Monday, October 21, 2013

Legislating Compassion: Why Does The Right Hate It So Much?

In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of. - Confucius

Right Wing Watch:
     "Last month, the Family Research Council’s Kenneth Blackwell hailed House Republicans for passing a massive cut in food aid for low-income families, arguing that there is 'nothing more Christian' than kicking millions off the food stamp program."

A matter of "Dependency"
      Blackwell also suggested that there was "nothing more Christian" than "not locking people into a permanent dependency on government handouts, but making sure they are participants in their own upliftment and empowerment so that they in fact through the dignity of work and can break from the plantation of big government."

Using antebellum messaging has been the strategy of today's Right: people on welfare have been made slaves to government, their dependency locking them into a socialist system that is totally anti-capitalist and therefore un-American. It's the dependency that is destructive. It is the dependency they hate.

Or so they say.

However, whenever you take away something people have gotten dependent upon (or enjoy), you must replace it with something else, or else you invite insurrection, anarchy or ... heresy. Early Christians were wise in replacing pagan holidays with feast days and saint's days: Christmas, for example, replaced winter solstice festivities. So what should the poor become dependent upon?

Keep'em Poor And They'll Come To Jesus has been the strategy for the Right (OK, the Christian Right) for a very long time. Switch the dependency. Simple.
Luke 14:12-14 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Although Tony Perkins' comments might might seem ridiculously hypocritical to "bleeding heart" liberals (the Christian Right crying for a theocracy - through Reconstructionism - for many years), it makes perfect sense to people trying to hang on to their money in a taxless and minimum-government world. “The government has a responsibility to care for the poor? That’s not what Scripture says.” Grover Norquist gets the point, so why not the rest of America?
Luke 11:42 "But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God."
Compassion Costs Money

Boiling down to money may seem too simple an answer for why so many on the Right seem to hate compassion and social justice, but it's unavoidable: Pope Francis I recently hit a nerve with his focus on it (capitalized by his new economical papal style). Money is not for the poor, but for rich people to dole out to the poor subjectively. Money is for large homes and Bentleys (see video) with which to demonstrate God's love. Money is for ministry administrative costs.

Yes, the contorted reasoning for not legislating compassion is based solely on money: the Puritan, bootstraps, God-helps-those-who-help-themselves mentality governs the Right and that form of self-government is driven by money. Everyone knows it, but the reasoning must be cloaked in compassionate terms or else no one buys it.

And certainly the most compassionate term today is "Christian." What Jesus would say to using His name in such a manner, is obvious:

From Andrew Sullivan:
In an interview with the novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson, Robert Long asked her about the too-frequent identification of Christianity with the religious right in America. She doesn’t hold back:
Well, what is a Christian, after all? Can we say that most of us are defined by the belief that Jesus Christ made the most gracious gift of his life and death for our redemption? Then what does he deserve from us? He said we are to love our enemies, to turn the other cheek. Granted, these are difficult teachings. But does our most gracious Lord deserve to have his name associated with concealed weapons and stand-your-ground laws, things that fly in the face of his teaching and example? Does he say anywhere that we exist primarily to drive an economy and flourish in it? He says precisely the opposite. Surely we all know this. I suspect that the association of Christianity with positions that would not survive a glance at the Gospels or the Epistles is opportunistic, and that if the actual Christians raised these questions those whose real commitments are to money and hostility and potential violence would drop the pretense and walk away.
Legislating Compassion

The ever-widening gap between rich and poor in America should be proof that of religious institutions have not been willing fill to the gap. Rep. Paul Ryan once remarked that faith-based charities would pick up the slack left from budget cuts.* That remark must have made those institutions shudder: soup kitchens for the poor are one thing, but expensive programs are quite another matter.

It's their money, after all.

*The comic moment of his remarks came when his tax returns were release, revealing the fact that he gave far less in charitable contributions than the national average. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wacky Is As Wacky Does: Ten Crazy Christofascist Quotes From The Values Voter Summit.

Sen. Ted Cruz Easily Wins Values Voter Summit 2016 Presidential Straw Poll

That headline alone should tell you what last week's Values Voter Summit was like: it was really a Christofascist hate fest that brought about rousing applause from Tea Partiers, FOX News diehards and the American Family Association (a sponsor). It also brought about gaffaws and WTFs from the rest of the country.

By now, everyone on this political planet knows that Cruz was heckled (a lot), showing that there might have been some people in attendance with a modicum of brain cells, but the rest of the three-day show was littered with homophobia, misogyny, silly fits of righteous arrogance, and hyperbole fit for panderers to the Sun King.

The similes and metaphors were ridiculous to the extreme:

Ryan Bomberger: Homophobia Is A Myth, Gays Are Like Kleptomaniacs

“The absurdity of terminology like homophobia; so for the people who cohabitate, if you don’t agree with that behavior are you a cohabiphobic? Or if you disagree with someone who has a habitual stealing problem, are you a kleptophobic? That’s the insanity of this; tolerance demands anything but tolerance, just complete formality to someone’s sense of poll-driven morality.”

So FRC's Peter Sprigg is not homophobic because he wants every homosexual jailed? Bomberger's reasoning is certainly a bit twisted. Ooops, that makes me Brombergerphobic.

Jim Bob Duggar Compares US To Nazi Germany During The Holocaust

Everyone likes a good Holocaust story (except maybe Holocaust deniers), but Jim Bob Duggar* simply inserted a story for no other reason than it had the words "Nazi" and "Holocaust" in it.

In the hutzpa department, pundit Sandy Rios gave us these gems:

Anybody Know an Ex-Gay? They're Fabulous!

Rios has constantly given the number of ex-gays in the thousands. Nobody raised their hand.

The Matthew Shepherd Murder Was A Complete Fraud

This was thrown out to the audience simply because it was the 15th anniversary of Matthew Shepherd's death. She was basing here accusation on a recent book that has been questioned by journalists and family members alike.

Carson: Obamacare 'Is The Worst Thing That Has Happened In This Nation Since Slavery

As a black physician-politician, a FOX News "contributor", Benjamin Carson fits the bill for conservatives who need to seem intelligent and less racist. Unfortunately, Carson's hyperbole is so off base that any credibility seems remote. He also hates the possibility that somebody might be able to afford him.

Parker: Gay People And 'Enemies Of God' Should 'Keep It Private'

The problem with Star Parker: nothing is private. The former addict/prostitute plays her sordid past and conversion like violins - actually more like an entire symphony. Her born-again-ness has been worked to death, but it has not given her the right to tell anyone else to shut up.

Jackson: Next To Jesus, America Has Been 'The Greatest Blessing Given To Mankind'

E.W. Jackson is ratcheting up his campaign for Lieutenant Gov. of Virginia by giving American exceptionalism a boost. Now if he could just get rid of the "EEEW" factor of his other statements about gays and abortion, the man radical Right wingnuts consider "the future of conservatism" he might not be so far behind in the polls.

Santorum: Contraception Mandate Is A 'Descendant Of The French Revolution'

Rick Santorum's rant about how the French Revolution was based on Liberty (Good), Equality (Good) and Fraternity (Bad) and therefore Obamacare is insidiously bringing on another form of French Revolution is almost painful to watch. Your brain battles his phraseology to come up with a kernel of sense and loses.

Lila Rose Likens Her Anti-Abortion Activism To Malala Yousafzai

Did we say Sandy Rios had hutzpah? If she did, then Lila Rose had unmitigated gall - insulting unmitigated gall. Rose links Planned Parenthood to Satan and demonizes pro-choice people everywhere she goes. Yousafzai has a Ghandi-like quality that Rose cannot even begin to touch upon. 

Capping the crazy was, of course, the Queen of Christofascist Crazies, Michele Bachmann. Here is her now famous "Obamacare is Death Care" speech that will go down in the annals of ... whatever. 

*Jim Bob Duggar is the reality TV star of "Nineteen and Counting" wherein he and his wife show people how to properly and righteously overpopulate the earth.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Russians And Cookie Bakers Unite!! Betty Crocker Has Left The Fold And Gone Over To The Dark Side!

In possibly the most serious case of treason in the culture wars, Betty Crocker, that icon of the American family, has become, well, demonspawn. She has, as President Obama would have put it, "evolved."

It started one month ago, when the family-values icon offered free wedding cakes to Minnesota's gay couples:

The Advocate:

When Minnesota's marriage equality law went into effectAugust 1, the Minneapolis-based baking goods supplier Betty Crocker offered free wedding cakes to some of the happy, newly married gay and lesbian couples. A company spokesman said at the time that "Betty celebrates all families. … We don't want to be old-fashioned."

That was enough for noted homophobe Tony Perkins, president of the certified antigay hate group Family Research Council, to give up Betty's delicious confections for good. And now Perkins wants all his fellow conservatives to do the same.

Update: but if that wasn't enough, a Betty Crocker-sponsored video celebrating ALL families surfaced last Friday, and anyone who ever thought BC was the last bastion of matronly America is pissed.

To make matters even worse, the "evolution" takes place after it was discovered that the stalwart National Organization for Marriage (NOM) was influencing (aka "advising") Russian leaders in Russia's new anti-gay laws.

National Organization For Marriage president Brian Brown was heavily involved in France’s anti-gay protests that preceded the successful vote for same-sex marriage. Brown even bragged about it in NOM fundraising emails and on their website. And only after the French marriage bill passed did Brown finally denounce the frequent violence of the protesters he had touted. But while Brown was promoting his mission of hate in Paris, he was hiding another deep, dark voyage: his trip to Russia.

Just days before the Russian parliament passed a bill all but banning Russia’s 600,000 parentless children from being adopted by foreign same-sex couples, Brian Brown advised the Russian Duma (Congress) not only to pass the bill, but to not divorce marriage from the issue of adoption.

And now the Duma is considering legislation removing all children (adopted and biological) from same-sex families.

The Russia-Cookie Baker Connection

Bryan Fischer, the AFA's hater monger extraordinaire, has declared Russia's Vladimir Putin to be the new "Lion of Christianity." primarily because of Russia's stance against gays, especially gay adoption. And as the same-sex marriage debate winds down in the US, the question of same-sex parenting looms larger as the remaining battle against everything/anything gay. The focus has changed. The exported strategies of hate have changed.

But the hate remains the same.

Last weekend's Values Voters Summit reconfirmed the "social conservative" stance of "traditional values" even becoming misogynistic in voice:


But [Ben] Carson unleashed his harshest words on women who have abortions. “There’s no war on women,” Carson said. “There’s a war on their baby.” He explained it this way: “You know, there are those of us in this society who’ve told women that there’s a war on them because that cute little baby inside of them, they may want to get rid of it.” His evidence that there’s no war on women? The fact that people will give up a seat on the bus for a pregnant woman.

The fact that there is still a war on women in terms of unequal pay may be obscured by anti-abortion activists, but it still exists in the hearts of the conservatives like Phyllis Schlafly, the anti-feminist and staunch defender of women back-in-the-home. Today's job market is terrifying to them: in more than 40% of homes with children, working mothers are the breadwinners. The stay-at-home mom so easily represented by Betty Crocker, has become a thing of the past.
Marriage. Family. Betty Crocker. They're changing. The Christian Right doesn't like it.

Better to move on to Russia.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Poor Evangelist. Poor Evangelism.

"Dear Neighbor:My name is May. I am a Bible student engaged in a worldwide volunteer service."

So began the letter to my late partner - misaddressed and two years too late. It was obviously gotten from some old list, but May's handwriting was pristine and the form letter was on not on any logo-headed stationary. It contained a Jehovah's Witness tract.

"God's 'right to rule' must be resolved. After that important issue has been resolved, humans will once again experience worldwide peace and tranquility."

I began to wonder if May experienced any peace or tranquility while sending this piece of evangelism. Of all the Christian sects, Jehovah's Witnesses are the most controlling: the righteous arrogance of the "one truth" forces believers to adhere to a very rigid code of conduct.

I began to feel sorry for May: if she is young, then she is in for years of benign contempt from other Christians if, indeed, they even consider her Christian. Righteous arrogance from within and contempt from without. That does not make for an existence of "peace and tranquility." Another reason for sympathy: May is dealing with the type of evangelism that is no longer effective: direct mailings and door-to-door proselytizing are considered nuisances - intrusions on daily living that involve Facebook, Twitter, YouTube ... and immediacy. If anything, proselytizing is scheduled - through televangelist programs and the local church blog.

And Fundamentalism is on the wane, unless you live in Uganda or Russia. 

"The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it." That promise will be fulfilled.

I don't think so, May. Certainly not the ones who told you to do this kind of evangelizing.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Call For A Violent Christian Uprising: It Had To Come Sooner Or Later

Update: And the video has been yanked from YouTube.

Right Wing Watch:

On yesterday's episode of "Prophetic Perspective on Current Events," Rick Joyner declared that democracy in America has failed and that the nation might not last even to the end of President Obama's term, warning that we are heading for a tyranny from which we can only be saved by a military takeover.
"There's no way our republic can last much longer," Joyner said, adding that "we're headed for serious tyranny" because the electoral system is so broken that the leaders we need who can save this nation will never win office. That is why "our only hope is a military takeover; martial law."

Calling for a takeover of the government can be looked upon as a form of treasonous rebellion, but in Rick Joyner's world, it's acting in the service of God. The correlation to Islamic fundamentalists is, of course, lost to him, but that's another story. The real story here is that Joyner is calling for violence, a justified Christian Jihad against the U.S. government and against its citizenry.

Some religionists claim that Joyner is really just an old fashioned necromancer since he references his talks with the dead. He certainly claims to have visited heaven enough - even to the extent that he had a conversation with the apostle Paul. So be it in the circles of Right Wing Christo-cretins. Cindy Japan-is-shaped-like-dragon Jacobs claims as much. The problem as I see it: Joyner has a wide following among the lunatic fringe who, with Joyner's coaxing, could cause some real bloodshed.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

They Eat Elephants, Don't They? NRA Lobbyist Shoots Old Bull Elephant In The Face While Giving Right Wing Parties A Hole In The Head.

Update: NBC Canceled NRA-sponsored Program

NBC Sports Network was forced to respond to a flurry of criticism this week, after the internet caught wind of a show that depicts safari hunting for big game in Africa.
On Sunday, an episode of the National Rifle Association-sponsored "Under Wild Skies" aired, showing NRA lobbyist and host Tony Makris shooting and killing an elephant, and then celebrating over champagne.
The spectacle sparked vocal backlash, with criticism on social media and a petition at that has since received more than 50,000 signatures.

Machismo suffered a blow last week when a noted NRA gun lobbyist was shown downing an old bull elephant in Botswana, then celebrating with champagne about the glorious feeling it gave him and his guide. And although the event happened last year, NBC's NRA-sponsored program, "Under Wild Skies" managed to air it - before Botswana's new anti-poaching law took effect in 2014.
Of course, Tony Makris had a bit to say after the bruhaha commenced, but it wasn't quite as coherent as the NRA would have wished: calling animal rights activists "animal racists", declaring that elephants were used to "feed hungry people", and sidestepping the issue of elephants as an endangered species, he managed to alarm NBC enough to cancel the program altogether (it previously stated that the lone segment would not be aired again).

Makris also stated that "we [NRA, etc.] are all anti-poaching" and that the "lunatic fringe wants all hunting to end."

"They don't realize that animal-lovers and hunters are on the same team."

To be fair, Makris was a typical NRA gun enthusiast, hawking the merits of the gun he used to shoot the elephant and he tried to mitigate his actions by saying that elephants provide food, but lobbyists like Makris aren't the brightest of gun rights apologists, and the machismo element of the video was all too clear.


From Treehugger

It was a series of bad decisions.
First, someone at NBC Sports thought it was a good idea to partner with the National Rifle Association on a sponsorship for a big game trophy hunting show called Under Wild Skies. Then they decided it'd be good to show Tony Makris, an NRA lobbyist, shoot an elephant in the face three times. And to make it worse, they showed the hunter and guide drink celebratory champagne while talking about the "specialness" of bringing the ivory back to camp.
NBC Sports obviously had a FOX moment in deciding to air "Under Wild Skies" featuring the likes of the NRA's Makris: Asian and African elephant conservation legislation is at an all-time high, no matter how good elephant meat tastes.* The celebration afterwards also smacked of ivory-poaching tolerance.

So much for being "on the same team" with animal lovers.

Politics As Usual?

The Right may have a hard time digesting this one since hardliners like Ted Nugent will be out to defend Makris's actions and they have been trying to soften an image of anti-everything remotely liberal (John Beohner and Paul Ryan excepted). They certainly can't defend shooting even moderately endangered species without looking foolish and can't afford to butt heads with the MSM over the shooting of a mascot of conservatism. Even Teabaggers may shy away from the NRA over the issue (although they haven't shown to be the brightest political bulbs on the planet).

The ravings of Wayne LaPierre have given the Right enough headaches without having lobbyists shooting real holes in their political turn-to-moderate agenda.

*Ironically like moose, so Sarah Palin should be outraged at the cancellation of the show as well. BTW: it's considered an aphrodisiac in Thailand, but non-Thai's have seen no difference in performance.