Twilight’s End

The United States has been falling into an authoritarian twilight for years now, decades, since Nixon and Kevin Phillips created the Southern Strategy to appeal to white racist southern voters. The election of Trump is not the beginning of the end but it is the end of the beginning of the rise of something terrible and cruel in North America.

I’ve said since the night of the 2016 presidential election that the US died that night, and what we’ve been watching since is the maggots feeding on the corpse. But maggots can only go so far.

Soon, something truly evil will arise in place of what once was the United States. It will carry the same name, but it will look and behave nothing like the America into which I was born.

With the elevation of the highly partisan and screaming-shouting-crying man-baby, Brett Kavanaugh, to the Supreme Court, the right wing now sits poised to gut the Voting Rights Act completely, to uphold voter suppression laws, and to ultimately attack the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This became apparent clear back in 2015 when a GOP pastor, when pressed about an equal rights ordinance in Texas to which she objected because it protected transgender people, also admitted that she believes she has the right to discriminate against Jews, Blacks, anyone, so long as it is “religiously motivated”.

Here is the video of that.  She has to be pressed but finally admits that, yes, discriminating against Jews should be allowed for “sincerely held religious beliefs”. If that doesn’t terrify you, then you’re not thinking clearly or you’re one of those who want to persecute minorities. This is the end game of the “religious freedom” lie – where they carve out “sincerely held religious belief” exemptions to federal laws across the board.

So this is a long running right wing agenda. They tried to vilify gays and failed. But now they have vilified trans people, all trans people, to create a fear based wedge issue to drive ignorant voters to the polls, to give them the power they seek. Their first step will not to be attack protected classes under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Instead, they will attack trans people as the “wedge” issue. Once they win against trans people (and they will win with Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh), that becomes precedent about “religious freedom”.

Next, they will circle back to gays, because gays are not covered either. That will give them the precedent reinforced by a second case. After that, they’ll start coming after protected classes named in law. My bet is the first class will be religion, but they’ll hide that as an attack against Muslims, again, because of “sincerely held religious beliefs”. Kavanaugh and Gorsuch will be the most likely authors of the majority opinion then. They will make spurious claims about America being a “Christian” nation, about the founders “not intending” to protect religions other than Christianity. They will do whatever pretzel logic they need to get that critical break into the 1964 Civil Rights Act wall of protection. That’s why I believe Muslims will be targeted first, because of the fear that right wingers can generate about Muslims.

Once they reach that point, they’ve now created precedent that allows exemptions to the 1964 Civil Rights Act for reasons of “religious freedom”. Further exemptions, against blacks, women, etc. Remember the “Curse of Ham” biblical teachings that were used by white Christian southerners to justify treating people of color as sub-human? That will be dragged out of the cesspool once again and become a “sincerely held religious belief” because the bible says so, right? Likewise with subordinating women, firing women, refusing them access to birth control of any kind, and taking their other rights away as well.

People point to winning the mid-terms as how to stop this. I ask them “How does that work?” They mumble asinine things about “impeachment”. The House can impeach but if the Senate fails to vote to remove, the impeachment has no effect. Removal from office requires 67 Senate votes. Even if Democrats win every single Senate race in 2018, we still only end up with 53 or so senators. Do any of you seriously believe that 14 Republicans will vote to remove Donald Trump? So Trump is staying, at least to 2020, and probably beyond since Republicans will have two years of the Kavanaugh/Gorsuch court to seal the deal on even more voter suppression laws.

But let’s say Democrats get the mother of all wins in 2020. They get the Senate, the House, the Presidency. What then? Every liberal law they pass will immediately get challenged to the right wing Supreme Court. That court will stand on its head, if need be, to void liberal laws. So Democrats won’t be able to do anything effective. And then when Republicans eventually get power back, and they will, they will continue taking us down the path to the nation of Gilead, as described in The Handmaid’s Tale.

You think I jest? Conservatives at CPAC, one of the largest and most important conservative political conferences, now even have white males argues in favor of slavery again. Men argue women should have never been given the right to vote and those are conservative men making that argument. They belittle sexual assault survivors. Here’s conservative darling, William Bennett, telling women who are sexual assault survivors to “be quiet” and “have you no shame?” as he taunts them.

The religious right wing in America has publicly and clearly stated their agenda, many times. Separation of the races, oppression of women because “the bible says so”, the complete recriminalization of  anything about being LGBT, and driving LGBT out of visible sight in society.  Todd Kincannon, former executive director of the South Carolina GOP, said “There are people who respect transgender rights. And there are people who think you should all be put in a camp. That’s me.” NOTE: Kincannon’s Twitter account was suspended over this so you can’t find the original tweets anymore, although they’ve been capture in screenshots and articles. But guess what? Not one single other Republican called this hateful message out! Not one. Not one single Republican. None of them would say that such a thing was hateful and wrong.  You know that many of them are thinking the same thing when none of them have the courage to say that’s terrible and wrong.

So here we are. Twilight has been coming over America for about 50 years now. With each successive Republican administration, more vile and evil things come to pass. The authoritarian Patriot Act? Republicans overwhelmingly support that every time it comes up. Some Democrats do as well but the majority have not. That should give you a sense of who the real authoritarians are. And now we have Trump, thanks to privileged voters who refused to stand against Trump and who get angry when you call them out for their culpability in this ongoing national disaster. Kids in cages, thousands of lies from Trump, sometimes more than a dozen daily, factually wrong, easily refuted lies. LGBT people’s rights are under assault. Women’s rights to control their own bodies are under assault. Voting rights of minority voters are under assault. The environment is under assault. Middle class wages continue to fall as the ultra rich pocket more and more of the nation’s wealth. And all of that is precisely as Republicans intend it to be.

I’m sorry to tell you this, but even if we win in 2018, all we’ve bought is a small bit of time, nothing more. Twilight is almost done. And someday soon, you will wake up and instead of the twilight, you will have to face the thousand year night.

Mass Shootings and Society

The shooter wasn’t mentally ill in Florida. florida-shooting-new-gallery1

He was pure rage, uncontrolled.

His primary rage appears directed at his ex-girlfriend, who dumped him. He jumped her new boyfriend and assaulted him which is how he got expelled.

He also had rage against Jewish people who make up almost half the students in that district, a rage fueled by white supremacist groups that are known to be anti-Semitic.

He was not mentally ill. He was angry, to the point of rage. We need to stop confusing rage with mental illness.

We already recognize unbridled rage as bad. We have religions, many of them, that admonish about controlling one’s temper, about the evils of letting rage and emotion control your actions.

Society already knows this is bad. But in a pseudo-scientific way, to make it try to sound scientific, we want to label something that is not mental illness as mental illness, because we do not want to take responsibility for it!

If it’s mental illness, it’s not society’s (white people’s) fault that young white males do this.

Here’s news for 21st century America – yeah, it IS your fault. Part of this is the outgrowth of 400+ years obsession with warfare, violence, misogyny, conquest, and genocide. Part of this is the outgrowth of a few thousand years of patriarchal male dominated ownership of women as sex objects.

But white supremacist patriarchal society does not want to take responsibility for the fruits of 400+ years of colonialism, patriarchy, genocide, and obsession with conquest and warfare. That is the United States, in a nutshell.

To be responsible for those things means society could change those things, might even need to change those things, but if they can instead blame a factor beyond society’s control, then society doesn’t have to change, does it?

But, by laying the problem at the feet of mental illness, white, male controlled society washes its hands of the problem, and then pretends it can go on being patriarchal, genocidal, misogynistic, and obsessed with conquest and warfare.

If these are the fruits of society’s CHOICES, then society could change and alter those fruits. By pushing it off on mental illness, society is trying to pretend that what happens is no one’s fault.

That is what you are seeing happen around you right now.

It’s Not Really About Bathrooms

In November 2015, many of us in Houston, Texas, feared that we would lose on the recall vote about the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. We did, and we lost massively.

During that campaign, the primary weapon of the religious right was the bathroom predator myth. They had TV ads and everything and blasted that myth across the airwaves. It was not until 2 days before the elections that any local media even began to refute those lies.

As a consequence, we lost that vote bigtime by 61% to repeal the ordinance versus 39% to retain it.

When we lost that vote, within a few days, I made the prediction that the GOP would take the bathroom predator myth nationwide. Why? Because it both helps defeat trans rights and in doing so, it drives ignorant Republican voters to the polls. The bathroom predator myth is, therefore, just a tool to turn out ignorant white straight fundamentalist voters.

This means they are scapegoating trans people as a means to grasp at political power. This was never about women’s safety or bathrooms. This was always about the GOP finding a divisive fear generating wedge issue and then hammering that wedge issue with a sledge hammer til it fractures other coalitions and drives voters into Republican arms.

Republicans see this as a win, because it lets them back down (a little, not all the way) on racism as a fear tactic and instead scapegoat a much smaller population that is unable to defend itself. I’ve even seen Republicans make overtures to black churches about how “bad” trans rights are.

If the SCOTUS ever does rule on this and supports trans civil rights, like the Gavin Grimm case returns to the SCOTUS, you can count on right wingers making “rollback trans rights” into another Supreme Court nominee litmus test just like “rollback abortion rights” is right now.

They will argue they need to pack the court with anti-trans judges to stop this “horror” and “danger” to society. And transgender people will be scapegoated and actively harmed solely to support Republican fear mongering. Trans people will die just so Republicans can use fear mongering to gain political power. And that, my friends, is the real evil here.

America, It’s Time To Have A Chat

The monster you elected is a fascist. You keep claiming that we don’t know what that word means yet almost none of you have bothered to read Mussolini’s own words on the topic.

But let’s go further. Here is how a professional historian, Umberto Eco, who studied Mussolini and Hitler both extensively, described the key traits of fascism back in 1995. (Mr. Eco passed away not so long ago. We are indebted to him for putting this list together.)

  1. The cult of tradition. “One has only to look at the syllabus of every fascist movement to find the major traditionalist thinkers. The Nazi gnosis was nourished by traditionalist, syncretistic, occult elements.”
  2. The rejection of modernism. “The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity. In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism.”
  3. The cult of action for action’s sake. “Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken before, or without, any previous reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation.”
  4. Disagreement is treason. “The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge.”
  5. Fear of difference. “The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.”
  6. Appeal to social frustration. “One of the most typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and frightened by the pressure of lower social groups.”
  7. The obsession with a plot. “The followers must feel besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia.”
  8. The enemy is both strong and weak. “By a continuous shifting of rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak.”
  9. Pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. “For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.”
  10. Contempt for the weak. “Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology.”
  11. Everybody is educated to become a hero. “In Ur-Fascist ideology, heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death.”
  12. Machismo and weaponry. “Machismo implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality.”
  13. Selective populism. “There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.”
  14. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak. “All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning.”

There is another list of 14 points created by Dr. Lawrence Britt. Many of his points match or overlap Mr. Eco’s work as well.

  1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
  2. Disdain for the importance of human rights
  3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
  4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism
  5. Rampant sexism
  6. A controlled mass media
  7. Obsession with national security
  8. Religion and ruling elite tied together
  9. Power of corporations protected
  10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated
  11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts
  12. Obsession with crime and punishment
  13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
  14. Fraudulent elections

Both of these lists match to a high degree with the administration of Donald Trump. When you add in Trump’s obvious Narcissistic Personality Disorder, his inability to distinguish reality from fantasy, his obsessions with his popularity, you gain a clear picture that Trump is a mentally unstable man with fascist tendencies.

Donald Trump is a fascist. Let’s say that again – Donald Trump is a fascist. 

I did not vote for this sad loser. You did. And in Trump’s own words, that makes you “sad”, “weak”.

I did not create what follows here but what it says is true. The only question now is how much longer will you let yourself be conned?

You voted for Trump because Clinton was going to be in Wall Street’s pocket. Trump wants to repeal Dodd-Frank and eliminate the Fiduciary Rule, letting Wall Street return to its pre-2008 ways.

You voted for Trump because of Clinton’s emails. The Trump administration is running its own private email server.

You voted for Trump because you thought the Clinton Foundation was “pay for play.” Trump has refused to wall off his businesses from his administration, and personally profits from payments from foreign governments.

You voted for Trump because of Clinton’s role in Benghazi. Trump ordered the Yemen raid without adequate intel, and tweeted about “FAKE NEWS” while Americans died as a result of his carelessness.

You voted for Trump because Clinton didn’t care about “the little guy.” Trump’s cabinet is full of billionaires, and he took away your health insurance so he could give them a multi-million-dollar tax break.

You voted for Trump because he was going to build a wall and Mexico was going to pay for it. American consumers will pay for the wall via import tariffs.

You voted for Trump because Clinton was going to get us into a war. Trump has provoked our enemies, alienated our allies, and given ISIS a decade’s worth of recruiting material.

You voted for Trump because Clinton didn’t have the stamina to do the job. Trump hung up on the Australian Prime Minister during a 5pm phone call because “it was at the end of a long day and he was tired and fatigue was setting in.”

You voted for Trump because foreign leaders wouldn’t “respect” Clinton. Foreign leaders, both friendly and hostile, are openly mocking Trump.

You voted for Trump because Clinton lies and “he tells it like it is.” Trump and his administration lie with a regularity and brazenness that can only be described as shocking.

Let’s be honest about what really happened.

The reality is that you voted for Trump because you got conned. Trump is a grifter and the American people were the mark. Now that you know the score, quit insisting the con-man is on your side.

It’s time to wake up, America, before you drown in your own self-induced nightmare.


Why Do We Need A Church Anyway?

That thing that we all call the “church” was doomed from its inception. Frail, flawed human beings are going to fail, including in their conception and execution of the church. They are going to place themselves first, their wants, their needs, their narrow interpretations of a boundless deity who created a universe so vast we can barely comprehend the size, let alone all that is within it.

And you know, now that I think about it, Jesus didn’t preach creating churches, planting church seeds, none of that. He didn’t demand confessions or tithes or looking down one’s nose at those less “Christian” than he was.

Instead, he taught his disciples to simply spread the good news. And he said where two or more are gathered in my name was sufficient. It didn’t need a building, an organization, a tax break, an organ, a choir, hymnals… none of that. No megachurch, no TV stations, no fake games by the power mad.

And speaking of those power hungry, where I see those things, I see too often people, very often usually men, who seek nothing but power and dominance over others, as well as fame and fortune. Creflo Dollar, anyone? Pat Robertson? Jim Baker? How many people must these con men fleece before your heart awakens to the truth.

What truth? Jesus never needed those men. Neither do you.

Christianity, as religion, is as much a sham as the Old Testament rules were – rules that God gave Israel not because he wanted to but to show Israel that rules alone are never enough.

Maybe Jesus gave us the church to teach us the same thing – that we need to grow up, look past rules, look past the church, and learn to just love. Maybe it’s time to be the adults that Christ and so many other religious leaders have told us to be, to be kind to one another, to cherish one another, to lift up one another.

Because in far too short a time, we will all return to the stardust from which we came. And all that will be left are memories. If you live a life of rigidity, coldness, cruelty, all in the name of some hellfire breathing thunder god from Mt. Ararat, just what sort of memory will you leave? Not one that people will hold to, or cherish, I can guarantee you that.