The irony of lung cancer and Rush Limbaugh

I’ve been a Rush Limbaugh “listener” for several decades now. I’ve heard him proclaim that there’s no such thing as hunger in America. I also heard him purposely conflate the term “personal autonomy” with “personal anarchy” while discussing how Dr. Jack Kervorkian described people making choices related to end-of-life decisions.

Today’s story in the Chicago Tribune quotes Limbaugh saying that he’s engaging a much more personal relationship with God now that he’s diagnosed with advanced-stage lung cancer. I recently had a friend and former coach die of that disease. He was a lifetime smoker and it finally caught up with him.

On that subject Limbaugh once prevaricated that we should all be thanking smokers for their contribution to the world. As recorded in a direct transcript from his live radio show, he conducted this conversation with a caller about the subject of smoking.

ThankYouSmokingOLF

CALLER: Earlier you were saying about smoking, that people ought to be thankful that there are smokers, because the money gotten from smoking helps to fund all these child programs and everything? But that’s like saying I’m glad that there’s bumper accidents because then auto mechanics would still have jobs and it improves the economy. Or knives. It’s a good thing that people cut themselves because that’s good for the bandage industry. That’s just my opinion.

RUSH: Well, now, wait. Hold it, hold it just a second. I’m sure the hospital industry would agree with you that they support knives, there wouldn’t be scalpels without knives.

CALLER: No. They’re not doing it on purpose, now. Wait a minute. People in hospitals that are —

RUSH: Hey, you need bandages.

CALLER: You’re doing that to cure somebody. They’re not doing that to hurt anybody.

The Caller hit a sore point with Limbaugh in that last statement. Rush has always claimed he’s trying to help America with his cut-and-dried brand of ideological advocacy. He once raved out loud that it was tough luck if some people couldn’t see well at night when vehicles equipped with high-intensity headlights blinded them. In other words, it’s never been caring about others than Limbaugh has advocated. He has been the King of Selfish Motivations for many decades, and now it’s come back to haunt him. Immediately after the initial exchange with his concerned caller, Limbaugh conducted a harsh yet brief tirade in defense of smokers.

RUSH: Well, smokers aren’t killing anybody.

CALLER: Except themselves.

RUSH: Yeah, but how long does it take?

That question is about to be answered for Limbaugh. It may indeed take a while for him to die, or it may snatch him overnight. He’s never appeared to be the picture of health, given his heavy lean toward obesity and an addiction to pain pills that turned him into a criminal of sorts to get his fix.

But he’s never been much for serious contrition about a single thing in his life. He instead claims to not suffer fools gladly, and that includes denying any form of science that contradicts his closely held beliefs in his own brand of “personal autonomy.”

The day that Rush stood on his soapbox bragging about the benefits of smoking, the Caller went on to bring up another topic

CALLER: — secondhand smoke.

RUSH: No. You can’t. That is a myth. That has been disproven at the World Health Organization and the report was suppressed. There is no fatality whatsoever. There’s no even major sickness component associated with secondhand smoke. It may irritate you, and you may not like it, but it will not make you sick, and it will not kill you.

CALLER: Okay.

RUSH: Firsthand smoke takes 50 years to kill people, if it does. Not everybody that smokes gets cancer. Now, it’s true that everybody who smokes dies, but so does everyone who eats carrots.

Right there we have the horrific template for dismissing serious issues using simplistic examples. The same held true when Senator Jim Inhofe held aloft a snowball as evidence that climate change is a hoax.

Limbaugh is a fool about the subject of smoking, and many others. The real costs of smoking are documented in a Reuters story published in December, 2014:

APP-080819-Climate-Change-GLobal-Warming-HOAX

“Hoax” is a favorite word of ideological propagandists.

(Reuters) – Of every $10 spent on healthcare in the U.S., almost 90 cents is due to smoking, a new analysis says.

Using recent health and medical spending surveys, researchers calculated that 8.7 percent of all healthcare spending, or $170 billion a year, is for illness caused by tobacco smoke, and public programs like Medicare and Medicaid paid for most of these costs.

“Fifty years after the first Surgeon General’s report, tobacco use remains the nation’s leading preventable cause of death and disease, despite declines in adult cigarette smoking prevalence,” said Xin Xu from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who led the study.”

The examples we could list here of subjects in which Limbaugh purposely obscured the real costs of willful disregard for personal and public health are legendary and  manifold. Here’s what the stubbornly ignorant Limbaugh said on his radio show about the subject of climate change:

RUSH: By the way, have you seen the latest lame attempt on this? You know what now, folks? Food crops are getting much harder to grow. Oh, yes! Climate change. Climate change has affected the pH of the soil. Climate change is causing soil to become more arid. Climate change is making it really, really, really tough on farmers to grow more food. We are on the verge of predictable starvation! They know no limits.

The dirty little secret about climate change, whether it’s man-made or not, is when it does happen, there’s gonna be a whole lot of the world that’s gonna be capable of growing food that now can’t, if they’re right. There’s no argument from here that the climate is not changing. Only a fool would say that is because the climate is constantly changing. We go ice age, we go dark age, we go sun age, we go oppressively hot; nobody can survive this. Earth has been around a long time.”

Gaslighting America

This is Rush Limbaugh seeking to dismiss human influence on climate change. In other words, it is a direct attempt to avoid personal responsibility for a problem that people can fix if they put their mind to it. But Rush Limbaugh and his listeners don’t like to admit the need to change, and that’s deplorable. They don’t like to confront challenges ranging from racist outlooks to religious fears of science. They prefer instead to ignore the fact there is a problem while claiming that smoking or toxic greenhouse gasses provide a benefit to the world. That’s called gaslighting. It’s an attempt to abuse truth in favor of selfish, controlling behavior. And it’s rampant in America right now. Rush Limbaugh is a big reason for these attitudes.

Fixing problems 

IMG_3787Now the whole world is having trouble breathing, and the cancer that is causing it is human activity. We are responsible for the fix we’re in.

And like Limbaugh, some turn quickly to God looking for a fix and a cure. Some even deign to claim that the destruction of the earth is itself God’s Will, and that we are only helping to bring that about.

That’s a killer philosophy, a pathology of the spirit aptly expressed by the likes of Donald Trump in his cloying attempts to recruit evangelicals to his side in a relentless pursuit of power. Trump preaches the depressingly nihilistic religion of the selfish, ignorant and fearful who love to claim absolute authority even as their worldview proves to be a cancer on everything it touches. It is willful naivete disguised as wisdom.

Proponents of willful naivete place their hopes in the near-term glory of a healthy economy, yet economic markets shudder at the merest hint of the newest flu virus whether it emerges from a snake, a monkey, a pig or a bird.

They claim Christian virtues by insisting that the nation can never come to true harm under the providence of God. Yet scripture documents the many ways people ignored the prophets in favor of selfish desires and aims. Nature and God combined to crush those cultures and empires for their hubris. A selective reading of scripture can produce whatever justification one desires, and the Christian religion has done that for nearly two millennia, killing Jews for the literal death of Jesus, a battle cry adopted by Adolf Hitler who justified the Holocaust by saying, and we paraphrase, “We are only doing what the Christian religion has been doing for 1500 years.”

Prejudice as principle

That brand of prejudicial hubris is precisely what Rush Limbaugh has preached and propagandized in America for three decades. His targeting of “liberals” has turned the ire of authoritarian believers into a murderous cabal craving absolute control over the American populace. His strain of political cancer now attacks the core of constitutional law in a Senate that refuses to hold a corrupt President accountable because it is too inconvenient to treat that cancer with the chemotherapy of impeachment. “It would be too rough on the country,” some Senators insist. This is what happens when prejudice is substituted for principle.

The realities of cancer

I’ve had friends die of cancer. I’ve had a wife die of cancer after eight years of survivorship. My mother died of cancer, but she passed much more quickly. In her case it was a mercy. In my wife’s case it was a journey. So I know what it means to confront cancer and to trust in God and friends to help deal with its concussive effects, whatever they may be.

I don’t wish those difficulties on anyone. But one cannot help recognize the irony of the unique brand of cancer now scourging Rush Limbaugh’s body. He’s already experiencing shortness of breath. Perhaps the doctors can save his life. Yet one wonders whether anyone is capable of saving his clearly vindictive soul. That is the challenge Rush Limbaugh truly needs to face, because he’s spent thirty years wishing evil upon those he abhors and hates. So we’ll see. Sometimes cancer changes people. And wouldn’t that be a remarkable outcome for one of the most cancerous personalities in American history?

 

 

 

Waterboarding Trump might get the truth out of him

 Trump told an audience in Iowa that McCain wasn’t “a war hero because he was captured” and that he preferred “people that weren’t captured”.

–The Guardian, Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Guardian article from which the quote above was taken went on to observe, “The late Senator John McCain spent more than five years in captivity in Vietnam after his plane was shot down in 1967. He refused an offer of early release. Trump received draft deferments during Vietnam for bone spurs.”

Trump once stated that he was “not a fan” of Senator McCain, especially after McCain rose from his sickbed to vote against a pet piece of legislation that Trump dearly wanted to pass.

Mccain.png

It doesn’t take much effort to see the difference between the two men. McCain was a man of staunch principles and a life to prove it. Trump sees things in terms of good or bad only as it relates to what he wants in life. And on that front, Trump chose not to serve in the military on grounds that he was “not a fan” of the Vietnam War. 

Stark contrasts

If Trump wasn’t a fan of either the military or the war, imagine how much he would have liked being submerged in rat-infested waters, kept in a cage with little food, starved and beaten, or outright tortured as prisoners of war endured in many wars. We think also of Louis Zamperini, the Olympic runner who became a POW in Japan and suffered mightily under the persecutorial eye of Mutsuhiro “the Bird” Watanabe, who targeted the American soldier for his status as an officer and reputation as a famous Olympian. Yet Zamperini persevered, and his life was chronicled in a movie titled Unbroken. 

By contrast, Trump hired a ghostwriter to pen a laudatory book about his life called The Art of the Deal, The author stated that the book should be reclassified as fiction, a chronicle of fabrications design to paint Trump as a business mogul when instead he’s a fraud. And as for Trump’s personal fortitude, he apparently considers it a form of torture to walk from his golf cart onto the green to make a putt.  So he drives on the greens instead. He has bluntly stated that exercise shortens life. His own staff testifies that he seems to consider exercise itself a form of torture, and avoids it.

A self-made man

Trump shares classified

If a man is so selfish and apparently weak of body and spirit that he views his life as if it were a battery running out of charge, imagine how that man would crumble if he were forced to stand long hours in the heat or cold, work manual labor until his hands bled and his feet rotted or was forced to endure mental and psychological pressure for years? That man would crack and tell everything he knew if it meant less suffering for himself.  That is the nature of Donald Trump, a traitor that cannot keep even classified information secret in his role as President of the United States.

Trump is now Commander-in-Chief of America’s military. But one wonders how he’d act if he were called upon to protect his fellow prisoners from punishment or torture. Would he do as John McCain did, and take that suffering upon himself rather than give up secrets or allow others to suffer in his stead?  We already know that Trump has betrayed our military allies and even left our military partners on the battlefield to die. All because he only cares about himself.

A life of betrayal

The Atlantic documented the many ways Trump has chosen to betray even those close to him. “Betrayal is a leitmotif for this president’s entire life. Think of how he cheated on his wives. Think of the infant child of a nephew who had crucial medical benefits withdrawn by Trump because of Trump’s retaliation against his nephew over an inheritance dispute. Think of those who enrolled at Trump University and were defrauded. Think about the contractors whom Trump has stiffed. Think of Jeff Sessions, the first prominent Republican to endorse Trump, whom Trump viciously turned against because Sessions had properly recused himself from overseeing the investigation into whether Russia had intervened in the 2016 election. Think about those who served in Trump’s administration—Rex Tillerson, John Bolton, Don McGahn, Reince Priebus, Gary Cohn, James Mattis, and many more—who were unceremoniously dumped and, in some cases, mocked on their way out the door.”

And let us not forget Michael Cohen, much less Stormy Daniels? Trump betrayed them too.

Abuse of power and authority

But Trump’s penchant for selfish intrigue and political betrayal caught up with him in the form of impeachment for withholding military aid for reasons of personal political benefit, an abuse of power, and obstruction of justice in conducting a coverup. Trump has called all investigations into his behavior a “witch hunt,” which is his way of claiming that he is being subjected to a form of torture.

So a disturbing pattern is evident in the way Donald Trump conducts himself. He maligns those that have a genuine set of principles and ridicules or betrays those whose experiences have proven them capable of standing by those principles. Meanwhile, Trump fawningly begs and borrows the mantle of religious authority offered by evangelicals even though his life has been a steady diet of the Seven Deadly Sins from lust to covetousness and greed.

Waterboarding Trump

It would be massively interesting if the Republican Party and the Senate were to abide by its professed belief that torture is permissible when the truth needs to be known. Trump himself has stated that waterboarding is “not tough enough” to drag the truth out of some people. Well, now that Trump has threatened to commit war crimes against Iran if he does not get his way in the region, perhaps the Senate might choose to waterboard Trump to get the truth about his bribery and extortion attempts in Ukraine. If he’s so determined to behave like the dictator of a rogue nation, it would be wise to pre-emptively test the man’s character since he doesn’t think torture is all that bad. A nice session of waterboarding under the watchful eye of Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would do the trick. He can even let Franklin Graham use holy water if Trump prefers. Surely a man of God such as Trump wouldn’t mind a baptism of that sort?

Or would he?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mixing God, religion and business

How biblical literalism affects politics, culture and the environmentMy 2007 book The Genesis Fix examined how religion affects politics, culture and the environment. This excerpt describes how some people like to fuse the three into one.

“Part of the reason doctrinal politics, economic aggression, and triumphal religious language make such a potent combination is that all three appeal to a sense of personal pride. Some people refuse to distinguish between the three. For a potent illustration of faith at play in the real world of business, we quote the May 5, 2001 obituary of one Carl Bagge, a successful businessman, former leader of the National Mining Association and former National Coal Chief. Mr. Bagge’s obituary outlined the passionate manner with which he did business as a strong proponent on behalf of the coal industry and coal-burning electrical plants. Mr. Bagge called clean-air groups “environmental elitists,” declaring evidence that acid rain came from the pollution generated by coal plants “inconclusive.” He also apparently saw his work on behalf of the coal industry as a religious mission. In reference to his occupation, he was quoted as saying; “We’re doing the Lord’s work here, people. Anybody who doesn’t believe that may as well leave, go and work for the other side.” When Mr. Bagge became president of the National Coal Association, he changed the group’s number to 202-GOD-COAL to reaffirm for its members that was the only force that could keep them from their aims. The number is still in use. 

Mr. Bagge exemplifies the manner in which some people freely mix religion and corporate aims. People who have pride in their religion and their work often find it hard to keep the two separate.  The only problem with a close relationship between faith and business is that close an association has been known to corrupt both.”

 

 

 

The truth about Christianity and gun laws

FlagWaiver

One of the most vexing aspects of America’s gun laws is the apparent belief by many Christians that guns are compatible with their religion. That’s an interesting contention because guns were originally invented for one purpose: that is killing. Yet one of the most famous of the 10 Commandments is “Thou shalt not kill.” 

Jesus was keen on the idea that our thoughts and even casual intentions can lead to evil actions. In Matthew 5: 27-29 Jesus addresses these issues:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”

So Christians face a real dilemma when it comes to owning or carrying a gun. Even the “self-defense” argument often made on behalf of gun ownership denies the principle of placing one’s trust in God for protection. Either you trust God to protect you, or you don’t. God only knows your true heart. 

Who lays claim to the flag in America?

Given the difficulty of parsing out the religious conundrums wrought by owning guns, a great many Americans take refuge behind laws supporting gun ownership. The claim to be a “law-abiding gun owner” appears rock solid when defending the right to own and bear arms. Yet even laws are no guarantee of a reasonable conscience.

The example of Jesus

We should recall that when Jesus embarked on his ministry by preaching in the country on the heels of John the Baptist, a real revolutionary by nature, the goal was to bring the grace of God to all. Yet Jesus and his disciples soon made a practice of breaking the laws set out by religious authorities bent on imposing tradition on the populace. Jesus spoke out against this brand of authority and the hypocrisy it inevitably produced. He even called the lawmakers defending their tradition a “brood of vipers” for their habit of lashing out at anyone who opposed their version of authority.

Jesus challenged even the nature of the laws laid out by religious authority. When a band of accusers threatened to stone a woman to death in the streets for the crime of adultery, Jesus turned to them and said, “Let he that is without sin cast the first stone.”

Questions of judgment

That was an indictment of those issuing personal judgment of others. But it also resonated all the way up the legalistic food chain to the religious authorities who implemented those laws in the first place. Jesus was challenging a system that had been corrupted by selfish aims and misguidedly self-righteous intentions. It was the literal and legalistic interpretation of scripture that had led to traditions concerned more with obeying the laws of religion than keeping with the true heart of God. Jesus considered this an abomination, especially as it led to the commodification of the temple itself, which had become a hall of commerce, not a house of prayer.

So Jesus fought the religious authorities and turned over the tables of commerce at the temple. Yet we all know how the story turned out. Rather than consider what Jesus had to say about the corrupt nature of tradition, the religious authorities reacted with anger toward him for questioning their practices. Ultimately they conspired to have him killed  and even got someone else to do the dirty work of crucifixion. Thus they protected their reputation as the “good guys” who were defending the wholesome halls and hallmarks of tradition.

Christianity today

This is much the same position in which legalistic Christians find themselves today. They have sided with the gun lobby and conservative politicians who calculatedly ignore the first part of the Second Amendment, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the protection of a free state…”  while emphasizing the more selfish part of the law in the “right to bear arms.”

This is better known as “cherry-picking,” the practice of taking the parts of scripture or the Constitution that support your personal aims while discarding or ignoring those that do not apply or actually contradict your selfish aims. This is the grand habit of legalistic Christians who conveniently ignore anachronistic laws in the Bible even while claiming its inerrancy and infallibility. This is the principle lie of Christian apologetics in this day and age. It also happens to be the principle lie of constitutional originalists as well. Thus it is no coincidence that we often find political and religious conservatives in allegiance to their parallel beliefs even to the point of claiming these worldviews trump all other forms of truth.

The gun lobby

FIREARM

The gun lobby in America certainly welcomes Christian support of its commercial and political aims. So does the NRA, which frequently presents itself as the chief authority on gun laws and rights in America.

But that leaves the rest of us to wonder about people who deny the truth of both their religion and the United States Constitution that clearly states guns must be well-regulated as part of a well-regulated militia.

The purposeful denial of this patently important introduction is executed in order to make the selfish claim that gun rights are by nature sacrosanct to American tradition and protect the very freedoms upon which America depends as a republic.

Yet how do we tell that to thousands of people that are mowed down by guns every year? Many of the guns used to conduct shootings are designed not just for killing, but for mass killing, sometimes taking multiple lives within 30 seconds of opening fire. And how do we tell that to the families to whom “thoughts and prayers” are so frequently directed…yet never really console them because their loved ones are the bloodied and dead victims of an extremely selfish interpretation of the Second Amendment that allows such events to happen.

Christians of conscience who actually know and understand the history of their religion should know better. But as we learned from the religious authorities who conspired against Jesus because he broke their laws and resisted their traditions, those in charge may claim to be on the right side of the law, but they are also frequently on the wrong side of history, and of God.

 

Finding our way back to truth in a religiously blinded America

 

Bald Eagle 3rd year

Recently I engaged in a pair of online discussions that illuminated the differences in how people respond to information that contradicts their beliefs.

The first was an exchange on a Facebook group called Suburban Wildlife. A wide variety of users, both expert and novice, shares images of wildlife with an online community hosted by the Daily Herald media company. I post several images a week and noticed that a user named Dennis Houghton had found and photographed an eagle. His initial ID of the bird was Golden Eagle, but I noticed that the bird was actually a second or third-year bald eagle. They can be difficult to identify during stages of transition from juvenile to adult. There aren’t always clear passages between plumage phase. The giveaway in this case was the clearly emerging pattern of white feathers covering the head.

Christopher Cudworth Actually I think that is a third to fourth-year bald eagle

Dennis Houghton Christopher, I’m no expert by any means, but the beak and tail looks like a Golden Eagle to me. BTW 4th grade was my senior year. ✌️ (he posted a link to golden eagle images here)

Christopher Cudworth I’m not a contentious birder…so please note that I could be wrong. It just has the structure and look of a Bald Eagle versus a Golden. The Sibley’s Guide shows some rather structures “years” but not all moults are complete or clean. Just trying to be helpful here. (I posted screen caps of young bald eagles)

Christopher Cudworth The emerging white on the head of the bird you’ve shown is unique to Bald Eagles.

Dennis Houghton I appreciate your knowledge and love learning more about nature. Mother nature likes messing with me sometimes. Thank you Christopher.

Christopher Cudworth Dennis Houghton These are wonderful photographs and honestly I’ve been birding forty years and learn something every day by watching them in each new circumstance. I’m not a great photographer but it’s fascinating when you see new things about birds by doing this.

Golden Eagle.pngThat was all civil and instructional. I’ve been birding for forty years and have seen both bald and golden eagles in the wild. Bald eagles have become common in our area, and there are young birds up everywhere. Golden eagles are far more rare in our region. Not impossible to find, especially in fall migration.

But we solved that issue fairly easily. I’ve since complimented Dennis on a number of other images he’s posted, all properly identified.

A day after that exchange, a person I did not know made a Friend request on Facebook. We shared 28 Friends, many whom I knew quite well, so I accepted her request. Then I went to her page. The first four images were Pro-Trump pictures with MAGA hats prominently featured. There were also hints of religious triumphalism lurking in the wings.

That told me there might be trouble ahead from this “Friend.” On several occasions, I’ve had people that I either know through associates or other groups that Friend me and then start posting typically ignorant Pro-Trump memes to my wall. It started before the 2016 election with a psychologist associate from a local business networking group who went on the attack through my Facebook Wall and even took it offline to Messenger as a means to spit insults and taunts at me along with the inevitable Go Trump! jargon.

Trump and G

Opening questions

So rather than let the process start all over again, I posted an inquiry why this particular Trump fan wanted to be friends with me. An hour later, one of her friends or followers posted something on the order of, “This is so sad, why can’t we all be friends and just get along.”

Rather than engage in that type of discussion in full view of the world, I chose to respond personally to the person in question.

“In response to your comment on Allison’s page. I have been verbally accosted on repeated occasions by Trump followers. Some have chased me onto Messenger and harassed at length. Others post salacious and false memes on my Wall, then criticize and attack me for questioning their decision. And you ask…”Why can’t we all just get along?” That’s why I questioned her choice to Friend me. I’ll not abide the consistent hypocrisy and angry taunts any longer. If you want to have a real conversation about this to understand the full context, I’ll be glad to provide it. But I’ve written on religion and politics for more than 40 years, and know the measure of moral equivalency. I do not buy straw man arguments that “one side’s as bad as the other” when the direct evidence I’ve encountered proves otherwise.

Opening round

Yes, that was rather assertive toward the end. I’ll admit that. But I’ve also learned that if you don’t state your case clearly, the folks who follow Trump view it as an opportunity to exploit apparent weakness and take that as an opportunity to preach the brand. And sure enough…this is what she wrote back…

“It just makes me sad when I hear people say we can’t be friends because of xxx beliefs and stuff. But I also understand and have suffered my self as you have, only from the other side as I am a Trump supporter. I was not trying to say anything bad about you personally, it’s just how social media is. The way people attack each other, as a Christian woman, just breaks my heart. I have been chewed up and spit out enough times that I usually don’t even comment. And is also the reason I don’t post anything political on my personal page. Anyway, I apologize if I offended, it was not my intent. I hope you have a very blessed day.”

That was nice enough, I’ll agree. But I’m also concerned about the hypocrisy exhibited by those who claim to be Christian and yet ardently support Trump when there is no apparent signs that Donald Trump is Christian in any form of belief, action or character. So I wrote back:

Trump-golf-seated

“I simply don’t know how any serious Christian can support the profane and corrupt man now in office. You may have your reasons, but I have yet to hear one person legitimately provide a single reason why Jesus Christ would abide a man who worships wealth, lusts after women including his own daughter, verbally abuses women and men and the disabled alike and lies so often he cannot even recall his previous lies. To dismiss all that is raw hypocrisy and that is why, as a lifelong Christian committed to social justice, I find friending a supposed Trump supporter to be a compromise in honesty and integrity. If that offends you then you should really search your own heart.”

She was miffed of course.

“My heart is just fine thank you. Its comments like that that are offensive. I did not bash you for your beliefs, and I don’t appreciate you bashing me. This is exactly why I do not discuss politics via social media. Have a blessed life. Good bye.”

First off, I clearly stated that she must have her own reasons for supporting Trump. I also spoke objectively. She plainly refused to make any attempt at answering any of the questions raised in the statements made about what constitutes serious Christian faith.

And by ‘serious,’ I meant honest. Which is what really set her off. She says her “heart” is just fine, and I granted her that in saying “You must have your reasons…”

flag-waiver

Instead, she chose to play the role of the persecuted while blaming me for “bashing her beliefs.” She was clearly making the argument that Trump deserves the support of so many religious people. So I elected (pun intended) to call her bluff.

“So-called Christians supporting Trump all behave this way. No accountability or will to account for the hypocrisy…and then you cry persecution. It’s a tragedy of faith not to call yourself to account in Jesus’ name. Don’t you know he fought the Trumps of his day in Herod and the religious authorities who ran the temple like a business? Read the Bible for God’s sake. And repent as John the Baptist told us to. And stop with the “Woe is my poor Christian heart” thing… and tell your friends lending their support to that godless madman to stop. God speaks to you through people like me who care enough to engage in the truth of repentance.

I feel so bad for you going around bashing good Christian people because they don’t agree with YOU. See you are exactly the kind of person I was talking about. You don’t know me, you know nothing about me except that I was trying to respond respectfully, unlike you. Yes, you good Christian man you. Judging me without even knowing me. I think you need to get on your knees and ask God to forgive you for your judgment and condemnation of people. You are not my God, and I do not answer to you. And the fact that you dare to question my love for God because I refuse to bend to your will, please. Take your blinders off hun, you are a hypocritic (sic) And I will pray for you.

Oh and BTW, I will continue to Thank God every day that Hillary Clinton is NOT our president!! Go Trump!! MAGA 2020!!!

So the argument from this Trump supporter seems to be that no one is allowed to question the beliefs of those who choose to abide in a known adulterer, a proven liar, a repeated committer of financial fraud and a sexual abuser––because they only answer to God.

Or is it instead Trump to whom they ultimately answer? That certainly seems to be her closing argument. Go Trump!! MAGA 2020!!!

In the end this Christian evangelical fealty to Trump does not seem to be about the tenets of real faith at all. Instead, it’s about siding with the powerful and lending the credence of religious authority as an unbending juggernaut to a political cause. That pattern of trading on the authority of God to gain status and power directly aligns with the zealous hypocrites whom Jesus challenged for turning the temple into a place of commerce and the Jewish faith into a legalistic, heartless religion.

Obvious parallels

The parallels with today’s legalistic and politically-motivated Christians are so obvious. Yet the folks whose religion openly persecutes those it judges to be sinners loves to pre-emptively claim persecution for themselves. That is clearly what’s wrong with America.

Do I feel badly for disrupting that woman’s day by challenging her to a discussion about religious honesty? Part of me does feel guilty for that. Yet the call to social justice in the name of Jesus Christ truly does demand that we step outside our comfort zones and be willing to challenge the corruption of religion for political and economic purposes. We see the same pattern of using God’s authority to justify war. At what point do we actually stand up and say “Stop! Enough! This is not God’s way.”

I say it starts with every opportunity we can find. It’s not judging others to challenge them to justify their beliefs when they clearly stand in league with corruption. It is caring enough to be Christian in the most difficult sense. That is following the true example of Jesus as he confronted the false religious authorities of His day.

And when it comes to people weaseling out of defending their beliefs by claiming the need to do so is a form of “persecution,” I call bullshit.

Comparison

The two exchanges shared in this post were interesting because the photographer and birder “friend” on Facebook welcomed the opportunity to gain perspective and insight that resulted in truth.

Oliver-North

It is always the job of Christians to fight the untruths created by the combination of religion and politics for four decades now. There are always people who will lie and claim God is on their side without batting an eye. I say we should resist them. 

Meanwhile, the other “friend” took immediate offense and condescendingly lamented why I should be concerned why a Trump supporter wanted to be friends with me in the first place.

That’s actually an incredibly naive and arrogant question to ask, for it  literally assumes that no harm has been done or is being done to our country by those who support Trump under a Christian banner. The man in question exhibits passionately aggressive instincts and attacks everyone he can find with insults and vengeance. That is not the true definition of a “friend,” much less a Christian.

So many Christians seem confused and unable to discern where the truth really lies:

“For there will be a period of time when they will not put up with the wholesome teaching, but according to their own desires, they will surround themselves with teachers to have their ears tickled. They will turn away from listening to the truth and give attention to false stories.” 2 Timothy 4:3

Compare the trust people seem to place in Trump with the traditional claim that  “we have a friend in Jesus.” There is no just parallel. The two beliefs are so contradictory they deserve to be challenged whenever and wherever you find them. That’s the least that any Christian should do.

It’s going to be a tough road finding our way back to truth. Clearly, some people still embrace an opportunity to learn our change while others use any excuse they can to run and hide from truth even when it smacks them in the face.

 

 

 

It’s the horrified versus the whoreified in America

Kav.jpegMuch of America has been rightly horrified on hearing tales of how Supreme Court Justice nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh likely conducted himself in the presence of women during his high school and college years. If testimony by Christine Blasey Ford holds true, and there is no real reason to doubt her, Kavanaugh once tried to rape her in the presence of a friend. Both of them were laughing at the time.

Being horrified at hearing tales of rape is a normal response among people with a conscience. But conscience is always a work in progress. It does not reside within human character as a fixed and permanent attribute. People have been known to trade their conscience for any number of reasons. Some do it for money. Others do it for power. Even more do it for reasons of politics, better known as the populists’ fear of losing.

It now appears, as illustrated by seemingly mindless support for Brett Kavanaugh in the face of damning testimony, that many people of supposed principle and conscience have given up on the concept entirely. In a Chicago Tribune article titled “Some women feel for the accuser, but judge the judicial pick favorably,” the subtitle reads, “Empathy expressed for Ford, but they say timing sinister.”

The article relates, “To Hannah King, a college senior from Bristol, Tennessee, Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations of a drunken attack by Kavanaugh at a 1982 party, when both were in high school were jarring and scary. But while King expressed empathy for Ford, she also said she his concerned about the timing of Ford’s allegations, which surfaced publicly only after Kavanaugh––already a federal judge––was nominated to the Supreme Court.”

“A lot of times,”” King was quoted in the article, “you cope by suppressing and forgetting. But someone’s promotion isn’t something that should prompt someone to come forward.”

christine-blasey-ford-is-sworn-in-before-testifying-the-news-photo-1041671136-1538060790.jpgOh really? The past behavior and character of a judge nominated to the highest court in the land should not be subject to a higher level of scrutiny?

Well, how is it not important that a man who allegedly attempted to rape a woman might be conferred with the responsibility of objectively assessing the rights of millions of women in America?

We live in a republic, or so it would seem. But Republicans seem to have taken the view that the goal is to achieve an empire, with the GOP as rulers for life. How has that worked out in history? And why do Republicans think that a one-party rule is the ultimate purveyor of justice?

Sometimes we must turn to art to reveal the folly of the realities we confront.

Maximus versus Commodus

commodus01.jpg

In the movie Gladiator starring Russell Crowe as a former Roman general (Maximus) forced into service as gladiator and Joaquin Phoenix as the corrupt Roman emperor (Commodus) the two finally confront each other in the center of the colosseum arena. And the emperor, seeking a fight on the spot in which the odds were entirely in his favor with Roman guards standing watch over the confrontation, goads Crowe with words designed to intimidate and build hate:

Commodus: What am I going to do with you? You simply won’t… die. Are we so different, you and I? You take life when you have to… as I do.

Maximus: I have only one more life to take. Then it is done.

Commodus: Then take it now.

[Maximus pauses, then turns around and walks away]

Commodus: They tell me your son…

[Maximus stops]

Commodus: …squealed like a girl when they nailed him to the cross. And your wife… moaned like a whore when they ravaged her again and again… and again.

Maximus: The time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end.

[Bows head]

Maximus: Highness.

This exchange perfectly captures the scenario in which America finds itself. For in President Donald Trump we find ourselves under the power of an obviously (even professedly) corrupt man with the power of an empire at his disposal. In all respects and exchanges he seeks to goad and intimidate even the honorable among us.

Now we find out that one of his potential prize charges, the supposedly honorable Judge Brett Kavanaugh, is likely an attempted rapist whose attendance at parties where gang rapes took place is also well-documented. Similar accusations and admitted allegations of infidelity have been leveled at Trump. So it fits that his Supreme Court nominee, whose character Trump has loudly defended, should share a similarly dark history.

The Rape of America

The Republican-led Congress is the pimp above all this whorish activity. The fact that all of them, to a man, took a seat behind a woman assigned to question Ford about her allegations is a sure illustration of their pimping style. All that was missing were the big fur coats and dark shades. But aging white men can’t pull off the look of true street pimps, so they huddled like cuckolded spouses until they trot out their judicial gigolo Kavanaugh and aim softball questions his way.

We’re witnessing the Rape of American virtues in real time. And still there are women who seek to abet the crime of conscience in installing a Supreme Court judge with a well-demonstrated propensity for anger that could easily spill into sexual aggression.

The sick part is that Kavanaugh views himself as the noble Maximus character in the version of the Gladiator movie now playing out in America. In truth he is far more like the Commodus character, a cynically-driven man who publicly claims character assassination because he’s being questioned about his own privileged past. Kavanaugh is Commodus in a suit and tie.

Emperors and whores

melania-trump-donald-trump-020380f2-6db7-4202-b16c-b737c623c9e2Apparently this brand of aggressive dominance is an admired personality trait in some Republican circles. “I am digging my heels in, and I’m hoping that a lot of conservatives are determined to vote Republican,” said Sarah Round, age 69, whose defense of Kavanaugh was quoted in the Chicago Tribune article. Her dismissivetake on Kavanaugh’s accuser sounds more like the whisperings of a loyal courtier than a member of the sisterhood of women. “Possibly something happened to her,” Round said of Blasey Ford. “But I think she embellished what happened, or she would have gone to some authority or said something about it years ago.”

This statement denies the well-documented pattern among millions of women who fear reporting sexual crimes because of the shame and danger is produces in their lives. Thus the statement constitutes the shallow response of a person that has not done any research into the impact of alleged or actual rape. And to Round’s supposed point, in 2012 Blasey Ford did indeed report the trauma she felt to a professional, confiding to a therapist about the ongoing trauma of the incident in her life. Her concerns were not politically motivated.

But this doesn’t appear to matter to people determined to “dig in their heels” and vote Republican no matter what incorrigible conduct that party engages in. The GOP has only grudgingly agreed to pursue the truth on Judge Kavanaugh. It may still be trying to confine the activities of the FBI in pursuing that truth. They have behaved in this political battle like whores jealous over serving the needs of a well-connected john.

Whoring out

When people give up their conscience it also knowing as “whoring out,” better defined as: To prostitutetake advantage ofexploitshow off; to hire out or provide to others like a whore; to pimp, swap one’s sex partner.”

Of course Republicans are calling the Democrats all kinds of names for holding up the Kavanaugh nomination. They blame a Democratic Senator for not introducing the information about Kavanaugh’s past sooner. But that would not have changed any of the facts in the case. The only time pressure is that perceived by a Republican Party that fears it will lose its majority come November. The reason for that fear? The GOP has also whored itself out to Donald Trump, the King Pimp of them all.

Thus it appears the Kavanaugh case has illustrated the sharp divide between those willing to sell their soul to protect this Supreme Court nominee and those who want to know the whole truth about the potential horrors he might have imposed on women over the years. This is a case of the whoreified against the horrified. And now it’s up to the FBI to determine if the opinions of those whoring themselves out for Kavanaugh are indeed “on the money.”

In the case of Brett Kavanaugh versus the Women of America, my money’s on the horrified over the whoreified.

We did not do this to you, Republicans, you did this to yourself

newt gingrichA few years back when my daughter was a teenager, she had a problem with a contact lens that had scratched her eye. It was tremendously painful, and it happened late at night, so I took her to the emergency room at our local hospital.

We sat in a curtained room waiting to be seen. The wait took quite a while. As it happened, there was an intoxicated man in the next stall over. He was strapped to a table with an armed police guard standing watch over him.

The drunk guy was yelling, “I want my booze!” over and over again. Occasionally he’d lace that sentence with an expletive or two for special emphasis.

An hour passed as we waited and finally the drunk guy started to settle down. We could see him through a crack between the curtains as he leaned his head back and turned his attention to the policeman guarding him. “Why did you do this to me?” he complained.

The officer stood there calmly and replied: “I did not do this to you, sir. You did this to yourself.”

I think about that incident as the testimony is about to unfold today in the case of Brett Kavanaugh, the Republican nominee for a lifetime position as a Supreme Court Justice. As news has emerged of testimony by multiple women accusing Kavanaugh of a range of sexually violent behavior, the potential justice has categorically denied it all. Not just some of it. All of it.

Ryan smilingPerhaps we’ll see a dramatic turn of events and Kavanaugh’s name will indeed be cleared. An entire lineup of archly conservative Republicans ranging from Newt Gingrich to the peripatetic Senator Lindsay Graham has classified the progression of accusations as a “character assassination.”

But that’s a political claim. The Republican-led Judiciary Committee refuses to allow an FBI investigation. So they don’t really want to know the truth. They want to blame the Democrats for allowing any real sort of truth to come out, preferring instead the version of “truth” they want to use in order to shove Kavanaugh through this process before the GOP loses control of the government in the November elections.

Drunk with power

To gain some perspective on the true context of the situation, we need to consider that the entire Republican Party has been on a power binge since the Donald Trump Train rolled over the nation. Drunk with permission to do what they want, wild with authority granted by control of both the House and the Senate. And the Supreme Court. That’s the branch of government they so desperately desire to lock up for decades.

But first, Republicans have engaged in a power-drunk bender of passing tax cuts for the wealthy even as their pet President imposes tariffs on our trade allies. Why, Trump is even handing out $50B to support farmers after gutting prices on soy beans and corn through ill-conceived penalties on China. The nation will have a hangover from Republican grain alcohol for years. All while gutting those pesky environmental laws in a fit of pique over being questioned all these years about why their industrialist allies pollute and waste our national resources with aplomb.

But like so many things in life, especially excessive habits, a price must sooner or later be paid.

Owning up

Now one of their chosen has been strapped to the gurney of accountability and Republicans don’t like it one bit. Kavanaugh is accused of violent sexual behavior in his youth, but he is denying everything and anything that ever happened. In so doing, he has become the poster child for every hypocritical Republican claiming to be a paragon of family values while dire secrets hidden in the past come pouring out of the closet. There’s a pattern here.

ct-dennis-hastert-lawsuit-met-20170222Because we’ve already witnessed the downfall of Good Ole Boy Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the House, whose career went South when legitimate allegations of child sexual abuse were corroborated. Many of those abuses happened long ago and were buried under piles of hush money paid by Hastert to buy the silence of his victims.

The current President of the United States openly questioned the legitimacy of Kavanaugh’s growing list of accusers on basis that Poor Old Donald Trump has been falsely accused of such behavior in the past. But Trump has also openly admitted to sexual abuse of women on multiple occasions. He has also paid for the silence of women with whom he had sexual affairs. These transgressions were far more recent and even more telling about the character of the President than the accusations made against Kavanaugh, who seemingly behaved very badly as a stupid kid drunk with the power of his own appetites.

So it’s a sick little cabal that is in operation right now. How many more Republicans side with Kavanaugh because they fear the evidence of their own past? We hear people whine in the news that from now on “no man is safe” from the accusations of women from their past. But if men have committed sins the likes of which Kavanaugh is accused, then that information should be public knowledge if they intend to accept political or public positions. The nation does need to know who it can trust. People with dark lies in their past are far more likely to commit dark lies in the present. Their judgment is inextricably skewed by the repression required to hide and ignore those sins.

We need the Republican Party in this country. We need the conscience and values it once could claim as foundations to its existence. We need the Republican Party of Dwight D. Eisenhower and even, to some degree, the party of Richard M. Nixon, whose administration, while ultimately corrupt, did install the EPA as a protection for American’s natural and human resources.

The real story here is that Republicans appear to be ignoring both very recent history and the truth of dark deeds done in the past. But we did not do this to you, Republicans. You did this to yourself.

 

From deplorable to despicable in America

hillary-clintonDuring the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Hillary Clinton famously stepped in a pile of media crap by branding Trump supporters “deplorables” as a critique of a populist agenda that seemed steeped in dog-whistle racism, anachronistic calls for a return to an America that no longer exists, and the dismissal of rampant verbal abuse and lies issued by her opposition Donald Trump.

Clinton was depicted as an elitist for making the “deplorables” comment. Conservative pundits rushed to point out that Clinton exhibited disdain for the “flyover” segments of the American population that had supposedly been ignored by the outgoing President Barack Obama.

That was a convenient skipping stone approach to moving the dialogue away from the fact that Obama was responsible for saving America’s collective ass following the economic meltdown wrought by Bush, Cheney and the Republican-led Congress, Senate and Supreme Court. The GOP “had it all” in the late stages of the Bush empire and it turned into a mess of trickle-down madness and evisceration of the economy for everyday Americans. Millions lost their jobs, their savings and their incomes following Republican rule.

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy, Tuesday, April 14, 2009, at Georgetown University in Washington. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

It wasn’t possible to draw the economy out of the mire in a New York minute. It took stimulus money and a reorganization of the auto industry, to name just two major initiatives taken on by Obama, to put the economy back on track. By the time Obama left office, the steady economy growth was well-established and people were getting back to work in droves.

But that narrative was inconvenient to the Republican desire to work itself back into power. So the excuse to turn Clinton into a political enemy of “the people,” and by proxy, to dismiss the rescue operation Obama performed for the nation as a whole, was simply too good to resist.

Trump leapt on every opportunity to leverage that brand of disgraceful and dishonest political banner. When Clinton labeled certain actions of the Republican base “deplorable,” she was spot on about the racism waiting to explode from the ranks of the Make America Great Again. Trump proved that accusation correct when he dismissed the openly racist actions of his post-election supporters in Charlottesville by claiming there are good people on “both sides.”

Trump-golf-seatedThe Charlottesville dustup was clear and incontrovertible evidence of a deplorable strain of throwback populism that was taking over the narrative in a Reality Show America. Trump tossed these deplorables plenty of red meat in his insults toward Mexicans and his barely cloistered calls for violence within and outside his own rallies.

Trump’s behavior from the get-go has not been just deplorable, it has been despicable, defined as “deserving hatred and contempt.”

Hate at arm’s length

People can claim all they want that hatred should not enter the equation, so we must all work to keep it at arm’s length by relying on the word “despicable” to describe the tenure of Trump and loyalty among his supporters despite the massively disingenuous manner in which The Donald has applied Reality Show principles in mocking his opponents to win the election while secretly making hush money payments to silence porn stars and Playboy playmates whose affairs with Trump, if they had been exposed during the campaign, might actually have proven too much for the evangelical bloc to swallow.

Collusion has many meanings

But probably not. The most despicable act of all is to engage in hypocrisy so bold and in such defiance of supposedly moral principles that one just tosses aside the foundations of one’s beliefs in order to cozy up to power. That is what millions of white Christian evangelicals did to excuse the grievous nature of Donald Trump to vote him into office. The hypocrisy of their support is so grossly beyond reason that it qualifies as absolutely despicable by nature.

Now that Trump’s long-held devotion to corruption to gain power is being firmly exposed through his association with the likes of the convicted Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman, and his haplessly entrapped personal lawyer Michael Cohn, who has now implicated Trump for campaign finance violations, the criminal character of our sitting President has now been confirmed. He has colluded with people doing criminal acts and with associates sporting criminal histories (not proven) to gain power.

All the indictments of staff beyond these two principle players are proof that Trump surrounds himself with “the best people” only so far as they reflect and echo the corrupt and violently misguided instincts of their despicable leader.

Lock him up

melania-trump-donald-trump-020380f2-6db7-4202-b16c-b737c623c9e2Trump deserves not only to be impeached, but to go to jail for the federal crimes he committed, and the lies and treasonous deceptions he has committed against the American people. Trump is the real life Despicable Me that America elected in a fit of cartoon reality. The nation probably deserves what it got. The entire loss of principle behind his election demonstrated the fact that America is perhaps the most conflicted and compromised nation on God’s earth.

Only we should probably leave the God part out of that last sentence. Its a long road back from despicable to respectable when you’re dealing with such things.

The real Sean Hannity question

Hannity.jpegMichael Cohen has served as attorney for Donald Trump and his organization for many years. He’s covered up affairs for Trump, even paying off a porn star to keep silent two weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

There are problems with that behavior as it relates to federal election laws. But it also evidences fraudulent behavior in execution and protection of a non-disclosure agreement that was never signed by Trump yet has been used to publicly threaten and silence Stormy Daniels from sharing information about the nature of their illicit affair.

The Hannity Question: Round 1

Lurking behind all this sordid secrecy is the fact that a big Trump supporter with a national TV audience that numbers in the millions is also a client of Michael Cohen. That is Sean Hannity. And of course, Hannity denies that he was ever a client of Cohen. Yet Cohen’s attorneys insisted that the name of a mystery “client” be kept secret to protect their identity as the details of Cohen’s fraudulent activities are examined after a raid by the FBI that was approved by a judge who saw ample reason to suspect Cohen of considerable wrongdoing on a number of fronts.

The Hannity Question #2

So let’s pause there a moment and consider something. Sean Hannity claims that he’s never “paid” for any legal work done by Cohen. He admits to having several “brief conversations” with the attorney over matters that are not specific. Such as these, perhaps? 

alg-donald-trump-jpgYet the 1:1:1 relationship between Donald Trump, Michael Cohen and Sean Hannity must be considered a legitimate political concern. We’re talking about a lawyer in Cohen who directly represents the President of the United States. He is the subject of suspicion in conducting dishonest or outright illegal activity on behalf of the current United States President during a highly contentious political campaign whose outcomes were driven by large-scale media exposure.

We should note that there were also proven efforts documented by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller indicating that Russian operatives used social media to adversely sway voter opinions toward Hillary Clinton while promoting positive impressions of Donald Trump. Could Cohen possibly have been involved in contact or negotiations with any such operators? It does not seem out of the parameters of Trump’s methods to have Cohen take care of such communications, even if just to get the direct on anyone who might open a can of Trump worms.

Media advocate(s)

Throughout all this, Sean Hannity has been a demonstrated advocate of the person and policies of Donald Trump. And we’re supposed to believe that his association with Trump’s personal attorney is just a coincidence.

Imagine if it had been revealed that President Barack Obama had shared a personal attorney with a broadcaster on CNN, MSNBC or any of the larger entity media companies in America? What if Obama had shared an attorney with Mark Zuckerberg, or Tim Cook of Apple. Jeff Bezos of Amazon?

The Right would have blown a gasket. Yet here is Sean Hannity, essentially in the same legal bed with Donald Trump, and claiming that he’s had no influence on the man, nor gained any favor, special treatment or information from the relationship.

Client-attorney privilege

15-cohen.w710.h473They’re all screaming about the supposed protections of the client-attorney relationship. But this is America we’re talking about, and rule of law says that when criminal activities are afoot, and they clearly are with Cohen, the law takes precedence. And when national security is at risk, as Trump has evidenced on a number of occasions by revealing classified information or issuing nuclear threats or making war without approval of Congress, then America deserves the right to know the real motivations behind all the cloaks of immature judgement that constitute the blanket fort of Donald Trump.

Lock Them Up

Trump screamed “Lock her up” toward Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server. Well, she made mistakes. But none of them was deemed by multiple investigations to be criminal in any way.

And during all that scrutiny, she did not share with a major media personality the services of a crooked lawyer with a reputation as a mob-like fixer. That would have made heads explode on the Alt-Right. Frankly, I don’t even think the Right could make up things that sound so absurd.

Yet here we are. Stuck in a surreal world where lies and legends converge in a maelstrom of political subterfuge.

It’s time for all this to come to light. Here’s hoping the Special Masters soon to be hired to vet information secured during the raid on Cohen’s joint will find reason to force Trump and Hannity and all the rest of the scoundrels hiding behind “legal means” to tell the truth. That’s the answer to the Hannity Question we all want to know. What’s really going behind the scenes  in the Right Wing world, and how is it about to make America a far worse place than it once was?

 

What Republican Speakers of the House hide behind those smiles

newt gingrich.JPGNewt Gingrich. Dennis Hastert. John Boehner. Paul Ryan.

What comes to mind while running through that list of individuals? They all seem to have been hiding something creepy behind their smiles.

The first two were scions of hypocrisy. Powerful men, for sure. Keen on forceful implementation of partisan ideology. Absolutely. 

But Gingrich carried on affairs outside of marriage, even serving a wife struggling with cancer a directive for divorce. Harsh, dude. And Gingrich invented the brand of divisive, winner-take-all, scorched earth politics that are tearing the country apart these days.

And that was carried on by yet another tough-guy conservative speaker named Dennis Hastert. But his smile was ultimately wiped off his face by scandal.

ct-dennis-hastert-lawsuit-met-20170222.jpgYet let’s recall that Dennis Hastert was Speaker of the House for a very long time. He hid his sordid past from the public while pretending to be the good-guy Coach beloved by community and country.

Yet even in that role, he was dismissive of political balance on all matters of domestic policy. He also happily trotted alongside warmongers like Bush and Cheney as they lied to the world and committed what amounted to war crimes through the torture and death of Iraqi citizens.

Then we learned that Hastert hid dark secrets about his own past, essentially bribing men that he had sexually abused as boys to keep quiet so that the lie of his legacy could be sustained. Is it any wonder he was forceful in his politics as well?

John-Boehner.jpgSuch is the dog-whistle world of conservative politics that the legacy of John Boehner was to preside over the highly prejudiced conservative resistance to America’s first black President, Barack Obama.

Boehner acted in league with the likes of the dog-whistle king Mitch McConnell, who swore that his only goal in life was to make Obama a one-term President. Thus Boehner failed the American people in his role as moderator of Republic, whose Constitution specifically guarantees equal rights and fair treatment for all, even the President.

Boehner further compromised the American people through cynical collusion with lobbyists to turn the Affordable Care Act into a bonanza for insurance companies and Big Pharma.

Yet even Boehner was deposed for incompetency by his own party, who didn’t like the idea that he even talked with President Obama, much less tried to work with him.

Paul-Ryan-Smile.jpgAnd that’s how the Republicans arrived at the likes of Paul Ryan, who didn’t even want the job as Speaker of the House.

Thus Ryan sorts into the bin as yet another hypocrite who insists that he hates government while forming his entire career and wealth around the advantages it has conferred to him. Along the way of course, Ryan has spouted trippy stuff about the merits of Ayn Rand and the blessings of free market economics, but in the end he has turned to be little more than a smarmy salesman for a brand of hateful politics that even he found distasteful. He has squirmed and writhed under the thumb of Donald Trump, but he has yet to stand up to the man. And now he’s quitting so he won’t have to.

At times Ryan has tried to act sort of human, but he kept making obviously stupid mistakes. These included a claim that he ran a marathon in three hours when he’s never even come close to that time in real life. Ryan’s excuse? He was somewhere in that range.

Which about explains the lack of effectiveness and honesty in all of Ryan’s political life. Multiple efforts to gut the Affordable Care Act and replace it have failed. When it came to reforming health care, Republicans proved to be an empty vessel devoid of substantial ideas of even reasonable change. Ryan is a poster boy for that political naivete.

Ryan smiling.pngNow he’s “retiring” as he puts it. But in truth, he’s actually quitting for a few years to avoid the bloodbath that is fast approaching for the conservative cabal installed by ignorance of people who consistently vote against their best interests.

That dire fact is being demonstrated in real time by the impact of trade wars being barked into existence by Donald Trump, whose tariffs are predicted to have dire economic effects on farmers here in the USA. Trump has promised that “we’ll make it up to you” but nothing the President says in that sort of context ever comes true.

There’s a simple reason for that. Trump doesn’t have the moral capacity to speak the truth. That’s not how he’s lived his life. And that’s not how he got elected in the first place. If Trump started telling the truth, he’d be impeached immediately. So instead, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has been assigned to tell the truth for Donald Trump, and the Big Orange One doesn’t like it one bit.

So there will be some shit hitting the fan very soon. And that’s why Paul Ryan has decided that he has to leave for the moment. He’s been outstripped by a master hypocrite and liar who exceeds even the orange complexion of former Speaker John Boehner.

The line of Republican Speakers has thus proven to exemplify the worst extremes in America politics. From forceful jerks to complicit liars, the Gingrich-Hastert-Boehner-Ryan lineage is a pitiful demonstration of the conflicted, hypocritical core of conservatism as an ideology. These men demonstrate the fact that the conservative doctrine is a cobbled-together mess of competing desires that constitute neither virtues or values. The Republican Party is a gathering of neocontrarians.

paul-ryan-smile (1).jpgIt’s all about getting the money and power and keeping it. Hence the activist conservative Supreme Court rulings that favor the “free speech” of hidden political contributions. That’s a thin veneer to cover the cause of political corruption.

Because if Republicans can’t win on the merits of their results, they must excel at getting rich people to pay their way into office. Coming off the Bush era, with 9/11 taking place under their watch, a war of choice in Iraq that cost trillions and an economy that crashed under Republican rule, the GOP doctrine was proven to be a grandiose lie.

But hypocrites and conservatives without conscience (to quote John Dean) excel in the realm of cognitive dissonance. Thus the GOP strategy has been to deny that any of that happened under Bush and Cheney. Or else they disclaim those two as unrepresentative of true conservatism. Which is nothing more than lying about the past. Revisionism. And poor excuses for massive fraud.

And that’s the only reason why Republicans are sad that Paul Ryan is leaving office. He put a friendlier face on their massive disgrace. His friendly altar-boy good lucks and his smiling mug serve as the Poster Child for Republican denial. That tradition incorporates conservative denial of science and evolution, climate change and education in general.  But Ryan’s smiling visage overcomes with a youngish-looking appeal for conservative dollars.

And that’s rather creepy. Because one must wonder, given the history of the sexually abusive proclivities of former Speaker Dennis Hastert, if there isn’t something a bit sketchier behind the Republican love for outgoing speaker Paul Ryan.

That smile looks mighty pained at times. Given the dire history of Republican Speakers and their propensity to avoid the truth at any cost, we can only assume that Paul Ryan must be hiding a little something behind that smile.