Skip to main content

Heather Digby Parton at Salon writes The Rise of a Right-wing Quack: Faux Historian David Barton's Shocking New Influence. An excerpt:

 
Back when Glenn Beck was one of the most admired men in America and Fox News’ No. 1 celebrity, he introduced to the nation at large a “historian,” well known among the Christian right, by the name of David Barton, who claims to have documentary evidence that the founders based the Constitution explicitly on the Bible. Beck often referred to a group known as the “black-robed regiment,” which was composed of priests and clergy who were revolutionary sympathizers, comparing today’s conservative preachers to what he implied were clergymen-soldiers in the secular liberal war on the Constitution.

Beck called upon David Barton to head what he called Beck University, an online course for those who wanted to educate themselves in the Beck school of thought. Let’s just say it wasn’t the curriculum you’d find at most schools of higher learning.   (You can hear one of  David Barton’s “lectures” here, where he tells the Beck U students that American exceptionalism springs from its Christian theocratic principles.)

Barton quickly became the toast of Wingnuttia. He was invited to participate in Tea Party events all over the country and even held a constitutional seminar for the 2010 incoming freshman class at the invitation of congresswoman Michele Bachmann.   The New York Times featured him in  a glowing profile that only mentioned in passing that his alleged scholarship was, shall we say, controversial:

[M]any professional historians dismiss Mr. Barton, whose academic degree is in Christian education from Oral Roberts University, as a biased amateur who cherry-picks quotes from history and the Bible.

“The problem with David Barton is that there’s a lot of truth in what he says,” said Derek H. Davis, director of church-state studies at Baylor University, a Baptist institution in Waco, Tex. “But the end product is a lot of distortions, half-truths and twisted history.”

That’s a very generous way of putting it. Unfortunately, his notoriety also brought new scrutiny to his alleged scholarship and that didn’t work out too well as you might imagine. Here’s just one example of his so-called scholarship being debunked by Chris Rodda, the senior researcher for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation,  via Media Matters. She challenged Barton’s insistence that Thomas Jefferson dated his presidential papers with the phrase “in the year of our Lord Christ,” which indicated that the notorious theist was really a super-Christian (what with the added “Christ” and all).

According to Rodda, the truth is quite different: Jefferson took pains to omit “in the year of our Lord” in his documents, instead using phrases like “in the Christian computation,” and “of the Christian epoch.” Further, according to Rodda, the evidence Barton provided of Jefferson purportedly using the phrase is, in fact, a preprinted form that Jefferson had no input into creating.
This is the quality of constitutional scholarship that pervades the conservative movement these days: simple, outright lies that allege that this country was not founded on certain Enlightenment principles and the hard won experience of men and women who were exceedingly familiar with the bloody consequences of church and state being entwined.  It was, in their reckoning, conceived as a straight-up Christian nation, full stop. […]

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2008SCOTUS Overturns Millionaire's Amendment:

Remember the Millionaire's Amendment?  Basically, it says that if a candidate self-funds his House or Senate campaign beyond a certain level (and the math is complicated) and makes the race less competitive, the challenger can start raising funds at twice or even three times ($6900/election) the contribution limits otherwise applicable, and the self-funder becomes subject to various mandatory disclosure requirements regarding his use of his own funds.

Well, based on today's 5-4 Supreme Court decision authored by Justice Alito, it's just a memory now.  Since I can't imagine Congress acting anytime soon, in the 2008 cycle millionaire self-funding candidates can spend to their heart's content without there being any recourse for their opponents.
Essentially, what killed this law was that the raised contribution limits applied were only available to the challenger, and the Court found this to be unduly discriminatory



Tweet of the Day
Wonder when open carry nuts will cross pollinate with anti choice zealots?
@owillis



On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin's morning roundup focuses on the MS run-off. Vox = "the left," apparently. Todd Akin's back. Plan B on the IRS "scandal": missing e-mails they hope you won't notice don't actually bear on the first "scandal." Never mind that lost e-mails didn't bother them before. Likewise, what the U.S. Archivist has to say interests them now, but didn't then. Armando joins in for a quick update and discussion of the day's SCOTUS rulings on recess appointments and abortion clinic buffer zones. Catching up on the "no-fly list" ruling, and common threads it shares on modern technology with yesterday's cell phone search decision.



High Impact Posts. Top Comments.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site