“Every generation needs a new revolution.”
-Thomas Jefferson

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Staceyann Chin, National Equality March 10/10/09 photo: Ed Needham

Monday, March 29, 2010

Carnage Along the Path: the Rise and Fall of the Tea Party/Palin/Christianist Movement and the Violence in its Wake.

The socio-political monster that is the Tea Party/Sarah Palin/Christianist movement must first rise for it to be slain. The result will be a more vibrant, constructive and civil political environment. But at what cost? If the last two weeks are a precursor of what is to come, it won't be pretty.

In February of this year we argued that the rise of Sarah Palin as a political figure in the U.S. would, ultimately, be good for the GOP, the Dems and America as a whole. [Read the article here.] Briefly, we believe Palin (and with her the Tea Partiers and Christianists) have placed the GOP in a position where it is splitting along ideological lines. The rift has been visible just beneath the surface since Sen. Barry Goldwater's (R-AZ) 1964 Presidential Campaign. The 1980's saw Ronald Reagan's hired gun, Lee Atwater, mobilize the "Christian Conservative" movement into a powerful base of the Republican Party. Atwater's protoge, Karl Rove, did the same for Pres. George W. Bush. In the meantime, the conservative-right has moved from being a reliable and effective grassroots supporter of the GOP to outright challengers to the leadership of the party. When John McCain ushered Sarah Palin onto the national political scene eighteen months ago, she captured the imagination of the far right as no one else in the past decade. Which was just what McCain had hoped she would do for his lackluster campaign. What he hadn't fully taken into account was the push-back from the moderates of the GOP and independent voters. In the end, Obama won the election with most of the independent vote as well as a modest, yet notable, percentage of moderate Republicans.

Jump ahead to 2010 and the Tea Party movement. The midterm elections are around the corner and the Charlie Crist/Marc Rubio Senate campaign in Florida shows what we can expect from the GOP. A big, vocal, ugly split. Charismatic young Rubio has the Tea Partiers/Palin folks sewn up. Gov. Crist has the support of the GOP establishment and the moderates along with some independents. This results of this race, the other primaries and the midterm general elections will be a precursor to what the next Presidential election in 2012 looks like.

It is most likely the Democrats will lose seats but keep the majority in both houses of Congress in 2010. The Tea Party/Palin/Christianists (TPPC) and the moderates will both claim some victories and suffer some defeats. As a result, the direction of the GOP will not be decided in the mid-terms and the struggle for dominance will boil over into the 2012 elections, culminating most visibly in the 2012 Republican National Convention.

This will do one or both of two things. The GOP traditionalists will win out and reestablish the party's fiscally conservative/socially moderate roots while reaching out to independents as the party with the "big tent." This could also mean the rise of a third party political force made up of the purged and disgruntled TPPC. Or, less likely, the vocal right wing of the GOP, bolstered by wins in the mid-terms and meeting with tepid or ineffective resistance from Republican leadership, will gain control of the party, perhaps even with Ms. Palin at the top of the ticket. Here, again, the possibility of the third party emerges with a candidate along the lines of Christine Todd Whitman, Colin Powell or Bill Weld.

How is this good? Because a healthy political system partially depends on a vibrant opposition. Look at the healthcare debate as a case in point. The GOP is still in a shambles following the 2010 election. The was very little constructive debate and negotiation between parties. With little exception, the GOP offered no proposals of their own and only a few Republican members became part of the process and suffered backlash for doing so. As a result, they are heading into the election cycle having to overcome their image as obstructionists. A robust GOP would have had plenty of political cover and wherewithall to develop and negotiate its own healthcare policy measures and temper those democrat proposals they deemed excessive. The Democrats, meanwhile, facing only the strategy of "No" were not put into a position where they had to unite, focus and fight for a cohesive policy. Instead, they split into factions and fought amongst each other, House against Senate, with the President staying above the fray without employing leadership to the cause of either faction. The result? A watered-down, middle of the road health care bill that, while making some significant headway, fell far below the expectations of just over a year ago when the new government was swept in with huge margins under a now less prescient banner of "Hope" and "Change."

Ultimately, the GOP is already heading into an identity crisis and the TPPC are accelerating that process. That is a good thing. The sooner the Dems have an opposition that relies more on constructive ideas, accountability and mutual respect than fear, misinformation and obstruction, the better.

The more timely question, given the events of the past two weeks, is what will be the cost of this process. While often characterized as such by the left, the TPPC's are neither wholly insane or racist (though arguably some of the former and much of the latter may be found). What may be said of those in the movement as a whole is that they share significant frustration, are motivated by deep-seated beliefs and are nearly entirely misinformed. This is not just a matter of believing false or misleading information from talk radio, the internet, Fox News or one another. It is also a matter of gravitating towards and accepting as legitimate information and ideas that reflect deep seated beliefs, fears and prejudices.  This phenomena, known as cultural cognition, makes beliefs specifically and perspective of reality in general impervious to fact or reason. Topical examples abound. Climate change, for instance, is accepted as fact by nearly every element of the scientific community. Yet, there are those who wholeheartedly believe otherwise. The so-called "Birthers" believe Barak Obama is not a U.S. citizen. There are those who believe homosexuality is a choice made by the individual rather than the natural development of an individual's biology as shown in every major study on the issue.  And there are those, as we covered in previous articles, who would claim America was founded as and intended to be a uniquely "Christian nation" despite the overwhelming contradiction of the U.S. historian community. In each of these instances, there are two clear factors. The belief in question is met with an irrefutable body of evidence to the contrary while it simultaneously reflects the cultural beliefs and perspective of the individual.

Cultural Cognition on display at McCain/Pain '08 rally.

Tea Party Convention, 2/10, Sarah Palin, Orly Taitz, and interviews with participants.

This is where things start to get sticky. Once one removes reason from the situation, you are essentially left with crowd control. Trying to limit the damage made by those who see themselves as leading a modern revolution. The crowd control around the Capitol earlier this month was not enough to restrain Tea Party protesters from shouting obscene language, racial and sexual slurs, and even spitting on a Member of Congress. This while other Members like Michelle Bachman stood on a Capitol balcony cheering and rallying for the protesters.

Rep. Bachman (R-MN) and fellow GOP members cheer on Tea Party health care protest.

Examples of racism at Tea Party demonstrations.

Politicians and political figures have taken to fanning the flames of the TPPC crowd to further their own political objectives. Witness the Sarah Palin poster of her "targeted" politicians, each with a gun sight symbol while encouraging her supporters to "reload." As the fears and prejudices of the TPPC are being exploited we hear of a brick through the window of Rep. Louise Slaughter's office in upstate New York. A coffin placed in front of Rep. Russ Carnahan's home in Missouri. A gas line cut at the home of the brother of Rep. Tom Periello in Virginia after the his home address was mistakingly posted as the Congressman's by Tea Party activists who encouraged others to "stop by." Earlier in the year we saw a man attack guards at the Pentagon and another fly a plane into an IRS building. Just today, nine men from a Michigan-based, Christianist Militia have been arrested and charged with planning to kill a police officer and bomb the funeral procession in an effort to spark a national uprising against the U.S. Government.

What does it take to get a highly motivated individual to move from the threat of violence to carrying out an act of violence? Seemingly, too little. And we are likely to have ample instances to inform an answer as long as there are those who continue to encourage such behavior directly or indirectly.

It will be a while before the TPPC begins to fade as it has yet to reach its apex. In the meantime, politicians and public figures who do not publicly and vociferously condemn the violence and threat of violence and, instead, fan the flames of this jingoistic, racist and fear-based anger do so at their peril. And our peril, as well.

For more on Tea Party rage, see Frank Rich opinion piece in NYT 3/27 here.
To learn more about "cultural cognition" go here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Why We Love Jim Wallis and Pray for Glenn Beck.

Have you been following this? We have.

We nearly had a collective coronary at The Deal last week when l'enfant terrible, Glenn Beck, announced that "social justice" was a "perversion of the bible" and a "code word" for communism and nazism. We scoured the Book of Mormon for corroborating testimony, and while we found some crazy stuff, we found nothing THAT crazy.

Really, next to "love" or "compassion," what truly captures the essence of the gospels like "social justice"? Was not Jesus, arguably, the most significant social justice activist in history? Seriously, what IS this guy smoking?

As usual, our friend Jim Wallis, responds beautifully in his column for the Huffington Post:

"Dear Glenn,

Since I challenged your claim that "social justice" was a code word for Communism and Nazism, and your calling on Christians to leave their churches if their pastors preach social justice, you have begun to modify what you are saying -- and I appreciate that. You said social justice was a "perversion of the gospel," and I countered that to assert that, instead, it is at the heart of the gospel and part of the core meaning of biblical faith. And the church authorities you wanted Christians to turn their pastors in to would all agree that social, economic, and racial justice are integral to the message of Jesus.

But now you've moved from labeling social justice as Communist or Fascist to saying that it only means "big government" and that it violates the separation of church and state. Then you said that some Christians mean Marxism by that term and some do not. Finally, you said that if social justice means "empowering" people to act individually, then that might be okay. Well, that's progress, but there's still some need for conversation here. Christians can have different views of the role of government but still agree that social justice is crucial. Very few who believe that are Marxists. And while we all preach empowerment to live out the gospel, we don't think the meaning of social justice should be reduced to just private charity. Biblical justice also involves changing structures, institutions, systems, and policies, as well as changing hearts to be more generous. So there is still a lot to talk about here.

I am glad to see you are beginning to recognize the deep richness of the term "social justice." I and my organization, Sojourners, have committed 35 years to exploring this and to working with Christians across the spectrum to deepen their commitment to this essential, biblical concept. Now that you're willing to admit that social justice is more than just a code word, we have a wonderful opportunity for the two of us to sit down together and have an open and public discussion on what social justice really means and how Christians are called to engage in the struggle for justice.

Why don't we do that, on your show, or in some other venue? And let's make this a civil dialogue and not engage in personal attacks on each other -- which is never helpful in trying to sort out what is true. So let's talk about the heart of the matter. When would you like to get together for this conversation?

Jim Wallis"

We at The Deal cannot wait! C'mon, Mr. Beck, bite.

Read the article in it's original at the Huffpost here.

RIP, Alex Chilton, 12/28/1950 – 3/17/2010

A modern day troubadour with the fortitude and wisdom to forge his own path when slightly astray could have meant trappings of fame and fortune.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Charles Moore, Photographer Of The Civil Rights Movement, Dies At 79

Charles Moore passed away last week, but he leaves behind a body of work that pushed, poked, and prodded the civil rights movement of the late 1950's and 60's. The struggle's forward movement was not coming from a broadening enlightenment of the masses as much as it was coming from the relentless aggressive attention of Americans who could no longer sit still. Instead, they marched in the streets, registered voters, boycotted shops and public transit, prayed, sang, and faced violence with faith and compassion.

Moore captured scenes now indelibly etched in our psyche. The one above shows an arrested Marin Luther King Jr, thrown over a Montgomery, Alabama police station counter while his wife looks on in 1958. His images appear in our school textbooks and hang on the walls of our greatest museums. They are simultaneously works of fine art and the epitome of photojournalism.

When we now look back on these photos, like this one of a water cannon attack on demonstrators in 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama, we cannot but think how it took so long to do what was so clearly right and just. Do you suppose there may come a day when we might look back on the current civil rights struggles around sexual orientation and think the same? Which side of history will you be on?

From a recent NPR piece by Claire O'Neill

"There are common names associated with the civil rights movement, like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. And there are lesser-known names like Charles Moore. His photos, which often appeared in Life magazine in the 1960s, are the ones that put faces to a movement for most Americans. He died last week at age 79.

Charles Moore had been in the military, he'd been a boxer, but, as he said in a 2005 documentary, his weapon of choice in the 1960s had a flash and a shutter. "I don't wanna fight with my fists," he said. "I wanna fight with my camera.'"

article cont'd with a Moore slideshow here.
listen to the NPR report here.

A great short documentary below:

Charles Moore is the legendary Montgomery photojournalist whose coverage of the Civil Rights era produced some of the most famous shots in the world (the dogs and fire hoses in Birmingham, the Selma Bridge, and Martin Luther King’s arrest in Montgomery, among many others.) His photographs are credited with helping to quicken the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The noted historian, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. said that Moore’s photographs transformed the national mood and made the legislation not just necessary, but possible. This is his story.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Deal is a Month Old!!

Thank you to all our readers, especially those who have been sharing and reposting our articles. We have grown from a few to thousands of hits from more than twenty countries solely from your interest (and a little social media). Keep coming back and let us know if you'd like to get in on the deal by reporting news and writing commentary.

Dear God, What's the Deal with Texas? Part 2: McCarthy=Good, Jefferson=Bad (we are totally NOT kidding)

On Friday, the Texas State Board of Education approved standards for a new social studies curriculum that will alter what is taught in Texas schools. As the largest single consumer of textbooks in the U.S., these changes are expected to be reflected in classrooms across the country.

As we reported last month in Part 1 of our story, the majority of the 100+ amendments represent a well publicized and long-standing effort to recast public school curricula to include a neoconservative, Christianist perspective held by the majority voting bloc of the board. These board members see their changes as necessary to rectify a liberal stronghold on public education. From Friday's New York Times article by James C. McKinley Jr: “We are adding balance,” said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”

The neocon-dominated board chose not to have any subject matter experts appear to evidence or opinion.  Members of the liberal academic intelligentsia, as they are viewed by the majority, were neither needed nor welcome in the process. In fact, they are regarded specifically as the "opposition." During the board's previous successful effort to change the subject of evolution to include it's weaknesses as a theory, Dr. McLeroy offered his now well-publicized quote, "Somebody's got to stand up to the experts." You can witness that little gem yourself here:

Here are some of the changes McLeroy and his ilk have made to what children will be learning in schools:
  • The study of “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association,” in a positive light without opposing, liberal perspectives.
  • Less criticism of the infamous Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his communist witch-hunt, showing how his views were partially vindicated in later years. 
  • Removal of Thomas Jefferson's role in the Enlightenment Movement and it's role in spurring revolutions in France and other countries. (Jefferson's views on separation of church and state, pure fiction to the conservatives, makes him persona non grata.)
  • Alongside studies of Abraham Lincoln, student will learn about President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis with more equal stature.
  • On the topic of civil rights, student will study the "violent philosophy of the Black Panthers in addition to the nonviolent approach of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr." References to Justice Thurgood Marshall as the first black United States Supreme Court Justice have been removed altogether.
  • In economics, the term "capitalism" will be replaced with "free-enterprise system" because of the stigma they fear is carried by the term. “Let’s face it, capitalism does have a negative connotation,” said one conservative member, Terri Leo. “You know, ‘capitalist pig!’ ” 
  • In sociology, students will learn about responsibility for their own choices when it comes to dating violence, sexuality and eating disorders.
  • U.S. History classes will call into question the "separation of church and state." "I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.” [The religious anti-establishment in the First Amendment and the religious test clause in the Sixth Amendment. You can make the check out to Planned Parenthood of Texas, Mr. Bradley. Thank you.]
The standards will now be published for review by Texans and come up for final vote by the board this spring. If history is any indicator, little if any changes will be made.

Dr. McLeroy recently lost his bid for re-election and is serving out the rest of his term this year. There are no signs the majority voting bloc will be unseated, however, and even if they were, these standards, if passed, will remain in place for the next ten years.

After her own amendment to require studying the reasons behind the founding fathers' idea of separation of church and state was defeated, Mavis Knight, a democrat from Dallas and member of the minority, commented, “[t]he social conservatives have perverted accurate history to fulfill their own agenda.”

We agree, Ms. Knight, we agree.

Below, a short, recent ABC Nightline report:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What a Difference a Day Makes (in DC for Same Sex Marriage, Charity Employee Benefits, and the Catholic Church)

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

On Wednesday, March 3rd, loving couples in DC will be able to be married regardless of their genitalia. As a result, DC employees of Catholic Charities learned that spouses will no longer be covered by the company's new health plan.

Let's break this down, shall we?
  1. As- decent Americans are coming to realize that marriage may have more to do with mutual respect, partnership, commitment, responsibility and love and less to do with which public restroom one uses,
  2. Therefor- charity employees working for peanuts to help those in DC with the greatest needs and scarcest resources stay fed, clothed and housed will not be able to provide health care for their own spouses,
  3. Because- the church that holds the purse-strings has decided it is better to blaspheme the very essence of Christianity, to love thy neighbor, to do unto others as you would have done unto you, - in order to adhere the public to some man-made decree about sexuality while they have been 'doing unto' little boys in darkened vestries for centuries on a global basis.
That is pretty much the deal, isn't it?

It isn't the deal with World Vision. Who? World Vision, as Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof points out in his recent NYT piece, is "the largest U.S.-based international relief and development organization" with "40,000 staff members in nearly 100 countries." They are also a "Christian organization (with strong evangelical roots) whose budget has roughly tripled over the last decade."

World Vision marches to the beat of a different (dare I say, decidedly Christian) drummer. At present, the man with the drum is Richard Stearns, head of World Vision in the US. Mr. Stearn, also an author, "begins his fascinating book, “The Hole in Our Gospel,” with an account of a visit a decade ago to Uganda, where he met a 13-year-old AIDS orphan who was raising his younger brothers by himself." In his book, he observes "What sickened me most was this question: where was the Church?” he writes. “Where were the followers of Jesus Christ in the midst of perhaps the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time? Surely the Church should have been caring for these ‘orphans and widows in their distress.’ (James 1:27). Shouldn’t the pulpits across America have flamed with exhortations to rush to the front lines of compassion?"

What World Vision doesn't do is convert. It is strictly forbidden in it's bylaws. If they awaken any awareness of grace in those they comfort and care for, it is by power of example alone. Now there's a concept.

Kristof goes on to observe "Mr. Stearns argues that evangelicals were often so focused on sexual morality and a personal relationship with God that they ignored the needy" and that "[i]n one striking passage, Mr. Stearns quotes the prophet Ezekiel as saying that the great sin of the people of Sodom wasn’t so much that they were promiscuous or gay as that they were “arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:49.) "[A]rrogant, overfed and unconcerned [?]" Jerry Falwell must be turning over in his grave.

Yes, the Catholic Church would do well to take a few pages from World Vision's playbook. But lets not hold our breath. Entrenched doesn't even begin to describe the unwillingness of the Vatican to open their eyes to the world around them or open their hearts to the meaning of Christ. Even the most optimistic of Vatican III proponents would roll their eyes with a "Ne, Deo, Ne."

The hard truth to all this is the Catholic Church and Christianists the likes of Pat Robertson and Rick Warren make it real easy for many of us to turn our backs on faith altogether. Kristof points out "[t]he American view of evangelicals is still shaped by preening television blowhards and hypocrites who seem obsessed with gays and fetuses. One study cited in the book found that even among churchgoers ages 16 to 29, the descriptions most associated with Christianity were “antihomosexual,” “judgmental,” “too involved in politics,” and “hypocritical.” Given the above, is it really any wonder the words of Hitchens and Dawkins resonate so resoundingly these days?

Amidst all this hullabaloo, however, World Vision quietly carries out God's work on Earth and churches across the country equate being "open, welcoming and affirming" regardless of sexual orientation to following in the footsteps of Christ. These stories, unfortunately, are far more rarely shared than the titillating obscenities of hypocrites hiding behind crosses that make the headlines as they have in DC.

Kristof, no starry-eyed dreamer himself, concludes wondering "[i]f secular liberals can give up some of their snootiness, and if evangelicals can retire some of their sanctimony, then we all might succeed together in making greater progress against common enemies of humanity, like illiteracy, human trafficking and maternal mortality."

Agreed. And maybe, just maybe, in the process, experience a hint of grace, a moment of selflessly doing what is right and good. And Christian. That would be good, too.

Read the full piece by Nicholas Kristof in the NYT here.

Dear Mr. Cuomo, A Sure Thing was a romantic coming-of-age movie.

(ie. there is no such thing as a sure thing in politics. Just ask President Hillary Clinton.)

Governor Paterson's debacle of the past couple weeks has stirred things up in the New York State political scene. To say the least. Especially over the past couple years, Empire State politics have been something akin to a professional wrestling match - lots of well rehearsed moves, unbelievable falls, and over-the-top grandstanding.

It has gotten to the point where I can't look at Gov. Paterson without thinking of Fred Armisen's cutting portrayal on SNL. The Governor has become a caricature of himself. Calls for his resignation are coming from all corners- from GOPers all too eager to score some political points, from Dems seeking to put as much distance as possible between themselves and the Gov., and today, from the National Organization for Women. The question last week was "will he drop out of the campaign?" This week it went from "will he resign?" to "when will he resign?" in a matter of 24 hours. It is no stretch to surmise the Patterson Administration is all but over. From here on out, it is only a matter of some more juicy headlines and a solidified date of departure.

All eyes are now on NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, son of three term Governor, Mario Cuomo. The press and the nearly every pol and pundit have all but anointed him as the next Governor of New York (save for Lt. Gov. Richard "Dick" Ravitch, next in line to finish out the term following a Paterson resignation). Unlike David Paterson, Andrew Cuomo inherited much of his father's political savvy. He is currently mum on the subject of the Gubernatorial race. And for good reason.

As NY Attorney General, Cuomo is presently involved in two high profile investigations - Paterson's Aide-gate and, less known outside of NY, an investigation involving NY Senate Majority Leader, Pedro Espada, Jr.  These investigations could be potential mine-fields, especially Paterson's. The fact that the Governor hasn't resigned yet likely means he is holding onto the seat as a potential bargaining chip given the results of the investigation. It will be a precariously fine line Cuomo must walk. He will need to satisfy the calls for justice while keeping a semblance of impartiality. A tall order when you are considered the default successor.

If Cuomo emerges sufficiently unscathed, it will then be his race to lose. And in politics, everyone loves the underdog. Fortunately for Cuomo, the "underdog" is GOP bad boy, Rick Lazio. A figure who doesn't draw much sympathy from tough New York voters.

Last but not least, the election for Governor isn't until November. Centuries in political time. Cuomo surely knows that anything can happen between now and then and usually does. If his current demeanor and reticence to engage Lazio and the issues around the election are a precursor to how he handles the situation between now and November 2, he should be able to pull it off. He undoubtedly knows it will be a long road to hoe because there is no such thing as a "a sure thing" in politics. Just ask President Hillary Clinton.

Read more about Cuomo's Albany entanglements in the NY Daily News here.
Read about the nails in the coffin of the Paterson Administration in the NY Times here.
Read about the very fine line Cuomo must walk in NY Magazine here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why is Anthem Blue Cross raising premiums by 39%? (Because they can)

Public Option Anyone?

It seems Anthem Blue Cross will go ahead with previously announced rate hikes of 39% on existing and new health insurance premiums. This is despite best efforts by Dems like Sen. Dianne Feinstein (CA) and Rep. Chellie Pingree (ME) [both from states with a sizable Anthem presence] and a tongue lashing on Capitol Hill the past couple days. The increases will start hitting families soon.

Robert Gibbs, the unfortunate White House Spokesman, said at a briefing on Monday that the President is eager to pass his health care plan. The public option will not be part of it, he followed, because the vote count looked overwhelming.

Makes you wonder if we are talking about the same Congress. He surely can't be referring to the same Congress with a House strongly backing a public option and a Senate that now has over twenty Senators signed on to a letter urging Harry Reid and the President to help them fight for it. At a time when the public option is the most popular part of any proposed plan, enjoying support among more than 60% of voters according to a new poll by non-partisan Research 2000? That's nearly twice the amount of support the President's entire plan received, by the way.

Could the difficulty in whipping up votes be a result of zero leadership on the issue from the White House? Did Obama, as speculated by The Huffington Post's Miles Mogulescu, fashion a deal with the health care industry last summer to leave it off the table as he did with big pharma by agreeing to keep Medicare from negotiating prescription drug prices or buy them from Canada?

Makes you wonder what team he is playing for. Remember Candidate Obama? President Obama doesn't.

Read Anthem CEO's PR attempt at explanation in The LA Times here.
Get a quick take here from Eugene Robinson (a favorite of ours) of The Washington Post.
Check out the newest poll on the Obama Plan and the Public Option here. (and sign the petition)
Read the Huffington Post's story on Obama's back room deal with the health care lobby here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

OK, this has nothing to do with anything. (but it is such a hoot)

This cat in Paris does NOT want to go for a walk.
Sérieusement, ce que pensaient-ils?

Monday, February 22, 2010

What's the deal with these Pastors leading prayer calling for the death of Pres. Obama?

Not a joke people. There are actually Pastors leading their congregations in prayer calling for God to take Obama from the living. It is generally no longer surprising to us when many of today's Christianists speak of their personalized God. You know, the God that seems to share many of the same human-like hang-ups of the congregations themselves. Their God is vengeful, intolerant, easily Republican, very much an American, and extremely homophobic.

Well, those same Christianists have outdone themselves and actually surprised us with what they are willing to attempt to cloak with religion - calling for the death of the President. John Avalon, author of Wingnuts: How The Lunatic Fringe Is Hijacking America, tells in The Daily Beast how some Pastors chose to celebrate Presidents Day this year. And we're afraid it isn't an isolated incident. From the article:

At a time when some people confuse losing an election with living under tyranny, it’s perhaps no surprise that a day set aside for marking past presidents’ birth has become, for some, a day for praying for the current president’s death.

Praying for President Obama’s death has become a sick cottage industry for some evangelicals on the lunatic fringe. Bumper stickers, T-shirts, and teddy bears are sold with the wholesome-sounding slogan “Pray for Obama” but tagged with the more troublesome “Psalm 109:8”—which reads “May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership” followed by “May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.”

“If you have an evil leader above you, you pray that Satan will stand by his side and you ask God to make his children fatherless.”

In Wingnut circles, it’s known as the “Imprecatory Prayer.” Offered not just from select pulpits, but increasingly expressed through tweets and forwarded via email, this decidedly un-Christian Christian subculture has found its most enthusiastic advocates in a few Obama Derangement Syndrome-afflicted preachers—notably Orange County’s Wiley Drake and Arizona’s Steven L. Anderson.

Pastor Wiley Drake kicked off this Presidents’ Day Weekend with an email blast to his supporters saying “Imprecatory Prayer is now our DUTY” and announcing a daily teleconference call to advance the cause. Drake has been an enthusiastic advocate of imprecatory prayer since he announced that God answered his call with the murder of Kansas abortion clinic doctor George Tiller in church last May. “George Tiller was far greater in his atrocities than Adolf Hitler,” Drake said at the time, “so I am happy. I am glad that he is dead.” This emboldened him to add “the usurper that is in the White House … B. Hussein Obama” to the list said in his church on Sundays.

con'td here

If you feel up to it, here is an AP video with excerpts of Christianist Pastor Steven L. Anderson's sermon. Warning, this video may test your confidence in humanity.

The Brits know a good deal when they hear one. (it's bloody hilarious, too)

Check out this video. A campaign gaining momentum in the UK. We challenge you to find a reason why we shouldn't consider this in the good ol' US of A. Not a tough sell, really. What do you think? Let us know.

For more info: http://robinhoodtax.org.uk/

Don't Ask, Don't Give. That's the deal, Shaquille.

Because justice delayed IS justice denied.

Today, The Deal is proud to join our friends Paul Sousa (Equal Rep), David Mixner, Joe Sudbay of AMERICAblog, The Daily Kos, FireDogLake and the many other blogs in the Don't Ask, Don't Give campaign.

Please read on, sign the petition, take the pledge. When our brothers and sisters are denied their civil rights, so are we.

What's the deal? [the following is reposted from AMERICAblog]
We are asking voters to pledge to withhold contributions to the Democratic National Committee, Organizing for America, and the Obama campaign until the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is passed, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) is repealed, and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is repealed -– all of which President Obama repeatedly promised to do if elected.

Why are you asking people to take this pledge?
Candidate Obama promised during the campaign to be the gay community’s “fierce advocate.” He and the Democratic party have not kept their promise.

Can you give examples of how the President and Democrats have not been fierce advocates for the civil rights of gay and lesbian Americans?

But won’t your pledge hurt Democrats?
It never hurts Democrats to keep their promises to the voters. The American people respect strong leaders who have the courage to stick to their beliefs. And it will only help Democrats in the next election to stand by their commitments to a core constituency. If Democratic voters aren't motivated, they won't vote. We are concerned that the President's failure to fulfill his promises may suppress voter participation not only from gay Democrats, but from our families, friends and allies. In a very real way, this is an effort to ensure that we get-out-the-vote in 2010, 2012 and beyond.

But if you don’t give money to the DNC, won’t that help elect Republicans who are even worse on gay issues, and other issues Democrats care about?
We are not calling for a boycott of donations to the DNC. We are simply calling for a pause until the party follows through on its campaign promise to repeal DADT and DOMA, and pass ENDA. The party will get the same donations it would have gotten, when the promises are kept. The Democrats could choose to make good on their promise today. And by doing so, they will only further motivate the Democratic base to again turn out for the next election, a decidedly good thing.

You have to admit, gay rights is controversial – wouldn’t it be political suicide for Democrats to push gay rights?
Democrats should not have promised to support gay civil rights rights in exchange for our votes if they never intended to keep the promise. If we're not controversial during the campaign, when politicians are happy to accept our votes and our money, we cannot accept being labeled controversial after our candidates win. We kept our part of the bargain, we voted for Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress. It’s entirely reasonable for us to ask our elected officials to keep their part of the bargain too.

What's more, gay rights are not controversial. Americans favor allowing openly gay men and lesbian women to serve in the military by a margin of 69% - 26%.  By a margin of 57% - 37%, "A clear majority of Americans (57%) favors allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into legal agreements with each other that would give them many of the same rights as married couples." That can't happen if DOMA is the law.  And in fact, if these civil rights promises were controversial, they would have hurt candidate Obama at the polls. But, he proudly and loudly proclaimed his support for LGBT equality, and he won.

No matter how disappointed you are, aren’t Democrats still better than Republicans?
The Republican party is terrible on gay issues. That doesn’t excuse the Democratic party breaking specific promises to the gay community made in exchange for our votes. We didn’t break our promise at the ballot box, the Democrats shouldn’t break theirs after we helped put them into office.

President Obama has only been in office less than a year, why the rush?
In less than a year, serious damage has already been done to the President’s commitments to the gay community. The problem isn’t only that he hasn’t been quick enough to fulfill his promises, it’s that he has actually backtracked on his promises and hurt the cause of civil rights and our community, as detailed above.

But aren’t there bigger priorities than gay rights for the Democrats to deal with, like health care and the economy?
Would President Obama, the DNC and the Congress tell other minorities that their civil rights aren't important? The suggestion is that Democrats have more important things on the table. When won't Democrats have more important priorities than the civil rights of gays and lesbians? Will there ever be a day, a year, an administration, when the President and the Congress won't have serious crises to deal with? Suggesting that gay Americans and their friends and families wait until the President and Congress have nothing else to do is not only insulting, it's a recipe for never. And regardless, we trust that this President, unlike the previous, can walk and chew gum at the same time.

Who is behind this effort?
John Aravosis and Joe Sudbay, two longtime political operatives in Washington, DC, and the editors of AMERICAblog.com. AMERICAblog has raised over $300,000 for Democratic candidates and progressive causes, including nearly $50,000 for then-candidate Barack Obama, supported by AMERICAblog early in the primaries. The boycott is cosponsored by Daily Kos, Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake, Dan Savage, Michelangelo Signorile, David Mixner, Andy Towle and Michael Goff of Towle Road, Paul Sousa (Founder of Equal Rep in Boston), Pam Spaulding, Robin Tyler (ED of the Equality Campaign, Inc.), Bil Browning for the Bilerico Project, and soon others.

You can contact us at: dncboycott@gmail.com

How can I help?
Sign the pledge, tell your friends about this campaign, read the blog, and stay tuned for updates and action alerts on how you help make sure that the President, the Congress and the Democratic party keep their promises to the LGBT community, our families, our friends and our allies.

Friday, February 19, 2010

What's the deal with Lent? (Clarity of purpose, anyone?)

Theologian, author and activist, Jim Wallis explains why he observes Lent and why now is a perfect time to do so.

As with most traditions and rituals, the practice of observing Lent has evolved over the years.  But sometimes evolution brings us further from original purpose. Fasting was always the traditional method of observance (and by fasting, I do not mean refraining from chocolate). As Wallis puts it "Fasting is intended to cleanse the body, clear the mind, create some time and space, nourish the spirit, and focus the heart."

There must be something to fasting or it wouldn't be found in all the major religions. "Cleanse, ...clear, ...create time and space, ...nourish, ...focus," sound good? Sign me up, right?  Wallis plops Lent and fasting right down in middle of now, amidst all the confusion, noise, need, struggle and cynicism today holds for each of us. He does what he does best. He makes god relevant. Not by explaining what god is and interpreting a dogma to adhere to as so many are want to do. But by bringing us back to original purpose and connecting our post-modern souls to that which might provide a sense of the holiness amidst the dissonance of our daily lives.  In his case, the context is Christianity. Yet, as the case of traditional Christianity (but not the modern Christianist interpretation), the practice is not exclusive to other religions or belief systems.

Wallis observes, "Sometimes things get so bad that you really don't know what to say or do. When that happens, it's a good time to fast and pray. Now, it's always a good time for fasting and praying -- especially during Lent, which begins this week." Good point. In my own experience, I do not always pray from a place of routine or belief it will improve my situation. Frequently, and especially of late, it is because I do not know what else to do. And, as many far wiser men, like Wallis, have observed, the power of desperation may move mountains. Lord knows, there are many mountains to be moved today. So many mountains, it may be overwhelming to determine where we might begin. Wallis suggests we might stop and observe the overly obvious. We might do well to begin with ourselves.

Find his article here on The Huffington Post.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dear God, what's the deal with Texas? (No, really, what's up?)

In the Texas State Board of Education's quest to save the future of Christianity, US history, education and our democracy, - they must crucify each.

How you ever seen, read, or been exposed to something and been so viscerally offended on multiple levels that you simply do not know where to begin? I get that every once in a great while when something comes into my purview and I sit aghast, mouth agape, unable to find the words to communicate my disappointment with the human condition.

This, my friends, is one of those times. Except, here, my repulsion is matched by my sense of duty (ie. ego) to shine whatever meager light I might muster on this train wreck of a truly American moment.

In his article in The Times Magazine last week, Russell Shorto brings us inside the Texas State Board of Education, it's members, and current undertakings. For many of us who follow issues at the nexus of the US church/state relationship, the mere mention of the Texas State Board of Ed (TSBE) is enough to make your knees knock. It is an ongoing and bloodied battlefield between those who would preserve the separation of church and state and those who are driven to rewrite American history, utilizing the state's public school system to indoctrinate children (aka, the future leaders of America) in a human, national and world view skewed to a grotesque misrepresentation of Christianity.

What's the big deal with what Texas decides to do? Because it is a very, very big deal. The Texas public school system is the largest single unified state school system in the country. (California's has the most students but the school systems within the state have more diversity in their approaches to curriculum.) As the biggest market for the country's multi-billion dollar textbook industry, Texas, essentially, gets to decide what goes in them. And the rest of the states get to buy them. As a long time player in the textbook industry put it in the article "Texas governs 46 or 47 states." Ouch. It seems, in terms of our children's education in this country, as goes Texas, so goes the nation.

The TSBE boasts a cohesive minority of seven (out of fifteen) self-proclaimed "christian fundementalists" who have a clear and very public agenda and are as serious as they are dangerous.  While the Times article focuses on the recent campaign to revise American history to integrate the "Christian "truth"(sic) of America's founding," the much publicized recent history of the board's contemplative work includes the expected - failing to insert creationism into the science curriculum by one vote, schools now must teach evolution as a theory with scientific "strengths and weaknesses"; to the surprising - the banning of books by Bill Martin, Jr, author of the subversive classic "Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See?" and nearly three hundred other childrens titles. How did this latter decree get passed down? Not through voracity of research. It seems a TSBE board member was informed by another member of a book entitled "Ethical Marxism", "who suggested that anyone who wrote a book with such a title did not belong in the TEKS [ie. Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or the states official curriculum guidelines. -ed.]." The author of this book was Bill Martin. No relation to Bill Martin Jr, but, apparently, close enough for the board to pass the amendment along with hundreds of others it considers with great, but not precise, dexterity.

This year's initiative for the TSBE Christianist voting bloc is history. U.S. history to be precise. The pile of amendments attempt to re-write American history to portray the founding of our country to be an emphatically Christian endeavor. Unsurprisingly, they rarely refer to the Declaration of Independance and never the Constitution. Why? Because, as nearly the unanimous community of history scholars point out, while the majority of this country's founders identified themselves as Christian, they intentionally refrained from using any Christian of biblical language in the either the Declaration or the Constitution. At the core of religious freedom, they believed, was the prevention of a state religion. But the TSBE has a well documented history of not letting facts stand in their way of truth, as though saying something repeatedly and with conviction will eventually make it true.  From the article: "Gail Lowe, who became chairwoman of the board after McLeroy was ousted and who is one of the seven conservative Christians. “Many of us recognize that Judeo-Christian principles were the basis of our country and that many of our founding documents had a basis in Scripture. As we try to promote a better understanding of the Constitution, federalism, the separation of the branches of government, the basic rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, I think it will become evident to students that the founders had a religious motivation.”

Instead, the revisionists point to other documents such the The Mayflower Compact and from there draw their evidence. As Shorto writes "The language in the Mayflower Compact — a document that McLeroy and several others involved in the Texas process are especially fond of — describes the Pilgrims’ journey as being “for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith” and thus instills the idea that America was founded as a project for the spread of Christianity. In a book she wrote two years ago, Cynthia Dunbar, a board member, could not have been more explicit about this being the reason for the Mayflower Compact’s inclusion in textbooks; she quoted the document and then said, “This is undeniably our past, and it clearly delineates us as a nation intended to be emphatically Christian.” See? "Emphatically."

While the Christianists operate with impressive zeal around the assumption that "the true picture of America’s Christian founding has been whitewashed by 'the liberal agenda,'" there continues to be an equally zealous community holding them somewhat accountable to reality, namely, historians. A casualty of the situation has been the subject of religion in our schools. Where the Board and it's theocratic counterparts haven't succeeded into injecting their warped view of Christianity into the country's textbooks, there is little material on the subject as a whole. The topic is such a lightening rod, textbook publishers have opted to stay away from the subject completely except when pressured to do so by the folks who write the checks. This is a pity. The subject brings with it exceptional insight into the history of our country and other cultures. It is truly ironic that the work of a small group of evangelicals to weave their beliefs into the fabric of the country has resulted in the misrepresentation of one religion and the exclusion of the others. But for now, that irony is lost on the Texas State Board of Education and it falls to us to "save" them (and our children) from themselves.

click here for Russell Shorto's piece in The New York Times.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Obama a socialist? Puh-lease. EJ Dionne on the deal with the teabaggers and the world they came from.

What fuels the grass roots rage:  
So what exactly is the Tea Party movement and why has it risen up?
E.J. Dionne Jr.
Washington Post

"The ferocity of its opposition to President Obama is mystifying to political progressives. Most of the left simply doesn't see him as especially liberal, let alone "socialist."

Obama, after all, is the man who saved the banks and the capital markets. Now the bankers are secure and most of them are still rich.

His health-care proposals stopped far short of the single-payer system that so many liberals have long sought, and his plan is the kind of thing moderate Republicans offered back when they were a significant force. Obama put absolutely no political muscle behind the progressives' backup idea: a public option that could have served as a beachhead for a single-payer system."


9 & 1/2 years later. Just as hard to deal with.

From the AP and NYT

Aerial Photos of Trade Center on 9/11 Released

"Newly released aerial photographs of the World Trade Center terror attack capture the towers’ collapse, from just after the first fiery plane strike to the dust clouds that spread over Lower Manhattan and New York harbor."


Hey, what's the deal with Iran and the Green Revolution these days?

Daily Beast contributor and Iranian-American revolutionary, Jason Shams, just got back from Tehran. He totally knows.

The Revolt About to Rock Iran

From sabotaging loudspeakers to circumventing Internet firewalls, Jason Shams—who spent months fighting in the streets of Tehran—reveals some of the underground machinery that fuels the protests. Plus, Michael Adler on the race to stop Iran’s nuclear regime.

Posted using ShareThis

What's the deal with Uganda, Part 2. (stuff you can do about US exported hate/violence in religious packaging)

Thanks to the good people of The Nation Magazine. If you've heard about this, check out the article. If you haven't heard about this, watch the video clip, count to ten, take a deep breath, count to ten again, and read the article.

Ten Things to Oppose the Anti-Gay Legislation in Uganda 

"Although homosexuality is criminalized in 80 countries, the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 is the most egregious attempt to sanction homophobia and threaten the human rights of all its citizens. The bill, introduced by parliamentary member David Bahati and strongly influenced by US religious right, previously called for the death penalty for "any form of sexual relations between persons of the same sex," now making homosexual conduct punishable by up to life imprisonment. Other features of the bill include extraterritorial jurisdiction to punish gay Ugandans living out of state and up to three years imprisonment for anyone who refuses to report the existence of any perceived LGBTI individuals to the police. "


 Transforming Uganda / high resolution from Bruce Wilson on Vimeo.



Worth a thousand words. Or, what's the deal with these pictures.

From TX Gov. Rick Perry rally:

From our friends at the American Progressive Party:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Controversy, Vancouver and the Olympics, Part 2.

More of the story behind the story, by Dave Zirin of The Nation.  It is a fascinating time in Vancouver, BC.

When Snow Melts: Vancouver’s Olympic Crackdown 



Dear God, save us from religion. (part one)

During the last couple centuries, a curious thing began to change within the major religions of the world. Previously, religion was more of a knack or skill among followers. A guide to become more knowing of God through ritual, myth and metaphor. It was taken for granted that one could not know God through logic or knowledge or words or reason. God transcended reason, knowledge, language. The holy books of the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, Baghavad Gita and Upanishads were full of parables, myths, great stories that through their repeated telling and retelling, ritualized enacting and meditiation on, would provide an path to enlightenment, a way to understand truth for those who sought a closer relationship with God.

Thence came the ironically named Age of Enlightenment (aka Age of Reason, which is far more apt) and the importance of myth and metaphor as a necessary way to understand our world, God and ourselves, fell victim to rationality, empiricism and the scientific method. While in terms of Christianity, the questioning of the religious institutions and orthodoxies of the time did lead to the eruption of religions that placed man in direct relationship with God, it did so at a cost made more evident later. Within a couple hundred years, the philosophical decendents of Martin Luther and John Calvin had all but cast aside any hint of metaphor and parable. Now, instead of the Bible providing a path to "know" God or to know the "truth", it is seen by many, for the first time in Man's history, as nonfiction. Self-described Christians measure their faith by the unquestioned acceptance of the Bible as dogma much to the chagrin of two thousand years of history. As a result, myth understood as fact, has seriously removed man from God rather than the other way around.

Evidence of this is everywhere and it is not encouraging. But God may be making a comeback. A greater number of mainstream Protestant religious groups are moving past the self-limiting boundaries of the literalists.  Symbolism and parable may be making a comeback, cultural context is not seen as a threat to truth. Slowly, larger numbers of modern pilgrims are seeking a relationship with God by knowing him through action and experience rather than trying to know him through mistaking myth and metaphor as fact.

Perhaps we are exiting the Age of Reason and maybe it is a good thing. One can't really run "God is Love" through the scientific method. But that's ok. There's plenty enough facts to go around these days, it is truths we seem to be short on, truths we are hungry for, and truths that can begin to light our way.

My current two favorite theologians:

Rabbi Micheal Lerner in 2006 with Tim Russert on Meet the Press. A brief look at the religious right in America.

Karen Armstrong makes her TED Prize wish: the Charter for Compassion.

Monday, February 8, 2010

What is the Deal with Sarah Palin? Why she is good for the Democratic Party. [and it's not why you think]

The woman is a phenomenon. I think everyone can pretty much agree on that. The majority of the country believes she should never, ever, be in the same room as the nuclear "football." In the months following John McCain's ill-fated announcement that the freshman Alaskan Governor was to be his running mate for the 2008 Presidential election, the more Americans heard from her, the less they thought of her. Some of the more glaring examples were those prominent Republicans who, in those 10 long weeks between her arrival on the scene and the election, broke Pres. Reagan's Eleventh Commandment, "Thou shall not speak ill of any fellow Republican." These included noted conservatives like George Will, David Broder, Kathleen Parker, Charles Krauthammer, Ross Douthat and former Bush speechwriter, David Frum, who noted in the New York Times, "How serious can [McCain] be," Frum wrote even before Palin appeared at the GOP convention, "if he would place such a neophyte second in line to the presidency?"

So Sarah Palin is good for the Democrats because, by comparison, she makes them look like God's gift to good Government? No. Not even she could pull off that sort of miracle these days. No, Sarah Palin is good for the Democrats because she gathers all the crazies under one roof. This, in the long run, will be good for the Republicans, and, in turn, a good deal for the Dems, too. Stay with me.

The recent Brown/Coakley election in MA has somewhat obscured an even more telling election in NY last fall when Palin (along with MN Gov. Tim Pawlenty, fmr. Majority Leader Dick Army and right-wing talk radio) endorsed conservative outsider Doug Hoffman over local GOP nominee Dierdre Scozzafava. This was a very visible display of a Tea Party/GOP rift that has continued to foment since the 2008 elections. Those familiar with the race for US Senate in Florida know this is already the next visible street fight between these two forces. Gov. Charlie Crist started out with a very healthy lead last year but has given up all that ground to fmr. FL House Speaker, Marc Rubio. A lengthy article on the race and Rubio (linked below) in the NYT last month was entitled "The First Senator from the Tea Party."

In what may the most ironic display of political identification of our time, the figure most heralded by both Teabaggers and their GOP counterparts is fmr. Pres. Ronald Reagan, the man whose 11th. Commandment they run roughshod over.  Reagan was notably committed to the idea of a Republican big tent. That philosophy contributed to two solid elections and a party re-energized for the first time following Watergate. Yet, Palin and her Partiers are about to bring down the tent in Florida.

If, on August 23rd, Rubio goes on to defeat Crist in Florida's US Senate election and Ms. Palin has all but made her 2012 run for the Presidency official, it is powerful good news for the Democrats. But not for the reason you think.  Yes, a healthy Tea Party movement involved in the 2010 midterm elections is great news for democratic candidates during a time when, at least to date, there is little to no great news. Nor should there be. Save for a few Congressman/Congresswomen and even fewer Senators, there really isn't much reason to vote Democratic this year except for the fact that they are not Republicans. Though some do come exceedingly close by definition. And a strong Sarah Palin run for the Presidency in 2012 is one of the exceedingly few scenarios that would clinch a second term for Mr. Obama. While both these developments mean great short term gains for the Democratic Party, a long term, more ellusive benefit is also moved into play.

Politics is like tennis. Your game can only improve when you play with someone your equal or better.  Leadership issues aside, the democrats are currently flailing, in large part, because the GOP is an awful mess. Since the '08 elections there has been not a scintilla of cohesion in the party. Sure, members of congress still step before microphones and repeat mantras of "lower taxes" and "cut spending" but this is a planetary distance from a strategy, let alone a uniting raison dêtre. By default, the GOP has become the party of "no." As it turns out, this hasn't been good for the Dems, the GOP or, most importantly, American citizens. Instead of Democratic initiatives being challenged by Republican initiatives and then put through the fire of constructive debate with an outcome that may disappoint some on both sides but come closer to the goals both sought, Democratic initiatives have been met with obstinance and procedural gridlock. It should not be a surprise that this lesser strategy from the GOP has inflicted damage on the Dems. It is very difficult for the Dems to rise to the occasion when they are wrestling in the gutter. A certain amount of leadership is required to rise above this sophomoric fray and return to the ideas that were supposedly ushered to the steps of Capitol Hill in '08. Neither the legislative nor the executive branch is offering anything of the sort so far. But this is a topic for a different article.

To be at it's best, the Democratic Majority must have a healthy opposition party. Why do minority parties occasionally meld into a significant force (ie. Gingrich and the "Contract for America")? Because they must. Just as the arts gorge in meaning and talent during oppressive regimes or political movements galvanize when forced underground, desperation is a powerful motivator for the underrepresented. Presently, the GOP desperately lacks a voice, a mission, a raison dêtre (much more so than the Dems who seem to have stepped away from theirs temporarily). Sarah Palin can save the party.

The former Governor of Alaska's success will accelerate a 'coming to Jesus' moment for the party of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. A recent National Review poll of over a hundred GOP leaders found Sarah Palin in 5th place (after MS Governor Haley Barbour) as the most likely to get the nomination in 2012. Compare that with the reception Ms. Palin received this week at the Tea Party Convention and at most all of her public appearances, and anyone can see a storm brewing on the horizon. Fortunately for everyone, this has little to do with Ms. Palin herself and much more to do with the angry and vocal political vein she has tapped. She brings a fresh face and attractive demeanor to the table. But that's about it. She is riding a disgruntled, populist, culturally isolated and near jingoistic wave of folks who don't place much stock in experience or book learnin' and are pleased as punch with the former beauty queen as their spokesperson. Even if she isn't politically in alignment with much of the Tea Party precepts, no one seems to mind on either side.

As the primaries for 2010 continue and the presidential primary for 2012 draws closer, lines will begin to form and sides taken. Where and how the showdown happens, one can't be sure. Will it wait till the Republican Convention (either Tampa, Phoenix or Salt Lake City)? Or will races such the Senate race in FL bring this pot to a boil well before then?  Either way, between now and the 2012 general elections the GOP is going to be forced to into a crisis of identity. And that will be good for them, good for the Dems, and, especially, good for the people.

Read more about the Crist/Rubio race for US Senate in FL:

The First Senator from the Tea Party?
by Mark Leibovich
NYT 1/6/10