August 29, 2011

Freedom Bible

No really. You can get your copy today (h/t to Greg). Though you can also get an American Patriot's Bible. My favorite comment in this one?
If you didn't think that God had a role in America you need this Bible. It will give you the answers on how God influenced our Country.

Christianity as consumer good. And I kind of get that. If you make Bibles, and run Bible stores, you need more versions. One isn't enough. And what better way to capitalize on tragedy like 9-11 or to profit from the people following Rick Perry than to put out a Holy Bible that is themed around your agenda. Brilliant.

I am telling you, we are closer and closer each day to a pain reliever ad featuring Jesus on the cross. Everything is for sale, and, in this case, Christians seem to be eager to sell it.

Nothing is worth raising taxes

Even a major hurricane. Meanwhile, FEMA is running on empty with funds and so has had to cancel projects in Missouri rebuilding roads and buildings destroyed by that massive tornado.

This is what happens when one major party has decided, like small, bigoted children, to never raise taxes, even for the things that we all say we value. You want to help someone harmed by a major disaster? Take away the assistance for that disabled person first, or we won't help. Or stop helping that other community first.

Whatever you do, don't ask the super rich to pay a cent more in taxes. Not one red cent. Because, of course, the Republican party now is starting to believe that the working poor are the ones who are truly under-taxed. The working poor are the new "welfare queens," who are leaching off the "job creator" class.

This is disgusting politics, but it is also horrible economics. Those at the bottom who don't pay income taxes pay plenty in other taxes, of course, but they don't pay income taxes because they don't have enough income to qualify. Yet, I heard from one Republican asshat over the weekend that "52% of Americans pay no tax at all," while this upstanding citizen payed "all of his taxes." False, first of all. And amazing that, as Warren Buffett recently pointed out, some of those super rich pay a lower rate than you and I do. But we should not resent those hedge fund managers making billions and paying next to nothing in taxes. We should resent that person working at a minimum wage job (or two, or three) who doesn't pay income tax because every penny is devoted to trying to pay rent and groceries.

The Republican party is many things now. It is anti-science. It is anti-muslim. And it is cruel to an amazing point, that it wants all of us to look at anyone who is needy with contempt or suspicion. They want to take away your hard earned money, and should be resented. The only way they are worthy of helping is if they are begging at a soup kitchen, and willing to listen to a sermon. But if they are applying for any kind of aid, they are leaches on society, and should be shunned.

One thing for Republicans to embrace that. Still just blows me away that conservative Christians are watching this and cheering. Or sitting on their hands. This is not the America I thought it was. And this isn't the church I thought it was.

August 25, 2011

Here are your Christian Republicans?

HuffPo has a story about Rick Perry and Phil Gramm working on a scheme in 2003 where Gramm's company (UBS) would purchase life insurance policies on teachers. The teachers families would get nothing, but UBS and the state of Texas would make big profits. This is hard to follow, but it seems like the deal ultimately fell through, but Gramm was later trying to do similar deals that would make his company huge profit using his protege (Perry)'s influence in state government.

Couple of points here. No wonder Republicans rail at government, because they are busy using government to make themselves rich. They know the corruption, because they are the corruption.

Second, I am more convinced than ever that the worst deal Christian conservatives ever made was to vote as a bloc for people who sold themselves as Christian conservatives who would return America to some mythic Christian past. They opened themselves up to any list of sociopaths who mouth Christian language on one hand, but pursue the most unChristian policies on the other. Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, and Michele Bachmann are the fruit. Hell, it started with the idiot Bush--who is looking smarter and more moral by the moment when compared to his followers. What does that tell you?

August 22, 2011

Republican women?

What is it about them? They all seem to follow the Palin model of refusing to ever have made an error. In this case, it is Christine O’Donnell, who lies about her supposed persecution, then attacks anyone who disagrees. I think it is that sense of persecution that gets me with all of them. It could describe the entire far right--they all seem to think they are victims of some global conspiracy against them--even as they wield an amazing amount of power. What would they do if they were truly powerless?

I don't know. I just know that they don't represent women, conservatism, or the Republican party very well.

August 19, 2011

It's only class warfare when we fight back

I don't think we need any more evidence of that than the response to Warren Buffett's great op-ed. Jon Stewart Highlights Conservative Hypocrisy On "Class Warfare" (VIDEO) | TPM LiveWire. Worth watching both clips, as he really takes apart both the idea that taxing the rich is class warfare, but also the reverse warfare that Fox and others are pushing about the bottom 50% not paying income taxes.

I find this all so disgusting. Everywhere I turn, there appears to be more and more attacks on the poor, and defense of the rich and comfortable. What troubles me the most is how many of them are Christian conservatives who seem to have forgotten just about every aspect of the faith's take on wealth and poverty. Instead, they have transformed Jesus into the patron saint of the SUV driving, gated-community class.

When did Christianity become about protecting the comfortable and chastising the uncomfortable? Obviously, not all do that, as we know from our friend Monk and others. But the the right wing Christians seem to worship Adam Smith more than the Christ they like to talk about.

August 15, 2011

One of the super-rich says "stop coddling super-rich."

The entire thing is worth reading (not long) but here are a few gems from Warren Buffet's great op-ed. First, for those who seem to not quite grasp how much money the rich have gained while workers and middle class people have seen their incomes and benefits stagnate.
"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."
Or for those who think that the rich already pay too much in taxes:
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.
And this may be my favorite since we always hear that higher tax rates make rich people angry and make them decide to not invest their money. I have always found that a completely ridiculous argument, since their other option is to sit on their money. No rich person does that unless they are misers hiding their money in mattresses. They invest because it is in their interest to do so, regardless of the tax rate they pay on those returns.
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.

August 5, 2011

Poll: Tea party support shrinks by half since 2010

I think it was Digby who made a pretty good point about this story that the Tea Party is shrinking. She said, and I agree, that the Tea Party's intransigence and power is over-played. That allows Republicans like Boehner to act as if they are more moderate, but all of them refuse to raise revenue, and all of them are aiming their guns at Medicare.

The Republican party has been taken over by psychos, and the Tea Partiers are just the most vocal of the idiots. But the reactionary politics are replete through the party.

But what is most interesting to me, is that even Republicans are mad at the party for their intransigence. But I suspect they will forget that in a year after they have heard ad nauseum about how Obama is an evil Kenyan.

Oh, and speak of that, they are already trying to blame Obama for the downgrade of our credit. That takes balls. Usually the kidnapper doesn't blame the cops for the fact that they are now considered criminals. Oh, and Michelle Bachmann is slamming Obama for celebrating his birthday party.

Wouldn't you hate to work for the Onion during this period in American history? How do you satirize such idiocy?

August 4, 2011

Church missing giant panda balloon

And it cost between 5 and 7 grand. Yeah, that's the takeaway from this story. Not that this ridiculous church has a "Kung Fu Panda movie theme" to attract new members. Yeah, I will take them seriously.

But it does make this post from 2004 seem less far fetched.

August 3, 2011

Religious thinking. Oh, and I am back.

Perhaps you noticed, or perhaps you didn't. We went to a wedding in Colorado this past weekend where I played my mandolin in front of a crowd for the first time ever. Actually, I played and sang three songs using the mando and guitar. I have sung at weddings before, but never played. It was a very interesting and enjoyable experience.

The drive back, however, was brutal. Descending into the plains and watching the temp go up was a bit depressing. I am sure glad there is no climate change, or this warmest July on record might concern me. Oh, and I watched in some horror as the Republican party put a gun to the head of our economy and demanded cuts for the poor and needy-without a dime more paid by the rich--or they would destroy our entire economy. That is the behavior of criminals, not leaders. Today, I read that Eric Cantor has laid it out--republicans will not raise taxes for Medicare or Social Security--so those of us who are looking at retirement better be rich. I have no idea how we will be able to pay for healthcare on a fixed income. Sure glad that the rich won't be asked to contribute. That would really suck. Perhaps the middle class will realize what this means for them. Perhaps. Perhaps if they think that only the poor will be hosed, they won't care, but if they realize that anyone who retires under Paul Ryan's plan will be looking at a fixed income and fixed voucher for healthcare. When healthcare costs rise above that? Oh well.

I honestly have no way of understanding that level of callousness. I really don't. I don't understand the rich saying, "fuck you" to the poor and middle class, but it is inconceivable that middle class people seem to be voting with them. I know what it will mean for SOF and myself. It won't be good. We can prepare for retirement at a reasonable level, but if we have to save for skyrocketing healthcare costs--if we can even get insurance--then I don't see that turning out well. If my conservative Christian friends care about that, I would like to know what they plan on doing. Because voting for these criminals is not going to be good for any of us. I don't care how loud they are against gays and abortions.


Speaking of Christian thought, Greg had a very interesting post from his intersession class about how many Christians imagine God. In this case it was about whether God could do anything or had to live under some of the rules he laid out for humanity. I have thought about that in the context of genocide, since the OT God tended to favor wiping people out--but also told us to not murder. Greg, as he often does, captures the contradiction of believing that God can do whatever he wants:
"Another student took issue. God can do what he wants, she insisted. Then you can't trust him, I replied. Why not? Because if he can do what he wants, he can lie to you and you may not be saved after all. He doesn't lie, she said. You said he can do whatever he wants. He can, but he doesn't lie. How can you know that? Because he says his word can be trusted. But you said he can do whatever he wants. She failed to realize the contradiction she'd wandered into."
This is my experience as well. God is so big and outside our consciousness, but then he is clearly this one thing. And he doesn't like this, or that. And he isn't female. And he prefers Israel to Iran. And he doesn't like gay sex or feminist women. And he doesn't sweat torture. But you can't put him in a box.