Of Republicans, Rabbit Holes And Russia

If the last four plus years of Trumpism feel like anything recognizable, it’s Wonderland. Before Team Biden could begin to effectively govern — the thing we elected them to do — first, they’ve had to confront, reverse, strip out or defuse the myriad ways Donald Trump and his corrupter-than-corrupt admin went about destroying our ability to self-govern. From the first instant Trump cruised down that golden escalator in Trump Tower — “Mexicans are rapists” simmering in his ape brain — he was on a mission to destroy American democracy at the behest of Vladimir Putin. Any journalist in America (or the world) could have figured that out even before Trump got nominated. Proof was there that, as current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it as he walked into a meeting of GOP muckety-mucks, “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!” No one in the room disputed Kevin or demanded he produce proof. No one called the FBI to report their suspicions either. In fact, plenty of the GOP leadership (like then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan) demanded they all keep that knowledge — that their soon-to-be presidential nominee was likely compromised by a hostile foreign power engaged in a cyber war against us — “in the family”.

Imagine that: you are deeply suspicious that your presidential nominee is compromised by a country at cyber war with us and yet you do nothing about it. Why’s that exactly?

The truth-telling part of the story has begun. It will accelerate the instant Merrick Garland clocks in at the rejuvenated Department of Justice and the Department commits itself to uncovering all the players in the January 6 Insurrection. Pull one thread and the whole corrupt sweater will (pretty quickly, I bet) begin to fall apart. We don’t want or need Merrick Garland to be partisan to anything other than the rule of law. If he and his DoJ can just do that — enforce the rule of law evenly for the first time in the country’s history — it’s all over but the shouting for the GOP. And there’s already plenty of shouting, banging the table and making a nuisance because grievance and self-pity are the only arguments for staying in power the Republican Party has anymore.

Remember Fusion GPS — the company that first hired Chris Steele and set the “Steele Dossier” ball rolling? When Glenn Simpson (one of Fusion’s two founders) testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on August 22, 2017 (the Republican-run committee was trying to undermine the Steele Dossier’s integrity), he pointed out how, when they were hired by the conservative Washington Free Beacon to examine Trump, the first thing they did was their “due diligence”. They got their hands on every piece of publicly available material they could find on Trump — from his birth certificate to his youthful indiscretions, to being kicked out of school for being a cheater and an asshole to the claptrap about his being a “self-made man” to the money laundering fiascos that were his Atlantic City casinos. Fusion’s team got ahold of every book, every newspaper piece or magazine article, every radio sit-down or TV interview. Every time he farted in public. The Donald Trump on exhibit in publicly available material was so clearly an international criminal laundering Russian mob money that Fusion hired Chris Steele to back it all up.

The Steele Dossier — for the record — was proven mostly correct and that’s quite an accomplishment for a collection of raw intel (which is what the Dossier is). Intelligence rarely deals in black and white. There are few “smoking guns” but that doesn’t mean one can’t intuit them. It’s a little like accepting that a star we can’t see really does exist; our proof is all the light moving around it and through its gravity. We use what we know to prove what we don’t.

After the Reagan years, the Republican money (mostly the Kochs and the Mercers) saw that any future “hoorahs” would have to be entirely manufactured. The key to the future — to their future — lay in controlling one branch of government: the judiciary. The House is too mercurial and unpredictable to be a good partner. The Senate, the Republicans figured, would stay in their hands for a good while longer. The executive branch — take away Antonin Scalia dancing like a Geisha atop a pin to make Bush v Gore work logically — and Republicans haven’t had a legitimate shot at the White House in forever. The only branch really still keep-able, the RW money saw, was the judiciary. Keep the judiciary in your pocket and nothing much can or will change in America.

That was the whole point.

Beneath everything, “staying in power” is the guiding principle for everything Republicans do. It’s their Machiavellian justification for resorting to gerrymandering and voter suppression since, they know, selling their “dreams for America” in the marketplace of ideas can’t work out for them because no one but them wants to live in 1850’s America where everyone “knew their place”. It was their justification for flirting with than climbing completely into bed with Russia. Take this to the bank — it isn’t just Trump who’s compromised out the wazoo by Russia. Russia understands cynicism. They appreciate how useful useful idiots can be to their cause. They poured money into Republican campaign coffers through quasi-legal means (via Republicans’ PACs); it was legal in the abstract but throw in conspiracy to commit treason charges and that money stops being anything like “legal”.

Every journalist in America could just as easily have done what Fusion did. Hell, even if they just read Glenn Simpson’s Congressional testimony, they’d get smarter and better informed.

The Republican Party has obstructed all investigation into their relationships with Russia. It’s not much to ask “why?”, is it? Rod Rosenstein personally halted the counter-intel investigation begun by James Comey’s FBI, telling the FBI that Team Mueller was doing it as part of their work and telling Team Mueller that the FBI was doing it, no need for them to focus on such nastiness. Donald Trump has repeatedly behaved toward Vlad Putin like a lap dog. Not a single Republican has wanted any of that investigated.

The Republican Party is a criminal enterprise, not a “political party”. Donald Trump is so clearly a traitor, it should be tattooed on his forehead.

At the end of the day — and the story — it will all come down to Russia, Russia, RUSSIA. Take that to the bank. Donald Trump’s “win” was never a legitimate “win”. If the authority to do things presidential flows from We The People then when a president does things WITHOUT our authority, they are UNAUTHORIZED and therefore illegitimate. It’s this simple: but for Donald Trump, there would have been no insurrection, But for Russia, Donald Trump would NEVER have become POTUS.

That’s the mother of all Rabbit Holes.

It Ain’t Black People That Need To “Get Over Slavery”, It’s The White People Who Keep Trying To Bring It Back!

Slavery is a terrible thing on every conceivable level. Its persistence is a permanent stain on humanity (and it’s lack of same). But, let’s be clear, it does persist. The desire of one group of people to enslave another group of people in this country did not end with the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. Let’s be equally clear about what slavery is in its most literal sense: stolen labor. That’s the whole point of enslaving another human (or an animal for that matter): to get their labor for free (minus the cost of housing, feeding and — if they’re a human — clothing them). If the numbers pencil out, the slave’s free labor is worth far, far more than the costs of keeping them in squalor. The southern colonies (before they became states) grew three cash crops — rice, sugar and cotton. Prior to industrialized farming, all three needed massive amounts of laborers to get them from field to marketplace. Capitalism preaches minimizing costs to maximize profit — if one of those minimized costs can be labor, well, you see where this went. The southern states institutionalized slavery (and some still justify this!) because otherwise, they couldn’t have afforded to be in business.

Profit over people is what motivates slavery. If money in your pocket means more than your humanity — for instance, how exactly that money got into your pocket — then slavery becomes acceptable in whatever form it takes, even if it isn’t literal slavery. In this country, we used to have “company towns” where a big corporation would employ pretty much everyone around. They’d use that fact to create an economic bubble where most of their employees couldn’t really afford to leave, couldn’t really afford to complain (or ask for a raise) and couldn’t really afford to even question anything. Voila — the modern slave. It all comes from underpaying people for their labor. A minimum wage of $7.25 is as close to the slavery bone as one could cut it. A person working a 40 hour week at the minimum wage will clear just a bit over $15,000 over the course of a year. Working a 40 hour work week. Hey — if they’re a restaurant worker — supposedly getting tipped — they only get $2/hour because the public is meant to make up the difference in their wages.

Slavery by any other name is still slavery. The objective is still the same. It starts with the pocketbook and goes on from there.

Take note of those objecting to raising the federal minimum wage to $15. Now, to (try to) be fair, it would be a hardship in many rural areas for small businesses to pay $15/hour. If we were to jump immediately to an across-the-country minimum of $15/hour, about one and a half million people would lose their jobs today. But — and here’s the part where we have to think a little more Big Picture (and there are ways to mitigate the job losses those million and a half rural Americans will suffer including UBI!) — on the other side of that hardship to one group of people is tremendous benefit for an overwhelming majority of Americans whose economic situations will all rise exponentially. In a very short time, even the million-and-a-half who lost their jobs initially would be swept up into the rising tide. And — if we had been compensating them via universal basic income until that happened, they, too, would benefit more quickly and to greater long term effect.

Greed inspires the shortest of short term thinking. All one can see is one’s own bank account, one’s own creature comforts, one’s own economic future. It’s a survival instinct. Same as tribalism. But the trick in living as successful social animals is to learn (and it’s not easy) to moderate these instincts appropriately — to deny them entirely when they’re counter-productive. Those instincts are all quite malleable. We can learn to compromise. But compromise can only happen between equally honest actors. If one side is using a compromise to gain an advantage then, in time, all compromise will break down because it’s all game-playing. One has to look at the Bigger Picture and be willing to sacrifice a little to get a lot.

Sounds hard to teach, I know. But it’s not.

If we began to teach kids civic pride (as opposed to blind nationalism) from the get-go (as some countries do!), we can raise more conscientious humans and Americans. Of course, we’ll have to divorce ourselves from the fiction of “the rugged individualist” who “alone can fix it!” That is pure, unadulterated, self-satisfied, only-white-people-could-possibly-imagine-it, Libertarian twaddle. The fact is, it takes a village to do anything successfully beginning with child-rearing. And the more diverse that village is, the more dynamic the child-rearing and everything the village does will be. Diversity is what makes America exceptional. It ain’t white people and their money — scheming ways to pay their diverse work force slave wages.

It’s the fact that slavery is stolen labor that makes reparations necessary. The entire Confederate economy was built on stolen labor — and that labor still needs to be paid for somehow. It just does. Thieves should NEVER get away with their thievery — especially when those thieves wear the mantle of power. To not compensate every descendant of slavery for the wealth stolen from their families would be to perpetuate the crime committed against them! But, hey — that’s only if we want to be “fair”. And slavers couldn’t give a rat’s ass about “fair”. They’re focused on “the bottom line”.

Profits over people. We know where this leads and we do not want to be here. Good thing there’s still time to get out of this vile, racist rabbit hole. Repeat — it ain’t Black people who need to get over slavery; they can’t “get over it” fast enough and get on with living the happy, successful, productive lives they’re entitled to live. It’s white people who keep the idea of slavery alive because that’s the America they want — the America where slavery kept everyone NOT white in their place. And it guaranteed to keep them there because no one could ever afford to escape from it.

Look At It From The GOP’s Point Of View — You’d Cheat Too If All You Had To Sell In The Marketplace Of Ideas Was A Turd

To compete in a democracy, you have to sell your idea of how we should self-govern better than the other guy is. It helps a lot if your ideas are empirically better, too. That’s the case with the Democrats. Their ideas indicate that, unlike Republicans, Democrats still care about democracy. They still care about governing the best way they can so that more Americans can benefit from being American and living in America. Republicans do not want to live in a representative democracy any more. A lot of them never did care for this form of government, being royalists and authoritarians at heart. In theory anyway, Democracy is easy: each person above the age of 18 (though perhaps we should make it 16 for a thousand good reasons) get one vote. Come election day, they show up at the polls and cast their vote however they like. Period. End of story. No one’s vote is better than anyone else’s vote. They all carry equal weight. At least, that’s how it should be. But, from a Republican’s point of view, that means that a Black person’s vote has equal weight to their vote which means all hell has broken loose because, to a Republican, a Black person shouldn’t be voting in the first place.

Donald Trump keeps saying the quiet stuff out loud. For instance: “If everybody voted, Republicans would never win another election!” Want to know why Republicans will never enthuse over expanded voting rights? To them, that’d be like enthusing over your own extinction. The Republican voting base is not going to grow beyond angry white men and the women who cling to them. If Republicans really wanted to talk to people outside their base, they’d have to change their act completely. Just as well they don’t.

Republicans and republicanism favor profits over people. Progressives, by contrast, favor people over profits. We’ll leave money on the table and not beat ourselves up over it. Republicans, by contrast, can’t help being pigs at a trough, snarfing down everything they can get into their mouths. From a Republican perspective, actual human beings are the cash out in a business proposition. Every penny spent on a human or some human benefit is a penny less profit. And, if profit’s the name of the game…

What do conservatives really want to conserve? I know what Progressives want to progress toward — the future. I know Progressives want the best possible opportunities for the most possible people because that will renew and re-energize our politics and our culture. Conservatives don’t want to conserve the future, of course, because it doesn’t exist yet; in fact, conservatives want to avoid the future if at all possible. Instead, conservatives want to conserve all of the past that’s still locked into the present. If they could have their way, they’d take America back to the past — back to, what’s to them, a “Golden Age For White People”. Well, for white, Christian men and the women they’ve bamboozled into servicing them.

The reason conservatives don’t want to raise the federal minimum wage above $7.25? Frankly, if there was a way to bring back slavery, they’d do it. Slavery, after all, is stolen labor. Slaves don’t get paid for their work. The cost to house, clothe and feed them is the cost of a slave. So long as the slave’s work product is worth more than what it costs to keep them? Slavery’s profitable from the slaver’s point of view. Paying people the federal minimum wage keeps them permanently poor. No one can afford to pay any sort of decent rent if they work one minimum wage job for eight hours a day. They can barely afford to feed, clothe and transport themselves from wherever they’re bedding down to the minimum wage hell hole where they work.

As with 2020, the Republican Party has given up on selling ideas or policies. They simply sell hatred of the other now. Vote for the GOP because you hate people who don’t look like you.

As political advertising goes, that might get your base all fired up, but there aren’t enough boys in the bund to make this brand of Republicans anything other than a fringe regional party catering to the fringiest elements of Red America. After Merrick Garland gets through trying all the insurrectionists and then gets through with pulling threads on the corrupt Republican sweater, Republicans will pose even less of a threat because so many will have had to step down from their offices to deal with the very real legal peril facing them. Let’s remember — the Republican leadership KNEW a month before the made Donald Trump their presidential nominee in 2016 that he was corrupt and compromised by Russia.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays,” said current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy as he walked into a meeting of the Republican leadership a month before their convention in 2016, “Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” Then Leader Of The House Paul Ryan cautioned Kevin not to get too crazy about it. Paul wasn’t saying, “No, no, Kevin — you must be wrong! A man as honorable as Donald Trump would never let himself be compromised in such a way!” On the contrary, Paul was saying (literally) “Let’s keep this in the family!” Keep the fact that the man they were about to nominate for President of the United States was COMPROMISED by a hostile foreign power who’ve expressed the desire previously to wage cyber war against us. A roomful of Republican leaders agreed with Paul Ryan — and kept the secret a secret that they knew/suspected that their soon-to-be presidential nominee was likely OWNED OUTRIGHT by a hostile foreign government.

Republicans know they can’t sell what they’re pitching to American voters unless those voters are already hard core racists. That’s why they’ve resorted to gerrymandering, voter suppression and treason. That’s why they’ve resorted to cheating in every way they can think of. How else is any Republican going to get elected?

White People Are Making A Hash Of Democracy — Just Like They Did To Christianity

In a sense, white people are like George W. Bush — born on third base but thinking they hit a triple to get there. The playing field in America has never been level for anyone except white people. That’s because they can only see themselves. Where the rest of America sees privilege, white America sees entitlement. Brilliant idea that “All men are created equal” is, it gets kneecapped immediately if “All men” actually means “all WHITE men”. And by “white men”, they mean THEMSELVES. Democracy’s the hardest form of government to pull off because it’s self-government. It requires every citizen get involved at least by voting if not by running for office; America’s founders never imagined a “professional class” of politicians would end up running America. But then, white people, it turns out, don’t get everything right contrary to how they think of themselves. There’s something in the northern European makeup — as exercised here in America — that despises democracy. At least, that’s how they behave toward it. Or is their problem actually democracy when it’s practiced by everyone not them?

That sounds remarkably undemocratic. But then, is there anything less Christian then your basic, white supremacist? Don’t tell them that however. In their minds? They could teach the world what it means to be a “real” Christian.

Jesus himself would probably disagree with them. In response, your basic white supremacist Christian would probably crucify Jesus all over again, happily nailing him to a cross all by themselves. Isn’t that what dirty Jews deserve anyway?

Personally, I blame monotheism. It concentrates every bit of divine power into one set of very mercurial, highly emotional, at times downright cruel hands. Yahweh is a deity only humans could create — he’s that riddled with human frailty. When a monotheist claims to understand what Yahweh wants, what are they really claiming? How about if they hear Yahweh’s voice in their heads? I promise you it’s not the same voice that the monotheist standing next to them hears. That’s not Yahweh magically making himself over inside each different human’s head, that’s each human inventing Yahweh in his or her own image. The Yahweh they hear is them.

The crusades claimed to speak for Jesus. So did the Spanish Inquisition and every pogrom. To plenty of Germans, the Holocaust was divine justice. When you get down to it, you can make the voice in your head say anything you want. And, since you’ve given that voice divine authority, what it wants can’t be denied since “God” wants it.

The institutional church uses “Do unto others” as a kind of marketing pitch and a guide for the faithful. While the flock happily “does unto each other”, the institutional church to preaches “Do what we say — or else”. Do it our way. The problem — as the church keeps learning — the more the flock learns about how life really is the less inclined the flock is to do it the church’s way — and the smaller the flock gets. If the institutional churches had really and truly preached and lived by “Do unto others”, their fortunes might be very different today. But then, they wouldn’t be institutional churches anymore. They’d have nothing to do. Just like Jesus said…

The Europeans who embraced Jesus in the abstract would have hated him in person. For starters, he was a Jew. Born, lived and died one. Europeans hated Jews. Still do. So, the Christianity they practice is Jesus-free but institution-rich, completely missing the point. Throw in the fact that most of them (even if they can’t see it) see themselves as deities. Poor Jesus — he never stood a chance.

Once you see yourself as “graced by God”, everything you do becomes “divinely inspired” even if it’s killing people. Even if it’s enslaving people. Or taking their land because your deity tells you it’s okay with him. “All men are created equal” is the Christianity analog. All actual human beings — that’s Jesus. White people think democracy applies to them. Others, not so much. The idea of “others” controlling what white people do via the political process horrifies white people because white people know how THEY act when all the political power is concentrated in their hands.

White people know how they “do unto others” and the last thing on earth they want is anyone else doing that unto them. That’s why Republicanism in America is so anti-democratic. It’s the white guy’s version of a really good idea that plays as a bad idea to everyone else. But that’s only because white people aren’t trying to be democratic.

They’re trying to undermine democracy just like they undermined Christianity. Their track record should scare the hell out of everyone not them.

The Difference Between Icing And Cake

Icing: “Both sides have decent people on them!” Cake: one side is racist, violent and reactionary, the other isn’t. The whole trick to getting propaganda to work is convincing as many people as possible that icing is what matters. If the outside is pretty, sparkly and distracting enough, hopefully no one will notice that the cake underneath the icing is rotten. And yet, some people have no idea that the cake even exists. All they perceive is the icing. Those people are called “journalists” here in America. Back when this all started, one day they’d get whipsawed in one direction by “Mexicans are rapists” colored icing, then whipsawed inn the complete other direction by “pussy-grabbing” colored icing. Then, suddenly, it was some other colored icing and the news media could hardly keep up with it. Of course, if they’d been able to forget about the icing and look directly at the cake — as Fusion GPS did when they were hired to do oppo research on Donald Trump for the conservative, Marco Rubio-backing Washington Free Beacon — they would have seen with their own eyes that every bit of the Donald Trump cake mix was vile, pernicious, corrupt, compromised and (likely) treasonous.

Icing: “Donald Trump is our nominee for POTUS”. Cake: “There are two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!”

A month before the GOP nominated Trump to be their presidential candidate, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a meeting of Republican muckety-mucks and said the above. The room did not erupt in chaos with people angrily demanding how Kevin got such an outrageous idea into his head. No one said, “Hey, if that’s even remotely possible, we need to get the FBI on the phone right NOW!” On the contrary, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — one of the most powerful Republicans in office at the time — made it emphatically clear that what Kevin had just said was not going to be discussed outside that “room”. That little secret — no one questioned that Trump (and Rohrbacher) were taking money from Moscow — was going to stay “in the family”. That’s cake right there — Treason Cake. How can it not be if 1) you know or suspect that your PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE is already compromised (or easily compromise-able) by a hostile foreign power and 2) you accept that fact as “who he is” and therefore “who YOU are”?

Cake is the aggregated reality we all live in. It’s four years of watching Donald Trump and everyone in his orbit take corruption to bold new heights even corruption never thought it could attain. The Republican Party — seeing demographic extinction in their future — deliberately hitched their wagon to Trump despite knowing he was owned outright by Russia. They’d set themselves on a course toward permanent minority rule years before. The Kochs and the Mercers (and the other big RW donors) directed Mitch McConnell to seize the judiciary and use it as the basis for the soft coup d’etat that started during the 2016 election. The whole point of denying Merrick Garland so much as a hearing was to hijack the Supreme Court. That’s some serious cake.

Cake is the racism underlying the Republican Party’s bottom line. The former “Party Of Lincoln” is now the “pro-slavery party”. If they could bring slavery back, the GOP most assuredly would. Keep in mind — first and foremost, slavery is stolen labor. The slaver will eat the cost of clothing, housing and feeding a slave because the slaver knows he’ll make way more money from the slave’s work output. While Republicans know they can’t be that blatant anymore, the desire for slavery (free labor) drives their resistance to a livable minimum wage. People who can pay their bills and thrive economically (and therefore politically) can’t be enslaved. But, if one compromises their ability to pay their bills and thrive economically — and then make it impossible for them to ever acquire the wealth required to really thrive in America — one can “enslave them” without actually seeming to.

The restaurant business in America survives on the icing that diners should pay a significant portion of their servers’ wages. The cake is “no, the economic success of people in the food service industry should not rely on the kindness of strangers.”

Icing: America has the best health care in the world Cake: America doesn’t have a health CARE system, it has a health INSURANCE system — not the same thing. Whenever anyone walks in the door of our health system, the first question we ask isn’t “How can we fix you” — the proper question — it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?” That’s unconscionable. It’s barbaric. It’s wrong.

Beware the icing eaters! They have a way of getting things really, really wrong…

“TRUMPOCALYPSE: THE MOVIE” — Let’s All Play Casting Director!

U.S. Vice-President Biden smiles as he speaks with Croatian PM Milanovic in Zagreb

Take this to the bank: a movie or two WILL be made about the Trump presidency.  A few will nibble at the periphery of the experience, capturing the graft and the grift.  Some will try to capture its essence economically but that won’t satisfy.  One really had to experience the overwhelming “everyday” of it — the relentless, sometimes narcotizing fire hose of awfulness that got locked into the “on” position — to appreciate “it”.  This story could never fit into a feature film no matter the length.  This is streaming TV territory that audiences will want to both binge and purge at the very same time.  That’s why we should make the casting process as democratic as possible.  We’re invested in getting the best performances we can.

We’ve already seen a few actors play Trump — Alec Baldwin on SNL of course (which shouldn’t put him out of the running though I suspect he’d want to add a little nuance to the part if he gets the nod) and Brendan Gleason in Showtime’s “The Comey Rule” adaptation.  Late night hosts (Jimmy Fallon) and comedians (Bob DiBuono) have played Trump but they haven’t “inhabited” Trump the way we’ll need our actor to inhabit the part.

Quick casting note: having personally cast a lot of actors over my career, I can assure you: we never cast actors to “act”.  We cast them to “be”.  We cast actors to, essentially, play a version of themselves (with a different name and wardrobe) as honestly as they possibly can.  If they act the emotions, it won’t work.  The camera will see it and we’ll hate the actors as a result.  Much better that they just “open a vein” emotionally and let their hearts flow.  So — as you look at the roles, don’t think so much “who can ‘act’ this part, think “who already inhabits it in a way” because of who they are.  There’s a reason actors get so close associated with the parts they play.  They’re not playing anything.  They’re just “being”.

Back when I first threw down this post in the early years of Trump’s presidency, the story was smaller and simpler (if you can remember back that far).  It was corruption and Russia and a desperate attempt to make it to 2018 when (as we did) we could reassert control of the House at least and try to inject a little oversight into the toxic mix.  Since then… geez — what hasn’t happened?  This — is it a limited series even? — could go on for years as it’s still playing out in real time.

This will always be celebration of wishful thinking — not the TV series itself — casting the damned thing as if we could stay ahead of the story.  The Trump Age was brutal to people who write fiction for a living.  How could fiction possibly stand up to the reality we all lived through?  If a writer tried to sell what we all lived as a novel or script, they’d have been told to stop writing, period.  Way too over the top.  Way too crazy.  Way too everything.

And yet.

This post invites your contributions!  It’s an “open casting call” meaning everyone’s open to making a few casting calls.

CHARACTER              ACTOR

Donald Trump          Woody Harrelson, Alec Baldwin, Brendan Gleeson, Sarah Cooper

Woody Harrelson as Trump Woody Harrelson as Trump?

Alec Baldwin as Trump Alec Baldwin as Trump?

Brendan Gleeson as Trump Brendan Gleeson as Trump?

Sarah Cooper as Trump Sarah Cooper as Trump?

Mike Pence

mike-pence-sanctimonious Mike Pence as Mike Pence

Beck Bennet as Mike Pence SNL’s Beck Bennett as Mike Pence?

The Coronavirus

Coronavirus Coronavirus as Coronavirus

Bubonic Plague 2 Bubonic Plague as Coronavirus?

Spanish flu Spanish Flue of 1918 as Coronavirus?

Joe Biden

Jim Carrey as Joe Biden Jim Carrey as Joe Biden?

Nancy Pelosi

Nancy Pelosi Nancy Pelosi as Nancy Pelosi

Meryl Streep as Nancy Pelosi Meryl Streep as Nancy Pelosi

Helen Mirren as Nancy Pelosi 2 Helen Mirren as Nancy Pelosi?

Mitch McConnell

mitch-moscow-mitch Mitch McConnell as Treason McTurtleface

Rudy Giuliani

Rudy Rudy as Rudy

Kate McKinnon as Rudy Kate McKinnon as Rudy? Kate can play whoever she wants!

Ted Cruz

ted-cruz-sexy-eyes Ted Cruz as Ted Cruz

Josh Hawley

Josh Hawley Josh Hawley as Josh

Roger Stone

roger-stone-communicated-directly-with-wikileaks-despite-denials-thumbnail-1511217-640x360 Roger Stone as Roger

Michael Flynn

Michael Flynn Michael Flynn as Michael Flynn

The Proud Boys

Proud Boys The Proud Boys as Themselves

Nazis Nazis — as The Proud Boys dream of themselves

Bill Barr

bill-barr-is-handsome Bill Barr as Bill Barr as the Worst AG in American History

Mike Pompeo

Mike Pompeo Mike Pompeo as Mike Pompeo

Lindsey Graham

lindsey-graham-looks-haunted Lindsey Graham as the most haunted, hunted man in America

Kevin McCarthy

Kevin McCarthy Kevin McCarthy as The Guy Who KNEW Trump Was Getting Paid By Putin

Merrick Garland

Merrick Garland Merrick Garland as The Guy Who Will End It All For The Republicans

Steve Bannon            Jeff Bridges, Nick Nolte, John Goodman, John Howard

Steve Bannon Steve Bannon as Steve Bannon (for comparison’s sake)

Jeff Bridges as Steve Bannon Jeff Bridges as Steve Bannon?

John Howard as Steve Bannon John Howard as Steve Bannon?

Ivanka                         Scarlet Johanson

Ivanka Ivanka as Ivanka

Scarlet J as Ivanka Scarlet Johansson as Ivanka?

Amanda Seyfried as Ivanka Amanda Seyfried as Ivanka?

Jared Kushner

Donald Trump, Jr.

Eric Trump

Melania Trump

Vlad Putin                   Mark Ivanir, Mads Mikkelsen

vlad-is-a-tough-guy1 Vlad Putin as Vlad Putin

Mark Ivanir as Putin Mark Ivanir as Vlad Putin?

Robert Mueller           Chris Noth, George Clooney

Don McGahn                Andrew McCarthy

Sarah Sanders              Rosie O’Donnell, Mary Lynn Rajskub

Robert Mercer            Greg Kinnear, Noah Emmerich

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Now let’s move on to a few new roles — JARED KUSHNER…

jared-kushner-trump-split-pending

Couple of thoughts — first — NICK JONAS —

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I know – Nick Jonas is 24, Jared is mid 30’s BUT — I think Nick’s youth works for the part because it will READ as such — and one thing Jared is most notable for IS BEING TOO YOUNG for pretty much everything he’s been tasked to do.  Too young and too fucking stupid…

Second thought — CHRISTIAN BALE — at 43, he’s a little old for the part but the guy’s versatile as hell.  And he’s got the tools to bring out all the passive aggressive, weak-link-in-a-weak-chain nuances that make Jared so Jared…

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KELLYANNE CONWAY

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The obvious choice — because she INHABITS the character so hauntingly — is KATE MCKINNON.

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In fact, I can’t imagine anyone better.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s hers.

MORE TO COME…

ROBERT MERCER (CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA and one of THE Big Money Guys the Republican party RELY on.  He’s one of the reasons they pushed through a ‘tax bill’ that could completely bankrupt us with debt —

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But SOMEONE will have to play him in “TRUMPOCALYPSE:  THE MOVIE”. And April Lea — one of my readers on Twitter had this fabulous suggestion — GREG KINNEAR —

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It’s like Greg was BORN to play the part, no…?

MORE CASTING TO FOLLOW…

“TRUMPOCALYPSE:  THE MOVIE” — CASTING

I’m just trying to get ahead of the curve here.  A MOVIE VERSION of this Moment In History is coming — not today of course and not tomorrow but — not too much longer after that.

As anyone in The Biz will tell you, casting is everything.  Get it right — you’re Golden.  Get it wrong — it doesn’t matter how good the script is, the direction, the design — you’re going down in flames colored purple by terrible acting.

Even a story as good as THIS — and stories will NEVER (I sure as hell hope) ever, ever, EVER get ‘better’ than this — could be undermined by bad casting.  With that in mind, here are my thoughts about who in the current crop of actors we should ‘think about’ for ‘Our Movie’…

First up — OUR LEAD of course.  Now, I know — first guy in everyone’s mind is Alec Baldwin —

And who doesn’t love when Alec Baldwin does his Trump (except perhaps for Donald himself — but then, he has no sense of humor — something our actors need to grasp and incorporate into their character).  And I wouldn’t say ‘No’ to Mr Baldwin; in fact, I’d love to see Mr Baldwin come at the character from a more ‘actory’ point of view — from within.  I’d want to talk about that for sure.  Maybe get a screen test out of him…

It’d be worth it (for him).

Let’s say we like what he does — a lot — but don’t quite ‘love’ it.  I have the ace card right here — the guy we should cast regardless of how good Mr Baldwin is because WOODY HARRELSON will be better — cos he can do just about anything.

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His INTERIOR range is amazing — and we’re going to need an actor with incredible emotional range to play a character with VIRTUALLY NONE.  It’s like getting an actor to sing off key.  The ones who can actually sing will automatically do it better.  They even know where off-key is.

So — think about it, folks — THIS GUY playing THIS GUY —

Can I sign him?  Please?

Next up was going to be Robert Mueller but circumstances have forced us to consider casting THIS GUY now instead —

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My first thought is JEFF BRIDGES.  Bannon is like The Dude’s soul-less Evil Twin — with a side of Gin Blossoms…

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Got some great suggestions on Twitter.  Sorry, ‘Dude’, but you have competition.  How about THIS GUY — NICK NOLTE…

…or JOHN GOODMAN…

See?  Casting is harder than it looks!  Keep the suggestions coming, folks

Okay — I WILL get to this guy but — he’s HARD…

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In the meantime — IVANKA TRUMP —

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My FIRST thought?  SCARLETT JOHANSSON…

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It’s almost too on the nose… I bet Scarlett would tear up the part though.  Tear it up and have it for dinner…

This is a movie with multiple villains.  And each villain is very different from the others and very interesting.  But our Uber-Villain is THIS GUY — Vladimir…

Now, personally, I’d give it to my good friend MARK IVANIR (he played the Russian Spymaster a few seasons back on the BERLIN SEASON of HOMELAND).  Mark’s Russian by birth but grew up in Israel.  Knows his way around a villain while being an absolutely delightful person in the flesh…

But I know everyone’s a star-fucker so… I would also think about TCHEKY KARYO ( on the right — ‘La Femme Nikita’) or MADS MIKKELSEN ( on the left — ‘Hannibal’) while trying to talk you into my friend Mark —

Next up TWO THOUGHTS for ROBERT MUELLER) —

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A great suggestion from Purple Mountains on my Twitter feed — CHRIS NOTH —

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Rock solid idea.  Another possibility?  A guy with surprising emotional range who you just plain like the moment you see him —

Clooney — George Clooney… ya think?

Since she’s ‘up to bat’ — let’s try n cast Sarah Huckabee Sanders —

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I’m thinking MARY LYNN RAJSKUB (24 among lots of other great credits) —

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But PURPLE MOUNTAINS — on my Twitter feed had this very, VERY good idea — ROSIE O’DONNELL —

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That’s gonna be a hard one.  And we’ve only just started thinking about it… Next up —

JARED THE ‘K’…

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Playing Fields Can’t Level Themselves

The whole notion of “The American Dream” rests on the foundational idea that, in America, provided you’re willing to work your ass off, anyone (from anywhere) can make themselves and their future into whatever they want it to be. American exceptionalism flows from the fact that people from every other country on earth aspire (still) to get to America because of that tantalizing possibility. Then those same people — having achieved some part of their dream — invariably pay America back with not only their hard work but the products of that work — whether food, health care services or just great ideas. Immigration has always been essential to America’s exceptionalism. But, some Americans don’t want just anyone to achieve the American Dream. Because economic success converts into political power, white people have worked hard — via racist legislation, voter suppression tactics and outright violence — to take any and all Black wealth before it can accumulate thereby denying them even the chance to walk onto the American playing field and play. The “playing field” in America has NEVER been level. How could it be when “All men are created equal” actually means some MEN are created equal and everyone else who isn’t white, male and Christian can go screw themselves?

White people love a level playing field when it’s been leveled for their benefit. White conservatism’s goal is to keep the playing field from ever being level. That’s what conservatism wants to “conserve” — how it was back when the playing field was at maximum tilt toward them. It’s not just advantage that succumbs to gravity — so, too, does all the money. It rolls straight downhill. Conservatives don’t want to chase it as it rolls, they want to be waiting for it at the bottom. That’s the Republican Party’s stated goal. It’s their clear intention with every anti-voting bill they shotgun at the wall in fear of what 2022 will bring. Not only did we not start with a level playing field here in America, one of our two political parties is actively engaged in doing everything in its power (including commit treason) to keep the playing field as it is — not just “unleveled” but violently unleveled. The whole point of Trumpism — which is really just Republicanism on steroids & powdered Adderall — is permanent minority rule. In other words, a playing field that can never be leveled ever againby design.

Accountability levels playing fields. That’s why Republicans don’t want it.

Fairness levels playing fields. Competition — real competition — levels playing fields. That’s really, what conservatives most want to avoid: competition. Especially in the marketplace of ideas since their idea — taking America back to the past — won’t sell to anyone else but conservatives, racists and Trumpanistas. If Republicans thought they could sell their ideas, they’d sell them. Republicans after all excel at marketing. “Trickle down economics” is pure marketing. It’s bullshit, too. “Mission Accomplished” was marketing and nothing but. Remember “Compassionate conservatism”? Hurts just to think the words together, doesn’t it? That was marketing at its most diabolically cynical.

Republicans arrive at the stadium knowing their only path to “victory” is through cheating so, first, they set about hobbling Team Democrat’s ability to assemble and suit up their team via voter suppression tactics (a thing both sides absolutely DON’T do — Democrats don’t even think of suppressing Republican voters). Then, the Republicans work the refs hard. They commit every foul in the book, deny they did anything, but assure the refs that the Democrats were doing it. They assure the refs that their flagrant twos to the head are the same as the Democrats accidentally stepping out of bounds while taking a corner three. See? Both sides “break the rules”! And our news media nods its head — yeah, both things are “outside the rules” so “both sides do it”. But, remember, the playing field was un-leveled when everyone stepped onto it. It was especially un-leveled this time because Russia was sitting at one end — waiting for America to finish tumbling into Russia’s open maw.

We’re sitting, today, in the “float” between Trump’s perverted Department of Justice and the refurbished, rejuvenated and returned-to-its-core-principles Department of Justice that Merrick Garland will helm once he’s confirmed by the Senate — a process that starts tomorrow. The DoJ has already begun finding its equilibrium again as the lifers who hung on by their fingernails during the Trump-Sessions-Rosenstein-Barr years step forward, asserting normalcy as they formally await new leadership to clock in. Garland has already stated publicly that he will prosecute white supremacy as terrorism. That, all by itself, is a game changer. But, it’s what happens as Garland’s DoJ pulls those white supremacy threads that will undo the entire, corrupt, treasonous Republican Christmas sweater.

The January 6 Insurrection dot connects to the white supremacy dot. The white supremacy dot connects to the Roger Stone and Mike Flynn dots which connect to the Donald Trump dot. But, the pandemic dot ALSO will connect to the Insurrection dot (I betcha they wondered aloud in the Trump WH — which someone will testify to under oath) if it would make it easier to roll America via insurrection if America was weakened by a non-existent pandemic response. We already know Russia had an interest in keeping America weak. The Russia dot, we’ll learn — after Merrick Garland’s DoJ resurrects the counter-intelligence investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia that Rod Rosenstein quashed — connects, one way or another, to pretty much everything.

If we want this playing field leveled, we’re going to have to level it ourselves. We’re going to have to remain vigilant once it’s as close to leveled as we can get it (keeping in mind there will always be resistance) by electing people committed to getting the playing field leveled. Every attempt to un-level the field — as the Republicans are doing all over America with a raft of new anti-voting laws — needs to be met with not merely resistance but rage focused back on them with white hot, laser-like intensity.

The bottom line is so simple: the fairer the game, the better the outcome for all and the more Americans “win”.

Songs People Get Wrong

We all know those song lyrics that people have famously gotten wrong — “Scuse me while I kiss this guy” instead of “Scuse me while I kiss the sky” (Hendrix) or “Like a virgin, touched for the thirty-first time” instead of “for the ‘very first time’,” (Madonna) or “Hold me closer, Tony Danza” instead of “tiny dancer” (Elton John). But, what of the whole songs people get wrong? The classic example is the Police’s “Every Breath You Take” — which some people play at their weddings. I guess if you quit at the title and never actually listened to the lyrics, you might think obsessing on every breath the object of your desire takes is, um, romantic. The song’s about a stalker. That doesn’t require a whole lot of “textual analysis” to get to.

Every move you make
Every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake
Ill be watching you

Every vow you BREAK? Every smile you FAKE? Wait — isn’t this a wedding song? “I’ll be watching you” sounds a little like the character in Randy Newman’s song “You Can Leave Your Hat On”. Although at least that guy seems to have a modicum of consent on his side.

Since you’ve gone I been lost without a trace
I dream at night I can only see your face
I look around but its you I can’t replace
I feel so cold and I long for your embrace
I keep crying baby, baby, please…

Relationships are tricky things, true, but, surely people understand the difference between a guy suffering an emotional breakdown with a groom. In a similar vein — where people find something in a song that the song’s writer never put there — Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. Now, “Hallelujah” also gets dragged into solemn occasions and weighty moments with religious overtones. It was used repeatedly during Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremonies. But that’s really only because of the song’s title (and its chorus): “Hallelujah”. If you read the lyrics, it’s right there — what the song’s about — and it’s brilliant.

“Hallelujah” is the best song ever written about the agony and ecstasy of love. The song flirts with the darkest cynicism about love — and it’s the religious framing that makes it work so brilliantly. Love is like a religion. REM’s equally brilliant “Losing My Religion” goes right at it — the feeling of being spiritually lost when love falls apart. We build temples around love. We ache for its transcendence but settle for its quotidian challenges. Love (like religion) can make one cynical. In fact, when Leonard Cohen first recorded the song, he made the song’s tormented cynicism crystal clear — listen to how he performs the song’s very first line, especially the question “Do ya?”

Also confounding people — and giving them the impression the song’s somehow “religious” — Cohen uses Biblical words and references; he alludes to the Biblical King David obsessing over Bathsheeba — bathing on the roof, overthrown by her beauty and the moonlight.

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew her
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Then, mixing in a little Samson & Delilah, Cohen ties the lover to a kitchen chair, totally powerless. The “Hallelujah” she draws from his lips may be ecstatic, but there’s agony on the horizon. And, as we all know, the agony parts always last way, way longer than any ecstasy parts.

Baby, I’ve been here before,
I’ve seen this room, I’ve walked this floor.
I used to live alone before I met ya.
Well, I’ve seen your flag on the Marble Arch,
And love is not a victory march –
It’s a cold and it’s a broken “Hallelujah!”
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah…

“It’s a cold and it’s a broken ‘Hallelujah’.” Wait, didn’t I see that once on the back of some divorce lawyer’s business card?

The Daddy of all “Songs People Get Wrong” is Randy Newman’s iconic “I Love LA” which, ironically, LA has embraced though — if you read the lyrics — they shouldn’t. “I Love LA” is not a love song to the city of angels. It’s poking fun at us, at how shallow we are.

Yes, there’s this part of it — which is all sweeeeeet! —

Rollin’ down the Imperial Highway
With a big nasty redhead at my side
Santa Ana winds blowin’ hot from the north
And we was born to ride

Roll down the window, put down the top
Crank up the Beach Boys, baby
Don’t let the music stop
We’re gonna ride it till we just can’t ride it no more

From the South Bay to the Valley
From the West Side to the East Side
Everybody’s very happy
‘Cause the sun is shining all the time
Looks like another perfect day

But, the punchline to all the sweetness is this —

Look at that mountain
Look at those trees
Look at that bum over there, man
He’s down on his knees
Look at these women
There ain’t nothin’ like em nowhere

Century Boulevard (We love it)
Victory Boulevard (We love it)
Santa Monica Boulevard (We love it)
Sixth Street (We love it, we love it)
We love L.A.

Wait, wait? How can we focus on all the good-looking women with “bums” in our field of vision, down on their knees, in homeless camps that grow larger and more ubiquitous daily? How can we focus on streets as banal and characterless from one end to the other as Century Boulevard or Sixth Street when we’re worrying about someone else’s human plight? Trust me, everyone who isn’t an Angeleno, there’s NOTHING to love about any of the streets mentioned in the song. THAT’S THE JOKE!

Alas, even most Angelenos don’t “get” the joke. Oh, how Randy Newman must chuckle at us (Angelenos) as the money for that song keeps pouring in.

All the people in New York City may “dress like monkeys”, but it’s we Angelenos who act like monkeys as we cheer ourselves to that song.

And, while we’re at it? Newman’s “Sail Away” covers American racism from the other side. Think of the lyrics as a wry commentary on racism — how a racist slave trader might try to pitch slavery to potential slaves on a recruiting poster.

“We’re just gonna sing about Jesus and drink wine all day… It’s great to be an American!”

“Both Sides Do It” Is Racist Claptrap, Not Journalism

Both sides “doing it”…

There are two sides to every political situation: power and resistance. One either HAS the power or one is resisting the guy who does. By definition, by purpose, both sides are not doing “it”. They’re not doing the same thing. They’re doing the opposite for very specific purposes. “Ah, yes!” says the “Both Sides Do It” practitioner, “But if the resistance were to GET power, THEN they’d ‘do the same thing’!” Which means… exercise power? Abuse power? Is that the accusation? WHEN both sides get power they DO the exact same thing? Sorry, American Journalism, but you’re going to have to back that up with receipts — which you absolutely do not have. In America, Black people have NEVER had power. They’ve ALWAYS been the resistance. We don’t know how they’d behave if or when they ever became “THE” power because it’s never happened before. There’s not precedent to use as a basis for “both sides do it”.

To say Republicans and Democrats behave the same is cynicism on steroids. It’s not intellectually lazy, it’s intellectually inert. It ascribes motives to human behaviors that don’t add up, that don’t describe reality. Republicans are far better at marching in lock step than Democrats. The press is always jumping on how “divided the Democrats are” as if that’s never been the case before. No, that’s how Democrats are (that’s modern Democrats, not the Democrats of the 1800’s which became the Dixiecrats which became the modern Republican Party – per Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party“). Modern Democrats began in the 1920’s. Will Rogers nailed our spirit: “I’m not the member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. That spirit endures. It’s kinda what happens when your tent really is open to anyone and everyone. Diversity is messy. It demands constant compromise as the group accommodates new immigrants. But the deal is, new immigrants into our system rejuvenates it with new energy, new aspirations and new ideas. It always, always, ALWAYS pays for itself.

Both sides do not use voter suppression of the other side’s voters as a campaign tactic. Democrats aren’t afraid of the marketplace of ideas because they have new ideas to solve old problems that the old ideas didn’t. A lot of those old problems were CAUSED by those old ideas. Both sides, for instance, do not and did not approve of slavery. Slavery isn’t a dead issue here in America. It’s still painfully alive. There are two parts to this monster. We see the racist part — of course we do! But there’s an economic part to the monster. It’s the economic part that birthed the monster in the first place — stolen labor. Slaves work for free.

Colonial America relied heavily on cotton, sugar cane and rice to cash flow its economy. All three crops are labor intensive. If one had to pay all the labor required a fair wage, one might not make any money growing and selling those crops. Or one might not make enough (whatever that is). But, if one could get all the labor required for free? Suddenly slavery’s on the table. The expenses of housing, clothing and feeding the slaves needs to be figured into the accounting, but you have to figure it penciled out positively for slavery. The free labor made all the expenses of slavery worthwhile.

Now, ask yourself — how do we feel about people who work for free? Who have no choice in the matter? If we’re the power, we like them. We’d like more of them. If we’re the resistance…

Though we made literal slavery illegal, we’ve done nothing to make theoretical slavery a part of our architecture. Even when Black people have been paid for their work — and allowed to accumulate earned wealth — white people found ways to take it from them. Jim Crow laws, for instance. Poll taxes that made voting extremely difficult. Sometimes, as with Black Wall Street, the Black section of Tulsa, teeming with luxury shops, restaurants, movie theaters, a library, pool halls and nightclubs that a white mob burned to the ground in a race riot that started on May 31, 1921, the “taking” was as literal as literal can be.

Both sides do not do that. Both sides don’t even think that way. Only one side does — and they’ve left behind copious receipts that any journalist can eyeball.

Of course, the trick is, you have to WANT to eyeball those racist receipts. You have to WANT to find them if they’re there. But, first, you have acknowledge that they could be there! And once you open your mind to that fact? Suddenly, that racism appears everywhere. It’s not the racism that suddenly appeared, it’s your capacity to SEE the racism — that it indeed IS there. And once your mind opens to that fact, you can’t help asking “how’d it get there?” And the answer to that is — it didn’t have to “get there” because it always WAS THERE.

“Both sides do it” is the grossest kind of generalization. It assumes that the slave and the slave master are equally culpable for the slave’s situation. It asserts that because the slave master HAS a point of view that therefore that point of view (just because it exists) must be valid — equally valid, in fact, to the slave’s point of view. Ummmmmmm, no. The slave master may have a point of view but they most definitely do not have a “point” — justification for their vile point of view.

Oh, right — I forgot — they have “economics” to back them up. If they don’t pay their labor nothing (or a ludicrous “minimum wage”), they won’t make enough money for their stockholders. And if the stockholders don’t get the return on their investment they want, they’ll take their investment dollars elsewhere — so, whatever we do, let’s not raise the minimum wage! No one can live on the current federal minimum wage ($7.25 an hour!) and no one will be able to live on the $12 an hour Republicans and dishonest Democrats like West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin insist is “all we can afford”. Horse shit. We can’t afford NOT to pay people a fair, sustainable wage.

One side in this debate wants as many Americans as possible to have the best lives they possibly can, to be as healthy as they can be, to educate their children without bankrupting their futures, to have every opportunity every other American has, to vote because it’s their right. The other side — plenty of receipts to pick through — DOES NOT!

Maybe Monotheism’s The Problem…

I have always been grateful to Hebrew School for making me the atheist I am today. I mean that in the nicest way possible. I’m pretty sure I dropped from the womb a total non-believer, but whatever lingering doubts I had about atheism being “the truth faith” were swept aside by eight years of religious education. The story that iced it for me — made following my tribe’s faith a total non-starter — was the “Abraham and Isaac” story. The three Abrahamic religions all hold up Abraham as “the first monotheist”. In actual historical fact, whoever “Abraham” actually was, while he may have been an early convert from polytheism to monotheism, he was by no means the first human to toss all the other gods in favor of just one, in Abraham’s case, Yahweh. The “innovation” in the Hebrews’ monotheistic creation was their deity’s relationship with people. Yahweh wanted one, having personally created us.

None of the characters in the Abraham-Isaac story made sense to me — even when I was a kid. Yahweh the god is petulant and petty. He’s powerful enough to create literally everything in existence, yet out-of-his-mind-neurotic because humans keep screwing up. Are there any other worlds out there this Yahweh character feels compelled to keep flooding and destroying because he got one of the pieces wrong? How many generations of human — after Adam and Eve — did it take for people to forget Yahweh created them? Why would Yahweh — creator of everything — let a single human get that wrong to begin with? If Yahweh created everything, why would he countenance the creation of other gods — even if only inside peoples’ minds? And, what kind of father is Abraham? He’s a couple hundred years old (per the text) and wants, more than anything, a son with his wife Sarah (whose baby-making machinery was equally old, but never mind!) He has a son with Sarah’s maid Hagar (Ishmael — the foundational character in Islam’s story) but it’s not the same. Finally Sarah bears Abraham the son he’s always wanted.

And, what does this loving, doting, adoring father do one day — with the son that he loves more than life itself — when the voice in his head says, “Hey, Abe — grab your kid and a sharp knife: we’ve got some business to transact”, what does Abe do? He takes that child he loves more than life itself to the place the imaginary voice in his head told him to. If the voice says “sacrifice your son”, that’s what Abe’s doing, no second thoughts. If not for the intercession of an angel — who offers up a goat as a sacrifice to replace Isaac (and what did the poor goat do to get hauled into this bloodbath?) — Abraham murders his own child, end of story.

I remember thinking back then “And the point of this story is…?” I grasped but couldn’t then articulate the perversity of monotheism and its strange “asks”. To accept monotheism, you have to accept Yahweh. And, to accept Yahweh, you have to accept a deeply flawed human creation. Only a human would think Yahweh, as written, is much of a deity. I bet among actual deities, Yahweh couldn’t get hired to bus tables at the Deity Café. He certainly wouldn’t get invited to sit down with them and play in any of their reindeer games. Yahweh’s too puny.

Or, is Yahweh too clearly what he is — a human creation? That’s an important distinction if we’re discussing the Creator Of Everything. Who created who first? Considering as Yahweh wasn’t the first god a human ever invented and wasn’t even the first god that the Hebrews followed (they also followed ElBaalAsherah, and Astarte before the cult of Yahweh over-rode all the other gods and the Hebrews settled on Yahwh as their “Hear, Oh, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one”.

Here in the west, we tell ourselves that monotheism was an evolutionary step above polytheism. It was in the sense that monotheism emerged after polytheism as a new way to see the world. But is monotheism an “improvement” the way evolving webbing between our fingers would make us better swimmers? Did monotheism’s creation in the human mind produce improvements to human life for having been created? One could argue yes. In praise of monotheism, great buildings rose. Great art was made. Much thinking has been directed towards it. But, one could also argue that monotheism has been a curse.

It all comes down to Yahweh. As written, Yahweh has it in for his human creations. He tried once already to wipe us all out via flood (if you accept the stories as reality — a dubious thing to do). Apparently the new humans that rose after Noah were no better than the rotten humans that preceded Noah. Yahweh felt they were so rotten that he’d have to create a mechanism to “absorb” all that human rottenness, dispose of it somehow and then permanently redeem these creatures who constantly disappoint him. Yahweh created a “son”. But, not just a son — a way (if you believe in that son just the right way) to beat the thing that scares humans most: death.

The Jews ultimately evolved Yahweh into a creature who commanded them to make the world a better place for them having been it. The Christian world evolved Yahweh into a bully who insists you believe in his son — and his son’s ability to conquer death — or he’ll kill you.

Jesus taught you don’t need a temple or its priests (or a church and ITS priests) to have a relationship with God. And, by the way? Do unto others. But that’s not how the Paul heard it or sold it. He downplayed the “Do unto others” part and cranked up the dogmatic rules involved in beating death by believing in Jesus. To Paul’s credit, his invention was sheer genius. It’s longevity speaks to that. Christianity isn’t a religion you embrace if you want to “Do unto others” (you can do that without it), it’s one you embrace if you want to “live forever”. That’s the “good news” inside every Christian’s “testimony” — a dubious path to eternal life.

Once taken up by a believer, monotheism can morph into authoritarianism faster than any other belief system. How can it not? Where’s the check on Yahweh’s voice? It’s not like Yahweh walks in the door a rational character. His only real innovation is the ability to reproduce with humans. And what does Yahweh have in mind for his child? Death. If the mythology is going to work — if Jesus is going to be proven the actual “messiah” — then a bunch of things have to line up (at least in the telling). To begin with, Jesus has to die because Eve disobeyed Yahweh when she ate from the tree of knowledge thus committing the “original sin”. On top of that, Jesus also has to come from the priestly line and then from King David’s line to boot. Plenty of gymnastics to pull off there.

Plenty of dogma, too. Spirituality demands zero dogma. Religion relies on it exclusively to suck you in and keep you in. Monotheism relies upon the most rigid dogma of all — because it’s deity is so rigid (even at his most “forgiving”). “I am the Lord, your God and thou shalt have no other gods except me!” Gosh, Yahweh, when ya put it that way

What if the monotheist’s core assertion is wrong? What if there is a deity of sorts out there, but it’s not named Yahweh and the deity’s on a completely different mission than the knowledge-challenged Yahweh? What if Yahweh was as real as Harry Potter or Voldemort? Here’s the problem — if I base everything I think on a false premise — if Yahweh isn’t “the guy” despite what Yahweh cultists insist (what if Buddha cultists are right instead?) then literally everything that I do because I believe in Yahweh rests upon a flawed foundation. My core reason for doing anything is based on nonsense.

Or the wrong god maybe… .

The bottom line is this: religion itself is inert until a human being picks it up and puts it on. The “armor of Christ” that the Apostle Paul urged Christians to wear only becomes real and fully active inside a believer’s head. Even a “loving God” needs to be defended to the death.

I take it back. It’s not monotheism that’s made a mess of the world, it’s monotheists.