Edwards Bloggers and A Double Standard From the Right

I’ve ignored the controversy over Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon and Melissa McEwan of Shakespeare’s Sister because it was simply not relevant. Anything Edwards himself has said in the past is fair game. Anything Marcotte or McEwan write as members of Edwards’s staff would also be fair game. What they said in the past is not relevant. I care about the views of a candidate. Views that people they hire have expressed in the past do not necessarily represent the candidate’s views.

Salon now writes that they have been fired (although this isn’t certain) following attacks from the right wing. There is a strange double standard here. The attacks have been led by Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League. Media Matters has documented a long list of bigotry on Donohue’s part including:

“People don’t trust the Muslims when it comes to liberty.” [MSNBC’s Scarborough Country, 2/9/06]

“The gay community has yet to apologize to straight people for all the damage that they have done.” [MSNBC’s Scarborough Country, 4/11/05]

“I’m saying if a Catholic votes for Kerry because they support him on abortion rights, that is to cooperate in evil.” [MSNBC’s Hardball, 10/21/04]

“We’ve already won. Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It’s not a secret, OK? And I’m not afraid to say it. … Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common. But you know what? The culture war has been ongoing for a long time. Their side has lost.” [MSNBC’s Scarborough Country, 12/8/04]

While Donohue is waging war on Marcotte and McEwan, he has been quick to forgive others.  They defended Jerome Corsi, coauthor of the discredited  attacks on John Kerry in Unfit for Command  despite his previous attacks on  Muslims and Catholics:

A search of the Catholic League’s website for “Corsi” yields only one result — a 2006 news release in which Donohue defended Corsi (who is referred to in the release as “Jerry Corsi”). The Catholic League release stated, “Corsi once made anti-Catholic jokes on the Internet, and later apologized for doing so,” and quoted Donohue describing Corsi as “someone who once made anti-Catholic quips for which he has long apologized.”

Donohue was also quick to stand up for Mel Gibson:

Donohue said of Gibson, “There’s a lot of people who have made comments which are bigoted who are not necessarily bigots,” adding that he is “concerned now about piling on.” Of those who won’t forgive Gibson, Donohue said: “Who gives a damn about those people?” Donohue then asked, “What kind of blood do they want out of this man?

The Republicans don’t have any problem working with those who have made controversial comments, as Think Progress and The Carpetbagger Report point out.

CNN Coverage of School Prayer and Discrimination Against Atheists

Paula Zhan had a strange panel to discuss discrimination against atheists–two evangelical Christians and Debbie Schlussel, who, despite being Jewish, expressed the strongest belief that this is a Christian nation while making her intolerance towards atheists very clear. They report on a couple in Mississippi who complained to the school principal about the class time devoted to bible study and prayer and were ultimately driven out of town due to their beliefs. Here’s a couple examples from the panel discussion:

ZAHN: And welcome back. We’re talking about whether there’s widespread discrimination against atheists, folks who don’t believe in God. Let’s check out with our out in the open panel now. Stephen Smith, Debbie Schlussel and Karen Hunter. Hey Debbie, it took me 10 times to say your name right. (INAUDIBLE) So do you think atheists should keep their religious beliefs secret? What’s their beliefs period?
HUNTER: What does an atheist believe? Nothing. I think this is such a ridiculous story. Are we not going to take “In God We Trust” off of our dollars? Are we going to not say “one nation under God?” When does it end? We took prayer out of schools. What more do they want?

ZAHN: Are any of you going to defend them here tonight?

SCHLUSSEL: No, I agree with her 100 percent. I think that the real discrimination is atheists against Americans who are religious. Listen, we are a Christian nation. I’m not a Christian. I’m Jewish, but I recognize we’re a Christian country and freedom of religion doesn’t mean freedom from religion. And the problem is that, you have these atheists selectively I believe attacking Christianity. You had a case in California where school children were forced to dress as Muslims and learn from the Koran. In Michigan they’re saying high school (INAUDIBLE) in high school where they say Muslim prayers at the football games, public high school, (INAUDIBLE) in high school. You don’t see atheists complaining about that. I really believe that they are the ones who are the intolerant ones against Christians.

Later in the discussion:

ZAHN: Can you explain to me where you feel the assault? When 97 percent of the folks in this country claim to worship some kind of God, the 1 to 3 percent of this population that doesn’t believe in God, who are they hurting?

HUNTER: Eight to 12 percent. (INAUDIBLE) They’re not hurting anyone. I personally don’t have a problem with an atheist. Believe or don’t believe what you want. Don’t impose upon my right to want to have prayer in schools, to want to say the pledge of allegiance, to want to honor my God. Don’t infringe upon that right.

SMITH: When they want to take – when they want to take God out of the pledge of allegiance or whatever, this is what I’m saying. They’re saying, OK, that’s Christian. What if you’re a Muslim? What if you’re someone of a different belief?

SCHLUSSEL: This is a Christian country.

SMITH: I understand that, but what they’re saying is how can — if we’re inclusionary, why can’t we include all that and we’re not. That’s my point.

SCHLUSSEL: (INAUDIBLE) Look where there are more atheists and where they’ve lost God, where the church is not that strong. Europe is becoming Islamist. It’s fast falling and intolerance is increasing. That’s the one reason our country has not become like Europe because we have strong Christians and because atheists are not strong. And I think that’s a good thing.

Several bloggers are beginning to protest this, questioning why there wasn’t an atheist included in the discussion to defend their views (here, here, here, here, and here). More importantly, I’d like to see someone who would present a stronger argument for separation of church and state regardless of their own personal religious views. Even conservative Mike Huckabee did a better job of discussing prayer in the schools recently.

Beware of the Nanny State: Ban Proposed On Walking & Listening to MP3 Players

Lyndon Johnson used to claim that Gerald Ford couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time, but a New York State Senator is taking this a bit too far. Karl Kruger has proposed legislation to “ban people from using an MP3 player, cell phone, Blackberry or any other electronic device while crossing the street in New York City and Buffalo.”

NewsChannel 4 reported that Sen. Carl Kruger is proposing the ban in response to two recent pedestrian deaths in his district, including a 23-year-old man who was struck and killed last month while listening to his iPod on Avenue T and East 71st Street In Bergen Beach.

“While people are tuning into their iPods and cell phones, they’re tuning out the world around them,” Kruger said. The proposed law would make talking on cell phones while crossing the street a comparable offense to jaywalking.

There’s some justification for limiting use of cell phones while driving, but this is going way too far. From what I’ve seen when visiting Manhattan, I just don’t think that New Yorkers can survive walking the streets without a cell phone in one hand and a cup of Starbucks in the other.

Searching For Signs of Sanity Among the GOP Candidates

The Republican field is not shaping up well for those of us who are liberal on social issues. Rudy Giuliani might be considered “far outside the mainstream of conservative thought” by the Family Research Council, but his support for right wing judges and attempts to minimize his liberal positions make it difficult to consider supporting him. Even if tempted, his support for Bush’s undermining of our national security, along with his speech at the Republican Hate Fest over Labor Day weekend of 2004 make him even more unacceptable.

Knowing that the Republicans will have someone as their nominee, I am forced to grasp at any sign that the current field is less extremist than the current administration. Washington Wire presents some hopeful comments on separating religion from public life from Mike Huckabee:

The family that prays together doesn’t have to worry about the absence of government-mandated prayer in public schools, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee told a group of reporters today.

The comments from Huckabee, who recently stepped down after a successful decade as Arkansas governor, were something of a surprise coming from the former Southern Baptist minister who has enjoyed support from Christian conservatives in his political climb — and hopes to do so again in his bid for Republicans’ 2008 presidential nomination. Decades after the Supreme Court struck down prayer in public schools as an unconstitutional violation of religious freedom, the issue continues to rankle Christian conservativates.

But Huckabee said he never could understand why so many people “railed against (the absence of) prayer in schools when they didn’t even pray at home.”

The former governor’s remarks on prayer came as he answered a question on whether the U.S.—contrary to Bush administration policy — should be diplomatically engaging Iran and Syria to address the Mideast conflicts. “Generally I don’t think talking to someone is a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength,” Huckabee said. Then, in making the point that people should seek out different points of view, as an aside he noted that fellow conservatives often had asked him why he and his wife sent their children to public schools rather than to Christian schools.

“I felt it was not the schools’ job,” he said, to teach his children to pray, but the family’s. For himself, Huckabee quipped, “I prayed in school every time I took a math test.”

Tuesday Night Television Controversy Part II: Boston Legal

Boston Legal was the second show Tuesday night which touched on controversial issues (with Veronica Mars discussed in the previous post.) Judge Clark Brown (Henry Gibson) hires Denny, who brings in Alan and Bethany, to sue a company which promised to cure him of his same sex attraction by religious indoctrination. Judge Brown is suing because the treatment didn’t cure him of his homosexuality, and included one of Alan Shore’s weekly soap box closing arguments, this time with soap box actually included. Besides getting a chance to criticize treatment of homosexuality by the right wing, Alan managed to also get the opportunity to mock pharmaceutical industry invented diseases such as restless leg syndrome.

ABC got a lucky break to make the episode appear more relevant as headlines earlier in the day proclaimed that Haggard says he is “completely heterosexual” AP reports:

One of four ministers who oversaw three weeks of intensive counseling for the Rev. Ted Haggard said the disgraced minister emerged convinced that he is “completely heterosexual.

Haggard also said his sexual contact with men was limited to the former male prostitute who came forward with sexual allegations, the Rev. Tim Ralph of Larkspur told The Denver Post for a story in Tuesday’s edition.

This sounds like an even bigger con than the one on Boston Legal with Ted Haggard now looking like the witnesses who claimed they were cured by the program (with Alan expressing skepticism over their long term prognosis). Andrew Sullivan notes the contradiction between the claims of sexual contacts with only one man and the statements that Haggard was treated for “sexual addiction.” Sullivan concludes:

And so the psychological and spiritual abuse that Haggard has imposed on others and is now imposing on himself continues for another cycle of denial and pathology. And that is what, sadly, a great deal of Christian fundamentalism is caught up in: a vortex of denial of reality and rigid psychological resistance to self-acceptance. It is, in my view, a fear-gripped rejection of the beneficence and compassion of God, not an openness toward the divine. It’s a therapy that is actually an illness. And Haggard is getting sicker.

Another story line on the show was also somewhat controversial. I won’t get into summarizing the details, but for those who watched I was also bothered by having the girl’s father also fill the roles of both treating psychiatrist and expert witness. The father should not have been treating a family member in making such a controversial decision, and, while I am certainly not an attorney, I question whether he’d also be allowed to testify as the expert witness.

Many aspects of this episode were also troubling to Sister Toldjah which calls this Liberal propaganda at its worst. They also make a point of linking to further examples of liberal propaganda on the show, which is hardly necessary. I don’t think anyone would deny the liberal bias of the show, however bias on an entertainment show isn’t of much concern. It’s not like they are pretending to be a fair and balanced news network. If Sister Toldjah is bothered by this episode, I suggest that they just take some Propranolol and forget about it.

Tuesday Night Television Controversy Part I: Veronica Mars

Tuesday night television hit a couple of controversial subjects tonight. Think Progress caught a significant error in the online description for Veronica Mars. The show’s description states that a classmate hires Veronica after someone “secretly slipped her the morning after pill, causing her to have a miscarriage.” Amanda at Think Progress was justifiably concerned that young women watching the show would receive the false impression that Plan B, commonly referred to as the morning after pill, causes miscarriages when its effect is actually to reduce the risk of abortion by up to 89%. Plan B works by delaying or preventing ovulation, interfering with fertilization, and it may inhibit implantation by altering the lining of the uterus. It has no effect once the process of implantation has begun and does not cause miscarriages.

The show itself was more accurate than the web description. I have not seen the shown yet, but those who have watched and commented report that the show made it clear that RU-486 was used and not Plan B. Hopefully the on-line description will also be corrected to prevent misconceptions (no pun intended).

While I didn’t get to my recording of Veronica Mars tonight, I did catch the earlier hour on CW. There was a less controversial medical error on Gilmore Girls as Richard Gilmore had a Myocardial Infarction. Richard first received underwent a cardiac catheterization and subsequently was rushed for emergency bypass surgery. Both were done by the same physician when in reality a cardiologist would have handled the initial work up, including cath, and a cardiac surgeon would be consulted if surgery was found to be necessary. (Also on this episode, Richard looked remarkably well so soon after the surgery, and they sure are turning Christopher into a jerk.)

The blurring of specialties is not uncommon for television. I also didn’t get to Tuesday’s episode of House yet, but if I did I’m sure that I would have seen House and his staff perform procedures done by a wide variety of specialties in a hospital which appears to be limited to House’s group, an Oncologist, and a Physician/Administrator.

While I didn’t get to Veronica Mars or House, besides Gilmore Girls we did watch Boston Legal. To be continued.

More discussion of Veronica Mars at Feministing, Reproductive Rights Blog, Bitch Ph.D. and Echidne of the Snakes.