The GOP is a cult

GOP candidates line up at their most recent debate with the oddly appropriate tagline,

GOP candidates line up at their most recent debate with the oddly appropriate tagline, “Your money, your vote.”

The title of this article is intended to be slightly salacious and incendiary, but it’s also an honest diagnosis. The GOP, driven by a radical fundamentalist ideology, is unrecognizable as a traditional political party. “Cult” is a frankly accurate way to describe an organization that creates an alternate reality, worships power and seems to be following a suicide pact.

All this was on display in the most recent Republican debate. It was arguably the most heated debate so far, but not because of passionate disagreements on policy. Candidates battled less like diplomats determining the fate of the free world than like a chimp tribe choosing an alpha. The Republican Party is radicalized way beyond the point of debating sensible policy positions. Continue reading

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School resource officers contribute to violence in schools

#AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh: a school resource officer slams a student and her desk to the floor.

#AssaultAtSpringValleyHigh: A school resource officer slams a student and her desk to the floor.

At a high school in South Carolina on Oct. 26, an insubordinate student was thrown out of her desk and dragged across the floor by a policeman. It’s far from the worst overreach of force demonstrated recently, but it’s deeply emblematic of America’s police problem. The so-called “school resource officer” was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. Unless that investigation determines the girl had a bomb around her waist, the violence was completely uncalled for.

Disturbing video of the incident, which was widely shared on social media, certainly offers nothing to condone the officer’s actions. According to a local report, the girl was being disruptive in class and didn’t cooperate when her teacher and an administrator asked her to leave. So the officer handled the situation the only way increasing numbers of cops seem to know how – by becoming physically violent. Continue reading

Planned Parenthood attacks are the pettiest of politics

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Capitol Hill in Washington September 29, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Planned Parenthood has been cleared of wrongdoing on the federal level by the very congressman who was their most aggressive opponent, but the group remains hounded at the state level. In Texas, Republican leadership is cutting Medicaid funding to the nonprofit reproductive healthcare provider. Even though they provide a long list of medical services, the campaign against Planned Parenthood is all about conservative fundamentalism on the issue of abortion. Continue reading

#BoycottStarWarsVII is the dumbest hashtag activism yet

John Boyega is set to star in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

John Boyega is set to star in Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

You’ve really got to feel bad for white people. At one time, they controlled 100 percent of the nation’s political seats, ran all the biggest business enterprises, and enjoyed a media that only cared about them. Now, they control only 80 percent of Congress, 96 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions, and have only FOX News to cater to them. They’re slipping.

Worst of all, Hollywood cast a black man as a lead in the upcoming Star Wars movie. When The Force Awakens hits theaters December 18, John Boyega will play a Storm Trooper who, presumably, leaves the dark side to become a Jedi. This means Darth Vader is more racially progressive as an employer than many Americans are in real life. From the moment Boyega lifted his helmet to reveal a black face in the film’s newest trailer, segments of white America were outraged. Continue reading

Martin Shkreli, America’s most prominent gangster

Don't feel too bad that your new prescription made you go broke. It went to a good cause: This guy, who's worth an estimated $100 million.

Don’t feel too bad that your new prescription made you go broke. It went to a good cause: This guy, who’s worth an estimated $100 million.

Martin Shkreli is on the fast track to becoming America’s public enemy number one. He’s a former hedge fund manager who made his front page debut in September for acquiring the patent to a drug used by AIDS and cancer patients and then raising its price more than 5,500 percent. Since then, he’s also been outed through published social media exchanges as a creep and a bully, perhaps even criminally so. Most recently he tried to buy his way into a meeting with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

It’s to Sanders’s credit that his campaign gave the money away to a health clinic and called Shkreli the “poster boy for drug company greed.” What makes Shkreli’s donation extra distasteful is his statement on the controversy: “He’ll take my money, but he won’t engage with me for five minutes to understand this issue better.” It’s clear that Shkreli expected to receive an audience with the candidate in exchange for his donation.

Shkreli’s behavior is best characterized as mob-like. His attempt to exchange financial favors for political ones sounds an awful lot like bribery. Add to that his psychotic harassment of a former employee’s family over misappropriated funds – including a vow to see the man’s wife and children homeless on the street – and Shkreli really starts to fit the profile of unfiltered gangster villainy. Continue reading

Democratic debate reveals flaws of debate system

Dozens of online polls had Senator Bernie Sanders winning the debate by huge margins, but much of the corporate media still declared Hillary Clinton the winner.

Dozens of online polls had Senator Bernie Sanders winning the debate by huge margins, but much of the corporate media still declared Hillary Clinton the winner.

After months of Republicans dominating 2016 election coverage, the Democrats finally had their chance in the spotlight. Their debate was certainly a more down-to-earth presentation than the hysterical Republican spectacles, but it wasn’t without moments of surrealism. Overall, though, the debate served primarily to reveal the superficiality of our political system.

If anything, that superficiality really speaks to the need for more debates. The Democrats aren’t having another one until November 14. All the candidates really had time to do at the first debate was speak in talking points. It wouldn’t have been that different a show if candidates just took turns reading blurbs from their campaign websites. Continue reading

Christian conservatives: Analyzing modern civilization with ancient superstition

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A “blood moon” on September 27 was treated by some religious conservatives as a godly omen.

Before the advent of science and the ubiquity of light pollution, human beings gazed up at the stars and ascribed great meaning to astral events, treating them as omens from the gods. Many of these mystified people still wander the earth, untouched by modern knowledge of gravity and geometry. They aren’t just hiding out in the Amazonian wilds, either; many of them follow Glenn Beck’s Facebook page. Continue reading

Umpqua is far less about Christian persecution than it is firearm proliferation

This image of presidential candidate Ben Carson has sparked a hashtag movement, but the FBI's hate crime statistics show it's hardly a bold or courageous stand.

This image of presidential candidate Ben Carson has sparked a hashtag movement, but the FBI’s hate crime statistics show it’s hardly a bold or courageous stand.

Christians are experiencing grief and solidarity over reports that the Umpqua Community College gunman who killed nine people and himself in Oregon on October 1 was targeting their religion. There are conflicting testimonies about what the shooter, Chris Harper-Mercer, said to his victims, but all say religion was a theme in the killings.

Horrific as the massacre in Oregon was, it is not sufficient to establish the existence of a war on Christians. FBI statistics for 2013 show 116 hate crimes perpetrated against Catholics and Protestants out of nearly 6,000 hate crime incidents, or less than 2 percent. Continue reading

Tragedy is the perfect time to discuss an issue

An all too familiar American scene: victims of a mass shooting taken to a hospital in Roseburg, OR.

An all too familiar American scene: victims of a mass shooting taken to a hospital in Roseburg, OR.

Another mass shooting, this time at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, has brought gun violence to the front page. At least ten people were killed, including the gunman, and another seven were injured. President Obama responded to the carnage forcefully, preempting the standard gun lobby responses that the answer is more guns and that it’s inappropriate to score political points off of tragedy.

The first claim, that more guns are the solution, is pretty thoroughly debunked so it hardly needs addressing here. The second claim, that it’s cheap to score political points off of tragedy, is truly a refuge of the scoundrel. Continue reading