Wednesday, December 30, 2020

What Is Conservatism?

 

Here are two things we know. We know change is a natural universal constant. And we know conservatism resists it, even though conservatism itself goes through changes.

Those changes have been for the worst, especially during the past few years. Conservatism has spawned Trumpism.

There are hardly any moderate Republicans left in the federal government. Except for Mitt Romney, they have shown no sense of decency and conscience in their lock-step loyalty to Trump and desire for power.

Were conservatives always this way? 

What is conservatism? What are its values and purpose? 

We know what it isn’t.

Political conservatism isn't much of a philosophy, but professes to be.

It isn’t religion, but usually comes wrapped in it. Institutional religions and especially fundamentalist sects are generally conservative in nature, depending on their greed/charity ratio.

It isn’t patriotism, but claims it as its own.

It isn’t necessarily tradition, but is presented as such.

It isn't even much of an ideology, unless the status quo is defended as the ideal. But conservatives are good with change that benefits them, or empowers them politically.

It’s flexible. It is dogma. It is belief. It is authoritarian.

So what are conservatism’s values and purpose?

If it promotes the well being of our population, fairness, equal rights under law, democracy, and rule by consent of the governed, then it is good. Religion is also a good thing for conservatives when it helps them treat their fellow human beings better. Faith should be a personal matter for those it benefits. They should try to understand why the founders wanted no state religion, that faith should be a guide in our private lives, rather applied to government policy and the law.

Some conservatives have these values, shared by liberals and our nation’s founders. These are traditional American values, forged while the conservative Tories opposed our Revolution.

In the first four score and seven years of the republic, many conservatives with a conscience opposed slavery, alongside progressive abolitionists.

Some conservatives thought it was right to let women vote.

But more often conservatism is mindless embrace of tradition over progress, as long as tradition includes the status quo. Not coincidentally, but conveniently, the status quo serves the interests of the wealthy, and their power to suppress democracy, equality and the general welfare of the people. 

Wealthy conservative Southern white men waged war on the US to preserve slavery. They did their best to suppress voting rights of the former slaves after the war. 

Tragically this conservative tradition lingers. 

Today’s conservatism rejects fair elections and fair representation while it constantly seeks ways to suppress voters, especially minority voters.

As we’ve seen over the years, the Republican Party made some serious reversals on minority issues.

They are definitely more conservative than ever. In fact, American conservatism has been significantly radicalized over the last few decades. Social media and the Right's vast propaganda network have succeeded in pushing conservatism further to the right than its ever been in U.S. history.

We’re told by some voices on the far Right that Republican policies are not “real conservatism”, because of corporate subsidies and other market involvement. Not that any of them complain about it. They’re too busy resenting welfare for the poor and needy.

Be that as it may, all Republicans say they are conservative and “real conservatives” empower the Republican Party.

Historically conservatism has tended to be authoritarian in nature. It has embraced and served monarchy, aristocracy, slavery, capital punishment, theocracy, fascism, empire and autocracy, and now Trumpism.

It’s been marked by an entrenched, closed minded resistance to democracy, racial and gender equality, labor rights, women’s reproductive rights, social safety nets and humanitarian progress. 

Conservatism has values beyond fundamentalist evangelical religious dogma. Conservatives tend to revere wealth and the wealthy. They invoke their infallible "free market" god that defends, abets or tolerates all of those authoritarian institutions listed above.

What did Jesus say about taxes, the rich, and serving mammon? Conservatives would generally prefer not to discuss this.

One thing valued by conservatives is freedom. Or at least their interpretation of freedom. Some believe Constitutional taxes are “tyranny”. Some of the more delicate and over-sensitive ones think wearing a mask during a pandemic is a loss of freedom. They don’t seem aware, or care, that spreading a virus, disease, and death has an even greater impact on others’ freedom. 

Libertarians and other conservatives love their Second Amendment “liberty”, but have little use for protesters’ First Amendment rights to challenge racism, vote suppression, theocracy, corporate malfeasance and authoritarianism.

Too many conservatives are now openly hostile to a free press, siding with Trump and accusing the press of being “enemies of the people”. “Liberal media” and “fake news” didn’t go far enough to demonize journalism. This has always been an underlying conservative attitude towards dissent and questions about their intentions and methods.  But they love their state media and their bias for Trump. That’s different. Only pro-Republican propaganda becomes “good journalism” in their view.

How’s that for "Constitutional liberty” and a “free press”? Do they care that Trump admitted to CBS's Lesley Stahl, “You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.”

We recall the second Bush administration promoted a new “compassionate conservatism”. Then it promptly started a war based on lies, imprisoned people without charges, and tortured them.

Since 9-11 right-wing terrorism has been as deadly as Jihadist terrorism in the US. Both embrace their respective hypocritical and radical religious conservatism.

Speaking of terrorist activity, what happened after Trump tweeted, "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!"?

Radical Right terrorists were inspired to plot the kidnapping and murder of Michigan's Governor Whitmer. This is the dark side of conservatism.

The truth is, conservatism has rarely advanced compassion of any sort. Too many “other people” don’t deserve it. Let them eat cake.

Now under the dark shadows of Trumpism, former President George W. Bush's speechwriter David Frum noted, "If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win democratically, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject democracy.”

And they have done just that.

“Stop the steal” has become their crazed projection in their attempt to overturn our fair election. To them, Constitutional impeachment was a “coup”, but destroying our democracy for a tyrant is “liberty”.

Their glaring hypocrisy was also displayed by Mitch McConnell’s flagrant disrespect for his constitutional duty to vote on Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court appointment. He shut it down because an election was 8 months away. “Let the people decide”. That went out the window when he rammed through Amy Barrett’s appointment to the court a week before the 2020 election.

Treachery, hypocrisy, greed, and conservatism have always been partners in authoritarianism.

If I may expand on Frum’s assessment, ”If conservatives become convinced that they cannot win by facts and reason, they will not abandon conservatism. They will reject facts and reason.”

Firm conservative beliefs rarely yield to facts and reason. The Right will even redefine words to fit their viewpoint. Now the Democratic Party is the “socialist party”.

And that is how they shut down dialogue 

Since good faith discussion is impossible with hard-core conservatives, they cannot be trusted to act in good faith. They always serve wealth and the wealthy over the public good. Given the opportunity, they will take food stamps and healthcare from the poor, and give tax cuts to the rich every time.

Today’s conservatives cannot be trusted with the safety and well-being of the people. Those were never their priorities.

It has become a cult that breeds division, bigotry, racism, sexism, greed, militarism, and nationalism. Trumpism and QAnon are its latest toxic sects.

I understand not all conservatives have fallen into the authoritarian dark side. A lot of them can see Trumpism threatens our democracy, decency, government and norms. I’m afraid they are a shrinking minority under the Party of Trump. The far Right has essentially taken the Republican Party, and recruited it into their open war on our elections and democracy.

Let it be clear, and let's take their word for it. The radical far Right claims to be conservative. Neo-fascism and racism are dominant forces in the new conservatism.

I would hope this would induce rational, honest and decent conservatives to prefer to be called moderates. Many are doing just that.

Bush and Cheney, and now Trump and the alt-Right, have exposed the lie behind the conservative trappings of "values", personal responsibility, honesty, decency, kindness, compassion, and fairness. 

None of these are essential to conservatism. Wealth, power and control are all that matter.

 

Friday, December 4, 2020

The Four "R's"

 

It’s simple, really.

The Four "R's" of Republican Party propaganda and ideological control are Religion, Rifles, Racism, and Resentment. 

Triggering and manipulating these emotional hot buttons among uneducated, uninformed and misinformed Americans is the key to Republican power.

First they convince them they are being wronged and ignored, and tell them who to blame. The "others". Minorities, liberals. Democrats, Blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, journalists, educators, scientists, socialists, commies, etc. (All eventually heaped into the latter two "others".) 

An instilled sense of victimhood bonds and unites them against the "others". Nationalism restores pride and identity.

Next the opposition is demonized as hating freedom, or even America itself. They invoke inflated "threats to liberty" and loss of safety, Fearing the others is critical.

Then they will point to "moral decay" (typically ethnic or urban in nature), and say "Our values are under attack". Moral superiority must be certain, as loathing the others is justified.

Finally they offer protection with a moralistic veneer. "Law and order", "national security" and "freedom of religion" (Christian only) are nobly defended, and graciously offered to salve their anxieties. 

It works. 

Fear, lies and ignorance are as contagious as covid, and have built a massive cult.

It gets Republicans enough votes to significantly advance the far Right’s agenda, which is to undermine democracy, and to dismantle Constitutional taxes, Constitutional regulation of commerce and Constitutional provision for the general welfare.  

And they have won spectacularly. Never mind it has resulted in the pandemic deaths of thousands of Americans due to negligence and outright malfeasance.

It has resulted in expanding obscene levels of private wealth and corporate dominance of our government They have their theocratic, corporate-owned Supreme Court, as they arrogantly wage open warfare on our elections. 

That's all they have ever cared about. 

Monday, November 23, 2020

Words They Avoid

 

The far Right and its conservative Trump Republicans, being conservative Trump Republicans, are easily identified by their rhetoric. Their words of resentment, anger, blame, and hatred loudly convey lies, racism, and outright delusional extremism. 

Conversely they are also identifiable by their avoidance of certain words, terms and phrases.

There are some significant words that are nearly totally absent from their vocabulary. Many are clearly excluded from Trump’s boast, “I have the best words”. I’m trying in vain to recall the times I’ve seen or heard certain words and terms from the far Right.

We’ve certainly seen their reactions when others mention their forbidden words.

Let’s review some of the least mentioned words, terms, and phrases from the far Right conservative Trump Republicans.

~~~~~

Democracy: The first to spring up is democracy. “Democracy” is the unspoken name of their most feared demon and mortal enemy. They show us every day how little use they have for that word. “America isn’t a democracy! The Founders said it was dangerous!” 

Equality: Equality is the second rarest word in the cult bubble of the radical Right. They want none of that. “Who sez them gays, Mexicans, Muslims, and urban Blacks are EQUAL to us rural whites?? Not in MY Amerka!”

Progress. “Can’t have that. Sounds too progressive.”

Community. “Nope, because Communism.”

Social Security. (Mentioned only to dismantle or privatize.)

Social Justice. “More Communism. Look! Rioters!”

Social Responsibility. “That’s as commie as social justice. Socialist losers wear masks.”

Personal Responsibility. (Pre-covid self-righteousness.) “Masks violate our rights! Let’s party at the bar, gather at church the next day, and take the whole family to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving.”

Society. “No such thing. Another commie notion.”

Unity: “Unity is for losers, not tough loners who built America all by themselves.”

Pollution/Polluters. “Quick, look over there! Antifa!”

Truth. “Alternative facts” are preferred. As Giuliani said “Truth isn’t truth”.

Evidence. “Schmevidence.”

Documentation. “Fake news!”

Journalism. “Enemy of the people”.

Global Warming. “Sunspots. Fake science. Not MY problem.”

Scientific Consensus. “Non-existent.” "Needs more study." (Or whatever fossil energy corporations pay for.)

White Collar Crime. “Look over there! BLM Looters!”

The Right to Vote. “A threat to our power. Our duty is to obstruct and deny this for minorities.”

Police Brutality. “Extremely rare.” And, “Bad cops are always punished fairly.”

Institutional Racism. “BLM are the real racists.”

White Nationalism. “No such thing!" "I am a Western Chauvinist, and I refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.”*

American Bar Association Qualified Judges. “Corporate-friendly, political and theocratic correctness only. Ideological purity is all that matters”.

Higher Education. “Marxist indoctrination!”

Medicare. “Commie free stuff.”

The Right to Public Healthcare: “Insurance company profits matter more than the people’s health.”

The Right to Public Education: “More commie brainwashing. Corporate charter schools or religious education only.”

Everything Jesus said about the rich, paying taxes, loving your neighbor, and giving to the poor. “Jesus sent Trump to save America! If you don’t vote for Trump, you’re not a Christain!”

Constitutional taxes, regulation of commerce, and provision for the general welfare. “It’s all Communism! Not in MY Second Amendment Only Constitution.”

Last but not least, Compassion. This is a theme that is obviously connected to too many of those other words to be avoided above. 

* White Nationalist “Proud Boys” initiation oath.

~~~~~

Good faith dialogue and compromise are shut down because these terms are ignored. When not ignored, they are arrogantly re-defined to conform to their radical Right bias.

They bought the Big Lie and believed their Big MAGAt when he said, “Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what's happening.” 

The Big MAGAt became Big Brother, as predicted by George Orwell in “1984”:  “The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command...And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth.”

How could anyone possibly reason with them? Are we under an Orwellian curse? “The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history.”

Can a semblance of conservative ethics and honesty ever be restored? Or have these values been permanently sacrificed at the altar of the Trump Cult?

Orwell grimly concluded, "A generation of the unteachable is hanging upon us like a necklace of corpses."

He understood the destruction of language is a powerful propaganda tactic and method of control by a dictatorship. In 1984, O’Brien of the Thought Police explains to Winston Smith between torture sessions, “It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words...Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?”

“Narrow the range of thought.” 

This seems to summarize the creed and operating principle of the far Right and its conservative Trump Republicans.

Credit is due. A vast gullible cult proves they have succeeded beyond their wildest expectations.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Fed Up

 The Republican Party is the greatest threat to the Republic. 

The Trump Reich hates the same people and principles Hitler's Third Reich hated.

I can't stand intolerance.

I despise hatred.

I'm biased against bigots.

Angry people piss me off.


Anybody got a problem with that?

Monday, November 16, 2020

The Party of Trump

The loser of the presidential election tweeted: “I WON THE ELECTION!”

No, he didn’t. This is just another fascist Big Lie. 

This deluge of extremist lies started decades ago with angry accusations of "liberal media", that soon morphed into, "Liberals hate America" and racist birtherism.

And speaking of jackboot-style fascism, we recall “Second Amendment remedies” were invoked by Republicans when Obama was president.

Then came the rallies, with hateful chants of, "Lock her up!"

In 2016 Trump suggested,"Second Amendment people" could "do" something about Hillary Clinton.

Last year Trump boasted, "I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad."

After Trump tweeted, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN”, MAGA terrorists plotted to kidnap and kill the governor of Michigan.

Sunday night, in response to Governor Whitmer’s new covid safety protocols, Trump’s pandemic “advisor” Scott Atlas tweeted: “The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept. #FreedomMatters #StepUp” 

Dr. Mengele wasn't the last evil medical doctor. 

They are now reptilian Republicans.

Let's be clear. All of these Republicans are instigating terrorism, and party leadership will not condemn these remarks.

The term Stochastic Terrorism best describes the far Right/Republican incitement of political violence:

Stochastic Terrorism was first noted here: 1. The use of mass communication to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable. 2. Remote-control murder by lone wolf.

And Dictionary.com says Stochastic Terrorism is: the public demonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act, which is statistically probable but whose specifics cannot be predicted:The lone-wolf attack was apparently influenced by the rhetoric of stochastic terrorism.

Lest anyone assume I’m exaggerating the threat of Trump’s stochastic terrorism, ABC News found 54 cases invoking Trump in connection with violence, threats, and alleged assaults.

This is the American Right today.

The Party of Trump:

 

No bar too low.

No lie too big.

No heart too cold.

No mind too small.

No hate too intense.

 

Every elected Republican is an enemy of truth, democracy and equality. Fascism is the only possible endgame behind their authoritarian contempt for these values.


Saturday, November 7, 2020

A Beautiful Day


It's a beautiful day for democracy! Corporate media, including FOX(R), have finally made the call for Biden.

Remember the MAGAts gloating, "Make them cry again"?

Who's crying now?

The jury of American voters is finally having its final impeachment votes counted. We the People “hereby claim” Trump as the LOSER. He will be removed from office.

Let’s celebrate our limited victory, but be clear in this perspective.

We need to understand the Right will never stop their voter suppression. They will never surrender in their war on democracy. Fascism is always lurking in the resentments and anger of white nationalism. Corporate interests will always try to dominate our government. Hatred and division will always be stoked by Republicans and the far Right. As long as the Senate is controlled by Republicans we will have nothing close to a representative republic.

"Consent of the governed" is in the Declaration of Independence. The founders blew it with their compromise with slave states that produced the electoral college. Alexander Hamilton was prophetically correct in the Federalist Papers #22 when he condemned the inequality of the Senate:

The right of equal suffrage among the States is another exceptionable part of the Confederation. Every idea of proportion and every rule of fair representation conspire to condemn a principle, which gives to Rhode Island an equal weight in the scale of power with Massachusetts, or Connecticut, or New York; and to Delaware an equal voice in the national deliberations with Pennsylvania, or Virginia, or North Carolina. Its operation contradicts the fundamental maxim of republican government, which requires that the sense of the majority should prevail.

American democracy was hobbled from the beginning by a template for minority rule.

Yes, the Declaration of Independence called for "consent of the governed", but that "went south" from the get-go. The founders assured we wouldn't have an equitable, representative democratic republic when they imposed the undemocratic electoral college and the highly unrepresentative and imbalanced Senate.

Those ill-conceived notions along with slavery have become a long time curse on our nation that haunts us to this day.

The enemies of democracy are not defeated. Economic royalists with their corruption and reactionary politics will not disappear after Trump moves from the White House to prison or Moscow.

The warning about Hitler from Bertold Brecht still applies: "Don't yet rejoice in his defeat, you men! Although the world stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again.”

We need to be as unrelenting in defense of democracy as the Right is in dismantling it.

Our struggle against the enemies of democracy, domestic fascism, and radical Right terrorism will be our longest war.


Saturday, October 31, 2020

Democracy’s Last Stand?

On this last weekend before the 2020 election, I have collected some of my more relevant comments, tweets, notions and commotions that apply to what may well be Democracy’s Last Stand.

First I want to discuss what is and isn’t on the ballot.

Yes, what’s left of democracy is on the ballot. We have the chance to diminish the party of corporate elites and polluters, and remove an authoritarian narcissistic sociopath from the White House. Being a tyrannical autocrat and sociopath makes him a very dangerous enemy to democracy and equality. In addition to these characteristics his racism and white nationalism don’t reveal much daylight between him and the fascists of the 20th Century.

We can vote out a totally corrupt party that has been actively waging war on democracy and equality. “Profit over people” is a warped priority that needs to be taken out of national, state, and local politics. The Republican Party’s suppression of voter rights is in itself a path to fascism.

What ISN’T on the ballot is Marxism, communism, or socialism, or even democratic socialism.

Anyone who screams “Marxism”, “socialism” and “communism” at Democrats or progressives has no idea what they are talking about, or they are a liar.

The historical background behind the warped perspective of American conservatism is not surprising. Their paranoid and delusional notions of “socialism” are traceable back to Southern white resentments after the Civil War, to conservative anger over FDR’s New Deal, and Social Security and Medicare. The word “socialism” was in use before Karl Marx developed his ideas for the “Communist Manifesto”.

“The term ‘socialism’ first appeared in November 1827 in the Co-Operative Magazine, an organ of the Association of London Co-operative Unions, and became generally used in the 1830s.”

Modern American democratic socialism is basically the same thing that was summed up in an old Republican notion. A government of, by, and for the people. It’s never been about Marxist government ownership of all land, property, industry, manufacturing, and agriculture. We just don’t want our national forests and public lands to be untaxed corporate assets for strip mining and clear cutting. Conservation and environmental stewardship for future generations are not communism. They are principles that value the natural world and human life and well being.

We don’t want unaccountable polluters and corporate and banking elites buying the government and writing the laws of our land. We want healthcare as a basic right, not a profit generating machine to fill the pockets of insurance company CEOs and shareholders.

Democratic socialism bears no resemblance to a one-party communist dictatorship. Only a cult brainwashed by fascists would believe such nonsense.

Democratic socialism is what we envision and propose for a government that works for the people, not the powerful. We cannot allow the radical Right to define democratic socialism. They will lie.

 “The wide range of interpretations and definitions of socialism across the political spectrum, and the lack of a common understanding of what socialism is or how it looks in practice reflects its complicated evolution.”

Democratic socialism is about we the people, not we the states, or we the corporations. It is about fair elections and proportional representation. It’s about a government that works for the public good, not for corporate profits. Only fair elections can rectify the imbalance of power held by economic elites over our governments and public policy.

We need to remember the Electoral College that undermines our democracy exists only because it was a compromise by the founders to bring the slave states into the new nation.

Southern white conservatism has always been a drag on the soul of the country.

Being a tyrannical autocrat, and sociopath makes Trump a very dangerous enemy to democracy and equality. In addition to these characteristics, his racism and white nationalism don’t reveal much daylight between him and the fascists of the 20th Century. The Republican Party’s war on voter rights is in itself a path to fascism.

If Trump is given a pass by voters, HE will become a far worse fascist. And the gate will still be wide open for the next one. Our Hitler must not be made chancellor/fuhrer.

The Dear Leader says if he loses, that means the election is rigged. What retaliation does he and his armed mob of thugs have in mind when he loses? The cult is either too blind to see, or just doesn't care. This is a blatant threat to our democracy.

America's worst president will soon be its sorest loser. If there's any justice he'll go to prison, like fellow traitor Jefferson Davis. Prison or not, his cult will be furious, and he will instigate more far Right terrorism. I hate American Nazis.

Trump and his cult are proof that truth and democracy have essentially expired as conservative American values. Now they are fascists. Yesterday a caravan of Trump-flagged vehicles swarmed a Biden campaign bus on I-35 outside Austin Texas.

One of them swerved into a Democrat's escort vehicle. This is terrorism inspired by Trump, and promoted by Trump. Along with gloating about it at a rally, he tweeted a video of his thugs' terrorism proclaiming, "I LOVE TEXAS".

Did I say I hate American Nazis?

Then there's the final Trump Conservative debate point: "I don’t have to listen to you. I know more about what you think than you do, and I know it is bad. I know all I need to know. I don’t care about your journalists, educators, scientists, doctors, logic, facts and evidence. And I don’t answer questions."

Just don’t call them stupid.

Woman Trump Supporter upset over Hunter Biden:

“That’s right. Nepotism needs to be looked into big time.”

Jordan Klepper: “Yes! What do you think of Ivanka?”

Woman Trump Supporter: “Oh, she’s so gracious!”

Republicans have been waging war on democracy since Reagan adviser Paul Weyrich said, “We don’t want everybody to vote. When everybody votes we lose.”

Christian Trump voters: How does Trump follow the teachings of Jesus? Are giving tax cuts to the rich, and cutting food stamps for the poor what Jesus wants? What did Jesus say about taxes and the rich? Why does Jesus want us to vote for a hateful liar and servant of mammon?

All Republicans are enemies of democracy and equality. Every Republican needs to be defeated for anything resembling democracy and equality to survive.

The US is between a rock and a hard place. As long as there are Republicans, they will wage war against democracy and equality. As long as Democrats are bound by corporate tethers, they will never suppress the Right's expanding fascism.

Without authoritarian personalities, racists, bigots, idiots and greedheads, Trump’s base would melt into insignificance.

Understand this reality: Conservative Republicans are convinced that they cannot win by fair elections, facts and reason. They will not abandon conservatism. They will reject fair elections, facts and reason. Conservatism requires none of these. Voter suppression IS American conservatism.

Authoritarian followers vote for authoritarian leaders. How can we know they are authoritarians? They vote for the leader who threatens to imprison opponents and says, “Knock the crap out of them. I will pay the legal fees.”

 

And:

 

Elections, taxes, regulation of commerce, and provision for the general welfare are in the Constitution. If the Founders didn’t like socialism and democracy, why did they put them in the Constitution?

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Antifa Jesus, Socialist Pope?

 



I may be a lapsed Catholic, but my morals and values have stood firm over the decades, without guidance from religious leaders. However I’m still interested in what the Pope has to say about important issues that we all face.


Pope Francis appears to be our most socialist and environmentalist pope yet.


Here are a few of his statements from the past several years.


While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules...We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf ... has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose."


 Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.


 Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.


In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.


 One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies


 In October 2014 the Pope said, “An economic system centered on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it...The system continues unchanged, since what dominates are the dynamics of an economy and a finance that are lacking in ethics. It is no longer man who commands, but money. Cash commands...The monopolizing of lands, deforestation, the appropriation of water, inadequate agro-toxics are some of the evils that tear man from the land of his birth. Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness.”


 In 2015 the Koch-funded Heartland Institute sent a team of “climate scientists” to Rome to inform Pope Francis of the truth about climate science: “here is no global warming crisis!”


 On May 16, 2015 Pope Francis told a group of diplomats gathered at the Vatican, “We have created new idols...the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal.”


 In February of this year, Pope Francis said, “Structures of sin today include repeated tax cuts for the richest people, often justified in the name of investment and development; tax havens for private and corporate profits, and the possibility of corruption by some of the largest companies in the world, often in tune with some dominant political sector.”

 

It would seem the Catholic men on the Supreme Court, and the woman recently appointed, along with all the Catholic Trump voters haven’t heard of this Pope. They certainly don’t respect his thinking, his understanding of the world, and his compassionate viewpoints.


Why do Christian conservatives vote for Republicans? It would seem their opposition to women’s reproductive rights and LGBTQ equality is their only justification. 


Jesus never preached about abortion. He never condemned people for their sexual orientation. Tax-exempt conservative church leaders do.


I recall Jesus calling out religious leaders of the time as sanctimonious hypocrites.

 

I also recall Jesus going all "antifa" with some money changers at a temple. That didn’t go over well. The "law and order" religious conservatives of the time wanted him executed. They considered Jesus an “enemy of the people”.  


Were they any different from today’s religious conservatives?


Let’s ask them.


Are there any Christian conservatives willing to answer a few simple questions?


How does giving tax cuts to the rich reflect what Jesus wants?


How does cutting food stamps for the poor reflect what Jesus wants?


How does cutting Social Security and Medicare for the elderly reflect what Jesus wants?


How is taking healthcare from the sick and poor what Jesus wants?


What did Jesus say about taxes and the rich?


How does allowing corporate polluters have their way reflect what Jesus wants?


How does turning a blind eye to racism and police brutality reflect what Jesus wants?


How does Trump follow the teachings of Jesus?


Why does Jesus want us to vote for a servant of mammon?


Conservative Christians have yet to explain to me how voting for Republicans reflects any of the values so clearly laid out for them to embrace:


Matthew 25:40-45

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.


I'll be darned if I can find any Republican/conservative agenda there. Apparently none of these values can make America great, or something...


Maybe Christian conservatives can be honest for a change, and just say they don't want to discuss the answers to these questions.



Perhaps these questions make them FEEL confused, frustrated and angry. 


That confusion, frustration and anger, especially towards more progressive folks, like the Socialist Pope, and Antifa Jesus, might just be the only “answer” that matters to them.

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

An Open Letter to Judge Amy Coney Barrett From Your Notre Dame Colleagues

October 10, 2020

Dear Judge Barrett,

 

We write to you as fellow faculty members at the University of Notre Dame.

 

We congratulate you on your nomination to the United States Supreme Court. An appointment to the Court is the crowning achievement of a legal career and speaks to the commitments you have made throughout your life. And while we are not pundits, from what we read your confirmation is all but assured.

 

That is why it is vital that you issue a public statement calling for a halt to your nomination process until after the November presidential election.

We ask that you take this unprecedented step for three reasons.

 

First, voting for the next president is already underway. According to the United States Election Project more than seven million people have already cast their ballots, and millions more are likely to vote before election day. The rushed nature of your nomination process, which you certainly recognize as an exercise in raw power politics, may effectively deprive the American people of a voice in selecting the next Supreme Court justice. You are not, of course, responsible for the anti-democratic machinations driving your nomination. Nor are you complicit in the Republican hypocrisy of fast-tracking your nomination weeks before a presidential election when many of the same senators refused to grant Merrick Garland so much as a hearing a full year before the last election. However, you can refuse to be party to such maneuvers. We ask that you honor the democratic process and insist the hearings be put on hold until after the voters have made their choice. Following the election, your nomination would proceed, or not, in accordance with the wishes of the winning candidate. 

 

Next, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish was that her seat on the court remain open until a new president was installed. At your nomination ceremony at the White House, you praised Justice Ginsburg as “a woman of enormous talent and consequence, whose life of public service serves as an example to us all.” Your nomination just days after Ginsburg’s death was unseemly and a repudiation of her legacy. Given your admiration for Justice Ginsburg, we ask that you repair the injury to her memory by calling for a pause in the nomination until the next president is seated.

 

Finally, your nomination comes at a treacherous moment in the United States. Our politics are consumed by polarization, mistrust, and fevered conspiracy theories. Our country is shaken by pandemic and economic suffering. There is violence in the streets of American cities. The politics of your nomination, as you surely understand, will further inflame our civic wounds,

undermine confidence in the court, and deepen the divide among ordinary citizens, especially if you are seated by a Republican Senate weeks before the election of a Democratic president and congress. You have the opportunity to offer an alternative to all that by demanding that your nomination be suspended until after the election. We implore you to take that step.

 

We’re asking a lot, we know. Should Vice-President Biden be elected, your seat on the court will almost certainly be lost. That would be painful, surely. Yet there is much to be gained in risking your seat. You would earn the respect of fair-minded people everywhere. You would provide a model of civic selflessness. And you might well inspire Americans of different beliefs toward a renewed commitment to the common good.

 

We wish you well and trust you will make the right decision for our nation.

 

Yours in Notre Dame,

John Duffy, English  

Catherine E. Bolten, Anthropology and Peace Studies

Karen Graubart, History and Gender Studies

Margaret Dobrowolska, Physics

Aedín Clements, Hesburgh Libraries

Cheri Smith, Hesburgh Libraries

Antonio Delgado, Physics

Atalia Omer, Peace Studies

Eileen Hunt Botting, Political Science

Jason A. Springs, Peace Studies

David Hachen, Sociology

Manoel Couder, Physics

Jacek Furdyna, Physics

Carmen Helena Tellez, Music

Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Biological Sciences, Philosophy

John T. Fitzgerald, Theology

Debra Javeline, Political Science 

Philippe Collon, Physics

Cara Ocobock, Anthropology

Amy Mulligan, Irish, Medieval Studies and Gender Studies

Stephen M. Fallon, Program of Liberal Studies and Dept of English

Jessica Shumake, University Writing Program and Gender Studies

Mandy L. Havert, Hesburgh Libraries

Dana Villa, Political Science

Stephen M. Hayes, Emeritus, Hesburgh Libraries

Catherine Perry, Emerita, Romance Languages & Literatures

Olivier Morel, Film, Television, and Theatre.

Darlene Catello, Music

Encarnación Juárez-Almendros, Emerita, Romance Languages & Literatures

James Sterba, Philosophy

Laura Bayard, Emerita, Hesburgh Libraries

Susan Sheridan, Anthropology

Mary E. Frandsen, Music

Mark Golitko, Anthropology

Christopher Ball, Anthropology

Gail Bederman, History

G. Margaret Porter, Emerita, Hesburgh Libraries

Cecilia Lucero, Center for University Advising

Peri E. Arnold, Emeritus, Political Science

Amitava Krishna Dutt, Political Science

Julia Marvin, Program of Liberal Studies

Julia Adeney Thomas, History

Michael C. Brownstein, East Asian Languages & Cultures

Christopher Liebtag Miller, Medieval Institute

Maxwell Johnson, Theology

John Sitter, Emeritus, English

Robert Norton, German

Hye-jin Juhn, Hesburgh Libraries

Denise M. Della Rossa, German

Sotirios A. Barber, Political Science

Pamela Robertson Wojcik, Film, TV and Theatre

Jeff Diller, Mathematics

Ann Mische, Sociology and Peace Studies

Zygmunt Baranski, Romance Languages & Literatures

Robert R. Coleman, Emeritus, Art History

William Collins Donahue, German, FTT, & Keough

Sarah McKibben, Irish Language and Literature

George A. Lopez, emeritus, Kroc Institute

Mark Roche, German

Nelson Mark, Economics

Vittorio Hosle, German, Philosophy and Political Science

Tobias Boes, German 

A. Nilesh Fernando, Economics

Fred Dallmayr, Emeritus, Philosophy and Political Science

Greg Kucich, English

Kate Marshall, English

Mark A. Sanders, English

Christopher Hamlin, History

Meredith S. Chesson, Anthropology

Ricardo Ramirez, Political Science

Stephen Fredman, Emeritus, English

Dan Graff, History and the Higgins Labor Program

Henry Weinfield, Program of Liberal Studies (Emeritus)

Mary R. D’Angelo, Theology (Emerita)

Asher Kaufman, Kroc Institute, History

Stephen J. Miller, Music

Janet A. Kourany, Philosophy and Gender Studies

Michelle Karnes, English

Jill Godmilow, Emerita, Film, Television & Theatre

Mary Beckman, Emerita, Center for Social Concerns

Clark Power, Program of Liberal Studies

Richard Williams, Sociology

Benedict Giamo, Emeritus, American Studies

Ernesto Verdeja, Political Science and Peace Studies 

Catherine Schlegel, Classics

Margaret A. Doody, English, Professor Emerita 

Marie Collins Donahue, Eck Institute of Global Health

 David C. Leege, Emeritus, Political Science