Tag Archive: Republican Party

Living in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter

thomas paine on reason

People who believe science is the best way we have to explain the world we live in and who believe facts matter find themselves under increasing assault by people who refuse to accept things as they are. I am all for vigorous debate and disagreement, but there comes a time when what matters is facts. Recently, a family member — who happens to be a Trump-supporting Evangelical pastor — posted a quote allegedly by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on social media. Generally, I avoid discussing politics and religion on my personal Facebook account. Want to discuss such things with me? Go to my Facebook page or my blog. My personal Facebook account is reserved for photographs, family stuff, silly memes, and cat videos.

For whatever reason — boredom, perhaps? — I decided to respond to the Ocasio-Cortez quote. The quote seemed out of character for Ocasio-Cortez, so I went to Snopes to check it out. Sure enough, the quote was false. After determining the quote’s truthfulness, I left the following comment: thou shalt not bear false witness. This got me excommunicated; not unfriended, just blocked from seeing the man’s posts. I don’t play that game, so I unfriended him. I then let him know that I did so, and why.

The false quote perfectly fits this man’s worldview; his view of secularism, liberalism, socialism, and Democrats. In his mind, it must be true because it reinforces his sincerely-held political beliefs. I suspect many readers could tell similar stories; times when they challenged religious or political statements with facts. I have repeatedly responded to false claims on Facebook from friends and family members by commenting with a link to the relevant Snopes article. I have yet to have someone say to me, thanks for pointing out my error. I made a mistake. All I get is silence, and the false quote or meme continues to live on in infamy.

In 2017, Dr. R. Kelly Garrett wrote an article titled, Facts don’t matter to Americans, and we should be worried.

Garrett said:

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’ll bet that’s true,” before you had all the facts? Most people probably have at some point.

Where people differ is in how often they do so. A 2016 survey that my colleague Brian Weeks and I conducted found that 50.3 percent of all Americans agreed with the statement “I trust my gut to tell me what’s true and what’s not.” Some of those polled felt quite strongly about it: About one in seven (14.6 percent) strongly agreed, while one in 10 (10.2 percent) strongly disagreed.

In other words, there’s a lot of variation in how Americans decide what to believe.

In a recent paper, we were able to use the findings from this survey and two others to dig into the different approaches people take when deciding what’s true.

We found some surprising differences between how people think about intuition and how they think about evidence. It turns out that how often someone trusts their intuition and how important they think it is to have evidence are two separate things. Both make a big difference in what we believe.

What we learned offers some hope for people’s ability to tell truth from fiction, despite the fact that so many trust their gut.

Many incorrect beliefs have political foundations. They promote a policy, an ideology or one candidate over another.

People are susceptible to political misinformation because they tend to believe things that favor their side — even if it isn’t grounded in data or science. There are numerous factors at play, from the influence of nonconscious emotions to the need to defend a group that the individual identifies with.

For these reasons, millions of Americans believe things that aren’t true.

….

With all the talk about political bias, it’s easy to lose track of the fact that politics aren’t the only thing shaping people’s beliefs. Other factors play a role too.

For example, people are more likely to believe something the more often they’ve heard it said — commonly known as the illusory truth effect. And adding a picture can change how believable a message is, sometimes making it more convincing, while at other times increasing skepticism.

Valuing intuition versus valuing evidence

Our study focuses on something else that shapes beliefs: We looked at what matters the most to people when they’re deciding what’s true.

We found that having faith in your intuition about the facts does make you more likely to endorse conspiracy theories. However, it doesn’t really influence your beliefs about science, such as vaccine safety or climate change.

In contrast, someone who says beliefs must be supported with data is more likely both to reject conspiracy theories and to answer questions about mainstream science and political issues more accurately.

The risk of relying on one’s intuition may be self-evident, but its role in belief formation is more nuanced.

….

In the end, knowing how much someone trusts his or her intuition actually tells you very little about how much proof that person will need before he or she will believe a claim. Our research shows that using intuition is not the opposite of checking the evidence: Some people trust their instincts while at the same time valuing evidence; others deny the importance of both; and so forth.

The key is that some people — even if they usually trust their gut — will check their hunches to make sure they’re right. Their willingness to do some follow-up work may explain why their beliefs tend to be more accurate.

It’s valuing evidence that predicts accuracy on a wider range of issues. Intuition matters less.

….

In this context, our results are surprising. There are many individual qualities that seem like they should promote accuracy, but don’t.

Valuing evidence, however, appears to be an exception. The bigger the role evidence plays in shaping a person’s beliefs, the more accurate that person tends to be.

We aren’t the only ones who have observed a pattern like this. Another recent study shows that people who exhibit higher scientific curiosity also tend to adopt more accurate beliefs about politically charged science topics, such as fracking and global warming.

There’s more we need to understand. It isn’t yet clear why curiosity and attention to the evidence leads to better outcomes, while being knowledgeable and thinking carefully promote bias. Until we sort this out, it’s hard to know exactly what kinds of media literacy skills will help the most.

But in today’s media environment — where news consumers are subjected to a barrage of opinions, data and misinformation — gut feelings and people’s need for evidence to back those hunches up can play a big role. They might determine whether you fall for a hoax posted on the Onion, help spread Russian disinformation or believe that the British spy agency MI6 was responsible for Princess Diana’s death.

For now, though, when it comes to fighting the scourge of misinformation, there’s a simple strategy that everyone can use. If you are someone who consistently checks your intuition about what is true against the evidence, you are less likely to be misled. It may seem like common sense, but learning to dig into the story behind that shocking headline can help you avoid spreading falsehoods.

Several days ago, a Christian man named Bill Wood stopped by this site to wow me with his intellectual prowess. Wood posted verbose comments meant to “educate” me about Biblical and scientific truth. You can read his comments here. Wood demanded I explain to his satisfaction my deconversion. I pointed him to the WHY page. Not good enough for Wood. He doubled and tripled down, refusing to accept any “truth” but his own. Wood is a classic reminder of why I don’t get into discussions with Evangelicals. Their minds are made up as to what the “truth” is. Wood believes the Bible is God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible Word. I asked him if he had read any of Bart Ehrman’s books, knowing that the answer was likely a big, fat, emphatic NO! Sure enough, all I got was another lengthy sermon. You see, for the Bill Woods of the world, their minds are closed to anything that challenges their worldview. They have decided this or that is “truth,” end of discussion. Their “gut” (often called the Holy Spirit) tells them that whatever they believe about God, Jesus, religion, science, etc. is true. In Bill Wood’s mind, creationism trumps science; theological dogma trumps archeological, geological, and sociological facts. All the facts in the world won’t change his mind.

We now live in a post-facts world. Instead of chasing truth wherever it leads, people scour the Internet looking for websites, blogs, memes, and social media posts that reinforce their beliefs. In 2016, eighty-one percent of voting white Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. Three years later, a majority of Evangelicals still support the President, despite his having told over 15,000 public lies. On January 23, 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump said:

I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, okay? It’s, like, incredible.

Fast forward to today. Does anyone doubt that what Trump said is the truth; that no matter what he says or does, a sizeable percentage of Americans will resolutely support him. To these people, facts don’t matter. As long as their beliefs and worldview are confirmed, Trump is free to run roughshod over our Republic. As long as Trump says he is anti-abortion, anti-transgender, anti-immigration, anti-welfare, anti-socialism, anti-atheism, anti-anything enacted by Obama, white Evangelicals, conservative Catholics, and Mormons will continue to vote for him. Racists and white supremacists know that Trump is their best chance for a whiter America. No matter what the “facts” are, an overwhelming majority of Republicans and libertarians move in lock-step fashion with the President.

What are people who value facts supposed to do? If a large number of Americans are impervious to the truth, what hope is there for this great nation of ours? I know that this post will do nothing to change hearts and minds. People who agree with me will shout “right-on, brother!” Those who don’t will just see me as yet another liberal, commie, socialist out to destroy white Christian America.

We truly live in perplexing times. I have no confidence in things becoming better any time soon. I shudder to think what four more years of Donald Trump will bring us. Imagine what would happen if Republicans somehow took control of Congress? We are fools if we think the United States is invulnerable to decline and collapse. History tells us about many great civilizations who have come and gone. We are not immune to a similar fate.

What do you think people who value facts and truth should do? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media? Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

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The United States Has an Evangelical Problem

evangelist don hardman

Evangelist Don and Laura Hardman, Somerset Baptist Church, Mt. Perry, Ohio, Late 1980s. Notice the huge flag. That should tell you all you need to know about my political and social agenda at the time.

In the late 1970s, Jerry Falwell, pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, birthed a Christian political action group called the Moral Majority. Falwell, a graduate of Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, started Thomas Road Baptist — an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) institution — in 1956. The church quickly became one of the largest churches in the United States. Today, the church claims it has almost 25,000 members. In 1971, Falwell founded Lynchburg Baptist College, now known as Liberty University. Liberty, an accredited university, is the largest Evangelical college in the United States. Most Evangelicals of my age likely remember Falwell’s weekly television program, The Old Time Gospel Hour. It was through his educational and media empire that Falwell pushed the Moral Majority’s agenda: to take back America for God.

In 1979, my wife and I attended a Moral Majority-sponsored outdoor “I Love America” rally at the Ohio State House. We later went to a pep rally of sorts held at a downtown Columbus location. All Polly remembers is discreetly breastfeeding our infant son during the rally. I, however, remember the thrilling speeches about returning the United States to its Christian roots. Dripping with manifest destiny and American exceptionalism, these speeches stirred my heart, and for many years, I devoted myself to waging what become known as the “culture war.”

In 1989, after successfully helping elect Hollywood actor Ronald Reagan to two terms as president, the Moral Majority disbanded. Falwell said at the time, “Our goal has been achieved…The religious right is solidly in place and … religious conservatives in America are now in for the duration.” Today, Evangelicals, having sold their souls for bowls of pottage, rabidly support Donald Trump, the most unqualified man to ever be president. Eighty-one percent of voting white Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump. If the presidential election were held today, Evangelicals would, yet again, overwhelmingly vote for Trump. Even if Trump was thrown out of office, Evangelicals are satisfied that Christian America will be safe in the “godly” hands of Evangelical and True Believer® Mike Pence.

It is clear to anyone who is paying attention that Evangelicals have taken over not only the federal government but many state governments. Here in Ohio, Evangelicals (and conservative Catholics) rule the political roost. Now having a super-majority, Evangelicals — who are overwhelmingly Republicans — are able to enact their agenda at will, with only the courts standing in the way of them turning Ohio into a theocratic state. And now that Trump is packing the federal courts with conservative Christian jurists, the only recourse we have to beat back Evangelical sharia law may soon be gone.

Secularists love to point to studies showing that Evangelicalism is in numerical decline. While this is certainly true, that doesn’t mean the political power amassed by Evangelicals is in decline. It’s not, and as things now stand, it could take decades to undo all the damage done to our Republic by primarily white Evangelicals and their Mormon and Catholic cohorts.

I live in rural northwest Ohio. Donald Trump and the Republican Party dominate local and state politics. Local Democratic groups are largely ineffective or lifeless. And even among these groups, you will find that the conservative political beliefs espoused decades ago by Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority have deeply influenced their thinking. I can tell you this much: true liberals around here are almost as rare as ivory-billed woodpeckers. Fearing social or economic retribution, what few liberals there are maintain a low profile. Of late, local Democratic operatives have taken to writing letters to the Defiance Crescent-News. While I appreciate their efforts — having been a regular writer of letters to local newspaper editors for almost 40 years — I fear that they operate under the delusion that their letters will change the minds of local Trump supporters. They won’t. At best, their letters to the newspaper remind other Democrats/progressives/liberals that they are not alone. Changing hearts and minds? Not a chance.

Due to the local sports photography work I do, I am connected with numerous locals on social media. Many of them are like me, using social media to share photos and cat videos. Others, however, regularly post things in support of Donald Trump. One woman, a relative of mine, went off on a rant over Trump’s impeachment, calling Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton all sorts of vile names. People such as I are routinely pilloried. I say nothing, having learned that talking politics on social media is a waste of time. Oh, it feels good to rip a right-winger a new one now and again, but to what end? Instead, I quietly unfriend such people. And it’s not just locals either. I am “friends” with several family members who routinely post all sorts of right-wing nonsense. No lie is too absurd to post, and no action by President Trump is so vile, extreme, or un-Christian that they won’t find a way to defend him.

Trump knows that the key to maintaining political power is convincing Evangelicals that he is a defender of Christian orthodoxy and a warrior in the battle against libtards, atheists, and socialists. So far, Evangelicals think that Trump is some sort of manifestation of God’s plan for Christian America. In the end, the joke will be on them, but by then the United States will lie in ruin.

The only way to beat back the Evangelical horde is for people of good will and reason to understand that Evangelical power and control is an illusion. As things stand today, atheists, agnostics, and nones are as large a demographic as Evangelicals. Hillary Clinton, a polarizing and weak presidential candidate if there ever was one, defeated Donald Trump by three million votes. Unfortunately, it is the arcane, outdated Electoral College that decides presidential elections, and not the popular vote. To keep Trump from being re-elected in 2020, millions and millions of new voters must be mobilized, and countless lazy Americans must be dragged from their beds to vote on election day. So far, nothing I have heard from the 3,023 people running for the Democratic nomination says to me that Democrats truly understand how to unseat Trump and take back congress. Maybe someone will rise to the top of the pile and mount an effective defense of American republicanism and secularism, but as of today, I have my doubts. If Democrats don’t figure it out soon, we are looking at four more years of Trump. Imagine the depths of the damage that will be done by Trump and his henchmen if they are given another term in office.

Democrats wrongly assume that our democracy can withstand whatever Trump and Company might do. While I thought this very thing at one time, I no longer believe it to be true. The United States is teetering on the edge of ruin and collapse. And this, remember, is exactly what Evangelicals want. Progressivism, secularism, pluralism, and socialism must be destroyed in order for the Evangelical Jesus to be enthroned as the king and ruler of the United States. Don’t believe it for one moment when Evangelicals “say” they don’t have theocratic ambitions. They do, as Evangelicals made clear in their racist attacks on Barack Obama, their unending attacks on LGBTQ people, their support of anti-immigrant, anti-poor policies, and their criminalization of abortion. Now that conservatives control the U.S. Supreme Court and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is living on borrowed time, Evangelicals know the time is ripe to roll back the social progress of the last sixty years. Want to know what a Christian America might look like? Take a look at countries ruled by Sharia law. Look at what’s going on in India today. Once a proud secular state, India now faces the establishment of a theocratic state by Fundamentalist Hindus — India’s version of Evangelicals.

Part of me wants to say, “Fuck it, I give up. I am going to die soon, and if death doesn’t get me, global climate change will.” Quite frankly, I am worn out. But then, I think of my children and grandchildren. What will they say about me if I give up now?

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Are you on Social Media? Follow Bruce on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Liberals Will Murder Republicans, if Necessary, to Get Their Way

This is what they [liberals, progressives, Democrats, socialists] do, folks. They do this to shut you down, to shut you up. They do this to try to marginalize you. They do this to try to damage your reputation. They do this to try to convince others that you’re a person not worthy of being heard because you’re full of hatred, and anger, and bitterness, and you’re a danger, and you’re violent.

We really are at a political disadvantage in dealing with the left. You know why? Because they have no morals and we answer to God. That puts us at a political disadvantage because it means that they will do anything and we will not. They will lie, steal, cheat, deceive, I dare say commit murder if they think they can get away with it.

When you come for a philosophy that teaches that there is no absolute morality, that there is no absolute good or evil, right or wrong, then the ends justify the means. That’s exactly what Marx taught.

— E.W. Jackson, Right Wing Watch, The Left Has ‘No Morals’ and Will ‘Commit Murder If They Think They Can Get Away With It, October 9, 2019

Quote of the Day: Baptist Preachers Instrumental in Turning the South Red

Crediting the Nixon campaign with the flight of Southern conservatives from the Democratic Party dismisses the role Southerners themselves played in that transformation. In fact, Republicans had very little organizational infrastructure on the ground in the South before 1980, and never quite figured out how to build a persuasive appeal to voters there. Every cynical strategy cooked up in a Washington boardroom withered under local conditions. The flight of the Dixiecrats was ultimately conceived, planned, and executed by Southerners themselves, largely independent of, and sometimes at odds with, existing Republican leadership. It was a move that had less to do with politicos than with pastors.

Southern churches, warped by generations of theological evolution necessary to accommodate slavery and segregation, were all too willing to offer their political assistance to a white nationalist program. Southern religious institutions would lead a wave of political activism that helped keep white nationalism alive inside an increasingly unfriendly national climate. Forget about Goldwater, Nixon or Reagan. No one played as much of a role in turning the South red as the leaders of the Southern Baptist Church. …

It was religious leaders in the South who solved the puzzle on Republicans’ behalf, converting white angst over lost cultural supremacy into a fresh language of piety and “religious liberty.” Southern conservatives discovered that they could preserve white nationalism through a proxy fight for Christian Nationalism. They came to recognize that a weak, largely empty Republican grassroots structure in the South was ripe for takeover and colonization.

— Chris Ladd, Forbes, Pastors, Not Politicians, Turned Dixie Republican, March 27, 2017

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Recent Mass Shootings are “False Flags”

Cartoon by Adam Zyglis

Unfortunately the tragic events of shootings in El Paso or Dayton increasingly occurring in America appear to be False Flag events perpetrated by conspirators to get rid of the Second Amendment. Once you’re familiar with the pattern, you’re able to identify them.

El Paso and Dayton can be added to Las Vegas and many other recent shootings committed by agents who have no problem killing innocent people. Perhaps one of the most important unanswered questions of our time is why the agents behind them haven’t been exposed or given the death penalty.

….

False Flag events are largely possible today because the global media narrative is controlled by six corporations with less than 200 executives. The country orchestrating the False Flag event is powerful enough to intimidate other countries from not exposing what are known as “inside jobs.” Only a few countries have the means to do this– one of which is the United States.

Modern-day False Flag events are used to “discredit or implicate rival groups, create the appearance of enemies when none exist, or create the illusion of organized and directed opposition” that a society may not like.

False Flag events are one of the most effective ideological weapons used on a massive scale today. Manufacturing an enemy among a people who believe they have inalienable rights so that they will be willing to give up those rights requires a sophisticated propaganda system that several intelligence agencies have employed.

….

Some investigators point to 9/11 terrorist attacks, the NORAD drills of 9/11, the 7/7 London Bombings, the 2011 Norway shooting, the Aurora shooting, Sandy Hook, and the public shootings in Orlando, South Carolina, West Virginia, California, Nevada and many more as False Flag attacks.

— Bethany Blankley, Hedgerow, Understanding how to identify False Flag Events, August 5, 2019

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Trump is a Lone Voice Standing Up for America

lloyd marcus

America’s enemies within use churches, schools, corporate advertising, entertainment, fake news media and social networks to spread lies about Trump and our wonderful country. Trump is pretty much a lone voice in the international arena standing up for America, exposing leftists’ lies.

This is why I wholeheartedly support Trump exposing Democrat congresswomen Ilhan Omar, AOC, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib for the anti-American, antisemitic, racist, socialist and communist hate-filled traitors that they truly are.

How on earth did these four haters of America get elected? The answer is fake news media covers for them, falsely portraying them as saintly victims of America’s racial and sexual bigotry. Trump courageously shining the light of truth on them has upset Democrat and fake news medias’ apple-cart.

To make Trump back off, Democrats and fake news media implemented their standard dirty trick that always silences Republicans and Conservatives. Their trick is to spin the slightest push back against leftists’ radical agenda to the ultimate evil hateful extreme. For example: If you stand up for God’s definition of marriage, Democrats and fake news media say you hate homosexuals and want them dead.

Democrats and fake news media insidiously said patriots jovially chanting “send her back” at the Greenville Trump rally really means they wish to do Omar physical harm. Meanwhile, Democrats and fake news media were silent when an angry mob chanted “What do we want! Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!” at a Black Lives Matter rally. Outrageously, leftists even justified Black Lives Matter launching a clarion call to assassinate our brave men and women in blue.

….

For years, Democrats and fake news media have used their trick of spinning reasonable pushback to mean the ultimate hateful extreme. When a wacko Muslim gunman massacred homosexuals in an Orlando nightclub, Democrats and fake news media claimed the massacre was the fault of Christians who support traditional marriage. Do you see how their trick works? It is designed to silence all opposition and intimidate everyone into surrendering to leftists’ extreme agenda.

Lloyd Marcus, American Thinker, Leftists’ Effective Dirty Trick, July 22, 2019

Trump’s War: Evidence Against Iran a Myth in John Bolton’s War-Mongering Mind

john bolton iran

Cartoon by Dave Granlund

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, wants war with Iran. Two weeks ago, Bolton released the following statement:

In response to a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings, the United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force. The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces.

Recent reports suggest that the United States is planning to send 120,000 troops to the Middle East, purportedly to be used to stem the existential threat the United States faces from Iran (and Islam). On Monday, Trump said:

 Would I do that [send 120,000 troops to the Middle East]? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. And if we did that, we’d send a hell of a lot more troops than that.

Supposedly, evidence exists that “proves” Iran intends to attack U.S. military bases and interests in the Middle East. As of today, not one shred of this evidence has been provided by the Trump administration. This leads me to believe that no such evidence exists, and what Trump and Bolton want to really do is show everyone that the United States is still the John Holmes of the world. Trump relishes an opportunity to finally play with “his” army men. And Bolton? Well, he has ALWAYS wanted war with the Persia of the Bible. In 2015. Bolton said:

The inescapable conclusion is that Iran will not negotiate away its nuclear program. Nor will sanctions block its building a broad and deep weapons infrastructure. The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.

Let’s not forget that John Bolton was one of the main architects of the immoral war with Iraq. In 2002, Bolton said:

We are confident that Saddam Hussein has hidden weapons of mass destruction and production facilities in Iraq.

We now know that Bolton, along with President George W. Bush, lied to the American people about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction. I have long supported President Bush and other war-mongers facing war-crime charges over their murderous actions in Iraq. Alas, the military-industrial complex always wins, regardless of whether a Democrat or a Republican sits in the White House. America’s war machine has long provided cover for economic decline and increased unemployment. Bloodshed is good for our economy. Everyone wins when Middle Eastern women and children die from American interventionism and drone strikes. Well, everyone except the people slaughtered by our military might. Hey, as long as we are fighting “them” over there, and not here, it’s all good — right?

I came of age during the Vietnam War. We now know that this war was predicated on a lie — North Vietnam’s attack of American navy vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin. Wikipedia states:

The Gulf of Tonkin incident (Vietnamese: Sự kiện Vịnh Bắc Bộ), also known as the USS Maddox incident, was an international confrontation that led to the United States engaging more directly in the Vietnam War. It involved either one or two separate confrontations involving North Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The original American report blamed North Vietnam for both incidents, but eventually became very controversial with widespread belief that at least one, and possibly both incidents were false, and possibly deliberately so. On August 2, 1964, the destroyer USS Maddox, while performing a signals intelligence patrol as part of DESOTO operations, was pursued by three North Vietnamese Navy torpedo boats of the 135th Torpedo Squadron. Maddox fired three warning shots and the North Vietnamese boats then attacked with torpedoes and machine gun fire. Maddox expended over 280 3-inch (76.2 mm) and 5-inch (127 mm) shells in a sea battle. One U.S. aircraft was damaged, three North Vietnamese torpedo boats were damaged, and four North Vietnamese sailors were killed, with six more wounded. There were no U.S. casualties. Maddox “was unscathed except for a single bullet hole from a Vietnamese machine gun round.”

It was originally claimed by the National Security Agency that a Second Gulf of Tonkin incident occurred on August 4, 1964, as another sea battle, but instead evidence was found of “Tonkin ghosts” (false radar images) and not actual North Vietnamese torpedo boats. In the 2003 documentary The Fog of War, the former United States Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara admitted that the August 2 USS Maddox attack happened with no Defense Department response, but the August 4 Gulf of Tonkin attack never happened In 1995, McNamara met with former Vietnam People’s Army General Võ Nguyên Giáp to ask what happened on August 4, 1964, in the second Gulf of Tonkin Incident. “Absolutely nothing”, Giáp replied. Giáp claimed that the attack had been imaginary.

The outcome of these two incidents was the passage by Congress of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted President Lyndon B. Johnson the authority to assist any Southeast Asian country whose government was considered to be jeopardized by “communist aggression”. The resolution served as Johnson’s legal justification for deploying U.S. conventional forces and the commencement of open warfare against North Vietnam.

In 2005, an internal National Security Agency historical study was declassified; it concluded that Maddox had engaged the North Vietnamese Navy on August 2, but that there were no North Vietnamese naval vessels present during the incident of August 4. The report stated, regarding the first incident on August 2:

“at 1500G, Captain Herrick ordered Ogier’s gun crews to open fire if the boats approached within ten thousand yards (9,150 m). At about 1505G, Maddox fired three rounds to warn off the communist [North Vietnamese] boats. This initial action was never reported by the Johnson administration, which insisted that the Vietnamese boats fired first.”

(The Wikipedia article on the Gulf of Tonkin incident is quite informative. If you are not familiar with what happened, I hope you will take the time to read it.)

On August 4, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson made a TV announcement to the American people about the supposedly unprovoked attacks by North Vietnam on the United States. We now know, of course, that Johnson (and Robert MacNamara) was lying through his teeth. This mythical event fueled what was to become ten years of bloodshed in Southeast Asia. More than two million soldiers and civilians died, and millions more were wounded.

Call me an old curmudgeon or a military-hating commie, I care not. All I know is this: I have not seen one scintilla of evidence that suggests that Iran poses a threat to the United States. Thus, I have concluded that the current saber-rattling is little more than an attempt by Donald Trump to pump up his “manly” image before the 2020 presidential election; to show the American people that he is willing to kill on their behalf. John Bolton is all too willing to help Trump fulfill his destiny. And who will pay the ultimate price? The American people — soldiers forced to shed their blood in yet another supererogatory war; and civilians in faraway lands who can’t figure out why Jesus-loving Americans hate them so much.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

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Donald Trump Plans to Use “Socialism” to Ameliorate Effects of Tariffs on Farmers

trump tariffs and farmers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Local newspaper editorial pages frequently feature letters from right-wing Republican Christians attacking what they believe is the Devil’s economic policy — socialism.  Never mind the fact that few if any of these people could articulately and comprehensively define socialism and differentiate between the various types of socialism. Never mind the fact that the United States has always been to some degree or the other a socialist state. Never mind the fact that many of these letter writers participate in and benefit from socialist programs: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, public roads, public infrastructure, veteran benefits, Food Stamps, vaccines and flu shots, public education, public parks, etc. These letter writers clamor for a libertarian world where government has little to no role to play outside of national defense.  Envision, if you dare, such a world; a world where the moment you pull out of your driveway onto the road, you are required to pay a toll because all roads are privately owned. Imagine a world without laws and regulations; a world without the EPA and FDA; a world governed by one rule: “let the buyer beware.”

Donald Trump, the buffoon currently inhabiting the White House, is waging a trade war, mainly against China. Using punitive, excessive, and unnecessary tariffs, Trump is causing all sorts of economic and social harm. No one has suffered more under Trump’s delusions than American farmers. Grain prices are plummeting, and will only get worse, especially if China punitively cuts off farm imports from the United States and turns to other countries to meet their needs. Farm bankruptcies are on the rise, leading to further agricultural operation consolidation.

Local TV news programs have been featuring local farmers whining about what Trump’s tariffs are doing to their bottom lines. Farmers already operate on razor-thin margins, so I understand them not wanting to face continued financial loss. The irony here is that most local farmers are registered Republicans and voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. It’s their chosen one who is saying to them, “bend over and take it like a man.” Trump and his on crack economic advisors, of course, know that rural white Midwestern voters are key to their hope of winning in 2020. Lose farm country and one of 2,022 Democratic candidates running for office will be the next president of Christian America. That’s why Trump has been spending billions of dollars subsidizing American farmers. Not that this is anything new. Farmers have always been on the government teat, suckling price guarantees and other programs meant to stabilize prices and ensure profitability. Farmers benefit from commodity buybacks, government-sponsored insurance programs, land set-aside payments, etc. You know, s-o-c-i-a-l-i-s-m.

Last week, Trump asked for an additional $15 billion in socialist funding for farmers. This is in addition to the $12 billion already allocated for socialist relief checks currently being sent to “suffering” farmers, including large, multi-million-dollar agricultural operations. Why should farmers alone get welfare checks from the U.S. Treasury? Trump’s tariffs are causing all sorts of harm to local manufacturing concerns, including the company that employs my wife and several of our children. Shouldn’t these companies also benefit from Trump’s socialist largesse?

Come November 2020 — as sure as corn, soy beans, and wheat spring forth from Ohio farmland — local farmers will line up at polling stations to vote for Donald Trump. No matter what the man does — and war with Iran is looming on the horizon — he will get their vote. Why? He’s their great white hope, the only man who can stave off atheistic socialism from taking over the world. Cognitive dissonance abounds in America’s heartland, and Trump and his fellow Republicans count on this so they can continue their pillage and destruction. Their goal remains what it has always been: to continue to accumulate vast sums of wealth at the expense of working-class, poor Americans.

Duping Americans into believing that socialism is some sort of evil that will destroy all that is holy and good is key to Republicans holding on to power, both at the state and federal level. One of my objectives as a writer is to help people see that Republican economic policies are harmful to the American people and actually impede social and economic progress. Laissez-faire capitalism has miserably failed, and it’s time for a new economic system to take root and flourish.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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“Why Do Liberals Think Trump Supporters Are Stupid?” by Adam-Troy Castro

donald trump

Found on Facebook. Written by author Adam-Troy Castro

An anguished question from a Trump supporter: “Why do liberals think Trump supporters are stupid?”

The serious answer: Here’s what we really think about Trump supporters – the rich, the poor, the malignant and the innocently well-meaning, the ones who think and the ones who don’t . . .

That when you saw a man who had owned a fraudulent University, intent on scamming poor people, you thought “Fine.”

That when you saw a man who had made it his business practice to stiff his creditors, you said, “Okay.”

That when you heard him proudly brag about his own history of sexual abuse, you said, “No problem.”

That when he made up stories about seeing Muslim-Americans in the thousands cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center, you said, “Not an issue.”

That when you saw him brag that he could shoot a man on Fifth Avenue and you wouldn’t care, you chirped, “He sure knows me.”

That when you heard him illustrate his own character by telling that cute story about the elderly guest bleeding on the floor at his country club, the story about how he turned his back and how it was all an imposition on him, you said, “That’s cool!”

That when you saw him mock the disabled, you thought it was the funniest thing you ever saw.

That when you heard him brag that he doesn’t read books, you said, “Well, who has time?”

That when the Central Park Five were compensated as innocent men convicted of a crime they didn’t commit, and he angrily said that they should still be in prison, you said, “That makes sense.”

That when you heard him tell his supporters to beat up protesters and that he would hire attorneys, you thought, “Yes!”

That when you heard him tell one rally to confiscate a man’s coat before throwing him out into the freezing cold, you said, “What a great guy!”

That you have watched the parade of neo-Nazis and white supremacists with whom he curries favor, while refusing to condemn outright Nazis, and you have said, “Thumbs up!”

That you hear him unable to talk to foreign dignitaries without insulting their countries and demanding that they praise his electoral win, you said, “That’s the way I want my President to be.”

That you have watched him remove expertise from all layers of government in favor of people who make money off of eliminating protections in the industries they’re supposed to be regulating and you have said, “What a genius!”

That you have heard him continue to profit from his businesses, in part by leveraging his position as President, to the point of overcharging the Secret Service for space in the properties he owns, and you have said, “That’s smart!”

That you have heard him say that it was difficult to help Puerto Rico because it was the middle of water and you have said, “That makes sense.”

That you have seen him start fights with every country from Canada to New Zealand while praising Russia and quote, “falling in love” with the dictator of North Korea, and you have said, “That’s statesmanship!”

That Trump separated children from their families and put them in cages, managed to lose track of 1500 kids. has opened a tent city incarceration camp in the desert in Texas – he explains that they’re just “animals” – and you say, “well, ok then.”

That you have witnessed all the thousand and one other manifestations of corruption and low moral character and outright animalistic rudeness and contempt for you, the working American voter, and you still show up grinning and wearing your MAGA hats and threatening to beat up anybody who says otherwise.

What you don’t get, Trump supporters in 2019, is that succumbing to frustration and thinking of you as stupid may be wrong and unhelpful, but it’s also . . . hear me . . . charitable.

Because if you’re NOT stupid, we must turn to other explanations, and most of them are less flattering.

donald trump the liar

Access database of lies and misleading claims told by President Donald Trump

 

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Pastor Randall Snipes Goes Out of His Way to Offend Non-Evangelicals

randall snipes

This is the one hundred and ninety-ninth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of Fundamentalist Baptist pastor Randall Snipes preaching a “prayer” before the Virginia House of Representatives. Snipes is the pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church in Colonial Beach, Virginia.

Video Link

Transcript of Snipes’ prayer

Let us pray. Heavenly Father, we bow before You, Lord, and we proclaim now… that you are God, and there is none other than You, and there is none like You.

God, we ask that, as a nation, Lord, we would not seek our own pleasure, our own preferences, or our own praise, but that, God, we would seek Your pleasure. That God, we would seek Your praise. Lord, that we would seek Your will.

God, we ask you humbly today that you would convict us. Lord, if you’d send your Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, and the righteousness, and of judgment. God, the sin that that we commit, the sin that we celebrate, the sin that we allow, the sin that we promote. God, convict us of that. Lord, convict us of righteousness. Lord, Your holy standard. God, and how far short we are of that on so many occasions. And God, convict us of the judgment it is to come, the day that you have already set before, for we will give an account for every action, every deed, and every word. God, a day that you have set aside where every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that “Jesus is Lord.”

God, I pray that you would convict us of that day where those who love you will be rewarded, and those who reject you will be sentenced.

God, give us that conviction this day. And Lord, we ask that you would grant us wisdom, that this group of people would have supernatural wisdom today. Lord, of wisdom that begins with the fear of you. God, we ask… for forgiveness. Lord, forgiveness for the millions and millions of innocent lives that have been murdered for the sake of convenience. God, we ask you for forgiveness for the bloodshed that is on our hands as a nation. And Lord, we don’t deserve it. God, we confess before you that we do not deserve it. But Lord, we have nowhere else to turn but to you, and to ask as humbly as we know how, God, that you would forgive us. That you would help us turn from our wicked ways. God, that we would seek Your face.

God, we pray that this day you would begin a spiritual revolution, an awakening, a revival in our nation, Lord, that you would deliver us from evil, not just of our nation might be exalted, but God, that you would create in us once again a nation that exalts You.

We do not ask these things based on our own merit or in our own power. But today, God, we evoke their precious and powerful and Holy Name of Jesus. In His name we pray. And to Him be glory and power and honor, forever and ever. Amen.

According to Many Evangelicals, Donald Trump is a Modern-Day King Cyrus

bill maher

In the video below, comedian Bill Maher  ridicules and dismantles the Evangelical notion that President Donald Trump is some sort of modern-day reincarnation of Persian ruler King Cyrus (also known as King Cyrus the Great). If you are not up on old King Cy, please read Isaiah 45. OMG, did you see that? Isaiah 45? Trump is the 45th president! Thank you, Jesus, we now know the pussy-grabber-in chief is your anointed one!

Enjoy!

Video Link

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