On Sunday, BeliefNet reported that the website for Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in Orange County, Cal., contained a warning that unrepentant gays were forbidden from joining the church:
Because membership in a church is an outgrowth of accepting the Lordship and leadership of Jesus in one's life, someone unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted as a member at Saddleback Church.
Yesterday, that section, which was part of a longer diatribe about the sin of homosexuality (see below), is gone. According to BeliefNet, this link led to the page banning gays. Now it connects to a page titled "What We Believe." BeliefNet is known for down-the-line reporting on religion. It was recently purchased by Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp.
Barack Obama’s choice of a prominent evangelical minister to deliver the invocation at his inauguration is a conciliatory gesture toward social conservatives who opposed him in November, but it is drawing fierce challenges from a gay rights movement that --- in the wake of a gay marriage ban in California --- is looking for a fight.
Rick Warren, the senior pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California, opposes abortion rights but has taken more liberal stances on the government role in fighting poverty, and backed away from other evangelicals’ staunch support for economic conservatism. But it’s his support for the California constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage that drew the most heated criticism from Democrats Wednesday.
After the debacle of Prop 8 --- which Obama never mentioned on a public platform during the campaign and has not addressed since Election Day --- this is a kick in the gut to every gay American. Here's a quick look at Warren's positions from Right Wing Watch:
The myth of the "liberal media" has become such an article of faith these days that attempting to refute it is futile. But if evidence against liberal bias were being collected, on top of the pile would go the scant coverage the liberal media are giving two stories about the approval of torture and prisoner abuse by the conservatives currently holding the offices of president and vice president of the United States.
Earlier this month, a bipartisan U.S. Senate committee put the blame for the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison squarely at the top of the chain of command. Here's Andrew Sullivan:
In 1993, when he served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Pres. Clinton, Colin Powell was a leading advocate of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) policy that essentially allowed gay people to serve only if they agreed to stay in the closet. Now, in an interview with Fareed Zakaria on CNN, he says it's time for the policy to be reviewed.
The 2008 election introduced "low information voters" --- people who don't educate themselves about political issues until the waning days of a campaign. Now it appears that it was less educated people --- not blacks and Latinos, as was originally suggested in early post-election analysis --- that put Proposition 8, the anti-gay marriage amendment, over the top last month in California.
A survey released last week by Public Policy Institute of California (PPI) of voters found that the true determining factor in who voted for Prop 8 was not ethnicity. It was education level:
On Tuesday, Stephen Hayes, a conservative columnist and analyst for CNN, revealed that George Bush and Karl Rove have launched a new propaganda campaign with the monumental goal of rewriting the history of the past eight years. The newspeak title of the enterprise is the "Bush legacy project."
The campaign rolled out this week, first in an "exit interview" Bush gave Charlie Gibson of ABC News and then in an Oxford-style debate in Manhattan in which Rove argued against the proposition that "Bush 43 Is the Worst President of the Last 50 Years." In the separate venues, both men attempted to reposition Bush's role in the invasion of Iraq from resolute war president, as he depicted himself at the time, to a reluctant warrior who was misled by bad intelligence into making what many analysts rate as the worst military decision in U.S. history.
It's interesting that voter turnout in California last month topped both of former Gov. Ronald Reagan's presidential elections, as well as all other elections going back to 1972 when Richard Nixon, another Californian, trounced George McGovern:
In their outreach to blacks, Latino, Asians and other minority voters, the conservative operatives behind Proposition 8 neglected to mention a key aspect of the initiative that could contribute to rolling back minority rights for years to come.
Prop 8 not only rendered quaint the California Constitution's equal protection clause --- a foundational precept that instructs the state to protect the rights of all citizens equally --- it also rescinded the right to marry for California gays. This sets it apart from other states' anti-gay marriage amendments because it establishes a precedent for conservative efforts to curb minority rights using ballot initiatives and by other means:
The California Supreme court announced Wednesday that it will hear arguments challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the anti-gay amendment that overturned the right of gay people to marry in the state.
In May, the same court, which is composed of seven Republicans and one Democrat --- who are all elected for 12-year terms --- decided 4-3 to strike down a law banning same-sex marriage.
The judges are being asked now to decide whether the constitution can be amended to make discrimination against a minority group legal, a move that directly violates the constitution's "equal protection clause," a foundational principle that instructs government to guarantee that all citizens enjoy the same rights --- or whether a change to the equal protection clause should have been made through the constitutional "revision" process, which would have required a two-thirds vote by both houses of the legislature before going before the electorate as a ballot initiative.
In a recent San Francisco Chronicle op-ed, Pepperdine law professor Douglas Kmeic, who served as a high official in the Reagan and Bush I Justice departments but who supported Barack Obama this year, laid out a compromise to the constitutional debacle brought on by the passage of Proposition 8 that puts the solution in the hands of California's governor:
Within hours after Election Day 2008 was over, the punditocracy had moved on to speculation about 2012 and the political future of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, whom many conservatives consider to be the next GOP frontrunner.
If history is a guide, however, chances are next to nil that Palin will survive the primaries in four years, and even if she does, her odds of winning the presidency are even slimmer. In fact, based on past performances of losing vice presidential nominees over the last 180 years (see chart below), Sarah Palin's chances of becoming president at any point in the future are 45 to 1, at best.
Guest Editorial by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.
The bailout of Wall Street is the rancid pickle on an economic crap sandwich that is a result of 30 years of conservative deregulation/trickle-down ideology. The fact that the Bush appointees who devised the original bailout plan are from the same gene pool as the neo-cons, cronies and heckuva-jobbers who turned America into a torture state, spied on Americans, drowned New Orleans, stole two national elections, corrupted the Department of Justice and took the country to war on the false pretext of bringing democracy to Iraq but then screwed up their true intent --- to steal its oil --- should have been reason enough to kill the plan on sight.
But that's not going to happen. As inept and ineffectual as they are at everything else, the Bush team is highly practiced at forcing Congress to act in haste. Six years ago this month, Karl Rove and the White House political shop "created a reality," as one of them has described it, that there was an urgent need to push the Iraq war resolution through Congress just days before the midterm elections. Now we know that the only urgency was Rove's need to get Senate Democrats who were potential Bush rivals in the 2004 presidential election on the record about the war before the election. Iraq post-invasion has been a disaster, but the vote on the resolution was stunningly successful in hobbling the campaigns of both John Kerry and Hillary Clinton.
Now, in what is either a horrendous coincidence or the most elaborate (and apparently botched) October Surprise in presidential campaign history, as Bush prepares to slouch off to Crawford for good, he is pushing one last crisis down our throats. As with his invasion of Iraq, it will probably be years before we know if this latest crisis is "real," or if it was fumbled attempt by the White House to change the game in John McCain's favor.
It certainly feels like we're being played again...
Telegraphing panic over the economic crisis to his fear-addicted followers, John McCain has announced he is suspending his campaign and that he wants to delay the debate Friday night, according to Washington Post...
Republican presidential nominee John McCain this afternoon said he would suspend his presidential campaign tomorrow to return to Washington and help reach agreement on a plan to solve the financial crisis on Wall Street, and called for a delay of Friday night's presidential debate.
"It has become clear that no consensus has developed to support the Administration's proposal,'' McCain said in a brief statement to reporters. "I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and we are running out of time.''
It's not as if John McCain has announced any sort of definitive measure to resolve the crisis that he needs to be in Washington to push --- or that he has a record of providing leadership on the economy in the past. (Quite the opposite, in fact. He was an advocate of the deregulation that underlies the failures.)
More importantly, if John McCain can't juggle a debate with Barack Obama while simultaneously working on the economic collapse, how can he possibly handle the multiple world crises that inevitably come with the presidency?
It's likely that what's really going on here is that the campaign has seen some dire polling numbers --- today even the new Fox "News" poll shows Obama support widening nationally, with a full 6-point lead, 45% to 39%, beyond the poll's margin of error --- and they want to push the debate forward, with the hope that the issues that are dragging him down have turned around.
(Please note, however, in re: the Fox "News" poll released today, FNC's "Fox News Polls Home" on their website currently ledes with a headline screaming that "McCain Leads Obama 45% to 42%". Click on that top headline, and one finds that it's headlined Sept. 10. Guess they're in no rush to update their polls page for some reason.)
In an interview on NPR's "Fresh Air" about his new book, The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008, Bob Woodward said that his reporting had uncovered a top-secret new weapon introduced by U.S forces into Iraq that is primarily responsible for the current period of stability there.
The Bush/McCain Surge is just one of four factors that have tamped down violence, according to Woodward. The other factors include the Anbar Awakening, in which the Sunnis rejected Al Qaeda's extremism; the stand-down of Muqtada al Sadr's Shiite militia; and this new top secret weapon:
BOB WOODWARD: The fourth [element] is very top secret. And that is a series of operations that have been developed that allow U.S. forces to locate targets and kill extremists, al Qaeda members and members of the insurgency.
On Friday [Sept. 5, 2008], the White House in responding to the book for the first time confirmed that there were "newly developed techniques and operations which helped the situation stabilize in Iraq."
TERRY GROSS: At the request of the military and the White House, you're not revealing any of the details you found about what these top-secret operations are. What can you tell us?
BW: That it's like any war. There's always something --- there's a game-changer, a new development. In the early 20th century, it was the tank or the airplane. World War II, the Manhattan Project and the development of the Atomic Bomb. These [new] operations and techniques are not something where you're going to see an explosion like an Atomic Bomb but they are incredibly effective. They are something that --- as Pres. Bush said to people that I quote in the book, "We are killing them all. We are killing all of the people who are the leaders." Now, it's not literally "all," but they are killing hundreds and hundreds of key people on the other side in this conflict.
So what could this new weapon be? Sharon Weinberger at Wired.com has a guess: