'Radical Christian' wants to balance 'radical Marxist'
I've been following a certain Christianist nut, apparently a high school football coach who says he "walked away from public education in 2000" but last year "started a varsity football program at a local Christian High School" in Ohio. I know this because of his inimitable rant "They Don't Even Look Like Men," which he posted halfway through the season, in which he criticized his own players for their lack of aggressive attitude:
Our football team is driving me nuts. They are great young men, obedient and mannerly, the kind of kid you could trust with your daughter. But as my own high school football coach often said they need a little "piss and vinegar." They take the "turn the other cheek" attitude with them onto the field. Our Christian-culture has taught them that being "gracious in defeat" is Christ-like. I tell them being "gracious in victory" is more fun.
Maybe it is just me. I want them to be MEN. Our Christian-culture teaches them to be doormats. ... Someone, somewhere, determined that trading the old man for the new man meant losing your backbone. Heck, you can't even pass gas at a "men's fellowship" without being looked at as if you had just pee-peed on the Decalogue. Pastors are the worst. Any whiff of "Christian testosterone" sends them to their Joyce Meyer collection of sermons in an attempt to "soften" your rough edges.
Well, not for me. My new birth made me more manly, more courageous, and more willing to live life on the edge. I like guys with rough edges.
I quote this dick at length just to give you an idea where he's coming from. In addition to being a monomaniac on the subject of "Christian testosterone" (whatever that is, he elaborates by saying "Jesus was studly"), he also considers himself a political commentator, and in fact, he is running for Congress this year in the Ohio 18th. (Even his website is "coachdaveforcongress.com".)
And yesterday he wrote something that really clarified for me the thinking of the Tea Partiers, birthers, Oath Keepers and other whack jobs. Daubenmire writes:
We have a radical Marxist in the White House. We need a radical Christian in "The People's House."
There it is -- simplicity itself. Because this man (and, no doubt, the many thousands of his ilk) believes that the President is a "radical Marxist," they seek to balance his supposed pernicious influence by being radical conservatives. Whatever their belief is based on -- probably just the endless repetitions of this phrase by right-wing radio and TV commentators -- it justifies their own radicalism. It's a perfect, self-reinforcing system.
Daubenmire goes on to offer himself as a party leader -- the Tea Party, that is, not understanding that the Tea Party is not an actual political party. "I want to lead a movement," he says, saying his comrades need "someone who will grab a flag and run up the hill... 'Come on boys; let's go take our country back.' I'll build a team, lead a charge, and build their courage."
Then, toward the bottom of the essay, in his impatience to get the show on the road, he urges (emphasis mine):
Make a pick, take a stand, and put all of that energy behind one candidate. This is war. Stop worrying about hurt feelings. Pick a horse and let the internet do its job.
Let the internet do its job! What a strange thing to say.
But we needn't treat this fellow Daubenmire as being off the scale, just because he is clearly a whack job. Today Newt Gingrich, who threatens to run for President every four years and probably will this time around, said that Obama is "the most radical President in American history" who runs "a machine... a secular, socialist machine."
Gingrich, of course, is just jealous. He wishes he were at the controls of such a machine, not Obama; he would do things just as radical, if not more, but call his actions Main Street American values. Because anyone who doesn't agree with right-wingers, even the most radical ones, even the ones like Daubenmire who admit they are radical, is of course "radical."
Here's the thing. At least Daubenmire believes what he says; clearly, he is a true believer who jaws with a supporter if asked to take off his "cross hat." Gingrich is nothing more than a cynical, well-connected politician trying to make a comeback; he'll say anything. He's like Bush with brains; he doesn't need a Cheney, he only needs Addingtons and Yoos. So he mouths the right-wing verbiage of the season: no more "family values," now we're fomenting against "socialism" and "radicals."
And no, I wouldn't prefer Gingrich to Daubenmire, nor "Coach" to Newt. Both are abhorrent.
The new New Yorker has a review of a book titled "Memoir, a History," in which author Ben Yagoda looks at the history of memoirs starting with St. Augustine and coming down to our present era, in which a a desperate search by readers and the entertainment industry for authenticity and stories of redemption and triumph led to a spate of faked memoirs. (A couple years ago the NYT took notice of this phenomenon.) The writer of the review, Daniel Mendelsohn, names most of the recent flaming scandals except for the J.T. LeRoy hoax, but the LeRoy books weren't actually supposed to be memoirs. That particular flim-flam was more elaborate than a single (or series of) fabricated memoir.
For several years I've taken great pleasure in blogging about these cases, collected on my blog with the labels hoaxes and fakes (applied somewhat inconsistently, but do I look like a librarian?).
This article on Streetsblog, a progressive pro-bicycle and transit website, is fascinating. The lengthy piece, worth reading in its entirety, explains how Streetsblog staff uncovered the identity of a hyperactive negative commenter with his own website, Commuter Outrage. Evidently the man behind Commuter Outrage, a twenty-something conservative who works in a civilian job at the Pentagon, was digging up material for his screeds during work hours using his employer's (and the government's) resources, and Streetsblog's questions about these practices quickly led the secretive fellow to disappear the entire Commuter Outrage website.
Instructive were the easy-to-understand steps taken by Streetsblog staff to uncover the man's identity, along with evidence that suggested he was blogging on his employer's time. Also interesting was the fact that the attacks by Commuter Outrage and its putative staff (really just this one fellow, apparently) were not some right-wing conspiracy, but just some really energetic (if error-prone) work by one angry little man. It's amazing how much one angry, energetic little guy can do on the internet.
After some stranger followed my Twitter feed, I was led to this bizarre video in which the woman -- judging from the feed she works in promotions for some booze company -- is tutored by some aggressive British gent in the basics of enjoying some super-expensive whiskey. The British gent is so noisy, so controlling, so in-her-face that it's almost like watching a D&S scene. The woman's "What have I got myself into?" expression as the scene goes on and on is priceless.
"Ultramarathon" runners -- those who take part in races of 50, 100 or even more miles -- tend to suffer from problems with toenails. So some of them have toenails permanently removed through surgery, a process that includes "pouring acid onto the nailbed" to prevent regrowth. Runners interviewed for the NYT story say things like "toenails are dead weight;" one who had all his toenails removed said "it's one less thing to have to deal with" on races upwards of 100 miles.
The piece is a little contradictory about whether runners who have undergone the procedure -- an estimated five to ten percent of "ultrarunners" -- feel like publicizing the fact. Some of them are "tired of being freaks, and they don't want to add anything more freakish to their résumé." Others sport t-shirts reading "Toenails are for Sissies" -- a clue to the mentality of the sport.
The most reasonable comment is from one doctor who says, "You know any sport has gone off the rails when you have to remove body parts to do it."
Just to be clear what we're talking about, here is the photograph showing an interior view of the transformed second house:
That the person in question was a celebrity author, Douglas Coupland (among other things, he is credited with creating the phrase "Generation X") adds to the cachet of the project and makes it seem like an acceptable thing for a liberal to do. To clarify his intentions, here's his description of the house in question:
"It was just a mess," he said. "There was dog effluvia, nicotine dripping down the walls, water damage...."
Nicotine "dripping down the walls"? Man, your neighbors were real trash, weren't they? You sure did the world a favor by taking their house and turning it into some kind of overblown cartoon of 20th century architectural flavors rather than, say, creating a home for for a family (or, given the apparent size of the mansion, several families). But if people lived in it, they might smoke, or have pets, or disturb the "art" that Coupland has put up, or worst of all, interrupt what he has apparently been doing ever since being the renovation, and which he must be doing over and over and over again while reading this New York Times piece and viewing its slideshow of images, namely, masturbating.
Focus on the Fundies: They'll pay you to save money?
Another update on the strange Pentecostal minister who, in my last mention, begged for money so he could work on his book without having to actually work. This guy has a few obsessions, and money is definitely one of them -- I guess having several kids and no job has something to do with it.
One of his so-called income streams is from an Amway-like business with the unfortunate name of Melaleuca. In a recent post he and his wife agonize over why someone "declined to participate" in the pyramid scheme-like business:
I wonder if we communicated what we were really trying to say well enough. Did this person really understand that they will not be paying any more money than they already do now and that they will be getting much better products? It's really strange. And, we offered to write them a check to pay for a bunch of their groceries this month. What did we miss here? I can't think how it makes sense to NOT enroll. They actually lost money by declining. Plus, it would have been great way to support our ministry. Hmmmm...
OK, here's a clue: Some people don't want to "participate" or "enroll" -- you have to fill out a form just to shop with the company, much less become a marketer -- just to shop for household items. They just want to buy the stuff. It's too much trouble.
Even if (and I'll take your word for it) it saves them money? Well, maybe they don't want other people to be privy to their household purchases. Maybe they'd like their grocery shopping to be separate from "supporting your ministry;" assuming they want to do so, they'll get a tax deduction for just writing you a check instead. And offering what seems like a bribe to get them to "participate" makes it even creepier, even as it provides another example of how this guy's "ministry" is practically inextricable from his focus on lucre.
As for whether or not the Melaleuca business itself is on the up-and-up, I can only point out that the phrase "Melaleuca scam" gets over 75,000 results on Google, including several videos. I think if someone has taken the time to actually make a video about what a scam something is, that might be a bit of a red flag.
Haggard, pronounced "one hundred percent heterosexual" after his three-week rehabilitation experience following his 2006 implosion, says "he never claimed to be heterosexual, as was once reported, and he continues to struggle with same-sex attraction. But he's committed to living a heterosexual life because he believes it's better for children to be raised by a mother and a father."
Haggard's wife says she stayed with him to restore honor to the family, in some mixed-up way.
Haggard now works selling insurance -- not so far from being a salvation-selling preacher -- but has not yet been successful at it and says, "Right now, I am a loser."
He sure comes off that way. Welcome to the real world, Ted! Maybe that other foamer will have to get a job, too.
WEYRICH: Here is the real problem. It has been known for many years that Congressman Foley was a homosexual. Homosexuals tend to be preoccupied with sex. The idea that he should be continued -- or should have been continued as chairman of the Committee on Missing and Exploited Children is, you know, given their knowledge of that, is just outrageous.
NPR host Nichelle NORRIS: Now before we go on, I think I can say, Mr. Weyrich, that there are quite a few people who would take exception to the statement that homosexuals are preoccupied with sex.
WEYRICH: Well, I don't care whether they take exception to it. It happens to be true. I mean --
NORRIS: That is your opinion.
WEYRICH: Well, it's not my opinion. It's the opinion of many psychologists and psychiatrists who have to deal with them.
Over the years, along with the rest of the country, I've marveled over the tendency of celebrities to fuck around. When their miserable attempts at having a secret sex life were revealed, I wrote about Bill Clinton, Ted Haggard, and others. Now John Edwards joins them.
For some reason, super-strivers have a need to sell what is secretly weakest about themselves, as if they yearn for unmasking. Edwards's decency and concern for the weak in society -- except for his own wife. Bill Clinton's intellect and love of community -- except for his stupidity and destructiveness about Monica. Bush the Younger's jocular, I'm-in-charge self-confidence -- except for turning over his presidency, as no president ever has, to his Veep. Eliot Spitzer's crusade for truth, justice and the American way -- except at home.
This urge, as DowD identifies it, has long been satisfied by famous, powerful men by seeing prostitutes, especially dominatrices. But as Spitzer and the FBI demonstrated, you can't even fuck a prostitute in private these days without getting accidentally caught up in some racketeering investigation.
It's Bad Behavior Tuesday™! -- Into Thin Air edition
A megachurch pastor broke his wrist when he lost control of a motorcycle onstage during a church service, and drove off the stage and into the first row of (vacant) seats. The stunt -- intended to demonstrate "how a rider becomes one with the bike" -- resembles a scene in the Barbra Streisand-Kris Kristofferson version of "A Star is Born," when Kristofferson, playing an out-of-control rock star, does the same thing.
Megachurch pastors... drunken rock stars... Not that much difference these days.
The Tulsa newspaper did not manage to ask Latham the larger questions of whether he is gay or whether he regrets speaking out -- as he reportedly did when a pastor of a large Baptist church in Tulsa -- against gays and gay rights. Or even if he plans to resume his career as a minister.