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June 20, 2005


I have to admit that I'm surprised that Fred Phelps took time out of his busy schedule to do this. His particular brand of vitriolic lunacy doesn't spread itself, you know.

[And no, that link probably isn't work-safe. Or human-safe. But it exists, so there you go.]

Phelps and co are freaks.

This is truly tragic though,

A year ago, Carrie French celebrated her high school graduation in Caldwell, ending a busy year marked by cheerleading, dance and time with her friends.

Sunday, Spc. Carrie L. French, 19, was killed in Iraq while serving with the 116th Brigade Combat Team. Army officials said her convoy vehicle hit an IED, or improvised explosive device, near Kirkuk, Iraq.

This the same Fred Phelps that goes to the funerals of dead gays and says essentially the same thing? Well, then, we seem to have come full circle, haven't we?

Fred Phelps is insane. I do not say this lightly, as one may toss off "oh, he's nuts": I really believe it's true. His lunacy is not in any way typical of your average right-wing homophobia, mild, moderate, or even vicious: he's insane.

Commentary found on livejournal:

For no reason that makes sense to anybody other than himself, Phelps is about to disrupt the funerals of American soldiers who were killed in action. I sure hope the people of Boise are preparing a traditional Phelps welcome for him. In the meantime, I think this puts his past career, and the history of right-wing evangelical homophobia in general, in an interesting light:

What this really shows is that all of this crap with the AIDS victims and Matthew Shepard and so on was never really about *us.* Phelps is, for some reason, completely stuffed full of hatred for everyone except for himself, his 'church' (which is mostly his family, who must all be sadly warped by all this), and his projection of God--who is, like many versions of God, as bitter, hateful, vicious, and insane as Phelps himself--and he is driven to put that hatred on display in the most painful and inappropriate ways he can dream up. He has always seemed to take pleasure in hurting people, especially people who are grieving, and in abusing people at a time when they are hurting so badly already that almost anyone else in the country would feel bound to show compassion.

This latest phase provides support for something I had always suspected: that Phelps's apparent hatred of gay people was, fundamentally, opportunism. Consciously or not, he identified the one form of bigotry that is still socially acceptable (not the only one that still exists, but the only one that a politician can still profess openly and lustily without fear of electoral consequences) and used it as his primary outlet for whatever unfathomable rage at humanity is driving him. He hated gay people, as opposed to anyone else, because that would give him a license to publicly inflict pain on other people under the guise of political protest. Because homophobia is still considered an ideological/political/moral stance, rather than just plain ol' hatefulness, Phelps was able to act out his depraved fantasies and have people treat it as political speech. cite

Maybe he's hoping for martyrdom. Well, maybe God will provide.

Yes, maybe the guy's insane, but what about his cheerful, smiling followers? What on earth is going through their heads?

I kept clicking through the links, hoping to find some rationale that would make any sense. Was Cpl. French gay? Not noticably. Was it because she was a women? Not according to the signs. No, her funeral was simply a very public occasion for these vicious people to exploit. Hateful, hateful, hateful.

Wait, she wasn't gay? I assumed that this was Phelps' usual insanity -- he has something separate against soldiers generally? What an incredible lunatic.

Read the posters, LB: Thank God For IEDs and Thank God for 9/11 aren't generally anti-gay sentiments. Although it's possible Phelps is representing that those things are God punishing us for tolerating homosexuality.

I glanced at the posters, but I assumed that they were tied into the gay thing somehow, "God punishing us for tolerating homosexuality", or thanking God for the IEDs particularly insofar as they kill gay people. I have a tendency to avert my eyes from Phelps and his ilk insofar as it's possible.

I think, from what I can piece together, that Phelps' protest had something to do with a line of thought that goes "the US has gay people in it and since we aren't actually just killing all gay people in the streets then we are a nation of sin and are getting what's coming to us. Further, anyone in the armed services is therefore a minion of evil since they are working to protect the US in some way."

At least that's as warped as I can come up with.

AH, Slarti, you beat me to it. Here's a wikipedia article on Phelps, for those who want to find out about him without going to his hateful (literally and figuratively) site. From the article:

"After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Phelps' group went to New York City to protest the rescue efforts going on there, mocking victims as they were taken from the rubble, shouting obscenities at rescue workers, and demanding that those still alive be left to die. Phelps reasoned that God had caused the terrorist attacks as a punishment for tolerance of homosexuality, and that it was God's will that those who suffered in the attacks should die. Signs carried at the Ground Zero site included, "THANK GOD FOR SEPT. 11", "FDNY SIN (with a picture of stick-figures engaged in anal sex)", "NYPD FAGS (with a picture of stick-figures engaged in anal sex)", "YOUR PENTAGON IS SQUARE", and "TOWERS CRASH, GOD LAUGHS".

At the same time, Phelps also wrote several songs about the incident and recorded them with the Westboro Baptist Church Choir. The two most notable songs (which Phelps published on his own record label, named for the church) were "God Hates America" and "America the Burning," which are both sung as hymns mocking the dead and thanking God for killing WBC's enemies. The third song, "I Like to Watch," was told from the point of view of someone masturbating to footage of the WTC collapsing; the lyrics implied that the narrator is either a gay man or God Himself. The song quickly popped up on Ogrish.com as part of their series on the terrorist attacks; shortly thereafter, the song was yanked from WBC's homepage and has never been re-posted or referred to again."

In addition to thinking that God caused 9/11 and is killing our soldiers in Iraq because of 'tolerance' for gays, Phelps also thinks that the US is under God's curse for having raided his church in 1993. (I first heard of him when he declared that God had sent the Tsunami to kill Swedes on vacation. He has also proposed a ''God hates Swedes' monument. God just hates an awful lot of people, and doesn't mind killing a whole lot of Indonesians and Sri Lankans to get to them, I guess.)

But there is, actually, a bright side to all this. Look at the first of Slarti's links, and scroll down a bit until you get to a picture of a whole bunch of white cars. Those are police, protecting Phelps' safety. Scroll down to the next picture, of a fire truck. That's what people coming in to the funeral saw: the fire truck just happened to park in such a way that it blocked the mourners' view of the protesters. Scroll down to the bottom of the post (not the bottom of the whole thread, which has many comments), and you get this comment, from the self-described 'South Park Republican' who writes the blog:

"I got to thinking about what kind of country allows people like this to flaunt their unpopular opinions while being protected by the police. The answer, I decided, is only a country that is strong in our democratic beliefs and sense of our own destiny would continue to allow this. Here, at a funeral honoring a hero who had given her life so that people halfway around the world could be free, we saw those charged with protecting the weakest of us, the police, firefighters, and Soldiers, protecting people dedicated to tearing down everything they hold dear. And these people had the strength of character to ignore the asshats trying to ruin this solemn occasion, and concentrate instead on the good of this country: the part of the country that produces heroes like CPL Carrie French. "

And, I would add: the police were protecting people who picketed the police at Ground Zero in a completely grotesque and indefensible way. I love a country that does this: that has the strength of character to defend people's rights, even when those people are completely beyond any known pale, and to count on us to reject everything they have to say.

And it's working. If you look at the pictures of the protesters, there aren't very many of them. There were also counterprotesters, like Bubblehead, who did not do a real protest because the family didn't want one, but who were there to lend support. There are groups who protest them wherever they go (and here's my only ink to their site: their schedule of upcoming events. They'll be in New York starting on the 24th, for around two weeks.) And there are also some great humorous sites, by groups that hold their own counterprotests. Phelps' site is called godhatesfags dot com; here are God Hates Figs, God Hates Globes, and God Hates Shrimp (not as funny as the other two.). God Hates Globes runs protests that tend, oddly enough, to coincide with Phelps'. A press release from their site:

"Monday April 26th,

God Hates Globes will be doing a demonstration outside of the DULUTH MN city hall at 7:00 AM. The sinful "round earth" polluted city of Duluth has placed the 10 commandments outside of a government building. How can the city adhere to the gospel while preaching Satan's lie of a round earth?

Therefore GHG will be placing a plaque next to the 10 Commandments. It will feature Galileo and have the date this Son of Satan entered hell. Along with his photo will be God's warning of the ever damning round earth theory.

It just so happened that the Reverend Fred Phelps of www.godhatesfags.com has decided to ride on our coat tails once again. This time he will be bringing a plaque dedicated to the death of Mathew Shepard, the openly gay college student who was beaten to death several years ago.

We were once close with our fellow bible literalist group but i feel that it is possible they are a satire page, dedicated to ridiculing our word of God. For shame!

I pray for everyone who saw the film of the "moon landing" and fell into the downward spiral of Globism.

All this gives me a certain amount of hope.

"All this", of course, refers to the response to Phelps, not Phelps himself.

As usual, hilzoy says it better than I couldn't.


Sorry to go off topic, but would like to just place some links, for those of us stuggling to find way to SUPPORT OUR TROOPS. Other than the hard and dangerous placing of yellow stickers on our cars.

How to Support our Military

Helping American children, help Iraqi children

Now that I'm hitched, I have to go see stuff like the recent Star Wars flick. And just after doing so I found, via Gary via Unfogged, a version in which everything makes sense instead of making me say WTF? every minute or so.

This geezer has seen much crazy in his day, and has to say that the Manson Clan was crazier than the Phelps. Can't think of many other. Now the Jim Jones Clan and the crowd who became space aliens through suicide were more tragic, but each may have had a more consistent coherent philosphy. Just to add a note of controversy.

this had me shaking my head slowly, and sighing:

    Could it be possible that among the voices in Staff Sgt. Martinez’ [who killed two of his fellow soldiers] head were those of Amnesty International, Senator Dick Durbin, and all the others who are publicly condemning America’s military by falsely accusing U.S. soliders of crimes against humanity?

    Besides demoralizing our troops with obscene rhetoric and anti-American hate speech, has anyone considered that the inflammatory and dishonest politics of liberal warfare — blaming America for all the world’s problems — might lead to lethal consequences, such as subversives reacting explosively?

so think twice, all you subversives, before you criticize the actions of the military.

"Now that I'm hitched, I have to go see stuff like the recent Star Wars flick."

I could walk you through it. Actually, I'd love a group showing here, with discussion. Save for you guys who don't get it, maybe. But I'm willing to try to help, there, to.

My better half liked #2 better than #3. While I skipped #1 and #2, I was able to follow #3 easily. In large part because knowing the background was apparently not important due to the movie not making any sense. I could charitably imagine that Lucas just didn't have time to fit in the character development required for the plot to make sense, no doubt because he had to shoot endless incomprehensibly cluttered battles to convince his backers to give him the money to make the movie. But still, there was only about one two-minute stretch where I cared what was happening, when Lucas allowed the movie to breathe and the actors not to speak and the music to convey tension through a simple chord. (Oh, and whoever designed the green Corvette that Obi Wan steals and the silvery ship Padme drives should get a McArthur grant. While Portman's helmet-tailor/hairdresser/dressmaker/... should be allowed to go back to being cab drivers or CEOs or whatever they actually are skilled at.) Given the available talent, the movie is in fact tragic.

Via Atrios, one more example or the dangers of leaping to conclusions:

"The left, anti-war types and Democrats, sorry I'm repeating myself, are always telling us how much they support our troops. Eason Jordan's and Linda Foley's unsubstantiated and slanderours claims that our troops target journalists coupled with Durbin's insane rant comparing our troops to Nazis, shows the opposite to be true.

Now from, Bubbleheads, comes this report with photos of the anti-war crowd protesting at a military funeral! This is how far deranged the asshat anti-war movement has become. Check out this photograph of this asshat with a sign that says "Thank God for IED's" and "Thank God for 9/11"."

. . . no doubt because he had to shoot endless incomprehensibly cluttered battles to convince his backers to give him the money to make the movie.

For the record, every Star Wars film since and including The Empire Strikes Back has been paid for entirely by George Lucas from his own pocket. He does not have backers for the films; Fox is paid a distributor's fee by LucasFilm Ltd.

JFTR, I was being sarcastic re the point Phil makes.

Now that I'm hitched, I have to go see stuff like the recent Star Wars flick. And just after doing so I found, via Gary via Unfogged, a version in which everything makes sense instead of making me say WTF? every minute or so.

Rilkefan, congratulations, and many thanks for saving me two hours and eight bucks! (Not that I was going to see it anyway, but now I really, really don't need to see it.)

What a perfectly dreadful thing to do. One can only hope that whatever funding this fellow gets for his pitiful jihad gets cut-off after this episode gets further publicity.

Via Atrios, one more example or the dangers of leaping to conclusions:

Whoops. The merciful thing to do would be to point it out to him.

Oh, I see about 185 people have already done so. Guess that lets me off the hook.

Slarti -- I didn't get as far as the comment thread; just looked at the number and thought: what are the odds that not one of those people was either nice enough or into 'gotchas' enough to give him the news?

Assumptions: dangerous. Hatred: poison.

Slarti -- I didn't get as far as the comment thread; just looked at the number and thought: what are the odds that not one of those people was either nice enough or into 'gotchas' enough to give him the news?

Wow. I've heard of Atriolanches before but this is the first I've seen. Impressive, majestic even, in a trainwreck sort of way.

The silly thing's still up. Either the proprietor doesn't read his own site's comments or he won't correct the post. Maybe his blog should be renamed the USS Nevercheck.

Oh dear, oh dear. You guys made me -- made me, I tell you -- go look at the comments. No. 3 (of the 187 up when I looked, with no retraction yet), told him of his mistake. No. 7 or so:

"Moron. This is why Liberals think they're smarter than conservatives; they are."

(A sentiment I totally disagree with, and reprot here only to give verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. Though it is, alas, true.) No. 10 or so:
"From the Masthead:

I try to go behind the headlines, soundbites, media bias and spin meisters to find the truth.

Heh. Indeed."

(Tee hee. I thought that one was priceless. Really, his friends should have stopped him from putting that on the masthead if he wasn't up to it.) No. 15 or so:

"Shouldn't you be apologizing for him instead of condemning him and tellng us over and over again how he's not as bad as Stalin, as if that's something to be proud of."

That was when I gave up, with only 172 or so to go.

and reprot here only to give verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative

You are the least convincing Poo Bah I've ever seen, hilzoy. Metaphorically speaking, at least.

I, on the other hand, am so proud...

DaveL: "Rilkefan, congratulations, and many thanks for saving me two hours and eight bucks!"

Thanks, and it's more like 2.5 hrs, and we only managed to pay $8/person by catching a matinee. And I don't feel that bad about the experience - I don't think I've ever seen a movie with so many inexplicable directorial decisions before. Oh, and if you have any military background or are a civil war buff or whatever, you'll love the massed marine tank attack by space-capable beings in order to seize a treehouse defended by Bigfoots with spears.

On the subject of passing off craziness as bold policy: the conundrum that is John Bolton.

First, kudos to Steve Clemons, whose tireless work at spreading the word helped enormously to turn Bolton's confirmation as UN Ambassador from slam dunk to smoking heap o'wreckage. It looks like the only way Bolton will make it to the UN as Ambassador is by recess appointment.

But the Bolton issue is one I find mightily perplexing. I could understand why people who support Bush wanted Bolton to be confirmed - when his nomination was first announced. Bolton is a loyal Bush apparatchnik, dating back to his work in thwarting the Florida recount in 2000. He holds the UN in the same contempt as most neo-cons do, always a plus with the Bush crowd. And his feral treatment of those who rank below him won him points among the sorts of people who feel vicariously ennobled and empowered by others' reducing underlings to tears and nervous breakdowns.

So: granted, at first blush Bolton made perfect sense as Bush's skunk at the UN.

But then more stories about Bolton came out. These weren't manly fantasies about how he chased a woman down the hall, or soul-stirring sagas of how he's like to see 10 stories of the UN Building lopped off, or even how he singlehandedly got 60 countries to sign the NPT.

Au contraire!

These stories were about how it wasn't Bolton who got 60 countries to sign on after all, it was someone else who managed the feat only after Bolton stopped working on the NPT. These stories were about how Bolton damn near torpedoed every foreign policy initiative he worked on: the Libyan deal, which was finalized only after Bolton was shut out of the negotiations; the N Korea talks, which went nowhere fast and continue to go nowhere; how Bolton hid information from Powell and Rice, in order to undermine their roles as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State; and how Bolton used NSA intercepts to spy on other Administration officials.

These are stories about how both the NPT talks with Russia and the nuclear development talks with Iran - both stalled, blocked, and ignored by Bolton, for years - show signs of life and progress now that Bolton's no longer around to monkeywrench them.

You would think, at some point along the way, Bolton's supporters would re-evaluate the matter.

Well, they did. Sort of: they decided that the problem with Bolton was...wait for it, wait for it... Democratic obstructionism and partisanship!

Yes, Bolton's supporters got up on their hinds legs and said, essentially: How dare the SFRC and Intelligence Committee act as if the Senate was a co-equal branch of government, and insist the White House turn over documents the Senate had requested! How dare Biden et al. insist on negotiating with the WH, agreeing to fewer documents, redacted documents, just give us some of the documents for god's sake - when they should be pulling their forelocks and saying "How high, Sir?" when Bush says "Jump!"

Not a word, mind you, not one mumblin' word about the propriety, legality, or even efficacy of running a backstairs secret "real" foreign policy that undermines and sabotages "official" foreign policy.

Not a word, mind you, not one mumblin' word about trail of wreckage Bolton left behind him.

Not a word, mind you, not one mumblin' word about how that sabotage, how that trail of wreckage, compromised American defense and security.

Not one word about what happens in the real world when you reduce foreign policy to zero sum gaming and tough guy posturing.

You'd think - with the Iraqi FUBAR staring them in the face every day, with N Korea making nukes and testing delivery systems, with worldwide terrorism hundreds of times worse than it was as a result of Bush's foreign policy - you'd think the Bush Team would spend a little more time pondering what zero sum gaming and tough guy posturing has gotten them. Maybe even wonder if Bolton's really the man they want representing US interests at the UN.

But no. They don't.

They say the only reason anyone opposes Bolton is because of "partisanship."

So I have to wonder: What are they thinking??

Because, see, the neocons are always happy to proclaim themselves as the true rationalists and grown-ups; happy to cast themselves as titans who will wrestle the world to the ground and remake it in their image; happy to deride the rest of us as naifs, Bush-haters, and traitors.

But I cannot for the life of me figure out any rational, grown-up, real world reasons to support John Bolton's nomination to the UN.

Can someone solve this conundrum?

italics begone!


really, this time.

(*so* embarrassing; I swear they were gone in preview!)

I should note that Sebastian did do this rethinking, and if he hadn't earned my respect before, would have earned it then. But I completely agree with you about most of his supporters. -- I mean, it seems to me so clear that when you're thinking about appointing someone to a position, you have to look at it in more depth than: does appointing him send a gratifying f*** you to the rest of the world? Or, translated, is he the kind of tough, take-no-prisoners kind of guy we want to knock some sense into the UN? or whatever. You have to ask: would this person actually be good at this job?

There were all sorts of reasons, even before stuff started coming out, to think: no. I mean, if you just look at this administration's record on non-proliferation, which he was in charge of, it sort of screams 'an idiot was in charge of me!' On any given issue one could say: well, who can negotiate with the North Koreans anyways? It's hard to come to terms with Russia over nukes. And so on, and so forth. But it was just a train of calamities with virtually no bright spots, except for Libya, which had been in the works for a while anyways.

But after everything started to come out -- ??? And why the administration didn't just hand over at least some of what the Senate asked for, I have no idea. (Recall that the request didn't just come from Democrats; it came from Lugar and Biden jointly.) If they wanted him so badly, why on earth not make at least some show of trying?

Very little surprises me about them anymore, but this did. (Not the nomination, nor their attempt to force it down the Senate's throat, but their absolute unwillingness to take the fairly obvious steps needed to get a vote.) I guess they just cannot stand to give an inch, ever.

IIRC, von also rethought supporting Bolton. So that's two :)

But I was referring more to the political/commentary apparatus, and the noisier blogs. I just wonder, how can they possibly not realize how flat-out unqualified he is? Do they ever go outside their echo chamber?

Oh -- I must have forgotten that von had to rethink ;) It just struck me that of all the conservatives I know, Seb was the only one I could think of who actually changed his mind.

On another front, from TPM:

"We'd heard this was coming. Now Copley News Service's Marcus Stern has the goods: "A defense contractor who took a $700,000 loss on the purchase of Rep. Randy Cunningham's Del Mar residence in 2003, and provided a yacht for his use in the nation's capital, forced his employees to make political contributions that benefited the San Diego Republican and other members of Congress, according to three former senior officials of the company.(emphasis added)"

There's also this intriguing nugget: "A third former employee of MZM described being rounded up along with other employees one afternoon in the company's Washington headquarters and told to write a check with the political recipient standing by. The former employee didn't give the name of the politician receiving the donations."

Boy, would it be fun to know who that 'political recipient' was."

And then he notes that the number of possibilities is actually rather small:

"In the 2004 cycle the MZM political action committee gave out $34,000 to House candidates. The totals go like this ...

Cunningham, Randy "Duke" (R-CA) $6,000
Forbes, J Randy (R-VA) $5,000
Goode, Virgil H Jr (R-VA) $10,000
Harris, Katherine (R-FL) $10,000
Hunter, Duncan (R-CA) $1,000
Renzi, Rick (R-AZ) $2,000"

Katherine Harris ... that would be sweet. (I do not, no I do not, get stuck on 2000. But it would be sweet.)

I heard Phelps on the radio last Friday. The man is a deranged dickhead.

Charles: The man is a deranged dickhead.

I agree! ;-D

Didn't von rethink his rethinking? IIRC the last word from von was that Democrats should stop being so obstructionist, even if Bolton isn't the greatest appointee in memory...

Charles Bird and Jesurgislac agree? Is this a sign of the end times?

At Slarti's "open thread" invitation, here is behavior I find baffling:

What People Will Say under Oath

PHILADELPHIA, Miss. Jun 20, 2005 — A former mayor testified Monday for Edgar Ray Killen in the 1964 slayings of three civil rights workers, standing up for the former Ku Klux Klansman and calling the white-supremacist group a "peaceful organization."

Former Mayor Defends Ex-Klansman, KKK, Associated Press

Charles Bird and Jesurgislac agree? Is this a sign of the end times?

Fred Phelps as one of the harbingers of the apocalypse...

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