Bonus Post

SEE NOTHING AND NOBODY

DOWN BY THE SCHOOLYARD

sung to the tune of “See Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard” with apologies to Paul Simon.

President Trump said reopen schools.

So did the czar of education.

When the teachers found out they began to shout,

which started the litigation.

Teachers said naw! Teachers said naw!

A lot of sick we saw.

There ought to be a law.

Florida’s gov stood his ground, said we’re not bound

to conform to the convention.

Other govs said you must open schools or we’ll legally quash your dissension.

We’ve lost our way.

Don’t know where we’re going.

We’ve lost our way.

Law takes its time. Don’t know where…

Goodbye democracy, via the scourge of Corona.

See nothing and nobody down by the schoolyard.

See nothing and nobody down by the schoolyard.

Oh oh, people are saying they’re going to take school away and have online and home education.

And when the special interest groups have total control,

we’re gonna have an airheaded nation.

We’ve lost our way.

Don’t know where we’re going.

We’ve lost our way.

Law takes its time. Don’t know where…

Goodbye democracy, via the scourge of Corona.

See nothing and nobody down by the schoolyard.

See nothing and nobody down by the schoolyard.

See nothing and nobody down by the schoolyard.

Embattled Wall

The Book of the Week is “Embattled Wall, Americans United: An Idea and a Man” by C. Stanley Lowell, published in 1966.

Separation of Church and State requires a zero-tolerance policy, lest little things open the floodgates to bigger things, one thing leads to another, and those little things eventually lead to the Spanish Inquisition, or some other theocracy as is seen in many countries in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Besides, there are other reasons for separation of Church and State:

  • Religious entities that pay no taxes have a competitive advantage if they provide goods and services the same way tax-paying capitalist entities do. This includes private education services, and
  • Citizens probably don’t want their taxes to financially assist institutions associated with a religion other than their own.

After WWII in the United States, the power of the Catholic Church was on the increase. Beginning in 1947, the Church began to aggressively request government subsidies for its parochial school system. The author wrote, “…The National Catholic Welfare Conference… [were] like professional lobbyists… actually assisting in the drafting of legislation… cajoling, promising, threatening.”

Protestants felt that money was earned through work, not subsidies, so initially, they were against public funding for their schools. Thus, when over-achieving attorney Glenn Archer founded the group, Americans United— which litigated for separation of Church and State– Protestants assisted him.

The actual full name of the organization was “Protestants and Other Americans United For Separation of Church and State” (hereinafter referred to as “AU”). Other groups that supported them included Seventh Day Adventists and Christian Scientists. Jews mostly avoided the fray, but they were offended that the group had the word “church” in its name.

The Catholics launched a smear campaign against Archer and AU. Catholic publications trotted out the usual righteously indignant accusations, “bigot, religious prejudice, Ku Klux Klan, Communist, racist,” etc. The language in Jesuit propaganda was open to multiple interpretations (among many other examples):

“Freedom of choice in education”

which, in AU’s words, translated to:

Canon Law 1374 denies freedom of choice in education to Catholic parents, ordering them to send their children to Catholic schools.” In other words, the Catholic Church strongly believes that its worshippers should follow religious law before civil law whenever there is a clash between them.

Jesuits: “Justice for children”

AU: “Subsidies for Catholic schools”

The author also described a Catholic rabble rouser: “His posture of outraged purity impressed the majority who had no understanding of the real issues in the case.”

When American president Harry Truman proposed the appointing of an ambassador to the Vatican, AU protested that this was a violation of separation of Church and State, as the leader of the Vatican (the Pope) was a worldwide religious leader. AU and a sufficient number of individual complainants helped put the kibosh on that appointment.

The State Department was peeved because it could have used the Catholic Church (which had many houses of worship around the world) to assist with espionage– er, uh, fostering friendly relationships with nations that had Catholic citizens.

In 1958, the world got a new Pope, thanks in part to votes cast by Catholic cardinals in America. AU cited 8 U.S. Code 1481 of the Immigration and Nationality Act as a reason to revoke the citizenship of those cardinals. For, any American citizen who votes in a foreign country could be stripped of his citizenship.

The Church weakly counter-argued that the Pope is primarily a religious leader, and secondarily a national leader. However, AU produced support for its own arguments in the form of a few previous legal cases of citizenship revocations, plus American government documentation that showed the Vatican to be a political entity.

During the 1960 presidential election between Richard Nixon and the Catholic John F. Kennedy, AU asked questions to determine JFK’s positions on separation of Church and State. The U.S. Supreme Court, AU and JFK were all in agreement.

A few different laws were passed through the years, that granted subsidies pursuant to state laws, in addition to ongoing student loan programs:

  • 1948, the Taft Bill
  • 1958, Defense Education Act
  • 1963, Higher Education Facilities Act (which allowed a university– even that run by a religious institution– to acquire property at a fire-sale price from the government, and then to get permission to construct campus buildings with public funds), and
  • 1965, Elementary and Secondary Education Act

During those years, in effect, federal taxpayers were financially aiding Catholic education more than that of any other religion, as 95% of religious schools were Catholic.

In the late 1950’s, Franklin County in Missouri won a great legal victory against the Catholic Church. The court ruled that, “…schools were not in fact free public schools and were not entitled to be supported by public school money or public funds.”

In a Burlington, Vermont lawsuit, AU cited the First and Fourteenth Amendments because the vague language of the Vermont Constitution regarding separation of Church and State allowed for loopholes.

Read the book to learn about the practice of “captive schools” and a wealth of additional information on the tenor of the times in connection with legal fights over public funding for religious education.

Scholar

SCHOLAR

Sung to the tune of “All Star” with apologies to Smash Mouth and John Green.

Our government exploded.

G.O.P. and Dems unloaded.

We weren’t ready for their evil campaign.

They were getting out of hand with their “Everything is banned.”

They were acting just like Abel and Cain.

Well, this is history and you can’t stop history.

If you read books then it shouldn’t be a mystery.

“You’ll get sick and die if you live for fun.”

Propaganda’s smart but it makes you dumb.

It takes books for us to see

primary sources and all details clearly.

You’ll never know if you don’t read.

It’s awareness that we need.

Hey now, you’re a scholar.

Dust your brain off. Go learn.

Hey now, ignore the noise.

Turn the show off. The worm will turn.

All that reading is go-old.

Only the narrow-minded fear all they’re told.

It’s a rough patch, and it might get rougher.

You’re troubled now.

But you don’t have to suffer.

When pundits and media push your buttons,

reading helps you ignore the panic-gluttons.

You might be surprised who takes the lead.

The voting’s getting near

so you might as well read.

Nothing’s on fire, if you’ve got books.

You’ll be calm and you’ll forget the crooks.

Hey now, you’re a scholar.

Dust your brain off. Go learn.

Hey now, ignore the noise.

Turn the show off. The worm will turn.

All that reading is go-old.

Only the narrow-minded fear all they’re told.

Hey now, you’re a scholar.

Dust your brain off. Go learn.

Hey now, ignore the noise.

Turn the show off. The worm will turn.

All that reading is go-old.

Only the narrow-minded–

Our government decided it’s forcing change;

no more sanity or freedoms in this place.

We said, “Wait. What a trauma.”

We need to vote all the incumbents out.

And we should all applaud such change.

Well, this is history and you can’t stop history.

If you read books then it shouldn’t be a mystery.

“You’ll get sick and die if you live for fun.”

Propaganda’s smart but it makes you dumb.

It takes books for us to see

primary sources and all details clearly.

You’ll never know if you don’t read.

It’s awareness that we need.

Hey now, you’re a scholar.

Dust your brain off. Go learn.

Hey now, ignore the noise.

Turn the show off. The worm will turn.

All that reading is go-old.

Only the narrow-minded fear all they’re told.

And all that reading is go-old.

Only the narrow-minded fear all they’re told.

Paris 1919

The Book of the Week is “Paris 1919, Six Months That Changed the World” by Margaret MacMillan, originally published in 2001. In penning this large volume, the author gained access to “horse’s-mouth” documentation, largely thanks to meticulous recording of the peace conference’s participants’ every verbal exchange in more than two hundred meetings for three months, beginning in late April 1919.

After the usual needless deaths and ruined lives brought on by a war among a large number of diverse peoples (of different histories, religions, languages and cultures)– in the whole first half of 1919, the hegemony-possessing countries of the world engaged in complex, emotionally heated negotiations meant to achieve world peace. Alas, human nature intervened.

By the end of the extravaganza, there were nearly sixty commissions and committees that tried to put their two cents into the Versailles Treaty– that primarily tried to make Germany pay for its WWI aggression.

Throughout, the negotiators experienced the five stages of psychological loss theorized by Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Desire for: revenge, and financial and territorial compensation were the order of the day. Of course, those were the reasons for going to war, too. This was not unlike the political situation in 2020 in the United States between its two major political parties which have been fiercely fighting a roughly forty-year war; amid an epidemic, and a work-in-progress-national-healthcare-system.

One power-exercising technique used by certain local American politicians is to allow their citizens the option of wearing a mask (allegedly a preventive measure in spreading the current epidemic; a humiliation ritual that lacks significant scientific evidence for its existence)– giving the appearance of restoring a freedom the citizens lost.

The politicians can then see the proportion of people who are still fearful of contracting or spreading the disease. They can then further their abuse of power accordingly by imposing or reimposing such a tool of oppression on a whim!

Another example of the mentality of power-hungry nations of the last hundred years comes in the form of a ditty– a parody of “This Land” –Woody Guthrie’s song about the United States:

This land is my land, and only my land.

If you don’t get off,

I’ll shoot your head off.

I’ve got a shotgun, and you don’t got one.

This land was made for only me. Not you.

Anyway, each participant in 1919 Paris had largely similar arguments for their demands (unsurprisingly, the colonizers presented fanciful statistics as facts as part and parcel of their propaganda):

  • millions of their people made the ultimate sacrifice in the war.
  • the war-winners thought they were entitled to take back territories they had previously colonized (euphemistically calling the authority to recover them “mandates”) because peoples living in those territories weren’t sufficiently sophisticated to govern themselves (i.e., they were inferior, uncivilized), and
  • Statistically or ethnologically, there were significant populations of the conquering peoples in the sought-after cities or regions; likewise, the land had historically been theirs, or else it had been on a trade route important for their economic survival.

Except for a short break in March, American president Woodrow Wilson was physically present in Paris the whole time. He pushed for his idealistic agenda of “Fourteen Points” and a League of Nations.

The latter was supposed to be a group of countries that agreed to militarily protect each other in the event they were attacked. Pacifists felt that members should agree to get rid of their weapons and refrain from fighting in the first place.

Postwar, France favored the League. Feeling vulnerable, she was seeking to make nice with nations that had the resources she needed to feel secure: Russia for manpower, and Great Britain for naval and industrial strength. In general, the English-speaking peoples of the world wanted to believe in the rule of law– that wronged peoples could obtain recourse through international agreements and tribunals.

By April 1919, South African leader Jan Smuts had drafted a proposal for the League. The plans included neither a military force, nor a tribunal. Not much would get done anyway, because a unanimous vote would be required to make decisions.

Early on at the conference, Italy was beginning to exhibit the Fascism it would become known for. Poet, playwright and WWI hero Gabriele D’Annunzio oozed charisma, but his jingoistic bragging about Italy was based on nothing but energy and ego: “Victorious Italy– the most victorious of all the nations– victorious over herself and over the enemy– will have on the Alps and over her sea the Pax Romana, the sole peace that is fitting.” He passionately demanded that his country should get, among other territories, the town of Fiume, strategically located on the Adriatic.

By March, the peace talks had been narrowed down to four countries whose representatives (arrogant drama queens, all) would hammer out the documents that described the terms and conditions, benefits and limitations that would, it was fervently hoped, keep peace in the future. However, they snuck in vague language to invite loopholes.

Those four consisted of France, United States, Italy and Great Britain; in the form of statesmen Georges Clemenceau, Wilson, Vittorio Orlando and Lloyd George, respectively. The leaders were obligated to consult dozens of other treaties and agreements, usually between pairs of countries, that were signed on an ongoing basis during and after the war. A large number of agreements had been signed in secret.

Just a few wrenches in the works of the good-faith talks included:

  • In 1917, the Bolsheviks in Russia had begun creating a new society in which people would live happily ever after. But they were committing atrocities to do it.
  • The Balkans weren’t particularly interested in forming one big, happily family called Yugoslavia; they were comprised of Serbs, Croats, Albanians, Bulgarians and Macedonians; arguably Greeks and Romanians, and a slew of minorities; a few pairs of which hated each other, and
  • The Ottoman Empire was breaking up; in late 1918, hapless Hungary was militarily invaded by Bolsheviks, and in summer 1919 by Romania, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.

Read the book to learn who swayed whom and why and how; the fates of: Shantung, Turkey, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Egypt, Syria, Smyrna, Kurdistan, Armenia, Germany; of the personalities involved; and of numerous other political footballs.

Sovietstan / Kabul Beauty School

(WARNING: Long Post)

The First Book of the Week is Sovietstan, Travels in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Taijikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan” by Erika Fatland, (translated by Kari Dickson), published in 2020.

In the past decade, the author personally visited countries whose names end in “stan” except for Afghanistan. Those Central Asian nations became, more or less, independent from the former Soviet Union in the early 1990’s.

The author accepted hospitality from numerous people in the region, and related the historical backdrops of the respective lands. She spoke with several people who thought life was better under the old Soviet system, because they had had education, healthcare and culture then. Americans would consider the said countries to be dictatorships, although the author courteously called their leaders “presidents.”

Turkmenistan has oil and gas, the latter of which it exports to China. Its geography is comprised of more than eighty percent desert. Its political system is authoritarian.

Claiming she was a “student” (but was actually a tourist collecting information to write her book) in order to obtain a visa that was issued to very few applicants to begin with, the author was supervised every second of her stay; limited to a maximum of three weeks.

The author saw only a few Mercedes (and hardly any other cars) on the eight-lane main roads in the capital, Ashgabat. The bus shelters were air-conditioned. Most of the buildings were made of white marble.

There were a luxury Ferris wheel, and bright, colorfully lit fountains at night. However, there were only three ATMs in the whole nation that accepted foreign bank cards. Seven days a week, cops surveiled people on the streets to enforce the 11pm curfew.

Photos of the “president” hung everywhere in public places. Starting in 1992, he provided free utilities and car fuel for everyone. In 1999, he declared himself the nation’s ruler for the rest of his life. He wrote a book called Ruhnama, meaning Book of the Soul. No one questioned its greatness. Or else. It became the only reading material in schools. No more science or humanities were taught.

In the course of about four years, the dictator rid his people of Soviet culture, and banned dogs and recorded music. The health and welfare systems went to hell. Although no one paid taxes, more than half of the people were unemployed. That explained the almost empty roads the author saw in the capital city. Mercifully, the dictator died in late 2006.

Another ruler replaced him who forced the people to read his books. The author visited a rural farming village where the people herded camels and goats. They spoke only Turkmen, not Russian.

When the author and a cab driver were in the desert where no one else was present for miles around, she asked him why people had only the highest praise for their leader — worshipped him like a god and would never dare say a negative word about him.

The driver criticized himself for not working hard enough. He said, “Each one of us has a responsibility to play our part and to help our country develop.” The author wrote that he was born into the system– had never known any other mentality. This aspect of authoritarianism that the author witnessed bears a chilling resemblance to a recent line of propaganda in the United States (!): “We’re all in this together.” Who paid people to say that??

The author was forced to attend a horse show, and the next day, horse races. Attendance was mandatory for the nation’s every town, all of which had hippodromes. The dictator was a jockey in one race, but he accidentally fell after his horse crossed the finish line first, of course. Security compelled all attendees to delete any presidential-mishap footage from their cameras. The next day, a bootleg clip of the embarrassment surfaced on YouTube, anyway.

Predictably, very few citizens of Turkmenistan could afford to stay in the skyscrapers in the resort town of Turkmenbashi. The ones who could afford to go anywhere, holidayed on Turkey’s beaches instead because the former offered “Soviet-style service, bad food and no Internet.” Moreover, Turkmenistan’s dictator owned and controlled nearly all of their homeland’s hotels, restaurants and shops.

Kazakhstan— the most resource-rich nation in Central Asia– is flush with oil, gas, minerals, gold, coal and uranium; the first of which it extracts through Russian pipelines.

The author was pleased to see that the country had an open, Westernized society. It purchases most of its consumer goods from China. People spend their leisure time horse-racing and playing a game mounted on horses, batting around a goat carcass. They eat horse meat and drink soured mare’s milk regularly.

The author was able to travel around unaccompanied by a chaperone. Even so, at the entrance to the capital city of Astana, all buses’ passengers had their identity papers and baggage checked by security, while she and her cab driver weren’t subjected to what Americans would consider undue privacy intrusion.

As an aside, the privacy pendulum has finally swung the other way for political candidates in the United States. In the last several decades, in every election, every candidate’s political enemies have subjected candidates to increasingly punitive fishing-expeditions (It might be recalled that vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro and her husband were mercilessly put through the wringer in 1984).

Supposedly, a candidate’s history of financial dealings are an indicator of a candidate’s character. BUT, it is not necessarily an indicator of how well a candidate will do his or her job in the elective office.

Case in point: President Jimmy Carter’s tax returns were presumably squeaky-clean– as was his character— but there is general consensus that he did a poor job as president. That just shows that the real purpose of the privacy intrusion has been political vengeance!

There are plenty of ways other than scrutinizing personal financial behavior, to try to ascertain whether a candidate will be the public servant the voters want them to be.

Anyway, by the early 1950’s, high incidences of birth defects, mental illness, high blood pressure, and a cancer cluster plagued the region of Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan, thanks to secret testing of weapons of mass destruction by the Soviets beginning in 1949. The author learned this by personally visiting with the victims and their descendants, only the poorest of whom were still living there.

Tajikistan is resource-poor and has primitive infrastructure. Its geography is comprised of more than ninety percent mountains. In autumn 1991, the Communist party candidate won the election for president. He became increasingly unpopular. For, between June 1992 and March 1993, the nation suffered a bloody civil war, in which tens of thousands died. During the fighting, “Having regained power in parts of the country, the Rahmon [Nabiyev] government chose revenge rather than reconciliation, in keeping with old clan culture.”

Tajikistan’s fourth largest town lacks full-time electricity and heat, and has no indoor plumbing. Most of the people who live there are alcoholics. The vast majority of its people are Sunni Muslims. The men go to Russia to earn money to send back to their families. Some divorce their wives and never return home. But such income accounts for about half of the nation’s gross domestic product.

The author’s cab driver bribed three different border guards to minimize trouble when she traveled from Tajikistan into Kyrgyzstan. In the latter country, it was refreshing for her to see an absence of the dictator’s portraits everywhere, and to hear people speaking freely, both verbally and in the press, even negatively (!) about their government, with no punishment whatsoever.

Kyrgyzstan is, comparatively, the freest nation in Central Asia– the first to have a Parliament. Nonetheless, people tolerate corruption and nepotism from their leaders to avoid repeating the two difficult, past periods of political instability they suffered in the past three decades. They’ll vote for the same criminals over and over– which shows how much they want peace at all costs.

Also, at the time of the book’s writing, they lived in a culture in which any man could take a bride (even a Russian one) by abducting her, and she could not protest. He could even take more than one wife. In most cases the bride was likely headed for a life of marriage and children anyway, as she was unlikely to have an education, her own money, or somewhere to flee. Most families encouraged the practice.

Uzbekistan is one of the most oppressive States in Central Asia. The author wrote, “With great cunning, Karimov has used the fear of ethnic violence, Islamist fundamentalism and unstable neighbors as an excuse to rule with an iron fist.” The government’s imposed collectivist Soviet model of cotton growing was an epic economic fail. The author was subjected to unrelenting public scrutiny via police officers and video cameras everywhere she went.

Read the book to learn of numerous other adventures the author had in the aforementioned countries of Central Asia.

The Second Book of the Week is “Kabul Beauty School, An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil” by Deborah Rodriguez with Kristin Ohlson, published 2007.

This career memoir described the author’s early-21st century experiences in Afghanistan, teaching young women how to become beauticians. She wrote, “I love the Afghans, but their true national sport is gossip.”

The American author moved to Afghanistan in May 2002. Her mother owned a hair salon in Holland in the state of Michigan, so she had grown up immersed in that business’s culture. When she volunteered with an international aid organization to get away from her second husband, who was abusive, she realized her calling.

Also, the author wanted to help Afghan females, in one of the few environments that was strictly for them, where they could escape from the daily oppression they suffered, stemming from their culture and from their country’s war-torn situation.

The people of Afghanistan are descended from all different rivalrous tribes. Afghan females are treated as second-class citizens, especially if they are Muslims. They are still forced into arranged marriages. A prospective groom’s mother chooses a first wife for her own son. The men are allowed to take on additional wives if they so choose.

The later wives are those whose reputations have been ruined for one reason or another; some through no fault of their own. If they are not virgins when they are first chosen to be wives, say, due to having been raped, they are damaged goods, and might have an unusually horrible prospect pushed on them– one who is decades older, more abusive than usual, or poverty stricken.

The author’s Afghan friends planned to set up a husband for her. She had two previous failed marriages. The man they chose seemed nice and wealthy enough. He had an oil-drilling business in Saudi Arabia. By the way, the friends were finally pressed to mention, though, that he already had a first wife and seven daughters back in Saudi Arabia. He was hoping the author could bear him a son. The author had already had two sons from her first marriage, living in the United States.

The author felt obliged to get married because any woman seen alone with any man, engaged or not, was assumed to be a prostitute.

Read the book to learn a wealth of additional details about Afghan culture, the hardships the author faced in furthering her career, and more about her life.

Do You Believe in Masking

DO YOU BELIEVE IN MASKING

sung to the tune of “Do you Believe in Magic” with apologies to The Lovin’ Spoonful.

Do you believe in masking? Please buy into this farce.

Of course pundits can sway you when they do their parts.

We’re all masking, if the stats are credible.

We’ll scare you with lies through a front that’s medical.

We leaders put the science in a black hole, because power and control are our real go-oals.

Do you believe in masking? Don’t believe our opponents.

Remember you’re poor, sick or a victim right at this moment.

You must listen– you must obey,

or you’ll get sick and die. Your fears are growing by the day.

You must cover your face. If you don’t know, how we got here: it’s for the presidential ra-ace.

If you believe in masking, come along with us. You’re clueless on biology, so don’t make a fuss.

And maybe, if our flawed reasoning wins, you’ll be ours on election day because you’ll forget our sins.

No more rights baby, then you’ll see– masking helps the power and we’re the powers that be, yeah…

Do you believe in masking, yeah; believe in the masking of a nation’s soul, believe in the masking — really power and control;

believe in the masking– you’re no longer free.

Ah, talking about the masking… like we… do you believe…

Hip to Be Scared

HIP TO BE SCARED

sung to the tune of “Hip to Be Square” with apologies to Huey Lewis and the News.

I used to be a hedonist, a social butterfly.

But I’m taking punishment, based upon a lie.

Now I’m obedient, and yes I wear a mask.

You think I’m gullible but I don’t even care.

‘Cause I discount the science.

It’s hip to be scared.

It’s hip to be scared.

I hear the experts on the news. I watch them on TV.

I’m staying at home most every day and not going out to eat.

They tell me I’ll spread disease unless I really care.

I don’t think I’m gullible. My emotions I have to share.

But there’s no denying that

it’s hip to be scared.

It’s hip to be scared.

It’s hip to be scared.

It’s hip to be scared.

I’d rather be six feet apart than six feet under every day.

If you don’t have a mask, I’ll go the other way.

I don’t go on the freeway. I know it’s not a lot of fun.

But personally I can’t fight it.

An apocalypse whose time has come.

Don’t tell me that I’m gullible. My emotions I must share.

Take it from me

it’s hip to be scared.

It’s hip to be scared.

It’s hip to be scared.

It’s hip to be scared.

What’s the Matter…

“Where the destruction will end depends only on what a small scientific elite and a generally apathetic public will advocate and tolerate.”

The above was said by Dr. Everett Koop and the theologian Francis Schaeffer in 1983, with regard to the abortion issue.

The Book of the Week is “What’s the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America” by Thomas Frank, published in 2004.

American politics in the last forty or so years can be described in one word: HYPOCRISY.

The author spent his formative years in Mission Hills, Kansas. While there, he realized that wealth and various nefarious activities go together– such as dishonesty, white-collar crime, marital infidelity, mean-spiritedness and hubris syndrome.

The author explained how Kansans were converted to the Republican party beginning in the Clinton era. President Bill Clinton aligned the country economically with the conservative Republican congressman Newt Gingrich, a far-right capitalist. Clinton signed an agreement on free trade, making the Democrat and Republican platforms largely indistinguishable, save two emotionally charged, never-to-be resolved issues: abortion and gun control.

Thus began the political trend: the “culture war” and the “backlash” that opened the floodgates for propagandists to scream loudly and repeatedly in a hysterical manner about non-issues to distract voters and increase media ratings. Hardly anything has changed since then.

The author named the most prominent conservative Republican rabble rousers (in no particular order): Sean Hannity, G. Gordon Liddy, Ann Coulter, Gary Aldrich, Laura Ingraham, David Brooks, Bill O’Reilly (remember him?) and Rush Limbaugh.

But in Kansas, even prior to the Clinton era, president Reagan distracted the unwashed masses with abortion and gun control so they wouldn’t care about the economic damage he did with his union-bashing.

In the early 1990’s, the Republican party in Kansas split into moderate and far-right Christian factions. In the 1994 mid-term elections, the latter won the hearts and minds of blue-collar Christian Democrats in Wichita.

In the late 1990’s, Kansas saw three corporate scandals; these from the utility companies formerly known as Western Resources, Missouri Public Service, and United Telecommunications. Each wanted to be pre-scandal Enron, as unbridled greed was all the rage in that unregulated time.

But take heart! In 1890, radicalized farmers had a “… revelation, a moment when an entire generation of ‘Kansas fools’ figure out that they’d been lied to all their lives. Whether it was Republicans or Democrats in charge, they believed, mainstream politics were a sham battle distracting the nation from its real problem of corporate capitalism.” Those farmers voted their “masters” (who happened to be Republican at the time) out of office.

At this very time in American history, voters can do it again. However, there are a range of problems involving voting. The following video covers those problems, and suggests a way to mitigate them starting at 17:00.

Read the book to learn: the intimate details of the culture war; the backlash; about a Kansan who named himself Pope in 1990 because he refused to recognize the one in power when Vatican II began; and people passionate about pushing the conservative Republican agenda who obviously aren’t doing it for the money.