Obama Responds to Attack from James Dobson

Barack Obama has responded to the attack from James Dobson on his radio show yesterday. Dobson was criticizing a 2006 speech which I quoted from here and posted the video of here. AP reports:

Speaking to reporters on his campaign plane before landing in Los Angeles, Obama said the speech made the argument that people of faith, like himself, “try to translate some of our concerns in a universal language so that we can have an open and vigorous debate rather than having religion divide us.”

Obama added, “I think you’ll see that he was just making stuff up, maybe for his own purposes.”

Making stuff up? Yes, Dobson is known to do that, as I’ve pointed out here and here.

While I have concentrated on the political aspects of their differences in applying religious beliefs to public policy, Steve Benen also points out how Dobson has also been wrong on theological grounds:

Dobson believes in a literal interpretation of every word in the Christian Bible. Obama, in his ‘06 speech, pointed to specific passages from the Christian Bible. As such, as far as Dobson is concerned, Obama was “distorting” the “traditional understanding” of the Bible? Something doesn’t add up here — if every word of Scripture is literally true, how can anyone distort the Bible by pointing to specific passages?

“Traditional understanding” sounds like some kind of liberal, mamby-pamby, after-the-fact interpretation of the Bible’s plain text, when Dobson is supposed to be, to borrow an expression, a strict constructionist.

Indeed, there’s a bunch of great examples from the Old Testament. Parents can stone a misbehaving child; fathers can sell daughters into slavery; garments made of two different kinds of threads are a real no-no; the list goes on and on. Dobson, on the one hand, believes every word of the Bible is literally true. Dobson, on the other hand, also argues we shouldn’t believe every word of the Bible is literally true but should instead accept a “traditional understanding” of the Bible. To do otherwise, is to “distort” Scripture.

Ultimately, Dobson apparently wants the focus to remain on the New Testament. Note to Dr. Jim: Christians are supposed to embrace both Testaments.

Libertarian Party History and Bob Barr

It might be time for the Libertarian Party to rewrite the page of their web site on their history. On a tip from The Rothenberg Political Report I found a curious item in their history. Among their claimed accomplishments for 2002 is this item:

The “Incumbent Killer” strategy was used to control elections the LP could not yet win. It led to the defeat of Republican Congressman Bob Barr and Democratic Senator Max Cleland. It was also credited with controlling the outcome of the governor’s races in Alabama, Wisconsin, and Oregon, and the US Senate race in South Dakota.

I’m not sure that anyone outside of the Libertarian Party has ever given them credit for defeating incumbents such as Bob Barr and Max Cleland. Besides the questionable validity of this claim, do they really want to brag about having defeated the person who they nominated as their presidential candidate this year?

Illegal Hiring Practices at the Justice Department

One of the abuses of Republican one-party rule was the politicalization of portions of the government which in the past were far less partisan. The Justice Department’s inspector general has released the first in a series of reports following the firing of nine U.S. attorneys on political grounds. The report shows that the Justice Department illegally used “political or ideological” criteria for hiring:

“Many qualified candidates” were rejected for the department’s honors program because of what was perceived as a liberal bias, the report found. Those practices, the report concluded, “constituted misconduct and also violated the department’s policies and civil service law that prohibit discrimination in hiring based on political or ideological affiliations.”

The shift began in 2002, when advisers to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft restructured the honors program in response to what some officials saw as a liberal tilt in recruiting young lawyers from elite law schools like Harvard and Yale. While the recruitment was once controlled largely by career officials in each section who would review applications, political officials in the department began to assume more control, rejecting candidates with liberal or Democratic affiliations “at a significantly higher rate” than those with Republican or conservative credentials, the report said.

The shift appeared to accelerate in 2006, under then-Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, with two aides on the screening committee — Michael Elston and Esther Slater McDonald — singled out for particular criticism. The blocking of applicants with liberal credentials appeared to be a particular problem in the Justice Department’s civil rights division, which has seen an exodus of career employees in recent years as the department has pursued a more conservative agenda in deciding what types of cases to bring.

Applications that contained what were seen as “leftist commentary” or “buzz words” like environmental and social justice were often grounds for rejecting applicants, according to e-mails reviewed by the inspector general’s office. Membership in liberal organizations like the American Constitution Society, Greenpeace, or the Poverty and Race Research Action Council were also seen as negative marks.

While supporting social justice was a negative, needless to say membership in the Federalist Society was a big plus.

Obama on Religion, The Video


Earlier I quoted from Barack Obama’s keynote adress to the Call to Renewal’s Building a Covenant for a New America conference, following the attacks on this from James Dobson. I have added a video clip of a portion of this speech above.