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Now the turbocharged rats can use computers…according to Newt, Christine, Sarah and Sharon!!

(Note: I initially wrote this a couple of weeks ago then set it aside to marinate. Unfortunately, things continue to get worse for the home team – the American Working Class and the remnant of the Middle Class that need to get very concerned about how things are going to play out.  So, while it’s probably hopeless, I need to take ironic inspiration from Mother Teresa, who when asked once why she did what she did in Calcutta since she could never win, smiled and said, “It’s not about winning.” )

I haven’t been writing enough lately. As I was sitting here this evening, it occurred to me that I could probably have some fun with a discussion of how I feel left out because Mossad hasn’t tapped my phone the way they have Gordon’s and it’s just not fair – and then I realized that would be a unwise thing to do. Not that Mossad would tap my phone or that they’re tapping HIS phone. They have better things to do; or, if you like, more nefarious things to do. Rather, that people would take it not as a piece of heavy-handed satire but as true. Joe Lieberman would probably issue a Fatwah against us.

PT Barnum is credited with saying that no one ever went broke underestimating (“misunderestimating?”) the stupidity of the American people. Well, I have been unable to write much of late, and nothing for this site because I’ve been so discouraged and disheartened by the gullibility of the American people – the Tea Party types and their enablers. While the left can piss me off at times, and they do and have since I was an aspiring student radical as an undergraduate but couldn’t bring myself to believe that Dean Rusk was having the Army and the Air Force target water buffalo, most lefties in the US are reasonably well educated. The Gingiches and the Armeys aside, most of the right is determined not to be fooled by someone with facts. The Grinch of Gingrich and the Dick of Armey know better at some level, but the fact is, they are in denial too. And, batshit crazy on Newt’s part. So, the rank and file are scared of Arithmetic and the leaders are insane. But, here’s the problem…these people are not imagining this stuff…they actually believe it.  At some level, Newt connects with a Dinesh de Souza and figures that the President of the United States is a Kenyan anti-revolutionary at heart…an African-American Thomas Paine, perhaps? No, they can’t go there…because Glenn Beck has claimed both gold and Thomas Paine. Paine would be…surprised, I suspect. Horrified. Utterly pissed off to be associated with Glenn Beck…he’d sue the bastard for slander. Unfortunately, Tom Paine is dead…

Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistant that we call it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel…

Of all the systems of religion that ever were invented, there is no more derogatory to the Almighty, more unedifiying to man, more repugnant to reason, and more contradictory to itself than this thing called Christianity. Too absurd for belief, too impossible to convince, and too inconsistent for practice, t renders the heart torpid or produces only atheists or fanatics. As an engine of power, it serves the purpose of despotism, and as ameans of wealth, the avarice of priests, but so far as respects the good of man in general it leads to nothing here or hereafter. [Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]

However, I have my own problem. You see, in the Tea Party and the Republican resurgence I see the hand of Religion gone insane. Now, I am no longer a practicing Catholic, and have come to terms with the fact that I don’t have the belief gene. Sorry, long before Hawking I figured that God didn’t really add a lot to the universe. I am reasonably well educated and did major in Philosophy and Theology at a very good Catholic college.  This coin should probably have dropped in the slot by the votive candles months ago, but it happened when I was listening to the new dim-bulbed Delaware Bimbo.

Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, John Boehner, Jim DeMint and some Tea Party types don’t merely yearn for the country they idealize from the 1950s. They want to go back to the 1750s.

Joe Miller, the Palin-blessed Republican nominee for Senate in Alaska, suggests that Social Security is unconstitutional because it wasn’t in the Constitution. The Constitution is a dazzling document, but do these originalists really think things haven’t changed since then? If James Madison beamed down now, he would no doubt be stunned at the idea that America had evolved so far but was hemming itself in by the strictest interpretation of his handiwork. He might even tweet about it.

Evolution is no myth, but we may be evolving backward. Christine O’Donnell had better hope they don’t bring back witch burning.

Whether we’re talking about evolution or sex, Maureen Dowd channeling a Scot deist awakened me from my doctrinal slumber. I realized that I heard that drivel about masturbation being like adultery somewhere before; when I listened to her blabbing about how if the guy doesn’t abstain from masturbation, why did the guy need her for sex, I really had flashbacks. To my freshman year in high school and to James Joyce.

Although I was largely educated by Jesuits and by lay people, for the retreats in high school they always brought out the Big Guns – the Dominicans.  These were the guys who did a number on Jews, heretics, and the insane during the Inquisition, and they have made a trade over the centuries out of doing days of reflection or retreats. They are great preachers, God’s Catholic fire and brimstone corps…and, they are seriously deranged on the subjects of hell, damnation, and sex. MS O-Spot from Delaware may have finally gotten her degree from Farleigh Dickinson, but her mind is pure Frosh Year at Our Lady of the Perpetual Frown.

Seriously, pick up a copy of The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by Joyce. Read the sermons during the retreats. They’ve been updated, but the basic themes are still there, only more scary and graphic than Joyce could write.

When I was an undergraduate, the Catholic campuses were awash in posters drawn by Sister Corita Kent…primitive scrawls with platitudes and catch-phrases. CELEBRATE! GOD IS LOVE! Bad puns both visual and verbal polluted lots of landscapes. Primary, bright colors and crap – unsophisticated. Good enough for Big Bird, of course, but not a lot of depth or thought there. The artist ‘s work was a lot deeper than most thoughts it inspired. I suspect that’s true of all great art, though.

So, let’s run down the Religious  bona fides of these people. Newt is a Catholic convert, which I find interesting – they will obviously let anyone in. Sarah Palin was a Catholic and is now something else. Christine O’Donnell couldn’t be more Catholic – her thoughts are like badly interpreted Corita Kent designs selling spiritual cheeseburgers. The first family of Conservatism, the Buckleys, couldn’t have been more Catholic. While the Kennedy family makes the Tea Party type squirm and hiss, old Joe would probably have felt right at home with these guys. The Clowny-Kake Sopranos wannabe running for governor of New York is probably a Catholic. Glen Beck was a Catholic, only he decided to become a space alien. O’Reilly, Hannity? Come on – it doesn’t escape me that there’s a strong Irish twinge to these guys and gals Catholicism. I think O’Donnell looks a bit like Maureen O’Hara.

If they aren’t Catholic, they appear to way out on the Born Again Fringe. I suppose Bill Kristol would be the exception that proves the rule, but between Sharon Angle’s lunacy and Palin’s concern about witchcraft combined with O’Donnell’s multiple concerns and everybody’s love affair with guns, gay marriage and abortion and I gotta wonder.

The bad part about it is that the Catholic Church was for decades a source of enlightened thinking on most social and political issues, and stayed that way in part through the present moment. I suspect that Catholic guilt makes Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg think about things like the Senate or social action or Hillary Clinton. From whom much is given, much is indeed expected.

Unfortunately, no particular faith or direction or hair color will define politics or ethics. I find the ability of people like Palin and Gingrich and now O’Donnell to ignore their own falls from Grace and actually find virtue in them troubling. You see, I believe these people believe what they are saying. It’s not a mass movement led by sophisticates – it’s a mass movement led by boobs, in the best HL Mencken sense of the term. Mencken didn’t particularly like the Irish and Catholics either.

Now, not unlike Jefferson, I regard the ethics, the answer that Jesus is shown providing us in scripture to the question later formulated by St Augustine, –How then shall we live together?—to be exceptional. One of my problems with Christianity, and Christians is the inability of so many of these guys to focus. The heart of the message is charity. Not faith, not hope but charity. Certainly not some form of self-reliance…poor houses…lower taxes for the rich.

In times of economic madness, it helps to retreat to first principles. And, at the moment, we are definitely in economic madness. I’ll pass over the debacle that is California, for now and discuss instead the continuing war on reality conducted by the Republican Party and their center, the Tea Party. Paul Krugman, as usual, does a great job of explaining where we’re at from the idea of first principles. The first rule of economic analysis is fairly simple –THE LAWS OF ARITHMETIC APPLY!

Once upon a time, a Latin American political party promised to help motorists save money on gasoline. How? By building highways that ran only downhill.

I’ve always liked that story, but the truth is that the party received hardly any votes. And that means that the joke is really on us. For these days one of America’s two great political parties routinely makes equally nonsensical promises. Never mind the war on terror, the party’s main concern seems to be the war on arithmetic. And this party has a better than even chance of retaking at least one house of Congress this November.

Banana republic, here we come.

Now I’ve been reading for a while that there is a serious imbalance in the Labor Market — the workers with the skills are not where the jobs for those skills are. Really? One site today suggested that workers look in places like DC, South Carolina, North Dakota and Louisiana for jobs. The author was obviously drunk. DC is possible, but they can draw from the entire country for some things — and, there is no real shortage of people in Northern Virginia, Chesapeake Bay or other palces. South Carolina has lots of jobs going begging? First time in decades — and, one wonders what sort of jobs? Boeing is supposedly ready to start cranking out Dreamliners there; probably at $15 an hour, which is pretty good for South Carolina. But, since most of their suppliers are in China, Japan and similar locales, not a lot of work from the suppliers happening. Lousisiana is looking for what? People to wash pelicans? Granted, they do have a serious shortage of trained workers, but…not really. The unemployment rate there is normally 15% in good times. North Dakota? Seriously…lots of call center work moved in, but both Dakotas have had a downturn in population over the last couple of decades. Jobs in energy may be possible.

However, once again, I turn to Paul Krugman. Who calls bullshit, not only on the right on this one but also the left…the reason for unemployment is lack of demand. Businesses are not going to expand until there is a demand for goods and services, and unless they think it is substantial and sustained, there will not be a lot of hiring regardless of using the shell game to move us all around…Krugman is not a historical economist like the Chairman of the Federal Reserve is a histroical economist, but he can tell a kite from a king just fine…and I suspect that, like me and most thinking individuals, is enough of a Marxist to remember the saw about history repeating itself, first as tragedy and then as farce…I’m calling the “Great Recession!” the tragedy…

I’ve been looking at what self-proclaimed experts were saying about unemployment during the Great Depression; it was almost identical to what Very Serious People are saying now. Unemployment cannot be brought down rapidly, declared one 1935 analysis, because the work force is “unadaptable and untrained. It cannot respond to the opportunities which industry may offer.” A few years later, a large defense buildup finally provided a fiscal stimulus adequate to the economy’s needs — and suddenly industry was eager to employ those “unadaptable and untrained” workers.

But now, as then, powerful forces are ideologically opposed to the whole idea of government action on a sufficient scale to jump-start the economy. And that, fundamentally, is why claims that we face huge structural problems have been proliferating: they offer a reason to do nothing about the mass unemployment that is crippling our economy and our society.

The thing I keep thinking about is Public Works spending. Construction is in the tank and that’s a big problem — if we put the building trades folks to work building things besides houses like, oh, schools, roads, electrical grids, natural gas lines, sewers, water lines, hospitals and so on, those are real jobs that need to be done. Only government has the wherewithal to do those things…so, a stimulus package that focuses on long term public works will drive growth. No brainer…we used to do big things in this country…we should be able to do them again. If we can’t, well, hell, we’re screwed.

Seriously, while I’m all for faster broadband, things like high speed rail and improved infrastructure will do more for the future and the present, generate inital and sustained demand for goods and services that will drive demand for labor across all sectors. This will, oh by the way, generate more tax income. Since government will be spending more, taxes will probably need to increase over time until the taxes equal the outlay, but what the hell? If you increase the taxable base, then you increase the revenue and any increases can be less.

Willie Sutton and the Democrats are right though; if the government wants to get money to fund the things needed to keep us from depending on all the roads running down hill, they have to go where the money is…

Now, in the distant past, I found myself running a St Vincent de Paul organization in a large city. I thought I was going to run HR for them, but a couple of weeks after I joined, they fired the executive director for malfeasance, misfeasance and general “feasance…” and told me I was in charge until I figured it out. I played the role of the good Catholic for that year and actually became influenced in a lot of my thinking about social justice by the writings of St Vincent de Paul and Frederic Ozinam, the founder of the Society of St Vincent de Paul. St Vincent played politics, flattered Cardinals and Queens, and did whatever he had to do for his “hard masters,” the poor. St Vincents all over the world do good things for lots of people. I do not regret my time with them. I was the wrong guy on the spiritual side, but on the side of keeping the lights on, the doors open and the poor assisted I was the right guy for the time.

Reason I raise this is simple — Religion in this country used to be focused on increasing tolerance, helping the afflicted, feeding the hungry, helping people out of poverty. Now it is concerned with periperal things; it doesn’t have the moral focus on the things that their savior wanted them to focus on; it is focused on periperals. As long as Catholicism remains mired in sexuality, and Evangelicals remain mired in the end times, and the Black Churches mired in the gospels of Prosperity, then the Sharon Angles and Christine O’Donnells and Newt Gingriches will claim the mantle of religion and call the faithful to arms on a bible of exploitation of the poor, increasing the gap between the rich and the rest, intolerance, hatred and a weird kind of reverse Marxist-Keynesian economic and political philosophy that would make Hobbes regret Leviathan…

View the original article at Veterans Today

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