Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Steve Bannon Declares Jihad On Infidels

October 18, 2017

Writing for Alternet, Ivy Olesen headlined “I went undercover at a boot camp for young conservatives — here’s what I learned; The Leadership Institute teaches young people how to mobilize for conservative candidates” (10-17-17). Provocative and intriguing! Must read. But Analysis digresses. Equally provocative was a Salon article by Chauncey Devega covering the Values Voter Summit (subject of Analysis previous post) headlined “Birth of a new fascism? Trumpers meet theocrats at right-wing Christian conclave: Roy Moore says “the people of God are rising up,” while Sebastian Gorka hints at a sinister new alliance”. Alabama’s current GOP Senate candidate, Roy Moore, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and (again) former presidential adviser Sebastian Gorka spoke to the assembled faithful after the apprentice president. Devega quotes Moore: “”When you forget God, you can forget politics. When you forget God you forget, just like it says, your heritage, your rights, your freedoms.” “We forget that what they really want to do in this land is remove the knowledge of God. That won’t happen, as far as I can see, because I think the people of God are rising up in this land today. In 2016 we were given a new lease, a new reason, and it’s upon us now. This is not complicated.”” But still a digression. How to get a handle on this? Devega also quotes Gorka: “The left has no idea how much more damage we can do to them as private citizens, as people unfettered.” Damage, to private citizens? Writing for Time (10-15-17) Alana Abramson also covered the Values Voter Summit and headlined: “’This Is Our War.’ Steve Bannon Tears Into GOP Agenda”. She writes of/quotes Bannon addressing the conservative faithful: “”This is not my war, this is our war,” the Breitbart CEO and former chief White House strategist told cheering attendees at the annual convention. “And you all didn’t start it, the establishment started it. I will tell you one thing — you all are gonna finish it.” Noting that the group had a “lot of fights ahead,” Bannon said it was crucial to take on the GOP establishment before effectively turning their energy towards progressives, especially since the current crop of GOP lawmakers do not appreciate President Trump. This disrespect, Bannon said, was evidenced when Senator Bob Corker told the New York Times last week that Republican lawmakers were privately concerned about Trump’s ability to lead the country. Bannon seemed to insinuate that unless Republican lawmakers spoke out against Corker, they would face insurgent primary challenges. Bannon also derided Corker, who he called a “piece of work” for speaking negatively about Trump while soldiers were serving overseas.” In a (9-7-17) 60 Minutes interview with Charlie Rose Bannon says: “They’re going to be held accountable if they do not support the President of the United States. Right now there’s no accountability. … They do not support the President’s program. It’s an open secret on Capitol Hill. Everybody in this city knows it.” Rising up? Damage to private citizens? War!? Disrespect and lack of appreciation for the apprentice president? Support the President’s program? Much has been written and said about the de facto lack of a plan or program with regard the current administration so this is certainly puzzling, cryptic at the least. Perhaps Ivy Olesen can help clarify these double voiced speeches; double voiced in the sense that to some they mean what is on the surface, to others they are coded messaging. Near the end of a very long article Olesen writes: “This is when I realize that what Ivy [Ivy El Zaatari, the Leadership Institute organizer/instructor] means is that Conservatism appeals to people on a level above facts: religion. Conservatives are skipping right over the whole logic bit and get straight to the good stuff. Ivy is hinting around about “philosophy,” because, like she said, “I’m talking about Conservatives, not Republicans. [..] They talk about their Bibles as much as their Constitution.” Sell ‘em a fantasy, and one with a moral, religious backing as well. Ivy has been trying to get it through our heads that the fear of God is how you can get people to vote against their best interests.” Analysis concludes with the obvious — Steve Bannon declares jihad on infidels.

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You Will Not Replace Us

October 15, 2017

Americans and their relationship with God (religion) is kinda like that between parents and teenagers. Americans, qua Americans only on account of their Constitution, know better than others that it was drawn up with emphasis on keeping the two separate, one out of the other. Teenagers, told no by their parents, will eventually act out. Well, ya gotta do it anyway. This past week a major event of this sort took place that literally flew under the media radar in terms of emphasis. Seems whether Ivana is the first lady or Rex Tillerson called his boss a “moron” was more significant than the fact of who spoke to the Values Voter Summit for the third time, this time as apprentice president, and what was said. In 2015 he spoke as a presidential wannabe. 2016 found him speaking as a candidate for president. 2017 found a deliverance speech. The Values Voter Summit is put on directly by the Family Research Council which in turn was spawned by James Dobson, Focus On The Family. “Co-sponsors of the event included other Christian political action groups, such as AFA Action (part of the American Family Association), the Heritage Foundation, Liberty University, Liberty Counsel and Gary Bauer’s organization American Values.” (according to Wiki). Wiki describes the Family Research Council: “FRC promotes what it considers traditional family values, by advocating and lobbying for socially conservative policies. It opposes and lobbies against equal rights for LGBT people (such as same-sex marriage, same-sex civil unions, and LGBT adoption), abortion, divorce, embryonic stem-cell research and pornography.” Controversy surrounds not only the apprentice president when it comes to the terms of the “traditional family values” of the FRC as well as the organization itself being classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group. And yet the apprentice president has deigned to grace the Summit now three times, with little fanfare on his latest appearance. Analysis thought it would be more than pertinent to consider the text of the 2016 speech with that of 2017 (transcripts from Politico and the White House Press Secretary). In both speeches the bible is quoted once, at the start of 2017 and at the end of 2016 (a twist of the theater’s admonition to always leave ‘em laughing – in this case praying!). “Amazing, amazing group. One of the greatest privileges of my journey has been the time I’ve spent with the evangelical community.” at the start of 2016, “It’s great to be back here with so many friends at the 2017 Values Voter Summit, and we know what that means. We know what that means. America is a nation of believers, and together we are strengthened and sustained by the power of prayer.” Overall, 2016 comes across as a stump speech with the primary focus on political agenda, if you only vote for me. This agenda is the one currently being executed, though couched in an ersatz religious perspective for the consuming audience. Many of that time’s news headlines were from this conference (“What have you got to lose?”, being able to say “radical Islamic terrorism,” and the statistically flawed math in terms of job numbers and budget amounts) and some were never picked up on (“or one of our great generals that we have today – General Flynn, who’s here someplace I love General Flynn”). A hefty portion was Hillary bashing with Obama thrashing given equal time. Tribute was paid to Phyllis Schlafly’s early endorsement. “We are all equal, and we all come from the same Creator. If we remember that simple fact, then our future is truly limitless. There is nothing we as Americans can’t do.” and “Our nation today is divided. Nobody likes to say it, but we’re living in a very, very divided nation. It will be our faith in God and his teachings, in each other, that will lead us back to unity.” are the closest things to actual articles of “religious” faith put forward by the then candidate speaker. 2017 the apprentice president gives a deliverance speech, again following the political agenda promised a year earlier but this time self-congratulating what is (in his estimation) their accomplishment. Little of this captured the mainstream media coverage’s imagination (“president of the Virgin Islands,” “We’re saying “Merry Christmas” again.”). Except, this time the speech is slathered with religiosity, referencing the founding fathers (like Washington and Franklin) and being filled with articles of faith and their bearing on the upcoming political challenges. Unlike the media, Analysis finds these relevant and pertinent. “And they [hard working Americans] make sure that the future of their children has God involved in it.  So important to them.” “As long as we have pride in our country, confidence in our future, and faith in our God, then America will prevail.” “We know that it’s the family and the church, not government officials, that know best how to create strong and loving communities. And above all else, we know this: In America, we don’t worship government — we worship God. Inspired by that conviction, we are returning moral clarity to our view of the world and the many grave challenges we face.” “We will defend our faith and protect our traditions.” “We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values.” Analysis finds a Reader’s Digest condensed version would sound a lot like “You will not replace us.”

When Ya Gotta Get Your Fix

July 29, 2017

The latest full week episode of The Apprentice President cannot go unmentioned. Tumultuous would be an understatement. The weekly show began with many platitudes and pronouncements, Boy Scout Jamboree, a mass rally in Youngstown Ohio, a Twit directive on military preparedness, staff melodrama (all shook up) and the eventual demise of Trumpcare, totally elided by the apprentice prez himself (I’m not going to own it). Not part of the show, but part of the ratings, was the recent Gallup Poll indicating current approval/disapproval, nationally as well as by individual states. In Ohio, the disapproval/approval rating is statistically even given any margin of error (48% disapprove, 47% approve of the apprentice prez. The rest are undecided, whatever that means). Analysis reflects on the approval folks, especially their affirmative “Give him a chance”. Chance has been given, and still undying loyalty and promotion followed the Youngstown mass rally (which was well attended). The rally brought out the typical and expected speculation by the various news/media organizations regarding the being of such a phenomenon (unprecedented in that it is officially described as a 2020 re-election event). An oft repeated mantra of news pundits is that when the apprentice president hits a “tipping point” the crowd size will diminish, the disapproval ratings will increase. This mantra is aging fast, being almost 3 years old. The latest variation of this same mantra is the chickens-coming-home-to-roost one. When the factories aren’t back, when the jobs don’t materialize, when health care isn’t available or is unaffordable, etc. then the approval/disapproval equity will shift. This line has been borne out as inaccurate with the disparity between the “undying” mass affection shown the apprentice president in Youngstown, and the abysmal performance chaos of the last 6 months. The conventional wisdom interpretation is that apprentice president fans don’t really care about outcomes and performance. They like the show because they are so fed up with the politics governing America and (as evidenced by the Medicaid recipient electorate of Kentucky) prefer self inflicted damage to being without, a kind of retro “Let it bleed.” Analysis likens this to high school fund raisers where folks pay a buck, don safety glasses, and take a whack at a car with a sledge hammer. Eventually the car becomes inoperable, an expense to dispose of. But heck, it felt so good to destroy it! And it was all perfectly legal and sanctioned (for a good cause, even). Globally, historically this is nothing new. We’ve witnessed it time and again, this destroying, this purging of the status quo (because it feels so good to off them) and the cataclysmic change it spawns. It is infrequent (and unfulfilled) for America where historically this high has been tempered by the sobriety of our constitutional form of government. Americans don’t care for such a self-image. In a sense it can be spoken of as a kind of death wish. Freud referenced it as a death drive. Wiki gives an assessment which supports conventional wisdom’s interpretation of the “undying” loyalty of apprentice president fans – “In a sense, the death drive is a force that is not essential to the life of an organism (unlike an “instinct”) and tends to denature it or make it behave in ways that are sometimes counter-intuitive.” Analysis finds it little wonder that many of the private lives of these selfsame fans are touched and plagued by the unwanted scourge of the opioid addiction epidemic. It likewise could be described as “a force that is not essential to the life of an organism (unlike an “instinct”) and tends to denature it or make it behave in ways that are sometimes counter-intuitive.”

Know Justice, Know Peace

July 13, 2017

The media news footage includes cell phone/dash cam/body cam video of a man being shot dead by a policeman. Later, the policeman is exonerated, has done no wrong. Repeat ad nauseam. Closer to home the video shows protesting people targeted by city police and taunted as they are pepper sprayed. Following orders. Repeat again ad nauseum. Both here at home and elsewhere there is video of people complying, or already subdued being punched in the stomach or kicked in the head by uniformed officers. Doing their duty. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. No video available of the nation’s top law enforcement official addressing an SPLC designated “hate group” for an “off-camera, closed-door speech” (NBC News, Jeff Sessions Criticized for Speaking to ‘Hate Group’, Mary Emily O’Hara, 7-13-17) “As announced on his public schedule, Sessions addressed a crowd at the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Summit on Religious Liberty in Orange County, California.” “Founded in 1994, the Alliance Defending Freedom was a coalition effort between conservative Christian leaders aiming to preserve traditional social norms, restrict access to abortion and fight the “homosexual agenda.”” “But with millions in its war chest, ADF does more than just litigate: The firm wrote model legislation called the Student Physical Privacy Act that built a foundation for dozens of proposals and policies around the country that are frequently referred to as “bathroom bills.” ADF’s model legislation, and the national trend that stems from it, is aimed at keeping transgender people out of restrooms and other private facilities that correspond to their gender identity and presentation.” The dominant news dwarfing all these repeated daily occurrences is “that Russia thing,” disparaged as so much “fake news” by the apprentice president. His son now flaunts the family’s otherwise undisclosed interaction with Russian representatives prior to the official GOP nomination of his dad as their presidential candidate. How is this possible? Responsible news media continuously supplies contextual background reporting for an “in depth” understanding of headline news. Today, USA Today gives “In Trump country, Russia doesn’t resonate” from Tennessee. On 7-11-17 PBS Newshour ran a segment “Deep in coal country, West Virginia residents speak out about GOP healthcare bill.” Closer to home, writing for Reuters, Tim Reid headlines “In Trump’s Ohio bastion, supporters dismiss uproar over Donald Jr.” (7-12-17) With regard to the GOP engineered demise of Medicaid PBS shows a dismayed Rebecca Hicks, a patient at Williamson Health & Wellness Center from Chattaroy, West Virginia, earnestly confessing “I chose those people. I put my faith in those people that they would make this place better, not take away the only things that were helping this area.” Tim Reid reports: “In Hillsboro, the county seat of Highland County, the editor of the Hillsboro Times Gazette, Gary Abernathy, says many people in the county believe the media is trying to destroy Trump. “It just plays into the belief here that the media is fixated on all things Russia,” said Abernathy, whose newspaper was one of only six in the United States to have endorsed Trump for president during the election campaign. “I don’t mind Donald Trump being treated critically or aggressively, but not in a way that is an effort to drag him down. Donald Trump Jr. had one 20 minute meeting with a lawyer from Russia and it’s wall-to-wall coverage.” Analysis finds it extraordinary and quite revealing that the responsible media expends such an effort on the actual news of the media being designated as “fake news” and disparaged as unreliable while the substance of this news, that without reporting events become of no concern, is missed entirely by those it is meant to inform. It seems like an odd twist on the former president’s admonition to “go and talk” with those who don’t agree with you. Reid ends his road trip report with “In the Bob Evans diner in Jackson, three workers from Walmart were sitting down for lunch. They were Trump supporters. Asked about the Russia investigation, they stared back blankly. “I have never heard anything about it,” said Chastity Banks. Neither had her two colleagues.” Repeat ad nauseam nationwide. Given this unique situation, Analysis can’t help but conclude that Junior and “that Russia thing” will go the same route as police violence, shootings, and the dictates (in word as well as deed) of America’s top law enforcement officer.

More Hannah Arendt

June 22, 2017

Although Hannah Arendt writes about events from 70 to 200 years ago in The Origins Of Totalitarianism (1951, 1958, 1966), something of today jumps out with almost every page. Contemporary political savants argue endlessly over how the party system is faring, who is winning/losing, why, and what the results of this spell out for the American people (as well as people of the world). In a paragraph referencing utilitarianism and governance (pg 347) she ends with:  ““Scientism” in politics still presupposes that human welfare is its object, a concept which is utterly alien to totalitarianism.” She footnotes this with: “William Ebenstein, The Nazi State, New York, 1943, in discussing the “Permanent War Economy” of the Nazi state is almost the only critic who has realized that “the endless discussion . . . as to the socialist or capitalist nature of the German economy under the Nazi regime is largely artificial . . . [because it] tends to overlook the vital fact that capitalism and socialism are categories which relate to Western welfare economics” (p.239)” She begins the next paragraph with: “It is precisely because the utilitarian core of ideologies was taken for granted that the anti-utilitarian behavior of totalitarian governments, their complete indifference to mass interest, has been such a shock.” On page 350 she writes “Totalitarian movements use socialism and racism by emptying them of their utilitarian content, the interest of a class or nation. The form of infallible prediction in which these concepts were presented has become more important than their content. The chief qualification of a mass leader has become unending infallibility; he can never admit an error.” She elaborates this. On page 350 she writes “Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such.” Which she footnotes with “Konrad Heiden, Der Fuehrer: Hitler’s Rise to Power, Boston, 1944, underlines Hitler’s “phenomenal untruthfulness,” “the lack of demonstrable reality in nearly all his utterances,” his “indifference to facts which he does not regard as vitally important” (pp. 368, 374). –In almost identical terms, Khrushchev describes “Stalin’s reluctance to consider life’s realities” and his indifference to “the real state of affairs,” op. cit. Stalin’s opinion of the importance of facts is best expressed in his periodic revisions of Russian history.” She concludes this small foray into utilitarianism and objective interests in “traditional” Western forms of governance and what she believes occurs with totalitarian forms: “For masses, in contrast to classes, want victory and success as such, in their most abstract form; they are not bound together by those special collective interests which they feel to be essential to their survival as a group and which they therefore may assert even in the face of overwhelming odds. More important to them than the cause that may be victorious, or the particular enterprise that may be a success, is the victory of no matter what cause, and success in no matter what enterprise.” Tonight’s nightly national news covered the crowds lining up overnight for the apprentice president’s Iowa rally, very much like they used to do outside stores for Black Friday Sales. The camera panned to a little girl who yelled out “Build a wall!” No matter that at the recent (6-14-17) Columbus Metropolitan Club Forum Dr. Jim Johnson, in his talk on the Browning and Greying of America and its impact on business and the economy, carefully pointed out that the median age for whites is early forties, for immigrants and people of color upper twenties and early thirties. Who will help populate the workforce and consumer economy of tomorrow? No matter that the GAO, as well as others, describe self inflicted damage from much social legislation and executive action. (to paraphrase Arendt’s pg. 350 quote from the Nazi Primer “We shape the life of our people and our legislation according to the verdicts of economics” [original “genetics”]). No matter that “the jobs are never coming back,” and that the coal mining museum in Kentucky has solar panels on its roof. “More important . . . is the victory of no matter what cause, and success in no matter what enterprise.”

Analysis Goes Way Back In The Way Back Machine

June 18, 2017

“Totalitarian movements are possible wherever there are masses who for one reason or another have acquired the appetite for political organization. Masses are not held together by a consciousness of common interest and they lack that specific class articulateness which is expressed in determined, limited, and obtainable goals. The term masses applies only where we deal with people who either because of sheer numbers, or indifference, or a combination of both, cannot be integrated into any organization based on common interest, into political parties or municipal governments or professional organizations or trade unions. Potentially, they exist in every country and form the majority of those large numbers of neutral, politically indifferent people who never join a party and hardly ever go to the polls.

It was characteristic of the rise of the Nazi movement in Germany and of the Communist movements in Europe after 1930 that they recruited their members from this mass of apparently indifferent people whom all other parties had given up as too apathetic or too stupid for their attention. The result was that the majority of their membership consisted of people who never before had appeared on the political scene. This permitted the introduction of entirely new methods into political propaganda, and indifference to the arguments of political opponents; these movements not only placed themselves outside and against the party system as a whole, they found a membership that had never been reached, never been “spoiled” by the party system. Therefore they did not need to refute opposing arguments and consistently preferred methods which ended in death rather than persuasion, which spelled terror rather than conviction. They presented disagreements as invariably originating in deep natural, social, or psychological sources beyond the control of the individual and therefore beyond the power of reason. This would have been a shortcoming only if they had sincerely entered into competition with other parties; it was not if they were sure of dealing with people who had reason to be equally hostile to all parties.”

pg.311-312, The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, 1951

Fundraisers

June 5, 2017

Mention the name Kirkersville today around central Ohio and the response is similar to the mention of other names in other parts of the country, like Waco, Orlando, or Virginia Tech. For readers unfamiliar with Kirkersville, an individual with a history of violence related offenses (and incarceration) shot and killed two unrelated women co workers of a nursing home as well as the village police chief. The shooter was likewise shot and killed in the calamity. A search of  the perpetrator’s home in Utica turned up a veritable arsenal of firearms and ammunition. The tragedy that unfolded in Kirkersville has been reported, updated, re-reported and analyzed, all in hopes that “it will never happen again.” Laws are being “introduced” to facilitate this. This past weekend, in addition to more post-event investigative reporting, the Newark Advocate dedicated another Sunday editorial to Kirkersville. Newark News Analysis dares to call attention to a regular daily Advocate feature from June 2, 2017 (prior to the editorial but after the tragedy in Kirkersville). The Local News Briefs calls attention to local events, announcements, news items that are published in the public interest. The following appeared on the same day, sharing the same column space, separated only by two sundry announcements (a street closing and a summer reading series):

Chipotle having Kirkersville shooting fundraiser

NEWARK – A benefit day for the families of the three victims of the Kirkersville nursing home shooting will be Tuedsay, June 6, at the Chipotle Restaurants in Heath, Newark, Reynoldsburg and Blacklick.

Customers who tell the cashier they are supporting the fundraiser will have 50 percent of their purchase divided between the families of Eric DiSario, Marlina Medrano and Cindy Krantz.

Gun raffle supports Utica K-9 Unit

UTICA – A gun raffle and fundraiser to support the Utica Police Department K-9 Unit will have a drawing at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Utica Fire Department.

First prize is a SAI Saint Tactical AR-15, second prize is a RFM-870 Combo, third prize is a Ruger American 9mm and fourth prize is a Glock 26 CGW. Other door prizes will also be given.

Tickets are $10 and are available at the police department and Utica Mill and Hardware Store.

 

Newark News Analysis finds the Newark Advocate’s de facto editorial stance to be no stance at all. Cosmetic tweaks are demanded while the status quo remains unchallenged. Who does the Advocate advocate for?

El SID And The Poppies

June 1, 2017

The current imbroglio obsessing Newark’s City Council is the future of marijuana in Nerk (whatever became of affordable housing? public transportation? drug addiction rehabilitation? Let alone street paving?). After dissing the local voters’ initiative to “decriminalize” its possession, the council now must wrestle with what to do with a medical legalization of this substance by the legislature (meant, at the time, to stave off a statewide citizen’s initiative). Having hemmed and hawed as long as they could, the good folks in the state’s executive branch need to finally implement the medical marijuana legalization. Ditto for Newark’s City administration. Analysis has already posted about the head slapping irony of citizens wanting something, voting for it (going through the democratic process of self governance) only to find their elected officials deciding something else is in the constituents’ best interest (another episode of Father Knows Best). Stealthily lurking behind all this is the gentrification of downtown Newark. This ongoing epic saga has unfolded over the past 10 years with nary a citizen vote. Conservative blame was needed as “conservative” by definition means “disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc. or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change” (none of which are found with roundabouts or a covered, block long outdoor entertainment loading dock). That nasty old federal EPA fit the bill marvelously, serving as a catalyst for all this “Federally mandated” change (kinda like “America First” being “printed in China”). So downtown Newark was, by hook or crook, going to be changed, gentrified. No one would vote on it. Everyone (who didn’t get to vote) would pay for it. The latest is the SID (Special Improvement District). This is a plan or rather, a gentrification technique whereby “property owners would pay 7.5 percent of the tax rate applied to the 2016 real property taxable value, providing the district about $110,000 annually. The assessment would first appear on their 2018 property tax bill. The tax would last five years, but could be renewed for an additional five years.” “Property owners must petition city council to create the district. The petition must be signed by the owners of 60 percent of the frontage feet along public rights of way in the district, or 75 percent of the square footage of real property in the district.” (Downtown property owners asked to join new taxing district, The Newark Advocate, Kent Mallett , 5-22-17) “The goal is to use property tax assessments from those within the district to pay for services such as parking maintenance, safety and security, litter control, graffiti removal, visitor ambassadors, special projects and marketing.” One of this blog’s first entries was in March of 2013, Ownership Of Downtown Newark. That research covered the area of this Newark SID. It revealed that close to 24% of the “property owners” within the area were either government entities or religious ones (neither of which would be assessed). At that time Park National Bank owned nearly 10% of all this area property (banks in total about 13%). Which leaves less than two thirds of the property owners to pay the SID. Why is a SID an integral part of gentrification? To increase property values (for the non voting property owners of the district – in 2013 Analysis also found that of the remaining not government, religious, or bank property owners, few were individually named, most were corporate legal entities) rents need to be higher across the board (like the neglected house on the block determining neighborhood value). A SID does specifically that. As a tax, it increases the property owner’s costs which in turn increases the operating expense for any business located there. Marginally profitable businesses will exit as they did prior to the large scale construction of downtown several years ago. Ditto for any other renters (i.e. residential tenants). Upscale enterprises (with capital backing) move in and, Voila! The SID has functioned perfectly as planned. In the meantime Newark’s City Council will wrestle with the tsunami of legalized marijuana while this disenfranchised mandate will pass like shit through a duck.

Why I Would Prefer Not To (Talk To My Brother)

May 25, 2017

Guns and butter, part of the political choice. Butter comes from the milk of a cow which grazes on the earth. Guns originate with metallic ore, part of the composition of the very same earth that nourishes the cow. Both are a product of human ingenuity and skill, labor and work. Guns and religion, part of today’s American politic. Unlike guns or butter, religion is never considered a “product” of human ingenuity and skill, labor and work. Religion, by definition, is not of this earth though found extensively upon it, and only within the social make up of its human inhabitants. Many human-like behaviors, social or individual, are “found” with other creatures populating the earth. Religion has yet to be identified as one of them. Religion is not attributed to ants, ospreys, whales or the great apes. Today, the American politic swirls around loyalty and fidelity. Religion without these is not. Religion, not being of the earth, begs a different origin. The Judeo/Christian creation myth charges humans with dominion over the earth. It likewise requires fidelity and loyalty by doing what you are told. This link of loyalty and fidelity with “to do what you are told” runs deep within Western social evolution. It is fundamental to law, military organization and government institutions – the stuff of politics. It is not integral to the free market though capitalism is lost without it – the stuff of violence. Religion placates the disparity. For those who have done what they are told, loyalty bestows the social self esteem that bonds a brotherhood. Semper fi. In this all, the gun is very telling. Within the cliché of “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is the creation origin account that humans have been given dominion over the earth along with the onus “to do what you are told.” The implication of human ingenuity and skill, labor and work having some say has no cotton with this religious perspective. Guns and religion differ fundamentally from guns and butter in that they are not the same. Guns and butter are products of human interaction with the earth. Guns and religion compliment each other, make demands on each other, excuse each other. Religion sanctions the human to differentiate the gun from any intent. Since it is of the earth over which humans maintain dominion, the gun is unintentional. Only humans are held responsible to do what you are told. And killing is telling some being to die. Along with cows, the gun is part of the dominion humans have been given over the earth, as it (the gun) is of the earth. The gun is simultaneously exceptional in that it enables dominion over the earth. Religion privileges its use by providing an alibi, an excuse. “To do what you are told” is just such an alibi. Loyalty becomes sacrosanct within this brotherhood of the gun. “To do what you are told” now has become a, if not the, political choice. To which Herman Melville’s Bartleby responds “I would prefer not to.” What other response is there when politics has become guns and religion?

Move Over Golden Calf, There Is A New American Idol

May 11, 2017

The other morning, as part of the ongoing reality TV show called Our Government, an interviewed Texas congressman justified the apprentice president’s firing of the FBI director by saying James Comey was getting too much face time on TV. As FBI director he shouldn’t be so popular. News broadcasters, who make up the interviewers, often attribute the apprentice president’s electability to popularity, on being a populist. Recently Ohio’s Secretary of State and newest Ohio Governor wannabe spoke in Newark on Monday the 8th (Husted addresses Newark GOP on Ohio governor’s race, Newark Advocate’s Sydney Murray, 5-10-17). Covering the speech Mr. Murray writes: “But before he entered a life of public service, he was adopted as a baby and grew up in a working class family in the small town of Montpelier, Ohio. At one point, Husted said his dad lost his job and they had to leave Ohio, something he doesn’t want for anyone else’s family. “I want to help Ohio. And more importantly the people, with a bright future, and no matter how you grew up, I wanna make sure that Ohio is a place where you can live the American Dream.” Husted said.” On 5-7-17, writing for McClatchy, Julie Carr Smyth headlines “Ohio elections chief Jon Husted joins 2018 race for governor”. Ms. Carr Smyth reports “Capitalizing on divisive remarks that came back to haunt high profile Democrats, the Republican says Barack Obama was right when he said midwesterners cling to religion and guns and that Husted’s family “would firmly fit in Hillary Clinton’s ‘basket of deplorables.’” Clinton used the reference in her presidential campaign against Donald Trump, whom Husted voted for.” Analysis of these short bits of insight shows that in addition to voting Jon Husted intends to emulate the apprentice president’s formula for success. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery! And like the apprentice president’s penchant for exaggeration and hyperbole, he likewise intends to outdo the current governor’s formula (being a mail man’s son from McKeesport Pa. aw shucks and all). Analysis finds this all creates a new form of reality show government, where the contestants for public office will each try to out populist the other. This revival of the American Idol campaign for popular support will leave the discerning electorate aghast at the derogatory costuming of contestants, the various made-up sets masquerading as the current conditions of the state of Ohio, capped by each idol’s uplifting songs of redemption for a future state-wide resurrection. “no matter how you grew up [with or without guns and religion], I wanna make sure that Ohio is a place where you can live the American Dream.” Amen.