Friday, January 23, 2015

The State of Our Union is.......

                                

The State of our Union is....pathetic. I'm talking about the union that is represented by us...you and me. President Obama is wrong. We are a collection of red states and blue states, blacks and whites, gays and straights, Christians and non-Christians, liberals and conservatives. We aren't all united in this endeavor, America, anymore.

And Obama himself, who I think truly wants to believe what he's saying, is a perfect example of just how divided we now are. I had someone tell me on on Facebook just a few days ago. "He's not my president. He wasn't born here and he isn't legally the president. He should be in prison." And that is not an uncommon theme on the right-leaning side of America.

So, this is what our democracy has devolved to. He's not my president because I refuse to accept the will of the voters who elected him. If I don't get my way every time, then I will simply refuse to honor the outcome.

Take nullification, for example. Mike Huckabee, possible Republican presidential aspirant, recently floated the idea that even if the Supreme Court outlaws gay marriage bans throughout the U.S., states don't necessarily have to follow that decision. Ultra-conservative sheriff's have declared that they will refuse to enforce gun laws and in fact, will arrest and charge federal agents who try to do so. Different areas of the country have made every possible effort to shoehorn Christianity into our schools in place of science. Some of them have even tried to declare Christianity their official state religion, despite our Founding Father's strongly held belief that the government must be neutral on matters of faith.

 So, despite the right being the side that howls about the sanctity of the constitution, they have declared war on that document if it means being ordered to do something they don't want to do. I guess it boils down to all of us getting to decide for ourselves which laws we want to follow and which ones we don't....and that isn't a government, it's anarchy.

In the ultimate expression of nullification, some Americans want to secede from the union and start their own new, proudly red, country. Let's call it the nation of Reagan as one proponent of secession wants to do. In Reagan there would be no abortions but lots of guns. There would be no gay marriages but lots of....gee, I can't think of anything they're for but more guns. Gays, immigrants, Muslims, atheists, African-Americans, independent minded women, union workers and poor people - leave Reagan because we don't want your kind here. Seems as if it would be a rather sparsely populated country, doesn't it? But not to worry - with no abortions or contraception, I'm sure the population would soon boom with good white Christian conservative residents.

In Reagan, there would be no unions and no taxes. If a Reaganite suffers from a catastrophe, they'd better be prepared to pack their bags and head for the familiar old U.S, because, of course, there are no assistance programs in their new country. It's Every-Man-For-Himself-Land.

We have become a collection of disparate factions, all pretty much hating one another, each with our own go-to set of media sites that parrot back to us what we want to hear.

And what are liberal attitudes toward all this division and dislike and dysfunction? I can only speak for myself but where once I would have tried to cajole, argue and convince the other side that we all need to work together for the sake of America, I find myself admitting defeat. I'm more than tired of it all. I'm ready to tell them, "just go already...secede....take your hate with you and the rest us will continue with the business of America....all of us together....all the people you cast aside. And may the best country win."



Saturday, January 17, 2015

#OverwhelmedbyIgnorance

   It does seem as if ignorance has become a valid point of view in the America of the 21st century. I don't mean the ignorance of the uneducated or unintelligent. I mean regular everyday Americans...bright people, many of them. Graduates of at least high school and more often, products of some type of higher learning. People who operate, or at least work for, successful businesses.

These are people who are ignorant by choice, people who will go to tortured lengths to cling to their ignorance in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

You say that the vast majority of scientists believe in climate change? Over 90 percent? Well, don't you know, they are all paid off by the opposition. Who is the opposition, you ask? Who would pay what would have to be billions upon billions of dollars to get scientists across the world to lie? And what would these people receive in return for their enormous investment? Who benefits from saying that climate change exists when it doesn't? No climate change denier has yet been able to tell me.

We do know who benefits if climate change is ignored. The current energy giants who have a vested interest in keeping our focus on fossil fuels rather than alternate energy sources. Aren't they the ones who are more likely to be lying?

And what does it say about our faith in humanity if we prefer to believe that most scientists are motivated by greed rather than a thirst for knowledge...this, although we know that scientists through the centuries have been excommunicated, tortured and killed for insisting on truth their leaders didn't want to hear.

To the deliberately ignorant, statistics and even empirical proof is so much nonsense. We embarked on an economic experiment under Ronald Reagan 40 years ago - trickle-down economics. It posited that if we simply gave our wealth to the rich, jobs and prosperity would trickle down to the rest of us. The working class would actually be better off without unions because the overflow from the elites would automatically raise our boats too. Why pay union dues when we could have better wages and benefits for free?

Trickle-down economics stated that we could give away our income by means of lower taxes but our national income wouldn't go down, it would go up! Two minus two no longer equals zero, we were told, it actually equals nine! Wow....cool, huh?

Except it wasn't true and has never been true. Four decades of experience and evidence later, we know for sure it isn't true although we are still bound by those bogus claims because we have one political party and the people who vote for them who want so badly to believe.

We have lately had a plethora of our political representatives say, "I am not a scientist". Normally, you'd think, "well, great, they're finally going to recommend that we put our faith in those who are," but nope, what they mean is, they are not scientists but we should trust them on issues dealing with history and science and women's reproductive systems rather than actual scientists and doctors and historians.

Sadly, much of the misinformation disseminated by the non-scientist true believers is rooted in religion. The earth is 6,000 years old. Men and dinosaurs walked the planet together. Women rarely get pregnant from rape. I.U.D's cause abortion. Our Founding Fathers intended America to be a Christian nation. Slavery wasn't really all that bad for black people. Somehow, all this is what they get from their Bible. That poor book has been used to promote every kind of theory under the sun....often theories that completely contradict one another.

The election of our first African-American presidents seems to have exacerbated the amount of voluntary ignorance in the country today because, of course, ignorance and conspiracy and paranoia usually walk hand in hand.

When people post some of the things they do on Facebook - that Obama isn't an American, that he isn't a Christian (and if he is, he is the most virulent Bill Ayres kind of Christian - take your pick), that there are student i.d.'s floating around the internet that prove he was a foreign student if he even attended college here at all (which we don't know for sure because he's had his records sealed!), that he has packed his administration with followers of Islam, that's he's gone around the world apologizing for America, that he either refuses to wear an American flag pin or he wears it upside down as a gesture of contempt, that he doesn't salute the flag....Geez, I could go on forever....I ask them where they are getting their information and it is invariably websites like Barack Obama's Dead Fly or Red State or Wing-Nuts 'r' Us (as well as Fox News, of course), all of which they believe are more legitimate than the Christian Science Monitor or CNN or the New York Times.

I ask them if they have a clue how many hundreds and thousands of people would have to be in on such a conspiracy in order for it to happen.

I ask them when they think all their fears are going to come to fruition - the FEMA camps and the Death Squads and the confiscation of their guns - I mean, its been six years and Obama only has a couple left to bring his nefarious plot to destroy America to completion.

"Don't you know," they say, "he's going to suspend the 22nd Amendment and run again." And they don't quite say it but I know they're implying that stupid, brainwashed sheeple like me will fall for it. (Google it, if you don't believe me).

I ask them if they will be willing to admit they are wrong if Obama leaves when he is supposed to and none of their phobic worries have come to pass? They brush me off. Even without Obama, the agenda has been set in motion and will continue unless vigilant Americans like them can wrest it to a stop.

Because facts aren't really facts anymore, they are simply opinions that back up whatever you choose to believe.


Friday, January 9, 2015

A Path That Leads Nowhere

     Yes, I understand that more and more of us are beginning to feel this way in light of all the terrorist activity in the last many years. The sheer brutality of the radical Muslims who are perpetrating the bombings and the beheadings and burnings makes it difficult not to want to respond in kind. It is so much easier to simply lump all Muslims in one big basket and kill them all...or at the very least, deport them all or refuse to allow any more in to the U.S. or forbid them to build any mosques in our country....or damn, there ought to be something we can do to show our contempt for Islam and every damn freakin' member of that unholy so-called religion!

Except we'd be wrong to do that. Christians right here in good old America have in the past....and actually, not so distant past...performed some pretty horrendous acts. Start back with the genocide of Native Americans and the slavery of black people and the terrible way we treated the Chinese who built our railroads. Think of the segregation and the lynchings and putting Japanese in detention camps and the awful conditions under which we forced migrant workers and their children to labor and live. Think of our discriminatory and cruel treatment of gays. Call Abu Ghraib to mind and the just released torture report and the forced feedings at Guantanamo.

One of Bible's most oft-quoted sayings is: "let he who is without sin cast the first stone". But that's the problem isn't it? I wasn't around for most of what I mentioned above and I certainly didn't approve of the things I was around for even if they were done in my name. I don't deserve to have any stones cast at me, do I, although I am a member of the same race and religion and nation that did them. I'm not responsible for everything that any white person, Christian or American has ever done, am I?

But, essentially, that's what some of us are doing with Muslims.

Unfortunately, the most radical and vicious members of any group will get the most attention, especially when they perform spectacular feats of terrorism like 911 or this latest one in Paris. Most African-Americans don't want to kill cops and most cops don't want to kill African Americans. Most Palestinians don't want to kill Jews and most Jews don't want to kill Palestinians....and most Muslims don't want to kill Christians although the worst among them sometimes make it seem as if they do. (I expect they feel the same way about us what with our various wars and bombings and drone strikes in their countries).

If you are beginning to feel that there is a black thug or a rogue cop or a Muslim terrorist around every corner, you can blame part of that on your news media. A million African-American men can walk peacefully down the street; a million cops can do their jobs with integrity and competence; a million Muslims can raise their families with values like yours and mine but you'll never hear about them as the t.v. goes on hour after hour after hour telling us why we should be terrified...and by extension, hate the ones who are terrifying us.

If that attitude prevails, we will be worse off than we are now. Yes, we must defend and protect ourselves as much as possible. Yes, if that means monitoring some of our phone calls, if it means our intelligence agency tracking likely suspects, if it means paying to give our protectors the most up-dated information gathering equipment, we must do all those things.

But turning on each other? That is a path to nowhere but more hatred and violence.