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Are you Hypnotized? Chris Matthews’ Mint

November 4, 2010 Leave a comment

I am uploading this mainly so I have it in future to use in media training.  This shows MSNBC’s Chris Matthews’ disgust at Republican Michelle Bachmann’s refusal to answer questions.  Staying on message has its limits!

 

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Umbrage Contagion Alert! The Juan Williams Nontroversy

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment

People who debase themselves by playing the role of “liberals” on Fox News disgust me, and Juan Williams is no exception.  But his firing is part of the broader umbrage crisis, especially among my comrades on the left, that shits me to distraction.

Williams, political analyst with National Public Radio (NPR) and Fox News,  said the following words on Fox a few days ago:

…when I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous. Now, I remember also that when the Times Square bomber was at court, I think this was just last week. He said the war with Muslims, America’s war is just beginning, first drop of blood. I don’t think there’s any way to get away from these facts.

Think Progress, a lefty blog, cut and spliced this single quote into a bite-size YouTube video and sent it hurtling through cyberspace.

As a result of the ensuing controversy, NPR cancelled their contract with Williams.

What amazing umbrage contagion!  First, Think Progress was offended presumably because a possible interpretation of what Williams said is that he is bigoted against Muslims.  Think Progress passed on its high dudgeon through the manifold arteries of the left-wing blogosphere to NPR who were offended enough to fire the man.  It doesn’t end there, of course.  This action by NPR triggered its own wave of offence-taking, this time by Fox News on behalf of Williams and red-blooded Americans who believe that thinking nasty thoughts about Muslims is not only acceptable but admirable.  Fox’s decision to make Williams their latest cause célèbre has predictably created political echoes: Darrell Issa, the Republican Congressman who will probably take over oversight of  NPR in January, Darrell Issa, is promising to shut the joint down.

Totally unnecessary hysteria, not to mention a waste of air time and column inches.

Juan Williams is a sort of moderate Conservative which made him a screaming lefty on Fox and a right-wing extremist on NPR.  An odd but useful hybrid on two opposite ends of the political/media spectrum.

First and foremost, Williams should not have been fired .  Taken in context, his comments were not particularly offensive. During the same interview, he decried Bill O’Reilly, the Fox News blowhard, for treating all Muslims as terrorists.  He quite neatly encapsulated the absurdity of the O’Reilly “same brush” approach this way:

Hold on, because if you said Timothy McVeigh, the Atlanta bomber, these people who are protesting against homosexuality at military funerals—very obnoxious—you don’t say first and foremost, “We got a problem with Christians.” That’s crazy.

Williams is describing as “crazy” the set of opinions — attributed to him from the same interview — that got him fired.

The offending comments are also subject to a much more lenient interpretation in the first place.

  1. The phrase “they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims” represents a critical nuance.  I feel the same way: when I was in KL last year, the millions of Muslims in my midst didn’t worry me one bit, but when I retired to the hotel and found myself surrounded by Arab Muslims in the full paraphernalia, I tensed a little.  Sue me.
  2. Why is admitting to a visceral reaction to visibly committed Muslims such a high offense anyway?    I He was talking specifically about being on a plane, which understandably adds a level of anxiety given recent history.
  3. The comments by the Times Square bomber – “Brace yourselves, because the war with Muslims has just begun. Consider me only a first droplet of the flood that will follow me” – are objectively intimidating so Williams is hardly a bigot  for being intimidated by them.

NPR should give Williams his job back, partly because they should and partly to shut Fox the fuck up.

I’ve said it before and I will say it a million times before I’m done:  can everyone just calm their nostrils?

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Live-blogging Obama Rally, Philadelphia, PA, 10/10/10

October 10, 2010 1 comment

Live blogging fell over due to battery failure and a debacle with Greyhound which meant I had no wifi access for the remainder of the afternoon.

Quick observations:

1. Obama’s stump speech works far better in person than on TV. He is, simply put, an awesome orator up close. Also, the key metaphor at the climax of the speech — I have heard numerous versions before — only packs a punch in its full telling.

    Joe (Biden) and I arrived to find that the Republicans had driven the car into the ditch. We have spent the past 20 months pushing the car out of the ditch while our Republican opponents looked on, telling us to try harder. Now that we have finally got the car out of the ditch and on to even ground, they want the keys back.

Obama tell this beautifully, and suffuses it with great humor and memorable detail: the ditch is dusty and hot, the Republicans are drinking slurpees as they watch on, etc. It frames the set-up very well, but it suffers from requiring too much telling for telly.

2. There is no longer even a nod in the direction of bipartisanship. The best part of Obama’s speech was when he assailed the GOP’s Pledge for America by highlighting the tax cuts for the very rich in contrast with cuts to college loans. This works bloody well.

3. Joe Biden is a force of nature, a shining light, and he didn’t say “literally” once.

4. The Mayor of Philadelphia, who screamed his remarks at breakneck speed into the microphone, is loathed even by a partisan Democratic audience.

5. The resilience of black support for Obama is not a mystery. The African Americans in the crowd love the President and First Lady with an irrational exuberance that needs to be seen to believe.

4.15PM, Obama Rally, PA
Battery dead, despite buying a brand new replacement from T-Mobile. Lying bastards. Anyway, will update when I find some wifi.

3.55PM, Obama Rally, PA

Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world, but Moving America Forward remains a shiteous slogan.

A local field organizer, Alice Rhys (sp?) is revving up the crowd with some pretty impressive campaign oratory. A name to watch.

Biden is here. Bonus. Woot.

3.40PM, Obama Rally, PA

False alarm! Got in, but only after security kindly determined my bag was not enough like a backpack to warrant my eviction. The man in front of me was not so lucky, and I left him looking very sullen at the perimeter. Hard to feel too sorry for him. He cut in front of me right moments before we reached the front of the line.

There is a DJ razzing up the crowd — Michael Jackson and Prince feature prominently — but the throng seems quite fired up on its own. When the DJ cut the music out at one point, I was stunned that the entire crowd seemed to be singing along. Except for me.
Black Eyed Peas’ I Gotta Feeling takes it up another notch again. Awesome atmosphere. Hamilton West this is not.

3.10PM, Suburban street, Germantown, PA

The line is moving but not convincingly. I am still worried that I may miss out on the rally because I wasted 30 critical minutes sitting in McDonalds blogging about how I am going to a rally.

2.20PM, Suburban street, Germantown, PA

The weather is spectacular, a boost for turnout no doubt. So
now I’m worried I won’t get in. I have joined the back of a line that goes for a very, very long way, snaking through the modestly appointed streets of Germantown, a suburb notable for the almost complete absence of Germans.

There is an added element of confusion brought about by the converging of two opposite oriented queues: one group facing up the street, another down. Gates open at 3PM, so my hope is that there is a definitive move on way or the other.

1.30PM, McDonalds Germantown, PA

In one of his rare slips of the 2008 election, Obama was caught on tape saying what he really thought about the white working class voters of Pennsylvania and elsewhere who were supporting Hilary Clinton in huge numbers at his expense. He told a bunch of wealthy donors on the West Coast that such voters are averse to the change he offered and instead “cling to guns and religion”. This gaffe — defined for the ages by Michael Kinsley as a politician getting caught saying what they actually thinks — forever torpedoed whatever hope the Obama camp may have had against Clinton in states with large concentrations of blue-collar, non-College educated white voters. The fear that this demographic problem would put the Presidency out of reach for Obama — by losing Pennsylvania as well as the key swing state of Ohio — did not come to pass. While Obama prevailed in both states in 2008 — remember McCain’s comically bad handling of the emerging financial crisis — antipathy towards Obama from this segment of the population remains a clear and present threat to the Democratic Parties fortunes in the mid-term elections (Nov 2).

The perception that Obama fails to ‘get’ the economic angst of the “middle class” (the American term for “working class”) is ubiquitous. The bank rescue package (which Bush initiated but Obama owns politically) and the stimulus plan, while fairly obviously successful in policy terms, has forever damned Obama among voters who regard both policies as anathema. The dogged application of reason to this debate has failed to date; indeed, both policies have provided extraordinary impetus to the tea party nonsense that pollutes the political well so completely today. How Obama frames this problem today will be interesting. Will he move beyond the lame “you would be a lot worse off without me” message that Gillard and Brown tried to no obvious benefit in Australia or the UK respectively? It doesn’t augur well that the Democrats seem determined to mimic Australian Labor’s widely derided “moving forward” slogan. Will he actually offer a plan for the future, or instead frame it as a contest between a bad reality and a hypothetical much worse case scenario? To me, this is the central communications challenge today, and for the remainder of the election campaign. Watch this space.

10.30AM, Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia, PA
For US Presidential candidates, pandering to voters in Philadelphia most often takes the form of wolfing down a ‘Philly cheese steak’, a sandwich consisting of a thin slice of grilled beef drizzled with what Americans insist is cheese. I can see a notorious purveyor of said “delicacy”, complete with pictures of then candidate Obama pretending to enjoy it, from where I sit with my surprisingly passable latte. I stumbled on the Reading Terminal Market after arriving by bus in Philadelphia just moments ago.

Organizing for America, Obama’s permanent campaign machine, has been pestering me for days about a rally for (by?) the President in Philadelphia in the swing-state of Pennsylvania. Since I am based in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the most overwhelmingly Democratic corner of a heavily Democratic city, it takes two hours by bus to find a competitive election. In this case, it is the Senate race between Pat Toomey (R) and Joe Sestak (D) where the Republican has been consistently leading in the polls. Sestak defeated the incumbent Senator from his own Party, Arlen Specter, in a nasty Primary fight. Specter, who had been a moderate Republican, jumped parties in 2009 after realizing that the far-right Toomey was about to clean his clock in the GOP primary, so his defeat from the Left was both ironic and delicious. Specter is a nasty and venal old coot (he is 80), but joy at his demise is tempered by the fact that (a) the seat is likely to fall to the Republicans and (b) Sestak is, well, a bit of a tosser.

A retired Navy admiral, Sestak’s campaign fuses political communication with military discipline to chilling effect. He is always, relentlessly, on-message. His sound-bites are finely calibrated and delivered with machine-gun efficiency. More disturbing still, there is the sense about Sestak that he is fulfilling a destiny he wrote for himself, aged eleven, under the heading “The Sestak Ascendancy”. He is the type whose focus and determination are less personality traits than pathological symptoms. He doesn’t blink often enough. He heart beats too slowly. He wouldn’t even wince under torture.

I prefer more humanity in my politicians, more improv. Sure, Obama is disciplined and focussed, too — often to his detriment — but I am drawn to him for another reason altogether: the remarkable boldness of his political strategy. His success, after all, relied on down-trouing conventional wisdom at every juncture. There was no room for error as his campaign laid bet after ballsy bet, raising the stakes each time: his unlikely coalition of blacks and college-educated whites; the grass-roots fund-raising and Internet strategy; the early focus on the caucus states; the electoral college wizardry.

Ambivalence about Obama’s Presidency, justified or not (mainly not, if you ask me) diminishes my awe at his 2008 victory not a jot. It’s why I’m here. I came for the hope, but I stayed for the audacity.

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Do We Even Care? Y-Axis Trickery, GOP Style

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Remember my mythical Wanganui crime wave, whereupon I played silly buggers with a bar-graph’s Y-Axis to create the misleading impression, for political purposes, that violent crime had shot up in a provincial NZ town that may or may not have been Wanganui? In about 1991, aged 20?

Juvenile shenanigans, right?

Think again.  The fat, fifty and bald Republican Party here in the US has taken a leaf from the same playbook with this shameless effort depicting federal spending as a percentage of GDP.  It was produced as part of the their “pledge” to voters in the lead up to the mid-term elections in November — elections they appear set to win in a thumping fashion.

Source: Jonathon Cohn’s excellent blog at the New Republic

The graph as presented:

The actual graph should look like this:

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Alterman’s Disgraceful, Dishonest (and Dumb) Hitchens Smackdown

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Audacious bullshit often leaves me torn  — impressed and horrified in equal measure — but not so with Eric Alterman’s hatchet-job on Christopher Hitchens in Dissent Magazine. Let me begin, however, with the sole unobjectionable sentence in the entire Alterman article:

Christopher would have nothing but contempt for a writer who allowed sentimental memories to cloud—or even to obscure—his considered political and literary judgments.

On second thoughts, applying the phrase “considered political and literary judgments” to one’s own work is a tad objectionable, but the general point is right:   Hitchens would neither want nor expect his enemies or critics to hold fire just because he is in the process of not-so-slowly dying.

The problem with Alterman’s review of Hitch-22 is not that it is unkind to a terminally ill man, although that is why it will be so widely read.   The issue is that it is not really a review at all, at least not of the book, or author, it pretends to critique.   The lack of seriousness Alterman brings to the task of literary criticism is made clear in this opening gambit:

He is Oscar Wilde without the plays; Gore Vidal without the novels; Edmund Wilson without the ideas; George Orwell without the integrity; and Richard Burton without the movies (and Elizabeth Taylor).

What nonsense!   Hitchens never lays claim to any of this: he is not a playwright, novelist or movie-star and, while he has written widely and often about Orwell, Hitchens is uncharacteristically self-effacing when it comes to comparisons with him.   Hitchens is a provocateur and polemicist , and Alterman concedes that he is a brilliant one (but not until after he has finished excoriating him for the plays and novels he did not write, and movies he did not make):

Despite his myriad (and on occasion, damn-near miraculous) talents as literary critic, columnist, and long-form journalist, Hitchens’s genius undoubtedly lies in the art of the argument. “The world I live in is one where I have five quarrels a day, each with someone who really takes me on over something; and if I can’t get into an argument, I go looking for one, to make sure I trust my own arguments, to hone them,” he has explained, adding, “I would often rather have an argument or a quarrel than be bored, and because I hate to lose an argument, I am often willing to protract one for its own sake rather than concede even a small point.”

And woe unto those who find themselves on the wrong side of the fight. An unrepentant Trotskyist, stylistically if nothing else, he credits his early certainties—now discarded—as responsible for his marvelous ability to drive home a point long after his opponent has been crushed, gasping for air.

So, in Alterman’s strange assessment, the problem with Hitchens is that he is a failure at tasks that he has never undertaken — like acting and playwriting —  but exhibits “marvelous ability” at what he actually does for a living.  This is about as helpful or interesting as deriding Roger Federer for his golf-swing.

The rest of the article is a ham-fisted and transparent attempt to denigrate Hitchens while simultaneously, and with no subtlety at all,  trading on his fame and impending death.  It is suffused with high-school-quality bitchiness like this:

AS WITH all memoirs, accuracy is a question mark. I have a specific memory of one of the incidents described in detail in this book that differs in considerable detail from that of Hitchens, whose version places him at the center of events.

Alterman never explains how his memory of this “considerable detail” differs from Hitchens’ — if he had, it may have been worth reading — but instead implies that he is too gracious to spell it out.  Alterman employs this same passive-aggressive technique elsewhere in the article

(Indeed, I can still recall with considerable shock some of the never-to be-repeated things Hitchens said to me during that first afternoon drinking binge.)

Why are we not told what Hitchens said that so shocked Alterman?  Out of respect for the dying and for past confidences?  Hardly.  The entire piece appears to exist only to paint Hitchens as a bad friend, political traitor, unreliable intellect and indecent human being. Alterman, for example, needlessly and gleefully recounts the details of Hitchens’ first divorce and infamous drinking habits.

The ostensible origins of Alterman’s disdain are clearly enunciated.   On a personal level, the two fell out over an alleged “betrayal” of their common friend and Clinton confidante, Sidney Blumenthal, after Hitchens testified against him during the Monica Lewinsky investigation. More generally, Alterman is exasperated by what he sees as Hitchens’ political progression to the “radical” right, beginning with the Clinton administration, but not ending there.  These are clearly matters of opinion, to which Alterman is entitled (and with which I don’t always disagree: I have often found Hitchens’ obsession with the Clintons infuriating.)  But Alterman’s characterological takedown of Hitchens is a masterclass in accidental irony:

Hitchens’s explanation for his Clinton hatred—and his willingness to betray his friend and make common cause with some of the most distasteful elements of American politics—is, like pretty much everything about the man, sui generis. But it is also intellectually unsatisfying. I mean, sure Clinton had unattractive qualities in abundance. But since when do intellectuals admit to making political choices purely on the basis of personalities? By ceaselessly attacking Clinton’s character, Hitchens was empowering a group of theocrats, corporate profiteers, and nativist know-nothings who were poised not only to frustrate what remained of the Democrats’ progressive agenda.

Hitchens’ central weakness, in other words, is that he fixates on questions of character at the expense of  the “big picture”.  How can it escape Alterman’s notice that his own article — from wobbly start to unconvincing finish — is an exercise in precisely the character fixation — and assassination — he explicitly abhors?

How, too, can he expect anyone to take his criticism seriously when he says of the book:

Don’t read it if you’re looking for a genuinely searching self-investigation of just how a radical leftist becomes a radical right-winger.

Why would a reader expect Hitchens to justify a political and intellectual progression that Eric Alterman ascribes to him but Hitchens himself would never accept?  It is like chastising Harry Potter movies for their lack of documentary realism.

Hitchens would argue, just as Orwell did, that cant, hypocrisy and venality are equal opportunity political vices.  He would insist that these things can, and have and will again, corrupt the best political intentions.  This is at the heart of both his objection to Clinton and Clintonian politics, and of his broader critique of power.

There is plenty of scope for disagreement with Hitchens on these matters — the whole means versus ends thing for a start — so it is odd that Alterman would resort to such disingenuous tactics.  Perhaps, in order to demolish Hitchens, he felt the need to diminish and distort him first.  Perhaps it is simply opportunistic traffic-gouging for a barely-known magazine’s website.

Or, maybe, Alterman — responsible (and surely indictable) for phrases like “the takeover of the levers of political and economic power by the Republicans’ right-wing overclass constituencies” — is gripped by stupefying professional and personal jealousies, both vile and justified.

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A Small Step Back in a Relentless March Forward

September 21, 2010 Leave a comment

New York, NY, 2:14PM….Just as the most valuable gifts often come in small packages, most great legislative achievements arrive in surprisingly banal ways.

In the United States Senate, this usually takes the form of a vote to end a filibuster.  Like ‘haberdashery’ and ‘snorkel’, filibuster is far too glorious a word to be wasted on the narrow definition with which it is stuck.  A filibuster is a parliamentary maneuver employed by a minority of legislators to extend debate on a matter before the Senate ad infinitum.   In the past, this meant that Senators read from telephone directories or, less grippingly still, the Old Testament for days on end until their colleagues would finally relent and move on to less controversial terrain.  There is method to this madness, however: the filibuster was designed to prevent tyranny by the majority — a noble objective before politicians began defiling it. These days, the threat of a filibuster is enough to force the Senate to move on to other matters.  A 60-40 vote is required to override a filibuster, a tough ask when you consider how difficult it is to get just two Senators to agree on anything beyond this sentence:

“I should be President”.

This is why Obama finds it difficult to pass his agenda through the US Senate, despite the Democratic Party’s apparently comfortable 59-41 majority.

Just 30 minutes from now, the US Senate will vote to end a filibuster on the Defence Appropriation Bill which includes provision to end the ban on openly gays and lesbians from serving in the US military.  The policy this vote aims to bring to a merciful end is widely known as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell or by it’s tricky acronym, DADT.

DADT is a  Clinton-era compromise which states that gay and lesbian soldiers can serve in the military as long as they lie about their sexual orientation when asked. In return, military commanders are forbidden from asking direct questions about a soldier’s sexual orientation, but presumably were free to enquire after musical theater recommendations, seek decorating tips or, in the case of suspected lesbians, request help to assemble Ikea furniture.

Even by the low standards of modern politics, especially in the US, DADT is astonishingly morally bankrupt.  An outright ban on gays and lesbians, while wrong, is at least forthright in it’s bigotry.  The enforced deception at the heart of DADT is despicable beyond mere discrimination; it is cynical, knowing and vile. According to opinion polls, most Americans have turned against the policy, but Obama and the Congress have delayed action.  They clearly want to avoid the anti-gay with military command who — there’s no point beating about the bush –frighten the shit out of them.  There are many reasonable-sounding political explanations for this, but it seems obvious to me that the  kind of person who forges a successful military career is very much like the kind of person who deals out wedgies to, and steals  lunch money from, the sortvof person who runs for School Council, and later Congress and the Presidency on the Democratic ticket.  (Republican politicians, on other hand, arise from the ranks of those more aroused by, than scared of, schoolyard bullies for whom they gladly surrender lunch).

……………..

New York, NY, 4:31PM…The vote to end the filibuster went down 53-47.  Not a single Republican —  not even the two Senators from ultra-liberal Maine — voted to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  Hardly a shock, really.  There is an election in a few weeks and the gay lobby is hardly at the front of the queue when it comes to political pandering (I think we are just behind cycling enthusiasts and ahead of Scientologists).

The pair I encountered yesterday will be toasting today’s defeat for gay rights.  But it is slim pickings these days for conservatives who yearn for a return to homophobic days of yore when gay-bashing was not merely legal but compulsory.  Americans, even those who live in the shopping mall car-park that occupies that country’s giant midriff, have worked out that the failure to discriminate against gay people has not materially made them worse off and is unlikely to do so in the future.

This distinguishes the gay lobby from the other civil rights movements to emerge from the 1960’s.  While gay men may pose a threat to masculine identity, we have no interest per se in the systematic overthrow of white male power (in fact, it turns many of us on).  Instead, our collective aspiration can be captured in a single word: acceptance.   For blacks and women, acceptance alone is a necessary but insufficient precondition to social and economic equality; for us, it is the magic ingredient from which flows openness, pride, freedom and the possibility of happiness.   And — bonus! –acceptance grows exponentially as more and more people know more and more gay and lesbian people, because old prejudices can never withstand reality.  A big fat gay virtuous cycle that no filibuster can possibly stall —  let alone reverse.

*I wouldn’t dare speak for our lesbian sisters

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The Pastor and the Glam: DC Eavesdropping

September 20, 2010 2 comments

N.B. Wikipedia does a good job of describing the Tea Party movement here if some references below don’t resonate with non-American readers.

I feel nauseous — and this Starbucks latte is only partly to blame.

Since I moved to New York about a year ago, I have operated under the happy delusion that conservative Christians and tea-party supporters exist in a parallel universe that will never intersect with my own. After all, the only Republicans I have encountered in twelve months are the tourists from flyover country I swerve to avoid on those rare occasions I venture into Times Square.

That’s all changed. As I write these words, I am at a Starbucks in DC, and two far-right Christianist lunatics have just brought to an end a meeting they conducted, at full volume, well within ear-shot. They had interrupted some very unchristian daydreaming when they sat down across from my table in the corner.

She is an extremely glamorous woman in her mid-30’s or so, with a lilting Southern accent she may or may not have acquired only after she adopted theocratic fascism as her life’s mission. He is a white-sounding African American reverend with a meticulous hairdo, a million-dollar wardrobe and a watch that screams “embezzler!”. The pastor and the glam.

I took it from their conversation (it was obviously their first encounter) that she was an ultra-conservative political activist who wanted to know how to persuade more black voters that homophobia is sufficient common ground for them to abandon Obama and the Democrats. It was also a strategy discussion about how to recruit more black faces to the tea-party, the populist movement that is in the process of sending the Republican Party, hurtling, to the fanatical fringe. Even though the ideological dialect couldn’t be further removed from my own, the language is the same: campaigns and elections, numbers and electoral districts; the bad-mouthing of factional enemies, the self-serving anecdotes, the subtle and not-so-subtle one-upmanship. I understand this better than English.

The duo opened with a familiar tune, castigating Obama for trying to lift the ban on homosexuals from serving in the US military and praising John McCain, once a moderate, for leading opposition on the issue. Having established that they hate the same people with more or less the same degree of animus, their courtship entered the next phase.

Glam was interested to find ways to help the conservative Jesus freak running against the Democratic Congressman from Virginia’s 2nd District, Glenn Nye. As they were talking, I googled Nye and it was soon apparent why they would have him in their sights; he is their least favorite kind of Democrat. Nye spent 10 years in the intelligence services and served in Iraq as a reservist. He is good-looking, Christian and clean-cut — and therefore near-impossible to vilify as a godless Nancy-boy, their preferred characterization of liberal opponents. The district Nye represents includes large African-American pockets, and this was the nub of the discussion: how the GOP could peel away some “minority” support by playing up social issues that they believe should send more black votes in their direction (but never does): aka gays and abortion, in either order.

The pastor then took a call, which he announced was from “Bishop Jackson”. Google soon informed me that Jackson is this region’s leading black conservative, a tea-party apologist and fire-breathing, gay-baiting bigot. Take this report from Daily Caller from last week:

Last December, shortly after the D.C. City Council passed a bill extending marriage rights to same-sex couples in Washington, D.C., Bishop Harry Jackson, the Maryland-based religious leader fighting marriage equality in the District, promised a “bloodletting.”

“In future races, religious people are going to start going after people’s political careers,” Jackson, the head of Stand4MarriageDC, told U.S. News and World Report. “You’re going to see a bloodletting that is going to mark a new style of engagement for people who are against same-sex marriage.”

Luckily, it turns out that Bishop Jackson is more hat than cattle on the “blood-letting” front: despite all his best efforts, the only gay-friendly DC politicians who lost in recent primary elections were defeated by candidates who are just as gay-friendly, if not more so. A bad day for the Old Testament.

Glam was clearly impressed by the sudden arrival by phone of this notorious gay-basher. The Bishop is, according to my typically thorough research, the most vocal African-American leader anywhere in the US to defend the tea-party against fairly self-evident charges of racism. Jackson is, therefore, a priceless asset — the race-traitor-in-chief.

The pastor made short work of the phone-call, and the couple soon turned their attention to Christine O’Donnell, the tea-party favourite and masturbation-is-adultery advocate, who just rocked the Republican Party establishment by winning its Senate Primary in Delaware. Glam and Pastor clearly approved of her victory in theory (O’Donnell defeated the kind of middle-of-the-road Republican disdained by the Christian Right) but were both concerned about the practical implications.

Quick, and relatively accurate, radio play:

Starbucks ambience: soft-rocky folk, subdued chatter, machines pretending to make espresso, sporadic retching.

Glam: There was panic at the Values Voter Summit about her going on the Sunday shows. But luckily, so-and-so managed to convince her to pull out in time.
Pastor: Good on so-and-so. It would’ve been ugly.
Glam: You know what, Reverend? O’Donnell doesn’t even have a scheduler!
Pastor: (very caucasianishly) Oh dear. So her campaign really is a…?
Glam: Yes, it really is a….”.

Fictional detour

PQ: I think the phrase you’re looking for is ‘cluster fuck’.

They left soon after this exchange. The Pastor reassured Glam that African-Americans are coming around to conservatism, and Glam was either dumb or polite enough to either believe or pretend to believe him. Pastor then received another call as she left. “You know it!” he said, ending a brief but delirious conversation about the coming tea-party revolution and the end of Obama, “we’re gonna drain this swamp.”

How very holy, I thought.

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