Hip-Gnosis: October 2007: Archives

October 30, 2007

Costumes, The Castro, & Culture: Is Gay Passe? genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Uncivil Unions

The Castro

I'm opposed to outright gay assimilation as I view it to be a form of capitulation...an ill-advised effort to fit in if you will. In so stating, I am not suggesting that gays embrace cultural isolationism; rather I favor preserving our homosexual identity while engaging the heterosexual community in a dialogue that seeks to find common ground...ground that doesn't require us to adapt our lives to fit the heterosexual template...or visa versa.

A new article in The New York Times sheds some light on the results of gay assimilation. I believe the piece illuminates the emerging erosion of our cultural significance and how that can begin to limit our ability to not only share in society as fully equal partners, but to potentially diminish our opportunities to influence and shape its future.

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 24 — This Halloween, the Glindas, gladiators and harem boys of the Castro — along with untold numbers who plan to dress up as Senator Larry E. Craig, this year’s camp celebrity — will be celebrating behind closed doors. The city’s most popular Halloween party, in America’s largest gay neighborhood, is canceled.

or many in the Castro District, the cancellation is a blow that strikes at the heart of neighborhood identity, and it has brought soul-searching that goes beyond concerns about crime.

These are wrenching times for San Francisco’s historic gay village, with population shifts, booming development, and a waning sense of belonging that is also being felt in gay enclaves across the nation, from Key West, Fla., to West Hollywood, as they struggle to maintain cultural relevance in the face of gentrification.

In the Castro, the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society held public meetings earlier this year to grapple with such questions as “Are Gay Neighborhoods Worth Saving?"

While the Castro has been the center of a movement, it is also home to “an important political constituency," said Elizabeth A. Armstrong, an associate sociology professor at Indiana University and the author of “Forging Gay Identities: Organizing Sexuality in San Francisco 1950-1994"

“When people were angry about Dan White they were able to assemble quickly, spilling out of the bars," Professor Armstrong said. “Physical location mattered."

I contend that efforts to mimic heterosexuality lay the groundwork for our irrelevance and begin to marginalize our ability to favorably influence the political, social, and cultural climate...one which has been primarily defined by heterosexuals. Inherent in the gay rights movement is a tacit acceptance that all the rights granted to heterosexuals are appealing and therefore sought after. Unfortunately, I don't entirely accept that premise with regards to marriage and I fear that our message fosters a belief that our way of life is incomplete and can be punished by withholding the granting of those rights currently reserved for our heterosexual counterparts.

While I'm not opposed to gay marriage, I fear that making it the focal point of our agenda serves to validate the assumed superiority of the heterosexual relationship model...one that I find to be lacking and one that is likely premised upon a number of false constructs. The fact that gays appear determined to replicate heterosexual marriage seems to suggest that we believe it to be a functional institution. On the contrary, marriage statistics suggest otherwise and that fact ought to be an integral part of our strategy.

In fact, the resiliency of gays to establish functional relationships absent the accoutrements of conventional marriage may actually warrant a rethinking of heterosexual marriage in its current iteration. Let me be clear...I wholeheartedly believe our relationships should be granted the same recognition, protections, and benefits afforded to heterosexual marriages. However, the push for gay marriage seems to send the message that gays have nothing to bring to the relationship table...a conclusion I reject and a point I think merits discussion. Additionally, those who oppose gay marriage view their ability to deny it to us as giving them an added authority and a distinguishing legitimacy. I believe they needn't be granted such dominion nor should such thoughts be allowed to persist.

Frankly, gays should not only be seeking the same rights offered to heterosexual marriages but they ought to be pointing to the many flaws that accompany the institution of marriage. In doing so, the debate can begin to expand beyond the "we have it and you're not going to get it" tug of war. The prevailing argument offered by critics of gay marriage is that it will undermine heterosexual marriage and destroy the current family structure. So long as the debate remains framed this way, gays will struggle to gain traction in their push for inclusion.

The argument for gay marriage ought to be expanded beyond inclusion and into a dialogue that seeks to define what actually makes for a functional relationship and an environment that nurtures children. Clearly, the belief that one qualifies for marriage and child rearing by simply being a heterosexual is laughable and it ought to be aggressively questioned and challenged.

An ideal home environment isn't predicated upon the presence of a man and a woman; it's predicated upon an adult or two adults possessing enough maturity to understand the responsibility that comes with having children and the willingness to set aside one's own self-interests out of an unyielding love for the innocents in our midst.

Further, that love must include more than the ability to slip a child twenty dollars and send them out the door and out of our way. Far too many parents have replaced the hard work of real parenting with the ease of financial placation. Truth be told, the results of that deficient notion are coming home to roost in a never ending string of tragic events involving alienated and troubled children.

The following excerpt from The New York Times, while attempting to understand the shift in gay culture evidenced by a newly emerging generation of gays, actually hits upon the larger societal issue of isolation and lack of interpersonal involvement that results from the current heterosexual family paradigm.

An annual survey by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Community Initiative indicated that in 2007 only 36 percent of men under 29 said there was a gay community in the city with which they could identify.

Doug Sebesta, the group’s executive director and a medical sociologist at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, said, “I’ve had therapists who have told me they are asking their clients to go back to bars as a way of social interaction."

The Internet is not a replacement for a neighborhood where people are involved in issues beyond themselves, said John Newsome, an African-American who co-founded the group And Castro For All after the Badlands incident. “There are a lot of really lonely gay people sitting in front of a computer," he said.

Which is why the cancellation of the Halloween party by the city has provoked such a sense of loss. Many residents say that their night has been taken away. “It’s proof that whatever sense of safety we have is incredibly tenuous, “ Mr. Newsome said.

I would argue that the phenomenon of isolation described above is not unique to just those gays who are under the age of 29. It is indicative of society's growing disregard for the personal contact which is actually the essence of loving parenting. Those children who are now entering the world as adults are doing so absent the fundamentals which must originate in the home as a result of meaningful parent-child relationships...relationships which aren't measured by the material wherewithal of a parent to equip their children with the properly labeled clothing or the latest gadgets. While parents have found it is possible to occupy a child's time with television and computer games; they do so at the peril of their child's future ability to form functional relationships.

In our rush to define and pursue success as a one-dimensional financial calculation, we have forgotten that a child's evaluation of a successful parent is rarely dependent upon the size of mom and dad's bank account or their titles at work. Having a woman and a man identified as a mom and a dad may fit some rigid religious definitions of proper parenting but if it fails to rear an adjusted and healthy child, it ought to be seen as it is...little more than an inane adherence to established dogma.

Allowing the anti-gay zealots to assail gays while fostering dysfunctional families must cease. Gays must approach the topic of marriage, gay adoption, and parenting as a matter of measuring outcome; not as an equation of entitlement. The ability to parent isn't negated by one's sexual orientation just as good parenting isn't guaranteed by the presence of a man and a woman. For meaningful change to occur, these antiquated assumptions must be deconstructed.

America was built upon numerous cultural influences...cultures that brought differing values and perspectives to marriage and parenting. Those views enriched our society, provided a platform for dialogue, and created a curiosity which allowed us to embrace change. Instead of simply submitting to fear, many Americans found themselves enriched by exposure to the unfamiliar and it made us a better nation. The same can be true with regards to gay culture...so long as the gay community celebrates and maintains its cultural identity and isn't afraid or ashamed to stand up and speak out.

Tagged as: Child Rearing, Culture, Divorce, Gay Marriage, Halloween, Heterosexual, Homophobia, Homosexual, Intolerance, Religion, Same-Sex Adoption, Same-Sex Marriage, San Francisco, The Castro

Daniel DiRito | October 30, 2007 | 10:50 AM | link | Comments (3)
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October 20, 2007

The Last Puzzle Pieces Of A Dysfunctional Presidency? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Just Jihad & Polispeak

An interesting pattern is developing which may provide incontrovertible evidence that the Bush administration's foreign policy is an unmitigated failure. In reviewing the evidence, this failure may result from the propensity of George Bush to form opinions of foreign leaders based upon unfounded, instantaneous, and impulsive impressions.

Recent developments in our relationships with Russia and Pakistan highlight these concerns and raise doubts as to the President's ability to size-up Vladimir Putin and Pervez Musharraf. While these situations seem to have garnered less attention than the war in Iraq and the tensions with Iran and North Korea; they may soon provide the proof that George Bush's judgment is fully insufficient and fatally flawed.

Few can forget the President's glowing assessment of Vladimir Putin immediately following his first meeting with the Russian leader and former KGB agent. The President's characterization of his bonding with "Vladimir" sounded more like the musings of a smitten schoolboy than the measured and deliberate views of a world leader. Reason Magazine offered the following insight into the mechanics of this quickly blossoming bond.

This beginning of a beautiful friendship was reportedly aided by Putin's touching story of a cross which he received from his mother and which miraculously survived a fire at his summer cottage. (As one of Russia's surviving liberal commentators, Yulia Latynina, has noted, if Bush had belonged to a different faith Putin would no doubt have shared an equally touching tale about "a piece of advice given by a wise rabbi.")

Note that the basis of this kinship has its roots in a testimony of faith...and mirrors the perception that George Bush approaches most interactions with an emphasis upon religious ideology and a willingness to promote those he perceives to be like minded and loyal. Recall that the Bush administration has hired 150 individuals who graduated from of Pat Robertson's Regent University...a "fourth-tier" law school according to U.S. News & World Report.

Take a look at some of the other quotes from George Bush which support the argument that he relies upon instinct and intuition when making important and far reaching judgments.

From InCharacter:

After meeting Russian president Vladimir Putin, Mr. Bush had him sized up: “I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul."

Explaining to journalist Bob Woodward his decision to launch the Iraq War, he said, “I’m a gut player. I rely on my instincts."

The purpose of the president’s 2006 fly-in to Baghdad was, he explained to American troops, “to look Prime Minister Maliki in the eyes — to determine whether or not he is as dedicated to a free Iraq as you are." The president’s snap assessment: “I believe he is."

When interviewed on TV by Larry King, Bush confidently said, “If you make decisions based upon what you believe in your heart of hearts, you stay resolved."

Expanding on the probability that Bush miscalculated with regards to Putin, take a look at the following exchange between Garry Kasparov (who is a candidate trying to unseat Putin) and Bill Maher during last evenings edition of Real Time on HBO.

Kasparov offers a thoughtful and insightful view of Putin which seems to have eluded George Bush throughout his involvement with the increasingly authoritarian Russian leader. Recent events seem to support Kasparov's convincing argument that Putin masterfully manipulated George Bush. No doubt that should leave the American public all the more concerned and even more anxious for the President's second term to end.

Should anyone doubt the extent to which George Bush may have miscalculated with regards to Putin and his ambitions, the Washington Times aptly fills in the blanks.

From The Washington Times:

Russian President Vladimir Putin's invitation to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit to Moscow is just the latest sign that, more than 16 years after the collapse of Soviet Communism, Moscow is gravitating towards Cold War behavior. The old Soviet obsession — fighting American "imperialism" — remains undiluted. "Keeping the relationship with Washington on the verge of a crisis and inventing an imaginary 'American enemy' is creating much-needed legitimacy for the current Russsian leadership, which now has only Mr. Putin's personal popularity as its political base," observes Heritage Foundation scholar Ariel Cohen.

Indeed, at virtually every turn, Mr. Putin and the Russian leadership appear to be doing their best in ways large and small to marginalize and embarrass the United States and undercut U.S. foreign policy interests. [...]

The Russian strongman has threatened to retarget Russia's missiles at Europe if missile defenses are deployed there. Mr. Putin has also threatened to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty signed by Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and President Reagan (the INF treaty eliminated Soviet-era SS-20 missiles and U.S. Pershing II missiles deployed in Europe.) And he has also threatened to pull out of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty limiting force levels between the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea.

[...] Although Moscow has supported earlier sanctions against Iran (after lobbying to water sanctions down), Mr. Putin invited Mr. Ahmadinejad to the Russian capital in an effort to undercut U.S. efforts to isolate Tehran in response to its nuclear weapons program and its role as a state sponsor of terrorism. On Tuesday, speaking at a conference in Tehran involving nations that border the Caspian Sea, the Russian leader warned the United States against a military strike against Iran's illicit nuclear facilities, And along with the leaders of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, Mr. Putin backed the right of Iran to develop so-called peaceful nuclear energy — in essence, adopting Tehran's false assertions that it isn't attempting to obtain nuclear weapons.

But for the most part, Mr. Putin is working to damage U.S. interests, and his "anti-imperialist" policies are reminiscent of Soviet-era behavior.

Clearly Putin's recent actions aren't indicative of a sudden change of heart; rather he has merely found this moment to be the opportune time to unveil his real intentions and put the screws to his less than nimble American "friend"...the one who looked into his clever eyes and thought he saw the soul of a sincere "crony".

The fact that our President chose to characterize the potential for Iran to become a nuclear nation as the predecessor event to World War III simply gives Putin the pivotal power he seeks in order to reestablish Russia as a major player in world affairs and himself as the agent to execute that role. Putin has essentially positioned himself as a key player in any effort to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities which may well mean any peaceful resolution will have to include negotiating with Russia. Hence Putin has the leveraged position he may have been seeking from the outset.

Moving onto the President's relationship with Pakistan's Pervez Musharaff, a man George Bush called "his buddy", we see indications of the same behavior.

From India Daily:

Only time can say if the US made another mistake in Pakistan by supporting the dictatorship in Pakistan. ''Musharraf is a strong ally in the war against these extremists. I like him and I appreciate him,'' Bush said.

Bush also called Musharraf a partner in the promotion of democracy. "I''m of course, constantly working with him to make sure that democracy continues to advance in Pakistan. He's been a valuable ally in rejecting extremists. And that's important, to cultivate those allies," he said.

As one looks at the increasingly dicey situation in Pakistan, one is forced to wonder if our blind allegiance to Musharraf has precluded our maneuverability. Despite all of the gratuitous rhetoric about democracy, the people of Pakistan increasingly resent the fact that the United States has hitched its wagon to a leader who took power through a military coup and has thwarted efforts to conduct a legitimately democratic election.

History tells us that Pakistan has the makings of previous U.S. foreign policy disasters whereby we have propped up dictators who we feel we can manage...all the while doing so at the expense of wholesale unrest amongst the inhabitants of those nations. Iran is the first to come to mind and we all know that dangerous story is still unfolding. The fact that Pakistan is a nuclear nation only exacerbates the concerns. Take a look at some excerpts from a recent article in The New York Times.

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 — The scenes of carnage in Pakistan this week conjured what one senior administration official on Friday called “the nightmare scenario" for President Bush’s last 15 months in office: Political meltdown in the one country where Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and nuclear weapons are all in play.

White House officials insisted in interviews that they had confidence that their longtime ally, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, would maintain enough control to keep the country stable as he edged toward a power-sharing agreement with his main rival, Benazir Bhutto.

But other current and former officials cautioned that the administration had invested so much in General Musharraf’s success that its leverage was now limited. Similarly, they and Pakistan experts said that a series of policy miscalculations had left the administration with few good options.

They contended that the administration was surprised by how quickly domestic support for General Musharraf eroded, and that it was slow to act on warnings dating to 2004 that the administration had built too much of its policy around a single Pakistani leader. That over-reliance meant that a more coherent policy was never fully fashioned.

Some officials fear that a year of unrest, violence and political intrigue in Pakistan could undercut President Bush’s last chance to root out Osama bin Laden from the lawless territory where Al Qaeda has regrouped, and could cripple a renewed administration effort to turn around Afghanistan.

Today, despite the administration’s heavy reliance on General Musharraf, the tribal areas are a base for a revitalized Qaeda, which has created a new command structure and is again planning international attacks, according to a National Intelligence Estimate issued in July, parts of which the administration published in an unclassified form.

So the stakes in Pakistan reach well beyond its own borders. Not only is it possible that a relatively moderate nation may be in the process of a radical transformation towards Islamic extremism, our support for an unpopular leader may be facilitating that shift and laying the groundwork for Pakistan to become a reconstituted Afghanistan under the prevailing influences of both the Taliban and al Qaeda.

Efforts to include former leader Benazir Bhutto in a newly formed government may be too little too late as anything remotely endorsed by Musharraf may be viewed to be too closely directed by the United States. Since Bhutto is popular with Pakistan's moderates and arguably viewed as a strong proponent for democracy, were her role in a shared leadership to be seen as capitulation to a plan guided by the United States, it may precipitate the wholesale embracing of those extremists who renounce the perceived meddling of the West in the region.

I contend that those who have relied on the relatively moderate temperament of the Pakistani population as grounds for continued support of Musharraf and the gradual move towards democratization may fail to realize that all of the ingredients for radicalization are present in this increasingly unstable nation. Should the circumstances continue to fuel the fire, the recipe will not only take shape, but the finished product will turn out to be a culinary catastrophe we can't swallow.

Frankly, the situations with Putin and Musharraf are reminiscent of many other instances of stubborn bravado and blind loyalty that have typified the Bush administration. When persistent intransigence is accompanied by the isolation it naturally engenders, the path to rational and reasoned objectivity is often erased. Worse yet, it frequently happens unconsciously.

In the end, its as if the President all too often confronts issues by first defining his own intuited reality and then proceeds to operate as if it is the equivalent of the proverbial "gospel truth". As such, adjustments are grudgingly made only when the prevailing facts become completely incontrovertible and the circumstance are utterly untenable. By that time, the damage has been done and the costs have been incurred.

With approximately fifteen months to go, we can only hope that George Bush won't have the opportunity or the inclination to further exercise his suspect abilities to discern friend from foe.

Tagged as: Afghanistan, al Qaeda, Bill Maher, Foreign Policy, Garry Kasparov, George W. Bush, Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, Russia, Taliban

Daniel DiRito | October 20, 2007 | 12:16 PM | link | Comments (1)
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October 17, 2007

Top 10 Reasons George Bush Appointed Susan Orr genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek

Access To The Eggs

I've come to realize that one must avoid the inclination to be shocked or surprised by the actions of the Bush administration. Today's reported appointment of Susan Orr to head the Department of Health and Human Services family planning program is just another in a long string of head scratchers.

Susan Orr, most recently an associate commissioner in the Administration for Children and Families, was appointed Monday to be acting deputy assistant secretary for population affairs. She will oversee $283 million in annual grants to provide low-income families and others with contraceptive services, counseling and preventive screenings.

In a 2001 article in The Washington Post, Orr applauded a Bush proposal to stop requiring all health insurance plans for federal employees to cover a broad range of birth control. "We're quite pleased, because fertility is not a disease," said Orr, then an official with the Family Research Council.

"We have another appointment that just truly politicizes family planning," said Mary Jane Gallagher, president of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. "The last time I looked, both Republicans and Democrats used contraception in America."

Orr is a former employee of the Family Research Council, a right wing group founded by James Dobson of Focus on the Family and currently headed by Tony Perkins. The group has used the research of discredited psychologist Paul Cameron to promote their anti-gay agenda as well as to promote other extreme positions of the far right. Need I say more?

I think not. Instead, I decided to have some fun with the appointment so I created the following top ten reasons George W. Bush appointed a birth-control opponent to head the family planning program at the Department of Health and Human Services:

Number Ten:

He's simply trying to be consistent with his disdain for the "politics of obstruction".

Number Nine:

Ever since hearing the band "Rhythm Method" perform, his views on family planning were changed forever.

Number Eight:

The President doesn't like to make the same mistake twice...therefore he accepts that Iraq didn't have...STD's (or was that WMD's?) so he's sure as hell not going to support the meme that people who use condoms won't acquire them either.

Number Seven:

Ever since the Iran-Contra Affair, the President has been opposed to the government having any involvement with "contra-ception".

Number Six:

His father hated broccoli...he hates "condom-ments".

Number Five:

The President opposes a draft because he believes its a free country...but not when it comes to having children. We're going to need every soldier we can get to man his planned fifty year presence in Iraq.

Number Four:

He thinks getting your tubes tied has to do with restricting access to the "internets".

Number Three:

The President previously stated, "Too many OBGYN's aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." To make that happen, he has a vision in mind and Susan Orr is the best person to bring his plan to fruition.

Number Two:

The President is willing to expand poor children's access to health care through S-CHIP...but not unless he has some guarantee that the country is going to have a lot more of them.

Number One:

In order to insure unencumbered access to the "eggs", the President believes the fox should guard the hen house.

Tagged as: Abstinence, Contraception, Department of HHS, Family Research Council, George W. Bush, Humor, James Dobson, Paul Cameron, Susan Orr

Daniel DiRito | October 17, 2007 | 1:02 PM | link | Comments (2)
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October 12, 2007

Ann Coulter...Perfected!? - I Don't Think So! genre: Hip-Gnosis & Snapshot Thoughts & Tongue-In-Cheek

Ann Coulter is back in the news...duh! The following video clip is from the CNBC show, The Big Idea, hosted by Donny Deutsch. As Deutsch gave Ann Coulter the opportunity to describe her ideal America, she made the statement that her preferred image of America (and heaven) would be like the Republican National Convention in New York..."happy, joyful Republicans in the greatest city in the world".

Pressed to explain her idyllic world, she suggests that all Americans should be Christians...and that Jews simply need to be "perfected". Sensing Deutsch's surprise at what he obviously hears as a narrow and judgmental view, she argues that her visits to Christian megachurches leads her to conclude that they are in fact very accepting and diverse. I suspect Coulter was actually being candid and offering a glimpse of her true feelings rather than attempting to launch into a provocative screed.

I also accept her sincerity regarding her experiences at megachurches. Clearly one would expect the kinship of their Christianity to supersede their differences. It is the essence of their beliefs and it is what has defined them and made them a formidable political force. Frankly, their Christian beliefs serve to overshadow all other aspects of their lives..which helps explain their presumed need to convert all others to Christianity...a purpose I contend is an attempt to remove the dissonance which exists from the knowledge that others do not share their beliefs.

With this understanding, it isn't difficult to conclude that Coulter's remarks were the expression of an earnest, though ill-informed view...one that fails to see the arrogance that accompanies a statement that all Americans should be Christians. I have no doubt it simply reflects her core beliefs and demonstrates the danger of the angst which results from this pervasive need for uniformity. In other words, acceptance stops at the waters edge (Christianity) which compels Christians to pursue the conversion of others.

While those efforts are undertaken with sincerity, they also communicate an air of righteous disregard. I believe this explains Coulter's apparent surprise at Deutsch's recoiling. I think one can see that she quickly perceives her own blind spot...which leads her to attempt to pull back and explain her statement following the commercial break.

As she tries to elaborate, she suggests that Jews, per the constructs of Christian beliefs, need to be "perfected". She continues by telling Deutsch that the notion of "perfecting" isn't offered pejoratively...it is simply the means to explain the process and the journey by which any individual would arrive at Christianity. As she describes it, Christians have not only joined Jews in embracing the Old Testament; they simply have taken the additional step of accepting the New Testament...meaning they believe that Christ was the son of God sent to die for all of our sins.

Strange as this may seem, I found the interview to be one of the rare moments where we see the real Ann Coulter exposed. While I find her comments abrasive and insensitive, it isn't because I believe her to be anti-Semitic. She is simply the product of Christian ideology which would arguably treat all non-Christians similarly. I don't condone the mind set, but I think Coulter simply stated the obvious...that being that Christians, not unlike those who embrace Catholic doctrine, believe their faith is the only path to salvation and see nothing wrong with stating as much. In my opinion, that is why religion is so dangerous.

While many may see Coulter's remarks as the hoped for opportunity to bring her down, the significance of her remarks is beyond her as an individual. Bizarre as this may sound, I thank Coulter for speaking her truth...because it exposes a much more disquieting truth. In fact, it provides a brief glimpse of the core problem facing this country and the world...a growing degree of theological intransigence which has become the justification for an escalating clash of religions...religions which have conversion and compliance as their fundamental objectives.

Coulter's rhetoric and her rogue identity are ultimately little more than the epitome of a blind allegiance to a narrow ideology. Coulter invoked a Seinfeld episode to support her argument, so I think it only fair to close with one of my own. Ann Coulter and many others, who have forfeited their autonomy to a rigid set of religious precepts, are, in the end, no longer "masters of their own domain".

I created the graphic below to demonstrate the propensity of individuals to overlay humanity with any number of religious constructs in the belief that one is superior to the other. I cant imagine an all knowing god condoning our efforts to assert that one sect has eminence over all of the others. I see man's efforts to do so as an extreme depiction of our ever expanding arrogance. I struggle to see what would be so wrong with simply honoring the sanctity of humanity.

Ann Coulter Perfected?

Tagged as: Ann Coulter, Bible, Catholicism, Donny Deutsch, Evangelism, Jewish, New Testament, Old Testament, Religion

Daniel DiRito | October 12, 2007 | 9:20 AM | link | Comments (0)
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October 10, 2007

Humanity: Can We See The Forest For The Trees? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation

Can We See The Forest For The Trees

We've all heard the expression, "Can't see the forest for the trees". It's simple yet poignant, and it's message is abundantly accurate...yet all too often ignored. In the last few days, all I've been able to see is the forest...not because I possess prescient abilities or feel that I'm above the fray; rather because there are times when the fray is so disheartening that I'm pushed over the edge into what I have long called my moments of hyper-reality...those periods of time when I let myself see and feel all that I've learned to suppress in accordance with the rules we've established and accepted in this sometimes all too calloused existence.

Look, I'm no angel and I'm not writing this to garner any accolades or to assert any position of advanced awareness. More likely, I'm writing to purge what feels like a persistent period of ad hominem attacks and the hatred which now accompanies our efforts to extend one groups hegemony over another.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy robust dialogue and I'm more than willing to engage in an argument. Notwithstanding, I ultimately attempt to see others as more than objects in an elaborate chess game...pawns one can sacrifice in order to succeed. Yes, it is a slippery slope because we all encounter individuals we believe exert more influence over our environment than we believe is reasonable...which leads us to conclude it is a right or even a requirement to undermine or end their authority.

In a representative government, we enlist others to act as our emissaries and we hope they do so with conscience and consideration. Unfortunately, there are times when the divisions are so pronounced that elections serve to embolden one faction while negating another. Sadly, America seems to be locked in that dynamic and I'm not optimistic our intentions or our efforts are designed to extinguish it.

Let me provide some context. I don't understand what is sought or achieved in making the wearing of a lapel pin a relevant measure of a presidential candidate's patriotism...in reducing one's support or objection to the Iraq war to a debate about whether we issue a congressional condemnation of a political advertisement by MoveOn.org and/or the political ramblings of Rush Limbaugh...in drafting lists of Republicans and Democrats who have committed crimes or ill-advised acts in order to paint half of America's beliefs as wrong and half as right...in assaulting the credibility of a twelve year old boy and his family in Baltimore in order to determine the threshold by which our nation intends to extend access to necessary health care...in pointing to the circumstances behind the death of a minister in Alabama as the means to invalidate the agenda of the religious right or those opposed to them and their agenda...in arguing that a poster using the imagery of The Last Supper for a gay event in San Francisco either proves or disproves that gays are anti-Christian and therefore either good or bad people.

As I was thinking about all of these issues and getting ready for bed last night, I wrote down the following words, "Can we actually argue that we love America if we spend so much of our time hating so many other Americans? Does America even exist if our perceptions of her and what she represents are so polarized? When did we stop being the United States of America?"

Frankly, I've begun to think that America has become the equivalent of two people locked in a surly and pathetic marriage...one in which the participants have become so resentful that neither side has any interest in communicating; rather each side rails on endlessly about each and every aspect of the other such that little, if anything, about the other remains acceptable or warrants anything but ridicule and abject animosity.

I don't know what we want anymore...and in saying as much it becomes evident that just seeing the forest doesn't cure what ails the trees which inhabit it. What once were similar beings weathering the same storms, being nourished from the same soil, drinking from the same stream, have seemingly become twisted and gnarly protrusions...self-absorbed and obtuse...fighting for their share of the sun while wantonly casting shadows of immense darkness.

Worse yet, what lies beneath is even more convoluted and entangled...a mess of barnacled beliefs entwined in a battle for validation...each day more entrenched...locked in a deadly game of tug of war...one that advances out of sight but is clearly marked by the heaving soil upon which we walk and have apparently come to accept. Passed from tree to tree like an insidious disease, death is measured in agonizing inches...a slow yet certain culling of those less able or less willing to defend against the ever advancing encroachments.

Like an overgrown forest, there is no time to mourn the dead...the fallen become fodder for the formative saplings who grow stronger in their beliefs as they are encouraged to feast upon the carnage...each tribe elated at the other's loss...each death an opportunity to acquire more literal and figurative territory...each birth an affirming act and a source of hope that the tribe will one day defeat the demon and thus be granted their deserved dominion.

In a world where gardens have given way to garrisons, what we cultivate is more apt to kill than to coddle. Instead of giving thanks for the bounty mother earth provides, we beseech her to yield to our demands and then we ignore her cries for consideration. Are we not a species out of sync with our world? If we are, then did we not become so by first being a society in the throes of a self-sustaining suicide spiral?

In this last man standing mind set, there may be a survivor...but rest assured there will be no solace and no salvation. Humanity may continue to build its future on the bones of the beleaguered, but when that task is completed, our humanity will be nowhere to be found. I weep at the thought.

Tagged as: Barack Obama, Folsom Street Fair, Gary Aldridge, Graeme Frost, Humanity, MoveOn.org, Rush Limbaugh

Daniel DiRito | October 10, 2007 | 9:13 AM | link | Comments (0)
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October 4, 2007

Actor Vs. King: Fred Thompson Slams James Dobson genre: Hip-Gnosis & Video-Philes

Cancel the honeymoon...the wedding is off. After waiting for months for Fred Thompson to enter the GOP presidential primary, it appears that the bloom is already off the rose.

OK, I know it's wrong to enjoy watching the spats of others...but I have to admit that the brouhaha between James Dobson and Fred Thompson has me giggling. The dust up began with the following statement by Mr. Dobson in which he unequivocally states that he can't support Thompson as the future "prime time" president.

From CBN News:

"Isn't Thompson the candidate who is opposed to a constitutional amendment to protect marriage, believes there should be 50 different definitions of marriage in the U.S., favors McCain-Feingold, won't talk at all about what he believes, and can't speak his way out of a paper bag on the campaign trail?" questioned Dobson.

"He has no passion, no zeal, and no apparent 'want to,'" the Focus founder continued. "And yet he is apparently the Great Hope that burns in the breasts of many conservative Christians? Well, not for me, my brothers. Not for me!"

"Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for, but I don't think he's a Christian, at least that's my impression," said Dobson before commenting that the presidential hopeful would have a hard time tapping into the Republican Party's conservative Christian base to win the GOP nomination.

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In the video below, Thompson, during an interview with Sean Hannity, basically tells Dobson to get lost...adding that he hasn't spoken with Dobson, but he would take the Focus On The Family leader's call if he wanted to offer an apology.

I've written about Dobson in the past and it is my contention that he is all about James Dobson...and not much else. The following is from a posting this past may following the GOP's dismal performance in the 2006 election. Dobson had just issued a terse rebuke of the Giuliani candidacy.

From Victory Is Coming Sayeth The "Lords" To The Hordes:

I view Dobson's words to be an anticipatory shot across the bow at the politicians who could damage the standing of the far right...but more importantly I view his words as an acknowledgment that 2006 put his power over those he leads at risk. If my hypothesis is correct, those aligned with Dobson will counter intuitively draw a much clearer line in the sand with regard to the 2008 election. Losing the election is secondary to losing the hold they have on their followers.

Conceding doctrine in order to win an election is far worse than losing an election. As long as the adherence to doctrine is maintained, rightness can be affirmed. If rightness can be affirmed through leadership’s unwavering and willful demonstration of faith, (even in the presence of predictable defeat) then that faith can be extrapolated to and embraced by the flock. That negates the risks associated with the possible negative attributions that may result from the previously identified human frailties and that might befall the individual followers should they perceive that their cause is lost (and their beliefs invalidated).

Therefore it is essential that the enemy remains clearly identified as well as the need to persevere. In order to achieve the promised victory, the wrongness of the opposition must be magnified in order to allow momentum to intervene and sustain the faith of the followers. Victory will have been postponed but never conceded. That leaves the identified and established fundamental beliefs and their absolute premise intact and available to employ in the maintenance of unquestioned and unchallenged power.

In the end, leadership reassures the flock that victory remains the goal and that it remains attainable...but only through blind adherence to the doctrinal interpretations of the leadership because they are the individuals who have exhibited sufficient will and faith to sustain the flock. The end goal has been delayed but the ending remains unchanged. The movement lives on and the benefactors [James Dobson] live well in the here and now. Everyone else is asked to be patient, to contribute [money] to the cause, and to anxiously await the rewards of the afterlife.

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Essentially, Dobson is focused upon preserving his cash cow and what he perceives to be his empire. Keep in mind that recent reports suggest that Focus On The Family's fundraising has declined and they have also laid off a number of employees. I've never fully believed that Dobson sought to be a kingmaker; he's far more interested in being the king of his own empire and receiving the spoils that accompany the role.

Therefore, I contend his foray into the political arena is simply the means to maximize his ministry and the millions of dollars that he can be raised under the guise of promoting a family values political agenda. So long as the flock thinks Dobson has significant political influence, he will be able to continue picking the pockets of the pious.

If Dobson believes the evangelicals cannot swing the 2008 election, I suspect he would prefer to be seen as having sat it out. In doing so, it becomes difficult to measure any diminished power. In fact, if the GOP were to lose in 2008, Dobson could use that as evidence of his capacity to decide elections.

Anyway, I expect to see more fireworks before the GOP chooses a candidate. Time to make some popcorn.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Evangelicals, Focus On The Family, Fred Thompson, James Dobson

Daniel DiRito | October 4, 2007 | 5:26 PM | link | Comments (0)
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