Who We Are

My apologies ahead of time if this post is not what you come here to read. It won’t be very funny (not that they ever are).

When I decided to bring this blog back from hibernation, I did so with the intention of writing exclusively about travel and directly related topics. Long time readers of this page know I’ve never been shy about getting into politics and writing passionately about social issues. Going forward, though, I wanted this page to eschew those topics as much as possible, to be a positive page buoyed by the joy of travel.

To ignore what is going on in my country right now, though, would be a disservice. To write some random entry about a failed trip I once took would be a lie, because that isn’t where my mind is right now.

This is not a political post. I want to write about who we are.

Put simply, this Travel Ban – the Muslim Ban, the Refugee Ban, whatever you would call it – is not who we are. I refuse to accept this as a Conservative versus Liberal issue. Shame on us if we allow it to become so.

Since World War II, when America was forced to reconcile with the tragic results of banning refugees in the 1930s, we have been a nation that said we were a home for the outcast. It has been our identity in the world; it has been our beacon, a figurative idea made literal by Lady Liberty who stands roughly 5 miles from where I type this.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This has been the spirit of this nation for over 100 years. That is not to gloss over our numerous failings as a nation, especially as it relates to foreign policy. Our actions have rarely lived up to our ideals. But we have had those ideals, and they have been what united us as a nation, even if we couldn’t agree how best to achieve them.

For eight years, dyspeptic voices warned us that President Obama was fundamentally changing the character of this nation. Well, in eight days, Donald Trump truly did it.

You can be fiscally conservative and see this is wrong. You can be socially conservative and see this is wrong. You can love your children and want to protect them and not turn your backs on others – that isn’t love, that’s fear. This isn’t Right versus Left, this is a basic question of our humanity. To shut our doors on those in need under the guise – the lie – that it will keep us safe is to fail on every level to be the nation we have claimed to be for a century.

I won’t post pictures of the children caught in the Syrian war because I don’t want to be accused of using emotional manipulation or propaganda. But you have seen them. You have seen these children, these mothers, these fathers; you have seen their suffering. They are no less human because the God they pray to answers to a different name than yours.

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

I have been told often that we are a Christian nation. When will we act as such? How can we be a nation that professes that it is in God we trust, yet we have no faith that we will be protected if we do what is right?

I don’t know what motivates you. I don’t know which truth you hold most dear to your heart. I don’t know which belief guides your choices.

Here is mine: Humanity is flawed; it is capable of great evil and depravity, motivated by selfishness, greed, hatred, and, more often than anything else, fear. But within humanity is also the capacity for tremendous acts of love and sacrifice, resilience and hope. I believe that humanity at its best surpasses humanity at its worst. And I believe that there is no Judgment Day awaiting, no eternal reward or punishment; just the beating rhythm of our own conscience too often drowned out by the frightened bellows within us.

To those living elsewhere in the world: Know that the actions of these particular leaders are not the will of much of the people. It is not my will. I became a traveler because I do not believe in walls. I travel because my humanity is awakened when I open myself up to new experiences and new perspectives.

To those of you living in the US: Now, we must resist this spreading evil, just as generations passed resisted tyranny in Europe and elsewhere. We must not grow complacent or irresolute in the face of this onslaught of cruelty. This is not who we are as a nation. This is not who we are as people.

This is how we resist:
ACLU = https://www.aclu.org/
CAIR = https://www.cair.com/
IRC = http://www.rescue.org
Southern Poverty Law Center =
https://www.splcenter.org/
Planned Parenthood = https://www.plannedparenthood.org/

We are different; we are not separate.

 

 

 

I’m leaving the country.

These are not the circumstances under which I thought I’d be announcing this.

It wasn’t just that I had studied the polls and aggregators daily, or that I had read a hundred thinkpieces and waded into the discussions that were overtaking every online article and comment thread, no matter how unrelated to politics. I believed there were secret pockets of this country whose voices were not being heard; I knew it. I just thought those voices were spread across the spectrum.

I didn’t think I would fall asleep on Tuesday feeling such raw anguish, and I certainly could not imagine I would wake up Wednesday with a gaping wound in my psyche. This fresh hell.

None of these possibilities seemed real when I decided I was moving to Spain.

I made this decision not out of a spirit of protest or anger, not out of disgust or dismay – feelings I cannot shake as I write this. It seems almost a cruel irony that I had made this decision because of quite the opposite: Feelings of inspiration and goodwill that had been reawakened by a recent trip to Spain, a two week excursion in which I met and got to know people from all over the world. It was a fresh reminder of all the things that had inspired the 10 Cities/10 Years project.

For ten years, I lived in a new US city every year, from the Northeast to the Southwest, from the Pacific Northwest to the deep South, and spots in between. For ten years, when people talked about “Real America” I rebuked the notion that any one region of the US was realer, that any region was more deserving of our nation’s reputation for exceptionalism. I grew up in a small Midwestern town and I currently live in the most populous city in this country, and many, many of the places in between. Even when I was dismayed by our country’s political choices or by pockets of the population, my informed opinion – because I had seen it with my own two eyes – was that this was a nation of extraordinary people.

I’m not sure I can argue that anymore.

For the Pro-Lifers who just voted to strip me and millions more like me of health insurance; for the Christian Right who bemoan their perceived persecution in America while denying the video evidence of racial, sexual, and non-Christian religious oppression; for the Americans who strive to make the world better for their children while ignoring the undeniable long-term consequences of Climate Change; well, I can’t defend you.

Nor would you have me. You will say, “Good, leave.” You will say you don’t need me. And on that point, we are in complete agreement.

My only response is that I wish I could say I’m leaving the country as a moral rejection of the United States that exists, but that isn’t true.

What is true is that I’m leaving America because, counter to what much of this nation believes, the world extends beyond these borders, and on the outside there is beauty and kindness and hope. Those things still exist in the United States – they always will – but right now they are overshadowed by thick, black clouds.

If I had my choice, I would not return to this country until someone else was the leader of the land – preferably a woman, or another minority, or someone from the LGBQT community – but I know, as America’s reputation diminishes in the rest of the world, that might not be an option.

I will leave the details of my plans for another time. For now, just know I look forward to a world in which our commonalities across borders mean more than our differences within them.

There will be those who say if I’m disappointed in what this nation is becoming, I should stay to help make it better. That isn’t my fight. I will always support and respect those who are in the trenches, but for my own fraying sanity, I need to move on. There are other causes in this world; America is neither a lost one, nor the only one that matters.

And to those who would say that I do not love the United States, that I am not a true American, I would challenge you to find a single person who has dedicated more time to intimately getting to know this nation’s stunning variety and awe-inspiring splendor. I have traveled her roads, lived in her many neighborhoods, and cherished her boisterous revelries.

It’s just time for me to move on.

That has never been more evident than today.

Lesser of Two Evils?

At this stage in 2012, the fact that there are undecided voters can be pretty shocking to those who have known for months (years?) who they were going to put their support behind. Some want Obama to get a second term, a continuing chance to fulfill some of the incomplete promises or missed opportunities of his first term (and continue with his outright successes). Others want Romney (or not-Obama) to take over the office to fix the economy that’s still stagnant 4 years later and repeal everything the incumbent has done over his first terms.

There are two types of undecided voters: Those who see that both candidates have their pros and cons and are still trying to determine whose pros outweigh their cons. And then there are those who see nothing but cons, a litany of ills that makes both men unfit for office, yet they (accurately) feel that throwing their vote to a third party candidate would be like tossing a bucket of water at a forest fire.

The first type are (hopefully) studying the candidates, researching their policies and figuring out which political sacrifices are more costly than others.

The second type are just going to pick the ‘Lesser of Two Evils.’

The Lesser of Two Evils

I’m bothered by this phrase. It’s likely one I’ve uttered at some time, and as a mere cliché phrase, it’s not so bad. You immediately get the point.

But in an election season, especially one as contentious and loaded with the weight of AMERICA’S FUTURE like this one, the phrase starts to become more than just pithy reduction and more of an accurate portrayal of what people believe they’re choosing between.  Namely, evil. Obama is an evil Socialist Muslim. Romney is an evil Bourgeois Mormon.

They want to strip away our freedoms. They want to keep the rich rich and the poor poor. They want us to be dependent on the government, or they want to prevent the government from helping those who need it. They want to see Israel fall or they want to continue policies that keep other nations in poverty.

It would appear that we have two candidates (and two political parties) who have more evil aspirations for the planet than the entire line-up of Bond villains.

And we know this because each party tells us what the other party is secretly planning. Thanks to mouthpieces like Fox News and MSNBC, the general population is inundated with the hidden agendas of our evil overlords, which thankfully, come in easy-to-digest, chewable Elephant and Donkey fun-shapes.

(Thanks to bloggers… like me?… those of us who don’t normally watch televised news still get the recycled and rehashed talking points fed to us intravenously.)

I just have one problem with this.

I’m not evil (pretty sure about this). And I voted for Obama, even still like Obama. This would seemingly indicate that Obama isn’t evil. Which leads me to believe that Romney isn’t evil.

If I’m to believe the vitriolic and apocalyptic rhetoric coming out of the camps of the Left, how can I not take seriously the like-minded warnings emanating from the mouths of their goatee-wearing, Mirror Universe counterparts?

I always have a problem when people speak for other people’s motivations, especially when they speak for en entire swath of the population. Parsing out the personal motivation of one person isn’t necessarily all that difficult, especially if you spend any amount of time with them. I pride myself on being able to deduce the thoughts and secret foundations beneath people’s actions once I’ve gotten to know them, but it’s always a risk to assume such foreknowledge about someone whom I’ve never met (no matter how sexy House makes it look).

Everyone seems to do it. Politicians, celebrities, artists, any public figure is subject to our insightful analysis. My problem is that I’ve met a lot of people, and most of us aren’t even astute enough to determine our own motivations, let alone those of people we only see through a screen.

It all starts to feel a lot like religion. People proclaiming a grasp on an unknowable truth, all the while shoveling disdain on other people’s version of ‘truth,’ never grasping the irony. Well, I didn’t buy it on Sundays, I’m not going to buy it on Tuesdays, either.

I don’t like Romney’s policies, no matter how many times he changes them. I really don’t like his running mate, Ryan’s, policies. There are aspects of Obama’s first term that are disheartening and generally I’m concerned when powerful nations use their status to bully or control other nations (I’m concerned when powerful anythings do this). But I like most of Obama’s policies and not only that, I like Obama’s policies more than any of the pointless third-party candidates. I’m not having to pick the lesser of two evils, because I want to vote for Obama.

I’m also not picking the lesser of two evils because neither Obama or Romney are evil. Hitler was evil. Pol Pot was evil. Stephanie Meyer was evil. Obama and Romney, they’re just politicians, on opposite (though not that polar) sides of a pretty mild spectrum.

If you want to vote for Romney, I’m probably going to want to debate you. Not whether or not he’s evil incarnate, but whether or not there’s any historical precedent for cutting taxes in a recession or whether gay marriage really undermines ‘traditional marriage.’ These are debates worth having, conversations that I think are even worth getting heated up over. And they’re the conversations evil dictators very rarely get entangled in, because, you know, they’re killing thousands of people.

And no matter who wins, Obama (yay!) or Romney (boo!), in four years we get to decide all over again. If we’ve moved in a truly untenable direction, we have the ability to right the ship a few years later. That’s the beauty of our system, it’s the genius of our forefathers and it’s the reason that all these people swearing that we’re heading towards a dictatorship are hyperbolic dunderheads.

So in conclusion: Suck it Romney! Obama 2012!

I Want An Atheist President

#Iwantanatheistpresident

It’s May, now, which means only 4 years and 7 months until the 2016 presidential election.

Of course, before that, we have to survive this one.

Since Mitt Romney is the Republican Nominee (yes, I know, not technically, but…) and we have a 2-party system in which a 3rd party can never hope to be anything but a minor nuisance to one or both candidates, I will be voting for Barack Obama.

I don’t want that to sound like I’m ‘choosing the lesser of two evils’ or something of that nature.  I like Obama.  He’s my president.  I am by no means enthralled with everything that has happened under his presidency and he has definitely punted on some issues when he should have probably fought harder.  But, I’m a pragmatist and a realist and I know how politics works.  Which is to say, it doesn’t.  You get your guy (or gal) in office and you should be ecstatic if even a tenth of the campaign promises get fulfilled.  Part of that is because politicians lie, and part of that is because our government is an intricate (one might even say, convoluted) system that favors the status quo over change (sometimes too our national detriment).

Some of us who voted for Obama in 2008 were probably a little too naively optimistic for the changes his presidency would bring, but better foolishly hopefully than filled with the paranoia and hatred that marks his most vehement opponents.

One of the most exciting moments of Obama’s presidency, for me, came very early on.  As in, the day of his Inauguration early.  For the first time ever, ‘non-believers’ were expressly mentioned in an inaugural speech.  The pertinent excerpt:

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and non-believers.”

I remember hearing that and feeling an even greater sense of pride in my president, which was already pretty high.  The President of the United States acknowledged that, indeed, there are people in this country that don’t believe in any god, any faith, and they should be included in the conversation and recognized as part of our nation’s heritage.

A Christian has no idea what that moment feels like.  Despite talk of ‘attacks on religious freedom’ and ‘the War on Christmas,’ there has never been a question that Christians are always part of the equation.  Though the U.S. is secular (no matter what David Barton falsely claims), the truth is that this nation is still predominantly Christian in its make-up and politics.

When you’re a person who doesn’t belong to any particular faith and refuses to pretend to believe in a god, you tend to get left out of the conversation, intentionally or not.

Almost every single man who has been President of the United States has been nominally Christian.  We have to go back to William Howard Taft for a President who may have been an atheist, though he denied it (Wikipedia lists him as Unitarian).  The further back we go in history, the more we find that the Presidents were willing to eschew official religious affiliation, though most were still some denomination of Christian.

There are still some who claim that Obama is a secret Muslim, which is ridiculous.  But, I’m interested to see if those people will vote for a Mormon, since most likely in their view Mormonism is not Christianity, and thus a false religion (I was raised believing Mormonism was a cult; from a theological point of view, I do think Mormonism constitutes a different religion from Christianity, but since I’m not a Christian, I feel the point is moot).

For some people this will be an election between a Mormon and a Christian (who’s really a Muslim).  The Evangelical right will likely choose the lesser of two evils as they see it.  Or as pastor David Jeffries said recently:

…Given the choice between a Christian like Barack Obama who embraces non-biblical principles like abortion and a Mormon like Mitt Romney who embraces Bible principles, there’s every reason to support Mitt Romney in this election.

It’s all about principles, after all.  Like, the principle of standing for what you believe.

While Christians may have to wrestle with their faith this year, we atheists will vote on the issues we care about and the policies we think better lead our country forward.  Many of us will vote for Obama.  I’m sure a healthy contingent will vote for Romney, and there will even be a good number who throw their vote away on Ron Paul (aren’t I a stinker). 

Atheists aren’t a singular voting block.  We don’t have a Pope or an Evangelical Conference to tell us which way to throw our vote.  Sure, many of us revere the same men (Dawkins, Sagan), but those people don’t tell us who to vote for, and we wouldn’t listen if they did.

We call ourselves Freethinkers.  Yeah, it’s a self-aggrandizing title, so sue us.

While you will find online groups for atheists and a growing number of organizations attempting to bring some cohesion to a historically disparate group (it’s like herding cats), our very nature tends to make us resistant to unification.  After all, we are the kind of people who critically question everything and many of us at some point intentionally left behind a community of faith.  Of course, even as I write that, I have to admit that many atheists probably don’t fit that description.

And that’s the point.  Atheists only share one thing in common:  We have no belief in a god.  We don’t “have faith that there isn’t a god.”  We simply don’t accept that there is evidence for a god and thus remain at our default position: No faith.

There isn’t an American atheist alive today who has ever seen their lack of faith reflected in their president.  Granted, Muslims and Jews are in their same spot, but as this well-trod survey shows, atheists have a greater hill to climb to the White House.*

I want an Atheist President.  I want an Atheist President exactly because his or her views will be that of a freethinker, and thus not inherently locked into one stance.  S/He could be a Republican or a Democrat.  S/He could be a wartime president or a lockstep pacifist.  S/He could hold any stance on any number of issues without beholding to faith.  That doesn’t mean s/he would oppose faith or religion, only that their stance towards it would be a dispassionate acceptance of it based on the principles of the Constitution (Establishment Clause/Free-Exercise Clause) and reason.

There will always be a portion of Americans who believe that atheists are evil, the scum of the earth, as useful as a third tit.  Atheist President isn’t going to get their vote.

But there is no reason intelligent, moderate Christians should oppose an atheist.  I have Christian friends who support gay marriage, oppose the death penalty, believe in a strong safety net for the poor and are supportive of equal rights across the board.  In other words, if I was running for president (if I could find time in my busy schedule of child sacrifices and depraved sex), a substantial percentage of the non-Evangelical Christians, the same ones who voted for Obama, could vote for me, an atheist.

Now, I have no personal political ambitions (blech!), but there are plenty of atheists out there who do.  As an atheist, I hope that in my lifetime I see an atheist in the White House.  Let’s be clear: I don’t want to see it because I think it’ll mean all of my interests will be represented. 

I want an Atheist President because it will mean that the unofficial religious test for Presidency which has been in effect for at least 100 years will finally be abolished. 

I want an Atheist President because it will mean that a majority of Americans accept that a lack of faith does not equal a lack of character.

I want an Atheist President because it will mean that intelligence, experience and ideas matter more than church affiliation.

I want an Atheist President because it will mean the president will take responsibility for his or her decisions.

I want an Atheist President because it will mean that the promise of Religious Freedom will finally be fulfilled.

You don’t have to be an atheist to want an Atheist President.  You can be a believer and accept us non-believers.  You can understand that what makes me an atheist doesn’t undermine my integrity.  In fact, it strengthens it.

In 2012, the presidential candidates each profess faith in a higher being.  I have no problem with that, I only care about their policies.  Their faith, in my mind, is no more pertinent to their qualifications for president as whether they are left or right-handed.  As long as faith is not a motivation for political policy, you can believe anything at all and be president.  Or believe nothing at all.

It’s okay to vote for an atheist.  We come in peace.

If you want an Atheist President because you know that one faith doesn’t have a monopoly on morality, ethics and compassion, say it with me: I Want An Atheist President.  Tweet it with me: #Iwantanatheistpresident.

You don’t have to be an atheist to be a freethinker.

*The question specific to the presidency was asked in 1999, prior to the 9/11 attacks, so undoubtedly Muslims have taken a hit since then.  But as the other surveys reveal, even after the attacks atheists remain the least trusted group across the board.

EDIT: My suspicions were correct, Muslims did take a considerable Public Relations hit after 9/11, but atheists still remain the least trusted group.

Ron Paul Is Not Going To Be The Republican Nominee

And other obvious facts in this presidential race.

First off, let me say, this is an opinion piece on the likelihood of candidates getting the Republican nomination, not a statement on their policies, and certainly not a diatribe on why Obama is or isn’t a better choice than them.  But, who am I kidding, I’ll probably make fun of some of their stances in this, too.

It’s Tuesday, so that means another meaningless primary.  Meaningless for two reasons.  One, because whoever ends up winning the nomination, all the negative comments said about that candidate will be ignored.  Come six months from now when it’s time to start going after Obama, all the losers will act like nothing happened and throw their support behind the winning Republican nominee simply because he is the Republican nominee.

And, two, Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee.  He always was, no matter how much the Republicans don’t want him.  Yes, there is plenty to be written on how he represents a split in the Republican party, how he is the pragmatic choice versus the other, ideological choices.  There’s a lot to be said about this clusterfuck of a nomination process, but I’ll leave that to the New York Times and Jon Stewart.

The fact is, Romney is going to get the nomination, and nobody is going to be really happy about it besides Romney, but since his smile looks so fake, we won’t really be certain he’s all that happy.

Rick Santorum will not get the nomination.  There’s a reason everyone ignored him for pretty much the whole run-up to these primaries.  His views are batshit insane.  Put him up against Obama and Obama will be shown to be what he has been all along: Centrist.  The Republican party only has one chance of beating Obama, and it’s by playing to the lie that Obama is a Socialist extremist.  But if you put a real extremist up against him, it becomes obvious how moderate the president really is.  (I wish he were a Socialist extremist, because then maybe some shit would get done.)

Rick Perry‘s been out of the race ever since his famous ‘forgot the third one’ gaffe at the debate.  Everything since then has been prologue, but, like, one of those prologues from a satirical novel where the narrator says everything tongue in cheek and it’s really just an excuse to get a few more digs at the dopey main character’s expense.

That’s been Perry’s campaign for the last couple months, and when he makes another 4th or 5th place appearance in New Hampshire, he’s gonna pull a Bachmann and drop out, hoping for the VP.

Oh, Newt Gingrich.  This guy has no business doing this well this late in the game, but here he is.  And he’s done it by appealing to the strongest contingent of the Republican party:  The old, senile members who can’t remember what Gingrich was really like when he was in office and also don’t know how to use the internet to see that Gingrich has completely re-created himself in the image of the modern Republican party, all the while ignoring everything he was just a decade ago.

This man has balls, I’ll give him that.  He’s willing to stand up for the ‘sanctity’ of marriage after leaving two different wives for younger version, one of which had cancer.  John Edwards did this shit once and he hasn’t been heard from since.  Gingrich just won’t go away because he already thinks he is the president.  This whole nomination/campaigning process is a formality.

As ridiculous as he is, I actually think he represents the only true threat to Romney.  He’s been the frontrunner not just once, but twice.  Will he actually get the nomination?  I doubt it, but this guy is crazy, and for all we know, it might be his snow globe we’re all living in.

Let’s see, who else?  Oh, yes, Jon Huntsman.  I will say this, I like Huntsman because he’s fairly sensible (even though I wouldn’t pick him over Obama), but he doesn’t have a chance, which is exactly what is wrong with the Republican nominating field.  Huntsman is a sound Conservative with a non-racist, non-Cowboy view of foreign relations, and for that reason he never once got the ‘Republican frontrunner’ status that everyone, and I mean everyone (even Santorum!) got at least once.  That says more about the current state of Republican party than anything.  Sad.

Huntsman, we barely knew thee.

And that just leaves Ron Paul.  Paul has never had a chance of getting the Republican nomination, not least of which because Ron Paul is not a Republican.  He’s a Libertarian, and despite the fact that our two-party systems likes to suck up every group along a continuum under the Elephant or the Donkey, he is just too far afield to be a Republican nominee for president.  Sure, he can be considered a Republican congressman from Texas because… well, have you seen the politicians that come out of Texas?

The same people Ron Paul appeals to are the same people Ron Paul infuriates, because ultimately Ron Paul (and his opposite political doppelganger from a parallel universe) exposes the hypocrisy in all of our political stances.  Sure, he’s consistent, but Republicans aren’t consistent.  They say they want smaller government, but they want to outlaw abortion and pass an amendment to ban gay marriage.  Ron Paul wants smaller government and he won’t touch your reproductive or marriage rights (presumably), and for that reason he just won’t appeal to the buffet-style Republicans who like to pick and choose which freedoms the government should allow.  (To be fair, Democrats are often the same way, just on different rights.)

I don’t have the time or interest right now to express why I think Libertarianism is ultimately an unrealistic and unworkable philosophy for a country this large, but let’s just say that Paul is the Republican boogeyman that gets pulled out when they want to whip their children into shape.  When Paul starts to surge in the polls, it’s really just a reminder to Romney to buckle down, act Conservative and eat his peas.

Ron Paul should run as a third-party candidate because that’s what he is, and because while he would certainly draw away some of Obama’s youth supporters (but by no means all), he would siphon away even more of the Tea Party Conservatives, and that would be hilarious to watch.

So, there you have it, Romney is the Republican nominee.  I’ve been saying it for half a year, along with most everyone who doesn’t have money to gain by pretending like this is a horse race.

Get ready Republicans.  I know you don’t like it, nobody does, but this is who you have to pretend to support for the next 11 months:

Class Warfare

Millionaire tax called ‘class warfare’ by GOP.

I’ve really tried to avoid broaching politics on this blog throughout most of this stupidity, but it’s hard to just completely ignore it.  If you rightly don’t care about this whole clusterfuck of inanity because you, again rightly, understand that this whole mess is about the political parties trying to get (or keep) their man in office and not about helping the nation recover from its economic woes, then I completely understand if you just want to scroll on past this post.

I don’t want to write it.

But it’s bugging the shit out of me, so I have to get it out, like exorcising a demon.  A demon of stupidity.

Let’s establish some facts:

Fact #1. The Obama proposal would increase taxes for .3% of ‘wage earners’, those making $1 million plus.  The Republicans are right in saying that it won’t make a huge dent in the deficit.  But why take it off the table?  Add it in with other proposals for decreasing spending and it’s just one more tool in the toolbox.

Fact #2. The Obama proposal is called the “Buffett rule” because Warren Buffett, the third richest man in the world, wrote an Op-Ed piece saying that he and his fellow top .3 percenters should be paying more taxes.  No one can deny that Buffett is a successful business man (much more than toupée model Donald Trump).  He points out the huge discrepancy between the percentage he pays in taxes (15%) and what others in his office, not in the top .3%, paid (33-41%).  How is it “Class Warfare” to ask the rich to pay the same tax rate as the not-rich?  Is it because the super-rich are better than the rest of us and thus shouldn’t have to be subjugated to the same standards as the ruffians?  I guess that makes sense, actually.

Also, if one of the most successful businessmen in the history of the world suggests that raising taxes on the super-wealthy would not only not be bad for business but would probably help the economy, doesn’t that strike you as a more reliable voice than the Republicans who argue that any increase in taxes would send American Businesses into free fall and we would enter a new dark age?

Fact #3: Mitch McConnell, Republican Minority Leader of the Senate, said that his party’s “single most important” job was to make sure Obama is a “a one-term president.”  (The original interview is hidden behind a pay wall here).  Does that strike anyone as odd?  The Republican party’s main objective isn’t ensuring the stability of America in troubled times.  It isn’t finding a way to work with the President for bipartisan solutions to our problems.  Hell, it isn’t even protecting us from dem dere Muslim Terroists!  It’s making sure Obama only lasts 4 years.  How is that productive politics?

Granted, you may say, “Well, Obama’s policies are bad for America so we have to get rid of him.”  Okay, except, like with most presidents, the true effects of Obama’s policies won’t really be known for years.  Instead of assuming an Obama failure, shouldn’t a Republican leader’s goal be to find solutions, not just make sure Obama looks bad.  Keep in mind, McConnell said this in fall of 2010.  Obama hadn’t even been in office 2 full years yet.

Also, if McConnell isn’t speaking for his party, how come he’s still their Senate Leader?

Fact #4:  Tax Rates are friggin’ low!  You’ve heard it a million times but I’m saying it again, what we pay now is nothing compared to what people paid in the past.  And business in America boomed during some of the highest taxation periods.  Read all about it.

You know why I don’t mind paying taxes?  Because it means I have a job.  And it means roads are going to get repaired and public transportation is going to run and maybe long-term projects that would ultimately benefit the country will actually get completed.  Saving more money for you and your family sounds noble and honorable, but really it’s just selfish and shortsighted.  Taxes are an investment in the future stability of this country that you’re suppose to love so much (and that your kids are gonna have to live in). 

Yeah, sometimes tax money is misspent, sometimes it goes to projects you don’t support (or wars that I don’t support), but the best way to fix those problems is by electing officials that represent your interests and will ferret out misconduct.  This notion that we need a country without centralized government is asinine.  Here, tell me how you think that’s going to work out.

Fact #5:  Facts don’t mean shit.  The reality is, Obama is not going to win this round, which probably means he isn’t going to win re-election.  I’m disappointed by that fact because I like him and I agree with his policies, but it isn’t going to break my heart.  What really worries me though is that we will probably get a Republican president who has no ideas for how to fix the country because their entire party mantra for 4 years has been, “Stop Obama,” not, “Fix America.”

I hate to break it to you, but increasing taxes is an absolute must.  Bush’s brilliant strategy of fighting two wars while reducing taxes helped put us in a ridiculous deficit.  Surprise, surprise, Obama hasn’t been able to immediately get us out of it.

Look at this graph (from the Congressional Budget Office and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities):

Bush’s tax cuts alone added more to the deficit than everything Obama has done so far.  Just saying.

You can call me a Liberal Class Warrior if you want, but I think raising taxes on millionaires is just fine.  I think raising taxes on me is just fine.  If it’s going to help out the country, I’ll be okay getting a smaller tax return (because, let’s be honest, I’m pretty close to the poverty line and so I get most of my taxes back each year).

And if you don’t want to “unfairly burden” the “Job Creators,” then tie their tax exemptions to how many people they hire in a year.  If a business hires and retains an employee for at least six months in any given year, then they get a tax write off.  This isn’t my area of expertise, but that seems like a pretty easy way to both maintain the tax level for business and encourage job creation.

I don’t know, I’m no tax expert and certainly not a businessman.  But it seems to me, stupid politics is getting in the way of smart business these days, and the only class that’s being hurt are the ones the Republicans purportedly care so much about.