Religion

Sixty Years Of The Space Age: A Time Of Great Achievements And Technological Advancements

Yesterday, October 4, was the 60th anniversary of the Space Age, as the Soviet Union shocked the world by orbiting an artificial satellite, Sputnik I, beginning the Space Race, leading to the United States landing on the moon on July 20, 1969, after promotion by John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. It was the age of Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, and so many other heroic astronauts.

It transformed American thinking, and helped to promote science, math, and technology, and the importance of promoting higher education.

So under President Eisenhower, we saw the enactment of the National Defense Education Act in 1958, and the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, with headquarters in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and later in Houston, Texas.

The Space Age promoted patriotism and excitement, as millions of Americans watched all of the launches of satellites and of astronauts on television.

This blogger remembers the uniqueness of the Space Age, and is still saddened by the lack of commitment to go further into space, with the argument that we could not afford the expenditure.

If we had continued the pace of the Space Age after the last mission to the moon in 1972, America would likely now have explored Mars, which now is a goal for the 2030s, after many lost decades.

The loss of interest in science, is a great tragedy, as many ignorant people have worked against it, instead advocating religion over science, to the detriment of the nation.

Trump-Putin Summit Meeting A Clear Sign That Putin Has Trump In His Grasp, Undermines Trump Legitimacy As President

The Trump-Putin Summit Meeting yesterday at the G-20 Summit is a clear sign that the Russian autocrat has our President in his grasp, and has undermined Trump’s legitimacy as our President.

All the intelligence agencies are absolutely certain that Russia intervened in our 2016 Presidential election, and helped Trump to win.

Trump has been unwilling to agree to the reality and the facts, calling it “fake news”.

Different versions of the meeting by the Russian Foreign Minister and our Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have emerged from the meeting, and the question is whether Trump really pressed the issue with Putin, and whether he will simply accept their version that they did NOT interfere in our election. A “robust” and “lengthy” discussion, as depicted by Tillerson, apparently was a distortion of the meeting, another lie of the Trump Presidency!

The idea that we had a summit meeting with only Tillerson as an observer, with his close past ties with Russia when he was head of Exxon Oil, is an outrage, when we should have had H. R. McMaster, the National Security Adviser, and or James Mattis, our Secretary of Defense, in the meeting. Between Trump and Tillerson, we had a grand total of 12 months experience in diplomacy, compared to many decades of experience by Putin and his Foreign Minister. This is an outrage that everyone should be alarmed about, and one can be sure many Republicans and conservatives in and out of Congress are truly alarmed!

IF Trump does not continue to challenge Putin and resist their propaganda, he will be permanently harmed, and we will have to worry that he is in league with them to help promote his fortunes, by their planned interference in our midterm elections in 2018 and the Presidential Election of 2020.

Can one even imagine the reaction if Barack Obama had colluded with Russia, or George W. Bush, or Bill Clinton?

Can one imagine how the far Right conservatives and the evangelical Christian Right, which have embraced Vladimir Put as a “Friend”, based on support of guns and opposition to gay rights, would have reacted if, in particular, Obama had done what Trump has done, promote a “bromance” with a man responsible for deaths of journalists and opponents, as revealed by Richard Engel in a one hour special on MSNBC last evening, part of a new series titled “On Assignment”?

The idea that men and women who profess religion could unite with a totalitarian dictator such as Putin only shows the corruption of right wing evangelicals, such as Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham! The idea that right wing commentators, such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Mark Levin, among others, would just accept that Putin is no danger to America, is also a true example of how lacking in substance these characters are, only concerned about making as much profit as possible on their propaganda, and no concern about American national security!

The way things look now, Donald Trump is truly the “Manchurian Candidate”, and we are permitting the Russians to infiltrate and undermine our political system with equanimity, instead of with alarm!

The 4th Of July In The Trump Era: America Has Lost Its Way!

Today is the 241st anniversary of Independence Day, declared in 1776.

America was a great experiment in being a republic, and over the nearly two and a half centuries since, America ended slavery; opened its arms to scores of immigrants from all over the world; expanded the right to vote to all citizens over time, no matter what race, religion, nationality, or gender they were; promoted a social safety net; and expanded public education to all.

The Constitution was expanded to face modern realities; and both major political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, contributed to the advancement of tolerance and justice and equal opportunity; and the Supreme Court became a body that dealt with expansion of civil liberties and civil rights.

There were many detours along the road to today, but overall, progress was made, and a sense of optimism reigned.

And then, September 11 occurred, and the nation’s politics veered from one viewpoint to another and then to what is now present, a dark view of our nation, its people, and the world.

We live in the Trump era, which is in process of delaying, deleting, and destroying so much progress that has been accomplished in the 20th and early 21st centuries.

We are seeing race, religion, ethnicity and gender being used in an abusive manner to take away basic civil liberties, civil rights, common decency, and a sense of civility.

We are seeing the wealthy becoming the most stratified group in American history, and the middle class, created in the 20th century, destroyed, and the poor being treated in a shabby fashion.

One political party, the Republicans, has become the party of negativism, hatred, prejudice, and pure nastiness, and we have seen the shift of the Supreme Court toward a hard right conservatism that brings back memories of the Gilded Age Supreme Court.

It is as if we are in a time warp, and have reverted to 140 years ago!

So while we celebrate our national holiday, we have a lot to mourn, and it MUST make all of us determined to fight and resist with all our abilities combined, to resolve this crisis in a constitutional manner, with the removal of Donald Trump from the Presidency, as a tyrant and authoritarian figure who has met his match with our Constitutional remedy!

The Donald Trump Voters And Loyalists: Their Characteristics

One listens and watches news coverage of Trump voters and supporters, and remains amazed that his followers fail to see any shortcoming in Donald Trump, and remain loyal, more than 90 percent so after four disastrous months, as of today, May 20.

We have never had a President stir up so much trouble and chaos in four months in office, and have nothing to show for it, except one Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch.

What motivates these Trump voters and loyalists? What are their characteristics?

It seems clear the following is a list of factors in no special order.

Many are highly religious, whether Catholic, Christian, or Jewish, and they are accustomed to the acceptance of authority and hierarchy, and are not the type to challenge, but rather accept.

Many are poorly educated, have low self esteem, and hate educated, smart people, and the concept of “facts”.

Many are struggling to survive economically, and fail to see that the “swamp” that Donald Trump pledged to destroy, is in full control, with all of the billionaires and multimillionaires, so they have been successfully bamboozled by a true demagogue, who could not care less about the plight of the working class whites who supported him.

Many are, sorry to say, pure racists, nativists, antisemites, and Islamophobes, who hate African Americans, Latino Americans, Asian Americans, Jewish Americans, and Muslim Americans, who they feel are “stealing” the “birthright” of white Christian Americans, who are “entitled” in a way these groups are not.

Many are believers that the family structure has been destroyed by feminism, and believe woman should be second class citizens, and sadly, many of their wives and daughters and sisters and girlfriends are too willing to accept their status as being inferior, having been brought up to “obey” men, and strict orthodoxy in religion promotes that.

Many of the men love the kind of raw, gross behavior of Donald Trump, as he is seen as like “one of the guys” at the local bar, the local hangout, and as an example of the macho male, that many have been brought up to believe is a good trait.

Many have no compassion for others who are sick, disabled, or poor. as those are seen as signs of weakness, except when those close to them suddenly end up in one of these categories, a total contradiction of their way of life.

Many are simply those who have no understanding of the importance of government, and are basically selfish and self centered, and have no social commitment to anyone they do not know personally.

Sadly, these characteristics demonstrate that America has about one third to 40 percent of the nation which contributes nothing positive to the future of America, but allow a small class of wealthy, mean spirited people to dominate and control their reasoning and emotions.

There is no simple answer as to how to combat this trend, but it is a sign of danger for the future of the American nation.

History Tells Us Many States Are Not Protective Of Their Population: Reason Why We Need Federal Government!

Conservatives and libertarians love to promote the propaganda that “states rights” are the best government, and that state governments are there for their population’s needs.

History tells us otherwise, clear and simple.

“States rights” promoted 76 years of slavery under the Constitution, until it was ended by the Union winning the Civil War over the Confederacy.

“States rights” promoted segregation of the races for nearly a century after the Civil War until the 1960s.

“States rights” promoted laws against marriage, including blacks and whites, and gays and lesbians.

“States rights” promoted vigilante justice, including lynchings, chain gangs, and overly harsh criminal justice laws.

“States rights” promoted men having dominance over their wives in marriages, and resulting abuses toward women.

“States rights” promoted inferior education, including denial of historical facts, and of science, favoring religious ideas over facts.

“States rights” promoted violations of voting rights, with the intent of ruling white upper classes controlling who could vote.

“States rights” promoted denial of health care to people, while insisting on all fetuses being taken to birth against a woman’s wishes.

“States rights” promoted resistance to the Bill of Rights, and to federal government political, social, and economic reforms that made America pursue the goals of democracy, equality, and justice.

Those states that have regularly promoted “states rights” have been the most backward, the most discriminatory, the most regressive. the poorest, and have depended on the more advanced and open minded states for their economic existence.

It is the “Red” states, those in the old Confederate South, and in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain West, where we see the worship of “states rights”, as long as the elite political and religious hierarchy keep control over their populations, and keep them ignorant and under mind control.

History tells us that these states are not protective of the needs of their population, the reason we need a strong, assertive federal government, ready to step in, and having bettered life for people who are seemingly unaware how they have been manipulated by corrupt state governments.

Republican Destruction Of Obama Care Will Cause 25,000-50,000 Deaths Per Year, A True Crime Against Humanity!

The Republican Party assault on Obama Care is a heartless attack on life itself, as estimates are that destruction of our health care system will cause 25,000 to 50,000 deaths per year of people who have survived and thrived precisely because they had health care insurance and coverage for the first time in their lives. This is 137 people per day, about 6 per hour, and when one looks at those numbers, it is sobering that we have such lack of concern about the unnecessary loss of life.

Millions of people, many of them children and adults with serious diseases and health conditions, have been able to wake up daily knowing they had the ability to gain health care, without having to choose between that and eating.

And the argument that the wealthy are being taxed for this, the answer is that so what, they have such tremendous advantages, and it is part of their social responsibility to contribute without anger to the well being of their fellow Americans.

The obsession with hatred of taxes is a communicable disease which has, and will continue to have, a deleterious effect on America’s future, as those who are wealthy do not need more money, but rather compassion and empathy.

Also, one cannot claim to be “religious”, no matter what faith, and claim that the goal of life is to enrich himself or herself at the expense of others, but rather follow the teachings of the prophets and be willing to support the needs of those less fortunate.

Empathy Important Trait For Any Political Leader, Particularly A President Of The United States, Missing In The GOP And Donald Trump!

Empathy is one of the most important traits that any political leader needs to govern effectively.

Sadly, the Republican Party and most of its leadership totally lacks empathy, and instead is very harsh and judgmental toward those who are not fortunate enough to be born wealthy.

They fail to have concern for poverty stricken people, blaming them for their own plight.

They fail to have concern for those who are sick and or disabled, and wish to cut benefits, including ObamaCare, which has given millions of Americans their first health care.

They fail to care about the tragedy of veterans who often have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from their experiences fighting in America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the basic stresses of being in the military.

They fail to care about discrimination, racism, nativism, and misogyny, and often encourage rhetoric and actions, which further alienate large sections of population within America.

They allow religion to be utilized in a way to promote hate and division, and look the other way as they endorse hypocrisy.

The candidacy of Donald Trump only emphasizes ever more these terrible traits, as Trump is totally clueless and uncaring about the American people, often insulting, denigrating, demeaning, ridiculing, bullying, and showing total disdain for anyone who dares to challenge his disgraceful behavior and rhetoric.

Instead of taking responsibility for his own shortcomings, Trump lashes out at the news media for exposing his actions and words, thereby attempting to turn the American people against the news media and the concept of Freedom of the Press.

The Republican Party has been complicit in this kind of attack, even before Donald Trump emerged as a significant political force, and they represent a threat to our Bill Of Rights.

The last time this happened, the Federalist Party attack on the Bill of Rights under John Adams, with the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798-1801, resulted in the demise of the party over the next generation.

The Mormon Factor In The Electoral College Prognostications

The Mormon Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) is an important factor in the American West.

Usually, Mormons as a group are conservative Republicans, but the odds are growing that states that would usually vote Republican might not vote for Donald Trump, due to his religious bigotry displayed toward Muslims, as Mormons suffered persecution in the 19th century on their trek to Salt Lake City, Utah, and Mitt Romney, himself a Mormon, is vehemently against Trump.

60 percent in Utah, 24 percent in Idaho, and 9 percent in Wyoming are Mormons,with 4-5 percent in Nevada, Arizona, and Montana. Only about 2 percent in America are Mormon, similar to Jews in population and percentage.

The most Mormon states are Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming, with a total of 13 electoral votes. Nevada, Arizona, and Montana follow, with a total of 20 electoral votes. All of these six states, except Nevada, have been reliably Republican.

So we are talking about a possible loss of 27 electoral votes, not counting Nevada’s six electoral votes.

Donald Trump cannot afford to lose these states, but he could, indeed, some or all of them going to Democrat Hillary Clinton over the religious issue!

Boycott Of North Carolina And Mississippi Over Anti Gay, Anti Transgender “Religious Freedom” Law Under Way, And Totally Appropriate!

North Carolina and Mississippi have gone terribly backwards, with their recent passage and signing of anti gay and anti transgender legislation, claiming it is an issue of “religious freedom”.

Sorry, but religion does not teach prejudice, hatred, or discrimination as part of its tenets, certainly not in Christianity, or does it? If one looks at the history of the religion, there is no question that sects of the faith historically have advocated anti Semitism, racism, misogyny, and homophobia, but this is 2016, and this is unacceptable!

So it is appropriate that Bruce Springsteen cancels a concert in North Carolina; that Paypal refuse to expand in that state; and that the National Basketball Association cancel its All Star game in 2017 in North Carolina.

The same can be said about Mississippi, that all action by corporations, and including sports and entertainment, MUST be utilized to force these states to rescind these laws, or suffer, including cuts in federal aid to those states, now being considered by the US government.

Donald Trump: A Mix Of Wendell Willkie, George Wallace, And Ross Perot

Donald Trump’s Presidential candidacy has brought back memories of three other Presidential candidates.

First is Wendell Willkie, a corporate leader and Wall Street industrialist from Indiana who had never run for public office, who wowed the Republican convention in 1940 with his charisma, rhetoric, and attack on “career politicians”.  He was able to win the Republican Presidential nomination in 1940, and run a good but losing race against the master politician, Franklin D. Roosevelt, running for an unprecedented third term.

Next is George C. Wallace, Governor of Alabama, who formed the American Independent Party in 1968, rallying those opposed to the Civil Rights laws passed under Lyndon B. Johnson.  He attracted angry working class whites, and won 13.5 % of the popular vote, the fourth best percentage for a third party in American history.  He also won five Southern states and 46 electoral votes, making him the second best in total states and electoral votes in American history, only behind former President Theodore Roosevelt, who won six states and 88 electoral votes as the nominee of the third party known as the Progressive (Bull Moose) party, in 1912.  TR also is the only third party nominee to end up second, rather than third in the election results.  His campaign in 1912 decimated the Republican Party under President William Howard Taft, and helped to elect Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

And then we have Ross Perot, a billionaire businessman who had never run for public office, who ran an independent race twice, winning nearly 19 percent of the vote in 1992, and 8 percent of the vote in 1996, while winning no states in the Electoral College.  He appealed to those who were disgusted with the federal government, and worried about the growing national debt.  His candidacy undermined the Republican Party nominees, President George H. W. Bush in 1992 and Senator Bob Dole in 1996, and elected Democrat Bill Clinton twice.

Now we have Donald Trump, a billionaire, who has developed an appeal to those who are disillusioned with politics and the federal government, making him similar to Perot.  But Trump also appeals to the baser instincts in many people, those who dislike African Americans, Latinos, immigrants in general, in these ways having similar views  to Wallace.  These Trump supporters  also think women should not be treated equally, preferring the old image of women who should cook, clean, and be available for the sexual satisfaction of their men, but with no rights over their bodies and reproduction,  similar to the Tea Party Movement.  Also, there is a distaste for labor rights, and for the environment, and an orientation toward absolute belief in religion as the gospel, and a repudiation of science.

Can Trump “storm” the Republican Party, as Wendell Willkie did in 1940; or will he run on a third party, like Ross Perot, and make it impossible for the GOP to win the White House?  And will Trump continue to appeal to the George Wallace type voters, and promote a right wing populism as Wallace did?

This is what is yet to be evolving, but in many ways, Trump is a combination, right now, of Willkie, Wallace, and Perot!