Saturday, April 04, 2009

We're Moving!

We're moving to WordPress. I have reposted Aaron's last post at our new location.

Eventually I'd like to move our best content to the new site, delete the rest, at start fresh - anew.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Party of Doh!

Just Friday, I heard David Brooks, conservative New York Times columnist, call the Republican budget a "...well, to be frank, a joke..." Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell says he smells victory. In the next elections, it will the Republicans who march back to power. And what exactly are the Republicans triumphantly offering us?

Here's Sen. Judd Gregg: "We believe you create prosperity by having an affordable government that pursues its responsibilities without excessive costs, taxes or debt..."

For 30 years, and in the last decade especially, Republicans got their way. Did they reduce government? No. They expanded it. Not only that, they poured hundreds of billions of dollars into nation building. Costs? Skyrocketed. Taxes? They went up. By cynically passing off federal taxation to the state and municipal level they forced local taxes to increase nationwide. By defunding the country's infrastructure, we now have a critical mess to clean up.

Our tax money is being poured into Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, AIG, Swiss UBS, England's Barclay's, rentention bonuses, executive bonuses, etc... This is the Republican legacy, and we're paying for and will be paying for it for years to come.

And now, to hear Republicans, like a bunch of chicken littles, running around crying socialism, big-government, socialism, taxes, debt, socialism, big-government, socialism, taxes, debt, socialism, big-government, socialism, taxes, debt...

It's more than the back can bear...

Health Care - Every member of Congress recieves government-run, socialized health-care paid for by our taxes. Good enough for them, but not good enough for us?

Gregg says: "We also believe you improve everyone's health care not by nationalizing the health care system and putting the government between you and your doctor, but by assuring that every American has access to quality health insurance and choices in health care."

Really? And that would be why Gregg is covered by government health care, at tax payer expense? He seems to like it...

Big Government - If the government doesn't assume the role of governing, then somebody else will. Enron, AIG, Bear Stearns, etc... and didn't they do a good job?

Gregg: "It is the individual American who creates prosperity and good jobs, not the government."

Government is of the people, by the people, for the people, but then the Gregg probably isn't familiar with that document.

Taxes - The Republican borrow & spend strategy of governing only passes on debt to the next administration - raising taxes on all of us. It's much cheaper to maintain a bridge, than to rebuild it. It's much cheaper to educate your children than imprison them.

Taxes educate our children. Taxes keep us out of debt. Taxes maintain the health of our infrastructure.

Under Republican governance, our children are undereducated, our country's debt is owned by the Chinese and our infrastructure is collapsing.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Thought of the Day

"I believe banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all properties until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."

-Thomas Jefferson 1842

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Frederick Douglass on American Christianity

I have always been fascinated by the life of Frederick Douglass. I am reading his first biography (I believe he wound up writing 3) written around the age of 27 (he never knew for sure how old he was because slaves were often separated from their mothers early on and never told). 

I flipped to the appendix of this book and read a most glorious rant that should have been included in Christopher Hitchens' "The Portable Atheist", though Douglass was not technically an atheist. 

"....between the Christianity of this land, and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference--so wide, that to receive the one as good, pure, and holy, is of necessity to reject the other as bad, corrupt, and wicked. To be the friend of the one, is of necessity to be the enemy of the other. I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity. I look upon it as the climax of all misnomers, the boldest of all frauds, and the grossest of all libels. Never was there a clearer case of "stealing the livery of the court of heaven to serve the devil in." I am filled with unutterable loathing when I contemplate the religious pomp and show, together with the horrible inconsistencies, which every where surround me. We have men-stealers for ministers, women whippers for missionaries, and cradle-plunderers for church members. The man who wields the blood clotted cowskin during the week fills the pulpit on Sunday, and claims to be a minister of the meek and lowly Jesus. The man who robs me of my earnings at the end of each week meets me as a class-leader on Sunday morning, to show me the way of life, and the path of salvation. He who sells my sister, for purposes of prostitution, stands forth as the pious advocate of purity. He who proclaims it a religious duty to read the Bible denies me the right of learning to read the name of the God who made me. He who is the religious advocate of marriage robs whole millions of its sacred influence, and leaves them to the ravages of wholesale pollution. The warm defender of the sacredness of the family relation is the same that scatters whole families,--sundering husbands and wives, parents and children, sisters and brothers,--leaving the hut vacant, and the hearth desolate. We see the thief preaching against theft, and the adulterer against adultery. We have men sold to build churches, women sold to support the gospel, and babes sold to purchase Bibles for the POOR HEATHEN! ALL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE GOOD OF SOULS! The slave auctioneer's bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master. Revivals of religion and revivals in the slave-trade go hand in hand together. The slave prison and the church stand near each other. The clanking of fetters and the rattling of chains in the prison, and the pious psalm and solemn prayer in the church, may be heard at the same time. The dealers in the bodies and souls of men erect their stand in the presence of the pulpit, and they mutually help each other. The dealer gives his blood-stained gold to support the pulpit, and the pulpit, in return, covers his in fernal business with the garb of Christianity. Here we have religion and robbery the allies of each other --devils dressed in angels' robes, and hell presenting the semblance of paradise.

"...Dark and terrible as is this picture, I hold it to be strictly true of the overwhelming mass of professed Christians in America".......

And little has changed. Slavery has ended, and the Christians take credit for it, of course. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Reader

A couple of people recommended "The Reader", including my chicken shit friend in New Jersey. 

I read the book by Bernard Schlink and watched the movie this evening. 

The emotional power of the book was overwhelming and the emotional power of watching the movie the day after finishing the book was debilitating. 

The second quickest way to a man's heart is his stomach. But Bernard Schlink realized that the very quickest way to a man's heart is his penis. Thus he wrote a book centered around holocaust issues published in 1995  (which is now required reading in college level courses) implementing the ingenious device of youthful eroticism as a bridge to empathic understanding. 

The mixture of eroticism with a philosophical inquiry into the nature of guilt was like getting my metaphorical G-spot hammered by double penetration. Schlink uses the most powerful device imaginable to capture a sense of understanding for those caught in the middle of the holocaust and faced with overwhelming dilemmas. Dilemmas between - being a hero.... being killed for your heroics...... being killed for not being heroic... or worse maybe.... neither. 

 According to Schlink, criticism of his book comes mostly from the second and third generations after the holocaust who can't allow a moment's hesitation before condemning anyone remotely associated, often including their own parents. But from the generation who actually were there, very little criticism. 

If I had to choose a book to make a movie from it would be this. A book of 218 short pages, where the lead character "Hanna" receives extraordinarily few lines and leaves the director open to flesh out the story in ways unobtainable by the author. Unlike most movies from books, I found it to be perfectly complementary and edifying to the story. The director captured the spirit of the writing and Kate Winslet's best actress oscar was well deserved for capturing the spirit of a character with incredibly little to say. 

I feel embarrassed by the critics who gave the story bad reviews. Maybe this is a story where the book is really mandatory to capture the meaning of the movie. Maybe without the book it would not have been so good, I'll never know. But I do know that it is a testament to the movie that the book only makes it better, not worse. And also, maybe it is a story where heterosexual males who still remember what it is like to be young are most unevenly affected. 

Monday, March 09, 2009

Making Progress

% of Americans who said they have no religion:

1990- 8.2%
2001- 14.2%
2008- 15%

% Americans who call themselves Christians:

1990- 86%
2001- 77%
2008- 76%

Kind of plateaus in recent years, but huge shift from 1990.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Strange similarities

The same people who buy into this shit....