the blog of DC Drinking Liberally
Today the radio show To the Point discussed “America and Islam: Four Years Later”. One of the guests was David Frum of the American Enterprise Institute, who was asked to give his expert opinion on such topics as whether Barack Obama is now or ever has been a Muslim and whether Obama might be targeted for death by the Islamic world for being an apostate. I love listening to “liberal” public radio.
Later in the program Frum provided this bit of insight (my transcription):
The best survey of American attitudes toward the Muslim minority is conducted by Pew, and they’ve done a series of — the Pew Charitable Trust Fund, which has lots of money — and they’ve done a series of these, and what they found was overwhelmingly positive American attitudes toward Muslims. Actually, attitudes became more positive after the 9/11 attacks, if you can believe it. The inflection point — the point at which the attitude becomes much more skeptical — is the Danish cartoon controversy, where a group of imams based in Denmark whipped up this agitation all around the world against people exercising very ordinary free speech rights, and that is the moment where you can see Americans suddenly reconsidering and where if you plot these things as trend lines, the trends change.
While the reaction to the Danish cartoons was a big event in the blogosphere, I somehow doubt that the average American was obsessing about the story, much less that it affected American attitudes more than 9/11 did. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find the Pew survey, but even if by some miracle it actually shows significant changes in the directions Frum claims, I doubt the right wing’s favorite cartoons are the explanation.
Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA) went into a xenophobic frenzy over the news that newly elected Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) would use a Koran at a private swearing-in ceremony after the official swearing-in of the new Congress (at which no religious books are used). Goode has refused to back off his warning that Muslims will be taking over the country if we don’t crack down on immigration. How this relates to Ellison, whose family has been in the country for generations, is unclear.
How will Goode react to the news that Ellison has chosen to use a Koran with a special connection to Virginia?
Yet the holy book at tomorrow’s ceremony has an unassailably all-American provenance. We’ve learned that the new congressman — in a savvy bit of political symbolism — will hold the personal copy once owned by Thomas Jefferson.
“He wanted to use a Koran that was special,” said Mark Dimunation, chief of the rare book and special collections division at the Library of Congress, who was contacted by the Minnesota Dem early in December. Dimunation, who grew up in Ellison’s 5th District, was happy to help.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that evolutionary biology is mysteriously missing from the list of subjects the US Department of Education will provide “Smart Grants” for study in. Political Animal, the Carpetbagger Report, Shakespeare’s Sister, Hit and Run, and dozens of other blogs have mentioned the story, but so far none that I’ve seen has included a graphic like this (derived from the original PDF), which shows exactly how blatant the omission is:
Toward Tradition is a conservative Jewish group founded by Rabbi Daniel Lapin, and Jack Abramoff used to serve on its board of directors. The group is allied with conservative Christian groups, and as Josh Marshall pointed out yesterday, Lapin co-chaired the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, whose advisory board included James Dobson, Charles Colson, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Michael Medved, and Jack Abramoff. (There’s more about Toward Tradition in this comment on TPMCafe.)
Marshall’s mention of Toward Tradition prompted me to check out its site, and particularly its board of directors. The board currently has a chairman, vice-chairman, and 20 members — with no mention of Jack Abramoff. But checking the Internet Archive, I find that the same page in July 2003 and March 2005 (the most recent archived copy) contained a longer list:
As I mentioned two weeks ago, a source of entertainment on visits to my parents is reading the editorials and letters to the editor in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, which provide a view into a world different from that revealed on the equivalent pages of the Washington Post or even the Washington Times. During this Christmas visit, my attention was captured not by the latest right-wing ranting, but by something I noticed in a letter from someone who was not a Bush supporter:
U.S. Didn’t Suffer Under Clinton
Don’t ask me to stop bashing President Bush if you’re still bashing President Clinton! I take exception to my friend, Eula Randall Lucy, in her recent letter, “People Risk Lives for American Dream,” in which she states, “After the degrading years our country suffered through while the Clintons were in the White House, we are happy to have a President and First Lady with moral and religious values.”
This country was not suffering while Bill Clinton was President, unless of course you can’t get over Bill’s lack of morals. While it’s true that today with Bush we don’t have moral issues with the President, we just have issues about a war, an incredible deficit that grows daily, questionable folks in his administration, Bush’s selection of leaders, the government’s response to crises, gas prices, our reputation with the rest of the globe, etc., etc., etc. And how does one decide that the vitriol that we hear against this President and this country is unpatriotic?
I happen to think this President is a total embarrassment. I have a right to think so and that is the great thing about this country, and it’s the one thing Ms. Lucy and I can agree on. I, too, offer special thanks at this time of year for the privilege of living in the most wonderful country in the world where folks can disagree. I just don’t apply labels to those who don’t happen to agree with me.
I don’t want to single Mr. Bragg out, but he’s provided a useful example of a mistake I run across often in political discussions: buying into the Republican notion that morality is only about sex. Bragg says “we don’t have moral issues with the President” but then in the same sentence brings up war, passing on debt to the next generation, official corruption, treatment of the poor, and other issues, all of which are moral issues. But somehow too many people — even liberals — go along with the idea that morality is only about keeping your pants on at the appropriate times.
President Clinton, like all of us, had moral failings, and the ones Lucy is talking about greatly affected him and his family. But nonsexual moral failings can do just as much damage — or far more, especially if you are the president of the United States. Moral failings by a president in deciding matters of war, or economics, or the environment can do literally millions of times more damage than any sexual trangression a person could possibly commit. Keep that in mind the next time someone talks about “moral values” and elections.
And if you absolutely must have a Bush moral failing with a sexual angle, read Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings on how the administration can’t quite bring itself to stand up to defense contractors on the issue of human trafficking — including selling women as sex slaves.
At family gatherings at my parents’ house, one of our pastimes is finding the most outrageous right-wing editorial in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and there’s usually a good crop of them. So I was amused to see in Media Matters that the paper had run an editorial denying the existence of the War on Christmas, and even calling out Bill O’Reilly by name:
Yet to hear some voices — Bill O’Reilly’s, for instance — Christmas lies under siege. Unless defended, it even could disappear! What planet do these Scrooges inhabit? The removal of religious symbols from public places probably has gone too far. Officials have grown too skittish, courts too absolute. Christmas, nevertheless, is not endangered. And to refer to Christmas vacation as Winter Break in no way demeans an occasion blest best not by baubles but by souls in quiet communion.
Once upon a time many believers lamented the commercialization of Christmas. A complaint now seems to be that Christmas isn’t commercial enough.
Hmm, maybe O’Reilly’s shtick isn’t playing as well as I feared.
O’Reilly of course responded by attacking the editorial on his show — saying it was lying about him and expressing surprise that he was being criticized in Richmond, of all places:
O’REILLY: Now, this is a conservative city, Richmond. I mean, this is not Madison, Wisconsin, where you expect those people to be communing with Satan up there in the Madison, Wisconsin, media.
Will O’Reilly soon be adding the Times-Dispatch to his enemies list?
The ACLU is a favorite target of the people whipping themselves up into a frenzy about a supposed War on Christmas. Last week, for example, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council put out a radio commentary called “ACLU in Whoville”, which included the sentence
Feeling threatened by the ACLU and others, governments, schools and businesses have banned Christmas carols, candy canes and in some cases, even the words “Merry Christmas”.
It’s interesting that Perkins mentioned candy canes. Three years ago, Jerry Falwell wrote an opinion piece titled “The Case of the Offensive Candy Canes”, and in it he also called out the ACLU:
Seven high-school students in Westfield, Mass., have been suspended solely for passing out candy canes containing religious messages. […]
The fact is, students have the right to free speech in the form of verbal or written expression during non-instructional class time. And yes, students have just as much right to speak on religious topics as they do on secular topics — no matter what the ACLU might propagate. Quite simply, school officials may not censor religious or Christian messages solely because another person might be “offended.”
But was the ACLU involved in the candy cane case? The answer is yes, as you can see from an ACLU press release:
NORTHAMPTON, MA — The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts today asked a federal district court in Springfield to protect the First Amendment rights of high school students who were disciplined by school officials for distributing candy canes with religious messages just before Christmas.
“Students have a right to communicate ideas, religious or otherwise, to other students during their free time, before or after class, in the cafeteria, or elsewhere,” said ACLU cooperating attorney Jeffrey Pyle, the main author of a friend-of-the-court brief submitted in the case.
The ACLU was involved — but on the side of the students. As is often the case with right-wing rants about the ACLU, Perkins and Falwell were responding to their own fantasy view of the organization, not to the real ACLU, which agreed with Falwell. The real ACLU defends the rights of religious people all the time. Unfortunately, many conservative religious folks are unable to distinguish between students expressing their own views and school administrations or other government bodies imposing religious expressions on captive audiences using public funds.
See Tom Tomorrow for another story about conservatives reacting to their fantasy satanic ACLU. Apparently they think sending Christmas cards to ACLU headquarters will cause the organization to spontaneously combust or something. Tom has an idea about where to send cards if you’re really interested in triggering a temper tantrum.
Hello, y’all, this is my first posting here, so please be gentle. I promise not to swear too much like I do at home (so to speak), otherwise, there should be no surprises for anyone.
That having been said.
Murphy’s Law is an expression of frustration. Our memory tends to be inexact about what we’ve done right, and the ease with which we remember the very worst things about what has gone wrong is truly staggering. Murphy’s law is built on both this tendency, and on our very human need to find connections between everything. Keep that in mind through this little report, but I promise, it’s not going to be terribly difficult to spot the conflicts.
Guess who’s going to be picketing the Pentagon’s “America Supports You” Freedom Walk? The Blue Voice informs us that Fred Phelps and his gang of cretins from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, will be coming our way September 11. They’re the folks who own godhatesfags.com (no link — you really don’t want to go there) and have been showing up at military funerals with signs saying things like “Thank God for IEDs!” Their “logic” is that God hates the United States because the country has become too accepting of homosexuality.
Regardless of what signs any peacenik demonstrators or freeper participants show up with, they’ll look good by comparison. But the danger is that any opposition may be painted as allied with Phelps.
Via Pandagon we get this fascinating Focus on the Family Series: Eight Points That Show, Christian or Not, He’s Still a Guy. Some excerpts:
When he dropped me off, I remember thinking how guy-like he was. That’s when I started thinking about burping and how most men like to do it. And how Moses and the apostles burped. D. James Kennedy, Chuck Swindoll, James Dobson, my husband — they all burp. Guys burp. With gusto and obvious delight. [ed: Some parts of the Bible I’m more familiar with than others. Which book does the Moses reference come from?]
Guys don’t “do lunch” or go shopping with other guys. There’s no point, no goal. How do you win? [ed: well, I suppose you could have a food fight.]
I have a friend whose husband and father-in-law pull each other’s arm hair in an attempt to get the other one to cry or at least wince in pain. [ed: and that’s during worship service.]
For Barry, his “cave” is his truck. When he needs to sort things out, he heads for the highway — alone. [ed: Me go cave. Start fire. Fire good.]
He gives the age-old example of men not wanting to ask for directions when they’re lost, and he cautions women against offering a man advice unless he asks. [ed: or, you could get him GPS. Electronic devices go a long way towards keeping your man satisfied.
For hours of endless entertainment, read the whole thing.
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