Saturday, April 30, 2011

Search keywords for today at Left Cheek

Some people ended up on our dear blog by searching for the following terms:

emo elmo
do beetles bite
plutocracy images
terrorist squirrels
are the chrisagis brothers for real?
ayn rand on jesus
left cheek left cheek left cheek! gif
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when tornadoes miss gay universalists

Friday, April 29, 2011

A New Anthem for Real American Man

They're not just American, but they're very man!

Look at those hips GO!

Stolen from Jesus Needs New PR

Self-description from the Youtube page:

The Chrisagis Brothers sing "American Man", one of the Patriotic songs the Brothers are being booked all over the United States with for all the Tea Party Gatherings. This song has become an Anthem for this Country to return to It's morals, values & integrity with God in the center of it all. This should become a song like God Bless the USA that will be a classic for years to come. The Chrisagis Brothers are getting known world-wide for their high morals & strong songs that convey Christ, God, Family & County (All great treasures we all should cherish). This song will make us all Proud to be Americans!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Apologies to Donald Trump

Mr. Trump, I want to apologize. You see, yesterday I was arguing that you're not a racist - you're just pretending. You don't believe a word of your alleged birtherism, or your diatribes against Obama's unqualification for Ivy League schools, nor your apparent disgust that The Blacks would vote overwhelmingly for Obama (never mind that 90% of African American voters went for Gore in 2000).

°Ku.Klux.Duck°photo © 2007 Curzio Campodimaggio | more info (via: Wylio)
But now I know better. I still believe that you're full of $h*t and that you're lying your pale, hair-implanted butt off. But I remembered the definition of a racist. Racism is about power; it's the use of racial stereotypes to lift oneself to a position over a person of another race or ethnicity.

And that's exactly what you're doing. And since that's ALL that you're doing, running your mouth on insane racist conspiracies, that would make you a racist.

Not a pretend racist. Not a part-time racist. Not just a person who happens to spew some racism.

You, Donald Trump, are a full-on, non-stop racist.

And for that, I'm sorry. Please give back your humanity card.

Ayn Rand v Jesus Christ, Round 2: Taking

Tax by definitionphoto © 2009 Alan Cleaver | more info (via: Wylio)

When it suits [the Left], they'll talk about Jesus Christ. When they can convince or try to convince everybody that Jesus Christ is the patron saint of liberalism, then they will herald Jesus Christ... "He was the first liberal. He was a great socialist. Jesus Christ. He knew who to punish. Jesus Christ knew it was the rich who were the targets. stood up for the downtrodden. Jesus Christ stood up for the slothful."...
The question is not, "What would Jesus do?" The question is not, "What would Jesus cut?" The question is, "What would Jesus take?"...
Taxes and budget cuts, what would Jesus do? What would Jesus take? That's the question people need to ask to put this in perspective. Well, the answer? NOTHING! - Rush Limbaugh, 4/27/2011

I want to thank Rush Limbaugh for making this easy for me, once again. Rush Limbaugh reframes the What Would Jesus Cut? question in Ayn Randism: "What Would Jesus Take?"

"Take" is a particular code for "tax," which in that world, is equivalent to "steal from producers." For many, tax is an act of violence: ripping the well-earned and deserved rewards of the hard and smart working to give to the "slothful".

These are ideas that he got from Ayn Rand, of course.

Ayn Rand believes that taxes can only be given by voluntary consent. Consider this exchange with Mike Wallace from the same interview as the last time we traversed these waters:
Rand: The powers of government are strictly limited. They will have no right to initiate force or compulsion against any citizen, except a criminal. Those who have initiated force will be punished by force. And that is the only proper function of government. What we will not permit is for the government to initiate force against people who have hurt no one - who have not forced anyone. We will not give the government nor the majority nor any minority the right to take the life or the property of others.
Wallace: When you say, "Take the property of others," I imagine you're talking now about taxes.
Rand: Yes.
Wallace: Now, you believe that there should be no right by the government to tax. You believe that there should be no such thing as welfare legislation, unemployment compensation, regulation during times of stress, certain forms of rent control and things like that.
Rand: That's right. I'm opposed to all forms of control. I'm for laissez-faire, free, unregulated economy. Let me put it this way: I'm for the separation of state and economics.
From this, Rush gets the idea that tax is a sort of violent form of oppression against those who have. And he's right - in that that's what Rand was arguing.

Of course, Rush is a caricature of a human being and so he doesn't really disguise his contempt of the poor (ie, his audience) - so he calls them the "slothful." He does this because he doesn't understand poverty. Or rather, he doesn't want to understand poverty. It would mess up with his nice little game he's got going.

Larry O'Donnell, however, takes him to task with intelligence, poise, and biblical responses. To Rush's question, Larry suggests, "Everything."

Towards the end, O'Donnell may give Limbaugh's listeners too much credit for knowing the bible. They may know a lot about certain theologies of the bible - and the verses that back up those gnostic/dualistic viewpoints - but they don't seem to grasp the 'here and now' elements of the bible. So, the stuff about the widows and orphans and prisoners may be kinda important, but not so important that it trumps the rantings of a multi-millionaire blaming those folks for their own suffering.

But at the moment, I'm more concerned about what is left, what O'Donnell didn't really touch: the foundational theory of Objectivism as Ayn Rand describes it above. That tax equals theft and violence*. O'Donnell never really gets to that, but I want to look at it in two parts.

First, Rand believes that government's primary - only - job is to punish wrong-doers. To be honest, a Christian can get that idea from a narrow reading of Romans 13:

The authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. (vv 3-4. New Living Translation)

This is, it should be noted, a general rule. There are several times when Christians rightly find themselves on the wrong side of the law - including Jesus and the author of Romans himself, Paul. But in general, the passage says that government generally keeps the peace. And a reading of only this passage will lead one to think that government's main objective is to punish bad people.

What this passage doesn't mention directly is who some of those bad people are. If we think that they are merely thieves or rapists of one stripe (usually poor, often misidentified), then we simply do not know the bible very well. It is filled with warnings about cheating merchants and corrupt judges and those who steal from widows. In other words, white collar criminals are those who, due to their greed, stand in the way and on the backs of the poor.

The following is a small selection of biblical passages that deal directly with the poor and justice in the light of society and government:

Exodus 23:6; Deuteronomy 15; 24:14, 15; Leviticus 25:35; Job 20:18-20; 2 Samuel 12; Psalm 10:2; 37:14; 72; 82; Proverbs 13:23; 18:23; 22:22-23; 28:15-16; 29:7; Isaiah 3:13-15; 32:7; Jeremiah 2:34-35; 5:28; Ezekiel 18; Daniel 4:27; Amos 2; 4; 5; 8

Psalm 82

1 God presides over heaven’s court;
he pronounces judgment on the heavenly beings:
2 “How long will you hand down unjust decisions
by favoring the wicked?
3 “Give justice to the poor and the orphan;
uphold the rights of the oppressed and the destitute.
4 Rescue the poor and helpless;
deliver them from the grasp of evil people.
5 But these oppressors know nothing;
they are so ignorant!
They wander about in darkness,
while the whole world is shaken to the core.
6 I say, ‘You are gods;
you are all children of the Most High.
7 But you will die like mere mortals
and fall like every other ruler.’”

8 Rise up, O God, and judge the earth,
for all the nations belong to you. (NLT)
Isaiah 10:1, 2

What sorrow awaits the unjust judges
and those who issue unfair laws.
2 They deprive the poor of justice
and deny the rights of the needy among my people.
They prey on widows
and take advantage of orphans.
Amos 8

4 Listen to this, you who rob the poor
and trample down the needy!
5 You can’t wait for the Sabbath day to be over
and the religious festivals to end
so you can get back to cheating the helpless.
You measure out grain with dishonest measures
and cheat the buyer with dishonest scales.[a]
6 And you mix the grain you sell
with chaff swept from the floor.
Then you enslave poor people
for one piece of silver or a pair of sandals.

7 Now the Lord has sworn this oath
by his own name, the Pride of Israel:
“I will never forget
the wicked things you have done!
8 The earth will tremble for your deeds,
and everyone will mourn.
The ground will rise like the Nile River at floodtime;
it will heave up, then sink again.

9 “In that day,” says the Sovereign Lord,
“I will make the sun go down at noon
and darken the earth while it is still day.
10 I will turn your celebrations into times of mourning
and your singing into weeping.
Government has a role in protecting the poor - not just from other poor, but from the rich who wish to exploit the poor. Additionally, government also has a role in making sure that the poor are provided for adequately,that they are paid promptly and well, that their debts are forgiven sufficiently, and that when they have no other recourse, then they are to be taken care of by their neighbors until they recover. And this is in the mean, ol' Old Testament.

If we were to boil down the role of government into a quick statement from the bible, we would have to say that it protects - not just the interests of the wealthy ("industrious") but also – and I would argue, especially – the poor.

As per the second part of the foundational argument: That taxing is violence. Not only did Jesus not approve of that message, he actually said, “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” The money had Ceasar’s image on it, so it belongs to Caesar. (The flip side of this is the second part of his answer. For Christians, we must recognize that we have God’s image imprinted on us and therefore we belong to God) So, tax is not implicitly evil, neither here nor in the Romans 13 passage – wherein Christians are told to pay their taxes.

There are, of course, times when it is appropriate to disobey government and even to not pay taxes. And calling the government and rulers to a higher law – the Law of Love – is expected of Christians.

But as a general rule, government protects not just from random bad people (be they terrorists or thieves) but also from corrupting forces of wealth and from the devastating effects of poverty. And in general, paying taxes is actually encouraged.

*Never mind, for the moment, that poverty is the biggest form of violence. I'm not leaving it to the side because it's unimportant - it is - or untrue - it isn't - but because the Bible hits on it but not explicitly. I would have to go into sociology to answer that (or, you know, have you look around), and since this thread is limited I just don't have the time to do justice to that right now.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Corporate Media's Gravy Boats

Gotta hand it to Sarah Palin for holding it all in. Say what you want about her (or don't. I'm rather tired of her. And this isn't about her), she's not as explosive in public as her private persona is known to be - or as the person who handles her Twitter and Facebook accounts is. Breitbart, on the other hand, is who he always is - a blowhard cynic and full of big, fat stupid.

It needs to be pointed out, of course, that the intent of this whole fiasco was to intimidate the pro-union protesters. The fact that the Tea Party would be shouted down isn't necessarily rude - it's protective.

And sweet, delectable, and frothy irony.

But what is particularly damning in this video is the media's take. Fox and CNN (and MSNBC and ABC and NBC and CBS and the New York Times and HuffPo and the Chicago Tribune...) are not only or even primarily concerned about providing and/or analyzing information and happenings. They certainly are not objective - no one can be - though there can be balance with multiple perspectives. The problem is that news is not about the news anymore. It is not about public interest as it was in its heyday in the middle of the twentieth century. It is a business.

The questions are no longer, "What matters? What is important?" The overriding question is "What sells?"- because the primary voice is not the public interest, but the business community. News organizations and shows rarely rock the boat, because they need to keep the boat going as long as possible to keep their shows going as popular as long as possible but also to keep their advertisers and corporate heads happy.

The narrative of Sarah Palin - as outdated and irrelevant as she may be to most voters - as a relevant iconoclast and/or lightning rod is still fascinating enough to draw in numerous viewers. Whether or not they love her is inconsequential; she attracts them and that's all she needs to do. And if they allow her to be publicly embarrassed, her star will fall faster than it has already.

And CNN/Fox and their corporate parents would instantly lose a steady (though declining) gravy boat. Instead of allowing it to ride out to its gravy-laden pasture.