unCivil War 2016

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, “Henry V”)


From Newsweek:
Right-Wing Extremists Are a Bigger Threat to America Than ISIS
By Kurt Eichenwald, in the 2-12-16 issue

Before we start, I would like to point out that the author, Kurt Eichenwald, is an epileptic and the journalist who was targeted by extremists and sent a video specifically designed to trigger an epileptic seizure. In other words, someone tried to hurt him via e-mail with the technical equivalent of anthrax. (Seizures can kill. From the CDC: Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy ) He also receives hate mail attacking him, his family and their home, as well as the fact that he is Jewish. He refuses to stop writing and has chosen to keep on educating us about the problems as he sees them.

Onward.

I am writing this with only 3 weeks left to the election and believe me, I’m counting the days down. I am actively avoiding political news–I don’t seek it out and if it shows up on my timeline, I may read it but I am no longer making minor wall o’texts explaining my view about whatever new atrocity comes out of the GOP camp. I want to be informed, not inflamed. So when the link above showed up, I read it but without any real surprise. It just confirmed my thoughts about the subject.

If you don’t want to click on the link, let me give you the short story: “…the right-wing militants who, since 2002, have killed more people in the United States than jihadis have. In that time, according to New America, a Washington think tank, Islamists launched nine attacks that murdered 45, while the right-wing extremists struck 18 times, leaving 48 dead.” This does not include Timothy McVeigh, also an anti-government extremist, whose attack in 1995 killed 168 people.

Also from the article: ” These Americans thrive on hate and conspiracy theories, many fed to them by politicians and commentators who blithely blather about government concentration camps and impending martial law and plans to seize guns and other dystopian gibberish, apparently unaware there are people listening who don’t know it’s all lies. These extremists turn to violence—against minorities, non-Christians, abortion providers, government officials—in what they believe is a fight to save America. And that potential for violence is escalating every day.”

I am NOT going to try to list all of the times that Donald Trump has lied to his supporters and actively encouraged them to take up arms and fight against the government. The term is “sedition” and I believe that he will be the main reason if the “deplorables”, to borrow a term, do mount an armed insurrection. If he loses, as it appears he might, he would not care about bringing down the Federal government in order to assuage his anger and regain “face”. (The Chinese term for pride or appearance of power.) Narcissists are like that. He is a perfect textbook example–and in fact, some psychology/psychiatry professors are using him to explain Narcissism to their students.

There are places that will provide you with that list of his words. Keith Olbermann (The Closer, on GQ online) talked about more than 170 of them, several weeks ago. I’m sure there’s at least 10 more now. Trump is feeding his supporters exactly the kinds of things they want to hear: the government is essentially crooked, the election is rigged (for HRC, not for him, of course), they will have to give away their rights to “those others”–blacks, LGBTQ, uppity women. They are “what will make America great again”, ignoring the facts that we are actually still pretty great. We are not at the edge of some dystopian apocalypse, there are still jobs to be had, and if the government is that crooked…well, that’s another blog. And Trump’s new campaign strategy is specifically to suppress voting. Excuse me, I need a moment to put my brain back on its track. A candidate, for the highest office in our land, is actually trying to keep people from voting. His suggestion that the election is rigged is particularly heinous and strikes at the very heart of “government by the people”. Our voting system is actually very free of fraud, as shown in this:
ufo_voter

So there were 3600 TIMES more UFO sightings and almost 34 times more deaths by lightning than there was voter fraud. Thirteen credible cases of voter fraud in 649 MILLION votes cast. I think it’s a fair conclusion to say that voter fraud is NOT a “thing” in our elections. We do not need to fear that our elections are “rigged” within the voting population. Is there some “rigging” elsewhere? I’d say yes, such as gerrymandering our districts to increase the votes for their candidates. (For a detailed analysis, see Princeton author Sam Wang in his 2012 paper) I’d also agree that there was rigging with the whole “hanging chad” issue in the 2000 Presidential race–and not in the ballot forms themselves, but in the recount. (And if not rigging, then some serious finagling.)

So here we are, fall of 2016, in the midst of one of the most incredible, most disgusting races for President that I think our country has ever seen. I still can’t decide if we should decry the Republican candidate for his racist, homophobic, misogynist, and other disenfranchising, dehumanizing views, or thank him for showing us just how much of our country still clings to those ideas. The cockroaches have had a flashlight shown on them, as it were.

This isn’t a new group, this isn’t a modern uprising.

From the long view, standing back and looking not only at today and the near future, but also back to the origins of our country, it seems pretty clear that those who would try to overthrow our Government have tried at least twice before–with the War between the States (Civil War–what an effing misnomer; was is never civil–The War of “Northern Aggression”, whatever) AND the refusal to sign the Declaration of Independence unless slavery was kept in. They may not live in the “Deep South” any more, but the mindset is the same.

What is one of our greatest strengths is also a bit of a problem child–we have extreme diversity, and part of our diversity were the extremists of another country. Remember, GA began as a penal colony. Religious persecution, lack of opportunities (for jobs or for living), famines, and the poor fleeing–or serving as indentured servants–onerous debt laws are just some of the reasons we had immigrants to our shores. They came from every walk of life, for every reason, to the New Land. And America gave this promise, found at the bottom of our Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

We ARE the “wretched refuse”. As Bill Murray says in the movie “Stripes”, we’ve been kicked out of every country in Europe. And some of the very characteristics that kept us alive and helped us succeed are the ones in play now, albeit in extremis. The idea that one can be whatever is possible, that the opportunities are plenty, that we have a say in our government to the point where the government answers to the people. (Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work. Don’t blame me if it doesn’t.)

So we have this group of people, people whose ancestors argued about how the new country was going to run…who waited a mere 90 years before trying to create their own country where they could keep their status quo, which included the denial of basic human rights to an entire portion of their population. We now have generations of people who are so blindly proud of a vile heritage, one that they actually take pride in…and who truly believe that they are somehow outside of the Federal system.

Most of them don’t even really understand what they are longing for…for every grand plantation the South can show off, there were many, many more small farms, with the white “massa” working right alongside of his one slave because working together was the only way to make a living for all of them. A return to the days of plantations and Simon Legree is not possible because it was never real. It’s just an ugly fairy tale. And it was a fairy tale even in the days it existed.

The only people who lived that idyllic life were white men of property and education. It does appear that modern white males are the ones pushing to return to the days of owning slaves, sipping mint juleps on the porch, those days when they were the unchallenged dominant–and dominating–force. Those days when their word was the first and last law on their own lands, and when it came time to vote on government at every level, theirs was the only voice that spoke.

Acknowledging this highly idealized view of the “glorious South” — even for those who are from the Midwest states — we also have to add the realities of their situations. Many of them are poor, un- or under-educated; the farmers who count on the soil — and Federal Grants to help them, because farming is not answerable to laws, only to Nature — are being bought out by Big Agra. Where there used to be many farms, growing a variety of things, we now have millions of acre of corn.

There are quite a few members of this group who rely on the government’s social services, either as food stamps, disability benefits or welfare. They apparently see no irony in wanting to bring down the very system that sustains them — and perhaps anger at having to rely on the government, the faceless, impersonal government, is a reason why they are ready for things to change.

However.

I understand there are many reasons why someone would become a right-wing extremist. To our collective shame, there seems to be only one major reason: to prevent the equal rights for anyone who is not white, and preferably a white male. They seem to feel that “equal rights” are a “zero sum” contest, where one person wins and the other loses. All, or nothing at all. This is simply NOT true. The white (men) will not lose any rights they have had. They will not become the new “blacks” or any other group that has been denied rights. But the united power of white domination will be diluted to a point where they will no longer dictate policy and make laws that favor only them. When they scream about losing rights, what they are really doing is have a temper tantrum that they can’t automatically win and by playing only their previously rigged game.

It is not right, in any society as homogeneous as our is, for any one group to have the majority of power over the rest of the population–and at every level, not just within the government. We were established as a democracy, with the government for, by and of the people. The people were explicitly given the power to make sure that the government kept this covenant with them. If it didn’t, it was their duty, as the people, to change the government. This meant even to the point of removing the entire government and establishing a totally new government which would then answer to the people. But “the people” in that context means the entire population–again, not just one small group of disgruntled citizens. And the warning was also given that it was better to deal with a government that had some problems but was salvageable,rather than chucking the whole thing out to possibly end up with something worse.

Maybe our Federal government has failed the folks who are now getting more and more extreme in their responses. We’re seeing very public showing of “thumbing the nose at the Feds”, with the stand-off at the Bundy Ranch and the illegal occupation of Malheur Wildlife Refuge. We’re having more and more bombings and killings perpetrated by those who do identify with the right-wing, who are trying to “take America back”. The kettle is already at a boil. If the election results are not what they want, chances are good that the lid will blow off and people will die.

I cannot imagine being President and having to call the military to subdue your own population. We’re Americans. We don’t do things like that. Using the military to subdue the civilians is the tactic of dictators and “President for Life” leaders. Even in our own Civil War, the war was fought between the soldiers for each side. And when General Sherman “Marched to the Sea”, he did not kill civilians as he decimated their homes and land. All he took was their ability to wage war but not their lives. Considering the predominance of fundamental Christianity and its attendant mindset within the military, they might not fight against the revolution but join with them.

Oh yes. Fundamental Christianity. I will try to keep this part brief. Having come from a family that prides itself on its Southern heritage, I have the background to make some observations.

Many, if not most, fundamental religions, Christianity included, have a very strict hierarchy, whereby the Bible and perhaps God Himself speak to the pastor, who then interprets the message to the congregation. This creates an atmosphere of simply accepting what you are told, no questions allowed unless they are the “right” questions, along the lines of “How do I get to serve?”. Many of the fundamental Christians are hereditary members, with 2 or more generations attending services together, and for all their lives. I personally attended church with my parents and my grandparents for many years.

Having been introduced to absolute obedience from a very young age, with a family tradition of “Father Knows Best” and he only defers to the pastor, who only defers to God…means that there is a population of what we call “sheeple”–those who blindly follow without understanding why they do so. “Being Saved” is never a choice but an inevitable ritual in the life of the a child within the fundamental church. They are people who need to be told what to do, who need to be led by a father figure to the Promised Land, whatever their concept of that may be.

The male dominance of their lives would explain why so many of them cannot, let alone will not, vote for a woman in the Supreme Top Job. They simply cannot fathom it. It’s a concept outside of their ken. So when a man stands up and says that the woman running for that office is evil, a liar, corrupt–they are more than ready to believe it, all the way to their toes. And of course “she” would try to rig the election; after all, Eve tempted Adam with the apple and led him into sin. <sarcasm font>Women are by nature devious creatures and need to be kept in line by the men who own them. I mean, by their fathers and then their husbands.<end sarcasm font>

There’s also the infamous injunction from Paul the Apostle which says that “women are not to be over men” and “they are to remain silent in the (church)”. Which begs the question: how many of the women who are involved in right-wing extremism really understand what they are protesting against? Do they really choose it, or do they just accept the Word of Man?

I do not understand how anyone can hate, can choose to hate, any one else, let alone an entire subsection of our population–or multiple subsections. Even with the despair of poverty, the hopelessness of employment beyond a certain level (based on personal skills and education), I do not understand how violence becomes the answer–and apparently without too much consideration of any other form of change. I do not understand these things, but I can see how they might drive someone to use any means to change their situation. So who’s fault is it that we have this portion of our citizens at a point where they believe that violence is the solution? How do we reach out to them and try to offer alternatives? Can we even reach out–it’s almost impossible to change the mind of someone who KNOWS their version of the truth to be The Truth, no questions asked.

As with any problem that deals with people, there are no simple answers. But it does seem very possible that we will have more extremists, not less, if the election goes to HRC. And for that, we can blame the Republican candidate with his propaganda and inciting statements and lies.

We need to prepare for the revolution, because the right-wing extremists certainly are.

 

 

 

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Why We Are So Afraid, 15 Years After the 9-11 Attacks?

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, “Henry V”)
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I walked into the Facebook world this morning to be greeted by a posting that absolutely qualifies as a “Complicated Conversation” and knew that I wanted to share it here.

It starts with a short explanation from a poster in a group that I belong to and that is where we shall start:

“Advisory: I’m about to use one or two NSFW words. Steel yourselves.
Regular readers know I frequently repost comments from retired Navy Master Chief Jim Wright.
He wrote a 9-11 post this morning that I set aside to consider later whether to repost since I wasn’t coffee’d up enough yet to decide if it fit the tone of the day I’m trying to go with.
Well, I’ve just learned that decision was taken out of my hands. Because the Facebook standards police bots have taken it down (which usually means they’ve been complaint-bombed by the right wing social media patrols).
Fortunately, since I was undecided I had left a browser tab open with Jim’s post. Which I now copy and paste below.
I strongly encourage you to repost, or copy and paste yourselves. Because fuck you pseudo-patriots, that’s why.
Credit Jim Wright (https://www.facebook.com/Stonekettle):
~~~~~~
You’re expecting some kind of obligatory 9-11 post, aren’t you?
Here it is, but you’re not gonna like it.
15 years ago today 19 shitheads attacked America.
They killed 3000 of us.
And then … America got its revenge for 9-11.
Yes we did. Many times over. We killed them. We killed them all. We killed their families. We killed their wives and their kids and all their neighbors. We killed whole nations that weren’t even involved just to make goddamned sure. We bombed their cities into rubble. We burned down their countries.
They killed 3000 of us, we killed 300,000 of them or more.
8000 of us came home in body bags, but we got our revenge. Yes we did.
We’re still here. They aren’t.
We win. USA! USA! USA!
Right?
You goddamned right. We. Win.
Except…
Every year on this day we bath in the blood of that day yet again. We watch the towers fall over and over. It’s been 15 goddamned years, but we just can’t get enough. We’ve just got to watch it again and again.
It’s funny how we never show those videos of the bombs falling on Baghdad today. Or the dead in the streets of Afghanistan. We got our revenge, but we never talk about that today. No, we just sit and watch the towers fall yet again.
Somewhere out there on the bottom of the sea are the rotting remains of the evil son of bitch who masterminded the attack. It took a decade, but we hunted him down and put a bullet in his brain. Sure. We got him. Right? That’s what we wanted. that’s what our leaders promised us, 15 years ago today.
And today those howling the loudest for revenge shrug and say, well, yeah, that. That doesn’t matter, because, um, yeah, the guy in the White House, um, see, well, he’s not an American, he’s the enemy see? He’s not doing enough. So, whatever. What about that over there? And that? And…
Yeah.
15 years ago our leaders, left and right, stood on the steps of the Capitol and gave us their solemn promise to work together, to stand as one, for all Americans.
How’d that promise work out?
How much are their words worth? Today, 15 years later?
It’s 15 years later and we’re STILL afraid. We’re still terrorized. Still wallowing in conspiracy theories and peering suspiciously out of our bunkers at our neighbors. Sure we won. Sure we did. We became a nation that tortures our enemies — and our own citizens for that matter. We’re a nation of warrantless wiretaps and rendition and we’ve gotten used to being strip searched in our own airports. And how is the world a better place for it all?
And now we’re talking about more war, more blood.
But, yeah, we won. Sure. You bet.
Frankly, I have had enough of 9-11. Fuck 9-11. I’m not going to watch the shows. I’m not going to any of the memorials. I’m not going to the 9-11 sales at Wal-Mart. I don’t want to hear about 9-11. I for damned sure am not interested in watching politicians of either party try to out 9-11 each other. I’m tired of this national 9-11 PTSD. I did my bit for revenge, I went to war, I’ll remember the dead in my own time in my own way.
I’m not going to shed a damned tear today.
We got our revenge. Many times over, for whatever good it did us.
I’m going to go to a picnic and enjoy my day. Enjoy this victory we’ve won.
I suggest you do the same.”

I’ll give you a moment to absorb that.

I agree with this post. Wholeheartedly. This worship of 9-11 is a ploy to keep us afraid, to keep us in the state of terror, so that we will go along with the war plans the MIC (Military Industrial Complex) has so that it will continue to generate revenue. War has become an industry, with corporate interest taking priority over common sense and sane people’s desire for no more war. So we are literally bombarded with the pictures of that terrible day, which keeps our PTSD / fear / terror alive and kicking.

I’m not going to get into whether I agree with our continued “boots on ground” in the Middle East. I served 4 years in the USAF, during a time when there was no war. I would have gone into combat if allowed (this was in the early 1980’s) but fortunately, the situation never came up. As a sane person, I abhor war. I consider it to be one of the worst ideas we ever came up with. I am especially concerned about the increasing technology–and the lessening human contact between enemies. It’s already become more like playing a video game than actually killing someone. (Drones, “smart” bombs, etc) I realize this sounds like I don’t agree with the “boots on ground”…but what I have just said about war is just that, about war. Military decisions are not always right, but they are followed out. I stand as a comrade with those soldiers who are over there, putting their lives on the line, doing their duty.

A quick “Google” search will give you the numbers for the costs of making war an industry. I’ve opted for pie charts, rather than lists of those numbers. You don’t have to understand high finance to get it; think of these pie charts as pies, with the wedges representing the pieces of the pie that are handed out.
First pie: the often quoted, but wrong, explanation that our defense takes “57% of the budget”:
wrongiechart

Our second chart shows the actual portioning of the entire budget:

adjustedpiechart

Please note the terms “mandatory” and “discretionary”. As with anyone’s budget, the US has bills it MUST pay before using “leftover” money to cover everything else. Defense/Military ends up being about 16% of the overall pie. So let’s remove the mandatory spending. That will take out the bills that must be paid and leave the rest of the budget to make into a new pie, called “Discretionary spending”, as this:

defensespending

“By far, the biggest category of discretionary spending is spending on the Pentagon and related military programs. Examples of other well-known programs paid for by discretionary spending include the early childhood education program Head Start (included in Housing & Community), Title I grants to disadvantaged schools and Pell grants for low-income college students (Education), food assistance for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), training and placement for unemployed people provided by Workforce Investment Boards (in Social Security, Unemployment and Labor), and scientific research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF), among many others.”
(From: National Priorities)

“In fiscal year 2015, military spending is projected to account for 54 percent of all federal discretionary spending, a total of $598.5 billion. Military spending includes: all regular activities of the Department of Defense; war spending; nuclear weapons spending; international military assistance; and other Pentagon-related spending.”
(From : National Priorities)

One more pie chart, this time with the actual dollar amount for each slice of the discretionary spending pie:

dollaramounts

The discretionary budget for last year was 1.11 TRILLION dollars. The military got 54%, or 598.5 Billion (or 598,500,000,000). Everybody else has to share 511.5 billion (or 511,500,000,000). Just imagine how much more all those other programs could do if we just take the difference, 87,000,000,000 OR “just” 87 BILLION more dollars than they are making do without. Now let’s imagine a nation with a military spending of just 30%.  That’s about 300 billion. (I’m not doing precise math any more. All those zeroes hurt my head.) Think, oh think!, of what these other programs could do with 7 TRILLION dollars! We could help so many more people who need food stamps, education, housing. We’d be taking really good care of our veterans. And the science/energy & environment would have the funding to help wean us off of fossil fuels and provide new, better ways to live within this biosphere we call Earth.

It’ll never happen, of course. Not with as deeply entrenched as the MIC is in our government. It would require more effort than one President can make, or even one Congress might offer. (If you could even get them to go along with the idea; where do you think their money comes from? Not that generous paycheck!–no irony there; their paychecks are generous–but they also get rich-er from the “donations” they receive. Why else would their personal worth grow, almost exponentially, while they are serving the government?)

So having discussed military spending and why we are still afraid (because the MIC needs us to be fearful, so that we don’t have an uprising over 54% of our budget going to war) let’s turn back to Jim’s words.

He is a Navy Master Chief, retired. He served most of his life in the military. He has seen the horrors of war. So when he talks about terror, when he talks about how we are being bamboozled by the media, he knows of what he speaks. (Incidentally, so we’re clear on this: our media is not (not, I repeat) about actual news reporting. Facts are actually irrelevant in the stories they tell. It’s all about the entertainment factor, keeping people stirred up emotionally — and thereby, keeping them watching. It’s better for ratings to show the towers coming down (again!) than it is to show how people’s lives have gone on. It’s better to monger (defined as “a person who promotes a specified activity, situation, or feeling, especially one that is undesirable or discreditable.”) continual fear and uneasiness, hatred, terror, and especially fostering the idea that somehow, we are not “great” anymore. It’s all about being outrageous, trying (and unfortunately, succeeding) to keep the American public misinformed about the reality of our country and overwhelmed with ideas of government corruption, that people who are different than (the average white male viewer) are going to take away your rights…”Be afraid, be very afraid” pretty much covers all of the media coverage, regardless of the topic.

Jim speaks both from his experiences in the military and the wisdom he has acquired along the way. He is passionate in expressing his views (duh!) but always backs it up with facts, real facts, provable facts. He is a political writer and he shares his thoughts on a regular basis. He can also be very controversial, as seen in this post.
(If you’d like to see more of his writing, his blog is here, at Stonekettle Station)

As a man of deep thoughts and the ability to share them, he gives his readers a lot to think about. He gives his detractors a lot to argue with, except that I have yet to see any comment against him that doesn’t read like a child’s nanny-nanny boo-boo. Yes, he receives death threats. Death threats, for words! Why should disagreement with Jim’s words give you the right to kill him? (Clue: it doesn’t. Grow up.) As the OP pointed out, FB took this posting down, almost assuredly because it was, as his wording goes, “complaint-bombed” by the people who do not agree with him.

Guess what? I completely support Jim’s First Amendment rights. He has every right to say what he damned well pleases. If you don’t like what he’s writing, there’s a real easy solution: DON’T READ IT. Just because someone doesn’t agree doesn’t mean they have the right to shut him down through the FB complaint process. His rights for free speech are exactly the same as theirs: he has them, too. Getting his post taken down rates right up there with burning books that offend someone.

I have some news, Sunshine. No one has appointed someone as the Word Police, they have no special powers to block any words, written, spoken, printed–just the same as they can speak their words. To those who want to listen to them. We’re back to the easy answer: if they don’t agree, they should stop listening/reading/trolling Facebook.

I am not advocating the complete boycott of 9-11. It’s not a bad thing to remember that something that historical took place–but like other historical events, it needs to be kept within the context of its occurrence. Because of 9-11, we have changed some of our ways of doing business. TSA and the whole rigmarole to get onto a plane is just one of them. But we still have, and I believe should always have, an open society. We have a reputation as the Great Melting Pot, a place where anyone can come and fulfill their dreams. Let’s live up to that reputation!

We ARE still a great nation, with many opportunities and many luxuries that great parts of the world do not have. We are still a nation where you can call the leader of that nation by any bad name you want–and you don’t go to jail for it, or die for speaking it out loud. One of our greatest strengths is the idea that We The People can control our own destiny, that we have influence on those who rule us. Unfortunately, that’s also one of our weak points, because those who rule over us have lost sight of the fact that they are directly SERVING the people. The reality is that far too many of them have become corporate shills and not only do not vote in the people’s interest, but often, directly against the people’s interest–and their will.

We need people like Jim Wright, who will point out when our emperor of the day has no clothes on. We need to hear his voice, listen to his words–I was going to say, even if we don’t agree with him, but I think it’s better said as “especially if we disagree with him”. It’s hard to learn something new when you all ready know about it and go along with the general idea of the topic. But it’s way easier to learn from someone whose views or information is different–it provides an new insight onto whatever you’re talking about.

I scold FB for failing to recognize Jim’s right to express whatever he wishes. I scold those who sent complaints; don’t read his posts. I hope that by sharing this in as many forms as is possible — because believe me, I’ve already shared this on my FB page–we can continue this very complicated, but very worthy, conversation. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. Comment below with yours!

(PLEASE REMEMBER: DO NOT COPY THIS BLOG WITHOUT EXPRESS PERMISSION AS NOT ALL OF IT IS MINE. JIM WRIGHT IS THE AUTHOR AND OWNER OF THE POST I SHARED.)

Faith-Based Wars: The First in a Series of Very Complicated Conversations

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, Henry V, Act iii, scene i)

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(NOTE: The strike through font option indicates use of “sarcasm font”. So sarcasm will look like this, see?)

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Faith:

—–Having faith that something is true does not make it true.

———Having faith does not make it probably true.

—————Having faith has no bearing on truth whatsoever.

——————–Having faith simply means you will believe it whether it is true or not.

So the ultra-conservative, God-fearing Republicans in our nation are fighting multiple battles on a variety of fronts. They use the Bible and their own prejudices (which are carefully and particularly exploited by the media, owned by the extremely wealthy, in order to increase those prejudices) as the way to justify denying basic human rights, which they enjoy and would be incensed to have taken away. I’m sorry, but “God says” has *nothing* to do with our government from town to county to state levels, and especially nothing to do with the Federal “laws of the land”.

It’s becoming more and more prevalent for specific religious views to guide or mandate specific legal policies (aka, laws) for every other person in the population. It’s disgusting how one portion of our nation’s citizens feel it is their “religious right”, ordered from “on high”, from the Big Daddy Himself, to disenfranchise, discriminate and disregard any other portion of the citizenry.

This nation was based on freedom from governmental interference in a person’s religious views; we were created to be welcoming to those who would seek the promise of being in America. We established the concepts of the American Dream and that this nation was the Land of Opportunity for all, for anyone who was willing to come here and seek the life they hoped for.

Apparently, somewhere along the line this got completely destroyed, forgotten or ignored. And now we are faced with a bunch of rabid, zealous, misguided and uneducated conservative citizens who are trying to bring about their God Revolution. Rand Paul has just announced his run for the Presidency, using the catch phrase, “We’re here to take the country back!” Back from who, Senator? Ted Cruz has also thrown his hat into the ring, using similar verbiage to rally the voters. This is a common theme in elections from the town’s dogcatcher up to the US President’s job.

There’s something in the news every day that connects someone’s religious beliefs to enacting new legislation, which is always something to limit someone *else’s* freedoms and rights. Or there’s articles about how the rest of us are “denying” this group their religious rights–which, by the way, they have absolutely no hesitation (nor compunction) to deny those same rights to their fellow citizens. All across the nation, we’re seeing all kinds of religious fury, from people who call themselves “Christian” but whom others call “neo-Christians”, or the term I’d like to see go into use, small “c” “christians”. These are people who use a book to feed their paranoid delusions and propagate their racism and other prejudices, believing that they have a “god-given” right to do so. Whereas Christians, capital “c”, are the followers of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and try to live by his words of love and compassion. Two COMPLETELY different groups.

Let me step back to my first sentence:” …”God-fearing Republicans”. Why is it necessary to fear, to be afraid of, the deity who is referred to as “all-loving”? Why is it, that a great deal of the conversations this particular group initiates are related to going to Hell, suffering eternal damnation and other violent acts? Here’s a term I used in my last blog, and the corresponding thoughts, for you: “Sacred Violence”–“My god is a violent god, and I am made in his image, therefore I am violent as well.” This gives the holder of such a belief the right to use violent means to convert (coerce) others to the religion. There is no real difference between Islam (conversion at sword point) and Christianity for this thought pattern. Both use violence and both believe that they are right, and justly right, by virtue of their god’s actions and commandments.

No wonder that they feel completely comfortable damning their perceived enemies, or saying that “fags should die”, or maintaining a threatening posture, usually complete with a weapon of some sort. And just so you know: waving a Bible in someone’s face can be just as threatening as holding a gun to their head if they don’t hold exactly the same beliefs as you do.

Let’s be honest, the “Christians”, neo- or otherwise, can’t even hold a cohesive front in their own ranks. The Baptists think that the Catholics are going to Hell (idol worshiping, bead fumbling Papists!). They also think that other Protestant denominations are not “as holy” because they obviously don’t follow the “true word”…the Baptist’s Bible’s word. Please, please let me know if you’ve ever witnessed this very vocal and rapidly increasing hateful, prejudiced and violent zealotry from any other denomination besides Baptist! I would suggest that these crazy people are also predominately Southern Baptist. This particular denomination has had the prime goal of fulfilling missionary duties, bringing the Word of God to everyone in the world. And the reason is not as altruistic as you might think; once everyone on Earth has the chance to hear the message of salvation, the world will end…and the believers will be taken up into Heaven.

It would be another blog to talk about the repercussions of the Southern Baptists traveling all over the world, destroying native culture while completely and utterly eviscerating the natives religions because they are pagan savages with no idea of the right way to do things and will go to Hell if they are not preached at to. It’s called “Manifest Destiny” and it is, beyond a doubt, responsible for more pain and suffering, more racism, both blatant and subtle, and the wholesale annihilation of established and functioning cultures just because they were “savages” and “primitives” to the eye of the Western zealot.

It’s important to understand the background for the Southern Baptists in order to even formulate some ideas about them. I will go on the record as stating that I was a Southern Baptist, baptized into the fold at the tender young age of 7. Did I know what I had asked for, when I indicated that I had accepted Jesus as my Savior and wanted to be dunked? I don’t know. I suspect, from this point in time, probably not. I was mimicking my mother and the people I saw religiously (haha) every Sunday. So I grew up with the mindset of “WE are right, God said so, everyone else is going to Hell”. As I got older, I began to step away from this deeply rutted road. I began attending church with my grandparents–they were Presbyterian, having made that compromise when my Episcopalian grandfather married my Baptist grandmother. (And honey, she was from Portsmouth VA, so she knew about Southern Baptist, too!) I married a man who was Catholic…and eventually, I went through the classes and became Catholic as well. When I divorced him, let’s just say that the Rock that Jesus built his Church on…didn’t exactly rush to support me in a time that was painful, filled with depression and financial anxiety. Since then I have found a path that I can walk, that addresses my thoughts and feelings about religion (although I prefer the term “spiritual beliefs”), that encourages and guides me to be a moral, loving and open person. And it’s not Christian. It works for me. Big difference between *most* religions and the Southern Baptists? No insistence on doing it “my way”–aka, “God’s way”. So I’m not going to ask you to repent of your sins and get dunked in the river. I don’t even care if you *are* a Southern Baptist. Each person must find their own path to sacredness, whatever form it takes. And part of my unhappiness with this particular group of citizens is that they do not feel “freedom of religion” applies to anyone else, that they are holding the tickets to the only ride to Paradise.

So from now on, to avoid causing any strokes from enraged Christians who see this blog as an attack on them just because they belong to a specific denomination, I will use the term “Fundamentalist” or “Fundamentalism”. Anyone, in any religion, can be a fundamentalist. Another term you might hear (or have heard of) is “Reconstructionist” which has NOTHING to do with the Civil War or the period immediately following it.

It’s really vital to understand this current rise in the insistent drive to have a theocracy-based government, especially the very frightening rise in the religious takeover of our Federal government, as something that its adherents, or “Fundamentalists” or “Reconstructionists” feel is an immutable and sovereign right to rule this land under the Mosaic law. (No, not putting little pieces of tile together to make a picture, but being based on the Biblical laws, handed down to Moses.) Let me put that in a bit plainer phrasing: These zealots want the entire nation to live under the same kinds of law that the Muslims do. They want stoning to death to be an accepted — and carried out — punishment for various crimes; they want women to get back into the kitchen and make them a sandwich. They want anyone who is not like “them” — at this point, meaning not white, not male, not out there witnessing and leading all those sinners to God — to be placed into a second class (or lower, if it’s possible) legal status, stripped of any right that “God” has told them only they deserve.

You do realize that if this occurs, America will look *just* like the Middle Eastern countries who follow the Islamic laws, right? The Fundamentalists would froth at the mouth and probably curse you to eternal suffering if they heard it put this way, but (and I’m not the first person to say it)…What the religiously radical, radically religious want is Sharia Law. They want the ultimate power in our nation to be in the hands of people who don’t make a logical, thought out and carefully considered decision on any topic, including things like foreign policy and human rights. No, they want their leaders to pray for guidance and then do what “God has told (them) to do”. This is the same group that has let it be known that their presidential candidates need to show that they are willing “to nuke other countries” to prove their worth for President. Frankly, I’d prefer my presidential choice to be willing to do *everything* else first, keeping the “nuclear solution” as the very final, all other methods exhausted for me to want to vote for them. I don’t want some trigger happy religious nut having “The Button”–who knows when he will tell us that he’s decided to bomb Europe because “I prayed and God told me to do it.”?

I really like this quote, “The main business of religions is to purify, control, and restrain that excessive and exclusive taste for well-being which men acquire in times of equality.” ~~Alexis de Tocqueville I’ll be honest, I have no idea who this person is, or why they would be famous enough to be quoted, but I like the quote. It would seem that the same religion that is encouraging sedition and revolution in God’s name (something that was not done in the War for Independence, no matter how much they try to tell you that the Forefathers were all “God-fearing, decent Christians” because they weren’t) has also failed its poorer followers, who now feel obliged to create secondary classes in order to have someone (anyone!) lower in status than they are. After all, if more people had money, we wouldn’t have our “god-given”  One Percent of the obviously Godly people who hold most of this nation’s wealth.
(From Forbes Magazine and the Wikipedia)

The sad part is, if you are not a part of that infamous One Percent and are still willing to ensure that *their* religion of Greed is fully fed (given tax breaks and such)…you’re a moron. (In the purest, clinical sense of the word. It refers to a specific level of intelligence.) Let’s face it: if you are willing to live precariously balanced on the edge of financial disaster and imminent poverty, but are still willing, nay, even eager, to ensure that the rich get richer (and as the old song goes, “and the poor get poorer”), there is something seriously wrong with your brain. You cannot say that God grants wealth, which they loudly bleat…and not be a part of that granting. Or does God not love you as much as he loves the Waltons or the Kochs?

Regardless of the specific affiliation, these poor misguided zealots are worse than the “blind leading the blind”. They are willfully closing their eyes and insisting on walking without a guide. The Bible they use as a weapon? They don’t really read it. Trust me, I have. It’s one of the most common things that people who are not able to continue with the Christian path do, reading that book, trying to understand the meaning behind the words and looking for answers that we discover simply are not there. What kind of questions are these seekers asking? How about any (or all) of these:

“Does God really hate those who identify as LGBTQ?” (And where does that put someone who identifies as any of those, in a religious sense? Why are they placed in a position of either admitting their natural sexual orientation (When you decide to be heterosexual?) or having a spiritual life according to the precepts of the religion?

“I’ve followed this book for a long time; I feel empty and alone and the services I attend to do not address my needs nor offer comfort and a way to get past these feelings.”

“Does God truly want women to take the subservient position to the males, to be nothing more than a little pet or puppet and not think or act on their own? And if so, WHY?”
(Keeping in mind that the news of Jesus Christ’s resurrection was shown first to the WOMEN, not his disciples.)

“Why do people who identify as followers of Christ (“Christians”) insist upon following the Old Testament laws? Jesus Himself said (Matthew 5:17): “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Later on, He said to the Pharisees (who were trying to get Him to admit he wanted to overthrow the Laws that they enforced) in Mark 12:30-31 : “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” He also explained that these two ideas were the basis for all the other commandments. (And there’s a LOT more than 10, check out your Leviticus and read it thoroughly!)”

(Side note: Think about it. If you love God (or whatever name you use for the Sacred Being you follow) and you love your neighbor (meaning anyone else, everyone else), you will not break the other commandments because you will have no envy or hatred, no desire to stand above your fellow beings. Pretty awesome way to live, if you ask me.)

“Why is a God described as omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent also historically (through His “own” book, the Bible) and currently described as: “a jealous God”, a God that sends his people into war repeatedly (see the Old Testament and pretty much any war in the Middle East this century and last), a God to be feared, who will, even though He is the”Father” to his children (us), place us into eternal suffering in Hell? What kind of a god is that?”

“I cannot maintain my current religious affiliation because of the rampant corruption and evil within the clergy who serve this congregation; they have no authority to teach others about following God’s word when it is very obvious that they do not.”
(See CNN’s report on this very subject, specifically addressing the issue of the US archbishops really not living their vows of poverty.)

There is a growing trend of people deserting the churches, not only Southern Baptist but from all of the denominations. With an increased awareness of things like Joel Osteen’s mansion and his very expensive suits, we can see that some preachers who call themselves “a man of God” are actually using religion to make themselves extremely well-to-do, with a lifestyle far beyond what most of their congregations can even imagine. That level of hypocrisy is enough to drive anyone out of the pews and back onto the streets. The Catholic sex scandals didn’t help.

The ones “left behind” (thanks, Kirk Cameron, for that phrase) are those who are happily and blindly following someone who is manipulating them into doing *his* will, not (finger pointed to the sky) “His Will”. They cheerfully take in the sketchy truths, the half truths and the outright lies, designed to keep them in their pews and handing over money, and then make it their own unshakable “foundation of faith”. You cannot reason with someone whose whole argument is “God says so!”. There is no way to come to a compromise of any sort because, well, “God says so!” means that there’s only the one way to do anything. Interesting that we just have to take someone else’s word for what God says, because He apparently has never heard of Facebook or Twitter.

Let me offer you this quote, from Frank Schaeffer (and if you don’t want to follow the link to his Wiki, let me tell you one pertinent fact about him: he was born into an evangelical family and with them and some other like-minded folks, they created this Religious Rabidness we are dealing with. He has since denounced those evangelical roots and shows great and obviously deeply felt remorse for his part in the establishment of the zealots who are seeking to overthrow “secular” government for a theocracy); this is from a documentary about faith, religion and how a person chooses to have either (or both)):

“There’s no way to jump that (Author’s note:the concept of faith versus truth) because if you accept a tradition and say, “I’m going there for authority”, it’s still you, a fallible human being, making a decision to accept this as true.  So you never get away from the subjective elements, so why not just be honest about it? And say “Of course this is a subjective reading of the Scripture of tradition?” Yes, I pick and choose. We all do.

We pick and choose through everything we do in life, don’t pretend that you’ve received truth in whole cloth from the sky somewhere. And I think that’s what Fundamentalism can’t face because it wants something more than subjective, individual human decisions. And yet you can’t get away from it because even if you decide some theology is true and now you’ll follow it, that is a subjective decision. In addition to which, the writing was by other subjective people, and it’s only in the Scripture because a subjective group of people decided, in some council, that they’d put it in there. And you can say that the Holy Spirit led them, or leads you or whatever, and that just puts it down another step because you’ve chosen to believe that.

That’s the true divide between Modernity and Fundamentalists’ literalism is a skepticism about our ability to decide what is true.”

~~Frank Schaeffer, Author, (“Crazy for God”)

This brings us full circle to my opening words:

—–Having faith that something is true does not make it true.

———Having faith does not make it probably true.

—————Having faith has no bearing on truth whatsoever.

——————–Having faith simply means you will believe it whether it is true or not.

Think about it. And be welcome to join this conversation.

Sacred Violence

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it is my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other commentors, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…”
(Shakespeare, “Henry V”)


Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:26-27)

The Old Testament is the Holy Book of the Jews, with the first five books making up their Torah. So the Jews would tell you that they are created in the image of Yahweh. Christians also believe that they are made in the image of the Creator. The next logical step is that if you are a reflection (in the image) of the one who created you, you should exhibit traits and characteristics of that creator. We come into a major controversy at this point because based on the Old Testament, Yahweh (Jehovah, God) is jealous, brutally violent, vengeful and generally Not A Nice Person. His behavior and words in the Old Testament would not commend him as a god to follow and emulate. But don’t take my word for it. I found a graduate student who has done the work for us. There are over 80 battles listed, against all kinds of enemies. Here is the link which leads to this list of all the battles in the Old Testament and God’s part in them:  https://constantlyreforming.wordpress.com/every-battle-in-the-bible/

For those of you who don’t want to go look, let me just hit some of the “God” highlights:
Num 31: 1-2 “The LORD spoke to Moses, “Execute vengeance for the Israelites against the Midianites. After that, you will be gathered to your people.”
Josh 10:8 “God says that he will defeat them, throws them into confusion, then sends hail storms.”
Josh 11:8 “For it was the LORD’s intention to harden their hearts, so that they would engage Israel in battle, be completely destroyed without mercy, and be annihilated, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.”
Judg 9:23-24 “God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the lords of Shechem. They treated Abimelech deceitfully, so that the crime against the 70 sons of Jerubbaal might come to justice and their blood would be avenged on their brother Abimelech, who killed them, and on the lords of Shechem, who had helped him kill his brothers.”

There was also a great period of civil war, which spawned two separate Isreali kingdoms: the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel. During this time, Zechariah was assassinated and Shallum ben Jabesh took the throne and was king of Israel. That didn’t last very long because Menahem came along in his turn and killed Shallum. His 10 year reign was distinguished for its cruelty–especially when the city of Tappuah would not recognize him as their king–he had every resident killed, including the pregnant women.

So now that we’ve waded through all of these examples of God and his ideas of war–and his followers’ ideas of war, let’s talk about today’s modern Christians. They will say, “God made us in His own image” and that’s fine. What isn’t fine is that they seem to cling to the Old Testament for the laws and religious rules for their behavior. If they are going to follow the Old Testament, they should convert to Judaism. If they are going to be Christians, perhaps they need to re-read the New Testament. No, just the gospels. Pick one. I have chosen the first book of the New Testament, Matthew (New International Version), for the purposes of our discussion.

John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Jesus spent a lot of time preaching about love and trying to convince those listening to him that he was not out to replace the Pharisees. Matt 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”  Jesus gave us the Golden Rule: Matt 7:12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (From Gal 3:24, Christians are told: “So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.”.) He was very clear about his mission: Matt 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

He made a point of reaching out to those who needed Him, whether they were “clean” or “unclean” by the standards of the Law: Matt 9:10-13 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” And He chided those who questioned Him about this practice: Matt 7:1-2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

He also preached about the need for us to reach out and connect with those around us: Matt 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Jesus Christ also spent a lot of time on hypocrisy and righteousness: Matt 5:20 “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”. And Matt 6:1-8 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.5“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” He again reinforces that later on: Matt 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

He very clearly differentiates between good and evil, in actions and words: Matt 12:34-37 You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. 35A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” He even takes on the laws about the Sabbath and food practices when He says: Matt 15:18-20 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

Jesus also dealt with the  topic of preachers, teachers and church leaders who love their positions more than they love their fellow man. In Matt 23: 1-12 “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 5“Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others. 8“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11The greatest among you will be your servant. 12For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Incidentally, He is very specific about people who think they can maintain a certain lifestyle and still get into Heaven: Matt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Then He hammers his point home with this passage: Matt 25:31-46 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

All of that seems dire, but that’s not why Jesus was sent to this Earth. Indeed, He told us the NEW commandments (only two of them) that his followers were to use for their lives: Matt 22:34-40 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Jesus was “gentle and humble of heart”; he healed the sick and fed the hungry; he preached about Love and praying for those who persecute you. He made the point about doing things for people you don’t know because it’s easy “to love those who love you”. Being a Christian is a life of giving up the material things that the world says you should want and living a simple, loving life, living like Christ. Two rules: love God, love your neighbor. Should be real easy to be a Christian then, right?

Maybe…not.

Can anyone tell me why so many Christians think that God made just them “special”, to be apart from the rest of us, to feel superior to those who are not Christian–and worse, to feel superior to those whose color is not theirs? Who believe that it’s perfectly all right, in fact God-ordained to refuse to follow the laws of the land whenever it refuses to let the Christians’ religious rights supersede any other religion? Please tell me where Christ ever said no birth control or no abortions; where He mentioned homosexuals as being “bad”, and why he would approve of violent threats against others just because they do not follow His Word? And why there is such a number of loudly “Christian” people who are fomenting religious overthrow of our Federal government, who believe that the Law of the Land should be the Law of Jehovah?

I have a meme that I trot out occasionally:

DONOTRespectYourBeliefs

“I do not respect  your religious beliefs. I respect  your right to have them.” Where did this vocal group of zealots lose this concept, so that they feel free to ram their religion down other people’s throats? (Yes I said it. Ram.) If Jesus of Nazareth called for any revolution, it was of the soul and heart, certainly not a political revolution. The Pharisees feared him because he had popular support and he represented a threat to their power base–because they were political creatures disguised as Godly, Law-abiding priests.

And somehow, the lessons that the Pharisees imparted seem to have made it through the centuries better than Christ’s own message of love and acceptance. They taught fear and conniving; they showed us what hypocrisy could look like and it looked good. They taught violent methods to remove those who stand in your way–and in doing so, they returned us to the Old Testament, with its “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” mentality. They “re-infected” us, if you will, with the concepts of Sacred Violence that Jesus was trying to remove.

Sacred Violence. The idea that your religion is so right, that you are so justified in anything you do because, hey, you’re fighting for God! It means looking at war and battle as the first move, not the last or not at all. It means getting “them” before “they” get you–even if “they” aren’t even after you. Pre-emptive strikes. Necessary police action. Maximum force, first time out. Take no hostages. Scorched Earth.

We are accruing too many examples of Sacred Violence in our world today. We have religion being brought into the most innocuous places as a valid reason for invalid and illogical actions. We have the mention of God invoked when someone crosses them and they justify their retaliation with the words “Will of God” instead of acknowledging their completely irrational behavior. We see severe splintering in our country’s population as people choose between “doing God’s will” and following the secular law of our country. Those who choose God then make it their mission to take over the country. They long for a theocracy, where everyone is living by the laws contained in Exodus and Leviticus.

Hey fellas! That’s Old Testament. It’s so 2000 years ago. We have two laws: love God, love your neighbor. Be like Jesus Christ: humble and gentle, accepting and always doing the good work–feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, comforting the sick, visiting those in prison. But these poor, deluded bastards, goaded on by ministers and pastors who dress in Armani suits and live in a freaking mansion (serving money), think that this image of a Christian is wrong, it’s “weak”…it’s not “sacred” enough to actually be the thing to do. Many of the “foot soldiers” live under the poverty level; they’re not always well educated, and they long for something more. And the false prophets promise them all that they want and more, if they will just follow God’s will, as told to this false prophet just last night after the 11 o’clock news.

It’s our “sacred” duty to go into the Middle East and fight the local populations because…wait for it….they are not Christians, they are those damned Muslim terrorists. Well, I won’t argue about the terrorist part for some of them–but you don’t have to be Muslim to be a terrorist. Look at Timothy McVeigh. (Google it if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) Incidentally, that “sacred duty” is a lie. It’s all a big sell by the Big Oil companies to ensure that their money will make more money, no matter how many of our young men and women have to die to keep that money flowing.

Conversion by the sword (or by torture) is also NOT a uniquely Muslim practice, see the Crusades and the Inquisition. “Gay Therapy” (aka “Pray the Gay Away”) denies the very sacredness of the human being who is not heterosexual and Christ’s admonishment to “love one another as I have loved you” is completely ignored. He never asked the tax collectors to be other than tax collectors, or the non-Jews who chose to follow him to suddenly become Jewish before He’d accept them. He accepted every person just as they were, without trying to change fundamental parts of who they were–He only asked that each person make the choice to follow His teachings, living the things He taught and loving others without hesitation, like Him.

Threatening another person with “You’re going to Hell” is exactly that–a threat. Not only is that NOT what Jesus taught, He also admonishes us to “judge not, lest ye be judged”–and the kicker to His words about that is this: however we judge, whatever method and measures we use to determine our judgment…is how we ourselves will be judged. No thanks. Saying someone else is “evil” falls under this same umbrella, with the same consequences.

Threatening people to make them do what you want, what YOU think they should be doing, is not a good way to get anyone to do anything. If you want to see a truly spiritual change in the people around you, you must be a truly spiritual person yourself. First off, so that you’ll recognize it in others. Secondly, so that your actions and your words match and you are an example of the love of Jesus Christ, open and accepting to all without judgment. Not many of today’s visible “Christians” can claim this with any truth.

Not ALL Christians are like this. Let me reiterate: the portion of Christians I am speaking about do not fully represent all Christians within our nation or within our world. The ones I am talking about are probably a minority–but they are vocal, they are visible and their actions prove what they are and what they want to do: sacred violence. They are jealous, brutally violent, vengeful and generally Not Nice People. And there are modern Pharisees, political figures who make use of them by pandering to their desires and showering them with false praise of their resolution and determination to “do God’s will”. The media, controlled by politics and foreign interests, also controls them, either by tacitly agreeing with their world view, or through the fear of “God-less heathens” and “those who will not listen to the Lord, or his servants”.

They do not respond to logic or facts; they are emotionally centered on their views and deem any disagreement or disbelief as coming from “Satan, to test me”. And they perpetuate the Sacred Violence here in America. Others have that duty elsewhere in the world, based on their own beliefs of their religions but the end result is the same: hate, fear, and war. Sacred Violence has no limitation, no act too heinous to be done in the “name of the Lord”.

These zealots have no idea that the people who control them couldn’t give a rat’s ass about their lives or the quality of those lives. They are simply there to be used until no longer needed. Believe me when I tell you that the leaders don’t care if we get a theocracy or not–mostly because they’ve already established an oligarchy. If religion is needed to keep the masses in control, well it’s just one more tool at hand to be used. They are so sure of their control over the zealots that they aren’t even subtle about doing things that will directly affect their support base. Things like reducing funding for all sorts of social services; perpetuating propaganda about not needing public schools; vilifying unions and other labor measures that would provide a living wage without have to work to death. They want to completely gut things like OSHA, the EPA, the IRS and almost more importantly, the SEC.

These false prophets are political creatures who are psychopathic. They have no concern for anyone or anything besides themselves. They do not care about the environment, the sufferings of their fellow man, nor the future generations who will inherit the Earth that is left to them, in whatever condition it is. These creatures view war as a long term, money-making scheme and consider it an excellent way to line their pockets with even more money. They will do what it takes to get support from their blind followers for war, up to and absolutely including a religious association.

But Sacred Violence is more than war or killing people for their lack of (your) faith. While doing battle is a large part of it, let’s talk about other forms of Sacred Violence. The current disturbing trend of our police becoming more militarized as well as the “shoot first” mentality is obviously violent. But I would suggest that it is also Sacred Violence from the aspect that many of the police espouse the same zealousness as the portion of our Christian population that is so vocal these days. So the police feel that they are doing God’s will by killing those they deem for whatever reason, inferior.

I also think that Sacred Violence occurs whenever the commandments of “love God, love your neighbor” are not followed and are actually, actively, broken into pieces. For example, the rising amount of legislation designed to essentially make it a crime to be poor; the laws against sleeping in public or feeding the homeless. Or from another point of law, allowing rich and or white people to commit crimes but not face the same kind of treatment and punishment given to those who are poor and or of color. Failing to provide adequate wages, failing to have sufficient and strong social safety nets for those who need help, these are also forms of Sacred Violence.

And it’s not just done on a governmental level. Sacred Violence can be done by just one person who declares belief in God against just one other person who disagrees. The name-calling and threats on the Internet are a prime example of this behavior. Most people do not follow the first rule of interaction in the cyberworld: If you wouldn’t say it out loud to a person, don’t type and send it online. When my children were young, I explained the Internet to them in this way: the Internet is like a huge city. It has areas that are not so good to go into, that you should probably avoid. It has lots of places to meet other people. But you don’t just walk up to someone on the street and start cursing and screaming at them. And if you hear someone say something that you don’t agree with, you don’t make death threats. In real life (IRL), that can get you seriously hurt…or killed. Likewise, you shouldn’t these things on the Internet.

Most people lack the technological savvy to know that even though you may have chosen a pseudonym and hide behind it to perpetuate your version of Sacred Violence, there are people who ARE savvy and can find your real identity and personal information if you give them a good enough reason to do it. Even without that ability, it’s also possible to completely shame you on the Internet in return for vicious words. Bad enough to do this kind of thing (or as it’s called online, “trolling”) for personal or political reasons. But to feel that God has given you the mandate to be violent in your words against the “unbelievers” is the worst sort of delusion.

Violence has never been the best answer for any of the world’s problems. Heck, it hasn’t even really been an answer. Violence that is considered sacred because it was ordered by your God is still violence and it’s still not the solution. Jesus Himself suffered violence against him; the scourging, the crown of thorns, and of course, the crucifixion, but He never fought back. He prayed for his enemies, for those who committed this violence against Him. He chose love instead of violence–which was His whole mission.

Love God, love your neighbor. Because God, the Father, loves His children. And that means everybody, no exceptions. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Something the zealots need to learn and follow. Maybe then we could end at least Christian-driven Sacred Violence.

We Are (Becoming) An Oligarchy

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it is my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other commentors, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, “Henry V”)

Read this first: New York Times article: “Dark Money Helped Win the Senate”

Senator Elizabeth Warren shared this on her Facebook page on November 9, 2014. There was a lively comment thread, and one in particular stuck out for me. The commenter said:  “We are becoming an oligarchy.”
This is my immediate response:

I hate to correct you, but we ARE an oligarchy already. Which, in its own way can be fought…oligarchies are based on money and the proponents worship the god Greed; this generally means a few (like 1%?) have the money to influence politics. Once the “rest of us” (the 99%) gathers enough momentum to fight back, the oligarchs are gone. (See Argentina and Juan Peron, although that was trading one evil for another…) The allegory of peasants with torches and pitchforks is well understood because it happened enough to be a part of our lexicon. (See France, Louis Seize and Marie Antoinette.)

HOWEVER…our situation may not be as simple because for one thing, we are a much larger nation than either of those two examples and to gain enough popular support for an overthrow is much harder. The main thing that concerns me is the theocracy that has arisen simultaneously–those in power who insist on ramming one particular religion’s beliefs down the throats of everyone else. Their beliefs make them arrogant, “knowing” that they are right and that it is their duty to “correct” the unbelievers.When you “know” something, when you “know” you are right…there is no compromise, there is no change possible.

When an oligarchy (whose god is Greed) combines with a theocracy (whose god tells them that they are right), we have an exponentially worse situation.

And we’re looking at it now, in our elected government–and I am not excusing the Democrats; they employ some of the same tactics but apparently not as well as the Republicans. And let’s admit it, the Dems are more willing to compromise, to work *together* for the progression of legislation. They still have an agenda of maintaining their positions; they are not exempt from the lure of Greed. (see: WV state legislator, who had been Dem, decided to switch parties and now is part of the lock the Republicans have gained in this election cycle.)

HOWEVER…as this article states, the Republicans are masters of “dark money” and hidden contributions, the happy recipients of money that guarantees their political careers. (I consider “political career” to be an oxymoron, since no one should make politics their career. They need to hold a “real” job for much more of their life than their time in the political arena. As opposed to Paul Ryan, for example, who lived off the “governmental teat” to go to college and specifically set out to be a politician. He’s never been anything else. Frankly, that’s lower than a used car salesmen for me in the areas of being trustworthy and having knowledge of my needs.)

Way too many of our politicians would fail the “Are you a psychopath” test. They absolutely exhibit psychopathic behavior, and on a fairly grand scale. Let’s take a step out of politics and into mental health for a moment. (from http://crime.about.com/od/serial/a/psychopaths.htm)

The following characteristics of a psychopath, defined by Hervery M. Cleckley in 1941 in the book “Mask of Sanity” include:

  • Superficial charm and average intelligence.
  • Absence of delusions and other signs of irrational thinking.
  • Absence of nervousness or neurotic manifestations.
  • Unreliability.
  • Untruthfulness and insincerity.
  • Lack of remorse or shame.
  • Antisocial behavior without apparent compunction.
  • Poor judgement and failure to learn from experience.
  • Pathological egocentricity and incapacity to love.
  • General poverty in major affective reactions.
  • Specific loss of insight.
  • Unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations.
  • Fantastic and uninviting behavior with drink, and sometimes without.
  • Suicide threats rarely carried out.
  • Sex life impersonal, trivial, and poorly integrated.
  • Failure to follow any life plan.

How many politicians do you know that consistently display at least 5 of those traits? I knew about most of them, but it was amusing to read “Sex life impersonal, trivial and poorly integrated”, based on all of the sex scandals we’ve seen go by of various politicians–state or Federal level.

So here we are, with our so-called democracy being run by people who have NO connection to other people, who are unreliable and insincere, who exhibit antisocial behavior without any remorse; they obviously show poor judgement (see over 500 bills that never made it anywhere because the House Republicans were determined to show the President that he couldn’t get things done; never mind how many of the country’s citizens were hurt by this failure). Now take that psychopathic personality and combine it with the worship of Greed and the theocratic stance of “I’m right, God tells me that every day, and I have to make sure that you’re following God’s laws whether you believe them or not…because I’m right”. Voila, you have the GOP, hands down winners for looking out for numero uno–and that’s not for the good of the country or the will of their constituents.

Leading the list of psychopathic demagogues would be the Koch brothers, David and Charles. Currently worth 42 BILLION dollars each, they could each spend a million dollars a day from now until the year 2129. And that’s only if they don’t get any more money during that time. That’s $41,666 per hour, or $694.44 per minute. How about $11.57 per second? Can you hold that number in your head? Imagine being able to buy 2 McDonalds’ 20 piece chicken nuggets meals (with large fries and large drink) and a parfait EVERY SINGLE SECOND of your life, for 115 YEARS. That’s 120 nugget meals and 60 parfaits every MINUTE. Which makes 7299 meals and 3600 parfaits in ONE HOUR.
And you can do this every hour, every day for ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTEEN YEARS!!! (And your brother can do it as well. If he doesn’t, but lets you spend his money too, we’re talking 330 years.)

The reason I threw all those numbers at you is because I’m trying to give you some small way to understand that the Koch brothers are beyond rich, beyond stupid rich, right up into OBSCENELY rich. They have more money than they can ever spend–and they get more and more each year. Of course there are other people (Super PACs special interests, corporations, unions and other associations, or other individuals) who spend lots of money in politics, but we will limit ourselves to the Koch brothers for the purpose of this discussion.

The main reason I single them out is because David Koch actually ran for Vice President in 1980. (Note two separate links there; his name leads to the Wikipedia; the other is an article from the New York Times.) His Libertarian platform for that race is the basis for his (and his brother’s) current political activity. David describes his reason for leaving the Libertarian party: “The Libertarian Party is a great concept. I love the ideals, but it got too far off the deep end, and so I dropped out.”–and he became a Republican. “In 1985, the Kochs and a new adviser, Richard Fink, formed Citizens for a Sound Economy, a free enterprise-oriented group that evolved into Americans for Prosperity, the organization today led by David Koch that is the centerpiece of the brothers’ political activity. This year, it will spend a reported $125 million on the midterm elections, most of it aimed at defeating Democrats.” (from the New York Times article)

These two men have enough money to BUY our democratic procedure–and they obviously have–and then turn it into their own personal Kochlandia, the United States Of Koch Industries. Where they cannot donate openly as themselves, they give through a variety of groups, such as Americans for Prosperity, or any of the Super PACs that give money to those candidates who have essentially proved themselves…bribe-able. You think that the money is not reaching our elected representatives?  Take a look at this, a list of the top 50 richest members of Congree — which only measures the increase in wealth in the past year. I’m sure that a fair amount of the increases occurred through totally legal means, like investments. So maybe instead of looking just at relative wealth, we need to find out which members of Congress go to the Koch Brothers’ annual “picnic”. To quote that article, “The highly secretive mega-donor conference, called “American Courage: Our Commitment to a Free Society,” featured a who’s who of Republican political elites. According to conference documents obtained through a source who was in attendance, Representatives Tom Cotton (AR), Cory Gardner (CO) and Jim Jordan (OH) were present, as were Senators Mitch McConnell (KY) and Marco Rubio (FL).”

What do these two men, who together are worth more than 80 BILLION dollars (some sources say 100 billion), want from the nation’s government? How about tax laws that continue to favor the very rich with taxes that are very low, and sometimes even nil–or worse, with tax credits for various business, they can actually receive a (sizable) tax return. How about the dismantling and discarding of almost every Federal regulatory law? EPA, campaign donation limits, a corporation’s rights to be comparable to a human being (and citizen)? How about gutting almost every single social service (food stamps and welfare), as well as getting rid of Social Security? The list goes on and on–and every item is something that will benefit David and Charles, fuck the rest of the country.

It’s apparently irrelevant that they are old and will eventually (sooner rather than later) die–and then their greedy and selfish political policies (which would now be OUR LAWS) would continue to persist beyond their lifetime. They don’t care about what happens after they die–not even to their own children, who will inherit their wealth and will never have to worry about finding food, shelter or healthcare. The primary inconsistency with their agenda versus the reality of the USofA is that the Koch brothers have never had to worry about the basic needs for life. They don’t have a clue what it feels like to have to choose between paying rent and getting the car fixed, or needing medical care but unable to afford it–and any of the other myriad problems faced every single day by our citizens, in numbers that are too large to be ignored. David and Charles are the Supreme Oligarchs. They exhibit pretty much every trait of a psychopath, being out to get theirs and without a thought for anyone else. They will, and do, use their enormous wealth to ensure a country in which they can do whatever they want, without limits or censure.

All right, let’s take a look from the other side, using Senator Mitch McConnell as an example. From the Tampa Bay Times, PolitiFact section: (in regards to lobbyists’ donations) “With $281,301 in contributions from lobbyists, McConnell topped the list, followed closely by House Speaker John Boehner at $278,380. McConnell has also received another $50,000 from family members of lobbyists.” And from Open Secrets, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog website run by the Center for Responsive Politics, Mitch McConnell’s *personal* page on their site shows $21 million in campaign monies and lists all the non-constituent sources for those donations. There’s another website whose opening words are this: “After 30 years in the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell only serves the interests of his big money donors and not Kentucky. Send him packing!”. (from Big Money Mitch) There is also plenty of sources that attest to the fact that much of his campaign money came from donors outside of his home state of Kentucky.

There’s even a whole page devoted to McConnell’s campaign finances, readable here. The Senator doesn’t even know his state university’s basketball team and used the wrong team in his big political, “I’m all about YOU, Kentucky” ad. All of this sort of suggests that Mitch is not only for sale, he is already bought and paid for. He has continually denied legislation that would harm his owners but benefit the rest of us, from even being brought to the floor for debate…or he filibusters those laws out of existence. (See an article here that talks about how incredibly UNproductive the 113th Congress was this year.)

I mentioned the theocracy that is also creeping up into the political scene. The people elected into any position that will give them the opportunity to make decisions that affect other’s rights are NOT elected to use that position to express their religious beliefs nor are they to make that decision based on their religious. Note the wording: “EXPRESS their religious beliefs, BASED ON their religious beliefs”.

Does this mean that they cannot hold religious beliefs? Oh Dreaded Cthulhu, of course NOT. They can have any religious belief they want, because freedom of religion is one of our Constitutional rights. They can go to their church/synagogue/temple/forest glade every day, bow to Mecca/Jerusalem/Los Angeles 5 times a day, wear nothing but handspun virgin silk underwear, blessed by their Grand Poobah; they can wear crosses or Stars of David or pentacles or dollar sign pendants. They can shave their head/never cut their hair/have a Little Dutch Boy bob. They can be elders/deacons/priests/pastors/missionaries/Sunday School teachers/Shamans/monks/nuns/Grand Poobahs. BUT (let me say that again: BUT) they CANNOT, absolutely and irrevocably, CANNOT use their religious beliefs (and practices) as way to limit anyone else’s Constitutional AND HUMAN rights.

Their very right to have those religious beliefs is founded from the exact same source as other people’s rights to have their own religious beliefs and ideas: the US Constitution. It’s all about the same political issues: human rights, whether it be a woman’s right to select her own choices for reproductive healthcare, or social services, or any of the other topics that come into the national spotlight and require some type of governmental action, such as creating legislation to enforce laws that address these human rights and provide for the common good. Anytime you have laws that make second class citizens out of any particular demographic, it’s wrong. Plain and simple wrong. To hide behind your religion and make those laws (see any law regarding the limiting of reproductive choices for women) is wrong and hypocritical.

Speaking of hypocrites, too many of our elected representatives “talk the talk” of being religious, will state that their religious views (and what God is telling them when he calls every night) is what guides them in their decision-making process when creating our laws. Let me repeat: your religion has NOTHING to do with OUR legislative process. It cannot influence your vote–or you MUST abstain, voting neither aye or nay on the bill at hand. But there’s no need to fear–these modern Pharisees, who boast loudly about how much money they give to their church, how often they teach Sunday School or how long they were gone on missionary work overseas, these false Christians don’t really believe all the religious stuff.

Remember, their first and best loved god is GREED. Combine that with the obvious psychopathic mind they all seem to carry and you’ve got someone who will use anything, any means, where nothing is sacred or out of bounds to be fodder in their attempts to control the American public, as decreed by their Corporate Overlords. This is what I mean when I said that we have an oligarchy with theocratic overtones. It’s not a truly religious attempt to remove the current government–but it’s a great smokescreen to confuse the non-believers and a great leash to maintain control over those who sincerely believe that God wants these people in Congress. And it’s that part of our population that stands to be the most astonished and infuriated when they finally wake up to the fact that they (and their God) were played as patsies in some wanna-be big shot’s run for public office.

Do you really need any more proof that the corporations and Big Money have corrupted our Congress and the legislative process? Do you need any more proof that we are, indeed and in every sense, an oligarchy? The democratic system is a false front to the hidden machinations and subterfuge that is overwhelming our legislative process–and is doing its damnedest to control the SCOTUS as well, so that any lawsuits brought against legislation will lost out at the highest level court of the USA. The “War on Women”, the disenfranchising tens of thousands of voters, the repeated denial of sufficient funds for programs that support social services, veterans, the elderly and so on (which are then pointed to as “failures” because they are not able to meet their assigned need with the shrinking amounts of money they are given–and “should just be gotten rid of”), are all a part of this psychopathic indifference to the greater good, the good of most, if not all, of the people. Who has time to care about hungry children and single mothers not having healthcare when you’ve got to be at the Koch’s big summer bash?

To all of those people who could have voted, but didn’t–I say “SHAME ON YOU”. YOU are the reason we’re looking at the GOP winning so many seats, so many positions within our government. To those of you in our country who get all of your news information from FOXNews, I say, “DOUBLE SHAME ON YOU”. Out of the thousands of words these talking heads (or the blond bimbos with CFM shoes and skirts that look more like a wide belt…) say, only 18%– EIGHTEEN per cent of it is true. That means that 82% of it is lies, damned lies and statistics. (Credit for that saying goes to Mark Twain.) By all the gods and sweet, dread Cthulhu, learn to think for yourself. Don’t believe what you are told by someone you don’t know (TV news “entertainment” shows); don’t believe what you are told by your pastor, minister, or reverend that involves politics because that is NOT their area of expertise.

And I would ask, although I’m pretty sure it’s a failing proposition, that all Christians who think God is telling them what to do when it comes time to vote, remember that this is a God who usually solved things through violence and murder–including the murder of his own son. Not exactly well informed on the current political scene and certainly not unbiased. Those who are seeking political office because “God told me that I would be in Congress, come out and vote to do His will” are whack jobs and need better medication. So who do you listen to? How about foreign news sources? Even if they don’t like us, they aren’t usually involved in the ongoing obfuscation and misdirection of the two parties and those who are running for office. How about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert–because we’ve reached the point where comedians provide more honest reporting than any of the so-called “news stations”?

Does your vote actually count any more? Yes it does–but we need a lot more of YOUSE VOTERS to get out and vote–for the candidate that is listening to your needs, the ideas you have about where our country should go and how to get us all there. We are an oligarchy and we need to work together, us peasants, and send them scattering through the night like the Kochroaches they are. As with many of my political essays, I end this one as usual, with this:
The Revolution is coming.
“We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”