Hip-Gnosis: September 2008: Archives

September 29, 2008

Bailout Imbroglio: Politics, Power, Pulpits, & Profit genre: Econ-Recon & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak

We're in uncharted waters with a leaky boat and a storm on the horizon...but the GOP wants us to know that Nancy Pelosi is a mean-spirited partisan.

Let me see if I can get this straight. The Republican president of the United States sends the Secretary of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Chairman to Capital Hill with a message of impending economic doom...asking the party in power to put aside partisanship and pass necessary legislation.

The party in power (Democrats) holds its nose and puts together a bill premised upon the gravity of the situation, endures John McCain's grandstanding at the eleventh hour, allows him to characterize his involvement as critical to the success of the process, spends hours meeting with those in the GOP who want to amend the bill, comes to an agreement on a bill the GOP leadership can support, and then brings the bill to a vote.

In that vote, over sixty percent of Democrats support legislation that was requested by the head of the opposition party, two thirds of the presidents fellow Republicans jump ship and oppose the bill, and the GOP house leadership wants Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats to shoulder the blame?! Well there you have it...nothing illogical about that, right?

Frankly, I've personally reached the point at which I'm opposed to any attempt to glue what remains of our failed government back together. Unless and until politicians are held accountable for the consequences of their actions, I'm in favor of pulling the rest of the metaphorical china from the cupboard and smashing it all on the floor. I say as much because I don't think anything will change until the American public is forced to face reality...even if that means standing in line for a loaf of bread and a bowl of soup.

Look, let's be honest as to what all of this GOP partisanship is about. From their self-serving perspective, it's power and money...and they're willing to do whatever it takes to obtain both. Voters, on the other hand, have allowed themselves to be drawn into an ideological struggle to define morality. Taken together, this is the underlying formula for the disaster we're witnessing.

Instead of a candid discussion on the merits of rescuing our financial structure, the political combatants have spent years defining our differences in terms of good versus evil; right versus wrong. While voters blindly engage in this theoretical tug of war, the real battle for dominance is waged in the trenches...replete with lobbyists looking to commit larceny in tandem with their trusted troopers...the political elite.

The unseen metrics of today's maelstrom center upon the pursuit of profit. Those house Republicans who opposed today's legislation tell us they are concerned about main street. In truth they, in concert with their corporate benefactors who want the government to insure their success without foregoing the profits that may eventually result from the government's intervention, see main street as a peripheral player.

Let me explain. If the bail out takes the current form, the companies that avail themselves of it will have to forego the upside of the very assets that have made them a ton of money during the housing bubble and now leads them to the edge of financial ruin. Conversely, if the legislation is structured as an insurance mechanism, they receive the financial assist they need without foregoing the future profits that may ensue with the passage of time and an improved economy.

In other words, house Republicans are carrying the water of Wall Street while telling us they're looking out for the interests of taxpayers. You see, one need only look at the proposal that came from the Bush administration...a virtual blank check to assist their wealthy benefactors...to understand their intentions. Only when the legislation, as modified by the Democrats and a handful of Republicans, became apparent, did the GOP revolt materialize. It did so at the behest of their capitalist (and opportunist) friends who stood to see their profit potential handed over to the American taxpayer.

Don't be fooled...the motivation of many in the GOP, who voted against this bill, has little to do with those of us living on Main Street. The proof is found in today's vote...and the reality that a bail out is inevitable. The acrimony simply centers on who gets the lion's share of the benefit.

In fact, I expect the gap between the two side will grow as the Democrats push for limitations upon corporate hand outs and insist upon provisions designed to allow taxpayers to recoup the money they dole out as well as the profits it may facilitate. At the same time, look for house Republicans to seek to structure the deal so that taxpayers bear all of the risk without reaping any of the profits...or limiting the compensation executives can receive. No doubt their rhetoric will suggest that they've minimized the taxpayer's exposure, when in truth, they've sought to maximize corporate autonomy and profitability. Not a bad strategy given the voting public's overwhelming displeasure with the bail out.

That brings me to the vehicle by which the GOP has been able to prosecute the pilfering of the public. In my opinion, their success has come from characterizing this country's political divide in terms of values while subverting any meaningful awareness of economic inequality. As such, I believe this illuminates the importance of driving a wooden stake through the heart of the ideologues who have hijacked the Republican Party and finally putting an end to their cynical symbiotic alliance with religious conservatives. This country will only find its bearings when the primordial goals of governance are a sound economy and a commitment to the principles that come with an adherence to freedom, equality, and the necessary separation of church and state.

Yesterday, in the midst of an economic crisis, the Alliance Defense Fund carried out it's plan to breach this separation by encouraging churches to participate in "Pulpit Freedom Sunday"...a move to fully politicize faith and push the imposition of values as the primary political objective. Hence, the wooden stake needs to be long enough to inflict a fatal blow to this ill-conceived assertion that Biblical law should supersede our foundational doctrines. Further, there can be little doubt that the selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate is the final act in this flawed farce.

Truth be told, the strategy of the GOP's hierarchy is a death spiral. Each time they anoint a candidate willing to lead with the morality meme, they push aside those politicians in the party who are still motivated by prudent conservative political principles. It becomes a go along to get along construct and traditional conservatism is one of its primary victims. If a Republican politician wants to climb the ladder, he or she must first don the dogma and internalize the ideology. In doing so, they simply become caricatures of the voters they violate...and the deceitful dumbing down is institutionalized. In the end, this approach reduces leadership to an expediency equation and undermines the party's historical identity as well as its future viability.

Look, I have no interest in excising religion from our culture...I simply believe it must remain a personal construct; not a political platform. Yes, it is impractical to expect that religion refrain from influencing one's political preferences. Notwithstanding, we're perilously close to allowing it to contradict our core constitutional constructions and divorces us from relevant realities and the rationality to distinguish democracy from dogma.

Government cannot and should not be a surrogate for the saving of souls. Instead, government must provide the structure that allows the soul to be sovereign and the nation to be neutral. As it now stands, the pulpit is being used to provide cover for the pursuit of profit. Perhaps clarity can be achieved without catastrophe. At the moment, that seems unlikely as far too many voters have accepted the ethereal at the expense of the essential. The infectious nature of this illegitimate and intransigent ideology is on the verge of metastasizing. Should this utterly calamitous cancer be allowed to stand, the country may not.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, ADF, Alliance Defense Fund, Ben Bernanke, Church & State, Corporate Corruption, Democrats, Evangelicals, GOP, Hank Paulson, John McCain, Main Street, Nancy Pelosi, Religion, Taxpayers, Voters, Wall Street

Daniel DiRito | September 29, 2008 | 2:04 PM | link | Comments (3)
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September 23, 2008

Concerned Women For America Make The Case For Theocracy genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak

Never let it be said that the religious right minces its words...instead they prefer the tactic of charging their words with fear and casting all others as the enemy. In the following video, Wendy Wright, the president of Concerned Women for America, makes the case for evangelicals to get out and vote. Note how Wright uses the Christians are victims meme to scare her viewers into voting.

Look at some of the other verbiage she includes to push the message that Christians are in danger and non-believers are out to get them - Liberals who mock Christians...Prefer America be weak...Devastating for America...Keep this a country worth living and dying for...People ruling over us...Continue the slaughter of unborn babies...Silence those who love God...People who govern righteously...People who don't believe will achieve an ironclad majority.

Yes, the big bad liberals want to ruin America and send all Christians into concentration camps where they will be forced to worship the devil, burn Bibles, and deny their allegiance to the United States of America.

Hence, the CWA offers their own "reasonable" alternative...to win the election so that Christians can establish a theocracy, install a litmus test for all judicial appointments, prohibit non-believers from participating in government, and install Biblical law so gays and those who favor a woman's right to choose can be punished accordingly.

Ahh, yes...that would make America so much better...you know...the one nation, under God kind of America. After all, who can be bothered by that silly thing we call the Constitution?!

Tagged as: Abortion, Church & State, Concerned Women For America, CWA, Gay Marriage, LGBT, Religion, Theocracy

Daniel DiRito | September 23, 2008 | 11:24 AM | link | Comments (0)
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September 9, 2008

The Truth & Nothing But The Truth About Sarah Palin genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek

TheTruthIsOutThere.jpg

Well I've had it with all of the Sarah Palin hyperbole. We're a better nation than this and we need to stop with the ad hominem attacks on the Alaska governor.

To that end, I've taken the time to compile some relevant facts that will set the record straight on the governor's positions as well as the motivations for her selection by John McCain.

In the interest of efficiency, I've condensed the issues into a list of ten factoids.

Number Ten:

All of this talk about the bridge to no where is so unfair. Everyone knows that Sarah Palin was first for the bridge to no where, then she was against the bridge to no where, then she took whatever money the federal government would allot for the bridge...and spent it on something else. Let's lay off Governor Palin...she's assured us that if Alaska needs that bridge, Alaska will build it...and I believe her.

Number Nine:

Sarah Palin is a reformer...she'll work tirelessly to bring Alaska's version of corruption and cronyism to Washington. Besides, the White House library needs some updating.

Number Eight:

It's unfair to say that Sarah Palin speaks out of both sides of her mouth. Nothing could be further from the truth... everyone knows she's talking to God when she speaks in tongues.

Number Seven:

It's a good thing Sarah Palin is opposed to earmarks and wasteful, pork-barrel spending...it's going to be needed to help offset Cindy McCain's monthly credit card expenditures of over $250,000.00.

Number Six:

Sarah Palin won't be anything like Dick Cheney. Everyone knows that Dick Cheney is a curmudgeon who spends his time holed up in an undisclosed location. Quite the contrary, Sarah Palin is a pit bull who spends her time holed up at home...collecting per diem from the state of Alaska.

Number Five:

Sarah Palin is a visionary politician. She knows that Alaska is a pivotal state in U.S. foreign policy...and no, it's not because her state is next to Russia. It's because Alaska is a religiously defined refuge state and she's been preparing her state to accept the refugees that God told her to expect from the lower forty eight states when the rapture begins.

Number Four:

Sarah Palin is the dream candidate for millions of women. She's a neo-feminist...the kind that thinks a raped woman should pay for her own forensics kit...right before she's forced to carry that baby to term. Now that's a woman every woman should support.

Number Three:

You have to love the idea of John McCain putting a fellow maverick on his ticket. Just look at the facts...John McCain hired a governor who knew her state didn't need the expense of a state-owned jet...and he married another woman who told the press that she and her husband need a jet to get around Arizona. Everyone knows travel in Arizona is far more complicated than in the largest state in the union.

Number Two:

It's unfair to criticize the GOP's platform position on a woman's right to choose...they've actually proven they will defend a woman's right to choose...the time and place when she'll answer any of the media's questions.

Number One:

We need to stop making light of Sarah Palin's pit bull metaphor. Everyone knows that the difference between a two star national guard general and a three star national guard general in Alaska is the lipstick on the pit bull's ass.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Abortion, Alaska, Cindy McCain, Dick Cheney, Feminism, Foreign Policy, John McCain, National Guard, Pentecostal, Religion, Sarah Palin, Snark, Top Ten, Women's Rights

Daniel DiRito | September 9, 2008 | 12:35 PM | link | Comments (1)
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September 8, 2008

The Loaves And Fishes Election? genre: Econ-Recon & Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak

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If this election turns out to be about religious ideology...while ignoring the real implications of electing a candidate who supports the same policies of the president who created the troubled economy we're now enduring...it may well be appropriate to call this "The Loaves and Fishes Election"...although I doubt either will be abundant...and they most certainly wont be free.

Troubling as it is, a number of voters seem poised to place matters of morality in front of their own economic self-interest. What remains to be seen is the depths to which voters are willing to sacrifice their pocket books in deference to the religious rhetoric being bantered about by the GOP.

Perhaps the news of the decision by the government to take over the troubled mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will provide the impetus for voters to think twice before granting the GOP another four year...on top of the eight during which the national debt nearly doubled and personal income failed to advance.

Let me attempt to make this simple. Under the Bush administration, huge tax cuts were enacted...primarily for the wealthiest of Americans. At the same time, mortgage interest rates were kept artificially low. That allowed for a housing bubble which enabled millions of Americans to borrow and spend newfound equity. It also allowed for those with capital (think those who received the tax cuts) to invest in and profit from the financial market.

Jump forward to the end of 2008. The Bush administration and John McCain favor extending the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans...arguing that we can't raise taxes in a down economy. The problem with that logic is that the tax cuts helped facilitate the shoddy economy we have. It also allowed the rich to get richer and it allowed millions of Americans to borrow what they thought was an expanading equity in their homes. That ability to access equity served as the candy coating on an otherwise unsound economy.

However, as they say, it's now time to pay the piper. So what does this mean for the average American? Well, it means that millions of Americans will see their home values decline, their debt increase, their access to better jobs diminish, and ownership of an expanding national debt that will have to be addressed.

And what does this mean for the wealthiest Americans under John McCain's more of the same administration? It means that they will have benefited from years of a reduced tax burden. It means they were able to invest this and other money in a finance industry that was fueled by artificially low interest rates...which means that they pocketed billions of dollars.

At the same time, the government has now stepped in to salvage the insolvency of the two largest mortgage providers in the United States...shifting their debt to the government and therefore to the taxpayer...in what will likely be the largest bail out in U.S. history...a bail out that will exceed the last one that allowed the wealthy to scam the public, the Savings and Loan scandal.

What this means is the government provided the manipulated means for the wealthy to profit...and profit they did...and then when this pyramid imploded under the lack of government oversight...the government, in typical form, concluded it would have to step in to stabilize the financial markets...and that, of course, will mean it's time to divide the losses amongst the remainder of the taxpayers. Enter John McCain...who argues we simply can't increase taxes (code language for rolling back the tax cuts) on the wealthy because it will hurt the troubled economy.

Look, this scenario isn't remotely the equivalent of the Loaves and Fishes story. In fact, it's actually the opposite. Instead, the average American will have provided the wealthiest amongst us with an abundance of enrichment...via tax cuts and government policy...which in turn damaged the economy...which "forced" the government to step in...to now bill that very enrichment...to none other than the average American.

Now the McCain campaign will tell us that the Democrats will tax and spend Americans into oblivion...citing the Democrats desire to give middle class Americans a tax break as well as plans to provide health care to all Americans as examples of their ill-advised fiscal oversight. The GOP will do so while attempting to bury billions of dollars in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debt...debt that originated under the misguided management of the GOP...all the while asserting their own fiscal bona fides...and never once admitting that these same billions of dollars would allow us to fund a tax cut as well as initiate an equitable and accessible health care system.

My friends, John McCain and the GOP are burning the candle at both ends and the middle class is the quickly disappearing wax in between. Look, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac hold six trillion dollars of mortgage debt...and taxpayers will have to pay the portion of that debt that will be unrecoverable. They'll do so while watching their own wealth decline.

If all of this tangible sacrifice and suffering warrants the election of a party that gives lip service to social issues, then perhaps faith is far more powerful than I imagined. Notwithstanding, the last time I checked, faith, placed in false Gods, isn't faith at all; it's folly.

I suspect if the one called Jesus were still walking this earth, he'd be leading the effort to toss the tax collectors out of the temple. The man who bonded with the dregs of society...the likes of Mary Magdalen...would be able to discern deceit from devotion. He'd be telling the flock that faith is not a blind endeavor and our acts of affirmation must translate into more than tangential testimonies meant to massage the angst that accompanies our own divergence from living doctrine as opposed to wearing it as a label on one's lapel.

The corruption of Christian values for political expediency can be traced to those whose ambitions exceed their inclinations towards maintaining morality. Morality is more than a catch phrase coined by partisans for political gain. Those who enable these interlopers may take solace in surrendering their own responsibility to the ruse of rhetoric...under the guise of genuflection...but should there actually be the defined deity who drives their dogma...I suspect the line he's labeled "sinners" has continued its exponential expansion.

John McCain and the GOP may succeed in November...but it won't result in the feeding of the massed and it certainly won't be viewed as a miracle. Given that magic is equated with a sleight of hand, I suspect history would record his election as the efficient execution of one exceedingly cynical, but equally slick, illusion.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Christianity, Democrats, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, George W. Bush, GOP, Jesus, John McCain, Morality, Religion, Values

Daniel DiRito | September 8, 2008 | 3:09 PM | link | Comments (1)
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2008 Election: Why The Supreme Court Matters genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak

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Sarah Palin's selection as John McCain's running mate has evangelicals feeling all warm and fuzzy. Her presence on the ticket has energized the conservative base and rekindled concerns that this election will see the reemergence of a full-scale culture war. Truth be told, the culture war had never ended...it had just been sent into a funk with the selection of John McCain.

While many in the media have focused on the enthusiasm Palin has brought to this election cycle (high ratings and ad revenues anyone?), few have actually attempted to impart the significance of the Palin selection. It's my suspicion that John McCain, unable to gain traction in the polls, elected to heed the lessons learned by those who are now leading his campaign...those who previously crafted the campaigns of George W. Bush. What this means is that the GOP, once thought to be moving away from values politics, has again opted to return to what it knows best...the politics of division.

Those who think this is a momentary relapse may want to think again. The appetite for wedge issue politics is immense...and the size and enthusiasm of the crowds, at the once lukewarm McCain campaign stops, is all the evidence one needs.

While I believe there is a movement in the evangelical community towards expanding their list of relevant issues...a movement that would likely lead some values voters to reconsider the merits of always voting with the GOP...there must be concern that the Palin selection will do little to advance that shift. Frankly, who could blame these fledgling pastors for abandoning their efforts to expand the consciousness of their followers and return to the red meat issues that have proven so successful in motivating the masses. If nothing else, it becomes a question of financial viability. Vegetarian values may seem vogue...but it's still the red meat that sells.

What is often lost in the media's focus is an understanding of the actual objectives of those voters who have seen a new dawn in the selection of Sarah Palin. Yes, the generalized analysis offered by the media chooses catch phrases like "God, guns, and gays"...but the stakes that underlie this culture war are far more ominous.

In fact, the tactics used by the GOP are much the same as those employed by the religious right. An example may be beneficial. For years, Christian conservatives have utilized a strategy of repetitious rhetoric...designed to define their opponents as an imminent threat to their beliefs. The best example is the constant assertion that there is a "militant homosexual agenda".

Now aside from the Stonewall Riots, a skirmish between subversives in skirts and the police department that sought to harass them, the notion of militancy is strictly hyperbole. Regardless, this hyperbole establishes an extremely effective mindset in the moral minions...one that believes the enemy seeks to vanquish their values and install a new world order. Where this strategy deviates from past propaganda employed by partisan politicos is in its effort to cast the opposition as the aggressor...not the aggrieved.

I'm of the opinion that the lessons learned in the civil rights era serve as the foundational basis for this new strategy. The efforts to maintain segregation (think George Wallace) were eventually viewed as extreme by a majority of Americans. Proponents of maintaining racial inequality did little more than voice their prejudice...exposing their objectives and alienating the fair minded.

In the last thirty to thirty five years, many of those who shared these ideological leanings have reconstituted themselves as evangelicals. Let me be clear...by no means am I implying that all evangelicals hold the same views or that being an evangelical is evidence that one does. What I am saying is that it became the chosen vehicle for a group of like minded individuals intent upon waging war against the social issues they opposed.

Call it a softer gentler strategy...at least on its surface. Insert language that implies one is defending family values and Christian principles...from militant groups who have no regard for our long standing cultural traditions...and one begins to see the shift, subtle as it may be. At the same time, it is essential to argue that the enemy's objective has no connection to civil rights or constitutional inclusion; rather it is a rogue lifestyle intent upon undermining our values.

Now let's look at goals. Again, a look at the civil rights era sheds light on the strategy. What was learned from the civil rights era is that any legitimization is apt to insure more...eventually leading to judicial justification, legislative affirmation, and ultimately societal acceptance. When social conservatives invoke the slippery slope argument, they are actually explaining their own perceptions of the process that led to racial inclusion and therefore guides their opposition to any and all measures that validate homosexuality.

Like their black and white interpretations of the Bible, they see the battle against gays in the same manner. The rush to embrace Biblical literalism represents the commitment to this new strategy. As such, any compromise is akin to capitualtion...which means ideology must be absolute if one is to successfully repel the efforts of the enemy. At the same time, the ultimate goals must be disguised and deflected with rhetoric that is palatable to the general public. The door must be shut (constitutional amendments) before they can ultimately unveil their moral manifesto.

That leads me to the latest and clearest evidence of the obscured, but unfolding, objective. I wrote about this subject previously, when it was in its foundling state. As it turns out, the first foray into the execution of the plan has proceeded and is scheduled to be implemented at the end of this month. Take a look at the details.

From The Washington Post:

Declaring that clergy have a constitutional right to endorse political candidates from their pulpits, the socially conservative Alliance Defense Fund is recruiting several dozen pastors to do just that on Sept. 28, in defiance of Internal Revenue Service rules.

The effort by the Arizona-based legal consortium is designed to trigger an IRS investigation that ADF lawyers would then challenge in federal court. The ultimate goal is to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship.

"For so long, there has been this cloud of intimidation over the church," ADF attorney Erik Stanley said. "It is the job of the pastors of America to debate the proper role of church in society. It's not for the government to mandate the role of church in society."

Couple this goal with the rumblings over pharmacists refusing to dispense contraceptives as a matter of religious belief, insistence that religious hospitals be exempt from offering services that conflict with their ideology, demands that private employers be free to discriminate against those whose lifestyles conflict with their values, and one begins to see the end game.

If the ADF and its adherents can succeed in breaching the separation of church and state, under the guise that they are actually defending victims of religious discrimination, they will have successfully elevated religious ideology to the same status as constitutional law. At that point, government would be handicapped in distinguishing and delineating matters of constitutional equality from matters of faith.

The goal is to insure that religion's influence on government isn't limited to the ballot box...but actually that God's law is placed on par with the constitution. In other words, they seek to insure that religious beliefs cannot be subjected to constitutional rebuke...and if they are, there should be recourse to claim religious discrimination.

An example may be helpful. Let's look at LGBT employment. The end game of the ADF and its allies is to insure that religious views cannot be abridged by constitutional interpretation. They want religious freedom to be on a par with civil rights...beyond simply having the freedom to choose which religion one elects to embrace and vote accordingly. In other words, if homosexuality is contrary to one's religious beliefs, one should be allowed to refuse to hire homosexuals...regardless of the possibility that such acts may be unconstitutional.

Currently, private groups like the Boy Scouts and religious institutions have been allowed to discriminate accordingly...as a matter of their religious beliefs. Generally speaking, I understand and acknowledge the constitutional basis of this practice, However, I believe the goal is to establish that right for any individual regardless of the environment in which such discriminations take place. In simple terms, an individual forced to work in close contact with a homosexual could claim his religious beliefs are being abridged.

Should there be any doubt as to the comprehensive nature of this objective, take note of the rhetoric that seeks to cast judges as judicial activists. Lest there be any doubt, the same logic for biblical literalism underlies calls for an "originalist" view of the constitutional...a view that virtually ignores current cultural considerations and relies strictly upon those issues that were addressed at the time it was adopted.

In other words, since it was silent on issues of sexual orientation, such issues cannot be adjudicated through the constitution...they weren't considerations at the time and they can't be retroactively included by interpretation. The argument suggests that since no one is preventing gays from forming relationships, albeit absent judicial or legislative recognition, they can't be construed as being denied anything intended by the constitution.

At the same time, if groups like the ADF can succeed in granting religious ideology equal standing with the constitution, arguing that we were, in fact, created as a Christian nation, they could possibly succeed in their goal of removing the prohibitions against commingling church and state...based upon an argument that doing so would remove a form of discrimination.

What is different is the Alliance Defense Fund's direct challenge to the rules that govern tax-exempt organizations. Rather than wait for the IRS to investigate an alleged violation, the organization intends to create dozens of violations and take the U.S. government to court on First Amendment grounds.

"We're looking for churches that are serious-minded about this, churches that understand both the risks and the benefits," Stanley said, referring to the chance that they could lose their coveted tax-exempt status or could set a precedent.

Stanley said three dozen church leaders from more than 20 states have agreed to deliver a political sermon, naming political names.

"The sermon will be an evaluation of conditions for office in light of scripture and doctrine. They will make a specific recommendation from the pulpit about how the congregation would vote," he said.

"They could oppose a candidate. They could oppose both candidates. They could endorse a candidate. They could focus on a federal, state or local election."

Such endorsements are prohibited by a 1954 amendment to the Internal Revenue Code that says nonprofit, tax-exempt entities may not "participate in, or intervene in . . . any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office."

Founded in 1994 by Christian conservatives including James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family and William R. Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, the ADF has challenged same-sex marriage initiatives, stem cell research and rules that limit the distance protesters must keep from abortion patients. It helped the Boy Scouts ban gay Scout leaders.

Defining its latest mission, the ADF declared that pastors have "too long feared" the loss of tax exemptions.

"We're not encouraging any congregation to violate the law," Stanley said. "What we're encouraging them to do is exercise their constitutional right in the face of an unconstitutional law."

The outstanding question, as we approach the 2008 election, is just how close are the ADF and the religious right to achieving their goal? Well, a quick look at recent Supreme Court rulings instructs us that it may well be one vote shy of victory. Should there be any doubt as to the gravity of this election, the next president is assured of at least one appointment...and likely more.

While voters are being distracted by rhetoric, the minions of morality are maneuvering to institutionalize a manifesto that would alter America forever. The fact that they've honed their strategy to portray themselves as victims has been exceptionally effective. Nevertheless, the underlying goal is no less heinous than that of those who sought to to support segregation.

In fact, one could argue that by overlaying their objectives with Biblical doctrine, the end results could be far more oppressive. Even worse, it could be the first step towards the criminalization of all things contrary to "Christian" ideology. Lest anyone doubt this purpose and its potential, heed the frightening words of Tom Delay, a man who has demonstrated a willingness to pursue his objectives regardless of propriety and legality, "He [God] is using me, all the time, everywhere, to stand up for a biblical worldview in everything that I do and everywhere I am. He is training me."

The stakes are enormous.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, ADF, Alliance Defense Fund, Barack Obama, Christianity, Church & State, Constitution, Culture Wars, Discrimination, ENDA, John McCain, LGBT, Religion, Sarah Palin, Supreme Court

Daniel DiRito | September 8, 2008 | 8:38 AM | link | Comments (0)
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September 6, 2008

The Daily Show: The Republican National Convention genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

They say it's the truth behind the humor that makes it so funny. In the following videos, The Daily Show proves this premise beyond a shadow of a doubt.

This past week, Jon Stewart and his cohorts traveled to Minneapolis-St. Paul to cover the Republican National Convention. As it turns out, it's what they uncovered that will make you howl with laughter. Then again, given the gravity of the upcoming election, it could also make you cry. Go figure!

The John McCain Bio

Small Town Values

Sarah Palin

Tagged as: 2008 Election, John McCain, Jon Stewart, Karl Rove, Republican National Convention, RNC, Sarah Palin, Teen Pregnancy, The Daily Show

Daniel DiRito | September 6, 2008 | 5:55 PM | link | Comments (0)
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A Latent Homosexual Makes The Case For Accepting His Homosexuality? genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Video-Philes

He doth protest too much! This is one of the most amazing interviews I've seen in a long time. In the following video, this guy, Ryan Sorba, begins by asserting that Barack Obama is a pro-sodomy activist and then proceeds to offer a scripted diatribe on the origins and evils of homosexuality.

The truth of the matter is that he typifies the Christian mindset that simply cannot get past their own obsessions with all things sexual...and in Ryan's case...all things gay. I would love to know where he gathered all of his opinions...because he sounds like the kind of person who grew up going from one Jesus Camp to another.

It wouldn't surprise me in the least if he's entertained being a minister, spent time in a seminary, and battled homosexual desires his entire life. The level of fear and loathing he exhibits externally has to come from an internal struggle of immense proportions. The gayness of others simply cannot elicit this much attention from a well-adjusted individual.

Frankly, if I thought I should be straight...and my choices were between being gay and being a programmed robot like Ryan...I'd learn to accept my homosexuality. This is the kind of guy that Dan Savage talks about...who ends up in a public restroom having sex with a man...or when caught...proclaims that he has a wide stance.

The frightening part of this entire situation is knowing that this guy was found at the Republican National Convention. Should there be any doubt as to the absolutely absurd ideologies that are held by a number of Republicans, here's the evidence. Heaven help us...this is the kind of lunatic we're up against. Utterly Unbelievable!!

Tagged as: Gay, GOP, Homophobia, LGBT, Republican National Convention, Same-Sex Marriage, Sodomy

Daniel DiRito | September 6, 2008 | 5:10 PM | link | Comments (3)
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Christian Kookery: The Earth Was Baked 6,000 Years Ago genre: Hip-Gnosis

Disclaimer: The use of the following exclamatory expression should in no way be construed as an admission of the existence of the big kahuna...or any other deity.

Oh. My. God.

There is no limit to the denial that Christians will go to in order to affirm their belief in the Bible. Let me repeat...NO LIMITS. In the following video, deccha1981 proceeds to debunk the claims of John Pendleton...a Christian apologist with a brain capacity that makes one wonder if some of us were left out of the evolutionary process.

How's that for creating my own hypothesis out of thin air...I must be having a spiritual awakening, eh? It won't be long before I can speak in tongues and heal the sick...for a small fee, of course.

Anyway, the following video is the first of five in which deccha1981 will dissect our esteemed anti-evolutionist. I'll post the rest of the videos as they become available. This should be fun so be sure to keep an eye out for the follow up postings.

Tagged as: Big Bang, Christianity, Creationism, Evolution, Humor, Religion, Science

Daniel DiRito | September 6, 2008 | 3:46 PM | link | Comments (1)
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Real Time With Bill Maher: 09/05/08 genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Tongue-In-Cheek

Bill Maher is my hero! Last nights show simply reminded me of that fact. While one could argue that his acerbic tongue alienates the religious right and those voters who might be persuadable, I've come to the conclusion that it may be the only way to fight a war with ideological fanatics.

Honestly, in the course of an hour, Maher's program did more to refute the nonsense spewed by the GOP and their Christian allies than you'll find in a weeks worth of cable news programming. Maher's take no prisoners style may not be appropriate for a news format, but we desperately need more of his clarity and candor.

Truth be told, we live in a nation that is being fed a choreographed script that has little connection to reality. We've just ended a week of watching the GOP and John McCain do what they do best...tell lies...over and over again. Unfortunately, they succeed in this endeavor because they are, for the most part, telling their tall tales to a willing audience...an audience that is capable of ignoring science in favor of its cherished Biblical babble.

Never have I seen such a willingness to pander and such a hunger to accept it. All the GOP needs to do is toss out the necessary code words and the flock is willing to march in lockstep...assured that their beliefs will not be challenged and facts will not be allowed to interfere with the precepts of their fantastical faith.

OK, let's start by looking at the opening segment of last evenings program...a faux commercial premised upon the Palin family's "pentecostal" predisposition...for celebrating pregnancy. You see, if you're a Christian, you can do no wrong...even when contradicting the judgments you heap upon everyone else. The simple fact that you believe in Christ...and are willing to tell everyone you do...makes everything you do part and parcel of God's will. So as we've seen with the pregnancy of Bristol Palin, if you're fornicating for Jesus, you go girl...let the spirit (and the sperm) be with you!

Look, in my mind, if the Palin's and others can celebrate their small town small mindedness as a badge of honor, the rest of us who live in this country have every right to ridicule their right wing rednecks. If Levi Johnston can state the following on his MySpace page, we can surely call him a holier-than-thou hick.

"I'm a f - - -in' redneck" who likes to snowboard and ride dirt bikes."

"But I live to play hockey. I like to go camping and hang out with the boys, do some fishing, shoot some s- - - and just f - - -in' chillin' I guess."

"Ya f - - - with me I'll kick ass."

Is that supposed to be charming? Is that representative of the family values we embrace? You see, the GOP flew him to their convention and paraded him on the tarmac...with John McCain virtually giving him a hand job...and then the network cameras cut away to him and his knocked-up honey (celebrities anyone?) while mommy spouted her nonsense.

OK, aren't these the same people who had a fit when we got a split second view of Janet Jackson's breast? Mind you Jackson wasn't knocked-up...and Justin Timberlake hadn't knocked her up...and the two of them were simply performing a song on a stage. The reaction of the GOP? Outrage...sinful...disgusting...immoral...unfit for our children to see...fine the shit out of the network! In other words, performance art is far worse than parading a teenage boy and and his knocked up girlfriend for 40 million Americans to glorify...teens who have MySpace pages containing the crap noted above...teens who haven't the good sense to use contraception...all because we're concerned about the upholding of family values?!

Well excuse me, but why is Hollywood the big bad villain...the home of secular elites...the epicenter of all that is wrong with America...and Wasilla, Alaska is home to the newly found titular head of the Republican Party...and the newly impregnated family values virgin mother? Tell me, what's wrong with this picture? Quite frankly, I'm sick and tired of being told that my values are inferior and that I'm a member of the educated elite. Since when did stupidity wrapped in Christianity become a virtue?

I'm capable of distinguishing the entertainment value of Janet Jackson's breast from the idiocy of having sex without a condom...and I don't need no stinkin' Bible or abstinence only program to figure it out. Her breast isn't going to make me hire a male prostitute or tap my foot in an airport bathroom stall to solicit sex...just as the Bible isn't going to keep Levi Johnston's sperm from impregnating polly purebred.

I'm reminded of Howard Beale's famous soliloquy in the movie Network in which he stated the following:

We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.' Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad.

You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, Goddamnit! My life has VALUE!' So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell,

'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!'

I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it:

"I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"

Perhaps that's why I so admire Bill Maher...he is as mad as hell...and he doesn't want to take it anymore...and he is at the window yelling...imploring us to refuse to take this crap anymore.

Take a look at the comments of Dan Savage during last evenings show. Note the clarity he displays in cutting through the utter hypocrisy being demonstrated by the roll-out of their right wing Republican with a vagina...the new life support system for the dicks who run the GOP and use these seemingly cuckolded Christians to win elections and run this country into the ground...while lining their licentious pockets.

Gotta hand it to the GOP's good old boys...they're on the verge of successfully repackaging tokenism as feminism...while f-----g over the vast majority of Americans...men or women...along the way. It's one hell of a hat trick. If they succeed, when the buzzer sounds, the loser will finally realizes he or she's been "scored upon"...but only when it's too late and the rabbit's already dead. As Maher so aptly puts it, welcome to plutocracy!

Dan Savage On The GOP & Women

Dan Savage On The GOP Hypocrisy

Honestly, the words coming out of Savage's mouth are an adherence to truth...a moral manifesto far superior to the scripted pabulum that is coming out of Sarah Palin's mouth. Seriously, it's impossible to respect the GOP and the governor when they are so willing to corrupt and misconstrue Christian values for votes. It's even more difficult to respect those voters who allow themselves to be used in this fashion. The truth of the matter is that out of their own lack of self-examination and their delusional and dogged adherence to denial, the voters who enable the GOP are actually embracing a doctrine that is fully situational and summarily subjective.

When Savage mentions the role of women, and James Dobson's belief that women should remain at home with their children, he's referencing Focus on the Family's involvement with, and support of, Promise Keepers...the group that rose to national notoriety under the guidance of former Colorado University football coach, Bill McCartney.

Generally speaking, the objective of Promise Keepers was to empower men to take back their roles as the leader of their families...and to simultaneously instruct the women in their lives that their role should be subservient to that of their husbands...all out of an adherence to God's instruction, of course.

While McCartney was busy empowering men, his daughter, like Sarah Palin's daughter, was also busy getting pregnant while unmarried. Let me be clear...getting pregnant is not the issue and I pass no judgment upon these young women. In fact, I have great sympathy for them and the lack of logical instruction they are receiving from their parents.

You see, if one thing is true of children, it's their ability to see inconsistency and hypocrisy. Unfortunately, their typical reaction to it often includes the acting out of self-destructive behaviors. In many ways, they do this to demonstrate the dissonance that exists in their lives...a primitive attempt to tell mom and dad that they are full of shit.

In other words, they lack the authority to sit mom and dad down, so they subconsciously seek to force mom and dad into reflecting upon their inane ideological irrationalities. Sadly, these efforts rarely succeed. In fact, it often forces the child into further embracing the doctrine of their parents as they rarely have the means to support themselves. Hence we witness a process of perpetuation that involves breaking the spirit of one's children such that the cycle of indoctrination is self-sustaining. As the old saying goes, "The sins of the father will be visited upon the son."

The bottom line...what these people are selling just doesn't work...and it's time to say so...loud and clear...over and over...and to elect leaders that will not coddle them.

OK, so let's close with a look at this weeks New Rules.

As always, Maher cuts through the John McCain mumbo jumbo of, "My friends... ignore the ground noise and the static" to present us with unfiltered reality. Maher quickly slices through the BS...pointing out the many misrepresentations that accompany the GOP's rhetoric. Maher closes with a clear indictment of the oft heard meme that Barack Obama is an elitist.

Maher aptly highlights the real issue...that the GOP has figured out the means to play upon the insecurities found in all too many voters. Rather than vote issues, too many American voters are stuck in a never ending battle with their own nefarious narcissism.

America needs change...but I fear it wont begin until the Democrats take the GOP, kicking and screaming, out to the wood shed for an old fashioned whooping. I'm looking forward to watching it unfold on November 4th. In the meantime, I'll be standing at my window...yelling at the top of my lungs, "I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Bill Maher, Bristol Palin, Christian, Comedy, Dan Savage, Democrat, GOP, Humor, Janet Jackson, Levi Johnston, Network, Parenting, Religion, Sarah Palin

Daniel DiRito | September 6, 2008 | 9:50 AM | link | Comments (1)
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September 5, 2008

The Palin Play: Pulpits...Puppets...Politics...Profits genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak

Quite frankly, the GOP's political parlance is the equivalent of being told that one can engage in a circle jerk with one's self. I think it is actually more akin to placing one's head up one's behind. Yes..it's still a circle...but the outcome isn't quite as pleasant.

Look, I'll happily give the GOP credit for creativity and cunning. They do both well...especially when they combine the two to further their deceptive agenda. At the same time, there is something offensive about the audacity exhibited in the execution.

I want to focus on one particular situation...one that I believe typifies the sickening symbiotic relationship that has flourished between the GOP and the religious right...a coalition akin to two ambitious and unscrupulous tramps engaged in a classic contortion...one I'd equate with a shallow and sleazy 69 suckfest.

So here's the backdrop. The McCain campaign, rightly so, rolled out their vice presidential nominee in a carefully crafted appearance at their convention. She hit all of the right notes demanded by the Christian conservatives who had threatened to twiddle their thumbs come November 4th...unless John McCain toss them a bone...or at least the lipsticked pit bull to gnaw upon the bones of the enemy.

Nothing wrong with any of that...even though I find it to be the equivalent of a marriage of convenience. After all, it's just the logical progression in the politicization of the world's oldest profession...and we know the GOP has always been "pro-business".

With that said, we can move onto the treachery...and the hypocrisy. The issue at hand is the GOP's strategy to insulate Palin from any unwanted media scrutiny...while manufacturing the meme that the mainstream media is out to get her. First, take a look at the following discussion between Chris Matthews, Pat Buchanan, and Michelle Bernard. In the video, Buchanan adopts this meme and argues that the GOP and the McCain campaign have every right to shield Palin from "unfair" media scrutiny.

Matthews, who I've often criticized for his biased treatment of Hillary Clinton, correctly calls Buchanan on his shameless spinning of campaign rhetoric. In essence, Buchanan and those complicit in the effort to use Palin for political gain (the GOP elite and their Christian conservative cohorts) are attempting to craft a paper-thin persona they feel will garner votes in November.

Again, nothing wrong with that objective...since every campaign does the same. However, the McCain campaign has chosen to take it to another level...electing to scapegoat the mainstream media in order to prevent them from scrutinizing Palin. In truth, it hasn't been the MSM that dug into Palin's personal life...but they want to make that case in order to justify their refusal to make their candidate available for questioning.

As if this weren't enough, the strategy has taken another turn designed to further sully the media and keep Palin in a protective bubble. Shortly after the McCain operatives initiated this strategy, some members of the MSM suggested that the campaign would schedule a few softball interviews and then argue that they had, in fact, made the candidate available. The goal, of course, centers on keeping Palin away from the tough questions.

Enter the manufactured GOP outrage aimed at Oprah. As the Drudge Report story goes, Oprah and her staff have been engaged in an internal spat over whether they should schedule Palin for an appearance prior to the election. Mind you, this contrived consternation is coming from the same people who routinely attack Oprah...accusing her of a liberal bias, of promoting a false religion, and of being a part of the elite celebrity media.

So here's the multi-faceted set up. The GOP and the McCain campaign don't want Palin interviewed by the media...but they also want to discredit those portions of the media they frequently frame as left-leaning elitists...all designed to further the idealized image they are attempting to attach to Governor Palin in the minds of voters. Call it theater in the extreme.

Let's jump ahead to the end view. Absent palpable positions on the issues, the damaged GOP brand must rely upon caricature creation, character assassination, and cynicism if they hope to win in November. Hence, the selection of Palin must be viewed as an expedient political calculation. Pick a relatively unknown woman from a remote state...who can energize the tepid evangelical base...capitalize upon the anger over the Clinton loss...offset the historic ramifications of a black candidate...and inoculate the party and the candidate from the media scrutiny that would accompany such a superficial strategy.

As such, the goal was to maintain secrecy, strike first, strike often, repeat the meme regardless of the facts, and hope to convince voters that every segment of the media is wrong and biased...thereby discrediting or diminishing any of the facts that may come to light about Governor Palin. In other words, the goal was to avoid all media appearances and infer the totality of the partiality found in every segment of the media. In fact, they never intended to have Palin appear on Oprah...they simply made the calculation that an inquiry would return a declination and allow the advancement of the meme.

Disgusting as this strategy may be, the real tragedy is far greater...as is the need to insure that it doesn't come to pass. The unholy alliance that exists between the evangelical elite and the GOP elite...designed to dupe voters...must be exposed and broken. Otherwise, change will never occur.

Unfortunately, this double-headed monster has succeeded in melding the narrow and intransigent mindset of morality, held by a majority of voters, with the overarching and well-disguised ambitions of those who stand shielded from scrutiny behind the pulpit and/or the podium. So long as these two tyrants are able to execute their obfuscated objectives, they will pursue and produce the propaganda needed to perpetuate their obsession for power and profit...at any cost.

Therefore, this election may well be the quintessential battle to break the strangle hold of those who have shown little hesitation to place their hunger for power ahead of the health and well-being of the nation. Like the religion they invoke to achieve these goals, the promises they make to the voters they court are equally ethereal and lacking substance. While they espouse the virtue of values in order to win votes, they defy virtue while working tirelessly to amass all that they view to have material value.

So long as we enable them to obtain their earthly desires, we will continue to forego the future we are told to faithfully await. It's an exchange we can no longer afford. Sarah Palin is a puppet...perhaps a knowing one...perhaps not...but a puppet nonetheless. This theater of the absurd will only go dark when voters demand a better production...in the ballot box.

Tagged as: 2008 Election, Chris Matthews, GOP, John McCain, Media, Michelle Bernard, Morality, Oprah, Pat Buchanan, Politics, Religion, Sarah Palin, Values

Daniel DiRito | September 5, 2008 | 12:33 PM | link | Comments (0)
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