The blog of Frederick Clarkson

Archive for September, 2007

What Happened at the Sessions on the Religious Right at the Yearly Kos

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Over at Talk to Action, Ann Rose reports on the two sessions on the religious right I organized with Chip Berlet and Susan Thistlethwaite:

There are several reasons why these sessions were significant. One is that serious discussions about the religious right are rare at big political conferences. Another is that when they do take place, they are usually marked by some good information and analysis and scary stories, but what to do is often crammed into off the cuff remarks in the Q&A or appeals to support the organization of the speaker. What was done at YearlyKos was to have a first panel discussing the dynamics of the religious right, and then a second one focused solely on what to do about the religious right. To my knowledge, that has never been done before.

Much more (with pics!).

Written by fred

September 25th, 2007 at 9:40 pm

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Theocrat of the Week

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When Our Distinguished Panel of Judges convened to consider several weeks’ worth of worthy candidates for Theocrat of the Week — they were most impressed by a recent covert theocratic act by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA).

Readers may recall that Vitter has been previously recognized by Our Distinguished Panel of Judges for having overcome tremendous obstacles to theocratic action when he returned to the Senate to conduct theocratic business as usual — even after having been exposed as a consumer of the services of Bourbon Street prostitutes.

The personal moral code of a theocratic polititian need not be consistent with his public policy goals. His theocratic backers can forgive him his sins — as long as he continues to work, as he has, to form a more theocratic union.

Our Distinguished Panel of Judges believes that Senator Vitter merits his co-Theocrat of the Week award for having overcome (so far) the extraordinary humiliation of exposure of his double life — to return to the Senate and continue with theocratic business as usual.

Our Distinguished Panel of Judges takes great satisfaction in seeing that their confidence in Sen. Vitter was not misplaced. Indeed, even though he lacks a theocratic majority in the Senate, he remains undeterred.

The theocratic act that caught the attention of Our Distinguished Panel of Judges appeared right on the front page of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.  

WASHINGTON — Sen. David Vitter, R-La., earmarked $100,000 in a spending bill for a Louisiana Christian group that has challenged the teaching of Darwinian evolution in the public school system and to which he has political ties.

The money is included in the labor, health and education financing bill for fiscal 2008 and specifies payment to the Louisiana Family Forum “to develop a plan to promote better science education.”

The earmark appears to be the latest salvo in a decades-long battle over science education in Louisiana, in which some Christian groups have opposed the teaching of evolution and, more recently, have pushed to have it prominently labeled as a theory with other alternatives presented. Educators and others have decried the movement as a backdoor effort to inject religious teachings into the classroom.

The nonprofit Louisiana Family Forum, launched in Baton Rouge in 1999 by former state Rep. Tony Perkins, has in recent years taken the lead in promoting “origins science,” which includes the possibility of divine intervention in the creation of the universe.

The group’s stated mission is to “persuasively present biblical principles in the centers of influence on issues affecting the family through research, communication and networking.” Until recently, its Web site contained a “battle plan to combat evolution,” which called the theory a “dangerous” concept that “has no place in the classroom.” The document was removed after a reporter’s inquiry.

The article does not, however, give credit where credit is due, in that the Louisiana Family Forum is the state affiliate of Focus on the Family.

There is also some interesting history there, on which Our Distinguished Panel of Judges wishes not to dwell.

Much more.

Written by fred

September 24th, 2007 at 12:51 am

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Rev. Moon’s Worcester, MA-based handgun manufacturing company is part of a world-wide web of intrigue

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The October issue of Portfolio Magazine has a detailed story about the Worcester, MA-based gun manufacturing empire of Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

Kahr Arms is more than just the manufacturer of some of the smallest and most lethal weapons on earth (including the tommy gun, made famous by Al Capone). It is run and mostly owned by a son of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the billionaire and self-proclaimed messiah who founded the Unification Church and controls a sprawl of businesses presumably intended to sustain and defend his followers when the world as we know it ends. The gun business, along with food companies, real estate, and other holdings, will serve to protect the fortress and keep sinners at bay, according to former members, as well as supply necessary provisions after the arrival of the new world order.

Not much is known about Moon’s 37-year-old son, Justin, or how Kahr Arms fits into the church’s teachings and the reverend’s plans for world domination. People who know Justin say he travels a lot, has a penchant for fast cars and big-caliber pistols, and spends stretches of time at various family and church mansions around the globe. He is also vigorously business-minded and has personally designed most of his company’s guns. He has grown Kahr Arms into one of America’s top privately owned handgun manufacturers, with sales of around $20 million a year and climbing at an annual rate of 30 percent.

Kahr’s success could influence the future of the church itself. With the True Father, as followers call Reverend Moon, slowing down, speculation about his heir has begun to emerge. Church watchers say the fact that Justin has built a company from the ground up makes him a front-runner in any possible succession race to lead the Moonies and run a church business empire valued in the billions of dollars.

Written by fred

September 18th, 2007 at 1:40 am

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Liberal Bloggers are Nazis and Terrorists, Don’tcha Know?

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This item is about the viability of this site and others in the progressive blogosphere. The progressive, reform oriented blogosphere has emerged as a signficant new force in American public life. Naturally, a variety of established interests don’t like it, or are having had a hard time adjusting to the new reality. Some lash out. Some do it all the time. While my group blog site Talk to Action has been the target of some sliming, we are also affected by the wider culture of snarling political bomb throwers and debased journalism.

Media Matters for America has detailed coverage of the Bill O’Reilly’s despicable comparisons of The Daily Kos to Nazis, David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan, and more. (See too, my Bill O’Reilly Hate Tour.)

Jeffrey Feldman of Frameshop today urges us to contact the Wall Street Journal about yet another, more sophisticated smear job against the progressive blogosphere.

In the wake of the newest Bin Laden video, right-wing journalists have spread the disgusting lie that murdering terrorists–who killed thousand of Americans on 9/1–talk, write and think “like” progressive bloggers. The smear tactic is never to come right out and say that bloggers are terrorists, but to smile and say that Osama Bin Laden “sounds just like” an “angry blogger.”

The result? The words terrorist, Bin Laden and blogger become mixed up in the media chatter. This smear tactic is not just slanderous–it is outright barbarous. But now–even as right-wing journalists continue to push this word association tactic–the WSJ has taken it one step further: adding the words “Hitler” and “Nazism” to the mix to sully bloggers by associated as well. It is a disgusting tactic–shameful enough to merit the Wall Street Journal being stripped of whatever professional credentials it has. And what makes it even worse: this tactic of saying “Hitler” and “blogger” in the same breath was launched on the eve of the Jewish New Year.

The culprits who launched this utterly offensive effort: James Taranto and Kelsey Hubbard of the Wall Street Journal. The smear happened in a video on the Wall Street Journal opinion website. This transcript captures the attempt by Taranto to smear bloggers by associating them with the words “Hitler” and “Nazism”:

Back in the 1930’s a young liberal journalist named Allan Cranston published a translation in English of Mein Kampf, Hitler’s manifesto, because he wanted to alert people to the dangers of Nazism. These days when America’s enemies speak, young liberal journalists cover their ears and go “la la la la la,” they don’t want to hear it. Why don’t they want to hear it? Well, you look at this bin Laden tape which was transcribed and put up on the web, and he sounds like a blogger for the DailyKos. He sounds like a typical angry left American.

These comments by Taranto to Hubbard are offensive to every American, but particularly to those Americans preparing to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. What does Hitler and Nazism have to do with bloggers? Absolutely nothing. The only reason Taranto mentioned them was to follow the tactic of smear by word association.

Read Feldman’s full post and get the contact info the the WSJ.

Written by fred

September 12th, 2007 at 2:59 pm

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Gov. Patrick Pisses Off Abstinence Ed-Only Crowd

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Some months ago Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts joined a growing chorus of state governments in refusing federal funds for abstinence education; a program which had been proved ineffective by the Bush administration’s own data. Now the National Abstinence Education Association, a coalition of religious right abstinence education advocates is, according to the Associated Press, “targeting” Governor Patrick with a $75,000 negative ad campaign to try to get him to change his mind.

This has come as a disappointment to the group that then-Governor Mitt Romney gave most of the federal grant money to.

A major — perhaps the major — beneficiary of the $700,000 federal abstinence grant was Healthy Futures, a project of A Woman’s Concern, a chain of Boston-area antiabortion crisis pregancy centers whose medical director Eric Keroak was appointed by President Bush to administer federal domestic family planning programs.

Turned out Keroack was a crackpot.

Much more.

Written by fred

September 7th, 2007 at 2:10 am

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