Monday, December 25, 2006

Media Matters: War on Christmas out in the open!

Media Matters has Simon Maloy's hilariously snide confession: "This is both a confession and a call to arms. For the past several years, I have been secretly involved in a secret scheme to secretly force religion -- Christianity, in particular -- from the public square. This secret has been laid bare, however, so now I can publicly and proudly proclaim that I am a member of the secular-progressive plot pithily dubbed 'The War on Christmas,' and have been authorized by the founder and leader of this movement, George Soros, to acknowledge its existence and call upon our fellow Christmas-haters to make themselves known and to take our no-longer secret campaign to the streets. Down with Christmas!

We have to give credit where credit is due. If it weren't for the dogged investigations of Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, as well as John Gibson's scathing expos�, The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought (Penguin, 2005), average American Christians wouldn't have thought there even was a 'War on Christmas,' and they certainly wouldn't have thought it was worse than they didn't think it was. And while I reluctantly concede that they blew the lid off all our clandestine activities, I have to admit that I am a little puzzled at, and certainly suspicious of, just how accurate they were in explaining our tactics and motives."

Read the whole thing...and since I believe in Christmas, Merry Christmas y'all!

At Axis of Episcopal Split, an Anti-Gay Nigerian - New York Times

At Axis of Episcopal Split, an Anti-Gay Nigerian - New York Times: "The way he tells the story, the first and only time Archbishop Peter J. Akinola knowingly shook a gay person’s hand, he sprang backward the moment he realized what he had done.

"Archbishop Akinola, the conservative leader of Nigeria’s Anglican Church who has emerged at the center of a schism over homosexuality in the global Anglican Communion, re-enacted the scene from behind his desk Tuesday, shaking his head in wonder and horror.

“This man came up to me after a service, in New York I think, and said, ‘Oh, good to see you bishop, this is my partner of many years,’ ” he recalled. “I said, ‘Oh!’ I jumped back.”

Archbishop Akinola, a man whose international reputation has largely been built on his tough stance against homosexuality, has become the spiritual head of 21 conservative churches in the United States. They opted to leave the Episcopal Church over its decision to consecrate an openly gay bishop and allow churches to bless same-sex unions. Among the eight Virginia churches to announce they had joined the archbishop’s fold last week are The Falls Church and Truro Church, two large, historic and wealthy parishes.

In a move attacked by some church leaders as a violation of geographical boundaries, Archbishop Akinola has created an offshoot of his Nigerian church in North America for the discontented Americans. In doing so, he has made himself the kingpin of a remarkable alliance between theological conservatives in North America and the developing world that could tip the power to conservatives in the Anglican Communion, a 77-million member confederation of national churches that trace their roots to the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

“He sees himself as the spokesperson for a new Anglicanism, and thus is a direct challenge to the historic authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury,” said the Rev. Dr. Ian T. Douglas of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Mass.

The 62-year-old son of an illiterate widow, Archbishop Akinola now heads not only Nigeria — the most populous province, or region, in the Anglican Communion, with at least 17 million members — but also the organizations representing the leaders of Anglican provinces in Africa and the developing world. He has also become the most visible advocate for a literal interpretation of Scripture, challenging the traditional Anglican approach of embracing diverse theological viewpoints."

Akinola's response when meeting the gay man sounds just like something Jesus would have done, doesn't it?

Sunday, December 24, 2006

FOXNews: Rosie Beats Trump, By Numbers - Rosie Beats Trump, By Numbers: "Now that Rosie O’Donnell and Donald Trump are in a feud and war of words, it’s time to look at what they really do in the public forum.

Trump called Rosie “an animal” has hurled other epithets at her in the last day since O’Donnell baited him on “The View.” Trump’s sympathy level has since fallen.

But between these two prominent New Yorkers, I wondered: now that it’s Christmas time, who’s more charitable? Donald the self-proclaimed billionaire, or Rosie the talk show host and comic?

The answer: Rosie, as it turns out. Her For All the Kids Foundation gave away $1.9 million in 2004-2005 to children’s charities all over the United States. This is pretty remarkable, and something I didn’t know about it until I looked it up. The foundation benefits groups that help at risk kids, and even put a big chunk of change toward rebuilding a Head Start center in New York."

Cynthia Tucker: The true face of politics comes to light |

Cynthia Tucker's column in the AJC: "For a few decades now, a narrow view of Christianity has dominated the public square; it's a pinched theology obsessed with sexuality but also taking a variety of conservative positions —- such as opposition to tax hikes —- that don't seem to have much to do with the Gospel. The prophets of this hard-shell Christianity are men such as Jerry Falwell, James Dobson and Pat Robertson.

The good news of this Christmas season is this: Not only have those theocrats seen their political clout erode with Republican losses in the midterm elections, but their brand of Christianity is also losing its monopoly on the public square. Moderate-to-liberal Christians such as Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) have given voice to a competing theology, as have more conservative Christians such as evangelist Rick Warren. Indeed, some of the most energetic opponents of the Falwell-Dobson axis are other conservative believers who want to reclaim the traditional emphasis on helping the needy."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Media Matters - Most outrageous comments of 2006

Media Matters - Most outrageous comments of 2006: "How extreme were conservative commentators in their remarks this year? How about calls to nuke the Middle East and an allegation that a 'gay ... mafia' used the congressional page program as its own 'personal preserve.' Right-wing rhetoric documented by Media Matters for America included the nonsensical (including Rush Limbaugh's claim that America's 'obesity crisis' is caused by, among other things, our failure to 'teach [the poor] how to butcher a -- slaughter a cow to get the butter, we gave them the butter'), the offensive (such as right-wing pundit Debbie Schlussel's question about 'Barack Hussein Obama': is he 'a man we want as President when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where will his loyalties be?'), and the simply bizarre (such as William A. Donohue's claim that some Hollywood stars would 'sodomize their own mother in a movie'). Since there were so many outrageous statements, we included a list of honorable mentions along with the top 11, which, if not for Ann Coulter, we might have limited to 10."

Grahams' burial site becomes family battlefield |

Grahams' burial site becomes family battlefield | "It is a struggle worthy of the Old Testament, pitting brother against brother, son against mother, and leaving the famous father, the Rev. Billy Graham, trapped in the middle, pondering what to do.

Retired and almost blind at 88, the evangelist is sitting in his modest log house on an isolated mountaintop in western North Carolina and listening to a family friend describe where Franklin Graham, heir to his father's worldwide ministry, wants to bury his parents.

Billy's wife, Ruth Bell Graham, is listening too, curled up in a hospital bed on this bleak November evening. At 86 and 100 pounds, she suffers from degeneration of the spine, which keeps her in constant pain. On her left sits her younger son, Ned, 48, who has taken care of her and Billy for almost four years, and Ned's wife, Christina.

At this moment, everyone's attention is on the visitor, crime novelist Patricia Cornwell, who is talking about a memorial 'library' that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, headed by Franklin, is building in Charlotte. Cornwell toured the building site and saw the proposed burial plot. She was asked by Ned, who opposes Franklin's choice, to come and give his father her impression.

'I was horrified by what I saw,' she tells Billy, in the presence of a reporter invited to be there.

The building, designed in part by consultants who used to work for the Walt Disney Co., is not a library, she says, but a large barn and silo —- a reminder of Billy Graham's early childhood on a dairy farm near Charlotte. Once it's completed in the spring, visitors will pass through a 40-foot-high glass entry cut in the shape of a cross and be greeted by a mechanical talking cow. They will follow a path of straw through rooms full of multimedia exhibits. At the end of the tour, they will be pointed toward a stone walk, also in the shape of a cross, that leads to a garden where the bodies of Billy and Ruth Graham could lie."

Friday, December 22, 2006

AJC: Keep faiths attack-free |

OUR OPINIONS: Keep faiths attack-free | "U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.) claims to want to 'preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America,' but ranting about the election of the first Muslim-American to Congress was a strange and troubling way to do so.

Goode apparently forgot —- or conveniently chose to ignore —- the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of freedom of religion.

Goode's outburst was triggered by controversy about the plans of U.S. Rep.-elect Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) to use the Quran during an unofficial part of his oath-taking when he becomes a member of Congress next month."

Emerging From A Nightmare, CBS News' Kimberly Dozier

Emerging From A Nightmare, CBS News' Kimberly Dozier Reflects 6 Months After Surviving A Deadly Attack In Iraq - CBS News: "Six months and counting, from Memorial Day 2006 — a day that is for most people, a distant memory of a horrible headline: A CBS camera crew killed, together with yet another American soldier, and his Iraqi translator, by yet another car bomb in Baghdad. Six more soldiers were badly injured, along with one CBS correspondent — who happened to be a woman.

These months later, I know the pain must be as sharp and devastating as it was that day for the families of cameraman Paul Douglas, soundman James Brolan, 4th Infantry Division Capt. James Funkhouser and his Iraqi translator — all lost in an instant, killed by an act of evil."

'NY Times' Finally Publishes Op-Ed 'Redacted' by C.I.A.

'NY Times' Finally Publishes Op-Ed 'Redacted' by C.I.A.--Editor & Publisher: "For days, it was an open secret that The New York Times was holding an Op-Ed piece after the Central Intelligence Agency objected to publication of parts of it. It's written by Flynt Leverett, a former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council. and Hillary Mann, a former Foreign Service officer.

The Times finally published it Friday -- with sections literally blacked out. A full (redacted) version can be found at the paper's Web site, The intro/explanation by the authors follows.

Here is the redacted version of a draft Op-Ed article we wrote for The Times, as blacked out by the Central Intelligence Agency’s Publication Review Board after the White House intervened in the normal prepublication review process and demanded substantial deletions. Agency officials told us that they had concluded on their own that the original draft included no classified material, but that they had to bow to the White House."

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Kristol on Daily Show

2006 Media MVP: Colbert

2006: Media MVP - "Stephen Colbert seemed to be on everyone's year-end list, and for good reason: He filleted the president in public, coined a word ('truthiness') that seemed to capture America 2006 and gave Comedy Central the perfect nightcap to Jon Stewart's Daily Show — making him's first-ever Media MVP.

Colbert, ironically, beat the dudes behind his communal p.r. machine — YouTube — and Baron Cohen, whose ability to stay in character for what seemed to be the longest press junket in film history rivaled Colbert's."

Iran President Facing Revival of Students’ Ire - New York Times

Iran President Facing Revival of Students’ Ire - New York Times: "The student movement, which planned the 1979 seizure of the American Embassy from the same university, Amir Kabir, is reawakening from its recent slumber and may even be spearheading a widespread resistance against Mr. Ahmadinejad. This time the catalysts were academic and personal freedom.

“It is not that simple to break up a president’s speech,” said Alireza Siassirad, a former student political organizer, explaining that an event of that magnitude takes meticulous planning. “I think what happened at Amir Kabir is a very important and a dangerous sign. Students are definitely becoming active again.”

The protest, punctuated by shouts of “Death to the dictator,” was the first widely publicized outcry against Mr. Ahmadinejad, one that was reflected Friday in local elections, where voters turned out in droves to vote for his opponents.

The students’ complaints largely mirrored public frustrations over the president’s crackdown on civil liberties, his blundering economic policies and his harsh oratory against the West, which they fear will isolate the country."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sen. Johnson "will be OK" son says

Johnson's son says senator will be OK | "Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota, whose emergency brain surgery put the Democrats' hold on the incoming Senate in question, is expected to recover and return to work, his son said.

'That's the easiest question for me to answer,' Brendan Johnson told the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Argus-Leader. 'From my conversations with the doctors and based on the progress he has been making, I feel very confident that he is going to be getting back to work sooner rather than later.'

The interview with Brendan Johnson, a Sioux Falls lawyer, was the first time a family member had spoken with reporters since the senator was stricken with stroke-like symptoms Dec. 13.

Tim Johnson remained under sedation, in critical but stable condition, at George Washington University Hospital at the Capitol on Tuesday. 'The goal is for him to heal,' spokeswoman Julianne Fisher said. 'We're being patient and praying.'"

Monday, December 18, 2006

Protest at SMU Targets Bush Library

Texas Monthly: BurkaBlog: Protest at SMU Targets Bush Library: "The likelihood that the George W. Bush presidential library will be located at SMU has not been welcome news for at least one segment of the university community. A letter, dated December 16, from 'Faculty, Administrators, & Staff' of the Perkins School of Theology to R. Gerald Turner, president of the Board of Trustees, is now circulating not only on the SMU campus but also among a wider academic community, urging the board to 'reconsider and to rescind SMU's pursuit of the presidential library.'"

Pentagon: Attacks on troops rise in Iraq

Pentagon: Attacks on troops rise in Iraq - Yahoo! News: "Attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops and Iraqi civilians jumped sharply in recent months to the highest level since Iraq regained its sovereignty in June 2004, the
Pentagon told Congress on Monday in the latest indication of that country's spiraling violence.

In a report issued the same day Robert Gates took over as defense secretary, the Pentagon said that from mid-August to mid-November, the weekly average number of attacks increased 22 percent from the previous three months. The worst violence was in Baghdad and in the western province of Anbar, long the focus of activity by Sunni insurgents."

NYT: Air America Update

After Bankruptcy Filing, Recriminations Fly at Air America - New York Times: "At Air America, business and politics always mixed, and that was the problem, critics contend. Begun with an onslaught of publicity in spring 2004 as an alternative to right-wing talk radio, the network is given some of the credit by its supporters for having helped achieve the Democrats’ Congressional election victory in November.

Detractors label the liberal network’s programming as combative, one-note and emotional. At least its business dealings seem to fit that last description. Even before Air America and its corporate parent, Piquant L.L.C., sought bankruptcy protection on Oct. 13, its management was engulfed in a series of financial crises. The search for new investors and managers has been marred by infighting among those who want the network to succeed, according to people in the organization.

In recent weeks, Air America, which has its headquarters in New York and reaches about 2.4 million listeners weekly, has suffered the defection of a handful of its more than 80 affiliated stations and soon faces the likely departure of its most visible host, Al Franken, even as it cobbles together a plan to emerge from Chapter 11.

A possible solution surfaced on Friday."

Tucker: Treat Obama with respect: Be hard on him

Cynthia Tucker: Treat Obama with respect: Be hard on him | "The best news for Barack Obama's presidential aspirations is a little recent negative press: Accounts of his dealings with a shady real estate developer —- stories previously limited to Chicago newspapers and broadcast outlets —- have begun seeping into national news reports. That means the junior senator from Illinois is no longer regarded merely as a fascinating side show, a black prodigy with an interesting background. He's being taken seriously as a possible presidential candidate.

As he postures for a possible run for the Democratic nomination, there is nothing better for Obama than having journalists treat him just like everybody else. That means he'll endure a searing scrutiny that obliterates any zone of privacy, for himself and his family; his slightest missteps will be magnified.

That's how white candidates are treated when they're taken seriously. Journalists give presidential contenders —- or at least the ones thought to have a serious shot at winning —- a thorough vetting. Reporters rummage around in their finances, their voting records, their college book reports. They scrutinize candidates' physical and mental health, their children, their siblings, their religious affiliations. (If you're a political junkie like me, you've already heard the speculation that outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a likely contender for the GOP nomination and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, wears special Mormon underwear.) Obama should expect nothing less."

How religious beliefs shape today's issues |

How religious beliefs shape today's issues - op-ed by Rebeca Chapa at "...For too long, hard-line Christian conservatives have dominated the national political agenda by focusing on inflammatory issues such as abortion, evolution, gay marriage and stem cell research.

None of these issues is unimportant or easy. Nor should they be, for they force us to face the very nature of human life, how it came to be and what it means to be alive.

Yet reliance solely on biblical Scripture transforms these issues into easy, black-and-white ones. Rather than mine the complexities of human sexuality or consider the human context of Scripture, it's easier to point to Leviticus 18 or the first three books of Genesis and close the mind to deeper understanding.

Recently, Rabbi Melissa Weintraub of Rabbis for Human Rights spoke to a group at St. Mary's University in San Antonio. A serene speaker with clarity of diction, Weintraub addressed a question that applies to many from different religions, backgrounds and philosophies.

Why do we all think we're right?

The Torah and the Bible are complex texts, she said, and any 'holy war' is really a battle over their meaning —- hermeneutical jousting, to use her term."

AJC: More Brits going to church

Churchgoing tied to British identity - "In a country with a growing Muslim population, many Britons are grappling with what it means to be British.

As a result, experts say, many are returning to the Church of England's grand cathedrals and small parish churches as Christmas approaches.

St. Paul's Cathedral and Canterbury Cathedral among others have had to turn people away and so are adding extra services this year to meet the demand.

The resurgence of churchgoing has more to do with a desire for national identity than a religious awakening, social and religious analysts say.

'It seems to me that there is in the UK at the moment a higher level of interest in Christianity, prompted by the national debate about multiculturalism and an increased awareness that many of our fellow citizens feel passionately about another religion —- Islam,' said Jill Kirby, a policy analyst at the Center for Policy Studies, a conservative-leaning research group.

'This has led to a quest for reassurance coupled with a desire to identify more closely with our own religious norms and traditions,' she said."

U.S. forces 'losing' in Iraq, Powell says

U.S. forces 'losing' in Iraq, Powell says - International Herald Tribune: "The former secretary of state Colin Powell said Sunday that badly overstretched U.S. forces in Iraq were losing the war there and that a temporary U.S. troop surge probably would not help.

In one of his few commentaries on the war since leaving office, Powell quickly added that the situation could be reversed. He recommended an intense coalition effort to train and support Iraqi security forces and strengthen the government in Baghdad. Powell was deeply skeptical about increasing troop levels, an idea that appears to be gaining ground as President George W. Bush weighs U.S. strategy options.

'There really are no additional troops' to send, Powell said, adding that he agreed with those who say that the U.S. Army is 'about broken.'

He said he was unsure that new troops could suppress sectarian violence or secure Baghdad.

He urged the United States to do everything possible to prepare Iraqis to take over lead responsibility; the 'baton pass,' he said, should begin by mid-2007."

Sunday, December 17, 2006

ENS: Virginia churches bolt; now what?

Episcopal News Service: "Bishop Peter Lee of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia said December 17 that he was saddened by the fact that, as of that afternoon, Nigerian and Ugandan congregations were 'occupying Episcopal churches.'

Lee's statement came as eight of Virginia's 195 congregations announced that their members had voted to sever ties with the Episcopal Church and affiliate with the Anglican Church of Uganda or the Anglican Church of Nigeria by way of the Anglican District of Virginia, part of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA). The members of the eight congregations amount to about 8,000 of the diocese's roughly 90,000 Episcopalians.

The Episcopal Church includes some 7,200 congregations in its 100 domestic dioceses, and about 150 in its 10 overseas dioceses and one convocation."

2006 White House BarneyCam - Daily Show Recut

Crooks and Liars - 2006 White House BarneyCam - Daily Show Recut: "The Daily Show puts a humorous (and sobering) spin on the annual BarneyCam White House Holiday Extravaganza video." Watch here!

Episcopalians Are Reaching Point of Revolt - New York Times

Episcopalians Are Reaching Point of Revolt - New York Times: "For about 30 years, the Episcopal Church has been one big unhappy family. Under one roof there were female bishops and male bishops who would not ordain women. There were parishes that celebrated gay weddings and parishes that denounced them; theologians sure that Jesus was the only route to salvation, and theologians who disagreed.

Now, after years of threats, the family is breaking up.

As many as eight conservative Episcopal churches in Virginia are expected to announce today that their parishioners have voted to cut their ties with the Episcopal Church. Two are large, historic congregations that minister to the Washington elite and occupy real estate worth a combined $27 million, which could result in a legal battle over who keeps the property.

In a twist, these wealthy American congregations are essentially putting themselves up for adoption by Anglican archbishops in poorer dioceses in Africa, Asia and Latin America who share conservative theological views about homosexuality and the interpretation of Scripture with the breakaway Americans."

The power hungry conservatives are the ones rocking the boat, and wanting to change the rules. Good riddance.

'You' named Time's person of 2006

BBC NEWS: 'You' named Time's person of 2006: "'You' have been named as Time magazine's Person of the Year for the growth and influence of user-generated content on the internet.

The US magazine praised the public for 'seizing the reins of the global media' and filling the web's virtual world.

Time has been giving its controversial awards since 1927, aiming to identify those who most affect the news.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Chinese leader Hu Jintao and North Korea's Kim Jong-il were 2006 runners."

It seems to me this ignores some rather major change agents this year, politically speaking.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Raw: Columnist suggests Bush could use Lieberman to change Senate's balance

The Raw Story | Columnist suggests Bush could use Lieberman to change Senate's balance: "While much of Washington kept rapt attention on the health of Democratic Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota, an article in Salon today speculated that President George W. Bush could tip the Senate to a Republican majority via other means -- namely, appointing Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut to be America's next Ambassador to the UN.

Salon political columnist Joe Conason notes that if Lieberman were to leave the Senate, Connecticut's Republican Governor would be able to appoint a Republican to fill his seat. Knowing this, Conason reasons, the White House could use the enticement of the UN posting as a means to encourage Lieberman to exit the US Senate.

Conason acknowledges that Lieberman, having fought so hard to keep his seat, is unlikely to give it up. But he points out that Lieberman was a candidate for the job of UN Ambassador at an earlier time. And, he also suggests that the move could be used to put Lieberman on course to be the Vice Presidential candidate on a ticket with John McCain in 2008."

ABC News: Army Captain's Simple Demonstration: How to Win in Iraq

ABC News: Army Captain's Simple Demonstration: How to Win in Iraq: "A young captain serving in Iraq's violent Al Anbar Province has offered a simple explanation of what the problem was in Iraq and how to solve it. Among his observations is the importance of having a moustache in Iraq.

In a military known for its sleep-inducing, graphically dizzying PowerPoint presentations, the young captain's presentation, which has been unofficially circulating through the ranks, stands out. Using stick figures and simple language, it articulates the same goal as the president's in Iraq.

The creator of this PowerPoint presentation, 'How to Win in Al Anbar,' was Capt. Travis Patriquin.

But Patriquin will not see victory in Iraq. He was killed by the same improvised explosive device that killed Maj. Megan McClung of the Marine Corps last Wednesday."

Check out the presentation at

Bayh rules out White House bid

Bayh rules out White House bid in 2008 - Yahoo! News: "Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana will not seek the presidency in 2008, saying he believes the odds of a successful run were too great to overcome."

AMERICAblog: Creepy news about our lack of privacy

AMERICAblog: John pulls together a couple of interesting article and comes to some very startling conclusions: "...your privacy is gone. They can turn your cell phone into a bug, and they don't even have to touch it to set it up. They can beam the bug instructions into your phone so that even when your phone looks off, it's picking up everything going on around you.

Second, Macromedia Flash Player software on your computer, and most of us have it, can permit other Web sites to watch you and listen to you via your cam and microphone. And sure, you have to click the screen in order to let the site eavesdrop on you, but what if someone gets a hold of your computer while your out (a colleague, the cleaning lady, your kids, a battering spouse, the government) and clicks it for you? Or, what if someone sends malicious software to your computer that auto-clicks it for you - we know there's software that can do that."

Check out the links.

Friday, December 15, 2006

TP: Sen. Johnson Update

Think Progress: Admiral John Eisold, Attending Physician of the United States Capitol said, “Senator Tim Johnson has continued to have an uncomplicated post-operative course. Specifically, he has been appropriately responsive to both word and touch. No further surgical intervention has been required.” We'll keep praying for him.

C&L: Olbermann: Tony Snow: “I don’t know”

Crooks and Liars � Tony Snow: “I don’t know”: "Tony Snow is starting to melt from the pressure under this administration. Didn't he say he'd be in the loop once in a while?" C&L has video from Olbermann's segment and links to a Froomkin piece.

Dobson's anti-gay TIME piece attacked by researchers has the scoop (hat tip AmericaBlog) by researchers of some of the studies Dobson abused in his piece, as well as pointing out some borrowing: "I think the folks over at Time realized they screwed up, providing an outlet for the poisonous hypocrisy of James Dobson. This evening they gave Jennifer Chrisler of the Family Pride Coalition a chance to ... shall we say ... provide some balance." Take a moment to read through the several interesting posts here, which indicate that Dobson (and others like him) will do and say anything to support his unsupportable views.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Group seeks probe of evangelical military video

Group seeks probe of evangelical military video - Reuters (and I heard a piece on this on this evening's "All Things Considered": "A watchdog group that promotes religious freedom in the U.S. military accused senior officers on Monday using their rank and influence to coerce soldiers and airmen into adopting evangelical Christianity.

Such proselytizing, according to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has created a core of 'radical' Christians within the U.S. armed forces and
Pentagon who punish those who do not accept evangelical beliefs by stalling their careers.

'It's egregious beyond the pale,' said Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. 'We apparently have a radicalized, evangelical Christian Pentagon within the rest of the Pentagon.'

The group asked the Pentagon's inspector general to investigate a video in which some Army and Air Force officers discuss their faith while in uniform.

According to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the video played for reporters was a promotional tool for Christian Embassy, a group that describes itself as a ministry helping national and international leaders blend faith and work."

AP: Iraq President Lashes Out at Study Group

My Way News - Iraq President Lashes Out at Study Group: "The Iraqi president on Sunday sharply criticized the bipartisan U.S. report calling for a new approach to the war, saying it contained dangerous recommendations that would undermine his country's sovereignty and were 'an insult to the people of Iraq.'

President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd and one of the staunchest U.S. supporters within the Iraqi leadership, also said U.S. training of Iraq's army and police had gone 'from failure to failure.'

He criticized the recommendation by the Iraq Study Group calling for increasing the number of U.S. troops embedded with Iraqi units to train Iraq's forces from 3,000 to 4,000 currently to 10,000 to 20,000.

'It is not respecting the desire of the Iraqi people to control its army and to be able to rearm and train Iraqi forces under the leadership of the Iraqi government,' he said during an interview with several reporters in his office in Baghdad."

Democrats frustrated by Bush's reaction to Iraq report

McClatchy Washington Bureau reports on a meeting of Senators with President Bush (h/t Think Progress): "'I just didn't feel there today, the president in his words or his demeanor, that he is going to do anything right away to change things drastically,' Senate Majority Leader-elect Harry Reid, D-Nev., said following the Oval Office meeting. 'He is tepid in what he talks about doing. Someone has to get the message to this man that there have to be significant changes.'

Instead, Bush began his talk by comparing himself to President Harry S Truman, who launched the Truman Doctrine to fight communism, got bogged down in the Korean War and left office unpopular.

Bush said that 'in years to come they realized he was right and then his doctrine became the standard for America,' recalled Senate Majority Whip-elect Richard Durbin, D-Ill. 'He's trying to position himself in history and to justify those who continue to stand by him, saying sometimes if you're right you're unpopular, and be prepared for criticism.'

Durbin said he challenged Bush's analogy, reminding him that Truman had the NATO alliance behind him and negotiated with his enemies at the United Nations. Durbin said that's what the Iraq Study Group is recommending that Bush do now - work more with allies and negotiate with adversaries on Iraq.

Bush, Durbin said, 'reacted very strongly. He got very animated in his response' and emphasized that he is 'the commander in chief.'"

HuffPo: Latest rumors on Air America and Franken

Eat The Press | The Huffington Post: "Rumors continue to swirl that Al Franken is leaving Air America Radio, with the latest being today's report from Radar's John Cook that Franken will be cutting and running 'before the end of the year,' which is sort of now-ish. Franken will be leaving on a USO tour of Iraq and Afghanistan — his sixth to date — and isn't sure whether he'll be back on the show when he returns, telling Cook 'It's not set in stone--I need to see what they're talking about.'

This, of course, is not the first time that Franken's possible departure from Air America has been raised. Last month, conservative blogger Brian Maloney Radio Equalizer reported a rumor that Franken was leaving, with his last show set for today. The speculation has continued since then, especially with the fate of Air America unknown as it tries to find a buyer to take it back from bankruptcy. The bankruptcy court deadline to show that a bona fide buyer has legitimate plans to purchase the network — twice extended — is today. The station filed for bankruptcy in October and has $2.6 million loans outstanding, including $360,749.98 owed to Franken, according to Radar. Both Radar and Radio Equalizer report that a buyer has been found, with Radar reporting the imminent sale to 'a small media company' and Radio Equalizer reporting that the network is being bought up by a group headed by former boardmember Doug Kreeger which includes Showtime execs Mark Greenberg and Roy Langbord, with a takeover set for January. Either way, the sale raises questions on how to afford Air America's two top stars, Franken and Randi Rhodes, though if Franken officially declares an intention to run for the Senate representing his homestate of Minnesota, the question may officially become moot."

HuffPo: Newsweek's Darfur images hard to ignore

Eat The Press | The Huffington Post: "Newsweek has ventured into sort of different territory with this video slideshow featuring photos from Darfur, taken by Newsweek photographer Jan Grarup, set against the song 'Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)'by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, a rather efficient combination of newspegs in Darfur, the holiday season and the anniversary of Lennon's death (the video was posted on Friday, December 8th)."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Obama Draws Crowds in New Hampshire

My Way - AP - Obama Draws Crowds in New Hampshire: "Illinois Sen. Barack Obama drew large crowds curious about his presidential prospects during his first trip to the pivotal campaign state of New Hampshire while he decides whether to enter the Democratic race.

Several hundred New Hampshire voters turned out to hear Obama speak at a signing for his best-selling book, 'Audacity of Hope,' where he didn't mention the presidential race but spoke about a new political spirit to unite Americans and solve their problems.

New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary is over a year away and Obama hasn't even said whether or not he will join the Democratic field vying for the nomination. But he's already igniting excitement with his exploratory trip."

109th Congress a dud, critics say |

109th Congress a dud, critics say | "The 109th Congress slipped into history Saturday as one of the most unpopular and least effective since the 80th Congress that Harry Truman reviled as 'do nothing' in his famous 1948 underdog campaign for president.

'What would Harry Truman say about the 109th Congress? Harry Truman would probably apologize to the 80th Congress,' quipped Norm Ornstein, a political analyst at the American Enterprise Institute.

'I would say the 109th went out of town not with a bang but a whimper,' he added, 'but that would be an insult to whimperers everywhere.'

The GOP-led 109th, which passed a flurry of trade and tax legislation before adjourning, did claim some successes. In his farewell address Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) cited three major accomplishments: $15 billion for a global fight against HIV-AIDS, a new Medicare prescription drug benefit and confirmation of Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Sam Alito.


Religion for a Captive Audience, Paid For by Taxes - New York Times

Religion for a Captive Audience, Paid For by Taxes - New York Times: "Since 2000, courts have cited more than a dozen programs for having unconstitutionally used taxpayer money to pay for religious activities or evangelism aimed at prisoners, recovering addicts, job seekers, teenagers and children.

Nevertheless, the programs are proliferating. For example, the Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest prison management company, with 65 facilities and 71,000 inmates under its control, is substantially expanding its religion-based curriculum and now has 22 institutions offering residential programs similar to the one in Iowa. And the federal Bureau of Prisons, which runs at least five multifaith programs at its facilities, is preparing to seek bids for a single-faith prison program as well.

Government agencies have been repeatedly cited by judges and government auditors for not doing enough to guard against taxpayer-financed evangelism. But some constitutional lawyers say new federal rules may bar the government from imposing any special requirements for how faith-based programs are audited."

Friday, December 08, 2006

Letterman: Dick Cheney - "That's Funny!"

Dana Milbank - In Theater of War, It's Iraq Study Group's Turn to Take the Stage -

Dana Milbank - In Theater of War, It's Iraq Study Group's Turn to Take the Stage - "Minutes after the Iraq Study Group placed an improvised explosive device beneath the Bush administration's Iraq policy yesterday, panel member Lawrence Eagleburger was asked how President Bush reacted to the recommendations.

'His reaction was, 'Where's my drink?' ' the former secretary of state cracked after the commission's White House visit and Capitol Hill news conference. Reaching for his own cola, Eagleburger continued: 'He was a little loaded. It was early in the morning, too, you know.'

The retired diplomat certainly did not mean that the president had fallen off the wagon. But if any event would call for a stiff one, this was it: A bipartisan group of elder statesmen -- some of them friends of Bush's father, no less -- had just concluded that the Iraq war, the centerpiece of Bush's presidency, was a disaster with no easy way out."

MyDD : McCain hires shady campaign manager

MyDD : "John McCain just hired the worst man in the world to run his campaign, Terry Nelson. Nelson was an unindicted co-conspirator in the TRMPAC scandal as a key point of contact between Tom Delay and the RNC. He was James Tobin's boss during the 2002 New Hampshire phone-jamming scandal, for which Tobin was convicted. He also worked at the head of opposition research for the NRCC this cycle, where robocalls from Republicans pretending to be Democrats were the norm all over the country. Nelson also produced the racist bimbo ad against Harold Ford."

BBC: ISG report isn't "fruit salad"

BBC NEWS | Americas | Bush 'must adopt all Iraq plan': "The main authors of the report that aims to change US strategy in Iraq have urged President George Bush to follow all of their recommendations.

Former Secretary of State James Baker said the 79 points they put forward were not a 'fruit salad' to be picked over, but a comprehensive strategy.

Mr Bush has said that he would 'seriously consider' the report.

However, he appears already to have ruled out some proposals, like talking unconditionally to Syria and Iran.

He also appeared to rule out the the phasing out of the US combat role in Iraq.

The Iraq Study Group's assessment of US policy in Iraq was scathing, saying the situation there is 'deteriorating' and warning that 'time is running out'.

After meeting British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday, Mr Bush admitted the approach to Iraq and the Middle East needed to change."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

C&L: Feingold on the ISG report

Crooks and Liars - Feingold Cuts Through The ISG Hype on Countdown: "Feingold said what I have felt all day. This report does not give us a clear path in Iraq and leaves the future of the war up in the air. Even worse is the fact that we have lost 10 more soldiers today and the administration needs more time to figure out what to do. Iraq sure doesn't need more time to slip into anarchy - it gets worse by the day." Check out the video.

Conservative Jews Allow Gay Rabbis and Unions - New York Times

Conservative Jews Allow Gay Rabbis and Unions - New York Times: "The highest legal body in Conservative Judaism, the centrist movement in worldwide Jewry, voted yesterday to allow the ordination of gay rabbis and the celebration of same-sex commitment ceremonies."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Panel: Try diplomacy in Iraq, then leave

Panel: Try diplomacy in Iraq, then leave - AP: "The United States faces a 'grave and deteriorating' situation after nearly four years of war in Iraq, a high-level commission warned bluntly on Wednesday, prodding President Bush to launch a diplomatic offensive to stabilize the country and allow withdrawal of most combat troops by early 2008.

'There is no path that can guarantee success, but the prospects can be improved,' the commission said after its review of a war that has taken the lives of more than 2,900 U.S. troops and grown so unpopular at home that it helped trigger a Democratic takeover of Congress in last month's elections.

The commission recommended the United States reduce 'political, military or economic support' for Iraq if the government in Baghdad cannot make substantial progress toward providing for its own security. Portions of the report were obtained by The Associated Press."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tony Snow: Bush Disagrees With Gates, Says We Are 'Winning'

Tony Snow: Bush Disagrees With Gates, Says We Are 'Winning': "At today's meeting with reporters at the White House, the major topics for Press Secretary Tony Snow, as expected, were the pending release of the Iraq Study Group's report -- and today's surprise, the admission by Robert Gates, at his confirmation hearings as new Pentagon chief, that the U.S., indeed, is not winning the war in Iraq.

Snow said that, as far as he knows, the president has not backed away from his recent statement that the U.S. is actually 'winning' in Iraq. He also suggested that Gates, elsewhere in his testimony, seemed to say that maybe we weren't losing and we weren't winning. And he charged that the press was being too negative about all this: 'What I think is demoralizing is a constant effort to try to portray this as a losing mission,' he said.

He was also pushed on the question of the Iraq conflict turning into a civil war -- which he seriously questioned. 'Well, I think one of the dangers is that civil war had been used in a political context,' he said. 'It's interesting -- what intervened other than an election to get people to change the label?'

A reporter shot back: 'The violence got worse, I suppose.'"

Kuo: Dr. Dobson, Tear Down that Dishonest Article on Your Website

The Blog - The Huffington Post: "There is a new article on the Focus on the Family website called, 'Tempting Bitterness' by Gary Schneeburger, editor of something called Citizenlink. In a way it is nothing new - just an attack on me and a distortion of my book, Tempting Faith. It is significant, however, because of the source.

Focus on the Family, founded and chaired by Dr. Dobson is arguably the largest and most significant Christian political/cultural organization (even if it denies being political). More importantly, it speaks to millions of Christians who trust it to be true. Dr. Dobson rightly focuses a lot on integrity. This article is anything but. For purposes of this blog I am going to deal only with the substance and leave out the snide asides in the article."

Daily Kos: John Murtha One Year Later

Daily Kos: John Murtha One Year Later. BarbinMD has an interesting diary comparing Murtha a year ago with the realities of today.

Losing the Good War - New York Times

Losing the Good War - New York Times: "Afghanistan was supposed to be the good war — and the war America was winning. But because of the Bush administration’s inattention and mismanagement, even the good war is going wrong.

The latest grim news is that after years of effort — and more than $1 billion spent — Afghanistan’s American-trained police force is unable to perform even routine law enforcement work. According to an article in yesterday’s Times, investigators for the Pentagon and the State Department found that the training program’s managers did not even know how many police officers were serving, while thousands of trucks and other American-purchased police equipment have simply disappeared.

The failure to provide local security — or even a semblance of impartial justice — helps explain why so many Afghans have lost confidence in the pro-Western government of President Hamid Karzai, and why a growing number are again turning to the Taliban for protection. The failure to stand up an effective police force also helps explain why opium cultivation rose by nearly 60 percent this year."

Monday, December 04, 2006

BBC: Bolton out at UN

BBC NEWS: Controversial US envoy quits post: "The controversial US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, is to leave his post, the White House says.

Mr Bolton looked unable to win the necessary Senate support for him to continue in the job, which he had obtained on a temporary basis.

Critics have questioned factors including his abrasive style at the UN.

Mr Bolton's move comes after US defence chief Donald Rumsfeld resigned following the Republican defeat in last month's mid-term elections.

The incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Senator Joe Biden, said he saw 'no point in considering Mr Bolton's nomination again'.

The White House said President George W Bush had 'reluctantly' accepted Mr Bolton's move to step down at the end of the current Congress session in January."

DKos: Bush DID KNOW that Webb's son was almost killed!

Daily Kos (hcc in VA): Bush DID KNOW that Webb's son was almost killed!: "Tonight ...I had the opportunity to chat with Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va 8th district) in private before he publicly addressed the group. I recounted how proud I was of Webb's actions in front of Bush, and recounted the speculation on whether Bush could possibly have known about the incident with Webb's son. He said, without hesitation:

'Not only did Bush know about it, he was specifically briefed on the incident before meeting with Webb, and was cautioned to be extra sensitive in speaking with Webb about his son.'

Just to make sure, I said: 'Wow, I guess not too many people know about this,' and he said: 'That's right they don't, but I know it's true, and there are lots of things people don't know about that would surprise them'

So there we are folks. The right wing columnists of the ilk of George Will call Webb a 'boor,' uncivil, etc., while in reality, it is there hero, George W. Bush, who is now revealed to be the boorest of the boors, the lowest of the lows, the crudest of the crude. I hope he gets his due punishment in hell, or the International Court of Justice in The Hague, whichever comes first."

C&L: Gergen: Press was guilty of “cheerleading” the run up to the war.

Crooks and Liars - Gergen: Press was guilty of “cheerleading” the run up to the war.: "On Reliable Sources today, David Gergen admitted what many of us crazy f*&king hippies have been saying all along now—that the press didn't do their job and failed the American people in the run up to the war in Iraq. The thought that they were being unpatriotic if they didn't help promote war sends a chill down my spine. (video coming soon)

GERGEN: Yes, I do. I think Nick Kristof is bright on this. But I must tell you that the pendulum has swung on this. There was a sense, in the lead-up to the war, in which the press, I think, was guilty of cheerleading. We were waving the flags and it was almost unpatriotic to question the possibility of war with Iraq. And then during the time of the invasion itself, when the reporters were embedded, you know, many of them fell in love with the military and I think they reported very accurately. "

Religious right refines its tune

Religious right refines its tune - William McKenzie, Dallas Morning News op-ed at "The Rev. Ted Haggard has fallen. Ralph Reed has lost his mojo. The exit light's on for Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. So who are the religious right's next leaders?

That's why I came to this rural town that is now becoming a Fort Worth bedroom community. Here is where I found David Barton, whom Texas Monthly recently christened 'King of the Christocrats.'

I sought him out because he's on the next wave. And it's important to know what people in his position think, if only so you can argue back.

A thin, energetic 52-year-old Texan who prefers checkered shirts and blue jeans, Barton spent the midterm elections consulting with Republican candidates and promoting his gospel that America's founders didn't intend for religion to hide behind a wall that separates church and state.


Bush May End Drilling Ban in Alaskan Bay |

Bush May End Drilling Ban in Alaskan Bay | "President Bush is deciding whether to lift a ban on oil and gas drilling in federal waters off Alaska's Bristol Bay, home to endangered whales and sea lions and the world's largest sockeye salmon run.

Leasing in a portion of the area rich in oil and natural gas ended nearly two decades ago — while Bush's father was president — in the outcry after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989.

But with natural gas prices higher, the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service proposed reopening up the North Aleutian Basin. That includes Bristol Bay and part of southeastern Bering Sea.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel confirmed Saturday the president was considering taking that step."

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Russert Fed Up

Russert Fed Up: Pins Hadley To The Wall... | The Huffington Post: "Bush National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley appeared on NBC's Meet The Press Sunday morning. Host Time Russert confronted Hadley about a memo by outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that was leaked over the weekend. The latest leaked memo appears to have been the last straw for Russert, whose frustration was palpable as he bluntly listed the numerous aspects of the war about which the Bush administration has been wrong."

In memo, Rumsfeld called for major change in Iraq policy |

In memo, Rumsfeld called for major change in Iraq policy |

Two days before he resigned as defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld submitted a classified memo to the White House that acknowledged that the Bush administration's strategy in Iraq was not working and called for a major course correction.

"In my view it is time for a major adjustment," wrote Rumsfeld, who has been a symbol of a dogged stay-the-course policy. "Clearly, what U.S. forces are currently doing in Iraq is not working well enough or fast enough."

Rumsfeld's memo suggests frustration with the pace of turning over responsibility to the Iraqi authorities and calls for examination of ideas that roughly parallel troop withdrawal proposals presented by some of the White House's sharpest Democratic critics.

The memo's discussion of possible troop reduction options offers a counterpoint to Rumsfeld's frequent public suggestions that discussions about force levels are driven by requests from U.S. military commanders. Instead, the memo puts on the table several ideas for troop redeployments or withdrawals that appear to conflict with recent public pronouncements from commanders in Iraq emphasizing the need to maintain troop levels.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

He's The Worst Ever -

He's The Worst Ever - OpEd at "Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt always figure in the 'great' category. Most presidents are ranked 'average' or, to put it less charitably, mediocre. Johnson, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Richard M. Nixon occupy the bottom rung, and now President Bush is a leading contender to join them. A look at history, as well as Bush's policies, explains why."

Dems give Jim Wallis response slot

Democrats tap religious leader for radio talk: "Democrats turned to an evangelical Christian to give their weekly radio address on Saturday, citing a desire to avoid partisanship after last month's elections that gave them control of Congress.

'I want to be clear that I am not speaking for the Democratic Party, but as a person of faith who feels the hunger in America for a new vision of our life together, and sees the opportunity to apply our best moral values to the urgent problems we face,' the Rev. Jim Wallis said in his remarks.

Wallis, author of 2005's 'God's Politics: Why the Right Gets it Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It,' highlighted issues that he said required a new direction, including U.S. policy in
Iraq. He also called for new efforts to combat poverty and protect the environment.

'We need serious solutions, not the scapegoating of others,' Wallis said. 'The path of partisan division is well worn, but the road of compassionate priorities and social justice will lead us to a new America.'"

HuffPo: Kuo responds to Dobson and Colson

The Blog | David Kuo: Dear Jim and Chuck | The Huffington Post: "Jim, Chuck, I welcome an honest debate or a discussion on these points, but also ask that you cease misrepresenting what I have written. Because what I find most alarming about your comments is that you both seem either incapable or unwilling to examine matters of faith because of how they might harm your political positions."

Friday, December 01, 2006

'On Faith' Conversations Shed Light on Religion

'On Faith' - "Newsweek Magazine and The Washington Post created a new online interfaith dialogue 'On Faith' featuring opinions from some of the nation's top evangelical leaders and other religious heads.

Launched earlier this month, 'On Faith' features conversations on religion with more than 60 panelists, including Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church; Madeleine Albright, the first woman Secretary of State; evangelist Luis Palau, head of the Luis Palau Association; and Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

The new dialogue comes out of a continued fascination on religion that is most pervasive yet least understood, as the makers of 'On Faith' stated.

'When I began talking about religion to people in Washington, normally a very cynical town, I was surprised at how interested they were and how much they wanted to talk about it,' said Sally Quinn, a reporter with The Washington Post. 'It was that continued fascination with the subject that led me and Jon to this conversation online.'

Quinn and Jon Meacham, editor of Newsweek Magazine, opened a new way to talk about religion – shedding light rather than generating heat – from a wide spectrum of viewpoints. Questions are posted at least once a week which then generate response from the panel of distinguished figures as well as readers.

TPM: Anti-Muslim Assault on Democratic Congressman

Anti-Muslim Assault on Democratic Congressman | TPMCafe: "t didn't take long for the bigots to come after Rep.-Elect Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota). Ellison is an African-American and the first Muslim to be elected to Congress. Yesterday, Dennis Prager, the far-right Jewish talk-show host, attacked Ellison because the young Muslim wants to take his oath of office on a Quran and not on the Christian Bible. Prager went ballistic, sayng “he should not be allowed to do so.” Prager said that 'the Bible is America's holiest book. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress.”

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The fact is that Members of Congress do not hold any book when they are sworn in. They simply gather in the House chamber and are sworn in en masse. Prager is referring to the private non-official swearing in ceremonies some Members stage essentially as a photo op.

Nevertheless, it is the thought that counts and Prager's is damn ugly. In fact, Prager's attack resulted in hundreds of ugly and sometimes threatening calls to Ellison's home and office.

Welcome to Congress, Congressman."

Sun Times Columnist: Obama is going to go for it

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Obama is going to go for it: "Bottom line: I think Sen. Barack Obama, who is seriously considering a run for president, is going to jump into the 2008 race. I predict the freshman Illinois Democrat will announce near the end of this year or the beginning of 2007, sometime after he returns from a holiday break in his native Hawaii. Here's what's on Obama's to-do list..."