Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More on McCain, then.

To wit, no, he is NOT a "moderate," yes, he IS substantially worse than either Obama -or- HRC, and yes, even if this doesn't turn out to be the very last free democratic election in the U.S. or anywhere ever -either,- it -does- matter, and it -will- be more than bad -enough- for way too many people if he wins. Part one of a probably continuing series.

To begin.

From Mother Jones: an article on McCain's "spiritual guide," Rod Parsley, who is worth a post or twelve in his own right. Here is a taste, though, to get you started, on THAT guy. (MoJo article continues below vids).

Senator John McCain hailed as a spiritual adviser an Ohio megachurch pastor who has called upon Christians to wage a "war" against the "false religion" of Islam with the aim of destroying it.

On February 26, McCain appeared at a campaign rally in Cincinnati with the Reverend Rod Parsley of the World Harvest Church of Columbus, a supersize Pentecostal institution that features a 5,200-seat sanctuary, a television studio (where Parsley tapes a weekly show), and a 122,000-square-foot Ministry Activity Center. That day, a week before the Ohio primary, Parsley praised the Republican presidential front-runner as a "strong, true, consistent conservative."

...McCain, with Parsley by his side at the Cincinnati rally, called the evangelical minister a "spiritual guide."

The leader of a 12,000-member congregation, Parsley has written several books outlining his fundamentalist religious outlook, including the 2005 Silent No More. In this work, Parsley decries the "spiritual desperation" of the United States, and he blasts away at the usual suspects: activist judges, civil libertarians who advocate the separation of church and state, the homosexual "culture" ("homosexuals are anything but happy and carefree"), the "abortion industry," and the crass and profane entertainment industry. And Parsley targets another profound threat to the United States: the religion of Islam.

In a chapter titled "Islam: The Deception of Allah," Parsley warns there is a "war between Islam and Christian civilization." He continues:

I cannot tell you how important it is that we understand the true nature of Islam, that we see it for what it really is. In fact, I will tell you this: I do not believe our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand our historical conflict with Islam. I know that this statement sounds extreme, but I do not shrink from its implications. The fact is that America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed, and I believe September 11, 2001, was a generational call to arms that we can no longer ignore.

Parsley is not shy about his desire to obliterate Islam. In Silent No More, he notes—approvingly—that Christopher Columbus shared the same goal: "It was to defeat Islam, among other dreams, that Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World in 1492…Columbus dreamed of defeating the armies of Islam with the armies of Europe made mighty by the wealth of the New World. It was this dream that, in part, began America." He urges his readers to realize that a confrontation between Christianity and Islam is unavoidable: "We find now we have no choice. The time has come."

...Parsley, who refers to himself as a "Christocrat," is no stranger to controversy. In 2007, the grassroots organization he founded, the Center for Moral Clarity, called for prosecuting people who commit adultery. In January, he compared Planned Parenthood to Nazis. In the past Parsley's church has been accused of engaging in pro-Republican partisan activities in violation of its tax-exempt status.

Why would McCain court Parsley? He has long had trouble figuring out how to deal with Christian fundamentalists, an important bloc for the Republican Party. During his 2000 presidential bid, he referred to Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell as "agents of intolerance." But six years later, as he readied himself for another White House run, McCain repudiated that remark. More recently, his campaign hit a rough patch when he accepted the endorsement of the Reverend John Hagee, a Texas televangelist who has called the Catholic Church "the great whore" and a "false cult system." After the Catholic League protested and called on McCain to renounce Hagee's support, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee praised Hagee's spiritual leadership and support of Israel and said that "when [Hagee] endorses me, it does not mean that I embrace everything that he stands for or believes in." After being further criticized for his Hagee connection, McCain backed off slightly, saying, "I repudiate any comments that are made, including Pastor Hagee's, if they are anti-Catholic or offensive to Catholics." But McCain did not renounce Hagee's endorsement.

A bit more on Hagee, if you haven't been following, the -other- scary paleolithic right-wing religious zealot McCain endorser:

and a compare-n-contrast with the Obama/Wright business from the Sable Verity:

It took more time than it should have, but on Tuesday Barack Obama firmly rejected the racism and paranoia of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., and he made it clear that the preacher does not represent him, his politics or his campaign.

Senator Obama has had to struggle to explain this relationship ever since a video surfaced of Mr. Wright damning the United States from his pulpit. Last month, Mr. Obama delivered a speech in which he said he disapproved of Mr. Wright’s racially charged comments but said that the pastor still played an important role in his spiritual life.

It was a distinction we were not sure would sit well with many voters. But what mattered more was the speech’s powerful commentary on the state of race relations in this country. We hoped it would open the door to a serious, healthy and much-needed discussion on race.

Mr. Wright has not let that happen. In the last few days, in a series of shocking appearances, he embraced the Rev. Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism. He said the government manufactured the AIDS virus to kill blacks. He suggested that America was guilty of “terrorism” and so had brought the 9/11 attacks on itself.

This could not be handled by a speech about the complexities of modern life. It required a powerful, unambiguous denunciation — and Mr. Obama gave it. He said his former pastor’s “rants” were “appalling.” “They offend me,” he said. “They rightly offend all Americans. And they should be denounced. And that’s what I’m doing very clearly and unequivocally here today.”

He said he was angry that Mr. Wright suggested that he was insincere when he previously criticized the pastor’s views. “If Reverend Wright thinks that that’s political posturing, as he put it, then he doesn’t know me very well,” Mr. Obama said. “And based on his remarks yesterday, well, I may not know him as well as I thought either.”

...Senator John McCain has continued to embrace a prominent white supporter, Pastor John Hagee, whose bigotry matches that of Mr. Wright. Mr. McCain has not tried hard enough to stop a race-baiting commercial — complete with video of Mr. Wright — that is being run against Mr. Obama in North Carolina.


So, the latest with Hagee is, he's apologized for the Catholic-baiting.

John Hagee, an influential Texas televangelist who endorsed John McCain, apologized to Catholics Tuesday for his stinging criticism of the Roman Catholic Church and for having "emphasized the darkest chapters in the history of Catholic and Protestant relations with the Jews."

Hagee's support for McCain has drawn cries of outrage from some Catholic leaders who have called on McCain to reject Hagee's endorsement. The likely Republican nominee has said he does not agree with some of Hagee's past comments, but did not reject his support.

In a letter to William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights, Hagee wrote: "Out of a desire to advance a greater unity among Catholics and evangelicals in promoting the common good, I want to express my deep regret for any comments that Catholics have found hurtful."

Which is great, if you're William Donohue, apparently (remember him?)

Donohue, one of Hagee's sharpest critics, said he accepted the apology and planned to meet with Hagee Thursday in New York.

"I got what I wanted," Donohue said in an interview. "He's seen the light, as they like to say. So for me it's over." know, this William Donohue.

William A. Donohue, president of the conservative Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, has made 23 guest appearances on TV news programs in 2004. Donohue uses his appearances primarily to attack gays and progressives. He has referred to the "gay death style," remarked, "God forbid we'd run out of little gay kids," claimed that Senator John Kerry "never found an abortion he couldn't justify," and claimed that "Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular ... Hollywood likes anal sex."

... although Hagee's not yet seen fit to apologize for such gems as

"[Gay marriage] will open the door to incest, to polygamy, and every conceivable marriage arrangement demented minds can possibly conceive. If God does not then punish America, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah."


"The Quran teaches that [all Muslims have a mandate to kill Christians and Jews]. Yes, it teaches that very clearly."


"Only a Spirit-filled woman can submit to her husband's lead. It is the natural desire of a woman to lead through feminine manipulation of the man...Fallen women will try to dominate the marriage. The man has the God-given role to be the loving leader of the home."


It was the disobedience and rebellion of the Jews, God’s chosen people, to their covenantal responsibility to serve only the one true God, Jehovah, that gave rise to the opposition and persecution that they experienced beginning in Canaan and continuing to this very day.


How utterly repulsive, insulting, and heartbreaking to God for his chosen people to credit idols with bringing blessings he had showered upon the chosen people. Their own rebellion had birthed the seed of anti-Semitism that would arise and bring destruction to them for centuries to come.

So, McCain's officially said he's not on board with everything Hagee says, to wit:

Reporting on a New Orleans campaign event at which Sen. John McCain's "carefully scripted imagery was interrupted by a voter's question about Pastor John Hagee," CNN's Dana Bash aired a clip of Hagee -- who has endorsed McCain -- saying of Hurricane Katrina, "What happened in New Orleans looked like the curse of God." But Bash did not air the portion of Hagee's comments in which he reaffirmed his previous assertion that Hurricane Katrina was at least in part the result of "sin" that Hagee identified as "a massive homosexual rally." CNN's John Roberts and Kyra Phillips similarly noted that Hagee said that "Katrina was God's punishment for sinful behavior in New Orleans" without mentioning that among the "sinful behavior" Hagee referenced was the gay pride parade.

... McCAIN: When someone endorses me, that does not mean that I embrace their views.

BASH: And, on his bus, a dig at [Sen.] Barack Obama.

McCAIN: I didn't attend Pastor Hagee's church for 20 years. And there's a great deal of difference, in my view, between someone who endorses you and other circumstances.

... McCain called Reverend Hagee's comments, quote, "nonsense," but didn't reject his endorsement.

O.K., so let's go with, Hagee's just this one guy who endorses him, kind of embarrassing, that McCain has to sort of tolerate, perhaps, nod nod wink wink. This is either a sign in his favor or...not, depending on where you're coming from. Certainly McCain's had an uneasy relationship with the extremist theocratic right in the past. And some of the key leaders still don't really seem to trust him.

April 3, 2008 12:10

...James Dobson, the head of Focus on the Family, struck out against the candidacy of John McCain, in a statement sent to the Wall Street Journal. "I have seen no evidence that Sen. McCain is successfully unifying the Republican Party or drawing conservatives into his fold. To the contrary, he seems intent on driving them away," he wrote.

As for Rod Parsley,'s an interesting take on that relationship.

No one believes, of course, that McCain, an Episcopalian-turned Baptist-of-convenience, looks for spiritual advice from Ralph - er, Rod Parsley. Long coveted by Republican politicians, Parsley, a Pentecostal, tongue-speaking, faith-healing Bible college drop-out, is not sought after for his theological acumen. He's been on the Republican radar screen since the mid-1980s, when he first began building a national audience through his daily TV programme, Breakthrough. Starting with, he claims, a backyard following of 17 people, he has built a 12,000-member church and a television empire by peddling the idea that if you give him your money, God will bless you a thousand times over with financial abundance. "Sow a seed," Parsley preaches, and "you will reap a harvest."

Parsley didn't invent this formulation, known as Word of Faith, a Christian movement with roots in post-World War II revivals, which has grown like wildfire since the advent of Christian television in the 1960s. Parsley is part of a movement that includes names like Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar, who have been in the news for their defiance of a Senate investigation (led by McCain's fellow Republican Charles Grassley) into possible abuse of their churches' tax-exempt status by diverting donations for their own profit. It includes Parsley, McCain endorser John Hagee, and thousands of others like them, who pastor churches in big cities and small towns, raking in tithes and offerings by peddling the idea that God will bless you with financial rewards if you line your preacher's pockets.

...If you were to look inside the founding documents of Parsley's church and talk to a few people, you'd find his church was set up by a lawyer - later disbarred for helping another pastor fleece his flock - who thinks that the Bible shows that the pastor should be "the highest paid person around" and identifies government as the beast in the Book of Revelation. You would find that this lawyer created an authoritarian structure for Parsley that named him pastor for life. You would find that no one has the right question Parsley or to see the church's finances. If you made a trip to the local courthouse, you would find that Parsley's been sued three times - twice by family members - but that gag orders shield the settlements from public view.

Perhaps McCain might claim his error is a failure to vet Parsley, as he recently maintained he neglected to vet Hagee, Parsley's friend and ally. But Google, Amazon and television offer all the vetting you'd really need. McCain's sin is not a failure to vet Parsley, but his enthusiastic participation in the enterprise he once condemned: the Republican scheme to monopolize the ballots of "values voters" by propping up leaders whose own values are dubious at best.

In other words, as I read all this, at least: McCain's not really a theocrat in his heart, no; but he's totally willing to play (along with) one on TV as far as he has to, if the backroom deals cut with high-profile snake-handler-oil salesmen help get him into power.

And this would be a good, for anyone except the backroom dealers in question, how?

I mean, the prevailing view more or less has been that McCain is a "moderate," a "maverick," even, goes his own way, doesn't owe his soul to anyone, good old fashioned salt of the earth old-school small-c conservative.

And one could, I suppose, try to make the case that somewhere under all the current posturing and posing and pandering with people who sound like they're straight outta the Handmaid's Tale when they don't sound like bargain basement Elmer Gantries, the "real" McCain is still in there, and will return once he's safely in office. (Apart from of course he's still a Republican with the legacy of eight years of Dubya already firmly in place). Well, it can't be -too- bad, right? Maybe? Say, who -is- the real McCain, then, anyway, assuming he doesn't have to dance too much with the ones like Hagee and Parsley what brung him? What are his positions -now-, as opposed to ten or twenty years ago? What's his actual voting record? What could we reasonably expect from a McCain presidency?

ETA: Very briefly, and once again, here's a hint of what we might expect from McCain wrt reproductive rights:

Voting Record
# Supports repealing Roe v. Wade. (May 2007)
# Voted YES on defining unborn child as eligible for SCHIP. (Mar 2008)
# Voted YES on barring HHS grants to organizations that perform abortions. (Oct 2007)
# Voted YES on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines. (Apr 2007)
# Voted YES on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions. (Jul 2006)
# Voted NO on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives. (Mar 2005)
# Voted YES on criminal penalty for harming unborn fetus during other crime. (Mar 2004)
# Voted YES on banning partial birth abortions except for maternal life. (Mar 2003)
# Voted YES on maintaining ban on Military Base Abortions. (Jun 2000)
# Voted YES on banning partial birth abortions. (Oct 1999)
# Voted YES on banning human cloning. (Feb 1998)

# Rated 0% by NARAL, indicating a pro-life voting record. (Dec 2003)

which, in case you were wondering why NARAL just endorsed Obama, well, it's because if you put him up against McCain rather than HRC, which, like it or not, it looks like NARAL has decided is realpolitik, the contrast is rather stark:

# Rated 100% by NARAL on pro-choice votes in 2005, 2006 & 2007. (Jan 2008)
# Voted against banning partial birth abortion. (Oct 2007)
# Stem cells hold promise to cure 70 major diseases. (Aug 2007)
# Trust women to make own decisions on partial-birth abortion. (Apr 2007)
# Extend presumption of good faith to abortion protesters. (Oct 2006)
# Constitution is a living document; no strict constructionism. (Oct 2006)
# Pass the Stem Cell Research Bill. (Jun 2004)
# Protect a woman's right to choose. (May 2004)
# Supports Roe v. Wade. (Jul 1998)
# Voted NO on defining unborn child as eligible for SCHIP. (Mar 2008)
# Voted NO on prohibiting minors crossing state lines for abortion. (Mar 2008)
# Voted YES on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines. (Apr 2007)
# Voted NO on notifying parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions. (Jul 2006)
# Voted YES on $100M to reduce teen pregnancy by education & contraceptives. (Mar 2005)
# Sponsored bill providing contraceptives for low-income women. (May 2006)
# Rated 0% by the NRLC, indicating a pro-choice stance. (Dec 2006)
# Ensure access to and funding for contraception. (Feb 2007)

**** Rated 100% by NARAL on pro-choice votes in 2005, 2006 & 2007. (Jan 2008)****

to be continued.

ETA: btw, you know what else about Rod Parsley?

Some analysts credit Parsley for helping President George W. Bush win Ohio in 2004. As pastor of the 12,000-member World Harvest Church, Parsley used his platform to campaign for a state ban on gay marriage. When those he rallied entered the polling booth, most also pulled the lever for Bush, who won the state by only two percentage points.

Parsley has ambitious goals for the November election, which features hard-fought Ohio gubernatorial and Senate races that could also shape the presidential election in 2008.


thene said...

Potential cheer: an intriguing cif last week about how some religious righties are so down on McCain they want Obama to win so the world will end? I won't try to get my head around that, but it's cute to know.

belledame222 said...

Interesting, thanks.

This is also rather schadenfreudischly cheering.

Daisy said...

Wow, Belle, kudos for such a detailed, comprehensive post. You seem to have anticipated several rightwingnut lines of argument in advance--bravo!

I was forced by a grieving relative to attend Parsley's Pentecostalish circus some years ago. Didn't want to, but she insisted and needed constant emotional support after her father's death. (I'm from Ohio also.) And I never forgot The Parsley Show. Lemme tell you, it was Something Else--I shoulda known he'd go on to considerable fame in TV-preacherland. Razzle Dazzle barely covers it.

He said plenty of incendiary things in his sermon, even as I tried hard to tune it out. The main offensive stuff I remember (as I was a recovery zealot at the time), was his insistence that AA and 12 steps etc was NOT the way of God, was a spiritual "impostor", blah blah blah. I remember wondering what HIS recovery stats were, compared to AA's? He pissed me off with that shit and I used that as my excuse (with aforementioned relative) never to go again. She understood, too, since she had been with me during some of my worst times. (We didn't discuss his sermon in depth, and I never asked her if she agreed with him.)

But yes, Rod Parsley = major head-up-the-ass and a probable crook, too.

Why has it been Reverend-Wright-O-Rama 24/7, and not these guys, ya wonder?

Media bias???? Naaahhhh.

Kristin said...

Well, it's like... Yes, it's grating that Obama called the woman reporter "sweetie." It's not ideal, not by a long shot. But, well... You start watching the video clips you've posted here, and you're like: Oh, fuck, that's riiiight. This is the party that *really* wants to fuck women over, and, seriously, I can *live* with someone who uses 'sweetie' much more happily than I could live with someone who thinks I'm responsible for, you know, The Decline of America and Western Civilization and that I personally am responsible for 9/11 because I'm attracted to women.

Also, to be frank, I am really not liking the comments I'm seeing on feministe and elsewhere that imply that I'm not a *good enough feminist* if I'm not up, really, for fighting To the Death on behalf of Hillary's candidacy. Or the people who keep calling me an Obamabot even though I keep pointing out: "Look, I'm not *overly thrilled* about either candidate, I *just* want McCain to lose, okay?"

Kristin said...

Oh my god, Daisy, that's horrible. I'm so sorry you had to visit that church and listen to a lecture about how your path wasn't "the way of God." Ugh... That's horrifying.

Celia said...

It may be presumptuous of me to say (not being an American and all), but my feeling is that McCain has such an astonishing collection of personal faults, such a generally revolting personality and set of beliefs, that I think he might actually be more wretched than Bush. I don't really care if Clinton, Obama or a small bag of salad gets the nomination for the Democrats, just so long as McCain's meaty fists aren't all over international politics.

Obama rather reminds me of Tony Blair in 1997, actually. Though the situation there was that the Tories had been in power for 398494275847587425 years (or thereabouts), and people were more than a little sick of them. I couldn't possibly say if that's the feeling over the Atlantic.

belledame222 said...

Well, I hope he doesn't turn out to be like Blair, at least in certain aspects. You could also say, well erm uh, like Bill Clinton, I suppose...

but yeah, we've had eight years of this shit, that's a lot of it right there, and HRC, besides everything else, well, she's got her own baggage. I mean, we've already just had -twenty years- of having either a Clinton or a Bush in office; personally I'd be okay not extending that even more, although again, obviously, I'd go for either Clinton in a heartbeat over Bush -or- McCain.

belledame222 said...

and as for the "not good enough feminist" crap: yes well, I've already apparently had my card revoked and burned a dozen times over and even considered turning it in myself recently, empty as I think the gesture actually is; that argument is, shall we say, underwhelming.

Celia said...

Obviously, Tony Blair was well up George Bush's arse (and several other distressing places), and I hope Obama isn't quite on that side of things (though I seem to recall Blair was also up Bill Clinton's arse at least a little way, but didn't see as much of his presidency while PM, so). Perhaps I mean that the general atmosphere surrounding this election is similar to the one where Blair won in '97, where there's all this "hope", "change" and "new this, new that" - plus he's young(ish), cool(ish) and certainly more interesting than the last leader of his party.

Of course, as I say, if Hillary is the candidate chosen, good luck to her - though one might grow to thinking that position of power is inherited, and the president after HRC would turn out to be one of the Bush twins or something. Mmm, respectable.

Natasha said...

I am no Obama fan. In fact, I consider him to be a candidate for war crimes trials -- he voted to continue funding the Iraq War in one case or two.

But, you're right about his superiority to the Republican nominee on this point. That pastor you quoted scares me. These premodern bigots can't be allowed to dictate the political future of America.

I've been reconsidering my decision not to vote in this presidential election, because I can't stand to see someone with such anti-modern views on life become president.

8 years of George Bush -- no, one second of George Bush -- is enough.

belledame222 said...

hey, welcome Natasha. and yeah, I just think--after eight years of this, another one? he'll be more of the same if not worse, McCain, and almost certainly there's gonna be at least one more Supreme Court judge to pick, and really, even if one does think Hillary is better than Obama (or vice versa), the difference is -not- worth it to me, and neither is the symbolism of a protest vote (or non vote).

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