Two myths about Trump Republicans.

Myth #1. Trump Republicans are Conservatives.

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No. Trump Republicans are not conservatives, and here is why:

Conservatives believe in conserving things, not tearing everything to shreds.  Trump Republicans are radical fascists and anarchists who seek to tear down “the establishment” and all the things that made America great (and held it together) before. They seek to  replace those things with new things that will hurt the vast majority of people and destroy the Constitution itself (conservatives believe in upholding and defending the Constitution).

Conservatives believe in traditional values. But Trump Republicans literally worship a president who is a serial adulterer, slept with a porn star (while his third wife was pregnant), had five children by three different wives, and bragged about grabbing women by the pussy because he’s a big star who can do anything he wants (and then he denied ever saying it).   And he’s never, ever repented or apologized for any of it — or anything else he’s ever done.   It seems to me that if God chose Trump to be president (as some evangelicals believe),  he would have chosen someone who is NOT a narcissistic psychopath and also  someone capable of empathy, remorse, and repentance.

The concept of traditional values goes far beyond just family values, though.   Having traditional values also means you believe in civility, kindness, generosity, being nice to strangers, and holding your tongue if you have something unkind to say out of respect for that person’s feelings (or broaching the subject in a sensitive, mature way).   It means being neighborly.  It means being concerned about people who are not as fortunate as you are.   It means not mocking or demeaning people you dislike or who are different from you,  not calling immigrants “animals,” and not treating people of color and women like slaves or second class citizens.

Conservatives believe in small government.    Trump does not believe in small government.  Sure, he and his minions like to talk about small government, but the huge windfall they just gave to the rich and corporations through their tax scam created the hugest deficit in history, which is now in the trillions (which will be paid for by us — through huge cuts to earned benefits like social security and Medicare).

Sure, they’re slashing those annoying regulations (most of which help keep us all safe and healthy) because they don’t believe corporations should be accountable or responsible for anything at all,  but they sure would like to put a lot of new laws and regulations on private citizens, including our sex lives and reproductive freedom.  They’re busy expanding the military and turning ICE into the American Gestapo.   The Trump GOP is pushing through all kinds of new laws and bills that will greatly restrict our civil rights and freedoms, especially if you’re in one of the groups they don’t like or respect (women, LGBTQ, POC, and non-white immigrants).  They are also pushing through legislation that blurs the line that has always separated church and state in the name of “religious freedom” (which it’s anything but).

The endgame is an oligarch-controlled, evangelical “Christian” theocracy that wouldn’t differ much from living in Saudi Arabia under Sharia law — or Europe during feudal times.

So tell me again how Trump supporters don’t want big government?

Hell, they want fucking Big Brother.

Please stop calling Trump Republicans conservatives.  They are conserving nothing.

Myth #2: Trump Republicans Want to Bring Back the 1950s.

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Perhaps Trump Republicans like the idea of the 1950s — doting housewives whose lives revolve around husband and kids,  husbands as the breadwinners, girls who look like girls and boys who look like boys, clearly defined sex roles, conformity, safe suburban neighborhoods, low crime; children’s books, movies, and TV shows that feature lily white protagonists; and little tolerance for cultural or racial diversity or “difference.”

The sexism and racism of the 1950s is well known, but was not really the result of oppressive policy, just the kind of culture we lived in at the time.  Most people just took for granted this was the way things worked so it wasn’t an issue for most people — at least not for a few more years.  Blacks were definitely discriminated against under Jim Crow, but women at the time for the most part welcomed the opportunity to marry and have “victory children” once their men returned from overseas in the Second World War.   There were no laws that women could not pursue traditionally male careers or a more independent life; it just wasn’t something most women considered.

But the 1950s are also known for strong labor unions, higher taxes on the wealthy (in fact they were quite high!), well paying jobs that enabled even working class people to buy homes and new cars, New Deal policies that made it possible for the elderly to live (and die) with dignity and independence rather than be a burden on their children who were trying to raise their own families; affordable healthcare, doctors who actually spent time with their patients and seemed to care about them personally, companies that cared about their employees and offered good benefits and even pensions, good public schools and a strong emphasis on public education, a recognition that science and scientific research trumped superstition and religious dogma, a healthy respect for education and intellectualism, an importance placed on treating others well, having a moral compass and a sense of responsibility to the community,  and a general acceptance by all that for the greater good, the rich should pay more taxes.

Hell, by today’s standards, the 1950s were downright socialist!

During the 1950s (and through the early 1970s), government worked for the people instead of the other way around.  Our checks and balances were intact and working well. Sure, there were always problems — rampant sexism and racism, communist “witch hunts,” etc — but the gap between the rich and poor was low (much of this due to the rich being taxed at a much higher rate) and most people lived pretty well and felt secure in their lives.  Even the less educated, working class could afford nice homes, cars, vacations, and were able to raise children who would later be able to attend college and live better than their parents.   The American Dream was a real thing almost anyone could achieve, not the huge lie it is today.

Life was pretty good in the 1950s because of the things Trump and his staff want to take away from us:  all the New Deal changes FDR made after the Great Depression, including Social Security and Medicare;  high taxes on the rich and corporations; corporate requirements to offer certain benefits to employees, such as health insurance, overtime pay (time and a half) and holiday pay;  a minimum wage that was actually a living wage that kept up with inflation; strong public schools, strong labor unions, federal grants for college, a GI bill that allowed veterans and military personnel to purchase inexpensive homes,  large public works projects, public libraries, and a public interstate highway system; and all sorts of other things that made life more enjoyable and less stressful and made advancement possible for most Americans.   In the 1950s, most people trusted the government, and the government believed that taking care of its people created a healthier and more productive society — as it does in all healthy democracies.  We were the envy of the free world.

While Trump Republicans appear to bemoan the “traditional values” of the 1950s, they never stop to think about the fact that much of what Americans enjoyed then was possible because of a government that actually served its people, instead of one that expects to be served by the people.

Trump Republicans do not want to bring back the 1950s, because that would require them to do all the things they hate: raise taxes on the rich,  offer more social programs, increase funding for public works projects, public schools, libraries, and infrastructure, raise pay for teachers; take care of the elderly, sick and veterans;  improve our national parks and monuments (instead of destroying them and selling them off), encourage and support labor unions, and stop gerrymandering and suppressing votes.   It would require the realization that enhancing the common good matters more in building a strong nation and a strong economy than rewarding and placing value on only wealth and power.

Trump Republicans may want to bring us back to the ’50s, but it isn’t the 1950s — it’s the 1850s right before the Civil War and the Gilded Age — or maybe even the 1350s, if the Christofascists ever get their way.

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If Doug Jones does this, he will win Alabama.

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I’ve been very worried about the far-right religious demagogue and pedophile Roy Moore winning Alabama.   He and his Democratic opposition, Doug Jones, have been running neck and neck, and even after 9 women spoke up about Moore molesting them (in one case the woman was 14 years old when she was assaulted) and other complaints that Moore stalked teenagers at the mall, Roy Moore still has a better than good chance of winning in his state.  The reason he may still win, even though he is a horrible human being who preys on children, is because of where Roy Moore stands on abortion.

Even though I don’t live in Alabama (thank God), I’m worried about Moore winning because that will mean he’ll be in the Senate, and have greater influence and power.  We do not need religious extremists and unrepentant sexual predators (please don’t bring up Al Franken, because at least he apologized and took responsibility for his actions) like Moore in the US Senate or anywhere close to the federal government.

So I had a kind of brainstorm this morning.    Because so many Alabamans care so much about abortion, and vote on that one issue (even over homosexuality), Doug Jones needs to run on the abortion issue, and it doesn’t matter that he happens to be pro-choice.     He can make an excellent case why he’d be the better pro-life candidate (and why the Democratic Party is also the more pro-life party at the end of the day).

As it stands now, religious Alabamans will vote for Roy Moore because they believe Doug Jones is soft on abortion and therefore against God.  It doesn’t matter to them that Moore is himself an immoral man who preys on children and blasphemes Jesus when he justifies his molestation of a 14 year old by saying that Mary was only 14 when she was impregnated by Joseph (whatever happened to their belief in the Virgin Birth?).  No, they will still vote for Moore because of his anti-choice stance.

But here’s something to ponder.  It is a statistical fact that 50% — HALF! — of all births in America are paid for by Medicaid, which also covers children’s healthcare after they are born.  That’s a lot of babies that might have been aborted without Medicaid (and other support programs for mothers and their children).   Republicans like Roy Moore want to cut Medicaid or eliminate it altogether, as well as cut or eliminate other services that make it possible for poor women to have and raise their children.

If a poor woman loses or cannot access Medicaid, food stamps, and other services that help her and her unborn baby, both during pregnancy and after, do you think she is going to have the baby anyway without medical and other support?  No!  She is most likely going to choose abortion.  Most abortions in the US are done for financial reasons. Most women having abortions aren’t married middle or upper class women — they’re usually poor or very young women who have no health coverage and no support system in which they can raise their child.   If you refuse her Medicaid and support services, is she just going to say, “Hey, well, ok, I guess I’ll just give birth at home in my bathtub!”   Of course not.  This isn’t 1700.

Sure, there are a few women who can afford a child and have abortions because they just don’t want another child (or any at all), but they are in the minority. Even if abortion was outlawed, rich women would “take a trip to Europe” just like they did in the 1950s.

Facing an unplanned pregnancy is scary enough as it is.  If you have no money to afford prenatal care, labor and delivery, and medical care for the baby, and there is no support system that can help you, that’s even more terrifying.  Again, half of all births are funded by Medicaid. So if that is taken away or cut, most if not all of those poor women are NOT going to decide to have their babies in the bathtub.  It’s a lot easier to come up with $600 or $800 or so for an abortion than find the money for hospital care.  Even the poorest woman can usually get that kind of money in a pinch, even if she has to borrow it or use a payday lender.

Abortion rates have ALWAYS gone up during GOP administrations, when services like food stamps, Medicaid and family planning are cut.   Most women, when faced with other alternatives to abortion and given support, will choose to have their baby.  Cut off their support system and access to healthcare, more abortions.   It makes perfect sense.

Even though most Democrats are “pro-choice,” there are fewer abortions under Democratic administrations when access to family planning and healthcare and other services are more available.  This has been proven statistically.  Railing on about abortion being evil and then offering no alternatives to a desperate pregnant woman, especially if she’s poor, does absolutely nothing except shame and traumatize her.

Even if abortion were outlawed, desperate pregnant women who can’t afford a sudden “European vacation” would go to back alley butchers just like they did in the 1950s.  Illegal abortionists would pop up like mushrooms after a storm.   Women who are desperate are still going to get abortions even if they’re illegal, if no other support is given.

I really think if Doug Jones runs on this platform, and stresses the fact that abortions increase under GOP policies and decrease under Democratic policies, I think he could win over some if not most of the pro-life Christians.  Let’s face it.   Doug Jones seems like a good man and a nice person and unlike Roy Moore, I believe he actually cares about the people of Alabama, and he cares about women and children.    If pro-life Christians, many who vote on the abortion issue alone, could realize that Jones is actually the much more pro-life candidate at the end of the day, I definitely think they would vote for him  over an extremist, dishonest sexual predator like Roy Moore.

I’m actually going to send the link to this article to Doug Jones and urge him to address this issue in his campaign, because I think he’d win.  It’s important he wins so we don’t get someone like Roy Moore in the Senate.

The benefits of socialism.

Twenty or even ten years ago, if you mentioned single payer healthcare, even to Democrats, people would look at you like you had three eyes.  Single payer healthcare, in case anyone doesn’t know, is the system the rest of the developed world enjoys — one that is more efficient, costs everyone less, covers everyone, is less complicated, and is far more humane than our profit-based system that relies on middlemen (the insurance companies) who interfere with and undermine the doctor-patient relationship (because they exist not to keep people healthy, but solely to make a profit off human misery — which is inherently immoral).  No one in the developed world envies our unnecessarily complicated, cruel, mercenary, immoral, and unfair “healthcare” system, in which the quality of care you receive (or if you receive any at all) depends on how much you can afford to pay.

But in 2017, things have changed.    Recent polls show that a majority of Americans (52%) support single payer healthcare, with 69% of Democrats, and 35% of Republicans supporting it (not a majority, but still pretty impressive).  Even CEOs of Fortune 500 corporations are beginning to wake up to how single payer would benefit them by freeing them of the obligation to provide healthcare to their employees or pay a penalty if they don’t.

As the hardline (“Freedom Caucus”) Republicans and the Trump administration double down on their efforts to repeal and replace Obama’s signature achievement (his attempt to make healthcare more affordable for more people), many people are finally waking up to the fact that single payer is really the only option we have left — and the only option that will actually work.   Obamacare is definitely an improvement over nothing at all and now more Americans are covered than were before 2010, but since it was originally a Republican plan developed by the conservative Heritage Foundation (and later used by Mitt Romney for his Massachusetts constituents), it still is based on a system of delivery where healthcare is funneled through profit-oriented insurance companies instead of the government, as it is in all other developed countries.

Now that Senator McCain has said he will vote “No” on the latest incarnation of Trumpcare (which means “no-care” to most of us), the GOP Senate is in full panic mode.  They’re so desperate for a win that they are trying to scare people into supporting their abomination of a bill.  Their latest scare tactic is to scream about “Berniecare” (a reference to Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill) being socialism and how it will destroy America.   They incorrectly insist that the ACA is a step toward socialism and a slippery slope to complete government control over our lives and everything we do.  They tell us that any kind of socialized healthcare or any socialism at all will lead to dictatorship and the removal of all our freedoms and the death of free enterprise.  They say that the only way to “freedom” is to kill the ACA and go back to the bad old days of having no healthcare plan at all where “personal responsibility” (code for ability to pay) was the only factor that decided whether you would receive care or not.

But they are gaslighting and projecting onto us.   It’s almost laughable how hypocritical these claims are.  It’s ironic that the party that is screaming about dictatorship and loss of freedom is the same one whose president is an intolerant, fearmongering demagogue who displays all the signs of being a budding dictator, who discredits and wants to silence the free press, who encourages police brutality and the militarization of police departments, who is backed by a party that is trying to roll back civil rights and freedoms, as well as consumer protections and protections for the environment. It’s laughable that the party that screams about freedom doesn’t want freedom for anyone but the rich, white, conservative, and Christian.   If you’re poor or even middle class, non-white, liberal, or don’t subscribe to a viciously authoritarian and aggressive form of Christian evangelism (Christian dominionism) that believes the “elect” have been favored by God with wealth and power (and aims to replace the Constitution with Old Testament law),  you aren’t worthy and you deserve to have all your freedoms and rights — or sometimes even your citizenship — taken away.

To these “federalists,” freedom means three things:   property rights, the right to bear arms, and “freedom of religion” (to them, this means not what the Founding Fathers — who were products of the Enlightenment and believed in the separation of church and state — meant by it, but the freedom to force your religious beliefs on others using the law to do so).   They talk about “small government” and believe the government should be responsible only for policing and the military (while closely monitoring and meting out punishment for the private behaviors of the people).   Concepts like freedom from harm, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” apply to them only.    If they had their way, they would outlaw any speech, press, or anything else that opposed their draconian, authoritarian, backwards views.  To them, freedom means if you’re wealthy, you shouldn’t have to pay taxes or contribute to the common good.   If you’re a corporation, it means you shouldn’t have to obey laws that require you to pay your employees a fair wage, not pollute the environment, or test products for safety before selling them to the public.

Capitalism works best when it’s leavened by socialism.   Uncontrolled capitalism quickly becomes tyranny.  What we have now is no longer a democracy.  It’s an oligarchy, where corporations are “people” with unlimited power, money is “free speech,” and the very wealthy and powerful are above the law and don’t have to abide by the same rules the rest of us do.  They can pollute, exploit, extort, abuse, and lie to the American people to their heart’s content.   They can infiltrate politics and buy votes.   That’s why the wealthiest .01% have so much power and we’re in the mess we’re in right now.   This sad state of affairs started insidiously with Reagan’s tax breaks for the wealthy, the war on labor unions, and removal of corporate regulations.   Now we have capitalism run amok, with our current government bought and paid for by the wealthiest corporate interests and assisted by an aggressive and powerful group of religious extremists.   Far from being a road to freedom, theirs is a culture of narcissism, entitlement, greed, and exploitation that oppresses everyone except themselves and their wealthy donors.

 

“The definition of fascism is the marriage between the corporation and the state.”

— Benito Mussolini

 

They have gaslighted us all along by convincing people the government is our real enemy, when all along it was the corporate and moneyed interests who were buying our government. Now we have all three branches of government hamstrung by the most hard right of Republicans to the point we are nearly a one-party country.

Think back to FDR and the New Deal.   After World War II, we became a world power like none before or since.  Of course, winning World War II helped our economy immensely, but had it not been for New Deal policies and labor unions that narrowed the gap between the richest and poorest, relieved people from the ravages caused by the Great Depression, and made it possible for young families to buy a home and move into the middle class (and also freed them from the burden of having to house and provide round the clock, at-home medical care to an aging parent thanks to social security and Medicare), I doubt we would have become as prosperous in the postwar years as we did and the envy of the free world.   These government programs and labor unions freed people from the burdens that kept people mired in toil, poverty, and hopelessness in the past, and allowed them to be able to move up into the middle class and even higher.    They allowed older people to live longer, which increased our collective life-span.   Hardliners rant about these programs being socialism, and they are right about that.  But these “socialist” ideas have helped millions of people live freer and healthier lives.

Do you like having a post office?  Do you like having access to libraries, parks, community pools, and museums, which are free to all?  Do you like the national parks and monuments that are the envy of the world and create a thriving tourism industry?  Do you like having bridges, tunnels,  interstate highways (instead of toll roads or dangerous makeshift dirt roads like they have in third world countries), police departments, fire departments, efficient air traffic control, and the assurance that your aging parent won’t have to move in with you and force you to quit your job so you can provide them round the clock care?   Do you like knowing that if your house is on fire, you don’t have to pay a private company to come put it out or watch it burn down and spread to other houses if you lack the money?  If you’re a person of limited or modest means, do you like knowing your child has access to a free public education?   Do you like knowing that the air you breathe and water you drink is safe, and that the food you eat is free of toxins that could kill or sicken you or your loved ones?   Do you like knowing if your area was affected by a natural disaster, that you and your family would receive help from the federal government to get back on your feet? Do you feel secure knowing that there are scientists doing research on deadly contagious diseases that could become plagues without their efforts to combat their spread?  Do you like the fact there are laws that keep factories from dumping toxic waste into your drinking water?  Do you like the fact that companies by law can’t make you work for whatever they want to pay, which might be a dollar a day?

“The test of our progress is not how much we add to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

–Franklin D. Roosevelt 

 

All these things are socialism.  Now try to imagine what things would be like if these services and protections didn’t exist, or if you had to pay a private company or individual to get any of these things.    Not very pleasant to contemplate, is it?  You’d be looking at a country with a quality of life more closely resembling countries like Cambodia, dictatorships in central Africa, or banana republics in South America than to any developed western nation.

Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland are the four happiest countries in the developed world.    They are also countries that are social democracies — which means they combine capitalism and socialism.  There is nothing wrong with capitalism as long as regulations to keep it contained exist, there is progressive taxation (the rich pay more), and there is a general recognition that not everything can or should be privatized.  Some things simply work better and are more morally sound when they’re not privatized and are administered by the government instead.  Things like police departments, fire departments, prisons, interstate roads, air traffic control, and the military  should never be privatized.  Some services (like long-term care for the elderly, treatment for serious chronic illnesses like cancer, and safety and environmental regulations) cannot be adequately administered by private charities either.

Healthcare and education should always have a public option, even if a private option is also available.  In America, we have both public and private education.   The right wing complaint about “school choice” is bogus, since no one is forced to send their child to a public school, if they’d prefer to pay for a private one, but the public option is available for those who choose it or cannot afford to pay for the private option.  And that is as it should be, even though our current government is actively trying to dismantle public education.  As for healthcare, in Germany, you can buy your health insurance on the private market if you wish, but most people opt for single payer.  Socialist policies keep countries humane and civilized, and they counteract the negative, oppressive, malignant effects of unbridled capitalism which eventually lead to fascism and tyranny, as it is right now in the United States.

I think the problem so many people have with socialism is they equate it with communism. The Cold War led many of us to take a dim view of communism, which was an extreme form of socialism in which people were not allowed to own private property and all services were centralized and run by the government.  So, instead of being able to choose a doctor and have the government pay the claim (as it works in social democracies who have single payer insurance), you’d actually see a “government doctor” in a clinic-like setting and receive less than ideal care.   You could only watch State TV or listen to state-run radio or read state-run newspapers.  You had to stand on long lines to obtain government issued food, and of course there were always shortages.  None of these things are the case with European-style socialism.

Some extremists on the far right argue that countries such as Canada with “socialized medicine” require long wait times and that people die before they get to see a doctor.  But this is a lie.     Most Canadians (and people in other countries with single payer healthcare) are happy with the care they receive and knowing they won’t go bankrupt or risk reaching a “lifetime cap” or be denied care at all because they have a “pre-existing condition.”    In fact, they laugh at us for being so backwards that we refuse to recognize that good health is a human right, and not a luxury that only the rich should be able to afford.   If there are “wait times” in social democracies, it’s for services like cosmetic plastic surgery, gastric bypass surgery, or hip replacements — procedures that aren’t life and death emergencies and where there may be less invasive options that can be explored.  In America, of course, there are long wait times too — even for medically necessary procedures in which you are forced to wait for a health insurance company that cares only about profit to “authorize” a procedure and possibly deny it.

Authoritarianism has no ideology.  It can arise on the left or the right.  Communism is on the extreme left; fascism is on the extreme right.  Socialism (or social democracy, if you prefer) is more in the middle of the scale, although more to the left than capitalism.  Extremes of any ideology lead to tyranny and oppression.   Socialism taken to its extreme becomes communism; capitalism taken to its extreme becomes fascism. Both are caused by (and lead to) government corruption and both lead to the same terrible outcome:  short and brutal lives dominated by oppression, hopelessness, fear, illness, violence, and widespread poverty.   Balance is necessary for a system to work, and for a capitalist society to work for all its people, it must be balanced with socialism.   Other developed countries recognize this, and until the Reagan years changed everything, so did we.

Supporters of unbridled, unregulated capitalism like to tell us “the markets” will fix everything, but this is not true.  It has only led to disaster in the past, the most recent one being the housing crisis of 2008.   The markets are not God, and leaving the markets alone to fix themselves only leads to both economic and social ruin.

When people scream about socialism, I wonder if they’ve ever been to western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand — countries which may not be world powers, and where people may have to pay higher taxes (but not as high as you might think), but where there is more equality, more tolerance of diversity, and where people enjoy better health, live longer lives, get paid a living wage, and are never burdened with the possibility of bankruptcy or being denied coverage should they or a loved one become seriously ill.   Countries where people are generally happier, have more peace of mind, and where there is less hatred, violence, sickness, poverty, and selfishness. Countries where the common good is still valued more highly than power and greed.  Countries that don’t deny scientific fact or the right of its people to have a free education, clean air and drinking water, and basic no-cost healthcare from cradle to grave.

People in these countries can start companies and engage in free enterprise and with a lot more ease too because they’re not burdened with the fear of losing their insurance if they quit a job to start their own business.  They can leave a job they hate for a better one without fearing a “gap in coverage.”   They are still just as “free” as we are, if not more so (and now they are leaving us behind as they move ahead in the global economy because they recognize that sustainable industry that respects the planet and all life is the wave of the future).  The difference is they recognize what real freedom and real morality is — not the fake version of “freedom” that has come to mean “I got mine, so screw you,” and the fake version of “morality” that condescendingly tells us, “I’m better than you, so the rules I impose on you don’t apply to me.”

It’s time to stop blaming Trump supporters.

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Credit: Chicago Tribune

I consider myself progressive politically, but I have a bone to pick with some people on the left.    Unlike the modern GOP and their wealthy backers,  we’re supposed to care about the “little people” — the poor, disenfranchised and otherwise vulnerable.   Understandably, we are angered by the millions of working class red state voters who will be hurt by Trump’s draconian policies and cruel budget but voted for him anyway, because we will all suffer as a result of their ignorance too.      Those of us who aren’t swayed by Fox News and right-wing radio and are able to think critically have a hard time understanding why so many poor and working class whites would vote against their own interests and doggedly continue to support a man who is dead set on taking away the little they have.

I understand the anger.   It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around their ignorance — maybe even their willful ignorance.  But I’m seeing so many comments lately from people who consider themselves progressive, yet who not only blame working class Trump voters for the mess we’re in, but who seem to take pleasure in the prospect of seeing them suffer as a result of their folly.   They say things like, “They deserve to lose their healthcare for voting for a monster,” or “let them taste their own medicine,” or “I’ll laugh in their faces when they lose their healthcare and food stamps.”

It’s natural to be angry and even feel a bit of schadenfreude (even though we’re being hit too), but this attitude seems as heartless as the cruel budget and healthcare bill the GOP has unleashed.    How far a leap is it from “she made her bed, now she should lie in it” to the far-right refrain “if she had made better life choices, she wouldn’t be poor, sick, etc.”    Not much, if you ask me.

The country is deeply divided.  Things that were unthinkable in the past have become our new normal.   Mudslinging, namecalling, and even violence abounds on all sides.  This isn’t a left vs. right, GOP vs. Democrat issue.  It’s an all out war and it’s not normal.  Trump supporters hate “libruls” as much as they hate Muslim immigrants and Black Lives Matter — maybe more so.   They are encouraged at Trump rallies to physically attack and intimidate those who oppose them.   Reporters, in particular, are fair game.   But it’s not just on the Republican side we are seeing aggression and hatred.   Democrats who voted for Hillary hate hardcore Bernie supporters (“Berniebots”) who they blame for helping Trump win by refusing to vote for Hillary.   In turn, Hillary-hating Bernie supporters (in some cases they hate her even more than they hate Trump) blame the neoliberal “corporate shills” of the DNC who foisted such a terrible candidate on the nation.  Some even voted for Trump as a vote against Hillary.    I have seen them talk about violent revolution, even homegrown militias to overthrow the government.   Both the far left and traditional liberal Democrats blame working class Trump voters for what’s coming to them, even reveling in the prospect of seeing them suffer or even die when it happens.

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This isn’t an uncommon sentiment on the left.

Like the far right who blame the poor and immigrants for all the nation’s ills, when it’s really social Darwinist policies that target the vulnerable and reward the super-wealthy that are to blame (and create even more poverty in doing so),  some people on the left are just as guilty of blaming the victim.   I’m annoyed and tired of far left ideologues who say, “they made their bed, let them lie in it.”   No one deserves to suffer because they made a mistake — even if they still stick by their mistake.

Granted, some Trump supporters are racist, homophobic, intolerant, full of hate, and admire authoritarian leaders and a “strongman” approach to governing.  Some of them really are terrible people.   But not all of them are.  Most are just ignorant.  They’re not bad people and might even be kind and caring toward others in their daily lives, but they know no better.  Their minds can’t be changed because they have been lied to all their lives and their only point of reference is Fox News and whatever their churches and equally uninformed neighbors and families tell them.  Many lack the education and critical thinking skills to realize they have been misled and lied to.

In Trump, working class red state voters saw an anti-establishment,  colorful character who refused to be politically correct and who shared their their anger at the “liberal corporate elite” — well heeled granola crunching opera-attending types who drive foreign SUVs and seem to care more about Mexicans, Muslims, and blacks more than they care about them, and who look down their noses at their way of life and lack of education.     They heard Trump’s promises of  “healthcare for everybody” and “the Mexicans will pay for the wall” and “we are going to eradicate terror once and for all” and saw someone who would make their lives safer and more prosperous.  Finally, someone who seemed to care more about the white working class (and appealed to their religiosity even though Trump himself doesn’t seem to care much about God) than about immigrants, abortion rights,  and urban gays.

Trump is a swindler and a conman who promised them an easier life and assured them they would not be forgotten.  He played right into their fear and paranoia, and their anger at the corporate elite, who they understandably saw as the enemy.   Without the critical thinking skills or education to know better, how were they supposed to know they were being lied to?  It’s human nature to resolve cognitive dissonance by making excuses for an abuser who blatantly lies to you and is now targeting you.    It’s easier to say, “he doesn’t really mean it” or blame the “fake news” than to say “I was wrong,” especially when you were never trained to think critically about anything or were raised in a subculture that encourages or even celebrates authoritarianism.   Call it willful ignorance if you want, but it’s still ignorance.   As Jesus said in Luke 23: 34, “forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”

It’s not fair to place all the blame on the shoulders of ignorant Trump supporters because there were other factors at play in his winning the election.  These voters are a minority of Americans.   Trump did not win the popular vote, just the electoral college vote, but that’s the one that determines the outcome of our national elections.    We had the same problem in the 2000 election of George W. Bush, who also did not win the popular vote.    The electoral college is obsolete, even destructive, and needs to go.   Are Trump supporters to blame for an outdated and unfair system of counting votes?  No, they are not.

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Another factor — and it’s the one most in the news right now — is Russia’s infiltration into the election.   The far right media loves to target all the stories about Russian interference as fake news,  but there’s just too much evidence for anyone with a working brain to not see that Russia had a lot to do with why Trump won.   Are Trump supporters to blame for Russian interference?  No, of course they aren’t.

There’s also the propaganda pushed by right wing media outlets like Fox News.   People who don’t have much money who pay for cable usually will pick the most basic cable package.   Unfortunately, these bare bones packages often don’t include progressive or even centrist news channels.   So the only news they have access to, besides the local news (which is often conservative) is Fox News, which is included in every basic cable package.   Fox’s selling point is “fair and balanced” and Fox News watchers see (now fallen) pundits like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity as one of them.    Both O’Reilly and Hannity (as well as Rush Limbaugh from right wing radio) have a blue collar image and seem able to relate to their concerns and lifestyles better than a Rhodes scholar like Rachel Maddow ever could.    Is it working class Trump supporters’ fault that they are never exposed to the facts or more progressive viewpoints?  Is it their fault the left makes no effort to relate to their concerns, and seems to care more about immigrants and people of color (who they see as the enemy) more than them?    Is it their fault that well to do liberals very often blame them for their lot and look down on them as much or even more than Republicans do?  No, it isn’t.

Finally, there are the churches, especially the evangelical or fundamentalist variety so common in red states, especially the South. Organizations like the Southern Baptist Convention, which is notorious for mixing far right politics into religion, goes as far as warning their parishioners they will displease God if they do not support Trump.   These churches use talking points such as abortion or homosexuality, knowing their followers will vote based on these issues, regardless of where the candidate stands on other issues.  Because they cannot think critically or see the bigger picture, they can’t see that the “pro-life” candidate may actually not be pro-life at all, just pro-birth.   People who can think critically can see how out of touch and easily swayed they are, but to a less-educated person who has been programmed all their lives to believe whatever their pastor tells them and is accustomed to appeals to their primitive emotions rather than their intellect, can we really blame them for supporting he candidate their pastor tells them is “opening the door to Christ’s kingdom?”  Is it their fault they have been brainwashed into believing if they vote for anyone other than Donald Trump, they will make God mad and go to hell?   Again, no, it really isn’t.

It’s time to stop blaming poor and working class Trump supporters and start placing the blame on the real problem:  our broken political system where neither of the major parties addresses the needs and concerns of the average American and thus led to the rise of someone like Trump.

We have officially entered the Twilight Zone.

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Credit:  Stephen Crowley/The New York Times 

Only four months into the Trump presidency, and America feels like an alien planet occupied by tentacled overlords who have taken we, the people, hostage.  Yes, even Trump supporters, who seem to be suffering from a mass case of Stockholm Syndrome.  The horror author Stephen King probably summed up the situation most chillingly when he tweeted that no horror novel he ever wrote matched the horror of what is unfolding before us ever since Trump became our president.

Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, he tried to impose a ban on Muslims entering the country, which, like everything else he has tried to implement, ended in failure and the ever-growing ire of people who champion human rights and sanctuary for refugees escaping authoritarian regimes.    The crazy thing about the Muslim ban was that it did not ban any countries where Trump has business interests, and this includes Saudi Arabia, a country that Trump has himself criticized for its human rights abuses and the way they treat women, children, and gays.   Let’s also not forget the  fact that Saudi Arabia may also have been behind 9/11 — or at least Trump has said they were.  Donald Trump has denigrated Islam and promised to protect us from the “Islam takeover” that exists only in his own mind, which was his purported reasoning for the infamous Muslim ban.

So, why is Trump in Saudi Arabia before he’s made any visits to American allies like Canada, Europe, or Mexico?   Why is he kissing up to their high government officials and accepting medals, the royal treatment, and signing agreements? Most unfathomable of all, why do the Saudis seem to love Trump as much as he seems to love them now?  Why does he treat them with more respect than he treats Germany’s Andrea Merkel or Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull or Canada’s Justin Trudeau?

The easy answer to Trump’s stunning hypocrisy (and the seemingly only way to resolve our collective cognitive dissonance) is the adage “follow the money,” and obviously money is a big part of it.    Although Trump tweeted yesterday that his visit was to promote peace between the US and the Islamic world (yeah, right, I really believed that one), we now learn that he was really there to sell billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia.   That’s right — he’s selling weapons to a country he has himself said was behind the 9/11 attacks.   Whether they were or weren’t behind the attacks isn’t the point.    Signing a weapons treaty with Saudi Arabia proves he doesn’t really care about the well-being of Americans.  It’s always all about the money.    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

And yet his supporters scream and rant about people who protested against the Muslim ban.  They accuse us of helping give Islam a way to infiltrate our “Christian” and “democratic” way of life here.   They can’t think critically enough to understand that granting Muslim refugees (mostly women and children) sanctuary here doesn’t mean we sympathize with the jihadists or approve of fundamentalist Islam — in fact, it means we have compassion for the victims of fundamentalist Islam’s human rights abuses and recognize that these vulnerable people are human beings who need our help.   But they are perfectly okay with our Muslim-hating president who seems to be cozying up to the very people they fear the most.

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Credit:  N/A

It’s no different than his attitude toward the Russians.    While Russia is no longer a communist country and they haven’t been thought of as an enemy in many years, they aren’t exactly an ally either.   Or they never have been until this presidency.   Donald Trump seems to worship the Russians, even emulate them.  Last week, he held a secret meeting in the Oval Office with Russian officials where no American press was invited but Russian photographers were.    Trump supporters have resolved their cognitive dissonance over Trump’s inexplicable behavior by taking up his own attitudes — to the point of chanting “RUSSIA IS OUR FRIEND” at one of their protests.    They can’t think critically enough to see their hypocrisy.   No, to them, it’s the media that’s the enemy now — a beloved right protected under the 1st Amendment — because Trump has declared they are an enemy. Now those rights we take for granted are endangered.

Again, the easy explanation for the inexplicable is “follow the money.”  Like Saudi Arabia, Russia is a country where Trump has business interests.   If the investigation turns out to bear fruit (and I am certain it will if it isn’t stymied or somehow silenced), we will see that Russia at least partly financed his campaign, rigged the election, and has been funneling money to him and his far-right billionaire cronies all along.    Of course, if the investigation finds collusion with Russia, his supporters will still find a way to defend him, or cry “FAKE NEWS!”  They truly believe Trump is more trustworthy than the FBI.  What kind of crazyworld are we in when we actually start to look at the FBI as the heroes — and even the victims? We have really fallen down the rabbit hole into an alternate universe with an alternate reality where we doubt our own perceptions and the truth is no longer required.    It’s gaslighting writ large.

It’s much more than a money trail, though.    In fact, money may not even be the primary reason behind Trump’s love for Saudi Arabia and Russia.   Trump has shown an affinity for authoritarian leaders, regardless of their ideology or their religious beliefs.   We all know about his massive mancrush on Vladimir Putin and his minions, but he’s also praised North Korean president Kim Jong Un, one of the most fearsome — if not THE most fearsome — dictators in the modern world.  He seems to admire and emulate dictators, because he himself is an authoritarian personality who believes in a harsh, punishing, “strongman” approach to governing as opposed to the democratic, egalitarian one favored by the western world.   He insults and denigrates leaders who espouse fairness, equality, and compassion — or at the very least he ignores them as if they don’t matter.    His refusal to shake hands with Germany’s chancellor Andrea Merkel compared with the hearty slaps on the back and simpering secret-sharing with Putin is very telling.

I spent much of last night and this morning puzzling over why Saudi leaders seem to fawn all over Trump and have given him a red-carpet welcome to their country worthy of a king — in spite of the fact he has repeatedly insulted their religion and culture.  Of course, we can follow the money; with Trump, that’s a given.   But there’s another reason.   They love Trump because he is so much like them.   They can identify with a man who shares their own values of repression, sexism and authoritarianism.   A dictatorial approach to governing, in their minds, trumps religion (no pun intended).   And the same applies to Donald Trump.   Unlike our past presidents (even the most conservative among them), Trump has far more in common with King Salman or Putin than he does with Andrea Merkel or Justin Trudeau — and that should be a grave concern to anyone who calls themselves an American or who cherishes freedom and democracy.

There’s one other reason why Trump loves the Saudis and the Russians, which is perhaps the most important one of all: they give him the narcissistic supply he so craves.    They probably know how fragile his ego is — after all, they are not stupid.   Trump, like many narcissists, is naive enough to think they love him, they really, really love him, when in fact they are most likely laughing at him whenever he leaves the room.    The weird thing about narcissists like Trump is the paradox of power.  Narcissists, although predatory and dangerous to most, are also very emotionally needy.  That neediness makes them incredibly naive and therefore easily manipulated.   Their unreasonable demands for adulation may cause most people (who they see as beneath them) to cringe in fear, but they will gladly grovel before most psychopaths.   Thus they become putty in the hands of psychopathic or sociopathic leaders like Vladimir Putin, who appear far less insecure and requiring of worship than Trump does.   They will do anything they are asked and jettison any values they insist they have (which they really don’t) when they see that the tradeoff is a healthy dose of narcissistic supply.    They’re the ultimate sellouts. Trump pretends to have values but it’s all a sham.  The only thing he values (besides money and power) is being worshipped and adored.

And so now we are witnessing the spectacle of our president — who promised protection from terrorism — fawning all over Islamic jihadists in Saudi Arabia.   No, I realize most Muslims are not fundamentalist crazies or jihadists, but the sentiment on the far right is that all of them are (at least up until now).    As for Trump, he doesn’t care whether they are or not, as long as they’re giving him the praise and adulation he so craves.     In comparison, the freedoms we enjoy here in America are a threat to his ego and a painful reminder of the things he refuses to see in himself.  Here in America, instead of the red carpet treatment, bouquets of flowers, and medals of honor, he must face critics on Twitter who make memes poking fun at his hypocrisy and lies, angry protesters who force him to look in the mirror, bloggers and pundits calling him out on his duplicity,and now a high profile investigation into possible treason. But the biggest insult of all to Trump’s fragile sense of self is the evil media and “fake news” that has the temerity to shine a beacon of harsh white light on the truth which he so hates — the media that, for all its faults, is keeping most of us from slipping into into an inescapable abyss of alternative facts, twisted values, and rewritten history that would drive even George Orwell insane.

ALERT: TODAY’S ARMS DEAL MAY BE ILLEGAL!

Fake Christianity.

I have a problem.  I’m ashamed to admit I’m a Christian.    That’s because these days, open-minded, compassionate, tolerant people with a conscience give you side-eye if you tell them you’re a Christian.   They assume you embrace the far right values that many (if not most) churches today are teaching — values that embrace hatred, fear, paranoia, intolerance, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, racism, authoritarianism, nationalism (as opposed to true patriotism) and — incredibly — greed (according to many Calvinist teachings, God rewards those who “live good lives” — the select He has already chosen — financially and materially).   According to many fundamentalist and charismatic churches (especially of the Dominionist or prosperity-gospel type), if you’re poor or sick or aren’t “blessed” in this life, then you are not favored by God and will suffer eternal torment in Hell after living a life of hell.     It’s unbelievable they can worship a God who is that cruel.

I’ve doubted for a long time that the far right “Christians” who run the nation are actually Christian at all, because their values seem to be in direct opposition to anything Jesus taught.    They follow Ayn Rand’s teachings more closely than those of Christ.  The reality is that it’s simply not possible to embrace Ayn Rand’s philosophy of selfishness and also be a Christian.  They are diametrically opposed.

Last night my doubts turned to certainty, after I watched in horrified astonishment as the GOP held a party at the  White House’s Rose Garden to celebrate their “victory” — a victory that, if it passes Senate — will destroy the lives or bankrupt tens of millions of average Americans and kill many, including innocent children and people with pre-existing conditions.    I don’t have to go into everything that is wrong with this bill, because it would fill an entire page.  That information is readily available elsewhere.   But the spectacle of watching these rich white thugs drinking beer and partying after such a devastating bill passed the House, convinced me once and for all that these monsters are not only not Christian, they are absolutely, unapologetically evil.     They may quote from the Bible and go to church and bloviate on about abortion and homosexuality, but they worship the god of Mammon.   They have sold out the American people they are supposed to serve in exchange for even more tax breaks for themselves and those just like them.  They are relentless in their cruelty and their greed is never satiated.  No matter how wealthy they become, they want more and more and more.   Last night I sat, horrified, watching these — beings (I hesitate to call them human) — toast each other and laugh about how they had stuck it to the rest of us who don’t have a prayer of ever having their kind of power and material wealth.    They were celebrating the fact that they were placing real lives at risk.  I turned off the TV, sickened and enraged and terrified by what I had seen.

No matter what they say, these are not good people or Christian people.  They walk on the side of darkness and their hearts are black and empty.   You can see it in their cold, dead eyes and their cruel, twisted smiles.    They use Christianity as a way to cloak how dark their souls really are — and as a way to get even more power.  Over a period of several decades starting in the 1970s, they have systematically co-opted Christianity as a means to win gullible and less-educated people (mostly in red states) over to their side.  They have persuaded them their way is the only moral way, the only American way, the only Christian way.  But it’s all lies.  Using Christianity as a selling point is a brilliant tactic to gain even more money and power because it works like a charm.   Using Christianity this way, these conscienceless criminals and power brokers have been able to hijack a nation and now have complete control of every branch of government.   But still, it’s not enough.  They want more, and more, and more.

Now their real work begins:  dismantling everything good this nation ever stood for — discouraging and suppressing and ultimately destroying our freedoms and our  opportunities and our rights and our safety nets.    Their real goal is to create misery, chaos, despair, hopelessness, illness and suffering (both mental and physical — with no means to alleviate it), ignorance, poverty, strife, cruelty, slavery, and death.  Lots and lots of death.   It’s become increasingly obvious to me that their real agenda is to thin the herd.   They used to try to hide this ugly reality, but they don’t even try very hard anymore.   It’s all but out in the open for anyone who opens their eyes and ears.   Their excuses for the horrible things they do are transparent to all but the most obtuse (or brainwashed) person.  With every decision they have made, every executive order signed, every bill rammed through without ever asking once how the people feel about it, every lie they tell, they show their contempt for humanity, especially those who tell the truth or who are vulnerable and defenseless.

But it’s much more than just a show of contempt. They really are trying to kill off or silence the most vulnerable Americans — the poor (this includes the middle class and so their decimation will take a bit longer), the sick, the unwanted, the elderly, the disabled, the mentally ill (mental illness won’t be covered under this new bill but now the mentally ill can go out and buy guns — hmm, I wonder what message they are being sent?), immigrants, women, children, the unconventional, the artists, the dreamers, the truth-tellers, the whistle-blowers, and all the people who believe in justice and fairness and kindness and compassion and inclusion and opportunity and clean air and water and safe and healthy food.   They want us all gone, and as soon as possible.  Their “healthcare” bill is nothing less than slow mass genocide of those who aren’t useful to them.   They have even said so much.  If you protest against this mistreatment and yes, abuse — they scream about socialism and how the “liberal media” is destroying America.  Again, lies.   Under our new president, the lying and gaslighting has become so bad that lies are now facts, and facts are ‘fake news.’   Twisting the language and spinning lies into some kind of alternate reality is the way dictators gain their power — and it’s evil.  There’s nothing remotely Christian about what they do.

I saw this comment today under an article about the the cruel GOP healthcare bill that explains the fake “Christianity” behind such a move:

God sent Joshua to kill every man, woman, and child to take the land of the Canaanites.  The Bible is clear that sometimes God requires His people to commit genocide.

 

That’s the mentality we’re up against.  No mention of how Jesus healed the sick (without demanding payment or refusing due to inability to pay),  was friends with the downtrodden,  loved the poor and the disabled and the old and the ill, and warned about greed and what happens to those who worship money and power.    No, because all those things are “socialism” and to them, socialism is the greatest evil.     To them, socialism is “theft” from those who “earned” their riches — often through no effort of their own.

It wasn’t always this way.   There was once a time when Christianity leaned more to the left.   This used to be called the “social gospel,” something you rarely hear about anymore, though very recently there’s been a resurgence of left wing Christianity among those who can see through the false Christianity that’s pushed down our throats by the far right.  Peaceful Christian groups like the Quakers and Sojourners ministered to the poor, sick and others  in need — expecting nothing in return.  Mainstream Christian churches such as the Methodist or Episcopalian church held similar values.  Sure, things like abortion, homosexuality, and sex outside marriage were frowned upon or even forbidden, but the overall message of Christianity was one of love, compassion, and caring for those less fortunate.  Some Christians — and some (mostly mainstream) churches – still embrace this message, but the ones that were able to influence our current leaders are those that do not — and instead preach the prosperity gospel and a theology of exclusion (you’re going to hell if you are not “predestined” or chosen by God), fear (of hell and punishment on earth) and hatred (of anyone whose beliefs differ).

Starting in the late 1970s, a group called the Moral Majority began to change the political landscape, which until that time worked for the most part.   They funneled money to the GOP and the GOP knew a good deal when they saw it.  They realized they had to use Christianity to win over more supporters and soon, politicians were spouting Bible verses and talking about how schools should stop teaching evolution (or any science at all) and railing about abortion, and later, blaming those afflicted by poverty or disease for their “bad choices” or immoral behavior that led to their problems.   They preached about America being a Christian nation — when it was becoming anything but.     At the same time, the churches that had influenced the GOP were now telling their members that if they didn’t vote for so-and-so GOP politician, they were going to hell.    I have no doubt that fear of eternal damnation being constantly drummed into their minds and hearts by their pastors had a lot to do with why so many religious red staters switched from Democrat to Republican, since most would never benefit from the policies they were voting for.

Make no mistake — although they may talk endlessly about their Christianity and be able to spout Bible verses, these compassionless rulers aren’t pro-life and they don’t care about family values.    Railing on about how horrible abortion is, but denying healthcare to low and middle income pregnant women (by making pregnancy a pre-existing condition and putting pregnant women in a “high risk pool” where premiums will be astronomical) is going to make it financially impossible for many women to afford prenatal care.   For many of these women, abortion (which is far less expensive than prenatal care and labor and delivery) may seem like their only choice, so the number of abortions will skyrocket.   For those who courageously opt to have their child without the benefit of healthcare,  they will run the risk of themselves or their babies dying in childbirth — it might as well be 1917, not 2017.

Their anti-life stance goes way beyond the abortion issue.   Many of the newly uninsured will include families with children.     Last week, Jimmy Kimmel gave an emotional speech about his newborn son who had a serious heart problem.   In his moving plea, he talked about the fact that, while he is wealthy enough to have afforded healthcare for his son, even under the GOP plan, taking away healthcare from average and poor families will cause many children and babies who are sick to die.   Any bill that will force a parent of average or low income to have to face their own child’s preventable death just because they can no longer afford healthcare is both cruel and evil.

Pro-life isn’t just about babies and children.   Pro-life means preserving and enhancing lives no matter what your age or income.   Forcing older people, the unemployed, the disabled, the poor, and the sick off healthcare is sentencing them to possible preventable illness, pain, and death.   The powerful “Christians” in charge of things now think nothing about bombing other countries regardless of whether innocent civilians — including women and children — are killed or maimed.  Free public education, organizations like the EPA that protect our air and water, arts and humanities programs, federal grant programs that help kids afford college, access to scientific information about our climate and environment, organizations that help families and children thrive, and numerous other organizations that preserve and promote quality of life are all being threatened.   Their deliberate destruction is nothing short of abuse, as is the suppression of freedom of speech and truth in reporting.    To be pro-life, you must care about all human life.  To care only about the unborn and then callously offer no support or help to the already born — or rip away what support systems they have — isn’t pro-life, it’s pro-birth and anti-life.    Unfortunately, many people who are less educated or lack critical thinking skills are one-issue voters, and always vote for the anti-abortion candidate no matter what their stance on other issues — even though the pro-choice candidate may actually be the more pro-life one when you step back and view the big picture.

We live in dark times, and whistleblowers and truth tellers are increasingly in danger because they threaten to expose the real agenda of the sociopaths and abusers who have hijacked our country and hold it hostage.    Lying is their specialty.  Why would they make an exception and tell the truth about Christianity?   Look at their actions, not their words. These are fake Christians who only worship money and power.  If it’s the Enemy who’s behind far right “Christianity,” then he’s giving it a very bad reputation, and that’s precisely his intention — and to create shame in the act of calling yourself a Christian, which is what I’m struggling with these days.

***

I want to share this article someone just shared with me.   It was written by a therapist who has many patients traumatized by this president. She uses DBT principles to help them cope.   I think people may find this article as helpful as I did.

How to Stay Sane if Trump is Driving You Insane.

Trump’s only real achievement — which he never intended.

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On this day in which people concerned about climate change take to the streets of the major US cities and across the world to protest Republican plans to remove federal climate change regulations and dismantle the EPA  (I was going to attend a rally here in my city but skipped it due to needing extra sleep this morning),  something else happened:  Trump reached his long-awaited 100-day mark.

Trump, in typical malignant narcissist fashion, bragged shamelessly about how no other administration ever accomplished so much in their first 100 days (*cough* *snort*) — unless he is talking about his success in instilling fear, rage and hatred in the American populace — as well as alienating our closest allies.   In those things, he has certainly accomplished a lot, even though every policy he has tried to implement has failed miserably.   Even he has admitted, rather incoherently, about how his job is a lot harder than he expected.   Well, what did he expect?   That it would be just like “The Apprentice” and he could fire someone every week and that would be that?

Trump’s “achievements” exist only in his own deluded mind.  He constantly talks about JOBS JOBS JOBS but any jobs or improvement in our economy actually happened under Obama’s watch, not Trump’s.   He has done nothing to create any new jobs.   His Mexican border wall (intended to keep out the drug dealers and “bad honchos”),  repealing the ACA and replacing it with an abortion of a  “healthcare plan” that was really just another tax break for the richest 2%,  the failed Muslim ban, and many other things he has tried to implement have all failed.   He has broken promises:  “healthcare for everybody” turned out to be a bait and switch and a massive lie.  He promised protection from terrorists but may have provided the catalyst for a new world war — with North Korea, a country that is very close to being able to attack us with nuclear weapons — and very well might (personally I’m a lot more afraid of North Korea than I am of any Muslim terrorists).   He promised to “drain the swamp” — but only populated the swamp with privileged billionaires who care nothing about the average American and only about lining their pockets even more at the expense of the poor and middle class.   He promised he’d work harder than any other president, but lied about that too.   I remember how he complained about Obama’s occasional golf trips, yet Trump is using our hard earned tax dollars to pay for his endless vacations at the “Southern White House” in Mar-A-Lago and to keep his clearly unhappy wife ensconced in a vast, gold-plated New York City penthouse, which costs us millions per day.   He is a hypocrite of epic proportions who does the opposite of what he promises.    You can almost predict what he’ll do by his “promises” — if he makes a promise, you can be pretty sure he’ll do the opposite.

Perhaps worst of all, he gaslights us all every day, most infamously via his Twitter account where he blames everyone from the Democrats to Obama to the Freedom Caucus to “paid protesters” to the “failing New York Times” to SNL and other late night comedians for his own failings — and never, ever takes any responsibility or admits when he’s been wrong.    Russia?  They well may have infiltrated and influenced the election, yet not once has he ever criticized Putin or the Russian government.    Trump lies when there’s no reason to lie, and then concocts new lies to cover the old lies.  He is abusive and makes degrading remarks against women, Mexicans, Muslims, and people of color, and still, his supporters remain staunch in their support.   They are as deluded as he is.  Are they victims of a type of political Stockholm Syndrome?  One has to wonder.

Trump brags about how popular he is and about the YUGE crowds that turn out at his endless rallies (he is so fearful of not winning a second term that he MUST hold these rallies to garner narcissistic supply), but the numbers fail to back these claims up.    Trump points to FOX News and The National Enquirer (no joke) as his go-to sources that prove how popular and successful he is, and dismisses legitimate news sources such as the New York Times and Washington Post as fake news.   Basically, if any news is critical of him, it’s fake.   Like all malignant narcissists, he is unable to tolerate any criticism and desperately hangs onto alternative facts he sees in the right wing tabloids and FOX & Friends that paint him as a hero and savior.  Those of us who understand the narcissistic mind are not surprised by his deluded claims and lies about how great he’s doing and how popular he is.    In actuality, Trump has the lowest approval ranking of any new president in recent history.   And yet his staunchest supporters stick by him like dog poop sticks to a shoe.

Yes, Trump’s purported achievements exist only in his own mind — except for one big achievement he never intended:  he has inspired Democrats and independents who oppose his bone-headed, heartless and draconian policies to get involved in politics again.   He has sparked (mostly peaceful) protests across the nation and even the whole world, in opposition to his plans to destroy America and its most loved institutions.   People are scared of him — and are becoming more vocal in their opposition and have vowed to vote out Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections.  In my opinion, Trump has almost no chance of winning a second term, if he even survives this one.

Had Hillary Clinton won the election, nothing would have changed.   She was unpopular with both parties, and if she’d won, Democrats and progressive independents would have succumbed to even deeper apathy and cynicism than they already were — and would — once again — have failed to turn out to vote in the 2018 and 2020 elections.   Republicans would have amped up their rage and hatred to levels we can’t even imagine now.  The end result would be that every branch of government would be even more hamstrung and gerrymandered by the Republicans than they are today.   So for this reason, I am actually glad Donald Trump won the election.   There’s one other good thing he’s done, once again never intended by him.   He’s educating the entire world about what a narcissistic leader is really like, and with God on our side, he won’t cause too much damage and we will have learned our lesson and never elect anyone like him again.

Trump’s budget, repealing the ACA, the triumph of evil, and the rebirth of community spirit.

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I absolutely hate Trump’s projected budget, as well as Trump’s Obamacare replacement, which although is nearly universally hated  not only on the left but on the right too (albeit for different reasons), is likely to pass this Thursday when Congress votes on it.

This administration not only wants to repeal Obamacare and take from the poor and middle class to give more tax breaks to the rich, they also want to eliminate (not just cut) the EPA, as well as Meals on Wheels (which help many disabled elderly and half a million disabled VETERANS), after school programs that help single moms, free legal services that help the poor in civil cases, federal grant programs for colleges, the NEH and NEA (both which promote arts and culture to the masses for free or nearly free), NPR (the only place on the radio where I can get the factual news while I’m driving), PBS (how can anyone hate Sesame Street? Really?), and many,many other programs that help families, and the poor and middle class.  Not only that, but they want to privatize public education, making it impossible for the poor or those who live in rural areas to send their children to school at all.  A voucher just isn’t going to cut it for these people, many of whom voted for Trump.   Next I expect they’ll try to repeal the child labor laws.  “Send those kids whose parents can’t afford to send them to school to work to teach them about the value of hard labor,” they’ll say.   “Let’s make America great again — like it was in 1900.”

Let’s stop kidding ourselves by making excuses like “more jobs will be created” and “taking away entitlements will force people to be self reliant.”   Nearly 40 years of trickle down economics has shown it does not work.  It doesn’t create more jobs and the money funneled to the top doesn’t trickle down to the most vulnerable Americans whose poverty, illness, or advanced age is almost never their own fault.   It’s become popular to blame them though for all the nation’s ills, instead of the greedy corporations and billionaires who keep taking and taking and taking and seem to be voracious in their need for more and more tax breaks and perks.     This is typical “blame the victim” mentality on a national scale.  Their greed and narcissism is off the charts and is destroying our country. The destruction or privating of everything good about America, and destroying its people and the environment we live in is exactly what they plan to do.

It’s time to face the ugly truth about this presidency.  I believe this budget (and the repeal and “replacement” of Obamacare) is actually an intentional death sentence for the so called “nonproducers” — the most vulnerable members of society — the poor, old, disabled, and sick.   Remove their only hope for healthcare, then take away all the popular programs that fill in the gaps and help many of these vulnerable people have better lives, keep them alive, and keep them from becoming totally ignorant. Many will die.  Those who don’t die  or suffer with chronic medical or mental conditions will be faced with lives so difficult and painful they may be forced to suicide.  But this administration doesn’t care.   In fact, letting the vulnerable people kill themselves off is probably what they want.   They are evil.   They want people to suffer. They want “the little people” to have nothing.  They don’t even want us to have clean air or drinking water.  They don’t care.

Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will be next.   What will happen to all the elderly, disabled, and sick who rely on these programs? What will happen to the nursing home residents who rely on Medicaid to cover their expenses?  Guess they’ll all be tossed out in the streets and be forced to move in with their adult children, whether those children have the means to take care of them or not.   If they don’t have adult children to care for them, they will die lonely, painful deaths with no one to care.

Yet these same far right conservatives wring their hands and shed tears over the unborn.  Once you’re born though, it’s “bootstraps, baby!”  Your child is sick?  You shouldn’t have gotten pregnant.   Don’t have the money to buy health insurance for your child?   It’s not our problem!

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It’s all because they want to keep everything for themselves.  They decry socialism as the ultimate evil and tell lies about long wait times in European countries who have universal healthcare and other social programs that help their people.  But I don’t know one European or Canadian who complains about having to pay higher taxes in exchange for having decent healthcare.   In fact, every one I know is very happy with their single payer healthcare, and feel very sorry for us that we don’t have it.   They wonder what is wrong with us that we still think healthcare should be for profit and don’t share their philosophy that “wer’re all in this together.”

I would be more than happy to pay higher taxes for single payer healthcare.  I sure as heck would rather pay taxes for programs that help people and cultural enrichment programs like the NEH and PBS and NPR  than I would for a ridiculous, unnecessary wall or for even further buildup of the military and nuclear weapons than we already have.

They say socialism is evil, but they are hypocrites.   They believe in socialism alright — socialism and welfare for the wealthy and for corporations (remember, corporations are people!); but rugged individualism for everyone else.   These people have no empathy.  They have no conscience.  They are morally bankrupt.  Their hearts are black and shriveled like prunes.  You can see it in their hard, cold, dead eyes and cruel smiles.

What they really are trying to do is thin the herd and create a banana republic that cares only about the wealthy 1% and f*ck you if you aren’t one of them.

But there’s a plus side to this.  People will be so outraged if this budget (and the ACA replacement) goes through and these programs are abolished that charitable giving and community spirit will increase to levels we have never seen. Many corporations, celebrities (almost all who are liberals), and other compassionate wealthy people (they do exist!) will set up funds to fill the vast hole left by the Republicans or to fund the dying programs so they stay in existence — or create new ones. Grass roots organizations and community organizations will spring up to help their neighbors and fellow citizens. There will also be backlash from the left the likes of which has never been seen before, and Republicans are nearly guaranteed not to win another election.

Within the ruins these hardline conservatives leave in their wake, emerging from the ashes they leave behind of a once great nation that cared about the common people both here and around the world–the proverbial phoenix will rise again.  People will start to take care of each other again, because we will have no other choice.

Putting stupidity in perspective.

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The same goes for “health savings accounts” which is Trump’s lame “replacement” for Obamacare.

How Steve Bannon is exploiting a perfectly valid theory of history to create war and chaos.

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Like his hippie predecessors, Steve Bannon wants to take down the Establishment — only this time from the far right. (credit: Huffington Post)

One day back in 1997, while I was a stay at home mom and my kids were both in school, I felt bored, so I decided to visit the library and find something interesting to read.   The book that caught my eye and I decided to check out was called The Fourth Turning: What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny, written by two political sociologists named William Strauss and Neil Howe.   Little did I know how this book would change my entire view of history and in many ways, change my life.   The predictions Strauss and Howe made 20 years ago were spot on — almost all of them have become reality.   I can honestly say I’m a believer and have been for a long time.    Their theory seems to make a lot of sense and the predictions made in their book are uncannily accurate.

Many people dismiss The Fourth Turning as bunk or even hocus-pocus.  Some people regard it as not much better than  superstition — on par with the worst conspiracy theories, astrology, reading tea leaves, or Nostradamus prophecies.    But Strauss and Howe’s theory that history runs in cycles that keep repeating themselves are based on sound research and their own and others’ observations of history over hundreds of years, since well before the founding of America.   In their view, history is not linear — it seems to repeat itself in varying forms approximately every 80 -100 years, with each cycle containing four distinct turnings — lasting about 20-25 years each– and in which four distinctly different generational archetypes (themselves created by child rearing methods in fashion during the turnings each generation was born in) both foment and affect each of the turnings –and how the generations themselves are affected by the turnings.

Before I get to the main point of this article — which is about Trump’s right hand man Steve Bannon and the ways he is misusing and even abusing Strauss and Howe’s theory of history –let me spend some time describing how the theory works for those who may never heard of it.   A few months ago,  I wrote an earlier article that focused more on Millennials’ role during the crisis we’re now facing (we are in a 4th turning right now and reaching its climax).   From that article, I’m going to copy and paste the part that gives an overview of how the theory works so I don’t have to write that part again from scratch.

Generational and Turning Theory:  a four-part repeating cycle of history. 

Turnings throughout American History.

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We are currently in the Millennial Cycle, the fourth cycle since the Revolutionary War.  We have been in this cycle since V-Day at the end of WW2, in 1946 — more than 70 years ago. We are reaching the end of the Millennial cycle, and about to begin a new one, once the fourth turning we are in is resolved.  But things are going to get a lot worse before they begin to improve.  It’s not necessarily going to be Armageddon; it’s just what happens in 4th turnings.

The last 4th turning (which was actually the final turning of the “Great Society” historical cycle) started suddenly in 1929, with the financial crash on Wall Street that plunged us into the Great Depression.  In 1942, America entered WW2.  We came out victorious in that war with newfound prosperity and confidence and we were now a world power to be reckoned with.  Full of optimism and confidence, we entered the first turning of the Millennial cycle — the booming (but conformist) postwar years of the 1950s and early 60s.   Lots of victory babies (Baby Boomers) were born, who were very much indulged, and the first turning of this current cycle saw shining new suburbs, brand new scientific discoveries, and a brand new, modern infrastructure where kids and families felt safe.

Approximately 8o years before the Great Depression/WW2 was the Civil War, and 80 or so years before that was the American Revolution.   It goes even farther back than this, but I won’t go into detail about those cycles here, since we weren’t fully “American” yet.

One example from earlier times was the Renaissance, actually a first turning that occurred after The Black Plague (a 4th turning) that set civilization back into motion for a variety of reasons.  Prior to the Plague were a thousand years of dark ages (more commonly known as medieval times, which lasted from the 400’s to the early 1500’s).  Dark ages are eras when time seems to stand still and turnings do not occur.  Generations don’t follow the archetypes we’re familiar with — they don’t change much over time because there are no historical turnings.   One generation pretty much follows the same life pattern as their parents, grandparents, and ancestors, and most progress comes to a screeching halt.   People live very difficult and short lives, eeking out an existence as best they can.   The middle ages were the result of a disastrous 4th turning — the Fall of Rome.   It could happen that if this turning ends badly, we could be thrust into a new dark age, but it’s not likely.   The Protestant Reformation was the Awakening (second turning) of the same cycle the Renaissance (or the Plague) began.    There were other cycles after this that led up to the Revolutionary War and the founding of America, but I’m not as familiar with those.

We are about halfway or more than halfway through the current crisis (which as yet, has no official name).  It started (depending on who you ask) with either 9/11 in 2001 or the housing crisis of 2008 (most followers of the theory believe 2008 was the real start date of the current 4th turning — which means we’re only about halfway through).

4 Generational Archetypes.

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A Boomer at different life stages criticizes (from left to right) “square” GI/Silent parents; “hypocritical” fellow Boomer Yuppies; “materialistic” Gen Xers; and finally looks to her Millennial kids as future saviors. (credit: Millennials Rising, 2000).

The four generational archetypes are Prophets, Nomads, Artists, and Heroes.     The most recent Prophet generation are the Boomers, born during the prosperous postwar years  (their predecessors were the Missionaries born during the Gilded Age).  Prophets are born in a First Turning (a time of prosperity and conformity) and tend to become narcissistic and moralistic as they age.

The current Nomads are the Gen-Xers (who correspond with the Lost Generation), who are born during a Second Turning (the most recent was the Consciousness Revolution, which took place in the ’60s and ’70s).   They grow up feeling neglected and unworthy and as a result become apathetic to world issues and lack trust in their leaders.  As children with self involved Silent and Boomer parents they were often left to fend for themselves from a young age.  They have collective low self esteem.  Think back to the Lost Generation, the last Nomad archetype before them.   Those were the orphaned kids, young toughs, Chicago mobsters, and the poor newsboys who roamed the streets during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Artists are the Silent Generation (the oldest generation still alive but are dying off fast), They are always born during a Crisis, or a Fourth Turning (the new Artists are still being born now).   The current Crisis began either in 2001 with 9/11, or 2008 with the housing crisis (the jury is still out on the start date).  They are overprotected as children (today’s helicopter parenting) and strictly disciplined. They grow up to be peacemakers and believers in checks and balances.  We have never had a Silent president, but they have provided reason, empathy, and logic, and worked behind the scenes to keep us from going to dangerous extremes — until now.

Heroes are born during a Third Turning (the most recent one being the Culture Wars of the ’80s and ’90s), when individualism is high but institutions built during the First Turning are beginning to unravel.   The last generation of Heroes were the GI Generation, also fondly known as The Greatest Generation, who are remembered as our WWII heroes and the builders of the prosperous America of the midcentury.    Almost all of them have died off by now.  They have been replaced by the Millennials.

This may sound like hocus-pocus, but it’s not.   The overall character of each of the four generational archetypes is influenced by the turnings in which they were raised and came of age in, and the parenting styles of that particular turning.   In turn, the generational character combined with the life stages they happen to be occupying at a given time (what S&H calls “generational constellations”) both foments and influences each of the four turnings themselves.

Thus,

Prophets, born in a time of prosperity, conformity, and increasingly indulgent parenting, become self confident but by adolescence, they begin to rebel against the stultifying conformity, and set off an Awakening (Second Turning).  During young adulthood, they are experimental idealists.   As they rise to power during midlife, they have become vocal, highly opinionated, and passionate about whatever values they have adopted, leading us into a Third Turning (culture wars mentality).  They tend to be judgmental and engage in black and white thinking, convinced that only their way is the right one.  Prophets’ parents are usually Heroes or Artists.

Nomads, born in a time of questioning traditional values and changing social mores, are often neglected by their self involved parents who seem more interested in their own personal growth instead of them.  In reaction, they become self sufficient early on (latchkey kids), but become cynical and reach adulthood with collective low self-esteem.  They tend to distrust the system, which they regard as having failed them and of all generations, they are both the most conservative and least likely to be politically involved.  They care more about pragmatism and “just getting things done” than about values and ideals.   Their parents are usually Artists or Prophets.

Heroes, born in a time of institutional failure but increasing choices and the beginning of the cultural polarization of a nation,  are increasingly protected by their stressed-out parents (who perceive the world as more dangerous), and are encouraged to achieve great things but also tend to be micro-managed and overly controlled.   As they rise into adulthood, they realize the things promised them are not going to materialize, and take matters into their own hands to change the system to one that will work for them.  Their parents tend to be Prophets or Nomads.

Artists, born during a national Crisis, are overprotected (“helicopter parenting”) and strictly disciplined.    They are the children most likely to be told to be quiet, stay out of the way and not bother the adults, who are trying to deal with a dangerous world.   Artists tend to be obedient conformists until midlife, when they finally begin to rebel, often spurred on by the Prophets born right after them.   But caught between two more powerful archetypes (Prophets and Heroes), they tend to never take one side or the other, and learn to be sensitive peacemakers instead, concerned with checks and balances, and “reasonable”and “fair” policies that don’t make waves. They attempt to bring people together.  Their parents are Nomads and Heroes.

It’s interesting to note that no Artist has become President during the Millennial Cycle (the 80-year historical period we are currently still in), but Bernie Sanders, a textbook example of the Artist archetype, came awfully close.

It’s also interesting that a Crisis forms just as peacemaking Artists are at their lowest point of influence–when they are in early childhood and very old age.  In other turnings, their peacemaking and diplomatic character keeps us from heading into a real crisis, so nothing really gets out of control, no matter how bad a situation potentially is.  It all gets handled somehow, and America remains intact.  Not so in a fourth turning, when Artist diplomacy is almost completely missing and things become chaotic and there seem to be barely any checks and balances left to keep warring factions from doing real and permanent damage.

I’ve posted this video before, but it’s a very easy to understand overview of how generational and turning theory works.  There’s nothing woowoo about it. It’s based on sound historical observations that repeat over time.

The 4 Turnings.

The four turnings are approximately 20 – 25 year time periods encompassing a particular national mood, which is shaped by the generational attitudes and the age brackets they happen to be in at the time.   Whatever generation happens to be in their prime adult years (midlife) and in the most important leadership roles, tends to set the overall tone for the turning in question.

Thus,

A First Turning, with Heroes in midlife (and Artists as their helpmates), is concerned with institutional building, scientific advancement, prosperity for all, family life, and indulgent parenting.   Children are highly valued and given pretty much whatever they want. Remember, their parents just came out of the worst time in history and never want their children to have to experience what they had to.   There is a narrowing of the gap between the richest and the poorest.  Individualism is not encouraged; it’s a time of conformity. Sex roles seem to be at their least ambiguous.  A first turning tends to be unconcerned with matters of a religious or spiritual nature, idealistic values, or social change.  Building bigger and better institutions, a government that works for (instead of against) the people, and scientific discovery seem to be priorities. The last First Turning we experienced were the prosperous post-war years (“Pax Americana”), until Kennedy’s assassination in 1963.   We are due to enter a new First Turning within 5-15 years, or whenever (and if) the current Crisis is resolved.  The Gilded Age, with its indulged Missionary children, was the earlier analogue to Pax Americana.   The romantic myths we still have of Christmases of “olden times,” with Santa Claus and sleigh rides for well bundled rosy cheeked children and their loving families arose during that earlier first turning.  The Nutcracker story is a great example of what life was like for the indulged Missionary children of the Gilded Age.

A Second Turning, with peacemaking Artists in midlife (and idealistic Prophets in rising adulthood and adolescence), is a time of great social upheaval and a greater focus on matters of a religious, spiritual, or social nature.   Less value is placed on institution building, bureaucracy, and scientific advancement in favor of things of a more esoteric nature, such as discovering altered state of consciousness (through drugs, meditation or other means), civil or womens’ rights, and rebelling against the “establishment.”   There is a great deal of experimentation with different lifestyle choices, but children born during this time tend to be dismissed as burdensome to self-development.  The most recent Second Turning was the Consciousness Revolution, which started with the first campus protests and the civil rights movement, and ended with either Reagan’s election in 1980 or his “Morning in America” speech when he was re-elected in 1984.  The earlier analogue to the most recent Consciousness Revolution was the Romantic movement back in the 1880s and 1890s.  Women’s suffrage, communal “back to nature” living (think of Walden),  campus protests(!), and lots of religious groups (including modern Christian charismatic groups and fundamentalism as well as “the social gospel”) sprang up during this time.

A Third Turning, with impassioned and judgmental Prophets in midlife (but with Artist checks and balances still in place and disaffected Nomads just trying to get by), is in some ways a continuation of a Second Turning, except that the pendulum begins to swing back to greater social conservatism and more law and order.  The left and right tends to become polarized, with both sides thinking only they are right and setting off ugly culture wars.  Institutions, which still thrived in the Second Turning (though they may have stopped being built) begin to atrophy and unravel.   Distrust abounds, especially toward government, which seems to take a backseat to shallow entertainment and “bread and circuses.”  Escapism into shallow entertainment continues into the Fourth Turning (the reality shows that have been popular since the ’90s are the modern equivalent of the circus freak shows, vaudeville acts, and dance marathons of the 1920s and 1930s.)  Sex roles are at their most ambiguous during this time,  and the gap between the wealthy and less wealthy widens.   The most recent Third Turning started with Reagan’s presidency in the early 1980s and ended sometime in the first decade of the new millennium (the most likely dates are 2001 or 2008).   The last Third Turning before the most recent one is characterized by the excesses and opulence of the 1920s, the worship of money and material wealth, the jazz age (considered rebellious music at the time and the Lost incarnation of rap and hip hop, a musical form that was later incorporated into the Big Band music of the GI Generation, much as hip hop has been incorporated into Millennial EDM and dance pop), and the brazen “bad behavior,” political apathy, and disrespect shown by Lost young adults toward their Missionary elders.

 A Fourth Turning, with now-pragmatic, non-nonsense Nomads in midlife (and Prophets in high level leadership roles as early elders) is a national crisis, with no Artists to keep things in check. No matter what the Crisis itself is, things tend to go awry and quickly go out of control.   Children are overprotected in this newly dangerous world, and adults just try to get by as best they can, but have little trust in their government or the people who run it.  But it’s also during the Crisis that the seeds are sown for the new cycle that will begin in the First Turning: renewed community spirit and people in crisis helping each other.  This could be seen during the Great Depression and WWII.   What worries me is that so little of that is seen during this Crisis so far.  But maybe it’s still too early.

On crises that don’t end well.

If a Crisis ends very badly, it could spell the end of or the fracturing of that particular society, or even–in a very bad case scenario–the end of modernity or even civilization as we know it.    If a Crisis ends well, it will lead to a First Turning and a brand new historical cycle (we are currently in the Millennial Cycle, and have been since 1946).     If the Millennials are thwarted in their efforts to rebuild society to one that will work for them (and for everyone), we could fall into a Dark Age or a banana-republic-like dystopia with an accompanying loss of progress, or even of modernity.  In the very worst case scenario (should humanity survive), we could even revert to barbarism and the complete loss of technological and scientific progress.

Who is Steve Bannon and what does he know? 

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Steven Bannon is Trump’s chief strategizer and adviser.  He seems to have so much influence over Trump’s decisions that people have jokingly (or not so jokingly) referred to him as President Bannon.   I’m sure this doesn’t sit well with Trump, but I’m not going to discuss Trump’s narcissism; we already know all about that.

Steve Bannon is a filmmaker, businessman and far-right (now known as alt-right) activist who has no political experience.  However, he is intelligent and has read Strauss and Howe’s books and considers The Fourth Turning his bible.   He is also a white supremacist and heads up the alt-right, neo-Nazi news website, Breitbart News.   Breitbart News is populated by neo-Nazis and people affiliated with the KKK.   For all I know, Bannon might himself be a member of the KKK; I know many of the Trump administration’s supporters are.

Following the 2008 financial crisis, Bannon made a film called Generation Zero.    Given the fact it’s really subtle propaganda for the far right, it’s actually a well made film, and is palatable enough (no racist slurs) that I could see how it might have been used to win gullible or ignorant people over to his side.  While the film addresses the excesses and abuses of Wall Street in the film (so you almost think he might sympathize with the Occupy protesters even though it’s really more Tea Party), he also seems to blame the entire financial crisis on the narcissism and excesses of the hippies of the 1960s, who morphed into these greedy Wall Street bankers.  Like all propaganda, there are grains of truth here, but they are intended to disguise a far right agenda that is far from benign (which I will get to later).  I recommend watching the film, especially because of its detailed discussion about the four turnings and Strauss and Howe generational theory (which is a valid theory in my opinion), but please be mindful of the hidden alt-right message here.

Bannon is not only a white supremacist and outspoken member of the alt-right, he is also a great admirer of Vladimir Lenin, a Russian Communist dictator from the early 20th century.  It’s jarring how this administration seems to regard certain dictatorial Russian leaders (such as Putin) as mentors at best, and possibly even as heroes.  But I digress.   In one of his most damning statements to the press, Bannon said,

“I’m a Leninist.  Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too.  I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.” — Steve Bannon for The Daily Beast, 2013.

There is also a video of him being interviewed on Fox and Friends in 2014, in which he says something along these same lines, but I’m not able to find the video now.    Perhaps it’s been removed.    In that interview (which I did see so I’ll paraphrase), Bannon said that the only way to enact change was to create mass rioting and chaos.   

How Bannon is using historical turning theory for his own dystopian agenda.

Bannon appears to be using fourth turning theory for purposes of destroying our democracy and, knowing we are at such a vulnerable point in history and bloodshed is more likely than not (there is always bloodshed in any fourth turning), he seems dead set on using what he knows to instigate mass unrest, suffering, strife and upheaval by enacting outrageous policies that enrage the left and any people of reason (the way I see it, the Left are now the real conservatives, who don’t want to lose what little democracy and freedom we have left).   He seems to want America to become a permanent hellish dystopia run by authoritarian rulers who allow no freedoms to the people and no mercy shown to anyone who isn’t white and Christian.

An article appeared on The Huffington Post the other day, which I will link here.   It goes into more detail about Bannon and the Trump administration’s real intentions and it’s disturbing reading.

Steven Bannon Believes the Apocalypse is Coming and War is Inevitable.

This article deeply disturbed me for a number of reasons.  Bannon seems to be cherry-picking S&H’s theory, using it for his own evil ends, and in the process totally discrediting a perfectly good theory of history that until now, was almost unknown.     William Strauss died several years ago, and I’m sure would be turning in his grave if he knew the ways his theory is being used and may soon be associated with the alt-right and extreme racism, even though it was never intended to be used that way.   Bannon completely leaves out the fact that, in any fourth turning, there is also (toward the end) an increase in a sense of community, with people helping each other, and this renewed sense of community helps sow the seeds for the first turning to come (if the crisis ends well).   Fourth turnings are always bad, but they don’t have to be completely devastating, and they do have their good points such as strengthening community spirit and fomenting a desire for families to stay together and protect each other.  I also think it’s incredibly immoral of Bannon to “stir the pot” and actually attempt to instigate chaos and bloodshed that is bound to happen on its own anyway.

My comment under this post:

To be fair, there is validity in 4th turning theory. I read S&H’s book in 1997 (also their excellent “Generations’); these 80-100 year cycles are pretty obvious, and S&H nailed the timing of the 4T — many years ahead of time. So it all seems pretty valid. You have to read the book with an open mind and not through Bannon’s dark filter. That being said, I completely disagree with Bannon’s racist, authoritarian politics and I also do not believe this is a war of Judeo-Christianity against Islam. It’s a war alright, but it’s a civil war between those on the far right (like Bannon), who want to see a new authoritarian, xenophobic regime with all our freedoms removed, and those who (like me) want to see a more European style social democracy that puts the people first. There’s no telling how things will resolve and what sort of first turning will result in a few more years (or ten more years, if you go by the 2008 start date). Bannon’s vision of a new America is hell to me, and I think, to most. I do agree it may not end well, and at the very least, many will die and our physical borders may be altered. I also think that Bannon mis-using 4T theory to his own ends to create global chaos is evil beyond belief.”  

I’m not giving up hope for a better future. 

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Credit: Norman Rockwell (member of the Lost generation) — “The Golden Rule” (1961)

In spite of the country feeling like it’s cracking up like a bar of Turkish taffy, I’m not giving up hope.  Perhaps this unfortunate presidency is actually the wake up call we all need for change to actually happen.  Already, there are new movements getting under way that show no signs of stopping.  The new and growing Indivisible movement seems to be the Left’s answer to the Tea Party, and seems better organized with clearer goals than Occupy was.   Demonstrations are taking place in every major city and are spreading to the suburbs.  There’s a huge one going on in Raleigh here this very weekend (I wish I was there!).   I think people are finally waking up to what is happening.  To quote the movie Network, they’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!  The sheep have become tigers.

Here is another comment I wrote on a Facebook group about 4T theory. It describes what I would like to see happen in the future and how this crisis might be resolved, if things go well:

If the 4T began in 2001, it has only a few years left. We have reached the peak of the crisis, and it’s a wake up call to a lot of people. It will get worse, but is not unresolvable. We will have 4 years of hell under this president (or whoever replaces him, such as Pence) and quite possibly, California and other states (perhaps the entire west coast) will secede. All this will happen very quickly. For a short time it will be absolute hell. I don’t have to describe that — I think we can all see what sort of hell it will be. In 2020, Sanders runs again (he says he will) and this time, Millennials who sat out this election (and are all of voting age by then) go to the polls in droves — and Bernie wins (I simply cannot see Trump winning over Bernie after all the damage he will do and is already doing). Also, more of the Boomer generation will have passed on and will have less influence than they do now. Millennials, now reaching midlife, rail behind Sanders (or whoever rises to power to replace him, since he is quite elderly even now) and begin to enter the political sphere and have some influence. The New Silents [the kids being born now who are entering their preteen years or early teens] will be their helpmates, as S&H predicted. They begins to rebuild society with the help of those of us older generations who want the same). This brings us into the 1T. But instead of celebrating victory, this time, the first few years will be about recovering from trauma and helping each other recover. It will be about reconstruction more than victory, so perhaps Millennials won’t become as hubristic as GIs were. The infrastructure will be repaired and rebuilt, and for the first time, we will have socialized healthcare, in addition to some modern version of those things we are about to lose (Medicare, social security, good public schools, etc.). If the 4T began in 2008 and not 2001, it’s going to take longer. Things could get much worse and we could be destroyed completely. So I hope we’re nearing the end of it. I also don’t see us being as much of a world power as we were the last time around, we will have learned humility. That’s actually a good thing.  We need to put an end to our lack of humility, narcissism and greed, once and for all, and relearn empathy and community spirit, even if it means our borders are smaller and we have less power in the world.    

Neil Howe Interview: Inside Bannon’s Brain

After writing this post, I just came across this video.  It’s an interview with Neil Howe, one of The Fourth Turning‘s authors, setting the record straight about his theory.  (Sorry, I am not able to embed this video).

https://app.hedgeye.com/insights/57111-inside-bannon-s-brain-live-q-a-with-the-fourth-turning-author-neil?single_item=true

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Further reading:

Millennials are our only real hope for change.