Malignant Christianity

Yesterday, Fresh Air with Terry Gross featured an interview with Rachel Tabachnik who recently wrote a post at Alternet about a new religious movement called the New Apostolic Reformation. Paul Rosenberg wrote a followup post titled “The Biggest Religious Movement You Never Heard of: Nine Things You Need to Know About Rick Perry’s Prayer Event“.  I highly recommend these pieces to those of you who are not familiar with this new cult of evangelicals who are planning to conduct spiritual warfare on an institution or religious affiliation near you.

I don’t know what effect they will have on the political system if they ever get a politician in the White House but if we give them some rope, they just might hang themselves.  I call them malignant because they really don’t care what sect of Christianity *you* believe.  There is only one truth according to them and it is the one they define.  They have absolutely no respect for your religious beliefs.  They don’t believe in tolerance.  They’re cultlike in that they have cultivated a mindset and thought stopping ideas and it is impossible to argue with them.  You can’t reason with people whose minds exist in a parallel universe.  They are end timers who put their faith only in God.  They are waiting for a critical mass of Jews to accept Christ before the end.  Unlike some evangelicals, they don’t necessarily believe in the Rapture.  They expect that they will have to go through the tribulations on earth before Jesus comes.

In many respects, they are indistinguishable from Jehovah’s Witnesses.  This is pretty surprising.  When I was a kid, Jehovah’s Witnesses were thought of as eyes-glazed-over zealots with no sense of humor and a stubborn streak of anti-intellectualism.  Now, a whole new generation of evangelicals has adopted their theology lock, stock and barrel and probably don’t even know it.

These new apostles claim they don’t belong to any church.  They belong to a movement.  Their movement is obsessed with the idea of demons everywhere, another feature of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Yep, if you are a freemason in the Midwest, you just might find a bunch of these people standing on the lawn to your temple, driving a stake in the grass and praying fervently to drive the demons out.  In most other respects, they are like the religious right.  Adamantly anti-abortion, they also think that homosexuality is perverted.  It’s not just that they think it’s immoral, the very thought of gay sex is mentally and emotionally revolting to them.  I find this aspect really weird but it does tell you something about the age of some of these participants.  Bedroom practices for gay and straight couples don’t really differ a lot these days but you don’t hear the religious right spazzing out about married heterosexuals performing oral or anal sex.  If it’s immoral to use the wrong orifice, it’s wrong for anyone who does it.  Consistency, people.  It would make you a whole lot more credible.

They also seem to think that the government has too much of a safety net and that the responsibility for helping people in need belongs to the church.  This is really strange because these people don’t belong to physical churches and they detest the mainstream religious institutions so who’s supposed to be doing this stuff for the poor?  And what do the poor have to give up in exchange?  It’s funny how these people think the unemployed are parasites after people such as myself paid more in taxes in a year than some of them made in salary.  We’re out of work but we still pay taxes on severance benefits (if we’re lucky enough to get them) and our unemployment checks.  But when the severance is gone, so are the taxes.  You’d think that the New Apostolic Reformation would be banging down the doors of Congress to get politicians to focus on unemployment but you would be wrong.  Because these new apostles don’t believe in the government of man.  They’re waiting for the end time to come.  Any effort towards solving the economic crisis would be a waste of time and besides, that would deprive them of their ability to look down on anyone not like them.

I call it malignant.  It spreads and it causes great harm to the body without providing any positive benefits.  Tabachnik says it’s gaining in popularity but I would hazard a guess that it will become a lot less popular after 2012 when the obsession with Mayan numerology takes its course and we’re all still here in January 2013. Or when Glenn Beck exhausts his good will among the survivalists.  Or when Rupert Murdoch finally has to explain himself before a Congressional committee.

But keep the malignancy aspect in the forefront of your mind.  The New Apostolic Reformation has nothing to offer this country or the world or you personally.  The politicians who pander to it probably don’t either.

Indulge me here: Hillary is to “corporatist” as Obama is to …

Obama at NH debate finds corporatist Hillary "likeable enough"

… what?

The reason we couldn’t have Hillary, according to the *it* bloggers, was that she was a corporatist, whatever that means. Now, I’m not stupid enough to assert that corporations are persons, as the USSC seems wont to do, but I do believe that we can coexist peacefully and that a savvy politician can help both corporations and real, live persons work together for a more prosperous America.

That’s not what we have here in the good old U. S. of A. anymore. The gulf oil spill has intensified our focus on the relationship between corporations and the Obama administration. What we have here is a failure to hold accountable. The lack of accountability has been a staple feature of the past 10 years. In fact, I think that’s what the whole deregulatory movement is all about: the ability to act with impunity. No one is accountable anymore for anything.

Now, we can blame this on the Republicans or the fact that the Big Dawg’s outgoing administration cut the deregulators some slack, perhaps assuming that Al Gore would win the presidency in 2000 and sew things back up. But how do we account for Obama’s failure to hold corporations accountable for their misdeeds well into the second year of his first term? Wasn’t that what the voters hired him to do? I think when voters heard him say “Change!”, they thought he meant setting things right and making the government work for them, putting the brakes on “irrational exuberance”, making the rich pay their fair share.

That’s not what we got. So, what *did* we get? If Hillary was the ultimate DLC loving “corporatist”, what is Obama?

Paul Rosenberg has an interesting post this morning that touches on this subject tangentially. It seems to me that Paul is finally coming around to what we have always thought about Obama. Obama is first and foremost pro-Obama. That is the driving principle by which he operates. In this respect, he is no different than any other power seeking executive. His eye is always on the next position above him. Getting there is his mission in life. Now, he’s there.

What did he plan to do once he got to be president of the United States? I suppose that like many people who wanted that spot, he had dreams of making a difference. The problem is that he had very little in the way of experience upon which to draw once he got there. Maybe he bought into the management culture where perceptions and expectations can be shaped. Maybe he really did think it was possible to relate to Republicans. I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure. Any speculation at this point would be a continuation of the projection of goodness that got him into office in the first place.

But we can look at what he has done while he has been in office. And we can look at who he has used to forward whatever agenda he purports to have. (I don’t know what that agenda is because it isn’t very well articulated). From his deeds and his appointees, we can draw an early conclusion about Obama. And here it is:

He’s over his head.

It’s a complex nation. We are in an economic crisis. One of the major parties is determined to shred what little remains of the social safety net. Obama is either a willing participant or completely overwhelmed where this is concerned. I’m not sure the Republicans even know why they have to be so cruel as to remove all security from the working class. It’s like blood sport to them. There doesn’t have to be a reason. It’s simply who they are and what they believe. If their mindless enthusiasm were to affect one of their own family members, perhaps they would reconsider. But the rich and well-connected may only now be coming face to face with what they have wrought on their poorer cousins. Like rapacious grasshoppers, they’ve eaten their way through their storehouses and are now are thoughtlessly eating their seed corn in a frenzy of short term thinking and Obama is enabling them.

I think he’s weak. I think he hired Rahm Emannuel because he didn’t have enough time in Congress to know what levers to push to get things done. And if he didn’t have Rahm, he’d have to hire someone like him.

I don’t resent Obama taking his wife out on the taxpayer’s dime. I don’t begrudge him any perk of his office. Being president is hard, even for the guy who is over his head. Even in these tough economic times, it’s a good thing to show that you are committed to your wife and that you aren’t going to forego a little joy. Life goes on. I don’t think race has anything to do with his failure. Character is not fixed by a genetic mutation for melanin production. I think the birther issue is ridiculous and is racist in its formation. But in Obama, we have a man who jumped ahead in the queue not because he was African American but because he was unprepared. Ruthless ambition by the first viable African American politician for president was no excuse for abrogating the responsibility to do what was right for the country.

Would waiting until 2016 to run have made a difference for Obama? We’ll never know. But what is clear is that we ditched a politician with 16 years of executive knowledge and a thorough understanding of the mechanisms of government and how to work them. We turned our backs on a politician who came to every debate over-prepared. We humiliated a politician who was associated with the last successful presidency of our lifetime when our country needed a calm, level-headed leader. And we did it when the country could least afford to have an amateur in the Oval Office.

So, I just have to ask, now that the office has forced him to solidify out of the vapor that he was during the campaign of 2008, what is Obama? If Hillary was a “corporatist”, what is Obama?

Paul Rosenberg: The latest access blogger to go racist

Paul wakes up but is it in time??

Paul wakes up but is it in time??

Just kidding, Paul.  We know you’re not a racist, even if you don’t think that Barack Obama derives his (so-called) formidable political skills from the unavoidable fact that he is the first black president evah!  For us, it was never a matter of race, which is why we held our candidates to a higher standard.  No one got a free pass at The Confluence because they could make more melanin.  Neither melanin production nor gender,  are qualities cross linked to political ability, as far as I know.  Integrity, experience and principles probably are.   I will admit to being choked up the night Obama won.  The joy evident in the crowd in Grant Park was something I waited my whole life to see.  But the sentiment was fleeting.  There were more pressing issues on my mind.

Of all of the front pagers at OpenLeft, you and Natasha were the ones I was pulling for, and now you have delivered and how.  I never thought I would see the day that a progressive blog would allow “Barack Obama” and “Political incompetent” to be in the same paragraph together.  That kind of $#@% only happens on the bad liberal blogs like yours truly, Correntewire and Alegre’s Corner.  Your “They Just Don’t Make Recoveries Like They Used To” post to me is like watching someone waking up to the fact that there’s a pillow over his face and that someone really *is* trying to kill him:

One could argue, “Well, he’s a very good politician, you just don’t like what his politics are.”  But a politician who undermines his party and his country cannot seriously be regarded as a competent politician.  Presiding over the ongoing destruction of America’s middle class with Bush-like cluelessness is not competence by any kind of remotely rational standard.  And if the previous chart didn’t quite get through to you, then consider the following one, which includes the 1980 “recovery” that lead directly into a “double dip” recession.  The following chart shows every recession since 1980 (see chart at OpenLeft):

In fact, he’s not even trying to be a competent politician.

In short, Obama’s indifference to the suffering of tens of millions of Americans may or may not result in Democrats’ loss of Congress in 2010 and/or his own loss of re-election in 2012.  Because Republican victories would be utterly catastrophic, I have to hope that these losses don’t come to pass.  But Obama’s governance so far has been disastrous for the middle class. Supporting disaster as opposed to catastrophe is not my idea of a good place to be politically.  And a politician who gives us that choice is not remotely a competent one.

And that’s not saying anything about his utter failure to even fight for a credible response to global warming, or his continued support for the Bush/Cheney “long war” approach to the “war on terror”, the very existence of which is a victory for al Qaeda.

This is incompetence on a breathtaking scale.  This is Nero fiddling while Rome burns.  And the fact that Obama is a superb fiddle player (first black fiddle player evuh!) does not even come close to making any sort of difference at all.

Welcome to the club, Paul!  Myiq will send you your “So you’ve decided to become a racist!?” complimentary white sheet and hormone replacement therapy starter pack.  That is, until you decide to diss us so you don’t become contaminated with “a certain class of woman” as Jane Hamsher would say or a closet Republican as Big Tent Democrat likes to refer to us.

{{sigh}}

It’s one of the burdens we carry for being prematurely right about Barack Obama.  And it really is a burden because the Obama branding committee was so successful at turning the rest of the party against us.  It’s just so hard to believe we saw through him early on we just HAD to have some screws loose, right?  We saw how some of you guys deep down really did know that Obama wasn’t all that but you didn’t want to say it for fear of losing face, or losing access or losing your friends or losing your ad revenue.  That’s OK, we understand.  It’s human nature.  Axelrod and company played that nature for all that it was worth.

The question I have for you now, Paul, is what are you going to do about it?  Are you going to stand out there alone, apart from Chris and tell it like it is?  Are you going to acknowledge that we are your natural allies?  Or are you going to be like BTD and Jane and a dozen other liberals who have turned your backs on us and embraced your cynicism so that you don’t have to be tainted by us, the new demographic independent liberals?

If you go your own way, the incompetents win.  They love it when you act like being seen with us is embarrassing.  With the left divided, no one will be able to hold them accountable for anything they do.  But if you acknowledge us, you take the first steps to reconstituting the left.

United we stand and all that treacly sentimental stuff.  Once upon a time, there was a reason why it was important.

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