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Tea for Trouble – right here in Republican City

This was written in 2011 about the 2008 elections and immediately after.  I wonder, though, if anything has changed.  The Republican Party may be, as some have accused – hijacked by a fringe element.  I hope the true, intelligent and broad-minded Republicans make their voices heard louder and clearer than the Tea Party.

Whether or not the tea partiers originally had a legitimate complaint is irrelevant when one looks at their chosen group behavior to express it.   Whether viewing it from a religious, spiritual, emotional, or psychological level, their group behavior is all the same:  unacceptable, improper and detrimental to anyone’s good.  Flash back to October 2008 when the stakes were for the highest governing office in the land.

“From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate.”  Socrates 

The Washington Post reported on the absurd negativity of one Republican rally.  When the Republican vice presidential candidate talked against then candidate Obama, the crowd shouted “Boooo!” and one man yelled, “Kill him!”  The candidate was pleased at the reaction.  The crowd (mob) even turned against the press.

In a Republican rally in Clearwater, the reporters were greeted with shouting taunts by the 3,000 or so gathered.   When the respected journalist, Katie Couric, was publicly accused of asking the “wrong” things on purpose just to make the Republican vice presidential candidate “look” unsuccessful, the mob began to wave sticks and shout abuse at the gathered reporters.  Some hurled obscenities at a camera crew, calling out to an African American soundman, “Sit down, boy.”  “Getting ugly out there,” ABC’s Jake Tapper was reported to have stated.

American News Project went inside a Republican rally to watch the vice presidential debate, where it witnessed Republican supporters booing the moderator and laughing when Sen. Joe Biden got choked up talking about his first wife and daughter’s deaths.

November 2008.  Newsweek reported that the Secret Service gave the Obama campaign reports that “a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October” occurred at the same time that many crowds (mobs) at Republican rallies became more frenzied.  Now flash forward to the present.

In March of 2010 journalists reported on the tea baggers” abusive and derogatory attacks against select members of Congress.  Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo) was spat upon.  Representative John Lewis (D-Ga), who championed the civil rights movement and became a hero himself, was called a “ni-er”.  Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass) was mocked by lisp sounds and called a faggot.

Kjell Magne Bondevik, a Lutheran minister and politician who is served as Prime Minister of Norway and is currently the President of the Oslo Centre for Peace and Human Rights, has been credited with making this observation; “Extremists and populist movements are exploiting people’s fear of those who are not like us.

We can see the consequences in the form of terrorism and racially motivated violence.” The Republican mob is calling itself the Tea Party to invoke historic memory of the establishment of our country.

Whoa, Nellie.  I am not buying the false patriotism.

This country was established by refugees who were escaping governments that hounded them with hate, bigotry, discrimination and intolerance.  America was about religious freedom, civil liberties and the right to happiness that cones from peaceful and healthy living among its citizens.

Instead of promoting the vision of the early colonists, the tea partiers are trying to create the very same environment that the first settlers came here to escape. In addition to the slight-of-hand with the naming of the group (now you see patriotism, now you don’t), the tea partiers have chosen to follow people who are….strange.

Their primary figure is a former governor who quit public service to become a well-paid speaker and state tour guide.  Her lies, sneers, sarcasms and greed have been well documented for all to see.  But the necessary rhetoric to incite the emotions is there in spades:  sneering, sarcasm, and “reload” directives, so one can understand the attraction she holds for the tea partiers.  And on her part, she can make fun of them and be exactly what they despise and get away with it.   She coyly dismisses the low-economic population that is setting the tone and behavior of the tea partiers.  She calls them Joe Sixpack, which conjures up 1) male figures who 2) sit on their behinds and drink.  Just because a person is economically limited does not mean they are 1) only males and 2) sit instead of working hard and 3) drink away their paychecks.  It is demeaning to this class of hard-working Americans and yet the tea partiers wear the label like a compliment.  She is also sarcastic towards the dreaded “elitist,” which she desperately wants to be.

I agree with her desire.  An elitist, by Webster’s definition, is a great thing to be: the choice or best of a group, class, or the like.  Yet even though she strives to set herself apart from the group that wants her to represent them by demanding a high salary and star treatment, she knows she is not quite there yet.   So her anger is quite real.

In spite of its good purpose, anger is an emotion that has been overused by the tea partiers.  Anger was meant to be an appropriate, healthy response that alerts us to the need for a change in behavior, direction or expectations.

Who can fault anyone for being angry at the two wars we have been carrying for too long, the loss of jobs, income, security, and self-respect, or health care coverage to pay our health care bills?

But she who represents the tea partiers is not angry about any of those.  In fact, she approves of the aggressive war tactics, is making quite enough money for herself, thank you, and slams any attempt to care for the health and well-being of our most vulnerable:  her Joe Sixpacks, our children and elderly.  She has snowed the tea partiers into seeing what they want to see in her, not who she is.  It is sad until you realize it is the choice of the tea partiers to be fooled, so all empathy goes right out the window.  (Which she can probably see because she sees a lot from her windows.)

“False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.”  Socrates 

I don’t buy the pleas from tea partiers that declare they are misunderstood, maligned and just plain ole good folks voicing an opinion; that those against their group behavior are “elitists,” “liberals,” or plain old dorky Democrats.  One has only to observe behavior to know character.   Those who proudly proclaim themselves tea partiers and rally behind a public figure who is dishonest, a cheap bully and advocate of fear mongering, are secretly or not so secretly, choosing to create and promote evil.

No one who honors truth and integrity could support what this group is doing.

In pre-WW II Germany, there was an organization that was originally focused on a healthy back-to-nature theme.  However, by the mid 1930s with Hitler’s rise to power, the face of the organization had changed.  Each member was considered a “soldier of an idea” and that the individual worth of each member was the complete surrender to the organization’s views.

Though many tea partiers are middle-aged or older, there is an eerie echo of the Hitler obsessive dedication to a group mentality. No self-respecting member of any group endorses a mob mentality, which is exactly the role the tea partiers have embraced.

What is confusing, though, is why the Republican Party does not see the harm this faction is causing.   Unless…the tea partiers ARE the voice of the Republican Party?

Yipes.

So where do the rest of us go from here?

There are many options.

“He is a man of courage who does not run away, but remains at his post and fights against the enemy.”  Socrates 

The reverse elitist approach the tea partiers use in their separate and conquer tactic is recognized by most Americans for what it truly is:  an anti-religious, anti-spiritual and anti-American movement.

Many people, especially women, are dismayed by the tea partiers’ intention to gain control of government by polarizing this country.  Our religious and our spiritual beliefs focus on healing the coming together of humanity in respect and dignity that mirrors a Divine Source.  It practices the Golden Rule of doing onto others as you would do onto yourself; the biblical directive to treat your fellow human as your brother or sister; the “love thy neighbor” intention.  If the god of the tea partiers who they purport to respect, were to have a second chance at the Ten Commandments, there would be an addendum:  “Incite no mob to violence, no mouth to utter slurs, and no action to shame the love that has created you.”

Write your elected officials and party leaders to insist they speak out publicly against any behavior that exhibits violent rhetoric, racism, discrimination and mob behavior.   Write to every Republican you can and insist the Party denounce this wild faction.  The Republican Party unleashed this fury, now it is time for them to reel it back in.

Vote only for those who reject this hate group movement.  E-mail your news stations and demand that they stop sensationalizing the tea partiers by limiting the video coverage of their antics.  Ask that the news substitute international events for the numerous yells and verbal abuse displayed at these gatherings.   Comment on articles of tea partiers with calm, thoughtful expressions of disapproval for their behavior.   Refuse to support any person, organization or event that promotes this group.  Voice your disapproval when it comes into the conversation.  Talk tolerance, acceptance, diversity, and civil liberties.  Model the appropriate, calm and respectful behavior when voicing an opinion or disagreement.

Or, you can start a quieter movement of one.

Dr. Wayne Dyer, in his book The Power of Intention, refers to research from Dr. David Hawkins, well-known psychiatrist and researcher of kinesiology, in illustrating the notion that one individual can impact thousands.  Based on his ideas of counterbalancing energies, Dr. Hawkins presents the position that one person who is optimistic and non-judgmental of others will counterbalance the negativity of 90,000 individuals who are not; one person who is loving and respectful of life will counterbalance the negativity of 750,000 people who are not; one person who lives in constant peace and spiritual joy will counterbalance the negativity of 10 million people who do not.   Finally, one person who lives in pure, transcended spiritual grace will counterbalance the negativity of 70 million people.

There is no way can I live in pure grace and counterbalance the negativity of 70 million people.   I am too insulted at idiocy, too vulnerable to wants, and just plain too ornery for everybody else’s good.  I might have the chance of affecting 90,000 people, tops.  I can live with that.   Of course, if another person joined me on this first level, that would lessen the negativity of 180,000 people.  A total of 17 people being optimistic and non-judgmental would positively impact my entire home city.  67 optimistic and non-judgmental people would positively impact the whole state.  Perhaps more importantly, I would only need .007 of a person to counterbalance the United States Congress.

These are good enough odds for me.

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[A Tea Party bilboard hung in Iowa.  Methinks thy heading was a little too close to home in describing the good ole Tea Party itself.   Under (enlightened) public pressure, the billboard was later removed.]

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It’s my Birthday…Got a Wish

It’s my birthday month.  I’m not like most…I love birthdays.  Not the acknowledgment that one gets older, but the chance to tell and be told, that someone else is glad your or their spirit arrived upon this earth.   I have a wish, and since it’s my birthday month, I thought I would share it.  Like, anyone could stop me.  (It’s also an election month.  Lots of wishes there, but I’ll stick to my birthday wish.)

We all share common survival needs for food, clothing, water, shelter, a physical need for safety, predictability and certainty, and a sense of connection and community.  We recognize the frailties of our physical bodies and how close madness is when pitched against the disease of substandard wages and the ongoing torture of unemployment.

The decline started with Reagan, and no president since then prior to Obama changed our nation’s course to protect us economically.  One man…one lone man as president without the backing of Congress…cannot change a lifetime of bad choices in 4 years.  (He might be able to do it in 5, though.)  I cannot find one non-political, objective and mathematical statistics to support the position that Obama caused this and could clean it up in four years.  That doesn’t mean you have to like the man.  Please look beyond the house of mirrors that reflect Obama as the sole instigator of our economic woes (all Europe is fighting as well), and discover the other issues that matter to you, that may be hidden.  I will share with you a fear I have as a very real female…he will protect my rights as a woman…the other candidates will not.

My wish for today is thus:  that all men out there against Obama consider choosing him to help protect me and the women in your lives who matter.  For although we are not a Taliban country yet…the other candidates are sure putting out a welcome mat for them, and I am deeply afraid.  In the end of course…vote your conscience.  All I ask is that if you can protect me as a female, that you do so with your vote.

Vote…it is our only voice to be heard as a united people for one cause:  good leadership and safety through freedom.

— ( c ) St. John 2012

Then We Women Must

There are haters in America peering out from under the sheets of religion, conservatism and family, and creating violence among us.  They crucify spirituality, freedoms, civil liberties, and human dignity, and our politicians are not containing them, but bowing down before their altars of discrimination and rage.

They are the underbelly of America that appalls other nations and they want more than anything to govern the rest of us by their hate, revenge, racism, homophobia, suppression of women, and mob action.

Who are they to be so arrogant as to bully the rest of us!?!

These inciters do not represent us, our sons and daughters, our families.  Our patriotism goes back to “United States,” “one nation,” and  “justice for all.”  We remember the Civil War and learned what history taught us:  we are a diverse people living together, not separate.  We differ with intelligence, not misspelled signs or insulting placards; we listen with respect, not place the crosshairs of rifle sights on the names of those who disagree with us.   We vote our preference, we do not vow to “reload” and attack.

If the powers that be won’t take a public stand against the sarcastic nastiness, the obvious lies, the unabashed prejudices more reminiscent of white cloaks and hoods or SS insignia…

If their political party won’t…

If the media won’t label them fanatics and dangerous…

…then we women must.

We women must speak out against the polarization and for unity; against hatred and for allowing of differences; against racism, homophobia and suppression of women and for diversity, economic equality and freedom over our bodies.

We women must do so and can simply and without fanfare, as our part of the conversation.  We must express our desire for unity, our respect for the dignity of all humans and our willingness to allow in our art, our attitudes and our teachings.

For if we women do not set the course of human events upon the path of intelligence, grace and compassion, it will not get done.

— © St. John 2010

The Legacy of Our Congress (Ouch, That Hurts!)

To garner an objective perspective of our Congress’s current policies and practices, I need a time warp machine that propels me into the future, one hundred years from now.

How would our Congress hold up?

It is the “non-war” wars I would notice first, and how we resolutely refused to learn from them:  Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, and now, Afghanistan and Iraq.  The trust our military men and women put into Congress was blatantly betrayed for its own political gains.  Our freedom of speech and right to protest without repercussions were put at risk in the process.

Then I spotted our children failing to read or use correct grammar.  Education is one of the areas where funds were routinely cut, and classroom sizes increased.  The people we had elected were officially against prioritizing and funding what is absolutely necessary for enhancing and growing the intellectual spirits of our young people.  (Personally, I think Congress doesn’t want to teach or children to think critically, because it would make their political and PAC ads more obviously slanted.)   And, rather than being nurtured, their creative and athletic spirits were completely rejected in favor of funding non-wars.

I heard the church bells ring and saw how our churches went wild.  The extreme “right” movement not only wanted religion dictated into our laws, it wanted only their religion.  The freedom to express individual religious views, separate from state, was nearly governmentalized right out of existence.

Rather than being cultivated and respected, the artistic spirit was belittled and abandoned by society.  Art and music were taken out of our classrooms, and “culture” became associated with silliness.

Congress allowed the continuing destruction of our environment, the slaughter of the American Dream of owning a home, and the loss of our nation’s reputation and subsequent negotiating power.

What would I conclude?

I would conclude that our country was still young, feeling its wings, and that these transgressions of Congress were all part of its growing up.

That makes Congress a teenager now.

The worst kind of teenager.

The worst kind of teenager uses drugs and sex for validation (officials preying on young and vulnerable pages, soliciting sex partners from madams or public bathrooms, taking away women’s health rights towards their bodies, but fully supporting their bodies wrapped around a pole and dancing for entertainment.   These teenagers impulsively follow the pack (whatever their party says, goes) to make an impression on their peers (their contributors, the president and vice president), not the courageous thinkers (the constituents who voted them in).  They’re mouthy to their elders (other countries) because they know it all and the elders are only stupid anyway.

These self-absorbed teenagers are predictable in their behavior.  They give people (France, Germany, Turkey, Russia) the cold shoulder when they don’t give into their demands (go into a preemptive war with us or else), to teach them a lesson.  “I’ll show them they can’t mess with me!” they smugly think.  They look to follow whatever is trendy (whatever buzz words the current lobbyists are using) and watch their peers closely (Homeland Security) to demean and reprimand them if they are “different” (denying civil union rights to homosexuals, continued lower pay for women, continued racist behavior in Jena and elsewhere).  They don’t care about others’ misfortune (disaster victims; third world starvation, aids, genocide) because no one else is in that 4’x4’ space they directly inhabit.  They are too egocentric to see any needs other than their own (veterans’ care kept horrifying substandard).

Our Congress’s conscience has completely disappeared.  Congress has steadfastly refused to mirror a sense of humanity, a sense of being a good family and a good neighbor.

At what point during Congress’s collective set of choices, did it stop being kind and foster good will?  When did Congress decide spirituality, doing the right thing for the right reasons, no longer mattered?

When did we Americans start electing self-serving teenagers to represent us in Congress and in the presidential administration?  For truly, I have come to believe that whoever is President is becoming more and more insignificant… those rogues behind an elected desk in Congress are the ones running our country and ruining our middles class, our stability, and our futures.

It is time we rein in those teenagers, before it is too late.  It is time we as a nation grew up and insisted that only integrity-based people represent us to the rest of the world.

Let us begin to care openly about others, allowing diversity as enriching, not threatening.   Let us continue to support the individuality, achievements, spirits, and bodies of our females.   Let us put money where our values should be, health care, job security, education, and civil freedoms.

Instead of ignoring us, let us remind Congress who really has the power:  its constituents.

Let us re-elect only that small handful of elected officials who protected our rights, our military and our veterans. Let us newly elect only those people who will add maturity, grace and common sense to our governments.

Instead of writing history, let us right history.

— ( c ) St. John 2007, 2012