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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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In the spirit of “Trickle Down Economics” the Tea Party has renamed itself the Pee Party


The Tea Bagging of America

 

That’s right.  Because if your not broke,  then why fix it?

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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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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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American discrimination against Muslims has Bin Laden “wetting his pants with glee”


An American Muslim going by the name of Saladin left a very brief  (and the only) comment on my post comparing Right-Wing Islamaphobic blogs to Mein Kampf: ” So few people remember that is past is prologue.”  I am glad for the comment  because I ended up visiting his blog, “Reflections on the Straight Path”,  where I read an excellent piece about New York mayor Michael Bloomburg’s profound speech on the proposed mosque at Ground Zero.  With Saladin’s permission, the article is reprinted here:

Yesterday, in a moment of statesmanship that would shame many presidents, Mayor Bloomberg announced that the commission that designated landmarks voted against extending that status to the building located where the Park 51 community center would go. He gave an incredible speech. He stood up for the US constitution, a piece of paper that is our truest national treasure. Many people were overjoyed, many others were outraged. Bloomberg was simultaneously hailed as a hero, a champion for civil rights and all that is good in the United States and condemned as a spineless politician bought off by special interests, if not an actual traitor. None of these reactions are unexpected when dealing with an issue this complex and close to peoples’ hearts and passions.

For those who support the Park 51 Islamic Center, now is the time to speak up, now is the time to reach out. Those who are in pain over the choice, who are righteously indignant–they are the ones we must connect with. They demand to know that “these Muslims” won’t support terrorism, DO condemn the attacks on 9/11. So tell them. Nearly a hundred Muslims died on 9/11–their deaths are equally tragic, equally outrageous. More Muslims have gone off to serve their country, died in wars they may not have fully agreed with but they served their country loyally. American Muslims are not a separate nation nor a fifth column.

For those who oppose Park 51, now is the time to remember what is under attack. It is our nation, it is our strength, and our freedom to choose that the terrorists resent. They think us immoral and corrupt. Some of us are. Most of us aren’t. As long as you do what they say, when they say, how they say, Al-Qaeda really doesn’t have a problem with you. The minute that changes, you change from ally to enemy. The issues that drive that organization are both simple and Byzantine, all at once. What you must remember is that whenever we turn against each other, whenever we choose to marginalize one group or try to curtail their constitutional rights, the terrorists wet their pants with glee. They want us divided, they want us willing to sacrifice our most basic principles. I’ve seen it. I know.

All of us, regardless of our religion, nationality, or any other distinguishing characteristic, are sisters and brothers of this world. We all love, we all bleed, and we’ll all die. The only thing we can change is how we treat each other.

“ We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. ”

—United States Constitution, Preamble

“Repel (evil) with what is better. Then will he, between whom and thee was hatred, become as it were thy friend and intimate. And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint.” The Qur’an – Surah 41, Verse 34 and 35

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Good news, Christians: the National Day of Prayer will soon be gone


So a federal judge in Wisconsin has finally determined that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional. Personally, I think this is great news. As much as people like to say that this day is for all people of faith, its history and its practice is Christian. Call it what you want, it is the offspring of Christianity and all PC speak aside, that is what it remains.

Not that there is anything wrong for Christians (or Jews or Muslims or Wiccans) across the country to decide on one day a year for nationwide prayer. But it shouldn’t be championed by the government. If the idea has any relevance for people then it should stand on its own merits, without the institutionalized support of our nation’s lawmakers. In fact, this is exactly what is happening. President Obama, a citizen with rights just like you and me, has decided to go ahead and continue to recognize this day anyway. (But wait! Isn’t he some kind of anti-Christian crypto-Muslim?)

You’d think serious Christians could see that there is something about civic prayer that smacks more of Caesar than it does of Jesus. But they don’t. They’ve even pulled out the big guns on this one: Chuck Norris. Personally, I always thought the idea of a “National” day of prayer was pretty bogus. Sort of sounds like the old vanity that “God is on our side” – that America is particularly favored by God.

Why not a true inter-faith International Day of Prayer? (Organized and administered by the private sector, of course). But that might mean praying with people of other countries who might very well be praying for things that are odds with our own national interests. Can’t have that.

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Is Your Doctor Killing You?


shaky-pyramid

This is a story about Bob. There are  millions of  people who have stories just like his.

When Bob was 35 years old he had his blood cholesterol checked.  The results indicated that his total cholesterol was through the roof – 351 mm/dl.  The conventional wisdom said that anything over 200 was indicative of a high risk for coronary heart disease, which happened to run in Bob’s family.

The doctor put Bob on a cholesterol lowering medication but the drug wreaked havoc with Bob’s digestive tract. In addition, the warning that came with the drug said that it could possibly damage his liver,  and since Bob enjoyed both beer and wine, with the occasional adult cocktail, he decided to forgo the medication and attempted to lower his cholesterol with diet and exercise.

The American Medical Association along with the American Heart Association had long ago ‘conclusively’ determined that fat in the diets of Americans were killing them off.  Following their (and his doctor’s) advice, Bob began a regime of a very low fat, high carbohydrate diet coupled with daily rigorous exercise.  His fat intake was well below the recommended 30% of daily calories (it was likely well below 20%).  Every day he engaged in cardiac stimulating exercises for at least an hour, usually two.  He began running and was soon up to 15 miles a week. His weight dropped from 175 to 155 lbs  but he could never achieve his doctor’s suggested goal of 145 lbs  (he was only five feet, five inches tall but with  a muscular build).  Still, he felt great.

After a year of this discipline he returned for his follow up blood test and was dismayed to find that his total cholesterol had dropped only two points! In addition, he was advised to keep on eye on his salt and sugar intake as now his blood pressure had risen along with his triglycerides (whatever they were).  He agreed to take the cholesterol lowering drug and eliminate as much animal fat from his diet as possible.   So began a lifestyle that included a diet allowing only minimal lean cuts of meats, lots of fruits and vegetables along with plenty of plain bread, pasta, potatoes and rice.  No more butter or mayo.  No whole milk or cheese. No more ice cream or sour cream. No more Caesar dressing. No salt on his peanuts or pretzels. And no more rib-eye steaks.  But plenty of fiber; he could have all the crunchy fiber he wanted.  He took to wearing Birkenstocks and he was always hungry.

Even with such a lean diet, Bob struggled to keep the weight off. Disillusioned (and getting a bit older), Bob’s exercise regimen gradually fell off to taking brisk walks about three times a week.  He slowly put the weight back on (as he just as slowly lost his hair) and after 10 years he was back up to about 180 pounds. Even though he didn’t feel ‘fat’,  the conventional medical wisdom ( of that week) said that he was downright obese. But ‘they’ also  said that he was obese when  he weighed twenty pounds less.  He finally got over feeling offended.

Right around this time Bob called his doctor,  complaining of an occasional tingling along the entire right side of his body.  Undergoing multiple tests it was thought that he had experienced TIA (Trans Ischemic Attack) – a mini stroke, likely caused by hypertension.  Now he agreed to take medication for this condition, yet it still hovered around the high borderline.  The other meds had helped to drop  his overall cholesterol  to around 220 mm/hg yet his triglycerides (which had something to do with both arterial sclerosis as well as blood sugar) continued to rise.  He was diagnosed as pre-diabetic along with being at an ever higher risk for cardiovascular disease.  Continue to lay off the animal fats (except for fish – now that fat was good for you) and eat lots of fruits, vegetables and plenty of fiber, his doctor said.  Oh, and drop 20 or so pounds while you’re at it.

No matter how much Bob  stuck to the prescribed diet, he could not lose weight.  In fact, he started to develop that famous characteristic of the Western male; a beer belly (although he drank little beer). Not long after Bob’s 50th birthday his blood pressure shot up again. He began to feel occasionally dizzy and weak.  Aware of his pre-diabetic condition he bought a cheap monitoring device from Walgreen’s and was not surprised  to find that his blood sugar was now through the roof:over 300 mg/dl! (normal is between 90 and 120).  Bob had come to resign himself to the fact that he was just one of those genetically engineered walking time bombs.  Now, with full blown Type 2 diabetes added to his medical file,  his doctor placed him on Glucophage to assist with insulin production and ordered a cardiac stress test, which he passed, but just barely; there might possibly be some blockage of his pulmonary arteries.  This would have to be closely watched.  Meanwhile,  it was recommended that he visit the American Diabetes Association website for advice on what and what not to eat.

Bob was amazed.  Rather than recommending a radically different diet, the ADA was telling diabetics to eat essentially the same foods that he had been eating for 15 years now; low fat, high carbs and high fiber.  The only difference he could see was that he should completely eliminate alcohol from his diet, while minimizing, but not eliminating,  sugar and simple carbs like white bread, white rice and potatoes.  They even said that diabetics could eat the occasional dessert, as long as they exchanged it with another high glycemic item from their diet like biscuits or hamburger buns (something that made little sense to Bob, if he was supposed to be avoiding biscuits and hamburger buns anyway).

When Bob informed his parents of his new condition, his father ( a retired physician) was surprised.  He wondered how Bob had developed diabetes since he knew of no incidence of this disease on either side of the family.  As diabetes had been traditionally linked to genetics,  he wondered where this gene had come from.  (This idea has become highly suspect, as the rising rate of diabetes among indigenous populations throughout the world who had no history of diabetes prior to colonialism, would attest.)

Bob began to wonder;  if fat is the great food evil of  modern times  (as populist activists like Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest keep telling us), then why had his health deteriorated along with this supposedly healthier diet?  And why, as hundreds of studies have shown,  did the non-Western peoples of the world historically not suffer from diabetes, heart disease, periodontitis and numerous other common Western afflictions (including cancer) even though their diets were high in animal fat and salt and low in vegetables and grains? Now, as they have adopted Western habits, these diseases have become common, even epidemic,  among those people.

Why was it that, as Americans have dramatically cut meat and animal fat from their diets, the incidents of diabetes, vascular disease and cancer have increased? Was it possible that somewhere along the line the ‘experts’ got it wrong?  Could it be possible that the true villain was not animal fat but actually the carbohydrates that the USDA, the AMA and the NIH had been pushing on us for over thirty years?  Was a low-fat diet killing millions of people?

According to distinguished science writer Gary Taubes, in his book “Good Calories, Bad Calories”, the answer is a resounding YES.  And this well documented answer is one that many medical researchers have been proclaiming for years, much to their professional detriment.  To contest the conventional wisdom that advocates  the benefits of a low fat diet is to suffer the ridicule and derision of the professional powers that be, not to mention the government, the media and numerous  public interest groups.  It is risky business indeed to question an entrenched doctrine that many have staked their reputations on, along with their patient’s health.   Not just Bob’s health, but the good health of  millions of the world’s citizens have been compromised not by fat and salt, but instead a recipe of sugar and flour mixed with a large portion of political correctness.

Meanwhile, in our nation’s schools, the USDA and the departments of education have mandated that the current generation of  children continue with this nutritional experiment.  And we wonder why childhood obesity continues to rise.

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