A Tax Hike for the Stupid

The New York Times: “Virginia Appears Poised to Raise Cigarette Tax

Given that it is currently a whopping 2.5 cents, this makes sense as a way of increasing state revenues to fund essential services. Among the hurdles will be the substantial power of the tobacco industry and their lobbyists, who brought in $266,891 dollars in the 1999-2000 timeframe, of which $212,482 went to the Republicans, currently a strong majority in the state legislature.

The Wrong God

Salon has a good interview with Albert Pennybacker, a progressive Christian pastor working to combat the hijacking of Christianity by the right wing dingbats. I find it rather sad that the Bush administration talks about how Muslim zealots such as Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda have wrongly claimed the role of speakers for an entire religion when the Bush-supported Religious Right have done the very same thing.

While I am not religious, I was raised by church-going but not necessarily devout progressive Christians. Because of this exposure to religion, I find the intolerant, exclusionary rhetoric of the Right particularly disgusting. They (Pat Robertson, John Ashcroft) talk about their piety and religious devotion, then ignore tenets like loving all people, be they Christian or not, straight or gay. Yet another example of the “you’re with us or against us” mindset found in the Bush administration and its supporters.

"We" versus "I" – Bush One to the UN, 1990

Some highlights:

“We have a vision of a new partnership of nations that transcends the cold war: a partnership based on consultation, cooperation and collective action, especially through international and regional organizations; a partnership united by principle and the rule of law and supported by an equitable sharing of both cost and commitment; a partnership whose goals are to increase democracy, increase prosperity, increase the peace and reduce arms.”

“We stand together, prepared to swim upstream, to march uphill, to tackle the tough challenges as they come not only as the United Nations but as the nations of the world united.”

“We need serious international cooperative efforts to make headway on the threats to the environment, on terrorism, on managing the debt burden, on fighting the scourge of international drug trafficking, and on refugees, and peacekeeping efforts around the world.”

-George H.W. Bush, address to the United Nations, October 1, 1990

Further illustration of the differences in approach between the father and the son. One gathered a massive multi-national coalition with the approval of the United Nations, the other believes international bodies and treaties pose a threat to American sovereignty; pulling out of the I.C.C. to the point of specifying that the U.S. will invade Holland in order to “rescue” any personnel from I.C.C. custody, ignoring the U.N.’s disapproval of the Iraq invasion, making the rebuilding of Iraq a “members-only” club… Along with foreign policy and international diplomacy, I hope W. can follow in his father’s footsteps as a one-term wonder.

This posting was prompted by some of the speech being quoted in an article at The Nation, “The Character Myth,” which attempts to explain the psychology behind Bush’s still widespread support in the U.S.

Mr. President, the gaydar is full of bogeys!!

They’re everywhere!!

Bush supports amending the Constitution to “codify” that marriage is between a man and a woman. Yet another reason I believe he is a complete moron. Clinton’s signing of the Defense of Marriage Act (as though it were somehow under homosexual attack…) is disappointing. These bits of information aren’t new, but the following make it seem disappointingly possible…

CBS News and The New York Times are both carrying articles discussing the results of their latest joint poll, which showed that many Americans disagree with legalizing either gay marriages or civil unions and support amending the Constitution to explicitly ban such joinings.

The CBS News article contains many graphical breakdowns of what groups are opposed to gay marriage, and what people think the nature of homosexuality is; chosen behavior or natural state. Unsurprisingly, men are generally more opposed to formalized homosexual relationships. In my experience, men seem more prone to believe that “homosexuality is a contagious disease” and that “they’re all pedophiles.”

The other disturbing trend I noticed from the groupings was the apparent willingness of groups that were at one time legally discriminated against (women, ethnic minorities) to ignore the similarities of their former circumstances to those faced by homosexuals today. I am not equating the civil rights struggle with legalized homosexual marriages, but there are parallels to some specific issues within that movement; in particular the ban on inter-racial marriage.

The New York Times article has several particularly moronic comments from people who seemed to think that homosexuality is some sort of communicable, deviant behavior that threatens the institution of marriage.

How does gay marriage threaten anyone? Why do people feel that we should make it illegal? Is marriage some sort of private club that has to involve one penis and one vagina per couple?

Those arguing that marriage is defined by “God” as a union of one man + one woman need to re-read the Constitution: we do not have a state religion. No religion should dictate law to U.S. citizens.

Personally, I think this is proof of latent societal homophobia, even amongst those who otherwise think of themselves as progressive and accepting. Many want to be politically correct and non-discriminatory, but they still can’t accept that homosexuals are just people who have sex with people with the same set of genitals.

Loving America

“They [conservatives] love America the way a four-year-old loves her mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups. To a four-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad, and helping your loved one grow. Love takes attention and work and is the best thing in the world.”

Al Franken, “Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them

I’ve long held the view that liberals are more honest in their patriotism, acknowledging great achievements like helping to defeat the Nazis, but also sad episodes such as imprisoning loyal Japanese-, German-, and Italian-Americans during the war.

Thanks to Eli Sarver for prompting this post. I recently finished Franken’s book and have been meaning to put up the above quote.