GOP Debate

I’ve made a pretty solid effort to minimize how much attention I pay to politics this year, for a variety of reasons. Presidential politics, much like professional sports, has the ability to control your emotions but you have no real control over the outcome. It is just a mathematical reality that your vote for President means basically nothing. There might be a weak argument that putting in work during the primaries can pay off, but this cycle that doesn’t seem to be the case. But, a group of us got together with a bunch of booze and a drinking game sheet so we decided to watch the shitshow.

To be honest, that debate terrified me. The whole stage (sans Rand) was filled with people who are willing to murder innocent civilians and implement draconian policies to restrict our rights. It was an interesting situation where in an attempt to be strong they preached paranoia and cowardice. It is a cowards move to take away freedom because you are scared.

Besides, much of what they said would be impossible to implement and likely unconstitutional. But the GOP candidates don’t really care about that. They see themselves as a benevolent paternalistic dictator who could keep us safe if only we would obey their orders and let them chain us inside our homes. Over and over again they said keeping Americans safe is their first duty… as if that type of control over a population is possible or even desirable.

In order to guarantee 100% safety from “terrorism” (whatever that even means at this point) they would have to put in place a North Korean level police state. Borders would need to be closed, communication monitored and restricted, economic bans on certain items put in place… it would require complete control over the lives of every person in the country. The reality is, you can’t guarantee safety. There are always going to be incidents and uncertainty in the world. It is ironic that conservatives will point to the rapid decline in violence in the country when the gun debate rolls around, but then they will turn to the state to protect them from terrorism as if that is some sort of imminent danger in our day-to-day lives.

It is this kind of crazy shit that makes me want to leave the United States. There are other countries that are more free, have lower taxes, and safer from internal fascism. Many of the candidates kept saying that America is the greatest nation (or that we need to return to some magical time when America was great), but that simply isn’t true. There is no objective measure in which America is the greatest, or probably even in the top 15 at this point. You can’t say we are “free” when we have the largest prison population in the world. You can’t say we are “strong” when we are terrified of every shadow on the wall, will sacrifice our freedom for security, and act like a insecure schoolyard bully.

The world is safer now than it has ever been. Yes, there is an incredibly small chance that a terrorist act could happen, but that chance is so small that it should have no effect on how we live our lives. And we certainly shouldn’t sacrifice our principles, rights, and basic humanity in order to minimize it. I don’t know how anyone on that stage can call themselves Christian and support the policies they talked about. No true follower of Christ would support killing innocent people, engaging in racial profiling, or locking the hungry out of the country. There is just now way around it, if you are supporting any of these GOP candidates and call yourself a Christian then you have sold out your faith in exchange for politics.

Pope Francis Is Just Alright By Me

I like this pope, and it is not only because I’m an atheist. I grew up in a series of non-denominational churches, which means I pretty much have no idea what the hell Catholicism really is. My paternal grandmother was Catholic but I only met her a handful of times. I think there is something about praying to Mary, lots of candles with angels and stuff on them, and I’m pretty sure the Pope is infallible. I think they also are cool with My knowledge of “protestants” is just as vague because protestant Christians are like the colonies under the Articles of Confederation, they are more united by what they aren’t (Catholics) than what they are. I’ve been to Lutheran and Presbyterian churches (both chasing girls) and I always wondered where the electric guitar was and why their pastor wasn’t wearing jeans… I’m getting off topic, sorry about that.

I like this Pope because I think public discussion, debate, and disagreement is good for everyone, particularly when the subject is faith-based. There is a real danger when all leaders of a group agree on something, or at the very least they all publicly agree. Francis seems to be different (at least to this guy who knows nothing about Catholicism). He seems to disagree with prior Popes and even disagrees with his own assistants. I haven’t seen this much debate on my Facebook wall since I asked whether I should watch Harry Potter.

Individual members of any group do not hold a monopoly on understanding or the truth. Every person who subscribes to a belief or teaching or philosophy should take it upon themselves to become experts and question everything. That is something that I always found lacking in the church, the Bible studies and church services were too rigid and too “right or wrong answer”. The documents may be 2000 years old but you don’t need a degree in Theology to read them and try to digest them, but in reality that seems discouraged by the churches. I was told what to believe and if it didn’t make sense I was told to “have faith” and unanswerable questions (or those that defied current science) were chalked up to “the lord works in mysterious ways”.

We should all process new information and change our minds when necessary, even when it comes to matters of faith. This Pope seems more willing to do that, particularly when it comes to the complexities of human sexuality. Church lacks Socratic dalogue and bible studies too closely resemble elementary school arithmetic exams where the “teacher” knows the answer and anything that deviates is “wrong”. There are too many people who believe they have the correct answer so they stop processing knew information.

If there is a God surely that is not his intention, I agree with Galileo “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them.” Even Proverbs 27:17 agrees, debate and discussion make us stronger, surely faith and intellect should not be allowed to rust because our leaders have told us (not taught us) the right answers. Pope Francis sparked debate inside and outside the Catholic community, and because of that I think he rocks.

Unrelated: If you haven’t seen the “True Facts” videos you should… here is one about owls and one about Morgan Freeman… and some music from my youth.