Thinkerfromiowa's Blog

Conversation about a variety of subjects

Eleven Questions

Eleven Questions


Answers to Ten Hard Questions

Hello, everyone.

Before I begin, I MUST share something that I found on Daily Kos tonight (6/29/12). This is absolutely delicious.

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FRI JUN 29, 2012 AT 07:30 PM PDT

Texas Republicans express ‘regret’

for officially opposing critical thinking skills

Laura Clawson

Texas Republicans are saying that their 2012 platform’s opposition to “critical thinking skills” was a mistake—but that mistake is now the formal policy of the Republican Party of Texas until 2014.

The stated reasoning behind opposition to critical thinking skills was that such education programs “focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.” As Hunter described this logic:

Critical thinking, of course, is what allows a person to differentiate between fact and hokum. I will assume that this is the peeve being addressed by the party plank (which, as it turns out, doubles as a handy paddlin’ board). Differentiating between fact and hokum sounds all fine and good until it leads to questioning your elders. When elders spout hokum, now that needs to be properly respected. If your elders say the Loch Ness Monster is proof that evolution never happened and that Noah’s Ark was actually a hovercraft, you had better damn well not start using your newfound critical thinking skills on picking apart that. Believing something contrary to your parents counts as behavior modification only if the original behavior was a full-on brainwashing.”

 But don’t worry! Its inclusion in the formal platform of the Republican Party of Texas was all a mistake. As a party spokesman told TPM,

“[The chairman of the Education Subcommittee] indicated that it was an oversight of the committee, that the plank should not have included ‘critical thinking skills’ after ‘values clarification,'” Elam said. “And it was not the intent of the subcommittee to present a plank that would have indicated that the RPT in any way opposed the development of critical thinking skills.”

 Since they “regret” it, no harm, no foul, right? About that. Even if we take them at their word that this was in fact a mistake rather than just being something you regret when you get caught, and aside from the fact that this regretted mistake remains official party policy, it’s pretty damn clear that the party’s Education Subcommittee seriously discussed its opposition to critical thinking skills and included said opposition in some advanced drafts of its part of the platform. I think we can safely say Texas Republicans don’t support critical thinking skills, anyway.

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Now on with our regular business.

Back in May, someone posted an article on the Net about questions that we could ask the conservatives that we are unfortunate enough to know. They are good questions, but I am afraid that if anyone dared to actually ask them, they wouldn’t likely get any answers. So I decided to answer them for us all. Here they are.

10 Questions To Ask Your Favorite Conservative

May 6, 2012

By Wendy Gittleson

1. Why is it that when people hoard things, they are a scourge on society and when they hoard money, they are job creators? In fact, aren’t the people that buy things the true job creators?

You bet your life the purchasers are the TRUE job creators. It works this way: When someone needs something – a car, a refrigerator, a TV – they go to a store or dealership to make their purchase. So they go to Walmart, Target, or some such place. In the store, there are sales clerks, or “associates” who tell them about the product. When they are done shopping, they go to checkout, and a clerk handles the business transaction. In the meantime, a stocker puts a new unit on the shelf to replace the item just purchased. In addition, there are customer service people who are at their stations in case they are needed. So that means 5 or 6 people interact with the customer if needed. That’s 5 or 6 jobs.

It’s much the same in a car dealership. There is the salesman who discusses the car with the customer. There is also the credit manager who arranges the financing for the car. There are also 2 or possibly 3 shop people who prepare the car for the customer to drive off the lot. That’s 4 or 5 jobs.

But if anyone decides to sit on his money and not purchase that car or appliance, there are 9 – 11 jobs that are not filled because the workers are not needed.

So yes; it is the purchasing customers, not the money hoarders who are the REAL job creators.

2. Both the 10 Commandments and the Seven Deadly Sins have no mention of being gay or having abortions. Greed, though, seems to be a biggie. Why do conservatives seem to get that backwards?

Lack of smarts, mostly. Also, lack of convenience. It is quite inconvenient to see the Bible speak out against one of one’s favorite practices. That’s why they perform the age-old practice of transfer. They transfer their venom from a practice of theirs that is condemned in the Bible to another practice that is NOT condemned in that particular section or context.

Let’s take another example. The Sixth Commandment says, “Thou shalt not kill.” Christians LOVE to play the little mind game of “Should the word be ‘kill’ or ‘murder’?” Now, murder is defined as “the willful taking of a human life with malice aforethought.” Kill is defined as “the taking of a life.” Thus, by the “rational” thinking of conservatives and Evangelical Christians, abortion is murder and war and capital punishment are not.

But wait a minute. I just said that murder is defined as “the willful taking of a human life with malice aforethought.” What about war? Isn’t one of the goals of war to kill off the enemy in order to lessen his numbers? Last I heard, it was. Remember the big deal over the killing of Osama bin Laden? And you also take out some civilians while you’re at it; that is called “collateral damage.” So war definitely fills the definition of “murder.”

And what about capital punishment? When someone kills another person, do you just give him a kiss on the lips and a fare thee well? Heavens, NO! The perpetrator is arrested and charged with a capital crime with the ultimate penalty of death by whatever means. Is this the willful taking of a human life with malice aforethought? Yes it is. That is why the first-world countries have pretty much done away with capital punishment and gotten with life without parole, or something similar. Only backward, third-world countries like the United States still carry a form of capital punishment on their books.

3. At what point did getting sick become a moral failing?

Actually, about the time that Saint Ronnie, the Movie Star, sat in the White House. The concept of universal health care actually began with FDR. Remember him? He’s the guy who got the country moving again after the Great Depression. He created the New Deal, and universal health care was to be a part of the New Deal originally. But he put it on the back burner in order to get the rest of his program enacted. In the 60s, LBJ had entertained the idea of making UHC part of the Great Society. However, like, FDR, he put it on the back burner in order to get the remainder of his program enacted. LBJ DID give us Medicare and Medicaid, however.

The last noteworthy attempt to enact universal health coverage, before Barak Obama, was, of course, Bill Clinton. UHC was particularly a passion of his wife Hillary, now our Secretary of State. But everyone with a memory remembers how the Evangelical Christians vilified her, her passion, and her husband. So as a result, the Clintons had to abandon the idea of universal health care. And many of the reasons for the consersatives’ and Evangelicals’ vitriol point right back to Saint Ronnie.

So the idea that illness is a moral failing began in the early 1980s.

4. In what way are people who buy and sell paper making a more significant contribution to society than teachers, nurses, firefighters, police officers, mail carriers, artists, etc.?

They aren’t. Only they and their worshipers think they are.

In my case, there are four people who shaped my life and helped make me the man I am. They are Rev. Floyd Murphy, the little Irish pastor of my boyhood; Marie Cain and Gladys Smith, two of my high-school teachers who encouraged me in all that I did, including my decision to become a teacher; and Dr. Dorothy Box, my mentor when I was in college. Three teachers and a pastor. These people did not buy any paper, unless it was to write on. They also didn’t sell any paper in any way, shape, or form. What they sold me – or, rather, gave to me — was a passion, a dream, and an acquaintance with God. And to me, these four blessed people are far more important and worthy, than is any buyer and seller of paper, any politician, or any pundit in the media.

As the old saying goes, it all depends on whose ox is being gored. The dealers in paper are far more important to the 1%, and the teachers, firemen, pastors, and so on are far more important to the 99%.

5. When did the right to unlimited profit become greater than the general welfare of the people?

Again, I lay the blame for this at the feet of St. Ronnie. Up to and including Jimmy Carter, personhood and integrity counted for something in this country. That all changed under Reagan. And, incidentally, the Evangelicals all sneered at Carter – a man of true integrity and a true Christian – and embraced St. Ronnie, who never showed any traces of Christianity so far as I could find.

6. Why don’t people realize that there’s no such thing as a “self made man?” Even the most successful and ethical people can thank their parents, their teachers, their siblings, their employees, their customers, the government, their contractors, etc. Without them, they would be nothing. The unethical might want to work on their apologies.

The so-called “self-made man” is nothing more than a figment of the conservative imagination. In Question 4, I mentioned the pastor and three teachers who shaped my life. Anyone who is honest and legitimate can do the same thing. No one ever made it on his own throughout life. A person needs that first boss who is willing to give him that first job. He needs that classroom teacher to guide and instruct him. He needs that pastor, priest, or rabbi to introduce him to the realm of God. He needs that other person who is willing to say “I do” at the altar. But most of all, he needs Mom and Dad to teach him responsibility and how to fill his niche in the world. “Self-made man” is only a fictional creation, like Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

7. Why is physical labor less important than sitting behind a desk?

Because physical labor is seen as a symptom of lack of intellect.

But is it really? Not at all. If the guy on the assembly line doesn’t know what he is doing, the resultant product is nothing but a pile of material. If the auto mechanic doesn’t have a clue as to what he is doing, then you’re in deep trouble, pal. Sure, we have machinery that can lay railroad track, pave a road, print the daily paper, etc., but the machine can’t do it alone. The machine needs people who are off their duffs and on their feet to operate them, watch over them, and maintain them. If all of our workers held down desks, then society could not function. Without laborers and other workers who use their hands and feet instead of their butts, society would be chopping in tall cotton!

8. Why should people who inherit their money not pay taxes and people who earn their money be taxed at the highest rate?

Because a parasite known as Republican infests our government. Republicans and Evangelical Christians are champions of the wealthy – the 1% – while Democrats and Mainline Christians are champions of the little guy – the 99%. It’s as simple as that.

9. At what point did we start judging people based on the size of their checkbook rather than the size of the heart?

At the point when the second question that we ask a new acquaintance is “What do you do for a living?” That was when society started seeing a fat wallet as being far more important that integrity and a good character.

In my younger days, dads – especially Evangelical dads – did all that they could to keep me away from their little girls. They saw my poor eyesight leading to a skinny wallet, and they didn’t want their little frails to have to live with that. Finding a potential son-in-law who was going places was of far more importance than finding a son-in-law who would love, cherish, and treasure their daughters. Of course, if the “potential son-in-law” would knock up their little girls and then walk out on them, THEN the daddies would look for guys with integrity for their girls. But by then, it would be too late, because we good guys were no longer interested. After all, who wants to buy damaged goods?

So the moment when knowing a person’s occupation became all important was when we started judging people on the basis of their possessions.

10. How has being a conservative helped you?

Since I am not a conservative, I cannot answer that one.

Here are a couple of comments from the original website where I found the questions.


Matthew Simon Miller· San Francisco, California

LOVE this! Unfortunately, most of the conservatives I know just get very belligerent when they can’t win an argument.

Danielle Bernier· University of Maine

so true! Trying to have a conversation with my conservative brother is frustrating

These comments will lay the foundation for this question. I would like to propose an eleventh question, if I may.

11. Why are conservatives such sanctimonious assholes?

Sure, there are exceptions to that rule. The little white clapboard Nazarene Church with the little Irish pastor of my boyhood and the neat, intellectual Nazarene Church that I attended while in graduate school are two of them. So is the Baptist Church that Carol and I attended and were married in. But they are indeed exceptions. The evangelical / conservative world that I knew and habituated was full of vicious, unpredictable, and bigoted people.

An absolutely glorious illustration of this mindset appears in Allen Drury’s political novel Advise and Consent. There are two senators, Brig and Fred. The whole Senate loves Brig as much as it despises Fred. The Senate is occupied with the nomination for a Secretary of State. Fred wants him confirmed. Brig has his doubts. In his younger days, Brig has an encounter with another young man. Someone sends Fred a picture of them together. When Fred meets Brig in the halls of the Capitol, he greets Brig with “You poor bastard!” Brig responds, “What on earth is your problem, Fred? Don’t you have it in you to be nice?”

And that is exactly the point. Don’t conservatives and Evangelicals have it in themselves to be kind and nice? I truly don’t believe that they do.

On a website which discussed the Libertarian view of Obamacare, there was this paragraph:

This is what a sociopath looks like. In the 19th century, the same principle was expressed when Dickens wrote “Let them die, and decrease the surplus population.” Yes, people still believe this, especially those who also claim to be Christians.”

I saw the Dickens edict stated and restated countless times on conservative websites. I do not visit Evangelical Christian sites, but I would not be surprised if it was stated there as well.

I have mentioned countless times in Solus Christus the hell I went through when I lost my beloved Carol. When I got the phone call telling me that she had died, 13 hours after I had walked out of her room for the last time, I went to pieces. I sent an e-mail to her family, who are virtually all strong conservative Evangelical Christians, asking that they not e-mail me with the usual Christian cliches until I had had time to process her sudden death. A few days later, I sent another e-mail saying that I had come to terms with losing Carol, and that I would welcome any and all messages. Wait a minute; you’re way ahead of me. But you’re right – not a single word from anyone. A few months after her memorial service, her sister Ginny sent a message to the family saying that I was having a rough time and that I would appreciate people letting me know that they were thinking of me and saying that they were in my corner. Right again. Not a single word. And that was over 4 years ago!

I send the Solus Christus diaries to a guy who knew Carol and me out in California. He wrote me one time and said that he didn’t respond because he didn’t know how to interact with the “New Bill.” Others – the Christians in the group – simply unsubscribed from the group when the shoes begin to pinch their toes. In the church world, those behaviors are defined as “shunning.” But I’m OK with that. They don’t have to read my musings. They can delete them every time that they show up in the inbox. Conversely, I have no reason to buy into the bill of goods that they may want to sell me.

So I would simply echo Brigham Anderson’s question: Don’t you have it in you to be nice? And I would pose it to the conservative world at large.

Psalm 34:8 makes a fabulous statement: It says in the New International Version(©1984)

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.

Why did the psalmist put that statement in those terms? I have no idea except this one. He was familiar with the fact that our taste buds govern our opinions about food and that we humans savor and enjoy a meal when the food is delicious. He then tries to convey the same idea in terms of our relationship with God. In other words, if we enjoy a nice, juicy, tender steak because it is delicious, then we should enjoy God because he is delicious in a spiritual way. The psalmist stated it very well, in my book.

I have tasted and seen that God is good. I no longer believe in the hairy, unkempt, uncouth, Jesus, but I have a very strong belief in God. And I guess that that is why I am not surprised that the followers of “Jesus” do not have that capability of being nice that I have found in the Mainline church and its parishioners. You see, the Mainline focus is on God. When I was involved in the Lay Witness Mission movement 40 years ago, we never talked about “Jesus” when we visited a church. We always talked about God and what he had done for us. And the host church and its people always appreciated that. Indeed, many times I had people tell me that they had had enough “Jesus” to last them 20 eternities, and that it was so neat to go to church and hear about GOD for once. At the end of each weekend, they had tasted and seen that The Lord – God – was indeed good.

And so I firmly believe that it is indeed God who gives us the ability to be nice. And speaking for myself, I can say that it is far easier and more fun to be nice than to be a conservative or an Evangelical.

You all have a great day both today and tomorrow.



September 18, 2012 - Posted by | Miscellaneous, Politics, Religion, Uncategorized | ,

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