Thursday, December 16, 2010

Conservatives Embrace Hate

It will be interesting to see how conservatives promote hate as a positive value. The recent report by the Southern Poverty Law Center classifying the Family Research Council and other anti-gay organizations as hate groups has sort of thrown the religious right for a loop. They argue that they are not "anti" anything, they are in favor of heterosexual monogamy and traditional values regarding family life.

It seems to me that it would be entirely possible to hold a particular view of the family and reject other views without being hateful about it. You could say, "I'm sorry, but that's just not the way we live." You could associate with others who share your beliefs and values, you could teach your beliefs to your children, I don't see that there needs to be anything hateful about that.

The Family Research Council and other groups named by the SPLC go far beyond that. Their focus is not on the benefits of the traditional nuclear family, but rather on the dangers of homosexuality. They have their famous "ten myths" that they like to circulate to enforce negative stereotypes of homosexuality -- as a historical note, we were exposed to one of the earlier drafts of that insidious message when the FRC's Peter Sprigg spoke at the CRC Hate Fest in March, 2005 -- read the transcript HERE. Nobody would care if there was a group who said they believed in mom-and-dad-and-the-kids families. Actually, I have that kind of family and I think it has been a good way for us to live. Even this lefty blogger is pro-family-values, in the positive sense.

It should be easy to maintain a happy family without feeling that you are threatened by some outside group. You can love your spouse and your kids and if the neighbors are gay you can still wave to them when you pick up your paper off the lawn in the morning, there is really nothing threatening about it and no reason to give it a second thought. You don't have to fantasize that your neighbor is trying to "recruit" you or your kids into some nefarious lifestyle that will tear your family apart. If one of your kids turns out to be gay, it seems to me that the family-values approach would dictate that you do everything you can to make their life happy and satisfying; it just doesn't make sense to demonize your own child.

It is unnecessary to imagine that gay people are a threat to your well-being in any way, but the groups identified by the SPLC do imagine it, they dwell on it constantly, and that's why they're classified as hate groups; their entire focus is on prejudice and discrimination against gay and lesbian people as a group. Good conservative people should be able to tell the difference. On the other hand, we have this story from the Minnesota Independent:
Rep. Michele Bachmann and Gov. Tim Pawlenty have thrown their support behind the Family Research Council and other groups that the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as anti-gay hate groups. In an open letter, Bachmann, Pawlenty and several other Republican elected officials say the SPLC has “targeted FRC and other organizations that uphold Judeo-Christian moral views, including marriage as the union of a man and a woman.” But the SPLC’s report, released last month does not target groups that oppose gay marriage or uphold Christian values; rather it lists groups that make “claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities” and “repeated, groundless name-calling.”

FRC, for instance, has suggested that gays be “exported” from the United States and says that homosexuality should be criminalized. The American Family Association, another group that Pawlenty and Bachmann are supporting, recently said that Supreme Court Justice Elana Kagan should be disqualified from office because she’s a lesbian (she’s not).

The AFA has made some particularly bizarre statements. Bryan Fischer, AFA’s director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy, recently said, “Hitler recruited around him homosexuals to make up his Stormtroopers, they were his enforcers, they were his thugs. And Hitler discovered that he could not get straight soldiers to be savage and brutal and vicious enough to carry out his orders, but that homosexual solders basically had no limits and the savagery and brutality they were willing to inflict on whomever Hitler sent them after. So he surrounded himself, virtually all of the Stormtroopers, the Browshirts, were male homosexuals.”

The open letter, signed by Bachmann and Pawlenty, reads, “We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with Family Research Council, American Family Association, Concerned Women of America, National Organization for Marriage, Liberty Counsel and other pro-family organizations that are working to protect and promote natural marriage and family. We support the vigorous but responsible exercise of the First Amendment rights of free speech and religious liberty that are the birthright of all Americans.”

The SPLC, in releasing its list, noted that the organizations were not chosen for their biblical values or promotion of “traditional marriage.” Bachmann, Pawlenty throw support behind ‘hate groups’: Republicans sign open letter defending groups on SPLC list

Nobody objects if these groups promote a message supportive of the Leave-It-To-Beaver family structure. Most Americans think that's a good way to live, we grow up and marry and have kids and work, maybe Mom works now, too, and not just dad, you raise up your kids and try to teach them to be good people, homes across the country live like that. But that family structure is not for everyone. Obviously, many of the biggest promoters of "tradition family values" have been divorced or caught committing adultery, or have disowned their own children. Besides that, people who are gay and lesbian have nothing to gain by marrying someone of the opposite sex and going through the motions of pretending to be heterosexual -- this is only a recipe for unhappiness, both for the gay member of the couple and the straight spouse who will never be loved fully. There is no reason to hold it against them if they choose not to pretend to be something they are not.

It will be interesting to see how these conservatives absorb and embrace the concept of hate and wear it as a badge of honor. They have taken the first steps, let's see how they make it work for them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim, Jim...

the idea that lunatic fringe gay advocacy groups are "live and let live" is erroneous

witness the attacks on religious beliefs and the idea that homosexuality is not permanent

remember when some church in Silver Spring hosted a Love Won Out conference and you guys showed up harassing them?

they simply wanted to provide help for Christians who experienced same gender attraction

if such Christians want to seek help, what's it to you?

further, you advocate curriculum that softsells the practical dangers of homosexuality

to everyone else's kids

again, none of your business, and likely to lead to bad health consequences

"California Republican Buck McKeon, incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, holds that DADT repeal would shatter the morale and cohesiveness of small, all-male combat units. "I don't think it's worth the risk to put them in further jeopardy than they are in now,'' he said. "I implore our members to reject this . . . ''

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said immediate repeal would lead to chaos and disruption of morale and combat readiness. He has urged giving the Pentagon time to implement the change in an orderly fashion.

A repeal would require the Pentagon to allow gays to serve openly in front-line infantry combat units, where the resistance is expected to be the highest.
Gates acknowledged greater resistance to repeal among those units.

Gen. Jim Amos, the widely admired commandant of the Marine Corps, this week repeated his opposition to repealing the current law, arguing that it would distract Marines in the midst of combat. "Distractions cost Marines lives,'' Amos noted in a session with reporters."

December 16, 2010 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The president is making phone calls saying 'this is the end' of his presidency if he doesn't get this bad tax deal," Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) told CNN.

"I don't feel that way. I think this is potentially the end of his possibility of getting reelected if he gets this deal," DeFazio added.

hmmm.... a difference of opinion

let's just shut Congress down and think about this

we can bring it up again in January after we've thought it over


picture of global warming on front page of Post with Florida citrus growers trying to thaw their crops

people, people


you need to drive your SUVs around and around and around the beltway until we warm this snow globe up!!

December 16, 2010 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As some warn victory, some downfall

Private reasons great or small

Can be seen in the eyes of those that call

To make all that should be killed to crawl

While others say don't hate nothing at all

Except hatred.

Disillusioned words like bullets bark

As human gods aim for their mark

Made everything from toy guns that spark

To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark

It's easy to see without looking too far

That not much
Is really sacred.

While preachers preach of evil fates

Teachers teach that knowledge waits

Can lead to hundred-dollar plates

Goodness hides behind its gates

But even the president of the United States

Sometimes must have
To stand naked.

An' though the rules of the road

have been lodged

It's only people's games that

you got to dodge

And it's alright, Ma,

I can make it.

December 16, 2010 4:58 PM  
Anonymous Merle said...

I hope Anon does not think that Bob Dylan would agree with anything he says, or that "That's All Right Ma, I'm Only Crying" is a statement of the conservative hateful values that Anon expresses here!

December 16, 2010 5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Merle, he who's not busy being born is busy dying

snap out of it

December 16, 2010 5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I hopey Anon does not think that Bob Dylan would agree with anything he says"

look: Mirl is doing the hopey changey thing again

that's funny, Mirl

hey, Mirl, do you think Bob Dylan would agree with anything you say?

does anyone care?

December 16, 2010 8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With a tax bill tilted to benefit the wealthiest Americans poised to pass Congress this week, U.S. income inequality will exceed the records set in the months preceding the crash of 1929 and the financial crisis of 2007. One key to that shift -- a tax code modification that will enable people with larges estates pass them on to their heirs at the lowest tax rates in decades.

Income inequality is already extreme even within the highest level of incomes. According to The American Interest, in 2004, the top 25 hedge fund managers combined to earn more than all of the CEOs from the entire S&P 500. In short, America is becoming a country where a handful of people get extremely wealthy, while the other 99% tread water at best.

But thanks to some clever spin, the party that is pushing tax relief for that tiny fraction at the top has been able to convince a big chunk of that 99% to support tax policies that aren't in the best interests of the majority of Americans. Because let's be clear: If the wealthy aren't paying their fairs share of taxes, the rest of Americans will have to make up the difference.

This compromise tax bill -- which, if passed as is, will add $858 billion to the deficit -- will offer a sweet deal to heirs of large estates. According to the The Washington Post, the package would exempt as much as $5 million from the inheritance tax, and tax the portions of estates in excess of that amount at just 35%. Based on those numbers, the Tax Policy Center concludes that in 2011, the estate tax will bite the fewest inheritances of any year since 1934 -- except for 2010, when there was no estate tax at all.

To get an idea about how many people this limited estate tax will touch, in 2009, just 4,296 people died leaving estates greater than $5 million, according to BloombergBusinessweek. And for those few, there are still options to reduce the tax burden on their heirs, such as Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts. In a GRAT, parents loan stocks or shares of a private business to the trust at the lowest interest rate legally allowed by the IRS -- now 1.8%. If the value of those assets increases over time, the trust's beneficiaries reap any benefit above that interest rate.

While President Obama and Democrats sought to limit the use of GRATs, they failed. As Jennifer Immel, senior wealth planner at PNC Wealth Management, proudly bragged to BloombergBusinessweek, "That's a wonderful technique for parents looking to pass assets on to children at nearly zero [tax rates]."

Those tax benefits come on top of the favorable treatment already embedded in the tax code for the richest 1%, who get most of their money from investments, rather than wages. The average American earns 64.5% of their income from wages, while a mere 18.1% of it derives from business ownership or capital investments, according to BloombergBusinessweek. By contrast, those in the wealthiest 1% derive 53.6% of their income from business and capital investments. Wages account for a mere 35.3% of their income. That why the 15% tax on dividends and capital gains is so valuable to them.

December 16, 2010 9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All this clever tilting of the tax code to favor the richest 1% will only exacerbate America's already growing income inequality problem. One of George W. Bush's many lousy legacies was a level of income inequality greater than in the Roaring '20s. In 2007, for example, the top .001% of American earners took home 6% of total U.S. wages -- about twice the figure for 2000. That year, the richest 0.01% (the 15,000 richest families) had 6% of national income, six times their 1% share in 1974.

In a supposedly democratic political system, how do economic policies flourish that favor a few thousand individuals at the economic pinnacle at the expense of the majority? It is simply a matter of creating effective myths and causing them to be repeated over and over on TV, radio and the Web, in newspapers and magazines.

Those messaging machines are paid for through a system that gives even more power to those willing to write the biggest checks. The New Yorker's Aug. 30, 2010 edition did a brilliant job of profiling the Koch brothers, the billionaire owners of Koch Industries, who quietly invest vast sums of money to promulgate messages that help their businesses while harming the rest of us.

The ancestral source of those myths is America's parent -- the U.K. -- which continues to pay for a flourishing monarchy. It's no wonder that U.S. news networks were instantly obsessed with the engagement of Prince William. A commoner, Kate Middleton, was about to marry into a royal family with limitless economic support from its subjects: Such Cinderella stories allow everyone to imagine that they might someday be so lucky. The mythic power of Miss Middleton's long-odds victory in the royal marriage lottery sends a subtle messages that helps preserve the British monarchy: This could happen to you -- but only if you keep the system in place that allows the winners to win big.

It's essentially the same idea that the U.S. income inequality messaging machine has been spewing out for decades: Go along with economic policies that help a few thousand people to get and pass on fabulous levels of wealth, because you never know -- you might be one of them someday.

Of course, most Americans won't -- and they won't even come close -- because the system is stacked against 99% of us, thanks to the millions of Americans who buy into those messages, and vote to keep giving themselves the short end of the economic stick.

December 16, 2010 9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we believe in property in America

the job of government is not to make sure everyone has the same balance sheet

most Americans don't believe anyone, regardless of their success, should pay more than half of their money in taxes

and what justification is there to take over half the money when an individual dies, when that individual already paid tax on it when earned

let's say you start a company and own all the stock

the company is taxed at the corporate rate

then the profits are distibuted to you as dividends and taxed again

then when you die, you can't leave it to whom you want but the government wants to tax over half to pay for things like free condoms for gays


December 16, 2010 10:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WASHINGTON (Dec. 16) -- Acting with uncommon speed, Congress moved toward final passage Thursday night of sweeping, bipartisan legislation to avoid a Jan. 1 spike in income taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

The measure also will cut Social Security taxes for nearly every wage-earner and pump billions of dollars into the still-sluggish economy.

The legislation was the result of an alliance between President Barack Obama and top Republicans in Congress.

Policy differences aside, the legislation stood on the brink of enactment an astonishingly quick 10 days after the president announced at the White House he had agreed on a plan with Republicans.

December 16, 2010 11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that senators might have to work through the Christmas break if that's what it takes to get through a spending bill, a nuclear arms treaty, the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" and other pressing legislation.

That prompted Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona to accuse the Democrat of Grinch-like behavior, saying it was not possible to stay in session "without disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians."

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., on the floor of the Senate in Washington on Wednesday, called plans for the Senate to work through the Christmas break "sacrilegious."
South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint soon piled on. He said the schedule was "sacrilegious," suggesting Reid, a Mormon, was acting in a most un-Christian fashion. "What's going on here is just wrong. This is the most sacred holiday for Christians," he said

December 16, 2010 11:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, it's so un-Christianlike to possibly have to work Christmas week. It seems Mr. Kyl and DeMint don't realize that "Christmas" is a day, not a week or two.

Do they think our troops are "sacrilegious" for having to work on Christmas Day and the weeks around it?

Are they unable to worship Jesus' birth in the District of Columbia?

Did they forget the House of representatives voted to impeach President Clinton on Dec. 19, 1998?

It is unChristlike to judge another man for his faith.

DeMint says we don't have enough time to pass legislation, but he thinks there is enough time to read legislation aloud in the Senate?

Kyl and DeMint owe Harry Reid and our troops an apology.

December 17, 2010 8:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank God Harry Reid and the Democrats are serious about conducting America's business while DeMint and the GOP want to fiddle while Rome burns.

December 17, 2010 8:11 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Easter is the most sacred day to Christians; Christmas is the most sacred day to ebay.

December 17, 2010 8:48 AM  

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