June 30, 2011

Rick Perry calls us all to a Christian prayer

This is, as Sully says, "Christianism," rather than Christianity. This is so inappropriate, and so much pandering to right wing fundamentalism that it makes me a little ill. And that says nothing about the fact that some of the things he is talking about aren't spiritual problems at all--they are about political choices. And this from the guy refusing to raise taxes while he cuts funding for poor kids. Fuck that.

Christianism Watch - The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan - The Daily Beast

June 29, 2011

President Obama Demands Action From House GOP on Jobs, Taxes | TPMDC

President Obama Demands Action From House GOP on Jobs, Taxes | TPMDC:
"He repeatedly framed the debate in class terms, accusing the GOP of shielding the rich and powerful from sacrifices while demanding more hardship for poor and middle-class Americans.

'Before we ask our seniors to pay more for Medicare, before we cut our children's schools, we should ask corporate jet owners to pay more,' he said. 'I don't think that's real radical. I think the majority of Americans agree with that.'"

June 28, 2011

Michele Bachmann is our Fundy Troll

Well, probably not, but she is just as dumb, and the GOP, true to form, looks poised to give us someone even dumber than Sarah Palin and George Bush? Is that even possible?

But in this great list of Michele Bachmann stupidity, there is this gem on evolution:
"'Where do we say that a cell became a blade of grass, which became a starfish, which became a cat, which became a donkey, which became a human being? There’s a real lack of evidence from change from actual species to a different type of species. That's where it's difficult to prove.'"
You know what? That is difficult to prove. That missing link between a blade of grass and a starfish--or that other tricky evolutionary stage where donkeys become humans.

Seriously, does the GOP now just consciously look for the dumbest candidates they can find? Or do they just tap Pat Robertson's graduates without looking?

June 27, 2011

June 24, 2011

God caught backing three different GOP candidates

Hat tip to Smitty for this insightful satire on those who claim to hear God's voice. Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Michele Bachmann all claim that God is telling them to run, so he obviously is pulling for them. I wonder how that will work out in the debates.
God hasn't been universally generous with his support. He went out of his way to let Mike Huckabee know that he shouldn't run for president, lest he take his focus off the much more important task of producing a series of conservative American history DVDs. And though God arranged for Sarah Palin to be chosen as John McCain's running mate in 2008, there's nothing to indicate that he backs her potential candidacy in 2012. Nevertheless, the fact that God has privately encouraged the candidacies of three different Republicans may cause voters to question whether, in reality, he really even has any preference at all.

God could not be reached for comment by press time, because, a spokesman says, he was helping a baseball player hit a game-winning home run, giving an old churchgoing lady the winning lottery numbers, making sure that a plane made it through the turbulence okay, helping someone survive a heart attack, and also, just for fun, creating a new animal that's like a cross between a leopard and an alligator.

Conservatives used to be rooted in reality

And used to be cautious. That is a point that Sullivan has made many times--that a Burkean conservative would not dismantle the welfare state willy-nilly, because that would be disastrous.

But the point about being rooted in reality and facts, and being suspicious of theory is Zakaria's best point in How Conservatism Lost Touch with Reality - TIME. This is not new to us, but a good rundown of where conservatives simply ignore reality in favor of what they want to be true.
"Many Republican businessmen have told me that the Obama Administration is the most hostile to business in 50 years. Really? More than that of Richard Nixon, who presided over tax rates that reached 70%, regulations that spanned whole industries, and who actually instituted price and wage controls?

In fact, right now any discussion of government involvement in the economy — even to build vital infrastructure — is impossible because it is a cardinal tenet of the new conservatism that such involvement is always and forever bad. Meanwhile, across the globe, the world's fastest-growing economy, China, has managed to use government involvement to create growth and jobs for three decades. From Singapore to South Korea to Germany to Canada, evidence abounds that some strategic actions by the government can act as catalysts for free-market growth."

The list is really endless, actually. Support for abstinence only even though study after study shows that it doesn't work as well as comprehensive sex ed. Or denial of climate change or evolution simply because they don't like what those might mean.

I would welcome a debate with conservatives who have both feet in reality. Watching the debate on taxation is like pushing through fog. Even though our taxes are at a historic low, every Republican bitches about how high our taxes are.

Is privatization the answer to our economic woes?

So say many of the far right. Government is evil, after all, and incompetent, while private enterprise is governed by the invisible hand. This fundamentalist view of the market never ceases to amaze me, even when that "invisible hand" put kids in mines. Those same conservatives won't even acknowledge that government was the entity that got those kids out of mines.

But back to the fundamentalist market. If the free market is always better than government, then it stands to reason that private prisons would be more efficient than public. But as this report suggests, those private prisons mean that they are always pushing for more customers. More laws that put people in prison, after all, makes those private prisons that much more profitable. What goal would those private prisons have for reducing recidivism, or even encouraging release for good behavior. Those social goods would cost them money.


And apropos of our conversation in the last thread, Republicans are bragging about the fact that raising taxes is a non-starter. McConnell laughs at the idea and Boehner explicitly says that it won't happen, because we don't have a "revenue problem." That just annoys the crap out of me, as we see more and more calls for the poor to sacrifice, but no calls for the same for the wealthy. On the contrary, they want them to get more in tax breaks.

Obviously I have been reading TPM this morning, but another of their stories caught my eye on this topic. The CBO actually projects that if we allowed the Bush cuts to finally expire, kept the ACA intact and allowed it to do its work--that the deficit would gradually disappear.

June 21, 2011

Why do Republicans only ask the poor to sacrifice?

I understand asking people to do more with less. I get the idea of tightening our belt. But why is it that conservatives only want to ask those who can least afford it to tighten their belts, but tell the richest people that they will actually be more rich?

Growing Chorus Of Republicans Demand Social Security Cuts In Deficit Deal | TPMDC

June 17, 2011

Dogs and humans

SOF found this great story about how dogs are cued to our facial expressions, and we both thought that we didn't need a study to prove that. We have watched our dogs respond to our emotions and our expressions, and our language. I always remember fondly that Alafair would leave the room if I used the f-bomb. She was so sweet.

This week I have been thinking a lot about my animal friends and missing Streak more than I expected. Last night, we went to dinner at our favorite Thai place. A couple came and ordered takeout, and the husband stayed outside because they had a bird. She said it was an African Gray and was considered one of the smartest birds in the world--with the vocabulary of a 2 or 3 year old child. I watched in amazement as the man cuddled the bird in his hands and talked to him. It was incredibly sweet. She invited us to come out and meet the bird and I realized that I was nearly in tears. I saw in that relationship the one we had with Streak and just missed him so intensely.

While we have always said that Grace was no replacement for Streak, I think in the back of my brain, there was this sense that she filled a hole for us. And she has. She has been wonderful. Today, I took them on a quick walk and we went past a house where one of the neighborhood cats lives, and always comes out to see us. Lemon always loved Streak and would just rub up against him. Grace has quickly learned Lemon's house and today laid down on the lawn to await him. She is so smart, and just so sweet.

But I still miss my friend.

June 14, 2011

On exceptionalism

A thoughtful post from Smitty on exceptionalism:
"How unfortunate that today much religion seems to be a force for making people unexceptional, for making them part of a rather unimaginative and uneducated crowd. Spiritually and theologically we are being 'dumbed down' in our outlook and perspective. Jesus took exception with those who were judgmental, but today faith seems to have become the means for exercising a severe judgmentalism. Jesus took exception with those who were violent, but how many times have we heard our nation's war-making justified on religious grounds?"

Pink is for Girls

Or maybe not. Certainly not always, as Natalie shows very clearly. Couple of interesting things here. One is the consumerism that drives much of our cultural discussions, and two is the sense that so many people assume that what is has always been. We can see that in a lot of areas, which makes teaching history so damn interesting.

June 12, 2011

We love the Ten Commandments--but hate the foreigner

Fred does a great job of connecting those two threads in how Alabama both embraces the symbols of God, but then take pride in their turning away the alien and the outsider. I am not sure I am ready to say that God hates this kind of law--as Fred does--because I am loathe to speak for God. But he makes a great point.

But further, and speaking to older threads about Republicans embracing cruelty, he reminds us that they decided that "empathy" was bad.
That word empathy has, astonishingly, been turned into a partisan and contentious term. That’s astonishing because it required one group of people to surrender their claim to it — to voluntarily position themselves as being against the idea of our shared humanity. That stance is so outlandish that it leaves me gasping and grasping for a response. I’m not eager to accuse an entire political party of being sociopaths, but what can one say when members of that party, unchallenged by their fellows, rush forward unprompted to declare themselves proud enemies of empathy and proud advocates of sociopathy? They’re accusing themselves of something truly appalling, should we take them at their word? Or should we patiently attempt to explain that this isn’t really something that anyone wants to say about themselves, even while they push an agenda increasingly demonstrating that maybe in their case it is?

Sunday thoughts

Just returned from another hour of puppy training. Very helpful, but I must say that we are all exhausted. It might be the sinus infection I am fighting for me, but trying to get a rambunctious border collie to behave in a Petsmart is the other part, I am sure. Have to rest up, though because tonight we get to see David Olney and Sergio Webb at a house concert.


The conversation with Andy was also exhausting, perhaps because I have less patience with fundamentalism than I once did. But my last comment pretty much summed up my frustration with any of the "Bible said it, I believe it, and that does it" crowd. As I noted, when the Bible says homosexuality is bad, there is no discussion of motives, no parsing of context, no suggestion of language barriers. It is just assumed to be iron-clad law. But when the Bible says that being wealthy is bad, and even an impediment to God--that is prone to interpretation. It is only when you love money more than God--though who the hell admits that? Or when the Bible says that we are to love our enemies, the fundies, to a person, don't think that includes terrorists or really dangerous people. Surely Jesus didn't intend that we actually "turn the other cheek," right?

And to be fair, I have no clue. I think that we live in a far more complex economic system to conclude that charging interest is evil. And I have no intention of letting a terrorists kill me in my house if I have other choices. But neither am I convinced that either Genesis is a scientific or historical document, nor that the sexual norms of an ancient tribal society are exactly the same as ours, or should be.

But if we are going to parse some of it, then insisting on absolutism for the part that doesn't effect you? That is just self-centered and inconsistent.


Ok, one more question. Conservatives constantly say that cutting taxes on the rich helps the economy (always) because those rich people then invest in companies that create jobs and increase our tax revenue. Well, I think they are actually lying about the last part, and that they don't even intend for it to increase revenue, but that is another question. But about the job creation and investment, why do we always assume that the rich will invest that money here? Why do we think automatically that their investment dollars won't go to China or India?

June 10, 2011


Everything I read tells me that our nation's inequality is growing. Saw this on twitter tonight:
According to Barron's, real family incomes have fallen 2% since 2000 while corporate profits have increased 70% over the same span #fb
I went to check the Barron's site and this story is behind a paywall, but this matches every other study that I have seen.

What puzzles me is why this is not a concern for so many conservatives? Do they simply not believe it to be true?

Conclusion shopping--conservatives and bad thinking

Saw yesterday that not only is Rick Perry thinking about running for President (since Newt is crashing and burning), but he is also pandering like crazy to the religious right by endorsing this prayer concert or whatever the hell it is.
Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.

There is a lot that bothers me about this. First and foremost is the intermingling of politics and prayer, but more troubling to me is the bad thinking. I am reminded of how people processed the Minneapolis bridge collapse, or even the Japanese nuclear disaster--with many referring to them as "acts of God." They weren't. They were the products of human choice. The absolute same can be said about the debt crisis. This is not some act of God which humans are helpless to solve--it is the clear result of bad political decisions. Bad spending choices, and bad tax policy combine together to give us a debt crisis. If I were so arrogant to say what God thinks, I would speculate that he is looking at this and thinking, "fix it yourself. You created it."

I would actually argue that conservatives are mired in nothing but bad thinking right now. Facts seem to matter not at all to them. Facts about climate change, evolution, supply side economics--none of those things actually seem to penetrate the fundamentalist brain. All that matters is what you believe. When you believe that God can or should fix the debt crisis, you do, and you don't listen to mere mortals who point out that people like Rick Perry take federal money to shore up their budgets, while they cut taxes and cut programs for the poor and the sick. Facts, facts. Blah blah blah blah. What matters is what I believe, not what I actually know.

I was thinking about that yesterday when I read this story about Paul Ryan actually suggesting that we should default as a country (for the first time since America first borrowed money in the 1790s) in order to get our economic house in order. I have to say that I am really starting to question Ryan's intelligence. Either he is stupid or he is malevolently destructive.

But inside that Republican narrative is a fascinating bit of bad thinking. Several months ago, no one of Ryan's rank would suggest default was a possibility. That was left to the fringe. But a few financial people suggested it--just a few--and it took off among the wingnut right. The vast majority of thinking people think that defaulting is not only not conservative, but downright irresponsible. But Ryan and his idiots found one or two people to say it was ok to do--and that becomes their reality.

That is exactly how these same people process evolution and climate change. The vast majority of scientists who study these issues believe that evolution is fact and that humans are contributing greatly to our climate change. But the right finds one or two scientists who question, and those one or two become their reality. I would suggest that is a very stupid way to process complex issues, and a horrible way to formulate public policy.

But, as I said, when all that really matters is what you want to believe, then facts and evidence really don't matter. And that is sad--or would be sad if it weren't so damn dangerous.

June 8, 2011

Why won't evangelicals address torture?

Because I am off for a bit, perhaps, and trying to keep Gracie from eating stuff she shouldn't (remote control--saved, checkbook cover--chewed, leash for Abbie--chewed, toilet paper roll--shredded) I have been thinking about my evangelical past. That, and I have been working with our electric company to get our service line buried and have found their customer service to, well, suck.

So over the last few years, I have reconnected with a few people from my evangelical past--all through the glories of Facebook. Man, what a ride. From reconnecting to a former girlfriend, only to find out that she thought torture was ok, because of the "torture that the families of lost service men and women experience," or mad about healthcare because she honestly thought it meant her paying for the healthcare of the person next door who bought a 300,000 dollar house instead of healthcare. Or the guy from my church league basketball team who turned out to be one of the bigger assholes I had ever met--complete with bashing any government spending and regulation all while living in a suburb of Dallas built with government dollars.

Those were the negative ones. The others have been mostly benign. But when some of them have challenged my liberalism, or made snide comments on my wall, I have emailed them questions. Nicely, mind you, but I have asked them questions about why the people who helped me form my moral world view seem to have little to no problem with torture? Or why they believe that God created the world in 7 literal days, but have no problem with humans trying to destroy that creation? Or why, as people called to help the poor, they vote for policies that clearly help the rich, and demonize the poor.

All of these questions I have asked, in addition to asking anyone to give me an example of Sarah Palin acting in a manner other than a vindictive bitch.

Nothing. Well, not nothing. From one, I got a grudging acknowledgement that torture was mostly wrong. But the terrorists are worse, he said.

The rest? Empty echo chamber. People who routinely post Bible verses can't answer a simple question of why they voted for torture enablers and why they have no problem voting for people who still defend torture. Or a simple question of what the poor and elderly are supposed to do when Paul Ryan's budget is put into law.

Evangelical Christians--if you want me to even come close to respecting a group of Christians who have been miserably wrong on race and torture and gender equality--then you better actually figure out a way to make a cogent argument. And you better figure out that might include atoning for supporting torture. Or segregation.

Otherwise, spare me.

June 6, 2011

Today's GOP

Couple of points. First, any of them who like Sarah Palin need to see a therapist. Ditto that if they are conservative Christians who say they vote by Christian values. I have a challenge out there for anyone to show me an example of Palin treating anyone with Christian values who is not one of her supporters. When I get some proof of that, I will rethink the idea that she is a resentful, mean-spirited bitch.

Second, I mostly hear from conservatives that racism is an old issue. The fact (as Monk brings up often) that the Southern strategy was where the GOP started appealing to southern racists in an effort to shore up the South is irrelevant, in their minds. Just as many people note wryly, that there are no racists any more--no one wants to see themselves as racists--then no current Republicans will even acknowledge the open racism of their Confederate flag support, or the on again, off again support for "state's rights," or their support for Conservative Citizens Councils (once just openly White Citizens Councils). And now, with no racism intended, I am sure (blerg), southern states are doing everything they can to make voting harder. For people who believe our system is perfect, it is amazing how little faith they have in actual democracy.

June 3, 2011

History #AccordingtoPalin

Let's see if this works. You probably have heard that Sarah Palin was caught explaining that Paul Revere did his ride (very noisily according to her) to stop the British from taking away our guns. This has spurred some very funny twitter traffic, which you should be able to see here. Otherwise, just search twitter for #AccordingtoPalin.

Democrats and faith

Monk, Steve and I have an interesting conversation the comments, but I thought this was worth raising in a separate post. Monk and Steve both have suggested that Democrats have done a bad job of reaching out to religious people. But I argue that they have reached out as best they could, given the political realities and philosophical differences.

After all, how do Democrats--trying to emphasize separation of Church and State, while also downplaying the need to elect Christians to office, all while emphasizing social justice themes--fair taxation, help for the poor, protection for the environment, etc. How do you do that AND reach out specifically to people of faith? Are they not reaching out to people interested in those themes already?

I argue that Republicans are able to do that because their base believes that Christians are morally superior, and therefore have a monopoly on faith and morality. Their base also believes that Christians should rule, and that our country should be considered a Christian one. But Democrats don't believe either of those things.

Samuel Johnson was wrong: "Faithful" is the last refuge of a scoundrel

Ralph Reed: "Prayerfully," Faithful Are Going To Win 2012 | TPMDC

June 2, 2011

Quote of the day

‎"Why do republicans get to claim God and religion as their own when their policies go against 1000 years of traditions such as healing the sick and helping the poor.." Thom Hartmann

June 1, 2011

Ralph Reed--scumbag

Why is it that the party that likes to talk about moral values the most is the same one where being a lying, cheating, scumbag is no barrier to success?

GOP Presidential Candidates Sign Up For Ralph ‘Corporate Humper’ Reed’s Conference | ThinkProgress

Wednesday roundup

I know this is a common refrain from me, but I am still incredibly annoyed at how many conservative Christians are far more conservative than Christian. I think of a distant relative-in-law who stopped talking to me because I supported Obama. If I were an atheist who hated Obama, I suspect he would have no problem talking to me.

But it is even more disheartening when the leadership of the SBC gets it so wrong. Not surprising, mind you, but still disheartening because I know there are many Southern Baptists who listen to these people. Not all, as they are a group that doesn't emphasize that kind of loyalty, but many--especially in the south listen to idiots like Robert Jeffress who most recently took potshots at Obama's faith. Jeffress, much like Franklin Graham, is a political hack, not a man of God.

But what bothers me even more than people like Jeffress saying this, is that I know that a good part of the GOP faithful will just shrug it off--if they don't agree openly. Just as they shrug off the sociopathic Bachmann, or the equally twisted Sarah Palin. Palin, mind you, just cheered the smell of emissions at a motorcycle rally the same day that a new report shows that our production of CO2 went up dangerously this last year. Very hard to take people seriously who on Sunday preach a literal creation story and on Tuesday vote to destroy that same creation. Very hard.


Speaking of Palin, she is on her bus tour. If you haven't seen a picture of the bus, it has her signature, a picture of the Constitution, and images of America. Everyone assumes this means she is running for President next year, and that would not completely surprise me. But there is, as the whore Mike Huckabee voiced, more money to be had if you are a pundit for Fox, and I would be surprised if Palin left that money on the table. Further, a Andy Borowitz keeps joking, if she runs, Palin would have to actually think about governing. I think his funniest tweet on this was something like, "the question isn't if Palin is going to run, it is who will replace her when she quits in 2014."

We can put Palin in that category of people who disappoint me, but not nearly as the people who follow her.


Finally, a thoughtful discussion on taxes by our favorite conservative, Bruce Bartlett. Republicans continue to act as if our taxes are too high, when they are clearly not.