Let’s privatize Donald Trump instead

gettyimages-461656522-e1436299461791We’ve all heard the amazing attribute of the man who promises to Make America Great Again. He’ll build a wall across the Southern Border with Mexico. It will be a Huge Wall. With lots of Keep Outs slapped on the Mexican side.

And Trump has promised to bomb all the terrorists right off the map, wherever they are. That will Make America Safe Again according this his exceedingly Huge Logic.

Then Trump has promised to bring all the jobs back to America. He’s guaranteed his supporters that he’ll cure our health care system of all its ills. He’s got a plan for that. And a plan for this. And a plan for that other thing.

Donald Trump may just be the best planner this world has ever seen. Trump is also going to cut taxes and get rid of America’s trade deficit by charging all kinds of tariffs on our trade partners. That’s how Donald Trump is going to make America a profitable nation again.

In fact, it seems to waste all this talent by electing Donald Trump to be President of the United States. After all, according to the philosophy of President Ronald Reagan, government is not the solution to the problems facing America, government IS the problem.

So why waste the prodigious talents of Donald Trump in government, especially in a job that requires as much time as being President of the United States? Well, we know that Donald plans to hand off all the real duties of the presidency to Mike Pence while The Donald runs around the country making even more promises about ways to Make America Great Again.

We should just save him all that trouble of handing off those responsibilities to anyone. Let’s privatize Donald Trump before he even has to worry about all those burdensome activities. It seems like he’d make a fine member of some posh business club where deals are made. That way he can make his deals without any bureaucracy in the way.

Privatizing Donald Trump on Election Day could be the best investment the United States has ever made. His skills would be put to much better use in the private sector than that pesky old government stuff anyway. In fact, if we privatize Trump efficiently enough, we’ll get a tw0-for-one deal with Mike Pence going into private business too!

Now that’s a wise investment if America has ever seen one. Privatize! Privatize! It’s the responsibility of every good Republican to do America this good favor and keep the skills of these two highly capable men out of the public sector where their talents will obviously be wasted. In fact everyone should save Trump and Pence from having to dirty their reputations any further by hanging around in government. Let’s spare them the trouble. It’s our duty as Americans.


The final answer to conservative problems is Donald Trump

Monarch scales

Ever since 1998, when I wrote an essay titled How the Earth Was Forgotten Since Creation, I’ve been conducting a personal campaign against less-than-compassionate conservatism and how it damages the world of politics, religion and the environment.

That initial essay about the effects of biblical literalism on environmental policies was expanded into a book that took seven years to research and write. I never thought it would take that long, but it did. When it was finished, I titled it “The Genesis Fix: A Repair Manual for Faith in the Modern Age.”

The book expanded in scale to cover politics as well as religion, focusing on how authoritarian minds in both sectors of human activity collaborate (for better or worse) on civil rights, science and cultural issues.

To analyze these processes, I deconstructed the manner in which people arrive at their worldviews, and why. Predictably, people who support biblical literalism also tend to align with conservatives who interpret the United States Constitution the same way, through originalism. And that is what has taken place over the course of thirty years.

Simple minds

It’s that simple, which is why it is also so common and dangerous to find authoritarians of both political and religious persuasions lining up to do battle with their perceived common enemies. That would be anyone who dares interpret the bible or Constitution any other way than a generally literal or original form of understanding. This has its limits, as we shall see.

IMG_3180Because there’s are major problems with all this literalism and originalism. Both sources of thought ignore the fact that our material and cultural understanding of the world has advanced incredibly since the Bible was written down and codified. And since the United States Constitution was written, slavery has been banned, and women were actually given the right to vote. But it nearly 200 years to accomplish these things because people clung to the letter of the law on both fronts. That is not just sad, it is immoral.

And there still seem to be some people who claim to like things the old-fashioned way. They do not give up easily on the notion that things were somehow better in the Good Old Days. In fact, they will fight to the death in some cases to prove their martyrlike devotion to literalism and originalism.


It’s all a product of what we colloquially call conservatism, which is defined as “adhering to original standards and traditions.” But the problem with old-line conservatism is that it often clings to traditions that deliver advantage to one sector of society while excluding another. This was certainly the case with slavery and this imbalanced dynamic has persisted to this day through discrimination and persecution of black people and other minorities in America. The same certainly holds true for attitudes toward women, on whom conservative men project patriarchal standards of behavior.

These beliefs often conveniently stem from anachronistic habits of mind taken literally from the Bible. For example, the idea that a man is inherently superior to a woman can be drawn from the idea that Eve was supposedly formed second in order, and from the rib of a man. It sounds so stupid when you say it out loud, yet some people insist this is the natural order of things.

This is what I wrote about the dangers of anachronism in my book The Genesis Fix:

This perspective is known as anachronism, defined as “(one) from a former age that is incongruous in the present.” Anachronistic beliefs are based on a refusal to accept or comprehend change. It is inevitable that anachronism begets asceticism, defined as “a life of strict self-denial, especially for religious purposes.” Both anachronism and asceticism depend on the idea that all worthwhile wisdom comes to us from the past. This attitude may serve the purpose of encouraging reverence for the wisdom of the ages but fails as a device to reconcile faith with knowledge in the modern age.

It’s all storytelling pap run amok, yet arch conservatives tend want to own the religious and cultural narrative so badly they can become obsessed with this rigid form of doctrine. This is also convenient, for it imbues them with a supposed authority over all other elements of society. This became an actual movement in American, when 40 years ago, thanks to the efforts of men like Jerry Falwell, groups of Americans decided that a rigid form of conservatism needed to be imposed on American culture. This movement ultimately attracted other authoritarian thinkers from the political, social and fiscal realms, and came to be known collectively as neo-conservatism, an oxymoron if there ever was one. It is also ironically known as “neo-liberalism.”

Chronology of neoconservatism

Back when I started writing my book The Genesis Fix in 2000, the Republican Party had just finished grabbing the Presidency through the workings of a cooperative Supreme Court. From watching the actions of both Ronald Reagan and George Bush the First, I had become highly suspicious of the behind-the-scenes workings of the GOP. I knew too well how the double-speak of arch conservatism worked on the environmental front. I’d seen how some political organizations and companies used “greenwashing” to cynically make themselves seem like environmental advocates. The same practice of grabbing a positive narrative to hide ulterior motives of greed or despoilation spread into politics as well. This was combined with a winner-take-all approach that led to what is called “scorched earth politics.” That is no coincidence of terminology.

But I sensed an entirely new level of hypocrisy in the actions and words of the people embracing neo-conservatism on many issues. Their Holier Than Thou actions and words resembled those of the Chief Priests who maligned Jesus in his day. And that raised real alarm bells in my head. We all now how that turned out, with the good of the world turned “inside out” in favor of political power and control.


And once Bush II took power with his claims that God was telling him to be President, the neoconservative ideology was unleashed in all new ways. At that point, suspicions about neoconservatism were confirmed and it had one thing in mind: wiping out the political opponents to install a long term reign.

But then came the negligence on the terrorist watch with the tragedy of 9/11 despite warnings issued well in advance. But by the time America had come to grips with the fact that we’d been attacked, the Bush administration was already floating the notion that we needed to attack Iraq, a nation that had nothing to do with the events on 9/11. That’s when it struck me that all the predictions I’d made in my book The Genesis Fix were about to come true. These were delusional, radically motivated people in charge.

Eight years of hell

The radical actions of neoconservatism continued throughout the eight years Bush held office. We even heard tales that some Zionists wanted Bush to take over the Middle East and bring on Armageddon. In some respects, we succeeded in bringing on a Holy War by attacking Iraq when that country had nothing to do with the foreseen attacks committed on American soil on 9/11.

Then Bush and his conservative cronies in the financial sector ran the economy into the ground as well. No one would admit it on the conservative side of the equation, but it looked like God really had it in for the Good Old USA.

That didn’t stop arch-conservatives like Pat Robertson from blaming natural disasters on the fact that gays were still allowed to live in the United States. The radicalization of conservatism has many such prophets. Most of them had Big Money and maintained little contact or concern for how the Middle Class and the Real People got by in America. When the economy crashed and millions of middle managers were cast aside in the fray and unable to find work, some in the corporate world responded by saying that they would not hire anyone that had been out of work for more than six months. This was evidence of the “I’ve got mine” brand of independence lacking in both compassion and understanding of how the nation’s economy works in the first place.

In fact, neo-conservatism has engaged in something of a war on the middle class as a rule, busting up unions and suppressing the minimum wage at every turn. It’s no surprise that this faction of society should go looking for a hero to Make America Great Again on promise of restored jobs and hope of a future. But there’s a cognitive dissonance at work in the thought that the people whose policies led to the economic crisis in the first place would be the ones to fix it. And Donald Trump is no exception.

Racism arises

The shrill cries of neoconservatives only got louder when Barack Obama won the Presidency. The sector of the Republican Party that is backed by folks who believe white people should rule the world rose up to fight the President on every front. The dog-whistle racism of men like Mitch McConnell was obvious, but no one likes to speak of such things in public if they can help it. Democrats are typically more polite than that, and Republicans just don’t want to admit its true. Somehow Obama made it through eight years of heck dealing with obfuscation and resistance, and accomplished some good things along the way. It could have been better perhaps, but simply fixing the nation after the crash of 2007 was enough of a challenge to start out, and getting change to work in an atmosphere of so much resistance made it difficult to get anything done.

Which sets the stage for the 2016 election. The GOP threw sixteen people on the stage who wanted to run for President, and all of them appeared to want to run against the tenure of Barack Obama. Yet the only one who stood out to bloodthirsty neoconservatives was a loudmouthed white guy with orange hair and a lot of money. In classic style, he fit all the worst aspects of neoconservative ideas. He was pronouncedly white with his awful combover hairstyle and peach-colored rouge all over his face. His snarling lips and manner of speaking had all the class and patience of a slavedriver, and his openly racist statements laid bare the naked intentions of a political party short on ideas but long on the lust for power. Whether they liked him or not, neoconservatives had their man. It was Donald Trump, all the way.

The Trump Factor

So Donald Trump roared through the primaries and became the Republican nominee for President. At first, supposedly principled men such as Ted Cruz refused to support Trump as the part nominee. After all, Trump’s bitter campaign tactics included personal attacks not only on the other candidates, but on their wives as well. This was new and fertile ground for the seeds of hate, and they began to sprout across the land. Trump supporters felt their man had unshackled the world from the binds of political correctness.

But Trump didn’t stop there. He openly maligned women in public, acting like an angry pimp toward any woman that stood in his way. He lined them up and knocked them around. Carly Fiorina. Megyn Kelly. And finally Hillary Clinton, whom he stalked like a physical abuser during their October debate.

The entire process has been a surly spectacle on the order of a coup by a psychotic Emperor aching to take over the Roman Empire. What the Republican Party needs to do now is get back to its roots.

As I wrote in my book The Genesis Fix:

The admirable goals of political conservatism; keeping the powers of government in check, protecting citizens from excessive taxation, maintaining moral certitude as a principle of government, and encouraging free trade and commerce are all noble ideals. 20  And at a values level, conservatism prides itself on support of tradition, liberty and love of God and country. Despite its reputation as a staid element of social structure, conservatism has at times been quite progressive in the manner with which it has pursued its goals, particularly as it set about using media outlets to communicate its message in from the 1980s to the present. Conservatism’s doctrinal approach to seeking power, influencing culture and leading government has attracted many followers.

The one lacking element in neoconservatism (versus true conservatism) is compassion. This is what I wrote in The Genesis Fix:

If you are looking for a single factor in the success of conservatism with the American public, convictions22 are the political capital of conservatism. Any discussion of politics, social policy or human welfare must contain a healthy dose of “convictions” to be taken seriously by members of the conservative alliance. People with strong convictions tend to love clarity, but the desire for absolute moral clarity among conservatives can lead to intolerance for other viewpoints and cultural prejudice. This may be one of the principle points at which conservatism contradicts the true message of the Bible. It is difficult for people to have compassion and tolerance for others if they are blinded by a discriminatory fixation on the competing interests of a material, political or personal priority. The missing component of doctrinal conservatism as it relates to Christian beliefs is therefore unqualified compassion.

And that is the heart of the matter with Donald Trump. He is the perfect expression of the lack of compassion in neoconservatism. One could argue that he took it a major step further than any neoconservative even dared. Even the likes of Newt Gingrich, arch-conservative that he is, have backed off the Trump Train because The Donald is the beast that neoconservatism created, yet cannot tame.

And that is why, from now on, whenever I am asked why neoconservatism or any brand of conservatism lacking compassion is such a contradiction to American values, I will calmly say the name of Donald Trump. He is the ultimate expression of everything wrong with what conservatism has become in its long arc from Ronald Reagan––who started this “hate the government” mess––all the way to now.

Government is not the problem as President Ronald Reagan once claimed. It’s the lack of belief that people can do good that is the problem in America. It is also a lack of concern for fellow human beings that is the vexation of this nation.

Conservatism has one thing right, and it is tried and true. Everyone needs to take responsibility for their own actions. But that does not mean finding ways to exclude others as equal stakeholders in the American Dream. That is where neoconservatism has led real conservatives astray.

Hopefully something can be learned by all this, and the Bad Example that emerged in the figure of Donald Trump. We need to get back to our belief in America for sure, but not at the cost of tossing people over the side of the ship, or blocking our borders, or dissing them in public if they don’t look like you, act like you, or go along with mad schemes of in religion, politics and culture.


The fire within: Saddam and The Donald

saddam-husseinWhen the United States turned its attention away from 9/11 to attack Iraq, people with a conscience in America asked, “Why?”

The reasons were made up and trotted out. “Saddam Hussein is a bad guy,” Bush tried to convince the nation. There were even misinformation campaigns linking Saddam Hussein to the events on 9/11. These were lies floated for ideological purposes.

See, the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party had long been looking for excuses to descend on the Middle East. 9/11 gave them that excuse.

The ugly truth of what happened once the United States conducted another round of Shock and Awe is that our soldiers on the ground gathered up and tortured Iraqi citizens in the very same prisons used by Saddam Hussein for those purposes.

dick-cheneyVice President Dick Cheney has defended the use of torture, and President George W. Bush has never officially disowned it. The talking heads on the conservative side such as Sean Hannity did some cheerleading about waterboarding but the torture at Abu Ghraib was much worse than that. Yet the only real voices ever heard from the Republican side against torture included John McCain, who was himself a victim of torture as a prisoner of war.

Yet the current nominee for President of the United States, one Donald Trump, actually ridiculed John McCain for being captured. The Donald also blithely accepted a Purple Heart given to him by some delusional supporter.

Yet despite this massive disrespect shown toward the sacrifice and pain of real soldiers in both combat and torture situations, Donald Trump has offered no regret for his remarks. Nor has he actually apologized for any of a long series of insulting words aimed at the disabled, blacks, Mexicans or women over the course of his campaign. All his apologies seem to be aimed toward his own fragile ego rather than those victimized by his ugly racism, bigotry and misogyny.

hillary-clintonYet some people like to claim that Hillary Clinton is the more dishonest and untrustworthy candidate. She has apologized for her remark about “deplorables” siding with Donald Trump. But she’s right. And that word “deplorable” is nothing on the order of the insults Donald Trump aims at people.

And unlike Trump, who has dumped three wives while simultaneously groping and gawking and harassing women his whole career, Hillary Clinton worked to repair the damage her husband caused to their marriage. Some of that was not pretty. The carnage from affairs never is.

But rather than show empathy toward this woman whose forgiveness and support of her flawed husband is exemplary in its example to work things out in a situation that was very public and less than perfect, people attack her for being calculating, mean and dishonest.

A month ago I got to witness the lengths to which some people will go to express their hatred for Hillary Clinton. A man that had friended me on Facebook through association with a business networking organization posted a meme on my Wall accusing Barack Barack Obama.jpegObama of being a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It is worth noting that I had long since Unfollowed this man due to his ugly, partisan posts. I only wish I’d Unfriended and Blocked him.

Because once I suggested that his post was inaccurate based on the fact that Obama was in a legitimate context by talking about his record while campaigning on behalf of Hillary Clinton, the guy went on a tirade. I repeatedly raised the issue of context, citing the fact that a President cannot talk about his own record and how his actions apply to his own party without mentioning his own name. Yet this man, supposedly a professional psychiatrist and Ph.D by trade, insisted that he could diagnose President Barack Obama as being possessed of Narcissistic Personality Disorder from the post he shared on my Timeline.

So I ended the discussion and took down the meme from my timeline. What happened next was the stunning part of this exchange.

This s0-called psychiatrist and supposedly Christian Family Counselor then Messaged me through Facebook demanding an apology for supposedly branding him a racist. What I’d actually suggested to him was that Donald Trump is a racist, and that anyone supporting Trump or the Republican Party at this point could legitimately be supporting racism as a result. This enraged the man.

So he went on the attack through Messenger as well. “You are a Sick Fuck,” he told me.

And at that point, I did Block him. Unfriended him too. His behavior was psychotic. And in that respect, he indeed mimicked the attack pattern of Donald Trump even though he claimed not to actually support The Donald as a candidate. “Anything is better than Hillary Clinton,” he had insisted.

urlBut his behavior proved him wrong. And just like the Republican leaders who tortured Iraqis after deposing Saddam Hussein for doing the same thing, that psycho doctor supporting Donald Trump earned the label he applied to me.

It’s an unfortunate truth that discussions on Facebook and other social media can quickly escalate this way. Surely organizations are at risk for having their reputations sullied as a result of people getting ugly on their social media sites. We all have our Personal Brands to protect.

But when you consider what has transpired in the political arena this year, and consider the self-fulfilling prophecy of how the Republican Party took its motives and beliefs to war in Iraq, and tortured people the same way Saddam Hussein did in those Iraqi prisons, it is all too clear where the righteousness stands in this political election. No one can defensibly claim that Donald Trump is a reasonable nominee or qualified to be President of the United States. Conservatives not only let this happen, they made it happen by seeking out the extremists of society to support their cause.

IMG_6707We’ve all had the unfortunate experience of encountering this ugly vein of society, the basket or bucket of deplorables as Hillary Clinton aptly branded them. More like a raging blaze in a firepit.

Again, her honesty about the ugliness of some elements of society may not be pretty, but it is very honest. The deplorables in society have used the rise of Donald Trump to spout anger and racism and cast blame on those they hate. It will be interesting to see if this disgusting fire can even be put out. Not likely.

The political Right deserves full blame for this national disgrace. They have been dishonest with themselves in allowing Trump to get this far. They have been dishonest with the nation in who the party has nominated in the first place. None of the sixteen candidates nominated by the party seemed fit in any way for national office. The zealots running the zoo on the Right side of the aisle have taken it all too far.

It’s time for Trump to step down, and Mike Pence too. The Republican Party should not have a candidate for President at all in 2016. The party is a disgrace that has tortured America with its extremism for far too long. Rather than an election, we should demand a National Apology, elect Hillary Clinton and move on. Nothing else is acceptable at this point. The Donald and Saddam are one and the same. The Republicans created them both as you’ll recall. It’s time to put a stop to this madness.

Rise of the Trumpiots

America has wallowed long enough in the post-modern era. After modernism, which dispensed with classic ideas, came post-modernism, defined on good old Wikipedia as “typically defined by an attitude of skepticism or distrust toward grand narratives, ideologies, and various tenets of Enlightenment rationality, including the existence of objective reality and absolute truth, as well as notions of rationality, human nature, and progress.[4]

Well, that modernism stuff is simply old hat isn’t it? And in the land of politics similar transitions have been occurring. We are witnesses to a process in which traditional conservatism gave way to neo-liberalism, defined on Wikipedia as “the 20th century resurgence of 19th century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism.[2]:7 These include extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy.” 

Back to the Future, in other words.

Neo-liberalism got its first political pelvic thrust from the likes of Ronald Reagan, who among other things, forcibly raped the unions and warned them it was only a first date. Thus the stage was set for a future that would turn out quite ugly forty years later.

Ronald Reagan.jpgThe Reagan Revolution was indeed a pact of aggressively regressive ideas that in reverberation through generations of equally zealous anti-government, anti-union and anti-liberal types, led to the collapse of the America economy after the forced romance started by Mr. Trickle Down Economics himself.

In other words: Neoliberalism backfired and the economy wound up face down and mortified.

But that just meant neoliberals needed something else to which they could cling to for honor in the face of a collapsing worldview. That’s when Post-Patriotism was born.

Bush911.jpgPost-Patriotism reared its head in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. It was formed by the likes of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who opportunistically turned a national crisis into a flag-waving excuse for imperial dreams.

Sensing or even anticipating the mood of the nation after such a massive terrorist attack, the Bush administration leveraged the political climate as an excuse to invade the Middle East. Bush and company invented an aggressive pretense linking Saddam Hussein to the events of 9/11. Hapless patriots bought the lie, and Post-Patriotism was born. Even some Democrats were cowed by the fearmongering used to convert anger over 9/11 into an excuse to attack Iraq and invade Afghanistan.

There was just one problem with the Post-Patriotic plan to take over the Middle East. The Post-Patriotic verve blew away with the smoke after a massive series of bombings did little to change things in either Afghanistan or Iraq. Without a succession plan in the wake of the overthrow of Hussein, Iraq dissolved into a mess and the focused rage of Americans after the 9/11 tragedy was tossed into a hornet’s nest of even more terrorism directed and aimed at American interests.

Then came news that American soldiers were torturing Iraqi citizens in the very same jails used by Saddam Hussein. That meant America quickly squandered the high ground of 9/11 because we behaved no better than the people we’d identified as the Bad Guys. Even die-hard patriots were left defending these egregious behaviors while jails like Guantanamo based in Cuba illustrated American hypocrisy and fear over hosting terrorists on its own soil. Under the leadership of Bush and Cheney, Post-Patriotism became a “loser take all” proposition. And America was losing face badly, and quickly.


Post-Patriotism has now gone all the way through an abstract phase in which it became the foundation for an entire ideology in which contradiction of terms is the prime modus operandi. That’s how the slogan “Fair and Balanced” became the calling card of Fox News, which clearly touts conservatism as its main foundation while characterizing contradictory facts as an expression of liberal bias. Yet this hypocrisy has proven highly popular in the era of Post-Patriotism, in which fear is the main selling point in politics and opinion.

Post-Patriotism has sold well in a media climate where real journalists are so easily shoved to the background or worse, openly mocked for any sort of intellectual confession that can be maligned as a product of the liberal elite and higher education.

Thus we arrive at the Low Brow conclusion of the Post-Patriotic era, where no intelligent person can defend rational ideas using basic tools like facts. The strategy for Post-Patriots going forward is simple: If none of your beliefs align with the moral or patriotic high ground, then you must aggressively occupy the low ground, and set about cutting people off at the knees, and at all costs.

alg-donald-trump-jpgThus we have moved into an era that is not just Post-Patriotic. It is Trumpiotic. That is the battlefield where truth itself is the enemy. Truth is the unmentionable obstacle to aggressive opinions served up as fact. That is exactly why fact-checkers have little or no effect on this new age of Trumpiots, who could not care less about what other people think.

In that vein, Trumpiots aggressively respond to accusations of racism by doubling down with even more racism, or even making the claim that racism did not exist before the likes of President Obama.


Trumpiots consider themselves the enlightened lot. It’s an easy claim to make in some respects. Their leader Donald Trump elucidates no common sense and outlines no firm positions. His notion of implementing political and social change is to radically change his opinion and expect people to follow along. His followers imitate this ruse, all the while claiming it is the responsibility of less enlightened citizens to “keep up.” As if ignoring accountability were an indication of true leadership.

06242016_boris_johnsonAnd so, we’re faced with a mass movement in America that is no longer tethered to any sort of values at all. This is the rally cry of Trumpiots, whose apparent devotion to their Orange Leader remains spookily familiar because history around the world has burped up others of his kin. Indeed, Great Britain has its own Donald Trump in the likes of Boris Johnson.

This is always what you get when conservatism runs amok, a brand of patriotism that eats its own kind. It is cannibalistic and shunts real patriotism to the side in favor of party loyalty. This is the age of the Trumpiots in America. May it not be long-lived.


Missing Hope and Change already

Obama-2.jpgWhen Barack Obama ran his presidential campaign on the premise of Hope and Change, anticipation ran high for what his election might bring. Perhaps people of color reasoned that a black president would transform the nation, eliminating racism or at least quelling the ardent discrimination that still exists. And to some degree, and for a while, it seemed, that felt like it was happening. But it did not last. We’ll get to the reasons why in a moment.

Wait a minute…

Part of the reason President Obama did not get off to a running start in race relations is that he had to repair a country under economic siege. Eight years under Bush had left America in a painful state of contraction. Markets were collapsed. Millions of people lost their jobs. The nation was embroiled in two directionless wars, and bleeding money along with the blood and live of soldiers who were being repeatedly thrown into conflicts from which victory could never be wrought. Those problems all stemmed directly from Republican initiatives.

So the Hope part of the initial stages of the Obama presidency necessarily was absorbed in bringinh back some semblance of control to a damaged economy and sense of purpose in the nation as a whole. The government played an important role in this massive venture, using infusions of stimulus cash to stabilize and rescue “Too Big To Fail” banks as well as a restructuring of the auto industry so that even more jobs would not be lost.

Partisan mopes…

Yet the naysayers wanted none of this brand of practical hope. Partisan mopes such as Mitch McConnell publicly stated that the “Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term.” The peripatetic Newt Gingrich admits that on the night of the Obama inauguration Republicans gathered in a meeting in which party leaders took a vow to block any initiatives Obama might try to implement.

Which brings us to the “change” part of the promise Obama promised to America.

Racial resistance

The first part of the change that shocked those who opposed the man was racial. That is, President Obama was the first black man elected to the nation’s highest office. That was a change unto itself that was a difficult shift in political balance. There was fear as well in resistance to the man who was both black and so obviously intelligent.

So those who feared the racial side of the new president grabbed on to what they could to try to bring him down. It was handy that his name, Barack Hussein Obama,  provided a convenient handle for xenophobes and racists who sought to make connections between the name “Hussein” and Middle Eastern terror threats. It wasn’t much of a leap for these same bigots to tie Obama to the perceptions of so-called Muslim terrorists, using the phrase “He’s a Muslim” as a patent form of insult. As if that were automatic.

The Birther movement

When in fact, President Obama stood for none of those things, yet attempts at scandalizing the man including very public attempts to prove that he was not even a United States citizen. It is worth noting that one of the leaders of the “birther” movement was none other than Donald Trump, who tried to force Obama’s hand on the issue and was ultimately shamed when the real birth certificate proved once and for all that President Obama was indeed a United States citizen from birth.

Fearmongering racists

But the hopeless and people afraid of change never give up, because fear is a powerful motivator. For the entire eight years that President Obama has served the nation, racist and fearmongering resistance has been aimed at him and his family. Some critics accuse Obama of further dividing the nation over race while some recently made the claim that racism did not even exist before President Obama was elected.

As CBS News reported,  “In an interview with the Guardian earlier this week, Kathy Miller, former chair of Trump’s campaign in Mahoning County, asserted that, “growing up as a kid, there was no racism, believe me.”

“I don’t think there was any racism until Obama got elected. We never had problems like this,” Miller said. “Now, with the people with the guns, and shooting up neighborhoods, and not being responsible citizens, that’s a big change, and I think that’s the philosophy that Obama has perpetuated on America.”

Take note of that comment by the now disgraced and recently resigned Kathy Miller about “change.” She even uses the term “big change,” to describe that she feels Obama caused racism to perpetuate.

Racism exposed, not perpetuated

In fact, what Obama ultimately did was expose the deep veins of racism that had been hidden in the dog-whistle language of conservative campaigns dating back to Reagan and the so-called “Southern Strategy,” in which conservatives identified a very real and fearful voting base that did not like Progressive policies, specifically those that granted equality to blacks and people of color across America.

So Hope and Change were the absolute last wishes of the Regressive Right in America. So it is no surprise that the candidate who emerged in the wake of Obama’s two terms in office is a man named Donald Trump. The Orange Nutcase gives voice to the ugliest tendencies in the American electorate. When Trump says Make America Great Again he is speaking the language of those who want to turn back time, make racism more acceptable and public and allow vigilante justice to take precedences over social justice.

So much for Hope and Change. What we got was Mope and Deranged, the two factions of Ne’er Do Wells and Fanatics now backing Donald Trump for President.

We’ll all be missing Hope and Change is Trump somehow gets elected.




Noah’s Ark and credulity

Credulity: a tendency to be too ready to believe that something is real or true.

The Chicago Tribune Travel section published a front page feature titled “Noah’s Ark Is a Big Deal.” The writer Josh Noel struggled mightily to remain objective in reviewing this tourist attraction in Kentucky fashioned after the biblical story of an ark that ostensibly carried breeding pairs of all the creatures on the earth.


But let’s start by offering up some facts. There are currently more than 10,000 species of birds in the world, a staggering figure all on its own. These species range from a thumb-sized hummingbird that lives in the tropical rainforest and feeds on tiny flowers to the eight-foot-tall ostrich that lives in hot, dry desert environments and eats whatever food it can find. There are flightless penguins that depend on cold Antarctic waters for protein and flightless cormorants that fish from the rocks of the Galapagos Islands in the South American Pacific. This diversity demands answers on how these species could arrive at and survive on an ark for which Noah supposedly gathered food for the needs of tens of thousands of species in advance of a 40-day flood.

The story of the Ark insists that one man was somehow able to provide food for more than 10,000 species of birds, all with specific dietary needs. There are also 5,416 species known species of mammals in the world.

But the really staggering appeal is that there are an estimated 30 million species of insects in existence on our planet. Consider that figure for a moment: 30 Million types of insects requiring specific host plants on which to breed and survive once they were released from the supposed confines of an Ark measuring only 500 meters long.

That’s a structure only five football fields long (either European or American football, take your pick) in which one man provided room and board for 30 million species of insects.

Of course, we also have to account for all the species that human beings have wiped out over the years. Just over 100 years ago market hunters drove an estimated 3 billion passenger pigeons to extinction. We also know that megafauna species such as wooly mammoth and mastodon once resided in North America, and were likely also hunted to extinction during the early settlement of the North American continent by people who emigrated from Asia. We know this because the genetic history of these people traces directly back to the Asian continent.

Chosen People 

Of course, that story defies the popular storyline that descendants of a “favored” (ne: white) race of people from the European continent sooner or later “discovered” America via a route across the Atlantic Ocean about 500 years ago. Or, as the subject of even more credulity, that a race of principally white people lived in America and gave rise to the Mormon religion. The fact that all these brands of Chosen People proceeded to commit documented genocide against the people, flora and fauna of this “new” continent is evidence of something else entirely. Mostly that they were ungodly, to say the least. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

Because first, we have to deal with the contention, according to the literal interpretation of the Bible favored by the Noah’s Ark museum, that humans once co-existed even with dinosaurs. So let’s consider the general history of dinosaurs. Scientists have documented more than 700 species of dinosaurs from the fossil record and by careful extrapolation posited the that there were between 1500- and 2500 species of dinosaurs in the world at one time.

This is much lower than the number of bird species now known to occupy the planet. But paleontological studies have shown that birds are essentially “living dinosaurs” and an extension of the dinosaur lineage known from the fossil record. Creationists defending the Ark Encounter might proudly claim this proves their point, that human beings can co-exist with dinosaurs. The problem with this contention is that creationists of the order that believes in a literal Noah’s Ark are incredulous about the theory of evolution, upon which basis the connection between extinct forms of dinosaurs and current forms of living birds firmly depends. To make one assertion without the other is a falsehood on the order of claiming that Jesus was not the Son of God, to put it in religious terms. In other words, a scientific blasphemy.

apatasaurosBut let’s consider the practical issues on a sustained basis. There are genuine problems with the notion that the ark could somehow hold the largest pairs of dinosaurs. Just one Apatosaurus had an average length of 21–22.8 m (69–75 ft), and an average mass of 16.4–22.4 t (16.1–22.0 long tons; 18.1–24.7 short tons). Imagine dozens of dinosaurs of gargantuan size, and the amount of plants and meat required to keep them alive for 40 days. The story of the Ark and Noah quickly begins to sink like a stone.


Thus credulity is a great problem for the abomination of a tourist attraction now resting on a plot of land near a manmade lake in Kentucky. The rationalizations to justify its creation are so manifold that no rational person can abide by them. Yet as writer Josh Noel acknowledges, the temptations to believe are inviting. “To these agnostic eyes, most stirring were the explanations of how the ark would have functioned. How did Noah and crew feed all these animals? Dump all that animal waste? Ventilate the ship? Gather fresh water? Let in light? Ark Encounter gives us answers in poster and video form, and they involve intricate systems that seem plausible enough. The ark is otherwise a fairly exhaustive look at what life would have been like on it…”

But given the massive lack of detail in the story of Noah’s ark, the museum Ark Encounter is a massive adventure in speculation. Then the author notices something odd in the display. “On the fourth floor, Noah and company relax in their rather plush living quarters. It’s also where I spied uniformed Answers In Genesis security guards wearing guns on their hips. Guns? On Noah’s Ark? Really?

“Yeah, well, that’s the world we live in,” an usher said.

Indeed it is. And by that measure, imagine the good that $100 million spent on creating Ark Encounter could have done to invest in the improvement of the human condition? Rather than recreating an incredibly implausible fantasy tale, that $100M could have  by been used to further access to modern agriculture for people in need, or provide vital water to needy children dying in the deserts of Africa. Instead, it stands as an 8th-grade level poster child for religious fundamentalism.

What would Jesus Do? 

The fact of the matter, if we study the real message of Jesus in the Bible, is that the Son of God would not have approved of all that excess and glitz. The Bible clearly shows Jesus castigating those who make displays of their righteousness and pray in public. And to set the record straight, Jesus himself employed highly organic parables featuring stories drawn from nature to illustrate spiritual principles. When questioned by his own disciples why he chose to use those methods of teaching rather than speak in literal terms, he castigated them, asking, “Are you so dull?” Jesus then explained that people needed allegories to better understand the working mind of God. And that is the foundation for the entire bed of scripture we know as the Holy Bible. For Christians it is the ark of our understanding afloat on a sea of fear, lost hopes and thirst for love and knowledge.

Jesus and metaphor

Jesus believed in metaphor because it does the work of God. Thus he almost violently resisted the efforts of those attempting to turn literal interpretations of scripture into law. As if to make that specific point, Jesus branded the Chief Priests of his day a “brood of vipers” and “hypocrites” for turning scripture into law. In other words, they were openly manipulating the nature of God’s Word.

The Book of John lucidly outlines this relationship between the metaphorical  Word and the foundation of all knowing. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”

This crucial passage from the New Testament does not demand that the Bible be taken literally. In fact, it demands quite the opposite. If the Word is an interchangeable way to describe God, then in both definition and practical purpose it is a metaphor. Case closed.

That makes the Ark Encounter a massive lie based on a literal interpretation of a story from the bible. The Noachian Flood may have roots in real events, but it is clearly limited in its understanding of what the “world” as a whole actually meant. Remember that there would still be an argument from the viewpoint of the Catholic Church that the Earth was the center of the universe, and the Sun revolved around it. Some believed for a very long time the earth was flat. These were all falsehoods debunked when empiric evidence proved otherwise. Yet religious leaders persecuted those who refused to accept the religious narrative. And that process continues to this day.

The Bible instead depends on the tool of metaphor for its knowledge foundation and our understanding of spirituality and the expression of the Kingdom of God here on earth. Jesus would tell the creators of the Ark Encounter that they have squandered an opportunity to do real good in this world in trying to win favor with God.

The Ark Encounter thus symbolizes the flood of misunderstanding, anti-intellectualism and science that is vexing our nation and the world to this very day. That is the real tragedy of the Noachian Flood, for it persists like the stench of muddy water across the landscape. If we are not willing to do the work to reconcile modern knowledge with the metaphorical foundations of the bible, then human beings as a race are doomed to die in a flood of our own stupidity.

Christopher Cudworth is the author of The Genesis Fix: A Repair Manual for Faith in the Modern Age. It addresses the many ways that biblical literalism affects politics, culture and the environment. Originally published in 2007, the book is being re-released on Amazon.com in 2016. His book The Right Kind of Pride: Character, Caregiving and Community, a journey through cancer survivorship, can be purchased on Amazon.com. 




Have we become a nation of cowards?

cowardsThe State of Missouri just loosened its gun laws making it easier and legal to carry a concealed weapon without much scrutiny. The Show Me State can obviously do what it wants, but isn’t it just a little ironic that a state with that motto is now making it easier for it citizens to conceal a weapon for whatever purpose they like? How is that not simply a relaxed license for murder?

Concealed Carry gun laws swept the nation under the guise that to carry a gun on your person at all times is the height of personal autonomy, a right guaranteed under the Second Amendment with the claim that the “right to bear arms shall not be infringed.” Taken literally, as gun proponents tend to do with the Second Amendment, that would mean that Concealed Carry is exactly that: an infringement on those rights. Forcing people to hide their weapons is a breach of the Second Amendment.

Which is why states that hate Concealed Carry have passed Open Carry laws, and why states such as Missouri are moving toward lack of regulation. A nation of selfish cowards needs to create laws that affirm their fearful neuroses.

What sane person actually believes a person needs to carry around a handgun for personal protection? What responsible person can’t manage to make a trip to the grocery store or other public places without carrying a sidearm on their hip, and out of sight?

The nation’s gun laws have been twisted by fearful zealots to affirm this sad, fearful set of beliefs. That means we all have to put up with the secretive habits of people afraid of their own shadows. The Home of the Brave has become Home of the Cowards. Because it doesn’t take bravery to carry around a gun. It takes someone perpetually afraid they’re going to die to carry around a gun. As William Shakespeare once wrote, “Cowards die many times before their deaths, the valiant never taste of death but once.” In other words, Concealed Carry laws are for all those people dying inside because they don’t have the courage to really live without deadly force at their disposal.

The reasons for these fears are manifold. Some fearful gun toters are racists. Others imagine the government is planning martial law or tyranny. Still others love the idea that a gun means power in any social circumstance. But that’s still a fearful worldview, for it is based on an implement of justice, not civility.

On one hand gun proponents cite the fact that gun crime is down in America. Yet these same people somehow cite the need to carry a weapon around as if they were part of a roaming militia needed to patrol the streets of America.

But where that dynamic creates the most havoc is in urban neighborhoods where lawlessness truly is rampant. That’s where proliferation of handguns is highest. Conveniently, these people are branded “irresponsible” gun owners to excuse the massive degree of gun violence they commit. But actually, these folks are technically obeying the letter of the law, if not the spirit. See, the definition of a threat is up to the gun user. No one else gets any say in the matter when guns are unleashed.

So the only difference between the urban gunfighters and those seeking to tote guns into a situation such as church is circumstance. When a young white man brought weapons into a black church in the South and opened fire, killing nearly a dozen people, even that small measure of perceived safety in the house of God was spattered in blood.

Some gun proponents have the gall to suggest that circumstances such as these are the fault of people sitting in church unarmed. Of course that would defies the very reason for going to church at all, which is to trust God in all things. By that literal logic, we must assume that people gunned down in church are simply the victims of God’s will.

If you don’t believe that to be the cause, then the real culprit is clear. America’s gun laws have evolved into an unholy expression of the selfish, fearful interpretation of the Second Amendment that led to Concealed Carry in the first place. Gun zealots who like to brand themselves brave defenders of social justice deceive only themselves. In fact they are the true cowards in a society that does not need their brand of gutless guile.


11 degrees of belief about 9/11

Every time the anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy comes around, America works quite hard at the task of commemorating the events of that day. On Facebook the patriotic memes arrive bearing the words NEVER FORGET. Television news dutifully marks the anniversary as well. Yet since that event on September 11, 2001, the story of what transpired that day has been interpreted in many ways in a process that is continually evolving.

But like so many American historic events there is far more than one opinion about the nature of what 9/11 really means. The United States has a history of divided opinion, after all. That’s why so many sympathizers to the cause of the Confederate South still love to fly that flag.

We should be so lucky to have such a clean dividing line about the meaning of 9/11. The story of what transpired that day is subject to many interpretations. Some are quite controversial and extend from a range of conspiratorial theories to the contention that only God could have caused such a horrific tragedy in order to teach some sort of lesson to the United States with its liberal ways.

What follows is list we’ll call the 11 Degrees of Belief About 9/11. You will notice that the standard narrative is firmly fixed in the middle of the list. As such, it does not count as a degree of belief. To whit, this the interpretation of 9/11 events as provided by the 9/11 Commission Report and therefore reported by a wide range of media outlets. We might more conveniently call this the “normal” beliefs about what happened on 9/11.

But take a look at this list and consider the fact that America actually has a wide-ranging set of beliefs about 9/11. Most of these theories also speculate on what either led to or allowed the attacks to happen. It also covers some of what the nation did (or has done) in response to that fateful day.

You will no doubt disagree with some of these theories, but that does not change the fact that these beliefs exist here in American and among people around the world.

11 DEGREES OF 9.11.jpg

We’ll share a couple links to demonstrate that many people share these degrees of belief about 9/11.

It was planned, an INSIDE JOB: 9/11 Truther Movement

The belief that 9/11 was an “Inside job” has gained traction through the ability to distribute unfiltered information through the Internet. One of the most famous proponents of 9/11 as a conspiratorial event is none former Minnesota Governer Jesse Ventura. Truthers question several key aspects of the Standard Narrative, especially that jetliners could generate enough heat to cause steel to melt in the Twin Tower and produce the “free fall” in both buildings despite the fact they were struck at highly different angles. The fact that Building 7 was never struck by a plane yet also fell in freefall fashion suggests a controlled demolition. As for the Pentagon, there is no discernable video showing an actual plane striking the most highly guarded military building in the world.

The Bush Administration was COMPLICIT, and allowed 9/11 to happen

This is how a recent article in The Guardian described the contentions of novelist and political commentator Gore Vidal: “America’s most controversial writer Gore Vidal has launched the most scathing attack to date on George W Bush’s Presidency, calling for an investigation into the events of 9/11 to discover whether the Bush administration deliberately chose not to act on warnings of Al-Qaeda’s plans.”

The White House IGNORED WARNINGS about 9/11

9-11-flag.jpgAs reported in the New York Times, “On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning’s “presidential daily brief” — the top-secret document prepared by America’s intelligence agencies — featured the now-infamous heading: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” A few weeks later, on 9/11, Al Qaeda accomplished that goal.”

The Bush Administration was INEPT about responding to terror warnings

During the 2016 Republican campaign, candidate Jeb Bush said of his brother, “He kept us safe.” But pundits characterized that statement as false, considering the attacks on 9/11 happened under the watch of the Bush administration. 

Bush was UNSUSPECTING on the day of 9/11

The story that Bush was as surprised as the rest of us on 9/11 is illustrated by the videotape of his behavior that morning while reading a book to children at a public school. His reaction and confusion were to some people a sign of great personal control while others saw him as either indecisive, scared because he actually did know what was going on that day or too dumb to know what to do. Recently reports have emerged that Bush wanted to get back to Washington but instead spent eight hours in the sky aboard Air Force One.

The STANDARD NARRATIVE is that 9/11 was carried out by terrorists on American soil 

The narrative credits 19 Saudi hijackers with flying commercial airlines into the Twin Towers, another airliner into a ground level attack on the Pentagon and a fourth airliner that was essentially wrestled to the ground by passenger who rallied around the cry “Let’s Roll.” The 9/11 Commission Report is the official government record of 9/11. 

OSAMA BIN LADEN was responsible for the attacks

The principle villain identified in the attacks was the expatriated Saudi militant living in Afghanistan who conceived and planned the 9/11 attacks from afar. Bin Laden heightened the profile for Al Qaeda, a network of terrorists bent on undermining Western influence in the Middle East. Interestingly, and as reported on Fox News, it was not until three years after 9/11 that bin Laden was officially reported to have admitted causing the attacks.


As an irritant to Middle Eastern countries, western nations such as the United States have long occupied and even wrangled resources out of nations such as Iraq and Afghanistan. These corrupt, “behind the scenes” activities are sometimes driven by the CIA, whose actions are not always well-known or documented even by our own government. This presentation of the US as a “goody-two-shoes” while engaging in behind the scenes regime change to install leaders favorable to our economic interests, and conducting clandestine drugs for weapons or other illegal activities. This makes America a keen target for what was essentially an economic attack on 9/11. How ironic it truly is that American turned around and doubled-down on its efforts to channel more drugs and oil and other resources its way through invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. It may well be a self-fulfilling prophecy.


A tertiary theory developed through claims of the Bush administration that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein took part in or originated the 9/11 attacks. This is how it was reported in USA Today in 2003, “Poll: 70% believe Saddam, 9-11 linkWASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly seven in 10 Americans believe it is likely that ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, says a poll out almost two years after the terrorists’ strike against this country.

Sixty-nine percent in a Washington Post poll published Saturday said they believe it is likely the Iraqi leader was personally involved in the attacks carried out by al-Qaeda. A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents believe it’s likely Saddam was involved.

The belief in the connection persists even though there has been no proof of a link between the two. President Bush and members of his administration suggested a link between the two in the months before the war in Iraq. Claims of possible links have never been proven, however.”

MUSLIMS DID IT; Al QAEDA AND ISIS AND ISIL are America’s greatest threats

As the supposed direct cause of the 9/11 tragedy, militant Muslim terrorists have become a source of permanent angst for many Americans. Presidential candidate Donald Trump even proposed a ban on Muslim immigrants to America during his 2016 campaign. This characterization of all Muslims being terrorists if highly inaccurate, yet the 9/11 tragedy affixed this reputation by association.

Since the 2008 election, the Republican Party has blamed President Obama for further inflaming Muslim terrorism, crediting him with opening the door to ISIS by withdrawing troops from Iraq. In fact, the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq was negotiated by the Bush administration carried out by Obama according to a plan developed in direct collaboration with the government of Iraq.


911.conspiracy_theusindependent.jpgThere are those who theorize that 9/11 was simply a false flag attack (re: an event either orchestrated for effect or carried out to create fear, confusion or a reactionary belief) by a sophisticated secret network of operatives that report to no government, or who conspire with or within a government to achieve specific monetary or political control.

GOD CAUSED or ALLOWED 9/11 to happen

Some people see 9/11 strictly in a religious context.The site Ecclesia.org quotes Billy Graham’s daughrer this way: “She said “I believe that God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman that He is, I believe that He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand that He leave us alone?” In light of recent events…terrorists attack, school shootings, etc. Let’s see, I think it started when Madeline Murray O’Hare (she was murdered, her body was found recently) complained she didn’t want any prayer in our schools, and we said OK.”

And thus, according to some religious zealots, we dissed God. And therefore, we asked for it.


So it’s interesting to examine the wide spectrum of beliefs about what transpired on 9/11. It is also chilling to realize how much false information has been internalized by so many people. When one considers that 70% of people polled at one point believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, and that our government directly suggested this to be the case, and people accepted that as Gospel, it is a valuable exercise to review the rest of what people believe about 9/11.

And one wonders, if the official information about who caused 9/11 could be so wrong, then what else are we being asked to believe about that day that might also be devilishly wrong?

It’s a little hard to believe that God might wipe out 4000 people to make some sort of theological point. Yet the Bible shows God ordering the death of many people in acts of genocide, and wiping out the earth’s human population in the Noachian Flood. So the fundamentally religious perspective of some Christian believers is both extreme and distasteful. It is also no coincidence that it is religious fundamentalists and extremists sprouting from the Muslim faith that are doing some of the killing as well. This proves that we can trust neither set of extremists with our future as the human race.

The same dynamic occurs with our trust in government, or lack of it. People who hate government see all sorts of potential evil. And to be sure, governments run second only to religions in terms of corrupt and vicious behavior. So we might consider that the Bell Curve with most believers likely supporting the Standard Narrative as the most plausible explanation for 9/11 could also be far off.

911.jpgThat leaves us begging for answers from both sides of the political fence. Both liberal and conservative interests could vastly benefit from examining the truth about what happened that day in 2001. So much potential evidence in the rubble of the Twin Towers was shoveled up and shipped away to China. The molten steel flowing like a river below Ground Zero at the World Trade Center both fascinated and horrified structural engineers and architects. Under the banner of Science of 9/11, many of these building professionals have demanded a fuller investigation than the 9/11 Commission Report.

The White House initially resisted the need for any investigation, first  nominating the secretive Henry Kissinger to conduct any commission or study. That was declined. Yet participants in the actual commission maintain that the effort was “set up to fail.” 

Initially, only $3M was budgeted. Then it was raised to $14M. Yet the Clinton sexual affair scandal investigation budgeted $100M.

All this points to a warped perspective on the significance of 9/11 as an historic event in America’s history. The real story has obviously been suppressed from the very day it occurred. Much of the narrative has been defined by fears projected on the aftermath and toward people who appeared to be engaged in a coverup or misdirection of the meaning of the 9/11 tragedy.

It’s not just one lie, but many that mislead us about how we remember 9/11. That’s a serious problem for the nation. But it is also a serious problem for the world, and what anyone of us believe about it.





A lesson about dithering squirrels

squirrel-deadOn the way home from the art studio this Sunday morning, I slowed the car to allow a squirrel in the street to make a decision about which way to go. You know the story. The squirrel turned one way, then the other. Suddenly it scampered to the curve.

But you can’t always see the results of those frantic decisions until you’re another forty feet down the street. We all tend to glance back hoping the squirrel did not get crushed under a car tire. That’s when guilt grips us if we have a conscience. A life wasted, it seems, by random activities in the universe.

Except random activities are the rule of the day. They happen every second for all of eternity. As far as your mind can travel, there are squirrels of one kind or another making choices all the way from the subatomic level up the expanding travels of a galaxy through time itself.

That is evolution in progress. Squirrels are either getting run over or living to face yet another day. The squirrels left dead on the street often get run over again and again. Their bodies are either eaten by scavengers, consumed by worms and bacteria or simply crushed into the asphalt as a grease spot that no one notices.


Now there used to be a theory or two in theology that said God controlled every one of these activities. Everything in the universe was made to order. God worked like a fast order chef or a control freak head waiter at a busy restaurant. That was predestination.

squirrel-on-the-roadBut that makes God out to be a pretty bad character, the dispenser of evil as well as goodness. Which makes for thorny questions when it comes to the personal fate of members of the human race, who are so preoccupied with their own destinies they can hardly comprehend their real place in the universe.

That’s also what makes it so difficult for some people to imagine that the human race emerged from the same soup as the rest of life on earth. Never mind that the soup runs through our veins is blood that mimics ocean water in its salinity, or that we share 3/4 of our genetic makeup with just about every other living thing on earth.

Never mind. That’s too much alignment for squirrels that prefer to dither over less relevant facts. Like whether Mary was a Virgin, or that John the Baptist was lefthanded. And so on.

Dither yonder

When it comes to certain types of decision-making, human beings are as dumb as squirrels and make just as many bad choices. Hundreds of thousands of people die each day due to the simple arithmetic involved in bad decisions at the wrong time. Add in the selective pressures of war and famine and natural disasters, all of which are largely avoidable with a little cooperation, and human beings don’t look so smart even in the context of predestination.

But when you look through all this dithering through the cool eye of evolution, it’s all entirely predictable. 99% of all living things that have ever existed in the earth’s history are now extinct. The age of dinosaurs lasted millions of years but ultimately most of them died off through unforgiving circumstances. God didn’t stop that from happening. Not at all. The birds that evolved from dinosaurs or actually are dinosaurs made out okay. But many of them are at risk these days as well, sucked into the Black Hole of the Anthropogenic Age where the gravity of human activity sucks things into non-existence never to be seen or heard again.

Endangered species 

These days, hundreds of species of animals, plants, insects and other life forms are threatened by a new wave of extinctions. This is indeed the Anthropogenic age, when extinctions and climate change and other earthly devastations once-credited to God are now exacted with the same casual precision as a squirrel burying a nut in the wasted Garden of Eden.

Just in the last 100 years, species of birds such as the Passenger Pigeon that once numbered in the billions have been erased from history. Extinct. No more exist. All dead. Nuts buried by squirrels too busy market hunting to care about the eventual outcome. No one stopped to tell them they were nut for shooting so many birds.

The same thing almost happened to the American bison, which now exists mostly in carefully tended herds that number a fraction of populations that once roamed the Great Plains. Just as painful are the losses of flora and fauna we can’t see.

The once great tallgrass prairie is reduced to 1/10th of one percent of its former range.

These were all actions caused by human beings. Thus they represent an engagement in the process of evolution. People who deny this fact typically rely on their own Origin of Species based on a literal interpretation of the Bible. The only explanation they can offer about the extinction of species is a reputed Great Flood that covered the entire earth. Ostensibly the fellow named Noah gathered enough living and breeding sets of life forms on the Ark to repopulation the entire world.

tx-blind-salamander-picture-1To accomplish this feat would have required, of course, a blind salamander from the caves of Texas to crawl across the entire western European continent, swim thousands of miles across a saltwater ocean, climb onto the dry land of the Eastern Seaboard and swim all the way to what is now the State of Texas, crawl across hundreds of miles of parched landscape to where a small population of said blind salamanders still lives and breeds to this day.

The absurdity is not assuaged by the claim that “all things are possible with God.” The examples of impossible migrations are so vast and so daunting that the tale of Noah’s Ark quickly falls into the category of metaphor.

The part of the story that does apply is that human beings do apparently bear some responsibility for the welfare and stewardship of animals, plants and other species on this earth. The entire earth is an ark, if you will. And human beings are doing a really crappy job of playing Noah, wiping out hundreds of species of life forms every year.

The Flood story strongly suggests that God is not afraid of extinction. That fact is borne out by what we know about patterns of extinction through the sciences of paleontology, biology and the theory of evolution.

To explain God’s relationship to these harsh events, one merely has to acknowledge the presence of free will in the universe. The squirrel on the road makes a choice when a car approaches. It runs back and forth and either gets nailed by a tire or escapes. There is nothing sentimental about this process. It is free will at work.

IMG_0492Human beings thus are subject to choices made by free will as well. These choices fuel or place in the process of evolution. We make good choices, we live. When we make bad choices, sometimes we die. This is true on both an individual and collective basis. Evolution takes place largely in incremental fashion, but it can also roll out in wholesale destruction if human beings fearfully agree to respond to life’s circumstances like a herd of squirrels.

We don’t see squirrel migrations every day, but it happens now and then when population or environmental pressures drive squirrels to migratory madness. Let us consider a documented tale from the early 19th century: “Here is how, In 1811, Charles Joseph Labrobe wrote in The Rambler in North America of a vast squirrel migration that autumn in Ohio: “A countless multitude of squirrels, obeying some great and universal impulse, which none can know but the Spirit that gave them being, left their reckless and gambolling life, and their ancient places of retreat in the north, and were seen pressing forward by tens of thousands in a deep and sober phalanx to the South …”

At times human beings are subject to the same sort of social madness. Then the human race behaves like a huge pack of squirrels or lemmings rushing off a cliff. Normally, squirrels in their home environment are typically cautious and predictable. They use the same paths to get from tree to tree.

But when forced out in the open, or faced with confusing situations such as an oncoming car, squirrels equivocate, turning back and forth in desperate reaction to a world outside their evolutionary understanding.

When faced with the unknown, human beings act no differently than squirrels on a high way. This is true among individuals and group populations. Human culture is squirrelly, and fear can turn otherwise rational people into fearful sheep.

And while squirrels are supposedly a much lower species than apes, there are people who consider the idea that human beings descended from earlier forms of primates a real insult. But when it comes to the sometimes squirrelly thinking and behavior of entire nations, to be considered on par with an ape would be a good thing.

squirrel-on-road.jpgThe human race is experiencing a “squirrel on the highway” moment when it comes to dealing with climate change. The back and forth between those who accept the evidence and those who deny its verity is causing the human race to dither and change direction on the subject. Meanwhile, the Big Wheels are Turning and heading our way. If the human race does not figure out how to slow down the rate of climate change, we really will get run over. Coastlines will flood. Hurricanes will increase their destruction. The human race will be forced to evolve in a hurry to deal with climactic extremes that will produce highly unpredictable weather.

Some people consider that bunk. They cover their heads with their squirrel tales or insist that the Great Squirrel in the Sky is the only Keeper of Climate Change. But that only amounts to ignoring the roar of the engine around the curve and the threat of the fat tires about to crush the collectives spines of a million squirrels dithering back and forth on the highway.

And some squirrels don’t even care. Safely ensconced in their Wealthy Squirrel Hideaways with plenty of nuts to gnaw, they could not give a rat’s ass if a few millions other squirrels get turned into Global Road Kill. It’s none of their concern. There are the I’ve Got Mine Squirrels that actually take pride in the act of driving the trucks that run over other squirrels. And for some, that is considered a great sport.

But it’s true. When global warming kicks in an temperatures rise across great expanses of continents such as Africa and South America and North America, mass migrations of people will take place in regions where intense heat and desertification takes over.

And still there will be dithering by the rich and powerful, and fearful meandering by those trapped in the horrific cycle of heat and drought and flooding. The Bible fails

Even The Holy Bible fails misterably in providing hope or solutions to this apparent dilemma of a worldwide threat to human existence. After all, God ostensibly enabled the Great Flood that called Noah into action. If we can believe the text, then it was true that all the people of the earth, other than a select few, were wiped out.

God also brought Hail and Brimstone down on Sodom and Gomorrah in rash treatment for the excesses of those cities and their inhospitality to strangers, especially angels.

angelsAnd let us not forget that God even allowed the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. That scattered his ostensibly Chosen People like a band of squirrels, out into an inhospitable world where they got run over and enslaved in many cases. But a few eventually banded together and returned to their home turf, where they reside to this day in a form a bit evolved from the original. Because that’s how evolution works, you see.

The entire process of survival is always a bit squirrelly for all involved. Squirrels able to anticipate and adjust their behavior while crossing the Road of Existence most often survive. But among human beings, there is also a moral responsibility to share those instincts for survival, and even hold paws with those more likely to dither or get crushed. That’s the role of government and of scripture, to enact the decisive course of humanity.

Because whether you view it through the eyes of scripture or the cold lens of an evolutionary viewpoint, it never pays to be a dithering squirrel.



The world in which the dots seldom truly connect

IMG_3180Years ago, while monitoring the latest inanity of Rush Limbaugh, I was interested to hear Rush twist the words of the late Jack Kervorkian, to some known as Doctor Death, on the practice of helping terminally ill patients with assisted suicide.

The medical compassion of Kervorkian offended arch-conservatives, who seem to take consistent pleasure in insisting that a life in pain and misery is still much better than No Life At All.

Who can forget the hand-wringing intrusions on the end-of-life events surrounding Terry Schiavo, the woman lost to a coma, and whose husband simply wanted to give her a dignified ending? So-called life experts ranging from Sean Hannity to Every Other Conservative On the Planet turned the woman’s case into a battleground for medical and personal ethics, claiming that she should be kept alive no matter what.

The hand-wringing of End of Life issues continued when the Affordable Care Act came down the pike. Conservatives rushed to the forefront by claiming there would be “death panels” shutting down care for people in old folks homes and beyond. The lies were rampant. Rush: “The bureaucracy is going to make the decisions. You aren’t. And it’s in the House bill. Once you reach, I don’t know what the age is, every five years, it’s in the sixties, every five years some counselor shows up.” And Sean Hannity: “In other words, they would mandate that those who get government care literally could be pushed to refuse care.”

These were exaggerations of lies about the plan. But conservative power trips always start with the fearmongering inaccuracies. For example, that day I listened to Rush Limbaugh blabbing about Dr. Jack Kervorkian, he falsely quoted a description by the doctor of what he favored in life. Kervorkian advocated what he called “personal autonomy” in being able to choose the timing of your own end when terminal illness tears out the quality and meaning of life.  But what Rush chose to hear, and how he characterized the words of Kervorkian was a very different thing. “He’s in favor of anarchy,” Rush claimed.

Autonomy and anarchy are two very different things. Autonomy means independence or freedom, as of the will or one’s actions.” And that’s a value most conservatives would gladly embrace. Yet in this instance, Limbaugh saw it a different way.

After all, personal autonomy could not possibly extend to the right to end one’s own life when faced with a terminal illness, could it? That, according to Limbaugh, equalled “anarchy,” defined as: a state of society without government or law,” and political and social disorder due to the absence of governmental control.”

How very ironic that Limbaugh and his cohorts should claim that the absence of government equates to chaos and anarchy. Neoconservatives going back to Ronnie Reagan have long and loudly complained that government is the source of our society’s problems. Where does this hatred of government go when use of government suits the conservative claims to morality?

This is the cognitive dissonance and a refusal to “connect the dots” in conservative ideology pertaining to both morality and government. While conservatives advocate personal liberty and responsibility in public, too many it inconvenient and difficult to grant that right when they find something in the world that is uncomfortable or contrary to their highly selective and often repressive morality.

So they turn to government as the tool to impose their views upon society as a whole. This is how (and why) conservatives oppose the so-called “gay agenda.” That “agenda” is nothing more than a push to be granted the same civil rights to marriage and work compensations as defined by the United States Constitution. But again, this is an inconvenient truth to the ugly, judgmental morality favored by arch-conservatives, who in finding their own beliefs logically indefensible, choose the tool of law as a means to ignore that their convictions do not align with America’s founding principles.

Conservative hypocrisy on issues of personal and civil justice cross the entire spectrum of human existence. In religious discourse, the claims that “religious liberties” are blocked in by community refusal to post signs bearing the 10 Commandments on public property…or imposing group prayer in public school classrooms…or returning the Pledge of Allegiance to its original version in which the words “Under God”  were not included… are all somehow all intrusions on the free expression of religion in America. When in fact, these actions of barring imposition of religion on the public are in keeping with the constitutional call for freedom from religion if one so chooses under America’s freedoms.

So you see, the goals of conservatives are not about religious freedom at all. They instead favor religious imposition, specifically (and typically) a conservative Christian version of said faith.

But let’s examine the “religious freedom” claim from another perspective. No Christian conservative of record has ever come out in support of allowing Muslim students to bend down in prayer during public school time in accordance with the demands of Islamic faith. That brand of religious freedom apparently cannot be tolerated in America. That fact proves the dots of logic never really connect in conservative ideology. It is aggressively hypocritical to claim any such thing.

And in cases where the dangerous dots should be connected, as in the recent instance in which Donald Trump issued a veiled edict to beckon “Second Amendment people” to take out his opponent in order to carry out a twisted form of political justice, conservatives wrongly try to fob it off as a joke. They refuse to connect the dots at all.

The same goes for the refusal to connect the dots between mass shootings, gun crime and the massive proliferation of powerful guns in America. There are now literally more guns than people in the United States. It should be simple math that tells the story. The police themselves are outgunned and outmanned by this fact, and have thus been forced to militarize. The result is that we now have not one, but two supposedly “well-regulated militia” squared off in the public sphere. Guns take lives through both murder and suicide. They enable the madness that takes over the human mind, yet are celebrated in popular fiction and in Wild West tales of gunslingers and heroes who kill or assassinate for a living. What do we think is going to happen when these are the kinds of dots we choose to connect between solving troubles and killing those with whom we disagree?

Yet conservatives have ignored these disturbing straight-line causes of violence, and as such have fobbed off Trump’s calls for violence toward protestors and ignored his cloying association with racists. The Republican Party turned a blind eye to his misogyny and indeed, some in Christian conservative circles even welcomed him in direct defiance of the tenets of a faith that by definition calls for extensions of forgiveness and love. But Trump promises power, and the Christian church and the Jewish faith before that has fallen prey to the seduction of flawed yet powerful leaders. Even God reputedly told David at the end of his life that he was not fit to build a temple in his honor because there “is too much blood on your hands.” And after that, the Catholic Church was seduced into power-hungry madness and politics, slaughtering its enemies, sending mercenaries out on Crusades, persecuting Jews, torturing people for blasphemy and acting like religious goons until Martin Luther came along and started the Protestant Reformation.

But it hasn’t stuck. People in religious power still don’t get that they are often the self-righteous enemies of God. One can see that in the manner in which the current Pope Francis is castigated by political conservatives for expressing the very tenets of Christian faith. “He’s not a true Christian!” they scream through the news media.

Into this void in morality comes Donald Trump like the new King Herod, swinging those promises of power and debauchery around like there’s no tomorrow. He’s even bragged about his penis size in public, and lusted after his own daughters. This is a man of corrupted values of near biblical proportions. And yet conservatives have been forced to embrace him in a devil’s kiss because he bears the political covenant of a party.

That has freed the man to go around wildly calling for nuclear strikes as a pre-emptive global strategy. Trump thinks he is a king of the world before he is even crowned. He takes only his own counsel as worthy of consideration. These are the antics of an insane ruler, a modern Caligula as it were. But not a man adept at connecting the dots, except those he chooses to promulgate his own self-serving reality. Madness, in other words.

Those of us with brains have connected those dots, and we don’t like what we see. The disconnected process by which Trump rose to potential power is a direct result of broken logic that fuels the entire neoconservative movement, that led us into Iraq on falsified information and that led to thousands of American lives destroyed in a war of choice. We also murdered hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq and yet wonder why terrorism still persists.

That would be the product of our own hate as a brand of diplomacy, force as a tool for justice, propaganda as a form of “fair and balanced” information, and lies as a cruel joke foisted on the American people. Obama did not cause ISIS or ISIL or whatever you want to call it. He merely fulfilled a course into which America was forced by people determined to rule without responsibility. Even a responsible president cannot immediately cure that insanity once it has begun. He is even “blamed” for the withdrawal from Iraq that was negotiated by the administration of George W. Bush. The Iraqis demanded it. So the lies about Obama’s “mess” in the Middle East are actually the product of cause and effect. We broke those countries and it has cost trillions in time and treasure trying to fix them.

And given this record of falseness in domestic and international calculation, we can therefore also connect the dots clearly connecting the lies and misinformation distributed by conservatives about Hillary Clinton.  These are contraindications of the bankrupt aims of neoconservatism, which cares only about power, not the people it is supposed to serve. They hate Hillary Clinton for the things she does best, which is play hardball politics and bat back information that may or may not be fact. She may in fact be one of them, as a possibility, which is why both the Right and the Left have suspicions that have not been resolved. The whole thing reads more like an ugly sibling rivalry than a classroom scuffle.

But Trump is the scary uncle in all this, which is evidenced by his own fearfmongering reproach. Weird Uncle Donald with his secretly sexual past recently fixed his angry stare at his female opponent, pointing fingers while questioning her mental fitness for the job of President. This was Trump’s reaction to the fact that his own sanity was being questioned by legitimately concerned professional psychologists, who see clear signs of psychopathy, sociopathy or some other pathologic condition to which he will never admit, but confesses to daily in his words.

Meanwhile, conservative Internet bandits have been distributing a photo of Hillary Clinton being helped up some icy stairs during a campaign event last February. Their claim was that she is in poor physical health as well. The photo was posted out of context, and far out side the realm of truth.

But that’s been the tool of conservatism for so long, there is no longer any truth left in the movement. So many have falsely tried to connect dots in the Hillary Clinton narrative and been debunked in hearings and the court of law that it is the punitive actions that count, not the results. The Right has done this to promote belief that she’s a crooked human being. Some on the Right love to claim that supposedly sane people have simply refused to connect the dots in her political history. But when those dots are scrambled to a pointless, pointillist approach of peppering her narrative with untruths there can be no credibility. The truth is paved over with the lies and hatred of her accusers.

Yet Trump can stumble and bumble and make up disconnected lies at will, and rabid conservatives buy his disconnected thoughts lock, stock and barrel. Because there is an investment in his lies. It is the only way conservatives can further bury the consequences of poor governance and the failed policies that have gutted America, torn up our global reputation and turned the nation into a reactionary republic rather than a leader in the world. Were it not for the steady, considerate hand of President Obama, criticized as he was from the moment he took office, there would be no recovery at all. Romney or McCain or Palin or any in the line of hard-line zealots would have gutted social programs and further impoverished America’s aging and poor. Compassionate conservatism is yet another lie.

It’s the difference, you see, between people who advocate personal autonomy, which stands for freedom and thought enterprise. This stands in direct contrast to political anarchy, in which people advocate for a candidate who wants to blow up his enemies or have them shot in order to win.

We can either connect the dots in what this man says, and stand for autonomy as a nation, or we can degrade into anarchy. Because that’s what Donald Trump represents.