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Chris Lehmann

Chris Lehmann

Most Recently: Dick Joke

Dick Joke

Oh dear, here we go again: “Wall Street is a meritocracy, for the most part,” an irate but of course unnamed onetime Citigroup executive confides to junior father confessor Gabriel Sherman in this week’s hallucinatory New York magazine cover story, “The Emasculation of Wall Street.” “If someone has a bonus, it’s because they’ve created value for their institution.” READ MORE

What Can Confession Mean Now?

The determined forays of hallowed Western faith traditions into the digital-media world rarely produce a non-embarrassing outcome. There are your teen-themed “Bible-zine” translations. There are your evangelical trade shows. There are your media churches. But the recent news that the Catholic Church was launching a quasi-official confession app on the iPhone was something else again—and not just because it got snapped up in the related Maureen Dowd column-generating software. READ MORE

How Sarah Palin Tortures the Bible

With her usual vacuous brio, Sarah Palin has seized another news cycle, using an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network to attack the Obama administration for failing to do, well, something she’d vaguely like to be done about the political crisis in Egypt. The half-term former Alaska governor assailed White House diplomacy hands for withholding reliable information about the nature of the protests and for their inability to clearly telegraph the next moves the United States will pursue in the suddenly unstable Middle East. The potential risks, she warned, are dire indeed. Washington urgently needs to determine just “who it will be that fills now the void in the government” in Egypt, she explained: "Is it going to be the Muslim Brotherhood? We should not stand for that, or with that or by that. Any radical Islamists, no, that is not who we should be supporting and standing by, so we need to find out who was behind all of the turmoil and the revolt and the protests." READ MORE

Americans Get Hysterical: Oh No, a New Radical Muslim Egypt!

There are countless reasons that the makers of U.S. policy have been caught flatfooted by the uprising in Egypt. As is often the case in human affairs, the most compelling reason is also the basest: We spend $1.2 billion in Egypt to provide “security” and support for U.S. interests in the Middle East—and all that money buys both parties the privilege of looking the other way as the sclerotic Mubarak regime grew more unresponsive to a restive democratic oppostion. READ MORE

For Your Own Good: Chipping Away at 'Roe'

The Supreme Court’s historic Roe v. Wade decision turned 38 last week, and regardless of one’s ultimate view of the issue, the legal right to abortion on demand is clearly in the throes an awkward middle age. READ MORE

The Growth of a Pentecostal Congress

It’s hard to say in what, exactly, our elected representatives believe. Oh, this Congress got all sorts of attention for running, and winning, on a tea partyish platform of ideological purity, but when it comes to belief belief—in the cosmic stuff, last things and first scriptural principles—they’re a distinctly squishy bunch. READ MORE

Long Distance Projection: Believers Making Sense of Jared Lee Loughner

Truly senseless acts make for poor sloganeering. Jared Lee Loughner, the gunman who killed six people at a Tucson congressional town meeting, while gravely wounding his apparent target, Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, seems to have been not at all working from any traditional set of motivations. His now-infamous cache of YouTube videos throws around theories of a new currency and the illegitimate seizure of private property, together with a barely intelligible discussion of himself as a terrorist. He also announced plans to introduce a new number and letter to the alphabet, both represented as bursts of incoherent scribbling—a fair depiction, it seems, of the thought process involved in producing these conceptual breakthroughs. Loughner also described himself as a “conscience dreamer,” though it’s unclear whether he meant that as a sideways indictment of the absence of ethical probity in American life, or simply couldn’t spell “conscious.” READ MORE

The Roberts Court: Five Easy Pro-Business Terms

In the passing convulsions of partisan government, it’s easy for our corporate lieges to depict themselves as victims. There’s always some legislative push, or Congressional leader, to bedeck with alarmist rhetoric about the “tax-and-spend” set in Washington—even as these same clever professional victims harness the supine Congress to tamp down the estate tax, extend regressive tax cuts and ensure that the regulatory state keeps weighing the financial industry’s various roulette wheels in the house’s favor. READ MORE

The Secretive Men of ICE

Apart from the sinister specter of socialism, the most common complaint raised against increased federal oversight of our financial markets is that it empowers aloof bureaucrats to “pick winners and losers” on Wall Street, and therefore defiles the essence of free-market competition. READ MORE

The Privatization of Water

Who says wealth doesn’t trickle down? As the nation’s redundant masses tremble, Oliver-Twist-style, before the spectacle of a Democratic-run Congress deciding whether merely to reward quarter-millionaires or the full-scale kind with lavish tax cuts, they might do well to consult the sobering tale of billionaire enclosure of central California’s water supply. It’s hard to see just how the nation’s owning classes will produce additional helpings of gruel (or at least low-wage service-sector jobs) if they’re so deeply averse to spreading around something as essential to agriculture, health and sanitation as water. READ MORE