Jul 092010
Ethiopia, as its borders were in 1984.
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The stage is set and the lines are drawn for this November when the siege of the U.S. Congress will conclude in the battle for America. Under cover of the darkness of their deception, the Republican Party, backed by their corporate overlords, will attempt to unleash hell on the Democratic Party and the American middle class. The deployment of their arsenal of lies, half-truths and distortions began months ago, and has already carried a staggering payload of misunderstanding and fear. Now, as we march toward the election, their generals are marshalling the troops, and their foot soldiers, ignorant and enthusiastic, are poised for victory.

I fear that liberals who underestimate the severity of the damage done by Republican obstructionism and fear mongering are in for a rude awakening come November. Polls are not elections, but when all indicators are pointing in the same direction, it’s wise to take notice. It’s common knowledge that midterm elections are all about voter turnout, and democrats would be well served to look back at the last midterm for a hint of what will happen if they cannot rally their faithful and get out the vote.

The results of the most recent Pew poll on the topic are not encouraging for Democrats. Taken in mid-June, the poll leans heavily in favor of Republicans, showing significant margins in voter enthusiasm and attention, both critical indicators in a mid-term. Republican voters are currently winning the enthusiasm battle by a score of 56% to 42% and show a similar margin in those who are “closely following campaign news,” with 64% compared to 50% for the Democrats.

Republicans also show a sizable lead with older voters — who happen to be more engaged and likely to vote. And in possibly the most significant metric of all, Republicans have managed to turn the tide of independent voters. Where Democrats enjoyed a 47% to 32% preference amongst independent voters in June of 2006, the tables are now turned, with independents supporting Republicans by a 44% to 36% margin.

Nearly everything is already leaning in favor of the Republicans, and we’ve yet to face the juggernaut of corporate backed advertising that will soon descend upon the American airwaves. Led by a $75 million pledge from the U.S. Chamber, the Republicans already have over $200 million in commitments from conservative organizations. Couple this with the Supreme Court’s release of the Corporate Cracken, and it’s hard to deny the possibility of a conservative route.

If Democrats are to have any hope of retaining a majority in the Congress, they must do something to excite voters and rally them to the liberal cause — and they must do so NOW.

It’s time for Democrats to drop their cool demeanors and start fighting fire with napalm. Democrats need to stand and refute the lies perpetuated in the Republican campaign of fear and distraction, and they need to take bold action. With the economy still in the toilet and the Gulf being turned into one, these are historic times — and historic times call for historic measures.

The Democratic majority in the Senate can be the catalyst to mobilize liberals across the nation. But in order to do so, they need to immediately stop reserving power for the future and take decisive action for victory today. They are the majority, and they don’t have to allow the Republicans to control the Senate with a minority. To sit with a 59/41 majority and play victim, and to do so without ever even requiring an actual filibuster is so cowardly as to demand disrespect. The Republicans have threatened filibuster on every major issue, including the extension of unemployment benefits to the very people whom their corruption has put out of a job. Such a drastic attempt to obstruct the legislative process is without precedence and should be met with an unprecedented response. The Democrats can and should invoke the nuclear option today and take real control of the Congress.

Match this act of leadership with an all-out campaign to educate the American people on the contemptuous tactics and behavior of the corporate betrothed conservatives, and the pending Republican route will become their Waterloo.

The problem right now is that there’s only one voice that’s being heard — the conservative voice. Sure MSNBC is carrying the liberal message, and places like Huffington Post are doing their part. But the rallies belong to the conservatives, and Fox News reels in as many viewers as all other sources, liberal and centrist combined. With the Cracken sure to attack soon, Democrats are in desperate need of a countering force.

Like a collective of Paul Reveres, it’s time for liberals to mobilize before it’s too late. The corporatists are coming . . . the corporatists are truly coming! Democrats need grassroots support, and we need to call upon liberal celebrities from sea to shining sea to help make it happen. Celebrities can reach and activate younger voters who swing Democrat in large numbers. They may not have the bully pulpit, but they do command the limelight.

What might happen if liberal celebrities gathered together for an event like Band Aid, Farm Aid and Live Aid? What if Democrat performers like Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Eddie Vedder, Cher and Streisand used their celebrity to engage others and come to the aid of the average American? There’s a long list of musicians, actors and other performers who support the Democratic Party. Where are celebrities like Tim Robins and Susan Sarandon, like Madonna, Julia Roberts, Tom Hanks, Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and many others who all speak out actively against Republican politics? What about Clooney? How about Oparah?

We’ve had celebrity aid for farmers, and we’ve rightfully had it for the truly needy. I respected and supported these efforts, but now I contend that there’s an even more important battle to be fought. The battle is for the very fabric and spirit of the culture that makes these other efforts possible. Conservatism is strangling the life out of the vast majority of American people, and far too many are unwittingly leading themselves, their family and friends to slaughter. The voice of truth must be heard. The lies must be revealed. The time for those who can reach the masses to stand and be counted is now. America may not survive another round of Republican government.

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May 192010
Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins after Maher's t...
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I’m a fan of Bill Maher. I watch his show “religiously” every week. He will always be my very favorite Bush-basher of all time — bar none. Of course, my fondness of Bill is largely the result of sharing similar views on most topics; that and the fact that he’s a sarcastically funny guy. But sarcasm has its limits, and so does Bill. While he appears to be well-read on most topics, and thoughtful in his approach, he really does have a couple areas where he just goes stupid — and religion is one.

This past Friday, the Real Time panel consisted of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Daily Beast columnist John Avlon, and author S.E. Cupp. The discussion started with the nomination of Elena Kagan, and Bill making jest of the fact that the best the Democrats can do is a “huge question mark.” He then asked a legitimate question, “Why can’t the liberals get somebody who’s a liberal on the court to balance it?” Cory Booker offered a respectable defense of the nomination, and everything was moving along quite swimmingly, until the conversation turned to religion.

Bill made his segue by evoking alleged suspicions that President Obama is an atheist, and then called upon Ms. Cupp, a self-identified atheist, for support. He followed with a reasonable assertion that the Supreme Court, which is currently composed of Jews and Catholics, could use an atheist. But then, always unable to discuss human belief systems in an intelligent manner, Bill resorted to BULL and started his typical half-witted pejorative rant. According to thinker-Bill, diversity of thought on the Court should include somebody who doesn’t believe in “magical thinking.”

If this had been the end of it, I could look the other way — after all, Bill is a comedian. But it didn’t stop there. No, he was just getting started. In response to a John Avlon comment about mediocre Court appointees, Bill had the unmitigated gall to assert that “Non-atheists are mediocre thinkers.” He then turned again to Ms. Cupp, this time for her to back his statement that “people who believe in God are deluded,” and he proceeded to argue with her when she rebuked his assertion. Bill insisted that, if she is an atheist, she “must think” that believers are deluded. To her credit, Ms. Cupp didn’t falter, nor did she lose her cool when pill-Bill decided to accuse her of not having “the courage of [her] convictions.”

What ensued was a round table of panel members trying to show Mr. Bill the error of his reasoning. S.E. Cupp stated clearly one reason she doesn’t condemn religion, even though she is an atheist, is because studies prove “religion is very good for you.” Bill’s reply, “Really . . . boy . . . it causes most wars . . .” So, John Avlon tried to interject that Bill’s accusations were better brought against “Absolutism, ideology, extremism,” and that “people’s individual faith” is not at fault. Obviously the odd man out around the table, Bill attempted to move on. But, God bless Cory Booker, because he had something to say first.

“You have the zeal of a Baptist preacher in your atheism. You’re just as dogmatic and intolerant as you accuse often the people on the religious side of being,” Mr. Booker was the first person I’ve witnessed with the constitution to tell it like it is. Bill made a joke of the point and moved on, but Cory Booker would soon take another tack with his appeal. Launching off a John Avlon remark about arrogance, Booker suggested that it’s arrogant to assert you have all the answers. “Faith, to me, necessitates humility. How can a finite being understand the infinite?” said Booker. And as he tried to articulate his point on the positive aspects of religion, Bill Maher couldn’t let him talk. Obviously bothered that he had essentially been called “arrogant,” Maher attempts to turn the table and assert that it’s Booker who’s arrogant. “You’re the one who thinks you know what happens when you die,” says Bill, “That’s arrogant.”

Never mind that it seems to escape Bill that, as an atheist, he too, “thinks he knows what happens when you die.” I can even forgive his repeated misquoting of Jesus. But what became very obvious to this viewer is that, when it comes to religion, Bill Maher cannot be objective. And when it comes to his atheism, he routinely shows that he lacks the capacity for coherent thought. Unable to mount a logical argument, every time Cory Booker asserted his faith, Maher could only respond with fragments from his “religion is bad” diatribe. I was disappointed that Booker let him off the hook so easy, but I was equally perturbed that Maher is so full of himself that he just refuses to listen.

Now, I don’t claim to be privy to what Bill Maher truly believes, but his refutation of a statement of faith, merely by citing incidents of religious abuse, is ignorant at best, inescapably fallacious and in the end — extremely dishonest. Either Bill is as stupid as he so often accuses everyone else of being, and he really believes in the pseudo intellectuality of atheism, or alternatively, he understands that whether you believe in a god or not, it takes a leap of faith.  If the former is true, then Bill would be well served to contemplate the difference between religion and faith. If it’s the latter, then he’s just dodging the point and taking the opportunity to bash religion. In either case — shame on you Bill Maher.

The entire segment is available for viewing.

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