Friday, August 19, 2011


I have known fear.

I’m not just talking about the fear one has of snakes, or when spooked by a prankster in a Halloween mask, or the fear that releases a quart of adrenalin into your blood stream following a near miss head on collision. I’m talking about the unrelenting all encompassing fear that stays with you, unabated; a fear that life as you know it can / might / will change for the worse and there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it.

I experienced that kind of fear almost every day and night for a year when I was in Vietnam. I felt that fear when I was diagnosed with cancer. I felt it when we thought our hospitalized eldest son was going to die, and when my wife had an embolism. Fortunately all of those events turned out for the best.

Mrs. Hump tells me that I am a worry junkie - that worrying for me is like the pleasure one gets after they’ve been banging their head against a concrete wall for an hour feels so good when you stop. But, the fact is what I’m feeling right now goes much deeper than simple worry.

This morning’s poll results show Obama with a 26% approval rating, his lowest since his election. Fact is that even though I voted for him, and will again baring some unforeseeable sea change, I’m not terribly impressed with Obama’s performance myself. He has fallen way short of his pre-election rhetoric on a variety of issues. If polled I’m not sure I could give him my unqualified seal of approval either.

The darlings of the Teabaggers - Michele (“subservient to my husband/God speaks to me”) Bachmann, and Rick (“get down on your knees and pray to Jesus/ I was called by God to run”) Perry are now among the front runners in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Normally I’d shrug it off and say “typical GOP morons.” But this is different.

American’s are by and large stupid. Evidence for this abounds. :

  • The percentage of Americans who reject evolutionary theory is 59%, the highest percentage of evolution deniers among all 30+ Western nations except Turkey.

  • We have among the highest percentage of superstionalists of all the Western nations except Italy and Greece, with 65% saying religion is important to their daily lives.

  • The math and science test performance of US high school students versus other industrialized nations is abysmal with our high school graduates ranking 16th in science, 19th in math, out of 21 industrialized nations.

  • The willingness of so many Americans to equate degree of religiosity to patriotism and denial of the Wall of Separation admonishment of our founding fathers.

Taken as a whole its clear we are not a nation of “rocket surgeons.”

Combine that with a weak economy, high unemployment, growing national debt, and financial uncertainty among a populace that is largely accepting of intermingling religion with government in spite of the constitutional prohibition against it, and the mood of the mindless seems to be congealing into something resembling The Blob on steroids.

It’s the thing bad choices are made of. Choices that could have far reaching and long term implications for the nation - for proponents of a secular government; for proponents of real science in our school rooms; for proponents of equality regardless of ones sexual orientation; for proponents of merciful, dignified, civilized treatment of our least able citizens; for proponents of a woman’s right to retain control over her uterus; for proponents of war only as a last resort; for proponents of a nation of the People not of the Corporation.

I have known real fear. I’m scared now.


NewEnglandBob said...

Draft Hump for congress!

Hump for congress!

Hump for congress!

Momma Moonbat said...

I know the fear of which you speak. It's the fear that grips me every time the tornado sirens scream and the electricity goes out as we're hunkered down in the hallway as if to hide from the wrath of nature. It's the fear I had upon seeing my husband in the ICU after his open heart surgery. It's the fear I get every time some bagger natters off about Palin being what "Amurka" needs. I believe it was Orwell who commented something to the effect that creating anarchy makes enacting martial law easy. I believe that our current crop of right-winger office holders are deliberately trying to create anarchy, and I fear the martial law that they will reign down upon when they do.

LuWeeks said...

"The math and science test performance of US high school students versus other industrialized nations is abysmal with our high school graduates ranking 16th in science, 19th in math, out of 21 industrialized nations."

I bet the Xtians accept this. How can they, it might my just be a trick of statisticians.

Or do they celebrate less scientists coming down the pike?

But maybe that is just a conspiracy of statisticians to give the Xtians overconfidence.

Dromedary Hump said...

if nominated I will not run; if elected I will not serve.

No telling what I might do if I were to be confined in the same chambers as two-thirds of the asshats in congress.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure whether I am more afraid because of the terrible policies such a result would portend or because I am not sure how much if their inane swill I can stand even hearing -- the analogue to nails on a chalkboard.

anttix said...

All is not lost; The Tea Party is less popular in the US than Muslims and Atheists:

steve-o-reno said...

Those are some very scary statistics. That's why it's vitally important to have voices of reason and sanity like yours. Don't get scared - stay mad. You're really good at it and we need that. Stay strong!

steve-o-reno said...

Those are some very scary statistics. We live in a state with the 48 lowest high school graduation in the U.S. Where? Why Texas of course. It's vitally important to have voices of reason and sanity like yours. Don't get scared - stay mad. You're really good at it and we need that. Stay strong!

Anonymous said...

Economic conditions usually determine the sucess of the sitting president when it comes to reelection... and it does seem very poor for Obama.

- Fastthumbs

Sue said...

Me too, Hump. Me too.

longhorn believer said...

Steve said get mad. I agree, but we all need to get mad. The Tea Party has had their turn. We need reasonable people who are sane enough not to get mad too often to come together and let the Teavangelists know that there is a significant portion of the electorate that disagrees with them- disagrees and plans on doing whatever we can to defeat them. We need to get involved, support the candidates who are rational, campaign, and speak out. We can't afford to sit on the sidelines, and we need to encourage others not to sit either

Elizabeth said...


I'm a high school English teacher (38 years) in an "average" middle-class high school in a suburb in Washington State. I have 11th graders for American Lit and 12th graders for Shakespeare, ages 17-1.

With the onset of "texting" (a 24/7 addiction for most middle school and high school kids), things have really changed. Even if we as kids weren't interested in politics or the 'news,' and didn't read newspapers, our parents did and we still HEARD PARENTS talking about current events AT THE DINNER TABLE. (That is NO MORE. Kids tell me they 'never' or 'rarely' eat with a parent.) We would hear squibs of news/politics on commercial TV or radio, breaking into shows we watched/listened to. Kids don't have that today - they are 'plugged in' to their MP-3 players and Shuffles and IPods or playing with their phones and texting all day and night. (Underneath the desktops during school-time whenever possible.) Many kids now have sweatshirt hoodies with the earphone wiring INSIDE, so, with the hood up, no one knows they are actually listening to rap the whole time. About 5 years ago, my 9th graders (homeroom) told me that they have their phones by their EARS all night long, so they know when anyone has left a message/updated their Facebook page or texted them . . . explaining why these kids can't stay awake in class anymore. No wonder - Imagine being awakened 50 times every night?!

Last year in NOVEMBER near the mid-term 2010 elections, I was trying to explain the idea of "satire," prior to teaching Washington Irving's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow." I said that one can satirize or ridicule in a humorous way individual people, groups of people, and people's ideas, but not non-human objects (tables, horses,etc.) I gave examples from SNL and Jon Stewart's Daily Show, and South Park and The Simpsons, and said that one could satirize Barack Obama or George W. Bush or Paris Hilton, or one could satirize the Republicans, the Democrats, or the Tea Party.

A boy in Period 2 asked me: "What's the Tea Party?"
I said, "Well we've just had the mid-term elections. Does anyone know what I mean by the term "Tea Party?" A couple kids guessed: "Wasn't that in Boston?" NO one in Period 2 (34 teenagers) could accurately tell me what the term meant. By the next class period, I had a "half-sheet form," made up with the definition of satire on it at the top, and the three names above and the terms "Democrats" and "Tea Party," just asking them to tell me what or who each group was. Out of nearly 200 that day, only 4 kids (2%) could accurately describe the modern day Tea Party -- even to the generalization level of "a political party voting recently."

When it's this bad in an "average" middle-class high school, I don't have a lot of hope for the future. It's not just our math and science scores that are low in comparison to other countries. I know, I know, Socrates complained about the younger generation thousands of years ago -- but I see a real "sea change" in society's younger generations in the past several years. The movie Idiocracy is going to be truth, not satire, soon!


David said...

Although I grew up in Australia and not the USA, I think back to my secular childhood in the 80s and 90s, and recall that there was no mention of religion in the state schools I went to, no school chaplains and we were taught about evolution, natural selection and how to use condoms. I seem to recall little acknowlegment of radical right wing religionists in the news. In a lot of ways I think the radical religious right wing have become much more vocal since then, perhaps because they were losing the battle. Now, it seems that every second politician has a Xtian bias and Xtian lobby groups bombard the news like the media sluts they are. I fear that we are entering a dark age of radical right wing religionism and the work that we have done to help make our schools and parliament secular is being undone.

tiNstAg said...

I truly believe there are very dark days ahead. The 2 party system is largely to blame; needing hundreds of millions of $ to waste on advertising means you have to sell your morals down the river, and that means playing the odds and trying to pick up all the idiot votes.
This at least partly explains the spineless nature of politicians who are terrified of not being associated with the Xtian fundamentalists.

Anyhow, with any luck the cretinist rantings of those Church Inc. puppets Bachmann and Rick will eventually be seen for what they are but I agree with you, it looks like 2012 is gonna be one frightening year.

In the long run I would love to live long enough to see an atheist President who NEVER attends any religious service, and collects back-taxes from Church Inc. to pay for schools and hospitals but in reality I know this is only a pipe dream.

Atemis Ward said...

Elizabeth, that is truly scary information you have passed on. No wonder Hump is afraid

David, I think the religious right was just coming to power during your time in school. Read any of Frank Shaeffer's books, or listen to the recent podcast featuring him. His dad, Francis Shaeffer was the father of the modern day fundamentalist religious right. Frank has become an extremely outspoken voice against what his father did. We need Frank and a lot of other people on that bandwagon exposing this group for what they are.

Shaw Kenawe said...

"This morning’s poll results show Obama with a 26% approval rating, his lowest since his election."

Hump, I believe that number is Obama's approval rating on the US economy.

He's at about 40% overall.

Not good either.

FAUX NOOZ's influence on the public and the average American's inability to engage in critical thinking is what I fear.

Dromedary Hump said...

Yea, mthanks. It depends on what poll / index one goes by. The computation methodology differs.
I was going by the Rasmussen index and following their method should have reported it as -26, not 26%.

Jeff said...

As an Australian I have been dissapointed in Obama. I think the rest of the world held out such hope for him after the Bush years. I feel sorry that he had the Global financial crisis really stifle any chance of Obama doing very much in his first term.
Its scares me when I watch the news in Australia and see the religious right hijacking so much of the public debate in America. To see the vitriol and hatred of the religious right to the moderates and the left wing in American politics cant auger well for the future of a secular political system in the states.

Anonymous said...

I too was elated when Obama got elected. I truly believed in his message, but "hope and change" has turned out to be disappointment and same old, same old. The gigantic deficit inherited by Bush, in addition to the republican controlled congress certainly contributes to his lack of success. I will vote for Obama in 2012 only because the alternative will be far worse.

The virulent hate, stupidity and religiosity now displayed by the republicans seems to be at an all-time high. Bipartisanship has never been more extreme.

Republicans latch on to any candidate, (Trump?? Bachmann?? PLEASE!!) and then drop them like a bad habit when someone new enters the race. Now another religious yokel from Texas is a front-runner. *groan*

I too fear that Obama will not gain enough support to beat the tidal wave of highly-motivated republicans in 2012. If someone like a Perry gets in, you can be sure it'll be Bush all over again - only 100 times worse...especially for us Atheists.