Saturday, June 20, 2009

All in

By Creature

Just as I was surprised Iran's Khamenei drew a line in the sand yesterday, I am equally surprised at Mousavi's own draw-a-line statement today. Even though I don't think this revolution we are watching is about Mousavi anymore (if it ever was), this statement by him will fuel the public's fire further. The bravery and resolve of the Iranian people is impressive and humbling.


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A ratchet up

By Creature

President Obama in response to today's violence in Iran:

The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion.

Martin Luther King once said - "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.

Obama continues to leave himself breathing room. Something he'd be out of if the John McCain and the GOP had their way. After eight years of a shoot-from-the-hip foreign policy without even a passing thought, or care, about the consequences of that policy, this is good. This is what we voted for.

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Where is Obama? (On Iran, the world is watching, and waiting)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Roger Cohen: "City of Whispers."

I have thus far praised Obama's cautious handling of the Iranian election and its aftermath. It is essential, given Iran's deep reservoir of nationalism, and given the regime's history of linking its internal opponents to America, the Great Satan, that the U.S. not interfere, and not be perceived to be interfering, directly.

It is also essential, however, that the U.S. stand firmly with the opposition, with the "liberals" and others who oppose the totalitarian Islamic regime and who wish to reach out to the West, with the courageous men and women who are saying NO to Khamenei and Ahmadinejad and YES to change.

The neocons -- Wolfowitz, Kagan, Krauthammer, et al. -- have it wrong. The situation is more nuanced than they know, or care to admit, and there is only so much that Obama can or ought to do. It is easy to condemn Iran (and Obama) from the comfort of neocon certainty, easy to call for more to be done, for a harder line to be taken. The situation is much more challenging for Obama, who must deal with reality, and who must walk a fine line if he is to show his support for the opposition while not undermining it, not feeding into the regime's oppression, not giving the regime the justification it is looking for to crack down even harder than it has already.

Still, I think Cohen is right: "In this city of whispers," Tehran, "one of the whispers now is: Where is Obama?" And there is more that Obama could do:

The president has been right to tread carefully, given poisonous American-Iranian history, but has erred on the side of caution. He sounds like a man rehearsing prepared lines rather than the leader of the free world. A stronger condemnation of the violence and repression is needed, despite Khamenei's warnings. Obama should also rectify his erroneous equating, from the U.S. national security perspective, of Ahmadinejad and Moussavi.

"The world is watching" Iran, as Obama put it to CBS's Harry Smith (in an interview that showed his formidable grasp of the complexity of the situation). But the world is watching Obama, too... and waiting.

And so are the Iranians, who, taking to the streets and risking their lives for freedom and democracy, need to see that America is with them.

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Remember Burma

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Watch this -- a BBC undercover report. It's important.

Which reminds me that I've been meaning for some time to post this, a wonderful video from Vimeo (the wonderfully artsy alternative to YouTube):

Burma from marusa on Vimeo.

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The women of Iran

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Profiles in courage.

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Michelle Featherstone

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Let's slow it down a bit tonight. Here's the lovely Michelle Featherstone, a really fine (and relatively unknown, undeservedly so) English singer-songwriter (currently residing in L.A.), with "Coffee and Cigarettes" (in studio, from her debut album, Fallen Down) and "Park Bench" (live, from her second album, Blue Bike, which came out in April -- and which I just purchased and am enjoying immensely).


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Friday, June 19, 2009

The Reaction in review (June 19, 2009)

A weeks Reactions that deserve a second look:

Creature Featured: "Reactions re: Iran" -- June 19, June 17, June 15 (1), June 15 (2).

By Capt. Fogg: "The truth is too funny to be told" -- Quoting Fogg regarding another lame DOJ court defense of Bush administration missteps: ". . . our President has been to law school and yet he seems to be comfortable supporting a comical defense raised by the comical Bush administration."

By Jessie Daniels: "The tweet heard 'round Tehran: A new channel of public diplomacy?" -- This guest poster from the Truman Project writes her second great Reaction post that insightfully concludes, ". . . social networking . . . With a significant percentage of the population in Iran younger than 30, this method of connecting the Iranian and American publics could eventually lead to a level of engagement and understanding that is beyond the realm of formal public diplomacy."

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Froomkin out at WaPo" -- Michael, and others of my favorite writers he quotes, react with dismay at the paper's getting rid of one of our best bloggers, Dan Froomkin.

By Mustang Bobby: "Staying the course" -- Bobby takes on Bushie champion-of-interference Paul Wolfowitz' op-ed that urges President Obama to say something about what's going on in Iran.


By J. Thomas Duffy: "Pennies from Loomis!" -- Duffy tells the hilarious -- though discouraging -- story of a Loomis armoured car's loss of $160,000 in cash on the freeway, and "dozens of drivers stopped to compete with Loomis guards in scooping up scads of cash lying on the roadway and in the waist-high grass leading to the service drive."

By Carl: "Whomanity" -- In support of single-payer health coverage, Carl's great essay on the perils of unrestrained capitalism as practiced by childish humans was triggered by "former President Who?'s" recent criticism of President Obama.

By Carol Gee: "The budget and foreign policy, no easy time of it for the White House" -- This post brings the latest in the protracted saga of Congress' passage of President Obama's emergency wartime supplemental appropriations bill for 2009.

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "The 'breathtaking hypocrisy of John Ensign" -- Michael reacts to the news of Senator John Ensign's admission of marital transgression in the light of Ensign's fierce and vocal opposition to previous politicians hit by scandal, pointing out the hypocrisy of Ensign's previous public stances on related issues.


By J. Thomas Duffy: "GREEEEEEEEEEEEN!" -- Duffy rounds up info on the Iranian soccer team's "green" wristband political statement during a recent game outside of the country.

By Carl: "Endgame?" -- Carl begins with a wonderfully written sentence: "Not that there's a formal clock for this sort of events tend to lie in the mud until they explode like an IED... but the sense I get from the news is that we're heading for a big, big conflict," then posts eight scary facts of life in our unsettled world.

By (O)CT(O)PUS: "Revelations: Who are the hate groups and why we should be very afraid" -- Michael, our Editor, introduces this very fine post:
Hate groups are everywhere. There are more of them than we think and they are more powerful than we know. And they don't just dress up in Nazi uniforms or white sheets. Some of them, some of the larger ones, are major players in Washington and around the U.S., and specifically key players in the Republican Party, where they are prominent both in the base and in the leadership. It's essential that we know who they are... and what they're up to. -- MJWS

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Quote of the Day: Joe Klein on John McCain on Iran" -- Michael lauds Klein's noting Senator John McCain's "broad extremist statements," regarding the Iran election situation; Michael concludes: "Obama continues to show he is just what America needs. . . "


By Capt. Fogg: "Training the Nazis" -- Capt. writes a well-done short post quoting Matt Kennard about a little know aspect of the Bush administration's acceptance of Neo-Nazis into the army, "scraping the bottom of the recruitment barrel . . . harming our military and its reputation."

By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Admirable nuance: Obama's measured response to the Iranian election and its aftermath" -- To quote: "The president showed his, and America's, support for the protesters without being overly judgmental -- and thereby without threatening the fragile link that may yet allow him to promote America's interests diplomatically, if not to achieve positive results with respect to Iran's nuclear program and strategic position in the region.


By Michael J.W. Stickings: "How Ahmadinejad is like Bush/Cheney/Rove" -- Quoting Andrew Sullivan, Michael applauds all that the U.S. is doing well during this dicey situation.


By Michael J.W. Stickings: "Joe being Joe: Lieberman says no to 'public option' on health-care reform" -- Michael's post is written from his Canadian point of view and helps to dispel the myths under which non-Democrat, non-debater Lieberman operates.

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By Michael J.W. Stickings

You know things aren't going well for you when...'re less popular than Dick Cheney.

Ladies and gentlemen -- if I may borrow from the Sports Guy -- your 2009 Republican Party!

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The truth is too funny to be told

So, Mr. Corleone, what kind of hat were you wearing the night Mr. Brazzi was shot?

Objection your honor! Answering that question would subject my client to ridicule.

Somehow that was something I would never expect to hear in a courtroom -- until today. To be sure I've never attended law school, and some idiotic defense may have escaped my notice, but our president has been to law school and yet he seems to be comfortable supporting a comical defense raised by the comical Bush administration.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan was apparently as surprised as I was to hear the Obama administration's lawyers insist that former Dick Cheney's statements to a special prosecutor about Valerie Plame need to be kept secret -- are you ready for this? -- because it might make people laugh on The Daily Show.

I don't want a future vice president to say, I'm not going to cooperate with you because I don't want to be fodder for "The Daily Show,"

said Justice Department attorney Jeffrey Smith. His position being that he doesn't want to become a fact-finder for political enemies.

Of course, it's interesting to speculate that the more enemies a politician has made, the more immune he would be to prosecution should this defense become precedent and the less honesty he would owe to his constituents, but I'm so baffled and confused by this position and the Justice Department that is now supporting it that I'll let you speculate upon the future of justice in America. Just don't laugh too hard, you might embarrass a protected personage.

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The tweet heard 'round Tehran: A new channel of public diplomacy?

Guest post by Jessie Daniels

Jessie Daniels recently received a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Prior to that, she worked as a national security staffer in the U.S. Senate. She is a Truman National Security Project fellow.

[This is Jessie's second post at The Reaction. Her first, on Obama's Af/Pak strategy, can be found here. -- MJWS]

As we watch with interest the events unfolding in Iran, one of the major stories dominating the headlines is the Twitter effect. Twitter, and other new media, have given a global voice to the angst over the elections and have made the intensity of those marching in Tehran palpable to those sitting on the couch watching halfway around the world. Most importantly, the social networking phenomenon has undermined the Iranian regime's attempts to isolate its country from the rest of the world and has, perhaps, opened a new chapter of informal public diplomacy efforts.

Despite the regime's efforts to prevent the outside world from witnessing the post-election ramifications, new media sites continue to provide the most up-to-date information on the events in Iran. Moreover, these sites have become forums not only for reporting but also for advocacy. For example, tweeters on Twitter have been urged to turn their avatars green in solidarity with the Iranian protesters.

The increased attention has also highlighted the complications faced by the regime as it tries to effectively counter the public reaction to the election results. The regime's dismissive rhetoric, which often plays well when denouncing the West, has instead stoked the flames of internal dissent. After Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad compared the protests to the "passions after a soccer match," members of the Iranian national soccer team wore green armbands during a World Cup qualifier in protest. Efforts to blame the United States and Israel for improper meddling seem to fall on deaf ears as the protests continue to resonate.

Events in Iran have sparked a debate here at home about what the U.S. should be doing in response. Some assert that the administration should openly and actively encourage the protesters in Iran while others believe that we should stay out of the process. Regardless of where one falls on this spectrum, though, these events already illustrate the power of a new public diplomacy channel present in new media venues.

As opposed to formal public diplomacy measures, such as educational and cultural exchanges, social networking sites like Twitter provide a way to informally connect people. These small-scale efforts could have long-ranging benefits. Right now, the American public is getting a glimpse of the Iranian public and gaining an understanding of what drives them, what they are fighting for, and how they are expressing their dissent. The Iranian protesters are also aware that they have a global audience, including those watching in the United States. Although the Iranian and American publics have been kept apart for three decades, new media may be helping to debunk stereotypes in each country that have been built up since the 1979 revolution.

In this paradigm, government works best when it works to ensure that free and open dialogue continues. Doing so can help to pave the way toward increased support for further engagement at higher levels. There will likely be opportunities for the administration to capitalize on this situation as it pushes forth with direct engagement. Already, however, social networking has gone far beyond allowing high school buddies to keep in touch. With a significant percentage of the population in Iran younger than 30, this method of connecting the Iranian and American publics could eventually lead to a level of engagement and understanding that is beyond the realm of formal public diplomacy.

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First, do no harm

By Creature

Jacob Heilbrunn has an answer to the neo-con's wishful thinking:

The truth is that the impressive thing has been how well Obama has handled the crisis. Again and again, Obama was pounded for his lack of experience during the 2008 election campaign. But imagine if John McCain were president? The mullahs would not be in the predicament they are. Instead, they could point to the demonstrators as American stooges. The uprising would have been quashed before it ever began. Fortunately, Obama's basic approach has been to follow the foreign policy equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath: "First, do no harm." Imagine the obloquy that would greet Obama if he were to champion the demonstrators and help to create a bloodbath, as Radio Free Europe did during the 1956 Hungarian revolution, when it encouraged Hungarians to revolt by assuring them that they had backing of the West, which they didn't. So far, Obama has shrewdly hewed to a middle course that allows him some flexibility in dealing with Iran.

As with most of Obama's critics their criticism does not reflect reality.

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Froomkin out at WaPo

By Michael J.W. Stickings

A surprise move, perhaps, the firing of columnist and blogger Dan Froomkin, one of the few bright lights at The Washington Post, until you remember that the newspaper industry is collapsing all around us and that the Post rarely lives up to its reputation as a journalistic giant of unquestionable integrity and professionalism -- and that it is not liberal but establishmentarian with a conservative bent (just consider its high-profile right-wing line-up: Will, Kristol, Krauthammer, Gerson, Kagan, etc. -- there are a few liberals on board, sure, like Dionne and Robinson, but Froomkin was clearly at odds with the conservative editorial, and op-editorial, dominance).

Here are a few reactions worth checking out:

Steve Benen: "The Politico says the move is 'sure to ignite the left-wing blogosphere,' but Froomkin's departure, if true, should disappoint anyone concerned with insightful political analysis... Froomkin was one of the media's most important critics of the Bush White House, and conservative bashing notwithstanding, was poised to be just as valuable holding the Obama White House accountable for its decisions."

Andrew Sullivan: "A simply astounding move by the paper -- getting rid of the one blogger, Dan Froomkin, who kept it real and kept it interesting. Dan's work on torture may be one reason he is now gone. The way in which the WaPo has been coopted by the neocon right, especially in its editorial pages, is getting more and more disturbing. This purge will prompt a real revolt in the blogosphere. And it should." (See also: "The Torture-Mongers vs Froomkin.")

Glenn Greenwald: "One of the rarest commodities in the establishment media is someone who was a vehement critic of George Bush and who now, applying their principles consistently, has become a regular critic of Barack Obama -- i.e., someone who criticizes Obama from what is perceived as "the Left" rather than for being a Terrorist-Loving Socialist Muslim. It just got a lot rarer, as The Washington Post... just fired columnist, long-time Bush critic and Obama watchdog (i.e., a real journalist) Dan Froomkin."

There's much more reaction, as always, over at Memeorandum.

Froomkin was certainly one of the Post's best columnists, if not the best (I also like Dionne quite a bit, from time to time). It's a shame to see him go. His firing tells us a lot about the Post's politics and priorities -- and about the direction it is headed.

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Staying the course

By Mustang Bobby

Paul Wolfowitz, who was deputy secretary of defense from 2001 to 2005, has an op-ed in the Washington Post wherein he joins the chorus of those trying to push President Obama into saying something about what's going on in Iran:

President Obama's first response to the protests in Iran was silence, followed by a cautious, almost neutral stance designed to avoid "meddling" in Iranian affairs. I am reminded of Ronald Reagan's initially neutral response to the crisis following the Philippine election of 1986, and of George H.W. Bush's initially neutral response to the attempted coup against Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991. Both Reagan and Bush were able to abandon their mistaken neutrality in time to make a difference. It's not too late for Obama to do the same.

The difference, of course, between those situations and this one is that the United States had substantial relationships with both the Philippines and the Soviet Union. We don't even have diplomatic relations with Iran, and that country has used the United States as a scapegoat for all of their problems; I wouldn't put it past them to blame earthquakes on The Great Satan.

The other obvious point is that in both 1986 and 1991, the United States' reputation abroad was considerably more well-respected than it is now. After eight years of faux-butch "bring 'em on" behavior on the part of the Bush administration -- and executed by Mr. Wolfowitz -- the credibility of our good and democratic intentions for other countries is rightly suspect by the rest of the world. And after being labeled as part of the "Axis of Evil," does Mr. Wolfowitz seriously think that the rulers in Iran, whoever they are, are going to either give a rat's ass what we say or not try to turn it to their advantage in their campaign of oppression?

Mr. Wolfowitz would probably do well to listen to Henry Kissinger, who knows a little something about foreign policy, diplomacy, and the consequences of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pennies from Loomis!

By J. Thomas Duffy

Well, actually, a lot more than pennies ...

Try about $160,000!

You gotta love stories like this, and it comes with a h/t to Maria Stuart over at Open Salon:

It’s raining dead presidents in Detroit

It’s been a week since motorists and passersby competed with armored truck crews and police for money that landed like litter along the I-75/Chrysler freeway in Detroit.

It was about 8:30 a.m. on June 11 when a Loomis armored car transporting an unknown amount of cash lost part of its load, reportedly newly printed $20 and $100 bills. No one’s yet sure how it happened. The freeway was closed for about an hour as Loomis crews and police recovered as much of the cash as they could.

But they had competition. According to news reports, dozens of motorists and passersby scrambled along the freeway to grab up as much money as they could.

In the end, there’s $160,000 missing.

The Detroit News called it a "Freeway Lottery," "as dozens of drivers stopped to compete with Loomis guards in scooping up scads of cash lying on the roadway and in the waist-high grass leading to the service drive."

Stuart's post goes on to say that Loomis offered a 10% reward for any money returned, which was accompanied by the club-in-hand threat of prosecution for those that don't.

Yeah, good luck with that one, Loomis.

Especially when you read the ClickonDetroit story:

Police are also looking at surveillance video from cameras mounted along I-75, in hopes of figuring out who took the cash.

"Any monies that are lost are obviously guaranteed by Loomis to the people who own them," said Loomis spokesman Pat Flaharty.

One driver told Local 4 that police were picking up the cash, otherwise she might have tried to pick up some bills.

Take it away, Louie!

Louis Prima - Pennies from the Heaven

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)


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By Carl

It is to laugh:

Former President George W. Bush fired a salvo at President Obama on Wednesday, asserting his administration's interrogation policies were within the law, declaring the private sector not government will fix the economy and rejecting the nationalization of health care. "I know it's going to be the private sector that leads this country out of the current economic times we're in," the former president said to applause from members of a local business group.

"You can spend
your money better than the government can spend your money." Repeatedly in his hour-long speech and question-and-answer session, Mr. Bush said he would not directly criticize the new president, who has moved to take over financial institutions and several large corporations. Several times, however, he took direct aim at Obama policies as he defended his own during eight years in office. - Washington Times [ed. note: I purposely pulled this from a right-wing website that filtered the Times' story, so you could see that I'm not far off base, even if I come to different conclusions.]

A couple of points before I dive headlong into the fray here:

-- It was private enterprise that got us into the mess, and (bear with me for a moment here) you take the toys out of the child's hand after he's broken it.

-- Former President Who now?

-- Under the Bush administration, we went from a half-trillion dollar budget surplus to a half-trillion budget deficit (before TARP and ignoring the costs of two wars) in 2008. Bush added $5 trillion dollars to our national debt.

But I digress. Let me get to the main course.

The free markets are powerful engines that take an unlikely concept, the greatest social good can come from the self-interest of enlightened individuals, and puts it into action.

For the most part, it does a pretty good job of this. For instance, no one can argue that deregulating the airline industry kept the price of flying from coming down, although the ancillary problems cannot be ignored: more late flights, unsafer planes, all due to staffing cuts to maximize profits, as just one set of examples.

Here's the thing about free markets and what even Adam Smith, the founder of laissez-faire capitalism, warned against.

People are children, essentially. See, the key concept of capitalism is that whole "enlightened self-interest" thing, emphasis on the enlightened bit. The key to efficient markets is all information is readily available to anyone and everyone. This is the enlightenment. When you shop for a new car, generally you go out and compare different models and scout out for the best information on each, compare prices and make your decision based on that. You want the best value for your hard-earned money.

In many cases, particularly as the stakes get higher, the self-interest part kicks in. People get greedy. Knowing that full disclosure will provide for rational decision-making, manufacturers and vendors will withhold information. Whle this creates a temporary (sometimes long-term) profit ubermaximization for the seller, it is unhealthy and inefficient for the market in general.

We've seen this time and time again within the last year: banks in particular got greedy. The subprime mortgage crisis, for all the conservatives want to point fingers at the poor and at Democrats for forcing mortgages on people who didn't need them, created a monster profit for companies like Countrywide and Ditech. You can't blame that on the poor or the Democrats.

By dicing interest rates as teasers, and making current money on fees and mortgage churnings and repackagings into instruments that shed their risk without creating wealth, banks neglected to think through to an obvious conclusion: when those mortgages reset, the economy, particularly wage growth, had better have kept pace.

Under the Bush administration... well, let's just say that if you made $40,000 in 2000, it took until 2005 before you actually saw an increase in real income. If you made $400,000 in 2000, you went swimmingly along. If you made $400,000, you didn't have to worry about a subprime mortgage, though.

So when the mortgage resets occured, people simply hadn't been able to keep their incomes apace, and they got hammered.

Justin Fox of Time magazine has an intriguing article about how greed and free markets have worked during the last 100 years. Entitled "
The Myth Of The Rational Market," Fox points out that trouble occurs in the economy when people forget the lessons of the Great Depression: economics is not rational because it is based on human beings, and human beings are not rational all the time. In other words, prices (particularly of stocks), which nominally should reflect all available information and be "reasonable reflections of economic reality," don't and aren't.

Thus the concept of "irrational exuberance," credited to Alan Greenspan but in truth coined by economist Robert Shiller years earlier, is born.

This is, in part, one reason why I firmly support single-payer health coverage. 75% of the monies spent on health care in this country are post facto to cover preventible chronic conditions: diabetes, obesity, diseases from smoking, high blood pressure, heart disease, hypertension.

Why? Two factors: one, the free market system of health care is more interested in focusing on profit than on the health of the patient and thus ignores the dictum, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Health care in this country is now about disease care. Two, also related to free markets, as insurance premiums rise and companies are forced to shop around for lower prices, the insured (e.g., employees) are put into a situation where they may have a good doctor, but are forced to give him or her up because that doctor is not listed on the insurance plan. A long-term relationship with a doctor, one who knows you literally inside and out, can create a sense of rapport and a sense of, for want of a better term, ownership on the part of the patient of his own body.

Rather than be viewed as a profit center, the patient is humanized when he can see the same doctor, year in and year out. So the five minutes or so the doctor spends talking about dieting can morph into fifteen minutes or so trying to get to the underlying cause of why the person is overeating (with an appropriate referral to a diet clinic or a psychologist, if needed). Yes. Imagine. A doctor who can actually see you for fifteen minutes on top of an examination and writing out prescriptions! If he's not worried about churning his portfolio to see the most patients he can because he's already assured of a salary, a large, comfortable salary like the doctors in England, he's not going to mutter a few sentences and shove you out the door.

Ironically, conservatives mouth off about "the government choosing your doctor," and the "depersonalization into an ID number of the patient" when they whine about "socialized medicine," ignoring these very basic tenets of healthcare.

The point of this column is to keep all this in mind as you listen to the debate over healthcare, banking reform, and any number of the programs that Obama and the Democrats are going to push thru Congress.

When children break their toys, those toys need to be taken away from them.

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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Man was made for the law

By Capt. Fogg

UPDATE (6/20): The NYT editorialized about this on Thursday -- "In an appalling 5-to-4 ruling on Thursday, the Supreme Court's conservative majority tossed aside compelling due process claims, the demands of justice and a considered decision by a lower federal appeals court to deny the right of prisoners to obtain post-conviction DNA testing that might prove their innocence."

Appalling indeed. One wonders why the SCOTUS -- or, rather, the conservatives on the SCOTUS -- hate innocent people so much.



Is anyone still so idealistic as to think that our justice system is about justice and not about upholding the authority of... well, authority? Well, maybe the latest ruling from the Old Bastard's Club we sometimes call the Supreme Court and the Republicans sometimes accuse of giving a damn will change your mind. In a ruling today one might have expected from a Texas court or perhaps the Spanish Inquisition, it ruled that once you're convicted, you have no right to obtain evidence that might exonerate you -- at least in Alaska, one of the six states in which innocence is no defense once the infallible courts have ruled.

Science alone cannot prove a prisoner innocent,

read the decision, and of course not, but it can prove him not guilty and it often has done just that. But I guess this is a good way to keep from the inevitable embarrassment of killing a few innocent people now and then.

So isn't it nice that at least one branch of government retains its contempt for the value of human life once it's had the chance to be baptized?

(Cross-posted from
Human Voices.)

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The budget and foreign policy, no easy time of it for the White House

By Carol Gee

Update: The supplemental bill is now in the Senate. Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) made a point of order regarding the addition of the $1 billion+ for the "cash for clunkers" program. He lost that vote 60 to 36, by exactly the 2/3 majority required. There are times when 60 votes do matter.

The House approved the 2009 $105.9 billion supplemental war spending bill on Tuesday evening, but not with a big Democratic majority, Politico reports. The result was 226-202. Only 5 Republicans voted for it and 32 Democrats voted to oppose. House Minority Leader John Boehner claims that his "no" vote "protects the troops." The bill included $5 billion in IMF credits, $32.5 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, $7.65 billion to prepare for the H1N1 flu expected this winter and $1 billion towards the new "cash for clunkers" program. Congress actually added to the President's original request, taking care of their local defense contractors. To quote Politico's conclusion:

The total defense spending is larger than Obama’s request and includes about $2.5 billion in new money to deal with personnel cost overruns in, especially, the Army and Army National Guard. Nearly $28.5 billion is provided for procurement, including billions added for the purchase of air transports and armored vehicles.

Eight Boeing C-17s would cost about $2.1 billion, and an additional $504 million would cover seven C-130s, manufactured by Lockheed. General Dynamics has a stake in $312.7 million for the purchase of Stryker armored vehicles for the Army — a $200 million increase over the administration’s request. And the bill adds $1.9 billion to the Pentagon’s requests for more heavily armored, mine-resistant MRAPs.

Total spending for State Department and foreign aid accounts is $9.7 billion; another $700 million is provided for food assistance overseas. Afghanistan and Pakistan are among the major recipients, including $225 million to help the Islamabad government deal with the refugee crisis triggered by recent fighting.

To an unusual degree, even routine foreign aid requests for Middle East countries such as Israel, Egypt and Jordan have been added to the mix. This is all part of a Democratic strategy to shift close to $2.5 billion from 2010 into 2009 and thereby leave more room under next year’s spending caps.

A wartime spending bill passed the House in mid-May but leadership lost 51 Democrats in the process. Anti-war House members opposed the President's new commitments in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This time Politico opines that "flu funds have been the cure for the war bill." In addition CQ Politics reported that "the White House cut a deal with Texas Democrats" who were holding back their votes in a dispute over the way that funds in the economic stimulus package are not being spent on public schools in the state. CQ explained that "the White House promised to use a future appropriations bill as a vehicle for language to block Texas from shifting the funds" to its "rainy day" general purpose fund.

Today in the U.S. House, ProPublica reports that there will be a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on civilian contract workers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. ProPublica is a nonprofit investigative journalism organization, who helped ABC News and the LA Times find out that AIG and others routinely denied claims by these injured civilians for medical care and disability benefits, under federal Workers Compensation. The Labor Department is supposed to oversee the program.

The 2009 Supplemental spending bill has been the most contentious issue between Congress and the President this year. Opposition by anti war liberals to the escalation of the war in Afghanistan has been steady and ever-present. Fiscally conservative Democrats are resistant to spending in somewhat the same way as Republicans, although they are certainly not as vocal. And Republicans seem to be dedicated to holding up their reputation as the "party of no," uncharacteristically in the national defense arena.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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What happens when the neocons meet the theocons?

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Well, they made peace in the Republican Party, putting aside their differences for the sake of electoral success, the neocons and the theocons and the paleocons and the neo-libs, and that worked fairly well for them, largely because, for a long time, the desire to win overcame the obvious differences, and because the neocons, led by Krazy Bill Kristol, and the business-oriented, anti-tax-crazed neo-libs put up with the moralism and nativism of the theocons and paleocons in a quid pro quo to get what they wanted on foreign and economic policy, but it's nonetheless rather interesting that The Weekly Standard, neocon HQ, is moving from Rupert Murdoch, a neo-lib, more or less, to Clarity Media Group, a Christianist theocon media organization owned by Philip Anschutz, the right-wing billionaire and media/sports mogul, the conservative behind the various Examiner tabloids, parts of the Clarity empire.

And so, what now?

Kristol long ago put personal profit and prominence, as well as Republican partisanship, ahead of principle, not just agreeing to but actively promoting the uneasy alliance between and among the right's disparate factions. That isn't about to change, even if the new owner of TWS is an American theocon as opposed to an Australian neo-lib. Krisol will still play the Christianist in public, even as a Jew, and will continue to lobby for his warmongering foreign policy priorities even as he grits his teeth, if he grits at all these days, and puts himself, his magazine, and neoconservatism generally in the service, where necessary, of theocon, and, less so, paleocon, policy, all for the greater glorification of the Republican Party.

Who knows what Kristol actually thinks when he's being honest with himself, if he ever is, or if he ever can, but, with his move from Murdoch to Anschutz, we can expect more of the same incoherent blend of policy positions that has come to characterize not just neoconservatism but American conservatism more broadly.

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Craziest Conservative of the Day: Robert Kagan (for smearing Obama over Iran)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Kagan's column yeterday in the WaPo, in which he argued (to the extent that he really argued anything -- he was just spouting stupidity) that Obama sides with the Khamenei-Ahmadinejad regime and actually wants the "Green" opposition to lose (all for the sake of his strategic realism), was appallingly bad even by Kagan's own appallingly low standards (even if reads as par-for-the-course from Obama's neocon critics).

If you missed it, make sure to check out Mustang Bobby's response to Kagan here. Like me, Bobby thinks that Obama is pursuing the right course of response/action to the Iranian election and its aftermath, and that he is right not to rise to the neocon bait.

And see also Jonathan Chait's fine takedown of Kagan over at The Plank. To put it mildly, Kagan's column was "fairly embarrassing." Kagan claims that Obama is "objectively" on the side of the Iranian government, as well as on the side of "normalcy" (i.e., the existing regime), but "[i]t's a highly subjective proposition, one that Kagan" -- surprise, surprise -- "does absolutely nothing to defend."

Robert Kagan, neocon... full of shit? Huh.

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By Creature

That's the percentage of people who believe it's "extremely" or "quite" important to "give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance." Democrats, what is your problem? And fear of the GOP is not an answer (though it's the truth).

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Craziest Republican of the Day: Michele Bachmann

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Just in case you weren't quite certain, let me assure you that Rep. Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota Republican who is refusing to fill out the Census form (and breaking the law), lest ACORN get hold of her personal info and destroy her political career, is insane, not least in a deeply paranoid sort of way. It's not just her opposition to the Census, although she should probably obey the law, it's that she actually seems to believe her own fearmongering propaganda. (ACORN is not a threat to freedom and democracy, the ongoing right-wing smear campaign aside, and the Census is not a reflection of encroaching state control.)

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The "breathtaking hypocrisy" of John Ensign

By Michael J.W. Stickings

What can one say about adulterer John Ensign, Republican senator from Nevada? Like my friend Steve Benen, and so many other liberal-minded adults, I really don't care what Ensign does with his personal life, as long as it doesn't involve animals or children -- or, rather, I do care, insofar as people may have been hurt by his actions, but whatever he did really isn't my, or our, business. He did what he did, and now it's between him and his wife, and him and his conscience, and among those were involved, and those who are close to him, like his family.

But, oh, the "breathtaking hypocrisy," as Steve puts it:

Of far greater interest is Ensign's hypocrisy. When Bill Clinton's adultery came to public light, Ensign not only voted to remove the president from office, but insisted the president should resign as a result of the personal scandal. When former Sen. Larry Craig was caught up in a sex scandal, Ensign not only called for Craig's ouster, but led the charge against him.

Ensign has also been a
fierce opponent of marriage equality, and supported a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. In 2004, the Nevada Republican lectured his colleagues, "Marriage is the cornerstone on which our society was founded. For those who say that the Constitution is so sacred that we cannot or should not adopt the Federal Marriage Amendment, I would simply point out that marriage, and the sanctity of that institution, predates the American Constitution and the founding of our nation."

And did I mention that Ensign is a longtime member of the Promise Keepers, a conservative evangelical group that promotes strong families and marriages?

Few really care about Ensign's private life. The story is relevant only insofar as the Republican lawmaker has spent much of his career touting "families values" and using his office to promote his version of sexual morality -- with standards he doesn't apply to himself.

Oh, yes, what a grotesque hypocrite. (Like pretty much ever other conservative moralist who transgresses, and there are so many of them, he'll apologize, seek forgiveness, be forgiven, and perhaps even blame liberals.) And, really, isn't that just the Republican way?

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009


By J. Thomas Duffy

I am a sucker for this kind of thing (like the girls' softball game last year, where the opposing team carried the girl who got the winning hit, but was injured, and unless she crossed the plate -- no substitution allowed -- her team would lose).

And, yes, the title is a riff on those Spanish soccer announcers gooooaaaallll calls.

H/T to Andrew Sullivan for being on the case of the Iranian soccer team members wearing green in support of the protesters back home.

Sullivan wrote:

Playing a critical game right now -- and look at their wrists. They took the bands off in the second half. God knows what they were told in the half-time. But for those who still don't believe this is a genuinely national movement, open your eyes.

From CNN:

Iran's soccer team wears symbolic green bands

Members of Iran's national soccer team wore green arm and wrist bands Wednesday during their World Cup qualifying match against South Korea.

The team does not normally wear green bands

As to the green wrist bands, from Think Progress:

After half-time, only one player kept his green wristband on. Iranian bloggers speculated that “Ali Abadi, chairman of the Iranian Football Federation (FFI), who is close to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had telephoned Seoul during half time and instructed the players to remove the green wristbands immediately.”

From the rooftops ... Allah Akbar!


Bonus Iran Riffs

Somebody Check Jim Baker's Passport!

How High The Moon

"It's Now All of Iran!"

Bonus Bonus

Ray Charles - Bein' Green - CD Quality Audio

(Cross-posted at The Garlic.)

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By Carl

Not that there's a formal clock for this sort of events tend to lie in the mud until they explode like an IED... but the sense I get from the news is that we're heading for a big, big conflict.

1) Iran protests: Regime cracks down on opposition as further unrest looms -- In itself, this would not be troubling me, beyond my concern about Iran in general, both as a harbor for terrorism as well as a genuine hope for democracy at some point. Iranians are highly intelligent and educated people. But add to this...

2) Carter challenges Gaza blockade as he meets Hamas leaders -- ...and you have the makings of a regional crisis. See, Bibi Netanyahu, the troubled and troubling Israeli prime minister, is on a two-pronged dilemma. On the one hand, he has to assure his supporters with respect to the Palestinians. On the other, he has a credible threat to Israel's very existence with Iran's budding nuclear development program.

It is likely that Netanyahu will compromise on the Jewish settlements question at Obama's behest, in exchange for the very real possibilty of an airstrike on Iranian nuclear facilities. Which would then get the attention of...

3) Russia, China urge talks on North Korea -- ...which now brings Putin and Hu into the fray, since both have expressed support in the past for Iran for different reasons, and neither of whom is particularly friendly to either Israel nor its existence. By forcing them to divide their attentions between Iran and North Korea, we have a very real threat from...

4) North Korea threatens merciless attack if it is provoked -- ...which is responding to the Obama statement about their nuclear program being very troubling. Now, North Korea has been sharing technology and resources with...

5) EU to pledge humanitarian aid for Pakistan -- ...which is fighting on three separate fronts, all in or near its borders: the Swat valley, the Indian border and of course, against...

6) Several dead in Pakistan bombing -- ...internal terrorism, the same scourge that killed Benazhir Bhutto. These attacks grow out of the panic and fear of radical Islamists that...

7) Skirmishing ahead of new Pakistan offensive -- ...Pakistan is getting serious about assisting in rooting out the Taliban and short-circuiting their attempts to not only reclaim Afghanistan but to annex the territories of northwest Pakistan, all while...

8) Pakistan sought time to act against militants: India -- ...trying to coax yet another nuclear power, India, into a regional conflict.

Talk about your basic clusterfuck! You have all the elements of a world war right there: radicalism, armaments, regionalism, and three superpowers who seem to be eyeing each other with a mixture of contempt and confusion. And that's before we consider the residual effects of American involvement in Iraq (weakened fighting forces, exhausted materiel, resentment on the part of Iraqis) and the world economic crisis, which is only now filtering down to the very poorest of nations.

And then there's Africa, my pick for the single biggest story this year... hell, even Europe and America are not immune from the vagaries of hate!

All this occurs against the backdrop of the single biggest crisis to confront man in millenia.

And man does not handle crises well.

(Cross-posted to
Simply Left Behind.)

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Sucker punching

By Mustang Bobby

The Republicans are all over President Obama for not speaking out strongly against the alleged vote fraud and repression going on in Iran. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told the Today show that "[h]e should speak out that this is a corrupt, flawed sham of an election and that the Iranian people have been deprived of their rights," and neocon Robert Kagan has an op-ed in The Washington Post that says that Mr. Obama's pragmatic approach to the Iranian election -- let's get it over with and deal with whoever wins -- by default makes him a supporter of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

Obama's policy now requires getting past the election controversies quickly so that he can soon begin negotiations with the reelected Ahmadinejad government. This will be difficult as long as opposition protests continue and the government appears to be either unsettled or too brutal to do business with. What Obama needs is a rapid return to peace and quiet in Iran, not continued ferment. His goal must be to deflate the opposition, not to encourage it. And that, by and large, is what he has been doing.

The point of this sideline chiding is, of course, to provoke the president into doing something; either speaking out forcefully or endorsing strong sanctions against Iran. The neocons think that would be just dandy, and the Republicans, hiding behind their faux patriotism, want it because they think that if President Obama provokes Iran, it will blow up in his face, thereby proving that he's incapable of dealing with foreign policy and handing them a campaign issue with candy and a stripper. So for them it's a win-win: they get their war with another bunch of evil-doers and they take the president down a few pegs. They get to go on Morning Joe and Fox News and call him weak and unwilling to support "freedom fighters" in Iran. It's the equivalent of "Hey, your shoe's untied!" What's not to like?

The president is wisely not rising to the bait. He and anyone with a passing knowledge of how foreign relations really work know that anything the United States does other than what we're doing right now will only prove to the hard-liners in Tehran, not to mention other countries that still don't trust us, that we're taking it upon ourselves to butt into their internal problems for our own benefit. We've got a long history of showing that doesn't work; the list of countries where our overt and covert meddling blew up on us includes Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Vietnam, the Philippines, and any number of other nations where we thought we knew best is long and blood-stained.

That President Obama is not taking the traditional approach of injecting America into every crisis around the world must be very disconcerting to those who think that is the way of the world, and frustrating to his political opponents who thought they could sucker him into it. Discretion is not only the better part of valor; it drives your enemies crazy.

(Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.)

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The GOP disconnect

By Creature

Whether it be comparisons of their use of Twitter to those coming out of Iran, their constant belligerence and quick trigger fingers, their dismissal of torture, the denial of any health care burden on everyday Americans, their tax-cuts-solve-all answer to the economy the GOP can't seem to grasp that real people, that life and death hang in the balance for those on the other end of their endless denials and provocations. Seriously, to the GOP the world is a video game and the only consequence to their rhetoric and lack of seriousness is a sore thumb at the end of the day.


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Revelations: Who are the hate groups and why we should be very afraid


(Hate groups are everywhere. There are more of them than we think and they are more powerful than we know. And they don't just dress up in Nazi uniforms or white sheets. Some of them, some of the larger ones, are major players in Washington and around the U.S., and specifically key players in the Republican Party, where they are prominent both in the base and in the leadership. It's essential that we know who they are... and what they're up to. -- MJWS)

To more fully grasp the potential for domestic terrorism, I am posting this list of known hate groups, most operating as far-right-wing Christian ministries. If you missed Capt. Fogg's article, "Holocaust," or my post, "When 'pro-life' means pro-death," you might want to read those first.

Here is a very partial list of radical hate groups that support anti-abortion violence, anti-Semitism, homophobia, racism, sexism, white supremacy, and the overthrow of our constitutional form of government:

American Center for Law and Justice. Headed by Marion "Pat" Robertson, this group advocates the assassination of foreign leaders, the subjugation of women, and the oppression of gays.

America's Promise Ministries. An anti-Semitic group that claims white people as the "chosen ones."

Army of God. An underground network of terrorists who believe violence is an acceptable way to end abortion. In 1984, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun received death threats by mail from this group. Several members, Eric Rudolph, James Kopp, and Clayton Waagner, are serving prison sentences for bombing, murder, and anthrax threats, respectively.

Aryan Nations. A group that advocates anti-Semitism and the murder of homosexuals.

Bill Bright, Campus Crusade for Christ. A hate group that seeks to replace the Constitution and establish their own theocracy.

Christian Association of PrimeTimers. This group scams senior citizens out of their retirement money to finance the abolition of the U.S. Constitution and the installation of a theocracy.

Chalcedon Foundation. Seeks to abolish the Constitution and install themselves as leaders of a theocracy.

Christian Coalition of America. Once headed by Ralph Reed, this anti-abortion, pro-school prayer, pro-creationism group seeks the replacement of public schools with fundamentalist Christian schools supported with tax dollars.

Christian Reconstructionism. This hate group seeks the overthrow the U.S. Constitution and the establishment of a theocracy. Advocates the execution of racial minorities and homosexuals.

Citizens for Excellence in Education. Another pro school prayer, pro creationism group that seeks the replacement of public schools with fundamentalist Christian schools paid with tax dollars.

Collegiate Network. An anti sex education group that seeks the replacement of public schools with fundamentalist Christian schools paid with tax dollars.

Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (Ft. Lauderdale FL). Led by D. James Kennedy, this hate group advocates violence towards gays and women and seeks to establish their own brand of theocracy.

Council for Conservative Citizens. Foments racism with a special focus on anti-Semitism.

Council for National Policy. Seeks to abolish the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and impose their own theocracy.

Focus on the Family. One of the most vocal, best-known homophobic groups in America.

Jack Chick Publications. Publishes bizarre comic books that allege a world-wide conspiracy of "Satanists" and "witches" who kidnap, torture, murder, and eat babies.

Jim Wickstrom. The leader of a cult with strong ties to "Posse Comitatus," a group that blames abortions on "Jewish Doctors" who then blast aborted fetuses into outer space [not a joke!].

Ku Klux Klan. This infamous hate group has participated in anti-abortion demonstrations in Melbourne and Pensacola Florida. Perhaps an obvious point: Many terror and intimidation tactics used against abortion clinics have been borrowed from the Klan.

Landmark Legal Foundation. Advocates the replacement of public schools with fundamentalist Christian schools paid with tax dollars.

Lifeline Long Distance. Finances domestic terrorist organizations like Operation Rescue and the so-called Army of God.

Operation Rescue. A domestic terrorist organization linked to the murder of abortion providers. Currently headed by Troy Newman, a front man for Randal Terry, this group preaches hatred and the submission of women to male masters. The cult's leadership advocates the overthrow of the Constitution and the removal of women from the work force.

Parental Freedom in Education. Their goal is to replace public schools with fundamentalist Christian schools financed with tax dollars.

Pete Peters. Claims Jews are conspiring to control the world with the United Nations taking over the United States.

Policy Research Institute. Demands the creation of tax-subsidized religious schools and the replacement of all public schools with fundamentalist Christian schools.

Phineas Priesthood. Advocates the murder of mixed race couples. The "Phineas" title is used by numerous Christian hate groups in the United States.

Promise Keepers. Advocates the violent "taking back" of male dominion over women.

Rodney O. Skurdal. Advocates the removal of women from the workplace.

Stormfront White Nationalists. Last week, this online hate group praised James von Brunn, the gunman who killed a security guard at the Holocaust Museum. The scariest part: Stormfront has a huge following... estimated to be in the millions.

The Army of God. Like Operation Rescue, this is a domestic terrorist group that has claimed responsibility for several abortion clinic bombings, including the infamous double-bombing intended to murder rescue workers aiding victims of the first blast.

The Bradley Foundation. Advocates the replacement of public schools with fundamentalist Christian schools paid with tax dollars.

The Church of Jesus Christ Christian. Similar to Aryan Nations and the Ku Klux Klan, this anti-Semitic group that advocates violence.

The Heritage Foundation. Finances racist research.

The Institute for Historic Review. An anti-Semitic hate group that denies the Holocaust.

The Order. A hate group that focuses on racism and abortion.

The Sword and the Cross. An anti-Semitic hate group that operates worldwide.

Traditional Values Coalition. An anti-homosexual hate group that denies the separation between church and State.

U.S. Tax Payers Party. Supports the domestic terrorist group, Operation Rescue.

Westboro Baptist Church. Headed by Fred Phelps, this group pickets churches, schools, businesses, and military funerals to rail against homosexuality. Unbelievers are labeled as “faggots."

White Aryan Resistance. A hate group led by Tom Metzger, who advocates abortion for non-white mothers and forced birth at gun point for white mothers.

Virginia Trinitarian Pro-Nomian Alliance (VTPA). A hate group seeking to overthrow the Constitution and remove the Bill of Rights to install their own theocracy.

Source: The Skeptic Tank

When I first presented this list at
The Swash Zone, several readers questioned the preponderance of Christian ministries cited above. Why were ministries engaged in so-called "good works" (i.e., James Dobson) included on the same list as rabid homophobes such as Fred Phelps?

As you can see,
this website underwritten by Dobson promotes a clear anti-gay message. His opposition to all gay rights is infamous, and most mental health professionals reject his views on homosexuality (including his views on physical punishment as a means of disciplining children).

Rarely does a blogger receive a comment as dramatic, contextual, and convincing as this:

A few days ago a young man (16) killed himself because he was tired of hiding his gayness. I knew him because he mowed my yard and he mailed me a letter the day he hung himself (…) That young man was a handsome, decent intelligent young man and I will cherish his letter for the rest of my life [see comment @ 5:44 PM, June 12, 2009].

To underscore my point, the suicide rate among gay and lesbian youth is disturbing and heartbreaking: LGBT youth are two to three times more likely to commit suicide compared with other young people. Predisposing risk factors include homophobia within our culture, gender uncertainty with respect to sexual orientation, social ostracism among peers, and parental rejection. Thus, anti-homosexual attitudes of far-right-wing ministries abuse our underage and vulnerable young people struggling with issues of self-identity.

Indeed, there is a regrettable preponderance of Christian ministries cited in this post, but my intent here is not to disparage faith and good works. All too often, religious fervor degenerates into demonization, fear-mongering, scapegoating, and Apocalyptic aggression. Or, as Chip Berlet states in
Toxic to Democracy: Conspiracy Theories, Demonization & Scapegoating:

People who believe conspiracist allegations sometimes act on those irrational beliefs, and this has concrete consequences in the real world. Angry allegations can quickly turn into aggression and violence targeting scapegoated groups (…) Even when conspiracist theories do not center on Jews, homosexuals, people of color, immigrants or other scapegoated groups, they still create an environment where racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, homophobia, and other forms of prejudice, bigotry, and oppression can flourish [p. 47].

If faith and good works mean changing laws to deprive women of private and legitimate health-care rights, returning women to the days of back room abortion butchers, forcing them to bear dead babies against their will, forcing them to forgo life-saving chemotherapy just because they are pregnant, discriminating against our gay brothers and sisters and turning them into second-class citizens, denying any class of citizens equal protection under law, forcing school prayers on people who do not want it, using public tax money to finance private religious education, and demanding the imposition of one religious doctrine over believers and non-believers alike, then those groups on this list BELONG on this list.

(Cross-posted at The Swash Zone.)

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