Friday, September 30, 2011

Philly Post: The Christian Hijacking of America

Yesterday I stumbled upon a stunning factoid over at the Washington Post that left me momentarily flummoxed: Just over half of Americans (57 percent to be exact) believe in evolution. What that means is that more than four out of 10 people presumably believe that some other process, or processes, gave rise to the human race. Intrigued, I did a little digging and found a Gallup poll released last year that revealed strikingly similar results but offered a bit more detail; it found that 40 percent of Americans still believe in Creationism—that is, that the world and everything in it was conceived in toto through the divine will of a single, all-powerful deity.

I dug a little deeper and discovered that when controlled for political affiliation, the results are even more skewed, with more than half of registered Republicans reporting that they believe the Judeo-Christian God created humans in his own likeness sometime within the past 10,000 years.

Yes, you read that right. 10,000 years.

That got me to thinking about the current GOP front runners for the presidential nomination—candidates, like Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry, whom only weeks ago I was lambasting in this very column for being so vastly out of step with the beliefs and values of the overwhelming majority of Americans. Now here I was, being confronted with the possibility that a sizable minority of the American population subscribes to a similar, if not the very same, archaic belief system.

Then it occurred to me that these people vote, and I’ll admit I got a little weak-kneed. After taking a few deep breaths (and a swig of hooch to calm my nerves) I decided to do what I do best, get to the bottom of things by finding out what was happening to my country and how we had strayed so far from our founders’ vision on the role of religion in the national discourse. Read more...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Philly Post: Jimmy Carter is right on Palestine statehood

In 2006, former president and Nobel laureate Jimmy Carter drew the scorn of the Israeli government and its supporters when he published a book outlining a plan for peace in Palestine that equated Israel’s policies in the occupied territories with South African “apartheid.”

For context, the International Criminal Court classifies apartheid as one of 11 “crimes against humanity” and defines it as an act “committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”

In other words, it’s not an accusation to be made lightly.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Philly Post: Why I’m Hoping Big Tobacco Wins in Court

The other night, my wife and I sat down to watch True Grit with Jeff Bridges, an event that we’d both been looking forward to with alacrity given that our schedules rarely permit 110 minutes of uninterrupted leisure time together. The film was a worthy nod to the original, incidentally, with an exceptional performance by 15-year-old Hailee Steinfeld as the protagonist Mattie Ross; unfortunately, the price of enjoying it (beyond the five bucks I paid to rent it, that is) was sitting through the 90-second anti-smoking ad that is now standard operating procedure for nearly any film that carries as much as a whiff of that universally maligned weed known as nicotiana tabacum, or more commonly, tobacco. Read more...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Philly Post: Saving America's Working Class

The following appeared in the Sept. 8 edition of The Philly Post

Last Friday, as Americans geared up for a long weekend of potato salad and discount shopping, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released some somber news: The nation had netted not a single job in August. It was the first time that happened since 1945 (although there have been plenty of times since then that the nation lost jobs).

Nevertheless, by Monday the news had cast a pall over many Labor Day celebrations and injected others with a spirit of worker solidarity reminiscent of turn-of-the-century Progressivism. In Rochester, as in other municipalities, participants and spectators of the largest Labor Day parade in the city’s history took aim at union-busting Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, while in Detroit, Teamsters chief Jimmy Hoffa rallied a crowd waiting to hear from President Obama with what amounted to a declaration of war against the Tea Party.

But while Hoffa’s address may have been a warranted if crassly delivered expression of collective worker indignation, it was largely misdirected in its focus. Sure, the Tea Party makes an inviting target, but Washington has elevated undercutting American workers to the level of art form for years and under both parties. From lopsided trade agreements that pushed investment overseas to convoluted tax policies that keep it there, Washington has had its boot on the throat of the working class since the beginning of the end of American industry in the late 1970s. (There was still a boot left over for the middle class; but that’s another story altogether.) Read more.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Philly Post: Rick Perry thinks you're going to Hell

The following column is from the Sept. 1 edition of The Philly Post

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national poll released on Monday found that Rick Perry now leads the pack among GOP presidential hopefuls, with more than one in four Republican voters saying they would cast a ballot for the longtime Texas governor. I’m not sure what scares me more, the idea of a Perry presidency or the fact that one of my neighbors might be among those who would support it.

Rick Perry is not your average Republican, a fact that—taken at face value—may seem like a refreshing change to a GOP voting base fed up with politics as usual. But underneath the elephant suit, Perry is a far-right demagogue who supports repealing the Sixteenth and Seventeenth amendments (which authorize the collection of income taxes and the popular election of senators, respectively) and scrapping our 235-year tradition of checks and balances by giving the legislature the ability to overturn Supreme Court decisions.

Anyway you slice it the Texas governor is a fringe candidate; that he represents an extremely vocal minority can’t be denied (radicalism by its very nature is vocal), but Perry’s beliefs are obscenely out of step with the majority of voters from both parties, which makes his current popularity that much more confounding. The paradox would be intriguing if it weren’t so scary. Read More...