Who IS this guy?!

'Niceguy' Eddie

Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, (original, huh?) airs on Tuesdays at 10:PM and Saturdays at 8:PM, Eastern time on RainbowRadio.

Feel free to contact me at niceguy9418@usa.com. You can also friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and Tumblr, and support my Patreon. Also, if you don't mind the stench, you can find my unofficial "fan club" over HERE. ;)

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Worst Woman in the World...

Obscenity warning! (I’m pretty pissed off about this!)


Sharon Angle is a scumbag

With each passing day, I become less and less surprised that Conservatives' attitudes towards women are so backwards. I mean… just look at their representative sample: Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, Christine O’Donnell, Sharon Angle… You know, maybe if conservative women weren’t so fucking stupid, conservative men might think more highly of women in general. (Of course that doesn’t account for the stupidity of conservative MEN, but that for an entirely different post…)

But Sharon Angle has absolutely topped my list. She’s a stupid, lying, hypocritical, self-righteous, dangerous CUNT. Her latest talking point, following months of lies, distortions, misrepresentation and misinformation? She wants to lower Insurance Costs for the people of Nevada by ending that state’s mandate that insurance companies cover “Autism.”

The “quotes” were hers, BTW. She actually said “Autism” making “quotes” in the air with her fingers.

Candidate Angle? GO FUCK YOURSELF.

A bit of disclosure here: I have two children with “Autism.” No, fuck that: They have AUTISM. And no person with two brain-cells to bounce together (which would apparently exclude Sharron Angle) would deny that they have Classic, Kanner’s Syndrome AUTISM. Another undeniable fact is that the intensive speech therapy and special supports they’ve received have helped them make tremendous progress. Without these interventions, based on the work of many PhD’s and other researchers in the field (something the conservatives always seem to be sadly lacking in) the odds are that they would be (1) Non-verbal today and (2) headed towards a lifetime of being institutionalized. (And yes, that would be on the tax payers’ dime. So really, Sharon Angle’s just an idiot.)

Now… In my home state of Michigan none of this therapy is covered by insurance. Not. One. Penny. Of. It. And up until a few years ago pretty much no states covered it. Today the number is 23 and growing every few months. Autism insurance reform has met with very little resistance outside of the insurance lobby and a very few other special interest groups that put dollars ahead of families and handicapped children. IOW: Scumbags.

Now obviously I'm pretty damned far from being an unbiased debater here. I have no problem acknowledging that I have a dog (two, in fact) in this fight. But why don’t we look at the facts here and see what this “expensive mandate” REALLY costs people.

My family spends about $30,000 per year in speech therapy. Florida (the only state I’m immediately familiar with) covers up to $35,000 per child, but we spend $30K, and have TWO. So let’s use thirty-K as a worst-case number. I don’t know what the rate of Autism is these days, but the rate of “Autism” is about 1%. I’m OK putting that in quotes, because if you use that number, you will be including many children with a level of impairment that only the foremost experts will be able to detect. And they won’t need anywhere near the level of support that my boys do. BUT, in the interest of looking at a worst case scenario, we’ll use the 1% and assume that they’ll ALL need $30 per year.

Remember now: these are absurdly expensive assumptions: We spend $30K on TWO kids, are very happy with the results we've gotten, and a huge portion of that 1% would not need that level of support.

So…

$30,000 per year.

…times a 1% occurrence rate = $300 per year, per family.

= $25 per month.

And that’s just for the 20% of people who pay entirely for their own insurance.

For the other 80% of folks, who’s employer picks up roughly ~80% of the tab?

$5.00 per month.

FIVE BUCKS PER MONTH! Fine: Six, if you want to give a break to the other 20% and not charge their policies extra for it.

FIVE DOLLARS, maybe SIX.

That’s what it costs the people of Nevada, and the other 23 states that have arrived in the 21st Century, to prevent the Insurance Companies from discriminating against people with Autism. To save her voters FIVE DOLLARS A MONTH, ($2.50 each, if we’re talking about a married couple) she’s willing to push tens of thousands of families to the brink of (or squarely into) bankruptcy and condemn tens of thousands of children to living out their lives in state institutions, cut off from the world, unable to communicate even their basic needs and feelings in the process.

Sharron Angle? You are not only a cold, heartless, soulless, hypocritical SCUMBAG, but you’re a cold, heartless, soulless, hypocritical scumbag who’d bad at math.

And remember folks… without that help? Most of these kids would end up in state institutions. That’s what used to happen. Again, I don’t know each what that costs, but it ain’t cheap. (Consider the cost of incarcerations, and tack on whatever you think the additional overhead would be to cover the additional medical and psychiatric staff.) That’s putting aside that this is NOT what anyone would prefer or choose for themselves or their children.

I guess that makes Sharon Angle a “Fiscal Conservative.”

I guess that makes Sharon Angle “Pro-Family.”

Personally I think it makes Sharon Angle a “scumbag.”

And, if I were Conservative, just more evidence that women have no place making public policy. Hey, with stupid bitches women like Sharron Angle serving as examples, I can almost see where their misogyny comes from.


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BTW… I’m not throwing out the word, “hypocrite” lightly here. If you caught Keith Olberman’s WPITW on Tuesday you’d have learned that:

But our winner, Sharron Angle, the radical Republican Tea Party candidate for the Senate in Nevada. You heard her plans to phase out Social Security and Medicare and her complaints about how she has to pay for other women‘s maternity leave, and how states have to pay for kids with, air quote, autism, end air quote. They were her air quotes. And you heard her talk about how Harry Reid is a socialist or an anarchist or Marxist, or whatever he is.

Turns out Sharron Angle gets government health care insurance. Her husband is retired from the Federal Bureau of Land Management. So he gets the same federal employee health program insurance he got while he worked there. And it covers his wife Sharron, as does his pension, paid for by contributions made by current civil service employees. It‘s the civil service government equivalent of Social Security.

So the next time she whines about ending this or relieving Nevada of the burden of that, let‘s see her start by cutting off that socialist insurance she gets, her insurance that you and I pay for. Sharron Angle, hypocrite, today‘s Worst Person in the World.

Keith? I love you, man. But you're going too easy on her, and I’m going to just have to try and top you here.


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One last note, while I’ve admitted bias in terms on my own personal interest, I want to point out that this is no Liberal / Conservative partisan bias here on my part. The majority of states that have mandated insurance coverage for Autism are in fact traditionally considered RED STATES. More Republican leaning states have passed Autism insurance reform that Democratic leaning ones. That’s a fact. An embarrassing one that many Deomcrats are working to fix, but if there’s any partisan advantage here, the benefit remains with the Republicans! (Tea-Baggers and Sharon Angle excluded.)

For a complete list, and for more information on how you can help make insurance companies do the right thing, while at the same time saving taxpayers millions of dollars in the future and allowing more people to live productive and independent lives, please visit AutsimVotes.org.


And whatever you do, don’t vote for an stupid, autism denialist like Sharron Angle.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

10-Point Scale of Conservtaive Illogic

There were several items on MMFA today that motivated me to revisit one of the more popular pieces I've written.  Of course, brevity being the soul of wit I went and decided to make the new version two and a half times as long as the original.  LOL.  We'll see how it fares.  Please let me know what you think. :)




Level One (Megyn Kelly):


Person A is arguing a Conservative point. Person B is refuting it with facts, logic and reason.

The Liberal concludes that person A is wrong.

The Conservative concludes that person B is Liberal.



Level Two (Gretchen Carlson):

Person A makes a factual misstatement in their argument. Person B points this out.

Since the argument was predicated on a falsehood, the Liberal concludes that the Person A is wrong.

Since the argument is being refuted by a Liberal, the Conservative concludes that person B is wrong.


Level Three (Brian Kilmeade):

Person A makes a statement in their argument that they know to be false.

The Liberal concludes that, since they have knowingly made a false statement, Person A being dishonest.

The Conservative concludes that, since they are Liberal, Person B is being dishonest.


Level Four (Steve Doocy):

Person A makes a statement in their arguments which is directly refuted and disproved by scientific evidence and research - which is brought up by person B.

The Liberal concludes that, since the Conservative argument is refuted by science, the Conservative argument must be wrong.

The Conservative concludes that, since the Conservative argument is refuted by science, science must be wrong.


Level Five (Bill O’Rielly):

Person A makes a statement in their argument that is refuted by well-respected Academics in the relevant field. (Economists, Climatologists, Historians, etc…)

The Liberal starts to think that Person A should have paid more attention in school.

The Conservative starts  to wonders if they should consider home-schooling their children.


Level Six (Karl Rove): (thanks, Bob!)

In trying to give an example where their argument would apply, person A reference a television program, movie or other fictitious work. Person B points out that this example is based purely in fiction.

The Liberal laughs, thinking that Person B just made Person A look like a complete fool.

The Conservative nods, thinking Person B just proved Person A’s point.


Level Seven (Newt Gingrich):

Person A strongly advocates for the Republicans doing something that he just got finished vehemently condemning the Democrats for doing.

The Liberal concludes that Person A is a hypocrite.

The Conservative concludes that Person A is principled.


Level Eight (Sean Hannity):

When Person B tried to point out the previous “inconsistency” on the part of Person A, either the program went to commercial or Person A just talked over them, in a much louder voice.

The Liberal sees this as evidence of bias.

The Conservative sees this as evidence of balance.


Level Nine (Rush Limbaugh):

Person A uses racial stereotypes, or plays upon racial fears in their argument. Person B calls them out on their use of racist tactics.

The Liberal concludes that Person A is a racist.

The Conservative concludes that minorities are racists.


Level Ten (Glenn Beck):

Person A rattles of a list of paranoid conspiracy theories, involving death panels, concentration camps, a police state and Nazi (or Fascist / Marxist / Sommunist) references to show why his country’s government can’t be trusted. Person B calls them out on the absurdity of this.

The Liberal wonders why anyone is still listening to Person A.

The Conservative wonders why Person B hates his country so much.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Religious musing in four acts...

Parte the first...

This came as absolutely no surprise to me. None at all.

After all… the more you REALLY KNOW about Religion, the less likely you are to buy into any of it. At least that how I look at it. Because I believed once… before I really knew much about it. So it doesn’t surprise me in the least that many others have apparently taken the same path… Or went the opposite way: Starting from non-belief, looked for something to believe in and came up empty. Hey, I may be making an improper jump from positive correlation to causality here, but what can I say? This just makes sense…

And amuses me, to no end. LOL


Parte the seconde...

This post started out as something completely different, and I’d like to leave the infinite wisdom of atheism aside for the moment and talk about something else...

I originally planned to write a really scathing, venting post about Pastor Eddie Long, and use that to segue into a scathing, venting rant about Pope Benedict – discussing both men’s involvement in pedophilia: Long as a perpetrator and the former Cardinal Ratzinger as an enabler. The thing is… As I started to do research, I had a bit of a change of heart. Regarding Long it comes down to little more than a presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law. That’s a principle I believe in, and I’ll stand by it here. (Though Long MINISTRY is still a stinking pile of scumbaggery, but I’ll get to that in a moment.)

(And I still fully endorse what the chicks over on Jezebel.com had to say about him!)

But with the Pope, it was a little different.

Pope Benedict has his share of critics over what went on while he was Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1981–2005. Particularly after 2001, when that body was charged with taking over the investigation of allegations of Sexual Abuse and the disciplining of the Priests it found guilty. It’s very easy (and very fair) to say that, “More should have been done” and that “more needs to be done” and I don’t intend on giving the former Cardinal Ratzinger much credit for what progress has been made in these matters in the past decade.  Not enough was done, more needs to be done, and they’re predictable scapegoating of HOMOSEXUALITY in these matters is downright despicable. But the more I've read about the man, and his actions, the more I've come to realize that the truth was far more complicated than the picture I would be able to paint if I cherry-picked my information, and interpreted the rest in the most cynical light possible. I could easy have written a very (personally) satisfying post, vilifying the man and likely pissing off a lot of religious folks. And it’s not like pissing off religious folks isn’t one of my favorite hobbies, but I prefer to do this with what I see as the TRUTH, not shit that I honestly feel I'm making up.

And the truth as I see it is that while then Cardinal Ratzinger is perhaps no hero when it comes to fighting pedophilia in the priesthood, he is far from the enabler that he has sometimes been painted as, and he is very far from the villain in this whole sordid affair. In fact, progress didn't really start being made in full until he took over and got a sense of how widespread the problem really was. (Worldwide.) So while Pope-bashing may be a fashionable sport these days, and Benedict is pretty fucking far from being my favorite human being on earth, I’m NOT going to engage in it. Not out of any respect for the Holy See or the Catholic Church or Religion in general mind you, but out of respect for my own philosophy, and the fact that the truth depends greatly upon one’s own point of view. And thus it is incumbent upon us not to ever be too convinced that the reality we perceive – the one we create for ourselves – is necessarily the way things are; the only way they could possibly be.

The church will be drug over the coals for this, and that’s as it should be. And Pope Benedict, as its head, will receive his share of barbs over it. Which is also as it should be. My faith in that precludes the need for me to pile on. I’d have loved to… But I could not do so in good conscience.


Parte the thirde...

What I would like to do is to drop my two cents regarding the Gospel being preached by newly accused  / alleged pedophile Pastor Eddie Long: The Prosperity Gospel.

I’ve long held the view that the Prosperity Gospel is the most dangerous piece of theology to come down the pike since we stopped burning witches. And I made an analogy the other day, regarding Democrats and Republicans, that I think is equally apt when it comes to God, Satan and the Prosperity Gospel. The analogy was that of a Doctor and a Prostitute.

One wants you quit smoking, quit drinking, lose weight, exercise and undergo all manner of uncomfortable examinations and sometime painful procedures. The other will bring the beer and cigarettes and have sex with you. Which one is your friend?

(Yeah,  I know which one you'd rather be with NOW, but...  which one is REALLY your friend?)

Consider for a moment the Abramahic God. The God of the commandments. Of “thou shalt not...” Of  "passing a rich man through the eye of a needle,” and all that. Consider His message and the message of Jesus. You know… that guy who trashed the temple market, screaming about “money changers?”

Which role do you think He would more resemble – the Doctor or the Prostitute?

Now consider Satan. Consider sin. Consider temptation. Consider the nature of material greed. It should be pretty clear which role HE fits in.

Now consider the prosperity Gospel. Is it a Gospel of delayed gratification? A Gospel of Sacrifice? Of FAITH even?  Is it in any way shape of form the DOCTOR'S Gospel?

No it’s not. It’s not the Doctor's gospel at all. It the WHORE’S Gospel.

It’s the Gospel that brings the beer and cigarettes, and no small helping of venereal disease as well. It is a gospel that celebrates material wealth in THIS WORLD. It is a gospel that clearly rejects the message of the DOCTOR. The message of sacrifice, or self-restraint, of sacrifice and of delayed gratification, as one waits for the rewards that are to be found in heaven. In place it says: Grab all the cash you can! God WANTS you to have it! And don’t worry about the poor… God WANTS them to be poor! It’s their own fault for not following the Prosperity Gospel!

Or the PROSTITUTE’S Gospel, according to my analogy.

Now I'm not a religious mane, as you know.  But if there is a God, and there is a Satan, I have no doubt that the Prosperity Gospel, ranks among the latter’s singularly greatest achievements.


Parte the fourthe...

Last night, my darling, atheist, wife said that she wouldn’t want to go to heaven if it meant following (and thus ending up with the likes of)Jerry Fallwall, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, etc…

Well… what I told her was, assuming that there was some kind of afterlife with two or more destinations:

1) Since you and Falwell preach opposite things, you can’t BOTH be right.

BUT…

2) If you’re right? Rest assured, you and Fallwell will end up in different places.

3) And if he’s right? You and Fallwell will STILL end up in different places!

OTOH…

4) If you’re both wrong, you’ll both end up in the SAME place!

She hasn't laughed that hard in quite a while.

Jim Jubak's recipe for recovery

I don’t consider myself to be a huge fan of Jim Jubak. It’s not that I think he’s conservatively or liberally biased, it’s just that he’s always struck me as a bit of an alarmist. When I read him, it always seems like the sky is falling. He’s not Glenn Beck crazy, mind you. His analysis is usually pretty sound. It’s just that his presentation always seems to have the tone of “OH MY GOD!” At least to me anyway.
But he wrote a fantastic piece yesterday about how we should fix the US economy, and I think it’s well worth a read. He has a lot to say about our place in the world, our need to get over our xenophobia and ‘exceptional’ delusions of grandeur. In short, he prescribes a good dose of reality that I don’t think ANY politician out there, of ANY party is prepared to deal with. So please check it out, because he really makes some critically important points.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Is it racism... or just stupidity?

Conservatives love to claim that any criticism of Obama or “his policies” ("quotes" because so many of them are carried over from Bush) results in the immediate cry of “racism” from liberals. The implication, of course, being that we use this tactic as a way to be dismissive of their supposedly legitimate concerns. And quite frankly, I was tired of hearing this nonsense form these whiny little bitches long before Jimmy Carter finally got around to calling out their actual racist elements. I was sick of it by then, and I remain sick of it. A few things to consider…


1) It doesn’t really happen all that often.

It almost seems like Conservatives start their arguments out that way because it will somehow give legitimacy to the rest of what they have to say. Of course, when we point out how utterly absurd whatever they have to say is, THEY go on to accuse us of loving Obama, and (if there really riled up) maybe accuse Obama of racism, just to get those extra points.

2) When it does happen, we present evidence.

Putting aside that anyone with an internet connection can google “racist tea party signs” and get more images than they can handle, it’s gotten so bad that even Glenn Beck and other high profile Tea Party leaders have asked their supporters to tone down the signs! So it’s no longer the liberals that are calling these fools racists… it’s GLENN BECK!

3) Actually? ‘Racist’ gives them the benefit of the doubt.

This is a tough one for them to wrap their heads around; because they’re 100% convinced they have a point. But they don’t. See, calling them ‘racists’ is a far more kind an explanation of why they are advocating for the policies that they do. Because the alternatives, assuming that most of them don’t make well over $250K per year, are: STUPIDITY and PSYCOPATHY.

Because their “points” aren't reasonable: they are logically contradictory. And they aren’t rational: they run contrary to the interests that the tea party and the average ‘angry voter’ claim to be concerned about! 

How many times have you heard something this: “I’m out of a job, and we’re losing our home, and yet the Government just keeps spending our money!

Translation: I’m concerned about the economy, so I want to cut spending.

And as I’m sure no one needs to be told anymore that the “T-E-A” Party stands for “Taxed Enough Already.” Yet what does their number one concern seem to be? The deficit!

Translation: I’m concerned about the deficit, so I want to cut taxes.

Now… take those two statements together, and try to explain to me how someone might believe these are good ideas? See… these statements are so completely insane that “racism” is a far more forgiving explanation that the level of stupidity and ignorance (or outright insanity) that we'd have to assume in the speaker if they really thought that cutting spending will bolster the economy, or that cutting taxes will reduce the deficit!

And it’s far from just the Tea Party… Have you seen the Republican’s overwhelmingly vapid “Pledge to America?”

They’ll cut taxes – even though the only difference between what they’re proposing and what Obama is proposing is a benefit for the top 2% of earners.

They’ll cut spending – even though the economy is still weak. And of course what the really mean is: We’ll gut social security, Medicare, etc… See it’s the same old charade: Cut taxes for the Rich, cut spending on the poor, working and middle class. Why the hell do people fall for this? Again – You’d think “racism” is preferable to the level of “stupidity” required. At least the person ends appearing the least bit rational that way!

But in the end they won’t really cut spending, because they’re pledging increases to defense spending. Check this out. Pick an income and put it in that graph. Look at how much we spend on defense compared to how little we spend on the Republicans’ favorite targets, entitlements and earmarks. These are overwhelmed by defense spending. We could eliminate everything else and even a small uptick, percent-wise, in defense spending would end up increasing spending overall.

And the kicker? They say they’ll do all of this while ELIMINATING THE DEFICIT. And the best criticism our lame-stream media can come up with? “They don’t really tell us how they’ll accomplish this.” What the…? They may as well tell us how they’re going to accomplish time travel and cold fusion. What they’re proposing is IMPOSSIBLE. You cannot cut overall spending if you increase defense spending in any significant way. And it would have to be significant, because Obama already increased it! And you can’t reduce, let alone eliminate, the deficit by cutting taxes, unless you reduce spending by all that PLUS… the amount of the deficit!  That's just 1st-grade arithmatic!

They’re either lying, stupid or insane.


And the only reasons for someone to vote for them? (Aside from the top 1-2% of earners?) The person doing so would have to be either STUPID or INSANE.

Or… (you know…) RACIST.

(I fail to see why they would be so quick to accept the alternative.)

And until either the Republicans start proposing ANYTHING that makes any damned sense, or people stop voting for them, there IS no other explanation for their current popularity.  We’re not in the current economic mess because of taxes, and we’re not here because of the deficit or the national debt. And cutting SPENDING is the exact OPPOSITE of what you should do in you’re concerned about the economy. (And TAXES should be the least of your worries if you don’t have a job!) And my hat’s off to anyone who’s concerned about the deficit. But realize that the only way you can fix that is to raise taxes back to a level that they were back when we HAD a balanced budget.

I look at it this way…

The difference between the Democrats and the Republicans right now is like the difference between a Doctor and a Prostitute. One is telling you to exercise more, lose weight, quit smoking, quite drinking, let them perform all manners of uncomfortable examinations, stick you with needles, etc… And the other is saying that they’ll bring the beer and cigarettes and have sex with you all night long. One off these obviously comes off the more tempting offer, but it’s pretty clear what choice the person who’s more interested in their long-term well being will make.

Cutting the safety nets for 98% of the country while giving more money to the multi-millionaires in the top 2% is NOT the path to National Fiscal and Economic Health, long term. Neither is continuing to ignore Global Warming or continuing to let manufacturing jobs go to developing countries or continuing to think we can badger the rest of the World into doing our bidding.

The Right just ain’t right… on ANYTHING.

Finally I want to leave you with this gem from the great gastropod, Rush Limbaugh, because I really think that THIS shows what passes for “reason” on the Right::

The whole notion of paying for tax cuts has always offended me, as though government is first, last, and always, and whatever happens -- they are the single greatest repository of greed in the world, Washington, DC, including even all the tyrannical dictators around the world. [...] "You don't pay for tax cuts. Tax cuts generate wealth creation.
Limbuagh logic:

A guy who makes $35 Million a year who wants a tax cut to help him generate some wealth for himself is principled.

Buy the government collecting taxes so that the Government can provdei basic services, defend the country and created some semblance of a social safety net for the other 99.9% of the country... That's 'tyrannical greed.'

Glad we got that straitened out.

BTW... the highest paid Goverment Employee is, unless I'm much mistaken, the Presdient. He makes $400K per year. Which, BTW, would represent a 98.8% pay cut for Limbaugh. (But remember: It's the GOVERNMENT who's greedy!)

Who else gets paid through taxes? Teachers, Police, the Military, Firefighters... Glad to know this guy who sits on his @$$ and blathers for a living feels these people, who make closer to $50K per year, (which would be a 99.9% pay cut for Rush) are "greedy."

We are so screwed right now.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Taking Filibustering to a Whole New Level - Update

Congratulations, Republicans.  You've finally come around to abandoning the troops in time of war.  And all to pander to own personal prejudices and put your political interests ahead of your country.

To every Repunblican, as well asArkansas Demcorats Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor:

You are liars.  You are biggots.  You are panderers. You are hypocrites, bigtime. And you are traitors:

America stands for tolerance, not bigotry.
America stands for religious freedom, not Christian theocracy.
America stands for equality, not discrimination.
America stands for freedom and liberty, not the Government climbing into your bedroom.
America stands for women's rights, not coerced rape.
and up until now Republicans talked a pretty good game when it came to military readiness and cutting wasteful spending.

You are not the party of American values, you aren't the party of ANY values.  And you have betrayed the soldiers who protect this country. 

Everyone of you put your right hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution.  And every one of you acted today as if it were the other way around. 

You are all a disgrace and an embarrassment.

And you are profoundly un-Patriotic and un-American.

The Redistribution of Wealth?

I wanted to do something on taxation.  I wanted to look into what Presidents ACTUALLY had the lowest tax rates and for who.  So I went looking for some kind of bell-curve or data that showed me year-by-year how many people were making what, and who was REALLY paying more or less in taxes.  And I may still do that, but in my search I came across something that drove home the age-old point about how fucked up we are as a country and as an economy in terms of wealth and income distribution.  It's a bit old, and I couldn't use the 'zoom'  function with my browser, but please check it out.  It does a much better job that I could illustrating the problem, and saves me the trouble of trying to:

The L-Curve

Consider this the next time you find yourself in a discussion with some idiot who's on the 50-yard line and talking about how he wants the government to "cut spending," "lower taxes" and all that.  Because Obama's only put the 99 and 100 yard lines in play.  And just look at those guys.  THOSE are the guys who benefit from reduced spending and taxes.  The guys to the left of th 99 yard line?  Every single one of them ought to be ADVOCATING for a little INCOME re-distribution.  (From the to 1-2% to the bottom 98.)

(And that's another thing - let's stop these fools on the Right from talking about redistributing wealth, huh? WEALTH isn't taxed.  This is about INCOME.  You know... that whole, "An honest days pay for an honest days work" that they kept yapping about as they destroyed the Unions? 

Apparently they meant that to apply to Chinese Workers.

And if you never considered how this might be done without screwing over the middle class, I'd like to offer a few ideas that you should consider that the Right, as well as what passes for the Left in this country, would never consider:

An Argument for Proportionate Payhttp://eddiecabot.blogspot.com/2010/03/argument-for-proportinate-pay.html

and

In defense of Progressive Taxation

Taking Filibustering to a Whole New Level

I can’t believe I ever liked, or respected, John McCain. (What can I say? It’s been a long decade!) The latest atrocity committed by this senile, old bigot is his filibustering of the “repeal” of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Now a politician can filibuster whatever he wants. For better of worse, that’s part of the job. I’d still disagree with his position, but there are some key facts here that motivate to seriously (and venomously) call “bullshit,” “liar,” and “hypocrite” on the Senator’s position now:

1) The policy does not, in fact, repeal DADT. All it does is authorize the Pentagon to do so, upon completion of a study on how this can be implemented without affecting readiness or morale.

2) McCain is filibustering because he wants the Pentagon to finish it’s study to determine if it’s even a good idea. Problem is? That was never the point of the study. The study is a question of HOW, not IF. So it’s McCain that’s out of step with the military here, not the President as he’s claimed.

3) What John McCain is doing is not even a true filibuster. A filibuster is used to prevent the ENDING of debate on the matter. And that’s fine. Although I need not point out how this practice has been absurdly abused by Republicans, we can all agree that a healthy and robust debate on any matter is necessary for a healthy robust democracy. The problem is, what Senator McCain is blocking here is the BEGINNING of the debate! He filibustering bringing the bill up FOR DEBATE. Blocking to end debate is one thing, but blocking to START the debate is profoundly un-American.

So right off the bat, Senator McCain is a liar, a hypocrite (for having criticize Democrats in the past over their proper use of the filibuster, and an traitorous obstructionist for putting his own political interests above (1) the American values of equality and non-descimination, (2) the American value of the separation of church and state (because the radical Christian funny-mentalist agenda is what’s at the heart of all anti-gay issues) and (3) – this is the big one: MILITARY READINESS IN A TIME OF WAR!!!

There. I’ve just “swift-boated” John McCain. The only difference being, unlike the swift-boat veterans, I’M TELLING THE TRUTH.

Now before we take a look at the policy that the Republican crypt-keeper is selling out his country’s values and military interests to protect, I suppose I should disclose some of my own personal positions on the matter. DADT? Its repeal is a no-brainer. Gay-Marriage? Allowing that is a no-brainer. Workplace discrimination against Gays? Again, prohibition of this is a no-brainer. And hate-crime legislation, classifying gays as a potential target group? Um…. DUH! In short, I have yet to hear any part of the so-called “radical gay agenda” that I don’t support. Of course, most of the actual, ‘radical’ stuff exists only in the wet-dream nightmares of the Religious Right. Everything that they gay community has actually asked for is very much in line with everything that America stands for… at least for those who have any idea what that really is! (Namely tolerance, equality, liberty, freedom… basically everything the radical Christian funny-mentalist and there Republican meat-puppets are against.) So obviously I have little patience for these un-American Christian whack-jobs and their anti-gay Jack-Chick propaganda. In any case, beyond what should be painfully obvious to any REAL American, here are some key facts that go beyond the opinions who’s validity I hold to be self-evident:

It’s expensive and has impaired readiness.

It has resulted in blackmail, harassment and rape of female service members.

So there you go. The dishonorable Senator from Arizona is doing everything he can to PREVENT DEBATE (the opposite of ‘prevent its closure’) on a bill that would allow the Pentagon to do exactly what he says they need to do in the first place, in order to protect unnecessary, wasteful spending; key positions in the military from being staffed; sexual harassment and blackmail coerced rape.

Senator McCain? You are a bigot, a liar, a hypocrite, a disgrace to your country and to the uniform you wore, and you a traitor to American values and Military interests.


--------------------------
Note: I do realize that Mitch McConnell has also been really outspoken about this, and also mis-represented to the public exactly what the Pentagon is studying here - also claiming that it's about IF as opposed to HOW.  But I left him out because I've never liked Mitch McConnell.  At one point in my misguided youth, I'd have expected better of John McCain.

Go team, go!

I think I figured out a way to explain what I see as one of the biggest problems with our political discourse: People pick their political party the way they pick their favorite sports team. It’s all about emotion, rather than practical or principled considerations.


I’m a Red Sox fan.

And you can argue (or point out) that the Yankees have the richer history; that the Yankees have won more Championships; that the Yankees have more Hall of Famers; that the Yankees have a deeper farm system; that the Yankees have better ownership; that the Yankees have the most talented 5-man infield ever assembled; that the Yankees do better business; That the Yankees bring in more revenue; that a Yankee Championship would be better for baseball… In short, you could lay out every practical, tangible way in which the Yankees are not only the better team, and not only why they therefore deserve to win, but how more people would be better off if they did. And even were I to concede on every single point?

I’d still want the Red Sox to win.

Why?

I don’t know. They’re just my team. And they always will be my team. And even a guy who I hated when he wore pinstripes, suddenly becomes perfectly likeable in the White and Red.

And do you know what?

That’s perfectly OK.

Because you don’t NEED a reason to root for a sorts team. Maybe you grew up in the city. Or maybe you met one of the players and he made an impression on you. Maybe you just like the team’s logo. I don’t care. Any of those - or NO REASON AT ALL - is a perfectly good reason to root for “your team” to win the ball game.

But we shouldn’t VOTE that way. And we shouldn’t decide how we feel about POLICY that way. Only two questions are in anyway relevant when looking at policy: “How does it affect me?” And, “How will it affect the Country?” That’s IT. And while the answers will sometimes differ between the two questions, they should not change based on which party is proposing them or whether they can been labeled ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal.’

If a policy will benefit YOU, why should you oppose it simply because it’s liberal or conservative or was proposed (originally or now) by a Democrat or Republican?

If a policy – when looked at objectively - will benefit THE COUNTRY, why should you oppose it simply because it’s liberal or conservative or was proposed (originally or now) by a Democrat or Republican?

Why are so many people – primarily Conservatives – more concerned that “their team wins” than with whether or not GOOD POLICIES get enacted? And why do so many people – primarily Conservatives – judge policies based on whether of not they have their team’s logo on them?   And I say “primarily Conservatives” because those are the people who use “Liberal” as a criticism, and act like the inherent badness therein is self-apparent. Liberals generally don’t argue against Conservatives this way. But Conservtaives act like it’s just a ball game, and the only thing that matters is that the team that they identify with emotionally wins. People: If the policies being enacted by the “winning team” don’t benefit you and benefit the Country, then they shouldn't BE your team!

I originally intended this as a standalone piece, but I’d like to offer it as an open question to the relatively moderate, shall we say "classic," Conservatives out there, who are every bit as frustrated with how far to the Right the Republicans have gone as Liberals are with how far to the Right the Democrats have gone. If that party no longer represents your values, and have moved into a territory that you find borderline (or downright) offensive to you sense of Patriotism and what you believe America stands for, why are they still your party?  (OR: Why do you still use the label to describe yourself?)

I'd like to use as example, how one on the regular commenters here described his political outlook. Now… excepting the ONE LINE at the end about “smaller government” I don’t see anything there that most Liberals and/or Democrats couldn’t embrace, but I see plenty that Conservatives and Republicans – as they are currently defined – outright reject. Yet this poster STILL describes himself as a “Conservative Republican.”

Given what those words have come to mean, I beg to differ.

Going back to the baseball example, I see that kind of reasoning like this: I might wish the Red Sox had the Yankee’s pitching staff and they may make some dumb trades or pass on a draft pick that I really like that ends up signing with the Yankees… but I’ll still root for the Sox anyway. In sports me it doesn’t matter if your favorite player ends up going somewhere else, or your team ends up totally sucking. You’ll still stick with your team And in that context, that’s perfectly OK. But why in Politics? Why stick with a party that you feel does so much wrong?

I don’t want to speak for y’all but I fail to see, as I read Okie’s post on MMFA, why he would stick with the Republicans. OK, there’s that last line. One point for versus a dozen or so against. And you may think you can change the Party… but you can’t. Sorry. The party has rejected what you see as Conservatism and replaced with something you can’t abide. And they’re trending away from you. So why stick around? Why NOT change?

And I ask this as someone who DID change. Because I was once a Republican, and I even once called myself Conservative. The biggest reason for this was that I was comfortable with those labels. And I could argue from a Libertarian point of view that justified my taking those labels. But the movement went to the Right, and to the Limbaugh’s and Beck’s and James Dobson’s and Pat Robertson’s and Jerry Falwell’s of the world, and I could no longer abide all the mental baggage that the labels “Conservative” and “Republican” required me to carry. And at some point I rejected them. And while I don’t agree with EVERYTHING the “Liberal Orthodoxy” (a notion that is largely a creation of the Right, BTW) stands for, the fact is that the Left is far more tolerant of dissent. There’s room for a Gun Ownership Rights supported in the Liberal camp. Or for someone who supports the Death Penalty. Or someone who supported, and continues to support the War in Afghanistan. Not everyone on the Liberal side will agree with my positions on those things of course, but no one will demonize me for them either. And that, to me, is the biggest difference between the two.

At one point in history, I’d say up until about 1968, both parties had their Liberal and Conservatives wings. Stating in ’68, the Conservatives started going to the Republicans and Liberals started going to the Democrats. By 1980 this process was in full swing and by today, partisan lines are drawn almost entirely along ideological ones. But as this process has played out, something else has happened: One side – the Republicans – has grown increasingly intolerant of any dissent at all. One side became the party of Purity Test. Of “in name only.” Of purging itself of any elements that don’t buy into every single part of the agenda, and of any elements that would be willing to cross the aisle and work with the opposition – even when the opposition is proposing something that Republicans once supported!

In other words: One side went completely bat-shit insane.

And I’m not alone in saying this! I don’t say this as a life-long Liberal who’s just opposition bashing. I say this as a moderate, one-time Republican who is completely fed up with the extremism and the downright un-American authoritarianism and the Party-before-Country mentality that the Right has embraced. Now… I’d have been part of the Liberal wing of the Republican party, to be sure. A ‘maverick,’ if you will. But right now? There ISN’T a ‘Liberal Wing’ in the Republican Party! And the 'moderate' wing consists of what used to be the hardliners! (Lindsy Graham? John McCain?)  And there is no indication that they want one!  (I'll bet you a Coke, right now, Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins will eventuallt retire as either Democrats or Independants, assuming they're not pushed out by Tea-Baggers who go on to LOSE to Democrats.)

In sports it’s expected to stick with your team, even when all your favorite players get traded away. That par for the curse. But WHY do this with politics. My ultimate question, to the moderate, Center-Right, more Libertarian “Republicans” out there, like Okiepoli and others, ESCPECIALLY if it's not "all about the party": Why do you not reject the party that has so clearly rejected you? 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Fun: Dumbest Article EVER

Saw this yesterday on MSN.com.  It was originally from the NYT.  It's completely non-political, and I'd like to nomintatie for the DUMBEST ARTICLE I'VE EVER READ.

I don't think I could say it here any better than the comment I left on the site, so to save you the trouble of finding it, here it is:

I'm sorry, but as much as I hate New York, hate the Yankees and hate Yankee fans, this is just stupid. It's NEW YORK for cripes sake! What do you expect them to be wearing? Mariners Caps? Padres Jerseys?


What you have discovered is that some sub-section of the population of New York dresses a lot like the REST OF THE POPUPLATION OF NEW YORK. OMFG - Yankee fans? In NEW YORK?! Stop the freakin' presses!

Nonsense stories like this is exemplary of everything that's wrong with the news media today.

(Go Red Sox!)
In other news...

Is it just me, or does Christine O’Donnell look like Sarah Palin’s slightly uglier kid-sister?  Sort of like the Ashlee Simpson of the Tea Party movement?


I'm not trying to pass that off as serious political analysis or anything. It's just that it's pretty hard to take someone seriously who's against Abortion, Contraception AND Masturbation.  Seems to me that a person who's being ebven slightly reasonable couldn't possibly be opposed to more than two of them.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Conservatives: Here and There

Yesterday on NPR, I learned that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was going to try to release the jailed American hiker Sarah Shourd to some kind of grand fanfare, and try and turn it into bit positive propaganda for himself, hopefully earning him some credit with the West. Fat chance, but…Unfortunately for him, the far more conservatives Clerics, unhappy with the “progressive” Ahmadinejad (WTF?!) and the reforms he’s proposed, undermined his efforts and sent Shourd back in the dead of night, to as little fanfare as possible.

Now… calling Ahmadinejad “progressive” is purely the opinion of the Neolithic Clerics that rule that country, NOT my own. But the fact that the Clerics in Iran are actually that much farther to the Right of (or that much more conservative than) Ahmadinejad got me thinking…

In the past (frequently on MMFA) I’ve made the statement that all of the best Republicans(Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower)  were Progressives and all the worst Democrats (Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson) were Conservatives. I’d like to expand on that logic and point out that the Iranians who most resemble Americans are Progressives, and the Americans who most resemble Iranians are Conservatives. Funny how that works, no?

Take away the two groups’ religious and national Brand Names, and tell me how the Conservatives in this country don’t want to make us MORE LIKE Iran, in terms of PUBLIC POLICY. Now, we’re not there yet and it could be argued that it’s an exaggeration to say that the American Right wants to take us quite that far. I’m not so sure about that myself, but the question still stands: If Iran is so terrible, why are the Conservatives trying so hard to make us MORE LIKE THEM?

BTW… One of my ex-Bosses is Iranian. He was an asshole, but it was interesting to hear his opinion that even though he’s pretty Conservative, in the American sense of the word, (neither of which were the reason I thought he was an asshole, BTW!) that the biggest failure of the Bush administration, the REAL REASON that the Iraq War was such a bad idea and our foreign policy under Bush was so disastrous, was that it killed the Progressive movement in IRAN, and gave the Hard-Liners (that's what we call "Conservatives" when they live in other countries) all the ammo they needed to whip up Anti-American sentiment (which had been declining during the Clinton years), crush the Progressives (who were gaining prominence), stifle (and repeal) reforms and bring Iran back to squarely being our arch-enemy in the region. And neither Conservatives in America and Conservatives in Iran have any intention of ever changing that dynamic, becuase they both benefit from it politically.  And both Conservatives in America and Conservatives in Iran totally SUCK because they think that way.

So just remember:

1) The best Republicans were all Progressives and the worst Democrats were all Conservatives.


2) The Iranians who most resemble Americans are Progressives, and the Americans who most resemble Iranians are Conservatives.

More Tea?

“Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.”
~Jean Luc Picard

It's old news already, but I want to congratulate Tea Party candidate Christine O'Donnell on her victory in the Republican primary in Delaware. I couldn’t be happier. Likewise, I’d like to congratulate Democrat Chris Coons on his pending victory in the General Election as Delaware's next junior Senator. I couldn’t be happier.
Now I wrote about this awhile ago, but I think the Blogging Ceaser, over at the Conservative Election Project said it best in his post lamenting the then pending loss of 'RINO' Candidate Mike Castle. Ceasar gets it. I get it. Christine O'Donnell and the Tea Party? They don’t have a clue. When otherwise easy seats in Delaware and other places that end up staying Democratic and end up costing the Republicans House and Senate majorities that they would have otherwise won back one of two things is going to happen:
1) The Republicans will finally oust the Tea Baggers and come back to more moderate, Center-Right positions and rhetoric. (And the Tea Baggers will be relegated to the 1%’er, third-party, also-ran status that so many other completely insignificant parties “enjoy.”)

2)The Right will double down, the Tea Baggers will take over the Right completely and the moderates in the GOP will continue to flock to the Democrats. This may pull the Dem’s farther to the Right, but the destruction (or relegation to permanent minority status) of the Republican party finally creates a real opportunity for the Liberal Wing to become more prominent or for Liberals to have a little Tea Party of our own.

Either way? It will good for the COUNTRY. And I couldn’t be happier.

General David Patreus on NPR

Yesterday on NPR, Rene Montagne sat down for an interview with General David Patraeus. What he had to say shows me that he really gets it in terms of what’s needed in Afghanistan, shows why he was effective in Iraq, once the strategy changed, and why – to answer ClassicLiberal’s question from awhile back - I am not disappointed that Patraeus was given command when General Stanley McCrystal was pushed out. IMHO, the highlight of the interview was the General’s clear statement, on no uncertain terms that:

“[…] you don't end an industrial-strength insurgency by killing or capturing all the bad guys. You have to kill, capture — or turn — the bad guys. And that means reintegration and reconciliation”
Kind of shoots down the Right’s “kill ‘em all and let God sort 'em out” attitude about the whole War on Islam War on Terror, no?

Now, just to be clear, so that everyone understands where I’m coming from: I've always strongly supported the War in Afghanistan, and I've always rabidly opposed the War in Iraq. (Former Seceratary of State Colin Powell lowered my opposoition to jsut moderate for about 15 minutes, following his UN Speech, but it didn't last.) As I see it, one was the right choice and the other so mind-numbingly stupid that I can’t understand how ANYONE supported it. And the General’s refusal to answer Rene’s question about [PP] whether on not Afghanistan would be much better off today if the U.S. had never gone into Iraq tells me that he agrees with her but did not feel it appropriate to criticize his former boss, or the office of his former boss. Which is fine. If he thought it was a GOOD policy he was fee to say so. But I’m fine with a sitting General’s refusing to criticize a President. (Even one that was as big a shitheel as George W. Bush was.)

Thanks to the General’s counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq, many of our troops are now coming home and we are on a path to having no more than a training and advisory role, to support a stable state. And from what I see in Afghanistan, and from this interview, I believe that General Patraeus will get the job done in time for us to starting pulling our troops out of Afghanistan next July, per the President's timetable. IMHO, he did a good job in an otherwise shitty situation in Iraq, and I look forward to the day we can put this whole mess behind us, thanks to his efforts in Afghanistan.

The only thing that I didn’t like about this is that his current post actually represents a step down for Patraeus. In and of itself, that’s OK.  But McChrystal was actually replaced with General James Mattis (who replaced Patraeus as the top commander in the Region.) From what [little] I know and have read about the two men, replacing McChrystal with Mattis is like firing Wolverine and replacing him with Kenpachi Zaraki. THAT I’m not so crazy about. But with Iraq winding down, maybe General Zaraki’s (sorry) General Mattis’ post is likewise diminishing in importance.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Republican Propaganda Video that shows how STUPID Repubicans really are!

(Warning: The following contains some course language, even for this blog.) 
(But read it anyway! LOL)

I'd like you all to see something. You may have already caught it (like syphilis) on YouTube. It was emailed to me but a *ahem* close relative. The email simply said "New Republican Video - Wow." I might say the same thing, although where he meant it to be complimentary, I would mean it like, "WOW, now isn't THAT a load of horseshit?!" Or, "WOW, you Republicans sure are stupid! I can't believe you buy into this tripe!"
So please... Take a look... and then humor me, as I destroy it.



Now right off the bat, I;'d like to say that I'd agree 100% with the first 1:18 of it... Assuming it had been put together by a LIBERAL that is. 

First of all who's this "we?"  WTF is with this "we elected you" shit, seeing as this nothing but is Republican / Conservative / Tea Party / Right Wing Propaganda?!  Um, no, sorry Conservatives, but WE elected Obama.  You lot voted for the Crusty old White Guy and Caribou Barbie.  And it's a bit late to jump on the bandwagon.

And as for being disappointed?  Yeah, you;re god damned right we are!  Because the guy we elected and the Congress we elected has done everything humanly possible bar picking you up and carrying you into the room, to include you in every conference and every negotiation and has made concession after concession to you fools.  I'd almost say "short of letting you write the legislation" but between the absurd and unnecessary (and unpopular) compromises and the actual (formerly) Republican proposals and the stuff that your former lobbyists - now Democratic lobbyists only because they saw which way the wind was blowing before you did - wrote?  You assholes HAVE WRITTEN a disproportionate amount of the ACTUAL legislation!  You just oppose it now because the other party might benefit if they pass... ANYTHING AT ALL.  So stuff this "we elected you crap."  No one involved with this video voted anything but a strait Republican ticket and YOU KNOW IT.

(Note: I truly though this at this point, but by the end I wasn't sure sure...)

It goes on to say that, in 2010, "You will lose."  OK fine, rally the troops.  It IS Republican Propaganda after all.  Um... You DO know that President Obama isn't RUNNING in 2010 though, right? Well, whatever.  You'll get back some seats back fine.  Let's see what you'll do with them:

NO MORE TAXES. 

Wow.  And they say we're fiscally irresponsible!  Oh my God.... Not "No NEW taxes" (they tried that one once, didn't they?) or "No HIGHER taxes" but "NO MORE TAXES."  There people sure know how to over-promise don't they?  I mean, if the promise THAT to get elected in 2010, don't they think their base might be a wee bit disappointed come 2012?  Trust me, the Democrats are seeing right now what happens when you run on one thing and then deliver something else.  Beside how will you pay for...

NO MORE SPENDING.

Oh.

I see. 

Hmmm...  No taxes... No Spending... Sounds like there's no goddamned government at all!  Don't you people even want to "support the troops" or something?  Hasn't all your concern about the deficit and social security and Medicare and Medicaid been because they'll "bankrupt the government?"  Well... i guess you solved that.  NO MORE FUCKING GOVERNMENT. Great.  Nice job.

NO.
MORE.
SOCIALISM.

This one may be a lot tougher than it sounds. See... at the moment? There's absolutely NONE.  So... ANY AT ALL would constitute a failure here. 0 for 3 methinks.  Three up, three down.  And we're through the first inning.  (Maybe what they lack in "socialism" they'll make up for in Anarchy?)

Moving on...

So scary stuff gets shown REALLY QUICKLY with hammers and sickles, followed by:

We tried to warn you.

Of... WHAT, exactly? Communism? A Soviet takeover of America?  WHAT?  I mean... how often can you predict the end of the world before everyone realizes, "Hey, they've been 'warning us' for, like, YEARS now, and the world is totally still here! These people are nut-bags!"?

But we "Wouldn't listen" so now "We'll pay."

Wait... I thought there wouldn't be any more taxes?  Actually this "We tried to warn you" and "You wouldn't listen" so now "You'll Pay" stuff? Would play GREAT as something a LIBERAL might send to the DEMOCRATIC PARTY. After they take they licks in November maybe?  We should spam Sec. Gibbs in-box with that, no?    Maybe they'll get the message. As for Conservatives... I haven't been exactly sure what world they've  been living in since about 1992. 

And WHY will "we pay?"

FREEDOM

Oh my God! You mean... You're going to protect abortion rights, allow gay marriage, legalize marijuana and guarantee everyone's freedom to practice our religion as we choose or to not practice at all and to keep our children free from other people, like teachers, forcing their religion on them?

You're a THREAT.

Oh... I see.  You mean, "FREEDOM" as in "Freedom to live the way we let you." Sorry.  My mistake. Please continue.

To our economy.

Wait... What about Freedom? What are they threatening again?  What do you think will happen to "the economy" when there's "No more spending?"  Don't you think some of those millions of people who will now be out of a job might be a bit of a drag on the economy? Especially with "no more taxes" being collected to pay unemployment benefits?  In the words of Lando Calirssian, "This deal is getting worse all the time!"

(BTW... Democrats do a better job with the economy.)

To our health care.

Well, yeah... I mean, without the public option, the Health Care bill amounted to little more than massive corporate welfare for the insurance companies.  But then... Oh wait... That was taken our to please you people... And yet you STILL couldn't get on boar!.  Even though... mandatory insurance (for example) was a Republican idea.  (Governor Mitt Romney-R, MA, IIRC)  So... What the hell are you talking about?  You people and you former lobbyists wrote almost the whole damned thing!  So.. you might be right here... But, again, only if a LIBERAL made this video!

To.
our.
individual.
liberties.

Like... The liberty to not bear all the children God "blesses" you with?  Of the Liberty to marry someone of the same gender? Or the liberty to smoke... Ah, never mind.  We've been over this. You people better make sure none of your constituents (1) really take this seriously and (2) own a dictionary.  Or you're in trouble!

You bet the farm.

When?

Government takeovers

Huh?  Of what? General Motors?  WTF are these people talking about? When Hugo Chavez performed a "Government takeover" of Chevron, do you think HE gave them $70 Billion?  Buuuuulllshit! He just said, "it's mine now, fuck you." Now THAT'S a "government takeover."  This? This was buying stock and guaranteeing loans in order to save about 30 Million jobs.  And do you know what? It fuckin' WORKED.  And GM will be making their IPO in just a few weeks.  After which the Government will start seeing a return on their investment, after getting their money back. So... THANK GOD they bet the farm I guess, huh?

Bailouts

Um... the Bank bailouts were all Bush.

Liberal Policies

I've said it before and I'll say I'll say it again: WHAT FUCKING LIBERAL POLICIES?! NAME ONE!!!

Wait... Maybe there's some coming up... I'm pretty curious to see exactly what Obama HAS done for Liberals myself, so let's watch:

TARP
$700 Billion

That was Bush.

Federal Stimulus
$1.2 Trillion

That was Bush.

Sure Obama had his too but... is it REALLY better to just let the economy collapse? Oh wait... yeah, that's right... according to your "No taxes / No spending" platform, apparently it IS.  Wait a sec... Wasn't that the total cost of Bush's two wars?  Or was that Bush's final budget Deficit? Because I though Obama's first budget deficit was something like $1.3 Trillion.  Oh well.

Federal Reserve Rescue
$6.4 Trillion

THAT was Bush.

Holy shit.  Maybe a liberal DID put this together!

Tax.
Spend.
Redistribute.

Riiiight.  Because taxing the middle class and giving money to bankers, and multinational corporations is really LIBERAL policy.  You know it's bad when just TALKING about STOPPING the UPWARD redistribution of wealth (and not really even DOING anything about it) is met with howls and cries of "COMMUNISM!"  And you KNOW someone's really drinkin' the Vodka when BLUE COLLAR AMERICA keeps BUYING IT year after year!!!

We're BROKE.

News to me.  We've been dancing to this tune for that past 30 years, save for two years under Bill Clinton.  And there's been a Republican in the White House for 20 of them.  (More on that coming up...)

Or did you mean the Republican National Committee?

Now... I almost spit my coffee out at the graph that came up next, from 2:11 to 2:16

Pause it there for a second, because this is important.  In fact... THIS, more than anything else, actually made me believe that a Liberal DID put this together, just to see how stupid Conservatives were.  You see how it starts in  1980? The year RONALD REGAN WAS elected?  And you see how the deficits pretty much just get bigger and bigger right up until about... 1992? When BILL CLINTON was elected? Then they start getting smaller and smaller until there's a surplus for several years?  Yeah.  And according to this very graph THAT gravy train ends... IN 2002! The VERY FIRST YEAR that GEORGE W. BUSH BUDGET was in effect!!! And after that we see some REALLY BIG DEFICITS!  And the last bar on the graph? 2009? Yeah, you see THAT was ALSO a Bush Budget! Obama was ELECTED in 2008. He didn't take office until 2009, and at that time the BUSH Budget was still in effect!  It doesn't include a SINGLE YEAR of Obama deficits! NOT ONE!  That graph? It's DEMOCRATIC propaganda!  And they don't even realize it!

Who's the fool here? Are Conservatives REALLY this stupid, or am I just slow to get our side's little prank?  In any case, I've said it before and I'll say it again: If you're concerned about the deficit, for fucksake don't vote REPUBLICAN!

+10% Unemployment

Man. That's pretty bad, huh? Imagine what it might have been without all that stimulus money, huh?  George W. Bush sure did leave under a pretty big shit-pile to dig out of, didn't he? 

and now you want...
our health care?

I'll assume that this came out, like, a year ago, but how does stopping insurance companies from capriciously screwing over the customer to protect their own profits even as people literally DIE from lack of health care - and this in the most prosperous nation in the world- constitute, "wanting our health care."  I'm not even sure I really know what that means. Because, yeah I "want our health care."  As in: I want us to HAVE SOME.  Oh well, moving on...

(Great picture of Harry Reid coming up at 2:27, BTW.  I wish it was a little higher resolution. I'd blow it up, make it into a poster and hang it on my wall. Maybe I'll stick in the blog somewhere. LOL)

I'm sorry if I missed the joke, but the more I watch this, the more I think that a Liberal really DID make it, just to see if the Conservtaives would fall for it.

Backroom deals.

That was Cheney.

Payoffs.

That was Abramoff. (and Bush, and Cheney, etc...)

Blatant and Shameless Bribes

Well, yeah, you've got us there.  But we had to do SOMETHING to get a Republican or two on board for the health care bill.  So...

We've had enough.

I've had enough of this video.  And of Conservative lies and of America's totally fucking ignorance and naivety regarding you people.

We're taking our country back.

To 1860?

From Radicals

Like the TEA PARTY?

Leftists

Name one.  (OK, yeah, but no one really takes Dennis Kucinich seriously!)

And Liberals

[Up], [Up], [Up], [Up], [Home], [End], [Ctrl-C], [Down], [Down], [Down], [Down], [Ctrl-V]

We're coming after you

Well, you did LOSE, so you couldn't have possibly come BEFORE us. If you'd WON, we'd be coming after you. Inspiring stuff though. Love the music. Very "Hollywood trailer."  All they needed was Don LaFontaine to narrate.

AMERICAN RISING

Well... here's hoping the Democrats finally wake the fuck up anyway.  I'm not sure where they've been for the past two years.  As for America?  Probably more likely to take a nap for the next two years.  They'll probably "wake up" sometime in late 2012.

November 2, 2010

(In case those senior citizens at the Tea Party rallies who want to keep Government out of Medicare forget the date.)

Now... the next part, from 3:06 to 3:11, I think, finally shows what the Republicans are REALLY offering, what they REALLY stand for.  Don't you agree?

I'm sorry.

Did I miss the point of this?  Or are Republican voters REALLY this fucking stupid?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cooler heads Prevail...

So it turns out that the Southern Florida Pastor with nothing going for him but a moustache will NOT end up burning the Koran after all.

I chalk that up to a fluke victory of common sense over Religious fanaticism, but in other news John Boehner has indicated that he may be willing to work with Democrats to preserve the Bush tax cuts for the middle class, even if it means that the top tier cuts will expire.

Now... Both of these are hard for me to read.  Did they finally realize just how stupid they were being?  Did they give in to public pressure?  Were they just otherwise good people got carried away in the moment and have came (back) to their senses just in time?  Who knows.  Although with Boehner, I have no doubt that he NEVER had any sense and still doesn't.  I don't know about Father Fu-manchu, but somehow I just can't trust a preacher with such stylized facial hair. LOL. 

Whatever.

I'm interested to see how this all plays out.  Will the pastor catch flack for not standing firm?  I know he won't get much credit for NOT doing ti, since anyone inclined to give him THAT was appalled that he was considering it in the first place.  And what about Boehner? How does THAT play out?  Can the Republicans take credit for helping tax relief get through, even though they were stalling it?  Seems to me that this SHOULD hand the Democrats some good ammo heading into November. Not the press is likely to let them have it though. OTOH... how will the "all or nothing" tea-baggers respond?  They should be happy with the compromise, especially seeing as how 99.999% of them fall into the lower 98% that will benefit from what Obama is proposing, and who have already benefited from the lower taxes as part of the stimulus package that they all hate so much.  "Taxed enough already" but they are scared to death about the deficit.  They want lower taxes and will vote Republican, despite the fact that Republicans were obstructing... LOWER TAXES.  Well... it looks like they'll get they're lower taxes, but do the Republicans get hurt simply for going along with the hated Democrats and the hated Pelosi and the Hated Obama?

You wouldn't think so, but then... WHY ARE they the "hated" Democrats, Pelosi, Obama, etc... when 98% of these idiots are getting EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT from them?  It's really absurd.  But you never can figure out what will happen when so many people act so stupidly

Anyway... Lots of questions.  And I don't have the answers.  But I'm curious to hear your all's take on it so let me know.

(BTW... This kind of leads into my post about the Republican Propaganda Video that shows how stupid Republicans are, which should be the next thing I post.)

Hope your all having a nice weekend.  Later!

Friday, September 10, 2010

My and Steeve's conversation about the origin of Christianity...

I'd like to continue the conversation that Steeve and I were having about the origin of Christianity by posting (with his permission) some of the emails we've recently exchanged, and include a bit of a follow-up at the end.  I invite anyone else who's interested to chime in at any time.  (To keep things clear - who's saying what - I'm going to highlight Steeve's words in yellow, leaving my own in the default color of the blog.)

First, Steeve's email from 26 August:
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Sorry about the extreme lateness of this. It proved to be difficult, thus my laziness kicked into overdrive. I don't have a blog, and you're welcome to use this on yours in whatever way seems fit -- ignoring it, abridging it to the part that you find most relevant, deciding that such long rambling has no place on a political blog, whatever.



Most of N T Wright's book on the resurrection of Jesus deals with the religious context that existed before the rise of Christianity. His central assertion is that when a Jew of the period used resurrection-type language, they always, always, meant a physical, tangible, bodily return from the dead. Not a ghost or vision or disembodiment or a mere entering into heaven or a vague sort of exaltation.


This assertion might not bother you enough to find it worth questioning, but if it holds it virtually destroys modern scholarship on the rise of Christianity. They say that the bodily stuff morphed out of exaltation traditions. But instead we find that right from the beginning (see particularly I Corinthians 15:3-8), the core belief of the earliest Christians is the bodily resurrection of Jesus.


Wright's second assertion about the religious context is that no non-Jew believed that this sort of resurrection was possible, and that among the Jews, only one branch (the Pharisees) believed it was possible, and that branch believed that it would only happen one time, to everyone at once, at the end of the world. Early Christianity is thus an innovation, modifying Pharisaic Judaism by splitting the event in two (first Jesus, then everyone) and postulating that the resurrection body is glorified and transformed (yet still very physical), and centering that notion of transformation into their theology.


(Other "resurrection" stories like Lazarus in John 11:43-44 lack the element of transformation, so Wright suggests the term "resuscitation" to refer to them. And I might be having a brain fart here, but I think that even stories of this type are absent from the religious context, thus their appearance in the gospels postdate (and are influenced by) the rise of earliest Christianity, solidifying the assertion that early Christianity represents an innovation.)


The centrality and innovation of the resurrection in early Christianity suggests that its inception was caused by external events, not the psychology of the believers. There are many strange ways in which people cling to a false belief, but early Christianity represents the apostles being wrong, and modifying their beliefs.


Though the contradictions in the Jesus resurrection stories in the gospels are a problem for a Biblical inerrantist, they are a boon for a historian. Four accounts that agree on everything reflect a single source, removing the value of having multiple accounts. Four accounts that disagree work like 3D glasses, allowing a historian to focus in on the underlying tradition. That underlying tradition defies hypotheses of fictionalization and invention, most notably in the prominence of female witnesses (who were categorically unacceptable to Jews of the period) and the strange nature of Jesus's body (particularly the way that it didn't shine brightly as the religious context would have demanded).


Wright contends that the early Christians were driven to modify Pharisaic tradition by historical fact. An empty tomb by itself is insufficient -- resurrection simply didn't happen except at the end of the world, and a mere puzzle wouldn't change that. Appearances of Jesus are insufficient -- ancient people were comfortable with notions of visions and would not modify tradition just because it happened again. But the empty tomb and appearances of Jesus together are sufficient. If they are also necessary to explain the rise of Christianity, then the empty tomb and the appearances of Jesus are historical fact. The main evidence that they are necessary is the lack of counterexamples. If any other set of postulates is sufficient to explain the rise of the very specific early Christian belief under consideration, then neither would be necessary. No such counterexample exists.


The conclusion is that the empty tomb and the appearances of Jesus are historical fact. There is still a gap between this and belief in the resurrection, but that gap will probably have to be bridged by philosophy, not history.
 
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To which I replied:
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Hey, I really appreciate that you took the time to pull this together. However, I maintain that it does little to convince me. I'll try to keep in mind that you're giving me a (very) brief of someone's extensive work summarizing many other works - I'll accept that there's obviously a lot more than just what's is posted here. That having been said, I have several problems, and still many of the same problems, with the argument being put forth:


1) It still hinges on there being anything resembling a consensus when it comes to "modern scholarship on the rise of Christianity." A quick look in wiki will reveals that there is at least a DEBATE on the matter, and little in the way of consensus as he seems to suggest/assume. So when you say (presumably based on what he's saying) that "none of the secular scholars" agree with me (for example) that the apostles were either deluded, frauds or some combination thereof, that's simply false. As I see it, this deals only with ONE school of thought: The "morphed out of exaltation" school.

2) As I was saying in (1) he's assuming the Apostles were in fact telling the truth and are reliable sources. I'm not sure why I (or anyone) should accept that when were looking into the veracity of their own claims! And again, don't give me "modern scholars don't agree with you" because the fact is SOME DO. (And even if NONE did, that's hardly relevant, since your;e saying "they're all wrong" anyway!) But just because he chooses not to deal with them doesn't mean that they're not out there.

3) There are some other leaps of logic that I question. For example:

a- "An empty tomb by itself is insufficient." (Agreed - it could have simply been pillaged by bandits or desecrated by the Romans or the other Jews.)

b- "Appearances of Jesus are insufficient." (Agreed - People see Elvis all the damn time. Not to mention the Virgin Mary in their French Toast, etc...)

c- "But the empty tomb and appearances of Jesus together are sufficient." (HUH?! How the hell do you concluded THAT?! How is it not still 100% probable - and in fact considerably more likely - that (a) the grave was plundered and (b) someone had an Elvis sighting?! And (c) the Apostles, seeing this golden opportunity, decided to run with it?) (And not to be judgemental of them: Perhaps they were so inspired by the man (Jesus) that they felt his legacy HAD to go on, and just could not bear the "failure" that his death would rep[resent.)

The logic doesn't follow because he deals only with one or two competing hypotheses. It still ignores the simplest explanation. As to why "most scholars" don't argue as I do? (1) I still don't care - that doesn't make it an unreasonable hypothesis; and (2) I guaren-goddamn-tee you that SOME DO.

I'm sorry. maybe I'm just being too narrow in my focus, (or maybe you were in yours,) but there are two necessary assumptions to buy into all of this that I see no good reason to accept: (1) That the apostles were both honest AND reliable sources and (2) That there is anything resembling a consensus when it comes to alternative explanations. The one he chose to shoot down here is only one. Well done. I'll give you/him that. He did a fantastic job annihilating the ONE alternative explanation. But other, perfectly reasonable explanations are go unchallenged. Plus: He's speaking for others who are not there to make there counterpoints. Unless you've read the work of the men he's citing (and I HAVE NOT) you cannot assume that he is truly representing their work and their evidence accurately.

I still see someone who interpreting the evidence to make an argument. IMHO there's bias at work here. He does well, but I don't see why I HAVE to accept his interpretations over others. He's just one voice of many in a debate, only he seems to be imply that there IS no debate - just him proving everyone's consensus wrong.

(end part, the first)

In any case, I'd still very much like to post it (as well as my response above in the comments section). There's certainly no rule that says my blog is strictly political. Considering the little amount of research I do into current events (LOL) it's closer to say that it's a blog about "political philosophy" than strictly politics. And religion - especially in THIS country - is for better or worse a key component of Political Philosophy. So I'll probably put it up sometime next week, unless you really don't want me to, in which case just let me know and I'll keep it offline.

And either way: THANKS AGAIN. I never fail to appreciate anything that really gives me something to think about, and I wouldn't want you to be under the impression that I consider my response above to be any kind of "final word" on the matter. Religion remains something that really interests me, so I intend to keep digging, keep reading, keep trying to understand it, even if only from an academic / hobbyist standpoint.
 
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he replied:
 
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If you post, I'll have a response. The first two sentences will be something like: the apostles aren't being trusted to tell us that the resurrection happened. They're being "trusted" to tell us the precise nature of early Christian belief, which once established needs to be explained.



If you're able to cite people who specialize in the field promoting significantly different theories, particularly the "apostles were frauds" one, I'll appreciate it.

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So... I'll put my reply here, rather than emailing it, and if there is more to yours, I know you'll feel free to let me know.
 
First point - that "the apostles aren't being trusted to tell us that the resurrection happened. They're being 'trusted' to tell us the precise nature of early Christian belief, which once established needs to be explained."
 
WTF?  Look, the two are one and the same if their explanation for the "precise nature of early Christian belief" happens to BE that "the resurrection happened."  Which is pretty much what I see being presented here.  Christian belief is ROOTED in the belief in the Resurrection.  I'm sorry, but you lost me again. I just can't follow the logic of trying to separate the two, especially when this is in response to the original point of Stephen Roberts that: "When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours." If the resurrection didn't happen, then there's no need for further debate.  And you're playing logic games in trying to avoid that point.
 
So... PLEASE: Clarify.  Because I have no problem admitting that I just don't get it.
 
Second point - Now, you almost had me with this one.  I was this close to challenging you to prove that there aren't any "people who specialize in the field promoting significantly different theories," but of course that burden of proof is not on you at all.  And as one who'd like to occasionally think of himself as a critical thinker, I KNOW THIS.  So... shame of me for even thinking it.
 
That being said, I don't know who you'll consider a person "specializ[ing] in the field" but I found several "different theories" just on Wikipedia:
 
Under "Resurrection of Jesus" there is an "Origin of the Narrative" section about halfway down.
 
It starts: The ultimate origin of the Apostles early belief in the resurrection of Jesus is debated by theologians, scholars and lay persons alike.
 
So... right off the bat one cannot claim that there is a single consensus to debunk, as Wright appears to do.  (At least in the material you have presented.  Again, admittedly, I have not read his book.)
 
It gives some evidence against the idea of a deliberate fraud (though without citation). 
 
It then goes on to reference E.P. Sanders, who argues that "a plot to foster belief in the Resurrection would probably have resulted in a more consistent story, and that some of those who were involved in the events gave their lives for their belief. However, Sanders offers his own hypothesis, different from the supporters, claiming that "there seems to have been a competition: 'I saw him,' 'so did I,' 'the women saw him first,' 'no, I did; they didn't see him at all,' and so on."
 
This is bot as blunt as the "frauds" argument I laid out, but the logic is the same. It continues:
 
"James D.G. Dunn writes that where the apostle Paul's resurrection experience was "visionary in character" and "non-physical, non-material" the accounts in the Gospels are very different. He contends that the "massive realism'...of the [Gospel] appearances themselves can only be described as visionary with great difficulty - and Luke would certainly reject the description as inappropriate" and that the earliest conception of resurrection in the Jerusalem Christian community was physical."
 
I'm not claiming to understand the ultimate point here, but there fact of there being a contradiction present in the Gospels or, at a minimum, differing interpretations about the claims being made, is, to me, self-evident.
 
Helmut Koester writes that the stories of the resurrection were originally more like the visionary experience of Paul and that they were interpreted as physical proof of the event at a secondary stage. He contends that the exact details of the resurrection story are also secondary and do not come from historically trustworthy information but belong to the genre of the narrative types.
 
Now... THIS does seem to be along the lines of what Wright is arguing directly against, but Koestner's point is the same as mine: Why should we believe the Apostles?  Even if they aren't necessarily "frauds" at a minimum they gained a large and dedicated following from pushing this narrative.  It doesn't mean their intentions were BAD per se, but their accounts are too self-serving to be taken at face value.
 
Moving on to "Resurrection Appearances of Jesus" we have James A. Keller "question[ing] the reliability of the resurrection appearances, claiming: "All we have is other people's accounts of what the eyewitnesses purportedly saw, and these accounts are typically sketchy and were written many years later. Thus, the historian who wants to understand what the resurrection event was must use later, sketchy, second-hand accounts of what the eyewitnesses saw, and from these accounts he must try to determine what theresurrection event was.
 
Origins of Christianity offers many alternate explanations.  None are specifically relevant, but I contend that it's evidence that there is, in fact a debate, and that Wright continues to deal with the issue as if there were a consensus rather than a variety of opinions, beliefs and arguments being put forth.
 
There was another one - and I'll ammend this post if I can find it, but so far I'm coming up empty - that claimed that the apostles were so taken with Jesus and his teaching that they just could not deal with, or accept, the failure that his death would represent, relative to Jewish prophecy.  So they concocted the Resurrection story as a way of continuing his legacy and ministry. 
 
Personally, that last one is the one I find most likely.