Weekend Update 09-29-2012

Posted: September 29th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 09-29-2012

How the Scriptures become Scripture. Yep. The Apostles did not leave behind a clear canon of texts. They left a Church into which they had poured their lives. And it was that Church which preserved and eventually canonized their surviving writings.

I hope Robert Reich is right, but I’m not certain. I think there’s a significant swath of our country that really is that racist and will otherwise vote for people who want to do things to them that are contrary to their own self-interest. Their hate and other irrational forces override even that basic element. In order for people to vote and make a decisions from a perspective of rational self-interest (which I consider a vastly lower threshold than a perspective of love) they have to be able to perceive reality as something close to what it actually is. And I’m not seeing that in our country today.

Mitt Romney — the confidence fairy!

Jay Smooth on the tale of the two tapes — Romney’s and Obama’s from four years ago. Yep, they do tell very different stories as they reveal the character of the two men.

And what’s the polite way to say we think Mitt’s a bit weird?


Weekend Update 09-22-2012

Posted: September 22nd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 09-22-2012

Deification (theosis) is also self-emptying (kenosis) for there is no other kind of life revealed to us in Christ. The fullness of life in Christ is found in His emptiness. Fr. Stephen again. Also be sure to read his post, Hiding and the Hidden God.

The secret video of remarks by Romney at a fundraiser didn’t really reveal anything new to anyone who has been paying even the slightest attention. The grotesque meme that half our country consists of grifters and deadbeats has been circulating on the right for quite some time now. But perhaps having it exposed in such a public manner will finally begin to purify the putrid mess. This is the true face of the modern GOP. And the meme if completely wrong, of course. Yes, at this particular moment in time, about half our country does not pay any federal income tax. I’ve discussed this particular bit of lying with statistics in the past, but Mark Thoma does an excellent job of stepping through all the facts, not just a select few. Those not paying income tax right now are overwhelmingly students and the elderly. And those are groups who either will pay federal income tax in the future or who have paid them over the course of their lives. Most of the rest of the current bump is a direct result of the Great Recession itself. When you’re out of a job or have dropped into the bottom quintile by taking a job with much lower pay, you don’t tend to pay income tax. Moreover, federal income tax is just one tax out of many and is designed to be the least regressive. Federal payroll taxes are paid by everyone with wage income. State and local taxes and fees are paid by everyone. And consumption taxes like sales, gasoline, and excise taxes tend to be a much larger share of the tax burden on the poor. I will also point out that since our country now has the least class mobility of any industrialized nation, if you’re born poor, the odds are you will remain poor your entire life. As a friend of mine pointed out at work, we actually have a model of “supply-side economics” taken to its logical extreme. It was called feudalism. Krugman has a few words as well.

An excerpt from Romney’s speech receiving less attention than others — his 95% comment. The article explores just how extraordinarily out of touch Ann and Mitt Romney are from the reality of living in this country. They actually seem to believe their own delusional statements. As a teen parent in one of the poorest counties in our country, and with parents who, at least at that time, didn’t have much either, I certainly relied on the fragments of our porous safety net to keep from plunging even lower than we did. (And we’re talking not always having electricity or running water or enough food version of near bottom. Fortunately, at the worst, we did always have family who had homes, so actual homelessness was never an imminent danger.) I got lucky. Simple as that. Sure, I’ve worked hard. And I’m pretty intelligent. But mostly? Pure luck. I live in a country that is overall wealthy (though the gap has grown substantially since those days). I’m a white male from a family that is highly educated, even if they haven’t always had money. And all of that matters. And then at a number of key points in my life, I was simply in the right place at the right time and got a chance to show what I could do. Mitt succeeded on his own? If he had been born into a barely literate, dirt poor family in the Ozarks that would be a believable story. As it is? Not so much. But apparently he and his wife believe it.

An excellent article exploring the question of whether or not Romney can get a majority.

Of course the three-tier health care LaVonne Neff proposes would work. So would many others. And all better than what we do now.


Weekend Update 09-15-2012

Posted: September 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 09-15-2012

Once again, the facts fail to support GOP ideology. This time it’s their predilection to blame the poor for being poor that’s not supported by any evidence. Not that I believe facts or evidence will make any more difference here than they have anywhere else. Sigh.

So it sounds like at least some Republicans (Rand Paul in this case) actually believe in the fantasy world they inhabit and are shocked when thinks like facts, this time on the plummeting levels of government employment under President Obama, contradict their delusions. Of course, I tend to believe that people who can’t tell fact from fantasy are poor candidates for actually governing our country. Unfortunately, it seems to many of our citizens prefer fantasy to reality and elect leaders who reflect their fantasies back to them. And there’s apparently a video of Rand Paul’s reaction if anyone wants to see it.

Yes, Romney thinks we’re stupid. It’s an open question at this point whether or not he’s right — or at least right about enough voting Americans to win the election.

Obstruct and Exploit. Yep. If we reward people who refuse to actually govern, then we will entrench that behavior.

The federal government is an insurance company with an army. Yep. A pretty accurate description. I happen to work for the billing/accounts receivable bit of that government, but overall? Yep, that’s about it.

Here’s a shocker. The Census Bureau reports the income gap between the top fifth of Americans and the rest of the country grew sharply in 2011.

The iPhone Stimulus. The magical belief that a dollar spent in our economy by the government is somehow different in nature than a dollar spent by a business or individual is one of the stranger ones out there.

The Truth About Dishonesty.


Weekend Update 09-08-2012

Posted: September 8th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 09-08-2012

DecodeDC. It’s a project by ex-NPR reporter Andrea Seabrook drawing on her years of frustration trying to cover politics in Washington.

Rosie Ruiz Republicans. Again, I can’t really think of anything to add.

The Luck of the Draw. “Spirituality consists in how you deal with what you’ve been dealt.” People who learn something of my life are often shocked by my experiences. Heck, even my own wife is sometimes surprised and doesn’t really understand how I’m as sane as I am. Like most people, I can’t really imagine a life other than the one I’ve had. But I suppose it has strayed from what most people would consider a “normal” life. Yet it is fundamentally my life. And anything I can call spirituality necessarily operates within its context. So this post by Fr. Stephen resonates deeply with me.

Read to the bottom of the post. It was good to see someone else mention Nixon’s health care reform proposal. Yes, the ACA is essentially Romney’s health reform plan implemented at the national level. And yes, Romney’s plan was the natural extension of the Republican 1993 health reform bill. And yes, that bill in turn developed from the work of conservative politicians and think tanks in the 80s. But before all of that, the roots of the entire constellation of the GOP health care reform proposals over the past four decades (until Obama had the unmitigated gall to agree with them in 2009) can be found in Nixon’s proposal. It failed because of Democratic opposition. Senator Ted Kennedy and most Democrats wanted essentially Medicare for everyone. (I still think that was and is the superior solution, but at this point that’s water under the bridge.) Some of my early childhood memories include Watergate on TV. I remember going to see All the President’s Men with my mother when I was ten or eleven. It’s somewhat strange that we would wax nostalgic for a president like Tricky Dick today. But it does help illustrate how utterly insane the current version of the GOP has become.

The metaphor of a house fire is a good one in this instance. It’s better, at least, than much of the claptrap that passes for journalism today.

I haven’t watched the video of President Clinton’s speech, but I did want to highlight a line from the text — one that reflects something I’ve said repeatedly. “People ask me all the time how we delivered four surplus budgets.  What new ideas did we bring? I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic.” The math involved is not even particularly difficult. The GOP has become brazen in its lies and magical thinking. It’s time for them to pay the price. If you reward people for lying, they will continue to lie to you.

Cleaning up the Economy. Yup. We’ve needed and still need more debt relief, more capital infusion to stop the shedding of government jobs at the state and local level which has formed the real drag on our economy (each such job lost has multiplying ripple effects in an already weak economy), and similar measures, but we have cleared the worst and are on the right track.

Linus Torvalds delivers a smackdown like no other. A collection of some of his better ones. Read and enjoy!

I don’t watch the party conventions. I don’t listen to much political speech. I prefer to get the proposals and policies and dig into them. And I may skim the printed version of a major speech. But I heard so much buzz about Michelle Obama’s speech, I decided to check it out for myself. All I can say is, damn. She was good. See for yourself.

Ryan a Catholic? Perhaps. But not a very good one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Nzy5TuwcLc

And that intrigued me. So I found Sister Simone’s “Nuns on the Bus” kick-off. Paul Ryan ticked her off when he claimed his budget reflected Catholic social doctrine. In some way, I think I’m Christian in no small part because of the influence nuns have had on my life at different junctures. And not a one of them ever cared that I wasn’t Catholic — or maybe even Christian — when I encountered them.

And this was the final stop of the Nuns on the Bus.

And then I discovered Sr. Simone had been on The Colbert Report. Enjoy!

The Colbert Report
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Weekend Update 09-01-2012

Posted: September 1st, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 09-01-2012

The Romney Lying Machine. Nothing surprising. And it’s hardly just Romney. The entire GOP lies. Constantly. Blatantly. Egregiously. And they mostly get away with it. The days of newspeak are upon us.

Saving Serious Ryan. Since most people won’t read the report and, as far as I can tell, apparently can’t handle basic mathematics, gaming the system “works.

Galt, Gold, and God. Personally, I think all the arrogant, pretentious GOP “leaders” like Ryan desperately need a “Trading Places” experience. Strip them of wealth, reputation, connections, and every other support system, throw them out on the streets, and then see what they think of America’s social safety net. I doubt any of them would do as well as Dan Akroyd did. They have eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear.

Voucherizing Medicare. It’s really a matter of whether or not the American people are as collectively stupid as the GOP obviously believes we are. Guess we’ll see.

Republicans: We Won’t Build That. I can’t even think of a comment to add. It’s sad, really.

LaVonne Neff looks at four countries that already meet the Republican Party’s stated “goals” for a health care system (since they still lack anything that could even loosely be called a plan). Of course, pretty much every developed nation except the US already manages to provide quality, cost-effective health care to all its citizens, so it’s not very difficult to find examples. And her reference at the end of this post is priceless. And deadly accurate.

RomneyRyanomics: A Bad Deal for the Working Class. As he notes in the article, their economic plan basically involves slashing the programs on which the middle class depends and raising middle class taxes in order to pay for massive tax cuts to the wealthy. I find it hard to believe that’s actually what most Americans want, but then people rarely act in rational ways. And when we do, it’s often not actually because it’s rational. We’re much better at rationalizing a decision, which is not the same thing at all.

Krugman on the five themes expressed during the RNC. They all share a common element. Not that I bother watching political conventions either.

Robert Reich isn’t even covering Macroeconomics 101 in this post. His points are so basic that those who don’t already know them simply have no idea how an economy functions. Now I wouldn’t put people like Romney in that category. I imagine he does understand. He just doesn’t care. His goal seems to be to win power so he can further enrich himself and his peers while reducing or eliminating any financial obligation they still have to the country and society that provided the framework and support that allowed them to acquire that wealth in the first place.

Medicare Killers. Yep. Basically, they are doubling down on their belief that the American public is too stupid to tell their *ss from a hole in the ground. Sadly, they might be right.

Gluten and MSG “hidden” in foods.

I’m still enjoying “Now, I’m the One’s That’s Cool!” Truth be told, my childhood and high school experience was more … complicated … than the stereotype. RPG player and gamemaster. Beat Space Invaders when that cost quarters. (And anyone remember the Mattel handheld football game) Straight A student who competed in things like math contests. Actor. Football player. Tended to flirt. Teen parent. And things I don’t write about. I had a foot in a lot of different worlds, but didn’t wholly belong to any. In a lot of ways, that’s still true.