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Posts Tagged ‘Republicans’

Republicans Can’t Be Christians — Sorry!

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 1, 2016

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-like-jesus-disciples_us_583e48d7e4b04fcaa4d5bd72?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-like-jesus-disciples_us_583e48d7e4b04fcaa4d5bd72?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

 

Oh, holy shit! If this doesn’t discredit ALL CHRISTIANS in everyone’s eyes, than what will? Trump a disciple of Jesus? Trump EVERY disciple of Jesus rolled into one? Are the Christians going totally insane now? At this point, with 81% of all white evangelicals having voted for Trump, it’s obvious to me that today’s Christians have sold out, have sold their souls to the Republican Party and to Fox News, do not care about Jesus or his teachings, especially about “love,” “the poor” and caring for them, loving your neighbor as yourself, treating everyone — including immigrants!!! — as equals (Remember the story of the Good Samaritan they always teach in church? Do the Christians ever learn anything from that, considering the Samaritan was from a group of unacceptable immigrant types Trump and his Christian/Republican friends would have thrown out of the country by now, showing their great Christian love and compassion?), about healing the sick — for free, dammit! — and healing the sick occurs a lot in the New Testament, but apparently Christians/Republicans must skip over those parts of the Bible … if they ever actually read their Bibles. What about believers of other religions? The Old Testament God would have had his Israelites go kill all of them. He was permanently pissed off, in a bad mood, and ready to kill everyone who was on his shit list. That’s why so many fundies like OT God. But see, I don’t believe in OT God. Not anymore. I was brought up to believe in him. I was brought up to “love” (hate) and fear (yep!) him. That’s how the “Church” controls you, controls the Christians in its clutches. But I threw that out the window decades ago. There’s no room in my life for brain washing, mind numbing, soul destroying bullshit like that. I feel that God, if there is a god — and I often wonder — created all people and if he does love people, he loves them all equally, no matter what their color, gender, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or anything else like that is. And I really think Jesus would support that. He said the most important commandment was to love your brother like yourself. He didn’t say white brother. He didn’t say straight brother. He didn’t say that person must definitely be a male. Yet, our wonderful Republican Christians pretty much hate all other religions, and if you go by Trump and his followers, and 81% of white Christians do, then they all hate Muslims especially, even though there are two billion of them in the world today. Hating two billion of God’s children is sure to make God proud of you, his personal representative on earth, showing the rest of us just how great it is to be a Christian and what a loving, tolerant religion it is. Not. Christians, I’m not convinced God would approve of you actively hating two billion of his children and acting to work against them in one way or another, at a minimum, to keep any of them from entering our country, a nation of immigrants, a nation where each and every one of our families have come from other countries through immigration, something we’re now trying to deny people of a different religion, and most of them a different ethnicity, just because they’re not white Christians and therefore not acceptable. I’m becoming more and more convinced that it is literally impossible to be a current Republican, especially a Trump Republican, and a true Christian at the same time. No true follower of Jesus and his teachings would ever endorse what Trump and the current Republican party stand for. They simply clash too much. Today’s Republicans stand for hatred, not love, helping the rich and hurting the poor, screwing the sick, starting or sustaining violence and wars, something Jesus symbolically taught Peter he wouldn’t have supported on the night of his arrest, Republican oppression of women, while it’s clear in the New Testament that some of the most important disciples to help Paul were women and the first people to be given knowledge and proof of a risen Jesus were women, Republican hatred, repression of and oppression of virtually all minorities, especially black people, while New Testament Christians had members of all races, including Jews, obviously, other Middle Easterners, Africans, Romans, Greeks and other Europeans, even Asians and apparently far Eastern people. Jesus welcomed people from all demographics. God made everyone, let’s not forget that. It seems that most of today’s Christians/Republicans have, unless he did it to create slaves for them? Cause I honestly don’t know what their thinking is regarding God’s motivation for creating minorities since they obviously hate, resent, repress, oppress, and abuse them so brutally and have for centuries. How do today’s Christians justify this? Cause I just read an article yesterday that basically said that it was white, rural, Christian, mostly poor voters who just put Trump in office, as well as many of these other Republican freaks who want to destroy the country and the world, and that pretty much every single one of them are white Christian racists, whether overt or not, as well as anti-education (did God tell us he wanted us to be stupid?), anti-“liberal,” (cause obviously *I’m* the bad guy here, right? Cause I’m an educated liberal “elite.” Shit. Pretty much every Republican political leader has an impressive college education. Trump has an Ivy League education!). But I’m getting off topic. Today’s Republicans can’t be Christians because they all want revenge and vengeance for everything. Long jail terms! Stiffer prison sentences! Three strikes! Death penalty! Hell yeah! Oh, what did the Bible say? Vengeance is mine says the Lord? Judge not lest ye be judged? I often wonder if today’s Christians have ever read the Bible. My bet is, maybe a few Psalms, some books of the Old Testament, cause God is pretty pissed there and a pissed God is pretty rad. Maybe a couple of key New Testament verses. Not much else. Of course they’ve all had Sodom and Gomorrah drilled into their heads all their lives, so they hate gays more than anything on earth, homosexuality, the controversial and debatable alleged sin in Sodom thought of as the abominable sin. But do they ever stop to think about how many times Jesus mentioned homosexuality in his teachings? Zero. Never. Paul did. A couple of times.Paul was somewhat sex obsessed. Paul had issues, IMO. Jesus never brought it up. Also, how many times did Jesus condemn abortion, the other major Christian topic of hatred? Zero. None. Never mentioned it. It is mentioned in the Bible, I believe, although I’m willing to be wrong on that, but the Jews had/have an interesting take on things like that and things like the question of when does life begin. Republican Christians have been fighting for decades to get the courts to make it the law of the land that life begins at conception. But that’s not what Jews God’s chosen people, believe. And remember, they base ALL of their religious/moral/ethical beliefs on what is written in the Torah/Old Testament, etc. Jews believe life does not begin until a baby is actually born, has come out of its mother’s body and has taken its first breath on its own. With that first breath on its own, life has then begun for that baby. And not a moment before. Think about that. Jesus wasn’t a Christian. They didn’t exist at the time, obviously, and he didn’t come to earth to start a new religion anyway. Paul founded the Christian religion, based in large part on the teachings of Jesus. But Jesus had nothing to do with it himself. He was a practicing Jew. He worshiped in the synagogue on Shabbat. Thus, he would have shared this belief. For Jesus, life would have begun at birth, not conception. Therefore, abortion is acceptable to Jews. It always has been. I’m no religious historian, but I’m under the impression that this stance dates back centuries, possibly and probably pre-dating Jesus. If so, he would have known of this Jewish stance on abortion and since he never once mentioned it or certainly spoke out on it, it’s safe to assume he agreed with it and endorsed it. My point is that at a minimum, topics like helping the poor (the most frequent topic Jesus ever spoke about), taking care of the sick and the helpless, healing others, PAYING TAXES!, praying, faith, giving one’s wealth, riches, and possessions away to follow God, having the right priorities, forgiveness, peace, doing away with religious hypocrites (like current Republican Christians), and compassion were all infinitely more important to him and his teachings and followers than trendy conservative Christian hot topics like homosexuality and abortion, as well as many other current Christian topics that I don’t think represent Jesus or his teachings.

An aside. Not a day goes by when I don’t hear some quote or two coming from that absolute insane “Christian” leader, Pat Robertson. I think if there was ever a famous public figure claiming to represent God in current times who consistently just gets it WRONG every single damn time, it’s him. For decades, he has advocated conspiracy theories of all types, no matter how crazy. He has called for our country to assassinate another countries’ leaders. (Seriously??? WWJD? Does he really think Jesus would approve of that? If so, why? Where in the Bible did he get that idea?)  He has called for violence against abortion doctors, for overt sustained discrimination against gays, crying out for Christian backlash to the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing gay marriage. He constantly makes pronouncements like God is going to destroy America because we allow homosexuals to marry or God’s going to allow one country or another to attack or invade America as a way of punishing us for our love of gays or every time there’s a natural disaster, such as Katrina, Robertson’s on TV announcing it’s God’s judgement on America for one sin or another and oh yeah, this is great, every time there’s a mass shooting, he’s right there on TV doing God’s will, blaming it on America’s failing morals, how we don’t pray in schools anymore – – I can see Republican God getting so pissed off at no prayer in schools that he sends gunmen to schools across America for mass shootings to pay back the damn liberals running this country, even though it’s a Republican Congress, a conservative Supreme Court, a mostly Republican country in terms of Red states and governors, etc. Yeah, it’s the damn liberals in charge. You know, the same ones who can never pass common sense gun laws that might stop these sorts of things and save dozens of lives because powerful groups like the Christian Republican NRA and its politicians all over the country constantly block any law of any sort from ever passing that would ever help save lives and stop mass shootings. Cause Republican Christians know that Jesus would undoubtedly carry an AR15 with him if he were around today. One of his dozens of guns he would own. The fact that he was unarmed while alive and told his followers to put their weapons away when he was threatened apparently is meaningless to these people. Jesus was not a passivist. He would kick ass and take names!  — Anyway, Robertson. An example to America, at least the rest of us, of what today’s Republican Christians are and have become over the years — crazy, violent, hateful, intolerant, bigoted, spiteful, vindictive, mean spirited, and someone who shows no desire to follow Jesus’s teachings to care for the poor, to feed them, to heal them, to care for them, cause Obamacare is obviously of the devil himself since a black Democratic president came up with it, even though it was originally inspired by rich, white, religious Republican governor with great success. That doesn’t matter, because the president who made it a national program and law is a Democrat and, even worse, black. Therefore, it’s evil and must be repealed. Even though it pretty much does what Jesus called for us to do. That’s secondary. There are more important things at stake here. To Robertson and his ilk.

Anyway, Jesus did mention feeding and caring for the poor dozens and dozens of times though. And he did mention how hard it would be for rich people to get into heaven. Like practically impossible. Which makes me feel pretty good about Trump’s ultimate destination. And Robertson. And all other well off Christian Republicans. Cause although they’re convinced they know where they’re going when they die, I’ve got a pretty good idea they’ll end up surprised. Cause I don’t view them as Christians. And I don’t think God does either. In the end, it will be Jesus who will say, “Get away from me. I don’t know you.” New Testament, by the way. In case you’re a Christian. I assume you haven’t read that part of the Bible, since it’s not about getting rich or hating people or attacking our enemies or hurting as many people as we can. Yay Christians! Yay Republicans! Enjoy each other’s company. In hell.

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5 Verses about the Poor We Need to Take Seriously | Jayson D. Bradley

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 5, 2013

5 Verses about the Poor We Need to Take Seriously | Jayson D. Bradley.

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Things

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 4, 2013

Just a few things. I’m sorry I haven’t updated in awhile. Not too much has been going on for me personally, and I’m in the middle of three very large books, so I haven’t been able to write a book review for awhile. However, I’m nearly done with one (finally!), so hopefully a book review will be coming.

This past Tuesday was the nine week anniversary of Dad’s death. I’m still in a state of shock, I guess. I just still can’t believe he is gone. He was fit. He was healthy. He was mowing my yard while I was at a meeting when he collapsed and died. I was there to witness it. I tried to save him, but failed. I feel sick about it. My therapist wants me to go to a grief support group. It started this week, so I’ve missed one meeting. I don’t know. I think I’m doing pretty well, considering, but I may give them a call today to find out more about it.

My wife has a bad knee, meanwhile. We think she hurt it playing racquetball with me about a month ago. It’s been increasingly bad and she can barely walk. We took her to the doctor a couple of days ago and he thinks it’s a tear in her tendon. She’s going to have to get x-rays. I don’t know what comes next. She actually doesn’t have insurance and is dying to get signed up for Obamacare, which seems promising to us, but she hasn’t been able to access the site at all, so that’s been frustrating.

I’m currently upgrading my iPhone to iOS7. I have mixed feelings about this because Gretchen did this on the first day of its release and it completely wiped her phone. She had to start from the factory settings and start all over, getting new apps and everything. It was a complete disaster. That said, she tried again a couple of days later and it worked and she seems happy with it, so I’m giving it a try — with misgivings. I can’t afford to have my phone wiped. My whole life is on there — my diaries, my many contacts, my medical records, all sorts of stuff. I’m also annoyed that I had to delete dozens of albums and hundreds of pictures to free up 3 GB of space for the download. That seems more like Microsoft bloatware to me…. Well, here’s hoping….

I’ve discovered I’m lactose intolerant. That really sucks! I’d been having gastric problems for over two months. They flared up almost immediately upon my finishing lunch and continued for the remainder of the day. I went on two antibiotics twice, but that didn’t really help very much. Finally, I caved and went to a gastro specialist. I had a theory that I posited to the doctor, and she recommended I do what I’m doing. I really think it was the yogurt I ate every day with lunch and the milk I was drinking and the tapioca pudding I’d have. I didn’t have problems until I consumed those, and then did afterwards. She told me to go off all dairy related products for a week and see what happens. I did, and everything went away and I cleared up in one day. I went a week and then had some ice cream one night, and they returned. So I’m lactose intolerant. How in the hell did that happen??? Now I’ve having to find lactose-alternative products. The yogurt is really high in carbs. The milk is pretty decent. You can find some good ice cream. The cheese really sucks. And on it goes. I guess this is a new lifestyle I’m going to have to get used to.

In sports, I’m not sure about my teams. The Steelers are the worst they’ve been in 45 years with an 0-4 record and they really, really suck. The Pirates, however, had a winning season and made the post-season for the first time in 21 years, which is really something to cheer about. However, last night St. Louis kicked their butts badly, so I don’t know how well we’ll do. My Penguins have goalie problems. Don’t know how we’ll do this year. My UT Vols are 3-2, with the two losses to ranked teams — Oregon and Florida. However, we have ranked Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama coming up, so it looks like we’ll be 3-5 by the end of the month. That blows. I really like the new coach and want him to succeed, but it looks like we’re going to have some growing pains.

Lately, I’ve been having to pay bills. That’s good and bad. It’s good to pay them, but it hurts to pay so much. I had to have $750 in car repairs too. I’m never buying a BMW again as long as I live.

I’m over this government shutdown. I attribute it ALL to the damn Republicans, who are holding the country hostage in their stupid attempt to repeal Obamacare — a LAW that was passed by Congress, signed by the president, upheld by the Supreme Court, and for whom Obama was elected for a second term while running against people who wanted to repeal it. Listen to the people, Congressmen! Damn Republicans. And they accuse the Dems. What gall! They’re truly despicable people. I will never vote for a Republican again as long as I live, and I was brought up a conservative Republican. That says a lot. They’re truly disgusting humans. What a waste. I hope they cave soon, so we can return to life as we know it.

Huh. It looks like my iPhone has updated while I’ve been writing this. It seems to have been successful. I’ve only opened a few apps, and things look like they’re still there. Oh, four of my apps are missing. *sigh* This new version looks very, very different from previous versions. It’s going to take me awhile to get used to. One thing — everything seems slower. The apps are taking longer to open. Oh well. I just checked out my space, though, and I’ve got more free space than when I started. I guess I can re-load some of my music on here. That’s good.

I guess that’s all for now. Book reviews coming soon. Cheers!

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A Senator’s Response re Toomey-Manchin

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 7, 2013

After the Toomey-Manchin amendment was voted down by our elected government officials even though polls showed that it had the support of over 90% of the US population, I emailed Tennessee’s US senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker (both Republicans), to express my disdain for their vote. I tried to send messages shaming them into admitting they were in the pockets of the NRA. I finally heard back from one: Bob Corker. Here is his message in its entirety. The staffer who wrote this was quite good. Notice the excuses framed as looking out for rights of rural people, etc., et al. It’s truly disgusting.

___________________________________________________________________

Dear Mr. Holstad,

Thank you for taking the time to contact my office to share your views about gun control legislation. Your input is important to me, and I appreciate the time you took to share your thoughts.

The right to own firearms for self-defense, and for other familiar purposes with my family and friends, is important to me as a Tennessean and as an American.  It has been a tremendous honor to be given the opportunity by Tennesseans to weigh in on their behalf during such a critical time in our history as the Supreme Court has since provided great advances in securing the Second Amendment as a fundamental tenet of American liberty.

That said, what happened last month in the Senate cannot be satisfying to anyone. We spent the balance of a week debating the Toomey-Manchin amendment that, if enacted, would have had no effect on preventing the tragedies in Connecticut, in Colorado, in Arizona, or in many of the other recent mass killings, and would not have addressed the more critical issues involved in preventing that type of violence in the future.

When it comes to the many challenges facing parents, law enforcement, and our judicial system dealing with violent mentally ill people in our society, the inability to respond before violence occurs is a frustration widely known by communities across our country.  The vast majority of Americans are rightly concerned that, without action, their community will suffer the consequences of this volatile status quo and be home to the next mass killing.

On mental health, there are three legs to the stool that need to be propped up.  The first is ensuring that we are identifying those in our community that are dealing with mental illness and getting them to appropriate resources.  Next, we need to confront the legal impediments and ambiguities that exist at the state and federal level to ensure that those that pose a danger to themselves or others can be dealt with in a way that ensures due process, but that also ensures necessary treatment is provided while clearly establishing when an individual becomes a prohibited gun owner.  Finally, we need to work with states to ensure that the records of prohibited purchasers are reliably and efficiently added to the background check database.

A related problem is that only a very small fraction of all prohibited individuals attempting to illegally purchase firearms in Tennessee are actually prosecuted. I supported the Grassley amendment to help correct this gap in enforcement by providing additional resources for law enforcement and beefing up penalties for prohibited purchasers and those who facilitate illegal firearms transfers.

I think most Tennesseans believe, like I do, that we also should be improving background checks in a way that allows fast and accurate checks to be easily performed by law-abiding citizens, and that prevents criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from obtaining firearms, while at the same time ensuring that Second Amendment rights are not infringed upon.

However, the Toomey-Manchin amendment went too far in infringing Second Amendment rights and I opposed it for two main reasons. First, the amendment did not provide certainty about which firearms transfers required a background check and which didn’t. By failing to clearly state which transfers would become illegal, Americans would not have the notice they need to be able to avoid running afoul of federal criminal law and would likely face selective prosecutions. None of us should want to put law enforcement in a position where they can pick and choose what actions are criminal.

Second, the amendment required that firearm transfers between two private individuals be conducted through a licensed firearms dealer.  I believe asking Americans to find and travel to a willing gun dealer and to pay an unknown, but potentially not insignificant, fee would lead to negative outcomes. It would substantially burden the exercise of a fundamental constitutional right, which would in turn discourage transfers from occurring within the background check system, resulting largely in over-criminalizing law abiding people. Particularly in rural areas, it was impossible to predict how far individuals may have to travel to find a dealer willing to perform this type of transfer, let alone how much they might be charged for the service.

These issues are complex and implicate our most fundamental constitutional rights of personal liberty and self-defense.  Unfortunately, a single amendment became the litmus test for determining who wanted to prevent the type of violence that has shocked our conscience, and last month’s debate was cut short before real solutions that respected the Second Amendment could be considered.  We owe it to all those who value our responsibilities toward the mentally ill, the safety of our communities, and the Second Amendment to get this right.

Thank you again for your letter. I hope you will continue to share your thoughts with me.

Sincerely,

Bob Corker
United States Senator

___________________________________________________________________

So that’s it. What do you think? Imagine, infringing on the rights of rural people to sell their guns in an effort to save lives. Wouldn’t want to do that, would we? Cause those rural people REALLY need to sell each other their guns. What a crock! And I’m so sick of blaming the mentally ill. I’d love to know how many gun homicides are committed by the so-called mentally ill each year versus “normal” people. Anyone got any stats? Considering there are over 30,000 violent gun deaths each year in the US, far and away more than any other country, I’d love to know how many are committed by the mentally ill. I doubt it’s many. Sure, they get the high profile mass slaughters, and it’s accurate to assign blame, but are the gang members in Chicago and L.A. mentally ill or just messed up individuals who need to be locked up? I’m sick of seeing the mentally ill blamed. That’s an NRA cop out, an easy excuse for them. They’re the truly bad people to blame, or at least their leadership is. And they claim to be patriots. It’s disgusting. WHAT’S SO DAMN HARMFUL ABOUT UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS???

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50 Reasons You Despised George W. Bush’s Presidency: A Reminder on the Day of His Presidential Library Dedication

Posted by Scott Holstad on April 25, 2013

50 Reasons You Despised George W. Bush’s Presidency: A Reminder on the Day of His Presidential Library Dedication | Alternet.

This is a truly excellent list and it’s spot on. Read and remember!

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Senate rejects expanded gun background checks – CNN.com

Posted by Scott Holstad on April 17, 2013

Senate rejects expanded gun background checks – CNN.com.

It’s ever so nice to know we have the NRA looking out for our rights to get slaughtered in cold blood by assault weapons. The next time there’s a massacre, and there will be one, I’m writing every NRA official and congressman I can think of to personally assign blame for the blood of the victims. The NRA is vile and so are the politicians that support them.

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Guess What? The Debt Everyone Is Freaking Out About Does Not Exist

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 28, 2013

Guess What? The Debt Everyone Is Freaking Out About Does Not Exist | Alternet.

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A Review of The Survivor

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 20, 2013

The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White HouseThe Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House by John Furby Harris

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I hate this book and I despise the author. I couldn’t believe, when looking through the Goodreads reviews, how many people call this book “balanced.” I think it’s anything but. I think it’s a hatchet job on a great man, Bill Clinton, my favorite president of all time. I admit to being biased, but I’ve read several Clinton books and none were as unflattering as this one. I couldn’t even finish it! I couldn’t even get past the second chapter! Virtually every page is stocked with loaded language designed to make the reader look down on Clinton (and his wife). Examples:

Page X: He talks about Clinton’s “capacity for drama” and his “usual … swirling cloud of last-minute chaos and indecision.”

Page XI: “Hillary Rodham Clinton … hovered over the proceedings with the discerning eye of the corporate lawyer she was.” Harris makes her out to be a Dick Cheney-like character.

Page XII: In discussing Paul Begala’s first meeting with Clinton, Harris writes “In his crush, however, he kept enough detachment to contemplate that the session had been a put-on, and what seemed like a wonderfully guileless performance actually had been a more sophisticated brand of artifice.”

Pages XIV and XV: In describing Clinton’s politics as “defensive” and his knowledge of this a very conscious one, Harris writes “Certainly he understood, with occasional remedial courses required….” Like he’s stupid…. Later, his (Arkansas) opponent “portrayed him, not unfairly, as an arrogant and unseasoned young man who was out of step with his constituents.” Harris goes on to talk some more about Clinton’s alleged “women problem.” It makes me ill.

On page XVI, Clinton is described as “maddeningly noncommittal.”

On page XVII, Harris really goes for it. He plunges right in by writing, “his marriage to Hillary Clinton was said to be in turmoil…. He was a man of vagrant sexual appetites. Every political operative or journalist with even a passing knowledge of Clinton knew it.” What a crock! Even with all of the right wing-founded rumors about Clinton’s alleged infidelities, the only one that ever had any proof associated with in was the Monica scandal. In his book, My Life, Clinton denies any involvement with Flowers or Jones and I believe him. There’s no proof anywhere. This author is stooping to tabloid journalism by bringing it up in the introduction!

On page XVIII, he “bristled over the scrutiny,” while somehow showing “indifference to the rumors.” Contradict yourself much, Harris?

The author then goes on to deride Clinton’s intelligence by writing that Hillary “was his equal or superior in intelligence” and he talks about their marriage as a “partnership” and not one based on love. Does this guy have a bone to pick or what?

On page XX!, Harris writes “Traits that would be regarded as emotionally unhealthy by conventional standards — a desperate need for human contact, or a heedlessness about persona risk — were in Clinton’s case political assets of great utility.” Later, on his intelligence again: “Yes, he was smart, but no smarter than many other politicians of his generation.” Seriously? Every book I’ve ever read about Clinton, right or left, has lauded his intelligence! The man is brilliant. Holy crap — who does this Harris guy think he is? What an asshole!

Harris shows Clinton plotting left and right while being naive at the same time. Honestly, I can’t read this book without getting violently angry. I made it to page 12 and that’s the furthest I’m going. I had high hopes for this book because of good reviews, but I’m sorry I wasted good — and a lot of — money on this stupid book. Definitely not recommended for anyone who admires the Clintons.

View all my reviews

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A Review of The Three Trillion Dollar War

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 15, 2013

The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq ConflictThe Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict by Joseph E. Stiglitz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Three Trillion Dollar War is a wake up call for all Americans, or at least it should be. Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel winner in Economics, and his colleague Linda Bilmes, make a compelling statistical and even conservative estimate of the cost of the Iraq war, with some Afghanistan information thrown in for good measure. It’s truly startling. To be upfront about things, they are extremely critical of the Bush administration for getting us into this disaster, so they’re probably left of center, but that can’t diminish the actual statistics. First things first, though. They write on page 55 that “There is a simple message of this book… there is no free lunch, and there are no free wars. In one way or another, we will pay these bills.” Yep, that’s what you get for borrowing to fund an unnecessary war. Brilliant.

The authors work with a best case scenario and a “realistic” scenario in everything they do. In discussing the realistic cost to the lifetime treatment of the VA for disabled veterans, one of the war’s largest expenses, they argue that medical costs to veterans “will be $285 billion, $388 in disability benefits, and $44 billion in Social Security compensation, bringing the total long-term cost to the US government to $717 billion.” Quite a ways off from the original $50 billion figure throw out by Bush for the total cost of the war.

Another expense — using the National Guard and Reserve.

“‘The high use of the National Guard for federal overseas missions has reduced equipment available for its state-led domestic missions, at the same time it faces an expanded array of threats at home.’ … THE GAO estimates that as much as 44 percent of [their] equipment now needs servicing or replacement [as of 2007].

The full economic costs of the National Guard and Reserve deployment are thus far greater than any difference between what these individuals were paid and what they would have otherwise produced. When they are deployed overseas, we lose, of course, the enormously valuable services they provide in an emergency….”

The authors try to discuss the economic cost to the country what the loss of these veterans mean, as well as family members who have to quit their jobs to care for their disabled loved ones. One more severely wounded veteran is one more individual who cannot contribute to this country’s economy.

Replacing military equipment, as just indicated, is another cost of the war, since the military burned through equipment six times faster than when at peacetime.

In the “Macroeconomic Effects of the Conflicts” chapter, the authors argue that wars are actually bad — not good – for the economy. Further, “the numbers are staggering…. the total for Iraq is more than $4 trillion; including Afghanistan, it increases to $5 trillion.” Without interest. Stunning.

Not only are there costs to the US, but there are costs to Iraq and the rest of the world, which the authors address. They cite a Johns Hopkins study that, as of July 2006, put the increase in Iraqi fatalities at 654,965 and estimated that by March 2010, it will exceed one million. They then “conservatively” project two million injured. Honestly, Bush should be tried for crimes against humanity for the evils he was guilty of in starting and running this BS, unnecessary war that was originally begun with lies and deceit. Of course, the rest of the world started to take a hard look at America, and a Pew Survey “showed that in every country surveyed, the US presence in Iraq was viewed as a greater threat to world peace than North Korea. In short, all over the world, the United States was viewed as a greater danger than the countries President Bush included in his ‘axis of evil’.” Perhaps even worse,

“While we were focusing on weapons of mass destruction that did not exist in Iraq, North Korea acquired such weapons. Many analysts believe that our distraction in Iraq not only provided North Korea with an opportunity, which it seized, but that we provided North Korea with strong incentives: once it acquired these weapons, it would be more difficult for America to launch an attack…. Similarly, our willingness to strike preemptively against Iraq has delivered a clear message to Iran: the best way to deter US military intervention is to develop a nuclear deterrent. Indeed, many analysts have concluded that the primary beneficiary of US action in Iraq has been Iran, which is in a stronger geopolitical position than it has been for a long time.”

The authors are also quite hard on the use of contractors in Iraq and the ensuing expenses of such contractors. War profiteering it’s called. They finally argue that oil is the primary reason behind the war. “Oil has been at the center of the war from the onset. Many believe we went to war to get an assured supply of inexpensive oil for the United States and its oil companies.” Of course, the price of oil went from $25 a barrel pre-war to over $100 a barrel in 2007, right about the time the book was published. Pretty amazing. They quote Larry Lindsey, head of Bush’s National Economic Council, as saying that “The successful prosecution of the war would be good for the economy” and Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, as saying “If Saddam Hussein had been head of Iraq and there was no oil under those sands, our response to him would not have been as strong as it was in the first Gulf War.”

In the final chapter on methodologies used to find the figures in the book, the authors write,

“Virtually all economists are agreed on two propositions. The first is that there is no such thing as a free lunch: While the Bush administration may have tried to persuade the American people that it could fight a war without any economic sacrifices, economists know otherwise. The second is that because Bush tried to fight the war without increasing taxes, the Iraq war has displaced private investment and/or government expenditures, including investments in infrastructure, R&D, and education; they are less than the would otherwise have been. The result is that the economy’s future potential and actual output over the long term will be lower….”

This is a really comprehensive book that I could only briefly address without re-writing it word for word. At times, it’s boring, but it’s also startling in the information it conveys and the seriousness of such information. We’re going to be paying for this war for generations to come, and Bush never took that into account, especially as he lowered taxes while spending unbelievable amounts on this stupid war. I hate that man (and Cheney too). They destroyed this country, they destroyed the good that Clinton did, and they’re not being held accountable, which I think is a crime in itself. And Romney wanted to invade Iran. Why are Republicans so damn stupid? War hawks! This book should be a must read for every American who wants to be fully informed about the actual costs of the Iraq war and what it means for our country, now and in the future. Seriously recommended.
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A Review of My Life by Bill Clinton

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 13, 2013

My LifeMy Life by Bill Clinton

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At nearly 1,000 pages, this book is a monster to read, but boy, am I glad I did! First of all, I love Bill Clinton, I’ve got to be honest. He was, is, and will always be my favorite president. That said, I was curious how he would describe his life and is on goings in the White House and before.

He starts with his childhood and writes an exhaustive account of his life up until Bush takes over for him. He spends a great deal of time early on discussing religion and his spirituality, both of which seem extremely important to him. (He’s Methodist.) He also spends a lot of time on the Vietnam War and his not going over to fight. He explains that he really struggled with that decision, and although I already knew this, he acknowledges that he joined the ROTC to fulfill his military duty before backing out to finish out his Fulbright scholarship at Oxford. He was plainly torn.

His description of meeting and courting Hillary is truly interesting, and it seems clear to me that he really does love her very much, as well as Chelsea. Both women are mentioned extensively in this book.

Clinton could have taken a lot of pot shots at the jerks who consistently attacked him and tried to ruin his life ever since he was elected governor of Arkansas, but he’s a bit of a gentleman and goes easy on most. He does display his scorn for Kenneth Starr, who in my opinion, is one of the most evil men of the twentieth century and who should burn in hell for the suffering he caused countless people. What a vindictive asshole! Clinton also does have some hard words to say about the hard Right, with whom he was constantly at war for the last six years of his presidency. It’s amazing to me still how much he was able to accomplish with all of the attacks on his character and presidency.

If you’re after juicy gossip, though, you won’t find it here. He denies any role with Flowers or Paula Jones and while admitting to the Monica disaster, he limits its inclusion in the book while apologizing to all for his poor decisions.

There are a couple of passages that really stood out for me. The first one reads,

“Although I would always regret what I had done wrong, I will go to my grave being proud of what I had fought for in the impeachment battle, my last great showdown with the forces I had opposed all of my life — those who defended the old order of racial discrimination and segregation in the South and played on the insecurities and fears of the white working class in which I grew up; who had opposed the women’s movement, the environmental movement, the gay-rights movement, and other efforts to expand our national community as assaults on the natural order; who believed government should be run for the benefit of powerful entrenched interests and favored tax cuts for the wealthy over health care and better education for children.”

Wow! Fast forward to 2013 and it doesn’t sound like much as changed, does it? The Republicans are still trying to oppose the very same things and advance the very same tired agenda.

Later, he writes about some of the things I loved about his presidency in writing about his 1999 State of the Union Address.

“My last State of the Union address was a joy to deliver. We had more then twenty million new jobs, the lowest unemployment rate and smallest welfare rolls in thirty years, the lowest crime rate in twenty-five years, the lowest poverty rate in twenty years, the smallest federal workforce in forty years, the first back-to-back surpluses in forty-two years, seven years of declining teen pregnancies and a 30 percent increase in adoptions, and 150,000 young people who had served in AmericCorps. Within a month we would have the longest economic expansion in American history, and by the end of the year we would have three consecutive surpluses for the first time in more than fifty years.”

Again, wow! And why did people hate such a wonderful president? Of course, the real tragedy is Bush came in and decimated everything, rolling back social expansions, international friendships, and financial gains and starting a three TRILLION dollar war in Iraq (I’m reading on a book on this right now) we couldn’t pay for and had to borrow to finance, thus practically bankrupting the country for years to come. Bush needs to be tried for crimes against humanity for what he did to hundreds of thousands of civilians in Iraq in his deceitful and failed attempts to establish democracy and control oil. If only Clinton were back in office. Obama is better than having the far right Republicans in office, certainly, but he’s no Clinton. Perhaps Hillary will save us in 2016. One can only hope. This was a fascinating book to read and if you’re not too frightened by its size and want to learn about American politics in the 1990s, it’s a great book to read. I strongly recommend it.

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