The Watering Hole; Th/Fr December 1 and 2, 2016; “Thou, Whoever Art Above . . .”

I’ll admit it. I’m DISGUSTED!

I know I’m not alone in this, but I can say with heavy duty authority that in the aftermath of the 2016 Presidential (s)election, my disgust has peaked at levels I’ve never known before, levels that, until November 9, I would have never guessed attainable, much less even possible. But it happened. Somehow, the most narcissistic, egomaniacal, misogynistic, xenophobic, bigoted, racist, fascistic and ego-driven presidential candidate in American history has been (s)elected (at least via Electoral College terms), and will become POTUS on January 20, 2017.

My initial reaction was to rant (which I did), then attempt to listen to those voices of ‘moderation,’ those voices that try to convince us “radicals” that hey, this is America where the voice of “the people” — not of the tyrant — is heard, is determinative of the nation’s (and the world’s) future. Those voices of moderation are, of course, nonsensical in that they ignore the obvious consequences that invariably occur when the entire government of a nation is turned over to what is, effectively, a far right wing politic, a Fascist majority. And sadly, that is precisely what ‘we the people’ did on November 8, 2016; we “elected” a Fascist president, and left in place right wing majorities in both the Senate and the House along with a vacancy on the Supreme Court which will now be filled by an extreme right wing appointee, thus granting control  of the entire of our federal government to the American Fascist Movement.

That should be the point that causes any salient mind to rant and rave for hours on end about electoral national destruction, but then again, to the “salient” mind, what would be the point? As Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar noted, “The die is cast.” Besides, it does one no good at all to imagine being down in the pit, surrounded only by idiots, white supremacists, Republicans, Fascists  — assuming there’s a difference. There are, after all, other places — peaceful and quiet places, places brimming with ‘salient’ life forms — places that are far better, that inspire rather than denigrate one’s imagination.

Here’s an example: a six line poem by longtime colleague and friend T.R. Nissle, words which he penned some 40 years ago in response to a few photos I managed to ‘snap’ during my frequent and solitary sojourns “out there” on some then relatively undisturbed corners of the Sonoran Desert in southwestern Arizona. Six lines with six photos (the top three ‘inspired’ the poem), together offer a refreshing look at the living world — though not expressly through human eyes.

THE PRAYER OF THE CACTUS

ca-1972-cave-creek-wasjh-praying-saguaro

▲Thou, whoever art above, hear me die –▲

ca-1973-white-tanks-old-sentry

▲Hear my silent, lonely prayer –▲

ca-1975-mcdowells-saguaro-backlit-350pxl

▲For tongueless creatures everywhere;▲

003s▲We neither savage, jest, nor boast of soul –▲

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA▲But flower unmaliciously –▲

2004-january-sunrise-ove-salt-river-valley-022f▲Disjoin us from Humanity.▲

Those six photos are of the Sonoran Desert’s most unique life form, the Giant Saguaro Cactus, in various stages of both life and death. Curiously enough, the Saguaro’s longtime scientific name Cereus giganteus (Britton & Rose) was, in recent years, changed to Carnegiea gigantea in honor of renowned wealthy industrialist-become-philanthropist Andrew Carnegie who, in his last years prior to his death in 1919, donated (as 2015 share of GDP) some $78.6 Billion (approx. 90% of his accumulated wealth) to charities, foundations, and universities. I suppose it could simply be my naivete, but I seriously doubt that any of today’s billionaires will ever wind up with a signature cactus named after them. Trumpissonia gigantea? Probably not.

The bottom line remains: If humans would take a moment and agree to (1) abolish all war, (2) disallow greed,  hate, and irrational fear, (3) abandon their never-ending savage quest for power, and (4) agree to never again boast of soul — but flower unmaliciously, the world would fast become a livable place for all its creatures, big or small. Including even ourselves.

I remain filled with doubt, however; human history has yet to suggest that humans are uniformly capable of being earth-friendly in any context. More than two centuries ago, for example, William Wordsworth  noted that though . . .

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
the earth, and every common sight,
To me did seem
Apparelled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
It is not now as it hath been of yore;–
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

To which I can only add, in MY voice to all of earth’s creatures everywhere:

Disjoin US from “Humanity.”

2005-mar-brittlebush-encelia-farinosa-022s-sharper

******

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 28th, 2016: Warning Signs of a Dictatorship

From November 23rd in Foreign Policy Magazine, “10 Ways to Tell if Your President is a Dictator”, by Stephen M. Walt, here’s a brief [believe it or not] summary. (You’ll need to register in order to be able to read the entire article. Registration is free, and allows you access to five articles per month.)

An excerpt from the opening:

“…if you live in the United States, what you should really worry about is the threat that Trump may pose to America’s constitutional order. His lengthy business career suggests he is a vindictive man who will go to extreme lengths to punish his opponents and will break a promise in a heartbeat and without remorse. The 2016 campaign confirmed that he has little respect for existing norms and rules — he refused to release his tax returns, lied repeatedly, claimed the electoral and political systems were “rigged” against him, threatened to jail his opponent if he won, among other such violations — and revealed his deep contempt for both his opponents and supporters. Nor does he regret any of the revolting things he did or said during the campaign, because, as he told the Wall Street Journal afterward, “I won.”[**] For Trump, it seems, the ends really do justify the means.

[**Tweet from WSJ: “When asked if he thought his rhetoric had gone too far in the campaign, Donald Trump told WSJ: “No. I won.”]

“Given what is at stake, one of the most important things we can all do is remain alert for evidence that Trump and those around him are moving in an authoritarian direction. For those who love America and its Constitution more than they love any particular political party or any particular politician, I offer as a public service my top 10 warning signs that American democracy is at risk.”

1) Systematic efforts to intimidate the media.

A free, energetic, vigilant, and adversarial press has long been understood to be an essential guarantee of democratic freedoms, because without it, the people in whose name leaders serve will be denied the information they need to assess what the politicians are doing.

If the Trump administration begins to enact policies designed to restrict freedom of the press, or just intimidate media organizations from offering critical coverage, it will be a huge (or if you prefer, yuge) warning sign.

Trump has already proposed “opening up” libel laws so that public figures can sue the press more easily. This step would force publishers and editors to worry about costly and damaging lawsuits even if they eventually win them, and it would be bound to have a chilling effect on their coverage.

His administration could deny access to entire news organizations like the New York Times if they were too critical of Trump’s policies or just too accurate in documenting his failures. Just because the First Amendment guarantees free speech doesn’t mean some parts of the media can’t be stampeded into pulling punches or once again indulging in “false equivalence.”

2) Building an official pro-Trump media network.

“…While trying to suppress critical media outlets, Trump could also use the presidency to bolster media that offer him consistent support. Or he could even try to create an official government news agency that would disseminate a steady diet of pro-Trump coverage.

In Trump’s ideal world, Americans would get their news from some combination of Breitbart, Fox News, and the president’s own Twitter feed…”

3) Politicizing the civil service, military, National Guard, or the domestic security agencies.

“One of the obstacles to a democratic breakdown is the government bureaucracy, whose permanent members are insulated from political pressure by existing civil service protections that make it hard to fire senior officials without cause. But one can imagine the Trump administration asking Congress to weaken those protections, portraying this step as a blow against “big government” and a way to improve government efficiency.

But if the president or his lieutenants can gut government agencies more or less at will, the fear of being fired will lead many experienced public servants to keep their heads down and kowtow to whatever the president wants, no matter how ill-advised or illegal it might be.

And don’t assume the military, FBI, National Guard, or the intelligence agencies would be immune to this sort of interference. Other presidents (or their appointees) have fired generals who questioned their policy objectives, as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld did during George W. Bush’s first administration when he removed Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, who had the temerity to tell a congressional committee that the occupation of Iraq was going to need a lot more people than Rumsfeld had claimed. Other generals and admirals got the message and stayed out of Rumsfeld’s way for the rest of his disastrous tenure as defense secretary. There have also been fights in the past over control of the National Guard, but a move to assert greater federal authority over the guard would give Trump a powerful tool to use against open expressions of dissent.”

4) Using government surveillance against domestic political opponents.

“This step wouldn’t be entirely new either, insofar as Nixon once used the CIA to infiltrate anti-war organizations during the Vietnam War. But the government’s capacity to monitor the phones, emails, hard drives, and online activities of all Americans has expanded enormously since the 1960s.

As far as we know, however, no one has yet tried to use these new powers of surveillance to monitor, intimidate, embarrass, deter, or destroy political opponents.

…an ambitious and unscrupulous president could use the ability to monitor political opponents to great advantage. He would need the cooperation of top officials and possibly many underlings as well, but this only requires loyal confederates at the top and compliant people below. The White House had sufficient authority, under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, to convince U.S. government employees to torture other human beings.”

5) Using state power to reward corporate backers and punish opponents.

“A hallmark of corrupt quasi-democracies is the executive’s willingness to use the power of the state to reward business leaders who are loyal and to punish anyone who gets in the way. That’s how Putin controls the “oligarchs” in Russia, and it is partly how Erdogan kept amassing power and undermining opponents in Turkey…

…I know, I know: Corruption of this sort is already a problem here in the Land of the Free —whether in the form of congressional pork or the sweet deals former government officials arrange to become lobbyists once they leave office — so why single out Trump? The problem is that Trump’s record suggests he thinks this is the right way to do business: You reward your friends, and you stick it to your enemies every chance you get.”

6) Stacking the Supreme Court.

“Trump will likely get the opportunity to appoint several Supreme Court justices, and the choices he makes will be revealing. Does he pick people who are personally loyal and beholden to him or opt for jurors with independent standing and stellar qualifications? Does he pick people whose views on hot-button issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and campaign financing comport with his party’s, or does he go for people who have an established view on the expansiveness of executive power and are more likely to look the other way if he takes some of the other steps I’ve already mentioned? And if it’s the latter, would the Senate find the spine to say no?”

7) Enforcing the law for only one side.

“…given the nature of Trump’s campaign and the deep divisions within the United States at present, a key litmus test for the president-elect is whether he will direct U.S. officials to enforce similar standards of conduct on both his supporters and his opponents.

If anti-Trump protesters are beaten up by a band of Trump’s fans, will the latter face prosecution as readily as if the roles were reversed? Will local and federal justice agencies be as vigilant in patrolling right-wing hate speech and threats of violence as they are with similar actions that might emanate from the other side?…If Trump is quick to call out his critics but gives racists, bigots, and homophobes a free pass because they happen to like him, it would be another sign he is trying to tilt the scales of justice in his favor.”

8) Really rigging the system.

“…given the promises he has made and the demography of the electorate, Trump and the GOP have every incentive to use the next four years to try to stack the electoral deck in their favor. Look for more attempts to gerrymander safe seats for House Republicans and more efforts to prevent likely Democratic voters from getting to the polls in 2018 and 2020.”

9) Fearmongering.

“Stoking public fears about safety and well-being is a classic autocratic tactic, designed to convince a frightened population to look to the Leader for protection. Trump played this card brilliantly in the campaign, warning of “Mexican rapists,” foreign governments that “steal our jobs,” “scores of recent migrants inside our borders charged with terrorism,” and so on. He also hinted that his political rivals were somehow in cahoots with these various “enemies.” A frightened population tends to think first about its own safety, and forget about fundamental liberties, and would be more likely to look the other way as a president amassed greater power.

The worst case, of course, would be an Erdogan-like attempt to use a terrorist attack or some other equally dramatic event as an excuse to declare a “state of emergency” and to assume unprecedented executive authority. Bush and Cheney used 9/11 to pass the Patriot Act, and Trump could easily try to use some future incident as a — with apologies for the pun — trumped-up excuse to further encroach on civil liberties, press freedoms, and the other institutions that are central to democracy.”

10) Demonizing the opposition.

“Trying to convince people that your domestic opponents are in league with the nation’s enemies is one of the oldest tactics in politics, and it has been part of Trump’s playbook ever since he stoked the “birther” controversy over Obama’s citizenship. After he becomes president, will he continue to question his opponents’ patriotism, accuse them of supporting America’s opponents, and blame policy setbacks on dark conspiracies among Democrats, liberals, Muslims, the Islamic State, “New York financial elites,” or the other dog whistles so beloved by right-wing media outlets like Breitbart? Will he follow the suggestions of some of his supporters and demand that Americans from certain parts of the world (read: Muslims) be required to “register” with the federal government?

Again, these are the same tactics Erdogan and Putin have used in Turkey and Russia, respectively, to cement their own authority over time by initiating a vicious cycle of social hostility. When groups within a society are already somewhat suspicious of each other, extremists can trigger a spiral of increasing hostility by attacking the perceived internal enemy in the hope of provoking a harsh reaction. If the attacked minority responds defensively, or its own hotheads lash out violently, it will merely reinforce the first group’s fears and bolster a rapid polarization. Extremists on both sides will try to “outbid” their political opponents by portraying themselves as the most ardent and effective defenders of their own group. In extreme cases, such as the Balkan Wars in the 1990s or Iraq after 2003, the result is civil war. Trump would be playing with fire if he tries to stay in power by consistently sowing hatred against the “other,” but he did it in the campaign, and there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t do it again.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“This list of warning signs will no doubt strike some as overly alarmist. As I said, it is possible — even likely — that Trump won’t try any of these things (or at least not very seriously) and he might face prompt and united opposition if he did. The checks and balances built into America’s democratic system may be sufficiently robust to survive a sustained challenge. Given the deep commitment to liberty that lies at the heart of the American experiment, it is also possible the American people would quickly detect any serious attempt to threaten the present order and take immediate action to stop it.

The bottom line: I am by no means predicting the collapse of democracy in the United States under a President Donald J. Trump. What I am saying is that it is not impossible, and there are some clear warning signs to watch out for. Now, as always, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Or to use a more modern formulation: If you see something, say something.”

 

This is our Open Thread – feel free to talk about whatever you want.

The Watering Hole, Monday, November 7th, 2016: “Trouble sleeping?”

With the most consequential election of my lifetime now just one day away, a scene from Star Trek: Next Generation’s “Best of Both Worlds” Part 1″ keeps returning to my mind. It takes place before the battle with the Borg, as Captain Picard paces through the Enterprise, and finds Guinan alone in Ten-Forward:

Guinan: “Trouble sleeping?”

Capt. Picard: “It’s something of a tradition, Guinan – Captain touring the ship before a battle.”

Guinan: “Hmm. Before a *hopeless* battle, if I remember the tradition correctly.”

Capt. Picard: “Not necessarily. Nelson toured the HMS Victory before Trafalgar.”

Guinan: “Yes, but Nelson never returned from Trafalgar, did he?”

Capt. Picard: “No, but the battle was won.”

Guinan: “Do you expect this battle to be won?”

Capt. Picard: “We may yet prevail. That’s a… a conceit. But… it’s a healthy one. I wonder if the Emperor Honorius watching the Visigoths coming over the seventh hill truly realized that the Roman Empire was about to fall. This is just another page in history, isn’t it? Will this be the end of *our* civilization? Turn the page.”

I wish that I had the calmness, almost equanimity, with which Captain Picard views the possibility of approaching doom and the likely takeover of the United Federation of Planets by a heartless, merciless “race.” I cannot view a similar fate for our country without a feeling of utter dread.

“We may yet prevail” as Picard says, if by “prevail” one means that Hillary Rodham Clinton wins the Presidency. If that happens, in my humble opinion, we the sane will have only one night, possibly, to feel the relief of dodging a bullet. As long-time students of politics and human nature, particularly ‘American’ human nature, we Critters and Zoosters and other reality-based folks are all too well aware that a final election result which denies Donald Trump the Presidency is just the beginning. There inevitably will be a barrage of ‘bullets’, figuratively at best, to continue to dodge. And it may well “be the end of *our* ‘civilization’.”

Guinan offers hope of a sort:

Guinan: “This isn’t the end.”

Capt. Picard: You say that with remarkable assuredness.”

Guinan: “With experience. When the Borg destroyed my world, my people were scattered throughout the universe. We survived – as will humanity survive. As long as there’s a handful of you to keep the spirit alive, you will prevail – even if it takes a millennium.”

And while Guinan could be right, that “[t]his isn’t the end”, I wish that *our* people were able to scatter throughout the universe. “Humanity” may survive, but will it still be recognizable as “human”?

This is our daily Open Thread–talk me down?

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 14th, 2016: Cuteness Trumps Evil At The End

This weekend I OD’d on Trump. And jelly beans. I’m not sure which made me feel worse.

I refuse to watch any of the myriad videos of Hair Drumpf that have dominated the internets over the past, well, forever it seems. As I have mentioned in comments elsewhere, being a lifelong New Yorker means, in part, that we’ve been exposed to toxic levels of NY’s own version of Agent Orange since long before “Celebrity Apprentice” existed. Having long ago dismissed Drumpf à l’Orange as a loud-mouthed, self-important asshole, it’s frightening to see so many people taken in by this vulgar charlatan. Especially if one looks at his mouth. It appears to have been shaped over a lifetime of angrily hurling bullying insults and orders. How can anyone look at Drumpf “speaking” without being disgusted and horrified?

Here’s a shot from a thread at ThinkProgress:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump describes how he was ready to punch a person who rushed the stage during an election rally earlier in the day, as he speaks to a crowd in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Nati Harnik

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump describes how he was ready to punch a person who rushed the stage during an election rally earlier in the day, as he speaks to a crowd in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Nati Harnik

The next few are from various threads at Raw Story:

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Bloomington, Illinois, March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Bloomington, Illinois, March 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jim Young

Trump prepares to spit venom at Jake Tapper.

Trump prepares to spit venom at Jake Tapper.

A commenter at Raw Story posted this GIF.

A commenter at Raw Story posted this ‘Trump Snarling’ GIF.

But enough ugliness, even for a Monday. Here’s some cuteness to counteract the face if evil:
cat star

And perhaps a little tranquility for the end of the day:
SKYFIRE4V

This is our daily Open Thread – talk about whatever’s on your mind.

Sunday Roast: Can’t stop watching…

 

I admit it:  I can’t get enough of Drumpf getting the shit startled out of him when a protester made it past the security gates (although not on stage).  I wish I were more of a computer geek, so I could make a loop of the initial panicked grabbing of the podium, through the “I just want to go home” look when the secret service guys let him go back to inciting the crowd.

Drumpf was probably hoping they’d just rush him back onto the Drumpf Aeroplane, so he could he could have a bit of a crying jag — and then have his manservant bring him fresh drawers.  He talks tough, but I think he actually pissed himself in Dayton, OH.

You reap what you sow, you bombastic blibbering baboon.

This is our daily open thread — Watch it again!

 

The Watering Hole; Friday March 28 2014; Outrage

Courtesy of online dictionary, a partial definition:

out-rage:
noun
1. an act of wanton cruelty or violence; any gross violation of law or decency.
2. anything that strongly offends, insults, or affronts the feelings.
3. a powerful feeling of resentment or anger aroused by something perceived as an injury, insult, or injustice: Outrage seized the entire nation at the news of the attempted assassination.

That pretty much summarizes my opinion of each and every one of the policies which have come to define today’s Republican Party, aka the GOP aka the Tea Party aka the AFP (American Fascist Party). In brief summary, this is the American political party that does not give a tinker’s dam about ANYTHING that has ANYTHING to do with ANYTHING other than money and power. They care nothing for culture, for civilization, for we the people, for education, for science, for the environment, for wildlife, for _______ (fill in the blank with ANY word other than money, or power, and save me however many thousands of pages it would take to list everything in the universe that’s hated or dismissed as insignificant by Republicans).

While y’all are doing that, I’ll post here an account of the latest atrocity that’s causing my blood to boil. It’s brief, summarized in a few short paragraphs describing outrageous actions by Republicans in the state of Idaho, courtesy of the Center for Biodiversity. It reads (highlights their own):

Idaho’s official policy is that “wolf recovery efforts be discontinued immediately, and wolves be removed by whatever means necessary.” The state has already killed more than 300 wolves and now plans to ramp up the massacre, slaughtering another 500.

Idaho’s legislature created a new “Wolf Control Board” just days ago — made up of hunters and ranchers and funded with $400,000 of taxpayer money — to shoot, trap and gas the state’s last remaining wolves.

Though Idaho’s wolf population has plummeted by 42 percent since federal protection was stripped away, the state — left in charge of wolf “management” — wants to kill another 500 of these ecologically precious predators. That will drive their population down to an unsustainable level of just 150.

There is, of course, zero logical reason for such stupid and ridiculous wildlife policy other than the all-too-typical (and common) Republican hatred of virtually everything other than themselves, and the money and power they spend their respective lifetimes cultivating.

The next step, the only chance remaining for Idaho wolves, will be if the US Fish and Wildife “Service” should ultimately decide to follow the science (rather than the hatred) and restore the endangered species tag to wolves in the lower 48. Sounds like the obviously logical choice to be made, but then when Republicans have any input at all on most anything at all, the concept of ‘obviously logical’ goes flying out the window. Every freakin’ time.

OK, rant over. Hopefully the embedded message — that the Republican “philosophy” of death to everything and everyone but the rich and powerful is the absolutely WORST government option that this country could ever choose. Sadly, pretty close to fifty percent of the apparent electorate supports and even votes for such dirt. Wish I had available the means to make the needed repairs, but it’s probably far more simple to train a colony of sewer roaches to dress for dinner than it is to convince half the population that they’re voting only for their own destruction.

OPEN THREAD; ANY and ALL ANTI-GOP RANTS WELCOME!

The Watering Hole; Thursday October 17, 2013; “Democracy Under Assault”

In a recent Op-Ed on Truthout.org concerning the GOP-Tea Party economic agenda, longtime Professor of Economics Richard Wolff made note of an obvious and history-verified truism, that “Many Germans in the years before 1933 dismissed the little man with the mustache: He could never take power, let alone keep it.” They were, of course, woefully mistaken, and millions from around the world died in result. Are we about to find ourselves on that same cliff edge? True, we don’t seem to have, at least at this point in time, any little man with the mustache, but we surely do have far too many who appear to think much as he did. They call themselves the Tea Party, and to at least the casual eye they do indeed have a very similar agenda embedded within the shallowness of their self-imposed political and religious fanaticism, one that reads something like . . .

“An evil exists that threatens every man, woman, and child of this great nation. We must take steps to ensure our domestic security and protect our homeland.” (1)

It May Be Hard to Believe, But GOP Will Become Even More Extreme, Respected Political Forecasters Say.  So reads the title of an article written by Stephen Rosenfeld in which he discusses the conclusions reached by Stan Greenberg, James Carville and Erica Seifert in their recent analysis of a series of focus groups from three red states. Rosenfeld summarizes their findings by noting that the resulting “Democracy Corps report is an illuminating profile of the GOP’s three main factions: the Tea Partiers leading today’s brinkmanship, the evangelicals lining up behind them, and overlooked but still significant moderates. At the front of this stampede are right-wingers who believe they are fighting for political survival in an era where white-run America is vanishing and they’ve lost the culture war.” He also remarks with no equivocation that the “analysis portends that the Tea Partiers and Evangelicals, comprising more than half of the party, will ramp up the rhetoric, accuse Obama of tyranny and possibly even pursue impeachment.

On the broadest scale, it doesn’t require a lot of imagination to grasp the fact that the Tea Party’s Evangelical faction is a major driving force behind much of today’s GOP intransigence; attitudes can be contagious, after all, especially when goals are so simple to define. Their primary operating premise seems to be, simply stated, that the government should, and in fact must, accept that

“. . . its first and foremost duty [is] to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life.” (2)  [underscore added for emphasis]

Amanda Marcotte carries the Evangelical intransigent attitude thesis forward in her essay entitled, Four Reasons Right-Wing Christians Salivate for the End times.  She begins by noting that “While there’s much about the Christian right that’s difficult for the rest of us to understand, the preoccupation with the ‘end times’ is close to the top of the list.” She points out that Three out of four evangelicals believe Christ will return soon. This is, of course, mostly wishful thinking—they believe they’re seeing the end of the world because they want to see the end of the world. Why . . . ?”   According to Marcotte, their Four Reasons are:

1. They don’t think they’ll be around for the worst of it.
2. The end of the world would mean they get to have the last word.
3. It provides a distraction from and an excuse to avoid the real problems in the world.
4. They want to see the non-believers punished and themselves instated as the rightful rulers of all mankind.

After a brief analysis of each point, she posits that their “eagerness to see the non-believers punished is so strong in the Christian right that many are unwilling to wait until the so-called “Tribulation” described in the Left Behind books, and to a lesser degree the Bible, is upon us. That’s why, after any great tragedy, there is a rush of eager-beaver pastors willing to say this is what people have coming for being sinners . . .”

“If . . . we are decent, industrious, and honest, if we so loyally and truly fulfill our duty, then it is my conviction that in the future as in the past the Lord God will always help us.” (3)

“Democracy Under Assault”  is the title of a book (published in September of 2004 and summarized here) by author Michele Swenson. Its subtitle reads, “Theopolitics, Incivility and Violence on the Right.” The book is based on the not-so-elusive thesis that theology-based politics invariably see  Christianity as the foundation of our national morality and in so doing, disavow/dismiss science entirely — especially the science which underlies and defines evolution, environmentalism, the thesis that intelligent life may exist elsewhere in the universe than on the Earth — or, for that matter, any other ‘inconvenient’ (read: anti-Christian) science-based premise. Interesting that the book is every bit (if not more) ‘current’ today than it was upon its publication nine years ago; that fact tells a rather gruesome tale, it would seem.

A pair of 2006 reviews of the book on Amazon.com vividly demonstrate the intellectual divide that continues to run rampant in this country. A five-star review proclaims the book to be . . .

“An in-depth examination of the war against pluralistic democracy waged by an unholy alliance of religious nationalists, the hard-core gun lobby, corporate plutocrats and anti-tax, anti-government activists. The book describes the fractured church-state divide, assaults on the independent judiciary, resurrected nineteenth-century science and socioeconomic Darwinism, as well as the revisionist history marking the U.S. rightward political turn.”

And then there’s this one, a one-star review:

“This book saddened me to the depths….I finally had to discard it. I love my country and am heavy-hearted to read such hatred toward people of faith.”

In summary, who knows but what many might one day soon agree that the Tea Party and other factions defined as extreme right do indeed see themselves as convincing evidence that

“It makes no difference whatever whether they laugh at us or revile us, whether they represent us as clowns or criminals; the main thing is that they mention us, that they concern themselves with us again and again, and that we gradually in the eyes of the workers themselves appear to be the only power that anyone reckons with at the moment.” (4)

The last nearly three weeks of government shutdown — along with, of course, the technique of holding the nation’s economic future hostage (simply as an attempt to force the hand of those in government who actually understand they serve ALL of ‘We the people’ rather than just the Evangelical and Neofascist factions) — demonstrate with no hesitation that the United States finds itself, this day, in serious and perhaps even ultimately fatal trouble. Stated another way,

“The greatness of every mighty organization embodying an idea in this world lies in the religious fanaticism and intolerance with which, fanatically convinced of its own right, it intolerantly imposes its will against all others.” (5)

Time will tell.

Oh, and by the way, I purposely left the quotes numbered 1-5 above unattributed when presented in order to make perhaps a larger case, to ultimately offer a broadened summation, as it were, of the “Democracy Under Assault” thesis. In that vein, suffice to say that each and all are the verbatim words of one person only. And no, that person is not Pat Robertson, not Jerry Falwell, it’s not even Rafael “Ted” Cruz or Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin. Nope. The words belong solely to that “little man with the mustache,” Adolf Hitler. Political fanaticism, stoked by religious fanaticism, is apparently a permanently-recurring human condition/affliction, one that is currently underway in the United States courtesy of the melding of the Evangelical biblical literalists with the Fascist contingent of the GOP, those far right fanatics that proudly call themselves the Tea Party. Thus, the history of power acquisition via fear, via greed, is in the process of repeating once again. Here. Here where the attitude of the masses remains the traditional, where the process of “Democracy Under Assault” by political radicals and religious fanatics is by and large “dismissed” by we the people on the basis that they “could never take power, let alone keep it.”

And lest we forget or choose to ignore, here stands a rather vivid statement of method, words which will, with luck, serve to remind:

“(T)he determined gangster is always in a position to make political activity and efforts impossible for decent people. In the name of law and order, the state authority gives in to the gangster and requests the others please not to provoke him.  –Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf   [underscore added for emphasis]

Or, as above-noted Economics Professor Richard Wolff put it,

“The Republican-Tea Party alliance operates a weapon of mass deflection, protecting capitalism from criticism. Sadly, the Democrats neither expose nor attack the Republican project.[underscore added for emphasis]

For further information on the undercurrents which predict and precurse the evolution of democracy to fascism, see: Actung, sie verlassen JETZT den Americanischen Sektor.

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