BEN CARSON, HILLARY CLINTON AND THE DEVIL: THE REPUBLICANS REACH BACK TO THE THE MIDDLE AGES IN EFFORTS TO ELECT TRUMP

 

In science the devils have never lived. There you will find no
goblins, ghosts or witches. For that, you need a Republican
National Convention.

Introduction

Well, Dr. Ben Carson almost managed a hat trick in his address endorsing Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland. That is, he nearly made Donald Trump sound sort of sensible, at least compared with one of the other failed contenders, namely, himself. Christian Fundamentalist Dr. Ben, who makes us wonder if maybe there’s not that much to brain surgery as we have come to believe, or was told about a book jacket notation some years ago wherein Saul Alinsky mentioned the Devil – in jest. Then he noted that Hillary Clinton once said something favorable about Alinsky and from that made a preposterous leap – suggesting that this meant Hillary must b or is a friend of Lucifer. It’s a wonder he did not go even further and intimate that Hillary was having an affair with Lucifer. The RNC crowd went wild with joyous anger at this “damning” revelation about proven Devil-worshiper Hillary.

That ought to do it, the Tea Party crowd seemed to conclude: Hillary and the Devil are one and the same. Cue the standing applause. The house trembled with joy and a delicious chill at the perfidy of it all.

What Accounts for Republican Party Madness, Rage and Hate?

How do people get so crazy to applaud someone like Ben Carson – and seriously entertain the candidacy of a mountebank like Donald Trump?

Let’s stick with the make-believe Devil.Robert Ingersoll’s words help explain how religion-besotted Republicans could believe in such a comic book character.

Fear is an artist — a sculptor — a painter. All tribes and nations, having suffered, having been the sport and prey of natural phenomena, having been struck by lightning, poisoned by weeds, overwhelmed by volcanoes,
destroyed by earthquakes, believed in the existence of a Devil, who was the king — the ruler — of innumerable smaller devils, and all these devils have been from time immemorial regarded as the enemies of men.
(“The Devil,” 1899.)

All devil belief is founded on god belief – it’s what we call today the good cop, bad cop routine. Religions invented both to control populations. Religions employed fear and exploited prejudices of the time and place in which they ruled. Europeans found themselves bedeviled by black devils; the Africans had to deal with white devils. Devils came in all shapes and formats, especially wizards and witches (women have always been easier to victimize). In one two-year period (1598 – 1600), more than 600 Frenchmen and women were convicted and executed for mischief while in wolf forms – a favorite trick of the Devil at the time, it seems. Thousands of such cases, with variations on the form of devil possession, occurred.

Conclusion

At least Ben Carson had the decency not to suggest that Hillary was guilty of lurking in the woods as a wolf, preying on innocents (and Republicans) to tear asunder. But, don’t be complacent – I wouldn’t put it past him. Like Ben Carson today, a belief in devils has been universal. The consequences, as Ingersoll described, have been terrible beyond the imagination. Millions and millions of men, women and children, of fathers and mothers, have been sacrificed upon the altar of this ignorant and idiotic belief.

If Carson’s words about Lucifer and Hillary should influence Republicans and those they bamboozle into voting in sufficient numbers to carry Donald Trump to the White House, devil belief will have played a role even worse in the 21st century than in the Dark Ages past.

I say that no sensible man in all the world believes in devils. Beyond this, idiocy cannot go. (Robert Ingersoll)

Erasure and Victorian women.

I first started giving more thought to the phenomenon of erasure in 2013, after hearing talks from Susan Jacoby and Jennifer Michael Hecht at CFI’s Women in Secularism 2 conference (yes, that one). Both presentations touched on the stories and accomplishments of women being written out of narratives in favor of men’s, a well-documented and observable manifestation of male privilege. A woman’s erasure turns out to be even more likely when she is a nonbeliever or otherwise unorthodox (Christian/conservative privilege); similarly, atheist men also tend to be erased from historical narratives in favor of believers (same).

Erasure of racial, sexual and other minorities should be too obvious to need mentioning, but I will mention a few off of the top of my head*:

As with all modes of privilege, for those with intersectional identities the likelihood of erasure is compounded. And as with all modes of privilege, erasure is self-perpetuating.

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Thoughts on Paul Jay interview with Henry Giroux.

Paul Jay of The Real News had an interesting discussion (in two parts) with author and scholar Henry Giroux about a potential Trump presidency and its implications for democracy. In normal times, I would find Giroux laughably hyperbolic when he says, for instance, that under a Trump presidency the world is in serious danger of nuclear war, or that political dissent would be criminalized.

These are not normal times.

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Petition to the president to protect over 100,000 Native American sites.

Via a CREDO* Action email this morning:

 

save-bears-ears-180Nearly 1.9 million acres of unprotected, culturally important Native American land in Utah known as Bears Ears have been looted and vandalized for years. Artifacts have been desecrated and stolen – and human remains have even been disturbed.1

While the area is owned by the federal government, only two law enforcement officers patrol this vast swath of land.2

President Obama can easily protect these vulnerable sites by designating Bears Ears a national monument, which would provide the government the resources it needs to protect this land. With more than 100,000 Native American cultural sites at Bears Ears, the Obama Administration must take immediate action to protect Bears Ears before even more damage is done.

Tell President Obama: Designate Bears Ears a national monument.

The movement to protect Bears Ears has overwhelming support. 71% of Utah residents support the creation of a national monument,3 and more than 700 archaeologists4 and a coalition of tribes, including the Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Ute Mountain Ute, and Uintah & Ouray Ute, have called on the president to designate the land at Bears Ears a monument.5

However, Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch and other anti-conservation, right-wing extremists in Congress are using Bears Ears as their latest example of so-called “federal overreach” of public lands by the Obama Administration.6 This is the same reasoning Cliven Bundy and his extreme, gun-toting supporters have recently used to justify their armed clashes with federal authorities, and threats of an “armed insurrection” over Bears Ears have been reported.7

In the face of the destruction of sacred Native American sites and the desecration of ancient human remains, it’s unconscionable that right-wing extremists want to play politics instead of protecting such an important place.

Before any more Native American sites are destroyed at Bears Ears, the Obama Administration must act to permanently protect this sacred land from further looting and vandalism.

Tell President Obama: Designate Bears Ears a national monument.

Thanks for all you do.

References

  1. Jenny Rowland, “Bears Ears Cultural Area: The Most Vulnerable U.S. Site for Looting, Vandalism, and Grave Robbing,” Center for American Progress, June 13, 2016
  2. Bears Ears deserves national monument designation,” Washington Post, June 8, 2016
  3. Brian Maffly, “New survey finds 71 percent support Bears Ears monument in Utah,” The Salt Lake Tribune, May 17, 2016
  4. Ginger Perales, Hundreds of Archaeologists Sign on to Protect Bears Ears,” New Historian, June 20, 2016
  5. Anne Minard, “Tribes Ask President Obama to Designate Bears Ears as National Monument,” Indian Country Today, October 15, 2015
  6. Orrin Hatch, “Hatch: A Bears Ears monument would be federal overreach,” The Salt Lake Tribune, June 12, 2016
  7. Judith Eilperin, “A major Native American site is being looted. Will Obama risk armed confrontation to save it?,” Washington Post, June 5, 2016

The petition to President Obama reads:

“The nearly 1.9 million acres at Bears Ears contain over 100,000 culturally important Native American sites but are mostly unprotected and have been subject to repeated vandalism and looting. Designate Bears Ears a national monument to protect this land for good.”

I am not normally optimistic about clicktivism accomplishing much of anything, but on rare occasions it does so. And in any event it certainly cannot hurt. Please sign and share the petition.

Thank you, and have a nice day.

__________

*If you aren’t already a CREDO mobile customer, maybe you should be?

 

“Pro-life,” everyone.

So the rancid garbage heap that is Donald Trump has chosen as his running mate the blazing dumpster fire that is Mike Pence. As if it could be any other way. The Donald desperately needed a bona fide conservative berserker on the ticket to perk up the flaccid conservative base, because his own track record is simply not terrible enough to get them excited.

Much digital ink has been and undoubtedly will be spilled about Pence’s “pro-life” position. He is the real deal, a foaming-at-the-mouth Forced Birther, who enjoys a 100% rating from the National Right to Life [sic] Committee and a 0% rating from NARAL. Like most “pro-life” conservatives, Mike Pence has a bizarre obsession with blastocysts, and with requiring people to provide continuous organ donation for nine months followed by the horrifically violent expulsion of a newly minted human, voluntarily or otherwise. Yet strangely, he has very, very few qualms about the deaths of existing people.

On gun issues alone, a lot of dead bodies can be piled up right at Pence’s feet: he wants a national (cross-state) standard for concealed carry, looser restrictions on interstate gun purchases, and in Congress he voted repeatedly to shield gun manufacturers and dealers from liability lawsuits. Naturally, he’s got an A rating from the fine folks at the NRA.

He’s also a big supporter of the Iraq war.

Pence has been an unwavering champion of the “War on Drugs,” the FAILest policy that ever FAILed, responsible for countless deaths, unfathomable miseries and untold millions of destroyed lives. SCHIP, the nation’s health insurance program for poor children, is also a favorite target: he voted multiple times to deny its expansion. And for what it’s worth, he doesn’t care much for non-human life either, having voted to deauthorize “critical habitat” zones for endangered species.

Now none of that is surprising, because people who understand how words work know that “pro-life” doesn’t mean anything of the sort. But I have to hand it to this asshole. He surprised even me with this shit: denying that cigarettes are dangerous, in exchange for large campaign contributions from Big Tobacco. In an astonishing editorial he wrote while running for congress in The Year of Our Lard 2000, he wrote:

“Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.”

WHAT. I mean, the jury’s been in on that question since at least 1964.

At a later debate, he clarified exactly what he meant by that statement: that “there was no causal link medically identifying smoking as causing lung cancer.”

&^$@^)#!

As governor of Indiana, Pence has created quite the legacy for himself on behalf of his cigarette manufacturer friends.

Indiana’s public health has paid the price. In 2015, Pence signed a law making it easier to create cigar bars in the state. And his administration slashed the already small amount of the tobacco tax and settlement money available for smoking prevention and cessation in 2013, well below the CDC’s recommended levels. According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, “Funding for Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation was down to $8 million per year when Pence took office in January 2013. And within his first week, the Pence administration slashed the agency’s budget to $5 million.”

Indiana now has the highest adult smoking rates of any state in the industrial midwest region and the seventh highest smoking rate in the nation. With among the lowest tobacco taxes of any state, public health experts warn the state is “really in bad shape.” Indeed a 2014 article noted that 17 percent of pregnant women smoke — nearly double the national average — and this has been linked to lower birth weights and higher rates of infant mortality. As a result, it noted, “the state spends $28 million a year on health costs for infants born to mothers who smoke.”

“Pro-life,” everyone.

Buy my totes, people. 40% off!

This is your semi-regular reminder that the work I do here—and yes, it is work—is not without its costs, timewise and otherwise. So I am making it easy for you to buy cool stuff, and then you buy it! I get a (small) cut, and you get cool stuff. WIN-WIN.

40% off all tote bags through Sunday
WITH CODE: ZTOTESFORYOU
!!!

Just look at these beauties! Huh? HUH?!

dtstotes2x2

Do your part to shake humans from their stupor and break the hypnotic spell of the enemy rodents carrying these striking totes—BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!
#squirrelpocalypse

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This message is for white people.

policearrestingpeacefulblackprotestorImage via The Love Life Of An Asian Guy.

I am ashamed to admit that in the wake of the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, Alva Braziel and the police shootings in Dallas I have felt so overwhelmed, angry, sad, helpless and unable to concentrate long enough to write coherently about them or the larger context surrounding them. I say “ashamed,” because I am aware that my reaction is a speck of dust compared to the universe of pain, rage, injustice and fear in which black people are forced to dwell in this country 24/7/365. No matter how much I may be reeling, I can always check out, post goofy shit for sale on the Internet, cry into my cocktail and generally go along on my merry way. There is no fucking escape for them.

I felt some measure of relief when I read this post by my friend Dana Hunter. It’s a compilation of practical actions that all of us can take to help turn this sorry state of affairs around—and turn it around we must. I don’t know about you, but it helps me to process grief by doing something specific that is asked of me by those more directly affected, even the smallest action, even if I am pessimistic about it making any difference at all. The fact is, it’s worth doing not only because it makes me feel productive and useful, but because all great movements for change require countless small actions by countless people, most of them unseen and unsung. These things add up. Mere drops in the ocean form the great wave.

With Dana’s kind permission, I am sharing her post here in its entirety.

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Buy my $#!+, people.

My little blog adventures (blogventures?) continue to enrich and sustain me in so many ways. However, not one of those ways is “financially.”

I have kept the Palace ad-free, mainly because I detest being assaulted by ads when I want to read something online. And the way the whole ad dealio works leads to some comically absurd results. The algorithms that generate ads for a site are based in large part on its content, but apparently the ghosts in the machine are not sophisticated enough to detect satire, mockery, snark or general derision. So for example at Pharyngula (and PZ Myers is nothing if not a fire-breathing atheist and first-rate mocker of religious ridiculousness), we are all regularly treated to ads imploring us to sign up for Christian Mingle, attend Mormon colleges and join the fucking Jehovah’s Witnesses. NOBODY’S CLICKING ON THAT SHIT. I can only imagine what the ad feed would look like here: Crisis Pregnancy Centers, gay conversion therapy scams, squirrel feeders, Jerry Coyne lecture tours, CIA recruiters and worst of all, the Democratic National Committee. Christ.

The work I do here—and yes, it is work—is not without its costs, timewise and otherwise. So I propose a WIN-WIN: I make it easy for you to buy cool stuff, and you buy it. I get a (small) cut, and you get cool stuff.

All proceeds to fund subverting the status quo, smashing the patriarchy, dismantling white supremacy, waging war on warmongers, obliterating the oligarchy, sustaining struggling friends, monitoring the squirrel menace, mocking conservatives and/or cat food.

BUY MY SHIT.

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Look, I’ve organized it into collections for you.

conservativetearslzstorebannerconservative tears

Soothe your rabid rage at right-wing blowhards and repel conservatives from your general vicinity!

conservativetearssamples

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medicareforallzstorebanner

medicare for all

Help drag the USA up to the standards of 20th century civilization by demanding single payer health care NOW!

medicareforallsamples

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pspzstorebannerperry street palace™

Loyal Readers™, now’s your chance to join the Official Palace Army™! Demonstrate devotion to Your Humble Monarch™ while shamelessly shilling for Iris’s blog! Proudly announce to all the world your support for the senseless overuse of Trademark Symbols™!

pspsamples__________

dtszstorebanner#deathtosquirrels

Do your part to shake the people from their stupor and break the hypnotic spell of the enemy rodents BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE! #squirrelpocalypse

dtssamples

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irisiriszstorebanner

iris iris

Research shows that people tend to behave more ethically when cued that they’re being watched: adorning yourself and your home with this eye-catching (<-hahaha) collection instantly improves the behavior of everyone around you! IRIS SEES YOU. #creepychic

irisirissamples

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But okay, so maybe you don’t want any more actual stuff. I totally get that. (Big shoutout to mah NYC peeps! MY KINGDOM FOR A WALK-IN CLOSET.) In that case you could just, you know, pay me actual money. YES. If you appreciate what I do here, maybe put some money where your infotainment is and PAY ME. :D

 

paymepsp

Naturally, all of this goes only IF you have a few bucks to spare. Many people do not, and in any event no one should feel obligated to contribute to my cat food fund. Particularly when they’re thisclose to eating cat food themselves.

AGAIN: All proceeds to fund subverting the status quo, smashing the patriarchy, dismantling white supremacy, waging war on warmongers, obliterating the oligarchy, sustaining struggling friends, monitoring the squirrel menace, mocking conservatives and/or cat food.

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Isn’t this fun? This is fun.

Have a nice day.

palacehappyface