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Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Sabotaged by Republicans

Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Sabotaged by Republicans

Senate Republicans don’t care about people. They only care about big business, corporate donors, and their extremely wealthy friends. We knew that when a Republican controlled senate passed President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December 2017. It gave huge tax cuts to corporations and provided a big tax loophole for pass-through income. The bill was advertised as a move that would lower taxes for workers and help businesses expand by providing them with more cash. Most workers saw very small decreases in their taxes and some actually saw their taxes go up a little, but businesses were left with a lot more cash in pocket and they used it to buy back their own stock to line the pockets of their already obscenely rich corporate executives. They did not increase investment any more than they would have otherwise and they did not provide any substantial increases in wages or benefits for workers. Some cities and states saw increases in wages because they mandated higher minimum wages themselves. Republicans in congress refused to increase the minimum wage like they always do.

Trump’s tax-cut was an expensive failure.

So they were fine with their 1.5 Trillion Dollar tax cut for the rich, but they aren’t so fine with a new and much needed coronavirus stimulus bill that will cost somewhere between one to two trillion dollars if most of that money is funneled to the people who really need it – the unemployed workers.

The Democrats focused their efforts on people first, not profits first. They would direct the money to the millions of people in the service industry (restaurants, bars, hotels, ride-share drivers, salon workers, dental hygienists, etc.) who are all out of work. This is a huge sector of our economy. Workers need cash to buy food, pay rent and mortgages, and obtain healthcare – all urgent stuff. The stimulus bill should provide that urgent aid first. A one-time check in the $500 to $1,200 won’t provide the long-term aid they are going to need.

The spending should cover the cost of extending the unemployment insurance for at least a year or two. It should probably force large employers to provide sick pay for as long as is necessary for their workers to recover from COVID-19. The bill should prevent people from losing their jobs because of government-mandated work stoppages. It should make sure that everyone afflicted with the disease gets the healthcare they need regardless of whether or not they have insurance. To put it simply, the stimulus bill can’t be about “creating jobs” right now. It should be all about alleviating hardship and suffering caused by the outbreak, because it can’t help put people back to work until the pandemic is gone, and it looks like that isn’t going to happen for months.

The Republicans’ bill includes $5B for a corporate slush fund. It’s weak on worker retention and has loopholes. It’s treasury lending section is vague. It doesn’t provide provisions to protect people from evictions and foreclosures. It provides zero money for state and local governments. Is that because the states hardest hit are blue states? No additional spending on SNAP when the program will obviously be under extreme pressure. No direct payments for people who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019. It offers no help for the uninsured and no help for people with student loans.

What this all adds up to is, as James Martin wrote in The New York Times today, a Moral Evil. That’s suffering caused by the actions of individuals or, in this case, the inaction of individuals. And even worse; the deliberate redirection of resources that should be used to alleviate suffering of the most vulnerable people to the least vulnerable, most wealthy people in our country. That’s right. Who do you think will be the recipients of a slush fund?

Maybe enough Republicans in the Senate will read The Bible tonight and decide to do what Jesus would do (from the James Martin column):

Needless to say, when caring for someone with coronavirus, one should take the necessary precautions in order not to pass on the infection. But for Jesus, the sick or dying person was not the “other,” not one to be blamed, but our brother and sister. When Jesus saw a person in need, the Gospels tell us that his heart was “moved with pity.” He is a model for how we are to care during this crisis: with hearts moved by pity.

I’m not betting on it.

Inequality, Redistribution, and the Problem with Capitalism by Blankfein, Binswanger, and Pope Francis

Inequality, Redistribution, and the Problem with Capitalism by Blankfein, Binswanger, and Pope Francis

About inequality:

[Goldman Sachs chief executive officer Lloyd] Blankfein also said that the financial crisis led to a “bit of a wake-up call” about income inequality. He said that was a good thing. “This country does a great job of creating wealth, but not a great of distributing it,” said Blankfein. “ But I don’t want to do something that stops our ability to build wealth.”

Here’s how Harry Binswanger thinks we should go about redistributing our nation’s wealth:

For their enormous contributions to our standard of living, the high-earners should be thanked and publicly honored. We are in their debt.

Here’s a modest proposal. Anyone who earns a million dollars or more should be exempt from all income taxes. Yes, it’s too little. And the real issue is not financial, but moral. So to augment the tax-exemption, in an annual public ceremony, the year’s top earner should be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

While I read the Binswanger column, “Give Back? Yes, It’s Time For The 99% To Give Back To The 1%“, I thought that for sure he must be joking, especially when I got to “a modest proposal“, but I never got to a part where tongue was inserted in cheek. I reviewed his other stuff and Googled for more information and, as far as I can tell, he really is a selfish, prickish follower of Ayn Rand who actually believes what he writes.

Pope Francis had something to say about capitalisms failures in an exclusive interview for the La Stampa in which he responds to attacks on his criticism of “economies of exclusion” in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium:

Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?

His response in the interview to critics like Rush Limbaugh who called him a Marxist:

Andrea Tornielli (Vatican Insider): The most striking part of the Exhortation was where it refers to an economy that “kills”…

Pope Francis: There is nothing in the Exhortation that cannot be found in the social Doctrine of the Church. I wasn’t speaking from a technical point of view, what I was trying to do was to give a picture of what is going on. The only specific quote I used was the one regarding the “trickle-down theories” which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and social inclusiveness in the world. The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor. This was the only reference to a specific theory. I was not, I repeat, speaking from a technical point of view but according to the Church’s social doctrine. This does not mean being a Marxist.

I came across that aphoristic quote while reading “This Fuckin’ Pope” at The Rude Pundit today. His post has much more to say about the importance of not only that papal quote but many others about politics and society. It’s a good read, so go there now.

So Blankfein seems to have some Catholic guilt in him, Binswanger has no guilt and no shame, and Pope Francis believes it’s best for people to direct an abundance of food and medicine to the people who don’t have it but need it very badly. You know, like Jesus did.

Tea Party Teabaggers for Jesus

Tea Party Teabaggers for Jesus

via bartcop:

tb-4-jesus

So Jesus may still love this representative of the far-right wing of the Republican party, because I’ve heard:

Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Yes, but what else does the Bible tell you that Jesus said?

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

Okay, so she got one thing right.

Anyway, I’ve got to wonder if Jesus would, 1) join this woman in her ignorant teabagging campaign, 2) kneecap her, or 3) try and convince her to abandon her party of greed and hate by quoting himself?

Nick was right; Jesus did not return. Now what?

Nick was right; Jesus did not return. Now what?

Well for most of us, life goes on just as it did before.

Followers of the false prophet Harold Camping are, as the BBC reports, “perplexed.”

Followers of an evangelical broadcaster who declared that Saturday would be Judgement Day are trying to make sense of the failed prediction.

Some believers expressed bewilderment or said it was a test from God of their faith, after the day passed without event.

Robert Fitzpatrick, a retired transportation agency worker in New York, said he had spent more than $140,000 (£86,000) of his savings on advertisements in the run-up to 21 May to publicise the prediction.

After 1800 passed and nothing had happened, he said: “I do not understand why… I do not understand why nothing has happened.”

“I can’t tell you what I feel right now. Obviously, I haven’t understood it correctly because we’re still here.”

The Washington Post reported that suicide prevention hotlines were set up in case believers fell into depression after the apocalypse failed to happen.

A group from the Calvary Bible Church in Milpitas, California, organised a Sunday morning service to comfort believers in Mr Camping’s preaching, the New York Times reported.

“We are here because we care about these people,” the newspaper quoted James Bynum, a church deacon, as saying. “It’s easy to mock them. But you can go kick puppies, too. But why?”

Open note to Robert Fitzpatrick, the retired transportation agency worker in New York who spent $140,000 of his savings to promote Camping’s prediction:  Uh… I am trying to think of a nice way to say this… but I can’t.  You are a dumbshit.  “I don’t understand why nothing has happened.”  Really?  You don’t understand why an 89-year-old California Christian radio broadcaster’s interpretations of The Bible and his crazy math turned out to be wrong?  Let me help you out:  He’s nuts! And so are you for believing him.

Family Radio and the billboard companies thank you for your generous contribution, but there’s really no hope for you now.  If you have any money left, my advice is to spend it on a good bottle of whisky and some Nick Cave albums.

If you don’t believe Jesus returns on May 21st, then I have a song for you

If you don’t believe Jesus returns on May 21st, then I have a song for you

Nick Cave thought about the second coming of Jesus…

nick-cave

I’ve searched the holy books

I tried to unravel the mystery of Jesus Christ, the saviour

I’ve read the poets and the analysts

Searched through the books on human behaviour

I travelled this world around

For an answer that refused to be found

… and then he wrote a song about the return of Jesus:

Time Jesum Transeuntum Et Non Riverentum

We were called to the forest and we went down

A wind blew warm and eloquent

We were searching for the secrets of the universe

And we rounded up demons

And forced them to tell us what it all meant

We tied them to trees

And broke them down one by one

On a scrap of paper they wrote these words

And as we read them the sun broke through the trees

‘Dread the passage of Jesus for He will not return’

Then we headed back to our world and left the forest behind

Our hearts singing with all the knowledge of love

But somewhere, somehow we lost the message along the way

And when we got home we bought ourselves a house

And we bought a car that we did not use

And we bought a cage and two singing birds

And at night we’d sit

And listen to the canaries’ song

For we’d both run right out of words

Now the stars they are all angled wrong

And the sun and the moon refuse to burn

But I remember a message in a demon’s hand

Dread the passage of Jesus for He does not return

(listen to the recording by Nick Cave and The Dirty Three on YouTube)

Come 11;59 p.m. Hawaii time, we’ll see who was right:  Harold Camping or Nick Cave.

I’m betting on Nick.

The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is Scheduled for May 21, 2011

The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is Scheduled for May 21, 2011

Harold Camping says he’s read the Bible, done his math, and knows for sure that Jesus Christ is returning to Earth on Saturday, May 21, 2011.

Harold-Camping-2

He’s done his math before, and he was wrong.  I’ll let Bob Thiel explain:

The world will end May 21, 2011. This is not the first time Camping has made a bold prediction about Judgment Day.

On Sept. 6, 1994, dozens of Camping’s believers gathered inside Alameda’s Veterans Memorial Building to await the return of Christ, an event Camping had promised for two years. Followers dressed children in their Sunday best and held Bibles open-faced toward heaven.

But the world did not end. Camping allowed that he may have made a mathematical error.  (Berton J. Biblical scholar’s date for rapture: May 21, 2011.  January 1, 2010.

Of course, if he actually would have relied on the Bible, and not his own imaginations, Harold Camping would not have made the prediction about 1994 or 2011.  And while he admits to perhaps making one mathematical error, he has made many more.

… notice what else the article from the San Francisco Chronicle stated about Harold Camping’s logic for his “rapture” date:

Meaning in numbers…

The number 5, Camping concluded, equals “atonement.” Ten is “completeness.” Seventeen means “heaven.” Camping patiently explained how he reached his conclusion for May 21, 2011.

“Christ hung on the cross April 1, 33 A.D.,” he began. “Now go to April 1 of 2011 A.D., and that’s 1,978 years.”

Camping then multiplied 1,978 by 365.2422 days – the number of days in each solar year, not to be confused with a calendar year.

Next, Camping noted that April 1 to May 21 encompasses 51 days. Add 51 to the sum of previous multiplication total, and it equals 722,500.

Camping realized that (5 x 10 x 17) x (5 x 10 x 17) = 722,500…

Now the above is utter nonsense.  That rapture date is based upon many faulty biblical assumptions and is also historically inaccurate. Christians need to realize that there is nothing in the Bible about the idea that the timing of Jesus’ return has to do with a numerical calculation based upon Atonement x Completeness x Heaven, squared.

That’s about all I can take.  You can read the rest if you want to.  You can also go watch this video if you want to learn more about how and when you are either going to Heaven or Hell.

I do have a few questions for you though.  What will you be wearing at your end-of-the world party tomorrow night?  Will you be wearing nothing but your birthday suit and present yourself to the Lord as He/his Father/the Holy Spirit created you, or will go formal?  If you live in Seattle, you’re probably going casual.

What will you be drinking?  Jesus preferred wine, so that might be a good choice.  Maybe champagne if you are dressed up.  Whisky if you are feeling pretty down about your future prospects.  I’ll be drinking whisky.

What music will you be listening to?   “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” by R.E.M.?  “The End” by The Doors?  “Waiting for the End of the World” by Elvis Costello?  “Gloria” by Patti Smith?  Tell me!

If you want some more ideas you can read through the comments on NPR’s “Final Encore” post.

I know what I’ll be listening to, but that’s the subject of my next post.

Tucker Carlson Calls for the Execution of Michael Vick

Tucker Carlson Calls for the Execution of Michael Vick

That’s right… Tucker Carlson, that guy Jon Stewart eviscerated several years ago was back on television last night filling in for Sean Hannity.  And what did this self-proclaimed follower of the Lord Jesus have to say?  This:

“I’m a Christian.  I’ve made mistakes myself.  I believe fervently in second chances,” Carlson said.  “But Michael Vick killed dogs, and he did in a heartless and cruel way.  And I think, personally, he should’ve been executed for that.  He wasn’t, but the idea that the president of the United States would be getting behind someone who murdered dogs?  Kind of beyond the pale.”

Yes, Tucker Carlson has made mistakes – like just being on television playing a clown on Crossfire and making incredibly stupid statements.  Fox News gave him and second chance, and he, unlike Michael Vick, blew it.

Yes Tucker, what would Jesus do if he were in the room as a witness to the execution of Michael Vick?  Would he just stand there and let it happen or would he call out the people who supported the execution and expose them as hypocrites and fools?  (And by the way, are there any stories in The Bible about people being put to death for killing animals?  Even in the Old Testament?  I can’t recall any.)

You can watch the video here.  You’ll see that none of the three people on his panel of guests agreed with him, but then who would?  Execution for cruelty to dogs?  Really?  And what would the penalty be for beating one’s wife, girlfriend or children?  Drunk driving?  Rape?  Tucker Carlson would probably like to see all the perpetrators of such crimes executed.

Or maybe he’s just talking out of his ass like he used to do because President Obama went out of his way to acknowlege the Philadelphia Eagles for giving Michael Vick a second chance in life.  Carlson just couldn’t let that go, because whatever Obama does or says has to be wrong, and Carlson is paid to attack  him.

Jon Stewart will be back on the air next week, and he must be salivating over this tasty video clip that the Tucker Carlson left for him and his crew.

Hookers for Jesus – Daily Show Moment of Zen

Hookers for Jesus – Daily Show Moment of Zen

This one made me laugh.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Moment of Zen – Hookers for Jesus
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

That’s Annie Lobert, former Las Vegas prostitute, now proselytizer for Jesus.  Meredith Viera did the interview for The Today Show.  You can watch it here.

This is from the Hookers for Jesus website:

Buckle up, baby!

Hookers for Jesus is an international organization that addresses the realities of human sex trafficking, sexual violence, and exploitation linked to pornography and the sex industry. We are committed to reaching out to children/teens/women that need assistance/escape from sex slavery. Our urban ministry outreach, community awareness, and transitional housing program, The Destiny House, is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Kicking Ass for Jesus

Kicking Ass for Jesus

via the Lapham’s Quarterly Roundtable blog post, “Turn the Other Cheek.”

The gentlemen boxers of the Young Men’s Christian Association would have been pleased to make the acquaintance of this new incarnation of faith-based fight clubs: a church cum mixed martial arts facility in Nashville called Xtreme Ministries, profiled in this week’s New York Times, which practices a combination of bare-knuckle fighting, wrestling, and kick-boxing and whose motto is “Where Feet, Fist and Faith Collide.”

Leonard Lane, left, fighting for Xtreme Ministries, a church that doubles as a martial arts academy. photo by Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

The Roundtable post connects this new rougher and tougher image of Jesus and his disciples to the Muscular Christianity movement that arrived in the U.S. around the turn of the 20th Century.  They thought that Christian leaders had pretty much morphed the image of Jesus into a woman during the previous century, and they wanted to turn him into a man again.

One of the movement’s followers was Dr. R. warren Conant who wrote a book titled The Virility of Christ in which he describes his image of Jesus:

When Christ met a man, that man however dull knew instinctively that he stood in the presence of no ordinary person. There were the commanding pose and carriage, the piercing eye, the thoughtful brow; every movement, look and gesture speaking of reserve power, physical, mental, and moral. To an ordinary man the first impression would be overawing, to an extraordinary man a challenge, were it not for the kindly smile which immediately softened the expression; the strong, resonant voice vibrating with sympathy and good-fellowship; the words so fitly chosen for each one’s case.

That Christ’s voice was resonant and of great carrying power was a necessary consequence of his practice of preaching in the open air to audiences of five thousand and upward. And that proves another fact in regard to Christ’s physical appearance —big lung capacity and therefore a well developed torso.

There’s a website dedicated to this new incarnation of Muscular Christians called Anointed Fighter, and according to their “About Us” page:

Anointed Fighter (AF) recognizes that Mixed Martial Arts has become a cultural phenomenon as the fastest growing spectator sport in the world. AF desires to reach the MMA world and its culture with the message of salvation by providing hope, encouragement and truth in a relevant way while breaking down misconceptions of what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

AF envisions a time when every MMA enthusiast around the world will be impacted by its ministry through licensed merchandise, print publications, multimedia productions and short-term outreach events that will lead to long-term, self-sustaining discipleship programs.

And in the Anointed Fighter Handbook, you will find:

We are God’s anointed and together we will enjoy eternal life. Until then, we must step inside the cage of life and battle the enemy. Our enemy is a cunning creature. He knows how to punch and kick us off the path of righteousness. He attempts to choke out the light of the Lord in our lives.  We can tap out or we can fight him.

Jesus never tapped out man, and you can wear that message proudly if you buy this t-shirt:

Jesus Didn't Tap

So you see, contrary to that soft-focus image of a meek philosopher Jesus you probably have in your head…

JesusPortrait sm

…Jesus was not a wimp.  Jesus was a big, strong, loud, barrel-chested man…

Jesus in the ring sm

…and, if need be, he could kick your ass.

Repent or else!

Jesus Disciples with Rifles

Jesus Disciples with Rifles

One might think that a Christian church would be a relatively safe place to visit – that it wouldn’t be full of people carrying guns.  That’s probably true for most churches, but not this oneThe New York Times reports:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Ken Pagano, the pastor of the New Bethel Church here, is passionate about gun rights. He shoots regularly at the local firing range, and his sermon two weeks ago was on “God, Guns, Gospel and Geometry.”  And on Saturday night, he is inviting his congregation of 150 and others to wear or carry their firearms into the sanctuary to “celebrate our rights as Americans!” as a promotional flier for the “open carry celebration” puts it.

“God and guns were part of the foundation of this country,” Mr. Pagano, 49, said Wednesday in the small brick Assembly of God church, where a large wooden cross hung over the altar and two American flags jutted from side walls. “I don’t see any contradiction in this. Not every Christian denomination is pacifist.”

The bring-your-gun-to-church day, which will include a $1 raffle of a handgun, firearms safety lessons and a picnic, is another sign that the gun culture in the United States is thriving despite, or perhaps because of, President Obama’s election in November.

Mr. Pagano said the church’s insurance company, which he would not identify, had canceled the church’s policy for the day on Saturday and told him that it would cancel the policy for good at the end of the year. If he cannot find insurance for Saturday, people will not be allowed in openly carrying their guns.

…John Phillips, pastor of the Central Church of Christ in Little Rock.  In 1986, Mr. Phillips was preaching in a different church there when a gunman shot him and a parishioner. Both survived, but Mr. Phillips, 51, still has a bullet lodged in his spine.

In a telephone interview, he said he found the idea of “packing in the pew” abhorrent.

“There is a movement afoot across the nation, with the gun lobby pushing the envelope, trying to allow concealed weapons to be carried in places where they used to be prohibited — churches, schools, bars,” Mr. Phillips said.

“I don’t understand how any minister who is familiar with the teachings of the Bible can do this,” he added. “Jesus didn’t say, ‘Go ahead, make my day.’”

Well that’s his opinion, but the congregation of the New Bethel Church knows:


Seriously though, this story reads like an open invitation to a gun nut with a death wish.  I hope it doesn’t turn out that way but, if it does, no amount of insurance will be enough to cover the damage.