Hip-Gnosis: January 2008: Archives
I've always enjoyed The Onion. They're now presenting their "faux" news in video format on YouTube...and the following is one of my favorites.
The gist of the "story" is that the Mitt Romney campaign is doing all they can to dispel the accusations that the candidate believes in tolerance. The focus is on the campaigns efforts to reject Romney's apparent tolerance of homosexuality in the past.
The Onion wants to know what Romney can do to prove his newfound homophobia is genuine. The reporters ponder whether the former Massachusetts governor can shore up his wavering support among bigots by making disparaging remarks about women or Mexicans...a quick ethnic slur or two if you will.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Homophobia, Humor, Immigration, LGBT, Mitt Romney, Same-Sex Marriage, The Onion, Tolerance
Daniel DiRito | January 30, 2008 | 3:06 PM |
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Rick Majerus has been a college basketball coach for many years and he currently works for St. Louis University, a Catholic University under the auspices of the Jesuits. Majerus has always been a colorful figure but one wouldn't expect his off the cuff comments to a news reporter at a Hillary Clinton rally to be the reason the coach finds himself in hot water.
Enter Archbishop Raymond Burke and the typically heavy hand of the Catholic Church. Majerus is being assailed by Burke for voicing his support for a woman's right to choose as well as favoring embryonic stem cell research. You can see video of his comments here.
Clearly, Majerus wasn't at the rally representing the University and it's obvious he didn't seek out a reporter to voice his opinions. Regardless, the Archbishop believes Majerus should be disciplined for his breech of Catholic doctrine. Burke is no stranger to asserting his reach. During the 2004 election, he took it upon himself to state that he would deny John Kerry Holy Communion.
From Catholic News Agency:
Archbishop of St. Louis Raymond Burke, speaking to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper before the March for Life in Washington, D.C. strongly criticized the coach's statements.
"It's not possible to be a Catholic and hold those positions," Burke said. "When you take a position in a Catholic university, you don't have to embrace everything the Catholic Church teaches. But you can't make statements which call into question the identity and mission of the Catholic Church."
Archbishop Burke said the coach should be disciplined, saying, "I'm confident [the university] will deal with the question of a public representative making declarations that are inconsistent with the Catholic faith," Burke said. "When you take a position in a Catholic university, you don't have to embrace everything the Catholic Church teaches. But you can't make statements which call into question that identity and mission of the Catholic Church."
The archbishop was concerned the coach's statements would cause scandal, defined in the Catholic catechism as "an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil."
Some St. Louis University faculty members were not happy with the archbishop's remarks.
"If SLU wants to have a policy of, 'you have to be Catholic and believe the Catholic way,' SLU wouldn't exist," Laura Willingham, research assistant in SLU's School of Medicine, said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Should [Majerus] have said it publicly? There's freedom of speech."
Jeff Fowler, a spokesman for the university, emphasized the coach was speaking in a private capacity.
"Rick's comments were his own personal view," he said to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "They were made at an event he did not attend as a university representative. It was his own personal visit to the rally."
Archbishop Burke has no direct control over St. Louis University. The Jesuit-founded university itself is nominally Catholic, but a 2007 Supreme Court decision ruled that the school "is not controlled by a religious creed,? making the school's new arena eligible for $80 million in public funding. In the Supreme Court brief, the school's lawyers said the university is not controlled or owned by the Society of Jesus and does not require employees or students "to aspire to Jesuit ideals, to be Catholic or to otherwise have any specific religious affiliation."
Less than 35 of the 1,275 St. Louis University faculty and staff are Jesuits, and fewer than half of the students are Catholic.
So in reality, the Archbishop decided to inject himself into the situation despite the fact that he has no actual authority over the school. Note the Archbishop's definition of "scandal". Apparently the Catholic Church believes that it is more important to focus on the personal opinions and statements of an employee (because it might lead others to do evil) than to acknowledge and atone for decades of sexual abuse upon innocent children by members of their own clergy.
Nothing like a super-sized serving of hypocrisy. Perhaps I simply don't understand the meaning of evil? Then again, the storied history of the Catholic Church is littered with similar inconsistencies. The one prevailing constant has been their insistence that the focus of their moral compass always point outward. In my many years of contact with Catholic clergy, I've always been taken aback by their belief that simply being part of the clergy connotes absolute authority and moral supremacy. Unfortunately, that is a fully flawed construct given their own immoral legacy.
Granted, I respect their right to their beliefs and their right to freely express them. However, their long-established efforts to stifle the same in others simply demonstrates their propensity to trample the rights of those who disagree. I'm even content to accept their right to condemn others (declare them to be sinners) who do not uphold Church doctrine...so long as those condemnations don't abridge the rights granted to those individuals by the government.
Sadly, zealots are rarely satisfied to be the masters of their own domain; instead they seek to enslave all of humanity within the confines of their dominion. Irreverent as this may be, I think the Catholic Church would do well to respect the personal space of others and keep their meandering mittens to themselves. God knows the millions of dollars (and they do like money) they would have saved had they only demonstrated the decency to do so in the past.
Tagged as: Abortion, Archbishop Raymond Burke, Catholic Church, Child Molestation, Dogma, Embryonic Stem Cells, Hypocrisy, Pro-Choice, Rick Majerus, Saint Louis University
Daniel DiRito | January 24, 2008 | 1:32 PM |
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Lewis Black takes creationism to task with his typically dry wit. He goes on to share his thoughts on the assertion that fossils are "The Devil's Handiwork", those who think the Flintstones was a documentary, and how God transformed from his angry days in the Old Testament to his kinder, gentler self in the New Testament.
Tagged as: Creationism, Flintstones, Fossils, Humor, Judaism, Lewis Black, New Testament, Old Testament
Daniel DiRito | January 24, 2008 | 12:23 PM |
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I'm not exactly sure what prompted Al Gore to post a video in which he expresses his support for gay marriage...but what the hey...good job Al.
I've often wondered why politicians are so much more forthcoming and appealing when they are no longer seeking public office. Time and again, former politicians demonstrate a candor and reasonability that was never allowed to surface while serving as an elected official.
Just once I would like to see a candidate run for office without the typical parsing of the issues in order to appeal to more voters. Perhaps they couldn't win, but I think the unbridled honesty would overcome many of their policy differences with the voting public. Let's face it, most of the politicians we elect don't keep the promises they make anyway. At least we would know who we're choosing and that they actually put their principles ahead of political gain. Fat chance that's going to happen.
Tagged as: Al Gore, Campaign Promises, Gay Marriage, Homophobia, LGBT, Politics
Daniel DiRito | January 23, 2008 | 2:54 PM |
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Should there be any doubt that Fred Phelps and his clan are "religious" lunatics, the following is the Westboro Baptist Church press release on the death of actor, Heath Ledger. This is clearly another example of their atrocious attacks on innocent individuals and their grieving families.
I wonder how much money they spend traveling the country to attend the funerals of U.S. soldiers and others they deem "worthy" of their disgusting protests. Perhaps in their zeal to pass God's judgment, they are actually setting themselves up for the very same. Here's the point. Wouldn't all of that money be better spent helping those in need? Talk about a corruption of Christian values.
Tagged as: Bigotry, Christianity, Fred Phelps, Heath Ledger, Homophobia, Kansas, LGBT, Religious Extremism, Shirley Phelps, Topeka, U.S. Military, Westboro Baptist Church
Daniel DiRito | January 23, 2008 | 1:22 PM |
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The more time I spend watching and listening to Mike Huckabee, the more I'm reminded of George W. Bush prior to his election in 2000. Huckabee, like Bush, presents himself as an affable character with a penchant for making simplistic connections with average folk. I contend that makes Mike Huckabee the logical successor to George Bush as the embodiment of the candidate voters would be inclined to select because they would enjoy sharing a beer with him.
At the same time, I suspect any presidential candidate is driven to win...and that desire likely leads candidates to adjust their positions on policies in order to be victorious. Many times this can lead a candidate to believe they must straddle the fence on controversial issues in order to maximize voter appeal. In that regard, I believe Mike Huckabee is also more similar to George Bush with each passing day.
Prior to his election, George Bush sold himself as a compassionate conservative...a position he frequently suggested had its origin in his evangelical faith. Mike Huckabee has put forth a comparable persona. Doing so affords a candidate the ability to broach volatile issues in "kinder, gentler" ways...at least superficially. It also has the added benefit of drawing more votes.
There are many other similarities, but I want to focus on one in particular. It involves a strategy I would call telegraphing...a plan to deliver uniquely tailored messages to different constituencies without overtly offending or alienating either. George Bush did this successfully with regards to his position on gays prior to his election and Mike Huckabee appears to be doing the same in relation to illegal immigrants (think Mexicans).
The goal of telegraphing is to sound sufficiently reasonable (moderate) to those voters who are uncomfortable with the targeting of any particular segment of society while also communicating one's willingness to enact measures that do exactly that (targeting) to those voters who harbor bias for any number of reasons; not the least of which include homophobia and racism...although they are often couched as religious convictions or legalistic justifications.
To the impartial observer, the strategy often appears schizophrenic since rationality can rarely reconcile the divergent statements. At the very least, reasonable individuals are apt to notice some level of dissonance when placing the two statements side by side.
With George Bush, the dissonance was exhibited in numerous ways. On the one hand, the President spoke in support of the dignity of all Americans and against acts of discrimination directed towards gays. At the same time, he made strategic pronouncements in favor of an amendment to the Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage...spoken in terms that were broad enough to allow moderates to believe he may not oppose the affording of some benefits to same-sex couples while also leaving the far right convinced the President understood the absolute necessity of the amendment and the negligibly vague references to "allowing" for some lesser rights for gays.
The fact that the homosexuality of the Vice President's daughter, Mary Cheney, was seemingly acceptable provided another avenue for telegraphing. Dick Cheney's ability to voice some level of disagreement with the President's occasionally more definitive position helped muddy the waters and allowed observers to draw whatever inferences they favored.
I'll offer one final observation relative to telegraphing. I believe George Bush's success with the strategy was enhanced by his belief that these discordant statements should be delivered proximate. The less time allowed between the statements helps to nullify the negative impact of both while still delivering an important message to each constituent group.
I view Mike Huckabee's current strategy with regard to illegal immigration (Mexicans) much the same. I doubt telegraphing was initially a key element of his campaign. However, my impression is that Huckabee is an able politician...but even more so an astute learner. In short order, this crafty Christian has discovered the merits of message manipulation.
The following videos track the subtle, though significant, Huckabee shift on immigration. Note that in the first video (April 13, 2007) he focuses upon his compassion and understanding for those who are here illegally...suggesting that there should be a process for them to pay some fines and begin their assimilation. He doesn't indicate his desire to send them all back home before this can begin.
In this second video, the former governor positions himself as a person of compassion...going so far as to tell voters that if they're looking for a president with a mean spirit, he's not going to do it and they should choose another candidate.
In this third video, Huckabee wants to first make clear that he and most American's aren't and shouldn't be angry at immigrants; instead the problem is the failure of the government to enforce our existing laws. He avoids talk of sending all of the immigrants home while attempting to infer that there should be a simple process to have employers identify illegals and press them to begin the appropriate legal process.
In this fourth video, Huckabee is addressing the remarks he made the prior evening at the YouTube debate. Note his recognition that immigration is an issue that angers and impassions voters. He seems to still be struggling to abandon his compassionate stance though one gets the sense he's increasingly frustrated at his inability to redirect the dialogue. He's more defensive than in his prior discussions.
He closes by alluding to his position being apt to make his staff cringe and to possibly cost him the election. I suspect he and his staff sense his rising poll numbers and they're struggling to reconcile themselves to an unpopular position on immigration.
In this final video, which follows on the heels of his victory in Iowa, the former Baptist minister starts off with a comment that suggests he'd be happy to avoid the subject. He then moves to quickly defend his position to send illegals home with two defensive arguments. One, he argues we need to have a speedier path to legal immigration...lessening the wait illegals may have in returning to the U.S. Secondly, he posits that the dignity of illegals is dependent upon their compliance with the law...arguing they will feel better if they do it right.
In essence, Huckabee is well on his way to successfully straddling the fence...and doing so while preserving the bulk of his all-important compassionate credentials.
Hence, Mike Huckabee has completed his telegraphing of an immigration policy that satisfies the far right. In so doing, he improves his chances of ingratiating himself to the base of the GOP while removing a formidable obstacle to his acceptability.
Note that this new Huckabee plan avoids any meaningful discussion of a temporary-worker program. In doing so, Huckabee is catering to those who he initially characterized as mean-spirited and likely racist. By and large, this message by omission is now palatable to the voter demographic that views the influx of Mexicans as a threat to the political status quo. Therefore, he can now entice those voters who believe that a rapidly expanding Hispanic population would be apt to undermine the ability of the GOP to promote its preferred ideology.
Simultaneously, his previously unabated compassion for the plight of 12-15 million illegals and their "innocent" children has morphed into a dissertation on the fundamental attributes that will afford these individuals the dignity that comes with obtaining their citizenship...by returning home and getting in line to obtain legal status. In presenting his message in this manner, he succeeds in distracting from the harsh reality of his new position by focusing upon the idealization and elevation of the American dream...a vastly popular and innocuous concept.
Say what you will about the foibles of the George Bush presidency but one should never underestimate his political acumen. Granted, history may frown upon his accomplishments, or lack thereof, while in office...but it may also note his success in achieving his goal of serving as the president for two terms in an evenly split, though wholly divided, nation.
In less than a year, we will know if Mike Huckabee succeeded in adopting much of George Bush's political template. I shudder to think he just might pull it off. If he does, the critical question will instantly be whether the nation can survive more of the same. I have my doubts.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Amnesty, Dick Cheney, George Bush, Homophobia, Immigration, LGBT, Marriage Amendment, Mary Cheney, Mexicans, Mike Huckabee, Racism, Same-Sex Marriage
Daniel DiRito | January 17, 2008 | 10:48 AM |
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Any doubt that Mike Huckabee is the dream candidate for most evangelicals can be dispelled by watching the following video. In the span of 30 seconds, the former Baptist minister makes his clear argument for a theocracy. Nothing like calling for the virtual discounting of more than 200 years of constitutional governance in order to pander to those who believe that "Biblical Law" should supersede all else.
Yep, so much for the separation of church and state and the freedom to worship as one chooses or to not worship at all. Perhaps Mr. Huckabee's next move can be to call for a Crusade to vanquish all other religions so we can live under the laws of the "one true god". Why not...it gives the christians someone new to attack now that the allure of gay bashing seems to be waning.
If one were looking for a silver lining in the Huckster's statement, perhaps this will give the Mexicans a momentary reprieve while we focus on the Islamists and the "foolish" beliefs they garner from the Qur'an.
After all, how can we have compassionate conservatism until we vanquish all those who hold false beliefs. Looks like the Axis of Evil just grew exponentially. It just goes to show that religious tolerance may well be the ultimate oxymoron...and Mike Huckabee wants us to know that he is one hell of a moron.
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Biblical Law, Compassionate Conservatism, Crusades, Evangelical, Islam, Mike Huckabee, Qur'an, Religion, Religious Intolerance, Separation of Church & State, South Carolina Primary, Theocracy, U.S. Constitution
Daniel DiRito | January 15, 2008 | 2:00 PM |
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It doesn't happen often, but every now and again I find myself exasperated by what I read in a newspaper or on the Internet. Today I came across one such item. Apparently a conservative pastor in Redmond, Washington, the location of Microsoft's headquarters, is putting together an effort to get Christians to purchase shares of Microsoft stock in order to begin the process of ending the company's support for "ungodly ventures".
Cutting to the chase, the group is angered by Microsoft's support for gay rights and the fact that the company believes its gay employees should receive all of the same consideration and benefits of their straight counterparts.
The groups leader, Rev. Ken Hutcherson, had previously sough to influence the company, a move that led a number of gay rights advocacy groups to accuse the company of allowing the Reverend to exert undue influence. At the time, the company briefly waffled on its support for a bill in the Washington's state legislature of which barred workplace discrimination against gays.
Hutcherson, joined by some of the country's most influential Christian leaders, has created a new organization, AGN Financial Network, to finance the effort. The worldwide venture asks people to buy three shares of company stock and donate one to AGN. Its Web site tells visitors, "You have the power to change the world," and contains tips on how to open a brokerage account. Among the listed supporters are Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and religious pundit Gary Bauer.
At Microsoft's annual shareholder meeting in November, Hutcherson told the group that he was gathering evangelicals, Catholics, Jews and Muslims to challenge the company.
He told company leaders, "I could work with you, or I could be your worst nightmare, because I am a black man with a righteous cause, with a host of powerful white people behind me," according to an e-mail update to his supporters. "I hope to hear from you and if not, you will hear from me."
When asked whether the new initiative is a ploy to make money for his church, Hutcherson said, "Absolutely."
"We're going to need the finances to go to the next companies," he said. "Anything you do successfully needs money."
"Oh, yes ma'am, we're going after corporations," he said. "Microsoft has the privilege of being first because we have a history," Hutcherson said.
I've said it many times before and I will say it again...these people will spend their last nickel attacking gays but for some odd reason you rarely hear them mounting the same kind of efforts to help the uninsured or the poor. If they were to take this same initiative with regards to providing health care for poor children in Washington, I suspect they could improve the lot of countless children. Instead, the Reverend wants Christians to donate stock so he can wage a public relations battle with Microsoft. Ahh, yes, is it any wonder why I revile most religious institutions?
All too often the leaders of religious organizations spend their time attempting to separate their followers from their hard earned cash by inciting their uninformed and misguided prejudices. Excuse my indignation, but if those in the service of the lord are actually little more than agents for agitating hatred, then I have to question the validity and necessity of their existence.
Further, if they represent the feelings of the god they impart; then he is little more than a vindictive interloper with misplaced priorities. In my most agitated moments, I conclude that this supposedly all-knowing god...the one who allegedly created all that is...is either a full-fledged fraud or one lousy engineer. If he didn't want any gay people in the world he built, then he should have done a better job when building its inhabitants. Further, if he's as focused as his followers on punishing gays and denying them equal rights...while simultaneously ignoring the plight of millions of his creatures, then he's also one heartless and hypocritical caretaker.
I can save these fanatics and their god a lot of time, energy, and money. Here's the deal. As I understand it, God created a place called hell for those who don't follow his words as written in the Bible by a number of humans over two thousand years ago. Fine, then accept that I'm a lost cause and sign my friends and I up for irrevocable reservations to the fiery depths...then start spending the time and energy you've devoted to me and my gay cohorts helping the millions of innocent human beings in need. Call it my contribution to the advancement of Christianity.
Tagged as: Bill Gates, Christianity, ENDA, Equal Rights, Evangelicals, God, Health Care, LGBT, Microsoft, Poverty, Redmond, Religion, Religious Extremism, Rev. Ken Hutcherson, Same-Sex Marriage, Washington
Daniel DiRito | January 8, 2008 | 3:01 PM |
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There are countless reasons why I wouldn't vote for Mike Huckabee. At the same time, I find myself in the strange position to admire the fact that he, more than his manipulative Republican predecessors, is a candidate committed to his evangelical beliefs and the followers who share them. Let me be clear...my admiration is for the apparent sincerity of the individual; not for the beliefs he and his minions hold. Conversely, my disdain is for those who have created the very dynamic they suddenly fear.
In fact, an interesting thing is happening in the GOP. The powers that be...those crafty individuals (think Karl Rove) who long ago sought to recruit people of faith with a mix of pious pandering, phobic platitudes, and pyrrhic promises...now find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Suddenly, the beast of burden that carried them to their exalted victory in 2000 (their culminating moment of presumed political dominance) has become the dangerous dragon that establishment Republican elitists are rampantly racing to slay.
If one removes the veil of religious rhetoric under which the GOP elite has traveled to reach their pinnacle of power, one would actually find they worship little more than power and the profit it brings. Like panoply on a pig, they have willingly donned the dressings of dogma and whispered sweet nothings in the ears of those who honor the ultimate populist...Jesus Christ.
Time and again, these skillful strategists took umbrage at the slightest hint of secular and scientific sensibility in order to ingratiate themselves to the faithful. If it wasn't prayer in school or religious symbols in public places or the war on Christmas or a science curriculum that includes intelligent design or research utilizing embryos already scheduled for destruction, it was penalizing a network for showing a split second of Janet Jackson's breast at the Super Bowl or the need to deny the medical evidence in the Terri Schiavo case or promoting abstinence to combat AIDS and teen pregnancy or the ever popular railing against the militant homosexual agenda bent on destroying the family and the sanctity of marriage.
When George Bush sold compassionate conservatism and the restoration of "honor" to the White House as a moral imperative wrapped in religiosity, these elitist Republicans embraced the guise with the fervor of a freshman fraternity pledge. They did so because Bill Clinton provided the opportunity to adopt their "soul saving" straw man strategy and it served their purposes at that particular juncture.
Like most zealots, they rode their hallowed horse into the ground until it culminated in the wholesale rejection of their extremist ideology in 2006...and that now leads them to believe their sullied steed cannot cross the finish line first in 2008. In truth, they actually believe it must be prevented from running the race and they desperately want it quietly, quickly, and convincingly retired.
Unfortunately, the real believers...those individuals that have been so callously manipulated...now see a truly cathartic champion in Mike Huckabee and an opportunity to flesh out the disingenuous interlopers who simply sought to maintain their insular domain.
Like any charade, the hoodwinked eventually awaken to exact their revenge on the offending individual or entity. Like most charlatans, the offenders swiftly and summarily jump ship and expose their sinister and singular self-serving identities the moment their kingdom appears set to crumble. Unable to hold their avarice at bay, their true nature spills from their mouths like water from a Louisiana levee.
Truth be told, the Mike Huckabee phenomenon is the love child of an ill-conceived marriage...one that sought to attach the prurient pursuit of power and profit to puritanical piety. Mike Huckabee simply saw an opportunity and he took it...much to the chagrin of the establishment elites...and much to the delight of the unrequited.
It now appears that the obtuse overlords who have made a career of championing conventional marriage have two problems. One, their own marriage of convenience is about to disintegrate...and two, they were foolish enough to produce an offspring that is now older and wiser and fully capable of unrestrained rebellion.
Spiteful as it may be, I'm happy to state, "Let the nasty divorce begin".
Tagged as: 2008 Election, Abstinence Only, Church & State, Evangelical, George Bush, GOP, Janet Jackson, Karl Rove, LGBT, Mike Huckabee, Religion, Religious Right, Republican Elitism, Terri Schiavo
Daniel DiRito | January 5, 2008 | 12:07 PM |
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