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.

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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.

 

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.

 

Reasons why America should feel shitty

 

Flies on Shit

Wait, could it be? For a second there it looked like a face on the rump of that shit. 

Almost two years ago when the 2016 election campaign had just begun, I’d written quite a bit already about the achingly awful qualifications of prospective Republican presidential candidates. Every one of them was a shitty choice. None of them had leadership qualities or anything resembling a broad enough worldview to serve as an effective president. And I said so.

 

Long before that patent situation served up such a stink, I’d spent quite a bit of time on social media savaging and ridiculing neoconservative thinking on subject matter ranging from health care to religion to social issues and culture. This consistent engagement on such subjects proved frustrating to some of my conservative friends. A few unfriended me on social media such as Facebook. Frankly, I was glad to be rid of them. Their cognitive dissonance in defense of Republican failures on the economy, speculative wars and backward cultural and social policies reeked like a pile of confusing shit.

At one point, it was passed along to me that a casual acquaintance and cycling friend who had followed me for a while on Facebook was Unfriending me. A friend passed the reason along. “He says you make him feel shitty.”

Well, when conservatives (and so-called neoconservatives) set out to make the lives of so many people a living hell by blocking equal rights for gays, ridiculing civil rights efforts for minorities and publicly torturing women (can you say Rush Limbaugh and Sandra Fluke?) over health care and reproductive rights, someone has to speak out.

The shitty behavior doesn’t stop there, however. Neoconservatives went on the attack toward President Obama before he was installed in office. But Obama had done nothing to earn their ire on the order of what Donald Trump has just done to insult Americans. So conservatives went “desperate” by insisting he was a Muslim to make him look like he was a sympathizer with Islamic terrorists. Still others attacked him on grounds of the legality of his birth certificate. That was just a shitty attempt to disqualify the man for political reasons, yet there were underlying racial insults behind those attacks as well.

When Obama exhibited genuine leadership or would not give in to such torments, dog-whistle campaigns emerged insinuated he was “uppity,” a racially driven conflagration designed to threaten and control our President. The attacks on the looks of his wife were similarly ugly. And they never relented.

It is next to impossible to counter such ignorance and prejudice. People who think and act that way, all the way up to national leaders such as Sen. Mitch McConnell, are just shitheads by nature. His angry promise to block all attempts at governing in order to make President Obama a one-term president was a display of shitty character.

Yet some people seem to admire shitty characters. It’s in their blood to choose ugly and angry behavior over a considerate or God Forbid, academic approach to problem-solving and policy. That’s why men like Vice President Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld proved so popular among neoconservatives eager to whip the world into shape using military force or even torture to get their way. The motto is Be Shitty to Others Before They Can Be Shitty to You.

Religious conservatives aren’t much better. Throughout history conservative cabals have consistently defied the “turn the other cheek” admonitions of Jesus Christ to side with zealots and nationalists eager to win the world for Christ through war.

This is a really shitty thing to do to the fundamental precepts of Christianity, which calls us to “love our enemies.”

But let’s admit it: Jesus had his hands full even in his own day with religious legalists and warlike zealots, one of whom turned out to be the disciple that betrayed him to the authorities. These are the types of shitty believers who think they know better than God how to run the world.

Zealots for Christ are still running amok in the world, starting new Crusades toward other religions and acting as if they have absolutely no confidence in their own God, lest they should leave it all to faith and trust as the Bible says. Instead, they grab hold of the Bible and make it a bludgeon for creationism or Manifest Destiny or hating gays for simply existing on this earth.

It’s all the work of narrow-minded zealots who don’t like to be held accountable for the cause and effect of their shitty ideology, which actually blows over like a house of cards when held up to the merest intellectual or moral scrutiny. But zealots never let that happen, because their approach to theology is to attack first, and apologize never.

As a result of all this defensive posturing, conservatives, as a rule, know quite well how to defend their shit better than anyone else. And they use creative methods.

A favorite practice of conservatives (social, political, religious, fiscal) is to accuse the other side of the very faults they find so offensive in themselves. This is the Repression Factor in all conservatism. Rather than come to grips with reality, it is far easier to deny instincts of fear or failure or sexual desire than to act in good conscience and seek out the reasons why those repressive instincts exist.

But sometimes its just mean-spiritedness that drives repression. That’s how conservatives “Swiftboated” the honorable military career of John Kerry. It is also why neoconservatives and the Alt-Right accused Obama of being Muslim to paint him as a sympathizer with Islamic terrorists. That’s a really shitty thing to do, and lacks any significant conscience.

Which is why I don’t feel any real need to apologize to my conservative friends for making them feel shitty the last few years. Because the outcome of this Republican shitstorm is the election of Donald Trump to President of the United States. Even devout conservatives know this is a really shitty outcome for the party. Yet they’re holding their noses and chortling “victory” because they think they’ve won.

But that reminds one of the old joke about the guy that lost his sunglasses down an open latrine. He goes in to grab them and his buddy asks how much shit he can expect to encounter if he jumps in to help.

“It’s only ankle deep!” Comes the reply. So the friend jumps in and find himself neck deep in raw sewage. “I thought you said it was only ankle deep!” he moans.

“Well, I dove in,” his friend replies.

And that’s a perfect allegory for where we find ourselves headed into 2017. We’re all neck deep in a really situation because 26% of America saw fit to vote for an orange-faced maniac who treats everyone he meets like shit.

That’s why I’ve been so willing to make my conservative friends feel shitty for so long. Because I saw this coming. I knew where the ugly Bush years were leading us, and what it meant that people saw fit to treat President Obama like shit just because he was black, or they thought he was Muslim, or believed he would take away their guns.

That was the shit sandwich neoconservatives and the Alt-Right served America the last eight years. Now we’re all told we have to eat it. Some of refuse. And that’s why I’ll keep on making conservatives, friends and otherwise, feel really shitty about what transpired in 2016.

We don’t have to take this shit. And we won’t.

 

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.

Predestination

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.

 

 

Republican toothpaste won’t go back in the tube

 

GOP Meme Themes.jpg

Graphic by Christopher Cudworth

 

So, the campaign for President is headed toward 2016, and what have we seen from the Republican side? A whole lot of foaming at the mouth about the state of the nation. Yet it’s a brand of political toothpaste that seems to be causing cavities in the GOP.

alg-donald-trump-jpgFrom the vacuous, poisonous observations of Dr. Ben Carson to the highly corrosive language of Donald Trump, Republican candidates are grinding away at their base. For the American people, it’s like brushing teeth with sulphuric acid.

Yet Republicans keep doubling down as they brush with racism and xenophobia, as if that’s the way to establish a clean and loyal base.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz is rinsing himself with evangelical fervor, and Marco Rubio just hopes his hard smile wins some converts somewhere. But as always with seemingly forthright Republicans, it turns out there might be a little rotten behavior behind that smile.

marathon-man-1976-04-gWe’re faced with a party whose tactics most resemble the dentist in the movie Marathon Man. Cruelty, anger and hatred are the prescription medicines of choice. Are voters expected to lie back and take this? For how long?

America suffered through eight years of the antics of Dr. Clousseau dentistry under George Bush while the sadistic political practitioner Dick Cheney (is that him in this photo above?) called for the power of a Unitary Executive while approving torture as a means of extracting information in Black Sites around the world. All while stockpiling military-industrial money for himself in the back offices of the White House.

dick-cheneySo you see, the Republican toothpaste does not go easily back in the tube. Trump isn’t really trying anymore. He just keeps spitting out bits of his teeth and gums along with his racist, xenophobic brand of Republican “misery loves company” ideology.

“This hurts you more than it hurts me,” seems to be the Trump mantra. And people follow along, because authoritarian patients love anyone that promises their selfish misery is being acknowledged as the American Way.

It’s apparent they had their Wisdom Teeth out long ago.

When prejudice is its own brand of patriotism

MarcoRubio1With Donald Trump leading the Republican polls on a wave of prejudicial fervor to “take back America,” and men like Marco Rubio taking the aggressive stance that conservative politics are the only answer to America’s social ills it might pay to step back and look at what that phrase “Take Back America” really means.

Because you could flip a couple words around in that phrase and find out what it really means. “Take America Back” might be a better description. Because that’s what conservatives really want to do, take America “back” to the supposed Good Old Days before social revolution opened the doors to real social equality.

Let’s first consider the fact that the “Good Old Days” never really existed in America. One could point to the period before the 1960s when white America and a largely Christian dynamic ruled the nation, and call that the Good Old Days. But in terms of equality for all Americans, the social mores of that period ignored millions of people in terms of civil rights. Blacks and other minorities were still banned from public spaces and certainly prevented from gaining certain kinds of employment. Women also were typically forced into subservient roles as housewives and order-takers in the work world.

That’s why the 1960s were a necessary step to break down a social order that evolved around the dominance of white males over society.

There was a convenience to those prejudices that fostered the dominance of white males. Those conveniences persist today, and are readily identifiable in the behavior of all those who respond to the dog-whistle racism of slogans such as Take Back America.

Prejudice is the easy choice for many Americans because:

  1. It excuses responsibility and blame for the real cause of social problems in America. Blaming the predominance of gun violence on black people is a convenient red herring distraction from mass shootings conducted by white individuals espousing racist worldviews. Same goes for white supremacy militias armed to the teeth in fear of the government. Gun violence is a product of disenfranchised people of all races that have easy access to guns. But blaming gun violence on race exonerates the vigilante justice system that has emerged in America.
  2. Racial prejudice dismisses and obscures valuable social contributions by people of all races. The best way to avoid acknowledging equality and the social competition it represents is to effectively target a race, nationality or religion with slurs, stereotypes and falsehoods that diminish genuine social contributions. That’s why men like Donald Trump categorize all Mexicans as criminals and rapists, to belittle one group while seemingly complimenting the other. In fact such tactics are an insult to the intelligence of all involved. But those who stand to gain from the power bloc represented by the accuser will often ignore or embrace the pain of others as a sign of their own superiority.
  3. Prejudice is an aggressive response to fear. Striking out against those you choose to fear is the principal measure taken by all those captive to racial, political or religious prejudice. As mentioned in #2, fear over social competition with other races is a frequent driver of oppression. This was the case with slavery in the south, followed by segregation that lasted well into the “Good Old Days” of the 1950s and beyond. In fact fear drives a deep strain of racism across all of America these days, and men like Donald Trump know how to leverage that fear into a political power base. The dog-whistle tactics of the NRA with its fear-mongering about “protection” against all sorts of perceived enemies is what raises money and garners political power for that organization. The power of prejudice is all about fear.
  4. Prejudice is all about feeling persecuted. Right beside fear as a prejudice-driver is typically a claim of persecution. When any group in society is losing a culture war of any type, be it religious, civil, business or nationality, persecution is the justification for lashing out against another group. Prejudice was the motivator for Adolph Hitler, whose goal it was to strike back and subjugate the perceived persecutors of Germany. He had all those he either feared or considered inferior put to death. A persecution complex is a product of tribalism, which is driven by the social need to dominate and conquer fear. But it amounts to little more than blaming others for the disadvantage people often create for themselves through their own shallow, often dogmatic thinking. Yes, there is genuine persecution in this world, and it should be confronted. But creating memes of persecution for the sake of attention and grabbing social power is inexcusable. We see that brand of persecution complex at work in the so-called “War On Christmas,” which is not a war at all, but in fact represents a justifiable disgust with the commercial and boorish nature of the holiday that has strayed so far from its original roots it barely exists as a religious holiday at all. Christians themselves are to blame for the grandiose commercialism that overshadows the meaning of the season, yet it is convenient to claim persecution by those who dare to question the dominance of the disgusting spectacle Christmas has become.

All these brands of fear and discrimination combine to form the prejudicially populist notion of what it means to “Take Back America.” Throw in a bit of disgust about taxes, social programs and other self-interested protestations that actually pale in comparison with how much our nation spends on militarily aggressive “defense spending” and the package of fearful prejudice as a nationalistic life force is complete.

Every Republican on the GOP ticket represents one form of prejudice or another. And sure enough, all they can ever find to say in defense of their fear-based, persecution-hugging worldview is that the liberal media is to blame for all their ills. It all fits the pattern. Prejudice rules among ignorant fools.

Even the lone black person among Republican candidates seems perpetually confused by his roles in this election cycle. Ben Carson has actually stated that slavery was essentially a good thing for blacks in America, and that blacks were happy before all this social revolution stuff occurred. Carson ironically fits the model of what many white Americans seem to want from a black candidate, one that speaks their own prejudices from a platform in which the oppressed speak the words of the oppressors.

And that’s Republican political strategy in a nutshell. Find a way to make people too stupid to recognize their own pain, and you’ve got a voting bloc that will do whatever you want, blame whoever you tell them to, and parrot talking points that actually kill the hopes of all involved.

These are strange times in which we live when prejudice is considered a brand of patriotism.

The Republican Field of Dreams

Everyone knows that in youth baseball, the weakest fielder is always assigned to play right field. That’s because the number of left-handed batters is typically fewer than those who bat rightie, and young right-handed hitters generally are not known for their ability to drive the ball to the opposite field.

But of course the greater insult for any hitter is that moment when you’re up to bat and the opposing team’s Right Fielder actually moves in when you’re up at the plate. That’s a real insult to your hitting skills. When the other team does not even consider you a threat to hit one past their worst fielder, you know you’ve got problems.

Field of DreamsSuch has been the case with the Republican Party candidates in the state of Iowa. It’s no coincidence perhaps, that in the state known for the Field of Dreams also hosts the early innings of the presidential election. Already a few candidates have disappeared into the outfield corn with no intention or possibility of coming back. Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, for example, vanished between the cornstalks before the game in Iowa really started. Now Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal is gone too. Vanished. His act was too corny we must presume.

ben-carsonBye Bye Ben

Now it appears Ben Carson is headed for the same type of vanishing point. His inability to even keep score as the game went along is responsible for his fading political game.

Every time he came up to the plate it felt like he was facing the wrong way or claiming he was being thrown the wrong pitches for him to be successful as a hitter. When the media actually quoted statistics about the things he claimed that he’d said and done in the past, his press clippings did not match up with his Babe Ruth brand of bravado.

He probably won’t quit the game, because he truly believes he belongs in his strength and prowess at the plate. But he was the candidate for whom the Right Fielder moved in the farthest, and his soft-spoken opinions still never made it out of the infield.

Hard-Liners

There are still some supposedly Big Hitters in the Republican Field of Dreams. Slugger Donald Trump comes to mind. But who thinks the man can really hit a political curveball? He’s a power hitter for sure, and his alg-donald-trump-jpgmighty swings at the plate cause even a few liberals to jump in their seats in fear that he’ll connect somehow. Yet while some keep rooting for Trump to hit the ball out of the park, so far all he’s managed are some hard-liners.

Plus, he’s the prospect no one really wants on the team. He doesn’t fit in the Republican clubhouse, that’s for sure. That queasy little Single-A manager Lindsey Graham even predicted that a Trump election would mean the end of the Republican Party.

Meanwhile, those actually rooting against the Republican Oligarchs are wringing their hands in hopes that prognosticators such as Coach Graham are correct. There is an evil quality to any team that claims to hate the very political league in which they play.

Snapping pitches

Then there are truly strange competitors such as Carly Fiorina, the woman who certainly believes there is no such thing as crying in baseball. You can see her down there snapping at pitches with her teeth instead of the bat.

No Carly Fiorinadoubt she’s a fierce competitor, but does she even understand the first thing about the baseball of politics? There’s an art to this game, of hitting them out of the park. Snatching the ball in mid-air with your choppers and spitting the ball out in the dirt is not going to impress people who want to see if you can lead a team with your political hitting, catching and throwing. That’s just not how the game is played.

Hopeful sluggers

Deep in the lineup of Republican shallow hitters we find both Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Cruz is the Ty Cobb of political baseball, while Rubio swings his Latin heritage like fiesty little batboy that has not yet made the team in tryouts.

Ted-CruzOne can easily imagine Cruz sliding into second or third base with his cleats up, begging for a fight. Indeed, he’s challenged none other than President Obama to come insult him to his face.

The Cobb-like Cruz prides himself on this bad boy reputation, courting conservatives of all pinstripes. That means he must change his uniform daily in an effort to appeal to the tight-lipped fiscal conservatives waiting to back his No Legislation League as well as the religious conservatives begging Cruz to strike down the laws supporting legalized abortions.

Overall it’s a strange crowd to whom Cruz the Crusher seems to appeal. The Tea Party seems to love him, and editors at Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze.com website push his story as if the entire world of conservative baseball depends upon the guy who seems to care not if there is a team on the field with him at all. He’ll take on an entire team of progressives on his own if you let him.

The Angry Batboy

And Marco Rubio? Well, we know he’d willingly cork his bat if it meant he could get elected to something other than the Republican batboy position he now occupies. He keeps jumping off the bench when it looks like there might be a fight on the field after a media brushback pitch.

MarcoRubio1He certainly keeps his eye out for opportunities to look tough. But like any batboy, he’s not a part of the real action even though he keeps swinging bats at the umpire, the ball girls and anyone he can reach if they give him any guff.

Yet it turns out that upon closer inquiry, Rubio has not even kept pace with his tab at the Hot Dog Stand of life. So there are serious questions whether he’s ready for the Bigs at all.

Swinging at everything

Paul-RanFinally, we come to the ballplayer with two first names sewn on his back, one Rand Paul.

Whenever Paul comes to the plate, the Right Fielder and the Second Baseman stand together just outside the infield

Everyone knows that Libertarians can’t hit for crap. They swing at every pitch as a matter of need and habit. Once in a while they might foul one off high into the seats behind home plate. But without any ball or strike rules to govern the game, a Libertarian hitter tries too hard to make an impact with fans who think the rules of political baseball just suck.

But Rand is consistent in his ways, to be sure. Like his daddy Ron Paul, Rand has been known to stick his head out in front of a fastball, and the crack it makes when it hits his skull brings a few fans to their feet! “Look, they holler! “Our man is the only one with his head in the game!”

So Rand has been hit by a few pitches, yet he looked absolutely asleep at the plate during several Republican debates, disappointing not only his fans, but those who would like to see some blood on the stage. This is America, after all.

There’s Your Field of Republican Dreams

So the Field of Republican Dreams is just that. They all have dreams of being the President, but the field on which they’re playing is not really connected to reality.

That’s what comes of contending that you hate government while trying to get elected. The entire ball field gets turned inside out when you make statements like that. It’s as the pitcher is suddenly throwing from home plate and the batter is standing on the mound screaming, “Throw me the high hard one, I’ll hit it out of here!”

But honestly, from that vantage point, every hit you get would turn out to be a foul ball. That’s certainly what it feels like when listening to people like Donald Trump, whose infield chatter has included a call to force Muslims to carry identification just like the Jews did in Nazi Germany.

Fantasy Camp rejects

Did someone let an insane fan on the field? Are all these ballplayers on the Republican Field of Dreams just a pack of baseball Fantasy Camp rejects whose talent never let them be real ballplayers?

It’s true: we’ve all been dumbstruck watching how deathly shallow the Right Fielder is actually playing these guys. It’s clear that none of them can hit, and very few can even field a question without complaining it is a Gotcha Pitch.

The Mighty Somethingdick-cheney

The Great American Pastime may be baseball, but American Politics has always run a close second. And in this context, one must consider the epic baseball poem Casey At The Bat because it sheds considerable light on the Republican Righties who’ve come to the plate in this presidential election cycle. The poem seems prescient about Republican Prospects in the 2016 Election:

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clinched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey has struck out.
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The height of arrogance and the depth of denial

DSCN1904The Republican propensity for denial of responsibility and grasp of fact is now so revered among the party’s elite it has become the first tool of response to any challenge.

The most recent denial of fact is the Republican claim that their last President of the United States was not, in fact, actually the President when the 9/11 tragedy took place. The initial volley about the issue came from none other than Donald Trump, ostensibly the Republican leading the polls among conservatives. This is what Trump said about George W. Bush and his responsibility for 9/11.

“When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time,” Trump said. “He was President, okay? Don’t blame him or don’t blame him, but he was President. The World Trade Center came down during his reign,” Trump replied. ”

O Brother

Those simple facts did not set well with Jeb Bush, another Republican hopeful who has repeatedly claimed that his brother George “kept us safe.”

He may have been referring to the idea that no additional foreign terror attacks took place during the remaining years of the Bush presidency. But as noted, Trump was having none of that nonsense.

This harsh divide manifested in Trump’s domineering approach to criticism breaks with the Republican tradition of attacking only the opposition and not criticizing their own. That has been the presiding, if not perfect, strategy behind the Republican push for power over several decades. There may be ugly fights behind the scenes among Republicans, but the goal has always been to keep those spats private.

Breaking the rules

Trump is not playing by any of those rules, and as a result, is not really running for the Republican nomination so much as he is forcing the party to reform itself around this meme of gaining power at all costs. Even by Trump’s standards, that means leaving the rest of the nasty baggage behind. This could be the ironic salvation of Republicanism, if not the Republican Party itself.

See, the tradition of denying its own failures has both a benefit and a cost. Sooner or later you get to the obvious and well-documented parts of recent history, and you must deny even these to continue on the path toward power. The denials launch from the dusty calls of legislatures and courts on Constitutional matters to exploding buildings and wars started by sitting Presidents who stretched the truth to justify their ideology and their actions. In other words, you can only win by breaking every rule of conscience and truth.

Trumped at their own game

That’s what Trump is calling to account, and Jeb Bush has put his image of brotherly love and political credibility on the line, deciding to throw his support behind his brother’s claims of success rather than confont the facts, which point to a massive failure in intelligence, both gathered and native, by his apparently dimwit brother.

Yes, George W. Bush did some stupid things, and Donald Trump is having nothing to do with making excuses for what he perceives as the dumbing down of recent history. What we’re witnessing in real time is the height of arrogance and the depth of denial running the Republican Party. Their grasp of reality isn’t just slipping away, it is gone entirely.

Denial as a worldview

IMG_5827Republicans also deny the science behind global climate change on claims it is arrogant to think human beings could ever cause such a massive shift in the earth’s foundational temperatures.

Look at how that works. The GOP hates Al Gore for his claim that global climate change is, to quote a phrase, “An Inconvenient Truth.” So by directing their anger toward Al Gore they accomplish two things. Poor Al tends to come off as arrogant in his general demeanor, which makes him an ideal target for Republican denial of fact. They use him to deflect the factual arrogance of denying 97% of the world’s climate scientists who find tons of evidence that our current pattern of rising temperatures and warming oceans is a result of human activities.

But think about what’s happening here. If it is possible to deny the fact that 9/11 happened under the watch of George W. Bush, denying the complex and scientifically predicted influence of climate change is simple by comparison. The height of arrogance and the depth of denial work together fantastically in the propaganda-driven mode by which the Republican Party communicates.

In other words

As a result, terms like “sustainability” and “gun control” become catchphrases and buzzwords of resistance in the party of denial. These terms bespeak change in favor of temperance and planning, which are translated as government intervention by the party with a professed aversion for government even as it seeks total dominance over the three branches of jurisdiction; the Presidency, legislature and the courts.

This is the height of arrogance and the depth of denial at its most sinister level. To claim to hate the thing you want to rule is both an arrogance in purpose and a denial of responsibility.

Christian fakes

That’s what’s taking place on a grand scale here in America. The height of arrogance and the depth of denial also rules the brand of Christianity used to back Republican aims. The movement to wield the power of Christian faith in politics without abiding by the basic principles of Christianity is now 30-40 years old. Conservatives seeking to align their supply-side economics with biblical authority conveniently ignore the call to divest themselves of wealth in favor of spiritual governance. As a result, churches feel free to politicize and make the claim that you cannot be both liberal (ne: a Democrat) and a Christian.

Running interference

It’s no surprise that the inconvenient truth of science, especially the theory of evolution, interferes with this narrative that a fundamentally literal interpretation of the Bible is the only way to gain truth. This also denies the fact that Jesus taught using metaphors drawn from nature to explain important spiritual principles.

Donald Trump's proposed golf courseWhen pressed about his own faith and love for the Bible, Donald Trump ripped a page right out of the Republican playbook with this statement: “I wouldn’t want to get into it. Because to me, that’s very personal,” he said. “The Bible means a lot to me, but I don’t want to get into specifics.”

Again, the height of arrogance and the depth of denial is at work.

Twitterized

But not everyone buys this brand of junk. Using his own quotes and philosophy, folks on Twitter took after Trump (and by proxy, all of RepublicanLand) with a feed called #TrumpBible. Take a look at how they handed Trump his stupid hat.

It’s time we all got a bit wiser about how this game of arrogance and denial really works. No one should get away with stupid remarks like Jeb Bush claiming his brother was not responsible for 9/11, or the partnered meme that Bush was not even President when it happened nine months after he was installed as President.

The sad fact is that so many people prefer the height of arrogance and the depth of denial. It fulfills their worldview on many fronts, exonerating them from responsibility for painful social issues such as gun violence, racism and economic exploitation. Let’s be honest and hold these people accountable. Stop letting your friends and conservative associates turn bald-faced denials and unaccountable arrogances into something resembling fact.

Donald Trump is just the starting point. He symbolizes the so-called anger expressed by so many Americans, and for all the wrong reasons. Denial is not a form of government. It is the absence of governance, and an entire lack of conscience.

Don’t let them get away with it. Call them out. The height of arrogance and the depth of denial is exactly what is killing American hopes and a future fit for all.

On Women’s Equality Day and why the dicks keep getting in the way

For years those Viagra and Cialis commercials that mention four-hour erections were a source of considerable entertainment in our family. Even in middle school my daughter used to laugh at that disclaimer. Granted, it’s not a funny issue for those grappling with a four hour erection. But the image it leaves in your mind is rather compelling.

It also happens to symbolize the problems so many men seem to have in protecting their sense of personal virility. Once you put it out there that you’re a man with a hard on for life, it can be tough to take it back.

Still, products like Viagra remain a highly favored approach for men seeking to regain or sustain their sexual prowess. And it’s not just about age. It’s about performance and “feeling like a man,” whatever that means. So it’s a broadcast appeal that products like Viagra and Cialis use to help men feel more like men.

So let’s just call it the Viagra Effect for a moment, and consider what it really means for men to be chemically encouraged to run around all the time acting like dicks.

Insurance companies are notably ambivalent about covering the cost of Viagra. The website Personalhealthinsurance.com says this about the drug:

“The high cost of Viagra, averaging $22 to $24 per pill, leads many men to seek health insurance coverage for this drug. However, insurance companies have been ambivalent about their coverage for ED drugs, with some insurers picking up the cost and others refusing to cover any portion of the bill.

For example, Medicare Part D does not cover any type of erectile dysfunction drug. This is bad news for the elderly population, the largest group of men who need the help provided by ED medications. On the other hand, many private insurance plans, such as Aetna and United Healthcare, make provisions to cover the cost of Viagra or other ED drugs when deemed “medically necessary” by a doctor and if the patient’s state of residence requires them to do so. HMOs usually cover Viagra with a higher co-pay than for other drugs.”

We might start by considering why these products are seem to be so highly favored by politicians seeking support for their campaigns. You really don’t hear many politicians blaming men for trying to get erections. Supporting legislation that helps pay for penis power like Viagra and Cialis is likely good politics. Giving men real power over their own penises is of course a good way to win favor with male voters.

Name calling and shaming

But by contrast, it has not been an equal playing field for women seeking help from insurance companies to pay for birth control. Men like Rush Limbaugh branded Sandra Fluke a “slut” for proposing (and defending) the idea that women should have control over their own reproductive and sexual lives.

It proves there is a fine line between having a dick and being a dick. When men demand control over women’s bodies by blocking legislation to help women protect against unwanted pregnancies through insurance coverage, or de-funding legitimate services such as Planned Parenthood, that is men acting like real dicks.

On being a dick

Being a “dick” is defined by UrbanDictionary.com as “conducting oneself in an inappropriate manner to the annoyance of others.”

And for the last 20 years or so (and more, dating way back to the Catholic Church banning use of birth control) conservative men in all their misogynistic glory have been acting like one big band of collective dicks. This war on women isn’t all that hard to prove. The constant barrage of legislation against women’s reproductive rights alone is testimony to the jerkwater ways of the GOP.

This war on women has included prohibitions of even teaching about contraception.

  • According to the Guttmacher Report, “Mississippi, which had long mandated abstinence education, adopted provisions that make it more difficult for a school district to include other subjects, such as contraception, in order to offer a more comprehensive curriculum. A district will now need to get specific permission to do so from the state department of education.”

Control issues

It’s pretty clear that what the GOP wants is a female populace that is both ignorant and available according to some strangely repressive notion that a woman in control of her own body cannot be controlled in other ways. This scares the ever living heck out of insecure men. And who among the current list of GOP candidates is speaking out on behalf of women’s rights and reproductive health? (sound of crickets)

The GOP maintains a real hard-on for gaining and exerting control over women. Lurking behind this attitude is the notion that it is somehow “immoral” for a woman to prevent her partner from impregnating her. Yet there are Republican representatives who even insist that an abortion should not be available to women who were raped. This is a sick mind at work, and the sign of someone being a real dick.

A bible lesson

The cruelty of this type of control stems from long-held patriarchal beliefs that women are essentially the property of men. Consider this tale from the book of Esther. The book opens with a scene in which King Xerxes gets a little drunk and decides to show off his bride to his guests. This is what happens.

10 On the seventh day, when King Xerxes was in high spirits from wine, he commanded the seven eunuchs who served him—Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, Abagtha, Zethar and Karkas— 11 to bring before him Queen Vashti, wearing her royal crown, in order to display her beauty to the people and nobles, for she was lovely to look at. 12 But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger.

The incident quickly turns political as King Xerxes, in a fit of fear and panic over his wife’s seeming disobedience, consults with his advisors. This band of men suggests to him that Queen Vashti must be banished as a sign that women must be subservient lest the social order be disrupted. That is political, sexual control in action.

Stuck in the past

And truly, things haven’t changed in more than 2000 years. This ugly battle of control over women has remained at the heart of the social order and persists in America and other countries to this day. Men behaving like total dicks are still trying to get their Queen Vashti’s to fall in line.

But notice that the king was literally drunk with power when he issued is command to the Queen. So let’s ask the question. Would you, as a person, want to comply with the demands of such a patronizing dick? Not likely. Thus Queen Vashti stood her ground and refused to comply with the obnoxious king’s command to show herself off for the court. And rightly so.

Power shaming

How very interesting that in today’s political environment these types of power plays are still taking place. When the Fox News correspondent Megyn Kelly dared to question the king of all pompous dicks, Donald Trump, she was immediately banished from the air. That was her punishment for having the audacity to challenge male dominance on the air. Never mind that it was a debate where people are supposed to answer hard questions.

It is notable that all of Donald Trump’s answers to questions of policy are flaccid attempts at gaining favor with voters. This is a man that has run around erecting tall towers in testament to his business virility. His bankruptcies show his true character however. These amounted to a failure in prowess, and Trump bloviates to obscure all evidence of his failures. He surrounds himself with thinly clad women as a sign that he is the King of All Dicks. But in truth Trump, like so many men fearful of the intellectual and personal power of women is a man running scared in this world.

82993673This attitude can do nothing but pervert the perspectives of a man obsessed with self and personal power. Here’s what Trump said about his own daughter: “I don’t think Ivanka would do that [pose for Playboy], although she does have a very nice figure. I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

That is the statement of a real dick. And when challenged on his sexist presumptions at any level, Trump goes the attack. This is his discourse on Rosie O’Donnell.  “Rosie O’Donnell is disgusting — both inside and out. If you take a look at her, she’s a slob. How does she even get on television? If I were running The View, I’d fire Rosie. I’d look her right in that fat, ugly face of hers and say, “Rosie, you’re fired.” We’re all a little chubby but Rosie’s just worse than most of us. But it’s not the chubbiness — Rosie is a very unattractive person, both inside and out.”

And so it goes.

Evolving societies

Let’s face it, the model for conservative behavior in this world has not evolved from the time of King Xerxes. This combination of fearful response and dismissiveness in the face of intellectual challenges is a pattern that must be broken in order for society to evolve.

We might start by acknowledging that Queen Vashti was right to deny the drunken, lustful commands of King Xerxes, and take that as a model for modern and justifiable behavior. If we have to start from a biblical perspective to get the selfish dicks of the world to understand that our social order has evolved through technology, medicine and social progress, then so be it.

We might also ask the GOP to stop acting like a bunch of dicks. That would help.