November 2007 Archives

Devil's In The Details? Not If You Ask Most Americans genre: Hip-Gnosis

Ouija Board

Welcome to the latest American renaissance...a loathsome return to the "dark ages". A new poll tells us that more Americans believe in hell and the devil...literally...than believe in Darwin's Theory of Evolution. The only good news...and I say as much with all available facetiousness...is that nearly two thirds of all Americans believe in miracles. Why is that good news? Because it now appears it's going to take a miracle to get this country tracking on a set of rational rails and not hitching it's wacky wagon to a messianic magic carpet.

More Americans believe in a literal hell and the devil than Darwin's theory of evolution, according to a new Harris poll released on Thursday.

It is the latest survey to highlight America's deep level of religiosity, a cultural trait that sets it apart from much of the developed world.

It also helps explain many of its political battles which Europeans find bewildering, such as efforts to have "Intelligent Design" theory -- which holds life is too complex to have evolved by chance -- taught in schools alongside evolution.

It further found that 79 percent believed in miracles, 75 percent in heaven, while 72 percent believed that Jesus is God or the Son of God. Belief in hell and the devil was expressed by 62 percent.

Darwin's theory of evolution met a far more skeptical audience which might surprise some outsiders as the United States is renowned for its excellence in scientific research.

Only 42 percent of those surveyed said they believed in Darwin's theory which largely informs how biology and related sciences are approached. While often referred to as evolution it is in fact the 19th century British intellectual's theory of "natural selection."

What I find so baffling is that in real life you can't get most of these people to accept hard and fast facts...but when it comes to faith, they're willing to believe in the cookie monster. Global warming...not a chance. No connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11...not on your life.

If the above data isn't enough to convince you we're on the fast train to rampant regression, not to worry...there's more data to report.

More born-again Christians -- a term which usually refers to evangelical Protestants who place great emphasis on the conversion experience -- believed in witches at 37 percent than mainline Protestants or Catholics, both at 32 percent.

OK, it was just a few months back when James Dobson and Focus on the Family released the following statement with regards to Harry Potter.

"We have spoken out strongly against all of the Harry Potter products." His rationale for that statement: Magical characters — witches, wizards, ghosts, goblins, werewolves, poltergeists and so on — fill the Harry Potter stories, and given the trend toward witchcraft and New Age ideology in the larger culture, it's difficult to ignore the effects such stories (albeit imaginary) might have on young, impressionable minds.

At the time, I assumed Dobson was opposed to Harry Potter because it glamorized "witches, wizards, ghosts, goblins [...]" to children...leading young people to embrace irrational notions and engage in irrational fantasies while distracting them from their religious studies. Little did I know that nearly a third of all Americans actually believe that witches exist and probably think the Harry Potter books were written to recruit more witches.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Many of these same people believe that Tinky Winky and Sponge Bob Square Pants are characters created by militant homosexual sympathizers that are intended to indoctrinate children into the gay lifestyle. When did a duck stop being a duck?

I must admit I'm totally flummoxed at the number of foolish and fallacious fixations. Have they become the means by which people disconnect from the harsh realities that permeate their increasingly complex lives? Are average Americans so disconnected from the practice of reason and an understanding of the technology that surrounds them that they seek comfort in the simplicity of these virtual fabrications?

I don't know the answers to my questions...but I do know it's increasingly important for us to find them before we return to the logic that believed witches would float if tossed into a body of water...fully ignoring the fact that the accused was condemned to death either way. If they did float, they would be put to death for being a witch; if they sank and drowned, they weren't a witch...but nonetheless dead? Frankly, we're not that far from the wholesale suspension of cognition.

Makes a person want to dig out the Ouija Board and look into the future...but I'm going to stick with my Tarot Cards...I've found the results are much more to my liking.

Tagged as: Darwin, Devil, Evangelicals, Faith, Focus on the Family, Harris Poll, Harry Potter, Hell, Intelligent Design, James Dobson, Natural Selection, Ouija Board, Religion, Religious Right, Science, Witchcraft

Daniel DiRito | November 29, 2007 | 3:30 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Who Put That Gay Man In The You Tube? genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak

In The Tube

I'm sorry but stupid was just brought to a new low. The tubes are abuzz over the fact that CNN allowed a question about "don't ask, don't tell" from a gay man who serves on a committee for Hillary Clinton. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but the YouTube format didn't require a disclosure of party affiliation. Granted, the incident makes CNN's vetting process appear rather careless, but are we to believe that the question is invalid because the questioner isn't a card carrying Republican?

If that's the case, then shouldn't Anderson Cooper be disqualified from moderating a GOP debate since he is gay? Maybe we should only allow Republican moderators at Republican debates and Democratic moderators at Democratic debates? I swear, we're becoming more of a banana republic each day. I suspect the debate process for electing an eighth grade class president may have more substance and credibility...and certainly less whining from the inane partisans.

Speaking of substance, I guess I'm wondering why asking the GOP candidates their position on gays in the military is off limits for a former officer simply because he will apparently vote for a Democrat. Think about it...how many gay people do we expect to vote for a party that routinely opposes most, if not all, measures that would afford gays more rights and greater equality?

Further, after hearing the answers to the question...especially Duncan Hunters diatribe on not wanting to upset the predominantly religious conservative members of the military...why on earth would gays vote for the GOP? His answer is wrong on so many levels such that I refuse to waste any more of my time and energy detailing the reasons. Those who understand the reasons get it...and those who don't, aren't unable to; they simply don't want to.

I just love the argument that we can't consider allowing gays to serve openly because we're at war. Using that same logic, gays ought to be exempt from a draft if America ever determines it needs more troops because they can't attract enough volunteers. Sounds good to me...let the straight people protect us all from harm. We gays will plan the ticker tape parade if and when we ever win one of these wars.

Moving on, if the rank and file of the GOP agree with the answers given, why be afraid to have these candidates spell out their positions? Who are they trying to fool anyway? Should we believe that if the Republican candidates can avoid expressing their positions with regards to gays, no one will be the wiser or attempt to discern where they stand? That's the funny thing about bigotry these days...people know when it exists and they get testy when someone forces them to acknowledge or demonstrate it.

Following the debate and the "exposure" of CNN's duplicity, I went and read comments on a number of right leaning blogs. While the bigotry amazes me, the belief on the part of countless straight men that every gay man is interested in ogling them is mind-boggling. We scorn the Saudi's for their absolutely antiquated treatment of women...highlighted by the recent sentencing of a rape victim to 200 lashes and six months in prison...treatment that is premised on the fear that every women is so vulnerable to her carnal desires that her body must be completely hidden from view and she must be forever forbidden from being in the presence of any unrelated male...unless accompanied by "her man".

Now let's break this down...is it the women they're worried about or isn't it more probable that these men don't trust themselves to act appropriately...so clearly they can't leave their women alone with another man? Truth be told, I'm sure they're lack of trustworthiness is justified...but why in the hell should women be punished because these men are pigs? Last time I checked, it takes a boat load of man-sluts to make a whore. The absurdity is overwhelming!

The same mind set is at play when it comes to gays in the military...most of these men commenting on these sites apply their own sexual habits and thoughts to gay soldiers...totally failing to realize that gays have spent their entire lives demonstrating restraint and appreciating each other for more than just getting off. We have too if we want some semblance of a normal social life. We've learned that it's possible to find friendships with people who could otherwise serve as sexual partners...and therefore we don't have to approach each other and all males as nothing more than sexual objects.

Many of these straight men are unable and unwilling to grasp this concept because they see all women as objects for sexual gratification. It's the cattle mentality...as long as they erect (no pun intended) fences to keep themselves from succumbing to their desires, they (the bulls) won't breed every woman (the heifers) they see. That's why they are so intimidated by the thought of showering with a gay man or sharing the same barracks. They can only visualize what they would do in a similar situation with women. So they see gays in the military as lacking the barriers they're reliant upon to maintain their fragile notions of propriety and fidelity.

Forgive me for generalizing, as I realize the following may be an unfair assessment...but why should women and gays be forced to suffer the inability of these straight men to evolve beyond their noticeably arrested and obviously immature sexual constructs? As I think about it, that may be the best argument for electing a woman or a gay president.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Anderson Cooper, CNN, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Gays In The Military, GOP, Hillary Clinton, Homophobia, LGBT, Misogyny, Saudi Arabia, YouTube Debate

Daniel DiRito | November 28, 2007 | 10:05 PM | link | Comments (7)
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Rudy Fiddled And Diddled On Gotham City's Dime? genre: Polispeak

Rudy's Vitameatavegamin

New York's semi-smarmy super hero, the drag queen wannabe who no doubt wishes he could campaign wearing Annie Oakley-esque outfits complete with a pair of precious plaid holsters sporting a set of sassy squirt guns, apparently left some rather large loose ends in his winsome wake...and I'm not talking about the backsides of his bevy of former Frauleins. It appears that Rudy made a number of trips to the Hamptons to shack up with Judy "Make Room For My Vuitton" Nathan on Gotham City's dime.

As New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons, according to previously undisclosed government records.

The documents, obtained by Politico under New York's Freedom of Information Law, show that the mayoral costs had nothing to do with the functions of the little-known city offices that defrayed his tabs, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants.

At the time, the mayor's office refused to explain the accounting to city auditors, citing "security."

The Hamptons visits resulted in hotel, gas and other costs for Giuliani's New York Police Department security detail.

Now one can speculate what America's mayor meant by "security" when deflecting questions about these rather suspect expenditures...perhaps his psyche was subconsciously pondering the problems he might encounter if the woman holed up in Gracie Mansion had the goods on her cousin kissin' diddly dallying husband?

I could include additional excerpts but I'm having way more fun sharing my silly and snide snark. When I read about Rudy's amorphous accounting, I couldn't help but harken to the head-scratching that followed his loquacious telephone interludes with wifey number three while standing at the podium to deliver a speech. Perhaps the current Mrs. Giuliani wants to keep account of her hubby...after all, she knows all too well about her hubby's clandestine capabilities.

Truth be told, I doubt Rudy could afford the crown wife number four might require should he elect to discard his current tiara topped trysterina. Besides, can the leader of the free world be found out to be kitty kaptured? I think not. Anyway, I suspect he will have to keep his untrustworthy tallywhacker in toe for the time being.

In the meantime, it looks like Rudy Rudolpho, the ever morphing mayor, has got some splainin' to do...and I'm not sure he's all that capable of selling his version of "vitameatavegamin".

Tagged as: 2008 Presidential Election, Gotham City, Hamptons, I Love Lucy, Judith Nathan, New York City, Rudy Giuliani

Daniel DiRito | November 28, 2007 | 4:41 PM | link | Comments (0)
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God Puts The Squeeze On Richard Roberts genre: Hip-Gnosis

The Giving Finger?

I just love watching "fundies" use god to explain and justify their every action...whether it be good or bad. For those who haven't heard, Richard Roberts, the son of Oral Roberts, now reports that he resigned his position as President of Oral Roberts University because god told him he must (on Thanksgiving Day no less).

Apparently god wasn't speaking loud enough or Roberts was ignoring him while he and his family were milking the University to enable their lavish life of excess...or perhaps god was simply too busy at the time to tell him to stop. And by all means we can't have expected Roberts to do the right thing of his own accord. How would a man of god know the difference between right and wrong without proper consultation from the heavenly father? It just goes to show that heaven is understaffed and it's leading to all sorts of improprieties and numerous lost souls here on earth.

Richard Roberts told students at Oral Roberts University Wednesday that he did not want to resign as president of the scandal-plagued evangelical school, but he did so because God insisted.

Roberts told students in the university's chapel that God told him on Thanksgiving that he should resign the next day.

Roberts said he resisted the idea, and that "every ounce of my flesh said 'no,'" but he prayed over the decision with his wife, Lindsay Roberts, and his father, Oral Roberts, and decided to step down.

Roberts has previously said that God told him to deny the allegations. The week the lawsuit was filed, Richard Roberts said that God told: "We live in a litigious society. Anyone can get mad and file a lawsuit against another person whether they have a legitimate case or not. This lawsuit ... is about intimidation, blackmail and extortion."

Apparently god is one savvy attorney as well as an omniscient and all knowing creator. Given sufficient time to review the case against Roberts, god apparently decided Roberts lacked a plausible defense. I can't wait for god to impose a dollar amount to settle the lawsuit...and if past experience holds true, I'm sure god will insist Roberts deliver one of those tearful tell all confessions.

You see, without the oft seen mea culpa, how would Roberts be able to continue to live off of the donations of those who place far too much faith in mere mortals...manipulative mortals who have learned that one can do anything one wants as long as one attributes it to god's will?

Did I mention I'm in training to be a minister? And by the way, don't blame me, it was god's idea.

Tagged as: Hypocrisy, Oral Roberts, Oral Roberts University, Religion, Richard Roberts

Daniel DiRito | November 28, 2007 | 1:22 PM | link | Comments (2)
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And Down Will Come The Economy, Tax Cuts & All genre: Econ-Recon & Polispeak

Down Will Come The Economy

It's one thing to talk abstractly about a house of cards; its another thing to be living with an economy built upon that very premise. Throughout the Bush administration, we have been sold on the benefits of tax cuts for the wealthy; with the promise of insuring a healthy economy. All the while, I believe this paper tiger economy was actually built and sustained by the implementation of artificially low interest rates and shoddy mortgage lending practices.

This shortsighted effort was designed to limit the depth of an economic downturn and to spur equity spending on the part of middle income Americans in the absence of the fundamentals necessary to create real economic mojo. At the same time, the tax cut strategy served to bolster the GOP's alliance with wealthy benefactors. Unfortunately, the winds of a weak financial environment have returned to find an economy which is all the more vulnerable and far more suspect.

At the moment, we are witnessing a conflation of events that at best signals a tumultuous period of tepid GDP growth. A candid reality check likely suggests we are on the leading edge of a recession that may persist well into 2009. Let's look at the indicators.

From Bloomberg:

Home prices in the U.S. fell in the third quarter by the most in at least two decades as the subprime lending crisis caused sales to slump.

Home values retreated 4.5 percent in the three months through September from the same period a year before, the most since records began in 1988, according to a report today by S&P/Case-Shiller. It followed a 3.3 percent drop in the second quarter.

Prices will probably keep sliding as foreclosures force more properties on to the market and sales weaken as mortgages become harder to get. The slump threatens to slow consumer spending as fewer homeowners will be able to afford vacations, new autos or home improvement projects.

From Reuters:

Lehman Brothers said the decline in home prices is the start of an extended decline in the market.

"We look for home prices to fall well into 2009 as excess inventory is slowly cleared and foreclosed homes return to the market at a discounted price," the company said in commentary published Tuesday.

This will translate to a 15 percent decline in national home prices from peak to trough, Lehman Brothers said.

From The Wall Street Journal:

The property value of U.S. homes will fall by $1.2 trillion, and "at least" 1.4 million homeowners will lose their properties to foreclosure in 2008, according to a study released Tuesday by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Council for the New American City.

Global Insight predicted that the economy would grow at a 1.9% rate in 2008, "a full percentage point lower than would have been the case without the mortgage crisis." It also said U.S. gross domestic product growth would be $166 billion lower next year because of mortgage market problems, and that consumer spending would fall to 2% growth.

If you've followed the reports on housing and the subprime lending crisis, the news has gotten progressively worse each time new data is released. Frankly, I see no reason to conclude we won't see more of the same. Given the fact that so much of our current economic growth has been the result of consumers spending the equity they've accumulated from the recent housing bubble, the impact of lower housing prices, foreclosures facilitated by adjustable rate mortgages, generally higher interest rates, and stricter mortgage terms has not yet been fully calculated or understood.

Add in the projections that housing prices will fall at least fifteen percent before the downturn has reached bottom and one begins to see the magnitude of the pending economic slide. While difficult to calculate the amount of spending which results from homeowner's borrowing against expanding home values, it isn't difficult to imagine the significance of declining home values...and that ignores the impact of existing inflationary pressures which will no doubt cut into any discretionary spending that remains feasible.

Let's look more closely at the reports which measure consumer confidence.

From The Associated Press:

With Christmas only a month away, American consumers became more pessimistic about the economy in November, sending a widely watched barometer of confidence to the lowest level in two years amid worries about rising fuel costs and a housing market slump.

The New York-based Conference Board said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 87.3, marking a four-month slide and continuing down almost 8 points from the revised 95.2 in October.

It was the lowest reading since 85.2 in October 2005 when gas and oil prices soared after hurricanes flooded New Orleans and shut down a large chunk of the nation's oil refineries. It also marked the sharpest drop since September 2005 when the index plummeted 18 points from the previous month.

The big worry is that shoppers will take their time returning to the stores this holiday season amid worries that higher gas, an escalating credit crisis and a slumping housing market could push the economy into a recession.

With consumer spending accounting for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, any further dropoff of consumer spending increases the risks of a recession.

Pretty simple stuff...if you have less money to spend and lack the equity to borrow it, then the only answer is to spend less money. Once that reality sets in, consumer confidence is apt to fall even further in what becomes nothing short of a cause and effect downward spiral. Once this happens, job losses can't be far behind as retailers and manufacturers are forced to lay off employees in the absence of stable or expanding sales.

From China View:

The Fed also forecast that the unemployment rate would rise to between 4.8 percent and 4.9 percent next year, compared to the previously estimated 4.75 percent for 2008.

In the past two months, U.S. unemployment rate stood at 4.7 percent, a level still considered low by historical standards. Before September, the jobless rate had remained in a range of 4.4 percent to 4.6 percent since the same month of 2006.

With economic growth slowing, the unemployment rate would increase "modestly" next year, stabilize in 2009 and then decline slightly in 2010, the Fed said.

Yes, this anticipated increase in unemployment is minimal...if only that were the end of the story. Projecting unemployment is not only difficult; it is dependent on all of the factors mentioned above. Should the economy follow a worse case scenario, then one would expect unemployment rates to exceed these preliminary projections. Again, all of these measurements feed off of the others and once recessionary momentum is unleashed, predicting the bottom becomes a crap shoot. In an economic downturn, bad news relating to each individual item exerts a downward ratchet effect upon all of the others.

Further, the one item that must improve in order to help halt the effects of a recession...consumer confidence...is often the most difficult to impact and the slowest to respond to signs of improvement. As such, the fix may well be in place long before one begins to see a shift in momentum.

I would equate the economic process to what one might experience if one were in a line of individuals holding hands and spinning in a circle...those anchored in place at the front of the line start moving first and by the time the person at the end of the line starts moving, the momentum is in full swing and apt to send that person flying at a pace they cannot control or maintain. The process (momentum) continues until the links that keep the line functional and turning begin to break (holding hands in this example). The same is true of the economy.

A view of the economy isn't complete without looking at the stock market...and the news isn't any better.

From The Chicago Tribune:

Stocks took it on the chin again late in Monday's session, as investors dumped shares across a broad range of companies.

The Dow Jones industrial average plummeted 237.44 points, or 1.8 percent, to 12,743.44.

Based on daily closing prices, the Dow and the Standard & Poor's 500 index reached 10 percent declines from their Oct. 9 highs, a move known on Wall Street as a "correction." It was the first such correction since the late winter of 2003.

The repetition of headline-grabbing market declines so far this month appears to be having self-fulfilling impact on investor sentiment.

Would-be stock market investors these days are like people prone to panic attacks, said Jack Tilton, technical analyst at Channel Trend. "When in the middle of the night with the wind howling do you decide to open that closet door?" he said.

Of all the economic indicators, the stock market is likely the least predictive of recessions. While corrections happen far more often than recessions, the recent weakness doesn't help consumer confidence. In essence, if the economy is teetering on the edge, a stock market correction may simply provide the final psychological nudge.

I want to close by returning to the politics of economics. The GOP, under the guidance of George Bush, has argued that the tax cuts enacted shortly after the President took office served to move the economy out of recession. If one accepts that premise, then a new recession would seem to suggest two things. One, the tax cuts may not have been responsible for bringing us out of the prior recession...especially since they don't appear to be capable of keeping us out of a new recession. Two, if we are entering another recession, then perhaps the tax cuts were little more than a political calculation.

If, as I've argued, the economy was actually propped up through other means (low interest rates and lenient mortgage terms), then one would hope the GOP would now focus on measures that would actually benefit and buttress the economy. Unfortunately, just today we find Larry Kudlow arguing that the GOP should not only embrace the past tax cuts; they should put forth the argument that they are once again essential to jump start our sluggish economy.

The Wall Street Journal’s Gerald Seib has an excellent column this morning on the threat of an economic downturn and the relevance of tax cuts to reignite the economy. He notes that Republicans have an important opportunity to push tax cuts as a spur to the slumping economy, whereas Democrats are still stuck with a tired tax-hike message and an obsessive desire to undo the Bush tax cuts.

Seib does not go into the incentive effects of lower marginal tax rates versus the one-shot demand-side effects of temporary tax cuts.

Former Clinton Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is now predicting a 2008 recession. But he’s calling for temporary tax cuts for low and middle-class families. Unfortunately, history clearly shows this approach will not work.

Democrats also will try and make the case that taxes should be cut for the so-called middle class, and raised on upper-income earners. This is futile. It’s also bad politics. Taxing successful earners is a tax on capital and investment, which has recently become scarce during the housing crisis.

Republicans should take care to propose lower tax rates on middle-income earners, as well as successful investors. The real supply-side “bang for the buck" comes at the top-end, but across-the-board rate reductions do have positive economic and political benefits. Collapsing the middle-income brackets — 15 percent, 25 percent, and 28 percent — would make a lot of sense.

Given the economic and credit-market concerns sweeping down Wall Street and Main Street these days, it’s time to talk tax cuts. But the right kind of tax-rate reduction must be part of the new-tax-cut riff.

Now you have to admire Kudlow's moxie...but little else. Try as I might, his argument seems to be akin to suggesting we embrace more of the same despite lacking the evidence needed to substantiate doing so. Truth be told, when the average American looks back on the Bush years...and compares where he or she now stands financially...there should be little doubt that the bubble has burst and the bank account is bleak.

I suspect most Americans will be hard pressed to get on board with a "new-tax-cut riff" when they come to the realization that its being brazenly advanced by those individuals who were fortunate enough to actually benefit measurably from the last round of the Bush administration's "conning-me-economy".

As I recall, the average family received approximately $650 in tax savings. The relevant question is whether one believes the resulting economy continued to enrich the average American or merely those wealthy individuals who received the lion's share of the savings.

Think about it...don't those individuals promoting another round of "trickle-down" tax cuts have to be better off now than they were seven years ago? If they are, then why should the average American (who isn't better off) be in favor of rewarding the very people who told us the last tax cuts were an insurance policy against recession as well as a guarantee of a robust economy? How many tax cuts followed by recession do we have to have before we say never again?

Tagged as: Consumer Confidence, Economics, GDP, George W. Bush, Housing Bubble, Inflation, Interest Rates, Larry Kudlow, Recession, Stock Market, Subprime Lending, Tax Cuts, Trickle-Down, Unemployment

Daniel DiRito | November 27, 2007 | 12:45 PM | link | Comments (3)
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Prince Of Darkness Ambushes The Angelic Arkansan genre: Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Elections have a way of bringing out the beast in Bob Novak...and his latest skewering of Mike Huckabee, "The Angelic Arkansan", is a classic example of his efforts to annihilate the man he views as a threat to his current iteration of "real conservatism".

They don't call Bob Novak "The Prince of Darkness" because he's mister sunshine and rainbows. In fact, "Novakula" is often the bearer of bitter bits of bloviating aimed at anyone and anything he deems to be detrimental to his "demonic" vision of democracy.

Huckabee is campaigning as a conservative, but serious Republicans know that he is a high-tax, protectionist advocate of big government and a strong hand in the Oval Office directing the lives of Americans. Until now, they did not bother to expose the former governor of Arkansas as a false conservative because he seemed an underfunded, unknown nuisance candidate.

The rise of evangelical Christians as the force that blasted the GOP out of minority status during the past generation always contained an inherent danger: What if these new Republican acolytes supported not merely a conventional conservative but one of their own? That has happened with Huckabee, a former Baptist minister educated at Ouachita Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The danger is a serious contender for the nomination who passes the litmus test of social conservatives on abortion, gay marriage and gun control but is far removed from the conservative-libertarian model of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.

Huh? Has Bob been banished to his den of darkness for the last seven years such that he failed to witness the very same thing under the Bush presidency? While George W may lack Huckabee's holy credentials; it hasn't prevented him from administering his own version of virtuous values. In fact, our sitting president (the one who imagines himself seated next to the almighty) has a penchant for political pontificating that clearly crosses the line of live and let live conservatism and likely set the bar for those who now embrace the likes of Governor Huckabee.

If George Bush's promises to act as a uniter and not a divider are the template for compassionate conservatism, then Mike Huckabee is simply taking the next step to insure the inevitable biblical bliss that comes with lockstep legislation, a cash cow for faith based initiatives, loving the sinner by acting to outlaw the lifestyle, the imperial imposition of a Christian capitalist ideology coined as the exportation of freedom and democracy, and the busting of the bank in order to buttress one's beliefs.

Who would respond to criticism from the Club for Growth by calling the conservative, free-market campaign organization the "Club for Greed"? That sounds like Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich or John Edwards, all Democrats preaching the class struggle. In fact, the rejoinder comes from Mike Huckabee, who has broken out of the pack of second-tier Republican presidential candidates to become a serious contender -- definitely in Iowa and perhaps nationally.

Huckabee clearly departs from the mainstream of the conservative movement in his confusion of "growth" with "greed." Such ad hominem attacks are part of his intuitive response to criticism from the Club for Growth and the libertarian Cato Institute about his record as governor.

Quin Hillyer, a former Arkansas journalist writing in the conservative American Spectator, called Huckabee "a guy with a thin skin, a nasty vindictive streak." Huckabee's retort was to attack Hillyer's journalistic procedures, fitting a mean-spirited image when he responds to conservative criticism.

OK, I'll admit that I love it when the leaders of the once seemingly invincible klatch of conservatives and christians resort to mudslinging in order for both groups to preserve their perceived political power...and the cash they both know it can generate. Poor Bob must be beside himself now that the evangelical segment of the GOP coalition is finally clamoring for the results they've been bamboozled into believing would be delivered by their divinely driven demagogues.

Truth be told, Novak and the many other Republican revisionists who have run roughshod over these religious rabble-rousers for years are simply confounded by the fact that the chickens may have finally come home to roost. It's no surprise that the purveyors of these ideologically intransigent identities have finally reached what may be an insurmountable impasse.

Nothing shines a brighter light on hypocrisy that those moments when the compassionate christians set out to crucify their conservative conspirators...as well as when the libertarian vitriol of the consummate conservative finally calls for the cutting of the cord that has linked their aspirations for power to the politics of inviolable virtue.

Looks like a garden variety divorce to me...although I'd bet the farm that one side will scurry to slap together a new "relationship" (hint: time to invoke the evils of "icky" immigrants) and the other side will ask the almighty for an annulment in order to preserve its "papered" piety.

The following graphic summarizes the duality which is all too often inherent in these oh so dubious "deals with the devil".

The Prince Of Darkness Speaks

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Bob Novak, Club For Growth, Compassionate Conservatism, Conservatism, Democrat, Evangelicals, George W. Bush, GOP, Mike Huckabee, Religious Right, The Prince Of Darkness

Daniel DiRito | November 26, 2007 | 10:53 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Mad TV: "Umbrella" Parody - Hillary Sings "Obama" genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

This is one of the funnier Mad TV video parodies I've seen in a while. It is a parody of Rihanna's music video for the song Umbrella. In the Mad TV version titled Obama, the artist is Hillary Clinton and it includes a feature appearance by Barack Obama.

As the video unfolds, the two are apparently much more than rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination. It seems that this is one instance where Hillary would rather be "under" her formidable opponent.

For those who haven't seen the original music video for Umbrella, I've also included it below the Mad TV version.

Mad TV - Hillary Sings "Obama"

Rihanna - Umbrella

Tagged as: 2008 Presidential Election, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Humor, Mad TV, Music Video, Rihanna, Umbrella

Daniel DiRito | November 26, 2007 | 8:17 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Elite genre: Front and Center & Snapshot Thoughts

Store signage - London, England, 2004
If I Know You Are An Elitist, What Am I?

Daniel DiRito | November 21, 2007 | 9:05 PM | link | Comments (0)
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A Thanksgiving Wish genre: Happy Remembrances & Rhyme-N-Reason & Snapshot Thoughts

I'm not a big fan of the way we celebrate holidays...especially the focus that is placed on the commercial aspects. In my own way, I have made them all about a celebration of people I have known who are no longer here. Thanksgiving for me is about my friend Mike who died on October 27, 1995. The following poem is from a card Mike made before he died that he asked me to send out on Thanksgiving if it turned out that he didn't live that long.

Maybe that's when I began to make holidays about the dead. In making cards to send out even after he died, Mike kept giving of himself even though he was no longer with us. His insightful gesture captured the essence of remembrance...found in our ability to give and receive even though we no longer share the same existence...but all the while sharing something far more valuable...our humanity. I am thankful to have known Mike and so many others who have left this world and I celebrate them all each day.

Fountain in Auckland - 2005

A man searched for a gift to give
To a troubled, divided and despairing world
A token to radiate his unfailing hope
For better things, for better times;
A gift to becalm the tormented soul
Of a world suffering from its own inhumanities
A gesture, perhaps, to give a voice
To his fervent yearning for a mood of peace;
Something to express what he could not say:
That universal love for man must survive.
Yet he found no gift, no token, no gesture -
Nothing in the shops, nothing in the faces,
And wept at the futility of his search,
Not knowing he had it - the gift of himself.

Daniel DiRito | November 21, 2007 | 8:19 PM | link | Comments (0)
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Faith vs. Fact: No To Science - The Bible Tells Me So? genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Six Degrees of Speculation

United Nations

I’ve noticed a disquieting trend on a number of important issues with regards to those on the right. In summary form, the trend is to discount scientific evidence while promoting faith based biblical theories in order to advance a narrow ideological agenda.

The most recent example is the response to a report to be issued by the United Nations in which the organization will lower its’ estimates on the size and scope of the AIDS epidemic. Pouncing quickly, many on the right wasted little time in using the revelation to conclude that the UN’s data on global warming must therefore also be inaccurate...or fabricated.

Let me be clear. I’m not suggesting that the United Nations is beyond reproach or that they should be excused if, in fact, they chose to inflate their estimates in order to draw more attention and more funding to the AIDS crisis. Such actions are not justifiable and they only serve to undermine the organization’s credibility and the severity of the problem.

At the same time, the UN’s actions aren’t any more egregious than the efforts of the Bush administration to convince Americans that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Frankly, with the latter, the outcome wasn’t to revise the number of WMD’s found downward…the outcome revealed that the WMD’s didn’t actually exist and new justifications were hastily pulled from thin air.

As such, why would those who doubt the UN’s data, and seek to use one reevaluation of a decades long problem as the means to discredit all of the organization's other opinions, still hold firm and fast to supporting a President and his many policies which have been proven to be blatantly wrong on numerous occasions? My own answer to this question is premised upon the notion that many people of faith would rather defend those amongst us who have been discredited or found to have been deceitful than to admit that their reliance upon faith, and their belief in those who espouse it as fact, may be a suspect construct.

It seems to me that, all too often, people of faith adopt an all or nothing perspective on issues, which simply precludes the possibility of rational debate and reasoned dialogue. While the AIDS crisis and global warming may eventually be determined to be less dire than once thought; why should this action, on the part of the United Nations, to correct a misconception lead us to conclude that we can’t or shouldn’t continue to acknowledge the seriousness and severity that does exist? Should a revision from 40 million infected to 33 million infected lead us to conclude that AIDS isn’t an epidemic in need of immediate and significant attention and funding?

Let’s look at a comparison. We’re currently spending over 10 billion dollars a month on the war in Iraq…a war that was initiated with reliance upon questionable data. On the other hand, the United States just recently committed to spend 15 billion dollars over five years to combat AIDS in Africa. Here’s the issue. AIDS has been a known killer of millions for over twenty years. Now that the UN has concluded its data may be inaccurate, are we also supposed to halt our funding? If so, then why do we continue to support funding for the war in Iraq?

And why the need to use the revised AIDS statistics as the impetus to assail the United Nations warnings about global warming? Is global warming a secular issue? Will rising sea levels only impact the non-believers? Are we to believe that faith will be sufficient to combat our disregard for the planet? Did god give us this domain to do with as we wished without regard for preserving and protecting it? Where in the bible can I find these seemingly inconsistent values?

Sadly, the battle isn’t limited to these two high profile situations. We’ve witnessed the same dynamic with regards to evolution and intelligent design; with regards to abstinence programs and sex education which includes information about contraception and the distribution of condoms; with regards to abortion and the administration of Plan B contraceptives to victims of rape; with regards to teen promiscuity and the new vaccination for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) to prevent cervical cancer; with regards to Terri Schiavo and end of life issues; with regards to stem cell research and the need to treat life threatening diseases and illnesses.

In the end, faith is not fact and while everyone is entitled to the faith of his or her choice; the choices of the citizenry should not be precluded by the faith of the few. Science needn’t be challenged simply because it fails to support one’s faith. In truth, as I understand it, acts of faith, by their nature, are not predicated upon fact…they are acts of belief premised upon religious values which can and should withstand the challenges of our imperfect human condition.

At the same time, because faith cannot be factually infallible, this nation established a separation between church and state, which afforded each individual the right to adopt the faith they preferred while preventing and protecting the individual from the narrow imposition of the precepts of any particular religious ideology. As such, our forefathers chose to establish governance based upon an adherence to that which could be determined factually while being careful to allow the individual to adopt and abide by their elected, and often disparate, religious beliefs.

Until this nation recommits to this formative construct, we will continue to indiscriminately attach ourselves to each news report that affords us the opportunity to advance narrow and nescient belief systems. At some point, faith must again become a bond of belief between the individual and his or her god…one that actually offers the comfort that is promised to come from a true act of faith. If this cannot be achieved, then perhaps its time we admit that we have abandoned true faith for that which can be falsely forced upon others in order to convince us that it must be fact. In the end, if one’s god exists, then putting forth the former while succumbing to the latter will do little more than sever us from the salvation we’re purportedly seeking.

Tagged as: Africa, AIDS, Evangelicals, Faith, George Bush, Global Warming, HIV, Iraq, Religion, Religious Right, UN, United Nations, Weapons Of Mass Destruction, WMD's

Daniel DiRito | November 20, 2007 | 11:14 AM | link | Comments (2)
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Follow The $: Yes - Tainted Toys; No - Cheaper Meds genre: Econ-Recon & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Six Degrees of Speculation

Follow The Money

Time has a way of exposing inconsistencies...and when it does, it often shines a bright light upon previously ignored or hidden hypocrisies. For me, Thursday's Democratic debate helped crystallize my thoughts on one of those situations.

We've all heard plenty about the tainted toys being imported from China...toys which have been recalled due to lead content and other dangerous chemicals harmful to America's children. As the candidates were debating the merits of our trade agreements, it occurred to me that the response of the Bush administration to the questionable imports warranted further analysis.

Following an exchange on the topic of our existing trade agreements and whether they provide the mechanisms necessary to monitor and penalize the improper acts (like the exportation of dangerous toys) of those nations and companies (often American owned) doing business in those countries, I took particular notice of Senator Biden's comments.

After a number of the candidates expressed their criticism of the handling of the imported toys as well as NAFTA and CAFTA (the trade agreements typically associated with questionable trade issues), Biden offered the following with regard to the outrage at the lack of response to the toys in question:

From The New York Times:

SEN. BIDEN: Look, it's not the agreement; it's the man. Under the WTO, we can shut this down. What are they all talking about here? It's about a president who won't enforce the law. (Applause.) When they contaminated chicken, what happened? They cut off all chickens going in from Delaware -- a $3 billion industry -- into China. They cut it off. We have power under the -- this agreement. I don't know what anybody's talking about here. Enforce the agreement.

MR. BLITZER: Thank you.

SEN. BIDEN: Shut it down. (Applause.)

As I listened, I recalled another situation which I think even better demonstrates the inconsistencies of the current administration with regard to trade and the safety and protection of the American public...one that exposes a level of hypocrisy that we shouldn't accept from our government.

Following the passage of President Bush's Medicare prescription drug benefit in 2003...and in response to the President's insistence upon a provision to prevent Medicare from negotiating bulk discounts for drugs...there was a push in the Congress to allow the importation of cheaper prescription drugs from Canada in order to assist those in need of less expensive drugs. As it was being discussed, the President threatened to veto legislation which would enable Americans to import prescription drugs from Canada. Back then, he stated he would do so because there would be no way for the FDA to insure the safety of the drugs which would be imported.

When the issue resurfaced earlier this year, the President once again promised to veto the proposed legislation; arguing that it would risk the importation of "unsafe, unapproved, and counterfeit drugs".

In the absence of sufficient comparisons, one might be inclined to believe that the President's persistent opposition to imported drugs signals his concern for the safety of the American public...and while I'm sure such concerns exist and may well be sincere...they may not be the primary motivation. I contend that the tepid response to the importation of dangerous toys from China provides an important comparison...one that is necessary to identify an inconsistency...and therefore serves to illuminate an obvious hypocrisy.

Here's the thing. There are millions of elderly and poor Americans lacking sufficient insurance coverage and in need of affordable medications. The fact that our President refuses to allow these individuals to purchase drugs from Canada...drugs that Canadians apparently trust and drugs which no doubt keep Canadians well...speaks to one underlying motive. Isn't is probable that the President's opposition to the importation of Canadian medications is first and foremost about protecting the profits of large drug companies who charge Americans premium prices for their medications? Keep in mind this is the same President who also vetoed legislation to extend health care coverage to more of America's poor children. As I look at these issues in conjunction with the measures to insure the safety of imported toys, I struggle to reconcile the contradictions.

One must question the lack of substantive action on the part of the Bush administration with regard to tainted toys from China...toys that are often manufactured in China by large corporations seeking cheap labor and higher profits. If we're willing to make the argument that it is prudent to prevent ill Americans from obtaining Canadian medications that are arguably safe and beneficial, then why aren't we also acting forcefully and preemptively to protect healthy American children and prevent them from obtaining unsafe toys manufactured in China?

I'll answer my own question. We do so because the Bush administration places more weight upon cozying up to corporate interests and protecting their profits than he does upon looking out for the welfare of American citizens. Should the two concerns intersect, all the better; should they not, then we apparently turn a blind eye to danger.

Toss in the fact that we are constantly being bombarded by the Bush administration's mantra that they're fighting the war on terror in Iraq (at a cost of 10 billion per month) in order to protect Americans at home and the breadth and depth of this President's efforts to distort and deceive suddenly becomes crystal clear. Protecting Americans ought to extend beyond the concerns for the coffers of corporate collaborators and the political aspirations of those who have found that fueling fear wins elections.

If this represents the manner in which the Bush administration intends to execute its responsibilities to protect us and keep us secure, I'm afraid I join many Americans in believing the outcome is woefully inadequate.

Tagged as: 2008 Presidential Election, CAFTA, Canada, China, Democratic Debate Las Vegas, George Bush, Imported Prescription drugs, Iraq, Lead Tainted Toys, Multi-national Corporations, NAFTA, Prescription Drug Benefit, Trade Agreements, Veto Power, War On Terror, WTO

Daniel DiRito | November 17, 2007 | 11:05 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Norman Mailer's Prescient Thoughts On The Iraq War genre: Happy Remembrances & Just Jihad & Polispeak

While seeking a fitting tribute to Norman Mailer given his recent death, I stumbled upon the following video clips from his appearance on Charlie Rose in early 2003. On the show, Mailer provides a reasoned analysis of the merits and pitfalls of invading Iraq. Mailer's comments harken to the concerns raised by Niall Ferguson in this prior Thought Theater posting.

Both men have a keen understanding of the objectives of the Bush Doctrine...though they approach it from different perspectives. Ferguson offers the views of a studied historian and Mailer provides the perspective of a prescient thinker capable of drawing insightful and informative connections frequently missed by those in the mainstream. Notwithstanding, both men appear to reach the same conclusion...a conclusion which suggests that the active exportation of democracy is likely a futile effort. Both men also touch upon the flawed logic behind the initiation of preemptive military actions in response to perceived fears.

Mailer's words in 2003 ought to instruct us well into the future and offer an important warning about the risks of losing the nobility of democracy and acceding to the lure of fascism. His comment that an invasion of Iraq is apt to be the start of something that we cannot finish without changing the nature of American democracy may someday be hailed as one of the most omniscient and prevailing perceptions offered in modern American history.

His anticipatory thoughts on Iraq with regard to it's position in the world political equation are astounding and when they are compared with the logic of the neoconservatives, his amazing visionary capabilities are illuminated. His conclusion about the nature of democracy is nothing short of brilliant and a rational review of the status of our efforts to export it to Iraq highlight the very concerns Mailer raised when he suggested that the Bush administration ultimately sought to change the nature of American life. Nearly five years after Mailer offered these thoughts, one would be hard pressed to refute his hypothesis or the ample evidence of an eroding democracy at home which exists to support it.

Flawed as he was, the magnitude of Mailer's life...and what was lost with his death...will undoubtedly become more evident with the passage of time.

Norman Mailer Discusses Iraq With Charlie Rose - Part One

Norman Mailer Discusses Iraq With Charlie Rose - Part Two

Tagged as: Charlie Rose, Democracy, George W. Bush, Iraq, Neoconservatism, Niall Ferguson, Norman Mailer

Daniel DiRito | November 13, 2007 | 10:27 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Niall Ferguson: After The Bush Doctrine genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

While many Americans are of the belief that the upcoming 2008 election will signal a new direction in U.S. foreign policy, there is little reason to conclude that the actions and implications of the Bush Doctrine can be reversed in short order. In order to understand the future, one must frequently consult the past.

In the following video, Niall Ferguson, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, historian, and author of Colossus: The Price of America's Empire, offers an informed conceptual analysis of U.S. foreign policy focused upon the meaning and implications of what has come to be known as the Bush Doctrine. Ferguson points that this doctrine is premised upon three basic principles. They are as follows:

1. Preemption: The need to act against emerging threats before they are fully formed.

2. Unilateralism: The right to act alone against perceived threats.

3. Bringing the hope of democracy and free trade to all corners of the world...and standing for the rule of law, free speech, freedom of worship, equal justice, respect for women, religious and ethnic tolerance, and respect for public and private property.

Ferguson proceeds to explain the good and bad news associated with these goals and the various resources and costs which would be necessary to implement them...paying particular attention to the third goal. Ferguson believes this final objective is most constrained by financial considerations that would most likely exceed the capability of the behemoth U.S. economy.

Ferguson also points to three other deficit areas that would likely constrain the U.S. from achieving the goals of the Bush Doctrine. They include a manpower deficit, an attention deficit, and a legitimacy deficit. In listening to Ferguson, it becomes apparent that he views the legitimacy deficit as the prevailing obstacle to the ongoing pursuit of the Bush Doctrine.

Ferguson talks about manpower with relation to the war in Iraq and the latest surge...noting that the U.S. troop reduction in 2005 led to increasing violence and conflict. He notes that the current surge has improved the conditions in Iraq...which clearly points to the manpower requirements necessary to achieve the goals of the Bush Doctrine.

Ferguson continues with a comprehensive analysis well worth viewing by anyone looking to gain a full understanding of the United States foreign policy considerations, our status with other nations, and the factors which must be considered as we move forward in an ever more complex world.

He pays particular attention to dissecting the false notions that make the Bush Doctrine (especially the Cheney driven belief that we must view future 9/11's as 100% probable and act accordingly) a suspect policy objective premised upon a number of faulty assumptions. From there, Ferguson takes a look at the future considerations and the issues which may soon face the United States and the world.

Tagged as: Bush Doctrine, China, Foreign Policy, George W. Bush, History, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Niall Ferguson, Preemption

Daniel DiRito | November 10, 2007 | 11:25 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Introducing James Roy - Rise Above genre: Gaylingual & Tuned Out & Video-Philes

I love music and I've tried to included a lot of it here at Thought Theater. Today, I'm including the first artist that I actually know...and one well deserving of the attention. James Roy isn't widely known...yet...but he ought to be. Aside from liking James the person, I like his music and I love his lyrics.

I first met James in a club in Denver through a mutual friend. As I was traveling around the world in 2005, James and I exchanged emails after my friend assured James I wasn't a loon with an agenda. I simply wanted to know more about the person who sang the words that spoke to me. Ever since, we've kept in contact.

I've followed James' career and the release of his CD's as well as his first music video. When I started Thought Theater, I told James I would be happy to do a posting to introduce my readers to his music...and I'm happy to say that day has arrived.

With the recent debate in the LGBT community over the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)...a debate which has been spirited and divisive at times...it seemed like the right moment to introduce James and his thoughtful and insightful words and images...words and images that speak to many of the issues that mean so much to the LGBT community.

I strongly recommend that readers visit James' website here...as well as his MySpace page here. He also has a microsite...here...that features the many remix tracks for his song, Rise Above. If you go to his site and click on the music tab and scroll down to the last CD, Don't Let Me Go; that was the first promo release of James' music and the CD I purchased the night I first heard him sing.

If you like what you hear, by all means tell your friends and encourage them to visit James' site or to stop by Thought Theater and take a look-see. If you have a website or know someone who does, don't hesitate to post his music video. Oh, and most importantly, if you do like his music, by all means purchase one of his CD's.

I've included the following bio which I lifted from James' website. Following his bio are two versions of his song, Rise Above. The first is the original release and the second is the remix James is currently featuring. After the two videos, I've included a graphic I threw together which contains the lyrics to Rise Above.

From jamesroymusic.com:

Not every artist starts out as one. For James Roy, it took a four-year electrical engineering degree and a taste of the corporate world before he realized that life is more about living than trying to meet the expectations of others. In the few years that followed, he built up a studio, founded the company Blue Disco Records, Ltd., and started capturing the world around him in high-energy songs with powerful lyrics.

Each song he writes is a completely different experience - a different story, sound, and emotion - and no single track can describe the rest. From edgy and aggressive to happy and upbeat, James builds a complex and changing soundscape that is held together by one idea: that we can always try something new and from that we can learn to grow.

With the desire to make a positive impact and encourage people to think differently, James released his first music video Rise Above. Full of strong imagery and vibrant color, the video exposes his feelings about discrimination and offers the scenario of a more progressive and open-minded society. Rather than perpetuating conflict through aggression, he suggests taking a greater perspective through understanding.

Following up with his new album "begin", he continues his musical journey with a collection of songs about new experiences and self-realization. He offers the chance to look at life in a new way, with each event as a stepping-stone to the next opportunity.

James is currently growing his business through production and remix services, live performances, online distribution, and promoting his new album. Each day he takes another step in following his dreams.

James Roy - Rise Above

James Roy - Rise Above (Radikal DJ's Edit)

James Roy - Rise Above

Tagged as: GLBT, James Roy, Music, Rise Above, Same-Sex Marriage

Daniel DiRito | November 8, 2007 | 3:09 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Did Prosperity Theology Marry Prosperity Politics? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Broken Marriage?

I've long felt that many of those who freely and flamboyantly espouse religion do so to compensate for their lack of scruples with regard to the acquisition of money and power. Nothing can better assuage transgression than a marriage of convenience between sin and scripture. While we're all familiar with the seven deadly sins, I wonder if we're in the process of identifying an eighth...a super sin that has it's origin in the union of prosperity theology and prosperity politics...let's call it the sin of "prosti-peri-tution"...the willingness to sell one's soul in the pursuit of wealth and power.

Three events triggered my thoughts on the subject. First, the recent reports that Richard Roberts, the son of Oral Roberts (the man who founded Oral Roberts University) may have used his position at the university to enrich himself and his family. Second, the report that Republican Senator Chuck Grassley has launched an investigation to determine whether six prominent televangelists have inappropriately used their ministries to fund lives of luxury. The third and final item is the endorsement of Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid by one of the founding fathers of televangelism, Pat Robertson.

Before I jump any further into the topic, let me acknowledge the slippery nature of this issue...making special note of the well-meaning actions of countless religious individuals and organizations. With that said, it seems that the sins of the few often rise to the surface while the sacrifices of the many go without recognition or reward...a fitting reminder of the biblical parable of the widow's mite...the story in which Jesus acknowledges that the donation of two mites by a widow was far more meaningful than the large donations made by men of great wealth due to the fact that her gift was all the money she possessed.

For the last three decades, the religious right has made the vilification of gays and opposition to abortion the crown jewels of their crusade for the implementation of biblical law as the preeminent voice for American morality. If one tracks the progression of this movement, two outcomes have prevailed. One, a number of very powerful and influential leaders have emerged...leaders like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson...men who wield tremendous financial and political clout under the guise of creating a new moral order. Two, the Republican Party has hitched it's political fortunes (monetary support as well as electability) to the voters who comprise this powerful demographic...arguably achieving a period of significant political dominance as well as the creation of iconic evangelical political champions.

Simultaneously, the rights afforded to gays have been advanced and the right to have an abortion has been upheld despite efforts to the contrary. All the while, the Democratic Party has been portrayed as wholly unacceptable due to its permissiveness with regards to these two issues and those politicians who have affiliated with the Democratic Party have been the target of the religious right. For many years, the distinguishing battle cry of evangelicals and the GOP has been to nullify the candidacy of Democrats as allies of the immoral...leaving little, if any, room for their followers to support a Democrat.

This lockstep alliance has been characterized as the politics of principle and an unwavering commitment to long-standing Christian values. Those Democrats who have sought to breech this barrier based upon other voter considerations...including, but not limited to, economic self-interest, health care, the safety net for the elderly and the ill...have been vociferously rebuffed if they indicated or insinuated any remote support for gays or the right to have an abortion.

The equation has been an all or none calculation since the movement emerged...and for years the interests of evangelicals and the GOP were fully aligned to create a seemingly insurmountable mathematical majority. Unfortunately, as with all mirages, eventually the light shifts to illuminate an alternate reality and the house of holiness is exposed as a domicile of deceit to those whose treasure built it but were never actually invited to inhabit it. Such is the nature of manipulation and the power of those who preach purity to the proletariat while partaking of the bounty born of the blood of the beleaguered believers.

Yes, there will be those evangelical leaders who condemn the endorsement of Rudy Giuliani by Pat Robertson...at least for the moment. They will do so for obvious reasons; it undermines the decades of rigid doctrine and runs the risk of alienating the faithful. What will remain to be seen is how many other evangelical emperors will coalesce around morally "inferior" candidates in order to still suckle on the breast of bounty.

I've previously argued that men like James Dobson are in the throes of careful calculation...an effort to weigh the benefits of political power against the continuation of their cash cow coalitions. They face a vexing conundrum. If they are unable to position themselves as king makers, they run the risk of waning donations as the minions grow weary with their inability to deliver the promised land. The problem is amplified by the flawed values of the existing candidates they perceive can win next November as well as the risks of backing a sufficiently sinless second tier candidate and proving they cannot deliver the crown.

Should they abandon the party by either endorsing a second tier candidate (which obviously equates with a rejection of the perceived front runners) or by breaking from the party to endorse a third party candidate, they run the risk that the powers that be in the GOP will expose them as opportunists who have been granted deference in exchange for delivering cash and votes; only to suddenly abandon the party when all of their demands weren't met...regardless of whether that may have insured that the Democrats would gain the upper hand.

In the end, if they cannot deliver victory to the party without compromising the values they demand their followers to blindly embrace nor can they deliver victory to their followers by forcing the party to nominate a purist, their sphere of influence is greatly diminished. What remains to be seen is which potential poison they will choose. If they follow Robertson and back a flawed "winning" candidate, they preserve their influence in the party while damaging their credibility with their followers. If they reject the party's "flawed" candidate and back a third party candidate they preserve their reputations with the faithful while damaging their ability to influence the party.

Both options run the risk of working against these evangelical and political leaders and either path seems apt to eventually lessen their coffers and their power. Perhaps the question asked in the title of this posting needs to be amended. It may well be that prosperity theology and prosperity politics are far closer to a divorce than to a celebration of their long marriage. That can't be a pleasant thought for either party in this marriage of convenience.

Given the nature of the divorce equation...one which is based upon division...not multiplication...I suspect both sides are busy consulting their advisors and hoping to come away with as much of the proverbial pie as possible. I have to admit I'm looking forward to the battle and the bickering. What with gays being such a threat to marriage, they'll surely want to resolve their differences quickly...won't they?

Tagged as: Chuck Grassley, Democratic Party, Evangelicals, GOP, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, Religious Right, Richard Roberts, Rudy Giuliani, Televangelism

Daniel DiRito | November 7, 2007 | 11:49 AM | link | Comments (0)
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2007 Deadliest Year: Defining A Successful Surge? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

It's easy to get lost in the rhetoric that seeks to explain the status of the war in Iraq. Opponents and apologists alike work tirelessly to find the ammunition necessary to support their positions...yet only two thing remains a...

Tagged as: Exporting Democracy, George W. Bush, Insurgency, Iraq, Neoconservatism, Sectarian Violence, Troop Fatalities, Troop Levels, Troop Surge

Daniel DiRito | November 6, 2007 | 11:36 AM | link | Comments (1)
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Keith Olbermann Special Comment: 11/05/07 genre: Six Degrees of Speculation & Video-Philes

In light of the recent revelations related to Daniel Levin, former acting assistant attorney general for the Bush administration in 2004, Keith Olbermann cuts to the chase in a lengthy Special Comment and clearly accuses George W. Bush of...

Tagged as: Alberto Gonzales, Daniel Levin, Geneva Convention, George W. Bush, Keith Olbermann, Special Comment, Torture, Waterboarding

Daniel DiRito | November 5, 2007 | 8:19 PM | link | Comments (19)
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Feist Performs "1234" On SNL & The Late Show genre: Tuned Out & Video-Philes

Leslie Feist, who performs as Feist, appeared on Saturday Night Live last evening. Feist is a Canadian who has performed in a number of bands but surprisingly gained her fame in the United States following the use of her...

Tagged as: 1234, David Letterman, Feist, Leslie Feist, Music, Saturday Night Live, SNL, The Late Show, The Reminder

Daniel DiRito | November 4, 2007 | 11:56 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Bill Maher: New Rules - 11/02/07 genre: Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Bill Maher shares his latest rants on a number of issues including an Obama "sneak peak", Dennis Kucinich's UFO sighting, the upcoming holiday season, "tasty" Totino's pizza recall, and his dislike of chop sticks. He closes with one of...

Tagged as: Barack Obama, Bill Maher, Dennis Kucinich, Humor, Totino's Pizza

Daniel DiRito | November 4, 2007 | 11:20 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Will The U.S. Be Forced To "Pack It In" In Pakistan? genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

The problem with supporting military regimes is evidenced by the arbitrary declaration of martial law just imposed by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. What hangs in the balance is Pakistan's ability to move towards democracy and our ability to insure...

Tagged as: al Qaeda, Benazir Bhutto, Bush Administration, Condoleezza Rice, Islamists, Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, Taliban

Daniel DiRito | November 3, 2007 | 11:53 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Do Evangelicals See Africa As The Path To Theocracy? genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

I'll admit that ever since the President and the religious right adopted the AIDS crisis in Africa as one of their causes, I've been skeptical of their motivations. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate their concern for those suffering...

Tagged as: ABC, Abstinence, Africa, AIDS, Condom Distribution, Evangelicals, GLBT, Global AIDS Initiative, HIV, Homophobia, LifeSite, Religious Right, Ronald Reagan, Secularism, Uganda, UNAIDS, UNICEF, World Health Organization, Zimbabwe

Daniel DiRito | November 2, 2007 | 11:07 AM | link | Comments (0)
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Fed Finally Narrows The Gap Between Crack And Blow genre: Indie-Script & Polispeak

We've all heard the expression "justice is served"...and while most of us leave the table feeling satisfied with what we've been fed; others are forced to swallow a less than palatable plate...one that contains an inordinate amount of one...

Tagged as: Cocaine, Crack, Drug Enforcement Agency, Drugs, Mandatory Sentencing, Prison, Racial Inequality, U.S. Sentencing Commission

Daniel DiRito | November 1, 2007 | 5:54 PM | link | Comments (0)
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