Newt Slams Obama on Faith, Ignores Real Americans Dying

Newt slammed Barack Obama for appointing a gay former Methodist Minister to his Office of Faith-Based Partnerships. He pandersd to the extremist gay-hating wing of the GOP. We’re not surprised. This ignores Americans in pain, not just gay Americans, but even the mother of an 11 year old boy, a suicide taunted with hate of the gay.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

As usual, it is all about the GAY! Newt Gingrich knows if his comeback is to be successful, he needs to pay homage to the radical Christian extremists who whine about gay marriage and gay anything. So he’s slamming Barack Obama’s appointments to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Newt is slamming the appointments, but he’s really slamming the gay, and he’s got a lot of support ont he extremist anti-gay wing of the Republican Party. Here’s what Newt had to whine about, from CNN:

Newt Gingrich said Tuesday the Obama administration is “intensely secular” and “anti-religious,” the former House Speaker’s second hard-hitting criticism of the new administration this week.

In an interview with FOX News, Gingrich said he strongly disagreed with Obama’s choice of Harry Knox – an outspoken activist for gay rights – to the White House advisory council on faith-based initiatives.

“I think their goal is to have a very secular America in which government dominates everything,” he said. “Why wouldn’t you put an anti-religious, left-wing zealot on a faith-based group? It’s a perfect pattern for this administration.”

Since 2005, Knox has served as the director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national organization that advocates on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. He is also a former Methodist pastor.

Newt evidently missed the list of people Obama appointed. (Here’s the list, Newt, since you obviously haven’t read it.) It’s got a ton of people who are quite religious. sure, Newt might not like that there’s a Hindu on the list, and he might not agree with the politics of Jim Wallis, but that doesn’t mean those folks are irreligious, as Newt claims. Knox isn’t irreligious either. But he is gay, and Newt attacking his appointment with falsehoods is par for the course. Newt himself is converting to Catholicism as a serially divorced man, so the hypocrisy of him defending religion falsely is rich, rich, rich.

More scandalous is the ugly politics of attacking gay people in this country. Why scandalous? Such attacks and ugliness lead to an environment where real people, real Americans, are hurt. Sirdeaner L. Walker is one of those Americans. She came home Monday in Springfield, MA on Monday to find her 11 year old son, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, hanging by an extension cord. The boy had been taunted at school. He’d been called gay by the other kids. Repeatedly.

America’s tragedy, and the Republican Party’s shame is that they treat gay and lesbian citizens as if they were trash. In doing so these “leaders” give license t

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by Steven Reynolds |

Musharref Resignation: Bush’s GWOT Just Got More Interesting

The world that the next president of the United States inherits is going to look very different than the current model. Global geopolitics are changing fast – Russia / Georgia, and now Pakistan’s Pervez Musharref resigns. Instability within the membership of the global nuclear club isn’t a good thing.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

I’m going to go out on a limb and make a prediction:

Before the next president takes office on 1/20/2009, the world is going to be a much different place. It’s almost starting to seem like the Bush regime is going out of their way to scorch them some earth, and leave a huge pile of crap for the next administration to sort through.

First, we have Russia and Georgia, a situation which isn’t going away anytime soon. The instability in the region will remain, and all parties will be nervously fingering a cocked trigger. But at least Condi Rice finally decided to leave the Feragamo store, quit vacation early, and head for the region. Bush himself delayed his two week vacay a day or two to “monitor developments”, but he’s now busy with brush clearing in Crawford.

Today comes word that BushCo / Cheney LLC’s lapdog, Pervez Musharref, has ended months of speculation and is resigning as president of Pakistan. There’s not much that I can add to this piece of news, other than what this means is even more instability in an already unstable member of the global nuclear club.

Georgia has nukes and ground forces. Russia has nukes and ground forces. The U.S. has nukes and essentially no uncommitted ground forces. Pakistan has nukes and ground forces, and a military which is not (apparently) answerable to the country’s civilian leadership.

The world that the next POTUS inherits just five short months from now will be very different than that which the Bush regime has operated with relative impunity. I’m not smart enough to know what that world might look like, but unfortunately, I am tuned into what’s happening just enough to be ve

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 by Richard Blair |

Taliban Advances in Pakistan

The ham-handed, post-9/11 foreign policy moves of the Bush administration have actually led the world much closer to the possibility nuclear terrorism. In the near term, President Obama is left with very few (if any) realistic options to deal with the deteriorating political situation in Pakistan.

Commentary By: Richard Blair

Taliban in PakistanIn the immediate aftermath of the events of 9/1//2001, the Bush administration made a strategic foreign policy blunder that is still reverberating with negative consequences: embracing the government of Pakistan, then controlled by military strongman Pervez Musharraf, as a full partner in the administration’s horribly misguided “global war on terror”.

The thing is, the Musharraf regime was never more than an unwilling accomplice to BushCo’s wet dreams of U.S. dominion in the Middle East. Terrorist training camps within Pakistan continued to operate unfettered even as U.S. forces stormed into neighboring Afghanistan. Operations conducted by Pakistan’s military have been mostly staged for “show” purposes, and have been only marginally effective. Since Musharraf’s resignation as President, extremist elements in the country have made significant inroads, up to and including the government acceding to Taliban demands earlier this year that Shari’a law be implemented in a major Pakistani province.

And now, it appears as if Taliban militias are within striking distance of toppling the Pakistani government. Militia forces have advanced to within mere miles of Islamabad:

Residents streaming from Buner, home to nearly a million people, told local newspapers that armed militants are patrolling the streets. Pakistani television stations aired footage of Taliban soldiers looting government offices and capturing vehicles belonging to aid organizations and development projects. The police, say residents, are nowhere to be seen…

…Maulana Fazlur Rehman, head of one of the country’s Islamic political parties, warned in Parliament Wednesday [that] the Margalla Hills, a small mountain range north of the capital that separates it from Buner, appears to be “the only hurdle in their march toward the federal capital,” The only solution, he said, was for the entire nation to accept Shari’a law in order to deprive the Taliban of their principal cause.

The Bush administration left office with the full knowledge that they were leaving behind a fetid, smoking pile of foreign policy manure. Without a doubt, the instability in nuclear armed Pakistan is fast becoming the number one priority for Team Obama.

It’s interesting that the handwringers on the right were so worried about extremist Islamic elements getting their hands on nuclear weaponry from Saddam in the aftermath of 9/11. Many of us on the left also harbored the same concerns – except that the geographic source of the concern was much different – Pakistan, a nation that already possessed the weapons of mass destruction.

The ham-handed, post-9/11 foreign policy moves of the Bush administration have actually led the world much closer to the possibility nuclear terrorism. In the near term, President Obama is left with very few (if any) realistic options to deal with the deteriorating political situation in Pakistan.

But deal with it, he must. And soon.

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 by Richard Blair |

Next GOP Campaign to Alienate Independent Voters

The news out of Trinidad and Tobago this morning has Obama signalling a new beginning in Western Hemisphere relations, including with Cuba and Venezuela. The GOP will react by refighting the Cold War, complete with sugar cane to go with the teabags. That will further alienate independent voters. Republican FAIL again.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

It’s going to be Cuba, folks. The GOP is going to get a bunch in their underwear about Barack Obama working to change the direction of US policy towards Cuba. There’s a photo on virtually every front page int he country today with Barack Obama shaking hands with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and Obama recently eased restrictions on the long, long economic embargo of Cuba. That’s enough ammunition for the whack jobs in the GOP to seize on this. Perhaps the sex-crazed teabagging didn’t alienate enough independent voters (MSNBC has video), so they’ll work this issue. From the Washington Post we have a glimpse of yesterday’s actions, which will spark the faux Republican outrage:

“The United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba,” Obama countered in his own speech. “I know there is a longer journey that must be traveled in overcoming decades of mistrust, but there are critical steps we can take toward a new day.” Earlier this week, Obama lifted restrictions on travel to the island by Cuban Americans.

The administration has been careful to accompany its outreach to Cuba with demands that the government allow more political and personal freedoms before the embargo is lifted. “They’re certainly free to release political prisoners,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters yesterday. “They’re certainly free to stop skimming money off the top of remittance payments as they come back to the Cuban island. They’re free to institute a greater freedom of the press.”

But events appeared to be outpacing the administration’s efforts to adjust its Cuba policy on its own terms. Earlier yesterday, the secretary general of the Organization of American States said he would ask its membership to readmit Cuba – ejected in 1962 at U.S. urging – when that organization meets next month. Bipartisan bills have been introduced in both houses of Congress to lift all travel restrictions and ease the embargo.

And it was not at all clear that Cuba is ready to grasp the olive branch Obama is extending.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that a reported willingness by Cuban President Ra–ºl Castro to discuss “everything” with the United States was a “welcome overture.” Her comments followed news accounts from Cuba that quoted Castro as expressing willingness to talk with the United States about “human rights, press freedom, political prisoners, anything they want to discuss,” as long as it was a conversation between “equals” that respected Cuba’s sovereignty.

There we have it, Obama reaching out to mend fences and begin with a new relationship with Cuba. His handshake with Hugo Chavez can be seen in the same light. There’s nothing here, though, to indicate that Barack Obama is giving away the store or anything. He’s simply showing himself and his administration as ready to improve those relations, and he’s getting at least a glimmer of positive response from Chavez and Castro. How could the Republicans possibly try to exploit that? Well, you can bet they will.

The Republican teabagging debacle played to the Republican whackjob base and alienated independents partly because of its ludicrous imagery and the whackjobs it attracted, but it also alienates because with its rallying against supposed socialism it is fighting the Cold War again, 20 years after the Cold War ended. The only vestige we have of the Cold War now is the relationship the US holds towards Cuba and Venezuela. Just take a look at how Presidents of the past dealt with Cuba. The results have been almost no change in Cuba, and a hardening of the radicals on the subject. But, hey, those radicals on the subject of Cuba are already voting Republican, and the small “c” notion of conservatism suspicious of change of any kind is a notion they embrace, even when conservative voices such as The Economist in December called for change in the US stance towards Cuba:

All this means that for the Castros, Barack Obama may turn into a far more formidable foe than his predecessors. The danger starts with his example: after all, a young, black, progressive politician has no chance of reaching the highest office in Cuba, although a majority of the island’s people are black. Mr Obama has already promised to reverse the restrictions on remittances and travel by Cuban-Americans imposed by Mr Bush. Once he is in office, the new president should go further and urge Congress to lift the embargo altogether. It is wrongheaded and ineffective. If it went, Cubans would know they had nobody except their rulers to blame for their plight.

That’s good policy thinking there. 50 years of the US embargo on Cuba has done nothing, so why not make a change, show the Cuban people what change means to them and their lives? There’s a lot of chance for success here, and the next three and a half years could see a thaw in relations where tourism flourishes in Cuba and Americans in general come to embrace happier relations with the country. Oh, the Republicans will howl that easing the embargo and encouraging tourism will put money in Cuba’s economy, but they’ll appeal only to the GOP base, and will alienate independents, if this issue shows up on the radar screen of anyone at all but the Republican base.

That’s the bottom line, I suppose. The Republicans will try to fight the Cold War all over again by whining about Obama’s attempts to change policy towards Cuba. Not a doubt about that. The leaders of the Republican Party, Hannity and Limbaugh and Gingrich and G. Gordon Liddy, will whine and howl, but nobody really cares besides the hardcore Republican base. Sure, much of that base consists of Cuban-Americans in Florida, but I’m thinking even they will be won over eventually as they are able to visit relatives and see their homeland. And surely the Cuban-Americans do not rive the Latino vote in this country, not if you look at the results of the last Presidential race.

The big thing is that the Republicans will stand foursquare in the way of progress and reconciliation on this issue as just another facety of their “Just Say No” agenda. They’ll likely put together sugar cane parties to go with the teabagging (is there a sexual innuendo to go with “sugar cane?”). Mojitos will be downed among Republicans, or poured into the Miami harbor, or whatever, and independent voters will be turned off.

Ah, Republicans are so predictable!

Saturday, April 18th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

No Drama Choc-Obama

For Obama the Ben and Jerry’s flavor is “Yes Pecan,” but from the reports about how the Obama White House handled the Somali piracy crisis this weekend, they might consider “No Drama Choc-Obama” instead. The whack jobs will whine that they don’t get a flavor. “Teabaggery Dunce” sounds good, but I’m up for suggestions.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Well, chocolate is the big thing ont he agenda today at the White House, and eggs and children. It will be a frenzied White House lawn, but there’s calm there in the White House, and we saw it over the weekend. I’m thinking we saw evidence that “Yes Pecan” is a good flavor name to represent the Obama candidacy, but that “No Drama Choc-Obama” might be the best Ben and Jerry’s flavor to represent the Obama Presidency given the last couple days. The pirates in Somalia got slammed, as we all know from reading the papers (Inquirer, New York Times) and watching the news, and Captain Richard Phillips is freed unharmed. Certainly this is a triumph for the US, and a triumph for Barack Obama as well, but the way the Obama Administration handled the crisis shows us calm and deliberation and competence. From an analysis piece by the AP:

Since the standoff began, Obama had made no public, in-person remarks on the topic, even declining to answer when questions were shouted at him during a press availability.

He did not call in his cabinet for a high-profile command meeting. He let military and top administration officials do the talking, but even they kept saber-rattling out of the equation.

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said Obama’s silence should not be interpreted to mean he wasn’t deeply involved. Obama’s public posture was calculated to not raise the temperature on the situation or give the hostage-takers anything to exploit.

So what Obama did was receive regular briefings, sometimes half a dozen a day. He weighed in with two critical decisions letting the military act to save Phillips’ life. And he laid the groundwork for a federal criminal law-enforcement response.

Calm, efficient, competent. The Obama Administration did all the right things in this crisis, and while it is a relatively small crisis, it is a big contrast to the “sky is falling” character of the Bush White House, what with their terror alert color coding and their panicky use of torture, invasion of countries not involved in terror, etc. Big contrast, but not one we should be surprised at. This Obama team has shown consistent competence over the last couple years. The only question right now is how the whack job Republicans will spin this Obama triumph. Certainly at there is happiness at the outcome, but the whack jobs that frequent the site are taking their shots at Obama, which you can read here. On Redstate the whining is about Obama taking credit for something he had no part in, despite facts, and the conversation is raving over there. I suppose these dimwits are taking after Newt Gingrich and Britt Hume and Glenn Beck when they slammed Obama before this crisis ended. Still, no consistent Republican whack job narrative is forming since this resolution of the crisis yesterday, but we’ve got the blowhard Rush Limbaugh going on the air in a couple hours, and he will likely complain that the captured pirate isn’t being tortured.

Meanwhile, I suggest the new flavor at Ben and Jerry’s to honor Obama should be “No Drama Choc-Obama,” and that it be added to the list alongside “It’s Pecan.” Sure, neither of those two flavors is as entertaining as the flavor suggestions for President Bush, but they are strong and calm and bespeak leadership.

Does anyone have any ice cream flavors to describe the whack jobs out there who can whine about even this triumph? I’m thinking it needn’t be an appetizing name, but should reflect the notions of whininess while also representing the divorce from reality evinced by the whack jobs on the right. On another issue one would be tempted to come up with the ice cream flavor “Teabaggery Dunce,” or somesuch, but no new flavor names are jumping to mind to describe the rank and file whack jobs of the GOP, their base and ugly “base,” as it were. Help me out, wouldya?

Monday, April 13th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Vatican Running US Foreign Policy?

The Vatican has reportedly rejected three candidates for US Ambassador to the country, inluding Caroline Kennedy. What gives them the right? It appears they take whatever “right” they can, including determining our foreign policy. while it might not be politic to play hardball with the Vatican, it is time to assert our rights.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Oh, the Vatican has not yet weighed in on all of the foreign policy decisions of Barack Obama, but it appears tthe Holy See is doing a whole lot to determine exactly who is appointed Ambassador to the Vatican. Caroline Kennedy, for instance, has been mentioned as a potential nominee. Reports from the Daily Telegraph,, the right wing Washington Times and the extremist conservative Human Events say the Vatican has rejected that possibility, as well as a couple others. Ray Flynn, former Ambassador to the Vatican, says the problem is that Caroline Kennedy is pro-choice. From the Daily Telegraph:

The Italian paper said that the Vatican strongly disapproved of Mr Obama’s support for abortion and stem cell research. The impasse over the ambassadorial appointment threatens to cloud his meeting with the Pope during a G8 summit in Itay in July.

Ms Kennedy, 53, has said that she supports abortion. Raymond Flynn, a former US ambassador to the Vatican, said earlier this week that Ms Kennedy would be a poor choice.

“It’s imperative, it’s essential that the person who represents us to the Holy See be a person who has pro-life values. I hope the President doesn’t make that mistake,” he told the Boston Herald. “She said she was pro-choice. I don’t assume she’s going to change that, which is problematic.”

Let me propose something refreshing. After all, we had a completely fair election in this country, as oposed to the Vatican. We are a country that has no state religion, either. My proposal is that when the Vatican holds a completely open and free election, then they can have a say as to the Ambassadors we send to the Vatican. We’ll get the United Nations to monitor the elections so everyone in the world can see that they’re fair. Until then, the Vatican may comment all it wishes about Us policies it disagrees with, but determining our policies, for whatever reason, is going too far. Rejecting an Ambassador, or three, as is the case here, is much too far.

Would Caroline Kennedy make a good Ambassador? I’ve no idea. But Ray Flynn’s notion that there should be a litmus test is simply absurd. Does he also think there should be a litmus test for the most cherished values other countries hold? No, Ray, let’s not go there. It doesn’t appear you’re logically equipped to do so.

Sunday, April 12th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

The Rich, the GOP, AIG and the Tea Bag Revolution

The rich are being blamed for the irresponsible actions on Wall Street, and they are no longer looked at with being worthy. The GOP set this stage with myths that everyone could be rich if we just let the rich escape taxes. Then the GOP pushed deregulation. And the Tea Bagging GOP line now is harming the rich far more than the Dems.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

There’s a nexus coming together in this country, and while some are using the metaphor of pitchforks and the proles storming the castle (the rich, at AIG, at least, seem very afraid of this scorn, as evidenced here and here), it is beginning to seem to me as if the rich, those metaphorically living in the castle, are guilty of tea bagging, if not pitchforking, themselves.

I suppose I come to this conclusion first from Michael Hiltzik’s column in the Los Angeles Times. His title somewhat says it all: “The belief that the wealthy are worthy is waning.” The thesis here is that many in our country rallied against progressive income taxes that hit the rich because they themselves pictures themselves as being rich someday, sort of like Joe the Plumber, you know. They had a myopia concerning the true American condition. We all know that Joe the Plumber will get nowhere unless he milks the right wing media with his image, and Joe will therefore continue in self-delusion. But the average American, Hiltzik says, is beginning to see through this Republican myth.

Let’s face facts. The Republicans are the ones, perhaps further back than Gingrich or even Reagan, who perpetuated the myth that cutting taxes on the wealthy would result in good jobs for everyone, including the possibility that everyman may one day become rich himself. Not so much nowadays. The false veneer on this theory is peeling off, like a Laffer Curve going south. They set the stage with their constant attempts to reverse the progressive system of taxes in this country, led now by Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform, a group Republicans listen to almost as well as they bow to their leader, Rush Limbaugh, as mindnumbingly stupid as that act of bowing is.

What really blew the top off, though, is their penchant for deregulation. We’re seeing an economic meltdown because of unregulated securities now, and AIG’s insuring those risky schemes, but what we’re also seeing on the side is the steadily declining respect for the rich. Sure, many rich people are philanthropists, and there are fine people among the rich. When the taxes go up on them, as the current national feeling will assuredly lead to, they will go up on me and my family as well. But let’s make sure to note that the deregulation was spurred by a system of rewards cloaked as bonuses. Sure, the former Chair of AIG claims he wouldn’t have given out the bonuses that are so controversial now, but he gave out similar retention rewards. It was the name of the game for far too many years. Risky products are dreamed up by money managers whose bonus was directly tied to short-term success. They became the rich. By exploiting the system they have tea bagged themselves.

AIG’s defense? They are now going after taxes they say they don’t owe because they derived from offshore tax shelters. Yes, banking regulations evidently enabled them to legally shelter a whole batch of their tax obligations, and AIG wants that 306 Million Dollars back, even though the funds helping them fight the IRS were provided by the federal government. These folks just don’t know how to leave well enough alone. The gall, we say, at every turn where they spend our money on bonuses or suing us! Should we be so surprised?

Now the Republicans have started this stupid Tea Bag campaign. It mimics the Boston Harbor protest from our American Revolution, but there ain’t no redcoats here. As Bob Cesca notes, the Republican Tea Bag campaign is about reducing taxes on the wealthy at a time when the entire American electorate is glued to the TV waiting for the next shoe to drop in the Wall Street mess, caused by the Republican deregulation and greed that the Tea Bagging goal would ostensibly reward. Sure, Republicans are railing against AIG bonuses, but as usual they have no plan. They’d rather protest using Tea Bags, and referring to an insulting sex act. Yeah, Republicans claim to stand for high moral values, but even their protests are coarse and ugly. What they’ve done with such absurities is tea bag themselves.

It would be enough if the Republicans had only Tea Bagged themselves, but they have done the bidding of the markets and those who pretend to stand for the rich for so long that the rich are the ones feeling the Tea Bag, full in the face. Conspicuous Consumption is coming to an end, I’m guessing, at least for a long time, and I’m betting Thorstein Veblen would be proud. But this isn’t about a 120 year old theory. This is about today, about the dangers of runaway and unregulated capitalism and how it can destroy our economy. The Republicans called for that deregulation, trusting int he blind hand of supply and demand to care for everyone. That ship has sailed, and judging by their stupid Tea Bag campaign, the GOP is far, far from recognizing that fact.

Friday, March 20th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Rick Santorum Goes All “Crusades” Again

Rick Santorum is at it again, this time defending the anti-Islamic ideas of Geert Wilders, the extremist right wing Dutch Parlimentarian. It is becoming clear that Rick Santorum is not the token liberal on the pages of the Philadelphia Inquirer, but their representative from the 15th Century. He’s a Republican Pundit Gone Wild.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Rick Santorum has been crying “Islamofascist” since well before his humiliating and much deserved defeat for Senate a couple years ago. The guy is basically a one-trick pony. He whines when Christianity is supposedly persecuted, but Rick is all about distorting the Muslim faith. Today’s Santorum column in the Philadelphia Inquirer combines both halves of Santorum’s twisted ovsession. First he defends Geert Wilders, the extremist right wing Dutch politician whose movie “Fitna” has been banned in the Netherlands. (Wilders heads his own political Party in the Netherlands, and its main focus is to make the Netherlands an explicitly Christian country – maybe that’s why Santorum is so attracted to Wilders’ ideas.)

As is usual, Santorum’s column is breathless with dire whines and predictions. The world is going soft on terror, at least as Santorum sees it. Of course Santorum’s notion of “going soft on terror” is when duly elected democracies promote policies of tolerance. But Santorum is positively over the edge in congratulating himself in this article. He’s whined and predicted for a long time now that Islamofascists are the greatest threat to humanity since, since, un, the greatest threat ever. To that end, all of Islam is a target. And in this column Santorum congratulates himself for being proven right, with more breathless dire warnings:

The gathering storm I have been warning of for years has now formed over the West. Yet instead of fighting the gradual incursion of Sharia and the demands of an intolerant, even militant Islam, Westerners are cowering and fatalistic. Last year, the Archbishop of Canterbury conceded that acceptance of some parts of Sharia in Britain seemed “unavoidable.”

Bullcrap. Santorum is waiting in the wings to be the hero, no doubt. Meanwhile thinking people of the world are helping battle for the hearts and minds of those who follow Islam, calling for the capture and destruction of Islamic terrorists, surely, but allowing that Muslims should be encouraged to follow their religion peacefully as full members of the international community.

Santorum and Wilders are examples of precisely what is wrong in this world. They wish to combat extremism with their own brand of ugly extremism. Santorum earned much infamy, well-deserved, in this country with his extremist stances on gay and lesbian citizens, showing that his stance is one of contempt rather than of the love his religion teaches him. Yup, one-trick pony that he is, his stance towards Islam is of contempt rather than the love his religion teaches him. Heck, I’m thinking Rick Santorum would only be happy if the entire West were ruled by his brand of Sharia, one that employed the Inquisition, and one that ran Crusades. The West long ago evolved from such base notions, but Santorum doesn’t believe in evolution, either.

Once again the Philadelphia Inquirer should be ashamed for publishing this man’s desperate whiney screeds. Surely Santorum’s is a call for help, not necessarily against the IslamoFascists he is fixated on, but from the extremism that grips his own heart.

Thursday, February 12th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |

Capitalism At The Crossroads: Time To Wing It?

History has long recorded humanity’s dabbling in the elaboration of the latest “ism”. Rarely do we recognize the demise of one “ism” in the midst of the emergence of its replacement. While America debates the Obama administration’s stimulus plan, we seem reticent to discuss the merits of capital “ism”. Doing so could be an important step towards embracing the underlying humanism we frequently ignore.

Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

In Beckett’s “Waiting For Godot”, time is both passed and suspended in anticipation of arrival. Neither the passage of time or the thoughtless suspension of its value is a worthwhile endeavor…yet so much of the human condition is spent accordingly.

Fortunately, the ebb and flow of life frequently compensates for this miscalculation and we are rarely forced to face the futility of our allegiance to being unaware.

At the same time, history, in retrospect, has meticulously recorded such periods of ambiguous angst with the application and affirmation of a seemingly all-encompassing “ism” of merit. Sadly, we humans rarely understand our migration from one “ism” to the next…at the moment it transpires…frequently leaving us in the same suspect and suspended scenario as those waiting for the transformational Godot to arrive.

America, in its quaint yet quixotic commitment to the courtesan we call capital “ism”, is being confronted with such a stretch of meaningless moments…waiting anxiously and aimlessly for the arrival of someone or something to remove the paralysis that permeates our propensity to participate in the chain letter economics that powers our Ponzi scheme psyche…even though we “share” in the ironic experience of watching our pyramid collapse under the weight of its own egocentric and ignoble ideations.

Two events provide perspective on our predicament – one a calamity and the other a harbinger of hope. The former, 9/11, brought us together long enough to offer consolation and condolences before scurrying out the door with our credit cards and the cash created by our homage to home equity high jinks…in hopes of perpetuating perceptions rather than recognizing realities.

The latter, the safe landing of an aircraft on the Hudson river and the preservation of every single passenger’s life, allowed us to reconnect with the principals and perseverance associated with the mythical America and the essence of the collective spirit that had come to define it…all of which evaporated so quickly following 9/11.

Here’s the problem. Today, Captain Sullenberger’s landing on the Hudson is no longer just a job well done or an act of American stick-to-itiveness; rather it must be morphed into an extraordinary act of unexpected hero “ism”…a deed beyond the pale…an act of selflessness in a society all about the self. In America, tragedy is synonymous with litigation and triumph with accolades…both of which have material enrichment as their expected outcome. Hence American decency is but a function of fault or fame…not an intrinsic component of character.

As such, in this dark hour of economic uncertainty, the core constructs of capital “ism” still trump our actual ability to embrace the noble identity that gave it life. Like spectators at a Gladiator match, we sit on the sidelines of our “Super Bowl” society admiring the exceptional athlete or the precise pilot…ever focused on the means and methods to our own nascent notoriety…never mindful of the inevitable intersection of motivation and moral maturity.

Let me be clear, when I mention moral maturity, I am not invoking an absolutist ideology or an adherence to religion; rather I’m imploring us to understand the essence of our shared humanity. Moral maturity is not the means to superiority…it is the simple act of enabling and embracing equality in lieu of cachet and celebrity. In fact, doing so not only fosters an appreciation of altruism over the accumulation of assets, it disarms the drive for deification by substituting the satisfaction of service for the seemingly endless search for the satiation of selfishness.

Should there be any doubt as to the dubious nature of our situation, and therefore our ever expanding and suspect sense of entitlement, look no further than the latest Gallup Poll on the merits of the President’s stimulus plan. Only 38% of respondents believe the stimulus plan should be passed as proposed by Barack Obama. Another 37% are in favor of a stimulus plan but they believe it must include major changes.

While the majority of Americans favor Congress’ passing some type of stimulus plan, there is remarkably little confidence on the part of the public that the plan would have an immediately positive impact on the U.S. economy. Americans are also pessimistic about the plan’s potential positive impact on their own families’ financial situations.

There’s only one way to interpret these numbers. Self-interest is the primary motivation that drives debate in America. Confronted with the worst economy since the Depression, and an uncertain future, most Americans cannot view the stimulus plan absent the bias of the status quo…and most of our elected officials must be included in this group. The shortsightedness is astounding.

A comparison may help explain my concerns as well as my contention that capital “ism”, in its current form, is no longer viable. Let’s start by assuming that our economic situation is dire. If so, then one should be able to construct a scenario to evidence the gravity of this moment as well as the complacency that has grown out of our commitment to the tenets of capital “ism” as they have existed since the Watergate years.

For this exercise, let’s assume that NASA has identified an asteroid heading towards earth in ten years and that its trajectory puts the U.S. at great risk. Now suppose that in response, our government decides to establish safe shelters in all major metropolitan areas. Logically, one should be able to presume that Americans will get behind the effort and pitch in to insure that the country is prepared for the worst. One should also be able to expect that individuals will put self-serving objectives aside in hopes of achieving maximum safety and survival. In other words, while some people might feel slighted by the placement of shelters…or other aspects of any response plan…the gravity of the situation undoubtedly dictates that such concern is set aside in order to work towards a collective solution to an anticipated crisis.

Notwithstanding, I’m of the opinion that our adherence to a “me first” mentality may well preclude our ability to react effectively to this or any other plausible threat. Therein lies the inability to visualize the risks of maintaining our seemingly insolent and intransigent mindsets. You see; the instincts we momentarily demonstrated in the aftermath of 9/11 still exist. Unfortunately, the fact that we so easily slipped back into more of the same doesn’t portend well for addressing the current economic crisis…a crisis that is more than a glitch in the U.S. economy…a crisis that won’t be solved by imploring Americans to go shopping…a crisis that is the leading edge of a reordering of the world and the manner in which we humans serve as stewards of this earth…and therefore whether we will be purposeful proponents for the ongoing existence of humankind.

The fact that so many of us latched onto the “Miracle on the Hudson” as a tangible measure of the enduring human spirit serves to illustrate the paradox we seem so unwilling to acknowledge. On the one hand, we marvel at the fact that a trained pilot was able to land an airplane on water…yet we forget that absent years of training…a concern by the flight crew for the safety of their fellow man…and finally…the presence of wings…it not only couldn’t have successfully landed on the water…it would have been unable to support and sustain the 155 individuals who stood upon those wings while waiting (and believing) that kind and compassionate passers-by would come to their aid.

America is a plane in trouble…but our fate need not be dependent upon the heroic acts of a select few. At the same time, we must be wise enough to listen to those who may have more insight. This plane of ours will never achieve a safe landing if each of its passengers demands their turn in the cockpit…regardless of ability. The role of being a good citizen is also an act of hero “ism”…even if it means sitting quietly in coach while the pilot brings us to safety or helping an elderly passenger make their way onto the wing once the plane has landed.

America can no longer wait for our Godot to arrive. We needn’t a savior or a heroin…we needn’t aspire to the adulation we believe accompanies a seat atop the pyramid…we needn’t support or negate our leaders based upon political ideology…Godot is every man and every woman…Godot is merely a belief in each other predicated upon the notion that we grant the humanity we seek…Godot need not come if he is already here…Godot does not exist if we need him…humanity does not exist if we betray it.

If we humans are too survive, it’s time for us to wing it…which is nothing more than believing that the service of humanity floats all boats…as well as the plane in which we are all passengers. Fighting over the stimulus plan while the plane is crashing is absurd. Human “ism” may lack the glitter and glamour of capital “ism”…and it may mean less in a few pockets but more in most…but it may well be the only remaining “ism” of consequence.

Its merits will never be fully known if its value is never fully affirmed…yet it has always been there for us to accept. If it isn’t adopted in the here and now, history will fail to recognize and record it. You see, in the absence of humanity, there is no future. If there is no future, there will be no history. In the end, all “isms” lead to the same destination. We can travel willingly or we can jeopardize our very existence. The waiting must end…the wings exist. There’s room for everyone.

Cross posted at Thought Theater

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009 by Daniel DiRito |

Joe the Almost Average To Play War Correspondent

Joe Wurzelbacher, the Poster Boy for the average Republican who suffers from delusions of adequacy, has been hired by Pajamas Media, an imitation news outlet, to cover the conflict in Gaza. Joe’s goal is to talk to Average Joes and Abduls to find out how they react to having homes bombed, questions that don’t really need answers. Stupid.

Commentary By: Steven Reynolds

Joe Wurzelbacher, who showed that Republicans could be fooled into listening to a serial failure if he’s got a populist nickname like “Joe the Plumber,” is going to Gaza. No promises he’ll solve the 60 year old crisis there, but he’s going to get us in touch with average Joes, or Abduls, or whatever. This may be the stupidest idea to hit journalism in a long, long time. Of course, that assumes you consider Pajamas Media, the folks who hired Joe for this stupid stunt, to be a legitimate member of the media.

Let’s be clear. Joe Wurzelbacher fascinates Republicans, but even that fascination is misguided. Joe is not average. He aspires to owning a plumbing company, supposedly, but he needs to aim lower and aspire to average first. This guy’s got some serious delusions of adequacy. Why then, are Republicans fascinated by the whole Joe the Plumber schtick? It isn’t because Joe is related to financial criminal Charles Keating. No, that would spoil the mystique Joe’s got going of being a walking talking Ken doll. I think that’s the appeal to Republicans. Joe Wurzelbacher has enough personality to pull off the “Joe the Plumber,” “Joe the Campaigner,” and “Joe the fill in the blank” roles because he came that way in the box from Mattel. Barbie won’t let him have the dreamhouse? Fine, then he’ll be Joe the Army Ranger, or Joe the Toolbag, or Joe the Mailman. He is an (inadequate) everyman, and that works for Republicans because they hope he reflects their constiuency. Does the Republican constituency also suffer from delusions of adequacy? Maybe so. I’ll let you make the call.

But what about this Joe the War Correspondent thingie? Well, it appears Pajamas media, that conservative web site with delusions of adequacy, has hired Joe Wurzelbacher to be its war correspondent in Gaza. Before I hear calls for changing the missions of both the Israeli and Hamas factions in that action so as to aim at war correspondents suffering from delusions of adequacy, let’s hear a little bit from Joe about his qualifications, from the Herald-Sun:

Wurzelbacher said he was going to let “Average Joes” share their stories and get the real story of what is happening.

“It’s tragic, I mean it really is,” Wurzelbacher told Ohio television station WNWO.

“I don’t say that in any little way. It’s very tragic, but at the same time what are the Israeli people supposed to do?”

. . . .

“If given the opportunity to do some good however minute it may be, or could be something really good, you gotta take that chance. You have to do it,” Wurzelbacher said of his new job.

To sum it up, Joe doesn’t know what he’s doing, both sides have their arguments, it’s all very tragic, and it could be solved by talking to other average Joes and Abduls and whatever. Oh, and this is an opportunity for Joe Wurzelbacher to make money at a real job do good! And Joe? He’s not afraid. He’s got God on his side.

Wurzelbacher said he was not concerned about heading into a warzone for a 10 days.

“Being a Christian I’m pretty well protected by God I believe. That’s not saying he’s going to stop a mortar for me, but you gotta take the chance,” he told WNWO.

I suppose the theory here is that God loves even those whose aspirations are of “average,” who wish to make it in this world far more as an American Idol sort of 15 minutes of fame sort, like Joe, but who truly, at root, suffer from delusions of adequacy. What is startling to me is that Joe even has a theology that covers for him, protects him even when he so stupidly takes on a role in a dangerous area of the world where he clearly has no business. He’s a Republican Pundit Wannabe Gone Wild, all right, and his next stint, hopefully at FoxNews, is just around the corner. Even then he will be searching for adequacy, though.

Thursday, January 8th, 2009 by Steven Reynolds |
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