The Bible offers some fascinating insights about how laws should be implemented and enforced in this world. Given the passage of strict abortion laws just passed along in Texas and forgiven by the Supreme Court of the United States, it is helpful to look at how these new laws work, and why they are so ardently anti-biblical by nature.
Suits and vigilante justice
As a starting point to examine these issues, the new Texas anti-abortion laws are typical in that they won’t be enforced in traditional fashion. The police aren’t going to go out and round up abortion providers or medical clinic leaders. Instead, they place the power to report and enforce the law in the hands of everyday citizens. This brand of vigilante justice is unique in many respects because the Texas law opens the door for people to sue anyone who performs abortions or even “abets” the choice of a woman to pursue or receive and abortion.
To examine the verity of this brand of justice, it helps to look at a passage from the Book of John, in which Jesus deals with a street confrontation where a group of citizens drags a woman accused of adultery before him to see how he would handle her punishment.
8 Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
The prescribed punishment for women accused of adultery in those days was death. Yet Jesus did not view the the woman’s accusers or the “teachers of the law” as the ultimate authority or judge of her sins. He decried their tactics.
In his actions, Jesus also challenged the legitimacy of religious rules as a whole. He was tired of watching the religious authorities of that era control and manipulate people through tradition while refusing to minister to the needy or sick that needed God’s mercy the most. He’d be just as sickened by the way that religious authorities and their political allies operate while imposing theocracy on society today.
It is highly likely that Jesus would tell the people passing laws in Texas that their vigilante laws and actions are wrong. He would admonish them, “If you must depend on the law to implement the kingdom of God, you have already failed.”
Jesus would counsel the people of Texas and the rest of the world that it is compassion they should offer women seeking abortions. The real moral argument is not about why women are seeking abortions services, but how all of us can help prevent unwanted conceptions or pregnancies. It is interesting to consider that the real sinners in the Bible story above are the men walking away without a response about their own sins. For all we know, many of them might have been adulterers themselves. The same goes for abortions. Every seeking to end a pregnancy was placed in that position by a man either willingly or irresponsibly impregnating her. It is highly likely that Jesus would turn the question of pregnancy around to indict men too selfish to take responsibility for their own actions.
Jesus also perhaps recognized the dangers in how men in that era viewed women as their property. The patriarchal society in those days pinned women with all kinds of “unclean” labels, such as being ostractized just for menstruating, a totally normal bodily function. Fear and lack of understanding about women’s bodily functions are still a problem to this day. Until recently, many aspects of medicine including pharmaceuticals were based on men’s anatomy.
The twisted morality of men making laws about women’s bodies has persisted for two thousand years. But it is not godliness that drives their motivations. It is instead acting like God that Jesus most despised. “Let he that is without sin cast the first stone,” should be the operative morality applied to the Texas laws on abortion. The Supreme Court has several members claiming “conservative” values, mostly based on the brand of so-called Christian morality that pre-emptively condemns women seeking an abortion just as vigilantes in the street once condemned the woman “accused” of adultery. Even Chief Justice John Roberts provided a dissent against the six essentially corrupt judges engaging in judicial activism by allowing fifty years of established law (Roe vs. Wade) to be overturned in a single swipe by a batch of moral zealots acting without concern for the lives of women they are impacting.
Jesus would call out their vicious hypocrisy, especially those on the Supreme Court whose past behavior demonstrates a willing sinfulness. Yet even those with seemingly less to hide should be ashamed of hiding behind the veil of “constitutionality” in upholding the Texas abortion “laws” that are nothing more than permission for bands of aggressive snitches to persecute the women who most need compassion and support in this world.
The United States of America is famous for its protection of freedoms under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which provides more specificity than the original document.
Interpreting the freedoms spelled out in the Bill of Rights requires a bit more nuance than some people like to admit. Yet rather than admit they might be overzealous in claiming certain types of freedom for their own purposes, a host of Americans has turned the Constitution into a comfort blanket for selfish notions of what freedom is all about.
For example, the call to wear masks in public places as protection against the Covid-19 Coronavirus is in some quarters deemed a rights infringement by people claiming that their personal freedoms are denied in being asked or mandated to wear a piece of protective fabric over their faces.
The same disenfranchised crowd tends to deny the safety and value of vaccinations available to quell the spread and danger of the often-deadly Coronavirus now threatening to overwhelm health systems in an entirely new wave of the pandemic.
What do we owe the unmasked and unvaccinated, the disenfranchised and determined when their behavior endangers us all?
Some claim that it is wrong to shame or guilt those unwilling to wear a mask or get a vaccination. A Christian spokesperson Daniel Darling on the MSNBC Joe Scarborough show spoke in favor of getting vaccinated, yet went to great lengths telling viewers not to call or brand the unvaccinated “idiots” or any other derogatory term because it is counterproductive.
We’re all familiar with the long list of reasons why people refuse to get vaccinated. So-called “vaccine hesitancy” involves cultural, political, religious and individual beliefs about the safety and reliability of vaccines. The trouble with all these objections is that they avoid the central issue behind vaccine development: to protect human health and save lives.
Thus the unvaccinated, despite all their reasons and objections, remain a threat in societies where progress against the Covid-19 virus stalled because people were too fearful, stubborn, uninformed or aggressively misinformed about vaccines to protect themselves and others.
As grownups, most people develop a sense of perspective and propriety about right and wrong and its impact on personal freedoms. Even if we don’t like or agree with certain laws such as regulations on driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, responsible people respect those laws because they know that statistics clearly show the dangers of impaired driving.
That doesn’t stop some people from driving while drunk, and people die in drunk driving accidents every year. In particular, it is tragic when people too young to know the dangers of impaired driving crash and kill themselves and others. Their childish lack of judgment is further impaired by the power of drugs and alcohol to cause risk-taking behavior.
Kids often don’t like to be told what to do or how to act. They tend to complain about everything from curfews to allowances, dating practices to keeping grades up. We know that even young adults behave in childish ways until they make mistakes that actually cost them a few freedoms or create other consequences.
What we’re witnessing in America right now is a massively childish and immature instinct to claim freedoms and make mistakes that really do have fatal consequences. The unmasked and unvaccinated like to claim that they are taking responsibility for their own lives and actions, but in actuality they are not. These groups of people feed upon the meme-driven defiance of their equally childish peers, cheerleading their “cause” as some kind of superior insight about the science and safety of vaccines. In so doing, they threaten to disenfranchise the rest of us by putting public safety at risk, causing Covid lockdowns and economic pain, and forcing their behavior on the world just like a child that refuses to be disciplined in anything they do.
That raises the question as to whether the unmasked, the unvaccinated and the self-proclaimed disenfranchised are owed any respect, or does the world have the right and even the responsibility toe publicly shame them into appropriate behavior.
People addicted to certain toxic substances or habits sometimes require an intervention to wrest them out of destructive cycles. Of course they often resist, even violently, for being held accountable to the people they’ve harmed and the relationships they’ve destroyed. Much of the cultural impetus for the unmasked, unvaccinated and self-proclaimed disenfranchised is fueled by politicians who seek to gain from toxic populism because it fuels their own ambitions. These same influencers need to be subjected to public intervention as well.
That takes place at the the voting booth, and we’ve seen the outcome of America’s intervention with an out-of-control President who urged the unmasked to behave like children and seems to relish the stubborn nature of the unvaccinated because so many of them view him as a model of counterculture resistance. He appeals to the disenfranchised even as he continues to the behave childishly in denying the outcome of the election that rendered him a loser, the title he most hates to accept.
Do we owe respect to that brand of behavior? The lies? The denial. The mockery of science and the medical specialists working to save lives and get America back on a good path again?
No. What we owe the unmasked, the unvaccinated and the self-proclaimed disenfranchised is a headstrong, tough love intervention in which their childishness is called to account and revealed for what it is. A toxic addiction to selfish immaturity, willing ignorance and cognitive dissonance.
Any self-respecting person should recognize the truth in that.
What now seems like ancient history, the 2000 United States Presidential election was far closer than most of us probably recall. The website 270 to win shares this succinct summary of what transpired in the wake of Bill Clinton’s two terms:
“The United States presidential election of 2000 was a contest between Republican candidate George W. Bush, then-governor of Texas and son of former president George H. W. Bush (1989–1993), and Democratic candidate Al Gore, then-Vice President.
Bill Clinton, the incumbent President, was vacating the position after serving the maximum two terms allowed by the Twenty-second Amendment. Bush narrowly won the November 7 election, with 271 electoral votes to Gore’s 266 (with one elector abstaining in the official tally).”
The election was skewed by several factors, including the distraction of Ralph Nader running for President. The nearly 3M votes he received undoubtedly stoles votes from Gore’s side of the ledger, potentially handing Gore the victory had Nader not stubbornly stuck to his efforts.
What most might recall is the long delay in vote-counting that came down to a Florida decision that handed the election to Bush and Cheney.
2000 Election Facts
Outcome of race unknown for several weeks due to dispute over close vote totals in Florida
Green Party candidate Ralph Nader received 2,882,728 votes, but no Electoral Votes
Gore won DC; however one elector did not cast a vote
One of only 5 elections (1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, 2016) where the popular vote winner was defeated
Issues of the Day: Impeachment, Presidential ethics, Good economy
To make matters worse, the controversies over recounts and the narrow margin of 537 distinguishable votes was thrown first to the Florida Supreme Court and then the United States Supreme court, where five justices nominated by Republican Presidents Reagan, Bush and Nixon all voted to install Bush as President of the United States.
Then the Shit Show began.
First, Bush and Cheney triumphantly ignored credible warnings about the 9/11 attacks handed over from President Clinton and Richard Clarke. We all know what happened then. Terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. The world watched in horror and fear, but the first thing the Bush clan did was fly bin Laden family members out of the country. As reported on CBS News, “Two dozen members of Osama bin Laden’s family were urgently evacuated from the United States in the first days following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, according to the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
One of bin Laden’s brothers frantically called the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington looking for protection, Prince Bandar bin Sultan told The New York Times. The brother was sent to a room in the Watergate Hotel and was told not to open the door.
Most of bin Laden’s relatives were attending high school and college. The young members of the bin Laden family were driven or flown under FBI supervision to a secret place in Texas and then to Washington, The Times reported Sunday.”
Bush and Cheney did the big power play of attacking Afghanistan to get at the vigilante member of the bin Laden family. They failed. Then Bush admitted, “I am not that concerned about him” In fact, bin Laden escaped into Pakistan to hide out for another decade or more before being hunted down and killed during the Obama administration.
All the while, American forces rooted around in Afghanistan trying to quell the influence of the Taliban, who were essentially blamed for the 9/11 attacks when actually, it was just one rich hermit and a band of willing mercenaries that carried out the dirty work of killing thousands of Americans on a bright fall day in New York City on 9/11.
Lying all along
So the Bush-Cheney regime never had the story right or a plan in place to exit Afghanistan if nothing was being accomplished. The Taliban might have been chased into the hills, but did not disappear. When American killed one Taliban leader another one simply slipped into place. As all this warlike activity transpired, warlords sucked up skidloads of American dollars while our troops tried not to get killed. Thousands did. Tens of thousands more were wounded. And still we stayed.
That was not even the worst part of life after Gore lost to Bush. Because one of the pet projects of the illegitimate President was to attempt a Middle East takeover with an invasion of Iraq. The United States attacked that nation based on falsified information about weapons of mass destruction of which international inspection teams found no evidence. Even General Colin Powell got sucked into the Post-9/11 fray and lied to us all about what was really going on in Iraq.
Which was awful, but still no reason to invade that nation on claims that it had anything to do with 9/11 or that Iraq posed any terrorist threat to the United States. Yet still we attacked. Saddam Hussein was captured, tried and sentenced to death. But all that America could find to do in the wake of that murderer’s death was to round people up and torture them in the same prisons used by Hussein to persecute his own countrymen.
The Iraq War Crimes Adventure also welcomed mercenary forces from guns-for-hire companies such as Blackwater and Halliburton, both of which reportedly direspected American troops and committed war crimes of their own on occasion.
The Brookings Institute reported: “But there were two problems: Despite its mission of guarding U.S. officials in Iraq, Blackwater had no license with the Iraqi government. Secondly, the murky legal status of the contractors meant they might be considered exempt from Iraqi law because of a mandate left over from the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S. governing authority in Iraq that was dissolved more than two years prior.”
The relative lawlessness that led to billions of dollars wasted in military expenditures, torture and war crimes in Iraq seemed not to bother the Bush regime. It was our soldiers that paid for this folly with their health and their lives. Men like Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld famously dismissed our military’s lack of preparation for the Iraq venture by stating, ““You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.”
Such was the unapologetic approach of Bush and Cheney to everything they encountered. As America squandered trillions in its treasure on extended, fruitless wars, the world’s climate was busy heating up due to global warming. The Republican control of the Oval Office, Senate, Congress and the Supreme Court ensured that no legislation would pass to help counter the rolling effects of carbon dioxide polluting the atmosphere. Al Gore published a book warning that America had better look out for its true enemy, which was climate change, but conservatives mocked him as pedantic and hypocritical.
Now the government in Afghanistan has collapsed and the Taliban rushed across the nation taking over provincial capitols and finally, the national government in Kabul gave up and ran off. None of the Afghani troops “trained” by American forces over the last two decades put up any resistance. The entire Bush-Cheney debacle collapsed before the world’s eyes. Meanwhile, climate change is burning up the world with July 2021 registering as the hottest month in all recorded history.
It would have been so much different had Al Gore not been blocked from serving as President of the United States. He won the popular vote. In all likelihood, he even won the Electoral College vote if politics had not been played in the queasy state of Florida.
We could have avoided 9/11. Most certainly, the former VP is a prudent man who understood the threat of terrorism in real time, not as some abstract distraction to be avoided by the likes of Bush and Cheney. America might well have taken steps to ward off climate change as well. At least we’d have a start of some sort.
Lies and racism
Instead, we were forced to suffer through eight years of blatant lies and ractist attacks against President Obama, who also happened to rescue the nation from the collapsed economy wrought by the many abuses wrought upon it during the Bush years, when the price of health insurance alone climbed by 96%. When Obama pushed for the Affordable Health Care act, Republicans attacked the concept as unconstitutional and socialist. But much like Al Gore, Obama had American’s long-term interests in mind.
Trump was nothing more than a feckless version of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, combined. He exhibits the same bumbling inability to communicate effectively, instead engaging in a “downtalking” approach soaked in the ideology of victimhood. He pats his supporters on the head with patriarchal cynicism and glee, also welcoming the adoring affections of hypocritical evangelical supporters eager to trade their religious ethics for access to power.
Trump devastated the country with hapless tariffs, greedy tax cuts and rampant golfing excursions that cost the country hundreds times more than the meager $360K (or whatever) salary comes with the office. Where Obama was serious, considerate and collaborative, Trump was specious, angry, and bullying.
That approach appealed to his deplorable political base, which included openly racist populists and whorishly sycophantic political operatives within his administration that to this day claim that a legitimate election was stolen through some outlandish method for which there is zero evidence. That led to a massive insurrection in which the core of governance in the United States of America was under attack by a fascist mob urged on (and gleefully witnessed) by Trump and his minions.
But then, there was zero real evidence for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There was zero evidence that Rush Limbaugh was ever honest or right about anything in his life. There was zero evidence that torture was necessary or desirable in Iraq. Zero evidence that Guantanamo was a good way to hold supposed terrorists when many were simply people caught up in the military horrors executed upon Iraq and Afghanistan.
There is zero evidence that anything the Republican Party has done the last twenty to forty years has benefited the United States of America in any way. There is less than zero evidence that the party proper has any intention of admitting to its incompetence, cruelty, or the many criminal indictments and convictions of its political representatives during the Reagan, Bush II or Trump administrations.
Yes, this country and the whole world could–and should–have been much different if Al Gore had become President. Instead, we’re left with a nation torn apart by domestic terrorists, gun proliferation, racism on the rise, and attacks on the Capitol by lawless vigilantes acting on the urges of a twice-impeached ex-President who lied so often in office that the entire world was gaslighted by his dangerously narcissistic psyche.
His toxic brand of rule led to more than 600,000 Americans dying from Covid-19 infection in a country where it was perfectly possible to prevent such tragic loss of life. But Trump lied to the nation about the threat, obscured its potential contagiousness, and mocked those wearing masks to prevent its spread. Even to this moment in time, his ardently deluded supporters refuse to wear masks and are contracting the Delta variant and dying in the hospital while begging to be vaccinated.
But it’s too late, in most of those case. It’s almost too late to recognize the pandemic that is Republican policy and the anti-government plague it has wrought on the country. As President Joe Biden noted, we have a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” That symbolizes the delusional nature of gaslighting tactics dating all the way back to President Ronald Reagan and his anti-American claim that government must be shrunk down to nothing in order to serve the people better. He was a liar just like the Bushes and the Cheney’s and the Trumps. The McConnells and the McCarthys are just as bad, along with the Fox News and Tucker Carlson crowd. It’s sickening.
None of this would have happened if Al Gore had become President. None of it.
The Chicago Tribune carried a news story about the death at age 90 of G. Gordon Liddy, the well-known mastermind of the Watergate burglary that led to scandal and the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon.
Liddy said of his actions, “I’m proud of the fact that I am the guy who did not talk.”
That sort of “loyalty” leads to all kinds of misery in this world. The Tribune article contained this interesting observation. “Born in Hoboken, N.J., George Gordon Battle Liddy was a frail boy who grew up in a neighborhood populated mostly by German-Americans. From friends and a maid who was a German national, Liddy developed a curiosity about German leader Adolf Hitler and was inspired by listening to Hitler’s radio speeches in the 1930s.’
As we all know, followers of Hitler were famous for ‘not talking’ even as the regime carried through on plans for a Holocaust taking the lives of millions of people. All while Hitler claimed to be aiming the nation toward a “higher ground.”
But Liddy liked Hitler because he felt kinship with the man’s journey from frailty to power.
“If an entire nation could be changed, lifted out of weakness to extraordinary strength, so could one person,” Liddy wrote in “Will,” his autobiography. Liddy decided it was critical to face his fears and overcome them. At age 11, Liddy roasted a rat and ate it to overcome his fear of rats. “From now on, rats could fear me as they feared cats,” he wrote.
That instinct for payback against the world seems to have driven Liddy to extremes in ideology that bordered on manic. “While recruiting a woman to help carry out one of his schemes, Liddy tried to convince her that no one could force him to reveal her identity or anything else against his will. To convince her, Liddy held his hand over a flaming cigarette lighter. His hand was badly burned. The woman turned down the job.”
That refusal to join Liddy’s team was an indication of sanity. No completely rational person behaves as Liddy did in that or any other circumstance.
Liddy’s crazed brand of commitment to cause and manic charisma grew a great following among conservatives as he became a popular media personality. “Liddy learned to market his reputation as a fearless, if sometimes overzealous, advocate of conservative causes. Liddy’s syndicated radio talk show, broadcast from Virginia-based WJFK, was long one of the most popular in the country. He wrote best-selling books, acted in TV shows like “Miami Vice,” was a frequent guest lecturer on college campuses, started a private eye franchise and worked as a security consultant. For a time, he teamed on the lecture circuit with an unlikely partner, 1960s LSD guru Timothy Leary.”
Liddy never hid even his most dire intentions, even illegal motives: “Liddy became known for such offbeat suggestions as kidnapping war protest organizers and taking them to Mexico during the Republican National Convention; assassinating investigative journalist Jack Anderson; and firebombing the Brookings Institution, a left-leaning think tank in Washington where classified documents leaked by Ellsberg were being stored.”
History shows that Liddy worked to subvert the legitimate dealings of government on behalf of Nixon. After serving time for his crimes, he decide to plant roots of public distrust in the government and even law enforcement agents. “In the mid-1990s, Liddy told gun-toting radio listeners to aim for the head when encountered by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. “Head shots, head shots,” he stressed, explaining that most agents wear bullet-resistant vests under their jackets. Liddy said later he wasn’t encouraging people to hunt agents, but added that if an agent comes at someone with deadly force, “you should defend yourself and your rights with deadly force.”
It is no wonder that an America fed such rhetoric for so long grew immune to the use of high-powered, cop-killing weapons such as AR-15s when men like Liddy were spouting anti-government rhetoric over the decades. Liddy normalized such violence in the minds of millions of people. He made them believe that violence equals patriotism and freedom.
Fascist roots and violent instincts
Liddy’s autocratic attitude and fascist roots fueled his violent instincts. These he spilled into the American dialogue without remorse or responsibility. We can draw a straight line from Liddy’s unhinged rhetoric to the brute nature of Trumpism and the insurrection at the Capitol driven by domestic terrorists, white supremacists and stark-raving nationalists claiming.the higher ground even while they devastated law officers charged with protecting the elected official inside.
One can easily imagine G. Gordon Liddy masterminding such a coup, just as he tried to do way back in the 1970s.Trump preached to his followers in advance of his attempted sedition, “Come to DC. It will be wild!”
Trump’s level of corruption exceeded even President Ronald Reagan’s administration, one of the most corrupt in history with a pile of indictments and convictions left behind. The leading contender for Most Corrupt was Colonel Oliver North, who engineered the Iran-Contra affair and then went on to preach in mega-churches that he’s always been on God’s side.
Generations of lies
A significant portion of America has spent several generations worshipping the wrong kind of heroes. That political bulwark Pat Buchanan claims this backwards philosophy of elevating criminals and corrupt bigots to top-level posts is pointing the country in the right direction. In a column titled “Trump–Once and Future Kind,” he praises the ex-president for his supposed success in economic terms. “Trump succeeded in enacting the traditional GOP platform of low taxes and deregulation, producing record-low unemployment — before the pandemic hit”
But Buchanan exhibits cognitive dissonance in his failure to even mention how Trump instantly spoiled economic prospects by selfishly denying the portent of the pandemic because he feared any deleterious effects to the economy. The result was a pandemic that spilled out of control, resulting in the need for economic lockdowns at the state level to assist overwhelmed healthcare systems. Trump’s lack of vision and stubborn claim that the pandemic was not a threat––despite his own admission to Bob Woodward that it was––directly caused the downfall of his supposed plans for prosperity. Trump has no one to blame but himself for his failure as a President.
Yet Trump speciously claimed the election itself was fraudulent because he could not imagine that so many would show up to vote against his despotic lies and political deceptions.
Blame Bush and Cheney, if anyone
Trump liked to blame all of America’s problems on President Barack Obama. But actually, the endless wars and drain on the economy caused by the economic recession under Bush took every effort by Obama to reconcile. He was largely a success at that, and won a second term despite constant Republican obfuscation.
Obama could not cure all of Bush’s mess because the GOP never admitted they were the primary cause. The feckless administrative style of George Bush depended on the direction of Dick Cheney, mastermind of the doctrine that led our country into the war in Iraq under false and badly miscalculated pretenses. That cost the country $7T in Iraq alone, all while torturing and killing its residents in the supposed name of peace. That war was America’s greatest failure, worse in many respects than the Vietnam debacle fifty years before.
All this misguided saber-rattling impoverishes the nation yearly, with a military so bloated by waste that a recent investigation into its accounting procedures resulted in a “no-contest” from the accountants hired to do the job. “We can’t even begin to figure out where the money goes,” was the summary issued, and I paraphrase, but that’s the outcome.
It all comes back to the toxic misappropriation of honesty and truth by men like G. Gordon Liddy, Oliver North, Dick Cheney and Donald Trump. They are all men raised to believe in themselves as a higher power unto itself. Those who believe in them are worshipping the wrong kind of heroes.
The riots and attack on the US government at the United States Capitol building are proving one thing: America really does need to be concerned about the rise of fascism in this nation.
All summer long during protests against the murder of Black citizens by police were conducted by Black Lives Matter and other social conscience groups. Some of those protests were marked by looting that harmed businesses. That was enough for Trump and his supporters to claim the two responses to police brutality were automatically related.
We can turn to the nation of Spain for perspective on the relationship between protests for social justice and independence. I happened to be in Barcelona on a vacation in 2019 during the weekend when originally peaceful protests turned ugly. The issue in Spain was a call for “self-determination” by citizens of the Catalaonian region. They sought independence from the central government in Spain over issues of taxation. Catalan residents sought to secede from Spain. Right-wing defendants of Spain’s traditional national structure and constitution sought to crack down on the protests.
That’s when things turned sour in Barcelona. As reported on Reuters.com, “Barcelona town hall said 400 garbage containers were set ablaze on Wednesday and estimated that the city had suffered damage totaling more than 1 million euros ($1.1 million) in two days. Some city residents condemned the rioting. “This doesn’t represent the majority of Catalans, whichever side they are on, be they pro-constitution or pro-independence,” said Joan, a 50-year-old small-business owner.
The political issues in Spain differ from those in America, yet the cycles of protest and governmental crackdowns and pursuant violence on the part of “protestors” is quite similar to patterns in the United States.
As Reuters reported, “Young people draped in Catalan flags congregated peacefully, tossing balls and skipping rope. Later the mood turned ugly, with protesters setting fire to cafe chairs on the fashionable Rambla de Catalunya street at the heart of the tourist district.
Earlier in the day, thousands of students took to the streets, some hurling eggs at police holding riot shields. Marches from around the region are due to converge on Barcelona on Friday and unions have called a general strike for the day.
“It’s not about who is a separatist and who is not – it’s about human rights,” said Aila, a student who declined to give her family name.”
Black Lives Matter and Antifa
That sounds so familiar. Here in America, hundreds of thousands of protestors also sought to stand up for human rights. Their cause was calling attention to the series of Black people shot or suffocated by police. The incident with George Floyd in which an officer put a knee on the man’s neck until he died went viral and served to illuminate the cause of minorities around the world.
But Trump and his supporters appeared unmoved by the calls for change, and protests escalated as a result. Property damage was rampant, and a loosely organized group calling itself Antifa rose to national prominence as Trump sought to place blame for the violence on an enemy he target for derision by his supporters. That meant Trump lumped everyone together in one supposedly “evil” group that he blamed for property damage. But the people seeking social justice weren’t willing to live with that accusation. They persisted in peaceful protests. I witnessed the “rebound effect” of peaceful protestors while visiting Madison, Wisconsin this summer following weeks of unrest. The boarded up businesses were decorated with messages of love and reminders of why the protests were initiated in the first place. That may have been no comfort to businesses affected by the lockdowns, but that effect was not solely the result of protests. There was the scourge of Coronavirus that Trump refused to address. That incalcitrance toward any authority other than his own was the cause of more suffering in the United States than any protest, Antifa or not, could muster. That’s the reality Trump sought to avoid.
The problem with the Trump tactic is that was successful with his supporters and his Republican allies eager to shift blame away from the President by siding with him in the depiction of all protestors as the “common enemy.” That means the original cause of the social justice protestors––justice for Black citizens and change in brutal police tactics––was effectively left behind. That is exactly how Trump likes it. His entire tactic in politics is to distract from the bad things he’s done and/or approved by redirecting blame toward anyone he depicts as the “common enemy.” In that regard, he has quite familiar company in history.
The concept of propaganda
Consider this excerpt from the Nuremberg 1934 rally, in which Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels outlines the premise and purpose of propaganda:
“The concept of propaganda has undergone a fundamental transformation, particularly as the result of political practice in Germany. Throughout the world today, people are beginning to see that a modern state, whether democratic or authoritarian, cannot withstand the subterranean forces of anarchy and chaos without propaganda. It is not only a matter of doing the right thing; the people must understand that the right thing is the right thing. Propaganda includes everything that helps the people to realize this.”
He goes on to state, “Propaganda is a means to an end. Its purpose is to lead the people to an understanding that will allow it to willingly and without internal resistance devote itself to the tasks and goals of a superior leadership. If propaganda is to succeed, it must know what it wants. It must keep a clear and firm goal in mind, and seek the appropriate means and methods to reach that goal. Propaganda as such is neither good nor evil. Its moral value is determined by the goals it seeks.”
In the case of Donald Trump, that “purpose” in mind is keeping power at all costs. That aligns with his central goal of self-interest. His policies fulfill promises to others that can help him keep power. But his actions aside from that are all about winning and protecting access to power.
That explains his lies to cover up the threat of the pandemic in its early stages. His central goal in presenting information about the Coronavirus was to protect his image going into the 2020 election. To do that, he sought to downplay the seriousness of the virus and how many people it could possible kill. His interest was in protecting the economy upon which he believed his re-election depended. Yet his selfishness backfired as the virus raged through the American population, threatening to overwhelm hospitals as thousands died from Covid-19. The economy reeled. He raged against the lockdowns proclaimed by state governors as necessary to curb the spread of the disease.
That was Trump’s version of a “protest.” Yet it was his original inaction and refusal to engage the federal government in meaningful distribution of PPE and support for state efforts to conduct testing and reduce infection rates that led to the United States becoming the nation whose citizens were banned from traveling to countries around the world. Trump cynically and ignorantly blamed “testing” as the reason why the infection rates were so high. “If we didn’t do so much testing, there wouldn’t be so many infections,” seemed to be his reasoning.
The confusing mix of disease and outrage
So the summer months were a confusing mix of disease and outrage as American citizens endured the uncontrolled spread of Coronavirus even as Trump refused to wear a mask in public and an entire ‘protest’ movement of Anti-Maskers sprung up within his movement. They claimed that wearing masks infringed on their personal freedoms. Men like noted conservative and former presidential candidate Herman Cain refused to wear a mask in public. He contracted Covid-19 and died as a result.
That incident describes the twisted reasoning and dangers of Trumpism.
In the same way, it was Trump sending out federal troops in a fascist show of strength in Portland and other cities that led to increased resistance and more radicalized response in cities across the country. The Trump administration resorted to posting unidentified, heavily armed guards in Washington, D.C. in one of the most fascist demonstrations of governmental secrecy in American history. No one knew who those guards reported to, or what their purpose was other than to serve as a threat that the right to protest at all was under threat.
Then Trump marched across the street in the company of military personnel while flash-bangs and other deterrence methods were aimed at peaceful protestors gathered around a church in Washington. Trump held up a Bible (upside down, it appears) in clear demonstration of the religio-fascist relationship he maintains with zealously bigoted evangelicals calling for outright theocracy in American government.
Trump supporters long to point toward his “policies” as signs of his success the last four years. But even the supposed lists of accomplishments now circulating in defensive memes are rife with contradictions. His supposed Mideast accords are little more than disguised acts of Zionism and anti-Palestinian intrigue. Trump’s forceful collapse of the Iran nuclear control deal is enabling the re-establishment of that nation’s programs. HIs tax cuts did nothing for the middle class while enriching the wealthiest Americans, and his inaction on Coronavirus crushed millions of jobs while Republican Senators and Congressman fought significant relief bills to help everyday Americans. If one were to draft a program to make American lives worse rather than better, there is none better than the lack of platform resolved by the Republican Party and the sycophantic support they’ve granted their Fascist in Chief. The GOP, as I’ve previously written, simply got pimped.
This arc toward fascist takeover of American society was not lost on Trump supporters whose beliefs about American justice were formed and fomented by propaganda spouted by Trump well before the 2020 election even took place. Upon losing, Trump declared the results “fraudulent” and proceeded to carry out 60 fraudulent lawsuits that were in turn rejected by courts on the basis of no evidence to support them.
None of that stopped Trump or his fascist henchman Rudy Giuliani from continuing their attack on democratic processes. Right up to the certification of the Electoral College votes, Trump and Rudy G collared Republican Congressman, Senators, state governors and even election officials. They issued dictates and threats. When all this continued to fail, Trump called his supporters into action in Washington. He directed them to march on the Capitol in hopes that the disruption would delay or cancel the counting of Electoral College votes altogether.
The riotous mob did invade and seek to destroy the Capitol building and its occupants. They came armed with ties in hopes of kidnapping the Vice President or the Speaker of the House. Anyone they regarded as “treasonous” was a potential target. Even those tasked with defending the safety of the Capitol building were subject to fascist fury. A Capitol guard was slaughtered by “protestors” using a fire extinguisher to pound the life out of him.
It’s his own fault, not ours
All of this is inescapably the fault of “President” Donald Trump, whose impeachment for attempts to corrupt the 2020 election were both justified and accurate. So was the Article of Impeachment about obstruction of justice, an action that Trump has taken multiple times and in multiple ways during his administration, all while crying out that he is the victim of a “witch hunt.”
But the witch hunt that sprung into life on January 6 was one driven by those who support Trump, and no one else. It bears echoes of the witch hunt conducted by Michigan Trump supporters who first stormed that state’s Capitol building, then conspired to kidnap the state governor.
The witch hunt also burst into murderous flames in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where a young kid inflamed by propagandistic rhetoric about the actions of Antifa, and not the cause of their concerns, shot several people to death in what his supporters immediately claimed as an act of “self-defense.”
It won’t be long before Trump makes the same claim for himself, that his supporters were acting in on his behalf, as an act of “self-defense” against the supposedly fraudulent results of the election. That is the Big Lie upon which all of Trumpism now depends. It is one Trump originated even before the 2016 election took place. It is a lie he will likely repeat until his is in his grave. He simply can’t accept the reality that Antifa exists in direct relationship to his fascist persona and the actions it has begotten.
That is the ultimate irony in all of this. Trump supporters refuse to understand that Donald Trump brought this upon America, and upon himself.
Credulity: a tendency to be too ready to believe that something is real or true.
President Donald Trump apparently still believes he won the election. The conservative media outlet Newsmax relayed these beliefs in story published Tuesday, November 24. It states:
“President Donald Trump is vowing to “never concede,” the “most corrupt election in American political history”— despite the General Services Administration giving the go-ahead to Joe Biden to begin a transition to the White House.
Trump’s remarks came in a late Monday night tweet. He wrote: “What does GSA being allowed to preliminarily work with the Dems have to do with continuing to pursue our various cases on what will go down as the most corrupt election in American political history? We are moving full speed ahead. Will never concede to fake ballots & “Dominion.”
Clearly, Trump is hoping to paint himself as a heroic figure and a martyr in the face of his massive loss in the 2020 election. President-Elect Joe Biden earned exactly as many Electoral College votes in this year’s election as Trump achieved in 2016 while defeating Hillary Clinton. Trump branded that victory a “landslide” and claimed it as a mandate to do what he wanted with the nation, no matter what the laws governing his conduct and activities dictated to the contrary.
His supporters embraced the landslide mentality while crowing “elections have consequences,” never acknowledging the corrupt nature of Trump’s tactics either during the election or in the months or years to follow. His supporters were so eager to believe in their man as a political Messiah and a literal tool of God that Trump once claimed he could shoot people in the street and his supporters would not abandon him.
That’s not loyalty. That’s cult worship. All of it depends on credulity, the willingness to believe that everything that Trump says is true. In fact, so little truth has come from Trump or his administration the entire Republican Party has been forced to lie along with him or risk running afoul of his considerable ire. Political operatives at all levels and stripes have cowered as cowards while credulity swept over the nation.
The problem with credulity as a rule of thought is that it is so easily converted to fascist beliefs in the classic sense. That’s exactly what has transpired under the authoritarian rule of Donald Trump, the Con Man turned Strong Man.
Fascism (/ˈfæʃɪzəm/) is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.
Trump began his rule by embracing authoritarian leaders around the world. He repeatedly suggested that his own position bestowed dictatorial powers upon his person. He invited forcible suppression of his perceived opposition on many fronts, beginning with chants of “Lock Her Up” during his political campaigns. He is finishing now by trying to steal the election (while gaslighting the nation about it) from Joe Biden by attempting to overturn legitimate election results using lawyers, guns and money, whatever it takes. All those are taking the form of real threats. In Trump’s mind, the fear of losing justifies using any means to take power back from people he considers inferior to his own cabal. Amusingly, he promised to pack up and disappear if he lost the election. Well, he lost. But instead of leaving, he’s floating around in a toilet bowl of porcelain consternation while his orange face paint leaves skid marks on his legacy.
As for the strong regimentation of society, Donald Trump repeatedly Tweeted the words “Law and Order” all this year while encouraging police brutality and marching across a Washington street in the company of military leaders. All to hold a Bible aloft as if he is a warrior for God. As if, indeed. Trump is so un-Christlike there is no metaphor or allegory to draw a sufficient comparison.
And finally, let’s consider what Trump has done to the economy. Despite all claims to the contrary, Trump’s tax cuts massively benefitted the rich while leaving the middle class and poor wondering why their tax bills shot up the same year in which there was a supposed tax cut. The excuse: “Oh, well you had to let your accountant or employer know that you wanted more money taken out this year. In the long run, it will even out.” Thanks for telling us, asshole.
Then came Covid, and millions of people were thrown out of work in the wake of Trump’s patent denial that the pandemic was a threat at all in America. His credulity was revealed later in the year when journalist Bob Woodward published interviews with the President in which he openly admitted that the Coronavirus was a really ‘bad deal’ in terms of how it compared to annual flu and the like. Put plainly, Trump lied to the American people about the threat. He did so to avoid causing any sort of reaction that might upset the economy. That backfired when hospitals were overwhelmed as the pandemic swept across the nation and people started dying by the thousands. We’re now at 250,000 as the predicted peak season in the winter months is about to hit.
And what is Trump doing about the pandemic in the last days of his presidency? Nothing. He doesn’t care if more people die. If anything, he’s ignoring the fact of his massive failure to manage the pandemic all along.
Yet today, he did trot out to claim victory for the Dow Jones average reaching 30,000. Ironically, that performance is more of a response to the predicted stability brought about by Biden’s election victory.
But credulity still reigns in the minds of Trump and his supporters. They are so eager to believe that he could not lose, they increase their loser status with every new layer of denial.
Loser A “loser” is someone who doesn’t know what they have and fucks it up.They are always making bad choices and fuck up their and everyone’s lives around them.
That is a perfect description of what the Trump era has done. Trump never knew what America is about in the first place. His Make America Great Again slogan was nothing more than anachronistic, nationalistic, racist beliefs wrapped in a security blanket of victimhood to which Trump grandly appealed with his downtalking manner and his phony-ass sympathy for the downtrodden.
He’s a fraud and the King of the Losers when it comes to understanding what it means to accept defeat with a degree of honesty and class. He makes losers out of all of us by persisting in his sociopathic game of vain heroics. The best thing that could happen for America is for Donald Trump and his family to face the fire of legal persecution for the emolument breaches, the grifting of government money, the corruption of post-election lies and the collusion between Trump and the long line of criminals associated with his sick rise to power.
And that includes the whorish evangelicals, the sycophantic GOP and the suburban women praying to God he’ll point them out in the crowd.
I looked up the history of the acronym GOP as a shorthand for the Republican Party. The Wikipedia page on the Republican Party says this:
“The term “Grand Old Party” is a traditional nickname for the Republican Party and the abbreviation “GOP” is a commonly used designation. The term originated in 1875 in the Congressional Record, referring to the party associated with the successful military defense of the Union as “this gallant old party”.
I’d always thought it stood for Grand Old Party, which is just as lame. But these days, the Republican Party is anything but Grand or Gallant. So the old terminology is moot. I propose that we give the GOP a new set of more accurate terms to replace its traditional claims to grandness or gallantry.
GOP and dying wishes
The option I propose, given the Republican Party’s tactics over the last fifteen years or so, is a far more accurate description of how the GOP operates. We’ll get to that in a moment.
But first, we need to understand the nature of the most recent hypocrisy. That is the installation of a third Supreme Court justice by decree of Donald Trump. We all recall how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell self-righteously claimed that no President up for election within the year should be granted the right to nominate a Supreme Court judge. So McConnell blocked Merrick Garland’s nomination, only to invite Trump’s last-minute nomination of a constitutional originalist to replace the recently deceased Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose dying wish was that her replacement would not be named until after the election.
The GOP has for decades been whining about so-called “activist judges” on the Supreme Court. Their concerns have focused on the idea that supposedly “liberal” justices are legislating “from the bench” by voting in favor of civil rights, economic parity, corporate responsibility and environmental justice in America rather than dragging the nation back to an interpretation of the United States Constitution before slavery was outlawed, women had the right to vote and America was a population of just 2.5M people. But here’s a fact that matters: The country is 130 times larger today according to the United States Census Bureau. We have fifty states, not just a few. We are a diverse nation thanks to immigration over dozens of decades and a couple centuries. The Constitution as it was originally written was never sufficient to cover all that change. The Founders knew that, which is why the power to commend Amendments to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were implemented. To ignore that wisdom is to kick the Founder right in their constitutional nuts.
Yet that’s what some in the GOP love to do.
The idea that America is the “same place” as it was 243 years ago is an example of the controlling, abusive notion that all the Amendments and beneficial changes in law and policy installed since that time are meaningless affectations adopted by a whimsically feckless population of liberals.
Ironically, this country would not even have the Second Amendment if things had stayed fixed in place as Constitutional originalists would have it. On that subject, perhaps they’re correct that amendments can be used for ill-suited purposes. After all, America does not seem capable of managing “A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state…” Now we’re being gaslighted by vigilante militias and the GOP, both who claim to represent an originalist interpretation of the Second Amendment that ignores that opening phrase in favor of the latter, “…the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
That is the gaslighting tactic (a lie by selective judgment) upon which activist interpretations of the Second Amendment now depend. As a result, Americans are literally being gaslighted to death by rampant gun violence in the streets, doctrinally motivated mass shooters armed to the teeth, and self-professed militia members playing soldier while claiming self-defense.
Why do all these people deep-down claim to want to arm themselves? Many claim that their armory is to prevent the government from having too much power. Here’s a sobering fact: more Americans have died from gun violence on American soil than all the soldiers killed in wars on foreign soils.
That means we are being gaslighted by the idea that guns are the path to safety in America. The people who make that claim (through the NRA, and other bodies) form one of the GOP’s pet voting blocs. Some equate even the idea of personal freedom with gun rights.
Yes, our country had to fight for its freedom to gain liberty from the rule of England. Guns are useful tools in war. That’s what they were invented for. That’s why a well-regulated militia truly is necessary for the security of a free state.
But it is principles, not guns, that form the true foundations of freedom.
Liberalism and democracy
It was liberalism and the determination that America should be independent from the rule of a king that established the country in the first place. There is also the issue that the nation’s Founders recognized the danger of establishing or enforcing a state religion, so the Separation Clause was written specifically to avoid the rule of one religion over the country.
These days the Christian evangelical community persists in claiming that the United States of America is a “Christian nation,” founded on “Christian principles” and therefore subject to the directives of theocratic directives from whatever source they might be issued. This is another form of gaslighting, a way to “manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.”
These are crazy times we live in. To perpetually insist that something is true that is not true, especially by accusing those most affected by that untruth of being wrong, is psychological abuse. So is being a bully over every issue that confronts you. That is what the President of the United States does every single day of the year.
That is also the central tactic of the GOP these days. Choose any principle; be it racism, feminism, gay rights, environmental protection, even the rights of an individual in comparison to a corporation, and the GOP finds a way to flip those concerns around as a means to gaslight people into submission. Crazy times indeed.
Racism and the GOP
When it comes to racism, the GOP inherited the originally vicious views of Southern Democrats and turned into a voting bloc first exploited in dog-whistle fashion by the grandfatherly visage of President Ronald Reagan. The Southern Strategy persists through the era of President Donald Trump, whose open appeal to racists to gain votes for his re-election includes patronage and Retweets bragging that there are “good people” on both sides of the debate over civil rights in America. He doesn’t bother to explain what kinds of “good people” want to persecute blacks and send American citizens “back to Africa” or whatever racist taunt they choose to exhort, but Trump doesn’t care about such details. He is happy to gaslight principled citizens into questioning their own good judgment by wondering what the President means by describing angry white citizens as “good people.”
Blacks and police brutality
The scourge of police brutality toward black people in America is so longstanding and frequent that movements such as Black Lives Matter emerged to heighten awareness of the problem. But conservatives gaslighted the issue by pumping out alternative slogans such as Blue Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. Rather than address and acknowledge that 200+ years of racial suppression continues in this nation, the opponents of full civil rights for people of color selfishly claim persecution for themselves.This is gaslighting at its worst.
The GOP encourages this attitude of denial with its support of Trump and the specious slogan Make America Great Again. Those words are a dog-whistle act of gaslighting unto themselves. They insinuate that the advances in civil rights, environmental protection and religious equanimity established by the Constitution are illegitimate.
Constitutional originalism is gaslighting
Now the Senate has installed yet another constitutional originalist in the Supreme Court. This is an outright act of the sort of judicial activism against which the GOP has railed for decades. It is gaslighting in its most extreme political form.
That is what the GOP stands for these days: Gaslighting Over Principle.
We’re stuck with it for the time being, but there will come a moment in history when the tables turn again. That may come sooner or later. But gaslighting does win the day on November 3, the country as we’ve known it for 243 years will cease to exist, and we’ll all be subject to the violent instincts and abusive advances of a highly conflicted man and his dysfunctionally self-absorbed family.
That’s the choice we’re making on November the third. We can let ourselves be gaslighted into insanity, or we can stand against the GOP and its lying tactics, sycophantic whorishness and cloying lust for power, black eyes and all.
An associate on Facebook sent me a link to the ravings of a so-called “Christian activist” Scott Lively. I clicked through and right away saw what the guy was going to be like. He had the full white beard of so many nationalistic arch-patriots claiming Jesus as their Savior with hate in their hearts.
It used to be true that these guys were relatively harmless. Typically they stood out in the front of the house yelling at kids and dogs to stay off their yard. That was their fortress against the world. Probably a little whisky in their morning coffee, a quick read of a few pages in a greasy Bible, and out they’d go to stand in the morning sun playing pocket pool with their saggy nutsack waiting for some errant kid to wheel a Sting-Ray bike across the turf grass.
On humid days, their aviator glasses would fog up, requiring a quick rub session using the cantilevered fabric of a shirt hanging from their profuse gut. If the lawn was deemed safe from intrusion for the nonce, they’d pick up their sprinkler-soaked copy of the Wall Street Journal and sit on the front porch with a pistol in the milk crate just in case the n****** decided to waltz into town.
I’d like to say that I hate to generalize, but I really don’t. When the cliche fits, some people get to wear it. Just take a look a this Scott Lively guy and read about his views. Then study that White Beard and tell me you haven’t seen it on a thousand angry mugs in a thousand photos of Trump rallies. These are the rapid consumers of Fox News who tune into local AM Radio stations to listen to tripe from the likes of Salem radio and Rush Limbaugh and even that faux-kindess stuff from the Moody Bible Institute and evangelicals across the nation.
The White Beard Factor is real. These guys consider America their front lawn. They’ve got the pistols and the sagging nutsacks to prove it, and they’re just itching for a chance to swing into action.
Lacking that, they’re in full support of an angry bastard who covers his face in war paint and sports a radical combover to rival the aging vanity of every White Beard in the country. These are men of a certain age whose toxic masculinity oozes from their brains. On one hand they’ll yell at the kids on their lawn and the next wink at their porch buddy with a creepy smile and say, “She’ll be a hot one in a couple years.”
This is how the White Beard Factor works. It utters its fears, spews its anger and claims all it can see as a personal possession. And it is killing America one conflicted soul at a time.
That’s what I wrote on a Facebook post in a group calling itself Christians Against Trump. A person in the group was objecting to people crowing about the passing of the conservative businessman and politician, Herman Cain, who died from Covid-19 after attending a Trump rally. He’d boasted about the refusal to wear a mask on his Twitter account.
Cain was making the bold claim that PEOPLE ARE FED UP with wearing masks, yet he’s now dead from contraction of the Coronavirus. One cannot be sure that he caught the deadly bug while sitting in the audience cheering on Trump. But the quid pro quo is compelling nonetheless.
Herman Cain also considered himself a mouthpiece for God. He connected his religion closely to his politics. During his campaign for President in 2012, he made a direct connection between his 9-9-9 tax proposal and his ardent belief in the Almighty. “If 10% is good enough for God,” Cain proclaimed, “9% ought to be good enough for the federal government.”
Given these almost scriptural musings about the nature of life and government, one wonders if Cain understood the fuller meaning of scripture that warns us against putting the Lord our God to the test. (Matthew 4:7)
Going out in public without a mask during a worldwide pandemic seems to be a keen way to put the Lord to the test. Yet it is a popular meme with some religious folks. There is no escaping the fact that Herman Cain tested the power of his faith and it didn’t work out that well for him.
A common sense approach
That’s the problem with banking on religion to protect us from all kinds of evil. God still expects us to use common sense. The Book of Genesis starts out with a test of that sort to warn us against getting too cocky about the support of God in this world. Even after Adam and Eve are told not to take fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, they engage with a legalistic serpent who shows up with a promise that they can be like God, knowing good and evil, if they take matters into their own hands. “You surely will not die,” the Serpent promises them.
But a harsh lesson awaits. The Serpent’s promise is only good in the short term. The deceivingly religious Serpent has tricked Adam and Eve into thinking they have immunity from their own actions. Such is the case, it seems, with Herman Cain and millions of other religious believers who too easily neglect the lessons of their own scripture. While claiming to represent the Will of God, they eagerly take fate into their own hands.
The legacy of Herman Cain
There is more to the conflicted legacy of Herman Cain than his unfortunate death. HIs life as a businessman is depicted as a classic “up by the bootstraps” lesson about corporate perseverance. He rose through the ranks of several fast food companies to bring Godfather’s Pizza to renewed profitability. But when President Clinton pursued a plan to require employers to support health insurance for employees, Cain complained that plan would make it impossible for companies “like mine” to stay in business.
In a textbook example of conservative victimhood, Cain stated “For many, many businesses like mine, the cost of your plan will cause us to eliminate jobs. What will I tell those people whose jobs I will have to eliminate?”
Two bad choices
That tactic of offering up two seemingly bad choices to defend an ideological premise of conservatism under the banner of capitalism is a classic conservative ploy. What Cain refuses to consider or mention is why employers are even involved in the business of dispensing healthcare in the first place? Conservatives love to ignore such topics, leaving businesses across America responsible for the major headache of paying premiums and managing our healthcare system in the increasingly expensive triage of combatants vying for profitability. These are healthcare insurance companies, healthcare providers and networks, and Big Pharma. All of these lobbies want to protect their own interests, and corporate politicians gain big donations by doing so.
And the rest of America is left living a lie of bad choices. The United States barely ranks in the Top 40 worldwide in terms of quality and affordability of healthcare. So much for American exceptionalism. The fight against the Affordable Care Act was not about constitutional rights or Death Panels or any number of conflated reasons concocted by the Republican Party. It was about the selfish interests of all these profit-pursuing entities trying to slice pieces of meat from the other. And the GOP plays the role of butcher by trying to cut people out of the ranks of the covered.
Herman Cain’s purposefully blind approach to resolving health care needs in America is the entire premise of the Republican Party’s non-plan to protect the health of everyday Americans. For decades, millions of people living outside the bubble of corporate-sponsored health care went without coverage. And worse, those with pre-existing conditions were essentially banned from pools of favorably-priced health insurance even if they tried to buy it on the open market.
The Republican approach to health insurance was, and remains, a death warrant for anyone who works for a man like Herman Cain. So we must ask, how does a supposedly God-fearing Christian man come to a place in life where he aggressively opposes the needs of people who work for him? It turns out scripture has something to say about that too.
That “up-from-the-bootstraps” mentality favored by conservatives is more about selfishness than it is about solutions. It’s the “tough luck” school of thought that Jesus combatted in the religious authorities whose love of tradition moved them to invent laws and rules and restrictions that stood as stumbling blocks for those trying to reach out to God for spiritual sustenance. Instead it became a transactional religion run by people in positions of power and authority who got to call the shots, even to the point of sentencing people to death if they were accused of doing something wrong.
That’s the lifelong lesson of Herman Cain in a nutshell. His supposed love of personal responsibility was actually a politically dismissive ideal that cost him his own life in the end.
But as scripture tells us time and again, God loves irony. It teaches so many lessons.
In the famously entertaining––and mildly politically incorrect––holiday movie “A Christmas Story,” the bully Scut Farkas terrorizes the Ralphie character and his friends. Scut clearly derives perverse pleasure from tormenting his victims.
Ultimately, Scut pushes Ralphie a step too far and the bespectacled child boils over with rage and frustration at the bullying he’s been dealth for too long. In an instant Ralphie piles into Scut and begins pounding away. Farkas is so surprised by the return of force that it renders him defenseless. The blood pouring from his nose testifies to a long overdue payback for all the threats and arm-twisting he’s imposed upon the neighborhood.
But Scut Farkas does not work alone. He depends on his toadie Grover Dill, a snotty little brute in an annoying oversized cap, as emotional support for his abusive ways. The empowered little monster Grover Dill relishes opportunities to frighten and dun the neighborhood kids into submission. Yet even in victory, after supposed “victory” has been won, when Grover tries to punch Farkas in a friendly way, the insecure bully can’t handle even the slightest resistance. Instead he bludgeons his little buddy even harder to maintain dominance.
The relationship is an example of sick co-dependence.
Eventually, their bullying ways catch up with them. Farkas gets pounded by Ralphie and the toadie Grover Dill gets shoved aside. He turns and runs away crying how unfair it is to be treated like that.
Yes, the bully and his toadie(s) have had their day. It’s long past time for America to knock that furry cap off the head of the neighborhood bully .The same goes for collectively pathetic, small-minded band of toadies too. There’s no reason why everyday Americans should have to put up with this brand of insecure brutality, nor the misogyny and racism, the economic graft and bribery, the fraud and the fecklessness. The lies. The treason. The selfish denial of genuine threats while inventing fears to manipulate the toadie masses.
Let’s send these bullies and their sick little band of angry sycophants scurrying away like the roaches and leeches that they are. And wipe those shit-eating grins and angry looks off their stupid faces. Scut Farkas and Grover Dill have to go, red hats and all. We don’t have to live like this. Just ask Ralphie.