At Least…[DOT 22/2/23]

…with the holiday, this week is going by fast!

Ukraine Updates:

Russia guilty of ‘crimes against humanity,’ Biden says in Poland speech; Moscow suspends role in arms control treaty


Phoenix Mercury confirm Brittney Griner’s return to WNBA


Dow closes nearly 700 points lower in broad selloff, as all indexes cap their worst day of 2023: Live updates

I used to have Mormon clients and at the end of every year they would tithe 10% of their earnings to the church, so this does not surprise me at all.

Mormon Church to pay fine to settle charges it hid an approximately $32 billion investment fund

Umm, I have questions

Pilot thought instructor who died inflight was ‘just pretending’

Just needs an avocado!

Have an awesome day!



  1. I was feeling kind of lousy yesterday and rather than making or just heating up chicken soup I made a big batch of spaghetti for dinner with a lot of garlic and spicy Italian sausages and now I feel much better.

    I remember in 2012, when Mittens Romney was trying to justify his existence ran for the White House, to counter the fact that he and Egg took all kinds of absurd (but, of course, perfectly legal, because of this country’s asinine tax code) deductions, like the $250K for the care and maintenance of Rafalca the dressage horse, they tried to emphasize how many of those deductions were actually for charity. They were, in a very narrow sense. Some overwhelming proportion went to Mormon causes that only Mormons could really take advantage of, and not general purpose.

    What was their effective tax rate again? I think it was 14% in 2011? Mine (granted I live in ridiculously highly taxed New York City, which has its own municipal income tax, in ridiculously highly taxed New York State) was 23% (some of that was interest and a small underpayment penalty, because I am horrible about shoveling money fast enough at them through quarterly payments.) Better Half was well over 30%, because of that devious SALT cap.

    And yet here we are, 11 years later, and Mittens is the one who seems like the voice of reason in the Republican party.

  2. Never got the tax free status of religion.

    If you got a 32 billion investment fund… shit.

    In the west it is easier for a rich person/org to go through the eye of a needle than pay what they actually owe in taxes.

    • In the US, it’s generally rooted in the separation of church and state.  However, that was long before right wingers hijacked churches and started turning them into political operations.  As George Carlin once said, “if you want to get involved in politics and public policy, PAY YOUR FUCKING ADMISSION PRICE like everybody else.”

    • …unless I’ve got this mixed up with something else I think the fund is considerably bigger than that…$32billion was the part they didn’t disclose properly to the taxman?

      …not that it would make any difference to what you’re saying…but apparently they aren’t much for the “render unto cesar that which is cesar’s” thing

      • Wikipedia quotes the size of the church’s overall holdings at $100 billion as of a few years ago, but that was right before Covid, so who knows now.

        This article says they were hiding the size because they were worried tithing would drop off if people knew. You think?

        I think Cousin Matt has commented in the past on the Catholic Church’s landholdings being worth a massive fortune in NYC, and worldwide they’re incalcuable. They’re also impossibly tangled, because dioceses, orders, and charities all exist as separate legal entities.

        I’m sure it’s true for the LDS too.

        This article puts LDS church charitable spending at $1 billion a year  which sounds like a lot. Except the basic IRS rule for regular charitable foundations, like Ford or Rockefeller, is that they distribute 5% of holdings per year, which would put the LDS fund at $4 billion per year under target, if they were set up as a regular foundation, which they’re not.

        • …I forget how it works in the states…but one of the things that churches quietly benefit from is charitable status – which, apart from some arguably inappropriate tax-benefits, seems in many cases to be an explicit category error…many of these enterprises are fundamentally for-profit concerns

          …the part where “thou shalt not lie” never seems to apply to when they need to come clean…or pay taxes…seems suspiciously contrary to the idea that the pious find their way to the clergy

          …or at least that piety doesn’t seem to help them rise through the ranks, anyway…which is a shame…I’ve met some pretty decent people who were priests of one faith or another over the years…but none of them were, for example, sitting in the house of lords on account of their position in the church?

    • The pressure many churches put on members to give 10% of all paychecks pre-tax is incredible. There are countless reports of people struggling to pay for rent, health care, child support, you name it, but their churches are still hounding them for the tithe.

      • I will say that this was never a problem for Mrs Butcher and I while we were attending the Episcopal church. They were always very up front about “give if you can but don’t if you can’t.” We were always so broke at the time that we never gave anything and never got any shit for it. The main reason why we don’t attend anymore is because we’d gotten burned out from always being the active people and just needed a place where we could sit back and receive for a while. The problem, of course, is that church attendance across the board had been declining for some time so no matter where we went we were always getting tapped to cover the gaps. So, yeah, we sort of contributed to the problem but we just decided we couldn’t keep being the ones who covered.

      • I’ve mentioned my religious upbringing before and how scarred I am from the hypocrisy of the entire thing. My parents dutifully tithed 10% of their income their entire lives, receiving absolutely nothing in return. When my mother was in a nursing home, no one from the church visited. At her funeral it was just us (to be fair, it was during COVID but regular services were well-attended).

        That 10% could have made a tremendous difference in our lives, particularly my parents (mom was broke at the end and we kids were covering the expenses — again, did the church care? No.) Mom was gibbering stupidly about giving the church 10% of the sale of her house. (That’s not income, mind you — income is current earnings. Even my religious brother balked at that one.) I told my siblings to mind their own business and then just lied to her.  They complied.

        With that lengthy preamble, I will also state that at age 16 my father “volunteered” me to mow the lawn at the pastor’s house. For free of course. The pastor had two teenage sons, mind you (and a daughter — girls can push lawnmowers.) I was stunned to discover it was a 12-room, two-story mansion. Each child had their own car, so five cars in the family. The church paid for the mansion and the pastor’s car. They vacationed in Europe every year. I will never, ever forgive or forget that. I watched my parents scrape and scrimp and budget that goddamned 10% their whole lives. And once a month the pastor would talk about tithing. Of course he did — right before payday.

        For the short period as an adult that I attended church (at my wife’s insistence), I had one rule. I’ll pay for what I use and maybe a little bit extra. If I sit in the sanctuary for an hour on Sunday morning, I’ll pay fair rent on the space. If my kid goes to activities or classes, I’ll pay enough to cover a generous babysitter fee. If I eat a dinner, I’ll pay enough to cover that. That’s it. I think the most I ever paid in a year was about $500. Ten percent my ass.

    • I don’t quiiiite know which is worse, tbh…the Copeland excuse for not wanting to fly commercial because he’d be subjected to “demons” in the form of folks asking him to pray for them….


      Or the fact that when I Googled to find the quote & figure out who the old whit guy who said it was, there were so many i had to sift through, in order to find the correct one!!!🤯😱🙃

  3. The NY Times continues its drumbeat to elect Ron DeSantis.

    I won’t link to the junk, but they just ran a completely context free article about RDS going to Staten Island to complain about NYC crime, simply quoting what he said and talking about his strategy blah blah.

    What they left out is that under RDS, Florida’s crime rate has been much higher than NYC, and GOP led cities in Florida like Miami and Jacksonville also have much higher rates.

    The argument the Times would make, of course, is that they weren’t framing the story to talk about larger issues, but the fact is that NY Times frameworks shift like the sand in a sandbox, sometimes here, sometimes there, who can say why? It couldn’t be the toddlers moving the sand, of course.

    The lead reporter is Jonathan Weisman, one of Carolyn Ryan’s cronies, and he is the guy who notoriously said that US Reps Rashida Tlaib and John Lewis weren’t “real” Midwesterner and Southerner…. and the left it to readers to realize it’s because they’re minorities.

    Of course John Lewis’s family had longer, older ties to Georgia than Weisman’s family had to New York, but whatever.

    • …travelling from florida to staten island to trash talk NYC seems a pretty good shorthand for lacking the courage of his “convictions”…but…NY state politics is like some sort of bermuda triangle deal…not that the times necessarily has a great handle on it…but they ran an interesting column that sketches an underwhelming picture of some stuff

      Within the confines of New York, Democrats remain historically dominant, retaining veto-proof majorities in both the State Senate and State Assembly. All the statewide elected officials are Democrats, as is the mayor of New York City, Eric Adams. But this is a recent shift: Republicans controlled the State Senate almost continuously from the mid-1960s until 2019. George Pataki, a moderate Republican, led the state for 12 years, and Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg ran New York City from 1994 through 2013.
      A 67-year-old political lifer, Jacobs has an unrelated day job overseeing a string of popular and lucrative summer camps in upstate New York, in Pennsylvania and on Long Island, where he lives. Democratic business is often run out of a TLC Family of Camps office in Glen Cove, a small town on Nassau County’s Gold Coast. Politicos and journalists who want to reach Jacobs know to email his Camp TLC address; Jacobs cc’d his chief of staff at that summer-camp address to help arrange a telephone interview that lasted an hour, despite Jacobs’s initial hesitancy about going on the record.

      “People believe that the state party runs all the campaigns, determines the messaging, does the opposition research for every candidate and, you know, when a candidate anywhere loses, it’s the fault of the state party, and all of that is just not an accurate view of the function of the state party and what we actually do,” Jacobs said.

      Jacobs described the party as a “housekeeping organization” and a “coordinating entity” that works among labor unions, campaigns and other interest groups. He cited the maintenance of a voter file that campaigns use to target the electorate as among its most important work, as well as establishing campaign offices at election time. Fund-raising, too, is a big part of the work, and it’s there where Jacobs has been especially useful. A multimillionaire and prolific donor, Jacobs has given more than $1 million to various Democratic candidates and causes over the last two decades. It can be argued that it’s this wealth, in part, that has allowed him to continuously lead the Nassau County party since 2001. Few staunch Democrats are both better wired and more willing to cut checks than Jacobs.
      In an unusual move for a party leader, Jacobs last year backed the rivals of several incumbent Democrats. His motivation, he told me, was “the behavior of some of these folks that are speaking on behalf of what I’d refer to as the far left. They practice the politics of personal destruction. They won’t argue the merits of what I say, but they’ll condemn me — and others, by the way, not just me — in really vitriolic terms, personal and the rest. Some of the reasons why I personally gave to some of the primaries — it was just a handful of people — it’s because of what they said about me. Personally.”
      But Jacobs has plenty of defenders, including county leaders across the state, who believe he’s an upgrade over his somnolent or domineering predecessors and has a realistic view of what it takes to win beyond the liberal confines of New York City. “It’s hard for me to understand this rancor from certain individuals, by the way, who never seem to be satisfied,” says Jeremy Zellner, the chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party. “Only in New York could Jay win every single statewide election and hold the supermajorities in both the Assembly and Senate and be chastised.”
      The widening fissures are both ideological and geographical. Manhattan and Brooklyn Democrats saved Hochul in November, but so did Westchester County, which once upon a time was a Republican stronghold. Democrats there gave Hochul a 20-point margin over Zeldin after Biden flew in to campaign for her. Westchester has continued to mirror national trends, as affluent suburbs grow Democratic, but Republicans have remained remarkably resilient on Long Island. Home to lavish estates, as well as growing Orthodox Jewish communities and a rising Asian American electorate newly alienated by Democrats, along with a working- and middle-class vote forever skeptical of big-city liberalism, the eastern suburb backed Zeldin by double digits. In recent years, the Hudson Valley has grown bluer, with city residents scooping up comparatively cheaper real estate during the pandemic, yet Zeldin carried Rockland, Dutchess, Putnam and Orange Counties, where Trump-era enthusiasm for Democrats gave way to backlash over rising crime south of the former Tappan Zee Bridge (renamed for Mario Cuomo by his son).

      Jacobs can credibly argue that the progressivism or outright socialism that wins in Brooklyn or Queens can’t be easily sold in Nassau County. But Bowman and his cohort can ask why he neglects the younger voters moving left — or, for that matter, why he fails to build out an organization that can be credibly called a political party, the kind that is more than one man and a few aides conducting political business from a summer-camp office. In a 10-page report issued in January, Jacobs pinned Democratic losses on historically high Republican turnout, a contention backed by data. But shouldn’t a state party’s task be, in part, to turn out its own voters? Had enough Democrats been motivated to vote, George Santos would never have been sworn in as a congressman.

      [ETA: …this posted a little before I meant it to…but I guess I was getting around to the part where the NYT & staten island maybe weren’t the only things that de santis might think looked vulnerable from florida…but also there’s that bit right at the end about how someone like santos literally shouldn’t have been able to be elected if people who claim to lean the other way had voted in greater numbers…which…seems like it should have been do-able?]

    • Sheeran has a Heinz Tomato Ketchup tattoo on his arm

      JFC, as if I already didn’t care for this guy. Apologies in advance if any of you has a particular brand tattoo, but I’m gobsmacked that anyone would be that hard up for a creative thought in regard to putting something permanent on your skin.

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