Friday Reads: Darwin’s Grab BagPosted: September 26, 2014
Temple came home last night in our latest battle against heartworms. She got two shots and now has two distinct shave marks on each hip. She’s sort’ve a last of the Mahican swamp dog right now. She’s hanging out on the bed which is the good and bad news. The cats have been having a happy dance celebration there for a few days thinking it was once again cat territory. They’ve now been disabused of that notion. So there’s a lot of odd news that came out today. Both Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush are said to be considering presidential runs. Republicans seem to find themselves caught between the aristocratic yawn zone and crazy town.
Let’s start with crazy town first. It seems more likely to wake you up. I thought I’d remind you that ISIL isn’t the only set of religious whackos out to rule the world. This brings us to the “values voters” summit which is always good for shock and awe. Yes, folks, some of these people live in your neighborhood and vote for politicians that seem to have genuine mental issues. But, among the funniest things I found about this year’s group of whackadoos is a hat tip to Jewish Americans as the summit proceeds to trample all over their Holy Holidays. Yes, they really are Jew-friendly. Forget all that Jews killed Jesus anger of the past. Or not.
For all the effort that the conservative movement has put into trying to woo Jewish voters, the timing of the Values Voter Summit, one of the top conservative events of the year, has been a real shanda.
The summit, organized by the Family Research Council, has been held for the past nine years in either September or October at the Omni Shoreham hotel in Washington, D.C. The problem is that, in the eight times that the event has been held, it has coincided three times with Rosh Hashanah and twice with Yom Kippur. The event is coming back to D.C. this weekend, where it will once again conflict with Rosh Hashanah.
Bethany Mandel, a former editor at the conservative Commentary, first pointed out this unhappy coincidence on Twitter. Mandel told The Daily Beast that the timing of the conference was very “frustrating.” In her opinion, “a lot of the Value Voter’s positions could align with those of Jews, particularly the Orthodox.”
“Evangelicals, and conservatives in general, are really limiting themselves by not looking outside the box and seeking Orthodox Jewish support on common ground issues”
Mandel noted “there’s a general unease among Jews about becoming involved in conservative politics and with Christians in particular, because they feel unwelcome and nervous about people just trying to convert them.” Needless to say, scheduling major events on the Jewish High Holidays does nothing to assuage those concerns.
“Evangelicals, and conservatives in general, are really limiting themselves by not looking outside the box and seeking Orthodox Jewish support on common ground issues,” she said.
But not all Jewish conservatives seemed to mind. Noah Pollak, the executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, shrugged off the issue. “The organizers and attendees of the Values Voter Summit are not just strongly pro-Israel, but genuinely pro-Jewish as well,” said Pollak. “The world would be a better place if more people felt about Jews the way those associated with the Values Voter Summit do and I wish them a successful conference this year.”
Oy. This conference always provides some major hate right before the elections. So much, that a group of ministers in Louisiana from mainstream denominations begged our Governor to refuse the invite for a change. I guess Presbyterians and mainstream Catholics just don’t have that old time religion vibe. That, or they’re not likely to like my governor who I swear is a sociopath. I remember when I learned that being a Methodist wasn’t actually being a real christian. Sure was a surprise to me!
A group of Louisiana religious leaders is urging Gov. to reconsider attending the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit, which begins Friday in Washington, D.C.
The group of 13 leaders sent a letter to Jindal with their request. They hailed from various denominations of Christianity including Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian and Catholic.
The leaders feel Jindal, a Catholic, should avoid the FRC summit because the organization has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for their repeated “use of known falsehoods to attack and demonize members of the LGBT community.”
“As Pope Francis recently said, ‘When God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person,'” the leaders wrote in their letter.
The leaders recognized that Jindal is opposed to same-sex marriage, but said that shouldn’t mean he should embrace an “extremist” organization.
Jindal’s office said the governor would attend the event.
“The great thing about America is that we believe in religious liberty and people have the right to express their beliefs,” said Deputy Communications Director Shannon Bates. “We’re glad the folks who issued this letter have this right. We look forward to speaking to the Values Voter Summit about religious liberty.”
The summit was created in 2006 to “provide a forum to help inform and mobilize citizens across America to preserve the bedrock values of traditional marriage, religious liberty, sanctity of life and limited government that make our nation strong,” according to its website.
Jindal is a scheduled speaker at this year’s event, which includes a number of high-profile national figures that include Sarah Palin, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Oliver North and Glenn Beck, to name a few.
Wow, it seems that there should be a critical level of crazy at that conference. So, I’ve found some rather disheartening news about what is funding all this insanity and I’m afraid we’re going to be stuck with it for some time. First, I’d like to recommend this Rolling Stone piece on the Koch Brothers and their toxic empire.
In “the science of success,” Charles Koch highlights the problems created when property owners “don’t benefit from all the value they create and don’t bear the full cost from whatever value they destroy.” He is particularly concerned about the “tragedy of the commons,” in which shared resources are abused because there’s no individual accountability. “The biggest problems in society,” he writes, “have occurred in those areas thought to be best controlled in common: the atmosphere, bodies of water, air. . . .”
But in the real world, Koch Industries has used its political might to beat back the very market-based mechanisms – including a cap-and-trade market for carbon pollution – needed to create the ownership rights for pollution that Charles says would improve the functioning of capitalism.
In fact, it appears the very essence of the Koch business model is to exploit breakdowns in the free market. Koch has profited precisely by dumping billions of pounds of pollutants into our waters and skies – essentially for free. It racks up enormous profits from speculative trades lacking economic value that drive up costs for consumers and create risks for our economy.
The Koch brothers get richer as the costs of what Koch destroys are foisted on the rest of us – in the form of ill health, foul water and a climate crisis that threatens life as we know it on this planet. Now nearing 80 – owning a large chunk of the Alberta tar sands and using his billions to transform the modern Republican Party into a protection racket for Koch Industries’ profits – Charles Koch is not about to see the light. Nor does the CEO of one of America’s most toxic firms have any notion of slowing down. He has made it clear that he has no retirement plans: “I’m going to ride my bicycle till I fall off.”
Here’s hoping that bicycle meets a semi head on.
So we know that the libertarians and the tea party are full speed ahead. What about the stodgy face of Republican Politics? Well, cheer up! We may get another Bush to kick around. Is he really prepping for a run?
It’s looking more and more like the 2016 presidential race will include John Ellis “Jeb” Bush, the former governor of Florida and a favorite of centrist Wall Street Republicans.
Bush, who friends say will make a final decision after the November midterm elections, is said to be deep in preparation on issues beyond his traditional areas of focus on education and immigration policy.
One person who met with Bush recently told me the former governor spoke passionately on foreign policy and economics and sounded very much like someone who plans to mount a presidential campaign. This person said Bush’s main concern remains the impact of a campaign on his family, particularly his wife Columba, who does not like politics or the limelight.
And even if Columba Bush manages to tolerate a campaign, people close the family ask, could she accept the public role demanded of first ladies?
But others say the family concerns are overblown and that barring a late change of heart, Bush is almost certain to run. These people say Bush’s father, former president George H.W. Bush, strongly urged his son to mount a campaign at a recent gathering at the family’s compound in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Well, isn’t that special? Will the right wing conspiracy focus on him or Hillary? Here’s a great list of companies for you to add to your boycott list.
The NCF was created, back in 1982 or so, to maximize hard right-wing evangelical Christian philanthropic giving. It was so novel and complex, the architects got a special ruling from the IRS, to make sure it was legal. The NCF has multiple overlapping legal entities and holding companies, but at the core is a huge donor-advised fund. The NCF is now the 12th biggest charitable foundation in America that raises money from private sources.
“The story of the politicized religious right is one of the biggest untold stories of our time.”
Since its founding, the NCF has given away over $4.3 billion, $2.5 billion of it in the last three years. The NCF gave away $601,841,675 in 2012—and is estimated to have given out $670 million in 2013.
One reason the NCF, a donor-advised fund, has been so successful is that it ensures anonymity for its philanthropists. Many of these individuals may fear a backlash, given the controversial causes that they support.
But we do know about the NCF’s leadership. Two of the NCF co-founders were tied to Campus Crusade for Christ, and the late Larry Burkett, a NCF co-founder, was also one of the co-founders of the Alliance Defense Fund/Alliance Defending Freedom, now the religious right’s preeminent umbrella legal defense fund. NCF’s other co-founder, Atlanta tax lawyer Terrence Parker, sits on the board of directors of the Family Research Council, and also The Gathering Foundation, which puts on The Gathering.
From 2001-12, the NCF gave $163,384,998 to leading anti-LGBT organizations. These include Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund), Campus Crusade for Christ (aka CRU), the National Organization for Marriage, and the Alliance for Marriage. They fund ex-gay ministries like Exodus International, exporters of homophobia like Advocates International, you name it.
The NCF is just getting started, though. The Green family—who were at The Gathering in 2008 and 2013—have said they intend to leave much of their fortune to it. And in 2009, Hobby Lobby-related contributions were the No. 1 source of NCF funding (about $54 million), which we know because Eli Clifton, funded by The Nation Institute, somehow got hold of an NCF 2009 990 Schedule B form, which shows NCF’s top funders that year (Hobby Lobby was No. 1, Maclellan Foundation No. 2).
On another note, Chick-fil-A’s VP and CFO, James “Buck” McCabe, is on the board of the NCF, and in 1999 no less than three of Chick-fil-A’s top leaders spoke at The Gathering (S. Truett Cathy, Dan Cathy, and Don “Bubba” Cathy).
Having worked in philanthropy myself, I can say that these figures are astounding. The leading private funder of LGBT issues gives out about $16 million a year. Which other funders will be there?
Other major players include the John Templeton Foundation ($104,863,836 in 2012 grants), the Barnaby Foundation ($39,939,489), the Christian Community Foundation (an NCF “spinoff”), and the family foundations of the DeVos families (including Rich DeVos, one of the original funders of the Christian Right), Howard & Roberta Ahmanson (operating as Fieldstead & Company—and among the most notorious right-wing funders in America), Adolph Coors, and many others.
Interestingly, some more secular right-wing funders—Scaife, Olin, Bradley—are not known to attend The Gathering.
That’s a lot of bucks and clucks.
Okay, so I’ve featured some about Bobby Jindal today and I’ve also fond some pix of some really cute unusual animals. I’m going to end with Bobby Jindal and a good question from blogger and intrepid fellow Lousyianan Lamar White. Check out Bobby’s official photo—over exposed and whitened like a molar–and a press photo. Do some of these folks get attached to the Republican Party because they hate themselves deep down inside? We’ve talked about women with Stockholm Syndrome and self-loathing gay men who join the Log Cabin association, where does little Peyush fit?
Of course, we are now the prison capital of the world, and entire generations of predominately African-American men are locked behind bars for decades for non-violent crimes. Last session, legislators approved a bill that would provide 99-year minimum mandatory prison sentences for repeat heroin dealers, because locking people up for the rest of their lives on drug charges is a whole lot easier than addressing the underlying problems.
We are told that Obamacare is somehow a nefarious socialist ploy, and while we deny billions of dollars to expand access to health care services for those who need them the most, we simultaneously also offer billions in incentives for wealthy multi-national corporations willing to set up shop; our rich may be getting richer, but our poor are also getting poorer. Our sick are getting sicker.
And we are being led by, no doubt, a preternaturally smart guy, a man who changed his own name from Piyush to Bobby when he was four, who converted from Hinduism to Catholicism when he was eighteen, allegedly because he was so torn up by Roe v. Wade, who declared exorcisms could cure cancer when he was twenty, an experience he wrote about in one of the world’s leading Catholic journals, and who, in his early forties, essentially torched his own college degree in biology from Brown University, enacting laws that allow the teaching of New Earth Creationism as “science” in Louisiana public schools. “I’m not an evolutionary biologist,” he recently explained to the few people left in the world who still don’t realize that all biologists are, in fact, evolutionary biologists.
But Bobby Jindal’s official portrait (on the left) on the fourth floor of the Capitol building is, perhaps, the best example of what I’m talking about. Sometimes, a picture can speak 1,000 words, and these juxtapositions should.
Please book mark CENLAMAR because Jindal’s going to run for President and I don’t want him to inflict any more damage any where else. Lamar really stays on top of things and I think you’ll find him useful for any of your crazy republican uncles or aunts that want to use Jindal as a sign of “No Racism here” in the Republican Party. I’d say using portraits that are overexposed to lighten the appearance of your skin color makes a statement.
So, there just seems to be a lot of folks getting creative with the gospels these days. How about an evangelical Bob, Ted,and Carol and Alice? I should mention that Bob has pink hair and they are putting a twist on loving thy neighbor.
Devout Christians looking to spread the word of God sometimes need to get creative about where they’re preaching—after all, anywhere could be the right place to convert an unbeliever. So why not discuss Bible verses with the guy you’ve invited over to fuck your wife?
For Florida couple Dean and Christy Parave, their swingers’ lifestyle doesn’t conflict with their deeply-held Christian beliefs. Rather, it provides an outlet where they can share the gospel (along with sexual partners). “I’m getting to people that probably never even visited church,” says Dean. “Hey, God’s not gonna put a lion with a bunch of elephants, so what’s he gonna do? He’s gonna put a swinger with a bunch of swingers to spread his word.”
Christy is solidly on board: “I feel like right now, this is God’s plan.”
So, that’s enough from me. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?