Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Republicans aren't reading their Bibles

Whether you're Christian or Jewish, God makes a pretty clear case against selfish ambition and hypocrisy in both testaments of the Bible.

Source: WMX Design
Remember Cain, the first man born on Earth? Cain was cursed by the Lord for killing his brother, but Cain's first sin (one always leads to another) was selfish ambition. While his brother, Abel, sacrificed the first-born of his flock, Cain offered only defiled fruit (the assumption being that he kept the good shit – probably the chocolate-covered strawberries – for himself.)

In the Gospel of John, when the scribes and Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman who'd been accused of adultery, they cited the law of Moses, which commanded that such a woman be stoned. Jesus said to them, "Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."

The morals of these stories are self-explanatory, but for those who aren't keeping up on their studies (I won't name names, yet), they are straightforward warnings against selfish ambition and hypocrisy.

Republicans would be wise to take note.

In last year's campaigns, Republicans ripped into Democrats for failing to perform one of Congress's most basic duties: providing money in a timely way for the operations of government. But Republicans acknowledged Thursday that they would miss the deadline they had promised to meet. They began to rush a stopgap spending bill through the House because, they said, Congress could not finish work on any of the 12 regular appropriations bills before the new fiscal year starts in two weeks, on Oct. 1... [T]he stopgap bill includes $3.65 billion in assistance for people affected by Hurricane Irene, wildfires, floods, tornadoes and other natural disasters. Of this amount, $1 billion would be offset by cutting a loan guarantee program for production of more fuel-efficient cars.

The obvious critique of GOP hypocrisy is that the same Republicans who "ripped Democrats" throughout the 2010 midterm campaign for not passing an appropriations bill on time suddenly are finding that they, too, are having a difficult time with such "basic" duties.

The greater hypocrisy, however, is that the same party that has been attacking President Obama and congressional Democrats for failing to stimulate job creation is now vying for cuts to an auto industry that just recently returned to the black"

Democrats and an auto industry expert warn the funds [Republicans] picked to pay for disaster aid is currently supporting a successful program that has pulled manufacturing jobs back from other countries and helped keep the industry alive around the eastern Midwest. Taking the money away would jeopardize that program.

Though I'm no theologian, I don't think there's anything in the Bible saying idiots don't get into heaven. That said, I bet if the Pope picked up the big red phone on his nightstand and gave the Man Upstairs a ring, He'd relay a reminder to the masses that while ignorance is not sinful, willful idiocy is definitely frowned upon.

Rep. Eric Cantor, Republican of Virginia,
House Majority Leader, Big Oil Toady
Fuel-efficient cars are the future. Even your average NASCAR T-shirt-wearin', Budweiser drinkin', gun totin' Texan wouldn't mind paying a little less for gasoline – especially if it meant eliminating America's dependency on foreign oil.

The problem, of course, is corporate profits. Fuel-efficient cars burn less gasoline, gasoline is made from oil, and oil is a gold mine – a gold mine that donates heavily to the Republican Party.

So far in the 2011-12 election cycle, the oil and gas lobby already has contributed $4.5 million to the GOP (compared to $670,000 to the Democratic Party).

Just as the oil and gas lobby has a role in the fuel-efficiency debate, so too does the insurance industry play a role in the disaster relief debate.

When the majority leader of the United States House of Representatives – of the "people's house" of Congress – told us, "the people," the masses and the voting public, that the federal government will provide disaster relief only after Congress agrees on another round of spending cuts, some thought it was career suicide.

In a statement to the press after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit Virginia on August 24, Virginia congressman and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor admitted that "the federal government does have a role in situations like this," but just how immediate or significant that response should be was up to him and the rest of the Republicans in Congress.

"[T]hose monies will be offset with appropriate savings or cost-cutting elsewhere," he said. 

When I first read this, it seemed like just one more example of anti-government right-wingers trying to tarnish the image of the U.S. government in the eyes of the American people by setting up another politically divisive, partisan and months-long congressional battle over budget issues that not only will postpone financial assistance to communities, but which also will perpetuate the idea that the federal government is incompetent, unhelpful and, in turn, unnecessary.

Since then, I've been reminded of what the Roman poet Phaedrus said: "Things are not always what they seem."

It was a less-publicized statement by Cantor that provided context to his seemingly callous, heartless, and politically motivated words:

"Obviously," he said, "the problem is that people in Virginia don't have earthquake insurance."

Earthquake insurance!

A quick perusal of OpenSecrets.org shows that Cantor's biggest contributor in the 2011-12 election cycle is... AN INSURANCE COMPANY!

The guy who's fighting to cut investments in fuel-efficient cars is not only the sixth biggest recipient of oil and gas contributions this election cycle, he's also the third largest recipient of insurance contributions.

I won't make any accusations – that's sinful – but I will make the observation that the leader of the majority party in "the people's house" of Congress is acting exactly like a pitchman for the insurance industry and a profiteer for oil companies.

It appears this disaster relief / fuel-efficiency budget cut issue isn't just about conservatives and their fiscal hawkishness. It's about money.

When you get to the Pearly Gates, ye Republicans, and St. Peter asks about how you fought so ardently to cut American investments in resource- and money-saving technologies, how you hypocritically dismissed the experts who warned that such actions would result in the very elimination of both jobs and MADE in AMERICA goods that you campaigned on in 2010, how you chose politics over the rebuilding of your own communities, and how you did all of this because your selfish ambition for campaign donations from corporate lobbyists blinded you from the suffering of those whose homes and businesses were ravaged by disasters, what will be your defense?

(Being as you're not keeping up on your Bible studies, I'll warn you not to lie. That's sinful, too.)

(Cross-posted at Muddy Politics.)

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