The Death of Religion

A recent BBC News story says that the end of religion is inevitable, and uses census data and physics to prove it.  The irony of this is not lost on me.  If accurate, it would also be the death of the root cause of two thousand years of death and horror.  From radical Islam, to the extreme religious right in this country, and everything that has come before, religion has kept humanity stunted and ignorant. 

Why value this life, or anything in it, when you've some mythical heaven to look forward to? 

What I personally resent most is the myth perpetrated by the religious, that in order to be a good person, one must believe in a deity.  Or, conversely, that one is evil if they believe in no god.

Buffalo bagels.

The greatest evils have been done in the name of god.  When reading the bible, it's apparent early on that god is petty, even on human terms, which leads me to believe that the book was written by men.  Ignorant, petty men who sought power over others.  The same type of men that today, use religion for personal gain. 

When legislation regarding uranium mining is enacted by those who believe that the Earth is only 6000 years old, the irony and dangerous ignorance is hard to miss.  It's the kind of thing that can get people dead.

Were religion to be replaced by logic and reason, the world would be a better place.  After all, decency and altruism are logical concepts. 

The lord isn't my shepherd, because I know the ultimate fate of the shepherd's flock.

Conservatism by the numbers

"Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear." ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

I think I figured out what been happening to this country.  The extreme religious right has gotten a serious toehold, via the Tea Party, and morally weak republicans.  The middle class has all but been wiped out, and now comes their assault on the poor.

Since the Reagan administration, class politics in the US has waned; the Republican Party benefits from the fact that many lower-income citizens vote against their economic interests because they oppose the social liberalism of the Democratic Party.

Many vote against tax increases on the rich, because even if they themselves are not wealthy, there is a tiny chance they one day will be. There is also the prevailing mythology that the wealthy class earned their place and should not be punished.  They somehow believe that the rich will show some sort of loyalty or gratitude to their servants.

I've noticed that conservative humor usually ends with a punchline that describes a (woman / liberal / poor / person of color) being killed, maimed or imprisoned (in order of their preference). 

Like the 91 year-old freshman senator (Freshman? Really?) from New Hampshire who recently resigned after suggesting the the mentally ill be shipped off to Siberia.  Or the State Rep. from Kansas who thinks illegal immigrants should be hunted from helicopter, and shot "like pigs".   Both claimed that they were just joking.  Well, they though it was funny...

The playbook from the extreme right must include this:

  1. Use apocalyptic rhetoric that exacerbates fear, bigotry and extremism among the uneducated and intolerant.
  2. Counter any liberal criticism of your inflammatory calls for action by saying they can't take a joke.
  3. Keep turning up the heat and act shocked when somebody heeds your calls for extreme action.
  4. Be sure to maintain you were only speaking figuratively and you are being unfairly blamed when violence occurs (extra credit for insinuating that liberals set this up themselves).
  5. Keep your celebrations behind closed doors.
 This works for politicians, pundits, corrupt county sheriffs, equally corrupt corporate CEO's, insane cult leaders - essentially any conservative who is focused on their own interests, to the exclusion of all else.

American Media

Ok, so I'm a boomer (although just barely, thank you).  I remember Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, John Chancellor, and others growing up.  They just reported the news.  They did it without spin, innuendo, and to the best of their ability, truthfully.

I'm not usually prone to nostalgia, but like so many other things, the decline of American journalism was too subtle for me to notice.  I was too busy with the day to day business of living to take notice.    I bear some of the blame for neglecting my duty as a citizen, and assuming that simply voting was enough.  It's my country - my government, and I should have more informed and involved.  I don't know if I could have made a difference, but at least I'd have the comfort of knowing I tried. 

So here we are.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last Wednesday.  While doing so, she made some long overdue comparisons of the American media to Al-Jazeera.  She said,
“In fact viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news,” Clinton said. “You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners.”
Perhaps she was following the lead of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Juliette Kayyem, who urged cable providers to carry al Jazeera in her recent oped, “Let us see Al-Jazeera”.

I figured it out about a year ago.  I'd had it with the right-wing lies of Fox, the left-wing cheerleading of MSNBC, and the fluff of CNN.  The only real news I was getting was from the Daily Show.  As much as I like Jon Stewart, it wasn't enough.

My first stop was NPR, but their perspective was inherently American.  The BBC was the next step.  It's been the standard for exceptional journalism for years, though I often had to wade through a lot that I found less than relevant.  Then I found Al-Jazeera.  It was an eye-opener.  I was outraged at some things.  They would have people on that were blatantly anti-American.  In some instances I could understand why they felt the way they did. Our foreign policy over the last half-century has been less than honorable.  In other instances, their guests were simply the mirror image of the extreme religious right in this country.  Opposing views, but the same hate.

Then I took notice, not so much of the content, but how it was presented.  Whether pro, anti, or neutral, the reporting was just that, backed up by empirical data and sources.

It was then I realized how far we'd fallen.   The American media isn't in the business of providing factual information to people.  It's in business to sell the attention spans of those watching to other corporations.  I'd like to think it's more complex than that, but it really is that simple.

No ethics, no integrity.  Just money.

Somewhere along the way, big business decided that every human thought, every human endeavor, was theirs to profit from.  No regard for privacy, or ethics.  No thought as to what is morally or socially acceptable.  It's whatever one can get away with.  If it happens to be against the law, well, that's what lobbyists and campaign contributions are for.  Perhaps it's always been that way.  It's just more pronounced now.

This is America with Republicorp running things.

No more middle class.  Just the stockholders, and those that serve them.