The Good, The Bad And The Ridiculous

By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

I read a snippet this week from some dolt who insisted that the concept of separation of church and state was a liberal subversion of the founders’ intent. I read a similar comment decades ago and laughed it off as the meandering of a theocratic, not to mention deluded, mind. This would affirm, given the issues of the day, that Goebbels was right when he said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” At this point in history, you can’t separate church from state with a crowbar.


Let’s start with the bad and the ridiculous, and save the good as balance, shall we? This week, 21-year old Dylann Roof attempted to kick-start a race war with a massacre in one of the oldest black churches in the nation, South Carolina’s Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. One must have a darkened heart to sit among people you plan to murder for more than an hour and not be moved to compassion. Dylann told the police that he almost changed his mind because “everyone was so nice to him,” but ultimately decided to go ahead with his murderous “mission.” That mission put him in the league of so many of the young white terrorists we suffer with a yawn these days. And I’m reminded that this is why we fight wars with kids his age: their brains have not matured much beyond — forgive me — point and shoot mentality.

Announcing that he had to do it because blacks were taking over the country and raping white women, Roof stopped to reload five times as he gunned down two men and seven women ranging in age from 26 to 87 who were studying the Bible in the church sanctuary. The parishioners were, perhaps, collateral to the main target, the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, an African-American state senator, which makes this not just tragedy but a political assassination. Be assured that the Confederate flag, which flies over the South Carolina state house, was not lowered to half mast, although a black cloth was spread across the senator’s desk.

While speculation about Roof’s mental health continues to rumble, media-wide, at this writing I’ve not heard a single pundit call the kid “a thug.” Being a racist does not make you crazy, but if you’re a racist and you are mentally disturbed, you are a ticking time bomb, destined to explode somewhere. Racism MUST be called out as an unacceptable factor contributing to this form of home-grown terrorism. We will have to wait and see how this youngster’s mental health shakes out. Meanwhile, I appreciated this snip from a piece by HuffPost reporter, Julie Craven: “Racism is not a mental illness. Unlike actual mental illnesses, it is taught and instilled. Mental illness was not the state policy of South Carolina, or any state for that matter, for hundreds of years — racism was.”

And wouldn’t ya know! It took FOX News just moments to put on their blinders and turn what was obviously a racial hate crime into proof that Christianity was being targeted in these evil Gawdless times. Wee Lindsey Graham was first in line to proclaim this bit of chicanery, followed quickly by Santorum and others, insisting that this was an assault on faith, nothing racist about it. I’ll let Larry Wilmore from the Nightly Show rebut that bit of nonsense, and soundly. I know it’s difficult — scary even — to jump off the fundamentalist propaganda train when it’s moving this fast but PLEASE! With all the white churches in the area, Dylann Roof chose the one most historically serving people of color? The kid with the apartheid patches on his jacket and confession that his intent was to incite a race war, Helter Skelter fashion, simply trumps any self-pitying rhetoric about long-suffering Christianity.

Let’s not forget that the NRA and FOX are dance partners, keeping step with one another. If the good Reverend Pinckney had been armed, doncha know, he would still be alive today. THAT is something the founders meant, as well — that each of us would become gun-slingers in the name of liberty and justice for all. NOT! This is just another chapter in the nihilism and self-hatred that grip the world as it faces its own darkness, gun in hand.

The egregiousness of this event — dished up cold to a horrified public — has potential to be a game-changer that begins a dialogue about our common humanity as opposed to our splintered ideologies. Certainly there can be no waffling about what was meant, even if FOX wants to thump its Bible (when convenient) and distract from the obvious. Few of us who have, ourselves, sat in a sanctuary — designed as a place of safety and solace — can accept this kind of event without allowing it to be personal.

Speaking of what trumps what, self-proclaimed billionaire Donald Trump effectively constitutes the ridiculous. Peopling his audience with hired extras at $50 a head, Donald Trump and his comb-over announced their intention to join the Republican circus train as a candidate for president this week. His fortune puts him in the fiscal stratosphere of the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson, but his ego has him yearning for the spotlight, and this week, he got one.

I’m overjoyed for Jon Stewart, who has dreamed of such comic fodder for years and has, roughly, five more weeks to enjoy it. Here is Jon’s enthused initial response. Aptly mocking Donald’s rambling and largely irrelevant speech on Monday, here’s a rambling Stephen Colbert — mid-reinvention as late night host in the fall — sporting his own comb-over. Even the Democratic National Committee took a jab at Donald, with a statement that “He adds some much-needed seriousness that has previously been lacking from the GOP field, and we look forward hearing more about his ideas for the nation.”

It should be evident to those looking on from the reality-base that there is no serious threat in Trump’s ambitions, but these things don’t seem so clear to us all: polls show him among the top 10 Republican candidates, ensuring him a place at the debate podium. One polled conservative said he’d vote for him because he “knew how to fire people.” Now that capitalism has morphed with approval from Gawd Himself, thanks to decades of televangelist rhetoric, we can’t discount Trump’s political ascendency, based on his bank balance alone. Although this absurdity does not reflect the original church/state argument at the top of the page, let’s remember that the Almighty Greenback is actually America’s religion, with those who know how to wring cash from a stone its admired and respected High Priests.

Trump has suggested that he’d like Oprah as his VP — sure they’d be a shoo-in — but Ms. O has not returned the compliment. At this point, the only female face beaming his way is that of Sarah Palin, who would, it seems apparent, happily throw the evangelical base under the bus to take another shot at the White House. Opportunistic, self-centered snake oil sales-staff, both, they would be perfectly paired on the con artist ticket, although if both spoke at the same event — dueling word salads — our heads would likely explode!

Largely ignoring the usual suspects, Trump took exception to those who criticized his announcement over at FOX, perhaps miffed that he did not receive their support. He directed much of his ire at conservative talking head, Charles Krauthammer. Krauthammer, paralyzed in an accident in his youth, annoyed Donald by saying his most important campaign revelation was the statement that “I am rich,” and that his running diminished the stature of more serious Pub candidates. The very rich wanna-be leader of the free world told “Fox and Friends” that Krauthammer was a “loser” who did nothing but “sit there” (in his wheelchair) and behave like a “jerk.”

Consider this as stunning a faux pax as when our Dubby waved hello to Stevie Wonder, or when the vice prez blessed the heart of the Irish Prime Minister’s dearly departed mother, who hadn’t yet departed — but not nearly as innocent. We can chalk it up to the buffoonery of an inflated ego, unexamined in the mirror (obviously, think hair). Frankly, Trump’s announcement does not bode well for Chris Christy. It seems evident we can only support one blowhard of this decibel per election.

And should Trump’s mojo last until the debates, where he can strut and blow and raise questions that others in his party would like to avoid, there might even be a shift in perception among the party faithful, watching the hopefuls stumble over their clown shoes or tweak one another on their big red noses. Trump fancies himself a politician, but he doesn’t have the couth to know what to avoid and when. This could play out nicely among the candidates and their audience.

Now, lest you think all the news a fright, there was an extraordinary event, news of which was — in this country — occulted by the Charleston shooting. It’s Fathers Day weekend, and while three men captured our attention this week, only one attempted to meet the larger concept of that title. The one they call Il Papa issued an encyclical in which, wrote Charles Pierce for Esquire magazine, “Pope Francis called out the world” (on climate change).

Here’s a YouTube created by a Brazilian climate action group that you will want to watch (probably more than once) because it will amuse, but also because it breaks through the walls of religious hierarchy and the traditional pomp of Catholicism. Imagine the possibilities! This was passed around happily, rather than written by the Onion and shared as snark, as anything starring Ratzinger would have been.

You will want to read the Esquire piece if you haven’t seen the leaked encyclical, skimming the best bits of 184 pages, as Francis takes to task climate deniers, plutocrats, politicians “and anyone else who marinates in apathy while the crisis first overwhelms the poorest of the poor, as most crises usually do.” While the Pope and I do not agree on many things, I find there are, surprisingly, many we do agree on, and in this instance, he is well named “Father” as he urges nurture and dedication to — as he quoted St. Francis of Assisi — “our Sister, Mother Earth.”

This Thursday, the Sun infused with cosmic intent as it opposed the Galactic Core, Pope Francis told the world that climate change is the Earth’s way of protesting “irresponsible use and abuse of the goods that God placed in her.” He acknowledged her personhood, opened the way to a more nuanced and complex way of perceiving the planet as self-protecting, self-aware. Those are Pagan concepts, my friend. Ancient concepts that revere Goddess. No matter what his church continues to put forth as cultural absolutes, this is a man who came to change the conversation.

In Fe’s piece last week, An Inconvenient Pope, some of us offered our concerns about the traditional iron fist of the Catholic church, both its history and its future potential. But at least for the moment, it seems evident that its leader is a man of heart and intellect, a surprising combination of both science and faith. A true Jesuit, practicing humility. Given that, you won’t be surprised to find that a pundit on FOX News deemed him “the most dangerous person on the planet.” And although token-liberal Juan Williams jumped in to defend the Pope’s appreciation for “God’s green earth,” the pundit’s earlier take on the leaked encyclical perfectly fleshes out the smack-down in conservative consciousness between the evolving Catholic position and the Lord Almighty Greenback: “All he [Francis] needs is dreadlocks and a dog with a bandana and he could be on Occupy Wall Street.”

Bandana? Hippy nonsense to frighten the conservative children. Francis has a very astute and nuanced view of our problems, including a cool appraisal of Neoliberalism — marked by deregulation and privatization — which considers everyone and everything a market awaiting plunder. The following statement does not endear him to the political right or any others who remain faithful to old paradigm commerce. What would a Congress embattled over TPP, for instance, say to a man who tells them, “We need to reject a magical conception of the market, which would suggest that the problems can be solved simply by an increase in the profits of companies or individuals.”

Of course, the majority of those for whom Francis is spiritual leader are not the ones who are plundering Gaia or taking lethal advantage of her resources. Still, this encyclical has the ability to change the zeitgeist. The block of religious-right voters who have led us a merry dance for well  over a decade consists of a wary alliance between southern evangelicals and northern Catholics. Should the Catholics change their way of looking at environmental science and grasp the importance of putting ethical necessity and stewardship above consumer growth, everything could change rather quickly.

There is more to that Goebbels quote about repeating lies to blindside the public. It finishes:

“The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

As difficult and dark as is this time, as fractured and faltering as are our systems, as vulnerable as we feel in a nation gone unstable and a world at odds with itself, we can celebrate progress in that “the lie” can no longer be maintained. If voices are being raised against one another, that means the thin veneer of falsehood that existed before has vanished and we’re getting to the heart of it. If the conversation suddenly contains glimmers of truth, shining in the darkness, then know we’re moving toward evolution. This grand experiment is well under way.

Not to be forgotten, Happy Day to you Dads, out there — and so many of you Moms who took on those responsibilities as well. Nurturing and assisting one another, no matter the title we assume, is why we came. May Sunday be a day to appreciate those who have contributed to our welbeing over our lifetime. And, bizarre weather patterns not withstanding, Good Solstice to us all!

10 thoughts on “The Good, The Bad And The Ridiculous

  1. Barbara Koehler

    Only you Jude, can bring us a smile in the midst of upheaval. Bless you for that. Societies meander between stability and instability and we astrology buffs watch that through the cycles and symbolism of Jupiter and Saturn. Those cycles last about 20 years and the present one began in the most stable of signs, Taurus. However, this cycle that started in 2000 and symbolizes societies in general was squared by Uranus in Aquarius, a most de-stabilizing factor. Who knew what would come of it. Well, now we know.

    Jupiter symbolizes multiple things including religion (for one) and expansion (for another). The sign Taurus deals with fundamentals. Saturn on the other hand symbolizes restriction sometimes and structure at other times. Taurus deals with building things. You say Jude, that this egregious event could be a “game changer” and astrology is betting on you being right.

    Fast forward from 2000 to this past Tuesday’s New Moon in Gemini, the last one under the auspices of the Spring Equinox (which featured Saturn in a grand fire trine and Jupiter at the point of a yod with Pluto sextile Mercury.) (The Spring Equinox also featured a conjunction between Eris /discord and Mars/anger that has “triggered” the U.S. Sibly Neptune-square-Mars aspect).

    Charleston’s massacre was a product of Tuesday’s New Moon which was square Chiron and conjunct Mars. Chiron, acting as a “bridge” between the conscious planets (that can be seen with the naked eye) and the unconscious (those that can’t) was quincunx Jupiter while he semi-sextiled Uranus (who was trine Jupiter). This time it was Jupiter (not Saturn) who was part of a grand trine – with Pallas the Planner and Uranus the Lawless. The stage was set and the game was about to change. Wounded Chiron was listening to Uranus the Radical (whom he was semi-sextile) and he was translating what he heard for Jupiter the Righteous (whom he was quincunx). Too bad Jupiter couldn’t understand Uranus without translation. It all got garbled.

    Tomorrow we reach the Summer Solstice (leaving the Spring Equinox behind) and this new snapshot for the season shows Jupiter still in his grand trine with Uranus and Pallas. However, Saturn in the last degree of Scorpio squares the Moon in the last degree of Leo. Saturn can be Government and those that Govern, Squares are a Challenge, and the Moon is always the People who Feel and Vote. Another Game Changer season?

    Trump doesn’t have the couth. . . sums it up beautifully, no matter what the subject is. Thank you Miss Judith, I will use it often. The Pope has Uranus (breaks through) in Taurus (builds things) on the MC (reputation for) and lots of couth.

  2. Geoff Marsh

    Thank you for that, Judith. My knowledge of American politics is gradually improving.

    You might find the following amusing, if it plays in your domain. It’s Britain’s most popular comedy radio show and this week featured a question about the entry of Bush and Trump into the U.S. presidential race. The relevant section starts at approx. 17:30.

    I hope it entertains!

      1. Geoff Marsh

        Both shows have been running for a number of years but I think The News Quiz has the edge, too, Amy. Sandi Toksvig, the Danish hostess, gives the programme that extra bite precisely because she’s not British and can make comments from a wider perspective. Sadly this is her penultimate episode as chair and I doubt it will be as good without her. Do you live in Britain too?

        1. Geoff Marsh

          My fervent apologies, Amy, I’ve just recalled our previous correspondence. May I take it that you were able to listen to the programme in the U.S.? I’ve never quite understood why the licence fee for the BBC only covers its television services while the radio channels are free.

  3. Len Wallick

    Thank you, Jude. As always, the reading of your weekly contribution refreshes my understanding and restores any orientation that has been thrown off by the manipulations of misinformation. Amazingly, the Big Lie persists as a conscious and cynical effort which continues to rake in results for its adherents. It is truly chilling to note that Goebbels would easily find cohorts, comfort, safety and prosperity in the world if he were alive today. – but there is no way he could hide or disguise himself from you. Thank goodness (and The Goddess) for you Jude!

  4. Barbara Koehler

    . . .and thank you Jude for tossing out a nugget of escape-from-depressing-news; Brian Williams coming to MSNBC. This last Gemini New Moon-conjunct-Mars is right on his natal Venus so I reckon’ he’s a happy camper. Also his natal Jupiter at 28+ Scorpio retrograde will have transiting Saturn’s station direct all over it. A trial by fire or a match made in heaven. And yes, his “inner lefty” will bloom as will his dry, wry humor. No wonder Rachel loves it! Having his natal Chiron conjunct the U.S. Moon in Aquarius, both square his natal Jupiter, soon to be conjunct trans. Saturn, should help fill the void from losing Jon Stewart’s Daily News.

    Sunday Morning News Talk (TV’s wisest!) sent me to the next Jupiter-Saturn conjunction chart as well as the U.S. Sibly and its progressions. If there is a centerpiece in the astrology swirling around Charleston, to me it is transiting Neptune’s station retrograde conjunction to the U.S. Sibly birthchart Nessus at 9+ Pisces. I didn’t call it a “focus” because that would be impossible at this time. A centerpiece allows the eyes to take in the surrounding material and see the Whole of the thing. Neptune diffuses the focus of whatever it touches but astrology pins it down like a butterfly on display.

    The U.S Sibly chart progressed has Sun (consciousness) just past Nessus and now conjunct the U.S. Child at 10+ Pisces. There is the focus. By the time Jupiter conjuncts Saturn at 0+ Aquarius in 2020 to start the new 20 year cycle of cultural/societal movement, transiting Nessus will have reached 10+ Pisces and the U.S. natal Child. It’s a beginning.

  5. Geoff Marsh

    2020 certainly looks a good candidate for change, be. It’s a year for fans of the Aries Point, too. On March 20, Mars is conjunct Jupiter and Pluto. June 20 sees a New Moon nine hours after the solstice, while Mars and Jupiter are almost exact (both Rx). On September 22, Mercury is in opposition to Mars with a Saturn-Pluto conjunction squaring the inner two to a T, and close to the December solstice, the Sun makes conjunction to Mercury. Plenty to experience there on the way to the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction at 0+ Aquarius.

    There are elections in the US and Britain (among others) and some young Millenials will be empowered for the first time. I won’t comment on the American scene but in Britain it will be the first election since the yes/no referendum on remaining a member of the European Union, scheduled for 2017. Once that decision has been made, political debate will be free to move on and agonise over social matters which have been back-burnered too long.

    And, of course, there will be the Olympics in Japan. They have a very pretty logo for it which I found quite uplifting in a moment of post-Charleston gloom at the end of last week.

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