February 26, 2013

Ruthless and people of faith

And then Jesus instructed the disciples to win at all costs.  "Love each other and treat each other with respect, unless you need to win a political battle.  Then do what works to win."
Or not.  But that was all I could think when I read the most recent proposal from Pennsylvania Republicans to change the way the state awards electoral votes.  The purpose is a concerted Republican effort to change the electoral college in order to win.  It works like this:  in battleground states that lean Democratic, but are controlled by Republican state houses, they would split up electoral votes based on US House districts.

An uninformed reader might think, "hey, that sounds fair, and the states have the right to determine how they manage those electoral votes."  But a closer reading reveals that this has nothing to do with fairness.  Those same Republicans have no intention of doing that in states like Texas that might have a few electoral votes from Austin, Houston and Dallas going blue.  No, the states that are Red on the map aren't going to split up their electoral votes.  Only those states that matter, and where they can take away votes from the Democrats.

This is the response of ruthless and unprincipled people, make no mistake.  It is an attempt to rig the game and displace the votes of minorities and other urban dwellers and allow the rural and more conservative part of the country dominate.  They don't want to change, see.  They don't want to be nice to Mexicans and blacks. They don't want to appeal to modern women.  They like believing that God wants all fetuses to be born, but not all children to be fed.  They like believing that rape can be a blessing from God.

What amazes me is the manner in which good, honest, and even moral people of faith find themselves in support of policies like this.  How does this happen?  How do people who read the Bible often, attend church weekly, participate in Bible Studies and Sunday School, and who say that Jesus Christ is their Savior and guide for life--how do they look at a situation like the one in Pennsylvania and think that is anything associated with their faith?  The vote rigging scandal is only one example.  Texas Senator Ted Cruz recently accused Sec of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel of accepting money from Iran and North Korea--without a shred of evidence.  Can you imagine Jesus doing that?

I suspect there are a lot of reasons for it.  Leighton has noted the tribal affiliation and others the low information portion of the conservative pool.  Some would suggest that conservatives are more open to authoritarian ideas and so defer to Republican leaders even when they defend the indefensible.

For me, at least today, the reasons are less important than the reality of people of faith endorsing a completely ruthless and scorched earth approach to, well, anything.  There is nothing ruthless about Christ.  I know I no longer attend church, but even I know that.  You don't talk about "turning the other cheek" if winning is the only acceptable option.  The GOP's version of Jesus would say that the one lost sheep was more than an acceptable loss.

And my conservative evangelical friends still look quizzically at me when I suggest that they are losing their witness.  If you can read about changing the rules of the game with no regard to fairness or justice--only to win power--and not speak out about it?  If you can watch a member of your party casually accuse his enemies of treason and not speak out about it?

If your Christ endorses ruthless and brutal tactics, he isn't Christ.  You might want to do some thinking about that.

February 19, 2013

Oh Good God

Not to poke the bear, but this is the gun culture of which I speak.

578.460. Any member of the general assembly who proposes a piece of legislation that further restricts the right of an individual to bear arms, as set forth under the second amendment of the Constitution of the United States, shall be guilty of a class D felony.

February 16, 2013

Robert Reich (RBReich) lists 15 economic lies Republicans (and many Democrats) believe

Robert Reich has a great list of tweets.  Given the nature of Twitter, I thought it might be useful to have them all here in one space.

  1. Biggest economic lie #15: All gov't spending the same. Truth: Public investments in infrastructure, education, & basic R&D spur ec growth.
  2. Biggest economic lie #14: We're creating nation of "takers." Truth: Reason for rise in public benefits since '08 is joblessness.
  3. Biggest economic lie #13: Raising taxes on rich slows economy. Truth: No such correlation. Ec grew faster betw '46 & '81 when taxes higher.
  4. Biggest economic lie #12: Medicare must be cut. Truth: It's more efficient than private health insurance & should be expanded.
  5. Biggest economic lie #11: Raising min wage kills jobs. Truth: It fuels demand. States with higher min wage have no higher unemployment.
  6. Biggest economic lie #10: Wages are rising. Truth: Median wage continues to drop, adjusted for inflation. Now 8% below 2000.
  7. Biggest economic lie #9: Social Sec in dire straights, must raise eligibility age & cut benefits. Truth: SS fine for 20 yrs. Raise ceiling.
  8. Biggest economic lie #8: Unemployment benefits responsible for high joblessness. Truth: 3 people looking for jobs for every job opening.
  9. Biggest economic lie #7: Super-wealthy over-taxed. Truth: Richest 400 Ams wealthier than bottom 150 milln together & pay pittance in taxes.
  10. Biggest economic lie #6: Inflation is just around the corner. Truth: Recession is just around the corner.
  11. Biggest economic lie #5: "Markets" exist without government. Truth: Government organizes, defines, and enforces the market.
  12. Biggest economic lie #4: Low-income Americans pay no taxes. Truth: They pay higher share of incomes in payroll and sales taxes than others.
  13. Biggest economic lie #3: Corporations need tax cuts. Truth: Corps sitting on almost $2 trillion, buying other corps, buying own stock.
  14. Biggest economic lie#2: Rich are the job creators. Truth: Broad middle class are job creators through their purchases.
  15. Biggest economic lie #1: We must cut deficit now. Truth: Cutting deficit now robs economy of demand it needs, causing slowdown or recession.

February 14, 2013

Nope, LaPierre isn't just another right wing nutjob

You can read all of it here::
Meanwhile, President Obama is leading this country to financial ruin, borrowing over a trillion dollars a year for phony “stimulus” spending and other payoffs for his political cronies. Nobody knows if or when the fiscal collapse will come, but if the country is broke, there likely won’t be enough money to pay for police protection. And the American people know it. 
Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face—not just maybe. It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival. It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.

Obama is evil.  He will use any future mass murder as an excuse for a "tsunami of gun control."  Be very afraid of Mexicans, Muslims, and the fact that Obama is supposedly ruining our economy (perhaps on purpose).  No.  Buy a gun. Buy three.  Get ready to shoot your neighbors because we are descending into chaos because of anti-gun liberals and Obama.

Jesus.  This is the gun culture we fear.  This is the gun culture that thinks that Ted Nugent is a good spokesman.

February 12, 2013

This is the adult conversation I want

Liberals With Guns - Ta-Nehisi Coates - The Atlantic

And should be easy to see the difference between this and Steve Stockman inviting that idiot Ted Nugent to the SOTU speech.  I haven't seen anyone from the NRA suggest that was a bad idea.  Have you?  Does anyone here seriously think that Ted Nugent is a good representative for the responsible gun owners?


February 11, 2013

An update on the real world

This has been a rough couple of days.  My mother-in-law passed away last week and we just returned from her memorial service.  I didn't write about it last week--primarily because I was too busy, and also because I kind of enjoyed the distraction of arguing about guns and gun culture.

The service went well and did what those services are supposed to do.  I had major issues with many individual elements (the pastor is a nice guy, but could not stop from preaching rather than talking about my mother-in-law), but appreciate that it was a necessary step toward some kind of process of grieving this loss.

That said, and I think I will write more about this experience, I returned home to see the news that Republican Steve Stockman has invited Ted Nugent to the SOTU speech.  If you want any better example of the destructive culture that I keep trying to describe, look no further.

February 6, 2013

One more try on Gun Culture

Gun Shop Owner Protests Obama's Gun Proposals By Giving Away 1,000 Rounds Of Ammo | ThinkProgress

Yeah, that is kind of the problem.  This is not a level headed response.  This is a reactionary response.  Yet those of us who call it out are dismissed out of hand.

I think Jay asked a good question about my use of the phrase "gun culture."  I know it is a flawed phrase.  I need something more approaching Sullivan's "Christanist" to distinguish.  But as I noted in the comments, part of the problem is also the responsible gun owners who continue to suggest that everyone should have guns regardless of their personality or hot-headedness, or even their own needs.

Here is what I would like to see.   I would like to see a national gun organization--Steve asks why I pick on the NRA all the time after he has told me that they are still the best defenders of gun rights--to take their money and power and pulpit to address more than just the second amendment.  I would like to see a campaign that, instead of demonizing the President and accusing him of siding with some vague UN conspiracy or secretly wanting to take away all our guns--to do this instead.  Stand up and say:

First, let me note the obvious, that while the President and I disagree on some policies, he is not our enemy and is not trying to take away all our guns.  We may differ on certain gun regulations, but we all respect the Constitution, and we all want to reduce gun violence like the horror show we saw in Sandy Hook. 
Here are the steps we think we can take that meet that shared interest.  We will support those gun regulations already enacted and push our advocates to make sure those regulations are properly funded and supported.  Before we pass more regulation, we should make the ones we have work.  We will also support the universal background check as we used to support in the 1990s.  This too must be fully funded and supported and is a small price to pay to try to keep guns away from bad people.  
2nd, we are going to start a national campaign where we appeal to all Americans to think carefully about guns and their use--and we mean in both ways.  We want non-gun owners to see more than those who brandish guns to make a point, or who engage in senseless gun violence to settle petty disputes.  But we also want gun owners to recognize the legitimate fears of the non-gun owning population.  We will make very clear in our approach that anyone considering purchasing a gun should be very clear about why.  If they are buying it for personal protection, they need to be clear of what that might mean. If that isn't a good fit for them, they need to pursue other options for self defense. Gun buyers should undertake as much training as they can find, and ensure that their gun is secured at home away from children or others.  Gun safes, trigger locks, etc., should be a part of every conversation.  No one should buy a gun because they feel the need to brandish it in public, and guns should only be used when there are no other good alternatives.  
Third, while our democracy requires a vigilant population, we need to stop this constant discussion of needing these guns to fight our own army.  Our army is not our enemy.  Our government is not our enemy.  Our President is not our enemy.  
If LaPierre said any of that, I might take him seriously.  But he doesn't.  And neither does the industry pushing gun sales.  This approach won't sell as many guns.  

February 5, 2013

Gun Culture continued

This is really my take on the gun culture as well.

Murdered Over Dog Crap? - The Daily Beast:

When gun proponents talk about "defensive gun use," they invite us to imagine confrontations where one party is wholly blameless and the other party is murderously aggressive. Gayle Trotter conjured up just such a scenario in her imaginative testimony to Congress: mother alone at home with her babies; three or four or five bad men break into the house; what can she do other than mow them down with her AR-15? In real life, however, defensive gun use typically originates in confrontations to which both parties contributed - and in which the difference between aggressor and self-defender depends largely on the story told by the party who happens to survive. 
Unless you run a home meth lab, you are exceedingly unlikely to face a home invasion by armed intruders. In order to defend against wildly remote contingencies, Americans are instead arming themselves to turn disputes over dog crap into lethal duels.