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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

In the past six years, we have seen President Obama called everything from being a socialist, communist, fascist, and lawless.  The opposing side has continuously said they are only trying to pass legislation that the American People want.  Although they refuse to pass Universal Background Checks for Gun Purchases, Raise the Minimum Wage, or Immigration Reform which are all supported by over 70 percent of the American People.

The favorite name calling of the right-wing is communist.  I have been called a communist more times than I care to count.  If I had a dollar for every time I was called a communist, my retirement would be a lot more comfortable than it is.  So, I thought I might take a look at who are the real communists in America today.

The first thing you must consider is what is the definition of a communist.  Everyone, especially those of us who lived through the cold war look at communism as the form of government in the Soviet Union and China.  That is what we were taught was communism.  But is that really communism?

Karl Marx wrote the book on communism.  However, in his view of a communist world, there are no governments.  He wrote about a utopian society where governments were no longer needed.  He based his view on the concept that people are naturally good and therefore society would naturally look after the less fortunate, the sick, the disabled, and the elderly.  No government was necessary for these actions, people would just embrace that it was the right thing to do.

I know that is an oversimplification of his writings, but I do believe that is the gist of his book.  What Marx failed to take into account is the opposite of good, which is evil.  For, you cannot have good without evil.  Natural law says there is an opposite to every trait.  That is what makes us human.  As a result, the communism espoused by Marx is a fantasy with no real possibility of actually coming true.  Still, that doesn’t mean that any steps we take in that direction is not a good step.

But, now we get the heart of the matter.  The Soviet Union was the first country to embrace communism.  But, in realty, the use of the word was just as much a fantasy as Marx’s world view.  Basically, communism was hijacked by Lenin who had no intention of creating a utopian society.  He only used the term to gain support for his own version of a dictatorship.

If it hadn’t been for WWI the Leninist form of communism may not have happened.  The Germans sent Lenin to Russia from exile, and gave him millions to start a revolution so they could get Russia out of the war and fight on just one front.  It worked, and Lenin soon pulled Russia out of the war.

Lenin’s form of communism was no better than any other form of dictatorial government.  Yes, he took property away from some of the rich but he didn’t give it to the peasants, he formed collective farms that the peasants were forced to work.  He also maintained the industrialists and their positions to run his now government seized industries.  As a result, the average Russian did not gain significantly in economic status.  There was never an intention to let the average Russian people grow economically.

After WWII, Mao followed Lenin’s philosophy and was able to overthrow the government of China.  There too, a dictatorship under the guise of communism was formed.  It was no more communist than Lenin’s Russia, but what the hell, it worked in Russia so it would work in China.  The funny thing is that the Chinese and the Russians never really liked each other.  Dictators never really do like each other.  At some point one of them will try to take over the other.

The government set wages that were a bit higher than before the revolution, but not significantly higher.  Yet, the bureaucrats and industry leaders lived in luxury.  If you want to talk about income inequality at its worse, you just need to look at Russia under Lenin’s communist regime.

Under Lenin and then Stalin, the dictatorial regime masquerading as communism became even stronger.  Purges of political opponents made sure these people stayed in power.  All the while they were consolidating their power, they were dictating policy that affected the people of Russia.

There was a lot of talk about redistributing wealth in these communist countries.  But what really happened was that the wealth was redistributed to the government bureaucrats and industrialists not the people.  Right after the fall of the Soviet Union, there sure were a lot of suddenly rich multi-millionaires in Russia.  Where did they suddenly get their wealth?

So, what does all of this have to do with America?  Since the right-wing does not want to let go of the cold war, we continuously hear about communists trying to bring down our country.  And, there are a lot of similarities going on in our country right now.

Under Leninist communism, industries received large government subsidies to maintain productivity.  Yes, they were supposedly “government-owned”, but the money still came from the government.  In our country today, many companies receive large government subsidies as well.  Companies like oil and gas companies and chemical companies receive large government subsidies at taxpayer expense.

Other companies like Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Burger King, and other minimum wage employers receive billions of dollars in government subsidies in the form of government safety nets for their employees.  Things like food stamps and WIC and health care subsidies for their employees so they don’t have to pay a livable wage.

In Lenin’s Russia, industrialists and government bureaucrats paid little or no taxes.  Today, politicians are still trying to keep taxes very low for the rich and corporations.  One in four corporations in America today do not pay any corporate taxes.  Yet, many of them still receive government subsidies on top of not paying taxes.

Lenin’s Russia forced the people to practice a religion known as the state.  The state was the only thing that mattered.  Although they did not directly outlaw people from practicing their religion, it was very strongly discouraged.  Today we have people who are attempting to force everyone to believe in one form of religion.  If you disagree with them, they complain that you are waging war on their beliefs.

In these communist regimes, the state dictated every aspect of a normal life.  They forced people to follow a strict living style whether they believed in it or not.  Today, we have similar people trying to force a particular living style on everyone else.  They even have introduced legislation in some states that would make it legal to discriminate against anyone who doesn’t believe what they believe.

As in all dictatorships, the number one goal of women was to have babies.  It is necessary to keep the population growing so more “workers” or “soldiers” are available to help the state.  We have similar beliefs running rampant today in our country.  Everything from denying equal pay for equal work to outlawing abortion and birth control are all aimed at keeping women in their place and having babies.

Non-Russian minorities were hugely discriminated against in the Soviet Union.  These minorities did not enjoy the same “rights” as Russians.  The Soviet Union was Russia’s empire after all.  Today we see civil rights under attack again in America.  Voter Suppression Laws and attempts to codify discrimination are just a couple of examples.

So, when you look at the name calling, especially the communist tagline, who are the real communists in American politics?  Is it the people who want to ensure equal treatment for our citizens or people who want to suppress the vote to minorities?

Is it the people who want to ensure equal protection under the law for everyone regardless of beliefs, or those who want to dictate which lifestyles are acceptable and be able to discriminate against anyone who doesn’t agree with their dictates?

Is it the people who want fair and equal pay for their labors, or those who fight against a livable wage and equal pay for equal work regardless of the sex of the worker?  Is it those who want to see everyone with health care, or those who believe that if you are poor you don’t deserve any health care and if you die, you die?

Is it the people who want to decrease the huge income inequality to help grow our economy, or those who want to make that inequality even bigger so the rich get richer at the expense of the labor force?  Is it the people who think that the poor, disabled and elderly should be protected by social safety nets, or those who believe they should be cut loose while increasing subsidies to large corporations?

If you want to see who could reasonably be called a communist based on the cold war definition of communism, you just have to look at the platforms of the two political parties.  I know whom I believe are the communists, you will have to make up your own mind.

 

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I spent the last few days just kind of relaxing and escaping in fantasy.  Friday was a total blowout since my wife had some dental work done.  Everything is fine, but we spent a lot of time at dentist offices getting her fixed up.  Getting old can be a bitch sometimes.  This may sound weird, but I usually take my comedy escapes watching shows on TV like “Ancient Aliens” and “Finding Bigfoot”.

I don’t find them comical because of their beliefs in their topics.  I find them comical because they talk like they are quoting facts instead of ideas or theories.  According to the Ancient Aliens people, ancient man was just too dumb to build things like the pyramids, sphinx, or those grand temples.  They had to have help from ET.  Without the technical help from ET, none of the ancient wonders would have been built.  This isn’t their opinion, they actually want you to believe that it is fact.  They even trot out people who claim that “modern building technology can’t be as precise as these buildings” so it had to be built by superior intellectual ETs.

According to them, it is ancient man’s “misinterpretation” of space ships and ET that explains man’s belief in gods.  One episode even explained that the dinosaurs were killed of by ET in order to make human existence possible.  It seems that ET brought their fighters in to just blast the dinosaurs off the face of the planet so we could evolve.

In Finding Bigfoot, they go into communities to make sure that everyone who claims that they have seen Bigfoot are proven right.  Of course in the entire run of the show, they have never uncovered proof of Bigfoot’s existence, like a body or DNA, yet they talk like they are experts in Bigfoot’s behavior.  One aspect that always makes me laugh is that the vast majority of the sightings have taken place during the daytime.  Yet, they are certain that Bigfoot is a nocturnal hunter and they conduct their searches at night.  Apparently, Bigfoot loves to eat deer, beaver, goats, sheep, geese, etc.

During my viewing time watching Finding Bigfoot, I was struck by something.  The experts seemed to smoothly change their explanations of Bigfoot’s behavior depending on which story they were listening to.  That, unfortunately, reminded me of conservative news shows and talk shows.  These Bigfoot researchers were as adept at changing facts as Fox News is at changing facts of the news item to suit their purpose.  That got me thinking.

Prior to the mid-term elections, Fox News and conservative talk radio were full of ISIS and Ebola threat stories.  Both of these were talked about as the “end of the world was coming” because of them.  The object was to scare the hell out of anyone who watches Fox News to get them to vote Republican.  Funny thing, since the election both of these terrible apocalyptic events haven’t been mentioned very much if at all.  Today’s Fox News website doesn’t have a single Ebola or ISIS threat story.

That is the biggest problem with conservative news outlets and the Republican Party.  They are not interested in telling the American People what their policies are.  They already know that the majority of the people oppose their policies.  So, in order to keep winning elections, they have fallen back on “scare them to death” propaganda.  Since it is our basic nature to become afraid, they use that psychology to scare enough people to vote against their interests.

Their co-plotter in all of this is the Conservative Christian Cult.  Let’s face facts.  The Conservative Christian Cult is anything but Christian.  This is not a knock against Christians.  This is calling out the Cult for what it is.  Basically, the Conservative Christian Cult is a totalitarian dictatorship that bullies its followers with fear.  They tell their followers that if they “stray from the path”, their path, that they are doomed to hell.  They tell people that if you are not wealthy, it is because you do not deserve to be wealthy.  You either don’t have the right desire to become wealthy, or you have been guilty of something that means God won’t give you riches.

I realize that is a simplification of their teaching, but that basically is the gist.  That is why you hear things like it is “God’s will” whenever something happens, good or bad.  The Cult makes it seem like every rich person is rich because God favors them.  Therefore, the rest of us should stop whining about income inequality and glorify God’s will.  So what if your employer doesn’t pay you enough to make ends meet.  That is right of the rich person to dictate what you are worth.  God gave them that right.

I earlier stated that the Cult is anything but Christian.  You can tell that just by listening to their rhetoric about how the poor is lazy.  How homosexuals are a scourge of evil.  How scientists are vehemently anti-Christian.  All of which are total fabrications beget from power-hungry thugs who are no more interested in spreading the Christian beliefs than a Celtic Pagan is.  All they are interested in is reaping the big donations and living the good life while their followers live near the poverty line.  That is why they mostly quote the Old Testament instead of the New Testament.  Don’t really preach about what Jesus taught.  After all, he was more of a socialist than a capitalist.

The problem is that so-called progressives don’t seem to want to engage against these fanatical power grubbing thugs.  They don’t seem to understand that you must fight these quacks by calling them out.  Progressives are just as religious as anyone else.  But, they seem to be afraid to fight back using religious beliefs against Cult’s false religious teachings.  It should not be a risk to show that the Cults religious teachings are not Christian.  Simply evoking the same empathy that Jesus taught would be helpful.  But, for some reason, progressives won’t go into that battle.

While Republicans are scaring the hell out of people with fantasy instead of facts, progressives are not poking holes in their arguments.  While the Cult is scaring their followers with eternal damnation, progressives are not pointing out that their policies are more Christian than the Cult’s.  In order to win the battle, you must at least be willing to engage in it.

Conservatism is by definition backwards looking.  The late Conservative William F. Buckley once said that a “true conservative stands in front of the march of time and yells, STOP!”  If you talk to most Americans, you will discover that is not the philosophy they want the country to follow.  They want the country to move forward with the march of time.

Man is a natural creature.  We have basic instincts.  One of the biggest instinct is survival.  That comes from our instinct of fear.  Republicans, their media outlets, and the Cult have mastered the art of playing to our fear.  They try to make us afraid of everything.  Those “others” who are trying to take your job away.  Those “others” who are trying to kill you.  Those “others” who are trying to spread infectious diseases.  Those “others” who are trying to destroy your marriage by marrying the person they love regardless of sex.  And, progressives let them get away with it.

So, as I sat watching my comedy relief shows over the weekend, I realized that the biggest difference between the experts on these shows and the conservative media, is that these experts actually believe what they are selling.  Compared to the conservative media which changes stories when they can stir up more fear.  Both play to man’s natural instincts.  Unfortunately, too many people don’t see the comic relief in conservative media as they may in Ancient Aliens.  I guess that is because Ancient Aliens and Finding Bigfoot don’t try to scare people and that, at least to me, makes them more factual.

 

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Guess what is on the ballot in Alabama?  There is an initiative to create a state constitutional amendment that would outlaw Sharia Law.  Pat Robertson was the driving force behind this movement.  Oklahoma has already passed such an amendment, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional.  Other states have passed similar laws, but they called them “foreign laws”, instead of Sharia.

Now, no one that I know has ever called Pat Robertson one of the great thinkers of our time.  But, maybe, just maybe he is onto something.  Now before you start calling me Islamaphobic, please hear me out on this.  The problem for conservatives on this issue is that they haven’t thought this out completely.  That is not surprising since they don’t think out anything beyond knee-jerk reactions.

See, according to the conservatives behind this initiative, Sharia Law only refers to Islamic Laws.  They are wrong.  It basically refers to  the moral code and religious law of a prophetic religion.  It is clear that Christianity is also a prophetic religion.  Therefore, Sharia Law can be Christian as well as Islamic or Judean.

So, let’s look at just a couple of broad interpretations of Sharia Law.  First, under Sharia Law, women are considered second class citizens.  They are openly discriminated against.  It is even legal for a husband to beat his wife for insubordination.  It is illegal for a female heir to inherit the same amount as a male heir.  Women are not allowed to earn the same pay as men doing the same work.  Therefore, if Alabama passes this initiative, it is right to assume that unequal pay for the same work would be illegal in Alabama.  Therefore, every woman who is currently not being paid the same salary for the same work as their male counterparts must be given an immediate raise.

Sharia Law prohibits all forms of homosexuality, including same-sex marriage.  It allows private citizens to discriminate against homosexuals.  If the initiative in Alabama is passed, it will instantly become illegal for Alabama not to recognize same-sex marriages or to allow any discrimination against homosexuals.  That includes being able to fire someone simply because they are homosexual.

These are just two issues that would have to be overturned or recognized if Sharia Law is banned in Alabama.  If the state refuses to recognize same-sex marriage or allow women to continue to receive less pay than a man doing the same work, they would be allowing Sharia Law to be practiced in their state.  That would be against their own laws.

Furthermore, all prayers in all government activities, like opening of the state assembly or in public schools would also be immediately banned.  Sharia Law clearly allows for prayers at such places.  Therefore, the state would have to immediately outlaw all forms of prayer in public areas.  Plus, the Ten Commandments would have to be taken down from all of the Alabama court houses and other government buildings.

Religious scenes like the Nativity Scene would be immediately outlawed on all government property regardless of who pays for it.  By allowing such religious scenes to continue to be displayed would be a violation of the ban on Sharia Law which clearly endorses such activities.

The list goes on and on.  What the conservatives in Alabama with their initiative of banning Sharia Law actually is doing is taking religion completely out of government.  So, it could be argued that they are merely endorsing the First Amendment that already enforces a separation of church and state.

Since American Law is known for its broad interpretations, all of these items are real possibilities if Alabama is successful in outlawing Sharia Law.  Maybe that would be a good thing.  I am quite sure that imaginative lawyers could find arguments using the anti-Sharia Law to poke holes in other social issues like birth control, abortion, voter suppression, and others.

If this initiative does pass, instead of immediately challenging the constitutionality of it, lawyers should start using the ban to stop the discrimination that is the norm in many parts of the country, including Alabama.  I would love to see a good lawyer use these idiotic laws against the conservatives to finally smash their conservative social agenda.  That would be a fight worth watching.  Besides the conservative fight against using this law to outlaw their agenda would show the country once and for all their hypocrisy in just about everything.

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As my readers know, I rarely tell people what to do.  I have offered suggestions on why it is important to vote this mid-term and what I envision would happen if the ultra-conservatives win the Senate.  There are several extremely close races that will determine the outcome of the elections, and the direction that ultra-conservatives will try to move the country.  Naturally, if the ultra-conservatives win the Senate, they will yell that it was a “mandate” against everything Obama.  If they don’t win the Senate, they will find something like “voter fraud” to express why they didn’t win.

Our free speech guaranties have made it very possible for us, as normal people, to either express happiness over our political outcomes, or to bitch about them.  It is our right to bitch about things.  We have worked hard to ensure that these rights exist.  Our service members have fought wars to ensure our right to bitch whenever we want.

The problem has become that too many people don’t bother to vote, and then bitch about the outcome.  They use the tired excuse of “they are all alike, so why bother.”  The last several elections have proven beyond reasonable doubt that “they are NOT all alike.”  There are vast differences between the two political parties.

Those differences and the policies that will surely come from the winner, will have a major impact on our country, our economy, and our people.  When I say our people, I mean YOU!  That is something that you really need to think about when you decide to vote or not tomorrow.  Mid-term elections are generally low turnout events.  People think that just because the President isn’t being determined, it really doesn’t matter as much.  But, it matters just as much as if the President was being decided.

The mid-terms this year will determine who runs Congress.  How Congress behaves and what laws they will try to impose on us is the big item that needs to be thought about.  The one item that I noticed is that this mid-term election has resulted in more money being spent on the races than any race in our history.  Over $4 Billion Dollars has been spent on this election.  Since about 75% of it has come from ultra-conservative groups and billionaires, they must see the importance of this mid-term election.

The winner will have an upper hand in determining everything from economics, education, environment, foreign policy, gender issues, heath, immigration, religious beliefs, and a host of other freedoms and policies.  At the State level, the elections will determine a host of things from abortion to voting rights, and everything in between.  That is why the ultra-conservatives are spending so much money on these elections.

So, it comes down to whether or not you vote.  You have the right to vote as they say.  But, more importantly, you have a DUTY to vote.  Throughout my life I have heard all the talk about how “freedom isn’t free” and that our service members “pay for our freedom”.  Well, the one thing that civilians in this country has a duty to perform is to VOTE!

Naturally, I prefer that people vote for progressive policies and candidates.  However, what is more important is that you actually vote.  Voting is a way to let our representatives know whether or not we agree with their policies.  Large turnouts can give one party a mandate to put into place their ideas.  On the other hand, a low turnout doesn’t give either party any kind of mandate.  It doesn’t even allow either party to realistically know if their policies are favored by the majority of the public.

Therefore, it is imperative that every registered voter cast a ballot.  The winner will say that the silence of the majority of voters is a backing of their ideas.  It is not.  The only way to show backing or opposition to ideas is to vote.  If you don’t vote, you lose your right to bitch.  You may still have that constitutional right to bitch, but in essence you have given up your right to bitch.  In order to be heard, you must exercise your duty and vote.  If you don’t, just shut up!

In past articles I laid out my opinions about why I have voted progressive.  I believe that is the only way to keep our freedoms and grow our economy and society.  I don’t care if you agree with me or not.  I only want you to go to the polls and vote.  If you don’t, I don’t want to hear any complaints from you about any future policies that you disagree with.

Everyone lately want to ‘Thank a Vet.”  If you really want to thank us veterans, GO TO THE POLLS AND VOTE!  That is really “thanking the vets”.  Otherwise, just shut up.

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We are coming down to the finish line in the 2014 Mid-Term elections.  All of the major media are predicting that the Republicans will gain control of the Senate and thus the Congress.  This prediction is in the face of about 8 different elections still running neck-and-neck.  But, the media is counting on the usual low turnout for mid-term elections as proof that Republicans will win this time.  Historically, the higher the turnout the better Democrats do.  The lower the turnout. the better Republicans do.

Many people usually look at the mid-terms as something that simply wastes time.  There is no presidential election and therefore, they believe it won’t make much of a difference.  That is totally wrong thinking.  Especially in this mid-term election.  Fact.  Despite the usually low turn-out for mid-term elections, private conservative PACs are spending record amounts of money on this election.  If they are so convinced that their candidate is the people’s choice, why so much money?

Since the Supreme Court handed down the Citizens United decision, our election process has become something that would normally carry a sign that says “for sale.”  PACs don’t have to say where the money is coming from.  Bribery apparently is legal now, witness the Norquist Pledge.  The fact is that when a small group of people are able to purchase elections and control the winning candidates, we have lost our democracy.  We have moved into an oligarchy.

Poor Mitt Romney is still living in his little fantasy world.  According to poor Mitt, if the Republicans gain control of the Senate, gridlock will suddenly go away and “bills will get passed”.  He even thinks that Immigration Reform will get passed.  Apparently, poor Mitt hasn’t been listening to the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.  Witty Mitch has already said that if the Republicans win the Senate, he plans on passing legislation that will surely be vetoed by the President.

The first piece of legislation he plans to pass is the total repeal of the Affordable Care Act.  He doesn’t have any plan to replace it, he just hates it so much that he wants to repeal it.  There are about 600,000 people in his own State of Kentucky that got insurance for the first time in their lives.  Should McConnell get his wish, those 600,000 people will suddenly find themselves without health insurance again.  But, witty Mitch doesn’t care about them.  The Koch Brothers are against the ACA, so it must go.

Poor Mitt also apparently hasn’t kept touch with the in-fighting inside the Republican Party either.  Does he really believe that the wonderful Canadian Senator Cruz has any intentions of actually governing?  Does he really believe that should any “moderate” piece of legislation be introduced by a Republican Senate Cruz won’t be filibuster it?  The Canadian Senator hasn’t shown any respect for the leadership of the party up to this point.  Does poor Mitt really believe he will “buckle under” if the Republicans win?

Since President Obama was elected, there have been a host of bills passed by the Senate that has died in the House.  He did manage to get the ACA passed in the first two years because the Democrats controlled the House.  But since then, Immigration Reform, The Fair Wage Act, Jobs For Veterans act, Transportation and Infrastructure Bill, and a host of others have languished in the Republican House.  And who was one of the biggest antagonists in the House?  The de-facto Speaker of the House Senator Ted Cruz.

The Republicans led by Cruz caused the last government shutdown.  Does poor Mitt really believe that the first order of business of Cruz won’t be to shut down the government again?  All in the name of repealing the ACA?  I can see it now.  The Senate will pass a bill repealing the ACA.  The House will support it and pass it as well.  The President will veto the bill.  Since the Republicans won’t have enough votes to override the veto, the bill will die.

The next step will be Canadian Senator Ted Cruz ramping up his fellow wacko right-wingers to fight anything like raising the debt ceiling or creating a budget.  That will cause the government to shut down.  Cruz will go on air and tell the country it is the President’s fault because he won’t sign the repeal legislation.  He may even go so far as to say that once the President signs the bill, the government will be able to reopen.  He is a master hostage taker, after all.

All the while, senior citizens needing their social security checks and their medicare bills paid will do without.  Veterans will do without their medical and retirement benefits.  For example, someone who relies on their social security check won’t get it.  Retired veterans won’t get their pension checks either.  Banks will start calling in loans like mortgages and the average American will suffer all the while Cruz and his Congressional cronies keep getting their checks.

But, you have to remember who is behind this scheme.  Neither witty Mitch nor Canadian Cruz are smart enough to plan all of this by themselves.  No, this is coming from places like the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove, and the Heritage Foundation.  None of which really give a shit if seniors and veterans lose their homes or starve, for that matter.

Oh, I can see a lot of other wonderful pieces of legislation coming down the pike.  You will most definitely see a Personhood Constitutional amendment simply to outlaw abortion.  You will see a massive tax cut for the 1% and a raise to the rest of us.  You will see a bill eliminating the Department of Environmental Protection.  You will see a bill eliminating the Department of Education.  You will see bills deregulating every form of business.  You will see a bill eliminating the Minimum Wage.  You will see all Consumer Protection Laws repealed.  You will see a bill to build a “Berlin-type” wall at our southern border complete with gun turrets.  I wouldn’t be shocked if you saw a bill declaring an Official Religion, needless to say it won’t be Islam.

All anyone had to do during this election cycle was to listen carefully to the ads that were produced by the Koch PACs, Citizens’ United and other Conservative PACs to hear all of these being proposed.  They are nothing new.  The Conservatives have been preaching them for years.  So, don’t be surprised when they try to make them law.  Is that what poor Mitt thinks is “governing?”

Finally, no one will be surprised when the “impeach Obama” cries are started.  They don’t have any grounds to impeach anyone, much less the President, but that won’t stop them from trying.  We will be faced with the most turbulent two years of “governing” in our history.  That is what we face if the Republicans gain control of the Congress.

So, as you can see, it all comes down to turnout.  Republicans have tried to artificially keep voter turnout low through their Voter Suppression laws.  Now they are counting on you not to care enough to let them have power.  Maybe the question is “would you rather live in a democracy or in an oligarchy?”  If you think oligarchs like the Koch Brothers should run the country, that is what you will get.  If you believe we need to keep living in a democracy, you will turn out to vote.  It is that simple.  Nothing but your future and your children’s future depends on it.

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At the start of every ballgame or other function, people stand and sing the national anthem.  They proudly sing those words written during the War of 1812.  The song ends with “the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”  With the ending everyone cheers and settles in to watch whatever event they are at.

Since 2011, veterans all around have been told “thank you” for your service.  There are so many “thank you” events that it is beginning to turn my stomach.  Maybe one of the reasons for my acid reaction to those “thank you” is because they have come so absent-mindedly and automatically.  No thought is given to those words before they are uttered.

I grew up in the 50s and 60s.  I lived through the civil rights fights.  I saw how terrible discrimination was to my fellow citizens.  During the 60s the Vietnam war became a hot button.  Youth around the country rebelled against society.  The Hippie movement started and the saying was “turn on and drop out.”  Bust most of us didn’t drop out.  We fought against the war and against discrimination.

In 1970 I entered the service.  I served my country from 1970 to 1990.  I served under 5 presidents and saw the changing of the country.  In 1980, Ronald Reagan became president.  He talked about that “shining city on a hill” that the rest of the world wanted to be like.  But, it was also Reagan who stood by and watched as hundreds if not thousands of our fellow citizens died from AIDS.  Reagan didn’t want to do anything because at first it mostly affected gays.  It wasn’t until more straight people became sick and died from AIDS before he started to actually talk about it.  He never really did anything about it.

Reagan started the “divide and conquer” mentality of the Republican Party.  He was very anti-union and broke the Air Traffic Controllers Union because they had the audacity to strike over better pay and working conditions.  Rather than deal with the problem, he simply fired them all.  That was the first shot fired across the bow of “liberty”.

Since 9/11 we have been at war.  First it was Afghanistan, then it was Iraq.  We were finally able to draw out of Iraq, but we are still fighting in Afghanistan.  In Iraq, the government there at the time did not want us to keep forces in the country.  So, we completely left.  Then, in recent years, ISIS started gaining ground.  The new government requested our help and we are now bombing the country again.  So far, the only “boots on the ground” are advisors and trainers.

In Afghanistan, their government wants us to keep a force there after we draw down.  So the war in Afghanistan will continue for an unforeseeable future.  We have lost thousands of our men and women in these wars.  Our wounded are in the thousands as well.  Yet, the Republicans in congress has continually cut the budget for the Veterans Administration.  Meaning thousands of our veterans are not getting the help they need.

But, I guess we are supposed to accept “thank you” as our payment for the hardships we face.  It has always been very easy for the country to send our troops to war.  It has always been almost impossible for our country to offer the help and medical treatment we need once we come home.  It is almost like veterans are supposed to just fade away when the country is finished with them.  Isn’t a thank you enough?

Back home things really started getting nasty in 2000.  We all remember the presidential election that year.  The one with the hanging chads.  That was when the Republicans decided that everyone should not be allowed to vote.  They started introducing legislation at the state level called Voter ID laws.  Their main argument was to stop in person voting fraud.  Let it be known that in Texas, one of the states with the most restrictive Voter ID Laws, that between 2000 and 2012 over 20 million votes were cast.  In that time, there were a 2 cases of in person voter fraud.  But, that didn’t stop them from yelling about voter fraud.

Of course the real intention of these Voter ID laws is to keep minorities, young people, and senior citizens from voting.  That is because these groups tend not to vote Republican and many don’t have a “state approved” ID card.  I find it amusing that in these Voter ID law states, a gun registration card is a valid ID, but a student ID card from the State’s University is not.

Then states started banning same-sex marriage.  They had to have only “one man and one woman” marriages.  See, if you allowed same-sex couples to marry, straight marriages will begin to fall apart.  The very thought of giving same-sex couples the same civil rights as everyone else is simply too abhorrent to even think about.  If you don’t look at homosexuals as “real people” it is easy to discriminate against them.

Banning same-sex marriages wasn’t good enough for these right-wing crusaders.  They started to introduce “freedom of religion” laws.  Sounded catchy.  But, these laws only had one objective.  Allow private business to discriminate against anyone who did not have the same belief system as the owner of the company.  Though it mostly went after gays, it was intended to be broad enough that any group that was looked down upon to be legally discriminated against.  You know people like interracial marriages or Muslims and Jews.

Abortion was another civil right that has been attacked.  According to the right-wing, women simply don’t have the mental capacity to make their own decisions about whether or not to carry a pregnancy to full term.  The state had to step in and make sure they made the choice for them.  All of this in the name of “getting the government out of our lives” which is an infamous battle cry of the far right.  That wasn’t enough either.  Now they are going after birth control as well.

Right-wing activists started fighting against the minimum wage.  While people were beginning to fight for a minimum wage increase, the right-wing started waging a war to end the minimum wage altogether.  This plan was backed by corporations who thought they could increase their profits simply by paying their workers less.  On top of that, women are being paid at least 70 cents on the dollar less than men doing the same work.  But, since they are women, they should just shut up and not complain about it.  After all, men are nice enough to even allow them into the workforce.

The reality is that the people we used to call WASPs are becoming terrified that they are losing their grip on power.  It is becoming clearer to them that their days are numbered.  In order to sustain their power, they need to rig the system so the rest of our citizens are marginalized and denied basic civil liberties.  In the name of Christianity, things like welfare, food stamps, WIC, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security have been attacked and cut.  Seems the Conservative Christian Cult doesn’t believe that helping the needy is really part of Christianity.

We have turned into a country where women are continuously objectified by the morons.  Abuse and rape are being blamed on the victim not the abuser or rapist.  Women are not only treated as second-class citizens, but they are considered “bubble-heads” who cannot think for themselves.  Homosexuals are demonized simply for being themselves.

Rights are being based on the religious beliefs of a very few and not on the constitution.  Unarmed people are being shot to death by an ever-increasing militarized police without the shooter being prosecuted.  After all, they must have had it coming.  Immigrants are being criminalized with no immigration reform on the horizon.

We have become a country where your civil rights are being decided by billionaires and bigoted nut cases in a dark room somewhere and not by the constitution.  If this continues, how much longer will it be before all of our rights are denied.  The real battle against civil rights is being fought at the state level more than the Federal Government.  State Legislatures controlled by Republicans are terrified they will lose their grip on power.  That is something they are determined not to have happen.  They gerrymander voting districts and pass laws that are intended to disenfranchise voters they don’t like.

When you go to the voting booth this mid-term, ask yourself one question.  Are we really the “land of the free and the home of the brave” anymore?  If you are a right-wing conservative, you will probably say yes because your rights are not being denied.  If you are anyone else, you may have your doubts.  Maybe those doubts will be enough for you to cast your vote for equality and freedom and against the right-wing nuts.

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The mid-terms are just a couple of weeks away.  There are some that predict that the Republicans will gain control of the Senate.  While others say it is still possible for the Democrats to keep it.  There are some conservatives that are almost giddy over the prospect of taking over the Senate.  Due to the gerrymandered districts, it is almost impossible for the Democrats to take over the House.

The real fact of the matter is that it really doesn’t matter if the Republicans take the Senate.  All it will mean is that the stagnation we have seen in Washington since Obama became President will get even worse.  All it will mean is that the Republicans will use their “hostage taking” practices even more than they have in the past.  That is not a good way to run a country.

We all know that the vast majority of the Republican agenda would not be signed by the current president.  Even if they take the Senate, the Republicans won’t have enough votes to over ride vetoes.  That means in general nothing will get done, except a lot more President Obama bashing.

There has been a lot of talk about the differences between the Republicans and Democrats during this cycle.  But, in my opinion, all of this talk has missed the point totally.  This isn’t about traditional Conservative vs. Progressive politics.  This is about whether or not we live in a country with equal rights and justice for everyone.  It is about whether or not we continue to be one of, if not the, true democracy in the world.  If the current batch Republicans were ever to win both houses of Congress and the White House, our democracy will take a drastic turn for the worst.

If you take a few minutes to look and listen to the current Republican Party, you will hear nothing but hate and discontent towards everyone who doesn’t agree with their backwards thinking.  If you believe income inequality is wrong, you are against Republican candidates.  If you believe that people should be allowed to marry whom they want, regardless of race, religion, or sex, you are against Republican candidates.  If you believe that women together with their families and doctors should be allowed to decide on whether or not to have an abortion, you are against Republican candidates.

Republicans have waged a war against women’s rights for decades.  They have fought against the right for workers to unionize for decades.  They have fought to force Conservative Christian Cult’s beliefs on the rest of society.  They are fear mongering idiots who believe that the only way to win an election is to take the right to vote away from different groups of people who just might vote Democratic.

The current batch of Republicans have formed an evil alliance between Conservative Christian Cult, Ultra-Conservative billionaires, Tea Party, and Racists.  Sorry, but that is the only way to describe this alliance.  Conservative Christian Cult members want to force their brand of Christianity on everyone else.  If you don’t follow their religious beliefs, you are considered a Christian in Name Only (CINO).  They say they are against the government meddling in your religious beliefs.  Yet they want a “Personhood” amendment that would totally ban abortions.  Even if your religious beliefs says it is okay.  They are against marriage equality.  They are even against the right of gays to live in peace.

The Tea Party is the ultra-conservative wing of the Republicans.  They will tell you that if you are not a Tea Party Member, you are a Republican in Name Only (RINO).  They just want to form a government that throws the poor under the bus.  You will hear all kinds of arguments against Welfare, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and Taxes.  But you won’t hear a word about the subsidies given to oil companies, utilities, farmers, etc.  These people also want government “out of our lives”.  Yet they are also against abortion and equal marriage rights.  It seems like every time a Tea Party candidate talks about liberty, they are demanding that about half of the country’s population not be allowed those same liberties.

The billionaire club led by the Koch Brothers simply want to form a dictatorship based on the philosophy that the country should return to the “good ole days” of the 19th century and the Robber Barons.  It is perfectly right for them to make millions of dollars every year, but the rest of us should have to work our asses off just to get by on $2 per hour.  It is the Tea Party and the Billionaires who want to eliminate the minimum wage and pass laws outlawing unions.

I don’t think we have to discuss much about the Racists.  You just need to look at the voter suppression laws that have been passed in several states to know their agenda.

In this mid-term election, one party is screaming about liberty all the while they are passing laws that take liberty away from anyone who isn’t like them.  They are screaming about getting government out of our lives, all the while they are passing laws that put government in the lives of women.  They are preaching about the American dream all the while they are fighting laws like raising the minimum wage and the Paycheck Fairness Act.

They have been screaming about our “porous southern border” but say nothing about our porous northern border.  They claim that Ebola will wipe us off the face of the planet, yet they continue to cut funding for the CDC and NIH.  They wanted a “Czar” for the fight against Ebola, yet screamed when one was named.  Their hypocrisy has no limits.  They believe that if they continue to fear monger, we will fall for their demagoguery.

In the last several years The Republican Party has seen a renaissance.  Unfortunately, unlike the renaissance in the past, this isn’t one of enlightenment, it is a return to the Dark Ages where religion and the wealthy rule the country.  We have already seen places that prove the Republican Platform is destructive to liberties and opportunity.  Just look at Kansas and Wisconsin.  These were supposed to be Conservative Republican utopias.  Yet they have turned out to be anything but utopia for the common citizen of the state.

There is still time to fight back.  To use their own phrase, “it is time to take our country back.”  This time we need to take it back from this evil alliance and restore freedom and democracy to the greatest country in the world.  But, we can’t do that unless you go to the polls and vote this mid-term.  Let the Republican Party know that they cannot bullshit us anymore with their fear mongering and their lies.  We have grown past the 19th century and refuse to go back.

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