August 31, 2012

What are taxes for?

Heard this fabulous story on the drive home (Time to Overhaul America's Aging Bridges?) which both infuriated me at our political mess, and reminded me of the amazing nature of NPR.  No shouting, no names, just a thoughtful and informed discussion on the issues.

But the subject got me thinking about our political impasse today.  As I have suggested many times, most conservatives conceptualize tax money as undeserving and lazy people getting free stuff.  As I have pointed out to people, the safety net (outside Medicaid) constitutes only 14% of our budget, and surely even conservatives don't believe that all or even a majority of those receiving aid are lazy.  Do they?

Back to bridges.  This subject more than most reminded me of our unbalanced discussion on taxes.  Imagine what an infusion of tax money would mean for the 8,000 bridges that need substantial repair.  It would, first and foremost, update our infrastructure to make it more reliable and less risky.  So, we would get something tangible even if we, personally, don't drive on that bridge.  It would put thousands of people to work.  Those people would then pay rent, buy groceries and purchase clothing and cars.  That would help the struggling retail market, car sales, and possibly even help with some of the mortgage situations.

That infusion of tax money would help thousands and ripple through our economy.  And of course, we would get new bridges that won't collapse into the river.

August 27, 2012

More public shootings, and why are voters so dumb?

So, last week we had a few more public shootings.  The one that caught my eye occurred near the Empire state building where a man gunned down his former boss, and then died himself in a shootout with police.  The interesting thing is that the second shootout involved 9 bystander injuries, and reports suggest that most of them were injured by police bullets.

I am not criticizing the police here.  This was a difficult situation in a public place, but it highlights why I hate the idea of more guns on the street as an answer to public shootings at schools or theaters.  Here, people trained and practiced were unable to just get the bad guy.  What makes gun rights people really think that untrained people in a crowd will do better?


Polling data out says that most people are concentrating on the economy, and on the economy and deficit, Romney gets better marks.  This makes me think that voters are dumb, dumb, and even dumber.  Republicans have, at every step, pledged to stop Obama from getting any traction on the economy, and have killed stimulus bills, middle class tax cuts, programs aimed to help small businesses, and people give the Republicans better marks on the economy?  Seriously?  As I told a friend this morning, this is like a coach who refuses to call any passing plays, then criticizes the QB for his lack of passing yards.

Oh, and Romney pledges to do what now?  Cut taxes on the rich, and slash safety net programs.  No one has said he will actually balance the budget.  He will take away your healthcare though.  Got to love that.

August 23, 2012

What constitutes an apology and did Todd Akin truly "make a mistake?"

I just saw this:  Huckabee Backs Akin, Lashes Out At GOP | TPM LiveWire, where Huckabee makes a plea for fairness and, essentially, a second chance for the guy who said that women being truly raped won't get pregnant.

He certainly apologized for saying so, but for what?  Is he really sorry for saying something that he clearly believed to be true?  Did he learn in the backlash that he had no understanding of human reproduction?

Or was he simply sorry that, as a friend of mine put it, "people on the interwebs thought he was a complete idiot."

If he really learned, then that would be great.  But I have been reading about all the people in the Republican party who believe things that are very close to this.  One doctor wrote an article about how rape victims rarely get pregnant, and both Romney and Akin know of him and Romney praised him.

Plus, in the day after he "apologized," Akin said that he really meant to talk about how women lie about rape.

Jesus Christ!  His apology about saying that raped women wouldn't actually get pregnant really meant to say that women lie about rape all the time--and would do so to get an abortion.  Just more of the trend, and I really see this in so many on the right--that women cannot be trusted with their own body.  Those same women, I would note, are left to their own devices and "personal responsibility" when dealing with abusive men, healthcare needs, access to contraceptives, and even providing healthcare and nutrition to an infant.  But when faced with a difficult pregnancy, they can have no individual responsibility, because women simply can't be trusted.


August 22, 2012

Romney uses same racist dogwhistle. Southern strategy returns.

Which means that he may not be actually racist himself, but more than willing to appeal to racism to win.  Despite Fact Checks, Romney Escalates Welfare Work Requirement Charge : It's All Politics : NPR.  Everyone who knows anything about welfare reform has said that Obama is not removing the work requirement.

It is a lie, and Mitt has to know it is.  After all, compared to some of the dim bulbs the GOP has elevated lately, Romney isn't an idiot.

But he doesn't care.  Because this ploy paints Obama as a welfare queen.  "How in the world could he not understand the power of work, the dignity of work?" Romney said the other day.

Right, because Barack Obama isn't a hard worker, right?  Because he is black.

This is fucking racist bullshit, and the people who are pushing this in Romney's campaign, including Mitt himself, are fucking racist assholes for saying something they know to be untrue.

This is your GOP, conservatives.  Don't you ever, EVER, suggest to me again that Republicans are moral.

August 21, 2012

Beer Geeks Determined to Unlock Obama's Home-Brew Recipe - Politics - The Atlantic Wire

Beer Geeks Determined to Unlock Obama's Home-Brew Recipe - Politics - The Atlantic Wire

Now we are geeks?  I haven't actually heard that Obama drinks anything I would really like to sample.  I love that he values craft brewing, mind you, but until he is requesting a double IPA or Belgian Dubbel, I am not sure I really want the recipe.

Though that could be cool, now that I think of it.

August 20, 2012

Rape victims get no help from conservatives--and Paul Ryan is just as bad as Todd Akin

What is more, far from being the outlying sentiment in the Republican party, this is now part of their mainstream beliefs.  War on women?  This is awfully close to that.

Todd Akin’s Rape Comment Was Bad but His Abortion Views Are Much Worse - The Daily Beast

For the Tea Party, a woman who gets pregnant can't have been raped

There is so much awful and stupid in this story:  GOP Senate nominee: Women don’t get pregnant from ‘legitimate’ rapes | The Raw Story.  As one person noted online, beating me to it, this is the pregnancy version of drowning a woman to find out if she is a witch.  If she gets pregnant, she must have actually wanted sex.

I would sigh, but that just seems too mild for this type of misogyny.  All from a guy who has a BS in "management engineering" and clearly didn't, as SOF noted, attend his elementary school "life science" class.  But worse than misunderstanding how reproduction works, this is the other side of the idea that women are asking to be raped.  "Look how she dressed," or "what was she doing walking in a dark alley," or "how dare she have breasts."

All to stop women from having abortions.  This really makes clear that this not about abortion, per se, but about keeping control of women and their fertility.  This is anti-women far more than anti-abortion.

And this guy isn't the first.  Here is a story from 1988, but that isn't the only one.  A doctor in 2006 said that "women are not fertile during an attack."   Nor is this the only stupid and hateful thing Akin believes.  He also believes the morning after pill causes abortions, even though the science says otherwise.

But here is the thing.  Todd Akin looks like a toad.  I am not trying to be mean, but he looks awful on tv and in print.  I am guessing that the American people, including my conservative evangelical friends will find his statements odious and wrong.  They will denounce them (oh Sweet Jesus, I hope so) and decide that Akin is not a good example of Republican thought.

Ah, but here is the rub.  Not only did Paul Ryan (does not look like a toad) endorse Akin in his primary bid and speak eloquently about Akin's leadership in the house, the GOP vice presidential candidate also worked closely with the toad to redefine rape downward.  To keep women from getting an abortion on Medicaid or other federal funding, Ryan and Akin worked together to redefine rape to only mean "forcible rape," which many observers noted would eliminate all sorts of awful situations.  Statutory rape, which can mean, of course, an 18 year old and a 16 year old, but can also mean a 30 year old man with a 13 year old girl--statutory rape wouldn't qualify as "forcible."  Nor would date rape or taking advantage of a mentally challenged woman.

So, while many conservative Christians will, undoubtedly, pat themselves on the back for standing up to Todd Akin this morning (and who knows how many will defend him out of tribal loyalty), they will all speak highly of Paul Ryan and not seem to connect that the difference between the two is not ideology or belief, but appearance.  One doesn't look like a toad.  He just advocates the same misogyny as the toad does.

August 19, 2012

One link between fundamentalist Christianism and racism

Blogger Jesse Curtis explains that one source of his own racism was the horrible Bob Jones U history texts he read as a child:
-The book's entire treatment of slavery, other than briefly mentioning it in other contexts such as the constitutional convention and the Missouri Compromise, is contained in a box inset on two pages. In this brief box, we're assured that slaves were well fed and clothed, and that the vast majority of southerners did not own slaves. Nowhere in the whole book do we find out what life was like for average slaves or free blacks, nor are we told that over a fourth of slave families were broken up by sale.
-The text states that slavery was not the primary cause of the civil war and argues that it had more to do with constitutional differences of opinion. It does not discuss the actions of slaves, free blacks, and black soldiers during the war to win their freedom.
-It says that the 14th amendment was the most important and far-reaching of the reconstruction amendments because it increased the power of the federal government. Apparently this theoretical concern was of greater importance than the 13th amendment which officially ended slavery for four million people.
-It dispenses with Jim Crow in a single page, and we're not told how the "Redeemer" governments regained control in the South.
I wish I could say I was shocked by this, but I am not.  But this is part of (only part) why we are still battling the civil war, and Obama's election was the latest part of that.  And, if you know anything about fundamentalism, you know that many conservative Christians have pushed their kids to read these very textbooks.  No wonder we have a race problem in the southern church as well.  

August 13, 2012

Time to just admit that the Republican party hates the poor

Choosing Paul Ryan as their VP and openly endorsing the Ryan Budget means that it is time to stop acting otherwise.  All my conservative friends assure me they care about the poor and give to the poor.  And I believe that.  But there is absolutely no way that they will give double or triple of what they give now, and that is just a bit of what will be required to address the need if this budget passes.  The numbers simply don't add up.  Conservatives who want to nearly gut the safety net while cutting taxes for the rich are lying if they then insiste they really want to help the poor.  

They don't.  The GOP might as well change their motto to "Fuck the Poor."  

At least that would be honest.  

August 4, 2012

Chick-fil-A continued

A nice list of thoughtful comments on the Chicken mess, here from Fred.  As for me, I have a few more thoughts.  I read several people on FB say that this was about defending Biblical marriage.  As many have pointed out, that isn't one thing.  But even if it were, Christian conservatives have a very inconsistent past on this--and I bet they don't even remember.

When gays people simply wanted the right to be gay, conservative Christians opposed that.  When they wanted the right to not be charged with a crime for having gay sex, conservative Christians opposed that.  When they wanted the simple right to not be fired for being gay, conservative Christians opposed that.

Conservative Christians have tried to make gay people not gay.  They have funded (though badly) organizations dedicated to transforming gays into straights.  And when that didn't work, they simply tried to push gay people back into the closet.

You don't get to say that it is just about gay marriage.  It was never about marriage.  It was about being gay.  Conservative Christians simply don't want gay people to exist.

But they do.

August 1, 2012

Gay Bashing as Christian value

I have no idea what will happen to Chik-fil-a after all of this.  I believe firmly that the tide is going against the anti-gay side.  Young kids don't care as much as the older people, and they find it frustrating to see their gay friends or kids with gay parents attacked with such hatred.

And that is what I felt when I read some of the reports of the people flocking to buy chicken sandwiches today.  Hatred is now a Christian value.  Is it any wonder I struggle more and more to identify with these people?