Archive for category Conservative

Is anyone surprised an anti-abortion Republican is afraid of research into abortion?

To be honest, there are so many gob-smacking details in the story it’s difficult to know which deserve the most mockery.

Let’s start by noting that the Missouri state senator involved is chair of the Missouri senate’s interim Committee on the Sanctity of Life.  Let’s just pause and let that sink in.

What the actual fuck?!  The state of Missouri’s senators are so far gone that they actually have a Committee on the Sanctity of life. The duties of said committee are spelled out here and are genuinely stunning in multiple, utterly nonsensical ways: Read the rest of this entry »

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The Purity Culture’s Stew of Terror and Misinformation Boils Over

I’ve been trying to make sense of the antics on display at the Omaha Public School hearing about making changes to their thirty year old sexuality education program.

It had the hallmarks of a moral panic:

A moral panic is a public panic over an issue deemed to be a threat to, or shocking to, the sensibilities of “proper” society. This is often fanned by sensationalistselective reporting in the media and exaggerated accounts offered by “moral entrepreneur,” a category that includes politicians on the make and activists in search of a cause. Moral panics can result in what is a real phenomenon being blown way out of proportion, or in what is not a real phenomenon in the first place being widely believed to be real. Moral panics often feature a caricatured or stereotypical “folk devil” on which the anxieties of the community are focused, as described by sociologist Stanley Cohen who coined the term in his study Folk Devils and Moral Panics, which examined media coverage of the mod and rocker riots in the 1960s.[1][2]

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NPR Does Hack Job On Bernie Sanders

I was listening to NPR the other day and heard a report about Bernie Sanders’s visit to, and speech at the very conservative Liberty University. If you think my heading is harsh, you won’t after you compare what actually happened, to NPR’s report which played a couple of portions of the speech and literally cut out the applause. You are almost left with the sense that the Sanders event was like going to a funeral excepting when the audience cheered for fetuses.

Here is NPR’s short take on the event.

And here is Sanders’s actual speech.

I don’t appreciate being made into a fool when I try to tell people about important events. I expect a lot more from Nation Public Radio then blatant censorship and shoddy reporting. :(

UPDATE: I like to have integrity and this probably helps NPR’s case, but I’m still not changing the heading, because they could have reported it and not cut out the applause. I hadn’t seen Sanders’s introduction at Liberty University and the presenter said the front rows had been reserved for his supporters. Being the cynic that I am, and knowing Falwell as I did, I’m not so sure his son wouldn’t do that just in case there were cheers for Sanders from the students. We’ll never know.

I have replaced the original YouTube video with one that runs better and starts with at his introduction.

I’m sorry, but in my opinion, Jerry Falwell was a real swine.


Kim Davis, Religion and the Religious Right’s Perpetual Culture War

The basic outline of this drama could have been predicted (and was predicted) months ago – someone objects to same-sex couples marrying; in their business or government position they refuse to issue marriage licenses or otherwise serve same-sex couples. A minor media brushfire occurs, a right wing legal organization leaps into the fray and throws gasoline on the fire.  A court orders the person to issue said marriage licenses or provide said services.  Person refuses, and on the advice of the legal organization starts talking about religious freedom.  Court orders person to do their job.  Person refuses.  Right wing legal organization gives bad advice, hoping to create a martyr.  Person goes to jail for contempt of court.  The Religious Right goes up in flames.

The specific details were always up for grabs – there’s no reason it had to be Rowan County, Kentucky rather than Mobile, Alabama or Twin Falls, Idaho.  The objector could have been a man not a woman, a judge not a county clerk or the owner of a business.  That the objector would adhere to a form fundamentalist Christianity was a given, although the specific form doesn’t make much difference (Davis belongs to an Apostolic Christian Church). The actual nature of the objection could easily have been a cut and paste job – we were always going to hear screeching about religious freedom and how this poor person is being oppressed. Even the specifics of the punishment are largely unimportant – whether it was jail time or fines or an order to comply with nondiscrimination laws, the reaction was always going to be the same.  Even the comparisons to Rosa Parks were inevitable as the religious right tries to coopt the luster of the Civil Rights movement.

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis helpfully stepped into the fray. Her refusal to issue any and all marriage licenses, especially to same-sex couples, put her in the middle of the fight the religious right has wanted for the longest time. Read the rest of this entry »


Conservatives Anti-Abortion Obsession Will Cause More Abortions, More STDs and More Misery

but then we all already knew that, right?

Nicholas Kristof’s column this morning makes several shrewd observations:

TO appreciate the dumbing down of American politics, consider this: Conservative Republicans, indignant about abortion, are trying to destroy a government program that helps prevent 345,000 abortions a year.


In other words, Title X prevents an abortion about once every 90 seconds.


Family planning investments also offer hedge fund-like returns, for a condom or IUD can avert more than $12,000 in average Medicaid spending on a childbirth. Guttmacher calculates that every $1 invested in public family planning services saves $7 in public expenditures. This is a program that saves money as well as lives.

The paradox of conservative Republicans falling all over themselves to condemn Planned Parenthood for a practice that many Republicans voted to authorize while also threatening to defund and destroy a program that prevents hundreds of thousands of abortions perfectly exemplifies the self-defeating nature of conservative policy.

Mark Summer at Kos sums up the conservative obsession perfectly:

For them, abortion has never been an issue. It’s AN ISSUE. It’s not about babies, after all, it’s about (sotto voce) S-E-X. Any program that helps women with… women things, is something, something, somehow a Very Serious Threat that women should fail in their defined role as the guardians of virtue. After all, how many little girls out there are thinking right now “well, I would be a total sex-crazed slut if only there was someone standing by with federal funds to help me not catch chlamydia.” Se… (ahem) S-E-X should be scary. And is something that should be reserved to old male Congressmen who have the money to pay for it.

It seems to me there’s a deeper force at work.  In Republican Gomorrah, Max Blumenthal described it as the culture of personal crisis. It should not be lost on us that conservative states have higher rates of unintended pregnancy and teen pregnancy than do progressive states, it should not be lost on us that divorce rates are higher in conservative religious Alabama than they are in liberal Massachusetts. Texas’ conservative, overtly religious political culture produces policies which reliably produce higher rates of teen pregnancy, unintended pregnancy and divorce which creates the feedback loops that drives Texas’ conservative, overtly religious political culture. Opposition to abortion, and more broadly any honesty about sexuality, is not driven by rational concerns and doesn’t connect to rational policies.  When faced with an angry constituency wanting to know why they haven’t done anything about Roe v. Wade, conservative Republicans have no rational policy response so they’ve lashed out at a government policy that is about sex and therefore must somehow alleviate the anger. Then, when the policy response fails, conservatives will, no doubt, decry the culture of personal crisis their policies have created and deepened.  It’s a great racket.


Mythical Religious Persecution Narrative and a New Jim Crow

Earlier this week, a story spread like wildfire about two pastors threatened with jail time and massive fines for not performing gay weddings. Attorneys from the right wing ADF (Alliance Defending Freedom) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the pastors. The story was breathless, controversial and inaccurate.

The pastors in question run a for profit business that as recently as two weeks ago was very clear that they offered both religious and civil ceremonies. They run a marriage mill, performing something like 1400 weddings per year. Oh, and the big error? The city of Coeur d’Alene had not threatened them with fines or jail time, there have been no complaints filed against them. The couple in question asked the city attorney what would happen if they failed to comply with the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance and refused to marry a same-sex couple; the city attorney spelled out the possible legal consequences. End of story. Not really. I’ll let Jeremy Hooper explain:

When I first learned about the story of Idaho’s Hitching Post, which was suddenly the far-right’s latest marriage “victim” for supposedly being threatened by the city of Coeur d’Alene for not marrying a same-sex couple, I thought the whole thing was too coincidental to be true. I didn’t focus on it in my last post on the subject since I had the much more newsworthy discovery that the business had changed its website so that they could seem much more faith-driven than they had been operating in the past. But a part of me was wondering how the same business that went to the press back in May with its preemptive marriage fears, well before Idaho had marriage equality, could now be in the spotlight in such a major way. it just seemed too perfectly orchestrated.

To wit (Gridley is the city attorney):

“Their lawsuit was something of a surprise because we have had cordial conversations with them in the past and they have never disclosed that they have recently become a religious corporation,” Gridley wrote.

Gridley wrote that the city will not prosecute legitimate nonprofit religious corporations, associations, educational institutions, or societies or other exempt organizations or anyone else as a result of their lawful exercise of their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and religion.

In addition to exempting those groups, Gridley wrote that the anti-discrimination ordinance states that it “shall be construed and applied in a manner consistent with First Amendment jurisprudence regarding the freedom of speech and exercise of religion.”

When contacted by The Press for comment, Don Knapp said the Hitching Post is not operating as a not-for-profit religious corporation. He also said he does not know ADF Attorney David Cortman.

Let’s be clear – almost everything you’ve heard about the case is wrong. No complaint has been filed against The Hitching Post. If they are a legitimate religious organization, they are exempt from the city’s ordinance. (It’s worth noting that they have been an ordinary, for profit business up to this point and have a history of performing both religious and civil ceremonies; they have not been, up to this point, a church or religious organization.)

The facts haven’t stopped hosts of religious people sanctimoniously declaring that “no one should be forced to do something that violates their conscience” and “no one should be forced to participate in a same sex wedding.” Utah legislators have obviously seen the story and are alreayd discussing a bill that would allow people to declare they have a religious objection and exempt themselves from participating in same-sex weddings (if history is any guide, the bill will pass, but will be so overly broad it will fail constitutional muster and be struck down, leading to all sorts of public hysterics over activists judges and repeated sharing of bathetic overhyped tales of bakers and florists and photographers and poor picked on pastors). It’s clear that a great many religious persons oppose same-sex marriage, and believe their opposition is entirely based on theological reasons and fear that at some point, some legal change will force them to “accept” same-sex marriage.

I don’t want to minimize the difficulty marriage equality presents for many religious persons. People do not lightly give up tradition or traditional teachings about sexuality and relationships.

Until very recently, most people casually accepted the idea that something was “wrong” with gay and lesbian persons. The idea that sexual minority persons are not inherently sick, immoral or incapable of forming long-lasting, stable relationships is relatively new in our society. The idea of same-sex marriage is also relatively new (although the Boston Marriage is a fascinating bit of history). Many socially and religiously conservative persons continue to embrace the belief that gay persons can become straight through therapy and prayer, that being gay is a choice and a bad one.

For some persons, the idea of a same sex couple marrying seems absurd at best. These individuals define marriage as a man and a woman and exclude anything else (one suspects Utah State Rep. Kraig Powell is such a person). It’s not uncommon in discussions to hear someone declare that marriage is between a man and a woman and anything is fake and the law can’t make “real” what isn’t real. The “love the sinner hate the sin” motto employed by religious persons reveals more than most people think – for many religious persons, gay people are less than straight people and same-sex couples are less than heterosexual couples.

With the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the various cases coming to them, the number of states in which same sex marriage is legal increased dramatically in one week (at JoeMyGod, Joe observed that there had been 9 separate marriage equality maps in the week of October 6).

Religious conservatives have very visibly and vocally expressed their dismay. We’ve heard all the usual buzzwords about out of control judges, judicial activism, and the usual predictions of coming tyranny. Religious conservatives are asking “What next?” with a combination of weariness and trepidation.

There is a challenge for religious conservatives. They’re being asked to acknowledge and live with the reality that same sex marriage is legal and to recognize that means some changes on how they conduct their business. I am certain there will be some lawsuits when religious business owners try to refuse family insurance coverage to same-sex spouses. We will, no doubt, hear paeans to the free market and dreamy invocations that gays can just go elsewhere for jobs and services. Thus far, the courts have not be amenable to such arguments. From a legal standpoint, a marriage is a marriage. Treating married couples differently will not be acceptable.

Religious conservatives are also going to have to face activism within their churches. Although legally there’s no reason to fear that churches will be forced to recognize same-sex marriage, gay persons can be incredibly effective activists. Churches will feel pressure to perform marriages for same-sex couples.

The Hobby Lobby case was probably the most high profile but it is one of many in which the religious right is trying to carve out a separate public and legal sphere for itself in which the devout serve solely the devout and can refuse to serve the sinful masses – a modern Jim Crow – using religious freedom as the rationale. I get this – I’ve read Martha Nussbaum’s Hiding from Humanity: Disgust Shame and the Law – it’s about fear of moral contagion. Although it’s emotional appeal is undeniable, I think it will ultimately fail of its own weight.

This afternoon, I read that The Hitching Post has re-incorporated itself as a religious corporation. The ACLU and the city of Coeur d’Alene agree that in keeping with their newly filed corporate status, The Hitching Post is a “religious corporation” and exempt from the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. IOW, the whole brouhaha has basically evaporated.

The public spaces from which religious conservatives can exclude gay people are going to become increasingly constrained. The option of declaring one’s self a religious corporation isn’t going to be available to a great many religious conservatives. If, however, claims of religious freedom and religious conscience become publicly linked with discrimination – against women, gays and lesbians, “immoral people” – then very quickly the mythical “war on Christianity” will become a very real public disgust for anyone claiming to be Christian and for Christianity itself.


The Bacon-Christian Connection . . .

The blogosphere has been chuckling – okay laughing uproariously – at Bryan Fischer, spokesperson for the American Family Association. Fischer, you see, recently declared “proof” that America is a Christian nation because . . . bacon.

“You want one single item of proof that America is a Christian nation and not a Jewish nation and not an Islamic nation?” he asked. “One single bit of proof is all you need: we freely allow restaurants and grocery stores to sell and to serve bacon. That can only happen in a Christian country.” “So the sheer fact that we freely allow the sale and consumption of bacon,” he continued, “is absolute proof that we are, in fact, a Christian nation”

The part that fascinates me is that Fischer offered this bon mot as if it were an actual argument. I can’t help but wonder – are there conservative Christians out there for whom this argument is persuasive?

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Fox’s Manufactured Benghazi Scandal by the Numbers

Ed Kilgore at Washington Monthly highlighted a report from Media Matters, detailing the depth and breadth of the right’s bizarre Benghazi! obsession. Ed noted:

Short of gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Watergate hearings, I’m not sure we’ve seen anything quite like it in modern electronic media. And we wonder why in the strange alternative universe of the conservative movement, jabbering about Benghazi! is like discussing the weather.

From the Media Matters report:

Media Matters reviewed Fox News transcripts and identified segments including significant discussion of Benghazi on The Five, Special Report with Bret Baier, The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity, and On the Record with Greta Van Susteren between September 11, 2012, the night of the attacks, and May 2, 2014, when House Speaker John Boehner announced the formation of a select committee to investigate the attacks and their aftermath. This report does not include The Kelly File or Fox Report because they did not run for the full period of the study.

Key Findings
?1,098 total Fox News evening segments that included significant discussion of Benghazi — an average of about 13 segments per week
?In 18 of 20 months studied, Fox ran at least 20 Benghazi segments per month, with a high of 174 in October 2012
?382 segments aired on Special Report, the network’s flagship news program
?478 segments invoked the talking points used for Susan Rice’s 2012 Sunday show appearances
?281 segments alleging a “cover-up” by the Obama administration
?144 interviews of GOP members of Congress versus only five interviews of Democratic members of Congress and Obama administration officials
?120 comparisons to Iran-Contra, Watergate, and the actions of the Nixon administration
?105 attempts to link Benghazi to Hillary Clinton’s potential presidential ambitions
?100 segments promoting the lie that the administration issued a “stand-down order”

Media Matters points out that Fox’s talking points have been repeatedly refuted by actual facts but that hasn’t stopped the sludge from flowing. The right’s obsession with Benghazi is a perfect example of the mighty wurlitzer at work. It’s depressing – people on the right have an almost religious belief that Benghanzi! was some sort of scandal and that if they just keep digging the nefarious, black-hearted truth will emerge.


House Intelligence Committee Finds No Wrongdoing by the Administration in Benghazi

Conservatives have now spent 2 years shrieking hysterically about BENGHAZI, convinced of some sort of malfeasance or deliberate wrongdoing by the Obama Administration. According to the Republican led House Intelligence Committee, not so much.

Among the key findings:

— Intelligence agencies were “warned about an increased threat environment, but did not have specific tactical warning of an attack before it happened.”

— “A mixed group of individuals, including those associated with al Qaeda, (Moammar) Khadafy loyalists and other Libyan militias, participated in the attack.”

— “There was no ‘stand-down order’ given to American personnel attempting to offer assistance that evening, no illegal activity or illegal arms transfers occurring by U.S. personnel in Benghazi, and no American was left behind.”

— The administration’s process for developing “talking points” was “flawed, but the talking points reflected the conflicting intelligence assessments in the days immediately following the crisis.”

Anyone betting this will mean conservatives will stop hysterically shrieking about Benghazi is taking a sucker’s bet.



The Short Hilarious Saga of ReaganBook

When Sofonda Cox, Dixie Normous, and Johnny Hotballs are some of your sites most prominent users, you’re either a gay porn site or a new conservative social media site known as ReaganBook.

Yes, my friends, anti-gay nutjob Janet Porter was offended by Facebook and the fact that some of its employees walked in a pride parade, so she launched her own, independent social media site and named it ReaganBook. Let’s be clear, the name was not intended ironically.

Porter, for those who don’t know her, is a conservative of the evangelical sub-variety. She was previously known a Janet Folger. She founded and runs Faith2Action from which she endlessly advocates for her “heartbeat bill” which would ban abortion after a heartbeat is detected in the fetus. She’s a young earth creationist and a diehard believer in the myth the Christians are persecuted in the US. IOW, she’s a garden variety wingnut, bigot and loudmouth.

Anyway, so Janet Porter got her ever bunchable panties in a bunch over something Facebook did, she decided to launch a Facebook for patriots. The site launched and had about 30 or so members. Then various websites noticed it – namely Joe My God. Within hours, the number of users swelled into the hundreds, including the previously mentioned Sofonda Cox, Dixie Normous and Johnny Hotballs. ReaganBook was quickly swamped in a flood of porn, pages dedicted to Ronald Reagan’s titties, and generally offensive and surreal content. Users such as Al Zheimers, Ben Ghazi and Parah Salin signed up to participate in the fun and games.

The Dailybeast observed:

ReaganBook shows no discernable signs of longevity. It’s already been forced to temporarily shut down, after many of its thousand-plus members are trolls calling themselves things like “Albradorft Lincler,” “Al Zheimers,” and “Ben Ghazi.” The site runs tremendously slowly, and its attempts to interact with members through a messaging platform have proven fruitless. There’s hardly any involvement in thought-provoking (and clearly troll-created) pages like “Cut Dicks for Christ,” which simply says: “Calling all cut dicks.”

Everytime you start feeling sorry for Porter and her naive, non-ironic ways, remember this:

Is this immature? Oh, you bet your ass it is. It’s also hilarious. As mean as it may seem to just never let the right have anything nice, let’s not forget that their whole schtick in the first place is to deny actual human rights to a good portion of the country, which is a lot meaner–and quite frankly far more petty and immature than making fun of their sad Ronald Reagan Facebook. They are actively horrid to the left, and really, all we have these days is the fact that we’re right and we’re funnier. Which, my god, they really do hate–so it is important that we keep this up.

Porter and her minions (by minions I mean minion and by minion I mean an IT student from a Christian university), tried frantically to salvage the situation. At one point, the site included a message to users:

Everyone note: We’re under attack. All the disturbing posts and new members are coming from another site. This site is another site. We’ll fix it soon. If you see a friend who has posted disturbing images, tehy (sic) have been hacked.

Within 24 hours of going live, Porter and her abused IT student switched the site into offline mode, effectively shutting it down.


What’s the worst that can happen?

This is a question that must have been asked 12 years ago when the US invaded Iraq. Well the initial predictions were positive. The war will be quick, cheap, we will be hailed as liberators, there will be peace, so on and so forth. Of course none of that happened. They were dead wrong, but even me when I witnessed the reports of chaos in Iraq, I could not comprehend that this would happen. What is the worst that can happen? ISIS can happen. The relatively new Islamic terrorist group is different from other organizations because they are successful. They have the oil fields, they are surrounding Baghdad, they have both Iraqi and American weapons in their inventory and they are gaining more ground. This is made worse by their tendency to be very destructive. So far, over 1,700 Iraqi troops have been executed. So yes, that is the worst that can happen and the Bush administration is completely at fault no matter how indirectly this is. Maybe this is a question Obama should consider, especially with an upcoming midterm and a country filled with pissed off liberals.

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Priesthood and Women

Twenty-five years ago I delivered the McDougall Lecture at the Cathedral of the Madeleine. Some modest part of that essay recommended that it is time and beyond time to ordain women to both the Mormon and Catholic traditions and, by implication, all other faiths. A productive firestorm erupted that continues still. How tragic, how brutal, how disconnected to real people with real hearts, real children, dear mates to be so abused as the Mormon church discards with no more than a pious statement, or simply a sniff, their best and brightest.

I’ve said before that Mormon leadership all too often reflects an anti-Darwinism, that is, the survival of the least fit, by cultivating a culture that obeys leadership with no sense of the necessity of checking any act of leadership with one’s own brain, one’s own agency. This tendency,if unchecked, will produce at least two terrible results: poor leadership at the top and right on down the ecclesiastical ladder. Second, leadership will continue to boast of growing membership but it will be looking only at those coming in the church’s front door but not noting those exiting the back door either formally, or just by staying home on Sunday, de facto un-churched.

Mormons need not fear its loving critics. Mormonism, Catholicism, and all faith traditions really should be terrified at the prospect that huge numbers now see churches as irrelevant to their lives. People who engage their leadership quite obviously care very much about their faith, or they would not give such enormous time and energy to help, as they see it,their churches. The really scary elephant in the room is apathy. An even scarier specter is when hundreds of thousands of members, each year, determine that perhaps, just perhaps we really don’t need priests or bishops to mediate between God and all of us. We can, after all, talk directly to God and cut out the middleman and his ten percent finder’s fee. Women should hold any priesthood for which they qualify by abiding neutral rules. And priests and sisters should have the god-given right to choose marriage or celibacy, as they choose, by serious thought and by prayer.There is nothing in holy writ that requires that men mediate God to women.


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