citizens united decision

Why We Must Try

Instead of “Yes we can,” many Democrats have adopted a new slogan this election year: “We shouldn’t even try.”

We shouldn’t try for single-payer system, they say. We’ll be lucky if we prevent Republicans from repealing Obamacare.

We shouldn’t try for a $15 an hour minimum wage. The best we can do is $12 an hour.

We shouldn’t try to restore the Glass-Steagall Act that used to separate investment and commercial banking, or bust up the biggest banks. We’ll be lucky to stop Republicans from repealing Dodd-Frank.

We shouldn’t try for free public higher education. As it is, Republicans are out to cut all federal education spending.

We shouldn’t try to tax carbon or speculative trades on Wall Street, or raise taxes on the wealthy. We’ll be fortunate to just maintain the taxes already in place.

Most of all, we shouldn’t even try to get big money out of politics. We’ll be lucky to round up enough wealthy people to back Democratic candidates.  

“We-shouldn’t-even-try” Democrats think it’s foolish to aim for fundamental change – pie-in-the-sky, impractical, silly, naïve, quixotic. Not in the cards. No way we can.

I understand their defeatism. After eight years of Republican intransigence and six years of congressional gridlock, many Democrats are desperate just to hold on to what we have.

And ever since the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision opened the political floodgates to big corporations, Wall Street, and right-wing billionaires, many Democrats have concluded that bold ideas are unachievable.

In addition, some establishment Democrats – Washington lobbyists, editorial writers, inside-the-beltway operatives, party leaders, and big contributors – have grown comfortable with the way things are. They’d rather not rock the boat they’re safely in.

I get it, but here’s the problem. There’s no way to reform the system without rocking the boat. There’s no way to get to where America should be without aiming high.

Progressive change has never happened without bold ideas championed by bold idealists.

Some thought it was quixotic to try for civil rights and voting rights. Some viewed it as naïve to think we could end the Vietnam War. Some said it was unrealistic to push for the Environmental Protection Act.

But time and again we’ve learned that important public goals can be achieved – if the public is mobilized behind them. And time and again such mobilization has depended on the energies and enthusiasm of young people combined with the determination and tenacity of the rest. 

If we don’t aim high we have no chance of hitting the target, and no hope of mobilizing that enthusiasm and determination. 

The situation we’re in now demands such mobilization. Wealth and income are more concentrated at the top than in over a century. And that wealth has translated into political power.

The result is an economy rigged in favor of those at the top – which further compounds wealth and power at the top, in a vicious cycle that will only get worse unless reversed.

Americans pay more for pharmaceuticals than the citizens of any other advanced nation, for example. We also pay more for Internet service. And far more for health care.

We pay high prices for airline tickets even though fuel costs have tumbled. And high prices for food even though crop prices have declined.

That’s because giant companies have accumulated vast market power. Yet the nation’s antitrust laws are barely enforced.  

Meanwhile, the biggest Wall Street banks have more of the nation’s banking assets than they did in 2008, when they were judged too big to fail.

Hedge-fund partners get tax loopholes, oil companies get tax subsidies, and big agriculture gets paid off.

Bankruptcy laws protect the fortunes of billionaires like Donald Trump but not the homes of underwater homeowners or the savings of graduates burdened with student loans.

A low minimum wage enhances the profits of big-box retailers like Walmart, but requires the rest of us provide its employees and their families with food stamps and Medicaid in order to avoid poverty – an indirect subsidy of Walmart. 

Trade treaties protect the assets and intellectual property of big corporations but not the jobs and wages of ordinary workers.

At the same time, countervailing power is disappearing. Labor union membership has plummeted from a third of all private-sector workers in the 1950s to fewer than 7 percent today. Small banks have been absorbed into global financial behemoths. Small retailers don’t stand a chance against Walmart and Amazon.

And the pay of top corporate executives continues to skyrocket, even as most peoples’ real wages drop and their job security vanishes.

This system is not sustainable.

We must get big money out of our democracy, end crony capitalism, and make our economy and democracy work for the many, not just the few.

But change on this scale requires political mobilization.

It won’t be easy. It has never been easy. As before, it will require the energies and commitments of large numbers of Americans.

Which is why you shouldn’t listen to the “we-must-not-try” brigade. They’ve lost faith in the rest of us.

We must try.  We have no choice.

Josh Hutcherson Joins Nonpartisan Anti-Corruption Movement

Represent.Us coalition, created by both conservatives and progressives, now enlists the help of Hollywood.

While Americans were casting ballots for President Tuesday night, South Dakota voters were also weighing in on a proposal designed to clean up government statewide. The measure passed, and now Represent.Us is hoping the victory will spur some momentum to do the same across the country.

On Thursday, the grassroots organization released a video in which Hutcherson, Martin Sheen, Laura Dern and other stars encourage the public to get similar measures put on their states’ ballots.

Represent.Us is ultimately hoping for nationwide passage of the American Anti-Corruption Act, penned by Federal Elections Commission chair Trevor Potter in 2012. The act calls for stricter guidelines on lobbying, tougher ethics laws, and increased government transparency.

The act would also reform elections funding. Hutcherson has repeatedly called for the overturning of the 2010 Citizens United decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled the First Amendment protects corporate campaign donations.

(Image credits: Represent.Us)

And just to set the record straight about Trump's win...

As of this writing, Trump has actually lost the popular vote by a percentage point, about 200 thousand votes.

So to all those who imagine Trump’s victory as some kind of mandate, a sign that the American people are standing up to “corruption”, it clearly wasn’t. If you’re a Trump supporter, please, keep reading.

Trump won the electoral college by appealing to uneducated, old white men in suburbs and rural areas (exit polls show this was his strongest demographic). He lost almost every major city in the country, even in deeply red states. He didn’t even win the popular vote. Please, keep reading.

Trump said that he wanted to fight corruption and special interests, drain the swamp, as it were. That’s the message his voters believed in, clearly. And you know what? That’s a platform I agree with too. So to really combat corruption and fix the broken system, to really follow through on that promise, Trump must:

1. Fight against gerrymandering, which works directly against the public to benefit the dominant political parties.

2. Eliminate corruption within his own party by investigating wrongdoers like Christie just as thoroughly as he wants to investigate Clinton.

3. Restructure the Supreme Court so that justices no longer serve for life and/or get elected rather than appointed.

4. Eliminate first past the post voting, which inevitably creates a stagnant 2 party system that does not adequately represent the will of the people.

5. Create national voting laws that protect the rights of all citizens and encourages as many people as possible to participate in the political system.

6. Work to overturn the Citizens United decision that disproportionately benefits corporations and super pacs and floods the system with potentially corrupting money.

With a Supreme Court seat, the House and the Senate, and the presidency, these points are within reach. Until President Trump does all of these things, I will continue to say about him what I’ve been saying since the beginning: he’s not a populist, he’s an ignorant opportunist. He’s a con man, and if you voted for him, you just got taken advantage of.

Please, alt-righters and conservatives, prove me wrong. Show me that I was silly to worry. Use this unique chance to demonstrate that Trump really does stand for we the people.

You’ve got four years. Impress me. Otherwise, sorry, but your whole make America great again movement was nothing but bullshit.

Bernie Sanders: A Man On Fire

EXETER, N.H. — There was a man with a “Stop Puppy Mills” T-shirt and another whose shirt read “National Sarcasm Society.” There was a woman, dressed entirely in white, holding a banner reading “Lead Us to Clean Energy.” There was a man with an Apache haircut. There was even a little old lady in tennis shoes.

This could only be a Bernie Sanders rally.

And the lady in tennis shoes? She was here mainly out of curiosity. She voted for Mitt Romney in the last two New Hampshire primaries.

Then there was the candidate himself. He wore a dress shirt, open at the neck, and his speech started early and ended late. He used the word “billionaire” more than half a dozen times, and he sprinkled his talk with references to “Corporate America.” He spoke about big campaign contributions (he has none, wouldn’t take any) and the “grotesque level of income and wealth inequality in America” (he deplored it) and won his biggest applause when he said, “This is a rigged economy, an economy that is not sustainable, and that is not an American economy.”

But he wasn’t done yet. In the sweltering confines of the Exeter Town Hall — every seat filled, the back of the hall five deep with standees, the balcony jammed and every one of the seven granite steps outside occupied with the devout, the devoted and the determined, all drenched in heavy perspiration — he launched into his speech: full employment, the Citizens United decision, gay marriage, voter suppression, the Trans Pacific Partnership, student debt, climate change, acidification of the oceans, access to abortion, energy efficiency, the criminal justice system, prison reform, mental health and crumbling infrastructure. In one sentence he crammed in the words “racism,” “sexism” and “homophobia.”

But wait. We’re not nearly done yet. Elimination of tuition at all public colleges. Guaranteed single-payer health care. Assuring that police are no longer an “oppressor force.” Paid family leave. Paid vacations.

“This,” he said at one point, not remotely finished, “is some of what we have to do.”

CORPORATE PERSONHOOD PUT TO THE TEST

We all know about the Supreme Court’s infamous Citizens United decision in which our conservative, five-member unelected majority defined corporations as “fictional persons” to exempt them from campaign finance restrictions, leaving them free to spend as much money as they want controlling our elections.  People who believe in a functioning democracy can’t restrict corporate “persons” from buying elections because, strange as it seems, corporate money constitutes free speech.

But now there’s another case heading to the Court, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, which will really test how far this five-man majority wants to go in claiming corporations are “persons." 

The case involves Shell Oil’s conduct in the Ogoni region of Niger dating back to the 1990s.  Shell’s extractive operations there were so exploitive that environmental and human rights protesters soon launched a campaign against Shell.  Those protesters were tortured and murdered by the Nigerian government, allied more with Shell than its own citizens.  In the Kiobel case, a dozen Nigerians claim that Shell’s parent company aided and abetted the Nigerian government in its campaign of murder and torture.

The case got to the Supreme Court because the Alien Tort Statute, written by the Founders in 1789, allows foreign nationals to sue in American courts "for a tort only, committed in violation of the laws of nations." 

So now our five-man conservative ("anti-judicial activist”) majority faces some interesting problems.  For one, Scalia, Thomas et al say they are “originalists,” committed to interpreting the law as the Founders meant it.  Awkward.  The Founders wrote a law allowing this kind of case to proceed.

Even more vexing: will this Court really rule that corporations can buy elections because they are protected as “persons” under the law, but those same corporate “persons” cannot be held responsible for their criminal conduct?

Follow this case… Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum.

We have a corrupt campaign finance system. And what Secretary Clinton is saying and what every candidate who receives money from the fossil fuel industry or the drug companies or Wall Street say, ‘Not gonna impact me,’ the question the American people have to ask is, 'Why are these people putting millions of dollars into candidates if it’s not gonna make a difference?’ And that is why, by the way, one of my top priorities if elected President will be to overturn this outrageous Citizens United Supreme Court decision.
—  Bernie Sanders
Recently we Have Received A LOT of “Bernie Sanders is too idealistic/his ideas are unrealistic” Type Criticism. Here is Our Response.

As we have worked on our blog the amount of support has increased exponentially. Knowing so many people support Bernie Sanders is honestly a really amazing thing to see and we are glad to be here to experience it. That said, by virtue of doing the work we do there has been a certain amount of criticism thrown our way. Sometimes we decide it isn’t worth our time, the rumors messaged to us are unfounded, or something else compels us not to respond. Other times we are feel obligated to respond and this is one of those times.

For the last few days multiple people have tagged our page in the post above. Now let me start this whole thing by saying, I completely agree with the post. Bernie Sanders has been campaigning on free health care, free college education, and increased minimum wage, workers’ rights, tax reform, and taking on the billionaire class. As it stands now, most of that, specifically the first couple items, are probably unsustainable. Certain factions on both sides realize this, while other factions FROM BOTH MAJOR PARTIES, benefit from the status quo. Make no mistake, Bernie Sanders is not some fringe candidate promising people free stuff to get elected. He is a man with an ideology and seeking solutions for our country within that ideological frame work. He may be running as a Democrat, but his convictions are only loosely tied to a fringe of that party. Just as Ron Paul’s convictions were only loosely tied to the Republican party. Just like conservatives want to fix America by removing government, Bernie Sanders wants to fix it by reshaping it.

We have reached an impasse in American politics. Once again two groups with different ideologies are battling each other for what they feel is the best for America. The fact that we have $16 Trillion dollars in debt cannot be overstated. The fact that every administration since Ronald Reagan has carried out an incredible amount of deficit spending and that is a problem. The fact that health care and college are unaffordable is a problem. The fact that millionaires, billionaires, and multinational corporations are allowed to make record profits and let their workers suffer, that is a problem. Some people view the solution to these problems as cutting government out of the picture.

Making the reach of government smaller is a political solution as old as Thomas Jefferson who famously said, “the government that governs best is the one which governs the least”.  That sentiment remained a powerful force when Andrew Jackson heralded small government and beat the Hamiltonian, use the government for business, James Madison. Conservative ideals prevailed throughout the 19th century it helped foster economic growth and benefited the United States in a lot of ways. This conservatism popped up again in the 1920s and allowed Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover to propel America to a period of unprecedented economic growth. Then finally the latest strain of conservatism from Reagan to Bush, which I feel history will cast in a far more unfavorable light once there is some hind sight and more history. Not that Reagan and Bush didn’t accomplish SOME good things (emphasis on the SOME, really heavy emphasis). It’s just every time in American history this conservatism has led to a political push back, and for good reason.

Despite what many would have you think politics is incredibly complex and one single ideology will not always solve every problem. The aforementioned administrations definitely pushed America forward economically and otherwise, but they had counterparts which always fixed some problems they exacerbated. Teddy Roosevelt and the progressives counteracted the lack of workers’ rights and regulation which had plagued the United States since the Jacksonian era. Franklin Roosevelt tried to solve the problems the unchecked economic system created during the Hoover years. As a result he won land slide election after land slide election, whether you agree with the New Deal or not, it has impacted America immeasurably and has continued relevance to this day. Now it is time for a new push back. It is time to push back against the military and corporate interests which have run our economy dry over the last 3 decades. Make no mistake, every president since Ronald Reagan, and even before that, has contributed to the problems we face today. There are multiple solutions to those problems, but as it stands now Bernie Sanders seems like the only one removed enough from the dirty cogs of the political machine to actually make a change before things get any worse.

We appreciate the skepticism involved when a politician just offers voters services that they cannot possibly follow through on. The thing is, some of what Bernie Sanders offers may seem idealistic, but most of it makes sense. We are the wealthiest country in the wealthiest time in the history of humanity. Technological advances have compounded that wealth and it is ridiculous that we have let so much of that wealth fall in to the hands of so few. So many people in our country continue to go without and the Billionaire Class continues to laugh to the bank. If you feel conservative ideals are the best way to combat this growing trend of inequality and our unsustainable economic structure, we don’t blame you. Conservative ideology could certainly bring about that change with the right people.

Unfortunately I seriously doubt, Donald Trump, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, or Jeb Bush, or any other Republican, are going to provide that change. We need a government that helps the American people and works towards their best interests. In my mind, Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who will fix our unsustainable political and economic system. As the only candidate pushing for universal education, universal health care, and combating the interests of the Billionaire class by reforming tax laws and repealing the Citizens United decision, Bernie Sanders is the only president who will help get our countries priorities back in line with the needs and desires of the average American. Just because we are unable to provide these things right now, doesn’t mean things shouldn’t be changed in such a way that we can provide them.

Before you call his ideas unrealistic, take a long hard look at our current system and then try and objectively say it is right for major corporations to pay sometimes effectively no taxes while workers work 40+ hours a week for starvation wages. That has got to stop, and Bernie Sanders is the only one who will stop it. Bernie Sanders 2016!

With Citizens United and other decisions that enable the rich to contribute really unlimited amounts, that actually tilts the balance even more toward the ultra-rich…The unlimited giving to parties, to candidates, really pushes us more toward a plutocracy. They say it’s free speech, but somebody can speak 20 or 30 million times and my cleaning lady can’t speak at all.
—  Warren Buffet, via campaignmoney.tumblr.com
My first effort would be to rally the American people to demand that Congress pass a progressive agenda which reverses the decline of our middle class. We have got to create millions of decent-paying jobs rebuilding our infrastructure, we’ve got to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, we’ve got to overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision and we have to transform our energy system in order to protect us from climate change. If the American people are politically active and demand that Congress act on their behalf, we can accomplish those goals and much more.
Madam President, the American People Are Angry. Young people who are graduating high school and graduating college, they are going out into the world, they want to become independent, they want to work, and there are no jobs.

There are workers out there 50, 55 years old who intended to work the remainder of their working lives, suddenly they got a pink slip, their self-esteem is destroyed, they are never going to have another job again and now they are worried about their retirement security.

What the American people are angry about is they understand that they did not cause this recession. Teachers did not cause this recession. Firefighters and police officers who are being attacked daily by governors all over this country did not cause this recession. Construction workers did not cause this recession. This recession was caused by the greed, the recklessness and illegal behavior of the people on Wall Street. They, the taxpayers of this country, bail out Wall Street, and Wall Street recovers. Wall Street does well, but now we have kids in this country graduating college deeply in debt, can’t find a job. We have older workers losing their jobs and people are saying what is going on in America?

In the United States today we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income since the 1920’s. Now, you are not going to see what I am talking about on Fox, you are not going to see it on NBC or CBS, but it is important that we discuss this issue because it’s one of the most important issues facing America.

And as a result of this disastrous Citizens United decision which is now two years old, one of the worst decisions ever brought about by the Supreme Court of this country, a decision that they just reaffirmed a few days ago with regard to Montana, what the Supreme Court has said to the wealthiest people in this country, okay, you own almost all the wealth of this nation that’s great, now we are going to give you an opportunity to own the political life of this nation. And if you’re getting bored by just owning coal companies and casinos and manufacturing plants, you now have the opportunity to own the United States government.

And I think what the American people are saying is enough is enough. This country, this great country, belongs to all of us. It cannot continue to be controlled by a handful of billionaires who apparently want it all. You know, I, for the love of me, I cannot understand why people who have billions of dollars are compulsively driven for more and how many people have got to die because they don’t go to a doctor because you want to avoid paying your taxes?

Well, that’s not what America is about. That’s not what people fought and died to create. With that, we have got a fight on our hands. The job of the United States national is to represent the middle-class families of this country, all of the people, and not just the super-rich. I hope we can begin to do that
—  Bernie Sanders , 2012 

Since the day Roe V. Wade was decided, the pro life movement has attached themselves to the Republican Party, who promised to overturn Roe V Wade and make abortion illegal in the country.

The “best” years to over turn the Supreme Court decision were the Bush years. In 2005 and 2006 President Bush appointed pro life justices to the Supreme Court. The composition at the time was in favor of overturning Roe V. Wade as it still stands today.

The Republican Party has consistently told pro life conservatives that if they support the party, they will appoint the justices needed to overturn the law. Has it happened, well no, for one simple reason, elections.

The Republicans will consistently use this issue to get their social conservative base out and support them. In the past, the religious bloc of voters were relatively split or inactive. There were those who felt getting involved in politics was not their “thing.” They felt that they didn’t belong, and these are the people that the GOP went after.

They now have a purpose and Republican Party is using abortion to make sure that the religious middle class person votes against their own financial interest and supports the GOP.

The other “conservatives” that I spoke about voted favorably toward the Democratic Party based on the need for programs that fought against poverty and sickness, a core of ‘Christian values’. But those who once voted for these core issues turned have away and focused specifically on the abortion issue.

Now I don’t want to get into whether abortion is right or wrong, but the point is, it’s the law of the land. I am pointing to how the Republican Party has manipulated good folks, who care about people, to vote against their self interests and other people interests based on this one issue.

What has the United States received in exchange for electing pro life politicians who promise to get rid of Roe V. Wade? We have the highest income inequality in a generation, we have deregulated businesses to the point where the financial sector is running wild and loose, and of course we also have the Citizens United decision, which gave multinational corporations a right to “free speech” that can influence our elections with unlimited, unaccounted, secret money.

You see, this was the game plan all along. They used an innocent bloc of people, gave them a reason to support the Republican Party and now they have instituted an ideological group of neo-conservatives who are hell bent on destroying the infrastructure and soul of our country. They promised to erase the evil of abortions, but instead are spreading their evil intentions of eliminating Social Security through privatization, voucherizing Medicare, so our elderly have to purchase their own health insurance, while hoping they are covered, and in some cases eliminating public education.

There really is no other reason why the conservatives in power have not overturned Roe V Wade. Especially after many states have made it almost impossible to have an abortion, and hoping it becomes a lawsuit and rises up to the Supreme Court.

The ‘Christians’ that truly care about this country need to realize that they are pawns who are being used and abused for the monetary gain of a few, AKA the 1% and their trained monkeys, AKA the GOP.Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out you guys been pwned. 

Well the majority of you wanted the first candidate of the week to be Bernie Sanders, and we are here to please. 

Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Candidate for president in 2016. In 2006 he was elected to the senate after previously being the only congressperson from Vermont for 16 years. He is a self-described “Socialist Democrat”, a rarity in United States politics. 

On the issues:

Income/wealth inequality: This is Sander’s big issue. He wants to break up big banks, make college free (and probably less radically lower interest rates for student loans and make it harder or impossible for the government to make a profit out of our debt), increase the minimum wage, and raise taxes on the wealthy.

Pro-Choice: Yes.

Same Sex Marriage: Supports it.

Clime Change: Understands that climate change is real and wants to be a leader in preventing or slowing down the effects of it. 

Money in Politics: Wants Citizens United (a SCOTUS decision) to be repealed. Believes in Campaign Finance Reform. 

These are just some of his stances on political issues, as the primaries and debates begin we should have a clearer view on his stances on issues such as gun control and others. This is just a highlight. 

Let’s be frank.

The Republicans stand a real chance of taking over the U.S. Senate and controlling the entire Congress.

This would be a disaster for our country. In the next (several) days, we have got to do everything we can to prevent that from happening. It won’t be easy, but we can do it. How?

We can also remind people of where we were as a country six years ago. Remember when George W. Bush was leaving office? We were losing over 700,000 jobs a month; the American financial system was on the verge of collapse; we were running up a record-breaking $1.4 trillion dollar deficit and we had combat troops engaged in two Middle East wars.

Yes, we should be proud that we have made some progress over the last six years, but we should be honest enough to admit that we have not accomplished anywhere near what we should be doing.

Millions of Americans continue to work longer hours for lower wages. Youth unemployment stands at close to 20%. Some 40 million Americans still lack health insurance. Millions of young people are struggling with horrendously high student debt and many of our seniors are unable to live with dignity on the inadequate Social Security checks they receive.

But winning elections is not enough. On the day after the election we must begin the effort to pass a progressive agenda which speaks to the needs of the vast majority of our people.

We need a major federal jobs program rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure; we need a minimum wage which is a living wage; we need pay equity for women workers; we need to end unfettered free trade policies and demand that corporate America invests in the United States, not in China.

We need to join the rest of the industrialized world with a national health care program guaranteeing health care for all, and we need to substantially reduce the burden of college debt while we work to make college affordable for all.

We need to lead the world in reversing climate change and moving our energy system away from fossil fuels.

Perhaps, most importantly, we need to overturn the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision so that billionaires like the Koch brothers will not be able to buy elections and convert our great country into an oligarchy.

But first things first! Let’s win on November 4th. Let’s maintain the Democratic majority.

—  Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont
huffingtonpost.com
The "Reason" Republicans Despise Unions, Government and Anything Public
Since religious conservatives choose to live in an imaginary "universe" they'd rather see the whole fabric of our civil society shredded rather than reconsider their most cherished beliefs.

If you accept just one given about today’s Republican Party then I can explain why they seem bent on dismantling the U.S. government, unions (in places like Wisconsin) and defunding everything from high speed rail and NPR to Planned Parenthood.

Here’s the “given”:

The most powerful block in the base of the Republican Party are religious conservatives – mostly Evangelicals.

So when you want to know why the Republicans are willing to destroy American jobs, the economy and the environment, all in the name of “small government” look no farther for “motivation” than the preoccupations of the Evangelicals that have been growing more and more irrational ever since the 1970s. Back then I was sidekick to my Evangelical leader father (Francis Schaeffer) and then became a “leader” in my own right in the antiabortion movement, until I changed my mind and got out.

And yes, much talked about “corporate interests” dominate the Republican Party agenda, but the question is– why do the foot soldiers who are most of the Republican voters go along with the billionaire’s agenda?

In my new book Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics–and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway (in stores May 7) I describe what happened to religion in America due to sexual politics, hypocritical double standards and finally… insanity. But here’s a thumbnail sketch for now:

What’s so curious is that in this religion-inflicted country of ours, the same Evangelicals, conservative Roman Catholics, and others who have been running around insisting that America had a “Christian foundation” and demanding a “return to our heritage” and/or more recently trashing health care reform as “communist” have ignored the fact that one great contribution of historic Christianity was a commitment to strong central government. For instance, as early as the fourth century, this included church support for state-funded, or state-church-funded, charities, including hospitals.

Government was seen as part of “God’s plan” for creating social justice and defending the common good. Christians were once culture-forming and culture-embracing people. Even the humanism preached by the supposedly “anti-Christian” Enlightenment thinkers of the eighteenth century was, in fact, a Deist/Christian “heresy,” with a value system espousing human dignity borrowed wholesale from a once religious/biblical ethical system.

In the scorched-earth era of the “health care reform debates” of 2009 and beyond, Evangelicals seemed to believe that Jesus commanded that all hospitals (and everything else) should be run by corporations for profit, just because corporations weren’t the evil government.

The Right even decided that it was “normal” for the state to hand over its age-old public and patriotic duties to private companies – even for military operations (“contractors”), prisons, health care, public transport, and all the rest.

The Religious Right/Far Right et al. favored private “facts,” too. They claimed that global warming wasn’t real. They asserted this because scientists (those same agents of Satan who insisted that evolution was real) were the ones who said human actions were changing the climate. Worse, the government said so, too!

“Global warming is a left-wing plot to take away our freedom!”

“Amtrak must make a profit!”

Even the word “infrastructure” lost its respectability when government had a hand in maintaining roads, bridges, and trains.

In denial of the West’s civic-minded, government-supporting heritage, Evangelicals (and the rest of the Right) wound up defending private oil companies but not God’s creation, private cars instead of public transport, private insurance conglomerates rather than government care of individuals.

The price for the Religious Right’s wholesale idolatry of private everything is that in today’s America Christ’s reputation is now tied to a cynical political party “owned” by billionaires.

It only remained for a Far Right Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court to rule in 2010 that unlimited corporate money could pour into political campaigns – anonymously – in a way that clearly favored corporate America and the superwealthy, who were now the only entities served by the Republican Party. So on January 21, 2010, a decades-old system of rules that governed the financing of the nation’s elections was overturned in the Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission. The Supreme Court decision on corporate spending in political races thereby allowed the big corporations to call the shots on these elections (anonymously!).

To the old-fashioned conservative mantra “Big government doesn’t work,” the radicalized Evangelicals (and their Roman Catholic co-belligerents) have added “The U.S. government is evil!”

And the very same community – Protestant American Evangelicals – who once were the bedrock supporters of public education, and voted for such moderate and reasonable union-friendly leaders such as President Dwight Eisenhower, became the enemies of not only the public schools but also of anything in the (nonmilitary) public sphere “run by the government.”

As they opened new institutions (proudly outside the mainstream), the Evangelicals doing this “reclaiming” cast themselves in the role of persecuted exiles. (As I describe in my new book Sex, Mom and God I was part of this uprising in the 1970s and 80s).

What they never admitted was that they – we – were self-banished from mainstream institutions, not only because the Evangelicals’ political views on social issues conflicted with most people’s views, but also because Evangelicals (and other conservative religionists) found themselves holding the short end of the intellectual stick.

Science marched forth, demolishing fundamentalist “facts” with dispassionate argument. So science also became an enemy. Rather than rethink their beliefs, conservative religionists decided to renounce secular higher education and denounce it as “elitist.”

Thus, to be uninformed, even willfully and proudly ignorant (Palin), came to be considered a Godly virtue. And since misery loves company, the Evangelicals’ quest, for instance when Evangelicals dominated the Texas textbook committees, was to strive to “balance” the teaching of evolution with creationism and damn the facts.

In the minds of Evangelicals, they were recreating the Puritan’s self-exile from England by looking for a purer and better place, this time not a geographical “place” but a sanctuary within their minds (and in inward-looking schools and churches) undisturbed by facts.

Like the Puritans, the post-1970s Evangelicals (and many other conservative Christians) withdrew from the mainstream (homeschool movement etc.,) not because they were forced to but because the society around them was, in their view, fatally sinful and, worse, addicted to facts rather than to faith.

And yet having “dropped out” (to use a 1960s phrase), the Evangelicals nevertheless kept on demanding that regarding “moral” and “family” matters the society they’d renounced nonetheless had to conform to their beliefs.

The Evangelical foot soldiers never realized that the logic of their “stand” against government – often motivated by so-called pro-life issues – has played into the hands of people who never cared about human lives beyond the fact that people could be sold products. By the twenty first century, Ma and Pa No-Name were still out in the rain holding an “Abortion is Murder!” sign in Peoria and/or standing in line all night in some godforsaken mall in Kansas City to buy a book by Sarah Palin and have it signed. But it was the denizens of the corner offices at Goldman Sachs, the News Corporation, Koch Industries, Exxon, and Halliburton who were laughing.

…And that is “why” the Republicans are lashing out at unions, government, and at anything “collective” in fact at anything that diminishes the fact-free go-it-alone “ethos” of todays embittered  Evangelicals. Their real war is with modernity, facts, science and progress.  But since religious conservatives choose to live in an imaginary and magical “universe” and can’t turn back the clock to a time when everyone else did to – say the thirteenth century – they’d rather see the whole fabric of our civil society shredded rather than reconsider their most cherished beliefs.

Frank Schaeffer is a writer. His new book is Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics–and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway

Citizens United created this horrible situation.

“Just 158 families, along with companies they own or control, contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, according to a New York Times investigation. Not since before Watergate have so few people and businesses provided so much early money in a campaign, most of it through channels legalized by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision five years ago.”

huffingtonpost.com
Jimmy Carter Is Correct that the U.S. Is No Longer a Democracy

On July 28th, Thom Hartmann interviewed former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and, at the very end of his show (as if this massive question were merely an after thought), asked him his opinion of the 2010 Citizens United decision and the 2014 McCutcheon decision, both decisions by the five Republican judges on the U.S. Supreme Court. These two historic decisions enable unlimited secret money (including foreign money) now to pour into U.S. political and judicial campaigns. Carter answered:

“It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members. So, now we’ve just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over. … At the present time the incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody that is already in Congress has a great deal more to sell.”

(excerpt - click the link for the complete article)

Carter’s old. He doesn’t need money and he was president so they can’t touch him. He has nothing to lose. He can speak the truth without fear.

anonymous asked:

I can see why some fans would think Louis is upset with the gay rumors because of the whole "bullshit" tweet and such. But as far as I know Harry has never really said or done anything that indicate that he doesn't like people thinking he's gay. It's pretty obvious that he supports equal rights and he doesn't really seem bothered with what people say. I think that's why some people think Harry is much more comfortable in his sexuality than Louis is.

See, that’s the thing for me … I’ve come to interpret the bullshit tweet much different than pretty much everyone else. To me, Larry Stylinson, as defined by this fandom, really is one of the most epic loads of bullshit I have ever encountered!

It started off as a cute little portmanteau that somehow became it’s own living, breathing entity. It’s the fandom’s version of the SCOTUS “CItizens United” decision - ships are people too! Every day I see people talk about Larry as if Larry is an actual person, someone being terribly afflicted by the evils of Louis’ actions and Harry’s indifference. I read statement asking “How can they do this to Larry?” and why aren’t the boys “sticking up for Larry?” and on, and on.

Larry Stylinson is NOT real. Harry and Louis are real. And they do not live in a happy world of rainbows and unicorns where all love is equal. They live in a rather nasty corporate world where they are a commodity to be bought and sold, and brand to be imaged and an image to be enforced under the harsh penalty of law. Theirs is not an easy job at the best of times, made worse by abusive fans with no sense of boundaries or personal space. And then we dehumanize them further by boiling down their relationship to a cute name, stripping away their own involvement, and giving the ship name all of the power and respect. Fans have, in essence, set Harry and Louis against their own relationship.

I believe they are both very comfortable with their sexuality. I believe they were less comfortable with the political and business facets of their relationship, but have learned to adapt to the reality of their situation. And I believe they recognise and appreciate the support they have in the fandom, as people. But personally, if someone tried to dehumanize Jerry and I, to strip our personalities from our relationship and judge us because we did not act in the manner that some stranger on the internet felt we should be acting, you bet your bottom dollar that I would lash out with hell’s own fury!