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A Leap of Faith
August 15, 2011 4:51 PM   Subscribe

Ryan Lizza profiles Michele Bachmann for the New Yorker. Of special note is the in-depth look into the of her political and theological conservatism.
posted by graphnerd (130 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ryan Lizza on Fresh Air.
posted by Lutoslawski at 4:54 PM on August 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Why doesn't it seem to matter to Republicans that she's clearly insane?
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 4:55 PM on August 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


Sick of election season already.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:56 PM on August 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


It matters to Joe Scarborough.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:57 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sick of election season already.

Did it ever stop? I hadn't noticed.
posted by milarepa at 4:57 PM on August 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Why doesn't it seem to matter to Republicans that she's clearly insane?

She's crazy about the right things and in the right ways.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:58 PM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am 99% certain she is not actually insane. If you assume that the vast majority of things conservatives do is intended to annoy liberals and get them to fume and sputter with indignation, they troll liberals if you will, everything she does suddenly makes sense.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:01 PM on August 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Needs more Rushdoony.

Seriously, Bachmann's religious conservatism is very, very R. J. Rushdoony-esque, but for some reason this article is all about Schaeffer. Maybe because Schaeffer is marginally better-known?
posted by gurple at 5:07 PM on August 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Marcus Bachmann plopped down on the seat next to me, in the back of the plane. He pointed at my laptop and asked if he could take a look. “All I want to know is what they’re saying about me,” he said. “Newsweek came up with the word ‘silver fox.’ Tell me what ‘silver fox’ means.”

“Do you want me to tell you honestly?” I asked.

“Oh, don’t tell me it’s something gay!” he said. “Because I’ve been called that before.”
Ug. I cannot believe millions of people want to put these two in the White House.
posted by notion at 5:10 PM on August 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


A good read. It's completely unsurprising to read who Bachmann's influences are.

If you want to read more about Schaeffer and Rushdoony—as well as the genesis of the fundamentalist Christian/Republican love-fest—check out Republican Gomorrah by Max Blumenthal.
posted by defenestration at 5:16 PM on August 15, 2011


Why doesn't it seem to matter to Republicans that she's clearly insane?
On the contrary - it matters very much to them. The question, rather, is why does it matter to them in a positive way.
posted by Flunkie at 5:19 PM on August 15, 2011


Dear everyone -- if you don't like it, flag it and move on. You can do this for posts AND for comments, isn't that great?
posted by palomar at 5:23 PM on August 15, 2011


Michele Bachmann: Crazy Like a Fox. She won the Ames straw poll on Saturday and is the clear favorite to win the Iowa caucuses in January. There's a method to Michele Bachmann's madness.
posted by homunculus at 5:23 PM on August 15, 2011


I don't think that Palin and Bachmann are similar except on a surface level, actually. Palin is an essentially thoughtless egotist, fully convinced that she's right about whatever random words she found popping out of her mouth, despite not having ever thought about the topic before or even being able to repeat the same idea consistently. Bachmann, on the other hand, is a true believer.
posted by Flunkie at 5:25 PM on August 15, 2011 [23 favorites]


Why doesn't it seem to matter to Republicans that she's clearly insane?

It matters to Karl Rove.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:28 PM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


It might actually be a useful thing to understand

I commend you for this, but the thing is, you're going to be in the minority. These threads are more bicker & grar than discourse.
posted by Gator at 5:40 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can't we just copy all the 13,473 old Sarah Palin is the most evilly evil embodiment of all that's evil threads, find and replace her name with Michele Bachmann and repost them all en masse? It would save a lot of time and bickering.

Well, Sarah Palin is like Herman Cain, aptly personified by the Daily Show as the kitty with its head stuck in a tissue box. They're really too stupid to do much damage. They don't have coherent enough philosophies to get any moderate pull.

Bachmann, however, is smart enough to say horrible lies and then retract them. The True Believers only hear the horrible lies and clasp their wretched claws together with glee, while the more moderate end hears the retraction and blames liberal media bias.

As pointed out the the article, Bachmann's ideological influences include a man who believes the following:
Francis Schaeffer instructed his followers and students at L’Abri that the Bible was not just a book but “the total truth"... Sara Diamond, who has written several books about evangelical movements in America, has succinctly defined the philosophy that resulted from Schaeffer’s interpretation: “Christians, and Christians alone, are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns.”
This next bit is out of order, but important:
When, in 2005, the Minneapolis Star Tribune asked Bachmann what books she had read recently, she mentioned two: Ann Coulter’s “Treason,” a jeremiad that accuses liberals of lacking patriotism, and Pearcey’s “Total Truth,” which Bachmann told me was a “wonderful” book.
From the book:
[There may] be occasions when Christians are mistaken on some point while nonbelievers get it right. Nevertheless, the overall systems of thought constructed by nonbelievers will be false—for if the system is not built on Biblical truth, then it will be built on some other ultimate principle. Even individual truths will be seen through the distorting lens of a false world view.
And now straight from the horse's mouth:
That also was another profound influence on Marcus’s life and my life, because we understood that the God of the Bible isn’t just about Bible stories and about Bible knowledge, or about just church on Sunday. He is the Lord of all of life. Every bit of life, including sociology, theology, biology, politics. You name the area and walk of life. He is the Lord of life. And so, as we went back to our studies, we looked at studying in a completely different light. Not for the purpose of a career but for a purpose of wondering, How does this fit into creation? How does this fit into the code and all of life that is about to come in front of us? And so we had new eyes that were opened up as we understood life now from a Biblical world view.
This is solid evidence to me that if she feels that God has called upon her to push the big red button, she will indeed push the big red button, even if "misguided" secular advisors beg her not to. She will ignore everything except the voice in her head that she believes is God.

She needs to stay the fuck away from the big red button.
posted by notion at 5:41 PM on August 15, 2011 [54 favorites]


I really can't recommend that Fresh Air hour enough. It's a conversation about these matters while the New Yorker article is a lecture. Terry Gross asks the right questions and the answers are lucid and well explained. If you don't have time to listen, read the transcript.
posted by hippybear at 5:49 PM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bachmann represents all of the lost Republicans who don't have any money to protect, but who think of themselves a millionaires by noon tomorrow. They fluff themselves by imagining that they own the nation, which exists for their personal beliefs. They are running on an breakaway platform born out of a financial collapse precipitated by their former policies, so denial and cognitive dissonance is thick, and rewriting history is necessary. So what it all boils down to is this: when a political position is anchored on fantasies, no compromise is ever necessary, because that's a pragmatic reality, and they don't have enough of reality to compromise with.
posted by Brian B. at 5:52 PM on August 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


hippybear, I just finished skimming the transcript and was struck by this exchange:

GROSS: So what's your take-away from having done this profile of Michele Bachmann? What did you learn about her that you didn't know before?

Mr. LIZZA: I understand her a little bit better. I think I understand her complete confidence in her own worldview, which she believes is grounded in the Bible. I understand how sometimes she is impervious to ideas and information that are sort of outside the bubble of her worldview, I understand where that comes from now. And I understand when she says something sort of that I might've thought just outrageous and, you know, and shook my head at, I understand intellectually and philosophically a little bit better where it's coming from.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:58 PM on August 15, 2011


Michele Bachmann is an unwitting sacrifice bunt play for the GOP. Or, more aptly, a rodeo clown - someone in bright colors and flamboyant motion who keeps the bulls busy while the cowboys make a safe exit. Being the absolute nutcase she is, she'll draw fire during the primary season and keep the heat off the eventual real nominee. She'll do the Huckabee thing for most of the primaries, then roughly before the convention when it's clear she doesn't have the delegates, she'll bow out on the premise that defeating Obama is goal #1 - she's young and realizes she can try again in 2020 or 2024. Once we get to the general, they'll have fundraising fliers out featuring some crazy shit Bill Maher said about Bachmann as proof that libruls can't be trusted.

She has no path to the nomination; all this media attention is as close as it gets to being a literal circus sideshow. Romney or GWB II will get the nod and appoint a safe choice like Mitch Daniels as VP. The Republican establishment has no desire to have another Palin situation on their hands.

I would love to be proven wrong on this.
posted by 0xFCAF at 5:59 PM on August 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


Someone asked this in the Ames straw poll thread, but I didn't see an answer.

Who was the last President elected directly from the House of Representatives?
posted by Trurl at 6:01 PM on August 15, 2011


That would be James Garfield, Trurl.
posted by 0xFCAF at 6:07 PM on August 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


she's young and realizes she can try again in 2020 or 2024
This assumes that she does not believe the Rapture will occur in the coming decade or so.
posted by Flunkie at 6:11 PM on August 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


If you want to read more about Schaeffer and Rushdoony—as well as the genesis of the fundamentalist Christian/Republican love-fest—check out Republican Gomorrah by Max Blumenthal.

There was also a pretty in-depth MeFi post about Schaeffer a couple of years ago with some interesting insights form his son, who's written quite a bit.
posted by verb at 6:16 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


One big difference between Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann: Bachmann wants to be President. Sarah Palin wants everyone to want her to be President.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 6:17 PM on August 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


Ms. Bachmann is not a qualified candidate so I won't vote for her, so please don't be alarmed.

This is solid evidence to me that if she feels that God has called upon her to push the big red button, she will indeed push the big red button, even if "misguided" secular advisors beg her not to. She will ignore everything except the voice in her head that she believes is God.

Not really solid evidence so much as true by definition, just as if she feels God called her to dismantle our nuclear arsenal she would likewise ignore secular advisors begging her not to. A complete red herring to distract from figuring out her actual policy.

Er, I mean, of course she'll nuke everyone, because I don't like her face on TV...
posted by michaelh at 6:20 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, I think a lot of us already realized Ms. Bachmann was running.

But thanks for pointing this out in case any of us missed it, and thanks for linking to this insightful analysis that reveals that she's a conservative.
posted by nangar at 6:28 PM on August 15, 2011


But thanks for pointing this out in case any of us missed it, and thanks for linking to this insightful analysis that reveals that she's a conservative.

The most surprising thing I learned was that she's 55.
posted by Trurl at 6:31 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3032608/vp/44136638#44136638

Bachmann's Meet The Press interview from this past Sunday. Check out the end where in dodging the question she all but says there is no place in her administration for anyone openly Gay.
posted by cashman at 6:35 PM on August 15, 2011


A complete red herring to distract from figuring out her actual policy.

She has said the USA shouldn't rule out nuking Iran.
posted by Hoopo at 6:52 PM on August 15, 2011


A complete red herring to distract from figuring out her actual policy.

So in addition to buying the Iowa straw poll, she is now paying folks to defend her on MeFi?

You are not arguing in good faith, here. And that is the generous interpretation.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:58 PM on August 15, 2011


Put differently: her policy track record is clear as fucking day. That is what I (and likely others) are ACTUALLY OBJECTING TO.

Please pay attention.
posted by joe lisboa at 6:59 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


thanks for linking to this insightful analysis that reveals that she's a conservative.
Did you read it? If so, this dismissiveness seems odd to me.

Bachmann explicitly endorses books that argue things like "slavery was based on mutual respect between the races". I would like to think that that's not de rigueur for modern conservatism. Are you saying it is?
posted by Flunkie at 7:00 PM on August 15, 2011 [13 favorites]


thanks for linking to this insightful analysis that reveals that she's a conservative.

You didn't actually read the piece, did you?
posted by hippybear at 7:03 PM on August 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


She has said the USA shouldn't rule out nuking Iran.

So did Hillary Clinton.
posted by Trurl at 7:13 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


This assumes that she does not believe the Rapture will occur in the coming decade or so.

Apparently, she does:

'Bachmann's worldview is infused with a sense of urgency driven by her religious beliefs—particularly the conviction that current events are helping to usher in the apocalypse. "We are in the last days," she said in 2006. "The harvest is at hand."'

An interesting question: does she believe that she has a role in it? Please note, this isn't even snark. The fact that I genuinely can't say either way just fascinates me.
posted by jaduncan at 7:21 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


So did Hillary Clinton.

holy crap, what is it with you guys down there?
posted by Hoopo at 7:22 PM on August 15, 2011


Someone should point out to the Dominionists that Jesus said "Render unto Ceasar..." not "Try to become Ceasar.". As I recall, he also said "My kingdom is not of this world."
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:37 PM on August 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


> thanks for linking to this insightful analysis that reveals that she's a conservative.

> You didn't actually read the piece, did you?


I was about one and a half pages in. It was a bit more interesting than I was expecting.
posted by nangar at 7:55 PM on August 15, 2011


So in addition to buying the Iowa straw poll, she is now paying folks to defend her on MeFi?

You are not arguing in good faith, here. And that is the generous interpretation.


I think you're out of line here. Make an argument, and don't accuse people of contributing comments in bad faith.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:13 PM on August 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Someone should point out to the Dominionists that Jesus said "Render unto Ceasar..." not "Try to become Ceasar.". As I recall, he also said "My kingdom is not of this world."

Their favorite TV network is where old men and women sitting on golden thrones tell them who to hate based on narrow interpretations of the Bible. They wouldn't know a Pharisee from Adam. Hell, almost none of them know that it's Yeshua and Yahweh/Jehovah, and judging from their stance on progressive taxation, they haven't even read and understood the sermon on the mount.

You can reason with a Christian who believes that the Bible is right, and that they may not understand it all. You can't reason with people who believe they are right, and dismiss any comment of yours because you have failed some imaginary test of faith and loyalty.
posted by notion at 8:15 PM on August 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


So in addition to buying the Iowa straw poll, she is now paying folks to defend her on MeFi?

You are not arguing in good faith, here. And that is the generous interpretation.

Put differently: her policy track record is clear as fucking day. That is what I (and likely others) are ACTUALLY OBJECTING TO.


If notion was actually objecting to Bachmann's policy (and she is warlike, undoubtedly), notion didn't have to speculate about what would happen if she thought that God wanted her to nuke Iran. There's just no need to make things up, and I was pointing out that anyone could say that God might tell her anything, good or bad, and any sort of advisor might agree or disagree. It's completely irrelevant illogic and leaves the people who believe it vulnerable to people who say the right magic words to them.

I know I nitpicked a bit but it was sincere.
posted by michaelh at 8:24 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


And to get to the nut of the issue, is it really a bad faith argument to dispute that there exists evidence that Michele Bachmann would overrule her less-religious advisors and initiate a nuclear war? If one falls on the "wrong" side of this argument, does it really mean that one is being paid by the Bachmann campaign? Sometimes it seems that "purity" tests aren't the exclusive domain of the far-right.

Let's dial it down a bit.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:25 PM on August 15, 2011


To Bachmann, it's her country; the Gays, non-Christians, atheists, liberals... we're all just visiting.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 9:05 PM on August 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think it's funny that some of these "Absolutists" should have adopted such certainty about their own beliefs. To me, this is the sort of thing that ought to lead to something like radical doubt. Seems like a kind of blasphemy (vanity at the least!) to suppose one's understanding aligned to divine truth (Truth or TRVTH however you wish it).
posted by wobh at 9:40 PM on August 15, 2011


There's just no need to make things up,

I speculate that Michele Bachmann would disagree with that. It's her raison d'etre, after all.
posted by blucevalo at 9:44 PM on August 15, 2011


I like that part where it mentions that she used to work for the I.R.S. I wonder if her tea party supporters where aware of that!
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 12:28 AM on August 16, 2011


As I recall, he also said "My kingdom is not of this world."

Not only that, according to the Gospel, in the wilderness, the devil actually tried to tempt him with the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and his answer was "Get thee hence, Satan."

I suspect that Bachmann would have given a different answer.
posted by Skeptic at 1:39 AM on August 16, 2011


We live in a sick country when people like Michelle Bachmann and Rick Peery are acceptable, and Russ Feingold and Alan Grayson are not.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:24 AM on August 16, 2011


We live in a sick country when people like Michelle Bachmann and Rick Peery are acceptable, and Russ Feingold and Alan Grayson are not.

Pfft. I thought we were watching a GOP primary - a primary in which not a single delegate has been awarded. If Bachmann or Perry ends up with a clear path to the nomination, you'll have the beginning of a point.
posted by BobbyVan at 5:33 AM on August 16, 2011


notion didn't have to speculate about what would happen if she thought that God wanted her to nuke Iran.

In the words of Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, “Is it irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to.”
posted by octobersurprise at 7:10 AM on August 16, 2011


Anyway, how much evidence exists to suggest that Bachmann wouldn't use a nuclear weapon if she believed it was her god's command? Very little, as far as I know. If she believes that God has set a domestic tax rate of 10%, then it's perfectly reasonable to wonder what other political demands her god makes of her.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:31 AM on August 16, 2011


It's funny to see how up-in-arms people get over her. Apparently there are people who don't realize that McCain got 59,934,814 votes *without the center* - which was presumably won over by Obama, who got 69,456,897.

That's right, SIXTY MILLION PEOPLE *actually* voted for a Republican candidate and his little troll-VP. Do you dismiss all of them as ignorant fanatics? Because when push comes to shove, winning an election (with the center) by 10 million votes is really not all that much.

Logic says the R and D columns pretty much balance out. Yet Republicans are routinely demonized as fanatics for having religious faith, conservative principles, and actually acting on their own beliefs.

I like Michelle Bachmann. Those of you worried about her politics should remember *every* president moves to the center upon election; *every* candidate riles up the base with extreme-ish talk, and she will be no exception.

I'd rather have this than a man whose spiritual advisor felt bellowing "God ---- America" was appropriate behaviour for a preacher or an American, myself.
posted by FunkyStar at 7:37 AM on August 16, 2011


and actually acting on their own beliefs.

So, Funky. Do you think Michelle would nuke Iran if she believed it was her god's command?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:48 AM on August 16, 2011


I like Michelle Bachmann. Those of you worried about her politics should remember *every* president moves to the center upon election; *every* candidate riles up the base with extreme-ish talk, and she will be no exception.

Sure. She's reasonable, informed, and honest.

posted by COBRA! at 7:50 AM on August 16, 2011


There's just no need to make things up, and I was pointing out that anyone could say that God might tell her anything, good or bad, and any sort of advisor might agree or disagree.

That's an excellent point. The reason it's germaine to a discussion of Bachmann's policy is that she seems to believe that good policy, good decisions, good society, and good government, flow directly from good spiritual belief. It's common -- quite common! -- for a political leader to say something along the lines of, "Personally, I believe X... but I believe that the law requires that we do Y or respect Z."

Michelle Bachmann does not believe that, and the political movement that she is a part of maintains that this kind of distinction is in fact the problem with our nation. Obviously, many people would, if they believed that an omnipotent deity spoke to them, do what the voice said.

The difference is that Bachmann and her fellow-travelers ascribe the weight of that omnipotent, omniscient deity's voice to the full range of their ideology, political positions, and beliefs. In addition, she and her fellow-travelers believe that said Voice is already casually giving them commands and hidden insights into the true nature of the world on a daily, hourly basis. The "God told me so" scenario is not a hypothetical, but a present reality. Given that, it is literally impossible to understand or anticipate Bachmann's policies without understanding her theology.



It's completely irrelevant illogic and leaves the people who believe it vulnerable to people who say the right magic words to them.

I'm confused. Are you describing Bachmann's willingness to do anything if she believes God told her to do it?
posted by verb at 7:58 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like that part where it mentions that she used to work for the I.R.S. I wonder if her tea party supporters where aware of that!

Everyone loves a conversion story.
posted by verb at 8:01 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like Michelle Bachmann. Those of you worried about her politics should remember *every* president moves to the center upon election; *every* candidate riles up the base with extreme-ish talk, and she will be no exception.

The thing is, Michele Bachmann has always been this way. She's not strategically tacking to the right to pick up primary voters. If anything, she's trying to disguise some of her more extreme positions (see her Meet the Press interview from Sunday) so that she isn't dismissed as a complete lunatic. I think the sooner the GOP dispenses with folks like Bachmann and Perry, the better chance they'll have at focusing the 2012 campaign on purely economic issues, where Obama is weak.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:09 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


FunkyStar: "Those of you worried about her politics should remember *every* president moves to the center upon election"

Were you asleep from 2000-2008? Or did the bridge block your view?
posted by notsnot at 8:12 AM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yet Republicans are routinely demonized as fanatics for having religious faith, conservative principles, and actually acting on their own beliefs.

Those poor Republicans, we really should repeal those laws that won't let them marry...
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 8:21 AM on August 16, 2011


and actually acting on their own beliefs.

As polished, packaged, and sold by Fox news 24 hours a day. The talking points distributed by that network become the beliefs of the Right even when it runs contrary to their own personal interests.

It's an unbelievably effective propaganda tool, and I think it speaks directly to the numbers we saw in the 2008 elections.
posted by quin at 8:37 AM on August 16, 2011


and actually acting on their own beliefs.

You know who else acted on his own beliefs?
posted by Grangousier at 8:48 AM on August 16, 2011


Pfft. I thought we were watching a GOP primary - a primary in which not a single delegate has been awarded. If Bachmann or Perry ends up with a clear path to the nomination, you'll have the beginning of a point.

Last time I looked, Bachmann and Perry were still employed in government. Feingold and Grayson were both pushed out by unknown-but-veeeeery-heavily-outside-financed wingnut TeaBaggers.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:51 AM on August 16, 2011


actually acting on their own beliefs.

Ted Kaczynski acted on his own beliefs.

Michele Bachmann is called a fanatic because she has fanatical, not merely conservative or even Christian conservative, beliefs.

*every* candidate riles up the base with extreme-ish talk, and she will be no exception.

In 2009, she urged Americans not to support the census (that is, until it was pointed out that she could lose her seat if they did that).

During the 2008 election season, she called Barack Obama anti-American and called for a McCarthy-esque investigation into "anti-American" views in Congress.

I could go on, but I'm supposed to be doing work.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:58 AM on August 16, 2011


OK, point taken.

But to pick some nits, Grayson had a huge fundraising advantage over Webster in their 2010 race. And Feingold ended up spending almost exactly the same amount as Johnson in their campaign.
posted by BobbyVan at 8:58 AM on August 16, 2011


Octobersurprise, doesn't matter...it wouldn't/won't be. It's an odd thing to set up a false dichotomy designed to make someone fail, isn't it? Either she's nukifying a country or disobeying God. The answer is that we all know it's not going to come to that. Have some common sense. :)
posted by FunkyStar at 9:18 AM on August 16, 2011


notsnot - I wasn't asleep during 2000-08. It's a perfect example of my point. GWB was a lot of things during that time, but he was most definitely not a radical right-winger. If anything, he moved too much to the center during the years he was elected. That's a huge reason why we have all this debt...his very very liberal attitude toward government spending.

I'd like a conservative to be an actual conservative - let the states have their rights, don't tax, don't spend money we don't have, don't dictate social policy, don't act as if government can and should solve all of society's problems, etc.

In spite of liking Michelle B ok, I think most conservatives (tea party and Mitt Romney included) bear little actual resemblance to conservative government, and am kind of tired of everyone being too-right or too-left.
posted by FunkyStar at 9:23 AM on August 16, 2011


Again, just want to point out there are at least 59 million people in the US who strongly disagree with you liberal shove-everything-down-peoples-throats-and-get-somebody-else-to-pay-for-it types. Interesting nobody had any comments about THAT.

It can't be that GWB won the election in 2000, paranoid weirdos have to trot out some stupid theory about him stealing an election. It just can't possibly be that THAT many people aren't liberals. And if it is, we'll dismiss them all as teabagging right-wing nutcases who just want to stomp on people who aren't as rich as them. Or call them bigots.

Because yeah, THAT IS INTELLIGENT DISCOURSE. Impressive!
posted by FunkyStar at 9:27 AM on August 16, 2011


Or call them bigots.

You know what, I'm actually really comfortable calling Michele Bachmann a bigot.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:32 AM on August 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Also, for the record, I'm not a fan of Dominionism. I don't believe it's biblical, and I am a biblical literalist (which is not what a lot of you Jesus-haters think it is).

I believe Dominionism rose out of a desire to inflict Christian morals onto a society that does not have Christian morals, and not only that, has absolutely no reason to embrace them. I have Christian morals because I follow Christ...I don't follow Christ because I have Christian morals. If you set up this perfect "Christian" government - whatever that is - all it will take is a stronger fanatical sect to overthrow it and then you've lost it all. Stupid idea and I don't want Sharia law imposed on me so I leave well enough alone on that.

What happens when you (as a Christian) begin to try to inflict your principles on everyone else is that you cloud the issue. People do not get saved because they are good people, and they don't go to hell because they behave in certain ways. But if you make the argument about morals, you cloud the issue into becoming one about morals instead of about what Jesus was actually doing on that cross 2000 years ago.

My particular church (which surely a lot of you would disagree with) does not, for that reason, preach about particular sin. It leaves you to wrestle with God about what you should and should not be doing as one of His followers. I think any lucid reading of the Bible necessitates this. Most things aren't forbidden in Scripture. Some Christians can't accept the idea that we are to listen to our conscience and make rules. That does not make them Biblical rules.

I don't like the hold Francis Schaeffer has on society, and I don't like that that's Michelle B's theory of government. But I do like her, and think she is a decent human, if a little overly political for me. I am hoping for a stronger Republican candidate than her next fall. By stronger, I mean better. :)

Anyway. Probably too much actual discussion for some of you, but there it is.
posted by FunkyStar at 9:41 AM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Again, just want to point out there are at least 59 million people in the US who strongly disagree with you liberal shove-everything-down-peoples-throats-and-get-somebody-else-to-pay-for-it types. Interesting nobody had any comments about THAT.

Who, exactly, is shoving what, exactly, down peoples' throats? And who is paying for it?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:52 AM on August 16, 2011


The answer is that we all know it's not going to come to that. Have some common sense.

None of us can say that it wouldn't come to that. I can't. You can't. If Bachmann believes that her god makes political demands on her (and on the rest of us)--and there is evidence she does believe that, including her own words, then "common sense" is useless. Certainly, "common sense" is helpless before the will of God. If Bachmann's god has a position on domestic tax rates or on the Defense of Marriage Act, then it is more than reasonable to ask about her god's position on nuking Iran.

you liberal shove-everything-down-peoples-throats

Why is it always with the shoving-down-the-throats?
posted by octobersurprise at 9:56 AM on August 16, 2011


I'd like a conservative to be an actual conservative - let the states have their rights, don't tax, don't spend money we don't have, don't dictate social policy, don't act as if government can and should solve all of society's problems, etc.

But no true Scotsman...
posted by ryoshu at 10:20 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyway. Probably too much actual discussion for some of you, but there it is.


Nothing like stimulating a discussion by trying to shut it down, but whatever.

But would you care to explain what you mean by Bachmann being too political for you?
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 10:21 AM on August 16, 2011


Interesting nobody had any comments about THAT. ... we'll dismiss them all as teabagging right-wing nutcases ... Because yeah, THAT IS INTELLIGENT DISCOURSE. Impressive! ... Probably too much actual discussion for some of you ... you liberal shove-everything-down-peoples-throats

You're not here for the hunting, are you?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:22 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


FunkyStar

These two points seem incongruous:

"If anything, he moved too much to the center during the years he was elected. That's a huge reason why we have all this debt...his very very liberal attitude toward government spending."

"I think most conservatives (tea party and Mitt Romney included) bear little actual resemblance to conservative government, and am kind of tired of everyone being too-right or too-left."

George Bush Jr. was too center, but everyone else is too far right or left? I think perhaps the terms you're using are not describing what you mean accurately.

Also, calling liberals shove-everything-down-peoples-throats-and-get-somebody-else-to-pay-for-it types is not helpful. The whole political system today seems set up to divide the country. Yes, this is a conservative nation (and a liberal one). We should be trying to find common ground between opposing points of view instead of digging in our heals and calling each other names.
posted by runcibleshaw at 10:31 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kathy Griffin Recounts Her Chance Encounter with Michele Bachmann
posted by homunculus at 10:44 AM on August 16, 2011


Again, just want to point out there are at least 59 million people in the US who strongly disagree with you liberal shove-everything-down-peoples-throats-and-get-somebody-else-to-pay-for-it types.

Actually, most of those 59 million people like the governmental social services just fine. If you ask people if they like Obamacare they tend to say "no". If you start asking them about the individual pieces of Obamacare then they like them just fine. They like Social Security. They like Medicare/Medicaid.

They you ask them how to pay for them and they start screaming about taxes being too high and waste and they never answer the damn question.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:49 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


people in the US who strongly disagree with you liberal shove-everything-down-peoples-throats-and-get-somebody-else-to-pay-for-it types.
...
Anyway. Probably too much actual discussion for some of you, but there it is.


Wow. I can see how you easily frustrated by a lack of discourse.
Not only is everyone else a horrible parodic reflection of your own partisanship, byt they are also mostly too dim to understand just how correct you are.

Please, try harder.
posted by Theta States at 11:33 AM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


runcibleshaw,

I quite agree.

Sorry for the confusion about GWB. My original point was that every president moves toward the center politically upon taking office...they have to. Somebody said GWB didn't, as if he was some right-wing radical on a bender to destroy America. I pointed out that his fiscal policy was probably too far over; instead of center, he adopted a lot of liberal philosophy about money and the economy and ran up our debt.

Clinton, OTOH, moved toward the center from his party ideals and balanced the dang budget. This was not because liberals were calling for a balanced budget or blood, by the way.

I would prefer centrist politicians at this stage. McCain is so far left he might as well be a liberal, but I thought he was the best choice for conservatism (I guess comparatively speaking with Obama, he is). Everybody running now has herded over to the far right side of the ship, and these idiots are going to sink it. :)

I do honestly believe that liberals do shove everything down people's throats, and usually want to spend more money than we have and ask people who are successful to pay for their programs. Social Security and Medicare aren't going anywhere and it's dishonest of the Democratic party to act as if they are threatened. It's also dishonest to say "tax cuts for the rich." Poor people don't pay taxes. The only people who pay taxes in this country are the rich people.

I would also like to find common ground. I am equally sick of everyone being too-right and too-left. The center is best for all of us. Reason has gone out of politics, more or less.
posted by FunkyStar at 11:58 AM on August 16, 2011


PostIronyIsNotAMyth,

I find Bachmann a little bit cutthroat. I know at this stage politicians are supposed to be out there revving up the base, but I wish she wasn't quite so enthusiastic about it.
posted by FunkyStar at 12:03 PM on August 16, 2011


octobersurprise,

Sorry for that turn of phrase, but I do feel the overarching philosophy of the Democrats is "government knows best." I am not all that keen on having them tell me what light bulbs I have to use. I do feel like they take every opportunity to shove another pet project at America and tell everyone they have to accept it or they are a bunch of idiot rednecks with no sense. I wish I didn't feel that way. I became disillusioned with voting D when Al Gore ran for President, and I'm even more so with our current President. The Democratic party forced me over to the R column. And I'm not very happy with them, either.

In fact, my biggest problem with the Republicans is also their messing around in the "government knows best" arena. I guess that makes me a Libertarian at heart. :)
posted by FunkyStar at 12:07 PM on August 16, 2011


The only people who pay taxes in this country are the rich people.

You can't be this appallingly ignorant and calling you a liar is rude, so I think I'll choose to believe you're trying to wind us all up.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:17 PM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would also like to find common ground.

You're doing a great job in reaching out. Great job.
posted by reynir at 12:18 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


What I've learned:

When Democrats balance the budget, they're being Conservatives.
When Republicans run a huge deficit, they're being Liberals.
posted by defenestration at 12:19 PM on August 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sorry for that turn of phrase, but I do feel the overarching philosophy of the Democrats is "government knows best." I am not all that keen on having them tell me what light bulbs I have to use.

If this is the political discourse down there, you're all fucked. Do talk show hosts seriously frame the entire ideology?
posted by Theta States at 12:30 PM on August 16, 2011


Pretty much. And if you squint a bit at some of the comments above, you'll see a handful of phrases pulled directly from those talking points I was mentioning earlier.

That the propaganda works has stopped amazing me, now I'm just in awe of how efficiently it disseminates.
posted by quin at 12:57 PM on August 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Democratic party forced me over to the R column.

Trust me, with your litany of talking points, it wasn't the Democratic Party that forced you anywhere.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 1:03 PM on August 16, 2011


I am not all that keen on having them tell me what light bulbs I have to use.

Signed into law by a Republican.

(Nevermind that that's not what the law actually does)
posted by dirigibleman at 1:05 PM on August 16, 2011


I am not all that keen on having them tell me what light bulbs I have to use.

I mean, this is seriously the whole "seatbelts are governmental tyranny" thing all over again. What else is a worthwhile example of how oppressed we are by a tyrannical government that is only doing these things to make us their slaves? Fuel standards? Chemical safety handling rules? Mercury limitations? Bans of automatic weapons on school property? Speed limits? Pesticide guidelines?
posted by Theta States at 1:20 PM on August 16, 2011


The only people who pay taxes in this country are the rich people.

On what fucking planet is this true? Get your head out of your ass and actually look at the numbers.
posted by PostIronyIsNotaMyth at 2:37 PM on August 16, 2011


FunkyStar, please stop using the word "shove" when you reference what democrats do. We happen to feel just as strongly about what republicans want to do to us, but it's a loaded and divisive word. It's also far right republican talking point phrasing, so it's going to make it hard to take anything you have to say seriously.

Both sides attempt to enforce their ideology, but Republicans tend to want to dictate personal liberty (sexuality and recreation in particular), while Liberals tend to want to dictate economic liberty. I, for one, am much more bothered by the former so I put up with the latter.

Government DOES know best some times. If The People had their way, we'd still have segregated schools and people would be able to keep coloreds out of their restaurants. It took government to get past that, and I'm thankful for it.
posted by flaterik at 3:12 PM on August 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


FunkyStar, can you explain your objections to regulations covering lightbulbs?

Do you not believe that more efficient light bulbs are inherently better than incandescents? Are you fundamentally opposed to any and all regulations?

I really don't understand the reaction.
posted by graphnerd at 3:28 PM on August 16, 2011


What I Learned in Two Years at the Tea Party
posted by homunculus at 3:34 PM on August 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Liberals shoving their ideas down our throats" is a particularly galling example of know-nothing politics. Are liberals forcing you to pray to Allah? To be gay? To drink Pabst Blue Ribbon? What, exactly, are liberals forcing you to do?
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:27 PM on August 16, 2011


What, exactly, are liberals forcing you to do?

They don't force you to do any of it but they force conservatives to tolerate it which I imagine where there objection is.

For instance, tolerating hipsters drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon offends me as a centre-left wackjob. I can't imagine how infuriated someone on the right must feel about it.
posted by Talez at 4:35 PM on August 16, 2011


shove-everything-down-peoples-throats-and-get-somebody-else-to-pay-for-it is a pretty good description of what the Bush administration did.
posted by rfs at 8:08 PM on August 16, 2011


I am not all that keen on having them tell me what light bulbs I have to use.

I figured the government was just helping the illiterate masses choose best.
posted by Brian B. at 8:28 PM on August 16, 2011


homunculus: "What I Learned in Two Years at the Tea Party"

I urge everyone to read homunculus' link, but I warn you that you may crap your pants.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:27 AM on August 17, 2011


I have an image of a collection of right-wing internauts getting together, drawing names from a hat, and deciding "Okay, Al, you post in Reddit this week, and Frank, it's your turn on MetaFilter.", and we get another round with a new member with a very filtered view of reality. At first I enjoyed it, but I'm starting to find it tiring.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:37 AM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The only people who pay taxes in this country are the rich people.

Hmm. Definitely remember paying taxes last year, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before, and the year before. I don't think I paid taxes the first year I worked because I made less than the lowest income level required to file a tax return.

I had no idea that since age 19 I have been rich! This comes as a shock to me, given the number of times I have had to go hungry in my life or go without minor conveniences like owning a vehicle. I really should be able to afford a car payment every month, since I'm so rich, but I can't. Gee, that's strange, after all I'm so rich, right? But all my money goes to rent, bills, food, debt, and my elderly parent who I help support gets a chunk too, to help her make ends meet. Her only income is her retirement savings account and her Social Security income, both of which she pays taxes on. I can't wait to call her and tell her she's rich, too! She's gonna love it. I hear being rich is totally awesome. I'm just so sad I didn't know!!!
posted by palomar at 7:04 AM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Michele Bachmann lied about attending family reunion, says her own mother
Bachmann's mom, Jean Amble, and her two cousins told Politico Monday that the Minnesota congresswoman never showed up at the reunion, though hubby Marcus Bachmann and the couple's children did.

Yet when the candidate arrived late to the Black Hawk County Republican Party dinner Sunday night, she told Radio Iowa that she was late because "I had a family reunion … north of Waterloo today," Reuters reported.[...]

The Register also reported that "Iowans - and reporters - have started to take note of Bachmann's late arrivals."
I just laughed at the headline.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:30 AM on August 17, 2011


Yes, Palomar, if you have food to eat whenever you are hungry and money to pay those bills, you are rich by every stretch of the imagination in comparison not only with America but also with the rest of the world. Be thankful for what you have. A car payment makes you stupid, not rich. Sorry.
posted by FunkyStar at 7:41 AM on August 17, 2011


So, FunkyStar, to be totally clear here, your definition of "rich" is having enough to eat* and enough to pay the bills? I'm not disagreeing with your premise, exactly, but that kind of means that your "only the rich pay taxes" claim (debunked upthread and unresponded to by you) is sort of meaningless, would you agree? I mean, if you're going to cast that wide a net, it doesn't really have any value as an argument.

*Though Palomar notes that at times they did not have enough to eat..........and still paid their taxes
posted by shrieking violet at 8:00 AM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am thankful for what I have. I'm not willing, however, to use that gratitude as blinders when looking at how others in this society use the tools at their disposal to distract from the vast inequity that they benefit from. Wealth is relative yet folks like FunkyStar want to make it an objective measure. Further they want to draw the line between rich and not rich at what most of the rest of us would call the poverty line.

I have this aunt by marriage that positively revels in having a hard life and doing without. She she brags about liking cheap beer and driving a beater. She lives in a neighborhood where the house next door is unsellable/rentable because the owner is not easily found and the previous occupants made so many meth precursor spills as to render the place toxic enough to condemn.

She chooses to ignore all of this and eschew any government program that might help alleviate any of this mess because, after all, she's lucky she has a roof over her head and works at a place where she can supplement her food budget with "shrinkage". She's proud of being ignorant, poor, and trash. It's also fun to note that she works under the table so that she and her employer need not pay taxes on her income. She's also the same one who attends all of the free civic entertainments provided by the City and can't understand why we choose to get our entertainment elsewhere when there's all of this "free" stuff to be had.

I love that aunt to death, but talking to her is maddening. For me, reading FunkyStar is like talking to her--without the stale cigarette smell and reek of cheap beer.
posted by Fezboy! at 8:20 AM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


if you have food to eat whenever you are hungry and money to pay those bills

Only in the past 15 months have I made enough income to always have food when I want it, and also to be able to pay my bills in full.

As for the assertion that having a car payment makes one stupid, perhaps. The fact of the matter is, the only savings I have are my retirement savings, which I can't really afford right now but which I will need very much when I am older (and which I cannot touch without steep financial penalties until I am retirement age OR to specifically to buy a house. Fat chance of that EVER happening for me). In order to buy even a reliable used car outright, cash on the barrelhead, I would need at the bare minimum $7000 to buy the most bare-bones model I can find. (And I have been looking for months, because the responsibilities of my job often require me to have access to a car.)

I am not financially able to save enough disposable income to finance a car purchase, is the point. And yet I have always, always, always paid taxes. Even in 2001, when I lost my job in January due to layoffs and did not have employment again until the end of August. In fact I was just recently hit with a bill for "back taxes" from that year. I had to pay it off with income tax refunds and the two stimulus checks that have been doled out since 2008.

Yeah, I'm super rich. Sure.
posted by palomar at 8:34 AM on August 17, 2011


So, FunkyStar, to be totally clear here, your definition of "rich" is having enough to eat* and enough to pay the bills?

No, FunkyStar is defining "rich" is the same way Humpty-Dumpty defined "glory."
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
Which doesn't surprise me, since that's exactly the way Bachmann likes to use words, too.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:37 AM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have an image of a collection of right-wing internauts getting together, drawing names from a hat, and deciding "Okay, Al, you post in Reddit this week, and Frank, it's your turn on MetaFilter.", and we get another round with a new member with a very filtered view of reality. At first I enjoyed it, but I'm starting to find it tiring.

Let them come as long as they're respectful and don't drag the conversation into the gutter. They pay the $5 they should have just as much right to discuss their views as anyone else.

If we started removing conservative leaning posters for just being conservative we'd be no better than Free Republic.
posted by Talez at 8:47 AM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's also dishonest to say "tax cuts for the rich." Poor people don't pay taxes. The only people who pay taxes in this country are the rich people.

From an earlier thread:
1) The only people who have seen significant income improvement since 1980 are the richest Americans. The lowest, lower, and middle income quintiles have remained virtually flat. The second highest income quintile saw a gain of $16,000 (AFI) of pretax income between 1980 and 2005, a gain of 23%. The top quintile saw income rise from $127,000 to $231,000, a gain of 82%. And it gets even more distorted at the top 1%: from $488,000 to $1,558,000, a gain of 219%.

2) The effective federal tax rate has decreased for all Americans since 1980. But the richest Americans are again getting the better tax cut: while the lowest quintile saw their rate drop from 7.7% to 4.3% on incomes that did not rise, the top quintile saw tax rates drop from 27.5% to 25.5% on incomes that rose by $104,000. The top 1% saw tax rates drop from 37% to 31% on incomes that rose by over one million dollars...

Yes, there are problems with our tax structure, but it has nothing to do with welfare for the poor. The propaganda machines like to haul out the half-truth that the richest Americans increasingly bear the tax burden. Well, the reason they pay most of the taxes is because they have all of the money. When you have 74 people earning as much as 19 million people not including the unemployed, you have an aristocracy, and your democracy is in dire straits.
The references for that data are in the linked comment. If you are a Christian like you claim to be, you'll stop repeating lies now that you know the truth.
posted by notion at 9:36 AM on August 17, 2011


The words you'll never hear Michele Bachmann say: "I was wrong"
posted by dirigibleman at 9:50 AM on August 17, 2011


It's also dishonest to say "tax cuts for the rich." Poor people don't pay taxes. The only people who pay taxes in this country are the rich people.

Payroll taxes, which the poor do pay, account for 36% of the federal government's revenue. In fact payroll taxes are a regressive tax: while income taxes scale up as income increases, payroll taxes are paid only on the first $100,000 or so that you make.

Your statement, quoted above, is a lie. It is either a lie that you are repeating out of ignorance, or a lie that you are using to deliberately deceive people who are listening to you. Those are the only two options, plain and simple.
posted by verb at 10:53 AM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Interesting.
posted by FunkyStar at 11:36 AM on August 17, 2011


The Tea Party Revealed
posted by homunculus at 12:35 PM on August 17, 2011


FunkyStar, it is absolutely baffling to me that you have such an extreme definition of "rich", yet you support the party that claims, with a straight face, that people making $250k a year are not rich.

That lie, which backs the dogmatic insistence on not letting Bush's tax cuts for those people end, is the primary cause of our deficit crisis, which is hurting everyone, but will most certainly hurt the poor the most.

I beg you to reconsider your support of these people. I'm actually lucky enough that I'm pretty close to the economic class that are the only people Republican policy is aimed at helping, but I have far too much compassion for those who are not as fortunate to ever give them an ounce of support.

I'll glad pay another few thousand in taxes if it means even one person gets assistance they need, even if that means I lose the freedom to buy incandescent light bulbs, or if five people who don't "deserve" it get some assistance as well. I sure wish the money wasn't being used on wars, though.
posted by flaterik at 12:56 PM on August 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


I beg you to reconsider your support of these people. I'm actually lucky enough that I'm pretty close to the economic class that are the only people Republican policy is aimed at helping, but I have far too much compassion for those who are not as fortunate to ever give them an ounce of support.

This is where I find myself, as well. I'm a white midwestern suburb kid who started out mowing lawns and hauling rocks for summer funds, got a crummy job out of school and slowly bootstrapped myself to become a reasonably successful software developer and public speaker. From a flat-out personal income standpoint, I stand to benefit from the Republican (and even Tea Party) tax proposals over the next decade or so. From a societal standpoint, however, I stand to lose out badly. My taxes pay for a world in which those with less money than me have a bit less to worry about. That means that they can do productive, useful things like raising their kids rather than trying to scrape for a third job; go to the doctor for a checkup rather than waiting until they collapse in pain; and starting new and innovative businesses rather than "playing it safe" for their families. Those are the things that a social safety net makes possible, and when other people enjoy its benefits I benefit as well, from their business if nothing else.

I view my contribution to the management of our society -- via taxes -- to be one of my fundamental responsibilities as an American, no less important than showing up for Jury Duty and registering for the draft. You can object to how some tax monies are being spent, just as you can object to how our military is being used around the world, or how certain court cases turn out. The objections being raised by most small government advocates, however, has little to do with "waste" once the rhetoric is swept away. It's about the idea that shared funding of society's infrastructure is fundamentally wrong, unless it goes to police or military forces.

The two arguments that I hear frequently are strangely contradictory. First, there's the claim that lower income people who want to see taxes raised are "trying to screw the rich." Second, there's the complaint that higher-income people who want to see taxes raised "should just donate to charities if they want to help people." The obvious conclusion is that no one -- not anyone! -- can make an honest case to raise taxes. Charity and charity alone should cover the social safety net.

We tried that, as a nation, for some time. It didn't work, and we went through a long hard slog to fix it. That's why we pay higher taxes than we did in the 1800s. That's why the rest of the first world pays higher taxes than Tea Party and small-government conservatives would prefer. They either don't remember the lessons that our country learned, or they believe that trading the potential of unlimited wealth for the reality of hardship for many is worthwhile. I do not believe that it is; I'm OK with being called anti-capitalist, anti-American, and so on because of that. That's the way that political discourse works.
posted by verb at 3:55 PM on August 17, 2011 [8 favorites]


Let them come as long as they're respectful and don't drag the conversation into the gutter. They pay the $5 they should have just as much right to discuss their views as anyone else.

If we started removing conservative leaning posters for just being conservative we'd be no better than Free Republic.


I didn't say they should be removed. I don't think they should be removed. I don't believe that harsh reprisals are the proper reaction to people with views that differ from mine. And I'd agree with people who point out that MeFi skews left, and it'd be good to get more conservative voices here, and we should be careful not to kick any away with knee-jerk responses.

I'm just saying that watching people spend multiple post debating whether having enough food to eat makes you rich has lost its charm for me.
posted by benito.strauss at 4:20 PM on August 18, 2011


Flaterik and Verb,

Thank you for the really nice, intelligent replies. You remind me why I was once a Democrat, and also why I will probably never fully be a Republican. I do try to continually examine what I believe and although I have been a bit angry in this thread, I don't want to tell anyone what to believe or support politically.

The Christian in me is responsible for saying "be thankful for everything we have, because a lot of people don't have anywhere near that." At the same time, as an American I recognize that most of what is productive about our economy is done by small business, and small business would take a really large hit if new tax laws passed. I am not that interested in protecting corporations. But to be kind of biblical about it - I don't want to steal anyone's small-ewe-lamb. I am saying I don't want to sabotage small business and the best chance our country has for growth to fund programs that could be funded by cutting spending in other places.

Personally, I am a supporter of Fair Tax reform...and this post (if you'll pardon the source) reminds me of why. A tax on consumption includes a lot more potential "income" for the government than dickering with our already insanely-complicated tax laws. The president's rhetoric about paying-our-fair-share...well, I can understand people getting angry about it when you look at the statistics from the IRS.

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/275033/todays-questions-president-peter-kirsanow

Lest anyone jump on me about being a Christian and assume I am for or against certain things because of it, let me assure you that the plain fact is that at heart I am a Libertarian and don't really fit anywhere into our political landscape.
posted by FunkyStar at 7:57 AM on August 19, 2011


I am saying I don't want to sabotage small business and the best chance our country has for growth to fund programs that could be funded by cutting spending in other places.

Thanks for your reply, FunkyStar. This particular issue -- the concept of what constitutes 'Fair' tax policy -- is really interesting to me.

This is something that I hear a lot, but I have trouble resolving with the actual legislation that most conservatives end up vigorously supporting. While the "pro-business talk" that happens during campaigns is always about mom and pop startups, the "pro-business legislation" that actually makes it into law is universally tilted in favor of giant corporations -- the ones who can afford to lobby. This is why I'm less interested in whether someone announces that they're pro-business, and more interested in whether I think the specific policies will hurt or help small businesses.

Things like single-payer health care, for example, would significantly reduce the risk of starting a small business, and make it much easier to hire skilled workers. I've worked for small businesses (like, 2-4 employees) and it is a HUGE burden trying to compete with the health insurance packages that larger companies can offer. Tying insurance to employers is basically a gift-wrapped barrier to entry that benefits large, established businesses. Yet, because conservatives don't like the proposal it axiomatically becomes "anti-business."

In that kind of environment, where "pro-business" is a branding label rather than something that can be weighed and considered reasonably, I find it hard to take a lot of statements seriously unless there's time to dig in and find out what kind of priorities someone really has.


Personally, I am a supporter of Fair Tax reform...and this post (if you'll pardon the source) reminds me of why. A tax on consumption includes a lot more potential "income" for the government than dickering with our already insanely-complicated tax laws. The president's rhetoric about paying-our-fair-share...well, I can understand people getting angry about it when you look at the statistics from the IRS.

Again, the FairTax proposal is one that sounds great on paper, but like Payroll Taxes, it's ultimately regressive. Poor and lower income individuals have to spend a much, much higher percentage of their income on essentials. Food, clothing, gasoline to get to and from work, and so on are not luxury goods that they can eliminate. Wealthy and high-income earners have the luxury of saving, investing, and using their larger pool of discretionary funds in ways that do not count as "consumption."

The end result is that "taxes paid, as a percentage of income" skyrockets for the poor and drops dramatically for the rich. You can talk about credits or rebates to make things "fairer," or reclassifying lots of new kinds of things as "consumption," but then you're right back where you started with a complex tax law and tons of loopholes.
posted by verb at 9:46 AM on August 19, 2011


FunkyStar, the article you linked to, from National Review, is also a good example of the kind of class war rhetoric I find troubling about these discussions:

"Do you want those in the top 25 percent of income earners to pay more than 86 percent of all federal income tax? If so, how much more?"

The author of that article glosses over a lot of the points that have been made in this thread to imply that things are Very Unfair. He ignores the fact that Payroll tax, which falls disproportionately on those in lower income brackets, is more than a third of the government's tax revenues. He also ignores the fact that the top 25% of earners pay those higher taxes because they claim 50% of the income pie.

Our income tax is progressive (in the sense that you pay X% for your first $20,000, Y% for the next $100,000, Z% for the next million, and so forth.) That's a way of acknowledging that people with a smaller income have far, far less discretionary income: a much larger percentage of their income goes towards 'fixed essentials.' You can say that it would be more fair if everyone simply paid a flat rate, but it raises the question of what constitutes "fairness."

If we simply announced that every American must produce $40,000 per year, that would be "fair" -- in the sense that it would be equally applied, and would not punish those who have worked hard and earned lots of money.
posted by verb at 10:05 AM on August 19, 2011


I don't know that I agree. While they may spend a higher percentage of total income on consumer goods, it's far more likely that wealthier people simply spend more money (regardless of percentage) on consumer goods.

Having the luxury of saving and investing shouldn't affect tax rate. Let's take an example.

Person A makes $22000 per year. Her savings are modest, her car is a used car that is paid for, and she spends as wisely as she can on her consumer goods - gasoline, groceries, clothing. This is difficult to do as it would be for any person making $22000 per year.

If Person A gets a raise at her job to $24,000 per year and chooses to save that money instead of spending it, it probably won't affect her consumer-goods spending. But lets say she uses that money to get a better computer. The computer purchase is taxed. And so on. This is true whether you make $20k or $200k.

What some people don't like is the seemingly fixed nature of consumption tax. The argument goes that the government won't tend to take in more every year because consumption stays more or less the same.

But only some expenses are fixed. Everybody has discretionary income. When people are doing better financially (at the same wage or a higher one), discretionary spending goes up, tax revenue increases, and spending can increase. When people are doing worse it goes down and affects tax revenue and spending negatively, as it should. At present, a disproportionate percentage of income taxes are paid by people with high incomes. They would still pay disproportionately more consumer tax - because they spend more money. But since consumption taxes are effectively invisible, people just go on about their lives spending money like they always do. They don't consciously pay tax. They just buy stuff.

This is really no different than payroll taxes except that we never see that money to start with. Fair tax would be a more or less fixed tax on our consumption just as income tax is a fixed tax on our income.

The big difference for me is that all the people in this country who skate on income taxes (or who are punished unfairly by the tax code, like contract workers) are suddenly even with the rest of us. Doesn't matter if illegal immigrants have social security numbers - when they buy groceries and gas, they are taxed with everyone else. Doesn't matter if Big Rich Guy gets an income-tax loophole any more...when he buys his Mercedes, he pays the tax. Contract workers who pay 30% of their income in taxes are not burdened with income tax issues. Drug dealers who earn money illegally still pay taxes. The government collects more of the country's wealth.

The net result is that everybody who buys anything pays taxes, at the same rate, and wealthy people will continue to pay more taxes.

That seems pretty win-win to me. How is it ultimately regressive? Working poor would not see any difference because they are still consuming normally; welfare recipients might be helping the government rob Peter to pay Paul, I guess? They could be given tax-free discounts that ultimately allow their dollars to go farther than mine, and keep the government from taxing itself.

Just thinking...
posted by FunkyStar at 10:14 AM on August 19, 2011


FunkyStar, there are a lot of individual points in your post that I take issue with, both for the presuppositions that you seem to be bringing to the discussion ("Everyone has discretionary income!") and the factual claims that you're making. I don't want to seem combative, and I appreciate that you're taking the time to reply.
  1. The rich are disproportionately likely to save their money when given tax cuts and refunds. This significantly affects the consumption vs. income split that makes FairTax tricky.
  2. You say that "Having the luxury of saving and investing shouldn't affect tax rate," but that's precisely what a consumption-based tax does. Lower income earners would have to pay more in real dollars, and more as a percentage of their income, under the FairTax. Why? A greater percentage of their income is spent rather than saved, by necessity.
  3. Jiggering the numbers so that 'Everyone pays less' would result in a revenue collapse for the country: the numbers simply don't add up. If your goal is to lower taxes for top income earners, simply argue in favor of that. Comparing the FairTax to the Payroll Tax is a perfect example: the Payroll tax is a regressive tax that disproportionately affects lower income earners.
  4. The idea that people would not even notice that they were paying consumption taxes is ridiculous. People notice sales tax today, people in Europe notice VAT, and if we moved to a consumption tax, everyone in the country would see an immediate 15-30% jump in the price of everything.
  5. "The net result is that everybody who buys anything pays taxes, at the same rate, and wealthy people will continue to pay more taxes." Their actual share of the tax burden would drop considerably, however, and lower income earners's share of the tax burden would rise in real dollars and income percentage.
  6. Contract workers do not pay higher income taxes than full-time employees. The self-employment taxes they pay are part of the Payroll Tax, as mentioned above. This is especially ironic, because Payroll Taxes are conveniently ignored when conservatives want to argue that "only the rich pay taxes." This kind of selective care for "the little guy" is what makes it hard to take the pro-business, pro-little-guy rhetoric seriously.
  7. "Everybody has discretionary income." That statement is either hyperbole, or an admission of profound ignorance. Look at poverty statistics, read a copy of "Nickel and Dimed," talk to some people who receive food stamps. Seriously.
Again, I don't want to be fighty. You're throwing a lot of statements at the wall, there, and many of them just don't add up. Either you haven't thought through what you're proposing and supporting, or you're okay with shifting the nation's tax burden farther onto lower income earners. We've been doing that over and over for the past thirty years, and it has not helped the economy. Instead, income disparity has accelerated and consumer spending has tanked.

The arguments you're making from one paragraph to the next undercut each other. It's a really, really complicated topic and I understand that it's frustrating when you believe that "The Other Side" is a bunch of self-important bureaucrats that think they know best. Trust me -- it gets tiring for those of us who want our society to be adequately funded, too.
posted by verb at 11:08 AM on August 19, 2011


"and small business would take a really large hit if new tax laws passed."

I don't understand why this is accepted as gospel. Sure, republicans like to repeat it, but... it doesn't hold water for me. As has been mentioned above, they fought tooth and nail against the thing that would help small business the MOST - making health care not their responsibility. So I simply don't believe the assertion that taxing people wealthier than me (when I know a few percent more tax wouldn't hurt me) more on their income would hurt small business.

I urge you to consider how much time Christ spent talking about caring for the poor.
posted by flaterik at 11:29 AM on August 19, 2011


Hey verb,

Thanks for all the information. I know everybody makes the facts fit their conclusions to some extent, and I really don't want to argue either.

"Everybody has discretionary income" should have been "everybody who pays taxes has discretionary income." Sorry about that. Of course I do not assume that people below poverty-level incomes have it.

However, I don't see anything wrong with rewarding people who do work hard, get better jobs, and take pains to save and invest their money. I am guessing this is a philosophical difference you and I share that won't be solved on a message board.

Cheers,
Funky
posted by FunkyStar at 1:38 PM on August 19, 2011


Flaterik - that's the point. First-century Jews took care of their own poor. I don't know where in scripture Christ encourages the government to do it.

I do believe in putting my money where my mouth is to make sure everybody is fed, has clean water, etc. It's just that I believe this should be voluntary, not compulsory. And I'm not even saying to do away with government programs that genuinely help people who genuinely need help - my problems with government spending don't really have to do with what is called "entitlement" spending. At worst, I'd say a drug test for welfare recipients is a good idea. Horror and scandal, but it's some form of accountability for where those dollars are going. But I would not say take it all away. The chronic abusers of the system probably need to be cut, but we need to keep our social programs.

I told you I'm a bad Republican. :)
posted by FunkyStar at 1:41 PM on August 19, 2011


It's just that I believe this should be voluntary, not compulsory.

The Old Testament demands compulsory provisions for the poor, via temple sacrifices, enforced inefficiency in crop harvesting (gleaning), and automatic cancellation of all debt and forced reallocation of all land ownership on a recurring basis.

If we simply followed the letter of Jewish Law, we'd already be looking at a pretty radical redistribution of wealth.

However, we live in a democracy -- which means that we vote, either directly or indirectly, to determine how we will accomplish those goals. We give tax breaks for charitable donations, allowing the rich who engage in massive philanthropy to avoid much of their tax burden. We use the federal government to share the infrastructure burden of our social safety net across a much wider base to avoid regional crisis crippling charitable giving. And we also use the federal government to ensure that religious charities don't lock those with different beliefs out of the social safety net.

The system we have was built to solve legitimate, serious problems that were discovered with the system you are advocating. It is not perfect, but advocating a return to the system we had in the 1800s is just an appeal to poor knowledge of history.
posted by verb at 2:05 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


FunkyStar, I already covered how I feel about the government deciding who "deserves" care above (i'd rather people who don't deserve assistance get it if that means people that do get it more easily; the cost of keeping those people out isn't worth the gain) - and I don't think the government has any business deciding how people entertain themselves - so we're clearly on pretty different pages here. (below I'm getting much less polite than my previous comments - but it's not aimed at you. I think at worst you have been deceived, I don't doubt that you want people to be better taken care of, we just strongly disagree on how that should be done, and I'm getting very very frustrated with the dogmatic anti-tax stance that's taken hold lately)

I just think it's absurd to fight so strenuously against returning taxes to the levels they were at a few years ago, when those changes affect only people who can definitely afford it. People like me. People that have already been rewarded for hard work and luck of birth by the fact that we have food we want and freedom from worry about a roof over our head. But what I see is a philosophical debate about the ability of the rich to do less for their fellow man while people are worrying about feeding their children. Where's the compassion? I think it's reasonable to discuss if it's the job of government or the private sector (I strongly believe anything that shouldn't have a profit motive should be left to the government, and that includes helping the less fortunate) but this "take more from those that can least afford it" mentality is verging on pure evil.

When I saw that current republican talking points involve complaining that the poor have refrigerators and microwaves and cell phones, I went white hot with rage. This is absolutely unacceptable. And these are the people that would talk the most loudly about being christian. I just can't comprehend how wealthy people can be upset about this. If you're wearing a nice suit and being paid to do nothing more than bitch on TV, shut your fucking worthless mouth about people who are getting helped by your tax contributions. Society has helped you in myriad ways that you refuse to acknowledge, and GJLJLKDSFLJKDSFIOUDFSLJKDSFJKL

I paid goddamn AMT last year and you don't hear me complaining about taxes. I have chosen my charity, and that is the government. What if I don't want to give money to a church? What if I want to help people in a civic minded and humanist way? I'm pretty sure that's what our government is supposed to be about, at least since the New Deal.
posted by flaterik at 2:29 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


How Michele Bachmann Is Tied to the Ugandan Movement to Execute Gay People
posted by homunculus at 5:11 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Naturally, and as usual, I am compelled to point out that there is no longer any such thing as welfare as people usually think of it. AFDC, i.e. what people think of when you say 'welfare', was replaced with TANF in 1997.

TANF provides a few hundred dollars per month benefit for a maximum of 60 months over a recipient's lifetime, if and only if they are participating in 'work activities' at least 30 hours a week. Presuming the case worker doesn't outright lie to their face—in violation of federal law—and tell them they're not eligible.

In FY11 the budget for TANF is $17 billion, or 0.45% of the federal budget. The bill for the entirety of the ways the federal government helps the needy procure food, shelter, and necessities—including TANF, Food Stamps, unemployment, etc.—will average roughly $400 billion per year (approximately 10%) of the budget over the next five years.

The point being, there just aren't millions of lazy people getting checks from the government that they blow on drugs. We don't need to drug test. You get a maximum of five years of cash assistance over your entire lifetime. If you can get it at all since case workers routinely pressure people to 'voluntarily' decline benefits.

In conclusion, unless they are disabled or on unemployment, the only way people get cash money from the government is if they are actively training towards getting a job, and it's been that way for more than a decade.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:53 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Do you want those in the top 25 percent of income earners to pay more than 86 percent of all federal income tax? If so, how much more?"

If taxes were based on property, then the richest 5% would be paying 95% of all taxes.
posted by Brian B. at 1:37 PM on August 20, 2011


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