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.

 

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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.

American Hustle, Trump style

irving-rosenfeldThe movie American Hustle focused on the scam activities of Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser. As fate would have it, America is now witnessing the return of a scam artist the likes of Rosenfeld, whose dramatic combover and clandestine financial dealings strongly resemble our ostensible President-elect, Donald Trump.

The similarities are striking on many fronts. Trump’s refusal to release any type of financial information about his business dealings have raised suspicions about the nature of his relationships and his true net worth. All these questions he dismissed with a wave of his hand as if there was nothing to see behind the man that has left a long trail of bankruptcies, lawsuits and business failings in his wake.

urlHis claim instead is that “I am rich.” But he forgets that the word has an ironic as well as a literal meaning. When someone questions your integrity, and your response is that your integrity is unassailable simply because you have money, the appropriately cynical response is, “Oh, that’s pretty rich.”

In other words, something stinks about the claim of absolute integrity. It deserves to be questioned, because Donald Trump is a scam artist the likes of Irving Rosenfeld.

Facts have now emerged that Donald Trump may well have been helping to scam America to win the election. His associations with the Russian government and the favoritism he has expressed toward its President, Vladimir Putin, are now exposed as scam designed to vladimir-putin-afp_650x400_81464860163shift results in favor of Trump. Russian hackers stole information and dumped it into the public sphere through Wikileaks.

This was all designed to damage the reputation of Hillary Clinton. If this was a true collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, the scam may well constitute treason. It would almost certainly provide justification for the Electoral College to dump Trump on grounds that he is unfit for office.

Let’s face it: Even the Republican Party itself feels scammed by its President-Elect. There is a fair chance that even if Trump were installed as President, the Congress might move to impeach Trump on whatever grounds it can establish. The goal would be to install Vice President-Elect Mike Pence as President.

But that too would constitute a scam on the American people. It is likely that the arch-conservative Pence was approved by the GOP with the plan to replace Trump somewhere along the way. This entire ordeal is an American Hustle that is, according to all standards of political ethics, highly un-American at its source.

 

Stop neoliberal insanity in its tracks

ronald-reaganAt the age of 21 my political awakening occurred with the election of President Ronald Reagan. What I thought was a harmless attempt at bringing back the Good Old Days with a harmless grandfatherly figure turned into an unthinkable nightmare of ideological purpose and action.

That was the first time that I recognized the real power of politics to impact the people and places I love. When Reagan installed an environmental cynic in the form of James Watt to serve as Secretary of the Interior, the unthinkable became reality.As documented on the website Thisdayinquotes.com, Watt was a man with a perverse mission:

“Before Reagan appointed him Secretary of the Interior in 1981, Watt was a lawyer who specialized in representing people and groups who opposed environmental laws and regulations — particularly the laws and regulations designed to protect natural areas from environmentally-damaging development. Thus, his appointment as the head of an agency that’s supposed to protect America’s parks and wilderness areas was highly controversial in itself.”

It didn’t take long for Watt to demonstrate the rest of his selfishly insensitive character, either.

“A classic example of the latter occurred on September 21, 1983That day, James G. Watt, who had been appointed as U.S. Secretary of the Interior by President Ronald Reagan, was giving a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. At one point, he explained the diversity of the members of the “U.S. Commission on Fair Market Value Policy for Federal Coal Leasing” with this dunderheaded description:

“We have every kind of mix you can have. I have a black, I have a woman, two Jews and a cripple.”

This brand of insensitivity illustrates the dangers of trusting people with conflicting self-interests to important posts in government. But to put an even sharper point on these dangers of ideological affront, Watt’s offenses didn’t stop there.

“Once in office, the policies he pursued were, as feared, slanted in favor of opening parks and wildlands to more development, rather than toward preserving them. Understandably, this outraged environmentalists.But they weren’t the only people Watt managed to annoy and insult. For example, in January of 1983 Watt said: “If you want an example of the failures of socialism, don’t go to Russia, come to America and go to the Indian reservations.”

james-wattThese layers of remarks and backward policies continued throughout Watt’s reign as Secretary of the Interior. These and other results eventually forced even Ronald Reagan to fire Watt, who seemed unable to tell wrong from right on any issue.

As documented on YahooAnswers: “James Watt, Reagan’s Secretary of the Interior was indicted on 41 felony counts for using connections at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help his private clients seek federal funds for housing projects in Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Watt conceded that he had received $500,000 from clients who were granted very favorable housing contracts after he had intervened on their behalf. In testifying before a House committee Watt said: “That’s what they offered and it sounded like a lot of money to me, and we settled on it.” Watt was eventually sentenced to five years in prison and 500 hours of community service.

And that wasn’t Reagan’s only debacle. There was more. Much more. “Although not convicted, Edwin Meese III, resigned as Reagan’s Attorney General after having been the subject of investigations by the United States Office of the Independent Counsel on two occasions (Wedtech and Iran-Contra), during the 3 short years he was in office.”

Thus we have plenty of proof about the dangers of installing ideological zealots to run government agencies where they clearly have conflicts of self or political interest.

In fact, Reagan’s administration turned out to be on the most corrupt in American history. Yet conservatives somehow still consider it the height of righteous revolution. This is called cognitive dissonance, a pattern that runs rampant in the conservative factions of this country where people readily and regularly confuse God and country on purpose to justify their selfish aims and faux righteousness about their often anachronistic worldview.

urlSuch is the attitude today with Donald Trump. That means we are justified in questioning and resisting all such appointments that promise selfish carnage in intent and philosophy. We must work to protect our nation’s national parks, our healthcare system, education and civil rights from those who would sell them off to their buddies and sell the nation out against its own carefully built traditions of conservation, preservation, consideration and civic respect.

See, we already know from recent history how zealots like these will behave once they’re in charge. Iran-Contra was a warning sign that neoliberalism had no conscience. So was willful choice to attack Iraq, a nation that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, and the torture that took place in Iraq under the Bush-Cheney watch. The zealots will stop at nothing. They care about one thing only: that is benefitting themselves and their friends. The rest of the country be damned.

So we must stop this corruption of democracy before it can take hold. Protest. Resist. Demand accountability. Be American.

And impeach Donald Trump the first opportunity we get. And likely Mike Pence too. These people are un-American, angry and repressive souls determined to make people pay for their own miserable guilt and lack of real conscience. Stop the insanity in its tracks.

The fire within: Saddam and The Donald

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The world in which the dots seldom truly connect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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