Presidential politics can be a dirty business. And, the campaign trail is where people often get the dirtiest.
When it comes right down to gathering political dirt, money is the mud. The more of it a candidate can rake in, the more mud there is to sling at the opposition, which presumably increases the odds of victory.
Senator Bernie Sanders (S-VT) is about to learn these painful lessons the hard way, especially if he chooses to run for president in 2016. The darling of populists and progressives everywhere is now seriously considering making a run, which likely requires a conversion to the ethically cluttered Democratic Party ranks from his current Socialist Party affiliation (to be accurate, inside the Beltway he’s officially classified as an “Independent” — a slap in the face both to his party and to those like me who share his ideology). Hence, before Sen. Sanders even goes out on the stump and delivers his first campaign speech, he’s required to compromise his principles because of the two-party system’s suffocating stranglehold on the rigged American political system.
Congratulations to President Barack Obama for finally standing up and challenging the fables of historical Christian righteousness in a bold speech he delivered yesterday in Washington.
Predictably, the speech pissed off lots of witch doctors in the audience and has since frenzied the political right into a pack of rabid wolves who are now foaming at the mouth after what they heard the President say.
His controversial remarks about religious extremism and Christianity’s long and loathsome tradition of violence (READ MORE HERE) were offered at an annual gathering of Christian leaders called the National Prayer Breakfast. Organized by a super-secret organization known as The Fellowship Foundation, the group purports to “provide a fellowship forum for decision makers to share in Bible studies, prayer meetings, worship experiences, and to experience spiritual affirmation and support.” The meeting has taken place every year since 1953. [Footnote 1]
Remember the Ebola scare?
Recall the virus that caused a nationwide panic and metastasized into an October surprise for Republicans, who unabashedly fanned the flames of fear for months, thus ending up as an unseemly political windfall for the party which spent most of the last election cycle inciting hysteria. For Republicans, fear has become a viable political strategy. It’s their nuclear weapon, or in the case of Ebola, their biological weapon.
Unfortunately, instigating fear works. Scaring the hell out of people triggers votes. Fear wins elections, even when it turns out there wasn’t all that much to worry about, after all.
No one remembers yesterday’s news, nor recalls last year’s lies. Like the tiny microbe with origins in west Africa that caused many Americans to avoid public places and cancel their travel plans, the farce of fear perpetuated upon the nation has pretty much been forgotten now. Out of the news, out of sight, out of mind. Our attention is now focused elsewhere, on the next
flavor crisis of the month.
Let me be perfectly clear.
The right to artistic expression must be defended.
In all cases. No matter what. At any cost. No compromises. Without exception.
Artists are either free to express themselves, or they are not. There’s no purgatory. Like being “kinda’ pregnant,” there’s no “sorta’ free” category. We’re either all free to write, draw, film, sculpt, paint, dance, sing, or whatever as we see fit. Or….if any individual is denied that inherent right protected in all free societies or in any way becomes somehow forbidden to express what’s happening through official edict or by intimidation, then none of us really have any rights. In essence, it just means we’re tolerated.
If someone paints a picture of the Pope with a penis in his mouth, each one of us must defend that artist’s fundamental right to free expression. Not because we endorse it, or we approve. In fact, we might think it’s crude and terribly inappropriate. But the right of that artist must be protected, as well as defended whenever threatened. In all cases. No matter what. At any cost. No compromises. Without exception.
Am I making myself clear?
What would compel an otherwise rational person to dive head-first into a cesspool filled with shit, piss, garbage, and bacteria?
Why — religion, of course!
On PBS tonight, there was a documentary program about the Ganges, a.k.a. the Ganga River, located in India. This is a vast tributary of life (and potentially death) for hundreds of millions of people, living in both Bangladesh and India. It’s also one of the most polluted rivers in the world, a breeding ground for sickness and disease — not just to humans, but animals, as well. And it’s that way almost entirely because of indifference from religion, and specifically Hinduism, which continues to promote the loony notion that bathing in feces-encrusted waters somehow makes gullible believers “spiritually” whole again.
[Palm slapping forehead]
Which brings us to the question: Why do we revere such absurd, not to mention dangerous, religious practices?