Friday, February 25, 2005

God Is Still Speaking, round II

The second round of the UCC's God Is Still Speaking ads is set to air in Lent.

Details from fellow blogger Fredrick Clarkson.

Reward good behavior: the UCC still needs a passel of cash to pay for the latest ad buy.


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We take action, too

From the UCC Justice and Peace Network:
Dear JPANet Member,

As people of faith and religious commitment, we are called to seek justice for those who are vulnerable or living in poverty. The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families legislation (TANF), which incorporates many features of our public welfare system, is set to expire on March 31, 2005. Congress will begin to mark up the legislation the week of March 7, and, once again, programs meeting human needs are at risk, including funding for child care. Contact your senators and urge them to advocate for a fair and equitable TANF bill that protects vital human services.

TANF was first due to be reauthorized in 2002, but many of the rule changes proposed in the 2002 reauthorization deliberations met with tremendous opposition from members of Congress, the religious community, service providers, and the millions of families for whom TANF is a lifeline out of poverty.

Currently, bipartisan meetings are underway to seek common ground in the Senate Finance Committee, led by the Finance Committee Chair Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and the ranking minority member Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT). The results of these meetings may well determine what will be sent as an early authorization bill to the floor.

There are two critical advocacy issues in these negotiations. The first is to include $8 billion in child care funding voted for in March of last year by the Senate in the bill itself, not as an add-on amendment. This would recognize the critical role of child care in helping families - and especially single mothers - to seek education and workforce advancement. The second is to insure that provisions in the bill regarding services for people with disabilities, parent education and training, work requirements for aid recipients, and immigrant services are strengthened in the TANF bill when it is marked up in the committee.

Contact your senators and urge them to advocate for a fair and equitable TANF bill that protects vital human services. Send an e-mail or fax message by clicking http://www.ucctakeaction.org/ctt.asp?u=3735004&l=80506


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Divorce, Anglican Style

No, we're not talking about Charles and Camilla. They're getting married, remember?


What we're talking about is the request of the worldwide Anglican Communion for the US and Canadian branches of the church "withdraw their representatives temporarily from a key governing body of the denomination" (NYT) in response to two issues: the ordination of Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopalian bishop, and the blessing of same-sex unions.


What it means and why you should care below the fold.


So what is going on? See here for a full explanation, but the short version is that conservative Anglicans have been very upset with Robinson's ordination and the decision of some dioceses to bless same-sex unions.


The conservative groups, including several African and Asian bishops, wanted the Episcopal Church in the USA (ECUSA) and the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC) to "repent" of their actions, or face outright expulsion from the Anglican Communion.


But that's not the way Anglicans do things.


The request for the North American churches to withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council is an intermediate step. It gives those churches time to consider their positions before the controversy moves into a more serious phase. In this case, it gives those churches until 2008, when the next Lambeth Conference is held. If no apology or change of course is forthcoming by that time, the North Americans could be officially excommunicated.


The presiding bishops of the US and Canada are playing for time, but according to some reports, the two churches probably won't back down:

In the liberal camp, American Bishop Steve Charleston said the North Americans were unlikely to change their position.


"I think Gene is something of a champion of human rights," he told BBC Radio.


"Like people of color before him, they got tired of sitting at the back of the bus and it was time to stand up and say 'Here I am, I am an honest decent human being and you must treat me with respect.' That is essentially what Gene is doing and I honor him for it."



This BBC reporter thinks a split in the church is almost inevitable, despite statements to the contrary from various bishops.


What will come of this? Let's throw out some scenarios, roughly in order of their likelihood:

  1. Conservative churches in the US and Canada will use this as their excuse to bolt. This part will happen, whether now or in 2008. These churches have several options: they may become independent congregations, affiliate with another Anglican bishop more congenial to their outlook, or join another denomination or network. (Some churches have gone Catholic; others have joined splinter groups.) Whatever the case, look for the ECUSA in particular to a)lose some parishes and b)be tied up in litigation in the next couple of years.


  2. The conservative revolt spreads to other denominations. The most likely candidate is the United Methodist Church, which has a polity similar to the Episcopal church. Groups sponsored by Richard Mellon Scaife are also active in both denominations. The UMC is also vulnerable because of its historical North-South tensions, and newer divisions between traditionalist and evangelical camps.


  3. The revolt spreads beyond ECUSA and the UMC to unrelated churches. Most likely are the Presbyterians, but the ELCA and UCC could also be hit with church walkouts. (The UCC already has a problem with this, but the trend could accelerate.)


  4. The fracturing of political/ideological lines leads to a general realignment of denominations into two camps: conservative and liberal. It's unlikely that any new denominations will arise, at least not in the near future. But probably, we will see some new ties being forged, whether through new "meta-denominational" structures, or simple agreements to work on common causes.


    Again, realignment is unlikely, but it needs to be counted as a real possibility. Already, some Baptist congregations have left their associations and joined the UCC. In other words, it has happened that questions of polity and history have taken a back seat to affiliation based on acceptance of gays and lesbians. Particularly as mainline denominations face harsh realities with pensions and health care costs, there may be some impetus to work together with like-minded bodies.


One wildcard in this is the Pope's health, believe it or not. Nobody really knows which direction the Catholic Church will take when John Paul II inevitably meets his maker. Nor do they know how the future course of the church will be met in America. The next few years could turn out to be a fresh start--or they could continue along the same grim path already travelled in recent years. Don't discount Catholic influence; their liturgical reform in the wake of Vatican II led to an unparalleled wave of changes in Protestant worship.


After all this, why should you care? Well, there are a couple of reasons: first, this presents a real opportunity for liberal churches. Given the current dominance of conservative faith and politics in the US, churches that break away over homosexuality are unlikely to gain much ground from the issue. They've topped out.


But, if conservatives walk out, it might leave those left behind (ha, ha) feeling more free to take more progressive stands on issues--and a bit more determined to do so. Things might get a little more noisy, but in the end, the liberal voice may be strengthened by the whole mess.


And like it or not, religion and politics in the United States are mutually influential. A realignment in the church might be a real struggle in the short term--but it might lead to some exciting new possibilities in shared purpose and vision. That might in turn bleed over to the world of progressive politics, which is already showing signs of its own forced realignment.


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Talon News: Anatomy of a Kerry Smear Part 2

from grannyhelen. As I mentioned in Part 1, I am embedded-link challenged in blogger, so for all links please click on the title which will take you to the cross-post of this diary in Daily Kos.

This is an ongoing diary series wherein we explore the topic, "was Jeff Gannon/James Gucker's former employer, Talon News, a vehicle for the Bush/Cheney 04 campaign to conduct a whisper campaign against John Kerry, while birthing their own press releases as "news articles".

In order to evaluate this topic, I've laid out some key articles written by Talon News staff in a timeline. Part 1 covered the articles from June 16, 2003 through April 9, 2004. In Part 2 we explore Talon News articles written from May 21, 2004 (chronologically the next article in our timeline) through September 29, 2004.

Before we dive right in, let me address one issue that arose in the discussion of Part 1: the flow of propaganda from the White House to Talon News to the Consumer. I think in some instances there may be cases when this happened, but overall I don't believe this was the entire scope of Talon's role. Let me provide an excerpt from a radical right-wing blog I encountered when I was researching these articles (my emphasis added):

The Magruder claim of a cover-up was confirmed on May 4 at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington. Swift Boat Veterans for Truth announced that 220 out of 229 Swift boat Vietnam veterans contacted (96%) had signed an open letter to Kerry challenging his fitness to serve as Commander-in-Chief. This is the unit Kerry served with in Vietnam. NBC, ABC, and the Associated Press, in a clear cover-up, all refused to report to the American people on the conference. Dan Rather mentioned it briefly on CBS Evening News but dismissed it as "allied with the Bush campaign." A second confirmation of the Magruder data came when Talon News out of Washington, D.C., in a press release titled, "Veterans Deserting Kerry," said, "Buried deep inside the internals of a CBS poll released Wednesday was a startling statistic: veterans prefer Bush over Kerry 54 to 41. Not surprisingly, coverage of the stunning poll result has been slim to none. `It's buried in every poll that I have seen,' said Bush-Cheney spokesman Scott Stanzel."


You see, I believe a part of Talon's role was to take a Kerry smear from the radical right-wing media and give it validity in the mainstream. Note the wording the blogger uses, "a second confirmation of Magruder data came from Talon News out of Washington, D.C. in a press release..." I think part of Talons' role was providing this "second confirmation" of salacious gossip and rumors so that the mainstream media would be more likely to cover it because a second "news organization" had verified the story.

Does this mean a link to either the White House or the Bush-Cheney 04 campaign is very difficult to prove? Yep. Does it mean the link doesn't exist? Nope, but if Talon was a front for either the White House or the campaign under this model it means a whole lot of digging is going to be required to find that link.

This diary follows the same game rules as before: I've excerpted some articles where there are parts that I have found important or egregious; for all articles I've provided links. And sometimes I'll introduce them if the mood strikes.

Ready...steady....read!

May 21, 2004
Kerry Campaign Theme Taken From Poem About Black American Struggles By Jimmy Moore

I didn't feel the need to excerpt the following article. It is your standard, Bush-Cheney 04 campaign puff piece.

May 25, 2004
Veterans Support Bush Reelection Efforts With Online Chats By Jimmy Moore

Remember this name: Jonathan Stein of Hofstra University. Say it loud, say it proud: Jonathan Stein of Hofstra University. Why? Because this isn't the first time this law student's activities were covered by Talon News, and that's something I've found a little intriguing.

June 17, 2004
Kerry, Senate Secretary Facing Ethics Complaint by Jeff Gannon

WASHINGTON (Talon News) --Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) met with Secretary of the Senate Emily Reynolds Wednesday to discuss ethics complaints stemming from his prolonged absence from the legislative body while he campaigns for president. Kerry and Reynolds were spotted by Congressional staffers slipping into one of the many antechambers of the Capitol where the pair likely reviewed options for dealing with the complaints filed against both of them.

A complaint filed by Hofstra law student Jonathan Stein accuses Reynolds of willfully violating a federal statute that requires her to make deductions from Kerry's Senate paycheck for his absences. Kerry is also named in the complaint for knowingly accepting salary to which he is not entitled.

The issue was first raised in a March 2004 letter to Reynolds from American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene who requested that she enforce the statute concerning Kerry's salary. Reynolds responded to Keene's letter, refusing to enforce the statute because her predecessors had not done so in other cases...

...The Hofstra law student told Talon News that he decided to file the complaint in the interest of "preserving the rule of law."

Having recently completed coursework on constitutional law, he says that he is exercising his First Amendment right to "petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Stein says that the law in this matter is "absolutely clear" and lawmakers cannot consider themselves above it.

Kerry has voted only 14 times out of the Senate's 112 votes this year, a record Stein says is "egregious."


In fairness, the below piece was not listed as a news article, but it comes from one of Talon's "news reporters", Doug Patton. The reason why I think it's fair to bring up is there seems to be a fair amount of "thought policing" being done of mainstream journalists by the radical right wing, most recently in the case of Eason Jordan. Therefore, I think it's only fair to bring up the comments of one of Talon's "news people", even if it's outside of a "news piece".

July 13, 2004
Moore's Jihad Sets the Tone for Kerry Campaign by Doug Patton

Recent polls indicate that the politically ignorant among us, who apparently get their news from Entertainment Tonight ("Which ticket has better hair? Stay tuned to find out what America thinks!"), tend to look at Kerry and Edwards without regard to their liberal voting record in the United States Senate. These people seem to think Kerry is conservative because he is rich, boring and stuffy. They look at Edwards and believe he is a moderate because he has an easy smile and because he ran a positive primary campaign.

Some of these political ignoramuses are buying the propaganda being peddled in "Fahrenheit 9/11", a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Thank God most of them don't vote.


July 21, 2004
Kerry Receives Communist Endorsement by Jeff Gannon

The Associated Press reported Monday that the head of the communist movement in Nicaragua and Sandinista Leader Tomas Borge announced his support for Sen. John Kerry's (D-MA) presidential bid...

...The Republican National Committee suggested that Borge must be one of the foreign leaders the Democratic presidential candidate says wants him to win in November.

"The cloud of mystery surrounding John Kerry's support by foreign leaders lifted a little over the weekend. Since Sen. Kerry won't tell us who they are we will continue to monitor New York's fine dining establishments hoping to glean some insight into the other still-mysterious foreign leaders supporting John Kerry," said RNC Communications Director Jim Dyke.


Okay, ready to exercise that irony muscle? This article is about the Kerry campaign scrubbing something from their website...and what does that mean? What did the scrubbed part of the website say?

Also, I thought the comments on Ambassador Wilson by Jeff Gannon were also interesting, as Gannon is stating for the record that Wilson has been "discredited".

July 22, 2004
Kerry Anti-Terror Plan Removed From Campaign Web Site After Berger Revelation by Jeff Gannon

McAuliffe has great cause for concern since two important Kerry advisors have been damaged in the past two weeks.

Former Ambassador Joe Wilson was discredited by a Senate Intelligence Committee report that contradicted Wilson's public statements about how he was selected for a sensitive mission to Niger in 2002 and the results of his report about Saddam Hussein's attempt to purchase uranium in Africa. Wilson represented his investigation as proof that President Bush misled the United States in making the case for the invasion of Iraq. An investigation into British intelligence confirms that Bush's claim was "well founded."


July 27, 2004
Senior Leaders Highlight Day One at Dem Convention by Steve Roeder

But wait, there's more! We haven't seen the last of law student Jonathan Stein of Hofstra University...

August 2, 2004
Kerry Won't Be Punished For Senate Absence by Jeff Gannon:

WASHINGTON (Talon News) -- The Senate Ethics Committee rejected a complaint filed against Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) for continuing to draw a paycheck despite having missed most of the legislative session this year while campaigning for president. At the time of the filing, Kerry had voted only 14 times out of the Senate's 112 votes this year.

Secretary of the Senate Emily Reynolds was also named in the complaint, citing her responsibility to enforce the federal statute that requires she make deductions from a senator's paycheck for absence. In a letter to American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene, Reynolds refused to enforce the statute because her predecessors had not done so in other cases.

The complaint was filed by Hofstra law student Jonathan Stein, who accused Reynolds of willfully violating a federal statute and criticized Kerry for knowingly accepting salary to which he is not entitled.

A letter from Ethics Committee Chief Counsel Robert Walker said that Stein's complaint "lacks substantial merit." He noted that no deductions have been made in over 100 years, and "reasonable uncertainty over the continued viability" of the statute Stein says has been violated.


Yep, that Jonathan Stein of Hofstra University sure does make headlines, don't he?

August 11, 2004
New York Times' Objectivity Challenged in FTC Complaint by Jeff Gannon

A Hofstra law student has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against the New York Times alleging the publication's use of the slogan, "All the news that's fit to print" is false advertising and constitutes a deceptive practice. He claims that the Times' use of "push-polling" is a violation of the FTC Act.

Jonathan Stein said he filed the complaint because he believes the NYT has abused its power and abdicated its responsibility to be objective.

He told Talon News, "The New York Times has enormous power to shape public opinion and the FTC must review the paper's claim that it is an objective news source."

He accused the NYT of using "push-polling" to obtain results that support a particular position or affect public opinion with the wording of the questions. Stein claimed that the paper has been "weighting" poll numbers so that the results slant in favor of liberals and Democrats. He said that multipliers are applied to the samples that unfairly skew the outcome, consistently giving Democratic responses more weight, and Republicans less weight.

Stein asserts that news articles generated using the tainted results mislead its vast reader base. Besides its daily circulation of 1.13 million, NYT Company also publishes The Boston Globe and 16 other newspapers; owns eight network-affiliated television stations and two New York radio stations; and has more than 40 web sites, including NYTimes.com and Boston.com. Columns appearing in the NYT are syndicated throughout this extensive media network.


August 19, 2004
Former Kerry Lover Reveals Intimate Thoughts, Photos On Web Site By Jimmy Moore

Now, you'd think this would cover "mixed reviews" from Democrats and Republicans. But it doesn't.

August 27, 2004
GOP Platform Receiving Mixed Reviews By Bobby Eberle

NEW YORK (Talon News) -- As the 2004 GOP platform is being finalized in preparation for Monday's opening of the Republican National Convention, conservatives have mixed feelings on the document which is supposed to be a statement of Republican principles and beliefs.

The Christian Coalition stated on Thursday that it "applauds the Republican Party National Convention platform for being a pro-family conservative document and protecting the strong right-to-life position which has been in the Republican Party platform since President Ronald Reagan's first term."...

...However, other conservatives such as Richard Lessner, the Executive Director of the American Conservative Union, see the new GOP platform as short on core conservative principles. Lessner, in an e-mail to conservative activists, describes the platform as not a "pretty picture...

...Lessner said that the most controversial plank in the draft platform was on immigration, "specifically President Bush's proposal for a guest worker program for illegal aliens, a plan that also would put those who entered America unlawfully on the path to U.S. citizenship."...


September 1, 2004
Bush Spokesman Sizes Up Campaign By Bobby Eberle

Holt noted that the message from Kerry and the Democrats has been "far more angrier, far more out of the main stream, and the president has remained a very durable figure."

"The American people know him," Holt explained. "They feel more comfortable with him. Ultimately it's going to be about who makes a better commander-in-chief and who connects better with the American people."


September 8, 2004
Campaigns Duel on Outsourcing Issue By Bobby Eberle Talon News

Bush-Cheney Campaign Spokesman Steve Schmidt said that Kerry's own list of business supporters includes "outsourcers and a sweatshop owner."

"He has even said he would 'support' companies taking jobs overseas 'in the normal course of business,'" Schmidt added. "Kerry's shifting positions on outsourcing are another reason that he faces a credibility problem with the American people."...

...The U.S Chamber of Commerce also came out earlier this year against Kerry's plan.

"Raising taxes on U.S. companies that do business abroad will only make these companies less competitive, less profitable, and less likely to create new jobs at home or abroad," the Chamber said in a press release.

In April, the Institute for International Economics issued a report which said Kerry's plan would make U.S. companies less competitive.

"Our analysis indicates that the proposed reforms would do more to benefit foreign-based ... [multinational companies] than to prompt US-based MNCs to relocate operations in the United States," the report stated.

"Sen. Kerry's prescription to level the tax field by ending deferral is wrong," the report added. "It would actually tilt the tax field more steeply in favor of foreign MNCs, [and it would] damage the U.S. competitive position in world markets."


I haven't found any of the below Talon News "articles" yet. The link to the headlines is here:

http://www.webcommentary.com/asp/ShowAuthor.asp?id=tseugtn

I've provided these headlines because the timing of at least one of them - the speculation of CBS's "60 Minutes" documents being forged - could be relevant.

September 12, 2004
Kerry Anti-War Ally Recants 1971 Claims of War Crimes

White House Blasts Paper For Parroting Kerry Attack on Bush Service Record

CBS "60 Minutes" Documents on Bush May Be Forged

September 17, 2004
Heinz Kerry: Hurricane Victims Should Just 'Go Naked' By Jimmy Moore

Tens of thousands of families were completely devastated by Hurricane Ivan as it came through the Caribbean islands last week, including leaving 60 percent of the population of Granada homeless and without food or water.

Responding to this, Heinz Kerry shared her opinion that the Caribbean needs water and food more than they need clothing.

"Clothing is wonderful, but let them go naked for a while, at least the kids," Heinz Kerry exclaimed. "Water is necessary, and then generators, and then food, and then clothes."


September 23, 2004
MoveOn: Bush to Blame For 'Extreme' Hurricane Season By Jimmy Moore

SPARTANBURG, SC (Talon News) -- Attempting to take political advantage of the devastating hurricanes that have hit Florida and the southeastern section of the United States in the past few weeks, liberal political action group MoveOn.org is saying that President George W. Bush is to blame for "making extreme weather stronger."


September 24, 2004
Heinz Kerry 'Not Surprised' If Bin Laden Captured Before Election By Jimmy Moore

Still workin' that irony muscle? Good.

September 27, 2004
CBS, Kerry Campaign Hit With FEC Complaint By Jeff Gannon

WASHINGTON (Talon News) -- The Center for Individual Freedom, a Virginia-based, constitutional advocacy group filed a complaint last week with the Federal Election Commission charging that CBS and Kerry-Edwards 2004, Inc. illegally coordinated election communications. The complaint charges that CBS and the Kerry campaign violated federal campaign finance laws when they colluded to attack President George W. Bush based on claims and documents now believed to be fake.

Jeffrey Mazzella, the Center's Executive Director, said in a press release, "It's obvious that CBS and the Kerry campaign acted improperly. That much is clear to anyone with a pulse."

Mazzella added, "But what's been lost is that CBS and its executives blatantly violated federal election laws when they overtly ignored basic journalistic ethical standards and coordinated with the Kerry campaign in order to run an attack story in an effort to affect the outcome of the November presidential election. Our complaint makes this very clear."...

... Under the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, media organizations are exempt from provisions barring corporations from engaging in "electioneering communications" within 60 days of a general election. But the Center argued that CBS forfeited its exemption by illegally coordinating a partisan attack on the president only 55 days before an election.


And when there's nothing else to talk about...

September 29, 2004
Kerry Attacks College Republicans Over Convention Vendor's T-shirts By Jeff Gannon

Democrat presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) issued a condemnation of the College Republican National Committee along with an appeal for contributions last week over some T-shirts sold by a vendor at their convention in July. Kerry says the T-shirt slogans, creations of a Florida company, are racist and anti-gay.

Several T-shirt images appear on Kerry's campaign website. One has a photo of filmmaker Spike Lee and the message "Bring back the blacklist." Another says, "No Muslims No Terrorism." Rosie O'Donnell and her lesbian partner appear on another questioning which one is "Mr." in the relationship. A fourth shirt shows the World Trade Center after a plane crashed into it with the caption, "The Clinton Legacy."


The Massachusetts Democrat's appeal pleaded, "I need you to join me in showing we reject the divisive politics some in the GOP are passing on to a new generation of Republicans."...

...Having been stung over the past several months over criticism of his positions and claiming infringement of free speech, the candidate wrote, "I support the First Amendment, and I am using my right to free speech to protest their politics of division. But our protest must come in actions not words. Click here to contribute now."



Part 3 coming soon.


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Factoid for the day

faithforward is site number four on the Spanish Google list for "funny pictures of the Pope".

Our new life's mission: number one.


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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Another one for the Enemies List

Patti Bouvier from the The Simpsons:
Anticipation has been building for months at FOX over who would be outed on The Simpsons? After months of speculation, it was Marge's sister Patti Bouvier who took a trip down the aisle with Veronica, a pro golfer.

But in typical Simpsons fashion, things couldn’t stop there. Veronica turned out to be a man, as was revealed by a protruding adam’s apple at the altar. The ceremony, which was presided over by Homer after he applied to minister same-sex marriages on the Internet, may not have been a success, but Patti is officially out to her cartoon family.

...

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation welcomed the development, describing it as a "ray of light."




The Usual Suspects are outraged. Outraged:
Ed Vitagliano, a researcher for the Mississippi-based American Family Association, says anyone who does not believe that Hollywood has a pro-homosexual agenda learned from Sunday's episode of The Simpsons that that is not the case.

"Even though The Simpsons is generally kind of a wacky animated program, it was still very one-sided in its presentation on the issue of same-sex marriage," Vitagliano says.

The AFA researcher notes how the pastor in the program, Rev. Lovejoy, was portrayed in the episode.

"Reverend Lovejoy was shown to be rather hypocritical," Vitagliano says. "He believes that the Bible does not allow same-sex marriage. And yet when Marge tried to show him and explain to him that, as she put it, scriptural scholars disagree on this issue, he simply began ringing the church bell to drown out her supposedly more reasonable approach to the issue."

Vitagliano points out that although The Simpsons really is not a kid-friendly show, many young people do watch it. And Hollywood, he says, will "pull out all the stops" to promote same-sex marriage -- and children will be influenced by it.


Cartoon homosexuals: bad for one another. Bad for America.


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Anybody need a bowling alley?

Link.


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Talon News: Anatomy of a Kerry Smear Part 1

from grannyhelen - NOTE: I'm a little embed-link challenged in blogger...especially with extensive links like these. To view links please visit the external link which leads to my crosspost at dKos.

Okay, I'll admit it: I was thinking of titling this diary series, "Talon News, Blow By Blow", but I thought I'd leave the low, low, low-brow humor out of the title...at least.

What's up with Jeff Gannon/James Guckert's former employer, Talon News? Why did they scrub almost ALL of their previous "news articles", including those not written by Gannon? Were they (and are they still) a "front" organization for the Bush administration and/or the Bush/Cheney04 campaign? Or are they - as a fellow Kossak put it to me, "the Trekkies of the Republican Party"?

After reviewing what is literally a virtual cornucopia of articles by different Talon News authors, both through viewing the cache of different articles from Talon's website and through a bit of old-fashioned googling of reprints of article excerpts from all over the radical right-wing blogosphere, I feel my hypothesis that Talon was a vehicle for the Bush/Cheney 04 campaign to conduct a whisper campaign against John Kerry, while birthing their own press releases as "news articles", is strengthened. But instead of cherry-picking my research to prove my point, I feel strongly that it should be presented to all and sundry who choose to review it, so that Talon's "news coverage" can be analyzed.

So, pull up a big bowl of buttered popcorn, pop open a can of diet soda and get ready to experience a slice of life from the radical right-wing in this country. Then, after reading the same articles I've reviewed this week, chime in and let me know what you think Talon's deal is.

Part 1 of this diary series covers Talon News articles from June 16, 2003 through April 9, 2004. For some articles I've excerpted parts that I feel are either very important or very egregious; all articles have links back to the original websites where I discovered them. And sometimes I might slip a comment or two to introduce the article if the mood hits.

Let's get down and fun-kay!

June 16, 2003
Senate Democrats Richer Than GOP Counterparts By Jeff Gannon

Note: this is the first - and only - Talon News "article" I've run across authored by Charles Mahaleris.

November 12, 2003
Gephardt: Bush Allied with Homophobic Bigotry By Charles Mahaleris

This is not the first time during this campaign cycle when presidential contenders spoke out in favor of allowing homosexuals to marry.

In August, Presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) blasted Pope John Paul II, telling the pontiff to keep his theology out of American politics when it comes to homosexual rights.

Kerry, responding to urgings from the Vatican that Catholic politicians stand firm against gay marriages, said, "I believe in the church, and I care about it enormously. But I think that it's important to not have the church instructing politicians. That is an inappropriate crossing of the line in America."


Ah, you gotta love G/G. Not only does he create his own news, he uses Hannity to promote it.

February 10, 2004
Kerry's Anti-War Record Discussed at White House Briefing by Jeff Gannon:

This was the exchange at today's White House press briefing, much of which focused on George W. Bush's service records with the National Guard.

JEFF GANNON (Talon News): Since there have been so many questions about what the President was doing over 30 years ago, what is it that he did after his honorable discharge from the National Guard?

Did he make speeches alongside Jane Fonda, denouncing America's racist war in Vietnam? Did he testify before Congress that American troops committed war crimes in Vietnam?

And did he throw somebody else's medals at the White House to protest a war America was still fighting?

What was he doing after he was honorably discharged?

MR. McCLELLAN: We've already commented on some of his views relating back to that period the other day. And, obviously, this was a time period also when he was going to get his MBA at Harvard. But the President was certainly proud to serve in the National Guard.

TERRY MORAN (ABC NEWS): And would the White House consider those actions by Senator Kerry, that Jeff mentions fair game in the political season?

MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, I think -- I know that that's a way to try to draw us into a Democratic primary that is ongoing.


And that same day...

Jeff Gannon goes on Sean Hannity (source KSFO 560 San Francisco):

Sean spends a moment with Jeff Gannon, Washington Bureau Chief for Talon News.com. Jeff talks about his daily meetings with White House Press Secretary Scott McCellan.


February 13, 2004
Alleged Kerry Affair with Intern Draws Media Attention By Jimmy Moore (coverage of Drudge report of "last Thursday")

Yet, retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, who dropped out of the race on Wednesday and will officially endorse Kerry for the Democrat nomination today, told a group of reporters earlier this week, "Kerry will implode over an intern issue."

"Three reporters in attendance confirm Clark made the startling comments," Drudge contends.

Actually, ShortNews.com reports Clark reluctantly confirmed he made the statement on Thursday.

These reporters who heard Clark make the statements are amazed the retired Army general would endorse Kerry.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who last week said he would drop out of the race if he did not win the Wisconsin primary on February 17, apparently changed his mind because of these looming charges against Kerry, campaign officials told Drudge.

But Dean campaign officials said this is "absolutely false" and "didn't have anything to do with our decision" to remain in the race.

"I actually think it's too bad this is starting," an anonymous Dean campaign aide told Scotsman.com. "It has no relevance to the campaign."

Nevertheless, in the past few days, the criticism of Kerry has become more intense by the Dean campaign, including Dean describing Kerry as a part of "the corrupt political culture in Washington."


Hmm...creating our own news cycle, aren't we?

February 17, 2004
Fonda Defends Kerry's Anti-War Past by Jeff Gannon

One day after the raucous White House press briefing during which her name was mentioned, the actress who became known as "Hanoi Jane" emerged to defend Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). The briefing centered on questions about President Bush's service record with the Air National Guard, but Talon News raised the issue of John Kerry's anti-war activism and his involvement with Fonda.

Likely spurred on in part by the question at the briefing that was broadcast live on cable news networks as well as a photograph circulated widely on the Internet showing her and Kerry at Vietnam antiwar rally, Fonda appeared on CNN on Wednesday. In an interview ostensibly about her role in "The Vagina Monologues," Fonda lashed out at those who have dredged up events of over thirty years ago.

Fonda said, "Any attempts to link Kerry to me and make him look bad with that connection is completely false. We were at a rally for veterans at the same time."

Fonda confirmed they both spoke at the event, but adds, "I don't even think we shook hands."

A spokeswoman for John Kerry said, "John Kerry and Jane Fonda were just acquaintances."...

...Kerry's association with Fonda evokes the same kind of reaction. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA), a navy pilot shot down in Vietnam in 1972 said it was "a slap in the face."

Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX), a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict said of Kerry's antiwar past, "I think it symbolizes how two-faced he is, talking about his war reputation, which is questionable on the one hand, and then coming out against our veterans who were fighting over there on the other."


And on the same day...

Kerry's Alleged Intern Identified, Taped Interview With Major Television Network By Jimmy Moore

Thus far, neither of them have publicly commented on the alleged affair that was revealed by Internet news web site The Drudge Report on Thursday. As reported by Talon News on Friday, a source at one of the major television networks said they are specifically forbidden to talk about this story on the air until one of the other major television networks reports on it first.


This is the first of a series of puff pieces - or in one instance just a re-write of a BC04 campaign press release - on the Bush campaign.

February 23, 2004
Bush Campaign Says Kerry's Voting Record Is Fair Game By Jimmy Moore

Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie recently warned Republican supporters of vicious attacks by the Democrat Party against President Bush.

"We highlight policies and note Senator John Kerry's long record," Gillespie wrote in an e-mail. "[Democrats], in turn, accuse the president of desertion -- a military crime punishable by death -- as the Clark campaign did; or accuse the president of being AWOL, a felony punishable by imprisonment, as DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe has done."

Gillespie said more than $40 million dollars have been spent on campaign ads, including $7 million from third party organizations such as MoveOn.org, attacking Bush in the past 10 months.

"Democrats have attacked the President and his policies using some of the most vitriolic rhetoric in the history of presidential politics," Gillespie charged in the e-mail.

The RNC chairman said he anticipates the Democratic Party to "run the dirtiest campaign in modern presidential politics."

"This is because they don't want a debate on the issues, and they don't want to run on Sen. Kerry's record," Gillespie wrote in the e-mail. "I guess I can't blame them for that. We as a party cannot sink to their level. We must stick to the truth in this race."


March 2, 2004
Kerry Advisor Leads Outsourcing Giant By Jeff Gannon

March 5, 2004
Bush Campaign Ads Focus on Leadership By Jimmy Moore (note: cache may no longer be valid. I've seen this article in a few places, so I think if you google the article and the author name you'll find a reprint)

SPARTANBURG, SC (Talon News) -- The first in a series of positive television campaign ads for the 2004 Bush reelection campaign released on Thursday were criticized by the Kerry campaign for attacking him and using the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 for political purposes.

The $5 million advertising blitz in 17 key states focuses on President George W. Bush's ability to lead during difficult times, including his fight against terrorism, leading the country through a recession, and his plan to create jobs.


The slogan "Steady Leadership in Times of Change" rings throughout all three of the campaign ads currently running...



March 15, 2004
Bush Ads Claim Kerry Would Sharply Raise Taxes, Be Soft on Terror By Jimmy Moore:

As previously reported by Talon News, Kerry decided to forgo federal matching funds in November while competing with Dean for the Democratic nomination and made a personal loan to his presidential campaign of $6 million secured through a mortgage on his share of the family's home in Boston.

After last week's off-mic comment describing Republicans as "the most crooked ... lying group I have ever seen," it appears Kerry hopes to compete with Bush using continuous negative rhetoric rather than attempting to match the president dollar-for-dollar in television campaign ads.

Bush campaign chairman Marc Racicot described Kerry's comments as "unbecoming of a candidate for the presidency of the United States of America" and had asked the presumed Democratic nominee "to apologize to the American people for this negative attack."

However, Kerry has refused to apologize for his vicious comments.


This one comes to us courtesy of a cache on Rush Limbaugh's website. Read and capture now before it goes away! My favorite part of this "article" is the absolute one-sidedness of it, including using only one source to support the headline.

March 23, 2004
KERRY IS BAD FOR INVESTORS by Jimmy Moore

An independent investment group study released on Monday finds that likely Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry has had an abominable voting record on investor-related issues throughout his nearly two decades in the United States Senate.

The American Shareholders Association (ASA) notes in their study that two out of three voters in the upcoming 2004 presidential election will be investors. This represents the largest voting bloc in America. As a result, ASA wanted to examine the vital issues related to investing by the Democratic presidential nominee.

Clifton explained. "Kerry's erroneous and exaggerated rhetoric was more of a threat to investor confidence than the recent market timing issues and he continues to talk down the economy because he is worried that an expanding economy hurts his chances to become President."...

...Clifton said Kerry is simply out of touch with real Americans who invest in stocks and mutual funds. "Based on his voting record, it appears that Kerry believes the only people who own shares of stock are families named Heinz and Kennedy," Clifton joked referring to Kerry's wife, Teresa, and his fellow Democratic Massachusetts colleague, Sen. Ted Kennedy. "That may have been true while Kerry was raising the capital gains tax as part of the Dukakis Administration, but it sure is not true today, with 56 percent of families' financial assets held in stocks and mutual funds."


Ah, yes...this is the re-write of a BC04 press release. Why bother to do a mass-email campaign when you can just have a "news organization" write an "article" to inform your base about your campaign home party?

April 9, 2004
Bush Campaign Throwing 'Party for the President' By Jimmy Moore

SPARTANBURG, SC (Talon News) -- The Bush campaign is organizing a "National Party for the President Day" on Thursday, April 29 at 8:00 p.m. EST to allow supporters to gather together in unity behind President George W. Bush.

"Across the country, supporters of President Bush will gather in homes, restaurants and community centers to stand up for our President," Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman wrote in an e-mail to Bush supporters recently.

The free events are scheduled to take place in cities across the country, including in personal homes and at local restaurants.

The Bush campaign has even set up a special surprise for supporters who are able to get 5 or more people to attend their party.

Mehlman said their party "will include a conference call with a senior [Bush] campaign leader" at 8:30 p.m. EST.

He added, "This special guest will answer questions and deliver a political briefing on the progress of the campaign."

Describing the purpose of the "National Party for the President Day," Mehlman explained it "is a simple, volunteer event that brings together local friends and neighbors who support the President."

People who decide to host one of these parties will receive a package of materials from the Bush campaign, including an exclusive video about the campaign, bumper stickers, miscellaneous campaign materials and a signed letter from Bush.


"These fun, informal events will help grow the President's strong base of support in local communities throughout the country and bring the President one step closer to victory in November," Mehlman concluded.

He continued, "We have a hard fight in the days ahead and the President needs your help."

Even Vice President Dick Cheney is encouraging people to join him in the "National Party for the President Day" to cheer on the president to victory in November.

"On that day, I will be joining thousands of parties across the country on a live conference call to talk about the clear choice voters face this November and the importance of the grassroots effort that will lead us to victory," Cheney revealed. "The President and I are counting on grassroots activists, like you, to act on the commitment we all share."

Cheney said he will try to call as many of the parties as possible on April 29.

The goal of the Bush campaign is to have 2004 parties commemorating President Bush on April 29. At press time, there were 2,046 parties planned for that day and nearly 4,000 overall.



Part 2 coming soon!


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We're nerds too

From Reuters, via Yahoo News:

A newly discovered life form that froze on Earth some 30,000 years ago was apparently alive all that time and started swimming as soon as it thawed, a NASA (news - web sites) scientist reported on Wednesday, in a finding he said has implications for possible contemporary life on Mars.


pastordan


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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Jeff Gannon/Jim Guckert

If you're like us and a little slow on the uptake--if you've heard a little about Jeff Gannon or Jim Guckert, but don't know what all the fuss is about--look no further.


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This is probably copyright infringement...

But I can't resist. From the Writer's Almanac:

Poem: "Job" by William Baer, from Borges and Other Sonnets. © Truman State University Press. Reprinted with permission.

Job

(Job 28:28)

Yes: wisdom begins with fear of the Lord,
which comprehends the power that made the seas,
the earth, the shimmering dawn, the unexplored
unfathomed skies, the moon, and the Pleiades.
Which also know Who comes to judge our shoddy
little failing lives, knowing full well,
we need not fear the one who kills the body,
but only He who condemns the soul to hell.
Which also knows it magnifies the Lord,
defying the demon, being the only release,
oddly enough, from fear, being its own reward,
which is also wise, is faith, is hope, is peace,
is tender mercy, over and over again,
until, at last, is love, is love. Amen.


pastordan


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Religious News Roundup--February 23, 2005

Today is the remembrance day of Hieromartyr Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna.



It's also Magha puja, a holiday(?) commemorating the night of the full moon when 1250 disciples of Buddha appeared in a bamboo grove.





If your prayer calendar is otherwise free, why not join in the Black Church Week of Prayer for AIDS?


Today's categories:


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Religion & Politics

  • Jesus Politics has a link to the "Black Contract With America on Moral Values." This would be the conservative black churches' agenda, but looking at it, I was struck by how unconservative most of it is. Yes, gay marriage gets top billing, but c'mon. When was the last time Karl Rove ever advocated prison reform? A curious document, indeed.


  • Perhaps the pastors mentioned above are trying to curry favor with dispensers of goodies prominent politicians like Rick Santorum and Arlen Specter. (Thanks to acbonin for the catch.)


  • Ron Sider on the "State of the Union on Poverty." Go. Read.


  • Ralph Reed wants a conservative governor for Iowa.


  • The Christian Science Monitor goes to Europe and discovers...the French think about religion differently than Americans. Hmm. We'll have to keep an eye on them, despite what Dear Leader says.


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Church & State

  • The State of Iowa is fighting a group called the "Church of the New Song," claiming it's not a religion at all, but rather a front for a racist prison gang.  Between skinheads and Ralph Reed, we may have to add a special Iowa category to the RNR.


  • This is an odd sensation: we agree with the Heritage Foundation on something. Relaxing the restrictions on church participation in elections would be disaster:
    "We don't want to see red churches and blue churches," said Joseph Loconte, a research fellow in religion at the conservative Heritage Foundation.


    Constitutional issues aside, Loconte said, "It's a horrible idea for church ministers to endorse candidates from the pulpit because it's so inherently divisive." It splits congregations and alienates people, he said.


    The issue comes up as the "Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act" gathers 174 co-sponsors, according to the representative who introduced it, Walter Jones (R-NC).


  • Hopefully, the HoWFSRA will go down in flames like a similar proposal from Virginia. Thomas Jefferson: 8,988; Sectarian Idiots: 0.


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Religion & Homosexuality

  • The Montana State House of Representatives has defeated a bill expanding the state's hate-crime law to cover sexual orientation. The Billings Gazette says:
    Republicans, who accounted for all but five of the opponents, warned the bill would stifle free speech and could even prevent clergy from speaking out against homosexuality in their sermons.

    Lamest. Excuse. Ever.


    But don't get too down-hearted: the bill was defeated 54-46 in a state that continues to trend blue.


  • A crack team of Lutheran Sexologists has turned its attention from homosexuality to human sexuality in general. Expect a statement next year. Given the results of this group's last report, it's fair to say that the coming statement will run something like: "Gosh, Ole. What do you think about sex?" "I don't know, Lena. We just did it last year."


  • Is it wrong of us not to be at all surprised to hear that the Philly 5 aren't done with the courts, even though their case was dismissed? Apparently, they didn't like being compared to Nazis or the Klan. Memo to protestors: when they're throwing rocks at your head, your speech is unpopular. Be glad the judge decided it was worth protecting anyway. Dumbbutts.


  • The New York Observer fills in for the NYT in this article. Evangelicals? In New York? Who knew? And you say they're opposed to same-sex marriage? What a strange bunch of people.


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Bad Men

  • You don't know how much it pains us to add the Pope to this list. But after comparing abortion to the Holocaust and calling same-sex marriage an "ideology of evil," how can we avoid it?


    Cardinal Rocco, Bishop Knuckles: perhaps its time John Paul retired.


  • We wish the Pope had more time to deal with issues like this: sexual abuse cases in the US have cost the Catholic Church north of $750 million. And none of that staggering amount can begin to touch the cost in pain, shame and suffering.


  • The Gadflyer's Sarah Posner tracks yet another dark nexus of Christian Right political groups. We haven't read the entire article yet (it's long), but it should provide Troutfishing with plenty of material.


  • Jerry Falwell's in the hospital. All snark aside, we do wish him a happy recovery. Eventually.


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This 'n' That

  • Brian "Head" Welch of Korn is giving up his spot in the band for Jesus. Thousands of skanky-looking teens are confused.


  • This just in: liberals are bad. Did you know we're all pacifistic traitors?

    Almost every great evil has been solved by war - from slavery in America to the Holocaust in Europe. Auschwitz was liberated by soldiers making war, not by pacifists who would have allowed the Nazis to murder every Jew in Europe.


    Quick, somebody make sure Jesus got the memo. Oh, and make sure he says "personal accounts" while you're at it.


  • Another addition to the enemies list: Christmas tree decorations. See, dear? We told you those things were evil!


  • Matisyahu fans, alert! Your favorite Hasidic reggae-rapper was recently on the Carson Daly show. Cool.


  • Another Guardian mental health story:

    Government advisers have refused to set a three-minute time limit for the face-down restraint of mental health patients, despite recommendations by an inquiry commissioned by the NHS.

    ...

    Sue Johnston, a psychiatrist and member of the group which developed the guidelines for managing disturbed and violent behaviour, said it was dangerous to assume that three minutes was "magically safe".


    "There is no safe time. Any intervention is potentially hazardous," she said.


  • In our last Roundup, we linked to a NYT story on autism. Come to find out the Centers for Disease Control is doing a publicity drive to raise awareness of the issue. Explains one of the storylines on Scrubs last night.


  • Little ones, we would not leave you without some encouragement. Thus this post from A Religious Liberal Blog. Seems the Disciples of Christ have been growing in the past couple of years.


    Big deal, you say? Well, the DoC are a solidly middle-of-the-road denomination, only slightly to the right of the UCC. So if they're growing--and can do it with Hispanics in places like Alabama--there just might be some hope for us pinko Christers after all.


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News you can use

This is comforting, somehow: "Real possession by devil not that common, exorcists say during lesson"


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What is with Alabama?

Pam.

You might find the idea of a pastor defending sex toys a bit odd. But let's get practical here: moral opprobium is not going to stop anyone from using their appliance of choice behind closed doors. Neither will legislation.

And doesn't the State of Alabama have more important things to worry about?

Oh, and the people who wrote in the exemption for "medical purposes" might want to research the history of, uh, devices: they were first marketed in the 1920s as soothers of soref muscles (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).


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Dope-Smoking Hippie offers to take on Bill Bennet at chess

God bless Ben Masel. Still causing trouble after all these years.


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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Christian women and sports

Why does the Christian right hate America?

From Jesus-Is-Savior.com :


For quite a long time, women resisted the feminist call to play sports, since they just weren't interested like men were. But this didn't sit well with the feminists; they felt this was the fault of male oppression. In the name of "equality," feminist leaders poked and prodded and pushed women to join the games, until women in droves finally succumbed to the pressure. I think this should give us strong reason to pause and consider the question, "Should women participate in sports?"Over the years I've noticed that Christian parents, as much as any parents, encourage their daughters to participate in sports. This is all the rage in our public schools, especially since the passage of Title IX by the feminists. Since most Christian parents send their children to the public schools, it doesn't surprise many of us that Christians are influenced more by the secular school culture than by the culture of the Church. Worse, the Church itself is being more heavily influenced by the culture instead of the other way around. One of the trends in schools is the participation in sports by women; therefore it shouldn't surprise us that so many Christian daughters today participate in sports. But is this really all that bad?For those of us who believe we should train our daughters according to Titus 2, 1 Peter 3, and other Biblical passages, my answer is "Yes, it is not good." I propose that sports greatly hinders the development of godly, Biblical, feminine character. Parents today expend extraordinary amounts of time and energy taking their daughters from one sports event to another, week after week, even to the point where it exhausts the family and family resources. The fruits we see are that today's Christian women are often ill-prepared to be Biblically obedient wives and mothers. This brings to mind a couple of questions: "Why do we spend so much time preparing our daughters to play sports?" and "What does it prepare them for in the future?" My answer is that sports prepare women to be more like men. Instead of spending all that time preparing our daughters as the Bible directs, we are training them to be like men so they can better compete with men in traditionally masculine roles - i.e., compete with them in the workforce, in politics, in the military, and in sports.

Recreational sports for women is okay with the author -- as long as it is on an occasional basis. That's funny. I missed the passage in the Bible that said, "Thou shalt not play competitive women's basketball."

The Bible talks about women developing a quiet and gentle spirit; I think sports fosters anything but that. They instead develop a competitive and contentious spirit that will cause them to have great difficulty in their marriages. I already mentioned that the effort expended on sports will hinder the development of wifely duties around the home; even worse is when a man has to compete against his own wife in the workplace and community.

We have a nation filled with weak men and disorderly women. Much of the disorderliness among women comes from feminist influences and activities like competitive sports. Weakened marriages and divorce are often the result. Most men I know admire a woman who is reasonably healthy and fit; they are also attracted to a woman who is somewhat "soft" and cuddly. This does not mean she should be delicate like tissue paper; no, a woman should be reasonably strong, and the normal duties of life will make her that way.



What do we know about the Christian right? They hate America for our freedoms; they see us as a land of "weak men and disorderly women"; women should stay in the home and not play competitive sports or compete with men in the community or workplace; women do not have the right to control their lives.

Do Christian fundamentalists realize how much their screeds sound like those from Osama bin Laden and the Taliban?

Carnacki


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Propagannon: Meet Jimmy Moore, Hatchet-man

from grannyhelen

Who is Jimmy Moore? According to Media Matters, who saved this bio of Moore before it was scrubbed off of GOPUSA.com's website:

Jimmy Moore "has played an active role in Republican politics for more than 15 years, dating back to his teenage years. He is currently serving as an Executive Committeeman for the Spartanburg County Republican Party. He is also a consulting writer for the Spartanburg County Republican Party and for the South Carolina Republican Party. In 2002, he was a key member of the Charlie Condon for Governor campaign serving as a political consultant. In addition, he was integral in the Victory 2002 campaign that helped get Republicans elected to state and national offices. Jimmy is also the South Carolina State Editor for GOPUSA."


Yep, that's right. Jimmy Moore was Jeff Gannon's colleague at Talon News.

Why is he important? I started wondering that myself when I discovered that in addition to Gannon's articles being scrubbed from Talon News' website, so were Jimmy Moore's. Intrigued, I decided to see why Talon/GOPUSA.com may do this.

After reading far too many of Mr. Moore's articles, I discovered something that I think is a little questionable given the fact that everyone's questioning whether Gannon was a White House "plant". It isn't the fact that Mr. Moore's far right coverage of "news" doesn't even dip its little toe into the pool of the mainstream. It isn't necessarily that Mr. Moore has a fixation with exploiting any perceived gaffes or hypocrisies of Michael Moore (no relation, I'm sure!) and the "liberal elite". It isn't even that both Peter Jennings and Sam Donaldson have been singled out in Moore's articles for attack and derision, or that Moore seems to have a proclivity for covering every...single...little...thing...that the religious right does in its quest to reverse Roe v. Wade.

No, what really got me wondering why his articles had been scrubbed were some very flattering Talon News articles, under Mr. Moore's name, on the Bush/Cheney04 campaign.

Now, I'm sure a lot of you are saying to yourselves: "Wait up, granny, that ain't so bad." And normally I'd agree - I could generally care less how much the radical right wing of this country wishes to idolize our current President. But then I started to wonder what type of news outfit would write an "article" like this one (yes, it's been scrubbed from Talon's site - links to all articles mentioned herein can be found at the cross-post at Daily Kos, here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/2/21/195245/363)

Bush Campaign Throwing 'Party for the President'

By Jimmy Moore

Talon News

April 9, 2004

SPARTANBURG, SC (Talon News) -- The Bush campaign is organizing a "National Party for the President Day" on Thursday, April 29 at 8:00 p.m. EST to allow supporters to gather together in unity behind President George W. Bush.

"Across the country, supporters of President Bush will gather in homes, restaurants and community centers to stand up for our President," Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman wrote in an e-mail to Bush supporters recently.

The free events are scheduled to take place in cities across the country, including in personal homes and at local restaurants.

The Bush campaign has even set up a special surprise for supporters who are able to get 5 or more people to attend their party.

Mehlman said their party "will include a conference call with a senior [Bush] campaign leader" at 8:30 p.m. EST.

He added, "This special guest will answer questions and deliver a political briefing on the progress of the campaign."

Describing the purpose of the "National Party for the President Day," Mehlman explained it "is a simple, volunteer event that brings together local friends and neighbors who support the President."

People who decide to host one of these parties will receive a package of materials from the Bush campaign, including an exclusive video about the campaign, bumper stickers, miscellaneous campaign materials and a signed letter from Bush.

"These fun, informal events will help grow the President's strong base of support in local communities throughout the country and bring the President one step closer to victory in November," Mehlman concluded.

He continued, "We have a hard fight in the days ahead and the President needs your help."

Even Vice President Dick Cheney is encouraging people to join him in the "National Party for the President Day" to cheer on the president to victory in November.

"On that day, I will be joining thousands of parties across the country on a live conference call to talk about the clear choice voters face this November and the importance of the grassroots effort that will lead us to victory," Cheney revealed. "The President and I are counting on grassroots activists, like you, to act on the commitment we all share."

Cheney said he will try to call as many of the parties as possible on April 29.


The goal of the Bush campaign is to have 2004 parties commemorating President Bush on April 29. At press time, there were 2,046 parties planned for that day and nearly 4,000 overall.



Gee, that kind of sounds like one of those Kerry-Edwards campaign emails that I got in my inbox every other day during the campaign. Which is great - I don't mind that Bush, Cheney or anyone does meet-ups and communicates to their base.

But that ain't news, folks. And I wondered why "Talon News" would have one of their "correspondents" write an "article" pretending it was. Curious, I wanted to see what other type of "news coverage" the Bush/Cheney04 campaign received from Talon News, and whether it sounded as much like a reprint of press release as this "article" did.

In my meanderings through google caches of Jimmy Moore's scrubbed Talon News "articles", I found the following hard-hitting coverage of the Bush/Cheney 04 campaign:

Bush Campaign Ads Focus on Leadership

By Jimmy Moore

Talon News

March 5, 2004

SPARTANBURG, SC (Talon News) -- The first in a series of positive television campaign ads for the 2004 Bush reelection campaign released on Thursday were criticized by the Kerry campaign for attacking him and using the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 for political purposes.

The $5 million advertising blitz in 17 key states focuses on President George W. Bush's ability to lead during difficult times, including his fight against terrorism, leading the country through a recession, and his plan to create jobs.

The slogan "Steady Leadership in Times of Change" rings throughout all three of the campaign ads currently running...

...Bush campaign adviser Karen Hughes says the ongoing war on terrorism makes mentioning September 11 a must during a presidential campaign, especially if one of the candidates believes we should not be fighting it.

"Because of [September 11], we are at war against terror," she stated on ABC's "Good Morning America."

Hughes added, "The race for president is now on, and it's important that we look at how the two candidates would approach that war against terror."...

...Bernard B. Kerik, who was New York City Police Commissioner at the time of the terrorist attacks, told CNN that Bush had every right to mention September 11 in his ads because "he has led us through the war on terrorism."

"[I]t's important to remind people who has done what for this country," Kerik stated.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the images of the terrorist attack should be used to remind Americans of the need for a strong homeland security.

"It is vital to our future that we learn what September 11th taught us," McClellan told reporters. "The president's steady leadership is vital to how we wage the war on terrorism. There's a clear choice for Americans in how we confront the threats of terrorism."


But what about the role of veterans in the Bush/Cheney04 campaign? I know you've been wondering whether Jimmy Moore and Talon News covered this then-breaking story. Good news: they did.

Veterans Support Bush Reelection Efforts With Online Chats

By Jimmy Moore

Talon News

May 25, 2004

SPARTANBURG, SC (Talon News) -- The Bush campaign will be conducting two online chat sessions with prominent veterans who are supporting President George W. Bush in the November election.

In an e-mail to supporters, Bush reelection campaign chairman Ken Mehlman said this time of year makes people remember those serving in the military.

"As Memorial Day nears, our thoughts turn to the men and women who serve, and have served, in our armed forces," Mehlman explained.

Because of that, Mehlman said the Bush campaign "is dedicating [its] online efforts for the next week to honor the veterans who have represented our nation in times of peace and times of war."

Speaking directly to these heroes, Mehlman proclaimed, "Your efforts have made, and are currently making, our nation safer."

To that end, the Bush campaign will feature an online chat session with "two prominent veterans" who are supporting Bush...


Some of you after reading all of this may still be scratching your heads and saying to yourselves, "But, granny, all this means is Talon was just one lazy news organization with people who couldn't write themselves out of a Barbara Cartland romance novel.

Not true. Mr. Moore does have some great, original writing that comes pretty close to the level of fiction Ms. Cartland deals in. He just saved his skills for John Kerry.

This reprint of an extract of one of Mr. Moore's articles, covering Theresa Heinz Kerry's response to hurricane Ivan, comes to us via courtesy of EvilBlog:

Heinz Kerry: Hurricane Victims Should Just 'Go Naked'

By Jimmy Moore

Talon News

September 17, 2004

NEW YORK (Talon News) -- Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry, commented Wednesday about victims of Hurricane Ivan in a visit to the Caribbean community in Brooklyn.

Heinz Kerry observed the efforts by the people there to assist Caribbean families who were ravaged by the damaging winds of rain from the hurricane. She even interacted with the Haitian vendors speaking in French and met with many of the volunteers who were loading the food and clothes for the Caribbean islands.

The Kerry campaign donated water, blankets, and some emergency medical kits to send to the victims.

"I think it's important we help all the kids we can," Heinz Kerry said at a local market...

Tens of thousands of families were completely devastated by Hurricane Ivan as it came through the Caribbean islands last week, including leaving 60 percent of the population of Granada homeless and without food or water.

Responding to this, Heinz Kerry shared her opinion that the Caribbean needs water and food more than they need clothing.

"Clothing is wonderful, but let them go naked for a while, at least the kids," Heinz Kerry exclaimed. "Water is necessary, and then generators, and then food, and then clothes."


Earlier in the campaign season, Jimmy Moore gives Bush-Cheney04 a tough evaluation of their Kerry attack ads:

Bush Ads Claim Kerry Would Sharply Raise Taxes, Be Soft on Terror

By Jimmy Moore

Talon News

March 15, 2004

WASHINGTON (Talon News) -- The 2004 presidential race between President George W. Bush and likely Democratic nominee Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA) has already become confrontational with just under eight months left until the general election. In two new 30-second campaign ads released in 18 key states by the Bush reelection campaign on Friday, Kerry is described as "wrong on taxes" and "wrong on defense."

One of the new Bush campaign ads alleges that Kerry would raise taxes by $900 billion to pay for his massive health care plan.

In addition, the ad states that Kerry's position of asking for United Nations approval before going to war with Iraq as well as his strong stance against the Patriot Act which is being "used to arrest terrorists and protect America" would "delay defending America." The other Bush ad warns that ignoring the terrorists or the threat they pose will not make them go away.

"We can go forward with confidence, resolve and hope," the ad proclaims. "Or we can turn back to the dangerous illusions that terrorists are not plotting and outlaw regimes are no threat." Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman said these ads show the obvious differences between Bush and Kerry.


Mr. Moore also wrote this in-depth evaluation of John Kerry's economic policies. The article has been scrubbed from Rush Limbaugh's website, but you can still view the cache (again, all links are at http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/2/21/195245/363):

Study: Kerry Poor Choice for Investors By Jimmy Moore

March 23, 2004 (Talon News)

An independent investment group study released on Monday finds that likely Democratic presidential nominee John F. Kerry has had an abominable voting record on investor-related issues throughout his nearly two decades in the United States Senate.

The American Shareholders Association (ASA) notes in their study that two out of three voters in the upcoming 2004 presidential election will be investors. This represents the largest voting bloc in America. As a result, ASA wanted to examine the vital issues related to investing by the Democratic presidential nominee.

After extensive research and study of Kerry's voting record, ASA found the Massachusetts senator voted overwhelmingly against issues important to investors, including cuts in the capital gains tax and individual retirement accounts (IRA).

Daniel Clifton, who serves as the executive director for ASA, said Kerry has shown no demonstrative evidence that proves he would act in the best interest of investors if he is elected president. "The best way to sum up Kerry's record on investor issues -- all talk and no action," Clifton remarked in a press release. "Despite his pro-investor rhetoric, not once has Kerry voted to reduce the capital gains tax, not once has Kerry voted to index capital gains to inflation, and not once has Kerry voted to reduce the double tax on dividends." He added, "Even more disturbing has been his consistent opposition to individual retirement accounts, which currently provide retirement savings for millions of American families." Clifton concluded that Kerry has not shown investors that he fully understands the ramifications of his votes on investments. "His votes against shareholders have real consequences and this report documents the effects of these votes," Clifton continued. ASA said the claim by Kerry during his presidential campaign that he has voted to cut the capital gains tax cannot be substantiated...

...Clifton said Kerry is simply out of touch with real Americans who invest in stocks and mutual funds. "Based on his voting record, it appears that Kerry believes the only people who own shares of stock are families named Heinz and Kennedy," Clifton joked referring to Kerry's wife, Teresa, and his fellow Democratic Massachusetts colleague, Sen. Ted Kennedy. "That may have been true while Kerry was raising the capital gains tax as part of the Dukakis Administration, but it sure is not true today, with 56 percent of families' financial assets held in stocks and mutual funds."


But Moore's masterpiece had to be his assistance in "outing" the intern...who never had an extramarital affair with John Kerry:

Kerry's Alleged Intern Identified, Taped Interview With Major Television Network

By Jimmy Moore, Talon News

SPARTANBURG, SC (Talon News) -- The name of the intern Democratic presidential front-runner Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA) allegedly had a two-year extramarital affair with beginning in Spring 2001 surfaced over the weekend.

The Telegraph UK reported on Sunday that the name of the Kerry's intern is 27-year old journalist Alexandra Polier. "This is not going to go away," said an American friend of Polier to the Telegraph UK. "What actually happened is much nastier than is being reported."

Polier formerly worked for the New York bureau of the Associated Press after graduating with a double major in philosophy and government from Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts and with a journalism degree from Columbia University in New York. She is currently living in Kenya with the parents of her fiance Yaron Schwartzman, who works for a company called FilmStudios. The couple met at Columbia University and plan to get married later this year.

Thus far, neither of them have publicly commented on the alleged affair that was revealed by Internet news web site The Drudge Report on Thursday.  As reported by Talon News on Friday, a source at one of the major television networks said they are specifically forbidden to talk about this story on the air until one of the other major television networks reports on it first.


Is it a stretch to think after reading these "articles" (and many more not covered in this diary) by Jimmy Moore, that it may be conceivable that the GOP was using Talon News to both convey verbatim their presidential election press releases, while assisting in a "whisper campaign" against John Kerry? Is it possible that, when evaluating whether Jeff Gannon was a White House "plant", the work of his colleague at Talon News may be relevant?

I think there's enough here to warrant further scrutiny. To quote Bill O'Reilly, "what say you?"


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Monday, February 21, 2005

Go, Revvie!

This is cute:
Virginia lawmakers, who are currently reviewing a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would secure the right to public prayer in schools and other municipal buildings, were angered last Friday by the public prayer of Rev. Debra Peevey, the lesbian pastor of Journey of the Heart Ministries in Reston. In her invocation opening Friday's House of Delegates floor session, Peevey asked God to "'convict those who are using their power not to lead or to guide but to harm the gay and lesbian citizens'" of Virginia. Reportedly, the chorus of "Amens" was a little weak.


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Anschutz

I was reading Kathleen Parker's column on Sunday, and noticed this:
Nevertheless, I come not to praise Winn-Dixie, but to note a certain cultural shift taking place under the discreet directorship of unassuming billionaire Philip Anschutz — invariably appearing in print as "Christian billionaire Phil Anschutz" — whose Walden Media co-produced "Winn-Dixie" with Twentieth Century Fox.

I've heard that name before, I thought. And sure enough: a couple of weeks back, I'd noticed Anschutz after reading this piece from Media Matters.

Anschutz, it turns out, is a hard-right evangelical in the mold of Richard Scaife, though apparently somewhat less sinister. The Media Matters article ref'ed above provides a succinct analysis of the concerns around Anschutz:
Anschutz has a history of supporting socially conservative causes. According to a recent Post article, Anschutz's family foundation gave James Dobson, the founder of the conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family, an award for his "contributions to the American Family." The Post noted that according to the foundation's website, Focus on the Family works to "counter the media-saturating message that homosexuality is inborn and unchangeable" and that one of the group's policy experts referred to abortion as an example of when "Satan temporarily succeeds in destroying God's creation." Further, as the Post mentioned, Anschutz contributed $10,000 in 1992 to Colorado Family Values in support of the group's efforts to pass a state constitutional amendment to invalidate state and local laws that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation. (The referendum passed, but the United States Supreme Court struck it down as unconstitutional.) According to the Post, "Anschutz's money helped pay for an ad campaign that said such anti-bias laws gave gays and lesbians 'special rights.'"

In May 2003, the Orange County Weekly reported that other Anschutz Foundation beneficiaries include the Institute for American Values, which according to the Weekly "campaigns against single parenting," and Enough is Enough, which "promotes Internet censorship." The San Francisco Chronicle noted on February 20, 2004, that Anschutz also funds Morality in Media. As Media Matters previously noted, the Institute for American Values also receives funding from the conservative Bradley and Scaife foundations, as well as grants from the John M. Olin Foundation, another major financer of conservative organizations. Enough is Enough and Morality in Media have also received funding from the conservative Castle Rock Foundation.

Ordinarily, this wouldn't be such a worry. But Anschutz has recently acquired a number of media properties, including the San Francisco Examiner, Regal Cinemas and the D.C. United soccer team, and launched others, such as the Washington Examiner, a free daily "commuter" newspaper.

In addition to all that, as the Washington Post explains,
Anschutz took on movie making, too. In 2000, he formed a film production company, Crusader Entertainment -- recently renamed Bristol Bay Productions. "He believes there is a huge untapped market for things families can do together. That doesn't mean it's a family values agenda," said James Monaghan, an Anschutz spokesman. "He found in raising his [three] kids there is not a lot of things he could go to with them."

As a producer, Anschutz has a clear idea of what he wants his films to say, said Angelo Pizzo, a screenwriter Crusader hired to write what Pizzo called "a family-friendly inspirational soccer movie." Pizzo, who penned hits such as "Hoosiers," and "Rudy," said Anschutz called him several times, including late at night, with suggestions. "His concern is not the craft. It's the points made, in terms of the message," Pizzo said. "He cares about sending a positive inspirational message to young people."

Yet another Anschutz venture is Walden Media, which is how Parker comes to praise him. She's a fan of the movies he's helped create.

And who wouldn't be? "Holes," "Ray," "Because of Winn-Dixie": most of those you really could take the whole family to see. So far, as his spokesman says, if Anschutz has an agenda, he's kept it pretty much to himself.

What bothers me is this, from Parker's piece:
Cultures aren't created or debased in a day, or a halftime show. Jackson was merely a focal point, a place to direct rage long simmering among responsible grown-ups bereft of options as they struggle to protect children against the sweep of raunch.

Anschutz, too, was one such adult, but he had an idea how to change the culture.

Buy it.

Ay, there's the rub. I don't begrudge the man his money, or his willingness to make movies that are not laden with sex and violence. Heaven knows we could use a few more like that.

But do we really want a single, very private billionaire charting the course of our culture? Do we want someone who has no accountability to anyone to have such leverage over what we see and hear as a nation?

Look at Anschutz's history: in 1967, he was facing financial ruin when a newly-purchased oil rig caught fire. Anschutz had a quick inspiration: he sold Hollywood the rights to film the fire, then paid the legendary Red Adair to come and put it out. That made him $100,000 and set him on his way to future success.

As brilliant as that was, had Adair been busy that day, or John Wayne not making a movie about fighting fire at the time, Anschutz would have been out of business.

So for one good decision, he gets to play an outsized role in the economy, laws, and culture? What's wrong with this picture?

What's wrong is that there are no little people in the picture.


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Religious News Roundup--February 21, 2005

Today is the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, and 17 years since Jimmy Swaggart resigned his pulpit in disgrace. If you're in Indianapolis tomorrow night, why not stop by St. Paul-Brightwood United Methodist Church for their Community Center's Kids Club African-American Heritage Program? It's at 6:30; Special musical guests will be Mack and Helen Johnson Strong and Melvin Rhyne.


Today's categories are:


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Catholic News

  • This is sad: Kathleen McChesney, executive director of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office of Child and Youth Protection says her office has received reports of 1,092 new reports of sexual abuse within the church. The allegations are made against 756 priests.


  • In a somewhat-related story, a conservative Catholic activist group is organizing a "Collection Basket Strike" against Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony. We can't endorse any group that links pedophilia to homosexuality, but we'll be curious to see if the protest takes off.


  • And in a striking development, an Altoona-area priest has filed a lawsuit against his own diocese, alleged sexual abuse in one of its schools. The diocese acknowledges that some priests have themselves been victims, but says that so far, none of them has chosen to sue the church.


  • Inside baseball, Vatican style, and an interesting report on John Paul II's emotional connection to the Virgin of Fatima here.


  • A report on one challenge faced in bring an autistic child up Catholic here, and coincidentally, another report on raising an autistic child, this time as Amish, here. (The second link is also interesting in that the child's parents are converts to the plain life. Shows off some of the complexity of that sect. Plus, pastordan and Mrs. Pastor actually met this family at the grocery store the other night.) Here's a family picture, from the paper:



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Religion & Politics

  • Not strictly a politics story, but one that certainly helps to frame the current scene: Americans place hunger--not abortion or homosexuality or Janet Jackson's nipple shield--at the top of their list of moral concerns. (Or so says Chuck Currie. If you look at the original poll, you'll see that "Child Abuse" beats everything else in the "Very Important" category, but then has a pretty steep dropoff in "Somewhat Important." Still...)


  • The Arkansas State Legislature has actually voted against the separation of church and state. It seems like a cheap gimmick by one lawmaker to shame some others, but still.


  • More weirdness from the South:

    Alabama State Representative Alvin Holmes is offering $5,000 to anyone who can show him in the Bible where it states that marriage is only between a man and a woman. The offer comes in response to the state legislature's consideration of a ban on homosexual marriage.


    Hunter S. Thompson, God rest his soul, would have enjoyed hanging around to see if/when either of these guys got stomped.


  • John Edwards speaks pretty well on Democrats and religion. We're particularly fond of this quote: "[Edwards] agreed caring for the poor is not a good political issue. 'But I know my passion for this is real, that it is inside me.'"


  • A different kind of Southerner here. We have to admit, we found him to be a bit more thoughtful than we expected.


  • Evangelicals meeting in Miami to Reclaim America for Christ. Bleagh.


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Speaking Out

  • Church Folks for a Better America have a new push on, concerned with "torture, pre-emption, unjust war, and poverty," according to The Nation.


  • They do statements, too: The World Council of Churches in favor of rights for prisoners at Guantanomo and divestment to push along the Israeli/Palestinian peace process; and the National Council of Churches for environmental action. See, we told you Jesus was a crunchy granola! They don't call Birkenstocks "Jesus Stompers" for nothing.


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