Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Huckabase: Control of His Flock Is Slowly (Poof!) Disappearing.




One of the reasons that Christian Fundamentalism is on the wane may be that people have become tired of its "socially conservative" leaders. "Personality" may mean a lot to the American electorate, but dogmatism chips away at "personality" and leaves political (and even spiritual) supporters looking elsewhere for leadership. 

The "flock" thins out.

It has long been believed that sheep are very very dumb creatures. Actually, they are not, but from a human perspective, their flocking instinct (used for survival against predators) looks very stupid - tending to follow another sheep anywhere, even into dangerous, irrational territory.

"Feed my lambs, feed my sheep" has become a common metaphorical rule for pastors worldwide, but when looked at closely from a human standpoint, it becomes a tool to incite tyranny over others. In other words, a pastor must CONTROL his flock - and every aspect of it. In Biblical times, unfortunately (for sheep), sheep were considered dumb, the dumbest being the one that struck out on his own, because he had no cognizance of what might lay ahead of him. A shepherd usually wouldn't go after it, because leaving the flock alone might make it vulnerable to predators. In other words, individuality in the flock was frowned upon.The lone sheep was a pariah. Sound familiar?

Much of Christian Fundamentalism is concerned with control: if a pastor told his "flock" that not everything in the Bible is to be taken literally, there can be a loss of control. Literal interpretation of the Bible is paramount in keeping people in line. Absolute, God-written, control.

"God said it. I believe it. That settles it."


Huckabee The Lousy Shepherd

The bottom line? In a look further down the list, the contender who appears to be losing ground in Iowa is Mike Huckabee. He’s at only 5 percent in the new Quinnipiac poll, down from 11 percent in a comparable May survey. That sort of makes sense: Mr. Huckabee’s God, grits, and gravy populism isn’t that far off Trump’s anti-immigrant and bellicose positions.

In calling for civil disobedience to same-sex marriage, Huckabee virtually fenced in his flock. In supporting Josh Duggar in his scandal, he alienated them. His mild condemnation of Trump divided his flock. He did everything he could to make his flock vulnerable. 









Monday, July 13, 2015

The Trump Bump - To The Extreme Right. Will It Last?



Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump Trump

Exposure may be the key to the Donald Trump polls, but even more indicative to the numbers is the plethora of people running against him: latest count, 16. So, in a sense, it matters not that he is leading a pack of conservatives, but only that he has a handle on 15% of the GOP - for now.

It may be a severe case of xenophobia. Or admiration for trumped up power (sorry). Or a warped interpretation of a Rambo Jesus (Robert Jeffress, see below). Whatever the reason fueling the Trump Train, it's bound to sicken America: America has never suffered a case of xenophobia like this since 9/11. America has nevered lowered its standards for admiration quite like this. America has never pictured Jesus as a brash bully. 

Xenophobia Reigns!

As she has said in her book, Adios, America: "Immigration is how the Left decided to punish America." This is rabid xenophobia cloaked as patriotism. Coulter even has even been interviewed with an "Ann Coulter's America" banner for a show. It doesn't matter that Ann Coulter bashes everyone in "her" country but the worst xenophobes and racists (she once defended the CCC, the group Dylann Roof stated was his inspiration).

Coulter, of course, thinks Trump the best candidate for President because of his stance on immigration. She has never said what kind of job he would do on any other issues: his bullying attitude and total lack of statesmanship, for example, would disqualify America for any peace talks or foreign negotiations. Cowboy diplomacy didn't work for Bush and it certainly wouldn't work for someone like Trump.

Bigger! Better! More Gilding!

Trump's sense of power as opposed to real power has always been circumspect: his power is much less than that of the Wizard of Oz. Instead of "Pomp and Circumstance," his persona is more reminiscent of Billy Flynn in Chicago singing "Give 'em the ole razzle-dazzle." People who prize clown paintings on black velvet only know that Trump has billion$ and is seemingly successful with a bootstraps philosophy.

Reality check: Trump's worth is far lower that the $9 billion he says (current estimates at $4.1 billion). He has filed for corporate bankruptcy in 1991, 1992, 2004 and 2009. He was born into a well-to-do family and has never known what it's like to be middle class, much less poor: his father built a real estate empire through government financing programs as a result of FDR's New Deal.* In other words, his bootstraps were attached to silver spoons. 

Let's hope his fan base notices when the gilding wears off.

The Christian Right Is Right!

If Pope Francis is a pariah in the immigration debate to the Christian Right, then Trump is its Golden Boy. Furthermore, he shows only the faintest patina of compassion:
On Friday Trump introduced grieving relatives and declared: 'People came into the country illegally and killed their children. The illegals come in and the illegals kill their children.
Using victims' families as shameless political props is not compassion, but exploitation. But since his compassion is not the same kind as the progressive "bleeding heart" sanctuary churches, pastors like Robert Jeffress support Trump unequivocally: churches protecting immigrants following "Jesus of their imagination." Jesus, you see, said to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's (apparently forgetting that his church does not pay taxes). He was also a lot more than "meek and mild", rarely ever spoke of love and looked a lot like Silvester Stallone. Jeffress stopped short of calling Trump the Second Coming, but he put his imprimatur on Trump nonetheless. 

The 15%

So the 15% in GOP polls is comprised of xenophobes ala Ann Coulter, poor Tea-Partiers bedazzled by wealth and the Christian Right who doesn't like anyone coming into the States who can't give to their churches. 

This is a number that will dissolve as time goes by, but the hilarity will be thoroughly enjoyed (see David Letterman's latest Top 10).






*Alternet:

Trump was born in New York City in 1946, the son of real estate tycoon Fred Trump. Fred Trump’s business success not only provided Donald Trump with a posh youth of private schools and economic security but eventually blessed him with an inheritance worth an estimated $40 million to $200 million. It is critical to note, however, that his father’s success, which granted Donald Trump such a great advantage, was enabled and buffered by governmental financing programs. In 1934, while struggling during the Great Depression, financing from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) allowed Fred Trump to revive his business and begin building a multitude of homes in Brooklyn, selling at $6,000 apiece. Furthermore, throughout World War II, Fred Trump constructed FHA-backed housing for US naval personnel near major shipyards along the East Coast.

Editing Saint Sarah: Give The Guy A Gun To Shoot Himself



Yes, she's gone and written another pseudo-book, in pseudo-literary style. She had to, you see, because she is, after all, the gift that keeps on giving to late night talk show hosts and snarky writers like me. 

And yes, it's a "devotional." 
Joining the ranks of St. Theresa of Avila (The Way Of Perfection), The Book of Common Prayer, The Oxford Book of Prayer, and  Coffee With Jesus, Sarah Palin is penning one of the most noteworthy (if not collectable) inspirational books of modern times.  
That's how a fevered, overworked publicist might promote Sarah Palin's new book, Sweet Freedom: a Devotional, but a publicist less prone to use such overheated hyperbole just came up with this: 
Palin's book will include 260 meditations that use "biblical principles" to tackle contemporary issues, including economics, debt, social justice, marriage, parenting, human trafficking and more. 
The future publicist, however, may not have as much of a problem as Mrs. Palin's editor (or fleet of editors). Dealing with her, her commandment that absolutely nothing be edited in the first place because everyone wants to hear her unvarnished wisdom, her innovations ("Will the book light up? I read something about illuminated manuscripts.") and her insistence that God told her to write whatever she wanted. 

We can only guess what the editor has to struggle with. For example, the "list of meditations" might include:


I Can See God From My House
Meditating On The Divinity  Of A Mooseberger
The Bridge To Nowhere Was Really A Bridge To Somewhere In My Mind
Immaculate Conception Be Thou My Goal
Abstinence Is Not Only A Virtue, But A 
Divine Propaganda
and ...
The God-Given Brawl

And interspersed between these deep thoughts are Mrs. Palin's insights are absolutely de riguer on the matters of:

Economics: "Good economics starts at home - that's why every woman should take home economics courses in school." 

Marriage: "Children are the product of marriage. but marriage is not the product of children, unless there's a shotgun involved." 

Social Justice: "Whatever Glenn Beck hates"

Human trafficking: "It needs stoplights". 

Parenting: "Good parenting can't happen without good cash - and lots of it."

Before we take up a collection for the poor editor's psychiatry and hospital bills, we 
need to remind him/her that their profession was chosen - they were not born that way and they can choose to opt out of the project any time they want. 

I think I heard a door slam at Regnery.




Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Latest Blasphemy of Sarah Palin








NEW YORK, N.Y. - Sarah Palin has a new book coming out, with a new publisher.
Regnery Publishing, a conservative press based in Washington, D.C., announced Tuesday that it was planning a November release for Palin's "Sweet Freedom: A Devotional." The book, Palin's fourth, will feature 260 "meditations" that apply "biblical principles" to contemporary issues.
The former Alaska governor and GOP vice-presidential candidate published her other books, notably the million-selling "Going Rogue," through HarperCollins. Her most recent work, "Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas," came out in 2013.


Regnery Has always been a bastion of Christian Right thinking, but THIS?

What does Regnery have against thinking Christians? I pray for the poor editor who had to literally put it together!

Monday, July 6, 2015

All American Trump: Stranger In A Strange Land




From The Ugly American, by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer:

"For some reason, the [American] people I meet in my country are not the same as the ones I knew in the United States. A mysterious change seems to come over Americans when they go to a foreign land. They isolate themselves socially. They live pretentiously. They are loud and ostentatious."
Sound like anyone we know who's running for President?

Donald Trump seems to live in a foreign land, a land he does not really know, yet thinks he knows it implicitly. His bombast is aimed at that portion of Americans - the white, lower middle class wage earner who thinks that any man who says he's worth $6 billion is actually worth $6 billion. "The Apprentice" reality TV star and casino real estate mogul has so much to offer! In other words, Trump's base is most of the people who watch - and believe - Fox News.
"Trump, who believes that excess can be a virtue, is as American as Manhattan's skyline," wrote George Will. Of course, that was in the "greed is good" 80s. Trump's brand of Americanism is not as well respected today.

How well does Trump know America? He may know its crudeness, but not its sensitivities. He may know its bootstraps mentality, but not its compassion for the downtrodden. He may know its excesses, but not necessities.

He may know - and count on - some of its gullibility, but not its skepticism.

Banking On The Gullibility Factor

But Trump is second in the national polls! How can that be? Perhaps it's the gullibility factor that helped elect George W. Bush to a second term. But whereas half of America was blinded by shallow patriotism, right-wing voters are blinded by bravado.

Temporarily.

Sean Hannity should know, since he shares that bravado: “Donald Trump is telling a truth that you cannot stand. …Donald Trump is right!” His defense of Trump's "Mexican Rapist Speech" as it is could be called, is a show of solidarity for Trump's lack of knowledge of America. Hannity is no stranger to the kind of arrogance that makes up an ugly American.*

"The Republican clown car finally has a driver"

The bravado of Trump - the persona of a chest-thumping martinet - has begun to wear thin: his "who's doing the raping?" interview with CNN's Don Lemon proved to be nothing more than a shout back to a legitimate question.** And his "proof" - a woman in San Francisco killed by an illegal immigrant in what is described as a "random act of violence" - only proves that The Donald will shamelessly exploit just about anything for his kind of stereotyping.

His insistence that he and only he can secure the border, he and only he can create more jobs, he and only he can defeat ISIS will ultimately bore the American public who will hear his bloviations mocked repeatedly on late night shows.






Jay Dupless:
PLEASE let Don King be Trump's running mate!



And the DNC chimed in:

"Today, Donald Trump became the second major Republican candidate to announce for president in two days," DNC national press secretary Holly Shulman said in a statement. "He adds some much-needed seriousness that has previously been lacking from the GOP field, and we look forward to hearing more about his ideas for the nation."

Seth Meyers was way ahead of the game at a previous White House Correspondence Dinner (note Trump's stoic, humorless profile)



Bombast For President

How far will Trump's ego go on the campaign trail? Will it ever demure to serious questions? Will it ever address criticisms with anything but pompous anger? Will it admit to shortcomings? The fact that the answer is "No!" to all of these means that Trump will continue to entertain like some street lunatic screaming at a wall.

A wall he doesn't even know is there.


*Remember when Andrew Cuomo said that anti-gay conservative extremists had no place in New York, Hannity declared that he would leave. Jon Stewart of the Daily Show produced one of the best of mock pleas for Hannity not to leave ending with Nathan Lane saying, "Honestly, Sean, we don't give a f*ck what you do."

** Trump's statistics - a Fusion article that stated up to 80% of women coming into the U.S. from Central America have been victims of rape - had nothing to do with illegal immigrant crime.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I'm Still Here: Survival As Self-Inspiration





When in support group last week, we talked about pain and death. The discussion began with those two topics and went on to coping mechanisms. My mind, however, stayed on the original subjects, forcing me to count the number of deaths in my life, the amount of physical pain, intensity of emotional anxiety, the number of triumphs as well as the number of tragedies.

I've often said that I've lived three lives. And while I haven't been traditionally married and raised children, or been in the military, my life experiences as a gay man and passing through the Age of AIDS have led me to look upon "normal" lives as fraught with less hills and valleys than mine.

I counted ... and counted ... and counted ... the good as well as the bad. 20 different jobs ranging from go-go dancer to broadcaster. 40 years of various pains caused by congenital double scoliosis (causing a mild limp and therapy such as nightly traction for my neck). 1 year (and counting) of married bliss  after two beautiful years of "courtship". 50 riot-helmeted policemen facing me down during San Francisco's White Night Riots. 4 doctors looking at me while telling them to take my mother off dialysis so that she could die quickly and painlessly. 50 yards away from home when being shot at. 30 children in San Francisco's dangerous Bayview district seated regularly after school.* 400-500 people signed up for the AIDS Emergency Fund during the worst epidemic years. 5 years of organizing a Christmas party and toys for 400 children with AIDS. 15 deaths of family. 20 deaths of friends. 25 deaths of acquaintances. 1 published autobiography. 9 months with an extremely bi-polar lover. 2 gunshots reported every week for 5 years. 2 cavities in my teeth (really!). 38 years of HIV. 11 years of caregiving. 7 years of blogging on religion and politics. 

When we all "checked out", I thanked the group for the realization that through it all ...

I'm still here. 

I'm still here.  As with most people, the bad times melded with the good times in a bewildering collage. The good times can be as draining as the bad, but I haven't bowed to the pressure of either. Neither have I been completely worn out.* 

I'm not looking for praise or sympathy from others, but survival needs self-praise and self-sympathy and only with those two, can you continue to survive. I thought about the song from Follies, sung so eloquently and meaningfully by beautiful Yvonne de Carlo:



Yes, sheer survival can be self-inspiration to keep on living. We all admire survivors - people who have persevered through great odds.

But odds are definitely relative and profoundly individual: like fingers prints, pain and sorrow are unique to every individual. Living life can be inspirational - self-inspirational, if you will. Look at your own life, the sad times as well as the happy ones and if you've survived through it all, give yourself a pat on the back and a tear from your heart: you're still here.



* Subsequently awarded the Jefferson Award for Community Service.

*The great actor George Sanders' (d. age 66) suicide note (wikipedia):

"Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck."
David Niven wrote in Bring on the Empty Horses (1975), the second volume of his memoirs, that in 1937 his friend George Sanders had predicted that he would commit suicide when he was 65, and that in his 50s he had appeared to be depressed since his marriages had failed and several tragedies had befallen him.

Friday, June 26, 2015

BREAKING: SCOTUS Backs Marriage Equality. UPDATE: Right-Wing Fake MLK Heads Explode Over Possibility Of Civil Disobedience







Yeah, I know Hannity and Coulter didn't call for civil disobedience - talk about fun with Windows Moviemaker! What a joy to see their heads explode!



Yes, heads are exploding,there is great wailing and gnashing of teeth (dentists: be on the ready), and rending of Walmart garments. Pastors will be thrown into dungeons! Civil war will break out with huge casualties! Texas will secede from the Union (let's hope). Disasters aplenty will devastate the entire earth! Civilization will be ending fairly soon.

From Right Wing Watch:

In anticipation of the upcoming Supreme Court ruling, we’ve compiled a video of the Right’s most dire warnings about a potential decision striking down gay marriage bans, including self-proclaimed “prophet” Cindy Jacobs' fear that gay marriage will lead to natural disasters; preacher Scott Lively predicting a devastating “calamity”; Glenn Beck turning into the anti-gay version of Martin Luther King, Jr.; Tony Perkins calling for a revolution against gay marriage; and Pat Robertson, well, being Pat Robertson.
That's right - Glen Beck will be the next Martin Luther King, Jr! As will Mike Huckabee, Tony Perkins, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz ... all the people who absolutely detest the Supreme Court for being so dastardly as to "redefine" marriage. They will lead demonstrations, sit-downs and marches.

Just what city, they'll pick to define their Selma moment is yet to be determined. Charleston? Maybe. After all, same-sex marriage has been blamed for everything, why not use Charleston as a starting point? They could dare to be outrageous and pick San Francisco, but the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence might spoil it by turning it into a fundraiser for the AIDS Emergency Fund.





The Civil Disobedience Schtick
The Southern Baptist Convention closed out this week's annual meeting by issuing a formal call for civil disobedience against same-sex marriage. The statement was issued jointly by current SBC president Ronnie Floyd and 16 former SBC presidents.

However, the SBC has riled its base by trying to ban the Confederate flag instead of the rainbow flag. Not good timing. And a bit confusing for some of the good ole boys who still believe that Jesse Helms was really God.

It's The Stupid Martyrdom, Stupid!
E.W. Jackson:

I don’t know what’s going to happen to us for the stand that we’re taking, but I think I can say for every one of us, we will give our lives standing for the truth.
In the early days of Christianity, martyrdom was considered the fast track to heaven and some people actually sought it out for themselves. After people kept avidly feeding themselves to lions (rhetorically), Christian leaders put a stop to the practice. Legitimate martyrdom became while self-induced martyrdom became, well, stupid. The brouhaha over homosexuals getting married has resulted in a martyrdom of the Christian Right's own making, causing it to look very, very foolish.

Article headlines like the one below have shown how ridiculous CR politicians are willing to look:

President Santorum Will Protect Children From Gay Marriage

Pockets of Violence
Stupidity begets violence, however. And the rhetoric coming from the right comes dangerously close:

Garlow said that Staver, the Liberty Counsel attorney who has called for mass civil disobedience and a revolution to stop gay marriage, will be “speaking on a topic that most of us didn’t want to hear about, and that’s when biblical obedience translates into civil disobedience and we become an underground resistance movement.”
The phrase "underground resistance movements" smacks of violence. The wounded tiger of the Christian Right is still alive. The next media focus will be on the violence that ensues (eventually) in pockets of the country.

Let's hope that the stupidity doesn't last too long.