It’s the horrified versus the whoreified in America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maximus versus Commodus

commodus01.jpg

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

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

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

Commodus: Then take it now.

[Maximus pauses, then turns around and walks away]

Commodus: They tell me your son…

[Maximus stops]

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

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

[Bows head]

Maximus: Highness.

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

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

The Rape of America

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

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

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

Emperors and whores

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

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

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

Whoring out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drunk with power

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

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

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

Owning up

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

From deplorable to despicable in America

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

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

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

Barack Obama

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hate at arm’s length

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

Collusion has many meanings

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

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

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

Lock him up

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

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

The call to action for men on the #metoo campaign

She was young, pretty and employed at a growing company dominated by male leadership. Her slight foreign accent gave her an exotic appeal, and her supervisor found the combination too alluring to resist.

melania-trump-donald-trump-020380f2-6db7-4202-b16c-b737c623c9e2.jpg

“What are you wearing under that dress?” he inquired. It only got worse from there. He asked the young woman questions about whether she had had sex with her boyfriend that morning. This type of harassment went on for weeks, and months.

Finally she confessed some of these things to her friends while driving back from lunch one day. I happened to be in the front seat as the conversation unfurled. Her friends were aghast, but not entirely surprised. They had all been harassed at the same place of employment as well.

trump-00-c0c8f54f-fb46-4333-a0c0-b170cdef0673.jpgAs a male employee at that company, I’d heard plenty of comments from other men about the women who worked there. They’d stop by my office and ask things like, “Did you see what (name) is wearing today? You can see her panties through the material.”

Some form of that commentary happened almost every day. Meanwhile the men at the company began engaging in a childish game of pretending to grab the crotch of other men passing by in the hallway. My immediate supervisor would sometimes approach from behind my office chair and put his hand down the front of my shirt to grope my chest in a “kidding” fashion. And so on. And so forth.

So I asked the driver of the car to pull over that day when our associate confessed the degree of sexual harassment she was facing. I turned around to face her and said, “You know, you don’t have to put up with this.”

“What do you mean?” she responded.

Trump-leaves-Melania-behind-807515“I have a friend who’s a lawyer. He probably knows someone who can represent you and get this to stop.”

And from there, I placed the call to set the wheels in motion. My friend indeed knew a lawyer who specialized in harassment cases. I spoke with her on the phone and described what I’d heard. She told me that she’d obviously need to speak with the woman in question. So I gave my associate that lawyer’s information and an official complaint was filed. The harassment was stopped. Our associate was transferred to another position away from her assailant and received a monetary settlement as well.

Call to Action

The call to action in that case was to help that associate get assistance. Although there might have been internal mechanisms to confront the harasser in other ways, the culture of that company might not have delivered equitable results. But it finally did change thanks to multiple harassment cases brought through both internal and external means. The call to action was effective, and harassers either changed their ways or cost the company money in terms of settlements or lost productivity. Hit them where it hurts, and change does come along.

Melania with ObamasSo an atmosphere in which harassment is tolerated is not, in the long term, a financially viable alternative for any organization. If the costs aren’t immediately financial, the exhaustion imposed on associates affects productivity, or relationships fracture, teams break down or absolute criminal activity takes place. The definition of harassment is “aggressive pressure or intimidation” and that crushes the spirit.

The Weinstein Company just found that out. Yet so has the President of the United States, whose often proud declarations of sexual harassment now dog his reputation and impugn his character. It is true that harassers and bullies often get their way for quite a while. But sooner or later they cross the wrong person and/or the true nature of their actions is exposed. Just ask former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, whose sexual abuse of boys was hidden by hush money for decades. But it caught up with him. Now he’s facing his accusers for the real crimes he perpetrated on them fifty years ago.

Harassment is not confined to man against woman. People can be harassed over their sexual orientation or made to feel inadequate by constant criticism or bullying statements of many stripes.

Trump.jpgHarassers will often claim persecution of their own. “Stop being so politically correct!” they may whine, or “I can say what I want! This is America!”

But those statements are pathetic excuses for the lazy minds and ugly nature of those whose character is stunted by immaturity or ignorance.

The call to action on #metoo for all… is to stand up to harassment, bullying and ignorance on all fronts. But let us also consider that it is no small irony in the fact that First Lady Melania Trump has made bullying her cause.  Sometimes the truth is hidden in plain sight. Her cause may in fact be a personal cry for help. When her husband leaves her behind in public ceremonies, pushes her hand aside if he’s impatient or focused on his own ego, and clearly considers her an accessory to his success, and not a real part of his foundation, the darker secrets behind that relationship may be important to consider.

The truth may be known someday, but the evidence is there in the manner in which she is treated by her husband in public. No one is immune to harassment. Not even the wife of the most powerful man in the world. And isn’t that a shame?

#metoo is a just cause.

Wheaton Crusaders still on the move

Not long ago, the Wheaton College Thunder were called the Wheaton College Crusaders. If you’ve studied Christian history at all, you know the origin of that name. The Crusades were a long series of mobile wars conducted by Europeans in part to take back control of the Holy Land. For two centuries Crusaders tried to gain control of the Middle Eastern world, only to lose ground in the end to the Ottoman Turks and other Muslim-controlled interests in the region.

But the angry religious energy of the Crusades conveniently found new targets for domination in the New World. It even gained gave itself a new name, in Manifest Destiny, the idea that Europeans were a chosen people of God who deserved to take over North America. And from there, the Christian religion was again used to justify genocide. Why not? The Old Testament was full of it.

Not too surprising

So the violent roots of the Christian faith and its actions around the world are never too surprising. Most recently, five football players from Wheaton College initiated a crusade of their own. The Daily Herald describes one phase of the incident this way: “According to records cited in the Tribune’s report Monday night, the student was in his dorm room when he was tackled by the football players, his legs and wrists wrapped up in duct tape, and a pillow case put over his head. He was placed in the back seat of a teammate’s vehicle, and as they drove, the players made offensive comments about Muslims, the report said.”

The players went on to sexually abuse their captive by attempting to insert an object into his rectum, all while continuing to insult the man and physically abuse him when resistance was offered.

Just like Iraq

abu-ghraibThat behavior resembles the actions of American military service personnel who tortured, beat and abused Iraqi prisoners during America’s invasion of that country in the early 2000s. The photos that emerged of those abuses rightly enraged the world, especially Muslim people who ascertained from reports about American soldiers specifically targeting Islamic taboos to humiliate Iraqi men and boys.

The American military was quite technically on a crusade of its own in Iraq. There was no real reason to invade that country after the 9/11 attacks. Yet the heated notion that Saddam Hussein was an immediate threat and that Muslim countries in general were a danger to the United States was used to ramp up approval of that war by Congress.

All this took place under the auspices of an openly Christian President in George W. Bush. It was his personal crusade to get back at Saddam for threatening his daddy and having the gall to stand up to America at all.

No remorse

dick-cheneyYet for all the ugly follies of Iraq, Bush and his henchman Cheney suffered few political consequences for the torture that occurred under their watch. Cheney even doubled down on several occasion about the merits of torture to subdue one’s enemies.

With that kind of attitude trickling down from our nation’s leaders and our own military, perhaps it is no surprise that a band of five Wheaton College football players should capture a young Muslim man from his dorm room to torture, injure and humiliate him. The fact that it happened at an overtly unapologetic Christian college such as Wheaton is quite in line with the behavior of hardline Christian leadership throughout history.  Quite recently the college fired one of its own professors for making a pro-Muslim comment. She had posted on Facebook: “I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book,” she posted on Facebook. “And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”

She was dismissed for that simple yet loving remark. And yet the five Wheaton College football players who kidnapped a fellow student, tortured and sexually abused him remain at the college. They were “strapped” with only 50 hours of “community service” and having to write an “eight page letter” as punishment for their actions.

Wheaton at fault

Now that the Wheaton College players are facing actual criminal penalties for their actions, it is time to hold Wheaton College publicly accountable for the mercenary brand of doctrine to which it traditionally ascribes. With its feet firmly planted in the evangelical community, Wheaton’s form of highly conservative, often repressive Christian teaching is the ideology fueling ugliness at home and abroad. Evangelicals swayed the vote for Donald Trump, himself a very public abuser, violent character and poor representative for what would normally pass for Christian virtues.

If it is indeed Christianity that men like Trump espouse, it is a Christianity rooted in intolerance and anger toward all other faiths. Witness its dog-whistle implementation as documented on the website God and Country, Military Religious Freedom and Christian Service. In a post titled “The Top Three Military Chaplain Fallacies,” it cheerleads unrelenting conversion as the ultimate expression of “religious freedom.”

The article says: “A military chaplain must have a true affinity for the lost (unconverted), and possess a love that is implacable for the Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen that they serve. A military chaplain must exercise their constitutional right to faithfully and expositionally teach and preach the whole counsel of God’s special and propositional revelation. Why? Military chaplains that never evangelizes (sic), soft-peddles truth, willfully omits the name of Christ in prayer out of fear of offending others instead of God, substitutes Scripture with psycho-therapy, and cares more about their career than Christ are not examples of holiness and Christ-centeredness; they are examples of hypocrisy and childish-conceits.”

Religious liberty, or the opposite? 

This is what too much of America claims as “religious liberty.” Would a military chaplain schooled in these methods of unrelenting evangelical fervor truly offer any virtue of service to a Muslim or Jewish soldier?

None whatsoever. Nor did the young men who play football for a Christian college show any respect or tolerance for a fellow student when they kidnapped and tortured him for his religious and possibly racial background.

Sickness at heart

There is a sickness at the heart of a Christian faith that approaches the world with such dismissive force. It bleeds into politics, culture and public civility. It fuels racially driven prejudice based on outdated interpretations of scripture that are used by the likes of the KKK to claim that white people are God’s people. It oppresses the rights of women, of gay people, of every person born into a nation where freedom from religion is guaranteed by the Constitution just as freedom of religion is also provided.

These were not just five football players roughhousing, as the likes of Rush Limbaugh will probably say. There is sickness at heart when such rationalizations are offered. These were five young men indoctrinated to think that somehow their school or their race or their position in life gave them the right to torture and abuse another human being because they attend a Christian college whose unquiet traditions of supremacy and crusades has a long history of justifying such behavior.

That is the form of religious “freedom” to which latter day evangelicalism too often leads. And it has to be challenged. Stopped. Shouted down. And dunned from dominance of the public debate over policy and protections of civil rights.

 

The cynicism of Shock and Awhhhh

So the term “snowflakes” was invented by the Right to describe people of supposedly shallow ideological substance. That would specifically be “liberals,” and “Progressives” and all others who, for the life of them, cannot stop standing up for the civil rights of everyone that lives in America.

In a January 29 post bearing this bold title, blogger John Galt went on a rant designed to intimidate and mock those who are participating in political protest regarding the actions of Donald Trump:

Snowflakes and Suckers can Now Begin their 2nd Week of Abject Trump Panic

Regardless of there (sic) whining, stupidity, drama, and insane screaming of the left along with #FakeNews from CNN and others, Donald J. Trump is sworn in and America’s long national nightmare is over. The protesters managed to make Middle America hate them and the two leftist controlled coasts even more.

One finds two clear strains of aggression here. First, the celebration of Shock felt by those to whom Trump’s long record of bizarre and unprincipled behavior is an affront. And second, the cynical habit of branding political opponents with patronizing labels. That is the “Awhhh” portion of the strategy.

The goal, as you can tell from the Shock Blogger above, is to always present Progressive resistance to the politics of Shock as hopelessly out of touch with reality. Hence the claim that “The protesters managed to make Middle America hate them.” That is a broad-based assumption if there ever was one. I live in so-called “Middle America” where cornfields inch up to the yards of suburbanites. Just beyond are tiny towns struggling for survival. I went to high school in those cornfields. Dated the daughters of hard-ass farmers and hung with their conservative sons who found ways to score coke and pot and hold giant parties in the barn when their parents were away.

Middle America

I’ve remained friends with plenty of those former classmates over the years. Some of those associations were helped along by social media such as Facebook. But as the primaries and election rolled forward in 2016, it was shocking to realize how shallow the political views of so many Middle Americans can be. These were my friends, but they either bought into the Shock and Awhhhh! mentality wholesale or proved somehow incapable of separating fact from fiction. Few seemed alarmed by the real dangers presented by a man such as Donald Trump.

In a New York Times feature about Women who voted for Trump, in their own words… that shallowness in critical thinking emerges, and it reveals why Trump was successful. Said one woman:. “I do read things on occasion that he tweets and I think, oh my word. I wish I could have had 10 minutes with him. Listen, Donald, you need to straighten up and stop with this foolishness. What he said about women was disrespectful. But I don’t get offended like some people do. You get through the bad and you focus on the good. Basically these were our choices, and I felt he was the better choice, and I had to overlook the negatives and focus on the positives.”

Overlook the negatives? Focus on the positives?

Here’s another opinion from one of the women interviewed by the NYT:

“I feel very, very badly for the people who are very scared for their way of life. From what I’m understanding, he’s only really wanting illegal immigrants that have committed crimes to be deported, which I agree with. I feel bad for the lesbian and gay and transsexual community that fear for their way of life. From what I understand, he says he’s not going to mess with that.

Somebody called me a racist because I did vote for Trump. Hold on, you don’t know me. Doesn’t that make you a racist by calling me a racist when you don’t know me? I’m looking for a brighter future for me and my children, and honestly I felt l like our country was kind of at risk if we did elect Hillary.”

Feeling bad

She “feels bad” for people who are scared for their way of life. Yet she goes on to absolve Trump of  possibility ill intentions. “From what I understand, he says he’s not going to mess with that.”

If these are the weak reasons she expresses for choosing Donald Trump, what is the likelihood that she would speak up if her candidate actually did so something offensive? Like ban Muslims? Shut down immigration?

What is Trump and his henchmen engaged in a Shock and Awe onslaught against the protections included in the Affordable Care Act, or the Environmental Protection Agency, or any number of other sanely conceived programs that are hated by Alt-Right conservatives whose only object, it seems, is to hate the government. And now they run it.

The brand of blind trust and naive notions given over by so many voters to Donald Trump is exactly what he wanted. And he laughed at the fact that it was happening. Middle Americans sold their freaking souls in this last election.

Endorsing hate

That endorsement has unleashed a brand of zealotry for which men such as Stephen Bannon have been preparing for years. It is their plan to implement policies rife with bigotry and political dismissiveness.

But to make matters worse, the hate and fear of this ideology has successfully been wrapped in the eternal blanket of religious confessional language. This is how great nations come to ugly ends.

That’s how it works. Zealotry is all about shocking your opponents into submission and branding those who resist with dismissive terms such as “snowflakes” so that the submissive, shallow minds of those clutching to fears perceive them as the weaker option.

And it’s working.

This is the cynicism of Shock and Awhhhh.

 

 

Greetings from the Fun House of an Ungrateful America

barack-obamaLast evening while having an earnest conversation with two women about the importance of gratitude during periods of grief and loss, we discussed how it had contributed to healing. One had recently lost her mother after seven long years of caregiving. The other admitted that she had not lost anyone close to her in life.

As the conversation broadened to discussion of life’s challenges in general, the woman who had not lost anyone close to her raised her hand and said, “Maybe you won’t agree with me, and I don’t know where you stand on this, but I feel like the new regime is going to make things better for all of us.”

She is a sweet woman. Well-meaning in every way. So I bit my tongue at the “new regime” comment and did not attempt any sort of reconnaissance on the matter.

But people never used to use the term “new regime” as a positive. The definition of the word “regime” alone should be a warning sign: a government, especially an authoritarian one.

So how did we get to the point where the idea of an authoritarian government seems like a good idea?

New Regime

It was not lost on me that her allegiances toward the “new regime,” as she put it, might be lacking some sort of insight. Her family is quite well-to-do. I’ve gotten to know her husband fairly well, and he is a good man as well. He works hard and has earned the grand style of living in which they can comfortably engage.

These were not people for whom the 2008 recession destroyed their income. Perhaps their investment portfolio sagged for a while, but it came back. The economic recovery under President Obama required public money and a restoration of consumer confidence to take hold. Those attributes are not easy matters over which to preside as a President.

Health matters

UkraineTo make matters worse, President Obama’s opponents sought to undermine his leadership well before he even stepped into office. Mitch McConnell, the stodgy Senator from Down East, swore that the principle goal of the Republican Party would be to make President Obama a “one-term president.” And then the GOP-led Congress obfuscated every initiative Obama tried to start. The success of Obamacare was undermined by a long-term negative campaign against the Affordable Care Act. That began before it was signed into law and continued through fifty attempts to repeal it in Congress.

Even after the conservative Supreme Court ruled Obamacare constitutional, the GOP continued to whine and complained about the program because they considered it an expansion of government. Every shortcoming of the ACA was highlighted while benefits such as providing coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, a vital provision for millions of Americans, was ignored by the GOP.

Bitter complaint

And while the program had problems getting launched, millions of Americans that previously could not gain access to coverage were now enrolled thanks to subsidies to reduce the cost of insurance. This operative directly resembles the provisions offered to employees of corporations that provide health insurance. The principles are the same, but the GOP bitterly complained that the subsidies were one more form of handout to a populace they considered lazy or unworthy of such support.

Health insurance companies were not exactly collaborative on the Obamacare front. Newly developed plans that offered coverage for fairly priced premiums were eliminated after just a year. More expensive plans were forced on those insured under the original program, or enrollees were shoved into HMOs and other cost-savings programs. Rather than responding with gratitude for all the new business Obamacare delivered to their plates, insurance companies shortsightedly dumped plans they deemed unprofitable.  The recoil from this  turned much of the populace off to the idea of

Ingratitude afoot

This reaction symbolizes the manner in which much of conservative America responded to economic reform led by President Obama on a number of fronts. The necessary re-tooling of the auto industry, in which several major American automakers were on the brink of bankruptcy, was directed by a team assigned by President Obama to fund and support automakers in a program in which they could pay back low-interest loans. This saved millions of valuable jobs and car companies paid off their loans within several years of the public investment. This was a success by any measure, yet Republicans grumbled into their suit collars that public money should never have been used for such purpose. A few conservatives even insisted that America’s car companies deserved to die, and should have been left for the free market to swallow up.

Forgotten travesties

Thus the Darwinistic notions of free-market ideologues show little concern for the well-being of everyday Americans. And even some of those everyday Americans seem to have long forgotten how bad things really got in 2008 when millions of people were thrown out of jobs. The Bush administration had made a royal mess of the country on multiple fronts. With two wars raging and the echo effects of 9/11 still rattling the world with Osama bin Laden at large and Bush admitting that he’d forgotten all about him, America had good reason to feel insecure.

Eight years later the economy has been showing signs of reasonable growth. Eleven million jobs were created during President Obama’s tenure.

Yet unions have still been under attack by conservatives such as Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker, who gutted collective bargaining with public employees in his state. These attempts at reducing labor’s influence and voice have been replicated in other public and private sector industries as well. President Ronald Reagan can be credited with setting the domino effect in motion, a cause that has reduced the earning power and security for millions of middle-class Americans.

Transferring blame

Yet the GOP has successfully blamed President Obama for failing to restore middle-class jobs lost to the migration of capital overseas, where manufacturing operations of global companies have shifted in pursuit of cheaper labor.

Republicans preach loyalty to the working populace, and Donald Trump cynically has promised to restore jobs in coal-mining and manufacturing. But look at the real results. His grandstanding effort at the Carrier plant in Indiana is symbolic of the fecklessness of his methods. More than 800 jobs still migrated to Mexico, and Carrier got a $7M tax incentive in the process. If anyone but Donald Trump had “executed” the deal, he would have called them names and castigated them for weak negotiating skills.

Fun times or Fun House?

fun-house-1.jpgSo the world is in for some real fun times with Donald Trump, who stumbled into victory because the GOP successfully browbeat Hillary Clinton about emails and Benghazi to the point that regular working people could no longer tell truth from fiction, and remained cowering in their homes for fear of being hit with another round of stinking lies disguised as truth. America has been duped into the Fun House that is Donald Trump’s world. Facts don’t matter. Opinion reigns. And lies win the day. It’s a frightening world where no one knows where to turn for sanity.

The GOP is responsible for the insanity. Eight years of solid, considerate and even visionary leadership of President Obama was turned into one long and constant smear campaign accusing him of dividing the country. The GOP leveraged the voice of racism against Obama by accusing the President of being racist himself. This is a classic GOP trick used against candidate John Kerry in Swift Boat debacle. Democrats seem feeble in the face of such turnabout lies. And too many Americans think the Fun House is a nice place to live. It excites them. “Trump says what I think!” they enthuse.

Outside the Fun House

The rest of America just grows numb. And that’s how the GOP likes it. Bullies want people to stand down, show no resistance and to stand up only when told.

The numbness only wore off when Donald Trump arrived with a cold shot of anger and public ingratitude toward the Obama administration and its rescue of the nation from the abyss created by Bush and Company. This message appealed greatly to conservatives who preferred to forget all about the Bush years, the tragic wars of choice that stole and maimed their sons and daughters, and the terror of 9/11 created by negligence or worse yet, calculated ignorance toward the real threat of terror.

These realities were much too hard for conservatives to admit, and for moderates to imagine. Despite all that Obama had done to rescue the economy and restore some sense of consistent national identify and avoid speculative wars, conservatives branded him weak and mocked his intelligence as dithering academic indecision.

In other words, ingratitude became the word of the hour.

Milking it

Trump milked that ingratitude for all it was worth. His campaign slogan Make America Great Again took ingratihillary-clintontude to the heights of arrogance. He didn’t just imply that Obama was a failure, and accuse Hillary of even less leadership ability, he lied for affect, and knew he’d never be called to account because the cash-hungry press was all too happy to take big advertising dollars in exchange for broadcasting Donald Trump’s ingratitude.

In the face of this ungrateful tsunami of selfish anger and belligerence, Hillary Clinton sought to reason with the American people. But there is no reasoning with people possessed of such selfish, fearful instincts. The rich had been indoctrinated to think that Obama was a failure while the poor were told that Hillary Clinton held no hope or concern for them.

Middle class disaffection
Neither were the middle class left to guess for themselves. To that audience, Trump applied a different tactic. He went out to black audiences bragging that a black President had done little to make their lives better. There was an element of truth to the accusation, but it was Republican prejudice that made it so difficult to gain progress for black folks in America, not Obama’s complacency.

The gains made for the immigrant and LGBT community were dog-whistled to death by Donald Trump. His slogan Make America Great Again was a spurious call to roll back policies tolerant of minority needs. This message resonated with white Americans eager for any leg up in society. Those that lived in small towns or flyover communities abandoned by corporate America thought they saw a glimmer of light in Trumps seeming favoritism toward the originally powerful white community. The KKK ate that message up, and Trump did not deny it. Thus the mood of ingratitude was flipped inside out and preached in speeches that praised the power of politically incorrect speech as a sign of greatness, not shame.

Deplorables
Hillary Clinton branded this trend “deplorable,” and she was absolutely correct about that. The long smear campaign directed toward Obama as a supposed “elitist” was instantly shifted toward Clinton. Trump’s dark directors saw that as an opportunity and turned populist with the message. Thus the ingratitude of the Alt-Right and angry Independents of the nation earned a full voice because the GOP used the “deplorables” remark as propaganda to make it seem as if the Democratic Party was against them all the time.

And that’s how Donald Trump came to be President. His appeal was not to the “forgotten” masses, as the popular narrative goes. Instead, Trump leveraged a basic selfishness, ingratitude and fear born from the cold fact that the last conservative administration had been such a gastric failure that it shit all over the hopes and dreams of everyday Americans.

That’s why Trump succeeded in throwing so much shit around. The ungrateful always appreciate revenge for the transgressions they feel were directed against them. They took great pleasure in seeing the shit created by Bush and company being thrown right in the faces of Obama and Clinton.

Nice people deceived

gettyimages-461656522-e1436299461791Even nice people were deceived, and placed their confidence in the seeming likability of Donald Trump, with whom they were familiar from TV, and who seems harmless and happy on the surface, like a magician or a clown on WGN TV.

But Trump is the King of Ingratitude. He’s never happy with anything anyone says about him. Even Time Magazine’s Person of the Year Award was an insult to him, and he complained that he was not named Man of the Year.

So you see, an ungrateful, ultimately selfish America got exactly what it wanted when Donald Trump was elected to office. Only 25% of the American population voted for the man, but with help of the Russians and the FBI, enough voters in electoral states were scared off from voting at the last minute that treasonous ingratitude won the day.

This is the ugliest period in American history, ever. When President Kennedy said the words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” he was not intimating that the nation should be used for selfish purposes. Yet that’s what Donald Trump is about to do, enrich himself at all of our expense. It’s what he does best, and has done it for years. He’s a proven fraud as evidenced by his settlement payout for so-called Trump University. But the ungrateful masses stuck by him because they view him as the Victim of the Press, not the Whore of Babylon that he truly is.

Ingratitude is the New American Way. And welcome to it.

 

Why “Drain the Swamp” displays Donald Trump’s ultimate ignorance

Swamp.jpgSure, the phrase “Drain the Swamp” is a common metaphor. But those words actually expose long-held beliefs about the environment that have proven to be disastrous for many Americans.

First, some history. During the settlement of the North American continent, agriculture and development struggled to overcome an environment that often seemed overwhelming. From prairie soils that refused to be broken by the blades of wooden plows to wetlands that defied attempts to rid the land of water, it was a tough go on many fronts.

And that is how the term “drain the swamp” came about. Failing all other attempts to tame such environments, many swamps were “drained” using underground tiles or drainage ditches to shunt water elsewhere.This was done because swamps were considered of little use for the purposes of growing crops or cultivating any sort of civilized purpose.

Admittedly, though it was little known at the time, swamps also held breeds of mosquitoes that brought fever germs to the populace in many forms, including malaria. So the deep-seated dread of swamps one of mystery and fear.

The genuine swamp

Much of those fears depended on a poor understanding of why and how swamps actually operate, and also why they exist. Swamps are defined as largely still waters rife with thick trees and impenetrable vegetation. In the last 400 years, ecologists have grown to understand that swamps play a critical role in many aspects of the natural world.

From a human perspective, swamps are critical holding areas for floodwaters. They serve as retention ponds when water overflows the banks of rivers or lakes. These holding ponds also serve to filter out muddied or silt-heavy water before it discharges back into streams, lakes and even oceans. Swamps also provide vital habitat for many commercially valuable species of ducks, geese and other species of waterfowl, birds, reptiles, mammals and insects.

American swamps

Swamps along the Mississippi River and other major rivers perform all these functions and more. Before water ever flows over the banks of such rivers, it fills the backwater swamps and often that prevents major flooding elsewhere.

Yet the metaphor to “drain the swamp” persists in defiance of the critical role that swamps play in American ecology. It insinuates that all such environments are bad places undeserving of our attention or even existence on the face of the earth.

The term “drain the swamp” also advances an anachronistic view of the environment as a whole. It implies there is still inherent evil in creatures such as snakes or even turtles that live in swamps. This draws on ancient notions about demon spirits living within such creatures as depicted in the serpent who was Satan’s disguise when tempting Eve.

Evil notions

Even people associated with swamps and marshes have been punished throughout history. When Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein objected to political resistance from Kurds living in that nation’s southern marshes, he set about to have the marshes drained under the guise of “agricultural improvement.” This crime against humanity was also a crime against nature. The two tend to go together. And it is people who cannot separate the benefits of nature from the impositions of human nature that commit such crimes.

Thus use of terms such as “Drain the Swamp” actually represent a confused, angry and fearful belief system. Typically, this emanates from people too self-absorbed, insecure and incurious to find out the value and function of places such as swamps or marshes. Thus these places serve as the ironic totems of ignorance for all those who deplore them.

Real-life threats

So it makes sense that if Donald Trump’s worldview depends on such metaphors for his popularity, he will draw a less sophisticated brand of voter, someone who cares not to look past the slap-happy approach of communication.

It is thus predictable that men such as Donald Trump cannot get their heads around real-life threats from the environment such as global climate change. Someone who still thinks of swamps as dangerous, demon-filled places cannot grasp that it is environments such as swamps and forests and grasslands that actually provide a positive balance to the equation of how much carbon dioxide is drawn from the atmosphere versus how much is being poured in by human activity.

One of the most important environments to this purpose is the Amazon in South America. But the carbon sinks of old-growth woodlands in the Pacific Northwest and to some degree, forests in the American Northeast all play vital roles in counteracting anthropogenic (manmade) climate change.

Naive terms

But Donald Trump doesn’t believe in that. He clearly views the world in desperately naive terms, and is all too happy to leverage that ignorance into popularity with those who view the world in the same way. This is exacerbated by those who interpret and promote a poor understanding of religious metaphor as well. That is how essentially worthless claims that creationism is a “science” persist. For creationism contends, among other things, that serpents could once speak with fork-tongues that two of every kind of animal on earth were once stuffed into a boat to preserve thousands upon thousands of species of animals from perishing in a worldwide flood. This would have required that some species such as blind salamanders from the North American continent would have crawled across thousands of miles of land and cross oceans as well to reach the safety of a tiny ark in a largely desert environment of the Middle East. That single notion itself is absurd,

That single notion itself is absurd, yet it is creationists who contend that nature is too complex to have come about on its own. Never mind that impossible stories with no explanation other than divine intervention somehow are supposed to constitute “science.” For fundamentalists of religious and/or political nature, it is absurdity that is more acceptable than complexity.  Naive terms are the most dangerous of all, it seems.

Simpletons and hillbillies

And so we arrive at a point in history when the world is about to be run by a band of absurd simpletons whose clipped ideologies rely on forcing naive terms and notions on the rest of us. This is the shallow worldview that Donald Trump and his argumentatively conservative cabinet are about to foist upon the world to replace, as Trump likes to think of it, a swamp consisting of nuclear physicists once assigned to manage the Department of Energy and our nuclear program.

Trump instead has hired a Texas hillbilly named Rick Perry to take over that position. A man with no experience who once proposed eliminating the very department he is now assigned to manage. And so it goes across the board in Trump’s candidate. He has replaced competence with ignorance, and experience with ideology.

What Donald Trump fails to understand about swamps he fails to understand about the world in general. That is, complexity does not in itself represent evil, for it often holds answers that can be revealed over time. But simplicity, when it exhibits a poor understanding of the world, can often turn into a dangerous assumptions and worse, a sinking morass where there once seemed to be solid ground.

Advent of the Neocontrarians

 

despicable-me-advent-calendar

The Despicable Me Advent Calendar

 

This is the Advent season for people of Christian faith. Many children enjoy the process of opening windows on their Advent Calendars. Starting December 1st, the Advent Calendar marks with anticipation the arrival of the traditional day celebrating the Birth of Christ.

 

This year, Americans are experiencing a different kind of advent. With a new President about to be Born Again in January, the process of naming cabinet members has been taking place the last few weeks.

Against all reason

Almost without exception, each new cabinet member named by Donald Trump to head a government agency has preached beliefs that run contrary to the purpose for which the agency was originally designed. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was originally established by President Richard M. Nixon, a Republican in the year 1970. Those of us alive during that era recall the massive environmental problems our nation was experiencing. Air pollution was choking cities and acid rain had begun to sterilize lakes east of the Rust Belt. Bald eagles and peregrine falcons were dying off thanks to DDT poisoning that made their eggshells too weak to sustain normal brooding. Rivers were on fire in Ohio, and vicious levels of heavy metals, toxic chemicals and nuclear energy byproducts were regularly leaking into the ground, air and water.

Thus our nation saw fit, with bipartisan support, to fix the problems our industrial activity was causing. We passed laws to take the lead out of gasoline. And over the years since, the auto industry has been pushed to improve gas mileage in the vehicles it produces. Some said this was impossible, impractical and economically unfeasible. But they were wrong. Modern vehicles use less gas and emit less noxious fumes than they did forty years ago.

The other direction

All these improvements in protecting the environment have paid dividends in protection of human health. Still, the battle is never won. There are still many significant challenges in environmental pollution that remain threats to the human race and other living things on earth. At the top of this list is anthropogenic climate change, manmade global warming. Governments around the world recognize the dangers of this threat to human health and the stability of the world’s economy.

And yet, President Elect Donald Trump called on a fellow named Myron Ebell to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team. Ebell prides himself on being a “climate skeptic,” one who does not believe that climate change is even occurring, or that it is manmade.

He is, in other words, a contrarian. Or more accurately, he is a Neocontrarian. This is the Post-Modern version of a contrarian. Armed with opinions that ostensibly trump facts, Ebell is the type of person who seeks to impose his ideological will on the world despite all evidence to the contrary. This is how the website Whatsupwiththat describes the appointment of Myron Ebell to head up the EPA:

Choosing Myron Ebell means Trump plans to drastically reshape climate policies.

Donald Trump has selected one of the best-known climate skeptics to lead his U.S. EPA transition team, according to two sources close to the campaign.

Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, is spearheading Trump’s transition plans for EPA, the sources said.

The Trump team has also lined up leaders for its Energy Department and Interior Department teams. Republican energy lobbyist Mike McKenna is heading the DOE team; former Interior Department solicitor David Bernhardt is leading the effort for that agency, according to sources close to the campaign.

Contrary opinions

This is the peak of his Myron Ebell’s supposed wisdom: that he holds an opinion contrary to 95% of established scientists around the world. He abides with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which has proven itself over the years nothing more than a shill for whatever business feels threatened by any sort of regulation.

That means that no matter how much pollution or other dangers a company might choose to pump out, the Competitive Enterprise Institute will take their side and defend them to the death. This is the philosophy of Neocontrarians in a nutshell.

And as such, Myron Ebell chose a fellow Neocontrarian to run the EPA. This is what the Los Angeles Times had to say about the selection. “Donald Trump’s meeting earlier this week with Al Gore gave environmentalists a glimmer of hope. They’re feeling a lot less hopeful now that Trump has selected Oklahoma Atty. Gen. Scott Pruitt to run the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt disputes the scientific consensus on climate change, is an ally of the oil industry and has tried to block President Obama’s Clean Power Plan. If Pruitt is confirmed, here’s how it could play out in the states.”

Flattening public education

The EPA is not the only government agency that Trump’s new wave of Neocontrarians is assigned to run. Trump also chose billionaire Betsy DeVos, a strong believer in charter schools and for-profit education, to act as Education Secretary. She is a devoted Neocontrarian when it comes to the education of children, preferring to diversify against public schools than qualitatively seek to improve the existing public school education system. Hers is the Winner Take All, free-market philosophy in which vouchers are distributed to families left to find the right education opportunities for themselves.

In other words, she’s an advocate of “trickle-down education,” in which those most equipped to avail themselves of the best educational opportunities will profit while those less equipped to seek or make those choices will be left behind. That’s how the free market works when it is unregulated. It is positively Darwinian at its source, which is ironic given the typically strong resistance to the theory of evolution among those who typically advocate for “school choice” based on so-called values-based learning, or Christian home-schooling.

It has long galled such ideologues that public schools actually teach science rather than fanciful notions such as creationism or so-called “intelligent design theory.” Even the names of those ideologies are contrarian.

Nothing trickles down when education as a system is flattened like a pancake and public schools are deflated in both funding and philosophy. Yet this is the approach of Neocontrarians to all sorts of ethical standards in government, science, medicine and the environment. Ever since President Ronald Reagan spouted the Neocontrarian Mantra, “Government is not the solution to our problems. Government is the problem,” Neocontrarians have rushed to dispel any notion that government has a positive role to play in our lives.

In and out of control

When that daft and devout Neocontrarian George W. Bush took office with his henchman and turgid Neontrarian Dick Cheney at his side,  the United States went for a wild ride of Neocontrarian speculation on the role, or dispensation, of governmental responsibility.

The Bush administration was exposed for its lack of attention on national security when the 9/11 attacks occurred. The Bushies wanted to run things their own way, and significantly ignored warning signs of terrorist attacks because they did not want to listen to any of their predecessors, or even their own internal source Richard Clarke.

And from there, the Neocontrarians took advantage of the fear rushing through the populace to contrive a war of choice in Iraq, which fit the documented ideology of Neoconservatives who wanted to reform the Middle East around their own ideas of free markets and Western democracy, only to have it blow up in their faces. Literally.

Then the floodgates of Neocontrarians opened even further with the sponsor of torture in the very same jail cells used by Saddam Hussein to torture his own people. This was the height of cognitive dissonance, torturing Iraqis under the guise of saving them from Saddam, yet Neocontrarians in the media sought to defend it at all costs.That mean little suckup Sean Hannity and his bludgeoning cohort Rush Limbaugh preached torture as truth seeking.

Think about the contrary nature of that philosophy for a moment. When Senator John McCain protested against use of torture because he was himself tortured during wartime, some Neocontrarians mocked him as weak. This is the problem with Neocontrarian philosophy. It quickly unhinges from fact in order to support beliefs that are typically devoid of proof or common sense.

Trumped by nonsense

Donald Trump is expanding this tradition of Neocontrarianism as if he invented it. But that’s not certainly not true. Trump is merely expanding the Neocontrarian tradition to suit his own lack of moral, political or ethical direction. The fact that he Tweets with anger at every criticism or perceived transgression is evidence of this massive insecurity. And as such, his choice to assign Neocontrarians to every single position in his cabinet is an indication of his boldly inferior, incurious approach to life.

His own misogyny and aggressive treatment of women is the direct product of his own Neocontrarian worldview. “No one respects women more than me!” he claims. And how contrary is that? In other words, he’s lying to himself in order to bolster his own lack of self-esteem.

And that’s what Neocontrarian is, and what it does to this world. By advocating views that are completely contrary to pure and visible evidence, it wrests power from those seeking to abide by fact, and make decisions based on reason, not ideology or wishful thinking.

Longstanding contrarianism

We see the effects of Neocontrarianism in the aggressive defense of ideologies such as creationism, the religious belief that scripture is a better foundation for science than experimentation and rational examination of physical evidence.

We have dealt with the consequences of Neocontrarianism time and again with the economy as it collapses under one Republican regime after another that advocates cutting taxes on the very rich, and allowing regulations to fall lax so that financial greed runs amok and crush the foundations of economic stability.

This is the Advent of an entire new level of Neocontrarianism. It is highly unlikely it will be any more successful than the ugly attempts in the past to ignore fact and foist opinion on the world. Every new day we’ve opened a new window in the Advent Calender of Neocontrarianism and it always a strange reveal. How else do you explain the appointment of Linda McMahon?

“U.S. President-elect Donald Trump said on Wednesday he will nominate professional wrestling magnate and former Senate candidate Linda McMahon as his choice to head the Small Business Administration.Trump’s announcement said McMahon would be a key player in his effort to generate stronger job growth and roll back federal regulations.McMahon, 68, is a co-founder and former CEO of the professional wrestling franchise WWE, which is based in Stamford, Connecticut. She ran unsuccessfully for a U.S. Senate seat in Connecticut in 2010. She was an early supporter of Trump’s presidential campaign.”

Questioning the fake world

I wrote this somewhat controversial piece a year or so back that disturbed many people. It played on the fact that conspiracy and suspicion often drive the Alt-Right view of the world. Hardly an event has taken place over the past five years, ranging from  mass shootings to terrorist attacks on American soil that has not been postulated by the Alt-Right as a government attempt to manipulate public opinion on issues ranging from gun rights to abortion.

Now we’re being led by a man whose entire political philosophy is based on Alt-Right contrarianism. Which is why he feels so confident naming a woman who helped run an entertainment franchise based on fake wrestling that makes millions off the false dramas created to cater to the lowbrow tastes of the flyover voters that put Trump in power.   with a combover and orange makeup into the Hall of Mirrors of

I’m not going to apologize for calling this all a big, fatass mistake. We’re being led by a Neocontrarian narcissist  with a horribly vain combover and a coat of orange makeup. It all feels like a bad, horrific dream from which American cannot wake up.

And so, we cannot possibly expect proponents of the Neocontrarian philosophy to be self-analytical and realize the disturbingly false core of their belief system. This is the Advent of fascism as an American value system. It will be up to all of us to call them on their lies disguised as policy. And it could be a strange, strange trip indeed.

 

 

 

 

We once had a prayer

urlThe hopes of so many American Christians seemed to have rested on the election of Donald Trump as President. His was the premise upon which Christian leadership so often depends. A man of conviction. Of strong words. A man who promised, along with his running mate Mike Pence, to ban the legal right to an abortion.

This was the centerpiece of the movement by the voting bloc known as evangelical Christians to elect Trump. There have been many other attempts over the years, with hopes pinned to men such as George W. Bush, who talked the talk but never even flirted with the idea of banning abortion.

Going way back to the likes of Ronald Reagan, fundamentalist Christians and biblical literalist have been leaning on presidents and politicians to make the case that America is indeed a Christian nation. If only some form of theocracy could take over the national narrative, everything would work out. America would again enjoy favor in God’s eyes, went the theory.

Instead, the nation leaned toward installing human rights to people that were not favored by the Christian Right. In particular, the notion that gay people deserved civil justice such as the right to marry has stuck in the collective craw of evangelicals and their ilk. It all sinks back to a literal interpretation of the bible and a selective view that some passages found within Holy Scripture are immutable even though others, such as outmoded laws in the Book of Leviticus or Deuteronomy can be conveniently ignored.

We might have had a prayer of progress on such issues if such claims were not at the heart of the cognitive dissonance behind what so many evangelical Christians claim as truth. The history of literalistic religion is anchored in such false beliefs that have also been used to make the contention that blacks are inferior, or should be kept as slaves. Or that women were not capable of working the same jobs as men, or to vote.

Such prejudices are not the product of honest biblical understanding. Instead, they have long been the product of stubborn, stiff-necked minds wrapped in fears of The Other. Most adherence to biblical literalism is the product of selfish aims. The fact that the Chief Priests in the days of Christ were legalists who turned scripture into law drew wrath from the Son of God. Yet to this day, so-called Christians behave the exact same way, exacting punishment and disbarment on all who do not agree to abide by harsh and strict forms of law derived from a literal interpretation of scripture.

Admissions

These are the sins of believers that they never like to admit. Indeed, they will not. And as a result, they must become ever more forceful in their endeavors to install their belief systems on the world. Deep within their conscience, they know that their selective beliefs are a house of the tallest order. A Tower of Babel, as it were, constructed of repeated errors in using scripture as a weapon, not a tool of understanding.

The same selectivity that supports the prejudice of so many Christians against gays or other supposed cultural opponents was also applied during the 2016 presidential election. Evangelicals lined up against Hillary Clinton on belief that her support for her husband in his transgressions actually constituted a character flaw of her own.

This contention was not a Christian instinct at all, but a political one for sure. It gave evangelical Christians an excuse to dismiss the very public demonstrations of misogyny and aggression toward women by Donald Trump. Evangelicals lined up to justify voting for the man by claiming that he stood for a “higher purpose.” That would be the vote against abortion and installation of a conservative Supreme Court that would do the religious will of the evangelical Christian community.

Silent Night, Holy might

We might have had a prayer of defeating this anti-Constitutional movement if the Christian church at large had attempted to call these gross interpretations of scriptural verity and political expedience to account. We might have had a prayer of calling Trump’s bluff in those moments when his claimed devotion to Christian faith proved so shallow and false that it bore not resemblance even to the casual Sunday worshipper who struggles through church just to get back to the couch and watch an NFL game, the other Sunday religion.

It did not help that the conservative media spent the past two years castigating the Catholic Pope Francis as a “liberal” who therefore did not deserve the attention of “real Christians” or conservative politicians. When Pope Francis explained that everything in the Bible that does not lead to the love of Christ is obsolete, he wittingly offended evangelicals whose very life support in faith depends on those passages that are interpreted to offend and isolate entire segments of society.

It is the opposite of what Jesus came to represent for the Christian faith. We might have had a prayer of respecting real Christian tradition by resisting the likes of Donald Trump. But the complicity of evangelicals in electing a man who is clearly a money-grubbing, selfish, sexist, racist, misogynistic and fascist jerk put all that to rest. That prayer of understanding and Christian leadership was exploded like a balloon the day that Donald Trump was elected. And to fulfill his role as the effective anti-Christ, Trump turned around and named Stephen Bannon as one of his chief advisors. Bannon subsequently praised Satan and the value of darkness as inspirations for political practice and cultural foundations.

Turning backs on God

We once had a prayer of doing the right thing. But Americans with narrow minds and fear in their hearts turned their back on God and elected a man with the heart of a wicked king that has installed heartless, clueless and faithless people as leaders of this country.

God will not be amused. Nor will Jesus Christ or all the saints of the past. Donald Trump is the worst thing to ever happen to America. And so-called Christians made it happen.

It makes you wonder if Stephen Bannon and all those Left Behind Christians haven’t been right about this place we call America all along. Perhaps it is the height of evil on the order of the Roman Empire in its worst moments. We had a prayer of proving that wrong. But we didn’t. And now the reincarnation of Caligula is in charge.

We once had a prayer. But we had better start praying all over again. And this time get it right.