End Times for God’s Own Party?

Hurricane Isaac: coincidence, or divine wrath?

The hand of God has reached out and smote the GOP with righteous wrath. Yea, even as Republicans struggle through the electoral valley of demographic decline, they are plagued by signs of divine displeasure.

 In little more time than it took Him to make the Earth, the Republican Party has been unraveling from blow after self-inflicted blow:

 -Prophet Paul Ryan’s starve-the-beast budget plan sounds to many voters like a fatal dose of snake oil;

 -Formerly devout members of God’s Own Party, such as Olympia Snowe, were driven from the fold. Charlie Crist, for the apostasy of joining the infidels who will gather in Charlotte, you are forever cast out of Bohemian Grove;

 -The serpent-tongued Todd Akin spake the truth of GOP beliefs about Eve’s wily daughters and their mysterious bodies, then tried to deny he meant what he said;

 -And finally, Hurricane Isaac descends on the Gulf Coast to pound retribution on Republican heads in Tampa for the sins of George, who was cast into the wilderness.

 Woe to thee, Republicans, for you’ve sorely tried the patience of all. Come November, you shall reap the whirlwind sown by your ideologically pure Christian soldiers, who will march the GOP right to its End Times.



If fundamentalist culture warriors won…

How would life in this country change if religious fundamentalists managed to “take it back?” A few predictions:

 The nation would be christened the United States of Christian America.

 Independence Day would be replaced by a day commemorating our rebirth as God’s favorite country.

 The Constitution would be discarded, the Supreme Court abolished and the Bible enshrined as the law of the land.

 Under “Stand Your Ground for The Unborn” laws, women could legally shoot their doctors dead for mentioning the health hazards of unlimited pregnancies.

 Due to the impending Apocalypse and Rapture, the Environmental Protection Agency would be abolished as irrelevant.

 The Department of Christian Education would forbid lessons on sex, evolution and environmental science while requiring curriculum on abstinence, Genesis (either version) and humanity’s right to use the planet however it wants right up to the End Times.

 An “infidel brain drain” of academics, researchers, scientists, executives and artists to other countries would leave us dependent on people with degrees in Bible studies.

 To meet a Christian Communications Commission (CCC) mandate to uphold the sanctity of traditional marriage and families, broadcasters would present endless reruns of “Father Knows Best” and “Cheaper by the Dozen.”

 All forms of commerce, business and entertainment except for religious broadcasts and reruns of “Father Knows Best” or “Cheaper by the Dozen” would cease from midnight Saturday to midnight Sunday.

 Facebook’s biggest growth in pages would be for prayer circles. Popular phone apps would include “Ultimate Heretic Hunters” and “Born-Again Birthday Cupcakes.”

 Contraceptives would be illegal. Abortionists and homosexuals who failed to heed loving Christian appeals to renounce their sinful ways could be executed.

 The “War on Porn” would beget a black market in banned books, DVDs and contraceptives, which would beget billionaire crime bosses.

 Christmas ornaments failing to meet the “Jesus is the reason for the season” standard would be banned.

 Halloween would be marked by prayer vigils and re-enactments of the Salem witch trials.

 Prisons would be turned into Christian re-education centers and executions (by hanging or stoning) would be public.

 Adults who failed to reproduce would pay deadbeat taxes as noncontributing members of society.

 In addition, single females 18 years or older would pay a spinster tax until they entered holy matrimony.

 Applications for jobs, college, passports, drivers licenses, marriage licenses, mortgages, leases, credit, loans, government benefits, guns and library cards would require checking one of the following boxes: “Born again,” “Christian,” or “Heretic.”

 Checking “Heretic” or failing to check any box would be grounds for denial of the application.

 Rates of depression, domestic violence, suicide, alcoholism and drug addiction would skyrocket, while funding for any form of treatment except prayer would disappear. 

 Our borders would be closed to any immigrants who didn’t swear they had accepted Jesus as their personal savior. The Department of Holy Land Security would deport alien heretics.

 Mexico and Canada would plead for help in coping with millions of illegal immigrants seeking asylum from oppression in God’s favorite country.

Icky Ricky and Which Mitt: A tale of two roosters

Once upon a time, a rooster named Which Mitt decided he would be a better barnyard leader than the Big Owl.

 But Icky Ricky, another rooster, also wanted to be the one in charge.

 They began crowing, loudly and nonstop, to see who had the scariest stories about each other and about Big Owl.

 “Which Mitt isn’t rooster enough to beat Big Owl,” screeched Icky Ricky. “And if Big Owl isn’t knocked off his perch soon, he’ll force every animal to eat broccoli! And he’ll let birds mate with bees! And then he’ll let them kill their offspring!”

 “I’m more rooster than Icky Ricky. My hens have the fanciest nesting boxes in the chicken house,” crowed Which Mitt. “We need to stop wasting feed and vet care on animals who don’t have enough to eat and a warm place to sleep, because if they don’t already have them they probably don’t deserve them.”

 Many of the animals believed the scary stories about Big Owl, but some were a little scared of Icky Ricky too, and a lot of them didn’t trust Which Mitt. They began braying, bleating and yowling: “Oh, what will we do? Who will save us from Big Owl?”

 They finally decided they were more alarmed by Icky Ricky than suspicious of Which Mitt. After that, all the roosters’ scare stories were about Big Owl, and they got scarier and scarier.

 “Big Owl is trying to brainwash your young! He’ll enslave us all!”

 Big Owl won again, mostly because he hadn’t done anything as scary as Which Mitt claimed. Life in the barnyard went on.

 A few of the animals still feared Big Owl, but the ones with bigger brains got tired of hearing the same old stories crowed at them.  

 Some of them began to wonder whether they’d been afraid of the wrong animals. And when the roosters crowed, nobody listened anymore.





American jihadist

Don’t let the dorky sweater vest fool you. Beneath that benign-looking garment beats the heart of an extremist, a radical more akin to the Islamic fundamentalists of the Taliban and the ultra-orthodox Jews of Israel than to mainstream Americans. If Rick Santorum and his fundamentalist fans ran this country, we’d have a Bible-based theocracy thrust upon us, a dictatorship of the most divisive, judgmental and intolerant among us.

If you believe that contraception is immoral and any sex except conjugal attempts to procreate is sinful, he’s your guy.

If you think “abortionists” (that inflammatory, demonizing term for doctors who perform a legal operation) ought to be punished, he’s your guy.

If you think our Constitutional rights ought to be limited to conform with Biblical precepts, he’s your guy.

Already, a state legislator in North Carolina (who said on taking office he’d pray for the Lord’s guidance) has suggested public hangings for doctors who do abortions, lumping them in with rapists and kidnappers.

Already, fundamentalists in state legislatures are trying to give legal personhood status to the unborn “from the moment of conception,” however that would be determined. This would enable birth control, abortion and even in vitro fertilization to be criminalized.

Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum wants single mothers and parents of adopted children punished with higher taxes as a way to promote “traditional” families, which she defines as married heterosexual couples raising their own children.

All this under Obama. Imagine the impetus of having a kindred spirit in the White House.

An exhaustive, five-volume study of fundamentalism worldwide edited by two Americans argues that it’s a political phenomenon and is inherently totalitarian. Its goal is to realign all aspects of a nation’s society and government according to rigidly defined and strictly enforced religious principles. There’s nothing democratic or broadly representative about it.

Rick Santorum has a right to his views and is entitled to run for President. Should he win, however, we’ll see a holy war against the right to live without religious interference.


Photo by Associated Press

Rick Santorum’s views: www.ricksantorum.com

“This is about a country that believes in God-given rights, and a Constitution that is limited to protect those rights.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/election-2012/post/rick-santorums-missouri-victory-speech-full-transcript/2012/02/07/gIQAGcUwxQ_blog.html

 “(Contraception is) not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, for purposes that are, yes, conjugal… but also procreative.” http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/02/rick-santorum-wants-your-sex-life-to-be-special/253104/

 Public hanging comment by Larry Pittman, Republican, North Carolina: http://www.wral.com/news/state/nccapitol/blogpost/10649801/

Rick Santorum’s signed Personhood pledge: http://www.personhoodusa.com/files/Keith%20Ashley/Santorum_Personhood.pdf

Phyllis Schlafly on marriage and taxes: http://www.eagleforum.org/column/2012/jan12/12-01-18.html

The Fundamentalism Project: http://www.illuminos.com/mem/selectPapers/fundamentalismProject.html

Public policy: If you want to play, you must pay (taxes)

Once again, the Catholic Church is seriously out of step with its parishioners and with mainstream Americans – far enough so that it has crossed the line into conduct of dubious legality.

In sermons all over the country, priests and bishops are urging opposition to a rule requiring no-copay insurance coverage of contraception for employees of faith-based organizations. Part of the Affordable Care Act, it covers millions of people employed in church-affiliated hospitals, social service agenies, charities and universities.

According to the dire pronouncements thundering from pulpits, this narrowly crafted rule constitutes a massive assault on the separation of church and state, and that all church-run organizations ought to be exempt from the contraceptives rule. In fact, many critics say any exemption from the coverage rule is too broad. Here’s how the American Medical Association’s journal of ethics puts it:

“Expanding the exemption would affect millions of teachers and guidance counselors, doctors and nurses, clerks and janitors, by interfering with their access to preventive health care that they deem necessary and in line with their own religious and moral beliefs. For those employees who do adhere to their employer’s religious position on contraception, providing coverage of contraception would not in any way force them to use it in violation of their beliefs.”

This is another example of extremism on the part of those who insist that their religious rights include foisting their particular notions of right or wrong on all people, regardless of their beliefs. 

And using their pulpits to urge followers into opposing public policy decisions approved by publicly elected officials appears to violate the no-electioneering rule required of tax-exempt organizations.

If church officials want to lobby for or against acts of government, let them first agree to pay taxes. Tax exemptions ought to be swiftly yanked from churches trying to influence public policy. There is no good reason for American taxpayers to subsidize those who seek to impose their beliefs on everyone. 







Challenge yourself

Margaret Heffernan, an author and former producer for BBC, has an explanation for why politics and even social relations in the United States have become so strained, partisan, divisive and nasty.

It’s not because those on the other side of the spectrum from us lack brains, a heart or courage. The problem is that we only pay attention to the wizards who tell us what we want to hear.  

In her latest book, “Willful Blindness,” Heffernan describes why we do this and the unfortunate effects of the phenomenon. Basically, we seek personal validation by screening out viewpoints we don’t agree with because they make us uncomfortable. The results include an ever-narrower perspective that becomes more extreme with every avoidance of alternative opinions.

She also describes how people’s opinions tend to move away from the edges of the spectrum and towards middle ground when they do allow themselves exposure to different ways of thinking.

With this in mind, President Obama’s attempts to seek grounds for compromise with his political opponents appears to be less a betrayal of principles and more a mature acknowledgement that nobody has a monopoly on truth or answers.

So in the spirit of a broad-minded search for solutions and a dispassionate analysis of facts, I have added conservative websites and publications to Bad-Influence’s media listings. One of them, World Net Daily, caused me an embarrassing Homer Simpson moment when I checked its media-listings page. It includes The Nation, Mother Jones, Progressive Review and the Village Voice, along with conservative stalwarts like The American Partisan, RushLimbaugh.com and Reason Magazine.

A leading conservative website with a broader offering of news sources than Bad-Influence? Doh!

Although Bad-Influence intends to be a resource for progressive activists, Heffernan’s writing has convinced me that nobody will get much of anything done until we pay more attention to opinions we don’t like. So I’m going to start looking at those conservative sites to crack my mind open a bit. Not so much that my brains fall out, but enough to recognize that there may be more than one path through the woods that will lead to home.



It’s time for the grownups among us to quit indulging the tantrums of the political 2-year-olds hollering “No!” unless they get their way.

One way to accomplish this would be for Democrats, Independents, Greens, Libertarians and moderates of all kinds to join the Republican Party. Take it back from the fanatics who denounce those even slightly left of center as extremists, Marxists or terrorists.

Today’s Tea Party followers are political Puritans – strident, inflexible, judgmental, convinced of their moral superiority and suspicious of anyone who doesn’t see everything as either-or, black or white and right or wrong.

Like children and fundamentalists of all kinds, they’re full of irrational fears, seeing monsters where none exist and unable to see any merit in opposing views.

Good parents don’t attempt to reason with, placate or compromise with toddlers throwing tantrums, for the very good reason that toddlers don’t have the mental capacity or life experience to be reached in those ways. As we’ve seen, giving in to them worsens the misbehavior.

Elections often are swung by a handful of votes. This is why the Tea Party has succeeded in gaining influence despite its small size. It is well organized and very active in getting out votes.

Politicians pay inordinate attention to such groups, knowing that they can provide a winning margin in a close race.

So it really shouldn’t be that hard to swing the pendulum back towards middle ground.

Switch your party registration to Republican. Then find a moderate Republican office holder near you, identify yourself as a Republican voter and tell him or her you support them. Even better, do a little volunteer work on their campaign. In primary elections, vote for anyone who isn’t a hard-right extremist.

None of this will prevent you from voting for the candidates of your choice in general elections, whatever their party might be.

If we don’t help the Republican Party strengthen its moderates, we’ll all be dragged down by kicking, screaming naysayers.