Tag Archives: Conservatives

Conversations With Conservatives, Or How I Learned To Have Fun With And Annoy The Right Wing

I have many conservative friends, and, prudently, when in their presence I avoid the usual dangerous topics when I can: religion, politics, history, taxes, etc. But every now and then a polemic discussion rears its inevitable head, and I can’t fight back the urge to inject my subversive, sarcastic, and eristic words. Such an occasion happened recently. I have here reconstructed an old conversation and combined it with new material derived from a chance meeting with the conservative just last week:

CONSERVATIVE: I know you don’t believe that Jesus Christ is your Lord and personal savior.

ME: Well…now that you mention it. The rationalist in me wants to parse that sentence. The phrase “My Lord and personal savior” sounds threatening. Like I’d better believe or else. As if someone is trying to control my thoughts and actions…and if I do not conform (meaning blindly believe that there is an all-powerful white man in the sky waiting to condemn me or save me based on someone’s interpretation of a centuries-old book), there will be literally hell to pay.

CONSERVATIVE: Since when is faith a bad thing?

ME: When blind faith shuts down reason, overrides temperance, denies the power of the intellect, and incites intolerance and violence, then it is a bad thing.

CONSERVATIVE: My Christian beliefs forbid me from practicing hate.

ME: Yet you listen to Rush Limbaugh every day–the right wing’s high minister of hate.

CONSERVATIVE: That’s politics, not religion. Rush is merely pointing out how your side is harming democracy by enforcing a socialist agenda on unwilling citizens.

ME: From my reading of the Bible, Jesus was the most prominent socialist in history. Didn’t he say that we will be judged by how we treat the least among us? Didn’t he drive the moneychangers from the temple? Didn’t he say that it will be harder for a rich man to enter His Kingdom than…

CONSERVATIVE: (Clearly flustered) Jesus wants us to be free. He loves America, and he blesses every day with His riches.

ME: But America is quickly becoming a third-world Republic in the sense that the wealth inequity gap is widening dramatically. The poor are getting poorer and the rich richer.

CONSERVATIVE: Every man–regardless of race, status or creed–has the opportunity to succeed and become rich in America.

ME: Not true. If that were so, capitalism would cease to exist, because the capitalist system requires that there be a few at the top and many at the bottom. The factory owner must have hundreds, maybe thousands, of factory laborers to make his enterprise profitable. And when it does become profitable, he keeps the lion’s share of profit for himself. If we had all kings and no peons, capitalism would cease to exist.

CONSERVATIVE: You’re perverting the intent of democracy and capitalism.

ME: They are not the same thing. You know what Louis Brandeis said? “We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have all wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we can’t have both.”

CONSERVATIVE: Who’s Louis Brandeis? One of your atheist, pinko icons?

ME: Supreme Court Justice in the 1920s.

CONSERVATIVE: Well, he’s full of crap.

ME: How about James Madison, then? You right-wingers are fond of him, right? He said, “History records that moneychangers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments.” That makes America a government of the rich, by the wealthy, and for the few.

CONSERVATIVE: Only Jesus can save heathens like you; I am going to pray for your salvation.

ME: Don’t bother. If Heaven is anything like America, I’ll pass. I want to go to Paradise. A place where everyone has his own room in the mansion. A place where the First shall be Last and the Last shall be first. A place where there is no suffering. A place where love and peace reign. A place where no man can oppress another. A place where material wealth and power do not matter. Hey wait…that is the Heaven promised us in the Bible. On second thought, go ahead and pray for my soul.

CONSERVATIVE: Now you’re being sarcastic.

ME: I’m not. And while you’re at it, pray for President Obama also. I know you hate him, but aren’t you bound by your faith to love your enemies.

CONSERVATIVE: He’s a socialist. I can’t save socialists.

ME: But so was Jesus.

CONSERVATIVE: You no doubt have Scripture which proves that?

I pulled out my handy-dandy list of Bible passages which contain The Lord’s love of socialism.

ME: Here’s one of my favorites. Jesus said, “Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.”

CONSERVATIVE: You cherry-picked one passage to suit your politics.

ME: Oh, but there’s much more. Jesus says to the blessed, “…take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in (today, right-wing Christians would shoot Jesus as a home invader), I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you as a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The Lord will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine you did for me.'”

The conservative nervously looked at his watch.

CONSERVATIVE: Hey, look at that. I’m late for Bible study. Today we’re discussing Huckabee’s new book, “Guns, Grits, and God.” I gotta go.

ME: Wait. I have more. From the book of Matthew, “You cannot serve both God and money.” And here’s one from Luke, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”

The conservative put his earmuffs on so he couldn’t hear me any more. He roared off in his pick-up with the gun rack in the back window. I giggled at his bumper sticker which read, “Jesus hates Obama and Socialists.”


[This post is submitted in loving memory of my brother John Fitzgerald Fleming. Named for JFK, John was an author, scholar, linguist, and dog lover. He adored his nieces and nephews. I speak for all those who loved him and never got the chance to say good-bye. We will see you again; may you rest in peace.]


Why Capitalism is a Form of Fascism

“The liberty of democracy is not safe
if the people tolerate the growth of
private power to a point where it
becomes stronger than their democratic
state itself. That, in its essence, is
fascism–ownership of government by an
individual, by a group.”
–Franklin Roosevelt

FDR spoke those words during the 1940s when the world’s safety and peace were threatened by fascism. World War II was the crucible by which the world’s fate would be decided. Thank God, democracy won out. But FDR knew the cataclysmic danger Nazism presented. All Americans acutely felt the threat that fascism posed, and we knew that, for true democracy to survive, we had to fight the threat, not only abroad but here at home. So far removed from those dangerous yet unifying times, Americans today have a hard time comprehending that the threat is still with us. Only now it comes from within. There is a small group of wealthy men, mostly white, middle-aged and Republican, who are trying to own the government. To bend democracy to their benefit and theirs alone. They despise the poor, minorities, women, homosexuals…in fact, anyone who is not white, middle-aged, male and unimaginably wealthy is abhorrent to them. They are sometimes invisible or unrecognizable, because they don’t come at us with the SS, a blitzkrieg, or the Luftwaffe, like Hitler did, but their intent is just the same–control of the government. Maybe it is capitalism itself which is the enemy, for the capitalist system closely mimics the fascist model FDR decried. A powerful few at the top own the government.

“Nonsense,” say my conservative acquaintances. “We all have a say in democracy.”

“Some have more say than others,” I reply. “Just ask the Supreme Court. The ultra-rich can buy as much of the government as they like now. They can spend the kind of money on candidates and elections that the little guy cannot. They have inordinate influence over the processes of government.”

“Then get rich yourself and buy your own congressmen,” the conservative says. “It’s America; anyone can get wealthy.”

“That is not possible under our system,” I say. “That’s like saying we can all win the lottery. That can’t happen. Only one person wins the lottery. The capitalist system works only if there are a privileged few at the top and many at the bottom. For every billionaire, there are hundreds of millions of poor people. For every one person at the top, there are hundreds of millions at the bottom. Capitalism does not allow for every man to be a king. Only a few. And the rest of us are at the mercy of the few. That’s how capitalism works.”

“Then get rich yourself and rule the country,” says the right-winger.

“Democracy should not be about the richest ruling. It should be about every person having a say,” I respond.

“That’s democracy; that’s not capitalism,” says the conservative. And therein is the conundrum. Capitalism and democracy are mortal enemies. One thrives at the suppression of the other.

What would FDR think of America today? He would be outraged by the ultra-rich using their immeasurable wealth to buy Congress, mostly by pouring money into Tea Party coffers, but also by buying the truth. Fox News is their propaganda arm, spewing lies and misinformation daily. On the radio, like Goebbels once did, Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck, and other propagandists sway the uninformed and stir the worst fears of the common man. It’s an old formula.

We can still vote, but even that privilege is being manipulated by Republican gerrymandering and voter suppression. Like the Nazis, these people are ruthless and will not stop until they own everything. If their America comes to pass, we will see widespread poverty, the proliferation of sickness and disease, the end of public assistance, Social Security, public education, health care for the old and needy, and an intolerant, gun-riddled age of violence.

It is not an international war; it is a domestic war. A war where one side has all the wealth and most of the politicians, judges and weapons. Still, we must be fight on as FDR and brave Americans did when we defeated another form of fascism decades ago. If for no other reason than to honor the memory of one of our wisest presidents.


Sociopathy of Billionaire Predators


In a previous post I discussed the harmful effects that right-wing billionaires have on our sociocultural lives.  Because of their enormous wealth and power, their evil influence penetrates all strata of American society–in politics, business, education, medicine, the environment, and our collective values (or lack thereof).  A new article published in today’s Op-Ed News redirects my perspective on this matter.  Writer and Op-Ed publisher Rob Kall asserts that billionaires are sociopaths, and we should treat them as such.  What is a sociopath?  Most psychologists define sociopaths as people who lack a conscience.  They are rapacious and greedy without regard for others, and they will say or do anything to get their way.  There is a streak of narcissism in sociopaths, who by and large care only for themselves and not one whit for others.  This is in line with the American conservative’s political philosophy, in that Republicans support policies that promote individual wealth and autocracy at the expense of the greater good.
In his article entitled “Monuments Men, Gestapo Generals, Billionaires,” Kall goes even further with his indictment of conscienceless billionaires: “These people are not just wealthy. They are parasites who exploit workers, who are the biggest welfare hogs, using and taking advantage of the government, the commons and the middle class. They are the generals in the class war– a war that they and their ilk started and have been ginning up. They are enemy generals. Their spending, which I would estimate runs in the billions of dollars, more if you include the welfare and parasitization they engage in, is used to destroy lives, and it actually kills people, or kills their hopes and dreams. They are indeed far worse than billionaire Tom Perkins whined when he spoke of comparing the wealthy to the Jewish victims of Kristallnacht.
“Let’s talk about Perkins. This man recently sold his yacht– the biggest  sailing yacht ever built– 289 feet– for about $100 million dollars– at least $50 million less than he paid for it.  The Megayacht news website that reported this stated that Perkins kept the personal two man submarine he had built.  This man attacks the people of Occupy for challenging the one percent. He feels threatened. He should feel threatened. No, I don’t want to do to him as I would do to a Nazi general. But I do want to end his life as a billionaire. I do want to eliminate all billionaires from the planet.
“That doesn’t mean I want to kill them or harm them. No. I want to take away what they do not deserve– their wealth. No sane person deserves, wants or needs billions of dollars. No person needs a 289 foot private sailing yacht. No person needs to privately own a painting or work of art that costs over $100 million. People who feel the need to possess that much money and such obscene, even pornographic possessions are sick. More and more people are saying  it takes a sociopath to run a fortune 500 company or to become a billionaire.  I’ve learned a bit about sociopaths and they are part of a collection of predators and malevolent personalities, which include psychopaths, anti-social personalities, narcissists and Borderline personalities. I’d also throw in addicts and hoarders to the list.”
What Kall is saying is that the same traits that define someone as mentally deranged in psychological terms are also the traits that propel one to enormous wealth in the dog-eat-dog world of capitalism.  This makes me wonder if sociopaths are born or made.  DSM, the bible of Psychology, asserts that many sociopaths come from homes where one or both are parents are tyrants.  The home is a rigid, tense place where mental or physical abuse may be used on the developing child.  The sociopath exhibits then the tendency to be deceptive, discompassionate, and desocial in childhood.  He learns that in order to succeed in the world, he needs to amass more power than those who have subjugated him, and by any means necessary he goes about accumulating this power.  Since, in America at least, power is wealth, the sociopath’s overriding ambition is to gain and hoard as much money as possible. 
All this makes me wonder–can we identify the “sociopath” in early life and quarantine him before he does society a great deal of harm.  Just think, with this knowledge we might have saved the world from Adolph Hitler, Strom Thurmond, Benito Mussolini, Anthony Scalia, Dick Cheney, John Schnatter, the Koch brothers, and Allen Dulles among many other criminally insane sociopaths.  Alas, if we could diagnose and isolate sociopaths, the Tea Party would claim that we were doing too much social engineering.  Hey, I can still dream, right?
Kall concludes, “Billionaires are predators who step on, step over and remorselessly destroy, harm or even kill people to reach their goals– usually to win and dominate. And these people don’t become billionaires or successes alone. They corrupt and buy (infect) many people– politicians, regulators, judges along the  blood way to get to the top. Just as generals in wars make decisions to spend the lives of troops, billionaires and CEOs consider the costs of people who are sickened by pollution or who die because they didn’t have access to healthcare to be an acceptable part of doing business. And don’t dare try to tell me that everyone can go to the emergency room. If that’s what you are thinking, crawl back under your rock, like a good insect.”