Who Does God Root For?

As long as I’m on the subject of Divine intervention in current events, is it true that God is a sports fan? From watching collegiate and professional sports these days, you’d surmise that players believe God is dictating all of the outcomes like some sort of bribe-wielding bookie.

Many of the athletes would have you believe that their success is solely the result of their faith. What’s puzzling is that there appear to be athletes of great faith on every team – at least based on the number of players who point skyward following a touchdown or big play. (And, lately, it seems like that’s the required action after every play.)

God chooses one team to win and the other to lose? Seriously? Is it based on how many players on each team profess their faith? Is it based on the faith of the teams’ management? The faithfulness of the teams’ fans? It’s difficult to tell.

Until God reveals His team loyalties, I guess we’ll have to assume that it doesn’t matter how hard a team prays. Just how hard it plays.

Politics of God.

Is God a Democrat? Or a Teapublican? Teapublicans like Michelle Bachmann would have you believe the latter. After all, she claims that God told her to run for president. But He apparently also told Rick Perry to run. And He’s currently negotiating with Sarah Palin. What kind of confusing message is that?

If He truly wanted a Teapublican to win the White House, wouldn’t He just annoint one of them?

And why would God send an earthquake and hurricane as a message for the Beltway to change as Bachmann suggests? One would think if God really wanted change, He’d just pick out a modern day Moses and carve some new stone tablets rather than send messages like Irene that can so easily be misinterpreted.

Even if you accept that the earthquake and Irene were God’s messages to Washington, D.C., why did God-fearing people in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachussets and Vermont have to suffer?

Of course, Bachmann isn’t the first to push the idea of Divine intervention in politics. The space-alien-like Pat Robertson told his thought-challenged followers that Hurricane Katrina was sent by God in retribution for the Godlessness of New Orleans. More specifically, he said that God felt there were too many gays in the city.

So where does God really stand politically? Does He stand with corporate profits, big money lobbyists and the military-industrial complex? Or does He stand with working people, the poor and the disenfranchised? And if He’s pro-American as so many Christian right-wingers would have us believe, why does He encourage his Teapublican followers to ship jobs overseas to dictatorships populated by non-Christians?

It’s all very confusing.

An Exposed Dick

With Richard “The Dick” Cheney set to release his tell-all book about his term as dictator-in-waiting and puppet master of the George W. Bush presidency, the early reviews are all too predictable.  Apparently Cheney praises all those who agreed with him as smart, tough and patriotic.  At the same time, he portrays those who disagreed with him as stupid, naive and weak.

Reportedly, those who fit into the latter category are former Secretaries of State, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. 

Of course, he also continues to support his so-called “enhanced” interrogation methods, otherwise known as torture.  The methods he ordered to be implemented on captives in our “War on Terror” included sleep deprivation, ear-splitting noise, humiliation and, of course, waterboarding.  The latter technique is officially banned as torture by the Geneva Conventions of which the US is a signator.  Indeed, in the past, the US executed enemies who were convicted of using waterboarding on US troops.

Cheney is not only unapologetic for his role as Torturer-In-Chief, he has said he would do it all over again in the same circumstances.  If he has actually put those statements in writing, I couldn’t be happier!  Those statements would be a confession of war crimes, admissable in court.  Not a court presided over by his buddies, Justices Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Scalia and Kennedy.  But the International Criminal Court which has the authority to prosecute war crimes.

Once his book is published, Cheney may never be able to travel outside the US again without fear of arrest and prosecution.  Of course, that threat is not likely to stop someone as arrogant as Cheney.  So let’s hope he decides to tour Europe.  If you believe in the rule of law, Cheney’s arrest and subsequent trial could be of real benefit to world peace.

Yee Haw! Another Texass Evangelical For President.

In 2000, an evangelical governor from Texas was awarded the office of President of the United States. He ran as a compassionate conservative promising to cut federal spending and to get the US out of the business of “nation-building.”

Instead, he cut taxes, eliminated financial and environmental regulations, ignored direct warnings of threats by al-Qeada to use hijacked airliners to attack the US, and started two wars costing as much as $3 trillion. His policies failed to create a single private-sector job in the US and led to the worst economic collapse since 1929. In the process, he doubled our national debt.

Now we have Rick Perry following in his footsteps. As Lieutenant Governor, he replaced Bush as Governor of Texas. Like Bush, he talks about his faith all the while promoting an agenda that favors the rich and attacks the poor. And like Bush, he brags about his “accomplishments” as governor. Foremost in his braggadocio is the so-called “Texas Miracle.” The miracle, as the story goes, is that Perry created 80 percent of the jobs in America over the past three years.


If you examine his claim, you find that it’s a complete and utter fraud just like the cowboy boots he wears. Certainly, Texas did create more jobs in the last year than any other state. But all of them were in the public sector;  i.e. they were government jobs, many of which resulted from Perry extending his hand to Washington in order to receive a disproportionate number of the stimulus funds. Indeed, Texas actually lost jobs in the private sector over the past three years!

And, if you look further, you see rising unemployment in Texas in addition to overcrowded homeless shelters and public schools facing billions in budget cuts. And that’s not even the scary part.

More frightening about Perry (as well as Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin) are his way-out-of-this-solar-system religious beliefs. These were put on display just days prior to his announcement that he is running for president. On August 6, he spoke at The Response, billed as a day of prayer and fasting. In fact, it was a day of lunacy with some of the nation’s most radical evangelical “religious” figures. These are people who believe the US should be a Christian theocracy; who believe in the end times and the necessity to prepare the Earth for the rapture by cleansing the Seven Mountains (arts and entertainment, business, family, government, media, religion and education) from demonic influence. These are people who believe Oprah is the precursor of the AntiChrist; who believe that gays are controlled by demons; who believe that Islam is a demonic spirit.

Just the kind of people you want in the White House and a presidential administration.

Can’t you imagine a US run by a President Perry or a President Bachmann or a President Palin? The administration would begin with a hands-on healing of gays followed by the threat of bombing every non-Christian nation unless they converted. The FCC would command that all sex (violence is okey-dokey) be banned from TV. Public broadcasting would be forced to carry Christian-only programming. All schools would be openly Christian. Every business logo would have to incorporate the symbol of a fish. And all cathedrals, synagogues, temples and mosques would be converted to New Apostolic churches.

In other words, the US would become a Christian version of Iran.

What If FDR, Truman Or Eisenhower Faced This Congress?

Despite the fact that our economy was in freefall when President Obama entered office, people are fond of blaming him for our current misery.  Instead of supporting Obama’s attempts to right our sinking ship, Teapublicans have chosen to fight him every step of the way. 

No matter that the record number of Senate filibusters paralyzed our government.  No matter that the cries of “Socialist” have further divided our nation.  Teapublicans seem only to care about ensuring that Obama is a one-term president.

And just when it appeared that the economy was growing again, Teapublicans chose to turn the debt ceiling into a “crisis” resulting in a downgrade of US Treasury Securities and further despair.

All this got me wondering: What if today’s Teapublicans had been around following the Great Depression? Would they have been willing to fund Social Security? Would they have opened the US Treasury to build our infrastructure? Would our nation’s most iconic structures have ever been funded? Would there be a Hoover Dam? Would the Tennessee Valley Authority exist?

What if Teapublicans had been around following WWII? Would they have approved the post WWII-era top tax rate of 91 perecent? Would they have approved of the billions spent to expand our Universities? Would they have supported the GI Bill? Would they have approved of Eisenhower’s interstate highway system?

Looking at more recent history, would they have approved of raising the debt ceiling as Reagan was tripling the national debt? Would they have approved of his tax increases?

I think you know the answers. 

Now ask yourself this: What would have become of the US if today’s Teapublicans had been around during the founding of our nation? Would they even have been willing to spend their money to fund the Revolution?

It Is Now Clear That S&P’s Downgrade Was Political.

Now that the Fitch rating service has confirmed the AAA rating for US Treasury bonds, it raises questions about the real motives for the downgrade by S&P. Of the three rating agencies, both Moody’s and Fitch have maintained the AAA rating. Fitch even called the outlook for US Treasury bonds positive.

Why the different outlooks?

It is possible that it merely represents a difference of opinion. It’s also possible that S&P wanted to flex its political muscle. When you read the full analysis by S&P, two statements stand out:

1 – “The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy. Despite this year’s wide-ranging debate, in our view, the differences between political parties have proven to be extraordinarily difficult to bridge, and, as we see it, the resulting agreement fell well short of the comprehensive fiscal consolidation program that some proponents had envisaged until quite recently.”

2 – “Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act.”

Certainly, each party has rushed to blame the other for S&P’s downgrade. However, since only one party (The Democratic Party) was publicly willing to compromise, and since the other party (The Republican Party) chose to create a crisis in order to get its way, it’s abundantly clear which party is truly to blame for the US Treasury bonds being downgraded for the first time in history. It’s also clear that the Republican position of maintaining the Bush tax cuts is fiscally irresponsible.

If Other Species Can’t Survive On Our Planet, What Makes Humans Think We Can?

This October, our planet’s human population is set to exceed 7 billion. At the same time, thousands of species are facing extinction. In fact, scientists tell us that over half of the world’s living creatures may become extinct over the next century.

That’s shocking enough. But even more shocking is our ambivalence toward these facts.

What makes us think that we can continue to consume the Earth’s forests, destroy the oceans’ reefs, build coal-fired generating plants that belch poisons into the air, and generally trash our environment without consequences to our own survival? What makes us think that we can continue to rely on fossil fuels to power our extravagant lifestyles?

To some, the environmental crisis is simply too big to ponder.  Others would rather focus their outrage on celebrity antics or the latest sensational trial on TV. And millions of others actually welcome the end times because they’re convinced that an angel will swoop out of the sky and take them to heaven in a golden chariot as a reward for their righteousness.

If that’s your belief, I’d like to ask:  If God kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden for taking a bite out of an apple, what will He do to those who have trashed the entire planet?

It’s time to take climate change and our environment seriously.

A Question of Compromise.

When Democrats and Teapublicans named their members of the so-called Super Congress, the media immediately asked, “Will Senators Patty Murray, John Kerry and Max Baucus be willing to compromise with their Teapublican counterparts? What about Representatives James Clyburn, Xavier Becerra and Chris Van Hollen?”

Say what?

During the last three and a half years, Democrats have amply demonstrated a willingness to compromise.  During the negotiations for health reform, they caved on the most important component – the public option. Last Fall, they gave in to Teapublicans by extending the Bush-era tax cuts despite the growing deficit. And in the recent negotiations to raise the debt ceiling, Democrats gave up on increased revenue from closing tax loopholes and raising taxes on the wealthy. 

What compomises have Teapublicans been willing to make?

One can’t help but wonder why the media failed to ask if the Teapublican representatives on the Super Congress committee will be willing to compromise. After all, Mitch McConnell said he would not appoint anyone to the committee who would vote for increased tax revenue. Could it be that the so-called “mainstream, liberal-biased” media are now biased toward Teapublicans?

The Democrats can’t afford to negotiate away their principles again. If they do, Democratic support for the administration and Congress will likely collapse. Of course, that’s what Teapublicans are counting on.

The “I’ve Got Mine, You Don’t Deserve Yours” Crowd.

According to a recent MSNBC.com article by Brian Alexander, lower class people are more likely to have empathy and compassion while the rich are more likely to think of themselves.  

The article confirmed my own observations. 

As an advertising executive, I’ve often listened to wealthy and powerful clients talk about how their success is the result of their own hard work, determination and risk-taking. They rarely give credit to the many other factors that have played a role in their success. 

They tend to forget that their educations were subsidized by local, state and federal governments. They forget the scholarships and low interest government loans that helped them pay for college. They forget about the Small Business Administration loans that provided the seed money for their companies.  They forget about the Tax Increment Financing that resulted in a no-interest, no-property tax loan for their company headquarters.  They forget about the contributions of their employees and suppliers. And they tend to forget about the contributions of their family, teachers, coaches and mentors who helped shape their lives.

One of my former clients, who received more than $50 million/year in compensation, once demanded that his managers fire 10 percent of their workforce after a year of record profits and then hire new replacements.  His reasoning?  He wanted to make certain that his employees would not “rest on their laurels” so he could make even more money the next year.

Fortunately, he was an exception. But an uncomfortable number of people are similarly driven. And because they are so firm in their belief that they “made it on their own,” they are often unwilling to help others reach for success.

It is this mindset that is at the very heart of the Tea Party movement. Their anti-tax, anti-deficit, anti-government, anti-Obama rants are driven by a philosophy best expressed by a quote from their hero, Ayn Rand, “It is the morality of altruism that men have to reject.”

That philosophy clearly explains their opposition to social safety nets such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It explains their opposition to the extension of unemployment benefits and any government spending to stimulate our moribund economy.  It explains why are they so opposed to the very government institutions that made their success possible.

But according to the MSNBC.com article, “Rich people may not be selfish as much as willfully clueless.  Research at Duke and Harvard universities showed that regardless of political affiliation or income, Americans tended to think wealth distribution ought to be more equal. The problem? Rich people wrongly believed it already was.”

Downgraded Expectations

I’m not just referring to the lowered credit rating for US Treasury notes. If Teapublicans are allowed to continue the same political obstructionism they’ve displayed in the first 2-1/2 years of the Obama administration, we should all become accustomed to expecting less. Less jobs. Less retirement benefits. Less access to health care. Less government services. Less civility in public discourse. And less honesty.

Just consider: Despite being elected by an overwhelming majority of the voting public, President Obama has, thus far, been stonewalled by Teapublicans who, the day after the election, stated that their main goal is to make Obama a one-term president. Many on the right immediately called for Obama to fail despite the obvious implication that that would mean the US would also fail.

No previous president has been subjected to such organized obstruction and nonsense. Teapublicans have questioned his legitimacy by saying he was born in Kenya. They have called him a socialist, a communist, a facist and a Nazi. And they have blamed him for the economic disaster created by his predecessor.

In Congress, Teapublicans have filibustered a record number of legislative initiatives. They have blocked a record number of cabinet and judicial nominations. They have blocked nearly every attempt to stimulate the economy and create jobs. And they created a debt ceiling “crisis” when their own tax cuts led to massive increases in the national debt.

It’s all part of their “starve the beast” philosophy of less government. So what has it gotten us? An economy that is still struggling more than three years after their less-government-no-regulation policies led to the worst economic crash since the Great Depression. And now that US Treasury bonds have been downgraded as a result of their brinksmanship, the economy is once again teetering on the edge of disaster.

Given that S&P clearly stated its reason for downgrading our bond rating is our dysfunctional Congress, one might assume that Teapublicans will come to their collective senses and begin to compromise in order to create jobs, generate more revenue and cut our deficit.

That is the lesson sane people might take away from S&P’s message. But, that’s not who we’re dealing with.  Instead, we have to rely on John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Michelle Bachmann and Eric Cantor correctly reading their tea leaves.