Month: June 2014

Important

Antonia Blumberg of Huffington Post explains the problem quite simply:

While many religious leaders have been vocal about abortion, same sex marriage and other social concerns, they have remained fairly quiet on one major issue: domestic violence.

While the study from LifeWay Research pertains specifically to Protestant clergy, it highlights some general issues within the domestic violence challenges facing Christian community leaders:

Protestant Clergy and Domestic ViolenceJustin Holcomb, co-author of Is It My Fault?: Hope and Healing for Those Suffering Domestic Violence, said that victims of abuse often blame themselves. Hearing sermons about stopping domestic violence reminds victims that God cares about their suffering. And it gives them hope that God can deliver them from the evil of domestic violence.

Some abusers, said Holcomb, use scriptures like Malachi 2:16—which says God hates divorce in some translations—against their victims. He believes pastors can counteract that message.

“God says He hates divorce—He also hates the abuse of women,” Holcomb said.

LifeWay Research also found half of senior pastors (52 percent) don’t have sufficient training to address cases of domestic or sexual violence. About 8 in 10 (81 percent), say they would take action to reduce domestic violence if they had more training.

Just one of those things, you know? But this is important.

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Blumberg, Antonia. “Pastors Rarely Preach About Domestic Violence Even Though It Affects Countless Americans”. The Huffington Post. 29 June 2014.

Smietana, Bob. “Pastors Seldom Preach About Domestic Violence”. LifeWay Research. 27 June 2014.

A Thought or Three About Thad

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)

Before the conventional wisdom gets too confused—which, of course, requires presupposing that it has not already shown itself befuddled beyond function—it would behoove us to recall that there is nothing new, here insofar as some, when presented with bad choices, play chess instead of checkers. And in considering Mississippi, well, what, really, does anyone expect?

Last week, in a bit of a surprise, incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran survived a Republican primary runoff in Mississippi, thanks in large part to an unexpected group of supporters: African-American voters. Though many are Democrats, many in Mississippi’s black community saw Cochran’s right-wing rival as far more offensive.

Soon after the dust settled, many of those responsible for rescuing Cochran’s career, preventing him from suffering a humiliating defeat, had an idea on how the senator can return the favor: it was time for Cochran to support the Voting Rights Amendment Act, a bill to repair the civil-rights law gutted last year by conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court.

By some measures, the request seemed fairly modest. After all, Cochran had supported the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act quite recently. All his new-found African-American allies were seeking is support for a law the senator has already backed in the recent past.

It looks like Cochran’s rescuers may need to think of some other way for him to pay his debt.

(Benen)

It would seem the problem is that the Republican senator’s spokesman has shown himself insufficiently enthusiastic, which, in many cases, does not actually signify anything. The problem is that if Cochran is to deliver on any obligations to the Democratic voters who helped quash the McDaniel campaign, he will have to negotiate treacherous, shallow waters under stormy skies; regardless of whether the long arc of history bends toward Justice, the politics of a Southern white Republican bucking the Party in order to support minority voting rights would seem complicated insofar as having pulled off a spectacular feat of politics the Cochran staff must now try to plot a course to there from here. At the very least, we can expect this will take a little while, so perhaps it is unfair to expect the senator’s spokesman to know exactly what to say. These treacherous waters are also exceptionally unfamiliar to conservatives in the South.

Perhaps, then, Benen’s concerns are stated in too immediate a context. That is to say, it is not so much that he overstates a problem, but, rather, that in focusing on points like, “as of this morning, the Voting Rights Amendment Act still has zero co-sponsors”, we might accidentally undertake a myopic endeavor. The challenge would seem to be to keep pressure on Sen. Cochran to step up and make the policy change. And it might well be useful if that pressure is constructive. Cochran has dug himself something of a hole; refusing to pay this modest moral obligation has potential including the agitation and augmentation of the apparent racial divide in Southern politics. To the other, if the seventy-six year-old Mississippian son of educators can navigate the hazards and swing his policy argument in favor of the VRAA, he might well also open a route for dialogue toward reconciliation between the GOP establishment and black voters.

It is hardly the steepest of prices, but the need is immediate. Cochran just spent a lot of political capital on credit, and the lenders really, really need him to pay this back. And quickly.

And the professional hands know what to do, how to keep the heat up. Not only is the VRAA a big deal for those in need of its help, but this could lead to something even bigger for Republicans, minorities, and the nation in general. That potential return on investment simply reiterates the need for Sen. Cochran to put his hand to the helm, lash his courage to the mast, and find a way through the proverbial storm a-brewin’.

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Jamelle Bouie dissects the obvious: “Black voters had to choose between the man they knew—a relative moderate who deals in earmarks and largess—and a new man. If you know anything about Chris McDaniel, this wasn’t a hard choice.”

Benen, Steve. “Cochran already rebuffing those who rescued him”. msnbc. 30 June 2014.

Bouie, Jamelle. “Why Mississippi’s Black Democrats Saved an Elderly White Republican”. Slate. 25 June 2014.

A Benchmark … Maybe?

The Mississippi Loser

Given the unpredictability of politics, such suggestions might seem somewhat naïve; yet one might legitimately wonder if, on the Republican side of things, you know some abstract limit has been violated when Jennifer Rubin comes out swinging:

As I’ve written previously, the far right’s reaction to Sen. Thad Cochran’s defeat of their pet tea party candidate Chris McDaniel in the Republican primary for U.S. senator from Mississippi has been unhinged and at times downright racist. Even the less hysterical voices are up in arms that Cochran’s tactics were unseemly or that the “establishment” betrayed them again.

Among the “sins” Cochran is accused of is finding African American leaders to help turn out the African American vote. (The nerve!) Unearthing egregiously offensive comments McDaniel made on his radio show (no!) and skewering McDaniel for campaign gaffes on everything from Katrina relief to support for the inane shutdown (mercy me!). The attitude that the “establishment” doesn’t have to crush the poor tea party folk every time, suggests, I guess, that there needs to be a mercy rule of the inept tea party (if they lose 10 races they get a freebie?).

I mean, really. Damn.

(more…)

Your Republican Party (Crankin’ Out the Votes Edition)

The eyes of a paraphiliac.

At first it sounds like a joke.Crankin' with the Cross!

Jordan D. Haskins, candidate for Michigan Legislature, wants everyone to know conservatives embrace imperfect people, too. So let him explain his multiple felony convictions for breaking into government vehicles, disconnecting the sparkplugs, and jerking off while the engines cranked.

Weinstein

But it’s not:

Haskins’ break-ins were often tied to an arguably bizarre sexual fetish called “cranking.” When he broke into vehicles, Haskins would disconnect the ignition wires and re-start the engine while masturbating, police reports show. In an unrelated report by The Independent, Susan Block, Ph.D., a featured sexologist on HBO’s “Real Sex” and “Cathouse” explained the fetish by saying, “[t]he ‘vroom’ of the engine reminds [men] of their own libidos being revved up by this hot woman.”

Haskins says he hopes voters can see he’s evolved. “Those are things that haunt me to this day,” Haskins told MLive. “I’m just trying to move on from that and do what I can.”

Thomas

Ladies and gentlemen, your Republican Party.

It should also be noted that if we take Mr. Haskins at his word, he cured his paraphilia by finding a new passion, conservative politics.

Yes, really. Write your own damn punch line.

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Weinstein, Adam. “GOP Hopeful: My Public Masturbation Fetish and Felonies Were Bad Ideas”. Gawker. 27 June 2014.

Thomas, Emily. “GOP Candidate Jordan Haskins Wants Voters To Forgive His Criminal And Sexual Fetish Past”. The Huffington Post. 27 June 2014.

A Contrast

In many ways I was not yet a grownup—still childish in love and in work, a renter and sometime student with not even a car title in my name. But with the license, and the gun, came a host of new grownup worries. First: Who do you shoot, and when?

Adam Weinstein

Among reflections on the recent shootings that have devatated communities across the country, Adam Weinstein’s column for Gawker is a must-read. There is, truly, more there than one can justly quote, from―Bang! Say da, da da da!

Back when the licenses were still a new thing and the required instructional classes weren’t a joke, my dad’s class was run through a host of scenarios: You’re broken down on a dirt road in the middle of the night. A black dude in a Cutty pulls up behind you, gets out, comes out with a tire-iron. What do you do? Half my dad’s class said to shoot the black man.

―to―

When my son was born, all of my questions suddenly had a very basic answer. I would love for him to grow up as I did, enjoying shooting but understanding that every gun is loaded and you never touch one without an adult and you don’t point it at anything you don’t intend to shoot. But more than that, I’d love to believe that he’ll have no mischievous accidents, no suicidal depressions or homicidal rages, no moments of weakness or fits of pique or questions that can be answered by the pull of a trigger. As with all the other scenarios in which I’m the good guy with the gun, I can never be sure. I carry my permit, as I always have. But now all my guns live with my father.

―and beyond. Just read it.

† † †

Meanwhile, there is also the tale of S. 1290, the “Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act of 2013”.

Laura Bassett explains the situation for Huffington Post:

The National Rifle Association is fighting proposed federal legislation that would prohibit those convicted of stalking and of domestic violence against dating partners from buying guns, according to a letter obtained by The Huffington Post.

Sorry, NRA says no.Federal law already bars persons convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from purchasing firearms. S. 1290, introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), would add convicted stalkers to that group of offenders and would expand the current definition of those convicted of domestic violence against “intimate partners” to include those who harmed dating partners.

Aides from two different senators’ offices confirm that the NRA sent a letter to lawmakers describing Klobuchar’s legislation as “a bill to turn disputes between family members and social acquaintances into lifetime firearm prohibitions.” The nation’s largest gun lobby wrote that it “strongly opposes” the bill because the measure “manipulates emotionally compelling issues such as ‘domestic violence’ and ‘stalking’ simply to cast as wide a net as possible for federal firearm prohibitions.”

The NRA’s letter imagines a “single shoving match” between two gay men as an example of how the domestic violence legislation could be misused. “Under S. 1290, for example, two men of equal size, strength, and economic status joined by a civil union or merely engaged (or formerly engaged) in an intimate ‘social relationship,’ could be subject to this prohibition for conviction of simple ‘assault’ arising from a single shoving match,” the letter says.

The NRA also argues in the letter that “stalking” is too broad of a term to indicate any danger to women. “‘Stalking’ offenses do not necessarily include violent or even threatening behavior,” the letter claims. “Under federal law, for example, stalking includes ‘a course of conduct’ that never involves any personal contact whatsoever, occurs wholly through the mail, online media, or telephone service, is undertaken with the intent to ‘harass’ and would be reasonably expected to cause (even if it doesn’t succeed in causing) ‘substantial emotional distress’ to another person.”

The letter adds that the federal stalking law on the books is “so broadly written that some constitutional scholars even claim it could reach speech protected under the First Amendment.”

Because, well, stalkers need guns, too.

(more…)

A Reminder: Beltway Scandal IRS Edition

Lois Lerner

Bearing in mind that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, or any number of other proverbs suggesting at once the merit of and annoyance caused by speaking out, and recalling that in normal cases the question is not so much liberal or conservative news media bias as it is a preference toward advert revenues, one might not be surprised, then, to learn how much of the bluster and noise coming from Congress is actually nothing more than hot, rancid vapor.

Or perhaps that is the wrong way to express it; even those who presume the national political discourse so broken as to hold themselves aloof generally also presuppose a tremendous amount of putrid hot air in the Beltway chatter.

Still, though, something seems amiss. It is one thing for pundits and bloggers to argue about the editorial points of a story, but the number of times some find themselves wondering about the alleged factual coverage is itself striking. Consider Steve Benen’s note on the Scandal of the Week:

It started with an Associated Press headline that wasn’t true: “Emails: IRS Official Sought Audit of GOP Senator.” From there, conservative and mainstream media outlets went berserk on Wednesday, reporting that former IRS official Lois Lerner tried to audit Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) as part of some kind of partisan vendetta.

“Lerner Asked IRS to Audit Republican Senator,” one headline read. “Lerner Set IRS Sights on Sen. Grassley,” said another. A third abandoned subtlety altogether: “Lois Lerner’s Threats To Investigate Grassley Should Terrify You.”

All of this, it turns out, wasn’t true. The reality is unambiguous: “[Grassley] wasn’t ‘targeted’ at all. Instead, Lerner asked a colleague if it made sense to examine whether an outside group had made Grassley an inappropriate offer. Her colleague dismissed the idea, and that was the end of it.”

At least in theory, reporters, Republican officials, and conservative activists who ran with this story on Wednesday had a decision to make: they could either correct their mistake or pretend they hadn’t made the mistake.

Of course, this is the IRS “scandal,” which naturally led conservatives to choose Door #3: keep repeating the inaccuracy as if it were true.

But it is also important to remember that in reporting these merry tales of politics, it is not the journalists’ job to actually consider whether the facts they are reporting are true. As such, it is occasionally worth a moment to actually pause and sniff the excrement, tally up the morbid score, and figure out just where the political discourse actually is compared to reality.

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As the estimable Jim Lehrer once expressed, “I would never do that. That’s not my function to do that.” Or, as Rob Corddry explained nearly a decade ago: “Listen buddy: not my job to stand between the people talking to me and the people listening to me.”

Benen, Steve. “Repeating a falsehood doesn’t make it true”. msnbc. 27 June 2014.

Cox Barrett, Liz. “Jim Lehrer on Billy Bob, Reports of Rain and Stenography As Journalism”. Columbia Journalism Review. 2 June 2006

Corddry Rob and Jon Stewart. “Kerry Controversy”. The Daily Show. 23 August 2004.

Your Republican Party (Twenty-First Century Edition)

The American conundrum: Too stupid for freedom?

So … right. And then there’s this:

A Republican candidate seeking to represent Georgia’s 10th U.S. House district believes that the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious liberty does not apply to followers of Islam.

“Although Islam has a religious component, it is much more than a simple religious ideology,” Rev. Jody Hice wrote in his 2012 book It’s Now Or Never, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It is a complete geo-political structure and, as such, does not deserve First Amendment protection.”

(Dolan)

Laugh it up, fuzzball, but you do realize, this keeps happening?

And, it should be noted, Hice goes on and on. One of his best lines would seem to be, “This is not a tolerant, peaceful religion even though some Muslims are peaceful.” Indeed, it is evident in his own words that he defines Islam according to the adjective radical:

“This is not a tolerant, peaceful religion even though some Muslims are peaceful. Radical Muslims believe that Sharia is required by God and must be imposed worldwide. It’s a movement to take over the world by force. A global caliphate is the objective.”

Ladies and gentlemen, your Republican Party.

(more…)

Your Quote of the Day: McConnell Bites

Like a turkey in the headlights.So Steve Benen gets the early nod for your Quote of the Day, and yes, it is fair to say, “Oh, for ffff―! Boo! Hiss!”

But hearing Mitch McConnell complain about Capitol Hill dysfunction is a bit like hearing Uruguay’s Luis Suarez complaining about biting in soccer. It requires a failure of self-awareness that’s almost too staggering to contemplate.

I mean, really. Talk about going with the obvious. But, yes, Mitch McConnell is complaining about dysfunction in the United States Senate.

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Benen, Steve. “Mitch McConnell and ‘a new level of dysfunction'”. MSNBC. 25 January 2014.

Hulse, Carl and Adam Nagourney. “Senate G.O.P. Leader Finds Weapon in Unity”. The New York Times. 16 March 2010.

Marcos, Cristina. “McConnell: Obama’s bill-signing pen is ‘starting to rust'” The Hill. 24 June 2014.

A Note From Lyme Regis

Greetings arrive from across an ocean, as D&C tour the Jurassic Coast of southwest England. The brief notes with the picture:

• “Real ale in every pub is a worthy goal.”

• “Thatcher’s Old Rascal cider (est. 1904, so … no, not that Thatcher) and Palmer’s Dorset Gold real ale. Cobb Arms, Lyme Regis.”

Thatcher's Old Racal, Palmer's Dorset Gold; Cobb Arms, Lhyme Regis, West Dorset, England. 23 June 2014.

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Image Credit: ©ADH, 2014

The Curse of Seeing: I Did, Therefore You Must, Also

Do you really want to know?If you really, really want to know, Dave Segal explains:

At first I thought the bar staff was having a laugh, but looking around at the clientele and knowing the general horrid level of care that many Clevelanders take with their bodies, I wasn’t entirely sure if this was comedy or a genuine deal.

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Segal, Dave. “Today in Irresponsible Signage”. Slog. 16 June 2014.