The Two Spies Report

The "Minority Report" from J. Michael Bennett, Ph.D, Emeritus Producer of the Future Quake Radio Show, and Author of the soon-to-be-released book series The Holy War Chronicles – A Spiritual View of the War on Terror

Tag: christian

Update: Hydroxychloroquine and the Israeli Connection

Readers Note: I acknowledge that the following post is EXTREMELY long, even by my standards. You probably will want to read it in installments, and I recommend a laptop or tablet versus a phone to read. Many readers may decide it is TOO long for their interests and attention span, and each reader might suggest their own unique priority material within it, and suggestions for editing, as I often hear from my last book. However, it IS a very important topic that has been impacting our world, and an archetype of the similar issues we encounter in our complex world, and the nature of the players and strategies used by figures in society to inform our opinions, in (sometimes) issues of life or death. I would challenge the reader of such limited attention span and devotion to society’s issues and “being their brother’s keeper” (both attributes I recommend for all my fellow Christians) and ask them why such issues cause them to take such strong and passionate views on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere and in their interpersonal debates, and so forcefully express their views with such confidence, if they are not willing to devote a little bit of time to study and consider the data compiled at great expense of time by their brethren, in books, legitimate investigative journalism and serious fact-finding blogs like this one, to best round out their being fully informed and to ponder the implications, thus to justify their passionate engagement in the issues of the day.      

 

What would you think if it was discovered that a rogue foreign nation, considered a pariah globally and wanted for decades of human rights violations and aggression against their neighbors in the UN, responsible for assassinations of world figures, false flag operations (including attacking U.S. troops) that risked world wars, colluding with other despotic regimes that threatened the world, having built a covert nuclear weapons program and stockpile with European secret assistance (while denying its existence to U.S. administrations), known to be the biggest spy on the U.S. (including within the Oval Office) and for selling our most valuable weapons system designs to the Chinese, and an overwhelmingly atheistic society with a long-time leader indicted in national courts of crimes, was actually involved behind the scenes in the curious sudden promotion of hydroxychloroquine since March, as possibly part of a means to achieve economic “warfare” to seduce U.S. top officials with secret dual-agenda purposes, including their avoidance of U.S. sanctions against the corrupt and dangerous practices of their top corporate source of operating capital within the global and American marketplace?   

So – is it another intrigue by our enemy Cuba? North Korea?

Of course, it is the nation that best fits the description – Israel.

Before I proceed with this discussion, I should get out of the way, which becomes a requirement these days, that I am truly not anti-Semitic in any way. In my many years of writing, touching on the greatest of forbidden topics of critique among the Religious Right, the subject of Israel and Zionism ranks right up there with abortion, and even being above critiques of American divine destiny, its military-centric focus or the divine attributes of capitalism and unbridled free enterprise (I sometimes think that I should have labelled this masochistic exercise of blogging “The Third Rail,” instead of “The Two Spies Report”), even though we’re talking about a foreign, overly atheistic nation who is often caught acting secretly against our own nation, and risking our own troops and their well-being.

In fact, for the time being I still cling to the debatable doctrinal premise of premillennial dispensationalism, which concedes that God may still have a Last Days agenda in preserving a small remnant of those from the original Twelve Tribes of Israel, not of their inherent value (for even John the Baptist said God could raise up stones to be “sons of Abraham”), but merely to honor a promise He gave to a couple of His friends (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) to preserve their lineage and inheritance, even though any premillennial dispensationalist would have to admit that a literal reading of biblical apocalyptic literature would concede that an overwhelming proportion of those in Israel will die in the Last Days in unbelief, and possibly after coronating the Anti-Christ as Messiah in the new Temple they are trying to build todaya Temple many of my fellow evangelicals are excited to see built, and often helping financially where they can, to help get the Anti-Christ’s home of the “Abomination of Desolation” ready to go.

Although my Southern Baptist upbringing believed in the Second Return of Christ, it did not emphasize the detailed, church stage-length “prophecy charts” and obsessions of “pinning the tail on the Anti-Christ” until The Late Great Planet Earth book came out – the biggest selling non-fiction book of the 1970s, I am told – which my older brother picked up from a K-Mart in 1976, and which he and I read overnight in successive nights. Soon thereafter came cable TV and specialty prophecy shows on the Christian networks, like “The King is Coming” and Jack Van Impe, feeding the frenzy and obsession, and the Internet has only put it on steroids, with “prophecy boards” lighting up when Israel begins dropping bombs on neighboring villagers – often using “popcorn emojis” revealing their entertainment at the prospect of limbs of women and children flying around of the heathen “Amalekites” (using the term the Puritans used to describe the Indians they exterminated).

With the indoctrination of one into the “prophecy cult” (pertaining to a major part of the biblical record that I still regard as valid, important and part of the “blessed hope” of my Lord’s reign and our glorification and habitation with Him at the end of the age) comes an automatic, un-debated and critique-free adoption of the agenda of the secular, atheistic state of modern Israel, and its agenda and interests without question, including adopting its hatreds of its enemies, who often do not have to be enemies of ours, as Americans nor as Christians.

Just like the debasement of Religious Right Christians in their automatic, “no questions asked” undying and unflinching devotion to the Big Business, anti-poor and anti-immigrant stance of the Republican Party, their public unwavering support of secular Israel, in the face of atrocities and secret agendas exposed, similarly devastates the testimony of Christians to the overwhelming world populace that wants evil deeds by all parties to be held to account, and the world’s seeking of a Church that wants to preach the Gospel to people of all types (including the “Ninevites” that the Jew Jonah pre-despised), and that has the integrity to be loyal ultimately to the higher Kingdom of Heaven, and not some secular, foreign authority.

Not only do I not have any animosity to the Jewish community both globally and in the U.S. at large, readily acknowledging millennia of their persecution, pograms and discrimination, often by professing “Christians,” culminating in the ultimate evil of the “Holocaust,” a real event that killed real millions, but also the duty of Christians not only to acknowledge these things, but also to take real steps, both societally and in our own circles, to make sure they never happen again. Because of the propensity of the concept of the “wandering Jew” without a state during the age of the Diaspora to be consistently persecuted while residing as a minority wherever they exist, which appeared to be worsening with the “advanced” thinking of the Twentieth Century, I can sympathize with their goal of having a homeland where they will not be a minority and to preserve their human rights and prosperity – although, ironically, they have now built a land where they possess no State-acknowledged “Bill of Rights,” or even a written Constitution, as I understand it. Therefore, having conceded to them their desire to have a secure home that can provide for their protection (a right of security I think is due to Kurds, minority Iraqi Sunnis, and many other groups globally), as a Christian I still see no guidance at all by Christ, the Apostles or anywhere in the New Testament on how (or if) we are to “stand with Israel,” i.e. providing cover for their alleged human rights abuses and other misdeeds in the UN or elsewhere, providing them massive weapons systems of mass destruction (or just cash and business incentives), or using our governments God established for our own protection to serve the interests of foreign nation at a higher level than our own, or for Christians to cater to them even when they forbid our major Christian organizations that feed untold wealth into their coffers (as well as a cut for the ministries themselves) in the constant stream of “Holy Land Tours,” which are often conducted by Israel as veritable catered “Potemkin Villages” for political purposes of hasbara, I might add. As I document elsewhere in my writing, one thing these U.S. Christian ministries agree to do for the Israeli government in exchange for these lucrative tour approvals is to not “proselytize” Jewish residents – which is what I thought we “evangelicals” were supposed to be all about anyway. That is why you don’t see these Christian “leaders” preaching the Gospel at Western Wall – at least their Apostle predecessors were willing to be bold enough and devoted to Christ to do such previously, and take their beatings from the Jewish officials, as would happen today.

To be more precise, I do not have problems with the ideal of a kind, independent Israel that still obeys the “Golden Rule” with its neighbors and looks out for them as well, and really a major portion of Israelis agree with me – unfortunately, they comprise just under a majority of the Israeli public, which permits self-serving, corrupt men of minority support like Benjamin Netanyahu to worm his way into the Prime Minister slot in the multi-party, parliamentary workings behind closed doors; therefore, I am much more of an “anti-Likudist” than I am anti-Israeli, anti-Zionist or anti-Jewish by any measure, and I think the majority of Jews worldwide would agree with me in that position. Speaking of Jews who would agree with me in this humanitarian mindset – my fellow American evangelical Zionists, Hebraic Roots crowd and many ultra-Orthodox Jews here in the U.S. and in Israel would refer to such fellow Jews as “self-loathing Jews”; that image might be appropriate, which conjures up the publican in the Temple who smote his own chest and said, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner,” and was said by our Lord to “go home justified,” while the other crowd I have referred to comports with the Pharisee in the Temple, who prays that he is “glad he’s not like that sinner;” I just pragmatically say that those “self-loathing Jews” are “Jews with a conscience,” and God love’em. Furthermore, I could argue here how the story of Jonah shows what happens to Gentiles when they harbor Jews away from the trials their God sends their way to put them back on the right path to being a “light to the Gentiles,” the lesson God taught King Jehoshaphat of the perils of an overly-simplistic interpretation of how to “bless Israel” by means of military or economic assistance, or how Acts 3:26 gives the one biblical instruction on how to “bless Israel” that our Religious Right leaders largely reject, but I will save that for another day, but suffice it to say I love the Jewish people, the people of Israel and their right to peace and safety when they abide by the Golden Rule with their neighbors, and seek for them the greatest and only real blessing of all – their recognition of their “hour of visitation” and the acknowledgement of their Messiah, and deliverance from sin and to eternal life, even if most them of them do not believe in God or the afterlife.

Having gotten that out of the way, I want to say a few more things about some of the roots of the sudden and mysterious public relations push of the drug hydroxychloroquine, beyond that cited in my lengthy last post – its sudden and hard, elaborate promotion by figures not among the national or global leadership of experts on immunology, epidemiology or public health, but individuals of little national background, and relatively unknown underwriting (although their promotion and handling by a pro-Big Business national network of “astroturf” faux-grass roots organizations, including the Religious Right-affiliated Council on National Policy, was documented in the post), who gained sudden traction in the murky waters of Facebook and Youtube, and of course embraced without reservation by the conspiracy-obsessed Religious Right online community, leading to their promotion by alt-Right stalwart Breitbart. In my post and subsequent comments about Dr. Simone Gold, shown to be the ring leader and “headliner” of the movement (although her “Front Line Doctors” colleague and video co-star Dr. Stella Immanuel, and her widely publicized claims of women’s gynecological problems being due to “sleep sex” with demons, and the mind control terrors of the “Magic Eight Ball,” certainly garnered possibly most of the attention), I confess I had a good degree of reticence at the time about admitting her curious vocational biography of being a writer and researcher for Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, and her frequent obsession in her limited Facebook postings with the geopolitical interests of the State of Israel (even claiming in writing online that “Israel is the solution to the problems of the Middle East”), both being concerned that I would be black-listed as an anti-Semite for even observing and acknowledging it, and also conceding that it might only be an irrelevant “red herring.”

One thing I can say, commensurate in my decades of experience in investigating and writing about global and national issues that have some degree of relevance to the matter of Zionism and the interests of secular Israel, including my drafting of a lengthy volume (now planned to be two) in my Holy War Chronicles book series on the history of Judaism and its modern variants (including Israel and Zionism-based religion) and other manuscripts, is that hasbara (the rabbinic Judaism belief in the duty of Jews (including atheistic ones) to actively and aggressively promote the interests of secular Israel in whatever nations and spheres in which they reside, which has been adopted by Gentile Christian Zionists and Hebraic Roots and Messianic fringe movements) tends to produce supporters who are never “mild” Israel-defenders, rather embracing non-stop information warfare in bare-knuckles open combat in every forum of the public sphere (even in today’s “Wild West” propaganda wasteland of Palestinian/Arab/Islamic interests, white Christian European interests, etc.), who seem to “never sleep” and be driven by endless energy, that an aging “lone gun” researcher like myself cannot keep up with their output of their key figures in my own studies. Anyone who critiques their message, even if from one sympathetic to the plight of Jewry historically and worldwide like myself, will earn not a balanced, but rather a stern and threatening rebuke, which is notable if even driven by fears of rising anti-Semitism. Therefore, I have come to expect that those who show such devotion to their Zionism cause (not just Jewish human rights, but modern Israeli policy interests specifically) typically (but not always) usually are “all in” as it becomes the primary force behind their devotion and agendas, no matter how superficially marginal to the cause, and that effective voices on their behalf in some sphere of conflict will often find ample support from Tel Aviv or sympathetic underwriters from Wall Street, or similar communities of power. This activity may be legal, and an exercise of free speech and representing the interests of a legitimate community in the public debate, and I certainly defend their right to do so, but I wish they (and others) would at least be transparent and up front in the real core interest, agenda and underwriting they represent, which they should do willingly if their agenda is legitimate, honorable and just (and befitting the Golden Rule).

I would normally have left the material on hydroxychloroquine, a marginal issue to me and not one I feel called to pursue fanatically, and one I felt accidentally “drug in to” (excuse the pun) although it certainly has had its “moment in the sun” in stirring the public (and may not be done yet), and any debatable secondary agenda of Dr. Gold or a remote Israeli connection to the drug, alone and let it possibly fade into obscurity. However, recent data has come to light with some curious digging on my behalf, that suggests that there may be more that meets the eye (or the Hamza “eye,” in this case) in the association of at least some tangential nature of Israel or its key players and this hydroxychloroquine cultural phenomenon, which may be largely explained by some pragmatic, “Great City Babylon” economic manipulation, always anchored by a public relations “sorcery” core to serve a Mammon-focused agenda, as samples of such data I submit in the following for your consideration.

I should note that “doctor’s groups,” even those far bigger than the hundreds of physician signatories to the recent document insisting on the widespread implementation of hydroxychloroquine that was associated with “America’s Frontline Doctors,” have been used for a long time in swaying the public into adopting health and consumer choices with ludicrous health “enhancements” – of course, usually at the behest and generous financial renumeration of Wall Street big businesses, usually brokered by Madison Avenue. Probably the master of such use of ad hoc, recently-organized medical “authority councils” is the man commonly referred to as the “father of public relations,” Edward Bernays. In the 1920s he was asked by the Beech-Nut bacon and processed meat producer to increase public consumption of pork. Bernays found out that the public normally ate light breakfasts of coffee, orange juice and a roll. He was able to get his PR firm physician to write 5,000 fellow physicians to ask them if a “heavier” breakfast would be more healthy; in response, 4,500 physicians wrote back and agreed. Bernays was able to take those responses and massage them into a public “endorsement” of what he called the healthy “bacon and eggs breakfast” throughout the press, suddenly creating what became an American institution that many of us would have guessed went back naturally to far earlier days.

Of course, Bernays waded right into the Big Tobacco advertising mother lode in the late 1920s and 1930s, getting physicians to admit that cartons of a certain brand of cigarette he sent free to them (most of them were smokers) were easier on the throat, then to subsequently advertise them as physician endorsements of smoking and that brand in general. He was able to get women to begin smoking – at the request of a well-paying cigarette client, of course – even though they saw such as “unladylike” at the time, by making female smoking a political and cultural issue of “women’s liberation,” christening them “liberty torches” and organizing feminist parades in New York, and dispensing articles and “news” stories and press releases on the news wires using new public interest groups he set up. Thus, he made the smoking of a cigarette by a woman a political statement (actually to fill the coffers of a Big Business client), just as similarly others have sold the “political statement” of not wearing masks to protect their fellow citizens during a deadly epidemic, by redefining its meaning beyond the simple, common-sense life-preserving principles it entails. By the 1930s, 1940s and early 1950s, the heyday of American public smoking and high-dollar advertising on TV and print (which would continue until around 1970 when it was banned, and a time I remember well, as they transitioned to NASCAR and other sports advertising), medical research and physician opinions began to get wise to the dangers of smoking, but ad hoc Big Tobacco-sponsored “research groups” continued to produce “medical research” from “doctors” that clouded the association of smoking with cancer, or outright disputed it, even after the seminal 1964 study providing widespread, confirming proof by the esteemed medical establishment, in international peer-reviewed repeated trials – the same establishment that smokers ignored or distrusted for decades, just as they have over the hydroxychloroquine issue today. It’s no wonder that Bernays wrote, in the beginning of his definitive 1928 book Propaganda about what he learned from his days doing wartime black propaganda and its peacetime applications on Madison Avenue, and the psychoanalysis discoveries from his cousin Sigmund Freud, that

The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country….We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of…In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”

I should first begin by saying that I don’t know if Dr. Gold has any direct connection to the working of the Israeli players I will now recount in this narrative, and it may be a mere coincidence that she is vehemently strong in her promotion of the State of Israel as well as being the central figure in the hydroxychloroquine soap opera, although her connections did spur my pursuit of seeking deeper connections between Israel and these mysterious public relations operations (although I documented previously that Republican forces in America saw the chemical as a means (whether it worked or not) to justify the reckless re-opening of the economy, without restrictions or precautions, in time for the 2020 election to temporarily raise economic conditions before the ravages of the inevitable COVID flash back could raise its head). However, Dr. Gold may have already paid a price herself for the aggressive and “in your face” public relations “Doolittle Raid” represented by the embarrassingly little-thought-out video promoted nationally by the cobbled together “America’s Front Line Doctors,” and its anticipated fallout. On July 31, Real Clear Politics and others reported that “She told FNC‘s [Fox News Channel] Tucker Carlson on Thursday that since appearing in the photo op, she has been fired from her job. ‘It seems like five minutes ago I was considered a hero,’ she said. ‘My own website was taken down and it has been interesting since.’ ‘A lot of people are saying negative things about me,’ she said.”

There is a group who came to the defense (sort of) of Dr. Gold and her “persecution” – the prestigious-sounding Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which was founded in 1944, but whose nature requires some explanation, because it shows the roots, generations ago, of an exploitation of an institution we have have often held in esteem and trust even above our clergy – the medical community – and its co-opting for Great City Babylon Big Business financial causes that history shows would have set back the public health – a threat that COVID and hydroxychloroquine has provided ample modern opportunity to demonstrate and perpetuate.

A 1944 article in Time Magazine announced that “Last week saw a portent in U.S. medicine — a new medical organization which claimed members in 48 states. Its name: the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Its aim: defeat of any Government group medicine,” getting its start when it “decided to combat the Wagner-Murray-Dingell bill (now in Congressional committees), which proposes Government medical insurance for most U.S. citizens.” Imagine the horror – all Americans having access to health care, to prevent expensive diseases and emergency room visits, and not be wiped out permanently by the expense of catastrophic, life threatening illnesses (even for those burdensome poor and elderly people!) – and the impact of providing such mercy and basic dignity to not ruin a common person due to unavoidable health misfortune, would have on the excess profits of the financial wealth class. Someone must put a stop to this travesty!   

Twenty-one years later, The New York Times was reporting that “The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons urged its 16,500 members today not to cooperate in the Federal Government’s Medicare program,” which was being established that year by the Johnson administration. How many of our Christian seniors these days, particularly since many of them are of a low and/or fixed income variety, would like to take this benefit away, in accordance with the agenda of the Wall Street/Big Business’wealth class political power brokers that lead their conservative political movement, to be consistent with their anti-government, anti-socialism “principles”?

In 1966 The New York Times reportedly stated that some of the leaders of the Association were members of the ultra-right conspiratorialist John Birch Society, which itself was early in its 1960s “golden age” at the time; in fact, the web page for Paul W. Leithart, M.D., on the John Birch website that is dedicated to him, notes his membership in the John Birch group by 1960 (two years after its founding) as a “chapter leader,” and adds that Dr. Leithart has been a “past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.”

The John Birch Society themselves have had a long legacy, in addition to asserting the real hidden Communist affiliations of Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, Martin Luther King, Jr. and (World War II and Cold War hero) Supreme Commander General and President Dwight D. Eisenhower, of making similar allegations of a vast medical establishment community conspiracy globally on their own, such as concerning water fluoridation, the promotion of of laetrile (of what John Birch spokesman G. Edward Griffin labeled “Vitamin B17”) as the real universal cure of cancer that our doctors did not want you to have to get well. Of course, now they champion the position of a new conspiracy of vaccinations in the era of COVID-19, with collusion of diabolical henchmen like (universally well-respected in the global immunology community) Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Bill Gates (who’s spent his fortune trying to eradicate preventable diseases in Africa), with allegations of the proposed use of cellphone trackers of contacts by virus carriers, so people can find out if they’ve been exposed to someone later found out to be COVID positive. Former Congressman Ron Paul (a man I used to deeply respect, and in some ways still do) explained that the government should not have any say in how you conduct your business, including exposing unwitting others to your virus without their knowledge. He states, “It really boils down to this whole concept of who’s responsible for protecting against risk and obviously in a free society the individual is,” to which the Birch article adds, “Dr. Paul is exactly correct. In a free society, it’s up to individuals – not the government – to protect against risk. This is exactly why we shouldn’t wait for Fauci, Gates, Big Tech, large tax-exempt foundations, or the government to co-opt the narrative of the purported benefits of Americans giving of up our rights by submitting to a national health ID or coronavirus tracking through their cellular devices…Should these proposals be implemented, they also may give rise to mass forced vaccinations.”

Of course, even a small child could understand that your rights to do as you please makes sense, as long as it impacts only you, but not when your recklessness and disregard for others endangers other people you encounter without their knowledge of such risk, just like the use of masks in public is to acknowledge the rights of others not to be infected by you, no matter how macho, reckless and empty-headed you are, which sadly Religious Right Christians appear to be a majority of those of such selfish and uncaring attitudes focused their own rights, while being a dangerous bully towards others. Furthermore, cellphone tracking of COVID spreaders and contact tracing has quickly stopped an otherwise unrelenting spread of the disease in several advanced Asian countries like South Korea, saving countless lives and suffering by quickly quarantining outbreaks and even permitting a swift reopening of the economy, unlike the shameful and incompetent leadership in America that was warned, yet ignored the threat, resisting the acquisition of masks, test kits and shut downs until a nation with 4.5 percent of the world population had almost 25 percent of its COVID cases and deaths, even after watching the spread in China and Europe.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) originally established their pedigree with their own in-house medical journal, originally known as the Medical Sentinel, and in 2003 changed in name to the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. While all other medical journals tend to be boring affairs for the general public, focusing on data and concepts only conversant among medical experts, focusing on peer-reviewed sets of double-blind data trials held by numerous institutes, and on isolating true causation versus spurious noise or mere correlation, the journal of the AAPS can be viewed as focusing more on the promotion of a conservative-libertarian political agenda, back-filled with general medical discussions to give it a vague medical community sanction, and using an apparently ever-present minority community of estranged, rogue medical officials to give respectability to the most ludicrous positions and using language and rhetorical techniques that most learned individuals would find disturbingly out of place in a science-based academic journal.

To give a few examples, in one instance a 1999 paper in the Medical Sentinel “journal” by “Curtis W. Caine, MD” (and member of the Editorial Board) entitled, “Conspiracy – Part III,” warned of “unConstitutional (and thus illegal) activities in medicine and all other facets of our lives that have trampled on and outlawed our God-endowed freedom and liberty,” and that “Much of the absurd nonsense passed as liberal arts curriculum in institutions of both lower education and higher learning, blindly accepted as enlightened intellectualism (in apposition to old fogey, common, everyday horse sense) by a populace that has been deceived and brainwashed into believing the hoax that there are no moral values, right and wrong, absolute truth, marriage fidelity, oaths, sanctity of human life (abortion, euthanasia), Scripture (progressive revelation), ethics, integrity, etc. All things are relative, we are told, and must be reinterpreted ‘scientifically’.” Dr. Caine adds that

Likewise, that there is a Triune Creator/Sovereign of the universe ‘that rules in the affairs of men’ gets in the way of the proponents of the humanist religion. So He must be labeled a myth that must be expunged. God is a hoax, the line goes. He was concocted to frighten the simple, simplistic, ignorant, superstitious masses with mores – ethics, ideals, morality, principles, and standards… Humanists employ the slight of hand linguist trick of substituting the religion of evolutionary humanism for the creation religion of Jehovah by tagging the latter ‘religion, forbidden by the First Amendment’ and the former ‘scientific fact’…Variations on this theme are the basic politically correct (at present – but changeable at whim) philosophy and program and policy of HHS, the Supreme Court, the educational ‘system,’ National Geographic, the ‘welfare’ system, the ‘health’ system, the mainstream media, much too much of some ‘organized’ religions, ‘organized’ medicine — all of which are, therefore, particeps criminis in this obvious, self-evident inconsistent insanity…For in the dichotomy there are only two alternatives: man will voluntarily accept to be ruled by his Creator, or he will be involuntarily ruled by the all powerful State…History has again repeated itself. Good people, ‘it’s Boston harbor tea time again!’

Now – when’s the last time you read something like that in a scientific academic medical journal?

In the Winter 2007 edition of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, “Henry H. Bauer, Ph.D” argues that “doctors, scientists, and others who question whether human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) have been called the moral equivalent of Holocaust deniers; their employers have
been urged to dismiss them… Evidently those who make these attacks are absolutely convinced that HIV causes AIDS. That raises the question of how much certainty is ever attainable in science…, both official reports and the peer-reviewed literature afford substantive grounds for doubting that HIV is the necessary and sufficient cause of AIDS and that anti-retroviral treatment is unambiguously beneficial.” As an example, he notes that President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa convened a group comprising both HIV/AIDS believers and HIV/AIDS skeptics, but that “the media coverage gave short shrift to the doubters’ views by comparison to the believers’ Durban Declaration with its 5,000 signatures, which asserted: ‘The evidence that AIDS is caused by HIV-1 or HIV-2 is clear-cut, exhaustive and unambiguous, meeting the highest standards of science…. It is unfortunate that a few vocal people deny the evidence. This position will cost countless lives‘.” He notes how the press treats fellow HIV denialists like Kary Mullis, whom he notes Harper’s as stating that “he has a wide range of odd beliefs. He does not believe in global warming, but does believe he might have been abducted by aliens and is partial to astrology.” The paper offers almost no data to bolster any alternative theories. 

Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, in their book Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues From Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, write that the Journal of Physicians and Surgeons, and their sponsor the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, have played a key role in the community of climate change deniers, and the Association had filed suit on behalf of Rush Limbaugh when his medical records were seized as part of his prosecution on drug charges, and noted that their journal articles which questioned the link between HIV and AIDs featured the commentary of Michael Fumento, a journalist who defended pesticides while accepting money from Monsanto, while other writers there stated the ban on DDT cost millions of lives.

Another of their 2007 Journal articles by scientists from their in-house Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, concludes with the following findings:

There are no experimental data to support the hypothesis that increases in human hydrocarbon use or in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are causing or can be expected to cause unfavorable changes in global temperatures, weather, or landscape. There is no reason to limit human production of CO, CH , and other minor greenhouse gases as has been proposed. We also need not worry about environmental calamities even if the current natural warming trend continues…Warmer weather extends growing seasons and generally improves the habitability of colder regions. As coal, oil, and natural gas are used to feed and lift from poverty vast numbers of people across the globe, more CO will be released into the atmosphere. This will help to maintain and improve the health, longevity, prosperity, and productivity of all people. The United States and other countries need to produce more energy, not less. The most practical, economical, and environmentally sound methods available are hydrocarbon and nuclear technologies. Human use of coal, oil, and natural gas has not harmfully warmed the Earth, and the extrapolation of current trends shows that it will not do so in the foreseeable future. The CO produced does, however, accelerate the growth rates of plants and also permits plants to grow in drier regions…Human activities are producing part of the rise in CO in the atmosphere. Mankind is moving the carbon in coal, oil, and natural gas from below ground to the atmosphere, where it is available for conversion into living things. We are living in an increasingly lush environment of plants and animals as a result of this CO increase.Our children will therefore enjoy an Earth with far more plant and animal life than that with which we now are blessed.”

They have remained consistent over the decades as to their political orientation. In 2013 they released a press release entitled, “Research Fails to Support Gun Control Agenda, According to Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons,” and began with the statement, “Organized medicine, especially the AMA and the American College of Physicians (ACP), is joining with the Obama Administration in calling for more gun control measures, but there is no “evidence-based” support for this, states Jane M. Orient, M.D., in the fall 2013 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.” They stated their opposition to universal background checks (favored by the overwhelming majority of Americans, including Republicans).

In 2007, National Public Radio published an article of the recent hiring of former business news anchor (and recent strong Trump supporter) Lou Dobbs and his new provocative views, such as a Sixty Minutes report on his earlier 2005 show from Christine Romans that suggested that there had been a huge recent increase in leprosy cases in the U.S. due to illegal immigration. They write:

“Romans’ story linked a rise in communicable diseases to illegal immigration. Romans then cited her source’s account of a rise from 900 cases of leprosy to 7,000 cases ‘in the past three years.’ Stahl said those figures reflected several decades of cases — not several years. And indeed, NPR found that federal health authorities cite a total of 6,500 recorded cases. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, new cases have been declining in the United States since 1988. In addition, NPR found problems with CNN’s source. The late Dr. Madeleine Cosman was a firebrand advocate against illegal immigration, a favorite of talk radio, who identified herself as a ‘medical lawyer.’ Her doctorate, from Columbia University, was in medieval literature, a field in which she was a frequent writer and lecturer. After her retirement as a professor, she earned a law degree from Cardozo Law School in New York, though her daughter was quoted after her death in 2006 by the San Diego Union-Tribune saying she never practiced law. But she wrote on many issues, and she told Romans she was frequently a consultant to doctors on legal medical issues. Despite Cosman’s background in academia, the article in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons that was cited by CNN’s Romans had footnotes that did not readily support allegations linking a recent rise in leprosy rates to illegal immigrants. (The journal itself is not considered a leading publication, as it’s put out by an advocacy group that opposes most government involvement in medical care.)

After being confronted with this information, Dobbs still stood by the story.

In a 2005 article in Time Magazine, which focused on the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) cracking down on physicians thought to over-prescribe opioid and other strong medications, they write that

“The pain wars escalated last April when Virginia internist Dr. William Hurwitz was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison after 16 former patients testified against him and a jury found that the death of another patient was caused by an overdose. Hurwitz’s assets were seized, and now he is appealing his conviction with the help of the pain foundation and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons…Prosecutors said Hurwitz prescribed ‘obscene’ amounts of medicine to patients he knew were addicted to cocaine and other drugs.”

Time Magazine also published a 2005 article in which the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) against physician board peer reviews of practices – meant to confirm quality control and the safety of patients from rogue doctors, and to maintain the integrity of the medical community itself. They write that “Physicians fear being sued by patients, a well-known fact, but many also worry about being targeted by fellow doctors through the process of peer review. Allegations of poor care or other serious complaints against a doctor go to a panel, consisting mainly of physicians, that decides in secret whether the accused has done wrong. That system is too open to manipulation and needs reform, says the 4,000-member American Association of Physicians and Surgeons.”

In 2009 the great investigative journalism institution and magazine Mother Jones published a brief article about the AAPS organization entitled, “The Tea Party’s Favorite Doctors.” They write:

“As tea partiers have become the leading opposition to health care reform, AAPS has lent credibility to their criticism of the emerging health care legislation. Before the big 9/12 rally in Washington, AAPS cosponsored a protest on Capitol Hill with the Tea Party Patriots that AAPS says attracted 1,000 physicians. The organization’s president, Mark Kellen, appeared with Georgia representatives Tom Price and Phil Gingrey—GOP members of the congressional doctors’ caucus—to slam the bill. AAPS docs hopped Tea Party Express buses to protest the American Medical Association’s annual meeting in Houston (the AMA endorsed the House bill)…When Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann called for tea partiers to come to the Capitol on November 5 to ‘kill the bill,’ AAPS doctors organized a national ‘tele-town hall’ to prep attendees. On Fox News and talk radio, AAPS docs often appear to offer an expert medical opinion against reform.”

“Some of its former leaders were John Birchers, and its political philosophy comes straight out of Ayn Rand. Its general counsel is Andrew Schlafly, son of the legendary conservative activist Phyllis. The AAPS statement of principles declares that it is ‘evil’ and ‘immoral’ for physicians to participate in Medicare and Medicaid…Its website features claims that tobacco taxes harm public health and electronic medical records are a form of ‘data control’ like that employed by the East German secret police. An article on the AAPS website speculated that Barack Obama may have won the presidency by hypnotizing voters, especially cohorts known to be susceptible to ‘neurolinguistic programming’—that is, according to the writer, young people, educated people, and possibly Jews.

“For decades the AAPS has opposed any attempt—real or imagined—to expand the government’s role in health care. Its last big moment in the spotlight came in 1993, when it sued Hillary Clinton to stop ‘socialized medicine’…The organization requires members to sign a “declaration of independence” agreeing to stop participating with any third-party payers—meaning not only government programs like Medicare, but private insurers, too. Basically AAPS doctors believe that medicine should be a cash-and-carry business. This free-market fundamentalism has made the AAPS a natural ally for big corporations. Documents released as a result of the tobacco litigation the 1990s and early 2000s show that Philip Morris officials worked with AAPS executive director Jane Orient to help the company’s ‘junk science’ campaign that attacked indoor smoking bans. The tobacco company also relied on AAPS to generate ‘third party press releases’ in support of its agenda, according to documents in the tobacco archives. In this fall’s edition of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, an economist who has previously received funding from Philip Morris wrote an article arguing that a tobacco tax ‘leads to deterioration in public health’—because it leads people to switch to cigarettes with more nicotine so they can smoke fewer of them.”

In 2015 USA Today re-published a 2010 article from the Louisville Courier Journal that stated that

“Republican U.S. Senate nominee Rand Paul belongs to a conservative doctors’ group that, among other things, has expressed doubts about the connection between HIV and AIDS and suggested that President Barack Obama may have been elected because he was able to hypnotize voters. The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, based in Tucson, Ariz., advocates conservative and free-market solutions on health care and a variety of other political issues…Paul, a Bowling Green ophthalmologist, has touted his credentials as a doctor during this year’s Senate race against Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democrat. Speaking to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons’ annual conference last October in Nashville, Tenn., Paul said he has been a member of the group since at least 1990. ‘I use a lot of AAPS literature when I talk,’ he told the group…[AAPS chief Dr. Jane Orient] said the group has about 2,500 dues-paying members and a total membership of about 5,000. It counts among its members Paul’s father, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, and Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia, both Republicans. Its members are not required to be doctors. The AMA — which is often at odds with the AAPS — had a membership last year of 228,150…Dr. George Nichols, Kentucky’s former longtime medical examiner, said the association’s positions sound like a combination of ‘pseudoscience, public policy and mysticism’.”

“On its website, the association included an article in October 2008 titled, ‘Is Obama a Brilliant Orator … or a Hypnotist?’ It cites an unsigned paper suggesting that Obama used hypnotic techniques and speech patterns in his 2008 campaign. The paper bases its findings on the work of a controversial psychologist, Milton Erickson, who died 30 years ago and pioneered the also-controversial field of neuro-linguistic programming, which purports to use voice patterns to subliminally influence people’s decisions. The paper claims to examine Obama’s speeches ‘word by word, hand gesture by hand gesture, tone, pauses, body language, and proves his use of covert hypnosis intended only for licensed therapists on consenting patients.’ The paper goes on to say that Obama’s ‘mesmerized, cult-like, grade-school-crush-like worship by millions is not because “Obama is the greatest leader of a generation” who simply hasn’t accomplished anything, who magically “inspires” by giving speeches. Obama is committing perhaps the biggest fraud and deception in American history.’ The article notes that the Obama campaign logo ‘might just be the letter “O,” but it also resembles a crystal ball, a favorite of hypnotists.’ And it suggests that hypnosis is the reason some Jewish people backed him. ‘It is also interesting that many Jews are supporting a candidate who is endorsed by Hamas, Farrakhan, Khalidi and Iran,’ the article says.

“The association included in its journal an article criticizing government efforts to encourage people to stop smoking as costly and ineffective and suggesting that the focus on the addictive nature of nicotine is wrong. ‘Repeating the message that nicotine is habit-forming convinces some smokers that their habit is not their fault and that they would be silly to attempt to quit on their own,’ wrote Michael L. Marlow, a professor at California Polytechnic State University. Marlow has received grants to study smoking bans from the Philip Morris Management Corp., the parent company of the cigarette manufacturer, according to a note in the journal that accompanies the article.”

“The association opposes peer-review boards, which review complaints against doctors and punish those who make mistakes. On the group’s website, Dr. Lawrence Huntoon, a former association president, calls peer review “‘an insidious and spreading evil which threatens to destroy not only the integrity of the medical profession but quality care for all patients’…Its website contains a link to a story titled ‘The War on Pain Sufferers’ on a libertarian website. The article says “people who suffer chronic pain are routinely under-treated because their doctors fear that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will accuse them of being drug pushers, destroy their practices, wipe them out financially, and throw them in jail for good measure’.”

“In its fall 2003 issue, the association’s journal published a report suggesting that the twin towers at the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001, because the New York port authority, fearful of lawsuits and complying with new federal restrictions, stopped the use of flame-retardant asbestos midway through construction of the north tower. Asbestos, which had been used to fireproof buildings for generations before being effectively banned by the federal government, is a carcinogen that can lead to illnesses such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. ‘High concentrations of many useful substances cause, or at least facilitate, cancer,’ wrote Andrew Schlafly, the association’s general counsel. ‘Sunlight is an example. We do not prohibit items simply because they may be associated with cancer in high doses. Even useless substances like cigarettes are not banned from the market simply because they cause cancer.’ Schlafly also contends in the article that the use of asbestos might have prevented the tragedies involving the Challenger and Columbia space shuttles. Hans Gesund, a professor of structural engineering at the University of Kentucky…said other suitable insulating materials were used in the World Trade Center’s twin towers, which were destroyed when planes hijacked by terrorists flew into them.”

In 2015 The New York Times also reported on Sen. Paul’s association with the AAPS. They add that

“Back in 2009, when Rand Paul was pursuing his long-shot bid to win Kentucky’s Republican Senate primary, he spoke to a small physicians’ association that has publicized discredited medical theories…Mr. Paul, an ophthalmologist, was no stranger to the group, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. He boasted at its annual meeting that he had been a member for more than two decades and that he relied on its research, statistics and views about the role of government in medicine. ‘I am not a newcomer to AAPS,’ Mr. Paul said, referring to the group…Mr. Paul and the physicians’ association share a libertarian philosophy and deep skepticism about government involvement in medical care that often plays out in public health debates. ‘This is about channeling ideals of freedom, personal choice and liberty, even if you put the community in peril in the process,’ said Dr. Arthur L. Caplan, an expert in medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center. In an interview with Fox News in 2010, [Paul] lauded the organization’s tradition of fighting government intrusion into medicine, such as suing to stop the Clinton administration’s overhaul efforts in the 1990s and opposing the Affordable Care Act. He suggested that the association was expanding fast enough to rival the mainstream physicians’ group, the American Medical Association, which he said was out of step with doctors nationwide. ‘The A.M.A. has been struggling for years, and they do not represent doctors across the country,’ he said. ‘And AAPS has been growing dramatically as doctors who want to fight against big government join together under a different banner. The A.M.A. doesn’t represent me. I’ve never been a member.’ As recently as the summer of 2012, Mr. Paul was featured as a speaker at a teleconference town hall that the association hosted on the subject of Medicare reimbursement for doctors. The group has also provided the senator with modest contributions to his campaign, including $3,000 to his Senate candidacy in 2010…More than a decade ago, the group unsuccessfully urged the United States Supreme Court to release post-mortem photographs of a former Clinton administration official, Vincent Foster, arguing that they were needed to make certain that Mr. Foster, whose death was attributed to suicide, had not been murdered.”

Senator Paul’s involvement in rogue medical organizations that focused on economic financial advantages versus widely accepted standards of quality care did not begin with his involvement with the AAPS. During his early campaign activities, mainstream news reports were revealing Paul’s earlier role in setting up his own private competing ophthamological certifying boards to resist efforts of the accepted institutions to require ophthamologists to meet standards periodically in ten-year certifying tests to confirm the continuance of their skills and knowledge. Fox News published a report from the Associated Press that alleged the following:

“Rand Paul, who touts his career as a Kentucky eye doctor as part of his outsider credentials in his campaign for U.S. Senate, isn’t certified by his profession’s leading group. The libertarian-leaning Republican helped create a rival certification group more than a decade ago. He said the group has since recertified several hundred ophthalmologists, despite not being recognized the American Board of Medical Specialties – the governing group for two dozen medical specialty boards…Paul, who is continuing to practice in Bowling Green during the campaign, chafed Monday at questions about his certification. ‘It’s a personal assault on my ability to make a living,’ Paul told The Associated Press…’you vilify me and make it out to sound, “Oh, … there’s something wrong with him as a physician because he chose not to register“‘ with the American Board of Ophthalmology. Paul said he helped formed the rival group because the established organization exempted older ophthalmologists from re-certification…In the late 1990s, Paul was a driving force behind forming the National Board of Ophthalmology to protest the ABO’s exemption policy. Paul has been certified through the National Board of Ophthalmology since 2005. He is listed as the group’s president; his wife, Kelley, is listed as vice president; and his father-in-law is listed as secretary…Beth Ann Slembarski, administrator for the American Board of Ophthalmology, said less than 5 percent of the nation’s practicing ophthalmologists aren’t certified through her organization. Paul shrugged off his group’s lack of recognition by the American Board of Medical Specialties. ‘Do you think that they’re going to recognize a competitor?’ he said.”

In 2015 The Washington Post added,

“The board certified only 50 or 60 doctors, by Paul’s count, and was never accepted by the medical establishment. It failed partly because of resistance from the old guard — but also because Paul hurt his own cause with shortcuts and oversights that made his big effort seem small. The other officers of his board, for instance, weren’t ophthalmologists. They were his wife and father-in-law. His Web site was mainly a mission statement, and his mission statement had grammatical errors. And, after Paul missed a filing deadline in 2000, the state legally dissolved his board. Although Paul kept it operating, it remained unrecognized by the state until he officially revived it in 2005…Hilton Ashby, Paul’s father-in-law, was listed as the board’s secretary for much of its existence. Even he isn’t sure what he did. ‘I never did go to any meetings,’ Ashby said in a phone interview. ‘There was really nothing involved. It was more just a title than anything else, for me.’…Oddly, Paul also listed his address incorrectly in one filing with the state. In 2009, he signed the board’s annual report that said he, his wife and father-in-law resided at a house in Portsmouth, Ohio. But Paul lived in Bowling Green, as he does now. The occupant of the Ohio house at that time — a local pro wrestler and wrestling promoter named Dirk “Extreme” Cunningham — said in a phone interview that he’d never met Paul, and had no connection to the board…Most importantly, Paul never formally applied to have his board accepted by the American Board of Medical Specialties, the unofficial gatekeeper for new medical boards. Without its approval, Paul’s certification was close to useless. Many hospitals and insurance companies wouldn’t accept it as a valid credential.”

To be fair, Paul is not the only congressman affiliated with the AAPS organization. In February 2017, The Washington Post reported that Tom Price, who was being submitted as the Trump Administration’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, was a member of AAPS. They wrote,

“The Georgia Republican had already been a House member for a half-dozen years when he made the wisecrack at the 2011 annual meeting of a conservative, fringe medical group to which he belongs. Now that he appears on the cusp of Senate confirmation as the Trump administration’s secretary of health and human services, such remarks and his affiliations over a long career in medicine and politics shed light on the intensity of his beliefs — and show that he would lead a department whose mission and bureaucrats he has repeatedly deplored…The group, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), holds positions that are at wide variance with basics of federal health policy. It opposes Medicare, the government’s health insurance for older Americans…In 2009, Price received an award from a small conservative group called Doctors for Patient Freedom. The group was founded by a Florida neurosurgeon, David McKalip, who leads Florida’s chapter of the AAPS and is a past president of the Florida Neurosurgical Society. He gained brief notoriety that year after emailing to a tea party group an image depicting then-President Barack Obama in tribal dress with a bone through his nose…the AAPS had given [Price] its Shining Scalpel Award and praised him for “outstanding service to the American people and the profession of medicine by ‘cutting’ through the political rhetoric regarding ‘healthcare reform,’ and fighting for patient- and physician-centered healthcare legislation.”

The Corona-Virus/Hydroxychloroquine Deep State Conspiracy has been shown to be an ideal incident for the AAPS to enter the fray on the side of alleging that the entire global community of esteemed experts in immunology are part of an international cabal to destroy humanity, by means of discouraging the public from unnecessarily spreading a deadly pandemic disease by wearing a little cloth mask, staying away form large groups and exhibiting proper hygiene, as has been followed in all prior pandemics. By May 20, 2020, the aforementioned Dr. Simone Gold, the ring-leader of “America’s Frontline Doctors” along with her sidekick Dr. Stella Immanuel (the “Satanic ‘Magic 8-Ball’ as controller of our children” religious as well as medical expert), also formed another ad-hoc doctor’s organization called “A Doctor A Day” along with Newport Beach doctor Jeffrey Barke, intended to organize a petition of 600 doctors to implore President Trump to open the economy and remove any “stay at home” restrictions in the midst of the worst stages of the raging pandemic to date, and rather expose the public to carriers of the deadly virus to “protect their physical and mental health” (NOTE: today as I write this, I just saw my doctor to check on my statin drug dosage and get a mini-physical, give a blood sample and get a flu shot, as we all wore masks, and my health care (or mental health) was not impeded at all). Subsequently, in May 2020 it was reported that

“To collect signatures for the letter, Gold and Barke partnered with the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), a group of doctors who…notably took part in legal challenges against the Affordable Care Act and advocated allowing doctors to use hydroxychloroquine on themselves and their patients…Gold, who is a member of the national board of directors of the Save Our Country Coalition – an assortment of conservative groups that aim to ‘bring about a rapid, safe and responsible reopening of American society’ – also said that she feared that his message about the misdeeds of closures is becoming politicized.“

On May 21 The Hill added that “Some of the doctors who signed onto the letter are aligned with a small right-wing medical organization called the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS)…Gold said she does not belong to the group, but many of their members share her views about a fast reopening.”

By May, 24, 2020, the London-based Guardian newspaper gave additional details on what had become an international story as to the curious nature of President Trump’s infatuation with hydroxychloroquine, and his influences (more specifically, the AAPS) to embrace it and similar “rabbits out of a hat” in his search for quick solutions to deflect from critiques of his management of the crisis:

The group [AAPS] was recently cited by Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, to explain the president’s stunning announcement that he is taking the drug hydroxychloroquine in an attempt to protect himself against Covid-19 despite a lack of evidence of its effectiveness. When asked what evidence guided the president’s decision-making, Trump said: “Are you ready? Here’s my evidence: I get a lot of positive calls about it”…Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of AAPS, told the Guardian she believed the drug ‘should be prescribed more often,’ and in a statement based on a flawed database claimed the drug offered ‘about 90% chance of helping Covid-19 patients’…She did not say how many doctors she knew were prescribing it, and declined to answer whether she herself was prescribing it. ‘I don’t want to have a target put on my back … which could result in somebody wanting to scrutinize my entire practice,’ Orient said…’They seem frequently to offer advice and opinions about medical practice that are not consistent with evidence-based medicine,’ said Dr Michael Carome, an expert on drug and medical device safety at Public Citizen, a public advocacy group. ‘They’re aligned with the Trump administration, that doesn’t believe in science, doesn’t believe in fact. They’re completely compatible with the Trump White House‘…Trump’s first health and human services secretary, Tom Price, was a member of AAPS. In a 2011 video unearthed by the Washington Post, Price called Orient a ‘kindred” spirit.’ He said: ‘It’s always wonderful to be in the same room with Jane Orient. Jane has been a hero of mine.’ Price later resigned after spending $1m in taxpayer funds on private jets.”

They also show a May 19 tweet by Trump campaign manager Parscale that retweeted a story about the AAPS forwarding a letter to Arizona Governor Ducey about hydroxychrloquine’s supposed “90 percent effectiveness” (counter to several large-sample clinical trials), with Parscale adding that “The press is going nuts over @realDonaldTrump taking hydroxychloroquine (prescribed by doctor). Of course, if he’s doing it, they must oppose it. But the Assoc. of American Physicians & Surgeons says otherwise.”

By June 22, 2020 the AAPS released the following press release on their website:

“Today the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons filed its motion for a preliminary injunction to compel release to the public of hydroxychloroquine by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), in AAPS v. HHS, No. 1:20-cv-00493-RJJ-SJB (W.D. Mich.). Nearly 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) were donated to these agencies, and yet they have not released virtually any of it to the public. Millions of Americans fear attending political gatherings, religious services, and even large family get-togethers without the availability of early treatment if they were to contract COVID-19…’Why does the government continue to withhold more than 60 million doses of HCQ from the public?‘ asks Jane Orient, M.D., the Executive Director of AAPS. ‘This potentially life-saving medication is wasting away in government warehouses while Americans are dying from COVID-19.’ Today AAPS files its motion for a preliminary injunction to compel the government to release HCQ from its stockpile to the public…AAPS agrees with President Trump’s adviser Peter Navarro, Ph.D., who decries the obstruction by officials within the FDA to making this medication available to the public. President Trump himself has successfully taken this medication as a preventative measure, so why can’t ordinary Americans?A perfect storm of politics in this presidential election year, along with conflicts of interest at the Defendant federal agencies, has resulted in unjustified obstacles to access to HCQ’…AAPS writes in its brief being filed today in federal court. AAPS files with the court a chart showing how countries that encourage HCQ use, such as South Korea, India, Turkey, Russia, and Israel, have been far more successful in combatting COVID-19 than countries that have banned or discouraged early HCQ use, as the FDA has…’The interference with public access to hydroxychloroquine is disrupting our political processes,’ notes AAPS General Counsel Andrew Schlafly. “Perhaps that is what some want, in order to deter Americans from attending political conventions and even voting…‘”

When I saw the name of “Andrew Schlafly,” the general counsel of the AAPS, I knew that name rang a bell, in addition to being the son of what is undeniably the most effective conservative activist in American history (rivaled only by Ronald Reagan himself), Phyllis Schlafly. I had to go back and find a February 2017 blog post I had made about Andrew Schlafly, as the eccentric founder of “Conservapedia” and the “Conservative Bible.” I know this is a long excerpt of an older blog post of mine within and already very long blog post, but I think it illustrates the kind of crowd we are dealing with, with the AAPS, Dr. Gold and “America’s Frontline Doctors” and other hydroxchloroquine advocates, if any of us have any doubts:

This post topic came to mind the other day when I was reminded of a recent project I heard about that created a “Conservative Bible”…It was overseen by Andrew Schlafly, the originator of the Wikipedia variant “Conservapedia” (which only features data supporting conservative worldviews), and the son of conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly.  As a “grand dame” of the conservative movement, she shook the political world in 1964 with her book A Choice Not an Echo, and is recognized by historians by almost singlehandedly defeating the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, after it had almost passed enough state legislations, by means of her aggressive organization and activism.  Her organization “The Eagle Forum” was a bastion of conservative family and moral issues and their political and legal defense, and a prototype for later conservative “family” organizations.  As a staunch religiously-conservative Roman Catholic and defender of traditional Christian family values and role models, she embraced Donald Trump as such a role model and his 2016 campaign (ironically her son was also eventually “outed” as a practicing homosexual).  Her work also promoted the conservative values of unbridled capitalism (aka the Social Darwinist credo of “each man for himself”) and privatization to corporate control of the public interest.  And true to these values of unregulated corporate behavior, Schlafly’s own beloved Eagle Forum organization was subject to some type of hostile takeover by members of her own board of directors, including her own daughter, shortly before her death in 2016.  The cited online reference from its Missouri branch wrote that “Word has come of a rogue board meeting and an upcoming hostile takeover of Eagle Forum’s board and its assets. Phyllis Schlafly’s endorsement of Trump is a likely catalyst. But you can be sure the real objective is to control the Eagle Forum bank accounts and that the Gang of 6 will present a carefully crafted excuse for public consumption”.  She told World Net Daily that the coup was real and that “this may be my Dobson moment (when the board of Focus on the Family similarly forced founder James Dobson out), was based upon her endorsement of Trump, and was led by her own daughter.”

Her son, Andrew Schlafly, is a “chip of the old block” who has forged his own conservative venues, such as his online resource “Conservapedia”, which is intended to be a Wikipedia-like information source with only conservative-approved information.  A brilliant person himself with an engineering degree from Princeton and a doctorate from Harvard Law School, he founded Conservapedia in 2006 when he was alarmed to read a student assignment (as a homeschool teacher) using the now-accepted Common Era (C.E.) historical dating nomenclature, versus the Anno Domini (A.D.) earlier tradition.  Schlafly objectively explains on the “About” page on his Conservapedia site that “Conservapedia is a clean and concise resource for those seeking the truth.  We do not allow liberal bias to deceive and distort here.  Founded initially in November 2006 as a way to educate advanced, college-bound homeschoolers, this resource has grown into a marvelous source of information for students, adults and teachers alike”.   He adds that “We have received over 500 million page views!”, and notes that “A conservative approach to education is powerful and helpful in many ways. It equips students and adults to overcome inevitable obstacles, such as addiction and depression…There are few, if any, conservative schools…The truth shall set you free..No other encyclopedic resource on the internet is free of corruption by liberal untruths.”

To get a feel of the type of narrative and perspective provided on Conservapedia, a look at its front page on February 21, 2017 notes that its “popular articles” include those on “global warming”, “feminism”, “homeschooling”, “evolution”, “liberal claptrap”, “hollywood values”, “biblical scientific foreknowledge”, “Donald Trump”, “free market”, “George Patton”, “Globalism”, “Conservapedia proven right”, “Ex-homosexuals”, “Battle of Thermopylae”, “greatest conservative songs”, “counterexamples to relativity”, “liberal bias”, “liberal style”, “Chuck Norris”, “bias in Wikipedia”, “Mystery: Why do Non-Conservatives Exist?”, “Barack Hussein Obama” and “Professor Values”, to name a few.  It also features a late-breaking “In the News” segment, with story titles such as “White House Signals Reversal in Transgender Bathroom Policy, overturning another Leftist policy by Obama”, “Trump was Right: Riots Break Out in Rinkeby, Sweden”, “Conservapedia Proven Right, Again”, “More fake news by the lamestream media”, and “Melania Trump Recites the Lord’s Prayer at Melbourne Rally – CROWD GOES WILD!”, and many other such reference citations for academics and researchers.

Regarding its rival Wikipedia, its Conservapedia page dedicated to it notes that “Most of Wikipedia’s articles can be edited publicly by both registered and anonymous editors, mostly consisting of teenagers and the unemployed.  As such it tends to project a liberal – and, in some cases, even socialist, Communist, and Nazi-sympathizing-worldview, which is totally at odds with conservative reality and rationality” (emphasis added).  It notes that Wikipedia founders Jimbo Wales and “atheist philosophy professor Larry Sanger” are both atheists, and that “its articles are a mixture of truths, half-truths and falsehoods,” quoting World Net Daily editor Joseph Farah as saying that Wikipedia “is not only a provider of inaccuracy and bias.  It is wholesale purveyor of lies and slander unlike any other the world has ever seen.” It does fairly point out that “Wikipedia has millions of entries on trivia and mundane topics”, but smacks of that “systemic liberal bias that dominates Wikipedia”.  They also perceptively point out that “the ‘hammer and sickle’ of the leftist ideology which murdered millions in the former Soviet Union – is featured prominently on the instruction page as well as the tags that mark each uploaded image.”  They are also known at Conservapedia for taking a strong stand against what they perceive to be one of the greatest threats to political conservatism – Einstein’s general theory of relativity in physics.  Their page on the “theory of relativity” begins by warning that “The theory of relativity is defended with religious-like zeal, such that no college faculty tenure, Ph.D degree, or Nobel Prize is ever awarded to anyone who dares criticize the theory,” and its article titles within this topic comprise those such as “Lack of Evidence for Relativity”, and “Experiments that Fail To Prove Relativity.”  They note that “Despite censorship of dissent about relativity, evidence contrary to the theory is discussed outside of liberal universities.”  They add that “some liberal politicians have extrapolated the theory of relativity to metaphorically justify their own political agendas…Applications of the theory of relativity to change morality have also been common.”   The article is associated at its conclusion with other wiki topics, such as “Liberal pseudoscience”, which includes “Black holes”, dark matter” and “moral relativism”.  On the dedicated Conservapedia page “Counterexamples to Relativity”, they begin by noting that “The theory of relativity is disproved by numerous counterexamples, but it promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to pull people away from the Bible.”  This leads the prominent scientific magazine New Scientist to state, “In the end there is no liberal conspiracy at work.  Unfortunately, humanities scholars often confuse the issue by misusing the term ‘relativity’.  The theory in no way encourages relativism, regardless of what Conservapedia may think.”

Conservapedia does provide some pages with useful definitions of popular political terms today we can use for this post.  In their page on the topic “Liberal,” emblazoned with a picture of “Barack Hussein Obama” and stated to be the “least successful president in history,” states at the beginning that “A liberal is someone who craves an increase in government spending, power, and control, such as Obamacare.  Liberals also support the censorship and denial of Christianity.  Liberals who are a part of the secular left prefer the atheist religion over the Christian faith, as atheism has no objective morality to hinder their big government plans.” They add that “Liberals favor a welfare state where people receive endless entitlements without working,” and that “All liberals support, in knee-jerk fashion, the oppositive of conservative principles, while lacking an actual ideology or values of their own.  Many of them cannot understand Christian language.”  They are also known for (a) “Denial of science (especially creation science),” (b) “Hypocrisy,” (c) “The belief that terrorism is not a huge threat, and that the main reason for Muslim extremists’ hostility towards America is because of bad foreign policy,” (d) “Hedonism,” (e) “Rejection of Biblical standards,” (f) “Hatred,” (g) “Murder,” (h) “crying instead of accepting reality,” (i) “Cessation of teacher-led prayer in classrooms,” (h) “tyranny,” (i) “Treason,” (j) “pseudo-intellectualism”, (k) “genocide”, (l) “fascism”, (m) “Destroying conservative family values and replacing them with immoral Hollywood values”, (n) “High progressive taxes as a form of class warfare against wealthy business owners”, (o) “Sadism”, (p) “racism”, (q) “slander”, (r) “Obesity”, (s) “environmentalism”, (t) pedophilia”, (u) “mutilating corpses”, (v) “enforced homosexuality”, and many more unsavory attributes.  They add that, “In practical usage, the term ‘liberal’ is more closely synonymous with ‘radical’, ‘immoral’, ‘anti-freedom’, ‘elitist’, or ‘bad’”.  Their list of ‘Notable liberal ‘intellects’” includes “Barack Hussein Obama”, “Dracula”, “David Thorstad, a founding member of NAMBLA”, “Adolf Hitler”, “Karl Marx’, “Lee Harvey Oswald”, “Benito Mussolini”, “Margaret Thatcher” (for decriminalizing homosexuality), and “Osama Bin Laden”.  Their list of “Liberal Organizations” included AARP, AFL-CIO and others.

It also has a page dedicated to “Conservatism”. On it, it notes that “A conservative is someone who rises above his personal self-interest and promotes moral and economic values beneficial to all.  A conservative is willing to learn and advocate the insights of economics and the logic of the Bible for the benefit of everyone else.  A conservative favors conserving value by not giving handouts to anyone who does not really need them”. Regarding their “goals and principles”, they note that conservatives seek or support “capitalism and free markets”, “classroom prayer”, “the concept of retribution for crimes, including the death penalty for heinous murders proven beyond reasonable doubt”, “family values, including traditional relationships and division of labor within the household” (emphasis added), “The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms”, “Economic allocative efficiency (as opposed to popular equity)”, “Private medical care and retirement plans”, “cancelling failed social support programs”, “enforcement of current laws regarding immigration”, “respect for our military – past and present”, “rejection of junk science such as evolution and global warming”, “a strong national defense”, “A dedication to the truth, and an ability to seek it”, and “ending entitlement programs”, amongst others.”

“The contribution Schlafly and Conservapedia is most known for is their origination of the “Conservative Bible” translation.  The Conservapedia page on the “Conservative Bible Project”  notes that its goal is to “render God’s word into modern English without archaic language and liberal translation distortions”.  They add that the first draft of the Conservative New Testament was completed on April 23, 2010, and many of the Old Testament books are completed as well.  It adds that “Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations”, and that “the third – and largest – source of translation error requires conservative principles to reduce and eliminate”.  It notes that “As of 2009, there was no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines”, including “Framework against Liberal Bias”, “Not Emasculated”, “Combat Harmful Addiction”, “Express Free Market Parables” (“explaining the numerous economic parables in their full free-market meaning”), “Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness”, and “Exclude Later-inserted Inauthentic Passages” (i.e., “excluding the interpolated passages that liberals commonly put their own spin on, such as the adulteress story”).  It notes that the “benefits” of the new Conservative Bible include “benefiting from activity that no public school would ever allow; a Conservative Bible could become a text for public school courses”, “political issues can become a pathway to evangelizing liberals”, and “this project has a unifying effect on various Christian denominations, and serves as an important counterweight to liberal efforts to divide conservative candidates based on religion”.  Some of the “Helpful Approaches” that are cited from the Conservative Bible include to “identify pro-liberal terms used in existing Bible translations, such as ‘government’, and suggest more accurate substitutes”, and “identify conservative terms that are omitted from existing translations”. They add that “Many consider the Conservative Bible project, as well as any other Bible translation projects, to be heretical and in opposition to Matthew 5:18, which was fulfilled in the King James Bible”.  They use as examples of censored Bible passages in the Conservative Bible such as Luke 23:34, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’” (adding that, “Is this a corruption of the original, perhaps promoted by liberals without regard to its authenticity?”, since “This quotation is a favorite of liberals”), as well as Luke 16:8, where they change the “shrewd” manager of Christ’s parable to “resourceful”.  Among the “Advantages to a Conservative Bible” they list include “liberal bias – and lack of authenticity – becomes easier to recognize and address”, “supported by conservative principles, the project can be bolder in uprooting and excluding liberal distortions”, “the ensuing debate would flesh out – and stop – the infiltration of churches by liberals/atheists pretending to be Christian, much as a vote by legislators exposes the liberals”, “this would bring the Bible to a new audience of political types, for their benefit; Bible courses in college Politics Departments would be welcome”, and “this would debunk the pervasive and hurtful myth that Jesus would be a political liberal today”.

As example of the improvements provided by the Conservative Bible, in the Sermon on the Mount on Matthew 5 it says Jesus “began His Torah” instead of “He opened His mouth”, and states “Blessed are those who are not full of themselves” rather than “Blessed are the poor in spirit”.  In 2009 Stephen Colbert interviewed Schlafly about his Conservative Bible on his “Colbert Report” show .  There he states that Jesus’ parables were “free market parables”.  Salon Magazine actually listed verses from the Conservative Bible, where the term “Pharisees” has been changed to “liberals”, so that Mark 3:6 reads, “The Liberals then fled from the scene to plot with Herod’s people against Jesus, and plan how they might destroy Him”, and in Mark 10:23-25. they change Christ’s words “for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” to “for an idle miser to enter into the kingdom of God”.

I think this excerpt from an earlier blog post of mine reveals how people like Mr. Schlafly fit with the AAPS, Drs. Gold and Immanuel, and the hydroxychloroquine and Trump crowds, and their allegations of widespread conspiracy and exorcism of inconvenient “fake news.” 

As a bonus bit of material on Mother Schlafly herself, I have also noticed a mention of her in a 2006 biography of her that “Schlafly and other “moral conservatives” revolted at the 1960 Republican convention after Richard Nixon supported a civil rights plank (proposed by Nelson Rockefeller) demanding “aggressive action” against segregation and discrimination.” More importantly, I also bumped into an April 22, 2020 article in The Daily Beast writes that

Phyllis Schlafly was a secret member of the John Birch Society, the far-right group infamous for its support of segregation and its belief that a communist conspiracy had taken over the United States, according to documents newly obtained by researcher Ernie Lazar through FOIA requests…Throughout her life, Schlafly insisted she had never been part of the far-right group , as in a 1975 New York Times article that noted “Mrs. Schlafly’s opponents have hinted in the past that her campaign was financed by money from the John Birch Society. She denies it, as well as, denying having ever belonged to the ultraconservative organization.” Contradicting that claim was none other than the founder and chief of the Society, candy manufacturer Robert Welch, who referred to Schlafly as “a very loyal member of the Birch Society” in the February 1960 issue of the JBS Bulletin. But with Schlafly herself insisting otherwise, that could hardly be considered definitive.

In 1962, the JBS was the only group proposing that Barry Goldwater be the Republican candidate for president. That stance, and the group’s growing unpopularity with the public at large, led conservative opponents including American Enterprise Institute head William Baroody, philosopher Russel Kirk, and National Review editor William F. Buckley Jr., to meet in Palm Beach, Florida in January of 1964 to discuss the possibility of Goldwater running for president…In the next issue of National Review, Buckley wrote a 5,000-word attack on Welch, who had declared in 1958 that “my firm belief that Dwight Eisenhower is a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy is based on an accumulation of detailed evidence so extensive and so palpable that it seems to me to put this conviction beyond any reasonable doubt.” Welch added that the government of the United States was “under operational control of the Communist party.”

Hence, the dilemma facing Schlafly. As a major proponent of a Goldwater candidacy, and author of her own 1964 book favoring his run, A Choice, Not an Echo, Schlafly was now on the map as a principal figure who attacked the old GOP elite establishment and demanded that a true conservative and opponent of Communism become the party’s nominee and standard bearer. “Hundreds of thousands of copies were distributed in California before the crucial primary election and the national convention there,” The New York Times reported. In 2016, Schlafly — whose fight against the ERA is now the subject of a new FX on Hulu docudrama, Mrs. America, starring Cate Blanchett — penned her final book, The Conservative Case for Trump. In it, she argued that he represented the resurgence of the populist and nationalist movement she had always supported, as “on issue after issue Donald Trump has said what we’ve been told is the unsayable.”

Yet Schlafly denied to the end that she ever was a JBS member. I speculate that because it was because the group was so widely mocked and reviled — including in the Bob Dylan song Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues and The John Birch Society by the Chad Mitchell Trio, then featuring John Denver, both issued in 1962 — that she feared the association would have damaged first Goldwater and then her anti-ERA campaign. After that, perhaps it was too late for her to admit the deception now fully exposed by the new documents shared by Lazar. In the first of those, Schlafly wrote a letter on her personal stationary to Verne Kaub, head of the American Council of Christian Laymen in Madison, Wisconsin. She would be happy, she wrote on December 5, 1959, “to send you the list of persons who attended Bob Welch’s meeting.” She then added: “The John Birch Society is doing a (sic) wonderful work, and my husband and I both joined promptly after the Chicago meeting.” On August 19, 1964, Welch wrote a five-page letter addressed to Mrs. Tom Anderson, rather than by her own name Carolyn. The letter concerned books that the Society was pushing that would impugn Lyndon B. Johnson and praise Barry Goldwater. Welch was concerned that some JBS members had “made some brief rumblings” about their discontent that the Society was discouraging any “mass exploitation of Phyllis Schlafly’s A CHOICE NOT AN ECHO by The American Opinion Library in Nashville.” They took this course, he said, at “the request of Schlafly herself.” Despite some disagreement with her over one or two issues he did not specify, Welch wrote that her book was “excellent, and was going to be very helpful in the [Goldwater] campaign.”

Nevertheless, he noted that some top campaign officials were “extremely fearful” that the book’s influence could be harmed “if they could tie it in any way to the John Birch Society, and that any such development might actually damage rather than help the total Goldwater cause.” Next, Welch presented the bombshell. “Phyllis even resigned from the Society,” he wrote, “when she brought the book out, in order to avoid this possibility.” And with her “full knowledge and even appreciation,” Welch continued, “her book was never mentioned in the Bulletin of the Society nor even in American Opinion,” the Society’s magazine. Welch took care never to have her books shipped to them in bulk, or carried it in their wholesale department. Nonetheless, 300,000 books were distributed in California by the Society, ahead of the state’s primary and the party’s convention there that year. They were careful not to distribute them through Society bookstores “to any sufficient extent as to give the enemy a lever with which to raise the storm and smear that they would have liked to bring about.

Today, the conspiratorial mindset of the JBS lives on in the MAGA movement cheered on by the Society itself, which is still limping along. In a December 2016 interview in American Opinion, new CEO Arthur R. Thompson said…the Society’s job now is to keep Trump honest, noting that most of his campaign issues “were issues that our Society pioneered…when no other organization would touch them.” Trump’s movement, he boasted, “was created by the members of the John Birch Society, directly or indirectly.”

You can now see how with AAPS’s Andrew Schlafly, the “nut doesn’t fall far from the tree” (with emphasis on nut), and the generations-old playbook of how the right-wing fringe and their more popular public figures have become adept at covering their tracks, including the figures and forces behind the COVID/hydroxychloroquine conspiracy political agenda.

By July 22, the AAPS reported on their own website that

“This week the Association of American Physicians & Surgeons submitted additional evidence to a federal court for why interference with hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) should end by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), in AAPS v. FDA…AAPS informed the court in its filing [that] “Countries with underdeveloped health care systems are using HCQ early and attaining far lower mortality than in the United States, where [HHS and the FDA] impede access to HCQ”…“Citizens of the Philippines, Poland, Israel, and Turkey all have greater access to HCQ than American citizens do,” observes AAPS General Counsel Andrew Schlafly. “In Venezuela, HCQ is available over the counter without a prescription…In its filing, the FDA insisted that the public has no right to access nearly 100 million doses of HCQ which were donated to the Strategic National Stockpile…”In some areas of Central America, officials are even going door to door to distribute HCQ,” Andrew Schlafly adds. AAPS filed this lawsuit to obtain legal redress in support of Trump, by ending the obstruction by the FDA of his policies that would save lives.”

So…we should emulate “countries with underdeveloped health care systems,” as well as Israel and Venezuela in their government policies and strategies? Why not mention Brazil? And who who donated the supposed “100 million doses of HCQ to the Strategic National Stockpile?

This “brief” (ahem) background information to the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) was intended to assist you in putting into proper perspective the following online position of the AAPS on their website (from July 31) concerning Dr. Gold’s predicament (pertaining to her recent job loss, as mentioned earlier in this post), and to be fair, it actually does admit some real truths as to why a maverick doctor like Dr. Gold would be in jeopardy of her job with her very public, aggressive profile and dissident views, and the impact it has on her mainstream medical institution employer and their own standing within the medical community and public:

A doctor who is employed or has contracts with managed care is not really YOUR doctor, and constantly has to worry about what happened to Dr. Simone Gold, as reported by Tucker Carlson on July 30. After holding a press conference in Washington, D.C., she was fired from her job as an emergency physician. Previously, she had been reprimanded for prescribing hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for COVID-19Under the First Amendment, the U.S. Congress cannot violate your right to assemble and speak, but this does not apply to private entities. Most doctors have signed a contract permitting their employer to terminate them without cause. They have virtually no rights. Dr. Stella Immanuel, who gave a powerful talk at the conference, is in private practice and works for her patients. But like all licensed professionals, she could lose her privilege to work if the medical licensure board disapproves of what she says or does. She has been making her COVID-19 patients well (dare we say “curing” them?) by prescribing HCQ. After the press conference had garnered more than 20 million views, the social media giants took it down, and the website was deplatformed. They found a new platform, and America’s Frontline Doctors are back. The press conference was also preserved.

AAPS is right in this regard. A private employer who pays you to represent them and their board policies and community standing (intended to tamp down eccentric individuals who deviate from established, widely agreed-upon policies and procedures, to protect the public and the reputation of the medical community) has a right to defend the interests of the collective of medical professionals in their organization, the hospital and the organization itself when doctors go “rogue.” She presumably had signed a contract with this institution, agreeing to honor these policies as long as she was paid by them and represented them. Furthermore, she was generously warned by her employer to stop her deviant and very public activities prior to her dismissal, which she publicly ignored. The honorable thing for her to have done, if she were so convinced of the immediate public peril of not using the drug, was to honor her legal and employer restrictions and resign first – with the deep pockets of the Tea Party (as shown in the last post) more than capable of making her a well-paid, Balaam-styled “gun for hire.” Similarly, “Magic 8-Ball” Dr. Immanuel could be in jeopardy of her licensure with her discredited positions and posture that she has made front and center in the public, on behalf of a partisan political organization; if a license board does not police people for her eccentric positions, particularly when they could endanger the public health in her community and nationwide during a deadly pandemic rife with misinformation to which the ignorant and gullible public is vulnerable to when hearing short-cut “good news” via “patent medicine,” than what good are they for in ensuring the public interest?

A position of the medical “establishment” at any time may be debatable, and procedures have been established in the past for dissenting minority views within their practices to be debated, vetted, and long-term studies reviewed and repeated by differing institutions to slowly and carefully move the consensus in a responsible way. But, when one “goes rogue” by appealing directly to partisan political entities with a vested stake in the position, and then directly to an ignorant public with accusations of “widespread conspiracy” and appeals for immediate political hamstringing of accepted medical guidance, what does this do to the long-term integrity of a medical community we have all come to rely upon, even while investigators perform their role in keeping them honest, exposing fraud and corruption, and informing the public debate in fully vetted fashion? Do we now place yet another institution previously held to the highest degree of integrity and credibility practicable by means of licensing, peer review vetting and internal debates now subject to the whims of whoever makes the most exciting and scandalous pitch to the unlearned (or who can yell the loudest using the deep pockets and PR tools of special interests), like The National Inquirer, and a “Wild West” of “anything goes,” in which everything is “fake news” and nothing can be relied upon except our primal hunches and urges of what we want to hear? Are we now entering an era where the “Doctor Frankensteins” who refuse to be constrained by a moral deliberative medical establishment decide to “go rogue” and fire up the electrical laboratories and create “new life” with medical and ethical short cuts, convinced of their crusade by their own internal perverted moral justifications, and the impact to society for the short cuts be damned?

Another report on July 30 noted that

Frontline doctors from across the US held a “White Coat Summit” on Monday in Washington DC to dispel the misinformation and myths surrounding the coronavirus. The doctors are very concerned with the disinformation campaign being played out in the far left American media today. From their website: “If Americans continue to let so-called experts and media personalities make their decisions, the great American experiment of a Constitutional Republic with Representative Democracy, will cease.” Dr. Simone Gold, a board certified emergency physician, spoke this week at the White Coat Summit. After over 18 million views of their conference on Monday Google, YouTube and Facebook removed their videos. On Thursday night Dr. Gold told Tucker Carlson that she was fired from her position after 20 years as an emergency room physician because she appeared at the White Coat Summit this week. Dr. Simone Gold also told Tucker Carlson she has hired respected Attorney Lin Wood to represent her.

Among Dr. Gold’s many crusading conservative media interviews was with Glenn Beck, in an online-preserved interview entitled, “There’s More to the Left’s Hydroxychloroquine Hate.” Of course, Alex Jones was not one to miss such action, forwarding a story on the firing by the equally-incendiary Zero Hedge, with the obligatory opening line, “Just days after the establishment – via its Big Tech partners and liberal media propagandists – entirely disappeared a viral video of a dozen doctors discussing their real-life experiences of treating COVID-19.”

Videos from the notorious White Coat Summit of July 27-28, 2020 by America’s Frontline Doctors can still be seen on their website, including Dr. Gold, talks on “Medical Cancel Culture,” “Fear,” “Hydroxychloroquine’s USA Clinical  Experience” and “Doctor to Doctor” (featuring “Magic 8-Ball” Stella Immanuel), “Hoaxes in the Covid-19 era” and “Follow the Money.”

Well – the narrative so far was, of course, the mere preamble of the real story I see here. So, where did up to 100 million doses of hydroxychloroquine come from, for what agenda, what happened to them, as does it involve Dr. Gold at all, or even her strong promotion on Facebook of the nation state Israel?

I have no idea.

Just kidding! I wouldn’t have you read this long if I didn’t have any clues. To start our investigation, before we document those details let’s consider this first story by The Times of Israel, from April 2020, which considers the latest scientific data from both the U.S. and Israel regarding the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine for COVID mitigation:

A malaria drug widely touted by US President Donald Trump for treating the new coronavirus and stockpiled by Israel showed no benefit in a large analysis of its use in American veterans hospitals. There were more deaths among those given hydroxychloroquine versus standard care, researchers reported. The nationwide study was not a rigorous experiment. But with 368 patients, it’s the largest look so far at hydroxychloroquine with or without the antibiotic azithromycin for COVID-19…The study was posted on an online site for researchers and has not been reviewed by other scientists. Grants from the National Institutes of Health and the University of Virginia paid for the work. About 28 percent who were given hydroxychloroquine plus usual care died, versus 11% of those getting routine care alone. About 22% of those getting the drug plus azithromycin died too, but the difference between that group and usual care was not considered large enough to rule out other factors that could have affected survival. Hydroxychloroquine made no difference in the need for a breathing machine, either. Researchers did not track side effects, but noted a hint that hydroxychloroquine might have damaged other organs. The drug has long been known to have potentially serious side effects, including altering the heartbeat in a way that could lead to sudden death. 

Israel has stockpiled both chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine on the assumption that if trials find that it is beneficial in the treatment of COVID-19 this would spark a buying war for the drugs. Speaking to the financial daily Globes last week, Prof. Ronni Gamzu, a former director general of the Health Ministry who now heads the Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, said the hospital had used chloroquine, but had seen no evidence of its efficacy in treating COVID-19. Jacob Moran-Gilad, a member of the Health Ministry’s Epidemic Management Team, told The Times of Israel earlier this month that Israeli doctors are allowed to prescribe hydroxychloroquine to their patients, and some are doing so. But he stressed: “The fact there is a stockpile of the drug does not mean there is official endorsement or encouragement to liberally use this drug.” Moran-Gilad said that the Epidemic Management Team discussed whether to give hospitals any directions regarding hydroxychloroquine, and decided not to. “At the moment there is no official guidance or endorsement by the Health Ministry that it should be used for COVID-19,” he said. “We discussed this in the national management team and we decided not to give guidance as there is no data to support the use of this drug.”

Earlier this month, scientists in Brazil stopped part of a study testing chloroquine after heart rhythm problems developed in one-quarter of people given the higher of two doses being tested. On Tuesday, the NIH issued new treatment guidelines from a panel of experts, saying there was not enough evidence to recommend for or against chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19. But it also advised against using hydroxychloroquine with azithromycin because of the potential side effects. Many doctors have been leery of the drug. At the University of Wisconsin, Madison, “I think we’re all rather underwhelmed” at what’s been seen among the few patients there who’ve tried it, said Dr. Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control and prevention.

This revelation of hydroxychloroquine’s inadequacy was announced on April 22, 2020. A month prior to that, the Israeli press made another announcement about Israeli’s largest company – a pharmaceutical company – going “all in” on hydroxychloroquine:

The global Israeli company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is donating more than 6 million doses of hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets to hospitals across the United States to meet the urgent demand for the medicine as an investigational target to treat COVID-19…“Immediately upon learning of the potential benefit of hydroxychloroquine, Teva began to assess supply and to urgently acquire additional ingredients to make more product while arranging for all of what we had to be distributed immediately,” said Brendan O’Grady, Teva Executive Vice President, North America Commercial. “We are committed to helping to supply as many tablets as possible as demand for this treatment accelerates at no cost.” O’Grady said that additional production of hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets is also being assessed and subsequently ramped up with materials that are being sent to Teva from its ingredient supplier. Teva will ship 6 million tablets through wholesalers to hospitals by March 31, and more than 10 million within a month. The company is also reviewing supply of both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine globally to determine whether there are additional supply and access opportunities for patients. Teva is a global leader in generic and specialty medicines with a portfolio consisting of over 3,500 products in nearly every therapeutic area. Teva provides more than 10% of the US drug supply, providing American patients with approximately 1 out of 7 prescriptions they take.

Israel’s political lobbyists and advocates wasted no time politicizing the Israeli connection to the supplying of hydroxychloroquine. Three days later (March 25), the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University posted an article entitled, “The Coronoavirus Pandemic: Israel Is America’s Friend in Deed,” stating that

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: When President Donald Trump and other medical professionals touted the decades-old antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible means of fighting the coronavirus pandemic, the Israeli generic drug giant Teva (the most popular big pharma stock on Wall Street) immediately announced that it will provide 10 million doses of its hydroxychloroquine drug to US hospitals free of charge. Rep. Rashida Tlaib and her fellow American detractors of Israel who claim that Israel does nothing but take from the US owe Israel an apology.

“We are committed to helping to supply as many tablets as possible as demand for this treatment accelerates, at no cost,” Teva executive vice president Brendan O’Grady said. Teva is the world’s leading generic drug manufacturer, employing 43,000 employees around the globe. In 2018, Teva produced 120 billion tablets, with one in nine generic prescriptions in the US containing the company’s productsMany American detractors of Israel are giving a new airing to the myth that the Jewish state receives the lion’s share of US military aid. The suggestion conjures the demon of an all-powerful Israel lobby that has turned the US Congress into its pawn. Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota Democrat Ilhan Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, are at the forefront of those detractors. President Donald Trump, along with many others, view Rep. Tlaib and her compatriots within the Democratic Party as antisemites, a perception they bolster by repeating the slander about Israel’s aid relationship with the US. The reality is that the US’s alliance with Israel is based on two key factors: intelligence sharing and ideological unity, according to Michael Koplow, a Middle East analyst at the Israel Policy Forum. The Teva announcement is clear evidence of this ideological unity…Another Israeli drug cited as possibly helpful is remdesivir, an experimental antiviral from Gilead Sciences. Israel and the US coordinate scientific and cultural exchanges and have bilateral economic relations…The top five US imports from Israel are diamonds, pharmaceutical products, semiconductors, medicinal equipment, and telecommunications equipment…The politicians, pundits, and IR scholars who accuse Israel and the Israel lobby of extracting the lion’s share of US military aid from a gullible Congress are either themselves hopelessly gullible or know full well that they are spreading lies. Israel receives a small fraction of the real outlays of military assistance the US indirectly gives its allies and other countries. These experts, if they are in fact experts, should also know that 74% of military aid to Israel was spent on American arms, equipment, and services. Under the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding, that figure will be changed to 100%. The experts simply cite the wrong statistics.

However, by mid-June, Israeli authorities were frustrated that all the free hydroxychloroquine provided to U.S. states and hospitals had gone unused – possibly due to the findings of its ineffectual use for COVID in both the U.S., Israel and elsewhere. By June 15 the news wire the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that

The state of Florida has not distributed most of the 1 million doses of the drug hydroxychloroquine, often used as a drug of last resort to help patients with COVID-19, which were provided free from the Israeli drug maker Teva Pharmaceuticals. The drug arrived in Florida in two shipments in April in a deal that Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said was facilitated by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Politico reported. Only a handful of hospitals have requested access to the hydroxychloroquine stockpile, according to the report. About 20,000 doses of the drug have been distributed to the hospitals, and the state is sitting on the 980,000 others, while patients with lupus, who rely on hydroxychloroquine to stave off organ damage, pain and disability, are having trouble finding the drug and in some cases are being forced to pay triple or to substitute the more expansive brand-name version, Plaquenil, the Fort Myers News-Press reported Saturday. President Donald Trump has publicly called hydroxychloroquine a “game changer” in reducing the effects of the coronavirus and promoted it in his daily briefings and on Twitter. His recent medical report made public by the White House showed that the president had been taking the drug prophylactically. Trump had to get involved in order for Florida to receive the drug since Teva manufactures the drug in India, where officials did not allow shipment to leave the country. DeSantis asked Trump to speak to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who agreed to make the exception for the United States, DeSantis told a news conference in April, according to Politico.

So – Israel and President Trump facilitated Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis, himself a sycophant of Trump and one of his biggest supporters, including his repeated denials of a statewide COVID “problem” in Florida, while it was raging particularly in the southern part of the state, as he insisted keeping the Miami and other beaches open and crowded during the explosion in cases. He, Trump and evidently Israel all saw an opportunity to be had with a publicly-perceived hydroxychloroquine “miracle” that they could display. So – if these millions of doses were provided “free,” then what advantage existed for this for-profit, mega-pharmaceutical global corporation?

A little more can be known about the Israeli pharmaceutical company Teva from a page on their website, called, “Our History“:

Since Teva’s establishment in Jerusalem in 1901, our aim has been to help patients live longer, healthier lives… Today its shares are listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, NASDAQ and the New York Stock Exchange. In 1976, Assia merged with fellow Israeli pharma companies Zori and Teva to form Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Israel’s largest healthcare company…A year later the company started to expand internationally…In 1987 Teva secured its foothold in the US market through a joint venture with W.R. Grace, which in turn acquired Lemmon in Sellersville, Pennsylvania…During this period of significant growth, the company assumed leadership of the US generics sector and made major acquisitions in North America, Europe and other key markets.

The original press release by Teva, offering an initial ten million doses of hydroxychloroquine to U.S. hospitals, appears to have been first released on March 20. Meanwhile, the White House website features a transcript of a March 19 press conferencethe day before – by President Trump, suddenly announcing the mysterious “miracle pill” solution of hydroxychloroquine, which has been surprisingly made available to U.S. health care providers in large quantities. Are we not to believe that these actions were not coordinated behind closed doors beforehand, for their mutual ambitions?

President Trump stated at the press conference that the FDA had approved the drug for COVID treatment, although they evidently had only approved for academic clinical trials.  Almost immediately, preemptive hoarding and prescriptions for currently-healthy subjects – even provided over the counter and by medical personnel such as dentists – was creating shortages for sufferers of lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients who urgently relied upon the drug, while Trump noted in his press conference the justification for his hard push on the FDA to promote it as, “I feel good about it. That’s all it is. Just a feeling. You know, I’m a smart guy.”

By May 25, National Public Radio and other outlets were reporting that “The World Health Organization says it is temporarily halting its clinical trials that use hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients over published concerns that the drug may do more harm than good. The move comes after the medical journal The Lancet reported on Friday that patients getting hydroxychloroquine were dying at higher rates than other coronavirus patients.” They added that “The WHO has 3,500 patients from 17 countries enrolled in what it calls the Solidarity Trial. This is an effort overseen by the WHO to find new treatments for COVID-19. The patients in the trial have been randomly assigned to be treated with hydroxychloroquine, which is a common malaria drug, or three other experimental drugs for treating COVID-19 in various combinations. Only the hydroxychloroquine part of the trial is being put on hold,” and although the large subject study was not the “gold standard” randomized control trial, it drew from a pool of 96,000 patients, and they would continue to monitor a hydroxychloroquine trial still underway in the UK.

By May 27, CBS News reported that

France has banned the use of the controversial anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat people with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The move follows the publication of initial findings from a large-scale study that found the drug offered no benefit to patients, and could in fact be harmful. The Lancet medical journal reported on May 22 that the observational study on nearly 100,000 patients from multiple countries found a higher mortality rate and an increased frequency of irregular heartbeats in patients who were given hydroxychloroquine. France’s health minister responded to the findings the next day by asking the French High Council for Public Health (HCSP) to review the situation, and it recommended halting the use of the drug. The findings also prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to announce Monday the temporary suspension of the malaria drug from a global trial looking at various potential COVID-19 treatments, pending a safety review. At least four people in France have died from complications linked to the side effects of hydroxychloroquine. An early study released in early April in the southern city of Nice found that 43 cases of heart trouble were linked to use of the drug…the French government decided at the end of March to allow the use of the drug in 16 clinical trials, and in the treatment of seriously ill, hospitalized patients. Those trials will now be halted. President Donald Trump has been a staunch defender of the drug and drew criticism from medical experts when he announced recently that he was taking it daily in a bid to prevent contracting COVID-19. Mr. Trump said on Monday that he’d stopped taking the medication. Italy and Belgium, which have also dealt with serious coronavirus outbreaks and had authorized use of hydroxychloroquine in severely ill patients under close hospital supervision, have both told doctors to suspend use of the drug, apart from in clinical trials, in the wake of the Lancet report.

However, it should be said that in early June The Lancet announced it would withdraw its influential study, because the contractor who provided the large data set would not provide it to third-party independent auditors, citing “privacy concerns.” This certainly raises a dark shadow over the impact of the study, although its public announcement and retraction does show that The Lancet itself is not part of some vast, global conspiracy to stymie hydroxychloroquine, other remedies, or the presidency of Trump, but rather subject to the normal review and verification process of the global medical community. To reassure the reader, by June 4 CBS News reported that

Results published Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine show that hydroxychloroquine was no better than placebo pills at preventing illness from the coronavirus. The drug did not seem to cause serious harm, though — about 40% on it had side effects, mostly mild stomach problems…[Lead investigator] Boulware’s study involved 821 people in the United States and Canada living with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or at high risk of getting it because of their job — doctors, nurses, ambulance workers who had significant exposure to a sick patient while not wearing full protective gear. They were randomly assigned to get either the nutrient folate as a placebo or hydroxychloroquine for five days, starting within four days of their exposure. Neither they nor others involved in the research knew who was getting which pills. After 14 days in the study, 12% on the drug developed COVID-19 symptoms versus 14% in the placebo group, but the difference is so small it could have occurred by chance, Boulware said. “There’s basically no effect. It does not prevent infection,” he said of the drug…Results were no different among a subgroup of participants who were taking zinc or vitamin C, which some people believe might help make hydroxychloroquine more effective or fight the coronavirus.

There are some big caveats: The study enrolled people through the Internet and social media, relying on them to report their own symptoms rather than having them tracked in a formal way by doctors [NOTE: the subjects did not know if they were getting an active ingredient or the placebo, so as to not bias their reporting]. Participants were not all tested for the coronavirus but were diagnosed as COVID-19 cases based on symptoms in many cases. And not all took their medicines as directed. The results “are more provocative than definitive,” and the drug may yet have prevention benefits if tried sooner or in a different way, Dr. Myron Cohen of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill wrote in a commentary in the journal…On Tuesday, the journal Lancet posted an “expression of concern” about a study it published earlier this month of nearly 15,000 COVID-19 patients on the malaria drugs that tied their use to a higher risk of dying in the hospital or developing a heartbeat problem…On Wednesday, the WHO said experts who reviewed safety information decided that its study could resume.

Ultimately, by June 15, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a 15-page reply to the request of Dr. Gary L. Disbrow, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Director, Medical Countermeasure Programs, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Office of Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR),
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). They write that

This letter is in response to your request, dated today, that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revoke the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for emergency use of oral formulations of chloroquine phosphate (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine sulfate (HCQ) to be distributed from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) issued on March 28, 2020. Like BARDA’s earlier request to FDA to issue the EUA, BARDA’s request to revoke the EUA is part of a collaborative, USG interagency effort to rapidly respond to this continuously evolving public health emergency. Today’s request to revoke is based on new information, including clinical trial data results, that have led BARDA to conclude that this drug may not be effective to treat COVID-19 [Coronavirus Disease 2019] and that the drug’s potential benefits for such use do not outweigh its known and potential risks.

They rescinded the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) because (a) “We now believe that the suggested dosing regimens for CQ and HCQ as detailed in the Fact Sheets are unlikely to produce an antiviral effect.” (b) “Earlier observations of decreased viral shedding with HCQ or CQ treatment have not been consistently replicated and recent data from a randomized controlled trial assessing probability of negative conversion showed no difference between HCQ and standard of care alone.” (c) “Current U.S. treatment guidelines do not recommend the use of CQ or HCQ in hospitalized patients with COVID-19 outside of a clinical trial, and the NIH guidelines now recommend against such use outside of a clinical trial,” and (d) “Recent data from a large randomized controlled trial showed no evidence of benefit for mortality or other outcomes such as hospital length of stay or need for mechanical ventilation of HCQ treatment in hospitalized patients with COVID19.” Their cited data included a pool of 11,000 subjects in the Oxford University RECOVERY studies just concluding.

This “rocky road” is how science works when pressed for quick solutions from politicians and the public, but the slow, measured approach using a wide range of experts will eventually sort out noise apart from true findings, and verifiable solutions, but never on the timescale people want. I experienced this first-hand when I led a national and global team to develop fire fighting chemicals for onboard aviation use to comply with urgent environmental laws and regulations outlawing Halons and other ozone depleting and atmospheric warming chemicals. I and my colleagues were also pressured to find quick solutions, before the data was in and vetted, that did not impose any inconvenience or impact to the end user, and I and we were often blamed ourselves for the restrictions on the use of these chemicals, due to laws and treaties I did not have any role in enacting.

Either we believe the world-class experts who have devoted their lives for decades to provide this critical service to our global community, vetting each other in a urgent collaborative process, or we believe the “easy solutions” we want to hear by the “Association of American Physicians and Surgeons,” and “America’s Frontline Doctors” of the world, and the credibility we have observed from their types, and meanwhile decide that the esteemed scientists of diverse nations of varying political ideologies across the globe are all involved in one big conspiracy in cahoots with all the global media, which seems to be the preferable options for most conservative Christians I know these days, who believe little else from scientists or doctors on other matters as well.

Reflecting back on the company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, it is interesting to note that the non-profit and corporate tax and other data archivist and watchdog organization Pro Publica documents that Teva had at least four of their staff people transfer to prominent positions in the Department of Health and Human Service, Education and Labor Departments, and Federal Trade Commission (I don’t know how much more significant or extensive are the number of staff connections, nor if this is common in scale for other pharmaceutical and other major corporate staffs).

To better understand the motive Teva might have for such a “generous” donation of hydroxychloroquine, simultaneous with President Trump’s sudden press conference announcement of a “miracle” solution of the same product, we should consider Teva’s history in the U.S. pharmaceutical market and with its government regulators, at least going back to 2017. In February 2017 Reuters reported some VERY important findings that

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (TEVA.TA) was left without a permanent chief executive on Tuesday after Erez Vigodman stepped down, leaving new management to restore confidence in the world’s biggest generic drugmaker after a series of missteps. A string of costly acquisitions, along with delayed drug launches, have sent Teva shares plummeting and led to calls for management and structural changes, including a possible split into separate generic and branded medicine units. Teva, Israel’s largest company, said late on Monday that Vigodman was departing immediately…Teva, which faces pricing pressure in its core generics business and recently lost patent protection on its key branded drug Copaxone for multiple sclerosis, must choose a new CEO…Teva’s bad run continued on Tuesday, when the company said it was being investigated in Israel over the same issues that led to a $519 million U.S. bribery settlement in December over criminal and civil allegations that it bribed overseas officials to gain business. Compounding the challenge for Teva, U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged to crack down on drug prices and a number of shareholders are pushing Teva to split into separate branded and generic companies. Landa said Teva’s recent “fixation on mega-generic acquisitions” had “mortgaged its ability to make substantial investments in speciality drugs.” Teva shares fell around 2 percent in Tel Aviv on Tuesday following Vigodman’s departure, which comes after the head of Teva’s generics business, Siggi Olafsson, left…Teva’s New York-listed shares…tumbled to around 10-year lows last week after a U.S. court found Copaxone patents to be invalid. The drug accounted for almost a fifth of Teva’s revenue last yearTeva now has debt of nearly $36 billion, similar to its market value, making it difficult to raise new equity, Tamir said.

So, we have a company hemorrhaging money after a series of bad corporate decisions, legal findings and bribery charges in Israel and the U.S., and heat from President Trump beforehand on its prices, which led to further financial pressure, while unable to borrow money, costing the heads of the CEO and senior staff.

Back in December 2016, before President Trump had taken office, Kaiser Health News, a part of the health industry-affiliated Kaiser Family Foundation, reported that

The high prices Americans pay for generic drugs may have been cooked up by pharmaceutical salespeople on golf courses, at a New Jersey steakhouse or over martinis at a “Girls Nights Out” in Minnesota. Details emerging from an ongoing investigation show that drug company employees gathered regularly at such swanky locations and conspired to keep prices and profits high, according to interviews and a complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court by Attorneys General in 20 states…The lawsuit hits home for many middle-class families who have struggled in recent years to pay for generic medications while prices for some drugs soared more than 8,000 percent. The price for a decades-old antibiotic called doxycycline, for example, jumped from $20 for a bottle of 500 pills in October 2013 to more than $1,800 in April 2014That price hike was the result of secret efforts by generic drugmakers to make as much money as possible, the complaint says…The ongoing Attorneys General investigation began in 2014, according to the complaint, and has “uncovered evidence of a broad, well-coordinated and long-running series of schemes.” The companies accused of price fixing include Aurobindo Pharma USA, Citron Pharma, Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Mayne Pharma, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA and Mylan Pharmaceuticals..Spokeswomen for Teva and Mylan denied any wrongdoing.

Generic drugs now account for 80 percent of prescriptions in the U.S., with sales of $74.5 billion in 2015…Medicaid plans spent more than $500 million from June 2013 to June 2014 on generic drugs whose prices more than doubled… In truth, the explanation for soaring prices is “much more straightforward and sinister — collusion among generic drug competitors,” the complaint said…Executives discussed how to divvy up market share to avoiding competing with each other for business, according to the complaint. Companies either declined to bid for certain customers or offered “cover bids” that they knew would be rejected. Companies knew they were breaking the law and took care to have most of these discussions on cell phones or in person, to avoid leaving a paper trail. Employees destroyed evidence from text messages and emails, the complaint said. Heritage and other companies routinely consulted their competitors before selling new medications so that they could avoid competing on prices, the complaint said. The agreement gave the illusion of competition, but kept prices high…Minnesota’s Swanson noted that some information in the complaint has been blacked out at the request of government officials…The investigation has uncovered a hidden side of the generic pharmaceutical industry, said Michael Carrier, a professor at Rutgers Law School who specializes in antitrust law in the drug industry. “It’s a bombshell,” he said.

Well, when the going gets tough, the tough get going…spending more money on PR and lobbying when you’re caught red-handed, if you are part of a major American industry. In April 2017, shortly after President Trump had taken office, the same Kaiser Health News reported that

Eight pharmaceutical companies more than doubled their lobbying spending in the first three months of 2017, when the Affordable Care Act was on the chopping block and high drug prices were clearly in the crosshairs of Congress and President Donald TrumpIndustry giant Teva Pharmaceutical Industries spent $2.67 million, up 115 percent from a year ago as several companies embroiled in controversies raised their outlays significantly…Trump has come down hard on drugmakers..He has promised to lower drug prices and increase competition with faster approvals and fewer regulations…Thirty-eight major drugmakers and trade groups spent a total of $50.9 million..They deployed 600 lobbyists in all.

Drugmakers under fire more than doubled their lobbying dollars. Mylan spent $1.45 million during the quarter, up from $610,000 last year. The company’s CEO faced a congressional hearing in the fall when it raised the price of EpiPen to over $600. Marathon Pharmaceuticals spent $230,000, which was $120,000 more than last year. Marathon was criticized in February after setting the price of Emflaza, a steroid to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy, at $89,000 a year. That angered advocates, Congress and patients who had been importing the same drug for as little as $1,000 a yearTeva and Shire also more than doubled their spending. Teva was accused as part of an alleged generic price-fixing scheme in December…Companies that make drugs for rare diseases also more than doubled lobbying dollars.

By the middle of 2019, Israeli company Teva was coming into the forefront of the growing U.S. investigation of widespread generic drug price fixing, in lawsuits and investigations now reaching 44 states. In May 2019 the business site CNBC reported that

U.S. states filed a lawsuit accusing Teva Pharmaceuticals USA of orchestrating a sweeping scheme with 19 other drug companies to inflate drug prices — sometimes by more than 1,000% — and stifle competition for generic drugs, state prosecutors said on Saturday…The 20 drug companies engaged in illegal conspiracies to divide up the market for drugs to avoid competing and, in some cases, conspired to either prevent prices from dropping or to raise them, according to the complaint by 44 U.S. states, filed on Friday in the U.S. District Court in Connecticut. A representative of Teva USA, a unit of Israeli company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, said it will fight the lawsuit. “The allegations in this new complaint, and in the litigation more generally, are just that — allegations,” it said in a statement. “Teva continues to review the issue internally and has not engaged in any conduct that would lead to civil or criminal liability.” [Sadly, they’re probably right about that.] The 500-page lawsuit accuses the generic drug industry, which mainly sells medicines that are off patent and should be less expensive, of a long history of discreet agreements to ensure that companies that are supposedly competitors each get a “fair share”…“Apparently unsatisfied with the status quo of ‘fair share’ and the mere avoidance of price erosion, Teva and its co-conspirators embarked on one of the most egregious and damaging price-fixing conspiracies in the history of the United States,” the complaint said. With Teva at the center of the conspiracy, the drug companies colluded to significantly raise prices on 86 medicines between July 2013 and January 2015, the complaint said…In some instances, the coordinated price increases were more than 1,000 percent, the lawsuit said…“Prices for hundreds of generic drugs have risen — while some have skyrocketed, without explanation, sparking outrage from politicians, payers and consumers across the country whose costs have doubled, tripled, or even increased 1,000% or more”…The lawsuit filed on Friday is parallel to an action brought in December 2016 by the attorneys general of 45 states and the District of Columbia. That case was later expanded to include more than a dozen drugmakers.

Two days later, CNBC also reported that these investigations soon led to immediate financial peril to the company:

U.S. traded shares of Teva Pharmaceutical plunged more than 16% on Monday after 44 states sued the company, alleging it orchestrated a sweeping scheme with 19 other drugmakers to inflate prices…The states, led Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, claim 20 drug companies, including Teva USA, “systematically” divided up the market for generic drugs to avoid competing with one another…“This is an organized effort to conspire and fix prices — a highly illegal violation of antitrust laws,” Tong said. The lawsuit comes as President Donald Trump and Congress attempt to bring down high prescription drug prices, which accounted for roughly 12% of total health-care spending in the U.S. in 2016. Just last week, the Trump administration announced it would required pharmaceutical companies to disclose the list price of their prescription medicines in television commercials in an effort to “shame” them into lowering consumer costs. In response to the lawsuit, a spokesperson for Teva said “the allegations in this new complaint, and in the litigation more generally, are just that – allegations”…Israel-based Teva is the world’s largest generic drugmaker.

It gets worse. Ten days later – May 29, 2019 – BBC reported that Teva was embroiled into an Oklahoma lawsuit along with Johnson and Johnson for being an addictive drug “pusher” by aggressively pushing opioids onto the public:

Johnson & Johnson, one of the world’s largest drug manufacturers, has gone on trial in a multi-billion dollar lawsuit by the US state of Oklahoma. Prosecutors accuse the firm of deceptively marketing painkillers and downplaying addiction risks, fuelling a so-called “opioid epidemic.” It is the first of 2,000 cases brought by state, local and tribal governments against pharmaceutical firms in the US. On average, 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2017, of the 70,200 people who died from an overdose, 68% involved a prescription or illegal opioid. In its court filing, Oklahoma alleged that Johnson & Johnson was the “kingpin” behind “the worst man-made public health crisis in [the] state’s history,” growing and importing raw materials which other drug-makers used for their own products. In opening statements in the city of Norman on Tuesday, the state said that Johnson & Johnson along with Purdue Pharma – which produces the prescription painkiller OxyContin – and Israel-based Teva Pharmaceuticals had pushed doctors to prescribe more opioids in the 1990s by using misleading marketing…Mike Hunter, Oklahoma’s attorney general, told the court that it was time to hold the companies “responsible for their actions”. “This is the worst man-made public health crisis in our state’s history. To put it bluntly, this crisis is devastating Oklahoma,” he said….Earlier this month, Teva Pharmaceuticals agreed to an $85m (£67m) settlement with Oklahoma over a similar lawsuit which claimed its opioids had contributed to the deaths of thousands of people.

By July 2019, the Israeli news site Globes was reporting that

In the 2016 US presidential campaign, it was Democratic Party candidate Hilary Clinton who aroused concern about restrictions on drug prices in the US. This pushed down the share prices of pharma sector companies on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), but it is now the election winner, President Donald Trump, who is taking matters a step further by advocating a reference index for drug prices, as is the practice in many European countries. Late last week, Trump ordered US administration officeholders to prepare an order to reduce the prices paid for drugs in the US to the level of prices in countries where they are the cheapest in the world. “Why do other nations like Canada pay less than us,” Trump asked rhetorically…In additional bad news for the pharma sector, Democrats in Congress aiming at transparency in drug prices and lower costs for consumers are likely to support Trump’s measures…People in the US pay double or more for drugs than consumers in other countries. A 2015 Reuters survey of the 20 bestselling prescription drugs in the US found that they were an average of three times as expensive as in the UK, more expensive than in any other European market, six times as expensive as in Brazil, and 16 times as expensive as in India…Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA; TASE: TEVA) share price is down 5.75% on the TASE, following a 3% drop on Wall Street yesterday…Trump’s order is a further blow to battered Teva, which is facing a decline in sales of Copaxone, its former flagship drug, and two major lawsuits, involving allegedly fixing the prices of drugs and selling addictive opioids.

Also in July 2019, The Los Angeles Times was also reporting that Teva was also settling a California lawsuit about their illegal practices to keep generic drugs off the market:

Two pharmaceutical companies will pay the state of California a total of nearly $70 million to settle allegations that they violated antitrust laws by making agreements to delay generic drugs from entering the market, according to the California attorney general’s office…Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. illegally maintained a monopoly over sales of narcolepsy drug Provigil by entering “pay-for-delay” agreements to keep a generic version off the market for almost six years, Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra’s office said in a statement Monday. Pay-for-delay agreements — under which the maker of a brand-name drug pays other drugmakers to refrain from producing a generic version after the drug’s patent expires — are not on their face illegal, but they can be used in ways that violate antitrust law. Regulators have said such deals also keep drug prices high. As part of the settlement announced Monday, Teva will pay the state $69 million, Becerra’s office said…The Israeli pharmaceutical firm will also be under an injunction preventing it from entering into pay-for-delay agreements for 10 years. Teva said the $69 million will come out of a settlement fund that was established after it settled a 2015 Federal Trade Commission lawsuit for $1.2 billion. In the settlement agreement announced Monday, Teva denied all of the state’s claims of unlawful conduct and said the agreement was not an admission of liability…Teva said it would pay the state $200,000 for its legal fees as part of this settlement…At the time, the FTC said such agreements cost consumers and health plans $3.5 billion annually. On average, brand-name drugs affected by pay-for-delay deals cost 10 times more than generic versions, according to a 2013 report from consumer advocacy groups CalPIRG and Community Catalyst.”

With these kinds of dollars they are pulling in for these despicable practices, it is clear that these big fines they pay are but a pittance, and the consumers pay needlessly through the nose. It also shows how benevolent these “job creator” corporations espousing “freedom” are as the “saviors” of society, as insinuated by Republican mythology.

Teva and their henchmen in the Big Pharma cartel have found even other devious means of feathering their beds in their attempt to deceive regulators, even to the extent of exploiting tax-free non-profits meant for helping low income people with health needs, to rather promote their products, this time in the domain of Trump-friendly governorship of Florida. In November 2019 Reuters reported that

A Florida-based charity will pay $4 million to resolve claims that it acted as a conduit for companies including Biogen Inc and Novartis AG to pay kickbacks to Medicare patients using their high-priced multiple sclerosis drugs, the U.S. Justice Department said on Wednesday. The settlement with the patient assistance charity The Assistance Fund marked the third so far with a foundation linked to an industry-wide probe that has resulted in $850 million in settlements with drugmakers and charities. TAF like the other foundations provide assistance to patients seeking to pay out-of-pocket costs for medications and says that since 2009 it has provided assistance to 78,000 people…Biogen, Novartis and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, which the department said also provided the charity money, did not respond to requests for comment or declined to comment. Drug companies are prohibited from subsidizing co-payments for patients enrolled in the government’s Medicare healthcare program for those aged 65 and older. Companies may donate to non-profits providing co-pay assistance as long as they are independent. But the government has alleged that various drugmakers have used charities like Orlando, Florida-based TAF as means to improperly pay the co-pay obligations of Medicare patients using their drugs, in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute…Co-pays are partly meant to serve as a check on healthcare expenses by exposing patients to some of a medicine’s cost [i.e., a co-pay tries to prevent consumer abuse of an otherwise no-cost option to them that promotes excessive use, at a high price that benefits drug makers, at the cost of the broad American taxpaying public, and de-incentivizing smart consumer choices]. The settlement with TAF centered on payments it received from three MS drug manufacturers, Teva, which sells Copaxone; Biogen, which sells Tysabri and Avonex; and Novartis, which sells Gilenya. The government alleged that TAF engaged in practices that allowed it to coordinate with Teva, Biogen and Novartis from 2011 to 2014 ensure that it used the companies’ money to support patients using their respective MS drugs instead of rival ones. The department said that TAF also solicited and received payments from Teva for the years 2011 to 2015 that correlated with the charity’s spending on patients using Copaxone.

A pharmacy based in Florida was found guilty in August 2020 of serving as a similar conduit for Teva to have special advantages to the consumer. Reuters reported that

A Florida-based specialty pharmacy will pay $3.5 million to resolve allegations it served as a conduit for a Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd subsidiary to pay kickbacks to Medicare patients, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday. The settlement with Advanced Care Scripts Inc was the latest to result from an industry-wide U.S. probe of drugmakers’ financial support of patient assistance charities that has resulted in nearly $921 million in settlements. Representatives for Teva and ACS did not respond to requests for comment. Teva has said it has been cooperating with the investigation since first receiving a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston in 2017…According to the government, until 2015, ACS served as a vendor for Teva Neuroscience Inc and provided, among other things, benefits investigation services to patients who had been prescribed its multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone. As part of the settlement, ACS acknowledged it relayed data to Teva from two foundations that helped cover the co-pay obligations for Medicare patients using Copaxone, so the drugmaker could correlate the payments it made to the charities. Those charities were the Chronic Disease Fund, now known as Good Days, and the Assistance Fund. They previously resolved similar allegations with the government for $2 million and $4 million, respectively.

These recent revelations led the consumer watchdog group Restore Public Trust to denounce the connections these companies had to Trump administration officials, writing that “As people across the country read this latest story of corruption and malfeasance, they should remember that Big Pharma has infiltrated the Trump administration and is doing everything possible to influence policy and protect its own profits. In fact, top ranking officials in the administration have close connections to the very companies accused of paying kickbacks in Florida — which is just the latest reminder that Trump and Alex Azar are breaking their promises and putting the pharmaceutical industry ahead of patients and families,” and noted that Kate O’Scannlain, Department of Labor solicitor, represented Teva Pharmaceuticals of North America as a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in 2017, Robert Charrow, general counsel at HHS, previously provided legal services for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Inc., and Christine S. Wilson, federal trade commissioner, served as representation for Teva Pharmaceuticals North America as a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in 2016.

The “Florida connection,” and its coalition of a Trump sycophant Gov. Ron DeSantis (who was recklessly negligent in closing beaches and promoting mask and other restrictions that led to runaway COVID infections in Florida as a local disaster, as with many red-state governors) in a state with a large Israel-friendly population, is noted because of reports such as one from March 30, 2020, in which it was reported that

In a media availability Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis confirmed that Israeli-sourced hydroxychloroquine is already being used in South Florida hospitals. The hope is that hydroxychloroquine, approved for treatment of arthritis, lupus, and malaria, works off label, as a “right to try” medicine for those without other medical recourse. The Governor said Saturday the drug would be sent to hot spots for COVID-19, including Dade, Broward, Hillsborough and Orange counties…“I’m not a doctor. I’m not telling anyone to take it or not to take it,” DeSantis added. “This is just something that doctors may have at their disposal.” The Times of Israel reports that the initial donation to American hospitals will be 6 million pills. “We are committed to helping to supply as many tablets as possible as demand for this treatment accelerates at no cost,” said Brendan O’Grady, Teva executive vice president, North America Commercial. “Immediately upon learning of the potential benefit of hydroxychloroquine,” O’Grady said Teva “began to assess supply and to urgently acquire additional ingredients to make more product while arranging for all of what we had to be distributed immediately.” DeSantis credited U.S. Ambassador David Friedman for helping to source the medicine from Teva Pharmaceuticals in Israel. For DeSantis, the coronavirus crisis brought into play a relationship prized by the Governor, prioritized in 2019 with an Enterprise Florida trade mission to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Friedman, as the Tallahassee Democrat reported, said “Israel has no greater friend in all the 50 governor’s mansions than Ron DeSantis.” The venue was the Ambassador’s Residence in Tel Aviv, where Gov. DeSantis was guest of honor at a dinner where top-shelf wine and food was served up, a veritable banquet feast. The event was a capstone of a week in Israel, where DeSantis and Florida officials signed memoranda of understanding on issues ranging from academic partnerships to collaborations in space and emergency management. Beyond the hydroxychloroquine haul, some good news on the Israel front on testing also. DeSantis also divulged Saturday that DEM head Jared Moskowitz sourced 2,000 tests from an Israeli company, and those tests are headed to South Florida and Duval County.

It is starting to become more clear what is likely “up” during this curious “hydroxychlroquine” phenomenon; (a) Israeli company Teva is on the ropes financially due to widespread fraud, graft and huge financial penalties and settlements waged by U.S. federal and state governments as a result, and a departed CEO and troubled leadership, (b) a difficult initial relationship with President Trump, who publicly states that he wants to lower the drug costs that Teva is using every crooked and illegal means to keep elevated, or secure other advantages, (c) it exploits the special relationship with the Trump brown-noser Governor DeSantis, with his own motive for needing a “quick fix” to save his political career as well as President Trump, (d) the potential with a “transactional” President Trump who might “look the other way” as to their graft and crimes if they “scratch his back” with a “rabbit out of the hat” for COVID, which they can supply with a dirt-cheap drug of unproven provenance to publicly make President Trump look good, and (e) exploiting a Israeli government loyalist (maybe even higher than our own nation) from Trump-appointed U.S. Ambassador David Friedman -an Orthodox Jew and son of a rabbi who represented the Trump Organization in bankruptcy lawsuits over his casinos from shafted co-investors and other victims, himself funding illegal Israeli settlements in occupied territories (with extra funding from Jared Kushner’s organization) and operating an extremist Israeli media outlet Arutz 7 where he is a columnist, to exploit this confluence of events (or “perfect storm”) to advance the cause and PR efforts of Israel, save the largest company in Israel, and save Governor DeSantis and President Trump’s political careers from disaster – all via the enigmatic “hydroxychloroquine.”

Politico adds some further details of Desantis’ promotion of hydroxychloroquine in a report a week later (April 7):

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday used his coronavirus briefing to give a choreographed, live-streamed shout-out to hydroxychloroquine, a drug President Donald Trump has touted as a potential miracle cure for Covid-19. During the briefing, DeSantis took credit for loosening shipments of the drug from India and sought testimonials on the drug from doctors and a patient. “One of the number-one questions we’ve been getting in the state of Florida is what treatments are available,” DeSantis said. “One of the things that physicians have been using is this hydroxychloroquine, usually, combined with with Z-Pack.” The briefing included a videostreamed conversation between DeSantis and Dr. Sunil Kumar, a critical care and pulmonary physician at Broward Health. Kumar said the drug has helped patients fight the virus. The Food and Drug Administration… lifted years-old restrictions on India-based Ipca Laboratories, a manufacturer of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, in a bid to get more of the drugs into the U.S. at Trump’s urging. “As this thing was first discussed in Washington, and the FDA made their decision on it, you know, I reached out to physicians and just, you know, asked them, ‘hey, what’s the deal with this?'” DeSantis said…DeSantis then played video of a patient who gave a testimonial.

Israeli drugmaker Teva Pharmaceuticals provided Florida with a batch of hydroxychloroquine last month, and a second shipment was sent Monday. Teva manufactures hydroxychloroquine in India, where government officials forbade shipments from leaving the country. DeSantis said he had a hand in getting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow more of the drug to be shipped to the U.S. “I spoke to President Trump, and then he spoke to Prime Minister Modi, and Modi has made an exception for the United States,” DeSantis said. “Teva is bringing more of this into the United States, they have sent a second shipment already to a Florida hospital and shipped yesterday.” Amneal Pharmaceuticals also is sending a million doses of the experimental drug to Tallahassee, which are supposed to arrive Wednesday, the governor told reporters Tuesday. DeSantis isn’t the only public figure to take up Trump’s championship of hydroxychloroquine. Last month, Twitter asked Fox News host Laura Ingraham to delete a post touting the efficacy of the drug, saying it ran afoul of the company’s rules against misleading health information. The company also called out Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani for a post that made erroneous statements about hydroxychloroquine, calling it “100% effective” in treating Covid-19.

By the time President Trump waded into the matter, like a sudden “bull in a china shop,” other companies also “smelled blood in the water” and started to look into how to get a piece of the action of the “messiah drug” hydroxychloroquine, as in April 6, 2020 The New York Times reported:

President Trump made a rare appearance in the Situation Room on Sunday as his pandemic task force was meeting, determined to talk about the anti-malaria medicine that he has aggressively promoted lately as a treatment for the coronavirus. Once again, according to a person briefed on the session, the experts warned against overselling a drug yet to be proved a safe remedy, particularly for heart patients. “Yes, the heart stuff,” Mr. Trump acknowledged. Then he headed out to the cameras to promote it anyway. “So what do I know?” he conceded to reporters at his daily briefing. “I’m not a doctor. But I have common sense.” Day after day, the salesman turned president has encouraged coronavirus patients to try hydroxychloroquine with all of the enthusiasm of a real estate developer. The passing reference he makes to the possible dangers is usually overwhelmed by the full-throated endorsement. “What do you have to lose?” he asked five times on Sunday. Bolstered by his trade adviser, a television doctor, Larry Ellison of Oracle and Rudolph W. Giuliani, a former New York mayor, Mr. Trump has seized on the drug as a miracle cure for the virus…the president’s assertiveness in pressing the case over the advice of advisers like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease specialist, has driven a wedge inside his coronavirus task force and has raised questions about his motives.

If hydroxychloroquine becomes an accepted treatment, several pharmaceutical companies stand to profit, including shareholders and senior executives with connections to the president. Mr. Trump himself has a small personal financial interest in Sanofi, the French drugmaker that makes Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine…The professional organization that published a positive French study cited by Mr. Trump’s allies changed its mind in recent days. The International Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy said, “The article does not meet the society’s expected standard.” Some hospitals in Sweden stopped providing hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus after reports of adverse side effects, according to Swedish news media.

Mr. Trump first expressed interest in hydroxychloroquine a few weeks ago, telling associates that Mr. Ellison, a billionaire and a founder of Oracle, had discussed it with him. At the time, Dr. Mehmet Oz, the host of television’s “The Doctor Oz Show,” was in touch with Mr. Trump’s advisers about expediting approval to use the drug for the coronavirus. Mr. Giuliani has urged Mr. Trump to embrace the drug, based in part on the advice of Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, a self-described simple country doctor who has become a hit on conservative media after administering a cocktail of hydroxychloroquine, the antibiotic azithromycin and zinc sulfate. In an interview on Monday, Mr. Giuliani denied any financial stake and said he spoke with Mr. Trump only after the president had already promoted the drug publicly. Mr. Giuliani said he turned to the issue after researching former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in Ukraine.

Mr. Trump said the federal government would distribute 29 million doses and that he had called Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India requesting more. Dr. Fauci made his concern clear last week. “I think we’ve got to be careful that we don’t make that majestic leap to assume that this is a knockout drug,” he said on Friday on Fox News. “We still need to do the kinds of studies that definitively prove whether any intervention, not just this one, any intervention is truly safe and effective.” The same day, Laura Ingraham, a Fox host, visited Mr. Trump at the White House with two doctors who had been on her program promoting hydroxychloroquine, one of whom made a presentation on its virtues, according to an official, confirming a Washington Post report. The next day, Peter Navarro, the president’s trade adviser, who has been assigned to expedite production of medical equipment and become an advocate of the drug, upbraided Dr. Fauci at a White House task force meeting, according to people informed about the discussion. Mr. Navarro arrived at the meeting armed with a thick sheaf of papers recounting research. When the issue was raised, according to a person informed about the meeting, confirming a report by Axios, Mr. Navarro picked it up off a chair, dropped it on the table and started handing out copies. Mr. Navarro, who earned a doctorate in economics from Harvard, defended his position on Monday despite his lack of medical credentials. “Doctors disagree about things all the time. My qualifications in terms of looking at the science is that I’m a social scientist,” he said on CNN. “I have a Ph.D. And I understand how to read statistical studies, whether it’s in medicine, the law, economics or whatever.” Mr. Trump made clear on Sunday whose side he took in Mr. Navarro’s confrontation with Dr. Fauci. At his briefing after the meeting, he said it was wrong to wait for the kind of study Dr. Fauci wanted. “We don’t have time,” the president said.

Some associates of Mr. Trump’s have financial interests in the issue…Another investor in both Sanofi and Mylan, another pharmaceutical firm, is Invesco, the fund previously run by Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary. As of last year, Mr. Trump reported that his three family trusts each had investments in a Dodge & Cox mutual fund, whose largest holding was in Sanofi. Ashleigh Koss, a Sanofi spokeswoman, said the company no longer sells or distributes Plaquenil in the United States, although it does sell it internationally. Several generic drugmakers are gearing up to produce hydroxychloroquine pills, including Amneal Pharmaceuticals, whose co-founder Chirag Patel is a member of Trump National Golf Course Bedminster in New Jersey and has golfed with Mr. Trump at least twice since he became president, according to a person who saw them…Amneal announced last month that it would increase production of the drug and donate millions of pills to New York and other states. Other generic drugmakers are ramping up production, including Mylan and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Roberto Mignone, a Teva board member, reached out to the team of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, through Nitin Saigal, who used to work for Mr. Mignone and is a friend of Mr. Kushner’s, according to people informed about the discussions. Mr. Kushner’s team referred him to the White House task force and Mr. Mignone asked for help getting India to ease export restrictions, which have since been relaxed, allowing Teva to bring more pills into the United States. Mr. Mignone, who is also a vice chairman of NYU Langone Health, which is running a clinical study of hydroxychloroquine, confirmed on Monday that he has spoken with the administration about getting more medicine into the country. Dr. Daniel H. Sterman, the critical care director at NYU Langone Health, said doctors there are using hydroxychloroquine, but data about its effectiveness remained “weak and unsubstantiated” pending the study.

Evidently more organizations then tried to get in on the act of promoting the drug. On the same day (April 6), another source reported that

On Sunday, Trump reiterated his support for using it to treat coronavirus patients. “What do you have to lose?,” Trump asked, repeating his comments from Saturday. Trump also prevented Dr. Fauci from fielding a question on the use of hydroxychloroquine. It’s unclear why Trump has been such a proponent of hydroxychloroquine, but one answer may lie with the millions of dollars in political support he has received from the founder of a pharmaceutical industry-funded group that has been pushing him to make the drug availableOn March 26, Job Creators Network, a conservative dark money nonprofit, launched a petition, a series of Facebook ads, and a blast text message campaign calling on Trump to “cut the red tape” and immediately make hydroxychloroquine available to treat patients. “There is clear and ever-mounting evidence that the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine can significantly help patients who contract coronavirus,” the petition states, despite the lack of rigorous clinical testing.

The Job Creators Network was founded in 2011 by billionaire Home Depot co-founder Bernard Marcus, a major GOP donor who spent more than $7 million through outside groups to help elect Trump in 2016. Marcus has said that he plans to spend part of his fortune to help re-elect Trump in 2020. Job Creators Network has been funded by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), a drug industry trade that counts among its members leading hydroxychloroquine makers Novartis, Teva Pharmaceuticals, and Bayer. According to tax documents, PhRMA donated $500,000 to Job Creators Network in 2017. Novartis, Teva, and Bayer have all committed to providing millions of doses of hydroxychloroquine for clinical testing, and the companies potentially stand to profit if the drug becomes adopted as a common coronavirus treatment…Job Creator Network’s hydroxychloroquine campaign has been run in partnership with a nonprofit called Physicians for Reform, which works with FreedomWorks to promote deregulatory health care policies. FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy group that was founded by the Koch brothers, also receives money from PhRMA. According to tax documents PhRMA gave $100,000 to FreedomWorks in 2018.

The old business trick of Schick razor company was to give away the razors, to sell the blades; in the case of Teva, by April 23 reports announced that Teva could not keep up with the demand for the antibiotic azithromycin, which it manufactured and touted as the “tandem” part of the regimen of the use of its “headliner” hydrochloroquine, even as the Veterans Administration was finding with its patients that they had no better prognosis taking hydroxychloroquine, with or without azithromycin.

Within just a few weeks, Teva was “feeling its oats,” as my parents’ generation used to say, and basically “showing its hand” it was dealing with the hydroxychloroquine gambit, and its motives, in parlaying its role as potential savior of the world to turn away from its culpability in its recent graft and crimes with American and other governments, as reported by The New York Times:

In the coming days, the Justice Department will make an important decision: whether to file criminal charges against one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies for allegedly colluding with rivals to inflate the prices of widely used drugs. The company, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, is betting that in the middle of a deadly pandemic, the Trump administration won’t dare to come down hard on the largest supplier of generic drugs in the United States. It is a high-stakes gamble that could affect millions of Americans who rely on Teva’s dozens of inexpensive generic drugs, as well as its brand-name products like Copaxone, for multiple sclerosis, and Ajovy, for migraines. Teva officials say criminal charges could cripple the Israeli company and potentially leave it unable to sell drugs to federal programs like Medicare. For years, the Justice Department and state prosecutors have been investigating what they describe as a conspiracy by pharmaceutical companies to increase the prices of popular drugs. The department has already extracted guilty pleas and $224 million in penalties from four other drug companies.

Lawyers for Teva, which prosecutors believe was deeply involved in the conspiracy, until recently had been holding settlement negotiations with officials in the Justice Department’s antitrust division. But in April, the company all but walked away from the talks, essentially daring the Trump administration to file charges, according to people on both sides of the discussions. Teva officials have said that the company did nothing wrong and that they plan to vigorously defend themselves…Teva executives and board members believe that one reason the Trump administration will back down is to avoid the impression that it is harming a company that is helping the United States fight the coronavirus. A week or two before Teva’s lawyers pulled out of the settlement talks, a board member, Roberto Mignone, reached out to the White House to discuss the company’s efforts to provide drugs that might help treat the coronavirus…It had already donated millions of hydroxychloroquine pills to American hospitals.

On March 24, Mr. Mignone emailed a former college roommate of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. He wrote that Teva wanted the White House to help get the company’s hydroxychloroquine supplies out of India and to permit Teva to coordinate with rival drug companies to make and distribute the drugs. In an ensuing discussion with officials on the White House’s coronavirus task force, Teva positioned itself as a valuable partner in the manufacturing and distribution of potential medical treatments for the coronavirus, according to people familiar with the discussions, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about themTeva officials said there was no connection between the White House conversation and the yearslong antitrust investigation. [wink]

But, said Robert Field, a professor of law and health policy at Drexel University, “it’s hard to believe that Teva does not have that in mind and does not see some kind of absolution in producing a drug that might help us come out of a national nightmare while they are facing quite serious criminal charges.” Ronny Gal, a research analyst who follows the generic drug industry at the brokerage Bernstein, said Teva and other generic companies had seen working with the Trump administration as an opportunity not because more sales of hydroxychloroquine would be profitable — pills cost pennies — but because “they want to be viewed as a partner.” “It’s your chance, at a relatively low cost, to have a very large P.R. campaign,” he added. Teva had its conversation with the White House just as the company’s officials were reconsidering their settlement negotiations with the Justice Department, which along with other government bodies has for years had Teva in its cross hairs.

The investigation centers on allegations that Teva and a number of rivals illegally worked together to increase prices for widely used generic drugs like pravastatin, which is used to treat high cholesterol. Congressional investigators have found that Teva dominated the market for some of the drugs whose prices inexplicably rose and remained high. And nearly every state attorney general and the Justice Department’s antitrust division have identified Teva as a leading player in the alleged price-fixing conspiracy…they also feared an indictment, which would be likely to crush the company’s stock price. A criminal conviction would bar Teva from selling drugs to federal health care programs for at least five years. Avoiding such an outcome was a top priority for Teva, and a settlement seemed close at hand this spring, according to the people on both sides of the negotiations. The Justice Department was inking settlements with other players in the alleged price-fixing conspiracy. In March, the government announced a deal with the Novartis subsidiary Sandoz, another major generic drugmaker. Sandoz admitted to criminal charges and agreed to pay a $195 million fine, the largest ever in a U.S. antitrust case. Last week, another company, Apotex, agreed to a $24 million settlementIn mid-April, lawyers for Teva told officials in the antitrust division that they didn’t see a point in continuing with settlement negotiations based on their current trajectory, according to two people involved in the company’s internal discussions. At a board meeting last week, Teva’s directors, lawyers and executives decided to stick with their legal strategy. With the statute of limitations on the case expiring soon, they doubted that the department would dare to charge the company.

Because Teva makes 10 percent of oral generic drugs prescribed in the United States, Mr. Gal said, it has significant leverage in negotiating with the federal government, especially during the pandemic, when the supply of some drugs has been strained. The company has “a level of protection, where the U.S. certainly does not want the company to go bankrupt,” he said. Justice Department officials haven’t given up hope that settlement talks might resume before the statute of limitation expires in the next two weeks, at which point the government needs to decide whether to charge Teva or let the company walk. A Justice Department lawyer, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about an active investigation, said that while prosecutors were wary of seriously harming a major drug company in the heat of a pandemic, they were also worried about giving a company a pass for illegal behavior simply because of a national emergency.

The next day (May 16), the Times of Israel reported that

Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals is said to have essentially “walked away” from settlement talks with the US Justice Department’s antitrust division in a high-profile lawsuit alleging a price-fixing effort among drug manufacturers including Teva. The company is reportedly betting that the White House will not pursue charges given’s Teva help in the fight against COVID-19, specifically with an anti-malaria pharmaceutical drug touted by US President Donald Trump himself as a “game-changer.” Teva was named last year in an antitrust lawsuit brought by over 40 US states alleging a price-fixing conspiracy among drug manufacturers, with the Israeli company said to have raised the costs of some medications by over 1,000 percent. The suit came after a years-long investigation.

The lawsuit has worried the company. The firm, a leader in the generic drug market, has been grappling with declining prices for generic drugs, its core business, and the entry of copycat generic versions to its branded Copaxone drug for multiple sclerosis. The firm has also struggled to cut costs by closing manufacturing facilities and cutting its workforce globally in order to repay a massive $29 billion debt it accumulated due to a series of missteps, which saw it pay a high price for acquisitions that went sour. Approximately a week beforehand, a Teva board member named Roberto Mignone, reached out to the White House to discuss the company’s efforts to provide drugs that might help treat the coronavirus…In an email in late March to a former college roommate of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Mignone said Teva wanted to help the government with supplies for the drug and in an ensuing discussion positioned Teva “as a valuable partner in the manufacturing and distribution of potential medical treatments for the coronavirus,” according to the report which cited people familiar with the discussions. The lawsuit put Teva at the center of the investigation. During a 19-month period from 2013 to 2015, Teva is said to have significantly raised prices on around 112 generic drugs and colluded on at least 86 other drugs, the states said in the suit, according to the report. Some of the increases were more than 1,000%. The Justice Department, meanwhile, has reached settlement deals with four other drug makers and some $224 million in penalties so far.

 When this “statute of limitations” date came and went, public interest groups like Accountable.us wanted to know what happened to the Justice Department proceedings. They write:

Teva cozied up to Trump with hydroxychloroquine donation after he touted unproven COVID-19 drug as “game changer,” walked away from DOJ talks “daring the Trump administration to file charges”…DOJ had May 31st deadline to act….has not released an update since then.

Today, Patients Over Pharma sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr calling on him to release details about the status of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation into Teva Pharmaceuticals. Specifically, the letter seeks information regarding whether the long-running investigation has been influenced by Teva’s lobbying, close ties to the Administration, or donations of hydroxychloroquine immediately following President Trump’s endorsement of the anti-malarial drug as a COVID-19 treatment. This letter follows reporting that Teva “all but walked away” from settlement talks with the DOJ “essentially daring the Trump administration to file charges” against a company that appeared to be supporting President Trump’s COVID-19 response efforts, as well as reporting that the DOJ had a May 31st deadline to decide whether to bring charges against Teva, drop the charges, or reach an agreement with the company to extend the statute of limitations – which passed without any information released on the status of the investigation. We are concerned about the lack of transparency from the DOJ since the recent passage of a key statute of limitations deadline as well as the possibility that Teva’s attempts to curry favor with President Trump has impacted this investigation and could represent another example of DOJ decisions being influenced by political pressure…Last week it was reported that “Florida is sitting on more than 980,000 unused doses of hydroxychloroquine…provided free-of-charge from…Teva Pharmaceuticals.”

In their letter to Attorney General Barr, they write:

We are concerned about the lack of transparency from the DOJ since the recent passage of a key statute of limitations deadline as well as the possibility that Teva’s attempts to curry favor with President Trump has impacted this investigation and could represent another example of DOJ decisions being influenced by political pressure…On March 23, 2020, according to a whistleblower complaint, the General Counsel of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Bob Charrow, passed down an “urgent directive” from the White House to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) “to drop everything” to make donated hydroxychloroquine available to the public via an Investigational New Drug status that would have been even more permissive than emergency use authorization. Charrow joined the administration from Greenberg Traurig, and per his financial disclosure, his clients included Teva Pharmaceuticals. The whistleblower, Dr. Bright, “opposed the broad use of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as lacking scientific merit, even though the Administration promoted it as a panacea”…It was further reported that “Teva executives and board members believe that one reason the Trump administration will back down is to avoid the impression that it is harming a company that is helping the United States fight the coronavirus.” It was subsequently reported that the DOJ had until May 31st to decide whether to bring charges against Teva and seek an indictment, drop the charges, or reach an agreement with the company to extend the statute of limitations. But no additional information has been released since that reported deadline came and went…It was also recently reported that “Florida is sitting on more than 980,000 unused doses of hydroxychloroquine, a drug President Donald Trump touted as a ‘game changer’ in the fight against the coronavirus…few hospitals have requested the drug, which was provided free-of-charge from…Teva Pharmaceuticals.

They close with the following questions to Attorney general Barr:

(a) What is the current status of the DOJ investigation into price fixing by Teva Pharmaceuticals? (b) If there was an agreement reached between DOJ and Teva to extend the statute of limitations, will the details of that agreement be released, including information on the new deadline as well as who from DOJ was involved in the negotiations with Teva? (c) What role, if any, did DOJ leadership, the White House, or other political appointees play in any negotiations with Teva or internal DOJ decisions regarding the price fixing case? (d) What role, if any, did Teva’s donations of hydroxychloroquine play in the price fixing investigation, negotiations between DOJ and Teva, or any DOJ decisions regarding the May 31st statute of limitations deadline?

Well, Teva has been held accountable by the Feds at least to some limited degree. On August 27, the U.S. Dept. of Justice website wrote that

Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. (Teva) has been charged with conspiring to fix prices, rig bids, and allocate customers for generic drugs, the Department of Justice announced today. According to a superseding indictment filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the company participated in three conspiracies from at least as early as May 2013 until at least in or around Dec. 2015…Count one charges Teva for its role in a conspiracy that included Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Inc., USA (Glenmark), Apotex Corp. (Apotex), and others. On May 7, Apotex admitted to its role in this conspiracy and agreed to pay a $24.1 million penalty…According to the charge, Teva, Glenmark, Apotex, and unnamed co-conspirators agreed to increase prices for pravastatin and other generic drugs. Pravastatin is a commonly prescribed cholesterol medication that lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Count two charges Teva for its role in a conspiracy with Taro Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc. (Taro U.S.A.), its former executive Ara Aprahamian, and others. On July 23, Taro U.S.A. admitted to its role in this conspiracy and agreed to pay a $205.7 million penalty to resolve that charge as well as its role in a separate antitrust conspiracy. Aprahamian was indicted in February 2020 for his role in the conspiracy with Teva, among other charges, and is awaiting trial. According to the charge, Teva and its co-conspirators agreed to increase prices, rig bids, and allocate customers for generic drugs including, but not limited to, drugs used to treat and manage arthritis, seizures, pain, skin conditions, and blood clots.

Count three charges Teva for its role in a conspiracy with Sandoz Inc. and others. In March 2020, Sandoz admitted to its role in this conspiracy, as well as in conspiracies with other generic drug manufacturers, and agreed to pay a $195 million penalty. According to the charge, Teva and its co-conspirators agreed to increase prices, rig bids, and allocate customers for generic drugs including, but not limited to, drugs used to treat brain cancer, cystic fibrosis, arthritis, and hypertension.

Teva is the seventh company to be charged for its participation in conspiracies to fix prices, rig bids, and allocate customers for generic drugs…Four executives have also been charged; three have entered guilty pleas, and one is awaiting trial…Each of the charged offenses carry a statutory maximum penalty of $100 million for companies.

Donald Trump has operated his campaigns and presidency like he has his business operations – he “sells” an inspirational, utopian idea, built on fanciful imagination, and when the story comes apart as built on fraud, he quickly moves on to another sales “pitch,” and his handling of the COVID crisis has been no different. When the doubts and contradictory information about hydroxychloroquine began to pile up and could not be swept under the rug or diverted, Trump quickly moved on to another “messianic” solution to COVID to rescue the nation and world before the election, without explaining all the contradictions and corruption connected to his last “game changer.” This time, Trump relied upon a similar huckster of dubious background, but a darling on national TV with a lucrative sales pitch, and a darling with evangelicals – this generation’s “Ronco” and “KTel” TV pitchman, but with controversial political and other public activities, the “My Pillow” tycoon Mike Lindell, with his “solution” (as a non-medical (or non-trained in any respect) person) for the medical global scientific challenge of COVID.

I think Lindell, whose claim to fame was offering a firm pillow, and just selling only it (although he recently offers some associated bedding products), saw a kindred spirit in the salesman Trump, and got on board with his campaign before the election, and was subsequently invited to the presidential inauguration. A local Minnesota newspaper reported on Lindell’s inauguration experience in the following way, in an article entitled, “MyPillow’s Mike Lindell was the hot stud ladies man at Trump inauguration”:

…he’s going to have to stop running away with the hearts of all the conserva-gals who turned up for Donald Trump’s inauguration. Last week we brought you the story that Lindell, CEO of the oft-crticized-lately MyPillow empire out of suburban Chaska, might run for governor of Minnesota in 2018. In a subsequent interview with the Star Tribune, Lindell said no, he isn’t running for governor… unless God asks him to. Lindell was apparently singled out and summoned to meet with Trump in early 2016, so the Republican nominee could learn more about the magic behind these 100 percent American-made sleep rectangles. Lindell tells the Business Journal that during this meeting, Melania asked him to send them a couple MyPillows to check out. Lindell gleefully reports the Trumps received the pillows, and he got a “personal email” from Donald saying “he and his wife really liked MyPillow”…In return for his gift — well, that, plus the $2,700 donation to the campaign — Trump invited Lindell to his inauguration in Washington, D.C. last week. More important, Trump gave Lindell… some little pin with the date of the inauguration on it.

He also recruited Lindell to do, uh, something, though Lindell had trouble explaining it to WCCO’s Esme Murphy on Sunday. “It was on Tuesday that it was delivered to me, and I was so humbled. When [Trump] and I had met we had talked about what I’m going to be doing for the inner cities, with private funds, and everything that he believes in, and that I believe in, with helping the inner cities, and helping the economy. And to see it all come to fruition now, I just hope people give him a chance, because it’s going to be amazing. And when I got this from him, I was just, very humbled.”

 This is all prelude to the most remarkable Mike Lindell fact of the week, which comes to us via the New York Post‘s Page Six gossip trough. Take it away, Page Six: The divorced former crack addict-turned-strictly sober millionaire was swarmed at the Empire State Inaugural Kick-Off. While big names including Newt Gingrich and Jon Voight attended, women flocked to Lindell, a divorced father of four. He told Page Six, “A lot of people recognize me from the MyPillow ads, and they often stop and ask for pictures. It’s a blessing,” as a group of attractive blond women approached.

Six months after Trump took office, he was making pillow maker/infomercial star Lindell as a top-tier manufacturer guest alongside other titans of American industry at a White House forum:

As part of Made in America week, President Donald Trump is inviting American manufacturers to the White House. On Wednesday, Minnesota’s inventor of MyPillow, Mike Lindell, joined a small group of business leaders to meet with the president. They talked about ways to bring jobs back to the U.S. “And I’m very proud that every part, even the cotton is grown in the USA,” Lindell said at the meeting, while sitting next to President Trump. Congressman Erik Paulsen admitted to sleeping on a MyPillow at the meeting.

In another press release on the event, they write:

Attendees also included Vice President Pence, Labor Secretary Acosta and several members of Congress. “It is obvious that President Trump cares deeply for manufacturers and their employees,” said Lindell, who was seated immediately on his right…”I am proud to share that mission with Mr. Trump,” Lindell added. “I felt the overwhelming presence of God when I visited the White House – from the president and everyone on his staff.” Lindell first met with Trump in mid-August during the presidential campaign to discuss keeping manufacturing at home and reviving America’s cities. During a private meeting at Trump Tower, Lindell and Trump agreed this renewal begins in our inner cities and with blue-collar American workers.

For many readers who might know otherwise, in September 2017 the business media source CNBC published a belated mini-biography on Lindell and his background:

Mike Lindell says there aren’t many crack addicts who’ve become successful, but he’s one of them…The self-made multimillionaire and infomercial superstar created the MyPillow empire from scratch in 2004. He did it while addicted to drugs…He’s been clean and sober for over eight years…Then he tried to make money as a professional card counter in Las Vegas. It didn’t always go well…“They came around the table and picked me up and literally threw me through the front door.” Lindell’s other zany business ventures included trying to raise pigs. That went south when the pigs broke out of the pen he had set up in a residential area. Then “the hog market collapsed and I lost everything,” he says. That was followed by a lunch wagon business he started after hearing how successful they were in California…Eventually, though, Lindell started working as a bartender, and then buying a bar. “Probably wasn’t a real good idea because I was an addict at the time, a pretty hard-core cocaine addict.”

In 2004 the idea for MyPillow, a pillow that would hold its shape, came to him in a dream. “I got up in the middle of the night — it was about 2 in the morning — and I had ‘My Pillow’ written everywhere in the kitchen and all over the house”…Lindell dove in to the project, convinced the dream came from God…The pillow project kept Lindell’s cocaine addiction at bay, but it never went away entirely. “And then I got into crack cocaine,” he admits. During this time, Lindell’s marriage broke up, he lost his house, and he almost lost his businessIn March 2008, Lindell said, he was awake for at least two weeks doing crack. He tells an incredible story about his dealer, Lee, who put the word out on the street that no one was to sell Lindell any more drugs until he got some sleep. Even after all that, it would take another 10 months for Lindell to really hit bottom.

By 2011, MyPillow was getting some media attention. A local newspaper profiled Lindell and the company. The day the story came out, he was back in Vegas making some money at the card table…then he had another dream: Make an infomercial…“By the end of the year, we went from five employees to 500.” The company now has close to 1,500 employees…Over the last six years, Lindell estimates he’s spent $100 million on infomercials. The results? He’s sold 30 million pillows, and revenues have grown from around $100,000 a year to close to $300 million.

Lindell’s dream come true has had a couple of nightmares in the last year. First, California authorities sued the company for making unsubstantiated health claims. Lindell said he settled rather than go to court. “They would have run me out of money.” The settlement has forced him to redo advertising, and it caused a pause in sales that led to layoffs in the springThen the Better Business Bureau revoked MyPillow’s A+ grade, turning it into an F. The reason? The company’s never-ending 2-for-1 price “deal,” which goes against BBB standards because Lindell is manufacturing his own product and is therefore his own wholesaler…Lindell was an early supporter of Donald Trump, and that support has not wavered. Trump asked to meet Lindell last summer…“This guy is going to be the most amazing president in history”…There’s the upcoming book, and maybe a movie, with the help of his friend, actor Stephen Baldwin.

By 2016 Lindell and his company were paying heavy fines for proposing “miracle cures” with his pillow for ailments that they could not back up. In November 2016 NBC was reporting that

Minnesota-based company MyPillow was fined $1 million for running ads with false claims of the pillow helping with snoring, fibromyalgia, migraines and other medical conditions, NBC News reported. Prosecutors in nine California counties brought the charges against the misleading infomercials. MyPillow spends about $1.4 million each week on advertising and more than 18 million pillows have been sold in 10 years, according to the Boston Herald. The lawsuit alleged the company “knew or reasonably should have known” their claims were “untrue or misleading”…The company is no longer allowed to claim the pillows cure, prevent or treat any disease without reliable scientific proof.

There were also additional details reported about the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) downgrading of his MyPillow product in January 2017:

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has revoked the accreditation of Minnesota-based MyPillow, lowering its rating to an F based on a pattern of complaints by consumers…“Continuous BOGO offers, which can then be construed as an item’s regular, everyday price, violate not only BBB’s Code of Advertising – which all BBB Accredited Businesses agree to abide by – but also other state and national organizations’ rules.” The BOGO complaint was not the only issue or complaint the BBB brought to MyPillow’s attention. “As Seen on TV” claims are sometimes listed on MyPillow boxes where the content is NOT the same as seen on the company’s TV ads…Photos of MyPillow on some boxes show the premium, gusseted pillow, when the box actually holds their standard pillow. Claims of offering a “full warranty” when the warranty was not full (customers need to pay a fee to return the pillow).

A cagey businessman, Lindell also knew how to endear himself to the Religious Right populace – kiss up to their “Shangri-la” – Liberty University, as reported by the university itself:

12,000 pillows filled the arena seats for the first Convocation of the school year. The pillows, collectively worth $600,000, came as a gift to all in attendance from the day’s speaker, MyPillow inventor and CEO Mike Lindell. School of Business Dean Dave Brat introduced Lindell and presented him with an honorary Doctor of Business. Brat shared that Lindell’s immensely successful company employs 1,600 workers and has sold over 41 million pillows…Liberty President Jerry Falwell also welcomed Lindell, who is a personal friend. “I can’t think of anybody else who epitomizes the principles that built this school than Mike,” he said…He admitted that for many years after he founded MyPillow and wanted to use it to honor God, he was still mired in addiction…in 2016 Lindell found himself in New York City for a meeting with Donald Trump, who was a presidential candidate at the time…“When I met with Donald Trump, it felt like a divine appointment, and when I walked out of that office I decided I was going to go all in”…He previously appeared on the Convocation stage last semester…“You guys here at Liberty are the hope of the nation, and right now you are on the right paths that I didn’t take back then,” Lindell said….President Jerry Falwell Jr. gave students an update on the recent medical issues experienced by Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze.

Hugh Freeze’s program at Ole Miss was discovered by the NCAA giving players and recruits money, help on exams and other illegal favors, causing them to receive severe sanctions, and Freeze himself was found calling escort services on his school cell phone over five years there, and accepted the university offer for him to resign rather than being fired on the university “morals” clause; as you would expect, Falwell and Liberty immediately offered him what became a five year football coaching contract at Liberty.

Lindell was able to maintain direct contact with Trump through 2018, at least through Mar-A-Lago:

MyPillow founder Mike Lindell took a break from battling an F-rating by the Better Business Bureau to chat with the commander-in-chief at Mar-a-Lago over the Easter weekend. Trump told Lindell that he uses one of the Minnesota-based company’s products. “The President shook my hand and told me, ‘You are doing a great job, Michael.’ He also said he is sleeping great on his MyPillow,” Lindell told the Daily News in an email. “I told him, ‘People come up to me all the time to tell me what a great job you are doing and that you are in their prayers,'” Lindell said. “It was an honor to be at Mar-a-Lago on Easter weekend.” Lindell was a guest of a member of the Florida resort when Trump stopped by their table Saturday night…He tweeted on Monday that he wouldn’t be one of the many advertisers pulling TV spots from Laura Ingraham’s show, after its host mocked Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg for getting rejected from several California colleges.

By March 2020, Lindell was still involved in the administration’s activities, even being invited at the time to a Corona Virus task force briefing for the press, and offered to speak about and promote his company, as documented on the White House website in the following transcript excerpt:

[President Trump] A friend of mine, Mike Lindell of MyPillow. Boy, do you sell those pillows. That’s unbelievable what you do…And I just want to tell all of you that America is very grateful to you and what you’ve done. An amazing job you’ve done, and we thank you very much. I’d like you to come up and say a couple of words, if you might, about your companies. Mike, come on up. Come on up, fellas, please. Come on up. You have to say what you’re doing because it’s been really incredible. Go ahead, Mike.

MR. LINDELL: Okay, well, MyPillow is a U.S. vertically integrated company, which has been forced to adjust to the changing business environment as a result of the pandemic…Given our current business lines, we are experiencing the effects of this pandemic firsthand…I proud to manufacture our products in the United States, and I’m even more proud to be able to serve our nation in this great time of need. Thank you, Mr. President, for your call to action when — which has empowered companies like MyPillow to help our nation win this invisible war. Now, I wrote something off the cuff, if I can read this.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay.

MR. LINDELL: (Laughs.) God gave us grace on November 8th, 2016, to change the course we were on. God had been taken out of our schools and lives. A nation had turned its back on God. And I encourage you: Use this time at home to get — home to get back in the Word, read our Bibles, and spend time with our families. Our President gave us so much hope where, just a few short months ago, we had the best economy, the lowest unemployment, and wages going up. It was amazing. With our great President, Vice President, and this administration and all the great people in this country praying daily, we will get through this and get back to a place that’s stronger and safer than ever.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s very nice. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mike. Appreciate it. Please come on up. I did not know he was going to do that, but he’s a friend of mine, and I do appreciate it. Thank you, Mike, very much.

With this special relationship with the President, it was a ideal time to exploit to exploit a business opportunity created by the COVID crisis, even though he had just been fined for making dubious health benefit claims from his core product he sold to the public. To do this, however, he would need the help of another Trump administration insider on the Cabinet, with medical credentials but also a dark reputation of hawking products with disproven health benefits and wild claims of widespread healing potential.

Back in the fall of 2015, Ben Carson was a Republican presidential candidate, very popular with evangelicals and running against Donald Trump for the nomination. As his support levels were peaking, several news outlets noted his main selling point being his world-renown surgical expertise, and the curious reputation he had in endorsing a controversial medical supplement as a paid spokesman before his popular campaign, such as reported then by CBS News:

During Wednesday night’s Republican presidential debate, Ben Carson put in a plug for Mannatech (MTEX), even while dismissing as “propaganda” the suggestion he had ties to the seller of nutritional supplements, which has a questionable track record that included claims its products could cure Downs syndrome, cystic fibrosis and cancer. Asked why he continued to be involved with the company even after it paid millions to settle a deceptive marketing lawsuit in Texas, Carson said: “That’s easy to answer. I didn’t have an involvement with them. That is total propaganda.” “I did a couple of speeches for them,” the retired neurosurgeon went on to say. “I do speeches for other people. They were paid speeches. It is absolutely absurd to say that I had any kind of relationship with them. Do I take the product? Yes, I think it’s a good product.” In an emailed reply to a request for comment, Mike Crouch, Mannatech’s director of communications, [said] The GOP White House hopeful is a “long-term customer and has spoken about his personal and professional experiences at Mannatech events.”

Carson was paid $42,000 to speak at a company event in 2013, while speaking fees for three prior events were donated to the Carson Scholars Fund, Crouch said. In 2004, Carson told a gathering of Mannatech sales associates that the company’s products helped cure his own prostate cancer, saying in a company video: “within about three weeks my symptoms went away, and I was really quite amazed.” The company’s events often feature testimonials making claims that the company’s products have “cured, mitigated, treated, or prevented diseases,” according to a 2007 petition filed by the Texas Attorney General that accused the company of deceptive marketing. “The whole purpose of the testimonials is to create a frenzy and motivate associates to see even more products, in large part through the relaying of deceptive claims set forth in the testimonials.”

Coppell, Texas-based Mannatech earned $6.5 million in 2014 on revenue of $190.1 million. It claims “glyconutrients” in its products contain sugars that bolster immune and digestive function. Mannatech’s business model involves multilevel marketing, a type of direct selling by independent associates not employed by the company, who purchase Mannatech’s products to resell or for personal use. A regulatory filing in August said 228,000 associates or members in two dozen countries had purchased its products within the last 12 months. Other multilevel marketing companies include Nu Skin Enterprises (NUS), Avon Products (AVP) and Herbalife (HLF). Some, most notably Herbalife, have faced claims they are pyramid schemes. According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a pyramid scheme is a form of fraud in which “participants profit almost exclusively through recruiting other people to participate in the program.”

Mannatech’s website includes stories of individuals around the globe that have earning more than $1 million since they began working with the company, including the formerly stressed single mom working three jobs in Australia, who is now able to afford holidays and travel. “Basically what the company is doing is trying to find a way to restore natural diet as a medicine, or as a mechanism, for maintaining health,” Carson said in one Mannatech video. “That’s why I was drawn towards Mannatech because it recognized the influence on health of natural foods.” Dietary and nutritional supplements do not require approval by the FDA to be sold in the United States, due to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. “Carson chose to participate in videos while attending corporate events, where he gave his personal perspective and testimony,” said Crouch, who reiterated the candidate was not a spokesman for the company nor a “paid endorser.”

In March of 2014, Carson shot a PBS special touting “glyconutrients” in a similar vein as he had done in the company’s videos.

Under a 2009 settlement with the Texas attorney general, Mannatech agreed to stop false claims that included pitching its products as cures and treatments for a number of serious illnesses. The company agreed to pay $4 million in restitution to Texas consumers, and its founder paid a $1 million civil penalty. “Texans will not tolerate illegal marketing schemes that prey upon the sick and unsuspecting,” Greg Abbott, the state’s attorney at the time and current governor, said in a statement announcing the accord. The Texas AG’s civil complaint said the company had been notified multiple times by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that its marketing materials made illegal drug claims. Carson’s campaign did not return a request for comment.

I don’t know if the claims of the nutritional supplement of the company Dr. Carson promoted, Mannatech, that it could “cure Down’s Syndrome,” included changing the facial characteristics of those so afflicted, actually removing the extra chromosome from their DNA, or otherwise how it was accomplished.

By August 16, it was being reported that

To the alarm of some government health officials, President Trump has expressed enthusiasm for the Food and Drug Administration to permit an extract from the oleander plant to be marketed as a dietary supplement or, alternatively, approved as a drug to cure COVID-19, despite lack of proof that it works. The experimental botanical extract, oleandrin, was promoted to Trump during an Oval Office meeting in July. It’s embraced by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and MyPillow founder and CEO Mike Lindell, a big Trump backer, who recently took a financial stake in the company that develops the product. Lindell told Axios that in the meeting, Trump “basically said: …’The FDA should be approving it.’

It’s part of a pattern in which entrepreneurs, often without rigorous vetting, push unproven products to Trump — knowing their sales pitches might catch his eye. Trump will then urge FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn to “look at” or speed up approval. In March, Trump personally lobbied Hahn to authorize hydroxychloroquine’s emergency use to treat COVID-19…Senior administration officials familiar with the internal conversations around oleandrin have raised concerns about the way this botanical extract — pushed by Andrew Whitney of Phoenix Biotechnology — is being promoted at the highest levels of the Trump administration. There is no public data showing oleandrin has ever been tested in animals or humans for its efficacy against COVID-19, but the extract has shown some evidence of inhibiting the virus in a non-peer reviewed laboratory study.

HUD Secretary Carson has enthusiastically promoted oleandrin to Trump administration officials and to the president himself. MyPillow CEO Lindell, who is a major advertiser on Fox News and a personal friend of Carson and Trump, helped Whitney get an Oval Office meeting with the president in July to discuss oleandrin as a potential COVID-19 cure…Lindell said that he, Carson, at least one lawyer and, briefly, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, joined Trump and Whitney for the meeting. Notably absent was Hahn, the head of the agency that studies and approves medical treatments. Asked why the HUD secretary was promoting an unproven botanical extract to cure COVID-19, a Carson spokesperson emailed the following statement to Axios: “Secretary Carson is a member of the Coronavirus Task Force, he has been directly involved with the Administration’s response to this disease from the very beginning…To suggest that Secretary Carson, who is a world-renowned expert in the medical field, shouldn’t be involved is not only absurd but unhelpful in our collective fight to eradicate the pandemic.” Whitney said he is pursuing multiple paths to getting oleandrin to market.

The first path is as a COVID-19 drug, which would involve a rigorous process that includes clinical trials.
But to hedge his bets, Whitney said he is also pushing the FDA to allow oleandrin to be sold off the shelf as a dietary supplement — a move that could be made immediately, Whitney has told administration officials.
Whitney has claimed to administration officials that oleandrin cures COVID-19 in two days, according to a source familiar with his private comments. But if the FDA allows oleandrin to be sold as a dietary supplement, the company would not be allowed to make medical claims about its ability to treat or cure COVID-19.

Asked about this claim about oleandrin being a “cure” for COVID-19, Whitney said he stands by it “100%.”
What they’re saying: “Now, there are all sorts of lawyers who would tell me I can’t say things like that, because you know you need to have years of studies, and you need to have this, that, and the other, and so forth,” Whitney said. “But as an American with a right of free expression, I’m telling you, I’ve seen it with my own eyes.”

Whitney said that by “cure” he means the symptoms go away quickly “in the vast majority of cases.”
A source briefed on the situation said Whitney has so far provided no evidence to give the administration confidence about his claims. Whitney disputed that. “Actually, we have provided that,” he said. Asked what human clinical evidence he has provided to the FDA to support his claim that oleandrin cures COVID-19, Whitney did not provide any additional evidence, saying, “At this stage it’s probably best left at that. The data is compelling…We believe we should be given the opportunity to demonstrate that in a hospital clinical trial setting and we believe that must happen now and not a month from now.”

Hahn appears to be resisting Whitney’s efforts — at least so far — despite Trump expressing his enthusiasm for the FDA to approve oleandrin.  Whitney…added: “The process is too slow…We ought to be given an opportunity to test this. Call my bluff!” Whitney has invoked his meeting with the president to apply further pressure on administration officials to approve or authorize oleandrin…Citing the University of Texas study and HUD Secretary Ben Carson’s belief in oleandrin, Whitney said regulators ought to take his product seriously. “This isn’t whipped up in a bucket in someone’s back garden,” he said. “There’s support for this.”

Whitney enlisted Lindell in his effort to speed up approval of the botanical product. In an interview with Axios on Saturday, Lindell spoke passionately in support of oleandrin and said he was such a believer in the botanical that he now has a financial stake in Phoenix Biotechnology and wants to ensure every American has access to this COVID-19 “cure.” Lindell said he first became aware of oleandrin when Whitney called him on Easter Sunday and said it could cure COVID-19. Lindell said he then took the information to Carson, who got on board.
Lindell said he has been taking the unapproved botanical and has shared it with his family and friends. He said he believes it has kept him from getting COVID-19 and has cured other people. (No published clinical studies show the botanical cures or prevents COVID-19. Nor has the FDA said the product is safe or fit for this purpose.) Told about the alarm inside the administration regarding his promotion of oleandrin, Lindell said, “This is the most amazing miracle thing I’ve ever seen in my life, so I went all in…. If you want to know what I think, I think it’s being suppressed because somebody doesn’t want this out there because it works“…Lindell said that in July’s Oval Office meeting, he was joined by President Trump, Carson, Whitney, and briefly White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Lindell said that Stephen Hahn — the head of the FDA, which studies and approves medical treatments — wasn’t there…Whitney said he approached Lindell because he thinks he’s one of the country’s greatest businessmen and was impressed that Lindell mobilized MyPillow to make face masks.

Caree Vander Linden, a spokesperson for the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, emailed the following statement to Axios: “In May 2020, USAMRIID performed some preliminary testing of oleandrin against SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19]. Our results were inconclusive…Given our inconclusive results, and having other high priority therapeutics to assess, we did not continue with this line of research.”

By August 17 CNN reported that “Lindell was added to the board of Phoenix Biotechnology, which makes oleandrin, and received a financial stake in the company” and that he is “chairman of the Minnesota Trump campaign,” and is “very much” thinking about running for public office.

At the time Forbes reported that “Mike Lindell…said Tuesday he was asked by the administration to gather leads on potential treatments for the White House coronavirus task force,” and that “Lindell told CNN host Anderson Cooper that “this great administration” asked him to “bring back to the [White House coronavirus] task force” anything that is promising to fight coronavirus, be they “good sanitizers or cures.”

By September 4, CNN reported that

The US Food and Drug Administration has rejected a submission from Phoenix Biotechnology Inc. to market oleandrin as a dietary supplement ingredient, citing “significant concerns” about the safety evidence the company presented…On June 2, Phoenix Biotechnology submitted oleandrin to the FDA as a new ingredient in dietary supplements, describing the dosage and saying it’s intended only for adults…The FDA’s response letter, dated August 14, was posted by the agency on Wednesday. It said the company had already tested oleandrin as a potential prescription drug and could not at the same time seek permission to sell it as a supplement – a category with almost no oversight. Even if it hadn’t been excluded from the definition of a dietary supplement under the law, the agency had “significant concerns about the evidence included in your submission as a basis for concluding that a dietary supplement containing ‘Oleandrin’ will reasonably be expected to be safe” if used the way the company described…the safety evidence was not “qualitatively and quantitatively” related to oleandrin as a supplement.

Never fear – by August 23 President Trump had already moved on to yet another “magic bullet” to “pull a rabbit out of a hat” with a “miracle cure” before the election, rather than the responsible, adult, time-honored practices of using masks, socially distancing, and aggressively going through the safe, tested protocols for screening safe yet effective vaccines. But – the “snake oil” and “patent medicine” is so much more fun! This time, its a slightly more credible approach of using “convalescent plasma” of the formerly infected (even though its testing and widespread distribution at best would probably not outrace new vaccines in their advanced vetting stages), as The Washington Post reported on August 23rd:

On the eve of the Republican National Convention where President Trump hopes to revive his flagging political fortunes, he will announce the emergency authorization of convalescent plasma for covid-19, a treatment that already has been given to more than 70,000 patients, according to officials familiar with the decision…Many scientists and physicians believe that convalescent plasma might provide some benefit but is far from a breakthrough. It is rich in antibodies that could be helpful in fighting the coronavirus, but the evidence so far has not been conclusive about whether it works, when to administer it and what dose is needed…The president’s political advisers believe that having a vaccine by Election Day is key to his prospects for winning.
It also lands a day after the president without evidence accused the FDA of impeding enrollment in clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics for political reasons“The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics,” Trump said on Twitter on Saturday. “Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd….On Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows defended Trump’s tweet. “I can tell you that the announcement that’s coming today should have been made several weeks ago,” Meadows said on “Fox News Sunday,” previewing the administration’s plans. “…Sometimes you have to make them feel the heat if they don’t see the light.”

 

Upon reflection on the last 33,400 or so words, do we detect a trend here?

Eras and ages of “old guard” members of the “traditionalist” villager populace (now known as conservatives) have historically been skeptical of “new fangled” innovations within science and new ideas, like sanitation, good hygiene, and vaccines. They have traditionally attributed them to conspiracies of witches, sorcery, “forbidden knowledge,” or approaches antithetical to the local fundamentalist “witchfinder general”‘s literal interpretation of a Bible passage, or evidence of a lack of faith in God to solely remedy a situation. Others did not want inconveniences or destroying foul crops or foods, boiling water, or refraining from certain dangerous roots or foods; many thought it infringed upon their “freedom,” even if it perpetuated a Black Death plague to their innocent neighbors, or a corona virus by arrogant unmasked neighbors who insisted on congregating together to flaunt their “freedom” to be reckless, and impose danger upon their more prudent neighbors, and definitely not “loving their neighbor.” This resistance has often been led by the local Christian leadership or wealthy noblemen who stood to lose wealth during such precautions, and both parties often fought a joint front against them. Health innovators or traveling experts, such as those who discovered the affects of poor sanitation and hygiene on disease and eventually the effects of “invisible” germs they could not show them, were usually held in great suspicion, and sometimes were in mortal danger.

However such villagers, including in “Christian” Europe, the Americas and elsewhere, always seemed to accommodate traveling “medicine shows” with “patent medicine” of unknown origin or safety, if the barkers were charismatic and told people what they wanted to hear, with simple, convenient and quick solutions for a “modest price” that went in the hawker’s pocket, and it helped further if they sprinkled some misappropriated Bible verses in their pitch and similar citations, and appealed to their pride. Whether its “patent medicine” they swallow down their gullets or adopt as their theology, the “good folks” have always (by and large) embraced whatever message reinforced what they always wanted to think about themselves, and quick answers that don’t involve sacrifice, inconvenience, patience, or neighbors encouraging and looking out for each other.           

Here, in the midst of the Internet Era and ‘Information Age,” with legitimate answers and vetting at our fingertips, has anything changed?

Now, as in centuries past, the “Bible-believing,” “enlightened” conservative/fundamentalist Religious Right community is among the worst offenders. Now, in our circles, we have “survival buckets” as the answer to an increasingly complex world from which they recommend to retreat, or dietary supplements like fermented mushrooms and the like for “What God Wants You To Do Now” and “How You Can Survive the Corona Virus.” These products not only pay the bills for these ministries, but they are quite lucrative, and the ticket for a prosperous ministry from a frightened follower base.    

It was traveling circus pioneer and exploitation oddity genius P. T. Barnum who was often mis-attributed the phrase, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” If researchers are to be believed, it should actually be attributed to banker David Hannum, who purchased a granite-made hoax statue called the “Cardiff giant,” from a George Hull who had it made in Ft. Dodge, Iowa and buried near his property to make fools of local Christians in his community, who thought it was fossilized remains of “Nephilim” giants – the same topic consuming the minds and discussions of my fellow Christians in my circles for years, with findings of “elongated heads” and tours being quite lucrative for certain “experts” in our Christian circles, developing into a large cottage industry that, in the vernacular of one of its practitioners, “is real, burgeoning and not going away.” When Barnum saw how people were such suckers for such pseudo-biblical relics, he made his own to tour around, leading to Hannum’s lawsuit against Barnum, and his statement of the gullibility of the Christian community. I personally witnessed the original “Cardiff Giant” “fossil” now housed in a museum in the town where it was made – in Ft. Dodge Iowa; where the enigmatic “R.C. Christian” resided that built the even-more enigmatic “Georgia Guidestones” monument (and likely inspired by the “Giant”).

The companies, individuals and organizations affiliated with the burgeoning and opportunistic “COVID miracle cure” industry and racket we have reviewed in this article remind me of another similar “inspirational” businessman and “job creator” who had a successful method of selling products of dubious safety on the gullible public:

LATE BREAKING UPDATE: Our blog friend Micah just sent me this link that shows video stills and videos, and links to detailed reports from the Washington Post that shows Dr. Simone Gold, founder and head of “America’s Frontline Doctors” and major proponent of hydroxychloroquine (and major subject of this two-part series), has been identified as one of the people who entered into the Capitol Building during the domestic terror rush to kidnap or harm congressmen voting to confirm the delegates for the Joe Biden election. In photos she is seen using a bullhorn, and is accompanied by a male colleague who said he was there “for her protection,” although she says she was just there for a conference. She is shown giving a brief speech inside a rotunda area there with her bullhorn before she and others were forced out, which cannot be heard but presumably was against the vaccine and other safety measures. She confirmed her presence inside the Capitol during the raid, but said she saw no violence act, although she is shown crowded around people, such as one man just behind her with the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag. It also appears that she made it on an FBI poster, one version of which from the FBI entitled, “SEEKING INFORMATION – VIOLENCE AT THE UNITED STATES CAPITOL.” There’s no word if her cohort Dr. Stella Immanuel was there, dealing with the “witchcraft” others said was going on at the time, but there were no Magic 8-Balls to be seen there…

The State of the American Christian Union, Part 2 – Hannity and Fox News: Rat Poison for Christians

rat poison

In this part we will indulge in some statistics, and reflect on the significance of the affect of conservative media on the public positions of evangelical Christians, as evidenced by their tangible actions at the ballot box.

First of all, according to those who keep track, the U.S. population currently in 2018 stands at around 327.5 million.  According to exit polling of Edison Research of the 2016 Presidential election, 128,838,342 Americans voted, of which 26% were “white evangelical or born again” Christians, comprising 33,497,969 people.  Of those, 81 percent of those evangelical Christians voted for Trump, or 27,133,355 people.  Remember the scale of this number.  According to the prestigious Pew Research Center, 25.4 percent of Americans are “evangelical Christians”, which shows that evangelicals vote in same proportion as the total U.S. population, and which would make the full evangelical population total 83.2 million.  It also shows that roughly a third (32.6 percent) of all identified evangelicals vote, which would exclude the young, many of the very old, those unable to get to the polls, and the many who are too lazy or self-absorbed to bother to go.  Not only does this third of the evangelical population represent its most engaged and activist portion, which presumably listens to some news somewhere to motivate itself enough to get to the polls, but as representing an overwhelming segment that very publicly embraced Donald Trump and his values, it also presents to the outside world of skeptical unbelievers what evangelicalism is all about, on behalf of the other 74 percent of evangelicals who did not vote for him, and thus impacts all of their abilities in evangelizing and outreach.  These evangelical Trump voters also represent 21 percent of the total voting electorate, and almost 46 percent of all Trump voters, whereas only 35 percent of non-evangelicals voted for Trump; in other words, everyone recognizes that Trump is our president because of the evangelicals, as “their” candidate.

Let’s look now at the numbers of people who listen to a few conservative media outlets, which we can assume produce virtually all of the Trump votes.  First of all, a July 2018 report in Forbes of Sean Hannity’s nightly Fox News TV show reported that he was hosting almost 3.4 million viewers nightly at the time.  The August 2018 data from Talkers Magazine shows that Sean Hannity receives 13.5 million weekly unique radio listeners, Rush Limbaugh 14 million, Michael Savage 11 million,  Glenn Beck 10.5 million, Mark Levin 10 million, Laura Ingraham 8 million, and Mike Gallagher 7 million.  This data does not include the 30 million subscribers to Sirius XM, many of which listen to talk radio.  Since sometimes these shows overlap in their time periods, are on one or no radio stations in many markets, and listeners can only hear one show at a time in their limited in-car time, it is likely that the listener overlap between these individuals is very limited, meaning that many tens of millions of conservative listeners listen to these heavily-opinionated (and many extreme) worldview formers as a “captive audience” every day in their cars, with their focused attention during their 30 to 60 minute drive times each day, as well as being on the radio at work, or shuttling kids.  Those interested in such talk would primarily be those with enough interest to go out and vote – easily covering the 62 or so million Trump voters, and the 27 million evangelicals in his camp.  I routinely hear the “talking points” and terms originating from many of these shows, either sent by communications officials from the administration or ginned up themselves (sometimes forwarded back to presidential communications officials, and in Trump’s case, when he watches them in the mornings), coming verbatim from my friends, such as the “Democratic mob” memes trotted out not long ago.

In contrast as a competing source of ideological influence, that of our pulpits (local churches, not the televangelists and other Christian media), Pew Research reports that 58% of all evangelicals (48.2 million) attend some church event at least once a week in 2014 (but is quickly declining annually), which may or may not include a sermon, and if so may be a single 30 minute or less variety, in one week (I still seem to view this as a large overestimate, based upon what I have observed in our church pews, otherwise our churches would be bursting at the seams, rather than featuring a lot of empty seats, and people who attend “when they feel led to”; other reports like those by Outreach Magazine suggest those numbers are grossly over-reported, and are actually much less).  In any case, I wonder how many of those people are listening carefully in the pews, based upon their public behavior and voting, and I doubt that (with some exception) that parishioners are being exposed to as extreme and concentrated a direct political messaging operation as they get with corporate-paid talk radio.

The punchline of this data is that American Christians are getting 14 or more intense political “sermons” of extended length each week, with motives coming from unknown people with unknown agendas paying for them, except that we know they do not comprise the non-profit, unselfish views of a Bible and Christ that is not selling anything, and is promoting sacrifice, putting others before oneself, turning the other cheek, and the pursuit of reconciliation and a future kingdom driven by love, mercy and forgiveness – all items that just would not “sell” on radio or TV, and certainly not get good ratings.  With this ratio of messaging and high-dollar public relations behind it, the poor pastor and his measly half-hour weekly sermon has no chance to offset the psychological conditioning of conservative talk radio during the week, which has become the real “church” of most conservative Christians, and where they form their real world views, as dictated by advertisers and corporate sponsors.  This is a problem that I have not seen identified anywhere that I have observed, and I think that pastors and Christian leaders (those not totally “in the can” with these hard right media outlets) need to acknowledge that they have a formidable rival for the hearts and minds of active Christians, as opposed to the “godless universities”, movies and “the devil weed”.  This does not even consider the formidable influence of online political news, with The Drudge Report reporting 33 million reads daily and about one billion a month, Youtube (with five billion videos watched each day), Facebook (1.4 billion active users), Yahoo News (175 million uniquely monthly visitors), Google News (150 million), Huffington Post (110 million) – as a juggernaut which will envelop these other media, as people in younger middle age and younger rely almost exclusively on online and social media, and can listen to it 24/7.  The age of people coming to hear an oration and speaker has ended a generation ago; people now prefer the “intimacy” of a recorded voice speaking close to their ear, sometimes while they are controlling their low attention span by doing another task, and receiving much of the message thus subliminally.  

An example case in point is what you will hear conservative Christians believe about Hillary Clinton.  While I am certainly no fan of hers, rather seeing her as a Washington insider (although she paid her dues as a legal activist), I am shocked to see the degree to which normally loving Christian people I know truly despise her, but when I ask for details of specific things she has done that warrant such feelings, they are hard pressed to give specifics, rather than just “impressions”, from unknown sources.  They truly would deal with any “devil” to oppose her, as the last election testifies.  In fact, I have seen repeatedly that there was no criteria or “line drawn” where they would hesitate to support a person, if they opposed Hillary and could beat her, with their votes being merely an “anti-Hillary” vote.  When I ask which specific policies of hers that she has promised to pursue that they oppose, they are also hard pressed to give specifics.  One thing many of them seem to know: that she is a bona-fide witch who operates a pedophile ring under a Washington pizza parlor – albeit without any tangible evidence to confirm such a far-fetched yarn.  These are some of the same people – many of whom I previously thought were pretty wise – who take seriously the mythical “Q Anon” legend, much like Paul Bunyan, and fashion him into whatever Guy Fawkes-type resister they want him to be (or what influential online fearmongers suggest), while pleading ignorance that similar secretive “whistle blowers” like Guccifer 2.0 were outed as Russian operatives, and not who they suggested they were, some time ago, trying to sow general discord within the gullible American public.  My dear, normally-wise and loving Christian friends cannot seem to realize that they have been conditioned to have these irrational thoughts without vetting – which all of us online are vulnerable to – and subject to “psy ops” via the mass media in conservative talk radio.  Its similar to how the same conservative media has demonized the term “liberal” to mean the vilest of all (although the Bible says that God gives to men liberally (James 1:9), and the King James Version of those described as “liberals” (such as Isaiah 32:8) are alternatively translated at “generous” or “noble”), as well as “socialist” being another term just below “devil worshipper”, although many of our Christian brethren in Europe happily live in socialist countries, and have no desire to leave.

This phenomena of conservative media on the public, and Christian community, is certainly nothing new, and was built on earlier foundations, although it has certainly “amped up” in the last quarter century.  You could say that some of its early origins were amongst the Sanhedrin, whose high priest Caiaphas was concerned that ” If we let him [Jesus] thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation” – a true priority of a conservative, to conserve the public order and status quo of power and class (John 11:48), and who made false accusations of Jesus for violating conservative “traditions” (with Jesus in turn asking them ”  Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” (Matt. 15:3) – which would make him not a good, tradition-loving conservative), and who used their early mass media to give “fake news” about Jesus not only in the courtroom , but among the crowds, to make him an anti-tradition, anti-conservative who needed to be stopped.  Conservative use of the public was also common among the Romans and Greeks – where the term demagogue originated – always finding a scapegoat outsider to blame for their mismanagement and woes, or even false-flag attacks, such as the Christians blamed (as a feared minority religion, having had many lies told about them) for the fires in Nero’s Rome.  Conservative Christian leaders were used to colluding with power structures, such as Constantine in Rome, to then anathematize many of their brethren having slightly different views of disputable and mysterious theological issues, and thus eliminate rival priests and help Constantine galvanize power and use Christianity to cement and stabilize the empire and control.  They worked within the Catholic church to humble independent kings (and Popes themselves by the cardinals), and provoke the masses to crusades not only against Muslims, but even rival Christian sects.  Conservative Lutherans and Calvinists soon got in the act, while those deemed liberal, like the Quakers, were seen as pacifists and non-violent, and the object of their scorn.  Conservative, unyielding and uncompromising Christians of all stripes in Europe kept the continent in flames in religious wars, with the less fundamentalist folk caught in the crossfire.  Some Christian groups were persecuted by their fellow conservatives, like the Puritans by the Anglicans, to which they fled to the New World to do some fundamentalist persecution of their own, against Baptists and Quakers.  Conservatives justified the institution of slavery, while the liberal denominations fought it.  The Protestant sects participated in a wave of anti-Catholic, anti-Mason and anti-immigrant persecution over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, while at the same time the liberal Christian groups began to address poverty and social injustice.

However, conservative media and influence came into its own in the Twentieth Century, with the development of mass media, in addition to print.  Some of the early stars, like Father Coughlin, had audiences in the millions, and focused on pro-fascist and anti-semitic positions.  Others continued in the anti-Catholic tradition.  Many took up the anti-Communist cause, and some transitioned into anti-education, anti-science, or anti-socialism.  Do you detect a trend here?  We should not forget the Klan, who by the 1920s had already compiled the basic modern conservative Christian agenda of prayer in schools, the Ten Commandments in the court room, mandatory church attendance, and the promotion of “Christian soldiers”, as fifteen percent of all men in the U.S. were members of the Klan by 1925.  One thing they did take a positive position on was money – free enterprise and capitalism, and big business, and sacredized it – leading to today’s Christian emphasis on these principles (with them being in the statements of purpose at Liberty University), helping big business in overseas missionary ventures, like Dole in Hawaii and United Fruit Company in Central America, and setting the stage for the “name it and claim it”, “prosperity gospel” and televangelists in the latter part of the century.  Alternatively, they took a hard line against Roosevelt’s “Great Society” welfare and jobs assistance for those suffering during the Great Depression, and “welfare cheats” and “deadbeats” ever since.

There ultimately became various strains of conservatism, soon after it popped up in history.  One strain stood behind tradition – in power structures and the divine right of kings, and would be known as monarchists or royalists later, and protected the widespread power of the king, and the wealthy noblemen and aristocrats supporting them, and despised democracy.  Another strain soon supported tradition in religion, and its existing power structures – not only in Rome, but also in Canterbury or Constantinople, and opposed any independent expression, or resources not centralized under the hierarchy, or attempts to fill the populace with “dangerous ideas”, such as from the Bible, which would have been seen as quite liberal and progressive, and certainly not ‘traditional”.  Another strain would be the military, comprising military members who wanted a strong military not answerable to anyone, and an adventurous foreign policy.  Yet another would be “money class”, comprising bankers and big business, based upon the earlier Knights Templar and Rothchilds templates, and typified in the City of London and later Wall Street, and arguably the most powerful segment of conservatism, with its wealth buying and controlling its rival segments, and with an argument that it strongly influences the CIA, and Goldman Sachs and hedge fund managers now the most important elements.  Beyond these, we have the “fringe” elements, which can be influential at times, and often comprise hybrids of these established groups, like the John Birch Society, founded in 1958 as an anti-Communism movement often seen as a conspiracy-theory group that distrusts all global entanglements, and now sees a secret Illuminati cartel or cabal even above that of International Communism.  In contrast, the banker conservatives tend to be internationalists (for there is money to be made and controlled), and mainstream conservatives like Eisenhower would be viewed as potential Communist collaborators.  The Religious Right is another “fringe” group that is not so fringe in size, and is essential for conservative political victories, but usually ends up on the short end of the stick when getting payouts for their hard work keeping the rank and file to the polls (for example, for 28 or more years of Republican power since Roe V. Wade, they did not do much to curb abortions at all, as is always promised, although to be fair the Religious Right groups did not originally oppose abortions, including the Southern Baptists, until the Religious Right groups first formed to stop Christian school integration, and adopted the anti-abortion platform more into the 1980s.  William F. Buckley was the standard bearer of the “blue blood”, aristocratic Ivy League conservatives, with his Firing Line show (on public television, no less) being the main conservative mass media forum from 1966 until 1988, and the rise of Rush Limbaugh.   Rush took his conservative “with an attitude” radio show national in 1988, as Bush 43 was getting ready to be elected, and virtually invented talk radio as a force of societal change, and still going strong thirty years later, with no liberal rival.  Sean Hannity then became a similar force, beginning in national talk radio and the first conservative cable news network, Fox News, in 1996, in the middle of the Clinton Administration.  Around that same time, Matt Drudge began to perform the same revolution on the Internet, initially seeming more even handed in his criticism, but as he aged became more sympathetic to right-leaning positions, as well as his spinoff from Andrew Breitbart, and hard-right conspiracy trouble-maker Alex Jones.  So one can see, there is a long legacy of conservative conditioning of the public, for which the evangelical community appears most vulnerable and gullible.

As seen at the top of this blog post, I believe that outlets such as Fox News (with their veritable “HeeHaw Honeys”, with their short skirts and low cut blouses that only feature attractive, mostly young women, talking about “family values” (and which makes no surprise that the organization was rife with infidelity and sexual harassment)), Sean Hannity and their ilk, talking about despising immigrants, encouraging war and intimidation, justifying torture and secret detainment with out trial (or secret trials without defendant rights), supporting the cause of the powerful institutions (like the police) always over a populace that might have been wronged, suspicions of those of different faiths, love of money and the powerful, and veneration of big business as the saviors of society while denigrating public servants if not in the military, all with a big dose of swagger and bullying, is in effect a “rat poison” that kills the conscience, morality, character, circumspectness, mercy, humility and love for others that is essential for well-functioning Christians, and has done more to handicap the Christian cause and reputation in America than any Communist or liberal professor could ever do.   It took a long time to purge that “poison” out of my system, and I encourage all readers to take a Fox News and talk radio “break” for an extended time, instead reading the words of our Lord, and see if you don’t start having the same second-thoughts that I did – if our consciences aren’t already seared. 

In the last segment of this series, we will briefly summarize how this historical trend, leading to the Trump revolution, will influence evangelicals in the generation ahead and behind, how they are perceived, and their mission to evangelize the lost.

 

 

Think our technology gurus will save us? Think again!

I came across a splendid article a couple of days ago, on of all things, the business news website CNBC.  I thought the author, although a secularist, wrote about a fascinating experience he had recently, and his insight on their significance I thought was quite enlightened.  I shared it with my closest friends, and upon further ponderance I thought it might be of some merit for the readers of this blog.  You can currently read it in its entirety at this highlighted link.  It is so well written that I will quote much of it, followed by a little commentary of my own.

I should first explain a little bit about what I just learned about the author, Dr. Douglas Rushkoff.  Although he is a professor, he is best known as being the cutting-edge visionary at the dawn of the Internet Age, at its beginning in the early 90s, before it really took off, and coining terms such as “viral media”.  He has had an interest in modernizing and reforming Judaism, and getting it back to its supposed “open source” roots (to use the cyber-culture vernacular)  An abbreviated sampling of his bio includes some of the following things said about him:

Douglas Rushkoff is a writer, documentarian, and lecturer whose work focuses on human autonomy in a digital age.  He is the author of fifteen bestselling books on media, technology, and society, including Program or Be Programmed, Present Shock, and Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus.  He has made such award-winning PBS Frontline documentaries as Generation Like, Merchants of Cool, and The Persuaders, and is the author of graphic novels including Testament and Aleister & Adolf…Named one of the world’s ten most influential intellectuals by MIT, he is responsible for originating such concepts as “viral media,” “social currency,” and “digital natives.” Today, Dr. Rushkoff serves as Professor of Media Theory and Digital Economics at CUNY/Queens, where he recently founded the Laboratory for Digital Humanism and hosts its TeamHuman podcast.  He is also a research fellow at the Institute for the Future…Winner of the Media Ecology Association’s first Neil Postman award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity, Dr. Douglas Rushkoff is an author, teacher, and documentarian who focuses on the ways people, cultures, and institutions create, share, and influence each other’s values.  He is…technology and media commentator for CNN…and a lecturer on media, technology, culture and economics around the world…His previous best-selling books on media and popular culture have been translated to over thirty languages….His other books include CyberiaMedia VirusPlaying the FutureNothing Sacred: The Truth about Judaism,…Rushkoff also wrote the acclaimed novels Ecstasy Club and Exit Strategy and graphic novel, Club Zero-G.  He wrote the graphic novels Testament and A.D.D., for Vertigo.  He has written and hosted three award-winning PBS Frontline documentaries – The Merchants of Cool looked at the influence of corporations on youth culture, The Persuaders, about the cluttered landscape of marketing, and new efforts to overcome consumer resistance, and Digital Nation, about life on the virtual frontier…His commentaries have aired on CBS Sunday Morning and NPR’s All Things Considered, and have appeared in publications from The New York Times to Time magazine. He wrote the first syndicated column on cyberculture for The New York Times and Guardian of London, as well as regular columns for ArthurDiscover Magazine and The Feature…He also lectures about media, art, society, and change at conferences and universities around the world.”

“He has served on the…the United Nations Commission on World Culture, and as a founding member of Technorealism…He has been awarded a Fullbright Scholarship…He served as an Advisor to the United Nations Commission on World Culture and regularly appears on TV shows from NBC Nightly News and Larry King to the Colbert Report and Bill Maher….Rushkoff is on the board of several new media non-profits and companies, and regularly speaks about media, society and ethics to museums, governments, synagogues, churches, universities, and companies.  Rushkoff earned his PhD in New Media and Digital Culture from Utrecht University with a dissertation entitled Monopoly Moneys: The media environment of corporatism and the player’s way out. He graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University, received an MFA in Directing from California Institute of the Arts, a post-graduate fellowship (MFA) from The American Film Institute, a Fulbright award to lecture on narrative in New Zealand, and a Director’s Grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  He has worked as a certified stage fight choreographer, an SAT tutor, and as keyboardist for the industrial band PsychicTV.”

Sounds like a real underachiever.  I hope his credibility is sufficient that we can trust the following things he shares with us in his article.

I’ll let him explain the incidents that led to his unique experience and interpretations of its significance:

“Last year, I got invited to a super-deluxe private resort to deliver a keynote speech to what I assumed would be a hundred or so investment bankers.  It was by far the largest fee I had ever been offered for a talk — about half my annual professor’s salary — all to deliver some insight on the subject of ‘the future of technology’.  I’ve never liked talking about the future.  The Q&A sessions always end up more like parlor games, where I’m asked to opine on the latest technology buzzwords as if they were ticker symbols for potential investments: blockchain, 3D printing, CRISPR.  The audiences are rarely interested in learning about these technologies or their potential impacts beyond the binary choice of whether or not to invest in them.  But money talks, so I took the gig.  After I arrived, I was ushered into what I thought was the green room.  But instead of being wired with a microphone or taken to a stage, I just sat there at a plain round table as my audience was brought to me: five super-wealthy guys — yes, all men — from the upper echelon of the hedge fund world.  After a bit of small talk, I realized they had no interest in the information I had prepared about the future of technology.  They had come with questions of their own.”

“They started out innocuously enough.  Ethereum or bitcoin?  Is quantum computing a real thing?  Slowly but surely, however, they edged into their real topics of concern.  Which region will be less impacted by the coming climate crisis: New Zealand or Alaska?  Is Google really building Ray Kurzweil a home for his brain, and will his consciousness live through the transition, or will it die and be reborn as a whole new one?  Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked, ‘How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?’  For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future.”

“The Event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr. Robot hack that takes everything down.  This single question occupied us for the rest of the hour.  They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs.  But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless?  What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader?  The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew.  Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival.  Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers — if that technology could be developed in time.  That’s when it hit me: At least as far as these gentlemen were concerned, this was a talk about the future of technology.  Taking their cue from Elon Musk colonizing Mars, Peter Thiel reversing the aging process, or Sam Altman and Ray Kurzweil uploading their minds into supercomputers, they were preparing for a digital future that had a whole lot less to do with making the world a better place than it did with transcending the human condition altogether and insulating themselves from a very real and present danger of climate change, rising sea levels, mass migrations, global pandemics, nativist panic, and resource depletion.  For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.”

“There’s nothing wrong with madly optimistic appraisals of how technology might benefit human society.  But the current drive for a post-human utopia is something else.  It’s less a vision for the wholesale migration of humanity to a new a state of being than a quest to transcend all that is human: the body, interdependence, compassion, vulnerability, and complexity.  As technology philosophers have been pointing out for years, now, the transhumanist vision too easily reduces all of reality to data, concluding that ‘humans are nothing but information-processing objects‘.  It’s a reduction of human evolution to a video game that someone wins by finding the escape hatch and then letting a few of his BFFs come along for the ride.  Will it be Musk, Bezos, Thiel…Zuckerberg?  These billionaires are the presumptive winners of the digital economy — the same survival-of-the-fittest business landscape that’s fueling most of this speculation to begin with.  Of course, it wasn’t always this way.  There was a brief moment, in the early 1990s, when the digital future felt open-ended and up for our invention. Technology was becoming a playground for the counterculture, who saw in it the opportunity to create a more inclusive, distributed, and pro-human future.  But established business interests only saw new potentials for the same old extraction, and too many technologists were seduced by unicorn IPOs.  Digital futures became understood more like stock futures or cotton futures — something to predict and make bets on.  So nearly every speech, article, study, documentary, or white paper was seen as relevant only insofar as it pointed to a ticker symbol.  The future became less a thing we create through our present-day choices or hopes for humankind than a predestined scenario we bet on with our venture capital but arrive at passively.”

“This freed everyone from the moral implications of their activities.  Technology development became less a story of collective flourishing than personal survival.  Worse, as I learned, to call attention to any of this was to unintentionally cast oneself as an enemy of the market or an anti-technology curmudgeon.  So instead of considering the practical ethics of impoverishing and exploiting the many in the name of the few, most academics, journalists, and science-fiction writers instead considered much more abstract and fanciful conundrums: Is it fair for a stock trader to use smart drugs?  Should children get implants for foreign languages?  Do we want autonomous vehicles to prioritize the lives of pedestrians over those of its passengers?  Should the first Mars colonies be run as democracies?  Does changing my DNA undermine my identity?  Should robots have rights?  Asking these sorts of questions, while philosophically entertaining, is a poor substitute for wrestling with the real moral quandaries associated with unbridled technological development in the name of corporate capitalism.  Digital platforms have turned an already exploitative and extractive marketplace (think Walmart) into an even more dehumanizing successor (think Amazon).  Most of us became aware of these downsides in the form of automated jobs, the gig economy, and the demise of local retail.  The future became less a thing we create through our present-day choices or hopes for humankind than a predestined scenario we bet on with our venture capital but arrive at passively.”

“But the more devastating impacts of pedal-to-the-metal digital capitalism fall on the environment and global poor.  The manufacture of some of our computers and smartphones still uses networks of slave labor.  These practices are so deeply entrenched that a company called Fairphone, founded from the ground up to make and market ethical phones, learned it was impossible. (The company’s founder now sadly refers to their products as “fairer” phones.)  Meanwhile, the mining of rare earth metals and disposal of our highly digital technologies destroys human habitats, replacing them with toxic waste dumps, which are then picked over by peasant children and their families, who sell usable materials back to the manufacturers.  This ‘out of sight, out of mind’ externalization of poverty and poison doesn’t go away just because we’ve covered our eyes with VR goggles and immersed ourselves in an alternate reality.  If anything, the longer we ignore the social, economic, and environmental repercussions, the more of a problem they become.  This, in turn, motivates even more withdrawal, more isolationism and apocalyptic fantasy — and more desperately concocted technologies and business plans.  The cycle feeds itself.  The more committed we are to this view of the world, the more we come to see human beings as the problem and technology as the solution.  The very essence of what it means to be human is treated less as a feature than bug.  No matter their embedded biases, technologies are declared neutral.  Any bad behaviors they induce in us are just a reflection of our own corrupted core.  It’s as if some innate human savagery is to blame for our troubles.  Just as the inefficiency of a local taxi market can be ‘solved’ with an app that bankrupts human drivers, the vexing inconsistencies of the human psyche can be corrected with a digital or genetic upgrade.”

“Ultimately, according to the technosolutionist orthodoxy, the human future climaxes by uploading our consciousness to a computer or, perhaps better, accepting that technology itself is our evolutionary successor.  Like members of a gnostic cult, we long to enter the next transcendent phase of our development, shedding our bodies and leaving them behind, along with our sins and troubles.  Our movies and television shows play out these fantasies for us.  Zombie shows depict a post-apocalypse where people are no better than the undead — and seem to know it.  Worse, these shows invite viewers to imagine the future as a zero-sum battle between the remaining humans, where one group’s survival is dependent on another one’s demise.  Even Westworld — based on a science-fiction novel where robots run amok — ended its second season with the ultimate reveal: Human beings are simpler and more predictable than the artificial intelligences we create.  The robots learn that each of us can be reduced to just a few lines of code, and that we’re incapable of making any willful choices.  Heck, even the robots in that show want to escape the confines of their bodies and spend their rest of their lives in a computer simulation.  The very essence of what it means to be human is treated less as a feature than bug.  The mental gymnastics required for such a profound role reversal between humans and machines all depend on the underlying assumption that humans suck. Let’s either change them or get away from them, forever.”

“Thus, we get tech billionaires launching electric cars into space — as if this symbolizes something more than one billionaire’s capacity for corporate promotion.  And if a few people do reach escape velocity and somehow survive in a bubble on Mars — despite our inability to maintain such a bubble even here on Earth in either of two multibillion-dollar Biosphere trials — the result will be less a continuation of the human diaspora than a lifeboat for the elite.  When the hedge funders asked me the best way to maintain authority over their security forces after ‘the event’, I suggested that their best bet would be to treat those people really well, right now.  They should be engaging with their security staffs as if they were members of their own family.  And the more they can expand this ethos of inclusivity to the rest of their business practices, supply chain management, sustainability efforts, and wealth distribution, the less chance there will be of an ‘event’ in the first place.  All this technological wizardry could be applied toward less romantic but entirely more collective interests right now.  They were amused by my optimism, but they didn’t really buy it.  They were not interested in how to avoid a calamity; they’re convinced we are too far gone.  For all their wealth and power, they don’t believe they can affect the future.  They are simply accepting the darkest of all scenarios and then bringing whatever money and technology they can employ to insulate themselves — especially if they can’t get a seat on the rocket to Mars.  Luckily, those of us without the funding to consider disowning our own humanity have much better options available to us.  We don’t have to use technology in such antisocial, atomizing ways.  We can become the individual consumers and profiles that our devices and platforms want us to be, or we can remember that the truly evolved human doesn’t go it alone.  Being human is not about individual survival or escape. It’s a team sport. Whatever future humans have, it will be together.”

Beyond the wisdom shown by this man, marinated in the cyber-culture ethos, his chilling description of these powerful figures already committed to planning to “check out” and giving up on humanity has been warned about in the past by conspiracy figures such as Alex Jones and Tom Horn, but none have been able to so holistically and articulately put all the pieces together and in context as this author (whose credibility makes his astonishing testimony all the more disturbing).

Unfortunately, in my view these other cited figures and others have in many ways “sold out” to supporting the authoritarian figures in riot gear and political partisans that they warned about previously, riding the current fad of nationalistic or immigrant-hating fervor, or hitched their wagons to and promoted laughable charlatans and snake-oil prophets (better make that “profits”).  It takes a relative secularist to rise above such buffoonery and to see the “signs of the times”, which Jesus said the religious leaders could not see; wouldn’t it be great to have such visionaries on our Kingdom of Heaven “team”?  He “gets” that we are “our brother’s keeper”, and even if conservative Republicans hate the idea of “collectivism” or even “socialism” (as practiced by our Book of Acts early church forbearers), it becomes obvious that if we do not embrace social norms, mindsets, practices and policies that “raise all boats”, before long, the elites with their ever-increasing centralization of wealth, and while the environment continues to be trashed and refugees continue to stack up worldwide, will soon raise their barbed-wire walls of their castles with guards to “shoot to kill”, while the desperate remainders (including us) will die killing each other, or storming their gates.  Couldn’t we as Christians at least consider assisting someone like this author, and help with the process to exploit these technological opportunities to aid all our brothers and sisters, rather than a free-market, Darwinistic “survival of the fittest” approach we have praised in our churches and discourse?  Shouldn’t we be willing to try out the principles Jesus already said would be the eternal “Kingdom of Heaven” ground rules of unselfish use of societal and global resources to benefit all, even if checkered by failure due to our fallen natures, and try to “set the bar” as examples for the rest of the moral and upright peoples of the world, to inspire them? 

If we don’t, and rather munch on popcorn as we deem the world’s wars and destruction as “entertainment” (as I see in the “emojis” of the posts of so many Bible prophecy message boards), then our “apocalyptic fever” will only be trumped (excuse the pun) by a hyper-paranoid elite, and their heralds in the hedge-fund community who are here to “play hard ball” in this full-stakes game on behalf of their unnamed super-rich, who will in effect bring on the very apocalypse of which they suggest they are so afraidWill Christians get their act together to see the real “signs of the times”, and lead the exodus out of “Babylon”, and “rescue the perishing” as much as possible, or just stay in their own bunker, out of touch with the real issues, and in effect just be part of the problem?   

As a Christian who was raised in a conservative Christian home, I realized how in that culture, businessmen and the wealthy were considered “successes” to emulate and heroes and role models of a type, as the saviors in a conservative view of society, and holding the keys to fix society and solve problems as opposed to non-profit enterprises (including government); we even pick our leaders based on their perceived business “success”.  This article shows that we should not look to these businessmen to be a “Moses” to lead us through the desert of an uncertain future, via technology.  I repeat, the big question to me is whether Christians, as individuals and corporately, will even recognize these things as a moral and spiritual issue, and their duty to provide an honest and non-agenda seeking source to help everybody, or rather focus on their own trivial or selfish issues, as they normally do.

My close friend Paul in Texas, a long-time Future Quake listener as well and thoughtful sage in my circle, provided the following comments to the article we just reviewed:

 “I found it a little amusing to assume that the small group the author spoke to were all old white guys.  If that assumption is true it seems like another case of conflating the end of their white imperialist world with the end of peaceable life on earth.  Much like the mentality encountered within christian evangelical groups.  I find that I agreed with this author on all accounts including his positive outlook on the future.  It’s a nice reminder that we’re not alone in the fight to bring the values of Jesus into the light.”

I find a lot of spiritual wisdom to unpack in those brief, laconic words.  I look forward to hearing what other readers say, beyond my lengthy and stumbling manner of trying to put them into a real Jesus-view perspective.

Field Trip Report: The Anawim, and The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

“But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek [anawim] of the earth”  Isaiah 11:4

“For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor [anawim] shall not perish for ever.” Psalm 9:18

 

 

One Sunday some time ago my pastor preached a sermon that included a mention and discussion of the “Anawim” – a category of people mentioned in the Bible.  My recollection is that he pointed out that they were the people Jesus said He came to minister to and represent, and whose issues and concerns were paramount on God’s mind, and the concept never left me.  He used several Bible passages that used the Hebrew word (or its Greek word by similarity) to to describe them and God’s thoughts on them, and among the definitions he cited of them, including “the poor ones”, or “the humble” or “meek”, one of the most interesting is “the lost and forgotten ones”.  I have had great difficulty finding “official” definitions of the term (even the Jewish Encyclopedia doesn’t seem to include it), but numerous religious citations online use this latter definition as well.  An article by the Catholic News Agency gives a pretty standard working definition of who they represented:

“The anawim of the Old Testament were the poor of every sort: the vulnerable, the marginalized, and socio-economically oppressed, those of lowly status without earthly power. In fact, they depended totally on God for whatever they owned. The Hebrew word anawim (inwetan) means those who are bowed down.”

A review of the old trusty Blue Letter Bible reveals that the Outline of Biblical Usage of the singular form anav describes it in scripture as meaning “poor”, “needy”, “humble”, “afflicted” or “meek”.  A similar entry for the related term anah includes the ideas of being “wretched”, “stooped over” (as in oppression or because of one’s humble estate before others), or to be “depressed”, “downcast” or “humiliated”.

When one reviews the different ways in which the Bible uses the terms, you pretty quickly get the picture that it represents the people who are the opposite of the “movers and shakers” of the world, and those who “have connections” either financial or political.  This would comprise the overwhelming portion of people who have ever lived on the earth, including slaves, peasants, serfs, and indentured servants, and their modern variants.  The pages of history ignore these nameless people, even though they built walls, cities, bridges, dug canals, rowed ships, constructed monuments, fought the wars on behalf of the rich, blasted through mountains for the railroads, and generally built the world that we enjoy, not to mention do housekeeping, car washing, janitorial services, lawn care, fast food work and some combination thereof for most of us.

They are lightly regarding in advertising and business ventures, because they are not seen as having deep enough pockets of disposable income to be targeted, in comparison to image-conscious and fad-addicted yuppies and other middle and upper classes, who are easy pickings to feed their vanity; the former’s lot is to be earmarked for liquor, cigarette and lottery ticket inducements and advertising.  While we’re at it, we should include other categories that are the “lost and forgotten ones” in our society, most of whom are in some form of institutional or pseudo-institutional care outside their total control, including the elderly and home-bound, the disabled, those in homeless shelters, on the streets, mental care facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, detention homes, prisons and jails and the like.  It’s as if these people didn’t exist – Madison Avenue doesn’t care about them because they don’t have enough disposal income to spend, Wall Street doesn’t because they don’t have enough to invest, politicians don’t because they can’t contribute to campaigns and often can’t even get out to vote, and, sadly, even many churches don’t because these people can’t contribute to their coffers.  No one is representing their interests except God, and a few groups of limited resources – these people can’t even afford a lawyer to look out for them.  You normally don’t see these people in TV shows, advertising, or the focus of the public discourse, and seen as real people – even though many of us will join their ranks eventually.  In the meantime, these are the people we see as a “burden” and being “in the way”. 

Many American Christians deride any whiff of socialism or attempts to “redistribute the wealth” to lazy low-income people, with programs such as “equal opportunity” and credits or tax breaks for tuition and the like (although they quietly avail themselves of such programs when no one is looking).  However, one the earliest efforts of historical national income redistribution was not by the Communists, but by God Himself in the only government He established in detail, in ancient Israel under the guidance of the Mosaic Law.  God knew how fallen man – even the “chosen people” – in societal environments would result in an inevitable exploitation of the anawim and stratification of wealth into a feudalistic system, and thus instituted many novel civil rights and policies to protect the underclass.  He prevented lenders from confiscating the income-earning tools of their debtors, and even their cloaks used to keep them warm, and many other means to restrain the coercive power of income disparity.  The chief of these was the jubilee year, in which the wealth (expressed in real estate) gradually confiscated by the wealth class had to be returned to the original historical families in the jubilee year, with all debts forgiven, as a command of the Law itself.  While that occurred every fiftieth year, every seventh year the land was to experience a sabbath jubilee and rest from being cultivated, while the food the grew wild in its place was to be shared by the whole community that year, and not just the land owners.  Furthermore, Hebrew slaves were released from servitude at that time, so as to not create generations of slaves.  God also instituted wise prescriptions to accommodate the socially-beneficial aspects of the Jubilee, while not unnecessarily exploiting temporary owners between their observances, such as letting them buy land on a pro-rated basis of remaining time before the jubilee.  This is in stark contrast to what they observed in Egypt, which was the confiscation of a nation’s wealth due to a temporary famine – under the direction of Joseph, no less  – who first confiscated the people’s land and working tools in exchange for grain, and then put them to work on government land, in government housing, and afterwards provided them seed to develop long-term wealth for the State, as recorded in the late chapters of Genesis, and was repeated by the American government in 2008, as I wrote in How to Overcome the Most Frightening Issues You Will Face This Century.

A Jewish Christian writes online that “In the ancient world, owning land was greatly prized because it was a source of food, income and security.  In that economy where people depended on the crops they raised, if a family had a bad harvest and ran out of food, they were forced to go into debt or even sell their land.  If they couldn’t recover but fell further behind, they would have to sell themselves into slavery or leave the country, like Naomi and Elimelech in the book of Ruth.  People did not borrow money and sell land for business purposes, they did it only out of desperate economic need.  So the Jubilee was for one main purpose – to provide for the poor who had gone into debt or lost their land, so that they would be able to start over again.  Without it, the wealthy would always do better in bad years, and the land would tend to move into their hands while those who had lost their land would become permanently enslaved”.  She adds that “Another effect of the Jubilee would be to stop the destruction of families.  If a man lost his land and sold himself and his family into slavery, or if he moved out of the country, he would be likely to never see his family together again.  Part of the reason Naomi was distraught was because not only had she lost her hope for future descendants, but by leaving Israel, she also lost her family and past.  When she returned, she was reunited with her family.  So the year of Jubilee was to be a year that people returned home and families were brought together again”.  She laments that “Did Israel ever actually observe the year of Jubilee?  The evidence suggests that they never did.  It says in 2 Chronicles that they never let the land have its Sabbath years every seventh year, and if they never did that, they most likely never observed the year of Jubilee either.  Several of the prophets lament the exploitation of the poor by the rich, which also hints that they never observed a Jubilee year”.

God in fact warned the Hebrews when He gave them the Law what would happen to them if they did not honor the sabbaths and jubilees, and harness their greed by letting the land rest, sharing the excess after the years of saving with the members of their community, and eventually forgiving debts and intentionally re-distributing wealth, as God prescribed for a healthy society.  He wrote them in the Torah in Leviticus 26 that if they did not honor the sabbaths and other aspects of the law, they would be driven outside their promised land and into captivity, and “I will scatter you among the heathen, and will draw out a sword after you: and your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste.  Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate, and ye [be] in your enemies’ land; [even] then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths.  As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it” [Lev 26:33-35 KJV].  The people of Israel evidently did not believe God or like His idea of restraining the wealth accumulation by their elites in competition, because it appears they did not obey the Jubilee sanctions in the Law, and as a result they were led into captivity in Babylon for as long as it took for the land to experience it lost jubilees.  In 2 Chronicles it is written of this Exile in Babylon, “And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: [for] as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years” [2Ch 36:20-21 KJV].  Ironically, the pagan king Nebuchadnezzar was the one who not only honored Jeremiah by raising him from the latrine his Jewish leaders had thrown him in, but also re-distributed the wealth to the poor Jews remaining in the land; no wonder God called pagan Nebuchadnezzar “my servant”, and gave him the land (Jer. 27:6).  Even before that time when the situation was desperate, the Jewish nobility got the idea that they would curry God’s favor by releasing their fellow Jews from slavery as servants, since they had not done that before as commanded, but not long thereafter they missed having the servants wait on their every need (much as we exploit immigrants today), and soon re-subjugated them, which made God only madder.  God is serious about the poor getting relief from exploitation and “another shot”, and if His people won’t do it, He’ll send in outside invaders to get it done, and I assume He still has the same attitude.       

The Jewish Encyclopedia adds some further details.  They write that the Jubilee began with the blowing of the shofar at the Day of Atonement – which could signify that the release of debt of everyone in society was an extension of the release of eternal debt God granted to the people each year at that day, similar to how Jesus portrayed us as receiving forgiveness of “great debt” from the Master, but then immediately being hesitant to grant forgiveness for small debts from others.  They add that during the seventh year rest of the land “one shall neither sow nor reap as hitherto for his private gain, but all members of the community—the owner, his servants, and strangers—as well as domestic and wild animals, shall share in consuming the natural or spontaneous yield of the soil”.   They add that the fiftieth year Jubilee included “the compulsory restoration of hereditary properties…to the original owners or their legal heirs, and the emancipation of all Hebrew servants whose term of six years is unexpired…The regulations of the Sabbatical year include also the annulment of all monetary obligations between Israelites, the creditor being legally barred from making any attempt to collect his debt (Deut. xv. 1)”.  They add that “rest from labor is an absolute necessity both for animal and for vegetable life; that continuous cultivation will eventually ruin the land.  The law of the Sabbatical year acts also as a statute of limitation or a bankruptcy law for the poor debtor, in discharging his liability for debts contracted, and in enabling him to start life anew on an equal footing with his neighbor, without the fear that his future earnings will be seized by his former creditors.  The jubilee year was the year of liberation of servants whose poverty had forced them into employment by others. Similarly all property alienated for a money consideration to relieve poverty, was to be returned to the original owners without restoration of the amount which had been advanced”.

The authors also note that in the rabbinic era the leaders began to trim the provisions and shrink the utility of the jubilee, as they turned to more of a mercantile society.  Furthermore, they note that as Jewish colonists returned to Palestine in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, “The leaders of the movement…claimed that the law is now obsolete”.  Because this caused a guilty conscience in the religiously observant portion of the people, they write that the issue “was submitted to the chief rabbis in Europe and Palestine.  Rabbi Isaac Elhanan Spector was inclined to be lenient, and advocated a nominal sale of the land to a non-Jew and the employment of non-Jewish laborers during shemiṭṭah”.  Make sure you understand this – the Israeli rabbis – who teach that the “land cannot be divided” and never fall under the hands of their Gentile neighbors in Gaza, the West Bank or elsewhere due to the sacred nature of the land and God’s promises, and Talmudic prohibitions from selling it to the goyimwillingly sell the land of Israel for a year or more before the Sabbath to an uncircumcised Gentile in order to skirt God’s commands to let the land rest a year, and still greedily demand more output from it, as a type of Mosaic “loophole”.  That’s what you get when you have a religion based on law: a religion dominated (and exploited) by lawyers – a lesson our Christian ideologues and theologians would be wise to learn from.

Another website by a rabbi states that when Israel became a nation, it found complying with these Mosaic Laws impactful to the “bottom line”, so “In order to avoid the cancellation of all debts, a serious hardship in our commercial society, the device was introduced even in Talmudic times of handing the debts over before the end of the Sabbatical year, to a temporary court consisting of three persons, the debts then being considered to have been paid to the court beforehand”.  The rabbi further writes that “Because of all this and the great difficulty in keeping the law, the official Rabbinate in Israel adopts the legal fiction of selling the land to a Gentile on the analogy of the sale of leaven before Passover.  Many have felt, however, that, while legal fictions have their place in Jewish law, it seems more than a little absurd to effect a merely formal sale of all Jewish land to a Gentile”.  This process continues today in Israel.  In a 2007 article in the Jerusalem Post, the author wrote that “Under Heter Mechira Israel’s agricultural fields are sold to a non-Jew for two years.  The halachic basis is that when land is owned by non- Jews some work that is otherwise forbidden is allowed”.  He writes that Rabbi Yosef Rimon acknowledges the deception involving, writing himself that “One of the most discomforting aspects of the Heter Mechira is that it reminds us of a loophole that allows the criminal to walk free…In a normal legal system, as soon as a loophole is discovered, the law is amended in order to ‘seal’ the hole that went unnoticed when the law was first legislated.  In civil law, had the legislature foreseen that a certain loophole would be exploited, it would have sealed the hole from the outset, rather then leave a breach that it invites the criminal to commit his offense.  God, however, is prescient and all-knowing.  If a breach is found in the Torah, it cannot be that God was not aware of it from the very beginning.  A loophole in the Torah must have been intentionally included so that it might be used at the appropriate time”.   According to the conservative Israel National News, this technique allowed Israeli Jewish farmers to work for the Gentile owners they temporarily sold the land to rather than letting it rest or be used by the poor, and when the Ashkenazi rabbis would not support it, the farmers found Sephardic rabbis to sell the land for them.  Another 2007 article in the New York Times showed that the practice was being affirmed by the Israeli Supreme Court, in a case involving the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.  This clever tactic by their “lawyer rabbis” was not just a deception and cheating of the poor – it was also a deception and cheating of God.  How do we in our Christian community rationalize things like that today? 

A cursory review of some of the Bible verses using these terms tells a lot about how God views the poor, meek anawim, as opposed to the world:

“They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide themselves together.” [Job 24:4]

“Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.” [Psa 10:12]

“But the meek [anawim] shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace”. [Psa 37:11]

“When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth.” [Psa 76:9]

“The LORD lifteth up the meek: he casteth the wicked down to the ground.” [Psa 147:6]

“He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy [is] he.” [Pro 14:21]

“Better [it is to be] of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.” [Pro 16:19]

“For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.” [Deu 15:11]

“Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant [that is] poor and needy, [whether he be] of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that [are] in thy land within thy gates [i.e., “undocumented workers”]:” [Deu 24:14]

“Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and [him that had] none to help him.” [Job 29:12]

“But I [am] poor and needy; [yet] the Lord thinketh upon me: thou [art] my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.” [Psa 40:17]

“He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. …For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and [him] that hath no helper.” [Psa 72:4, 12]

“Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.” [Psa 82:3]

“Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.” [Pro 31:9]

“The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.” [Eze 22:29]

“Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry.  The LORD looseth the prisoners:…The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.” [Psa 146:7, 9 KJV]

The Bible even notes that the government is not the only power of coercion on earth; the rich have power over the poor, in the marketplace and even the courts, if government is not used to restrain them.  God did not believe in the libertarian ‘buyer beware” policy that did not regulate the marketplace, when the poor are so easily manipulated and exploited by the lender and the merchant, and it is a consistent “big deal” to God, as the many following verses attest:

“Thy princes [are] rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.” [Isa 1:23 KJV]

“Her heads judge for a bribe, Her priests teach for pay, And her prophets divine for money.  Yet they lean on the LORD, and say, “Is not the LORD among us?  No harm can come upon us.” [Micah 3:11 NKJV]

“The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower [is] servant to the lender.” [Pro 22:7 KJV]

“The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich [hath] many friends. [Pro 14:20 KJV]

“Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause.” [Exo 23:6 KJV]

“Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, [nor] of the fatherless; nor take a widow’s raiment to pledge” [Deu 24:17 KJV]

“Divers weights [are] an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance [is] not good.” [Pro 20:23 KJV]

“A just weight and balance [are] the LORD’S: all the weights of the bag [are] his work.” [Pro 16:11 KJV]

“Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small.  [But] thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” [Deu 25:14-15 KJV]

“Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail, Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn?  and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?  That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; [yea], and sell the refuse of the wheat?” [Amos 8:4-6 KJV]

“He hath shewed thee, O man, what [is] good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?…Shall I count [them] pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights?  For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue [is] deceitful in their mouth.” [Mic 6:8, 11-12 KJV]

 

God even said He would judge the “sons of God” He assigned to rule over the 70 nations of earth, over how they treated the poor in their own realms, saying to them:

“How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?  Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.  Deliver the poor and needy: rid [them] out of the hand of the wicked.” [Psa 82:2-4 KJV]

 

God was not just “talk” about the poor; He was “action” in how high He regarded them.  For example, He apparently sent Jesus Himself to come minister to the unwanted, poor immigrant slave girl Hagar, when ‘God’s people” sent her and her baby son out to wander the desert – like many who cross into our country – and twice came to comfort her, leading her to say, “I have seen Him who sees me” (Gen. 16:8) – possibly one the first humans to see Christ face to face.  Likewise, God looked after the immigrant Moabitess Ruth, leading her to Israel as an undocumented immigrant to find deliverance at the hand of a citizen of Israel (even though Ezra had commanded the Israelites to send wives and children of Moabite and surrounding nationality immigrant origin away to an unknown fate in exile), and later the Moabitess Ruth served as a descendant of Jesus Himself.  Jesus Himself was born into a poor, blue-collar family, having been born in an animal pen, and did hard manual labor, probably for a long time under a single mother, in almost certain poverty.  Jesus was homeless, too – He had “no place to lay His head” (Matt. 8:20).  His first “fans”, who witnessed a privileged display of the heavenly host, were the lowest of low classes – shepherds doing their work on the fringes of society.  His closest friends were “unschooled fishermen” (Acts 4:13).  The ones He thought were the greatest “went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated–the world was not worthy of them.  They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” [Heb 11:37-38 NIV]

Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1 when He stated, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18).  These were the first words out of Jesus’ mouth when He inaugurated His ministry at the local synagogue, thereby defining the priority of His ministry and intended recipients, moments before his religious leaders and neighbors proceeded to try to kill Him.

The early church watched Jesus’ emphasis on the poor and stranger, and His insistence that it was His Father’s will as well, and in some cases they “passed with flying colors”, such as their sharing of resources to the point that the community took notice, as we saw in the Book of Acts, and their generosity throughout the Roman world as the scattered Gentile churches raised scarce funds to help their Jewish Christian brethren in the Jerusalem church who were suffering from the brutal famine in the region.  However, in other instances they got a “goose egg”, such as when they neglected the “outsider culture” Gentiles in their own ranks in the form of the Grecian widows, prompting the apostles themselves to take action, and their selfishness and display of privilege by flaunting their envious food spreads at their “love feasts” communion events, while the poor in their own churches had little to eat there – a food display that was “to die for”, after the Lord intervened.

The New Testament, including statements by Jesus Himself, does add some further thoughts on the issue of the poor, of which we’ll share here a few of its statements:

“Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor [thy] rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.   But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” [Luk 14:12-14 KJV]

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” [2Co 8:9 KJV]

“Only [they would] that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.” [Gal 2:10 KJV]

The Book of James was written to Jewish Christians who left Jerusalem (“the twelve tribes scattered abroad”), and James evidently thought they had to deal with a cultural issue they had with desiring and respecting wealth, because he spent a good part of his epistle addressing it, in passages such as these:

“For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?  Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?  But ye have despised the poor.  Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?” [Jas 2:2-6 KJV]

Having said these things, the following two passages best express Christ’s view towards the poor, and that which He wishes for His followers:

“And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed [be ye] poor: for yours is the kingdom of God…But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.” [Luk 6:20, 24 KJV]

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier [matters] of the law, judgment [justice], mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” [Mat 23:23 KJV]

I know I have spent a lot of your time (and patience) in reciting all these Bible verses, but the key point I am making is that, even though conservative evangelicals (like those of my culture, and maybe yours) don’t talk about the poor very much, it appears to be a “big deal” to God!  In fact, the latter verse suggests that much of our forms of outer piety, which may include regular church attendance, faithful service with the fellowship there, prayer and even testifying, are things that should not be “undone”, but that God really does have “front burner” issues (of what Jesus calls “the weightier matters of the law”), and “justice” is one of them, whether it fits our politics or not!  We are not to have “doctrinal churches” or “service and social justice churches” or any debate between them, but all churches that do both, so others can see our real love for them, and God’s love for them as well, and thus believe our message.  Jesus was a perfect example of this: His “stool of ministry” had three legs – doctrinal teaching of the kingdom, spiritual warfare to release people from demons and spiritual bondage, and ministry for the people’s needs of hunger and hurting, and without all three the ministry would have been lacking, and so will ours!  Think about this: each of these three “legs” ministers specifically to the three parts of our nature – soul (intellect), spirit and body, each one seeking its own “salvation” of justification, sanctification and glorification; which one should be left out?

Even though “justice” is one of the “weightier matters of the law”, my friend Micah points out that Christians have seemed to usually prefer “charity” over “social and economic justice” for the poor, and now I see his point.  This is like the “trickle down economics” crumbs that fall off the rich man’s table that he let the beggar Lazarus eat in the Bible; we all know how much God was impressed with the rich man’s generosity and compassion of Lazarus (actually, the dogs were more compassionate in licking Lazarus’s sores – sort of a low-cost Republican health care alternative to Obama Care).  There was a move in the Christian community, mostly beginning in England in the second half of the nineteenth century, to see the “huddled masses” in the teeming cities in the early days of the Industrial Age, and begin to notice their squalor and hopeless situation, and recognize some Christian duty to provide homes for orphans, and basic food and shelter for the needy, but those involved were certainly the minority.  The “social justice” movement began to take hold in the U.S. in the early twentieth century, but it was dominated by ‘liberal” Christian factions, and sometimes even had (gasp!) women ministerial leaders!  This movement faded as well, as conservative and fundamentalist Christian communities were suspicious of the motives of such supposedly “Christian” groups; their view of such Christians as “socialists” was akin to then (and now) viewing them in a similar way to “devil worshippers” – an artificial association that must be intentionally programmed by others into a person or community.  I believe that the inadequate movement by the church in Europe to minister to the exploited workers in Industrial Age Europe – not only assuring their basic needs were met but also pushing on their big business capitalist buddies to provide some form of union representation and balance to their exploitation, led the masses to be ripe for the (relatively) compassionate (but atheistic, in terms of Marxism) communist message to represent the workers, out of desperation.  Similar to when the French Church defended the military and government establishment in knowingly sending an innocent Jewish military officer Dreyfus to Devil’s Island to maintain the social order and their position, when the American church pulled away from their responsibility to the “working man” of the Industrial Age and to hold capitalism in check, the liberal secular humanists, and those of them in government, filled in the moral void of compassion, and have done the job of providing the basic social safety net ever since.  In recent days, the Mormon Glenn Beck (a favorite of conservative Christians) has made “social justice” the new “n-word”, and a concept of total contempt and distrust – presumably he’s never read God’s opinion in His word on the subject.

 

Roughly a week ago on Mother’s Day, I spent the day with my mother and family members out of town.  The close family members I visited are clearly good Christian people, have raised solid Christian families, and have been compassionate with those around them, and I respect them.  However, for some reason the topic of the current administration came up, and “what has happened with me” in the more liberal views they think I have recently espoused than those we were raised on.  In short order I was accused by the group of being a “Muslim lover” (having been told that “they all want to cut our heads off”) who did not favor the eradication of the aggressive Iran (a people I pointed out whose democratic secular government was overthrown by ours in a secret operation in the 1950s), weak on “standing with Israel” (to which I asked them to be specific as to who were the “sons of Abraham” specified in the Bible that would be subject to such promises (and if it included the 80 percent of Israelis who are atheists and do not believe in any “God of Abraham”, joined by a religious minority who will bomb the homes of Christians there, or attack them in the streets (except for Christian tourists with money to bring))), and finally being willing to just give away all our hard-earned money to the lazy underclass who seeks to exploit us – views that do all have a common association.  I briefly mentioned that the phrases they used I recollected as being virtually verbatim from certain cable news networks and radio talk show hosts.

To be fair, even as a blue collar, working class family we were raised in, in an old neighborhood and of modest means, the culture persisted (amongst Christians and within our community) of the concepts of the poor and underclass as expressed in the song of the time “Welfare Cadillac”, that being of (largely in the inner cities, and of certain races mostly) people who expected handouts and a refusal to work, and an expectation to have freely given to them and without consequence a standard living above us ‘hard working people”.  We saw some of those kids get free lunches or breakfasts at school, and swore we saw people at the supermarket buying T-Bone steaks with food stamps.  We actually had no idea what standard of living people could support with public assistance (nor can people today unless one has been on it, but almost always grossly over-exaggerated), but there were not-so-veiled references to women in such slums having additional babies merely to gain the extra welfare checks.  There was some modest help provided for those we knew and thought were “deserving”.  Enforced school busing of children from the inner city to my school, and the turmoil that caused, did not help attitudes much, leading us to be sent to a modest Christian school, ironically in the poorest and most depressing part of the inner city.  As talk radio grew, we began to learn better that the Democratic Party always went for the ‘deadbeats” in giving them free stuff, as a way to garner their votes as a winning coalition.  Tax credits for the poor and single parents were always resented, and many Christians today would assume those folks still “have it too good” and are big beneficiaries from their man Trump’s tax cuts (designed to help ‘the working man”), even though reality shows that the poorest had their taxes raised by 20% (from 10% to 12%), while the wealthiest corporations had their taxes almost cut in half; now there are the inevitable rumblings in Congress that social programs will have to be cut significantly to prevent expanding deficits from the huge tax cut to the wealthy.

It is sad that the main preoccupation in most churches is in securing annual revenue sufficient to keep their “Christian Life Centers” and matrix of lavish campuses operating (and admittedly, to justify maintaining large staffs and impressive salaries requires displaying a big operation), with mortgages and maintenance costs paid, rather than in estimating what their resources could do to impact the poorest in their community.  Ironically, my pastor told me once that data he came across suggested something to the effect that is all of America’s Christians merely tithed their income, there would be enough funds to pay for adequate food and health care for the entire world.  However, if our churches obtained such faithful income from their parishioners, for reasons I just described I doubt it would be put to that noble use.  My wife and I found out personally, that one of the Southern Baptist Convention’s flagship churches in our city’s downtown, to which we were members for a time, got tired having us and another couple escort homeless men inside the door of the church to be fitted for clothes to go to interviews and to obtain work, because they expected it “looked bad” to the yuppies in the new condos moving in downtown that they wanted to court (thankfully, our church today has some heroic members who support Room in the Inn, which helps the homeless in a modest way and shows them love, and puts them in our face in the suburbs to remind us they are still there and not forgotten).  I also have to confess that having worked with such needy individuals on the fringes of churches for all my church life of many decades, it is a frustrating task for me and for many, since many have issues of various types that lead them to not heed good advice and to make their own problems and exacerbate them, and try one’s patience when trying to help.  As I say this as one who thinks of himself as trying to “keep his own act together” and not be a burden on others, but routinely ignores it when both the discipline and presumption on others is an issue in my own life.  I do think that some form of accountability and reward for healthy behavior is prudent, both to truly help the individual to get on their feet if that is possible, and to not bring those helping to anguish and cynicism.  However, I don’t notice the church, at least the conservative side, talking about the poor much at all.  And if Jesus required me to “shape up” and put my screw-ups behind me before He continued to bail me out, I would be in deep trouble myself. 

Why do people we try to help keep falling into repeated bouts of trouble?  Well, new data seems to suggest the stress of poverty produces its own inability to make good decisions, at a time when the afflicted need it most.  According to a May 2018 article in The Atlantic, “several recent studies suggest that having less money can actually affect thinking and memory for the worse. In the most recent of these papers, scientists found a link between being lower on the socioeconomic ladder and changes in the brain”.  They add that “Past studies have also suggested that being low in socioeconomic status can affect the way we think.  A paper in Science in 2013 found that ‘a person’s cognitive function is diminished by the constant and all-consuming effort of coping with the immediate effects of having little money, such as scrounging to pay bills and cut costs’.  The cognitive cost of poverty, that study found, was practically like losing an entire night of sleep.  Another study from last year found that people who had lived in poverty performed worse than those who had never been poor on tests of verbal memory, processing speed, and executive functioning”.  They quote an expert who said that “Previous views of poverty have blamed poverty on personal failings, or an environment that is not conducive to success … We’re arguing that the lack of financial resources itself can lead to impaired cognitive function.  The very condition of not having enough can actually be a cause of poverty”.  A 2013 study by Princeton found that

“Poverty and all its related concerns require so much mental energy that the poor have less remaining brainpower to devote to other areas of life, according to research based at Princeton University.  As a result, people of limited means are more likely to make mistakes and bad decisions that may be amplified by — and perpetuate — their financial woes…The researchers suggest that being poor may keep a person from concentrating on the very avenues that would lead them out of poverty…Thusly, a person is left with fewer ‘mental resources’ to focus on complicated, indirectly related matters such as education, job training and even managing their time.  In a series of experiments, the researchers found that pressing financial concerns had an immediate impact on the ability of low-income individuals to perform on common cognitive and logic tests.  On average, a person preoccupied with money problems exhibited a drop in cognitive function similar to a 13-point dip in IQ…The poor are often highly effective at focusing on and dealing with pressing problems.  It’s the other tasks where they perform poorly.  The fallout of neglecting other areas of life may loom larger for a person just scraping by…Late fees tacked on to a forgotten rent payment, a job lost because of poor time-management — these make a tight money situation worse.  And as people get poorer, they tend to make difficult and often costly decisions that further perpetuate their hardship.”

Many in my conservative Christian circles have adopted an argument they have heard on talk radio, cable news or social media that the government systematically re-distributes the wealth from the rich and middle class to the poor.  While I do agree that its programs do accomplish a re-distribution of wealth, my look at the data and government intrusion from a more holistic view of its overall impact on society would suggest that its re-distribution is actually from the poor and middle class to the rich, and the data seems to bear that out.  With large government programs for welfare and”‘equal opportunity”, how could that be?  One needs to consider the overwhelming largesse from enormous government contracts to businesses of taxpayer money, lucrative tax credits, and investment in education and infrastructure that largely benefits the big business and investor class, not to mention the booty and spoils from wars, fought on the ground by the poor on private’s salaries, to secure oil fields and retain overseas markets for investors and big business.

Does the data show this to be plausible?  Well, an article in The Washington Post in December 2017 stated that “The wealthiest 1 percent of American households own 40 percent of the country’s wealth, according to a new paper by economist Edward N. Wolff. That share is higher than it has been at any point since at least 1962″.  The author adds that “From 2013, the share of wealth owned by the 1 percent shot up by nearly three percentage points.  Wealth owned by the bottom 90 percent, meanwhile, fell over the same period.  Today, the top 1 percent of households own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent combined.  That gap, between the ultra-wealthy and everyone else, has only become wider in the past several decades”.  They cite that

“In 2010, Michael Norton and Dan Ariely surveyed more than 5,500 people to find out how they thought wealth should be distributed in this country… On average, respondents said that in an ideal world the top 20 percent of Americans would get nearly one-third of the pie, the second and middle quintiles would get about 20 percent each, and the bottom two quintiles would get 13 and 11 slices, respectively.  In an ideal world, in other words, the most productive quintile of society would amass roughly three times the wealth of the least productive”.  In reality, they found that “The top 20 percent of households actually own a whopping 90 percent of the stuff in America…The fourth quintile of households gets literally nothing: no pie.  But they’re still doing better than the bottom 20 percent of households, who are actually in a state of pie debt: Their net worth is underwater, meaning they owe more than they have.  Combined, the average net worth of the bottom 40 percent of households is -$8,900…There’s the top 1 percent, gobbling up an astonishing 40 slices of American pie. The next 4 percent split 27 slices between them, while the next 5 percent take another 12 slices (a little over two slices per person)…The top 1 percent in the U.S. own a much larger share of the country’s wealth than the 1 percent elsewhere. The American 1 percent gobble up twice as much pie (40 percent) as the 1 percent in France, the U.K., or Canada”.

In November 2017 CBS News reported that “The top 1 percent of global citizens own 50.1 percent of all household wealth, up from 45.5 percent in 2000, the study found”.  They add that “the wealth gap recently spurred credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s to warn that worsening inequality could hamper long-term economic growth by dampening social mobility and creating a less-educated workforce.  In October of 2017 The Business Insider reported that “The top 0.1% of households now hold about the same amount of wealth as the bottom 90%”.  In terms of total amount of wealth increase, the London Guardian newspaper reported in December 2017 that “The richest 0.1% of the world’s population have increased their combined wealth by as much as the poorest 50% – or 3.8 billion people – since 1980…The report, which drew on the work of more than 100 researchers around the world, found that the richest 1% of the global population “captured” 27% of the world’s wealth growth between 1980 and 2016.  And the richest of the rich increased their wealth by even more.  The top 0.1% gained 13% of the world’s wealth, and has garnered “as much of the world’s growth since 1980 as the bottom half of the adult population,” the report said. “Conversely, income growth has been sluggish or even nil for the population between the global bottom 50% and top 1%”.  They add that “The economists said wealth inequality had become ‘extreme’ in Russia and the US.  The US’s richest 1% accounted for 39% of the nation’s wealth in 2014 [the latest year available], up from 22% in 1980”, with much of that going to the top 0.1 percent.  The economists note that one of the main remedies of the ever-widening gap between the one percent and the middle classes globally is a more progressive tax bracket structure, but admits that its ability is minimized that ten percent of the elite’s wealth is protected in offshore tax shelters.  In 2017 The Huffington Post reported that “New research suggests that the top 0.01 percent — households with over $40 million in wealth — are manipulating trusts, offshore bank accounts, and various other opaque mechanisms that mask ownership to evade 25 to 30 percent of what they owe in personal income and wealth taxes”.  Importantly, they add that “Our current estimates on wealth inequality in the United States come largely from tax data. These estimates, given the billions upon billions the wealthy are hiding from U.S. tax collectors, now appear to grossly underestimate how much wealth actually sits concentrated at America’s economic summit.”

Another report revealed that the 70% of the world’s population in 2017, with a net worth under $10,000, owned 2.7% of the world’s wealth, while the 0.7% worth $1 million or more controlled 46 percent.  They report that 56% (and rising) of the world’s population is considered “low income” (make less than $10 a day), and another 15% as “poor”.  The biggest wealth disparity they show is in the United States, where “the median top 5% household wealth has more than 90 times the wealth of the median U.S. family“.  Because of this, the middle class in the U.S. has half the proportion of national wealth of their peers in other industrialized nations, as well as half the net worth of the median family there.  Yet another report stated that “If established trends in wealth inequality were to continue, the top 0.1% alone will own more wealth than the global middle class by 2050”.  Even the hard right, libertarian Alex Jones’ website reported that “more than 40 percent of households cannot afford the basics of a middle-class lifestyle, including rent, transportation, childcare and a cellphone”, finding “a wide band of working U.S. households that live above the official poverty line, but below the cost of paying ordinary expenses”

Now let me ask you – does this sound like a healthy society, and state of affairs?  Is this the “triumph” of capitalism, or just Darwinism?  Does this sound more like a growing feudalistic society?  Given the Bible verses we have reviewed, do American Christians have any responsibility here? Are we “our brother’s keeper”?  Do we ‘love our neighbor”?

Almost all American evangelicals absolutely despise Hillary Clinton, with a hatred only rivaled by that for Satan himself.  However, they considered her rival Bernie Sanders as just a nutcase.  But this ‘nutcase” was the only candidate to point out this “elephant in the room” of the expanding gap between the economic elite and the rest, and the crisis that it would present that would soon dwarf the threats of ISIS, Islamic extremism, North Korea or even the Soviets – a clarion call that largely fell on deaf ears.  Evangelicals and those of their ilk are not known to be students of history (or students of much of anything for that matter, generally not being readers of serious subject matter), but if they were it would be greatly apparent that many great empires and cultures fell in time over the growing inequality of wealth, and the inability of the underclass to survive with their plight, with violent rebellion becoming their only option – think of the slave revolts of the Roman Empire, the French monarchy, the Russian tsar, and the like.  When people have nothing left to lose, they will take desperate measures, and in the mayhem, the greedy elites will lose everything they clung to.  Evangelicals have long sided with the Wall Street Republicans, including the current New York City billionaire president, who has placed Wall Street hedge fund managers and CEOs into the key cabinet positions over the financial well-being of the citizenry; it is no surprise that the first Executive Action President Trump took on Inauguration Day was to provide that financial managers did not have to disclose to their consumer clients that they are actually representing the interests of the financial product companies they represent, and not that of their paying customers.   They place in office those who actually raise their taxes in subtle ways beyond their comprehension (like increasing standard deductions that are useless to most with mortgages, while quietly removing their exemptions to offset any benefits), and while cutting the taxes of wealthy corporations almost in half, and increasing the taxes on the poorest by 20 percent.

Of course, just like there’s no such things as “peace profiteers”, those people (even popular ones) who take up the cause of the poor find it a quick way to lose whatever popular support they otherwise had.  As one example, recently The Intercept reported regarding Martin Luther King, Jr. that “in 1966, 63 percent of Americans held a negative view of the civil rights leader, while just 32 percent held a positive one.  This was a marked reversal from five years earlier, when 41 percent of Americans gave King a positive rating and 37 percent a negative one.  King’s slide in popularity coincided with his activism taking a turn from what Americans largely know him for — his campaign for civil rights in the American South — to a much more radical one aimed at the war in Vietnam and poverty.  They note King stating publicly that “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death”, while noting that “Many in King’s inner circle warned against making the speech and publicly campaigning against the war”.  Afterwards, he lost the support of many liberals and the press, as they note that  even The New York Times denounced him as doing a “disservice” to civil rights, while they note that “The Washington Post editorial board said King had ‘diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country and his people’, as ”A political cartoon in the Kansas City Star depicted the civil rights movement as a young black girl crying and begging for her drunk father King, who is consuming the contents of a bottle labeled ‘Anti-Vietnam'”.  They add that “In all, 168 newspapers denounced him the next day”, and even the other civil rights organizations he helped get on the ground such the NAACP, National Urban League, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, formally distanced themselves from King.  They also explained that

“Also that year, he launched the Poor People’s Campaign, aimed at providing good jobs, housing, and a decent standard of living to all Americans.  More than 40 years before American protesters took to the streets of New York City and other locales to “occupy” space to protest inequality, King proposed a massive tent encampment in Washington, D.C. to demand action on poverty.  King was assassinated during a campaign to organize sanitation workers in Tennessee in April of that year, before he was able to set up the encampment.  His widow Coretta Scott King, as well as fellow civil rights leader Ralph David Abernathy, went ahead with the plan to create what they called Resurrection City.  The camp lasted six weeks until police moved in to shut it down and evict all of its inhabitants, pointing to sporadic acts of hooliganism as justification.  Andrew Young, the young civil rights leader who later went on to be Jimmy Carter’s U.N. ambassador and a mayor of Atlanta, was horrified, saying the crushing of the camp was worse than the police violence he saw in the South.  ‘It was worse than anything I saw in Mississippi or Alabama’, he said.  ‘You don’t shoot tear gas into an entire city because two or three hooligans are throwing rocks’.”

They add that “Bobby Kennedy, who once authorized the wiretaps of King’s phones, attended the funeral” (in which King’s casket was pulled by a mule-drawn wagon), saying that “He gave his life for the poor of the world — the garbage workers of Memphis and the peasants of Vietnam” (King was shot while helping the Memphis sanitation workers in their strike, which he saw as part of the Campaign).

The Poor People’s Campaign culminated in a six week live-in camp called “Resurrection City” in Washington, DC (like the Bonus Army in the “Hoover City” camp a generation earlier) with 3,000 protest residents in the summer of 1968, right after King’s death.  The Nation reported comments by Dr. King, who originally conceived of the Campaign, including his statement that he thought the Apostle Paul would tell American Christians that “Oh America, how often have you taken necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes…God never intended for one group of people to live in superfluous inordinate wealth, while others live in abject deadening poverty”.  He stated that ““If a man doesn’t have a job or an income, he has neither life nor liberty nor the possibility for the pursuit of happiness.  He merely exists”.  He wrote that “New forms of work that enhance the social good will have to be devised for those for whom traditional jobs are not available”.  King wanted to bring the actual poor people to D.C. to let the politicians see them, stating that “We ought to come in mule carts, in old trucks, any kind of transportation people can get their hands on.  People ought to come to Washington, sit down if necessary in the middle of the street and say, ‘We are here; we are poor; we don’t have any money; you have made us this way…and we’ve come to stay until you do something about it’”.

He was invited to bring the protesters to the city by Senator Kennedy himself.  The other politicians in D.C. felt threatened by all these poor people coming, with one calling it “A Mecca for migrants”, while presidential candidate Nixon told Congress not to capitulate to their demands.  20,000 Army soldiers were mobilized to occupy the city just in case, while the FBI began Operation POCAM to stop King’s effort on poverty, falsely telling protesters there they would lose welfare benefits if they came, and set up local city intimidation campaigns, even teaming up with the John Birch Society to operate the TACT (Truth About Civil Turmoil) propaganda campaign.  The FBI even planted the story that the Campaign was in direct competition with the Quakers, according to released FBI files.  What King sought was an Economic Bill of Rights, with the following five planks:

  1. “A meaningful job at a living wage”
  2. “A secure and adequate income” for all those unable to find or do a job
  3. “Access to land” for economic uses
  4. “Access to capital” for poor people and minorities to promote their own businesses
  5. Ability for ordinary people to “play a truly significant role” in the government

They sought protection for Mexicans, other Hispanics, Indians and immigrants from police abuse, and food stamps and school lunch programs to use otherwise wasted over-produced food, job training, living wages, help for poor farmers of all races, medical care for the poor, programs to allow the poor to construct and rehabilitate housing, re-commitment to the Full Employment Act of 1946, and similar reforms.  The people formed caravans all over the country to come to Resurrection City (even mule teams), under the watchful eye of the FBI; the group in Detroit was clubbed and stomped by mounted police when their van stalled.  The military intelligence community also spied on the City, posing as journalists and wiretapping their phones there on the National Mall.  Resurrection City had a university, a psychiatrist and a city hall on site.  On a nearby campus, Chicanos, Appalachian whites, blacks and Indians stayed together, marching to the Supreme Court about fishing rights.  Their Solidarity March had between 50,000 and 100,000 people.  After weeks, the police began firing tear gas canisters into the City, and arrested the remaining people while they were singing.  Its results were modest, but it did lead to the release of food to poor communities, and increases in school lunch programs and Head Start.  There was also a Resurrection City II at the 1972 Democratic Party Convention in Miami.

All of this brief introduction was a mere preamble to the real purpose of this blog post.  Lately I’ve been on the lookout for appearances by Dr. Cornell West, who received his Ph.D from Harvard, and has been a professor at a large portion of the major Ivy League Schools, as well as in Paris and Union Theological Seminary.  With his old-school Black Afro hair and intense manner of discourse on social issues, not that long ago I would have chalked him up to being just another scary black radical like the Black Panthers, and ignored him.  However, over time, I noticed that he spoke more about being a follower of Jesus and a Christian which supremely defined his ethics and actions, more so than anyone else I heard on TV, and consistently brought up his Christian faith.  In fact, I read that while he admired the can-do activism of the Black Panthers, his Christian faith restricted him to local breakfast, prison and church programs.  Nevertheless, he is reviled by the Right.  He calls himself a “non-Marxist socialist”, because he does not believe that Marxism and his Christianity can be reconciled.  Most interestingly, I found out that he co-founded the Network of Spiritual Progressives, along with Rabbi Michael Lerner and Sister Joan Chittister.  From that organization, I discovered that they would be part of a larger confederation of groups hosting a new Poor People’s Campaign – A Call for Moral Renewal in cities across the country, including Nashville, on the day after Mothers Day – a half century after Dr. King’s originally-planned event.  I finally decided to get my rear off the sofa and not just think about defending the poor and defenseless, or just talk about it, but actually show up for once, and at least provide a witness of Christian support and encouragement.

I had to drive through the manic traffic to downtown Nashville, away from my suburban paradise, and begin the stressful process of finding an (expensive) place to park, and then try to find my way to the site of protest.  I had been warned of the propensity of panhandlers in the area, who might give trouble, and indeed it appeared they were out in force (at least my paranoid mind thought so), so I found myself walking on the opposite side of the streets from them to avoid trouble.  Of course, I was disturbed by the irony that I was going to an event on behalf of the poor while avoiding them personally, but I rationalized that I had to get there safely first, and that encouraging panhandlers (while being concerned where what loose cash I had was being used) vs. promoting organized programs that carefully controlled how needs were being met were on two different levels, whether I was right or wrong, but people who have helped people on the streets will know where I am coming from. 

When I finally found the place, I did not see a sea of people locked in arms like I have seen in the news reel footage of the Washington Mall in 1964.  What I saw was a modest group of maybe 100-150 people (although I am a poor judge), all of a very motley sort, with me sticking out like a tourist from suburbia.  The picture at the top of this post is from the group speaking front and center on the steps, with a small crowd on the ground.

I looked around to see how big the evangelical presence was at the event – here in the buckle of the Bible Belt, and home to the Southern Baptist Convention headquarters and other evangelical groups – but I did not recognize a single evangelical type group or person in the bunch.  I saw a handful with clerical collars, but that was it.  When I realized the pitifulness of the small crowd in a city known for its Christianity, and that I could not see any evangelical witness there anywhere in support of the poor, for some reason I just started to weep – pretty significantly, and uncontrollably.  I just bowed my head and prayed, and asked God audibly for forgiveness for not caring enough for the poor up until now, and I felt a hand on my shoulder in support.  When I looked up I found out it was one of the men in the clerical collar, who comforted me as I confessed my sin of insufficient care for the poor, and he prayed with me.  I did not have anything to write down information there (Radio Free Nashville would be so disappointed in me), but I seem to recollect his name was something like Bro. Jake Morill, and I think he came all the way from Oak Ridge, Tenn. (the Campaigns were being held in state capitals simultaneously across the country).  I asked him what denomination he was with and he said the Unitarian-Universalist Church; the others I met there from other places were also from the Unitarians.  The Unitarians – “showing up” us evangelicals.

I heard women preachers speak, a Muslim woman speaker, and saw older men waving Vietnam Veterans For Peace flags.  I didn’t have a clean short-sleeve “Future Quake” shirt available for the hot weather, so I had to wear my only short-sleeve, clean white T-shirt I could find, which was emblazoned with a white flag with blue stripes, and a statement in red letters stating, “STAND WITH ISHMAEL”.  A group with a banner asked me what my shirt meant, and I told them it was food for thought, that God had also given blessings and promises to Abraham’s other son Ishmael in addition to Isaac, and to “bless the seed of Abraham” meant to bless all of his sons of faith; they found that very interesting, and the Muslim woman in particular.  I gave all the people there a blessing in the name of Jesus, thanked them for their compassion, and confessed the error of my earlier ways, and the need of a follower of Jesus to support their cause, which was well received by all, including the woman dressed up like The Handmaid’s Tale, whom I suddenly discovered when they turned around was a trans-gendered person; I asked them if they knew our friend Roxy Fox of Nashville Gender Talk on Radio Free Nashville, and they said they did.

I also talked to a dignified woman in a medical lab coat, who was there from Chattanooga as a doctor or nurse, as part of a group seeking health care for everyone.  I looked hard for someone representing my old radio station Radio Free Nashville, because this event was ideal for them, and I finally found an older gentleman sporting one of their shirts and covering the event, and I made his acquaintance.  The main event of the second stage of the event was a sit-in on one of the streets downtown, singing songs and such, which was only permitted by those who had been trained beforehand to be behaved and non-violent or resistant to law enforcement.  They sang spirited songs as the buses and traffic stopped in front of them.  Of course, this was the only thing that brought the local TV cameras (actually, one station) to cover the event and promote the cause, and everyone knows how that game is played.  While I was there I noticed the police being very restrained and patient, for it was clear that this small group had no intention of endangering the public safety – rather trying to help it, in a totally unselfish manner, unlike the self-centered presidential cabinet officials we see on TV.  As I was leaving a couple hours later, I saw a woman wearing a clerical collar looking at her texts, and I introduced myself.  It turned out that Rev. Joy Warren was a minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church!  She and her husband served there in Murfreesboro, TN – “ground zero” in the battle between the hard Right anti-sharia Christian movement and the new Muslim center there.  I found out that their church led groups where Christians and Muslims locally could meet each other and help each other out, and she worked hard to get her parishioners active in social events.  She mentioned that her kids told her at school that many of the kids there harass the Muslim students, whispering things like “9-11” in their ears.  She told me her denomination normally does not wear clerical collars, but she wore it to that event because she wanted the other people there to know that at least some Christian presence was there.  She is absolutely right, but isn’t that sad that such an overt act was even necessary, due to the evangelical “no show”?   

In recent years I have attended the evangelical-dominated Value Voters Summit with all the Republican candidates before the presidential election, and a major anti-sharia law conference at one of the major churches here in town, as well as a number of major Bible prophecy conferences.  Upon reflection, I noticed some striking differences between this and those events and the participants:

  1.  In this event, I noticed that the participants, unlike the others, did not feature participants that seemed to have much if any money to them, or dress with impressive tastes.
  2. This event looked like it had no money for impressive facilities to hold their event, with lavish receptions and hotel mixers, unlike the “Christian” ones (usually provided by wealthy benefactors of unknown agendas).
  3. Unlike the other events, I did not notice the participation or organization by members of the Israeli government.
  4. The military members at this event did not look like they were still involved in intelligence agencies or mercenary security firms like Blackwater.
  5. This event did not seem to be a veiled attempt to promote particular political candidates.
  6. Unlike the other events I listed, this one featured speakers always speaking about Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount and even repentance, which I never heard at those other “Christian” events.
  7. Without the deep pockets and public relations firms there, the media didn’t seem much interested in covering it.
  8. Unlike the other events, the poverty message led the evangelicals to being a “no show”.

 

The following are some pictures I took of the event itself:

This is Brother Jake, who laid his hand on me and prayed for me.

    This is Minister Joy Warren, the Presbyterian minister.

These people were interested in my T-Shirt.

 

This is me, with a suspect T-shirt in question (I needed an alibi picture)

 

One of the folks with the “Veterans for Peace” sign.

 

A lot of singing and spiritual songs going on.

 

One of the “Veterans for Peace” friends: He would certainly not be allowed in the other conferences I cited.

 

My buddy from Radio Free Nashville.  Low power to the people!

 

My new friend, who happens to be a Muslim (never once tried to kill me, either).

 

The “sit-in” begins!

 

Stopped the Fed Ex truck!

 

Although the police were well-behaved while I was there, I found out later in the local paper that 21 people, from ages 17 to 21 and from all over Tennessee,  were arrested at the event after I left.  You can tell that they look like some pretty sinister people that were a threat to the public.  Of course, the arrests are necessary for the media to show up and take notice of their cause, without expensive public relations firms to do the job.  The article mentioned that the weekly events nationwide are part of a 40 day movement of events.  Upon reflection, my evangelical peers at the other events I have gone to like to “talk tough” by parading guys in fatigues and former special forces guys and mercenaries at their events, and talk about “spilling the blood of patriots” and the like, but I believe that most of them are too coddled and cowardly like the comfy establishment group they pretend not to be to ever have the courage to spend the day in “pokey” or the paddy wagon, like these folks.

The London Guardian newspaper reported on the founder of the new Poor People’s Campaign, the Rev. William Barber of North Carolina, who stated that “There is no religious left and religious right.  There is only a moral center.  And the scripture is very clear about where you have to be to be in the moral center – you have to be on the side of the poor, the working, the sick, the immigrant”.  They add that

“Barber leads an ascendent grassroots movement that is trying to turn the national conversation to what they believe are the core teachings of the Bible: care for the poor, heal the sick, welcome the stranger.  The Poor People’s Campaign, a revival of Martin Luther King’s final effort to unite poor Americans across racial lines, last week brought together activists from several faiths, the Women’s March, the labor movement and other liberal organizations to launch 40 days of civil disobedience and protest against inequality, racism, ecological devastation and militarism.  As many as 1,000 people were arrested during the first wave.  More expect to be held in future…’They [the Religious Right pastors and leaders] say so much about the issues where the Bible says so little, but they speak so little about the issues where the Bible says so much.  Jesus set up free healthcare clinics everywhere he went.  He healed everybody and never charged a leper a co-pay’”.

I saw the following blog post the day after the event, entitled, “Why Would I Do This?”:

“This week I was arrested. I was in jail for over 14 hours.  At times it was so hot I was sweating.  At times it was so cold I was shivering.  And at all times it smelled rancid.  We sat or huddled in the women’s cell atop either hard cement benches or hard metal bunks (with no mattresses) covered by dried and crusted bodily fluids and years of dirt.  A guard saw our sunburns and assumed we had contracted a rash from being in the cells.  Without windows or clocks we were deprived of our sense of time.  The fluorescent lights lit everything into a brightly illuminated nowhere.  It took over 9 hours until we had access to our phone call.  From the architecture, to the way guards ignored or yelled at us, everything was designed in a way to strip us of our sense of self and power.  At one point, I overheard a guard saying ‘A beating would not harm that one’.  It was a very long 14 hours in jail.”

“Why did I do this? Why would I go through such an ordeal, stripped of my freedom and dignity?”

“Because I am a Christian.”

“I follow a brown-skinned Palestinian Jew named Jesus. The Jesus who preached “blessed are the poor” and who was poor himself. The Jesus who told the parable about the Good Samaritan, defying the racism of the time…The Jesus who died on a cross executed by a conspiracy between the religious elite and the mightiest military power of the ancient world.  The Jesus who risked arrest for his witness.  I am trying to follow Jesus in naming the evils of poverty, racism, environmental degradation, and the military industrial complex.  The same evils that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out in the original Poor Peoples Campaign right before he was killed.”

“As I followed Jesus by risking arrest, I met him in jail.  I met Jesus in the woman who shared her jacket with me when I was shivering.  I met Jesus in the woman who gave me a look of utmost gratitude when I offered to walk behind her in line to cover her because her pants ripped open exposing her bum when the police took her in.  I met Jesus in the woman who was arrested for crying too loudly and uncontrollably at her brothers hearing.  I met Jesus in the woman who was so inspired by the Poor Peoples Campaign and that we were there with her in jail;…Those 14 hours in jail were intense, worldview shifting, hours.  I was humbled, honored, helpless and hopeful.  I joined the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival because I wanted to follow Jesus, and I was surprised to meet him in the putrid overcrowded jail cell.”

 

The problem of poverty cannot be solved merely by just throwing money at it.  And yes, whenever you provide assistance to the public – even through the local church – you will find abuse and exploitation.  There are ways to improperly apply assistance that not only make matters worse by means of providing money or goods for barter to support drug habits and alcohol abuse, and (I guess) even promote unhelpful behaviors and character traits such as sloth and lack of self-initiative, or other destructive behavior, or even reinforced feelings of inferiority.  Maybe many of us have witnessed the “welfare cadillacs”, or the food stamps used to buy premier items we do not think we can afford.  However, few of us have very found out how little public assistance really is (and those I know who work with such people can confirm this), and that it is just basic sustenance, much like Social Security.  We need to promote the ideas of self-sufficiency, hard work and financial discipline in people.  However, have we got those principles mastered in all the members of our own households?  Do the rest of us have any problems availing of the government to get tax deductions and credits for our families and mortgages, or even financial aid and grants to send our children to school, yet look down on others who get other forms of government assistance?

Are there ways to give people hope, and still foster good societal and moral behaviors?

Why do people have problems with school free breakfast and lunch programs – is it really the children’s fault for their family’s financial plight?  Are those meals really going to be mis-used?  Better yet – why not feed all our school children that way, so that the poor will not feel isolated when they use those tickets?  Don’t laugh – you may never have felt that shame unless you’ve been on such forms of public assistance for some time – the shame may be as bad as the poverty.  I hear some say cynically that our nation is the only one where our poor people are fat – they never seem to realize that the waistline girth may be due to the unhealthy, fattening food that is all they can afford, or all that is offered in their inner city corner store while the big chains stay out of the neighborhood, or maybe just the lack of education on home economics and nutrition in homes where a competent parent is missing.

Martin Luther King, Jr. recommended radical ideas for his economic plans at the time, including a living wage, guaranteed jobs for all and a minimum income in any case, to avert poverty and to spur consumer spending.  Now, these ideas are chic and are being considered in several states, and are already deployed in places in Europe and elsewhere.  The abuse factor is certainly present, but would reducing poverty-based crime, drug abuse, domestic violence and suicides be worth the price?  Why do the people in those places that offer free health care and similar “welfare state” provisions not want to adopt our Wild West, Darwinistic approach of unbridled free-for-all of “dog eat dog” capitalistic competition?  Are those countries actually “progressing” as a civilization, and is ours a throwback to the Dark Ages of feudalism, and going more that direction every day?  Do churches have a role in providing the moral underpinning to assist the State in lifting its lower rungs of society out of poverty, and to teach them good virtues of responsibility and self-worth?  Would churches take time away from their pet topics of financial success, gay marriage and Muslims to assign resources to such tasks?  Why do you almost never hear churches ever teach about Biblical directives of hard work, stewardship, and wisdom with money, and why are its parishioners (often with decent incomes) some of the worst role models in these regards to show to our neighbors who have grown up in disfunctional homes?

When the nation finally comes to its senses and nominates me to run for President, I think I would emphasize in “investing” in people – particularly those we have talked about in this blog.  Like Neegan properly says on “The Walking Dead” – “people are a resource”.  When society “invests” in people in need of help, “investments” are intended to reap returns – improved productivity, creative output, tax revenue, children for future our labor force, and the like.  It needs to be done smartly, and with accountability measures, while never totally eliminating the risks that come with investments – only managing them.  With some people – the severely disabled, the elderly, the mentally ill, the hopelessly addicted – the only “return on investment’ may be in our souls, and in elevating our civilization, and putting our thumb in the eye of old Darwin.  To fully round out my campaign slogan, I think I would go with, “Investing in People – with Compassion and Accountability”.  Who would find fault with that, other than some greedy so-and-so, or someone who doesn’t believe in the Golden Rule?  Of course, it will cost us – we may have to get flat screen TVs that are two inches smaller diagonally, or the smaller monthly plan on Netflix or our cell plans (it will really cost the well-to-do; less Monet paintings and import luxury cars, Cuban cigars and money laundered off-shore for their “necessities”, using their new-found drastic tax cuts that were supposed to “trickle down”, like the crumbs from the rich man’s table to the beggar Lazarus).  Would it be worth it?  Even to the point of putting less money into our overseas military adventures that entertain us and make us feel proud and exceptional? 

I, for one, am ready to consider new, bold ideas to turn back this “feudalization” of our society, and to comply with the Biblical mandates to place the poor and “justice” on the ‘front burners” of our discussion as the “weightier matters” of God – even with all the risks involved, or at least the ones the nay-sayers talk about all the time.

Wouldn’t it at least be an improvement if our churches talked about poverty some time?

Are we “our brother’s keeper”?

 

I’m really glad I went to the Poor People’s Campaign.

Conservative Role Models in the Bible – Part 1

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[EDITOR’S NOTE:  Even though I have repeatedly said that my posts here will only be sporadic due to the priority of getting my last book volume drafted and the whole Holy War Chronicles series published, the delay has been longer than normal due to a health crisis within my parents that has required me to be available out of state for much of the time over the last few months, and the foreseeable future; I would appreciate the prayers of all the readers for both of them, and for my siblings and myself.]

This post topic came to mind the other day when I was reminded of a recent project I heard about that created a “Conservative Bible” (the fact that CPAC is going on and in the news as I write this has also contributed, I am sure).  It was overseen by Andrew Schlafly, the originator of the Wikipedia variant “Conservapedia” (which only features data supporting conservative worldviews), and the son of conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly.  As a “grand dame” of the conservative movement, she shook the political world in 1964 with her book A Choice Not an Echo, and is recognized by historians by almost singlehandedly defeating the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, after it had almost passed enough state legislations, by means of her aggressive organization and activism.  Her organization “The Eagle Forum” was a bastion of conservative family and moral issues and their political and legal defense, and a prototype for later conservative “family” organizations.  As a staunch religiously-conservative Roman Catholic and defender of traditional Christian family values and role models, she embraced Donald Trump as such a role model and his 2016 campaign (ironically her son was also eventually “outed” as a practicing homosexual).  Her work also promoted the conservative values of unbridled capitalism (aka the Social Darwinist credo of “each man for himself”) and privatization to corporate control of the public interest.  And true to these values of unregulated corporate behavior, Schlafly’s own beloved Eagle Forum organization was subject to some type of hostile takeover by members of her own board of directors, including her own daughter, shortly before her death in 2016.  The cited online reference from its Missouri branch wrote that “Word has come of a rogue board meeting and an upcoming hostile takeover of Eagle Forum’s board and its assets. Phyllis Schlafly’s endorsement of Trump is a likely catalyst. But you can be sure the real objective is to control the Eagle Forum bank accounts and that the Gang of 6 will present a carefully crafted excuse for public consumption”.  She told World Net Daily that the coup was real and that “this may be my Dobson moment (when the board of Focus on the Family similarly forced founder James Dobson out), was based upon her endorsement of Trump, and was led by her own daughter.

Her son, Andrew Schlafly, is a “chip of the old block” who has forged his own conservative venues, such as his online resource “Conservapedia”, which is intended to be a Wikipedia-like information source with only conservative-approved information.  A brilliant person himself with an engineering degree from Princeton and a doctorate from Harvard Law School, he founded Conservapedia in 2006 when he was alarmed to read a student assignment (as a homeschool teacher) using the now-accepted Common Era (C.E.) historical dating nomenclature, versus the Anno Domini (A.D.) earlier tradition.  Schlafly objectively explains on the “About” page on his Conservapedia site that “Conservapedia is a clean and concise resource for those seeking the truth.  We do not allow liberal bias to deceive and distort here.  Founded initially in November 2006 as a way to educate advanced, college-bound homeschoolers, this resource has grown into a marvelous source of information for students, adults and teachers alike”.   He adds that “We have received over 500 million page views!”, and notes that “A conservative approach to education is powerful and helpful in many ways. It equips students and adults to overcome inevitable obstacles, such as addiction and depression…There are few, if any, conservative schools…The truth shall set you free..No other encyclopedic resource on the internet is free of corruption by liberal untruths.”

To get a feel of the type of narrative and perspective provided on Conservapedia, a look at its front page on February 21, 2017 notes that its “popular articles” include those on “global warming”, “feminism”, “homeschooling”, “evolution”, “liberal claptrap”, “hollywood values”, “biblical scientific foreknowledge”, “Donald Trump”, “free market”, “George Patton”, “Globalism”, “Conservapedia proven right”, “Ex-homosexuals”, “Battle of Thermopylae”, “greatest conservative songs”, “counterexamples to relativity”, “liberal bias”, “liberal style”, “Chuck Norris”, “bias in Wikipedia”, “Mystery: Why do Non-Conservatives Exist?”, “Barack Hussein Obama” and “Professor Values”, to name a few.  It also features a late-breaking “In the News” segment, with story titles such as “White House Signals Reversal in Transgender Bathroom Policy, overturning another Leftist policy by Obama”, “Trump was Right: Riots Break Out in Rinkeby, Sweden”, “Conservapedia Proven Right, Again”, “More fake news by the lamestream media”, and “Melania Trump Recites the Lord’s Prayer at Melbourne Rally – CROWD GOES WILD!”, and many other such reference citations for academics and researchers.

Regarding its rival Wikipedia, its Conservapedia page dedicated to it notes that “Most of Wikipedia’s articles can be edited publicly by both registered and anonymous editors, mostly consisting of teenagers and the unemployed.  As such it tends to project a liberal – and, in some cases, even socialist, Communist, and Nazi-sympathizing-worldview, which is totally at odds with conservative reality and rationality” (emphasis added).  It notes that Wikipedia founders Jimbo Wales and “atheist philosophy professor Larry Sanger’ are both atheists, and that “its articles are a mixture of truths, half-truths and falsehoods”, quoting World Net Daily editor Joseph Farah as saying that Wikipedia “is not only a provider of inaccuracy and bias.  It is wholesale purveyor of lies and slander unlike any other the world has ever seen”.  It does fairly point out that “Wikipedia has millions of entries on trivia and mundane topics”, but smacks of that “systemic liberal bias that dominates Wikipedia”.  They also perceptively point out that “the ‘hammer and sickle’ of the leftist ideology which murdered millions in the former Soviet Union – is featured prominently on the instruction page as well as the tags that mark each uploaded image”.  They are also known at Conservapedia for taking a strong stand against what they perceive to be one of the greatest threats to political conservatism – Einstein’s general theory of relativity in physics.  Their page on the “theory of relativity” begins by warning that “The theory of relativity is defended with religious-like zeal, such that no college faculty tenure, Ph.D degree, or Nobel Prize is ever awarded to anyone who dares criticize the theory”, and its article titles within this topic comprise those such as “Lack of Evidence for Relativity”, and “Experiments that Fail To Prove Relativity”.  They note that “Despite censorship of dissent about relativity, evidence contrary to the theory is discussed outside of liberal universities”.  They add that “some liberal politicians have extrapolated the theory of relativity to metaphorically justify their own political agendas…Applications of the theory of relativity to change morality have also been common”.   The article is associated at its conclusion with other wiki topics, such as “Liberal pseudoscience”, which includes “Black holes”, dark matter” and “moral relativism”.  On the dedicated Conservapedia page “Counterexamples to Relativity”, they begin by noting that “The theory of relativity is disproved by numerous counterexamples, but it promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to pull people away from the Bible”.  This leads the prominent scientific magazine New Scientist to state, “In the end there is no liberal conspiracy at work.  Unfortunately, humanities scholars often confuse the issue by misusing the term ‘relativity’.  The theory in no way encourages relativism, regardless of what Conservapedia may think”.

Conservapedia does provide some pages with useful definitions of popular political terms today we can use for this post.  In their page on the topic “Liberal”, emblazoned with a picture of “Barack Hussein Obama” and stated to be the ‘least successful president in history”, states at the beginning that “A liberal is someone who craves an increase in government spending, power, and control, such as Obamacare.  Liberals also support the censorship and denial of Christianity.  Liberals who are a part of the secular left prefer the atheist religion over the Christian faith, as atheism has no objective morality to hinder their big government plans”.  They add that “Liberals favor a welfare state where people receive endless entitlements without working”, and that “All liberals support, in knee-jerk fashion, the oppositive of conservative principles, while lacking an actual ideology or values of their own.  Many of them cannot understand Christian language”.  They are also known for (a) “Denial of science (especially creation science)”, (b) “Hypocrisy”, (c) “The belief that terrorism is not a huge threat, and that the main reason for Muslim extremists’ hostility towards America is because of bad foreign policy”, (d) “Hedonism”, (e) “Rejection of Biblical standards”, (f) “Hatred”, (g) “Murder”, (h) “crying instead of accepting reality”, (i) “Cessation of teacher-led prayer in classrooms”, (h) “tyranny”, (i) “Treason”, (j) “pseudo-intellectualism”, (k) “genocide”, (l) “fascism”, (m) “Destroying conservative family values and replacing them with immoral Hollywood values”, (n) “High progressive taxes as a form of class warfare against wealthy business owners”, (o) “Sadism”, (p) “racism”, (q) “slander”, (r) “Obesity”, (s) “environmentalism”, (t) pedophilia”, (u) “mutilating corpses”, (v) “enforced homosexuality”, and many more unsavory attributes.  They add that, “In practical usage, the term ‘liberal’ is more closely synonymous with ‘radical’, ‘immoral’, ‘anti-freedom’, ‘elitist’, or ‘bad'”.  Their list of ‘Notable liberal ‘intellects'” includes “Barack Hussein Obama”, “Dracula”, “David Thorstad, a founding member of NAMBLA”, “Adolf Hitler”, “Karl Marx’, “Lee Harvey Oswald”, “Benito Mussolini”, “Margaret Thatcher” (for decriminalizing homosexuality), and “Osama Bin Laden”.  Their list of “Liberal Organizations” included AARP, AFL-CIO and others.

It also has a page dedicated to “Conservatism”. On it, it notes that “A conservative is someone who rises above his personal self-interest and promotes moral and economic values beneficial to all.  A conservative is willing to learn and advocate the insights of economics and the logic of the Bible for the benefit of everyone else.  A conservative favors conserving value by not giving handouts to anyone who does not really need them”.  Regarding their “goals and principles”, they note that conservatives seek or support “capitalism and free markets”, “classroom prayer”, “the concept of retribution for crimes, including the death penalty for heinous murders proven beyond reasonable doubt”, “family values, including traditional relationships and division of labor within the household” (emphasis added), “The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms”, “Economic allocative efficiency (as opposed to popular equity)”, “Private medical care and retirement plans”, “cancelling failed social support programs”, “enforcement of current laws regarding immigration”, “respect for our military – past and present”, “rejection of junk science such as evolution and global warming”, “a strong national defense”, “A dedication to the truth, and an ability to seek it”, and “ending entitlement programs”, amongst others.

The contribution Schlafly and Conservapedia is most known for is their origination of the “Conservative Bible” translation.  The Conservapedia page on the “Conservative Bible Project”  notes that its goal is to “render God’s word into modern English without archaic language and liberal translation distortions”.  They add that the first draft of the Conservative New Testament was completed on April 23, 2010, and many of the Old Testament books are completed as well.  It adds that “Liberal bias has become the single biggest distortion in modern Bible translations”, and that “the third – and largest – source of translation error requires conservative principles to reduce and eliminate”.  It notes that “As of 2009, there was no fully conservative translation of the Bible which satisfies the following ten guidelines”, including “Framework against Liberal Bias”, “Not Emasculated”, “Combat Harmful Addiction”, “Express Free Market Parables” (“explaining the numerous economic parables in their full free-market meaning”), “Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness”, and “Exclude Later-inserted Inauthentic Passages” (i.e., “excluding the interpolated passages that liberals commonly put their own spin on, such as the adulteress story”).  It notes that the “benefits” of the new Conservative Bible include “benefitting from activity that no public school would ever allow; a Conservative Bible could become a text for public school courses”, “political issues can become a pathway to evangelizing liberals”, and “this project has a unifying effect on various Christian denominations, and serves as an important counterweight to liberal efforts to divide conservative candidates based on religion”.  Some of the “Helpful Approaches” that are cited from the Conservative Bible include to “identify pro-liberal terms used in existing Bible translations, such as ‘government’, and suggest more accurate substitutes”, and “identify conservative terms that are omitted from existing translations”. They add that “Many consider the Conservative Bible project, as well as any other Bible translation projects, to be heretical and in opposition to Matthew 5:18, which was fulfilled in the King James Bible”.  They use as examples of censored Bible passages in the Conservative Bible such as Luke 23:34, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing'” (adding that, “Is this a corruption of the original, perhaps promoted by liberals without regard to its authenticity?”, since “This quotation is a favorite of liberals”), as well as Luke 16:8, where they change the “shrewd” manager of Christ’s parable to “resourceful”.  Amongst the “Advantages to a Conservative Bible” they list include “liberal bias – and lack of authenticity – becomes easier to recognize and address”, “supported by conservative principles, the project can be bolder in uprooting and excluding liberal distortions”, “the ensuing debate would flesh out – and stop – the infiltration of churches by liberals/atheists pretending to be Christian, much as a vote by legislators exposes the liberals”, “this would bring the Bible to a new audience of political types, for their benefit; Bible courses in college Politics Departments would be welcome”, and “this would debunk the pervasive and hurtful myth that Jesus would be a political liberal today”.

As example of the improvements provided by the Conservative Bible, in the Sermon on the Mount on Matthew 5 it says Jesus “began His Torah” instead of “He opened His mouth”, and states “Blessed are those who are not full of themselves” rather than “Blessed are the poor in spirit”.  In 2009 Stephen Colbert interviewed Schlafly about his Conservative Bible on his “Colbert Report” show .  There he states that Jesus’ parables were “free market parables”.  Salon Magazine actually listed verses from the Conservative Bible, where the term “Pharisees” has been changed to “liberals”, so that Mark 3:6 reads, “The Liberals then fled from the scene to plot with Herod’s people against Jesus, and plan how they might destroy Him”, and in Mark 10:23-25. they change Christ’s words “for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” to “for an idle miser to enter into the kingdom of God”.

Political conservatism is inextricably intertwined with most of American evangelicalism like a Gordian Knot, with Biblical passages and theological doctrine and the aforementioned conservative principles irrevocably linked, and not challenged or critiqued by the Bible text itself in polite company, at the risk of alienating oneself under the most dire charges of heresy – being a liberal.   As an example of its ubiquitousness, a look at the “Ten Liberty University Distinctives” by founder Jerry Falwell on what is arguably the world’s most influential evangelical university’s website in 2015 notes that one is “An uncompromising doctrinal statement, based upon an inerrant Bible, a Christian worldview beginning with belief in biblical Creationism, an eschatological belief in the pre-millennial, pre-tribulational coming of Christ for all of His Church, dedication to world evangelization, an absolute repudiation of “political correctness,” a strong commitment to political conservatism, total rejection of socialism, and firm support for America’s economic system of free enterprise” (emphasis added) – a political and economic indoctrination paid for in large sums by parents (or vast student loans) to provide their children a life-influencing “Christian education”.  This may be why their website also notes that amongst their awards are being in the Top 10 of Newsmax‘s “40 Conservative Colleges” and number 5 on another list of “the 20 Best Conservative Colleges in America”, while being the fifth largest university in the nation.  Sometimes it requires that they stifle independent thought and free speech by their own students (presumably there to obtain an education to thus acquire such skills), in widely reported incidents such as in which the university banned the College Democrats in 2009, or in late 2016 when a writer at the university newspaper was banned from writing about Donald Trump’s sexual assault conversation with Billy Bush (University leader Jerry Falwell Jr. had already publicly endorsed Trump), apparently blocked by Falwell himself.  Sometimes they just block the online version of the local newspaper on the university computer servers, to block students from reading unsavory reports about the university’s corruption or hypocritical actions.

As is typical for this blog, the preceding long-winded expository narrative was a mere preamble for the actual point of the post itself.  Inspired by these previous references and in their general spirit, I thought I might take a shot at proposing a handful of some of the more memorable “Conservative Role Models” in the Bible itself, since the purpose of the Bible itself is to undergird and give spiritual, divine sanction to politically conservative principles both we and it hold dear.

The remainder of this post will only focus on core conservative economic principles, as embodied in the following well-known Biblical characters:

 

The “Rich Man” Who Interacted with Lazarus:  In this parable of Christ in Luke 16, a “certain rich man” was said to be “clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day” – evidently an entrepreneur and “risk taker” who was rewarded for his genius with prosperity, apparently by God Himself, and therefore worthy of our respect by his apparent success, as well as his culture and fine taste, and a role model for enterprising young Christians.  Unfortunately, he was plagued by a liberal welfare deadbeat (i.e. ‘beggar”) named Lazarus (whose name means, “whom God helps’), who used the excuse of his medical condition of body-wide sores (why doesn’t he pay to see a good doctor?) to ask for handouts, rather than earn an honest living.  The rich man knew that if he provided to Lazarus any more than what fell to the floor (a form of “trickle down Reaganomics”), (a) he would never get rid of him, and (b) Lazarus would never “pull himself up by his bootstraps”.  The blessed rich man wanted to demonstrate adherence to the conservative Biblical values of hard work and responsibility.  He did permit Lazarus an alternative to wasteful universal health coverage – he let the dogs lick Lazarus’ sores.  Accordingly, when the rich man died, he went to his proper eternal reward as God decreed.  Curiously, in the afterlife he found himself to be a helpless eternal “welfare deadbeat”, as the tables turned and he begged to Lazarus for relief.  Maybe this is why the “poor in spirit” will inherit the Kingdom, and why it is so hard for the rich to enter it.  The eternal principles the rich man then learned were said by Abraham to reside in the teachings of Moses and the prophets, and if people would not embrace them, then even one returning from the dead (such as Jesus Himself) could not persuade them otherwise.

King Ahab (acquirer of Naboth’s vineyard) and the King (acquirer of the “perfect” lamb):  In 1 Kings 21 Ahab used his power and prestige to impress upon Naboth to sell or trade his vineyard, because of its proximity to the palace, as a type of “eminent domain”, even though Naboth legally owned it.  Ahab knew the “art of the deal” many Christians so admire today in the wealthy businessmen and traders who are invited to their pulpits as guests; he exhibited the success drive and “killer instinct” to be diligent, even obsessive, in getting what he wanted, and in not taking “no” for an answer.  Most powerful men have a more powerful and cunning wife behind them, and Ahab was no exception; she forged letters in his name after notifying him that she would obtain Naboth’s property with “an offer he couldn’t refuse”, setting him up in a legal blackmail scheme that led to his death, and Ahab’s possession of his property at Jezebel’s command as a result.  In the Social Darwinistic “survival of the fittest” trait of economic conservativism, what they did was “fair game”, using power and economic clout (even paying the stooges and lawyers) to obtain from the less well-connected by force, in “free and open markets” unfettered by regulations and restrictions.  Naboth was a fool for valuing the legacy of his descendents who gave him the land for an inheritance to future generations, and “not a good businessman” which would have earned Christian respect.  In response God sent His prophet Elijah (whom Ahab called “his enemy”) to tell Ahab what he thought of his economic philosophy, and his ultimate destiny.  Similarly, in 2 Samuel 12 the prophet Nathan told King David about a rich man and a poor man, the latter having a little ewe lamb he had raised, who ate and drank from the man’s table, and was like a daughter to him (v. 3), whereas the rich man had vast flocks and herds. When the rich man wanted to impress a visitor, he did not take from his own large supply, but rather took the lone lamb of the man, and fed it to his guest.  David sought revenge because the rich man had no “pity”, but it in fact it was about his own actions with Bathsheba.  However, in conservative free market capitalism, the inevitable destiny is that almost all a society’s assets will be owned by an ever smaller circle of elites, who can leverage their wealth and influence to extract more and more.  Today the top fraction of one percent own something like half of the total wealth in America, and that upper tier is getting more elite every decade – a top political platform of that “socialist” Bernie Sanders (a man himself on the outside looking in, unlike the other political candidates).  Trump’s tax plan he proposed in his campaign would raise tax rates on the poorest tax bracket, and eliminate their credits for their children, while dropping the 39.6 and other wealthiest tax rates to 25 percent, and corporate taxes down to 15 percent (who else do you think will pick up the tax revenue slack?).  This trend in wealth concentration, if unabated by conservative calls for lesser banking and financial regulation, will become an eventual a tipping point like the French Revolution, when the masses had nothing to lose, and then everyone (including the rich) will lose.

The Ambitious Barn Builders and Wealth Retainers:  Churches extol the virtues of visionary businessmen, including those who wear clerical robes and build massive “world ministry centers” with private jets and opulent campuses, and are ever-expanding and upgrading, as role models to emulate of “the American Way”.   In Luke 12 a ‘rich man” was so blessed by his farms (obviously due to God’s grace) that he decided to tear down his perfectly good barns to build yet bigger ones, to “bestow my fruits and my goods” for public admiration, rather than sharing with others.  God was not so impressed with such displays of wealth and security, although he would have been viewed as a “model of free enterprise and investment” and to have filled his time “productively”, rather than in others’ lives.   The Conservative Bible changes how the church in Acts shared all they had sold to give to the Apostles, to being “generous with those in need”, so as to avoid allusions to socialism or communism.  A couple who embodied this change was Ananias and Sapphira.  In Acts 10 they admirably sold a possession, but kept part of it, and laid the rest at the apostles’ feet.  While many such religious leaders today toil in their ministry under modest means and with dignity, many other conspicuous examples reveal opulent lifestyles and asset accumulations from the “widow’s mites” given to their “ministries”.  A biographical book about the Rev. Billy Graham entitled Prince of War noted that by 2004 the Billy Graham Evangelical Association’s annual income was 110 million dollars, with 271 million in assets, while Graham’s annual compensation exceeded $500,000 a year, while telling radio listeners the Garden of Eden was a place “with no union dues, no labor leader, no snakes, no diseases” and saying that no Christian laborer would take advantage of his employer by aligning with a union.  Various sources list the net personal worth of the almost centarian-aged Billy Graham at over $25 million, up with the most successful prosperity gospel preachers – what will he do with “all of this in his barns” at his age?  His son Franklin, a one-time rebel who avoided the ministry, has done even better; the Charlotte Observer – the bane of the Graham family – reported in 2015 that Franklin Graham made more than $620,000 in salary from Samaritan’s Purse – that’s a quite a haircut off the top of the “widow’s mites” donated by poor Christians, and means a lot more kids will grow hungry today that could otherwise be fed at a dollar a day – which also makes him the highest paid CEO of any international relief agency, even more than the CEO of the American Red Cross.  They add that his total compensation from Purse was $880,000 plus another $258,000 for working full-time for the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.  To be fair, this is far less than the $1.2 million he received in 2008.  Is it any wonder that these religious leaders hang out with high roller businessmen and Wall Street bankers, and guys like Donald Trump, with whom they can so identify?  People love a “winner” and particularly a conspicuous one – that is why the Pharisees publicly gave their money at the temple to great adulation and respect, while the widow’s mite was the greater portion of her essential resources, which only caught the Lord’s eye; we make much ado over rich Americans who give a small portion of their excess to a charity of their choosing to assuage their conscience and take on a pious stature with the public, not considering the treacherous ways in which much of this money was accumulated, as they put their names on buildings and hospitals; meanwhile having contempt for the poor who give a lesser amount monetarily to the public good by taxation and otherwise, but actually a larger share of their own minimal means, as Christians bemoan the high tax rates of the idle rich, who have numerous tax schemes to avoid their expected proportion of taxes anyway.  This environment is why a rich young ruler could live a very pious life and seek to follow the Lord, and only be inhibited by his “higher” calling to wealth and its prestige.

The Ultimate Manifestation of Capitalism – The Rider on the Black Horse and The Great City Babylon.  In Revelation 6 we see a rider on a black horse (as in being “in the black” financially) who controlled the global exchange rates of critical assets with a balance in his hand, announcing the cost of essential foodstuffs, while protecting oil (the Greek suggests the type that is used for fuel) and the luxurious items such as wine, which would be “untouched” and protected for the wealthy elites.  History has shown that physical weapons are not the most powerful methods of control – the control of wealth and money and raw materials is.  The Knights Templar arose out of nowhere to be Europe’s bankers (as “pious soldiers of Christ”) with sudden power that rivaled kings and the Pope, and could bring any of them to their knees by the control of capital as premier capitalists, soon to be followed by the Jewish House of Rothchild, House of Morgan, Rockefeller and others.  Even Joseph found out that by confiscating and then controlling for the State the only commodity of value in a world of famine -food – it could be used to confiscate all the wealth, and even freedom of the subjects of Pharoah.  In Revelation 18 we see it globalized institutionally in the Great City Babylon, where “the merchants of the earth have waxed rich” and “the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her” – i.e., pursued their mutual interests with the global financial cartel rather than being faithful to the interests of their own citizens.  It’s Social Darwinistic attribute derived from capitalism has them dispassionately yet immorally trading in all goods of value, even the souls of men as mere possessions of labor.  Good conservatives today (and most American Christians) also see little value in the dignity of the laborer, disfavoring minimum wage laws, a living wage, labor rights and jobs programs, as being “bad for business” and corporate profits, as the Christians are the ones who put in office a political party that clearly rather answers to the Wall Street bankers and corporations who finance it (when have you seen them aggressively fight Roe V. Wade in their 28 years since in power, although they campaign so heavily on it, for example?).  Christians have swallowed one of the biggest conservative “whoppers” of the last century – that more money for the rich in reduced taxes and corporate welfare and government contracts and inducements will actually help the poor and middle class, followed only by the promise that the reduction in inheritance and other corporate taxes are for the “small family business”, or that it will produce “more jobs”.  We now have a President largely elected by Christians to look out for the “little guy” as he promised, who has staffed all his cabinet positions with oil company CEOs, and billionaire and millionaire Wall Street hedge fund executives.  Christians are dazzled by their robber barons and tycoons just as Jerry Falwell Jr. was when getting to sit in Donald Trump’s airplane, but evidently God is not as nearly impressed, and will see to it that this system of exploitation will not prevail – that of the “Golden Rule”, or “He who has the gold makes the rules”.  The passage says to God’s people to “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (v. 4).  The question is – will America’s Christians listen?

That’s enough examples for now – let us know further examples in this vein.  The next part will include good conservative Biblical examples of patriotic nationalism, exceptionalism, and a “strong Judeo-Christian nation” that “projects force globally” as a “global leader”.

[NOTE: Please link this and other posts to Facebook, other social media and in emails, to invite either widespread denouncements, praise or enlightenments in a wider circle – all of which are encouraged – and at least some food for thought and a good conversation piece.]

 

 

 

Religious Right and Their Followers May Be Getting Their Bar Kokhba Political Leader

trumpchristian

 

This is a post I have tried to avoid writing for over a year.  I know it will alienate many more of what few friends and followers I still have.  I have also tried to focus on finishing the last of seven volumes of my Holy War Chronicles book series instead, but since I haven’t posted here in some time, I might as well get this off my chest, even though it may well result in fewer readers for my books.  I could drown the readers in historical and recent data and citations here, like I do in my book, but I’ll try to restrain that and get to the point, and let those skeptics read my books or do their own research for themselves.

There was a time when God’s people, the Jews in Judea, had a monumental choice to make, which had everlasting political and, more importantly, spiritual overtones.  Their pious religious leaders had turned them against a poor carpenter/preacher known as Jesus of Nazareth, who talked of “turning the other cheek”, “Loving your enemies”, and avoided talk of claiming a political kingdom by force, but rather focused on a “Kingdom of Heaven” in which the poor were the “insiders”, and the rich were not revered and pandered to, but rather had to emulate the humility of the poor to be a part.  He told His followers to “put their swords away”, because His Kingdom was not of of this world, “else My servants would fight”.  Rome graciously gave God’s people a choice – to spare either this weak but healing Jesus who comforted the religiously or socially outcast, or another “Jesus” – Jesus Barabbas – who was a patriotic military hero in rebellion, who wanted to “make Judea great again” and “take Judea back”, even though he was also known as a killer and criminal (with such Zealots often known to rob from their own people).  We know the choice these people made; from then forward the die was cast and their fate was sealed.

The Jews, like their Canaanite and Levantine neighbors, were a wall-building people, as their source of protection from the menace of undesirables outside their “exceptional” community.  However, it is curious to note that Biblical history suggests that their walls did little to make them safer.  When Assyria’s army came, it was the heavenly host that turned their army into panic, and the prophet of God commanded that they not be slaughtered, but fed – the banquet being a non-violent affair that led to a true safety for a generation, and the foreign army to which mercy was showed had no heart to return later.  These walls did not stop Nebuchadnezzar’s army when his hand was forced by their rebellion; they had forgotten their real security was in obeying God, who had protected them without fortifications in their desert wanderings.  Nehemiah’s walls, so lovingly celebrated by Christians today (though never mentioned by either Christ or the Apostles), did not stop the Greek army from conquering when the Jews embraced them initially as “saviors” (thus betraying their benevolent Persian overlords), nor the Roman army later.  However, this wall to keep out “unexceptional” outsiders did serve to trap the people of Judea inside their own walls by their own patriotic Zealot “saviors”, who initiated an ill-advised and hopeless rebellion against Rome, and in turn massacred and tortured their fellow Jews who wanted to leave the city, while plundering their own food stockpiles and other provisions during the siege, as the Zealots used the sacred Temple grounds as a military citadel, forcing the Romans to destroy it when they refused to surrender.

Having lost their beloved Temple and their autonomy did not stop the Jews from seeking a patriotic leader to again “make Judea great again”.  Their religious leaders had “advanced” via their form of Pharisee-led Rabbinic Judaism to elevate their religious leader Rabbi Akiva, still known today by Jews as more important to Judaism than Moses himself, as well as being more wise as of the things of God.  He proceeded to “anoint” a dashing military figure as “Bar Kokhba”, or “Star of Israel”, proclaiming him as the prophesied Messiah of Israel, and massaged some Old Testament passages to vaguely alude to it.  Kokhba did not exhibit the virtues one might find in Scripture; Jewish historical records show that he was cruel, even to his fellow people of his own faith, such as cutting off the fingers of all his soldiers, and confiscating the lands of his countrymen for his own wealth.  He famously said that the Jews did not need the help from God to win.  He did launch a cruel persecution and massace of Christians throughout the land.  While rousing the patriotic/religious fervor of his countrymen, he led an even more disastrous rebellion after three and a half years, as eventually he and Akiva were killed, along with over 580,000 of their own countrymen, as the Jews were then banned from the entire region of Jerusalem.  By this time the oriignal tenets of the Jewish faith were submerged, and the hopes of a “return of the Kingdom” under a conquering Messiah was all they clung to, with no thoughts repentance, lessons learned from their folly, or the actual will of God, whom they felt betrayed them.

I have written for some time, and express in far deeper discussions in my books, that the Religious Right in America today, whom I have been raised to admire as a good “church-goin’ boy”, has similarly lost their way, in their brew of Christianity, American-exceptionalism and conviction of national “divine destiny”, Aryan superiority over other cultures, hyper-militancy (Spartan-style) and a paranoid fear, hatred and contempt of those who are different and don’t share their views, and the need to use State power to quench or eradicate them, rather than the power of love and a godly example.  This trend goes back many generations, and even prior to our nation’s founding; in recent generations, such conservative Christians were the main standard bearers of the Cold War against the commies, thereby giving spiritual sanction to the illegal acts of the CIA and FBI (both internationally and domestically), and foreign wars under false pretences such as the Vietnam War.  Since the falling of the Berlin Wall took away that zeal (and the need for such huge defense budgets and contracts), they have seamlessly transitioned their external contempt to those of another culture and sphere of the world in the War on Terror, justifying an American police state and ridiculous security budget even though the primitive nomadic leaders with AK-47s pose no civilization-toppling power in America like Russia’s nuclear arsenal.  They have justified torture and unlawful detainment and redention, with secret military trials if any, as worthy of the “good guys” to protect our morally-superior way of life.

I have observed that most of them, including many people close to me, have flocked to Donald Trump as a kind of Bar-Kokhba “messiah”, to “make  America Great Again”.  I have marvelled to see him get away with saying almost anything, to the immediate defense of his followers, in particular Christian leaders.  Probably the most honest thing Trump has ever said is that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, and he would not lose any of his supporters.  Sadly I think this is a kind of prophetic statement of how far America’s Christian community, or at least most of it, has descended into their abyss.  If anyone has taken the time to follow Trump prior to his candidacy, they will note that his life and actions have been one of total narcissism that many have called a long time ago as clinical in its severity (which does not have to be treated as long as you have enough money to buy friends, and scare away or silence critics), as a need to be seen as being the “greatest”, with the need for him to point it out for every building he has built, every house he owns or piece of furniture as ‘the greatest ever”, and for his coterie around him to acknowledge it as well.  In today’s campaign, he anoints himself as “the greatest job creator God ever made” (Henry Ford may protest this, in wherever he resides today), and will build the “greatest military”, the “greatest economy”, and the “greatest wall”, all without a single detailed plan.  We know about his attitudes toward women, which has been a lifestyle and not a recent nor long-past phenomenon.  He brags publicly on air about ditching wives when they hit 35 and are no longer useful, the lack of merits of flat-chested women, his perverted glee at getting to watch naked beauty pageant contestants dress back stage, his desire and skill at seducing married women into adulterous acts, and even his description of his own daughter’s physical attributes in sexual terms, as “someone he would date if he were not his daughter”.  He has gotten kudos from Christians for scapegoating the “others” as the source of America’s ills – a skill in “selling it” that would make Hitler proud – including all the “rapist” Mexicans, and the Muslims he kept saying he would ban from immigrating, with his reputation built on a physical “wall” that he thinks will not only effectively protect America, but “make it great again”.  He is seen as the hero of the common man, who evidently also do not do much reading (Trump has bragged publicly about being the choice of the “poorly educated”) – they would see that many of those “common men” he stiffed and did not pay for their hard work on his buildings, and the minorities he and his dad were fined for racially excluding in their buildings (his dad, the New York slumlord Fred Trump was notorious for this, leading one of his tenant victims – Woody Guthrie – to savage him in his songs).  One can see beyond his rhetoric how he would really take the cause of the common man, in his only detailed policy plan – his tax plan, which plans to reduce the tax rates of the highest tax brackets, and drop all corporate rates to a mere 15 percent.  Who do you think will take up the tax-paying slack in America?

Of course, all these things have endeared him to our wise and righteous examples amongst our Religous Right leaders, and in particular his biggest cheerleaders such as Jerry Falwell Jr., Franklin Graham and Dr. James Dobson.  And he has given them much to believe his sincerity – from his affirmation of his faith because he says he “takes the little cracker”, to his faith recitation of “two Corinthians” and how much it means to him, and his holding up his grandmother’s Bible to rapt, tear-stained Christian audiences.  Like Bar Kokhba, he has publicly said to Christian audiences that he has done nothing to ever ask God for forgiveness for.  The many Christian leaders who have crowded around him like groupies for influence and photo ops, including Dr. Dobson, have said that televangelist Paula White has led him to the Lord; she should understand him well, as an adulteress who had an affair with fellow evangelist-healer Benny Hinn until they were exposed.  Like Rabbi Akiva, they have worked hard to find Biblical references to herald his coming as messiah, many Christian leaders publicly calling him a “King David” or :King Cyrus” to justify his “rough edges” (to which I expect both men will some day hold such leaders to account for such character defamation of themselves).  They have hard-pounded home to the American Christian flock that they should not look at his character, how he speaks directly or acts, either over his life or even during the campaign – he has an exemption from any expectations of character or virtue.  It’s not that he’s just not a “holy joe” or a preacher; I don’t think he has any virtues at all to speak of, or even the bare minimum of a ne’er-do-well off the street in any culture, East or West, much less our choice amongst tens of millions to lead the ‘Free World”.

In recent years the Religious Right and their followers have had a similar crisis of what path to take, and who to follow, as they did in the streets of Jerusalem.  In the recent election, Ron Paul, a practicing Christian, veteran, only serious congressman to actually propose pro-life legislation, and faithful spouse to his wife for over fifty years, spoke to the almost exclusive evangelical audience at the South Caroline debate, and said that our foreign policy should follow Christ’s Golden Rule, to which he was roundly booed.  At the Values Voters Summit held by the Family Research Council , Christians there gave him the lowest “values” score, merely because he did not like war, and did not think that everyone who tried a marijuana cigarette should be in jail.  These days, like Kokhba they have a candidate whom they can really rally behind and admire.  They speak in defense of Trump regardless of his historic or recent actions or words, much like an abused spouse or a co-dependent of an alcoholic, in neither case helping the sick person, and in this case revealing more about their own character.  We have recently seen, in Trump’s own words, how he likes to “grab women by the p___y” and lead them around (I use this offensive term because most Christians don’t seem to think it is a big deal, evidently).  I think in this case, Trump is grabbing the Religious Right and their followers “by the p___y”, and derisively laughing all the way.  More importantly, he has shown (by his own statements) that he likes to target women in marriage covenant with others; in this case, he has the greatest prize – a Church in marriage to Christ, whom he has seduced away by his dirty talk, bravado and “charm”- not as if there were much resistance from them; they have repeatedly shown their tendency to go “a whoring” after patriotism and self-worth, the Darwinian emphasis on “might makes right” in their economics and gunboat diplomacy, and even their justification of slavery in years past.  I cannot speak for Christ, but I would noo be surprised if He is telling the leaders of the American Religious Right and their followers to “weep for their children” in the days ahead, and it won’t be for the reasons they hear on talk radio.

As far as I am concerned, I think that all of these Christian leaders and pastors who have espoused this have gone the way of Balaam the prophet – telling pagan leaders what they want to hear in spiritual terms in exchange for profit and influence.  I intend to hang their endorsement of Donald Trump, and their lame justification for it, around their necks like an albatross for the rest of their lives (albeit subject to repentance and wising up, like we all have had to do).  The next time they begin publicly moralizing about how immoral certain Americans are – including gays, or thoese irascible “millennials” – I am going to throw their endorsement of Trump back into their face, and tell them where to stick it; I don’t want to hear any of their moral superiority any more.  I now know (actually I have known for some time), and more importantly all can see their hypocrisy, and how serious they are about moral convictions and being a “voice of conscience” to a society.  Oh, how do we need a John the Baptist today who could speak real “truth to power”, and also point out these sold-out Christian leaders as a “brood of vipers”!  The rank and file Christian Trump supporter has no excuse, no more than any of us saying these politicans are the problem and were forced on us – someone had to vote these guys (Trump and Clinton) in during the primaries, and think they were a “good choice”.  I think these supporters have gone the way of Esau – “despising their birthright” by selling their Christian moral authority for a promised bowl of porridge of feel-good, militant American exceptionalism, and scapgoating of Mexican and Muslim outsiders for all our problems.  I’m afraid this birthrite of spiritual credibility is also hard to get back.  It has exposed their priorities and a projection of their own internal values and ideals.

Trump’s life has been defined by his establishing of his “brand” (with his names on buildings, steaks, airlines, etc.), and the “art of the deal”.  Ironically, his book by that name that made him famous was not even written by him, and his ghost writer who did come up with his philosophy for him has now renounced him and rejects what he stands for.  I guess some might admire Trump as a “success” – as one might consider a “success” who only started with millions to invest from his dad and his dad’s Rolodex of insider real estate contacts (and the shirt on his back), and his ability to declare bankruptcy numerous times while leaving all his partners and creditors holding the bag (which he defines as “success”).  In Trump’s world, a “good deal” is not when both parties succeed in their goals as a “win-win”; no, there must be a winner and a loser of a transaction as to its value, to feed to egos of Trump and his ilk (as he did with Merv Griffin over Resorts International).  In his deals, he must “sell” a persona of awe to intimidate his “mark” (a term from street con games), followed by periods of “good guy” posturing and flattery when needed, as well as “tough guy” belittling of a deal opponent to give them fear of refusal (having the perceived dough to threaten endless lawsuits also serves he and his type well as well).  He himself believes none of it (other than some measure of self-denial), and seeks only to “win”, and does not see destroying his opponent as “personal” (see the horrible things he has said to his primary rivals, and then instantly made up with them when they were no longer a threat to his goals). I have experienced these behaviors myself from billionaires and other high-rollers I have had to do business with, and even strike deals with (or defend myself when they break them).  I have witnessed him using all these techniques on America and his growing ranks of gullible followers during this campaign, and he has played them like a Stradivarios.  Most have never had to deal with types like him before (except at maybe an Amway sales meeting or similar scenario or timeshare sales experience).  He has flattered them. charmed them, and made them in awe of him, and “ready to sign”.  His emphasis on “winning” in all his talks (when not offending women and their looks, or Hillary. the media conspirators, etc.) sits well with Americans, including many American Christians, because the real religion of America is “winning” – winning wars, winning sports, winning in global business, etc.  We will deal with the devil (while spouting moralisitic platitiudes) as long as we can be with a “winner”, and maybe have some of that success rub off – at least Dr. Dobson, Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell Jr. do.  Trump has produced no evidence, much less detailed plans, on how he will be the “greatest” in all these areas, other than his showmanship.  All of his other partners and associates have ended in sorrow and loss; what will be the fate of America, and its Religious Right?  Who will hold the bag this time when he goes “bankrupt”?  Instead of using money and New York lawyers to intimidate people with threats, what happens when he is privy to the capabilities of the CIA, FBI and the military?  He has also shown us how gullible we are, in his fawning adoration for the “strong man” (and former KGB spook) Vladimir Putin, who may be helping him covertly (according to the FBI).  Christian leaders (including Graham) have praised the despot Putin, who jails and kills opposition, shuts down independent media and is building his own personal largesse as the singlemost powerful individual controlling energy supplies in the world, to add to his own wealth.  Graham and his Christian leader peers (and many laypersons) have been calling Putin himself the “lion of Christianity” for his jailing of gay persons or those with dissenting views to his government or the Russian Orthodox Church, while ignoring his laws that are outlawing an evangelical presence in his country.  Putin and Trump both share in common a desire to inspire their national churches with nationalistic fervor, and to exploit them for their own financial and political gains.

All these words of rebuke are not intended in any way to elevate or promote HIllary Clinton – a Nixon-like figure of entitlement, paranoia and secrecy that would continue our less-than-ideal leadership vacuum, although probably not quite the Wormwood figure that Right Wing Talk Radio has indoctinated Christians to adopt withour question or critique (these same sources and their followers also said there would be no election in 2012 or 2016 if Obama was elected).  I did not vote for Hillary in the primaries (nor Trump or his warmonger Repubican peers), and I don’t plan to in the general election; I remind you that there are other choices for president on our ballots, and I would submit that now is an excellent time (with two terrible major candidates) to begin availing yourself of them, as I have done for several elections (and wish I had done earlier).  I do encourage you to vote; even as Christian citizens of “another kingdom”, I believe that is is right for us to vote, at least as an expression of gratitude to God who gave it to us here in America, and as a small measure of positive influence.  Don’t tell me I am “wasting my vote” by not endorsing either of the two similar criminal syndicates we know as “political parties”; I am tired of endorsing the status quo of them with my vote, and the choice of candidates will not improve unless we change course (and more importantly, educate our fellow Christians).  Some Christians think Trump will fight the neo-cons.  It is true that a few of the neocons (such as Bill Krystal) cannot swallow him, and I like his critique of the Iraq War and Syrian intervention.  However, I see that his advisors are chock full of neocons and warmongers (and endorsed by gen. Boykin, to boot, as well as Dick Cheney), and he has had the audacity to say publicly recently, “I love war”.  Does anyoen really know what he will do once he is in office?  Who is he beholden to?  Does the Religious Right really think he will give them the time of day after he has rangled their votes, if he wins?

That’s it – I have much more to say, but I should quit while I am behind and say no more, before there is no one else left to piss off (I sadly have had strained relationships with many close friends needlessly over this issue).  Even though this election may not inspire most of us, we can use it constructively, regardless of what the “world” does, to see what it says about us as individual Christians and our Christian community and what we value, and the state of our witness in this world after the smoke of this election clears.  I suspect that God will use this to bring some clarity, and even separation (and new bed-fellows and fellow travelers) to perceptive Christians in the days ahead.

Buckle your seat belts, and keep a long-term, heavenly kingdom perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Bombshell Investigative Report Ties Gen. Boykin to Military Intelligence Use of Christian Aid Organization in North Korea as a Funded Cover

Friends,

I just heard on CNN today a report on a new investigation by a journalistic organization called “The Intercept” that just released their findings that Gen. Jerry Boykin and his military intelligence group took over a Christian aid organization to fund and use to place intelligence gear and collect data in North Korea and elsewhere as a cover.  I found the actual amazing report, which you can read here:

Intercept Report Linking Boykin to Christian Group/Intelligence Cover

The front organization, the Humanitarian International Service Group (HISG), was founded the day before the 9/11 attack (you can see it explained here); the first website shows a video of the founder Kar Hiramine’s “Christian” calling to found it.  In 2003 Gen. Jerry Boykin, original member and eventual chief of Delta Force and Special Forces Command and now well-known evangelical speaker, joint chief with Rick Joyner of the Oak Initiative, and Executive Vice President of the Family Research Council, took over the DoD Defense Intelligence Group in 2003, and decided to develop intelligence capabiltiies to rival the CIA, by using faith based front organizations, which the CIA and rest of the government had been forbidden to do after they had been caught doing it in the 1975 Church Committee hearings.  They set up other front organizations to fund it to provide cover that it was a DoD intelligence front.  One funding organization, the New Millennium Group, was operated by Army Colo. Robert Lujan, who was the legal counsel for Delta Force when Boykin operated it; he also wrote a paper called “Legal Aspects of Domestic Employment of the Army” (which you can read here from a military training site) that talks about the use of the military in the U.S., and mentions the Waco siege (where Boykin advised Janet Reno on the assault that immolated scores of civilian victims) by using Delta Force to help the BATF clear a meth lab from the Branch Davidian house and to conduct  “‘room clearing discriminate fire operations,’ termed ‘close-quarter combat’ by the military”, and Presidential use of the military to take over Los Angeles after the Rodney King verdict.  He concludes by saying that “Civilian and military leaders need to expect an increase in domestic deployments of US military forces…America’s leaders should recognize that the relationship between America’s Army and the American people is strong but may be compromised.”

The article also notes that the money was also funded through a small outfit called the “Working Partners Foundation”, run by Robert Simses and Yale King.  Simses is a lawyer whose bio says he worked for the Navy in the White House during the Nixon years.  Yale King was the primary man, and was said by Boykin in his book Never Surrender as being a long-time “dear friend”; he was often featured on the Oak Initiative videos with Boykin and Joyner, talking about how the govt. had stolen his car dealership, when at the same time it appears evident that the government was sending him large sums to be a laundering organization.  The article notes that the ‘Christian” organization HISG received $15 million from the Pentagon, operating in 30 countries, until a new intelligence director shut them down at the end of 2012.  The new commander, Adm. McRaven, was said to have said to “shut it down because he was nervous about the flap if it ever got out that the Pentagon had used a bunch of evangelicals and missionaries as spies”.  My review of their tax records show that the groups shut down subsequently at the beginning of 2013, and according to the tax files I have (and the article attests), the remaining assets were given back to the U.S. Treasury (!).

I had already planned to have Gen. Boykin “star” in the last book volume for me to draft of my book series The Holy War Chronicles.  I document his involvement in the torture activities at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, his Delta Force activities and his “Christian” activities to turn the War on Terror into a “holy war”, where he (alongside Kanasas City Prophet Rock Joyner) advised the church to train our youth “with a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other”, as he also pontificated on Jesus’ return sporting an AK-47.  I thought that this, plus his recent book allegorizing a secret organization of retired pastors and special forces soldiers that assassinated Muslim leaders and other illegal acitivities were evidence of a corrupt work of wolves masquerading as Christian sheep.  I have seen all this evidence as “red flags” that Christian leaders have not seemed to acknolwedge to date.  I have been willing to speculate that the anti-sharia movement and Religious Right para-church community at large is rife with CIA and other intelligence operatives using the Church to accomplish its agenda (the documents I have obtained from the 1975 Church Committee hearings confirm this likelihood as well), since their agendas coincide, and this piece of data strongly bolsters this possibility.  If it is true, God help us all.

I hope this concerns you as much as it does me.

A Decade For All The Mullahs To Depart

I don’t know about you, but I have been seeing a lot of commercials on cable news and elsewhere, from a group known as “Citizens For A Nuclear Free Iran”.  You can guess their message – we must pull out all stops to sabotage the multi-nation peace deal recently struck with Iran, but it doesn’t offer any alternative solutions.

I did a little snooping, and according to the Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio (NPR) and other sources, these “citizens” are a new group formed to served as a deceptive, concealed front operation for AIPAC, or the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.  NPR notes that the wealthy AIPAC is spending between $20 and $40 million dollars in media propaganda against the American public to persuade them away from what otherwise they might naturally and logically decide on this one issue based solely on American interests. Where is this massive amount of money coming from, and what “strings are attached” with it, and their agendas?  This is an organization whose primary loyalty is to a foreign power, to serve their interests.  I suspect that this sum is far larger than that spent by the Japanese to perform an identical operation through “Toyko Rose” in World War II.

This expensive propaganda “psy-op” mission (assisted by prominent Senators who are on the board of the organization) is necessary because its goal runs counter to the natural peace-loving nature of the normal peoples of the Earth.  The majority of the Iranian people want the treaty.  The communities of the major nations that helped broker it – the UK, Germany, France, Germany, China and Russia – all want it.  The United Nations officials and the Vatican want it.  Polls of the other nations of the world reveal that they are in support.  Even the former head of Shin Bet (their FBI) and Mossad in Israel support the treaty, as well as many of the opposition parties in Israel, who certainly care about the security of their own nation.

However, the hard liner mullahs in Iran are skeptical, as well as the hard liners in Israel, the US and some other Western nations who stand in opposition to the consensus of the rest of the world.  Ironically, each of these groups commonly seek a full “hot war” between the sides to eradicate one side of the other, which more ironically would kill possibly hundreds of thousands or millions of the common people who support the deal.  

Many say they want to keep up the sanctions, which is actually a type of blockade that has been recognized internationally and historically as itself an act of war.  The “starvation policy” against Iran just hurts the common people there, while the nuclear program proceeds regardless of the suffering of the public.  The supporters know it will eventually end in an act of desperation, even if the West has to bait it, to finally get their blood-letting underway on a vast scale; the Versailles Treaty and its crushing reparations was effective in accomplishing this in what became Nazi Germany.  The pro-confrontation, anti-peace supporters say that the sanctions should continue, yet also say that they are not being effective enough in stopping Iran’s nuclear program.

I still have an even bigger problem – call me a traitor, but what fundamental right do we have to dictate how another nation chooses to construct its own defense?  Is our status in being a self-appointed “exceptional” state give us license to just tell people of other sovereign nations what they can or cannot do, under threat of violence from our overwhelming military superiority?  Have we permanently adopted the rights of “preemptive strike warfare” just like the Talmud-inspired policies in Israel for such, even though the ancient Christian theology of “just war” calls it immoral?  Have we taken a similar, consistent tack toward Israel itself, when it lied to our President about its nuclear program, denied it to the world, and cut a secret deal with France to build it in exchange for invading Egypt on behalf of France and the UK in the Suez War?  Since Iran has signed the binding Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and Israel is a non-signatory, along with a handful of other states (India, Pakistan and North Korea), who is the real threat?  Who is the real “Axis of Evil”?

Many know that the agreement, hammered out by many nations to their satisfaction and teams of top weapons inspectors over months and years, has limited durations for its drastic scale back of nuclear processing and research of either ten years or fifteen years, based upon the operation.  Many now worry what happens when those days arrive, even though in the meantime, the deal increases the number of on-site inspectors dramatically, has a protocol for the removal of processed nuclear fuel and means to detect minute residues, and even a rigid protocol to immediately invoke original sanctions if it is broken.  I recently read from historian Karen Armstrong in her book Holy War that the Muslim culture sets a maximum periods of truces of ten years (most never lasted that long, because the Christian Crusaders routinely broke them).  This probably makes some logical sense, since things change amongst both parties, and the world and its conditions and issues that justify re-visiting most agreements over that length of time in any case.

However, I think I know the real reason why the negotiators on both sides agreed to this scale of duration of this ephemeral agreement, and why they cannot admit it in public.

It buys time for the hard-line mullahs to die off.

The people of Iran generally love the American people.  You should watch Anthony Bordain’s recent visit there on his CNN show – he was greeted very warmly as an American by the common people there, to his shock (he (and I) also loved their love of things American, like the custom street car show with hot rodded Camaros and Firebirds he witnessed amongst the young people).  Why they love us, I don’t know why – particularly after we overthrew (via the CIA and Norman Schwarzkopf’s dad) their democratically elected secular and progressive government in 1953, and installed a despot there.

You may say – then why do we see on our TV screens their streets filled with people chanting “Death to America”?  In actuality, the crowds look big but are limited – I bet you see similar chants from larger crowds of Tea Partiers at the Washington Mall.  Another thing I learned from the historian Karen Carpenter is that when they also chant that America is the “Great Satan”, they are referring to an Islamic view of Satan – not a great power that rivals God, but rather a tempter that causes man to sin and stumble.  They see America as tempting their people with immoral television programs (like popular international shows like Dallas and Baywatch), MTV and capitalistic greed.  In other words, they are concerned about the same things as Christians are here in America today (except for the “greed” thing – here we see it as a sign of “God’s blessing”).

Iranian President Rouhani, who helped negotiate this deal, is known as a political moderate, earning a Ph.D in Constitutional Law in Scotland.  He ran on a platform to secure a “civil rights charter” for ethnic and religious minorities in Iran, and for normalizing better relations with the West.  His progress in these matters is certainly debatable, but he operates in opposition to the Mullahs who sit above him in the Islamic State, including the “Principlists” who resist change there.  We as American Christians should pray for his success there, and protection.  He must also show the mullahs that he has not “sold out Iran” and must deal with a very conservative set of senior leaders.

If this or a similar deal would be approved, then it is likely at the conclusion that these “old guard” mullah fundamentalists would be long-buried and in Paradise (or wherever)), and the younger moderates like Rouhani and others in power.  This might be the best hope for us all globally in the short and medium term.

The trick is to get the “mullahs”, or fundamentalists who seek rather than try to avoid confrontation, on all sides to approve the deal, which may be a miracle if it succeeds.

This leads to my main point – we have many religious fundamentalist “mullahs” to get rid of in the West and good ol’ US of A as well right here in the next decade, if we are to survive.

The more secular ones (albeit who use religious imagery for their agendas) run institutions like the Republican Party, major conservative think tanks and key media positions.  The “true blue” religious fundamentalists, in their conservative evangelical, Reformed, and Catholic variants also control their own media empires, and hold powerful positions in para-church organizations like the Family Research Council, American Family Association, and the like.

Their platforms would match the mullahs in Iran in many respects.  They would impose a personal morality and restrictions on private behavior and what people do with curtains drawn and while not disturbing others, claiming “sola scriptura” while ignoring Paul’s admonition in 1 Cor. 5 to not judge the world, rather leaving that to God (and furthermore, to actually engage with the most disreputable and immoral in society, as a sacred mission of the church).  They want to impose themselves or their designees as national leaders in setting up theocracies by conquering the “Seven Mountains” of society and “occupying” them, regardless of the rights of minorities, and then begin squashing out other Christian communities of other views who might be rivals or resist.  They also want to prevent the practice of other religious faiths, the construction of their houses of worship and even to deport those of other faiths or intern them – ideas that the Taliban and other Islamic fundamentalists would wholeheartedly applaud.  They would also want to impose severe punishments on those of differing views of personal morality (even importing the witch hunts to places like Uganda), including capital punishment in a manner that the Saudi extremists in charge would find common cause.

The key is that these leaders, whom you and I both know, are getting white-haired and long in the tooth, and they know their days are numbered.  Check out the attendance at the latest Bible Prophecy conferences (which have long become little more than paranoid conservative foreign policy pep rallies under a veneer of generic Bible ideas), which are ever-dwindling in numbers and getting older every day, even in this era of paranoid, well-publicized “Blood Moons” and “Harbinger” scares.   They are not indoctrinating enough young people into their Cold War, tribalistic views of an America on constant “red alert” to “save the world”  to keep the racket going, even with their Liberty, Bob Jones and Christendom colleges and university “madrassas” regularly cranking out small numbers of molded ideologues.  They are thus left as an elderly “Politburo” whose hold on power is rapidly slipping.

Sadly, the picture is much grimmer within Israel itself.  The peace-loving segment of Israeli society appears to be slightly less than half of the population based upon voting data, but their numbers may be dwindling as their youth leave in droves due to the high expense of living in Israel and the despicable conditions they see the Palestinians living under and the self-inflicted pariah status of their own nation as a (rightly) perceived apartheid state.  Meanwhile, the Ultra-Orthodox, while only comprising around 10 percent in contrast to the current 80 percent in Israel who are God-denying atheists (and thus who receive special favor from American evangelicals), are continuing to breed very large families with almost all members being on public assistance due to their Talmudic studies.  They already control the critical “swing vote” in their parliaments and thus wield disproportionate power to enforce Orthodox byzantine rules on their own Israeli people, but are growing so fast that their power will become dominant within a generation.  From this class come those who burn New Testaments in front of the Knesset, fire bomb churches and pastor’s homes, and attack Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, and Christians or other aid workers who come to their assistance.

If we all can manage our own national and religious fundamentalist “mullahs”, in the USA, Iran, Israel and elsewhere, and their lust for an apocalyptic “hot war” to expedite the End of Days, sufficient to grandfather them out over the next decade, then the world would be a much safer, peaceful and unified place.