Rail Against a Theocratic Government? Start with The GOP’s Vision for the United States…

It wasn’t always this way. There was a time when the Republican Party was one that stood up for business interests, be they the street corner “mom and pop” shops or the monolithic companies such as General Motors or General Electric that employed thousands of workers. They stood for a strong defense, a military that was prepared to do battle anywhere but wasn’t wasted on piddling matters that weren’t of our nation’s interests. They also could, at one point in their history, be the spark of what were some of the great movements in the United States, changing what would be the course of our nation.

So what happened to the “Grand Old Party,” the GOP, the Republicans? Religion, and in particular the zealous “Religious Right” is what happened to them. (And this guy? Your guess is as good as mine…)

Over the past few weeks, a couple of states in this country – both with Republican leadership in their legislatures and Republican governors – have passed some of the most heinous laws this country has seen since the Jim Crow days following the close of the Civil War.


In North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory (who has that same sheepish “look what I got away with” bullshit smirk that President George Bush [Bush II] had) signed into law HB 2, officially titled the “Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act.” Much like other Republican bullshit laws like the “Patriot Act” or the “Troubled Asset Relief Program,” HB 2 was a move by the GOP-led General Assembly to thwart an ordnance that was passed by the city of Charlotte – and only applicable in that city, it must be stated – that allowed for transgender persons to use the bathroom facilities of the sex that they identified with (as such, a man in the process of switching to being a female would use the ladies’ room and vice versa). Calling a special session of the General Assembly to Raleigh (at a minimum cost of $42,000 per day for a state currently running a budget deficit), the GOP felt this HAD to be addressed.

The law specifically outlawed transgendered people from using the restroom of their changed sex, saying that they had to use the facilities of the sex they were identified with on their birth certificate (which of these GOP assholes is going to be the guardian at the gate?). Not only was this an abomination, the General Assembly went further in stripping the rights from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people (LGBT) from state anti-discrimination protections (although they were never mentioned in any discrimination laws previously), including job protection and housing requirements. Finally – and as a last “fuck you” to the people of North Carolina – the General Assembly made it law that no city can raise their minimum wage over what the state deems correct (this is irritating enough on its own).

North Carolina doesn’t take the prize for being the biggest bigots on the block, however. Mississippi voted through the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act (see what I mean about bullshit titling?),” through a bicameral system dominated by Republicans. In that act, the bill allows for the out-and-out discrimination against LGBT people by businesses based on religious reasons. The bill was signed into law by another Republican, Governor Phil Bryant, and is now in effect in the state.


Other states with Republicans running things have gotten wise and decided it wasn’t worth screwing up business dealings with other states for the potential to have such “religious freedom” laws on the books. Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Maine and Ohio have decided that the ability to have businesses welcomed in the state, movies and television shows filmed inside their borders or athletic events contested in their arenas is better than being a social outcast. This is something that North Carolina is learning and Mississippi will probably be learning soon.

In North Carolina, the National Basketball Association is considering the removal of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game and the All-Star Game Weekend festivities from the city, with Basketball Hall of Fame member Charles Barkley seconding those statements. The NCAA is looking at its 2017 and 2018 college sports tournaments, which could host at least 20 games at venues in the state, and whether it will hold those games at those arenas. PayPal has decided against opening a global operations center in Charlotte over the passage of the law (which was to have provided 500 jobs) as Apple, IBM and Google have also lined up in opposition to the law. The streaming television provider Hulu pulled production of its pilot for a new show, Crushed, from the state and, on Friday, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Bruce Springsteen canceled a concert in Greensboro, citing the oppressive new law as the reason. All of these individual items could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues and it is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

The Republican Party enjoys talking about how they dislike the theocratic government of Iran or the hideous atrocities that groups like ISIS inflict on their people in the name of religion, but let’s start with them as a zealous religious group that would look to install a theocratic reign of terror should they be allowed everything they would like to see installed (nullification of Roe v. Wade would just be the beginning). The different “religious freedom” laws are about as ludicrous as it gets as NO ONE is infringing on the freedom of ANY religion in this country. Last I checked, you could freely walk around the streets of Anywhere, USA, with a Bible, Book of Mormon, Qur’an or Torah without anyone accosting you. You can gather anywhere – a park, a home, a school or even an actual house of worship that isn’t taxed by said government – without the danger of having the government shut it down. You can even – shock of shocks – WEAR A PENDANT DECLARING YOUR FAITH openly in public. So quit with this bullshit of “religious freedom” and call it what it is – the new way of saying “racial or personal bigotry.”

Since the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the GOP has slowly been eaten away by the “religious right,” and it has been a slow process. It started against those who were “different” – minorities, gays (this was also the time of the Stonewall Riots in 1969), “foreigners” (screw the fact that many in this country were maybe one or two generations removed from being a foreigner themselves) or “hippies” who were against the Vietnam War. As the 70s came along, that “Religious Right” became capitalized as the GOP discovered that it was a sizeable force that presented several things that a political party likes – a solid voting bloc that won’t sway and, in most cases, quite affluent to be able to support the party financially.

That “Religious Right” became the “Moral Majority” that spewed its vile verbosity across the country in the 1980s, perpetuated by President Ronald Reagan and George Bush (Bush I). With such hucksters as Jim Bakker, Jerry Falwell, Oral Roberts (who once famously said that “God would call him home if he didn’t raise $6 million” in a certain time frame – when it didn’t happen, no one called him on his bullshit), Benny Hinn and others piping their drivel across cable networks, their power continued to grow (never mind that they couldn’t keep their privates in their pants if their lives depended on it). While it might seem it calmed in the 1990s, it only changed its face into the Neo-Conservatives.


Those “conservatives” (and I will use that term because there are SOME conservatives out there who are aghast that their GOP has been overrun by religious zealots) have destroyed what was once a party that did things, that tried to run a country. These “conservatives” now want to deny everyone anything (including gay marriage and any other rights), put Christianity as the only religion of the land and, in essence, become the same theocracy they say they preach against (they have their “perfect leader” in Rafael Eduardo Cruz). This isn’t a political party, this is a religious movement that is impersonating a political organization, not the Republican Party or GOP that was around after World War II.

Fortunately, the world is changing. There are fewer and fewer of these brain-dead religious zealots pandering to a close-minded bigoted electorate who still want to look in the bathrooms and bedrooms and keep an eye on what people do, but it isn’t dwindling quickly enough. It’s time to let the GOP know that their archaic social stances will keep them from ever being considered seriously as a political entity. Within a generation, either the GOP will have grudgingly entered the 21st century or they will have died a painful death (they may very well be in those death throes now). If it brings an end to this bigotry masquerading as “religious freedom,” then I’m all for it.

Is The “American” Too Stupid To Handle The Responsibility of Guns?


The United States, in its creation and its development, is one of the most brilliant experiments that has occurred in human history. Instead of a homogenous society such as many Asian nations or one of tribal dominance such as those that are found in Africa, the United States of America was a true attempt at something that many would feel is impossible:  incorporating different people, different ideologies and different cultures into a “melting pot” where the end goal is an amalgam of the world’s best into a new creature…an “American” (I must say at this point I’ve never liked the term “American” – when that term is used, I immediately wonder “North, South or Central?” How about “citizen of the United States?”). While the list of success stories from the 200-plus years of the existence of the United States of America – and another 150 years or so of settlement into this earthen laboratory – are some of the greatest in mankind’s history, there are some areas where the nation has fallen short.

One of those areas has become painfully evident as details have come out over the past few days. Last Thursday a white male walked into a community college in Oregon and, with no provocation or apparent motive, gunned down nine classmates and instructors and wounded another seven people. In the more than 72 hours since the last echo of gunshots filtered across the Oregon landscape, we’ve dredged up the old tapes of the previous arguments over past mass shooting situations rather than advancing any significant solutions for changing the climate.

The “Usual Suspects” have divided along their prescribed lines, with one side stating that further laws on guns are a necessity to prevent this from happening again. The other side states that it is their “God given right” to have weapons, as many as they want, and any move to take them away is roughly akin to an attack against the very fabric of life itself. The potential reality, however, is that this new creature we’ve created – the “American” – is too fucking stupid to handle the responsibility of guns.

In looking at it from the “law of the land” – the U. S. Constitution – there would appear to be nothing that could be done, but that would be inaccurate. The Second Amendment – “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” – was put into the Bill of Rights for the essential purpose of having each state providing its own Army – its “Militia” – for the defense of the individual State and for the purpose of providing a standing Army for the federal government. The people who would make up that “Militia” would be the citizens of the state, who would need weaponry to be able to fight in battle (not to mention that they already had these weapons for providing food for their families).

Fast forward to the 21st century and the theory of the state-run “Militia” has run its course. The federal government has the responsibility for the national defense, accepting volunteers from its citizenry, thus the theory that a person may have to join a “Militia” to defend their state or country is an antiquated one (no more so than blacks and women don’t have the right to vote, for example…that was also in the Constitution at one time). Since hunting has now also become a leisure activity for virtually everybody rather than a survival one, sane people would naturally examine the point of weapons in today’s society.

Secondly, let’s look at the situation from the evolution of weapons. In the 18th century, the weapon of choice for many in the Colonies was a musket, which took anywhere from two to five minutes to load up with a single shot. The weapon’s effective range was about 50 meters (roughly 164 feet), meaning you had to virtually be right beside your target before you squeezed the trigger (in those days, ammunition was expensive and not to be wasted). It was also fairly easy to see when you had your musket with you; at 60 inches (five feet), there wasn’t anywhere on your body to conceal the weapon.

Once again, let’s rocket through history to today. Weapons such as the AR-15 – which was the predecessor to the military usage M-16 – have become popular for ownership by civilians for their ease of use as well as their power. That weapon can be converted to be able to fire fully automatic, meaning it can spew rounds out at the rate of hundreds per minute (remember the musket was a shot every two to five minutes) and has an effective target range of 500 meters or more (in the hands of a military person or someone well trained on the weapon). Even a .45 automatic handgun can pop out rounds at around one per second (60) and has an effective range of about 100 meters, if the shooter is quick with the trigger and reloading the weapon. And this isn’t even introducing a weapon such as the M-60, a weapon with the range of 1200 meters and up to 2000 meters in a trained sniper’s hands. When comparing the two situations, any logically minded person might entertain the option, at the minimum, that the Second Amendment WASN’T written with today’s sophisticated weaponry in mind.

US Stupidity

Finally, let’s take a look at the general stupidity of those that own weapons today. In September the state of Georgia, who for some unexplainable reason allow for weapons to be carried in bars, was greeted with a shootout in a bar when several people whipped out their weapons just before 3AM in the morning. Three people were found shot there and seven others, looking to avoid police, took themselves to the hospital. Only the stupidity of not being able to aim a weapon properly prevented a significant loss of life in this instance.

Typing the search phrase “child finds gun and shoots” into Google returns over five MILLION results on the subject. Looking up “person cleaning gun shoots” returns over EIGHT MILLION hits, including a North Carolina father who shot his 10-year old son to death while wiping down his shotgun in 2013. Last year a Las Vegas gun instructor handed an Uzi to a nine-year old girl on a gun range. The girl, unable to properly control the weapon, killed the instructor immediately as she struggled with its power. These and other stories continually demonstrate the stupidity of the “American” to simply maintain their weapons safely, keep them out of the hands of those who might not know what to do with them or even momentarily pause to think if something this dangerous should be done at all.

The gun fanatics can be shot down quickly. “The only counter for a bad guy…” yeah…yeah…yeah. How many times has that “good guy” taken down the baddie? On the grounds of that community college in Oregon were several people with concealed/carry permits and at least one person who was actively carrying. What did they do to stop the situation? In such a situation, the objective is to head for cover, not open up like it’s the fucking Wild West and escalate a situation beyond what it is. The Virginia Tech shooting was done on campus in the midst of plenty of University police and security…the shooter stopped his rampage when he committed suicide. I don’t see these “good guys” civilians jumping up and, even if they could, their own personal logic and training would probably prevent them from taking action and making a situation worse.

“It’s a right…”yeah…yeah…yeah. It was previously a “right” for women not to vote, that slaves were 3/5 of a person (so much for that “all created equal” stuff), that you couldn’t drink, etc. Rights are critical to keeping society free, sure. Rights aren’t set in stone, however; recognize the end of slavery, women’s suffrage, civil rights and the end of Prohibition. Besides, if Donald Trump can debate the legality of the 14th Amendment, maybe it’s time we started to take a look at all of them in our current society.

“I’m protecting against the tyrant Obama and the New World Order…” yeah…yeah…yeah. You’re part of the problem, bub, and shouldn’t be holding a weapon if you believe in a conspiracy theory like that (the “New World Order” or Illuminati is pretty lame if it has been in existence for well over 600-700 years and hasn’t TAKEN OVER ANYTHING). Put down the weapon, step away from it slowly and pick up your tinfoil hat and binky to suck to help keep you calm. (Funny how we never heard about these armed “Militias” wanting to take down President Bush, isn’t it? Perhaps that’s a question for another time…)

The stupidity of “Americans” regarding weapons will continue until there is some change to the mentality. There are fewer restrictions on guns than there are on an automobiles; while admittedly not a right, driving an auto requires an age requirement, insurance, licensing, training on the vehicle (we just don’t allow anyone to jump into a gasoline tanker truck without the proper training) and, if they don’t abide by the rules, then people are punished both financially and with their very freedom. Why can’t the same thing be done regarding our love affair with guns? If your too stupid to be able to handle them responsibly, then you don’t need to have them at all.

I won’t go through the litany of civilized nations that have come up with the answer to the questions we United States citizens face regarding the gun issue. If we continue to let the stupid rule the issue, however, we are doomed to continual tragedy. If we cannot get this system under control, then we will continue to see (to paraphrase a Jimmy Buffett song about ignoring problems around you) “a river of blood pouring out from a wound that will not heal.”

A Correct Move Taken Too Far


It may seem like it was eons ago, but in reality it has been exactly one month. On the night of June 17, a young man named Dylann Roof strolled into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for evening bible services. He was joined by ten black parishioners, including the senior pastor and South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney, as they enjoyed their evening of fellowship and worship with each other. As the bible study came to a close, Roof allegedly pulled a Glock 41 .45 caliber handgun and opened fire. After five reloads, nine of the parishioners laid dead; the tenth was spared by Roof allegedly so that person could tell the story of Roof’s attack.

Law enforcement quickly caught Roof in North Carolina the next morning and extradited him back to the quaint Southern city by the Atlantic Ocean, resplendent with its Spanish moss hanging from the trees, palmetto trees swaying in the wind off the beaches and seeped in the history of not only the United States but of the Confederate States of America (Fort Sumter was the site of the first shots of the Civil War in 1861). Further investigation, however, revealed an ugly truth that many have turned their heads to over the years. Roof, through leaving his one victim alive in the church (it is reported he told her he wanted to start a “race war”) and through a manifesto on a website allegedly his that featured photographs of him posing with the Confederate Battle Flag as well as standing on  the U. S. flag while spitting on it, brought to light the horrific factor that a relic of the South had now been corrupted into something viewed with hatred by many U. S. citizens.

Before we go on, we must establish the history. The Battle Flag was in no stretch the official flag of the CSA. There were three different flags that were tried by the government, but all bore too much of a resemblance to the U. S. flag for soldiers from either side to be able to differentiate between the two in the heat of battle. Thus, the Battle Flag – most notably carried by General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia but also carried by other Confederate factions – was used so troops could see where their side of the battle was located.

Following the end of the Civil War, the Battle Flag’s usage drifted off, supposedly into history. That would take a turn, however, when Southern Democrats, stifling under the boot heels of the Reconstruction period and the stiff penalties that were imposed by the victorious North and the Republican Party, formed the racially motivated Ku Klux Klan and resurrected the banner, in essence, as their battle flag. While also carrying U. S. flags in several marches through the early part of the 20th century (including a particularly noteworthy march through Washington, D.C.), the Battle Flag was more commonly used in the South along with the Battle Flag.

In 1894 the Battle Flag was incorporated into the state flag of Mississippi, where it flew until 1906 when a legal error failed to give the state either an official flag or a coat of arms. That banner was the de facto flag of the state until 2001, when it was officially put back into use for a short period before being replaced. It was also used in the flag of Georgia beginning in 1956 when the Georgia General Assembly used a design from a man named John Sammons Bell, who supported segregation across not only the Palmetto State but also the former Confederacy. That flag flew until 2001, when it was removed.

In 1961 the South Carolina General Assembly added the Battle Flag to the flagpole under the U. S. and South Carolina flags to “commemorate” the 100th anniversary of the Civil War, but it was also put there as a protest at the ever growing movement for civil rights among minorities, especially blacks, across the South and the remainder of the country. Those flags would all fly together until 2000, when the Confederate Battle Flag was moved from atop the South Carolina State House to a Confederate memorial on the State House grounds.

Everyone up to speed? Good…

Which brings us to last month and its aftermath. Instead of perhaps examining the issues that were at the forefront of the horrendous act – mental health, drug abuse or misuse and gun availability – South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley decided to use the moment (especially after the photos surfaced of Roof and the Confederate Battle Flag and his manifesto of white supremacy) to call for the Battle Flag’s removal from the State House grounds.

Really, what politician in his right mind had a chance in standing against that?

Not to say there weren’t those that tried, but the vote to remove the Battle Flag (which needed two-thirds of the House and the Senate) rocketed through the political process. Six days ago, amid a somber ceremony that was deserving of a memento of history and a crowd that thought they were at a British soccer match, the Confederate Battle Flag came down and was moved to a museum.

While many may cry that the Battle Flag is a part of their “heritage,” it isn’t exactly the heritage that you would like to remember. First off, the “heritage” is that of a treasonous act – secession from the United States – that, if performed nowadays, would have many screaming for the perpetrators to be shot on site. Secondly, the Battle Flag – despite its representation as the flag that thousands of Southern soldiers fought for – had been utterly corrupted by first the Southern Democrats, then the KKK and today by white supremacists. Germany has a heritage, too…but they choose not to fly the Nazi Party flag, which was once the official German flag, because of the baggage it has entailed in its existence. The removal of the flag from the South Carolina State House – and other official government buildings across the South – was long overdue and right in its execution.

Here’s where it might get interesting for some of you.

Since the removal of the Battle Flag in South Carolina, there have been other actions that are dubious at best. The television show The Dukes of Hazzard was removed from syndicated broadcasting because the Dodge Charger featured on the show and driven by the Duke boys, the General Lee, featured a Confederate Battle Flag ironically atop the roof. Video games were removed from the Apple Store because the games featured the flag during gameplay. This would prove to only be the tip of the iceberg, however.

There are movements across several Southern states to remove Confederate monuments from their locations, none probably more ludicrous than the idea to remove the carvings of General “Stonewall” Jackson, Confederate president Jefferson Davis and Lee from a mountainside in Stone Mountain, GA. Add into the fray movements to rename schools, other buildings and even streets that have ties with a Confederate history and it does reach the point of going too far.

The Civil War was the darkest period in U. S. history and there are some pretty bleak things that have been done in the name of this country. While the Battle Flag might have been unfairly blemished since that time, its removal was appropriate considering what it inspired in the South Carolina massacre. Taking that tragedy and using it any further, however, is wrong because it is an attempt to whitewash the historical significance of an event.

Rather than trying to act as if those four bleak years from 1861-1865 didn’t exist, why not demonstrate how far we as U. S. citizens have come? Even a school field trip from Robert E. Lee Middle School (literally tens across the U. S.) can learn about the man, the fact that he was a highly decorated graduate of West Point that battled for the Union in the Mexican-American War of 1846 and in Texas protecting U. S. citizens from Indian attacks in the early 1850s before defending his home of Virginia while seeing Confederate monuments and battlefields.

Just because one part of history has been tarnished is no reason to remove all of it from existence. It also isn’t a reason to remove it from entertainment or educational purposes. While the Confederate Battle Flag has reached the place it should have been many years ago – in a museum case – that’s not a reason to completely strip it from U. S. history.