The British press is whining about a percieved snub of Prime Minister Gordon Brown during his first visit to the White House since Barack Obama was inaugurated. They are making a particular fuss about the gifts that were exchanged between the two leaders:
After Brown presented Obama with a pen holder crafted from the timbers of the 19th century British warship HMS President (whose sister ship, HMS Resolute, provided the wood for the Oval Office's desk), Obama offered up ... 25 DVDs of American movie classics.
Twenty-five DVDs specially selected by the American Film Institute, no doubt in the latest high-definition Blue Ray format with all the extra features and commentaries one would expect from such a collection.... That sounds like a terrific gift to me! Here are the selected films:
Citizen Kane The Godfather Casablanca Raging Bull Singin' In the Rain Gone With the Wind Lawrence of Arabia Schindler's List Vertigo Wizard of Oz City Lights The Searchers Star Wars Psycho 2001: A Space Odyssey Sunset Boulevard The Graduate The General On the Waterfront It's A Wonderful Life Chinatown Some Like It Hot The Grapes of Wrath ET: The Extra Terrestrial To Kill a Mockingbird
Wow! I would love to have a collection like that. And the Brits are turning their noses up to it? Sure, the pen holder is a nice gift because of the historic nature of the wood it was carved out of, but there is no question which gift I would choose if I had a choice. Obama has already expressed his delight and appreciation for the pen holder. And all the Brits have done is whine about the specially prepared movie collection. So who is insulting who here?
Also, the British press has also made a fuss because Obama replaced a bust of Winston Churchill in the Oval Office with one of President Lincoln. Mind telling me which American president has their bust on prominent display at 10 Downing Street?
IT'S LIKE DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN.... I'd mentioned earlier that Ronald Reagan raised taxes, repeatedly, as part of his economic agenda. Bruce Bartlett recently took a closer look at those policies, and what the president's conservative allies were saying about the increases at the time.
According to a recent Treasury Department study, Ronald Reagan proposed the largest peacetime tax increase in American history as part of a budget deal to get the federal deficit under control. The Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act (TEFRA) of 1982 was signed into law on Sept. 3, and most of its provisions took effect on Jan. 1, 1983.
During debate on TEFRA, many conservatives predicted economic disaster. They argued that raising taxes in the midst of a severe recession was exactly the wrong thing to do. "Every school child knows you don't raise taxes in a recession unless you want to make it worse," The Wall Street Journal's editorial page warned. Said Rep. Newt Gingrich, "I think it will make the economy sicker." The Chamber of Commerce of the U.S. said it had "no doubt that it will curb the economic recovery everyone wants."
Looking at the data, however, it is very hard to see any evidence that TEFRA had a negative effect on growth. Indeed, one could easily make a case that its enactment stimulated growth.
It's a reminder of just how wrong the exact same cast of characters has been for quite a long while. When Reagan raised taxes, Gingrich, the WSJ editorial page, and conservative activists thought it would produce awful results. It didn't. When Clinton raised taxes, the same motley crew raised the same dire warnings about recessions and unemployment. They were wrong again. When Bush cut taxes, these same observers predicted robust economic growth and balanced budgets for years to come. That ... how do I put this gently ... didn't quite work out.
And now, here we are again, with Obama presenting an ambitious economic plan, some of which includes targeted tax increases. And wouldn't you know it, Gingrich, the WSJ editorial page, conservative activists everywhere, and a handful of useless Democrats are complaining about the dire consequences of modest tax increases.
One would like to think that being wrong, over and over again, about the exact same issue, might lead some of these characters to back off. Likewise, one might also like to think that major news outlets, recognizing how wrong these folks have been for the last few decades, might stop taking their prognostications seriously. Alas, this is not the case.
Bartlett concluded, "[W]hen Republicans claim that higher taxes will destroy the economy, they should be reminded that they made the same argument in 1982 and 1993 and that the actual economic results were the opposite of what they predicted. And when they denounce Obama's health plan for expanding the size of government, they should be asked how they voted on the Medicare bill in 2003."
Mark raised an interesting topic in the comments section with his objection to Christian author and Biblical scholar John Dominic Crossan...
I saw you own a book by John Dominic Crossan. No wonder your personal expressions of Christianity are so incoherent and delusional! Do you, as does Crossan, believe that Jesus was not bodily resurrected, but that his dead body was scattered by foraging wolves?
To which I caddishly responded:
I do find Crossan’s works interesting and worth reading. Is your faith so weak that it requires proof of a physical resurrection to maintain?
Only to have Mark shoot back...
You have it backward. The weak in faith is Crossan, who, because he can find no physical “proof” of the resurrection, resorts to baseless speculation about wild dogs dragging the body away.
So I think this exchange raises an interesting question about faith and Christianity. What does it mean to have “faith” in Christianity? Must one accept without question all of the Biblical stories of miracles and resurrections to be a faithful Christian? Or is it more important that one embraces the actual teachings of Christ and apply them to ones own life. I have said before that I know several professed atheists who are better “Christians” in my opinion than many Christians I know. Why is it that most churches and most religious leaders seem to emphasize the miracles more than the teachings of Christ? Is it so hard to believe that God might have sent his son down to Earth to live as a real human? Why is it so important that he had to be some kind of super being who could walk on water, turn water into wine, cast out demons and raise the dead? If Jesus were to come back today, how many people would insist that he perform a miracle before they would follow him? I’m not saying that Jesus did not do these things. If he did, then that is great. I don’t have a problem with it. What I am saying is that my faith does not hinge on this belief. If someone could, for example, prove beyond a doubt that Jesus didn’t walk on water and that it was really just a Biblical metaphor, my faith in Jesus would not be shattered. But for many other professed Christians I can’t say that would be the case. That is why I say that they are weak in their faith. Is it not enough that Jesus taught us how to love one another, how to live in peace and to care for those less fortunate than ourselves? Is that not enough to base our faith on? Would enough people not worship Jesus unless they also thought of him as some kind of avenging superbeing ready to swoop down and defend the righteous and punish the wicked? Jesus was a teacher first and foremost. The church was set up to pass on that teaching. But along the way I think the teachings of Christ have been overshadowed and supplanted by all of this dogma about miracles. I think it is fine for one to say that Jesus died for our sins. But I think it is more important to learn what it was Jesus was here on Earth to teach us about and to apply that teaching to our everyday lives.
It's about time! I've complained about this for a long, long time. This rude behavior on the part of Republicans dates back at least to the Newt Gingrich era and the media, rather than correcting their intentional mistake, has more often than not repeated it in newscasts.
Inalienable right to redundancy and misattribution
Idiot Rush Limbaugh, the de facto leader of today’s Republican Party, gave a speech at the CPAC conference in which he butchered Thomas Jefferson’s famous Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness phrase and misattributed it to the preamble of the Constitution rather than to the Declaration of Independence. Here is what Limbaugh said:
We believe that the preamble to the Constitution contains an inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life. [Applause] Liberty, Freedom. [Applause] And the pursuit of happiness.
Jefferson didn’t include “freedom” in the list because it is considered synonymous to “liberty.” This is the kind of stupid mistake that Limbaugh would endlessly mock on his radio show if it was made by a liberal politician.
jobsanger discussed a couple of Supreme Court cases. The first case discussed in A Good Supreme Court Decision denied anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse the right to own a gun, and the second case discussed in The Right To Know The Penalties, which will be heard this Fall, will settle the matter of whether an immigrant defendant has a right to be informed of all penalties that could be imposed in his case -- including deportation.
Over at Texas Kaos the 2.7 trillion that Duyba forgot to mention as part of his deficit. As Libby tells it the bubble dwellers who should have been on top of this little detail weren't. "...The bubble dwellers don't know what is going on outside of their self-fixated bubble. Now I understand why President Obama leaves that nutty and toxic place when he wants to speak to real people..."