7/24/2014

A Christian Confesses to the Atheists

[Your regular Pundit is on vacation! This is @Presbyhippy filling in!]

It came across my social media feed the other day that several states still have wording on the books to prohibit atheists from serving in public office. At least one article I consulted suggests that federal freedoms would trump those limits from ever being enforced, should an atheist ever attempt a campaign in one of those religiously steeped places, but it’s a chilling comment on the theocratic tendencies in United States culture that such laws ever existed.

In my experience, the debates and dialogues between skeptics and sincere believers tend to focus on who holds the correct viewpoint and searching for the most logical way to refute one’s ideological or theological opponent. Since I don’t see this as an argument that should or could be “won,” I sometimes tire from the stridency I see on all sides. In my experience, people in love with their own rhetorical convictions and persuasive powers can be found in religious communities and atheist circles alike.

These difficult but entertaining conversations got a much needed change-of-pace when Chris Stedman released his book Faitheist and began to seek out “interfaith dialogue” between atheists and theists. Stedman suggests, “I work to promote critical thinking, education, religious liberty, compassion, and pluralism, and to fight tribalism, xenophobia, and fanaticism. Many religious people are allies to me and other atheists in these efforts—and a good number of them cite their religious convictions as the motivating factor behind their work. I am far more concerned about whether people are pluralistic in their worldview—if they oppose totalitarianism and believe those of different religious and nonreligious identities should be free to live as they choose and cooperate around shared values—than I am about whether someone believes in God or not.”

Thinking about Stedman’s inclusive perspective and living in a state with discrimination against atheists on the books, I realize I probably have been guilty of disparaging remarks against those whose humanistic beliefs are in the minority here in the South or using my beliefs as a form of social credibility in this religiously-shaped culture. For this, I am sorry.

Further, I’d like to confess some of my motives for embracing personal spirituality and religion as a collective practice. I’d like to confess why I am not an atheist.

Religion and spirituality provide daily practices as much as vigilant viewpoints, mostly about saving oneself—not so much the burden of convincing you that my religion is correct or saving you from punishment or saving the world from itself. After years as a new age, hippy, Jedi, Taoist, neopagan, etc. spiritual seeker, my reconversion to Christianity included an introduction to writers and pastors like Carlton Pearson and Rob Bell, who in their books Gospel of Inclusion and Love Wins respectively, argued against more conventional ideas about hell. Relieved of what Bell calls a “toxic” idea concerning selective salvation and pervasive damnation, my faith can be motivated by notions other than converting all my atheist friends in order to save them from hell.  

I’m not an atheist because I believe that science and humanism, complete with an ever-changing and ever-expanding base of knowledge, and all the expected subjective agency of those, would require more faith (not less) than religious or spiritual disposition. Placing faith in something invisible, unknown, eternal, universal, and intangible (something that some of us choose to name God) might actually be easier than having faith in one’s own abilities and what can be rationally apprehended at any given time.  

I’m not an atheist because in the quiet rumblings of my head and heart, in my guts and in gravity, I regularly hear the gentle inchoate voice of God. For the atheist who hears similar whispers, I imagine there are ways to explain those voices, but I am guessing some of them involve medication and perhaps even hospitalization. Many people experience paranormal phenomenon; religion and spirituality can provide a benign context and interpretive matrix for dealing with these while maintaining sanity and perspective.

I’m not an atheist because I have a problematic and paradoxical view of human nature. We all contain some spark of the divine goodness, but many of us left to our own devices are selfish, greedy, power-hungry, outright jerks. That is, for me, atheist humanism has a higher view of human nature and even a loftier moral code than expected in religion. That sounds strange, but the spiritual path of my choosing provides a narrative mechanism to explain my failures and shortcomings, a mythopoetic language of sin and redemption. One does not need to read the Adam and Eve story from Genesis as historical document to take away from it profound truths about the limits of human subjectivity and our innate craving for collective reconciliation. Religious myth, religious community, and spiritual practice broker my relationship with the harsher aspects of reality in such a way as to provide some glimpses of peace and harmony.

I’m not an atheist because I am in recovery from alcoholism and other addictions. For more than five years, trying to follow the 12-steps by the book and in the context of a supportive community, I have remained sober and my life has radically improved. Coming to believe in a power greater than myself as endorsed by the programs of recovery fits well with the progressive Christian mystic path I am currently exploring. There are lots of helpful workarounds to the God language in recovery, so that we might remain inclusive of our atheist friends, but a whole-hearted embrace of God by surrendering and letting go of my previous ideas about God turns out to work quite well for this alcoholic.

Perhaps I'm not an atheist because I am just not smart enough or good enough. Perhaps religion is just another drug, and since I cannot do the other recreational drugs anymore, it is the one that currently gets me high.  

It turns out to my surprise that lots of Christians are atheists, and the idea of “supernatural theism” to describe an all-powerful magical-dictator-in-the-sky has fallen out of fashion among progressive religious thinkers of all faiths. That said, since the mysterious side of religious faith deals not just with the God within but also with that which is entirely other and unknown, I tend to focus on what could be called a higher or more traditional view of the Trinitarian God, but I try not to do so from the realm of dogmatic domination or apologetic argument. Part of following faithfully and falling into the mystery means allowing the mystery to be mysterious. 

Like Chris Stedman, I think that intelligent dialogue between the religious progressives and non-religious activists can be a force for good against totalitarian thinking and practice, and I am so thrilled that Rude Pundit saw this blog as just such a venue for that kind of discussion.

Mentioned here: http://faitheistbook.com/

7/23/2014

My Hippy Jesus Problem

[Your regular Pundit is on vacation! This is @Presbyhippy filling in!]


Hello my name is Andrew, and I have problem with hippies and Jesus. That is, no matter how short I cut my hair or how punk is more my generation, I am an unrepentant hippy despite my sanity and sobriety. That is, no matter how much I respect Quakers and Buddhists, Taoists and atheists for the integrity of their worldviews, I am a repentant Jesus Freak despite my intellect and irreverence.

Last weekend, I attended the Forecastle Music Festival in Louisville, Kentucky, that is because I missed my annual date with the Rude Pundit at Bonnaroo, due to my activism supporting the LGBTQ and divestment movements at the big Presbyterian shindig in Detroit (which you may have heard about in my last post for this site), which happened to fall on the same dates as the Roo. On Sunday, since I missed church due a very late Saturday, I decided to wear my “JC [Jesus Christ]: the original hipster” t-shirt (see picture) that I’d recently purchased at the liberal Jesus hippy answer to Burning Man, called the Wild Goose Festival, in Hot Springs, North Carolina.

While I loved the fist-bumps, “great shirt dude” shoutouts, and general spiritual mayhem made by wearing this shirt instead of say, a tie-dye, a paisley tanktop, a Replacements t-shirt (they were playing Sunday), or any other festival-appropriate duds, it cuts to the core of my hippy Jesus problem.

You see, in the phenomenon known as American Jesus as exemplified by a movie of that name recently released and book by that name from a few years ago, anyone can make their move with Jesus the way that the hippies and hipsters do. So, we get: gun-control Jesus and gun-toting Jesus, gay Jesus and gay-bashing Jesus, brown-skinned immigrant Jesus and the Jesus-loving hate-monger meeting him with an unwelcome wagon at the U.S.-Mexico border. Although some illusion about the attainability of an elusive Christian unity has always been implied as a necessary component of our faith, the culture war in America all but forbids it.

Some days, it seems I have something in common in terms of core values with everyone but the Bible beating bigots in the Bible belt. My anti-war, pro-choice, inclusive, civil rights, economic justice Jesus has enough cross-references in the Bible for me to feel I am following Him in all my leftish ways, but if one day, I were to wake up and find out that the deer-hunting, cage-fighting, forced-pregnancy Christians actually were the true Christians, I am pretty convinced I couldn’t stay on the team. 

On Sundays, I pay lip service to unity with my conservative Christian friends, because I want to be open-minded around them in hopes they will be open-minded around me. But there comes a time in those conversations where one of us ends up accusing the other one of serving Satan instead, if only in our private judgmental thoughts. That’s not nice, but it’s honest.

We can trace my hippy Jesus roots back to my parents and life in the early 70s when my preschool and elementary-school consciousness made sense of my family’s devout Christian faith coupled with our unwavering support of the farmworkers, the feminists, and George McGovern or Jimmy Carter. There was a split in the roots or lineage of the hippy-Jesus tree around that time.

Both left and right Christians of the era embraced the hippy clothing and the hippy music, the hippy commune and the hippy coffeehouse. That is, the hip lifestyle that included fantastic folk and rock music or health food and homebirth and happy homegrown DIY-craftiness all but transcended politics. Yet those same hip folks could divide quite contentiously when it came to politics.

On the left side, we were connected to the Beatniks, the Catholic Workers, and the anti-war movement. Writers like the great Thomas Merton or artists like Sister Corita were prolific and eloquent voices for the people from inside Catholic orders. On the right side, what is today known as the evangelical scene embraced the street people and ex-acid heads with such an embrace that once converted they bought into the fundamentalist, simplistic, anti-abortion, apocalyptic faith espoused then by the likes of Hal Lindsay and his book The Late, Great Planet Earth and with too many late 20th and early 21st century correlations to mention.

The original Jesus hippies had an organic appeal to them before they evolved into today’s crunchy conservatives. Today’s Christian hipsters are not that different, and here in Nashville, it’s hard to tell the right-wing hipsters and the left-wing hipsters apart until you start talking books and theology and voting trends. But some of the worst views in our world today about unquestioning support for Israeli and American militarism, wishing for the end times, trying to pray away the gay, disrespecting women and the environment, and damning all other religions or non-religions to an eternal hell, these devilish ideas can be traced in America not just to the far-right evangelical Christians but from within that community to specific trends within hippie Christendom, including those who were identified with the Jesus People in the early 1970s.

Because I cannot shake my hippy dippy Jesus Freak identity, and my tastes in all natural food and psychedelic folk rock music reflect this, it’s important for me in my research about the 60s and 70s to seek out the members of the Jesus revolution in American counterculture who kept their roots on the left side of the split. We are just the kind of people you will meet at a Wild Goose type festival or see stopping the water shutoffs in Detroit and advocating for immigrant reform and worker justice.

From the fog of war and weariness of economic exploitation, it’s sometimes difficult to find Jesus as liberator and life-force and unconditional love and not so much as culture warrior, even though we often need to choose sides in these battles if we are to defend what’s left of goodness and the democratic spirit, as power-mongers of every stripe find new ways to dominate. What love and what hope do we have that love and hope will stand up to all this monstrous and authoritarian insanity? 

mentioned in the blog:
http://americanjesusthemovie.com/

http://wildgoosefestival.org/

7/22/2014

Taking a Mental Health Break, Leaving You in Good Hands

The Rude Pundit has been feeling stabby as fuck lately and is taking a few days off to rest, relax, and recharge. That means drinking, sexual triathlons, and a drug buffet. Oh, and maybe a hike or two on some godforsaken mountain. And forgetting for a while about border fuckery, Russia's fuckery, and the GOP's fuckery, as well as avoiding the cackling whores who will be joyously celebrating the possible gutting of the Affordable Care Act.

He is leaving you in the more-than-capable hands of Andrew Smith, who represented for lefty Christianity in mighty fine fashion a couple of weeks ago. @Presbyhippy on Twitter, he's been aching to jump in again to this den of heathens. And he's got amazing taste in music. He's taking the reins for the next three days, and this lone blogger couldn't be happier for the quality of the company.

So enjoy Andrew. Treat him nicely. Read his blog, Unlikely Sunday School Teacher.

The Rude Pundit will be back next week.

A Lynching in Staten Island


That screenshot shows two New York City cops trying to convince the corpse of Eric Garner that he's not dead. Garner, 43 and black, died after being put in a chokehold by the police for not allowing them to arrest him for, as the NYPD says, selling cigarettes illegally. That is, he was selling individual cigarettes for 50 cents each from untaxed boxes, and he needed to be stopped.

No, really. That's why the police were confronting him in the first place, according to the cops involved. They could have written him a ticket. Instead, he was tackled and handcuffed by a group of cops who thought Garner, obese with asthma, was lying when he said, repeatedly, "I can't breathe." One officer was kneeling on Garner's head on the sidewalk as he tried to breathe. So he died and the white officers kept leaning in to talk to him to tell him to get up. Being dead, he could not obey the officers' commands. It's shocking they didn't arrest his body.

As more than one editorial writer has pointed out, Garner was not a threat, was unarmed, was not doing anything violent - people on the scene claim he had just broken up a fight, and was, at most, committing a petty crime. When he was on the ground, he received no medical attention, no CPR, no dosage of asthma drugs, nothing. It's still unknown if he was killed by a heart attack, asthma, or strangulation.

What is known is that Garner had been arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes before. What is known is that Garner had once handwritten a lawsuit claiming that he had been strip searched on the street. What is known is that the cop who put the chokehold on Garner, Daniel Pantaleo, had two civil rights lawsuits filed against him. One of them, where Pantaleo and another cop strip searched two Staten Island men in public, led to a $30,000 payout. Another case is about unlawful arrest and is ongoing. In both cases, Pantaleo submitted reports that were sketchy at best. Now, he's had his gun and badge taken away and he's on unpaid leave, as are the EMTs who arrived on the scene, took Garner's pulse, and did nothing else, which more than likely means he was dead already and there was nothing they could do.

By the way, chokeholds are prohibited by the NYPD. That's probably why the police report does not mention one. The report also says that Garner did not seem to be in distress, so "I can't breathe" must be something that cops hear all the time.

Garner's crime was a misdemeanor. His greater crime was his unwillingness to submit to the authority of the NYPD, who, seeing their authority questioned, had to destroy the questioner for fear of losing their terrorizing position. What other reason is there for what they did? What other reason is there for pulling down the pants of young men and groping their genitals and probing their asses in full view of everyone? What other reason is there other than a desire to assert power over those who, due to race and class, have little if no means to counter that power?

By resisting the police, Garner was resisting the status quo, Garner was resisting history, he was resisting the identity that had been foisted on him by the white establishment. Now, quite unwillingly, he is another martyr to the racist assertion of police power, joining the ranks of Eleanor Bumpurs, Amadou Diallo,  Sean Bell, and too many others to list. Of course, with the power of the police in New York City and around the country growing exponentially, despite all the talk of reform that will no doubt continue in the wake of Garner's lynching, we will be here again.

Unless we are willing to confront our law enforcement history, the abuse of civil rights by the police, and the policies that encourage it, yes, assuredly, we will be.

7/21/2014

Thomas Friedman Wants You To Be Happy With Your Scraps

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is like your uncle who phones you up and tells you about this awesome new thing he's found called Netflix. "You can see whole TV series, one episode after another. I tell you, it's gonna change the way people watch television," he excitedly informs you. Now, perhaps Friedman thinks he's writing to an audience of those uncles, aunts, and various people in the "old, sweet, but kind of dumb" demographic, but when he says, as he does in his "column" on Sunday, that the lodging website Airbnb succeeds "a platform of 'trust' — where everyone could not only see everyone else’s identity but also rate them as good, bad or indifferent hosts or guests. This meant everyone using the system would pretty quickly develop a relevant 'reputation' visible to everyone else in the system," the first thing the Rude Pundit thought was "So you mean Yelp. Or Angie's List. Or the comments on Amazon products. Or every website selling shit under the sun."

Or, if you want to get down to the nitty-gritty of the history of the Interwebs, it was eBay that pretty much pioneered and popularized this whole "you're only as good as your comments and ratings" platform.

The rest of Friedman's examination of Airbnb is representative of a fuckin' awesome shift in the economic tide of the 21st century can be summarized thusly: Let us say, and why not, that you're getting fucked in the ass. Now, while getting fucked in the ass, you start to jack off because, let's face it, that prostate action is hot, but you can't finish before the dude is done fucking your ass. So the next time you're getting fucked in the ass by the kind of lover who won't give you a reacharound, who won't blow you or handy you in return, you try again to jack it to orgasm. And you get so close, but then, damnit, he's done, where's the towel? Sure, you can masturbate on your own, but that's got it's pleasures, but it's more of a hobby than an act done during sex with a partner or partners. You know that it should all be mutual, that your pleasure should be part of the whole act of fucking. But you choose shitty, selfish partners who don't care if you get off. Finally, sweet Jesus, you do it. You blow a load while getting fucked and it feels so awesome that you're ready to get fucked in the ass again and again.

For Friedman, the global economy is doing the fucking and Airbnb is allowing you to do the jacking off, but you're supposed to pretend that your little ejaculation is enough to change the world.

Oh, dear uncles and aunts, Airbnb is a website where you can go to rent rooms or apartments or homes or yurts for when you're on vacation. It's supposed to give you a more authentic experience of a place than a hotel or a bed and breakfast, although a good many bed and breakfast inns do use Airbnb (as has the Rude Pundit). Friedman interviewed one of the founders of the website, Brian Chesky, about what Friedman calls "the sharing economy," which is people using their homes or, in the case of Uber, their cars to make a living.

Friedman, using Chesky's words, romanticizes this whole concept. Quoting Chesky, Friedman writes, "There used to be a romanticism about ownership, because it meant you were free, you were empowered...I think now, for the younger generation, ownership is viewed as a burden. Young people will only want to own what they want responsibility for. And a lot of people my age don’t want responsibility for a car and a house and to have a lot of stuff everywhere. What I want to own is my reputation, because in this hyperconnected world, reputation will give you access to all kinds of things now."

In other words, you get to own nothing, says the very, very rich man to the very rich writer. Because, see, you used to be able to own your reputation and also be able to afford shit to own. You should be satisfied with a compliment online, a little bit of money from renting out part of your home because you can't find a job that pays you enough to just own, and the scraps of the world.

But for Friedman, this is the future, where he sees megacorporations yielding to hyperconnected small enterprises where people get to never stop working: "This will be a struggle between the 20th-century economy and the 21st’s. The 20th-century economy was powered by big corporations that standardized everything because they never really knew their customers, argued Chesky." Yes, giant consolidated corporations that have spent huge amounts of time and money accruing political power will no doubt be overthrown by a couple with a cute room that overlooks the beach. But at least you don't have to tip those now-unemployed bellhops, concierges, and waitstaff.

Airbnb and Uber are charming blips that will either die gruesomely or become part of the machine that they supposedly are attempting to confront. Ask anyone. Ask Microsoft. Ask Google. Ask Facebook. Every time we try to change American capitalistic paradigms, those paradigms just absorb and transform them into the same entities that ever were. And Chesky will get richer while you clean the semen stains from your sheets.

(Note: All of this ignores the smarmy little introduction that Friedman opens with, which says, more or less, "There's lots of bad shit going on in the world. But I wanna talk about how cool Airbnb is.")

7/18/2014

What's Happening in Gaza: A Savage and Obviously Anti-Semitic Blog Post


According to the UN's Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as of the end of the brief cease-fire by Israel to allow Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to get food (which caused a run on banks and grocery stores) and medical attention, just prior to the start of a ground invasion:

"An estimated 57,900 children who have experienced death, injury or loss of home over the past ten days require direct and specialized psychosocial support."

"The total number of people in need of shelter assistance due to destruction of or damage to their homes is estimated to be 96,400 individuals."

"50% of sewage pumping and treatment centres are no longer available."

"More than 30,000 people in Al Junaina and Al Salam area remain without water for the past seven days as result of damage to the main pipeline."

"In total, 84 schools have been affected by shelling due to their close proximity to targeted sites and are in need of repairs."

This is not to mention the 23,000 who need food assistance, the destruction of farms, the damage to hospitals, and the damage to the water pumping system in the entire Gaza Strip.  At least 250 Palestinians are dead and nearly 2000 are injured, 70% of whom are civilians, so, you know, take that as your moral compass allows it.

Yeah, Hamas shouldn't be launching missiles into Israel. And, yeah, Israel has responded with the disproportionate force of an elephant stomping a frog. If it was Netanyahu's goal to create another generation of Palestinian insurgents, well, that child's room up there probably tells you that it's mission accomplished.

(Was that too harsh? Was it anti-Semitic to say what the United Nations says? Oh, gee, sorry if your pro-Israel sensibilities were offended by a simple listing of the effects of Israel's actions. You can pull the Rude Pundit from the Gaza beat.)

7/17/2014

On the Immigrant Children: No, We're Not Really Better Than This

Here on the left, we like to think that because we believe in the better angels of humanity, that people aren't as vile as they so often seem. We can find peace, we like to think, in places where there will never be peace. Or we think we can find compromise with people who would rather plunge off a cliff than take our hand. "We are better than that," we say, referring to how people behave in certain situations, thinking that their initial reactions will not be borne out by their further actions.

It is the foolish net that we trap ourselves in time and again when the truth of the matter is that, as a nation, not on an individual basis, but as a conglomerate of the whole, no, we are not better than that. At best, we are exactly what we are.

Charles Blow, in today's New York Times, writes about "The fight over how to process and care for masses of children from Central America who have crossed into this country." He details some of the responses, from outright hostility to farce, like when Republican congressional candidate Adam Klansman...sorry, Kwasman protested a busload of kids heading to the Oracle, Arizona YMCA for camp because he thought they were filthy immigrants.

Blow Laments, "This is not the best face of a great nation. This is the underside of a great stone, which when lifted sends creepy things slithering in all directions. We are better than this. We are more compassionate than this. We are more honorable than this."

To which one can only say, "Have you met us lately?"

Now, the Rude Pundit admires the hell out of Blow and generally agrees with him. But this kind of wistful belief in the intrinsic good of Americans is simply not reality. Reality reveals that we're assholes (again, as a whole, not on an individual basis, although, you know...), that any good we stumblefuck into doing is accomplished only after much turmoil. The belief that, as a counter-protester in Oracle said, "We are better than that" is as much a myth for the left as the belief on the right that we can return to some kind of utopian past that never existed.

Obviously, anti-immigrant movements in the United States are not new. They go back at least to when those fuckin' Irish wanted to come here and fuck up our nice and totally not Indian nation. "But," you might respond passionately, "these are children. Children, goddamnit." Ah, yes, and that's why the fuckery of the anti-immigrationists has become even more intense. They can't just be child refugees who are fleeing horrific violence in order to avoid being killed, forced into gangs, or die from extreme poverty.

No, they must be secret drug criminals sent here to destroy our nation or they are disease-ridden creatures ready to bring Ebola to Texas. They must be wide-eyed invaders, here to establish a beachhead that will open the shores for the even more insidious influx of their, gasp, parents. They are political pawns of Democrats who want to push an amnesty bill through Congress, even though Congress won't do jack shit on immigration, so Democrats are tweeting, tweeting, motherfuckers, for undocumented children to come rushing through the border so they can grow up and vote Democratic, just like all those Cubans in Florida back in 1980, oh, right, they vote Republican, too, it's why we have Marco Rubio, but, hey, it must be evil Obama wanting to prove a point about his imperial power. Or some such shit.

Either way, there's hordes of mostly white people willing to bodily block buses carrying these kids and teens. There's people claiming that Jesus hisself would demand it. "It’s a gross mischaracterization of Christianity to apply it to tolerating the mass lawlessness, death and damages involved in illegal immigration," said one guy named Who the Fuck Cares. The fat ass Minutemen have declared "Operation Normandy" to stop the invaders (although someone should point out that if they're the guys on the shore firing at Tom Hanks on the beach, that makes them...oh, fuck it, don't tell 'em).

Yes, yes, there will be acts of kindness, no doubt, no doubt. Many are occurring right now. Many believe that we need to follow the law on how we treat kids from Central American countries and give them a hearing to see if they need asylum.

The Rude Pundit wishes we were better than we are. But we're not. In fact, chances are that we're far, far worse than that. We are now in the midst of one more moral test. Frankly, if this ends without a call for all the kids to be lined up and shot, it would be a fuckin' miracle and we can call it a wash.

7/16/2014

Kansas Is Trying to Regain Sanity, But Rick Santorum Wants It to Stay Crazy

Earlier this week, former Senator and losing GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum was the main speaker at two reelection rallies for Kansas Governor Sam Brownback. Considering the various ways you can read their last names, it sounds as if everyone was coated with feces-laden effluvia by the end. Brownback is in a tight race with Democrat Paul Davis, who was just endorsed by over 100 current and former GOP officials.

The "moderate" Republicans all said, pretty much, that they were for Davis because "that asshole Brownback is fuckin' crazy, man. Him and his band of loony cockknobs in the legislature." See, Brownback, with the help of a mega-right-wing surge in the state legislature, passed huge income tax cuts two years ago that primarily benefit the wealthy and it's gutted his state's budget rather than, as Brownback promised, creating tons of jobs and letting everyone live 24/7 in golden farm houses with free pussy and dick just for the asking.

In Wichita, Santorum spoke at a movie theater after a benefit showing of Knute Rockne: All American. The 1940 film has fuck-all to do with Kansas and everyone pretty much dies in it, but it features the terrible acting of Ronald Reagan and was the flick that gave him his "Gipper" nickname. So, yeah, Reagan, motherfuckers, Reagan. Brownback is like Reagan, see, in that Reagan only ever cut taxes, except when Reagan was raising them. Fuck you, fuckin' facts.

Santorum's speech was the kind of overwrought nonsense that'd make Nicholas Cage tell the man to calm that shit down. Nothing less than "the future of the free world is at stake" in deciding who will lead the 34th most populous state and 32nd best economy in the nation, said Santorum. "Sam is a descendant of the American Revolution," he continued. "This man loves this country and cherishes the principles and believes those principles can work, not just in Kansas, but can work to help rebirth a great civilization in America."

And Davis? That swine believes in the principles of the French Revolution, which Santorum didn't really define, but, look, it's got the word "French," so, yeah, fuck the frogs and their belief in liberty and equality.

Then shit got weird. Santorum compared the election to The Lord of the Rings. No, he really did. He said, "The other side is like the Eye of Mordor. That eye that’s constantly searching. That eye does not have an eyelid. It doesn’t sleep, it doesn’t stop. It’s constantly searching to try to oppress and defeat." Now, the Rude Pundit fell asleep during all three of the films and, no, he never read the books (and, no, he's never going to read them so don't tell he absolutely has to), but he's pretty sure that makes Brownback a hobbit.

In a speech the day before, at a car dealership in Olathe, Santorum had declared that Brownback "takes on the dragons. He is the warrior." And, again, a hobbit. Seriously, Nicholas Cage was watching this and thinking he is a master of subtlety.

Meanwhile, Brownback has made cuts to education at all levels since his budget was passed in 2012 because he ain't raising no goddamn taxes. Meanwhile, the state has had a $338 million shortfall in projected revenue, which will lead to more cuts. Meanwhile, the Kansas Supreme Court, back in March, said that the state needed to stop dicking over poor school districts, which is going to cost more money, money the state doesn't have, and, fuck you, Sam Brownback ain't gonna raise taxes because Reagan and the American Revolution and Mordor and Knute Rockne.

They should have watched the goddamn Wizard of Oz at the Wichita rally to learn that even if you think the tornado is gonna take you to a magical land of witches and castles and Munchkins, all it really does is wreck Kansas.