“In anticipation of his presence on campus, Fr. Thomas Reese wrote a letter to Ryan on behalf of Georgetown’s Jesuit scholars, challenging his use of Catholic social teaching to defend his budget and its destructive impact on the poor.  —from The Georgetown Voice
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Politician Paul Ryan sees himself as a good Catholic but what I think we find in Paul Ryan is an example of philosophical seepage. Ryan claims to think one thing (in the interest of appearing to be a socially and morally  upright person), but the philosophical underbelly of his thought, morality and politics …keeps seeping out.
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Paul Ryan is an acolyte of Ayn Rand —or was until he started back-peddling about that famous apostle of greed. But here are some things he’s said of his fondness for Rand:
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“The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.”
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“I give out ‘Atlas Shrugged’ (a book by Rand that’s not so much a novel, but a greed manual for narcissists) as Christmas presents and make all my interns read it.” (Giving the thing to be read by an impressionable young mind is bad enough, but he irony of giving a novel whose main character is pretty much a sociopath as a gift celebrating the birth of Jesus, is a perfect Paul Ryanesque irony).
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“Ayn Rand, more than anybody else, did a fantastic job explaining the morality of capitalism, the morality of individualism, and that, to me is what matters most.” Ryan has since disavowed Rand since it’s not politically convenient at the moment to be such a Rand enthusiast —especially for a conservative.
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Why? Because Rand, among other things, was an atheist who rejected all forms of faith and religion, supported abortion rights and advanced ‘the virtue of selfishness’, who thought of the poor as ‘parasites’, ‘looters’ and ‘moochers’, and who at the end of her life wound up accepting SS checks and Medicare, thus becoming a hypocritical parasite and moocher herself.
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One more odd thing about Rand was that she exhibited signs of being a flat-out sociopath. Her notebooks revealed her psychological kinship with notorious serial killer, William Edward Hickman, holding him up as a model for the type of “ideal man” she promoted in her books.
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So this was the sort of person the architect of the Ryan Plan (a plan with the pathological backing of the Republican party) admired and put forth as his political inspiration. The fact that the creator of the Republican economic plan to continue stealing from the poor and middleclass and giving to the rich has taken his cues from a sociopath should make all things clear.
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Paul Ryan and Republicans may claim to be working for the good of all Americans, but the seepage of their true beliefs and philosophy is there in plain sight. If you’ve missed it, tune into Fox News any night for an update.
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by Jim Culleny
4/27/12
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Miter is Righter

April 21, 2012

In a claim of real authenticity, the Catholic Church (whose Pope, ensconced in his own little city, rules a vast business enterprise with all the trappings of a magnate) disses an organization of American nuns noted for their work among the poor.

In an investigation led by Bishop, Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio, the attitudes of 80% (57,000) of American nuns who are members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) were examined.

When one is running a well-oiled organization run by males one must do due diligence in keeping the ladies under some bishop’s thumb. A doctrinal entity just can’t survive if its nuns are hammering away at the foundation of well-established hierarchies. Being a good nun is one thing, following the teachings of Jesus and thinking are quite different matters.

As reported by BBC News, while the church report acknowledged “the good work [the nuns] did with the poor and in running schools and hospitals,” it “documented what it called a ‘grave’ doctrinal crisis. It seems the sisters “were promoting radical feminist themes and criticised US nuns for challenging the bishops, who it said were ‘the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals'”.

What are these women thinking? Guys, after all, have primacy in all matters in an organization run by guys. In fraternities run by mechanics, you wanna know which wrench is authorized, ask a guy.  In patriarchal faith fraternities, you wanna know what’s moral, ask a guy.  And, by the way, the guy often dressed in fine white fabric under a tall miter is The go-to guy in such matters. He, above all, knows what God dictates.

So, as you might expect, a guy, a Peter Sartain, has now been set-up to lead a reformation of a woman’s organization, the LCWR. He’s the Archbishop of Seattle, which is one of the larger bishoprics.

In response to the Vatican’s accusations that U.S. nuns were “flouting Church Teaching”, Sister Simone Campbell, head of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby, told the BBC.

“I’ve no idea what they’re talking about.”

Since the church has haunted many doctrinal mansions through history —once excommunicating Galileo for something like “flouting Church Teaching” because he truthfully reported what he saw through his new telescope— this should come as no surprize.  Priests through the ages have relished the power of “special knowledge”. If the church has any claim to authenticity it may be in its tradition of passing-on the idea of the doctrinal-supremacy-of-guys-in-arcane-matters.

Of prime interest in Sartain’s investigation will be Network which has been pointedly criticized by the Church as ” ‘being silent on the right to life’ and other ‘crucial issues’ to the church.” — BBC again.

But Sister Campbell thinks that might not be all. She thinks “her organization’s vocal support for President Barack Obama’s healthcare bill was behind the slapdown.”

She thinks “There’s a strong connection. We didn’t split on faith, we split on politics.”

Of course, in the USA it’s getting harder and harder to tell the difference betweeen the two; but we’ll leave that to our next civil war to sort out.
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by Jim Culleny
4/21/12

I just love this. It’s a response to just about anyone who thinks their achievements trump the realities of others in struggling to achieve as well  —of holding up what they’ve attained and how they attained it as a measure of the life circumstances of others.
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David Atkins at Hullabaloo answers Representative Virginia Foxx (Republican, of course), chair of the House Subcommittee on higher education, comments on G. Gordon Liddy’s radio show.
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What FOXX said:
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“I went through school, I worked my way through, it took me seven years, I never borrowed a dime of money. He borrowed a little bit because we both were totally on our own when we went to college, totally…I have very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt because there’s no reason for that. We live in an opportunity society and people are forgetting that. I remind folks all the time that the Declaration of Independence says ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ You don’t have it dumped in your lap.”
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Atkins then laid out his own struggles to obtain a higher education and at one point said this:
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“…having earned my way through my attainments, I feel perfectly justified in saying this: take a long walk off a short pier, Ms. Foxx. And the same to everyone else who believes as you do.”
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Actually Atkins catalogued some differences in the circumstances of a young Foxx and of young people coming up today; the kind of things so often glossed over or just ignored by those making political arguments to justify their own sense of superiority.
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1. College tuitions have soared since Foxx went to school.
2. Not everyone is privileged with a strong academic background. A lot of people struggle to get through, and society ought to give them a fair shake.
3. A $12-an-hour job isn’t exactly going to make much of a dent in a $15,000-$20,000 a year tuition.
4. I see no reason why I should show any deference or respect for a woman of such debased moral character and lack of empathy.
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But go here to get the whole of his pointed take on Ms. Fox and the whole I-got-mine-now-screw-you members of Club Condescension:
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.Jim Culleny
4/15/12

Who’s Alec?

April 14, 2012

What, never met Alec? Trust me, you’d better look him up, because Alec, set up behind bunkers of money and motivated by narcissistic persistence, is after your rights, your future and your well-being. If you value your way of life and the American Dream by all means check Alec out —although, as might be expected when dealing with creatures of an underworld, Alec is an alias. Alec’s real name is the American Legislative Exchange Council: ALEC.

Alec is a nice non-threatening name, but ALEC is Godzilla in a suit. Alec will destroy anything that gets in its way, starting with local ordinances and state laws and working its way up to the constitution until it’s the puppet master of everyone who’s suppossed to be working for the common good.

ALEC is actually writing laws for Republican state legislators.  Here’s how it works: ALEC writes bills then presents them to purchased legislators fully formed, who then rubber stamp them (claiming them as their own) and pass them into law without a shred of integrity or compunction. There’s money to be had for legislators who suck up to ALEC, but there’s little in it for average folks who are the butt of ALEC laws.  As you my suspect ALEC’s laws are written with corporate interests in mind, not the nation’s.

As posted in The Daily Kos (there’s also a list there of politicians on ALEC’s campaign payroll):

“The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that’s been suborning legislators all around the country to file and adopt laws that aim to restrict human and civil rights has done us a big favor. ALEC has pulled back the veil behind which lawmakers have been hiding for decades, pretending that onerous regulations, resource wasting grants and subsidies for inefficient enterprise were perpetrated by the executive, the unelected bureaucracy or the nitpicking courts.”

ALEC’s public face is a mask. It claims to be an organization promoting the exchange of ideas between business and government, but what’s most exchanged through its machinations is money —lots and lots of money. Bushels and barrels (limousine loads even!) of money flow from ALEC’s corporate cash reservoirs into the campaigns of national and state legislatures and governorships. With the help of the Supreme court —particularly its baldly politicized Scalia, Roberts, Alito and Thomas— ALEC can buy politicians with millions in amassed profits to counter your paltry $10 or $50 campaign contribution. Yes, even the Supreme Court has been ALECized.

The fact is that the [Supreme Court’s] “… Citizens United decision was in large part due to the workings of the [ALEC].   Prior to that decision justices Scalia and Thomas were guests of ALEC at one of their three annual conferences.    Thomas was a guest speaker with all expenses paid.” — OpEd News.com

Speaking of being ALECized (not that it means anything, but) on the ALEC page of Wikipedia we learn that of ALEC’s (74) State Chairmen (72) are Republicans, and of its Legislative Board of (26), (24) are also members of the middle-class-razing GOP. There are at least three possible conclusions to be drawn from these numbers:

1. ALEC is the Corporate wing of the Republican party
2. The Republican party is the party of legislative water-boys for ALEC
3. At least (4) Democrats are really Republicans.

ALEC has been working relentlessly at the state level to erase the 20th century, or at least that part of it that created the modern American middle class and gave us a nation that prospered and a society that moved (if with difficulty) in the direction of progressive change and equitable distribution of opportunity. In fact what we’ve seen happen in Wisconsin is an example of what ALEC does.

What we must keep foremost in our minds as voters during this election cycle is that the modern Republican party is corporatist first and American last. Their record during the years of the Bush administration and into the Obama administration is one of absolute disrespect and practical derision of middle class Americans,  of the poor, of women —and a cynical, personally acquisitive, obeisance to corporations. Those eight years took us from surplus and upward mobility to huge deficit, the decline of the middle class, war, job loss, manufacturing loss and a plunging economy, resulting, finally, in a virtual depression.  Not only that, we found ourselves with a regime that sanctioned  torture, extrajudicial rendition and corruption at the highest levels of government, to name a few Bush-era catastrophes.

Now ALEC / The Republican Party are making the case that the era that gave us huge tax breaks for the wealthy, deregulation of the financial industry and the poison carrot of trickle-down economics that have brought us here is the one we should return to as the remedy for our situation.

How old are we? How stupid? Are we to conclude that with ALEC’s financial clout, the sympathies of the Supreme Court and a Republican electoral victory in November that ALEC will not be writing anti-American nation-busting laws for congress?

We all know money talks; if so Scott Walker, for one, is lip-syncing.

You want a real oligarchy? —kiss-up to ALEC in November..

Jim Culleny
4/9/2012

Do you have a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a neice, an aunt, a grandmother or, simply, a female friend? Then please ask yourself if the Republican party is working in behalf of those you love, and for which you have high hopes and aspirations —or are Republicans intent upon making their lives as difficult and miserable as possible:
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“On Thursday, with little fanfare, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker signed a bill repealing the state’s 2009 Equal Pay Enforcement Act, which allowed victims of workplace discrimination to seek damages in state courts. In doing so, he demonstrated that our political battles over women’s rights aren’t just about sex and reproduction—they extend to every aspect of women’s lives.”Digby at Hullabaloo today.  
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This is what Republicans are dishing for the future of the women in your life: second-class citizenship. Unless you’re able to compartmentalize as thoroughly as Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, who may love his wife on one hand but bombards, kills and maims the wives and daughters of his people on the other, you must see what these social Luddites are up to.
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Digby goes on:
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“…they really did this. And more. And he did it in the middle of the night.“But that’s ok. The women won’t mind. They don’t really want to make as much money as men because they have children. Or something:
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“Repealing the law was a no-brainer for state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R), who led the effort because of his belief that pay discrimination is a myth driven by liberal women’s groups. Ignoring multiple studies showing that the pay gap exists, Grothman blamed females for prioritizing childrearing and homemaking instead of money, saying, ‘Money is more important for men,’ The Daily Beast reports.”
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This man, and others like him, would reverse time and return us to their vision of a golden age of the utter exploitation of women because it suits the hallucinations of their narcissistic social dementia —and make no mistake they would also take us back to the time of widespread labor exploitation, to Jim Crow law,  and further to that most economically extreme form of human exploitation, slavery. If they have their way they’ll scour the 20th century’s social progress right out of history.
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Any average American voter who turns to these people in the next election will be betraying not only the well-being and future of those they care about, but their own as well.
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Jim Culleny
4/9/2012
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Heart and Brain Bleed

April 7, 2012

While most people of good faith would probably agree that a healthy society would not sanction bullies, societies are not entirely composed of people of good faith. This has been an historically persistent problem in societies. For some, the definition of “bullying” depends upon who’s being bullied.

When nations bully they invade other nations and abuse the people of the nations they overrun. Such bullying may consist of artillery attacks and bombings (of course), beatings, rape, imprisonment, torture (crucifixions in the old days) and summary executions. But this is considered ok because, for bullies, their reasons and aggressions are justifiable.

Religions bully with similar rationales. Religions issue fatwas, organize crusades and inquisitions, shave the beards of offenders, burn books, or simply oppose anti-bullying laws with a straight face. The moral and ethical gymnastics required to make such behavior acceptable are enough to cause not only a heart but a brain to bleed.

Not only the severely conservative (as Mitt Romney likes to say), but also the severely religious, are opposing anti-bullying laws in the many of the United State of America on the basis of religious belief. In 2011, for instance, the state of Michigan passed a bill with a provision that allows bullying based on “a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.”

Did you get that?  In Michigan anyone with a “sincerely held religious belief” that the Madonna in the landscaped grotto on your front lawn was a threat to the well-being of the world could kidnap and tie you to a remote fence-post, beat you until they were satisfied you understood that God is good, leave you for a passing Samaritan to rescue and then plead religious sanctuary in defense.

The irony of the Michigan law is as profound as an irony can be. Here we have a law that cancels itself out! It’s a bit of pretense only lawmakers without a shred of integrity could concoct. Here we have a law ostensibly written and named after a young gay person that exempts perpetrators for abusing gay persons if they offer a religious excuse!

“The law, Matt’s Safe School Law, named in memory of Matt Epling, who committed suicide in the wake of relentless anti-gay bullying, offers a loophole to those who want to bully gay students or anyone else they don’t like. All they need to do, according to the newly passed legislation, is claim that their bullying was based on ‘a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.’ ”

Religions may get a pass on irrationality within a religious family, home or church, but when that unreason overflows into the community at large we’re getting into chaos territory. I have a sincerely held (virtually religious) belief that many of the religious are ruining the United States and the world but I don’t think it gives me the right to punch out someone who throws a bible verse my way or who exhibits their religiosity in any other non-violent manner. I am (luckily) constrained by reason and morality which many of the severely religious are not.

And so it goes (as Kurt Vonnegut sadly intoned), we slide further down the rat-hole of intolerance praising god.