Friday, May 13, 2005

Not knowing the truth will not set you free

It seems like ages ago, but really it was only last week, that the Washington Post put this article about Bob Jones and Bob Jones University in its Style section for me to read at my breakfast table, in the parking lot on route 95, or on the Green Line to Branch Avenue, whichever I chose. Now, as an aside, if I was a conspiracist, which I'm not, I might contend that the Post's Style section seems to, with alarming regularity, print mushy stuff about conservatives that you really never wished you'd have to read about. (But I won't carry on and on about how the Post's Style section, with alarming regularity, seems to have room for just one more slice of life bit about some member or institution of the conservative illuminati.)

And so read I did.

And I found this gem highlighting the philosophical viewpoint of the university that was once known for its rule prohibiting interracial dating--in the year 2000.

The difference between Bob Jones and secular schools, Pait says, is that at BJU every teacher is a fundamentalist Christian and every subject is taught from a "Christian worldview."

"In secular schools, they say, 'Let's use science to discover the unknown truth,' " Pait says. "We say, 'We know the truth -- how does this glorify the truth, who is God?' "

They know the truth. So your purpose, dear student, is to accept that truth. Don't ask questions. Don't question orders. Don't question who we tell you to vote for. Don't pass go, don't collect $2000 (the original $200 has been increased due to inflation--ed).

Don't question our truth, dear student, even when this is the truth as we see it:

Bob Jones Jr. pilloried Secretary of State Alexander Haig as "a monster in human flesh" and publicly prayed that God would "smite him hip and thigh, bone and marrow, heart and lungs."

Bob Jones III denounced Ronald Reagan as "a traitor to God's people" for the sin of choosing as his vice president George H.W. Bush, whom Jones called "a devil."

And all this time I thought Reagan was God's right hand man.

And, no, we don't have an ego issue here at Bob Jones University:

Pait points out the university's academic spinoffs: a Bob Jones preschool, Bob Jones Elementary School, Bob Jones Junior High School, and a 600-student high school called Bob Jones Academy.
It's possible to go from preschool to a PhD and never attend a school that isn't named after Bob Jones.

Meanwhile, back to the truth that we already know:

Bob Jr. was also as fiery a fundamentalist as his father. He denounced the National Council of Churches as "satanic" and the National Association of Evangelicals as "traitors to the cause of Christ."

When Gov. George Wallace stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama to prevent a black student from registering, Bob Jr. awarded him an honorary doctorate and praised him as "David, warring against the giant, Tyranny."

In 1964, when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, Bob Jr. refused to sign a document promising not to discriminate, denouncing it as a "highhanded scheme to force all educational institutions under the control of a federal agency."

That year, Bob Jr. barnstormed for Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater under the slogan "Only a divine miracle can save America now."

But have no fear, even if the church/Bob Jones University was wrong about everything, it was surely right in general. And its pronouncements are just as essential today:

Last year, on the day after the presidential election, Dr. Bob took to the pulpit at the school's compulsory daily chapel service to read a letter he'd written to President Bush:

"In your reelection, God has granted America -- though she doesn't deserve it -- a reprieve from the agenda of paganism. . . . Don't equivocate. Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ."

The students cheered.

And when Dr. Bob broke the news that Tom Daschle, the Senate's Democratic leader, had lost his bid for reelection, they cheered again.

Give'em some love (and some cash)

In the six months of this humble blog's existence, I have not made an appeal for cash, for myself or anyone else.

And since I don't have any expenses I don't need any money from my loyal readers.

But for those of you seeking a respectable and worthy recipient of your largesse, I hope you will consider your local, friendly neighborhood progressively independent public radio outlet.

In the Washington, DC area, that station is WPFW 89.3 which carries the Pacifica Network's Democracy Now! radio program with Amy Goodman. For those of you unacquainted with Amy Goodman, she is the author of Exception to the Rulers, an investigative expose of the power elite. She hosts a great radio program at 8 am/6 pm repeat on weekdays, where she plays host to progressive thinkers, activists and journalists from around the world, reporting on the news the murdoch media doesn't want you to know.

WPFW is carrying on a special fundraising drive this week during which your donations will not only help to allow the station to carry on its work, but also give you some goodies in return.

I donated this morning, and will be getting in return, besides a membership with the station, a two dvd disc set containing a documentary on the life of progressive historian Howard Zinn, as well as a supplementary book to his well known A People's History of the United States.

If you live in the Washington area, give Amy Goodman's show a listen (also see the link I have on the right to the Democracy Now! webpage). And if you can, give WPFW a call and donate to the progressive cause.

If you do, I promise you it will make Michael Medved cry.

Ignorance is Strength

I was reading this post at the CarpetBaggerReport and particularly liked this summary from commenter Donald McFarland:

I think Matt Yglesias gives Michael Kinsley too much credit, albeit with tongue firmly in cheek, I’m sure. Painfully dumb conservative columnists are the inevitable result of the painful and deliberate dumbing down of conservative thought and education by their extremist leaders.

Their purpose was to make it easier to gain and hold power among the sheep-like masses. What they’re left with, however, are just a bunch of stupid people mindlessly repeating the nonsense they’ve been programmed with. They simply don’t have the intellect to maintain the illusion of superiority they have thrived on up to now and it’s really starting to show.

Now, that the conservative movement in general, and its Christian-Nationalist agenda in particular, is profoundly and purposely anti-intellectual, is not news to anybody that reads this blog.

And that there are, or at least could be, adverse consequences of that policy for the conservative movement--and for those it governs--flows from that understanding.

But the discussion reminded me of something I've been thinking a lot about lately, and that is the intersection between the stated ideals and ambitions of Christian Dominionists* such as James Dobson, and the "double think" that characterizes the totalitarian state of Oceania's Inner Party leaders in George Orwell's 1984. Of course the linking of the reconstructionist right with Orwellian tendencies isn't shockingly original.

But what I do think is intriguing is the idea that like Oceania's Inner Party, today's conservatives, and Christian Dominionists in particular, simultaneously believe, and don't believe, the rhetoric they spout.

Take the much noted "persecution complex" Christian Dominionists are known for trumpeting, and which even some mainstream conservatives like George Will, don't give serious credence to. Dobson and his posse must know that they and their ilk are not seriously under attack, but that rather, the rhetoric is used as a means of making the Christians in the pews think that they are so that they will open their checkbooks for their "ministries" as well as vote for the party that will give the Dominionists the political power they want. The language and medium serve both to inflame passions and discourage thought. So, on the one hand, I have to think that the Dobson, Tony Perkins, D. James Kennedy, Rod Parsley and Janet Parshells of the Dominionist's world know that what they're pushing is propaganda designed to bring their flock into allegiance.

The supposed threat from gays and homosexuality is used the same way.

At the same time, the sheer repetitiveness and paranoia involved probably serves in a way to convince the Dominionist's leaders that they really are in fact under attack and that gayness really is a threat to them and their imagined way of life.

So, much like Oceania's Inner Party which manipulates a climate of fear and discouragement of thought--both within the state and within their party--to preserve power, but which is itself both an executor, as well as the target of, that same repression, the Christian Dominionists intend to attract a partisan, highly emotional, and thus, highly malleable mass of support by promoting a climate of fear, do themselves become a part of the lie they're perpetuating.

*The origin of this term is uncertain, but it appears in Chris Hedge's article in the current Harper's magazine "Feeling the hate with the National Religious Broadcasters". The term Dominionist may be used by some inside the Christian Nationalist umbrella of groups or it may be only an outsider's reference. In any event, given their agenda, it seems an appropriate moniker.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Grand Old Party: Screwing People since 1876*

I neglected to mention this before, but I went to my 20th high school reunion this past weekend. Yeah. So you know what that means. My old time chums get to see my bumper stickers reflecting my evolution from spaced out rock and roller to somewhat politically aware and concerned citizen.

One of my old pals, after parking next to my car at a restaurant, jokingly said that she wouldn't be able to park next to me anymore (referencing my bumper stickers).

Remarks like that, even when said in jest and general inoffensiveness, always make me think, even if just for a second, whether or not I'm aligned with the wrong group. Am I a traitor to my religion and families across the good ole US of A because I vote for the candidate and Party that generally supports abortion rights, doesn't want religious worship enforced in the school, blah blah.

Um, on second thought, no.

Remember that bankruptcy bill? Via Atrios, via Ezra Klein, via John Cole, this is a smidget of what majority Republicanism has wrought.

Thought you would like to know. Feel free to take this to your next reunion.

*The modern Republican Party was birthed around 1856 and offered us Abraham Lincoln and General Grant as candidates and presidents from 1860 to 1876. Abe and Grant get a pass in my book. Teddy R was a somewhat positive interlude around the turn of the century, but the Party ultimately gave him the boot for his heretical ways.

UPDATE: via John Cole again, that man of the people--Rush Limbaugh--tells pensioners to go eat cake.

UPDATE II: but, um, the gubmit will pick up the tab, since the pensions are guaranteed through the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp, which will compensate to some degree United's 134,000 people. Doesn't the gubmit suck?

CNN: We're Rolling Up Our Sleeves

We don't do much media analysis here in Senator Bulworth's office. There are others who have more time and better expertise, and to be frank, we've all but given up on the media as a responsible outlet anyhow.

But the Senator was listening to Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! broadcast this morning, where Seymour Hersh was calling the situation in Iraq basically a civil war. The Senator couldn't remember when the television media, especially the cable variety, talked about Iraq. Mostly what the Senator recalls from cable tv news is stuff like this reported over at DC Media Girl (my secret Internets crush) .

I don't know about you, but I was glad to hear that CNN was "rolling up its sleeves" and doing some honest to goodness, real reporting, for change. Well, that is, after they, quote, put that (Schiavo) story on the national agenda, unquote (so now you know who to blame). And, that is, after the "runaway bride" story settled down.

They've had Anderson Cooper over to Lebanon and Syria to talk about the burgeoning of democracy going on there, and Frank Sesno (yeah, he still works there) to Germany to, quote, report on a story of Hitler's secret family history, unquote.

And that's probably what all of you have been getting, too.

Meanwhile, on this morning's Democracy Now! broadcast, the Senator heard journalist Seymour Hersh say this to host Amy Goodman about Iraq:

So today's paper says 100 rebels. We're getting a body count going again, killed in western Iraq. And inside the story, it says -- they quote some Colonel in a telephone interview, because as you, I'm sure, know, the press in Baghdad, this is not their fault. They can't do anything much. They stay behind the Green Zone, which is pretty much penetrated, too, I believe, so I'm told, by the opposition, but, you know, the insurgency or the resistance. What will happen there, God knows. When they choose to do something inside the Green Zone, they will do it.


Its complicated because what happens is we're going along -- the way the war is, its sort of this dreary pattern. Were going along, our troops, and they're going down roads. It's really sort of astonishingly stupid. We patrol, which is stupid to begin with. What good does that do? They go down roads, certain fixed roads, certain times, certain places, usually in groups of three, four, five Humvees, Bradley tanks, Strikers, other heavy vehicles. One gets blown up. The Americans start screaming in pain. The other vehicles stop, run out. The soldiers are jammed into the back. Youve seen some tapes or TV stuff about how they do it. They come running out and they shoot at anything that runs. And thats the war.


In any case, the paper also says -- this is the last one of these things that I found great interest -- that the Lummi tribe, one of the members – its a major tribe in the Sunni heartland of Baghdad, the four provinces that Saddam -- the center post of the resistance, the Lummi tribe probably had something to do with turning in Saddam. He had turned on some of those people. Anyway, the new Defense Minister is a Sunni, from the tribe, and he says hes going to continue the policies of Mr. Allawi, the former Defense Minister, which is what? What's the defense policies of Allawi, the former interim Prime Minister? Well, basically, what we have done since -- in the last year, is we have recreated the Iraqi Mukhabarat. This is the heavy-hitting secret police that Saddam ran. We have gone in and recreated many of the members, put them through a little acid test, made them vow that their allegiance – to what? – I guess, to America, or they're no longer Saddamites.

In any case, this is our main force right now. This is the force that Allawi controls. This is a force, the former, you know, whatever the guys, whatever you want to call them, the former roughest guys that Saddam had are now working for us. Theyre our most prominent security force. And we have had really an amazing spectacle of the Secretary Of Defense, Rumsfeld, making at least two trips in the last five months, I think it’s three, but I know of two, I think it was three, though -- going in and basically -- once before the election was announced, and two more trips -- basically pleading on the inside for the two major factions, the Kurds and the Shia, I am assuming some knowledge of -- I hope I am not -- Iraq? -- you know, the country? and there's -- anyway, I dont want to kid you. But we're negotiating -- obviously the whole point of the election was to keep Allawi in play so that he could serve as a bridge, our man, between the Kurds and the Shia. And what he delivers is, of course, is the Mukhabarat.


And here you have Rumsfeld. We went to war to get rid of Saddam and all of that. Here you have Rumsfeld going at least twice in the last four months or so to beg, to beg for Allawi to stay in, and beg basically for the former Mukhabarat security forces to continue doing what they do, terrorizing. It was an amazing piece in The New York Times Magazine. I mean, amazing in its inability to go beyond the immediacy of what they were reporting about one of these militias that are former Mukhabarat, former Saddam people, that are now working for us, killing, (quote, unquote), insurgents, which means theyre basically -- I dont know, when do you describe what is going on as a civil war? I dont know. When is somebody going to say that? But if its not a civil war, its very close. And I dont know -- I cant see an end game.


But I think what is more important than that is that this guy, this Bush, absolutely believes in what hes doing. Hes not like a nervous Richard Nixon, worried about, you know, They're coming after me, or Lyndon Johnson quitting over Vietnam with great uncertainty about whether he is doing the right thing. This guy is absolutely convinced.


So, this guy (Bush) cant be reached by us. Not just me. I mean, they can ignore me, but the networks, any time theres a good story, not a blip. And what does that mean? That means, you know, the body bags arent going to stop him. This is a guy who is convinced for whatever reason that even 1,000 or another -- you know, the body count goes on. It just goes on. Of course, nobody counts the Iraqis. I love the stories -- every time you talk about Vietnam, it's always -- the Vietnam war is summarized this way, 58,000 American killed and anywhere between 2 and 3 million Vietnamese.


He (Bush) is strange in one way. You know, Wolfowitz, who if nothing, if not smart, would understand this, but Bush is truly a Trotskyite, a believer in permanent revolution. We have never had one as a president before. He wouldnt understand that, but Wolfowitz would. He truly is. And he is doing it -- what he thinks he has to do, the revolutions he has to create, without any information, without any -- without an ability to absorb information that's counter to what he wants to hear. And so, I don't know where you are when you have a man with as much power as he controls and as much ability to do something.

So, yeah, CNN, please go ahead and keep giving us those, quote, provocative, character-driven narratives, unquote.

Meanwhile, we have no idea, no idea, what is going over in Iraq, other than that the bulk of the forces we sent over there two years ago are still there and not likely to be coming back anytime soon. That's all we know folks. Let the administration's Internets supporters talk about democracy in Iraq, winning the war on terrorism, and all the rest of it. But before we allow ourselves to get bamboozled that what's going over there is anything other than a clusterbunk, remember the press (such as it is) is holed up in the Greenzone, feeding us the same garbage that's passed to them from the military overlords, with absolutely no way of knowing what's going on there.

But if we're lucky, maybe there will be another missing white woman story we can zoom in on while the undeclared civil war is transpiring under our auspices in Iraq.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A Bold List of Bold Wishes, Boldly

We keep getting told how bold President Bush is, on Iraq, on Social Security, you name it. People like him, it is said (well not really if recent polls are any indication), because he seems willing to say what he believes regardless of what others say, or the circumstances may be.

This has kind of gotten me to thinking about what sort of boldness we should hope for in our next batch of Democratic presidential aspirants. At the risk of bringing down the wrath of blogdom, I am going to be bold today, and list some of my bold wishes, in the hopes that other bloggers will pick up on them, or add some bold wishes of their own.

Boldness #1: End the Cuba embargo and all the associated nonsense about travel restrictions and cigars. It is a dumb policy, with absolutely no relevance to the nation's security or interests. And it's been a spectacular failure, Castro is still in charge (after 40+ years), and the embargo hurts only the country's poor citizens. Tell the cuban exiles in Miami, we're sorry, but $%& off. Will we lose Florida? Probably. But we lost it last time and the time before that. Ignore the electoral college. Just be bold.

Boldness #2: End the Drug War. It is a war against people. It's a violation of civil liberties, and like our Cuba policy, it's a spectacular failure. The only beneficiaries are the police, prison industries, and justices who are employed as a result of it.

Boldness #3: Support the Constitution, the separation of church and state, and judicial review. Not exactly bold, since they're only our nation's laws and 200 year old precedents. But as Donald Rumsfeld might say, you go with the bold wishes that you have.

Boldness #4: Scale down the military and the armaments industry. What is our military for? If it is for defense, than we can get by with a lot less than we have now. As a Democratic society, we should be discussing these things.

Boldness #4a: End our occupation of Okinawa. That's an island off the shore of Japan, that our military has pretty much been running since the end of WWII. Tell us what purpose our military installations serve there or dismantle them.

Boldness #5: Bring our socialized health care system out of the closet. Right now we socialize medicine in pieces (unequal ones) through employers, public health insurance, and various forms of subsidized indigent care. Let's end the hypocrisy of acting like the socialized medicine through employer coverage is somehow OK and free marketish, but the socialized medicine through public health plans is somehow bad.

That's my bold list for now. But I reserve the right to be bold later.

Conservatives: We're Afraid of People

I was minding my own business this morning, calmly reading the Washington Post on the metro ride into work, when all of sudden, this article just jumped out at me.

It seems as if North Carolina is one of a handful of states that has a law on the books against "cohabitation". The law dates from the early 1800's and is rarely enforced. But it turns out that a certain NC sheriff near Wilmington has it down pat, and wanted one of his slav--er, workers, to abide by it, or risk being canned.

The woman has enlisted the ACLU to file suit against the law.

Conservatives, who routinely trumpet their love of freedom and freedom fries, can't seem to spare any for regular Americans.

A spokesman from some outfit called the NC Family Policy Council (how goulish is that?) thinks the law is just dandy because "studies show" that people who cohabitate before, or in substitute for marriage are more prone to break up, leading to less stability in marriage as a result. Well, bless their hearts. Stability trumps freedom. We must surrender our freedom so the Family Policy Councils of the world can feel "stabile". Sound familiar? Freedom is Slavery?

Fortunately, a minister from a church in Raleigh introduced some regular folk sanity to the debate by contending that the state's got better things to do than to dictate people's private lives to that extent.


Monday, May 09, 2005

Dissing the Family Research Council or Duping the Press (and us)?

I meant to blog about this when it happened but I got sidetracked. At his press conference after the notorious "Justice Sunday" orchestrated by the Family Research Council and James Dobson's Focus on the Family, Bush was asked about the opposition by Democrats to (a handful of) his judicial nominees as being a prejudice against "people of faith". Bush responded that--

I don’t ascribe a person’s opposing my nominations to an issue of faith.

Many in the press fell over themselves praising the President's response as somehow denoting his fair-mindedness. CNN's Jeff Greenfield highlighted the response in his post-news-conference analysis. Frank Rich gave the President credit for the response in his recent Sunday NYT op-ed. Sean Hannity flagged the President's response and asked his blog readers to comment. The FRC's Tony Perkins (a former Republican operative and U.S. Senate candidate in Louisiana) fudged the President's response and claimed that he and the President really were in agreement.

So, was Bush being high-minded and reasonable in not aping the right's rhetoric on this? Perhaps.

But let's consider the issue and the exchange a bit further before leaping to praise the President.

First, this was a televised news conference, when presumably, the whole nation would be watching. Sounds like a good time to utter words that sound as if they're designed to sound fair minded and counter to some interest groups believed to be in the President's corner. The whole change the tone of Washington thing.

Second, the President nominated these judges. Now, the President won re-election, increased his party's hold on Congress, and perhaps is entitled to feel his nominees, right or wrong, should get a vote, and that he shouldn't have to endure the same minority party blocking rights that other presidents have faced. But he hasn't exactly sought common ground with Democrats and others squeemish about this gang of anti-Enlightenment thinkers either. And as I've suggested previously, it wouldn't seem difficult to find other judges to replace these ones, who were as equally as conservative but not as beset by a paper trails or bad rulings. But the President hasn't done that.

Finally, the President knew about this whole Justice Sunday thing, and the rhetoric that emerged from it was not a surprise. There had been weeks of lead up to it, full of religious misdirection and demagoguery. If the President disagreed with the strategy his backers were taking in this case, if he didn't like their rhetoric, do you think it's possible, if not likely, that he would have had Rove get on the phone to these guys, telling them to knock it off? Technically, of course, these organizations are independent entitities and however well they might regard the President, they may not have been willing to stifle themselves on the matter. Furthermore, the President might have believed any attempts by him to regulate the behavior of these groups would either be beneath the office of the Presidency, or just not politically worth it. Still, this President seems to have a pretty tight control over message and I'm not sure that hold is limited to the official elected institutions of America.

So I wouldn't necessarily buy the President's act here.

I'm With Stupid

As I'm sure everybody knows by now, a Baptist minister in North Carolina told parishioners before the 2004 election that they either needed to vote for President Bush or (1) seek repentance or (2) take their church membership some place else.

Now, beyond the fact that the attempt to wed one's spiritual membership and eternal salvation to one's partisan affiliation and voting behavior is a violation of the freedom of concience, is totally unfounded and stupifyingly dictatorial, it also makes you seem either (a) dumb as a stump, and that you should stick to what you are supposed to be educated and trained to do, or (b) you're fully aware that the Republican Party today as currently constituted is a criminal conspiracy against the personal liberties and economic interests of freedom loving Americans and a threat to the majority of peaceful nations in the world, and that by shamefully trying to manipulate his congregation's blind allegiance to it, is engaging in an act of utmost maliciousness and demagoguery.

Apparently, some of the parishioners, who stuck around that church longer than I would have, have taken the pastor up on his appeal and taken their presence, good sense, tolerance, and tithe money to another church or churches that presumably demonstrate some level of intelligent life.

Ensuring Future Pain

I know a lot of you will have already read Krugman today, but I thought it worthwhile to at least include this segment because I think it deserves further attention:

Before I take on this final insult to our intelligence, let me deal with a fundamental misconception: the idea that President Bush's plan would somehow protect future Social Security benefits.

If the plan really would do that, it would be worth discussing. It's possible - not certain, but possible - that 40 or 50 years from now Social Security won't have enough money coming in to pay full benefits. (If the economy grows as fast over the next 50 years as it did over the past half-century, Social Security will do just fine.) So there's a case for making small sacrifices now to avoid bigger sacrifices later.

But Mr. Bush isn't calling for small sacrifices now. Instead, he's calling for zero sacrifice now, but big benefit cuts decades from now - which is exactly what he says will happen if we do nothing. Let me repeat that: to avert the danger of future cuts in benefits, Mr. Bush wants us to commit now to, um, future cuts in benefits.

This accomplishes nothing, except, possibly, to ensure that benefit cuts take place even if they aren't necessary.

I also think another part of his column is important but for different reasons and pertaining to a different subject.

Hell hath no fury like a scammer foiled. The card shark caught marking the deck, the auto dealer caught resetting a used car's odometer, is rarely contrite. On the contrary, they're usually angry, and they lash out at their intended marks, crying hypocrisy.

This sort of introduction would apply equally well as a response to the high-jacking of religion for alterior purposes, the sort of which is being carried out by Dobson's posse, by the National Right to Life Committee (which is backing the Bush court nominees unreservedly, like a good GOP flack should, despite the fact that, as it seems to me, other equally ardent foes of abortion are likely to be found among other, more qualified nominees, and that perhaps the NRTLC might think about that before throwing themselves under the bus on behalf of these nutcases that want to roll back the clock of progressive economic reforms to the pre-New Deal era), and from goons like this guy.

Al Gore and current Colorado Senator Ken Salazar have started calling the Christian Right out. Naming names. And the Christian Right hasn't liked it. Hopefully, other courageous leaders will step up to do the same. Despite the angry harping that will come as a result.

As the Republican majority has increased its hold on government, religious groups once content to play significant, if behind the scenes roles, are increasingly coming out of the closet, if you will. And I think they'll be sorry they did (and so will the rest of us, regardless of the long term outcome). Whatever figleaf nonpartisanship that might have previously characterized their endeavors, has been discarded. And the images they're now making of themselves as their radicalism becomes more widely seen has not been a pretty sight to behold. The further they inject themselves into partisan politics, the greater will be their organization's challenge to maintain at least some facade of genuine Christianity.

Putting the Mary back in Christmas

(although more than six months remain before the end of the year, several noted conservatives recently gathered at the headquarters of the Fox News Network to lay plans for the further politicizing of religion and to punish any heretics during the gift-giving season such as store clerks who say "happy holidays" instead of Merry Christmas, local jurisdictions that fail to erect nativity scenes, etc. The meeting was held at the Fox headquarters due to the fact that since so many of the conservative elite work there already, it would have been costly and unnecessary to arrange a different location--ed. Although much of the group consisted of Fox employees or consultants, some additional conservatives were brought in to provide "fairness" and "balance". Among the non-Fox staff included James Dobson from the busybody, Focus on Everyone's Family institute, John Stossel, conservative scold from ABC's 20/20 and the new pope, The Grand Inquisitor, Benedict XVI).

Oh'Really?: So what do we do this year to capitalize on the attention we got last year?

Hume: We could stake out some leftish grocery store like Fresh Fields or some equally leftish
company like Target to try to catch them in the act of saying "happy holidays" instead
of Merry Christmas.

Barnes: I disagree. That's so last year. We need to make it all seem like some anti-Christian
jihad. We could focus on people who aren't going to church during the season or the lack of nativity scenes in Aspen, Colorado.

The Grand
Inquisitor: The whole problem with Americans and Christmas is you totally negate the importance of the Virgin Mary. I've never understood all the huballoo
about the Christ child anyway.

Stossel: And we have to make sure the innkeepers in this story don't end up giving hotel/motel industry a bad name. How come Joseph and Mary didn't just make reservations?

Moore: They couldn't make reservations because the Roman government made them
leave early to register for taxes. The whole thing was a government conspiracy.
Let's use the opportunity of Christmas to attack taxes and the government. I'll
have our Club start working on ads.

Dobson: I agree with the Grand Inquisitor. This child gets too much attention. I bet he was a
loud, crying malcontent that deserved a spanking. And I don't that story in Luke about
how the Christ slid out from under his parents' noses and went off to the temple to
argue with the teachers did any good. Luke makes it sound like it was the parents' fault
Jesus was lost. If I'd had my belt...

The Grand
Inquisitor: I should also like to point out that you Americans never remember that
the mas in Christmas means "mass". Mass as in Catholic. You should all
convert to Catholicism.

Oh'Really?: Shut up!!! Shut up!!!!!! Cut off his mike!!!!

Medved: How about a movie about Christmas and the war effort. The glories of Americans in
war never get enough attention.

Cal Thomas: You know I have a show around here called After Hours.

(a knock on the door interrupts the proceedings. Oliver North, convicted criminal and host of Fox's War Stories appears. )

North: Hey fellas. I was looking for the Up With War meeting. Know where it is?

Oh'Really: Get out of here, Pinhead. Your meeting is the next door on the right.

Sajak: You know, the whole anti-Christian thing is a Hollywood conspiracy. Hollywood hates Christmas and Christians.

Cavuto: the important thing here is to make sure that our retailers can keep racking in the bucks so I can keep saying that the Bush economy is humming along.

Shepherd Smith: Well, I like the personal interest stories myself. Last year I had to go and rip down people's wreaths and Santa displays to ginny up some outrage.

Fox and Bush Friends: Oh let's get Laura to come on our show.

(another knock on the door. Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich appear.)

Hannity: Roger wants us all in the conference room. Seems as if some good looking white bride has gone missing somewhere in the South.

Oh'Really: I bet she's been murdered. I'm on it.

The Grand Inquisitor: Is she Catholic?

Dobson: undoubtedly, her disappearance and failure to make the wedding is because of the fact that Massachusetts has allowed gay marriage.

(while everyone scurries away to cover the runaway bride story, and the lights are shut off, Cal Thomas lingers behind)

Thomas: Excuse me. Excuse me. Well, that's it. That's the last straw. I'm going to set the place on fire.