Saturday, January 24, 2009

Making Work Pay... and Pay... and Pay

Jog my memory, will ya?

During the election cycle, there was a massive bailout passed over the objections of most Americans. Am I right? Did this happen? I remember being so irritated that McCain couldn't even muster up an aversion to it - because it would have helped swing things his way. Instead, he sat there during the "debates" and calmly said that the bailout was the right thing to do. Never mind that the American people were completely opposed to it. 

But Obama, in his first week in office, has "stepped squarely into the fractious effort in Congress to assemble an $825 billion economic recovery package..." Yes, again. See, apparently, the first $850 billion didn't do the trick. And the Democrats are hoping that throwing more money at the problem will save the day. 

Also at issue this first week was Obama's view that those who pay no income taxes should be receiving "refunds." Obama and No. 2 House Republican Eric Cantor squared off on the issue. Apparently, Mr. Cantor outlined the Republican line of thinking on giving refunds to people who have not even paid, and Obama's response was, "You're correct, there's a philosophical difference, but I won, so we're going to prevail on that." And he's right. He did win. And they will prevail. 

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says, "Anyone who belittles cooperation resigns him or herself to a state of permanent legislative gridlock. And that is simply no longer acceptable to the American people." But I'm an "American person," and I am totally okay with some gridlock. Even permanent gridlock. There are some things that should not receive cooperation. I think this is where the Republican party has gone wrong, actually. They appear to have no backbone... no resolve. 

The Obama administration has said that the "Making Work Pay" tax credit (where refunds are given to people who don't pay taxes) is "nonnegotiable." So the Republicans' attempt to introduce legislation that doesn't include this is being stomped down. They had wanted to reduce the two lowest income-tax brackets from fifteen percent to ten, and from ten percent to five. According to Bob Williams from the Tax Policy Center, those "are not the right kinds of cuts. You want to put money into the hands of people who will spend it." Apparently the only people we can trust to spend money these days are those who don't pay taxes. 

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Conservative Thought = Anger & Angst?

It's no secret by now that I tend to lean heavily conservative, both politically and morally. My definition of "political conservativism" would include a desire to see our country adhere to the Constitution of the United States and the intent of our founding fathers. It would be a desire of mine to see others brought around to my point of view (obviously - who wouldn't want to see other people begin to think like themselves?), and I've been spending some time pondering how this would be most effectively done. I've come to a few conclusions:

One, we're not doing it right. And when I say "we," I'm talking about the general atmosphere of many of the conservative spokespeople out front. John Hawkins (of has two articles titled "A 'You Suck' List." The first line of the first article reads, "Just consider this to be constructive criticism aimed at idiots who are too dumb to ever take it." If there is anybody from either side of the spectrum who can explain to me how this is "constructive," I'd love to hear it. I can see why it would sell - things that are vitriolic and shocking often do - but I don't see the benefit to anybody from writing such a thing beyond a monetary benefit to the author. 

Ann Coulter is another conservative who is absolutely brilliant in her marketing strategy -- and yet I have a hard time believing that she is an effective voice for converting others to conservative thought. She's famous for making cutting remarks about liberals such as, "If Democrats had any brains, they'd be Republicans." While such comments are found funny by a segment of the population and sell like crazy, they're not very conducive to starting an effective conversation on the issues. Don't get me wrong, Ann Coulter has some very interesting things to say in many of her columns - and she has an incredible amount of insight. It's just sometimes hard to dig past the angst and cynicism in her writing to get to it. 

I think, though, what bothers me the most about some of these authors' style is that they're purporting to be not just conservatives, but Christians as well. Ann Coulter, Mike Adams, Doug Giles... they very plainly write about their Christian beliefs as well as their political beliefs. But they do so in such a way as to completely lambast their opposition rather than convince them. I don't know if this is because they feel there is no hope for people who don't think and believe like they do or if it's simply an attempt to sell more of their product (which is, I guess, themselves). But regardless of the motivation behind their style, I believe it's counterproductive.

It's a little bit like the difference between a Christian who goes out to those who are hurting and ministers to them... helping to heal their wounds, loving them where they're at - and the Christian who prefers to stay in a pew on Sunday morning, listening to a sermon on how evil all the others in the world are. I'm not saying that either of these people are not Christians, only that one of them is not being very productive in their Christianity. And sometimes it takes stepping outside our comfort zone... maybe not trying so hard to be entertaining (or looking for entertainment)... Maybe we should focus on seeing the "others" as people, created by God, whom we are called on to love and treat with respect regardless of any differences we might have.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What If I Just Threw Up?

Seriously, folks. All the Obama stuff is getting out of hand. I understand that he's the first black president of the United States and all... and I really think that's a good thing. A different skin color is fine, no matter the color. I'm still not okay with Obama's policies, but I can deal. What I'm about to toss my cookies over, though, is all the HYPE. 

As soon as Obama won the election, I started being inundated with television commercials for Obama coins, Obama plates, I started seeing Obama Christmas cards and Obama - well, everything. That was already too much for me. But the fact that Marvel Comics put out a new Spider Man comic "starring Barack Obama" is (to put it mildly) over the top. Apparently, I'm on my own little island in this opinion, though - the magazine already sold out. Yes, it sold out in less than a day. But never fear, folks!! You can still get a copy -- they're coming out with a second edition. 

Is my family really so alone in our feelings? I just can't imagine that the entire country is in adoring-fan mode. What's to worship? I can't help but see Barack Obama as a narcissistic individual who has spent oodles of time posing in front of a mirror to get his camera face ready. 

Puh-leeze stop putting that practiced face on plates, cups, shirts, hats, buttons and coins. Please stop trying to sell me "Hot 4 Barack" hot sauce (Really??? For real?). 

"I Kiss Barack" lipstick, Barack Obama wine, Barack Obama post it note holders, Obama dog tags, Obama wristbands, glow-in-the-dark fridge magnets, paper weights, lighters, wristwatches, Obamabears, novelty cash... you get the idea. Of course, the one that takes the cake... the Obamarella (patented by New Thomas Technologies). This lovely umbrella lights up, displays Barack Obama, and (upon pushing a button on the handle) says, "We all agree with Barack Obama that the United States is in desperate need of change. Let's SUSTAIN in the RAIN and finally, finally, let's get it on!"

I suppose... perhaps I'm suffering from a case of sour grapes... I'm disappointed in the outcome of the election. On the other hand, I had no way NOT to be disappointed in the outcome (since I was disappointed in all my choices). So my grapes can't be all THAT bad. Ah, well... I guess now is the time to suck it up and simply be entertained by the insanity that is my world. 

Happy shopping, America!!