Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Driving The Clown Car: A (Serious) Look At GOP Campaign Managers With Nonetheless HILARIOUS UDATES!es

BREAKING: Herman Cain's defection didn't quell the laugh riot.

When the clown car opens and spills its laugh-laden contents, the last one out is usually the driver, and with the GOP circus in full swing, it's time to stop and think about who the hell is actually running the show. Of course, so many aides and managers bailed out in the last 6 months, that the resulting confusion only adds to the hilarity: these guys are willing to throw their candidates under the clown car by continuing with the blunders. What do they have to gain, you may ask? Possibly a future position as ringmaster for another circus: the next GOP campaign pandering to Tea Partyers and the Christian Right.

Then again, all the buffoonery may be the fault of the candidates, hurling themselves through their campaigns without giving a second thought to what their managers think giving rise to the question: why did they hire these guys at all? As nannies, perhaps? And who, exactly, is running the show? 

Experience, dealings with the Christian Right, odd endorsements procured, campaign issues tackled and the latest events: all might shed some light on these politicos and the clown campaigns they manage.

Joe Allbaugh (Rick Perry)

Joe Allbaugh's wikipedia biography stops mysteriously at 2008, not mentioning any connection to Perry. Perhaps it was removed out of embarrassment, because Allbaugh's political and lobbying career shows a marked intelligence peppered with ruthlessness. He was, after all, George Bush's campaign manager for the 2000 election and head of FEMA until the ill-fated "Brownie" took over. And before that, presided over then-Governor Bush's "Fomalde-gate" scandal (involving the funeral industry).It also shows no significant connection with the Christian Right. So, does Allbaugh have any say in Perry's campaign, or is he just window dressing?

It's odd to think that Allbaugh had anything to do with "The Response" (Perry's call-to-prayer for the state of Texas), his ineptitude during the debates, or his fatal campaign ad, "Strong." But remember that Perry is of the same mold as George Bush - and Bush seldom listened to advisers. Then again, Joe Allbaugh may be jettisoning Perry out of the clown car while secretly feathering his own nest: his firm, Allbaugh Company, has operated with, Halliburton, Ecosphere Systems and  Dilligence, Iraq (a security/mercenary company).

Rick Perry doesn't seem to know (or care) what his campaign manager is all about. Figures.


Dean Cain, actor, of Lois and Clark (Superman) fame. Couldn't Allbaugh get Chuck Norris? 
Steve Forbes - of course, a "corporate personhood" donor.

The Latest: Rick Perry's taxpayer-paid security detail costs continue to skyrocket. Perry insists that his campaign travels are beneficial to the state of Texas. Right.

Mike Krull (Newt Gingrich)

Trying to look for Newt Gingrich's campaign manager under Google is like looking for a needle in a haystack: most of the coverage of his campaign management has been how his staff deserted him en masse. But a look in an article on his wife Calista reveals that it's HER friend, Mike Krull who has filled the crucial gap. 

Calista Gingrich may, in fact, be the REAL manager of Newt's campaign. Her "column" on his website titled "Calista's Canvass" reveals just how much more involved she is with the campaign. Is it she or Krull who were instrumental in getting endorsements from the American Family Association and homophobic hate monger, pastor Jim Garlow?

But looking at Krull: at first glance, he seems to suffer from the GOP malady of inept vetting. Not vetting your own candidate properly, that is. A campaign manager MUST know absolutely EVERYTHING about the candidate's past. Period. In effect, he must know the candidate better than the candidate knows himself: he has to ward off any criticism and have an answer for any peccadillo or indiscretion. 

Columbia Tea Party
Tea Party Nation
Des Moines Tea Party
These endorsements may be indicative of Calista's influence, not Krull's.

The Latest: Newt Gingrich has lied about his first divorce: his website says that first wife Jackie Gingrich, requested the divorce, but CNN has uncovered documents stating not only that Gingrich instigated the procedures, but that he was negligent in child support and owed three months in support of Jackie and their two daughters, teenagers at the time. Mike Krull's/Gingrich's campaign's insistence that the opposite was true only makes Krull look inept in the face of legitimacy: Gingrich's mea culpas become more disingenuous as time goes by, weakening his support by the Christian Right.   

The Latest II: When it was discovered that Gingrich did not make the ballot on the Virginia primaries, his response was to compare the event toe Pearl Harbor (?!?): 
“Newt and I agreed that the analogy is December 1941: We have experienced an unexpected setback, but we will regroup and refocus.” 
Did they agree on what to do if the analogy was ridiculed? For Krull's sake, we hope not.

John Tate (Ron Paul)

As with Newt Gingrich's campaign manager, googling for John Tate presents a problem: most of the articles are on the demise of Kent Snyder, his former campaign manager who died uninsured and whose estate owed $400,000 in medical bills as a consequence. The (now) infamous interview with Wolf Blitzer pointed out how many people of Paul's ranks would just "let them die" if people elected not to have health insurance. Although Snyder's case was a bit different (he was denied health care because of a pre-existing condition), it put Paul in  an embarrassing position after he had stated that "our neighbors, our friends, our churches would do it." Paul's lobbing of compassion over to the churches, however, is quite misplaced: they can't handle the volume of people with needs, nor do many of them accept people with needs in a totally compassionate (non-qualifying) way.

So how is his new campaign manager, John Tate, looking at Health Care Reform? Tate's history as a Paul supporter and president of Campaign for Liberty (a libertarian - no government group) can unearth Tate's stance on health care (see video below). Total free enterprise in terms of health care basically reiterates the former physician's stance that the only good uninsured American is a dead uninsured American. 


John Stossel
Chuck Norris (yes, instead of endorsing Rick Perry - maybe it was the Brokeback Mountain jacket that turned off Norris)
Andrew Sullivan. Not. Sullivan withdrew his support after further investigation into Paul's foreign policies.

Latest: In a FOX News update concerning the racially charge newsletters under Paul's name back in the 80's, total denial is the name of the game.
"These things are really nasty, and he didn't know about it? Wasn't aware of it?" Gingrich said at a stop in South Carolina.

Paul has since denied writing, and in some cases even reading, some of the newsletters that bore his name. But the issue could continue to haunt him as he rides a wave of support in Iowa at just the right time.
Again, this looks like a case of not knowing the candidate's history inside-out.

Keith Nahigian (Michele Bachmann)

It's probably fitting that Keith Nahigian was responsible for Dan Quayle's infamous "potatoe" gaffe: Bachmann is so prone to gaffes that spin comes from the chin. In any case, Nahigian has had over twenty years to learn from the mistake in thinking that politicians are intelligent. 

Then again, Nahigian's own gaffes (or rather, unfortunate quotes) have not given Bachmann's campaign additional dignity:

Michele Bachmann’s campaign manager lashed out at a CBS executive after he was accidentally cc’d on a network email detailing a plan to marginalize the Minnesota Congresswoman at Saturday night's Republican debate.
"John Dickerson should be fired," the Rep.’s political handler Keith Nahigian told reporters after the debate, CNN and Fox reported. "He is a piece of sh---. He is a fraud and should be fired."

The overspill from the Santorum scandal (Vander Plaats asked Bachmann to 'merge" with Santorum) did nothing to deter Nahigian from taking strategies for Iowa from Santorum's campaign:
Earlier in the week, Bachmann’s team announced that they were taking a page from Santorum’s playbook and would make campaign stops in all 99 counties in Iowa before the caucus on Jan. 3. Bachmann will start this campaign swing in Northwest Iowa on Friday and continue throughout the weekend.
Great. Taking it's cue from a tanking campaign so it can pander to the Christian Right is very, very smart thinking. 


Phyllis Schafley. Even though she didn't send her gay son to Marcus Bachmann's pray-away-the-gay clinic.
Wayne Newton. He didn't go to Bachmann's clinic either. 


Nahigian himself sounds as vague and clueless as Bachmann. Witness his response (below) to a question on Isreal (referring to Ron Paul's remark that he wished Israel was not a state)

Mike Biundo (Rick Santorum, 
New Hampshire and Beyond)

The former aide to Pat Buchanan's primary effort in Iowa back in 1996 should know better about reining in a candidate, but Mike Biundo has worked on Santorum's campaigns so long that he can't seem to see the forest from the trees. 

Biundo on key New Hampshire endorsement going to Newt Gingrich. 

“Rick is running a traditional New Hampshire style, door-to-door, town-hall-to-town-hall grassroots campaign,” said Biundo, a New Hampshire native. “We are looking forward to a positive result on January 10th here in New Hampshire.”

Door-to-door at this point, when Santorum is only maintaining the 5% slot is, at best, a weak excuse for a weak campaign. True, Santorum never had the entertainment appeal of Rick Perry, whose calls to Christianism have sparked debate and parody, but Santorum's moralizing overshadows all aspects of his persona. His demonization of Islam, the possibilities of Sharia law and implications that Muslims are terrorists, have become rallying cries to a few right-wing bloggers.

Bob Vander Plaats. Cost: $1 million. Scandal: Priceless
Brad Thor. The thriller author's book, The Last Patriot, pandered to extreme fears of takeover by Islamic terrorists.

Latest: Biundo has tried to play down the Vander Plaats "pay for play" scandal by saying that Santorum was never really approached byVander Plaats. Santorum says differently, contradicting Biundo.  
Matt Rhoades (Mitt Romney)

Matt Rhoades has been with Mitt Romney since 2008, after being director of "opposition research" for George Bush's campaign in 2004.

His colleagues would later tell National Journal that his opposition research work helped discredit Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) on national security issues in particular, or as The Hotline put it in 2006, "Campaign officials credit him with doing more than just about any other staffer to define John Kerry as weak, wimpy, French and flip-floppy -- an unacceptable Commander in Chief."

So it seems that Rhoades is dealing with the very same type of character he "exposed" which, if he can turn overturn the perception of Romney as "flip-floppy" he is an extremely good manager indeed. He also has an extremely good relationship with Matt Drudge (The Drudge Report). But how has he dealt with the Mormon issue?

He hasn't. Probably because he's allowing the Christian Right to hang itself on the issue. "Mormonism is a cult" is a meme that has worn itself thin and Rhoades, being the opposition analyst that he is, knows that this kind of push-back can actually work in Romney's favor. Be he weak or flip-floppy, Romney needs an underdog persona. Rhoades is already concentrating on the "kill Romney" attack strategy that the Obama Administration flatly denies. Rhoades knows the validity of hanging on to a persecution campaign.


JP Morgan Chase
Former First Lady Barbara Bush. Pearls notwithstanding.


The recent tele-town hall Florida apparance by Romney didn't seem to quell fears of elitism and flip-flopping. Rhoades can't seem to get Romney into that "everyman" mode he so desperately wants - and needs.

Either the clowns are running the circus or the campaign managers are - it's tough to decide: from ruthless right wingers like Allbaugh, to clueless politicos such as Nahigian, campaign managers look to be throwing their candidates under the clown car for purposes only they know. Perhaps, instead of the driving the cars, they decided early on that it would be best if they just sat back and enjoy the ride and its ensuing slapstick chaos along with the "suckers born every minute."

Who will be laughing after the primaries?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Is Calista Gingrich from MARS?

Somehow, in the deep recesses of my mind, I get the strange feeling...

Have Yourself A Merry Little Scandal: Pandering To The Christian Right Is VERY Expensive ($1M) For Rick Santorum's Campaign

Bob Vander Platts doesn't come cheap.  In 2010, Newt Gingrich gave Vander Plaats' campaign to unseat Iowa judges $350,000. The Family Leader's leader also demanded a cushy paid position on Mitt Romney's staff back in 2008 in exchange for an endorsement (he didn't get it, and backed Huckabee instead).

Now word is out that Vander Plaats has received $1 million to endorse Rick Santorum and others, after which he told Michele Bachmann to bow out of the race.
Earlier this week, Santorum admitted that Vander Plaats approached the campaign with an indirect solicitation of money to help promote his support, but now other sources familiar with the talks between Vander Plaats and GOP candidates are characterizing the tactics as “corrupt.”
Of course, "pay for play" is not new in the political Christian-Right arena: it was disclosed last week that Newt Gingrich's campaign had donated $125,000 to American Family Association Action (a PAC), after which he resoundingly received an endorsement from the American Family Association itself. And it was rumored back in 2010, that Mike Huckabee sold an endorsement in the Florida gubernatorial campaign for the princely sum of $250,000. 


Ever since the Christian Right re-invented itself as a voting block, its power has been unmistakable: Tony Perkins' Values Voters Summit has now been a lightning rod for Right Wing candidates courting the "social conservative" group (est. up to 25 million - or almost half of Republican votes in a Presidential election). And with pulpits jeopardizing their tax-free status in daring to endorse candidates, their power is flaunted with a righteous arrogance that almost exceeds comprehension. Indeed, it is quite amazing that the same group cries "persecution" whenever a law is passed endangering that power. Their opposition to hate crimes bills, for example only demonstrates just how much they value the control they have over their congregations. Witness the outright lies "historian" David Barton promotes in his polemic about evil "homosexual activists" in the video below.

And Vander Plaats' pronouncements about gays, Muslims and "activist judges" have sparked controversey - the kind that Vander Plaats' shrugs off as "persecution."*

So power in the Christian Right corrupts people into telling lies for the sake of control. But in the case of Vander Plaats, we now see financial gain afoot, with candidates and their campaigns willing to pay the price of endorsements and support. 

With all the "pay to play" shenanigans going on, it begs the question: where are the campaign managers in all of this? Sources referring to the $1 million in contributions to the Family Leader imply that Santorum was one of several candidates who contributed for endorsements. In a forthcoming article, we'll look at the role these pivotal figures have as drivers of the clown car we now call the GOP Presidential campaign. And as it turns out, Mike Biundo, Santorum's campaign manager, may look to be as inept as his candidate: both Vander Plaats and Santorum said that Santorum did not know about the endorsement until well after the announcement by Vander Plaats, even though Biundo was present during the announcement.*

Bachmann's Dickerson

There is no word yet on how John Dickerson, Michele Bachmann's campaign manager reacted to the story that Vander Plaats suggested that she "merge" with another faith-based candidate but it's clear that the "merge" story came after Bachmann shot out that she was asked to "quit" the race by Vander Plaats. Dickerson must have a helluva time reining in his mistress, especially since he has enough on his hands trying to formulate enough effective ads in Iowa to propel Bachmann from fourth place to the position her straw poll win put her in. 

From where we sit, John Allbaugh (Perry), Michael Krull (Gingrich) and the aforementioned Biundo probably have more to say about donations to Vander Plaats.

Whither will they fly?

*Santorum said he heard it from a blind man who, in turn, heard it from someone "in the kitchen" of the convention hall. Real good coordinating, gents.  

* From Think Progress:

The FAMiLY Leader has its own long history of anti-gay and anti-Muslim rhetoric. An early version of the group’s fidelity pledge suggested that children were better off under slaverythan they are under Obama, and the document likens homosexuality to polygamy, adultery, or polyandry, attacks gays as a public health risk, and foments the non-existent “Sharia” threat to America. Vander Plaats himself led a successful campaign to oust three state Supreme Court justicies who overturned Iowa’s anti-gay marriage law and played in instrumental part and leading Mike Huckabee to victory in Iowa in 2008.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Newt Gingrich Ninja Marriage Protector - LOLOLOL!

I love the sneeze!

Transcending Christmas: The Final Chapter?

It was a happy day when Christmas transcended and became, in part, the Spirit of Christmas. We don't know exactly when it was. Perhaps it was that day in 1914 on the battlefields of France when the Christmas Truce occurred sans overt religiosity. Perhaps it was the time when "Happy Holidays" began to take hold simply because inclusion in the Spirit of Christmas was more important than the declarations of whom Jesus called the Pharisees:

"The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not." (Matt.23;2-3 KJV)
Whatever. The point is that Christmas DID transcend itself - morphing, if you will, into the embodiment of humanity: "Good Will Towards Men" - that being  helping others to survive as best they can. For what is "Good will towards men" other than making sure your neighbor has enough to eat, to drink, to stay healthy, to... survive. What is it other than seeing that your neighbor is not oppressed and that his rights are protected and upheld? What is it other than helping your neighbor protect all the freedoms he has and help him achieve the ones he should have but doesn't? What is it other than making survival truly equitable?

"Good Will Towards Men" has no qualifiers either. "Men" means everyone. It means humanity. "Men" is not judgmental. "Men" does not classify. "Men" does not discriminate.

So the Spirit of Christmas, that part of Christmas that originated from something spiritual (The Creator, perhaps), that Spirit which permeated humanity a long time ago can be everywhere we want it to be, especially in ourselves.

There are those who negate our humanity and what it contains because they wish to control us. The "ownership" of Christmas, for example, is hotly contested these days by people whose beliefs are qualifiers: "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" narrows and quantifies one religious belief and states that it is the only identification we must recognize.

Control. It's all about control.

Luckily, trying to control the Spirit of Christmas is like trying to catch the wind and box it up, put a ribbon on it and keep it in a stronghold to be used only as one wishes. Oh, the Spirit can be dampened and weakened to the point that it seems never to have existed, but it is never completely wiped out. That's why we sometimes laugh at the folly of  the Christian Right in trying to lay exclusive claim to it. They may be able to lay claim to Christmas, but not the Spirit of Christmas. 

To remind the Christian Right of this fact it is sometimes necessary to chide them for their righteous arrogance and their lack of Spirit in the face of social injustice. To date, no one has done it better than Christ Hedges:

Were you there to halt the hate crimes, discrimination and violence against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and those who are transgender? Were you there when Matthew Shepard died on the cross? Were you there to halt the abuse and at times enslavement of workers in the farmlands of this country? Were you there to halt the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent Vietnamese during the war in Vietnam or hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan? Were you there to halt Israel's saturation bombing of Lebanon and Gaza? Were you there when Rachel Corrie died on the cross? Were you there to halt the corporate forces that have left working men and women and the poor in this country bereft of a sustainable income, hope and dignity? Were you there to share your food with your neighbor in Liberty Square? Were you there to become homeless with them?

Where were you when they crucified my Lord?

I know where I was.


With you.

(From Where Were You When They Crucified My Movement? - OpEdNews, Dec. 5, 2011)

The Final Chapter?

But dwelling on the lack of Spirit does little to propel the Spirit forward and grow, as it should, exponentially. What encourages and nurtures the Spirit is a combination of endless and all-inclusive hope, determination and compassion. Endless. All-inclusive. The Spirit should be meted out to everyone and everything on earth ...forever.

There should be no Final Chapter.

So it is with the Spirit of Christmas that I bid everyone:

Mary, Joseph & Jesus BEAT Rick Perry In The Iowas Polls!!

And they'll be big in all of the corn-fed states.

Mary and Joseph's Was a SHOTGUN WEDDING!

Another Poochie Nativity

Transcending Christmas, Pt 3: Can OWS Help Save The Spirit of Christmas?

UPDATE: Brookfield will close Zuccotti Park for Christmas (see below)

In the past 2000 years, there have been opportunities for Christianity to shine and be true to its original purpose: to help man achieve his best self and in doing so, connecting with God, his creator. If that sounds a bit Gnostic, well, it is. The reality is that early Gnostic Christians were a lot closer to the original Christian communities than today's Catholics or Protestants, and while many Gnostics believed in two Gods (good-spiritual and evil-earthly), their goal of reaching God through knowledge and good works was less of a divergence than the developing orthodox (which prevailed).*

All divergence aside, Christianity still had opportunities to show humanity its stuff: sometimes it was when a disaster hit and the Golden Rule came out in full force. I'm not talking about God's Ambulance Chasers here, but the Christian groups who genuinely helped by mucking out homes and burying the dead. Other times, it was in one man's truly compassionate spirit, like Father Damien who ministered to the lepers on Molokai.

There were also times, of course, where some Christians blew it: one opportunity - the AIDS crisis - was given short shrift by the people who cast AIDS victims out of their homes while they were sick and dying (yeah, I'm talking about you, Southern Baptists!).

Compassion was in short supply in many Christian communities. It was a time when "progressives" began to emerge in spite of all the self-righteousness. They did what little they could to foster understanding and acceptance and hope. They realized, of course, that they were very late (by the time the Episcopal Archdiocese of Los Angeles opened the first faith-based AIDS agency outside of San Francisco, 65,000 had suffered and died), but they joined a growing chorus of compassionate people and continued to grow in compassion.**

So now Christians around the world are given another opportunity to present the best and brightest aspects of Christianity: the Occupy Wall Street movement. And yes, some of them are performing admirably with emotional and even physical support, but a loud cacophony of naysayers against the movement has formed, a group who are disgusted with the idea of any humane, equitable economics.

"The Pope Is Now Left Of Nancy Pelosi"

The Vatican issued a statement two months ago that leveled the Christian Right like a one-two punch. It was titled Towards Reforming The International Financial and Monetary Systems In The Context of Global Public Authority and sent shock waves throughout Christendom for its blatant support of movements like OWS. It called for MORE government and MORE financial oversight.

But most telling of all - it was for the poor and disenfranchised. It had a human spirit more than a spiritual one.  It embraced, in effect, the Spirit of Christmas.

The Vatican had seen its opportunity for a shining moment.

Zuccotti Park

The word is out that Zuccotti Park will be closed around Christmas for "renovations". The tree (as you can see) is already barricaded from the obscene 99%ers. So it seems Christmas is indeed locked up tight in the arms of the Christian Right - which is only right, since they feel they "own" Christmas and they can do whatever they want with it, wherever they want to do it. But as we have seen here and across the country, the Spirit of Christmas is now with 99% of the country (and around the world). 

OWS is giving Christianity another shining moment. Too bad the Christian Right won't take the hint - again.

NEXT: Transcending Christmas: The Final Chapter

*Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas has stated flatly that faith alone is necessary to get one to heaven, possibly negating the works of people like Clara Barton and Florence Nightgale. "Faith without works is dead," doesn't seem to be grasped by people like Jeffress.

** To date, there are still no AIDS agencies officially sanctioned by the Southern Baptist Convention - outside of Africa.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Transcending Christmas, Pt. 2: Who Owns Christmas - Rick Perry, Tony Perkins or... FOX News?

Christmas trees have become big news
 this season if only because the 
"war on Christmas is heating up.

And FOX News is leading the charge.

Because, only FOX News can determine who should celebrate Christmas. That's right. FOX News OWNS Christmas. Or at least it thinks it does. For example: the controversy about Rhode Island's Capitol "Holiday Tree" was kept alive recently by FOX attack reporter, Jesse Waters. Waters accosted Gov. Lincoln Chafee, asking him why the tree was called a "Holiday Tree" instead of a Christmas tree. Chafee was not quite as ruffled as Waters wanted him to be when he sited the state's religious dissident founder by saying:
“We’re trying to uphold the values of Roger Williams and make sure that the purity of theology is kept free from the pollution of government.”
Needless to say, Waters didn't get it and kept hounding the governor, asking "What holiday are you celebrating?" 

FOX also owns Christmas with egregious books like The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought by John Gibson. (Gibson is the host of FOX's "The Big Story.")

Simply put, by featuring the "war" on Christmas so frequently and consistently, FOX wants to show us who REALLY owns Christmas.

Of course, plenty of other entities claim ownership of Christmas, not the least of which is the Family Research Council of the (now ubiquitous) conservative political convention, the Values Voters Summit. As we all know, the grand high exalted mystic ruler of the FRC, Tony Perkins, wastes no time in his views on who owns Christmas. It not only belongs to people who tell you where it should be celebrated, but to people who bloviate on where it shouldn't be celebrated:
Imagine celebrating the holidays at a graveyard--or the sight of a mass execution. That's what the Harris County Democratic Party's doing by holding their Christmas party at an abortion clinic. And not just any clinic, but Planned Parenthood's Houston mega-center. When reporters broke the news, the city's liberal mayor, Annise Parker, tried to defend the idea by saying, "It's not about the building; it's about people's lives." She's absolutely right. This is about lives--specifically, the millions taken in abortion clinics like this one! Even moderates like Andrew Breitbart said, "One doesn't have to be a dedicated pro-life activist to find the idea of this event kind of sick." After all, Christmas is a celebration of birth-not death. We rejoice in the baby who came so that we might have life-and life more abundantly.*
Last year, we wrote an article on Tony Perkins' "Christmas Card" to donors/followers of the FRC (Stranger Than Fiction: Tony Perkins' Christmas Card") in which he politicizes Christmas, albeit over-texted with Scripture. No doubt about it: TonyPerkins and the FRC have a serious stake in Christmas.

Rick Perry Is Not "Strong", But He Owns Christmas Too

Rick Perry's ad "Strong" earned him a record-breaking 665,000 "dislikes" on YouTube not only because he  slammed gays in the military and the absence of prayer in public schools, but he stated that kids "can't celebrate Christmas" in schools.** The ad instantly gave way to a dozen parodies (see the most stinging one below - "I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm an a**hole"). The bombastic attack on the Obama administration chose to hang on to Christmas as demonstration of ownership. 

So it seems that any "war" on Christmas, any inclusive attempts with "Holiday Trees" and "Happy Holidays", any celebration of Christmas in the "wrong" places declares the owners of Christmas to be the ones who insist on...control. We've noted that Christmas has, in effect, transcended itself, morphing into a universal Christmas Spirit. By controlling Christmas, these same people also attempt to control the Christmas Spirit. 

Perhaps the one person who realizes this manipulation is John Stewart of The Daily Show as the video below demonstrates. Stewart, of course, pokes fun at the whole ridiculousness of the "war", but in his comedy lies the truth: people may think they own Christmas, but the ownership of the Christmas Spirit? 

I don't think so. 

* Some rather sticky points against Perkins' rhetoric: some people actually do celebrate part of their Christmas placing wreaths or "blankets" of evergreens on loved ones graves. Secondly, Andrew Breibart is not and never has been a "moderate."

** CBS News:"Based on checking the schoolhouse scene in Iowa and Texas and consulting an array of national experts, it's clear that school officials are not permitted to organize prayers or focus on a single religion in connection with Christmas, but kids may pray and also celebrate the holiday on their own," the site's article reads.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Puked

Part of Our Weird Nativity Series
This one is a game - 
just try to find the Nativity scene!

Transcending Christmas, Pt. 1: Will Right Wing Christianity Be The Death Of The Christmas Spirit? The Christmas Truce of 1914 May Give Us The Answer


As the Christmas Season goes on (and on and on), the Christian Right's moral rectitude towards Christmas gets stronger ...and more deranged. Oh, it's a wonderful sight to behold: Christian piety run amok is hysterical and frightening at the same time. But we must realize that there is a cost to that piety, for it sometimes eschews true compassion for the trappings of holiness.

Dominionists are particularly rabid during this time of year: rabid to insist that America be a Christian-only country. They revel in the "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" not because of Jesus' birth bringing Peace On Earth Good Will Toward Men, but because they feel Christmas is uniquely theirs and only they can celebrate it with proper respect to God. They never seem to think that their proprietary airs might cause more ill will than good will or that climbing up on a pedestal is contrary to the Christmas Spirit which aims to get us off our pedestals and into the real world of people in need. Indeed, the Chinese goddess of mercy, Quan Yin, may be more appropriate for reverence than a creche this time of year. 

Some people actually think that being all-inclusive (even presenting the history of Santa Claus) amounts to atheism. For example, Christian Broadcaster Janet Mefferd posited to Robert Knight (Media Research Center) that the ACLU should be sued for establishing atheism:
Mefferd: As we were talking about atheism being the de facto official religion with all of this, do you know if there’ve been any lawsuits dealing with the establishment of religion with atheism? This issue of saying, hey by not allowing this, by default the state really seems to be embracing atheism?Knight: No but that sounds like a good lawsuit to me. I think Christians and others who believe in religious freedom in this country ought to be more aggressive, and that kind of strategy Janet, that’s a great idea.
Secular Virus:

It is interesting to continue with the thoughts of Robert Knight who practically coined the term "secular virus" in referencing what he called "Christmasphobia." And he had this to say about a controversy involving a visit from Santa to the Hollings Cancer Center in Charleston, SC:

After the public rebelled, the center said Santa can squeeze down its chimney, but we’ll have none of that overtly religious stuff such as creches, angels, Christmas greetings - anything that brings joy to the world.

"Anything that brings joy to the world" is a particularly telling anology: it equates an icon of Christianity with goodness. Bad form. The Christmas SPIRIT of Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men should encompass goodness and joy from that goodness. Saying "Happy Holidays" can elicit as much joy as "Merry Christmas" and just because the term is more inclusive of other religions/philosophies doesn't make it bad. In fact, the "secular virus" is to be commended for trying to help the Christmas SPIRIT gain a foothold everywhere.
It's a Christmas irony, if you will: by insisting that everyone say Merry Christmas and honor ONLY the displays of a Christian Holiday, the SPIRIT of Christmas is defeated. Christmas becomes exclusionary, and "Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men" becomes secondary.

And the images of soldiers on both sides of a war ceasing hostilities for a day becomes meaningless because they are celebrating the Spirit of Christmas instead of the actual birth of Christ. The silence of a militarized zone is not as pleasing as the sound of hymns sung in a church. 

The Amazing Christmas Truce of 1914

It may never happen again. It happened almost one hundred years ago during the horrible waste of lives called the Great War... and it was SECULAR. There were no mangers, no Nativity scenes, no cries of "Merry Christmas."  Yes, there were some Christmas carols, a recitation of the 23rd Psalm (hardly Christmas material) and Christmas trees (which are, after all, totally secular icons - related to Winter Solstice -  no matter how many angel ornaments you hang on them). But amidst the savagery of war, soldiers laid down their arms and sought the friendship of the enemy: they walked across "No Man's Land" and exchanged pleasantries and even ... gifts. 

It was the time when the Christmas Spirit transcended Christmas itself - and it probably saved lives, if not souls. 

Bruce Bairnsfather, who served throughout the war, wrote: "I wouldn't have missed that unique and weird Christmas Day for anything. ... I spotted a German officer, some sort of lieutenant I should think, and being a bit of a collector, I intimated to him that I had taken a fancy to some of his buttons. ... I brought out my wire clippers and, with a few deft snips, removed a couple of his buttons and put them in my pocket. I then gave him two of mine in exchange. ... The last I saw was one of my machine gunners, who was a bit of an amateur hairdresser in civil life, cutting the unnaturally long hair of a docile Boche, who was patiently kneeling on the ground whilst the automatic clippers crept up the back of his neck."[10]General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, commander of the British II Corps, was irate when he heard what was happening, and issued strict orders forbidding friendly communication with the opposing German troops.[8]Adolf Hitler, then a young corporal of the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry, was a notable opponent of the truce.[8]

Of course, since the enemy today is usually of a different religion, such a thing as a Christmas truce could never really happen, right?* But perhaps the problem lies more in perception than actual religious difference: because the enemy has a different religion, he is perceived to be nearly inhuman and any form of commonality suffers.

So it is with exclusion that the Spirit of Christmas is diminished by a sense of propriety over Christmas. Ironically it was the strategy of inclusion that created what we know as Christmas in the first place: incorporating winter solstice traditions and pagan rituals into Christianity to celebrate the birth of Christ.**

Strangling The Christmas Spirit

People like Robert Knight have a narrow vision of Christmas. Since man is born "in sin" and prone to it, the innate goodness of humanity is lost to him: the only good things in the world come out of his particular form of Christianity. Christmas grew through the ages, evolved into the Christmas Spirit, which took on a life of its own. By limiting Christmas, putting it back in its box, so to speak, Knight attempts to strangle the life out the Christmas Spirit, that life being the INclusion of everyone on earth.

Will he and others of the Christian Right succeed?

Next: Transcending Christmas, Pt. 2: Who Owns Christmas?

*Can you see General Boykin agreeing to anything like that?

**"Shocking as it sounds, followers of Jesus Christ in both America and England helped pass laws making it illegal to observe Christmas, believing it was an insult to God to honor a day associated with ancient paganism," according to "Shocked by the Bible" (Thomas Nelson Inc, 2008). "Most Americans today are unaware that Christmas was banned in Boston from 1659 to 1681."

Ole Time Rock 'n Roll Nativity

Martian Nativity Scene

Does anybody even know 
what religion Martians are?

Christmas Puked

Part of Our Weird Nativity Series
This one is a game - 
just try to find the Nativity scene!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Inflatable Kids Nativity

Actually, the kids aren't inflatable, although Mary does look a teensy weensy bit pregnant.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Prop 8 Brou-ha-ha And What It Means To Freedom

Along with the Secretary of State of the United States demanding equal rights for gays and lesbians around the world, the Prop 8 overturn by the U.S. District Court of Appeals will be the worst lump of coal ever received by the Christian Right this Christmas. All signs of the ruling in favor of the plaintiffs and in favor of Judge Walker's ruling that Prop 8 was (and is) unconstitutional have the Right in such a frenzy and muddle that they will only be able to shout "Supreme Court! Supreme Court!Supreme Court!" and, of course, "Activist Judges, Evil, Evil, Evil!!" 

The other side, unfortunately, will be shouting "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" while laughing all the way to marriage equality. Why "Stupid"? Simply because the arguments by Alliance Defense Fund were the lamest and most error-filled pieces of comedy a courtroom has ever seen.

The proponents administered their own coup de gras with the argument that Walker wasn't fit to hand down a judgment in the case because he was gay. This irked the Appeals Court judges to no end. NEVER attack the judge's decision based on the judge's ability to judge. NEVER. Any law student would tell you that. And NEVER attack the judge personally. NEVER. EVER. The proponents went into forbidden territory and by doing so, made almost every judge in the country very, very angry. Even Roy Moore would be shaking in rage at the effrontery! Can you imagine questioning Judge Judy's judgment on such a personal basis? OUT! 

Then there was one of their "experts" who, when asked the source of his research said, "I got it off the internet." No more, and certainly no less. No wonder they don't want the courtroom video to be shown! Embarrassing to the max. 


Possibly. The Christian Right - at the last portion that salivates over legislation ala Nigeria - will absolutely DEMAND U.S. Supreme Court ruling, but if the Court declines to take the case, the Appeals Court ruling will stand and a California State Constitution amendment would be the next step. The problem with that is that any initiative (another Proposition) would have to be mandated by the people - and people's attitudes towards same-sex marriage in California have changed significantly: over 53% of California voters now approve of same-sex marriage. Another ballot initiative would also be scrutinized to the max - people learn from their mistakes and also from other people's chicanery (e.g. few people could be bused in from Utah). 

Well, we'll see what the ruling looks like very soon. Don't be surprised to hear wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Rending garment is optional due to the economy)

We're the Gay Community. We Do These Kind Of Things.

According to Joe.My.God the funeral expenses of Jacob Rogers have been met within TWO HOURS. 

Jacob Rogers committed suicide on Tuesday in Tennessee at the age of 18. He had been bullied for years. His family is extremely poor Jacob was raised by his grandmother). 

While I venture to guess that some donations were from non-gay sources, I'll bet that Joe.My.God had something to do with meeting the majority of the amount. Way to go Joe Jervis!

The "Cousin IT" Nativity

Some Nativity scenes can be worthy of Halloween.

Africa Is Burning: How Clinton's Speech Has Inflamed Nigeria And The Homophobia Exporters.

Being gay is not a Western invention; 
it is a human reality.

And Even Rick Perry got into the act.:
“Just when you thought Barack Obama couldn’t get any more out of touch with America’s values, AP reports his administration wants to make foreign aid decisions based on gay rights.
We can see the flames from Africa now, and they are not coming from bonfires declaring liberty for LGBTQ people. They are the flames coming from countries like Uganda and Nigeria. They are the flames of anger and vengeance being wreaked upon gay communities. Where the fires came from, however, is something that should concern everyone in America, because, like some perverted Prometheus, America's Christian Right gave Africa it's fires. Clinton was right to say being gay was not a Western invention, however, she should also have said that homophobia was certainly a Western invention, promoted in Africa by Christian Right leaders such as Scott Lively, Lou Engle and, to a certain extent, Rick Warren. 

The Christian Right's exportation of homophobia has been happening over a number of years, well ahead of the "Kill-the-gays" bill in Uganda. 

Think Progress has a good list of Christian Right reactions including Rick Santorum, Peter LaBarbera (Americans for Truth About Homosexuality), Peter Sprigg (Family Research Council), Matt Barber (Liberty Counsel) and Pat Robertson, who warned of God's wrath and claimed that it's really Christianity that's being persecuted (see below).

"I kissed a girl and liked it - 
and I got ten years in jail."

Nigeria has reacted so strongly to Clinton's speech that it purportedly added MORE offenses in its anti-gay bill. "To hell with them," said lawmaker Jakari Mohammed, referring to other denouncing the bill. It could  be argued that Nigeria has seen same-sex "marriages" for centuries (actually as part of a surrogate tradition, with a woman marrying another woman for her husband), but somehow traditions have a way of disappearing and appearing when according to expediency. 

According to the current bill, kissing in public would be an offense punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Anti-gay vendettas - like those in Uganda - will become rife in the most corrupt country in the world. 

And Nigeria has never been alone in its attitudes about gays. Here is a list of countries that could definitely be cut off from American aid:

     Algeria  Angola  Botswana  Cameroon  Egypt  Gambia  Ghana  Guinea*  Lesotho  Liberia  Libya        Malawi*  Mauritania  Mauritius   Morocco  Nigeria  Senegal   Sierra   Leone   Somalia  South Sudan Sudan   Swaziland   Tanzania   Togo  Tunisia  Uganda  Zambia   Zimbabwe  

*carry the death penalty for homosexuality.


Clinton's speech was concise and eloquent (a full transcript is HERE), and the group gave her a standing ovation, so what did she say in particular that inflamed so many Africans and "social conservatives" like Rick Perry? 
1. Many LGBT Americans have endured violence and harassment in their own lives, and for some, including many young people, bullying and exclusion are daily experiences.
Notice the inclusion of "bullying." Clinton has taken on the newest, most sensitive issue facing the Christian Right: it opposes anti-bullying laws unless dispensations are made for religious beliefs. And while Tony Perkins screams "we're not not the ones who cause teen suicides," people are beginning to note just how many cases are connected to "you're going to hell" accusations.
2. Now, raising this issue, I know, is sensitive for many people and that the obstacles standing in the way of protecting the human rights of LGBT people rest on deeply held personal, political, cultural, and religious beliefs. So I come here before you with respect, understanding, and humility.
It's the last part they can't stomach, because they don't believe the Left has anything but disrespect, ignorance and hubris when it comes to Christian Right dictums.
3. The third, and perhaps most challenging, issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens. This is not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.
How dare she compare discrimination against gays to hideous acts like widow burning! She's talking about pagan, anti-Christian practices!
4. I am also pleased to announce that we are launching a new Global Equality Fund that will support the work of civil society organizations working on these issues around the world.
Taxpayer money used to forward a perverted agenda!

We will be hearing about reactions to this speech for quite some time, with politicos screaming about how the Obama administration is pandering to gays and how this foray into world cultures will signal Armageddon.

Stay in your seats. The circus performances are just starting.