Dear Christians, try being Christ-like

Here’s a modest proposal for Christians. Since the whole foundation for Christianity is the Christ child, the Messiah, the actual son of God, accept the fact that his words carry greater weight than everything else in your Bible. Jesus literally speaks on direct behalf of his father, and his father is God. His words, and only his Words, come straight from God.
   Therefore, simplify your religion to what is really critically important about it. The message God’s son brought to humans. Throw away everything in your book that comes from anyone other than Jesus. The Old Testament, the New Testament, Genesis. Revelations. everything that was not an utterance, a teaching, from Jesus.
   Dump everything that came from people who “claimed” to speak for God. They were merely expressing a human opinion, preference or prejudice.
Then try living your lives according to the teachings that came from the actual son of God
 
Question:
   I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard Christians say that only one perfect man ever existed, and HE was crucified for it.
   So why do you keep living according to the hateful prejudices and teachings of other imperfect and sinful humans? Forget everyone from Abraham to Paul and Isaiah and every other human who added their own personal and prejudiced thoughts to that book.
   Live according to the teachings of your Messiah, the actual son of God. The foundation of your religion.
   And while you’re at it, turn off all of those idiot television pastors padding their pockets by preying on your nasty prejudices and pretending to know what God thinks. Go find a snake oil salesman instead, and cure everything wrong with your body one gagging teaspoon at a time. If you decide to live by Jesus’ words, and his alone, those quacks won’t have anything to talk about anyway.
 
   Because right now, by living, not by the lessons of your own Messiah, the true son of God, but rather according to whoever in the Bible expresses prejudices that happen to agree with your own, you continue to crucify your own savior, the actual son of God, every day, every hour, every minute of your life.
 
Think about that. Think about it real hard.

They fear Ocasio-Cortez; and they should

The ultra conservative gang is pulling is afraid, and they are pulling out all the stops. In this case, it’s Ben Stein. He was funny in some movies because his mode of speaking was about the same as his mode of thinking. Now he’s the latest wealth-is-for-the-wealthy striking out at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He’s out of his depth. He is attempting to compare her to Adolf Hitler because she promotes social programs, a socially responsible government, and a more equitable distribution of wealth in our country. She—gasp—actually believes things like: millionaires and billionaires ought to pay their fair share of taxes; people who work full time should earn a living wage; every American should have affordable health care; LGBTQ Americans are people too and should be treated equally.

Let’s be VERY CLEAR. What Ocasio-Cortez is talking about is a reasonable and responsible combination of government and social consciousness as a government and nation. The GOP has done all it could to enrich the richest and destroy the middle and lower economic classes. they like it that way. And now they have given us Donald Trump. We have already seen the fruits of Trump’s Hitler-like promises and psychosis—as discussed by MANY historians, sociologists, psychologists and psychiatrists who have a much firmer grip on the subject than Mister Stein. Ocasio-Cortez is nothing like either Hitler or Trump. She is the direct opposite. Remember what Joseph Goebbels said, to always accuse the other side of that which you are guilty of yourself. He also applauded lying your way to power, and advised to make the lie a big one, and keep saying it, until you convinced people to believe it.  These happen to be two of the most prominent, and effective, tools in Trump’s crooked bucket. Now Ben Stein has bought in.

Ben Stein is attacking Ocasio-Cortez for one reason and one reason only. He supports the concept of very small government and is dedicated to the trickle-down economic theories the GOP has used since the Reagan era (that’s 40 years), to continually unbalance the economy and the social strata of America. Ben Stein is a believer of the concept that, as Al Capp put it so eloquently in “Li’l Abner,” what’s good for General Bullmoose is good for the USA.” He supports the belief that 1% of the people should have all of the money, all of the political power, and all of the control.

General Bullmoose is in the White House right now. We can see how that’s working out.

And about that “small government” thing. It was feasible and reasonable in 1790 (the year of the first official census), when the population of the country was under 4 million. In a nation of 300 million plus, a nation in which 99% of the people are more in danger from their own country’s massive corporations than any outside threat, the government must be large enough to stand up for that 99% against the 1%, as well as the threats posed by racism, white supremacists, and rampant, vicious religious cultism. Think far-right evangelicals. Social responsibility maintaining stability through equity in the economic system are vital necessities for a government that represents ALL of the people, as opposed to the wealthy few and the violent cultists.

That is the kind of government Ocasio-Cortez is talking about. Ben Stein should be ashamed to even attempt comparing her to Hitler. But then, he believes the 1% should rule. They’ve been consolidating their wealth and their power for four decades. Ocasio-Cortez is talking about restoring the political and economic balance all Americans deserve, and all of America needs. The far right white supremacists don’t like it. More importantly, the 1% doesn’t like it. To make things more awful for them, she is tough. She isn’t going to politely sit down and let the old guard on either side of the aisle tell her to be quiet. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is also smart, and determined to get a fair shake for all Americans. She is a Tigress. Put her and Mitch McConnell in a locked cage WWE event, and she would have the old traitor on the mat begging for mercy with his last breath in seconds. I doubt she’d even work up a sweat. Donald Trump’s bone spurs start acting up almost as bad at the mention of her name, as they do when he hears the word Pelosi.

That’s why the wealthiest among us hate Ocasio-Cortez. It’s why they fear her. And they should.

Abortion, Don Trump, & Me vs. the Right

   I need to clarify something.  I frequently tell right-wingers that they cannot escape responsibility for supporting Donald Trump by saying they voted for him for this reason or that reason, but don’t agree with every awful thing he does. This brings me to abortion, and my views on it.
   Abortion, and to a lesser degree birth control, are two very key reasons a lot of religious conservatives voted against Hillary Clinton and not actually ‘for’ Donald Trump, they say. I tell them “When you vote for a person, you vote to accept all that they are, and all that they represent. You have responsibility for their actions whether you want to accept it or not.” I stand by that. So I feel the need to be clear about my stance on abortion vis-à-vis my vote for progressive candidates..
  I believe that a woman’s body is her own, but that she has certain responsibilities in how she uses it in regard to her amazing facility to create life. I believe the same about men. Clearly, it’s much more complicated for women, because men cannot conceive. They do, however, provide half of the conception formula.  Sadly, a man who doesn’t care about his responsibility can walk away from the consequences of his actions.
   It’s a much heavier responsibility for women because they can’t just walk away. I understand that. Here are my core beliefs.
   1.  I do not believe in abortion for convenience. Abortion is
not acceptable to me as an alternative to exercising responsibility. Don’t tell me you forgot, you were just so overwhelmed by passion you (male & female both) couldn’t control yourself. If you have that little self-control, perhaps you shouldn’t live around other people.
   1a  I understand there is now, or soon will be, an effective ‘morning after’ pill for such situations. By all means, use it.
   2.  I believe in birth control, birth control, birth control. Don’t even try to preach to me against abortion and birth control at the same time. Sexual attraction is one of the most intense connections between people. If you deny both abortion and birth control, you are irresponsible and naïve. And don’t get me started, here, about how important birth control is world-wide, as humans continue to multiply and multiply. Guppies beware.
   3.  I believe in abortion in instances of rape, incest, and when the mother’s live is in danger. In these cases, the final decision MUST rest with the woman.
   3a  I confess I have no clear thoughts of how to proceed re cases in which the child is going to be born severely deformed and/or disabled. I can say this. This decision, again, must be made by the woman, and I hope with much loving, compassionate counseling.
   4.  I believe in Planned Parenthood. Every statistic shows that abortion, and deaths from abortion, are much lower thanks to Planned Parenthood.
   5.  Keep religion out of it. If you can’t make a good moral, responsible, constructive decision on your own, without looking at what some local community “prophet” claimed was “God’s law” two thousand years ago, I’m not sure I trust you to go for pizza. I believe in God (Goddess, Creator, the Force, however we refer to it). But I do not ascribe to neatly packaged ‘religions’ that love, above all, to proclaim that ‘their’ view of God is the only one. I think we are supposed to learn, to be responsible toward each other, the other life with which we share this incredible planet, and the planet itself, without passing the buck to page 71, or chapter 28, or verse 8 in paragraph 16 of section 49, etc. If we can’t practice decent morality and responsible and stewardship and kindness because it is in our heart, we are already lost.
   Summary:  Abortion for convenience, no, I don’t like that.
   Birth control, and Planned Parenthood, yes and yes and yes and yes again. Abortion when the mother’s life is in danger, or the child may be born severely disabled, has to be totally up to the woman. Competent, compassionate (as opposed to brow beating and bullying and religious book thumping) is vital.
   If you disagree, fine. That is your prerogative. But if you think your feeling on this particular issue justifies your support of a criminal, corrupt, authoritarian, anti-Constitution fascist Hitler wanna-be, of neo-Nazism, anti-immigration white supremacy racists, of a sick “nationalism” that spawned both World Wars, of treating women as second class citizens and virtual serfs,  of total disregard for the very air we breathe and water we drink and animal life with which we share this place, I probably wasted my time here, starting with “I need to clarify…”
   I think I can justify my feelings about abortion in the framework of how I vote, and still hold you responsible for your support of a man who is all of the above.

The Diseased Ignorance of Trump’s Base

The fact that Donald Trump’s core supporters—and maybe some mainstream ones as well—actually believe this, is a sickening and alarming statement about the level of intelligence and the prevalence of psychosis across a third of America. It may also be our swan song, the trumpet forlornly playing TAPS to our Republic.
 
Think about it. CNN, NBC, CBS, Reuters, Al Jezeera, the NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, MSNBC, the BBC, PBS, the British, Canadian, German, French, and virtually every other news source in the world, are ALL liars.  ONLY TRUMP is honest. ONLY TRUMP knows what he’s talking about.
 
EVERY PERSON who has sued Trump for illegal practices, EVERY WOMAN he has sexually assaulted, EVERY LIE of his that has been recorded on paper, tape and video, ALL FAKE NEWS. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Intelligence Agency, the National Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, British Intelligence, ALL LIARS.
 
97% of the world’s scientists, ALL DUMB, because ONLY TRUMP has an instinct for science and global warming. ONLY TRUMP knows what’s right for the environment. ONLY TRUMP knows what kind of air our grandchildren should breathe, what kind of water they must drink.
 
ONLY TRUMP has any brains, despite the overwhelming evidence to the exact contrary. ONLY TRUMP is telling the truth about Russian interference in our country’s election process. Everyone else is out to get him.
 
POOR TRUMP!   TRUMP THE CHOSEN ONE!   TRUMP THE EMPEROR!  TRUMP THE CHAMPION OF NATIONALISM!  TRUMP THE CHAMPION OF WHITE SUPREMACY!   TRUMP THE MESSIAH! TRUMP ALMIGHTY!  ALL KNEEL TO TRUMP…or his supporters will punch you, knock the hell out of you, shoot you dead, blow you up for daring not to kiss his robes.
 
THIS is the disease which infects a full third of America. THIS will destroy us. THIS ridiculous, unreasoning, unimaginable worship of a documented cheat, double dealer, serial liar and sexual assaulter, this man who wears his ignorance as comfortably and proudly as his bigotry and white supremacist nationalism, this man who knows one, and only one, loyalty. ONLY TRUMP! PRAISE BE TO TRUMP. ALL KNEEL TO TRUMP.
America has always had this undercurrent, this third that thrives on racism and bigotry, this third that denies the very core values written into the Constitution by our forefathers. This is the third that now runs rampant with the approval and encouragement of Donald Trump. This is the third that would as soon kick you in the teeth as listen to criticisms of white supremacy and racism. This is the third that is so fervent in its anger over perceived mistreatment, it is blind to where the enemies of middle America truly lie. This is the third for whom violence is first or second option, not the last resort.  This is the third for whom patriotism is wrapped in a Confederate flag and festooned with swastikas. This is the third for whom reason doesn’t mean to think and analyze, but is an excuse for punching your lights out.
 
This disease has already destroyed what was left of a once honorable Republican party. It has turned them into sniveling courtiers and court buffoons, eager to have their particular desires met at any cost no matter how egregious, frightened to their core of displeasing the Emperor. In unison they throw their hands in the air, deny every obvious truth, and proclaim in chorus ONLY TRUMP. They praise the Emperor’s fine new clothes.
 
America may well not survive the ONLY TRUMP insanity. The epitaph on the gravestone of American Democracy will be aptly phrased in two words. HAIL TRUMP.
 
Pardon me now, while I go pour a stiff drink. If ONLY TRUMP cannot be defeated, it may soon be one of the last free actions left to us.

Thanks Donald Trump – Now It’s Official

Thanks Donald Trump. Wow. Those are words I thought I would never utter. And yet here I am, saying, thanks to the Donald. In fact, Trumpsey old boy, I thank you from almost as deep in my heart as the depths from which I despise you. With five little words, you gave today’s Republican party its official mantra.

  It doesn’t matter. We won.

Crooked Presidential elections? Don’t worry about it.  White supremacists and neo-Nazis running for office?  Hey, no big deal. Suppressing minority (especially black and brown minority) voters? Forgetaboutit. It doesn’t matter. We won.

Exploding the national debt with massive tax cuts for the wealthy, then saying it’s the fault of those dare to receive Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid? Come on, it’s what we do. Continuing depression of the middle class? Please. Move along, there’s nothing to see here. It doesn’t matter. We won.

Vilifying the free press because it exposes what Republicans are doing? Attacking one of the Constitution’s most fundamental guaranteed freedoms, that of free speech and the right to protest? Promoting violence against the press and peaceful protestors? Well of course. You should expect nothing less. Don’t worry about it. It doesn’t matter. We won.

  Working to make this a nation run by a specific religion in violation of the Founders’ specific intent that church and state must be separate? Well, why not? We like it that way. It doesn’t matter. We won.

Sexual assault of women? Come on, boys will be boys. Women should just submit and enjoy it.   Conniving to subjugate women to the subservience of men and 2nd class citizenry? You expected maybe something else from us? It doesn’t matter. We won.

Why should you expect Republicans to exhibit any modicum of morality, ethics, or honesty? That just isn’t who twenty-first century Republicans are. And you know what?   It doesn’t matter. We won.

Collusion with a hostile foreign power? to win that crooked Presidential election? That was necessary, of course. Otherwise, how would we be able to say It doesn’t matter. We won.

Promotion of a con man, serial liar, racist, sexist supporter of white supremacy (there were some fine folks in that neo-Nazi crowd at Charlottesville), morally and ethically vacant Donald Trump? Sure.  Nomination of Nazis and white supremacists, sex abusers, and violent bullies? Sounds good to us. It doesn’t matter. We won.

Yes, indeed. The corrupt and often criminal state of today’s Republican party is the reason so many long-time party stalwarts are embarrassed and infuriated by what the GOP has become. It’s why author, scholar, and policy expert Max Boot, who worked on the presidential campaigns of John McCain, Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio, voted for a Democrat for the very first time in 2016. He voted for Hillary Clinton. In a recent interview, Mr. Boot said that the Republican party needs to be burned down, with the hope that something positive might possibly rise from the ashes.

Corrupt. Crooked. Unethical in the extreme. Morally bereft. White supremacist. Religious cultists. Regressive. Racist & anti-civil rights. Anti-immigration. Pro 1% and anti-everyone else. Enemy to the average American worker. It’s all okay.   It doesn’t matter. We won.

I suppose there still exist, somewhere out there, a Republican or two or three like the ones I once knew during the days I frequently voted GOP myself. Maybe they’re hiding in a bunker somewhere. In the hope they may occasionally stick their heads out, or surf the Internet and stumble on this blog, I give them this message. They can take a step in the direction of disenabling the current GOP by voting Democrat in two weeks. Straight Democrat. Perhaps, if these deranged Republicans currently driving the country hellbent toward full-fledged Fascism and economic ruin, if these unethical, immoral, white-supremacist, mean-spirited Republicans now in power can have that power taken from them, these midterm elections might be the start of slowing down our descent into a darkness from which we might never recover. 

Because it doesn’t matter. We won, is no excuse at all for what Republicans are doing to this country.

Surviving the Trump Threat and Moving Forward

There is a question we no longer need to ask. You know what it is. It’s that question we asked Germans for decades after WWII. How did Germany allow themselves to succumb to Adolf Hitler?

We don’t need to ask any longer because we are seeing how it happened, as it happens right here. In America. In the 21st century. Trump is taking America down that same road, and all we do is watch.

Trump has a rabid core of supporters formed of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and fake ‘Christians’ who call themselves evangelicals. He has the support of a Republican party that has lost all sense of either ethics or morality. They are dismantling the core values of the Constitution. They have already made America a laughing stock on the world stage. Now Trump and his National Socialists are taking America from laughing stock to world terror.

And all we do is watch. Because, you see, we depend on our democratic underpinnings to save the day. First the mid-terms, then the ouster of Trump in 2020. Hopefully.

*Hopefully*

Just like all those Germans in the 1930’s who were sure reason would triumph before Hitler and his Nazis took over completely. Oh, and the hopeful ones were in the majority, too. Because, you see, their democracy had two fatal flaws. It was too democratic. It really had no built-in safeguards against a takeover by a charismatic psychopath. And there were insufficient restraints on the power of a single man.

Our own forefathers made exactly the same mistakes. There are no provisions in our Constitution to keep an immoral tyrant from seeking control. And there are roadblocks sufficient to stop a determined Hitler persona from doing whatever he (or she) wants, once in office? The Congress can serve that purpose only if the President’s own party doesn’t also control both houses. The Supreme Court holds no enforcement powers. The nation’s top law enforcement officials serve at the pleasure of the President and his party. The emoluments clause has as much real substance as a Marvel comic book hero. There is no Superman.

IF the United States does manage to survive Donald Trump, these failings need to corrected by Congressional action up to and including Constitutional amendment. It needs to be done with a sense of immediacy. Yes, I have suggestions. They may need to be refined, of course.

1. Psychiatric testing for all Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidate. This can be done by a panel made up of an equal number of psychiatrists from each party. They should also all be teaching level psychiatrists at respected Universities and medical schools, not just anybody with a shingle.

2. No party shall be allowed to control both houses of Congress. The easy fix is for the Supreme Court to allot ‘extra’ votes to the minority party in one of the houses. This is not unfair. Having a single group viewpoint in charge of both houses of Congress is unfair, and dangerous.

3. Abolish the Electoral College.

4. Give the Supreme Court enforcement powers.

5 Reduce the power of the President to make war. He/she should not be able to initiate military action alone except as a direct act of defense/retaliation against a specifically identified hostile force/country in response to a clear act of hostility against America itself. This must be limited to defensive action not to include American forces invading foreign nations. Anything other than this must be authorized by Congress.

6. Once justice department officials have been appointed, the President must not be able to fire them without the concurrence of both houses of Congress.

7. The emoluments clause must be re-written and given teeth. A majority of either house of Congress should be able to instigate the opening of an evaluation. The President’s cabinet, since they have been appointed by the President, can have no part in the process, other than opening an evaluation process by simple majority.

8. No individual who has ever lobbied for industry can be placed in charge of a government agency.

9. The Vice-President cannot serve as the tie breaker in a tied Senate vote. A tied vote must send the questionable legislation to a select committee made up of an equal number of Senators from each party to reach an equitable solution.

10. The President must not have the ability to single-handedly push the nuclear button. He/she must have the concurrence of the Chairperson of the Joint Chiefs. To this end, That individual’s office must be located in the White House instead of the Pentagon.

11. Congress must take immediate action on legislation which spells out clearly that the government shall have no connection whatsoever to any religion or religious body or group.

12. Citizens United must be revisited and overturned. Congress. must take corporate and lobbyist donations completely out of American elections.

13. Congress must review every area of Presidential executive authority and determine legislation to limit it.

That Praying Bus Driver

I just read about a school bus driver in Minnesota who was relieved from his route due to leading students in prayer on his bus.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/school-bus-driver-fired-after-praying-with-students/ar-AAw9Sam?ocid=spartandhp

The article said he forced the students to pray with him. He denied that. But he did pray with them, and evidently, on occasion led them.Whether he forced them to pray with him or not isn’t the issue. He should not have been praying with them. Period. Removing him from school buses was entirely proper. It was necessary. The driver said his First Amendment rights were violated. He was wrong.

The action taken by the bus service here is entirely appropriate. Students have the right to pray individually or among themselves. However, the bus driver leading the prayer was in clear violation of the separation between church and state. This is a critical pillar of our Constitution that must be safeguarded at all costs, for the good of the entire citizenry. It had to be addressed, and was. The driver, by the way, was not fired.
During the forty years that I taught theatre, students frequently asked to hold prayer circles before play performances. I never advocated it. I never suggested it. But if they told me they wished to do it among themselves. I always allowed it. I never participated. I made clear to them I couldn’t do this, and I distanced myself. That is the way it must be handled.

Religion is perhaps the most acutely personal aspect of any human being. No particular faith has any right whatsoever to be endorsed by the government, or individuals in government positions, over any other. In the school setting, a teacher or school official must not participate in religious activities during, though it is acceptable in many places for clubs, initiated and conducted by the students themselves, to meet as an after school activity, with a student-requested staff member who agrees to be present for supervision only. The public schools cannot be, and must not, be in the business of advocating any particular religion over any other.

Christians who claim they are ‘under attack’ are crying wolf. Please. They are not in any way under attack. Do they still have the right to pray in their churches and homes? Yes they do. Have any Christian churches been closed down by city/county/state/federal agencies for practicing their religion? Of course they haven’t. Are Christians still free to “witness” for friends and others on behalf of their faith? Yes they are, as long as the people they are witnessing to agree to it. This claim of being attacked is based on one thing only, their not being allowed to enforce their own religions beliefs on others in a multi-cultural, multi-faith society. 

BUT 1: The state does not advocate for any particular religion. That is the only way the state can fairly represent all faiths. It is unreasonable, unethical, and improper for Christians to expect to be given preference.
BUT 2: Business owners operate under a state/local license that empowers them to offer their goods to the public. This means ALL the public. It does not give them the right to refuse service to those with whom they disagree, whose skin or nationality or sexuality is different from their own, who wears their hair oddly, etc. It’s a simple—and absolutely vital— matter of civil rights, which are guaranteed to all citizens. Baking a cake or making a pizza for someone who’s ‘different’ does not indicate agreement, comradeship or partnership with them. It’s nothing more than the matter of meeting the responsibility of being licensed to sell to the public. Anyone who thinks that refusing service to someone whose skin color or lifestyle is different from their own is one of their civil rights, is grossly mistaken. The buyer’s civil right to buy a cake, etc., easily overrides the business person’s assumed right to insert the prejudices of their personal religion into the public obligation which is part of their license. Again, the government doesn’t deal in religion. It deals in civil rights. These must be safeguarded for all of its citizens.
BUT 3: The First Amendment of the Constitution does not expressly give, nor does it imply, permission to violate the separation of church and state. It does not allow one person’s religion to eradicate the civil rights of another person. It does not make one person superior to another in the conduct of business due to their religion. Period.

The founding fathers of our country, who were mostly Christians, saw the danger of mixing government and religion. They did everything they could to prevent it.  Regardless of what Christian zealots like to think, the Constitution did not—and this was by design—establish the United States as a Christian nation. Our country is a country of many religions, just as it is a melting pot of many cultures and traditions. None has the privilege to enforce itself over others.

Christians who complain that they are “under attack” because they are, in actuality, seeking and being denied special treatment under 1, 2, or 3 above, are behaving like petulant and badly behaved children who don’t get their way. It’s time they realized that. Neither God nor Jesus ,at any time, gave them special permission to consider themselves any better than others. Otherwise, they make end up making their imagined “war on Christians” a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

A- Religion is personal, and cannot be enforced by one faith upon another.
B- Society is governed by laws and mores for the well-being, the “…life, liberty and pursuit of happiness,” of all the people.

Never the twain shall meet. Amen.