I need seven singers – or a conspiracy theory, whichever comes first (Singers, sign up below!)

It takes a conspirator to know a conspirator?

It takes a conspirator to know a conspirator?

December 7th, “the date that will live in INFAMY!”

That sentence is one that I use regularly to demonstrate to students how the careful use of one word can change not only the meaning but the import of a sentence.

FDR’s first draft of his speech asking Congress to declare war on Japan after Pearl Harbor began with the sentence (he wrote it himself, by the way), “. . . a date that will live in history.” Big deal.

Don’t all days live in history?

We don’t have a record of FDR’s thought process—my guess is there wasn’t one, that he knew it had to change because he had studied communications at the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU, and they teach people how to be effective—in changing “history” to “infamy,” thereby making the speech one that lives in history.

Teach people to be effective? Baloney. People with degrees in communications know how to follow trends, how to use tools, how to make money selling stuff, but no one—let me repeat—NO ONE can teach a person that “infamy” is more memorable than “history.” You’re thinking, anyone can see that. We have 72 years of saying the sentence over and over again to know that single word made the speech. FDR could have stopped right there, and Congress would have declared war (even Robert A. Taft voted in favor).

How do you start a conspiracy theory, anyway? As I’ve said in a post here before, you make people believe your explanation for an event is the evidence that it happened.

Dallas has been awash in conspiracy theories all this year. The 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination here in our fair city. The one person I know personally who is an authority—that is, he has been studying the matter and having his students research and write about it for 20 years or so—thinks there was a conspiracy to murder the President. I’ve told him I want to talk to him about it. Perhaps we will and perhaps we won’t.

It was revealed recently that Robert F. Kennedy did not believe the Warren Commission. So that is somehow evidence that there was a conspiracy.

Robert F. Kennedy got his start in government law in 1952 when his father, Joseph Kennedy, persuaded Senator Joseph McCarthy to hire Bobby as assistant counsel to McCarthy’s conspiracy-searching and character-assassinating committee in the Senate. Robert Kennedy got his start in government “service” sniffing out conspiracies. Does Bobby Kennedy’s explanation of his brother’s death count as evidence? No. Explanations and conjectures are not evidence.

The first great conspiracy theory?

The first great conspiracy theory?

So my colleague tells me there IS, in fact, evidence. I have not bothered to read any of it because—well, because what difference does it make? Will absolute proof that there were two killers change anything? No. The American people have already chosen their lot—let conspiracy theories make our decisions. To wit, September 11, 2001.

We have laid down our freedom at the feet of the federal government on the theory that there is a vast world-wide conspiracy of “terrorists” who will destroy society as we know it if we don’t kill them with drones and let our own government go sniffing in our private affairs just as Bobby Kennedy did for Joe McCarthy.

Rhetoric is the art of using all available means to make an argument (not to “argue” but to make an “argument”—there is a difference). That’s what Aristotle said, at any rate.

I have no idea what rhetorical strategy to use to get from Bobby and Joe sniffing around and the CIA and the DHS sniffing around to “infamy” and “history” and then to my need for some singers.

So I’ll just say it. What difference does it make whether or not my students understand the rhetorical power of one word over another? Conspiracies demand acquiescence. Young people have been so brainwashed by our concessions of our liberties that they have no concept of our rights under the First Amendment. There is little point in trying to help them have an “ah-ha” moment about writing, about the choice of words, when the only amendment to the Constitution they care anything about is the Second. (No, I don’t know what process of “logic” I used to get from one idea to the next here. Deal with it.)

And the power of language—of anything beautiful or expressive—has one purpose now. To make money. Or to wield military (or corporate) power. After all, according to one of the first great conspiracy theories, FDR’s choice of words was important because he was involved in bringing about the attack on Pearl Harbor.

I know, I know. I’m not making any sense, and I’m becoming one of those grouchy and irrational old men my mother warned me about. I want to draw myself into a cocoon and forget all of the nonsense of the world. You all can go ahead with your conspiracy theories, and with your forfeiture of your right of freedom of conscience if you want. Or any other freedom—like the freedom to get on an airplane without a stranger looking at your privates.

But all I want is to make some music. I can’t do it even as well as I used to (which was never brilliant, my degrees notwithstanding). So I want simple. And I’d love to have a group of singers to direct so the physical act of producing the music didn’t fall on my shoulders alone.

Singers. Send me a comment here—I’m not kidding!!!—and let’s withdraw from conspiracies together.

Here I am playing the notes without the words for Thomas Ravenscroft’s little anthem (1611). I need singers! I can play the notes for a work like this, but that cries out for the original (which has more stanzas than I have here).

Remember, O thou Man,
O thou Man, O thou Man,
Remember, O thou Man,
Thy time is spent.
Remember, O thou Man,
How thou camest to me then,
And I did what I can.
Therefore repent.

Remember Adam’s fall,
O thou Man, O thou Man,
Remember Adam’s fall
From Heaven to Hell.
Remember Adam’s fall,
How we were condemned all
To Hell perpetual,
There for to dwell.

Remember God’s goodness,
O thou Man, O thou Man,
Remember God’s goodness
And promise made.
Remember God’s goodness,
How his only Son he sent
Our sins for to redress.
Be not afraid.

“. . . open wide my door /To the ghosts of the year. . .” (3)

We've caught the two!!!

We’ve caught the two!!!

Last night was Halloween. The eve of All Hallows Day.

How on earth did it get to be such a big deal in America (is it elsewhere)? It seems a bizarre celebration for a people who are mired in a political system that has utterly failed us; in a social system in which people who say the holiday is evil because it goes against their (tyrannical and terrorist) “christian” beliefs are becoming more and more entrenched and influential; in an economic system which day-by-day leaves more and more of us unable to flourish in the sense of the “American dream” that at one time was our common mythology and now seems very much like a grotesque nightmarish costume.

Or is it bizarre? Go begging door to door in the guise of having fun. In the guise of ghosthood. In the guise of blackmail.

Perhaps that’s the best thing for us to do. Go begging. I have the distinct impression that I should have gone out “trick or treating” last night to practice up for what I may well have to do when my paychecks stop next June because of my forced retirement from an institution that this year is raising $1,000,000,000 for itself (that’s a billion, in case your mind is boggled because you never see more than two or three zeroes in your own bank statements).

“. . . the ghosts of the year. . .” are pretty obvious. Ted Cruz. David Koch. Karl Rove. Antonin Scalia. Bruce Hoffman. Gen. Keith Alexander. Christoph Heusgen.  Lisa Monaco.

Yes, I am completely biased. I am a partisan of the worst kind. I can see nothing socially acceptable about these people. Their goal is to trick the American middle class out of its dream while they wear the costumes of fun and frivolity and offer the treat of providing a huge percentage of the populace with a fall guy (or a bunch of fall guys) to deflect the attention from their own complicity in the raping and pillaging of American culture, economy, and politics.

Every time many unthinking Americans, based on the “conservative” rhetoric (which is really ghoulish fantasy) in which the country is awash thanks to David H. Koch’s ability to buy TV ads, speak of our President, they say he is “(half) black.” That, of course, is a racist formulation through and through. Apparently claiming to be “black” when one is only “half black” is somehow telling a lie. Even though, of course, the legal definition of “Negro” in half of this country until the 1950s was (and still remains in the internalized beliefs) that one was is a “Negro” if even one of her great-grandparents was a “Negro.” (Let’s see, I had eight great-grandparents, so that would mean if 1/8th of my genetic makeup were black, I’d be a “Negro.”)

One of my best friends is ..  Uh, er, Black!

One of my best friends is .. Uh, er, Black!

Saying President Obama is only (half) black makes him the bogeyman because he—he’s wearing a costume! “Trick or treat!”

So we go on making more and more bogeymen. Bogeymen such as those approximately two people out of 65,000 in South Carolina who vote twice in any given election. So we pass new voter ID laws to prevent those two from voting twice. Most likely they are part of the “bunch of lazy blacks who want the government to give them everything,” says the GOP precinct chair from Buncombe County, North Carolina, Don Yelton (1). To be fair, the Republicans, sensing that his fixing of blame so blatantly on bogeymen was not playing well against the TV ads paid for by Mr. Koch and his friend Karl Rove, fired the self-declared bigot.

Lest friends of mine think I am not fair when I try to point out the failures of the Republicans (what the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove are doing has nothing to do with being Republican—they simply know it’s easier for them to use the great unwashed of the Republican rank-and-file than it would be to use the great unwashed of the Democratic rank-and-file, so that’s where they put their money on the great distribution-of-wealth-in-their-favor Trifecta), let me say right now that the Democrats under the President are making their own bogeymen. Muslims. “Terrorists.” You know, they’ve completely sold out to the “terrorism industry.” Anyone who looks Middle Eastern—or has a Palestinian friend on Facebook, I assume—is a bogeyman. And Bruce Hoffman would lose his power and influence if we called a spade a spade in that case.

The application of these newly learned capabilities to urban centers in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and elsewhere could result in a precipitous escalation of bloodshed and destruction, reaching into countries and regions that hitherto have experienced little, if any, organized jihadi violence (2).

So I guess it’s not so surprising that Americans love Halloween. We see bogeymen and ghosts everywhere we look. And that justifies our being frightened, repulsed, and angry at the “other” in our lives, no matter where we see her.

BOO!

Aw, shucks. We have met the bogeyman and she is. . . . ?

(3)

All Hallows Night
by Lizette Woodworth Reese

Two things I did on Hallows Night:—
Made my house April-clear;
Left open wide my door
To the ghosts of the year.

Then one came in. Across the room
It stood up long and fair—
The ghost that was myself—
And gave me stare for stare.
?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????_____________
(1) Green, Lloyd. “The GOP’s Racial Handicap.” The Daily Beast. Oct 28, 2013. Web. (2) Hoffman,  Bruce.  “Combating Al Qaeda and the Militant Islamic Threat.” Testimony presented to the House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities, February 2006. Quoted in, John Mueller, Terror predictions compiled by John Mueller. Ohio State University. May 2, 2012. Web.

“. . . and dangerous badgers like dignitaries stare. . . “ (*)

Dangerous dignitaries stare

Dangerous dignitaries stare

My writing is dangerous. No, silly. It’s mere “oily palaver” to you (I wish I could remember who said that phrase in my presence many years ago, said it in such a way that I have remembered it since).

I have been to the Providence Zoo to see the badgers. It’s officially the Roger Williams Park Zoo. Named after Roger Williams, contrary to popular belief the only one of the “founding fathers” who came to the New World to find religious freedom. Don’t believe it when Tea Baggers tell you this country was founded on religious freedom—it was founded, except for Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, on the desire of various groups to live in places they controlled under rules that reflected their personal beliefs, rules they forced everyone to live by.

If The Massachusetts Bay Colony had had anything like religious freedom, they would not have expelled Roger Williams, and he would not have founded Rhode Island with the understanding that  “. . . .it is the will and command of God that (since the coming of his Son the Lord Jesus) a permission of the most paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or antichristian consciences and worships, be granted to all men in all nations and countries. . . . [“Turkish,” of course, here meaning “Muslim] (1).

I’ve written about all of this many times, so that’s not what I’m up to this morning.

No, I’m simply admitting that my writing is dangerous to me—and, perhaps, to a few acquaintances whom I quote and mention. I’ve assumed ever since I wrote a blog posting about my friend Mufid Abdulqader in 2007 that what I post electronically in any format is (or used to be) of some mild passing interest to the NSA or the DHSS. I suppose that’s delusional thinking about my own importance, but I’m not sure. The younger half-brother of the head of Hamas is certainly a person of interest (he’s now in federal prison for something like 150 years, convicted of being a “terrorist,” which is a loose translation of “working on behalf of Palestinians attempting to live in freedom in their own homeland”).

So when I mention you in a post here, you can bet the NSA is watching you.

Make us some money, guys.

Make us some money, guys.

Of course, they are watching you anyway. I and my writing have nothing to do with it. You gave up your rights to “freedom of association” and “freedom of the press” and “freedom of speech” when you let your Congressmegalomaniac vote for the so-called “Patriot Act.” You let the Congressmegalomaniacs strip you of any right to privacy when you let them hoodwink you into being terrorized by your own shadow and let the Congressmegalomaniacs give the terrorism industry control over your lives—the same Congressmegalomaniacs who have now shut down the government and are about to destroy the world economy. How is it working out for you that you’ve let the Congressmegalomaniacs take over your life?

But I digress.

A student in one of my “Discovery & Discourse” classes (yes, “D&D”—and the university after two years of it still doesn’t see why that’s funny) wrote the following in his essay on the Flannery O’Connor short story “Parker’s Back.” (The specific topic of my course is “Writing About the Grotesque.”)

O’Connor shows in “Parkers Back” through the ideas of the grotesque that everyday experiences people live, they never notice their own reality. People ignore the truth and create what truth is giving everything in life a wide spectrum of truths, making life itself grotesque (2).

The student’s essay is, quite frankly, virtually unfathomable. His writing is confused and totally out of control. I’m pretty sure most of my colleagues would have struggled through reading it and put some kind of D or F grade on it and told him to get an appointment at the Writing Center before he submits his next essay.

But I think his writing is pure poetry, and any teacher who would not spend enough time to comprehend his writing does not deserve to be in the classroom.

He understands O’Connor’s theory of mystery and the grotesque.

Everyday people experience the ideas of the grotesque,
and, thus, they never notice their own reality.
People ignore the [real] truth and create the truth
that they believe is giving everything in their lives a wide spectrum of truths,
thereby making life itself grotesque
.

What “truth” are we creating that we firmly, and with every fiber of our being, believe is broadening out for us into a wide spectrum of truths? (The Patriot Act, government shutdown, the Second Amendment, Debt ceiling crisis, racism—shall I continue?) We’ve made this grotesquery, not our Congressmegalomaniacs. We’ve just asked them to do it for us.

A throwaway member of a university football team can see it better than you and I can. Taken all together we have less sense than a flamingo “eat[ing] upside-down, by dragging his tremendous head through streams.” Or two tortoises “one push[ing] the other over the grass, their hemispheres clicking, on seven legs in toto.” Or “vigilant lemurs, wrens and prestidigitating tamarins.”

The university uses the student to bring in TV money and this year One Billion Dollars from alumni (I kid you not). Far better the university should discover its own “wide spectrum of truths” and understand we are ignoring truth while our “dangerous dignitaries stare at one another like badgers.”

____________(1) Williams, Roger. The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed; and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered (1644). New York: Hard Press Editions, 2012. (2) I won’t cite the source because I don’t have the student’s permission to quote him.

Roger Williams. "Let the Muslims in."

Roger Williams. “Let the Muslims in.”

.
.
.
(*) At the Providence Zoo
      by Stephen Burt  (b. 1971)
Like the Beatles arriving from Britain,
the egret’s descent on the pond
takes the reeds and visitors by storm:
it is a reconstructed marsh
environment, the next
best thing to living out your wild life.
*
Footbridges love the past.
And like the Roman questioner who learned
“the whole of the Torah while standing on one leg,”
flamingos are pleased to ignore us. It is not known
whether that Roman could learn to eat upside-down,
by dragging his tremendous head through streams.
*
Comical, stately, the newly-watched tortoises
mate; one pushes the other over the grass,
their hemispheres clicking, on seven legs
in toto. Together they make
a Sydney opera house,
a concatenation of anapests, almost a waltz.
*
Confined if not preserved,
schoolteachers, their charges, vigilant lemurs, wrens
and prestidigitating tamarins,
and dangerous badgers like dignitaries stare
at one another, hot
and concave in their inappropriate coats.
Having watched a boa
eat a rat alive,
the shortest child does as she was told?
looks up, holds the right hand
of the buddy system, and stands,
as she explains it, “still as a piece of pie.”

––http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16843

How to spot a Communist – er-uh, Terrorist

McCarthy and his lawyer: strange bedfellows?

McCarthy and his lawyer:
strange bedfellows?

.

.

.

My father listened to Edward R. Murrow on the radio (we didn’t have a TV yet) almost every day in the late ‘50s. I know he did because I did, too—mainly in the car. He was on at the time Dad and I were driving home from the church in the late afternoons, he from work, I from practicing the organ.

He did not like Edward R. Murrow, thought he was a pointy-headed liberal or some such (which I did not understand at the time), but Dad would tell me Murrow was an important American and deserved our attention. Talk about mixed messages from a parent!

Because we did not have a TV, we were spared watching the Joseph McCarthy House Un-American Activities hearings. I really had no idea that the Communists were such a huge threat to our way of life, to the very foundations of American government and society.  My parents talked about President Eisenhower, and about the Cold War, and about Pat Nixon’s cloth coat, about the death of Senator Robert A. Taft, and about –about many things. But I do not remember any discussion of Joseph McCarthy. (I remember being confused about the names “MacArthur”—the general, who was a favorite of my Republican parents—and “McCarthy.”)

Many years later my dad told me he never knew what to make of the “Red Scare,” whether or not it was real. But he loathed Senator McCarthy.

(Note: some of what I have presented below as facts may be, in some details, incorrect. I have only my junior high school memory to rely on. I know for certain, however, that the general outline of the story is true.)

In 1959 Dad was the president of the Scottsbluff, Nebraska, chapter of the National Council of Churches. The organization brought Dr. Edwin T. Dahlberg, president of the National Council of Churches to Scottsbluff to speak at a series of meetings (held, I think, at the First Presbyterian Church because it was the largest in town).

A bit later, in a bid to get rid of my father as pastor, a group of members of our church (the First Baptist) accused my father of being a “fellow traveler” because it was well-known that the National Council of Churches was a Communist Front Organization. My father, who admired Dr. Dahlberg as I think he admired few other people in his lifetime, deserved firing because he had been responsible for this Communist coming to town.

The President of the  Communist front organization?

The President of the
Communist front
organization?

Sidebar: Don’t you love the way church politics “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) and live out the admonition of Jesus himself that, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

The church members who wanted to fire my father (he was entirely too liberal for Scottsbluff—he actually said evolution was a possible scientific theory and that, in any case, it didn’t matter because how God created the heavens and the earth was one of those mysteries we were perhaps not supposed to unravel) wrote to Robert Kennedy, who was then chief counsel of Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field and who had been counsel to McCarthy’s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations from 1953 to 1957 (a bit of Kennedy family trivia not many people like to remember). They were certain that Kennedy would answer their letter with proof that the National Council of Churches was a Communist Front organization.

My father announced his resignation contingent upon the answer from Robert Kennedy. If the Chief Counsel affirmed the NCC to be a Communist organization, Dad’s resignation would take effect.

The letter came back from Kennedy saying the NCC had never been found (by McCarthy or anyone else) to be a Communist Front organization, and that those rumors were entirely groundless. Believe me, McCarthy, who was as vociferous in promoting the Roman Catholic Church as in denouncing Communists, would have unearthed any connection the Protestant organization had.

We lived in Scottsbluff another year or so until Dad found another position.

Now we have CAIR for unthinking Americans to believe to be un-American.

And the anti-terrorism industry finding a terrorist behind every locked door and every website in America. I’m not saying terrorism isn’t a threat. Any sane person knew the USSR was a threat to the US in the ‘50s. [Note: click the arrow “read the article”]

But Joseph McCarthy, I’m sure nearly everyone in the country will now agree, was more of a threat to our way of life than “Communists” ever were.

We have given ourselves over to the “terrorism industry” unthinkingly and with a willingness to suspend our Constitutional rights that makes the country’s hoodwinking by Joseph McCarthy look like an afternoon outing in the park for the children.

Brandon Mayfield: How to spot a terrorist

Brandon Mayfield:
How to spot a terrorist

Politicians are the terrorism industry’s lead players. Unwilling to be seen as soft on terrorism, they engage in a process of outbidding, which has the effect of enhancing fears. In addition, the industry includes risk entrepreneurs, pork-barrelers, and bureaucrats, as well as most of the media. They all have an incentive to exaggerate the risk terrorism presents and to find extreme and alarmist possibilities much more appealing than discussions of broader context, much less of statistical reality.
——Mueller, John. “Fear Not: Notes From A Naysayer.” Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists 63.2 (2007): 30-37.

You may be, if you pay attention to such things as blog headings, wondering how this is a humorous look at the process of getting old. It’s not. It’s a resigned, sorrowful, agonized lament on the observation that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

In the Middle Ages the word was “oligarchy”

When I was a kid, all of us were given to believe that we could grow up to be President (well, the white boys, at any rate). At the very least we knew our single little solitary vote counted in elections. I remember the election of 1966 as vividly as any other in my lifetime. I remember standing on the steps of Watchorn Hall at the University of Redlands talking with two of my favorite people, all of us students in the School of Music

We were going to vote for Governor Brown for reelection, of course, rather than Ronald Reagan. It was the first vote of my life. It counted for very little. I lived in California through the entire reactionary (anti-intellectual, anti-middle class, anti-freedom of expression) eight years of Ronald Reagan’s magisterial term as governor.

Edwin Meese was Reagan’s “chief of staff.” He ran the executive branch of the state government. He told Reagan what to think (or at least what to say).

Then there was the Reagan White House. The same arrangement. That is, until Meese became Attorney General. He was implicated in all of the scandals of the Reagan administration.

Now Edwin Meese is in charge of the shutdown of the federal government.

ol·i·gar·chy
noun

1.       a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.

Meese has never been elected to public office, only anointed to various overlord positions, most of them by Ronald Reagan.

He seems to be the brains behind the power of the new American Oligarchy—those few, the dominant class, the clique who are running our country. The coup d’état is a fait accompli. The takeover of the government is finished. We have let it happen. We have only ourselves to blame.

Today the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case which is designed to end all constraints on the amount of money a person can contribute to a political campaign. The Court, with its majority led by Antonin Scalia, the Edwin Meese of jurisprudence, will almost certainly throw out fifty years of its own decisions and allow Edwin Meese’s friends to contribute as much as they like to their far right-wing candidates.

We are living in the time of oligarchy. The few.

The few of those who are hiding behind the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision declaring that, in our oligarchy at any rate, corporations are persons and PACs are no more influential or dangerous than your local PTA, but PACs don’t have to reveal the sources of their money.

I want to go back to the days when any (white boy) kid could become President.

O Joy! Fulfillment of the prophecies of Revelation before I die!

The sign of the beast -  but which one?

The sign of the beast –
but which one?

What effect does a “government shutdown” have on an individual citizen trying to get through one more day as if her life meant something?

I forbid students to open an essay with a question (I don’t forbid any writing—I simply take off points from grades for elements of a writing assignment I think do not adhere to “academic” standards, whatever that is).

Every writing, composition, rhetoric (what we used to call “English”) student has heard the rule that an essay should begin with the “general” and move to the “specific.” Asking a question necessarily begins with a specific statement rather than a verifiable general truth.

Let me simplify. Students are instructed to write inductive reasoning (without using the term in teaching them) rather than deductive.

You know the difference because your high school English (writing, composition, rhetoric—whatever obfuscatory, jargony name your school used trying to help you figure out how to use academic English) teacher told you. Deductive reasoning “links premises with conclusions. If all premises are true, the terms are clear, and the rules of deductive logic are followed, then the conclusion reached is necessarily true.” In inductive reasoning “the premises seek to supply strong evidence for (not absolute proof of) the truth of the conclusion.” (Sorry. These definitions are from Wikipedia. I know. I’m exposing myself as non-academic.)

“While the conclusion of a deductive argument is supposed to be certain, the truth of an inductive argument is supposed to be probable, based upon the evidence given.”

In other words, if you are being deductive, you can say, “All Tea Partiers think in slogans and misapprehensions. My friend ‘Billy’ thinks in slogans and misapprehensions. Therefore, my friend ‘Billy’ is a Tea Partier.”  This is deductive because the conclusion is true. The first premise is absolutely true. The second is also absolutely true. However, the conclusion is not. “Billy” could have all sorts of things wrong with him besides being a Tea Partier. (The fact is that he is a Tea Partier, but that has nothing to do with my faulty deductive reasoning.)

One of the strangest bits of “deductive” reasoning against the Affordable Care Act is that the government is going to implant a computer chip each of our foreheads—that is, ALL of us, everyone—to keep track of our medical needs and expenditures. Here’s the deductive reasoning:

     And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. (Revelation 13:16-17).

Barak Obama is the beast.

     Therefore, Barak Obama (that is, Obamacare) will cause each of us to receive a mark (that is, a computer chip) on our right hand or forehead (to buy or sell health services).

You think I’m making this up, don’t you? Apparently this came from a preliminary Affordable Care trial balloon (2009) that was never

The least good for the greatest number

The least good for the greatest number

passed which called for a registry of all implantable devices (titanium hips, pacemakers, etc.). This morphed to the requirement to implant a device in all of us in order to register us and was soon announced to be the fulfillment of the prophecies of Revelation (1).

I had heard of this bit of deduction, and last night “Real Time with Bill Maher” included a “person-on-the-street” segment asking random people on the streets of New York what they knew about Obamacare. Two of the randoms answered that we are all going to be implanted with chips. One of them said to the Maher interviewer, “I’m surprised you don’t know about this.” Of course, the entire sequence may have been staged. I doubt that.

Puts me in mind of the conversation (defeated-by-the-Tea-Party) Representative Bob Inglis (R-SC) had with a group of Tea Partiers (during the primary campaign in which they defeated him) who told him we each have a number on the back of our Social Security card that the government shares with our banks in order for our accounts to be collateral for loans they get from the Federal Reserve Bank, and they can take our money whenever they want. See the full story below at (2).  That may be a liberal Urban Legend, but I doubt it.

So this is the kind of inductive/deductive/nonsensical reasoning on which the Republicans base their assertion that a majority of Americans don’t like Obamacare?

Yesterday I had a conference with a student (a wealthy, white student from an affluent community in Texas) regarding her rough draft for her required essay on the short story “The Body Snatcher,” by Robert Louis Stevenson. Her ideas were confused to me at first, but through conversation I came to understand that she thought the grave-robbers in the story were engaged in some sort of “game.” Eventually, I got to the basis of her thinking. It came from a philosophy class she took as a first-year student in which the central “take-away” was the Utilitarian philosophy of John Stuart Mill.

All men are mortal.  Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is a Tea Partier.

All men are mortal.
Socrates is a man.
Therefore, Socrates is a Tea Partier.

And, of course, that is as it’s played out in the bizarre anti-social ideas of Ayn Rand. Grave-robbing (even murder) in the story is not grotesque because it results in “the greatest happiness of the greatest number” (providing cadavers for medical students to dissect). And this incomprehensible (to me) philosophy morphed in the student’s mind into Rand’s “objectivism.” Robbing graves to sell the bodies is neither grotesque nor immoral because it provides the grave-robber with income to care for her family.

A little philosophy is a dangerous thing. And a few bizarre and unrelated “facts” are dangerous things in the hands of those who are determined to thwart the objectives of “the Beast.” Is President Obama the First Beast, arising from the sea and demanding allegiance, or the Second Beast, arising from the earth and seducing humanity to worship the First Beast.

Stay tuned. I’m sure the Republicans will clarify anon.

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(1) “Will Obamacare Require RFID Chips in Humans by March 23 2013?” wafflesatnoon.com. December 1, 2012. Web. 5 Oct. 2013. http://wafflesatnoon.com/2012/12/01/will-obamacare-require-rfid-chips-in-humans-by-march-23-2013/
(2) Corn, David. “Confessions of a Tea Party Casualty.” Mother Jones. Aug. 3, 2010. Web. 5 Oct. 2013. Inglis said, “I sat down, and they said on the back of your Social Security card, there’s a number. That number indicates the bank that bought you when you were born based on a projection of your life’s earnings, and you are collateral. We are all collateral for the banks. I have this look like, “What the heck are you talking about?” I’m trying to hide that look and look clueless. I figured clueless was better than argumentative. So they said, “You don’t know this?! You are a member of Congress, and you don’t know this?!”

The terrorists have won

John C. Calhoun, spiritual father of the first great insurrection.

John C. Calhoun, spiritual father of the first great insurrection.

While we strike (supposed) terrorists in Yemen with drones, and urge the NSA to spy on us relentlessly without constraint in order to prevent a “terrorist” attack, we have allowed a coup d’état to take place at the highest levels of our government. It is finished. It is over. The revolution is complete. We have knuckled under to a terrorist takeover of our democratic processes.

Terrorists use intimidation, sometimes military and violent, sometimes seemingly civil and non-violent, to force a family (kidnapping) or a nation (insurrection) to do their bidding. We have an entire ENORMOUS industry in the US devoted to keeping us safe from terrorism. But it has failed us. The Tea Party has brought about a successful insurrection—they have destroyed representative government as surely as if they had commandeered the Pentagon.

terrorism
1. the use of violence and threats TO INTIMIDATE or coerce, especially for political purposes.
2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
3. a TERRORISTIC METHOD of governing or of resisting a government.   (Dictionary.com)

The media in America understands the coup although no one seems to have connected the dots. (You can skip all of the short references and read the clearest statement of the facts, by E.J. Dionne–below all of the clips.)

“Congressman [Peter] King (R-N.Y.) claimed that Cruz has been trying to INTIMIDATE members of the GOP with ‘implicit threats of primaries’ if they don’t vote the right way” (1). 

“The danger is that the Republican leadership, held HOSTAGE by the Tea Party. . . “ (2).

“At an Illinois town hall meeting on Monday, Republican Congressman Aaron Schock said those threatening to hold the government budget HOSTAGE over health care were misguided, ‘beating their chests.’ Schock said, ‘If you’re going to take a hostage, you have to be willing to shoot it.’ To which an audience member gleefully said, ‘Kill it’ [the budget]” (3).

“We don’t always agree with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, but he was correct Tuesday when he called on the House to put federal workers back on the job — and then take the budget to conference committee without a “gun to the head.” To negotiate now would be to reward the HOSTAGE-TAKERS for their unreasonable behavior. The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, and Republicans need to give up their obsession with it unless, of course, they had something more productive to offer than a one-year delay” (4).

“. . . the Republican leadership seemed powerless to rein in the demands of its most conservative members, who would rather shut down the government or – – even worse — force a default in the government’s bond payments to bring an end to Obamacare. Such moves would be disastrous for the country, and ruinous for the Republican Party. Put aside, for a moment, the hope for a half-a-loaf compromise with Democrats. The people driving this government HOSTAGE-TAKING aren’t looking for half a loaf, and their tactics can’t be rewarded” (5).

“Democrats such as Senate majority leader Harry Reid have sought to paint themselves as willing to make responsible spending cuts, while tea party Republicans hold such a deal HOSTAGE to their own whims” (6).

“Yet yesterday the options for reaching a compromise appeared narrow, not least because of Republican attempts to HOLD THE GOVERNMENT HOSTAGE by crippling the so-called Obamacare reforms, hated by Tea Party conservatives and set to be rolled out on the same date” (7).

DIONNE, E.J.  “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: THE TEA PARTY SHUTDOWN.” Contra Costa Times (California). (October 2, 2013. Web. LexisNexis Academic.  4 Oct. 2013.

The tea party Republicans should hang a “Mission Accomplished” banner across the House of Representatives. They could flank it with large portraits of Sen. Ted Cruz, the Texas Republican who has in fact, if not in name, replaced John Boehner as speaker of the House. The right-wing extremists got exactly what they wanted. Now, what will the country do about it?

In blundering into a shutdown, Boehner has lost any claim to authority. Helpfully, the speaker-in-name-only underscored this fact himself on the House floor when he mocked the way President Barack Obama talked. Does anyone remember a real speaker going to the well of the House and making fun of a president of the United States? Can anyone now DOUBT WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR WASHINGTON’S DYSFUNCTION? THE REPUBLICAN RIGHT STILL DOES NOT ACCEPT THE LEGITIMACY OF OBAMA’S PRESIDENCY. THIS IS WHY MUCH OF THE GOVERNMENT SHUT DOWN. . . .

Making sure the government pays its debt is not a “concession.” It’s what we expect from A WELL-FUNCTIONING CONSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM.

A WELL-FUNCTIONING CONSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM

A WELL-FUNCTIONING CONSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM

It’s what we expect from decent stewards of our great experiment. THE EXTREMISTS WHO HAVE TAKEN OVER THE HOUSE DO NOT BELIEVE IN A NORMAL, CONSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM. THEY BELIEVE ONLY IN POWER. 

There’s a profound irony here, since no one talks more about the Constitution than the tea party. Before the Civil War, John C. Calhoun and a variety of nullifiers and future secessionists spoke incessantly about the Constitution, too. We know where that led.

In the course of things in a constitutional and democratic republic, parties win elections on the issues that matter to them. They pass laws or repeal them by majority vote. The tea party could not muster such a majority to repeal the Affordable Care Act because Democrats held the White House and the Senate in the 2012 elections. Lacking a majority, the extremists chose force. “Do what we want,” they said, “or we will render the country ungovernable.”

That’s what they have done. Everyone says Boehner knew better and did not want this outcome. But he was so fearful for his job that he let it happen.

120801_ted_cruz_win_ap_605My conservative colleague Michael Gerson had it exactly right Tuesday: “We are no longer seeing a revolt against the Republican leadership, or even against the Republican ‘establishment’; THIS REVOLT IS AGAINST ANYONE WHO ACCEPTS THE CONSTRAINTS OF POLITICAL REALITY.”
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(1) Howerton, Jason.  “GOP Rep. Goes Off on Ted Cruz: He’s a ‘Fraud’, ‘Kamikaze Pilot’ and ‘Those I’ve Spoken to Think He’s Crazy’.” The Blaze. Sep. 25, 2013. Web. 4 Oct. 2013.
(2) Ibbitson, John. “Americans held hostage by Tea Party.” The Globe and Mail (Canada). September 30, 2013. Web. LexisNexis Academic.  4 Oct. 2013.
(3) Jan, Tracy. “This time, Tea Party aims at GOP ; Activists call for risking government shutdown to stop health law.”  The Boston Globe. 9 August 2013. Web. 4 Oct. 2013.
(4) “The unproductive shutdown.” Editorial page. McClatchy – Tribune Business News. 2013, Oct 01. Web. 4 Oct. 2013
(5) “Moment of truth for GOP: Break away from Tea Party.” Editorial. The Boston Globe. 28 September 2013. Web. 4 Oct. 2013.
(6) Trumbull, Mark. “Government shutdown: How might this time be different from 1995?” The Christian Science Monitor.  2011, Apr 05. Web. 4 Oct. 2013.
(7) Usborne, David, US Editor. “Obamacare battle may trigger government shutdown; Republican attempts to derail planned healthcare reforms could provoke financial meltdown.” The Independent (London). September 21, 2013 Saturday. Web.  LexisNexis Academic. 4 Oct. 2013.