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      The Ukrainian military clearly doesn’t care enough to actually fight: The day began inauspiciously for Ukrainian forces as they sought to establish an operating base in the city of Kramatorsk, moving in units from a nearby military air base. According to Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and a witness who spoke by phone, a column of six [...]
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He had a wife, you know

Well, this changes everything. Biblical scholars recently received a piece of 4th century papyrus from Egypt where Jesus says he had a wife and she was to be his disciple. There’s only one person he could be referring to here, Mary Magdalene. We know this because similar lines have been found in earlier texts, the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary and refer to Mary Magdalene who Jesus was said to kiss on the lips.

It’s probably true (but not all the Dan Brown crap). Yes, those texts are gnostic and were purged at about the time the Roman empire decided to go Chrisitan. How convenient. The Roman priesthood, all male, probably didn’t want to have to give up good positions of power and influence to some upstart Coptic women claiming discipleship.

History is frequently written by the winners and women didn’t have a prayer, no pun intended, of becoming leaders in the church once the manly-man’s empire got involved. So, better burn the evidence. But I have always wondered what lurks in the vaults of the Vatican library. Did they get rid of everything? And if the earlier versions of the texts show up that are roughly contemporaneous with the canonical gospels, how will that change the Catholic Church, which seems to founded on male exclusivity nd “no smelly girls at the altar”? What will it mean to the Nuns on the Bus and that womens leadership conference that has been told to shut up and stick to the teachings of the catholic church?

I have to say one thing, it sure gives me a new found respect for Jesus, who was one awesome Occupier and a man ahead of his time.

But can’t you just imagine what’s going on at the Vatican tonight?

Papal Secretary: Your Holiness, sorry to interrupt you but have you seen this news article about the scrap of papyrus that says Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ wife and one of his disciples?

Pope: What? Let me see that. Where did you find that?

P. Sec: On the Internet, your holiness. You should check your Facebook page.

Pope: Jesus!

P. Sec: Sister Pat, that nun who’s been a pain in your cassock for the past couple of months says she would like to dialog with you about opening a seminary for women seeking to take their vows of priesthood.

Pope: Oh, God!

P. Sec: Well, to be honest, your holiness, isn’t this just the ticket? You can ditch those NAMBLA members and sign on some of these women. They’ll work for peanuts and we can get back on the road to fiscal sanity in some of these parishes.

Pope: But they’re going to want to have a seat at the table. We’ll have to build new bathrooms. They’re going to want to mess with the decorating and the uniforms. Can’t we get the PR department on this?

P. Sec: It’s too late, your holiness. The nuns are already redlining the mass. “Consubstantial” has been stricken. They said it sounds esoteric and pompous. And they want a total rewrite of the Apostle’s Creed. In general, they said we should dial it back on the virginity thing.

Pope: Holy Mother of God.

P. Sec: No, wife. But I think you’re getting the picture. By the way, the guys and I have gotten together on this and, well, you know, we like to know when we can start dating. Take your time, but not too much time. We’re not getting any younger.

Pat Robertson says Muslims can’t help themselves

It’s genetic:

I have no idea why a fanatical group of fundamentalists of any religion would find it insulting when the authoritarian nutcase leader of another fundamentalist religion calls their prophet a child molester. You see, if you knew your bible, you’d know that the AY-RABS came from the Ishmael side of Abraham’s family tree and he was a hothead.  {{rolling eyes}}  That’s why Mohammed was a pedophile, according to Robertson.

Judeo-Christians aren’t like that, apparently.  Jesus supposedly died a virgin.  But who knows, really?  If Jesus and his band of Occupiers were alive today, they would have been accused of sex in public in the Garden of Gethsemene.  Oh, sure they would.  The Romans would have had a field day with that.  The Romans would have called them rapists and troublemakers and dirty, lice infested, disturbers of the peace. See how that works?  Lucky for the Romans, they didn’t need to engage in too much propaganda.  They just crucified the leader of the Occupiers and set an example.  But just because TRUE Christians haven’t turned out for the modern day version of Occupy, like I’m sure their leader would encourage, doesn’t mean they’re as violent and nutty as batshit crazy Muslims.

On the other hand, there are some pretty hinky parts of the old testament.  And fundamentalists like Pat Robertson loves them some of that old testament religion.  But let’s dig right in and see what beliefs Pat Robertson goes out of his way to protect and defend, shall we? (This list is not exhaustive)

1.) The pastor of Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, David Davis, read this from the pulpit the Sunday after 9/11.  It’s from Psalms:

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How can we sing the songs of the Lord
while in a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.

Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down,” they cried,
“tear it down to its foundations!”
Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is the one who repays you
according to what you have done to us.
9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.

Lovely.  And I’m sure they meant every word.  Don’t let some apologist tell you otherwise.  This Psalm illustrates that when it comes to violence in religious texts, you can’t heap all the blame on Islam.  It has everything to do with religious fanaticism and fundamentalism and no religion is immune.

But what does Davis know?  He’s one of those Presbyterians.  They’re not *serious* Christians, as I have been told on numerous occasions by fundamentalist Christians.

God directed the violence in a couple of other places:

1 Samuel 15: “Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy[a] all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

The book of Joshua is a record of God directed ethnic cleansing by the Israelites against the Canaanites.  God is very specific in his orders to Joshua.  Kill the men, women and children, carry off the gold, silver and livestock because that stuff belongs to God.  Here’s an example of Joshua’s siege of Ai:

24 When Israel had finished killing all the men of Ai in the fields and in the wilderness where they had chased them, and when every one of them had been put to the sword, all the Israelites returned to Ai and killed those who were in it. 25 Twelve thousand men and women fell that day—all the people of Ai. 26 For Joshua did not draw back the hand that held out his javelin until he had destroyed[a] all who lived in Ai. 27 But Israel did carry off for themselves the livestock and plunder of this city, as the Lord had instructed Joshua.

If you take out the details about swords and  javelins, you could be reading an account of Srebrenica.  Remember, these are the descendents of Abraham who were NOT from the hot head side of the family.

2.) This one is interesting.  It’s from Deuteronomy 25:11:

“If two men, a man and his countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is striking him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, 12then you shall cut off her hand; you shall not show pity.”

How very Taliban.

3.) This is how the old Israelites dealt with rape from Deuteronomy 22:28-29:

28 g“If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.”

We have no idea how the young woman felt about this but you can bet your boots that the elders showed no pity.

4.) Let’s not even go there with David and Bathsheba and how after David found out he knocked up Bathsheba, he had her husband Uriah killed.  David was Jesus’ ancestor, if you believe all those begets.  So, essentially, Jesus was the descendent of a philandering murderer.  Nothing personal.

5.) David’s son Amnon had the hots for his half sister Tamar and slept with her.  Incest didn’t go over well with Absolam, Tamar’s full brother.  The whole thing didn’t end well.  David’s family sounds like it’s straight out of a Jerry Springer episode.

6.) There’s some question as to whether Sarah and Abraham were related as well.    Genesis 20:12 seems to say that Sarah was Abraham’s half sister by his father.  So, let’s think about this: Abraham + Hagar = Ismael the Hot-head while Abraham + Sarah = Isaac, product of incest.  Just sayin’.

7.) It is Ok to foolishly make deals with God when you’re in a tight spot because what could possibly happen?

29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord: “If you give the Ammonites into my hands, 31 whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the Lord’s, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.”

So, he comes home for shore leave and what comes flying out of his house to meet him but his daughter? Yeah, didn’t see that coming.  But Jephthah was a merciful killer of his own daughter.  He let her have 2 months of fun in the mountains because she was a virgin before he put her to death.  Jeez, my dad used to just bring us gifts from foreign ports.  The Bronze Age was a tough time to be a kid.

8.) The whole story of Lot is just nauseating.  He offers his virgin daughters to the men of Sodom so that the men wouldn’t attack some angels who were incognito.  Wasn’t that special?  And after God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his now defiled daughters take for the hills.  What happens next is just weird.  Here’s Julia Sweeney in Letting Go of God telling Lot’s story.  (Pick it up 15 seconds in)

9.) And in the bible, if you make fun of bald men, you shall be eaten by bears (2 Kings 2:23-25):

23 Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, young lads came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!” 24 When he looked behind him and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number. 25 And he went from there to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.

Maybe this is the secret wish of bald men everywhere. But bears?  Granted, it will teach kids not to be bullies but it seems a little extreme.  You’d think God would have pulled Elisha aside and said, “Are you sure you want to do this?  Aren’t you being a little oversensitive about your hair?  How about I just give them an extra nasty case of chicken pox?”

There are many more delightful stories lurking in the bible.  I love the one where Jezebel gets thrown out of a window and eaten by dogs.  That’ll learn her.  And then there are all of the stonings and fornications and floods and cursings and who doesn’t feel sorry for Job?  We aren’t even talking about the silly laws about when you can and can’t have sex with your wife and what is clean and unclean and how stretch denim jeans are an abomination.  That prohibition is in the same chapter of Deuteronomy (chapter 22) where the punishment for a husband slandering his bride by saying she wasn’t a virgin is a whipping.  But if the sheet isn’t bloody, she gets stoned.

Three thousand years later, we are still holding this book up as some kind of moral guidebook.  Indeed, there are some people, like Pat Robertson, who think that if you don’t believe in this book, you can’t be a moral person.

It’s hard to believe that I just had to explain to a commenter what this post is all about so let me spell it out:

The problem that we are seeing in the world right now, especially in the past couple of days, is that fundamentalism is taking root in many countries, including our own.  This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.  It is partially a result of economic conditions.  The more stressed a population is, the more it turns to religion for salvation.  And authoritarian leaders will seize on the opportunity to use religion to enforce compliance and obedience on the population.  But this can also backfire.  Because fundamentalism does not recognize secular authority.  Fundamentalism only recognizes rule by God.

So, in a way, people like Pat Robertson and his equivalents in the Muslim world are making the situation worse.  And ordinary citizens around the world are caught in the middle in this war between two fundamentalist traditions who are adamant about applying bronze age morality to the present day.  It is time for us to say enough already.  We are constrained by cultural mores to go out of our way to respect religious traditions no matter how destructive they are.  And in the present, the wealthy and powerful, by deliberately damaging economies around the world are making religious fundamentalism more likely to erupt into violence.

If you don’t like that summary because you feel like your religion is under attack, good! The rest of us are sick of assholes like Pat Robertson stirring up the pot with ignorant, insensitive commentary.  And we’re sick of fundamentalists of any religion who are unable to grow up.  It’s time that we stop letting the religious have so much rope that they hang all of us.  No more deference to the religious above everyone else who may have objections.  It’s dangerous.

Update: There’s a story in the NYTimes about the origin of the infamous video that touched this whole thing off.  It’s a bit mysterious.  What I find curious is the timing.  It’s coming at about 7 weeks before the election.  It’s bound to make the fundagelicals and other vulnerable voters nervous.  Not only that but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had an effect on oil prices.  The price of gas is already going up.

The effect of the attacks on the embassy and gas prices may be positive for Republicans.  There are studies (damn, where is that reference??) that show that when voters feel threatened they tend to vote for conservatives.  Then there are the irrational birthers who are convinced that Obama is a secret Muslim.  Yes, it’s crazy and stupid.  If Obama were a good president, it wouldn’t make any difference to me if he were a Muslim, but I’m pretty convinced that the only god Barack Obama worships is Barack Obama.  Nevertheless, it’s going to be interesting to see how Obama deals with this, especially if the attacks provoke a shameful retaliation against Muslims in this country.

So, I don’t know who decided to broadcast the inflammatory Mohammed video, and I definitely do not condone the overreaction no matter how insulting, but I smell a rat on the right.

 

Thursday: Relative

Did this Melanesian get the blonde hair from the Denisovian side of the family?

There isn’t much time left before the big day!  Yep, before you know it, the Republicans will have full control of the House.  What, you thought I was talking about Christmas.

Here’s a frightening cautionary tale: The town of Pritchard in Alabama was warned for years that it wasn’t setting enough money aside to pay for pensions.  Right on schedule, the pension money ran out in 2009 and the town stopped sending checks to its retired public servants.  Some of them have since died destitute.  Others have had to file for bankruptcy.  This is what you get when you don’t fulfill your obligations to the employees who deferred some of their compensation for their retirement.  And Congress has no excuse in the future to say, “Oh, we didn’t know.  who could have predicted that not raising taxes on the wealthy would result in a shortfall in Social Security when we decided to cut everyone a 2% break on their payroll taxes in 2010?”  From the NYTimes article on Pritchard:

It is not just the pensioners who suffer when a pension fund runs dry. If a city tried to follow the law and pay its pensioners with money from its annual operating budget, it would probably have to adopt large tax increases, or make huge service cuts, to come up with the money.

We all know what’s coming because this president and his cowardly Congressional Democrats didn’t have the balls to challenge Republicans when they had a chance.  Instead of throwing the drowning Republicans an anchor, they’ve thrown them a cruise ship and their own private island.  Thanks for the coal, Dems.

Speaking of Christmas, you’ll have to put down another place setting for the newest relative on the evolutionary family tree. It turns out that one of our long lost cousins, the Denisovians, was discovered in a cave in Siberia. We’re only distantly related.  The Denisovians left traces of their presence in the Melanesians of the South Pacific and New Guinea where as much as 4% of their DNA can still be found among the island populations.  The Denisovians are from the Neanderthal side of the family.  Really, they’re more like in-laws.  Fascinating.  We’ll have to see what those 4% residual genes are good for.

Ross Douthat, true believer is feeling repressed:

The first is “American Grace,” co-written by Harvard’s Robert Putnam (of “Bowling Alone” fame) and Notre Dame’s David Campbell, which examines the role that religion plays in binding up the nation’s social fabric. Over all, they argue, our society reaps enormous benefits from religious engagement, while suffering from few of the potential downsides. Widespread churchgoing seems to make Americans more altruistic and more engaged with their communities, more likely to volunteer and more inclined to give to secular and religious charities. Yet at the same time, thanks to Americans’ ever-increasing tolerance, we’ve been spared the kind of sectarian conflict that often accompanies religious zeal.

But for Christians, this sunny story has a dark side. Religious faith looks more socially beneficial to America than ever, but the institutional Christianity that’s historically generated most of those benefits seems to be gradually losing its appeal.

{{Snort!}}  Yes, all that sunshine must be positively blinding to the millions of child brides around the world who are benefitting from our Christian brothers who are withholding aid because they may get information about abortion in their health care services.  Peace on earth, good will to men!

By the way, Ross, that altruistic spirit of churchgoers is beaten to a pulp by the Atheists on the Kiva site where the non-believers out raise the Christians by a HUGE margin.  So, you don’t have to go to church to feel empathy for your fellow man or woman.  In fact, it looks like not going to church may lead to a more generous spirit.  But I guess if you have a column in the NYTimes, you can say whatever you like.  It doesn’t have to be true.

Ross continues:

Thanks in part to this bunker mentality, American Christianity has become what Hunter calls a “weak culture” — one that mobilizes but doesn’t convert, alienates rather than seduces, and looks backward toward a lost past instead of forward to a vibrant future. In spite of their numerical strength and reserves of social capital, he argues, the Christian churches are mainly influential only in the “peripheral areas” of our common life. In the commanding heights of culture, Christianity punches way below its weight.

Is he serious???  Where was Ross when Catholic bishops forced American women into Catholicism during last year’s healthcare reform debate?  If that wasn’t the single most successful example of conversion, I don’t know what was.

But it turns out that Ross is partially right.  The number of people rejecting creationism is creeping up.  It must give the fundagelical holdouts the willies.  Soon, in maybe a century or so, we Darwinists will win out and those true believers will be forced to add the Denisovians to their prayer lists.  Bwahahahahah!!!

Actually, if anyone has a right to feel repressed at Christmas time, it’s not the Christians.  It’s people like me.  My ancestors in the British Isles looked forward to the solstices to mark the passage of time and to honor their dead.  To my people 6000 years ago, the winter solstice must have been a frightening thing.  The sun goes south, the days shorten, the nights lengthen, it’s cold, nothing grows.  Oh, sure, the sun always comes back but what if it doesn’t this time?  The return of the sun on the days following solstice must have been a joyous occasion marked with feasting on the past harvest, lighting of fires and gathering up as much greenery as possible.  It was a simple time back then.  No crass commercialism.  No materialism.  And then the Christians co-opt Saturnalia and force everyone to go to church.  They’ve got some nerve.

If the Christians were really playing Christmas straight, they wouldn’t be celebrating in December.  We know that the New Testament writers fudged the nativity story to make the dates fit.  Jesus wasn’t born in December.  And from what I’ve read, he probably wasn’t crucified on Easter either.  All that Hosanna stuff and palm waving when Jesus rode to Jerusalem on the donkey was associated with Sukkot, a Jewish holiday celebrated in autumn.  So, why don’t the Christians come clean about Christmas?  They don’t have any special claim to the dates.  Late December is recognized by many faiths from around the world going back millenia.  It’s a time to gather together, keep warm, enjoy the glow of the fire, taste the fullness of fat on your tongue, the last you might have for months to come, and to await the return of the warmth of the sun on the land and in ourselves.

Jesus would approve.

His First Term?

obama_on_highJust Barely President, Baracus Hubris Maximus (hail Ceasar!) has been prattling on about “his first term” since he threw his size 10-gallon hat into the ring, like he knows something the rest of us don’t.  Like the rest of his West Wing “reality,” this is yet another transparent bit of scripted brainwashing propaganda in the Theater of the Obsurd.  However, though he no doubt truly, truly believes this one, the possibility that he might have some sort of insider knowledge on this point is more than a little freaking scary creepy.

Yesterday, while vowing to halve the deficit he inherited, yet saying zippo, nada, nuttin’ about the deficit he’s creating, he promised with his fingers crossed to get the job done by the end of “his first term,” something which he has already hinted would ensure him a second.  But, as with all things Obama, one must ask oneself, is there more to this than that?  This is an especially valuable point to consider, given that before the end of “his first term,” we’re all going to be spending a lot of time mumbling to ourselves anyway.  Might as well have something worthwhile to discuss.

Like his handlers’ now familiar other rather adept feats of legerdemain, such as the tried and true, clever use of favorable polling results ahead of entry into particularly tricky territory, in  proven-to-be largely successful attempts to pave the way for the increased possibility of public acceptance of whatever balderdash is read from left to right off his his Traveling TelePrompTer To Go, “my first term” has the hypnotic effect of “you are getting sleepy.”

Of course, in advance of his sure-to-be-historic first non State of the Union address tonight, we have already been treated to the requisite number of “he’s the shit” polls in the last few days, one even going so far as to assure us that he is more heroic, and thus, logically, more powerful, than Jesus.  Since, for Christians, Jesus trumps Moses, we can take comfort in the blind faith that the Obamessiah will lead us to the Promised Land of Financial Security by throwing out the Money Changers.  See how that works?  And, while all this is going on, we are being properly greased and trussed to receive the news that Our Dear Leader will reluctantly have to bite the bullet and nationalize the already nationalized entire financial sector.  Before “his first term” really even starts.

It is indeed comforting to know that we have a Father Figure who will do what’s best for us, even if that means increasing our (the taxpayer’s) risk while fattening the pockets of the beleaguered banksters.  Which is exactly what he’s about to tell us he’s about to do.  But you see, that’s how he’s going to “remake” the country, and bring about the “change” he’s been promising to achieve before the end of “his first term.”  First, see, he’s gotta get control of the banks, then, all industry, then, put us all to work on chain gangs building roads and railroads, then force us to “volunteer,” then turn over the school system to the military.  After that, by the time the government is in charge of everything else, fixing health care is a piece of cake.  Quite ambitious for the four years he’s got until the end of “his first term,” huh?

Now, if this is your idea of liberal/progressive heaven, the Wall Street Journal’s Matt Miller says, in what I assume is not snark, “Shhhhhh! Shut the hell up and let the man do his thing before you blow it!”  Of course, being an Obot fluent in ObaSpeak, he didn’t use those exact words, per se:

President Barack Obama is taking a beating from liberal critics who think his attempt to court Republican support is a political failure and a policy disaster. Yet this assault on Mr. Obama’s bipartisan instinct is misguided and, ironically, threatens to undermine liberal goals.

snip

Mr. Obama’s stimulus plan, which aims first to mitigate the collapse in aggregate demand in the economy, nonetheless lays down important markers toward this agenda, even if (or perhaps because) the details didn’t please partisans on either side. By marrying major new public investments with major new tax cuts, Mr. Obama is signaling that public activism and private incentives both matter profoundly. This yin-and-yang approach was strikingly on display at the bipartisan “fiscal responsibility summit,” which Mr. Obama convened at the White House yesterday. Before members of Congress and other guests, the president insisted on the need to restore long-term fiscal discipline (including entitlement reform) even as the nation runs up historic deficits to battle the recession in the next few years. The president’s professed reluctance to “nationalize” ailing banks — which has left space for an extraordinarily swift outside consensus to emerge (led by surprising voices like Alan Greenspan’s and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham’s) that temporary bank takeovers may be necessary — shows similar instincts. (emphasis mine)

See, Obie’s just playin’.  He’s finagling the Republicans with fake out overtures of bipartisanship so they can publicly reject him, then, pretending he doesn’t want stuff he really does want, because he knows whatever he says he doesn’t like, they’re gonna promote.  Clever, huh?  That way, he gets his way and if it tanks, it’s not his fault.  If it doesn’t, he’s a hero. (hail Ceasar!)  Either way, he gets his second term.

But, first, he’s gotta get the banks.

Now, you may say, “oh, come on! Are you really trying to tell me you think this guy is that friggin’ Machiavellian?”  To which I would respond, “you must be an Obot.”  Everybody else is well aware that similarly scuzzy, deceitful, underhanded manipulations are the reason he’s president now.   Step away from the KoolAid, and prepare to serve.  First though, I should warn you, you, too are going to have to assume the position sooner or later.  Once you have a firm grasp on your ankles, maybe you’ll begin to really see The Light.

“Cross posted at my place, Cinie’s World.  For more background information on my take on the meltdown and how we got here, see my earlier posts, Inside the Wall Street Whisper Campaign, and What “Is” Is.

Jeebus Was a DFH Moonbat Librul

I was raised in one of those fundie churches.  I’m not gonna say which one, but we thought Baptists were gonna burn in Hell for having too much fun.

I stayed in that church from Pre-K to high school.  I left the church shortly after the preacher’s daughter took me out back and showed me the holy ghost and since then I’ve only been back for an occasional wedding.  But what I learned while I was there is a lot of the reason I’m a liberal.

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