Monday, April 21, 2014

This Week's Rant.

Ok, it's been a busy last week and weekend.  Lots of meatspace stuff going on, so I didn't get much chance to write much, but I'm back!  (Hey!  Stop that!  That tomato was rotten!  Make it fresher next time...)


One of the things online this weekend that caught my attention was a couple of posts on Facebook.  I am not going to put names out there on this, I don't want to start a flame war or be seen as calling someone out.

But the posts were links to copies of tweets that a female atheist figure put out there - a fair amount of time ago, from what I saw.  The tweets had to do with members of the military who were harassing her online.  The poster was accusing her of (and one of the tweets mentioned this) contacting the Commanding Officer of a service member she said was harassing her.

I got involved because I just HATE seeing comment threads in posts like that (and this one was rife with some really nasty stuff) calling the female atheists involved some pretty bad names, telling them that they deserved to be raped, anally and elsewhere, and other pretty terrible things.

Shades, in other words, of Elevatorgate.

You remember Elevatorgate, where Rebecca Watson mentioned in passing (five minutes worth of mention) in a speech she was giving at a major atheism convention that guys shouldn't corner women in elevators in the wee hours of the morning, asking if they want to come up to their rooms.  That such situations (where a woman has no retreat) make them uncomfortable and isn't likely to get you laid for that reason.  A pretty minor aside, really.

Shortly thereafter, Dawkins made a reference belittling her comments, and the blogosphere exploded with some of the nastiest, vilest and most disgusting comments about Rebecca along the lines of what I mentioned above - only worse.

She has been followed around the web ever since by some of those dogs ... er ...trolls, and the abuse just doesn't stop.

The worse part of it is that the campaign has spread to include just about any other major atheist figure that dares to speak up about it in support of those being abused.

This weekend was a continuation of that, and to illustrate how bad it is, the woman involved (diagnosed with PTSD as a result of online bullying and harassment) has signed up with a group who is fundraising for the treatment of civilian victims of PTSD, and the harassment has followed her to her fundraising page!

Let me make my position clear.

In any situation where a person finds him/herself stopping on a webpage of any kind and disagreeing with the positions, attitudes or conclusions expressed by the writer of that page/post, it is incumbent upon the commenter to keep the comments he/she makes on point, germane to the issue, and civil.  At no time is it proper (or productive) to engage in an ad hominem attack on the writer based on his/her sex, perceived sexual orientation, race, age, nationality, religious belief, or for that matter, any other personal characteristic that isn't involved in or part of the written subject being commented on.

In particular, it is reprehensible, inhumane, disgusting, improper, anti-social, despicable, heinous, repellent, (ain't thesauruses wonderful?) unacceptable, and just plain mean to use threats, declarations of a person's "needing" to be raped, or any other violently descriptive comment in an effort to harass or bully that person into shutting up.

If you can't successfully argue your point, and the other person has brought your argument to a halt due to a lack of enough evidence to prove your point - you lose.  At this point, go home.  Quit, give up.  You don't have to do it gracefully (although that IS something that shows better character), but you should at least stop at that point.

Continuing on to a personal attack because you cannot bring the discussion to a personally satisfying conclusion is not the way to win an argument.

Beyond that, commenting on a page for the SOLE PURPOSE of harassing, attacking, and bullying is just anti-social behavior that sucks big time.  It is wrong, bad and just plain mean.

It means that you are a troll, and the worst kind at that.

Go away.

To the rest of you out there who are not such trolls, don't look away.  Don't shudder at the profanity and click on by.  Stop, read and comment, even if it is only to tell the trolls to shut up.  The more of us do that, the fewer trolls will exhibit this behavior.  They do it because it is rewarding, and it is rewarding because they are encouraged by others who either join in or encourage it by REPOSTING comment threads containing that kind of harassment!

Let's all work together to help make as many online places as we can unfriendly to harassment and bullying.  Call it out!  Make them see that it is a disgusting and disliked behavior.

Then, maybe we can all have a better online experience.   Plus, the trolls won't be making the rest of the atheist movement look like a bunch of hypocrites.  If we are going to criticize religions for misogynistic attitudes and practices, we should not tolerate such behavior among those we call allies.

...and I don't!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Nevada is not the new Concord or Lexington.

Everybody's talking about that rancher in Nevada, whose name I will not repeat, just to avoid giving him any more notoriety.

The guys I want to talk about are the militia nuts who came from other States to support him, and the political theories they are espousing in that support.

Now, these militia folk are real big on the Second Amendment.  They've gotten some support from SCOTUS in their contention that an individual has a right to bear arms for his or her own purposes, which were outlined as protection, hunting or recreation.  I've read that ruling, and a remarkable omission I've noticed is any mention of armed insurrection against the United States Government!  I'd guess that the Supreme Court Justices are kinda opposed to a group of angry, armed citizens bursting into their courtroom disturbing the proceedings.  I mean, a guy stood up - unarmed, I might add - and disrupted things a while back and got whacked with time served for contempt of court.  Plus banned from the court grounds for a period of time, like 90 days or something.  I'd bet adding guns to that mix might increase your chances of a longer jail time somewhere like Ft. Leavenworth in sunny Kansas, instead of a local jail in D.C.!!

In short, those milita nuts are, as usual, getting things mixed up.

Our founding documents include two very famous items - the Declaration of Independance and the Constitution of the United States of America.  (I'm gonna give the Articles of Confederation a pass here, since we dumped that one as unworkable after fewer than a dozen years.  So much for States' Rights.)

The militias like to expound on our Second Amendment rights, which they claim give us the right to defend ourselves against an unjust and oppressive government.  They use our Revolution as proof that not only is that why the Founders guaranteed us the right to bear arms, but why success is possible, if not a forgone conclusion.

But, hold yer horses a moment, pardner!  Her puttin' the cart waaaay before the horse here.

The Constitution came later.  First, came the Declaration of Independance.  It was a document that outlined the intent and goal of our revolution and our reasons for revolting against what we acknowledged as the rightful ruler of the America's colonies - the British Crown.  It noted, among other things, our repeated attempts to correct what we saw as intolerable obstructions of our freedoms as British subjects, resulting in our resolve to simply renounce our allegiance to the Crown and set up our own government.

It was a declaration of our intent to revolt and overturn the rightful governing entity of The Colonies, the colonial governors appointed by the British Monarch, King George.

What modern Second Amendment supporters ignore is expressed in that famous cry by a man the British hung for his disloyalty to the Crown, "Give me Liberty, or give me death!"  What he got was death.  They hung his ass about two minutes after he said that.

Which illustrates one thing about that Declaration we rarely note today - one may have the RIGHT to make revolution against an oppressive government - that right does not guarantee you freedom from the consequences of that revolutionary activity.

Another famous quote, this one by a survivor of the Revolution, Ben Franklin, is where he noted the wisdom of "hanging together, lest we hang separately!"  Meaning that our Founders were VERY aware of the consequences of their actions!

Bringing us to Nevada.

The "militia" groups coming to the defense of a man who is in defiance of the law legally promulgated by the Congress and signed by a famous Republican President are very vocal about how they are so bravely defending our freedoms (while one of their members suggests using women and children as shields) but forget conveniently that such actions do have consequences.

Fortunately for them, in this case, the government agency acting (again, legally in this case) to enforce court orders the mooching rancher lost was wise enough to defuse the situation instead of trying to arrest people it had every right to move against.

The next time, it may not be so lenient.

Taking up arms against your government may be your right, but the Constitution you so vociferously seem to worship also gives your government the right to shoot your silly ass for doing it!

You are not patriots, you are insurrectionists, and insurrectionists are fighting a government I spent over forty years supporting, defending and working for.  You do not have my respect, nor do you have my support.

You are defending a man who is a member of the top probably 2% of the wealthy of this country, and you are defending him for breaking the law and literally stealing from your government.  His interests are not yours, nor does he give a shit about you.  He will sit comfortably in his living room, watching your sorry asses get shot off on TV, while he and his lawyer disassociate themselves from you so they don't get legally involved with your ill-advised insurrection.

That is, if the government isn't so lenient on your undeserving butt the next time.

The more likely event will be that the BLM will wait till this blows over, and quietly round up his cattle the next time without the media attention and without prior notice, while waiting to jail his ass when he tries to stop them himself.

Thereby saving you from yourself.

Insurrection ain't pretty.  Revolutions are expensive, and require that a very substantial percentage of the population support you.  A majority of the American people do not support the modern milita movement, they are considered crazy gun nuts.

Most of us support the government blowing their silly butts away the next time.  It's a shame they don't understand that Americans do NOT admire men who use women and children as human shields.

Instead, we despise them, and consider them to be the cowards they are.  Believe me, there will never be a USS Bundy like there was a USS Lexington.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Two income families should be terrified of the Republican Party!

Why would I say that?  Why, when a fair percentage of those families are themselves supporters of the Republican Party?

I say it because the result of the Republicans' War on Women ongoing as we speak will inevitably result in the loss of women's rights.

All of them.

I kid you not.  Currently, Republicans are rapidly destroying the Supreme Court-assured rights to abortion.  While the Government sits by and does nothing.

They are talking about destroying your rights to contraception.  They are talking about destroying your rights to employer provided health care insurance.

They are fighting, tooth and nail, the push to ensure the rights of women to equal pay for equal work.

It is a small step from that to forcing women to stay home and from there to destroying your rights to even owning property.

Back to the eighteenth century, when a women could not own property, could not vote, could not (except for certain highly restricted jobs) work outside of the home, even if alone and single with no family.  You were forced to be the ward of either family members who were male or a ward of the state, who could take your property and force you to live anywhere, even on the streets.

All of this with no regard for any children she may be responsible for, male or female.

Have you ever seen Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol"?  Remember the abject poverty depicted there?  Just about any story of the country of England from the advent of the Industrial revolution until early in the 20th century will show some aspect of that country's poverty-stricken lower classes.

People living on the streets with no shelter, no income, rags for clothing, living in a city and country in which there were few of any soup kitchens, or free shelters, or health care of any kind.

Pretty much like many American cities of today, in fact, with the major difference that there does exist, until now, some forms of government provided assistance intended to keep families off the streets.  At least until the Republicans get themselves elected to a majority of the Senate to match their control of the House and put a Republican puppet of the Oligarchs in the White House.

At which time any assistance programs will cease to exist, public education will no longer be provided, consumer protection of any kind will be gutted if not destroyed, and any control by the government of any activity taken by Corporations will either cease to be effective, or will be ended altogether.

It won't take long before women will be prevented from working at all, and families that depend on their income will find themselves on the streets in very short order, their property taken, their ability to work completely destroyed.

Don't ask what that will do to single women, married lesbian couples or even widows.

I know this paints a terrifying picture, and a lot of folks will take one look and exclaim, "That can't happen here!"

But it can.  I never thought that a woman would be brought up on murder charges for having a miscarriage, but it has happened.  I never thought that a woman who simply fired a warning shot (in a "Stand Your Ground State!) would get tried for attempted murder and threatened with 60 years in prison, but that trial is ongoing as we speak.

How far could we be from complete destruction of every progressive advance in civilized legal rights this country has seen since 1776?  It isn't as far as you'd think, should Republicans win control of our government.

I mean, look at Louisiana - which has advanced a bill to make the Bible the STATE BOOK.

In complete defiance of the Constitution, as written.

Do you think for a moment that they would pay any attention to the rest of that document once they win control?

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Take the dare.

I have a question I've asked Christians online for a number of years now.  I'm going to pose it to you, my gentle readers, again, below.  But first, a bit of background.

There are, according to Wikipedia, over 41,000 different denominations of Christianity.

Considering that the one original source of all we know about that religion is a single compilation of documents (The Bible), one could say that this number is pretty incredible, since the Bible is supposed to be the Word of God.  You'd think the Creator Of All There Is could at least provide an single easily discerned set of instructions for what he wants us to know about him and how he expects us to behave, wouldn't you?

I think, when the Catholic Church got its chance at fame and fortune upon its selection by Constantine as the one and only State Religion for the Roman Empire, that was probably the general idea.  The way they started off eliminating everything that smacked of "pagan" religions (the former State Religions worshiping Zeus & Company), you'd think they seemed a bit serious about that!

But as such things usually are, it wasn't quite that simple.

There were churches in Alexandria, Egypt that didn't answer to the infant church's call, as well as in Eastern Europe, Turkey and other parts east.  As the nascent RCC compiled documents in readiness for canonization into what would become the bible, these other churches were doing the same thing.

The result was, essentially, more than one version of the bible.  Some had more books, some had fewer, and no two had the same list.

The result was a miss-mash of belief and theology that has never been resolved to this day.

Some denominations hold that salvation is by the Grace of God.  Others by Good Works.  Others hold out for a combination, and at least one major group insists on Predestination.

All from what is supposed to be ONE book.  Or, more correctly, one compilation of documents.

The Bible was supposed to be the one place to go to standardize Christian belief.  All doctrine and theology stems from that compilation - supposedly.  Originally, the bible, as canonized, was printed in Latin.  Priests were taught Latin, and it was also used as a message cypher.  It was, at one time, illegal and against church law to translate it to any local languages.  The Mass was spoken in Latin.

Priests were there to interpret the Scripture for their flocks, to tell them what it meant, and what they were to believe.  It was all very authoritarian, for a number of centuries.

Thus was born Theology, to settle, within the church, just what that message was to be, so the myriads of priests would have a standard message so things wouldn't get mixed up.  Of course, as such things do, it became a major career within the church, as after a few hundred years, all of the stuff written got so voluminous it took decades to learn it all and become an expert in church theology.

Talk about job security!

Of course, the Reformation came along, and Protestantism flourished, as did Theology.  Lots and lots of churchmen had to flesh out the NEW theology, and a lack of authority from Rome meant that people were free (within bounds for a while) to think up their OWN interpretation of the Bible's message.

Now, in the United States, we have the Constitution, which guarantees every person the right to worship as he/she wishes.  Which is why we now have over 41,000 different flavors of just Christianity alone.  Every Tom, Dick, and Harriett can start his/her own church based on what their interpretation of just a single verse of the bible might be.

Confusing, huh?

So, let's keep it simple.  Let's toss out eighteen hundred years of Theology and start over.

YOU are the guy responsible for sorting out the many and varied documents used at one time or another by all the churches within your sect's area of authority into some form of a compilation in order to standardize the teachings and doctrine of your church.  So your priests can have a simple, easily articulated message for a simple, uneducated flock all over Europe.

The documents you have are all over two hundred and fifty years old.  Nobody alive has ever spoken to or read anything by a witness to Christ's life or death.  With a few exceptions, most of the documents you've got were written by different authors, at different times, often as far apart as two hundred years in time, and geographically diverse as well.  Different audiences, different goals, different attitudes about Christ and his message.  None of them are known to you, although a few do claim to be written by a named author.  Most are not notated for authorship.

All of them are claimed by the churches who use them to be authentically authored by early church fathers, and have a reputation for being the documents that informed and helped found those churches.  So, politically, you cannot ignore many of them.  Others are considered sacred by your own group, so your bosses insist on the inclusion of quite a few.

What do you do?  You examine the documents and for many, you've got to punt - they contain stuff intolerable to your group.   So out they go.

Others may have contradictory stuff in them, but you cannot ignore the people who support them, so in they go.

In the end, you have your compilation.  Nobody's happy with it, but it satisfies enough so that when the Council sits in judgement of your work, it is accepted, canonized, and made the Holy Writ of the church of God.

Fast forward over a thousand years.

NOW you are one of a group of people who have rebelled against the RCC, and now your job is to examine that book and differentiate your group from the RCC.

Here's the question;

By what criteria do you decide?  

What do you accept as authentically the word of God and what can you safely ignore?  There has to be some measure by which you will examine that compilation of documents, verse by verse, and make a decision as to which verses are a good guide to your flocks and which are not.

How do you know?

Good Works?  Grace of God?  Predestination?

Do you accept the long ending of Mark from which the Snake Handlers of Appalachia get their inspiration?  Or is it something that can be safely ignored?

Will your denomination focus on Jesus' loving message of helping the poor, or will you instead focus on the verses that intreat you to be God's Warriors?  Will you hate the Gays, or just overlook that unfortunate couple of passages, since they are in the Old Testament?

How.  Do.  You.  Know?

Think about that.  This is important if you subscribe to the doctrine that people have souls that are immortal.  Upon your decision will rest the fate of not only every member of your flock (as well as yourself and your family) but every member of your flock for centuries to come!  Your decision will impact where their souls will go - to heaven or hell?

This is not an easy decision.  At one time or another, over 41,000 people have gone through that same process and made their decisions, resulting in at least that many denominations with often quite different interpretations of the Bible, which by now has as many translations as Carter has little liver pills.

Additionally, now that the Internet is here, and millions of people are now simply looking at that same book and just walking away, you are no longer bound by a doctrinally authoritarian religious order which can burn you at the stake for being a heretic.

You can, in short, read that book and make up your own mind what is right and what is not.

So, here's the same question to you.

How do YOU know?  Today, right now.  What is it, to you that makes one verse doctrinal and another one not?  IS it an abomination to be gay?  Has God already made up his mind who is going to heaven and who isn't? (Predetermination.)  Or do you have to be of Good Works to make it into heaven?  Or maybe just by the Grace of God you'll get to go?

How.  Do.  You.  Know?

Have you even read the whole bible?  I don't mean the parts your church leaders would have you read, but ALL of it?  You'll have to, if you mean to be an informed Christian.  and don't cheat.  Put away the study guides that tell you what stuff means.

Figure it out for yourself.  Pretend you are the guys deciding what goes in and what doesn't.  Decide on your own criteria, and not some mumbo-jumbo theology stuff coming out of some guidebook.

This is YOUR soul, if such exists, and it is your responsibility to see that you do your religion right.

Not some theologian's.  He's not the one going to hell if he gets it wrong.

You will.

Unless, of course, you end up seeing through the endless contradictions, mistakes and outright outdated material and decide that none of it makes any sense.  Millions of us already have, and many of us did it by reading the bible.

Take the dare.  After all, even if the bible is right, you still only get one chance down here.

Monday, April 07, 2014

It's enough to make a grownup cry.

There are some famous (or infamous, if you please) names associated with cults in this country.

Charles Manson.  David Koresh.  Jim Jones.  I'm sure I could Google that and come up with a dozen more if I wished.  All of them dangerous, all of them, once exposed, horrified the average citizen with what a cult could make a perfectly normal person do once under the influence of the cult's leader.  They made us wonder why people would put up with the things they were forced to do.  In fact, many of the people once under the influence of a cult would tell you they were seldom actually forced to do anything, but did what they were expected to do voluntarily.

There are studies that explain the psychological reasons why people do those things and fall under the influence of cult leaders.  I'm sure they are mostly done well and are most probably adequately peer reviewed, too.

But I've got another point of view.

You'll notice that most cults are religious in nature - that is, they begin as a group that seems to worship in accordance with an established religion - or at least one that has an attraction to a certain kind of person.  Some are often counter-cultural.

Some are nationalistic.  Take North Korea, for instance.  There, an entire family has been the subject of what has become a religion.

First, a disclaimer.  I am NOT a Sociologist.  I'm not a psychiatrist nor a psychologist.  This is merely my opinion, and not the result of any professional study or theories.

Got it?  Just my not-so-humble opinion.  (Hey, I'm a blogger - we don't DO humble!)

It's religion.

A majority of people across this wide wonderful world we have profess a belief in one religion or another.  Christianity, Islam, Judaism.  Hinduism.  Jainism.  Buddhism.  There are thousands of local versions of these and other, older religions held by indigenous people all over the globe.  I'm sure I missed a hundred other 'minor' religions too.  There's a web site that professes to list as many gods as we can claim to know about, including those historically known but no longer worshipped.  Some eight thousand, the last time I looked.

Every single one has one thing in common with all the others.  They all are included in a theology that includes elements which one can only confirm by dying.  Which, as we all know, is a one way street.  Or, well, MOST of us know that - some folks have a belief that one can go around multiple times.

With, I might add, not much proof.

Which, in the greater scheme of things, makes a belief in the supernatural a perfectly normal state of mind.

Think about that.  No matter what you, personally, believe, there is a very large chunk of humanity that, in your mind, believes in superstitious bunk.  Richard Dawkins has a point he makes about that.  He notes, fairly accurately, I think, that the only difference between a religious believer and an atheist is the belief in just one god.

To those of us who are atheist, the rest of you are delusional, to be moderately nice about it.

To you, WE are the delusional ones, even worse than the other folks who believe in the wrong god.

Which, in the greater scheme of things, means that your belief, and the propensity of every other theist on this Earth, allows the very dangerous cultists to exist under the protective coloration of religion. Since they profess to have actually founded a religion, at least in this country, they are allowed to be protected and can operate with the protection of the law, so long as they do not violate weapons laws or something similar.

Even if they coerce their members to give their possessions to the cult.  Even if they are coerced by the cult to give up even their women to the leader to do with as he wishes.  Even if their daily practices are bizarre and strange and psychotic, as long as they don't stray into illegal territory like child molestation or stockpiling illegal weapons, they will get away with it.

Because, you see, religion is NORMAL.  To believe in a supernatural being, no matter how strange in its demands upon its adherents, no matter how bizarre its rituals, somehow, simply the fact that it is tagged a religion puts it Off Limits to scrutiny or criticism.

Yes, I know, all those others are kooks.  And the ones of your religion who are more extremist or more liberal aren't TRUE members of your religion, are they?

If that's your attitude, Google the phrase "No True Scotsman".  Here, I'll do it for you!

That brings back 4,200,000 results.  Go read some of it, the first is, predictably, Wikipedia.

As a defense that is, frankly, bullshit.  Exactly the same thing can be said about YOU by the other guy, because HE interprets your holy scriptures differently, and in HIS mind, it is YOU that is crazy and reading it all wrong.

To me, you are both crazy.

You are because your belief in a supernatural being (no matter how real to you) allows every other normal human being to engage in the same exercise, with predictably different results that allow them to claim everybody else is the crazy one.

And everybody thinks this is normal.

The truly sad thing is that it IS normal.  To think that over six billion human beings see as normal that one can believe in a non-material, invisible being who can, nevertheless, affect the normal material world, and can, if enough devotion is displayed, be persuaded by the prayers of billions of us to do a trillion contradictory things.

All at once.

This species has a lot of growing up to do.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Whose line is it, anyway? (The streetlight!!)

Ok, ok, this isn't a post about streetlights.  Mostly.  Well, it starts out with a streetlight.

Some of you may remember my youngest Cyberdaughter of Poopsoap fame.  You know, guest post from last year?  Cat - poop - soap?  It was called Passing Through Gethsemane.

Well,  It seems that a while back a streetlight in front of her apartment went out.  Dark, dead.  Every time she left, she groused about the stupid streetlight being out, but figured that somebody else would call.  But as the days passed, it didn't get fixed.  So, she asked a neighbor if he'd called.

Nope, he hadn't.  So, they groused some more and it still didn't get fixed.  So, she asked another neighbor (there were four apartments affected by the darkness) and no, they hadn't called either.

So, finally, she bugged the first neighbor, who agreed to call.  Nothing, it remained dark.  So, she bugged another neighbor, who also agreed to call.

Still nothing.

So, she bugged another one, who called, and lo and behold, the next day, it got fixed.

No, she never called it in herself.  It may have taken three out of the four apartments to call for repairs in order for it to get fixed, but nobody called until they talked to each other and realized that NOBODY had called, and for two weeks, this light remained dark because all four of them thought somebody else would call.

So, that begs the question - whose line is it, anyway?  Whose JOB is it?


It's yours.  It's mine.  It's all of us.  Everybody.

This country is founded - the government is organized - around a Constitution.  That document is an agreement.  An agreement between every citizen of this country about how to organize and empower a government to carry out those functions that we all can agree should be carried out by that entity.  It is provided with an amendment process so that each generation can change aspects of that document that have become dated, or unnecessary or simply unable to meet expectations for the new times and culture in which that generation finds itself.  Or, additions to deal with new conditions or technology that changes our culture and our lives.

Like streetlights.

Our Founders even said that was the intent.  They EXPECTED us to make those changes when we think it is needed.  They expected us to get involved in politics to show our elected legislators how we want this country run.

But that takes organizing.  It takes people who are willing to step up and get involved.  People who will take responsibility.

Like in the streetlight story, somebody has to make the call.  We can't all sit around on our collective asses and wait for somebody else to do it.  We can't, because if we do, the person who does may not have the same ideas as us about how to approach the new problems or may have the intent to change something we thought had already been settled - like women's rights.  Or contraception.

Or even the right to protest.

National polls and studies have shown that the demographics of this country are undergoing a huge change.  America is getting more liberal in its thinking.  The way marriage equality has advanced is a good example of that in action.

But you wouldn't know it by the results of the 2010 mid-term elections.  Republicans turned out in sufficient numbers to gain control of the House and pare down the majority enjoyed by Democrats in the Senate.  Republicans enjoyed massive gains all across the US at the State level, and have been using those gains ever since to wage a literal legislative war on women's rights and the rights of both minorities and women at the ballot box.

They did it because the Democratic base stayed home.  Nobody made the call.  We all assumed somebody else had our backs, and we got absolutely steamrolled by a more organized right wing.

If each of us don't stand up, register to vote, and actually Go TO THE POLLS and vote, it'll happen again in 2014 and again in 2016.

EVERY vote counts.  Yours, mine, your neighbor's, your grandmother's, as well as the nasty asshole down the street.  There have been Presidential elections in the past which turned on just a few votes in a few precincts in just one or two States.  History, as a result, rested on how just a few Americans voted.

Will Republicans be able to regain control of the Senate and the White House if YOU sit on your ass at home and don't vote?  It could very easily happen.

Check the law in your State.  Make sure that you are properly registered to vote.  Be sure that if your State is one of the Republican dominated ones that enacted laws requiring an ID and (like Texas) require that ID to match the name on your voter registration card, BE SURE that it does.  If it doesn't, take steps to ensure that you have corrected that problem before the election.

Then, on election day, get out there and vote.  Stand in line, and do so for as long as it takes.  Make sure that you follow the rules so that your ballot isn't spoiled or incorrectly filled out and it will count.  In short, be an informed and active citizen who is aware of the issues and is ready to actively participate in the electoral process in your city and State as well as nationally.

Remember, as Robert Heinlein noted through one of his characters, there may not be anyone on the ballot you want to vote FOR, but most assuredly, there will be someone or something you want to vote AGAINST.  If you don't vote, you've got no reason to bitch about the results.

Just get out there and make that vote count.  I damn sure will.