Posts from April 15, 2005


On MSNBC’s Connected

: Going to be on Connected at 5p ET to talk about Frist/filibuster/faith, McDonald’s and Google video, all below.

: Good ol’ (young) Ian Schwartz has the video. Ron Reagan called me his “blog daddy.” I wanted to protest that I wasn’t that old; couldn’t I be his blog brother? But note the lower-third (as we call it in TVland): I’m now blog daddy.

Armstrong Williams — Oops

Armstrong Williams — Oops

: New Education Secretary Margaret Spelling admits hiring Armstrong Williams as a mouthpiece was a serious lapse of judgment. Thereby she throws predecessor Rod Paige to the wolves.

Meanwhile, Congress, the FCC, and the White House says it’s media’s responsibility to label sources. OK. But what if they aren’t told and the government is trying to fool them? Thereby officials try to throw media to the wolves; wolves spit back.

Meanwhile, the White House shields officials from the investigation.

The stink ain’t over.


I’m going on MSNBC at 5p to talk about this, possibly… So what do you think?

: The Left Coaster says:

She all but told the AP that it was all the since-departed Rod Paigeís fault, which is standard operating procedure for this administration. I mean, it was obviously Colin Powell and Tom Ridgeís fault that Bush didnít even know that we were planning to require Americans returning from Mexico and Canada to carry their passports, right?

Since Spellings made these comments before the release of the watered down IGís report later today in the typical late Friday afternoon Bush Administration news dump, one wonders what is in the report.

A ‘devoutness divide?’ Hell, no

A ‘devoutness divide?’

: Relevant to the Frist/filibuster/faith fun below, Dick Meyer at says this is about “devoutness divide.”

What divides Americans politically is not feuds between sects, bigotry or prejudice. The antagonism is not between, say, Jews and Baptists or Catholics and Methodists. It is not between believers and atheists; the vast majority of voters consider themselves religious and believe in God. The gap is rather between churchgoers and non-churchgoers; it is between people who are very orthodox or traditional in their religious belief and those who are more individualistic in their worship or less orthodox. The chasm is not defined by what religion people belong to but how they practice their religion.

There is no God Gap. But there is a Devoutness Divide.

I know he’s talking about voting behavior and stats but I still disagree and dislike the way that is presented with the choice of the word “devout:”

All religious people are not conservatives (and all conservatives are not religous people [and all liberals are not godless]).

I go to church and I’m a liberal. My sister is a minister and she’s a liberal. I know lots of liberals who do, indeed, go to church.

I will also acknowledge that the growth in churches is in the conservative side and that’s a challenge for us liberals. Does that mean that conservatives and fundamentalists are taking over religion or does it mean that liberals are rejecting religion? I don’t know. Is the Republican Party being taken over by the religious? It looks that way, but I don’t know that that’s the case either; the religious right is vocal and organized and have made themselves into a force to be reckoned with, no matter how large that force really is.

But that doesn’t mean that either religion or the right has been taken over by the religious right.

It’s wrong to make gross generalizations that end up rejecting whole swathes of the population to make a point. Plenty of people who believe in God vote Democratic. Plenty of Republicans didn’t like what Delay and the fringe of their party did in the Schiavo matter or, I’ll bet, in Frist’s TV follies.

So don’t fall into the trap of assuming that Democrats are godless and Republicans are all on the religious fringe. It’s fine to fight the religious right fringe; I do; somebody has to. It’s fine for the religious right to fight for their side and use their political wiles to do so. That’s what makes America great.

But let’s not paint America now not as red vs. blue but as churchgoing vs. not. It’s just not true.

: Dick Meyer just emailed me and said I got this completely wrong. (Can’t quote from the email now because I’m challenged, connectivity wise, but I will.) Andrew Tyndall called me on it in the comments, too.

I wasn’t strong enough above, then, saying that I know he’s talking about voting behavior.

What I’m objecting too, in the end, is the word “devout.” As I joked with Andrew, even Unitarians can be devout. I think devout is a loaded word that connotes the idea of being more religious and that is the notion I reacted to and I used Meyer as a launching point for that.

I didn’t mean to get him wrong and I apologize.

: I got around tech limitations at MSNBC and here’s the salient and correct quote from Meyer’s email:

… I indicated quite clearly that the vast majority of American voters are religious. And the most opinionated part of the piece, at the bottom, argued that religious poeple who are both traditional and who are untraditional (liberal and conservative) have much more in common than our politicians and politicized clergy would have us think. And yes, there is no disputing that liberals are religious and church-going, too. But there is also no disputing that the greater the frequency of church-attendance, the higher the odds of voting GOP; sorry, it’s a fact.

So here’s an odd contention: Church attendance is not a measure of devoutness, in my view and I know that is a minority view). Religion is personal and need not be institutional and should not be judged on the basis of such open indications as church attendance or eagerness to talk about religion or willingness to incorporate religion with politics.

That was what I was trying to say. But clearly, I failed. I’m going to blogger hell…

Jumping the shark for Jesus (continued)

Jumping the shark for Jesus (continued)

: The Republicans just can’t stop from allying themselves with the religious fringe. The NY Times reports:

As the Senate heads toward a showdown over the rules governing judicial confirmations, Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, has agreed to join a handful of prominent Christian conservatives in a telecast portraying Democrats as “against people of faith” for blocking President Bush’s nominees.

Fliers for the telecast, organized by the Family Research Council and scheduled to originate at a Kentucky megachurch the evening of April 24, call the day “Justice Sunday” and depict a young man holding a Bible in one hand and a gavel in the other. The flier does not name participants, but under the heading “the filibuster against people of faith,” it reads: “The filibuster was once abused to protect racial bias, and it is now being used against people of faith.”

Organizers say they hope to reach more than a million people by distributing the telecast to churches around the country, over the Internet and over Christian television and radio networks and stations.

They’re trying to play the God card. Only I think it’s been played in this hand already.

: MORE: Charles Babington in the Washington Post says:

The strategy carries significant risks for the Tennessee Republican, who is weighing a 2008 presidential bid. It could embroil the Senate in a bitter stalemate that would complicate passage of President Bush’s agenda and raise questions about Frist’s leadership capabilities. Should he fail to make the move or to get the necessary votes, however, Frist risks the ire of key conservative groups that will play big roles in the 2008 GOP primaries.

Well, clearly, he has made his choice: He’s campaigning in the primaries already and he is sucking up to the fringe right to do that.

: James Joyner at Outside the Beltway agrees with Frist’s goal on judges but says:

However, this particular move is not only unseemly but likely to backfire. Frist’s appeal is that he appears above politics. This sort of slimy tactic will not serve him in the long term, especially as he seeks the White House in 2008.

: Mustang Bobby says:

Does this guy really want to run for president? Lining up with a bunch of loons obsessed with turning this country into the Christian version of Taliban-run Afghanistan isn’t exactly going to win the hearts and minds of the nation. If the Schiavo case proved anything, it’s that the vast majority of Americans reject the wingnuts that Frist is chumming up to.

: All Spin Zone says — and I agree — that it’s time for the rest of religious America (that includes me) to speak up against this sort of effort to theocratize the debate.

Seems clear to me. A whole conference arranged for by Radical Right Wing Christian Clerics with the sole purpose of labelling Democrats as “anti-Christian” and Bill Frist is headlining the conference scheduled to be broadcast to radical right-wing churches throughout the nation. That violates the non-profit status of those churches, but make no mistake, absolutely nothing will be done to enforce the tax laws. This is Bush’s Administration, after all.

Two things. Progressives of faith need to speak up. They need to say specifically that faith belongs in the heart, and also in caring for others. They need to decry the kind of demonization the Radical Right Wing Christian Clerics view as moral. Demonization = moral? How twisted can they get?

Second, we need to support Republicans like John McCain, who has said he will not be voting for the Nuclear option.

: Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Three Bad Fingers pushes bloggers and Republicans to go after the senators who have not gone along with the nuclear option. He already gave up on McCain.

: Josh Marshall calls it “sick, dark, and demented.”

: Obsidian Wings, a liberal Christian, says:

The organizers of this hate-a-thon who slanderously equate “Liberal” with “anti-Christian” are truly nauseating… I’m wholly offended that anyone in Congress would suggest anyone else is less Christian than they are.

: LATER STILL: Uncorrelated asks whether I’d had the same objections if Democrats sucked up to union leaders to get a primary nod. The better analogy might be whether I’d object if they sucked up to Michael Moore and that fringe. And the answer is: yes, I would.



: McDonald’s is 50 years old today. That is, 50 years ago today, Ray Kroc opened his first Illinois restaurant and started the biggest restaurant chain in the world and changed food and culture.

Oh, I’ll bet there’ll be some today who’ll decry the day and complain about fast food and factories and fat and salt.

Not me. I love McDonald’s.

When I was a columnist in San Francisco, I reviewed the opening of a then-fancy new McDonald’s on Van Ness — and I panned it. Ray Kroc wrote a letter to the editor complaining that I was a “codfish aristocrat.” He assumed I was just another burger snob. But I called Mr. Kroc and told him that I had once been caught by a survey going to McDonald’s in Chicago five times a week; I was an addict. I believed in his credo of QC and I was saddened by the lack of quality I found in his newest emporium. The tone changed immediately: He knew he was talking with a believer and he said he’d get on the case immediately. He did. The restaurant quickly shaped up.

A quarter-cheese was my best hangover cure.

At my worst, I used to have two quarter cheese, a large fries, and a milk shake. It’s a wonder I’m still alive.

After my cholesterol tests of later years and after seeing my father-in-law post-bypass, I had to give up McDonald’s. My kids prefer Burger King, too. So it’s rare that I go there anymore.

But I still like McDonald’s. It represents speed, consistency, cleanliness, quality, value, and good, greasy, salty food. McDonald’s is America.

So join me today and let’s have a quarter-cheese and fries. Oh, what the hell, supersize that.

: DESSERT: says:

Celebrate the history of the golden arches and national obesity epidemic by visiting your local McD’s today! Evil or not, they still sell the best fast food fries around. (Sorry Burger King.)

Meanwhile, Indymedia, of course, finds the evil in this, celebrating 20 years of fighting against McDonald’s.

As Mumblix Grumph says in the comments: “It’s a freaking BURGER JOINT fer Chrissakes!!!”

And veteran grillman Tony Pierce says in the comments: “best first job a young person could have because every job that follows will be easier and pay better.”

: I’m watching the McDonald’s webcast of the opening of a new flagship shop in Chicago. The first customer is going to be a guy who was a teen and among the first customers on the day the first store opened 50 years ago, Glenn Volkman (if I’m hearing the name right). See: You can survive eating this stuff.

: LATER: If you speak German, here are Bild’s 50 reasons why we love to go to McDonald’s. I wish my German were good enough to translate the best punchlines; perhaps better students than I can in the comments….