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.

 

 

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The true connection between liberal anxiety and conservative fear

It’s a constant debate: Liberals versus conservatives. And it all breaks down to simple beliefs.

This is how the sayings go when it comes to discussing politics in America.

Liberals are anxious about everything. They worry about global warming. Civil rights. And offending someone. God Forbid. 

Conservatives are fearful about everything. Terrorism striking close to home. Living without guns. Being politically correct. God Forbid. 

How fascinating it truly is that liberals worry about the world while conservatives fret that it is out to get them? How can two such similar traits drive people so far apart?

Worry warts

For starters, conservatives seem to believe that most liberal worries are made up. That’s the real nature of anxiety, right? It’s defined as imagining the worst when things are really not all that bad.

Fearmongers

Conservative policies are often not what they seem

In a similar way, liberals consider conservatives obsessive about their fears or prejudices. Conservatives are always bemoaning the decay of society or predicting the end of the world as we know it.

Thus, the two parties circle each other warily and angrily. Both claim they’re right about the other and seek to demean the corresponding anxieties and fears on the Left and the Right.

The End of the World

But there are connections. For example, liberals tend to think that if the world is coming to an end, it will be through environmental means. That’s why global warming is a concern, along with species extinction.

Meanwhile, religious conservatives (and by dint of Big Tent Politics, many other brands of Republican conservatives) tend to depict the end of the world through a theological lens. The coming Apocalypse. Armageddon. The End Times. Left Behind. The Rapture.

The Second Coming

That mindset colloquially embraces the idea of the Second Coming of Jesus and the idea that the Old World in which we now live will be replaced by an entirely better New World that will come about through some sort of heavenly means. Even Muslims believe that’s the fate of the world.

Armageddon

And of course, there is considerable speculation on where all that will start, and whether we should fear the day or bid it welcome news. The general thinking on the topic is that the Middle East will be the site of a great war between the forces of good and evil. For many years it was the Jews that were the potential focus of all this heavenly rage. Lately it appears to be the Muslims, whom many conservative religious thinkers blame for the woes of the world.

Muslim surprise

How ironic it is that the Muslim faith actually looks forward to the coming of Jesus Christ as well. They don’t buy the idea that Christ was ever crucified, but was instead zapped up to heaven by God outside the parameters of the Christian narrative. It’s a little vague of course, as most things in the Quran seem to be in terms of interpretive or predictive value, but this is what the Quran says:  “And there is none of the people of the Book but must believe in Him before his death, and on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness against them.”[Sûrah al-Nisâ’: 159] Allah also says about Jesus in the Qur’ân: “And he shall be a sign of the Hour. Therefore have no doubt about the Hour, but follow Me. That is the straight path.” [Sûrah al-Zukhruf: 61].

Judgement Day

If you stop and think about the fact that conservative Christians and conservative Muslims all look forward to the coming of Christ on the Judgement Day, it’s a pathetic fact that what people are fighting (or quibbling) about is what path this supposed course took in the path and how it will ostensibly transpire in the future.

Owning the narrative

All sides of this argument, including Sunni and Shi’a sects on the Muslim side, as well as Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical and all other forms of conservative Christian faith oas well seem willing to fight to the death over which narrative is chosen to decide how the world will end, and who might survive.  Then we throw in the Jews, who get it from both sides of this great battle, and that pretty much explains fears over the Middle East “situation” in a nutshell. And it’s a fearful, angry, vicious batch of insanity.

And conservatives on every side just love it. Because it allows them to grab hold of all sorts of other controls in life. That includes social and political laws, and fiscal regulations. Everyone is afraid some other sect or religious worldview will get the upper hand.

Political zygotes

ZygoteOf course not all those who abide by conservative philosophy or identify as fiscal or political conservatives share these religious worldviews. But they can no longer escape the association because the conservative alliance initiated in the Falwell/Reagan era. That’s when the religious and economic “revolution” originally fused the language of triumph into a giant political zygote of social, political, religious and fiscal conservatives. Now the product of this marriage has emerged like a freak of nature, and his name is Donald Trump.

Liberals get their freak on

Like the tale of Benjamin Button, in which a man is born old and grows young over time, the Democratic side of freak births produced Bernie Sanders. His ardent gesticulations and socialist contentions have been discomfiting to those who just want a normal, somewhat liberal candidate to run for President. His supporters freak out at the idea of supporting Hillary Clinton if and when the Bern fizzles out. It’s a bit like a backcountry family feud, both ugly and beautiful in its unsophisticated way.

Emotional defense

it is interesting to note that both conservatives and Christians lay claim to the authority of scripture. Conservatives side with the traditions and triumphs of the church while liberals share the heart of scripture and the ministry of tolerance advocated by Jesus. These simple differences may be responsible for the entire liberal versus conservative divide. We only wish these differences could be determined through dialectic, a term described as “a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments.” Instead all we seem to achieve is emotional arguments for one side or the other.

Back to the Future

Some of these debates over conservative versus liberal interpretations of scripture go back to the very formative years of what we now call Christianity. That’s when a Jew named Yeshua (better known as Jesus) debated vigorously with the Pharisees and others over their efforts to turn scripture into law. Jesus chastised the priests and tried to liberate the Jewish faith from its own strictures. But it didn’t really work. So the followers of Jesus started their own gig. And it’s been a Back to the Future movie ever since.

Some Christians never learned the lesson Jesus was trying to convey. They still behave like the priests Jesus tried to change. These are the conservatives of today. They side with political power because it feels like the best way to exact the philosophies of Christianity on the world. This is the Back to the Future plot we are now viewing.

The fortress of belief

Conservatism views the faith as a literal temple, a fortress of belief or a city to be defended or taken over by force if necessary. They Bible is one such fortress, and must be read as if it were a pile of stones placed one upon the other. Take out one stone and the entire structure may fall.

Portable faith

Liberalism takes a more modular view of what faith is about. Its interpretation of the bible is more about its transportable qualities. In that sense, liberalism is more like a nomadic tent community. It can wander the desert and be happy in the company of God. This is more like what Jesus professed. The structure of his ministry and how the disciples came to view the temple of God was centered on the idea that God is with you wherever you go.

Crusades

Now we can understand why conservatives consider the Crusades so important. Their objective to evict Muslims from Jerusalem was based on the belief that God needed (or deserved) a place to live. Tradition demanded that Jerusalem be under Christian guard. The Holy City and the Temple had been there. What more was there to understand?

In this day and age there are supporters of Israel who abide by these same standards. It’s still about the Holy City and the Holy State of Israel. This is called Zionism, “political support for the creation and development of a Jewish homeland in Israel.”

Mess of beliefs

Jerusalem_Dome_of_the_rock_BW_14.JPGIt’s a bit of an archaic notion, and a contradictory one at that, when Christians and Jews align to create and protect an Israeli homeland. The two faith traditions don’t even believe in the same thing. One accepts Jesus. The other does not. Meanwhile Muslims look forward to the return of Jesus while the Jews think the Messiah is yet to appear. It’s all a very confused mess if you really consider it. Yet the Crusades in the Middle East continue to this day and even the most informed people have lost track of what it is all about. The fighting now is about rallying the troops and never losing. Not at any cost.

Feeding worries and fears

The shared tactic of conservatism and liberalism is to consistently expound upon worries or fears about what is surely about to happen.

For conservatives, the list is long. The economy is about to collapse. Society is in moral decay. Terrorism is going to end our Way of Life. The Rapture is right around the corner. These are the go-to themes whenever conservatism fails on some, or many, fronts.

Meanwhile, liberals are busy wringing their hands in anxiety over environmental cataclysm and the collapse of civil rights due to prejudice and authoritarian rule by a select minority.

Beyond being afraid

The fact that both anxieties and fears align with the general belief that things could get far worse before they get better is telling. Isn’t there some way these two belief systems can come to a common ground?

The secret hides in how people on both sides of the philosophical debate define the idea of a “new world.”

For liberals or humanists, that would be world in which people actually collaborate to solve problems. This philosophy was effectively captured in the song Imagine by John Lennon:

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace, you

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world

There’s a lot of Jesus philosophy in that very humanist set of lyrics. But the opening lyrics to the song would be of great offense to those who view the temple of God as real place.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

But if we focus on the idea that Jesus wanted the Kingdom of God to be real here on earth, and that the Bible advocates the idea that a New World will someday be created on earth, there is a great source of convergence going on in those humanist lyrics by John Lennon and the soul of the ministry of Jesus.

That is, God wants us to create this New World for ourselves. In fact, the Second Coming of Christ may be our responsibility to initiate. Not through war and Armageddon, but through love and all the good works of respect and trust and ministry we extend to others.

That is the true convergence of conservative and liberal ideologies. It also assuages worries and removes fears. Because a world where people genuinely care about each other and dispel differences rather than turning them into definitions of “the other” truly is the Kingdom of God.

And that’s the point at which both conservatism and liberalism as social, political, fiscal and religious constructs will cease to be.

How biblical literalism affects politics, culture and the environment

Christopher Cudworth is author of The Genesis Fix: A Repair Manual for Faith in the Modern Age. It centers on how biblical literalism affects politics, culture and the environment. Originally published in 2007, it is being edited for re-release on Amazon.com. 

 

On the real root and purpose of conspiracy theories

 

dick-cheneyThere’s an entire library of YouTube videos about the idea that former Beatle Paul McCartney died in a car wreck in 1966. The theory goes like this: Paul died back then, but a suitable replacement was found, now known as Faul McCartney, who filled in for the dead Beatle the rest of the years.

That means Faul McCartney wrote the Sgt. Pepper album with John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. He created those iconic songs on the White Album too, including a teasing imitation of the Beach Boys in Back In the U.S.S.R.

Then came the album Abbey Road, concluding with a set of signature guitar riffs in which each guitar-slinging Beatle took turns cranking out solos to wind up the record, and the band.

The “last” album Let It Be was a confab of pseudo-live performances in which Paul (or Faul, as the conspiracy goes) and John did not get along so well. There was all that Yoko stuff to resolve. And whether John was happy or not. Then came the breakup, and the band members went separate ways. Paul (or Faul) then wrote one of the most brilliant love songs ever composed in Maybe I’m Amazed. Then came all the Wings material and solo projects. Recordings with Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. So many productive years.

Yes, Paul McCartney turned out some banal tunes as well. At his sappiest, he can be hard to take. But clearly there was genius at work. That mix of show tune sass and happy melodies lines up pretty clearly with the early Beatles stuff. Paul always wrote like Paul McCartney.

Yet the conspiracy theories about Paul’s death persist. All are based on interesting conjecture, and if you slip down the rabbit hole you might find yourself questioning your own beliefs about Paul McCartney. Paul talked about the conspiracies several times during his career.

Man on the moon

There are also conspiracy theories suggesting the Apollo space missions to the moon were faked. And Lord knows there are multiple theories about the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Most recently the theory that the 9/11 attacks were an “inside job” have occupied the attention of many conspiracy theorists. There are also some that claim Israel pulled off the appearance of terrorist attacks. Or that Saudi Arabia actually funded the Saudi men who flew planes into the World Trade Center towers and managed to bury one low and fast into the side of the Pentagon.

Looking back at the origin of conspiracy theories is helpful to understand why some persist and grow. Suspicion of authority and fear of forces beyond knowledge or control of the common man are the principle drivers.

The Kennedy assassination

One can see where such fears arise. When the life of John F. Kennedy came to such an abrupt and violent end, it was proposed that a lone shooter accomplished the deed. That story beggars the imagination because the odds were slim and the evidence suspicious that Kennedy had been shot only from behind. A great many investigators and scholars have looked at the lone gunman theory since, as well as evidence that Kennedy’s body was secreted to an Air Force one plane where doctors performed some sort of half-assed surgery on the back of the President’s head. Normal processes of local jurisdiction over the body were ignored, and medical protocols abandoned. These are no longer conspiracies but bald facts of history. A series of very suspicious events too place that day. Whether we will ever know the source or true sequence of those events is a challenge for the ages.

Personally, I believe there were too many forces angry and determined to end the Kennedy reign for something evil not to happen. That’s not a big stretch of imagination or even a conspiracy theory. Kennedy threatened the CIA and the Mob at the same time. What do you get when you take a stand like that? You get yourself killed, that’s what. There are people in those organizations who don’t look at the world the same way as the rest of us. They rather proudly claim their lack of innocence is the true insight.

The Reagan debacle

One could argue the true conspiracy theorist are not people in the public trying to figure all this stuff out. They are the people who willingly commit illegal acts and try to hide them. Such was the case with the Iran-Contra affair during the administration of Ronald Reagan. Even Reagan seemed ignorant and innocent of the activities of his own staff, who traded arms for money to fund clandestine operations in a foreign country. Those convicted of those acts have gone on to brag about their conspiratorial ways. Some, such as Oliver North, have claimed even a higher purpose than the national interest, crediting God for their actions.

Of course, they are delusional in this regard. But when you turn around and add up the number of leading figures killed over the last six decades, it makes you wonder what’s really going on behind the scenes.

For example: was the killing of Martin Luther King, Jr. just a coincidence of history, or were people afraid of his message behind his assassination? Was Bobby Kennedy just part of the domino effect of that era, or was assassination considered a legitimate way to conduct “national business” by those determined to impose or protect their own worldview?

KKK and company

We can look to the parallel actions of other conspiratorial organizations to determine if such mainstream conspiracies are possible. The actions of the Klu Klux Klan demonstrate the determination of white racists to impose their will on society. That conspiratorial organization got away with multiple murders and many members of society tolerated, even encouraged those actions.

So murderous conspiracies are not only possible. They are common. There was a clear conspiracy by the Bush administration to use the excuse of the 9/11 tragedy to invade Iraq. False links were suggested between the regime of Saddam Hussein and the terrorists reputed to have carried out the attacks in America. America’s so-called intelligence about weapons of mass destruction was exaggerated and even falsified to trump up the cause for war against Iraq. General Colin Powell has publicly admitted that this was the case. But in trying to be a team player, he made the case that America should go to war. He did so because the Bush administration was trying to make the case that threats in the Middle East were sufficient to cause a threat to our overall national security.

Suspicions 

These facts of phonily constructed links between one cause and another have made many Americans suspicious that the events leading up to the Iraq war were suspicious. Many have studied the ups and downs of the terror attacks on 9/11 and contend the 9/11 Commission Report is itself a falsehood in being both massively underfunded and poorly researched.

Even the literal pile of evidence (the tower debris) that would have enabled a close study of possible terrorist activities or bombs set up inside the buildings was carted away before anyone had the ability to inspect the rubble for explosives or other methods that might have made those towers fall to the ground so directly.

Admit it: One cannot look at the video of both towers falling straight down to the ground in free fall fashion, and not consider whether they were set up to be demolished. It happened so quickly and with such clarity the effect was one of calculated demolition.  The structure known at Building 7 was not even struck by a plane on 9/11, and had hardly any structural damage at all. Yet it fell straight down into itself like a child’s play blocks.

There is simply no possible manner in which the entire structure in any of these cases was so completely compromised. Never in the history of the human race has even one steel structure fallen in on itself as a result of building fires. There are numerous records of buildings burning with just as much heat and far longer than the towers ever burned. Yet these buildings still stood tall. Their steel did not melt. They did not fall straight down into themselves. And yet that happened not once, but three times in a row on 9/11. It’s really no longer a conspiracy that something else was going on that day in September, 2001.

And despite the fact that the Pentagon in the United States is the head of our military operations, the only video of the supposed plane crashing into the side of the building is a dodgy security camera clip in which the only object seen striking the Pentagon is a small white streak, and certainly not the size of a commercial aircraft.

Reasons why

All these strange half-truths sit out there, and may have no more credence than the belief that the Apollo mission never landed on the moon. That it was all faked in a studio. But for what reason?

That’s the difference. What reason would there be to fake a moon landing? To outpace the Soviets? They were already kicking our asses in space by then. We know they put satellites up there. We can see the evidence of that activity to this day in our telecommunications system. The Space Race was real. It had real and tangible benefits.

But the rush to war in Iraq was real too. It had real benefits to those who knew how to profit from the events proceeding from the 9/11 attacks. It’s particularly interesting to note that once the war effort was begun, President Bush admitted that he’d lost interest in pursuing Osama bin Laden, the purported architect of 9/11. He even took an opportunity at a press junket to joke about his lack of ability to find weapons of mass destruction. Bush was clearly, at some point, entirely baffled by the conspiratorial joke that his own presidency had become.

The Cheney factor

That is because men like Dick Cheney and the other warhawks in the Bush regime refused to be accountable for any of their actions. The use torture was exposed yet the administration refused to apologize. It made one wonder to what lengths the Bush clan would go to get what they wanted. With Black Sites set up around the world, our government was clearly operating in secret. People died at the hands of American soldiers, and a team of calculatingly cruel psychologists invented protocols to torture our supposed enemies. Never in the history of the United States had this type of behavior become known. Yet here it was in full daylight. And the Bushies were unapologetic.

To make matters worse, human life and our soldiers were clearly disposable pawns in our Middle East adventures. More than 4000 soldiers gave their lives fighting in Iraq. Yet that’s only a few more than the number of civilians who died in the 9/11/2001.

What is the demarcation in lives lost when someone conspires to wars for money and power? Is it a conspiracy to think that some people are so obsessed with power they will let nothing stop them from imposing their will on the world? Have there been other zealots in history that have sacrificed human lives for domination?

A few names come to mind. Josef Stalin. Adolf Hitler. Mussolini. Emperor Showa of Japan. All from World War II of course. All threw millions of military and civilian lives into the maw of murderous history. Even America with its atomic bomb torched thousands of lives in an instant during the nuclear attack on Japan.

Numbers game

So we must not pretend that a few thousand lives were unimaginably destroyed through the events of 9/11. It is no conspiracy to think men and women capable of such things. Not all may be knowing in this conspiracy. That may be the workings of a very few, closely held, upon threat of death, if need be.

And people have died for trying to speak truth to these powers. Many people in fact, over the years. It’s not just one side of the political aisle, or the other. The number of people associated with Lyndon Baines Johson who died in the years leading up to his installation as President indicate the man would let nothing stand in his way of an ascent to power. Who is to say that even LBJ did not have something to do with the death of JFK? There was no love lost there at all. Yet LBJ went on to execute civil rights laws that the Kennedys would surely have approved. And so we are faced with the fact that even conspiracies can lead to good as well as evil.

What the Bible says about the human capacity for conspiracies

If we are to believe in books such as the Bible, it has always been the case that humankind engages in conspiracy. Such was the case with none other than Adam and Eve. And when their conspiracy was discovered, God booted them out of the Garden of Eden. Their lives became more complicated.

Then came Cain and Abel, and the hidden murder of one by the other.

Yet even God loves a conspiracy. This is evidenced by the secret pact he made with  Norah before the flood as well as the conspiratorial end of Sodom and Gomorrah with only Lot and his family surviving.

Even the supposed End of Time is a conspiracy of sorts. Despite so many attempts to predict its coming, the End Times are a mystery to the human race. But not without clues that a conspiracy of sorts is afoot. Consider: Habakkuk 2:3 “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”

Reality shift

When the World Trade Centers fell into themselves that day, all of reality seemed to shift. Some people said it felt like the end of the world was come. But like the Tower of Babel, these were only human structures, symbols of the commerce and arrogance of the world the human race has created.

The question is whether God had something to do with the fall of those stories, and  if it was some sort of eternal signal or indictment of the American Way. Or was it just the product of human beings choosing to play the role of God in arrogant imitation that served to throw the fear of God into people so that they could be manipulated to man’s purpose.

We must consider who could be behind such conspiracies, and if they claim to express the will of God. As reported in The Guardian, Bush indeed believed he was an instrument of God: Mr. Bush revealed the extent of his religious fervour when he met a Palestinian delegation during the Israeli-Palestinian summit at the Egpytian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, four months after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

One of the delegates, Nabil Shaath, who was Palestinian foreign minister at the time, said:

“President Bush said to all of us: ‘I am driven with a mission from God’. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did. And then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’. And I did.”

Mr Bush went on: “And now, again, I feel God’s words coming to me, ‘Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East’. And, by God, I’m gonna do it.”

Mr Bush, who became a born-again Christian at 40, is one of the most overtly religious leaders to occupy the White House, a fact which brings him much support in middle America.”

It appears that in some cases, the real conspiracy is not whether people are capable of committing atrocious acts against their fellow human beings, but whether they are capable of doing them in the name of God. And believing them righteous in the process. That is the greatest, and most dangerous, conspiracy theory of all.

 

 

The April Fool’s joke that really has to end, because it’s no longer funny

masks-happy-sad-copy

Today is April 1st, otherwise known as April Fool’s Day. And while driving around to appointments, I flipped my radio station to an AM station.AM 560 is the Chicago version of Fox News on conservative crack. The host was talking about John Kasich, a candidate for the Republican nominee for President, and going on about how little Kasich actually knows about the Muslim religion. “But even if he doesn’t know a thing, I’ll still vote for him over any Democrat and four more years of downward spiral and Hillary Clinton making nominees for the Supreme Court.”

And I thought, “He can’t be serious. This is like an April Fool’s joke. Exactly where is this supposed “downward spiral” he’s talking about? Employment is down to 5%. In March the economy added 215,000 new jobs. Gasoline is down around $2.00 per gallon. America’s energy future is more secure than it has been in two decades. Yes,

Yes, the health-care “industry” is in flux due to competitive issues between insurers and providers. Republicans blame Obamacare, but that’s a joke too. Rates on insurance premiums rose 12% per year under all eight years of the Bush regime. If anything, the American healthcare scene now resembles the Hockey Stick model of global warming made famous several years ago by Al Gore. Healthcare is overheating not because of Obamacare, but due to the accelerating demands for wide profit margins from three distinct sources; insurance companies, healthcare providers and the pharmaceutical giants who keep jacking prices for everyday drugs and refuse to allow the government any negotiation powers to keep costs under control.

The joke of the claim that Obamacare caused these problems is that healthcare was pointing toward an overheated dynamic long before Obamacare came along. The plain fact is that Republicans ignored these issues all eight years of control under Bush. That’s not a product of insight or even prudence. But it is evidence of denial, and possibly corruption of purpose wrought by political paybacks and campaign support to buy off politicians from doing their job of regulating an overheated industry. Conservatives proceeded on the canon that healthcare economics if left alone would take care of themselves. Or God would step in. And what an April Fools joke that has turned out to be.

Because that’s what conservatives do best. Deny facts. They deny global climate change, and the theory of evolution, and any sort of metaphorical interpretation of the Bible (despite Jesus’ own use of metaphor in his teachings) in order to deny any sort of progressive viewpoint that leads to reformation. That’s true with environmental management, sustainable health care, or cultural equality. The conservative worldview is a pathetic, anachronistic joke.

And for the last eight years Republicans have been complaining that President Barack Obama is ruining the country. Or out to ruin the country. Or thinking about ruining the country. And all the while, the country has been on the rebound from the devastating effects of eight years of Republican “leadership” (denial by force) that spawned two costly wars, allowed terrorists to kill more than 3000 people on American soil, fostered torture, proved its inability to govern or be prepared for national emergencies during Hurricane Katrina, and crashed the economy through tax cuts and an overheated financial and mortgage industry that was “enjoying” a regulatory environment that was far too lax.

Yet the supporters of all that furious mess created by Bush and his conservative henchmen still insist that it is Barack Obama that has “ruined” the country.

So I came to a conclusion today. Modern conservatism nothing more than a protracted April Fool’s prank that has gone on too long. The Republican Party long ago lost sight of what the word “conservative” stands for at all. And let’s be honest: that’s what happens when a prank that really harms someone goes on too long. Then it becomes too difficult to admit you were the perpetrator. Admitting even one shred of responsibility exposes the massive involvement. So Republicans have behaved like a bunch of guilty frat boys who killed the School Mascot Goat by stuffing its front end with too many beers and its back end with too many sexual innuendos. Now they rally around the original concept of Reaganism (the School Mascot) and laugh off the consequences. They seem to have no shame and embarrassment at the pain and transfer of wealth their joke has wrought. “Can’t you take a joke?” they all seem to be saying. “And it’s your fault actually. You’re the one who let us near the goat in the first place.”

At this point it’s quite clear the joke is actually on them. Conservatives are freaking out because the King of April Fool’s is their leading candidate for the Republican nomination. The joke got out of hand quite quickly during this presidential campaign. The man with the orange face and a massive combover should have been an obvious warning that the Republican movement has become a joke. At one point their leading candidate stood up to say, “I could shoot people in the street and people would still keep voting for me.”

Or something like that. He does not truly care what he says. This April Fool does not even appear to believe anything he says. He only talks to generate controversy, then accuse the media of his own foibles. He is a massively painful prank foisted on conservatives, who wondered early on if he was indeed a serious candidate at all, or just a funny prank played by future President Hillary Clinton to destroy the Republican Party.

In any case, it is working. Those other serious jokesters Ted Cruz and John Kasich are the only prankster left on the campaign trail with the orange clown winning the prank race for the nomination. To prove the point this is all a ruse, Cruz even quoted lines from a movie about a liberal president as a means to defend the honor of his own wife, who was accused of being ugly and potentially a slut by the orange candidate whose only goal is to trump the truth with false rumors and underhanded practical jokes.

This is the April Fool’s joke that has to end. The Republican “platform”, cobbled together as it is by from disparate purposes in social, fiscal, political and religious conservatives, is the biggest joke ever perpetrated in the modern era. The four factions cannot possibly be reconciled if a person puts an inch of thought into it. True Christianity theology simply does not abide with laissez-faire capitalism. And social conservatives seeking to control the cultural dialogue are in direct opposition to political conservatives who want less government.

The entire conservative movement is a farce. A practical joke concerned only with power and control of the cultural narrative. And if people continue to support this farce, the joke is on them. April Fools, everyone. Are you one of them?

 

Is it right to hate your political and religious opponents?

Hate: to feel intense or passionate dislike for (someone)

Businessman Matt Bevin Challenges Senate Minority Leader McConnell In Primary ElectionThe word “hate” has come to mean a specific thing these days. “Hate crimes,” for example, are committed with an intent to target a specific person or people for their beliefs or lifestyle. Terrorism is a form of hate crime as well. The world is full of it. Full of hate and vengeance, retribution and revenge toward those we hate.

We’ve all run into hatred in one way or another. Perhaps there has been a person in your life for whom you feel an almost instant hatred. You can’t explain it. You just hate them from the minute they walk in the room.

Sometimes that is behavioral. They say or do things that set off alarm bells in your value system or your sense of protocol. When this happens in the workplace, and that person engenders hate in multiple people, they come to be the enemy. Sometimes they are a co-worker. At other times, the boss.

Then there are people for whom you feel hatred that you can’t really reach. Republicans love to hate Hillary and Bill Clinton, for example. Yet Clinton won the presidency twice, and his wife Hillary is the likely Democratic nominee. They just won’t go away, and Republicans hate that.

Hate from both sides

On the Democratic side, many liberals and Progressives hated on George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. The liberal contention is that the pair did plenty to earn that hatred by going to war on false premises, sponsoring torture and crashing the economy. Republicans have a name for that hatred. They call it Bush Derangement Syndrome. And it’s real.

But when you compare the reasons why Clinton and Bush are hated by their opponents, there is no moral equivalency. Bill Clinton got a blow job in the Oval Office. Bush allowed a terrorist attack to happen on his watch, went to war on false premises and destroyed the economy. Clinton got impeached for lying about the affair. Bush got nothing. Not even a slap on the hand.

So the degrees of hatred segments of people feel for those in political office, and even those running major religions, are based on varying degrees of justification. Surely the disrespect Clinton showed for the White House was not a show of class by any means. Sexual scandals are common in politics, however. If they don’t hurt the flow of government, they are typically are forgiven in some way, unless they persist. Fortunately or unfortunately, that’s how power works and has always worked.

Turtle power

When it comes to power and its use and manipulation, few have been so successful in their hatred toward another politician than Mitch McConnell, the Senior United States Senator from Kentucky and Majority Leader of the Senate. For whatever reasons he has chosen, McConnell hates everything about President Barack Obama. McConnell swore before Obama even took office to make him a one-term president. During seven years in office, Obama has been blocked on many fronts by the efforts of McConnell to prevent anything on the President’s agenda from passing.

Now McConnell has stood forth and sworn to prevent any Supreme Court Justice nominee from even being considered. He’s rallied Senate Republicans around his cause just as he’s used his authority to attempt to stalemate any progress in America over the last seven years.

Success in spite

Yet despite McConnell’s efforts, Obama has been a successful president on numerous fronts. The economy recovered from a massive meltdown during the late term of the Bush presidency. Obama has presided with a steady hand over chaotic world affairs. The nation has not been attacked by any organized efforts at terrorism during his tenure, as it was under Bush. The nation’s gas prices are currently at an average of $1.70 under Obama, the result of progressive, and sometimes unfavorably seen, approvals for gas exploration across the nation.

All the things that Bush swore to do, including not using the military for nation-building, Obama has done. That infuriates the Republican Right. It particularly infuriates Mitch McConnell, who in his fit of pique grossly admits that the Supreme Court has been a partisan tool for legislative action.

That grandly exposes the lie that the Supreme Court is a non-political entity. It has been used to install a President (George W. Bush) and pass a law allowing dark money to flood the world of elections (Citizens United). Justice Antonin Scalia dumped his originalist interpretation on the Second Amendment and turned it into a free-for-all in terms of the right to bear arms, and there are now more guns than people in the United States.

That is the legacy of the conservative Supreme Court. It has only been forced to uphold Obamacare by the fact that it would have been politically inexpedient to prevent millions of people from getting healthcare coverage. The provision in the law that enables people with pre-existing conditions to get health insurance is a clear protection of human rights. To do otherwise would be equivalent to issuing a death sentence to a significant portion of the population.

Actions speak louder

These are not exaggerations. These are the direct product of legislative action by the Supreme Court. And now Mitch McConnell and his fear-driven buddies in Congress all want to prevent President Barack Obama from carrying out his constitutionally prescribed duty to fill the court vacancy caused by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

It is a hateful thing to oppose one’s enemies without reason. But it is a more hateful thing to oppose one’s enemy for the very reason you refuse to admit is true. The clearly partisan hope is that a Republican can win the White House and install another conservative judge. The other source of fear is that the leading Republican candidate, Donald Trump, is not under the control of men like Mitch McConnell. But they know cooperation is possible if enough power is traded along the way.

These are all motivations worthy of hatred toward those who carry out such political chicanery. In the past, and with the murder of President John F. Kennedy still unsolved in the minds of so many Americans, it is worthwhile to consider how much political hatred has afflicted the nation. Going back a bit further, to the time of Lincoln, it was a Republican who took a bullet to the head. All for rescuing the Union, Lincoln was a great man in a time of intense political hate. But at least he got to largely finish his mission, and the gunman John Wilkes Booth failed to reverse the flow of justice in American political history.

Not so with Kennedy. And not quite so with the attempted murder of Obama’s legacy as President by men like Mitch McConnell. There are many kinds of murder in this world, and many kinds of hate. If anyone has earned the hate of Americans who support a balanced, cooperative government that gets things done, it is Mitch McConnell.

 

The Titanic and Moby Dick of conservative politics

I know this fellow who is a recovering alcoholic and seems like a nice guy generally, who assumes I have not listened to Rush Limbaugh, and therefore assumes that’s why I’m “still a liberal.” I’ve taken him down to the woodshed several times but he’s unrepentant. He thinks liberalism is a mistake of the mind. He’s been brainwashed completely. Like Captain Ahab pursuing Moby Dick, he’s got one thing on his mind. The White Whale of the Good Old Days must be pursued.

And the way I see it, but cannot say to him, is that his addictive and fearful personality is what drives his politics. He MUST believe completely in his ideology because that’s his salvation. To give up that quest is to give up his identity.
And besides, there’s too much thinking involved to be liberal. That’s the way back to alcohol. It was his “liberal” side that caused him to drink. And think. Questions: Bad. 12 Steps. Good. Contract For America. Good. Republican Platform. Good. Socialism. Bad. Capitalism. Good. Free Market Capitalism. Is God. Is God? Good.
And it seems to me that’s the way of the Right wing truth vacuum. Liberalism is their “bad” side. And what’s all this about hanging around with the poor and the sinners? That’s the way to destruction.
And Donald Trump is rich. So he must be good. And what he says must be good. Even when it’s bad. Because bad can’t be good! Makes perfect sense!
And that’s how the Donald has gotten so far. And why Cruz and his Blaze.com and Glenn Beck believers are marching forward. And why Rubio, pretty boy who looks a little too pretty for some, but says all those mean things, is the perfect symbol for the conflicted minds of all those hoping for a conservative messiah. He’s Jesus and Hay-Seuss all rolled into one. And that must be perfect timing. For the end of the world is coming, and it’s going to help to have a Latino to row the boat.
But there is no such thing as a conservative messiah, only a liberal Anti-Christ. Michelle Bachmann rose like Lazarus from her political grave to tell us all the end of the world is coming.
And speaking of predictions of a biblical order, we now have Jonah Goldberg (Jewish sounding conservative columnist) the ultimate conservative scion, pointed out the fact that, in his words, not mine, “Conservatism is ‘cracking up.’
Moby-Dick-2.jpgSo this is all playing out according to a strangely predictable plan. If I didn’t know better, I’d call it predestination, or pre-ordination. Take your pick.
 Nice people with all sorts of different conservative values are clinging to the flotsam of the Titanic legacy that was once the Conservative movement. The Republican Party. The GOP. The Tea Party. The Oregon Militia. The Racist South. The Religious Right. The Pro-Lifers. The Libertarian Party. The Koch Brothers. Fox News devotees. Dittoheads. All hanging from the rails and railing about the damage the iceberg of liberalism has inflicted on their once healthy boat.
It is cracking up. Broken in the middle. Taking on water. And the Captains of this disaster are all going down with the ship. There are certifiably mad, White Whale captains like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, each of them throwing harpoons in different directions. Their obsessions with power have consumed their very minds, to the point where each of those harpoons is actually striking some of the people they hope to attract as voters! They’re busy killing their own sailors and blaming liberals for making waves.
It is Moby Dick combined with the sinking of the Titanic. And the deckhands and passengers voting in White Whalefests and waving God Loves Trump banners can’t see it. They can only feel the creaking bulwarks and hear the sound of tearing metal. But to them, it makes sounds like voter fraud and liberals scraping their nails on the sides of the ship. “Stoppp! Don’t listen to them! It’s the sirens!” the religious right screams from above deck. But they are lashed to the masts, crying out for Jesus to save them from the White Whale, who is both their target and their enemy. And yes, that’s an allusion to the persistent racism behind it all. The South is the racist Moby Dick of America. Guns are its Right Winged Titanic. The ocean is awash with the blood of it all. More Americans have died by gun violence on American soil than all the American soldiers in foreign wars, and whites blame black on black crime on the blacks, and proudly claim that responsible gun owners never commit such crimes. And it is all based on lies, and Moby Dick swims free.
And the ship creaks and groans. And conservatives hate their own for rocking the boat.
But look! The conservatives have actually made off with all the longboats! They’ll win Congress again through all the Red State gerrymandering, and we’ll all be cast adrift again because somehow this flotsam crew stays afloat no matter how bad the mother ship flounders because they really don’t know how to sail the thing.

Bad stuff running through the veins of the American Heartland

 

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He claims to be talking about Washington, but in reality, he was talking about the political drug problem in Iowa.

Iowa has failed itself. It needs a 12-step program for its politics.

As the tracks on the arms of all those involved in the Republican Iowa Caucus reveal, there is some bad stuff running through the veins of the American Heartland. Conservatism is like emotional methamphetamines to these people. It charges them up and makes them do and believe crazy things. And Ted Cruz is the leading character in Iowa’s version of Breaking Bad.

Donald Trump tried slipping his rich brand of opiates into the mix. But in the end, even his “I’m Your Hero” brand of heroinism could not satisfy the desires of conservative dope fiends high on bongs of pig shit, religion and hashpipes stuffed with layers of Right Wing ideology. Those are the drugs of choice in some parts of the Midwest, and can make farmers vote Republican even when corporate farming comes back around to steal their tractors, seed, crops and land. But the flow of monetary drugs known as agricultural welfare cannot be denied. And the Democrats are druglords and pushers as well.

Like most drug cultures, one can seldom tell the users from the sellers. They all feed off each other’s habits while denying they have a problem in the first place.

The stench of denialism out in Iowa got so bad this time around, even that religious druglord Mike Huckabee had to pack up his political Airstream and pull out of the presidential race. He’s been holed up at the Jellystone Park of American politics for just over a year now, and the camp fees from Fox News and other Right Wing Rangers were coming due.

But that’s not the real problem for the Huckster. There have been persistent rumblings from his neighbors that the rumblings and shaking come from that trailer were far from Holy Fare.

Some suggested the Devil himself had, by invitation it seems, taken up residence with Huckabee, and it makes sense. It’s quite clear the Huckster has proven willing to sell his soul all along if it will aggrandize him with his perceived church of political believers. His babblings prove the point, for they became so confusing a league of Angels could not sort them out, leading even true believers to consider whether the smoke of the Devils hot language was having hallucinatory effects on the man who can’t seem to sort fact from fiction. “I think people forget that bipartisanship is really the burden of the victor, not the loser,” Huckabee drooled. And that point, his trailer park neighbors slammed his Airstream door shut and sealed it with duct tape. And that seems to be the end of the Hucksters dream of becoming President of the United States.

His last words seem to be both a defense and an indictment of the Winner Take All philosophy that has taken over the conservative movement these days like a man with a coke and a spoon at a Studio 54 party. It’s a bad scene all around, and no one knows if the high strung whine of people with white powder on their noses shrieking about “patriotism” and “liberty” is ever going to end. it is clearly the chorus of the insane, only crazier.

Some of that noise is shrieks of fear. Because like those acts of genocide or ethnic cleansing in the Bible, everyone knows on the Right knows you take no prisoners whether you win or lose. Which means no one can afford to have political witnesses around anymore.

That explains the entire political career of men like Newt Gingrich, who sealed one of his wives into a cancer casket using her own divorce papers. That’s hardball stuff, and not every brain can take that level of stimulation and survive. But Gingrich rose again like a specte the last election cycle, and Right Wingers recognized his special brand of crazy right off. But alas for comedians and Democrats, even Gingrich could not hide the bulging veins in his political forehead, and he was cast into the opium den of irrelevance. At last.

These are the ways of the Breaking Bad men that have been running the Republican Party. Even Ronald Reagan had to deal with his rank of Right Wing Addicts in the end. They obfuscated with a trunk full of his money to deal in the arms trade with Iran to shunt money off to the Contras down South. This business of war is always ugly, and drugs often fuel the fun stuff done by mercenaries in the name of God. The only reason Ronnie Reagan himself didn’t get thrown in jail is that he was already too senile or drug-addled to realize what he’d allowed to be done in his own name. No one could bring themselves to blame Grandfather Ron for all that. Well, perhaps his own son. But that’s a different story for another day.

dennis-hastertBut speaking of Father Figures. We should recall the recent revelations about the once honorable Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the House. It turns out The Coach had a sordid history of fondling boys and paying them to keep quiet. But when that bit of conservatively concealed chicanery came to light, it ruined the man’s reputation and his net worth. Drugs of choice (be they of substance or appetite) from the wrong side of the tracks will do that to a person. At first, there’s a power rush. Then comes the crash.

Which also explains the firey hulks of Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina, who by now are likely stuffed into smelly car trunks like burnt mummies by those political drug lords Reince Priebus and Karl “The Rover” Rove. It doesn’t pay to cross men with names like Reince or nicknames like Turdblossom. That’s always going to wind up in bad places.

Those petulant rubes Jeb and Carly have come off angry and joyous as Saturday night drunks stumbling out of the Happy Joes Pizza joint in Newton, Iowa. But then they kicked in the car door of the local sheriff, and spit on the Mayor’s wife while calling her a slut. Things got ugly fast, and muffled words were exchanged. Their campaigns are either over or owned entirely by the Syndicate as a result of their sputtering antics. Ever since Monday night they have been stuck in the back end of locked up sedans behind the Ace Hardware. They’ve both been trying to kick their way out of the trunk, whimpering for help from God, or at least some kid with a screwdriver. That’s the kind of thing that happens to traitorous mob flunkies and failed Republican candidates. The fact that they can hear each other screaming only makes it all worse. The first one out of the trunk will claim to be the victor. Because that’s what politicians do. Kick the person on the rung below you. And no excuses.

CQVsQ1bUEAAecjrThen there are those political personalities that just won’t go away, no matter what you do, or how high on their own expectations they get. Because who knows what Ben Carson’s been smoking out there in the Iowa cornfields. From Day One, the gentleman has contradicted himself like some drunken uncle at a Thanksgiving feast. “Even if you’re Bill Gates, you’ve got problems,” Carson blurted last year. “I’m sure he would probably easily give a few billion dollars to get rid of all the problems that he has.”

And then there’s this brain-addled Carson gem: “And I’ve always said, ‘If two people think the same thing about everything, one of them isn’t necessary.’ We need to be able to understand that if we’re going to make real progress.”

Which proves that listening to Ben Carson is really like listening to Adolf Hitler on crack. Carson even said this about the United States military, which is bigger by far than the next 7-8 countries of the world combined: “What we have to stop and think about is that we have weakened ourselves militarily to such an extent that it affects all of our military policies.” Ben, go back to whatever political substance you’ve been smoking and drinking and leave us alone. We don’t care. You don’t matter. And we don’t need your brand of narcotic falsehoods running through our veins.

Ben, go back to whatever political substance you’ve been smoking and drinking and leave us the hell alone. We don’t care about you. You don’t matter. You don’t even believe in science and you’re a brain surgeon! And we don’t need your brand of narcotic falsehoods and conservative banalities running through our veins. They are poison.

Paul-RanBut while we’re at it, let us consider (and then ignore) the barbituate level rantings of Rand Paul, a Libertarian candidate who claims to speak for the intellectual side of America, but keeps fumbling over his own thoughts. “I have a question, a question for the president: Do you hate all rich people, or just rich people who don’t contribute to your campaign? Do you hate poor people or do you just hate poor people with jobs?

That is Rand Paul trying to sound cogent and sober. Instead his red tie looks like the thermometer for his overheated brain. Barbituates will do that, especially those of the contrarian type favored by Libertarians, where the best form of government is no government at all. Have some weed, Rand. You need it.

The rest of the Republican dope fiends are not worth mentioning, except their stories are so amusingly narcissistic they cannot help be told. They all follow in the footsteps of men such as Ulysses S. Grant, a man who drank himself to both military and political success.

Indeed, the Republican debates have been like listening to a pack of drunk farmers standing at a dive bar in some sad little town out past Ames, Iowa. They all drink and shout until they can actually stand the idea of going home to their equally angry wives. Each man claims he has the better tractor, and then they wind up making jokes about how Chris Christie’s farm implements all have flat tires because he’s so fat.

We can easily imagine the muttered joke about how Carly was rumored to be fornicating with a pig. That was a Trump special, grant you. He excels at his own brand of Down On the Farm humor. It absolutely frightens Republicans that Trump might be City Slicker dressed up in Salt of the Earth clothes, but if the Iowa Caucus process is any indication, Trump is the one who has apparently screwed the pooch one too many times. Even Republicans get angry when the family dog is butt hurt and whining.

The conservative belief system all comes down to singularity. We all know that even the worst drunks in the world can drive a car pretty well because when they get enough practice at it. If a few people die along the way, so be it. The ends justifies the means. Teddy Kennedy taught them that lesson, and the Right has learned it all too well.

But where Kennedy was selling the political drugs of family legacy and populism, the political drug of choice for Republicans is authoritarianism. And it works like a charm. Just like an overdose of Ritalin, an ADD drug designed to hype you up so bad it actually calms you down, mainlining authoritarian works by getting people to go along with whatever you tell them to think. One might argue the same thing for Oxycontin, Rush Limbaugh’s favorite chemical for many years. His drug abuse was easily forgiven and forgotten by his dittohead listeners because it was mainlined with an arrogance and authoritarianism that made it look like Rush had no drug problem at all. He was rich and had a big mouth. Thats was all that counted, or ever counts, and that’s why Limbaugh likely hates Trump. Who stole his act.

And then Ted Cruz stole Trump’s act as well. And Marco Rubio is next in line. Authoritarianism is the stuff Republicans have been selling on the street corners of Iowa towns and they are about to unleash it on the nation as a whole.

Politicals sites like The Blaze have been dealing the same thick substanc and its boutique drug is Glenn Beck, who was so high on himself even Fox News had to kick him out of the Conservative Drug Club. Now Cruz and The Blaze are hoping that this newest batch of authoritarian dopamines and the low information needles necessary to inject it will serve like crack cocaine in the veins of conservatives everywhere.

That’s what was running through the veins of conservatives in the American Heartland last night. It’s a sad sight, but like any relative given over to addiction, we can hope some country doctor kicks some sense into them. That’s how it’s always worked out in the Heartland, where drugs are often as common as Communion wafers, and just as deadly.

Jonah Goldberg is correct, conservatism has dug itself a big hole

SinkholeMuch to my surprise, I opened the Chicago Tribune today to find what amounts to a confessional column by conservative stalwart Jonah Goldberg. It starts like this:

“I’ve been hearing about the impending “conservative crackup” for nearly 25 years. The term was coined by R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr., the founder of the American Spectator. He meant that conservatism had lost its philosophical coherence. But the phrase almost instantly became a catchall for any prediction of the right’s imminent demise or dissolution.”

What he really means to say, but hasn’t the actual courage to admit, is that conservatism was a falsehood from the beginning of its “revolution.” That would be the attempt, since the Reagan years, to cobble together a band of dissolute believers into some sort of conservative whole. But true Christianity never really had much to do with fiscal conservatism, and the pro-gun capitalists have never really squared intentions with the anti-abortion socialists. It’s true. Conservatism ultimately sinks under the weight of its own contradictions.

That was always the problem. That conservative whole rapidly turned into a conservative hole, as in, “we keep digging a bigger one.” The entire political philosophy of the movement has been to dig a hole under government in hopes that it will sink below the surface, never to be seen again.

Reagan even proudly stated that government was not the solution, it was the problem. How anyone can say that and continue to serve as President of the United States proves that he 1) has a hole in his head 2) lacks conscience and 3) has a cognitive dissonance in his political philosophy. You simply can’t head up a government and claim it is the main problem. That’s impossible to do. With any sort of true logic, anyway.

But conservatism is not about logic. It is about ideology. And to a major extent, the hole-digging philosophy has worked wonders in taking our nation and government down a rabbit hole.

The rabbit hole is always about money. Conservatives have tried repeatedly to cut taxes. With each new wave of tax cuts, the nation has gone further into the hole.

Conservatives have even purposefully shut down the government. That threw our country into the hole with nations around the world. All that accomplishes was to sink the nation’s credit rating.

In fact everything conservatives have tried to “fix” in America has sunk its standing here at home and around the world.

The most recent Bush years resorted again to tax cuts and like Reagan, bloated military spending. That resulted in an economy running on fumes and led to a crash that was a grand imitation of the Great Depression (get the joke? A Depression is a hole.)

This time the hole created by big banks had to be filled with public money just to keep America afloat in the cesspool of speculative losses and the brain dead activities of The Fed.

But it seems that no matter how much America’s economy is sputtering there is somehow always money to buy guns, ships, bombs and jet planes. It seems the only answers conservative have to social and economic failures is to spend more money on the military. Conservatives consider the military America’s backbone, but  along with the auto industry, the Bush years essentially required bailouts for both.

But conservatives aren’t all failures. Let’s not forget the thriving porn, gambling and fantasy league industries. And while we’re at it, don’t neglect the success of the sex trade and human trafficking, which experiences hard spikes whenever there’s a Republican convention in town.

Perhaps it’s no wonder that even America’s leading conservative spokesperson, Rush Limbaugh, is having his doubts about the future of conservatism (itself an oxymoron.)

The four-time divorced, prescription-medicine-addicted Limbaugh has never done a single positive thing for the nation. Yet somehow he remains a voice for conservative interests because he’s angry, impatient and selfish. That’s the calling card of any respected conservative. But right now, even Limbaugh is confused and disgusted by the present state of conservatism in America.

Jonah Goldberg quotes Limbaugh this way: “Forget the name is Trump. If a candidate could ‘guarantee to’ fix everything that’s wrong in this country the way the Republican Party thinks it’s wrong, if it were a slam dunk, if it were guaranteed, that candidate will still be opposed by the Republican Party establishment. … If he’s not part of the clique, they don’t want him in there.”

And that, my friends, is because conservatism is a longstanding failure. Anyone who seems like a threat to show up the “establishment” is deemed a danger. This is especially true for a man like Trump, whose racist, misogynist, xenophobic rants sound all too much like what most Republicans generally keep secret and only repeat in the back rooms of posh hotels or speaking engagements featuring Mitt Romney or Oliver North. That’s how the “establishment,” as it were, is accustomed to conducting business.

Now that their methods and ideology have been exposed, the hole they’ve dug is looking uglier than ever. It’s much harder to shovel people into their economic and social graves when they can see clearly what’s coming. Trump has revealed what’s in store on the Republican highway. It’s a sinkhole of angry prejudice and ego. Even his supporters aren’t sure he won’t shove them in with the rest of the stinking masses.

In other words, conservatism is digging a deep and terminal highway to hell. We should never forget that Ronald Reagan, the conservative scion who started all this hole-digging, had one of the most corrupt administrations in the modern era. His Iran-Contra affair should have resulted in impeachment. Instead, he walked while his minions took the fall. America forgave the Old Man his transgressions because it seemed impossible he wanted to hurt anyone.

Mick Jagger and the Stones tried to warn us about falling for the sweet words of men like Ronald Reagan. People who seem like heroes often turn out to be the greatest offenders of all. This verse from Sympathy for the Devil seems rife with predictive merits about how the world is working these days.

Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
‘Cause I’m in need of some restraint

Yes, conservatives have long pointed to Reagan as their hero. But he was the devil in disguise. Conservatives have long refused to recognize that Ronnie the Saint dug a deep budget hole of his own through tax cuts and military spending.

Then along came the Bush family, a pack of smiling devils if there ever was one, and picked up where Reagan left off. At least Bush Sr. (Read My Lips, No New Taxes) showed some restraint by not entering Bagdad with the American army. He recognized that the Saddam Hussein was a devil with a purpose. So we walked away from that hellhole the first time.

But conservatives and the Bush family couldn’t restrain its crazed fury the second time around. Georgie (that smiling devil) unleashed eight years of conservative chaos at home and abroad. It started with a stolen election. That was followed by the 9/11 tragedy. Then a mess of a hurricane called Katrina along with an Iraq war of choice that cost America trillions of dollars. The ugliness of that scene also led to approval of torture and war profiteering on scales never before attempted. Yet Cheney succeeded in shoveling billions into the maw of Halliburton and other hellborne partnerships.

Like the American devils we are, we went to Iraq on false pretenses, and 4000 soldiers died. Many more were wounded. But perhaps that was somehow a precursor for the economic crash that followed, and millions of people lost their jobs and life savings. The hole dug by conservative ventures threatened to swallow American whole.

Yes, the conservative crackup is finally here. It is long overdue and well-deserved. Some of us have also long tried to expose the hole-digging habits of men like Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Dennis Hastert (now indicted for hiding sexual abuse and making illegal payoffs) as well as Newt Gingrich and the entire racist, gun-toting cabal that conservatism embraces. These forces of evil have undermined the very foundations of our country.

So thank you, Jonah Goldberg, for finally admitting what those of us who follow conservative politics have known all along. The conservative cause is a black hole of empty suits and people who lack the conscience to ever do the right thing. Ever.

And of course, now they have Donald Trump to blame for exposing the decaying foundations of conservatism as a movement. He’s a man of absolutely zero conscience, or perhaps less.

As Goldberg states: “There’s no shortage of reasons for why the right is at war over whether or not to take a flier on Trump. All of the various establishments and the counter-establishments overpromised and underdelivered in recent years. Congressional leaders talked a big game while campaigning but played small ball once re-elected. Cruz and his supporters accused his fellow politicians of being corrupt sellouts, and so many people believed him, they’d now rather take a gamble on Trump than back Cruz, a mere politician. Tomorrow seems closer than ever before.”

Goldberg’s lament is long overdue. But these are sad, difficult days. The hole dug by Republicans is now a permanent fixture of the American landscape. We’re all staring into the abyss together. Yet all Republicans can think to say is, “This must be your fault. We don’t know really how to dig holes.” They regard their own actions as bastard sons to be disowned and foisted on the public where profits are privatized and the losses are socialized. Then they call us the suckers for believing in the power of socialism to fix public ills.

Fearful conservatives are afraid that men like Bernie Sanders will try to fill the hole they created with public funds and tax money. Sanders (and Democrats in general, to some degree) actually want to require American corporations to stop burying money in the backyard with offshore accounts. President Obama has his chums on Wall Street, but he’s done a decent job of at least ushering America away from a perilous edge of conservative holiness, which is in truth is unholiness. But we still need to figure out how to fill this moral, social and economic vacuum created by conservative credulity.

And God Forbid we should actually try to level the playing field for the middle class. Conservatives call that “transfer of wealth” when in fact the most massive transfer of wealth in history has occurred right before our eyes, from middle class to the superwealthy. As a direct result, Americans have been falling into a financial hole by  running up credit card debt while making something like 50 cents on the dollar compared to comparable worth of earnings 40 or 50 years ago.

Perhaps the best thing we can do with the Republican whole is to herd the lot of them to the edge and drive them over it with a bulldozer. Let their bloated political bodies (starting with Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, to name a few) serve as ballast until America can decide how to repair its crumbling infrastructure and bury the rotting timbers of the Republican platform.

It’s time to say good riddance to the likes of Jonah Goldberg (and his National Review, the worst rag on the earth) along with Charles Krauthamer and his shrill counterpart, Ann Coulter. We should have no sympathy for these devils, the people that have cheerleaded Republican thievery for decades. Yes, Democrats mess things up too, but usually by mistake, or by overeager hearts. By contrast, the soulless theft by Republicans is calculated, cruel and merciless. That makes for a much more abrupt and even brand of hole, not the gradual kind you get from erosion, or a flood of overeager hopes.

The only near term salvation may be that the hole dug by Republicans might temporarily reach all the way to hell. We can be sure a few of them will be welcome guests for what they’ve said and done to this nation.

 

 

Who is really keeping us safe?

“If you’re not a liberal at twenty, you have no heart, and if you’re not a conservative by the time you are forty, you have no brain.” –Winston Churchill

Winston ChurchillYears ago I read a massive two-volume biography of Winston Churchill. It was with great disappointment that I learned that the author of those first two books had died. The third would have covered the period including World War II, and that would have been fascinating to study the actions and philosophies of the man that ushered Great Britain through the war.

Yet even with Churchill, his strong points as a war leader turned out to be challenges of a sort in the political realm. He was initially defeated for the role of Prime Minister after the war, yet returned to that role again before suffering physical and mental decline that may have resulted from strokes and heart issues.

A wealth of protectors

While obviously a man to admire, Winston Churchill’s determination that conservatism was the ultimate form of philosophical sophistication may have been formed more from his upbringing in a wealthy English family than his own evolution as a military man and spokesman. He was great at both those things, but there is an abiding factor to how these were developed and sustained that made it possible for Churchill to think like a conservative at all.

That factor was the presence and alliance of both the United States and the Soviet Union in World War II. Without that partnership, Great Britain would have been sunk under the pressures of Germany to take over much of Europe.

It was the liberal support of America’s Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt and the hard right determination of Joseph Stalin that fought back Germany’s considerable will to conquer and subjugate. That enabled Churchill to essentially occupy an important middle ground from which he could flexibly consider and pursue his necessary options. That is conservative in the good sense of the word, in being considerate.

Modern times

Fast forward to the current world perspective in which we live. America’s President Barack Obama has behaved as a noted centrist on the world stage. And like Churchill, there have been wins and losses, risks and seeming triumphs associated with that centrist position. Obama has been the considerate if quietly brusque leader, not prone to launch off new wars, yet capable of effecting deadly drone strikes that many people protest as cruel and miscalculated.

Such are the risks of all world leaders. The apparently noble fight of America, Britain and the Soviets against the Germans, Italians and Japanese Axis was full of death and destruction. And while Germany clearly committed war crimes, the rest of the fighters were not a group of innocents. America ultimately dropped a massive nuclear weapon on Japan’s big cities, killing thousands of civilians in the process.

During the leadup to that event, America engaged in some rather heinous efforts to protect itself, ushering many of its own citizens of Japanese descent into camps. The object at the time was to “keep us safe” from perceived threats because Japan itself was such a threat.

Fear and strange decisions

Fear drives all kind of strange decisions in this world. And while some of our fears are very real, the collective anxiety of a culture can often be extremely misguided.

Such is the case wth current concerns over America’s possible acceptance of Syrian refugees. While France opens its borders willingly to Syrian refugees even on the heels of the terrorist attacks on its own soil, America’s arch-conservative population wants to ban them from entry into the country. All of this is based on the idea that terrorists will somehow disguise themselves as refugees and come to this country to kill Americans.

Raging debates

Having engaged in considerable political debate with a number of anxious conservatives on social media, a few simple things have emerged in the argument. 1) They don’t trust Obama or the government 2) They don’t trust the government or Obama 3) They really don’t trust either Obama or the government. That’s the substance of their arguments.

In the process of defending those arguments they also engage in considerable name-calling while simultaneously denying that the Bush administration or any conservative before him had anything to do with creating the terrorist problem in the Middle East. We all know that started with the Reagan administration, was fostered by the Bush relationships with the Saudis, and carried on with the patsy treatment of the bin Laden family right through the 9/11 terrorist attacks when our first priority was flying remnants of that family out of the United States when all other flights were suddenly banned. Conservatives also created the Saddam Hussein we overthrew, and set up the Shah of Iran that led to that country being so pissed off at the Western World.

Yet somehow it’s all Obama’s fault that we have problems in the Middle East.

Brotherly love 

Of course, Jeb Bush, the equally inept brother of George W. Bush, is now running for President of the United States. And like any conservative worth his radical salt he has publicly claimed that his brother “kept us safe.”

So for the sake of analysis, we should examine what he might mean by that statement. The expectations of conservatives about what “keeps us safe” clearly breaks down into categories that were demonstrated by the Bush administration’s actions in the Middle East. And we’ll get to those in a minute.

But first we must admit there was little resistance by the Democratic Left to any of Bush’s policies overseas. That was a sick and sad chapter in our political history as well. Either by choice or by fear, the Left stood down under considerable pressure from conservative dominance of all three branches of government. That included the power of the Presidency, a willing Congress and Senate and even the Supreme Court that handed Bush surveillance powers that broke every rule in the Constitution about personal privacy.

So Bush and Cheney were given free license to engage in a series of cynical acts of aggression designed, in their minds, to “keep us safe” from terrorism. These included:

  1. Bomb first, ask no questions later. When faced with threats, conservatives love to bomb things because it makes them feel as if they are taking action against that threat. Of course, civilian casualties resulting from those bombings inflamed hatred for the United States as innocents perished. But that’s the apparent price of thoughtless war. “Collateral damage” they call it. The ultimate euphemism of course. Conservatives bomb, and then move on without a second thought about what the real effects of such bombings could be in terms of perception among enemies or friends.
  2. Torture is acceptable. Arguments in favor of torturing Iraqis and potential terrorist focused on the fact that such tactics were necessary to extract information that could “keep America safe.” That connection between information and actionable intelligence really never happened in any substantial way. And yet the apparent thought that our supposed enemies were being tortured made a certain segment of our society feel happy because we were “doing something” about terrorism. Never mind that many of the people we tortured and even killed through torture and mistreatment were in fact completely innocent.
  3. Spying on your own people is desirable. How ironic it is that the political force in America that claims to hate government most and wants to reduce its influence in our lives should choose to open a surveillance program that brought government into the very conversations we all hold over our telephones and cell phones. It seems a common phenomenon that the things conservatives most hate in others they ultimately become themselves. It happens on the social front when people who claim to stand for family values turn out to be serial wife cheaters or sexual predators. This repression haunts the conservative party like a ghost of unvirtuous fact.
  4. Always blame the other side. For all these insane actions and remorseless activities, conservatives have developed denial of responsibility for the evil outcomes into a very fine art. The virtual memo that says “never admit you were wrong” has been hard-wired into the consciousness of political, military and civilian conservatives. In fact, it is perhaps the greatest social conspiracy ever contrived as a political strategy. Its level of secrecy is protected by a devotion to denial and an entire lack of accountability. It is thus quite  breathtaking in its scope and effect on civil discourse. Its main mouthpiece, of course, is Fox News, whose claims of being “fair and balanced” as a “news organization” are the absolute expression of the virtue of lying with a smile on your face and putting tits above the fold as a distraction of the very audience you intend to recruit.

There’s a reason for all this aggression, repression and secession going on within the conservative cult in America. Only when a conservative breaks completely free of the party entirely, which means they can never go back, do we hear an ounce of truth and admission about what really goes on behind the scenes. The recent inadvertent confession of a certain Congressman on the real reasons for the Benghazi investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are just one such example of politically motivated use of government to harangue and discredit anyone that dares resist the conservative cartel in America.

It goes back a ways

John_F_KennedyResistance to this secret society of Conservatism with a Capital A (and its apparent arm, the CIA) is what got President Kennedy killed back in the 1960s. So the phenomena of killing threats to the cabal is not new.Kennedy was no saint, that’s for sure. But what he also represented as a political liberalism that some perceived as a threat to the security of America. But again, the considerations shown by John F. Kennedy in negotiations with the Soviets in the Cuba Missile Crisis are likely what prevented nuclear war. In other words, his small “c” conservatism kept us safe, just like Winston Churchill’s small “c” conservatism helped guide the Allies through World War II. It is this conservatism to which I believe Winston Churchill is referring in the quote above this column.

But it keeps happening that large “C” Conservatism is trying to kill its perceived enemies. And true to form, the conservative cabal went after Bill Clinton over engagement in a harmless blow job. The ensuing scandal turned into a political spectacle that distracted from Clinton’s ability to do his job, and keep us safe.

At that time, Clinton wanted to take action against bin Laden and potential terrorists in the Middle East, but was discouraged from doing so because it would appear he was attempting to “wag the dog” and escape accusations and impeachment over his extramarital affair. We seriously need to ask what would have kept us more safe in that scenario, the Starr Report or actually paying attention to real threats to our security. Capital A Conservatives clearly chose the former over the latter. America has paid the price ever since for this selfish, politically motivated debacle.

Fear, loathing and power

Paul Ryan

New House Speaker Paul Ryan

So you see, the goal of conservatism is never really to keep us safe. It is to gain and keep power, and that is all. Conservatives use fear to accomplish that mission all the time. That is why the call to war is so strong among them. War creates a deep tide fear in the populace, accentuated by methods such as “terror alerts” that the Bush administration turned on and off as needed to sway political will and push the perception of power in their direction. These are all tricks to get people to fall in line. Authoritarian thinkers on both the proactive and responsive side love these methods because it gives them a sense of control in otherwise chaotic circumstances. Of course it is all a ruse, but that does not matter.

FlagWaiverIndeed, Conservatives with a capital “C” want Americans to behave like Pavlov’s dogs in response to the call for war and acceptance of violence as status quo. They wave flags as patriots in fear until the very meaning of the flag is all worn out. Our flag has come to represent a national attitude of fear and a worn out ideology as a result.

Witness the marketing methods of the NRA, which flouts fear about race and crime as reasons to arm American on claims that more guns will “keep us safe.” Again, these are lies of massive proportions. More Americans have died from gun violence on American soil that all the soldiers ever killed in foreign wars. This is not “keeping us safe.”

Money kills

 

In the end, the sad thing about all this fear and terror and power is that it is all about money. Conservatives simply love money and all that it gives them. That’s why so many conservative whine about high tax rates and complain about giving their dollars through any social programs that might help the poor or elderly. This is the brand of conservatism that has evolved in America; selfishness as a life philosophy. It stands in direct opposition to the Christian call for charity and even giving away all you have to serve God and Christ. But modern conservatives (oxymoron intended) ignore all that real Christian stuff. That part is old-fashioned to them.

And we must return to the fact that top level Conservatives have always liked war because it enriches them. Former Vice President Dick Cheney used the Iraq War to increase the value of companies like Halliburton in which he has long held financial interests. The snarling visage of the man who almost singlehandedly leveraged America’s fortunes into his own while ruining our reputation overseas is like the Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge, who without ever having gone through the happy change that made him into an advocate for the Christmas Spirit acts instead like the Grinch Who Stole America.

No Churchill

dick-cheneyCheney was no Churchill, let’s all agree on that. He seems to have envisioned himself that way, but where he falls short is in the ability to recognize the advantage of being a smart conservative with a small “c.” That is one who knows that conservatism actually involves consideration. Cheney appears to have none of that capacity, and as a result his version of “keeping us safe” turned the Middle East into a morass of angry terrorist hornets hoping to break free and sting the invader of their nest.

So let’s stop pretending that stirring up the hornet’s nest in the Middle East with bombings, torture and boots on the ground is a conservative strategy at all. It is not a conservative strategy, and it does not keep us safe.

And as for hornet’s back home, we’ve already got a system in place to detect their angry buzz. Typically they can’t keep quiet. Not if we open our eyes and ears and pay attention. And let’s not ignore those clear warnings this time, as Bush did back when he and Cheney were plotting to take over the entire Middle East to steal the oil and get some archly conservative kicks. That was stupid. And we’re getting stung as a result.

The only thing that isn’t fake

Somehow I stumbled on this propagandistic video about Dr. Ben Carson, a Republican candidate for President of the United States. I found the video stunningly obvious in its structure and production values. Then when I looked at the comments, they all seemed manufactured. And as you’ll see if you visit the comments section, I asked the people who commented if they were fake.

Turns out they’re real people. Sort of. Which surprised me a little. But the nature of their comments and the banal, surface level responses to the video still strike me as very fake. In other words, I have my suspicions whether these particular self-described  “millennials” are “real” in the sense that they are not paid for their comments on the video.

Listen, public relations in the video age is a highly crafted art designed to sway public opinion. But the one thing that isn’t fake in this video is how patently disconnected from reality Dr. Ben Carson truly seems. Now understand, I voted for Barack Obama twice, and I am proud of both of those votes. So this is not some hidden racial meme or dog whistle call to sink the lone black candidate on the Republican side.

Personally I’d love to see a conservative black candidate succeed. If someone in America can proceed with an agenda that delivers on ways to acknowledge and value the contributions of black Americans to society, I’m all for it.

Basic coherence

But Ben Carson is not the guy I’d like to see running our country. That’s a disturbing thought. His inability to proceed on any subject with consistency or even basic coherence is a problem. His mental health has even been raised as an issue.

Right away, Internet resistance was raised against the idea of calling Dr. Ben Carson mentally ill. This was one of the points of contention: “There is nothing, I repeat nothing, that rises to the level of evidence of a diagnosable behavioral pathology cited by Palmer. And yet, the piece plays into the all too readily accepted narrative that any person with whom we disagree on a vitally important issue must be a flawed, damaged, and ethically compromised human being.”

Get help

Here’s the difficult part in all this. For people experiencing the effects of mental illness, the most important thing anyone can do is to help them get help.

Many years ago a friend and runner from another community near my hometown was experiencing the first stages of a mental illness that would come to dominate his life. He showed up at our school with a bag of bread and tracked me down in the hallway. “I’m feeding the foxes on the bridge,” he told me. The foxes on the bridge were made of bronze.

Later this fellow went on to become an individual All-American runner. But he did so by engaging in some extreme behavior, training up to 250 miles per week as preparation for racing just 5 miles in cross country competitions. One could make a compelling observation that to this young man, the only thing that didn’t seem fake in his world was his running. Because after college his mental illness took on a different form, making it difficult for him to function in work and other activities. He did get help but as his mental illness progressed, even medications could not harness some of the delusional qualities manufactured by his brain. But the fact that he got help was the most important aspect of his particular journey. Without that, he likely could have harmed himself or others.

Because I had another running friend that tried to take his own life. And we all know that with accessibility to guns, people in that mental condition can certainly harm others.

And so can politicians whose mental state gravitates to extremes.

Loving the extremes

I think there’s a compelling case to make that for some people, politics is both their sport and their passion. And just like my friend with mental illness who ran 250 miles a week just to compete in a five-mile race, there are people with a propensity to go to extremes in an effort to make their point, and create a reality in which they feel more alive.

In fact I’ll argue there are many people in politics who think their extreme views are the only thing that feels real in this world. That’s how we’ve gotten the long list of extremists running for the Republican nomination. And there’s little doubt that on some days, men like Donald Trump talk and act a little insane.

We also know there have been plenty of zealous religious believers whose obsession with the end of the world has led to manic predictions and even death rituals. Entire cultures get caught up in these visions, as much of the world did with the y2K obsession.

Making it real

scary-romney_debate_angryThere are high-level officials here in America whose obsession with a Zionist vision of Israel have made them hunger for war in the Middle East, and Armageddon, which might bring on the apocalypse. So there is both inherent and operative insanity at work in this world.

Sometimes, and to some people, the only thing that isn’t fake is either that reality is out to get them or there is an opportunity through politics to create a reality that suits their particular brand of economic or cultural prejudice. That explains the KKK, the Third Reich and the threat we call ISIS in a nutshell. These are people pissed off to the point of world domination. And they’re everywhere.

Haters and baiters

We see people who hate the rich and we find people who despise the poor. We see people who fear for the climate because of human activity and we see people who think that no one but God can alter a single thing about the world.

It’s the longtime struggle between the willingness to change and the fear that change will ruin everything. The very state of the human condition is one of madness in dealing with his dichotomy. When people say things like, “The world has gotten crazy,” this is what they’re talking about.

And when we selectively view politicians such as Dr. Ben Carson or Bernie Sanders, we see them through very different eyes as a result. Both are obviously passionate people. Both are struggling to change the status quo. There are people who call both of them crazy. And there are people who take the bait.

Hard-liners

Businessman Matt Bevin Challenges Senate Minority Leader McConnell In Primary ElectionExtremism is a byproduct of trying to make sense of this dichotomy. People simply choose sides and gravitate to the far ends of the spectrum. Standing somewhere between the will to change and fear of change is known as being a moderate. But those voices can barely be heard over the screams of the extremes.

Perhaps more commonly, people choose candidates who represent their views or fears, and somehow Dr. Ben Carson has attracted a fair number of followers. But what creeps me out about the guy is not his potential mental illness. It is crazy ideological statements such as this: “No body with bullet holes is more devastating than taking the right to arm ourselves away.” And granted, that might be some form of hyperbole. Even Jesus Christ was known to exaggerate to make a point. But there’s no way Jesus Christ would equate the right to bear arms as more important than human life. So I think Ben Carson is the one that’s talking crazy talk.

And statements like those are why Ben Carson deserves to be scrutinized from every perspective possible. Because they evidence that fact that when it comes to issues of moral gravity, Ben Carson is either a fake, or he’s purposely faking it. Which is even more disturbing. Because what is his true agenda? No one can really know for sure when the “real” statements he makes cannot be separated from the supposedly playful manner in which Carson takes issue with serious social issues.

Fox News “reality” show

Consider that even in the cloistered environment of Fox News, where conservative viewpoints like Carson’s are cherished and promoted, things get strange when talking about standing your ground during a mass shooting or running away.

As reported on Salon.com: “On “Fox & Friends” Tuesday morning, he (Carson) said that “I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, ‘Hey guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can’t get us all.’” When asked about the remarks by ABC News later that day, he repeated his assertion with a smile, which Kelly said many people would take as an evidence of callousness. (italics by the author)

Carson disagreed, saying that “I was laughing at them, at their silliness. Of course if everybody attacks that gunman, he’s not going to be able to kill everybody.”

Actual military veterans who were armed and on the campus while the shooting occurred didn’t abide by the dictates of Carson’s assured tactical acumen, but that’s beside his point. “If you sit there and let him shoot you one-by-one,” Carson said, “you’re all going to be dead.”

This is a man operating in an imaginary world, where his ideology rules the day, and reality be damned. That’s why people are questioning his mental fitness. It’s not because he’s a conservative. Or he’s black. Or any other reason. He simply refuses to make sense.

“Getting” Carson and Cain

Some claim that he’s so smart the rest of the world doesn’t “get” Ben Carson..because he’s a brain surgeon, you know. And a Christian, apparently. And who knows what else?

Well, the Republican Party keeps trotting out ostensibly conservative black guys as evidence they “get” the needs of so-called minorities.

Herman Cain was the last iteration of this brand of conservative, running on grounds that people did not “get” his message. But he had other axes to grind as well. “I honestly believe that there’s an element in this country, in our politics, that does not want to see a businessman succeed at getting the nomination for the Republican party, and does not want me to succeed at becoming President of the United States of America.”

Well, now that’s a bit of news isn’t it? How many millionaires do we now have in Congress? And why does Wall Street throw millions of dollars behind candidates like Mitt Romney, the businessman and massively callous job-killer whose main professional accomplishments were delivering profits to shareholders? Or Donald Trump, an erstwhile businessman who now leads Republican polling?

But Cain was delusionally obsessed with his inability to convince people he was right. So he blamed others.

Blame and shame

john-boehner2-1024x780Again, the methods of extremists are always to blame others for their failure to get elected, or to govern. Right now the brother of the former President of the United States of America, candidate Jeb Bush, is busy denying that his brother GWB bore any responsibility for preventing the attacks.

This is mental illness as a political ideology. This is imagined reality superimposed on reality. This is why extremists and political ideologues such as Dick Cheney and perhaps Dr. Ben Carson cannot be trusted. They made not be mentally ill, but they certainly act like it. And that’s the only thing about them that isn’t fake.