Archive for Tea Party

Radical Right and the Seven Deadly Sins

Posted in agnoticism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, Hebrew scripture, random, religion, Social, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2011 by chouck017894

Pope Gregory 1 (540?-604), generally advertised as “the Great” and also called a “saint,” is credited with warning mankind of the seven deadly sins which threaten man’s “fallen” condition.  In truth he simply built upon the musings of a fourth century monk, Evagrius Ponticus, who had pondered over a list of what he considered to be eight “evil thoughts.”  Undoubtedly the studious monk and Pope Gregory 1 gleaned their insight on sin from the Old Testament book of Proverbs 6:16-19, which stated that the Lord was not pleased with”…a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devised wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaks lies, and he that sows discord among his brothers.  [Loosely interpreted from King James translation.]  The biblical list of negative indulgences is depressing: it is undeniable proof that career politicians have alway been around.

In Gregory’s revision of Evagrius Ponticus’ notes, he kind-of-sort-of dropped “sorrow” from the monk’s list of evil thoughts as being a condition of sinfulness.  (More on this a little later.)  The “sins” that Gregory mined into propagandist gold were:  1) lust, 2) gluttony, 3) greed, 4) sloth, 5) wrath, 6) envy, and 7) pride.  There is bittersweet irony encapsulated in this list, for throughout all the centuries of church history the church itself has wallowed in all of them (and still does).  It is interesting to compare the religious and political extremists’ conduct in the US today against this honored yardstick of sinful behavior.

Gregory 1 listed the first sin as being luxuria, Latin, which means “extravagance,” so he wasn’t really referring to excessive sexual thoughts or desires as the word “lust” is commonly used today.  “Lust” is an Old English interpretation of the Latin meaning. But either connotation can be easily applied to the extravagances of the religious and political extremists in the US today.  [Roman Catholic Catechism revised Gregory’s order of sins as: 1) pride, 2) avarice, 3) envy, 4) wrath, 5) lust, 6) gluttony, and 7) sloth.]

Second on Gregory’s list of sins was gula, from the Latin gluttier, which actually refers to the gulping down of food or drink.  This is the common indulgence associated with over-consumption or over-indulgence, i.e. gluttony, the consequence of which is the habit of waste.  Thomas Aquinas (1226?-1274), expanded upon this sinful aspect (one might even say he over-indulged himself in this) by listing six ways of committing gluttony.  By whichever standard we consider, it is easily applied to the typical conduct of the extreme right in religion and politics in the US today.

Third on Gregory’s list was avaritia, Latin, from avarus, meaning “greed.”  Like gluttony, the indulgence in greed/avarice is a sin of excess.  As commonly interpreted by the church, this is applied largely to the acquisition of worldly wealth.  The sin lies in the fact that temporal things are treasured more than the divine, and therefore is the turning away from god.  Now this is a particularly easy one to associate with the radicals, especially the political right.

Acedia, Latin, the fourth sin on Gregory’s list of sins (as Thomas Aquinas interpreted it), was not a reference to what is understood as sloth today.  Gregory had dropped “sorrow” from Evagrius Ponticus’ list of “evil thoughts,” but the inclusion of acedia by Aquinas may be better understood as the feelings of depression, apathy, melancholy, dejection, etc.  Such feelings, when allowed to dominate, were judged to induce spiritual indifference, which would result in failure to do “god’s work.”  Such an immobilizing state of emotion is not the same as laziness or an unwillingness to move around more than is required as “sloth” is used today.  So the old meaning of an unwillingness to love and care for the diverse works of god is what this listing as acedia meant originally.  And in that understanding it certainly applies to the religious and political radicals of today.

Number five on Gregory’s legendary list of sins was ira, meaning wrath, anger, rage, or ire.  Such emotional concentration has the tendency to blind one to aspects of truth, either in regard to others and circumstances, or with self and circumstances.  This can lead to acts of vengeance—such as obstinacy, slander, defamation, assault, physical abuse, murder, and even genocide.  Sort of makes one think of the common far-right characteristics.  Wrath—violent anger—is an emotion that is not always due to selfish reasons or self-interest, however, and such wrath for any reason commonly flames out explosively harming everything around it and within itself.  It is this self-destructive feature of internal harm which was deemed to be a major transgression, for it amounts to a rejection of god’s gift of life—the same reasoning that the Catholic Church deems suicide to be the ultimate transgression.

Gregory’s sixth named sin was invidia, Latin, from invidere meaning to look at with malice.  In other words, envy.  Envy is often entangled with greed, but its distinction is the emotional state of resentment toward another person who has something or has achieved something that makes the observant party feel slighted by dame fortune or god.  The emotion called envy is the wish to deprive others of their good fortune.  Ask the people of the states of Wisconsin and Michigan how this applies to the radical Republican/Tea Party takeover of their state governments.

Last on Gregory’s list of sins was superbia, Latin, translated as pride.  Roman Catholic Catechism placed pride at the number one spot, and there is logic to this.  Pride, hubris, vanity, conceit, narcissism—whatever it is called, is the blindly emotional indulgence of self-glory.  It has been characterized in the United States Congress by Republican and Tea Baggers constantly saying “no” to any compromise.  It is this rabid egomania out of which all other sins arise.  With love focused upon themselves (self-interest) the result is the failure to acknowledge the god-given goodness which is active within the diverse gifts of others.  This type of behavior was seen by Gregory and Aquinus as the person holding himself out of his proper position toward the Creator, hence sinful.

Whether the understanding of serious transgressions come from the book of Proverbs or Pope Gregory’s list of deadly sins, it is obvious that the extreme evangelical faction that in 1996 took over the Republican Party in the United States does not truly practice the advice upon which they claim to place their “faith.”

Chopping At The Roots Of Democracy

Posted in Atheist, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, Government, history, politics, random, religion, Social, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on January 24, 2011 by chouck017894

The Republican Party fell completely under the control of the Religious Right in 1996 (as noted in the blog Diseased Politics, January 2011).  With “biblical values” as their standard, there arose an increasing odor of corruption.  But there had been warnings for years from concerned Republicans that their party was in peril.

As early as 1981, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona had noted publicly, “…I can say with conviction that the religious issues of these groups have little or nothing to do with conservative or liberal politics.  The uncompromising position of these groups is a divisive element that could tear apart the very spirit of our representative system, if they gain sufficient strength.”  Thirteen years later, 1994, Goldwater warned, “If they (the Religious Right) succeed in establishing religion as  a basic Republican Party tenet, they could do us in.” (From an interview in the 1994 US News & World Report.)  Senator Goldwater was deeply troubled over the Religious Right’s persistent war on the US Constitution and feared for the basic freedoms of the American people.  And in a 1994 interview from the Washington Post, Goldwater mused, “When you say ‘radical right’ today, I think of those moneymaking ventures like Pat Robertson who are trying to take the Republican Party and make a religious organization out of it.  If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.”

Ominously, by 1995 Tom DeLay, who had become a born-again Christian in 1985 and was convinced that he had been “returned to Christ,” was installed as majority whip of the House, against the wishes of House Speaker Newt Gingrich.  DeLay therefore judged Gingrich (and the next Speaker, Dick Amery) as “uncommitted to Christian values.”  DeLay was so dogmatic in his version of Christian values party line Republicanism that he earned the nickname “The Hammer.”  He took the nickname to his bosom, declaring that the hammer was  one of a carpenter’s most valuable tools—a not so subtle inference of his connection to Jesus whose alleged occupation was carpenter.

And the 1995 challenger for the minority whip position, John Shadegg of Arizona, lamented, “We ceded our reform-minded principles in exchange for a…tighter grip on power.”  By 1999, when DeLay was the House Republican Whip, DeLay made Roy Blunt his chief deputy.  Blunt, a Baptist, is noted for voting in favor of mandatory school prayer, school vouchers, and allowing the undemocratic use of federal money (gathered from citizen taxes) to issue vouchers for private or religious schools.  With DeLay and Blunt in lockstep maneuvering, the religiously inspired GOP was stirred into a frenzy of wild spenders who chopped away at long-standing regulations, instigated tax cuts, and doled out lavish earmarks and appropriations.

In this same timeframe, DeLay initiated his so-called K Street Project, a not-so-righteous endeavor to get trade associations and lobbying firms to employ Republicans and to be more active in raising money for the party.  And Roy Blunt acted as DeLay’s envoy to the lobbying community—all in an effort to ram a religiously flavored Republican agenda through Congress.  All the web of wheeler-dealers helped push through the Republican legislative agenda, but those ties were destined to become entangled and knotted around the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal.  Abramoff, an orthodox Jew, had been a highly influential lobbyist and activist for the G. W. Bush administration, then Blunt’s name came up in connection with the Abramoff  investigation.  While Blunt was dutifully opposing a woman’s right to choose and opposing same-sex marriages, he saw nothing unspiritual in trying to insert language into a bill creating the Homeland Security Department which would aid the Philip Morris tobacco company!  He wanted to make it more difficult for cigarettes to be sold over the internet—that, he was convinced, was an obvious security threat.  It had nothing at all to do with the $202,909 that Philip Morris donated to his campaign.

But that deceitful web of pretended righteousness is still being spun over the workings of US government today, and with the sanctimonious Tea Party adding to the spin in Congress, democratic equal rights principles are not likely to be what is “valued.”  Somehow it reminds one of the line from the children’s story: Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly.

With this we will close with another quote from Republican Senator Barry Goldwater (died 1998): “Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on Earth.  And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies.”  He concluded on a thought on equality:  “Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to emancipation of creative differences.  Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity, and then to despotism.” 

Wake up  America!  Democratic principles are under attack from within.

Diseased Politics

Posted in Atheist, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, Government, history, life, politics, random, religion, Social, thoughts, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 5, 2011 by chouck017894

When religious extremists in the US finally wrested control of the Republican Party in 1996, the pulsating health of democracy began to decline.  As often happens, the early signs of contamination did not seem to be threatening.  The killer potential kept itself disguised long enough to establish a network of carriers, most of whom were unaware that they carried unstable spiritual impurities.  In 1997 (July 6), for example, “reverend” Jerry Falwell pontificated, “America is in imminent peril…rotting from within.”  He was correct in diagnosing the symptoms, but totally clueless that he and his political-minded faith merchants were the deadly contaminants.  And it was in 1997-98 that the religiously bedazzled Missouri Senator, John Ashcroft, tested the political waters for president of the United States, receiving most of his financial support from the religiously militant Pat Robertson and other evangelical extremists.

It was in 1998 that the fanatical religionists’ craving for temporal power received a stimulus injection in the form of a new private school to be known as Patrick Henry College.  It was the first school established primarily for evangelical Christian home-schooled children.  The event elicited considerable hoopla on every corporate-owned major network and cable news, as well as spreads in the New York Times, Time Magazine, The Economist, etc.  Michael Farris, a lawyer who was obsessed with “…the irreligious trend in America’s public schools,” founder of the college, stated, “We are not home-schooling our children just so they can read.”  He added, “…if we put enough kids in the system, some may get through the major league.”  In other words, get their narrow religious values injected into top posts of the US government.

A 1999 Pew Research Center poll reported that 44% of Americans expected Jesus Christ to return to Earth in their lifetime.  A Gallup poll that year disclosed that 47% of Americans believed that human beings had been created in their present form within the last ten thousand years!  Still another Gallup Poll revealed how senseless prejudices, generally fueled by religious misinformation, influenced voting choices of huge segments of American citizens.  Those who were taught to be distrusted for public office included blacks, Jews, Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, homosexuals and atheists even though they might be well qualified  for carrying out political duties.  In this same timeframe, Newsweek magazine had also conducted as poll, which revealed that around 40% of American Christians believed in Armageddon.  Nearly the same amount were convinced that the antichrist was already alive.

It was in the latter days of the twentieth century that the term “faith-based” became the euphemism to camouflage the aggressive purpose of the religious fanatics.  The euphemism became an extremely successful means of diversion of public attention from the proper relationship that legally existed between government and religion, having been put in place to assure genuine justice for all citizens.  And it was with this continuing burlesque of “holy purpose” that the twentieth century stumbled ignominiously to a close.

The new millennium was ushered in and planet Earth continued to trundle its course through the infinite heavens.  But the messiah had not yet appeared to the Jews, the savior had not yet arrived to redeem Christians, and the Muslims still waited for heavenly blessings from Allah.  The televangelists were still shamelessly offering spiritual exclusivity to anyone who would send money to their “ministry.”  In this period of time, around 40% of US citizens defined themselves as born-again Christians.  The United States of America, the land of freedom, was being sucked into the quicksand of religious duplicity and hypocrisy that had once decimated Europe some five hundred years before; a religious plague across most of that continent that resulted in the Dark Ages.  But the religious fanatics, ever the great pretenders of morality,  insisted that the land of freedom must look far backward for moral instruction and incorporate their prejudicial concepts into the mechanics of government.

So what did the land of freedom have thrust upon the people through the suspicious intrusion of the Supreme Court?  A born-again president and a hand-picked cabinet of religious extremists!  Here was a person installed as President who declared that his favorite “political philosopher” was Jesus Christ!  Apparently he meant the apocalyptic Jesus in Revelation, not the earlier gentle teacher who had taught “do unto others as you would have done unto you.”  The questionable manner of this nominee’s “winning” the national election was followed by years of questionable “biblical values” that allowed for giving public money to the wealthy, wage illegal wars, indulge in illegal detentions, torture of captives, opposition to process as being “unpatriotic,” and imposition of one of the most serious blockages on the constitutional checks and balances of power that skated dangerously close to dictatorial. 

The tentacles of religious propaganda that had for years been growing across the US was longing to devour its prey and regurgitate a government of “biblical values.”  With a convenient war in his pocket, the incumbent President spoke loudly of moral values (?) in a bid for a second term as he ignored the lies, deceptions, war mongering and deliberate criminality of his supporters—not exactly what Jesus is alleged to have taught.  Among his supporters, their religious morality and ethics was accentuated by many churches openly abusing the Charter Tax-exemptions during this campaign.  The badgering of unbelievers ran rampant, fueled by tax-free monies gathered by religious groups.  Even the Internal Revenue Service would later release a study of these abuses by churches, the major recipients of non-profit organization tax exclusion.  Ethics apparently was not too much of a concern to the IRS, for 99% of the known church violations were never pursued.  And so the self-serving religious deceptions are allowed to continue to this day. 

O how the majority of citizens yearned for a change, ached for a return to more democratic principles, craved the true compassion and tolerance that is the soul of those democratic principles.  And wonder of wonders, the younger voters and older voters who actually use their brains rose up to defend citizen rights, and Lo!  a black man was elected as President!  But that has only infuriated those piety-pretenders still more, and they have reassembled under the banner of Tea Party.  The disease in US politics is now pernicious and life-threatening for true democracy.

Throbbing Headaches After Tea Party Excesses

Posted in culture, Government, history, lifestyle, politics, random, Social, thoughts with tags , , , , , on December 30, 2010 by chouck017894

One of the great absurdities thrust into the recent 2010 elections across the US was the corporate-owned medias which persistently misinformed the public by referring to the Tea Party as a “populist” movement.  Real populists would never have climbed into bed with billion-dollar corporate powers as did the bumpkin crowd who indulged themselves in an orgy of self-destruct ideas rather than delve into real corruption tactics that had been allowed to bring the nation to the brink of economic collapse. 

Properly the word populist happens to be in U.S. political jargon today because agrarian and labor interests in the 1880-1890s timeframe had expanded to the point that it warranted the proclamation of a national political program.  Under the incentive of high living costs and low wages, the working people and farmers allied to become the Greenback-Labor Party, which by 1891 reorganized as the People’s Party whose members were known as populists, from the Latin populus, meaning “people.”

One of the Populists’ objectives was to lower transportation costs, which then directly and severely minimized any profits for agrarian and labor products.  Thus the People’s Party advocated the nationalization of the railroads rather than sanction the private ownership of them, which allowed owners to demand exorbitant charges.  (This provides an indication of the very real danger in right-wing attempts to privatize such things as Social Security today: it would not be to the benefit of the people.)  To  achieve a more equitable distribution of government costs in doing true fair-play control for all citizens the populists of that day sought the establishment of a graduated income tax.  (Certainly this is not an idea that appeals to the GOP today.)  And  it was the real populists who advocated the broadening of the electoral system to establish direct popular elections of U.S. Senators, which would thereby avoid the chance of the rich buying into government.  (This is not an idea that corporate shysters appreciate, nor, apparently the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice John G. Roberts either.*)  Another populist goal was establishment of the eight-hour workday.  No true nineteenth century populist would ever have endorsed the call to actually shrink the government or sanction the privatization of needed services and public welfare as ravenously pursued today by the Gluttonous Obstructionist Parasites (GOP).

In contrast, the elected Tea Party bumpkins now find themselves indebted to corporate bucks that seek to take over Medicare and Medicaid, kill Social Security, do away with regulatory reforms on Wall Street banks, eliminate a minimum wage, destroy labor unions, abolish pensions of public employees, eliminate education systems, and give Bush tax cuts to the wealthy, etc.  In short, the sordid one-night-stand that the Tea Party members indulged in with corporate interests occurred only because the corporate moguls wanted to enslave the tea party crowd for their own ends.  The corporate pimps are more turned on by the idea of installing the equivalent of the Dark Age feudal system in the US, a traitor’s paradise where only a few corporate bigwigs would possess any material advantages—but where social or technological wonders will cease to advance.

Sadly, the squalid affair of the Tea Party members with the corporation pimps has thrust some of the not-too-bright Tea Party crowd into the stew-pot called Congress where they will be obliged to perform whatever disreputable services are required by those who provided all the Tea Party favors.  All the alleged ideals and pretensions and clamoring of the Tea Party crowd will quickly wither into festering resentment in the syphilitic atmosphere of corporate insatiableness.  Sort of reminds one of a Mark Twain observation:  To paraphrase slightly, “Reader, suppose you were an idiot.  And suppose you were a (Tea Party) member of Congress.  But I repeat myself.”

*For Supreme Court attack upon citizens’ rights see: U. S. Supreme Court Set Trap for Democracy, Dec. 1.