Tag Archives: militia movement

“The Coexistence of Normality and Bottomless Cruelty” Timothy McVeigh and the Terrorist Next Door

murrah bombing

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Just a short note to close out the work week. Amid all the political drama surrounding President Trump, James Comey, and the release of the Comey memos this week, one thing that was overlooked by most people was the anniversary of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in 1995.

I don’t think that I could ever forget the day. I was working as a hospital ER department chaplain where I worked a 3:00-11:00 shift and usually didn’t get to bed until one or two in the morning. I was also a Chaplain in the Army National Guard. Not long after I got up I turned on the news and was drinking my coffee when the news about the bombing flashed across the screen. I was stunned, especially when I found out that the bombers were Americans, and both former soldiers. I could not imagine American soldiers turning their hatred agains the government into an act of terrorism.

They killed 168 people, including babies and young children in the day care center were killed, hundreds of others wounded. McVeigh and Nichols were part of the anti-government so-called “militia” movement that still exists in parts of this country, of which the Bundy family, which occupied a Federal Wildlife Sanctuary in 2016 in order to bring about a revolt against the government is part.

Sadly, there are such people who would do the same today if given the chance. As this attack shows, most of them are not Islamic terrorists, but some are plain old Americans, people you might see in the grocery store or at the gas station. Some belong to the White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi Alt-Right, others to heavily armed self-appointed “militia” groups, and still others simply deluded followers of conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones. Members of all of these groups or movements have committed violent acts or have been stopped from doing so by the work of the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

What is scary is that almost all of them repeat the same words, thoughts and ideology that McVeigh wrote about before and after the attack. In the end McVeigh rationalized his violence and defended his actions, never showing any hint of remorse for his victims, they were simply collateral damage, and the children he killed, a distraction from his message. Those that interviewed him said that he seemed completely normal and it was hard for them to reconcile his normalcy with what he did and his attitude toward his victims.

Reading his words and what others observed about him reminded me of what the Israeli court psychologist who interviewed Adolf Eichmann noted about Eichmann. Hannah Arendt recounted it:

“The Israeli court psychiatrist who examined Eichmann found him a “completely normal man, more normal, at any rate, than I am after examining him,” the implication being that the coexistence of normality and bottomless cruelty explodes our ordinary conceptions and present the true enigma of the trial.” 

I find it sad to see others like McVeigh doing their damnedest to impugn the character, honor and work of the men and women of the FBI. Unfortunately they have found a friend in President Trump who impugns the honor, decency, and loyalty of the FBI, members of the Justice Department, and Federal Judges; not to mention his political enemies and the free press.

So let’s never forget the events of that terrible morning and remember that to paraphrase Arendt using McVeigh instead of Eichmann:

The trouble with McVeigh was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted or sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. 

Until tomorrow.

Peace

Padre Steve+

1 Comment

Filed under crime, History, News and current events, Political Commentary, terrorism

Trump and His Supporters Real Threats of Revolution and Violence

1-_bgnufl7adzwkz99mhydma

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

The great American philosopher Eric Hoffer wrote:

“Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying agents. It pulls and whirls the individual away from his own self, makes him oblivious of his weal and future, frees him of jealousies and self-seeking. He becomes an anonymous particle quivering with a craving to fuse and coalesce with his like into one flaming mass.” 

I have been seeing questions asked about why so many of Donald Trump’s supporters are doubling down on their support of him as he melts down and declares war on his own the Republican Party. I think that too many people simply ascribe this to frustration with the status quo but I think that there is more to it than that. Quite frankly Trump has appealed to the basest instincts of many of his supporters: he appeals to their fear, their racism, sexism, xenophobia, anti-Gay feelings, their feelings of powerlessness against real and imagined elites, and the fantasy world of conspiracy theories that have been promoted by right wing talkers, preachers, and media outlets for over two decades. He promises to make them important again, to make their twisted version of the Christian faith the law of the land, to bring retribution to their “enemies” to deport those not like them, and to ban others from coming into the country. He appeals to their desire for an authoritarian leader who will solve their problems without the niceties of acting in accordance with the Constitution or law.

Donald Trump supporter Birgitt Peterson of Yorkville, Ill., argues with protesters outside the UIC Pavilion after the cancelled rally for the Republican presidential candidate in Chicago on Friday, March 11, 2016. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)

His message is quite simply, to use these factors to stoke anger, hatred and rage against real and imagined devils. Hoffer noted: “Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil. Usually the strength of a mass movement is proportionate to the vividness and tangibility of its devil.” For many Trump supporters that “devil” is Hillary Clinton, Trump actually called her that during debate on Sunday night and claimed that she had a “very dark heart.” For some of his other followers it is Barak Obama, and to a growing number of his followers, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and other GOP leaders who have denounced Trump or who have failed to endorse him. Hoffer wrote:

“It seems that, like the ideal deity, the ideal devil is one. We have it from Hitler—the foremost authority on devils—that the genius of a great leader consists in concentrating all hatred on a single foe, making “even adversaries far removed from one another seem to belong to a single category.” When Hitler picked the Jew as his devil, he peopled practically the whole world outside Germany with Jews or those who worked for them. “Behind England stands Israel, and behind France, and behind the United States.”

In place of any detailed policy, instead of a message of hope to Trump threatens and cajoles and his supporters, of whom he said during the Iowa Caucus campaign “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

Richard Evans in his book The Coming of the Third Reich discussed one of Hitler’s first speeches after coming to power.

“As so often in his career, Hitler, beginning slowly and quietly so as to secure the rapt attention of his enormous audience, went over the history of the Nazi Party and the alleged crimes of the Weimar Republic since 1919—the inflation, the impoverishment of the peasantry, the rise of unemployment, the ruin of the nation. What would his government do to change this parlous situation? His answer avoided any specific commitments at all. He said grandly that he was not going to make any ‘cheap promises’. Instead, he declared that his programme was to rebuild the German nation without foreign aid, ‘according to eternal laws valid for all time’, on the basis of the people and the soil, not according to ideas of class. Once more, he held up the intoxicating vision of a Germany united in a new society that would overcome the divisions of class and creed that had racked it over the past fourteen years. The workers, he declared, would be freed from the alien ideology of Marxism and led back to the national community of the entire German race. This was a ‘programme of national resurrection in all areas of life.’” 

1-rtx211ir

One thing you can say about Trump is that he understands his hard core supporters. Time and time again he has said and done things that would have left a normal candidate in a normal campaign sitting out the election at home, but instead his hardcore supporters, the people who now proudly call themselves “the Deplorables” respond to his threats to jail Hillary Clinton, to abandon and overthrow the GOP leadership, and his other invectives with an eagerness not seen in an electorate since Adolf Hitler’s mesmerized supporters screamed “Sieg Heil!” at Nazi Party rallies. The cult like devotion of his base is unlike anything ever seen in American politics. After two of his supporters beat a homeless man with a metal pole and urinated on him following a speech in which Trump called Mexicans “Rapists and drug dealers” Trump responded: “I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country, they want this country to be great again.”  

milogun

When his supporters roughed up opponents at Trump rallies he said: “Knock the crap out of them, would you?” and “In the good ol’ days, they’d have knocked him out of his seat so fast,” and offered to pay their legal fees. He encourages supporters to shout down the media at his events, calls out people who might be different than his supporters as he did when he asked non-Christians to identify themselves at a rally and asked his supporters if they should be allowed to stay in the room. This week he suggested that his followers go to heavily minority and Democratic precincts to “monitor” the vote. In open carry states that could well lead to his armed supporters loitering near polling places intimidating voters just as Hitler’s Brownshirts policed polling places in the elections leading to Hitler’s accession to power and the few votes held until he abolished opposition parties. Below is an image of armed S.A. Brownshirts outside a polling station on March 5th 1933, the final election for the Reichstag. 


  

160718-trump-supporters-guns-11

This monster is something that will not go away even if Trump loses. Some of his supporters call for violent revolution if Clinton wins, but they wouldn’t be the first. Trump himself used twitter to call for revolution when President Obama defeated Mitt Romney on November 7th 2012. These calls for revolution and the blessing of extrajudicial violence against political enemies and minority groups have to be taken for real, especially with the rise of heavily armed so-called militia groups, as well as neo-Nazi, KKK, and other White Nationalist groups which live in a cloud-cuckoo land of conspiracy laden paranoia, and dualism.

This my friends is not normal or rational behavior for any Presidential candidate or campaign. I don’t think that I’m overly dramatic at this point. We have not seen the worst of this campaign.

Have a good night. Until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+

1 Comment

Filed under History, nazi germany, News and current events, Political Commentary

Never Forget: The Murrah Federal Building Bombing of 1995

murrah bombing

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Just a short note for today. Amid all the political drama associated with the Republican and Democratic primaries this week, one thing that was overlooked by most people was the anniversary of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in 1995.

I don’t think that I could ever forget the day. I was working as a hospital ER department chaplain where I worked a 3:00-11:00 shift. Having just got up I turned on the news and was drinking my coffee when the news about the bombing flashed across the screen. I was stunned, especially when I found out that the bombers were Americans, and both former soldiers.

168 people, including babies and young children in the day care center were killed, hundreds of others wounded. McVeigh and Nichols were part of the anti-government so-called “militia” movement that still exists in parts of this country, of which the Bundy family, which occupied a Federal Wildlife Sanctuary earlier this year in order to bring about a revolt against the government is part.

Sadly, there are such people who would do the same today if given the chance, and as this attack shows, they are not all Islamic terrorists, but some are plain old Americans, people you might see in the grocery store or the gas station.

So let’s never forget.

Peace

Padre Steve+

1 Comment

Filed under History, News and current events, Political Commentary, terrorism

Insurrection in Oregon

burns-protest-41aa8aa12b9a6593

Ammon Bundy (Photo the Oregonian) 

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

It is seldom now that I get this spun up, but I have had it with violent conspiracy theorists using the cover of patriotism to mount an insurrection. Let’s be honest and call what is happening in Oregon what it is. It is armed insurrection and terrorism being perpetrated by extreme right wing, pseudo-Christian, white supremacists, and neo-Nazis. The list of extreme supporters has exploded on the Internet today, and frankly if you actually bother to read something about them even their own materials, they are a violent and dangerous bunch.

Led by Cliven Bundy’s sons Ammon, and Ryan Bundy, and former Army sergeant Ryan Payne who threatened to kill Federal agents during the standoff at the Bundy Ranch in 2014, these people are a threat, not just to society in general, but to the causes that they purport to support. Payne fits the profile of a sociopath and is a bona-fide conspiracy theorist.

The Missoula News profiled Payne and the Bundys in a very detailed article in June of 2014. They noted of Payne:

Payne came to believe the latter, that the government uses regulations to deliberately undermine the average American, “that they are purposely destroying industry, they are purposely taking this land from people.” The more he looked, the more he saw a deliberate and nefarious plan being orchestrated by a small number of people wielding enormous power. He saw a pervasive conspiracy to control all aspects of the media, the financial system, the entertainment industry, the military and the government.

More specifically, he came to believe that slavery never really existed in the United States and that African Americans in the antebellum South “didn’t view themselves as slaves.” He came to believe in “an effort by some Jews to control the world.” He came to believe the founders of the United States intended for the states to act as sovereign countries. He came to believe taxes are a form of “legal plunder.” He came to believe names are spelled in all-caps on driver’s licenses because U.S. citizens are actually “corporate entities.” He came to believe U.S. courts are actually foreign admiralty courts. He came to believe that “in most states you have the lawful authority to kill a police officer that is unlawfully trying to arrest you.” He came to believe when a newborn child’s footprint is made on a birth certificate, that child is effectively entering a life of servitude to the U.S. government, which borrows money from China based on that child’s estimated lifetime earning potential. (The article can be viewed in its entirety here http://missoulanews.bigskypress.com/missoula/freedom-fighter/Content?oid=2054145 )

The Bundy’s and Payne came uninvited to Burns Oregon, and trampled on the desires of the people in that town who were conducting peaceful protests the day that they went out and seized by force the administrative building of the U.S. Forrest Service in one of the oldest national wildlife preserves in the nation.

Map locates Burns, Oregon, where protestors occupied a national wildlife refuge building; 1c x 2 1/2 inches; 46.5 mm x 63 mm;

Since the takeover, neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, as well as other anti-government and anti-liberty groups are taking up their cause. The leader of anti-Muslim protests that have targets Mosques in many cities, Jon Ritzheimer, has called on his followers to take up arms and fight alongside the Bundy clan, Payne and their confederates.

Ritzheimer, a former Marine, whose anti-Muslim acts have given him plenty of headlines, has been spoiling for a fight for a long time. He wrote, “I am 100 percent willing to lay my life down to defend against tyranny in this country… We need real men here… Americans who have the intestinal fortitude to come here and take a stand and say enough is enough…. To my family, just know that I stood for something. Don’t let it be in vain. I love you.”

The leader of this rag tag bunch of pseudo-patriots, Ammon Bundy posted this on his Facebook page:

“We have basically taken over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. And this will become a base place for patriots from all over the country to come and be housed here and to live here. And we’re planning on staying here for several years.” Bundy called his band the “the point of the spear,” and called other like-minded extremist thugs to “bring your arms.”

Of course Bundy’s brother Ryan, in a statement to the Oregonian clothed the militant’s aims as being constitutional. “The best possible outcome is that the ranchers that have been kicked out of the area… will come back and reclaim their land, and the wildlife refuge will be shut down forever and the federal government will relinquish such control.”

But that is a lie, none of the ranchers have been kicked out, in fact none ever owned any part of the land. The land federal lands that the Bundys and their compatriots argue should be “returned” to the local, overwhelmingly white population were once part of a reservation established by President Ulysses S. Grant for the Northern Paiute, an American Indian tribe. That tribe now is located on a smaller reservation north of Burns.

But, since 1908 the Malheur Wildlife Refuge has been Federal government property when President Theodore Roosevelt set aside unclaimed government lands encompassed by Malheur, Mud and Harney Lakes as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds. He did this because of the encroachment of feather merchants who were sending hunters into the area and wiping out the wild bird populations. The newly established Lake Malheur Reservation was the 19th of 51 wildlife refuges created by Roosevelt during his tenure as president. At the time, Malheur was the third refuge in Oregon and one of only six refuges west of the Mississippi.

The land never was and never has been the property of any ranchers. The arguments of the Bundy’s and their confederates have nothing to do with truth; they are a smokescreen to further a goal of attempting to destroy any semblance of government control in such areas and give it to people who have no claim, by right or ownership.

The mainstream corporate media is not challenging the lie of the Bundy’s and their supporters. None of the major networks has yet to call this exactly what it is, insurrection, sedition, and terrorism. Instead it is called a protest, or occupation. But you can be sure had the Bundy clan been a Muslim group, or other American minority group, including Native Americans, they would be calling them criminals, trespassers, and dare I say, terrorists. It is a double standard, if one is white, and claims to be a patriot; they go unchallenged by the mainstream media. You would think that they were Girl Scouts protesting because they could not sell cookies.

There are laws, long standing ones at that that deal with this kind of thuggery. The big one is the Insurrection Act of 1807 under which:

“The President, by using the militia or the armed forces, or both, or by any other means, shall take such measures as he considers necessary to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy, if it— so hinders the execution of the laws of that State, and of the United States within the State, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law, and the constituted authorities of that State are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection; or opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.”

It is my opinion since this is land and property under Federal jurisdiction in the State of Oregon that the President should activate the Oregon National Guard (the actual legal militia) to work with other Federal law enforcement agencies to end this insurrection. I personally think that surrounding them with real military forces and cutting off power, fuel, food, and water to the Bundy Clan will end this. It should not have to come to violence, unless a sociopath conspiracy theorist like Ryan Payne decides to open fire on men and women who wear the uniform that he once wore.

These people are deranged and dangerous. Ryan Bundy said, they are “willing to kill and be killed if necessary.” These men are not conservatives or even libertarians, and they are certainly not patriots. They are extremist revolutionaries who are delusional and believe the most unbelievable conspiracy theories.

This has to be ended, hopefully peacefully, and these people sent home and their leaders to prison in disgrace. However, the inflammatory statements of the Bundy’s, Payne, and Ritzenheimer are setting the stage for potential violence. The only thing that I can think is that want this to foment a wider revolt of armed militia groups against the government and that they may even be willing to become martyrs, like the Islamic Jihadists of Al Qaeda and DAESH have been doing for some time now. Honestly I see little difference between any of these people.

Like I said, I seldom get really spun up by something, but what is happening in Oregon is dangerous and could get a lot of people killed. If people believe that Bureau of Land Management policies need to be changed, they should use the legislative process or make court challenges. There is no place for armed bands of people attempting force their will on the rest of the population when they are the only ones who will benefit from such an action.

I mentioned yesterday that there would be a crisis every day of the year, well, welcome to the first of many, and I haven’t even mentioned the twin crises brewing between Saudi Arabia and Iran, or India and Pakistan. But that can be dealt with another time.

Peace

Padre Steve+

17 Comments

Filed under civil rights, History, laws and legislation, News and current events, Political Commentary

Schadenfreude: Who Doesn’t Love the Exposure of Unrepentant Racists?

la-ed-rancher-cliven-bundy-grazing-federal-lan-001

Note to readers: It has been a while since I waded into the morass that is American politics of 2014 but I need to get my two cents in for what it is worth. My long time readers know my background, my newer readers may not. If you are a new reader take a look on my civil rights section to see what I believe about racist attitudes and actions. 

I am amazed. Freeloading rancher and welfare prince Cliven Bundy flat out demonstrated that he is an unrepentant racist who would have just loved the Ante-Bellum days before the Civil War when “good blacks” were happy as clams to be slaves. Now Bundy who managed to call together every form of anti-government, anti-Federal Government and just plain wacko racist militia type to his side in his fight to avoid paying over a million dollars in back taxes shows his real hand.

Not that he hadn’t before. Heck, even Glenn Beck was a voice of sanity compared to Sean Hannity in the build up to this fiasco, but Bundy’s own words showed that he is for all practical purposes an unrepentant racist, secessionist freeloader who only cares about himself. The 68 year old “rancher” who for use of lands that he does not own and is making money on made incredibly stupid comments that not only showed his racism, but also his historical ignorance.

Bundy’s comments were so full of irony. Bundy has been making money by grazing his cattle for free on land that he does not own and not paid taxes and fees initially approved by the Reagan administration. So in one of his daily “news conferences” he went on the attack to condemn poor blacks on various forms of Federal assistance. It was the Pot calling the Kettle “Black,” or maybe better calling the Kettle “Negro.”

It was a wondrous thing to behold as all sorts of right wing politicians, pundits and preachers had to back track from their support of Bundy. Frankly I loved it. To me Bundy is no hero, no patriot or anything of the sort. He is a wealthy man who has lied his way to fame in order to embarrass that “Negro” in the White House.

Lies lies and lies….Bundy claimed that his family has been grazing his cattle on the land since before the Federal Government owned it, actually since the late 1800s. Funny thing is that according to court and real estate records Bundy’s family didn’t even purchase the land where there ranch is until 1948. Those nasty legal documents always get in the way of lies… but I digress…

You see Bundy is no hero, he is no patriot. In fact he is little different from Edmund Ruffin, the secessionist leader who fired the first shot at Fort Sumter back in 1861 or Alexander Stephens the Vice President of the Confederate States of America who said in his “Cornerstone Speech” of 1861:

“Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race — is his natural and normal condition….”

Based on what Bundy has said I have no doubt that he would wholeheartedly agree with Stephens. The people supporting Bundy include “true believers” like the heavily armed militiamen protecting him who long for bloodshed in order to create martyrs for their cause and their media allies. The militia types are quite interesting because many are either blatantly racist or affiliated in some way with White Separatist, Neo Nazi or Neo Confederate groups all itching for a bloody battle with the Federal Government that it is scary to comprehend.

Likewise there are others who have been deceived by the constant fear mongering of men like Sean Hannity into thinking the Federal Government they have a say in electing is their enemy who fell for Bundy’s outrageous lies hook line and sinker. Thus when men like Bundy reveal in excruciating and painful detail just who they really are I like it.

Donald-Sterling

Then there is the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers Basketball team who makes big money off of the efforts of some really outstanding African-American basketball players. The owner, Donald Sterling told his girlfriend that he doesn’t want her hanging out with blacks or having her picture taken with them, including men like Magic Johnson. I don’t have to mention but will that Sterling had to pay a lot of money to settle previous discrimination complaints and lawsuits, all of which had substantial racial overtones.

I like it because there is a cottage industry of right wing myth makers who like to say that there is no such thing as racism, that it it is a thing of the past or even that it is a product of liberals, liberalism or even the Civil Rights movement. When guys like Bundy or Sterling betray their lies it gives me a certain sense of schadenfreude. When I see college dropout Sean Hannity have to run for cover and condemn men like Bundy that he has helped to build up it really makes me happy.

The fact is that many Americans love the myth that racism no longer exists and that what is left is simply a fabrication of the “liberal media.” If that was true why would there need to be such concerted efforts to roll back civil rights and voting rights to disenfranchise African Americans, Hispanics and poor whites? Why would there be such a concerted media campaign to demonize minorities, women, the poor and yes even Moslems and gays?

If there wasn’t a big streak of racism, sexism, and other prejudice and discrimination still why would the pundits, politicians and preachers be working to hard to disprove it? Why would a political-media and even religious cottage industry be working overtime with lobbyists who support the most wealth people in the country in their quest to disenfranchise the bulk of Americans, even those who are their unwitting foot soldiers?

The fact is and I hate to admit it, but many attitudes haven’t changed that much since the days of Edmund Ruffin and Alexander Stephens, they have just become more suave and savvy. But every once in a while idiots like Bundy and Sterling show up and remind us that this is still all too real and that my friends as distasteful as it is, is a good thing. We like our racism and other prejudices hidden and unspoken so they don’t embarrass us.

kgrhqfqefgdotlsbqojfqwe0w60_57

Baseball hero Jackie Robinson was a Republican. But in 1964 he found that the party of Lincoln was no more. After the 1964 Republican Convention where he supported Nelson Rockefeller he wrote:

“I wasn’t altogether caught of guard by the victory of the reactionary forces in the Republican party, but I was appalled by the tactics they used to stifle their liberal opposition.  I was a special delegate to the convention through an arrangement made by the Rockefeller office. That convention was one of the most unforgettable and frightening experiences of my life. The hatred I saw was unique to me because it was hatred directed against a white man.  It embodied a revulsion for all he stood for, including his enlightened attitude toward black people.

A new breed of Republicans had taken over the GOP.  As I watched this steamroller operation in San Francisco, I had a better understanding of how it must have felt to be a Jew in Hitler’s Germany….”

Robinson was right even though most people didn’t realize it at the time. The Republican Party of today is not the party of Lincoln, it is the party of Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens. As distasteful as the Bundy affair has been and will unfortunately continue to be, it does allow us as individuals and a society to look in the mirror and reevaluate who we are as Americans.

Personally I would rather stand with Jackie Robinson than men like Bundy, Sterling or Hannity.

Anyway, that’s all for tonight. Another Gettysburg article tomorrow unless I get derailed.

Peace

Padre Steve+

1 Comment

Filed under civil rights, History, News and current events, Political Commentary

Oh Lord Stuck in Lodi Again….Gordon Klingenschmitt does Lodi

gjkGordon Klingenschmitt after his Court-Martial Conviction (Virgina Pilot Photo)

Just about a year ago, I set out on the road,
Seekin’ my fame and fortune, lookin’ for a pot of gold.
Things got bad, and things got worse, I guess you will know the tune.
Oh ! Lord, Stuck in Lodi again.

“O Lord Stuck in Lodi Again” Credence Clearwater Revival, words and music by John Fogarty

Failed Navy Chaplain defrocked Evangelical Episcopal Priest, Convicted Criminal, Right Wing D-Lister and narcissistic professional protester Gordon James “Chaps” Klingenschmitt pops up in the most unlikely of places.   If it was not pathetic it would be really funny.

The reason that I write this today is irony of  Gordon getting stuck in Lodi and the my relationship to Lodi.  You see Gordon showed up at yet another protest in a small town to battle a city council about people praying “in Jesus Name” as part of official city events such as city council meetings.  The city is Lodi California, just up the road from where I went to junior and senior high school, where I got my one high school football tackle in a real game and where my dad is finishing his days in a nursing home going through the ravages of end-stage Alzheimer’s disease.  Lodi is a small town, with historic German and Italian communities which is famous for wines and sits in the heart of the San Joaquin valley.  It is the home of the very popular Lodi Grape Festival. It was a pretty conservative town; well let’s say it used to be a town that had strong ties to the John Birch Society and other ultra-conservative organizations.  It was not very welcoming to outsiders and minorities.  Well times are changing in Lodi.  It mow has significant Hispanic and Asian populations as well as other minorities including Moslems.  Lately tension has been building and once again a battle is going on about faith in the public square.

nuke the whales

Now I’m an easy guy.  I really don’t get offended by anyone praying in whatever name they choose to do so as long as they are respectful of others and don’t try to use the government to promote or enforce their particular religious views on others.  Unfortunately this happens all of the time and people who do it world-wide to be on the more evangelical and fundamental wings of their religion.  Personally  I wish the climate were such that anyone of any faith could pray in whatever name that they chose to do without everyone  getting their BVD’s in a wad.

opus & krishna

Until the advent of the Moral Majority and other conservative Christian political-social activist groups there was an understanding in the United States of getting along in the public square.  Protestant-Catholic-Jew we were all Americans.  Only groups such as the Ku Klux Klan had problems with this.  Our tolerance extended to others who came to this country as immigrants resulting in what was called the “Melting Pot.”  We were an amazing society and our ability to have people of widely differing religious and political beliefs living together in peace was the envy of the rest of the world.

Our societal demographics have changed.  Minority populations have increased and with them a corresponding increase of religions which were not part of the historical “Protestant-Catholic-Jew” paradigm of American religious and cultural life.  This has brought about a clash between the more conservative and fundamental Christians who see this as a threat to the United States being a “Christian Nation” and undercutting its historical and cultural foundation.  My purpose here is not to argue that at all.  I can see the positive benefits of and want to maintain the underlying western cultural foundation of our country. At the same time I want others to enjoy the right to practice their own religion freely and not have individuals of any religion use the government to enforce their religious or non-religious beliefs on others.  I think what made us such a great country was our ability work through these things peacefully.  The greatest example in my mind of religious people working together were the “Four Chaplains” of the troopship Dorchester when it was torpedoed by a German U-Boat in 1943. There were two Protestants, a Catholic Priest and a Jewish Rabbi on the ship.  At the time most Protestants either did not believe Catholics to be Christians and saw them as an Alien and possibly hostile religion. Catholics had not yet admitted that Protestants were “separated brethren” and Jews where just kind of tolerated.   When the ship was torpedoed and began to sink there were not enough life jackets.  So the chaplains gave theirs to soldiers in need and were last seen praying with arms linked as the ship went down.  Such actions as this are what made our country great.  We need men and women like the Four Chaplains and not Gordon “Chaps” Klingenschmitt.  On a side note to this you can call me a heretic but I doubt that God is sending any one of these men to hell because they did not fit somebody’s theology of how someone is saved when they died doing what Jesus said: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NIV)  I think anyone who has served in combat understands this better than people who enjoy the fruit of liberty without ever having paid more than taxes for it.

four chaplainsThe Four Chaplains

I have served in an ecumenical setting with a wide variety of ministers for almost twenty years.  In the setting that I work mutual respect of each other as clergy, respect and toleration of differing views are essential to ensuring that those who serve together in war are not trying to kill each other in peace.  For the most part we do this pretty well and it is a joy to serve with clergy from different faiths and care for God’s people regardless of their faith.  I heard the story of a man who is a bishop in his church who when he was in Navy basic training received a phone call from his mother at the administrative office.  While talking to her she died.  He credits a Jewish Chaplain with caring for him and helping him through that difficult time.  When my dad was deployed to Vietnam and I had a Sunday school teacher tell me that he was a “baby killer” it was a Roman Catholic Navy Chaplain that cared for me and my family and helped me not give up my faith and a Latter Day Saint (Mormon) Chaplain who ensured that I didn’t get thrown out of the Army in Chaplain School due to my big mouth and temper.  In none of these cases did the clergyman attempt to use the opportunity of crisis to convert us or to denigrate our faith.  Unfortunately this is what Gordon did in his Navy career and other like him do in whatever environment the live and serve.

What I see happening today is that the extremes, be they religious fundamentalists or all varieties, strident secularists or aggressive atheists all want the government to enforce their beliefs on everyone else. Such is a recipe for disaster.  One only has to look to Nazi Germany, Theocratic Iran, Saudi Arabia, the former Yugoslavia and the ex-Soviet Union and post invasion Iraq to see what happens when one group or another chooses to use the government or violence to enforce or propagate their religious, political, social or racial beliefs on others.  Having been to the Balkans and Iraq I have seen the results of this.  If you go to the Rhine River Valley in Germany you can still see the ruins of castles destroyed during the 30 years war, a war based on governments using religion or region using government to enforce their will on others.  We are now seeing a rise in private militia groups and others who are arming themselves for conflict.  Likewise there are those stoking the fire by urging secession or even revolt and these include people who call themselves Christians.  A current of discontent kind of like the toxic sludge under New York in Ghostbusters II is bubbling under our feet and is now beginning to burst to the surface as people from the left and right clash at their Congressional representative’s town hall meetings.  The fact that these are turning violent means that we are crossing a line that we may not be able to turn back from.  Voices of moderation and those seeking compromise, accommodation and tolerance are being drowned out, just as they were in Wiemar Germany when Nazis and Communists battled in the streets and attempted to take over the power of government.

Now I do see how people can feel threatened when there is rapid sociological and demographic change in a country.  So in some ways I can understand why people are protesting in Lodi.  My problem is that the leaders of this “movement” are fringe players using fear to fan the flames of their cause.  This is the case with Klingenschmitt who has routinely obfuscated, distorted and spun things to promote a fiction that he has been persecuted for his beliefs when in fact he was constantly using his public office to promote himself, his personal (not even his church’s) beliefs and denigrate those of others while giving lip service to toleration.  Since being convicted by court-martial, not for “praying in Jesus Name” but for disobeying a lawful order not to speak at a partisan political event, Klingenschmitt has constantly painted himself as a victim of persecution and spokesman for a movement. In doing so he has engaged in character assassination of former commanding officers and command chaplains and launched a campaign of “imprecatory prayer” (prayers of harm and judgment) upon his opponents.  I am sure that he has significant financial benefactors who make these possible; benefactors who share his goals of a Christian theocracy among them the Ultra-conservative “News” site World Net Daily.

The irony and sadness of Gordon’s trip to Lodi is that like the character in the song Oh Lord, Stuck in Lodi Again he is stuck and will unfortunately pursue this until he destroys himself, his families and others.  Unfortunately, Gordon and those like him as well as his opposites on the extreme left are leading us to destruction as a society unless the moderate majority that wants to live in peace begins to stand up before it is too late. God help us all and bless our Great Country.

Peace, Steve+

Leave a comment

Filed under History, Lies of World Net Daily, Loose thoughts and musings, philosophy, Religion

Pondering the Imponderables of National Security Leaks and Condiments

There are times when try as we might the deepest secrets of national security are made know.  Such was the case last week when the wife of Britain’s MI-16 spy service posted photos of the reclusive spymaster in his Speedo on a beach on her Facebook.com page.  Needless to say it is not good when every potential and enemy sees their enemy in such a revealing garment which most men who are not young good looking world class swimmers should never be seen in public in.  So the dear wife of the British spymaster has blown his cover in a big way.  Now Al Qaida will be staking out Brighton Beach or the French Riviera for a chance to schwack him, or at least give him an atomic wedgie as they no longer need simply to see his face but now know what the rest of his body looks like.

Unfortunately there was a security breach in Padre Steve’s household as the Abby Normal Abbess aka “Judy the Snitch” revealed something that the government has been concealing from you for many years.   Of course she could not help herself in being a snitch since she was the youngest child in her family, save her Pug Susie.  Since the damage to yours and mine national security cannot be undone now that she has posted for the world to see, I am posting the link to her article in hopes that the knowledge of the leak and the official explanation from Padre Steve will defuse this crisis.  The link is here:

http://abbeynormalabbess.wordpress.com/2009/07/09/steve-ketchup-and-national-security/

Now the official explanation:  Catsup packets and other condiments are indeed to reserve currency in case of a meltdown in the world economy.  Since many in the world are fearful of a worst case scenarios like the Great Depression or the hyper-inflation period of the Weimar Republic the world leaders decided that condiment packets that are found in fast food restaurants from Atlanta to Zagreb would do in a pinch.  Now this has not been announced anywhere and will not be officially as it could cause a rush on catsup futures which would further destabilize the already fragile world economy as McDonalds, Burger King and other fast food giants would be forced to close stores and lay off employees to find the money to keep the catsup bins stocked.

For those that don’t know the Germans have ascribed a monetary value to catsup and other condiment packets.  Back in the old days if you went to a fast food place or an Imbiss (a little snack bar often found in small towns) you would pay 5 pfennings for a packet of catsup.  Today with the advent of the Euro the last time I was there they cost 10 Euro Cents, which is about 14-15 US cents at recent exchange rates.  Some US fast food franchises now charge for more than the two or three packets that they might normally give you.  I found this out when I looked in the bag with my “to go” order and seeing that there were not enough to have extra to add to my stockpile, I asked for more and was told that it would be an additional charge.  Knowing what I know I paid for the extra.  Many fast food restaurants now have copied what Wendy’s has done for many years and instead of giving you packets of catsup as a “dine-in” customer now supply a pumping station to the catsup tank located below the store, which a couple of times month a tanker truck filled with catsup pulls up to about 0300, or 3 AM and fills up the secret tank.  This is one reason McDonalds is replacing its older buildings, it is cheaper to build a new building with the tank than renovate.  It also provides them cover of plausible deniability should people ask when the parking lot is ripped up and a tank is being installed.  These catsup tankers are unmarked for the reason that the restaurants and the government do not want you to know what is really going on.  Most of these are owned by the Heinz conglomerate whose owner; Teresa Heinz Kerry is married to a member of the US Senate and former Presidential candidate, Senator John Kerry.  By doing this the government and the restaurants are allowing themselves to stockpile catsup packets for the coming time when they will be needed.

Now you probably wonder how you can verify what I am saying.  If you have a friend or family member in the military or employed by a Federal or State law enforcement agency and visit their home or ride in their car, look for their secret stash.  After reading what Judy wrote on her blog, Judy’s cousin Diana recalled a visit to her daughter Becki who is a senior Law Enforcement official in a Federal Government agency with an astronomically high security clearance. Becki also has a drawer full of catsup and other condiment packets.  The light went on for Diana and she knew that indeed that Judy had unearthed a dark secret.

I’m sure that this post will also give the Bible prophecy addicts something new to ponder in relationship to the scriptures which talk about in the end times a bar of gold will buy a loaf of bread and stuff like that.  It is likely now that this is out there that books like The Late Great Planet Earth and parts of The Left Behind series will have to be re-written.

Additionally survivalists and militia movement members who have long suspected a government conspiracy will begin to stockpile catsup packets and begin to hijack restaurant re-supply trucks to make off with cases of catsup and other condiments and even Al Qaida my start targeting Heinz, Hunts and Del Monte catsup plants around the country seeking yet another way to undermine US and world economic security.

So that’s the story.  There will be a cover up of course as there always are, when asked government spokesmen and women will claim ignorance or deny the story altogether.  But now you know the dirty little secret. As we know from Agents Scully and Mulder in the X-Files the truth is out there.

Peace, Steve+

Note:  I gave a bad title to a post a couple of days ago.  It is the “Visit to Super Holy International Temple.”  It is quite funny and quite profound in its own way and I hope that you look it up if you din’t think that the title sounded too interesting. I was told by a reader that it reminded him of the book “The Shack” which I have never read.

3 Comments

Filed under Loose thoughts and musings, national security, Political Commentary, purely humorous