Friday, August 31, 2012

Why You Gotta Lie? A compendium of the Worst from the GOP Revels

The media is abuzz about the speeches at the 2012 GOP Convention in Tampa, critiquing them on style, effectiveness, the number of laughs, the number of attacks on Barack Obama--especially the attacks on Obama.  Clint Eastwood even got an invisible Obama to sit in an empty chair and become the foil for some raucously out-there jokes.

On the last night of the convention, the night when Mitt Romney was to accept his party's nomination and give the speech everyone was waiting for, he was outstripped by an aging but really, really famous Academy Award-winning actor/director who called President Obama crazy and twice pretended that Obama was making crude suggestions about where Romney could put his, um, ideas.  This was a moment so bizarre, it rendered even the usually verbose Rachel Maddow speechless.  The reaction over the Twitterverse, indeed over the entire Internets, was "What the Hell was THAT?"

The Romney people were scrambling the next morning to tone down the tittering. "C'mon! It was just a light moment on an otherwise wonderful night."  But it could be that the distractions are a blessing in disguise.  The first days of the convention got a lot of attention, mainly because the main speeches were rife with easily refutable lies.

The folks in the Romney camp would just as soon everybody--especially the newsguys--forget about that part.  They're out there making their case for a Romney/Ryan win and the Clint Eastwood mess is a much more agreeable distraction than a bunch of lyin' liars.

So in case anyone actually believes all that stuff coming out of their Party party, let's take a look at some of the prevarication highlights (Wouldn't it be great if the Republicans could make their case without lying about their opposition? The problem for them is if they couldn't lie about the opposition, they wouldn't have a case):

Remember Mike Huckabee's speech, where he hints at an old, outrageous (and debunked) lie that says President Obama not only believes in abortion, but believes in killing babies afterward?  This is what he said:
Let me clear the air about whether guys like me would only support an evangelical. Of the four people on the two tickets, the only self-professed evangelical is Barack Obama, and he supports changing the definition of marriage, believes that human life is disposable and expendable at any time in the womb or even beyond the womb, and tells people of faith that they must bow their knees to the god of government and violate their faith and conscience in order to comply with what he calls health care.
(More on the origins of that lie here.)

And more:

MediaIte:  Jon Stewart video on RNC first night misquotes about Obama.

Alternet is on it with Six Big Lies from the first day of the Convention

The always entertaining LOLGOP looks at the "reporting" by Howie Kurtz.

Michael Tomasky, Howie's Daily Beast colleague, finds a web of lies in Ryan's speech.

ThinkProgress checks out the Wednesday night line-up.

The WaPo editorial board dissects Ryan's misleading speech.

Brian Beutler lists Ryan's top five fibs over at TPM.

Joan Walsh calls Ryan's lies "brazen".

Ryan Grim sets the record straight on Ryan's lies about the GM Janesville factory closing.


Alex Pareene makes fun of Rand Paul, that guy who said he got all choked up emotionally, it being like a "lump between my chin and my belly button." (To be fair, it sounds like something I might say on one of the many occasions when I begin talking before thinking, but if I saw those words on a teleprompter in front of me I would hope I'd have the good sense to think twice before saying them out loud.)

But worst than that, he's still trying out the debunked sentence-out-of-context, "You didn't build that", to see if anyone on earth will buy the lie that Barack Obama meant it as a slight to small business owners.  (Apparently they will.  Paul's audience LOVED it.)

Dan Amira at New York Magazine called Ryan's speech "effective."  He also called it "appalling and disingenuous."

Conservative Ted Frier rips Ryan for his lies in "GOP holds Masked Ball, not Convention".

Business Insider says there's a little problem with Ryan's account of Obama's role in the the AAA Credit Rating downgrade.

Chris at Eclectablog does his own round-up of GOP lies from the Convention.

And on and on it goes.  One has to wonder if putting Clint Eastwood on stage in a dumb conversation with an empty chair mightn't have been somebody's brilliant idea to make this last convention night so memorable everybody would forget about those damnable, sticky lies.

 Mightn't it have been better to give Mitt Romney a speech that was unforgettable?  Oh, right.  Romney. Even the man chosen to introduce Romney--Marco Rubio--gave a token few minutes to talk about their party's chosen leader before turning the attention to his own--Marco Rubio's--life story.  Poor Mitt gets no respect. When people are reduced to keeping count of the number of times his name is mentioned throughout the entire convention, it's clear it's not about him, it's about, I don't know. . .2016? 

 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bravo, Chris Matthews. I will Never Call you "Tweety" Again

 I can't say for sure (because there's no definitive source that I could find), but calling Chris Matthews "Tweety" started about three years ago, probably on Twitter.  All I can say about it is that the first time I saw it in print I instantly understood the connection. Whether it refers to "Tweety Bird" in the cartoons, or the incessant tweeting some birds do just to drive you crazy on a quiet morning, it conjures up a kind of squeaky, never-ending cacophony.  Tweets with no seeming function except to make sound.   Tweets and trills and calls and caws, over and over again, no matter when or where or what the occasion. Tweets that cannot be interrupted except maybe with the full force of a BB gun.

I took a break from Matthews for a while after he remarked that Hillary Clinton won the NY Senatorial race solely because her husband publicly chased skirts and people felt sorry for poor Hil. He took some deserved flak for that one, but it didn't stop him from running his mouth over and over again.  He got Michelle Bachmann to say she thought congress should be investigated to see how many "anti-Americans" were lurking there, and even now he boasts about his role in Bachmann's rise to celebrity status--as if that's something anyone would be proud of.

He reminded me of a certain aunt who verbalizes every tiny thought without slowing down for even a second to do the necessary mental editing.  If you're too fat or too thin or you're wearing your hair funny or you don't know how to pronounce "nucular" you and everyone within range will hear about it.   If you open your mouth to say something it becomes a contest to see who can talk over the other the loudest and the longest.  She always wins.

It's that way with Matthews on Hardball, but then again it's his show.  Every guest who makes an appearance on Hardball knows the routine: They'll open their mouths to speak, words will start to come out, and something in those first few words will trigger a memory in Chris's head and he will not hear another word.  He'll be off and running and the invited guests will become the audience and all they can hope for is that the few words they did get out were good enough.

But on the morning of the first day of the 2012 Republican Convention in Tampa, Matthews, a "Morning Joe" panelist, was surprisingly quiet.  Even when Republican chairman Reince Priebus began talking--not about the wonders of the convention and the virtues of the candidates within, but about the evils of President Obama's policies, Matthews kept his mouth shut.  If Priebus, poor man, had stuck to the truth, he might have finished the segment with his dignity intact.  Instead, he got into the already disabused lie about Obama getting ready to drop work requirements for welfare recipients.

At this, Matthews sat up, talons out, ready to swoop.  "I have to call you on this, Mr. Chairman," he says politely, but within seconds we realize (with undisguised glee--at least in this house) that feathers will fly, blood will flow, and it ain't gonna be pretty.

But observe for yourself.  It must be seen to get the full effect. And watch the reactions of the other panelists.  It's as close to a free-for-all as you'll get outside of "The Housewives Of" shows. (I'm guessing Joe and Mika won't be inviting Chris back for Frappuccinos any time soon.)

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
 

There are going to be times in the future of Hardball when Chris Matthews will annoy the hell out of most of us. He got where he is because he is who he is.  But one thing Matthews requires of the people who sit in front of the cameras is that they tell the truth.  Sometimes they forget that, and that's when it gets interesting.

Something has happened to Matthews in the last year or so.  He is far from an Obamabot, but he knows unfairness when he sees it.  When the Republicans would not back down from the birther issue, it was as if a tiny sliver of his inner Murrow awakened and he hasn't let up since.

The old Tweety would seek and find a silly kind of shallow humor in almost everything political, and he wasn't above exploiting it.  The new Chris Matthews sees hurt where it exists and feels compelled to advocate for a fix.  His concern for the disenfranchised and dispossessed is palpable and sincere.

He still forgets his manners when he has guests at his table. He still loves the sound of his own voice.  But he has grown up.  Maybe now he deserves a real name. 


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The GOP Fixation on Rape and Sex and Women's Bodies: There are Cures for That.

So I guess you heard what House Science Committee member Todd Akin (R-MO) said, when asked whether rape would be reason enough for abortion:
People always want to try and make that as one of those things, well, how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let's assume that maybe that didn't work or something. You know, I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child.   
 To which, even the most thoughtless of the thinking people have to be going, What in thee pluperfect HELL??

This is the Tea Party-backed guy who just newly won the Republican senate primary and will go against Democratic Senator Claire McKaskill in November.  Maybe.  McKaskill wasted no time jumping in, saying, in effect, Uh uh, morons, you chose him, now you better let him run--I hope, I hope, I hope. 

But her reaction was nothing compared to the scrambling, the fumbling, the hasty word salads coming out of the Republicans who, bless 'em, saw immediately how this could royally screw things up come November if people kept linking that idiot Akin to their almost-main guy, Paul Ryan. 

That same Paul Ryan who calls himself the most Pro-Life person in government.

That same Paul Ryan whose views on Personhood--the belief that the life of each human being begins with fertilization--meshed so thoroughly with Todd Akin's they co-sponsored a bill calling for the legitimization of that loony theory.

That same Paul Ryan who, along with Akin and a couple hundred GOP House members, actually tried to make laws about the degrees of rape, defining "forcible rape" as the only violation worth noting--as if, in fact, "forcible" could be defined; as if, in fact, there was any other kind.

So, because Akin reminds them too much of Ryan and all that's unholy about him, the rest of the Republicans would like nothing better than to see Akin just fall in a hole, his name erased from any future historical references to the Great Race of 2012. 

On Hardball, Cynthia Tucker told Chris Matthews that this notion about a woman's body protecting her from a rapist's sperm--in a 'legitimate' rape--is nothing new.  She said Georgia Representative Don Thomas, a physician, said much the same thing--in 2003.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jim Galloway quotes Thomas as saying, “Relying on my personal experience in my home county of 90,000 people, we don’t have rape cases resulting in pregnancy."

Galloway found another instance of the same crazy theory, this time by a North Carolina legislator (Republican) in 1995:
"The facts show that people who are raped -- who are truly raped -- the juices don't flow, the body functions don't work and they don't get pregnant," said [Henry] Aldridge, a 71-year-old periodontist. "Medical authorities agree that this is a rarity, if ever. . .
. . .[t]o get pregnant, it takes a little cooperation. And there ain't much cooperation in a rape," he said.
Rachel Maddow found even more instances of Republican office-holders using the same loopy rape reasoning.  (They're always Republicans. I mean it. Always)

How long before Republicans finally have to admit that they've encouraged and nurtured this craziness long enough? If they get skunked in November, will they finally come to their senses?  I doubt it.  Their fixation on rape and sex and women's bodies is a powerful habit.  It won't go away overnight.

But what if the craziness continues and they don't get skunked?  What if Romney wins and the Republicans take both the House and the Senate, and Paul Ryan, entrenched as the second most powerful man in the country, comes out of his shell, no longer having to pretend that there are any circumstances where women have any rights over their own bodies? 

It's our job to keep reminding potential Romney/Ryan voters that Todd Akin is not an anomaly, he is a symptom.  Five minutes before he gave that interview his loony beliefs about women's bodies were right there with him, and five minutes afterward he was feeling no pain about what he said.  He is who he is, and Paul Ryan and his fellow sex-masters are right there in the peapod with him.

There is no cure for what ails them, but there is a cure for us.

We quit them, pronto.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Happy Birthday, Social Security. And Many, Many More. XOXOXO


Today marks the 77th anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Act, and even though it's not one of those anniversaries we might consider A Big One, it's important.  For this reason:  it may well be the last time any of us will be able to celebrate this landmark law without also being reminded of its untimely death.

Two years ago, when we celebrated Social Security's Diamond Anniversary (well, some of us did) the usual rumblings against the best and brightest of our safety net programs could be heard, but since they were far off and not unlike anything we had heard before (and since the Democrats were still in the majority), we did the usual and just ignored them.

Two years later, they're not just rumblings, they're lightning strikes. Even the folks who have the most to gain from the continuance of Social Security are getting ready to cast their ballots for the very politicians who are not just promising but itching to kill it dead.  Mitt Romney and his cohort, the SS-hating Paul Ryan, would like nothing better than to get the chance in November to kill off all such safety nets once and for all.  If they win the presidency, we can kiss goodbye any hope of saving Social Security and its offspring, Medicare and Medicaid.  The only reform we'll see is a slow elimination or corruption or privatization of the social programs many more addled Americans have now been lulled into associating with "Big Bad Government."

The creation of the Social Security program was nothing short of a miracle.  Days after FDR was sworn in for his first term, in March, 1933, he appointed a committee to come up with a plan to help the people who had become victims of a devastating depression by giving them money.  Cash in their pockets.  Money that the oldest, the ones who couldn't work, would never have to pay back.  And they did it without judgment because they knew the people in this nation were poverty-stricken because they, the government, hadn't been governing with the best interests of the citizens in mind.  In effect, they owed them.  (Well, no, they didn't say that, but they didn't have to.)

Roosevelt signing the Social Security Act into law.  August 14, 1935

Roosevelt envisioned creating a long-term safety net that would eventually be self-sustained by payroll deductions when everyone got back to work, but he was adamant about the need for the Federal government to start these payments before the coffers were filled.  His idea was that the normal safety nets had long disappeared, the country was in trouble, and the government had a moral duty to help out.

President Roosevelt appealed his case for Social Security to Congress this way:
In the important field of security for our old people, it seems necessary to adopt three principles: First, non-contributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance. It is, of course, clear that for perhaps thirty years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions. Second, compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations. Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age. It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.

The amount necessary at this time for the initiation of unemployment compensation, old-age security, children's aid, and the promotion of public health, as outlined in the report of the Committee on Economic Security, is approximately one hundred million dollars.
(Roosevelt's message to Congress on Social Security, January 17, 1935)
 For all intents, remember, the treasury was empty, and such a request must have sounded plain loony to some.  Of course it did.  The Republicans fought him all the way, but they were in the minority and they lost.  (Interesting to note, though, that 81 Republicans in the House and 16 in the Senate voted for the Social Security Act.)
Three years after the law was enacted he went before the American people and talked about what it meant for the country:
Five years ago the term "social security" was new to American ears. Today it has significance for more than forty million men and women workers whose applications for old-age insurance accounts have been received; this system is designed to assure them an income for life after old age retires them from their jobs.

It has significance for the needy men, women and children receiving assistance and for their families--at least two million three hundred thousand all told; with this cash assistance one million seven hundred thousand old folks are spending their last years in surroundings they know and with people they love; more than six hundred thousand dependent children are being taken care of by their own families; and about forty thousand blind people are assured of peace and security among familiar voices.
It has significance for the families and communities to whom expanded public health and child welfare services have brought added protection. And it has significance for all of us who, as citizens, have at heart the Security and the well-being of this great democracy.

These accomplishments of three years are impressive, yet we should not be unduly proud of them. Our Government in fulfilling an obvious obligation to the citizens of the country has been doing so only because the citizens require action from their Representatives. If the people, during these years, had chosen a reactionary Administration or a "do nothing" Congress, Social Security would still be in the conversational stage--a beautiful dream which might come true in the dim distant future.
But the underlying desire for personal and family security was nothing new. In the early days of colonization and through the long years following, the worker, the farmer, the merchant, the man of property, the preacher and the idealist came here to build, each for himself, a stronghold for the things he loved. The stronghold was his home; the things he loved and wished to protect were his family, his material and spiritual possessions.

His security, then as now, was bound to that of his friends and his neighbors. But as the Nation has developed, as invention, industry and commerce have grown more complex, the hazards of life have become more complex. Among an increasing host of fellow citizens, among the often intangible forces of giant industry, man has discovered that his individual strength and wits were no longer enough. This was true not only of the worker at shop bench or ledger; it was true also of the merchant or manufacturer who employed him. Where heretofore men had turned to neighbors for help and advice, they now turned to Government.

Now this is interesting to consider. The first to turn to Government, the first to receive protection from Government, were not the poor and the lowly--those who had no resources other than their daily earnings--but the rich and the strong. Beginning in the nineteenth century, the United States passed protective laws designed, in the main, to give security to property owners, to industrialists, to merchants and to bankers. True, the little man often profited by this type of legislation; but that was a by-product rather than a motive.

Taking a generous view of the situation, I think it was not that Government deliberately ignored the working man but that the working man was not sufficiently articulate to make his needs and his problems known. The powerful in industry and commerce had powerful voices, both individually and as a group. And whenever they saw their possessions threatened, they raised their voices in appeals for government protection.

It was not until workers became more articulate through organization that protective labor legislation was passed. While such laws raised the standards of life, they still gave no assurance of economic security. Strength or skill of arm or brain did not guarantee a man a job; it did not guarantee him a roof; it did not guarantee him the ability to provide for those dependent upon him or to take care of himself when he was too old to work.

Long before the economic blight of the depression descended on the Nation, millions of our people were living in wastelands of want and fear. Men and women too old and infirm to work either depended on those who had but little to share, or spent their remaining years within the walls of a poorhouse. Fatherless children early learned the meaning of being a burden to relatives or to the community. Men and women, still strong, still young, but discarded as gainful workers, were drained of self-confidence and self-respect.

The millions of today want, and have a right to, the same security their forefathers sought--the assurance that with health and the willingness to work they will find a place for themselves in the social and economic system of the time.
("A Social Security Program Must Include All Those Who Need Its Protection." RADIO ADDRESS ON THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ACT. AUGUST 15, 1938)

This is what we're fighting to save.  The moral code of this country, as spelled out by the founders, has always dictated that government is there to serve the needs of the people.  Sometimes that's ignored, as Roosevelt himself infers in his radio address, but it's never forgotten.

Even now, it's not forgotten.  Not by us.  Reading through Roosevelt's statements on Social Security, it's clear that he intended to work tirelessly to do what was right for the people still suffering from the effects of a man-made, wholly unnecessary depression.  We need to remind our leaders today--also to blame for a wholly unnecessary depression--that social safety nets are an obligation they've inherited, and are, in fact, an obligation they agreed to when they took their oaths of office and vowed to uphold the constitution.

So let's get to the meat of it: President Obama is no Roosevelt.  Not even close.  But in my heart of hearts I believe he knows in his heart of hearts what he should do. So far he hasn't done it well, but there's no denying baby steps have been taken.  He dropped the ball early on and hasn't recovered it yet, but there's hope.  With President Obama, there's hope.

If Mitt Romney is elected president, either because of or in spite of his running mate, in all likelihood the Republicans will take both the House and the Senate, and that will be the end of Obamacare, of Social Security, of Medicare and Medicaid, of any chance at easing the conditions of the poor and middle class and rebuilding a country nearly devastated by a man-made economic crisis not of our choosing and not of our making.

How do we get that message out?  I don't know, but it can't hurt to keep reminding voters that once upon a time, in conditions much like these, something happened in this country that changed us forever.  Our government took charge and did, not just what they were elected to do, but what they were morally obligated to do. They took care of a nation in mortal pain.  And the country survived.  It thrived.  So much so that, until this latest man-made fiasco, we were still seen as the greatest nation in the world.

We could keep reminding them of that.


Friday, August 3, 2012

One good reason the Feminist Movement had to Get Moving

In 1973 Marabel Morgan wrote a book called "The Total Woman".  It was a follow-up to her successful "Total Woman" programs, in which Marabel taught women how to be seductive and outwardly submissive so as to get whatever  they wanted from their stern or indifferent husbands, most of whom had chronic roving eyes and/or wallets covered in cobwebs.

The secret, as Eve could have told any one of those wannabe Stepford Wives, was sex.  No, not withholding it, a la the women in Lysistrata, but reveling in it, wallowing in it--in a Godly way, of course--as the very best way to keep your man happy.  (Second best is staying sweet by keeping your mind clear and your mouth shut.)

Marabel had assignments for the women, who paid $15 for four two-hour sessions.  Most of them involved sex as the pivotal tool to keep hubby happy.  If wifey wasn't happy doing it, she'd better get happy, toot sweet, because the bible tells her so.

The little woman was expected to be an "atmosphere adjuster" in the morning by being pleasant to look at, be with, and talk to.  She was to walk her husband to the car each morning and wave until he was out of sight.

She was to call him at work an hour before quitting time (just before she took her bubble bath and cleaned carefully between her toes) to tell him she craves his body.

She was to "thrill him at the front door" by dressing in sexy costumes. "A frilly new nighty and heels will probably do the trick as a starter," Marabel writes. (One of the women in her class won First Prize in Marabel's mind by stripping naked, wrapping herself in Saran Wrap, and topping herself off with a strategically placed red bow.)

And if he came home growling, Marabel cautioned:
"Don't deprive your husband of intercourse when he acts like a bear.  He may be tired when he comes home tonight.  He needs to be pampered, loved, and restored.  Fill up his tummy with food; soothe away his frustrations with sex.  Lovemaking comforts a man.  It can comfort you, too."
From there the book gets deeper and darker, as Marabel tries to convince the "Total Woman" that in order to be totally Total she will have to come in second in everything.  In Chapter 6, Adapt to Him, she finally gets to the meat of it:  "The biblical remedy for marital conflict is stated, 'You wives must submit to your husbands' leadership in the same way you submit to the Lord.'  God planned for woman to be under the husband's rule."

In the Oh, King, Live Forever section of that same chapter, she writes, "I have been asked if this process of adapting places a woman on a slave-master basis with her husband.  A Total Woman is not a slave.  She graciously chooses to adapt to her husband's way, even though at times she desperately may not want to.  He in turn will gratefully respond by trying to make it up to her and grant her desires.  He may even want to spoil her with goodies."

Well, gag me with a maggot, even thirty years later.  But it goes on:
"What if the king [Ed. note: King Hubby] makes the wrong decision?  Oh, that's a hard one, especially when you know you're right, and there are times when that is the case.  The queen is still to follow him, forthwith.  A queen shall not nag or buck her king's decision after it has been decreed.  Remember those speedy trials, gals!"  

The Execution of Anne Boleyn

Oh, Holy Mother of all that's Totally Total, sometimes I think Marabel was really a guy:
"It is only when a woman surrenders her life to her husband, reveres and worships him, and is willing to serve him, that she becomes really beautiful to him.  She becomes a priceless jewel, the glory of femininity, his queen!"  (P. 80, still on Chapter 6.)
As much fun as Marabel Morgan's book seemed to be to the tittilatees of the world (She was a perky regular on The Phil Donahue Show and made the cover of the top mags of the day),  the real message was one of female submission--of biblical proportions. Marabel herself admitted as much in 1992, when she told a reporter, "Subservience is involuntary, but submission is my choice."  She said submission--not the sexual come-ons--was the real point of her book.

I knew it!  I just knew it! (No, I didn't.  Not until I re-read it again yesterday. I picked up the book for 50 cents at a thrift store last week, just as a curiosity, and the whole religious submission thing caught me by Total surprise.  I'm beginning to wonder if I ever read anything but Chapter 10--"Super Sex".)

Since its publication in 1974 the book has sold over 10 million copies. (Out of print now, but available on Amazon and in thrift stores everywhere.)  It lost favor for a few decades but the King Hubby ideas that seemed so ridiculous in "The Total Woman"  are starting to look pretty good to a whole lot of Christian women who find themselves re-living the age of Old Testament Normal.

I think I've finally found the answer to the question I asked last February, when, incredibly, millions of GOP women were seen cheering the men who were fighting against free contraceptives: What do you see in those men?  Apparently, they see nothing, hear nothing, think nothing.  Maybe that's why Marabel's very last paragraph might make more sense to them than it does to me:
Please, don't be satisfied with a new paint job and some redecoration.  Plug yourself into the One, the only One, who can give you life.  Pascal said, "There is a god-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man, which cannot be satisfied by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator. . ."  God is waiting and wanting to fill your vacuum, to make you complete.  Total.  Right now you can become a Total Woman.

Oh, did I mention that Marabel dedicated this book to her good friend, Anita Bryant?  Or that she learned her parenting skills from Dr. James Dobson, author of Dare to Discipline?  She quotes him in Chapter 12, Blueprint for Blessings:  "When he flops his hairy little toe across the line you've drawn, that's the time to give it to him."

Lovingly, of course, with big hugs afterward, because as Marabel says, "I'm completely out of touch with reality and you can be, too. Totally."  (They may not have been her exact words, but they're close enough.)