Rex Tillerson warns military graduates of Trump’s “threat to democracy”

Since Trump’s poorly attended inauguration there have been precious few Republicans with the decency, or devotion to America, to condemn what they know is the clear and present danger of a lying fascist, and corrupt miscreant officially occupying the White House. There are a few theories regularly bandied about regarding why Republicans still support Trump when they know he is as corrupt as any Colombian drug kingpin or Mafia don, and all of them are plausible and likely contribute to why Republicans still support a crook.

With little opposition from Republicans, Trump has the entire GOP and conservative movement working in concert to demean and attack America’s federal law enforcement agencies and Department of Justice officials for doing their jobs. It is exactly what one expects from a criminal syndicate, which is what Trump has transformed Washington into with only a couple of resigning Republicans condemning the lying criminal and threat to democracy.

It would be refreshing if just one of the Republicans criticizing Trump was not making an exit from Washington politics, but any Republican condemnation is better than nothing at this point. In former Exxon Mobil CEO and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s case, his rebuke of Trump after being unceremoniously terminated via Tweet is not only welcomed, it is incredibly spot on. To Tillerson’s credit, he did call dumb Donnie a “fucking moron” while he was leading the State Department, but he should have expanded on the “fucking moron” theme while he was in office and called out Trump for being a dirty liar lacking any sense of ethics or integrity who is a threat to America.

While giving a commencement address last week at the Virginia Military Institute, Tillerson warned the graduating cadets that America’s democracy is being “threatened by a growing crisis of ethics and integrity.” Mr. Tillerson continued thus without ever mentioning Trump by name;

If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.”

Tillerson also warned that even the “small falsehoods and exaggerations” are problematic:

When we as people, a free people, go wobbly on the truth even on what may seem the most trivial matters, we go wobbly on America. If we do not as Americans confront the crisis of ethics and integrity in our society and among our leaders in both the public and private sector — and regrettably at times even the nonprofit sector (churches) — then American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years.”

Tillerson ended his address with a warning, and sound advice, to the graduating cadets as they prepare to enter the world:

Carefully consider the values and the culture of the organizations in which you seek to work. Look for employers who set high standards for ethical conduct.”

There was more to Tillerson’s address than just defaming Trump for creating an unethical cesspool in Washington, but it too was a not-so-subtle poke at Trump’s alleged expertise on international trade as well as the fascist habit of inciting hatred and contempt from America’s allies and trading partners. In what was deemed a “notable defense” of free trade and economic growth, Tillerson said:

Every nation has a right to aspire to a better quality of life, and that free trade and economic growth are the means by which opportunity is created for all people.”

That comment was as direct a reference to Trump as possible without mentioning his filthy name. And it carried weight coming from a man who was on the inside of a corrupt administration with an intimate insight into the head criminal; the punk who backs out of international agreements and then imposes “billions of dollars in tariffs on rivals and allies alike, and uses ‘America First’ as the official government’s guiding principle.”

Tillerson may not be an official member of “the resistance,” but he did as well as can be expected for a Republican and former Trump insider. He warned that “citizens must demand that America’s future be fact-based, not based on wishful thinking, not hoped-for outcomes made in shallow promises, but with a clear eyed view of the facts as they are and guided by the truth that will set us free to seek solutions to our most daunting challenges.”

There can be little doubt that Tillerson’s speech was tailored to warn the graduating class of allowing this particularly corrupt administration to continue unimpeded. It is interesting that Tillerson had to “regrettably” mention that the “non-profit sector” is just as unethical and mendacious as Trump. He could only have been referring to extremist evangelical non-profits that support Trump solely because they share a seemingly innate ability to lie and cheat for personal profit, power, and self-deification.

It is a shame that Tillerson waited until after he was out of Trump’s inner circle to lay waste to all things Trump. It gives the illusion that his remarks are borne of sour grapes at being fired by tweet. However, with the dearth of Republicans willing to call a spade a spade, or Trump a dirty lying corrupt thug, Mr. Tillerson’s rebuke of Trump is noteworthy. And although it was not as blunt as calling him a “fucking moron,” it was a relatively accurate portrayal of a piece of white trash who is so incapable of decency that he wouldn’t recognize integrity if it hit him in his bloated orange face.

Now DeVos wants separation of church and state in the “ash heap of history”

Despite what evangelical know-nothings the current administration is overflowing with claim incessantly, the intent of the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers is crystal clear regarding the “wall of separation” between church and state. Thomas Jefferson famously said in his second explanation of what the religious clauses in the First Amendment mean that,“No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever.”

In Trump’s “cesspool” administration, far too many evangelicals from Mike “preacher” Pence to J. Beauregard Sessions to that nasty “B” DeVos person, the idea of “not compelling” all Americans to support religious places is an affront to evangelical zealots and patently unconstitutional; and according to DeVos it needs to be “assigned to the ash heap of history.”

Seriously, this idea of abolishing the “separation” clause is only being proposed openly by the Trump theocrats because the media, almost all media, and Democrats are too terrified of ever alerting the American people that their government is being hijacked by a minority of the population made up of evangelical extremists with the undying support of Republicans. As this column has stated over two-hundred times over the past twelve years; it is not against any federal or state law to cite the unconstitutionality of allowing evangelical zealots to force their bastardized version of Christianity on the people.

Even though it is brutally painful for a secular humanist and two decade-long educator to see Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ name in print, or her face in an image because of the horrors she represents, it was with no great pleasure to learn that there is yet another DeVos theocratic atrocity to comment on. And like everything that DeVos and her evangelical ilk represent, it is a struggle to comment without getting downright nasty; especially when her latest outrage is a major threat to America as it has existed for 238 years.

Some Americans are aware that DeVos openly claimed her intent as Education Secretary is to change American culture in ways that more rapidly advance her god’s kingdom, but they may not be aware that she and her wealthy and powerful friends intend on meeting their 2020 “deadline for restoring religion and Judeo-Christian values under the Constitution.” It is a goal that requires deleting the Amendment in the Constitution that forbids the government from “imposing” any religion on the people; or compelling the people to “support religious worship, places, and ministries.”  It is why DeVos and her evangelical cabal want the Constitution’s “Establishment and Separation” clauses “assigned to the ash heap of history.”

DeVos made the not-so-stunning remark after spending two days visiting some schools in New York and then addressing an evangelical-corporate outfit, the Alfred E. Smith Foundation. It is noteworthy, but not atypical for DeVos, that during her two-day visit to New York schools, she  spent the entirety of her taxpayer-funded time “officially” visiting private religious schools; she refused to set foot into any of the public schools the agency she runs is tasked with overseeing and assisting.

In defending her intent to shift even more taxpayer money intended for public schools to private, for-profit, religious schools, DeVos lashed out at the so-called “Blaine Amendment” founded on the Separation and Establishment Clauses in the Constitution’s First Amendment.

The Blaine Amendment is the law of the land in 38 states that were intelligent enough to know that unless there is a clear state Constitution prohibition on robbing public school funding to pay for private religious instruction, the stinking evangelicals would attempt to skirt around the U.S. Constitution; something that is occurring regularly in Republican controlled states.

The Blaine Amendment simply forbids “direct government aid to educational institutions that have a religious affiliation.”

DeVos used her speech to the religious-corporate “non-profit” group to rail against what she considers an atrocity of biblical proportions; not allowing religious parents to rob public school funds to send their children to private, for-profit, religious schools.

The nasty piece of work said:

I know very well there are powerful interests that want to deprive families their God-given freedom. I know that those sycophants of ‘the system’ have kept legislators here from enacting a common-sense program that would open options to thousands of kids in need.”

Then she cited last year’s atrocious Supreme Court ruling, Trinity Lutheran v. Comer,allowing a church to rob public money for its playground as why abolishing 38 states’ Blaine Amendments is something the new theocracy has to do quickly in order to legally rob public school funding for private religious schools. She screeched:

As many of you know, the Supreme Court ruled in last year’s Trinity Lutheran case that it was unconstitutional for a playground restoration program funded by state-taxpayers to exclude a school ‘simply because of what it is – a church.’ These amendments should be assigned to the ash heap of history.

The dirty evangelical comment is tantamount to saying that the Separation and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment are destined for the “ash heap of history.” There is also the issue of another hypocritical Republican who regularly champions the States Rights when it contradicts federal law; unless it interferes with an agenda Republicans won’t comport. In this case those Blaine Amendments are founded on the U.S. Constitution so there is no “conflict.”  The only problem for the theocracy advocates is that those Amendments don’t allow the likes of DeVos to steal even more taxpayer dollars to fund religion.

There has been chapter and verse written about DeVos’ intent to decimate the public school system, including the Department of Education she leads. That was verified by a Dominionist Christian group with close ties to DeVos that devised what sane Americans would call “an alarming report” demanding the immediate end of the Education Department and a federal mandate promoting Christianity in “public schools.”

The report, an honest-to-dog evangelical manifesto, was handed to Trump and DeVos less than a month after Trump’s poorly attended inauguration. The Council for National Policy’s orders to Trump and DeVos were clear: “Restore education in America in accordance with historic Judeo-Christian principles.”  Translation: decimate public schools and create a system of taxpayer-funded evangelical madrassas with the Christian bible as curriculum.

Of course DeVos was already a major player and committed acolyte of the Council for National Policy organization, and Trump duly followed its orders in his first address to a joint session of Congress pledging his intent to provide all the taxpayer dollars necessary to fund private, for profit, religious schools; and this was after his call to drastically slash funding for the public schools system.

Look, this is getting serious rapidly and there seems to be little-to-no urgency to respond to America lurching towards an evangelical theocracy. It is true, of course, that religious Republicans have long advocated robbing the public schools to enrich the private religious school industry, but this is the first time anyone in a position like DeVos actually advocated sending the separation clause to the ash heap of history. It is true that Mike “preacher” Pence and J. Beauregard Sessions have called the Separation of Church and State patently “unconstitutional” and an unhistorical concept; but even those two evangelical maniacs have not called for deleting a major part of the First Amendment.

Although DeVos did not, in fact, call for sending the actual 1st Amendment to the ash heap of history, her call to abolish 38 states’ constitutional provisions founded on the First Amendment’s “wall of separation” informs that she and her dirty evangelical cohort will not rest until anything preventing a theocratic coup d’état, such as the First Amendment, is abolished and sent to the ash heap of history.

Image: Patheos

400-year-old trees cut down with blessings of Trump’s BLM

It is fair to claim that Republicans have done nothing positive for the American people over the past couple of decades at least; what can be termed “in the public interest” is of no use to Republicans. In fact, it is also a fair claim that Republicans have been relentless in taking away anything good about America no matter how popular or beneficial it is to the population, or how long it has been a crucial part of America.

With Trump in the White House, Republicans have been on a tear attacking anything of interest to the people, but it is not all down to dunce Don Trump. Republicans have crusaded, often in the shadows, to abolish decades-old programs created specifically for the people such as Social Security, workplace protections, social safety nets, financial regulations and anything remotely connected to FDR’s New Deal.

According to Republicans, and now Trump, there is nothing in or about America worth protecting or preserving any longer whether it is the New Deal, public land, or a 400 year old stand of trees on public, federally protected land, Nothing is sacred to Republicans or Trump if it involves the “public interest,” and a travesty in Oregon is a clarion call for action to preserve Americans’ land and their natural, national treasures.

Since Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, there has been a concerted effort to sate the land and natural resources lust of Utah Mormons and the Koch brothers who are funding the GOP’s “public land grab” for their vast lumber, mining, and fossil fuel industries’ profits. This raping and pillaging of the public’s land did not begin with Trump or his dirty Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke; it has been as important to the fossil fuel, mining, and lumber industries as the drive to wipe out the Environmental Protection Agency.  In fact, over that past few years, Republicans have enthusiastically embraced Mormon Cliven Bundy’s crusade to seize the public’s land and it is no coincidence that Trump went to Utah first to deliver precisely what the Utah Mormon’s have demanded for years – possession of federally protected public lands.

Before commenting on why there is a tiny minority of the population vehemently opposed to the concept of “public land,” and who is behind the highly-unpopular “land grab,” it is worth noting why this new policy of giving public land over to corporate interests is an atrocity.

Earlier in the month in Oregon, a private lumber company senselessly  wiped out a stand of 400-year-old trees on the public’s land. As noted by conservationists, some of the trees were old-growth cedars and Douglas firs and cannot be brought back anytime within the next two or three centuries. To make the matter that much more infuriating, the trees “were” home to an endangered species, the Northern Spotted Owl. And the denuding occurred without the public’s knowledge or input.

And just in case the public did discover what was about to transpire, Trump’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) allowed the private timber company, Lone Rock Resources, to build gates to keep the public and the media from even approaching the public’s land. Local residents were not amused and complained that the entire affair was done behind closed doors; likely because the outrage and protests would have been robust.

One outraged group on Facebook fairly summed up the entire process that is going to be occurring regularly in Trump’s America to sate Utah Mormons, Republicans, and the Koch brothers. The group rightly said:

Your public lands are being handed away behind closed doors without your say so, and regardless of protest.”

The regional director for a conservation group, Cascadia Wildlands, stated how outrageous of an insult, and serious assault on natural treasures, this action was:

It’s very rare to find old-growth forests like this, and it’s going to be cut down for a senseless road.”

The private lumber company needed a “senseless road” to easily access a few acres of plantation land it intends to  clear cut (denude}, so it “legally” wiped out a stand of “rare” old-growth trees with the blessings of Trump’s Interior Department. The issue isn’t only the blatant disregard for trees older than America, or wiping out the habitat of an endangered species of owl, or that Trump’s BLM under Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is keeping the public unawares that their lands, and their natural resources, are being decimated to profit a private enterprise. It is that it is being done on the public’s land and against the public’s wishes; all to profit a private company. And although that land won’t be “public ” much longer, no groups will be happier than Utah Mormons and the Koch brothers. And it is not just this author’s opinion either. And no, there is no author bias against Mormons; just their belief that the federal government cannot own and protect the public’s land.

Some Americans may recall that the main complaint of Mormon extremist Cliven Bundy of the infamous “Bundy Ranch Standoff” was what he called the abomination of “public land” under protection of the land’s owner, the federal government. That “standoff” incited Republicans to join the Mormon and Koch brothers crusade to force the federal government to cede its ownership of protected “public lands” to Republican controlled states to sell off to private interests.

Republican governors and members of Congress jumped at the opportunity to aid the Bundy Mormons’ demand that the federal government immediately cede ownership of all national forests and public lands to the states; going so far as anointing Bundy as a true American hero and patriot. Bundy’s bent about the federal government owning land was, and still is, a longstanding issue with Mormons. But Republicans joined the fight to aid the Koch brothers.

In fact, Republicans would likely write and pass legislation forcing the government to hand over its land directly to the Koch brothers, but that may raise suspicions among Americans that Utah Mormons and Republicans in Congress exist to enrich the Koch brothers. It is particularly true since several Utah Republicans have cultivated a reputation as honest-to-dog “public lands enemies.”

Where the Mormon’s believe their god-given destiny is taking all land in the West, the Kochs believe they are destined to take all of the nation’s natural resources; no matter whose land it is. As Christine Colbert confessed in an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Mormons believe religiously that their crusade to force the federal government to relinquish ownership of the public’s land is simply “an effort to ‘take back’ what they believe is rightfully theirs.” Based on the staggering amount of money the Kochs are investing in the Utah Republicans’ land grab agenda, they obviously believe the nation’s natural resources are “rightfully theirs.”

This land grab, and decimation of the public’s national treasures, is a highly unpopular proposal. To belabor the point, last year Zinke’s EPA solicited public comments hoping to find that most Americans were like Utah Mormons, but he discovered that 98 percent of respondents were not only favorable about keeping public land, monuments and national parks as they are now, they “favored” expanding them. Shortly after learning of the public’s favorable opinion about their federal land, Zinke went directly and recommended that Trump modify (read shrink) at least 10 National Parks and Monuments.

Now, if anyone is curious about which demographic makes up the 2 percent of the population opposed to public lands, parks and monuments, consider that Mormons in America make up 1.7 percent of the population. It is likely no stretch of the imagination that the remaining 3-tenths of one percent are in the mining, lumber and fossil fuel business. As noted by people keeping score, it is primarily the Mormons and Koch brothers driving the GOP’s land grab agenda and plans to sell off federal land, national parks and monuments to private enterprise.

Some Americans may think cutting down 400-year old “natural monuments” is no big deal, even if it was to profit a private timber company. But what happened in Oregon is already in the works across the nation and along its coastlines. There are big plans to begin mining highly-toxic uranium in Utah and the Grand Canyon, and besides despoiling Americans’ land, threatening their health and their national treasures, the plans will primarily benefit a Canadian uranium producer, Energy Fuels. It is unclear if Energy Fuels is following China’s and other foreign nations’ lead and bribing Trump for favors, but it is not out of the realm of possibility whatsoever.

Look, the public lands, national parks, monuments, and wilderness areas belong to all Americans; it is one of the things that really “made America great” because they benefit all the people. But what the people want is of no consequence to Trump, Republicans, Utah Mormons or the Koch brothers; especially if it is beneficial to all the people. In fact, it almost appears that Republicans are crusading to take the public’s land and hand it over to corporate ownership simply because the overwhelming majority of people have a highly-favorable opinion of their public land. But the truth is that there is big money for the Kochs, and religious satisfaction for the Mormons; neither will be sated until they have stolen the entirety of Americans’ lands to rape and pillage at their pleasure.

Theocracy Alert: LGBT students forced to read bible as punishment

No doubt human beings read the Christian bible for various reasons whether it is to learn how to live according to Stone and Bronze Age sensibilities in the 21st Century, or to verify that America’s bastardized version of the faith is founded on fantastical lies, or for academic studies into archaic mythology and superstition. For some people it is probable that reading the Christian bible is sheer torture, and it may explain why an Oregon school forced LGBTQ students to read Christian bible scriptures as punishment.

First, although America officially began lurching towards becoming an evangelical theocracy shortly before Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, it is still patently unconstitutional to insert any religion into public education – regardless what “preacher” Pence or Education Secretary and evangelical extremist Betsy DeVos believe. It almost certainly occurs often but is hardly reported for a couple of reasons. Either because victims are terrified of the theocrats, or because there are far too many evangelical extremists in power who regularly flout the U.S. Constitution by inserting and promoting some form of the Christian religion in public schools they refuse to accept or believe that their Christian bible is not the Constitution and ultimate law of the land and they will inflict damage on anyone claiming otherwise.

It is noteworthy that the evangelical extremists who reject the Constitution as heretical also believe that the Constitution imparts religious liberty authorizing evangelicals to single out women and members of the LGBTQ community for “special treatment” regardless of equal rights laws or federal protections against discrimination. Of course it is abominable and contrary to the Constitution to discriminate against any American, but to discriminate against gay students and then use the Christian bible for punishment in the public schools would be criminal if America wasn’t creeping towards theocracy.

In a rural region about 200 miles from Portland Oregon the North Bend School District is facing what are being termed “serious discrimination” charges for “forcing at least one LGBTQ student to read the Christian bible as punishment.” The discrimination aspect entails allegations that the district singles out LGBT students for  “separate or different rules of behavior, sanctions, or other treatment;” such as a school administrator “forcing LGBT students to read the Christian bible while they were being disciplined.

Of course the district, and likely the culprits, summarily denied the allegations because like all common criminal they knew they were violating more than a few rules. However, it seems certain that at some juncture someone in authority actually scanned the Old Testament and read “Number Nine” of the BIG Ten Commandments prohibiting lying under pain of death. Possibly then the theocrat using their bible for punishment realized they were courting death according to Old Testament rules if they continued lying. The administrator in question, although not contrite, confessed to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) investigators that the allegations were indeed true. It also was revealed that another teacher was reported as equating same-sex marriage to marrying a dog — during taxpayer-funded public school lessons.

Part of the Oregon Department of Education investigation is whether the “forced Bible reading violated the student’s First Amendment rights, including the Establishment Clause which recognizes the separation of church and state.” Obviously, any introduction of religion in public school violates the Constitution, so there is no question that punishment by bible is a serious violation; obviously forcing any student to read it is violating the students’ rights.

The ODE letter to North Bend School District Superintendent Bill Yester said in part:

There is substantial evidence to support the allegation that the district subjected LGBTQ students to separate or different rules of behavior, sanctions, or other treatment… The department finds that discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation may have occurred.”

Coos Bay World provided excerpts from a “detailed account” of the three primary allegations lodged against the district.

Under the matter of “using the bible as punishment,” the ODE noted that:

The District allegedly treated students differently on the basis of sex and sexual orientation when imposing discipline.”

The district also “failed to respond to sexual harassment complaints when those complaints were made by LGBTQ students.”

And finally, “District  failed to take appropriate action to remedy a hostile environment after complaints had been made by LGBTQ students alleging that students and district staff had sexually harassed other students.” (author bold)

This incident should raise myriad red flags and incite outrage about the increasing imposition of religion occurring at the state and federal level, but it has not. It is likely increasing because at one time only an evangelical extremist would disagree that using the Bible for anything in the public schools violates the First Amendment; now the minority die-hard evangelical extremists run the government as an extension of their version of “the Church” in a burgeoning evangelical theocracy.

Under Supreme Court interpretations of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause, educators cannot use the Bible as a moral authority in public schools because it is an “establishment of religion” that violates the separation between church and state. The concept of separating church and state, although enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution is an abomination and “unconstitutional” according most religious right fanatics, including Mike “preacher” Pence and J. Beauregard Sessions.

The ODE’s letter to the District also noted that one school counselor the students appealed to for assistance faced retaliation from the district officials after he began advocating for LGBTQ students. The counselor said:

These students have required quite a bit of support, but luckily they have some good family and friends. A lot of students who have been involved didn’t come forward or remained anonymous so it’s two main students who spearheaded the appeal. They had the courage to do this.”

No-one should be surprised at this latest imposition of religion in the public school system, or that LGBTQ students have been singled out and “openly discriminated against and forced to read the Christian bible” both as a form of punishment and to “demean LGBTQ students.” There is a crusade at the federal level to force evangelical teaching on public school students as the be all, end all “national moral authority,” as well as to inculcate America’s youth into the superstitious worldview of bigots according to a religion.

Another aspect of this atrocity in a secular nation is that, save a few local and regional media outlets, this all-too-common story has been woefully under-reported, if reported at all. That dearth of reporting is part and parcel of why evangelical extremists, religious right activists, and Republicans nationwide continue flouting the Constitution with veritable impunity. Sadly, although they only make up a minority of the population, the evangelical theocrats now co-own the federal government with the Kochs and corporations and if Republicans are not thrown out of power quickly, this particular incident is going to be a regular occurrence. And if the Christian Dominionists achieve their goal, it will not be unconstitutional, it will be the law of the land and reporting it as discrimination will be a crime.

Image: Patheos

Trump’s Shutdown Threat Reveals the Depth of His Contempt for the People

It is nearly impossible to believe that there are very many Americans remaining who fail to see the abject disaster of allowing a fake wrestling and reality show personality inside the White House. Of course Trump has supporters, but one seriously wants to believe the data that white supremacists {racists} and evangelical extremists (religious right) still represent a minority of the population; it is difficult to quantify the “stupid” contingent that do not fall into either of those categories, but it has to be under 50 percent of the population. After Trump’s outrageous statement last weekend, it is nearly impossible to believe anyone fails to see Trump as dangerously disastrous.

There was an interesting op-Ed in the Washington Post asking, “Does Trump operate out of any conception of what’s in the public interest?”

It is an easy to answer query, and it is a question that applies equally to the Republican Party; the GOP exists solely to advance the interests of the rich and the religious with no regard for “the public interest.”

Trump’s statement that he is looking ahead to September to “close down America” if Congress doesn’t bend to his will certainly insinuates that no, Trump has no “interest” in what is good for America or the people. It is not, as the WaPo piece suggests, that Trump is “incapable” of considering the good of the people or the country; he just has no regard for anyone but himself.

No doubt Trump was serious in threatening to “close down the country” if his Republican underlings in Congress fail to provide funding to build a Berlin Wall-type barrier along America’s Southern border. In fact, it is not a stretch to assume that Trump would in fact “close down America” if he was able, but it is not within his purview according to the document he dismisses as “archaic” and not applicable to him or his administration.

Obviously, someone in the White House informed Trump that regardless of what the voices in his head tell him, America is not one of his bankrupt hotels, at least not yet; he cannot just unilaterally close down the government if his perceived employees in Congress fail to do his bidding. Trump almost certainly meant he would impose a “government shutdown” as demanded by his minders at Fox News to facilitate punishing the American people if he doesn’t get his vanity project and monument to America’s xenophobia and isolationism.

Since he would require assistance from Congress, Trump could not possibly make an outrageous threat without lying; including using alternative facts sourced directly from his juvenile mind. Seriously, it is difficult to recollect any time in American history that a “president” White House resident threatened to “close down the country” if he doesn’t get his way, but then again Americans never allowed a petulant racist bastard take up occupancy in the White House.

Trump was speaking to a group during a tax reform roundtable in Ohio and as usual he was in the process of attacking Democrats “during a riff about border security” and just offered up a typically Trump idea. He said Americans should begin thinking about “closing up the country” if he doesn’t get his way. He said:

They don’t want the wall, but we’re going to get the wall, even if we have to think about closing up the country for a while. We’re going to get the wall. We have no choice. We have absolutely no choice. And we’re going to get tremendous security in our country.”

To show he was serious Trump repeated the idea of closing down the nation and he naturally lied about what he claims is the existential threat to the nation without a Berlin-type wall. He reiterated just how far he is willing to go and how much misery and damage he can inflict on the American people to get his way and sate the white supremacists, xenophobes, and isolationists who demand a whites-only nation. He said:

And we may have to close up our country to get this straight, because we either have a country or we don’t. And you can’t allow people to pour into our country the way they’re doing. We come up again on Sept. 28 and if we don’t get border security, we’ll have no choice. We’ll close down the country.” (author bold)

Trump naturally lied about immigration to defend shutting down the government, and of course his mendacity entailed fear mongering about a massive increase in Hispanic immigrants threatening America as a nation and the white people as a race. One even wonders if very many Americans are aware of the Berlin Wall Trump envisions for America; particularly since a frighteningly inordinate number of people are unaware of the Holocaust.

The truth is that immigration has been on the decline for well over a decade, and two years ago a new trend was reported; more Mexicans are fleeing America than are entering. In fact, exactly a day prior to Trump’s threat to close the country amid his own dire warning that America’s “Southern border is under siege,” Trump’s administration released  statistics showing that undocumented immigration was in line with historical norms that represent a steady decline of Hispanic immigrants; not an invasion and certainly not a dangerous surge.

Although Trump has made immigrants a target for ages, he began ramping up his nasty rhetoric about an hour after watching a Fox and Friends segment reporting on an annual publicity stunt to bring attention to the refugee crisis in Central America; what Fox News convinced Trump was an invasion force consisting of “a small migrant army marching toward the United States.” There is a fair explanation of what the annual “human rights demonstration” entails here; only Trump and his advisory committee at Fox News could possibly conflate the “demonstration” with an invasion force.

One House Democrat, Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), echoed the sentiment of any sane American at the news that Trump threatened to “close down the country” if he doesn’t get his way. Ms. Jayapal said:

“[Trump] is absolutely out of his mind to think that is any kind of a reasonable solution for our economy or compassion or in line with our values. This President [Trump] has done everything he can every time he’s in trouble to turn around and try to turn it against immigrants, and it really deeply saddens me.”

Despite everything Trump says about immigrants, the real threat to Americans is the filthy lying racist living in the White House. The  one who appears ready and willing to burn down the country, or at least “shut it down,” until his employees in Congress hand over taxpayer dollars for Trump’s vanity wall.

It is likely that the same xenophobes who have supported him since his poorly attended inauguration, and his minders at Fox News, cheered his threat to “close America for a while” if he can’t get what he wants; no matter the damage to the nation’s economy and the people.

Despite what the WaPo op-ed proffered, there is not a question of whether Trump has any concern for the public interest, because he has none. The prescient question is how much damage will Republicans allow him to inflict on them if he doesn’t get what he wants.

DeVos Has a Plan To Force Taxpayers to Fund Religious Schools

For many Americans hearing incompetent Education Secretary and  evangelical extremist Betsy DeVos’ name is tantamount to having their eyeballs gouged out with a rusted salad fork. For Americans concerned about educating the next generation to live and compete in the 21st Century, DeVos represents a clear and present danger to the nation as it has existed since its inception.

It is no secret that DeVos hates the public school system for a variety of reasons, but chief among them is that they are not taxpayer funded evangelical madrassas and they do not yet exist to enrich her wealthy cohorts in the corporate private and religious school movement. In fact, DeVos was disappointed to learn that because the federal government does not contribute nearly as much education funding to states as she believed, she is unable to impose her evangelical agenda on states’ public schools as Education Secretary. Now she has a solution to complete her task of using taxpayer money to propagandize American children in America’s bastardized version of Christianity.

For a reminder, DeVos clearly stated that her goal in running Trump’s Education Department is shaping the culture “to advance god’s kingdom.” And she fully intends to force American taxpayers to fund her effort as part of a larger Christian Dominionist movement to restore Judeo-Christian values under the Constitution by 2020. While Americans have been ignoring the warnings and real threat out of fear of offending “the faithful,” theocrats have been systematically setting the stage to reach their 2020 target date and DeVos’ actions are a crucial part of the plan.

DeVos’ effort entails redefining corporate charter and private religious schools as “public” to legally funnel taxpayer dollars away from “non-religious” and “non-profit” public schools directly to her friends in the religious and charter school movement. DeVos exposed her devious machination during a meeting of 50 teachers of the year during her response to concerns that her anti-public school agenda is already damaging public schools.

DeVos revealed her “plan” during a private visit when she asked the country’s “top teachers” to describe the obstacles they face in doing their jobs. At least one of the teachers had the courage to speak the truth and he told the public school enemy that many of her policies are damaging public education. In particular, Oklahoma’s teacher of the year, Jon Hazell, questioned her unconstitutional policy of using “taxpayer money meant for public education to fund private, mostly religious schools.” Mr. Hazell said:

We have a problem where public money is siphoned off from the public schools and given to children who are going to [corporate] charter and private [religious] schools.”

Mr. Hazell said DeVos’ immediate response was shocking. She told the gathered public school teachers that her intent was to redefine “what education is and declare all of it ‘public’ education.” The reason is clearly to legally fund religious, private and corporate charter schools, all for profit, with money stolen from public schools.

Another “teacher of the year” from Pennsylvania, Michael Soskil Sr., confirmed Mr. Hazell’s account of the exchange and like Mr. Hazell, he was stunned saying:

“One of the things that was so stark and memorable in that exchange was . . . SecretaryDeVos trying to redefine what the word ‘public’ is. It was almost like Orwellian double-speak to me.”

Most Americans are aware that DeVos is more of a “know-nothing” than her boss Trump, particularly about the public education system, and that she is a filthy rich member of the upper echelon of the richest one-percent. But she is also a raving evangelical theocrat desperate to eviscerate the public school system to fund private, for-profit, religious schools. The only reasonable assessment of DeVos is that she is a “radical Christian extremist intent on using America’s public school system to ‘advance god’s kingdom;” and she is on a mission to force American taxpayers to fund her theocratic crusade.

One of the reasons DeVos is so enamored with private religious and charter schools is she relishes using taxpayer dollars to discriminate against gays, the disabled and women according to “the sensibilities” of the conservative Christian movement. In fact, DeVos is very upset that there is no federal taxpayer money to fund private religious and charter schools. so her plan is making them “public” to rob taxpayer dollars.

When DeVos was queried about her intent to spend taxpayer dollars on evangelical madrassas, an intent that is patently unconstitutional, she said:

There are not enough philanthropic dollars in America to fund what is currently the [theocratic] need in education…[versus] what is currently being spent every year on education in this country…Our desire is to confront the culture in ways that will continue to advance God’s Kingdom.”

DeVos has made no secret that, in her evangelical mind, the pressing need in the public schools system is more Christianity, more god, more prayer and more archaic mythology disguised as science. And since filthy rich evangelicals like her are unwilling to pay tuition for idiot parents that demand religious indoctrination for their offspring, DeVos is more than willing to “destroy public education and use public school funds to advance her dreams of a Christian theocracy.”

There are already many Republican controlled states that are funneling money meant for public schools to private religious and charter schools that are for-profit. And although it is patently unconstitutional, the religious Republicans want to use all federal education money to inculcate American children according to their evangelical form of Christianity.

DeVos, like all of Trump’s people, took a “so help me god” oath of office and swore to her god that she would “support and defend the Constitution of the United States … without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me god.”

Instead, DeVos is purposely defying the document she swore to uphold and defend by going to extreme measures to force Americans to pay for “advancing god’s kingdom” in the “public schools.

This idea of using the federal government to extract money from taxpayers to “continue advancing god’s kingdom” is an abomination, and in no small measure the blame is on the media and Democrats who are still terrified of even mentioning that DeVos’ “school choice” nonsense, or attacks on women’s reproductive rights, or blatant discrimination against the LGBTQ community are borne of theocrats pushing their religion on the population as if it is the law of the land.

At this juncture it is apparent that the Dominionist movement attempting to create a theocratic government is perilously close to reaching fruition by the movement’s 2020 target date. And it is worth noting that once the theocrats have succeeded, Americans will lose the right to criticize the unconstitutional use of taxpayer money to advance the kingdom of god.

There are no winners in Trump’s Iran move – except Netanyahu

Since his poorly attended inauguration, Trump has demonstrated that America can never be trusted to keep its word and as of Tuesday, that Israel is dictating America’s Middle East foreign policy. It was no surprise to anyone that Trump broke America’s word again by pulling out of a multinational agreement with Iran because it prevented the war that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dreams about – America versus Iran.

Trump has made America as untrustworthy as he is by exiting the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Paris Climate Accord and threatening to pull out of NAFTA. And he just recently reneged on the budget deal he signed because it failed to take food and healthcare away from children and other vulnerable Americans. If he disagreed with the budget Congress sent him, then he should have vetoed it, but he didn’t.

At this juncture, no nation, or American citizen, should ever trust this government again because America’s word and commitment to anything is as worthless and deceitful as the villain in the White House. If that were not the case, the United States Congress would do its Constitutional duty and put a stop to Trump.

Trump’s announcement on Tuesday that he would reimpose sanctions on Iran’s oil sector that had been lifted as part of the P5+1 nuclear agreement immediately violated America’s obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Trump claimed that “we cannot prevent an Iranian bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement;” so he deliberately violated the agreement — effectively withdrawing from the “deal.”  What that means is Trump will impose “secondary sanctions” as if the agreement doesn’t exist. And like everything Trump does, it will adversely affect America’s allies as much or more than it does the country that has kept is word by not violating any terms of the agreement – Iran.

The problem with “secondary sanctions” is that they do not directly impact Iran. Instead, they will “punish“ international banks that were doing business with Iran’s oil sector, and cut off access to United States’ markets for third parties that still want to work with Iran because they are complying with “the agreement.”

This “punishment” is all on Trump who is negatively impacting America and its allies to sate the warmonger and corrupt Israeli Prime Minster –  Ben Netanyahu. It is almost certain that Netanyahu had a  waking nocturnal emission when he learned that Trump obeyed his demand to violate America’s obligation under the international deal – all to bring Netanyahu closer to realizing his dream scenario of America waging war against Iran.

As a few experts have noted, since this was an “international” deal involving 6 nations and Iran, Trump reneging on America’s behalf does not necessarily mean the deal is dead. In fact, if Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China do not reimpose their own sanctions, Iran will still have more access to international markets than prior to signing the agreement. And it is noteworthy that the other nations in the deal have been opposed to Trump’s decision giving Iran even more impetus to stay in compliance with the deal and avoid irritating the five nations that do not violate international agreements to satisfy Israel, America’s warmongers and the all-powerful military industrial complex.

What is curious, and telling, is that Trump did not attempt to present evidence that Iran was not complying with its obligations under the agreement.  That is probably because Trump’s people,  and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have repeatedly confirmed that Iran is complying with all of its obligations under the deal. Unlike Trump’s America, Iran has stayed true to fulfilling its commitment from the outset; a fact the other P5+1 nations have independently verified over and over again. In fact, even the two countries that support Trump’s decision to violate the agreement, Israel and Saudi Arabia, could not come up with any evidence that Iran is violating the deal. Still, Israeli leader Netanyahu celebrated Trump as “courageous” for making an “historic move” by violating an international agreement that was over two years in the making.

Trump claims that according to his “perception of the deal,” all of the provisions are not permanent and some ‘sunset’ in 10 , 15, and 20 years; except that all-important provision forbidding the Islamic Republic from ever developing and building a nuclear weapon. Trump also claims the nuclear agreement does not punish Iran for its ballistic missiles or supporting insurgents in other countries like America has historically done as a matter of course. Trump fully intended to do Netanyahu’s bidding no matter there is no evidence Iran is violating the agreement, and to ensure he does not have to be reminded that Iran is in full compliance, Trump systematically removed members of his inner circle who thought America should preserve a semblance of trust among the world’s nations and stay in the deal.

Trump’s recent termination of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom thought the US should stay in the deal, was the confirmation that Trump was going to do as Netanyahu demanded and prove that America cannot be trusted. Trump brought teabagger Mike Pompeo and warmonger John Bolton on board because both are renowned Iran hawks who opposed the deal simply because it prevented what Netanyahu wants more than anything; America at war with Iran. Interestingly, less than a month ago Pompeo reported that Iran was in full compliance with the terms of the agreement.

Trump removed the reasonable members of his administration and surrounded himself with yes men to support what is being called “one of the most consequential decisions of his tenure [as an unworthy occupant] in the White House.”

It is a mystery why Trump allows Defense Secretary James Mattis to stay on the job because just last week he defended and praised the Iran deal even as Trump continued to “bash the multinational agreement” as “the worst deal ever made.” Mr. Mattis told a Senate Armed Services Committee that the deal contained provisions with robust oversight on everything Iran is doing to ensure the Iranians could not cheat.

Trump is putting America in a precarious position in global affairs going forward because by now no sane leader can trust the United States ever again; especially now that Israel is officially dictating America’s foreign and war policy as it relates to the Middle East. Netanyahu has made every effort to sabotage the deal both covertly and in plain sight because he wants America to go to war with Iran; and Trump desperately wants Netanyahu to like him. However, when America does goes to war with the Islamic Republic, it will be on dirty Donald Trump, not Netanyahu, and it will be because America violated a multinational agreement, not Iran.

It is as much a travesty that Trump is successfully creating America in his deceitful and corrupt image as he is willfully causing economic distress for America and its allies. As most observers have noted, Trump or his warmongers have no “plan B” if Iran does not stay in the deal with the other nations except  for war. A war the neo-cons have lusted for as long as Netanyahu has asked them to.

There have been myriad reasons to be ashamed of America over the past year-and-a-half, but none of them are remotely as disastrous as knowing America deliberately violated an international agreement as a prelude to another Middle East war. And this one, like George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, serves the whims of another corrupt foreign leader who is effectively directing America’s Middle East foreign policy towards the war Netanyahu has coveted for over a decade.

Evangelical Extremists Freak Out Over “Unholy” Yoga in Schools

It really is tragic that America is home to an inordinate number of both religious extremist and stupid people, and not solely because they installed an ignorant and corrupt fascist in the White House. Actually, one could comport a nation of ignoramuses and religious radicals if they kept to themselves, and if their Republican facilitators would cease pandering to what is a growing threat to the rest of the population. However, without the ridiculously stupid sect and religious extremist cult, Republicans would not be in power and America would not be in danger of becoming the West’s version of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

As has been the case since Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, there is yet another in a long list of signs that the evangelical malcontents are crusading to make America great by attacking anything unrelated to advancing their filthy version of the religion. Religious extremist have once again attacked a public school over a program designed specifically to help students succeed and prosper. It is beyond question that the only “problem” with this specific “program” is that it does not entail imposing evangelical god-prayers or inculcating students with an Old Testament mindset as part of public education.

The outrage among some Christians in a Maryland public school district is the addition of a locally produced program in recorded video format known as the daily “Mindfulness Moment.” The program was created solely to  “help young students calm themselves both physically and mentally, and thereby help them focus on their schoolwork.” As an extension of the school’s daily announcements, “the students participate in a mini 6-10 minute mindfulness and yoga session to help them positively start off their day.”

As has occurred in a few other states, the stupid and the religious, a nasty combination in any situation, went ballistic at the idea of students not being forced to “focus on all things god.” Seriously, one comment on the school’s Facebook page demonstrates the epitome of stupid and religious extremism. The outraged “Christian” wrote:

“THIS IS COMPLETE LAST DAYS DECEPTION! There is nothing wrong with stretching, or being still to focus on your day, but yoga takes it another step further. There are spirits invited in by focusing on things not of God … there is an unholy Spirit behind it. If this is allowed in school, than (SIC) Jesus must be allowed to be enjoyed in school also.”

The furor prompted the school to set up an approval meeting with four local preachers; the school principal, the district superintendent, the school guidance counselor and two women leading the program attended to defend their effort to assist the students. It is likely that school officials were attempting to show the “faithful” that unlike in Sunday School, the children were not being compelled to listen to archaic mythos about god to frighten them into submission. The result was the school changed the word “yoga” to “stretching” to comfort the stupid Christians who complained because they believe “yoga” is an “unholy”  religion, and nearly as Satanic as meditation. It is noteworthy that meditation is mentioned often in “god’s immutable” word in the Christian bible.

To get an idea where the radically stupid faithful get the idea that yoga or meditation are unholy religions implemented to “invite unholy spirits” in, one of the four preachers monitoring the program issued a statement prior to preaching about how horribly dangerous yoga is. Daryl McCready is the pastor of SonRise Church, and he posted a statement about the observational experience on his church’s Facebook page. He wrote:

Our meeting went well and the Superintendent of the Board of Ed, the Principal of the school, the Guidance Counselor, and the two ladies leading the new program met with myself and the other three pastors. Everyone was kind and respectful of one another and the meeting went well. I am not sure yet what the result will be but they said they understood our concern. It was clear that everyone wanted the best for the children though we may differ about what that is.”

Despite eradicating the word “yoga” from the program to satisfy the preachers’ demands, McCready gave a sermon with a different tone about the “program,” or acknowledging that the school, principal, superintendent, and guidance counselor submitted to the will of the preachers who were terrified of the unholy word “yoga.” McCready spent no small amount of time “denouncing practices like yoga and reiki as teaching a false equivalence between humanity and divinity. Christians are being deceived!”

It is true Christians are being deceived and this author has spent the past two-and-a-half decades opining in print and digital media that as the Christian bible warns, false prophets (clergy) are deceiving the imbeciles under their control. This is not the first time evangelical zealots have raised holy Hell over the public schools they claim are using Satan’s religion yoga to destroy Christianity and crush the “holy spirit” children learn at home and in church.  If those evangelicals were not so ridiculously stupid they would comprehend how absurd their claims are about an exercise.

Yoga, like reiki, is not a religion. And there damn sure is no stinking divinity involved in either practice. Yoga is an exercise with several minor variations according to the particular “style” being practiced, and in twenty-plus years as a practicing yogin, this author can attest that divinity” never entered the picture. And reiki is a well-documented pseudoscience, like chiropractic therapy, with no measurable, medical or scientific value whatsoever; except whatever placebo effect easily manipulated ignoramuses experience.

It is noteworthy that this opposition borne of ignorance and extreme religiosity is not shared by all faiths, including Christians. There is an entire network of Christians who practice yoga and this author personally knows two Christian pastors who are dedicated yogins. One of the preachers explained that even in her congregation, ignorant people are easily swayed by extremists they see on television leading them to criticize her for being a yoga practitioner. Obviously, this issue is the purview of a minority of extremists who curiously control much of the public agenda because politicians are too frightened to dare challenge a small religious minority’s power over the majority.

Look, if radical evangelical parents do not want their progeny participating in “yoga,” then they should take their children and enroll them in the nearest Christian madrasa, but at their own expense. If that is not acceptable, then they should humiliate their children by forcing them to explain that they are forbidden from participating in yoga because of the scary unholy spirits. However, either of those options will not force the rest of the students to stop participating or compel the school to allow the evangelicals abolish yoga entirely and force all students to “enjoy Jesus in school.”

This incident is a portent of the state of America going forward with an administration Hell-bent on allowing a radical religious minority to control all aspects of public life. It is worth restating that if America was not home to an inordinate number of stupid people and religious extremists, the nation would not be lurching towards a theocratic coup d’état and Trump would not be living in a place a dirty fascist has no right visiting.

“Wrong” Kind of Christian Chaplain Fights Back and Rescinds Resignation

As America continues its abominable spiral towards a dominionist theocracy, the news that some members of the House were angry at Speaker Paul Ryan for forcing out the “wrong” kind of Christian as House Chaplain was somewhat surprising. It is not shocking that Ryan forced the “wrong” kind of Christian out of his position; only an ignoramus is unaware that there is a “purity” movement in the religious Republican movement. What is curious is that both Democrats and some Republicans were “upset” as if Ryan’s move took them by surprise.

The minor furor last week was over Ryan unilaterally “firing” the Reverend Patrick Conroy, the highly-respected Jesuit House chaplain and warmly-regarded spiritual counselor to members of Congress. There are conflicting reports, and conjecture about why Ryan forced Reverend Conroy out, but it seems relatively clear what prompted Ryan’s action. Unwilling at first to cause any more conflict, the obedient servant Reverend Conroy succumbed to Ryan’s pressure and submitted his resignation.

That action vexed a bipartisan group of House members who demanded that Ryan explain his justification for what is certainly a rare move. In a letter to Ryan, the bipartisan group of House representatives wrote:

We are seeking additional information regarding your decision to request the resignation of Reverend Patrick J. Conroy, the 60th Chaplain of the House of Representatives. The sensitive nature of this situation requires a description of the process followed to arrive at the decision and a justification for that decision.”

One Republican who was particularly revolted at Ryan’s action, Representative Peter King (R-NY), told reporters:

“To be the first House chaplain to be removed in the history of Congress, in the middle of a term, raises serious questions. I think we deserve more of an explanation of why. Was there political pressure?

To answer Mr. King’s question; of course there was  “pressure,. But it was not necessarily “political pressure;” it was theocratic pressure. And it surrounds two specific “incidents” that devotees of America’s bastardized version of Christianity are not going to comport in their Christian Dominionist theocracy.

However now, the Reverend Conroy is not going to comport being “pressured out” and on Thursday he rescinded his resignation. As Conroy noted, in agreement with a gang of Democrats and Republicans, he did not do anything wrong and expects any action taken against him to be done correctly; no matter the outrage from evangelicals for being the “wrong kind of Christian.

Ryan and the Republicans’ evangelical caucus took umbrage at Reverend Conroy’s prayer appealing for members of Congress to follow the “structure” of the nation that guarantees equity for all Americans; including those who are “struggling.”  It is noteworthy that Mr. Conroy was also appealing to members of Congress, primarily religious Republican members, to follow mythological Jesus Christ’s teaching to help all people, especially “those who continue to struggle.”

After a few years on the job, Reverend Conroy was aware that Republicans intended on heaping more wealth on the rich at the expense of “those who are struggling” under the guise of “tax reform.” He likely hoped a “prayerful” appeal might convince some religious Republicans to harken to Christ’s teachings about helping those who are struggling. It was a valiant effort, but Republicans are never going to consider the plight of any American who is not rich and they damn sure are not going to abide a Chaplain appealing to them as Christians.

It is glaringly apparent that Paul Ryan and his heretical evangelical cohorts are apostates to the “Christianity” Jesus preached; they are fierce adherents of “prosperity gospel” that particularly targets “those who are struggling” to enrich the already wealthy. Even atheists and agnostics are likely aware that the mythical Jesus of the Christian bible spent the majority of his time preaching that helping those who are struggling at any cost is paramount to being a “follower of Christ.”

The prayer that offended Paul Ryan and his band of evangelical heretics occurred during last November’s tax reform debate and included an appeal for members of Congress to be fair and consider the plight of all Americans – including those who are suffering. Reverend Conroy prayed thusly:

“Bless the members of this assembly as they set upon the work of these hours, of these days.  Help them to make wise decisions in a good manner and to carry their responsibilities steadily, with high hopes for a better future for our great nation.

As legislation on taxes continues to be debated this week and next, may all members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle. May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”

Ryan was irritated over the prayer and bluntly told Reverend Conroy, “Padre, you just got to stay out of politics.”

If a Christian prayer for fairness for Americans who “continue to struggle” is wrong, then mythological Jesus Christ was a criminal of epic proportions. If Paul Ryan or any prosperity gospel devotees had ever opened their New Testament, they would be well aware that Reverend Conroy was not being political – he was being a “follower of Christ” who commanded his disciples to teach and preach about helping those who are struggling.

Ryan said  that “a few” Republicans complained that they wanted “a more active Pastor.” No doubt a few Republicans complained that Reverend Conroy prayed like a “Christian” by appealing to Republicans to consider the plight of “those who are struggling.”

It is noteworthy that he also did the unthinkable in the GOP’s aspiring Christian theocracy by inviting a Muslim to offer a prayer. However, it is almost certain the real issue was the Christian clergyman calling for consideration for those who are struggling – something that is anathema to Republican evangelicals promoting the heretical “prosperity gospel.” It is “gospel” that uses Christianity to justify living to attain “personal empowerment, personal wealth, and personal health.” Prosperity gospel is, no matter what Christian cult one subscribes, contradictory to everything the religion’s namesake, Jesus Christ, preached incessantly while he was alleged to live as a man on Earth.

Although it damn sure should be as unconstitutional to employ a “House Chaplain” as it is to designate a national day of prayer, or claim all Americans “trust in god,” or pledge allegiance to a flag “under god,” it is an abomination that a chaplain was forced out because he was the wrong kind of Christian. And by dog, that is the real reason Ryan pushed Reverend Conroy to “resign.” Because since Trump’s poorly attended inauguration, the religious right has pushed its agenda down the American people’s throats with valuable assistance from that dirty lying sinner Donald Trump, his equally despicable underling Mike “preacher” Pence, and the nasty Republican evangelical caucus.

It is worth noting that Republicans who claim Christianity as the be all, end all to the world’s woes were vicious in a months-long set of attacks on Pope Francis because, like Reverend Conroy, he followed his namesake’s teachings and appealed for attention to income inequality and “those who continue to struggle.” Those same religious Republicans love the Pope and Catholic clergy when they support the GOP effort to control and dominate women, but praying for fairness for “those who are struggling” crosses a “prosperity gospel” line they will not accept without a fight.

As Representative Steve King said, Ryan ousting Reverend Conroy in the middle of the term, the first time in American history, does raise serious questions, but he surely knows all the answers. Reverend Conroy is the wrong kind of Christian and he committed a major sin by praying for so-called Christian Republicans to do something they consider an atrocity – give consideration to Americans who are struggling.

There is another message for Americans who still refuse to see the creeping evangelical theocracy threatening this country, especially Americans who are Christians. When the evangelical fundamentalists take control of the government, something they are on a crusade to complete by 2020, there will be no safe “Christian.” If any American doesn’t believe it, consider the plight of the “wrong” kind of Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan or any country controlled by religious extremists. The only difference in America, at least for now, is that the “wrong kind of Christian” serving as House Chaplain can rescind a forced resignation and avoid being beheaded.

Trump’s DHS to monitor and compile an “undesirable” media database

There is a very good reason the Constitution’s Framers and Founding Fathers made “freedom of the press” a top priority in the young nation’s Constitution and included it in the Bill of Rights’ First Amendment. That reason has been reiterated by champions of freedom and democracy throughout history and that particularly includes from this nation’s founding continuing to the 21st Century threat posed by an aspiring tyrant. At least in free societies the concept of a free press is regarded as sacrosanct and until recently, that was the case in America. A little over a week ago, a former Daily Kos writer and activist now working at the The Intercept, Shaun King, discovered the harsh truth about being an activist journalist living in Trump’s America.

Democracy Now reported last week that Mr. King and his family were detained by Customs and Border Patrol agents at JFK International Airport and endured questioning about his activism in support of Black Lives Matter. Mr. King reported that after being called out by name, he and his family were taken to a “secluded questioning room” where the officer, who “had clearly been reading his tweets,” asked about his “support for the Black Lives Matter movement.” It is a sad commentary, but it appears that going forward there will be an increasing number of Americans facing detention, or at least heavy-handed government scrutiny, by Trump’s security forces based on the “sentiment” in what they write or say.

Whether it was Founding Father and third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, or war hero and U.S. Senator John McCain, they concur with no small number of American leaders insisting that America as it was created cannot survive without a free press . Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1786:

The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted, when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.”

Well over two centuries later, and in response to the speech and actions of the “aspiring dictator” Trump, Senator John McCain defended the free press while he was in Munich Germany saying:

“We need a free press. We must have it. It’s vital. If you want to preserve […] democracy as we know it, you have to have a free and many times adversarial press. And without it, […] we would lose so much of our individual liberties over time.”

Not to be outdone, Arizona’s other Republican Senator Jeff Flake took to the floor of the Senate to give a speech assailing Trump for perpetually attacking the media for factual reporting. Suffice it to say, even Republicans comprehend the importance of a free press for a bevy of reasons, but none more so than protecting democracy. Republicans cannot ignore the threat to democracy posed by Trump.

That is why it was, although sickening, not shocking that the anti-democracy Trump administration is targeting the free press by giving a federal law enforcement agency the authority to target Americans who express the “wrong sentiment” in what they write, share on social media, or insinuate in a recording. And let’s face it; the “wrong sentiment” includes anything contrary to what Trump thinks is the “right sentiment.”

Bloomberg reported that a FedBizOpps.gov posting by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under the heading, “Media Monitoring Services” is nothing less than a devious “big brother” type maneuver if there ever was one. There was an attached Statement of Work that outlined precisely what the federal law enforcement agency planned to do to bring the media and many Americans into compliance with all things Trump; gather and monitor the activities of the public media and everything and everyone associated with it.

Now, it appears that Senator McCain’s warning about losing “our” personal liberties is not something that is going to happen “over time.” The threat from Trump’s Department of Homeland Security with an attack on the free press is a dangerous portent that the aspiring tyrant is attempting to keep pace with a rash of attacks on the media worldwide.

This is underway in America, “traditionally one of the bastions of press freedom,” where a powerful federal agency is planning to compile a comprehensive list of journalists, social media influencers, bloggers, and podcasters to monitor what they are “putting out to the public” with a particular interest in the “sentiment” they express.

As Michelle Fabio noted:

We are entering potentially dangerous territory with the government keeping track of the ‘sentiment’ of American citizens in a Department of Homeland Security media database.”

The primary concern of the Trump administration is “the sentiment” being expressed by private American citizens, media organizations, bloggers, print journalists and Americans active on social media. It is unlikely that DHS is going to do the same level of monitoring of “foreign” sentiment towards America as the other intelligence agencies such as the NSA and CIA. This action is targeting domestic “sentiment” and although it is normal for dictatorships Trump aspires to emulate, it is an abomination in an alleged “free society” anywhere in the world, much less in the United States of America.

It is nothing less than an outrage in a liberal democracy that a federal agency is monitoring and compiling data on what the dictionary deems are private citizens’  “views of, or an attitude toward, or an opinion of a particular situation or event.” Only someone who has been comatose for the past two years is unaware that the prevailing sentiment in America, and around the world, toward Trump is overwhelmingly negative. It should terrify all Americans that expressing those sentiments is deemed “dangerous” enough to warrant Homeland Security putting them in a federal law enforcement database; something that is unprecedented except in dictatorships.

An organization that has spent the past nearly 40 years monitoring press freedom, Freedom House, “recently concluded that global media freedom has reached its lowest level in the past 13 years.” The organization places the blame for less press freedom on government threats to journalists and media outlets in “major democracies” and “authoritarian countries like Russia and China.” The report also noted that:

It is the far-reaching attacks on the news media and their place in a democratic society by Donald Trump, first as a candidate and now as president of the United States [White House occupant] that fuel predictions of further setbacks in the years to come.”

This action is a dangerous administration’s attempt to rule by tyranny and intimidation and little else. It is also not the first time the Trump administration has suggested keeping a federal database of “undesirables.”

First they proposed forcing American Muslims to “register” in a national database, and then attempted to garner the highly-personal voting and citizenship information from Americans with a bogus “commission” to ferret out the non-existent massive voter fraud. Now they have tasked a federal law enforcement agency with compiling a database consisting of journalists, media organizations, bloggers, podcasters and “influencers” on social media based on their “sentiment?”

It is hardly arguable that the government does not already monitor everything Americans are reading, saying, and writing, and by its very nature everything related to the “media” is not secret. However, the concept of a federal agency monitoring the “sentiments” of Americans and creating a federal database based on those “sentiments” is chilling. It is also another indication that America under Trump, since his poorly-attended inauguration, is experiencing the exact same process that eventually gave the world North Korea, Russia and Nazi Germany.