Archive for category Culture

Liberals reveal hidden puritanical streak. Again.

The latest political silliness, now from the Democrats, rivals the absurdity of conservative ‘birthers’ and Islamophobes .  This from Matt Lewis at Politics Daily:

While it’s impossible to know, some are beginning to speculate that Boehner’s penchant for turning on the waterworks might have some connection to his consumption of wine. Liberal MSNBC host Ed Shultz, half-jokingly, called Boehner a “cheap drunk” the other day, Capitol Hill aides of both parties are wondering, and there’s even a web page devoted to it.

For years, political professionals have quietly discussed Boehner’s drinking. Some have told me off the record that his mannerisms remind them of that of an alcoholic. So far, most of the public speculation having to do with the connection between drinking and Boehner’s crying has come from the left. In addition to Ed Shultz, liberal talk show host Randi Rhodes recently implied Boehner’s crying was due to his drinking. But the speculation is becoming more widespread. Earlier this year, Joe Scarborough noted of Boehner that “by 5 or 6 o’clock at night, you can see him at bars.

Well, that is the traditional time, Joe.  It’s called the cocktail hour.  And drinking in bars?!  Sinful!  I guess Boehner would feel more comfortable drinking behind closed doors, with the puritanical hypocrites.  Probably not.  And Randi Rhodes calling someone a drunk?  Talk about people who live in glass houses.

So is drinking the issue — and why might a person struggling with drinking be more prone to weeping in public?

Really? Is that the important question? I’m not too crazy about the recent spate of conservative histrionics but you’d think that liberal progressives would be a bit more accepting of a man’s emotional openness. I mean, aren’t we supposed to be overcoming our gender stereotypes? Maybe all the conservative rhetoric about the nanny-ness of liberals is not so far off.  Time to stop playing to the namby-pambies in the Democratic party and let adults decide for themselves if, and how much, they should drink.

As for blaming this new political emotionalism on alcohol consumption, tell that to Winston Churchill or John F. Kennedy, neither man likely to refuse a drink and neither man prone to silliness. In fact, I thought that cigars and whiskey were the main staples of a political diet (which, I guess, is one reasons why I am a frustrated amateur pundit). Besides, Glenn Beck will break down at the drop of a tricorn hat and he’s a teetotaler.

It’s bad enough that the neo-cons resort to this type of sensationalist rumor mongering, and I can understand the liberal media’s frustration with that, but this kind of foolishness can eclipse any credibility they might have. No longer will serious people  swallow any story at Fox News without a liberal dosing of salt because of this penchant for reporting on sensationalist non-news stories.

For his part, though, Boehner — who was described in one profile as “a heavy-smoking, hard-drinking former linebacker” — has made no secret of his affection for merlot, and those familiar with Capitol Hill know he frequents The Capitol Hill Club, as well as a favorite Italian restaurant on Capitol Hill, where he is frequently spotted sipping vino.

Good for him. I’m not likely to vote for Boehner but I probably would enjoy sharing a meal with him (but sorry, no Merlot, please).  Dinner without wine is no dinner at all (unless it’s brats or BBQ and then beer is essential).  I myself enjoy at least two glasses of wine with my evening meals and maybe a cocktail before and/or after.  And then I might smoke a nice big cigar.

I know this admission will horrify some of you, but I can’t remember the last time I cried, drove off a bridge, beat my wife or flew a plane into a mountainside.  My blood work just came back and my liver functions are all A-OK, thank you very much.

C’mon liberals. For folks who are always crowing about a personal right to privacy , it’s time to pull your noses out of peoples lives and let them eat, drink and smoke what they want.  Just like you want for your selves.  And as for you conservatives out there, I meant just that:  whatever they want, even if it’s not made by your friends over at Phillip Morris or Bacardi.

The first vice we should worry about is our unhealthy addiction to hypocrisy.

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Here’s a way to help with the deficit: a 100% tax on Wall Street bonuses

After bailing them out of the hole they dug for themselves with shovels they stole from middle class investors, tax payers are pissed off about the crazy bonuses Wall St. firms are awarding themselves this year.  Wall St. is finishing up a strong year, but lets no forget that this was accomplished with Federal money.

A little glimpse into how greedy and immoral these fat cats really are is with the reason they give for being able to award such large bonuses: so many of them have been laid off or incarcerated that everyone else gets a bigger slice of the pie.  Even though many of the remainder should be out of work themselves, if not in jail, they are able to stuff millions of bonus dollars under their mattresses (can’t trust the banks, now can they?)  Why do they deserve these rewards? It’s not like they are providing a benefit to the country and I can’t think of any jobs they are creating.

Because of these selfish Scrooges, a lot of Americans, if they are fortunate enough to be employed, are not getting Christmas bonuses this year, if ever again.  So, I say the Feds should tax the banker’s bonuses, every penny,  and then use it to help fund extended unemployment benefits. They should be able to muddle through on their six figure salaries.

Merry Christmas Mr. Potter.

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Republicans oppose sneaky Democrat push for bill that includes millions of dollars in new Republican spending

Crazy, aint’ it. From “The Hill”:

Senate Republican leaders are taking heat for millions of dollars worth of earmarks they requested in a $1.1 trillion spending package on deck for passage this month.

GOP Policy Committee Chairman John Thune (S.D.) and National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) convened a Wednesday morning press conference to criticize Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for trying to speed the package through the Senate before Christmas.

But Thune and Cornyn faced a barrage of hostile questions about their earmarks by reporters from NPR, ABC News and NBC News.

“Going through this bill, there is earmark after earmark from the both of you, millions of dollars in earmarks from the two of you and from other senators,” ABC’s Jonathan Karl told Cornyn and Thune. “How do you have any credibility on this? Why do you have earmarks?”

Cornyn said he had credibility on the issue because he plans to vote against the omnibus spending bill.

“If people have concerns about what’s in the bill, we ought to be given an opportunity to offer amendments to strip those out and I’m happy to have that process done,” Cornyn said.

Taxpayers for Common Sense, a non-partisan group that tracks federal spending, said that Cornyn secured $750,000 for a drinking water project in Midland, Texas; $800,000 for a stormwater mitigation project in Nacogdoches, Texas; $500,000 for a street improvement project in downtown Denton, Texas, among other projects.

“The simple answer is I’m going to vote against the bill and refuse all of those earmarks,” said Cornyn.

But that answer didn’t satisfy some members of the Capitol press corps.

“Isn’t it awkward, though, for you to be standing here and advocating for stripping these out when you both have requested them?” said Kelly O’Donnell, NBC News’s Hill correspondent. “It appears like you’re saying one thing and doing another.”

Thune pushed back against the charge of hypocrisy.

“If we get on the bill, I will vote against the bill. If amendments are offered to strip earmarks, I will vote for those amendments,” Thune said.

Cornyn and Thune tried to steer the news conference back to Reid’s decision to put a massive spending bill on the Senate floor in the waning days of the lame-duck session. The GOP leaders also highlighted the inclusion of more than $1 billion to fund the implementation of President Obama’s signature healthcare reform law.

“This is not just about earmarks,” said Cornyn.

“You’re missing the story if you think it’s just about earmarks. This is about a flawed process of sweetheart deals cut behind closed doors and a big spending bill dropped on the American people and on us on Dec. 14 without adequate time to amend it and debate it,” he added.

The GOP lawmakers called for a short-term, stop-gap spending measure to keep the government funded until the beginning of 2011, when Republicans will then control the House and can advance spending cuts.

ABC’s Karl kept pushing the issue of earmarks, asking Cornyn whether “it was wrong to put earmarks in the first place.”

“You’ve asked that question about five times and I’ve tried to answer it to the best of my ability,” Cornyn shot back.

A GOP aide immediately called an end to the conference as Cornyn and Thune quickly left the room followed by a crowd of reporters.

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The second coming of Ronald Reagan

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What is so offensive about ants crawling over a cheap plastic crucifix?

So the Smithsonian caved in  and decided to censor a video  from a larger showing of work by the controversial GLBT artist, David Wojnarowicz .   The image above,  taken from a longer scene , was apparently offensive to some influential Christians.

“I think that in the artistic community, directors, curators are tremendously insensitive to Christians,”  You can’t make fun of the Holocaust, you can’t make fun of black slavery, and you can’t even depict anything about Mohammed.”  – Bill Donahue, Catholic League President

(Sounds like Mr.Donahue is really peeved that he can’t make fun of blacks and Muslims and get away with it. Sour grapes.)

“American families have a right to expect better from recipients of taxpayer funds. While the amount of money involved may be small, it’s symbolic of the arrogance Washington routinely applies to thousands of spending decisions involving Americans’ hard-earned money. Smithsonian officials should either acknowledge the mistake and correct it, or be prepared to face tough scrutiny beginning in January [when the new majority in the House moves in].” – John Boehner, incoming Speaker of the House

(In other words: a shake down)

Now the film itself is pretty disturbing and many will, understandably, find  it’s more explicit moments offensive .  But the part that is getting all the attention is where real live ants are crawling over a cheap plastic crucifix.  I don’t know if Wojnarowicz staged this, it certainly could be something he stumbled upon, but what exactly is the big deal? It’s not as over the top as Serrano’s “Piss Christ”, of which the most offensive aspect is probably the title.  If Serrano hadn’t told us, we would think he had taken the shot through an amber filter (but then it would have gotten little media attention).  According to the Serrano,  even that photograph was never meant to be a critique of religion per se,  but rather a commentary on the cheapening of Christian icons by today’s culture (something we see a lot of this time of year).  By comparison,  Wojnarowicz’s crucifix is much tamer and I doubt if it would have upset these people if  he hadn’t been homosexual.

So what’s the  theological concern here? Are cheap plastic crucifixes sacred? What about a dashboard Jesus?  Or porcelain angels? What do ants crawling on a crucifix mean to us?  Wojnarowicz  is certainly telling us something here.  But I would imagine, as with most art, the message is different for each person listening.  I wonder what message  the censorship advocates are receiving. Whatever it was, it likely was filtered through their perception of the artist’s sexual orientation.

To me, this image suggest that the institutional Church, with it’s cathedrals, statues, seminaries, doctrines, dogmas, creeds and icons, is as much a product of the complex human mind as the holy (and unholy) trinkets that clutter our lives. And as such, is just as likely to be cast off, either by those who have lost interest or by those who have grown beyond its allure.  So it is best not to pay too much attention to the trinkets or we may miss the bigger picture, which involves Jesus as artist, and not subject.   A picture that Mr. Boehner and Mr. Donahue and so many religious people seem to have missed.

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Evangelical Christians oppose lower taxes for wealthy Americans

It should come as no surprise that Jim Wallis, social activist and self-described Christian Evangelical preacher, is not very happy with Obama’s surrender on the issue of keeping  low tax rates for America’s wealthiest citizens.  What many people probably don’t realize is that Wallis is not the only Evangelical that disagrees with the socio-economic agenda of the Religious Right, who have long been supporters of trickle down economics. In today’s Huffington Post he attacks the upside down socialism that has been saddling America for the past 25 years while pointing out the fallacy behind the Republican’s strongest argument for extending the lower rates:

…most of the people who will be keeping their tax cuts are not job creators. After all, how many jobs will the Goldman Sachs traders create, or the hedge fund gamblers, or the celebrities who dominate our lives? Almost none. On the contrary, they have been the “job destroyers,” having wrecked this economy and the lives of so many people.

They are already getting richer because of our taxpayer bailout, and now we’re giving them more tax breaks and estate tax bonanzas. There is socialism in America, but it’s only for the rich. Risk has been socialized for some of the very richest people in the country, and then, the “free market” pain is distributed to all the rest.

Our national economic philosophy is clearly now to reward the casino gamblers on Wall Street and to leave the majority of the country standing outside the casino with a tin cup — hoping that the gamblers are at least big tippers. More tax breaks and benefits for the very wealthiest people in America is not only bad economics and bad policy; it is fundamentally immoral. In a letter to the president signed by over 100 religious leaders, we said just that.

So far, they haven’t listened.

Wallis and many other Christians believe that, if this is the Christian Nation that the conservatives are saying it is, then it is the nation’s obligation to look out for those who are not as fortunate as the rest of us.  As some as they say in their letter to the President:

Extending the Bush tax cuts for the most fortunate while ending unemployment benefits and cutting back services for the poor does not reflect the values of faithful Americans. For that reason, we urge you to let tax cuts for the most fortunate expire as scheduled at the end of the year.

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Will Princess Di’s slippers fit Sarah’s feet?

“We’re her No. 1 fans,” Susie Parkes said, clutching her signed book. “We love her values and what she stands for and what she has done for our country.”

Katie Parkes echoed her sister. “She is bringing back values we need in this country that we have somehow lost. She stands for family and working-class America.”
Susie Parkes said.

On Wednesday, the sisters were upgrading their cable system for the sole reason of watching “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” on The Learning Channel. They said they would “absolutely” vote for her if she ran for president in 2012.

It looks like .Sarah Palin  is rapidly filling a painful void in the hearts of many middle Americans, a void left by the tragic demise of their beloved Lady Di. We haven’t seen hero worship like this in over a dozen years. But will the princess’s slippers fit the political superstar’s feet?  We may never know.

Gotta take her mukluks out of her mouth first.

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It ain’t always easy being a friend of Islam

When a supposedly moderate Islamic government like Pakistan’s has a law on their books making blasphemy a crime, well, they don’t make it any easier for those of us who are friends of Islam.   And when a person is sentenced to death for speaking their mind then it is time for Muslims around the world to speak out against Pakistan and sharia law.  There is no way that any  reasonable person,  of any religious persuasion, can justify persecution.

I don’t care if the women is Christian.  That is irrelevant.  It certainly is a big deal to a lot Christians, but this  would be just as insanely horrible if the accused was Hindu or Wiccan or  Muslim.   Yet, this  incident is providing Christian Islamophic factions (as well as some impassioned atheists)  some heavy ammo in their battle against Islam. And frankly, this particular Muslim fundamentalist position is pretty well indefensible.

I used to think of Pakistan as a civilized place.  The country has produced some extraordinary people who achieved extraordinary things in science and the arts.  Cosmopolitan cities.  Ranked in the top 15% of the world’s economies, according to GDP.  Heck, they even have the atom bomb.

A theocratic country with a medieval  mindset that has the atom bomb. Actually, dozens or maybe hundreds of them.  Gives one pause, doesn’t it?

Now, in Pakistan, there are some loud and courageous dissenting voices, in the media and in government as well.  One politician has introduced an amendment to the anti-blasphemy laws that would eliminate capital punishment for the offense.  Now that’s a good thing but it is not good enough.  No country should have any laws on their books having anything to do with blasphemy or any law protecting any religion from spoken or written criticism.  No country should ever have an overt alliance with any religion, Muslim, Christian or Jewish (sorry Israel and Texas).

I’d like to ask what a lot of people have asked before: where is the American Muslim outcry against Islamist tyranny?  I just spent a lot of time searching for something like this on the web and, well, I can’t find anything of the sort. Why doesn’t CAIR have anything to say about this? I mean, how can they see a major threat to American Muslims with Juan Williams’ relatively harmless off-the-cuff remarks and not see the danger in keeping silent on the tyranny of Pakistani sharia? This is like upbraiding a smoker for polluting the air while sitting behind the wheel of an idling SUV.

I have friends and neighbors who are Muslim.  We tend to keep the conversation outside of religion and away from international politics. But tonight I might risk propriety and ask for their take on this. Do they think  my question is a valid one?   I’ve also met some interesting Muslims on this blog and would like to ask for their thoughts  as well.

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Glenn Beck gets it wrong, again. This time it’s about the FCC and internet neutrality.

Working under the belief that no sacrifice is too great for my country, I have taken to watching Glenn Beck as often as I can. Which is not easy, since I am not yet a member of  his demographic and, not yet retired, I don’t get home from work until after his 5:00 pm EST show airs. But thank God for DVR.

I seriously doubt that too many of his fans use a DVR to watch his program as I don’t think too m any of his fans would understand how to work it.  Just at they are cell phone challenged (helping to keep Cricket afloat by purchasing those big numbered  retro-phones). And internet challenged.

Apparently Beck is not very savvy when it comes to the internet, either. On yesterday’s show he had this to say about the upcoming FCC guideline concerning internet neutrality:

The next thing I want you to consider is net neutrality — the FCC over Congress. We told you that Congress was making itself irrelevant. They couldn’t get net neutrality through Congress. Well, the FCC is announcing plans next week for regulations that would ban ISPs like Comcast from blocking or favoring content online. This is basically a Fairness Doctrine for the Internet.

America, you lose the Internet, you lose the war, I think. Cass Sunstein said it was bad for people that they could seek out information that only fits their point of view. They want to make sure that you can get the Huffington Post on Fox News. No, thank you. They’re about to control what you see on the Internet. And Congress doesn’t even have a say anymore. They’re being completely circumvented. Comcast, I believe, will most likely go for it, because they’re takeover of NBC? I’ll bet you that’s being held hostage.

Which couldn’t be farther from the truth. What internet neutrality is actually designed to do is inhibit censorship, by preventing big ISPs like Comcast, Verizon, ATT and AOL, from blackballing certain websites because they are unwilling to make financial agreements designed to benefit the ISPs (which is already happening). This would be like a television news network refusing to cover stories about the recent GM IPO because Chevrolet decided not sponsor their programming. And whether it offends your free-market libertarian sensitivities or not, the Federal government has had a mandate since the early days of radio to ensure that the content on public airwaves is freely accessible to all Americans, no matter what the economics of broadcasting may happen to be. (Somehow Fox News has been able to get around this.)

Now, I would expect that most of Beck’s fans rarely use the internet (like my parents, who won’t be reading my blog for this very same reason) so they really don’t have any good way to check out Beck’s facts, here or anywhere else. But when will his other younger (or more astute) listeners figure out that this lie is just another peg pulled out out from Beck’s Jengo-like bona fides? Eventually the tower will have to fall. But when? He has gotten away with so many lies in the past, what can possibly threaten his credibility among his fan base? It seems that his followers have an amazingly high tolerance for bull-shit.

If you doubt this then just look at who was the highest rated new television celebrity this month.  It wasn’t Beck (never has been, actually) but his own little Eliza Doolittle.

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Obama a Christian? Bad news if you are a Teavangelist….


…but it could be worse. Enough with the Judeo-Christian stuff. How about some Islamo-Mormon values? There are similarities, out on the extremes.

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