I cut my teeth into political satirical humor while working on Capitol Hill covering politics for national news around 1987. My first major job was chief writer/editor for Metromedia Washington (now known as Fox News). Very conservative Ronald Reagan was President, who, of course, now be considered extremely liberal today (he raised taxes every year but once during his years at 1600 Pa. Ave).
By the time I had launched Scandal Tours and was producing and writing for a professional comedy troupe: Los Angeles Times http://lat.ms/ScandalLTimes Chicago Tribune: http://bit.ly/STChicTribune. There were many many other articles, news broadcasts, etc. I was 35 years old and still wet behind the ears. But I surely learned a lot about politics. I had very little “power” before launching the tour (on about $150 btw) in 1989. Now I was “somebody” in the nicest D.C. neighborhood after slumming it for nearly a decade. Politicians (on the left and the right), media, fans, friends, etc. wanted my attention. Why were these people who didn’t give me the time of day while I struggled for so many years, suddenly *all* demand not only my attention, but permanent friendship? It didn’t take long to find out. Most did not even get to know me, or even want to, as long as they could be around me. It was soul-draining. I’d grown up where earned friends were the most valued commodities one could have. I still feel that way. And Washington was/is a power town, mainly in love with power. I had that a short while.
The Internet was very young in 1989, and not much more to it than bulletin boards and emails so I spent most of my time researching in the Washingtoniana Room at Washington’s main MLK Library. There is where I discovered a known book called “The Jefferson Bible” (still available on Amazon.com and is even free on the web in PDF form) and probably other major book outlets). It is a copy of the New Testament, carefully edited by Thomas Jefferson with a razor blade, in which he edited (cut out) all the miracles. The newly edited editions were handed to each member of Congress and read daily. Why? Because of what Jefferson felt was the most important thing ever. That one’s religious beliefs may be important; but the story of how to live is even more important. And if the miracles are read, even by adults, especially by adults; it is inevitable that the predictable religious debate evolves, “My religion is more true and sacred than yours ‘cause we got better miracles”.
A law was passed that Congress read passages aloud of the Jefferson Bible every day before the business of Congress began until the 1940’s when the practice finally ended app. 200 years after after Jefferson put it into law. So during that time, each Congressperson got a true taste of what it is like to live as a good person (from positive teachings with no miracles), without having to disrespect someone who did not share each of their interpretation of the miracles or beliefs. All the Congress members could see what the chapters, sans all miracles. Not one miracle is left in the Jefferson Bible. And it worked. Of course at the end of the day, when Congress convened, each member had the right to talk about, discuss, or whatever he/she wanted pertaining to each member’s religion’s miracles, religions, etc. This was not because Jefferson hated Christianity, he called himself a diest/Unitarian (Unitarianism falls under the Protestant umbrella) though in England he was an Anglican Christian. Remember he had just run for his life from England where his very own religion (then Anglican was totally running the government). He surely wanted no part of that. Hence our Constitution was born.
People either loved or hated Jefferson. There were not too many ambivalent about him. He spoke his mind. He had his flaws but he was a very good (and brave) man. Most loved him but it goes without saying that anyone who speaks his/her mind, and it is often against the grain, he/she is going to get his/her share of critics; usually because of fear. Most who hated him had never met him. Many considered him highly suspect due to his “Jefferson Bible” as they found it demeaning and disturbing. Others understood his desperate desire to keep religion and religious beliefs totally out of the political realm. They considered him a man without faith. He was anything but. He simply was for living it rather than preaching it and demanding that of Congress…while they were on the job. He lived it well for most of his life. One would be hard-pressed to find someone else of his cognitive abilities and commitments and love for America. Wiki Info On Jefferson Bible: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Bible
The bottom line is Jefferson knew exactly what could happen if religion got too mixed with politics and religious beliefs became law. Did that mean he hated religion? The opposite. Anyone who felt like he did, loved their religion enough not to dirty it with politics and that is what happens. This is still the case today. Don’t believe me? Look at today. It’s being tried now and look at the consequences. Often, even if the people of the same religion have the same beliefs, but feel it’s being imposed on the people.
It is estimated that 97-98% of child-bearing age women are on contraceptives. That includes Catholics and other conservative Christians. Say what you will. Intimidate as you will. Call them sinners as you will. The more you do, the more they are going to go, in droves to the voting booth and vote for the opposite candidate as you suggest. You probably don’t hear it because they feel intimidated to speak out; but you will hear it from the voting booth. Don’t kill the messenger. Just watch the count on election day.
We, especially Mississippians who did not end school segregation until the late 1960s know exactly what can happen when terrible leadership tells us “what is right”. We are still paying for that economically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you’ve not lived outside of Ms. As I have (have lived in every major city in the U.S.) you better believe one has to explain oneself (just for being from MS).
Most are not shy (especially when applying for work). “Could you work with an African-American?” “Do you know what an African-American is?” “Did you think slavery was correct?” “Are you a member of the KKK?” “ Are you aware many went to college and have more education than you?” And these interviewers were frightened to hire me (though many times I was overqualified, ONLY because I was from Ms). All those questions and many more were thrown at me as late as 1990. BP is not running that “Come Back To the Gulf” just because the water is ruined (we all know that). And they did not carefully cast the very friendly African American women yelling in a jovial voice, “Come on back to Mississippi.”. They pay consultants huge bucks to keep their finger on the pulse of America and how it feels about Ms. and the Gulf. The “feel good” ad is laughed at in most places. Again don’t kill the messenger. I’m purveying how people perceive it and how much they abhor BP Oil. BP may be intimidating you with their money and you are not even aware. Make yourself aware and let them know you are extremely angry they ruined your Gulf and hid the oil with a dispersent even more toxic than the oil. 99% of Americans know that. No scientific conclusions have come in. The Cousteau family has done their own and the prognosis looks terrible. Mississippi and Louisiana should be in court vs BP; not going along with their worthless ad campaign (so they can do it again…which is just a matter of time).
Ms may still be paying, but it has made great strides in progress to become mainstream America. Voting down the Personhood Bill by double digits just about did the trick; that is, until Haley Barbour got off his meds and began releasing murderers left and right claiming “Every experts says since they committed crimes of passion they’d never do such a terrible thing again”.
First of all, as we all know, though they may have been passionate about getting the crimes complete, these were clearly premeditated crimes; not of passion. But even if they had been, we did a complete research, called every major criminal law school we could find, and there is no such person who ever said, people who commit crimes of passion would never repeat them. Google it. You simply won’t find it because it is not there. They are just as likely as the first time they did to do it again. However, a person with money and connections, as most of these men were, are much more likely to get pardoned under a Haley Barbour off of his meds. They were right on target. Ms. Has every right to continue to salute the great Gov. Haley Barbour and “all the good he’s done for the state” that makes it look so promising to the other 49 states NOT http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20032216-503544.html
It is one thing to be Conservative. I am a lot more conservative than I am liberal, but of course today there are many shades of gray. Nobody is totally conservative or totally liberal anymore unless they are mass killers in Norway or bombers of Oklahoma federal buildings. Some of us live simple lives, vote, go home and try to do good in our community without feeling the obscene need to force our politics and/or religion onto everyone we meet. After all, that is America; at least the America drawn up in the Constitution and interpreted by U.S. Supreme Court Benjamin Cardozo, still the premiere interpreter of the U.S. Constitution. Cardozo’s writings must be learned in every major law school before a law student can even think about taking the bar exam. And I tend to believe his teachings more than I do any politician, or my strange Uncle Elmer (the self-learned from the library politician).
Trust me when I tell you that a Ms. Governor not banning the public honoring of a KKK leader as Haley Barbour didn’t, is not going to endear the tourists and their millions of dollars that could be spent in Ms. They are much more likely to visit Arkansas or Louisiana. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20032216-503544.html. In fact they do. Our little non-political town of 30K people, with just about an equal amount of liberals to conservatives lures about 5+ million tourists a year and our politics are neutral; or at least unheard except at the voting booth. All the various religions work well together and have formed Jackson House which feeds, houses and clothes the homeless. They are not at odds because their beliefs are different. They celebrate that. Christmas trees are adorned each year with a 6 pointed Stars Of David on top showing such solidarity. Do we get all this tourism because it’s gorgeous here? Well it is but America has a lot of gorgeous destinations. It’s also because it does the right thing. It learns from its lessons; is not influenced by politicians with ridiculous agendas, and makes lots and lots of money; much of it that would probably go to Ms (given the casinos and all that we don’t have). We don’t honor former Klan leaders here (though we have plenty). We consider them a part of our very dark history who came very close to bankrupting our dear state.
But you can’t stop the fear in tourists and their dollars by repeating history. And that does not mean “losing your religion”. It simply means taking off the “Sunday Go To Meeting” clothes when talking politics. Live it, for sure. Simply don’t preach it or try to make it law. Doesn’t work. Don’t believe me? Try it again in 2016 and you’ll see the same circus we’re seeing in 2012.
What surprises me is, after all we learned in school and real life growing up in MS that many are still towing the line of the far right. It nearly bankrupted us in the 60’s and it is about to do so again. Am I saying “then vote for Obama”? Far from it. Surely you can if that is your desire. To me he’s mediocre but nobody running is even close to being in his league and that is showing clearly in the polls.
Everyone in the other party is intent on taking away women’s rights. We, Mississippians know not to take rights away from groups of people better than anyone else. We learned our lesson, didn’t we? Sure, we have corrupt governors every now and then who try to bring it back, but always toward the end, those emperors have no clothes (or meds). They are not leading us into a good economy but backwards into the near-bankruptcy the 60s governors led us to.
If a President as mediocre as Obama’s numbers are ahead of the best of any Republican candidate, it’s time to look within. Why am I really voting for that particular candidate. Do I like him (or her). Does he or she share my beliefs? Someone who shared my religion (unless they were really good and understand what a President does, he/she would not get my vote. Why? Because they make all kind of promises before Election Day, and on that day, when elected, do everything possible to show they do not show favoritism to their own religion, and generally end up doing nothing for it. Well isn’t that what Thomas Jefferson was trying to accomplishment?
Not even close. He was attempting to have equal rights for everyone, no favoritism; not even to his own religion. He was just as keen on giving equal rights to everyone no matter what religion…or lack thereof.
Jefferson didn’t take the time to edit the Bible of his own religion for fun (with a razor blade); I’m told it took him several years to edit out every single miracle and still make it a congruous story. But he made it work and it was read in Congress daily for several centuries.
The bottom line. And to even mention it here is redundant. To take away any groups equal rights is Unconstitutional, and even worse, they make one’s party the laughing stock of America. And you see who is laughing at whom. It’s a terrible way to run a party. I predicted it as well and was chastised (as everyone tries to “kill the messenger”.
Listen fellow Mississippians. We’ve been through it (of taking rights away from groups). We know the consequences. Let the other states who don’t know the “glory of bankruptcy do it”. Let’s show them we are well into the 21st century. If they wish, they can suffer economically, educationally, emotionally, and spiritually for the next half century, just as we (Mississippians) have done but no longer have to do; that is, if we refuse to be intimidated by loud absurd politicians.
Of course we don’t have to. We can stay bankrupt and keep taking rights away by voting for candidates that “we just happen to like because “Uncle Otis” did. But of course don’t expect much tourism no matter how many TV ads BP runs. People simply won’t come. And tourism is by far the largest economy in America. Trust me when I tell you most are still frightened to come, for the same reason Jefferson was afraid Congress was going to take rights away from their constituents; and they would be right.
To say “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it” would be a bit redundant. Of course we remember the history that nearly bankrupted us…and why. The question is, are we brave enough to go against leaders trying to keep us in the dark ages for his/her own personal agenda.
It happened in Arkansas, now a very thriving state that was as bankrupt if not more so than MS in the middle 20th century. Is Arkansas that much smarter and braver than MS? That’s for you to answer. We learned in Arkansas; and I really don’t think we are that much smarter (or even smarter than Mississippians). We just happen to be aware that the “good old days” were anything but.
One final caveat. People who have read this whole blog should have a certain semblance of intelligence and I would venture to say most are more intelligent than me. If you have done so and are not speaking up, it is for a reason. Is it you might feel intimidated by your own political party to say something for which you strongly believe? And if that is the case, is that any way to live? Are you so used to it that you’ve “surrendered” to their status quo”. You can stop that now, and better, or Ms is in for another century of near-to-full blown bankruptcy. This does not mean one must become a liberal. Anything but. It simply means one can say, “I have some conservative views that are in agreement with you, and some that don’t, or even better, it’s none of their business” (even though in most their tiny minds that means you are “an enemy liberal”. Ironically, I’ve lived that most my adult life AS A CONSERVATIVE. LOL. But projecting that kind of intimidation to control others is the modus operandi of how people live Syria and Iran.
I encourage you to walk away and invite others who try this intimidation with you or (you simply can’t be a part of our inner circle if you think like anything else but us) to walk away and into the 21st century, because if not, I can promise you 2016 is going to be just like 2012, except the circus will be bigger and Ms will again be poorer and considered yet more dubious. Let’s expect such stupidity from northern and midwestern states who have never suffered the consequences of removing a groups civil rights, simply because they were born into a certain group. But not Mississippi. We’ve had our history and if we haven’t learned from it, God help us all. To make these very minor (but seem like major because of political peer pressure) may seem monumental but they are not. One does not have to give up being conservative nor Christian (or whatever your religion). One simply might try some behavior modification. Stop intimidating people into thinking if they don’t vote or believe like you that they are “less than”. Believe it or not, that kind of behavior bankrupts our state, morally, financially and spiritually. I used to cower to it. Now it empowers me and nobody, and I mean nobody will pull stunts like that on me. I love Mississippi way to much and have no agenda there except to hope and pray it grows, and is equally respected and visited as every other states are without transparent BP ads that “We ruined your Gulf but look how clean it looks. Come on back”. They are attractive. It would be great if people believed them. If they did, the hotels wouldn’t have to price their rooms 50% off and restaurants wouldn’t have to nearly give away their food. That’s another case of cowering to money. Don’t do it. Stand up to them. Tell them they stink for ruining our precious Gulf.
But you say, “Rick, that’s easy for you to say, you no longer live here. It’s our survival. It’s only your survival because they are intimidating into making you believe it is. Mississippi survived several centuries before BP arrived and with a much higher quality of life I may add. And to show you you’re way off base, Lee and I know people at WalMart (many) and we tell them, “Until you start increasing your organic and GMO-free foods, we’re going to Kroger (with HQ in Portland, Or); and Walmart is our economy here with HQ right down the road. But they don’t beat us up or intimidate us with it ala BP. They agreed and started making moves to improve their healthy food section. Even had the CEO appear on Fox, CNN and MSNBC saying so. They have done so to a certain degree but we’ve told them its not good enough. We’ve told them and they agree. We still buy our dry goods at Walmart as do many of our health-conscious friends, and, we know Walmart is at least trying (to compete with Kroger on healthy foods) and when they get it right, we’re coming back. But they know they are not going to intimidate us meantime into doing so; they are working hard on THEM, not US. Surely doesn’t remind anyone of BP, the “Fathers Of Intimidation”. Every Mississippian I know think they are “just fab”. I think they ruined my Gulf and people’s lives, health, economy etc. and I would have them in court every day, every year and until they left if I had to (and still lived there); not go along with their faux crooked PR campaign. My point is, nobody regardless of money or power can intimidate you or make you do anything. You have your own mind and you know what is right or wrong. Tell your best friend. Tell your boss, your minister, anyone if your conscious tells you something is right they are doing, or wrong. If you do, you are totally free, and in American that’s freedom is the keyword. Am I wrong?
But don’t believe me, believe Thomas Jefferson. He started the movement with his Jefferson Bible.
Finally, human nature is to kill the messenger and I expect some criticism. Perhaps nasty jabs and expect it. Many have not grown up and they will be blocked if they cannot debate civilly and with referenced footnotes. That is fine, and healthy, as long as you’ve learned something. I know I have. It is an enemy of Mississippi, America, the South or the far right who would discover what I’ve just written, and keep it secret. To not share it with you would be sinful. It would keep you in economic bondage that many years longer until perhaps you discovered it yourself; and maybe you would one day…but maybe not…. It is time to rethink politics, politicians and just what that all means. And it does not mean anything like what is happening in 2012. That I promise you. I encourage you NOT to “kill” not the messenger but the ones keeping this information from y0u, and beating you to a pulp like an early Saints game. And for those who don’t “get it”, I don’t mean literally “Kill” anyone (or do anything else unlawful) but to let them know, “I disagree, and my disagreement does not make me any less a good person. I will not be intimidated. I love my state (Mississippi), and you will not bring me or it down”. You will be surprised (at their surprise) and obvious fear in their face. I’ve seen it again and again, and the more you do it, the better you get at it, and the more they understand you mean business. And yes, you can still keep your religion and your politics. Simply keep them separate. It’s that simple, or so said Thomas Jefferson.
Rick London is an author, cartoonist, songwriter and designer. He founded Google’s #1 offbeat cartoon & funny gifts at RickLondonGifts.com in 1997 which has been Google’s number on rated. He also has shops that sell famous love quote gifts and famous wisdom quote gifts as well as app 1/4 million other designer gifts and collectibles all from his LTCartoons.com collection. He loves nature and hiking the Ouachita Mountains with his wife nature photographer Lee HillerLondon founder of HikeOurPlanet.com.