Thursday, 30 September 2010

Sarah Palin attacks Alan Grayson via twitter and distorts as usual - Controversy highlights radical religious ties of Dan Webster, Grayson's opponent

Sarah Palin today did what she does best: Send out moronic tweets which distort the truth, and which then backfire on her.

In addition, she involuntarily helped to highlight the radical religious connections of Dan Webster, Alan Grayson's Republican opponent in Florida.

This is a case which becomes very interesting, once you look beneath the surface.

Let's take a look at the chronology of what happened:

On September 25, Alan Grayson published a campaign advert in which he accused his opponent Dan Webster of being like the "Taliban" and a "religious fanatic":

In this advert, Dan Webster is repeatedly quoted with a bible verse which says "she should submit to me." The controversy regarding this advert which then followed revolves around the fact that it's doubtful whether the context in which Dan Webster said these words support the claim that he wants wives "to submit" to their husbands. Watch this clip:

While it's unfortunate that the context of these words is ambiguous, Alan Grayson staunchly defends his criticism of Dan Webster's views - and Grayson is fully justified, as we will see later.

It is noteworthy that in the following clip from MSNBC, Alan Grayson is treated by the anchor Contessa Brewer like all politicians and candidates should be treated in media: Being asked highly critical, even aggressive questions, highlighting critical points or statements, so that the audience, the electorate can decide themselves how well the candidate is doing in defending himself and his viewpoint. This should be standard procedure in the media and in the political arena.

However, for reasons which are still hard to understand, Sarah Palin never ever had to endure such treatment by the media. She already struggled hard with the softball questions which Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson asked her, and she would regard this way of being questioned as nothing but an insult. Sarah Palin hides behind twitter and facebook, and only screeches via Fox News, receiving deluxe softball treatment in Murdoch's kingdom.

Here is the interview which Contessa Brewer conducted with Alan Grayson on MSNBC on Tuesday, September 26:

Sarah Palin, who lives in her very small, very narrow-minded world in which MSNBC would count as "extraterrestrial", tweeted out her own version of reality today:

Well, despite her "all of them, any of them" media consumption Sarah Palin failed to spot that the media HAD indeed make a fact check. There was not only the interview on MSNBC on September 28, but already on September 25, PolitiFact checked Alan Grayson's advert. CNN also conducted a fact check of Alan Grayson's advert today before Sarah Palin tweeted, and Anderson Cooper immediately tweeted back at Sarah Palin and told her that this was the case.

Although PolitiFact concluded that Dan Webster's statement was taken out of context, the researchers at PolitiFact took their job seriously and reported some very inconvenient facts about Alan Grayson's opponent:

Grayson spokesman Sam Drzymala said the audio and video of Webster come from a speech he made for the Institute in Basic Life Principles, which Drzymala described as a "right-wing cult."

The Institute in Basic Life Principles describes itself as a Christian teaching organization that provides training and instruction on how to find success by following God’s principles found in Scripture. Some of its specific teachings are controversial. Among them, the Institute teaches that a mother violates Scripture when she works outside the home, that married couples are to abstain from sex 40 days after the birth of a son, 80 days after the birth of a daughter and the evening prior to worship, and that people should avoid rock and even contemporary Christian music because it can be addictive.

Webster has been involved with the group for nearly 30 years and continues to participate in training and also speaks at seminars.

In a 2003 interview with the St. Petersburg Times, Webster said he home-schooled his six children on Institute curricula and said the group's teachings have had a major influence on his life.

One of those Institute beliefs describes the complementary roles of a husband and wife. "The man provides servant leadership and the woman responds with reverent submission and assistance," according to the group's website, which goes on to quote Ephesians 5:22–33 -- Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. . . . Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it . . . . Let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

According to the Institute, a wife is never supposed to "take over," writing that "in response to pressures within the family or within a marital relationship, a foolish wife will take matters into her own hands." A wife also is to "stay beautiful for her husband."

"Resistance or indifference to your husband’s need for physical intimacy is the unspoken crushing of his spirit," the Institute says on its website. In other places on the website, the Institute talks about a wife's need to submit to a husband's spiritual leadership.

In his 2003 interview with the Times, Webster declined to discuss specific teachings and whether he disagreed with any of them.

"I believe what I believe," he said in the 2003 interview. "It has not affected the way I've served. I don't think anyone can tell you that I've forced my beliefs on anyone else."

Jed Lewison comments on the Daily Kos regarding this assessment by Politifact:

"Let me just say this: when those who are defending you nonetheless include a detailed accounting of your 30-year membership in a cultish group of religious extremists with radical views on the relationship between men and women, then you are way, way outside the mainstream."

To clarify:

The speech by Dan Webster from the clip which appeared in Grayson's advert was held at a conference of the so called "Advanced Training Institute International" in 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. This Institute was founded by the "Institute for Basic Life Principles."

Institute - Help your Husband - screenshot

Institute - Help your Husband - screenshot 2

Institute - Help your Husband - screenshot 3

The founder of the "Institute of Basic Life Principles", the organization Dan Websters has been involved with for more than 30 years and for which he conducted for example the speech in 2009, is a man called Bill Gothard.

Dan Webster is undoubtedly a faithful follower of Bill Gothard, as for example the Gainesville Sun reported in August 1996:

Gainesville Sun - August 1996

Gainesville Sun - August 1996 - 2

"Gothard's philosophy is that people should recognize the difficulties of life as part of God's plan and use them for their spiritual benefit. His opening lecture on self-acceptance closes with a prayer to "give God a vote of confidence for how he has made us so far." Next comes family life. Children must be totally obedient. A religious teenager, for example, should not attend a church college if atheistic parents order him not to. As for a man's wife, she "has to realize that God accomplishes his ultimate will through the decisions of the husband, even when the husband is wrong." Citing I Thessalonians 5:18 ("In every thing give thanks"), Gothard even advises a wife whose husband chastises her to say, "God, thank you for this beating." And Gothard adds to Christ's words from the cross: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. But you know what you are doing through them to build character in me."

Besides following the chain of command in the family, Christians should also be obedient to their employers and their government, Gothard asserts. Only if an order from a parent, the state or a boss conflicts with God's explicit commandments may it be disobeyed. But first the Christian is supposed to follow six complex steps, beginning with an examination of his own bad attitudes.

On the side, Gothard dispenses assorted fundamentalist opinions. He favors fasting, tithing and Bible memorization, while opposing liberal Bible criticism, much of higher education, highly rhythmic music, working wives, explicit sex education and any sexual arousal before marriage. As for homosexuality, Gothard says that when it is made "a normal way of life, then it's all over for a society, and we are right at that point."

Since Gothard's impact is just starting to be felt in liberal churches, most criticisms till now have been raised by Evangelicals. Wheaton Bible Professor Alan Johnson protests that Gothard's docile acceptance of life "takes the sting out of evil and even transforms it into a good." Johnson's colleague Gordon Fee thinks that Gothard's approach to Bible interpretation is simpleminded. "You cannot just stamp the 1st century culture onto the 20th century and say it is the divine order," says Fee."

Our friend Leah Burton from "God's own party?" published in a new post a disturbing first-hand account of Bill Gothard's organization:

Vyckie Garrison was involved with Webster ally, Bill Gothard’s teachings for 14 years; after following the fundamentalist teachings of the ‘Quiverfull’ movement, Garrison was subjected to mental abuse and told to ignore medical advice not to have more children because her job as a woman was to obey God by submitting to her husband – an act that allegedly afforded her physical and spiritual protection.
“On the surface, Bill Gothard’s wholesome message seems to promote happy family life, but in actual practice, the lifestyle perpetuates heavy burdens and unrealistic standards for women.
“Gothard’s teachings stress that safe and proper, ‘godly’ living comes from submission to authority. A woman must submit to any and all whims of her husband, including all types of domestic abuse,” said Garrison. “Anyone concerned about women’s equality and empowerment should be alarmed by this religious movement.”
According to Bill Gothard, a man’s wife “has to realize that God accomplishes his ultimate will through the decisions of the husband, even when the husband is wrong.” Citing I Thessalonians 5:18 (“In every thing give thanks”), Gothard even advises a wife whose husband chastises her to say, “God, thank you for this beating.” And Gothard adds to Christ’s words from the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. But you know what you are doing through them to build character in me.”

In conclusion, there can be hardly any doubt that Dan Webster is extremely closely connected with an organization which teaches exactly what Alan Grayson claims to be the case in the advert. Even if the particular quote might be taken out of context, which I am personally not fully convinced of as we have access only to a very small portion of the speech, Dan Webster has worked for a radical religious organization for more than 30 years which demands the full submission of a wife under her husband. In addition, Bill Gothard's group doesn't even try to hide their views, but openly displays them.

Therefore I side with Alan Grayson 100% on this issue. He has picked the right subject, made the right accusations, just picked an unfortunate excerpt of the speech.

By the way, it didn't take too long to conduct all this research, and I am not even working for MSNBC. Why cannot highly paid anchors like Contessa Brewer do their homework as well, instead of giving the impression that Alan Grayson is a liar, when in fact he was right on target?

Leah Burton emphasizes an additional problem in this case, and I wished that more journalists would take note:

"But here is the problem…most Americans have NO idea how extreme these Christian zealots are!"

Apparently, some journalists have no idea as well, which is sad. It doesn't take a lot of time to research the facts.

I like Alan Grayson and his combative approach a lot. This example shows again that it's necessary to aggressively unmask these religious fundamentalists if they seek higher political office. It also shows that the accusations are more than justified.

Somebody like Sarah Palin would never be able to understand that, as she couldn't think her way out of a box, and Alan Grayson made an additional observation:

Grayson tweets - attention span

In an email and a facebook post to his supporters, Alan Grayson has more to say about Sarah Palin:

"Yesterday, Sarah Palin once again engaged in her chosen form of mortal combat - the tweet - by attacking me, and endeavoring to promote my Republican opponent, Daniel Webster, to Palin's zombie horde."

Her chosen form of mortal combat, indeed. Not giving interviews like real politicians do, because Sarah Palin is a coward and hides behind twitter and facebook.

I wished that the USA had more Democratic politicians like Alan Grayson. Sharp attacks and rebuttals is the only language these right-wing radicals, who have no hesitation to dish out themselves, understand.

Neville Chamberlain already had to learn the hard way long ago that appeasement doesn't work when you deal with political fanatics.

This shall be our lesson for today. ;-)


As a bonus, I would like to present Joe Miller's tweets from today, which he apparently wrote in a state of hubris and then later tweeleted, obviously after he regained his sanity (for how long?). Wingnuts like Joe Miller can often be annoying and disturbing, but they surely provide a lot of quality entertainment. Screenshots of the tweets have survived:

Arrogant tweets

(Original source of the screenshot: Unofficial "WriteInLisa" twitter)

Mr Miller goes to Washington - and tweets garbage.

Maybe he should employ somebody to manage his tweets, but this concept is not fault proof as well, as the Quitter Queen shows us on a daily basis.



We shouldn't forget to have some fun as well! This new clip by Jimmy Kimmel is hilarious and spot-on:


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