Showing posts with label WTF?. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WTF?. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Youth Apathetic About Election: Are You Kidding Me?






















Vote as if your future depends upon it 
- because it does!

Youth Engagement Falls; Registration Also Declines, Pew Research Center, September 28, 2012.

Come on, young American adults! Is this really you? I don't believe that!

Does your state have early voting? If so, take advantage of it!

"In the United States, voter registration is the responsibility of the people, and only 70 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote have registered." (RegistertoVote.org)

Let's do the math: There are more than 300 million citizens of the United States. 30% of 300,000,000 is 90 million people.  Even if only half of those people are over 18 years old and eligible to vote, there would be 45 million eligible voters who have not yet registered to vote.

Come on, young Americans!  Don't be the No-Show cohort!
Among the 70% of eligible citizens who have registered to vote, the number who actually do vote is shockingly low. The per centage of actual voters by age cohort ranges from less than 30% for registered 18-29 year olds, to a high of just over 60% for 60-69 year olds.  There is not a single age cohort from age 18-49 years old which has a voting record of more than 40%.

Why is it that in a nation that fought a historic battle for independence - not to mention the right to representative self-government - so few of the people today actually exercise that right by voting?  In a world where self-government and constitutionally-guaranteed individual freedoms are a rare and precious commodity, it beggars belief that people who have it do not appear to cherish it and fail to guard it vigilantly. The assumption seems to be that gains once made can never be lost. But history teaches another, grimmer, lesson.

"...that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address.

There is a lot of talk right now about a tiny cabal of extremely wealthy and influential people pouring billions into the upcoming election in order to ensure an outcome which will suit their own interests and not those of the people of the United States. In a democratic Republic, the idea that wealthy or religious elites could rise to such power and influence that they could establish a de facto feudal economic system and authoritarian theocracy - almost exactly the conditions over which this country fought the War of Independence - could only be possible if a majority of the people allow it to happen, through ignorance, through apathy, through intimidation.

But the American people are made of sterner stuff than that.

Don't just stand there...do it!
When all eligible voters in the country perform their civic duty at every election, and when all eligible voters make it their business to stay informed about the issues that face the nation, then it becomes far more difficult for any one group, no matter how well-organized and determined, to seize control of the government.

Make sure you are registered to vote. Don't assume that you are registered. During the primaries, thousands of people were shocked to discover that their names had been stricken from the voter lists without their knowledge. Florida has purged nearly 200,000 names from its voter list, including seniors and veterans. Pennsylvania is preparing to deny voting rights to nearly 10% of its eligible citizens.

Voter suppression threatens our Republic, but there are still enough voters to put a stop to it, if only every citizen who can vote, does so. There are as many eligible voters who do not vote as there are who do -more, in fact. Voter turnout could potentially be double what it has historically been. The current voter suppression tactics - ambitious though they undeniably are - would not disenfranchise enough people to overcome the will of the people if only the majority would take a stand, register now and vote in November.

Your vote counts. It really is that important.

Remind your friends and family to be sure to register and be sure to vote.

Resources for Eligible Voters:

Can I vote?  Need help with voting? You've come to the right place. This nonpartisan web site was created by state election officials to help eligible voters figure out how and where to go vote. Choose a category below to get started.

Rock the Vote   Rock the Vote is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization in the United States whose mission is to engage and build the political power of young people.

Our Time.org   Declare Yourself is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit campaign to empower and encourage every eligible 18-29 year-old in America to register and vote in local and national elections.

League of Women Voters  The League is proud to be nonpartisan, neither supporting nor opposing candidates or political parties at any level of government, but always working on vital issues of concern to members and the public.

Register To Vote. org  In the United States, voter registration is the responsibility of the people, and only 70 percent of Americans who are eligible to vote have registered. RegistertoVote.org is a nonpartisan organization committed to reaching the remaining 30 percent. We simplify the voter registration process, making it faster and easier for you to get involved and become an active voice in our democracy.



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Lies, Liars and Damned Lying Liars' Lies




The glory which is built upon a lie soon becomes a most unpleasant incumbrance. How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again!
- Mark Twain in Eruption

There was a blast of hot, damp air out of the Gulf region last month, threatening to inundate the country in a nightmarish scenario not witnessed since the Bush era.  No, I am not talking about Hurricane Isaac, though the timing was apt (thanks a heap again, Mother Nature!), but about the hellish blasts of white hot lies that erupted out of the Republican convention in Tampa.

Mark Twain is quoted as having said that "A lie can travel halfway round the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." and it seems that the Republican party has set out to prove that assertion.

Does the truth even matter at all anymore to Republicans? Have they, finally, noticed that their base will not only vote against their own interests - sometimes with disastrous results for themselves, their families and their communities - but will even vote against their own consciences and against the very values that they purport to hold? So-called "values voters" talk a lot about Truth™, yet the easily verifiable lies of Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and their surrogates simply do not seem to faze them.

In fact, they loved it. In spite of the constant and prominent references to God and the ubiquitous displays of religiosity, the delegates for God's Own Party seemed undisturbed by the steady stream of lies erupting out of the mouths of speaker after speaker, culminating in an almost wall-to-wall speech of lies and misrepresentation from the party princeling - and apparently habitual liar - Paul Ryan. Yet, perhaps this smug acceptance of what amounted to a probably record-breaking level of unprincipled dishonesty was not in spite of Christian morality at all...

What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church ... a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them. (Martin Luther)

What exactly are the values of these voters? How do these people get away with claiming the higher moral ground? Why isn't the media challenging the tiresome narrative that these so-called "values voters" are somehow above questions about their motives and methods?

Maybe these articles can give us a little insight:

Greer notes that July brought multiple cases of huge corporate fines for cheating. The largest was $3 billion to be paid by GlaxoSmithKline, the huge British pharmaceutical firm, both for hawking antidepressants for unapproved uses and for not reporting safety data involving a big-selling diabetes drug. It also conceded that it wrongly marketed other drugs.
Did you know that? Do you care? Imagine, a $3 billion fine for cheating and risking lives -- and it's just another one- or two-line bulletin on our smart phones, quickly forgotten by most. (from  Fact-Checking Campaign Lies: Does Anybody Give A Damn?)

No member of Congress is farther to the right than Paul Ryan. He's an acolyte of the ideologue Ayn Rand, but the media, having done its obligatory story on her noxious philosophy, is perfectly content to use Ryan's recent brushoff of her influence on him as an excuse to drop the story. The vaunted Ryan budget is actually a roadmap for eliminating the safety net that has defined the American social contract since the 1930s, but explaining this takes time, which risks audience share, and in the face of a barrage of ads portraying him as the savior of seniors, it takes the kind of persistence that news executives fear hurts ratings. He is a hypocrite of the first order, a deficit hawk who voted to increase the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars and whose tax plan is demonstrably fraudulent, but hey, how 'bout the six-pack on that dreamboat? (from Romney/Ryan and the Lullaby of Lying, Marty Kaplan, Huffington Post, August 30, 2012.)

But as satisfying as the McLuhan moments are for partisans and reporters, this stuff actually doesn’t matter that much in terms of winning or losing a presidential election. The small number of undecided voters in tossup states who’ll actually decide this thing really don’t care whether Mitt Romney misrepresented a popular scientist’s thesis. The voters committed to Romney won’t have their faith shaken by the revelation that (pointy-headed) economists think his tax plan is based on misreading of their work. Mitt Romney's many "Annie Hall" moments, Alex Pareene, Salon, August 9, 2012.

So even the studies that the Romney campaign’s economists handpicked to bolster their case don’t prove what the Romney campaign says they prove. And some of the key policy recommendations that flow from those studies are anathema to the Romney campaign. And in perhaps the key policy area highlighted by these studies, the Romney campaign doesn’t have a formal policy. If this is the best they can do in support of their economic plan, well, it’s not likely to quiet the critics. Economists to Romney Campaign: That's Not What Our Research Says, Ezra Klein, Washington Post, August 8, 2012.

This really is a post-truth campaign. It's different. It's one thing to be nasty. All campaigns are nasty. It's one thing to twist and distort and mock. Every campaign does that too. Even the attacks on Al Gore in 2000, as vicious as they were, were mostly media inventions. The Republican campaigns had the distortions handed to them on a platter.
But this is different. This is a presidential candidate just baldly making stuff up on the assumption that nobody will ever know. After all, they figure, who the hell reads Glenn Kessler aside from a bunch of Beltway nerds? And I guess they're right.  Mitt Romney Sure Does Lie A Lot, Doesn't He? Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, August 9, 2012.

For a rundown of just this week's catalogue of lies, check out:  Mitt's Mendacity, Volume XXXV*, Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 21, 2012.

16. On federal spending, Romney said, "[M]y test is this: is the program so critical that it is worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?"
The implication here is that U.S. debt is financed by the Chinese, but this isn't true -- China only holds about 8% of the nation's debt.

17. Romney added, "The president has put us on the road to Greece."
That's painfully untrue.

18. Romney also argued, "No wonder business start-ups are at a 30-year low."
This still isn't true.

Or, you can just laugh about the (mostly)unchallenged lying (so you won't cry):

In his speech to the Republican National Convention last night, Vice-Presidential nominee Paul Ryan test-drove what the Romney-Ryan campaign says will be a major theme for the 2012 Republican campaign: “lying about everything.”
“The question was, how many whoppers could you pack into one speech?” the campaign adviser Tracy Klugian said. “All I can say is, when Fox News accuses a Republican of lying, you know you’ve witnessed something historic.” (from Paul Ryan Launches Campaign Theme of Lying About Everything, Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker, August 30, 2012.)

*Yes, that is the thirty-fifth (35th) installment of Mitt's Mendacity. Willard tells enough whoppers each week to keep bloggers very busy!

Two "stand-up" guys:  "Let others lie, wantonly, gratuitously, if they will,
but let you & me make it the rule of our life to lie for revenue only." (Mark Twain) 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Les Misérables - Mitt And The Miners

 Mandatory attendance at Romney rally: Coal Country Stands With Mitt! (or else...)


























In case anyone was wondering: "Coal Country Stands With Mitt". Do you see those cheerful, confident miners who flanked the candidate on the stage in Beallsville while 'their' man Mitt talked about bootstraps, the need to shut down labor unions and the importance of making it job one to repeal the Affordable Care Act if/when Rmoney is elected.

Lest anyone suggest that Mitt Romney could not bring out a working, middle-class crowd unless he paid them, let us put that ungenerous thought where it belongs - in the "false" category. Mitt Romney, and his friends in the private energy industry most certainly could bring out a working, middle-class crowd without paying them. They could and they did!

Here comes Mitt's (unpaid!) audience!
No, really, they were not paid to attend.
Of course Mitt Romney did not have to pay those miners and their families to appear at his rally! Even Murray Energy/ Century Mine did not have to pay those miners to attend the rally on company time. That's the beauty of having a non-unionized workforce! The only thing the corporation needed to do was to close down the mine for the day and order its workers to attend the rally. The implied threat of unemployment if the employees failed to obey the directive was inducement enough to make the miners show up at the rally without their betters needing to resort to anything so unChristian as bribery - or even paying the day's wages to which one would have thought the workers might be entitled since they were attending a mandatory company activity.

Several news sources have reported the following facts: The plant was closed for the day and the workers were docked that day's pay. Then, all employees were instructed to attend the Romney/Ryan rally, many lining up for hours to be admitted, thus spending the entire involuntary day off doing the company's bidding - without pay. Just in case anyone had any crazy ideas about giving up and perhaps spending the day with their families, the line up was for registration - to make sure that each and every attendee's name was recorded - in person.

In fact, just to show how eager the non-unionized Beallsville miners were to make a public show of support for the Republican candidate, a spokesman for the mine unapologetically confirmed all of the above. Speaking from the corporate office on Chagrin Blvd (you can't make this stuff up) in Pepper Pike, OH, Murray CFO made the position crystal clear:

 “We had managers that communicated to our work force that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend the event. We had a pre-registration list. And employees were asked to put their names on a pre-registration list because they could not get into the event unless they were pre-registered and had a name tag to enter the premises” Rob Moore, CFO Murray Energy.

So - yes, attendance at the rally being held on company property was mandatory, but - no, workers were not forced to go. Sure, the miners' names were recorded on a list, and sure they were told it was mandatory that they attend, but it's not like anyone held a gun to their heads and forced them to go!

Got that, America? In the new Republican corporate freedom lexicon, 'mandatory' no longer means 'forced' when it is used by the 1% to intimidate persuade the working class to do its bidding. Mind you, if the situation involves making it mandatory for corporations to pay a living wage or ensure safe working conditions for their employees, the word then most definitely means forced and it is an attack on the freedom of corporate citizens! It is an affront to our job-creators!

Listen: It's a free country, people. Workers have a right to disobey unfair corporate demands on their personal time while corporations have a right to fire people who won't go along with their political agenda. If the workers don't like it, they can just find another job with another corporate job-creator! If they cannot find another job, it must be their own laziness, so the devil take them! Who can argue with that? As Republicans keep telling us: that's the Republican American way and the RNC agenda is a platform to pull us back to the good old days before unions and worker protections lifted millions into the middle class ruined America for the 1%.

And what an agenda it is!  Platform planks promising to weaken unions, to work to eliminate a federal minimum wage, and completely repeal the Affordable Healthcare Act.  It is a working middle-class family's nightmare. Who needs unions, right?

But it is a dream come true for the top .01% - our beloved corporate 'citizens'. As Mitt Romney and his backers never cease to remind us, corporations are people, too, and these 'citizen' groups have thrown their hard-earned hundreds of millions at the struggling 99% to assert their "freedom". Now that's what I call people power!
























Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ann Romney Stumps For CHIC Position - ChillGirl-In-Chief!

Hey girls! Ann Romney is A-OK with the war on women!  But, then, she is rich, protected and post-menopausal.
Unlike you people.

























And if you listen carefully, you'll hear the women sighing a little bit more than the men. It's how it is, isn't it?


It's how it is, girls, so 
take a chill pill and learn
to appreciate subservience!
Ann Romney's speech at the Republican convention on Tuesday night should forever put to rest any ideas anyone had that this is a woman who just doesn't get it. Mrs. Romney gets it all right. She knows exactly how disrespected and disempowered women still are in our society, but she is fine with that. And she wants other women to be fine with it, too. In fact, her speech last night signalled that she expects all of you moms out there (other women need not be considered, being non-existent) to take a chill pill. Patriarchy is. the way. it. is. and if you don't already like it, just follow Ann's lead. She is stumping for ChillGirl-in-Chief. She knows that most women are treated as barely human, but she is going to show us all how to pin on a pretty smile, remind ourselves of our mom-power (which totally is better than actual power) and - whenever the inevitable disrespect and abuse of cultural misogyny is directed our way - how to lie back and enjoy it. Ooh lå lå!  Ann, is trés CHIC!

There are at least two flavors of ChillGirl - I'm thinking of icily-angry and coolly-collected right now - and both flavors feature misogyny with a spicy little drop of misandry. Both of them are unpleasant and both undermine feminist causes, but the recklessly immature individuals who pop up occasionally to hang out with MRAs and sneer at other women are far less dangerous than the disciplined ranks of the second kind of ChillGirls.

The important thing about 
this ChillGirl is that she can 
feel superior to everyone!
Popping up more often in these roiling times is the icily furious misanthropic ChillGirl - the woman who thinks she's achieved independent success simply through her own hard work and initiative. She refuses to acknowledge that her current (though limited) freedom to pursue her own interests is largely thanks to a century of hard work by feminists who paved the way before her. She sees that gender equality is unlikely to be achieved in her lifetime, so she is uninterested in working toward that goal for future girls who matter not a whit to her. What matters is what she can personally get out of a cruelly discriminatory culture, and she feels perfectly justified in throwing other women under the bus to get it: life is unfair, she reasons, so other women had better get used to it. She gleefully slams feminists who work for positive social change while she, ever so cool and chill, hangs out with and entertains misogynist men with ChillGirl stories about how lame and weak other women are. She dresses how she wants, she speaks how she wants, she does what she wants and she intends to get what she wants. She runs with the misogynist guys, because she is cool like that, unlike those pathetic losers who call themselves feminists.

This kind of ChillGirl is an equal-opportunity hater: she is also contemptuous of men, whom she sees also as her inferiors and she is proud that she is slyly laughing at them as she pretends to laugh with them while they disrespect other members of her gender. The coldly angry ChillGirl hates men for believing that she women are less than they are, but she hates women more for what she sees as their weakness and failure to have overcome the cultural oppression of women to make the world a safer, better place for her. She is furious that she has to put up with sexist bullshit when she is clearly smarter and stronger than both men and women, and she hates both genders equally for their part in making life more difficult for her.

We've seen a number of women like this in recent years - attacking other women, undermining feminism and generally expressing the suppressed rage that growing up female in an oppressive patriarchal culture causes.

It's how it is, isn't it? 
Invisible, dehumanized - a thing
inhabiting the role of "mom"
and it had better be wrapped
 up in a pretty package,  if
it knows what's good for it.
Then, there is the second kind of ChillGirl; conservative, anti-feminist women whose numbers have swelled fantastically with the rise of fundamentalist religiosity in the USA. These are the outwardly calm, coolly-collected, playing-the-patriarchy game ChillGirls. These are the women like CHIC hopeful, Ann Romney.

I am not sure if men really understand this, but I don't think there is a woman in America who really expects her life to be easy. In our own ways, we all know better. You know what, and that's fine. 


This ChillGirl believes - probably correctly - that gender equality will not be achieved in her lifetime, and she assumes - probably incorrectly - that gender equality will never be achieved. Not in her lifetime, not in her daughters' lifetimes, nor in her granddaughters' lifetimes either. But, you know what? That's fine. Fighting for equal rights is hard and there is no personal payoff likely. Going along to get along is easier. And much more rational. Why fight for a better future that she will never get to enjoy? Why fight to change things for the better for all women, when she can play the game, master the system and quietly enjoy all of the personal comfort and security - and yes, a measure of power, though derived from the men in her life, and only enjoyed at their pleasure (but she thinks she knows how to manipulate them, the sly minx!) - that her good, Christian heart desires?

The calm, cool ChillGirl may or may not have had a brief period of believing that she could pursue hopes and dreams like the boys all around her before she grew up and learned "the truth". She may or may not have briefly resisted the vicious misogyny of our patriarchal culture and tried to pursue those dreams, until the constant, exhausting, emotionally-draining effort of dealing with daily attacks simply wore her down. She may or may not have experienced the soul-killing realization that although she knows she is equal, though she knows she has talents, abilities, even brilliance to offer the world, she will be forever less than men in society and may never be allowed the chance to develop those abilities, especially if she is ugly, poor, or not white.

Whatever her earlier hopes and dreams may have been, the coolly collected ChillGirl is a pragmatist. She has figured out a winning strategy: accept the humiliation of degradation and undeserved inferior status, lie to the men in your life about how much you admire and respect them and only want to defer to them, keep yourself attractive because that is your only stock in trade - and in return, enjoy some measure of comfort and security - as long as you are pleasing to your man. You know that even that paltry benefit for selling yourself short is denied to nearly all poor women and many women of color and even to any white, middle-class woman who will not bow to patriarchy, so read the writing on the wall and get yours - whatever it takes! To be a coolly collected ChillGirl - to have a choice between suffering the indignities and deprivations of a misogynist culture publicly and daily, or suffering the indignities and deprivations privately while outwardly enjoying a comfortable life -  is a luxury reserved for a select minority of women. And, you know what? Ann says that's a good enough choice for women. She's so CHIC!

Listen to Ann, ladies: It's how it is...

... Don't try to change society; that is too exhausting. More important, it just isn't smart. Fighting against misogyny can be dangerous. Challenging the status quo will make men - and women like Ann who benefit from pleasing men - very angry and cause social discord. Do you want to be responsible for causing a gender war? If you do that, don't say you were never warned; any harm that comes your way will be totally your own fault. Demanding to be treated as a respected, adult human being can get you harassed, attacked and even raped and it definitely reduces your chances of finding a rich husband. Amirite, fellas?

Let's face it: patriarchy isn't going anywhere - not while so many are committed to preserving it. But women can use patriarchy, too! You just need to learn to play the game. Forget about your intellectual needs: channel that energy into your children and home! Forget about your emotional needs - how can you be so selfish when there are men and children who need you to look after their needs? Forget about your physical well-being and autonomy: you possess a uterus and you are the property of men until it can no longer be used for its god-given purpose. Every woman is on her own unless she accepts that this is how it is. Got that, gals? Either you join the congregation with outward enthusiasm, or you will be ejected from the congregation and then the devil take you. You can't beat this system, so you may as well join it. And you know what? Ann says it will be fine!

It makes perfect sense to keep the
 "smarter" people in domestic servitude!
Amirite, ladies?
There are compensations for utterly denying your own humanity and that of your daughters and nieces and granddaughters. There will be rewards in heaven. Invisible, intellectually-unverifiable afterlife rewards for invisible, intellectually-erased living women - what perfect symmetry! While men naturally should enjoy rewards both while living and after death, women suffer now to be rewarded later because we are smarter than those goofy men. Amirite ladies? This nonsensical little crumb is thrown out to traditional women everywhere: being "smarter", yet subservient, is obviously way better and far more satisfying than actual status, respect or personal power. Can I get an "Amen", sisters?

Just look! Even the most powerful men out there listening to Ann's speech chuckle tolerantly and cheerfully agree. Everyone agrees that women are the truly smart ones - even our men will let us say so! That is totes not an empty bubble of "feel good" blown to obscure our view of the blackhole of self-denial that all of us ChillGirls must force ourselves down. Sure, any society that truly believed that one gender is "smarter" would rationally have that group well-represented in every avenue of power in the culture, not marginalized, diminished and condemned to a lifetime of domestic servitude, but thinking like that would be just looking for reasons to attack traditional values. Ann coyly points out that women are the smart ones, Republican men tolerantly let her say it as long as they can still control women, and everyone is happy. It's how it is, isn't it? And you know what? That's fine.

Ann has it all figured out: Moms, revel in your subordination! (other women don't exist) Learn to love the uncertainty and insecurity of living a life entirely dependent on whether a man continues to think keeping you around to cook, clean and raise his children is worth his time and pocketbook, because that is what the future of women under Republican rule will be. It's just how it is! Why fight what is biologically, culturally and Biblically mandated?  Sure, humankind could be better than that, but why should we be? This is working - for the wealthy, the protected, the godly and the wise...


The only role for women in a
Republican USA:  Mom
Ann's stump speech was apparently directed only at mothers married to men of means, since nearly everything she said is far outside the experience of poor women, single mothers, women of color or any other women who are not white, Christian, middle-class mothers married to men. The unspoken message was clear though: You people who are not wealthy and protected are clearly not godly or wise so you deserve all the trouble you get. Ann tells it like it is!  They don't come any more CHIC than that!

FYI, Amanda Marcotte summed the speech up nicely:

"Last night the RNC made its appeal to female voters, and Ann Romney's speech really was an exemplar of the form, putting a sorority girl grin on a description of women's lives that, stripped of sentimentality, reads like a laundry list of the daily injustices women face for no other reason than being women...In sum, she offered up a description of what feminists call "systemic sexism," a list of the very injustices feminists have worked, with some success, to eliminate. "

And if you listen carefully, you'll hear the women sighing a little bit more than the men. It's how it is, isn't it?

"So how does Ann Romney get away with this? Because she framed it not as a problem to be fixed, but a trial that women have to endure. She put a positive spin on it, claiming that these extra struggles make us women extra good. Instead of demanding equality, she encouraged her female audience instead to take their payment in martyrdom."  Amanda Marcotte, Ann Romney Acknowledges, Embraces Sexism, Slate.com.


One question, Ann. If the Republicans succeed in gaining control of the country, which Christian sect gets to rule?



Friday, July 27, 2012

Actually No, Bishop Giminez, America Is Not Morally Depraved

Evangelicals to America: You are a sick, morally depraved country and only we God can save you!



























Recently, an astonishing number of prominent Christian hardliners (and their political arm, the Republican party) have been openly bashing America. If you close your eyes and just listen, you could be forgiven for thinking you were hearing Islamist hardliners spewing their hatred, so similar is the anti-American rhetoric. Claiming that the USA is mired in "moral depravity, Christian Evangelicals are planning a rally in September called "America for Jesus" which makes explicit the intention of the religious right to continue to interfere in domestic politics.  By staging the event against a backdrop of revered symbols of American liberty, they plan to link religious fervor with foundational ideals in a very concrete way, even as they work to dismantle the Constitutional protections of the very freedoms for which the founding fathers so bravely fought.

Christian fundamentalists - led by the usual wealthy, powerful religious elites - intendto reap the ultimate harvest from the seeds of religious tension that they have been sowing for the past three decades. The organizers include some members of the core group behind the original 1980 "faith" rally which not only helped propel Ronald Reagan into office, but launched unelected conservative Christian elites as a shadowy, behind-the-scenes political powerhouse. Their goal, as always: Christian theocracy in the most powerful country on the planet, with themselves - naturally - holding the keys to what they would privately call the restored "kingdom of God".

Vote for me... or else!
"We don't feel a man can save America," Giminez said, referring to the presidential contenders. "God is our only hope." But wait! Since they claim that no "man" can save America and God is the "only hope", are the rally organizers actually suggesting that Christians ought to step away from the political arena, forget about the apparently useless goal of electing a "man" and simply start praying to God to deliver America from this so-called "moral depravity"? Perish the thought:

"The history of "America for Jesus" suggests a Republican leaning, however."

Ah, there it is. Substitute "Mitt Romney" for "God" and the real motive behind all the devout posturing and nation-bashing is uncovered. The implication that "God" is represented through Republican candidates is just another example of the blatant and openly theocratic rhetoric that has been the hallmark of this most recent and deeply disturbing Republican campaign.

Abandoning once and for all any pretense that they love America or respect the founding principles upon which this country is built, conservative Christians are going for broke. They hate America - they hate the constitutional, democratic Republic that she really is - they always have hated America and they intend to break the country down, once and for all, and rebuild it to their own, narrow, Biblical specifications. In an all-out drive to whip believers up into a frenzy of fear of God and confusion about the causes of their very human problems, these Christianist leaders intend to prey upon the vulnerabilities and superstitions of a population whose ignorance and radicalization is a direct result of their own deliberate campaign to destroy public education and inject religiosity into every aspect of public life - and it is possible that they could succeed.

Got that, America? Be very afraid...
The power of religion is the psychological fear it holds over people - and the power of religious elites is their ability to use that fear to control people, thus securing political power for themselves. During times of social or economic upheaval, religious elites can tap into the terror of the belief in a punishing god that is planted in most Christian children before they are old enough to defend themselves against the permanent psychic harm.  Religious leaders point to the inevitable manmade and natural disasters which have always plagued humanity and declare them "God's judgement" on America. They appoint themselves God's intermediaries and - because "God" is always silent and invisible - the people accept the authority of these "men of God" in the absence of an actual God. These elite conservative Christian men intend to seize power as cowed and frightened people bow to what they believe is the authority of God coming through His intermediaries - none other than these elite religious men.

The American political system was developed, after a hard, bloody struggle, for the people, by the people and of the people - with the will of the people intended to be the final authority on national matters. It was this strong national effort toward the first real attempt in history at self-governance by ordinary people striving toward Enlightenment ideals which was the worst nightmare of religious authoritarians. It was the American dream itself, long before its realization, which posed the greatest threat to the methods and machinations of religious elites who had long exercised hidden power behind the thrones of kings and openly via popes throughout history. Religious groups who had fallen out of favor and had fled Europe for the New World intended to set up new kingdoms for themselves in America, which the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States forbade. For the first time in human history, an entire people had adopted for their system of government one which not only empowered the people but which explicitly denied religion the power to influence national affairs. Religious elites began to fight back almost immediately and their weapon of choice has always been to use the fear of God as a cover for the almost treasonous declaration that they are answerable not to the American people but only to their silent, invisible God, for whom they are (conveniently) the only righteous intermediaries.

Fear of God and social pressure prevents most people from wondering out loud why God would need intermediaries at all. Because of childhood indoctrination and the pernicious saturation of every corner of society with religious influence and intimidation, fear of social ostracism prevents most from questioning the authority of these powerful religious men. Like many overwhelmed peoples before them,  religiously indoctrinated Americans may vote against their own interests, against their neighbors and even against their country if they allow themselves to be manipulated by religious leaders with a political agenda. If there are enough believers, they may democratically hand over to the theocrats the absolute power they have been plotting to capture for decades.

We have too many examples of countries whose religious leadership managed to convince a majority of its population that they (or more specifically, others among them) were a morally depraved people, that only "God" could save them from destruction and that a small cabal of elite religious men were somehow God's representatives on earth - the only bastion of righteous holiness between a morally debased people and the terrifying fury of an angry god. Iran comes to mind. Islamists may come from a different branch of monotheistic Abrahamic religion, but they have the same modus operandi. One might say they learned it from their Christian and Jewish forebears. The belief among those Americans not yet directly affected by religious oppression - that somehow a descent into oppressive theocracy can't happen here - is self-delusion. It can happen here. It is already happening here.

This guy claimed to
speak for God, too.
Religion is fueled by the relentless human thirst for power and it has been an extraordinarily effective weapon in the constant war by elites on the rights and freedoms of the common people. It is the tragedy of humanity that the faith of so many is misplaced - that the human desire for a sense of control and belonging and the human willingness to follow those who exude power and dominance has repeatedly led to actual mass self-destruction as entire societies have thrown away their human rights and freedoms and handed political power to their religious elites.

One senses that Christian hardliners feel they can almost taste victory. They are confident that they can mobilize believers at least as well as they have done before, because in this election cycle they have been able to get away with a more open and shocking agenda of social regression and bigotry than they have ever before dared to reveal.  They are excited, inflamed with power and fiercely, unapologetically dogmatic.Their decades-long campaign of chipping away at the underpinnings of a society struggling to form a more perfect union of diverse, hard-working peoples under the banner of a great, free nation is at last bringing down secular protections at an accelerated pace.  The ultimate reward of a conservative Christian nation where homosexuality is persecuted, women are returned to the reproductive slavery mandated by the Bible and racial and religious bigotry will once again reign supreme is within their sights and they are giddy with exhilaration.

But, settle down there theocrats!  I have a message for Bishop Giminez and her eager co-conspirators:

No. America is not mired in moral depravity. America is a land of diverse people - hardworking, industrious, innovative, tolerant, forward-thinking people. We are red, brown, white, black, and every beautiful shade of human skin. We are all American. We are atheist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and every religious and political stripe. We are all American. We are female and male, gay and lesbian, bisexual and transsexual and every gender identity on the wide, wonderful spectrum of human sexuality. And we are all American.

No. America is not mired in moral depravity. We coexist in relative peace, as imperfectly as current human limitations might predict and as transcendently as human aspiration can occasionally soar. We have succeeded as a country because America is founded on principles which limit the power of religions to divide, conquer and destroy us. As messy and imperfect and unjust as much of our history has been, it has still stood out as a beacon of hope in a world of messy, imperfect and unjust systems of government which - nearly always using religion - continued to oppress and abuse their people long after the American journey toward 'liberty and justice for all' was haltingly begun. For more than 200 years, we have struggled and fought and inched our way toward realizing the dream - toward living the ideals - that those founding documents point us toward. We are a people evolving, with a roadmap to liberty in the Declaration of Independence and a blueprint for achieving it in the Bill of Rights. We will continue to negotiate and argue and push and pull toward a more perfect union of equal citizens because this country is a work in progress. And we are all American.
America is not mired
in moral depravity.
WTF is the matter
with you, theocrats?

No. America is not mired in moral depravity. It is you, Bishop Giminez, and power-hungry religious elites like you who are mired in moral depravity. It is you and the power-hungry religious elites who call injustice "justice", who fight relentlessly against equality and human rights and who seek to enshrine bigotry and misogyny into our laws without a shred of remorse or compassion for the human suffering you have caused. It is the conservative religious right which seeks to overturn the natural order of things - calling myth "science", calling oppression "justice", calling evil "good", calling what is immoral "moral". Those who call themselves "righteous", who pretend to speak for God are the ones who are mired in moral depravity. They have lost their moral compass, but their fellow citizens can help them find their way again. Because, we are all Americans.

No. America is not mired in moral depravity. America does not need theocratic "saving". It needs protection from dangerous, ambitious, vicious religious power-mongers like you, Bishop Giminez, and the wealthy Christian elites that you represent. America needs saving from the approaching train wreck of Christian totalitarianism which you and your cohort wish to force upon us. America does not need "saving" by ambitious men claiming to represent their silent, invisible God. America needs saving from them. This nation has the tools to fend off this attack from the religious right. We have the diversity and the strength in numbers to resist a takeover attempt by one hardline fundamentalist faction among us. We can weather this storm. We are Americans!

No. America is not mired in moral depravity. America is mired in political and social turmoil which was deliberately created by the conservative Christian right-wing for their own political gain. It is you, Bishop Giminez, and the powerful, wealthy elites who seek to drag this entire country to the brink of disaster, just as religious extremists elsewhere in the world have done to their countries. It is you and the power-hungry religious elites you speak for who hope to precipitate a cultural crisis in this country out of which you hope to wrest ultimate control over everyone and everything that is American. You hope to destroy the America that is and build an America that you can control. But you underestimate the passion for liberty and justice in this country. You underestimate the American spirit. We are not all Christians. But we are all Americans.

Whether or not one believes there is a god - or any higher power that cares about the welfare of humanity - constant historical evidence has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that it does not reside within the ruthlessly implacable ambition of religious elites. The success of the great American experiment in nationhood has only been possible - painfully, lurchingly, imperfectly and minimally -  not thanks to religious belief, but in spite of it. Before the ink had even dried on the founding documents, religious groups launched their efforts to subvert the American dream of a more just and democratic Republic to their own theocratic agenda. And they have never ceased in their efforts since.

We are red, brown, white, black...
every beautiful shade of human skin.
We are all American. 
There is a seat at the national table for conservative Christians just as there are seats for every other kind of American. The difference is that conservative Christians want to banish everyone else except conservative Christians from the American table and in that sense, they are profoundly unAmerican. I only hope the basic goodness and common sense of the American people is awakened by this looming crisis at last and that we can come together for the good of the country before it is too late.

America can only be saved by Americans. By performing our civic duty: educating ourselves on the crisis before us, registering and voting in every election and holding our elected representatives to their Constitutional responsibilities, the American people can save America.  Let's not allow one religious sect to hijack the ship of state and sink the hopes and dreams of freedom-loving people everywhere. It is not the silent, invisible God, nor the men who claim to represent ultimate godly authority who speak for America. Only Americans speak for America.

Educate yourself. Register. Vote. Let no one speak for you. Speak up for yourself. We are all in this together and the future of this country depends on all of us. We are all Americans.



Sunday, July 22, 2012

Conservative Christians Declare Colorado Killer God's Henchman























ter·ror·ism

  [ter-uh-riz-uhm] 
noun
1.
the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
2.
the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
3.
a terroristic method of governing or of resisting government.


If you were frightened and confused by the horrific events in Aurora, Colorado last Friday, Christian hardliners want you to know that they have their God has everything under control.  They believe that it is good that you were frightened. Hopefully, you will remain frightened for a long time. Your fear and anxiety are exactly what they say the Biblical god demands and wants. Christians want you to know that it was their god's rage over the slight easing of fearfulness in society which prompted Him to deputize James Holmes to ram the message of His righteous anger into the hearts and minds of the American people through the senseless slaughter of innocents.

...but do what the pastor tells you!
That's right. According to the American Family Association's Fred Jackson, the Colorado killer was used by the Christian god to terrorize the American people. In spite of the ever-increasing radicalization of the population through Christian evangelism, and an historic level of unconstitutional religious encroachment into the public sphere, elite Christian leaders insist that there is still not enough fear in American society. Too few Americans accept the authority of church elites God with enough unquestioning obedience. Not enough Americans fear the power of Christianity God with the proper servility. And fundamentalist Christian church leaders know just who to blame:

"Jackson: I have to think that all of this, whether it’s the Hollywood movies, whether it’s what we see on the internets [sic], whether it’s liberal bias in the media, whether it’s our politicians changing public policy, I think all of those somehow have fit together—and I have to say also churches who are leaving the authority of Scripture and losing their fear of God—all of those things have seem to have come together to give us these kinds of incidents.
Newcombe: I think that’s so true. It’s as if we said to God, publicly or in the public arena, ‘get out, You’re not welcome here anymore’ and it’s as if God removed His protection from our land.
...and sometimes, "Love" hurts.
Jackson: I think the sources of this is [sic] multifaceted but you can put it all I think under the heading of rebellion to God, a rejection of the God of the Bible. I think along with an education system that has produced our lawyers, our politicians, more teachers, more professors, all of that sort of thing, is our churches, mainline churches. We’ve been dealing Teddy and I know the AFA Journal has been dealing with denominations that no longer believe in the God of the Bible, they no longer believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation, they teach that God is OK with homosexuality, this is just increasing more and more. It is mankind shaking its fist at the authority of God.
James: And God will not be silent when he’s mocked, and we need to remember that. 
Jackson: We are seeing his judgment. You know, some people talk about ‘God’s judgment must be just around the corner,’ we are seeing it." - conversation between the popular rightwing Christian radio host, Fred Jackson, Jerry Newcombe of Truth in Action Ministries and Jackson's co-host Teddy James of AFA Journal.

("Rebellion against God" is code for "rebellion against unconstitutional religious influence". When civil rights groups protest the unconstitutional religious interference in government, they are accused of "rebellion against God". "Rejection of God" is code for "rejection of inappropriate religious attacks on individual rights and freedoms". When conservative Christian groups attempt to deprive citizens of their human rights, the people who protest are accused of "rejecting God").

According to the self-appointed God-spokesmen, the all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful (also silent and invisible) Creator of the Universe is understandably outraged when humankind fails to tremble in terror at the very thought of Him, yet He is curiously incapable of easily and lovingly repairing the error in His own creation.  So, we are told that every now and then He causes a terrible event on earth (or fails to prevent a terrible event - same difference, really, since His presence and His absence are equally indiscernible) to remind us of our sinful failure to fear Him enough. His spokesmen then gleefully point to these disasters as evidence that all the things which threaten them God's supremacy in American society are evil and should be blamed for the pain and suffering of innocents.  (Apparently, they can't explain why God never seems to target the specific objects of their His wrath directly, nor why they expect anyone to believe that a god who would rain down terrible suffering on innocent men, women and children as an object lesson to sinners should be considered a "loving" god.)

terrorizeterrorise [ˈtɛrəˌraɪz]
vb (tr)
1. to coerce or control by violence, fear, threats, etc.
2. to inspire with dread; terrify

The terror evoked by random acts of violence is a feature, not a bug, in the eyes of the powerful Christian elites Almighty. It has proven to be a very useful weapon in the ongoing battle for Christian world dominance.  By planting the seeds of fearful hatred in the minds of traumatized believers and then redirecting that fear toward the enemies of Christian hegemony, the religious right - and its political arm, the Republican party - divides and polarizes society into "us" and "others", with themselves as the authorities ruling over the ever-growing "us". They wield the fear of God's wrath to ensure fearful compliance, and - since "God" is never seen or heard by anyone - they appoint themselves as His spokesmen and the ultimate interpreters of His righteous will, ensuring that their will is rarely effectively challenged.  They systematically coerce the population of believers - through fear of their god - and coerce non-believers - through social pressure as believers' fear grows that other citizens who are not like "us" will bring god's wrath down on them, even if they are innocent, god-fearing believers! - to be less and less tolerant of differences, and to demand greater and greater conformity to their religious authority. In short, they assign all of the power over society that is hypothetically "God's awesome power" - to themselves.  It is terrorism-by-proxy. And it is very effective.
God hates whoever the church hates!
Are you listening, atheists and gays?

Random terrible events happen: they always have and they always will. The evil genius of fundamentalist Christians is that they know how to use these inevitable natural and man made disasters as tools for their own Machiavellian brand of power consolidation. They harness fear and bigotry created by religious belief, redirect it into hatred toward the elements in society which threaten their own power, thus eliminating their enemies and removing all barriers to their dream of an American theocracy. They terrorize the vulnerable victims of a local or national disaster with the dread of an angry god - evoking the same terror of god's wrathful jealousy which was inculcated through childhood indoctrination - and then they direct that frightened anguish toward others whose refusal to accept Christian authority they accuse of bringing this suffering down upon innocent, persecuted Christians.

It is an awesome one-two punch: a form of terrorism more lethal to our pluralistic, democratic Republic than anything the United States has ever faced. Terrorized people historically bow to the perceived security of authoritarianism. The power of religious belief, inculcated early and reinforced regularly - especially in the public sphere - enables church elites to use the fear of God to coerce a population to destroy church enemies, to support religious agendas and to obey church elites, all without lifting a finger!  Of course, in places where there is too much human-created peace, tolerant multi-cultural social order and too few natural disasters, strong Christians will do what they have to do to help themselves their god out.

In the USA, where there is no shortage of natural sources of human misery, the Christian right still furthers their own ambitions helps their god out by doing their utmost to incite violence and human conflict through the constant drumbeat of fear and othering.  The dignity and humanity of the victims in Aurora is nothing to them, when measured against what they perceive is their god-given right to use the horrible tragedy for their own political gain. We don't know yet what the Colorado murderer's motive was, and we may never know, but whatever Holmes may think his own motives were,  influential Christians want everyone to believe that he was the unwitting lash of their God's judgment. The truth doesn't matter to the Christian right, nor does common human decency. For them, the Aurora massacre has already served its purpose.


...and we He won't hesitate to use terrorism to consolidate our His power!  Got that, America?

































Friday, July 20, 2012

But It Was Not Terrorism!


























Horrific news from Colorado. Last night, a heavily-armed, masked gunman entered a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, threw a smoke bomb into the crowd and began shooting. By the time the murderer was apprehended in the parking lot behind the theatre, there were 12 people dead and more than 50 wounded.

"Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said there was no evidence of a second gunman, and FBI spokesman Jason Pack said it did not appear the incident was related to terrorism."

This appalling eruption of violence was visited upon a crowd of excited, happy and innocent movie-goers enjoying the thrill of opening night at the movies. The killer had carefully planned and carried out a cold-blooded execution designed to inflict maximum casualties among innocent people. He targeted unsuspecting people who knew nothing of his personal grievances and intentions. People who felt safe enjoying a simple pleasure in life; who were in an ordinary place doing an ordinary thing.

The dictionary definition of "terrorism" is "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion". We usually associate terrorism with a political or ideological agenda; terrorists coerce people to submit to their demands using violence. When a killer turns out to be a white American, his ideological beliefs are never assumed until proven to be whatever they are, and everybody runs from the word terrorist. Even if a political/ideological agenda is proven beyond question - and with far more evidence than that with which instant assumptions of terrorism are made about people of color and non-Christians - it may still be denied.

We don't know yet what the murderer's motive was, but I think what happened in that theatre was terrorism. Call it what it is CNN, even if the officials did not.

Update:

As I feared and expected, the Christian right has swooped in with accusations that this tragedy was caused by non-Christians and non-believers.  Call me cynical, but I see a pattern in the constant drumbeat of fear-mongering, lying about and demonizing atheists and non-Christians, encouraging paranoia and violent rhetoric from the right.  One might almost call it "the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion".

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) "Aurora shootings result of "ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs". Huffington Post.

"You know what really gets me, as a Christian, is to see the ongoing attacks on Judeo-Christian beliefs, and then some senseless crazy act of terror like this takes place," Gohmert said.

Conveniently, "chaplains" were on hand to be "deployed" within hours of the shooting, ensuring a righteous and ideologically correct spin on the tragedy will be immediately reinforced within the shocked and vulnerable community, no matter what the truth actually turns out to be.

Gunman Kills 12 at Batman movie premiere, USA Today.

"Chaplains from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, already in Colorado and New Mexico ministering to victims of the ravaging wildfires, redeployed to Aurora within hours of the shooting. The group's web site was uploaded with evangelical advice on "spiritual survival" in tragedy."