In Case You Weren't Convinced Yet That Koch Industries Is Evil...

Freed by the Citizens United case, which granted free speech rights to corporations (in related news, I've figured out what I want to be when I grow up!  A corporation.  I wouldn't have to pay taxes, the government would listen to me, I could get bailed out...yeah, life as a corporation sounds pretty good.), Koch Industries has begun politically proselytizing its employees.  A mailer was sent to the home addresses of all their U.S. employees this past fall, right before the election, containing a list of 19 Koch-approved candidates (16 Republicans and 3 "Blue Dog" Democrats, and a mix between state-level and national candidates) and urging employees to vote for those candidates.  Padded out with 14 pages of teabagger propaganda masquerading as economic theory and history lessons (did you know that FDR and the New Deal *prolonged* the Great Depression?  Me neither.  Probably because it's manifestly untrue revisionist history.), the whole thing has an ominous feel of "We're not saying you have to vote our way, but..."  Somehow I don't imagine anyone who complained about being told how to vote would have a job for long, y'know?

I don't even know what to say anymore.  Talk about a hostile workplace.  My sympathies to those employees who feel they have no choice but take this blatant political pressure quietly, or lose their jobs.

Texas' Rick Perry: Governor, or Priest?

Given the proclamation he's just issued, either he's not sure himself, or he's desperately misinformed about what elected leaders are supposed to do in a crisis.

Pop quiz!  When your state is in a long drought that's causing terrible fires and having bad effects on crops and livestock, what are appropriate responses a governor could undertake?

A:  Declare a state of emergency
B:  Redirect funds to additional firefighting equipment/personnel
C:  Ask for help from the federal goverment
D:  Issue an official proclamation declaring a three-day period as "Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas"

If you answered some combination of A, B, and C (or other paths of material help that I didn't think of), pat yourself on the back!  If you answered D, you're either Rick Perry, or just as deeply confused about appropriate uses of elected office.

Here's a hint for those who picked D: there is no appropriate place in the secular government of a highly diverse nation (or state) for proclamations, or declarations, or whatever the hell else, promoting religious practice.  Prayer, in case you're still confused, is a religious practice.  And even if you slip in the little "citizens of all faiths and traditions" line to try to make it less sectarian, you're still privileging belief over nonbelief.  This is, for obvious reasons, Not Okay.

Is it too much to hope that I might see an end to government promotion of religiosity in this country, in my lifetime?

Look, I get the desperation of long drought and bad wildfires.  I'm Californian born and raised.  As I used to joke with friends from other parts of the country about the difference in seasons from one place to another, "Sure, California has seasons.  Fire season and water season."  I live in a state in which fireworks are mostly banned because of the regular fire danger during the summer.  My family adopted a dog that had come to a rescue organization during the really nasty fire season in SoCal five years ago or so, when she quite literally just came trotting out of the burning areas alone as if her family had left her behind when they evacuated, who couldn't bark properly because of smoke inhalation.  So I really, truly do understand the devastation a bad wildfire season and a bad drought can cause to a state.  I sympathize with the people of Texas who are having to deal with this right now. 

That does not change the fact that declarations urging people to pray for rain are not an appropriate response from a supposedly-secular government in a supposedly-secular country.  People who are so inclined will pray for divine intervention in a time of crisis anyway.  To use an elected position of power to tell everyone they should be praying and what they should be praying for is deeply inappropriate.  Period.


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