Free Market vs. Conservative Moralists

“A God who rewards and punishes is inconceivable for the simple reason that a man’s actions are determined by necessity, external and internal, so that in God’s eyes he cannot be responsible, any more than an inanimate object is responsible for the motions it undergoes. A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary.” Albert Einstein

For an average American the economic reality is increasingly dual – you’re either on the working “treadmill” running faster and faster or you’re a bum, and there are few choices in between. Some people work longer hours for less pay, while others can’t get a job at all.

The praise on the right of the current economic system of “treadmill” lifestyle does not fit well with their demands of the return of traditional values. Let’s assume that we magically return to the desired “nuclear family” era that the right so nostalgically revere. If only we work harder we will become more moral, the thinking goes.  Such a family would immediately drop out of the treadmill participation simply because the middle class has long been relying on two person incomes, not one.

Continue reading

Tea Partiers and the Constitution

Tea Parties have a strange love-hate relationship with the Constitution.

I think they have some sort of their own version of the Constitution, just like Conservatives have their own idealized version of the 1950s or Reagan or like any of us have our own idealized memories of childhood. Sober analysis would conclude that it’s not like times were better, but perhaps it was just that we were younger.

So I downloaded the full text of the Constitution in an attempt to see where do they get their talking points. To begin, I searched for the word “religion” in the text, given the recent demand by Tea Party darling Christine O’Donnell, delivered with an air of knowing superiority during her debate, to know where in the Constitution there’s a separation of church and state. The word “religion” did come up once in the text. In the context of “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any Office or Public Trust under the United States”. Further, in the First Amendment, is the following: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion”. I have to give her that – she really did believe that there’s a mention of God or Jesus in the Constitution, because she looked like a child who just found out that there’s no Santa Claus. When her opponent quoted the First amendment it was like an unpleasant revelation to her. I hope that the first thing she did after the debate is to go and check the text to see it with her own eyes.

Many Tea Parties, without fully knowing what the Constitution actually contains, nonetheless like to throw weighty words around, especially when asked a practical question, for example how to balance the budget. You will be hearing words like “tyranny”, “Founding Fathers”, “Constitution”, “God-given rights” without actually getting an answer to your question. In fact many conservatives like to mock liberals for deriving their rights from the Government. Liberals, those spineless fucks, you see, take the rights mercifully granted to them by the omnipotent Government while the steel-balled conservatives themselves insist that all rights are God-given. They conveniently forget that the enforcement of God-given rights is still the job of the dreadful Government. Rights have to be protected and even though I would love to carry a gun around all the time in case I need to dispute, say, a claim from my insurer, I hire a Government to do that for me. Sure, they mostly suck, they tax you, they grow corrupt with time, but the alternative is a do-it-yourself Wild West. Don’t get me wrong, I, of all people, would succeed in a kill-or-be-killed setting like this, but the point is why not hire somebody else to do the enforcement job for you, while you can engage in, say, some money making or world saving? Besides, every 2 or 4 years you have a recourse against the Government in form of election. It’s amusing to hear all those yells of “tyranny” and calls to “violent rebellion” from middle-aged middle class nearing retirement who, for way too long, had a boot of Socialism planted firmly on their necks! But no more! Down with Socialism!

Funny, how I always digress in my writings. I do like to rant though, if you haven’t noticed.

So anyway, a Tea Party rally would not be a Tea Party rally without some dude in a tricorner hat waving the copy of the Constitution. But now I wonder whether they just like the original document or all of those amendments that came afterwards. If they just like the original then they would have to admit that they would repeal the subsequent amendments, like giving women the right to vote or abolishing slavery or granting citizenship to persons who are born here. Some brave and honest tea parties, like Rand Paul, would repeal the 14th amendment, for example. At least he’s honest and I give him kudos for that. I only wish that he went all the way – calling for repeal of all of the amendments, instead of picking and choosing only the ones he likes. That’s where I have a problem with the tea partiers supposed love of the Constitution. They love it but they want it changed. They imagine things to be in the Constitution that are not actually there. They choose to ignore some inconvenient articles. This problem can be solved if they just write their own Tea Party version of the Constitution. Just to give you a few highlights: Abolish federal income tax (Sharon Angle); Establish the presence of Christian God in state affairs (Christine O’Donnell, Sarah Palin); Abolish Department of Education and a right to citizenship for those born here (Rand Paul). And wave this document instead – that will keep you honest.

After watching that Christine O’Donnell video I thought that it would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. No matter how civil a society we’re bound to have citizens who have no idea what the Constitution is all about and have their own fantasies about what’s in it. But to have a public official who runs for office not to have a clue about one of the most important cornerstones of the current law, the establishment clause, is sad and even scary. It does not necessarily show her stupidity, although she’s pretty ignorant, unable to name even Roe v Wade – the mandatory pet peeve of any self-respecting conservative – as an example of Supreme Court decision she disagrees with (not because she agrees with it, but because she doesn’t know what the fuck that is!), it shows her inability to think. If she truly believed that government does not guarantee the separation of church and state, then what particular church does the government have in mind? And just to be on the safe side – to check with herself to make sure that she belongs to that particular brand of religion. Because, you know, she a Catholic after all, and Catholics used to be, shall we say, frowned upon, in the good ol’ days.

Don’t be a sucker

“When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.”

Sinclair Lewis

I’ve known this quote for quite a while but I always resisted using it in my blog, because I’d like to avoid using loaded words. But since the Right has bend the rules of the game so much that they have no shame comparing Obama to a Nazi – I had to come down from my high horse and get into dirty combat. I’m a small time crook. My profits are modest, my aspirations – laughable. Every day I have to coexist with a number of suckers and sometimes on a bad day when my guard is down I become a sucker myself. My poker winnings are in direct proportion to the number of fish at the table. My trading profits depend on the herd mentality of other players. I used to be upset when someone makes a stupid play and beat me with one-outer at the poker table or when everyone is buying when in my opinion they should be selling, but I got over it. Instead I learned to embrace it. Now I congratulate and cheer and encourage stupid behavior among my fellow players. I make sure to say ‘Nice hand’ or ‘Well done’ to a sucker to promote incorrect play. Why fight it if you can take advantage of it?

Continue reading

Left and Jesus

I’m not religious, let’s just get that out of the way. But in the US religion and politics are intertwined very closely. It’s just one of the peculiarities of the the political process here – unless you are a believer or pretend to be – forget about  a career in politics. That is unfortunate, but it surely can be used to our advantage. Sorry, Bill Maher, we just gonna have to learn to swallow this bitter medicine if we are to live in this country. Watchya gonna do –  organize atheists? Have you ever tried herding cats? But to be honest, I do secretly hope that the majority on the Left is faking their religiosity.

Anyway, I find it strange that Democrats and the Left in general have allowed the Right to hijack Jesus and Christianity. Just think what kind of rhetorical skills the Right had to possess in order to justify the marriage of Christian principles and corporate capitalism. It’s like mixing oil and water but nonetheless they were quite successful in linking these two together. The message was simple: you work hard, play by the rules and then one day, maybe, you too will achieve the American dream. This way they kill two birds with one stone: First, if you fail you only have yourself to blame, probably because you didn’t work hard enough and second, this rat race keeps you occupied for the rest of your life. It’s an enviable arrangement for those in power and Republicans seized on it many years ago. But it is understood that this arrangement is applicable to the little guy, since  corporation have their own rules and privileges. But I digress, corporate welfare should be a subject of another post.

Religious people, and that’s about 85-90% of the population in this country claim that religion helps them in their everyday lives. They think of themselves as good people, good Christians, they believe they will most likely go to Heaven when they die, etc. But for some reason, the Right’s version of Christianity is very Old Testamenty – full of revenge, punishment, anger and all sorts of repression. Due to the subscription to that kind of values conservatives can’t really enjoy their lives and they hate to see others who can. That’s where Democrats come in! That’s where they start talking about the loving God, helping thy neighbor, feeding the hungry, caring about the environment – insert any liberal cause. You know, play on people’s positive traits. I mean Jesus was a hippie after all. No one thinks of himself as a vengeful or mean person. Deep down, even the worst criminal knows himself as kind, generous, just and humane person. That’s the kind of feelings that Democrats have to stir and capitalize on. Let Republicans own anger and resentment.

The Left also have to be mindful of the growing Hispanic population. I heard one Republican strategist saying that Hispanics are natural conservatives: they are religious and they have a strong work ethic. So they are already setting eyes on the new target, since relying on white southern men is no longer a viable strategy. Dems should not let this one slide.