Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Living a narcissist's dream

The Pastor Casts a Shadow - The New York Times

The Shrinking Election - Washington Post

Repelling by example

One more thought on the atheist story. Why is it that, so often, the most loudly self-avowed "Christians" are precisely the ones that think and behave in the least Christ-like manner? It's like the Bizarro-world version of "leading by example." Either these people have never cracked open a Bible, or their reading comprehension scores are in the negative numbers.

These also tend to be the first people to complain about the "anti-Christian" bias of secular culture. Well, there is an anti-Christian bias out there, but it's not about Christianity itself or, I would venture, even about most Christians. No one is rolling their eyes and making snide remarks about Mother Teresa. It's only this smaller group of do-the-opposite, in-name-only Christians -- those exemplars of bad behavior who try to shout down any contrary thought -- that try every thinking person's patience.

Well-paid experts can't understand why we're so dour about the economy

As Jobs Vanish and Prices Rise, Food Stamp Use Nears Record - The New York Times

Threats show need for remedial training in U.S. history, Constitutional principles, adulthood

Soldier Sues Army, Saying His Atheism Led to Threats - The New York Times

It's amazing, and disheartening, that the officers and fellow soldiers who threatened this guy are fighting for a Constitution they don't remotely understand. What the First Amendment prohibits is government attempts to shape, control or sanction our ideas (and our expressions thereof). Clearly, however, some people are threatened by any form of "freedom" that does not produce conformity.

As Thomas Jefferson explained in his Notes on the State of Virginia:

The rights of [religious] conscience we never submitted, we could not submit.... Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity. But is uniformity of opinion desirable? No more than of face and stature.

Courting the let-them-eat-cake vote

McCain's economic program? Bushonmics on crack. Slate's Daniel Gross sums it up thusly:

Reading McCain's economic agenda and listening to his speech, it appears that the problem with the last eight years is that we haven't seen enough tax breaks for the wealthy, that economic royalism hasn't been pursued with sufficient vigor, and that the middle and working classes haven't been stiffed sufficiently.

A rare instance of economic accountability

This passage deserves particular emphasis:

The real incomes of middle-class families grew more than twice as fast under Democratic presidents as they did under Republican presidents. Even more remarkable, the real incomes of working-poor families (at the 20th percentile of the income distribution) grew six times as fast when Democrats held the White House. Only the incomes of affluent families were relatively impervious to partisan politics, growing robustly under Democrats and Republicans alike.

Inequalities - The New York Times

The shape of things to come

Bush Made Permanent - The New York Times

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pollsters: In November, either Democrat will do

Still, I have yet to meet an independent or Republican crossover voter who hasn't told me, "I'd like to vote for a Democrat this year--but not if it's Hillary."

Democrats Assess Rivals’ Strength in Swing States - The New York Times

Working the ref

Conservatives shout, "liberal bias!", and the media quiver. Liberals shout, "conservative bias!", and the media shrug. What gives? My not-terribly-original thought is, "Follow the money." Are the corporations who now own most of the media better served by a conservative bias?

Sometimes correlation does mean causation.

Sleeping with the enemy

Sixties-izing the Dems

Happens every time. Let's move on, people.

(But before we do, it might be worth recalling that, on the big stuff--civil rights, the environment, Vietnam--those damn hippies were right.)

Back to The '60s

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

But seriously...

The deeper concern raised by the preceding story can be found in this graf:

"But sometimes somebody's temperament can get in the way of aides telling him the truth, which happened [during the Vietnam War] with LBJ. His temper scared some [aides] away, which was not good for anyone. . . . That's always part of the risk with a strong temper . . . and so it's always relevant."

We've already had eight years of see-no-evil, hear-no-evil leadership. The results have not been good.

Three words: Finger. Button. Boom.

McCain: A Question of Temperament - Washington Post

Monday, April 21, 2008

The stealthly pay cut

Workers Get Fewer Hours, Deepening the Downturn - The New York Times

Unlike "compassionate conservatives," the phrase "compassionate economics" is not necessarily an oxymoron

Last night I had the good fortune to stumble across a fascinating interview on New Dimensions radio with author Riane Eisler. She was discussing her most recent book, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating A Caring Economics. Good stuff, very insightful.

Here's an excerpt introducing the program from the New Dimensions website:

Even with a woman knocking on the door of the Presidency, our society-and our government-still views women, and the nurturing qualities of the feminine, as inferior. The result is a politics of scarcity, and a growing population of families living in poverty. Ms. Eisler explains, "As long as we don't make the invisible visible, we will continue to see this economic double standard at work, and policy makers will continue to tell us that we always have money for prisons or for weapons and wars. But these same policy makers will tell us somehow that there isn't enough money for health care, child care, paid parental leave. It makes no sense. This country is going to pay very, very dearly in economic terms for not investing in our human capital, not to speak of all the suffering that we're causing. But we've got to make that visible. Then we can change it."

The site charges $1.99 for the full, one-hour program (well worth the time and money, imho). Alternatively, an excerpt can be found here (free site registration required).

Saturday, April 19, 2008

She's right (except for the blog-entry crack)

But the takeaway thought belongs to Jon Stewart: "Not only do I want an elite president. I want someone who is embarrassingly superior to me."

Still with stupid? - Los Angeles Times

Monday, April 14, 2008

Thought for the day

I filed my taxes today. At times like these, it is important to remember Oliver Wendell Holmes' famous observation: "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization." So true. Don't you hate all those freeloading libertarians who love to call taxation "theft," and yet don't hesitate to use the services government provides? Here's my proposal. Libertarians can stop paying taxes as long as they: build their own roads; use private schools; put out their own fires; dispose of their own sewage; enforce their own contracts; test all their own products for safety; forego police protection; stay out of public parks, libraries, museums, and job centers; forget about unemployment benefits and old-age protections; and abstain from any medical treatment that was developed using government funds (which is to say, most of them). Good luck, libertarians!

Abolish All ‘Taxes' - The New York Times

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Thanks, Puritans

Re: the last post. I suppose such an attitude isn't surprising given our conflation of morals and money--the widespread, if unspoken, American belief that financial worth = human worth. The sinner in America is he who makes less than $50k. (Thank you, Puritans.)

It never seems to occur to anyone that there are far fewer good jobs than people who want them. If every American were to "get the education" to qualify for such jobs (the fact that even Democrats still cling to the "Great Education Myth" as our salvation is chilling), what we would wind up with isn't more good jobs, but rather more overqualified people who can only find work at Wal-Mart. And we have a surplus of those already.

America: Where only the wealthy deserve to be healthy

Health Care Horror Stories - New York Times

Saturday, April 12, 2008

And finally....

Cleaning up, part deux

Cleaning up

The first thing I need to do is put up the links I never got around to posting on the old site (remember, that time thing). There's a lot of them. Please be patient. Also, some of these articles may be out of date. Please ignore them. :)

Raison d'etre (literally, "What the hell are you doing?")


This is the new home for my old website, "The Contrarian Review." Why the change? First, I no longer had the time to maintain a "real" website--what with file transfers and coding and site design not to screw up (a constant struggle given my nonexistent technical skills)--but I still wanted to share web articles that might be of interest with others. A blog seemed the quick-and-dirtiest way of doing that.

The second reason is that the main aim of my old site--to raise a loud alarm over the lies and lunacies of the Bush Administration (remember, when I started the old site in 2002, the mainstream media was still swooning over Bush, with the brave exception of Paul Krugman of the New York Times)--has been realized. Bush now has one of the lowest approval ratings of any president since the dawn of the approval rating. The NYT recently reported that 81% of Americans--81%!--now feel this country is on the wrong track.

But, as long as conservatives roam freely, we are not safe. I liked to consider the old CR as a kind of progressive Reader's Digest or "best of the progressive web," as well as a way (however feeble) of fighting the Republicans' seemingly implacable drive to de-civilize America, to make life hell for the non-wealthy.

If knowledge is power--and if it is viral--then maybe sharing this kind of information, even on a small scale, can help tip the social scales in a more just direction. Who knows? It's worth a shot.