Daniel DiRito

WHO Updates AIDS Model - Christian Conservatives Go Crazy


A new assessment of the AIDS epidemic by the World Health Organization drew an immediate response from the Family Research Council. Given the content of the FRC response, it appears that 25 years has done little to end the labeling of those with the disease as morally inferior.


Commentary By: Daniel DiRito

The inclination to view natural disasters and disease as signs of God’s wrath remains a frightening demonstration of the dangers of religious dogma. Time and again, a vocal group of religious leaders attribute these tragedies to the morality of those affected.


One long standing example is HIV/AIDS, though there are many more. When HIV first appeared, there were numerous religious leaders and politicians who chose to characterize the disease as punishment for homosexuality. Since the beginning, the fact that the infection rate in lesbians was a fraction of that found in gay men seemed to defy the efforts to apply a moral judgment. Regardless, the prevalence of these prejudices continues to exist.


The release of a new report by the World Health Organization, in which the organization acknowledges that HIV isn’t likely to become a heterosexual pandemic, has already triggered a new round of moral pronouncements. I’ll discuss the invective offered by the Family Research Council beneath the following excerpts. They are from an article in The Independent which details the reports conclusions.


A quarter of a century after the outbreak of Aids, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has accepted that the threat of a global heterosexual pandemic has disappeared.


In the first official admission that the universal prevention strategy promoted by the major Aids organisations may have been misdirected, Kevin de Cock, the head of the WHO’s department of HIV/Aids said there will be no generalised epidemic of Aids in the heterosexual population outside Africa.


Dr De Cock, an epidemiologist who has spent much of his career leading the battle against the disease, said understanding of the threat posed by the virus had changed. Whereas once it was seen as a risk to populations everywhere, it was now recognised that, outside sub-Saharan Africa, it was confined to high-risk groups including men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, and sex workers and their clients.


[…] But we have to be careful. As an epidemiologist it is better to describe what we can measure. There could be small outbreaks in some areas.”

Red-Faced GOP Turns Blue Over Mississippi Loss

The GOP’s loss of a special election in Mississippi’s 1st. district earlier this evening is bound to leave a number of Republicans tossing and turning tonight as they weigh the 2008 election. Regardless, Democrats should redouble their efforts to achieve more gains in November.

I don’t believe in crystal balls or tarot cards…but the fact that the Democrats have now won three congressional special elections in stronghold Republican districts doesn’t bode well for the GOP in November. The most recent loss took place tonight in the solidly red 1st. district in the state of Mississippi.
Democrat Travis Childers won Tuesday’s Mississippi special election runoff for Sen. Roger Wicker’s (R) former House seat, handing Democrats the biggest of their three special election takeovers this cycle and sending a listless GOP further into a state of disarray.
Childers led GOP candidate Greg Davis 53-47 with more than 90 percent of precincts reporting. Turnout increased substantially over the 67,000 voters who cast ballots in the April 22 open special election, with more than 100,000 voting in the runoff.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), issued a somber and self-reflective statement following the loss, saying Republicans were “disappointed” and that they need to prepare to run against Democrats campaigning as conservatives.
Cole added that “the political environment is such that voters remain pessimistic about the direction of the country and the Republican Party in general. Therefore, Republicans must undertake bold efforts to define a forward-looking agenda that offers the kind of positive change voters are looking for. This is something we can do in cooperation with our presidential nominee, but time is short.”
Now I understand that Rep. Cole has to respond to the defeat and I’m sure it’s difficult to craft a palatable rationale. Regardless, it’s hard to imagine the words “forward-looking agenda” and GOP in the same sentence.

Conservatives to Provoke Confrontation with IRS Over Clergy Endorsements

The gall of the religious right never ceases to amaze. Time and again, they demonstrate that hypocrisy is an essential element of their ideology. While many of these zealots frequently demonstrate their willingness to preach one thing and do another, their latest endeavor seems determined to take it to a whole new level.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a legal advocate for the right wing, is calling on churches to voice their positions on political candidates en masse on September 28th in order to create the grounds to challenge the constitutionality of the current tax code. As it now stands, the IRS guidelines prohibit churches from directly endorsing or rejecting political candidates in order to maintain their tax exempt status. The ADF wants to overturn the provision on the grounds that it circumvents their First Amendment rights and is therefore unconstitutional.

Keep reading... Show less

GOP State Rep Insists Homosexuality is a Bigger Threat to US Than Terrorism


I’m always amazed when the religious right seeks to characterize the pursuit of gay equality as a militant homosexual agenda. I’m especially amused when the rhetoric by which they put forth this argument is laced with the words we normally associate with the very militancy they seek to attach to the gay community.



In the following video, Oklahoma Representative Sally Kern waxes on about the threat posed by homosexuals. According to Kern, homosexuality poses a greater danger than terrorism. Just listen to the angry and confrontational imagery laced throughout her speech. When Kern states that she is in jeopardy by just making her comments, what kind of jeopardy is she alluding to? This is fear mongering at its worst. Sadly, these are the words we hear so often from those who claim to be Christians.


Video - Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern


As is so often the case with bigotry, Kern’s remarks are rife with exaggerations and misinformation. Kern tells us she was a teacher for twenty years and that schools are no longer teaching facts and knowledge. It sickens me to imagine the curriculum Kern and her ilk would favor. Thank goodness she’s no longer teaching. We can only hope that her political career comes to an end as well.


Honestly, when I hear the assertion that no society that embraced homosexuality has survived, I want to puke. I could just as easily assert that no society that has embraced a monetary system has survived. There isn’t a scintilla of evidence that any society failed due to an acceptance of homosexuality…unless of course one chooses to cherry pick from the Biblical account of Sodom and Gomorrah.


I find it amusing that homosexuality is given the distinction of being the preeminent means by which sexual behavior can destroy a society. Somehow, the Kern’s of the world seem to ignore God’s supposed admonitions against adultry, premarital sex, or any other heterosexual indiscretion. I wonder what Kern thinks about the growing prevalence of “pegging”. Of course I’m sure she would blame it on gays.



Rather than rant on about the ramblings of another run of the mill right winger, I decided to grant her inane fears the credence they warrant.


The following is my version of the top ten goals of militant homosexuals.

Are We One Unforseen Crisis Away from a Military Draft?

Reading between the lines of a newly released survey of current and former military officers seems to suggest that the U.S. military may be one unexpected military crisis away from the need to reinstitute the draft. Those who doubt that the war in Iraq is a drain on our military may want to reconsider the merits of that never ending conflict.

The fact that the bulk of the American public's military assessments are filtered through the prism of the powers that be...a la the Bush administration...can be rather misleading and may well engender a false sense of security. Implied in these assessments is an assurance that our nation is being sufficiently protected from harm. It's not only possible that this is a rose colored view; we may be one unforeseen crisis away from the need to reinstitute a military draft.

A survey of a few thousand current and former military officers overwhelmingly concludes that our military has been stretched dangerously thin by the war in Iraq. What the survey doesn't state may be the ominous six hundred pound gorilla in the room.

Keep reading... Show less

Mitt Gets Pissed When Reporter Challenges His Lobbyist-Free Campaign Claims

Mitt Romney has a propensity to finesse the facts. Yesterday, he had a confrontation with a reporter over his assertion that he doesn't have any lobbyists "running his campaign". I hate to burst the candidate's bubble, but that seems to have been a "Mittrepresentation".

I want to see Mitt Romney's dictionary. Given his frequent reliance on third tier definitions to justify his many inaccurate remarks, it has to be awfully ragged. In the following video, reporter Glen Johnson confronts Romney on his assertion that he doesn't have lobbyists running his campaign. Mitt attempts to nuance the definition of "running his campaign" with regards to Ron Kaufman, a Romney operative who is a well-known and well-connected lobbyist.

If this were the only incident of Romney mincing words, one might be inclined to disregard this latest episode. However, one would have to be blind to miss that the well-healed and carefully coifed candidate has done so on numerous occasions; not to mention the fact that he recently unveiled his umpteenth stump strategy as a non-establishment, change agent, Washington outsider. While the former governor is adept at covering his tracks, I suspect these tactics are wearing thin and appear far too coy for a number of voters.

I'm reminded of the GOP's frequent efforts to pejoratively peg Democratic candidates. They labeled John Kerry a "flip flopper" and they spent years attaching "Slick Willie" to President Clinton. With that in mind, I think its time to tag Romney with an appropriate alias.

The Top Ten Ways to Identify An Evangelical Republican

This post, written by Daniel DiRito, originally appeared on The All Spin Zone

Now that Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee have defined faith for us, the following is my offering to assist voters in determining how to qualify for entry into the GOP’s evangelical enclave.

In the aftermath of a week of bully pulpit ballyhoo from the GOP presidential candidates, I decided to address my disdain in the only manner which would allow me to stomach the subject…sarcasm.

Having watched Mitt Romney tell us the meaning of faith in America and listened to Mike Huckabee toss tactical banana peels at the Bostonian’s (former Massachusetts liberal) forever flip-flopping feet, I found myself wondering which candidate would soon be sporting a wooden cross on his shoulder for the duration of the campaign.

Fortunately, there may well be a silver lining hidden in these holier than thou hijinks. By the time the GOP is done vetting it’s candidates, the average fair minded American may find them to be far too extreme and far too beholding to their religious right-ocrites. We’ve all heard the expression “if you live by the sword, you die by the sword”…well…2008 may provide a worthy successor, “if you live by the lord, you die by the lord”…especially when you spend all of your time fighting about which lord to worship.

Moving on, the following is my offering to assist voters in determining if they qualify for entry into the GOP’s evangelical enclave. Feel free to offer additional requirements and restrictions. I would hate to be accused of an act of omission…I’ve heard the punishment is ghastly…if you’re not George Bush or an acceptable affiliate.

The Top Ten Ways To Identify An Evangelical Republican:

Number Ten:

They’re opposed to sectarian conflict in Iraq but in favor of sectarian politics in the United States.

Number Nine:

They’re opposed to homosexuality and same-sex relationships but they’ll vote for a presidential candidate who does drag and lived with two gay men if he can beat Hillary Clinton and her “typically” unfaithful heterosexual husband.

Giuliani Billed City Agencies for Hamptons Trips During Extramarital Affair

This post, written by Daniel DiRito, originally appeared on The All Spin Zone

New York's semi-smarmy super hero, the drag queen wannabe who no doubt wishes he could campaign wearing Annie Oakley-esque outfits complete with a pair of precious plaid holsters sporting a set of sassy squirt guns, apparently left some rather large loose ends in his winsome wake...and I'm not talking about the backsides of his bevy of former Frauleins. It appears that Rudy made a number of trips to the Hamptons to shack up with Judy "Make Room For My Vuitton" Nathan on Gotham City's dime.
As New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons, according to previously undisclosed government records.
The documents, obtained by Politico under New York's Freedom of Information Law, show that the mayoral costs had nothing to do with the functions of the little-known city offices that defrayed his tabs, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants.
At the time, the mayor's office refused to explain the accounting to city auditors, citing "security."
The Hamptons visits resulted in hotel, gas and other costs for Giuliani's New York Police Department security detail.
Now one can speculate what America's mayor meant by "security" when deflecting questions about these rather suspect expenditures...perhaps his psyche was subconsciously pondering the problems he might encounter if the woman holed up in Gracie Mansion had the goods on her cousin kissin' diddly dallying husband?

I could include additional excerpts but I'm having way more fun sharing my silly and snide snark. When I read about Rudy's amorphous accounting, I couldn't help but harken to the head-scratching that followed his loquacious telephone interludes with wifey number three while standing at the podium to deliver a speech. Perhaps the current Mrs. Giuliani wants to keep account of her hubby...after all, she knows all too well about her hubby's clandestine capabilities.
BRAND NEW STORIES

Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.