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Why hasn’t anyone asked…

… why uber rich campaign donors don’t pay their taxes with that campaign money?

Take Sheldon Adelson, please.

Sheldon has pledged $100,000,000 to help Romney’s campaign. Sheldon is a pro-Israel supporter who thinks that Israel has fallen apart since 2008 because of something the Obama administration has done.

Not true. Israel is falling apart because the more powerful Israeli political parties have been making crazy deals with the super ultra orthodox Jews in order to form a ruling coalition. These religious Jews on steroids don’t like women to sing in public and refuse to put their time in with the Israeli Defense Force. They’ve become the Israeli version of the American quiverful movement. Yeah, wrap your head around that concept. That would be like Obama and Romney making nice to Michelle Duggar and her friends. I’m sorry, the Duggars don’t have friendships, they have fellowships. Different concept altogether. You stick with your friends through thick and thin, but you can dump your fellows whenever their womenfolk raise their hemlines to the bottom of their kneecaps or cut their hair. I can assure you that the Duggars would drop their fellows in the blink of an eye if any of them didn’t adhere to their strict lifestyle choices.

What could possibly go wrong? Well, in the US, you might see the political parties not being quite so enthusiastic about supporting women’s rights to make her own reproductive decisions or even get a decent job in the little Depression. Women might be encouraged to get married or stay home instead of work or poverty might be blamed on women refusing to marry. Have we seen anything like that in the NYTimes?

In America, the effect is more diffuse. In Israel, it’s a lot more obvious because it’s a much smaller country. In Israel, your minister of health can refuse to hand an award to the woman who won it because the Jewish fundies might have a fit. Women might be discouraged from speaking in public. Or singing. You could have men in the IDF refusing to serve with women. You could have men spitting on little girls for not dressing modestly. The Jewish fundies also reproduce like rabbits. And because their numbers are increasing disproportionately in a country that can’t dilute their political strength, the other parties are having an increasingly difficult time working with them.

In THIS country, it is possible to dilute the fundie strength but we won’t for some reason. Yes, we still cling to the concept that the Duggaresque evangelical patriarchalists are admirable for their piety and respected because they hide their anti-everyoneelseism behind their worship of a Judeo-Christian diety (who biblical scholars know is an amalgamation of mesopotamian and canaanite deities. And let’s not even get started on Noah’s flood). We’re all supposed to feel guilty and dirty because we can’t live up to their vision of heavenly perfection and rely entirely on our own, while the Duggars themselves live in a socialist microcosm of their own making. And yet, they get a disproportionate amount of attention. You’d think the whole mid section of the country is going quiverful even as many quiverful women are getting the hell out of Dodge. It’s just not true that Americans are craving 12-20 children and summers without shorts or bathing suits. If anything, Americans, especially young Americans are turning away from fundamentalism and religion. How ya’ going to keep’em down on the farm after they’ve seen the Internet?

The Duggars seem to represent a certain mindset of smug, condescending selfishness that that is enviable. There is no shame in Duggaresque selfishness because they are covered by god. They sure seem self-sufficient. I’m sure the Discovery Channel pays them nothing {{eyes rolling}}. And because they are so insular with their friends, er, fellows, and community, it looks like they are in a different world even if they live in America. In their world, they don’t drive down roads that are paid by Arkansans or Americans. Those are Duggar roads. And they don’t get medical care or goods and services from people who were educated in public schools. Those people just pop up out of nowhere and do things for the Duggars when they’re needed. They’re like the people who inhabit the Necessary Room at Hogwarts. There when they’re needed, gone when they’re not. They don’t really exist with needs of their own. So the Duggars don’t have to worry about the effect of their anti-tax politics are on those non-existent people.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah, Sheldon Adelson. So, Sheldon thinks that Mitt is going to do a better job of protecting and defending and carrying out Israeli foreign policy here in the US than Obama. I’ve always wondered about politicians who represent Israel in government. I mean, is that legal? Don’t they take an oath to defend the US and its constitution and antiquated notions like that? And besides, don’t we already do enough for Israel? We’re already kinda on the hook for defending it against its enemies. We’d turn any country that tried to nuke Israel into a glass parking lot. Isn’t that understood and hasn’t it been since people Obama and my age were little kids?

So, what more does Sheldon want? Says Sheldon:

Adelson, like other members of his family, had been a Democrat. But, as his wealth grew, he began to favor tax-averse Republican economic policies. He argued to an associate recently, “Why is it fair that I should be paying a higher percentage of taxes than anyone else?” Three years ago, at an event in Washington, D.C., celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Adelson, who was being honored that evening, told the audience about the time he had spent with William Bush, the brother of George H. W. Bush, during the 1988 election. “He explained to me what Republicanism was all about . . . so I got to learn about it and I switched immediately!” Adelson said. But it was only after he went to war against the union that he became so partisan. He began donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Republican National State Election Committee.

Oo! Oo! Sheldon I have the answer to your question about why taxes should be coming out of your hide. It’s because that’s where the money is! You’re sitting on it. You could pay people more but it seems like you don’t like doing that and you really don’t like unions. You as an individual can’t spend all the billions of dollars you have on yourself. It’s just not possible. And you didn’t earn all that cash. You just happen to be the one collecting it.

So it doesn’t really have anything to do with Israel. But make no mistake, Sheldon is a lot like the American quiverful evangelicals. He also doesn’t recognize the people around him as being necessary. They just come and go, they serve him things and whisk those things away. They’re silent and efficient.

When Sheldon makes a donation to a Republican’s campaign, it never occurs to him that that $100,000,000 might be better spent making sure the silent and efficient ones can get to work and feed their families so they can continue to wait on him.

$100,000,000 could buy a lot of textbooks, math teachers and hot school lunches, vaccinations, tooth fillings and asthma medications, pothole patches, bridge repairs and policemen. But Sheldon doesn’t want to share with people who are not his fellows. He can’t control them.

He’d rather give that money to politicians.

**************************

Sarah Silverman has an offer Sheldon can’t refuse:

Um, don’t give your money to Obama either, Sheldon. Just pay your f^&*ing taxes. That’s all we ask.

Tuesday: One more and I’ll stop (for awhile)

Blame Luther for breaking up the band

So, the “religious liberty” meme is going to be the one to beat this year.  We’re all a bunch of heathens and we need religion.  That’s what the argument’s going to be.  If only we lead more virtuous lives with the guidance of some religion, we’d all be more prosperous, more fulfilled human beings and we wouldn’t need so much government assistance.  The problem with this country is that we’ve gone too far away from God and now is the time to put him back in our lives, put him front and center, so that we can weather the economic austerity that is coming our way.  If we play by the rules and love God with all our hearts, we will be blessed.  If we don’t, we get what’s coming to us.

And the reason religious liberty has to be so gosh darned important is that without it, it’s harder to keep everyone in line, feeling guilt and shame about their personal circumstances.  If there’s no guilt or shame, people won’t blame themselves for all of the rotten things that have happened to them.  No, they might start figuring out that they’ve been had, suckered in by really ruthless financial industry psychopaths who believe that what’s theirs is theirs and what’s yours is theirs.  So, to make sure we are not watching what they do, the religious liberty thing is going to get a lot of attention.

The problem is that that’s only going to work for some people.  The rest of us know that the bible is not an accurate historical document and it’s unlikely to be divinely inspired if there are multiple divinities that inspired it.  And for those of us in the life sciences, evolution is non-negotiable.  I couldn’t do my work without knowing all about natural selection.  The fact that I can do an evolutionary trace on the proteins I work with is pretty strong evidence that evolution is true.  We’ve seen the results of prayer.  Um, it doesn’t really work all that well.  And on and on and on.

The thing is, I don’t have any problem with the idea that YOU can believe all of the things about religion that you choose to believe.  If you want to think that a bunch of celibate old guys in red beanies in Rome, who kept the organization they were in when they changed religions in the fourth century, have all of the answers to guide your life, knock yourself out.  If you want to believe that Jesus is coming to rescue you from all of the rottenness of the world and the pedophiles and kidnappings and rapes of pretty blonde women and the murder of innocent, sweet little babies and that those of us who don’t believe absolutely everything you say are going to suffer from a really horrific and painful death while you hover above it all and watch us die in torment, go ahead.  Everybody in the world has their own particular and personal belief system that may be a slightly different variation of their neighbor’s, or it may be radically different.  And that’s OK.  Believe whatever you want.

But if you’re going to bring that belief system into the public square and insist that we all live by the rules created in 1300 BCE in spite of all of the progress that we have made in the past 3000 years, you’d better have a really good reason for it and should be able to  demonstrate definitively why imitating baby farmer Michelle Duggar and her ultra conservative family is better than any other alternative.  In fact, I have watched enough of the Duggars to know that their philosophy has a lot more of the liberal tradition than they would care to admit.  They have friends and neighbors that have waaaaay too many children stuffed into tiny little houses.  The Duggars don’t lecture these people and tell them to keep an aspirin between their knees.  No, they help them build a new house.  They donate their time and money and materials.  They feed poor people at soup kitchens.  They never ask anything in return.

But Jim Bob Duggar is a Republican and the Duggars have chosen to endorse Rick Santorum.  The Duggars send mixed messages.  Anti tax Republicans reject EVERYTHING the Duggars say they are about.  They want to withhold money, assistance and help from anyone they think is undeserving.  I’m sorry but I’m not sure that the families that the Duggars help are all that much different from any other family they don’t know personally that has a lot children and insufficient space and resources.

The difference seems to be religion.  The Duggars’ friends and the poor they serve are Christians.  And I just have to wonder, is it really moral to be so choosey?  Should it matter what religion a person is if they need help, food, housing or protection from greedy conmen in business and the banks?  Isn’t that what the parable of the Good Samaritan is all about?  (BTW, the parables and beatitudes of Jesus and the details of Occupy Jerusalem Temple are about the only things in the New Testament worth rescuing)

Are we to believe that the Duggars, a good, kind hearted family, would not be a good kind hearted family without their religion?  And if their religion demands good kind heartedness, aren’t they obligated to extend that to others outside of their religion?  And if they ask nothing in return from their neighbors who are Christians, should they expect something in return for all of their help from non-Christians?  Isn’t it possible that good, kind heartedness benefits everyone and makes the world a better place regardless if God is intervening?  Wouldn’t God want you to be nice to everyone, even if he isn’t watching? And wouldn’t you reach more people if you could pool your resources and figure out a more systematic way of helping everyone?  And wouldn’t that come back to you in the form of less crime, more healthy, happy people and more prosperity?  The Duggars are almost there.  They just need to include the whole world in their benevolence and learn to judge the rest of the world with as much generosity and compassion as they do their Christian friends.

Anyway, I got off topic again. Where was I?

Oh, yeah, before you start imposing your religious liberty on others, at least admit that you are also obligated to have other people’s religious liberty imposed on you in return.  But if that is not acceptable, let’s narrow our choices.  Before we make new rules to live by, let’s all agree on which God we’re going to pay attention to.  I don’t mean some Mesopotamian gods that got edited to a single entity and a creation story based on some ancient Babylonian mythology.  Let’s get real.  Let’s look at all of the religions and investigate all claims equally.  There has to be a one true religion among all of the religions in the world.  That’s the one we should follow.  So, I propose that we get appoint a committee of believers and non-believers.  After all, Santorum says that even non-believers have a part to play in shaping government in the public square just like the faithful.  So, all interested parties, believers and non-believers, should get together and decide which religion has the greatest credibility, the most verifiable miracles, the best predictive values and the most moral code.  The scientists should be particularly helpful here.  When we can all come to an agreement on which religion that is, that’s the religion we should pick to influence our government.  After all, it wouldn’t be fair to deprive the other religious adherents of the one true God.  But if the Catholics lose, they’re going to have to sit on their cassocks and shut up.  Same goes with the Evangelical Christians.  For all we know, we might all end up as Sufis or Scientologists.  But if it turns out that they have the one true religion, it would be wrong to not follow them.

Liberty doesn’t mean the freedom to just worship any god willy-nilly.  That’s an affront to the very concept of an supernatural authority figure.  He doesn’t want religious liberty, with everyone picking their own way to worship him.  He wants there to be rules about what you can and can not do religiously.  He wants you to pay attention to what he says and obey without question.  So, please, let’s not have anymore Catholic politicians acting like adolescents without any parental supervision, making their own decisions about what is “free”.  Adolescents have no sense of their own mortality and mortality is a very serious business, requiring sober reflection, not liberty.  Rick Santorum and the other religious Ricks owe it to themselves and their mortal souls, as well as ours, to stand for one religion and one religion only.  Let’s not shrink from the task before us and let us resolve to find out what that religion is.

Can I get an Amen?

In the meantime, Dr. Laurence Krauss gives an authoritative lecture on Science and Religion and suggest that you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice one for the other.  Like, who died and made him god?