Religious Matters

Religious Matters
What Moral Matters Matter to America
by
Paul Johnson

The latest US budget designed and approved by almost every single Republican in the House of Representatives takes food right out of the mouths of the starving and gives it to the millionaires and billionaires.

This action has horrified America enough that we are beginning to realize that we are voting for the party that is as opposite our religious and moral values as possible.

How could we have voted for this immoral party? How could we have been made into such suckers that we have voted against all that we know to be right and voted for those intent on giving our country away to the greedy and the rich?

If we don’t stop and figure out how we got here, we’ll never be able to avoid it in the future.

What went so wrong that we got the party of the greedy running our government?

I can’t speak for everyone who has accidentally voted for the party of the greedy, but I can speak for those I know and I can be pretty sure that this is the same mistake made by almost all of those voting for the Republicans.

Wedge Issues

The easiest way to get people to vote against their own best interests and against the best interests of the country is to get them to vote primarily on wedge issues. A wedge issue is an issue that can be used to drive as a wedge between political parties. The Republicans can’t run on providing for the poor, because it would be a a lie, so they need to find something that will get people riled up enough to go and vote for a lousy candidate if he would just address the wedge issue.

The Republican voter is typically a single issue voter. This means that they are the most susceptible to being used as tools in wedge issues.

Effective Marketing

The Republican party has become experts at marketing destructive policies to the American people. Why else would you have a Tea Party out there chanting for more rights and lower taxes on the multinational corporations and billionaires? The Tea Party was created with money from the billionaires and is sponsored by billionaire dollars and marketed with billionaire money all for the purpose of getting Tea Party candidates elected who vote against the interests of Americans and all for the corporations.

Few people even realize that the original Tea Party was a revolution against multinational corporate power and now they’re out there chanting for more power and more money for the multinational corporations. You can’t tell me that’s not pretty darned impressive marketing.

Lies and Deceipt

The percentage of people who are foolish enough to be Tea Baggers is low enough that the Republican party needs more. Hence, the need to lie about what they are and what they plan to do for the billionaires.

This is not a problem limited to the Republican party. There are a few Democrats who run on Progressive principles and then vote straight ticket with the Republicans.

But, this isn’t really all about how bad the Republicans are. This essay is about how some unethical politicians and greedy billionaires can corrupt our political system. It’s not all about Republicans or Democrats. It happens to be the Republican party they have infected, but it could have just as well been the Democratic party. In fact, they’re spending billions of dollars right now, trying to corrupt that party as well.

Taking Back our Country

How on Earth are we ever going to fix this mess with so much money lines up against the American voters? How will we wrestle the media away from big money? How can we change the campaign finance laws when the Supreme Court is so obviously pro-billionaire?

This almost looks like a perfect storm. It may be too late for us to take back the country peacefully, but hopefully we will at least try before it’s too late.

The Real Issues

As I’ve pointed out, political parties don’t run on real moral issues, they run on wedge issues. This means that we voters are stuck without real issues upon which to vote.

What are the most important moral issue to you? Think about it before reading further. What is really important to you morally? Do these moral issue matter enough to affect your voting? In other words, do your morals affect your “real” life or are they just something to talk about at church?

For the vast majority of Americans, moral issues affect their daily lives. Most people try to keep morals in their lives.

Here is a short list of my moral issues. I have a much longer list but it’s not important what mine are, what matters is what your moral list looks like.

  1. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, curing the sick. You know, those things Jesus says need to be part of our lives.
  2. Turn the other cheek. This includes reducing the steel heel of oppressive laws in America and reducing the oppressive governments of other lands. This means no wars. Fix the system where the vast majority of those in our prisons are minorities and poor. You know, the things Jesus said we should keep in our lives.
  3. Discouraging greed. Wow! There’s no end to where this could go. It’s time to get the money changers out of our religions and out of our politics.

There are plenty more, but this is a good start for discussion. Do yourself a favor and come up with your own personal list of important moral issues.

Now ask yourself, how many of those issues on your list are things you actually vote on? How can there be such a great disconnect between what you think is moral and how you vote?

Now, here is a list of wedge issues that are important but are not anywhere near the top of my list and I bet they’re not at the top of yours either:

  1. Abortion. This is not a moral issue. Nowhere in the Bible does it say we need to vote on abortion. Abortions are horrible but if they’re at the top of your morals list, you might want to stop and take a second look at your morals.
  2. Hate the Gay. How many times does your religious book refer to defending the downtrodden compared to the number of times it says we need to disenfranchise gays? This is a big wedge issue but is also a big moral issue as well. Should we be taking rights away from gays? What would your common sense tell you?
  3. Religion in schools and in government. This wedge issue really as no place in a Christian’s political view. Christianity is opposed to the combination of politics and religion. So are our country’s founding documents. So, why would you vote based on this issue? Don’t get me wrong. There are some religions that think that politics and religions should be the same. But most Americans opposed to Muslim laws regarding this.

What are your most important wedge issues and is it wise to vote based on them while excluding the most important moral issues on your list?

Happy Easter!

The Nature of Miracles

What Makes Miracles

by
Paul Johnson

It’s Easter season again and it’s time to think about the nature of our religions, and in particular, the nature of miracles. Easter is full of stories of miracles. In fact, the entire Bible, as most religious texts, is full of miracles. But what, exactly, is a miracle?

This is something that all elementary schools and every church should teach, but unfortunately it is neglected.

Back 3,000 years ago (or 6,000 according to some), when the Bible begins, there were things that we humans saw that had no explanation other than being the hand of God. Today, we would see most of those miracles and realize they come from the laws of physics or the laws of nature. A simple example is the miracle of an eclipse.

So we must ask ourselves, which of those miracles that we’ve heard about thousands of years ago were really miracles and which were easily explained with the knowledge available today?

A Miracle History

Imagine that you were to see a miracle today. It’s your imagination, so imagine what you want. I’ll imagine a neighbor who has such great skill at hypnosis that he can help people regrow amputated limbs.

Over time, two things could happen.

  1. Others, standing on the shoulders of giants, would find ways to do this same service, in which case it would no longer be a miracle, or
  2. No one can repeat the miracle in which case it remains a miracle.

If the case was situation #1 above, then the only way that it would remain a miracle is if a group of followers demanded that this miracle worker did things differently or better than everyone else following. That burning bush was a miracle, that sunset was a miracle, that eclipse was a miracle. This would require a very dedicated following with very rigid books of examples of how their miracle worker was different.

If the case was #2 above, then after enough time the miracle would just fade away into folklore. Even books and literature reminding us of the miracle would eventually become suspect as there will eventually be no evidence of the miracle.

To summarize, history will eventually fade all miracles into obscurity. Eventually even the translated books of the translated books of the translated books of the miracle will become suspect. This is a problem that all modern day miracle-based religious books suffer with and put considerable time into trying to address.

The Miracle Impostors

As we’ve discussed above, there will often be groups who want to memorialize the miracle even if it’s proven to be less a miracle than a law of nature. How many times do you hear people explaining how “their God” did this or did that? It’s quite common.

That’s not to say that these are bad or evil people. They are trying to save the life of a religion that they believe is the only true one. They are trying to convince themselves by trying to convince others of the validity of the miracle that they can no longer prove.

God’s Solution to Forgetfulness

So, how does God go about performing miracles and keeping them around so He doesn’t have to keep proving His magical powers?

If I can start a cult with a counterfeit book of miracles and have a following that will keep the lies alive for centuries, then who will know it’s any different than the real book of miracles which no longer has evidence? No one can tell for certain that one is the real one the other is not.

It is obvious that the only solution to this forgetfulness is the constant display of miracles.

This assumes that the miracles are a fundamental part of the religion!

Let that sink in. That is the point of the entire essay. If the miracles cannot be proven then either God will recreate the miracles to keep people believing or he will put more emphasis on the other aspects of the religion.

God Knows Everything

Or, at least God knows everything there is to know about mankind.  So, why does he hide his miracles from us?

God knows that we’ll forget the miracles over time. He knows we’ll question the miracles. He knows that well-meaning cults will rise up that have their own false miracles.

He lets us forget the miracles because they are not a fundamental part of the religion.

Say What?!!! You’re saying the miracles of Lent, Good Friday, Easter are not a fundamental part of Christianity?

Yes. That’s the whole point. And, that’s why we aren’t presented with reruns of the miracles regularly.

It’s not the miracles that are the important part of Christianity, it is the underlying principles.

Now, stop, take a breath, and ask yourself, what are the fundamental underlying important principles of your religion? Is it because of the miracle that God gave his life to save you from your sins or is the important principle of your religion rules on how to live your life?

The Need for Repetition

In order for the new generations to continue to believe the miracles, they can either believe blindly or they can be privileged enough to see miracles for themselves.

Why would God let his miracles fade to the same level of validity as any hoax or cult? Because it’s not the miracle that’s important.

Who Do You Believe?

You and I live in a day when we don’t see miracles. Many people around us will try to attribute common sense things to the miracle of God but we all know they are just laws of nature. I hear the term, the miracle of a new born or the miracle of a beautiful sunset or this miracle or that, but we are expected to believe in a God that no longer shows himself to us.

Are we left trying to decide which of the countless different histories of miracles to believe and hopefully we’ll be lucky enough to choose the right one, or risk living eternity in punishment? No, that’s not the actions of any God I can imagine.

Hopefully by now you’re beginning to see that it’s not the miracle or the history of the miracle (Bible) that matters but what matters is how we decide to live our lives, without the miracles. Do we choose the path of “Greed is Good” (the Republican way and the Ayn Rand way) or do we choose the path of helping ourselves, our neighbors, and our world? These are the decisions we must make, and quit paying attention to the stories of miracles.

Stop with the miracles. Use the opportunity of Easter to celebrate the teachings of Jesus. Help thy neighbor, heal the sick, feed the hungry, and vote out the money changers.

Constitution: Words to Live By

by
Matthew K.

There’s a particularly sick person who always has up some sign of stupidity or another and shows off his IQ on a daily basis. Last week his little sign said, “Constitution: Words to live by”.

By gosh, what a wonderful concept. There’s nothing wrong with improving the constitution but it’s great that we all want to live by a set of principles or change the set to improve our country. Here, let me remind you what the constitution says:

The Preamble of the Constitution of the United States of America:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Now, looking at that, you will see that all of these reasons for the US government that are important (capitalized) have to do with the welfare of the people, or in other words, socialist purposes (for the benefit of society). The only one not capitalized, or in other words, the least important, is providing for the national defense.

This week our brilliant sign maker says, “Impeach Comrad Obama”. Okay, let’s just overlook his inability to spell for the moment and pretend that he really is capable of rational thought. His reference to “comrad” is obviously a concern that Obama is doing things to support society, you know, socialist things.

So this bright bulb says we should live by the words of the constitution, you know, socialist things, and impeach a president that does socialist things.

Now, I ask you, how could anyone want to live by the words of the constitution and not want to further society, not provide for the welfare of our fellow citizens?

There are lots of marvelous posts on this site explaining compartmentalized thinking. This is one of the best examples I’ve seen in a while. In other words, live by the words of the constitution but, oh, not those words.

Is anyone surprised this idiot votes Republican? Don’t they all?

Tea Baggers for Billionaires

by
Matthew K.

I drove past the Nevada capitol Friday and found a handful of people gathering around a sign that said, “Americans for Prosperity”.

Two important things are illuminated by this:

  1. The billionaire Koch brothers, known for being the money behind Americans for Prosperity, could only pay a handful of people to gather, and
  2. Even though this was slated as a Tea Party rally, it was mostly just workers and volunteers for billionaires.

Why are these issues important? First off, this was a vividly open event to support billionaires against the American people. The signs said right out in the open that these are people supporting the destruction of the middle class and the poor.  There’s really no hiding the fact and no reason to try to hide it.

And, secondly, it was obvious that the vast majority of the Tea Party has realized that they are being used as fools to support legislation that is bad for them and bad for America.

Sure, the Tea Party members know something is wrong with the state of America but they’re beginning to realize that their little Tea Party is created and funded by billionaires and their agenda isn’t America’s agenda, but an agenda to cut the already low taxes of the billionaires.

These are both very big deals. Now that the veil is off the Americans for Prosperity control of the Tea Party, people are coming to their senses.

Now, don’t think this is the beginning of the end of the Tea Baggers. There are millions of Americans out there who don’t know any better than to believe the propaganda and will be signing up with the same anti-American crowd when they start seeing the marketing again.

It’s not just sad but I find it quite disgusting that one of America’s major political parties is so unethical to take advantage of the Tea Baggers. But, what would one expect from a political party that does all the rest of the things the Republican party is known for.

How to Tell if Your News is Biased

How to Tell if Your News is Biased
Matthew K.

How can you tell if your news source is biased? How can you tell if you need to turn off your news TV or radio and find something more honest? I’ll give you some simple guidelines.

  1. Is your news source coming from a multi million dollar corporation? Well then you can guarantee that it wouldn’t be in their best interest to get the poor and working class all up in arms about multi million corporations, now would it? This is the first and most obvious indication that something is wrong with your news.
  2. Are your news casters paid more than $106,000 per year? If so, you can be sure it’s not in their interest to give you the truth about taxes on the wealthy now is it?
  3. Does your news source clump Social Security expenses in as part of the general federal budget? If so, turn off your lying news right now. This is an obvious lie that has been disproven so many times it’s sad, but the liars keep repeating it.
  4. Did your news have a piece on the thousands of picketers who marched in front of the Koch industries headquarters? No? Never heard of it? You know what that means. But I’ll bet you know about every single Tea Party gathering.
  5. Does your news source explain how taxes on the rich have caused the budget deficit? No? Didn’t think so. Turn them off.
  6. Does your news source explain how the rich, making more than $106,000, pay ZERO social security tax on every penny over that? No, I suppose not. I never hear any of them talking about that. Social Security would be in fat city if the rich just paid their fair share.
  7. Does your news source explain how demand drives an economy and giving money to the fat cats is what’s caused this problem?

This is just a few of countless distortions and lies that come out of the major corporate news.

So, what can a person do to get the real news? Well, let’s start by turning off the corporate news and start looking for independent news and look for better alternatives. I’m not going to tell you what to listen to, you have to decide that on your own, but here are some great places to check out.

  • The Thomm Hartmann radio/TV show. You can get it on the Web and on Dish TV. He has lots of great guests, liberals and conservatives, debating the issues.
  • Think Progress is a great think tank that is current on all the goings on in politics.
  • Daily Kos is a great website with lots of daily news.
  • Democratic Underground is another great news source.
  • The Nation has a great newspaper and online news source.
  • Check out The Guardian and the BBC, two British news sources.
  • You can even check out Al Jazeera for news not quite as biased as Fox.

You may have noticed, but I’m not giving you links. You can find these and more by doing a little googling. Get in the habit of doing some research and finding news sites that are actually good for you and good for America.

Sharron Angle, al-Qaeda, and Obama

Sharron Angle, al-Qaeda, and Obama
by
David Schlecht

 

Sharron AngleIn an email titled “Don’t Allow are [sic] Veterans to be Betrayed any longer,” Sharron Angle says America’s president is as bad as al-Qaeda:

The founding principles of our nation have been under siege for some time. It’s not just radical groups like al-Qaeda that threaten our liberty, either. Many of our own elected leaders have decided that the Constitution is archaic and, therefore, can be ignored! (Case in point: nationalized healthcare.)

When asked if she was referring to elected officials, she says:

Well certainly we’ve seen some leadership that has embraced things that we as Americans are really shocked at seeing, and I think that that comes directly from the leadership of the president.

This isn’t just some sick Tea Bagger, this is an idiot who doesn’t understand that Obama was elected by the majority of America, in other words, he is America’s representative. Got that? She thinks that America is worse or at least as bad as al-Qaeda.

Her little Tea Bagger party is the ONLY America in her mind and the majority of America, you know, the real America, are the bad guys.

Yes, indeed, that’s what we need more of in this country, more sick, ignorant, and mis-guided Tea Baggers in our government.

Where do these people come from?

 

Where Nevada’s Revenue Comes From

Where Nevada’s Revenue Comes From
by
David Schlecht

Here is a graph of Nevada’s Revenue stream. Check it out. While looking at it, remember that Nevada comes in dead last in almost every area that matters, from health to intelligence to poverty.

Where Nevada's Revenue Comes From

Take a look at the slice of the pie that is the largest – sales tax. Sales tax is one of the most regressive types of tax because it affects the poor and middle class the most.

So, in Nevada, we see an example of what it’s like when the rich are not expected to pay their fair share. Do you see any income tax on the wealthy? Any taxes on billion dollar bankers? Any taxes on billion dollar mines? No? Me neither.

So the rich get a free ride and the poor and middle class are saddled with everything.

Well, Nevada, how is that working for you? Does it attract business having no income tax? No, I guess not.

When will you ever learn, Nevada?

But the bigger question is what on earth are we doing trying to bring the rest of the country down to Nevada’s level by following their tax structure and giving the billionaires a free ride while expecting the poor and middle class to work for less and carry a greater portion of the cost?

When will America ever learn? It’s time to throw out the failed Republican policies. We’ve been here before, America, it was called the Great Depression and it didn’t work so well back then.

I’m Fasting

I’m Fasting
by
Matthew K.

Hi,

When Congress can seriously debate cutting food aid to pregnant women and children while giving tax breaks to billionaires–and the only question the media asks is whether the cuts are big enough–we have a crisis. This week progressive faith leaders called for Americans to join an ongoing fast to protest the immoral budget cuts being debated in Washington.

I’m joining  the fast along with thousands of people including the leaders of many leading progressive organizations including MoveOn.org. Will you join too?

Thanks!