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Archive for May 24th, 2008

Republican Worry About McCain

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 24th, 2008 4:39 am by HL

Republican Worry About McCain
“Republicans are increasingly concerned that he could wind up badly outgunned, saddled with serious deficiencies in money, organization and partisan intensity against the likely Democratic nominee, Sen. Barack Obama,” Politico reports.

“After making a promising debut as their nominee, McCain has worried many Republicans by seeming to flounder during the past few weeks… Some see the McCain campaign as a pale imitation of the well-financed Bush campaigns, both models of precision and ruthless efficiency.”

More from the AP: “McCain has been slow to take advantage of his potential head start for the presidency against Democrats, who are better organized and generate more excitement among voters.” 


Late Night FDL: Even a little weirder than that

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 24th, 2008 4:38 am by HL

Late Night FDL: Even a little weirder than that
His Mavericity distanced himself this week from the endorsement he begged off of John Hagee, saying he didn’t realize that Hagee held extreme views. Which is funny, because he, well, did.

His Mavericity distanced himself this week from the endorsement he begged off of John Hagee, saying he didn’t realize that Hagee held extreme views.

John McCain on Thursday rejected the endorsement of televangelist John Hagee after it was reported that the pastor once argued the Nazis operated on God’s behalf to root out Jews in Europe and get them to Palestine. McCain’s rejection of Hagee was followed by the pastor’s withdrawal of his endorsement of the Arizona senator. Hagee had said in March that McCain sought his endorsement, but McCain has found himself repudiating a number of controversial remarks made by the minister since then. The rejection was made after comments were unearthed on various Web sites. Hagee is quoted as saying Adolf Hitler hunted Jews in an effort to expedite their establishment of the state of Israel. “Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them,” McCain said in a statement issued Thursday. “I did not know of them before Rev. Hagee’s endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well.” Hagee countered by saying that his records have been combed by McCain critics and misrepresented to harm the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

So how extreme is extreme?

The rhetoric in Hagee’s book, and his discussion of it in Christian media outlets, is absolutist. He speaks not only of good against evil, believer against nonbeliever, Judeo-Christian civilization against Islamic civilization, but of an American-Israeli alliance against the rest of the world. He plays on conservative disdain for anything European, while promoting the Bush unilateralist mentality that has had catastrophic results in Iraq. Naturally, he expresses contempt for the possibilities offered by diplomacy, calling the U.N. Security Council “a joke.” Lapin says “Pastor Hagee has a very realistic understanding of the United Nations and recognizes it as unlikely to be any more helpful in this looming tension than it has been in any other in the past.” He paints Russia and China — two members of the Security Council resisting sanctions on Iran — as America’s enemies, adding that Russia has helped Iran build long-range missiles that could reach New York City. (Those don’t exist, either.)

In Hagee’s telling, Israel has no choice but to strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities, with or without America’s help. The strike will provoke Russia — which wants Persian Gulf oil — to lead an army of Arab nations against Israel. Then God will wipe out all but one-sixth of the Russian-led army, as the world watches “with shock and awe,” he says, lending either a divine quality to the Bush administration phrase or a Bush-like quality to God’s wrath.

But Hagee doesn’t stop there. He adds that Ezekiel predicts fire upon those who “live in security in the coastlands.” From this sentence he concludes that there will be judgment upon all who stood by while the Russian-led force invaded Israel, and issues a stark warning to the United States to intervene: “Could it be that America, who refuses to defend Israel from the Russian invasion, will experience nuclear warfare on our east and west coasts?” He says yes, citing Genesis 12:3, in which God said to Israel: “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you.”

To fill the power vacuum left by God’s decimation of the Russian army, the Antichrist — identified by Hagee as the head of the European Union — will rule “a one-world government, a one-world currency and a one-world religion” for three and a half years. (He adds that “one need only be a casual observer of current events to see that all three of these things are coming into reality.”) The “demonic world leader” will then be confronted by a false prophet, identified by Hagee as China, at Armageddon, the Mount of Megiddo in Israel. As they prepare for the final battle, Jesus will return on a white horse and cast both villains — and presumably any nonbelievers — into a “lake of fire burning with brimstone,” thus marking the beginning of his millennial reign.

and that’s not just apocalypse now. That’s apocalypse not quite soon enough for Pastor Hagee

Besides his million-dollar compensation package, Hagee has a portfolio of other ventures, including a cattle ranch in south Texas that may have religious significance. Many evangelicals believe that the arrival of a “perfect red heifer” will signal the end times. In the Old Testament, burning a red heifer and sprinkling its ashes is described as a purification ritual for priests entering the temple. Ultra-orthodox Jews believe that the birth of a modern perfect red heifer will herald the arrival of the messiah, leading to a confrontation with Muslims over the Temple Mount, where Jews believe the Temple will be rebuilt. Some evangelicals likewise regard the red heifer as a harbinger of the ultimate showdown at the Temple Mount, which they believe will be the site of the Second Coming. And they believe that time is near.

To many other observers, the advent of the red heifer threatens to provoke a violent struggle for control of the Temple Mount, with worldwide repercussions. In the late 1990s, a group of unidentified Texas ranchers reportedly bred a perfect red heifer, which generated excitement in evangelical circles until the animal sprouted some black hairs.

Six years ago, the John C. Hagee Royalty Trust paid more than $5.5 million for a 7,600-acre ranch in Brackettville, Texas, where cattle are raised in a venture with the Texas Israel Agricultural Research Foundation, a nonprofit outfit operated by the pastor

K. Hagee wants to bring about the end times by, um, bomb bomb bombing Iran, unless he can get God to do it for him through creative animal husbandry.

Coincidence, I guess. How would McCain have heard about Hagee’s deranged views?

On Purim, the Jewish holiday that celebrates the day Queen Esther saved the Jews from annihilation, Trinity Broadcasting Network’s flagship talk show, Praise the Lord, featured an appearance by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. A politically conservative Orthodox rabbi, Lapin is best known for crusading with the Christian right against anti-religion bigotry and, more recently, for his close association with the convicted super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But he was not invited to a nationwide telecast to discuss such topics as the trumped-up war against religion or the better nature of his fallen friend. He had been asked to explain the significance of Purim to Christians, and particularly how the Old Testament’s Book of Esther “serves as a roadmap to reality,” which pinpoints where the next world “hot spot” will be.

That soon-to-be-flaming location is where the Book of Esther was set: namely Persia, or in modern parlance, Iran.

Seated beside Lapin in the ornately gilded Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) studio was Pastor John Hagee, the author of an incendiary new book purporting to show that the Bible predicts a military confrontation with Iran. By then, Hagee’s book, Jerusalem Countdown, had sold nearly 500,000 copies. It had occupied the No. 1 position on the Wal-Mart inspirational best-seller list, showed up on Wal-Mart’s list of top 10 best sellers for seven weeks, and made the USA Today top 50 best-seller list for six weeks.

Hagee, who serves as head pastor of the 18,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, hosts his own television program that is seen twice a day on TBN. He argues that the United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West. Shortly after the release of his book last January, he launched Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a lobbying organization intended, he says, to be a Christian version of the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee. With CUFI, which Hagee has said will cause a “political earthquake,” the televangelist aims to put the political organizing muscle of the conservative evangelical movement behind his grand plan for a biblically prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran, which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming of Christ.

this CUFI

At CUFI’s kick-off banquet at the Washington Hilton, attended by over 3,500 members, Republican support for both Hagee’s effort and his drumbeat for war with Iran were on full view. Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman told the group that “no regime is more central to the global jihad” than Iran. Just two days before, Newt Gingrich and John McCain made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows to sound the same message, leading Benny Elon, a member of the Israeli Knesset, to comment to the Jerusalem Post that their remarks originated with Hagee. Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback also addressed the group, and Bush sent words of support to the gathering. Republicans, and even some Democrats, spoke at CUFI events to show their “support for Israel.” But while public and media attention was on the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, Hagee’s focus continued to be on Iran.

While the crisis at the Israel-Lebanon border drew more mainstream media attention to CUFI’s activities, Hagee’s supporters have long known that leading Republicans are listening. Rabbi Daniel Lapin, a prominent Jewish ally of the evangelical right (and friend of Jack Abramoff) has said that Hagee “without question, yes, absolutely” has the ear of the White House. Hagee’s annual Night to Honor Israel at his church has drawn prominent Republicans, including Tom DeLay, who was the keynote speaker in 2002.

While Washington insiders wonder what it means when Republicans like Mehlman and presidential aspirants Gingrich and McCain finger Iran as the central player in an epic clash of civilizations, Hagee already has spent months mobilizing the shock troops in support of another war. As diplomats, experts and pundits debate how many years Iran will need to develop a viable nuclear weapon, Hagee says the mullahs already possess the means to destroy Israel and America. And although Bush insists that diplomatic options are still on the table, Hagee has dismissed pussyfooting diplomacy and primed his followers for a conflagration.

The CUFI board of directors includes the Rev. Jerry Falwell, former Republican presidential candidate and religious right activist Gary Bauer, and George Morrison, pastor of the 8,000-member Faith Bible Chapel in Arvada, Colo., and chairman of the board of Promise Keepers. Rod Parsley, the Ohio televangelist who is rapidly becoming a major political player in the Christian right, signed on to be a regional director. [Gee, wonder who they endorsed?]

For Hagee’s new project, his influence in Washington is probably less important than his influence over his audience. With the clout of his listeners, he can serve Bush administration hawks by firing up grassroots support for a military strike against Iran. Over 700,000 people purchased his book, “Jerusalem Countdown,” and countless more have heard him promote it on Christian radio and television programming. Dramatic, doomsday advertising has been heard by listeners of Christian media as well as on Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly’s radio programs. The pages of “Jerusalem Countdown” provide a peculiar mix of biblical prophecy, purported inside information from Israeli government officials and a mixed-up, pared-down lesson in nuclear physics.

“I wrote this book in April 2005, and when people read it, they will think I wrote it late last night after the FOX News report,” says the author without a trace of irony. “It’s that close to where we are and beyond.”

So McCain rejects Hagee because of the comments about the jews he’d supposedly never heard about.

Apparently the whole bringing about the end of the world thing is cool.

Nice.


Pre-Memorial Day Weekend Open Thread

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 24th, 2008 4:37 am by HL

Pre-Memorial Day Weekend Open Thread

I realize I am too wrapped up in every bit of this crazy political season. So I am done writing for the night and maybe tomorrow.

It is Memorial Day Weekend after all.

This is an Open Thread

Comments now closed.


Overnight

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 24th, 2008 4:36 am by HL

Overnight


Manufacturing a Food Crisis

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 24th, 2008 4:35 am by HL

Manufacturing a Food Crisis
In the years preceding Mexico’s tortilla crisis, the country had been converted to a corn-importer by the IMF, the World Bank and Washington.

Why the War in Iraq Is Stranger Than Fiction
An conversation about privatized war with John Cusack, producer of the new film, War, Inc., and Blackwater author Jeremy Scahill.


Minnesota Republicans Attack Franken For Dirty Jokes

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 24th, 2008 4:34 am by HL

Minnesota Republicans Attack Franken For Dirty Jokes
Besides the usual Republican attacks on Al Franken’s policy positions and overall goofy comedic personality, the contents of his old comedy routines have now been declared fair game by the Minnesota GOP. The state party has now put out a…


New Newsweek Poll

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 24th, 2008 4:33 am by HL

New Newsweek Poll
Latest from Newsweek. Clinton (48%) vs. McCain (44%) Obama (46%) vs. McCain (46%) Newsweek’s article, linked above, breaks down the numbers to look at the role race is playing in the contest….


Access to McCain’s medical records – a joke

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 24th, 2008 4:32 am by HL

Access to McCain’s medical records – a joke

A hand selected group of reporters (only 20 people) was allowed to access 1,173 pages of Senator John McCain’s medical records for three hours. No one was allowed to Xerox or photograph the records. A reporter could take notes. Oh, no cellphones. So, what do we know? Not much. The types of tests done to look for cancer recurrence were not revealed in the AP article I reviewed. We do know that the cancer removed from his jaw was of an intermediate depth. We also know that his lymph nodes were negative.

If they read 1,173 pages in three hours, they would have to read a page every six minutes. You can’t get any detail from that. I’m not sure that we know more now than we did before the records were flashed in front of our eyes.

To be honest, this was a great piece of politics by the McCain camp. Release the information on a Friday, a slow news day. Release the information on a holiday weekend. No one is paying any attention. Then control what is said. The McCain camp got the exact headlines that they wanted. Reuters – McCain deemed in good health by doctors. The McCain camp couldn’t have written it any better.


Mars lander almost at destination

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 24th, 2008 4:31 am by HL

Mars lander almost at destination
The Phoenix Mars Lander, bristling with scientific instruments to poke, probe, look at and analyze Martian soil, ice and atmosphere, has almost reached its destination after a nearly 10-month journey…


Dead Kennedys singer responds to Savage: How the hell does he get away with stuff like this?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 24th, 2008 4:30 am by HL

Dead Kennedys singer responds to Savage: How the hell does he get away with stuff like this?
Earlier this week, after Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) was diagnosed with a brain tumor, right-wing talker Michael Savage offensively mocked Kennedy’s condition by playing the Dead Kennedys song “California Über Alles” and reading aloud its lyrics on his radio show. In an expletive-laden interview with the Boston Phoenix, Dead Kennedys lead singer Jello Biafra responded […]

Earlier this week, after Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) was diagnosed with a brain tumor, right-wing talker Michael Savage offensively mocked Kennedy’s condition by playing the Dead Kennedys song “California Über Alles” and reading aloud its lyrics on his radio show. In an expletive-laden interview with the Boston Phoenix, Dead Kennedys lead singer Jello Biafra responded to Savage’s use of his song, saying he took the “song way the hell out of context and did it deliberately.” From the interview:

But the bigger issue is Savage himself and how the hell he gets away with stuff like saying this, and saying that people with AIDS should be put in concentration camps. And then when people protest at the station, he calls on his own listeners to come down and beat them up.