Nel's New Day

February 18, 2018

GOP Tries to Erase Constitutional Church-State Separation

Christian counseling has taken a new meaning during the time of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Reports about his paying off $130,000 to a porn star after a sexual liaison with her led to James Bakker complimenting DDT for his “counseling” her and giving her money to get out of the pornography industry.

Now George Gregory, a 61-year-old Pennsylvania pastor, claims that he “was counseling a young man with a drug problem.” The man was found in the front seat of Gregory’s car, naked and tied up with nylon rope. Gregory claimed that the man propositioned him, but that he “did nothing.” A neighbor had called the police, and officers found Gregory in the back seat adjusting his clothing. He told officers that he and the man “were just playing” and that they “meet up from time to time to play with each other.” Gregory also claimed that he thought he was in a private place, and officials reminded him that he was on a public street. He said, “That conversation never happened.” The Pittsburgh pastor has been charged with lewdness and indecent exposure, and the other man confirmed that what they were doing was consensual.

In Texas, evangelical minister Gloria Copeland believes in Christian immunization:

Jesus himself is our flu shot. He redeemed us from the curse of the flu. We have a duck season, a deer season, but we don’t have a flu season and don’t receive it when someone threatens you with ‘everybody is getting the flu.’ We’ve already had our shot.”

Texas has already had 2,300 deaths from the flu, and the season—which Copeland claims doesn’t exist—isn’t over. Jesus didn’t save Copeland’s megachurch from a 2013 measles outbreak after the preaching that people don’t need vaccines because of Jesus’s protection. Both Gloria and her husband, Kenneth, Copeland were members of DDT’s evangelical advisory panel in 2016.

Evangelical belief is fast becoming the mode, as evidenced at the National Prayer Breakfast last week. DDT said that faith “is central to American life and liberty” although he rarely attends church. The percentage of atheists in the United States has almost doubled to 3.1 from 1.6 percent in 2007, and another 4.0 percent identify as agnostics.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), who delivered the keynote address at the event, was even farther off target than DDT. The legislator who was shot at a baseball practice last year gave a revisionist view of American history:

“This was a nation founded with a deep belief in God. Our founding fathers talked about it when they were preparing to draft the Constitution. In fact, Thomas Jefferson—who was the author of the Constitution—If you go to the Jefferson Memorial right now, go read this inscription from Thomas Jefferson: ‘God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?’

“You can’t separate church from state…. People would say, you know, when you’re voting on issues, how do you separate your faith from the way you vote? Faith is part of who you are.”

Time for a reality check:

Thomas Jefferson didn’t write the U.S. Constitution; he was in France at the time. James Madison, who supported separation of church and state, wrote the constitution. Jefferson did write the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson also strongly supported the separation of church and state. The term “wall of separation” between the two institutions come from Jefferson’s 1802 letter to the Danbury (CT) Baptist Association about the First Amendment: “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.” As president, Jefferson refused to issue proclamations for official days of prayer.

People’s votes may come from their personal beliefs, but not always religious. And government neutrality on religious issues allows people to seek their own paths without government interference.

Evangelical ascendance is leading the United States into a “post-truth era,” according to writer and reporter Kurt Andersen, and that seems to reduce the average IQ. Anderson, a linguistic expert on DDT’s speaking style, points out that only one-third of GOP candidates in 2012 agreed to the scientific theory of evolution. George W. Bush said that evolution shouldn’t be taught in schools unless it is accompanied by the religious belief of creationism. By 2016, only one candidate, George W.’s brother Jeb Bush, was the only one in a large field supporting the science of evolution. Anderson thinks that the Republican candidates, however, are forced to deny evolution to keep their voters as the GOP becomes increasingly extreme. When religious belief “bleeds over into how we manage and construct our economy and our society,” the United States suffers from lasting trouble.

One way that the DDT administration puts Christianity in charge of justice for all people is the religious liberty czar required for every U.S. attorney office. The DOJ has ordered each office to assign a person who monitors litigation for any suits involving “religious liberty” and notify supervisors. All offices must get the approval of the Associate Attorney General, formerly Rachel Brand, before that case can proceed. With Brand’s resignation, the replacement may be Noel Francisco, allied with the ultra-conservative Christian group, Alliance Defending Freedom. The new policy mandates:

“To the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, Department components and United States Attorneys’ Offices must reasonably accommodate religious observance and practice in all activities, including litigation.”

The policy adds that “the Office of the Associate Attorney General has supervisory responsibility for overseeing the Department’s respect for religious liberty in litigation.”

A new DDT division of the Office of Civil Rights, the Conscience and Religious Freedom Division (CRFD), permits healthcare workers to deny treatment to LGBTQ people and women seeking abortions if it conflicts with their religious convictions. [The White House has also issued many other mandates giving Christian control of the United States.]

The CRFD will cost the health care system at least $300 million to set up new religious requirements as hospitals, nursing homes, state health programs, pharmacies, and other service providers must post employee notices, draft policies, maintain documentation, and prepare other methods of guaranteeing that health care workers can discriminate against people based on their form of Christianity. Annual maintenance of these practices will continue to cost $125 million. Catholics at institutions supported by taxpayers have re-confirmed their opposition to abortion and death with dignity practices.

Other GOP leaders are following DDT’s lead. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) has picked anti-LGBTQ conservative Christian pastor to head up the Michigan Civil Rights Commission last week. The state senate is supposed to confirm the person for this position, but Snyder ignored that requirement.

As evangelicals move farther from the cultural mainstream, they are also losing their constituents through aging and attrition. As a result, the white evangelical Protestant population in the U.S. has fallen over 25 percent from 23 percent in 2007 to 17 percent in 2016. over the past decade, dropping from 23 percent in 2006 to 17 percent in 2016. Almost two-thirds of them are now at least 50 years old. Perhaps this change will overcome the listing of the ship of state toward Christian theocracy and Christian sharia-like law.

December 17, 2016

President Right about Media, Clinton

Filed under: Media — trp2011 @ 9:01 PM
Tags: , , , ,

The way that Russian hacking may have controlled the 2016 presidential election was a major subject of President Obama’s last press conference this year.

“Unless the American people genuinely think that the professionals in the CIA, the FBI, our entire intelligence infrastructure—many of whom, by the way, served in previous administrations and who are Republicans—are less trustworthy than the Russians, then people should pay attention to what our intelligence agencies say.”

He also talked about the danger of the belief “that it’s okay to intimidate the press, or lock up dissidents, or discriminate against people”—issues that may become popular in the next few years. He added his worry about “certain folks in the Republican Party and Republican voters suddenly finding a [Russian] government and individuals who stand contrary to everything that we stand for as being okay, because ‘that’s how much we dislike Democrats.’”

Part of his comments, however, dealt with how the mainstream media in the U.S. acts like a Russian propaganda machine through obsessively searching for anything negative about Hillary Clinton—including such ridiculous pieces as a risotto recipe from her former campaign manager John Podesta.

The media largely ignored the president’s comments directed toward them or took umbrage. Slate chose to misrepresent what he said as referring only to “fake news,” and Atlantic only provided a few of his quotes with no comments. The Washington Post, a conservative publication that supported Trump until it thought he could win the primaries, declaimed “First Amendment rights” for accenting Podesta’s risotto recipe over DT’s involvement in Russian hacking. A pundit on MSNBC said that the president should have pushed the media harder if it wanted them to publicize the corruption and fraud of DT’s campaign and foreign involvement.

A review of the political media for the past 18 months more than supports President Obama’s comments about the media:

Clinton’s Emails: While the media obsessed with the non-existent scandal of Hillary Clinton’s private server, they glossed over the extensive list of DT’s alleged sexual assault victims and his other misogyny. At the same time, mainstream TV “news” equated the two; for example, ABC’s Matthew Dowd tweeted, “Either you care both about Trump being sexual predator & Clinton emails, or u care about neither. But don’t talk about one without the other.” Pushback to his tweet brought the response that people who thought sexual assault was worse than Clinton’s legal actions were “partisan.” Clinton was asked twice about her email server in debates, and DT was asked only once about his sexual abuse.

Violence from DT Supporters: Pundits, including those from the supposedly “liberal” New York Times,  incessantly claimed that “both sides” fueled an acrimonious campaign. DT promised to legally defend anyone who punched a protester in the face, told another than he would “beat the crap” out of him, and called on anti-DT people to be “roughed up.” He constantly lambasted journalists to the extent that at least one of them had to be protected by guards as she left a rally. Clinton never said one inciting word. There was no proof that Clinton backers caused the violence from Trump supporters, the media accused the campaign of causing these problems.

“Race Relations” instead of White Supremacy: The false rhetoric used in the media implied a conflict between two equal parties instead of attacks from white supremacists wielding their power over minorities. In the debates, Lester Holt insisted on the need to “heal the divide” between races, and Elaine Quijano asked, “Do we ask too much of police officers in this country?”  No one discussed the problem of minority subjugation.

Equaling Anti-Racism and Racism: This campaign saw the rise of opposition to “political correctness,” and columnists such as David Brooks promoted the position that fighting oppressors is as bad as oppressing, similar to considering hostages in a bank robbery as equal bad as the bank robbers if they try to overpower their captors:

“But it’s not only racists who reduce people to a single identity. These days it’s the anti-racists, too. To raise money and mobilize people, advocates play up ethnic categories to an extreme degree.”

MSNBC has been accused of being so liberal that it’s the opposite of the Fox network, but Joe Scarborough, host of The Morning Joe Show, was a propaganda shill for DT, going to far as meeting with him at the Trump Tower to help him plan campaign strategy.

As soon as Clinton announced her run for president in 2015, mainstream media gloried in putting out massive negative coverage, according to a study by Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on media coverage.

“Whereas media coverage helped build up Trump, it helped tear down Clinton. Trump’s positive coverage was the equivalent of millions of dollars in ad-buys in his favor, whereas Clinton’s negative coverage can be equated to millions of dollars in attack ads, with her on the receiving end.”

The study found a ratio of 45 negative stories to one positive story on emails, most of them generated by the GOP and Fox network before being repeated on mainstream media. Eighty-four percent of Clinton’s coverage in this period was negative before the primaries with 90 percent negative during the negatives. The belief in Clinton’s unworthiness came from the media.

The media obsessed over the false accusation that Clinton was putting the United States at risk because of a private email server while it expressed no concern about DT considering Gen. David Petraeus for Secretary of State. Eighteen months ago he was convicted of passing classified information to his girlfriend while he was director of the CIA. The media, including the supposedly progressive Public Broadcasting System, has also totally ignored the fact that both Bob Gates and Condoleezza Rice—strong supporters for the Russia-connected Secretary of State nominee, Rex Tillerson—are on the payroll of Exxon, Tillerson’s employer.

In addition to admitting sexual assault, DT has broken the law in countless other ways including using illegal immigrants and mob help to build the Trump Tower, not paying sales taxes, committing federal income tax fraud, spending money from his personal non-profit charity foundation for personal expenses and bribery, failing to pay his workers, conning students at Trump University, paying off prosecutors with political donations, and now using his position as president-elect to blackmail other countries into better business deals. And he also destroyed his own emails to avoid problems in court. Clinton broke no laws, but the media has spent 18 months avoiding DT’s illegal activities while making Clinton’s legal activities seem the reverse.

Mainstream media incessantly called out Clinton for her speaker’s fees from Wall Street but said nothing about how a network marketing company judged to be a pyramid scheme paid DT $1.35 million for three speeches last year. Taxpayers paid $127 million for a golf course on top of a Bronx garbage dump that is named after DT. He keeps almost all the money for its first 20 years while taxpayers pay for the utility bills.

The media touts DT as a good businessman, but he passes along all his losses to other people as he consistently fails at his projects. Most of the structures with “Trump” in the name are owned by others; they pay DT for the name. Then there are the 250 buyers who lost money, sometimes their life savings, for a project in Baja, licensed to a third-party developer. He could have gotten them some money back, but he lied about not having insurance after it failed. The media let him get away with all his bad business deals just as they printed his lies about shutting down offshoring manufacturing and failed to report on his massive offshore retail deals.

Media support for DT comes from corporate greed. The CBS CEO openly admitted that he wanted the money he got from ratings. A DT presidency will lower taxes on network CEOs and senior executives as well as cut regulations that make media accountable for the public interest. NBC in particular will benefit from the “reality show” coming out of the White House because DT is the executive producer. DT’s “reality show” of rallies, tweets, and other announcements dominated during the campaign.

Clinton got attention only when she was attacking DT, and the media complained about her having no policies while they ignored the ones that she presented. The sole goal of making more money in network television came from the end of the Fairness Doctrine, any enforcement of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and independent television after the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

There’s a good reason that the official word of 2016 from the Oxford English Dictionary is “post-truth.” The media. The people who claim that they aren’t the “truth squad” know that they can get away with anything by denying that they’re doing anything wrong. Business as usual: the mainstream media cozies up to DT and normalizes the oligarchy that he wants to bring into the White House. And then says, “It’s not my problem!”

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