Conscience and Consequences

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”)


(Ed. note: when I speak of any group, such as white males or young women and so on, I do not mean ALL of the members of that group, but as a generalization that may or may not be true for any particular individual. Cut me some slack, Literal Lizards.)


The Presidential elections are over. (Along with any down-ticket candidates, as well as state referendums.) I suppose we have to congratulate those who voted for the winner; their voices were many and they were heard. I live in California and we voted for a variety of referendums, but the one that will be most often mentioned is the one for legalizing marijuana. Gods know we’re going to need something to calm us down.

This blog is meant for those who voted for any party besides the Democrats or the Republicans. Let me be the first to congratulate you for “voting your conscience”. I assume that you feel pretty darned pleased with yourselves. I just want to be sure that you understand that I also voted my conscience — and lost.

I am a huge (“YUUGE”) fan of consequences and truly hope that you get to reap yours. They are probably not at all related to that for which you voted. I tried, for the past 2-3 months, to explain why the 3rd party option was not a viable choice. I gave you historical references and scientific explanations. I pointed out that the last candidate to actually win as a 3rd party offering was Abraham Lincoln–and he was bringing the Republicans in as a new political party. (Out went the Whigs, never to be heard from again–so to speak.) I shared with you that I HAD voted 3rd party in 2 elections which both went to the “other” party instead of the most likely. (Ross Perot handed the win to Bill Clinton. Ralph Nader handed the win to GW Bush.)

I also tried to explain how HRC was not the “evil, criminal, corrupt” person that the GOP has been slandering for the past 25 years. The so-called “scandals” were all found to be nothing more than unsubstantiated rumor. If you believed everything bad that was ever written about her, then you also have to agree that she wouldn’t have had the time to do the real work that she did accomplish. I’ve heard that she’s left a trail of bodies, up to 46 of them. Trust me, serial killers do not get away with that sort of funny business these days, with all the new forensic tests–especially DNA. But you believed what you wanted to believe and insisted on saying that “there’s no difference between them” or “she’s just as bad as he is”.

If you want to know what the differences are, check out my earlier blogs. I’m not going to waste my time repeating all the arguments I’ve made before. No, I’m going to share the analysis I have worked on most of this day, to see if the 3rd party votes affected the outcome. Answer: Of course it did. I told you it would. I wasn’t kidding. I did the math; I compared HRC to DJT on a state-by-state basis. I looked at the actual results and then I figured what the results would have been if all of the 3rd party votes went to one or the other. I even figured the results if the 3rd party votes had been evenly split between the candidates. I also figured the changes in the electoral votes for those conditions.

So let me tell you the results. Obviously, if DJT got 1/2 or all of the 3rd party votes, he would have won. If HRC had gotten all of the 3rd party votes, she would have won instead. If she only got 1/2 of those same votes, she would have won enough electoral votes to win the election for all but 2 of the states she had won with all of the 3rd party votes. And if she had only had Gary Johnson’s votes, she would have won. If the winner was chosen by popular vote, HRC would have won. (1)

Don’t ever tell me that 3rd party voting doesn’t affect the elections. I TOLD you it did and you wouldn’t believe me. I don’t care if you believe it or not. You will NEVER tell me that it doesn’t–and didn’t–happen exactly as I said.

Now here we are, with the GOP in complete control of our government. They have the President and Congress. And they WILL fulfill various agendas they have been pushing for years. Let’s talk about some of the things that will change.

First and probably the single most important action will be the replacement of Supreme Court judges. They were content to let the court sit with 8 Justices for Mr. Obama. Don’t be surprised when they start loading that up with Republican, conservative judges who will affect decisions for 30-40 years. (Through about 10 more Presidential elections.) This could very well mean:

1. Reversing the marriage act, thereby NOT allowing LGBTQ people to marry and have the same civil rights as the “one man-one woman” (Christian) marriage

2. Reversing Roe v. Wade and making abortion illegal nationally. Again.

3. Reversing or allowing the reversal of every progressive, inclusive action, such as transgender use of bathrooms, LGBTQ rights to adopt and so on.

4. The addition of Fundamental Protestant (Christian) religion into our government, at all levels. This will affect all of us — if religion has a higher status than the laws, the laws will be ignored and the elected officials will do “what God told (them) to do”. This will cover all topics, but will have special influence on such things as birth control, family planning, IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), surrogacy, miscarriage, and marital rape. It could possibly overturn the individual state’s laws on the right to assisted suicide and marijuana legalization.

(What makes that particular possibility so ridiculous is the complete irony of the “religious” lives of most of the GOP elected officials. DJT has been married 3 times, committed adultery, and has consistently broken laws. Gingrich has also been married 3 times. Christie may be going to jail for crimes (Bridgegate). Palin, who advocates abstinence only as birth control, has an unwed daughter with two children, by two different men. I’m not talking about the normative of “being human”, I’m talking about having laws that will only apply to some people (non-Christians) and don’t have to really be adhered to, if you say that you’re a Christian–never mind your actions.)

5. I do not put it past the Republicans to create laws that essentially replace the Jim Crow laws, forcing the black population once more into a LEGAL second class status.

6. I am fairly certain that we will see more onerous and demeaning legislation for all of women’s rights, particularly for healthcare choices. Women will not see equal pay or equal opportunity during this Presidency.

Which brings me to this astounding statistic: about 42% of women voted AGAINST their own best interest and voted for DJT. (2) That is close enough to being half which makes me wonder just how that many women could really believe he was the best choice. Besides the obvious legal moves (reversal of Roe v. Wade), women can now expect to be sexually assaulted on an even higher rate; it’s just become Presidential to grab pussy. (Who knew?) It’s possible that EOE might disappear, but even if it isn’t overturned, reported incidents may just be ignored because there would be no penalty to not purusing corrective action. We may see an upswing in women being catcalled–with a vocabulary of filthier and nastier words to describe us. DJT has made that all right. And promotions beyond the lowest management levels may cease to exist for women as men feel entitled to disrespect and debase them.

I don’t know if those things will happen, but they do seem possible now in a way that they haven’t since…oh, about 1975?

Among the others who stand to lose from a DJT Presidency, about 12% of the electorate were the black voters, a drop from the elections in 2012; 8% of that number voted for him. Latinos as a group did not grow as much as predicted from 2012, being only 11% of the electorate; out of that number, 29% voted for him–even though he has promised to “build a wall” (and have Mexico pay for it) and “deport all the illegal immigrants”. (3) Even the Asians produced 29% of the votes for him.(4)

I can understand the white males voting for him; he will be their savior from “giving up rights” to the others who are not white males. But why on Earth would anyone vote FOR someone who has promised to make their lives miserable? The Muslims in this country are now worrying about becoming the Jews in our version of Hitler’s facist government. And even if DJT wants to “send them all back”, where, really, would they go? Is it ethical to return civilians to a war zone? Possibly. Is it the right thing to do, is it the moral thing? Absolutely NOT. But we know that That Man doesn’t have normal morals.

Let’s talk about what could be some consequences with that lack of a moral compass or any altruistic traits he might have and how they could then affect all of the country:

1. The FBI investigation into Comey’s behavior with his announcement last week? Probably will not even happen.

2. As President, DJT is now protected from criminal charges, at least for the next 4 years. That is one hell of a stalling tactic to prevent jail time for RICO violations and raping a child, if he were found guilty of them.

3. Federal agencies designed to keep us safe and the environment clean may very well be removed. No more OSHA, no more EPA.

4. Rumor has it that he will select Sarah Palin for Secretary of the Interior. You know, the person who is responsible for land management, national parks, and such. She could do such things as allow unlimited hunting (from helicopters); destruction and subsequent commercialization of our national parks. This is an action that if done, is completely devestating and irreparable. There would be no going back. She could also authorize pipelines and fracking. Resources extracted, leaving severe, perhaps unfixable, environmental damage, as well as spiritual (Standing Rock camp and the Dakota pipeline).
Yet another action with permanent consequences and no possible way to make it right again.

5. With both a Republican President as well as a Republican Congress, you can expect the GOP and the Koch Brothers/Robert Mercer/Heritage Foundation and etc, to push through laws that meet their ongoing agendas. Look at any GOP candidate’s platform specifically for the past 8 years, but also the past 20, even 30 years.

But there are some other (possible) consequences that will be hallmarks of DJT’s Presidency: he has made it acceptable to say “Nigger” again. He encourages violence against those who disagree (with you). Women are to be objectified, nothing more than breeders and trophies, beyond even the current levels of misogyny. He has set the stage to have several “sets” of citizens: the white men, white privilege, white “superiority”, white SUPREMACY, as the first class, all rights, no worries subset. Then will come, in varying degress of second class status, the women, the blacks, the Latinos, the immigrants, the Muslims…anyone who is NOT a white male.

The whole world has watched this election and the results with growing horror. As I have heard said, “We have embarassed ourselves in front of the world.”. While I agree with that at one level, I don’t agree completely.

There is NOTHING new in this “embarrassment”. It’s not a momentary faux pas, to be quickly passed over and a fresh round of drinks for everyone. What we are seeing now: racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and bullying, are all parts of who we are AND have always been. I would suggest that DJT appeals to so many precisely because he’s not afraid to be the ultimate example of all that is wrong between humans. You have heard me say before that he is a Narcissistic Sociopath–he also encourages the Narcissistic Socipath’s way of thinking and decision making processes. And this occurs even in people who are neither Narcissists nor Sociopaths on their own. We should thank him for showing us the real face, the real collective personality, of our nation.

There are still people alive who remember the violence and fury of the Civil Rights era. There are still people alive who remember the corruption of our government by Richard Nixon, the wars we never called “war” but fought in, the “war on drugs” which was the excuse for the minimalizing the effects of blacks and “hippies”.  Our whole damned history, from day one, has been nothing BUT divisions, unrest and outright rebellion against inequality–and the often violent response to quash those rebellions. We have always had a first class and a second class–and sometimes that second class was a legal reality, not just a social one.

This country was founded by rich, land-owning, educated white males. The Declaration of Indepence and the Constitution were written by rich, land-owning, educated white males. The first government was a selection of rich, land-owning, educated white males. The entire framework and processes for that government were put in place by rich, land-owning, educated white males. Of course they set it up to benefit themselves!

With this election, we have returned to 1776 overnight. As DJT selects his cabinet, his words to his supporters just 3 days ago have already been proven…”not so” true. Far from “drain(ing) the swamp”, he has gone straight to K Street for appointees.(5) (For those not familiar with DC, K street is where all the lobbyists have their offices.)

Welcome to the oligarchy,with a definite theocratic air–but money over God, every time. Except for Michael Pence, whose own definition of “who he is” begins with Christian. Before Conservative, before Republican, the other terms in that chain.

I offer you the fantasy of Pence, as VP and Trump’s foreign policy handler, going to Saudi Arabia and trying to convert them before talking about mutual trade agreements. (Or borrowing money from them.)

Yes, children, the money, the money, the money will ALWAYS come first. Remember, Trump is a businessman! It’s ALL about the Benjamins. And with corporate lobbyists in cabinet positions, the corporations have won open control of our government. As has been pointed out to me, the last time Republicans held control of all three parts of government, we had this little party, known as the “Great Depression”. (Great for the rich; Depression for the rest of us.) I see no reason to not anticipate a repeat. After all, the economy will almost assuredly tank.

When I speak of “the economy”, I am NOT talking about Wall Street with their pretend (electronic) money and profit margins. (That’s another blog, for another day.) I am speaking of the real economy, the one that affects you and me. The economy of working 2 or 3 jobs to have a bare subsistence. The economy of having to choose between buying diapers for the baby or feeding the rest of the family. The economy of the middle class finally disappearing in a mountain of debt and over-extended credit cards. As I tell people, if your business model is “Buy one, Get one”, it means two things: your original prices were set way too high, and (surprise!) no one is buying things. Why not? Because they can’t bloody afford it, you git.

In 2013, 47% of our nation lived one major catastrophe from poverty.(6) Things have improved over the past three years: “In 2015, there were 43.1 million people in poverty, 3.5 million less than in 2014.”(7) Keep in mind that those two numbers are for people who are IN poverty, not just scraping by and barely beyond poverty themselves. Recent statistics for those who are in poverty put it at 13.5%, or 43.1 million people. The ones who are living on that danger line are another 31.7% (100.9 million people). So the two groups together come to 44.8%, or 144 million people.

The country as a whole has 324,968,153 citizens as of Friday, November 11, 2016.(8) That means 44% of our fellow Americans STILL have a poor (literally) standard of living. That’s almost half. A better way to imagine millions in a more personal way is to look at a line of people. It doesn’t matter how many are in the line; our brains can really only hold onto the personal knowledge of about 150 people. More than that and it’s no longer a personal concern to you. Looking at your line, you can figure that every other person is living either at poverty level ($24,250) or “twice the poverty level” ($48,500).(8) Those dollar amounts are for a family of four, two adults with two children and the data is from 2015.

Let’s put those numbers into an even easier way to handle the concepts they represent. Poverty level means that a family of 4 is living on roughly $2000/month, or about $400/week. “Twice the poverty level” (meaning the poor who are not considered to be “in poverty”) means that the same family of four is living on $4000/month, or $1000/week. The MEDIAN income, meaning the average from the highest and the lowest households is $55,775 or about $4770/month, or $1143/week.

There is not much of a margin between the median income and “twice poverty level”. $143 is all that separates the two. I believe we will see the income go down and the number of families on the edge go up in the months ahead. Incidentally, you would need an income of over $87,000 to have exactly the same standard of living (on the edge) in Washington, DC. Or perhaps this will make it easier to imagine: in 2016, “Children were food insecure at times during the year in 7.8 percent of U.S. households with children (3.0 million households), down significantly from 9.4 percent in 2014.”(9)

That is over 13 MILLION children who go to bed hungry regularly. HERE, in America, “Land of Plenty”. My ass.

That’s just one item that will have changes (for bad, or if we’re lucky, for good); I am not going to enter into a discussion about how the USA’s new President and his Congress might have a negative influence for the rest of the world. Although I do want to mention that if we really back out of the climate change agreements, so will everyone else. There goes the planet. If the oceans continue to warm up, all life within them will die. (Except for those weird things that live on the volcanic vents, down in the Stygian depths.)

There is a lot of fear in our nation now; those who did not vote for Him are now anxious about what this Presidency will mean. We know what he’s said he will do; now we are concerned that he will, in fact, actually do those things. You know: build a wall on our southern border; deport the immigrants, walk away from NAFTA and NATO, and et cetera.

Those are the obvious fears. This election brought out ALL of the cockroaches (so to speak). It has shone a light on how deeply racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and xenophobic far too many of our citizens truly are. These are entrenched world views, based on upbringing, tradition, and misinformation; they really all boil down to this: HATE. I even have to add religious beliefs to that hate because so many people believe that God told them it was just fine to have this hate for others who are different. My greatest fear, and deepest sorrow, is that we will never be able to get past the hate, that we will always be “us against them”, with various names put into that equation.

Will we ever have a truly UNITED States of America?

I seriously doubt it. That’s a consequence I’d rather not have to live with.


Sources:
1. Excel worksheet by author, available upon request.
2. CNN Elections Results
3. CNN Politics
4. USA Today Demographics
5. Cabinet Selections (CNN)
6. Poverty Statistics 2013 (Salon)
7. Census Statistics on Poverty 2016 (US Census)
8. Basic Statistics (From Talk Poverty)
9. Hunger in America (From the World Hunger Organization)
10. Cost of Living (Career Trends)

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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”)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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.)

The Lesser Evil, The Third Party Option or the Final Solution?

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”)


This began life as a posting on FB, responding to this post and the comments that ensued like a college food fight.
DTNationalEmergency
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s VERY easy to make a choice for who our next President shall be. Let’s list the potentials:
1. DT, a racist, homophobic, Anti-Semitic, misogynistic, FAILED businessman. NO political history to show us how he would function within the Federal Government or any government at any level. He has the attention span of a gnat and the willingness, shall I even say the eagerness to use the nuclear option. He is also facing possible (edited) criminal charges of sexual assault and rape; he has 5500 lawsuits pending against him. Both of these things prove that he is a liar and a man who does what he wants and refuses to accept the consequences. And he has visible, traceable connections to Vladimir Putin–and money is the majority of that connection.
His Vice Presidential candidate is a known politician–and known for making laws that mirror DT’s views. For the gods’ sake, Pence voted “no” on the hate crime law. And this is the man who would be the President, DT has already said so. Pence would be managing the daily affairs and our foreign policies. (And DT is already talking about pulling out of NATO and the WTO.)
(Here’s a link that will show how DT has consistently lied to America.)
(Here is the link to Mike Pence on the Wiki. And here is his website. Feel free to compare the two sites.)
2. Hillary Clinton. A career politician, former First Lady and Secretary of State. Consistently smeared by the GOP and her detractors so much so that you can’t even tell what is a lie and what is not. She has been cleared of wrong doing in the Benghazi debacle; the email scandal was created by others and she has been shown to be no more wrong about them than any other politician with a personal email server, Colin Powell and Condeleeza Rice to name two. Her associations with Wall Street are known. Her husband, First Dude Bill, couldn’t keep his pecker in his pants while he was President but that doesn’t mean HC had anything to do with that. She was successful as the Secretary of State, meeting with our international allies and discussing things rationally and to mutually acceptable conclusion. Her political history very strongly supports the view that she would do everything else before ever pushing that red button. She speaks the language of the government. She has experience, she is extremely smart, and she behaves like an adult.
Her Vice Presidential candidate is Tim Kaine. He is the junior Senator for VA in Congress. He has a political history that is easily checked. He is for women’s rights, LGBT and black equality, and helping the people he was elected by.
(In the interest of fairness, here is a link that discusses the various “scandals” for HC. I would like to point out that this article specifically addresses the continued “scandals” and attacks on her with this: “With Hillary Clinton leading the field for the Democratic nomination for president, every Clinton scandal—from Whitewater to the State Department emails—will be under the microscope. (No other American politicians—even ones as corrupt as Richard Nixon, or as hated by partisans as George W. Bush—have fostered the creation of a permanent multimillion-dollar cottage industry devoted to attacking them.)”)
Here’s a link to Tim Kaine on the Wiki. And here is his website. Feel free to compare them and then compare them to Mike Pence.)
3. Third party candidate. Apparently Jill Stein is one. I haven’t heard of ANY others. Regardless of their ideology, their political history and their personal character, they are UNKNOWNS. We have as much idea about their type of Presidency as we do for DT. Historically, any third party candidate splits the votes and the least-wanted candidate usually ends up winning. From Bill Moyer: “Abraham Lincoln — who ran as a Republican during the era of Whigs and Democrats — was America’s last third-party candidate to successfully win the presidency.” Folks, that was 1860. 150 years ago. With a MUCH smaller population and without Fox, CNN and MSNBC all barraging us with lies, half-lies and statistics. Since that time, all the 3rd party candidates have done is split the ticket and upset the apple cart, leaving the other party’s candidate as the President.
So as Amy said, you “just want someone who can row.” In this case, that means someone who has the ability to do the job, who has the background and education to handle the complexity of the Chief Executive’s workday, someone who can meet with our allies and not insult them to their faces. We need someone who will be a representative on the world stage that we can be proud of and support. We need a President who will continue the work for equality and healthcare and improving people’s lives–and not undoing the last 60 years of equal rights for all.
We need a President who will select the best person to sit on the Supreme Court, not just rubber-stamp the person chosen by their corporate Overlords. (Or the person who gives them the most money.) The SCOTUS will be there long after the President has gone to retirement, even after serving 2 terms, should it come to that. And they have, if you didn’t know, an ENORMOUS influence on YOUR daily life by making decisions on laws and court cases that deal with the issues we all face, such as the right to our own bodies, the right to love whomever we love and to marry them if we choose; the right to a living wage, to education and how it is presented, and many other topics of what we would call “daily living”. The SCOTUS should represent ALL of the people and that requires a court that has a diversity in its members.
At this point in the election process, insisting that you’d never vote for HC OR DT, but will vote “your conscience and select the 3rd party candidate” is a childish, thoughtless way to make your choice. It’s just like the Brits who voted to leave the EU–many of them were protest votes and they were shocked to find themselves cast out into the world on their own. (Economy wobbled worse than it was already wobbling, pound crashed, general bad stuff happened.)
This is NOT the time for petty “I’ll show you!” voting. And I’m sorry, but it’s not even time for “I truly believe in this 3rd party candidate and all they could do” because they will NOT be elected. For one thing, nobody has heard of them until like Election Day…
And mostly, it’s because they don’t know how to row. If you’re that attached to your 3rd party candidate, then begin the day after Nov 8th and start building your campaign for the 2020 elections. Get their name known, get them on the national media, get them the same type of publicity and campaigning that DT and HC have been doing for the past…8 months? It seems like forever.
But please, please, truly and deeply consider each candidate’s worth and how each of them would be as President, based on what we know now. And DT is apparently a train wreck waiting to happen–but if that’s who you want to vote for, then do it. But if you do not to see That Man in the White House, don’t spoil HC’s chances by not voting for her. A “not vote for her” is simply a vote for DT. It really comes down to that.

EDIT
Another person on my FB feed posted why we should be voting for the 3rd party option. My reply to him includes some additional information about how that extra person on the ballot doesn’t get them elected to the Presidency but certainly changes who would have won.

I said, “Lovely sentiments. No real argument with your statements. HOWEVER, let me share something I read yesterday: “Donald Trump is a national crisis. You do not get to choose who is in the lifeboat with you, but you certainly want someone who can row.”

Your Green candidates only show up on Election Day. If they’ve been campaigning, it was very quietly done because there was no (ZERO) coverage that I could see. I can’t even tell you who the Green candidates are. Which means that most of the nation has also not heard of them. They have no visible public presence. As near as I can tell, they have little actual political experience in anything approaching the national level.

The fact of the matter is really quite simple: we are a two party system. Sorry, your party isn’t one of them. And a 3rd party candidate in this race will only split the vote and give the victory to the very candidate who would be the single worst selection for our President ever. The last time a 3rd party candidate won was in 1860. In the intervening 156 years, not a single one has–but they all split the votes and caused a great change in history. You only have to look back as far as the Bush-Gore-Nader campaigns in 2000. It’s called the “spoiler effect” (See here).
We simply cannot, cannot afford to let that happen. Now is not the time for a protest vote. Look at how well that worked out in Britain.”

A Changing World (and not for the Better)

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”)


So Britain has voted, by a relatively slim but significant number, to bow out of the European Union (EU). Apparently many of those who had voted to leave are now Googling “EU” to find out just what exactly it was that they are getting out of. Also apparently, the propaganda machine (“Britain First” is the one I know about; there must be others) convinced a bunch of people that it was in their best interest to exit the EU. The main reason seems to be stopping immigration. (Britain First, policy page)

They also want to keep the UK and not allow Scotland, Ireland et al to have their own sovereignty. “British Unionism”, they call it. That’s okay. But NOT European Union-ism. (I guess adding the “ism” makes the difference.) They want the UK to be a Christian nation–meaning that the government should be Christianity-based. This is a country that has “Jedi” as a recognized religion. What are the odds that many religions are already present on the island? (Hint: a LOT.)

The 5th principle for Britain First read thus: “Britain First stands opposed to all alien and destructive political or religious doctrines, including Marxism, Liberalism, Fascism, National Socialism, Political Correctness, Euro Federalism and Islam. Britain First is a movement of British nationalism, patriotism and democracy.” I don’t think “Political Correctness” is actually a political or religious doctrine. But the sentence serves as a fine example for choosing the words you would use to sway public opinion. Sounds really…stirring. But when carefully read and parsed out to find the real meaning? “We won’t have anything that is different from what (those who voted to leave) we want for our country.” The whole policy statement, with all of its $1, even $5 words…boils down to “we hate anyone or anything that is different and we won’t allow it here.” Regardless of the consequences–which the people are just beginning to understand. Like a 90 Billion pound fall on the stock market. Like not being able to go to any other EU country to live and work freely. Back to visas and paperwork to move addresses. Which I am sure also works in the opposite way: no one coming into Britain for work or to live. They already had a fairly draconian policy; this will make it even harder and worse for those who would like to emigrate to the UK.

I’m sure there will be lots of other unexpected consequences as Britain goes to being just an island nation without the cohesion of an EU to provide support. I understand that each EU nation is expected to assist with the overall health and running of the EU, so it seems like “our” money is going to “them” instead of “us”. Other countries are already beginning their push for leaving the EU, so it will almost assuredly fail and Europe will go right back into its tribal behaviors. Each country will want to do what is best for that country, to hell with the rest of them. Sounds like a recipe for war. You know, like WWI and WWII.

Britain’s action of leaving the EU has started a conversation in my house about what it can mean and how this situation relates to the state of our own country’s union (or lack thereof). I may not live long enough to see it, but I am of the mind that eventually, there will be not just national, but global, chaos and anarchy until the strong achieve victory. (And it may not be the wealthiest, one can only hope.)

We have our own population of misinformed and misguided people, who prefer the pie crust promises (easily made, easily broken) of various groups (politicians, the NRA, the corporations) to the reality of what is occurring right now, right here. For example:

Our financial system is built on fairy farts and sunshine, rather than solid (real) worth. Most of the “money” is electronic potential and not an accurate assessment of a bank’s true capital. (Had a friend who closed an account at TD Bank. They offered a cashier’s check; she refused and asked for cash. They didn’t have enough cash in the branch to pay her. And we’re only talking about $10k, not really a “huge” amount of money.) The stock market and Wall Street are completely based on very pretty but totally fictional stories. It’s either making money from things that haven’t been made or haven’t happened, or it’s “making” money from the appearance of a company’s worth, whether that truly reflects its worth or not. Point of fact: Wall Street has said several times that Blackberry (RIM) is failing…because it is showing lower numbers. Well, figures lie and liars figure. When Blackberry first arrived on the scene, it was the only “smart” phone and has stellar contact and time management software. Which is why it ended up in the hands of many company’s employees. Being first, and pretty much only, at that point RIM was making, let’s say 95% of the profit for that type of product. Then Apple and Google come along with their versions of smart phones and add themselves to the market. RIM’s numbers go down because they are sharing the pie. Never mind that they are still making millions of dollars and doing very well, thank you. Wall Street is not interested in your profits; they are after the “profit margin”, which is how your company compares to the other companies within your product line. And with Wall Street “experts” saying that a company is going to fail…becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as investors remove their money from that company. Even though it was still making money in profits for those investors.

It’s all just a carnival scam; tell me which can contains the ball and I’ll pay you back twice the money paid to play. “Hedge” funds? Shouldn’t even be a term. There are two types of hedges: the green one you have to trim, and the financial kind. That’s defined as “a limited partnership of investors that uses high risk methods, such as investing with borrowed money, in hopes of realizing large capital gains.” One of the key words in that definition is “hope”, the hope that it will lead to big money. It’s got another name besides hedge fund and that’s “Ponzi scheme”, named after the first hedge fund manager shyster who came up with the idea of borrowing people’s money and then using it to make more money. It may work for a while but if your dreams of big pay-offs don’t materialize, you are in deep doo-doo. (Unless you’ve managed to figure out how to keep YOUR money out of the investment hedge.) Eventually, your investors will want their money–and their share of the gain–back. Just ask Bernie Madoff. (Side note: I personally know someone who lost ALL of their money, designed to pay for retirement, because of Mr. Madoff. My friend is working as a waiter and doesn’t figure to ever be able to retire.)

Our government is the best money can buy. Unfortunately, the money was not from the constituents but from corporations and special interest groups. The current schism between the Republicans and Democrats points to the real possibility of the collapse of our political system. At which point, the Brexit vote will look like a walk through the park–our states will each one declare themselves a discrete and autonomous “country”…except maybe the deep South and Texas shall arise as the CSA, something they have wanted for almost 240 years. We have one of the most intransigent, heels dug in, Congress in pretty much our entire national history–not since the Southern States blackmailed the Continental Congress into agreeing to their terms (keeping slavery) or they wouldn’t go along with the revolution. Politicians at every level of government are starting (and in growing numbers) to declare that the US is a “Christian” nation and we need to ignore the Constitution’s rules about a federally-mandated national religion. There is a growing number of Republican white males who think that women’s vote should be taken away. There is too much fuckery with the voting process, between gerrymandering the precincts and not counting all of the votes to every other kind of interference that can be done to keep people from exercising their civil right (and duty). There is no established system to stop and punish the most egregious corruptions of elected power, such as spending millions of taxpayer’s money to repeal an in-place and active law…62 times. Or refusing to even talk to a candidate for the Supreme Court. Or consistently opposing the President on everything, just because. Maybe our “democracy” (which is really a republic, read the definitions for each) should die, so that some form of government that is more inherently equivocal for all citizens can take its place.

Our economy sucks. Sorry to use such a technical term, but it does. When the apparently standard business model is “BOGO”, it means several things: the items are VASTLY overpriced, AND they aren’t selling. McDonald’s is having to close 700 stores because of the loss of income. Almost half of this nation’s citizens live one major catastrophe away from poverty. The middle class only exists as long as the credit cards and multiple mortgages are permitted and not called in to be paid off. I remember 11% interest on Certificates of Deposit and 8% interest on credit cards, as well as checking accounts that offered a decent rate on interest, based on how much you kept in the account. Now it’s considered great if you get even 1% of interest on savings, most checking does NOT give interest and the interest rate on credit cards is usury–or would be if the credit card companies hadn’t lobbied and gotten the usury laws repealed. Our economic issues are not just about taxes on the rich (which essentially are zero). It’s definitely about the off-shoring of jobs and capital investments that could have been used here, in this country, to make our own economy strong, instead of providing Third World countries with smart phone knock-offs and factory deaths. It’s about a minimum wage that does not even begin to cover the true cost of living, leaving those earning it barely enough to scrape by. There is no extra money for anything, so the shopping done is of a bare, subsistence nature: food, home, and car (with its attendant gasoline consumption). It’s about large, influential corporations controlling the prices of necessary items, such as the aforementioned gasoline, to inflate their profit (margins!) and keep their CEO pay levels in the millions. While the people who are really doing the work are making minimum wage. There’s something seriously wrong with a system that pays the CEO in just 1 or 2 minutes what it takes one of their employees to earn in a year.

For a “United” States, we are appallingly divided, along all sorts of lines: gender, gender identification, sexual orientation, age, religion, race, and any other descriptive but separating word. The first three refer mostly to what bathroom you use. Nothing more. They should not be the subject of laws, protests or hate. They are. Religion is the other “hot” divider as too many neo-christians stand up and while pretending to talk for all Christians, deny non-Christians the same right to *their* religion as the neo-christians have. They scream that their religious rights are being ignored or shattered. Well, your right to religion (and religious freedom) does NOT give you the right to hate. And in your hating, to then discriminate, subjugate, endanger or even kill those who have a different religion.

This division between “us” and “them”, whichever description those refer to, is the leading reason we are not really a united country. There is an active but somewhat shadowy presence in our nation (in the world, but we’re dealing with US) that is very carefully crafted to create hate, and its Siamese twin, fear. You hate what isn’t like you, and you fear those who are different. Hard to tell which one comes first, but they do end up together. And this fear-mongering, hate-creating presence (it’s actually made up of a lot of people and groups) leads the less-informed sheeple by the nose, to do whatever it is seeking to achieve.
Ignorance and apathy are its allies. “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” (Joseph Goebbels) Or as Agent K said in “Men in Black”: “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”

Given all of this doom and gloom, what are the chances of this nation of ours being a truly united country? Unless things change (and they have been know to do that), I would predict a painful splintering into the various state-nations or clump-of-state-nations. The chances for bringing all 50 states back into a cohesive country becomes almost impossible at that point. Any method of uniting would require conquering all the independent sections. It’s not 13 colonies in a single, relatively small geographical space; we’ve grown to cover this land from sea to shining sea. And even our Founding Fathers had some in-fighting: the Declaration of Independence originally had a paragraph that would have abolished slavery. The Southern states, particularly South Carolina and Georgia, were so adamant about its removal that they refused to ratify the document it it wasn’t taken out. There was also some Northern support for removing it–from men who were slave traders and therefore had a vested interest in maintaining the slavery status quo.

We have (naturally) settled into specific areas; the East Coast, the South, the Midwest, the West Coast and so on. While we have tangible separations, such as rivers and mountains, we have many, many more intangible ones. And these are the things we are seeing in our daily social life: urban “jungles”, police killing civilians without verifying any wrong-doing prior to shooting and a distinction I particularly abhor: intelligence is vilified. Simple answers seem more than suitable for problems that are actually quite complex and will not take a one word or one sentence answer to solve. Hatred and fear are being fomented on many fronts, but particularly in the gender/sexual orientation identity and the same old racial arguments. We have a large–and apparently growing–population that is racist, sexist, homophobic and rabidly, religiously, zealots. They do not see the large picture, or the long term effects of the things they want to change now. People who know me, like my kids, will tell you that this is one of my favorite sayings: “In Nature, there is no right or wrong. There are only consequences.” I think that this group of stupid, hateful, and fearful people have no concept of the consequences of the things they think they want. Like the British subjects who voted to leave the EU because they thought it would keep immigrants out, our own haters want to dismantle the Federal government, limit the state governments and make their rules the ones that count.

There is no way that it cannot lead to violence and the shattering of a 240 year old nation that began with violence. I saw the fact mentioned that the US has been in some kind of war for 222 years, or 93%, of its existence. What does that say about us ‘Murrricans? I could say that it means we are a violent people, accustomed to using violence to solve any differences. That’s apparently true. But I also think that we can be better than that, that we can grow up and stop using fistfights to end disagreements. We have the potential, as does every nation, every being, to set aside violence, fear and hate as being unnecessary and a hindrance to meaningful and thoughtful agreements. We have only this planet (at the moment) and we need to stop dividing ourselves into essentially futile groupings, and stop using insignificant terms of description for that splintering. We are part of our nations, to be sure. But at the end of the day, when all the reason for division is removed, we are, at our very core, human beings. Every single man, woman and child on this planet. Just amazing human beings–which are so much more than our plumbing, our skin color, how long we’ve been alive or what god or gods we believe in.

As our elections draw nearer, we’ve each got some decisions to make. Who will be our best hope as President? Who will we choose to represent us on the international stage, to be the leader of our goals (living wage, different tax laws to keep the rich people from hiding their wealth in the Caymans,) and to work with the entire Congress to keep our country running? This also means that we have to vote for the Congress critters who will adhere to the promise of serving their constituents and will work with the President for us and the US. Don’t vote to leave the nation. Vote to stay together, to work together and keep this country to the ideals we have about it: democracy, equal rights, compassion, and working together, no matter our differences.

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.

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.”

The Politics of Religion (Alternately, The Religion of Politics)

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”)


“Truth is hate to those that hate the truth, and this is the truth. They don’t like it and they label me a hater, and it isn’t that at all. I love them enough to tell them they are on the wrong path.” ~~Christine Weick, author, avowed Christian and anti-gay demonstrator. (Christine’s bio from the “Explain This!” site)


Wow. Isn’t that nice of her, to go around telling other people that they are wrong? I don’t really remember Jesus Christ ever mentioning anything along those lines. “Go now and point out to the other people around you what they are doing wrong.” Seems to me his message was more along the lines of “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” and “do not speak of the mote in your brother’s eye when you cannot even see the plank in your own.” But hey, she feels strong enough about it that she’s out there, demonstrating against the gay pride parade, got a slushie thrown on her and then threatened the thrower with pepper spray. How’s that for living your beliefs?


Let’s stop for a moment here and take a look at a couple of the words we’re going to use a lot in this blog: religion, spiritual path, beliefs, faith, and Truth.


I reject “religion” as a hierarchical, bureaucratic and manmade system, designed to program its followers into “sheeple” who cannot think for themselves. So when I say religion, believe me, it’s said with disdain. I think organized religion (as opposed to unorganized or disorganized religions?) is a corruption of what might ever have been originally intended, depending on which Holy Book you follow. So the Christians have no monopoly on it–the Muslims are also very adept as using sacred texts to further their own agendas. The Holy Book is cherry-picked to support and validate individuals’ personal concepts of faith, right and wrong, and belonging to the “right” group to gain salvation and/or eternal life. With or without virgins.

To be “saved” seems to be the culmination of interaction between a person and their chosen god/God. There’s nothing left to do but live your life out, waiting for either the Rapture or your own death to be with God. You went to the special building, you listened to The Man in the pulpit tell you how to “save” your soul, to be washed in the Blood of the Lamb, to be contrite and repent your sins, so that you can accept Jesus as your personal savior and live in the glory of His Kingdom forever. Well, what comes between “washed in the Blood/saved” and “His Kingdom forever”? There are OF COURSE, lots and lots of truly devout, truly loving and generous Christians. We’re not talking about those. We’re talking about the ones who seem to think that all they have to do is say, “I’m a Christian” and they will be accepted into their college of choice, they will get the plum job that they wanted, they will meet and marry their perfect partner–which I could live with. What gets me is that there is a vocal contingent of Christianity that seems to think that they can say “I’m a Christian” as if it were a badge of superiority, giving them all kinds of precedence over everyone else.

And it’s being used within the context of our political scene–prayers leading council meetings, Nativity scenes in front of the county courthouse, and so on, all the way up to the national level, with legislation against women’s health choices based on the “Christian” ideas of virginity and conception. And if you mention that they can’t have religion in their government (and other civic, public venues), they whine that they’re being prosecuted. But every religious belief outside of theirs, every other spiritual path, is denied the same rights as Christians on a regular basis. (The Hobby Lobby decision by the SCOTUS as the prime example)


So what is a spiritual path? How is that different from a religion? First off, it’s not a congregational thing. Oh you probably will find that there is more than one person on any particular spiritual path, but there’s no hierarchy. There’s no organized meetings for the purpose of proselytizing and saving more souls for your Big Man (or Woman) in the Sky. There is much personal introspection, reading a variety of things that help you understand what you believe and how to explain it. Most spiritual paths are ongoing, lifelong process of searching and recognizing the sacred, the Truth, within ourselves and within our world. We are ultimately responsible for our behavior and cannot explain it away by blaming bad behavior on exterior factors (like good ol’ Beelzebub). Most spiritual paths include a deep love of Nature and the planet we live on, which in turn helps us cultivate a sense of connection with other people. Connection–not division from others just because of what color our underwear is, so to speak. The term “spiritual path” covers pretty much every known belief system, but particularly when it refers to the concepts of living a sacred life.


Okay, take a breather. That’s a lot to absorb in one go. Have a sip of your coffee, or whatever is at your elbow. As they say in the military, “smoke’em if you got’em!”

Feeling better? Then let’s go on.


So a religion is a manmade hierarchy of fear and division, with certain individuals holding the power of disseminating the Truth for that belief system. A spiritual path is a Natural progression of seeking the Truth as you understand it (not as you’re told it is) while acting with loving kindness towards all beings.
A belief system is just that, an organized and structured set of beliefs that correspond to your life, your ideas about life after death and if it exists, what is it like, and the requirements for interactions with your fellow humans, as well as with the other animals and life forms that occupy this planet.

What is faith? Faith is believing in that which you cannot see, in the hope of “something better”, either in this life or the next. I have no faith. Everything I believe in, I can see and experience in the world around me. That does not make me a bad person, or someone who, no matter how well my life was lived, is going to Hell because I do not regurgitate the rules and regulations passed down to me (the “thou shalt nots) by another fallible human being.

And that last word we’re gonna use: Truth. “What is truth? Is truth unchanging law? We both have truths, are mine the same as yours?’ Pontius Pilate asked Jesus before sentencing him to death. I challenge you with my understanding of the word “truth” and the difference between “truth” and “Truth”: truth is a dynamic, ever-changing thing. I was a wife, that was true. Then I was not a wife, and that was also true. Now, I am a wife again, so it is true once more. There are many, many aspects of everyone’s life that exist for some amount of time and are, absolutely, true AT THAT TIME. But it can change, and it’s not the truth any more.

Truth, with that all important capital T, is about the Universal Truths of love, life, pain and suffering, how we treat those who can do nothing for us, what we do with our lives to be productive, caring and a beneficial part of the complex web of life. We are all connected, whether we acknowledge that connection or not. What we do affects those around us–sometimes in a profound way, other times it’s just a ripple. But even a ripple can cross the ocean.

I would never suggest that I know the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth, so help me, whichever god that’s listening. Or maybe there is no god at all. Why should your behavior here depend on whether someone “up there” is keeping track or not? I do not live a moral life because I fear hellfire and eternal damnation. I live a moral life, I do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do, a natural response to the acknowledged sacredness of another being. Or as the meme goes, “You don’t need religion to have morals. If you can’t determine right from wrong then you lack empathy, not religion.”


I believe in the opportunity for each person to have a private, holy, even mystical, spiritual path which leads to introspection and contemplation to find the sacred in all things, ourselves included.

AINO – pronounced “ay-no”. Use: AINO way I’ma gonna toe da line of someone else’s reelij-gee-ous ideas. I ain’t got none of dat reelij-gee-on no ways. What I got is a SPIRITUAL path, a set of beliefs and the strong conviction that I do NOT know the only way to the top of the mountain. I will respect any other path, I will defend their right to walk that path…but to use a manmade, hierarchical, bureaucratic and corrupted system to force others to your way of thinking…doesn’t matter if that system is awash in religious symbols and rituals, if it’s got one god’s name or a thousand gods’ names all over it. It’s not a sacred path.

And let me go on record as saying that my previous statement relates only to those Christians who would be the first thrown out of the temple, would be considered “goats”* at the Judgement Day…These people are NOT followers of Christ, they don’t believe nor obey His words. It’s just a convenient shell to hold their bigotry, ignorance and blind obedience to those who feed their bigotry and ignorance by appealing to their overweening sense of superiority to everyone else.


*Refer to Matthew 25:31-46:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All 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. 33 He 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. 35 For 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, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ (My own emphasis, because it seems that this is particularly ignored by the people who insist on their religious expression within non-religious areas like laws and corporate policy.)
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? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When 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. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I 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.’ (Again,  my emphasis. If you read your Bible and call yourself a Christian, you are expected to live by the words of the Carpenter from Nazareth. These, my friends, are His words.)
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”


I used to be Christian; I know a great many Christians who are trying to do what their own book and belief system tell them will lead to a sacred life and the eventual admittance into the presence of their God. I know a great many Christians who are everything the minority is not: caring, nonjudgmental, inclusive, helping–doing the work of the sacred. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the ill and visiting those in prison.

The major difference between these two groups is not so much in their different application of the same system–it’s in their focus. Those who use Christianity to further their own ends, who use it as an excuse to divide the country into “us” and them” are FOCUSED on themselves and what they want. It’s all about them. Remember what Jesus said about the Pharisees and the other Church leaders during his lifetime? Matthew 23: 1-3 “Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law are experts in the Law of Moses. So obey everything they teach you, but don’t do as they do. After all, they say one thing and do something else.” (my emphasis and a good way to check which type of Christian we’re looking at–and it goes on, hereThen there are those Christians who follow the carpenter’s words and are focused on others, on doing FOR others, rather than TO others.

Perhaps it’s time for these Christians to stand up, united across the country–and the world–and reclaim the word “Christian” for its right and proper use. It is possible to be a follower of Jesus and be a militant Christian for the good…Onward, Christian Soldiers! Do your good works, live your good life–and use every opportunity given to you to distance yourself from the false Christians who pervert the meaning of the word!


Are Christians the only people who use their religion as a weapon (yes, I said it!) within the public forums of business and government? Of course not. Check the Middle East. You’ve got handfuls of various sects (of the mostly same religion) who are trying their best to kill each other. You see, that’s the main problem with *KNOWING* you are right–there is absolutely NO wiggle room for anyone else’s point of view. And that’s true beyond just religion–once you are sure that you know about something is the exact same moment you lose the ability to change that idea because of your surety in knowing what you know. We’re back to the concept of “truth” and “TRUTH” and a lot of people do not differentiate. They assign the same value to “truth”, even though it’s dynamic and often can be, even should be, changed as they assign to “TRUTH”, which as I understand it, is pretty immutable. There are constants within our Universe, things that maintain their truthfulness each time we check. And we should check on a regular basis.

Let’s take a look at things here in the USofA, which means talking about Christians. I reiterate my caveat: not ALL Christians are the ones of which we speak. I want you to understand beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am talking about those who talk the talk but do NOT walk the walk. We good on this? Hope so, because here we go.

First, Jesus Christ was not only a religious figure, he was a political figure as well. His death was not carried out because he was trying to get people to be good–but he was a threat to the Pharisees and their supreme position as the arbiter of religion to the Jews. They convinced the Romans that he was also a threat to Roman rule–which could not be tolerated or allowed to remain. There is a thought-provoking article here that addresses this topic, so I suggest you read that and then we’ll continue our discussion.

Okay? Good. Two things I thought were particularly interesting from the article that most of the vocal “Christians” who thunk us non-Christians over the head miss completely:

1. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). …the text is “a call to involvement in the social arena — in the struggle of blacks for true equality, the plight of underpaid workers, pollution of our natural resources, education, ethical problems in politics, medicine, and business, and other contemporary problems — just as Christians were formerly active in the war against slavery, child labor, lack of freedom of the press, and immorality. We should mourn for such things. And we should mourn deeply enough to do something about them.”

It’s obvious to anyone who watches the news (or is on the Internet) that this call to “involvement in the social arena” is pretty well ignored by the very folks it was meant for. They are standing with the crowd that wants to dismantle any and all social safety nets; destroy Social Security; maintain and increase protection for the corporations and their greed in the form of GMO foods or fracking rather than protecting the population from the effects of this corporate greed, and so on. They want to deny equality for anyone who is not like them–which pretty much covers the rest of the population except for old white men and the women they have brainwashed, dominated, or in some other manner gotten to go along with their plans–probably in the form of religious law and quoting Scripture. One of their favorites is this passage from Ephesians, chapter 5:
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Seems straight forward, right? Women are supposed to submit to their husbands (or fathers, or whatever male is in charge of her…) because the Bible says so, (pointing finger at text) RIGHT THERE. Hold on to your hat, gentle reader. Let’s look at the next part of that passage:
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Three verses for the woman and NINE for the man. But it all boils down to this: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church…” And no one seems to add that portion nor live it. Imagine a husband who loves his wife as much as he loves himself, cares for her with the same attention he gives himself. The result of a man loving his wife so dearly is that she will love him–it’s almost a biological instinct for the female. And in turn, her love for him will nourish and strengthen his love for her. It’s a happy happy joy joy cycle. And it’s one that is sorely missing in many of the Christian households that were established only on verse 22.

It seems especially lacking in the very public lives of the tele-evangelists and activist religious leaders. We see a lot of headlines about adultery in what should have been a holy marriage, a sacred bond between two people who love each other and share the common religious beliefs of Christianity. We also see a lot of discovered homosexual behavior among people who condemn the LGBT community for being “unnatural”, “a sin against God” and so on. Hypocrite much?

So the very obvious failure to live the words of being socially involved, to seek out and work for social justice begins at the very hearth of those who have been directed to that social justice. Small wonder that being racist comes easily; the idea that women are walking incubators without rights as people because they aren’t really people–only men are–is a religiously mandated concept; and that anyone who is not like you does not deserve the extraordinary and superior position of privilege you hold just because “you’re a God-fearing, flag waving, loves dogs and small children Christian.”

And as a direct corollary to that, point number 2. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6). … “righteousness is more than that …. In the Hebrew culture, people thought far more about the community than they did about the individual. Righteousness was not primarily about one’s personal relationship with God; it was the standard for right relationships between people … this passion for a righteous society was a part of Jesus’ meaning when He pronounced His blessing on those who hunger and thirst to see righteousness dominate the affairs of mankind.

When you know that you are right, that you alone know the Truth as contained within a book that you pick and choose the parts to support this mindset…righteousness goes right out the window. You have absolutely NO motive for social justice and no desire to be a part of the rest of the community. You separate yourself (and the others like you) from the greater population and in doing so, manage to create the exact opposite of what this verse is teaching. Our country is SO divided: men versus women, blacks versus whites, rich versus poor (a topic for another day, trust me!), “straight” versus “gay”, and on and on. We’re so busy making and maintaining these divisions that we miss out on the fact that the corporations are buying our politicians (we’ve been manipulated into not voting by media propaganda); they are destroying the environment at a rate that is mind staggering; they are poisoning our water, our soil and our air–even with the Clean Air act–and they’d like to remove all regulation from their activities so that they can make even more egregious amounts of money, to hell with the rest of us.
We’ve become a Third World country (see here for just 6 reasons why this is so) and a lot of that has to do with the people who use Christianity to dictate public policy and laws. We can’t teach evolution in our science classes because, well….God made the Earth 6 million years ago and Jesus rode on a dinosaur. We don’t need food stamps or welfare because the poor are just too lazy. If they don’t have food, let them get a job and buy it. Oh, but we’ve sent many of the jobs overseas. (here) And so it goes.


It is easier to control someone who is poorly educated, who has very limited career options, who will carry staggering debt just to get the college degree that is a necessity to get any job beyond “would you like fries with that?” and who turns to religion to try and make sense of this dismal and grinding life. It is easier to control someone by telling them that they are the chosen one, part of an elite group, having the deep knowledge that they are right in all that they believe. It is easier to control the population by fomenting division and encouraging splintering into lots of little groups–none of which has any real ability to create change by itself. It takes a village, so the saying goes. But our “villages” (lives, homes, communities) are being destroyed from external forces (here) or (here) as well as the continuing propaganda against “those not like us” — usually described as “sinners” or worse. How about a “Christian” group whose website page is “Godhatesfags. Really? (here) Yes, really. I cannot find Scriptural verification that God (or Jesus) doesn’t like the LGBT community.


They say that there are three topics one does not discuss at a dinner party: religion, politics or sex. The reason for that is pretty clear: they are all very emotionally loaded subjects, people hold very strong opinions about them and as history has proven, people are willing to die (or to kill) to prove their devotion to their opinion. And when you mix any one of them with another, it’s not just a powder keg– you’ve added an already lit fuse to that explosion waiting to happen. Using your religion to control the politics of our society is a very bad idea for so many reasons–but to me, the main reason you shouldn’t put a private (individual) religion into the rules (laws and policies, state and federal levels) of our society is that you are countering the injunctions given to you by the very man whose words you use to prove you’re right.

By the way, you also are totally ignoring the First Amendment to the Constitution. Once again, it seems like these so-called Christians are using the parts that they like and disregarding the rest. The First Amendment provides for the ‘freedom OF religion”, in that each person shall be responsible for their own religious beliefs and they cannot be punished for them–but it also explicitly states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” which means that while you are allowed to practice your religion, you are NOT to make it a state mandated (or Federally mandated) requirement for the citizens. Politics and religion are not a match made in Heaven (excuse the pun) and should not be the guiding force for any public arena.

If you want to know how your religion fits into having a position within the local, state or Federal government, consider Jimmy Carter. A deeply religious man, he did NOT make his beliefs the law of the land. (here) and (here) If you’re interested in the overall religious beliefs of our Presidents, check the Wiki (here). Is it possible to be both a devoutly religious person AND a political figure? Yes. It just requires a good balance between your own opinions/beliefs and the requirements of the job you hold. This is true of any job–not just politics. Your religious beliefs and the required behaviors of those beliefs are intensely personal (even if an entire congregation practices exactly the same beliefs) and have a very specific place in secular life. Your beliefs should be the guide for your life, to uphold the sanctity of each person, acting in a moral and compassionate manner and to consistently behave in a way that exemplifies those beliefs. Whether you’re the head potato fryer at the local hamburger joint, a cashier in retail, an engineer, a CEO, a city council member or the President of the United States, your religion shows in your actions and not in your words–and is never used as a threat against your fellow man. Or woman.

And that, dear reader, is the politics of religion: live your religion, don’t talk it. Or as the kids say, “If you’re going to talk the talk, you’d better walk the walk.” “For I was hungry and you fed me; I was naked and you clothed me; I was ill and you healed me, I was in prison and you visited me…For as you do this unto the least of these brothers (or sisters), you have done it unto me.”
And now we open up for discussion!

The Challenge of the Complicated Conversation

Christening the Ship

 

Welcome aboard! This is inauguration of what I think is a really exciting idea: the challenge of the complicated conversation. As I say on the Home page, this was inspired by Mikhail Baryshnikov and the commencement speech he gave some time ago. His words resonated with me and I felt compelled to start this blog, to reach out and begin the discussions we need to have–all of us.

Life has a fair number of “tough” topics: politics, religion, sex. We’re in the process of a national debate on things like a woman’s right to make medical decisions for her own body or what do we do about the growing inequality of wealth–already way out of kilter and just getting worse. So this blog will certainly be about current events, the things we find “trending” in our Facebook feed or on Twitter.

It will also be about teaching the youngsters among my readers about history, the way things happened “back in my day” and how that is the same, or different, than today. As the saying goes, “Those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” We look back over the years to understand how we got here–and that’s worth talking about.

But I do not intend to limit this blog to just current events and history lessons. I look forward to other types of complicated conversations–like the ones about gender identity, chronic illness, mental illness, and the big one that no one really wants to talk about: Death. Having worked with the geriatric population, seen death many times…I can tell you that there are things worse than death. Sometimes, “Death is only the beginning.” It’s a conversation that we need to have, to remove the fears and misconceptions about it. The same with mental illness–talk about it to remove the stigma.

So I anticipate some lively threads! As this is my debuting blog, I am just setting the chairs, making sure everyone has drinks, getting ready for the conversations that will follow. I can warn you right now–I do not promise either consistency in topic or frequency of posting. But I was nudged into getting this (finally) up and public by the courageous change of careers from my favorite blog author–gave up his day job and is now a fully independent free lance writer. And he made a great point–treat writing as a job. Get up in the morning, knowing that you will spend a certain amount of time each day writing. It doesn’t matter if you end up trashing 3/4 of it later on…it’s impossible to produce anything of worth if you don’t even get your thoughts down on paper. (Or in this case, down in cyberspace, saved to the hard drive.)

I already have a lot I’d like to share–but if you have a particular subject you’d like to see covered here, don’t hesitate to leave those suggestions in the comments below. We can get to it eventually, promise.

It is my hope (and perhaps one of the driving reasons I am doing this) that our conversations will (of course) simplify the complicated and messy lives we have–and perhaps provide a reason to start your own activism in whatever speaks to you. At the very least I want these conversations to be thought-provoking, awe-inspiring, shockwaves to destroy complacency and apathy. Too many of us have lost ourselves, the real life we are supposed to be living, given up for a 9 to 5 and the “American Dream” (that is actually a lie). I want our interactions to be a wake up call, a thought provoking session that leads to provoking changes in our lives.

I also look forward to other, perhaps more “gentle” conversations about the things that interest us. It doesn’t all have to be life-altering revelations. <grin> No subject is off limits, as far as I am concerned, as long as every conversation is polite and thoughtful, regardless of the topic being discussed.

So I repeat, welcome and have a seat. We are going to have great conversations, you and I. Take the challenge and run with it!