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In Search of a Real Christian Conservative: Religious Bigotry Descends Upon Texas House Speaker Race

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Well, this did not take long.  Since achieving blowout victories in a plethora of state legislative races during November’s midterm elections, it seems as if the TEA Partiers, hardline partisan ideologues, and all-around kooks deep down in the heart of Texas have decided to shoot themselves in not only one, but both feet.  Just what, exactly, have they done?

The incumbent Republican House Speaker, San Antonio area Representative Joe Straus, apparently managed to earn their ire by being something very dangerous in the current American political climate: a moderate. Not on fiscal issues, though, which, in my view, is a good thing, but instead on social ones. Elected roughly two years ago to preside over a chamber closely divided between Democrats and the GOP, he has toed a centrist line on matters such as same sex adoptions and women’s reproductive rights. While, for a while, it appeared his opponents were targeting him only for his political beliefs, far more grim motivations were revealed early last week when a string of emails were uncovered by an Austin newspaper, the contents of which proved beyond a doubt that the impetus for many opposing Straus is his Judaism.

“WE elected a house with Christian, conservative values. We now want a true Christian, conservative running it,” Texas Republican Executive Committee member John Cook wrote. “Straus’ record is not conservative. Period!!” Cook’s views gel perfectly with those of Kaufman County TEA Party Chairman Ray Myers, who recently opined on the importance of finding a “Christian Conservative” leader who has “decided not to be pushed around by the Joe Straus thugs.” When confronted by Fox News on his statements, the former was quick to say that he harbors “no racial bigotry” and, by golly, even has “friends who are Jewish.”

What a swell guy. Not only does Cook go out of his way to state that he is not a racist, despite racial prejudice not being an issue here, but also that he actually knows a few Jews, meaning that he cannot possibly be anti-Semitic. Wow! Talk about Christian values put into action.

All of this effectively ices the proverbial cake with regards to my much written about hunch that the TEA Party and the fundamentalist Christian-dominated religious right have molded into one over the past several months. As a person of Sephardi Jewish ancestry, I take special offense at the notion of Cook, Mayers, and their fellow travelers masquerading their hatred for “non-Christians,” which, in their warped minds, more than likely includes both Catholics and Mormons to boot, behind their personal religious beliefs and the overwhelmingly negative public sentiment regarding governmental fiscal policy. Indeed, these two represent everything which is wrong with several elements of our country’s so-called conservative base. As I have said many times before, the leadership of the Republican Party needs effectively to tell persons who allow their own prejudices to trump civil participation in the political process to take a hike. This is the only way in which the foundation for an enduring national electoral coalition which can consistently take down the leftists may be built.

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About Joseph F. Cotto

  • zingzing

    you get what you vote for. when you (not you, but youuuuoouuuu) vote for a right wing nut job, you’re going to get a man or woman with religious conviction on all things, including religion. god, country and guns. and no taxes. and white people. such is life in the theocracy.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Very disappointed to see a writer on BC picking up a bogus take on this story which was basically manufactured by the Dallas Morning News and has very little substance to support it.

    I realize your Jewish ancestry makes you more sensitive the anti-semitism, and that’s what the political left and the media are playing on to grossly misrepresent this situation with the help of a few idiots in the Republican Party.

    It’s telling that out of thousands of GOP officials they have only been able to find a couple who made remarks which they can misconstrue as racist about the speaker’s race.

    The truth which you aren’t choosing to present here is that Speaker Straus has worked against the best interests of his party and the people of Texas by making backroom deals with Democrats and even supporting Democrats against Republicans in key races around the state. The problem is not that Straus is a moderate and it’s certainly not that he’s a Jew, it’s that he isn’t supporting his own party.

    He won the speaker’s seat with the support of very few Republicans and has been attempting to hold that position by keeping principled Republicans out of office and buying off the rest.

    Not surprisingly this has made a lot of Republicans angry, from the grassroots to the highest levels.

    It’s not about how conservative or Jewish Straus is, though I’m sure religious conservatives who have lost so much ground in the party would like to see him out, it’s about Straus’ disloyalty to his own party. That’s it.

    Dave

  • Larry Linn

    My grandparents were Christians in Northern Ireland. She was Protestant, and he was Catholic. They had to flee after death threats. When I became of age, I volunteered and joined the Army, and I served as an 11B Infantryman. Most of my time in the field was in squad or platoon size operations. We would have discussions about what we were fighting for. It always came back to the “Bill of Rights”. To me the most important was “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
    What did our Founding Fathers have to say about religion:
    “Question with boldness even the existence of a god.” – Thomas Jefferson (letter to Peter Carr, 10 August 1787):
    “All natural institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.” Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason;
    “Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”, John Madison;
    “Lighthouses are more helpful than Churches”, Benjamin Franklin

  • Baronius

    So, they’re looking for a Christian conservative, and the guy with a Jewish last name isn’t a conservative?

    That sounds terible. I don’t know if it was motivated by anti-Semitism, but there’s no excuse for sounding like that.

  • Ruvy

    Mr. Cotto, I think I read somewhere that you identify yourself as a Rockefeller Republican. Yes, I did – in your intro up top.

    Well, this is how a real Rockefeller Republican talks – when he thinks you aren’t listening. By the way, when these remarks were made, the Rockefeller Republican in question was Jewish. He has since remedied that “defect”.

    Blessings from Liberated Samaria, ISRAEL
    Ruvy

  • http://digg.com/rodiogal Jeannie Danna

    Good article until the leftist insult.

    This is what’s wrong with the GOP/Tea. Too preocupied with party to really move toward any balance in this country.

    Why do you HAVE to take down the left?

    :D We have the right to B.

  • http://digg.com/rodiogal Jeannie Danna

    The GOP/TEA want a theocracy without any form of government.

    What a pipe dream that would be. What happens after this is achieved? Do you all start shooting each other over land and for food? Or, just over which GOD is the sheeniest?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    It’s telling that out of thousands of GOP officials they have only been able to find a couple who made remarks which they can misconstrue as racist about the speaker’s race.

    1 – are the quotations accurate? If so, then how the hell can you say “they” misconstrued those statements?

    2 – As with the racist signs at the Tea Party rallies that you claimed were brought there by leftists, explain why is it that the Left is up in arms about such racist comments, but not the Right? It’s the same thing with those racist signs – if the Tea Partiers are so NON-racist, then why the hell didn’t the Tea Partiers on the scene speak up in anger and outrage at those supposed ‘leftists’ holding up those signs?

    Hm?

    Dave, I was raised Down South. I know racism when I see it and hear it…and I know desperate denial when I see and hear it, too.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Glenn, you can’t take a few crazy racists and say that they represent an entire party. Are you represented by Harry Belafonte, Louis Farakhan and David Dukes?

    As for the racists at Tea Party events, you can go to YouTube and find multiple videos of them being ejected from events or asked to leave by the organizers or just random attendees outraged by their behavior.

    I recommend these two videos:

    Interviews with black tea partiers

    Tea Partiers confront racist.

  • El Bicho

    He may not be much of a conservative, but if it has nothing to do with the guy being Jewish, which isn’t a race last time I checked, there’s no reason for the Christian aspect to be brought up repeatedly by his detractors.

  • zingzing

    i love how they assume a guy from the kkk is a dem shill in the description of the second of dave’s videos. classic. deny thyself.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    EB, there is no Christian aspect to this except in the minds of the media and people like Joseph who’ve picked it up from them.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Zing, that’s just a sign of how unaccustomed they are to dealing with racists. Since racism is entirely alien to them they assume any racists must come from the party of racial exploitation.

    Dave

  • zingzing

    oh, dave… that’s just dumb. if racism is entirely alien to them, they’re idiots… racism exists, and exists across party lines, and i think everyone knows that. and i think we can all point to some points in the past that would suggest the republican party is not immune. don’t be a fool.

  • El Bicho

    “there is no Christian aspect to this except in the minds of the media and people like Joseph who’ve picked it up from them.”

    and of course the minds of Christian conservatives who have stated on the record they want Christian conservatives.

  • Cannonshop

    #15, Probably because it’s hard to find an actual Conservative whom is also an actual Christian. If you read the New Testament, it’s pretty clear-Jesus was a Socialist, Statist, and Monarchist.

    Socialism, Statism, and Monarchism are not consistent with American Style Conservatism.

  • zingzing

    cannonshop makes a point. jesus was an evil, evil man according to today’s conservative standard. may the christian message be spread like butter ‘pon a roll.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    C-shop –

    #15, Probably because it’s hard to find an actual Conservative whom is also an actual Christian. If you read the New Testament, it’s pretty clear-Jesus was a Socialist, Statist, and Monarchist.

    True on all counts. He was also against the death penalty and very much for helping the poor and disabled. Jesus also believed in obeying not only heavenly law but also secular law – including paying taxes.

    I am very much a Christian.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    zing –

    …racism exists, and exists across party lines, and i think everyone knows that.

    Very true – BUT as I’ve pointed out to Dave on many occasions, it’s a matter of degree. To paraphrase Jesus, the Republicans want to point out the mote in the Democrats’ eye while ignoring the log in the Republicans’ eye.

  • http://digg.com/rodiogal Jeannie Danna

    #16

    Must not have any faith in Jesus, because #16 fights any talk of social programs in his You’re on your own country.

    :D Is this a flip flop?

  • Baronius

    Jesus had little to say about political systems. He talked about belief and behavior. A person can follow His teachings while living in a monarchy, republic, anarchy, or pretty much any system. Christianity has historically been a thorn in the side of the government, rather than its servant or master (although exceptions abound). It’s not surprising that Christians should be active in reform movements such as the civil rights and pro-life movements. It is surprising how the left in this country has pushed its religious element to the back burner after the 1960’s. The right may be facing that same test today.

  • http://digg.com/rodiogal Jeannie Danna

    Jesus had a lot to say about politics in his day and his liberal views are the reason they crucified him.

    :D I’m in good company!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Jesus had a lot to say about politics in his day and his liberal views are the reason they crucified him.

    Not really, Jeannie. He’s on record as advocating the separation of church and state (“render unto Caesar…”) and pointedly distanced himself from any sort of earthly political activism, even though many of his followers were champing at the bit and the Sanhedrin and the Romans tried pushing a number of revolutionary buttons to see if he’d go for it.

    And the Romans crucified him basically to shut the Jewish authorities up. It was just easier that way.

  • Baronius

    Dread, I’d say that the lesson from “render undo Caesar…” is more that governmental and religious authority each have their place. The phrase “separation of church and state” carries too much specific meaning to the modern mind to correctly project it back 2000 years ago.

    I do agree with you that Jesus didn’t seem to have a specific political agenda.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    21

    Jesus was not a Christian. And I agree with Gandhi in saying Christians are nothing like Jesus. You can be a Christian no matter whose rules you live under. You can even be a Christian and support gov’ts. But you can’t be doing what Jesus taught and support gov’ts of any kind.

    There is a reason Jesus was apolitical. Gov’ts do not belong in a sane world where people are doing the right thing.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Jesus was not a Christian.

    Interesting. Indeed, I believe that a careful reading of the gospels will show you that Jesus never actually claims to be who Christians say he is.

    Instead, he frequently refers to himself as “the Son of Man”, a curious and enigmatic phrase which implies a sort of servant. You don’t often hear Christians refer to him by that title. I wonder why.

  • Baronius

    Dread, Catholics sometimes use the phrase “Son of God and Son of man” in the Mass. Both terms are found in the Bible.

    Jesus also refers to Himself as Yahweh, so it isn’t like He didn’t claim divinity.

    Remember that in middle-eastern cultures, the son *is* the father. There’s no distinction between, for example, Abraham and the children of Abraham, in terms of rights and responsibilities. So when Jesus is identified as “Son of God and Son of man”, he’s being called both God and man.

  • Ruvy

    Jesus was not a Christian. And I agree with Gandhi in saying Christians are nothing like Jesus.

    Yup!! Gotta second that one! Jesus, assuming he existed, was a Jew! Like me! People who call themselves “Christians” should go to this site Ebionim.org where they can read the words of the man who inspires them without the sickening pagan trash that turned “Christianity” into the religion of murder that sowed the seeds for the holocaust of the Nazis, not to mention Thirty Years War, the wars of the Reformation, the Crusades, and the unstoppable communal violence that tore apart Egypt and Anatolia during the first and second centuries of the “Christian” era.

    Of course Christians are nothing like Jesus. Jesus wasn’t a murderer, didn’t lead rapists around, didn’t humiliate whole nations, and didn’t treat people like expendable garbage. that’s what Christians do, the people who allegedly follow the teachings of a Jew.

  • Baronius

    In between calls for a genocide, Ruvy asserts that no Jew could be a murderer. Lovely.

  • Ruvy

    Calling for genocide – and actually doing it – are two very different things, Baronius. You can be as sarcastic as you want – but the Jewish apostate Torquemada did have people killed – and the Jewish apostate named Saul of Tarshis was Torquemada’s spiritual father. It was he who tacked on all the pagan trash that makes Christianity such a morally disgusting and murderous religion. When I say murderous, I mean as in actual murder, complete with the stink of blood and bloodlust in the heart, not in clauses in on a scroll that look barbaric but were never carried out.

  • Ruvy

    I’ll bet you never went to the site I linked to, Baronius. So much for intellectual curiosity on the part of Christians….

  • http://digg.com/rodiogal Jeannie Danna

    Hey, what’s up Doc?

    Jesus was a socialist.

    He wanted commerce to get the hell out of the Synagogue. Remember, he whipped those greedy bastards.

    :D IMHO

  • http://digg.com/rodiogal Jeannie Danna

    Doc,

    So what I’m trying to point out here is that although he wasn’t *POLITICAL*, he still lived by a philosophy of common good for all people.

    His greatest lesson was tolerance of one another and to feel empathy for our fellow man.

    :D see?

  • Baronius

    Nice move, Ruvy, denouncing me for not visitng a site that you don’t know whether or not I visited.

    Are you saying that when you call for a nuclear attack on Iran, you don’t really mean it? Or that you shouldn’t be held responsible for your statements, because while you’re calling for mass murder, you’re not actually doing it? And what about your fantasies of slaughtering Arabs on the street, the day that Israel rises up against them – are you exempt from blame for those dreams because that blood-soaked day hasn’t come yet?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/joseph-cotto/ Joseph Cotto

    All right, where do I begin?

    Dave, I hope that I do not come off as sounding rude, but you really should read the articles to which I linked. A through examination of both should, more or less, eviscerate your arguments here that religion is not the impetus for a large swath of those opposing Straus. Also, it has been stated by at least one news source that nearly all of said opposition is coming from East Texas, a region notorious for its hardshell Southern Baptist population which has a track record of being far less than accommodating to those who choose not to adhere to the theological principles of extreme Christian fundamentalism. As far as the TEA Party is concerned, surveys have shown in recent months that Fundies make up more than half of its proclaimed membership, and they have brought their “Moral Majority” baggage with them. Perhaps you should consider this before lamenting the decreased influence of the Religious Right, as it seems to have co-opted the TEA Party, as evidenced by the recent debate over how it should handle women’s reproductive matters, despite being a supposed free enterprise advocacy organization.

    Larry, interesting story, and you are absolutely correct about the importance of the separation of church and state.

    Ruvy, Kissinger’s comments are abhorrent and indefensible, but they were not made with malice. He is infamous for being an almost machine-like political and military strategist, not allowing his personal opinions or feelings to enter the equation while making an analysis. During the conversation in which he said what you posted, his chief priority was to prevent an armed conflict from escalating between the United States and Soviet Union, and he was determined to achieve his goal by any means necessary.

    Jeannie, glad to see that you agreed with most of the piece. However, as I have stated ad nauseam in my articles and comments, the reason I fear the TEA Party-Religious Right coalition is that it will inevitably destroy our country’s center-right political movement and allow the leftists to enjoy an easy ride back into power.

    Cannonshop, if one is to take the New Testament in its current incarnation (Needless to say, it has been rewritten countless times over the centuries) literally, then the sort of governmental structures of which you wrote will be almost certain to take shape.

    Glenn, as you can probably judge from my response to Cannonshop, the lifestlyle of embracing a neo-“progressive” (In reality, regressive, but that is not the point here) government, all the while feeling joy when paying burdensome taxes and seeing murderers sit in prison for life as opposed to receiving the punishment they so richly deserve, is, in my opinion, wholly consistent with the ethic put forth in an ideology based on a literal interpretation of the New Testament. That is not saying anything remotely positive, of course.

    Baronius, please read what I wrote in response to Cannonshop’s comment.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Joseph –

    1. I really, really don’t like getting a prostate exam, but I don’t gripe about it because I know the benefits of getting a prostate exam. Same thing with taxes.

    2. As for life in prison vice the death penalty, (a) there is no evidence that the death penalty lowers the crime rate, (b) there ARE innocent people who are put to death by America’s vaunted court system (see this list), and (c) I remember reading a letter from the Unabomber that was published maybe ten years ago. In that letter he asked – begged – to be put to death, for the misery he was enduring was to him worse than death.

    Sure, many and perhaps most murderers deserve death – absolutely! But I’d rather put them in prison for life (with the very real possibility of discovering the misery that the Unabomber’s living in) than to risk mistakenly executing an innocent man or woman for a crime they didn’t commit.

  • El Bicho

    Hopefully, Joseph will be wrongly charged and jailed for murder, and then we’ll see if he sings a different tune.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Calling for genocide – and actually doing it – are two very different things

    Not really. They’re two points along the same path. You act like they’re polar opposites.

  • zingzing

    jordan: “They’re two points along the same path.”

    or “be careful what you wish for,” ruvy. future blood stains are just as hard to get rid of as poop stains on a rug.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Thankfully Ruvy lacks the courage of his convictions.

  • zingzing

    hopefully, he lacks the insanity to actually do the shit insane shit he talks about. he should really think about what he thinks. because that shit is stupid.

  • Cannonshop

    Now, see, Glenn? We agree on something-you’re a Christian, and I am NOT. (Mind that I don’t believe in any of the other imaginary friends currently being venerated somewhere in the world either… but raw Paganism at least makes more sense to me, than the rantings of a Drunk Carpenter from Galilee. Seeing as it also makes little to no sense to me…)

    As a follower of Rationalism, I am forced to look at the outcomes of ‘good intentions’, and as a result, I tend to dislike both Socialism, AND Christianity.

  • Paul

    “I really, really don’t like getting a prostate exam, but I don’t gripe about it because I know the benefits of getting a prostate exam. Same thing with taxes.”

    So Glenn, if the government mandated you get a prostate exam once a week instead of once a year would you continue to not gripe about it?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    C-shop –

    You yourself said that you are “forced to look at the outcomes” of good intentions.

    I wish you’d do exactly that! Tell you what – go find an industrialized first-world democracy with LESS socialism than America presently has, and let me know when you find it, okay?

    And when you finish your search with negative results, please feel free to come back and talk to me about how you made up your mind about how bad socialism is by “looking at the outcomes”.

    P.S. Please don’t try to use the old Soviet Union as an example – their system was about as socialist as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is democratic.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Paul –

    Need some help building that strawman?

    Too many prostate exams are not a good thing – just like medieval-era taxes were not a good thing.

    BUT what so many conservatives forget is that “many hands make light work”. In other words, if we all pay our fair share we get good schools, good roads, good health care, good law enforcement and fire protection, and a good military. If we allow the Tea Partiers to have their way – despite the fact that the present top marginal tax rate is less than half of what it was throughout the 1950’s and about half of that rate from the 1960’s until Reagan took office – then our national infrastructure will suffer greatly…

    …and it will affect us at every level in every one of the areas mentioned above. If you want worse education, more crime, and higher joblessness, slashing taxes to the bone is a GREAT way to go about precisely that.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    He wanted commerce to get the hell out of the Synagogue.

    Not because of any ideological concern, though, but because he felt that trading and banking was not an appropriate use for a house of worship.

  • Paul

    Glenn,

    I take it we have a wildly differing viewpoint on what percentage of our tax dollars the government is wasting.

  • Baronius

    Paul – Comment #43 is hilarious.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    I don’t get it.

  • Paul

    #49
    That is because you area a Dr.

  • Baronius

    “His greatest lesson was tolerance of one another and to feel empathy for our fellow man.”

    That depends what you mean by tolerance. That word gets tossed around a lot these days. He loved people despite their pasts, but he wasn’t afraid to call a sin a sin.

  • http://www.RoseDigitalMarketing.com Christopher Rose

    I’m afraid of people who use the word sin a lot, mainly on the grounds that they are a bit bonkers.

    As to tolerance, tolerance of other people, lifestyles and so on is good, tolerating being abused or harmed is not.

    I’m kind of marginal with regard to tolerating people who see sin everywhere, I’m tolerant of their views but intolerant of them seeking to impose those views on anyone else.

  • http://digg.com/rodiogal Jeannie Danna

    #42 Rationalism! HA, more like Meism.

  • http://digg.com/rodiogal Jeannie Danna

    Doc,
    ?
    Not because of any ideological concern, though, but because he felt that trading and banking was not an appropriate use for a house of worship.

    That is an ideological concern.

    Are we twisting words like Frank Luntz now?

  • http://digg.com/rodiogal Jeannie Danna

    Cindy,

    :D lol!

    Jesus wasn’t a Christian

    Of course not! He didn’t declare himself a religion, we did…

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Paul –

    I take it we have a wildly differing viewpoint on what percentage of our tax dollars the government is wasting.

    Ah. So…when the top marginal tax rate in the 1950’s was 90%+ and then 70% from 1960 to 1980, why is it that we were somehow able to nearly pay off the entire national debt after WWII (which was proportionally larger than our current national debt) while not ruining our national economy?

    I’d really like to hear your answer on that.

  • Baronius

    If a religion is a way to God, then Jesus declared himself THE religion.

  • http://digg.com/rodiogal Jeannie Danna

    He didn’t. He said live your life simply, not build great gilded alters and take from the poor to afford lavish (TAX FREE)lifestyles for religious *Leaders and Priests*.

  • http://digg.com/rodiogal Jeannie Danna

    Don’t say, Vow of Poverty, it doesn’t exist.

  • Baronius

    If we’re basing this on scripture, He did say that He’s the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one gets to the Father except through Him. In essence, He’s saying that He represents the only religion. Agree with His claim or don’t, but you can’t use scripture as a reference point and say that Jesus didn’t establish a new religion.

  • Paul

    Glenn – My answer is that it was unfair then and still unfair now. I support a flat tax for everyone.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Didn’t he also say, “I am the Walrus”? Oh wait, that was someone else.

  • http://digg.com/rodiogal Jeannie Danna

    Paul,

    A 23% flat tax would put even more burden on American families. The only one who would be happy would be, you. And the very wealthy have loads of disposable income, yes?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Goo Goo ga Joob!

  • http://digg.com/rodiogal Jeannie Danna

    As I watch the GOP whine about having to work instead of going home to their lavish mansions and lifestyles, I am reminded that 1.6 million + men, women & children eat hand-outs and live in shelters.

    How any of these people can live with themselves and further the audacity by calling themselves Christians is beyond me.

    Frankly, they make me sick.

  • http://digg.com/rodiogal Jeannie Danna

    koo koo ca chew, isn’t it?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Paul –

    The problem with that is that a 35% tax on the income of a person making $35,000 costs him proportionally MORE than a 35% tax on a billionaire.

    But wait – that sounds pretty whacked, right?

    Yes it does…until you remember that over fifty percent of the poorer person’s income is probably used for the necessities of life i.e. food, shelter, clothing et al…whereas a billionaire MIGHT spend ONE percent of his income to live in a lavish mansion with servants and really nice clothes.

    So…yeah, on the surface the flat tax sounds good – but as demonstrated in the last paragraph, a flat tax is NOT truly fair to the working stiff who’s desperately trying to make ends meet.

    FYI, Thomas Jefferson was the first Founding Father of whom I’m aware that strongly supported a progressive tax. His point – and FDR’s – was that those who profited the most from life in America should be expected to pay more. Or to put it another way, from those to whom much is given, much is expected.

    On a slightly different note, Adam Smith, author of perhaps the most important work in economic history, The Wealth of Nations, supported a living wage for all workers:

    “It is but equity…that they who feed, clothe and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labor as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed and lodged.”

    I should note that Adam Smith is often (and rightly) referred to as the “Father of Modern Capitalism”. He was also somewhat of a libertarian.

    Just thought I’d throw a few bones out there….

  • Ruvy

    Since you are all trying to convict me of crimes I NEVER committed – AS OPPOSED TO CRIMES THAT TRUE CHRISTIANS WORSHIPING THEIR DEAD MAN ON A POPSICLE STICK DID – let’s set the record straight.

    I said and still believe that nuking Teheran is the only way to get rid of the Persian missile threat. This, because there is no other solution that I can see to stopping the mullahocracy from decimating and destroying us in Israel. I put the argument on the table, I will not re-argue it here, and if you do not like it, that’s just too damned bad. Teheran delenda est!

    The problem is not with your opinions (which are meaningless – you are NOT under threat); it is with the gutless bastards in Jerusalem who are convinced that when the HizbAllah missiles fall (because they haven’t the balls to nuke Teheran), there will be an American jet to airlift them to safety while we die in flames. It ain’t going to happen that way. They will die along with hundreds of thousands of other Israelis (a number that may include me).

    What will happen is that as the Azrieli Tower in Tel Aviv burns, as Haifa explodes from the chemical plants exploding, as the whole coast burns up from a concentrated missile attack by the damned Arabs, JEWS, finally sick to their eyeballs of Arab savagery, will kill Arabs off like dogs with whatever weapons are at hand.

    I’m not interested if you call that genocide. I’m not interested if you call it mass murder. I call it war. And war is organized murder. You soft Americans have no clue as to the savagery of Arabs, nor do you have a clue as to their real determination to murder us off. But those of you in Texas will eventually find out just how vicious the third world is as Mexican criminals (who are probably NOT as vicious as Arabs) take more and more aggressive actions against you.

    As for Jesus, etc., Irene “Athena” went to the site I linked to. The rest of you either ignored it or didn’t give a damn. that isn’t my problem or loss – it’s yours.

    Finally, Mr. Cotto, true Rockefeller Republican that he was, Henry Kissinger did what he could to bring about the downfall of the Jewish State. He was kicked out of our faith, by the way, as he well should have been, by a court of rabbis convened for that purpose, and is a traitor to the Jewish people. My main beef with him is that he is still breathing.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ruvy –

    Haven’t you been paying attention? North Korea’s got three nuke weapons plants that we didn’t know about till earlier this month…and I think we can all agree that they’ll sell to the highest bidder (I also heard that they’re helping Myanmar to build a bomb, of all places). Frankly, the threat you face is NOT a missile from Teheran, but a bomb hidden in a container or smuggled through in an underground tunnel…and thanks to the Nukes-R-Us marketplace in Pyongyang, this is just as likely to come from the Sunnis as from the Shi’a, I think you’ll agree.

    And did you get the Wikileaks memo where the Saudis were encouraging us to attack Iran?

    If Teheran is truly stupid, they’ll attack you – but they’re not stupid. They KNOW, thanks to Wikileaks, that the House of Saud (and probably the rest of the Sunni world) is out for their blood. IMO all Israel is (and all America is) to Teheran is an excuse, a distraction from what they see as the real threat – the Sunnis.

  • Ruvy

    That is a solid military analysis, Glenn. All power and money, just like the real intel boys do it. The only problem is that the Persian regime acts out of religious motives. The intel boys NEVER take religion into account. They, like atheists, believe in cause and effect.

    Trouble is, that’s not how the universe works. Events occur not by cause and effect, but with insufficient cause. Don’t believe me. This is what the quantum physicists have been saying for years.

    The universe doesn’t operate on cause and effect, Glenn, it operates on G-d’s love (or, if you are a Shi’a in HizbAllah or Teheran, Allah’s hate for the infidel). It’s G-d’s love that makes up for what folks think is “cause and effect”. And your solid military analysis ignores that fundamental reality.

    The Persians always knew that the Wahhabi wanted them out of the game, because they knew that they (the Wahhabi) were making billions that the Persians wanted to have for themselves. This is an old story going back to the days of the Shah. Remember him and his pretensions to a great Persian empire? Wikileaks only exposed what any person (living in the Middle East) who hasn’t been asleep for decades knows by now. It ain’t news. And if you have been paying attention, the messianic Shi’a have reconstructed a Persian empire, only just not formally annexing the territory. So Teheran’s real power extends all the way from the Afghani border to the Mediterranean. That ain’t news either.

    The threat of the North Koreans has been well known for years. I found out about it from a prof who left North Korea and Ibrought it up here at Blogcritics. Some arrogant prick commenting here dismissed it with a sniff. So, that ain’t news either. Neither the arrogant dismissal by dummies here nor the fact that the North Koreans go for the highest bidder, etc., etc.

    The nuke-in-a-bag you mention may well come true. So, it is just another threat we face in a world that wants us dead.

    Do you have any REAL news, Glenn? Life is boring around here.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ruvy –

    Want some real entertaining news? Read this about the Stuxnet virus that may well have set Iran’s nuclear program back by years. The below is an excerpt, but PLEASE READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE!

    “When the Stuxnet computer worm first surfaced back in June, it seemed like a sophisticated piece of malware that was ineffective, but dangerous. A few months later, it appears that the worm may have crippled Iran’s nuclear plans, leading to some analysts to describe it’s coming “like the arrival of an F35 into WWI battlefield.”

    The future of warfare may have just begun, but rather than being heralded by an explosion, it began without a sound or a single casualty.

    It is the first of its kind, and could be a signal of the ways all wars are fought from now on. It is a cyber weapon so precise that it can destroy a target more effectively than a conventional explosive, and then simply delete itself, leaving the victims left to blame themselves. It is a weapon that is so terrible that it could conceivably do more than just damage physical objects, it could kill ideas. It is the Stuxnet worm, dubbed by many as the world first real weapon of cyberwarfare, and its first target was Iran.”

  • Ruvy

    Glenn, you’re trying, and I really appreciate it. But the Stuxnet Worm has been known for about four years since a book on the Mossad’s history revealed its existence in 2007. I have that book.

    Hopefully, the Persian nuclear effort has been set back by years, giving us time to use a method other than nuking Teheran to end the problem. But he trouble with politicians is hat they tend to perceive extensions of time as complete solutions in and of themselves. So, the necessary attacks on Persia – whether it is assassinating its leaders, destroying its nuclear facilities or whatever – WILL NOT TAKE PLACE.

    The Stuxnet Worm, and its friends and relations buy time – but time eventually passes. Teheran delenda est!!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ruvy –

    Um, I really doubt Stuxnet was around in 2007. First are the points raised in this blog. Second, and more understandably, Stuxnet was designed to work with Windows 7…

    …and Windows Vista had only been released in January of 2007.

  • Ruvy

    Glenn,

    The virus described in the history of the Mossad matches Stuxnet. You need to realize that viruses can be made to evolve. Don’t assume that merely because Stuxnet was around in 2007, that it was immediately released for use. When you carefully follow the events surrounding the bringing down of the Persian nuclear plants and retardation of its military efforts, you realize that this operation took time. During that time, the virus was very likely modified to match different Windows platforms.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ruvy –

    I don’t know how much you know of coding, but designing a program to infect an operating system that’s not even on the drawing boards yet…is pretty doggone close to impossible. It just doesn’t work that way.

    A more likely explanation is that the same people who designed Stuxnet cut their teeth on the Syrian plant, took the lessons they learned, and later released Stuxnet.

    That, and Stuxnet was specifically designed to attack the Iranian plant and ONLY the Iranian plant.

  • Clavos

    if we all pay our fair share we get good schools, good roads, good health care, good law enforcement and fire protection, and a good military.

    And Santa Claus really does exist…

  • Paul Roy

    #63 I am that middle class American family, and I can assure you a flat tax would be less of a burden. Not sure what your situation is.

    #67 Either you are for equality or you are not. Why should one person have a much higher tax burden just because they have had some financial success. Ever think what it may have taken to achieve that success. Were does you logic stop? Should everyone making under $40K get 50% off groceries at the supermarket and free gas at the pump, while those who make over that amount have to pay a 50% surcharge? Where does it end?

  • zingzing

    “Ever think what it may have taken to achieve that success.”

    paul, did the man making 100 million dollars a year work 2,222.222 times as hard as the man making 45k? probably not. (and once you do that, you don’t have to do a lick of work if you don’t want to. the interest will more than pay off all your bills.)

    does a man who plays a game for a living (and works out pretty hard, i’d guess, but they don’t have to pay for the gym,) work harder than a factory grunt who has to pull 15 hours of overtime just to get his kids through college?

    what was the flat rate you wanted? 35%? if you’re paying more than that right now, you need to hire an accountant. seriously.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    Sooo…exactly how would we get all that if we did NOT all pay our fair share of taxes?

    Hm?

  • Clavos

    Sooo…exactly how would we get all that if we did NOT all pay our fair share of taxes?

    You missed my point. Paying taxes will NOT get us “good schools, good roads, good health care, good law enforcement and fire protection, and a good military.”

    Not from the corrupt, inept clowns who run this country; they’ll take our taxes and what we’ll get will be even more ripoffs: paying themselves and government employees extravagant salaries and exorbitant pensions, cadillac health plans, junkets abroad, bridges to nowhere, dubious cap and trade schemes, even more dubious “health care,” etc. and we’ll be stuck with the same crappy schools we now have, the same inept federal law enforcement and corrupt local cops, the roads will continue to crumble and on and on — ad nauseam.

  • zingzing

    so… we might as well just throw in the towel? maybe we should demand better of our government. when it comes right down to it, the people in government want the same things we all do. and things like good schools, good roads, etc, etc, all lead to more desirable areas, producing more taxes. it’s in government’s self interest (except on an individual level) to create these things. corruption will happen, of course, as such is human nature, but just look at who’s better off… the local officials in beverly hills, or the local officials in brownsville, brooklyn.

  • Paul Roy

    “did the man making 100 million dollars a year work 2,222.222 times as hard as the man making 45k? probably not.”

    Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t, but what does that matter. They still earned their money, and have probably employed several people along the way.

    You seem to think it is perfectly fine to tax that guy making 100 million dollars a year 2,222.222 times more than that man making 45K though.

    And I take it you don’t believe you have had the same opportunity to make 100 million dollars as the guy you describe.

    My flat rate would be closer to 15%

  • Jordan Richardson

    They still earned their money, and have probably employed several people along the way.

    It’s more accurate to suggest that they laid off or canned several people along the way.

    It should matter, at least ideologically, how one achieves wealth. And it does. As a society, we don’t approve of Wall Street robber barons or bank crime bosses or your garden variety Bernie Madoffs. You could argue that the aforementioned thieves “earned their money” and you wouldn’t be far off from the truth.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Clavos hits the nail on the head in #30 when he marks inept government as the blockade to efficient tax management. But there’s a reason for this; these men and women are inept by design, not by accident.

    Government could be held to a higher standard, but it isn’t. Part of the reason for this flows from the notion of the wealthy “owning more” in our society and, as an extension, being worth more. To suggest that any sort of “one citizen, one vote” process can be achieved from such a framework is pure foolishness.

  • Paul Roy

    Is this fair?

    Suppose that you have two married couples with two children and no other deductions. The only difference between these two couples is that one makes $60,000 per year and the other makes five times more, $300,000. Should people who earn 5 times more money pay 5 times more taxes? How about 49 times more in taxes?

  • Paul Roy

    “It’s more accurate to suggest that they laid off or canned several people along the way.” Maybe because they couldn’t afford their taxes, over regulation, and health care mandates. Have you ever ran a business and created a job?

  • Jordan Richardson

    Maybe because they couldn’t afford their taxes, over regulation, and health care mandates.

    If you’re talking about small businesses, you may have a point. Even then, I’d be curious to see how common this is.

    In the case of the large corporations that essentially run the United States, I sincerely doubt your premise. These companies turn record profits, even in recessions, and relentlessly skirt taxes with a combination of off-shore accounts and politicians in their pockets.

    I think you’d have to be hopelessly naive to ignore this cycle and its hold on the American economy.

  • zingzing

    “They still earned their money.”

    malarkey. no one “earns” $100 million.

    “You seem to think it is perfectly fine to tax that guy making 100 million dollars a year 2,222.222 times more than that man making 45K though.”

    no, you do though. if you have a flat tax, they’ll be taxed 2,222.222 times more than the other guy. i want to tax them more. but that’s not what you were trying to say, was it? you were rather clumsily trying to say that i’d have them taxed at a rate 2,222.222 times higher than the other guy. which would be hyperbolic stupidity.

    “And I take it you don’t believe you have had the same opportunity to make 100 million dollars as the guy you describe.”

    nothing i said should make you think that. but truthfully, opportunity has little to do with it compared to luck, or more likely, crime.

    “My flat rate would be closer to 15%.”

    and mine would be 8%. good thing we don’t make tax policy for a living.

  • Clavos

    or more likely, crime.

    A bullshit canard about the wealthy, spread by the progs with little evidence — apart from the few who have been convicted.

  • Baronius

    Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. As for the “more likely” crime, I think Clavos covered it, except he didn’t mention the envy that may motivate such statements.

  • zingzing

    [personal attack deleted] i’m not envious of people making $100 million a year. what a fucking waste of time that would be.

    and we are talking $100 m/y here. how many of those people are there? and how many do you think could walk away from an audit without charges in the world of a perfect audit investigation? be honest now. how many? not many, and you damn well know it.

  • zingzing

    “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

    keep buying them lottery tickets, baronius, and maybe you’ll get there too. but spare me the dadisms.

  • Baronius

    Generally, when one accuses unknown people of committing crimes without evidence, it’s motivated by something other than reasoning. And don’t say “they must have committed crimes to become that rich”, because that’s dumb.

    Why shouldn’t I write like a dad, when your last few comments read like a teenager’s temper tantrum?

  • Paul Roy

    #88
    So Bill Gates or Steve Jobs didn’t earn their hundredS of millions of dollars, they were just lucky, or better yet thieves? What a bunch of bullshit. And I’ll give you your 8%. Even better.

  • zingzing

    “Generally, when one accuses unknown people of committing crimes without evidence, it’s motivated by something other than reasoning.”

    except when it is. you aren’t so naive as to believe that those who have money aren’t willing to bend and break the law to keep more of that money, are you? hell, i’d say a majority of people would do it if they knew how. and when you get that much money rolling around, it doesn’t add up to just a few bucks.

    “And don’t say “they must have committed crimes to become that rich”, because that’s dumb.”

    that’s not what i said, now is it?

    “Why shouldn’t I write like a dad, when your last few comments read like a teenager’s temper tantrum?”

    i only threw a temper tantrum after your dadism came out, which is what you get when you plop out cliches like that. seriously, what calendar did you read the off of?

    paul: “So Bill Gates or Steve Jobs didn’t earn their hundredS of millions of dollars, they were just lucky, or better yet thieves?”

    do you think what they did is truly worthy of the riches they have acquired? gates and jobs have both used their fair share of dubious market and obsolescence practices to get more consumer dollars in their pockets. if you want electronics that will last and can be updated as you desire, i suggest you stay away from products made by either gates or jobs. they’re taking you for a fool. (and me, as well…)

    “And I’ll give you your 8%. Even better.”

    yes. that’s what we need. a society that can’t function.

  • Baronius

    It’s peculiar. The standard caricatures are the starry-eyed liberal and the grizzled conservative pessimist. The really weird thing is, in many ways I am a caricature of a conservative, and you are a caricature of a liberal, but we both buck the stereotypes in our view of human nature.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    “you aren’t so naive as to believe that those who have money aren’t willing to bend and break the law to keep more of that money, are you? hell, i’d say a majority of people would do it if they knew how.”

    And a majority of people do, even the poor. But let’s soften it a little for Baronius’s tender heart. It’s not hard core crime we’re talking about here, just plain fraud.

  • Paul Roy

    “do you think what they did is truly worthy of the riches they have acquired?”

    Wow. Does this also apply to greedy athletes, entertainers, and politicians too? Is Paul McCartney or Bob Dylan not deserving of their millions? After all they just very lucky to write all of those great songs huh.

    It almost sounds like what you really believe is that no wealthy person is deserving of the money they have made and everyone should make exactly the same amount no matter what the have done, or currently do. You mustn’t be very ambitious.

  • Baronius

    Roger – There are two ways to gain wealth, creating it or stealing it. I think you’re overlooking the first one. If everywhere you see prosperity you assume it means a shiv in someone’s back, no wonder you want to see the whole system collapse. But the truth is, most people are willing to work for three squares and a chance at a promotion, and they contribute to society. Just because you have something doesn’t mean you stole it – from the third world, from the workers, or from the planet.

    This comment is a response to Roger, but I think a lot of BC’ers make the same mistake.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    I haven’t argued for the proposition, Baronius. And assuming now that individual wealth creation is a desirable goal, I would say that accrued wealth by honest means comes with certain responsibility.

  • El Bicho

    “There are two ways to gain wealth, creating it or stealing it.”

    Steve Forbes has another one: inherit it

  • zingzing

    paul: “It almost sounds like what you really believe is that no wealthy person is deserving of the money they have made and everyone should make exactly the same amount no matter what the have done, or currently do. You mustn’t be very ambitious.”

    look very carefully at what i said. no one “earns” $100 m/y. paul mccartney had less than a million dollars (maybe it was pounds) in the bank when the beatles ended.

    and where did i say anything about everyone making the same? and me not me ambitious… you sure do like to take what people say and take a massive logical leap with it, don’t you?

    also, as i was saying earlier about gates and jobs and obsolescence… did you notice how i disappeared? that’s because my mac’s hard drive fucking died. several hours and $150 later, i have a new hard drive. and the painful realization that i hadn’t backed up any docs (oh well) or music (oh fucking no…) in 6 months. and jobs just made an extra 10% on me (for the second time in three years…).

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    You’re giving the proverbial Paul too much credit, zing, for being naive. He’s the incarnation of the devil’s advocate, and you’ve got to deal with a specimen such as that in a proper way.

    I don’t know, though, why you waste your breath, going through the same ole arguments time and again. They’re not going to make a dent with Paul and nonesuch, and you know it. It’s admirable of you to be extending all manner of persons, trolls to be more precise, the benefit of the doubt. I wouldn’t bother.

  • Cannonshop

    #85 If the tax is a flat percentage with no deductions, the couple earning 5 times more will pay 5 times more-it’s when you start trying to engineer society through the tax system that you end up with massive inequalities in percentage paid-and given 18,000 pages of tax-code, a dedicated accountant and the right (constant in existence-because Libs don’t like to pay their taxes EITHER) loopholes, you don’t get that.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Um, Clavos –

    You missed my point. Paying taxes will NOT get us “good schools, good roads, good health care, good law enforcement and fire protection, and a good military.

    You didn’t answer my question – if you don’t pay taxes, HOW will we have those things? Of COURSE it’s an imperfect system – no human system is perfect! But without taxes, the vast majority of Americans cannot have those things.

    It’s just like the health care debate – the very best plan the Republicans put forward only insured 3 million additional Americans while increasing the deficit by billions more, while the Health Care Reform law that was passed will enable TENS of millions of Americans to have health insurance, at NO additional deficit spending!

    If you can’t come up with a more effective way, then your complaints about the way we have…has no credence whatsoever.

  • Clavos

    You didn’t answer my question – if you don’t pay taxes, HOW will we have those things?

    No, of course I didn’t answer your question because I don’t advocate not paying taxes — in fact, I don’t know where you got that idea.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Okay – so since the nation’s laid off tens of thousands of teachers and tens of thousands of policemen because the state and local governments couldn’t pay for them, I guess that’s because they ‘couldn’t get rid of the waste instead’?

    Clavos, it’s good to get rid of waste – no one’s arguing that. BUT there comes a point when ‘starving the beast’ begins to hurt all of us far more than paying a few more taxes.

    The saying goes, “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”. You will NEVER get a perfectly waste-free system of spending taxes. You will NEVER get a corruption-free government…and you will NEVER get a corruption-free corporation, either.

    It’s good to be cynical, Clavos, but it’s just as bad to be too cynical as it is to be not cynical enough. Moderation in all things…including cynicism and paying taxes.

  • Clavos

    You will NEVER get a perfectly waste-free system of spending taxes. You will NEVER get a corruption-free government…and you will NEVER get a corruption-free corporation, either.

    Which, as you point out in another thread, Glenn:

    since YOU believe that we “can’t do anything about it”, let’s all just throw our hands up in the air and give up. That’s real good, guy.

  • Cannonshop

    #107 and again (becoming a trope now) WHAT is your definition of “Moderation” in paying taxes? In Taxation? Where is the point where it’s “Too Much” or Excessive?

    (I know, I shouldn’t be bringing old business from old threads up, but…it’s germane to your position here to have some definitions to work with, and you’ve never answered that question…)