Saturday, December 25, 2010

Let's Celebrate the Important Part of Jesus' Life

I marked Christmas Eve by watching the Christmas episode of TV Funhouse and the film Bad Santa. TV Funhouse was a parody of children’s programs, and the main characters are foul-mouthed cynical animal puppets. The Christmas episode lampoons Christmas in many ways, including the opening scene where the host, Doug, oscillates between singing a manic “Jing-jing-jingly time of year” and a solemn “Christ was born.” The brilliant claymation short “Tingles the Christmas Tension” can be seen on YouTube.

After a night-long orgy, high on “Cheer,” the animal characters go see the Christmas pageant starring the goose’s son. A light shines on the goose egg lying in the manger on the stage and a voice speaks “Unto us a child is born…”

Looking at that egg I thought, “the most holy day of the Christian calendar is not the day when Jesus attained enlightenment, or when he performed some meaningful miracle, it’s the day he was born. And the other major holiday is the day he died. Christians mark the beginning and the end of Jesus’ life—not what came in between. Christmas emphasizes the horrible theology that Jesus is the only son of God—Christmas is special because its the day when God came to Earth—Jesus is a special case. None of us can be like him because he’s the only son of God and we’re flawed evil creatures.

How different from Buddhism, where the tree under which the Buddha achieved enlightenment is a holy place; how different to believe that the founder of your religion “was a person just like you, who chose life undefiled,” to quote my husband’s song “Dream Messiah.”

Thursday, December 9, 2010

End the Tax Cuts for Everyone

In my post "Obama is Pathetic" I didn't mention what I think should happen with the Bush tax cuts: I think they should be allowed to expire for everyone. Of course this is unthinkable politically, but it is what makes sense. I remember "Shrub," by the late Molly Ivins, about George W. Bush's tenure as governor of Texas. Bush pushed through tax cuts that, in Ivins words, gave enough money to the average person to buy a hamburger, but in the aggregate impoverished Texas's public institutions. Texas ranks among the worst states in terms of education, health care coverage, and pollution. In return for an extra hamburger per week the people of Texas destroyed their public institutions.

When you look at the graph I mentioned in that post, and look at what retaining Bush's federal tax cuts would put into the average person's pocket, we're talking similar amounts. The median income in this country is somewhere around $50,000. A person making $50,000 would get a $1,000 a year tax break, which works out to $20 a week.

But the cost to that average person from these tax breaks in the aggregate--$3.1 trillion over 10 years--is going to hurt far more than the loss of that $20. We will do to our federal institutions what Texas did to theirs. In order to have that paltry extra sum our politicians will say they've been "forced" to cut Social Security, Medicare, education programs, health and human services, oversight of pollution and food safety, etc. We'll be poorer, sicker, and less educated. We'll continue to speed down the declining-empire-path that the election of George W. Bush set us on.

Of course blaming President Obama is foolish. Why didn't the Democrats handle this issue before the election when they had more power? Because they are beholden to the rich, just like the Republicans.

It's time for a revolution in this country. We need to throw off the stranglehold the two political parties have on our political system.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Obama is Pathetic

I was not a fan of Barack Obama in the 2008 primaries. Frankly I didn't like any of the Democratic front-runners, but I thought he was naive. If you think this is just an example of 20-20 hindsight, see my February 28, 2008 column called, "Just What Do We Mean By Change?"

But I never dreamed he would be such a weak president. What an immense disappointment, and this latest "compromise" on the Bush tax cuts is just plain disgusting. Ezra Klein has posted an excellent chart that makes the difference between the Democratic and Republican plans clear.

Klein writes, "The term 'tax cuts for the middle class,' which Democrats like to use, has misled. As you can see from the left side of the chart, the 'tax cuts for the middle class' also cut taxes on the rich. A family that makes $750,000 a year would pay lower taxes on the first $250,000 of their income. The question has never been whether only middle-class workers should get a tax cut. It's how much income the tax cut should cover."

The two plans give almost identical tax cuts for all income groups, until you get to the last two groups with the highest income. Under the Democratic plan, people in the highest categories-- $500,000 to $1 million, and over $1 million--would all receive a tax cut of around $6,700.

But the Republican plan would give those earning between $500,000 and $1 million a $17,400 tax cut, and a mind-boggling $103,800 tax cut to those earning over $1 million. And the Republicans say they care about the deficit--what an enormous con job they pulled on the American people this fall, the latest in a series.

And how pathetic is President Obama.