Truth and Democracy

Inviting those who live in the right-wing alternate universe to join the rest of us out here in reality.

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Location: Hackensack, New Jersey, United States

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ms. Wrong

Several years ago I met up with an old girlfriend. She had difficulty in trying to explain her new job to me that evening. You see, she was involved in a new type of PR strategy which targeted news coverage for their clients. Basically, it was "product placement" of people and products within hard news settings. I was somewhat amused at the idea. Little did I know that just a few years later I would be sickened by this morally bankrupt practice. I will always love that girl very much but I can now honestly say that I detest what she does for a living, if she still does.

Enter Ann Coulter and Time Magazine. Time Magazine being the hard news source, Coulter being the rather odious product being pitched. For anyone unfamiliar with the exploits of Ms. Coulter, she is the current reigning High Priestess of the ultra-conservative, bleached-blonde, mini-skirted, psuedo sex-kitten pundit brigade. They grow them on a farm somewhere outside Topeka, I believe. It's said to be one of only three family farms left in the midwest.

Coulter first entered the public arena as a right-wing activist lawyer representing Paula Jones in her bogus sexual harassment suit against President Bill Clinton. She often used arguments against Clinton couched in feminism/sex abuse terms which is odd considering that her political convictions, if they are real, are decidedly anti-feminist. She also called the President a "rapist" and wondered whether "he should be impeached or assassinated". This initial gem was just the first in a long litany of "Coulterisms" which could be considered as crossing the line of decency by a wide berth.

Coulter has since become a darling of right-wing punditry throughout the cable news market. She consistently attacks the "left-wing media" for trying to marginalize her and keep her down. She does this as a featured guest during shows on all of the "left-wing media" outlets. I guess they're not "keeping her down" hard enough? In the last few years she has authored a number of right-wing screeds which she calls "books". She opened her "book" "Slander" with a seemingly honorable series of words which went something like "the tone of political debate in America has become completely intolerable". She has since backed up this noble conviction by calling all liberals "traitors", suggesting that, in regard to Muslim countries, "we should kill their leaders and convert them all to Christianity" and by humbly opining that American Taliban fighter "John Walker Lindh should be killed in order to physically intimidate liberals, to make them realize that they can be killed too". She certainly has raised the level of political discourse, huh?

Not satisfied with these gems, she has continued to assault the senses with further wisdom such as saying that Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh chose the wrong target (he should have chosen the Manhattan headquarters of the NY Times instead). When confronted with the outlandish notion that US troops in Iraq were intentionally targeting journalists her knee-jerk response was to dismiss it by saying that she "only wished that it were true". She also referred to the White House's Senior Correspondent, Helen Thomas, as "that old arab".This is the kind of thing Ann Coulter contributes to our world. Aren't we lucky to have her to protect us from that "intolerable tone"?

The Time piece seeks to soften Coulter's hard-edged image with childhood photos and more current shots of a somewhat sexy nature. That is, if you consider a tall, bony, forty-something woman with an adam's apple larger than Ivan Lendle and more makeup than Katherine Harris and Tammy Faye Baker combined to be sexy. Coulter's lack of character can also be divined by addressing how she conducts her life in relation to what she writes. She recently told Fox News reporter Geraldo Rivera that she has no misgivings about going out for the evening, picking up strange men and sleeping with them. She is also known as a heavy drinker who used to live on Manhattan's exclusive Upper East Side (you know, that bastion of elitist eastern liberalism) and socialize almost exclusively with homosexual men (you know, fag hag). Clearly, the Coulter message is "do as I say, not as I do" (you know, hypocrisy).

While it is true that Time Magazine does have a storied history of right-wing bias, I do not believe that this is their sole intention in attempting to rehabilitate Ms. Coulter. What's going on here is PR as news. It works and it sells. No doubt we are on the verge of either a new Coulter "book" or some other career move for which her PR machine is now revving up. I am disappointed. Disappointed that a hard news organization like Time would devote it's pages to a downright awful human being like Ann Coulter. Was it that slow a news week? Didn't the Pope die? Didn't insurgents begin a scary new resistence strategy in Iraq? Didn't another earthquake hit southeast Asia? Is Ann Coulter really the big news? Of course not.

As for Coulter herself, I can only say this. I strongly considered calling this column "Ms. take, Ms. erable or something like "Ms. Right or Mister Wrong?". Finally I decided on the simplest path, "Ms. Wrong". Coulter is perhaps the single most reprehensible human being in our media and media driven culture today. If she ever receives meaningful payback for all the awful and negative discourse she has put out into the world, she will never survive it. Perhaps, one of these nights, one of those strangers she so likes to go home with will turn out to be a bad choice and put her out of our collective misery. One can only dream. Good night, Ann.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Pope John Paul II

On the occasion of the burial of the late Pope, it is important for Americans to remember just how progressive this leader was, on some issues. John Paul II is said to have lectured our current President on his use of the death penalty while Texas Governor. He was even more distressed by the President's decision to invade an unarmed nation. He put the Catholic church squarely behind organized labor worldwide and used his moral authority over Eastern European Catholics to expediate the fall of communism. Last year, conservative Catholic Bishops (you know, the same ones who tried to hide sex abuse scandals under the rug) released a political document entitled "A Voter Guide for Serious Catholics" which ignored some of Rome's highest priorities in a selective effort to encourage Catholics to vote against abortion and gay marriage alone. In response to that dirty little political piece, I wrote the following entitled "A Voter Guide for True Catholics" which will be featured in my forthcoming book, The Case FOR Two Americas: Why it may be time for progressive America to secede.

A Voters guide for True Catholics

The devout Catholic, when considering for whom to vote at election time, may have a difficult time indeed deciding which candidates represent Catholic values but even a more difficult time in determining which candidate is likely to reflect real Catholic values by their representation. The following is a guide suggesting truly Catholic positions regarding many of the difficult issues of our time.


There can be no question that the Catholic Church opposes the practice of abortions. Catholics believe that only God has the power to give and take life. The issue, however, can be more complicated than it appears on the surface. Illegal abortions, those performed outside safe medical conditions, not only take the lives of innocent babies but too often put the lives of the young women seeking them at risk as well. In the days before the legal practice of abortion in America, thousands of young women were mutilated and even killed when seeking out such nefarious abortion practitioners.

The True Catholic has a very difficult choice to make, therefore, on this issue. On the one hand a Catholic cannot support the practice of abortion but on the other hand a Catholic cannot personally support laws which endanger human life as well. The True Catholic might consider one alternative which is to actively support choices other than abortion. After all, simply being against something is never as powerful as being for something as well. Adoption is a choice. A child given up for adoption by a mother who cannot care for them is given a new lease on life and a family who so want a child that they are willing to seek one out. Supporting causes which aid young, single mothers in raising a child also encourage the choice of life over that of abortion.

The True Catholic must weigh these issues very carefully and decide a course of action which they feel best represents their values.

Gay Rights:

On this issue also, the True Catholic faces a quandary. Homosexuality is certainly not ordained as a practice in the bible, far from it. On the other hand our faith tells us to hate the sin and not the sinner. In today’s society it is more than likely that our own personal experience determines our attitude on this issue. The Catholic who knows people who are gay or perhaps even has a gay family member is likely to have a very different view from one who does not personally know a gay person. The practice of fearing or even hating what we do not understand is called prejudice. This is a sin for the True Catholic.

The issue of gay marriage is simple enough for the Catholic. A Catholic believes that the institution of marriage is ordained by God. Therefore, as Catholics believe that God would not ordain such a union, Catholics cannot recognize gay marriage. However the issue of civil unions and the legal rights in a committed relationship are a different thing entirely. As Americans, we believe that all of our citizens are entitled to equal legal protection. As Catholic Americans, we often see such things as a moral imperative as well. Once again the True Catholic faces a personal decision based not only on their faith but also based upon their attitudes towards other people.

The True Catholic can choose, if they see fit, to admit that a gay man or woman, as an American, should be protected by the same laws and protections as other Americans without ever having to endorse the institution of gay marriage. Once again, this is a personal choice.

The Death Penalty:

While many Americans approve of the practice of the death penalty, the True Catholic simply cannot. “Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord”. This means that Vengeance belongs only to God, not to mankind. While it is true that some crimes are so heinous and inhuman that they seem to cry out for such powerful justice, it is also true that God holds the ultimate and infinite justice in his own hands. When we seek to dispense such justice for ourselves here on earth, we are saying that we no longer trust in God to dispense his almighty power in the hereafter.

More than this we are finding out today through the use of DNA technology that some convicts on death row are actually innocent, wrongly convicted. While it is true that still many more are guilty, how can Catholics, who believe in the sanctity of life, approve putting some innocent people to death in order to punish the guilty also?

The True Catholic, in good conscience, cannot support any candidate who supports or wishes to further promote the practice of the death penalty.

The Environment:

The Catholic believes that God gave mankind dominion over the earth and all its creatures. One can hardly imagine that God did this in order to allow mankind to destroy what he had so lovingly created. America has been blessed by God with much of the world’s most breathtaking natural beauty. A Catholic does not need to be a radical environmentalist and yet, at the same time, by allowing industry and government to destroy our air and water, a Catholic denies the responsibility we all share to God, our creator, and towards our future generations to preserve our earthly home and keep it healthy and clean.

A review of current environmental news tells us that we are failing to keep faith with God when it comes to cherishing the home he has made for us. The True Catholic cannot support candidates and politicians who do not share the principle that we must be good stewards of this planet which God has made our home.

Separation of Church and State:

In a letter to the Danbury, Ct. Baptist Association in 1803, Thomas Jefferson defended his opposition to a national day of fasting to mark a religious holiday by pointing out that matters of faith were deemed too personal and sacred by our founding fathers to be controlled or influenced by the powers of government. In that letter he coined the phrase “a wall of separation between church and state”.

In recent years much has been made of this separation in American politics. It is important to remember that in much of the world there is no separation between religion and government. In many such places there is hatred and bigotry against what one might term “minority religions”. In some places it is Catholics who fall victim. In America, Catholics live next door to Protestants, Jews live next door to Muslims, Hindus live next door to Sikhs and, for the most part, they all live in peace. This is a rare condition in our world and even rarer throughout human history.

While the faithful rightly lament that American society could sometimes use more in the way of Christian values, it is vital to remember what can result from the mixture of government and religion. The Catholic, therefore, should remain wary of the politician who seeks to place religion at the forefront of government. What seems like a good idea today could easily turn against the faithful in the unseen future.

War and Peace:

The True Catholic is appalled by war. It is a truly wasteful and vile practice in which people set their minds to killing each other in order to settle what are sometimes the most foolish of differences. Throughout human history mankind has fought wars and millions upon millions have died. Those who died left behind families and children whose lives were changed forever by their loss. Today’s Catholic prays daily for those who are sent off to fight and for an end to the violence and death of war. It is a moral imperative for us.

As an American, however, the Catholic must temper this disgust for war with a practical understanding that when we are attacked we must defend ourselves or lose all that we hold dearest. In America’s history many Catholics have fought to preserve our freedom and our way of life. Whether or not this kind of killing has been a sinful act is for God to decide, not an issue for mankind. As Americans we tend to look with sorrow only at US casualties of war. Since as Catholics we believe that God created all men, however, we must always remember that all were made in his image and all deaths are considered tragic by God.

The Catholic must once again balance their faith with their allegiance to country in a very personal manner. However, one thing is perfectly clear. When war is fought unjustly, when somewhere in the world one makes war on another without just cause, the Catholic must fervently oppose this action with all of their belief. How this principle applies to America’s current military involvements is up to one’s beliefs about such justification. It is important to note, though, that Pope John Paul II, our spiritual leader, has spoken out publicly against our current war in Iraq. The True Catholic should bear this in mind right now.

An Overview:

The Catholic Church in America has seen very difficult times in recent years because of scandal and also a growing perception that the official church has grown far too out of touch with its own flock. During the 2004 general election this became even more apparent when Catholic priests gave politically charged sermons and many Diocese distributed a booklet titled “A Voters Guide for Serious Catholics”, which seemed to be nothing more than a thinly veiled effort to get more Catholics to vote for Republican candidates.

My “Guide” should be seen as a Catholic grassroots answer to that political piece. This is an appeal to the Catholic conscience, pure and simple. Rather than conveniently focusing on one or two issues designed to render a skewed result, this work seeks to broaden the discussion of just exactly how Catholic teachings intersect with today’s political climate. The True Catholic should ultimately know that neither their Archbishop nor the author of this work should tell them how to cast their vote. We can simply make suggestions and offer insight into the issues they face. The most important thing the True Catholic can remember is that their vote should always be cast after considering all of the issues, not just a couple which someone else chooses for them.

Were Jesus to return to earth tomorrow it seems highly unlikely that he would be interested in attending either the Democratic or Republican conventions. It is far more likely that he would seek to promote peace on earth and to heal those who are suffering anywhere in the world. While we, as individuals, can never completely accomplish the work which Jesus would, we would be well advised to seek out leaders who represent these principles in the work which they do. This is precisely how the Catholic can best bridge their faith and their love of America.