Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Duggar Family Cult

The picture above makes me feel sort of sick to my stomach. Seriously, I find the idea of a woman using her body as a virtual non-stop baby-birthing machine disgusting - and a man who would agree to it equally so. As much as some people tell me they are horrified by abortion, I am horrified by a couple who define themselves by their aptitude for continuous breeding. As much as some people accuse the low income clients I work with of having babies to collect a bigger welfare check (which is rarely true), I think the Duggars have made having and exploiting their children their profession.   

I don't believe you can be good parents to 20 kids. It's one thing for siblings to help out with their younger brothers and sisters but not when there are 20 of them. With that many, I believe that what you essentially do is force your other children into servitude by using them as babysitters and cooks and housekeepers and dishwashers and launderers. 

No one can give individual loving focus to so many. There simply isn't enough time and attention to go around when divided by 20. How do you home school that many children when they are all ages and all at different levels of learning? Is that simply another position assigned to the others? 

Most mothers I know would agreeably admit that they sometimes become stressed and frazzled with only four children, or only three or two, or sometimes only one. I can't even imagine what it must be like to be responsible for 20, unless as I said, you rely on the others to be responsible in your place.

Here is a Duggar recipe for: Chicken and Noodles.

  • 8 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 10 T. Mex. chicken bouillon
  • 17 c. water 
  • 1 onion chopped (or 1 T. onion powder) 
  • 4-5 bags egg noodles
  • Chunks cooked chicken (optional)
  • Pepper to taste
  1. Boil Soup, Bouillon, Water, & Onion. Boil 5 min.
  2. Add Noodles & chicken. Pepper either in pot or at table. Yummy!
Really? The chicken is optional? Go to the Duggar recipe page and you will find that meat is in short supply in most of their recipes. Of course, it is. Even families who make lots of money on reality t.v. probably can't afford the amount of meat it would take to make a dish, well, good. This recipe is called chicken and noodles but it is really just noodle soup.

I don't know too much about the Duggars. I haven't read about them because their lifestyle truly does make me sort of nauseated. I assume it is their religion that makes them what they are because what else would it be except a very harsh and fundamentalist religious denomination that would forbid contraception and believe it was a glory to God for a woman to give birth to 20 children.

How many kids the Duggars have is really none of my business. I'm not trying to stop them from living their faith, as crazy as I think it is. (I wonder if the Duggar kids will all follow in their parents' footsteps? Even if they only average ten offspring apiece, that is 200 new Duggars just in the next generation!)

What always upsets me about Christian fundamentalists (well, religious fundamentalists of any kind, for that matter) is that while they expect to have their most far-out beliefs respected, they rarely extend the same understanding to those who follow a different path.  

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Why Do Americans Like War So Much?

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I find American attitudes about war to be absolutely confounding and sometimes, it makes me wonder just how screwed up our priorities are.

We will march and protest and petition not to have to bake a freaking wedding cake for a gay person or to keep Susie, next door, from having an abortion. We will march against Obamacare. We will pooh-pooh what scientists warn about climate change because....the Bible (which, of course, we all interpret every chapter and verse perfectly - we know exactly what god meant and if you disagree, you're wrong). Sports fans get up in arms about deflated footballs or deflated racecar tires. We will go to the mat to protect our right to carry guns - anywhere, any time, anybody. We join groups and contribute dollars to rescue pets and save tigers and protect whales.

We all have particular issues that light our political fires.

Unfortunately, war doesn't seem to be one of them. We are currently at war in Iraq and Syria and Yemen... oh, not declared war. Those declared wars are over, don't you know? It's just that they didn't end simply because we said so - because other stuff came up that prevented us from following through. So, we are still fighting in Iraq and we're delaying the departure of all our troops from Afghanistan.

These extensions of our wars have been going on for months. They might be ruled unconstitutional if anyone cared enough to test that theory - since Congress hasn't approved them and President Obama is still operating under an order given to George Bush oh-so-many years ago, completely out-of-date, which at any rate, doesn't include Syria or technically, ISIS. And it's not the president hasn't asked Congress to weigh in. He'd like their back up for what he's doing but evidently, they just don't think it is important enough to spend their time on what with, you know, giving the big banks another chance to bankrupt the country on the taxpayer's dime and putting more onerous restrictions on abortion and cutting food stamps and, oh, yeah, vacations. Strange that they are so fervently jealous of their privilege about having a say in the negotiations with Iran but actual wars that we are engaged in right now, who cares?

Now, Iran, yes, there is a war that does pique Congress' interest....we're not at war with Iran now but the Republicans, and even some Democrats, would like to be. They are totally scornful of the president's silly little attempts to peacefully prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. No, they say, the only answer is war. The war-mongers who were wrong about every single prediction they made about Iraq are especially vocal about this line of thinking. "Bomb, bomb, bomb," says John Bolton and Dick Cheney and the rest of the Iraq War crew. And oddly enough, the media, that so-called liberal lamestream media, quotes them as if they still had a shred of credibility.

But it is the people themselves who interest me. According to a poll by the Christian Science Monitor, two-thirds of Republicans support bombing Iran while 38 percent of Democrats do.

I wish the poll had asked people how they conceived of this happening. We go in, we bomb, Iran's nuclear capability is destroyed, we dust off our hands and come home? End of story?

Do we really think it would be that easy? Do we really not believe there would be long-term consequences?

That is actually what we did think about Iraq, isn't it? We'd go in and topple Saddam, we'd show them how democracy works and they'd be so happy. We'd go off and leave a peaceful, democratic Iraq behind.

But that isn't what happened. Iran and Iraq had been roughly equal spheres of influence in the Middle East, each keeping the other in check. Saddam was actually the preferable dictator from our point of view, being secular rather than rabidly Islamic. So what we did was totally destabilize that part of the world and soon Al Qaida sprang up to fill the void and when we decimated Al Qaida's leadership, the even more barbarous and bloodthirsty ISIS took its place. Do we truly believe the best way to win friends and influence people in the Middle East is to bomb yet another Islamic country, seeing as how that tactic has been such a dismal failure in the past?

We went into Afghanistan to get bin Laden and Al Qaida but we decided to stick around, why, because we thought Al Qaida would reconstitute itself or because, what the hell, let's kill off the Taliban while we're already here? Except the Taliban isn't killed and probably never will be.

And what gets me the  most about all of this is that, while we'll protest and vote and sign petitions and posts comments on Facebook for all kinds of less-than-intense issues, we allow our representatives to send our husbands and mothers and sisters and brothers and children off to fight a war, and perhaps die, or return with a life-altering injury, with what amounts to a political shrug of our collective shoulders.

We don't ask if it will be worth the lives of our loved ones. We don't ask what the end game is. We don't ask our leaders how we will know when we've won. We don't ask about the economic costs and whether the price is worth what else we'll will have to give up as a society. We don't ask whether, if these wars are so critical, we shouldn't put our hearts where our mouths are and re-institute the draft and make everyone sacrifice for the cause instead of sending the same soldiers over and over. We don't ask if maybe we should double what we spend on veteran's health to insure that every one of our wounded warriors get proper care when they come home.

Nope, every damn time the politicians yell "charge", a significant number of us pick up our flags and holler in militaristic agreement. Then we go back to watching football games while our kids gear up to go to war.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

When Rights and Freedoms Conflict

Because of all the attention my state of Indiana has received over its recently passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act, I've asked myself what  I believe about freedom - religious or otherwise. How do we decide who prevails when beliefs collide? What tests do we devise to determine whether beliefs are "sincere"? Are some beliefs inherently more righteous than others?

Start with the very foundation of our liberty: "all men are created equal". That should be the bedrock of America's principles. All other laws and rules and regulations flow from that single statement.

But what some of us believe are our rights are in conflict with what others believe are their rights. So the law must intervene to insist that there are times when, sorry, but your pursuit of happiness cannot stand if it impacts others in a negative way.

For instance, some religious denominations don't believe in blood transfusions, or indeed, any medical treatment at all. We had a case in Indiana years ago in which a 4-year-old girl died of a huge tumor growing out of her eye. Natali Mudd had experienced a great deal of suffering before her death. Her parents belonged to the Faith Assembly Church, a Pentecostal offshoot, that relied only on faith healing. At that time, Indiana had strict religious shield laws that protected them from prosecution.

Our laws today say that competent adults may make the decision to refuse medical care for themselves but they may not endanger a child's life because of their beliefs. Are these laws a violation of religious freedom? Should we go back to the previous way? A majority of us say no.

In 2000, Congress passed a law to mandate that prisons must comply with dietary needs of inmates, such as Jews who request kosher food or Muslims for whom it is a sin to eat pork. The cost of  complying with their dietary requirements is only in money, a small price to allow others to observe the tenets of their faith.

The use of peyote by Native Americans for religious purposes has been protected in the U.S. since 1965 but  the Supreme Court, in the case of Employment Division v. Smith, (1990), muddied the waters by holding that the First Amendment does not protect Indian practitioners who use peyote in Native American spiritual ceremonies, and also raised uncertainty whether this religious practice would be protected under the compelling State interest standard.

Ritual animal sacrifice is a part of the religious observance of some Afro-Caribbean religions, such as Santeria. The Supreme Court ruled that such sacrifice was legal in the name of religious freedom. Even some of us who support decorating wedding cakes for gay people are a little squeamish about sacrificing goats for the sake of faith but I guess it is no worse than our sacrificing animals for food. What if it was babies rather than chickens or goats though? No matter how genuine such beliefs might be, I assume we and our lawmakers and the Supreme Court would draw a line.

According to federal law, we cannot discriminate against other Americans based on the EEOC designations of race, color, religion, sex, national origin or age. We cannot refuse to hire them, to allow them to marry, to rent them a motel room, to serve them in our restaurant, to sell them a house, etc.

But the more recent questions have centered around: where do LGBT people fit into this? Based on religion, many Americans believe that homosexuality is disapproved of by God and undeserving of the same rights as the others on the EEOC list. (In fact, there are Americans who still believe this about African Americans but federal law overrules their religious beliefs) Meanwhile, it seems a majority of our citizens have concluded that gay people deserve the same rights as everyone else.

So, religious freedom versus civil rights. As much as Christians want to insist that we were founded as a Christian nation, they are wrong. America was founded on religious freedom, that is the right to practice whatever religion you please or no religion at all. You are free to live your faith or non-faith in whatever way it dictates so long as your faith doesn't infringe on the rights of others.

We entered an entirely new area of conflict when the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are the same as people and not-for-profit organizations, such as churches and hospital and schools associated with religion. Now, any owner of a corporation, like the owners of Hobby Lobby, can discriminate based on their faith, thus, employers do not have to provide contraception to their female employees if doing so goes against their church doctrine.

Evidently a majority of the court decided that the religious beliefs of corporations trumps the right of citizens to receive legal health care.

Abortion is protected in America per the Roe v Wade ruling, however, many red states have used legal maneuvering to shut down the clinics in their states or made the restrictions so onerous as to prevent some women, poor women especially, from accessing them. All these laws are, of course, justified in the name of religion.

Religious belief is often in the eye of the beholder. Thus, a Christian who will go to the mat against the term "Seasons Greetings" may also fight to stop a mosque from being built in their neighborhood. A Christian denies the separation of church and state which, ironically, is the very concept that also protects them from the dreaded Sharia law. Sauce for your goose is not necessarily sauce for my gander.

And what about people like me? People who claim fealty to no religion? Those who are bound to a particular faith are all convinced they have found the One True Way and every other religion is simply wrong (at least) and evil (at most). People like me find most of their most fervent beliefs incomprehensible. A god who cares whether his followers eat pork? A god who sends plagues to afflict his people. A god who demands the sacrifice of a rooster? A god who expresses love by allowing his son to be crucified? A god who orders you not to eat meat and milk together? And on and on and on. Oh, God, you certainly do occupy yourself with nonsensical minutia.

More power to anyone who finds a comforting faith to live by. I don't care if people believe these things and practice these customs as long as they leave me alone and don't try to force me to abide by them. My one spiritual law is contained in the Golden Rule. End of my bible.

America contains every possible religion. The vast majority are Christians, of course, but even they are broken into many denominations with differing beliefs. And among them, they pick and choose the sections of their Holy Books they want to emphasize or ignore. Usually, it is the other guy's sin that is the worst. (Homosexuality? An abomination. Adultery? Ah, well, you know....)

So, it all boils down to whose religious freedom and what religious freedom should be "restored". Oddly enough, we usually believe it is our own that most needs to be restored....which does not foretell peace in our time regarding religion.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Oh, Indiana, What A Mess You've Caused

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What can a Hoosier possibly write about this week except our shiny-new Restoration of Freedom of Religion law? The backlash has been incredible and I think it has astonished its Republican supporters as much as it has the rest of us. Perhaps they assumed there might be an initial flurry of negativity from its opponents but that it would fade in time.

And, after all, they've gotten away with so much in our state since they took over, I expect they thought this was just one more thing apathetic Hoosiers would shrug off as we have being made a Right To Work state and watching our prisons and welfare department and toll road being privatized for the profit of big political donors and seeing our public school system devastated (for the same donors) and ignoring our leaders' decision to deny poor Hoosiers access to healthcare by refusing to accept the Medicaid expansion and tolerating new abortion restrictions and voter i.d. laws. They can be forgiven for believing - "hey, we can get away with anything - Indiana voters either agree with us or if they don't, they won't stir themselves to react."

And, you know, they could still be right. Not only Indianans, but all Americans, have the attention span of gnats when it comes to political issues. As Rachel Maddow reminded us on her show, it was exactly ten years ago that Terri Schiavo was even more of a hot button issue than the RFRA is today. If you remember, Terri had been in a vegetative state for a decade. Her husband wanted to remove her feeding tube and let her die.

The governor of Florida at that time, Jeb Bush, persuaded the Florida legislature to pass a law making him, personally, Governor Jeb Bush, her guardian and they did. He signed the law and then ordered an ambulance to take Terri from the hospice where she resided to a hospital where she was hooked back up to her tube and artificially induced to live on.

A lower court declared the Terri Schiavo law unconstitutional and the Supreme Court allowed its ruling to stand.

But Jeb wasn't done. He went to Congress and convinced them, much as he had Florida lawmakers, to pass a national law forbidding the medical community to allow Terri to die. Congress came back from a recess just to vote. George W Bush signed the law. And once again, Jeb was Terri's guardian and he ordered her to be kept alive.

Remember now, these were the Republicans who shout to the skies how they believe government should keep its nose out of the private lives of citizens....unless they don't.

Public opinion was overwhelmingly against the Republicans in the Terri Schiavo matter (she eventually did die). In fact, when Americans were polled they claimed to be horrified that state legislators and governors and congresspeople and presidents would behave in such an arrogant manner. But, hey, this happened ten years ago and life goes on and we forget. Did we hold it against them? No, not in the long run. We voted for them overwhelmingly in the last election...or we didn't vote at all, which is the same thing.

The difference between Terri Schiavo and the Restoration of the Freedom of Religion Act is that poor Terri and her husband didn't have a bunch of big gun defenders, just a few liberal groups and common people. No one the Republicans cared anything about.

But business is against the RFRA and that's an entirely different story. Business is the Republican God so when Apple and Eli Lilly and Walmart and Cummins Engine and many, many more, not to mentions sports organizations, (NASCAR expressed its disapproval, for God's sake, and it doesn't get worse than that for conservatives!) The Indianapolis Star featured a front page headline in huge letters that simply said: FIX THIS NOW - and trust me, the Indianapolis Star is not considered part of the liberal "lamestream" media. Our state has already been hit by business boycotts and more are threatened.

So, we are now looking at a clarification amendment, or so the legislature and Governor Pence say. (The governors of both Arkansas and North Carolina have decided to think a little longer about signing their own recently passed Freedom of Religion laws in light of the push back Indiana has received). I don't think that will work. At this point, it is too little, too late. The whole damn this needs to be repealed. Maybe our state Republicans can get some advice from the national party because Washington Republicans definitely have a lot of experience trying to repeal laws.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

What To Expect If Hillary Runs

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Yep, I'm 100 percent for Hillary in 2016 although I'm old enough to remember the awfulness of the 90's when the Republicans went after the Clintons like a pack of rabid dogs, with much of the so-called "liberal" mainstream media in full cry right behind them. Because Hillary was right, you know, there really was a "vast rightwing conspiracy" and it has only gotten vaster and louder and more vicious in the years since.

So, anyone who thinks the recent Republican destruction machine springs from their hatred for Barack Obama simply doesn't remember the glory days of impeachment. Of course, the Republicans detest Obama and yes, racism is a part of that and yes, simply being a Democrat is another part, but Bill Clinton's presidency (a white male straight Southerner) is where they honed their skills at treachery and deceit and they're even better at it now.

The New York Times, which recently broke a horrified story about Hillary's e-mail "scandal" (which was similar to Jeb Bush's e-mail scandal....the one the NYT brushed off with a yawn) was hugely complicit in the original attempted Clinton lynching. They jumped early on Whitewater and flogged that dead horse until it was hamburger....and still nothing came of it....or the one about cattle futures or Travelgate, or, well, there were so many, I can't even remember them all, the point being that they all fizzled into nothingness.

No, impeachment had to wait for Monica Lewinsky and oh, my, what a deliciously salacious scandal it was too. The Republicans reveled in it. It gave them an excuse to talk about blow jobs and cigars and dresses with semen stains....all for the people's good, of course. I expect some of them had erections behind their podiums as they talked about it, not that they were turned on by the sex, but about the prospect of nailing Clinton. Republicans have different ideas about what constitutes a sexual turn-on than Democrats.

So, they appointed Ken Starr and we went through the rigamarole of an investigation, as if the Monica Lewinsky affair was a high crime or misdemeanor) and through all it it, cable t.v. carried hours and hours of coverage. Some of the same people who are celebrity spokespeople on Fox today made their bones on talking about it. Like the Queen of Betrayal, Lucianne Goldberg's baby boy, Jonah.

The House impeached Clinton but the Senate didn't convict. As a last parting shot though, the Republicans and Ken Starr published the entire investigation on the internet. The American people, they said, deserved to know every sordid detail.

Then a funny thing happened. Clinton became more popular than ever and won re-election and in fact, he is one of America's more best-loved politicians to this very day.

We know how racism has reared it's ugly head during the Obama administration, no matter how much faux indignation Republicans express about that allegation. I have an absolute expectation that the raging sexism that greets a Hillary campaign (and, hopefully, presidency), will be even worse because even Republicans still consider overt racism to be somewhat unacceptable. For the most part, racism has gone underground though we have seen it peeking its head up more frequently in the last several years. I mean, my God, the Republicans not only elected a man who openly supported David Duke, Klansman, they made him their third in command.

Still, for the most part people deny being racists but that's not so with sexism. Many Republicans have trumpeted their misogynistic views all along. The red states have passed bill after bill affecting women's right to plan their own families, not only being against abortion, but even contraception. How many of them have told us in so many words that rape really isn't so bad and if you get pregnant (which you probably won't because women's systems know how to shut that whole thing down), well, gee, it was God's will, so deal with it. Right now, the big furor in Congress is the human trafficking bill, which virtually everyone supports, but Republicans want to include a provision that no federal monies can be used for abortions, even for those who got pregnant as a result of being a victim of sex trafficking. The insufferably arrogant men on the right feel totally comfortable requiring women to have a transvaginal ultrasound shoved up their vagina. They feel completely in their rights mandating our doctors to lie to us. All of this because Big Daddy knows what's best for us dumb girls.

We know how many women, the Republicans in Congress put in positions of leadership. Under Democrats, women held nine committee chairs and under Republicans, they will only have two. In the House, there is only one woman Republican and she deals with administrative affairs, like cafeterias and bathrooms.

No, the Republicans have always been quite clear about their contempt for women.

I'm getting old and I'd really like not to have to fight but I will if I have to and I think anyone who supports Hillary will have to.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

The New American Dark Ages


We typically think of the Dark Ages as a time of war and ignorance and religious turmoil.

First, I have to qualify the term "Dark Ages" as one that is no longer used by historians. It is considered politically incorrect and too negative (that era is now referred to as the Early Middle Ages). There were still art and inventions and creativity going on at the time, of course. (The Goths, for instance, were highly artistic). Nevertheless, after Rome fell in 476, a world that had been somewhat settled under Roman rule began to fall apart, to be conquered by whoever got there first and didn't mind engaging in brutality to prevail.

Various sects invaded Europe and Muslims began to take over swaths of the Middle East, including what Christians considered the Holy Land. To make matters even worse, every now and then, a plague would come along and wipe out significant percentages of the population.

Life began to be more peaceful in about 1000 AD when Europe developed into a series of relatively stable feudal kingdoms. The Renaissance is generally considered the end of the Middle Ages and the bridge to modern history. Of course, before the Renaissance, were the Crusades (1095-1291) and well into it, in 1478, was the Inquisition. In addition, the 1340's brought the worst plague of all, the Black Death, during which 25,000,000 people died. So, just because we said good-bye to the so-called Dark Ages, it didn't mean everything was hunky-dory.

It seems to me that we have once again entered into a kind of modern Dark Ages.

America had a relatively golden youth although no time is perfect. We created one of the greatest democratic systems ever known to mankind but it still allowed for slavery and Native American genocide. We fought a bloody civil war that pitted family against family. We built transcontinental railroads and the world's most productive factories and a public school system second to none, even as we turned a tolerant eye toward child labor and discrimination of women and African-Americans.

Still, over all, knowledge and freedom and invention flourished in the Unites States and our path seemed ever upward in both innovation and civil rights.

Now, we have entered a kind of twilight time in which many of our citizens appear to want to take us backward.

The ideals for which America has always been known are being undermined - civil rights, self-determination, justice for all, due process, education of children regardless of status, thirst for knowledge, creativity.

One of our two great parties is paddling backwards as fast and as far as they can. As other countries are building high speed mass transit and innovative green buildings and turning to renewable sources for more of their energy needs, America falls behind as the Republicans allow our infrastructure to crumble and fight to the death to protect the fossil fuel industry.

As other countries strengthen their school systems and make university free, Republicans are busy trying to dismantle our own system of public education and if our kids can even afford to go to college, they graduate with a mountainous pile of debt.

As other countries provide their citizens with healthcare, Republicans in America take 50 meaningless votes against the ACA because, well, I guess because having no healthcare means freedom...yeah!

Speaking of going backward, the last time, not so long ago, that the Civil Rights act was re-affirmed under George W Bush, it was practically unanimous. But when the Supreme Court gutted it more recently, today's Republicans decided things were fine the way they were, even though several red states passed legislation that had already been judged discriminatory, within 24 hours of the ruling. America is considered one of the most "advanced' nations but our elections are rigged by gerrymandering and voter suppression and everyone knows it. I guess we just don't care enough to fix it.

The Republican side of the congressional aisle has become almost completely anti-science, denying what 95 percent of all scientists believe - that climate change is real and greatly contributed to by humans. Furthermore, they've packed the science committees with people who are totally ignorant about science, people who believe the earth is 5,000 years old and that man and dinosaurs co-existed and that there is such a thing as legitimate rape and that cancer is a fungus and who ask if a woman can swallow a mini-camera to monitor a pregnancy.

In our craven fear after 911, the U.S. immediately threw its long-held principles overboard. Though we were instrumental in writing the Geneva Conventions banning torture, we suddenly decided they no longer applied. Due process, right to know the charges against you, being able to face your accusers? Bah, we can no longer afford such airy-fairy moral luxuries. And if we weren't altogether sure if some of the Guantanamo detainees were actually guilty, well, hey, you gotta' break some eggs to make an omelet.

Many of us are not shocked when our police shoot unarmed black kids because chances are, they were thugs and deserved it. Stand-your-ground laws are in and so are stop and frisk and warrantless searches. Better to err on the side of safety than freedom and fairness, right?

We have elevated guns to the level of icons to be worshiped. No number of dead children are too many to accept as we bow before the altar of the NRA. Collateral damage is just part of it. If it's your kid, well, too bad, so sad.

I'm an agnostic myself but it seems to me that much of conservative Christianity has turned into something I believe would horrify Jesus. These Christians seem so hate-filled. They hate immigrants and gays and poor people and Muslims and blacks. They love fetuses but hate children who need things, like food and housing and healthcare. Does anyone truly believe Jesus would be into Prosperity Theology if he came back today?

What is happening in the U.S. isn't quite so noticeable if you only catch the national news but if you follow what is happening in the states, it is shocking. The North Carolina Senate just passed legislation that would allow magistrates to recuse themselves from marrying any couple of which their religious beliefs did not approve - gay marriage, interracial marriage, interfaith marriage - and since they also decide on matters of domestic violence, divorce and child support, would these same scruples also mandate how they might rule in those cases?

North Carolina attempted to declare Christianity the state religion although the bill was withdrawn.

Literally, hundreds of laws affecting women and their right to control their own reproductive choices have been passed in red states - all making it more difficult for women to determine their own lives and futures. These are laws, mostly proposed and passed by men, that treat women as too stupid to make decisions for themselves, and for whom having a transvaginal ultrasound forcibly thrust into her body is no big deal.

Sex education has been outlawed in some states. Books have been banned. Oklahoma recently dropped the teaching of college placement classes because they taught America's history, warts and all, and weren't considered "positive" enough. Teachers are treated with contempt.

Workers' rights that our forefathers fought and died for are being undermined by the passage of Right to Work laws that give employers ever more power over over their employees. In several red states, collective bargaining rights of public workers are being over-ridden.

States have passed "right to discriminate" laws even as they forbid their employees to enforce other laws ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court. They've done their best to deny their gay citizens the right to marry....or even the right to work if their employers disapprove of homosexuality. They've done their best to deny their citizens the opportunity to have healthcare. They've done their best to give employers the right to decide whether or not their female employees have access to birth control.

In fact, it appears that red state politicians are systematically trying to dismantle democracy itself. In Michigan, the governor appoints managers, who only account to him, to take over cities and counties and school systems...and who has the power to sell off assets owned by the public, such as park lands. They are systematically privatizing every possible agency in favor of profit-making entities - schools and prisons and toll roads and utilities. They play by no recognizable rules. In Indiana, the governor and Republican legislature stripped the duly elected head of public education of her power. In Michigan, they called a voice vote on the recall of the manager law and though it was obvious they didn't get a majority since every democrat voted against it, they declared it passed anyway. In Ohio, they put abortion legislation in their budget, something that had never been done before.

I believe conservatives no longer trust our democratic republic, seeming to think that they are mandated to control America and if the people don't agree, then the people shouldn't be allowed to make the decision and they are within their rights to step in to try to undo the election. When Bill Clinton won, they impeached him.

It has been even worse since Barack Obama was elected. In my opinion, it is worse in large part because Obama is black although they become indignant if you say so. He hasn't done anything to be impeached though God knows, they've tried hard enough to drum things up, so they have to settle for smears and investigations - unAmerican, unChristian, hates the country and the Constitution. They have make such extreme claims to justify their own unAmerican behavior. This, despite the fact that the Obama administration is the first that I remember that has had no cabinet member charged, tried or convicted of a crime.

And oh, how they long for a truly authoritarian leader, a powerful leader, a leader like Vladimir Putin or Benjamin Netanyahu. Bibi makes the blonde babes on Fox cream their panties. Well, in fact, I think some of our Republican congresspeople had wet spots on their britches after Bibi's speech too. They're ready to follow him anywhere....into war with Iran, for instance. We have plenty of resources to go to war with Iran because, of course, Obama is doing nothing in Iraq and Syria and Afghanistan and Africa. If you heard that we were spending millions of dollars a day and leading the bombing raids in Iraq and Syria, and we recently killed ISIS' lead recruiter in Afghanistan and Boko Haram's leader, why you must just be wrong. Listen to Fox, they'll set you straight on how feckless America is under this president.

Ask them to put their money where their mouths are and call for a return to the draft. Ask them if they believe enough to put all our children in harm's way to fight for us and not just the same soldiers over and over and you'll hear....crickets.

And the latest trick when 47 Republican Senators wrote directly to the Iranian government to undermine the talks between Iran and the United Nations Security Council plus Germany made us look like a laughingstock, like we are voting for, and being led by, a bunch of buffoons.

We're not all like that, of course, but a significant minority of the population seems to be getting dumber and meaner. They believe crazy conspiracy theories about the president. They think if you don't teach about sex education, teenagers won't have sex. They think if you don't actually say the words "climate change", it won't be true (Florida actually forbid its public officials to use that phrase.) They think the murders of children at Sandy Hook were an elaborate hoax.

I feel as if I'm living in the midst of a new Dark Ages.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

It's Official - I'm a Hater

The Netanyahu insult was my last straw. The right-wing has finally won. They've beaten me. I've tried so hard to remain reasonable in the face of irrationality, to remain tolerant in the face of bigotry, to pull my punches even in the face of gut blows. I was determined not to let them drag me down to their level, not to strike out blindly for the pure satisfaction of inflicting pain.

Anyone who has ever been in a fight knows the side that recognizes no boundaries will generally win. If you are a reluctant participant who'd really rather not hurt anyone and your opponent is perfectly willing to go nuclear, you're probably going to lose.

As I see it, that has been the set up of the war between liberalism and conservatism in America. The left has generally had to be dragged into it. They were raising their hands in protest and saying, "can't we work things out" even as the right was aiming arrows straight to the heart.

After 8 years of living with George W Bush, we Democrats were euphoric in 2008 when we won the White House with Barack Obama. We thought that was the way democracy was supposed to work. Your turn/my turn. Having watched Clinton's impeachment, we should have known what was coming, but we were blinded by our euphoria.

Meanwhile, the Republicans began their reign of terror on Day One. There was no dirty trick they wouldn't stoop to, no lie they wouldn't tell, no harm they wouldn't inflict on their country to bring down the despised Obama.

This was nothing new for the Republicans. They had a whole playbook of ugly smear tactics from years past. Again, I will refer to Clinton and impeachment...and Whitewater....and Vincent Foster's suicide (or was it?)...and drug running and murder and Hillary the Lesbian, who is Chelsea's real father and, and, and..... It is never enough for Republicans to disagree with those who beat them. They want to destroy them even if they have to destroy the village, meaning the U.S., to "save" it.

And so, we have endured government shutdowns and credit rating downgrades and sequesters and fiscal cliffs and threats of debt ceilings and defaults.

They set new records for filibustering anything and everything, not only legislation, but ambassador and judge nominees. They let us go for years without an ATF Director. They refused to send an ambassador to Russia, for God's sake, along with many other important countries. Judgeships went unfilled.

They voted against legislation meant to help us get out of the recession though jobs and infrastructure programs have been proven to work and both Republicans and Democrats have used them to stimulate the economy during downturns in the past.

And Obama - they accused him of not being an American, of not being a Christian, of being a socialist communist Nazi Muslim (and maybe even gay, to boot). They've accused him of trying to shred the Constitution though he's done nothing more than other presidents have done. They've accused him of being a traitor. He is so awful that, of course, every terrible thing they say and do is totally justified.

And, oh, my God, when they lost to him the second time, their vituperative invective ratcheted up even higher. Their investigations got even more intense. They've spent millions to fund witch hunts and haven't laid a glove on him. And nary an Obama cabinet member has yet been charged, indicted or convicted. Fifty wasted votes against the ACA instead of doing the nation's business.

The posts on Facebook have become ever nastier. During the first term, the right tried, a little, not to come across as racist but they've abandoned that stance now. They still protest about those accusations but their heart isn't really in it. (And does anyone doubt that they will become just as virulently sexist if Hillary becomes president?)

While I tried to tiptoe through the thickets of political disagreement, they were marching like Sherman to the sea. If you don't believe with them, you either don't love America or you're a moron...or both. They have no room for any middle ground.

The Republicans have made a practice of disrespecting this president. They've gleefully sided with the likes of Vladimir Putin against him. Their current crush is on Benjamin Netanyahu, that manly man who, so like everyone in their own previous administration, has been wrong about almost every prediction he's ever made.

But this....inviting a foreign head of state - who is in the midst of an election campaign himself - to a joint session of Congress without consulting the president to undermine their own country's foreign just one step too far for me. So, I admit it. I hate them for it, them and all those who go along with them.So, this is my declaration....I'm officially a hater.