Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's funny cause it's true...actually it's not funny, it's not funny at all.

from 'The Onion'

I'm Not One Of Those 'Love Thy Neighbor' Christians

By Janet Cosgrove
November 19, 2008 | Issue 44•47

Everybody has this image of "crazy Christians" based on what they hear in the media, but it's just not true. Most Christians are normal, decent folks. We don't all blindly follow a bunch of outdated biblical tenets or go all fanatical about every bit of dogma. What I'm trying to say is, don't let the actions of a vocal few color your perceptions about what the majority of us are like.

Like me. I may be a Christian, but it's not like I'm one of those wacko "love your neighbor as yourself " types.

God forbid!

I'm here to tell you there are lots of Christians who aren't anything like the preconceived notions you may have. We're not all into "turning the other cheek." We don't spend our days committing random acts of kindness for no credit. And although we believe that the moral precepts in the Book of Leviticus are the infallible word of God, it doesn't mean we're all obsessed with extremist notions like "righteousness" and "justice."

My faith in the Lord is about the pure, simple values: raising children right, saying grace at the table, strictly forbidding those who are Methodists or Presbyterians from receiving communion because their beliefs are heresies, and curing homosexuals. That's all. Just the core beliefs. You won't see me going on some frothy-mouthed tirade about being a comfort to the downtrodden.

I'm a normal Midwestern housewife. I believe in the basic teachings of the Bible and the church. Divorce is forbidden. A woman is to be an obedient subordinate to the male head of the household. If a man lieth down with another man, they shall be taken out and killed. Things everybody can agree on, like the miracle of glossolalia that occurred during Pentecost, when the Apostles were visited by the Holy Spirit, who took the form of cloven tongues of fire hovering just above their heads. You know, basic common sense stuff.

But that doesn't mean I think people should, like, forgive the sins of those who trespass against them or anything weird like that.

We're not all "Jesus Freaks" who run around screaming about how everyone should "Judge not lest ye be judged," whine "Blessed are the meek" all the time, or drone on and on about how we're all equal in the eyes of God! Some of us are just trying to be good, honest folks who believe the unbaptized will roam the Earth for ages without the comfort of God's love when Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior returns on Judgment Day to whisk the righteous off to heaven.

Now, granted, there are some Christians on the lunatic fringe who take their beliefs a little too far. Take my coworker Karen, for example. She's way off the deep end when it comes to religion: going down to the homeless shelter to volunteer once a month, donating money to the poor, visiting elderly shut-ins with the Meals on Wheels program—you name it!

But believe me, we're not all that way. The people in my church, for the most part, are perfectly ordinary Americans like you and me. They believe in the simple old-fashioned traditions—Christmas, Easter, the slow and deliberate takeover of more and more county school boards to get the political power necessary to ban evolution from textbooks statewide. That sort of thing.

We oppose gay marriage as an abomination against the laws of God and America, we're against gun control, and we fervently and unwaveringly believe that the Jews, Muslims, and all on earth who are not born-again Pentecostalists are possessed by Satan and should be treated as such.

When it comes down to it, all we want is to see every single member of the human race convert to our religion or else be condemned by a jealous and wrathful God to suffer an eternity of agony and torture in the Lake of Fire!

I hope I've helped set the record straight, and I wish you all a very nice day! God bless you!


How 'Ordinary' Christians do business:

More layoffs at Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family spent more than $500,000 to pass California's Prop. 8 gay marriage ban. The ministry announced this afternoon that 202 jobs will be cut companywide — an estimated 20 percent of its workforce. Initial reports bring the total number of remaining employees to around 950.

Focus on the Family is poised to announce major layoffs to its Colorado Springs-based ministry and media empire today. The cutbacks come just weeks after the group pumped more than half a million dollars into the successful effort to pass a gay-marriage ban in California.

Critics are holding up the layoffs, which come just two months after the organization’s last round of dismissals, as a sad commentary on the true priorities of the ministry. [The Colorado Independent]

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Want to learn how to lie with a 'straight' face?

...then take notes from Tony Perkins:

Civil Rights are not a matter of "majority rule", they are "inalienable". In who's reality should civil rights be eliminated through popular vote? What do you think would have happened if the actions passed through the Civil Rights movement were to have been voted on?

California made history last week, to be sure, but not the kind of history we like and can be proud of and certainly not the kind of history we're known for. In 1948, California led the nation by becoming the first state to strike down bans on interracial marriage. In the Perez v Sharp decision that found marriage to be a fundamental right, the state Supreme court stated "the right to marry is the right to join in marriage with the person of one's choice" (emphasis added). Nearly 20 years later, the United States Supreme Court agreed that marriage was a "basic civil right" when it struck down anti-miscegenation laws all across the country.

Last Tuesday a very narrow majority of voters decided to make history again: California is now the first state in the nation to take away a currently existing civil right from a group of citizens. This national embarrassment by way of constitutional amendment is made all the more painful and unjust by the manner in which it was passed: the subjection of individual rights to a popular vote. [Prop 8 Makes Wrong Kind of History]
The ruling by the California Supreme Court earlier this year that sparked the signature campaign placing Prop 8 on the ballot spoke of the "overarching values of equality and human freedom," the "fundamental right" of marriage, the importance of giving same-sex unions "equal dignity and respect," and the constitutional obligation of the court "to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority." I've been wanting to get to this story for some time now and want to be clear that I am NOT here to make a theological statement. This is not a religious issue, but a constitutional one, and the constitution does not allow for this kind of infringement. The church can determine who it shall and shall not marry and God can decide who's bonds are held in His eyes, but the State should be in no business of withholding a minority's rights in accordance with fluctuating public opinion. The truth is not a democracy. The truth is not determined by a majority vote (Especially not 51 to 49). If anyone should know this it should be Christians. Congratulations to the Church for leading yet another movement in American history that will be on the wrong side of history.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Let's Talk Bias

Let's be honest, the media's true bias is sensationalism and newness. Nothing gets under my skin more than the "Liberal media bias" strawman, and apparently I'm not the only one. Even Fox News' Shepard Smith (that's right, Fox) is tired of the ridiculousness of this scapegoat:


The long-term goals of the right wing's attacks on the media: to delegitimize an Obama presidency in the eyes of many Americans, and to browbeat journalists into covering an Obama administration much more critically than they otherwise would.

Whether those goals are met depends in part on whether journalists take the attacks seriously, or recognize them as the predictable continuation of a right-wing work-the-refs strategy that is so fraudulent it even involved claiming the media were devoting insufficient attention to Monica Lewinsky. And it depends in part on whether progressives push back on the bogus narrative that the media handed Obama the election, or simply ignore it.


In efforts to look balanced at all costs this campaign's coverage and even fact checkers have been too often awash with false equivalence and balance for the sake of balance, neither of which honor truth in an effort to not be labeled or discounted. If there are 3 Factual stories breaking that are unflattering toward one candidate and only 1 Factual story unflattering toward the other, there is no integrity in airing one and one for the sake of a false balance. Tell the truth. That is the job. That is the responsibility. As the journalist says,
"Imposing artificial balance on this reality would be a bias of its own....when journalists try so hard to avoid accusations of favoritism it clouds critical judgment. A good example were stories suggesting Palin held her own or even won her debate against Joe Biden when it seemed obvious she was simply invoking whatever talking points she had at hand, hanging on for dear life."


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Day After Tomorrow

Full Transcript: Click Here

"The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other. Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers. In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people."

Opinion Round Up:

NY Times: "The Next President"

LA Times: "Obama's Victory is a Mandate for Change"

Amanpour / CNN: "World Welcomes Obama with Open Arms, Demands"

Truthdig: "Morning Again in America"


Monday, November 03, 2008

The Flaw in the Plan

Trading ambition for ideals, McCain made the mistake of aligning his campaign with the culture warriors instead of running as himself. The fatal flaw was exposed: because before God, America worships money, and culture wars call a truce when the economic woes reign supreme. Sure the tide has shifted in Evangelical circles to bring about more progressive tendencies, but on the whole the Almighty Dollar supercedes the Almighty God (and sometimes they're one in the same). The only thing evangelicals love more than God is money, and this ultimately marked the end of John McCain. He would have known this if he hadn't been such an outsider. Only a true evangelical would have known.

In the Washington Post today, Peter Beinart says Culture War just isn’t selling anymore, and that only 6% of voters now name “issues like abortion, guns and same-sex marriage” as a big deal:

The economic challenges of the coming era are complicated, fascinating and terrifying, while the cultural battles of the 1960s feel increasingly stale …. Although she seems like a fresh face, Sarah Palin actually represents the end of an era. She may be the last culture warrior on a national ticket for a very long time.

The relationship between prosperity and cultural conflict isn't exact, of course, but it is significant that during this era's culture war we've gone a quarter-century without a serious recession. Economic issues have mattered in presidential elections, of course, but not until today have we faced an economic crisis so grave that it made cultural questions seem downright trivial. In 2000, in the wake of an economic boom and a sex scandal that led to a president's impeachment, 22 percent of Americans told exit pollsters that "moral values" were their biggest concern, compared with only 19 percent who cited the economy.

Today, according to a recent Newsweek poll, the economy is up to 44 percent and "issues like abortion, guns and same-sex marriage" down to only 6 percent. It's no coincidence that Palin's popularity has plummeted as the financial crisis has taken center stage. From her championing of small-town America to her efforts to link Barack Obama to former domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, Palin is treading a path well-worn by Republicans in recent decades. She's depicting the campaign as a struggle between the culturally familiar and the culturally threatening, the culturally traditional and the culturally exotic. But Obama has dismissed those attacks as irrelevant, and the public, focused nervously on the economic collapse, has largely tuned them out.

Palin's attacks are also failing because of generational change. The long-running, internecine baby boomer cultural feud just isn't that relevant to Americans who came of age after the civil rights, gay rights and feminist revolutions. Even many younger evangelicals are broadening their agendas beyond abortion, stem cells, school prayer and gay marriage. ["Last of the Culture Warriors" -]

Sarah Palin may symbolize the last Republican culture warrior:
They’re still out there, still angry and still illiterate. But there’s not enough of them to win elections anymore, and the new Great Depression has even knocked some common sense into a few of these people — this year, a lot of bitters sort of cleared the Rove Goo from their eyes and realized being permanently enraged about guns or Mexicans is not really the path to wealth and happiness.

Younger voters just don’t care much about race, they aren’t paranoid about homosexuals trying to do whatever it is they fear homosexuals want to do to poor dumb white people, and they’re very much in favor of the kinds of things Dingbat Palin mocks with such enthusiasm: environmental protection, alternative energy and government-backed health care.

And surprise, surprise, younger voters are going heavily to Obama and Democrats across the board. Older voters are surprisingly in the tank — that Medicare and Social Security is pretty good stuff, HENGHH? — and “that one” has the wealthy and the educated on his side. ["Palin Fighting 'Culture War' Nobody Cares About" -]

The reason that recent presidential elections have been so close, and Congress so narrowly divided, is that voters actually share both a broad distrust of both political parties and government and a basic civic outlook. For example, in 2000, the Mother of All Red/Blue Elections, he found that exactly 62 percent of voters in red states and blue states should tolerate each others' "moral views." But finding neither team attractive, voters naturally split their votes about evenly between the two unpopular sides. That isn't polarization; it is simple sorting.

Noisy, persistent conflicts aren't a sign of civic rot, but of humans being human. Americans are indeed frustrated and challenged by a lack of community, by rapid social and technological change and by economic pessimism. But our values are not the problem. ["Five Myths About Values Voters" -]

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

"America is just not gonna be the same"

I love watching how satisfied the first lady is after her little rant. Her head twitching, you can tell she doesn't even believe it, she's just angry. It's all over her face.

Oh the lies they believe...that's a pretty good grouping of most of the things I've heard from the less-than-critical class, and it's all at one rally!
"And I keep looking for that blindfold faith
Lighting candles to a cynical saint
Who wants the last laugh at the fly trapped in the windowsill tape
You can go right out of your mind trying to escape
From the panicked paradox of day to day
If you can’t understand something then it’s best to be afraid

And they keep moving at a glacial pace
Turning circles in a memory maze
I made a new cast of the death mask that is going to cover my face
I had to change the combination to the safe
Hide it all behind a wall, let people wait
And never trust a heart that is so bent it can’t break"

- "Classic Cars" - Conor Oberst

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

America's Socialist Tendencies or Just More GOP Fearmongering?

The latest desperation jab from the McCain campaign accuses Obama of wanting to "spread the wealth."

Thank you, John McCain, for shoving the issue of "redistributing wealth" back into political primetime. Just two problems. You're only a quarter-century or so late -- and you have everything backwards.

When the Bush Administration is in the process of spending $1 trillion in taxpayer dollars to bailout some of the richest people in the country, while refusing to extend unemployment benefits for victims of the financial collapse or force banks to renegotiate predatory loans, I've gotta think that a few of Sarah Palin's "real Americans" are warming to the idea of spreading the wealth.

What Republicans don't want you to know is that redistribution of income and wealth toward the rich has be happening for decades, and it has accelerated since 2000 under a Republican Administration. []

The United States currently ranks 4th worst in income inequality, according to a recent report from 30-nation Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development - or OECD. Here's a link to the The U.S. has the 4th worst income inequality, behind Mexico, Turkey and Portugal of the 30 OECD nations. Here's a link to the report summary for the United States.

OECD Inequality Graph.jpg

Report highlights:

  • The U.S. has the 4th worst income inequality, behind Mexico, Turkey and Portugal of the 30 OECD nations.
  • U.S. wealth inequality is even worse. The richest 1% hold 25-33% of the country's total net worth, the top 10% hold 71%. (By comparison, OECD average: top 10% hold 28% of wealth.)
  • Redistribution of income by government plays a relatively minor role in the United States. Only in Korea is the effect smaller. This is partly because the level of spending on social benefits such as unemployment benefits and family benefits is low – equivalent to just 9% of household incomes, while the OECD average is 22%.
  • The distribution of earnings widened by 20% since the mid-1980s which is more than in most other OECD countries. This is the main reason for widening inequality in America.
  • Social mobility is lower in the United States than in other countries like Denmark, Sweden and Australia. Children of poor parents are less likely to become rich than children of rich parents. [ U.S. 4th Worst In Income Inequality]

Republicans preached "trickle down" Reaganomics, but what we got was geyser up. This was no accident or inevitable result of globalization or free market Darwinism. Plutocrats in robes of free market theology designed the system to deliver the goods by changing tax code, trade policy, labor policy and corporate governance, by reducing oversight and regulation, and by attacking safety nets in place since the New Deal.,3343,en_2649_201185_41530009_1_1_1_1,00.html

American Socialism for the Already Rich

By Christopher Howard, Democracy: a Journal of Ideas. Posted March 27, 2007.

"Call it phony universalism, Robin Hood in reverse, or socialism for the rich -- whatever the name, the U.S. government is effectively targeting tax subsidies and legal protections at the more advantaged members of American society. The level of support is enormous, amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars each year. For every dollar spent on traditional anti-poverty programs, the United States spends almost as much through the tax code helping individuals who are lucky enough to have health and pension benefits at work or rich enough to buy a nice home (these are often the same people). This is how the United States can spend a ton of money on its welfare system and yet make fewer inroads against poverty and inequality than other affluent nations. Imagine a campaign against child obesity that encouraged kids to exercise daily and eat more Cheetos: U.S. social policy is beset by the same kinds of contradictions.

Some policy makers realize what's going on. When the Bush administration proposed new tax incentives for Health Savings Accounts, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities quickly pointed out that most of these benefits would go to affluent taxpayers. The Democratic authors of the American Dream Initiative, a set of policies designed to expand and strengthen the middle class, were careful last year to propose refundable tax credits for college tuition so that more people with below-average incomes could benefit. But it's not enough to oppose bad ideas, or layer potentially good new programs on top of dysfunctional old ones. We also need to scrutinize existing programs and figure out how they got started, whom they really help, and what we can do to change them. Otherwise, we may find ourselves repeating these same mistakes as we respond to persistent poverty and growing inequality today. Moreover, if we can find ways to spend less on some of these existing programs, we can free up monies to serve more pressing social needs. The goal should not be to exclude the middle class from these programs but to ensure that more governmental benefits are distributed to those who truly need help."

continue reading here:

Bill Moyers examines the current financial crisis and growing income divide in the October 24 edition of Bill Moyers Journal.

McCain endorsed a plan similar in principle to Obama's years ago, (as the New York Post reported) so he's got no room to talk as satirized here in this clip from the Daily Show:

But neither McCain nor Obama should be labeled undercover socialists since in the past 150 years there have been innumerable differing socialist programs in America enacted by both parties. For this reason socialism as a doctrine is ill defined, although its main purpose, the establishment of cooperation in place of competition remains fixed. Which by this definition, Sen. Obama, would be labeled a raging capitalist (Plus, seriously folks, would the Economist, the Financial Times, the CEO of Google, Warren Buffet, the Wall Street Journal editor and numerous columnist, and the current Noble prize winner in Economics among countless others be advocating Obama if he were espousing true socialism?! Give me a break. This is just another distraction from the McCain camp).

The effects of socialism in America can still be felt today. According to the Future of Freedom Foundation, any government-owned, -funded, or -subsidized operation is considered to be a socialist program. For example, publicly owned airports, sports arenas or government-funded universities would be considered socialist operations by that definition.

We've long embraced as a nation the positive effects of our dabblings in social insurance programs or "socialism lite" through various government organized programs such as Medicaid. The Social Security Act of 1935, one of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal creations, is seen by many as a socialist program because it is a government-organized and -regulated system. Social Security was designed to provide retirement benefits to citizens through mandatory donations to the program during one's employment years.

In this clip Stephen Colbert interviews the ACTUAL Socialist Candidate for President - Brian Moore who says Obama is "the furthest thing from a socialist candidate:

"It's misleading for Republicans to say that," the local peace activist and perennial candidate said Wednesday from his Spring Hill home. "They know (Obama's) not a socialist."

Now, more than ever, Moore and his party are getting attention thanks to the $700-billion financial bailout and the rhetoric from the Republican presidential ticket. John McCain and Sarah Palin have repeatedly labeled Obama as a socialist in recent days when what they're advocating is socialism (by their definition) for the wealthiest 5% of Americans. Moore said McCain and Palin are abusing the "socialist" label. Likewise, he said Obama's programs wouldn't create a true wealth redistribution.

As more Republicans are latching on to this talking point, it is important to separate spin from reality as the election comes to a close and so much is at stake.

Growing up as a committed Christian in the South, I've been skeptical to the promises of government from either party. I know that politicians alone cannot solve our nations problems, much less save the world. However, I do honestly believe that with Obama elected and the House and Senate in Democratic control that things will become better than the last 8 years. I believe that Obama means what he says and does have a new and healthy vision for the country. I believe things will change, no matter how small, for the better. I know that he and congress will be limited in what they can actually do and that they will disappoint anyone who's hope is in government alone. But one of the biggest things I love about Obama is that he isn't trying to save it himself, but rather build a massive movement of Americans who will step forward inspired, not cynical and apathetic, and try to make change alongside their neighbors.

Like the New Deal, Works Progress or Kennedy's "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" initiative before him, Obama has offered practical solutions to increase individuals involvement in our democracy. From increasing Ameri-Corps and Peace-Corps support, to college tuition in public schools for those who contribute over a 100 hrs/community service, to a new 'New Deal' to repair America's infrastructure and energy independence that in doing so creates new jobs, Obama offers clear points of action. And furthermore, not only will we not depend solely on government to make change, but we will not go it alone in the world under Obama. We'll repair our alliances and restore our nation's leadership role with partners and our moral authority in the world freeing us to actually address areas of injustice that we are impotent to touch now. THESE are solutions. I haven't heard a one from a Republican. Not one. The Republicans have fought hard to distract people from talking about the real issues that they don't believe this election is about. No more. In a few days there will be enough people who will make the better choice and Barack Obama will be our next President of the United States.

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