Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category.

The World We Live In

How did we get here? Garrison Keillor* gave us this this morning:

The greatest absurdity of our time is You Know Whom, which goes without saying but I will anyway. What his election showed is that a considerable number of people, in order to demonstrate their frustration with the world as it is, are willing to drive their car, with their children in the back seat, over a cliff, smash the radiator, bust an axle and walk away feeling good about themselves. No other president in modern times has been held in contempt by a preponderance of people from the moment he said, “So help me, God.” The playboy blather, the smirk of privilege, the stunning contempt for factual truth — how can the country come together when the president has nothing in common with 98 percent of the rest of us?

I have no answer and I have a hard time with that 46.4% of voters that drove the car over the cliff. Why would you want to be brought together with them? We see where one right-wing nut group tried to create a false story about Roy Moore to discredit the very media we depend on to see what is really going. As the evidence piles up, Alabama is the shinning example of how people are totally out of touch with reality and facts. But out of touch does not really describe it. What seems more in play here is their ability to deny the obvious, to pathologically believe what they want to believe that in the end, will do us all great harm. The Bible as the law giver instead of the Constitution? Oh, and whose interpretation of that contradictory mess of fables? We are insane.

This has always troubled me as a man who tries to operate, no matter how uncomfortable, on facts and data. I would love to believe that salt is good for you, and sugar, especially in ice cream, is health food. But they are not, and if I do not take appropriate measures on consumption, not only will I be a blimp, I will go down in flames long before I am ready. In the same vein, I would love to believe that if we cut taxes, the economy would take off, the treasury coffers would fill up with all the new activity, and wages would all rise. Trouble is, that is not what happens. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the deficit balloons. We know that for a fact, but here we are with a tax bill that may pass that is an abomination. Let’s take away a tax deduction on interest paid on student loans, tax college endowment funds, and remove the deduction for teachers buying school supplies so we can give away money to the wealthy? That is only scratching the surface. How did we get to this insanity?

I have a theory. No surprise there. It has to do with the fact that in the Western World, we are more religious than any other nation. Note how well religion on a national scale has worked for Muslim nations. Yet that seems to be the way we are moving if you listen to Roy Moore or many Republicans. And my theory is simple: If you can suspend your disbelief to believe religion and their nonsense stories as fact, it is a short trip to denying anything you don’t want to believe. I watched Bill Maher’s Religulous again last night and in doing that, voting for President DFF became quite understandable. I strongly recommend you watch this movie again (showing on HBO or maybe Showtime). Try to remove the brainwashing you have had all your life about religion and think Trump. Then all of a sudden you get it.

Maher points out that what people assume as fact, is of course not fact, but hearsay. He points out (and he leaves no religion untouched) that many of their beliefs are nonsense (talking snake), and in my favorite scene points out to worshippers that the whole Joseph/Mary/Virgin birth is a later telling of an earlier pagan version (actually about 32 of them) and the same can be said for the resurrection. They simply don’t believe it. It also says something about them not really examining their religion, which of course is the whole point of faith. So why is that?

Because they need it. They need to believe, so they do. But watching grown men, otherwise intelligent, ignoring their intelligence and skepticism on religion is revealing in the time of Trump who pumps out false narrative after false narrative that is quickly accepted by his followers. Maher, in one of what I think is the most revealing segments (because most of the movie is confronting people in a nice way with their illogic and can be uncomfortable), is with a small trucker congregation at a truck stop church. He says the following:

I think that being without faith is something that is a luxury for people who are fortunate enough to have a fortunate life. You know you go to prison and you hear a guy say, “You know what buddy, I got nothing but Jesus in here.” I can completely understand that. I think not having faith is a luxury some times. You are in a foxhole you probably have a lot of faith. So I get that, but you guys aren’t dumb.You are smart people. How can smart people, how can they believe in a talking snake, people live to 900 years old, and the virgin birth, you know, that is my question.

Now there it is. How can they believe that stuff or worse, a fairy godfather that guides your life when everthing around us tells us that is not true. How can they believe the lies that President DFF puts out? How do they quickly discount real news labeled by him “fake”?

Because they need to and that trumps everything else. In some ways religion has poisoned our minds to rational thinking. We have been indoctrinated from birth in faith-based believing and it is no surprise that in modern times we can once again be thrust into the dark ages by a Donald Trump in an instant, because people are afraid and they need to believe there is a savior. And in that logic comes all the atrocities we have seen throughout history caused by religion, and those President DFF and Republicans are now perpetuating on America and our values.

You know, religion may be a part of us that allowed us to survive in almost impossible situations, not giving up hope, and progressing as a civilization.  For some, it still does, but it could also be what brings us down in a modern world where the opportunities for us to destroy ourselves when we delude ourselves have never been so easy.  Maybe religion has become a dangerous drug. But God Bless America.

*Now he is out for allegations for improper behavior.  Are Men the devil? See yesterdays blog.  Oh let’s wait until we find out what really happened. Certainly we are flawed.

The Republicans Have No Clothes (The Emperor’s New Clothes)

There are two things here, and the second is the most telling and chilling about who we are. The first is looking at what “tax loopholes” are being closed. Those would be teacher’s deducting the cost of subsidizing your kids education by deducting the cost of schools supplies. The second “loophole” cut will be those wicked blood sucking kids who can now deduct interest payments on their loans to try to get ahead and make our economy competitive.

The third “loophole” is those dastardly deductions for big medical expenses. If you are sick, screw you. Yep, we are going after those blood sucking Americans who suck us dry. Oh and for those of you that argue this isn’t really a big deal (some don’t itemize), see how much they figured they would save so they could give real “job creators” cuts without cutting their loopholes. If you wondered what Republicans looked like naked, there it is and they have no clue like the Emperor in the famous Hans Christian Anderson tale that they are now standing naked. Will anyone but the little boy (and Democrats) notice?

Item two is the whole sexual escapade of Trump and Roy Moore and Republicans looking the other way. These are the people where family values matter, and now when it comes to power and politics they don’t. President DFF cast dispersions at Al Franken, yet is silent on Roy Moore. Republicans call for Al Franken’s resignation, and yet President DFF’s own sexual assaults go ignored, with the justification he never admitted to it, but 14 women now say otherwise. This was out there before the election and America, thank you Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, elected him in the electoral college (another relic from the dark ages).

But what should raise the hair on the back of your neck is how “good” Christians in Alabama are reinterpreting the Bible to legitimize Roy Moore’s lusting after children. That in itself tells you all you want to know about putting a man in office who thinks his interpretation of the Bible trumps (pun intended) our Constitution. But here is the frosting on the cake. Alabama Governor, Kay Ivey tells us on Joy Reid this morning that holding the Senate is more important than electing a pedophile. Following that logic, you can see how Hitler rose to power. You can see how power and fear corrupt absolutely. And from Bible thumping Alabama. At this point the moral corruption in the Alabama GOP is complete, and religion, politics as a religion, and the moral superiority of Alabamian’s interpretation of the Bible are playing a large part.

Maybe the real people of Alabama will come to their senses, but this ought to scare you to death. We too could birth another Hitler, a Christian one this time. You can argue that other Republicans have spurned Roy Moore, but what of their leader the Dumb Fat Fuck. There is moral decay among the moral majority who, it turns out, are immoral after all.

So now you see the Emperor with no cloths. He does not give a wit about common people’s problems or struggles, and even more damning, he will sacrifice our Constitution and our moral values to hold on to power. Could it not be anymore clear?

What does Freedom Mean

Sometimes I like to know how people can be so bitheringly stupid. You know how you talk to what seems to be a normal highly functioning human being and then their politics come out and you are standing with your mouth open dumbstruck by the stupidity. Now some of it is ignorance, but that ignorance is studied ignorance. They work at it. So that brings me back to why. In Alabama and the Roy Moore bring back Jesus into government while ignoring my perversions campaign, what the hell is going on? They would rather vote for pervert and someone who defiles the Constitution than a Democrat? Running a close second are the folks in Texas that believe they lost their family to a gunman because it is God’s will, not the easy access to guns for fruit cakes, which is something we could do something about. I am going to come back to this one.

What people believe, and the facts and data they choose to ignore is a function of what they want to believe, that makes their life simple or somehow validates all that they are. Facts and data don’t matter. I think it was CNN or maybe MSNBC that was down in the South interviewing Trump supporters on whether they have any regrets. Some did sure, but the majority were thanking him for the economy and one lady actually said he is a great American. I could go on and on about we are still running on Obama’s economy (Remember the mess the Republicans got us in under Bush?) and that President DFF is the most lying and ignorant president we have ever had. His assault on freedom of the press and separation of powers will do lasting damage to our Constitution, but why bother? Facts and data don’t matter to these people. See Alabama and Texas for true ignorance. One might say they have the freedom to believe what ever they want to regardless of the facts. They apparently have the freedom to be blithering idiots and they are exercising it to the full extent.

But sometimes there is something basic going on and we miss it. The Second Amendment arguments provides a window in to how ideas have changed. Read the Amendment: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The right of the people to keep and bear arms in this sentence is not an absolute right, it is dependent on supporting a “well regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State. We did not have standing armies, now we do, and that right in the latter is no longer supported by the need in the former. Now think about that. The freedom to bear arms was an end to a good, the Security of the State. Now it has nothing to do with it. In fact, instead of bringing us a good, it brings us misery all around the country. But the Supremes in their conservative wisdom establish the right to bear arms as an absolute right, and absolute good. Look at the good it is doing.

Now this is just an example of what has maybe happened to us, that freedom became a “good” in itself, not the means to “good”. There is an excellent essay in the WaPO by Elizabeth Bruenig, Do we Really Understand the Second Amendment Anymore, that raises the more fundamental question, do we understand freedom. Said more simply, today, freedom is the end goal, but as we have seen with guns, may not provide the ultimate goal, good. But that wasn’t always so. As Elisabeth put it, “Freedom mattered, in other words, but was always subordinate to the highest good, which could sometimes place limits on liberty.” In the simplest terms, gun nuts believe they have an absolute right to a gun, and abridging that freedom by background checks and other restrictions like getting rid of AK-47s is simply evil because it restricts their freedom. But when we look around at the carnage that freedom allows, maybe that freedom is the problem. Elizabeth gives us this:

But freedom unchained from the good comes with certain hazards. Today, it seems like devising a vision of the good means curtailing people’s liberty; after all, it does require that we define some choices (bestiality, for instance) as inherently wrong and perhaps limit them, even if they make a person happy. Yet this also means that the greater the swell of public sentiment against gun ownership, the more justified its ardent defenders seem in claiming that their freedom is under attack. The way they see it, not only is their freedom to do as they please threatened, so is their freedom to be pleased by what they’re pleased by. By imposing a preference, the government would be abrogating their liberty… We can ban people from killing and punish them for it, but we can’t insist that they ought not own the implements of killing, as long as they’re still following the laws

If we’re trying to build a free society for the sake of being free, or so each person can pursue their own tastes, no matter how evil, then we’re doing an excellent job where firearms are concerned — and reaping the results in ghastly headlines. But if we’re trying to build a society in which people are free specifically to flourish and live long and well, to be virtuous and educated citizens engaged in the task of creating lasting peace and greater understanding, then we’re stumbling, and we’ll keep tripping along a bloody path until we can decide what our freedom is for.

I would like to take this argument a step further because guns are just one subset of the problem. Way back when, when we were facing similar problems (economically) along came a man who championed the rights of the working man against the financial corporations and big banks. That would be FDR. And he was one of the few people who actually sat down and thought about freedom and gave us his famous Four Freedoms speech which applies today.

In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the world.

Or said simply, freedom of speech, worship, from want, and from fear.  Now you can then translate that into a liberal agenda which FDR talked about in his speech which amazingly enough was a speech mainly about arming the country for WWII (Inauguration 1941). But again think about this. For each freedom, or good (in terms of a value, not a thing), some freedoms have to be curtailed. If you want to have free speech, someone can’t be trying to censor the press hollering “fake news”. If you want freedom of religion, that also implies that your religion cannot impinge on someone else’s freedom of religion (See Roy Moore as an extreme example). If you want freedom from want, well that says we have to pay taxes and work together, good jobs, healthcare, and maybe a secure retirement system. Okay you get the drift. Freedom, as Elizabeth said above, is a means to an end, not the end itself.

Now consider the fifth Freedom the Republicans created, freedom of the market place. Any government interference simple hobbles the market place and harms all of us all in their little minds. But what we have seen is that this worship of freedom in itself, negates the other four freedoms FDR outlined. Markets, according to Republicans (and not supported by the data), do better when taxes and wages are low (higher profits and less money for freedom from want). And now as Conservatives tout freedom as an end in itself it justify intolerance such as I don’t have to sell wedding cakes to gay couples; mass murder by guns; I don’t have to provide my employees with full coverage healthcare because it infringes on my religious rights; I should not have to pay taxes because people should work harder; and of course the market place should be free to pollute and gouge; all because all regulation (infringement on my freedom) is bad in their simple little minds.

So, Elizabeth has raised and interesting concept that we should all consider. Of course that assumes that most of us operate intellectually and try to connect dots. Sadly most don’t as we now see the whole state of Alabama wants to embrace a sexual pervert instead of a Democrat (“I can’t vote for a baby killer!” Let’s see a woman’s right to control her own body instead of the government is a baby killer.  Don’t you just love religion?). I will leave you with this: Funny isn’t it that everyone is up in arms over Roy Moore’s sexual perversions and yet his real sin is wanting to replace our Constitution with his version of the Bible. Where have we seen this before?  Would that be ISIS? Would that be the Middle ages?  What is the difference between Biblical law and Sharia law?  SSDD, Same Shit, Different Day

 

It’s Thursday

Once again I sit here at a loss as to where to start. The DFF’s call to send the NYC terrorist to Guantanamo has now been withdrawn and as Rachel Maddow pointed out last night, the court “system”, you know that thing Lindsey Graham championed, is in a shambles, not to mention it would violate almost everything in our Constitution. Just try to keep in mind that if they can do that to him, they can do that to you. Once you throw away our rights, you never get them back.

Next up is a really good piece by Andrew Rosenthal about the Seven Bizarre Notions Trump and His Team Have About America. It is really worth a read. What you get out of this is how ignorant yet arrogant these people are (or how dangerous their ignorance makes them). When I watch Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her ignorant arrogance saying things like you can’t question a four star general in the face of video showing he was lying, I know what is going on here.

“If you want to go after General Kelly, that’s up to you, but I think if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that’s something highly inappropriate.”

So in a democracy it is wrong to speak truth to power.  Some democracy. They are on a religious mission. These are evangelical Christians who believe Trump has God’s authority and was chosen by him. Said another way, they checked their brains at the door. That is what makes this whole administration so scary, their lack of understanding of the Constitution and how it is supposed to protect us from people like them. It would if Republicans were not such a craven and evangelical lot themselves. Please, somebody send in some atheists to straighten this mess out. My favorite came from Andrew when he said this about keeping women sacred:

It might be tempting to write Kelly’s remarks off as the ravings of a man whose boss must drive him crazy on a daily basis and who had earlier talked of a mythical time when women in America were held “sacred” (by blocking their career aspirations and paying them less than men, denying them birth control and access to abortions, and refusing them the right to vote for more than a half-century after the Civil War).

Meanwhile there is was really interesting testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee from Thae Yong-ho, a former diplomat in North Korea’s Embassy. He defected so his sons would not be slaves as he was. He noted that the world is intruding in on North Korea, and free markets are springing up and unless Kim changes his way, there is a good chance there could be an uprising of the people. Now you can take all this with a gain of salt, but the thrust here is that we are playing into his hands by being belligerent instead of tightening sanctions and waiting him out. I would argue that that is our only viable option unless you want to kill about 20 million people. Of course the DFF is traveling to Asia on a long trip and he needs a distraction from the tightening net on his finances and collusion with the Russians, so hang on to your hat. What is the death of 20 million people as a distraction if you are on a mission from God. Just ask the latest NYC terrorist.

Finally I will leave you with this: I listened to a discussion on NPR yesterday (driving to a colonoscopy, cancer boy came out just fine) about the new study of the Democratic Party’s failures, Autopsy: The Democratic Party in Crisis. It is a steely eyed look at how they need to change and in the interview you saw the problem. Clearly, 2016 was a total shellacking and yet no one was willing to look deeply, so Progressives did. And the report is damning to today’s Democratic Party. The thrust was wake up, stand for something, and that something is a progressive way forward. But they also had Michael Tomasky, arguing that to win in conservative districts, Democrats have to hew more to the middle (note the middle is now to the right in today’s politics). That might be smart tactics to win a battle, and bad strategy to win a war. That is how we got here and as the study noted, most people can’t really name what Democrats stand for (Note Tomasky was a Hillary supporter).

In one exchange where a caller indicated that with Hillary it was unclear what she stood for or whether she was progressive at all, Tomasky replied that Hillary did a poor job of messaging, but if you look at her policies, they were more liberal than Barrack Obama (I would hope so). What I love is that they can’t see the fatal flaw in this argument, where was the central theme instead of a bunch of policies. Then there was the argument that you can’t argue for a single payer system and expect to bring in moderates. Once again I have to ask, if you don’t, what does the Democratic Party stand for. How do you convince people that the way forward is universal care if that is not your goal?

The report is great reading and I strongly recommend it. The sad thing is Democrats seem to be ignoring it, with let’s convince people we can work with the other side bull shit. It has worked so well for them.

 

 

 

 

Being An Atheist

Americans have a hard time with this concept.  If you announce you are one, kiss public life goodbye.  I mean what happens to you if you don’t end every speech with God Bless America*? People expect a religious basis for your fundamental principles and if you don’t have a religious one, my God, you are rudderless. “Cry havoc and release the dogs of war!”  Nothing could be further from the truth, but that is the conventional wisdom.  One might ask, what or who was Jesus, except for his philosophy for living our lives?  One might also ask, do you need a heaven or hell so you hold to those ideas when it gets hard?  History has shown us all kinds of beliefs very similar to Christian beliefs or basic philosophy (without the God figure) that came out of reason and thinking about the human condition.

I can be just as principled and founded as the most religious person, but my basic principles are not based on faith or dogma from a book, but observation of the world around us.  And my observation is that there is no God.  Better writers than I have documented the observable problems with religion (Dawkins, Harris). That doesn’t make it true and my beliefs are not like a faith-based belief, it can be changed by observation, data, and science.  However, my experience is that my observations and science reinforce  my view that most people’s beliefs in some all-powerful being involved in their lives is not supported by everything I see around us.

Now here is another thing most Americans can’t get:  I don’t need you to be an atheist.  I don’t care what you are or what you believe, especially if it works for you.  Atheism, at least for me, is not a religion, just an observation.  It is true that once in a while when someone says something religious and remarkably stupid, I do respond, like the hurricane survivor who thanks God for their survival, forgets about the first responders who deployed to pull them out of the flood, and do not hold that same God accountable for the destruction and death all around them.  Sometimes that kind of thinking when it leaks into political thinking gets dangerous to our democracy. See my last blog.  The Constitution was trying to make us free from religious persecution, not free religion to dominate our lives.

One other thing that most Americans do not get is the difference between spirituality and religious belief.  I think we are all connected, not by a supreme being, but by nature itself and the processes that created us.  In a way, one with the force.  Now other than the fact that the very important elements that make up our bodies were created in exploding stars, I have no proof for this, except maybe we all evolved from the same genetic material, which we also have proof for.  I feel a connection to the universe, the sun, the planet, and life on this planet (sadly that includes the FF).  That is my spirituality.  We are in this together and the human condition is universal. And I observe nothing that tells me otherwise.  On the other hand, I see no God anywhere unless you define God as nature itself which is quite different from a guy who wrote a book of rules, and is checking if you were naughty or nice.

Last, let me say that a philosophy about life and the human condition is so much more efficacious than a religion.  See the problem Evangelicals are having when they find a gay person a loved son or dauther.  Reality does not match their faith. Faith makes coming to grips with reality almost impossible.  Watch the Catholic Church try to modernize to reality today about women, love, marriage, and childbirth.  Philosophy, on the other hand, is based upon logic and can be adjusted when we find it no longer reflects reality as we now know it.  It makes our belief and ideas about right and wrong, morality, and justice based upon rational analysis not a book written before the birth of Christ, and rewritten (New Testament) to be more palatable to a changing world.

So there you have it.  Atheism, at least mine, is not a religion, it is just an observation, but one based on science and data.  Your belief is just as valid as mine in the sense that we own it and have a right to it.  The problem I have is when I recognize that right, and most religions do not.  And that is what the Founders were trying to prevent in our Constituion, our intolerance that makes debate and governing impossible.  And it would appear we are losing our grip on that.

*One might also wonder what happens to you if you don’t wear you flag pin everyday.  It would appear that the flag (and flag pin) have become a religious symbol that is required in public life.  Once again we have lost our way.  It is the principles embodied in the Constitution that we can debate that are what we owe our allegience to, not some symblol or flag that has no defined meaning other than a loyalty test to something.

 

While We Sleep

NOT!

I was driving to my golf round yesterday (better titled, ball search round) and I caught some of the Sessions’ hearing before the Judiciary Committee yesterday. It is interesting that without asserting executive privilege (which only the President can do), the Republicans who control the committee allowed Little Jeffy (little in the brain, little in the heart) Sessions, the Attorney General (yeah that is how far we have fallen) to hide behind confidentiality with the President, which does not exist. That basically destroys the whole purpose of the Judiciary Committee which among other things is supposed to oversee the Justice Department. I wonder if this had been a Democrat claiming a non-existent asserted confidentiality, how that would have gone down? But I get distracted.

I think it was Orrin Hatch of Idaho pushing little Jeffy’s religious freedom memorandum which the Justice Department issued to the rest of the government about “respecting religious freedom”. I put that in quotes because what it really is, is a license to discriminate based upon religion:

In a memorandum titled “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty,” Sessions articulated 20 sweeping principles about religious freedom and what that means for the U.S. government — among them that freedom of religion extends to people and organizations; that religious employers are allowed to hire only those whose conduct is consistent with their beliefs; and that grants can’t require religious organizations to change their character.

Now in my little brain, I thought, “Hmm, did the Founders want us to have religious freedom or freedom from religion and its prejudices? I think mostly the latter having seen the religious wars that had roiled through Europe for hundreds of years*. And of course if you pay attention to history and the framing of the Constitution, because at that time there were state churches and smaller religious sects did not want to be bullied by the big guys, they wanted religion out of government. Note that in the Constitution itself, God is not mentioned, and religion is mentioned only twice, in the original Constitution in Article 6:

“No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States**, and later added as the First Amendment, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Now the intent here is clear and in fact made clear by James Madison in the debates establishing the Constitution when he said, “Religion itself may become a motive to persecution and oppression,” And that is precisely what Little Jeffy Sessions and his Justice Department are about, using religion as a basis to persecute and oppress. Does this say organizations can decide what healthcare you get (if you work for them) based upon their religious beliefs? Hobby Lobby gave us just that decision. Does that say someone can set up discriminatory hiring practices because of their religious beliefs? Can they refuse service because of those beliefs? Yes it does. If you are a religious institution and you discriminate based on that religion, can you still get federal funds? Yes you can.

So we are sliding backwards and forgetting the history of “religious freedom” or as I like to call it, freedom from religion. The Fat F*ck (FF) is into this big time as he made it easier for organizations to deny women access to birth control, but men can get Viagra. Really? Shouldn’t our medical decisions and health care plans be based on good medicine, not religious beliefs? Time for a single payer healthcare system so corporations don’t control our lives? Once you establish the right to discriminate based upon religion, does that not say that White Arians who believe black people are not God’s chosen have every right to discriminate? Where does it stop?

And that was the whole point of getting religion out of government, that you should have a right to believe what you want, but not use that belief to deny other’s their beliefs, and yet that is exactly what we are setting up. This is not a slippery slope, it is a greased cliff. So while you were sleeping, civilization took another step toward the abyss. Isn’t it time we take back our government and reestablish the principle of freedom from religion?

*They also wanted to remove religious absolutism from debate, and allow free and rational debate instead of religious dogma.

**This having been said, it should be noted that several state constitutions do have a religious test — specifically, they deny office to anyone unwilling to acknowledge God or a Supreme Being.)

Taking a Step Back and Reflecting

This is a long one, but lays out I think, all the connecting of dots for our way forward.  In Florida the mob is out with the pitchforks and torches over the death of elderly residents at a care facility in Hollywood Florida. There was an immediate call for criminal proceedings. Why? Certainly it was a tragedy as these folks basically died of complications from heat stroke. But other than that we don’t know what happened. Wouldn’t we want a thorough investigation before you erect your gallows? I am not here to argue who did what or did not do what, I am just using this example to show how we tend to want to blame first, and find out facts later, maybe leaving many innocent victims in our wake.

It is with this in mind that I watch Hillary being interviewed and pushing her new book. I have been clear that I just want her to go away, in a sense blaming her for Donald Trump. But as a great article in the Atlantic by James Fallows makes the case, she does have something to teach us. You don’t have to agree with her to learn something here and on many things she is direct and right. As James put it:

If you’ve read this book, with Clinton’s repeated reminders that blame for this historic disaster begins with her, you’re more likely to start yelling at the TV—or the newspaper or the website—when you see pundits, mainly male, saying that it’s time for Hillary Clinton to “step back” or “stop whining” or “get off the stage” or “stop making excuses.” She’s telling an interesting and important tale—and one with uncomfortable implications for the press among other institutions.

So as one of my friends reminds me, she still commands the respect of millions and maybe we ought to allow her her podium. I listened to the Rachel Maddow  interview on MSNBC and on many policy issues she has great insights, and unlike the idiot we have in office, actually knows their history and the players. There is no argument here that she would have been much for better the country than the train wreck we are on right now.

Her point about the press fixating on SQUIRREL! (emails) and Trump’s understanding of this to get 24/7 coverage of his lies is critical to her loss and has not been fully reconciled by the press as they continue their nonstop coverage of the Village Idiot in Charge when he or his surrogates say nonsense. The White House Press briefing has become an arrogant fuck you America and we still get it live every day, giving them a megaphone to spout lies.

But in that interview with Rachel and in her book (which I have not read yet, but will, so I am judging here from excerpts), I can find no real reckoning with the massive loss of Democrats in state and federal government positions over the Obama years. Rachel did not ask the hard one here about why Democrats could not get the vote out. And that I think is my critical criticism of Hillary and Democrats in general and why I have argued in the past that I wish she would just go away. They have not come to grips with this except as a bunch of tactical errors, not why they do not excite the electorate.

I withdraw my just go away critique and I think we can learn from her, as long as she is never a candidate again. Her advice on policy and knowledge of the players may be invaluable, but on the big issue of strategic vision, she is sorely lacking. Right or wrong there is just too much baggage and a lack of trust. It can’t be won back.  There is too much history and a history of calculating on isses and following the herd (gay marriage for one).

So why did Democrats basically get relegated into also rans? Now before I answer this question, I want to bring up one other question that has driven me nuts: Why do most Americans reside in Fantasyland? Why is it that facts became relative? They aren’t you know. If the last election were run on issues and facts, Hillary would have won in a landslide. Democrats in general would fare much better in the polls. Facts, data, and science are mostly on their side. Donald and the Republicans have repeated lies and misrepresented the facts and Donald’s White Mob (his base) is as Hillary said, deplorable. Yet he got elected and so did the Republicans. How is that?

Well there is a great book that goes a long way to explaining it called, Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500 Year History, by Kurt Anderson. Basically he gives us this great condensation:

The short answer is because we’re Americans, because being American means we can believe any damn thing we want, that our beliefs are equal or superior to anyone else’s, experts be damned.

He tells of Stephen Colbert riffing as the conservative character he created on his invented word, truthiness, and summing up that philosophy is this monologue:

Now I’m sure some of the “word police,” the “wordinistas” over at Webster’s, are gonna say, “Hey, that’s not a word!” Well, anybody who knows me knows that I’m no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They’re elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn’t true. Or what did or didn’t happen. Who’s Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was finished in 1914? If I wanna say it happened in 1941, that’s my right. I don’t trust books—they’re all fact, no heart…. Face it, folks, we are a divided nation… divided between those who think with their head and those who know with their heart…. Because that’s where the truth comes from, ladies and gentlemen—the gut.

He tells us of all the mystical fanciful things we like to believe (religion, witches, Obama is a Muslim, Angels, Devils, Heaven, black helicopters, etc.) and makes this assertion about us:

By my reckoning, the more or less solidly reality-based are a minority, maybe a third of us but almost certainly fewer than half. Only a third of us, for instance, believe with some certainty that CO2 emissions from cars and factories are the main cause of Earth’s warming.

I called this faith-based thinking and I have argued in a similar vein that our religious training and beliefs gives rise to this duality of thinking, rational and faith-based, that starts crossing lines and gives us what we want to believe instead of what is.

I am in that third, solidly reality-based group.  Certainly I have my prejudices and things I want to believe, but in the end, facts, science, and data inform me.  If tax cuts for the wealthy really worked I would jump on it.  If unregulated markets are really the best solution for all things, I would be all for them.  If for profit healthcare really did give us the best system, I would fight for it. If global warming really was a hoax, I would be against legislation to recognize it.

If transsexuals really were a problem in the military, I would be for banning them.  If the Muslim ban were anything but counterproductive, I would be all for it. I could go on and on. If the poor are poor because they are lazy, well it is just deserts. But we have tons of data, facts, and science that tell us otherwise and I have written extensively about all of them in this blog with links to reliable sources, facts, and data.  None of it matters to what people want to believe.

So why is this import to the question of why the Democrats have fallen out of power?  Were the Republicans just better liars?  Let me introduce another idea, that of optimal and suboptimal solutions.  I think Thomas Friedman came up with this concept a few years ago:

But while our culture of imagination is still vibrant, the other critical factor that still differentiates countries today — and is not a commodity — is good governance, which can harness creativity. And that we may be losing. I am talking about the ability of a society’s leaders to think long-term, address their problems with the optimal legislation and attract capable people into government. What I increasingly fear today is that America is only able to produce “suboptimal” responses to its biggest problems — education, debt, financial regulation, health care, energy and environment.

The concept is fairly simple.  Take healthcare.  What we know from the rest of the world is that universal healthcare (everyone has it, not necessarily single payer) is the model that drives down costs and delivers better care.  It has been implemented in many forms from doctors and hospitals that are government owned, to single payer like Medicare.  There are even forms of it as private insurance (Switzerland) although highly regulated (no profit taking for basic well-defined benefits policies).  So what did we do here?  We went for a suboptimal Obamacare because we could get it. Now it is under continuous attack. There is a lesson here.

Back in what I like to call the semi-rational days when Republicans had not gone totally off the rails, Democrats and Republicans would compromise on suboptimal solutions, which is the very essence of compromise.  If you watch what happened and you are honest, the country went right with Bill Clinton, more like a moderate Republican than a Democrat, and conservative economic ideas took over the nation.  De-regulation and Wall Street ruled. As Democrats tried to accommodate the country’s drift right with more economically conservative positions, the real threat to our Democracy grew, economic inequality***.

During the Bush years we had disastrous tax cuts with no jobs and giant deficits, and finally through deregulation helped by Bill Clinton, the market crashed and burned.  Guess what?  Self interest did not drive wise decisions. Then when Obama came along and improved the markets, there was no flow down to Main Street, thus the birth of the Tea Party.  They were tired of suboptimal solutions that did not work for them.  The trouble with their optimal solutions, balanced budgets, slashing government spending, gutting government regulation, and blaming everything on immigrants is that it was based on what they wanted to believe, not reality, and we are back to Fantasyland.

Eight years of Obama and nothing really changed for those middle class working stiffs.  They saw the rich guys get richer and they languished, and worse, their children’s prospects languished. What arose from all this was the election in 2016 where the mood in the country was anything but the establishment that had proven ineffective to dealing with our problems.  Both sides were seen (accurately) as part of the problem. Democrats did, and you still hear it today, want to be hands across the aisle.  Working together is the goal instead of optimal solutions based upon data, facts, and science. It polled well although the reality was people never vote that way. It is a recipe for failure. You can (and I have) blamed the failure on Republican control of the media, gerrymandering, the filibuster, but in the end, Democrats failed to present a strategic vision of their way forward.

Other than on social issues, Democrats failed to really stand for anything and their economic policy (and Hillary’s) was Republican Lite. So you had a choice between Republican Lite, socially progressive, and real Republicans who stood for a grand strategy, although one built of a Fantasy world.  Voters picked the guys who stood for something, albeit all the wrong somethings.

Standing for something means standing for optimal solutions, based upon facts, science, and data.  Things that work, not fit neatly into an ideology about what should work, or politically easy.  But in that standing for those optimal solutions, there has to be a grand strategy, a strategy of how what we are proposing fits into a whole that will make all our lives better.  Hillary, at least I have yet to hear it, has not ever done this in a believable way.  For the young voter’s perspective, while she has some good policies and certainly would be better than Trump, is still part of promoting the economic establishment that is at the heart of all our problems, racial***, social, and economic.

The grand failure of the Democratic Party is that they lost what they stood for and it became working within the existing system assuming that the existing system was not fundamentally flawed. Being against what Republicans were for, but not real there, there. In trying to accommodate right trending popular politics, they lost who they were.  The book Listen Liberal should be required reading for everyone.  It’s painful, but the truth is Democrats became like Republicans, really blaming the victim, using education as the tool to innovation and a better tomorrow.  We don’t like to believe it, but we became elitists too. This last election was a giant flashing sign that the electorate was pretty much done with establishment politics because it wasn’t working for them no matter who was in power.

The Democrats tried to reinvent themselves within the establishment with their “Better Deal”.  Then they introduced some policies to support that.  It fell flat.  Better Deal connotes that the existing system just needs some fixes and everything will be hunky dory.  Donald Trump and the Obama voters that voted for him are data that says that does not work or that no one believed it.  They know the system is against them and they are right.

Bernie got that, but the Democratic establishment did not want to hear that message, and we got Trump against Hillary and this should have been a cake walk.  I thought it would be.  But I have learned from this election, and Hillary and establishment Democrats do not appear to have. Their still arguing tactics and not understanding that their grand strategy was non-existent. We are the non-Trump party did not wash when people wanted to break things.  They wanted a new way forward.

Okay smart guy, what is the way forward?  What is the strategic vision? Well remember that old document, The Declaration of Independence.  Remember this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, …

Well change it to this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, the pursuit of Happiness, and a level playing field. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, …

That is the strategic vision.  Money begets power, which begets the loss of equality.  Powers seeks to consolidate its favored position, and all the rest is history.  Economic inequality throughout the world is growing and is the root of all the rest.  This does not mean that meritocracy should not rule, but within bounds and be fair meritocracy, not one based upon position and power (read money).  And what the Republicans who represent the 1% forgot was that last part, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men …”.  They defined it as securing their rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness at your expense when your life, liberty or happiness conflicts with theirs, and as wealth accumulates with the few, there are lots of conflicts.  In other words, economic inequality is the root of all inequality***.

Once this reality is recognized,  that  our system is structured to increase economic inequality under the false assumption that a high tide lifts all boats, then you recognize that the system has to be changed in fundamental ways and we have look at what works effectively, those optimal solutions that get thrown away as “not politically feasible” when in fact, they are our goals.  Bernie laid it out for us, but he is a socialist so don’t listen to him, was the response of Republicans and many Democrats.

He said the obvious, the system is not working for the average guy.  It has to be fundamentally changed so that more of us share in the wealth of our nation.  That says we have to rewrite the tax code, laws that regulate intellectual property, trade agreements, property and contract laws to name a few.  We need a fair minimum living wage.  We need major investments in our infrastructure.  We need to recognize science, and fight global warming.  We need universal healthcare and a Social Security system that insures everyone with a secure retirement*.  We need to fundamentally rethink debt and investments in our future.  But all of this cannot be just policies, but a vision or structure and a systematic approach to improving our lives and our children’s live’s for the future. It has to be couched in the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and a level playing field.  

The solutions to all of the above cannot be suboptimal solutions, but optimal ones.  Does not mean you will get there on day one, but that is the goal, that is what we stand for. And with that we become a party of well-defined principles again. We will still have a capitalist solution, but one regulated to prevent monopolies, abuses, and excessive profit taking.  It will take some of the proceeds and invest them in tomorrow.  Instead of looking for corporations and CEO’s to define tomorrow, we the people will, and rewrite the rules to benefit all of us, not the wealthy few.

That is radical change.  And we already know the solutions that work, except for those who reside firmly in Fantasyland.  But that will fail too and Fantasyland looks bleak when your beliefs don’t get you anywhere.  That may be why electing Trump was probably the only way forward to see the failures of Fantasyland. And if some of  those solutions we progressives so believe in don’t work, we can change because we are wedded to science, data, and facts, not ideology. That is the key.

So the grand vision of our next Democratic Party, if they are to survive, is simple:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, the pursuit of Happiness, and a level playing field  — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, …**”  Hillary would buy into that in a minute, but not understand the fundamental changes in our economic system that has to take place because she is perceived as too wedded to the old power structures.  Then again maybe she would, but the time is past for Hillary and this is what the New Democrats have to bring to the table.

*One of the things that helps innovation and social mobility is a strong safety net.  Our European friends have shown us that with a strong safety net, people are more willing to take chances, create businesses, and innovate.  Too bad we can’t learn from them.

**Mustn’t forget that second part about “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”  Market places and competition do not secure a level playing field.  In fact they do their best as they accumulate power to do the opposite.  Government secures that level playing field.  Yes that big bad government is our salvation if we want real freedom and equality.

*** Racism wants to reserve a special place for themselves with special solutions.  That may be somewhat true when considering systemic racism in our institutions (policing), but if you believe that money is power, then leveling the playing field should also give them power. Leveling the playing filed is really an approach to all, racism, economic, social, or class.

 

 

I Can See Clearly Now

The only saving grace from the White House is their total incompetence.  The reason for the firing of James Comey is becoming crystal clear.  In spite of the memo claiming it was the outrageous treatment of Hillary, which nobody believes from this White House, White House minions were out with very different versions of Trump being unhappy with Comey for some time and had lost trust in him,  Of course that says what happened to the plot line that the new guy Rod Rosenstein who had been in office 12 days, writes a memo and the White House gets it, and then acts?  Well, nobody believes that one either. There are reports that when the White House started to lay blame on him, he threatened to resign.  We all know that was a fiction to get Sessions involved.  And it is clear Sessions’ involvement was a clear breach of his recusal.

Now the veil is slowly being lifted.  Apparently the Russia investigation was ramping up and Comey had asked for more money and resources.  Trump had been getting madder and madder about the ongoing investigation and that Comey would not follow orders to back off. He was mad that Comey had not supported his Obama had phone tapped me.  He was mad because Comey had confirmed an investigation into his campaign and administration.  And he was really mad because, as noted, Comey seemed to be ramping up the efforts.  And as now reported Comey thought Cheeto-head was mad in an insane way.  Oh, and did you see where yesterday after Cheeto-head’s meeting with the Russians (now there is a visual), he banned U.S. Reporters from the photo session/ meeting? And don’t forget Valdimir gave Cheeto-head a thumbs up for acting presidential.  That ought to count for something.

So there is no question about what is going on today.  The smoke was getting thicker and Trump ordered the hoses brought out.  No one listened.  And for an immature child, who has something very bad to hide, he went on a firing tantrum.  Republicans so far have failed to understand their duty to the country, with all of them hedging their comments, calling Sally Yates a political hack (although nothing in her testimony was political and backed up by multiple accounts) and saying the President had the right to fire Comey, which he did, but not noting that in an ongoing investigation of his administration, highly inappropriate and destructive  to our democracy and our confidence in it.  If it’s not clear at this juncture that we have a president who is out of control, has things to hide, and is a danger to a functioning democracy, then you must have voted for this dangerous moron in the first place, clear evidence of brain damage. And so far the Republicans are right there with him.

But I think the dam has broken.  There are so many lies and blame going on, that people are starting to push back.  I think what we have learned is that the political appointees cannot be trusted, Right now that is Acting Attorney General Rosenstein and acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe are suspect, Rosenstein with his part in given cover to the White House for firing Comey and McCabe for failing to answer a simple question put before him by the Senate Intelligence Committee this morning, did Comey tell Cheeto-head that he was not under investigation?  Oh, I get the privileged conversation, except the President already put it out there.  We ought to be able to know if it is true.  He did promise to report any political interference which kind of puts him on notice with career professionals.  I don’t trust him as far as I can throw him.  Wouldn’t you have given Comey a heads up call?

So between the Republicans and the political hacks, the real ones, nothing will happen.  But as I mentioned earlier, the dam is broken.  Career professionals will take their Constitution and country as more important than toddying to the Firing-in-Chief.  Expect to see more leaks and a real blow up if the Republicans and Cheeto-head try to slow walk this.  Finally, I will give Comey the same advice I gave to Obama.  Speak out.  These are not normal times and the very foundation of our democracy is at stake.

Look! He is Moderating!

That is the lead all week as Cheeto-Head flip-flopped on multiple issues.  Actually they weren’t flip-flopping as acceding to reality in foreign affairs.  But one has to ask why the obvious truths did not dawn on him sooner and is he just so ignorant that his view of reality is shaped by the ones nearest him.  And on North Korea, while he now understands a little more of the China-Korean relationship, does his twitter pugnacious brain simply further goad the situation into a show down?  And with two nut jobs, one ours, who can’t stand losing, and theirs, one who needs confrontation to survive, this could get very ugly.

Meanwhile what is happening in domestic land to show us how he is now presidential?  Well, it is not pretty:

  • President Trump signed legislation Thursday allowing states to withhold federal family planning dollars from clinics that provide abortion services, a move that could deprive Planned Parenthood and several other family groups of tens of millions in funding.”  (WaPo). Now note that federal money cannot be used for abortions and Planned Parenthood has been audited millions of times and have never used federal money for abortions, but well, screw women.  Planned Parenthood is like any other medical provider and bills the government for covered services and I don’t see how this is constitutional, but what do I know.  Also, while we seem to accept that federal money cannot be used for abortions (Hatch Amendment), why not?  Is it not a legal and in many cases a justified medical procedure? Again, what do I know?
  • With the stroke of a pen this week, Betsy DeVos, President Trump’s new education secretary, thrust the future of the government’s system for managing federal student loans into confusion.” (NYT).  President Obama had signed an order to combine the confused administration of student loans into one simplified system.  But that would hurt all those vendors who are trying to make a killing off kids going to college.  Progress is only for Progressives must be the motto.  As an aside, while I was having a basal cell carcinoma removed from my leg, I was discussing single payer with my dermatologist and she said she had mixed emotions because the government always makes things too complicated.  It is not the government, but politicians. Note that with advanced stage prostate cancer I no longer fear talking politics with those welding knives.
  • President Trump’s top environment official called for an “exit” from the historic Paris [climate] agreement Thursday, the first time such a high-ranking administration official has so explicitly disavowed the agreement endorsed by nearly 200 countries to fight climate change.” (WaPo). That is what we elected, science ignorance and they are carrying it out.
  • The Trump administration will not voluntarily disclose logs of visitors to the White House complex, it announced Friday, breaking with the practice started under former President Obama.”  (The Hill)  I wonder what they are afraid of?  Kind of like the tax thing.
  • In an interview with The Wall Street Journal this week, Mr. Trump threatened to withhold the subsidy payments [in Obamacare] as a way to induce the Democrats to bargain with him.” (NYT) Really.  He has a majority in both houses and he needs Democrats to wreck healthcare?  I know this has been beat to death, but the bad parts pay for the good parts.  There is no Republican fix and Democrats would be insane to help dismantle it.
  • “Donald Trump’s travel to his private club in Florida has cost over an estimated $20 million in his first 80 days as president, putting the president on pace in his first year of office to surpass former President Barack Obama’s spending on travel for his entire eight years.”  (CNN) Where is Michelle Bachmann when you need her.  Here is the tip of the iceberg on Republican hypocrisy as none of them see a problem and imagine what they would say (and did) if this was Obama.
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions went to the border in Arizona on Tuesday and declared it a hellscape, a “ground zero” of death and violence where Americans must “take our stand” against a tide of evil flooding up from Mexico.” [NYT]. The beginning of the border Gestapo and prosecutions of families just trying to stay together and make a living.  No mention of a rational change in our immigration laws that would allow a free flow of workers we badly need, or treating the cause of all that drug traffic, demand.  Just another mindless day at the beach (on the Rio Grande River).
  • One of the first things this administration did was to rescind a government proposal to ban a pesticide used on much of the fresh food we eat — a chemical compound, chlorpyrifos, found to be harmful to the brain and nervous system of children. This move didn’t get a lot of attention. But when you’re throwing out a half-dozen major lies and missteps a day, it’s tough to compete for airtime.” (Timothy Egan NYT).  Yeah, we don’t need no stink’in regulations if they get in the way of profits.  Who cares who dies if it increases profits?  Unless of course it is your child.  “With his proposal to gut the E.P.A., Trump would make it much more difficult for the Great Lakes to be great again. His budget would eliminate restoration projects in the iconic waterways of America, from Chesapeake Bay to Puget Sound. Plus, he would decrease grants to monitor unsafe tap water, creating future Flints.  He also wants to cut research into harmful chemicals — some linked to breast cancer and birth defects — found in things most Americans keep in their cupboards. The tobacco companies must sense a comeback in the offing… ‘We’re doing an amazing job on regulations,’ Trump said this week. ‘We’ve freed it up. We’ve freed up this country so much.’” Nope, we don’t need no stink’in regulations. Free at last, free at last.

So if you are not paying attention, and most of our pundits are not, swept up into group think, he is becoming presidential.  If you are paying attention, he is destroying the America we all love.  Stay tuned.  Maybe he will get us in a war with North Korea and millions will die.  Maybe that will wake up the clueless.

Fake News

A friend of mine saw the 60 Minutes segment on Fake news and was alarmed.  How can we keep this off of social media or determine that it is fake?  Note that many people read stuff because it is trending, and of course hackers get this so they write Bots to cruise the internet find this stuff and make it look like millions are reading it.  My initial response is that there is nothing you can really do about, except be a critical thinker.

I also took issue with the 60 Minutes both side do it approach.  Clearly during the election we were being bombarded with this stuff by the Russians and Americans to favor Cheeto-Head.  Noting now that there is a large amount of left-wing response garbage out there now is not the same.  The conservatives amplify this stuff through their media outlets (Fox) and President Cheeto-Head himself.  You think President Obama would be repeating this stuff without fact checking it?

And I guess that is the point.  Are we so brain-dead we do not fact check stuff?  Answer yes.  My friend had a suggestion that we could add ratings to this kind of news like false, lies, true, mostly true, etc. that would get rid of the fake stuff.  I pointed out to him that it would be a simple thing to write another Bot to brand real news fake and fake news real.  The answer is a critical mind.  What is the source?  How has it been substantiated?  Are there multiple reliable sources?  Do you even know what a reliable source is?  Free speech is with us and people can make the most outrageous claims, some we might want to believe, but we have to be careful.

That brings me to one of my favorite subjects, why are we so susceptible to these kinds of falsehoods.  You would think we evolved to be a critical thinking species to survive.  Now we seem to want to create and live in a fantasy world that suits our political philosophies and gut feeling, but could in fact undo us when reality invades that fantasy world.  The answer is that other thing we evolved with to help us become a community and deal with chaos, religion.

Religion, and I have made this argument many times, is a non-rational way of thinking.  In order to believe, especially if you really do test reality, is to suspend your disbelief.  There are so many contradictions in believing in an all-powerful all-knowing god that it just boggles the mind.  But most have been brought up on this non-logical thinking and we just believe it because we feel it.  Just like I know the crowd sizes at Cheeto-Head’s inauguration were larger than Obama’s.  I just feel it is true.

Well this morning in the NYT was an op-ed called The Evangelical Roots of Our Post-Truth Society by Molly Worthen.  It made my point about faith-based logic (I believe it therefore it is).  It comes from teaching our children to distrust information from the scientific or media elite because “these sources did not hold a biblical worldview.”

“It was presented as a cohesive worldview that you could maintain if you studied the Bible,” she told me. “Part of that was that climate change isn’t real, that evolution is a myth made up by scientists who hate God, and capitalism is God’s ideal for society.”

…That innocuous phrase — “biblical worldview” or “Christian worldview” — is everywhere in the evangelical world. The radio show founded by Chuck Colson, “BreakPoint,” helps listeners “get informed and equipped to live out the Christian worldview.” Focus on the Family devotes a webpage to the implications of a worldview “based on the infallible Word of God.” Betsy DeVos’s supporters praised her as a “committed Christian living out a biblical worldview.”

You can read her analysis, but the gist is that we have been taught not to be critical thinkers when it comes to what we want to believe and there is the foundation for fake news.  As Ms. Worthen tells us:

We all cling to our own unquestioned assumptions. But in the quest to advance knowledge and broker peaceful coexistence in a pluralistic world, the worldview based on biblical inerrancy gets tangled up in the contradiction between its claims on universalist science and insistence on an exclusive faith.

In other words, “tangled up” means runs into the brick wall of reality.  We have a whole segment of society that wants stability in a changing world.  They throw their faith up as a wall to believe they are protected.  So if you can suspend your disbelief on religious matters, where do you draw the line?  After a while it leaks into every phase of your thinking and your gut is the final arbitrator.  Fake news that feeds it is icing on the cake to this way of thinking.

The only real solution is to learn critical thinking.  To understand what we know and what we do not know.  This requires questioning what we think we know continuously.  See the conflict with faith-based thinking?  It also requires an understanding of science as a method for acquiring knowledge and rational reasoning and logic.  Because we are a religious society, we have our work cut out for us.

As an after thought just try to keep in mind that the philosophy of religion, is different from the supernatural beliefs.  The philosophy can “learn” (gays are not evil), the supernatural cannot.  In other words, religion needs to evolve with reality and we are not good at that.