Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dr. James Dobson Shills for God's Own Party

I’ve been slacking in posting recently although some of this time had me working with the rather long post to follow. Suffering from blog withdrawal symptoms as truly the process of posting is somewhat therapeutic. I’ve been reading and listening and thinking so there is a fair amount of material I'd like to share. We’ll see how much I actually get blogged. Again, regrets on going silent but lots of work about the place has taken much of my time. I'll post this initially on Captain Jimi but may cross post on the other blogs rather than just link.

Just recently the Christian Right’s James Dobson offered “commentary” in CNN that was entitled “Media provides cover for assault on traditional marriage”. I’d have suggested an alternative title might have been “Traditional Marriage Amendment provides cover for failed Republican policies” yet doubt Dr. D would admit or even agree. I regret many of my Evangelical family could get steamed by my confronting Dr. Dobson yet I feel reasonable and rational in doing so. If I earn their wrath or even a simple “Poor baby!” by questioning a dangerous pattern in American politics then I’ll just have to risk.

James Dobson not only twists the facts but I’ll argue he outright lies (either by a sin of commission (on purpose) or by a sin of omission (being willfully ignorant) in his shilling of radical right “thinking”. Twisting or fibbing, he’s simply wrong.

The writing of Dr. Dobson, of “Focus on the Family” and its political arm “Focus on the Family Action”, will follow with my commentary dropped in as appropriate:

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (CNN) -- On June 7, the U.S. Senate voted for a second time on an amendment to define marriage in the U.S. Constitution as being exclusively between one man and one woman.

Again this year, the amendment failed to pass by a wide margin, falling 18 votes shy of a required two-thirds majority. The final tally was 49 in favor, 48 opposed.

Rarely has there been a greater disconnect between members of the Senate and the American people who put them in power. With the help of the media, which laid down "cover" by claiming voters didn't care about marriage, 40 Democrats, one Independent and seven Republicans turned their backs on this most basic social institution.

Let's examine the claim that traditional marriage lacks support in the court of public opinion. As it always does when conservative issues are being debated, the liberal press produced a series of trumped-up polls indicating the issue was of no interest nationally. However, there was another "poll" that the media completely ignored. In fact, there were 19 of them. They represented the 19 states in which voters overwhelmingly defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.

“Trumped up polls” presented by “liberal media”? You write of “disconnect” but do you mean like that evidenced by a majority of Americans wanting to “cut and run” (You love those Rove talking points don’t you Dr. D!) from Iraq only to have the GOP game the debate on Iraq? Of course the Republican Party and Bu$hCo is rather disconnected from even General Casey on Iraq it seems. God’s Own Party is ignoring the polls on Iraq policy, which might be appropriate given the lack of understanding repeatedly demonstrated by our public, yet isn’t the irony rather tasty. The Marriage Amendment was distraction, sort of like bashing the New York Times. It was also pandering to the base, sort of like Terri Schiavo. I’d also add that it was well into the seventies before a majority of Americans believed interracial marriages ought to be legal. Would you deny that relying on polling data can be rather dangerous given this fact?

Not one state has chosen by popular vote to permit marriages between homosexuals. Support for the family has been affirmed in every instance.
“Support for the family” on various state amendments that matters only to fundamentalist is hardly demonstrated. The Christianist church leadership rallies the base to go vote and many folks simply don't give a darn one way or the other. A real vote on simply fairness to individuals might reveal another pattern. Once again, the polls have seemed rather consistent. God’s Own Party has done more damage (rather than support!) to “the family” over these last twenty five years. Working families are increasingly pressured. The Clinton years were at least marginally better, despite Newt and the GOP in control, yet the reality is I’d argue indisputable ... unless you John Stossel the figures.

In Mississippi, traditional marriage was approved by a whopping 86 percent majority. Other state votes registered similar wide margins: Nevada (70 percent), Arkansas (75 percent), Georgia (77 percent), Kentucky (75 percent), Louisiana (78 percent), Nebraska (70 percent), Missouri (71 percent), Montana (66 percent), North Dakota (73 percent), Ohio (62 percent), Michigan (59 percent), Oklahoma (76 percent), Utah (66 percent), Kansas (70 percent) and Texas (75 percent). Even states considered to be more liberal voted for traditional marriage, including Hawaii (69 percent), Alaska (68 percent) and Oregon (57 percent).
Although I’ll cover Alabama’s 81 to 19 percent split in just a bit on Amendment One, the idea that these votes are “polls” is staggering. The Montgomery Advertiser, hardly a bastion of liberalism, simply calls interpretations “highly misleading”.

Indeed, on the day before 48 senators bailed on marriage, a 20th state voted on its own constitutional amendment. It was Alabama, which supported traditional marriage by 81 percent to 19 percent! A search of the database Nexis revealed that not one reference to this dramatic vote in Alabama was published in the print versions of The New York Times or Washington Post. There was virtually no mention of the story in other national newspapers. Yet, each of them devoted considerable coverage to the Senate's defeat of the Marriage Protection Amendment.
Dr. Dobson, I know you aren’t stupid, although your radical religion/politics surely seems odd, so to suggest the NYT or WaPo left this out as some sort of scheme is revealing. The NYT has this article behind the Select service now yet the International Herald Tribune, passing along the reporting of NYT reporter Jim Rutenberg, reveals at least the run up to the issue in Alabama plus other states. You and yours likely consider The Moonie Times as authority and they came through for you with this June 8th article. Holding Alabama up as a measure of the pulse of America is straining. Everybody knew that down here in the Bible Belt this thing would pass. We barely passed an amendment blessing interracial marriages and failed to pass one clarifying that segregated schools aren’t kosher yet we’ll surely not have boys marrying boys.

CNN and the mainstream televised news networks uttered hardly a peep about the Alabama decision. Why was the issue buried? Because the "poll" in Alabama and 19 other states didn't match the template put forward by those who wanted the amendment to be crushed. Their bias against the family is breathtaking.
“Breathtaking” and “bias” and “buried” and … Since McCain, Giuliani, and Gingrich have had so many different families perhaps they can do something about “the bias against the family”? Your boy Ryan is on #2 I think as well. At least he learned tolerance, or rather the lack of it, from you.

As for the senators who voted against the amendment, the excuses they gave were pitiful. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-Rhode Island, Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minnesota, Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, Sen. Judd Gregg, R-New Hampshire, and many others thought they had the perfect alibi. They claimed that the issue should be handled at the state level. What hypocrisy!
“Hypocrisy” and “pitiful”? CBS reports, “Forty-five of the 50 states have acted to define traditional marriage in ways that would ban same-sex marriage _ 19 with constitutional amendments and 26 with statutes.” They also cite a recent ABC poll revealing that barely 40% of Americans favor a Constitutional Amendment on this “issue”. With these facts, which are indeed “stubborn things” per Reagan, the folks voting for including discrimination in the U.S. Constitution are the ones needing the alibi!

All of these senators are smart enough to know that, first, it would create utter chaos to have 50 different definitions of marriage in one country, where every state is required by the Constitution to support the laws of the other 49. Come on, Senator McCain and company. You and your colleagues know better than that.
Comity is beautiful concept Dr. D but I’ll not bother explaining. Historically states have always made the call for marital ages of consent, divorce laws, etc. and things seem to be working. Hell, even your fellow travelers at Faux News share a recent poll (5th page and a PDF warning!) with 48% of Americans thinking marriage ought to be a state matter. Only 38% (with just 45% of Republicans taking an affirmative position!) think it is appropriate for the federal government to be involved. By the way, the “Red States” seem to have lots more divorces than the “Blue States”.

Second, senators wanting the states to define marriage are fully aware that the people will not be permitted to make their own decisions. Arrogant activist judges, most of them appointed by President Bill Clinton or President Jimmy Carter, will simply overturn the will of the electorate.
“Arrogant activist judges”? If “arrogant” is following the law, or attempting to do the best they can with often rather complex legal issues, maybe that works yet you are simply being Karl Rove’s mouthpiece here Dr. Dobson. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling in Goodrich vs. Dept. of Public Health (2003), which is likely the case you have the biggest beef with, was a 4-3 opinion written by Margaret Marshall. Justice Marshall was appointed to the court and then named as Chief Justice by two Republican governors. It would appear that all the Justices on this Court were appointed by Republicans save Justice Greaney since Michael Dukakis was the last Democrat serving as Executive way back in 1991. This is a STATE court interpreting their Massachusetts Constitution. Additionally, if you assume half of Americans are opposed to same sex marriages and also that only perhaps 5% of Americans are homosexual then perhaps you’d see why the courts have to get involved. Politicians like to dodge the tough stuff often. Courts unfortuantely have to act on matters that elected officials fail to address.

It has already happened in Nebraska, Georgia and Louisiana. Furthermore, nearly 20 cases in 10 states are currently pending that challenge the traditional definition of marriage. For example, a federal judge in Washington state is considering a challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act. And finally, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority in Lawrence v. Texas, made it clear that he and his colleagues are likely to redefine marriage when given an opportunity.
I’m glad you know about DOMA. It seems like plenty in DC think that the feds do have a role in marriage after all. I’m confused about your trashing those Senators that didn’t want to write discrimination into the U.S. Constitution. Why do you/we need a Constitutional Amendment with DOMA already federal law? I know it is likely bad law but it has stood for many years now. Justice Kennedy, via Lawrence vs. Texas, is going to redefine marriage? Huh? The issues in Lawrence are indeed complicated and his rationale did deviate at least partially from the line of cases flowing from Bowers. Still, “that dog won’t hunt” Dr. Dobson. By the way, Justice Kennedy was nominated by Ronald Reagan.

As for "It has already happened in Nebraska, Georgia and Louisiana," I’m not sure what “it” is. In that you likely are talking about “liberal activist judges” striking down bans on same sex marriages, indeed U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon of Nebraska was appointed by Slick Willy. This case was appealed to the Circuit Court with no opinion issued as best as I can tell from a quick search. On appeal means “it doesn’t count yet” Dr. Dobson.

As for Georgia, this is STATE court with DINO Zell Miller, a crazy and lying son of bitch indeed that you Republicans are welcome to have, appointing the perpetrator, who ruled merely on a technical problem with how the state’s Amendment was presented. Again, this case, like the last, is on appeal. The Court had even agreed to rule in an expedited fashion so Governor Sonny Purdue can call an expensive special session (before the November election!) to solve this pressing issue should the court rule against the State. Yesterday, Georgia's Supreme Court reversed the trial judge and found the narrow "single issue" is not fatal to the Amendment. New York's Supreme Court also issued an opinion that I think you'd also approve.

In Louisiana, another STATE court, the opinion was authored by an elected Republican judge. The law that District Judge William Morvant found bothersome, merely in the fact that is was viewed as violating the “single subject” requirement, as was the ruling in Georgia, has been found acceptable by the Louisiana Supreme Court. I’m not sure why you would cite a case that is reversed as authority for your CNN piece.

What I’d really like to know if why in the hell you, with a massive budget at Focus on the Family and related efforts with Lord knows how many acolytes bouncing around, can’t do some basic fact checking before you shovel this stuff? You took in $140 million last year James! You can afford to be at least relatively accurate. You were blaming Clinton and Carter yet only one case you cited involved either. And that case is on appeal! Liar? Sloppy? Does it even matter?

The senators who voted against marriage this month knew exactly what they were doing. The truth is they don't give a hoot about the traditional family. The majority of them have voted repeatedly to weaken or undermine this great institution. Check the record.

Most of them consistently supported the marriage penalty tax, which for 32 years (1969 to 2001) imposed a heavier financial burden on moms and dads struggling to feed and nurture their children. Liberal senators are still trying to re-impose that outrageous surcharge even today.

What "Marriage Penalty" tax? Years old false argument that you are still shilling for God's Own Party! Struggling moms and dads might benefit from a more family friendly fiscal policy than your GOP buddies have handed us. I'd love a comparison of real "liberals" love for the average American with "conservatives" love for big business and the investor class. He's gone now (the good do die young it seems) yet Paul Wellstone was certainly a liberal. Here was his suggestion on the "marriage penalty" yet the GOP dared not mess with the Big Mules corporate welfare. I long to see you and your wing nut buddies defend the Bu$hCo approach against a solid proponent of a real family friendly approach that favors the lower and middle class rather than the Big Mules. Citizens for Tax Justice have just released a report that claims 99% of Americans are worse off after the Bu$hCo tax plan than they were before. You wing nuts would wither under facts and common sense. I’d think David Sirota would be a good person to face. Bring all your Reich Wing Taliban and simply face David. David and Goliath(s) Version 2.0? He’d smote you!
So where does the issue go from here? Time will tell. It took William Wilberforce more than 30 years to bring about an end to Britain's slave trade in the 1800s. Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of a protracted victory.
You dare compare sexuality to slavery? Even for a fundamentalist wingnut, like you have often demonstrated yourself to be, this is outrageous! What “the luxury of a protracted victory” means is perhaps beyond me yet the “rapture” is my guess! Most Protestant evangelicals are “pre-millennial dispensationalists”. This means they are figuring Christ will come back with Armageddon soon to follow with a thousand years of peace before the final judgment. Dr. Dobson however seems to be a post-millennial dominionist. Dobson and his merry band of wing nuts apparently think they’ve got to get the thousand years of Christian control before JC will come back. BeliefNet might be a decent starting point to understanding this portion of Christian belief for those that aren’t steeped in the “thinking”.

If the battle to protect marriage takes even five more years, liberal judges and activists will have destroyed this 5,000-year-old institution, which was designed by the Creator, Himself. Even now, they are close to achieving that coveted objective.

It reveals much that you think, or are willing to shill, the idea that "liberal judges" have a coveted objective to destroy marriages. Activists are simply seeking fairness under the law and could even perhaps demonstrate their respect for marriage by seeking that status. I love the five years angle as well. Rally the troops for 2006 and 2008!

Dr. Dobson, your argument on a 5000-year old institution simply doesn’t hold up when compared to history. How many wives did those Old Testament guys have? Mitt Romney might be your boy after all? If you assume the earth is only 6000 years old, like some wingnuts do, I guess I can ask if Adam and Eve were even married? I've read some of the Old Testament and it hardly seemed like a good arrangement, especially for women. I also know women in rather recent often couldn't hold property in their own name. Or vote. Or .... Of course since you and the Southern Baptist favor submissive women, perhaps that doesn't trouble you. In that you hold a doctorate from USC you’d think you were better informed. The work of social historian Stephanie Coontz will hardly set you back a Jackson. Here’s how Publishers Weekly reviewed:

When considered in the light of history, "traditional marriage"—the purportedly time-honored institution some argue is in crisis thanks to rising rates of divorce and out-of-wedlock births, not to mention gay marriage—is not so traditional at all. Indeed, Coontz (The Way We Never Were) argues, marriage has always been in flux, and "almost every marital and sexual arrangement we have seen in recent years, however startling it may appear, has been tried somewhere before." Based on extensive research (hers and others'), Coontz's fascinating study places current concepts of marriage in broad historical context, revealing that there is much more to "I do" than meets the eye. In ancient Rome, no distinction was made between cohabitation and marriage; during the Middle Ages, marriage was regarded less as a bond of love than as a " 'career' decision"; in the Victorian era, the increasingly important idea of true love "undermined the gender hierarchy of the home" (in the past, men—rulers of the household—were encouraged to punish insufficiently obedient wives). Coontz explains marriage as a way of ensuring a domestic labor force, as a political tool and as a flexible reflection of changing social standards and desires. She presents her arguments clearly, offering an excellent balance between the scholarly and the readable in this timely, important book.
Returning to Doctor Dobson's directives to his Christianist Soldiers:

I ask my fellow Americans to note the senators who did and did not defend marriage in its hour of need, and then to "vote their consciences" in 2006 and 2008. If large numbers of them do so, there could be some new faces in the Congress soon.

The angst of voters could also result in the election of a president who will fight for the preservation of the family. That would be sweet, indeed.

Again, preserving the family means so much more than what you are imagining. Preserved families don’t have Mom and Dad sent to fight a war of choice. Thousands of innocent Iraqi families might have also been preserved if another administration had been running the show. Living wages allow parents to have some time for the children. Universal health care seems rather preserving. Clear air and water plus accepting that climate change is reality might be a good move. Deficits have created a burden of at least a hundred grand for each of our families. To have the Big Mules rewarded by Bu$hCo on the backs of families seems undeniable. I do like the fact you realized you got used once again. Thomas Frank argues you guys vote for family values and get tax cuts for the millionaires. Wake up Dr. Dobson and quit helping these crooks! That would be sweet!

I’m going to drop several comments in as well. Revealing indeed the support from Alabama!

Hear! Hear! First smart thing I've read in a very long time. Kathy, Birmingham, Alabama

James Dobson says the country wants marriage between a man and a woman and faults senators for not listening to their districts. But what if it were reverse? What if Americans did want gay marriage allowed? He'd fault the American citizens and be angry at senators for going against "traditional family." Josh, Columbus, Ohio

James Dobson is right on. Even though I live in conservative Oklahoma we do business from coast-to-coast and this is one issue I have found very little disagreement on except from "gay agenda" friends. I wish Washington representatives would truly reflect the majority of their electorate. What a shock and surprise that would be! David McReynolds, Edmond, Oklahoma

The media is not biased against family; it's biased against bigotry and discrimination. As any decent, compassionate person should be. Meriwether Broaddus, Richmond, Virginia

Wow -- Kudos to you for: 1) Publishing the piece and 2) Having the guts to post its link on your home page. Not a CNN fan but I love it when media prints opposing views. It lends credibility to your news organization. Wes Perry, Methuen, Massachusetts

Whose marriage needs protecting from homosexuals? Not mine, certainly. As far as the state is concerned, marriage is a contract. It's not the job of any government official to say whether or not it gets God's stamp of approval. That's for religions to decide, and even Christian churches are not unanimous on the subject. James, Arlington, Virginia

Excellent! One of the best commentaries I have read on the CNN web site. It contains truth, plain truth. The media views its job to promote their agenda. Reporting the news is secondary. Paul, Appleton, Wisconsin

Here's the thing. If you don't want to marry a person of the opposite sex, don't. If you do, you should be allowed to. No it is not the same as dating your sister or a dog. Science has proven that being gay is no different from being blonde. It is pre-determined. Logan, New York, New York

Thanks for speaking the mind of the majority in America. Since when does Congress think our votes won't matter when it comes to marriage? Wake up senators, your days are numbered. Donna, Montgomery, Alabama

In all the arguments regarding gay marriage I have yet to hear how exactly this impacts heterosexual marriage. James Dobson raises the tired old "defense of marriage" cliche but never says how or why it needs defending. Gay marriage actually would strengthen the institution of marriage by making it the vehicle by which all families are structured. Steve Marchillo, Claremont, California

No doubt Kathy makes a fine Alabamian. Very long time indeed I’d expect on the smart reading. David, you Oklahoma folks have elected this fine representative. Heck of a job David! As for Paul, I recall reading, you do know how that works don’t you Paul, about George Wallace being warmly received in Wisconsin. I imagine you are not going to be a Feingold supporter. You really don’t deserve him. I’ll trade you both Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby for Russ. Donna, your Senators from Alabama, not mine mind you as I will claim neither, are on board with the radical right. They’ll support this American Taliban although Jeff has it seems a thing for pretty young gals. I’ve always heard rumors about Senator Shelby’s “appetites” but you can count on them speaking for your stand on “marriage”. Notice also that nearly all the wingnuts above know the GOP "talking points" on "liberal media" and the like. Logan of NYC, "science" isn't exactly authority for the Christianist community so that might not matter. Plus, they've got some "research" arms that will supply them with "science" more to their liking when push comes to shove.

I’ve spent some serious time with James Dobson over this post. He’s due plenty more yet I’ll stop with this. Could very well come back and update or drop in some more links at least. That he reaches such a large audience that swallow pretty much whatever he feeds them makes it necessary to confront his “logic”. Peace … or War!