Pope Music

The new Pope has been on a tear for the past two years. If ever the term “Hope and Change” can aptly be used, it would be for His Holiness. He is fundamentally transforming the Roman Catholic institution’ thinking (not doctrines but attitudes) with some of the most liberal and progressive views. Here are a sample of his recent stances on various issues:

a) Global Warming – Pope Francis has blamed human selfishness for global warming in his long-awaited encyclical calling for action on climate change (Reference – Link )

b) in July 2013,  “If a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge… it is not right to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.” (Reference – Link )

c) On Atheism – Pope Francis rocked some religious and atheist minds when he declared that everyone was redeemed through Jesus, including atheists (Reference – Link )

d) Abortion – Pope Francis opened a special, temporary, “mercy” window to make it easier for women who have abortions and confess to get back into the full good graces of the church (Reference – Link )

Don’t get me wrong he is NOT a liberal, and the softening of his positions on key issues opens up an opportunity for a conversation regarding change within an institution that has been long criticized as anachronistic. He still has to make significant changes in multiple areas such as improving the response to the pedophilia charges, contraception, female priests to name a few. As Jorge Ramos of Univision put it, ” He has delivered style but not substance (yet)”

That brings me to Free Market Capitalism. Here is a quote from Yr-2013:
[S]ome people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacra­lized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

Over the past two years, on numerous occasions the Pope has been very vocal of the “evils of capitalism” and the “Free Market” comparing “Unbridled Capitalism” as the “Dung of the Devil”

So what does all this mean to our stateside Conservatives. Clearly such positions are in conflict with our country’s conservative pro capital viewpoints. From a fiscal standpoint clearly his positions on Free Market makes our conservatives squirm, but his take on social and environmental issues really has them in an uproar.

As an outside observer of this there is a certain element of schadenfreude in watching this unravel. For years the conservatives felt they had the backing of the Church on key social issues (read – marriage, abortion, contraception etc.). Now here comes a Pope who is no longer interested in having the traditional conversations on social issues but rather would like to bring wealth inequality and climate change to the forefront of the conversation. In other words (quoting a particular right wing talk radio person) he is a “Marxist”.

So here is how a typical conversation goes:
– “Climate change is a fact” there is a broad consensus amongst almost all scientific institutions around the world
– ” How can u say that? there was a scientist in the UK who was “fudging” his research and it has been proven to be a hoax
– “Yes! that was one person and he was discredited BUT there still remains the fact that there is broad consensus”.
– I don’t believe it for the following reasons – a)climate has changed before so this is cyclical; b) it has actually been colder in the past few years; c) increasing CO2 has no effect; d)they said we will pass point of no return but we didn’t”..and so on
– “OK but let me reiterate – consensus is broad; proof is real and even the Pope has called it out as one of the most important issues of our time”
– (quoting Santorum)” “The pope ought to stay with his job, and we’ll stay with ours,”

Rick Santorum, a devout Catholic and a once long-shot contender for the Republican nomination, told a Philadelphia radio station: “The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science, and I think we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists and focusing on what we’re good at, which is theology and morality.”

So riddle me this:
– We cannot take direction from the Pope on matters related to science since that should be left to the scientist.
– We cannot take direction from the Pope on matters of wealth and free markets since that should be left to the Economists
– But we should take direction from the Pope on contraception related matters since that cannot be left to the doctors or health care specialists?

The answer cannot be cause it is in the good book?….cause the good book is very specific about charity; greed and wealth. So then where does this hypocrisy originate from?

The answer – it is the “Conservative Bubble”. The beauty of this bubble is it is impenetrable to logic, reason and rational thought. The bubble is fed by a steady diet of talking points from the right wing radio and television outlets. While the so called pundits are getting rich pandering the same weak talking points, the folks who listen to them are struggling to enter or stay in the middle class.

Actual Example (s)

– One of the conservative talk show hosts allege that Boehner’s resignation was timed to coincide with the Pope’s arrival so he can spend the last month of his term executing Obama’s remaining Marxist agenda. All this because Boehner was instrumental in bringing the Pope stateside.

– Sarah Palin trying her best to equate her son’s domestic abuse to Obama’s policies (Link to Story). You just cannot argue with this kind of lunacy.

Maybe the Pope’s visit to the US was a positive harbinger of change to conservative attitudes. Or maybe I should look out the window and see if pigs are flying.

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Cash Rules Everything – Dolla Dolla Bill y’all

Yeah reminds me of the Lil Wayne/Akon/Wycleaf Jean Song – Sweetest Girl – “Cause I’mma tell you, like Wu told me, Cash Rules Everything Around Me….singing dolla dolla bill y’all”

I am not for one to take my cue from a rap song especially from one that that has a controversial subject like the “Sweetest Girl” song. But somehow this chorus line kept ringing in my head recently after the Supreme Court decision on campaign finance.has left a LOT of citizens shaking their heads.

“The government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote in the majority opinionn.

This is illustrated below from the NY Daily article

So this is basically become a PAY & PLAY democracy. The Supreme Court’s decision was based on ensuring the protection of the First Amendment i.e. Free Speech. But as described by this article  there is strong reason to believe that the judges are out of touch with reality.

Even though this ruling will affect a few HNW (high net worth) donors, here are specific reasons why this is really really bad for our democratic process:

a) The Golden Rule – the man with the Gold makes the rules. Agree this is a bit of an oversimplification but as the above article quoted, the person with the most money gets to “buy the most free speech that is often enough to drown the opposition”.
Exhibit A – All GOP candidates flying to Las Vegas a few days ago to court Sheldon Addleson (including the apology of one Mr. Christie).
From Jon Stewart Friday April 04th Episode: I would respectfully like to approach the bench, and remind the Court that when the media refers to Sheldon Adelson as a super-donor, they’re not talking sperm. 

b) More money means more lengthy primary cycles. As much money can be given to campaigns that much will be taken by them. With no more limits there there is a possibility of a huge list of candidates who could all be potentially well financed and drag the primary out.

c) Refer to my previous post on One Percenters. This ruling has a lot of unintended consequences. A major one being the impact to income and wealth distribution. More money buys more speech which in turn buys more money and the wealth continues to get concentrated within a small slice of society.

It is going to be very interesting to see how the 2016 elections play out especially from a spending perspective. How much super PAC and lobbyist money will be  spent and how will that influence the electoral process remains to be seen.
Maybe the answer is with how our Supreme Court works?
– Why do Judges have to be partisan? and if that is the case why aren’t Libertarian or Progressive judges ever nominated.
– Why do we need appointments for life which results in these judges who are not in step with the times? (yeah yeah I am aware of the obvious reasons).Obviously none of that is going to change anytime soon.
As stated in the same Jon Stewart episode……..

JEFFREY TOOBIN (4/2/2014): Basically, it gives people who have a lot of money at their disposal the chance to spread their influence even more widely.  If you have a million dollars now, think how many chunks of $5,200 that makes.  It’s a lot.  You could write a lot of checks.

Yep!  Lots and lots of $5,200 checks.  The last great hope of preserving our democracy from the corrupting influence of money is carpal tunnel syndrome.

Maybe like the Legislative section our Judicial section also needs a reboot.  I for one am hoping to win the lottery cause I badly need the “speech” to stop the idiots from teaching intelligent design in our school curriculum.

Republibertocrat?

Was having a discussion with a work colleague last week. He asked me what my thoughts were on Putin and his anti gay rhetoric. My colleague is a staunch Republican and conservative. I take care to state both, since I am very aware that not all conservatives are Republicans. So it came as a bit of a shock to him when I said I thought Putin got it wrong on this (and a myriad of other things). And his next question for me was “I thought you were republican (and conservative) are you not?”.  Did not know how to answer that, especially since I think a bare chested Putin is ‘overcompensating’.

 

I thought I had a good understanding on the differences between the party platforms and their underlying philosophies. But just in case they updated something that I may have missed, I figured I would hit the ol’ search engine to refresh my bearings.
My first stop was the trustworthy site Diffen.com (comparison) and I did a quick test typing in the comparisons between Democrat vs Republican vs Libertarian. And I was depressed by the results. I didn’t fit into the classic platform descriptions and attributes.
  • Since I am in favor of a flat tax and believe in free market: I am a Republican
  • Since I am pro choice and support gay marriage: I am a Democrat
  • Believe in individual rights when it comes to tolerance of other people’s property, advancement based on individual ability: I am libertarian
and to make matters worse….

 

 

Source: http://www.teluguone.com/comedy/content/political-jokes-655-6999.html
  • Since I don’t believe in taxpayer funding of religious charities: I am little bit Republican
  • Don’t believe in government regulated economy: you guessed it …not a Democrat
  • Since I actually believe in science and that climate change is not a hoax created by Al Gore and the Nobel committee: I cannot be a Republican

Therein lies the rub. The minute I say I am a Republican or Democrat  (liberal or conservative) a standard set of attributes and positions are automagically assigned to me. What ever happened to taking an issue letting it roll around the old noodle and come up with a position based on what seems right to you. Why the need for the template?

Image Source: http://thedailycannibal.com/2011/11/02/poster-boys/

So I end up being a  Republibertocrat  (or in simplified campaign terms  – the Undecided voter!). I generally lean liberal on social issues and ‘somewhat’ conservative on fiscal issues. Obviously come election time I am like the photo above-  an ‘elephant’s ass’!

Wouldn’t it be cool to customize your own vote? Hear me out, don’t laugh yet….
Here is a potential scenario – What if there were three candidates for the presidency and I was able to allocate my one vote (in parts) to the candidates and I could decide the split based on my stance on the various issues during that election year?
 …..OK maybe you can go ahead and start laughing.
Ah well..this republibertocrat/undecided/independent/liberterioconservative voter can dream!