Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Debate Rant and a Modest Proposal

I shot this photo yesterday, of autumn flowers in a meadow. I'm posting it here in an attempt to brighten up things, but it's rainy season here in the Michigan and the markets are getting scary. Here's my lastest rant against the machine...

I’m disappointed. I watched the debates last night, hoping to either find out that one of our candidates has a clue to the economic mess we’re in or, at the very least, having some comic relief. I was disappointed on both accounts. Instead, they both clung like glue to their sound-bites and talking points. Watching the debate, I felt like I’d been married to the two of them for years and we were an old three-some, having a conversation on the sofa. As soon as either one of them said two words, I found myself finishing their sentences. The only really new things I heard is that McCain thinks it will be easy to find Bin Laden and to fix Social Security. We’ll, after seven years of looking, I’m sure it will come to some surprise to our military and intelligence community that the man with the most unkempt beard in the world is so easy to be found. I wish we could have heard some of the easy details of fixing Social Security. If you’re not going to raise taxes, the only other alternatives would be to drastically cut benefits or to increase the death rates of our older citizens, neither of which is an attractive option as I’m only 15 years away from my “golden years.” Although I felt Obama did a better job with the debate (at least he shows us he can prioritize when pushed to), I was greatly disappointed in his answer to the last question concerning what they don’t know. McCains answer, that he doesn't know the future, reassured me that at least he doesn't think he's a deity (I was beginning to wonder since he thinks its so easy to fix Social Security). Both of the candidates skirted the question about what they don't know, which I sad as I thought was the best question of the night.

A Modest Proposal: We’ve got one more Presidential debate to go and I have a modest proposal. Let’s resurrection the Gong Show! Anytime a candidate doesn’t directly answer the question, or if he throws out clich├ęs or worn out campaign sound bites, he gets gonged. If he goes over his time limit, he gets gonged. If he uses an old joke, refers to everyone as a friend, or (heaven help us) winks, he gets gonged.

My lastest on Ms. Palin: Speaking of pit pulls with a wink, Sarah Palin and her husband released their income tax statements a few days ago. Although they are definitely not rich (I suspect McCain's wife spends more on clothes in a year than the Palin's make), I couldn’t help but gasp at the amount that the two of them gave away last year. Now I know I’m treading on sacred ground here and for most of us, what we give to churches and charities is between us and God and the IRS (who think they’re a god). Palin and her husband gave away (cash and in kind gifts) $3,325 in 2007 or 1.5% of their adjusted gross income. They did a little better in 2006, giving away 3.3% of their income. Still, this is way below the standard of a tithe, which is strongly encouraged in every Assembly of God church with which I'm familiar. I think it was Sam Jones, an old revivalist from the 19th Century, who said that he last thing converted is one's pocketbook. Maybe that's true for Palin.
According to a recent article I recently read on giving in America, Palin's family giving is ahead of all self-identified Christians households in the country, but her household would be well behind the giving (based on % of income) those who attend church regularly (as defined as 2-3 times a month). She is also well behind the amount which those in non-Christians religions give, but ahead of what those with no religious preference give to charity. On average, non-religious Americans give less than 1% of their income. In fairness, I tried to find what the other candidates gave. But after a few minutes with no results, I decided I really didn’t have time. Anyone seen such figures for Obama, Biden and McCain?


  1. I'm laughing so hard that I can barely type - on your three-some having a repeat conversation on the sofa. Ha that's just great. You're right on. Actually after 15 mins into the debate, I found myself finishing their sentences, so I decided not to watch it. I read instead.

    Now, about the tithe, I think she needs to save the money for two unwilling teenagers to get married instead of elope you know.

  2. Isn't the requested/proposed/suggested (pick a word, any word) tithing amount some ridiculous amount like 10% of your income or something? I don't remember offhand what it is (it's been a number of years since I was a "member" of a church), but I know it's high.

  3. I haven't recalled any politician whose giving habits have been particularly stellar. I think it was Bill Clinton who deducted money for a donation of used underwear to Goodwill.


  4. I have seen the giving figures for Obama - they were compared to Clinton's during the primaries. I can tell you that they are better than the Palins, and particularly so since the Obamas income increased the last few years with his book royalties.

    This is a woman who charged rape victims for rape kits - about 1200 bucks - you think she gives money to charity?

    And thanks for the suggestion on my blog of Crabby Jacks!

  5. If people feel that a loud gong would be intrusive, I'm in favor of just turning off their microphone.

    Although I give money to the church, I don't give 10%. I've always felt that it is better to give other non-monetary things such as time or talent than treasure. I understand a church needs to have money to operate and I give accordingly, but I dislike it going towards some of the things it does within my church. For example, our community is building a $7 million church which I feel is quite lavish in our economy and when we could get by on so much less and give the money to those who really need it. I really don't need circular stadium seating on Sunday morning.

  6. Mother Hen, turning it off was probably a good decision

    TC, tithe implies 10% (hers was total charity giving which, i'm assuming, included church

    Sherman, she had some pretty high amounts for in-kind gifts, too

    Diane, I'd be interested in seeing his figures too... As for Crabby Jacks, they have t-shirts that say, "I got my crabs at..."

    Ed, I wouldn't mind the intrusion! I brought up the tithe thing because she has been lifting herself up (an also being lifted up by the religious right) as such a committed Christian--and although I no none of us can fully live up to that calling of that name, I don't like how one's politics can seem to make one's religion geniune (another example would be their darling Reagan, who seldom went to church and his wife played around with astrology). Likewise, if they don't like your politics (like with Carter or even Obama), they can diss your religion.

  7. The Gong show sounds a bit like the "Dating Game" that Nader did last night. I only read a bit and it sounded very clever.

  8. "played around with astrology" is putting it lightly maybe, LOL

    yes, the debates were less than impressive. I would love to see someone force a straight answer...I have mock trial students who could do it

  9. Golly gee Sage why should Sarah tithe (or do anything for anyone) when she gave the world five adorable children and never sacrificed her career?

    I think McCain was so offensive--in every sense of the word--that Obama was forced to say somethings over and over again

    This hyper inflation or credit crisis or whatever you want to call it is unprecedented.

    I think Obama is more on track--do have a feeling there will be a WPA type program as people don't really talk about the growing unemployment problem

    To get health insurance in SC I had to have the pharmacy print out every prescription I have had for the past seven years and well I would have forgotten the penicillin. Under SC law if I don't put down that I was on that and I get a super staph the insurance company doesn't have to pay no matter how many premiums I paid

    I like Obama and think that he has to counter so many negative attacks and McCain last night was like an untrained pit bull let loose

    I think it's very popular for thinking people to be very cynical. That's great but at times you have to take a leap of faith

  10. I love the gong idea! Every time McCain calls someone "my friend" I'd gong him loud and long. ANd when Palin winks and says by golly or you betcha (ick).

  11. Deb, that may be what the country is participating in, a blind date.

    Kontan, you could see Tom Brokaw getting upset at the two of them not following orders... he kept reminding them they signed off on the rules and at one point seemed to be ready to throw up his hands

    Pia, I agree that McCain and his friends ads have gotten very negative (as he's pulled out of MI, we're no longer getting the "I approved this ad" but we're getting some of the other ads by sideline groups supporting him.

    Kenju, SNL has taken Palin's winks to a new level... If McCain or Obama had winked... actually I would have found it mockingly funny!

  12. HA! I think Obama should have winked!

    Sage, on the Nov. weekend, we have out-of-town company coming here for a wedding and they will stay at our house, otherwise, I'd offer you to come and visit! Too bad, I'd love to meet you.Have a good trip, though!

  13. Your use of the word 'threesome' threw me for a loop until it was followed by the word 'conversation' shortly thereafter and I am relieved that perhaps you don't know what one is. :-)

    That last bit with all the percentages gave me a headache. I guess I would fall in the average(?) non-religious Americans and I'm sure I gave much less than 1%. Although in 2006, I went to this one church that dared to have two services and hence sucked 10 dollars total out of me. :-)

  14. The Gong show would be allot more exciting! Sage...You'll would make a nice threesome...Just had to throw that in there...

  15. Your marriage/threesome/couch conversation comment was priceless. ;)

    Btw, I am right behind you with the Gong Show suggestion!

  16. Not a good debate, no. No substance. But then, I'm not politically inclined. I can crank a stereo up though! :D)

  17. Kenju, sometime our paths will cross. I'll be back down in the summer.

    Murf, I was referring to old married folks who finish each other sentences and no, I would never imagine being in a "threesome act" with those two. 5 bucks a service? I'm sure they didn't make you attend both services or give at both! Nevertheless, I'm also sure they were grateful.

    Appalachianists, no we wouldn't!!!

    Scarlet, boy, that comment must of raised some eyebrows.

    Michael, cranking up the stereo would have been a good idea, at times the debate reminded me of a broken record that kept repeating the same line

  18. They did give me free breakfast so I guess it all worked out in the end.

  19. Murf, that makes your church going experience about as expensive as going out to breakfast!

  20. Actually it was more expensive. I can get my oatmeal at Cracker Barrel for $4! The extra $6 came as 'spiritual fulfillment', I guess. ;-)