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The Games We Play: Payroll Tax Cut

Obama wishes to extend the payroll tax cut. The Republicans, the party of tax cuts, wishes to prevent this. Why? Of course, to make Obama look bad, thus giving the GOP an edge in the next election. Here is my reasoning.

Leaving aside for the moment whether we agree that this is the GOP motive, can we say that the GOP has some other reasoning for eliminating a very popular reduction in taxation? Well, they would, and do, say that a tax reduction is indeed needed for the middle classes in this time of recession, but that we need to pay for this so that the deficit is not increased--and they don't mean to pay for it with another tax increase on the rich. Because a tax increase on the rich--I mean, the job creators--would be bad for the economy. You see, the GOP states that increased taxes reduce the economic engine. Tax decreases improve the, let us say, the economic mpg. Tax reductions pay for themselves, in other words, by increasing efficiency, letting people spend as they will.

We…

The Politics of Religion

The other day I was listening to WBUR with Tom Ashbrook. Someone called in and I thought his comment deserved respect and some more thought. His comment was basically this: The Mormon church has allowed its two candidates for U.S. president to behave in a normal, thoughtful, civil way, while the rest of the candidates (speaking only of those receiving media attention), who happen to be protestant with two Catholics (Gingrich and Santorum), are allowed free reign to be, well, less so.

He is wrong in one way--I'll get to that later--but he is right in his general understanding of the state of the Christian church. It is true that the Christian churches haven't exactly held the candidates collective toes to the fire, in terms of honesty and directness.

And I'm not talking about Herman Cain's recent problems, with allegations of philandering. Those are allegations; nothing is legally proven, whether you view 60-80 texts a day to a woman as moral proof or not. I'm talking…

Evangelicals and the GOP

Slate's latest article on Newt Gingrich claims that the evangelical right can forgive and forget Newt's past sinning ways.

Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Iowa FAMiLY Leader, says “There’s been a sincere life change for Newt Gingrich...Since four or five years ago, he’s shown a very transparent grace and maturity. He’s been married to Callista for over a decade. He’s healed his relationship with his children.”

What's wrong with a little forgiveness among Christians, after all? Nothing. Forgiveness, you might say, is our bread and...butter. But this forgiveness thing, at least for evangelicals, is tempered by something else: change of life, and a change of actions.

Well, you might say, Newt's been on the wagon for ten years. No more philandering ways. Calista's got a hold on him and he doesn't seem to be straying. Wasn't King David an adulterer (and murderer) but didn't God forgive him? But ask yourself this: Are we only talking about sexual sin here? Sin …

Groupthink in American Politics

What is Groupthink

Groupthink, a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis (1972), occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment” (p. 9). Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making above quoted from http://www.psysr.org

OK, so you're probably expecting some easy joke about watching FOX NEWS. But it's no joke, and it isn't just for FOX watchers or Limbaugh listeners. It applies just as much to those Madden fanatics or other left-leaning commentators. The point is we are all boxing ourselves in by limiting our awareness. And we often are not even aware of our self-imposed limits. Someone recently told m…

ConocoPhillips vs. Godzilla

Who hasn't seen one of those feel good ads on TV these days, touting the benefits of natural gas like it was the next cold fusion? The one I like best, but which I cannot find on the internet as of yet, shows a group of students after class having one of those ad hoc debates so common in academia these days (though I believe in real life it's more likely to involve a heated discussion of Halo). A couple of students rush into the debate all morally superior ("Big oil! What about the environment!"), getting in the faces of the others who calmly stand back while the opposition digs a deep, deep hole for themselves. And then the other two spring into action like members of some Seal-6 anti-terrorist squad. "Actually, it's cleaner!" says one about, you know, methane, or natural gas as it is commonly known. And don't you love that name, too? Natural gas, 'cause it's "natural." So it must be good for us, right? Of course, cyanide is natur…

Declaration of Independence, part deux

In light of the Occupy Wall Street protests, I thought a review of the Declaration of Independence might be apropos. Here, I think, is the salient quotation: That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and…

New RINOs must lead Republicans | The Journal News | LoHud.com | LoHud.com

New RINOs must lead Republicans | The Journal News | LoHud.com | LoHud.com

This article on RINOs says it all, so I'm just linking to it and leaving it at that.

Football: the perversion of the gridiron

NFL 2011: The Kansas City Chiefs' sad cavalcade of torn knee ligaments. (14) - By Tommy Craggs, Stefan Fatsis, Nate Jackson, Josh Levin, Drew Magary, Barry Petchesky, and Tom Scocca - Slate Magazine

OK, so an NFL star spits up blood from a hit to the head. And what do people talk about? Fantasy football. And the chances of the guy's team winning. Check out the link and read the comments. Only one that I saw mentioned that football might be changed as a result of all these concussions (and I take his comment as nostalgic for the "good ol' days" when men were men and could kill anyone as a sign of manliness).

The recent walk-out by the players included discussion of medical benefits. John Mackey's name was bandied about as a poster-child for what can happen to a player after he retires. There is a link between concussions and Alzheimer's like disease. The name for this is Pugilistic Dementia, named after the "sport" in which one tries to induce a c…

Government costing jobs? Really?

MarketWatch has an interesting article ("Follow the money, Mr. Speaker") that concerns a question I've had for some time. You may have noticed that the last couple of years we've heard a refrain from Republican leaders and pundits that speaks to the issue of large government deficits costing jobs, because (in the words of John Boehner, House Speaker), "The massive borrowing and spending by the Treasury Department crowded out private investment by American businesses of all sizes."

But is this true? My initial reaction to this sort of thinking was that of course it wasn't. We'd have heard of this before now. This seemed some sort of catchphrase that someone in the media felt was pithy and could knock the democrats out.

Rex Nutting, MarketWatch's commentary editor, checked into this and found that indeed there was no truth to the claim. But don't expect the Republican's to stop just because it isn't true; it's just too good a phrase…

So what then is a Republican?

So what then is a Republican?

This question has come up since I have been weeded out by the core, extreme Republicans, as they have found my ideology wanting. I expressed the need for this country to finally solve the problem of caring for its sick, and doing away with the ugly for-profit health care "system" that exists currently, replacing it with a single-payer system and thus saving our country billions of dollars, and millions of lives.

How do we define Republicanism? By the core? Should we allow it to be encircled by the focused interiority of those most fervent--and most fanatical? Should those who do not adhere to every single jot and tittle of the party platform hang our heads and retreat to the desert region of our foes? (And would they admit us, or also vanquish us as not being suitable for their use either?)

Does fanaticism define the party unit, or something more reasonable, something more rationally defined?

Let me consider for a bit the following position: Republ…

The preening exaltedness of the Right

If there is one thing that the liberal left despises most about the conservative right, it is the attitude of preening exaltedness. Now, as a conservative myself, I usually find myself in the company of many on the right. However, I usually am quickly discovered as a closet liberal--judged so by my adherence to a single-payer system. Recently I have been captured, and interrogated by those on the extreme right on a very popular social site. (Why do I characterize them so, as extreme? Because those are there own words, how they describe themselves: extremism in the defense of liberty, yaddayadda.) Finding that I am not a Republican (though I am one), that my conservative credentials are expired--though they are not, they have tried and sentenced me. I, it seems, am really a liberal Democrat, much like Obama. Though I happen to disagree with him on many topics. Still, they say I am liberal.

Now I also believe, quite forcefully at times, I admit, to being pro-life. I believe in conservat…

Marines Face Questions About Rescue of Officers in Libya - NYTimes.com

Marines Face Questions About Rescue of Officers in Libya - NYTimes.com

I am concerned we may have lost the free press some time in recent history. This story, questioning the events surrounding the successful rescue of the pilots downed in Libya, is the only instance I have found that has been covered by a US press. There are many other published pieces across the world, but the US press is largely silent.

Apparently as reported in the UK Daily Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8402156/Libya-US-warplanes-carried-out-strafing-runs-to-rescue-downed-pilot.html), Osprey helicopters rescued one of the pilots who had been given aid by friendly Libyans. Harrier jets apparently strafed the area around the rescue operation, injuring eight Libyans, one of whom reportedly lost a leg.

There are two important questions here: Why would the military fire on obvious friendly targets, and why wouldn't the US press be all over this story?

Lives at Risk - Google Docs