Archive | February 2020

Sometimes, things go right for Pangolins

People are kind of whipped up about Coronavirus, (nCovid19,  let’s just call it 19 for short). And it does kill people so it’s not unrealistic to be whipped up about it. It’s just if you take a step back, it’s a different view all together.

Close-up of a pangolin hunting for ants.

It’s an armored ant-eater.

For a start, think about the (suspected) origins of 19. A poor hunter-trapper in China (yep, like most nations, they still have poverty) goes out the wild and kills a pangolin (a rare, endangered creature). In China pangolin scales are used in tradition medicines, and the meat of the pangolin is considered a delicacy.

So the upshot here is an endangered creature died not because the poor man wanted to eat it, but because a rich person wanted a luxury delicacy. Not because the poor man was sick and wanted make a medicine, but because sick rich people will pay anything for anything if they think it will make them better.

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At least knitting will help your dad pass the time in quarantine.

Now that rich person gets sick, and goes to the doctor for medicine (more pangolin!). But in the meanwhile, that rich person makes a lot of poor and middle class people sick. And they can’t pay for care or medicine, so 19 spreads.

In addition, rich Chinese people can travel to other countries and rich foreign people are traveling to China. If some Americans can afford a cruise and get sick, they really shouldn’t be whining about being quarantined. They got a cruise out of it. It’s a sure bet they can afford good health care. That’s not the case for others Americans.

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Remember when Norovirus was the worst thing that could happen on a cruise?

If those cruisers bring a sickness back and spread it to their fellow citizens, it’s a huge problem. And this shows the weakness of both public health policy and preparedness, the utter lack of care rich people have for their country or fellow citizens’ well-being, and why not having national health is big deal.

If you want to be utterly honest about the cause of 19, rich people were the cause. The less income inequality a country has, the less disease it has. Pretty simple. And since wealthy people are actually the main drivers of pandemics, it seems fair to tax them appropriately, so there’s universal health care.

On a conservation level, there are not many pangolins on the planet. If people die of a pangolin-borne disease, it’s kind of “fair play.” You got what you deserved. Maybe don’t eat wild animals next time. It’s sad humans are dying of 19, but humans are 7 billion strong. Humans will be little impacted as a species.

Pangolin price per kilogram.

Chart Data Source: CNN.com, TRAFFIC, and IUCN

The rise of 19, and humans dying, is actually a big factor that helps Bernie Sanders.  If the US already had national health for everyone, 19 could be better controlled. But it doesn’t, so people will die.

Deaths are bad for the current administration. Layer on that the economy tanking as a result of the administration literally destroying all the things that would have prevented 19 spreading (Obamacare, Pandemic committees, international health funding), it’s not looking good for the GOP.

I’m personally ok with M4A. It’s good for our beloved elders, and our respected service members. Why is it not good for our children? Or our everyday working-age people? A lot of moderate and independent voters feel the same. The 2018 midterms proved this.

And there’s a host of Canadian, European and other immigrants from around the world who understand that national health works and is a benefit. Naturalized citizens will make up 10% of the 2020 electorate.  People tend to forget this but a lot of Latinx immigrant families als come from places where democratic socialism was a positive experience and working just fine till the US blew them up in favor of right wing dictators that were more “business” friendly.

Countries were the US engaged in “regime change”:

            1. Argentina
            2. Brazil
            3. Cuba
            4. Chile
            5. Costa Rica
            6. El Salvador
            7. Guatemala
            8. Nicaragua
            9. Panama
            10. Paraguay
            11. Peru
            12. Uruguay

People are not blind. They can see a host of democratic socialist countries in Europe which time and time again rate better than the US in education, in health care, wealth inequality, and just satisfaction and happiness. There’s clearly nothing wrong with democratic socialism. It works. It can work really well in conjunction with capitalism and religious liberty.

And the fact things can work so well, and we can all see it working well in other places, better than the current way of doing things here, will have an impact on the elections. I think it already has.  Nevada has a strong union built by a lot of immigrants who prioritize a strong health care plan. They could see the virtue of national health care. They voted for Sanders. Sanders is likely to continue derive a lot of support from health care priority voters.

There’s a lot of angst in the Democratic party about Bernie Sanders. I understand that, but clearly the party hasn’t – even now – thought what happened in 2016 through. In 2016 Russia supported Trump and Sanders, the two opposites. The majority of votes went to the center candidate, HRC. But due to the Electoral College, Trump got the tap.

The thing is, once you get a rise in extremism in one party, you tend to see a rise in the other side as well. It’s the natural response to restore balance. In many ways, Trump was an extreme reaction to Obama (who was a reaction to Bush and the GOP’s terrible economic and international polices).

The problem with people embracing extremes is that they are extreme. This often ends civil unrest if it goes on too long, which is why Russia loves promoting extremes.

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Sometimes, you gotta go Sand.

I’m not sure the answer to Trump’s house on fire capitalism is Bernie’s buckets of sand socialism. It may be. I don’t know. What I do know is that the Dems allowed Bernie to run as a Democrat in 2016 and then again allowed him to run for 2020 as a Democrat. Just like the Republicans allowed Trump to run as a Republican even though he’d been a long-time Democrat and they knew him to be totally unqualified.

Personally, I think parties should vet candidates. If they’re not qualified (Buttigeig), they shouldn’t be allowed to run for that party. If they don’t want to observe the party rules (Bloomberg) they shouldn’t be allowed to run for the nomination. If they aren’t a member of your party (Sanders), they shouldn’t be allowed to stand for that party. But, that’s just me.

Coming around to recent polling and voting and caucusing, it’s clear a majority of Dems are looking for a center candidate. It’s also clear the Dems have set things up in such a way that a non-Democrat, non-centrist is going to get the nomination. I’m not denying there’s progressive wing, but it’s hovering at 40%. The same sort of margin that got Trump the GOP nomination in 2016 because GOP for years had been actively destroying it’s own centrists via things like the Tea Party.

So I guess there’s a point at which, the tail wags the dog in every party? But only if the party let’s that happen. Only if the party allows itself to become unstable. And that happens when people are turned into factions progressive v moderate for example. In 2016, people didn’t turn out or voted third party because the campaign of Russia to create splits, political, racial, etc, so that Dems in 2016 didn’t vote. And that helped Trump and the GOP downballots.

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In a stable 4 legged dog, no matter how hard the tail wags, the dog doesn’t fall over.

Do I think there will be a contested convention? I’m not sure. It’s very possible. My current thinking is 19 has people thinking “My God, we need universal health care.” And That makes Bernie the best candidate. Will that be enough to lock down the delegates needed to secure the nomination? I don’t know.

Will the fact there’s a split going into a convention hurt the party and ultimately cause a repeat of 2016 suppressed Dem voting? I don’t know. I think there’s an opportunity still to reflect on the divisions and for the party to create a platform that no matter who is the nominee, the platform works for everyone.

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A candidate is just a train that gets you to the platform. It’s where you’re going that matters, not the train that gets you there.

There’s an interesting school of thought, which I don’t subscribe to, that talks about electability a lot. Basically, true blue Dems are saying unhappy independent and GOP voters are not likely to vote Bernie if it’s Bernie v Trump. I don’t think that’s true for a lot of reasons. I’m an independent centrist. My ranking choice vote is currently

  1. Klobuchar
  2. Sanders
  3. Warren
  4. Biden

I consider Pete, Steyer and Bloomberg total non-starters.

I’m considering voting Sanders on Super Tuesday even though I support and believe pragmatic centrist Klobuchar is the best choice. If the convention is contested, I don’t want my attachment to Amy to be seen as I’m wed to the moderate lane and that I’ll take a okay moderate over a very good progressive.

I’m comfortable with both the moderate and progressive wings. So there, stuff that in your pipe and smoke it, pundits!

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I don’t care what kind of pipe of you smoke or what you put in it. A candidate is a candidate, but a president is one that wins.

Another thing Dems should be thinking about, but clearly aren’t, is the white vote. The GOP courts the white vote exclusively. It really does.  I know that sounds weird but Pew Research did a thing on the 2016 turn out and, basically, 73% of the vote was white as reported by people who voted.

If Trump got 48% of the vote, and it was 99% white, that’s saying the Democrats had a problem with white voters. Dems sort of recouped in 2018 with the strong health care message. But if they plan to keep white voters in their lane, healthcare, health care, Health Care.

I really think Dems should be beating the drum for healthcare, especially in the face of 19. Especially because people can see what not having real policy and qualified people in place, or real universal health care, does to a country, to a world. Given the timing of 19’s spread to the US, that puts Bernie’s M4A message out in the front.

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Canada once had a democratic socialist premier, Tommy Douglas (father of Donald Sutherland, grandfather of Keifer Sutherland). His cabinet was the first democratic socialist government in North America and it introduced the continent’s first single-payeruniversal health care program, commonly known as Medicare, in 1962.

I think we can all agree, after almost 60 years, Canada hasn’t gone to the dogs. Our Canadians friends have a pretty good life. They have all the things we have, but they have good quality, affordable healthcare. And that came as a result of electing a democratic socialist.

So, should we be scared of electing a democratic socialist? I think we should be more afraid of being 57 years behind Canada.

And eating pangolins.

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on February 28, 2020.

Sure. I’ll say it.

I wish that primary season equally divided states in to blocks so candidates could retail all states. The OMB divides the US into 10 regions. I think 10 primary days based on the regions would help the process of picking candidates.

At this point, both parties are helicopter parties. Candidates fly in, say some sound bites to try and get some votes, and fly away. But what real work was done on the ground? Nothing.

People ask what’s relevant about early states. It’s that real people meet real people candidates and go “Oh, that’s not who I thought they were.” That’s why Bloomberg avoided those states, and why Biden has done so badly. The reality of who people are in the flesh matters.

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I get so sick of people talking about electability, as if a presidential candidate was a pair of shoes that have to be made attractive to a mass of consumers. But let’s run with that metaphor and why it’s such a bad idea. When you walk into a shoe place, you already know what kind of shoes you’re looking for. No one walks in thinking, I just want to look at shoes. You walk in thinking, I need work boots, or sandals for the beach, or heels for that night out. You walk in thinking about what you need them for.

 

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Looking for one that fits juuuuust right.

Candidates are the same as shoes. Most people know what they’re looking for. They know what they need from the shoes, they’re just looking for the right fit and style. But the need is the reason for the shoe. Parties are formed on the basis of ideas. Do they work? Do they not work?

Parties have to work at ground level with people, reaching out at the community level. Showing the ideas work on the micro, so that people can believe they will work on the macro. It’s called laying a foundation of belief. If you don’t think the shoe can do the job you need it to do, why look at it. So, that in mind, let’s talk candidates and the recent debate.

Steyer. Nice guy. He’s obeyed all the rules. He’s been in it to win it since the beginning. I really like him. Seems like a good guy. I appreciate his passion on the climate change issue. He’s got no other issues. He’s not going anywhere. Drop out, support another campaign.

Biden. Biden is a great guy, I think he’s past his sell by date. If you want to go retro, maybe he’s your choice. But I think part of the problem with both parties, is they want to live in the past. They’re using the word moderate or conservative in place of the word fantasist.

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Dreamy Joe, great race horse. Not a great president.

They’re avoiding the now, and the future. They are trying to engage people, not in visions of how to engineer good government for the great good of all American, but in maladaptive fantasies. The problem with fantasies is that they don’t solve anything. You have to be awake to the reality and willing to do the work to make now and the future better.

Personally I don’t buy the Biden fantasy.

Warren. The most recent debate made me realise how much she’s out of touch. People on the Progressive Left are saying she did well in the debate and tore Bloomberg apart. But I’m not sure they were actually paying attention.

She asked Bloomberg about NDAs he’d made with women he’d made sexist remarks to or about and then asked how someone like that was electable. OMG! The reason Bloomberg didn’t reply was because just such a person was elected and is sitting in the white house now.

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He gets it. Warren didn’t.

This total blindness to reality on Warren’s part has made me see how unfit for office Warren actually is.

Bloomberg. We have in Bloomberg an old, white, rich, Republican male, New Yorker who’s actions with women are really shameful. In other words, he is Donald Trump. Do we really need to elect the same person, again?

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Please, go away.

Bloomberg is a Republican.  He became an Independent in 2001. And in 2018, I guess when he decided to run, he became a Democrat. Let’s be clear, he’s not a Democrat. He’s still a Republican. How do I know? He’s made it a point to use his wealth to avoid all the rules and hard work and retail politics that got the other candidates where they are.

I wouldn’t vote for him. What would be the point? He’s Donald Trump.

Bernie. I like Bernie, but he’s not a Democrat either. He’s a registered Independent, that’s a socialist, who in Congress caucuses with the Democrats. I don’t have a problem with socialists. I’d vote for a socialist. But I don’t think he should be running for office as a Democrat.

Do I think he’ll be the nominee? Not really. He doesn’t do well with people of color which are the back bone of the Democratic party. His message is M4A. And frankly, while I think that’s a wonderful idea,  M4A will cause a lot of people to lose their jobs. And he doesn’t talk about that.

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What if YOUR job is the egg?

He talks about billions in savings by eliminating redundancy. I’m sure that could be true. But by the same token, goodbye to the health insurance agents, brokers, call center and claim workers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor the number of life and health insurers in 2018 was 870,600 workers.

Buttigeig. He’s a liberal Trump. Whatever you want to hear, he’ll tell you. He’s a hit with old white moderate voters. But he ran for the DNC chair in 2017 as a young hip progressive and said the moderates needed to get out the way. You may think you know Pete, but … you don’t know Pete.

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It’s easy to spot the bad one, if  you look.

I wouldn’t vote for him if he got the nomination. It’d just be trading one bad apple for another.

Klobuchar. I still think she’s the best moderate candidate. She has the best chance of reaching the block you need to win, white men without college educations. They vote. The Democratic party ignores them. She doesn’t. She’s from blue-collar pro-union territory. She gets it.

The problem I have with her messaging is that she keeps saying she can unite the country. She thinks there’s a possibility of a non-zero sum game.

I wonder if she understands that people don’t want to be united. They say they do, but they don’t mean it.

People think the point of talking is to win the other side over to their point of view 100%, not reach a consensus. This is stupid. But people are so invested in the “rightness” of their point of view that questioning that viewpoint is viewed as treason and asking them to consider modifying that viewpoint is equivalent to asking for their soul.

It’s very extreme, and utterly ridiculous. But it’s real. It’s reality. You have two sides that both want to be right. At any cost. So, you can’t unite the country, because it doesn’t want to be united. And pitching yourself as the uniter is not a good idea.  You need to be a fighter, not a uniter.

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The GOP has already proved it only wants to be obstructionist in or out of power. It’s playing a zero sum game. You can’t reach consensus without the other side consenting. So, if one side sees the game as zero sum, there is no game. It’s a war. Because the only way one side will achieve total victory in a zero sum game, is if the other side is obliterated from the game.

You may find this analysis a bit bleak. It’s not meant to be. It’s simply to say, face the reality. Figure out what kind of game you want the nation to play.  The founders believed in compromise and consensus. Ask yourself what kind of shoes you’re really looking for. A flash pair you can wear once, or something that will take you everywhere that’s going to be there for you every day, with arch support. And if you want to change the world, get out in it, listen to people when they talk, build bridges by pressing some actual flesh (in an always respectful, appropriate way).

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on February 21, 2020.

Remembrance

Monday was Holocaust Remembrance Day and today is the anniversary of the Civil Rights Era lunch counter sit-in. It’s also the week we travel banned another six countries, all nations of color or majority Muslim, while a POTUS’s defense for his self-admitted criminal actions was “America is not a democracy or a republic, but a dictatorship where a president can do what a president wants, because that person is the president.”

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A friend said to me, with genuine bewilderment, “I just don’t understand how they ended up there.” What she meant was, how rational, normal people ended up murdering 6 million of their friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc in unspeakable ways.

“Really?” I said. “It’s pretty simple.”

It typically starts with a segment of society feeling as though they’re economically disadvantaged and socially disregarded. And those are often aren’t just feelings. It’s typically true. They are totally correct.  Social disregard for those suffering economic inequality within a society can become a catalyst for change (the Civil Rights Movement) or morph into a corrosive toxin (a Nazi dictatorship).

Which direction nations end up going generally has to do with just one thing in the Western world. How Christian people go about looking for answers.

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When Christian people look for answers by examining their own hearts and lives, then look critically at their society and government, they make personal changes and they work to make societal and political changes. That’s how you get a democracy that grows and changes, but remains true to its tenets. That’s how you ended up with a cell phone, instead of phone box on the corner.

On the other hand, if Christian people aren’t open to looking at their own lives, society, and style of government, they look instead for someone else to blame.  That’s how you get to Nazis. Specifically, they look for someone, a single white man, who will them:

“You don’t have to change. It’s not you. There’s nothing wrong with our capitalism or democracy. It’s certain people in our society, who don’t belong here, are controlling those mechanisms, and certain other nations that are against us and holding us back. And if you elect me, I’ll get rid of those people and deal with those nations. Your lives will get better. And you won’t have to do anything except vote for me. I’m the answer.”

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Most cults aren’t this obvious.

That’s how people become invested in dictators and surrender all their power to what is actually a cult leader. Some groups of people are more prone to doing this than others. In a sense, if you belong to a religion, it’s most likely because you believe that religion has all the answers and if you just do what you’re told, all will be well. You’re already in a cult, so a would be dictator can basically just tap into that mentality.

I’m not against religion. I’m a practicing Christian. But there are people who don’t think about their religion. They don’t treat the sacred text they read as wisdom, which can be applied to all situations. They treat it as dead letter law to be obeyed. They let other people tell them what it says. They give up their own power to decided what it says, what it means, how it should be applied in a new situation, and just blindly obey the people in charge.

The Reformation was an attempt to break from this “I’ll tell you ignorant people what’s good for you” thinking and kicked off the trend to democracy. Once Guttenburg printed a Bible, people could read what Jesus said for themselves. And things changed. They ditched the community phone box because they got themselves a direct line to God. In reality, the line was always there and free. But the people making pay-to-call phone boxes benefited from keeping people in the dark about that.

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Why do people today choose to to let others think and decide for them? They do this because they hope to get something out of it, hopefully a reward and, if not, at least the chance to escape punishment by claiming: “I only did what I was told.” Is any of this sounding familiar to you?

Sometimes I ask people to describe a Nazi. They often say, Germans. It’s a blanket term. People use it because it covers up a “far too close to home” reality they don’t want to face. People don’t want to look at the people who were closing the gas chamber doors and admit the hard truth, “Yep, those are white people who’ve embraced nationalism and racism, who go to church every Sunday and consider themselves devoted Christians.”

Before you write me in anger, check that rage. I’m from a German Catholic Christian family. My family members were flying over the Rhine dropping bombs on Nazis. And, my more distant family members were in Germany being killed by those bombs. If you think I don’t know what I’m talking about, sadly, you’d be mistaken. But back to what I was talking about…..

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Next time you walk into your church (if you’re white and go to church), look around and imagine those white people all wearing Nazi uniforms. Because that’s what you would have seen a church in Germany during WWII. Imagine the man singing a hymn praising God next to you had been shoving people in a gas chamber all week. Because that’s what your reality would have been.

Real people did those unspeakable things. Not generic “Nazis”. And those real people that did those real unspeakable things were all white and all Christians. It freaks people out when I say things like this, but I say them because they are true. Because it’s important to the world, to Christianity, to humanity, that we acknowledge this is the central truth. I don’t care if these things are hard. Woman-up and look at the truth.

Nazi uniform belt buckles were emblazoned with a logo that said God with us. They considered themselves a Christian army for a Christian nation. They were taking back Germany from the subversives and free thinkers. Nazi ideas included a Reich that would last 1000 years.  Do you know where that idea of 1000 year reign come from? Straight from the Bible, from the 1000 years Christ is supposed to reign on earth.

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So why bring all this up? I bring it up because true Christianity forbids racism and nationalism. The Bible calls all nations grass and all people dust. When you come to Christ, you still have a nationality, but it’s not important. You’re not a higher form of Christian because you’re white, or English, or protestant, or whatever. Whatever you are, those are just part of your tool kit for Christ.

Paul considered his Roman citizenship a tool. It was something he could lean on to get to Rome, to get heard, to spread the Gospel. He knew his citizenship conferred certain advantages, but he didn’t consider that to mean he should use them to oppress others, or that was better than other people, other Jews, other Christians, other pagans. A lot of people claiming to be Christians have totally forgotten this.

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Nationalism and racism can’t get a toehold if your Christianity is true. Once you cross over, and engage with nationalism and racism, you’re the gas chamber guy, singing in the church. You might think you’re a Christian, but Christ calls you a goat. You’re with the flock, but your “Just following orders” defense doesn’t fly with Jesus, whose orders you should have obeyed, and you get separated out for a different fate in the end.

One of the reasons dictators and their minions are so keen to be seen as Christian, is to corrupt Christianity.  If you can’t corrupt Christianity, you can’t make nationalism and racism, and all the other bad -isms, fly. If you can’t get people to bite hard on nationalism and racism, you can’t take over and become an authoritarian state. People who adhere to true Christianity fight you. That’s what it came down to in the end, in the 1940s. Real Christians saw nazism for what it was, an anti-Christian, authoritarian dictatorship run by a crazy person hell-bent on destroying the world.

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I’d like to say Christians today are wise to this tendency of politicians. You’d think they would be. But I think they’ve forgotten what the Founders knew all to well. The Founders remembered the Crusades, the 100 years war, the English Civil war, the endless problems that happened when government got their hands on religion and vice versa. So they wrote a Constitution to protect America from going down that road and hoped it would be a light for other nations still mired in such darkness.

I’d like to say that people who get swept up in bad Christianity that turns into an evil government eventually dig themselves out of that mind set. I’d like to say people eventually woke up to the Nazi movement. That they voted Hitler out of office before things got too bad. That they understood they’d taken a wrong turn and turned back. That they vilified the nationalism, racism, authoritarianism, etc that they once embraced.

Yes, I’d like to say that. But they never did. So I can’t. It took a world war with a lot of bombs, bullets and battles to stop the cult of the Nazis. And after that came the public trials and hangings. And still some people went on quietly clinging to their nazi beliefs, unable to see the irrational nature of their acts, unable to see the utter refutation of Christ’s message in what they did, unable to look in the mirror and accept the truth of themselves as murderers, dupes, co-conspirators, liars, thieves.

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Sometimes individual people wake up and walk away from a cult. It does happen now and then. They know they’ve lost years of their lives, money, family relationships, but they at least get to live out the rest of their days free. Free to rebuild, and maybe restore and reconnect. Sometimes even go back and save someone else, or witness the truth to the world as a warning.

Sometimes a whole group of people leave a cult all at once. Seventh Day Adventists in the 1840s were convinced they knew the exact date of Jesus’s return to earth. Some Baptist pastor, William Miller, had calculated the date based on some wildly weird theological interpretation. Bad Christianity. Bad theology. But he was a pastor, so…. the flock bought into this idea— even though they could read for themselves in the Bible that Jesus said, “I don’t know when I’ll be back, no man knows that. Only the Father.”

William Miller

Baptist Pastor Miller

If you read the newspapers of the day, you’ll discover that thousands of believers sold up all the possessions and gave away their money. Loads of good “Christian” people bought into this totally obviously anti-Christian teaching.  And what happened? These people ended up standing a field, with Jesus a no show. You’d think this would teach them something. But ….

Even though many people walked away at that point, some didn’t. Why? Because Pastor Miller said he made an error, the day of Jesus’ return was actually a little further off. And people believed this. They’d already given up everything on the basis of this idea. They had nothing to go back to. They didn’t want to seem stupid…..ummm, yeah.

Not really a clear mathematical explanation.

So they continued this journey of madness. They continued to buy into the idea this clearly wrong pastor was right, and by extension they were all right and the world was wrong. They would be saved. The world and the worldly would perish. They convinced themselves that this pastor was right and that Jesus himself was a liar. And they ended up standing on a hill…. alone again, naturally.

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I think I see Jesus. Do you see Jesus? Crap. Not again.

At that point the SDA church shrunk dramatically. It still exists today. It’s theology on Jesus’ return has shifted, a lot. But they still exist. Now they’re into prophets who teach vegetarianism and focus on going to church on Saturday. Although now they teach the Roman Catholic Church is the devil. Because there still has to be an enemy. A them, to keep the us viable.

 

They think the Catholic church will someday persecute them for their “sabbath-keeping” and try to take over the world and force them to worship on Sunday. They think they’ll be stamped with a number, like a brand, and be subject to death camps. That in the end only 144K will be left and they’ll be swept into the clouds when Jesus comes, but all the Catholics will burn in hell. So there’s that.

I have to say, being left on a mountain, broke and disabused of your notions of immediate salvation, was still not a bad outcome. It beats everyone ending up dead in a jungle, a la Jim Jones. A US Senator, California Democrat Leo Ryan — back when senators cared about American people — went to Jones compound in South America to see what was happening — at just the wrong time. He ended up assassinated.

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How the majority of followers left the Jim Jones cult, in body bags.

After that, Jones had his followers drink poison. Some drank the poison freely. Others were forced to drink it (men, women, and little children). 909 people died. Even that horrible outcome is better than a cult grown so strong that it takes a world war to stop it. Which is why nations should do all they can to avoid going down that well-worn garden path. It doesn’t end well. It’s also why white Christians should be especially leery of anyone pitching them nationalism and racism as a cure,while hacking at the knees of their democracy.

A lot of white Christian people in the US want to believe that things are normal. They want to believe it because then they don’t want to face the reality. They’ve sold out Christ and his teachings. They’ve followed pastors with strange theologies. They’ve elected a dictator. They’ve betrayed democracy. It was all accidental. It was all incremental. But that’s what happened. That’s where they’ve ended up. But there’s still time to change, to fix it, to come back to Christ.

Many Christians want to believe they’re at the forefront fighting back the dark forces. They like the Marvel Hero aspect of Christianity. But they’ve got the wrong end of the stick. The dark forces aren’t Muslims, people of color, gay people, abortion, or secularism. The dark forces are those that corrupt Christianity, and makes Christians into mindless minions that gleefully spring to the defense of all that is anti-Christ — authoritarianism, nationalism, racism, and unrestrained unethical godless capitalism.

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Sorry, Christian, this is not you.

I get that some Christians are unhappy with society.  But that’s because they really don’t understand the game plan Jesus laid out. They don’t read or maybe don’t believe what Jesus actually said (a la Adventists). Christians forget they are always going to be in the minority. The yeast or the salt, not the wheat of the loaf. Jesus says this. You’re never the majority, the rich, or the politically powerful.

When God sends you strangers, there’s your opportunity to spread love, spread the Gospel. If instead you’re thinking, “Wow, this may be bad for me. I may lose money. The town won’t be white anymore” Uh, maybe your view of God is too small? Maybe God is giving you a chance to grow? Maybe God is asking you to change? Maybe “these people” have something to teach you about Christ?

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This is you. Tiny, but potent in the mix.

When you close your borders to even those that need asylum? What is the God — who sent the Israelites to Egypt for asylum, and still blesses Egypt today because of this — to do with you except utter a curse upon you? Maybe instead of thinking, “Wow, too many Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc.” You should be thinking, “Wow, I don’t have to go to the mission field, God has sent it to me. I can show the love of Christ to the world, right in my own town.”

White Christians in ancient Ireland took over the government. Trust me, it didn’t work out. God got so fed up he sent the Vikings to disabuse them of their weird theology and strange “Christian” notions. As a grace, he sent those white Christians as slaves to foreign, pagan, white people lands to discover true Christianity for themselves and spread the reality of Christ’s teaching. Hard lessons all round.

Jesus could have taken over the world, he chose not to. He could have crowned himself king, he didn’t want to go that route. What route did he want his followers to go? He left his life as an example. People forget that. Jesus died broke and alone, a humiliating death for a crime he didn’t commit, and they don’t want to end up like that! Christians choose to forget Jesus’s life, and his death, because the reality of it crashes through their cozy, safe, American prosperity theology.

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Corrie Ten Boom

People want to forget what happened in WWII for the same reasons. Some people even want to deny it happened. It happened. Millions of innocent Jewish people died. And there were other groups that died as well. Gay people got gassed. People of color, ie Gypsies, too. The handicapped? A burden on the state. And let’s not forget that many true Christians, priest, nuns, pastors, humble lay people (like Corrie Ten Boom), all ended up in the camps and many of whom also died.

True Christians, who spoke out against the Nazis, were murdered in the camps along with the Jewish people. So yeah, when I see white Christian people embracing a authoritarian leader who’s selling nationalism, who encourages racism, who hates gay people, and …. Yeah, I see a whole bunch of  white Christian people heading down the garden path of nazism. And I pray for them and I work to change things.

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Warning, this path looks nice but ends really badly.

You may think I’m over reacting. Nope.  Right now, today, we have GOP Senators who are about to vote to acquit a POTUS of crimes they all acknowledge he committed. Their defense for this is saying that America is not a democracy but an authoritarian state. That’s right.

They say a POTUS can’t commit a crime because he’s the POTUS. That’s absurd. We all know it. The only place that’s true is a dictatorship. And if that’s what the senators think, and that’s what they plan to support, then they are selling out democracy in favor of making the US a dictatorship with the GOP temporarily in charge.

And, no one has said this, but I will, if they acquit this POTUS of these crimes, do you understand that the next day, that POTUS can call Ukraine and demand an investigation of the Bidens, while withholding congressional approved aid indefinitely till they do? Because the GOP senate will have approved the idea that’s okay, that’s legal.

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Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time.

Then the POTUS could call Johnson in the UK and say, No, sorry. No trade deal till you investigate Bernie Sanders and creates some dirt on Warren? Then he could call China and tell Xi, unless I get a Trump tower in Beijing, I’m dumping the trade deal. And then he could call Putin and say, hey, I need you to interfere in the election on my behalf and in return, I’ll give you …. all our state secrets.

And all of that would be legal because the GOP senators failed to protect the nation by removing the POTUS for his self-confessed crimes. If GOP senators vote to acquit the POTUS of his crimes, in essence they are declaring America is now an dictatorship. And if they do that, they are supporting a POTUS, the same way a cadre of men supported Hitler’s rise and the turning of democratic Germany into a dictatorship.

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Dictatorship. Not the right neighborhood for you? 

And, dictatorships don’t end well for anyone. Have a peak at Venezuela or Syria. You think those nations are in great shape? The GOP senators are claiming they don’t want to overturn the votes of 45 million people. But 48 million people didn’t vote for the POTUS. So what they are saying is their afraid they’ll be turved out office by the shrinking GOP base that they turned into rabid POTUS supporters instead of reasoned GOP supporters.

 

Frankly, removing the POTUS just means he’s replaced with the Republican VP. There’s no overturning of any votes. The GOP would continue to hold the White House and the Senate. There is no change there. No, what the GOP senators and others are concerned about is losing their own power, their own seats. They think Mike Pence isn’t a good bet for them personally. He’s not going to excite the base.

Let’s be honest, Pence is there to reassure white Christians this is an administration that keeps white Christian desires top of deck. And that, white Christians need to keep voting for the GOP to keep that true. On the other hand, the POTUS is like the Joker, crazy, but good for turn out. So, the impeachment trial outcome has nothing to do with democracy or justice. The outcome is based purely on the GOP Senators own self-interest.

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Karma. Not everyone gets it. But everyone gets it.

But ask yourself, what happens once the Democrats take the White House? Now that the GOP has said there can be no checks on the Executive branch? Are they ready for that? Will they complain about autocracy and dictatorship when it Dems are in office? I’m not sure why they would. They’ll be the ones that created that situation. They’ll be the ones the reshaped America from a democracy to an autocracy in the mad belief that they would be able to endlessly manipulate the law, the government, and the white Christians and cling to power.

White Christians are sewing the destruction of the world, of themselves, of the very faith they claim they own. They may not know it yet. They may not understand it. Or worse, they simply may not care. So long as they’re getting what they want (not what God actually wants, but what some twisted theologian they follow wants), who cares?

It’s amazing how giving people a veneer of power and status along with some money , makes otherwise sane people okay with stuff they would always have, in the past, risen up against. (This is where economically disadvantaged and socially disregarded people become oligarchs. )

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I’m not okay with the corruption of Christianity by nationalist, racist authoritarians. A vote for nationalism and racism, is a vote for a dictator and against Christ and his teachings. A vote for a senator or congressperson or anyone that’s nodding their head to America First nationalism, to racism, and the authoritarianism for which it stands….is a vote for becoming a Nazi state.

I don’t care what party is promoting these corrupt ideas, they’re anti-Christ. If you support them, you’ve left Christ. You’ve chosen a new god. That’s how this works. You accept nationalism and racism, you’re corrupting your Christianity and replacing Jesus with an authoritarian dictator. If that bothers you, turn back. God is waiting.

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It’s no coincidence there’s been a rise in hate crimes against Jewish people the past few years. That Jewish people are being murdered even as they worship in peace is not a surprise. What did people think would happen? Not just to Jews, but Muslims, people of color, LGBTQ people, disabled people, old people, migratory birds… there’s no bottom to this Moria. The GOP just keeps digging. And white Christians keep handing them the shovels.

Where do people think this will end if they don’t stop it? I already know. I wish I didn’t, but I do. I can never forget.

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