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Links With Your Coffee - Thursday


  • Flocking to Faith

    Katha Pollitt has it exactly right. Barack's faith-based plan is a disaster waiting to happen.

    In the old days politicians would slip preachers some hundreds under the table, and preachers would deliver the flock on election day. It was borderline illegal, but at least it left the Constitution alone. The same could not be said of the Bush Administration's faith-based initiative, a political bribe to the religious right that put a hole in the First Amendment big enough for Christ himself to walk through. Given the dismal results of the initiative--millions wasted, many lawsuits, embarrassments like special Christians-only prison units and Faith Works, which aspired to bring "homeless addicts to Christ"--you would think getting rid of federal handouts to churches for social services would be one change we'd all be ready to believe in. But no. As he announced earlier this summer, Barack Obama plans to open the spigot even wider, beginning with half a billion dollars for summer classes for 1 million poor kids and presumably moving on to help for prisoners, addicts and other unfortunates. Perhaps worn down by years of being bashed as elitists ignorant of the real America, many liberals and progressives seem prepared to go along. Difficult as it is to dissent from the feel-good community spirit in which Obama casts his proposals--who wants to be the curmudgeon while people are in obvious need?--this is a major failure of nerve.

    Obama may have given his initiative an inclusive-sounding name--the President's Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships--and he may insist that with proper oversight government money can go to religious institutions without going to religious purposes, like proselytizing. He wouldn't let churches discriminate in hiring for these programs or provide services only to their own (although the Supreme Court permits religious discrimination in church hiring, even for janitorial jobs). He says churches will have to obey their state's antidiscrimination laws, which would mean that in twenty states churches that consider homosexuality an abomination would have to hire gays anyway. It would be hard to overestimate the amount of bureaucratic energy required to enforce these provisions. Besides, money is fungible--a grant for the prison-ministry-that-never-mentions-Jesus frees up that many dollars for Sunday school or a new car for the Reverend.

  • Viruses can catch colds, says study that redefines life itself - Telegraph
    The debate about what counts as a living thing is fuelled today by the discovery of the first virus that is able to fall "ill" by being infected with another virus

  • Nissan shows models of electric car, hybrid - Autos-
    Nissan showed on Wednesday a spiffy electric car packed with a battery developed by the Japanese automaker to deliver more power than the type common in today’s hybrids.

  • the advantages of trolls « The Lumber Room
    A slightly disturbing article about trolls. i learnt not to take virtual relationships and abuse too seriously, eventually, but trolls do have their uses. For one thing, since a troll is determined to attack you, he (i imagine they are mainly guys) will rigorously read you, like a good editor, for the slightest weakness, for a spelling mistake, a lapse into sentimentality, sloppy thinking. A troll is an unpaid editor.

  • The Millions: NYRB Classics: Not Just for Grownups
    We're not shy about our praise for NYRB Classics. Their volumes are smartly edited and well designed and quite a few favorite books of The Millions contributors - The Dud Avocado, Wheat That Springeth Green, and, of course, The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll - were first encountered in their NYRB Classics incarnations.
    While I had always planned on passing NYRB Classics books down to my progeny one day, I've just discovered that I may get to do that sooner than I had anticipated. NYRB Classics has a line of children's books, the NYR Children's Collection.

    One of the latest to come out under the imprint is James Thurber's The 13 Clocks with an introduction by Neil Gaiman and illustrations by Marc Simont.

  • VP wanted: No future presidents, please - Los Angeles Times
    Why Obama and McCain should pass over potential running mates who have their eyes on 2016.

  • Wal-Mart's clumsy, self-defeating attempts to influence the election. - By Daniel Gross - Slate Magazine
    Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that retailing giant Wal-Mart, concerned about a potential Democratic sweep this fall, has been not-so-subtly indoctrinating managers and department heads about the perils of an Obama presidency. The operating assumption in Bentonville seems to be that a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress would pass laws such the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for unions to organize at Wal-Mart, thus hurting the company, its workers, and its shareholders. And while the executives running the meetings were careful not to instruct workers which lever to pull, the upshot was clear. "I am not a stupid person," a Wal-Mart customer-service supervisor told the Journal. "They were telling me how to vote."

  • Indoctrination - A Clip from Pledge of Allegiance Blues



Yep, Obama's desire to court more conservative voters and to reach across the aisle is not working. It's the worst of both worlds. The liberals are pissed off and the conservatives aren't impressed:

Obama would depart from the Bush program by forbidding religious groups that receive federal dollars from discriminating with respect to hiring — the pre-Bush status quo.

Bush and McCain believe groups should be able to consider a prospective employee's faith.

"That was a dumb move by Obama," said David Kuo, a former deputy director of the Bush White House Office of Faith-based and Community initiatives. "Obama risked alienating every evangelical he was reaching out to.


Republicans, for the most part, will vote for a Republican, even if they have to hold their nose. Democrats are more idealistic. Now, HIllary Clinton also supported the faith-based initiatives. In fact, the Democratic machine decided that alienating Christians was the main reason that they lost to Bush.

In the meantime, the media is clearly pro McCain. They were pro Obama when it was a matter of Obama vs Hillary Clinton. But now that it's Obama vs McCain, it's an entirely different matter.

Considering that the left's views on Obama's position re FISA, offshore oil drilling and funding faith-based organizations for charity, result in many of them not voting for him, with each passing day, I see McCain gaining ground. While the Liberals (and in particular the Hillary LIberals) become more and more angry with Obama, the Republicans (even the Rush Limbaugh Republicans) have all decided to support McCain 100%.

Most leading conservative writers, radio hosts, and activists would probably concur that their liberal counterparts have never really connected with average Americans. Personalities on the right sell more books and get higher radio and television ratings. And until recently, conservatives seemed to be on an electoral politics roll begun in 1994 when the GOP retook the House. Within Republican ranks, for all the talk about crack-ups and implosions, the Reagan legacy still bridges divides between libertarians, social and religious conservatives, and national security conservatives.

By comparison, the left often draws flies. Win, lose, or draw, Democrats are prone to eat their own. Post-FDR, the last time that staunch liberals saw their favorite candidate elected president was never. In fact, the only time Democrats actually nominated a candidate who toed the liberal intelli-gentsia's line was 1972. George McGovern, who recently called for President Bush's impeachment (cue applause in Cambridge, Mass.), got 38 percent of the national vote.

But what is true for the liberal goose is true for the conservative gander. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan liked to quip, people are entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts. John McCain is more conservative on more issues than average Americans are. By every standard measure (voting record and ratings, positions on major issues), McCain is conservative. Unlike his critics on the right, however, he is no ideological purist; he is conservative, but he is not what the pollsters call "very conservative." That is one obvious reason why he has such wide appeal. For even in our decidedly right-leaning mass electorate, few Americans, including few Republicans, answer to "very conservative." [] ..So, finally, an unscientific survey: All my ex-Reagan Democrat buddies like McCain best because he is a war hero, because he seems strong on national defense, and because he looks the part. They all say that they will vote for him if he is the Republican nominee.

And from the above article, this is what I have witnessed over the years:

Win, lose, or draw, Democrats are prone to eat their own.

Conclusion? Grumpy McGruff will be the next president of the U.S. and Miss Buffalo Chip will be our next first lady.

But then most lefties don't see all that much difference between McCain and Obama, so for them, it ain't no thang.

On a positive note (unusual for Downer Debbie here), at least the venerable Rachel Maddow has a stronger and more visible presence on MSNBC lately.

Not to play the annoying atheist counterintuitive, but I don't think Katha Pollitt's piece is fair at all. My take is that when you get down to it, Obama's "faith-based" initiative is simply a secular initiative that doesn't discriminate against religious groups. Of course it could get totally screwed up in the execution, but in its conception it's really not that bad. Take a look (pdf) for yourself.

(FWIW, I formerly posted in these here parts as "Q" the Enchanter.)

From the piece:

(although the Supreme Court permits religious discrimination in church hiring, even for janitorial jobs)

This is interesting. Does anyone know more about it?


But then most lefties don't see all that much difference between McCain and Obama, so for them, it ain't no thang.

By definition of "lefties," that wouldn't be true. JoAnn, you realize these kinds of statements are very close to trolling...?

Instead of spreading messages about the future you see (you could be right - I'm hoping you're not), how about fighting the good fight as long as there is even a shred of possibility we might win it (which means right up until the final count). Help other people quit focusing on what to criticize about Obama and talk about the huge problems of the last eight year Republican war on the middle class that will just continue with McSame.

In the old days politicians would slip preachers some hundreds under the table, and preachers would deliver the flock on election day.

Maybe it was my religiously tinged history classes in high school and college, but I've never heard of this. I'm not surprised at the accusation, but does anyone else know anything about it specifically? People caught doing it?

churches that consider homosexuality an abomination would have to hire gays anyway. It would be hard to overestimate the amount of bureaucratic energy required to enforce these provisions.

Of ye of little faith in the dreaded Tax Code and government handouts. There are many people who think that the anti-discrimination laws added to the tax-exempt policy in the 60's were responsible for things like Blacks getting the priesthood in the Mormon Church. If you threaten the MONEY that churches are allowed to take hand over fist by actually taxing these clowns, it's amazing what they'll do to their so called "core" beliefs.

That being said, whose up for starting a "Secularists for humanity" religious group to help fund programs just to test this "non-discriminatory" aspect of this program.

Sorry Jill,

I guess that I should say, "Everything is beautiful, in it's own way"

Hey JoAnn - Nicely condescending and insulting.

Gosh oh gee, yeah - that's what I meant because in my world nothing bad ever happens. I'm completely unaware of the Republican Noise Machine, the possibility McCain has of winning, the unreachable masses in red America, the in-fighting in the Democratic party, the focus on the negatives about Obama at the expense of the positive and the perversity of the Clinton liberals. Uh huh - sure.

Jill, in answer to your question above, Pollitt is alluding to Corp. of Presiding Bishop v Amos.


I know. I'm way too snarky. I'm just worried that Democrats are resting on their laurels and I'm just worried that they are so damned sure that Obama will win. In my snarky, obnoxious manner, I'm attempting to wake up the progressives and make them realize how close that this election is and how much we have to lose. And I cannot help but notice how much more organized the Republicans are, and this is why they have controlled both the executive and congressional offices more than the Dems have over recent years.

*Carter 1977 to 1981 - four years *Reagan 1981 to 1989 - eight years *Bush senior 1989 to 1993 - four years *Clinton 1993 to 2001 - eight years *Bush junior 2001 to 2009 - eight years

So over the past 32 years, Democrats have held the executive office for 12 years. That's enough to make me feel negative and worried. Yes, damin it, it worries me a whole hell of a lot.

And then I ask myself, why? Why?

Michael Drake - Thank you very much - I skimmed it and that just doesn't work so I'm going to take the time to look at it. I didn't know that was allowed.

JoAnn - If you start going down the rabbit hole, you will see that this is very deliberate and started as far back as Buckley to some extent.

There IS a Right Wing conspiracy to take over our media, to set up conservative, patriotic-sounding think tanks, to take over the courts, to use marketers like Frank Luntz to tell America what it wants to hear - whether or not it's true, structured talking points so, as Bush would say, the propaganda gets through.

The discrediting of Clinton was conducted at great expense to the tax payer so he wouldn't go out popular (he was no longer a threat in himself since he could no longer run.) When Whitewater didn't work they just kept pushing to find something and then pushed it at us relentlessly.

I am not even touching on so much of it and maybe others disagree with the summation. I do think it is fair to say the Republicans have declared war on the middle class - America's strength - which was really built by FDR. It is all for the corporations and the super wealthy (I think it was RedSeven who posted an interesting video about why we finally care about health care from Noam Chomsky).

And, I think if it hadn't been for the internet and, for me, initially people like Digby and David Brock's Media Matters and some of the other sanity restoring sites, liberals could've thought the world had gone crazy....And now, Norm... :) Outside of the internet, I am often amazed how NOT up-in-arms America is. I can't believe what the Republicans have gotten away with and that very few people I know want to even talk about it.

I couldn't believe we lost in 2000 (or didn't really but it never should've been close enough for them to cheat), I couldn't believe we lost in 2004, after that, I couldn't believe we won in 2006 so I really don't know what to think this year....


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