My Sojourn in Gilead

I read “The Handmaid’s Tale” decades ago, but as many have noted when discussing the upcoming release of the Hulu miniseries, its theme is more relevant than ever. That’s because a beady-eyed Christo-fascist gender role-absolutist who thinks women should be compelled to hold funerals for miscarriages is one bloated, erratic, 70-year-old junk food junkie’s heartbeat away from the presidency.

In Atwood’s dystopian novel, the Christo-fascist nation that replaces the United States is called the Republic of Gilead. Oddly enough, I have some experience dwelling in a place called Gilead.

My mom was a hippie in the 1970s and an indulgent single mom with a laissez faire parenting style. But she had no qualms about foisting my sister and me off on her fundamentalist Christian parents during the summer so she could enjoy some free time.

I don’t blame her, but the abrupt imposition of rules and structure gave my sister and me whiplash every year. Never more so than when our grandparents began shipping us off to a summer camp run by Bible-believing Christians. The name of the camp was, I shit you not, Camp Gilead.

It was a regular summer camp in some ways. There was canoeing and arts and crafts. There were wienie and marshmallow roasts around the campfire. But there was also religious indoctrination. Campers were compelled to attend chapel daily, and girls were required to wear long skirts to the services.

To comply with the rule, I pulled a skirt over my shorts and wore it to chapel with my customary t-shirt, high-top Converse sneakers and a hideous green-and-white striped hat I’d won at the fair by throwing darts at balloons. I also carried a small Swiss Army-style knife at all times in my front pocket — a kid could get away with that sort of thing back then.

During one particularly tedious sermon, I put my feet up on the hymnal rack in front of my hard, wooden pew, partially unlaced my sneakers and practiced tying nautical knots with my shoestrings. I soon got them in a terrible tangle that tied my feet together.

As I struggled to extricate myself, one of the church ladies began playing the hymn that signaled the service was coming to an end, and we were all compelled to rise for the closing prayer. I could stand up, but try as I might, I couldn’t undo the knot in my shoelaces or break them.

Hoping that the supervising adults’ eyes were closed during the prayer, I hiked my skirt up to my waist, dug the knife out of my shorts pocket, bent down and cut my shoelaces. It worked, and I was able to walk out of the chapel in the orderly recessional rather than hopping as if in a sack race.

Weird how reading a review of an upcoming miniseries on a Christo-fascist dystopia can recall childhood memories. Anyone else planning to watch “The Handmaid’s Tale?”



Open Thread: Mike Pence (R-Gilead), Chieftain of the ‘Prayer Warriors’

Today, per the NYTimes, “Pence and Ailing Senator Deliver Votes to Block Family Planning Money“:

Senate Republicans, aided by Vice President Mike Pence and an ailing Georgia colleague who hobbled into the Senate chamber on a walker, voted on Thursday to proceed with a measure to undo an Obama administration rule preventing states from blocking funding for family planning clinics that also provide abortions.

The vote was one of a string of showdowns to reverse Obama-era regulations, but this one unfolded with all the drama of numerous past conflicts over abortion funding — with Mr. Pence casting the deciding vote in his role as president of the Senate.

Taking money away from Planned Parenthood has been a longstanding goal of congressional Republicans, but each effort has been blocked by Democrats and President Barack Obama.

Even full control of Washington by Republicans has not made the process easy…

In case anyone was wondering about the ‘Mike Pence is suuuper weird devoutly religious, you guys!’ articles earlier this week — now you know. The GOP was signalling to its Talibangelical base: Pay no attention the foul-mouthed Commie-loving free-spender in the Oval Office; when push comes to shove, Our Man Mike will cast the deciding vote against slutty women, uppity browns, and every other unsettling social development since 1956.

From the Washington Post, “Karen Pence is the vice president’s ‘prayer warrior,’ gut check and shield“:

Friends and aides… say she is the Pence family “prayer warrior,” a woman so inextricably bound to her husband that even then-candidate Trump understood her importance and consulted her in critical campaign moments…

The Pences were married in a Roman Catholic church in 1985 but later became evangelical Christians.

In 2002, Mike Pence told the Hill that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either.

Supporters and critics alike cite her as a force behind her husband’s socially conservative stances, including his opposition to gay marriage and the religious freedom law he signed as governor of Indiana, which opponents worried would allow business owners to discriminate against gays and lesbians by citing religious concerns.
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Today in Domestic Terrorism: Exceedingly Pale Edition

Oh look, its a fine example of the “Master Race”!

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – A man with connections to a white supremacy group was arrested in Myrtle Beach Wednesday after purchasing a gun from an undercover FBI agent, apparently intending to commit an attack “in the spirit of Dylann Roof.”

Benjamin Thomas Samuel McDowell, 29, from Conway, was arrested at around 5 p.m. Wednesday by the FBI, according to records from the J. Reuben Long Detention Center.

On December 26, 2016, McDowell posted to Facebook a message: “I love love to act what u think,” followed by a link to the Temple Emanu-El Conservative Synagogue in Myrtle Beach, according to court documents. Horry County Police indicated to the FBI that McDowell had established White Supremacy Extremist connections while serving in prison in South Carolina for various criminal offenses. He also had tattoos indicating an affiliation with these groups.

Dylann Roof, also a member of the “Master Race”, was actually referenced in Mr. McDowell’s planning:

According to the federal complaint document, on January 5, 2017, McDowell posted to Facebook an anti-semetic screed referencing Dylann Roof, which included the statement: “they should be Feasting on the enemy that stole their Heritage and their bloodline and trying to run us off of this Earth you can post pictures of f****** Viking and swords all the s*** you want to post if you ain’t got the heart to fight for Yahweh like dylann roof did you need to shut the f*** up…”

Well done FBI.

I’ll leave the penultimate remarks to Congressman Schiff (D-CA):

And, as always, we leave the final say to 18 U.S. Code § 2331

(5)the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—

(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

(B) appear to be intended—

(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.



From the History Archives: When Rudy Met Hillary

So tonight is the annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, one of those anodyne quasi-political events which become news only in years when the politics are particularly inflamed. Since His Eminence Cardinal Timothy Dolan is a notorious trimmer who, some people say, was rewarded by Pope Benedict with the plum NYC residency for hiding Church assets from lawsuits by survivors of clerical abuse, and who has since made a prominent pest of himself encouraging hardcore fellow Talibangelicals to resist civil laws protecting reproductive rights and same-sex marriage, reportorial hopes are high for this year’s event. Per the NYTimes:

On Thursday night, Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump will appear together again for a ritzier gathering, delivering remarks at the white-tie Al Smith charity dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan.

In most presidential campaigns, the dinner, which benefits Roman Catholic charities, functions as a welcome respite, a forum for levity and self-deprecation in the throes of a heated election.

This year’s may be more complicated.

Convened less than 24 hours after the caustic final debate on Wednesday, the event would appear, on paper, to be nothing less than a high-society nightmare for Mr. Trump…

The Clinton campaign has in recent days been forced to navigate its own turmoil after the hacked correspondences of top aides appeared to include messages criticizing Catholic conservatism…

Which reminded me that I wanted to share a remarkable Gail Sheehy article from back in 2000, a Vanity Fair piece on a related NYC event, “When Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani Did Battle for a Senate Seat”:

Tonight is Rudy’s night. It is the annual New York spectacle known as the Inner Circle, where reporters skewer the mayor in cute, amateurish skits, and Hizzoner has the chance for rebuttal with his own skit. Since nobody upstages Rudolph Giuliani, his will be a Broadway-class show, perhaps his final bravura performance before November 2000, when he hopes to be turned out of the mayor’s office by virtue of his election to the United States Senate.

This evening, however, the ravening city media corps is not his chief target. Instead, it is Hillary, formerly Hillary Clinton. The two have been circling each other with the wary menace of prizefighters in the opening round, but it’s been a year now, and still they have not been in the same room. Tonight’s spectacle at the Hilton in midtown Manhattan has drawn an unusually large crowd, 1,300, including poohbahs representing every fissure in New York’s unstable political ground. They are all packed into the grand ballroom, hoping to witness the combatants touch gloves for the first time.
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Late Night Open Thread: “… The Christian Aristocrats!”

As some of us remember all too well, Jerry Falwell Senior made a great profit for himself and his Liberty University project by embracing Ronald Reagan’s most thuggish social policies as the mouthpiece of his very own “Moral Majority“. Now, just as Trump’s campaign has managed to permanently damage the (undeserved) reputations of a number of Reagan-era political holdovers, it looks like he’s going to bang up some of the Religious Reicht’s most valuable second-gen players on his way to flaming out.

From the Washington Post, “Liberty University students protest association with Trump“:

Students at Liberty University have issued a statement against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as young conservatives at colleges across the state reconsider support for his campaign.

A statement issued late Wednesday by the group Liberty United Against Trump strongly rebuked the candidate as well as the school’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr., for defending Trump after he made extremely lewd comments about women in a 2005 video. The students wrote that Falwell’s support for Trump had cast a stain on the school’s reputation.

“We are Liberty students who are disappointed with President Falwell’s endorsement and are tired of being associated with one of the worst presidential candidates in American history,” the statement said. “Donald Trump does not represent our values and we want nothing to do with him. … He has made his name by maligning others and bragging about his sins. Not only is Donald Trump a bad candidate for president, he is actively promoting the very things that we as Christians ought to oppose.”…

Paul Ryan attempted to faith-shame Clinton staffers, got rebuked by actual practicing Catholics:


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Open Thread: Mike Pence, STILL Just As Deplorable

pence-cyborg-ohman

(Jack Ohman via GoComics.com)
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Remember, there’s a theory that Mike Pence accepted Trump’s undercard offer because it seemed like a shortcut to the Oval Office. Even if Trump didn’t suffer some kind of medical incident within six months of taking office, he’d surely be bored enough to let Pence act as a godbothering version of Dick Cheney, right? Some evangelicals even professed to believe that God, or someone in a long relationship with Him, planned to call Donald home once the White House was in the bag. (And it’s not as though Indiana voters wanted to keep Pence in the governor’s seat.) Now we all can hope that Mike Pence will be as thoroughly destroyed by the Trump Reverse-Midas Touch as, say, Billy Bush…



Open Thread: Righteous Anger


(Srsly)

“Issues like my ability to milk the angry rubes who can’t understand why beating up women / people of color / gays / their kids is no longer considered acceptable. C.R.E.A.M. for Jeebus!

Note from a hardcore religious-not-evangelical conservative Republican…


Or at least had the good sense to preserve the hypocrisy of ‘plausible deniability’.