a problem with Separation of Powers. It’s a problem with an Executive Branch who has no concept of boundaries. While the Republican party is reeling from one scandal after another, a lone Democrat is singled out for unprecedented police action and public spectacle by a Republican Attorney General and a spokesman for a Republican political organization is kind enough—that’s kind spelled s-t-u-p-i-d—to connect the dots for us. The fact that it’s Republicans like Frist and Ginrich crying foul the loudest doesn’t exactly dispel suspicion.

Unbelievable.

1Eggen, Dan and Shailagh Murray, “FBI Raid on Lawmaker’s Office Is Questioned”, The Washington Post, May 23, 2006, washingtonpost.com.