Greg Prince's Blog

Musings and pontifications from a reality based progressive

Archive for May, 2006

A Wingnut Wet Dream

Posted by Greg on May 31, 2006

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.

Posted in Religious Wrong, The Right | Leave a Comment »

An anti Semitic double standard

Posted by Greg on May 31, 2006

Cathy Young has the goods.

Posted in International | Leave a Comment »

Truth telling

Posted by Greg on May 31, 2006

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

Posted in Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Religious Wrong, The Right | Leave a Comment »

AP hatchet job

Posted by Greg on May 31, 2006

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.

Posted in Media | Leave a Comment »

A frothy quagmire

Posted by Greg on May 31, 2006

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

Posted in Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, Politics in General, The Right | Leave a Comment »

Impending progress?

Posted by Greg on May 30, 2006

David Schaub at The Debate Link thinks so.

Read it in full.

Posted in Civil Rights | Leave a Comment »

The Keystone Cops

Posted by Greg on May 30, 2006

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.

Posted in Congress | Leave a Comment »

US praised on immigration

Posted by Greg on May 30, 2006

The German version of the Financial Times has a great piece talking about immigration in America.  Watching America has both a translation and the original.

While previously liberal Holland prepares to relieve former Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali of her citizenship to the tune of sardonic applause from some, U.S. President George W. Bush is calling for permanent residency and a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants in the U.S. There are few, if any, issues that so clearly outline the differences between the U.S. and Europe as does immigration.

At its roots, the problem is the same on both sides of the Atlantic: hundreds of thousands head to the rich North, looking for a better life. Recently E.U. member Spain decided to legalize immigrants who broke the law to reach its shores, a policy similar to the one the U.S. is currently discussing. While with near unanimity, other E.U. governments from across the political spectrum decried Spain's decision, the American proposals have powerful supporters on the right, starting with a conservative President whose stance on immigration would be too bold even for many of Germany's liberal Greens. 

It's not just the tone and type of debate that distinguishes how America and Europe deal with immigration. The self-confidence shown by millions of illegal immigrants at recent mass rallies in the U.S. in, for example, demanding the right to become American, is astonishing. They see the U.S. as a promise to humanity and felt that most Americans would find it morally difficult to deny them this demand.

This deserves to be read in full.

Hat tip: TMV

Posted in Immigration, International | Leave a Comment »

The first step?

Posted by Greg on May 30, 2006

For all the wingnuts who point out the Religious Wrong isn't shooting people like the Islamists, it appears some Christianists have a new video game for you.

Hat Tip:  TMV

Posted in Religious Wrong, Terrorism, The Right | Leave a Comment »

For the cause?

Posted by Greg on May 29, 2006

IHearYouMADmagPoster_1[1].jpg

Posted in Bush Adminisration, Civil Rights | Leave a Comment »

Miracle muddle

Posted by Greg on May 26, 2006

A great piece in the London Spectator by Philip Bobbitt.  It's subscription only, but appears in the May 20 issue:

What [the Bush] administration has done–and I support the war in Iraq–what they have done is heartbreaking, because they have steadily removed the greatest source of their power, which was the rule of the law. You may think of Abu Ghraib as a battle, and we lost. Guantanamo is a battle that we have lost. It will cost us lives, it will cost us political influence, and above all it may cost us our strategic objectives. Not simply by ignoring it, but having a studied contempt for the law, and not just international law, and which needs desperately to be reformed, but for even our domestic laws. The administration has kicked away what should have been its strongest prop. It baffles me. And it angers me. 

Amen. 

Hat tip: James Wolcott

Posted in Bush Adminisration | 1 Comment »

Global Boring

Posted by Greg on May 26, 2006

From the incomparable Andy Borowitz:

The election of former vice president Al Gore to the White House could result in a disastrous phenomenon called "global boring" in which millions of people around the world would fall asleep in an unprecedented narcoleptic pandemic.

That is the message of a new documentary about the 2000 Democratic Party standard-bearer that has been produced and narrated by Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and is being released in selected cities today.

The documentary, entitled "An Incoherent Truth," collects moments from some of Mr. Gore's most mind-numbing speeches to make a persuasive case that a Gore presidency would set off a doomsday scenario of global tedium.

Speaking at the film's premiere in New York, Sen. Clinton said that while the film "is not for the squeamish," it is a cautionary tale "that every American should see, if they can stand to sit through it."

Insisting that global boring is not a made-up phenomenon but one that is based in scientific fact, Sen. Clinton said that a Gore presidency "would unleash a force of boredom equal to a thousand 'Da Vinci Codes.'"

In his home state of Tennessee, Mr. Gore attempted to discredit the concept of global boring by giving a three-hour speech on the subject.

But at the conclusion of Mr. Gore's address, which was complete with slides, video, and PowerPoint demonstrations, there were mixed reviews for his performance.

"I would like to say that Al made his case," one Gore aide said, "but after ten minutes I found myself losing consciousness."

Elsewhere, NASA launched a new weather satellite in order to give the White House earlier and more accurate hurricane warnings to ignore.

Cure, but it brings us to a very uncomfortable truth about Algore that some having wet dreams on the left don't seem to get. 

Algore is a politician so feckless, he would have been president had he been able to win HIS OWN STATE! 

Parse that again my friends.  Gore couldn't even persuade his own state to vote for him.  And this is who some want to run again in 2008? 

Posted in Election 2008, Humor | Leave a Comment »

Unexpected praise

Posted by Greg on May 25, 2006

From Redstate:

My Gosh, what has the world come to when we have to look to Harry Reid as someone who is not only right on principle but a voice for common sense.

ROFL.

Posted in Congress | 1 Comment »

Why privacy matters

Posted by Greg on May 24, 2006

Congrats to Bruce Schneier for offering the best discussion I've seen on why privacy matters.

Cardinal Richelieu understood the value of surveillance when he famously said, "If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged." Watch someone long enough, and you'll find something to arrest — or just blackmail — with. Privacy is important because without it, surveillance information will be abused: to peep, to sell to marketers and to spy on political enemies — whoever they happen to be at the time.

Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we're doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.

We do nothing wrong when we make love or go to the bathroom. We are not deliberately hiding anything when we seek out private places for reflection or conversation. We keep private journals, sing in the privacy of the shower, and write letters to secret lovers and then burn them. Privacy is a basic human need.

A future in which privacy would face constant assault was so alien to the framers of the Constitution that it never occurred to them to call out privacy as an explicit right. Privacy was inherent to the nobility of their being and their cause. Of course being watched in your own home was unreasonable. Watching at all was an act so unseemly as to be inconceivable among gentlemen in their day. You watched convicted criminals, not free citizens. You ruled your own home. It's intrinsic to the concept of liberty. 

Read the whole thing.  Now!

Posted in Bush Adminisration, Civil Rights | Leave a Comment »

Hand in the till

Posted by Greg on May 24, 2006

It seems our old friend Rick Santorum has managed to do quite well for himself.

The folks over at the Congress Watch of Public Citizen have put out a report on the lobbyists who bankroll Congress. It features a list of the 20 biggest givers among lobbyists — an interesting read, to be sure — but they've also compiled a tally of the biggest "getters," the members of Congress who've pulled in the most money from K Street during the 1998-2004 election cycles.

Among current members of the U.S. Senate, guess who's No. 1.

That's right, the man who helped found the very K Street Project and then tried to deny its existence, our own junior senator from right here in Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum. Looking at those four election cycles from 1998 through 2004, Public Citizen found that the Pa. Republican had raked in $1,163,560 from registered lobbyists — $838,133 from individuals, and $325,427 from their political action committees.

The one current member of Congress who's taken in more lobbyist cash won't be around for much longer. That would be former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who raised $1,322,906, but is resigning early next month to deal with his criminal indictment in his home state of Texas and is also under investigation for his ties to a disgraced lobbyist (what a coincidence), admitted felon Jack Abramoff. 

What distinguished company.  Santorum is the embodyment of the big government nanny state, and he needs to go away, far away.

Other voices:

Reconstitution

     Everybody is well aware of Rick's deep faith. Here is an example of a true Christian in politics.

     Well, on second thought, I suppose that'd depend on what you define as "Christian" behavior.

     Rick is judgmental on how others live their lives, dishonest in his personal life, and an implacable hater of anything that helps poor or elderly people get by. These things, of course, do not sound very Christ-like to most people.

     However, if we look at another Christian tradition-the one of passing around of the collection plate-then Rick is definitely about as Christian as they come. Lobbyists are definitely yelling "Hallelujah!" as they rake in miracle profits thanks to their paid-for errand boy in the Senate.

OK OK OK Already

Give the boy credit. He's made it to the top of the heap, head of the class, king of the hill. After how many years of trying he has made it on GW's coat tails!

Sullivan

The only thing worse than the Christianists’ sanctimony is their graft. In the current election cycle, Santorum is still the Number One lobbyist favorite.

Posted in Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, The Right | Leave a Comment »