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Arrogant Ignorance: Welcome to Donald Trump’s America

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This the truth of the United States today where a reality star and businessman with highly suspect business practices coupled with a streak of racist behaviors and public pronouncements is able to capture such a large plurality of voters.

The past month or so has been especially bloody between the slaughter of innocents at the Pulse nightclub, the murders –  actually summary executions of unarmed Black men by law enforcement in extremely questionable circumstances – to the homicides of police officers in Dallas, Texas, and then Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The problem, however, is that these acts of violence very much are the current reflection of reality of life today in the United States.

Contemporary society of the United States is in deep trouble; it is unsafe and discriminatory (read: racist/misogynistic/homophobic/xenophobic.) It is awash in a virtual ocean of guns, most of which have no business being in the hands of civilians or law enforcement alike. The deep divisions that now exist in terms of economic, political, and religious status are propelled by well funded minority “family” or religious groups tied to the American right/conservative-Christian movement, threatening to undo any real form of progress forward for the American way of life, especially on so-called “cultural issues.”

President Barack Obama has attempted to be a voice of reason as he asks Americans to pull together and make an effort to stop the violence, saying that such violence is not the American way nor reflects American values as a nation. The President, and others – even those in the Republican opposition party, would have you believe that the U.S. is not being torn asunder, that it is not as divided as some pundits and others continue to claim. As he and others bemoan the toxicity of society and of the polarity in the American body politic, there is frequent talk of prayers and of the need to pull together.

The President’s efforts have been met by the right-wing with accusations that his actions and speeches actually foment the violence, and those in opposition blame him personally. Of course in Washington it is a rarely acknowledged open secret that a majority of the President’s right-wing opposition – read: Republican – are angry that he is even sitting behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office in the first place. They’d rather he were wearing white gloves, a snazzy formal tux, and was standing next to the desk while serving a white guy seated behind it.

The so-called cultural wars have now turned from rhetorical into actual combat. While there is plenty of blame to be leveled against both left and right of the political spectrum, reality is that the right-wing, supported by radical Christian fundamentalists, have over the past 45 or so years not only accumulated vast political power, but additionally have succeeded in holding the American governmental system at local, state, and federal levels hostage to their narrow vision. This vision, this divisiveness as evidenced by the total lack of legislative work product out of Washington to address the issues that plague everyday Americans, has now completely paralyzed the federal government. For example, regarding the dire issues surrounding gun violence, this powerful minority has succeeded in completely stifling debate, action, accounting, or even the advancement of potential solutions. 

The unspoken, but acknowledged truth of the origins of that paralysis lies within the deeply seated racism present in modern American society which is promulgated by the peculiarity of the American practice of faiths rooted in Christianity – but, based on a patriarchal and misogynistic interpretation that leaves no room for diversity. This has been building, an almost lava like flow from a slowing erupting volcano of suspicion, mistrust, and erosion of the white majority population over the past five decades. No longer isolated singular events, instead a series of rapidly re-occurring events in most cases linked to a larger cause gone unchecked: arrogant ignorance.

The Christian right-wing’s taking control at a local level of school boards, governments, and statehouses over the past forty years, along with their marriage to the Republican party, has created a state of erosion of the American educational system. This in turn has created a scenario where ignorance in key critical areas of sciences and civics has primarily contributed to the national state of arrogant ignorance. It has also led to a sense of meaningless hyper partisan religious centric ideology which has devolved governing into a state of inaction and hyper-gridlock.

While the United States may have fought a bloody civil war in the mid-nineteenth century to end slavery, it has never shook off its problem with its embedded racism. These days, fueled by recent acts of terrorism and abetted by that same so-called Christian ideology that literally affirmed biblical approval for slavery over a century ago, has now given arise in a resurgence xenophobia, which previously included Irish, then Chinese, and Italian, now lashes out at Muslims, and others of color in particular who don’t fit the “ideal” model of what is deemed “American.”

These worst traits have been embodied and personified in the Republican nominee in the presidential race, Donald Trump, whose public statements reflect this sorry state of affairs. From immigrants to women’s rights to Muslims, Trump has unashamedly and unrepentantly bashed them all.

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In fact, during a panel interview with commentator Chris Hayes on MSNBC during the first day of the 2016 Republican National Convention, Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) stated that no culture has done more for civilization than white Christians. An incredulous Broadway playwright and actor, Harvey Fierstein, noted; “I played it back three times to make sure I heard him correctly. And we wonder where our race problems come from?”

Here is the quote from Congressman King:

“This whole white people business though does get a little tired, […] I mean, I’d ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you are talking about. Where did any any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”

Should one really wonder why the Knights of the Klu Klux Klan have suddenly reemerged as a factor in politics openly supporting GOP front runner Donald Trump who has yet to seriously condemn their support? This makes statements like King’s rather telling. 

Of course it is more than just an issue of racism. The right-wing have also demonised women’s choices over their own bodies and reproductive health issues, as well as targeting LGBTQ persons by categorising them as little more than deviant and pedophiles – sinners who merit only damnation, judgment, and ostracism by the “acceptable proper Christian society” and culture that upholds “true American values.” The right-wing’s open warfare waged on the American transgender community and its allies claims that they are upholding true Christian values, American values, against the “predators” that, supposedly, are the transgender persons. 

This whites only, Christian only, privileged thinking is further aided by a complacent and sometimes active co-conspirator/partner in the form of the right wing media, particularly Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Corporation. 

This was best illustrated in a Facebook post written Monday evening by the AFL-CIO’s Pride-At-Work Executive Director, Jerame Davis, discussing coverage of the first day of the 2016 Republican convention on Fox News. Davis writes:

We decided to watch the Republican convention on ‘Faux News’ for a bit, just to get an idea. Here’s what I learned:

  • Black Lives Matter is a hate group responsible for racial tensions that have boiled over to attacks on cops.
  • They’re also anarchists and militants who blame others for their problems.
  • Black folk must be held accountable for every word they utter and a few they didn’t while white folk shouldn’t be judged by one incident.
  • Donald Trump will use the power of his office to intimidate, investigate, and and harass anyone associated with Black Lives Matter if he is president.
  • All cops are heroes even if the make the occasional tragic mistake.

And this was all in the space of 15 minutes. The unchallenged, overt racism on this network is astounding. They are using the bigger audience of a prime time convention night to smear an entire race of people.

The rest of the evening’s worth of the RNC convention speeches and events quite frankly, Mr. Davis’s Fox News analysis not withstanding – was a parody of an extremely awful comedy sketch that unfortunately has serious ramifications not just on the American home-front, but globally as well.

Columnist and political pundit Andrew Sullivan summed up Monday evening’s RNC:

“Just mulling over the events tonight, there’s one obvious stand-out. I didn’t hear any specific policy proposals to tackle clearly stated public problems. It is almost as if governing, for the Republican right, is fundamentally about an attitude, rather than about experience or practicality or reasoning. The degeneracy of conservatism – its descent into literally mindless appeals to tribalism and fear and hatred – was on full display. You might also say the same about the religious right, the members of whom have eagerly embraced a racist, a nativist, a believer in war crimes, and a lover of the tyrants that conservatism once defined itself against. Their movement long lost any claim to a serious Christian conscience. But that they would so readily embrace such an unreconstructed pagan is indeed a revelation.

“If you think of the conservative movement as beginning in 1964 and climaxing in the 1990s, then the era we are now in is suffering from a cancer of the mind and the soul. That the GOP has finally found a creature that can personify these urges to purge, a man for whom the word “shameless” could have been invented, a bully and a creep, a liar and cheat, a con man and wannabe tyrant, a dedicated loather of individual liberty, and an opponent of the pricelessly important conventions of liberal democracy is perhaps a fitting end.

“This is the gutter, ladies and gentlemen, and it runs into a sewer. May what’s left of conservatism be carried out to sea.”

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This the truth of the United States today where a reality star and businessman with highly suspect business practices coupled with a streak of racist behaviors and public pronouncements is able to capture such a large plurality of voters. Oh, and his hypocrisy not withstanding, as noted by the former Executive Director of Equality Oklahoma, Scott Hamilton, who wrote: “I’m still scratching my head over the fact that Trump entered the RNC stage last night to, ‘We Are the Champions,’ a song written and sung by a gay man. This, on the very day the GOP presented its most anti-LGBT platform ever.”

Is the American nation really this polarized and toxic? Truthfully? Yes. The problem is that as a whole, it seems that Americans are loathe to confront their demons, especially the grand daddy of them all: religious influence. While the First Amendment grants “freedom of religion,” it also grants freedom FROM religion and the unholy marriage of the Christian right to the American body politic needs to have a divorce.

Americans need to confront the fact that white privilege exists, it is a reality, and it has no place in modern society. Americans need to wrap their arms around the fact that like in the other species that inhabit this planet, there are variants and natural occurrences and that human beings who are LGBTQ are just that; human beings. Americans need to recognise that the United States by no means is the “superior” culture and society in the global community. In fact, theirs is one of many and all contribute to the greater good and enrichment of humanity. Finally, Americans need to reevaluate a political process that allows a person like Donald Trump to even be considered as a viable candidate for the Office of President of the United States.

 

Image by Disney | ABC Television Group via Flickr and a CC license 

 

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News

‘Fear-Driven Alliance’: Conservative Explains Why Far-Right CPAC ‘Opportunists’ and ‘Paranoids’ Are Meeting in Hungary

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The rise of authoritarianism and fascism growing within the Republican Party was discussed by the opening panel on MSNBC’s “The Reidout” on Friday.

Host Joy Reid noted how the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is being held in Hungary this year, which is ruled by strongman Viktor Orbán.

“They have elections, of a sort, but also hamper voters’ abilities to make informed choices and heavily control the outcome that the elections are essentially a show,” she explained. “These are the autocratic dreams of a far-right leader obsessed with solidifying a Christian monoculture and who, in 2014, declared his intention to build an illiberal new state citing China, Russia and Turkey as role models. Flash forward to today where CPAC, the once conservative gathering that is now simply a cesspool of the far-right running amok, is holding its conference in Budapest.”

For analysis, Reid interviewed conservative writer Tom Nichols.

Nichols warned “there is a nihilistic, fear-driven alliance here with a group of opportunists, and I want to get back to this issue of about Hungary, the really dangerous thing here is that some of these people believe very deeply in — in some of this stuff and yet others, and I would say people like [Tucker] Carlson and Matt Schlapp and some of the other people capering about in Budapest, don’t believe in any of this and don’t believe in anything of this other than the extension of their own personal power and wealth.

“And when you have this coalition of shallow, empty opportunists along with with a group of paranoids, basically, then you have a really dangerous movement because each side has to keep upping the ante to kind of justify why they are doing the things they are doing,” he explained.

“A lot of this is an act, but the problem is you then paint yourself into a corner… You have to start actually trying to put forward policies and carry things out that, that make you look as if you believe the things that you’re doing. And then after a while, whether it’s an act or its opportunism is no longer relevant: You have become the thing you’ve been prancing about and pretending to be,” he explained.

Watch the segment below or at this link.

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Catholic Archbishop Defies Vatican by Banning Speaker Nancy Pelosi From Holy Communion – via Twitter

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Calling her stance on abortion a “most serious scandal,” and a “grave evil” San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone publicly announced Friday that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, whose district encompasses his diocese, is now banned from taking Holy Communion.

Archbishop Cordileone, a far right activist who repeatedly has challenged Pope Francis, is now in violation of directions from the Vatican to not politicize the Sacraments. Cordileone’s very public decree – made via Twitter – comes just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on a case that is expected to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“After numerous attempts to speak with Speaker Pelosi to help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, an the danger to her own soul she is risking, I have determined that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion,” Cordileone tweeted, an apparent attempt to embarrass to the greatest degree possible the Democrat who is second in line to the Presidency,

“I am hereby notifying you that you are not to present yourself for Holy Communion and, should you do so, you are not to be admitted to Holy Communion, until such time as you publically [sic] repudiate your advocacy for the legitimacy of abortion and confess and receive absolution of this grave sin in the sacrament of Penance,” Cordileone wrote in that letter to the Speaker.

Fox News calls it “an escalation in a decades-long tension between the Roman Catholic Church and liberal Democratic politicians on abortion,” but in fact other extremist archbishops have taken the same stance against other notable Democrats.

Catholics believe the Pope is God’s infallible representative on earth. Last fall Pope Francis chastised far right Catholic bishops in America who were gearing up to ban President Joe Biden from receiving Holy Communion. In June the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) overwhelmingly voted to move toward chastising Biden for his abortion stance, despite the Vatican issuing a clear warning they were not to do so.

President Biden is a devout Catholic who personally opposes abortion but knows as President it is his role to uphold a woman’s right to choose, something has has worked strongly to support and strongly believes in.

“What must the pastor do?” Pope Francis said, The New York Times reported last September when a reporter asked him about President Biden and abortion. “Be a pastor, don’t go condemning. Be a pastor, because he is a pastor also for the excommunicated.”

“I have never refused the eucharist to anyone,” Pope Francis told reporters. The Times aded Francis said bishops should be pastors not politicians.

The Pope also told reporters, “communion is not a prize for the perfect,” and “the eucharist is not the reward of saints but the bread of sinners.”

The San Francisco Chronicle adds that Pope Francis “welcomed Biden for a private meeting at the Vatican last fall and Biden said the Pope told him he was a ‘good Catholic.’ Biden received Communion at St. Peter’s during that trip.”

 

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. 

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COMMENTARY

‘Sordid, Corrupt, Lawless’: Experts Call New Ginni Thomas Revelations ‘Breathtaking’ and Ask ‘What Did Her Husband Know?’

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The latest revelations about the actions of Ginni Thomas, the far right wing activist, lobbyist, and spouse of a sitting U.S. Supreme Court justice who had unprecedented access to the Trump White House are leading experts to demand Clarence Thomas’ recusal while calling the combination of their actions “breathtaking corruption,” and noting the Justice’s extraordinary hypocrisy.

Later Friday morning The Washington Post reported that Ginni Thomas pressed two Arizona lawmakers to overturn the will of Arizona’s voters in the 2020 presidential election by choosing a “clean” slate of electors, representing Donald Trump and not Joe Biden. The Post notes Thomas did not mention any candidate by name but reports “the context was clear.”

“Before you choose your state’s Electors … consider what will happen to the nation we all love if you don’t stand up and lead,” an email bearing Ginni Thomas’ name, sent to the Arizona lawmakers, reads.

It included a link to a video of a man delivering a message meant for swing-state lawmakers, urging them to “put things right” and “not give in to cowardice.”

“You have only hours to act,” said the speaker, who is not identified in the video.

Thomas also pressed Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows to work to overturn the election, as has been widely reported.

Her efforts, combined with Justice Thomas’ actions on the Supreme Court, amount to “breathtaking corruption,” writes Slate’s legal expert Mark Joseph Stern.

“The conflict of interest between Ginni and Clarence Thomas has never been greater. While Clarence was applying the ‘independent state legislature doctrine’ from the bench, Ginni was using the exact same theory to try to overturn the 2020 election. Just breathtaking corruption,” Stern says.

He adds:

Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance, now an NBC News/MSNBC legal analyst and law professor, issued a strong warning:

“Either Justice Thomas recuses in every case that comes to the Court where his wife is heavily involved in the action or the public’s confidence in the Court will be damaged beyond repair.”

Reuters reporter covering the U.S. Supreme Court, Lawrence Hurley:

Former federal corruption prosecutor Noah Bookbinder, who is president of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) says it is “outrageous” Justice Thomas has refused to recuse:

“New evidence that Ginni Thomas’s participation in efforts to overturn the 2020 election was even greater than we knew; in this case pressure on AZ legislators to overturn that state’s vote. Makes it even more outrageous that Justice Thomas did not recuse.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and former New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. “Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, pressed Arizona legislators to overturn Biden’s win and choose a ‘clean slate of electors.’ In other words, she supported a coup to overthrow an elected president. What did her husband know?”

Economist and frequent political commentator David Rothschild observes, “Ginni Thomas was conspiring with high ranking Republicans to overturn [the] republic, and her husband was either privy to or actively involved in this conspiracy before using his position to coverup his wife’s role.”

Former SDNY Asst. U.S. Attorney Richard Signorelli sums up:

 

Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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