Friday Reads: What exactly defines a Death Cult?

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Good Day Sky Dancers!

I’m old enough to have a clear memory of Jonestown and the suicide massacre that happened in Guyana in November, 1978. The shocking cult massacre has been documented in movies, books, and periodicals. So what exactly is a Death Cult and can an argument be made that MAGA is exactly that?

This brief history and bit of insight of Jonestown is from The Rolling Stone and was written by David Chiu in 2018. Drinking the Koolaid was then introduced into the American Lexicon as the willingness of people enrapt of a charismatic cult leader to do anything in his name. It is terrifically affiliated with the ideal of the white savior.

People have wondered how Jim Jones, a man who preached racial and social equality, turned evil. But as Tim Reiterman explained in Raven, Jones’ dark qualities – his need to control people, his deceit, and his anger toward people who betray or abandon him – could be traced to his childhood in Indiana. A loner during his youth, Jim would entertain his playmates in the loft of his family’s barn and made them his captive audience (one time, he even locked up his young friends in the barn). He performed experiments on animals and conducted funerals for them.

“I thought Jimmy was a really weird kid,” Jones’ childhood friend Chuck Wilmore recalled in the 2006 documentary Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple. “He was obsessed with religion; he was obsessed with death. A friend of mine told me that he saw Jimmy kill a cat with a knife.” According to Jeff Guinn’s book, The Road to Jonestown, Jones also had an early fascination with Adolf Hitler. “When Hitler committed suicide in April 1945, thwarting enemies who sought to capture and humiliate him, Jimmy was impressed,” he wrote.

TIME Magazine Cover: Jonestown Deaths - Dec. 4, 1978 - Religion ...

Sound like any one we know today?

Remember The Branch Davidians and David Koresh? That was certainly more complex than any one understood at the time. How about Heaven’s Gate? That one was a combination of alien conspiracy theories wrapped up in the doomsday prepper culture. It’s difficult to understand how people get wrapped up in these things but they do and they mostly just taking the lemming path over the cliff eventually. And that’s what worries me today.

This Covid-19 Pandemic has brought the tendency to police other people as well as subscribe to some kind of wild proposition that an unseen magical being will save you and no one else. These people also imbue Trump with some kind of papal infallibility which is again, worrying. The combination of evangelical magical thinking and the white rage accompanying Trumpism during a global pandemic should worry us all.

Take this church and pastor in East Baton Roughe, Louisiana, please! “Member of defiant Central church dies from coronavirus illness, but pastor says it’s a lie”. This is from the Baton Rouge Advocate as reported by staff writer David J. MItchell.

A 78-year-old man who attended a Central church that has bucked state stay-at-home restrictions has died from the illness tied to the novel coronavirus.

The East Baton Rouge Parish coroner said Harold Orillion, a parish resident, died from the COVID-19 respiratory illness on Wednesday. Three sources told The Advocate that Orillion had ties to the Life Tabernacle Church. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss a link between the man and the church.

The Rev. Tony Spell, the church’s pastor, did not return messages left Thursday about Orillion after the coroner released his death information following a public records request from The Advocate. Spell later in the day confirmed to television stations WAFB and WVLA that Orillion was a parishioner in good standing.

Spell also disputed that Orillion’s death was due to the virus, despite the coroner’s determination. “That is a lie,” Spell told WAFB.

The Columbus Dispatch photo of an anti-social-distancing protest went viral this week. (Joshua A. Bickel/AP)

And here’s the kicker:

Spell’s fight against the order, along with a handful of other religious leaders nationally against similar restrictions, has attracted worldwide attention. He has been charged with six misdemeanor counts of violating Edwards’ orders.

Spell, who has faced criticism over his stand, has made several provocative comments about the virus and the resulting controversy, including telling TMZ that true Christians do not mind dying from the virus but from “fear living in fear, cowardice of their convictions.”

While many houses of worship have converted to online services, Spell maintains that in-person services are essential to his congregation’s faith and financial well-being.

C'mon - Drink the Kool aid - Trust me! - Imgflip

And then of course this: “Louisiana pastor holding services during pandemic asks people to donate stimulus checks to evangelists”. (Via The Hill)

A Louisiana pastor who has drawn criticism for holding in-person church services despite coronavirus guidelines is asking people to donate their stimulus checks to evangelists who “haven’t had an offering in a month.”

In a video posted to YouTube on Wednesday, the Rev. Tony Spell called on the public to get behind a new online challenge he is dubbing the #PastorSpellStimulusChallenge.

There are three rules to the challenge, Spell said in the video. The first rule is that it starts on Sunday. The second, he said, is for people to “donate your stimulus money.”

“Rule number three,” he continued, is to “donate it to evangelists, North American evangelists who haven’t had an offering in a month; missionaries, who haven’t had an offering in a month; music ministers, who haven’t had an offering in a month.”

“I’m donating my entire stimulus, $1,200,” Spell added. “My wife is donating her stimulus, $1,200. My son is donating his stimulus, $600.”

Individuals with income under $75,000 and married couples with income less than $150,000 can receive the full amounts of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child under legislation signed into law last month by President Trump.

Spell’s comments come as churches across the country have either closed their doors or moved their services online in efforts to comply with stay-at-home orders issued by states and federal guidelines urging people to avoid unnecessary travel and gatherings exceeding 10 people amid the pandemic.

Baton Rouge area pastor defies governor, welcomes large gathering ...

Yes, he continues to violate the law. (via CNN) This was as of April 1st.

When asked why he will not follow the governor’s mandate, he said, “We have a mandate from the word of the Lord to assemble together. The first amendment says that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the exercise of religion.”

Spell said officers came to him Tuesday and read him his rights, but didn’t arrest him. He said he he was asked to stop having services and he told them that he would not stop.

“We aren’t breaking any laws,” Spell insisted.

Earlier in the day, in a Facebook Live video, after being served the summons at his church by two police officers, he maintained his defiant stance.

“We will continue to have church,” he said. “This is a government overreach. They are asking us as a government to stop practicing our freedom of religion. And we have a mandate from God to assemble and to gather together and to keep doing what we’re doing.”

Fool Aid - Donald Trump - Sticker | TeePublic

But, he let’s not stop with my local example but head straight to the DeVos Death Cult and its relentless support of the Mad King in the Oval office. The wacky white neoconfederate followers of the Orange Koolaid are out there trying to kill us over what they consider government overreach. And of course, they’ve focused on a Woman Governor, Christine Whitmer. (Via NBC News)

Asked about the protests at his press conference Thursday, one in which he unveiled his administration’s guidelines for reopening, President Donald Trump said he believed the demonstrators would listen to him and added there is no daylight between his views and the governors when it comes to reopening.

“I think they’re listening. I think they listen to me,” Trump said of the protestors. “They seem to be protesters that like me and respect this opinion, and my opinion is the same as just about all of the governors. They all want to open. Nobody wants to stay shut but they want to open safely. So do I.”

The protests have had a tea party flavor to them, with demonstrators carrying “Don’t Tread on Me” flags and wearing “Make America Great Again” gear. Some have even waved Confederate flags.

“I’m only surprised they can tear themselves away from Rush Limbaugh long enough to go protest,” Philippe Reines, a former top adviser to 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, told NBC News.

Critics say they’re angry with the shutdowns, which have curtailed business and leisure activity in the name of a deadly virus they say hasn’t hit their neck of the woods. But health experts have warned it won’t take much for a relatively unaffected place to become a hot spot, as just one infected person is able to spread the virus to dozens of others.

Susan J. Demas writing for the Michigan Advance: “Don’t whitewash the GOP’s extremism on full display during Whitmer protest.”

We were promised it wasn’t a Republican protest. We were promised people were just upset they couldn’t golf or buy seeds (in stores) during a pandemic that’s already killed 2,000 of their neighbors.

But the folks trekking to Michigan’s Capitol Wednesday weren’t carrying rakes or watering cans or cute pun-filled signs about the right to garden (which still would have been ironic, since it was snowing). No, they brought Confederate and Donald Trump flags, AR-15s and a Gov. Gretchen Whitmer doll in a noose.

“She’s the reason we need the 2nd amendment!” multiple people shouted from their cars.

The Michigan Militia showed up to do a recruitment push. The Proud Boys were there. A few hundred people left their cars — even though we were repeatedly assured they’d follow social distancing rules — and strolled down the street with misspelled signs like “Heil Witmer” (replete with a backwards swastika) and clustered together on the Capitol steps for photos. Several pushed conspiracy theories that COVID-19 wasn’t real and insisted they couldn’t get it anyway by violating simple federal health guidelines (nobody volunteered any medical credentials to make such claims). Many brought their kids.

Ambulances couldn’t get through traffic. Who knows how many gas station clerks, restaurant workers, police and reporters protestors encountered and possibly spread the virus to.

It’s important to pull back for a moment. The policies Whitmer and 42 other governors have put in place to stop a pandemic have been carefully crafted by public health officials. It’s not that they want to be a buzzkill or kill the economy (seriously, no politician wants that, just out of sheer self-preservation). It’s because the disease has spread so rapidly and killed so many. Drastic times call for drastic measures.

With almost 30,000 COVID-19 cases, Michigan has the fourth-most in the nation. But the protestors didn’t even do a feint to acknowledging the 2,000 people who have lost their lives or the families they left behind. It was just primal screams against the Democratic governor and calls for Trump to make everything great again.

For a party that’s ostensibly dedicated to the sanctity of life, Republicans have repeatedly and flagrantly demonstrated how little they care about their neighbors dying of an excruciating disease that can feel like shards of glass have filled your lungs.

Where is the humanity?

Trump: He's Just Like Us! | The Nib

Michael Tomasky of The Daily Beast has an explanation: “Trump’s Culture Warriors Are a Literal Death Cult Now”.

You know where this is headed, right? We all know. Donald Trump and the Republicans are going to turn the election into a red vs. blue culture war battle—not over abortion, not over climate change, not over guns, but this time, over death itself.

Because death is every authoritarian’s last play. An authoritarian leader makes demands of his people. They must cheer more lustily than non-authoritarian people cheer. They must salute in a particular way. They must exonerate him of all error, whether stupidly invading Russia or massively screwing up a pandemic response or shooting someone on Fifth Avenue. And finally, they must prove they are willing to at least flirt with death, if the leader’s hold on power requires it. It’s the final demand on loyalty, and every authoritarian gets there eventually, in one way or another, even those forced to operate within democratic contexts.

Thus, the question of the 2020 election, as Trump and his party attempt to frame it: Are you manly enough to sneer at death, like real men do in the movies (which are fake, of course, but never mind that), or are you one of those pusillanimous patsies who quivers under the bed sheets like some avocado toast-eating intellectual, whining that we have to listen to the experts?

kool-aid

Jason Williams of The Guardian has the details on what shadowy groups and characters are funding this craziness.

On Wednesday in Lansing, Michigan, a protest put together by two Republican-connected not-for-profits was explicitly devised to cause gridlock in the city, and for a time blocked the entrance to a local hospital.

It was organized by the Michigan Conservative Coalition, which Michigan state corporate filings show has also operated under the name of Michigan Trump Republicans. It was also heavily promoted by the Michigan Freedom Fund, a group linked to the Trump cabinet member Betsy DeVos.

But the protest also attracted far-right protest groups who have been present at pro-Trump and gun rights rallies in Michigan throughout the Trump presidency.

Placards identified the Michigan Proud Boys as participants in the vehicle convoy. Near the state house, local radio interviewed a man who identified himself as “Phil Odinson”.

In fact the man is Phil Robinson, the prime mover in a group called the Michigan Liberty Militia, whose Facebook page features pictures of firearms, warnings of civil war, celebrations of Norse paganism and memes ultimately sourced from white nationalist groups like Patriot Front.

The pattern of rightwing not-for-profits promoting public protests while still more radical groups use lockdown resistance as a platform for extreme rightwing causes looks set to continue in events advertised in other states over coming days.

In Idaho on Friday, protesters plan to gather at the capitol building in Boise to protest anti-virus restrictions put in place by the Republican governor, Brad Little.

The protest has been heavily promoted by the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF), which counts among its donors “dark money” funds linked to the Koch brothers such as Donors Capital Fund, and Castle Rock, a foundation seeded with part of the fortune of Adolph Coors, the rightwing beer magnat

It’s definitely worth the read. The usual list of icky suspects with money an icky suspects with guns and white nationalists tendencies are all there in the list.

So, this isn’t the most pleasant topic to end the week on but I’ll I can say is “the more you know”.

Don’t you know her when you see her?
She grew up in your back yard
Come back to us Barbara Lewis
Hare Krishna Beauregard

Selling bibles at the airports
Buying Quaalude’s on the phone
Hey, you talk about, a paper route
She’s a shut in without a home

Come Back to Us Barbara Lewis Hare Krishna Beauregard (1975) lyrics and music by John Prine.

Be safe! Be well! Stay home!!!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Friday Reads: Animal Farm

It’s difficult not to think about what the current state of affairs means in terms of the celebration of Independence Day as we head into Fourth of July Festivities.  Our country was born of the Age of Reason.  Thomas Jefferson–who wrote the document proclaiming US Independence–was an amateur scientist and philosopher.  He might be considered the ideal Renaissance man if he had also found a way to support his causes and lifestyle with employees instead of slaves.

There’s always been this dark side to the American Dream and there have been many people throughout history who have fought those inclinations. It’s been a slow climb from the idea that we all are created equal to getting to a society that actually lives that value. The climb continues.

Why is it so difficult to treat one another with the respect and dignity we each deserve?

The Republican leadership and Administration is based on the most vulgar, salacious, and base motivations we’ve witnessed since Andrew Jackson was committing mass genocide on human beings he considered “savages” and since a group of people considered the nation’s black Americans to be not wholly human.  They deemed all folks with African descent to be precisely 3/5ths human.  All of this was done in the name of the same religion that tortures our better angels today.

The cognitive dissonance is simply mind boggling.  Today, Ahvaz Iran has reached an almost unheard of temperature of 129.  It’s one of the hottest temperatures ever recorded on the planet. 

Another weather source, the Weather Underground, said Ahvaz hit 129.2 degrees Thursday afternoon. The heat index, which also takes humidity into account, hit an incredible 142 degrees.

Fortunately, the weather forecast for Ahvaz on Friday is for “cooler” weather, with a high of only 119 degrees, according to AccuWeather.

The official all-time world record temperature remains the 134-degree temperature measured at Death Valley, Calif, on July 10, 1913. However, some experts say that temperature isn’t reliable. Weather Underground weather historian Christopher Burt said in 2016 that such an extreme temperature was “not possible from a meteorological perspective.”

Scorching heat is one of the most expected outcomes of man-made climate change, according to a 2016 report from the National Academy of Sciences and a 2015 study in Nature Climate Change.

The prestigious magazine  Science published a study estimating the economic cost of climate change to the US economy.  It’s not pretty.  You can read the fully study at the link.  This is its Abstract.

Estimates of climate change damage are central to the design of climate policies. Here, we develop a flexible architecture for computing damages that integrates climate science, econometric analyses, and process models. We use this approach to construct spatially explicit, probabilistic, and empirically derived estimates of economic damage in the United States from climate change. The combined value of market and nonmarket damage across analyzed sectors—agriculture, crime, coastal storms, energy, human mortality, and labor—increases quadratically in global mean temperature, costing roughly 1.2% of gross domestic product per +1°C on average. Importantly, risk is distributed unequally across locations, generating a large transfer of value northward and westward that increases economic inequality. By the late 21st century, the poorest third of counties are projected to experience damages between 2 and 20% of county income (90% chance) under business-as-usual emissions (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5).

Meanwhile, the man responsible for the EPA–professional whackadoodle Scott Pruitt–launches  program to ‘critique’ climate science.

“We are in fact very excited about this initiative,” the official added. “Climate science, like other fields of science, is constantly changing. A new, fresh and transparent evaluation is something everyone should support doing.”

The disclosure follows the administration’s suggestions over several days that it supports reviewing climate science outside the normal peer-review process used by scientists. This is the first time agency officials acknowledged that Pruitt has begun that process. The source said Energy Secretary Rick Perry also favors the review.

Executives in the coal industry interpret the move as a step toward challenging the endangerment finding, the agency’s legal foundation for regulating greenhouse gases from cars, power plants and other sources. Robert Murray, CEO of Murray Energy Corp., said Pruitt assured him yesterday that he plans to begin reviewing the endangerment finding within months.

“We talked about that, and they’re going to start addressing it later this year,” Murray said in an interview. “They’re going to start getting a lot of scientific people in to give both sides of the issue.”

But another person attending the meeting said Pruitt resisted committing to a full-scale challenge of the 2009 finding. The administration source also said Pruitt “did not promise to try to rescind the endangerment finding.”

Climate scientists express concern that the “red team, blue team” concept could politicize scientific research and disproportionately elevate the views of a relatively small number of experts who disagree with mainstream scientists (Climatewire, June 29).

Pruitt told about 30 people attending a board meeting of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity yesterday morning that he’s establishing a “specific process” to review climate science, the administration official said. Murray and two other people in the room interpreted Pruitt as saying he would challenge the endangerment finding.

Challenging the endangerment finding would be enormously difficult, according to many lawyers. The finding is built on an array of scientific material establishing that human health and welfare is endangered by a handful of greenhouse gases emitted by industry, power plants and cars. It stems from a Supreme Court ruling in 2007.

If Pruitt somehow succeeded in rolling back the finding — an outcome that many Republicans say is far-fetched — the federal government would no longer be required to restrict greenhouse gas emissions.

Other evidence that there is no sign of intelligent life in the majority of Republicans are  these doozies:

Trump Administration Appoints Anti-Transgender Activist To Gender Equality Post

“To put it simply, a boy claiming gender confusion must now be allowed in the same shower, bathroom, or locker room with my daughter,” wrote the new senior adviser for women’s empowerment at USAID.

Oh, and this one.

White House council for women and girls goes dark under Trump

The administration is evaluating whether to keep the office, created under President Barack Obama to focus on gender equality

I agree with Ezra Klein on this: “It turns out the liberal caricature of conservatism is correct. It’s depressing. But it’s true.”  These people are motivated by greed and feeding a group of religious zealots who think Eve is the root of all evil and any one not pristine white carries the stain of sin.

Marc Thiessen, the George W. Bush speechwriter who now writes a column for the Washington Post op-ed page, is aghast at the Senate GOP’s health care bill. “Paying for a massive tax cut for the wealthy with cuts to health care for the most vulnerable Americans is morally reprehensible,” he says.

“If Republicans want to confirm every liberal caricature of conservatism in a single piece of legislation, they could do no better than vote on the GOP bill in its current form.”

But at what point do we admit that this isn’t the liberal caricature of conservatism? It’s just … conservatism.

Though Republicans had long promised the country a repeal-and-replace plan that offered better coverage at lower cost, the House GOP’s health care bill cut hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes for the rich and paid for it by gutting health care spending on the poor. It was widely criticized and polled terribly.

Senate Republicans responded by releasing a revised health care bill that also cut hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes for the rich and paid for it by gutting health care spending on the poor. It has also been widely criticized, and it also is polling terribly.

Donald Trump, who ran on a platform of covering everyone with better health insurance than they get now, has endorsed both bills.

Republicans, in other words, have repeatedly broken their promises and defied public opinion in order to release health care bills that cut spending on the poorest Americans to fund massive tax cuts for the richest Americans. (The Tax Policy Center estimates that 44.6 percent of the Senate bill’s tax cuts go to households making more than $875,000.)

Fundamentalism of all sorts has always been the basis of the evil done by this country.  Republicans are feeding it.

How do you make climate change personal to someone who believes only God can alter the weather? How do you make racial equality personal to someone who believes whites are naturally superior to non-whites? How do you make gender equality personal to someone who believes women are supposed to be subservient to men by God’s command? How do you get someone to view minorities as not threatening personal to people who don’t live around and never interact with them? How do you make personal the fact massive tax cuts and cutting back government hurts their economic situation when they’ve voted for these for decades? I don’t think you can without some catastrophic events. And maybe not even then. The Civil War was pretty damn catastrophic yet a large swath of the South believed and still believes they were right, had the moral high ground. They were/are also mostly Christian fundamentalists who believe they are superior because of the color of their skin and the religion they profess to follow. There is a pattern here for anyone willing to connect the dots.

“Rural, white America needs to be better understood,” is not one of the dots. “Rural, white America needs to be better understood,” is a dodge, meant to avoid the real problems because talking about the real problems is viewed as “too upsetting,” “too mean,” “too arrogant,” “too elite,” “too snobbish.” Pointing out Aunt Bee’s views of Mexicans, blacks, gays…is bigoted isn’t the thing one does in polite society. Too bad more people don’t think the same about the views Aunt Bee has. It’s the classic, “You’re a racist for calling me a racist,” ploy. Or, as it is more commonly known, “I know you are but what am I?”

I do think rational arguments are needed, even if they go mostly ignored and ridiculed. I believe in treating people with the respect they’ve earned but the key point here is “earned.” I’ll gladly sit down with Aunt Bee and have a nice, polite conversation about her beliefs about “the gays,” “the blacks,” “illegals,”…and do so without calling her a bigot or a racist. But, this doesn’t mean she isn’t a bigot and a racist and if I’m asked to describe her beliefs these are the only words that honestly fit. No one with cancer wants to be told they have cancer, but just because no one uses the word, “cancer,” it doesn’t mean they don’t have it. Just because the media, pundits on all sides, some Democratic leaders don’t want to call the actions of many rural, Christian, white Americans, “racist/bigoted” doesn’t make them not so.

Paul Krugman is more succinct.  He calls it Republican ‘cruelty’. It is exactly that.

The puzzle — and it is a puzzle, even for those who have long since concluded that something is terribly wrong with the modern G.O.P. — is why the party is pushing this harsh, morally indefensible agenda.

Think about it. Losing health coverage is a nightmare, especially if you’re older, have health problems and/or lack the financial resources to cope if illness strikes. And since Americans with those characteristics are precisely the people this legislation effectively targets, tens of millions would soon find themselves living this nightmare.

Meanwhile, taxes that fall mainly on a tiny, wealthy minority would be reduced or eliminated. These cuts would be big in dollar terms, but because the rich are already so rich, the savings would make very little difference to their lives.

More than 40 percent of the Senate bill’s tax cuts would go to people with annual incomes over $1 million — but even these lucky few would see their after-tax income rise only by a barely noticeable 2 percent.

So it’s vast suffering — including, according to the best estimates, around 200,000 preventable deaths — imposed on many of our fellow citizens in order to give a handful of wealthy people what amounts to some extra pocket change. And the public hates the idea: Polling shows overwhelming popular opposition, even though many voters don’t realize just how cruel the bill really is. For example, only a minority of voters are aware of the plan to make savage cuts to Medicaid.

In fact, my guess is that the bill has low approval even among those who would get a significant tax cut. Warren Buffett has denounced the Senate bill as the “Relief for the Rich Act,” and he’s surely not the only billionaire who feels that way.

Which brings me back to my question: Why would anyone want to do this?

Because they can and because they love power and money.  Their mega-rich donors will shower them in both.

I think we can forever ask ourselves the big question of why do these uneducated white people continually fall for it?  The answer is that their life basically sucks and they’re doing what ever they can to feel better about it. Religion and Republicans give them a feeling of superiority based on the only thing they have: the identity birth gave them.  Every one is paying an awful price for that.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today? Tuesday is Independence Day if we can keep it.


Wednesday Reads: It’s Black…Its White…It’s Whiter White

Good Afternoon

As you will notice today’s post is being accompanied by black and white stripes. (Or are they white and black stripes?)

Black and white printed stripes, black shadows against white skin, or white lights streaming upwards against a black night.

Whatever the case may be, I think the last few days have brought home my deepest fears…perhaps it is because I live in Banjoville, a town that is so predominately Trump territory. So I have the intimate knowledge of the “phenomena” that is Trump-ism… you know that shit that so many dumb-asses in the media write about…let me tell you plain and simple what is Trump’s Juju with the crowd who is voting for him come November.

It is white supremacy.

Shall I repeat it? Yes, I think I should.

White Supremacy.

image

 

And it brings with it all the other horrible baggage you would expect…the usual racism, hate, intolerance, misogyny, assholism, and all the rest peppered with a shit load of “christian values” as they define the code of religious virtue…as it applies to who they feel deserves it. Which you all know is limited to those they consider “right” enough (white enough) to meet the approved standard.

imageAs this quote from Juan Cole, when speaking about the shit-stain Rep. Stephen King…and his disgusting comment at the RNC on Monday: Rep. Stephen King, White People and ‘Civilization’

Rep. Steve King objected to a comment during a cable news discussion at MSNBC that this will be the last election dominated by old white people.


Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) offered an unusual defense of the racial homogeneity of his party during a panel on MSNBC Monday evening.

The group, led by Chris Hayes, was discussing the first day of the Republican national convention and Donald Trump’s history of racially-loaded comments and behavior. King told Hayes that he thought Trump had “modified” his behavior in that regard, but Esquire’s Charlie Pierce said he didn’t see much diversity reflected in the gathering itself.

image“If you’re really optimistic, you can say that this is the last time that old white people will command the Republican Party’s attention, its platform, its public face,” Pierce said. “That hall is wired,” he continued. “That hall is wired by loud, unhappy, dissatisfied white people.”

King objected.

“This ‘old white people’ business does get a little tired, Charlie,” King said. “I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out, where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you’re talking about, where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”

image“Than white people?” Hayes asked, clearly amazed.

“Than, than Western civilization itself,” King replied. “It’s rooted in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the United States of America and every place where the footprint of Christianity settled the world. That’s all of Western civilization.”

There are lots of basic things wrong with King’s statement, even just starting with his category of ‘whiteness’. Whiteness is not ‘natural’– it is an invented category. Were Irish white? A lot of English didn’t think so. “Whites” rioted against Greek immigrants to the US. White supremacists still argue over whether to let in Italian-Americans. Me, I don’t want to be called white and I decline that categorization whenever the government or other people with questionnaires will let me. The Appalachian side of my family probably has some Melungeon to it and some of us aren’t all that ‘white.’

imageCole goes on to correct King’s ridiculous statement about “civilization” here:

If by civilization is meant urban society with high rates of literacy, scientific and technological innovation, role specialization and division of labor, and high levels of collective government, then northern European Christians did not invent it.

Iraq, Iran, India, China and Egypt did. The Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Elamites, Persians, Indians, Chinese and the Pharaohs of Egypt had civilization for thousands of years while Celts in Britain were painting themselves blue and doing hunting and gathering in the wastes.

There is way more at the link, please go and read the full article.

imageYou can see video of the statements here: America And White Cultural Superiority: Representative Steve King

Of course it is no use to show or tell these Trumptarians the facts. Because they will go on, completely make up false stuff, put it in school books and teach it to the young children. And hey, they don’t even have to stick to charter schools anymore, in Texas…where most of the US public schools purchase their textbooks to use in the public education system, fact is a thing of the past.

A Textbook That Paints Mexican-Americans As Lazy Could Be Coming To A School Near You

It’s “deeply flawed,” but that hasn’t stopped the Texas State Board of Education before.

imageA proposed Mexican-American studies textbook has drawn harsh criticism for what Latino educators and scholars in Texas are calling a lack of scholarly expertise, major factual inaccuracies and demeaning characterizations of Mexican-Americans.

“What we have now is a deeply flawed and a deeply offensive textbook,” Celina Moreno, of the Texas Latino Education Coalition, said at a Monday press conference.

Groups like Moreno’s came together with professors who specialize in Mexican-American heritage, and who had been independently scrutinizing the textbook, to share some of their disturbing findings.

imageEmilio Zamora, a professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin, reviewed material that covered the U.S.-Mexican War of 1846-48 to the present. He said he found “five to seven serious, serious errors per page,” which render the entire publication “useless and even counterproductive.”

The Texas State Board of Education is currently reviewing the book for potential approval. Although the book’s fate is far from clear, the board has previously approved textbooks and curricula that deny climate change, promote creationism, whitewash historical events and maintain that the roots of Western democracy are found in the Bible.

And last year, the board rejected a proposal that state-approved elementary and high school textbooks be fact-checked by academics. 

imageOh, that emphasis is mine…

Because of the state’s tremendous clout in the educational publishing world, Dan Quinn of the nonpartisan educational watchdog group Texas Freedom Network told HuffPost that content that makes the grade in the Lone Star State is likely to be adopted ― in some form or another ― well beyond its borders.

I really feel that this has been coming for some time. I remember writing about this textbook shit years ago…it is one of the topics we have discussed frequently on the blog.

The lone proposal for a Mexican-American heritage textbook came from Momentum Instructions, a company linked to Cynthia Dunbar, a former education board member known for her extreme conservative views. Quinn described her four-year term on the board as “one culture war after another.”

imageIn a 2008 book titled One Nation Under God ― released while Dunbar was still serving on the state board ― she called public education “tyrannical” and a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion,” according to the Texas Observer.

As for the proposed textbook, Quinn suggested that Dunbar and its authors were seeking to “promote their own political and personal ideas.” He said the authors lack credible expertise in the field of Mexican-American studies.

Emails and calls to Momentum Instructions were not immediately returned.

For a few more remarks on this “textbook” see this article: Scholars Have Scathing Reviews for Mexican-American History Textbook

imageIt sounds like something you would expect in a nation that has Trump as the official GOP Candidate for President…

As the State Board of Education (SBOE) is accepting comments on the book before voting on it in November, a group of academics and advocacy groups decided to take a closer look at Mexican American Heritage. Organized as the Responsible Ethnic Studies Textbook Coalition, they announced their reviews Monday morning at the Texas Education Agency’s (TEA) offices in Austin.

As it went on, the press conference began to sound more like the least successful book blurb pitch session ever:

“A deeply flawed and deeply offensive textbook that has no place in Texas classrooms.” — Celina Moreno, Texas Latino Education Coalition

image“Useless and even counter-productive.” — Emilio Zamora, professor of history at UT-Austin

“Replete with … offensive racial stereotypes.” — Lilliana Saldaña, associate professor of Mexican-American studies at UT-San Antonio

“So riddled with factual errors that a traditional publisher would not have recognized or tried to publish this book.” — Christopher Carmona, National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies-Tejas Foco

“Willfully irresponsible, culturally chauvinist and discriminatory.” — Zamora

“The person who wrote the section on Texas history would have failed a fourth-grade exam. … There are no women cited or quoted in the entire chapter.” — José María Herrera, assistant professor of education at UT-El Paso

image“Simply unworthy. … Obviously a fraud.” — Zamora, again

The coalition is calling for the SBOE to completely reject the book — not just require a few tweaks to the text — for a combination of factual errors, academic laziness and cultural insensitivity.

Saldaña noted that the book not only refers to indigenous people as “Indians,” but provides a lengthy explanation of why “Indians” is the best term to use. Elsewhere, Saldaña pointed out, the authors describe one group of people as driven by “bloodlust” — language she said was better suited to a Hollywood script than a serious academic text.

imageUh…chapters with no women writers or quotes? What the fuck? (Misogyny strikes again!) I don’t know, the few comments from members of the Republican board members will give you an example of how frustrating the attitude can be…Proposed Texas textbook describes Mexican-Americans as ‘lazy,’ new coalition works to block it – The Washington Post

The Texas State Board of Education is reviewing the proposed book and will consider public comments and feedback in September.

In an article in the Austin American-Statesman last month, one board member said the textbook was okay with him:

Board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont, who opposed asking for a Mexican-American studies course and textbook, said the proposed book seems fine.

image“It’s really kind of amusing. The left-leaning, radical Hispanic activists, having pounded the table for special treatment, get approval for a special course that nobody else wanted,” Bradley said. “Now they don’t like their special textbook? I bet they want everyone to also get an A for just attending? The one thing we can’t fix in this world is unhappy people.”

It really pisses me off…fuck him. (That male superior tone in the statement. How I hate it.) And this is how the majority of the population in my home town think. It is exactly how a Trumptonain thinks. And it is the kind of person who will vote him into office.

imageJust one more link for you today…this: What’s on Display in Cleveland? The Republican Id – BillMoyers.com

The triumph of Trump has demonstrated the cost of the devil’s bargain that party elites — and the media — have accepted over the years.

What is on display at the RNC in Cleveland is the Republican id. We always suspected it would look something like this. But even though it reared its ugly head on occasion on Fox News or in Congress — on the lips of some right-wing preacher or billionaire hedge-fund manager. They would compare gays to Satan, progressive taxation to Naziism and people of color to criminals at best, animals at worst — but the more polite, polished folks who spoke for the party would always regretfully shake their well-coiffed heads and explain that wasn’t what the party was really about.

And to their eternal shame, most in the media ran interference for this confidence game, only to be blindsided when Trump demonstrated that it had always been a charade.

imageWell thanks to Donald Trump and his followers, the jig is up. Melania Trump’s plagiarism of Michelle Obama was just about the least offensive thing one heard from the podium on Monday night. The rest was a near orgy of hatred, racism, sexism and ethnocentrism. Rudy Giuliani has always presented himself as an avatar of “law and order.” This has been a conservative mantra for half a century. We always suspected it was code for the suppression of African-Americans and now we know. Ditto all this talk of “Judeo-Christian” values. It’s a code for Islamophobia and oppression. And the attacks on Hillary Clinton sound an awful lot as if they are being spoken by people who simply cannot accept the fact that women have the same rights and capabilities as men. And to their eternal shame, most in the media ran interference for this confidence game, only to be blindsided when Trump demonstrated that it had always been a charade.

Listen to the speeches by the Republican heavyweights who have agreed to take the stage in Cleveland; not one of them has put forth an actual idea that makes sense in terms of how to govern the United States. That’s because governance has long ceased being relevant to the Republican coalition. What holds it together is nothing more than nostalgia for a more oppressive America and resentment toward those who refuse, any longer, to sit on the back of bus.

imageMy only response to this is to say that it is what I’ve been seeing all along, for years…from my window into the world that is my “quiet redneck mountain town” of Banjoville, GA. It is frightening as hell. I cannot lean back and think this election is a done deal. That folks will vote for Hillary and that she is a foregone conclusion to win in November. I am truly scared Trump could pull it out, and the stupidity will put him in office…and we will once again see the white lights of supremacy that shone in Nuremberg those years ago…brightening the dark black skies over America…to make America Great Again…to make America Safe Again. (As the RNC message was on Monday.)

Fucking hell.

 

 

 

 


Wednesday: Banjoville, Georgia. A microcosm of Trump Nation.

Good Afternoon

This little section of delight in the North Georgia Mountains…I’ve spoken before of the cross-section of folks who live and breed in the town of Banjoville. Simple kinds of folk, why the sign welcoming people to our county states as much:

 

061212-national-KKK-Highway-litter-adopt-a-highway

 

 

I’ll give them the “Scenic Beauty” but as far as the “Friendly People” …that is open for debate.

I’ve noticed the Trump situation has made the bold hateful comments more mainstream. it is acceptable and standard and now common place to find this shit among the facebook pages of the typical Banjoville resident.

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(One of those comments is written by a superintendent of schools…more on that later in the post.)

But there is something more to it than all this hate, which is deep seated in the back mountain town mentality that populates so much of the nation. The Trump Nation. It is a nation that would never support a Cruz or Rubio, because when it comes down to it…they have Latino blood.

There was a tweet I saw yesterday that sums the whole thing up perfectly.

 

Yes, when it all comes down to it, White always wins.

And this is what I see everywhere I go in Banjoville.

A White Right Wing Christian Hate that is prejudice against any and all who is not “one of them.” Living in a town like that is hell. My family has experienced the discrimination first hand many times. To this point I bring you the reason for this post. The Trump Nation embodied in Banjoville, what does this mean for society.

We live in a town where the Sheriff’s Office is so blatant about their total embrace of the practice of Separation of Church and State. This is the painted image that greats you as you walk into the Sheriff’s Office:

image

It is a picture by an artist, Beth Sweigard, known for painting fetuses and a sad Jesus…

0179d419209fe4e9b0c0aae12d746b14d11842d97f

….or Jesus at the Jewish Peoples’ Wall…

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When I first saw that Patriotic Jesus poster in the sheriff’s department, I immediately thought about that other spectacular artist…Jon McNaughton.

jmprayforamerica-3-40136.1418054955.1280.1280

Yeah, he is the artist who immortalized Clive Bundy above as some kind of western hero for the nation….

one_nation_under_God

You want a real laugh, take a look at the gallery of patriotic work here jonmcnaughton. com /patriotic/

I’ve seemed to have gotten carried away there, I need to get back to the Banjoville Sheriff Dept.

Everywhere you look there is proof that the Sheriff is a holy man, even a plaque that states he has been to church more times than any other man alive on the planet. ( I kid you not.)

Tell me that a person who is not a “real” Christian will have a equal chance at justice in that building. (The color of their skin goes without saying…back before the State of Georgia forcibly frightened all the immigrants out of town, the officers made most of their arrest by stalking the Spanish Sunday Mass up at the Catholic Church…and pulling over any car leaving the church.)

How about the fine Doctors in the area? Who proudly display their affiliation in The Oathkeepers…Oh yeah, we even have one who is a leading authority member of the affiliation. How does this affect his service to the public…the entire public. (Well, I guess since he is in private practice that is not a legitimate question, but if he is the only doctor your insurance plan accepts what then?)

Then you have the teachers and administrators at the schools, counselors who are partial to the local Banjoville White Christian. Coaches who are prejudice against players… teachers who will penalize a student if they are the wrong” color or even the wrong Christian faith. (Y’all remember Catholics are a no go as well.) This is not something made up…this really happens and it effects the future lives of students.

This is the view of a Trump Nation from my little Banjoville. The hate and bitterness is nothing new, it is just becoming bolder in its execution.

Now he’s hooked the Christian conservatives: Accept it, Donald Trump’s not fading — even more on the right are buying his snake oil – Salon.com

Donald Trump might actually be able to pull it off. A new, nationwide poll from CNN/ORC shows that Trump’s lead in the Republican polls has grown even stronger going into the Iowa caucus, which kicks off the primary season. He’s reached 41 percent support amongst Republican voters, which is more than double what his closest contender, the even more ridiculous Ted Cruz, has. Even more startlingly, Trump’s supporters seem more assured of their votes than the supporters of any other candidate. It seems Trump might do what seemed to be impossible: Overcome the resistance of party leaders to grab the nomination.

[…]
…things are looking a lot better for Trump than anyone could have predicted. Part of the issue is that his closest contender, Ted Cruz, hasn’t made the progress he clearly thought he would at this late stage.

Mea culpa time. I’ve long thought that Ted Cruzhad a strong chance of knockingTrump out of the race, and that Cruz would either win the nomination or at least winnow it down so that Rubio could sneak up and grab it. In my own defense, the theory was pretty sound. I argued that Christian right voters would move away from go-nowhere candidates like Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson and coalesce behind a single candidate. It seemed that Cruz, who is an even nastier bully than Trump but speaks fluent evangelical-ese in a way that Trump can’t master, was well-positioned to suction up those Christian right voters.

The evangelicals did abandon the smaller candidates but, in a somewhat surprising twist, they flocked to Trump. Cruz’s once robust support amongst evangelicals is plummeting. He now has only 20 percent of the evangelical vote, whereas Trump has 37 percent of their support.

And now Jerry Falwell Jr. is endorsing Trump. This is doubly huge because Cruz used Liberty University, which Falwell is the president of, as the stage to announce his run for presidency. But such is the Trump-momentum that Cruz is getting left behind even by those whose support he thought he could count on.

Trump’s ability to win over evangelical voters is the surest sign yet that his campaign will not collapse as quickly as every predictive model imaginable suggested it should. Prying Christians off Trump should have been easy! He’s been married three times and literally cheated on his first wife in a church. His attempts to pretend he cares about religion have been limp and unconvincing, and yet, his base of support with evangelicals is only getting stronger.

The best explanation for why comes from Adam Lee of Daylight Atheism, who points out that “evangelicalism isn’t especially concerned with beliefs, nor has it ever has been.”

“Whether it’s Prohibition and communism, dancing and divorce, or abortion and gay marriage, evangelicals’ pet causes have changed radically over the decades,” he adds. “The issues themselves have only ever been important as a boundary marker, a way to delineate Us from Them.”

Trump fails comically to convince anyone he’s ever even cracked a Bible, he is the master at the “us vs. them” narrative. It turns out this is actually all the majority of Christian conservatives needed. All that stuff about Jesus and family values was merely window dressing. All that really matters is being told that people like them are better and more worthy than other people, and whoever can do that the most effectively — turns out that’s Donald Trump – will beat out the competition.

The us vs them….no that is not the right way…it is more like I said above, Trump pulls this “he is one of US” or “they are not one of us”… is more like the wording to me. One of Us being the key phrase. Us being only White Caucasians, accepting Jesus as your Savior kind of Christian, Us.

 

Anyway, that is my observations of Trump supporters, for another look, take a gander at this: The Return of the Middle American Radical An intellectual history of Trump supporters.

Trump not only got Jerry Falwell yesterday… Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. endorses Trump – The Washington Post . He also got: Sheriff Joe Arpaio to Endorse Donald Trump in Iowa – First Draft. Political News, Now. – The New York Times and today: Donald Trump wins John Rocker’s endorsement | www.ajc.com

A long read here: How Trump Happened – WSJ.com

However, I think the reason Trump happened is because of the media’s lack of calling Trump out for his racism, sexism, and every other thing the bigoted asshole has done.  Of course the Media isn’t only to blame. I think the corporate powers are a YUUUUGGGEE part of the problem too.

Watch this interview from The Young Turks that touches on the media and corporate sponsors.

Oh, the other points of the interview are very well taken, but y’all get the message here.

Just take a look at the headline from The Washington Examiner: Why can’t Donald Trump handle Megyn Kelly? | Washington Examiner

WTF is that?

Maybe I am being sensitive?

Although the article is not as bad as the headline makes it…

This feud has gotten ridiculous. Republican front-runner and businessman Donald Trump is now threatening to boycott the upcoming GOP debate if host Fox News doesn’t remove Megyn Kelly as a moderator.

I don’t usually like the argument that takes the form of, “if candidate can’t stand up to X, how can they stand up to the Islamic State?” But I do wonder how Trump will be able to handle anyone as president if he can’t take the sort of pointed questions about his weaknesses that originally soured him on Kelly.

It all started last August at the first GOP debate, when Kelly asked Trump about the New York businessman’s comments toward women in the past. The question was one of the most memorable of the debate, and prompted Trump to later claim: “you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes … Blood coming out of her wherever.”

Kelly has recently poked fun at former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Trump, and hosted National Review editor Rich Lowry, whose magazine has come out against the Republican front-runner.

And here we are. This insignificant back and forth has caused Trump, for the fourth time this cycle, to threaten to boycott a debate. Trump said he would boycott two CNN debates if CNN President Jeff Zucker didn’t donate money to charity. He also threatened to pull out of the CNBC debate if the format wasn’t changed (rival Ben Carson made a similar threat as well).

This makes Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti’s statement all the more relevant: “Donald Trump is just trying to build up the audience for Thursday’s debate, for which we thank him.”

Trump is unlikely to actually boycott the debate and host his own town hall for rival networks, as he has claimed he would do. But if he has no plans to actually do this, his ongoing comments and actions toward Kelly are troubling.

How will Trump handle a hostile press if he is president? We know the press will be more harsh toward a Republican president, and that the press is especially hostile toward Trump, so will he just shut them out? And does Megyn Kelly, on a right-leaning network, really need to be public enemy number one to the Trump campaign?

I realize that this, like everything Trump does, is for attention, but it ultimately brings into question his ability to handle adversity and criticism.

That and imagine his fat sweaty fingers on the button of our nuclear arsenal.

Trump: ‘Obviously’ I Was Joking About Shooting People And Not Losing Votes

“It Was Like a Fascist Rally”: Sikh Protester Ejected From Trump Event Speaks Out

On Cruz and Rubio, Jesus thumping there way to Iowa:

Ted Cruz’s Evangelical Gamble – The New York Times

Rubio presses ‘Judeo-Christian values’ in Iowa | TheHill

Cruz’s Constant References to Jesus Drive Millions to Atheism – The New Yorker

Other links…

Trump Said He Bought Windows From China Because America’s Were Too Expensive – The Daily Beast

The Progressive Policy Donald Trump Just Embraced | ThinkProgress

Donald Trump endorses an idea liberals love: letting Medicare negotiate drug prices – Vox

Noam Chomsky Says GOP Is ‘Literally A Serious Danger To Human Survival’

As Donald Trump and Ted Cruz Soar, G.O.P. Leaders’ Exasperation Grows – The New York Times

Well what do you expect when you have GOP politicians like these:

Maine Gov. LePage: Bring back the guillotine

Racist, bigoted Facebook posts from top schools official can’t be tolerated

Leaked Documents Undermine Official Story Of Flint Water Crisis | ThinkProgress

 

In other news:

Denmark approves controversial refugee bill allowing police to seize asylum seekers’ cash and valuables | Europe | News | The Independent

Is the Oregon Standoff Over Yet?

Ammon And Ryan Bundy Arrested In Oregon; One Militant Dies In Shootout With Law Enforcement | ThinkProgress

After Bundy Arrest, Remaining Militia Says They Will Continue Occupation And Are Prepared To Die | ThinkProgress

Eyewitnesses Give Conflicting Accounts Of How Rancher Was Killed In Standoff

Christie ‘Glad’ That ‘Thin-Skinned’ Trump Skipping Fox News Debate

 

That is all, more updates and links in the comment section below.

This is an open thread y’all….


Friday Reads: Selective Attention and Tangled Webs

dca4f1181add1a68dca46b6b30d8b02dWe’ve had a few tough weeks.  

The problem with constant access to media is that you get constant access to unpleasant things and people.  Also, the folks that wish harm on others get a constant bombardment of stimulus, propaganda and instructions.  That sets off a lot of copy cat nastiness.

The United States experiences rampage killers like no other.  We also have politicians that we might as well characterize as mass killers. Their policies kill our fellow citizens and enable others to do so.  Our system preys on the weak and turns the crazy loose on us.  What ever happened to solving problems through policy instead of creating them through political maneuvering and manipulating constitutional rights?

The power of the NRA is a case study in what can happen in democracies when a powerful, plutocratic entity only acts in its best interest and funds and threatens policymakers.  If only members of government were as concerned with the other Constitutional Amendments as they are with shielding the beefed up version of the second amendment that we now have thanks to the NRA and the Republican appointees to the Supreme Court.   Our right to privacy and our right to be free of a state-forced and sanctioned, majority-pushed religion is under attack.

We hear demands and see policy prescriptions that enshrine bigotry and unequal treatment under the law hiding under calls to protect religious liberty.  When real religious liberty is threatened, these same folks seem dumbstruck.  Their shallow and contradictory arguments scream “Allow me to do what ever I want in the name of religious freedom including restricting the civil rights of others but please put those practicing other religions on a register and monitor them constantly and make them follow my tenets and fetishes. Restrict their free exercise and allow our society to inflict mine on others.”

What we’ve really seen the past few weeks is religious fanaticism hyped up with access to weapons and enablers.  The problem is that our treatment of these actions and speech is systemically different even though our Constitution and judicial history indicate what they want isn’t in keeping with US ‘values’.  Religious fanaticism is condemned in one form of practice. It’s being tackled with suggestions that would restrict other’s Constitutional Rights.  Religious fanaticism is being enabled on the other hand.  It’s equally being tackled with suggestions that would restrict other’s Constitutional Rights.  This makes my head spin and my heart hurt.

So, it seems that the San Bernadino shooters were “radicalized” in to some form of wahhabism.  The woman was sympathetic to ISIS.  The man may have been set off by being harassed by a “messianic Jewish” co-worker who was one of the victims of the rampage shooting when it came to a head at a holiday party.  Oh, and the same day we had all this going on another shooting occurred at a Women’s Health Clinic.   We also found out the that Colorado Planned Parenthood rampage shooter had targeted women’s clinics before.  Some one  or thing “radicalized” him too. Yet, we have no media coverage or political obsession on that.

Is it because he only killed three and he’s not the latest thing in rampage killing?  Or, is it because what radicalized him is one of the political parties and a part of their base?  (This is a base that includes Opus Dei members of SCOTUS and a ton of “The Family” members in the House.

We cannot deny that our supposed pluralistic, tolerant, and religious neutral society has been accessed by the worst of our fringes.  No wonder the FBI is having difficulty characterizing our recent set of domestic/international terrorist activities.  Our radical christianists have gone international in creating an international terror network against GLBT persons and fund groups that force conversion on Muslims and others.  If ISIS is radicalizing folks in California, what do we call “Christian” Pastors that radicalize folks in Uganda?

Just to add some icing to this cake, we’ve had the most violent and death-filled Black Friday Shopping day also. Oh, and this last Black Friday saw3833.web_seedhead.jpg-580x0 gun sales soar.  Ho, ho ho …. Prince of Peace …. Holiday Spirit … wtf is wrong with this country?  We now have holiday shopping as a violent, rampage event.

 I suppose I should mention that there was a mass shooting just blocks from me at a park filled with children and old people recently.   It was across the St. Claude Avenue line of demarcation but I heard the rounds of both the semi-automatic and the hand guns from about six blocks.  Silly me.  I was thinking it was likely early Thanksgiving fireworks. I live in a city with constant gun violence.

Interestingly enough, our DA has asked the NRA to try to craft some “reasonable” limits to gun access.  No one–not even the US Senate–can accomplish this.

Less than two weeks removed from a mass shooting in Bunny Friend Park that left 17 injured and in the recent shadow from a mass shooting in California that left 14 dead, Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro invited the National Rifle Association to find solutions to the gun violence that plagues New Orleans and the nation.

“Both locally and nationally we are seeing an increase in gun-related violence,” Cannizzaro said. “In New Orleans, the street trade of firearms has become too prolific.

 The Senate just voted to on a bill to stop people on the Terrorist list from getting access to guns. It was mostly symbolic since anything related to gun regulations gets defeated immediately these days.  I only wish that Serial Clinic Harassers could be put on that list too since any sensible gun bill that hits the Capitol floor is symbolic these days and we could use that symbolism.  

We can sure stack up the number of gun violence victims but heaven forbid they get healthcare. Sick and poor people are the victims of bad policy.  The umpty umpth repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act was also up for a vote.  One Republican voted for the Feinstein Bill.  Several Democrats voted against it.  

Senate Republicans on Thursday rejected an amendment to the ObamaCare repeal bill that would have tied it to a separate fight on blocking suspected or known terrorists from being able to buy guns.

Senators voted 45-54 on procedural hurdle for the measure from Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
The California Democrat’s proposal, which she has also introduced as a separate piece of legislation, would allow the attorney general to block the sale or transfer of a gun or explosive to a suspected or known terrorist if the individual is believed to use the weapons in an act of terrorism.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) broke rank and voted against moving forward with Feinstein’s amendment, while Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) voted with Democrats.
Speaking to reporters earlier Thursday, Feinstein called her amendment “the definition of a no-brainer.”
She underscored the bipartisan support behind the proposal, pointing out that a House Republican has introduced a similar bill and the idea was initially backed by the Bush administration’s Department of Justice in 2007.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), however, suggested that Feinstein’s amendment would strip Americans of due process.
“This is not the way we’re supposed to do things in this country,” he said ahead of the vote.
Senators rejected an amendment from Cornyn by a 55-44 vote. The Texan’s proposal would have allowed the attorney general to delay suspected terrorists from getting a gun for up to 72 hours as they try to get a court to approve blocking the sale of the firearm.
The transfer of the gun would be blocked if a court determines that the person wanting to buy the gun has committed or will commit an act of terrorism.
“If you believe the federal government is omniscient and all competent vote for the Feinstein amendment,” Cornyn added ahead of the votes, noting that the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) was on a terror watch list.
Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) voted to move forward with Cornyn’s proposal. Kirk voted against the amendment on the procedural hurdle.

We are a divided country.  I’m sure Heitkamp’s North Dakota voters have no idea what it’s like to live in an urban area with constant gun violence.  spiders web frozen ireland jan 2010 Just as it seems that many Republican Presidential candidates–and one in particular--don’t seem to know much about the lives and beliefs of any one outside their particular demographic ( wealthy WASP/C men). Politicians seem more subservient to a pet demographic and lobby more than ever. This used to be more common in the House but rare in the Senate. This is no longer the case in the years of stopping Obama at any cost.

Relations between the United States and Israel have been rocky during the Obama administration and people in the Jewish state are keeping close tabs on the 2016 presidential race. However, Israelis woke up on Friday morning to some surprising headlines, thanks to this year’s crop of unconventional candidates.

The Times of Israel led with Donald J. Trump’s referring to Jewish people as “good negotiators” and with his declining to commit to supporting Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the country. “Trump courts Republican Jews with offensive stereotypes,” the headline blared atop a story that described his remarks as “anti-Semitic.”

I’m going to back step a little to show you that “discussion” between rampage shooter and victim in San Bernadino.  Keep in mind that a “Messianic Jew” is basically one that has converted to Christianity while maintaining a Jewish identity.

Thalasinos’ friend, Kuuleme Stephens, told The Associated Press that she happened to call him while he was working with Farook, and that he brought her into their debate, loudly declaring that Farook “doesn’t agree that Islam is not a peaceful religion.” She heard Farook counter that Americans don’t understand Islam, and Thalasinos responded by saying “I don’t know how to talk with him,” she said.

Stephens said she didn’t sense any pending violence at the time, and it is not clear if their debates factored in the attack. Stephens said Thalasinos did not believe his co-worker would ever turn violent.

However, Stephens said his grieving wife told her later Thursday to tell the media that she now “believes her husband was martyred for his faith and beliefs.” It wasn’t immediately clear why Jennifer Thalasinos came to that conclusion.

frozen spider webYou kind’ve have to wonder what it might be like if your co-worker is constantly trying to characterize your beliefs as something he desperately wants them to be and you can’t seem to convince him otherwise.  We’ve all been victims of obnoxious proselytizers, I’m sure, and yet all of us, don’t go full throttle radical jihadi on them.  All serial Clinic Harassers don’t all use semi-automatics to inflict damage either.  The problem is that the entire systems creates, sets up, and enables the rampage shooters and our leaders seem more complicit than ever.

The problem is a basic lack in the ability to empathize and sympathize with other human beings.  How many people do you know that just have to insist they’re right?  I’ve seen it come to angry words and even school yard brawls.  But why, in our country, does that anger jump to the idea that you have to insist you’re right with a damned semi-automatic weapon that takes out first graders, play ground revelers, women seeking health care and public health inspectors?

The bigger question is, however, if we look to our leaders to seek out the middle ground and to protect our rights to be us in a society where there are many folks that don’t live like us, look like us, and share religious beliefs like us, and then can’t seem to think outside their own little box, how do we survive as a country?

Each Republican Presidential candidate has characterized a blatantly false propaganda film as showing something horrible about a place that simply helps poor people get access to health care and a constitutional right.  Every time we get a rampage shooter, sensible majority supported laws controlling access to certain weapons and weapon stockpiling becomes an affront to duck hunters.  Gay people are taking away religious freedom for wanting equal access to Civil Marriage but monitoring all members of a specific religion is just common sense disaster prevention.  Depriving US citizens of everything because their parents brought them here while undocumented is just protecting our borders.

Orwell was prescient, wasn’t he?frozen_spider_web_spinnenweb_cotoneaster_CoralBeauty

We’ve so twisted our characterizations of others that we can no longer find any kind of commonality and middle ground.  It’s time to get back to Politics as usual and to find ways of protecting Americans instead of creating environments where we demonize each other then grieve when some one acts on those demons with an arsenal.  I believe the tangled web does come from the deception of others as Walter Scott so famously suggested. Unfortunately, the others appear to be a huge number of elected officials.  We’re not going to see anything change until we stop the ones that continually lie, deceive, and mischaracterize our fellow human beings and citizens.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?