Alphonso Jackson, Housing Secretary for Bush, Resigning

Alphonso Jackson, the Secretary of Housing for Bush, is resigning to spend more time with his family. Of course, there’™s some troublesome and questionable contracts he’™s given out. The big suprise here is that there’™s no whiney excuses yet. No alcoholism to blame, at least yet.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Mr. Jackson is just the latest in a long line of Bush appointees who has resigned to go spend more time with his family. He may need that time, as the DOJ is investigating him for giving out contracts to friends. Yes, the culture of curruption is alive and well and living in the Bush Administration still. Here’™s the skinny from the New York Times:

‘œThere comes a time when one most attend more diligently to personal and family matters,’ Mr. Jackson said. ‘œ Now is such a time for me.’

‘œSeven years ago, President Bush gave me an extraordinary opportunity to serve HUD and the nation,’ said Mr. Jackson, who first joined the department as deputy secretary in 2001. ‘œAs the son of a lead smelter and nurse midwife, and as the last of 12 children, never did I imagine I’™d serve America in such a way. I am truly grateful for the opportunity.’

Mr. Jackson said that he had worked hard to keep families in their homes, to revitalize public housing and to preserve affordable housing. ‘œDuring my time here, I have sought to make America a better place to live, work and raise a family,’ he said.

He left the room without taking any questions.

Well, that didn’™t tell us anything, did it? The Times was going to quote Mr. Jackson, which is fair, but they led off with the charges. They’™re a bit exotic. Contracts in sweet places going to friends, threats to the Philadelphia Housing Authority if they won’™t sell land they own to politically connected friends of Jackson. This seems a bit bald-faced, on the surface:

Housing secretary Alphonso R. Jackson resigned on Monday, saying that he needed to devote more time to his family. The announcement came as federal authorities were investigating whether he had given lucrative housing contracts in the Virgin Islands and New Orleans to friends.

His resignation, effective April 18, also comes as the Bush administration is increasingly relying on the department’™s Federal Housing Administration to help stanch the widening foreclosures.

In recent weeks, Mr. Jackson had faced mounting pressure to leave his post. The FBI has interviewed several of his employees, and two senior Democratic senators called on him to resign, saying the allegations of wrongdoing had undermined his leadership. Lawmakers have also raised concerns about accusations that Mr. Jackson had threatened to withdraw federal aid from the Philadelphia Housing Authority after its president refused to turn over a $2 million property to a politically connected developer.

I’™m thinking Mr. Jackson is a prime candidate for a pardon come January 19th, 2009, so he may not even get indicted. (Can he get pardoned if he’™s not charged until after Bush leaves office?) As a result, we’™ll probably miss out on the usual fun of watching a Republican make the kinds of whiney excuses they normally make when caught with their hands in the cookie jar, or in some male prostitute’™s pants, or playing footsy in a restroom stall, or . . . etc., etc., etc.

Monday, March 31st, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Gay and Lesbian Political Power in Philly

The bloc of voters who are gay and lesbian could change an election, especially if Democrats can energize that bloc. From evidence in Philly it seems they are. The GOP’™s outreach to the Log Cabin Republicans? John Bolton.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

There’™s an article in today’™s Philadelphia Inquirer about how both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are courting the gay vote in PA as they square off for the primary here in just three weeks. It mentions how both campaigns value that voting bloc, and how Chelsea extended her campaign visit to Woody’™s, a major gay bar here, in order to visit with the largely gay and lesbian crowd. I’™m thinking this is a good thing. Neither Clinton nor Obama seems to have a lock on this segment of the voting population, but they sure are energizing the gay and lesbian voters here in Philly. Here’™s a little of the piece from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

You don’™t see many women at Woody’™s, but Chelsea Clinton popped in last week.

To a packed house of screaming supporters, the 28-year-old former first child led a presidential pep rally for her mother at one of the oldest gay bars in Philadelphia.

‘œWe love your highlights!’ a man yelled from the crowd, referring to Chelsea’™s tresses. ‘œWow,’ she said, temporarily bumped off message, ‘œthat’™s something I never heard before.’

At the end of an exhausting day of nonstop events, Chelsea was supposed to leave after 10 minutes. She ended up staying 25.

A few years ago, such a scene would have been unthinkable. But with an eye on the April 22 Pennsylvania Democratic primary, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama are fervently courting the gay vote.

In Philadelphia, gays constitute an estimated 5 percent of voters, according to Malcolm Lazin, president of Equality Forum. That is not an inconsequential percentage in a race as tight as this one.

. . .

For gay Philadelphians, Clinton-Obama is a win-win.

The candidates are so closely – and positively – aligned on key gay and lesbian issues, either would make a strong presidential nominee, say numerous members of the community.

Leading up to the primary, there doesn’™t appear to be a clear front-runner among gay voters in what is affectionately known as the City of Brotherly and Sisterly Love.

So what are the Republicans doing to get out the gay vote? Well, McCain is courting the endorsements of all sorts of pastors who have one time or another, if it isn’™t their chief concern, advocated less that citizen status for gay and lesbian citizens. McCain himself isn’™t willing to talk about any legislation ensuring that gay and lesbian citizens are protected from descrimination of any kind, and while he doesn’™t support a federal marriage amendment, he’™s not spoken out against such amendments to state constitutions.

Meanwhile, the Log Cabin Republicans are having a convention of sorts in DC, and they’™ve got their speaker all picked out. Get this ‘” it’™s former UN Ambassador John Bolton. Yeah, right, he’™s going to get those folks all fired up and out to the polls. Maybe he’™s going to suggest they have a waterboarding booth at the convention or something? Sheesh!

As the Inquirer piece notes, it’™s a great year to be a gay Democrat, but as is usual, it’™s a sorry, sorry time to be a gay Republican.

Monday, March 31st, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Bush Booed

George Bush was roundly booed at the opening game of the Washington Nationals yesterday. Baseball fans know their politics, I guess.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

George Bush, the former owner of a baseball team, was roundly booed by the crowd at the opening of the Washington Nationals season and new stadium yesterday. Yeah, all those fans were in awe of the new stadium, were hopeful about their team, as all baseball fans are at the beginning of the year, but they saw Bushie up there throwing out the first pitch and they let out a chorus of boos. Smart folks those baseball fans!

The story and video are at RawStory. Go Phillies!

Monday, March 31st, 2008 by Richard Blair |
Category: Bush Arrogance

“Ave Maria,” Tom Monaghan and the Housing Bust

It’™s land speculation on a huge scale that Tom Monaghan is doing in Southwest Florida, and also religious speculation, hoping that conservative catholics will want to relocate to his little utopian community. It’™s not going so well.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

I was first exposed to both the notion of Florida land speculation and to Tom Monaghan back in the early 1980′™s when I was a student at Eastern Michigan University. Ypsilanti is where Monaghan built the first store in his Domino’™s Pizza empire, eventually selling the chain for about a billion dollars. The corporate headquarters is a Frank Lloyd Wright complex near the border of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. I remember thinking at the time that a CEO’™s interest in a nicely designed complex was a good thing, but that Frank Lloyd Wright was very much the day before yesterday. I also remember that Tom Monaghan was an extreme right-wing Catholic who raised millions of dollars for anti-abortion crusaders, and I remember thinking it’™s folks like him who give the whack jobs the courage to wreak the havoc of clinic bombings and murders ‘” but that’™s another article, I suppose.

At the time in a literature class my professor also has us read Frank Conroy’™s ‘œStop-Time,’ a memoir about a growing up in Florida in a subdivision that had been abandoned during a housing bust a while back, a phenomenon Florida has experienced many times over. Well, Florida is experiencing a lhousing bust now, and Tom Monaghan’™s project, in concert with the developer Barron Collier and Pulte homes, is in the Naples area, one of the worst areas hit by the housing bust we’™re currently experiencing.

I like the way the article in the Decomber 2007 issue of Conde Nast’™s Portfolio begins concerning the future of Monaghan’™s planned community and University, Ave Maria. Here’™s a little bit from the article by Dan Winters:

he soil of southwest Florida is loose and sandy, and it absorbs rich men’™s fortunes as readily as the summer rains. Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino’™s Pizza, has poured at least $285 million into a stretch of rural land about 45 minutes from downtown Naples where he is building a new town and university, both named Ave Maria, which are designed to exemplify his conservative Catholic worldview. What has Monaghan’™s investment brought him in return? A picturesque vaulted church and a copper-roofed campus (see slideshow) for his 600-student school, which espouses an orthodox strain of his faith; attacks by civil libertarians, who accuse him of aspiring to create a veritable papal state at the edge of the Everglades; and so far, after years of publicity and months of intense marketing, just 73 completed home sales’”a fraction of the 600 he expected by the end of the year.

Monaghan and his partners’”the Barron Collier Co., a major Florida real estate firm, and Pulte Homes, the country’™s third-largest residential builder’”say it’™s too early to judge the viability of the project, which, after all, is still in its infancy. But the circumstances of Ave Maria’™s birth could not be more challenging. It was conceived in 2001, at the onset of the real estate boom, during which the median home price in Naples would double in just five years. The developers were originally hoping to construct 1,000 houses a year at Ave Maria, reaching a goal of 11,000 over the next decade, while also creating parks, shops, restaurants, and 500,000 square feet of office space. That’™s not going to happen, at least not at the pace the developers had hoped, for reasons that are both symbolic of wider market conditions and peculiar to the unique’”and controversial’”nature of Monaghan’™s project.

Ave Maria looks a bit ‘œmisconceived,’ if not ‘œill-conceived,’ in this real estate climate, but what do I know? Well, I do know a bit about Florida real estate, having lived there when I first started writing for ASZ lo those many years ago. I’™ve seen the skeletons of land speculation lying down roads with encroaching sea grapes and palms, decaying houses half-built, abandoned slabs bleached in the Florida sun. Such aborted tracts in the swamps of the interior of Florida just might be the state’™s biggest crop. But this isn’™t about Florida-bashing. It’™s about Monaghan, a man who has by all accounts been a darned good businessman, until he let his faith get in the way.

I should also note that there’™s a lot of other articles critical of Tom Monaghan’™s vision of an insular and conservative catholic community on the border of the Everglades. Bill Berkowitz writes about Monaghan and the fear that civil rights in Ave Maria will not conform to those in our society as a whole. Berkowitz also calls Ave Maria ‘œMonaghan’™s Big Box Church’ in an article in 2005. Yeah, critiques of Monaghan’™s ‘œvision’ have been around for a while (here and here and here, for instance), and most of them speculate on the mix of business and religion it represents. For instance, the Conde Nast article tries to figure out whether Pulte and Barron Collier, legends in powerhouses in hombuilding and Florida land speculation respectively, are working at cross-purposes with Monaghan with their marketing for the town of Ave Maria. Sure, the university is already there, but it appears Monaghan has sunk a great deal into a conservative catholic version of utopia there, and the Barron Collier/Pulte marketing of the community on billboards throughout Southwest Florida are not mentioning Monaghan’™s vision except by the inclusion of the Ave Maria name. Will people of other faiths who move there be comfortable?

I’™m not an expert on whether the Barron Collier company can pull off a community with such a narrow cultural appeal to the market of homebuyers that has dramatically shrunk in Southwest Florida, but I’™m suspecting they’™re going to have big troubles. These people are going to need jobs, after all, and Southwest Florida’™s industries are citrus and tourism and retirement. The citrus workers likely can’™t afford homes in Ave Maria, and the town itself is far from the beach, the major tourist attraction. But they surely aren’™t marketing this to retired catholics are they? And what of the retired Baptists and Methodists, not to speak of athiests, who might want their little piece of the consecrated swamp? Yeah, I’™m thinking this place is a long, long way from making money, if it ever does. Indeed, I’™m wondering if Ave Maria, the town and the university, might just be a bunch of abandoned slabs and shells of buildings in ten years, a ghost town with a monstrously large cathedral.

I’™m also a little curious. The articles here say that Tom Monaghan wants to market to conservative catholics, people who will feel comfortable in the community. But isn’™t that against the Fair Housing Act? I sure know when I visited a Pulte Home community recently any question that came near asking about the ‘œcharacter’ of the community was met with silence by the realtor. Pulte’™s folks here in Pennsylvania aren’™t about to be caught violating the Fair Housing Act. And, yes, religion is covered under the Fair Housing Act. I envision fines if Monaghan gets his way in his dispute over marketing with his partners Barron Collier and Pulte. That’™ll put a dent in his pocket above and beyond the huindreds of millions of dollars he’™s already sunk into this community which might very well fail miserably.

Hey, at least he’™s not giving all that money to political candidates. Though I’™m pretty sure Tom Monaghan and Rick Santorum are tight. Whack jobs both.

Monday, March 31st, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Living Life On Death’s Game Board

None of us like to contemplate death but the nature of our existence requires it from time to time. For most of us, death is an orderly procession. For others, it can be a persistent threat or a constant concern. Regardless, life should be measured by the living we do; not by the years we live.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

In the aftermath of my sisters serious illness this past week, I couldn’™t help but share my contemplations on life’™s strange relationship with death. While we often do our best to avoid the subject, it consistently finds the means to inject itself into our consciousness. As she continues to recover, those of us who know and love her are forced to confront our fears.

For most of us, life is an orderly procession towards death. When we’™re young, death is barely a blip on our radar’¦and one that we’™re able to ignore with ease. During our youth, the world seems limitless and time is bountiful. Each day is an adventure with potential and the promises of the future appear to be endless.

As the years pass, the distant drum of death grows more pronounced. Like a surreptitious riff in each song of life, eventually death demands its due and it becomes increasingly unlikely that we can deny its presence. Sometimes it’™s the untimely death or the unexpected illness of a loved one or a family friend that awakens us to the fragility of life and the indiscriminate nature of dying. Whatever it may be, our introduction to immortality opens a door that can never again be closed.

For some of us, death walks nearby on a daily basis. In fact, for the gay community, even the most basic of acts has become an untoward dance with death. From the moment a gay teenager imagines his first romance, he must also ponder its potential to shorten his life. We are a community that is denied the opportunity to become brides and grooms, yet we live life forever wed to the possibility that a demonstration of love may set the stage for the final act.

Giving oneself to another has always contained an element of vulnerability. However, when catching the love bug has the potential to be accompanied by an infectious interloper, this innocent act of vulnerability is suddenly transformed into a calculation of calamitous consequences. Though passion is an inevitability; vigilance becomes a necessity. Hence, the pleasure of intimacy can be forever shadowed by the fear of fatality.

HIV isn’™t exclusive to the gay community, but it is an undeniable adjunct. Every parent of a gay son is torn between their hopes for his happiness and their desire to postpone his pursuit of it. In that difficult dichotomy, one could easily conclude that the risks outweigh the rewards and that the lives of gays are forever filled with trepidation. That would be a reasonable assumption’¦but it would also be wrong.

In fact, it is in witnessing the loss of those who chose to live life large’¦in spite of the obstacle of AIDS’¦that has given the gay community much of its resolve and its resiliency. Truth be told, what unites my memories of those I have lost to HIV was their unflinching desire to live. For each of them, life was not measured in years. Instead, their lives were never allowed to be overshadowed by the fear of death. They knew that all lives end in death’¦and they rejected the deception that believes one can be enriched by purchasing more years at the expense of less living. The richness of the memories they left behind affirms both the quantity and the quality of the living they did.

In that knowledge, my own view of life has been forever altered. While illness and death still give me pause; I refuse to let them dictate life. Death is not negotiable and attempts to barter with it are far more beguiling than beneficial. Death is undoubtedly an endpoint but it needn’™t be a constantly constricting continuum. Death may be our final visitor but we mustn’™t feed it by granting it a place at the table of life. Death will kill us but it needn’™t prevent us from feasting on life. Death is final; it needn’™t be preceded by famine.

When life is at risk of being overcome by death, we can cease living in order to watch the monitor’¦hoping for the slightest of movements to assure us that we still reside in the here and now’¦or we can turn away from the monitor and place our trust in the heart that has sustained us during our darkest of hours. The former adds a flawed footnote; the latter an exclamation mark.

I accept that death will ultimately prevail’¦but I refuse to let it dictate that the ending must be a slowly measured fade to black. If life is like theater, I prefer to be an actor on the bright and colorful stage of life’¦in full regalia’¦when the final act goes dark with the sudden flip of a switch.

When that moment arrives, I’™ll stop and silently thank my many mentors for teaching me the merits of living’¦and for the guidance to make a gracious exit.

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Sunday, March 30th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

al-Sadr Calls Off His Militia?

After a week of bloody fighting in several areas of Iraq, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has apparently made his point, and reportedly shut down the offensive being waged by his Mahdi Army militia fighters.

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It’™s hard to tell what this means, but after a week’™s worth of bloodshed, it appears that cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has instructed his militia to fade into the background once again. This comes on the heels of apparent concessions by the toothless administration of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki:

‘¦ a top aide to Sadr, Hazem al-Araji, said Mehdi Army fighters would not hand over their guns. He also said that Sadr’™s followers had received a guarantee from the government that it would end ‘œrandom arrests’ of Sadr followers.

‘œAs the government of Iraq we welcome this statement,’ Maliki’™s spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said in response to Sadr’™s comments. ‘œWe believe this will support the government of Iraq’™s efforts to impose security.’ ‘¦

So, what’™s the end game here? It’™s difficult to say, but it’™s probably safe to assume that there were pallet loads of American hard currency involved. And, al-Sadr’™s crew made their point: they can disrupt the situation in Iraq anytime, anywhere, on basically a moment’™s notice.

Update: Cernig at Newshoggers has been following the developments in Iraq and is providing running commentary. There’™s a lot of weirdness in the interpretation (and implementation) of al-Sadr’™s demands. The bottom line is that he seems to be negotiating from a position of strength, rather than weakness.

It also occurred to me that Darth Cheney met al-Maliki for tea at the Green Zone Bar and Grille about a week before the Iraqi military offensive started in Basra. Could all of this have anything to do with the fact that Basra is the center of Iraq oil production and exporting? Did Cheney bring instructions with him on his visit? Of course, we’™ll never know, but it’™s certainly plausible.

Sunday, March 30th, 2008 by Richard Blair |
Category: Iraq

Al Gore as Compromise Candidate?

What would the landscape of the Democratic Party presidential nominating process have to look like for Al Gore to emerge as a compromise candidate in the general election? Most likely, the party would be in flames, and John McCain would be coasting to an easy victory in November. Down-ticket congressional races (arguably even more important than the presidency) would be in jeopardy. It wouldn’™t be pretty.

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If the Democratic Party nominating fight goes all the way to the convention floor, one scenario that’™s emerged involves President Al Gore. The U.K. Telegraph is reporting this morning that discussions are apparently taking place at high levels in the party to, if neither Clinton nor Obama have enough delegates going into the convention, offer Gore as a compromise candidate:

Plans for Al Gore to take the Democratic presidential nomination as the saviour of a bitterly divided party are being actively discussed by senior figures and aides to the former vice-president.

The bloody civil war between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama has left many Democrats convinced that neither can deliver a knockout blow to the other and that both have been so damaged that they risk losing November’™s election to the Republican nominee, John McCain.

Former Gore aides now believe he could emerge as a compromise candidate acceptable to both camps at the party’™s convention in Denver during the last week of August’¦

Now, frankly, I don’™t think there’™s much of a chance of this scenario coming to pass. In fact, it’™s likely that the Democratic Party would have to be going up in flames for President Gore to allow his name to be offered. And I don’™t see how the selection of Gore by party elders would begin to salve whatever open wounds would have to exist for this scenario to even be considered plausible.

From a clinically neutral standpoint, it would certainly be interesting to see something like a Gore / Dean ticket emerge from such a fight. From a perspective of national self-interest, however, it would be devastating. John McCain would likely coast to an easy victory in November. Down-ticket congressional races (arguably even more important than the presidency) would be in jeopardy. It wouldn’™t be pretty.

Please, Al, put this possibility to rest immediately.

Sunday, March 30th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Criminal? Woman Airline Passenger or Bush Aide?

Which is the criminal, the woman citizen who tried to board a flight while wearing jewelry on her nipples, or the Bush aide who the Center for Free Cuba has alleged to misuse USAID funds? The one most likely to be terrorized at the airport is obvious to anyone who has lived in the USA under Bush.


Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

You make the call. First up is the woman airline passenger from Texas whose sole problem was she tried to get on an airplane with jewelry on. On her nipple, sure, but it was merely jewelry. They made Mandi Hamiln remove the mipple ring with pliers. From the AP wire:

A Texas woman who said she was forced to remove a nipple ring with pliers in order to board an airplane called Thursday for an apology by federal security agents and a civil rights investigation.

“I wouldn’t wish this experience upon anyone,” Mandi Hamlin said at a news conference. “My experience with TSA was a nightmare I had to endure. No one deserves to be treated this way.”

Hamlin, 37, said she was trying to board a flight from Lubbock to Dallas on Feb. 24 when she was scanned by a Transportation Security Administration agent after passing through a larger metal detector witho

Sunday, March 30th, 2008 by Steven Reynolds |

The Switzerland of the Candidate Wars

There are very few progressive websites where one can escape the candidate wars between the Clinton and Obama camps (and their supporters). The war of words has become stupid, vicious, and destructive on so many levels. ASZ strives to be a neutral site in the Dem candidate wars – simply because all of us have bigger fish to fry (and indict) once a Dem president is sworn in, whoever he or she may be.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Swiss FlagJust as a refresher, I’m the blogmaster at ASZ.

On quite a few occasions, I’ve intimated that All Spin Zone will remain neutral in the candidate wars between the Obama and Clinton campaigns, and avoid the vitriol that’s being passed between supporters of either candidate. In fact, I’m exercising a pretty strong editorial hand in ensuring that we’re able to retain a modicum of neutrality. The bottom line remains that there is a true evil among us, and this evil doesn’t carry the surname of Clinton or Obama.

Early on in the Democratic Party nominating process, the contributors to ASZ agreed to endorse Sen. John Edwards, and I’d like to think that we continue to espouse the ideals that he brought to the table, even though he’s long departed the race.

How many times can it be said that either Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama are head and shoulders above what the GOP is offering in John McCain? Over the past few months, I’ve watched as the progressive blogosphere has turned itself upside down – friendships and alliances have been torn apart – and it’s all to air grievances (to the delight of the GOP, I might add) that, in the big scheme of things, are truly minimalist. Here are a few examples of the parity between the candidates on issues that matter:

Both Obama and Clinton see the need for dramatic changes to healthcare provision in the U.S.

Check.

Both Clinton and Obama want to find an honorable (and short term) way out of the quagmire in Iraq.

Check.

Both Obama and Clinton recognize that working class Americans (irrespective of race) are being squeezed by the mortgage and credit crisis that was largely brought on by a corporatist GOP.

Check.

Both Clinton and Obama understand the necessity of increasing education opportunities for all Americans, and have pledged to increase educational funding, government supported grants, and a reduction in debt load for graduating students.

Check.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of agreement between the two candidates. I am personally conflicted that the issues which bring progressives together as a voting block can be absolutely destroyed by what I perceive (and flame me for this if you must) as petty bickering over absolute nonsense.

The GOP has taken an insider’s track this year in trying to blow up the Democratic Party nominating process. A moment’s worth of critical analysis would easily lead just about any clear thinking progressive to the conclusion that much of the discontent that is being fomented within the progressive wing of the Democratic Party has Rovian fingerprints all over it.

You say you don’t want politics as usual? Well, that’s exactly what hyperpartisanship plays into. Think about it.

I mean, there was a time in the not too distant past where I was on the fence about supporting Ron Paul. And why? Simply because Dr. Paul represented a total step change in thinking about how the country is being run. This doesn’t mean that I support the vast majority of Ron Paul’s views – to the contrary – it’s just that we can not afford another four years of congressional gridlock, internecine political in-fighting, and stagnation in addressing the core issues that confront this country.

You want real change? Someone like Ron Paul represents real change. You might not agree with him on the issues, but you have to agree that President Ron Paul would turn things upside down inside the I-495 beltway. The three candidates remaining in the major party races will not. So, don’t tell me that if you support Hillary, you support “change”. Or if you support Barack, that he’s the best change agent around. Neither is the case. Both Clinton and Obama would work within the framework of what they know: Washington politics. Both Obama and Clinton would try to bridge an unbridgable chasm between the left and right. And in the end, the proposals that both of them are backing do not ultimately represent a complete paradigm shift in the political status quo.

That being said, I’m willing to concede that either Clinton or Obama would at least get the rock moving in an uphill direction. But “change agents”? Nah. Neither of them. The real change agent would come out and say:

“I’m not thinking in terms of eight years. I’ll be lucky to finish four. There’s simply too much to repair after decades of mismanagement by a corporate sponsored Republican Party. I’m not naive enough to believe that those who oppose me in either the Democratic or Republican parties are going to be happy with my leadership. But lead, I will. And by God, I will stay true to my personal values whether popular or not, and goddamit, things are going to change. Here’s how…”

I’ve seen neither the Obama or Clinton campaign express this level of fire in the belly. Whichever candidate comes out of the nominating process as the Democratic standard bearer, they’d better be ready to adopt this radical approach. Because if they don’t, John McCain will be the next President of the United States. Hell, Dems might not even retain control of congress in such a scenario.

ASZ is not a pro-Obama or pro-Clinton site, and I’ve made that clear privately to all of the contributors to these pages, and now I’m making it publicly crystal clear to our readers. ASZ is a site dedicated to exposure of a criminal, corporatist-owned, war mongering, sexually hypocritical Grand Old Party, and the advancement of a progressive agenda. Quite simply, this means winning: beating any Republican at the ballot box, from local dog catcher all the way up the ticket to President of the United States.

Anyone not behind this single-minded cause, regardless of who the Dem nominee happens to be, deserves whatever they get on the back end.

Cripes, I don’t even want to think about it.

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008 by Richard Blair |

Tony Perkins Links Global Warming, Abortion, & Gay Marriage

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council wants to enlightens us on climate change. Little did we know that those who seek to address global warming are secretly promoting abortions and same-sex marriage. There is good news. Perkins believes ignoring global warming will hasten our chances to meet our maker.


Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

I’ve long believed that religious fanatics have the willingness and the capacity to justify any behavior or action they feel will further their agenda and solidify their authority over their minions. The evidence supporting my belief just grew exponentially.

In the following video, ABC News explores how global warming is viewed by a number of religious leaders and their denominations. The report stems from the declaration signed by current and former leaders of the Southern Baptist Church in which they assert that they have been too timid on addressing global warming. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council disagrees with this position. Instead, Perkins argues that those who favor a reduction in global warming are actually seeking to promote abortion and same-sex marriage. Perkins contends that limiting population is an element of climate control and is therefore contrary to the promotion of life and procreation. Rather than focus on Perkins’ absurd conflation, I think it makes more sense to explore the motivations that in all likelihood underly it.

After assailing abortion and the gays, Perkins pivots to make the argument that people would be better served to put their energy into preparing themselves spiritually for the end of the world (the rapture or the end of days) instead of championing climate control. I guess Perkins sees humanity like an ant colony in a jar – if our willful actions lead us to outgrow and destroy our planet, the masses should simply soldier on like tireless worker ants.

I find his logic problematic (OK, what logic?) because it suggests that God gave us a brain and the ability to build all that exists in this world…but not the good sense to be prudent stewards in order to preserve and protect it. So I’m left to wonder how we’re supposed to know when it’s time to stop using our brains and drive the humanity bus willy-nilly off the cliff?

However, if God decides when to end the world, why would we suddenly determine that we knew it was coming and therefore elect to throw caution to the wind? Isn’t that rather presumptive and arrogant on our part? What if we’re wrong? Isn’t it possible that God would see our carelessness as a sin? Further, what right do we have to destroy his creation…on our own timeline?

People like Perkins like to hear themselves pontificate but they rarely take the time to think through the significance of their proclamations. Is God going to reward those leaders and industries that ignored global warming in the pursuit of profit since their efforts will have helped facilitate the end of days? Will Al Gore and those who sought to save the planet be banished to hell because they opposed unbridled profits at the expense of extinguishing the planet?

If so, wouldn’t that mean that those who chose to give, like the woman in the parable of the widow’s mite, were being punished…while those who chose to take, like the tax collectors seeking to amass more wealth, were being rewarded? How could that be God’s plan?

The answer may be found in what has come to be known as the prosperity doctrine, prosperity theology or the prosperity gospel. Essentially, those who promote this version of faith (and there are many well known ministers) argue that God wants his believers to be successful in all they do…including the accumulation of wealth.

I don’t know if Tony Perkins is a disciple of this thinking or not; but the contradictions found in his position on global warming better align him with prosperity theology than with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Taking it a step further, I doubt Perkins plans to suffer in the days that precede the end of the world; otherwise he would have already diminished his focus on the material world in order to allow time to prepare his own soul for the impending rapture.

You see, I contend that men like Perkins have no intention of suffering…though they make their living asking others to do just that…especially if it means pledging to donate a greater share of their income. Men like Perkins worship money and the spoils of capitalism above all else. They view climate control as an impediment to the pursuit of wealth…though they couch their opposition to it as the promotion of life.

Yes, all too often, the lives of Perkins and his ilk are steeped with worldly treasures. My cynicism tells me they are the equivalent of modern day snake oil salesmen. They travel from this conference to that speaking engagement…preaching their version of values…while separating as much coin from the congregation as is humanly possible.

I question the sincerity of leaders who lecture their flocks ad nauseam on the importance of sacrificing for the afterlife in order to receive its many rewards…particularly when they insist upon rewarding themselves handsomely in the here and now…as if there were no tomorrow.

Perhaps I just don’t know my commandments…especially the one that states – Thou shalt use the name of the Lord thy God when one taketh without guilt.

The following video clip includes the original ABC report along with several insertions of commentary in the form of text added by the individual that uploaded it to YouTube. It is somewhat distracting but it doesn’t prevent the viewer from following the original ABC News report. Perhaps as payment for enduring the editorializing, they include a snippet from the TV show Family Guy at the end of the clip. I thought it was funny so hopefully it will make you chuckle.

ABC News Video – Global Warming & Evangelicals

Cross-posted at Thought Theater

Friday, March 21st, 2008 by Daniel DiRito |
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