Re-blog Alert!!! Gail McGowan Mellor: “Creating Honest Elections: “Notorious RBG”, Ratf*cking and Clerical Errors”

Read the original post here:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/59d4666ae4b0da85e7f5eced

10/05/2017 08:02 pm ET Updated 4 days ago

Corporate control of our government depends on bought-off politicians and dirty elections. We can fix all three because at last we can see all three.

Corporations thank goodness do not yet govern us directly. They need politicians they can buy. When we get rid of such politicians, we will sever the cables of the global-corporate control of our country. One way is by building a new party with all candidates refusing big donor money. According to Gallup, 61% of U.S. citizens are calling for it. The other way, and both are needed, is creating clean elections.

Two battles to create honest elections are going down this week. One, on the West Coast, is a little-noticed but crucial Take Back the Vote Summit at the Berkeley Senior Center, CA, Oct. 7-8. (Never underestimate the power of the Gen-X/Millennials combined with the 1960s types who still live in Berkeley.) The other, on the East Coast, is a potentially game-changing U.S. Supreme Court case, Gill v Whitford. Our aces in that hole are Supreme Court swing-vote Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a.k.a. “The Notorious RBG”.

The Radical Idea

Self-rule was the founding principle of the young United States — accepting no rulers: no dictators, no kings. Igniting a fire that swiftly spread around the world, the call for self-rule was revolutionary in 1775 and still is. “We the People” refuse to be led by anyone who inherited the power or took it by force. Instead, we expect leaders to be chosen by us in fair elections and then for them to do what most of the voters want them to do, with protections for those of us who disagree.

We’ve come a long way in building it, but the remaining problem is a killer.

In 1789, when the Constitution went into force, slavery was allowed, and only white men over 21 with property were allowed to vote. Soon political party bosses, the leaders of private clubs not mentioned in the Constitution, chose the nominees from which the rich white men chose.

Under unrelenting citizen pressure, almost all that has changed. U.S. citizens first abolished the class distinction, empowering all white menwith or without property, as voters. The Civil War and another Constitutional amendment ended slavery and the race distinction, defining “We the People” as all men, regardless of race (Granted, it would take the 1960s Civil Rights movement to make that stick.) In 1919, women won the vote and “We” became all citizens over 21, regardless of gender. In 1924, Native Americans won the right to dual citizenship: to retain membership in sovereign tribes and be U.S. voters. Then we insisted that kids old enough to be sent to a war were old enough to vote against war. Since 1971, “We” has referred to all citizens eighteen or older.

However the old political parties, those private clubs not mentioned in the Constitution, have been for two centuries a growing nightmare.

We’ve Got A Short Way to Go, And A Shorter Time To Get There

According to a Princeton/Northwestern study, our elected “representatives” have not represented the supermajority of us for four decades. Both Democratic and Republican politicians represent not the people who elect them but the wealthy, the people who “fund” them.

“MARKETEERS” ANON.

For the uber wealthy, buying politicians is a good investment. Heads of global corporations spend mere thousands to buy (”give political donations to”) Democratic and Republican politicians who in return give the global corporations billions of our taxpayer dollars in corporate subsidy.

Those corrupt politicians are meanwhile kneecapping the rest of us. They get that money to give the already-rich by taking it in taxes from the disappearing middle class, and then lower taxes on the rich by denying help to U.S. people in emergencies and opportunity to the U.S. poor, and by neglecting our environment, scientific endeavors and infrastructures.

The effect is stark. Polls show that two-thirds of our people are Progressive, for example against unprovoked invasive war, corporate control of government and political corruption. We support using tax dollars to help each other out and to make our country increasingly just. We demand government action to produce a healthy people and environment and up-to-date infrastructures. Those positions are to the left of both the Republicans and the Neoliberals who run the Democratic Party.

The supermajority of the population has no representation.

Election fraud as you’ll see not only holds sell-outs in office but is also threatening the Constitution.

Ratf*cking

Big Data Gerrymandering is the most dangerous form of election fraud. Big Data is all the information that the government, corporations and social media have on us. Using it, mathematicians working for politicians — once able to make predictions only about groups — can now predict how each of us will vote. They then put us in crazily-shaped voting districts or “gerrymanders” that assure that no matter how the people actually vote, Republicans will win.

While voters blame each other for losing control of their state governments, it’s big data gerrymandering that has red-shifted most state legislatures and governorships to the Republicans, a distinct minority in the United States. Since a Constitutional Convention can be called by the vote of three-fourths of the state legislatures, if the Republicans take over only seven more state legislatures, the oil industry billionaire Koch Brothers and hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, the major funders and conytollers of modern Republicans, will have the votes they need to rewrite the US Constitution.

Skilled practitioners of this dark art say that citizens are being “ratfucked”, which yields the title of a tightly documented book, Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy.

Big data gerrymandering is also is the subject of the potentially game-changing Gill v Whitford case being argued before the Supreme Court, beginning in the first week of October, 2017 — beginning as this article is written.

In spite of the clear threat that big data gerrymandering poses to the Constitution itself, during oral argument, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsach (whom Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hurriedly put on the Court in time for this case) smugly intoned that the Constitution does not allow the federal government to meddle in state affairs in order to protect one-person-one-vote elections.

In the Supreme Court, democracy’s greatest champion is tiny, scrappy Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, known to younger generations as “The Notorious RBG”. According to attorney and reporter Jeffrey Toobin, 83-year-old Ginsburg who is ”bent with age” and downright “droopy”…”didn’t even raise her head before offering a brisk and convincing dismissal.” Ginsburg growled, “Where did ‘one person, one vote’ come from?”

From the U.S. Constitution of course.

“An audible woo…echoed through the courtroom,” and Ginsburg’s comment seemed to silence Gorsuch for the remainder of the session. Yet with Gorsuch added, the weight of the Supreme Court is shifting against us. We need to use what legislative control we still have to clean up the system.

Blatant Fraud and Voter Suppression in the 2016 Primaries

That’s where the Berkeley Take Back the Vote summit comes in, because electoral fraud is not confined to big data gerrymandering and not coming only from the Republicans. Democratic leaders have made themselves poster children for electoral fraud and voter suppression.

Although the Democratic and Republican parties are private clubs each containing only a fourth of US voters, in their “primary elections” they select the two people between whom we citizens are allowed to choose — for each slot in the November “general election”. In the view of most people, the parties do not select candidates well. The Clinton v Trump general election featured the most despised pair of presidential nominees in modern US history. The Democratic Party’s spin was that Clinton’s low ratings stemmed from Bernie Sanders’ having the effrontery to oppose her. That was not the cause. Her approval ratings have never risen, even after the November election, when ratings tend to improve.

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As the Democratic National Committee [DNC]’s attorney said in a recent court case, though, “If we wanted to pick the nominee in a back room smoking cigars like in the old days we legally could….”

In 2016, they basically did.

Fraud and voter suppression were blatantly obvious in the 2016 Democratic primary contest. The first hint is those approval ratings. Elections are a popularity contest. Sanders, at first an unknown, then with an over 50% approval rating (currently with a 53% national approval rating nationwide, 80% spproval rating among Democrats, and lately 68% among Hispanics and 73% among blacks whom the mainstream media still say he “cannot reach”) confronted Clinton. Although the people who support her are deeply devoted, her approval rating was below the 45% level. Guess who won.

Vote Shifting

Second, there were clear tracks of fraud. Voting machines can be told to automatically assign for example 10% of Candidate A’s votes to Candidate B. That’s called “vote shifting”.

The U.S. State Department, which Clinton once headed, views anything above a 4% difference between exit polls and election results as strong evidence of illegal vote shifting. In the 2016 Democratic primaries, on March 1 alone, the evidence of vote shifts in the eleven states which voted that day was off the charts. There were up to 13.9% discrepancies — in Hillary Clinton’s favor.

Republicans are adept at vote shifting too. According to politico-economic reporter Matt Taibbi in his book Insane Clown President, in the November general election, vote shifts above 4% and always in Donald Trump’s favor occurred, and they occurred only in those counties that had electronic voting without paper trails.

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein attempted to challenge the general election results in several swing states that had trails, because she suspected that Clinton had shifted votes from her. Yet it was Trump’s people — not Clinton’s — who were all over the attempted recounts, first attempting to legally block them, then sending phalanxes of lawyers to the recounts, looming over and talking to people trying to count, finally going through the courts to abort the recounts.

All this talk about Russia, based on anonymous intelligence sources with evidence alluded to but rarely produced, is a smokescreen.

The threat to our elections is homegrown.

In late July, 2017, at DefCon in Vegas, wizard hackers held a contest to see if — and if so how fast — they could hack the various makes of voting machines. They swiftly penetrated all thirty.

Electronic voting would be safe if 1) the public owned the voting machines, 3) they were “open source,” that is if the software code could be checked by any savvy voter for manipulation; 2) electronic voting had “paper trails” with hard copies kept, and 3) the machines’ chain of custody were clear. The partes know that.

Yet in the Democratic primaries in 2016, all the suspect counties, those with over 4% discrepancies between exit polls and election results, used electronic voting machines without paper trails. Those machines were not open source, their software could not be checked for changes by anyone but the global-corporate manufacturer.

Parties moreover borrow voting machines from the manufacturers, returning them to the corporations immediately after the election, vaporizing evidence. As election fraud expert Harvey Wasserman points out, “Courts have ruled that the source code on these electronic voting machines is proprietary. So, even the governments that buy or lease these machines have no access to a final verification process.”

Voter suppression was meanwhile rampant.

We voters, when voting, don’t cheat.

Voter fraud — that is, either U.S. citizens successfully attempting to vote multiple times in the same election or non-citizens voting at all — is exceptionally rare in the United States. There is no reputable evidence that it occurred in either the primaries or the general election. That is, there were no “millions of people voting multiple times”, as President Donald Trump has alleged.

There was instead a great deal of voter suppression by the parties, keeping millions of eligible, determined people from voting. Only 35% of U.S. citizens regularly vote, the lowest percentage among developed nations. Active voter suppression by the two old parties plays a huge and unacknowledged part in that.

Republicans use numerous forms, only beginning with big data gerrymandering. Working through Republican-controlled state governments, Trump’s campaign for example systematically struck from the voter rolls any people with common black and Hispanic names, like “Rosa Gonzales”, living in different cities and states — on the grounds that all people named Rosa Gonzales in the United States were in fact one person. That was voter suppression on Trump’s part, culling Hispanic and African American voters from the rolls.

Meanwhile poll taxes and denying the vote to anyone who has committed a felony(people who had “paid their debt to society” by going to jail were once not punished beyond that) kept many of the poor from voting at all.

In state after state, the Democratic Party closed polling places in areas heavy with Sanders voters — in and around universities for example. That wholesale poll closing both depressed voting in those areas and resulted in long lines and up to 10-hour waits at other poll stations. Clinton’s voting demographic was older, richer, less likely to lose a job by waiting than were Sanders voters who were often working class. Where people did vote, their votes were negated by Democratic Superdelegates, elected officials whose individual votes counted as much as 20,000 ordinary voters. They voted against the will of their constituents. For example, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Colorado went Sanders by 66-73%. Superdelegates from those states — like Minnesota Senator Al Franken and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper — cast Superdelegate votes for Clinton.

The “clerical errors” resulting in voter suppression were amazing in size and number. In New York City, in Brooklyn where Sanders was born, the Democratic Party declared 102,717 registered Democrats ineligible, not notifying them until they slowed up to vote.

The biggest clerical error in our history is of course the one made in 1886 when a Supreme Court clerk wrongly recorded that the Court had decided that corporations were persons, leading to decisions that corporations were immortal and protected by the Bill of Rights but not subject to criminal penalties. A whole body of law and our corrupt political system has been built on that insane “corporate personhood” foundation.

Pushing Off From The Old System

Disgusted with this set-up, most U.S. voters are not only calling for a new party and clean elections but registering Independent, which in all but one of the 50 states is not a party but a non-partisan stance. By 2020, according to Gallup, over half of U.S. voters will be registered as nonpartisan….

The two old parties are fighting to stop it. Artificially inflating their own size, and artificially masking how many voters are actually Independent, they require that nonpartisans register in a party to vote in the primaries, so to vote for Sanders in the primaries, Independents had to first register as Democrats. Even subtracting Independents who re-registered Democratic in order to vote for Sanders in the primaries, Independents were 40% of the U.S. electorate in 2016, and were overwhelmingly pro-Sanders.

The Democratic National Committee and state Democratic parties, pretending to be impartial between Clinton and Sanders but actually determined that Clinton would win the primaries, therefore methodically prevented Independents from re-registering and voting and in more than a few instances failed to count their votes if they did.

Many states’ Democratic parties like that of New York require nonpartisans to register in their party as much as a year ahead of time before they know who’s running. So to vote for Sanders in spring 2016, New York nonpartisans had to have registered as Democrats in early 2015, before the then-unknown Sanders had declared.

Nonpartisans coming into the Democratic Party to vote in the primaries in states like California are issued special ballots, identifying them as Independents. In California in 2016, after the vote, the Democrats airily disallowed those largely pro-Sanders special ballots, and then didn’t include them in paper-trail tallies.

Of course, pro-Sanders Independents voted in the November election, but by that point Sanders, their choice, had been run off the map and they had to choose whether they liked/detested Trump or Clinton more.

Democratic and Republican primaries are tax-funded, a public function.

Catching on, the U.S. is moving towar nonpartisan primaries. Some states are now “open election, same day registration” allowing nonpartisans to make a party choice on primary election day. Almost half of US voters are meanwhile subject to being disenfranchised at the whim of these two private clubs — and that’s even before the other forms of electoral fraud and voter suppression set in….

******************************

You can make a difference. Help build a new people’s party without big donors, or work to open all primaries to nonpartisan voters, or to mandate use of open source voting machines with paper trails and clear chains of custody, or to end some form of voter suppression and big data gerrymandering. Pick your issue and lean on it. Above all, vote.

Revolution is coming. Make it peaceful. As Jorge Daniel Tarafa, USN Ret., says, “Every ballot cast is a bullet not fired.”

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The Inconvenience of Democracy… for the Elites

 

As the primary phase of choosing the next occupant for the White House trundles on, it should be obvious to us all that there is a serious, existential threat that is laying waste to the cherished idea that the United States is a paragon of rules, fair play and democracy. Stories of rampant voter suppression, disenfranchisement, media gaslighting, electoral fraud and a destructive, regressive political discourse has made it very clear that it is impossible for America to be a functioning democracy within a capitalistic economic system. Politicians no longer serve the people they “represent,” and both parties have been corrupted and compromised by the dirty, filthy money that allows them to remain protected, seemingly forever, within their cocoon of legalized graft. It has taken a quixotic Presidential run by Bernie Sanders to drop the scales from our eyes, and at last, people are beginning, at their level of understanding, to realize that it just might not be possible to have both a functioning democracy and a just economic capitalist system at the same time, without serious re-examination and reconsideration of what kind of social contract we as a nation are prepared to accept to live under.

Obviously, this realization can only lead to a single conclusion:  which should prove that capitalism is in essence, anti-democratic.

Team Democrat and Team Republican may have slightly differing ideologies, and really, these are merely comforting, self-serving myths that allow the gaslighting to have legs – until this election season when the bottom of the pail has fallen out of too many people’s lives, but the parties are united under one overarching principle: gathering and extracting more and more money from the taxpayer and giving it to the elites, the banks and stateless corporations who in turn are quietly planning God-knows-what for the hapless dupes who still believe that the problems in their lives stem from undocumented aliens, liberals and conservatives. These elites benefit from the division the media generates while ignoring the shameless corporate welfare which their lobbyists have managed to write into laws, and are ultimately planning to gift the corporations sovereignty over governments themselves with the TPP.

That President Obama is aiding and abetting this “trade deal” as a good thing for America, should be evidence enough on how easily one can be corrupted by power so completely, that all common decency and common sense evaporates, along with any moral barometer that should awaken and alert one’s conscience that something has gone terribly wrong with one’s judgment and ethics. But we’re talking about beings who clearly operate under another criteria of “ethics.” One, apparently, that doesn’t include  a consideration for what is best for everyone, but only considers those who are sitting the the seats of great wealth, power and influence.

Which brings us back to this point: capitalism has proven to be the most anti-democratic force in the world, if not in America, where it seems that every day, new and surprising ways are being invented to make voting as difficult and unpleasant as possible. This is hardly surprising, although I suspect the blatant rigged gaming of the fraudulent electoral process may have come as a dreadful shock to most who believed in the “rule of law,” and that they truly lived in “the land of the free,” but the fact of the matter is that an open, citizen-led democratic process can be very bad for “business.” The movement inspired by Bernie Sanders has awakened to this awful realization, and the anti-democratic forces; the media-industrial complex, the stateless corporations, Wall Street, the billionaire class and the establishment politicians that loyally serve them will be doing everything they can to make sure the movement – and by extension, the expression of democracy – is quashed.

Therefore, be prepared to witness a titanic barrage of forces to be unleashed to nullify, marginalize and stifle this natural, suppressed expression of democratic values where one person – one vote still has meaning and value. It will be a massive effort for the grassroots activists to overcome this inevitable onslaught, but the future is not yet written, although it appears more and more likely that the Democratic convention in Philadelphia this summer is going to make Chicago ’68 seem like a Methodist bakery sale in comparison. The genie has been let out of the bottle, and with it, the elites’ stranglehold on democracy is in peril.

 

 

Bernie Sanders reveals the Mockery of Democracy

 

ROCHESTER, MN- FEBRUARY 27: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) speaks to a crowd of supporters at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, MN. Sanders is projected to come in second to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the evenings South Carolina primary election. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Emma Goldman said it best. “If they thought voting could change anything, they would have made it illegal.” After witnessing what can only be described as an unmitigated disaster and shamelessly open mockery of democracy within the Democratic Party’s treatment of its base, Independents and in particular, Bernie Sanders, Red Emma’s point is an understatement. And while I think Bernie Sanders makes Don Quixote out to be a hardened realist, he has provided the citizens of America a unparalleled service of awakening and alarming thinking American Citizens that the sacred model of American Democracy is nothing but a House of Cards.

Never before has the ideals of American democracy been so openly laid bare as a cruel joke and an unfortunate illusion. It appears, in spite of all the high school civics lessons and storybook notions about the Great American Democracy, that no such democracy has ever existed in this country. It has all been a lie. Taxpaying American Citizens have been gaslighted, catfished and hypnotized by lies, deceptions and double talk by its statesmen, media and special interests, through the machinations of a fascist two-party system that is essentially a one party system dedicated to the benefit of the elites who believe they control and own this country. Simply put, if you believe that your vote is dependent upon your status as a taxpaying American Citizen, well, you’re dead wrong. Apparently, your voting status is wholly dependent on an either-or party affiliation. If you are not aligned to a party, your right to vote doesn’t exist. And you can look high and low for the cite in the Bill of Rights or the Constitution as much as you like, but you won’t find anywhere where it is laid out that your right to vote is entirely dependent on which political party one you are aligned to. So what happened to my franchise?

Apparently, somewhere, somehow, we have accepted and allowed two political parties to exercise and completely control who gets to play God in the Capitol and state legislators. We alway hear about how terrible the historically low voter turnout in America has been for ages. Well, it turns out that the system has been specifically set up to disenfranchise voting rights to make sure that voting never becomes a “thing” in America, because it is the one avenue of influence that is left to the common American Citizen. It is the last level of power left to the citizenry. And so that dangerous power has to be bottled up by the elites, thwarted and frustratingly difficult to break through to the point where it most people don’t want to be bothered with it. And that is the way the elites want it. It keeps them in control, in power and keeps real change agents discouraged and powerless. If you turn on talk radio, you’d think that the problems facing America all comes from the left or the right… when in fact it’s only because of one simple truth, our vaunted version of “democracy” which we love to trumpet to the rest of the world its wondrous and exceptional quality, has been nothing but a lie.

To those who claim that the Primary system isn’t “voting,” I say this: As a taxpaying American Citizen, I reject the notion of being channeled into a situation where my franchise is dependent on the principle of party over person. This primary system only exists to help the parties and allows them to maintain control – even Wasserman-Schultz admitted as much. It is wrong, slimy and undemocratic – my vote is not dependent on party. It’s dependent on my status as an American Taxpayer. We are going to work together to overturn this legalized voter suppression scheme that only benefits the two-party democratic fascist construct. Democracy to this point in American History has been based on deception, and we are beginning to wake up and see how limitless the parties have exercised their control over the American People. Bernie Sanders has done the America People a solid. He is the only candidate this blogger is interested in seeing elected to the Presidency.

TILL HERE, NO FURTHER.

#BernieorBust

Welcome to the (New) Family!

non trad family

The Supreme Court’s opinions in the Obergefell vs. Hodges case, legitimizing same-sex marriage, has predictably generated much scandalous controversy and angst among the dissenters, particularly from the Evangelical and Christian fundamentalists who are panicked that this ruling hastens the country towards barbarism reminiscent of the Last Days of the Roman Empire. It may, or it may not, but what this ruling indeed does is to provide an awakening to these religious Christians believers that their assumption that the United States of America is solely bound and defined by Christian theological ethics has been grossly mistaken.

Everyone has heard of this ubiquitous meme of America’s “separation of church and state,” and fortunately for the religious, the placement of that divide is a crucial safeguard that has given mainline believers undeserved tax breaks and other benefits and considerations (and to be frank, they are all fine and dandy with that). However, that divide not only exists to protect the belief systems from the encroachment by the State, but conversely to protect others from religious domination by the believers into the legal sphere.

Conservative Christian commentators and their political cohorts are twisted up in knots in trying to come to grips with the reality that the USA is in fact a pluralistic society, and that not everyone practices or believes in the same religion as they do. Some are wailing and gnashing their teeth about this ruling foreshadowing the death of democracy and imminent religious persecution.

Christian believers understand that marriage is defined and given by God, but legally, they seem unable to comprehend that marriage is sanctioned by the State, not by the Church. The chief argument made by the mainline Christian community against SSM is that marriage is ordained by God and is meant to exist properly within a fixed male and female pairing for purposes of procreation, and that the male/female set is the only legitimate (and spiritual) principle in forming a family.

The Supreme Court’s majority decision is based on the logical application of human rights guaranteed under the Constitution, a document that was not created by churchmen inside a place of worship, but by an elite of White propertied males who failed to share any uniform Christian perspective. What they did seem to share was a deep mistrust of the power the religious institutions could wield if given the chance. Thus, marriage is necessarily ordained by the State – not by the Church. It is a legal contract, not a spiritual one because there’s no instrument in the Constitution that gives the church the means to officially stand in the place of the State. Even the dissenting Justices can’t manage to wrap their brains around this fact (or seem unwilling to admit it). Supreme Court Justice Alito’s dissenting opinion contains the following alarmist and false assertion:

“Today’s decision usurps the constitutional right of the people to decide whether to keep or alter the traditional understanding of marriage.”

This decision does no such thing.

Firstly, the American Citizen has always – and will continue – to define or alter their understanding of marriage for themselves, without guidance from the State. If you believe same-sex marriage is wrong, this ruling does not force you into holding a contrary belief about it. People are still free to marry (and divorce) regardless of what Adam and Steve does in their marriage, or what serial adulterer Donald Trump does in his. 

Secondly, there has been a social evolution of the definition of marriage and family within American society that has existed from the beginning of the country’s history. It was less than 50 years ago when the courts began overturning the criminalization of interracial marriage [1] –  causing an ensuing social panic led by social conservatives who claimed under biblical authority that such unions were against Christian teachings when it was actually used to criminalize one’s race.  

Thirdly, Alito seems to be angling for a conflation of the legal definition of marriage condoned by the State with that of a religious conception of marriage and family ordained by God into a single definition – which is impossible due to the separation of Church and State provisions within the Constitution. Deep down, the dissenting Justices know this, but their conservative theological commitment leaves them in a panic about the legal implications this ruling may have. 

Listen:

Probably one of the oldest social conventions in human history is the family. Let’s agree that a ‘family” is a small group of beings bound together by genetics, opinions, language, values and common interests, etc. It’s the fundamental social block which forms human relationships. The family is a social convention created by beings within a society. It isn’t ordained by “God” since “God” is also a social convention of created by certain religious beliefs. A belief does not stand for the truth – it merely expresses a desire for something to BE “true.” Social conservatives want to believe that it is a truth that marriage is about the children. It hasn’t been exclusively that. In many cultures, some far more ancient than our own, marriage had always been about property

The fact of the matter is that many of the Christian social conservatives appear to be unwilling to take responsibility for their imagined crisis of having their religious liberty being threatened by society (and the Supreme Court).Going back to the Ozzie and Harriet days of the 1950s where Dad’s job gave him enough money to raise a family and allowed the wife to stay at home isn’t an option anymore, because that job has long since disappeared to Third World economies. Neoliberal economics has been forcing families into single-parent households for decades. One can make the argument that these social and economic pressures have far more to do with the perception of the collapsing of American Family Values than two guys or ladies desiring a legal means to combine their properties or begin a family. Nobody is trying to take anyone’s religious liberty away from anyone. What is happening is that there are less legal ways to allow abuse and mistreatment of one group of citizens over another by application of religious belief backed by State power. 

Note

[1] Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967),[1] is a landmark civil rights decision of the United States Supreme Court, which invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Chief Justice Earl Warren expressed this in his opinion:

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

Loving v. Virginia was used as a precedent in the Obergefell v. Hodges case.

The Futility of Heroism

herc

The idea of the Hero is a misunderstood notion occluded with a hidden deception – a power and revenge fantasy that requires one to hope and wait for the arrival of a savior to solve one’s problems. Thus the arrival of a hero implies and reinforces the enslavement and powerlessness of the saved – instead of one requiring to take self-directed action to assist and support one’s self.

Have you noticed Hollywood’s endless dedication to the superhero blockbuster movie over the past 20 years? Time for another Avengers movie. Soon, Star Wars and a Superman – Batman film coming down the pike. It seems the continuous recycling of cinematic renditions of  extraordinary beings is perhaps the safest bet for making a huge profit in the movie industry today, in so much that it has successfully tapped into the mass psychology of the American public, who generally feel more disempowered, alienated  and disconnected from having to exist within a world of constant existential anxiety. The meaning of the superhero offers much cathartic relief, if for a moment.

I voraciously consumed comic book and their stories of superheroes as a child, although as I became older, I found myself more fascinated by the various artists like Neal Adams, Gil Kane and Jim Aparo who drew the comics than being fascinated by the exploits of the superheroes themselves. Being a comic book artist at one time seemed like a fun and interesting way to make a living, so I thought at the time. When the first superhero movies began to appear in major Hollywood blockbuster fashion such as the Superman, Batman and Spider-Man movies of the past 20 years or so, I saw that there existed definite problems in translating the genre into film. The ideas of grown men donning these costumes and using violence against others to solve problems were… it must be said, kinda silly.

However, all people have an ancient, built-in tuner for a good story. Especially if it features a good hero-figure. From Gilgamesh to Krishna to Hercules to Jesus Christ, the tale of the hero always seems to satisfy that emptiness inside us that we desperately want to fill in with the hope that things will turn out okay for us. Or at least that someone, something or somehow or someway – things will work out. The hero is the anthropomorphic stand-in for our hopes and dreams being fulfilled by something that must always exist outside of us. But this embodied figure of hope – as typified as the “hero,” is based on the cruelest of self-delusions, because to give into such a fantasy, one has to abandon the center of power within one’s self. One has to become enslaved to the idea of being saved by a savior.

The Hero can be described as a figure who swoops in unexpectedly armed with the ability to solve another’s problem. Some believe that the Hero is a figure that possesses supernal qualities or gifts that normal people don’t possess. In ancient Greece, ancestral worship may have given rise to the phenomenon of the hero cult. The Athenian legislator Draco (c. 600 BCE) introduced a written code of laws to replace the tradition of oral law to be used in court. Due to the severe and harsh nature of the laws he authored, for instance, the theft of a single head of cabbage could result in death penalty for the thief) the term “draconian” has been passed down to us to describe such unforgiving and extremely punitive legal qualities. However, one of Draco’s strictures was the official establishment of hero-cult worship in Athens. The most important thing about the hero was not so much of how he or she lived, but rather in the hero’s death. Thus ancient hero shrines were erected that were venerated and thought to provide supernatural protection to the local community of worshippers. There is a reason why this fascination of the hero exists: people have no faith within themselves to face life and overcome challenges that confront them.  They would rather wait and hope for deliverance from another.

Not all challenges are created equal, however. Most people in the world believe that all they have to hold onto is a belief and a hope for something better will come along, or that somehow “things will work out” on their own, or someone or some God will deliver them out of their problems. It is certainly understandable. And it is certainly understandable that most people in the world have suffer at such an unbearable level of pain, despair and anxiety that even all hope for something better is driven out of them. But for those who are stable enough to carry on, the lure of the arrival of the hero is an intoxicating delusion that only fuels self-suppression and fantasies of revenge.

This fantasy of revenge is seen very clearly in religious dramas and doctrine. I had a hard time understanding why it was so easy for modern-day African Americans to continue to follow the Christian religion, which according to my sensibilities is the official religion of the legacy of White European slave trade. The answer came to me while reading Flannery O’Connor’s novella Wise Blood, where the protagonist Hazel Motes in public preaching display of defiance in his utter rejection of his traumatic Christian upbringing , repeatedly spits out this scornful declaration: “Jesus is just a trick on niggers.” It is an extremely cultural loaded throwaway line that at first glance sounds like racist nihilism, but reveals the genius of O’Connor’s understanding of the demented religious ethos of the Southern gothic, for within it there exists the key in understanding the religious methodology of one race subjugating another via Christian mind control by instilling a hopeless revenge fantasy of divine proportions, endless versions which I heard repeatedly as a child through endless Sunday sermons –  how “the first will be the last” and how God’s Justice will descend on the evil-doers (code for the White man generally) and reward His faithful followers (and servants). It is telling that despite the precipitous decline of religious affiliation in America (as reported by the latest Pew study), Christianity still enjoys a strong and consistent support among African-Americans. It isn’t surprising. Historically, preaching the Gospel was one of a few occupations African-American men were allowed to have.

In this reading, God is the Ultimate “Hero.” But in order to accept the savior, first you have to accept your suffering, enslavement, powerlessness and repression indefinitely in this life before you can attain cosmic, Heavenly peace in the after-life. You have to die first before you can be redeemed. One must always await the arrival of the Hero (Christians have been waiting in vain for over 2000 years) – which is to say – one must always seek first the Kingdom of Righteousness and Glory in one’s powerlessness,  suppression and death. Jesus is considered a hero because as a God, he sacrificed himself and became a martyr, which is a form of senseless suicide.

Of course, it is difficult to attain the realization that such a self-delusion that can only exist within the deceptions and meaninglessness of one’s imagination – because no real solution to anyone’s problem can be “fixed” by another – and certainly no solution can exist where there is no self-realization, or self-responsibility, or self-honesty, or self-movement, or self-direction or self-acceptance inside one’s self. One has to be an active participant within all that or give in to further enslavement, abuse and deception. 

Can it be that one’s successful triumph over one’s own self-limitations is the only heroic act possible? Attempting to place one’s self in a mental flowery bed that “feels good” or the seeking of “happiness” leads down the path of self-deception, separation and enslavement.

Handle with care anyone who presents themselves to you as a hero. They don’t really want to save you. What they really want is to take you for a ride.