Latino Sexual Oddysey

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Gender identity by Jessica Halem

Gender identity

Jessica Halem
Published April 7, 2006.
Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

Chicago -- I want to applaud the Chicago Tribune and Tribune staff reporter Bonnie Miller Rubin for taking on such an important, often invisible and sometimes volatile issue in both the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and straight world ("Transgender movement emerging from shadows," Page 1, April 3). Especially important in the piece was the focus on a FtM person. In the lesbian community, more and more lesbians are partnering with or becoming FtMs, tranguys, genderqueers and other masculine forms of female bodies (just like lesbians always have!).

But gender identity isn't just the business of the gays. Everyone has a gender and everyone has the right to question the pink or blue hats placed on their heads at birth.

As a lifelong radical feminist, I was taught to be whatever I wanted and say whatever I needed and not blindly follow the role for women society sets out for us. I'm proud to be in a world in which some women say they'd like to be men or some stripe of masculinity that the pink hat just can't contain. Their trailblazing makes more room for everyone.

A Hispanic Civil Rights Movement

A Hispanic Civil Rights Movement
By Juan Williams. Copyright by The Washington Post
Monday, April 10, 2006; Page A17

The massive demonstrations by Hispanics across the country have the look of civil rights history. The crowds protesting punitive immigration legislation have been huge, rivaling or exceeding the gathering for the 1963 March on Washington. Is this in fact a major new civil rights movement?

Until now Hispanics have not been a political force or a major factor in national discussions of civil rights, though they have become the nation's largest minority. The politics of race are still dominated by conversations about black-white relations, and blacks remain the gatekeepers of racial representation on school boards and in city halls. In Congress, African Americans have a caucus more than twice the size of the Hispanic delegation (43 to 21), even though they are a smaller percentage of the population.

One big reason Hispanic power has been slow in maturing is that most Hispanics do not identify themselves as such. Their group reference has tended to be to homelands -- Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic. And of course there are racial differences, especially between black and white Hispanics.

But that changed recently, with marches that drew hundreds of thousands and created coalitions across the lines of Hispanic national identity. People from disparate Hispanic nations coalesced around the debate on illegal immigration. It took a radical step by the House -- giving serious thought to dragnet arrests of all illegal immigrants and charging them with a felony -- to achieve this. To some, the level of hatred and racism against immigrants seemed to match that once directed against blacks in this country.

Indeed, this is the same dynamic that struck sparks in the 1950s and '60s and flared into the black civil rights movement. The Supreme Court's 1954 decision on school desegregation implied a movement toward racial equality throughout American society. In response, segregationists launched a campaign of "massive resistance" to integration. Initially, very young people took the lead in the civil rights protests, much as they have in the current immigration rallies.

The facts of relatively low unemployment and strong economic growth say that immigrants -- as innovators, business owners, workers and customers in the U.S. economy -- have a future here. And Hispanic voters have a future in American politics. President Bush arguably won reelection in 2004 because he pushed the level of support for a Republican presidential candidate to new heights among Hispanics.

The organized power of the Catholic Church, both as a force in American politics and as the heart of the "sanctuary movement," to protect illegal immigrants from abuse is analogous to the role the black church and its white allies played in the civil rights movement.

The power of organized labor is being revived by immigrants -- legal and illegal. Add to this the growing power of Hispanic media and one senses a gathering force that could produce a true civil rights movement for the 21st century. But not without resistance. Polls show that large numbers of Americans, white and black, want the current wave of immigration to slow and even stop. The numbers reveal a large element of xenophobia in the form of accusations that immigrants are taking low-wage jobs from native-born Americans. In fact, immigrants, legal and illegal, add to economic activity.

Sadly, anxiety over the increasing Hispanic population has caused some leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP to become tongue-tied on the subject. Privately, these members of Congress point to prison riots in California between blacks and Hispanics and turf fights between black and Hispanic high school students as evidence of rising tension between minority groups. There is a reluctance to counter this fear-mongering with a forward-looking vision of new coalitions among people of color. Instead there has been a lot of pandering to the worst instincts of people who often share with Hispanics the problems of bad schools, high incarceration rates and life at the bottom of the economic ladder.

Of course, the angriest voices are still heard on the far right, asking, "Whose country is this anyway?" and denouncing "amnesty" for immigrants. Sometimes it's a thin cover, with strong racial overtones, for opposing any rational approach to letting people who are already here, holding jobs and paying taxes, become legal. There may be short-term benefits to this sort of pandering, but, as has been shown before, it can come back to hurt politicians.

The real issue is whether America can come to terms with the reality of change. The next question is whether an activated Hispanic coalition can hold together on issues beyond the current fight over immigration reform. Imagine the power of Hispanics joined with other minorities to stand up for better schools and pressure politicians for national health care.

We've seen a movie a lot like this before -- about 50 years ago. It ended with a country being transformed by a movement that called for it to live up to its founding ideals of equal rights for all. Here's hoping for another happy ending.

Juan Williams is a senior correspondent for National Public Radio, a political analyst for Fox News and author of "Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965."

Lying and Cheating

Lying and Cheating By Jane Smiley. Copyright by The Huffington Post

It seems evident that Bush and Cheney lied and cheated so that they could attack Iraq. It seems that we can agree that Abramoff and DeLay controlled Congress through a mixture of bribes, lies, and cheats. Almost everyone agrees that Enron was busy cheating and defrauding the State of California in the 2001 energy crisis (and lying about it, and

my electric bill shows that I am still paying costs that Enron cheated me out of). Bush, who has had close ties to both Enron and Abramoff, has repeatedly lied about them. And, of course, the seminal example--many would say, and I am one of them, that the 2000 election was stolen by means of an elaborate cheat in Florida in the run-up to the election, followed by another cheat when members of the Supreme Court with open conflicts of interest stepped in to stop a recount that could have easily gone to Al Gore. Lots of lying, lots of cheating by the Republicans, and now their defense has shifted to two old stand-bys: that everyone does it, and/or it's necessary to lie and cheat to one's own people when the enemy is so dangerous (though Bush's and Cheney's actions don't clearly show who the dangerous enemy is--the terrorists? the Democrats? the citizenry?)
My grandmother once caught me cheating at cards. She said, "Cheaters never prosper". She didn't say that she was angry with me, or that I should be ashamed of myself, or I that I had sinned. Rather, she pointed out something that is objectively true about cheating, and so while the pundits debate about whether a consistent pattern of unrepentent lying and cheating is okay or not in the abstract, I think we should also notice where the lying and cheating has gotten this country. Yes, the Republicans have been caught and held to a (minimally) higher ethical standard, and yes, they clearly resent it. But what is the real price to be paid for a pattern of consistent lying? It is this: we are in deep trouble in Iraq, and with regard to the economy, and with regard to climate change, not because the Republicans have been caught by their fellow citizens, but because they have been caught by reality. Bush and Cheney can lie about Iraq day after day and week after week, and none of their lying changes the fact the the war has been a disaster, for the Iraqis, for the US Army, for the middle east, and for this nation. The same is true for the economy (though we might dodge that bullet), and the same is true for climate change. Bush and Cheney have lied and cheated about the science of climate change, and the climate has changed, anyway.

Anyone with common sense has to wonder about these people. Read my lips: there is a practical cost to lying and cheating and it is that liars and cheaters become deluded about what is really taking place and then are handicapped in their response to events. The Iraq war is not a disaster IN ADDITION to the fact that Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rice lied about it and cheated to get us into it, it is a disaster BECAUSE they lied about it and cheated to get us into it. Rumsfeld cheated by thinking he could go to war on the cheap because he had never been to war and didn't understand war. Rice cheated by using PR that she knew to be untrue, and now no one will ever believe her again. Even if she herself doesn't know it, she has become simply a laughingstock. It doesn't matter what she does now--her job is to have authority, and she surrendered it with that mushroom cloud remark. Bush and Cheney, it would seem, have lied and cheated every time they have opened their mouths, and everything that they have declared to be true has been shown to be untrue almost as soon as, if not before, they have said it. By pursuing policies and then lying about how the policies are working and then continuing to pursue them, they have actively created and accelerated the tragedy of Iraq, the potential tragedy of an economic collapse, and the tragedy of climate change.

The Republicans have endangered our democracy and our security by lying and cheating. Even if they had fooled us completely and never been caught or exposed, the illusions they created by lying and cheating would still be merely illusions, and would still cause havoc and destruction. Of course, we can and do feel insulted by their lying and cheating, since they have repeatedly transgressed basic morality, but over and above the insults are the injuries that they have caused. Pointless deaths, dismemberments, blindings, woundings, orphanings, widowings. Parents bereft of their children. Homelessness. Impoverishment. Infrastructure destruction. Sectarian hatred and violence. Scandalous waste of money and resources. Profoundly corrupt government in both Washington and Baghdad. Crippling of our army. The list, of course, goes on. The reason we expect our leaders to be straight with us is not only because we can handle the truth, but also because they can't handle the lies.

Second Urgent Appeal from The South Side Help Center in Chicago!!

Dear Trusted Friends, Supporters and Colleague:
I’m writing this letter to you not only as the Director of Development, but as a member of the community. Like you I’ve witnessed the devastation and wreckage HIV/AIDS has left and continues leaving in its trail. Besides, African Americans as a group continue being disproportionately represented in virtually every disease category.
In a time of shifting funding priorities and shrinking dollars for community based organizations, I’m appealing to your compassion and understanding to support the South Side Help Center with a $25, $50, $75 or $100 special monthly tax deductible donation for the next year. Your commitment will help sustain vital services to members of our community such as HIV/STD and Violence prevention, mentoring/counseling/after-school programs for youth, as well as health care services, including housing assistance and mental health counseling services.
The South Side Help Center, a 501 (c)(3) community based organization is the oldest African American owned and operated HIV/AIDS service provider in Chicago and probably in the Midwest. At a time when many in the African American community found refuge in believing HIV/AIDS was a white gay male disease, Mrs. Betty Smith, founder and Executive Director knew better. She witnessed first hand the alarming number of African American men particularly, dying of AIDS in virtual isolation and without social or spiritual support.
While we’ve come a long way since 1987 and garnered many awards in recognition for our work in supporting the community’s need and desire for healthier and safer living, at this present time we’re faced with financial challenges that if not addressed in the very near future could mean we would be forced to shut our doors permanently. The service gap would be enormous, but more devastating would be the number of African American men, women and youth left without the consistent support and friendship of the staff and board of this organization.
Please become one of our supporters with your special [tax deductible] monthly donation of $25, $50, $75 or $100 . In recognition and appreciation for your kind donation we will list you and/or your organization in our Annual Report, Newsletter and, press releases.
Disproportionate impact on Minorities

o According to the 2000 Census, African Americans make up 12.3% of the US population. However, they have accounted for 368,169 (40%) of the 929,985 estimated AIDS cases diagnosed since the epidemic began.
o In Chicago, people of color, who account for 47% of the City’s total population, account for 81% of recently diagnosed adult AIDS cases and 77% of recently diagnosed HIV cases.
o HIV/AIDS disproportionately impacts African-American women in Illinois. Roughly 66% of Illinois women living with HIV are African American, while African Americans only make up 15% of the Illinois
o African American account for 77% l Intravenous Drug Users (IDU) associated AIDS diagnosis in 2002-2003.

Impact on Youth
o African-American youth are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unintended pregnancy. Race and ethnicity are not risk factors but are risk markers that correlate with fundamental determinants of health such as poverty and limited access to quality health care.

o African Americans accounted for 58 percent of reported AIDS cases in Illinois adolescents ages 13 to 19.
o African Americans accounted for the highest number of reported cases for reportable STDs in Illinois adolescents ages 10 to 19.

As the above data indicates, we’re living in the midst of a health crisis that is rooted in multiple factors. The bottom line is however, that without adequate funding no one can do justice to implementation of effective interventions and the numbers will keep on rising!

Your contribution will give us the necessary support to maintain our current level of staffing and hopefully allow us to hire additional staff to meet the demands of this health crisis. Your support will also provide necessary operational funds to pay for things like: light, phone, copiers, paper, postage, insurance and other essentials.
Please become one of our supporters with your special [tax deductible] monthly donation of $25, $50, $75 or $100 and be one of our angels of hope.
Please make your checks payable to: South Side Help Center Mailing address: 10420 S. Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60628
If you wish to pay by credit card, please call us at (773) 445-5445, ext 19 and ask for Sylvia Cox.
Thank you for allowing me to share myself with you.
Victor R. Pond
Director of Development
South Side Help Center
10420 S. Halsted Street
Chicago, IL 60628
Phone: (773) 580-0963
Fax: (773) 445-9818

"Fear thou not for I'm with thee. Be not dismayed, for I'm thy God. I will strengthen thee; yea I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." Isaiah 41:10

Financial Times Editorial - Stick to diplomacy

Stick to diplomacy
Published: April 10 2006 03:00 | Last updated: April 10 2006 03:00. Copyroght by The Financial Times

At some point in the near futureZalmay Khalilzad, US ambassador in Baghdad, will meet Iranian diplomats to discuss stability in Iraq. Mr Khalilzad will studiously avoid discussing the issue that most threatens long-term peace in the Middle East - Iran's suspected nuclear weapons programme.

It is a sensible, although belated, step for Washington to engage Iran on Iraq if it is to have any chance of stemming the tide of increasingly vicious sectarianism. There can be little doubt that some of the Shiite militias in Iraq have received help from Tehran. Yet there can also be little doubt that Iran's game extends far beyond Iraq's troubled borders.

Ten days ago the United States and the other four permanent members of the UN security council agreed to a statement calling on Iran to put a halt to further uranium enrichment. Because of objections from Russia and China, it avoided reference to any consequences if Iran failed to comply within the 30 days it was given. It took Iran less than a day to dismiss it.

The next stage of diplomacy will be for the US - and its two security council allies, Britain and France - to push for a resolution that would threaten Iran with international sanctions. But unless Russia and China (which has been taking its cue from Moscow) can be persuaded to support the threat of sanctions, it stands little chance ofsuccess.

Last month diplomats in New York leaked a British proposal that would have offered Iran incentives - such as direct talks and possible civil nuclear assistance - to put an end to enrichment. These would be part of a broader package of strong disincentives for Iran to continue to ignore international opinion. The leak sank the initiative. It should be revived.

Of course there is still a chance this would be insufficient to persuade Russia to back a resolution that would emphasise the threat of sanctions. In which case, the US and its European allies would probably create a "coalition of the willing" to maintain pressure on Iran from outside the UN. But Iran could almost certainly live with a sanctions regime that did not include Russia and China, even assuming the Europeans could make such sanctions stick.

Meanwhile, since Washington continues to reject the merest hint of talking to Iran on anything other than Iraq, it should dig much deeper to find ways of bringing Russia on board. Russia might resist. And Iran may ultimately not prove susceptible to any diplomatic solution. But against the backdrop of a growing number of leaks - most recently in the New Yorker - on the Bush administration's plans for military strikes on Iran, failure to explore all the diplomatic options would drastically raise the probability of an eventual conflict. That would jeopardise any chance America has of restoring stability in Iraq.

The Credibility Gap

The Credibility Gap
Copyright by By Joel Peskoff

Three years later, two-thirds acknowledge the fool’s errand we launched. Yet, it isn’t just that Bush got it wrong; he was so confident that he lied, distorted and exaggerated to win the country’s consent. America will forgive a mistake. It will not forgive trickery.

Bush’s standing with the public has fallen because every aspect of trust has eroded.

The parody newspaper, the Onion, recently wrote a fictitious news story that started, “WASHINGTON, DC—Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Monday that escalating violence in Iraq demonstrates that the Iraqi population is now capable of waging the Iraq war without outside military aid, and pronounced the American mission there “a complete success.” What makes this satire especially funny is that such an inane statement from Rumsfeld is imaginable.

Mr. Bush and Vice President Cheney came into office and cracked down on leaks to the press. Yet, when it suited their political whim, they both personally authorized leaks of classified intelligence information about Iraq, according to testimony given by I. Lewis Libby before a federal grand jury. What makes this especially disturbing is that Bush told reporters in 2004, “If there’s a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is.” White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said in July 2005, “No one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the president of the United States.” McClellan didn’t tell us that getting to the bottom of it means exposing the man at the top who said that he wanted to get to the bottom of it.

Three years of repeated contradictions, distortions, and stonewalling from this Administration has worn-out public trustless. Etched in the public memory are the relentless (but discredited) recitations that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, an ongoing nuclear program and was complicit in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

It isn’t only the war; the pattern for this Administration in every aspect is to lie and bait-and-switch, in order to cement their plan. Such was the case with tax-cuts. When signing the first tax-cut, on June 7, 2001, Mr. Bush said, “Tax relief is an achievement for middle class families squeezed by high energy prices and credit card debt.” Now, the middle-class pays twice as much for energy and credit card debt is at record levels. The 2003 Bush tax-cuts were sold as “the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003.” Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors projected that from 2003-2004, the tax cuts would generate enough growth to add 300,000 jobs each month. Those job numbers didn’t surface but the real beneficiaries of those cuts has come to light. “An analysis of Internal Revenue Service data by The New York Times found that the benefit of the lower taxes “significantly lowered the tax burden on the richest Americans, reducing taxes on incomes of more than $10 million by an average of about $500,000… Americans with annual incomes of $1 million or more, about one-tenth of 1 percent all taxpayers, reaped 43 percent of all the savings on investment taxes in 2003.”

Wait, it gets worse, wages growth halted also. Another Times article reports, “the last few years have been bad ones for most people’s paychecks. The average hourly wage of rank-and-file workers — a group that makes up 80 percent of the work force — is slightly lower than it was four years ago, once inflation is taken into account. That’s right: Most Americans have taken a pay cut since 2002.”

Then there are the lies about lying. In Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address the president falsely asserted that Iraq procured high-strength aluminum tubes for future nuclear weapons. The White House shrugged off criticism as an honest mistake. Three years later we learn from the National Journal that according to government records and interviews, then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley specifically advised the President that the aluminum tubes might not be for nuclear weapons. An October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, specifically written for Bush concluded that “the tubes more likely are intended for conventional weapons.” It wasn’t an honest mistake after all. The purpose was to intentionally deceive America.

If that wasn’t enough, a newly acquired confidential memo written by David Manning, Mr. Blair’s top foreign policy adviser, about a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003 underscores official dishonesty. The record of the meeting concludes that although the President publicly stated that the administration was continuing to pursue a diplomatic solution in Iraq, Mr. Bush had already decided to invade. To restate, even though in March 2003 the President was giving Saddam public ‘last chance’ ultimatums, he already decided to attack two months earlier. Bush wasn’t truthful? (In the words of Iago [the sarcastic Parrot from Disney’s Aladdin,] “I think I'm gonna have a heart attack and die from surprise!”)

The New York Times article goes on to say, “The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was ‘unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups.’ Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.” Wow, did these guys get it wrong, or what?

On the topic of getting it wrong, who could forget former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz’s Senate testimony during the lead up to the war, when he said, Iraqi people would see the United States as their liberator and that Iraq could finance its own reconstruction. Further, Wolfowitz ridiculed Gen. Eric Shinseki’s estimate of several hundred thousand troops as “outlandish.” Hundreds of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars later we are still waiting for the rose pedal parade that he promised our troops. One couldn’t get it wronger than Wolfowitz.

One thing is getting it wrong; it’s quite another thing to just make up facts as one goes along. When it comes to making up facts, Dick Cheney is da man. Long after the CIA discredited the claim that Iraqi intelligence met with 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta in Prague Cheney repeatedly said that the meeting “was pretty much confirmed.” If that’s not enough, Cheney later denied it. Rumsfeld was caught on “Face the Nation” denying his “the threat was imminent” statement. Don’t they know about video tape?

In June 2005, Dick Cheney proclaimed that the insurgency is in its last throes and that he expects the military to be out of Iraq by the end of Bush’s term. Recently, his boss said that Iraq will be the next president’s problem. Well, it’s got to be one of those; it’s going to end before Bush leaves office or after he does.

Lyndon Johnson won re-election in a landslide but that landslide could not save him from a pessimistic electorate; pessimistic about a drawn out war that seemingly had no end. The public became distrustful of a leader whose rosy predictions never materialized. National Security Adviser, Walt W. Rostow, may have seen light at the end of the tunnel but the American public did not. Likewise, today’s public is skeptical of their president. They’re skeptical of a president who demands trust but repeatedly proves untrustworthy. They’re skeptical of an administration that governs by deceit.

Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” When the bombs and missiles started to fall on Baghdad, over three-quarters of the American people favored invasion. Three years later, two-thirds acknowledge the fool’s errand we launched. Yet, it isn’t just that Bush got it wrong; he was so confident that he lied, distorted and exaggerated to win the country’s consent. America will forgive a mistake. It will not forgive trickery.

President Bush’s approval ratings have fallen because Americans have (finally) awakened. What Bush’s critics have been warning since 2000, America has discovered anew. The latest Pew Research poll reveals that the most frequent word to describe our president is “incompetent” (29%) with “liar” at 17%. What some were ridiculed in 2000 for suggesting is now considered self-evident.

Joel Peskoff lives and works in New York. He can be reached at

The Gospel truth - The Gospel of Judas

The Gospel truth

Elaine Pagels. Copyright by The New York Times

MONDAY, APRIL 10, 2006

The Gospel of Judas, which remained virtually unknown to us from the time it was written 1,700 years ago until its publication last week, says that when Judas Iscariot handed Jesus over to the Romans, he was acting on orders from Jesus to carry out a sacred mystery for the sake of human salvation: "Jesus said to Judas, 'Look, you have been told everything. You will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.'"

For nearly 2,000 years, most people assumed that the only sources of tradition about Jesus and his disciples were the four gospels in the New Testament. But the unexpected discovery at Nag Hammadi in 1945 of more than 50 ancient Christian texts proved what church fathers said long ago: that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are only a small selection of gospels from among the dozens that circulated among early Christian groups. But now the Gospel of Judas - like the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene and many others - opens up new perspectives on familiar gospel stories.

Many scholars who first read these gospels had been taught that they were "heretical," which meant they were the wrong gospels. When I was introduced to them as a student, we called them "Gnostic" gospels, the name given to them nearly 2,000 years ago by Irenaeus, one of the fathers of the church, who denounced them as false and "heretical."

Yet those early Christians who loved and revered such texts did not think of themselves as heretics, but as Christians who had received not only what Jesus preached publicly, but also what he taught his disciples when they were talking privately. Many regarded these secret gospels not as radical alternatives to the New Testament Gospels, but as advanced-level teaching for those who had already received Jesus' basic message. Even the Gospel of Mark tells us that Jesus explained things to certain disciples in private.

If so, Jesus would have been doing what many other rabbis did then, and most teachers do today. Many of the gospels not included in the New Testament claim to offer secret teaching: Thus the Gospel of Thomas opens, "These are the secret words which the living Jesus spoke, and Didymus Judas Thomas wrote them down."

Irenaeus, however, insisted that Jesus did not teach any of his disciples secretly; such secret revelations, he said, were all illegitimate, and those who revered them heretics. Knowing many such gospels circulated among early Christian groups, Irenaeus wrote that "the heretics say that they have more gospels than there actually are; but really, they have no gospel that is not full of blasphemy."

Many of these secret writings, however, were still read and revered by Christians 200 years later when Bishop Athanasius of Alexandria, an admirer of Irenaeus, wrote an Easter letter to Christians in Egypt. He ordered them to reject what he called those "secret, illegitimate books" and keep only 27 approved ones. The 27 he named constitute the earliest known list of the New Testament canon, which Athanasius intended above all to be a guideline for books to be read publicly in church. The New Testament Gospels, which contain much that Jesus taught in public, were the most obvious books to put on that list. The secret books were not considered suitable for beginners.

What in the Gospel of Judas, published last week by the National Geographic Society (disclosure: I was a consultant on the project), goes back to Jesus' actual teaching, and how would we know? And what else was there in the early Christian movement that we had not known before? These are some of the difficult questions that the discoveries raise for us. What is clear is that the Gospel of Judas has joined the other spectacular discoveries that are exploding the myth of a monolithic Christianity and showing how diverse and fascinating the early Christian movement really was.

Startling as the Gospel of Judas sounds, it amplifies hints we have long read in the Gospels of Mark and John that Jesus knew and even instigated the events of his passion, seeing them as part of a divine plan. Those of us who go to church may find our Easter reflections more mysterious than ever.

(Elaine Pagels, the author of "The Gnostic Gospels" and "Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas," is a professor of religion at Princeton.)

New York Times Editorial - It's Bush's turn

It's Bush's turn

The New York Times

MONDAY, APRIL 10, 2006

If President George W. Bush wants serious immigration reform as badly as he says he does, he had better step up soon to get his party united behind him. Otherwise the best hope in a generation to fix the immigration system will end up as legislative road kill, steamrollered by partisanship and pecked at by crows cawing, "No amnesty!"

The bill that so badly needs rescuing was being hailed in the Senate only Thursday as a near-miracle of bipartisan good sense and good will. A gaggle of senators from both parties held a giddy news conference to announce a "huge breakthrough": a compromise on a vastly ambitious bill to tighten the borders, create a guest worker program, and open a path to citizenship for most of the up to 12 million illegal immigrants now in the United States.

Hours later, the deal was off the table, derailed by procedural bickering that went into the night and continued on Friday.
It was a crushing blow for those who had hoped for a workable immigration bill this year. Those who have been urging the comprehensive, tough-but-humane approach have been heartened as the chances for success seemed to grow stronger over many months.

As senators go home on recess, and immigrants and their allies ready for what are expected to be immense marches around the country on Monday, it now falls to Bush to keep the pressure on.

He has so far been the bearer of well-meaning mush, saying many right things about secure borders and guest workers and compassion, but with a calculated vagueness that is becoming maddening. He must insist that lawmakers get behind a comprehensive solution, and that filibusters and poisonous amendments not be allowed to crush the possibility of real reform.

Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?

Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?
by SEYMOUR M. HERSH. Copyright by The New Yorker Magazine
Issue of 2006-04-17
Posted 2006-04-10

The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium.
There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush's ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change.

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was "absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb" if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do "what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do," and "that saving Iran is going to be his legacy."

The real issue is who is going to control the Middle East and its oil in the next ten years."

The Administration's case against Iran is compromised by its history of promoting false intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. In a recent essay on the Foreign Policy Web site, entitled "Fool Me Twice," Joseph Cirincione, the director for nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote, "The unfolding administration strategy appears to be an effort to repeat its successful campaign for the Iraq war." He noted several parallels:
The vice president of the United States gives a major speech focused on the threat from an oil-rich nation in the Middle East. The US Secretary of State tells Congress that the same nation is our most serious global challenge. The Secretary of Defense calls that nation the leading supporter of global terrorism.
Cirincione called some of the Administration's claims about Iran "questionable" or lacking in evidence.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Iraqi women: Confused, maybe, but clear nevertheless

Iraqi women: Confused, maybe, but clear nevertheless

Dear Reader of From Where I Stand,

By Joan Chittister, OSB. Copyright by Benetvision

There is such a thing as being too “American,” too sure of how easy it is to be part of a democratic society. I proved it to myself last week.

The Women’s Global Peace Initiative, the U.N. partnership organization of which I am a member, met in New York City for the first of what is intended to be a series of conferences between Iraqi and American women. The hope is to be able to create alliances between U.S. and Iraqi women in order to respond as women to the circumstances in Iraq together while the politicians go on doing political things and the military goes on shooting. But don’t be misled by the word “conference.” This was not a conversation ala U.S.A.

This was, in part, a shouting match. It was, furthermore, always a confusion of positions. The Iraqi delegates contradicted themselves and argued with one another at the same time. There were, we discovered, as many Iraqs in the room as there were Iraqis.

Someplace along the way, I began to realize that if there were ever a metaphor for what is really going on in Iraq, this firestorm of shouting, accusing, pleading, gratitude, threats and resentment had to be it.

It was an exercise in democracy for people who are just learning what democracy means -- and do not like all of its implications or understand all of its demands.

“Maelstrom” is too mild a word for what happened in the session -- and yet, in the end, there was no doubt that what is really going on in Iraq became far clearer in this room than it was in the morning papers.

The delegation itself posed a problem. Of the 40 Iraqi names forwarded to the U.S. State Department for approval, only 17 were finally issued visas. The remaining representatives to the 24-member delegation were Iraqi-Americans who are more or less involved in the present situation either from afar or as periodic on-site consultants. As a result, the hundred or more U.S. participants in the conference heard from a number of women involved in the new government but heard very little from women who were not speaking in some official or civil capacity. We heard about the problems facing the country but we did not hear from internal refugees, for instance, of from those who are unemployed, homeless or wounded.

But even at that, the information was chilling. After years and years of sanctions and more years of war, Iraq is a hobbled country.

Thousands and thousands of Iraqis have died in this war or as a result of this war.

Electricity is lacking.

Water systems are polluted and unsafe.

Medical services are limited.

Therapeutic drugs and chemotherapy are unavailable.

Unemployment is over 50 percent.

The list is legion. Every area of life has been affected, limited, or destroyed.

But most severe of all, underlying all other problems, central to the breakdown of society in Iraq is, ironically, the breakdown in security. Regardless of the fact that there are 130,000 U.S. soldiers in the territory, the women say, no one is safe on the streets.

Despite the careful coaching of a U.S. State Department official overheard telling the Iraqi women that they should be careful to call the U.S. invasion of Iraq “liberation” -- not “occupation” -- the tensions about the U.S. presence in Iraq erupted from the delegation over and over again.

Lawlessness has broken out. Civil stability is at an all-time low. Civilians fear being shot by nervous U.S. soldiers who are operating checkpoints but not policing the streets or guarding the Iraqi borders. “You completely disbanded our million-man army and left us powerless and vulnerable. You didn’t even do that in Kosovo or Japan,” another delegate said.

“Your government is running our government,” a third woman told us. “We are not free and independent.”

“You removed the One Dictator,” one woman said, “but now you have left us with many” -- meaning no one is in charge and everyone is in charge at the same time.

And yet, at the same time, even though the U.S. military is acting neither as border guards nor as police, they pleaded for American troops to stay. Otherwise, they say, they will simply be prey. To whom? To everyone. Border nations, insurgents, al- Queda. Everyone.

And while they pleaded for help, they argued with one another about just how bad was bad and how liberating the liberation had really been. “The tyrant is gone,” some said. But others said, “You had no plan. That’s why all this has happened.”

“Mission accomplished” the president called it?

It sounded more like “Mission not yet begun” to me. “You destroyed the country,” one woman said; “you should fix it.”

But there is another side of the issue, too. What will be the final effect of all of this on the United States itself?

More national debt, of course.

More political bitterness, for sure.

More electoral spin, for certain. U.S. political candidates claim victory and Iraq teeters on the edge of total collapse.

So what will be the end of all these war games?

While the Iraqis are struggling to learn how to talk without screaming at one another as they did in New York, we will find ourselves consumed by the political realities of our own election.

While the Iraqis try to understand that democracy does not mean the consent of the majority to repress minority opinions or experiences, as some of these women attempted to do to other women in the meeting in New York, we will be trying to chart our own future regardless of theirs.

While the Iraqis are learning that the democratic process is meant to gather all the ideas of a group and then test each of them for their wisdom and their justice rather than silence any of them, we will be trying to decide ourselves what direction we want for our own country.

In the midst of it, I figure, someone somewhere will suddenly decide on election eve that if it’s not “mission accomplished,” it had better be “mission aborted.” The troops, like the Iranian embassy hostages in 1981, will suddenly be brought home. Iraqi women will be left to find their own way through the dangerous streets. The United States will be neither a protective military presence there nor a needed humanitarian presence.

From where I stand, I figure I have just heard what the Iraqi women will call that. Some will call it “abandonment;” others will call it “independence”; all of them will call it “a disaster” if we don’t somehow save them from what we saved them from -- and soon.

Four major themes emerged in the conversation: security, children, women and civil society. I will be telling you what they said about each of the other three in the weeks to come.

Comments or questions about this column may be sent to: Sr. Joan Chittister, c/o NCR web coordinator. Put "Chittister" in the subject line. E-mails with attachments are automatically deleted.
For information about Sr. Chittister's other work visit her publisher: Benetvision.

All leaks not created equal, White House insists

All leaks not created equal, White House insists

By David Stout. Copyright by The New York Times


The White House tried Friday to quell the furor over the leaking of sensitive prewar intelligence on Iraq, as President George W. Bush's spokesman insisted that any release of information had been "in the public interest" rather than for political reasons.

The spokesman, Scott McClellan, said a decision had been made to declassify and release some information to rebut "irresponsible and unfounded accusations" that the administration had manipulated or misused prewar intelligence to buttress its case for war. "That was flat-out false," McClellan said.

McClellan was barraged at a news briefing by questions about assertions by I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby has reportedly said that Bush, through Cheney, authorized him in July 2003 to disclose important parts of what was until then a classified prewar intelligence estimate on Iraq.

At the time, the Pentagon had hardly finished basking in the easy initial military victory in Iraq when it was caught up in questions over the failure to find "weapons of mass destruction" there - the main rationale for going to war. One of the findings in the prewar data was that Saddam Hussein was probably seeking fuel for nuclear reactors.

McClellan said the Democrats who had pounced on Libby's assertions, contained in a court document filed Wednesday, were "engaging in crass politics" in refusing to recognize the distinction between legitimate disclosure of information in the public interest and irresponsible leaking for political reasons.

Democrats continued to assail the administration Friday. "This is a serious allegation with national security consequences," Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader, said on the Senate floor. "It directly contradicts previous statements made by President Bush, it continues a pattern of misleading by this Bush White House and it raises somber and troubling questions about the Bush administration's candor with the Congress and the public."

Reid said it was time for Bush to say whether, in fact, he had authorized the disclosure of the prewar intelligence, as Libby said he had. "He must tell the American people whether the Bush Oval Office is the place where the buck stops, or the leaks start," Reid said.

McClellan was in the somewhat odd position of not disputing that Bush had been involved in the disclosure of hitherto classified information, while describing any such disclosure as being in the public good. He has said before that a president has the authority to declassify intelligence, and said Friday that he was "not getting into confirming or denying things, because I'm not commenting at all on matters relating to an ongoing legal proceeding."

He was alluding to the trial of Libby on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in connection with an inquiry over who unmasked Valerie Plame Wilson, an undercover officer for the CIA, in the summer of 2003.

The unmasking occurred after her husband, the former diplomat Joseph Wilson, wrote in The New York Times that he doubted reports that Iraq was trying to obtain uranium from Niger.

Not at all, McClellan said. "Declassifying information and providing it to the public when it is in the public interest is one thing," he said. "But leaking classified information that could compromise our national security is something that is very serious. And there is a distinction" - a distinction Democrats refuse to see, he said repeatedly.

Friday, April 07, 2006

New York Times Editorial - The wiretap debate

The wiretap debate

Copyright by The New York Times


The U.S. Congress seems to lack the backbone to stop President George W. Bush from authorizing wiretaps without court orders, and censuring him would probably not do much to make him follow the law. What could make a real difference would be a Supreme Court ruling that found his domestic surveillance program illegal.

A recently introduced bill would provide a good way to resolve the matter: putting the National Security Agency's secret spying program on a fast track to Supreme Court review.

Under the bill, introduced by Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, people who suspect that they are being subjected to warrantless electronic surveillance could challenge the spying in court. The bill would give people who communicate regularly with people in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, including academics and journalists, standing to sue if they are refraining from communicating out of fear that the government is illegally listening.

The challenges would begin in a special three-judge court, then go on a fast track to the Supreme Court. The courts are in a better position than Congress to take on this issue. Under its current leadership, Congress has failed to investigate the domestic spying program seriously or to pass the legislation that is needed to rein it in.

Even if Congress did pass strong legislation, there is a good chance that Bush, who has a sweeping - and unjustified - view of presidential power, would ignore it. If the Supreme Court told him to stop breaking the law, however, it would be difficult for him to defy its order.

Getting the courts involved would elevate the domestic spying debate from the level at which it has languished in Congress - where defenders of the program have been quick to charge critics with being politically motivated and unpatriotic. A ruling from the Supreme Court would keep the focus where it should be, on the law and the serious civil liberties issues presented by Bush's domestic espionage.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tips for Handling Telemarketers by Andy Rooney

Tips for Handling Telemarketers

Three Little Words That Work !!

(1)The three little words are: "Hold On, Please..."

Saying this, while putting down your phone and walking off (instead of hanging-up immediately) would make each telemarketing call so much more time-consuming that boiler room sales would grind to a halt .

Then when you eventually hear the phone company's "beep-beep-beep" tone, you know it's time to go back and hang up your handset, which has efficiently completed its task.

These three little words will help eliminate telephone soliciting.

(2) Do you ever get those annoying phone calls with no one on the other

This is a telemarketing technique where a machine makes phone calls and records the time of day when a person answers the phone.

This technique is used to determine the best time of day for a "real" sales person to call back and get someone at home .

What you can do after answering, if you notice there is no one there, is to immediately start hitting your # button on the phone, 6 or 7 times, as quickly as possible This confuses the machine that dialed the call and it kicks your number out of their system. Gosh, what a shame not to have your name in their system any longer !!!

(3) Junk Mail Help:
When you get "ads" enclosed with your phone or utility bill, return these "ads" with your payment. Let the sending companies throw their own junk mail away.

When you get those "pre-approved" letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to 2nd mortgages and similar type junk, do not throw away the return envelope.

Most of these come with postage-paid return envelopes, right? It costs them more than the regular 37 cents postage "IF" and when they receive them back.

It costs them nothing if you throw them away! The postage was around 50 cents before the last increase and it is according to the weight. In that case, why not get rid of some of your other junk mail and put it in these cool little, postage-paid return envelopes.

One of Andy Rooney's (60 minutes) ideas.

Send an ad for your local chimney cleaner to American Express. Send a pizza coupon to Citibank. If you didn't get anything else that day, then just send them their blank application back! If you want to remain anonymous, just make sure your name isn't on anything you send them.

You can even send the envelope back empty if you want to just to keep them guessing! It still costs them 37 cents.

The BIG Credit Card Banks and credit card companies are currently getting a lot of their own junk back in the mail, but folks, we need to OVERWHELM them. Let's let them know what it's like to get lots of junk mail, and best of all they're paying for it...Twice!

Let's help keep our postal service busy since they are saying that e-mail is cutting into their business profits, and that's why they need to increase postage costs again. You get the idea !

If enough people follow these tips, it will work ---- I have been doing this for years, and I get very little junk mail anymore.


In Court Filings, Cheney Aide Says Bush Approved Leak

In Court Filings, Cheney Aide Says Bush Approved Leak

Published: April 6, 2006. Copyright by The New York times
WASHINGTON, April 6 — President Bush authorized Vice President Dick Cheney in July 2003 to permit Mr. Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr., to leak key portions of a classified prewar intelligence estimate on Iraq, according to Mr. Libby's grand jury testimony.

If Mr. Libby's account is accurate, it also involves Mr. Bush directly in the swirl of events surrounding the disclosure of the identity of an undercover C.I.A. officer.

The president has the legal power to declassify information, and Mr. Libby indicated in his testimony that the president's decision — which he said was conveyed through Mr. Cheney — gave him legal cover to pass on information contained in a National Intelligence Estimate.

A little more than a week later, under continuing pressure, the White House published a declassified version of the executive summary of the estimate, in an effort to make the case that Mr. Bush was justified in arguing, in his 2003 State of the Union address, that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium in Africa.

But the political impact of the disclosure could be significant. It suggests that Mr. Libby, who has been charged with perjury and obstruction in the C.I.A. leak case, may argue as part of his defense that any information he leaked was on the instructions of his two superiors, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush. However, the sections of the N.I.E. that Mr. Libby said he was freed to discuss make no mention of Valerie Plame, the C.I.A. officer who was exposed in the course of the arguments over the intelligence, prompting the leak investigation.

The disclosure prompted Democrats to demand that the White House be forthcoming about Mr. Bush's role. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, released a statement saying: "In light of today's shocking revelation, President Bush must fully disclose his participation in the selective leaking of classified information. The American people must know the truth."

The court filing, which was first reported this morning on the New York Sun Web site, said that Mr. Libby testified that the "Vice President advised defendant that the President had authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the NIE."

The prosecutors said that Mr. Libby testified that he recalled the circumstances "getting approval from the President through the Vice President to discuss material that would be classified but for that approval — were unique in his recollection."

The leak was intended, the court papers suggested, as a rebuttal to the Op-Ed article published in the New York Times on July 6, by Joseph C. Wilson, IV, a former ambassador and the husband of Ms. Plame. Mr. Wilson wrote that he had traveled to Africa in 2002 after Mr. Cheney had raised questions about possible nuclear purchases. Mr. Wilson wrote that he concluded it was "highly doubtful" Iraq had sought to nuclear fuel from Niger.

At Mr. Cheney's office, the Op-Ed article was viewed "as a direct attack on credibility of the Vice President (and the President) on a matter of signal importance: the rationale for the war in Iraq," according to the court papers.

The presidential authorization was provided, the court papers said, in advance of a meeting on July 8, 2003 between Mr. Libby and Judith Miller, then a reporter for the New York Times. Mr. Libby brought a brief abstract of the N.I.E.'s key judgments to the meeting with Ms. Miller in the lobby of the St. Regis Hotel about two blocks from the White House.

Mr. Libby testified, the prosecutors said, that he was "specifically authorized in advance of the meeting to disclose the key judgments of the classified N.I.E. to Miller on that occasion because it was thought that the N.I.E. was "pretty definitive" against what Ambassador Wilson had said and that the Vice President thought that it was "very important" for the key judgments of the N.I.E. to come out."

The court filing said that Mr. Libby said "he understood that he was to tell Miller, among other things, that a key judgment of the N.I.E. held that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium." Mr. Libby, the prosecutors, said, testified that the meeting with Ms. Miller was the "only time he recalled in his government experience when he disclosed a document to a reporter that was effectively declassified by virtue of the president's authorization that it be disclosed."

Ms. Miller never published anything about the contents of the intelligence estimate.

Mr. Libby testified that he first told Mr. Cheney that he could not conduct such a conversation with Ms. Miller because the intelligence estimate on Iraq was classified. Mr. Libby testified that Mr. Cheney later told him that Mr. Bush had authorized the release of "relevant portions."

In addition, Mr. Libby told the grand jury that he also spoke with David Addington, then a lawyer for Mr. Cheney, whom Mr. Libby regarded as an expert on national security law. "Mr. Addington opined that Presidential authorization to publicly disclose a document amounted to declassification of the document," the court filing said.

Mr. Libby testified that at the meeting, he did not discuss Mr. Wilson's wife, because "he had forgotten by that time that he learned about Ms. Wilson's C.I.A. employment a month earlier from the Vice President."

Ms. Miller, in her Oct. 16, 2005, account of the meeting, said that her notes showed that the two had discussed Mr. Wilson's wife, who, according to her notes, worked in a unit of the C.I.A. that is engaged in the intelligence assessments of unconventional weapons.

Ms. Miller said that Mr. Libby discussed a chronology of what she said he described as "credible evidence" of Iraq's efforts to acquire uranium. She made no reference to whether Mr. Libby referred to any material as derived from the intelligence estimate, but said that he alluded to two reports, one in 1999 and another in 2002, that seemed to support the contention that Iraq was interested in obtaining uranium.

Secure Gay Rights Before Extending Rights of the Undocumented

I'm including this for your perusal. As we forge ahead, it's useful to think about how we might counter these kinds of either/or arguments which are inevitable and sometimes only simmer below the surface of the immigration debates. At least this is out in the open. This may not be a typical response but it's one that we should think of addressing without apology.

Secure Gay Rights Before Extending Rights of the Undocumented

New America Media, Commentary, Jasmyne Cannick, Apr 04, 2006. Copyright © Pacific News Service

Editor's Note: When American citizens, particularly lesbians and gays, haven't received their full civil rights, why is Congress considering extending more rights to illegal immigrants? Jasmyne Cannick is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. She can be reached via her Web site,

LOS ANGELES--Immigration reform is an important issue, but it's not the next civil rights movement. We haven't even finished with our current civil rights movement.

Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts got it right when he said, "There is no moving to the front of the line."

Immigration reform needs to get in line behind the gay civil rights movement. Discrimination and unequal treatment of gay Americans has not yet been resolved.

I recognize the plight of illegal immigrants. However, I didn't break the law to come into this country. The country has broken its own laws by not recognizing and bestowing upon me my full rights as a citizen. I find it hard as a black lesbian to jump on the immigration reform bandwagon when my own bandwagon hasn't even left the barn.

Legal American citizens continue to be denied the right to marry because of their sexual orientation, while their families are deprived of access to the more than 1,138 federal rights, protections and responsibilities automatically granted to married heterosexual couples.

If we're going to hold 24-hour Senate sessions using taxpayer dollars, let those sessions be used to come up with a comprehensive plan that allows America's same-gender loving stakeholders to have the opportunity to have the right to make decisions on a partner's behalf in a medical emergency, or the right to receive family-related Social Security benefits.

But immigration reform dominates in Washington. President Bush wants a comprehensive guest worker program for undocumented laborers.

With all due respect, Mr. President, there should be no guest worker program until we ensure that all lesbian and gay American citizens have the right to take up to 12 weeks of leave to care for a seriously ill partner or parent of a partner, and the right to purchase continued health coverage for a domestic partner after the loss of a job.

Both Sen. Kennedy and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas backed away from requiring that guest workers leave the United States after their initial two-year visa expired. The congressmen wanted to keep immigrant families from being separated.

Well, what about making sure that the children of same-sex couples are protected and not separated from the parent they know and love in the event of an untimely death? Same-sex couples make commitments and form families just like heterosexual couples, and they need the same protections.

Lesbians and gays are not second-class citizens. Our issues should not get bumped to the back of the line in favor of extending rights to people who have entered this country illegally.

Author and poet Audre Lorde once said, "I have come to believe over and over again, that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood."

While I know no one wants to be viewed as a racist when it comes to immigration reform, as a lesbian I don't want to move to the back of the bus to accommodate those who broke the law to be here. Immigrants aren't the only ones who want a shot at the American dream.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Fight bigotry against immigrants

Fight bigotry against immigrants
by Carlos T Mock, MD
Published as a Letter to the Editor Chicago Free Press April 5, 2006

As a Latino living in Chicago, I find the current immigration crisis quite distressing. It is as if we as a nation have not learned from our past mistakes.

The Europeans came to this country escaping persecution. As soon as they set a foot on the New World, they introduced killer diseases to the indigenous population and cheated them of their land. With the slogan of “eminent domain,” they expanded from the Atlantic to the Pacific, buying, stealing and fighting wars to get more territory.

The Irish Potato Famine in 1846-1850 was the first grand-scale immigration problem to the new republic. Starving families that could not pay their landlords faced no alternative but to leave their country in hopes of a better future. Thus, the steady flow of Irish who entered the U.S. between 1820 and 1830 skyrocketed in the 1840s. Nearly 2 million came in that decade. The trend persisted for another five years, as the first immigrants began to earn the means of sending for relatives and friends. Many Americans during this time held the view that Irish-Americans were dirty, lazy and stupid. They were credited for the economic problems and the degradation of American society.

Discrimination did not stop with the Irish. As they were being assimilated into our society, we fought a Civil War to free slaves, yet it was not until the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s that the African American population gained some basic rights. Many Americans during this time held the view that African Americans were dirty, lazy and stupid. They were credited for the economic problems and the degradation of American society.

Today, the plight is with the Latino. We have approximately 12-million undocumented workers in our country (primarily Latino), and we do not know what to do with them. Many Americans today hold the view that Latinos are dirty, lazy and stupid. They are credited for the economic problems and the degradation of American society. Bigotry this time requires that we build a wall to keep our neighbors to the south from entering our country.

Behind these new issues of immigration, we also have the plight of the LGBT community. We have Juana Ortiz (not her real name) who works 12-hour shifts at a sweatshop. She met Mariana at work. Soon they started spending all their time together. A romance grew. They each had one child from a previous marriage. Both children were born in the USA.

Mariana was deported one day from the workshop (luckily Juana called in sick that day). Juana now has to care for both of the children. Meanwhile, Mariana is trying desperately to reunite with her family. At the same time that Mariana exhausts all the legal ways to enter the U.S., she is raising money to be smuggled into this country. Mariana has not seen her family in five years. Juana is afraid to go visit her girlfriend because if she leaves the country, she will not be able to return. Juana lives in fear. Fear of losing her children if she’s caught, fear for her partner, fear for her children who have lost one mother already and could easily lose the second one.

Within the next two weeks, the Senate will decide the fate of tough legislation aimed at restricting illegal immigration. I say that Juana Ortiz and Mariana Rivera are not dirty, lazy or stupid. They are not the cause of the economic problems and the degradation of American society. It is up to the U.S. Senate now to make sure that true American families get a chance to realize the American dream. Please write them and let them know.

Immigration bill won’t help gay, lesbian couples

Immigration bill won’t help gay, lesbian couples

By Louis Weisberg
Copyright by The Chicago Free Press

National GLBT rights groups praised the Senate version of an immigration bill last week, despite the legislation’s failure to grant legal status to the undocumented partners of gay and lesbian U.S. citizens.

“The (Senate) bill is good news for America,” said Immigration Equality executive director Rachel B. Tiven, “but lesbian and gay families are still cruelly discriminated against under immigration law, despite Congress’ promise to value families.”

Matt Forman, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said the Senate measure is a welcome alternative to a bill passed by the House last year that would make it a felony to aid illegal immigrants. The House version is so far-reaching that it would erect fences along one-third of the Mexican border and criminalize charitable groups that provide food and shelter to illegal aliens.

In contrast, the Senate bill includes an amendment protecting groups and individuals from being prosecuted for knowingly or unknowingly assisting illegal immigrants. It would also provide visas to undocumented workers that would enable them to work for up to six years. After that, they would become eligible to apply for permanent residency.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the legislation, crafted by Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), by a 12 6 vote, with all committee Democrats voting in favor. It next goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Since same-sex couples cannot legally marry, GLBT leaders say the House bill would be particularly unfair to gays and lesbians who are in relationships with undocumented immigrants or people in the country on expired visas. “Nobody should be forced to choose between the person they love and breaking the law,” said Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese. “The House version would force a same-sex partner to turn in their loved one or risk criminal penalties. American families are being torn apart under the current structure and there is absolutely no reason to increase their burden.”

GOP House leaders reacted quickly and harshly last week against the Senate bill, saying it would leave the nation’s borders more vulnerable to terrorists. Washington pundits predicted an ugly showdown over the issue that could cost Republicans the political inroads they’ve made among conservative Hispanic voters under President Bush. The White House favors the Senate bill.

Thousands of opponents of the House bill protested in the streets of Los Angeles, Phoenix, Atlanta and other cities last week. A single demonstration in Phoenix drew over 20,000 participants, making it one of the largest ever there, according to local officials.

Several civic groups are organizing the Day Without Immigrants, a work stoppage and boycott on April 10 to protest the House bill. Supporters are asked to dress in white, wear white ribbons, boycott public transportation, stay home from work and make no purchases on that day.

Orgullo en Accion, a local group of GLBT Latino/as working for immigrant rights, is urging the larger GLBT community to unite with them in supporting the boycott. “We believe this proposed (House) legislation is racist, misguided, and insulting to the people who have contributed so much to this country,” the group said in a prepared statement. “We at Orgullo En Accion support the Day Without Immigrants boycott because we both believe in and value the rights and lives of immigrants.”

Financial Times Editorial - DeLay quits Congress but his soul lives on

DeLay quits Congress but his soul lives on
Published: April 5 2006 03:00 | Last updated: April 5 2006 03:00. Copyright by The Financial Times

It would be tempting to herald theresignation of Tom DeLay - former majority leader in the US House of Representatives - as the end of an era. Tempting, but premature. Mr DeLay, who was indicted last September on election-related money laundering charges, was a friend of Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist, who was last week sentenced to almost six years in prison for fraud and corruption.

Mr DeLay rose to prominence in 1994 in tandem with Newt Gingrich, the former speaker, when the Republicans took control of both houses for the first time in a generation. Brandishing his "Contract with America" Mr Gingrich promised to put an end to the era of big government and to cut back drastically on the thicket of federal regulations. It was a radical new dawn for American conservatism.

With less fanfare, Mr DeLay launched the "K Street Project" that sought to persuade, flatter and cajole Washington's lobby groups into the Republican camp. Mr Gingrich was outfoxed in a budget battle with president Bill Clinton in 1995 and his Republican Revolution lost steam. Mr DeLay, meanwhile, went from strength to strength. More than a decade later, it is evident which of the two men had a more lasting influence on the workings of America's federal government.

Since 1994 the number of lobby groups registered in Washington has risen almost fourfold to 36,000. The cost of "earmarks", by which lawmakers insert unrelated special interest subsidies into broader spending bills, skyrocketed to $62bn last year. And America's tax system has gone from thicket to forest. According to the Cato Institute, the number of pages of federal tax rules rose from 40,500 in 1995 to 66,498 this year. During a Republican-dominated era, the annual cost to taxpayers of complying with the tax code has more than doubled to $265bn.

Mr DeLay's K Street project bears much of the blame for the deterioration in the quality of legislation. That decline was also in evidence last week when the senate passed a heavily diluted version of plans to curtail the influence of lobby groups. It cut from $50 to $20 the cost of meals lawmakers can accept from lobbyists. But it left untouched the frequent "study trips" in which lobbyists fund the travels of lawmakers to plush resorts in exotic locations. Among the lobbyists breathing a sigh of relief last week were 29 former DeLay staff employees. Two others, including Mr Delay's former deputy chief of staff, have been indicted on corruption charges.

Meanwhile, John Boehner, who replaced Mr DeLay as majority leader, yesterday praised his predecessor's "integrity and honour". Mr Boehner came to the job promising to put an end to sleaze, in spite of having been caught distributing campaign checks from the tobacco industry on the house floor in 1995. Mr DeLay is quitting Congress. But his soul is marching on.

Financial Times Editorial - Tackling America's growing inequality

Tackling America's growing inequality
Published: April 6 2006 03:00 | Last updated: April 6 2006 03:00. Copyright by The Financial Times

That George W. Bush has so far had difficulty persuading any prominent Wall Street Republican to replace John Snow as treasury secretary speaks volumes about the low priority his administration has accorded to economic decision-making.

Given the continued absence of credible economic leadership in Washington, it is unsurprising - but troubling - that both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have recently been tempted to fill the gap with populism. In that context, we welcome the launch yesterday by the Brookings Institution of a new platform - the Hamilton Project, named after America's first Treasury Secretary - to address America's looming economic challenges. Although composed mostly of Democrats, the group states a clear preference for market-based solutions to America's problems. It rejects the latent signs of protectionism recently visible on Capitol Hill. But it makes a strong case for the state to play a more constructive role both in improving the efficiency of America's market economy, but also in addressing the growing inequity of market outcomes.

Most important, it addresses the potentially dangerous impact that America's virtually stagnant median wage could have on the country's political mood and on the workings of the economy. Since 1973, the income of the top 10 per cent of American earners has grown by 111 per cent, while the income of the middle fifth has grown by only 15 per cent. That trend has become more pronounced in the last few years. Between 1998 and 2004, the median income of American households fell by 3.8 per cent. This coincided with annual productivity growth in excess of 3 per cent in most of those years. You do not need to take a definitive stance on why America's high productivity growth has been so disproportionately captured by a small percentage of Americans to agree that it makes for a potentially volatile political scenario. Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve and a Republican, has made the same point in public.

There is room for more scepticism about the group's argument that growing income inequality harms economic growth. There is some evidence that the growing volatility of American incomes feeds into a culture of risk aversion, which in turn reduces the creation of small businesses. There are also grounds for believing that a stronger personal bankruptcy law would enhance risk-taking, which would lift America's economic growth. But the jury is still out on the question of whether growing inequity necessarily leads to lower growth.

Yet it would be hard to dispute the recommendation that America should boost investment in the skills of its workforce, both through better technical training and improving the underperforming public school system. Likewise, we strongly agree with the view that the US needs to return to the path of fiscal discipline from which Mr Bush has strayed, even if the group ducked the question of how it would reform America's entitlement system. Reducing the cost of Medicare and Medicaid is America's most important long-term fiscal challenge. It is also critical to reverse Mr Bush's tax cuts.

At a time of economic demagoguery on Capitol Hill and a vacuum of leadership in the White House it is refreshing that rational voices are addressing America's core economic challenges. Many of the policy details are awaited. But the diagnosis is persuasive.

Prof's overpopulation remedy ignites furor (HIV not killing fast enough)

Prof's overpopulation remedy ignites furor

April 5, 2006

BY LIZ AUSTIN. Copyright by the Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas -- Talk radio and blogs are taking aim at a University of Texas biology professor because of a published report suggesting he advocates death for most of the human population as a means of saving the Earth.

However, Eric Pianka says his remarks about his beliefs were taken out of context, that he was just raising a warning that deadly disease epidemics are a threat if population growth isn't contained.

''What we really need to do is start thinking about controlling our population before it's too late,'' he said Monday. ''It's already too late, but we're not even thinking about it. We're just mindlessly rushing ahead breeding our brains out.''

Pianka, who has gotten vitriolic e-mails and even a death threat, said he believes the Earth would be better off if there were fewer people using up natural resources and destroying habitats.

The furor began when the Gazette-Enterprise of Seguin, Texas, reported Sunday on two speeches Pianka made last month to groups of scientists and students about vanishing animal habitats and the exploding human population.

That report was circulated widely and posted on the Drudge Report, then quickly became talk radio fodder.

The Gazette-Enterprise quoted Pianka as saying disease ''will control the scourge of humanity. We're looking forward to a huge collapse.''

It said he weighed the killing power of various diseases such as bird flu and HIV, but decided neither would yield the needed results.

''HIV is too slow. It's no good,'' he said.

Pianka said that doesn't mean he wants most humans to die.

However, Forrest Mims, chairman of the Texas Academy of Science's environmental science section, told the Associated Press that there was no mistaking Pianka's disdain for humans and desire for their elimination in the speech he heard.

Couric leaving 'Today' show

Couric leaving 'Today' show

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

April 5, 2006


NEW YORK-- Now that Katie Couric is making the move from dawn to dusk, her legacy-- and the future of CBS News-- depends on the audience. And according to a new poll, that audience prefers to see her in the morning.

Asked if they would rather see Couric in her longtime role as "Today" host or as the first woman to anchor a network weekday evening newscast on her own, 49 percent favored the morning and 29 percent said evening, according to a poll conducted this week by The Associated Press and TV Guide.

After 15 years as morning television's queen, Couric confirmed Wednesday that she is leaving NBC's "Today" show to become anchor and managing editor of the "CBS Evening News" this fall. Her audience at "Today" is about 6 million viewers; "CBS Evening News" has about 7.5 million.

Why would Couric leave a higher-rated program to earn $1 million less for an audience that is trending down (and older)? It probably has something to do with not having to get up at 3 a.m. to juggle -- for two hours, live -- the goofy mix of serious and shallow on "Today."

The woman who dressed in Marilyn Monroe and SpongeBob SquarePants outfits on Halloween and gave viewers a tour of her colon will take the position once held by the iconic Walter Cronkite and the ousted Dan Rather.

But claims that Couric lacks the "gravitas" for the job are "thinly disguised sexism," said news consultant Andrew Tyndall.

Few questioned Tom Brokaw when he switched from a "Today" host in the 1970s to become NBC top anchor. At ABC, Charles Gibson frequently did the morning and evening newscasts on the same day this past year during the late Peter Jennings' illness.

"I think her strengths"-- three hours a day of live broadcasting covering a wide swath of topics-- "will evolve and magnify to fit the task," said Frank Sesno, a journalism professor at George Mason University and special CNN correspondent.

"Sometimes I think change is a good thing," Couric said on "Today." "Although it may be terrifying to get out of your comfort zone, it's very exciting to start a new chapter in your life."

NBC was moving swiftly to replace her. "The View" co-host Meredith Vieira, a former "60 Minutes" correspondent, was close Wednesday to accepting NBC's offer to join Matt Lauer on "Today" starting this fall, according to a person familiar with the negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because a deal had not been completed.

Couric, 49, grew up in journalism backstage at CNN, then joined NBC as a Pentagon reporter in 1989. In April 1991, she was installed next to Bryant Gumbel to wipe away the stain of Deborah Norville's disastrously brief tenure.

It was a master stroke that earned hundreds of millions for NBC and its parent, General Electric Corp. Couric, paired with Lauer since 1997, will leave next month as the longest-serving "Today" host in the show's 54-year history. The show is in the 11th year of an unprecedented ratings winning streak.

Her success helped pave the career rise of Jeff Zucker, once Couric's executive producer and now, as CEO of the NBC Universal Television Group, responsible for overseeing a smooth transition at "Today."

"There comes a time for everyone, when new challenges become hard to resist, and I fully understand that," Zucker said. "I couldn't be happier for Katie."

Couric turned down an offer of about $20 million a year to stay at NBC in order to take CBS' five-year deal at near her current salary of about $15 million, according to people close to negotiations who spoke on condition of anonymity because networks do not speak publicly about salaries. She's also agreed to do "60 Minutes" stories and prime-time specials for CBS. The lure of making history in the evening-- and an end to pre-dawn wake-up calls-- proved irresistible.

Couric's morning job required her to interview everyone from presidents to preening celebrities to a runaway bride. Some critics have questioned whether those skills translate well to a job that primarily involves reading news headlines and presiding when big news strikes.

"If we have another (terrorist) attack or hurricane and need life-saving information, I think her image is that of more fluff than fact and that's going to have an impact," said Jeff Alan, author of "Anchoring America: The Changing Face of Network News."

She seemed far from her hard news roots last November while serving as host for NBC's Thanksgiving Day parade coverage and missing the story of a spectator hurt by a falling street lamp-- a development CBS aggressively pursued.

It hasn't helped that the morning show balance has tipped to the less serious, said Charlotte Grimes, a journalism professor at Syracuse University. She said the new anchor needs to ditch the fashion consultants and crafters of the 172 hairstyles that Couric joked about on Wednesday's "Today" show.

"I think she does have the background but she's going to have to overcome the most recent memories of her," she said.

Barbara Fleming was among the poll respondents who preferred Couric in the morning. Although Couric is good at interviews, "mostly I see her in an entertainment role," said Fleming, 62, of Columbus, Ohio.

Despite the public's initial wariness, the poll suggests that Couric is making the transition at a good time. More than half of those polled, 55 percent, have a favorable view of Couric. That's comparable to the favorable views toward NBC anchor Brian Williams and interim CBS anchor Bob Schieffer, while higher than ABC's Elizabeth Vargas.

Only veteran broadcaster Diane Sawyer of ABC's "Good Morning America" received higher marks than Couric, with more than seven in 10 viewing her favorably. About half of the respondents say they are likely to tune in and see Couric in her new role, but the poll suggested the immediate impact on steady viewership may be limited.

The AP-TV Guide poll of 615 adults was conducted by Ipsos on Monday and Tuesday. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

On her first "Today" broadcast as Gumbel's co-anchor on April 5, 1991-- replayed on its 15th anniversary Wednesday as she announced her imminent departure-- Couric was identified as "Katherine." The more formal first name was swiftly changed.

Now that she's got the big CBS job, should she return to Katherine?

"No way," Tyndall said. "Did they ever call Brokaw 'Thomas Brokaw?' You don't go back. It would seem like you're disavowing the last 15 years of your life."

As her "Today" tenure lengthened, Couric also gained detractors whose view was most infamously stated by Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times last year: "America's girl next door has morphed into the mercurial diva down the hall. At the first sound of her peremptory voice and clickety stiletto heels, people dart behind doors and douse the lights."

But Tyndall argued that Couric had achieved an impossibly high standard of popularity that couldn't be sustained. Couric had the last laugh when "Today" rebounded strongly from ABC's challenge in the past year.

CBS clearly hopes she's a star who can give a bright new face to its last-place news division, attract younger viewers and inject life into a hidebound TV format.

The network also hopes Couric encourages other news stars to come to CBS-- the same formula that CBS Corp. President Leslie Moonves used to revive the entertainment division and Sean McManus did for CBS Sports.

Couric leaves a show that is the unquestioned leader in its field, and the most profitable news program on TV.

Ironically, with Schieffer filling in for the past year, the "CBS Evening News" is growing its audience-- unlike NBC and ABC.

The conversational style that Schieffer has brought to the broadcast, where he frequently questions correspondents on-air about their stories, will continue with Couric. A new set, new graphics and a more contemporary style will also be fashioned around her in time for a September debut, the network said.

"I couldn't be happier," said Schieffer, whose future role-- if any-- in the broadcast was unclear Wednesday. "Katie and I have been friends for years. She's going to be a terrific addition to CBS News. I think we're going to love Katie and I think Katie's going to love us."

The move is also an expensive gamble. Nearly a decade ago Gumbel made a highly publicized switch from "Today" to a prime-time newsmagazine at CBS. It proved a flop, and Gumbel moved back to the morning, but could never get CBS out of third place.

Still, it's a coup for Moonves, who targeted Couric from the time Rather was forced out more than a year ago. It's been in the works for several months, but negotiations heated up during the past few weeks, when NBC waived a contractual provision that prevented Couric from negotiating with another network until May.

Moonves also scores a major victory in his corporate rivalry with Zucker.

Couric is expected to stay at "Today" until the end of May.

Catholic lay group calls on Chicago cardinal to resign

Catholic lay group calls on Chicago cardinal to resign

By Peter Smith
Copyright by The Courier-Journal

A Louisville group of reform-minded Catholics is calling for the resignation of Chicago Cardinal Francis George for allowing a priest to stay in ministry last year after a sexual-abuse allegation.

The Louisville affiliate of Voice of the Faithful -- a national group of lay Catholics seeking structural change in the church in the wake of the abuse crisis -- issued the statement yesterday.

It noted that bishops adopted a zero-tolerance policy over sexual abuse in 2002, requiring that priests who are accused be temporarily removed from ministry pending investigations and that confirmed abusers be permanently removed.

Shannon Whelan, a member of the local group, said it seeks to work with bishops. But she said members at the Louisville affiliate's meeting last week were unanimous that George should resign.

Outside auditors reported last month that the Archdiocese of Chicago failed in multiple ways to monitor the Rev. Daniel McCormack, who stayed in ministry in Chicago until he was charged in January with abuse, even though the archdiocese knew of at least one allegation months earlier. McCormack has pleaded not guilty.

Other allegations date back to his seminary days, but the archdiocese did a poor job making connections because of faulty judgment, communication and record-keeping, the auditors said.

McCormack is charged with abusing three boys.

"People are just absolutely disgusted by how that was handled," Whelan said.

The group is calling for George to resign immediately, to minister to victims of sexual abuse and be a "prophetic voice" holding other bishops accountable for preventing abuse.

In a statement last month, George accepted responsibility for "the tragedy of allowing children to be in the presence of a priest against whom an accusation of sexual abuse had been made."

Some other reform groups have called on George to step down either temporarily or permanently. But George's spokesman, Jim Dwyer, said yesterday that the cardinal will not resign.

"He's admitted over and over again our inadequacies in responding to that, and we're taking actions to correct it," Dwyer said. "He already has spearheaded a whole variety of reforms we're enacting to correct those inadequacies and make sure an inadequate response to an allegation never happens again."

Reporter Peter Smith can be reached at (502) 582-4469.

Ford to put sex policy to vote - Orientation issue is valid, SEC rules

Ford to put sex policy to vote
Orientation issue is valid, SEC rules

By Dee-Ann Durbin
Copyright by The Associated Press

DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. shareholders will decide whether to exclude sexual orientation from the company's equal employment policy.

Ford had asked the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to allow it to keep the resolution from being raised at its annual meeting, the automaker said yesterday.

Ford's policy says the company won't discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, religion and other factors. Shareholder Robert Hurley of Alton, Ill., has submitted a proposal recommending Ford change its policy to exclude any reference to sexual interests, activities or orientation.

Ford asked the SEC to exclude the proposal from its proxy statement, saying it would hurt the company's ability to recruit since some universities require companies to include sexual orientation in their policies.

Ford also said publicity over changing the policy could hurt sales to gay-rights supporters.

Ford is sending its proxy statement to shareholders on Friday, spokeswoman Becky Sanch said. Shareholders will vote on the proposals and the results will be announced at the company's annual meeting on May 11.

In a recent decision, the SEC said Ford can't exclude the proposal. The SEC said a rule that allows companies to reject proposals that deal with "ordinary business operations" doesn't apply to this case.

The SEC agreed with Ford's decision to keep other proposals off the proxy statement, including one that would have required the company to pay managers no more than $500,000 per year.

Ford has about 9,000 employees at two factories in Louisville.

Ford has had an ongoing struggle with the American Family Association and other conservative groups about homosexuality. In December, Ford said it would stop advertising its Jaguar and Land Rover luxury brands in gay publications to reduce marketing costs. But after meeting with several gay-rights groups, Ford said it would put ads featuring all eight of its brands in gay publications.

Last month, 19 conservative groups reinstated a boycott against Ford over the issue. The American Family Association said yesterday that it supports the SEC's decision.

"I find Ford's logic in asking the SEC to omit the resolution interesting," said Don Wildmon, the group's chairman, in a statement. "In essence Ford is saying they are concerned that a boycott by homosexual groups would financially hurt the company, but the boycott by the pro-family groups will not."

John and Jerry By PAUL KRUGMAN

April 3, 2006
Op-Ed Columnist. Copyright by The New York Times

John and Jerry

Well, I'll be damned. At least, that's what the Rev. Jerry Falwell says. Last month Mr. Falwell issued a statement explaining that, in his view, Jews can't go to heaven unless they convert to Christianity. And what Mr. Falwell says matters — maybe not in heaven, but here on earth. After all, he's a kingmaker in today's Republican Party.

Senator John McCain obviously believes that he can't get the Republican presidential nomination without Mr. Falwell's approval. During the 2000 campaign, Mr. McCain denounced Mr. Falwell and the Rev. Pat Robertson as "agents of intolerance." But next month Mr. McCain will be a commencement speaker at Liberty University, which Mr. Falwell founded.

On "Meet the Press" yesterday, Mr. McCain was asked to explain his apparent flip-flop. "I believe," he replied, "that the Christian right has a major role to play in the Republican Party. One reason is because they're so active and their followers are. And I believe they have a right to be a part of our party."

So what has happened since the 2000 campaign to convince Mr. McCain that Mr. Falwell is not, in fact, an agent of intolerance?

Maybe it was Mr. Falwell's TV appearance with Mr. Robertson on Sept. 13, 2001, during which the two religious leaders agreed that the terrorist attack two days earlier was divine punishment for American immorality. "God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve," said Mr. Falwell, who also declared, "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the A.C.L.U., People for the American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.' "

Or maybe it was Mr. Falwell's appearance on "60 Minutes" in October 2002, when he declared, "I think Muhammad was a terrorist." Muhammad, he said, was "a violent man" — unlike Mr. Falwell, I guess, who said of terrorists that we should "blow them all away in the name of the Lord."

After each of these incidents, by the way, Mr. Falwell issued what were described as "apologies." But they weren't apologies — they were statements along the lines of, "I'm sorry that some people were upset by what I said." It's clear that in each case Mr. Falwell's offensive remarks were not a slip of the tongue; they reflected his deeply held beliefs.

And that's why it's important to hold someone like Mr. McCain — who is still widely regarded as a moderate, in spite of his extremely conservative voting record — accountable when he cozies up to Mr. Falwell. Nobody thinks that Mr. McCain shares all of Mr. Falwell's views. But when Mr. McCain said that the Christian right had a right to be part of the Republican Party, he was in effect saying that Mr. Falwell's statements were within the realm of acceptable political discourse.

Just to be clear: this is a free country, and Mr. Falwell has a right to say what he thinks, even if his views include the belief that other people, by saying what they think, brought down God's wrath on America. By the same token, any political party has a right to include Mr. Falwell and his supporters, just as any politician has a right to make a political alliance with Mr. Falwell.

But if you choose to make common cause with religious extremists, you are accepting some responsibility for their extremism. By welcoming Mr. Falwell and people like him as members of their party, Republicans are saying that it's O.K. — not necessarily correct, but O.K. — to declare that 9/11 was America's punishment for its tolerance of abortion and homosexuality, that Islam is a terrorist religion, and that Jews can't go to heaven. And voters should judge the Republican Party accordingly.

As for Mr. McCain: his denunciation of Mr. Falwell and Mr. Robertson six years ago helped give him a reputation as a moderate on social issues. Now that he has made up with Mr. Falwell and endorsed South Dakota's ban on abortion even in the case of rape or incest, only two conclusions are possible: either he isn't a social moderate after all, or he's a cynical political opportunist.