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Here's the thing. I'm watching one of these shows on the Cooking Channel featuring food trucks. There's a Scottish expat making fish and chips; in a thick brogue he somewhat wearily explains his irritation with Americans who habitually order a side of tartar sauce: "tartar sauce is basically gherkins." That's this blog. I claim no particular insight, no revelation. If you enjoy the flavor, great, but this blog is basically gherkins.

The Weekly Tendown March 13-19 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dear Internet:

Hopefully your brackets are better than mine after the finish to Butler/Pitt last night.


Here's Tendown 68.

1. The Bigger Government Gets, The Smaller God Gets



That's Jim DeMint, from earlier in the week.

You have to admire their gangster.  If nothing else, the right wing is just relentlessly committed to their own bullshit.

If you're a plutocrat, committed to rule by the wealthy, I get your willingness to continue the deregulation/tax cuts for the wealthy/let Reagan be Reagan line you've been selling for the past 30 years.  Clearly, no matter how much wealth you've shifted from the working and middle classes upward, which is the most important element of recent American history, you're married to this policy.  You want as many dollars in your pocket as you can get and you've got the ability to institutionally label any criticism of that as Stalinist.

If you're a theocrat, committed to Christian dominion over the United States, I get your disinclination to live in the world that actually exists.  In your world a blastocyst is the moral equivalent of an 11 year old boy, the earth is 5,000 years old and you believe in the literal interpretation of an ancient text that says homosexuality and crop commingling are abominations, which explains why the Phelps Family keeps protesting military funerals over the army's use of genetically engineered foods.

If you're a rich guy and you vote for Republicans, I understand.

If you're a Christian conservative and you vote for Republicans, I understand.

But that they can sell this rap - this, "God wants to strip collective bargaining rights from teacher's unions" absolutely crazypants rap - that is straight gangster.  That is the functional equivalent of getting caught in bed with another woman and looking your wife right in the eye and saying "yeah, that wasn't me."

But here are the Biblical capitalists and this, this is their undistilled ideology

if God supports radically limited government, then progressive policies are not only wrong but evil, and supporters of liberal policies are not only political opponents but enemies of God.  


The estate tax, the minimum wage - immoral.  Unions?  Well, here's the Christian Coalition Leadership Manual from the same piece just linked above.


Of course, slavery was abolished in this country many years ago, so we must apply these principles to the way Americans work today, to employees and employers: Christians have a responsibility to submit to the authority of their employers, since they are designated as part of God’s plan for the exercise of authority on the earth by man. 
See, slavery's approved in the Bible - but we've moved beyond that (at this point, a gay person might want to raise his hand and ask for a point of clarification) and now should properly view biblical passages supporting slavery as requiring submission to the authority of your boss.

The subordination of employees by employers - natural.  The gap in wealth between workers and their overlords - natural.  Biblical.  Part of God's great plan.  Consider this piece about Christian textbooks.

These textbooks describes the U.S. as having a divine mandate which is the basis of American exceptionalism and requires Americans to spread "Christian liberty" and biblically-based capitalism to other nations.  They describe the early 20th century as plagued by the introduction of  liberalism, the social gospel, liberation theology, and the teaching of evolution, followed by FDR's New Deal and the catapulting of America into both apostasy and socialism.  The situation supposedly worsened in recent decades due to the removal of mandatory prayer from schools and the legalization of abortion.  

And this direct passage from America's Providential History:

The loss of Christian character and responsibility led to the failure of many state banks in the early 1900s. In an effort to remedy this situation, power was granted to a centralized Federal Reserve Board in 1913.  But this unbiblical economic structure and lack of character produced even greater problems.  Within 20 years the Stock Market had crashed and America was in the midst of a Great Depression.  With the propagation of socialism, people were ready for the `New Deal' of Franklin Roosevelt.  Programs such as Social Security, and other welfare agencies, set up the State as the provider rather than God.

Another corrupting event occured in 1913.  In that year a federal income tax amendment was passed which paved the way for deficit spending, inflation and financing of ungodly nations and causes."


What's the Tea Party movement?  It's this.  It's the marriage of Wall St. and the pulpit.    If you were confused, as I was, by the level of religious furor at health care reform (Jesus wants Wellpoint to provide bonuses for rescissions?  Really?) this is from where that comes.

2. Don't Ever Forget - They Don't Believe in Small Government
The Republicans want to get the IRS involved in policing how abortions are paid for.


Under a GOP-backed bill expected to sail through the House of Representatives, the Internal Revenue Service would be forced to police how Americans have paid for their abortions. To ensure that taxpayers complied with the law, IRS agents would have to investigate whether certain terminated pregnancies were the result of rape or incest. And one tax expert says that the measure could even lead to questions on tax forms: Have you had an abortion? Did you keep your receipt?


3. 30.5%
That's the increase in bonuses for CEOs at top corporations in 2010.

As God intended.

4. 53%
The percentage of Americans in favor of gay marriage.

What's the current view of the White House, incidentally?  This is the kind of historical event that, in the future,  we'll attribute to whomever the President happens to be when there's federal legislation prohibiting marriage discrimination based on gender in the same way discrimination based on race has been prohibited since the late 1960s.  But its not driven by the top (in fact, almost no historical events are driven by the top; whether it's sports or politics, the mistaken degree to which we attribute events to the great leaders as opposed to the people on the ground is the analytic point about which I feel the most strongly).  It's not the White House, it's not the Democratic Party which has been out front on gay rights - and it won't be the Democratic Party out front on the attempt of American workers in their fight for economic justice.

5. Here's What's Happening in Florida
proposed bill would make documenting farm activity without the consent of the landowner a felony.

Whistleblowers beware.  Florida doesn't care about abuses of animals, and they want to punish you for trying to get anyone else to care about them either.

There are currently no mechanisms in place to monitor animal welfare on Florida’s farms, with inspections focusing on the food itself, not the conditions of the animals. Organizations such as PETA and the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida contend Norman drafted the legislation in response to a number of high-profile exposés that revealed horrific conditions on farms around the country, and worry that without whistleblowers the industry will operate with impunity.


If you're a big factory farm keeping chickens or pigs in torturous, brutal conditions - the state of Florida has no opinion on your actions.  If you take a photograph of those conditions - the state of Florida may put you in jail.

This is insightful.  Because a law that would regulate factory farm treatment of animals would be big government.

Which they hate.

But a law which would put people in jail for exposing those farms - that's the kind of big government that the right wing can get behind.  Presumably it's biblical big government.


6. Here's What's Happening in Florida
So, the Polk County Sheriff's Office has been donating money to churches.

And the Polk County School board has been opening its meetings with prayer.

And that's drawn complaints from a group called Atheists of Florida; the legal coordinator for which has sent multiple letters to the various governmental agencies involved.  She's a lawyer, but not licensed to practice in Florida.

Those letters have gotten her arrested for unauthorized practice of law.

The reason for state statutes prohibiting practice of law from those without a license is to protect the public; you want a lawyer, you come to an office and pay someone who holds himself out to be a lawyer for a legal service, you want a guarantee that his work meets a minimum standard of competence.  Which seems reasonable.

But that's not what's going on here - here, what's going on is being an atheist who complains in Florida gets you put in jail.

That's insightful.  Because enforcing constitutional  guarantees separating church and state - that would be big government.  And we hate big government.

But putting someone in jail for pointing it out - that's biblical big government - the kind we can all get behind.


7. Here's What's Happening in Florida
The Republicans want to create a second state Supreme Court.

Because they hate - they hate big government so much they want their own state Supreme Court.  One where they can appoint all the members.  One with the right wing version of the constitution.  You know the one they read on the floor of Congress with the parts they didn't like edited out.  Conservatives are faithfully committed to strict textual readings.  Which is why we are required to submit to the authority of our corporate masters.  Read your Bible.

8. Nate Silver vs. The Salad Bar
Some tips from the NYTimes on getting the best deal at your local market.

9. Are We in a New War?
What's going on in Libya, explained.

10. The World Champion San Francisco Giants


It takes 11 postseason wins to become World Champions.  This was the tenth.  Game 4 of the World Series.

I picked us to win the Series in 6; and the wins in Games 1 and 2 were the results I had anticipated, so I was neither giddy at 2-0, nor concerned when we couldn't hit Colby Lewis in a 4-2 Game 3 loss.

All the runs they needed came on a 3 run Mitch Moreland 3rd inning homer of Jonathan Sanchez (WAR+WARP=8), and all the runs they got were done when Josh Hamilton homered in the fifth; it wasn't his only hit of the series, but it was close. 

We hit two ourselves - Ross in the 7th, Torres in the 8th - but our lead was halved headed to Game 4.

I'm wrong as often as am I right, but my pre-series forecast said that the chip would be won or lost in Game 4, the youngest members of the two staffs, Madison Bumgarner (at 21, barely a blastocyst when we were swept in '89) against Tommy Hunter, who came in scuffling and left not demonstrably changed.

I was able to watch one game in the Series with my mom - it was Game 4, and it was never in doubt.  Lincecum was good enough in Game 1 - Cain better in Game 2 - but Bumgarner (5.1) better still in Game 4, we 3 hit the Rangers (Wilson getting the 9th inning). Huff hit an absolute torpedo 2 run homer in the 3rd, Posey homered in the 8th, and in between was a 7th inning Renteria single/Torres double.  We shut the Rangers out for the second time in the Series, the first team to pitch two WS shutouts in nearly half a century - and were poised to finish them off the following night.  10 wins down.  1 to go to win the first ever San Francisco Giants World Series.

And that's all for this time.  I'll be back next time.  If there is a next time...

Your pal,

Jim

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