The continuing saga of the fuck-ups and the fuck-yous

urlNow that the effects of Brexit are becoming real in terms of uncertainties in world financial markets, international trade and basics like where people are allowed to live, people have begun to realize what an honest-to-goodness fuck-up it actually turns out to be.

Stalwarts will long insist that Brexit is the step toward political freedom Great Britain needs to take. The Scots and many other sections of Great Britain, which itself is a union of nations, will forever disagree considering that country voted 62% to 38% to Remain in the European Union.

Flirting with Fuck Ups

Those voting for Brexit surely did not understand all the political and economic ramifications of the decision. These were the fuck-ups who drove the big fuck-up. Such is the nature of angry populism, which can lead even to fascism in the wrong political hands. Here in the United States, we’re flirting with a massive fuck-up of our own in Donald Trump, the designated nominee for President of the United States for the Republican Party.

This is a man who flaunts his failed marriages and failed businesses and dares people to challenge the perception that he’s not a massively famous fuck-up. In that respect, Donald Trump issues the world a massive Fuck You every time he shows his orange face in public. His hair is a fuck up. His speech pattern with all its perverse Yoda-like and backward braggadocio is definitely the hallmark of a habitual fuck up. He starts with his false contentions and qualifies them as he goes along.

And a Huge Fuck You

His fans (whom we must hesitate to call voters for the moment) all seem to love his Fuck You message. Former Republican politicians such as Joe Walsh, now a conservative radio host on AM 560 in Chicago, have publicly stated they would rather “blow this thing up” than let a Democrat such as Hillary Clinton win the election. Walsh and his ilk were critical of Barack Obama before the man even took office. The Republican-led Congress have behaved like a pack of massive fuck-ups for all eight years of Obama’s administration and have done nothing of any consequence except shut down the government and pass about 50 appeals to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Other than that, they’ve spent all eight years of their authoritarian rule telling the American people and Barack Obama to go Fuck Off.

Trump steps into this Fuck Your role perfectly because his “Take Back America” campaign theme cloaks the extremism of his supporters behind a bit of patriotic language. Never mind the fact that the America for which his supporters yearn is one with racist roots and based on an economic model that was gutted by the very Republican Party to which so many conservatives and angry independents claim to subscribe. All those manufacturing jobs shipped overseas and down south to Mexico by free market capitalists with globalism fever are never coming back. America has created some 11 million new jobs since Obama helped turn the economy back around, but less than 1% of those jobs have gone to people without college education.

Fucking duped

That means all those honest, hard-working Blue Collar Trump Supporters have been fucked over by the very people they claim to support. The union system in America has been trumped by a euphemistic Right To Work campaign that says Unions Are Bad, Jobs Creators Are Good. At least the national elections in which Obama won and then retained the office of President prove America still has some common sense. But the Fuck Ups still know how to win local elections where rube anger is so easily leveraged into repeat terms for Congressman and Senators selling Pro-Life as the ticket to national office.

Here in America, we may yet see a Texit if the State of Texas gathers enough Fuck You votes to secede from the Union. At least America might be freed from the fascist control of public school textbook content if that were to happen.

But again, a Texit would be a fuck-up on the order of the original Civil War, in which a small slice of controlling slaveowners convinced thousands of Confederate loyalists to go fight and die so that white people could continue to own and torture black people for profit and entertainment.

Sophisticated Fuck Ups

The people who support Donald Trump are following the same sort of instincts. Just as slaveowners were calculating fuck-ups with enough sophistication to rig the system to their own favor, and damn the consequences of human rights and equality, so has Trump played American Fuck-Ups for all they’re worth in running away with the Republican ticket.

dick-cheneyRemember that Trump comes on the heels of the biggest Fuck Up and Fuck You administration in American history. George W. Bush was a primo fuck up. He let 9/11 happen on his watch and then let psychopaths like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the like loose on the world. The Bush administration sold fear like it was bitter candy, convincing gullible Americans through lies and manipulation that there was a connection between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. And what was the Bush advice when America was shocked by the 9/11 attack? “Go out and shop.” That’s what he said.

It was all an ugly breach of public trust followed by one horrific fuck-up after the other. The Hurricane Katrina debacle and the Bush indifference to people’s suffering perfectly symbolized what would later happen to the American economy under his watch. Fuck Ups like that always lead to Fuck Yous from their authoritarian authors.

Petulant ignorance

The petulant ignorance shown by American “conservatives” in support of Bush and his torturous presidency amounted to a fuck-up of massive proportions. Yet even with the catholic brand of support for Bush and his evil bishops, there has never been much will to confess to the crimes and abuses perpetrated on the American people. Instead, we’re all told by conservatives to Look Forward rather than look back at the recent fuck ups of the past. Bush and Cheney were the dual kings of Fuck You, claiming rights to the Unitary Executive, with Bush proudly stating that his job would be “easier if I were a dictator.” They should have been tried for war crimes but Obama in a show of good will refused to pursue those actions. It would have been good for America in the long run to demonstrate how evil and corrupt those criminals really were (are) but to Obama’s credit he truly did Look Forward and has done a stellar job of leading the country despite resistance from the pack of racist fuck-ups who insist their ways are better.

And that brand of tripe is now in full evidence in support for Donald Trump.

Don’t you get it? Can’t you see the message Brexit is sending America? Don’t you understand that if you support Donald Trump, whether he is genuinely a serious candidate or simply a man thriving on a massive media campaign whose theme is Fuck You, this is not a good direction for America to travel?

If you can’t see that, then you really are a fuck up. And in that case we all have one thing to say: And that is Fuck You for being so goddamned stupid.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Are we supposed to be impressed by Republican failures?

911-terrorist-attack

An explosion rips through the South Tower of the World Trade Towers… “after the hijacked United Airlines Flight 175, which departed from Boston en route for Los Angeles, crashed into it Sept, 11, 2001. The North Tower is shown burning after American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the tower at 8:45 a.m.” But of course, many people now question this narrative. and have come to recognize this event for what it was, a symbol of Republican failure to protect of govern the nation in any effective way. 

It has been difficult since the 9/11 tragedy to get the rational attention of any Republican in America. The narrative goes like this: Everything our nation did was necessary to protect our national security and sovereignty.

Of course, the source of that narrative fails to recall that 9/11 happened under Republican watch. A Republican administration failed us miserably in translating reasonable intelligence into actionable defense.

And to make matters worse, the Bush administration took their own failures and turned them into excuses to invade Iraq, a nation that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. Thousands of soldiers gave their lives and tens of thousands more were maimed for life for reasons that changed by the week during the Iraq War.

This was a massive failure of conscience by the Republican Party, which through fear and manipulation and falsified evidence convinced hawkish Democrats to go along with the plan for imperialistic attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Collapse

Meanwhile, domestic issues such as financial regulation and infrastructure repairs were either pushed to the backburner or ignored completely as America poured trillions of unbudgeted cash into the “war” efforts. The result was nearly a complete collapse of the free-market system in America. The supposed defenders of capitalism and enterprise absolutely failed in their duty to monitor and foster a health economy.

And as if that were not enough, America failed by committing blatant abused of civil and personal rights at home and abroad. Our soldiers tortured and even killed prisoners in Iraq and in black sites around the world. All were done under the watch of the Bush administration. Meanwhile, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans while our leaders callously refused to engage and assist those in dire emergency situations. This was a brand of torture on a grand domestic scale, like waterboarding an entire city and blaming the victims for their weakness.

Without conscience

Republicans failed to govern with a conscience in the majority when they held the presidency, all of Congress and Senate, and the Supreme Court as well. Instead, they passed self-serving legislation such as Citizens United, called corporations people and pretended the Patriot Act was not a major invasion of personal privacy.

Where did the principles of the Republican Party go? Why have conservatives failed so miserably when the opportunity to govern has been laid in their lap? The answers are painful and simple. The only thing Republicans know how to do well is breed the brand of fear that helps them get elected and hold power. Beyond that, the conservative movement in America is bankrupt in ideas on how to make the nation a better place to live.

Standard issue

Oh, we all know the standard claims that conservatives love to make. Cut taxes for the jobs creators. Well, they did that and the economy crashed anyway. Conservatives also want to privatize Social Security and kill Medicare. Yet those programs are the only source of income and healthcare for millions upon millions of Americans whose long investment in the American economy is merely being repaid by the collective power of money put in trust with the government. Is that such a bad thing, that people in old age should expect to live with some source of financial security and medical protection?

Republicans seem to think so. They brand Social Security and Medicare a “failure,” but on what basis? They claim Americans can “do better” using the free market to plan for retirement and pay for medical expenses in old age.

These are lies carefully couched in political jargon. The economic crash of 2008 proved beyond doubt that no form of investment vehicle, not even the family home, is immune from the devastating cut from market forces when speculation is allowed to run rampant in the market. Some people lost their homes and their entire investment portfolios, forcing millions of retirees back into the labor force where their age and their time away from work were instantly counted against them.

This is a failure of both reason and economic sense. Because on the other end of the market there were millions of young people seeking employment and finding the labor market jammed with aggressively defensive Baby Boomers trying like hell to keep their jobs knowing that their earnings and saving might not be protection for the future.

The 2016 Election

And that brings us to the election of 2016 and the candidate the Republican Party has advanced for consideration as President of the United States. For eight years Republicans have complained that Barack Obama has ruined the economy. Yet the facts tell a different story. Every month when the reports come out there are tens of thousands of new people hired back into the workforce. Every economic indicator under the sun points to recovery for the economy. Of course the national debt and deficits are still a problem. We spent our way into a hole trying to correct the devastating actions of Bush and Cheney and their ilk. But Republicans blame Obama for these imbalances.

This worldview is divorced from the reality of massive Republican failures to govern or legislate with any effect of conscience the last eight years. Congress is supposed to pass laws and the Senate is supposed to conceive and implement positive changes for the pursuit of health and happiness according to the Constitution. Instead, both branches of government whined and moaned about Obamacare and even shut down the government in a whining attempt to get their way, and a refusal to compromise in any way.

Trump is a boil on America’s ass

alg-donald-trump-jpgThis is not an American form of government. It is despotism. So it is no coincidence that a massive failure of good judgement and conscience such as Donald Trump has ascended to the throne of the Republican Party. Conservatives have failed us for more than 40 years now. The Party of Reagan was wrong when he was in office, and it has only gotten worse as the cognitive dissonance over religion, politics, economics and civics have been bundled into one massive, ugly boil on the ass end of history.

Donald Trump is that boil. And we can either pop his white head and be done with it or let him fester into a massive infection that threatens the health of the entire nation. That’s how ugly and dire this situation really is.

But Republicans and conservatives will refuse to admit it. Many are licking the boil that is Donald Trump as if it were a sex organ, not an infection. It’s a disgusting sight to see, and people of conscience are not impressed.

Yet that’s the Republican Party of today. More concerned with the salve of power than the pain of honesty about their own failures.

On the real root and purpose of conspiracy theories

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man on the moon

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

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

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

The Kennedy assassination

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

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

The Reagan debacle

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

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

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

KKK and company

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

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

Suspicions 

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

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

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

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

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

Reasons why

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

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

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

The Cheney factor

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

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

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

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

Numbers game

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

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

What the Bible says about the human capacity for conspiracies

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

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

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

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

Reality shift

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

The weary world and Dennis Hastert

dennis-hastertThe so-called “accidental” Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has long lived on reputation of being a good old boy. He is a quiet man by nature who worked hard to bring value to his home district, which happens to cover the area where I live.

As such, and as a United States Congressman, he made appearances in his district giving talks about political doings at the state and national level. In the late 1980s I happened to be the person who booked speakers for our local Rotary Club. When it became evident Hastert was available to talk to our club, I was urged to make contact and have him come to our breakfast meeting.

Hastert was introduced by the club president and spoke about a few issues of importance at the time. George H.W. Bush was President of the United States and the post-Reagan Republican world was trying to make sense of their newfound sense of power. It wasn’t going all that well, but you’d never know from the way the party continued to talk about its fiscal and social exploits.

At the end of his talk Hastert invited our Rotary members to ask some questions. There was one issue in which I was keenly interested. I waited my turn to ask about some environmental legislation the government was considering. This was during an era when there started to be some serious blowback toward green legislation. In particular there were concerns about the economic impact of so-called environmentalists. That term had become one of derision by those on the political Right––who accused environmentalists of putting the needs of the earth before human interests. But in fact there were arguments against environmentalism from both the economic wing and religious wing of the Republican party. Fiscal conservatives claimed environmentalism was too costly for business while religious conservatives catered to a wing of Christianity that said human beings had dominion over the earth and could do whatever they wanted with it. As a result of these accusations, environmentalism was becoming one of the dividing issues between Republicans and Democrats.

Recent past

It wasn’t always that way. President Nixon, a devout Republican, had established the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) for good reason. In the early 1970s when Nixon was President, environmental pollution had turned America into a dangerous mess. Rivers caught fire from pollution and pesticides were causing species such as the bald eagle and peregrine falcon to disappear from their natural ranges. Passing laws for environmental protection was the right thing to do and a Republican thing to do dating back to Teddy Roosevelt, who led the way in establishing the National Park System.

But the arc from considerate Republican stewardship to a party more concerned with extraction than conservation was taking a hard right turn in the late 1980s. Which is perhaps why Dennis Hastert felt comfortable outwardly laughing at my sincere question about environmental legislation. He looked around the room and laughed when I brought up the subject. And people laughed with him.

I was shocked. Was I missing something? Was the environment a joke in some people’s minds? Apparently so.

Rotary redux: What goes around…

The next time Dennis Hastert was invited to our Rotary Club to speak, I was the President of the club. You can imagine that I was not so eager to have Hastert speak this time around. Yet his political stature had begun to rise, and his fans were many. While not yet Speaker of the House, the name Dennis Hastert was held in high regard. His tenure in office was growing.

But when it came time to introduce Dennis Hastert to our Rotary Club, I kept the introduction clipped and brief. “Good morning Rotary members,” I said. “Our speaker this morning is Dennis Hastert.”

No protocol. No long list of titles relative to his position in government. I skipped all that jazz. My fellow Rotary members were angry. “How could you show him such disrespect?” they demanded to know.

I explained exactly why his introduction was so brief. “He did not show me respect as a human being last time he came here to speak. And I don’t care what someone has in terms of a title in front of his name,” I responded. “Basic respect comes first. And he didn’t show it to me.”

National conduct

When Dennis Hastert ascended to the podium of national leadership I watched his conduct carefully. At one point there appeared a photo on the front cover of the Chicago Tribune. Now Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert stood proudly with a bunch of Republican leaders including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and a couple other GOP legislators signing a piece of law that essentially limited women’s rights. There they were, a gaggle of powerful white men proudly signing away the rights of half the population. It made me sick.

The ideological approach of that entire era of politicians made me suspicious of every motive they put forward. I had learned from direct experience that men like Dennis Hastert can have a dismissive approach to anyone that does not agree with their doctrine or politics. When those ideologues swept into power with the stolen election of George W. Bush in 2000, it was evident to me what would come next. Abuse of power. The Good Old Boys had control and they weren’t going to pussyfoot around trying to do what they wanted and to get what they thought they deserve.

Only their agenda repeatedly and predictably failed. Without consideration of basic human rights, the actions of Republican ideologues flout the Constitution, ignore the clear call to considerate governance and indeed, undermine respect for the American ideal around the world.

It was not just circumstance. One failure after another took place; from 9/11 to Katrina, the torturous war in Iraq to the fall of the economy. The policies of these men produced nothing but tragedy and dismissive excuses for why it was somehow not their fault. Yet you could still sometimes see the harsh expressions and catch traces of the bitter laughter on faces of men such as George W. Bush, Dennis Hastert and Donald Rumsfeld as they continued forcing their agenda on America.

Perhaps even disturbing was the lack of apparent laughter (and less a shred of compassion) from men such as Dick Cheney, whose sneering and snarling demeanor was not even fit for public consumption lest the public actually catch on to the nasty nature of the men operating behind the scenes.

Perhaps the only thing that can make a mercenary laugh is the paycheck they collect for accomplishing their task, and then they only share that smile and laugh among associates who are “in on the joke.” That certainly seemed to be the case with Cheney, whose business interests in Halliburton suddenly made billions from the war in Iraq. But the cynicism seemed pervasive in all branches of government it seemed, especially the likes of Justice Antonin Scalia, whose title of “Supreme Court Justice” seemed almost ironic as he dispensed clearly partisan rulings and opinions that seemed to fly in the face of Constitutional common sense. Meanwhile he laughed off his critics.

Damned Dems

Sure, there are interesting types among the Democrats as well. People love to point to the likes of President Bill Clinton as an example of a corrupt and laughing politician. But how ironic it is that the three Republican Speakers of the House who pushed for Clinton’s impeachment for lying about his sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky turned out to have sexual secrets and philandering histories of their own?

Clinton admittedly was an embarrassment to America in his sexual dalliances, but he was certainly not the first or last President or powerful politician caught with his hands down someone else’s pants. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had his girlfriends on the side yet found the time and courage to lead America out of the Depression and through the massive travails of World War II. JFK was another Democrat whose lust for women was well known yet he also seemed to transcend his personal failures with a will for social justice and equal rights. He envisioned the space program that beat the Soviets in putting a man on the moon. And what killed Kennedy? A secret cabal of hateful CIA agents and mobster laughing into their collars as they looked the other way while the motorcade came to a stop and a hail of bullets caromed from every direction.

The same hateful secret government killed Martin Luther King, Jr., another womanizer it turns out, the very same way. Assassinations in the name of secret ideology.

Forgiveness and gay thoughts

All this begs the question: What should be forgiven in our public figures? What is the acceptable balance between kept secrets and privacy? Does it matter what people do in the bedroom if they otherwise conduct themselves well in public and obey the law?

That’s where Dennis Hastert and some others run aground. So vital are their kept secrets to their public persona they cannot afford to let those secrets out. So they move money around and make payments to risky past relationships to keep them quiet.

In Hastert’s case there is the double Republican indemnity of having possibly engaged in a same-sex relationship. That’s considered a political liability among social conservatives, who would rather deny the fact of homosexuality as a normal state of human consciousness than accept the social change of same-sex marriage and other equal rights for gay people. So it wasn’t just that Hastert had a sex scandal in his past. It was allegedly a gay sex scandal, quite possibly with a minor, that made vital for him to obscure his past and maintain his image as a devout Republican.

And how sad yet necessary it all is because people cannot understand, accept or be accepted for who they are. So they create this fashioned image of who they think they have to be. Then they engage in every possible ruse to protect that fake reality.

How liberating it will be one day when the stigmas attached to homosexuality are removed. Then people can live without being restricted by their sexual orientation. It still would not excuse the potential actions of pedophiles who take advantage of minors for sexual purposes, for that is a distinct and separate issue from homosexuality. The two are not necessarily linked.

Key learnings

It seems in the end they all have their secrets, these politicians. So what can we learn from how they conduct themselves? And how can America protect itself from the hypocrisy evident in the conduct of men and women of power who claim to represent the best of America and morality while carrying out thefts of public trust and treasure?

The answer is that we should never accept the public face of politics. Ever. Even the so-called Great Communicator Ronald Reagan, who presented himself as the affable father of morality and American virtue, let his administration’s actions spin out of control with the Iran-Contra affair. At least Reagan stepped forward to confess, which is more than men like George W. Bush have had the courage to do even though his minions led a military extortion and torture regime in Iraq.

Just remember that even when you ask relevant questions of individuals like these, they may still be laughing at you.  They may appear smug and proficient in the ways of politics, but we continue to learn that so many of these people are hiding dark secrets in their past and present. They laugh at you because they don’t want you to know these secrets, and don’t believe you have a right to do so. So they laugh it off, as if you’re the stupid one. And if they get enough power and media on their side, they indeed appear to be in control of everything they do. But dark secrets have a way or emerging in ways that the most protective over souls cannot imagine.

It is often the case that the repressed choose to persecute and prosecute the things they hate most in themselves. That’s why we find religious zealots hollering from the pulpit about sex while they conduct illicit sexual affairs with their own parishioners. It’s why we find hardline politicians passing anti-gay legislation even as they engage in sex with secretly gay lovers or prostitutes.

All these ruses are an elaborate attempt at self-denial and protection. It is the also the most common ruse of power that those who want to play along should always be in on the joke. So there are even secret societies that create these dark secrets and hold people hostage their whole lives on threat that they will be exposed if they ever tell on another person. It’s a sick, dark world that exists apart from the honest way you and I want to live.

Jokesters and justice

We’ve seen what happens in history when the jokesters are exposed as frauds. They grow angry and seek to punish. That’s why Herod called for Jesus. He wanted to either witness the real secret of power or else make a mockery of that which threatened him.

Often this pattern of hypocritical rage gets carried to its illogical conclusion. People cry out to the Lord, “Where is they justice?” But God sees the spectrum of human foible in a fuller context. He expects us to be wiser than to trust angry fools so long, and to let them rule over us.

That is the weary world God wants us to overcome. Men like Dennis Hastert start out by laughing in our faces as if our questions were all a joke, and as if accountability were a humorous fiction.

It can be tiring to be vigilant toward such dismissive leaders who lie to us and laugh in our faces. They keep coming at us, and with increasingly powerful fervor driven by media that echo and amplify their voices. The laughter of their ideology drowns out the earnest inquiries of the curious and sincere. A certain madness takes over, and people begin siding with the madness because it seems like the only sane thing to do given its popularity and its promises.

But you should know that this madness is not the righteous way. These were the same voices that yelled “Crucify Him!” and laughed and scowled at a man nailed to the cross, whose sacrifice was intended to instruct on the ways of truth in the face of power and mockery.

The weary world accepts that such ends are inevitable, that no matter what we do, tomorrow is the another day for crucifixion of hope, love and political honesty. We see it every day, and the weary world and Dennis Hastert are illustrating the dangers of blind trust and mockery of those who are not in on the secret, which is that all human beings are flawed, and no amount of cynical laughter and power-brokering politics can hide that fact.

CPAC, Republicans and aggressive stupidity in politics and religion

FlagWaiver

Aggressive stupidity is wearing us all out.

Another round of CPAC madness is nearly through in America. A parade of Republican zealots highlights the speaker list, with Grover Nordquist standing proudly at the front of the line proclaiming that any Republican who agrees to tax increases of any sort “are rat heads in a Coke bottle. They damage the brand for everyone.”

How is it that Nordquist fails to see himself as the rat in the bottleneck of Republican common sense?

And how interesting that another CPAC attendee, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana–himself a possible presidential candidate in 2016–once said of Republicans, “We’ve got to stop being the stupid party.”

Jindal has been castigated for that remark, of course. It is not in the nature of conservatives to admit they might be wrong or stupid about anything.

What wrong looks like

Even when proven desperately wrong by enaction of their own nation-devastating (America and Iraq, to name a couple) policies during the horrid debacle of the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney years, Republicans would not find any ground for confession that their whole ideology might just be aggressively stupid. Even when conservatives ruled all three wings of government, things didn’t go right. Bush racked up a trillion dollar bill for his wars of choice that America can’t pay off. We’re still borrowing to pay $2B a month to mess around in Afghanistan. So what do Republicans do? They point fingers at social insurance policies such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as the problem as if saving older people from destitution and medical disaster costs a nation more than war. 

Bad habits

Aggressive stupidity is a bad habit that can be fixed. But it’s hard, like shaking alcoholism or more accurately, a gambling addiction. Aggressive stupidity is a gambling addiction, to be precise. You are gambling that your brand of stubborn ideology, if backed by sufficient bets on the table, will win the day. Of course that’s been America’s global defense policy for decades. We now spend more on defense than the next 17 nations combined, and in many ways are less secure than ever. Yet here was Mitt Romney standing before the CPAC and insisting that Republicans put a powerful US military at the top of their agenda. “Do whatever you can to keep America strong, to keep America prosperous and free and the most powerful nation on earth.” Rah rah Mitt. That’s what got you where you are, buddy. A loser claiming you had all the right ideas. 

For perspective, that statement by Romney pretty much fulfills everything President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned Americans about when he cited the evils of the military/industrial complex as our worst enemy. The idea that we cannot be free without killing everything in sight is ludicrous, expensive and costly to the American spirit.

Killing ourselves in the name of the Constitution

It was recently learned that more Americans have been killed in their own country by gun violence than in all the wars ever fought by the nation. Yet we are locked in a battle over Second Amendment rights that Republicans use as a blunderbuss to cow a bunch of ignorant, one-issue voters into thinking Democrats are going to take away their guns. And when reasonable gun control laws are proposed, such as required background checks, Republicans run for cover behind the blazing guns policies of the NRA, who could think of nothing better to do in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut shootings than to stick a bunch of armed guards in every school in America, and force teachers to get gun training. And to arm the teachers.

That is aggressive stupidity. One feels no shame in calling out stupidity in such circumstances. There is no risk of insult when the stupidity is so glaring in so many cases. Republicans are not stupid people, although even the wealthiest were targets of the incisive wit of one Mark Twain, who warned us, “All is takes is ignorance and confidence, and success is sure.” The humorist knew that aggressive stupidity really can win the day.

Elections versus selections

And when Republicans lose as they did in the 2016 selection (it wasn’t an election, but a selection of Obama against aggressive Republican stupidity) the party can think of nothing other to do than find a way to cheat the system. So Republican governors are gerrymandering ways to stifle Democratic voters any way they can.

The conservative party is shrinking like a set of testicles in a cold wind. Their policies appeal mostly to rich white voters, who are aging, as well as the ignorantly disenfranchised brand of gun-toters and a huge block of fearfully religious bigots who can’t seem to understand that their own Bible contradicts everything their party stands for.

Coming out to common sense

God Bless Republican Senator Rob Portman, who came out in favor of same-sex marriage once he learned that his own son is gay. “I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, personally, I think this is something that we should allow people to do, to get married, and to have the joy and stability of marriage that I’ve had for over 26 years,” he told CNN. “That I want all of my children to have, including our son, who is gay.”

The Bible is wrong about homosexuality, just as it is wrong about slavery and hundreds of other former laws of religion that no one ever follows. Yet biblical literalists foment their brand of aggressive stupidity toward gay people with tired old contentions that homosexuality is a sin against God, and that being gay is a choice, a lifestyle, and to one all should be opposed. The Republican Party has embraced this brand of aggressive stupidity for years because it wins them votes, gains them power and makes them feel all righteous and true.

Until one of their own finds out they have a gay child. Even the Heart of Darkness Dick Cheney admitted that he loves his daughter and can’t persecute gays any longer as a result.

Not so cool

As for Portman’s position, Republicans were aggressively cool to his very personal admission that his life has changed for the better in accepting his son for who he really is. Politics trumps all other notions of sanity, you see. As quoted in a New York Times story, “A spokesman for Speaker John A. Boehner, who is also from Ohio, said Friday that while Mr. Boehner “respects” Mr. Portman’s position, “the speaker continues to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

That’s a form of aggressive stupidity, Mr. Boehner. Because if we took a certain pronunciation of your name quite literally, we would be forced to believe that you are actually a turgidly erect member of Congress that has no conscience. Well what do you know. It turns out that some forms of aggressive stupidity do prove true in practice. Two can play the game Republicans like to play.

Pope Francis the contradictor

We’re even forced to consider the aggressive stupidity of the new Catholic Pope Francis I, who embraces the poor but opposes birth control. That so-called “position” makes no sense if you spend a moment considering how overpopulation vexes the entire world.

But what do you expect from a religious brand that demands its priests to be celibate, then denies their policies have any consequence when a scourge of child sex abuse infests the church. Birth control dictates are ignored by more than 90% of its members, some polls report, yet the church and its patriarchal brand of aggressive stupidity keeps on rolling with a pope that stands by the position that spending sperm in a condom is a bad thing.

Some history…

Well, has the Catholic Church ever been wrong before? They almost killed Galileo for sticking up for the scientific perspective on matters universal. Then there were the Crusades, and the Inquisition, and for a while there, an insistence that the theory of evolution is wrong.

Aggressive stupidity runs through the most powerful organizations on earth. It is the hallmark of psychopathy, the aggressive will to dominate and coerce and kill in order to have your way, and have it now.

I’ve got mine and I hate yours

It’s the “I’ve got mine and I hate yours” brand of politics that is gutting America. Yet here is the CPAC closing comment. “The popular media narrative is that this country has shifted away fro conservative ideals, as evidenced by the last two elections,” said Texas Governor Rick Perry, who when asked couldn’t seem to remember what programs he’d like to cut if he were president, “That might be true if Republicans had actually nominated conservative candidates in 2008 and 2012.”

The all-time king of aggressive stupidity, however is Rick Santorum. The man combines both dunderheaded conservative politics and a conservative catholicism that forces him to spew hate while pointing fingers at Americans who don’t think his way. He had this to say about why Republicans are failing so miserably at convincing Americans their way is the right way, “Face it, the left can always promise more stuff, and make is sound like they care more, because they make it easier for Americans by providing stuff for them, through government programs, paid by by somebody else’s money.”

Jesus loves you Rick. But he would tell you that you’re an insane hypocrite. Just like the rest of the aggressively stupid people who run your party and elections by running lies and manipulations up the flagpoles of country and God.

The Godly storm of consternation on Republican losses

Did Republican wishes get blown away by God? Painting by Christopher Cudworth

For more than 15 years, my writing partner (www.werunandride.wordpress.com) Monte Wehrkamp and I have exchanged emails over politics, religion and modern culture.

We talked our way through 8 years of a Bush Presidency that shot forth religious triumphalism whenever it did anything, good or bad, on America’s behalf. You could almost feel America sag under the weight of those heavy claims.

Patriot Preachers

Over the years we’ve listened to various TV preachers complain about the supposed downfall of America and the many publicly laments about its causes, especially those they judge to be morally reprehensible. The Reverend Jerry Falwell and the Reverend Pat Robertson in their prime moments have both claimed to be the mouthpiece of God on matters of religious consternation such as abortion, gay rights and evolution, to name a few. These issues they indict as signs of a morally depraved society, therefore deserving of a good whack on the coast by a hurricane sent from God, or an earthquake or two.

 

Does it work both ways? 

So let’s take them at their word, for a moment, and suppose that God really does use natural disasters to correct moral wrongs in a nation. Who has he thwarted most profoundly, and most recently? Here was my friend Monte’s take on the situation, sent to me via email this past Friday:

“There’s a lot of handwringing going on by Republicans, wondering how it was they lost an election they so thought they were going to win.

Some think Romney did a poor job of letting us get to know him, the person. There have been the typical accusations of Liberal media bias by everyone besides Fox News. Then of course the blame might lie in the conflicting messages regarding immigration, reproductive rights, gender equality, and homosexual unions, and what Americans make of the Republican position on those issues. 

But I think the reason for the Romney loss may be more obvious than that. To the party the tries to embrace “God” more than the Democrats (and heck, even the Taliban, for that matter), I would like to suggest that God, Hissownself, is the reason Romney lost.

Do not forget that the Republican Convention was washed out in the early days by a hurricane named Isaac, who rose from the sea and flooded asunder the introduction of Romney, the candidate. The subsequent rearranging of the program for the TV audience meant the highlight of the convention fell upon a senile, rambling, incoherent, spaghetti western actor talking to an empty chair. That certainly sounded like an act of God. Or someone talking to God. Only God did not appear to be listening. 

And then, during the critical election period, another hurricane – nay, a super-frankenstorm  named Sandy roared up the coast and threw fury and water upon all those Republicans who would have cast votes for Romney, were they not cowering in shelters or their homes.

So in the beginning, and at the end, God’s wrath upon Republicans was evident. He sent the Holy Spirit in the form of Isaac and Sandy to do His bidding, and that was to secure President Obama’s second term. Oh, and keep a Democratic majority in the Senate. Knock off a couple House seats as well.

The Republicans should stop for a moment and think about that. I await Pat Robertson’s comments regarding God’s wrath upon the Republicans and why God has felt it necessary to choose a black, socialist Muslim from Kenya over the all-American, magic-underweared, private schooled, Bain Capitalized, Wall Street annointed, 5-point-planned, Tea-Party vetted former Governor, Mitt Romney?”

Good questions all. The answers don’t seem to be clear even to the supposedly God-fearing announcers on Fox News, who certainly appeared like they’d seen a Holy Ghost of some sort when their own station called the race for Obama. Shock and Awe came home to roost.

God beats the crap out of Karl Rove

Karl Rove seemed the most stunned of all, as if the nickname Turd Blossom given to him by former President George W. Bush has literally come true, right there in his pants. Rove spouted excuses like diarrhea, a political scoundrel exposed by the prodigious amounts of closeted money he spent to win the election, only to lose to big, and lose often. And what did Rove have to say about Hurricane Sandy?  To quote the Turd Blossom himself, this is what he said:

“The president was also lucky. This time, the October surprise was not a dirty trick but an act of God. Hurricane Sandy interrupted Mr. Romney’s momentum and allowed Mr. Obama to look presidential and bipartisan.”

Even the candidate himself, Mitt Romney, a devout man by all reports, seemed confounded by God’s abandonment of his campaign in his hour of need. As a story on thinkprogress.org shared, “Mitt Romney reportedly told donors at a Wednesday breakfast that Hurricane Sandy hurt his momentum.”

Thinkprogress.org also reports that MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews also credited the storm with “possibilities for good politics,” though he later apologized.

Rove and Romney never went quite so far as to suggest that the so-called ‘act of God’ in Hurricane Sandy was in fact intentional. But by the line of reasoning given by so many other Republican leaders claiming that God is on their side, perhaps nothing the Republicans could have done would have helped them win this election. The handprints of God Himself were all over this race, dumping buckets of rain and throwing gale-force winds at everything the Republicans did.

Getting real

Honestly, none of us rational types really thinks God threw those storms at the Republicans. A mature faith knows that it is our response and support for each other in the face of such threats that truly defines the kingdom of God. What we witnessed instead was the will of an American people suspicious and fed up with  the false righteousness of Republicans convinced they can do no wrong. Because the Romney campaign barely disguised the fact that they would double down on the policies implemented by George W. Bush, tossing our weight and defense budget around in foreign policy while gutting the help and human services of domestic policies back home. Everyone sensed that this was a far worse prescription for disaster than the organization challenges of figuring out how our health care system can work more compassionately and efficiently. That and taxing the rich were the only two things the Republicans had to complain about leading up to November 6, 2012. They knew in their guts their own policies were the cause for the Great Recession and resultant slow growth of the economy.

So it really was like God calling their bluff on the Big Lie that Republicans offered the better alternative. Sorry GOP boys and girls. You were not David to Obama’s Goliath. More like Noah being puked out of the whale. You have not learned your lesson yet. Your skin is still bleached white and you have to learn to pay attention to God’s real orders, like loving your enemies, before you’ll be allowed to inherit the kingdom of God here on earth. Which you call America.

It certainly is interesting to note from a biblical perspective that very few Republicans have offered to don the sackcloth and engage in real repentance before the Old Testament God they like to enlist whenever it suits their political aims. Taken at their own word, it would appear that the latter day Republicans only believe in a God of justice when that God abides by their politically selfish desires.

But as they recently learned, that kind of God is tough to rely upon. Especially in an election year.