Nel's New Day

March 29, 2020

The Ugliness of COVID-19

So much news pours in about the novel coronavirus that I’m providing only short summaries of news articles with sources for more detailed information. Considering the approach of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to the health crisis, deciding between “the bad” and “the ugly” is difficult. One ugly today is that DDT’s has his 13th White House briefing today after a hiatus yesterday when he spoke on the hospital ship USS Comfort. Tomorrow is supposedly the end of his “15 days of quarantine”–and maybe his daily campaign rallies.

The Good:

The FDA approved emergency use of a new coronavirus test that delivers positive results in 5 minutes and negative results in 13 minutes. It should be ready next week. About the size of a toaster, the portable unit can supposedly be set up anywhere from a physician’s office to an urgent care clinic.

A council representing more than 800,000 doctors wrote DDT to reverse his demand that businesses reopen on Easter because it jeopardizes health and puts hospitals into worse chaos in the fight against coronavirus.

Twitter temporarily suspended the account of Rudy Giuliani after DDT’s personal lawyer tweeted misinformation about coronavirus.

The Bad:

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. expert on infectious disease, told the nation to be prepared because COVID-19 may come back in “cycles.” He warned that COVID-19 could infect millions of people in the U.S. with over 100,000 deaths. Doctors say the disease is much worse the second time around.

Where did the spring-breakers in Florida go after the beaches closed? This map shows their locations—and areas of new COVID-19 infections. 

The G-7 won’t sign a joint statement because DDT insists on referring to COVID-19 as the “Wuhan virus” in official documents

Weeks after downplaying the virus and saying he was still “shaking hands with everyone,” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tested positive for the virus.

Almost 300 people died and over 1,000 sickened from swallowing methanol in Iran as one of the fake remedies spread through social media in the country. 

The Kennedy Center received $25 million from the stimulus bill, but the Center’s president, Deborah Rutter, told 96 musicians that their last paycheck would be this week. They will no longer have healthcare after the end of May if the center is still closed, and performances are suspended until May 10. The organization also has an endowment of almost $100 million, which could operate the Center for ten months in the worst scenario. Rutter said she was suspending her $1.2 million salary until after the crisis.

Media sources such as Newsweek are using outdated statistics for COVID-19 cases and deaths. This source is up to date for world statistics.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis banned a reporter from his briefings because she asked for social distancing at the gatherings.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) changed the stimulus bill so that big restaurant and hotel chains will get over half the money originally designated for truly small restaurants.  

Deborah Birx, a supposed expert on DDT’s coronavirus task force, praised his abilities:

“He’s so attentive to the scientific literature and the details and the data. I think his ability to analyze and integrate data that comes out of his long history in business has really been a real benefit…. He understands the importance of the granularity.”

She also downplayed the importance of ventilators. After his annoyance with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the real expert, DDT largely replaced him with Birx.    

The Ugly:

DDT has been calling evangelical leaders and telling them to forget coronavirus and pray for his reelection instead.

DDT is blackmailing governors who badly need supplies to fight the virus. He wants “them to be appreciative.” If not, he insults them and refuses supplies to them. Medical supply vendors told Michigan Gov. Gretchen Witmer that they were told not to send her supplies after she had contracts with them. Asked it this is true, DDT said that Witmer “is a new governor who has not been pleasant. We don’t like to see the complaints.” He continued:

“Pence] calls all the governors…. I say Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington, you’re wasting your time with him. Don’t call the woman in Michigan. If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call.”

At today’s press briefing, DDT told reporters that he didn’t tell Pence not to call some of the governors and accused hospitals of lying about how many masks they need for the pandemic. When NPR’s reporter Yamiche Alcindor asked DDT about telling Sean Hannity on the air that hospitals didn’t need the equipment that they needed, DDT told her to “be nice” and not be “threatening.” Pressed for an answer, DDT had a White House staffer take Alcindor’s microphone. [Left: Life-saving mask.]

In his tweets today, DDT bragged several times about his high TV ratings for the briefings.

DDT’s “America First” is gone. After blaming President Obama for the shortage of hospital supplies and equipment, DDT shortchanged U.S. medical facilities by sending 17.8 tons of badly needed medical assistance for people with COVID-19 to China in early February. The evidence of this “generous” action comes from a State Department press release.

Furious because CNN and MSNBC cut away for the last part of DDT’s ramblings at last Monday’s press briefing before going back to the Q&A session with reporters, DDT threw a tantrum. During that briefing, DDT again recommended the use of chloroquine that killed at least one person sickened four others. 

A study of 30 patients in China shows that hydroxychloroquine is no more effective than conventional care: 13 of 15 patients given the drug tested negative after a week while 14 of 15 patients without the drug tested negative. Standard treatment included bed rest, oxygen inhalation, anti-viral drugs such as lopinavir and ritonavir, and antibiotics when necessary. Of the patients given hydroxychloroquine, one progressed to severe disease and four developed diarrhea and possible liver damage compared to three with conventional treatment.

Conservative billionaire and co-founder of Home Depot Bernard Marcus is pushing hydroxchoroquine as a cure for the virus. A shortage of the drug nationwide has been caused by hoarding doctors. The FDA stated that fatal heart problems are the drug’s possible side effect. Marcus’ group has lobbied for deferral of taxes for both 2019 and 2020.

DHS added gun dealers, ranges, and manufacturers to its list of essential businesses after a gun group wrote DHS.

The mystery of missing ventilators has been solved. Jared Kushner has been in charge for over two weeks and kept canceling orders because ventilators are expensive. Hospitals are putting up to four people on a ventilator suitable for only one person. Kushner, who told DDT that the coronavirus isn’t serious, is in charge of the pandemic in the U.S. DDT failed to use the Defense Production Act to provide necessary supplies to healthcare workers because businesses objected. He keeps saying that states are lying about not having enough supplies. He even said that he’s already invoked the law, and FEMA director had to correct him.

Approving $4.5 trillion to bail out corporations, DDT fought paying $1 billion for 80,000 ventilators. At last Friday’s brief briefing, Jonathan Karl asked DDT about the availability of ventilators. DDT responded, “Don’t be a cutie pie!” and changed the subject, bragging about what a good job he’s doing with the health crisis.

The Catholic-based Peace Health St. Joseph Medical Center fired emergency physician Dr. Ming Lee because he said the hospital was too sluggish in fighting coronavirus. The hospital objected to Lin, who trained in New York and worked there during the 9/11 crisis, obtaining needed supplies for patients. As of Friday, Washington state had 3,723 reported cases of COVID-19 and 175 deaths. The first case in Lin’s county on March 10 grew to 92 cases and four deaths. 

DDT’s communications with billionaires were behind his hope to “have the country opened up” and “get people back to work” by Easter during a worsening pandemic. At today’s press conference, DDT said the peak, and explained that was the highest point of COVID-19 in the U.S., would be two weeks from today. That’s Easter. When Hong Kong tried DDT’s system of opening the country, the second wave of COVID-19 almost doubled the confirmed cases in a week, many of them from overseas.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she would have called off the deadly Mardi Gras celebrations a month ago if the federal government had announced the dangers of coronavirus.

Hobby Lobby, the company that helped the Supreme Court turn back women’s reproductive care a century, will keep stores open because God told the owner’s wife three words: “Guide, Guard and Groom.” (God will “groom” people to be better.) She said that everyone should pray.

The Ugliest:

This analysis shows how DDT ignored the danger of COVID-19 from the first recognized death in late December until March 16, making the progress of the disease far more rapid in the U.S. And another one.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg in coronavirus news.

On March 29, the limited testing in the U.S. revealed 142,178 cases, an additional 16,799 from the day before, and 2,484 deaths. The world has 722,196 confirmed cases and 33,976 deaths.

March 15, 2020

Covid-19: DDT Prays, Concentrates on Businesses While Cases Grow

Evangelical Christians are providing dangerous disinformation about the covid-19 epidemic. On Fox & Friends, Jerry Falwell Jr, head of Liberty University, accused DDT’s enemies, listing the media as among them, of wrongly giving information about the virus and its spread. He also blamed the disease on totalitarian regimes such as North Korea. (Falwell is also urging western Virginia counties to leave the state and join West Virginia, saving them from Democrats, in a movement called “Vaxit.” Even highly conservative Strom Thurmond used the word “traitorous” for telling a county to secede from a state.) When a parent questioned the wisdom of Falwell keeping the university open during the healthcare crisis, Falwell called him a “dummy.” Jonathan Shuttlesworth, the co-founder of Revival Today TV, called coronavirus prevention measures the work of the devil and said that only “sissies” and “pansies” use hand sanitizer or wash their hands to prevent the virus’ spread.

Having failed to block covid-19 in the U.S., Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has declared today as a day of prayer for all the people afflicted through his ignorance and his desire to minimize problems during his ploy for reelection this fall. Last week, he gave a tone-deaf speech that declared a travel ban from 26 European nations that didn’t have his businesses. By Saturday, he gave in to include the UK and Ireland where numbers of infections and deaths are growing faster than in the U.S.—at this time.

DDT, who has avoided press briefings like the plague, has had three of them in three days. Today’s comments bragged about the prime rate lowered to 0.0 percent, destroying people’s savings, in his attempt to save the stock market for his reelection campaign. He also commented about how his actions result in “more buying than at Christmas,” priding himself on the consumerism. He failed to point out that the buying is done for hoarding because of the extreme fear in the U.S. and that buying will shrink when people use the supplies that they are collecting. He left VP Mike Pence to make a few comments, such as the risk of contacting covid-19 is “extremely low,” and take questions.

DDT’s travel ban, which was corrected to exempt U.S. residents, created a panic among people in Europe with huge crowds by inadequate staffing to process them when they arrived in the U.S. before tonight’s deadline. One person tweeted:  

“Confirmed cases in Illinois more than doubled between Friday and Saturday. Inbound travelers are stuck at O’Hare for six-hour waits.”

Acting DHS director Chad Wolf tweeted that he’s working to “expedite the process” but “the health and safety of the American public is first & foremost.” People exposed to covid-19 in the airport will still be regarded as not infected until later.

Hospital leaders report that DDT’s rolling back some regulations in his “national emergency” declaration won’t help their serious shortage of supplies and risk to workers, especially with a prediction of 1.9 million ICU admissions within the next few months. The U.S. health system has approximately 100,000 ICU beds. This problem could be somewhat alleviated through rental of hotels or other arrangements, but that would require federal funding for hospitals to keep operating. DDT has refused, however, to meet with hospital leaders to discuss their issues while DDT meets with retail and financial CEOs.

Emergency medical providers also lacked guidance; CDC waited almost four weeks after the World Health Organization announced the outbreak in China and over two weeks after confirmation of the first known U.S. case to give the responders guidance. The 20,000 emergency medical service agencies in the U.S. vary greatly in oversight and assets; about one-third of them depend on volunteers. 

Public pressure finally pushed DDT into taking the covid-19 test after he wandered around shaking hands with many people and is known to spend hours with people who have tested positive. DDT said he took the test “because the press is going crazy.” After over two months, the White House has decided to take the temperature of people “in close contact” with DDT and VP Mike Pence.  

DDT attacks CDC, Fed Reserve, President Obama, Joe Biden, and others for the disaster that he created, but his obsession with personal ratings led him to brag that his handling of the health crisis has a “78% Approval Rating, the highest on record.” That number came from an RNC mailing to donors

On Saturday, he bragged about Friday’s stock market having the largest increase in history but didn’t mention that the day before had the biggest drop in 30 years. Friday also had the biggest one-day U.S. increase in new covid-19 cases—almost 500. Without widespread testing in the U.S., the figures show an increase of cases from 89 to 2,131 in only two weeks.

The CDC is woefully behind in tracking statistics about cases and deaths from covid-19 so many people turned to a website from Johns Hopkins University. Russia hackers now use the site to spread password-stealing malware by advertising a digital coronavirus infection kit, and Chinese hackers, known as Vicious Panda, trick people into sharing sensitive personal information with a fake document supposedly from the Mongolian Health Ministry.

Even my favorite website for statistics has indicated it suffered cyber attacks and has taken action to stop these malicious acts. As of early evening, it has indicated 3,752 cases and 68 deaths in the United States. Another, more specific, website was developed by 17-year-old Avi Schiffmann, a high school junior on Mercer Island. His site trails the one above by just a few numbers. He developed his site in late December when fewer than 1,000 cases of covid-19 existed. The website updates about every minute through “web scraping” from the websites that he has entered. To make the information more positive, he also includes the number of people who are recovering. The site has about 35 million viewers with only 60 percent from the U.S.   

Conservative voters claim that they want to elect someone who runs the government like a business. They got DDT. David Atkins wrote:

“At every step of the way, Trump and the conservative media have treated the coronavirus as a PR problem, a political problem, and a business problem. They have tried to downplay the severity of the disease, tell people to continue life like everything is normal, continue flying and going on cruise lines, and boost the markets however possible. Friday’s bizarre press conference was little more than an infomercial for some of the top health-related businesses in the Dow Jones average, with a parade of CEOs talking about their commitment to doing vague somethings about the pandemic right before the closing bell. It worked, at least for now: the Dow surged as a result of the upbeat corporate presentation. For weeks now the administration has slow-played testing under the theory that lower reported numbers would somehow look better and magically change the actual reality on the ground until the problem went away.

“Like so much of modern American business culture, the ethic here is short-sighted and self-serving at best, and cruel, callous, and malevolent at worst. Today’s fast-moving capital markets are explicitly designed to be reactive rather than proactive, and every incentive built into them is to push for growth at all costs. Problems are meant to be pushed to the side and out of sight so the good times can keep rolling at the top; inconvenient costs are externalized and socialized on the backs of workers, the impoverished, and the environment. In the best of times, this dynamic creates massive inequalities and injustices that the market doesn’t notice, because the victims most affected are insignificant to—and go unnoticed by—the invisible hand. In the worst of times, however, it utterly hobbles a society’s ability to respond to crises that require active management before they can be directly felt in the marketplace.”

For decades, Republicans have swept problems under the rug, including the trillions of dollars that George W. Bush’s war cost. At the same time, they push against solutions for the future such as a Green New Deal, universal healthcare or even a pandemic response office. The incompetence became worse with DDT’s insistence on hiring only ignorant loyalists, his refusal to learn, and his pathological lying.

An example of this lying is his false claim that Google has 1,700 engineers quickly working on a website to help people figure out if they need testing and give them information about where to get the test, the “stores” for testing “in virtually every location.” Part of his long spiel was an attack on the Affordable Care Act website. Google said it is NOT building a website, and another company of 400 people is in “early stages of development” of building a covid-19 website nothing like DDT’s description and only for the Bay Area.  

With good reason, 53 percent of U.S. voters worry that someone in their immediate family might catch covid-19, and 60 percent think the worst is yet to come in the U.S. Over 40 percent believe the virus will change their day-to-day lives. Only 30 percent of Republicans, however, plan to avoid gatherings.

May 12, 2019

Evangelical Christians, Radical Zionists Demonstrate Sociopathic Behavior

For almost a century, evangelical Christians believed that their religion should not be involved in politics. But their growing connection with the corporations fighting Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal came to a head when they found Ronald Reagan as a puppet for their takeover of the United States. The mission of fundamentalist Christians is the same as ISIS—to take rights from anyone who disagrees with them, if necessary by violence. The evangelical coalition with white supremacists means attacks on immigrants, sometimes any people of color. Evangelical speaker, author, and university professor, Tony Campolo, talked about how conservative Christianity was redefined in the mid-70s with “pro-life,” only for fetuses, and opposition to LGBTQ marriage. When “theology fell to the background,” evangelical Christianity moved to hatred and abuse, emblematic of sociopathy.

According to Tim Rymel, Psychology Today listed 16 characteristics of sociopathic behaviors: “untruthfulness and insincerity, superficial charm and good intelligence, lack of remorse or shame, poor judgment and failure to learn by experience, pathologic egocentricity and incapacity for love, unresponsiveness in general interpersonal relations, specific loss of insight, and general poverty in major affective reactions (in other words, appropriate emotional responses).”

Church leaders and followers display these sociopathic characteristics. Franklin Graham, evangelist Billy Graham’s son, stated that immigration was “not a Bible issue” in a callous attitude toward immigrants. Lev. 19:33-34 and Mark 12:30-31 show that caring for asylum seekers is indeed a “Bible issue.” Graham treats tragic casualties in war-torn countries where immigrants try to flee with the same heartless approach.

After the terrorist attack on a Florida gay nightclub killed over 50 people, Pastor Roger Jimenez of Sacramento’s Verity Baptist Church said:

“The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is—I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job!”

Kim Higginbotham, a minister’s wife and teacher with a master’s degree in special education, wrote a blog titled “Giving Your Child to the Devil”:

“Being a disciple of Jesus demands our relationship to him be greater than our relationship to our own family, even our own children.”

She quoted Matthew 10:37:

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

Her blog was a justification for rejecting her gay son; she posted these comment on his wedding day.

On this spring’s National Day of Prayer, the personal pastor of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), Paula White-Cain, called him a biblical prophet and declared she cast off White House demons on the same day that DDT released regulations allowing healthcare workers to deny anyone care because of personal opinions.

DDT is choosing high-level officials to put the United States under evangelical Christian control. Former AG Jeff Sessions seemed like a major danger to the nation’s First Amendment, but his proposals were minor compared to those of the new AG, Bill Barr, who believes that his duty is to enforce god’s laws. According to Barr, there is no place in the nation for the abomination of secularism. He wrote that the government must impose “a transcendent moral order with objective standards of right and wrong that flows from God’s eternal law,” an eternal law best dictated by the Vatican and taught in public schools at taxpayer’s expense. Those moral edicts do, however, permit DDT’s criminality and corruption.

As the epitome of religious fanaticism, Barr blames all problems—divorce, crime, sexually-transmitted diseases, etc.—on “the federal government’s non-stop attacks on traditional religious values.” Barr demands taxpayer-funded religious instruction in Catholicism throughout public schools and calls for legislation to promote Vatican edicts to “restrain sexual immorality,” meaning bans on homosexuality, extramarital sex, and “artificial” birth control. Equality for LGBTQ people is determental to Barr:

“[Equality] dissolves any form of moral consensus in society. There can be no consensus based on moral views in the country, only enforced neutrality.”

“Enforced neutrality” is defined by Barr as the guarantee of equal rights for all people in the United States by the U.S. Constitution. And he runs the Department of “Justice” so that he can control everyone.

In his new mandate, Pope Francis similarly ignores the needs of his people. His recent church law requires clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups to be reported to church authorities, some of whom are the abusers, but not to the police. It’s a system that’s failed for centuries. Only a few bishops and religious superiors, accountable only to the pope, have been sanctioned or removed for sex abuse or cover-up. Theodore McCarrick, an example of how the pope’s new law can be corrupted, rose to the top of Catholic hierarchy while the Vatican received credible allegations of sexual misconduct with adults against him. He was defrocked only after the discovery that he also sexually abused minors.

The young man who shot and killed one person and wounded two others in the Poway (CA) synagogue was an evangelical who wanted to glorify God. He was a member of Escondido Orthodox Presbyterian Church created to counter the mainstream Presbyterian denomination, and his father was an elder in the church. The young man’s manifesto delivered “a frighteningly clear articulation of Christian theology,” according to a pastor in another evangelical denomination sharing beliefs with the Escondido church who said that the shooter was following much of what he was told in his church.

Sociopathic behavior among religious people isn’t limited to evangelical Christians. Like many Christians, Zionism, the radical political arm of the Jewish religion, has gone overboard in victimization if they don’t get everything they want. All Palestinian support is anti-Semitic, according to Zionists who have pushed people into sending death threats to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) after DDT gave Palestinian and Syrian land to Israel and U.S. Jews swore their first allegiance to Israel instead of the U.S. Even Democrats damned Omar for talking about the “Benjamins” that support Israeli interests in U.S. lawmaking, but hardliner Israeli supporter do exactly that when they declare taking over other countries’ lands is their biblical right. Republicans’ attempt at a resolution against hate speech was restricted only to anti-Semitism.

A high level of sociopathic behavior exhibited  in the 2016 election only increased since then. Once upon a time, James Dobson said that “character does matter” when he referred to Bill Clinton. Regarding his strong support for DDT, Dobson said, “I’m not under any illusions that he is an outstanding moral example. It’s a cliché but true: We are electing a commander-in-chief, not a theologian-in-chief.”

One megachurch evangelical pastor, Dave Gass, decided to leave his church and dump his Christian faith because “the supernatural interactions between the deity of the Bible and mankind sounded like ancient mythology.” He added that his Christian belief didn’t help or save his marriage, “a sham and a constant source of pain for me.” In another tweet, he wrote that “church people are just sh*tty to each other.” He concluded:

“This massive cognitive dissonance—my beliefs not matching with reality—created a separation between my head and my heart. I was gas lighting myself to stay in the faith. Eventually I could not maintain the facade anymore, I started to have mental and emotional breaks. My internal stress started to show in physical symptoms. Being a pastor—a professional Christian—was killing me.”

Gass observed that people who strive to be in the evangelical leadership are the problem because they treat their church and religion as their “small kingdom for personal control and ego.” According to Gass, people who have nothing to do with Christianity have a better understanding on being good Christians.

October 14, 2018

Persecuting Evangelicals Play the Victim Card

Evangelical Christians are expressing their dismay with the “grotesque caricature” of their faith as they worship Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), a viciously cruel man who ridiculed the victim of sexual assault so that he could “win” and has a long history himself of sexual assaults, even during his three marriages. At a meeting on the campus of conservative Wheaton College, leader Doug Birdsall lamented that the term “evangelical” has negative associations, including its connection with racism and white supremacy. He would like to see the term used for “a person who believes in the authority of the Bible, salvation through Jesus’ work on the cross, personal conversion and the need for evangelism.” Instead, “evangelical” refers to a selfish, power-hungry political movement that takes the side of the devil to be victorious.

In 2008, John McCain described evangelicalism as “agents of intolerance,” and that image has only worsened in the past decade as 80 percent of self-identified evangelical voters support DDT. Thus the image has become the reality as this 80 percent overlook any of DDT’s sins for political expediency. Little has changed since Jerry Falwell’s time of the Moral Majority that was also devoted to political control; it’s just become far more obvious—a distressing position for evangelicals who want people to think that they are Christians, i.e., “like Christ.” Following the Bible, evangelicals concentrate not only on caring for the poor and oppressed but focusing on the Old Testament’s calculating self-centeredness and self-preservation despite evangelicals’ anti-Semitism.

While evangelicals fight their representation at the same time clinging to its manifestation, they falsely play the victim. In a recent survey, white evangelical Christians in the U.S. see themselves experiencing more discrimination that Jews, Muslims, atheists, Latinx, and blacks. No one is burning their churches, beating them up, and taking away their rights, but they claim victimization. Their churches and wealthy leaders aren’t taxed, they get federal funding for Christian schools and repairs of churches, and they control of politics, yet they claim to be victims. At the same time, unarmed black youth are killed, LGBTQ people are exempted from jobs and housing, women are denied reproductive rights, Muslims are physically persecuted, Latinx legally in the country are being deported—the list goes on and on.

Alan Nobel, professor at Oklahoma Baptist University, writes about privileged evangelicals using the Bible to support their persecution complex of victimization. From the beginning of Christianity, believers emulated themselves as persecuted, just like Jesus was, in their glorification of suffering caused by outsiders. The victimized evangelicals operate just as DDT does in bullying others. One young man was told how to behave if he caused a car accident. He should immediately yell at the other person to put them on the defensive. “Maybe the police will believe you,” the young man’s father told him. Republicans falsely attack everyone in their craving for control.

Those who present themselves as being wronged can never see that they are also committing wrongs. They also stop the ability to improve situations by becoming helpless victims. Evangelicals who believe themselves to be victims cannot accept that they strike out at others first; instead they believe only that their faith causes any hardships they face, expecting persecution whether it doesn’t exist.

Evangelicals also get assistance from their belief in an all-powerful God, typically blaming a population such as the LGBTQ community, for all disasters—9/11, hurricanes, etc. The latest blame-game came after Hurricane Michael’s devastation across five states from the Florida panhandle to Virginia. To blame this time, according to Christian “prophet” Mark Taylor, are the Democrats, who are so powerful that they created this destruction because Kavanaugh is now on the Supreme Court.

A semi-secret evangelical society, the Council for National Policy (CNP), are hoping that Kavanaugh will reduce their imaginary persecution by achieving their goal of a theocracy and protect the “religious liberties” that they think is under attack in schools. Members at the celebratory even included Justice Clarence Thomas’ wife, Ginni Thomas; recently retired U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley; former senator and former president of the Heritage Foundation, Jim DeMint; pollster and man who teaches Republicans to twist words to their benefit, Frank Luntz; and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), striver for House Speaker who allegedly did not report the sexual molestation of athletes at Ohio State University.

A new film, Trump Prophecy, is pumping up DDT’s religious image in an adaption of a book co-authored by Mark Taylor, who claimed that he received the message from God in 2011 that the presidency is divinely ordained. The movement, called Independent Network Charismatic (INC) Christianity, believes that anyone who condemns DDT and his election are Satan’s servants. Its leaders, called “apostles,” are popular independent religious entrepreneurs with close ties to such politicians as Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Perry. INC seeks “to bring heaven or God’s intended perfect society to Earth by placing ‘kingdom-minded people’ in powerful positions at the top of all sectors of society.” DDT has cited Norman Vincent Peale, who believes in pro-Christian nationalism (aka white supremacy) and the INC beliefs, as his “major religious influence.”

INC is patterned after the 19th-century New Thought movement that led to the prosperity gospel—religious faith leads to material wealth. The popularity of evangelical Christianity developed when immigrants caused Protestants to lose their control over schools and ability to teach religion in taxpayer public institutions. They tried to institute an amendment proposed during the Civil War to put evangelical Protestant language in the U.S. Constitution, including references to God and Jesus while declaring the Bible “the supreme rule for the conduct of nations.” Like Jeff Sessions, Justice William Strong wanted public acceptance of evangelical Christianity and warned that the Constitution must be made “explicitly Christian” to keep his religion from being “obliterated.”

Fortunately, Strong was opposed by the minister Washington Gladden, religious editor of the New York Independent. Although the publication was evangelical, it did not endorse government support of the religion and argued for “equal footing” instead of special protection. Gladden wrote that a religion that need government protection had no right to exist:

“If our Christianity is of such a flimsy texture that nothing but a constitutional amendment will save it, the sooner it is obliterated the better for the land.”

When Christian leaders began to understand that support for the amendment was a sign of weak faith, they refused to back the Christian amendment. They began to understand that demands for special treatment were averse to both U.S. and Christian values. The United States will be destroyed if a group with this belief does not oppose the evangelical control of the federal government.

Evangelicals may be of help to keep democracy: evangelical Christians who oppose DDT are on a cross-country bus tour to break the GOP control of Congress in the upcoming election. Believing that GOP legislators fail to advocate for Christian values, the “Vote Common Good” bus tour is headed for over 30 congressional districts in 14 Midwestern and Southern states with the hope that Democrats can unseat GOP incumbents. Minneapolis pastor Doug Pagitt said:

“What we’re doing is trying to give courage to people whose hearts are already opened, whose beliefs have already shifted, to say that they can vote and act according to their own beliefs.”

Participants compare the rallies to “revival” meetings with Christian authors, ministers, and activists. They preach voting for issues of concern to Christians such as immigration, health care poverty, and care for the environment. Vote Common Good website encourages people to vote “with religious, racial, and gender minorities” and against policies and politicians who “promise special privileges for any religion, including our own.” Arkansas pastor Robb Ryerse said that he thinks “people are more important than party.” The organization’s support for the Democratic Party is tied to this year’s goal—to shift congressional power away from the GOP as “a reaction to the policies, actions, and tone of the Trump administration and Congress in recent years.”

Nuns on the Bus is also holding rallies during the month of October. I wish both of these efforts luck in overturning the movement to ignore Christian teachings.

May 14, 2017

DDT: Religion, Mother’s Day

Evangelicals may not be as supportive of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) as in the past, but the far right Christian nationalists (aka white supremacists) are still clinging to him. Their heritage is creating an extensive private school system after Brown v. Board of Education (1954) ordered desegregation. Because of that, Jerry Falwell, Sr. developed his fame in founding and defending the “segregation academies.” When the federal government blocked tax-exempt status for private segregated schools in 1971, religious schools burgeoned throughout the South with the sole goal of preventing racial mixing. At the same time, the evangelicals fought to keep sex discrimination by opposing the ERA and then developed a strong political stance against legal abortion, sex education, and contraceptive access. Collaboration of corporations, that wanted a government that gave them money, and religion, that oppose civil and voting rights, made a strong voting bloc. The evangelicals ignored DDT’s sexual assaults and multiple divorces as long he used virulent racist rhetoric.

Another evangelical argument in support of DDT is their belief in the rapture. DDT believes in chaos, and evangelicals think that he is God’s weapon to bring the righteous closer to the event that will destroy the world and raise the believers to Heaven. They began to worship DDT when he pushed the conspiracy theory that President Obama was born in a foreign country and that he is secretly a Muslim. An international capitalist with investments in over 20 countries, DDT became a symbol for anti-globalism to conspiracy theorists. As a result, DDT is in the center of racist, anti-woman conspiracy theorists. He alone can make the United States into an all-white nation. Their solution is to burn down the country, and DDT is willing to carry out their plans.

As Valerie Tarico  points out, DDT supporters view him as a kind of god, with great similarity to the one in the Old Testament. He incessantly tries to prove his power to people, even rigging his microphone so that his voice sounds powerful. As an insatiable attention seeker, he displays the same characteristics that the bible demands that people grovel before him and prove their loyalty, just like DDT demanded of former FBI Director James Comey before he fired him. Like the Old Testament god, DDT is cruel and sadistic as well as racist and prejudiced. They both reject the handicapped and demean women. Revenge is also a strong characteristic of both DDT and the evangelical god, and the bible is as contradictory as DDT. Science in the bible is garbage, but both of them promise riches for following them. Biologist Richard Dawkins summed up Jehovah in a sentence: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” Yup, that’s DDT. Except for the fiction.

Evangelicals have used the bible to justify DDT’s actions such as extreme vetting. A panel at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) conference was titled: “If Heaven Has a Gate, a Wall, and Extreme Vetting, Why Can’t America?” In The Guardian, Arwa Mahdawi provided other suggestions for following the bible:

  • Marry your rib: Conservatives used the myth of Adam marrying Eve, made from Adam’s rib, to prevent marriage equality so they could take the story to its logical conclusion.
  • Pay taxes with magic fish: Peter did it after Jesus told him to catch a fish that would have money for taxes in its mouth. 
  • Offer up virgin daughters to be raped as in Sodom: Enough said.

Today Mother’s Day is celebrated in 40 countries around the world. Most people see the day as just another commercial enterprise and don’t realize that it began in the 1850s when a women formed clubs to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing milk contamination. During the Civil War commemorated the day to mourn their fallen soldiers. They also tended wounded soldiers and worked for peace. In 1870, Julia Ward Howe, composer of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” issued a widely read “Mother’s Day Proclamation” calling for women to take an active political role in promoting peace.  [More history here.]

Before speaking at great length about football during his graduation address at the evangelical Liberty University, founded by Jerry Falwell and now operated by his son, DDT spoke briefly about today’s celebration:

“And especially this weekend, let’s make sure we give a really extra special thanks to the moms. But in all of this excitement don’t forget that tomorrow is Mother’s Day, right? I had a great mother, she’s looking down, now but I had a great mother. I always loved Mother’s Day.”

The man of family values, representing the party of family values, didn’t see his wife, the mother of his son, or his son on Mother’s Day. DDT was busy golfing with his buddies at the Trump National Golf Course in Virginia, four states away from his wife and son, on his 21st golf excursion in 112 days since he was inaugurated. He did tweet:

 

“Wishing @FLOTUS Melania and all of the great mothers out there a wonderful day ahead with family and friends!”

He picked “friends” over family.

Melania Trump tweeted this photo of her and Barron, her son with DDT, with the message: Happy Mother’s Day!

April 16, 2017

Different Kinds of Facts?

 

If the major goal of a newspaper is to create controversy, the Register-Guard (Eugene, OR) seems to have succeeded with Anna Katharine Mansfield’s “Puzzling over Trump’s Truth,” reprinted from the Washington Post. It is the umpteenth attempt to explain to those who don’t support Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) why he’s actually telling the truth—emotional truth, according to Mansfield–and received several “questioning” letters to the editor in response.

Mansfield’s premise disagrees with the accusation that DDT is considered a liar by “much of our logic-based, Enlightment-indoctrinated society” because these people use evidence to determine truth. The professor of winemaking who got her certificate in Christian theology education from Sewanee-University of the South, a place that evidently has sent certificates online, talks about “truths” other than factual ones, which she calls “nonfactual truths.” She explains it as “an ability to understand that stories are true, even when the primary elements of the story are not historical fact.” Evidently that’s where taking DDT “seriously, not literally” emerges.

One of her examples of an “emotional truth” is the belief that DDT, not Hillary Clinton, won the popular vote last November. She continues with another “truth” that the mainstream media isn’t trustworthy because it doesn’t represent the conservative point of view. Going back to President Obama, she tries to explain that the belief that is a Muslim or communist explains how it’s believable that he could interfere with DDT even if there is no proof. Mansfield wrote:

“Tom Forman, chief executive of reality TV shows like ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,’ said in a recent NPR interview that Trump is a master at ‘being directionally correct.’ Trump knows, Forman said, how to amplify what viewers already know to be true, what they ‘know in their bones.’ That’s emotional truth, and factual truth can’t touch it.”

Mansfield claims that sometimes DDT should tell the truth when “logic is called for” but not in “minor issues” because our society needs “emotion-based truth.” It is highly unfortunate that the leader of the (hopefully) most powerful nation in the world can operate without evidence in any part of his commanding.

Personally, I’m terrified that the country is being led by a philosophy that evidence isn’t important because the “emotional truth” of these people carries the same weight as proof-based information and personal feelings based on nothing are equal to education.

A letter from John Blondigen perhaps better states my concern:

So, in the interests of balance, here are emotional truths that I hold dear:

  • I don’t believe the economic health of the fossil fuel industry is more important than the health of the world’s climate.

  • I don’t believe that in a country this wealthy, people should lack medical care because of an inability to pay. The purity of some congressman’s free market ideology is less important than anyone’s health.

  • I refuse to go back to a time when only heterosexual white men were first-class citizens. I remember those times, and they weren’t great.

  • I won’t lead the cheers for the use of deadly force to prove anyone’s toughness.

  • And I absolutely refuse to renounce fact for the sake of indulging anyone’s emotional truth.

Other comments to the article from the Washington Post:

This is an excuse for wishful thinking and rampant confirmation bias. There are dangers to such sloppy sentimental thinking.

“Emotional truth” as opposed to “factual truth” has, since the Enlightenment, been simply called ignorance.

Donald Trump’s lies don’t qualify as myth. They are, quite simply, lies. If an individual finds “emotional truth” in the statement that “white is black and black is white,” then I am probably more interested in getting him/her a scrip for Thorazine than granting him/her the succor that comes with validating a delusion.

If more citizens of our country sought both spiritual guidance and scientific knowledge, we would not be living with such a narrowly educated and cold-hearted leader in the White House.

[The article] boils down to, if it “feels right” I should believe it, regardless of any and all evidence to the contrary, and my opinion should be as valid as any other. If that is true, then Dr. Mansfield, I assume, believes we should give deference to flat Earthers, anti-vaxxers, moon landing conspiracy proponents, and any other believers of things she may be less sanguine about.

The error here is in the false equivalency. Emotional truth is individual. Logical truth is universal. To give equal credence to both would destroy society. My emotional truth is not the same as yours , thus there would be no structure. So, although I will defend to the death, the right of a Jesus person to his own personal truth, for the sake of our country, our society, and our planet, logical proof must prevail.

If tRump supporters hold everyone else in the world to certain moral standards of behavior, yet throw those standards away for their president, then we have no basis for communication. They are willing to accept ANY un-Christian act from him, and still consider him God’s chosen candidate. They ignore all of the lessons of the bible (which is SUPPOSED to be the basis of their faith).

Followers of DDT’s “emotional truth” are losing faith in their leader, shown in Tumblr’s “Trumpgrets” and Facebook’s “IregretvotingforTrump.” The Twitter feed “Trump Regrets” also retweeted those sorry DDT voters. Disappointments: not locking up Hillary Clinton, putting Jared Kushner in the White House, dismissing information about Russia, in general not following his (hot air) promises. They’re also amazed that the GOP health plan raises their premiums and DDT is deporting their family members instead of those “bad hombres.” Their “emotional truth” has now clashed with DDT’s beliefs—military dominance, intimidation, and accruing wealth. The question for their “emotional truth” is whether the economy implodes, resulting in another shift of “emotional truth.”

Some evangelical Christians may not accept DDT’s “emotional truth.” Ten percent left their church by mid-November, and 15 percent of all church-going people left their church because they think that DDT politics has become too divisive. The two groups were DDT supporters with pastors who didn’t and those who disagreed with DDT-supporting pastors. A review of data indicates that progressive and moderate evangelicals left their church after its takeover by the right-wing.

Now I’m just waiting for all those articles that explain to DDT supporters the “emotional truth” of the DDT opposition.

March 12, 2017

Fight Back against Fundamentalist Christian Control

Faith groups came out to protest Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) second attempt last week to ban Muslims from the United States. Throughout the first day of the order, a number of groups condemned DDT’s actions calling it an affront to religious freedom.

  • American Jewish World Service tweeted its solidarity with immigrants.
  • Auburn Seminary President Rev. Dr. Katharine R. Henderson decried “the false narrative that this country is at war with a religion” and the “dramatic spike in Islamophobia, including a rise in hate speech, vandalism, and fires at mosques across the nation.”
  • Amanda Tyler, the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, expressed concern “that this administration is using religious identity as a proxy for ‘security threat’ and a reason for exclusion.”
  • Stosh Cotler, the CEO of the social justice advocacy group Bend the Arc Jewish Action, stated that DDT “is targeting Muslims, immigrants and refugees purely out of spite and fear, but national security experts agree that his action today will not keep us safer.”
  • Catholic Relief Services issued a lengthy statement condemning the ban that explained refugees already undergo “significant vetting” and stated that “now is not the time for the world’s leader in refugee resettlement to back down.”
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reiterated its previous concern “about the temporal and spiritual welfare of all of God’s children across the earth, with special concern for those who are fleeing physical violence, war, and religious persecution.”
  • Church World Service unveiled a new grassroots campaign in support of refugees in tandem with the National Council of Churches.
  • The Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach reminded people “that we are a nation of immigrants and refugees and we are called to stand in solidarity with them.”
  • The Conference of Major Superiors of Men stated, “It is completely unjust to punish an entire country due to the suspicion of a potential crime by an individual. We should be asking about the root causes of violent acts, such as U.S. militarization of conflicts, and giving our attention to addressing those concrete situations.”
  • Rev. Allison Liles, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, wrote that it “asks that God look with compassion on the whole human family, taking away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts, breaking down the walls that separate us and instead unite us in bonds of love.”
  • Rabbi Jack Moline, president of the Interfaith Alliance, stated that the ban is “bigoted and un-American … fueled by anti-Muslim bigotry and motivated by a desire to score political points—not keep Americans safe.” Moline continued, “Now we look to the courts, Congress and the American people to restore what makes American great — our freedom and diversity.”
  • Other groups making statements in opposition to DDT’s restrictive order included Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, National Council of Churches, National Council of Jewish Women, the Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK, Pax Christi USA, Presbyterian Church (USA), The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, United Methodist Church, and PICO National Network which stated:

“This [ban] is less about keeping America safe and more likely a step toward the ethnic cleansing of America. Coupled with this nation’s track record of detention, deportation and mass incarceration, the travel ban is a path to reassert white supremacy and dominance in the U.S. It is evil, sinister and stands in stark contrast to a core tenet of faith which asserts that we are all children of God. Even with its revisions, President Trump’s ban on Muslim-majority countries continues a xenophobic false hierarchy of human value. It is not only anti-American, it is anti-Christian.”

White evangelicals, however, are pitying themselves. According to a survey, 57 percent of them believe that they face a great deal of discrimination in the United States while only 44 percent think that Muslims are confronted with the same level of discrimination in the nation. White evangelicals are the only major religious group to think that Christians suffer from heavy persecution.

An example of prejudice against Islamic comes from Oklahoma Rep. John Bennett, who refused to meet with his Muslim constituents on its annual Muslim Day at the Capitol unless they completed a questionnaire from the Islamophobic hate group called ACT for America. Three students from Tulsa’s Peace Academy, a private school, asked to speak to Bennett and were told to answer such questions as these:

“Sharia law says that it must rule over the kafirs, the non-Muslims. Do you agree with this?”

“The Koran, the sunna of Mohammed and Sharia Law of all schools say that the husband can beat his wife. Do you beat your wife?”

“Mohammed was a killer of pagans, Christians and Jews that did not agree with him. Do you agree with this example?”

In the United States, an average of almost 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner, equating to over 10 million women and men a year. Yet Bennett asks only Muslims if they “beat your wife.”

In his second Muslim ban, DDT demonstrated the same false belief in Islam violence as Bennett does. The executive order includes a provision requiring the Department of Homeland Security to collect and make public “information regarding the number and types of gender-based violence against women, including so-called ‘honor killings,’ in the United States by foreign nationals.” The United States has fewer than 30 so-called “honor killings” each year, but about 1,500 women are murdered from domestic violence in the same time. DDT’s budget eliminates the Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women grants of $480 that funded 25 programs last year to help victims of domestic violence. Both DDT and his white supremacist and chief strategist Steve Bannon have been seriously accused of domestic assault.

DDT’s provision follows his plan to use federal resource to increase racial panic when he also promised to create the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement office, or VOICE, during his speech to Congress last week. The program ignores the fact that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born people in the United States and that people in the United States are far far more likely to be killed by a right-wing extremist than a Muslim terrorist. Yet DDT’s federal counter-terrorism program will ignore all extremist groups not composed of Muslims, including violent white supremacists.

Facts have no value for DDT’s policies. As for the DHS report that “citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity,” a senior administration official said:

 “The president asked for an intelligence assessment. This is not the intelligence assessment the president asked for.”

The GOP has increasingly pushed religious freedom for the United States although almost everyone knows that the harder a person pushes for this “freedom,” the more that person means only fundamentalist Christianity. In an evangelical discussion last summer, one of them asked how the Baptists could defend Muslims when they kill and imprison Christians. Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore gave a sensible answer—that restrictions on Muslims could lead to restrictions on Christians. Moore said that people must freely choose their faith.

Pastor John Wofford answered:

“So what I am actually doing if I support and defend the rights of people to construct places of false worship, I am helping them go to hell. And I do not want to help people go to hell.”

That’s the direction of the United States if we don’t fight back.

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