Five-Fold Today

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich - Economic End Times - The Hour Is Late - Matt Damon for president? - Victory In Jesus - The Christian Right's "Dominionist" Strategy - Tax the Poor!

August 25th, 2011

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich

By Warren E. Buffett

Our leaders have asked for "shared sacrifice." But when they did the asking, they spared me. I checked with my mega-rich friends to learn what pain they were expecting. They, too, were left untouched.

While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as "carried interest," thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they'd been long-term investors.

These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It's nice to have friends in high places.

Last year my federal tax bill - the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf - was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income - and that's actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine - most likely by a lot.

To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It's a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

I didn't refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone - not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 - shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what's happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion - a staggering $227.4 million on average - but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.

The taxes I refer to here include only federal income tax, but you can be sure that any payroll tax for the 400 was inconsequential compared to income. In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. (I can relate to that.)

I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn't mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.

Twelve members of Congress will soon take on the crucial job of rearranging our country's finances. They've been instructed to devise a plan that reduces the 10-year deficit by at least $1.5 trillion. It's vital, however, that they achieve far more than that. Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country's fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.

Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can't fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.

But for those making more than $1 million - there were 236,883 such households in 2009 - I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more - there were 8,274 in 2009 - I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It's time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.

Warren E. Buffett is the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway.

Economic End Times

By Stephen Lendman

Despite a deepening global depression, establishment economists are in denial. On June 9, the Wall Street Journal said those surveyed expected slow, steady growth through 2011, despite high US unemployment, a housing depression, European sovereign debt in crisis, and the unreported insolvency of major French and other banks.

On June 8, testifying before the House Budget Committee, Fed chairman Bernanke fantasized about 3.5% US growth through 2011, stopping just short of ruling out the possibility of recession he called "unlikely."

And in 2007, when equity and housing bubbles peaked, neither he or Greenspan expressed alarm, destroying their credibility in the process.

Based on an early August survey, establishment (in bed with Wall Street) economists now put the chance of "another" downturn at 30%, compared to 15% in May, expecting 2.5% growth over the next year.

Some, in fact were sanguine, calling America's economy strong, attributing negative views to a crisis of confidence, not hard reality, signaled by the August 4 shot across the bow market rout.

Despite a predictable rebound, it signified much worse to come because conditions are dire getting worse. Even manipulated data show enough to sound alarms, highlighted by economists like David Rosenberg.

On August 15, he expressed surprise about so "little reaction to the shocking US consumer sentiment data that were released on Friday - the worst since the tail end of the Jimmy Carter recession era in 1980."

Moreover, consumer spending is weak even with suspect upward revisions. In addition, "(n)ew mortgage and refinancing loan volumes fell 19% in Q2 to" a three-year low. Further, auto buying plans declined to a decade low, likely headed much lower as economic conditions deteriorate. Other big ticket buying plans also dropped to 2008-09 depths when the economy falling off a cliff seemed possible.

In fact, growth indicators overall are rapidly heading south at a time they're already woefully weak. There's no end to decline in sight. Remarkably, negative household assessments of government policy hit record lows, surpassing the depths of the early 1980s recession and Watergate.

As a result, Rosenberg called the US economy "recession-bound, expecting" even manipulated data to show negative Q 3 growth, followed by greater contraction in Q 4 and 2012 Q 1.

"(P)ractically every major variable is" negative. "We are past the point of no return....I can understand the innate need to be hopeful," he said, but it's impossible to dispute reality.

Weakness and imbalances are extreme. American and European sovereign debt are overextended and troubled. "Anyone who thinks this gets contained (especially in Europe) slept through the last financial crisis after Lehman failed."

And when weak economies beg for stimulus, austerity is force-fed, assuring far greater economic pain. It's coming, will deepen and persist because policy measures are opposite of what's needed.

Commenting on the August 4 market rout, Rosenberg said nearly always it signals downturns. Western economies are fundamentally weak. Unlike earlier times when the Fed could cut interest rates, it now relies on "untested methods to underpin investor confidence and the economy."

And if America's economy plunges, so do others even deeper. Hunker down believes Rosenberg and independent economists believing the worst is yet to come.

Other Respected Views

Economist Michael Hudson is unequivocal explaining a debt deflation caused Depression. The game is over. The global ponzi scheme ran its course. Papering over conditions only works so long before hitting a wall. Tunnel vision assures trouble. Wrecking economies to save banks is lunacy, and forced austerity when stimulus is needed guarantees disaster. It's not a matter of if, just when, how deep and protracted.

Economist Paul Craig Roberts, trends analyst Gerald Celente, and others worry whether Washington will choose greater war to distract public attention from economic distress. In 2009, in fact, Celente warned about the oldest trick in the book, saying:

"Given the pattern of governments to parlay egregious failures into mega-failures, the classic trend they follow, when all else fails, is to take their nation to war."

In 2011, he called it a worrisome wild card, perhaps preceded by a major 9/11 type false flag to enlist public support.

Bet on it, in fact, if conditions become bad enough, public anger grows, and Obama's approval rating crashes ahead of the 2012 election. War based on heightened fear is how to raise it perhaps high enough to win.

Highly respect analyst Jeremy Grantham began his August letter to investors headlined, "Danger: Children at Play" with a "Stop Press Addendum," saying:

"My worst fears about the potential loss of confidence in our leaders, institutions, and 'capitalism itself' are being realized. We have been digging this hole for a long time. We really must be serious in our attempts to resuscitate the 'average (number of) hour(s) worked' and the fortunes of the average worker."

"Walking across the Boston Common this morning, I came to realize that the unpalatable (to me) option of some debt forgiveness on mortgages looks increasingly to be necessary as well as tax changes" he discussed in his report.

"To go further, if we mean to prosper long term, I am sure we need to act to make debt less attractive to everybody: it really is a snare and a delusion" to think otherwise.

Calling America's Congress "dysfunctional," he said it has to decide between two bad choices:

-- austerity to kill demand when the economy is on its knees; or

-- do nothing, risk default, compromise the integrity of the dollar and send "a powerful signal to the world that the US, at least for now," is past its prime.

In fact, growing numbers acknowledge that reality. "Come to think of it," said Grantham, "the choice was between a technical default and looking like a Banana Republic (or) technical blackmail and looking" like the same thing. "Just different bananas perhaps."

Overall he sees hard times, "lean years." Any pretense otherwise "is beyond wishful thinking or weak math skills. It is either childish or gross and cynical politics: that is to say, even worse politics than usual."

With balanced budgets mathematically impossible without major politically unpalatable policy changes, the alternative is "kicking an enormous can down the road" for even greater predictable disaster.

It's the equivalent of not dealing with a metastasizing cancer until the patient dies or is too far gone to save.

Adding his own grim assessment, Grantham said if we keep "drift(ing) around rudderless, if we don't develop some real (nowhere in sight) leadership soon, then seven lean years may be the least of" America's woes.

Commenting on the August 4 market rout, he added that it "always (has a) disturbing habit of ignoring the obvious and ignoring it some more, until, in the blink of an eye, it doesn't."

On August 4, it blinked, making "risk avoidance....a good idea," Grantham believes that may be his polite way of saying watch out! I warned you! There's no visible light at the end of this tunnel, getting increasingly darker. Watch out indeed.

In fact, a deepening global Depression just began. It'll last years before ending, and cause grave harm to billions worldwide, not responsible for their leaders' malfeasance, especially those domiciled on Wall Street, complicit with political puppets in Washington they own.

Moreover, the greater pain caused, the more they benefit like their Western counterparts, wrecking their economies for personal gain.

No wonder astute analysts like Grantham expressed lack of confidence in America's leaders, disgust with a "dysfunctional Congress," and questioned "capitalism itself," perhaps self-destructing as he wrote.

For billions of global victims, it can't happen a moment too soon, if it isn't already too late to help.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago

The Hour Is Late

Stephen Hanson

20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8

(This prophetic word began with a vision of a person who was lying comfortably on their bed.  I watched as this person reached across the bed to turn off the alarm clock.  It was as if they had just hit the snooze button and then she went back to sleep.)

"I am speaking to my people in this hour.   I tell you that it is time to rise up from your slumber.  For many of have been lulled to sleep by the spirit of this age.  Many of you lie on your beds and you sleep away the hours.  You do not know the hour that it is.  For it is past the eleventh hour.  Behold.....look at the clock!

(The spirit of the Lord showed me the hands on the clock and there were just a couple of minutes left before the clock struck 12:00.)

Everyone around the world is always checking the time on your watches and clocks, but you don't know the hour that it is.  For indeed, your eyes have been blinded by these things.

For you have your cell phones and you have your appointment books and you plan for all the events of your day; but you don't plan for the hour that you are living in.  You can't see the events that are about to be played out.  I have chronicled all these things in my word.  I have said that nations would fall, and I have said that there would be wars and rumors of wars.  I have said that there would be famine and plagues.  And you are seeing one of the greatest famines in history as seen as people cross borders and attempt to go into another land.  You have heard and seen as mothers carry their children there.  You have seen of the callousness and the brutality that they face. You watch as many starve to death and die.  And then you see another round of political upheavals in the land that was once called the land of the free and the home of the brave.  You watch as these things play out.

I tell you that this earth is going through birth pangs, and she is tired of the struggles of centuries of wars and ruthless men.  But she is about to give birth.  For a spiritual battle is eminent.   For my last days' servants are coming upon the scene, and with the weapons of my warfare they will do battle against the enemy.  Are you ready for these events to play out?  I tell you that there will be upheavals upon this earth unlike any  you have experienced before.  The stage is set; the characters are about to take their parts in the play."

Stephen Hanson

Matt Damon for president? In US politics, they have seen crazier scripts

The line between Hollywood fame and political power is often blurred, so suggestions that the liberal actor might run can't be dismissed

    Paul Harris in New York

Even in the increasingly wild world of American politics, it seemed an especially crazy idea: Matt Damon for president? After all, the handsome actor, whose boyish good looks belie the fact that he has just turned 40, is still best known for his early role in Good Will Hunting, where he played a working-class Bostonian.

Since then, he has won plaudits in Hollywood for solid work in films ranging from action flicks to Invictus, which told the story of post-apartheid South Africa's rugby World Cup triumph.

So why is Damon's name being mentioned in the context of the 2012 race for the White House and a possible liberal challenge to Barack Obama? The simple answer is to blame leftwing firebrand Michael Moore.

Moore, in a discussion with the liberal politics blog Firedoglake, raised the issue as he talked about his frustration with Obama, who many American leftists see as ignoring them while compromising with the Republican party. Moore called Damon's political stances in recent years courageous and urged him to run, despite there being no hint from the actor himself that he would care to. In a nod to the acting past of two-time Republican President Ronald Reagan, Moore said: "The Republicans have certainly shown the way that when you run someone who is popular, you win. Sometimes even when you run an actor, you win."

The suggestion quickly spread across the media, generating a lot of chuckles as well as predictable outrage from conservative pundits. But the suggestion showed two things that are not so easily dismissed. First, quietly and with impressive charm, Damon has emerged as an eloquent and fierce spokesman for a slice of liberal America. On everything from the Iraq war to education policy, he has been happy to take a stand and, rather than praise the president, he has come out publicly to say Obama has "mishandled his mandate".

Second, it showed that America, more than any country in the world, has a fluid boundary between the worlds of entertainment and politics.

From Reagan to Clint Eastwood, Sonny Bono to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Al Franken and many more, the list of US actors and performers turned politicians is lengthy and even distinguished. "The kind of character that pursues an acting career in America is often the same kind of character that pursues a political career. You have to stand up and make people like you and be good on TV," said Professor Robert Thompson, a popular culture expert at Syracuse University. So, Matt Damon for president? In 2012, almost certainly not. But one day? You never know.

Damon is certainly no shallow celebrity, long on good looks but short on brains. The Massachusetts native may have chosen Hollywood as a career, but he is not an actor picking causes with carefully staged press conferences on subjects that no one could dislike, such as stopping African famine.

Instead, Damon has lent his high profile name to the distinctly unfashionable cause of the Working Families Party. The WFP is an obscure leftwing political party that exists as a sort of pressure group in New York state on Democrats and leftists in order to pursue progressive ideals. Attaching your name to the WFP is about as far from trendy as any Hollywood celebrity could get. Yet Damon has been a passionate advocate for the party, appearing in a 2010 campaign video for them in which he urged New Yorkers to shun the Democrats and vote for the WFP as a genuine leftwing alternative.

Damon has won the hearts of many liberals by criticising Obama over policy issues, and standing up for teachers. Speaking at a recent Save Our Schools march in Washington, DC, he angrily denied a reporter's suggestion that teachers were cosseted. "A teacher wants to teach. I mean, why else would you take a shitty salary, and really long hours, and do that job, unless you really love to do it?" he fumed. A video of the encounter went viral, with Damon being hailed a hero by teachers' groups.

Damon, like Sean Penn with Haiti and George Clooney with Darfur, is one of the few big names who can genuinely say they are activists, not just celebrity brands attached to a good cause. He founded the H2O Africa Foundation, which later became and which aims to bring clean water to disadvantaged people. He has been involved with Darfur. "Matt Damon seems like a real person on these things. He's running that whole water issue. That actually takes up a lot of his time," said Richard Laermer, a celebrity expert and author of the book 2011: Trendspotting. On a host of issues Damon has eloquently and publicly spoken on subjects dear to liberal hearts. He has slammed the recent debt-ceiling deal struck by Obama and the Republicans and called for rich people like himself to be taxed more. He has spoken against the Iraq war.

Perhaps one should not be surprised; Damon is highly educated. Though he eventually dropped out to pursue an acting career, he went to Harvard, where he studied English. His mother – who introduced him at the teachers' rally – is an education professor.

But, experts say, Hollywood has given him what is needed most: name recognition. "An actor has a precious thing in politics. People know who they are and they will pay attention when someone puts a microphone in front of them," said Syracuse's Thompson.

Indeed, that power can make a political career out of the unlikeliest of raw material. Look at how former pro wrestler Jesse Ventura became governor of Minnesota, or how comedian Franken became a senator from the same state and – perhaps most bizarre of all – how Schwarzenegger went from playing a killer robot from the future to being governor of California and responsible for one of the biggest economies on Earth.

The road between Hollywood and politics has also produced notable successes. Franken, a former stalwart of Saturday Night Live, has won plaudits for his seriousness as a politician. Schwarzenegger was seen as a joke when first elected, but he easily won a second term and became known for cutting-edge environmental policies. Most successful was Reagan, who went from a B-movie actor to being one of the most influential Republican presidents of the 20th century. Indeed, while most stars who dabble in public life are seen as "Hollywood liberals", some of the most successful, such as Reagan and Schwarzenegger, have been conservatives.

But the road to political power is not always easy for an actor. On the liberal side of the aisle, Warren Beatty was mentioned as someone who might run for president but never did. And among Republicans, the name of Fred Thompson stands as a salutary lesson in the limits of power. Few people have blurred the lines between acting and politics as much as Thompson, who combined his acting career with becoming a senator from Tennessee. He has played a US president on TV but when he ran for the Republican nomination in real life in 2008, his attempt was a disaster.

So, while Americans are tolerant of actors who want to be politicians, they do not write them a blank cheque. "Celebrity can be a blessing or a curse. You are able to get people to listen to you, but you need to have something they want to hear," said Robert Thompson.

Victory In Jesus

Amy Williams

 _"And the hearts of the people melted and became as water. Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the Lord until the evening, he and the elders of Israel. And they put dust on their heads."_ (Joshua 7:5-6)

 The ark of God's covenant in the Old Testament represents the presence of God. Joshua was in awe of God's word and "fell to his face". Do you have times of being low before God? Is there repentance? Too often we take matters into our own hands and we can be presumptuous.

 We need to be concerned for the Lord's honour, not our own reputation. Joshua had to confront people's sin when he found it, because it meant that God's glory wasn't with them. (Joshua 7:19-26). When there's 'sin in the camp', we won't know victory. We need to live in the light and be open to our brothers and sisters. Is there unconfessed sin in our life? We need to honour God above all else, and ensure that we don't have 'idols' - things we put before God.

_"And the Lord said to Joshua, "Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai… So Joshua and all the fighting men arose to go up to Ai._" (Joshua 8:1,3)

 Joshua was commanded by God to take his whole army, all the fighting men. We are soldiers in the Jesus Army, and it's better when we're all together. We need to ensure oneness among us. When Joshua circumcised the people, it was a renewal of covenant. (Joshua 5:2-3) It's important to re-affirm our vows - we re-affirmed our covenant vow recently at a Jesus Army celebration.

 Our lives are not our own - we are brought with a price. We need to have a reverence for the almighty God! As a church, we must guard against creating a 'natural' brotherhood - we must have godly respect for each other.

"And the Lord said to Joshua, 'See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and mighty men of valour.'" (Joshua 6:2)

 Jesus has the victory! If we trust in God, and hear from Him, we'll be successful.

The Christian Right's "Dominionist" Strategy

The emergence of Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann as top presidential candidates is a story 30 years in the making.

by Sarah Posner

An article in the Texas Observer last month about Texas Gov. Rick Perry's relationship with followers of a little-known neo-Pentecostal movement sparked a frenzied reaction from many commentators: Dominionism! Spiritual warfare! Strange prophecies!

All the attention came in the weeks before and after "The Response," Perry's highly publicized prayer rally modeled on what organizers believe is the "solemn assembly" described in Joel 2, in which "end-times warriors" prepare the nation for God's judgment and, ultimately, Christ's return. This "new" movement, the New Apostolic Reformation, is one strand of neo-Pentecostalism that draws on the ideas of dominionism and spiritual warfare. Its adherents display gifts of the spirit, the religious expression of Pentecostal and charismatic believers that includes speaking in tongues, prophecy, healing and a belief in signs, wonders and miracles. These evangelists also preach the "Seven Mountains" theory of dominionism: that Christians need to take control of different sectors of public life, such as government, the media and the law.

The NAR is not new, but rather derivative of charismatic movements that came before it. Its founder, C. Peter Wagner, set out in the 1990s to create more churches, and more believers. Wagner's movement involves new jargon, notably demanding that believers take control of the "Seven Mountains" of society (government, law, media and so forth), but that's no different from other iterations of dominionism that call on Christians to enter these fields so that they are controlled by Christians.

After Perry's prayer rally, Rachel Maddow featured a segment on her MSNBC show in which she warned,

    "The main idea of the New Apostolic Reformation theology is that they are modern day prophets and apostles. They believe they have a direct line to God ... the way that they're going to clear the way for it [the end of the world] is by infiltrating and taking over politics and government."

Maddow's ahistorical treatment of the NAR, however, overlooked several important realities. For anyone who has followed the growth of neo-Pentecostal movements, and in particular the coalition-building between the political operatives of the religious right and these lesser-known but still influential religious leaders, the NAR is just another development in the competitive, controversial, outrageous, authoritarian and often corrupt tapestry of the world of charismatic evangelists.

Before the NAR came along, plenty of charismatic leaders believed themselves to be prophets and apostles with a direct line to God. They wrote books about spiritual warfare, undergirded by conspiracy theories about liberals and Satan and homosexuality and feminism and more (my own bookshelves are filled with them). They preached this on television. They preached it at conferences. They made money from it. They all learned from each other.

Before the NAR, Christian right figures promoted dominionism, too, and the GOP courted these religious leaders for the votes of their followers. Despite a recent argument by the Daily Beast's Michelle Goldberg that "we have not seen this sort of thing at the highest levels of the Republican Party before," it's been there since at least 1980. Michele Bachmann is a product of it; so was Mike Huckabee. Ronald Reagan pandered to it; so did both Bushes; so does Perry.

In 2007, I saw Cindy Jacobs and other "apostles" lay hands on Shirley Forbes, wife of Rep. Randy Forbes, the founder of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, which boasts some Democrats as members and many of the GOP's leading lights. "You are going to be the mother of an army," they told Forbes, prophesying that she would "speak the power of the word into politics and government. Hallelujah!"

The idea that Christians have a sacred duty to get involved in politics, the law and media, and otherwise bring their influence to bear in different public spheres is the animating principle behind the religious right. If you attend a Values Voters Summit, the annual Washington confab hosted by the Family Research Council, you'll hear speakers urging young people to go into media, or view Hollywood as a "mission field." That's because they insist these institutions have been taken over by secularists who are causing the downfall of America with their anti-Christian beliefs.

A few days ago, the Washington Post's religion columnist, Lisa Miller, took Goldberg and Maddow to task for overhyping dominionism as a plot to take over the world. Miller, though, misses the boat, too, by neglecting to acknowledge and describe the infrastructure the religious right has built, driven by the idea of dominionism.

Oral Roberts University Law School, where Bachmann earned her law degree, was founded with this very notion in mind: to create an explicitly Christian law school. Herb Titus, the lawyer converted by Christian Reconstructionism who was instrumental in its launch, describes his mission in developing a Christian law school as a fulfillment of a "dominion mandate." After ORU was absorbed into Regent University in the 1980s, Titus was the mentor to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who last week was elevated to chair of the Republican Governors Association and is widely speculated to be a possible vice-presidential pick.

Christian Reconstructionists, and their acolytes of the Constitution Party, believe America should be governed by biblical law. In her 1995 book, "Roads to Dominion: Right Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States," Sara Diamond describes the most significant impact of Reconstructionism on dominionism:

    "the diffuse influence of the ideas that America was ordained a Christian nation and that Christians, exclusively, were to rule and reign." While most Christian right activists were "not well-versed in the arcane teachings" of Christian Reconstructionism, she wrote, "there was a wider following for softer forms of dominionism."

For the Christian right, it's more a political strategy than a secret "plot" to "overthrow" the government, even as some evangelists describe it in terms of "overthrowing" the powers of darkness (i.e., Satan), and even some more radical, militia-minded groups do suggest such a revolution. In general, though, the Christian right has been very open about its strategy and has spent a lot of money on it: in the law, as just one example, there are now two ABA-accredited Christian law schools, at Regent (which absorbed the ORU law school) and Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. There are a number of Christian law firms, like the Alliance Defense Fund, formed as a Christian counterweight to the ACLU. Yet outsiders don't notice that this is all an expression of dominionism, until someone from that world, like Bachmann, hits the national stage.

John Turner, University of South Alabama historian and author of "Bill Bright and the Campus Crusade for Christ: The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America," said that the NAR's "Seven Mountains" dominionism is "just a catchy phrase that encapsulates what Bright and many other evangelical leaders were already doing -- trying to increase Christian influence (they would probably use more militant phrases like 'capture') in the spheres of education, business and government."

Bright, like Perry's prayer cohorts, believed America was in trouble (because of the secularists) and needed to repent. One of the most well-known evangelicals in the country, Bright had agreed to let Virginia Beach preacher John Gimenez, a charismatic, organize the rally, despite evangelical discomfort with charismatic religious expression. In his book, Turner describes the Washington for Jesus rally of 1980:

    From the platform, Bright offered his interpretation of the source of the country's problems, asserting that "[w]e've turned from God and God is chastening us." "You go back to 1962 and [196]3 [when the Supreme Court banned school-sponsored prayer and Bible-reading]," Bright argued, "and you'll discovered a series of plagues that came upon America." Bright cited the Vietnam War, increased drug use, racial conflict, Watergate, and a rise in divorce, teenage pregnancy, and alcoholism as the result of those decisions. "God is saying to us," he concluded, "'Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!'" ... "Unless we repent and turn from our sin," warned Bright, "we can expect to be destroyed."

Unlike Perry's rally, Ronald Reagan the candidate wasn't present at the Washington for Jesus rally. At a 2007 gathering at his church, Gimenez recounted how he and Bright later met with President Reagan, and Bright told him, "You were elected on April 29, 1980, when the church prayed that God's will would be done."

In August 1980, though, after Reagan had clinched the nomination, he did appear at a "National Affairs Briefing" in Texas, where televangelist James Robison (also instrumental in organizing Perry's event) declared, "The stage is set. We'll either have a Hitler-type takeover, or Soviet domination, or God is going to take over this country." After Robison spoke, Reagan took the stage and declared to the 15,000 activists assembled by Moral Majority co-founder Ed McAteer, "You can't endorse me, but I endorse you."

That was also a big moment for Huckabee, who worked as Robison's advance man. It was even imitated by then-candidate Barack Obama, who met with a group of evangelicals and charismatics in Chicago and repeated Reagan's infamous line. Obama's group included publisher Stephen Strang (an early endorser of Huckabee's 2008 presidential bid) and his son Cameron, whose magazines Charisma and Relevant help promote the careers of the self-declared modern-day prophets and apostles. Huckabee appeared with Lou Engle at his 2008 The Call rally on the National Mall (like Perry's, billed as a "solemn assembly") in which Engle exhorted his prayer warriors to battle satanic forces to defeat "Antichrist legislation."

When I interviewed former Bush family adviser Doug Wead for my 2008 book, "God's Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters," he gave me a lengthy memo he compiled for George H.W. Bush in 1985, to prepare him for his 1988 presidential run. In the memo, he identified a thousand "targets," religious leaders across the country whose followers, Wead believed, could be mobilized to the voting booth.

In my book, I examined the theology and politics of the Word of Faith movement (also known as the prosperity gospel) and how Republicans cultivated the leading lights of the movement. Primarily because of television, but also because of the robust (and profitable) speaking circuit these evangelists maintain, they have huge audiences. All that was in spite of -- just as the scrutiny of NAR figures now is revealing -- outlandish, strange and even heretical theology. What's more, Word of Faith figures have endlessly been embroiled in disputes not just with their theological critics, but with watchdogs and former parishioners who charge they took their money for personal enrichment, promising that God would bring them great health and wealth if they would only "sow a seed."

At Gimenez's 2007 event, Engle and the other "apostles" were not the stars; rather, the biggest draw was Word of Faith televangelist Kenneth Copeland. In 1998, writing to Karl Rove, Wead called Copeland "arguably one of the most important religious leaders in the nation." At Gimenez's church, Copeland, who has boasted that his ministry has brought in more the $1 billion over his career, preached for two hours. The sanctuary was packed, with the audience hanging on every word. Gimenez introduced him as "God's prophet," and Copeland urged them to "get rid of the evening news and the newspaper," study "the uncompromised word of the Holy Ghost," and take "control over principalities."

The commenters who have jumped on the NAR frequently overstate the size of its following. Engle's events, for example, are often smaller than advertised, including a poorly attended revival at Liberty University in April 2010, where one would expect a ready-made audience. When I've covered these sorts of events, including smaller conferences by local groups inspired by figures they see on television, it's often hard to see how the often meandering preachers are going to take over anything, even while it's clear they cultivate an authoritarian hold on their followers. I meet a lot of sincere, frequently well-intentioned people who believe they must be "obedient" to God's word as imparted by the "prophets."

Most chilling, though, is the willingness to engage in what's known in the Word of Faith world as "revelation knowledge," or believing, as Copeland exhorted his audience to do, that you learn nothing from journalism or academia, but rather just from the Bible and its modern "prophets." It is in this way that the self-styled prophets have had their greatest impact on our political culture: by producing a political class, and its foot soldiers, who believe that God has imparted them with divine knowledge that supersedes what all the evil secularists would have you believe.


By Tom Degan

Let me tell you how it will be

There's one for you nineteen for me

"Cause I'm the Taxman

Yeah I'm the Taxman"

-- George Harrison

If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would have thought it to be a work of darkly twisted, comical fiction. But it wasn't. In fact, it was all too real. During a Friday morning appearance on C-SPAN's Washington Journal, a pathetic shill-boy from the Heritage Foundation named Robert Rector was being interviewed by a moderator who miraculously managed to keep a straight face throughout. I almost spit out my coffee sitting there listening to this fool vomiting out the latest right wing talking point which was this: The poverty stricken in America have got a really sweet deal. According to this loathsome twit, a high percentage of poor people in this country are in the possession of "luxury items" that poor people just shouldn't posses. I'll give you two examples of what he was referring to. Are you ready for this???

Refrigerators and air conditioners!

How the hell is a family expected to store food (which we all need in order to live as you know) without a freakin' refrigerator? And air conditioning? A luxury??? In a lethally hot summer -- not unlike the one we're experiencing at this moment -- an air conditioner is all that stands between life and death-by-dehydration for a lot of people, the elderly in particular. Maybe the poor can compromise. Maybe they can spend those long, hot summer nights taking turns sitting inside the fridge. Then again, maybe not.

Here's another statistic Mr. Rector is whining about: 63 percent of the "poor" (Fox Noise now puts that word in quotation marks) have cable television. Didn't this guy get the memo? You can't get television reception with an antenna anymore. They no longer work. They've become as obsolete as 8-Track tapes and CB radios! Cable TV is no longer an option if you want reception, it's mandatory. Poor people are like most of us. They rely on television, not only for their entertainment, but for their news and information as well. They really shouldn't, (no one should) but they do.

TV also keeps the kids indoors. While that may not be such a healthy thing, if you live in Bel Air or Palm Beach, or in high crime neighborhoods (where poor people tend to dwell for some silly reason), it's a lot more preferable to being outside, getting some "fresh air" while dodging a stray bullet or two. I wonder what the poverty/cable percentages were before the airwaves went digital? Much lower, no doubt. Obviously none of these factors were given a great deal of thought by Rector or any of the geniuses over there at the Heritage Foundation.

And it's not just Robert Rector who is mouthing this kind of nonsense. In recent weeks, Republican politicians and conservative talking heads have been dropping ominous hints as to what's in store for this diseased country if the American people are stupid enough to ever again hand over all three branches of their government to that disgusting party. You see, the poor (or "the moocher class" as some reprehensi ble piece-of-sh*t on Fox Noise referred to them last week) don't pay any taxes. Therefore, instead of extracting badly-needed revenue from a class of people who already have more money than they'll ever be able to spend in a lifetime, the party of the plutocracy plans on taking from that other class of people, most of whom barely get by: the poor, not just the working class - not just the vanishing middle class, mind you - the poor. Was this a great country or what?

According to these plutocratic handmaidens, the tax code simply isn't fair. People who live at or below the poverty level have to start chipping in! A family of four making $22,000 a year (or less) will have to shell out to the feds. Can you believe that? Think about it. That single mother who barely scratches out a living assembling Big Macs at the McDonald's down the street? If these people have their way, she will now have to send a check (assuming she has a checking account) to the IRS every April 15. Of course that will mean she and others in her income bracket will have a lot less money to pump back into this already-feeble economy -- a fact that apparently has not been taken into consideration by the knuckleheads who govern us.

And they call us "elitists!"

First of all, let me dispel the myth they just love to propagate as fact: that the poor pay no taxes. Everybody pays taxes. The eight-year-old kid who walks down to the corner store to purchase an Almond Joy candy bar pays taxes. Remember that the next time you pay $4.31 for a $3.99 pint of Nicolai Vodka. Do you wonder why cigarettes are now over ten dollars a pack in certain states? It isn't really that difficult to figure out. The wealthy in this country are not contributing their share to the maintenance of society. Certain corporations are not contributing at all! Revenue is badly needed. Most smokers are not rich, and the ones who are can afford to pay ten bucks a pack. Cigarettes are so addictive that they know the smoker, no matter how poor, has a serious nicotine jones and will pay whatever needs to be paid to get his or her fix. It really is a no-brainer if you think about it.

"I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."

Jesus of Nazareth
Matthew 25:45

Let's not let scripture's inconvenient truth get in the way of the agendas of these hypocrites.

We are now living in a plutocratic dictatorship.

Oh, what the hell. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, as the old adage goes. Besides, it's about time those obnoxious poor people start paying their fair share of the tax burden. Screw those people. They've had it far too damned easy for far too damned long. They've got it made in the shade! What with not having to worry about monthly mortgages, health insurance payments, country club dues and where to invest their quarterly dividends, it's about time those wretched freaks learn a thing or two about the real world, baby! The day of reckoning is upon them. The lazy and irresponsible "moocher class" has to tighten their cardboard belts.

They say that they can't afford to be taxed? They say that they have utility bills to pay and children to feed? They say the rent and automobile insurance is overdue? No problemo, amigo! Back in the golden age of Charles Dickens and human bondage, they had a place for worthless, deadbeat folks like that: Debtors Prison! It's high time we bring that institution back into being. Of course, it goes without saying that those prisons will be privately owned by corporations -- corporations that will be able to anonymously donate untold sums to corrupt politicians who will then pass even harsher punitive laws, laws that will make goddamned sure that those prisons are filled to utter capacity forever and ever. They will then build more prisons -- and more and more and more -- to keep up with the growing demand. Until finally there will be only two classes left in this sick country: The ruling class and the prison class.

That dripping noise you hear off in the distance is the sound of the Koch brothers drooling. Oh, and speaking of the Koch brothers:

"Much of what the government spends money on does more harm than good. This is particularly true over the past several years with the massive uncontrolled increase in government spending. I believe my business and non-profit investments are much more beneficial to societal well-being than sending more money to Washington."
-- Charles Koch, as quoted two days ago on the exquisitely subversive website AlterNet

Brothers Charles and David Koch are billionaires many times over. Unlike most multi-billionaires, who have more money than they possibly know what to do with, the Kochs know damned well what to do with their fortune. They're working overtime to ensure that America's middle class is destroyed. They don't merely want most of America's wealth and treasure - THEY WANT IT ALL! Would you like them to have it? Then vote for the Republican party next year. You'll deserve everything that happens to you.

Tom Degan

Flow Mighty River, Flow

Dylan Oakle

Recently we stayed with friends on a 1500 acre farm in central Queensland. What a place to get away from the noise and busyness of modern life! On the way to their farm, we drove through the Callide Valley and I was struck with how dry and dusty and barren the land looked. I imagined how the wild animals must pursue water in that unforgiving environment.
Without a doubt, our nation is experiencing a desert-like environment when it comes to the sweet flow of God´s Spirit. And like those animals in the Callide Valley, there are so many people desperately looking for a water source that might quench their thirst and impart life. Not knowing any better, many look for satisfaction in the devil´s paltry offerings. They seek satisfaction in empty entertainment, alluring drugs and alcohol, soul-destroying sexual pursuits, and ever-demanding materialism – all are cruel mirages that promise so much and deliver only disappointment. There is only one thing that satisfies the human spirit and that is drinking in and enjoying God´s presence.
As the world system fails and people become increasingly desperate for life-giving water, they will come looking to us. Our outreaches and gatherings and churches may be the last roll of the dice for burnt-out, disillusioned travellers. And so it is essential that we truly are the oases they are looking for – springs that gush forth with the sweet rivers of revival that transform dying souls into brand new men and women! Reservoirs that offer living water and where Jesus Christ is seen and heard and His grace and power are not obscured by dead religion. The rivers that flow from Jesus are sweet and they revive! And when one life is mightily touched and transformed by the power of God, many more lives are impacted as a result. In John 4, Jesus gave living water to a woman he met at a well and so off she went and brought the whole town back to get some!
There is a mighty rushing river about to flow in this nation, it will come like a flash flood. It is the sweet Spirit of God, the anointing that scares the devil to his core. He remembers being messed up by it when Jesus walked the earth and defeated him at the Cross and he remembers his kingdom being plundered when the early church walked in that same anointing. And ever since, the devil has been broadsided when the anointing flows. It´s the river of life that makes the lame to walk and the blind to see, that opens prison doors and sets the captives free. And it´s about to flow again in a mighty way for the healing of the nations, to the praise and glory of God!
Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people I have formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise. (Isaiah 43:19-21)

Five-Fold Today Archives

The Lord has given Christians the grace to reconcile the children to their Fathers

As One Body

  • We prepare for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb
  • Harvest the Fruit of the Latter Rain
  • Follow Him as the Army of the Lord into His Glory

Help To Prepare A Holy Bride!

Issue Oriented Discussion Newsletter

Index | Search This Site | Aristide.Org | The Latter Rain | Babylon the Great | The Kingdom | The Nicolaitans | Jezebel
The Baptism With the Holy Ghost | The Grand Delusion | World Trade Org | Liberation Theology | Jay Atkinson | Alphabetical Index