Saturday, October 07, 2006

A day in the life (Thankful on the road)

A day in the life...

...on the road with Thankful
(puddle said she hoped I'd post about the GRANDE adventure in WV:

Thursday - left NYC with trepidation... first stop this road trip is to drop off the little red fox of a dog in MD where he'll reside til I get settled (will that *ever* come to pass?). The gentleman taking him clearly loves him but I leave with real live tears in my eyes as I walk to the car. Good thing I have had the luck to happen on a day that Rich is available at short notice for dinner and have a pleasant evening ahead.

It started to rain as I left Rich's but we figured the front was moving east and all would be well in WV. I said as long as I didn't encounter fog it was no problem. Bite my tongue! Stopped at the gas station and then the grocery store for a couple basic supplies (apples, cheese, oj) and headed out - encountering fog wisps within 20- minutes.

The fog came and went, got a little heavier as I approached Mt. Shenendoah, and was pea soup at the top of the mountain. Ugh. Drive on. I love the last few miles towards the Magical Fairydiddle House, curves around and around and just one last left turn... into a freaking cable crossing the road down to the house! #$%^&* Oh well, hike on down, turn on the power and go to fire up the computer. Oops, phone cable is down, should have checked for a dialtone first. Withdrawal pains from the internet notwithstanding, I decide it would be best to sleep up the road in the car so when someone comes in the morning they don't have to come find me.

Friday - No one comes in the morning, lol. Feeling right at home and having made acquaintance with a neighbor, I drove over and asked to borrow a handcart with which to move the furniture (not a super long distance from the car to the house, but far enough to not want to have to carry everything.) Mind you, this was a beautiful day in the mountains, and the move was downhill, and I had wheels - enjoyed it all thoroughly. Took my sweet time moving everything, rearranged the car - it wouldn't start. This was the first downer. The fog was a hassle, the car not starting in the middle of god's country w/ no cell reception... bummer.

So... I hiked back to Beth's and her hubby grabbed his coat and took me back to jump the battery - his cables weren't quite long enough to reach but we hooked them to mine and got the Thankfulmobile humming in no time.

Yes, it rained on me all morning and afternoon, but it rained harder when I was done. Loved (almost) every minute of it!


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What is the proper role of government?

More from last night's forum. There were four speakers. I really appreciated hearing Eric Williams, who spoke first, and was one of the main people behind the IRS complaint that was filed against two major churches that were practically endorsing Ken Blackwell. I'm hoping to write up some of what he said next.

There were also two other speakers, both Evangelicals. Everyone was supposed to give a 10 minutes opening statement. Lankford's statement was almost 20 minutes, so it's taking a long time to get through it. But I do think it's important to try to understand the motivation here. I've done a diary at Kos which includes what I posted last night, along with a bit that I haven't posted here yet. In this post, though, I'm just including what he said is the role of civil government. Obviously, my view of "what the civil government's job is" is quite different from his.

Let me give you a little different way to think of politics and government. I support what is called Christian public policy, and a fair question is, "What the heck is that?" Now we have some people who claim that there is no such thing as Christian public policy. Christian public policy, in my understanding, is public policy that glorifies God, and advances the kingdom of God. Now, obviously, there's lots of leeway for interpreting what exactly that means--what kind of public policy *would* glorify God, what sort of public policy *would* advance the kingdom of God, but that's our starting point. And I think a biblical understanding of government begins with the recognition that God ordained four types of government. And part of the problem we have is that we only talk about one of the four.

God ordained individual government--you are individually sovereign. You personally have rights and authority and responsibility, you will personally answer for your life before God. You deserve respect and dignity as an individual sovereign government. God ordained family government. Families have real authority, real responsibility, and should be respected as a government. That's a Genesis ordaination (sp?) government. Third, we have the church. The church is ordained as a *real* government. There's a lot of conversation today about whether the church should be tax exempt. I think biblically and historically, the church shouldn't *need* to be tax exempt, because the church is tax *immune*. That is, the church is a separate, sovereign government, that is immune from other taxes, because it's a *different government*. You shouldn't be able to tax the church--it's distinct from the civil government, and it was recognized that way in American government until 1954 when they changed the IRS code.

And then finally you have the civil government. Now, the key principle to understand is that Christians, or at least Christians who think like I do, Evangelical Christians who believe in Christian public policy--we don't hate big government because we're against government. We don't like big government because it encroaches on the responsibility of individuals and families and churches. You see, we all call for the government to do something about the problems facing us. And I hear all the time, "You know, the government ought to do something about that." And I always answer "You know, you are exactly right, the government should do something about that", but the question we don't often ask is, "which government?" Should the individual be responsible for that, should the family be responsible for that, should the church be responsible for that, or the civil government be responsible for that? Now, I personally believe that individuals, families, and churches are *absolutely* responsible for helping the poor. I *don't* believe that one of the primary responsibilities of the *civil* government is caring for the poor.

I have a quick question for you--here's a quiz. When were poor people invented?...Okay, second question, does God hate the poor? Obviously not--he made so many of them. When was the first federal welfare program in America? Roosevelt, 1933, Social Security. Didn't we have any poor people in the colonies? Poor people in the states? All of a sudden, we had federal welfare programs--why? Because we believed that responsibility for poor people was with individuals, families, and churches, and sometimes local governments would get together and help poor people, and that's where that responsibility rested. So, we seek stronger individuals, stronger families, and stronger churches, and a civil government that's fully empowered to do what it's supposed to do, but not to encroach on the other three legitimate governments. And so that's what I try to promote.
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Happy birthday, Desmond Tutu!

Desmond Tutu turns 75 today. That slipped my mind until I saw his picture in the open thread on My Left Wing. So I put the second post about Greg Lankford's talk back into draft for later, because *this* is definitely worth celebrating!

Here's a link to the post I did about Archbishop Desmond Tutu at my religious left blog a little over a week ago. See, I *did* know his birthday was coming--but then it somehow snuck up on me!

You can click here to listen to a sermon he gave recently in Dallas.

(The post that is in draft can also be viewed here, if you wanted to read it now.)

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Saturday Comics

And my favorite for today: Neverland Ranch

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The view from "the other side of the aisle"

As I mentioned in the comments of the previous thread, Demetrius and I attended First Friday at the local Unitarian Universalist church this evening. On the first Friday of every month, there is a potluck followed by several choices of speakers, discussions, and activities. The main forum this evening was about the appropriateness of churches being involved in matters of public policy. There were four speakers, and what you see below are some of the remarks from Gary Lankford, president of the Ohio Restoration Project.
The reason I'm here instead of at a high school football game on a Friday night, is because I think community forums are important, and I think we're in danger in our society of losing our ability to disagree without being disagreeable. I've heard three very different perspectives, and I agree with all three of you on some points, and disagress vigorously with some of you on other points, but I'm happy to say that I consider you brothers in Christ, and hope we can find some point of commonality. Not only within the Body of Christ, but with other Americans who don't count themselves as part of our faith tradition. So, what I'd like to offer tonight is something that I've learned in dialog with what I call "liberals of good will". You know, there's a tendency in America to polarize and to demonize people who think differently than we do. I've heard lots of angry rhetoric on both sides, and yet when I sit down and talk with real people who disagree with me vigorously, I find that once we get through the initial friction, we're able to talk about some things and work on some things, and accomplish a little something, at least relationally, and find some points of commonality. And that's what I want--to help share with you some of the things that I'm learning, and maybe help you understand what it's like on the Evangelical side of the aisle.

I've learned from dialoguing with my liberal friends that they really do have a very different perception of what's going on in America, and the conflict in the religious conversation going on, so I'm going to share some of those things with you if I could.

For over 300 years in America, it was widely assumed that to be in public office, you needed to be a Christian--or at least a Unitarian or a Deist. And that distinction, though important, wasn't critical, because even Deists in ages past were much more biblical in their worldview and their understanding of scripture than many of today's Evangelical office-holders. It was a different culture, and we had a broad, Christian cultural consensus as the backdrop for the public discourse and the public debate. You know, one of the great achievements of American Christianity is religious tolerance. Religious tolerance was a new thing in the world, and not practiced very many places, and not practiced for very long anywhere.

Now when the colonists first came to America, they came for religious freedom from Catholicism. They were not very tolerant of other Protestants. Eventually they progressed to where they were tolerant of other Protestants. Some more time went by, and they finally accepted and tolerated Catholics. Some more time went by, and they finally tolerated Jews, and Hindus and Buddhists and other faith traditions--nonwestern religions. And finally America accepted Atheists and Secularists. And one of the historical ironies, once the Atheists and Secularists were accepted, they decided now would be a good time to kick Christians out of the public square.

And that's how the Evangelical side of the aisle feels now--we feel unwelcome in the public square. We feel like there's a deliberate, organized attempt to quiet us, and reduce our political influence, and reduce our ability to talk and debate in the public square. And this often comes as a great surprise to my liberal friends. Because they tend to think of the "Christian right" for lack of a better term, as being a powerful oppressive influence in society--something that must be fought. When my liberal friends say "Speak truth to power", they mean, "Speak against those angry religious right people that are ruining America." And yet we have a very different experience, and a very different perspective of what's going on in America.

There was this broad Christian consensus in America, and in the 1930s, the Secularists began to organize in a very purposeful way, and they made astounding progress for a country with the kind of religious tradition and cultural tradition that America had. And by 20 or 30 or 40 years later, they were pre-eminent in the universities, in the medias, in the mainline churches, and in government. In fact, it was in the 1950s that William F. Buckley wrote a famous book called God and Man at Yale. Yet Ivy League schools all over America had started as Christian seminaries, and by the 1950s, Christians weren't welcome there any more. Certainly not on faculty--they were ghetto-ized and minimized in universities in the Ivy League, and later, in the mainstream university experience. In fact, at most universities, outspoken Evangelicals are outnumbered by liberal people, 10-1 to 16-1, depending on what university you're in. That's a pretty significant victory for people on the left side of the aisle.

There were also some very significant Supreme Court decisions that came in the 1960s and 70s, and I want you to think about this for a second. These were all landmark decisions that marked major shifts in American culture and American experience. They all happened for the very first time in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1961, we had Torcaso vs. Watkins, where for the first time they outlawed religious tests for public office. 1961. In 1962 they outlawed any kind of school prayer in American schools, led in any way by teachers or faculty or staff. Here was the prayer that they outlawed in 1962: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and beg Thy blessings upon us, our teachers, and our country." That was deemed a violation of the separation of church and state. Did you catch that? "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and beg Thy blessings upon us, our teachers, and our country."

In 1963, the Court found Bible reading over the school intercom unconstitutional. You couldn't read Bible verses in the morning announcements. In 1971, they devised a new test to determine what was "excessive entanglement" in church-state issues, called the Kurtzman test. Here are the three new definitions. The government action must have a secular purpose, or it's not allowed. Its primary purpose must not be to inhibit or advance religion--if it inhibits or advances religion, it's not allowed. And three, there must be no excessive entanglement between government and religion. Now if you follow church-state court cases at all in the last 35 years, you'll find that the Lemon v. Kurtzman case settle nothing at all. Every Supreme Court had a totally different idea of what each of those three points meant in practical usage.

To be continued. Hat tip to Plunderbund--you can read more about Mr. Lankford and what he believes here.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Hastert "listens to and remembers everything"

Via Crooks and Liars. Dennis Hastert's opponent, John Leasch just did an interview on Hardball. The following excerpt is from Firedoglake:

MATTHEWS: Do you believe that Denny Hastert is a man of character?

LAESCH: I think that this issue has defined the clearest difference between myself and Mr. Hastert, that being I stand for honesty and integrity..

MATTHEWS: And he doesn't?

LAESCH: … and I'll let the voters decide where he stands.

MATTHEWS: But you‘re not challenging his character here or word? Is that right? You don‘t challenge his word here? You think he might be telling the truth?

LAESCH: I will challenge his word. I‘ll get out there and say so. On page 186 of Dennis Hastert's book, he says that he listens to everything, and, you know, he knows everything that is going on. Use his words. Apparently he forgot, but on page 186 of his book, he says he listens to everything and he remembers everything.
Nicely done. I've added John Leasch to our Act Blue page.

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The perils of volunteer bias

Hey everybody--guess what? I'm talking shop again. But how can I possibly pass up the opportunity when I see *this* over at DFA-link.


Thank you for participating in my survey. I hope you won't be the only one!

If anyone else would like to participate, here's the link:

by Noah Porter on Friday, 10/06/06 @ 03:31 AM | Rate this | Avg Rating: -1
You'll note that I left the comment, including the rating, intact. The survey is here if you'd like to participate. Wonder how Noah's participant responded to this question:

What beliefs do you share in common with DFA?

But honestly, this is an important point, and I think it's important enough to address in a front page post. Because trying to find a reference to illustrate this, I looked up two famous examples of what is called "volunteer bias" in survey data. The first thing I thought of was Shere Hite's survery on "women and love"--where she found that the vast majority of women who responded to her survey were unhappy with their relationships, and an astounding percentage of them admitted to having affairs. Yet of the surveys she sent out, only about 4% were returned. Do you see why I bolded that one part of the sentence? We don't know anything about the "average American woman" from her survey--we only have information about the 4 percent who responded. Most of *those* women, apparently, were pretty unhappy in their relationships.

But are they typical? How many of you receive surveys of one sort or another in the mail? How many of you respond to them? What would motivate you to take the time to respond? Often, having strong feelings about the subject matter is what motivates people.

When I searched for a link about this study, I found a lot of reports about volunteer bias in *sex research*. But the problem of survey respondants differing from "average" member of the population under study is by no means limited to research on human sexuality. So I looked up another well-known example--the one where Ann Landers asked mothers if having children had been "worth it", and 70% of those who responded said "no". Unfortunately, most of what I found for *that* survey involved people using it to make the point that people often regret having children. (Though they usually paid lip service to the notion that "of course this survey is unscientific"...but look at these numbers!)

This is from an article in Salon entitled "To breed or not to breed":
"It's very rare for a woman who has children to regret having children," says Hanson. "You will find women who say, on the one hand, 'I love my children, they're profoundly fulfilling and I can't imagine not having had them.' But on the other hand they'll say, 'Boy, this is really stressful. This has really strained my marriage. My health has never been up to par since I had my first or second child. I really regret the impact of having kids on my career. Having children has made me financially dependent and really limited my options for making money.' I hear them say all those things, but you rarely hear moms actually saying, bottom line, I should never have done it."

Yet Cain insists that more women feel that way than might admit it. She points to a famous survey advice columnist Ann Landers took of her readers in 1975. A woman wrote to Landers with qualms much like mine -- she and her husband were torn about childbearing and asked, "Were the rewards enough to make up for the grief?" Landers put the question to her readers, asking, "If you had it to do over again, would you have children?" Astonishingly, 70 percent of her respondents said no.

"Seventy percent of whom?" I might ask my students. Of American mothers in the 1970's? No. Of American mothers in the 70's who read the Ann Landers advice column? No again--although note for a moment that the demographics of regular readers of Ann Landers are already likely to be a pretty big step away from the broad category of "mothers in America" in that time period. No, we are looking at 70% of the mothers who read that survery question and felt *motivated to respond* for one reason or another.

I couldn't find an article addressing the issue of volunteer bias in this particular survery, but I did find this page with answers from old multiple choice psych exams. I've seen similar questions in the test banks I've used. It's an important concept for students to understand.

Anyway, here's that link again for Noah's survey, if you consider yourself to be a member of DFA and would like to help give a more balanced picture.

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Olbermann's special comment on Bush's lying

Crooks and Liars has the video...

Yesterday at a fundraiser for an Arizona Congressman, Mr. Bush claimed, quote, "177 of the opposition party said 'You know, we don't think we ought to be listening to the conversations of terrorists."

The hell they did.

177 Democrats opposed the President's seizure of another part of the Constitution*.

Not even the White House press office could actually name a single Democrat who had ever said the government shouldn't be listening to the conversations of terrorists.

President Bush hears… what he wants.

Click here for the video, in Windows Media or Quicktime format and click here for the full transcript on MSNBC. E-mail Keith Olbermann at

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Update on the election lawsuit in Alachua

Tomorrow is a BIG day. We resume our depositions tomorrow - and we have scheduled to voters.

One of which is the woman whose story I have told - about being solicited to vote by the City Manager (Clovis) and told who to vote for ... given no privacy or secret ballot ... voting for the "wrong Mr. Lewis" and having her original ballot torn up and given a new one, etc.

What we know is that they have "gotten to her" - Clovis has "talked" with her, she has disappeared from circulating around people she used to even work for, and her son was arrested a few weeks after Clovis learned we talked to her. We don't know the details of this - but believe it is highly likely this was meant to intimidate her.

We are hopeful that she will be forthcoming and honest - and believe that she is the kind of person that would be nothing but that - but there is always the suspense until this testimony is official.

They are deposing me next Thursday.

Furthermore there is only one more week (I believe the Monday following next is the date) for the State to officially charge me in the wiretapping case involving Clovis.

I have been having a bit of a problem with my attorneys - at least with one of them - who has been overly insistent that I make a deal with the State - and that I should not even expect an apology from there end (so what is the reason to make a deal?). This has been extremely frustrating ... there is a real "game" to law and very few lawyers who are genuinely willing to stand up for the idea of law as justice. I am not sure what to do on that end - but I can't get into all of the details currently.

Oh well - I figured I give an update. I am very hopeful that getting through the next week will enable the turning of the corner on all of this. Thus far the burden has been on me with all of the restrictions on my liberty, the pressures of the potential charges, the expenses, etc. Hopefully tomorrow will begin the turning of the situation into the next phase.

Charles Grapski

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Routes of persuasion in political campaigns

ELM stands for Elaboration Likelihood model. The excerpt below is from a paper about political communication that was published in 1996.

Using the central route, the person will purposefully evaluate, or process, the message based on the quality of the arguments that are presented. During the evaluation, the person will generate thoughts about the message. If the arguments are strong, the person will generate positive thoughts about the message. The greater the number of positive thoughts that are generated, the greater the attitude change in favor of the message.

If the arguments are weak, however, the person's attitude generally will not change. The person might even generate counterarguments against the message, which could result in a more negative attitude, the boomerang effect.

In an era of information overload, ELM assumes that people are "cognitive misers" who hoard their cognitive resources (Petty & Cacioppo, 1983). Although motivated to hold correct attitudes, people do not have the time or cognitive energy to process all of the messages via the central route.

If a person does not have the ability or motivation to process the message or has not been exposed to it, the peripheral route will be used. Because the person wants to hold a correct attitude but doesn't want to exert much energy to form it, the person will survey the setting and find one or more cues on which to base the attitude. The cues can be any piece of information, including the candidate's appearance, reputation, political party or what friends say about the candidate. Because a cue is being used, the person will not evaluate the candidate's arguments. Instead,
the person's attitude will be based solely on the quality of the cues.

People will not use central or peripheral processing exclusively. Petty and Cacioppo envision a continuum of elaboration likelihood. On one end of the continuum are people that are highly motivated, have a high ability to process the message and/or are presented with the opportunity to do so.

There is a high likelihood that these people will elaborate on the message using the central route. On the opposite end of the continuum are people who have low motivation to process the message, low ability to understand it and/or have little exposure to the message. There is a low likelihood that these people will elaborate on the message. Instead, they will use peripheral processing. In the middle is a vast gray area where people will use varying amounts of both types of processing. Little research has been conducted in this area.

Because people using the central route have expended more cognitive energy in evaluating the message, Petty and Cacioppo say their attitudes will be more enduring and more predictive of behavior (Petty & Cacioppo, 1983). On the other hand, because people using the peripheral route have invested little energy in their decision, their attitude change will be temporary and not very predictive of behavior.
Today is the day that I teach all day--psychology classes for college undergrads, for anyone who was not aware of that. So I don't have time to discuss this further at the moment, but I wanted to put it out there seeing as how Ken Blackwell was using an awful lot of peripheral persuasion techniques in the gubernatorial debate last night. And he seems to count on people having an automatic "yuck" response to the word psychologist, as if it meant (recalling an old George Carlin routine) "commie-fag-junkie". Oh, and the word "taxes" and calling Strickland a "taxer"--that's a favorite of his. Anyway, I hope to discuss this more later, but maybe in the meantime you might think about the types of messsages you have seen used in campaigns this season.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Open Thread

Taking a break from the political stuff to soak in some adorable "seal puppage". (Via Cute Overload.)

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The theocracy movement in Ohio

Earlier I posted about what Adam Leddy of Equality Ohio had to say about his experience of one of Rod Parsley's services at World Harvest Church. Here is more of what he told us about Rod Parsley, as well as some of the other major players in the theocracy movement in Ohio.

We'll start with Phil Burress who actually may be more responsible than anyone for laying the groundwork for the theocratic movement in Ohio. Phil Burress is in southwestern Ohio, and he is the leader of Citizens for Community Values. That's an organization that was founded in the early 80s, and originally was exclusively an anti-pornography advocacy group. Phil Burress has been very forthcoming about his pornography addiction, which he credits with ruining his first two marriages.

CCV's first major victory was in 1992 in Cincinnati with Article 12, which successfully removed sexual orientation from Cincinnati's civil rights ordinance, which prohobits the city from protecting GLBT people from discrimination, and that was a major victory for them. It was in 2004 that Article 12 was repealed by the voters in Cincinnati. Burress spearheaded an effort this year to put it back on the ballot, and that effort has failed. It turns out that many of the signatures he gathered were gathered fraudulantly.

Russell Johnson of Fairfield Christian Church, which is south of here, is a church with some 3500 congregants, and is a mostly White church, while Rod Parsley's World Harvest Church is a very diverse church, Johnson's is not. Johnson's church members have been getting elected to public office for quite some time. Recently at least a half dozen in the past couple years. Russell Johnson has some 400,000 people on his e-mail list, and according to the Columbus Dispatch, when Mike DeWine earlier this year decided to come out in support of a federal marriage amendment, Russell Johnson was the person that he called to discuss it with.

Russell Johnson's goal is to recruit 2000 Patriot Pastors, each committed to registering 300 new voters by the end of 2006. And these pastors are to be in every county in Ohio, and that is their mission. Their publicly stated goal is to raise a one million dollar war chest in order to "build a database of 300,000 postal addresses and 100,000 e-mail addresses, to recruit a number of like-minded Christian voters to be 21st century "minute men".

"From our country's classrooms to our courthouses, from Christmas carols to graduation celebrations, from the Pledge of Allegiance to our state motto, the forces of darkness have opposed every public expression of allegiance to God." That's the mentality, and I think that sums it up better than anything I could say.

But the real celebrity of the group, and certainly for us here because he's a local boy, is Rod Parsley. He is the pastor of the World Harvest Church and also the founder and leader of the Center for Moral Clarity and of Reformation Ohio. World Harvest and the Rod Parsley empire have a 40 million dollar a year budget, 12,000 congregants, a 5200 seat church, which is visually stunning and state of the art--I've been there. His weekly television show Breakthrough airs on 1400 cable stations and affiliates. He's got a prep school a Bible college, a mission program, and a church jet.

He's a recent arrival to the spotlight, but it's not that he's only now becoming politically active. He was active throughouth the 80s, any time a movie theater would show an LGBT themed film, he would protest and get people out. But he credits his recent activism to 2003 when he was invited to the White House, not for the first and not for the last time, to attend the president's signing of the partial birth abortion ban.

Reformation Ohio, Parsley's organization's goal has been 400,000 new voters registered, 100,000 new Ohioans brought to faith in Christ. He reportedly had 100,000 strong supporters that he could mobilize on election day in 2004. They're not going to hit these goals in 2006 that we or anyone else knows of. There have been reportedly less than half a dozen Reformation Ohio events this year. An article in the Columbus Dispatch a few weeks ago mentioned that this effort wasn't necessarily going as strongly as they would have liked. A spokesperson said something to the effect that registration numbers are always off in nonpresidential election years, which is true. So the goal for this year is probably going to be the goal for 2008, and it is not by any stretch of the imagination an unattainable goal. So, right now things are not going particularly well for them by all public accounts, but this is an effort that is so far beyond 2006 and 2008, obviously.

Real quickly, I'll run through some of Parsley's basic beliefs. From my recent reading of his book, Silent No More, Parsley believes that the media is aiding a secular effort to silence and persecute Christians, that separation of church and state is a lie that has been foisted on Americans, that our founding fathers did intend to found a Christian nation. He believe that Mohammed was possessed by demons and has called Islam a false religion. The quote again, "I do not believe that our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed.

He interestingly enough goes on to suggest that our early 19th century conflicts with the Barbary pirates off the northern coast of Africa, was America's opening salvo in this conflict with Islam. And what's informative about that--what we need to remember--is these people have in created their own version of American history in some cases. And once you've done that, it's not that far of a stretch to believe that you can create the future if you have already remodeled the past into your worldview. They have a very effective narrative going.
There are a number of national groups with which Parsley and Johnson are affiliated that do pull in your Falwells and your Robertsons. The acronyms of the groups are confusing and I can't remember them, but many of the national groups that Parsley and Johnson are involved with, their prime function is to lobby the White House for a harsher policy on Iran and the Middle East in general, in order to lead to the rapture.

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Subway's back!

And he's got his GOP-kicking boots on...

Last Friday I was called back to the emergency room because of abnormalities in my follow up bloodwork. High potassium and low sodium levels had me weak and dizzy.

Finally I'm back at full strength. I'm home and ready to kick some serious Goper butt. If I had died in the hospital, I would have left this planet as the happiest man on Earth. Now I have a whole new life.

Gonna take a few hours to care for some unattended business I'll see y'all in a little while.

Love you all. Thanks for the prayers and support.

Subway Serenade

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Dean Sends Greetings on Yom Kippur

The photo above is from Howard Dean's trip to Israel in September of 2005.

From the DNC web site:

Today, Democratic National Committee Chairman, Howard Dean, issued the following statement commemorating Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement:

"Sundown on Sunday marks the start of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews around the world.

"This High Holiday is a time to seek forgiveness and ask for divine guidance for self-improvement through repentance, prayer and fasting.

"On Yom Kippur, Jews will honor and remember loved ones who have passed, work to rekindle and rebuild relationships and seek means to improve the communities in which they live.

"My family and I ask all to join with the Jewish people to use this time as the beginning of a new era of peace and security."

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tucker Carlson is a schmuck

There are some serious issues with the Haloscan comments tonight. I have crossposted this entry at the Wordpress blog so that we can carry on our conversation there (I hope). It will ask you for an e-mail address, but that will not be displayed. Click here to join in the conversation.

You all probably knew that already, but here's yet more evidence--the way he treats Dr. Asma Mobin Uddin in a discussion about the "jihad" car ad that was recently pulled after area Muslim groups protested. You can see the interview here on YouTube.

I've met Asma on a couple of occasions. She spoke at an adult education forum at my church a couple years ago, and also preached the sermon that day (I attend a rather progressive Episcopal church). Then, last year, I heard her speak at an interfaith forum on prayer. You can see the transcript of her remarks here. I have nothing but respect for Dr. Asma Mobin-Uddin, who I think presented her views calmly and sensibly. As for Tucker Carlson, I agree with Jon Stewart:

CARLSON: I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion.
STEWART: You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.

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Inside a service at Rod Parsley's World Harvest Church

Last Thursday I attended an event of the ACLU of Ohio, featuring speakers from Equality Ohio. I wrote just a bit about it here, but haven't had a chance to write up much of it until now. I was particulary interested to hear Adam Leddy of Equality Ohio describe the experience of attending a service at Rod Parsley's World Harvest Church. He recomended, as you'll see at the end of his remarks, that we go and experience it for ourselves. But I don't imagine that I'm going to do that. Neither are most of you, I imagine. So I thought you might appreciate whatever insights Adam's description can offer.

Click for more.

Update: From the responses I've gotten elsewhere, people seem to think I am somehow impressed with Parsley's healing abilities. I'm not. I find the whole package rather disturbing. But at the same time, I see the benefit in trying to understand how he can hold such sway over so many people.

This man wields a lot of power, and he's one of the people who, at least initially was a very public booster of Ken Blackwell. He probably still is, but not as overtly. Adam guessed that Parsley and Russell Johnson have backed off from their very public support either because of the IRS complaint against them, or because Blackwell has seen some polling indicating that appearances with these religious leaders do not benefit him politically. (May even hurt his chances.) Those are just guesses, but both seem plausible.

I think Ken Blackwell is a scary dude, and I sure don't want him to be our governor. (It's not like we can afford to move if he is elected.) I am also pretty dismayed at the success these folks had statewide in passing Issue 1, the so called "same sex-marriage ban" that was much more far reaching than just banning already illegal same-sex marriages. Rod Parsley was also a big supporter of that, and he considers the passage of the bill quite a feather in his cap, along with the re-election of George Bush in 2004.

More about Rod Parsley and what he believes can be found in this Kos diary

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Monday, October 02, 2006

The list just keeps growing

Reynolds' Chief of Staff tried to get ABC to cover up evidence of Foley predatory sex chat (via AmericaBLOG)

AmericaBLOG also has the video of Hastert's interview on CNN.

"The first I was really aware of this was last Friday, when it happened, and all of a sudden the press came out and said that there were these e-mails that were from 2003, I guess, and Congressman Foley resigned. That's when I learned of it, at that point.

Reporter: ...Tom Reynolds said that he spoke with you about it last spring.

Hastert: You know, I don't recall Reynolds talking to me about that, but if he did, he brought it in with a whole stack of things. And I think if he would have had that discussion, he would have said it was also resolved, because it's my understanding now that it was resolved at that point. The family had gotten what it wanted to get.

Interesting, huh? *If* he knew about it, he figured it was resolved because "the family had gotten what it wanted to get"? So as long as that one family was allegedly satisfied with "what they got", we don't have to worry about any other pages? Until one of their families complains, I suppose.

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Bush: Ken Blackwell is a nut

Crossposted at Daily Kos and My Left Wing.

From Buckeye State Blog, which excerpted this from Bob Woodward's new book:

"At 2:43 a.m., someone noted that Bush was ahead in the popular vote nationwide, prompting the President to sneer, "If the popular vote made it, I wouldn't be here."

The campaign was left to anxiously wait for a statement from Kenneth Blackwell, a former black power student leader who had morphed into Ohio's gadfly Republican secretary of state.

"I'm the President of the United States," Bush fumed, "waiting on a secretary of state who is a nut."

As I already noted in the comments at BSB, I'm aware that peanuts are legumes and not technically nuts. I live with the sort of know-it-alls who would quickly point that out. :) But I still had to do this...

Bear in mind that it's Demetrius who is the artist in our family. I'm just learning to do a few things in Photoshop. So I realize the image is a bit crude. But it was fun to do. :)

Update: I found this link to an article about the Bush remarks.

And another update, from Cincinnati Politics Extra:
Blackwell's gubernatorial campaign was shrugging off the quote Monday.

"It must have been a pretty tense time at the White House,'' said Blackwell campaign spokesman Carlo LoParo. "I don't know what the president said or even if he said it.''

During that campaign, LoParo said, the Bush/Cheney campaign was not very pleased with Blackwell, especially after he ruled independent Ralph Nader off the Ohio ballot, which was thought to be a big boon to John Kerry.

LoParo pointed out that Bush, even though he may have called Blackwell a "nut," thought enough of him to come to Ohio in August and raise $1.5 million for Blackwell's gubernatorial campaign.

And yet another update. Progress Ohio has posted the relevant portion of page 347 from Woodward's book.

...and Blair had gone to bed thinking Bush was going to lose. He was frankly stunned that Bush was still in the race, let alone the likely winner.

"Latest I've been up since college," Bush told Blair. "I need one more state."

Rove reported that they would get a proposed statement from Blackwell in Ohio within the next half hour. Blackwell, a former black-power-saluting student leader who had shifted to the Republican party, was a lone ranger who shunned party discipline.

"I'm the president of the United States," Bush said fuming, "waiting on a secretary of state who is a nut."

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Frist no friend to horses

Image courtesy of Stablemade Equine Photos Gallery

We knew about the cat vivisection in Bill Frist's past--although I did not have a clear picture of just how heinous this was until I read this post at Talk2Action last night. In the same article, I learned that Frist is trying to roll back protections against the cruel practice of "soring" in the Tennessee Walking Horse competitions. From the article I referenced above:

To make the horses step higher (and get scored higher), the horses are injected with or rubbed with caustic or blistering agents or they are deliberately mis-shoed so that it's physically painful for the horse to put pressure on his hooves.
Not only is soring inherently cruel, it's also the equivalent (in the horse fancy) of shooting up with steroids in prep for a Big Game. It's not fair play, and it's harmful to the horses; however, soring still occurs partly because stud fees for champion show horses are comparable to those for Kentucky Derby winners (read: you could retire, VERY comfortably).

As it turns out, Frist has a long relationship with the show industry:

A political action committee (PAC) made up of Tennessee Walking Horse breeders has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of Rep. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), among others.

Statistics compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics show that in 1998, the PAC contributed $40,500 to congressional candidates, and additional contributions were made by individuals from the Walking Horse industry.

And as a result--in large part to help out his friends in the show-horse industry, including the Tennessee Walker Celebration show that ended up so racked in controversy that it shut down after most of its horses were disqualified--he's now wanting to neuter the federal ban against soring of horses, presumably so that other horse shows don't get shut down.
Read the whole diary here. Bill Frist is not a nice man.

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Religious right watch

So, have any of the "usual suspects" from the so-called religious right spoken out about sexual predator Mark Foley? Or against the members of the Republican leadership who enabled him by placing party interests above the safety of the adolescents in the Congressional page program? As is noted in this diary by jjhalpin, the silence has been deafening.

A couple quick links before I turn in. First, an informative piece from Mother Jones about the origins of the Christian Coalition. Also, there is a lot of great information at Theocracy Watch, a site which has been charting the rise of the religious right in the Republican party.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

St. Pete Times gives kudos to Dean for being outspoken.

Thank you, thank you, Bill Maxwell of the St. Pete Times. Sounds like you have been saving up those words for a while. I thank you for saying them this week, they are much needed. Since you are not much for compliments, I consider them high praise.

Democrats Need to Grow a Spine

But first let us get back to Dean. As far as I am concerned, he has told the truth about the GOP and Bush. If he has erred, it has been on the side of harshness, not dishonesty or hypocrisy.
And now more from the beginning of the article.

When Howard Dean took over as the Democratic national chairman, I hoped that other Democrats would study the straightness of his backbone and grow one just like it. Dean came into the job showing his utter contempt for right-wing Republicans.

I was convinced that he was the man for the job, that if Democrats were to regain any semblance of respectability and real authority, they would have to face reality and start playing the GOP's brand of smash-mouth personal politics.

...." Here is sampling of Dean's GOP truths:

Dean: "All we ask is that we not turn into a country like Iran where the president can do anything he wants."

Dean: "Mean. They're not nice people. They want to run nearly every aspect of your life."

Dean: "This is a struggle of good and evil. And we're good."

Dean: "Lord knows this administration is beginning to erode the core of our democracy."

And a last paragraph from a blunt speaking columnist at the St Pete Times.

Some final words from Howard Dean as he responds to a challenge to one of his attacks on Republicans: "This is one of those flaps that comes up once in awhile when I get tough. We have to be tough on the Republicans. Republicans don't represent ordinary Americans and they don't have any understanding of what it is to go out and try to make ends meet."

Nasty and mean, yes, but acceptably so.

One of those inspiring op eds that catches one'e eye and lets one see someone is noticing.

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An open letter to: Rahm Emmanuel, Chuck Schumer and Howard Dean.

Would you quit your bickering! See the Oct 1st NY Times article The Inside Agitator By Matt Bai. To use one of your campaign slogans, I've "had enough!" If Democrats had a strong message you wouldn’t' need to spend so many millions of dollars on commercials trying to say what we stand for.

I spent the past week in Washington D. C. attending an intensive training for aspiring female politicians. During the training, our small group of women met with politicians (Sen. Durbin, Sen. Reid), political think tanks (Economic Policy Institute, Center for Political Alternatives, DSCC) web masters (DNC) and journalists (Helen Thomas). At each meeting, I would ask, “"In one sentence, what is the Democratic Message?" I am sorry to say the best they could come up with was, "Time for a new direction". Sorry ----boring, and personally even though I consider myself a liberal, I certainly don't want to go in just any direction. Where do they want to take me? It was a bit unnerving when liberal journalist such as Helen Thomas asked our group. "What do Democrats stand for?"

One of the sessions by a pollster group, Lake Research Partners, presented research about people"s opinions and messages that work. The highest concerns of interviewees was the feeling that their children may be the first generation to be worse off than their parents. They felt there children had decreased opportunity for education, jobs and buying a first home. These were disappearing dreams. There was one statement that universally struck a chord with both conservatives and liberals. It was, "I think the people of our country are losing the ability to live the American Dream."

That’s it! Democratic values stated in two words, American Dream. People, Republicans and Democrats alike, fear we are losing the opportunity to live the American Dream. The American Dream of providing our children with the opportunity to live a healthy life, to make a living wage, to have a clean world and to live in a world in peace.

Here's your part now Democratic party. On Oct. 19th do a massive media blitz. Put our slogan everywhere. Have politicians say it on the Sunday morning talk shows, rent billboards, pass out bumper stickers, have every candidates running for office use it and put out TV commercials.

Democrat:: bringing back the American Dream.

Simple but everyone knows what it means.

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Happy birthday, Jimmy Carter

Former president Jimmy Carter, pictured above receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, was born this day in 1924.

At JayDean's suggestion, in honor of Carter's birthday, I have added his son Jack Carter, who is running for Senate in Nevada, to the Howard-Empowered Act Blue page.

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Shake It Off

Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold. Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand. When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, "This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live." But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects. The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

Acts 28:1-6
One thing that I have learned is that before you can apply the Word to others you must first apply it to yourself. This piece particularly spoke to me where I am right now so I thought I'd repost it today.

There are precious few people on the planet who actually like snakes. Snakes are universally reviled and with good reason - they're treacherous and they're often deadly. Snakes are hated in such a way that in our common vernacular one of the worse things that you can call someone is a snake. A snake is someone who has no character, someone who has no scruples, someone who has no problem with smiling in your face and patting you on the back for the sole purpose of finding out where to thrust the knife. Have you ever had to deal with a snake?

The Apostle Paul had been snake-bitten throughout his ministry in Asia Minor. Five times he received 39 lashes. Three times he was beaten with rods, once he was stoned, three times he was shipwrecked, he spent a night and a day in the open sea, and he was constantly on the move. He had been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from his own countrymen and in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and, above all, in danger from false brothers. Paul was well acquainted with snakes.

So Paul must have chuckled the last time that he was shipwrecked - on Malta - when a snake bit him as he was helping to gather firewood. Everyone thought that he was a dead man walking, but what did Paul do? Paul shook it off. Paul didn't sit around and cry about his fate. Paul didn't kvetch about his perpetual misfortune. Paul shook that snake off before the venom could get into his system. That is exactly how we have to face adversity:

Folks hating on you? Shake it off!

Spouse acting a fool? Shake it off!

Kids acting like Chucky? Shake it off!

Boss treating you like Toby? Shake it off!

Politicians lying to your face? Shake it off!

Player haters trying to take your place? Shake it off!

Snakes refusing to pay you? Shake it off!

We cannot sit around and complain about what has happened to us - we have to shake that stuff off and move forward with what God has for us to do. If you look at the text, Paul didn't just shake the snake off of him - he shook it into the fire. You see, not only do we have to get past the problem, we have to solve the problem. Paul eliminated the source of his problem - he didn't just sit around and whine about it, he did something about it. There's an old saying that God helps those who help themselves, and there's some truth to that. We have to get past our helplessness and take care of our own responsibilities. We have to shake off adversity and squash whatever problems hinder us so that we can achieve all of our objectives. That is what Paul did on his way to Nero's chopping block, and that is what we have to do in our every-day living.

May the LORD bless you and keep you;
May the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
And may the LORD,
Who implores you to Shake It Off,
May He turn His face toward you and give you peace.

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Open Thread

If you check out pyzch, puddle has been posting a lot of memories of Edwin, including pictures from the plays he was in. And just generally a lovely, bittersweet collections of quotes, memories, and poems. I rarely can come up with a comment to add, but want puddle to know that I'm reading, appreciate that she is sharing these things with us. The loss of Edwin, who I never had the opportunity to meet, felt like such a senseless tragedy. Now, along with the sadness, I appreciate the chance to appreciate the gift of Edwin's life, and the gift that Edwin and puddle were able to find in each other.

Thank you, puddle, for sharing these things with us--the tough parts as well as the joy of discovering and sharing your life with your soulmate.
But I really did intend to post an *open* thread. So, as a way of giving people "permission" to post things that are *not* especially deep or reflective if they don't feel so inclined at the moment, here's a picture of a wet kitten.

(Via Cute Overload, natch.)

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