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I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

Here's me, without baby, thinking big thoughts. (Actually, what I'm thinking is, "Hey, these aren't Pringles!") I think I look better with baby.

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The Religious Right, from Salon.com
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Y'all know by now that I believe if the Democratic party has any chance of mattering again, they need to mobilize an effective (sorry Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, I said effective) Religious Left. This article is worth reading to understand the role the religious right played in tipping a close election to Bush. As I've said-- they are organized, mobilized, and funded. And effective. Personally I'm on the other side of every issue they care about-- I'm pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, against prayer in schools, in favor of stem cell research. But they work the system so well, they make the NRA look like small timers. And you have to give them that.

To me, religion is something that is between one man or one woman and their God or supreme being or whatever. It has nothing to do with politics, and the less of it I see, the better. Religious extremists of all stripes are more similar to me than different, and religious zealotry in general is a hurtful force in this world. Faith and worship are not. These are powerful things. But when you lapse over into zealotry and self-righteousness, then there's nothing good to come from it. As my friend Oteil Burbridge of the Allman Brothers said, and I'm paraphrasing, he loves Christ and he loves his faith, but religious people still get on his nerves.


The lowest ignorance takes charge

Having helped Bush to office, the religious right is exerting its

Sidney Blumenthal
Thursday November 11, 2004

The 2004 election marks the rise of a quasi-clerical party for the
first time in the United States. Ecclesiastical organisation has
become the sinew and muscle of the Republican party, essential in
George Bush's re-election. His narrow margins in the key states of
Florida, Iowa and Ohio, and elsewhere, were dependent on the direct
imposition of the churches. None of this occurred suddenly or by
happenstance. For years, Bush has schooled himself in the
machinations of the religious right.

Bush's clerisy is an unprecedented alliance of historically anti-
Catholic nativist evangelical Protestants with the most reactionary
elements of the Catholic hierarchy. Preacher, priest and politician
have combined on the grounds that John Kennedy disputed in his famous
speech before the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in
September 1960. Kennedy's every principle is flouted and contradicted
by Bush: "I believe in an America where the separation of church and
state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the
president - should he be Catholic - how to act, and no Protestant
minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no
church or church school is granted any public funds or political
preference. ... where no religious body seeks to impose its will
directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts
of its officials..."

From the White House, Karl Rove held a weekly conference call with
religious leaders. Evangelical churches handed over membership
directories to the Bush campaign for voter registration drives. A
group associated with the Rev Pat Robertson advised 45,000 churches
how to work for Bush. One popular preacher alone sent letters to
136,000 pastors advising them on "non-negotiable" issues - gay
marriage, stem cell research, abortion - to mobilise the faithful.
Perhaps the most influential figure of all was the Rev James Dobson,
whose programmes broadcast daily on more than 3,000 radio stations
and 80 TV stations, and whose organisation has affiliates in 36

On June 4, Bush travelled to see the Pope. In another meeting that
day, with Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Angelo Sodano,
according to a Vatican official, Bush "complained that the US bishops
were not being vocal enough in supporting [Bush] on social issues
like gay marriage, and abortion," and remonstrated with Sodano that
the Vatican "push the bishops".

The Vatican was astonished at the brazen pressure and did not accede.
None the less, more than 40 conservative bishops worked with the Bush
campaign against John Kerry - part of a crusade against their own
declining moral authority.

The American church is in crisis, as Catholic opinion on abortion and
stem cell research is no different than that of the general public.
And the exposure of rampant paedophilia among priests has undermined
traditional belief in the church's sanctity. Electing a liberal
Catholic as president would have been a severe blow. So conservative
bishops denounced Kerry, spoke of denying him communion, and even
talked of ex-communication.

The Catholic Kerry received 5% less of the Catholic vote than the
Southern Baptist Gore four years earlier. In the crucial state of
Ohio, where an anti-gay marriage initiative was on the ballot, Bush
won two-thirds of the "faithful" Catholic vote and 55% of the
Catholic total. Combined with 79% of white evangelicals, this gave
him his critical margin nationally and in the swing states.

The religious right is not a majority, but it was indispensable to
Bush's victory. Across the country, it has become the most energetic,
reliable and productive part of the Republican organisation. The
worth of its values-based politics is power, just as it was worldly
power that sustained the medieval church, and the assertion of that
power began within days after the election.

When moderate Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania,
chairman of the judiciary committee, said he would oppose any nominee
to the supreme court who would seek to outlaw abortion - and one
might come soon, as Chief Justice William Rehnquist is dying - the
Rev Dobson said of Specter: "He is a problem and he must be
derailed." Almost instantly, Specter clarified his position,
announcing that he meant no such thing and that he had approved many
judges who were against abortion.

"History," Thomas Jefferson wrote, "furnishes no example of a priest-
ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the
lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious
leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes." But
we're not all Jeffersonians now.

ยท Sidney Blumenthal, a former senior adviser to President Clinton,
is Washington bureau chief of salon.com


Posted by: --josh-- @ 10:20 PM  

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