The US’ Other Opiate Problem

The same incredulous question arises nearly every day:  How can Trump still have a thirty percent approval rating considering his bungling, lying, crudeness, and refusal to lead? Who would still support him after child separation, farm bailouts due to trade wars, and Putin’s obvious influence in his decision making? Who? I have my own hypothesis, drawn from my experience as a former evangelical Christian/Republican and it echoes another voice:  Religion is the opiate of the masses.

There is a backbone to the idea that religion numbs the senses of the masses. It is the belief that the bible is right, the inerrant word of God, and to doubt it is to doubt God himself. This notion is infused into church teaching.  It’s preached to little babies, “The B-I-B-L-E, yes that’s the book for me!” Then as an adult, “God said, I believe, that settles it forever.” We’ll even put ourselves through some hefty mental gymnastics to prove the argument. Confining a person’s knowledge base to only the bible acts like a spinal block to the logical, analytical areas of the mind, leaving them unresponsive and worthless.

Church leaders utilize the spinal block effects to their advantage and employ some impressive acrobatics to re-enforce the group-think. For example, Stephen Strang, founder of Charisma magazine, demonstrates his support of a lying, crude, selfish, president by tweeting that “God can use even a corrupt man.”

Here are the recent words of Jerry Falwell, Jr.

“It’s a distortion of the teaching of Christ to say Jesus taught love and forgiveness and therefore the United States as a nation should be loving and forgiving, and just hand over everything we have to every other part of the world.”

Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, but this guy says that as one of the richest, ‘Christian’ nations in the world, we shouldn’t be concerned about starving Yemeni babies. Then again, if the spigot of information is drawing from just one well, the people tuning into Falwell most likely don’t even know about the crisis in Yemen.

Check out the amusing amount of hair splitting going on about affairs that happened while in the Oval Office and affairs that happened eleven years ago before a guy became president. This is particularly galling to me as I recall distinctly the thrashing Clinton got from local and national church leaders (I was still in the church at the time). Those same people now liberally tease out some very obscure angles from which to view morality in order to justify supporting Trump. Guess what? If the mind of the flock is numb, constricted by a singular source of information, its malleability around strangely shaped ideas is inevitable.

Falwell and Graham’s grandiose proclamations are reinforced with publications such as Charisma magazine. Its stories massage the marriage of politics and religion, interpreting political developments through the pinpoint lens of evangelical Christianity. A scroll through the sites’ news feed is anemic on information and knowledge, but fat on reassurance to their reader that, despite our current mess as a nation, all is going according to God’s plan. It’s like a little booster shot of Novocaine to the soul (Televangelists are superb administrators of similar anesthesia).

The pinnacle of evangelical Christian thinking is some apocalyptic end times gig, based upon the book of Revelation. So when Trump formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, it was a sign that god did indeed pick the right man to fulfill the role of ushering in His plan for the end of the world. You might wonder how we could buy that line of thinking. If I’m already subscribed to the mystical stories of talking snakes and partings of seas, then a drug induced hallucination including political developments as indicators of the rapture is easily plausible.

I was doing my own research outside of the church offerings by the end of Clinton’s tenure. I compared what I read in publications such as Charisma to what was being reported by outside sources that had decent track records of accuracy (WaPo, Guardian, Al Jazeera, NYT, LA Times, to name a few +  books). I found a lot of lies on the side of the church, which to me appeared necessarily invented solely to stir up fear. I observed that the wild prophesies I’d heard about Clinton simply didn’t manifest. I came to realize that having a mainline of information from just one source leaves the mind paralyzed; cut yourself off from the mainline, and the mind wakes up.

There’s not much to be done for a numbed mind and paralyzed logic. A person has to answer their own curiosity in order to shrug off the dense effects of evangelical opium. It is important to recognize the dynamic involved with Trump’s persistent portion of support, though. Evangelical mind-think is a contingency that’s not going away since it soothes the uncertainty of many a soul, we must acknowledge that. Perhaps we should stop questioning the “How?” and focus on a social coping mechanism instead: Do we ignore that faction? Engage with it? Exemplify an alternative?

I am open to suggestions…

Frankie

 

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Presidential Robbery

There’s a fleecing going on – our tax dollars pay the bill to Trump Org. for the room and board of our national security detail that goes with protecting the president, at his own  properties. There’s a grifting going on – the corporate elite pay higher membership prices at Mar-a-Lago, where they have exclusive access to the president and his high ranking aides.  While these material slights are by no means benign and even have profound impact upon the way our government is currently functioning, they are far from the biggest robbery our president is committing: that is the robbery of our emotional security.

Emotional security, and a sense of belonging, are the second most important needs to be met in order for us to become fully actualized, or operating at our full human potential according to the wisdom of Abraham Maslow. Most of us get this first as infants and children, by parents who are attentive to our needs and provide us at least a constant roof and food and familial support. As adults we seek out partners, social groups, or strong friendships to provide a sense of belonging and emotional support.

There’s a similar sense of security we obtain as citizens and it’s as intangible and immeasurable as belonging to a family. Under the guises of the idea of the social contract, we pay our taxes to the government and it provides national defense as well as a functioning infrastructure. This relationship has allowed a majority of people to feel safe about the future and its ability to provide opportunities. It has enabled us to take personal risks in art, science, education, politics, and economics. We know the infrastructure, or scaffolding, is sustained by our tax dollars through the government and historically, that scaffolding has been steady, mostly secure, and highly profitable overall.

We’ve been robbed of that by Donald Trump.

Instead of worrying about overspending on Christmas, several hundred thousand federal workers are right now worried about how they’ll make their mortgage or rent in three days. Instead of the comfort of a plump 401k account, many baby boomers are wringing their hands over lost money, because of capricious Trump tweets. Instead of knowing that federal agencies will pick up the pieces after a natural disaster, he threatens to shutdown the government. Rather than assuring his audience that our nation is safe, he stokes fear by creating an immigrant caravan crisis that is nonexistent.

As we progress in years we learn that money is one thing but peace of mind and health are priceless. It’s the most astonishing thing, then, to realize our president is robbing us of our national peace of mind and security. It’s even more maddening because it’s a deliberate choice he’s making. it’s deliberate pain he’s inflicting upon his citizens, it’s a deliberate robbery of our sense of security.

Maybe there’s a German word that describes this kind of poor, selfish leadership. I can’t seem to fish the right adjectives from the English language.

Here’s to turning this ship around…

Frankie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chief (in name only, he


Perverted

These things I heard from you as a child:

You told me that He detests hypocrites,

so be careful not to be one.

You upheld His life of humble poverty as an example,

and pointed out that the proud rich man is to be pitied.

You showed me pictures of the time when He

upset the merchant tables, and then you talked

about what it meant to defile a sacred space.

I learned from you that He loves the little children,

all the children of the world.

And now you tell me that this man who says one thing and does another,

this man who could never pass through the eye of the needle,

this man who defiles our sacred space,

this man who separates children from their mothers

is chosen by the same God?

That  is … perverted.

 

 

 

 


Another Sort of Soldier

I’ve ignored my yard, my dogs, my husband, and my house. I’ve done more than most, not as much as some.  I am exhausted, bone tired, ready for a long winter’s nap.

I am only one of millions of us who have been working like another sort of soldier to protect our democracy and freedoms. These soldiers are as dedicated to the truths of  democratic principles and the Constitution that protects them as any that patrol our borders and skies. They understand that our democracy is at risk and every single vote this election counts.  They volunteer time and donate their money to Democratic or Progressive Congressional candidates running for office this year.

These sorts of soldiers wear tennis shoes instead of boots. They carry clipboards insteadboots to shoes of ammunition clips. But there’s still an order of command, there’s still a clear objective, there’s still the need to carry water and wear sunscreen (some of us even arm ourselves, with pepper spray, depending upon the territory).

These soldiers knock on doors, make phone calls, table at libraries, and have tough conversations with neighbors who might have a different political yard sign.  They’re the sort of soldier who arrives every Monday night, for weeks, to write post cards to fellow voters encouraging them to vote. Soldiers that spend hours on end tediously printing out precinct maps and lists, then organizing them. Dutiful ranks that transport campaign materials to rural districts. The kinds of soldiers that drives for hours to campaign for a candidate outside their district, for the sake of flipping the House.

Let me be clear:  The armed forces that serve on our front line and daily put their life in danger deserve all respect and gratitude. I do not claim that the sort of soldier I reference here requires the same. I am simply pointing out that there is indeed a different sort of soldier that works diligently to protect our democracy. They do, at least, deserve a whispered thank you in the corner of the room.

Vote smart this election. Take it from this historian, your democracy depends upon it.

Yours,

Frankie

(photo credits: marine times, visualventuring.com)


Omelet or Tree?

I understand the frustration that led many people to vote for Trump because they wanted to ‘shake up the system’ and  have someone in the White House who would ‘tell it like it is’.  One analogy I’ve seen is “You gotta crack a few eggs in order to make an omelet.”  I get the sentiment, I’m not sure about the analogy.

I mean, an omelet is a single serving meal consumed immediately, forgotten immediately, and has the staying power of maybe about 12 hours while it provides the body with nutrients. That’s it, that’s all you get from ‘cracking eggs’, ‘telling like it is,’ or ‘shaking things up.’

You see, democracies embrace brotherhood and equality rather than selfish, single, one time moments.  They profoundly affect world events for centuries. They foster culture and progress with eternal benefits.

They are more like trees which provide a home and protection to many creatures – without prejudice. They provide oxygen for us to breathe and consume our carbon dioxide in return, profoundly affecting our environment. Some dominate entire redwood nat geoecosystems with eternal benefits.

Democracy is as impressive as a thousand-year-old Sequoia Redwood. It is as finicky as a ficus tree.  Democracy can be as hearty as a Valley Oak, or as delicate as a Japanese Maple. It goes through cycles of drought and flood, winter and summer, naked or in full bloom, yet it continues to grow, reach, progress, just as a tree does.

It’s true that trimming and pruning are beneficial, democracies as well as trees can lose their shape or become gangly if they aren’t regularly clipped.  But there’s a difference between careful, thoughtful pruning and lopping off the entire tree at the trunk hoping the plant can regenerate itself – it seems like that’s what’s happened with the ‘cracking a few eggs’ strategy and now we wait to see if it dies during this winter or sprouts again next spring.

If we adopt the comparison of our democracy to a tree, we can understand some of our current dynamics better, I think. It takes patience to nurture a democracy. Growth does not occur overnight and in the current age of Ista-  everything, it can seem frustrating to have to wait. It requires discipline to take care of our Democracy, just as it takes discipline to care for some trees. It must be watered, for us that means voting regularly. It must be pruned for even growth and bigger fruit, that means looking for waste that is robbing us of  growth and fruit bearing. It must be nurtured with thoughtfulness, one eye on the past to find the lessons, one eye on the future to project our goals. It must be fertilized with diversity, free speech, and equal opportunities. It must be protected against those who would cut it down for the sake of building their own personal mansion.

I understand the frustration, I don’t buy the analogy. Democracies are fragile, living institutions, they must be cared for, not shaken. Tended instead of cracked.

Yours,

Frankie

 

 

photos courtesy of eggs.ca and national geographic, respectively

 

 

 

 

 

 


Hate in the time of Carr Fire

I finally get it.

Carr fire map: What started the Carr fire - has it reached Redding? | World | News | Express.co.uk

Express Co UK

People have been upset by the collective hatred aimed at Trump. I’ve been diplomatically claiming that we’re mistaking hatred for righteous anger at seeing him demoralize our Intelligence Community, attack the fourth estate, and marginalize our allies – among other things. Then someone pointed out to me that righteous anger can easily turn to hatred if conditions worsen.

It was indeed a quick turn from the righteous anger I felt towards Trump to plain old hatred when the same day it was announced that the Carr fire progressed to one of the top ten worst fires in California history, Trump threatened to shut down the government if he didn’t get the border wall funded. At a time when citizens have lost everything and are forced to rebuild their lives, they need a leader who offers emotional support as well as the promise to help them with things like sound infrastructure and functioning agencies, Trump offered threats and bully tactics instead.

So yeah, I hate Trump too these days. I detest the evil of greed and selfishness he exhibits. I abhor his complete nonchalance at annihilating a positive national budget. I despise the pathological lying. I hate the evil apparent in behaving like a dictator who only welcomes those that pledge their fealty or massage his ego. I loathe the evil of tearing apart families and using their lives as leverage for jingoistic policy making.

I’m not normally a hater. Those who know me will attest that I am naturally optimistic and trusting toward my fellow humans. When evil raises its ugly head so blatantly and with such devastating consequences however, all the righteous anger I possess morphs into absolute hatred.

I am okay with hating evil.

I totally get it now.

 


Hypocrisy to shining Hypocrisy

You’ve been educated on government money, your family made its wealth on government money, but nowadays you’ll be damned if the chump in the next low-rent neighborhood gets a dime of it to help his family out of a hole.

What’s with the double standard of displaying your hatred towards someone because of the color of their skin or the language that they speak but if I call out the evil that rips off our taxes and decimates our democracy you claim that I am the one ‘full of hatred’?

It’s okay for your great grandparents to have migrated here from religious persecution but it’s not okay for a young woman with two babies to come here to escape gang violence and abuse.

Somehow you defend a president who lies daily and had multiple affairs when just a couple decades ago you were impeaching someone for less, and crowing about morality all the while.

It’s puzzling that you justify taking away food money from children and the disabled when the founder of your religion fed the multitudes without condemnation and healed the sick without judgement.

Your declarations of the sanctity of life sound more like clanging symbols since you chose to be silent when the scalpel that separated innocent children from their parents was employed.

You care about the national budget only when the opposing party is in the White House.

You’re all about supporting that thin blue line but more than willing to allow the shredding of your Intelligence Community.

You say you’re all for freedom then go on to deny half the population the freedom to care for their own bodies.

“God can use even a corrupt man!” He can’t use a corrupt woman, I guess.  Nor can he forgive her any sin, apparently. Neither can he even spare a mustard seed of compassion for her, it would seem.

You say your race is superior, yet live in a land that was never yours to begin with, a land that had to be bleached by your ancestors with smallpox blankets and muskets.

You claim to follow a god of love and compassion but trod on the poor with criticism and shame.

You sing of goodness and brotherhood crowning our nation from sea to shining sea;  your two-toned life has given us a nation of dazzling hypocrisy instead.

 


Champion

Today we are Champions of children capriciously imprisoned

And parents whose hearts have been shattered.

We willingly stand in the gap, as Champions do,

Between those who lead and those who can’t speak

Demanding absolute justice and compassion from our elected.

It’s really not so much to ask.

Today we are Champions.

We acknowledge that this fight is not over

We understand that a Champion follows through

One action begets another, and then another

And we commit to the last motion and the final moment.

Tomorrow we’ll be Champions.

While marching in unison is right and resonates

It is only the pre-game show, it’s only the first step.

Now that we’re home, we’ve got to call our leaders,

Remind them that children need their parents.

We’ve got to sacrifice a latte once a week

For a candidate that will bring dignity back to the Democracy.

When it’s all said and done we’ll be Champions.

We’ll vote so hard that we’re exhausted, but that’s okay.

‘Cause Champions push through even when they’ve nothing left to give.

They know that others depend upon them,

And there’s only one possible outcome:  victory.

Bomb us with a twitter storm, pollute our air with lies.

Our resolve is only strengthened, our conviction just more clear.

We are Champions today and forever,

For families and democracy,

We will not be deterred.

#Resistance

 

 


Insomniac Citizen

 

I CAN’T SLEEP

My arms ache in solidarity with those mother’s whose babies were snatched from them without mercy.

I CAN’T SLEEP

The evil that sponsored yellow armbands not long ago is resurrecting itself in the form of yellow wristbands.

I CAN’T SLEEP

Rules that keep greedy bastards from cannibalizing our economy have been erased. I dread another economic bubble burst and the damage it will bring.

I CAN’T SLEEP

We have a president who spits in the face of everything good and decent our forefathers fought fiercely to employ.

I CAN’T SLEEP

We are raising an entire generation of children who are afraid to go to school for fear of being shot by one of their own, and our leaders do nothing to change that.

I CAN’T SLEEP

One-third of our government is refusing to act as a check and balance to the blatant destruction of the Constitution it swore to uphold.

I CAN’T SLEEP

The right of my sisters and I to make our own choices about our bodies is more and more abusively restricted by hypocritical men.

I CAN’T SLEEP

I am unable to fathom how a patriotic stand for justice and right can be so vilified by my fellow citizens.

I CAN’T SLEEP

Some of my brothers are engaging in Gestapo practices while wearing an American flag on their arms and I C E on their backs.

I CAN’T SLEEP

All of these torture my instincts and rub raw at my humanity. My conscious moves me to action. I can’t sleep, neither can I sit still.


Learning Manners

In a compendium of essays entitled “Dismantling the Empire,” Chalmers Johnson makes a sobering statement:  “America must learn what it means to be a third world nation, and the manners that go with it.”

It’s disconcerting to think of the US as a third world nation, exceptionalism and all that being preached in school.  Yet, there’s plenty of evidence that we’re on the brink of sliding into that category.

Social examples:  Maternal death rates in the southern US are alarmingly high for a developed world, especially among women of color. The suffering of tax-paying citizens of Flint, Michigan and the entire island of Puerto Rico are being blatantly ignored.  More and more homeless occupy our streets. Severe civil unrest and tension is prevalent in our news cycles.

Economic examples: Taxes slashed for the 1% while also cutting social services for the middle class and increasing military spending.  Fewer and fewer protections for the ‘average’ worker.  Grifting tax payer money to a leader’s coffers via golf trips and business meetings held at president’s owned venues. An EPA chief traveling first class using federal dollars.

Political examples:  A president deriding the fourth estate. A third of government refusing to act as a check and balance to the executive branch. A daughter and son-in-law of president sent abroad to represent the nation.  The exclusion of a political party to meetings on the fear of being held accountable.

How are we behaving as citizens facing the prospect of becoming one of those nations we’ve always sort of pitied?  Are we demonstrating manners of a third world nation?

Actually, maybe. I suggest that are manners are much too polite and subservient for a nation watching its democracy being burned faster than a doused flag.

We let it slide when Congress refused to work with the past president and shut down the government instead of working towards a compromise.  We let it slide when a SCOTUS seat was left vacant because Congress refused to do its job.  We didn’t take to the streets when the Tax and Jobs bill was being voted upon. We haven’t collectively voiced our support and protection of the Mueller investigation, and we seem to be rolling over at the notion that Congress will not even bring to vote a bill that protects an independent investigation into a foreign government’s meddling of our election process.  We aren’t being noisy enough about the current administrations lack of action in keeping the approaching election free from tampering. We are merely complaining on Twitter about a journalist being forcibly removed from a government (people) sponsored meeting.

While we’ve been a bit vocal about Trump’s America with two Women’s Marches, these have been somewhat vague and ultimately futile judging by the fact that the administration just announced its intent to withhold Title X funding which gives women access to affordable, educational reproductive health care.

If our manners, so far, have been too nice, too rooted in confidence of the words written in our constitution, and focused on winning the mid-terms, what’s the alternative?

-We also should be ‘atting’ congressional leaders, encouraging them to make a strong stand against the dictator president and be consistent in their messaging:  We have a man in office who is an authoritarian, we are a democracy.  We have a man in office who has capitulated to a hostile foreign government who is selling out our democracy. We should be unashamedly noisy about this.

-When the president is called out, we should liberally and publicly thank them. Rep. Pelosi and Sen. Schumer sent a letter calling out the president over a closed door meeting without Democrat representation,. Many, many others have been vocal about the assault on democracy coming out of the White House, thank them whether or not they are your representative.  Right now, they represent the Democracy, not just a constituency.

-We need to hold the press accountable. Journalists need to start using the word ‘dictator’ when stories like NFL owners requiring players to stand for the anthem are written.  The word ‘jingoism’ needs to be introduced into our conversations and its meaning pointed out in the demonstrable ways it’s rearing its head in our nation. News writers should be pushing back against obvious attacks on the profession, and repeatedly point out the benefits of a healthy, critical fourth estate.

Finally, we must march, and do so strictly for our Democracy.  Several times a day the current administration ignores past precedents, breaks common protocols and blatantly ignores the Constitution.  We must let it know that we see these sins against our nation, and they will not go unaccounted.  We must demand with a loud, singular voice, that Congress vote to protect the Special Counsel investigation.  We absolutely must demand that our leaders take preventative actions to ensure a safe, valid election occurs this November. We need to let Donald Trump know that we know he’s an illegitimate president and his lies hold no meaning to us.

I’ve been writing to MoveOn.org, Women’s March, March for our Lives, and recently added Millennial Politics to my list, asking them to come together to organize such a march.  I invite you to join me!  It’d be great if something were to occur around Independence Day, in celebration of, and in effort to keep that which our forefathers revered enough to institute: A government of, for, and by the people.

Mr. Johnson was prescient in his work ‘Blowback’ in that he all but predicted the 9/11 attack on our nation.  Let’s work together to prove him wrong about needing to learn the manners of third world nations, and instead display the manners of a justifiably angry citizenship determined to keep its Democracy in tact and functioning.

Write, tweet, ‘at’. Let’s make a #MarchforDemocracy reality.  I look forward to joining you in the streets.

Frankie