Saturday, July 11, 2009

Rachel Maddow Show - C Street Band

Rachel Maddow follows up her reporting on the C-Street House and what secrets lie within it.

Maddow: But we start tonight with a mystery. A mystery that’s unfolding along side the two major political scandals of the summer. It’s a mystery that concerns this house, at 133 C Street Southeast in Washington D.C. I’m calling it a house because, that’s what it looks like to me and people do live there, but if you consult this building’s financial paper trail you will find that it’s actually considered to be a church. That designation makes C-Street a convenient tax free haven for the secretive organization that runs it. An organization that is known as The Family.

It also makes for some awkward tax and income questions for the at least five, probably seven members of Congress who live at the house in exchange for what appears to be substantially below market rent. As explained by our guest last night, Jeff Sharlet who secretly infiltrated The Family to write a book about them, the C-Street house is a former convent. It’s used as a sort of subsidized, really upscale dorm for members of Congress who are associated with this powerful, poorly understood religious group.

The Family and the house at C-Street have ended up reluctantly in the headlines now because of the two major politicians’ sex scandals that are embroiling the Republican party this summer, and that have taken two of their reported 2012 presidential hopefuls out of political contention.

Embattled Sen. John Ensign lives at the C-Street house. The husband of Sen. Ensign’s mistress says that prominent members of The Family and this religious group including the sons of the group’s founder, as well as other members of congress who live at C-Street were both aware of Ensign’s secret affair, and were involved in his efforts to pay off the mistress and her family as the affair was on again, off again, ending. Republican Sen. Tom Coburn lives at C-Street with Ensign. He has said he encouraged Ensign to end the affair, but he has denied the allegation that he specifically encouraged Sen. Ensign to pay the mistress off to the tune of millions of dollars.

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford mentioned C-Street by name in his long public statement of regret about his affair with a woman in Argentina.


Hard questions. Gov. Sanford said he was working with C-Street, somehow about his affair for months while the affair was ongoing, while it was still secret, and while Gov. Sanford continued to lie about it publicly. This is the first point about C-Street and The Family that makes the group more than just a cameo appearance in both of these sex scandals. In both incidences these powerful, family values preaching, conservative politicians who were themselves having adulterous affairs, say now that they disclosed those affairs to other members of congress, and other people affiliated with this secretive religious group for a long time, while the affairs continued, and while they were kept secret from the world at large. This organization was allowed to know but nobody was, nobody else was.

Zach Wamp of Tennessee is a Republican member of congress who says he has lived in the C-Street house for twelve years. Today he told the Knoxville News Sentinel that the members of congress who live there are sworn to secrecy. Quoting from the News Sentinel “The C-Street residents have all agreed they won’t talk about their private living arrangements, Wamp said, and he intends to honor that pact.” “I hate it that John Ensign lives in the house and this happened because it opens up all kinds of these questions,” Wamp said. But he said, “I’m not going to be the guy who goes out and talks.”

When you start looking into this organization and its members oaths to the secrecy and fidelity to one another, that “I’m not going to be the one who talks” here theme, looms very large. But last year, when Jeff Sharlet’s book about The Family first came out in hardback, the resultant buzz around the secrecy and high level connections of The Family and the C-Street house spurred NBC’s Andrea Mitchell to obtain sermons of the groups long time leader, Doug Coe.

In order to find out more about what this group’s agenda might be. Here’s some of what she found.


Every American’s faith is her or his own business. It’s our constitutional inheritance as Americans. There’s no religious test for public office. There’s no official religion in this country. And every American has a right to believe or not to believe. To worship, or not worship as he or she sees fit. This is a private matter in this country. And religion is the organizing principle of many, many powerful interests in the United States, including this one, very connected, sworn to secrecy, ministry only to the powerful, that has had a key role in how two major Republican sex scandals have unspooled this summer, that has a theology of power that is poorly understood, and cites Hitler a lot, and that currently houses at least seven members of congress, in what it calls, a church.

Rachel followed this segment with another interview with Jeff Sharlet. It would be nice to see this whole story blown wide open and every member of "The Family" having to explain their membership. They sound more like members of the mafia with this secret society and their "cells" than anyone who should be running our government.

From Video Cafe.

A moment of silence please, for a real American hero

Ed McMahon died this week. He was a great entertainer, but prior to his stage accomplishments he was a distinguished Marine Corps fighter pilot in WWII earning six Air Medals. He was discharged in 1946 and volunteered to fly again in the Korean War. He joined the CA Air National Guard and was later promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.

Farrah Fawcett died this week after a long career in Hollywood as an actress. After she was diagnosed with cancer, she became an activist for cancer treatment and devoted her last remaining years encouraging people to seek treatment. She documented her plight on film and used it to encourage others to stay positive and upbeat despite their diagnosis and suffering.

Karl Malden died this week after a long career in Hollywood as an actor. He also served in the US Air Force during WWII and also served on the US Postal Service committee to review and recommend commemorative stamps. In 2005, the US House of Representatives authorized the US Postal Service to rename a Los Angeles post office the Karl Malden Postal Station.

Michael Jackson died this week. He was perhaps one of the greatest singers of modern time. He will also be remembered for his eccentric lifestyle that included sleeping with a chimpanzee, living in a carnival-like atmosphere at Neverland, his fascination with Peter Pan, and his numerous masks and costumes. He also admitted to finding pleasure sleeping with young boys and paying out millions of dollars in settlements to the families of these boys despite being acquitted by a court on one allegation of sexual molestation.

QUESTION 1) - Which of the above did the House of Representatives declare a moment of silence for today? (Hint - It wasn't the first three)

QUESTION 2) - Which of the above's family received a personal note of condolence from President Obama? (Hint - It wasn't the first three)

Need we say more??

With thanks to Bob Poris!

Genesis Revisited

Take that, you creationist morons!

God knows!

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

Francis Collins? Say it isn't so, President Obama

Everyone knew, of course, that Barack Obama would not live up to all the expectations of his supporters. But the planned nomination of Francis Collins to head the National Institutes of Health is quite disappointing.

Not that Collins is a raging fundamentalist, but he is a "true" believer who considers life on earth as a creation of the Christian god, and has referred to it as complex, beautiful and "God's most divine and sacred gift."

Not that Collins is not an intelligent man. As Liliana Segura writes, "Collin's claim to fame is having led the Human Genome Project, the ambitious scientific endeavor that achieved a landmark goal: unlocking the DNA code of humanity."

So, what's the problem?

The problem takes shape in this question: Can a person be considered a "true" scientist whose "science" is based upon the religious beliefs that 1) there is a god whose nature is encompassed by Christian theology, and 2) that this god is responsible for everything we observe and experience?

Here's how the problem rears its ugly head. Segura quotes a article from The New Scientist which discusses the BioLogos Foundation, described as "the brainchild of geneticist Francis Collins ... Along with 'a team of scientists who believe in God' and some cash from the Templeton Foundation, Collins, an evangelical Christian who is also a staunch proponent of evolution, is on a crusade to convince believers that faith and science need not be at odds. He is promoting 'theistic evolution' -- the belief that God (the prayer-listening, proactive, personal God of Christianity) chose to create life by way of evolution."

That way sound fairly sensible, but anyone on a "crusade" is worrisome! And as Segura points out:

"As the head of NIH, Collins will oversee a massive research budget; $37 billion in research grants and $4 billion on research programs ... With the years President George W. Bush spent mixing faith and politics (often at the expense of science), an all-too recent memory for many Americans, one might be forgiven for recoiling in horror at the thought of Collins heading up one of the country's most prestigious medical research institutions."

Collins is not a fundamentalist and is, in fact, opposed by the christianist wingnuts. Still, his nomination raises the hackles of those who really don't want to see another Christian "crusader" heading up another government entity - especially one that will direct where and how billions of dollars of research monies are spent.

Read Ms. Segura's entire article here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mr. Deity and the Magic

With thanks to Dan Florien at Unreasonable Faith.

The damn visual recognition module broke down again!

Ann Coulter wins Worst Person in the World Award

The Family - How Christian Conservatives will rule the world

If you have not yet read Jeff Sharlet's The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, it would behoove you to do so as soon as possible.

The following was copied from Crooks & Liars Video Cafe:

I was listening to the Thom Hartmann show the other day, and Thom was interviewing an author that caught my attention. Little wonder since the topic was "Is there a secret society of Christian crazies and is Mark Sanford a member?".

That author was Jeff Sharlet and after listening to to Hartmann interview, I wondered if anyone in the main stream media would put him on the air. Of course, Rachel Maddow, who seems to be getting all of the best guests lately-- or at least when the "news" hasn't been canceled all week for Michael Jackson's death and she mysteriously ends up taking vacation the same week-- ended up being the first one to have him on.

Sharlet is the author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. Scary, scary stuff for any of us that don't like the idea of our government being run by creepy, extremist, right wing Christain fundamentalists.

Sharlet also wrote a piece for Rolling Stone on Sam Brownback which is well worth the read back in 2006 titled God's Senator: Who would Jesus vote for? Meet Sam Brownback.

Maddow: As part of the research for the book, Jeff lived among the family and saw many of its actions first hand. [...] What is C-Street? I know it's a house on C Street in Washington. How is it part of the family?

Sharlet: Well, the C-Street house is actually a former convent and now it's registered as a church and it's run by The Family and used by them to provide housing for six to eight congressmen at any given time, and to provide spiritual counseling for these congressmen.

Which all sounds fine so far, but what makes it a little bit different than other Christian conservative organizations, two things, you said that it's secretive. Indeed the leader of the group describes, he says, the more invisible you can make your organization, the more influence it will have. And the other things is the nature of the influence they want to have.

I got to sit in on one of these spiritual counseling sessions between the leader of the family and Congressman Todd Tiahrt when I visited the C-Street House, I actually met Sen. Ensign there. As the leader of The Family was counseling Congressman Tiahrt, he had this very standard issue, bill of issues related to the Christian right. He said you've got to have a bigger vision of what we're talking about here. He called it Jesus plus nothing.

He said it's sort of a totalitarian idea of Christianity and he gave as examples men who he believed understood the way power should be wielded. He actually gave as examples, Hitler, Pol Pot, Osama bin Laden and Lenin.

Maddow: Wow. When I read your book, The Family, when it first came out in hardback, my notes on um, I write notes in the flyleaf about what I was thinking about. And my notes about it, I went back and looked, were that it was essentially to promote, it saw its role as promoting American power, world wide, unfettered capitalism with no unions, no programs to help poor people, all with this idea that godly powerful rich men should get as many resources as possible personally, and they should just privately help everyone else. That is the impression that I was left with. Was I close?

Sharlet: That's dead on the money. The family began, it's the oldest Christian conservative organization in Washington and it goes back seventy years. And the founder believed that god gave him a new revelation saying that Christianity had gotten it wrong for two thousand years and that what most people think of as Christianity, as being about, you know, helping the weak and the poor and the meek and the down and out, he believes god came to him one night in April in 1935 and said what Christianity should really be about is building more power for the already powerful. And that these powerful men who were chosen by god can then if they want to dispense blessings to the rest of us, through a kind of trickle-down fundamentalism.

Maddow: Well do you see a connection between that large sort of power theology and the fact that neither John Ensign or Mark Sanford for that matter, who's also affiliated with the group, aren't quitting despite these scandals. Is there something about this type of theology that tells these guys, hey don't worry about the affair, you know, big picture, you're good, stay where you are, it's important for you to stay in power?

Sharlet: Yeah, no, I think actually Gov. Sanford made it very clear when he cited King David as an example of the reason why he wasn't going to be resigning office and that struck a bell with me because I, the King David story, the core teaching of The Family, when I first heard it, I was living with The Family.

One of the leaders of The Family was explaining why King David was important and it's not because he was a good man. It's because he was a bad man. You know, he seduced another man's wife, he actually had the husband murdered and he once explained why this was a model and he said it to one of the men in the group. He said, suppose I heard you raped three little girls. What would I think of you? And this guy, being a human being says, you would think I was a monster. Well, the leader of The Family says no, not at all because you're chosen. You're chosen by god for leadership, and so the normal rules don't apply.

Maddow: When Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina talked about his relationship to this group, he's also lived at the C-Street House, he described the group to the AP years ago, six years ago by saying "We do have a bible study...somebody'll share a verse or a thought, but mostly it's more of an accountability group to talk about things that are going on in our lives, and how we're dealing with them". And you've written that members of The Family give each other veto power over their lives, which, with these two scandals, I mean looking at the John Ensign scandal, how does a group like that not veto putting the mistress' kids on the Republican party payroll? How does that not get outed by this group?

Sharlet: Well, because the responsibility of the other men in your accountability group, and I would say by the way, you don't have accountability behind closed doors, that's the opposite of accountability, what these other men are doing is they're saying, alright, we're going to look out for you. Sort of self interest by proxy and what they're calling accountability is a man might bring to the group for instance that he is having an affair with another woman, or the fact that he is perhaps corrupt in some way and so on, and these guys are going to deal with it internally.

Maddow: Wow.

Sharlet: Very much behind closed doors, and we as a group actually once said, what we do is, to use this pretentious Latin phrase, beyond the din of the vox populi. What it means is beyond the voice of the people.

Maddow: Jeff Sharlet is an editor at Harper's Magazine. He's also the author of the book The Family, and if you think this has incredible implications for domestic politics and hypocrisy and affairs, wait till you read about third world dictators and how these guys empower them.

I have written about The Family previously here.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Letterman vs. Palin via Keith Olbermann

Ms. Prissy Palin just ain't gonna win in a war of words with Dave Letterman. Hell, she wouldn't win in any war involving words with a 12-year old middle school student!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Al Franken sworn in - Finally

This swearing-in has been too long delayed by the alleged corrupt former senator from Minnesota, some guy by name of Coleman. Al Franken is a liberal, a thinker, an extremely intelligent man who will be a wonderful addition to this august body. He's also funny.

Many other senators are funny, too. But in their case, as we used to say when we were kids, they are funny as in strange!

As you watch this video clip, you might ask yourself why there are so many empty seats. The Republicans, also known as the disloyal opposition, seem to be absent. But aren't they the ones, with tears running down their chalky cheeks, who have been wailing about the need for "bipartisanship"?

Perhaps bipartisanship does not include the swearing in of a Democratic senator. Of course it doesn't. Silly me! Bipartisanship, in Republican terms, means the Democrats kiss the Republicans' collective asses and ask the Republicans how they can assist the Republicans in pushing the Republican legislative agenda through Congress!

Anything less is, well, socialistic!

The Amazing Reggie

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Answers in Genesis - an evil organization

Now that you've seen this truly evil and untrue advertisement for Jesus from Answers in Genesis, watch the video.

These are very sick puppies!

If you're interested in reading the truth about Sweden (and the other Scandinavian countries and their "godless" societies), pick up a copy of Phil Zuckerman's book, Society Without God.

From Cynical C via Adult Christianity.

Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong on Hell

Bishop Spong hits several nails on the head here. There is no hell; hell is an invention of the church. The church hates like hell to give up hell because hell is a means of controlling the hoi polloi and the church is in the business of controlling people!

Fighting for non-faith by Bill Maher

(Thanks to Daniel Florien at Unreasonable Faith)

Hey baby, let's skate!

This is appropos of nothing much, but it's truly funny. It's an Evian water commercial and in French, but the language is of no consequence. I got it from a friend in France who has thought about having another baby but after watching this is not sure that's a good idea.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Jesus is coming soon!

The Best of Atheism This Week #8

This is a bit long at 10 plus minutes and it's slow starting out, but stick with it, it's funny as hell!

Bernie Madoff hires prison "consultant"

This is all over the blogosphere, so it's not exactly news, but Bernie Madoff has hired a prison consultant to help find him the "best" or most appropriate prison in which to spend the rest of his miserable life.

What the hell's going on here?

There seems to be a consensus among "those that know" that Bernie will not enjoy the luxury of the so-called "country-club" facilities because he was a very, very bad boy!

But, he doesn't want to go to a really dangerous prison, either. My god, he's an old man and can't really defend himself, and can you imagine the damage some redneck white supremacist might do to him in the showers?

When Madoff received his 150-year sentence, the judge did recommend he not be thrown to the wolves in one of those famous hell-holes where the worst of the worst roam around foaming at the mouth.

But, the judge can only recommend. Now, if Madoff is allowed to say anything about his future, he can call up his consultant's recommendations and plead his case. But the ultimate decision is made by the Bureau of Prisons.

What the hell is going on here? Who gives a rat's ass what Madoff wants? While maybe not a violent serial killer, he sure ruined the lives of a lot of people!

He hires a prison consultant?

Please. May the BOP ignore his pleas and give the old nasty what he deserves. For 150 years!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The pathological Ms. Palin

"Abandoning your office and your state, while patting yourself on the back and framing your dereliction as some sort of selfless, patriotic act isn't narcissistic. It's pathological."

This is a summary quote of an excellent article on Ms. Palin's resignation speech. You can read it in its entirety here.

Shut Up, Mark Sanford

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The Power of Prayer

Thanks to Atheist Cartoons.

Prezident Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush, ex-governor of the state of Florida, has said previously on several occasions that he was not going to run for prezident of the United States.

Who could blame him, considering that his brother, George W., is the most disliked prezident in history and was such a massive failure that the history books will need to be greatly expanded just to summarize all his dirty deeds and his incomprehensible stupidity?

But blood, as they say, is thicker than water, and Jeb is a chip off the old block, as they also say, and daddy thinks he should run and would be a good prezident, so now it appears that Jeb may be considering, God help us!, to offer himself to the American people as a candidate for the White House.

According to Deeky at Shakesville, "Recent robocalls to Iowa asked potential voters which of the following they'd most likely vote for: Huckabee, Palin, Gingrich, Jindal, or Jeb Bush ... "

What a group, huh? Huckabee, the self-anointed spokesperson for God and righteousness, who believes in a fundamentalist Christian theocratic state; Palin, who's too damn stupid to walk upright without help; serial adulterer and now convert to the Roman Catholic institution, the ever nasty Grinch, Gingrich; Jindal, another convert to Roman Catholicism who does exorcisms in his spare time, never letting his substantial intellect get in the way of pious religious extremism...and then there's Jeb Bush.

You might think Jeb is less likely to lead America into a nuclear holocaust because he doesn't have a stupid grin on his face all the time like his dumber brother, but don't be fooled. Jeb is a dyed-in-the-wool right wing fanatic, and another Roman Catholic convert who tends toward theocracy, dogmatism and reliance on authority - his!

As governor of Florida, he screwed up the entire educational enterprise with a system of testing that did nothing but dumb down the school population. He was also a vociferous fighter for vouchers so parents could send their kids to private (read religious, read Catholic) schools on the public's dime. He further fought for the right of the religious right to impose their non-scientific "Intelligent Design" crap on our high school students - you know, on the basis that students ought to know about different interpretations as to how life came to be.

Jeb was also a big fan of providing private entrepreneurs (of which he is one, with the help of moneyed friends!) the ability to dip their grubby little hands into the public pot...and so we have, in part, a private prison system, which doesn't seem to have worked out too well!

Under Jeb, the rich got richer and the poor got poorer, 'cause the rich were granted the right to pay less taxes and the state's infrastructure went to hell -- Florida's bridges are, in truth, falling down.

And, well, we don't even want to begin to talk about 2000!

Jeb is just another Bush in a suit sans cowboy hat. He carries all the elitist baggage of the Bush family and if you haven't yet read Russ Baker's Family of Secrets - The Bush Dynasty, The Powerful Forces That Put It In The White House, And What Their Influence Means For America, get thyself to a bookstore!

You may think George was a nightmare. Jeb will make that nightmare look like a pleasant dream!

But, hey, Daddy think's he's a "good" man and would be a "good" prezident. The problem with that is that Daddy doesn't know the different between good and goofus.

Sam (Joe) the plumber in Florida

He's baaaack! Sam or Joe the plumber showed up in Florida yesterday, July 4, at a Tea Party to protest the government's rapacious tax policies...I caught just the tail end of it, but I believe it was in the town of Apopka that the dimwit paraded his nonsense. There's a lot of nonsense "paraded" about on July 4th.

Sam (Joe), as you recall, is the unlicensed plumber who failed to pay his taxes, but was nevertheless put on a pedestal by the Republican Party as a symbol of the "average" working American for whom the Republican Party lives and dies.

Oh, stop laughing. That's true!

This empty-headed twit spoke yesterday about how the government is bad and taxes are bad and he has the answers. What are those answers? Hmmm. He did suggest that people ought to read the Constitution. Other than that, I'm not sure. Don't pay your taxes?

Now, Joe (Sam) admitted one time that he'd probably take "handouts" from the guv'mint when he retired, albeit reluctantly...even though, if he was truly a working man he would have paid in substantial monies to the government in order to get some of it back.

Sam (Joe) further failed to mention how he would pay for police and fire protection, construction and repair of roads, regulation of airplanes, trucks and railroads, prisons, schools, and lifeguards, etc., etc., if people didn't pay their taxes.

Nevertheless, the hoi polloi stood around, applauded his "stimulating" rhetoric, took pictures of his bald head, and generally acted patriotic. Patriotism comes alive on July 4th, you know. In Florida, all true patriots buy illegal fireworks (they have to lie to get them) and then proceed to blow up hundreds of dollars worth of the stuff in their driveways, threatening to burn down their neighbor's houses and drive the local animals into hiding.

Not so long ago, I read that Joe (Sam) might enter politics. It depends on what God tells him to do. But wouldn't it be nice to have a "real" Uncle Sam?